A Gray Area Ch. 07byDeity©
She didn't know how she had gotten dragged into it but somehow Deity had broken down her defenses and convinced her to come to their mom's house for a dinner party. Caden didn't know whether to be excited or depressed. It was nothing like Beatrice's dinner parties. It was the dinner party that Caden, Collin, Deity, Shane, and a few others used to have when they were younger. They set up a table in the basement and hung out.
Just like the old days.
The only difference was Jason would be joining them. Caden's younger sister had pleaded with her not to bring him but she had to. He was her boyfriend, she had explained. There were some things she just couldn't leave him out of. Deity had scoffed and hung up the phone. Lucky for her the conversation had been over.
And so there she was.
Standing in her mother's kitchen baking brownies.
"I can't believe this," she whispered to herself. "Caden, you are by far the dumbest girl in this hemisphere."
"Oh, I second that," Deity agreed. She walked over to the sink and began washing out a bowl. Caden smiled even though Deity's back was to her. The younger girls hair flowed freely over her shoulders and in wavy black curtain that was once again a perfect contrast to her light caramel skin. Deity looked over her shoulder at her sister.
"What?" she asked, suddenly aware of herself. She looked down at her clothes then back up at Caden. "Something on me?"
Caden shook her, looking into the oven at the brownies.
"You just look like dad," Caden whispered. She heard the black haired girl put down the bowl. "I get that a lot. Mom likes it when I stay in my room. That way she doesn't have to be reminded of him."
Deity's father had been so handsome. So smart. The perfect person for her mom who, when they first met, had been unselfish and chipper. Caden tried her best to remember everything when it came to him.
She tried to remember how he would always tuck her in while saying 'good night star light' then have her reply 'sleep tight moon bright.'
She remembered the argument they both had on Caden's tenth birthday. She had been completely out of line.
'Your not even my real dad!' she had screamed.
'I've been trying to make up for that' he had replied calmly. He had always been the peacekeeper.
'Well your not doing a good job! I want my real daddy!'
'We don't know where your real daddy is, Cay. But I'm trying to make up for it.'
Caden felt warm hands around her face and looked over to see her sister in front of her. "Don't think about it. You know he is where he needs to be." She said quietly. Caden nodded. Deity was right. A silence passed between them before Deity turned back to washing dishes. "Everyone should be getting here soon. The food should get here before they do though. Hopefully."
As if on cue the doorbell rang playing out a ridiculously drawn out melody. Caden turned to the door about to race to it but Deity was already in front of her pushing her sister back.
Deity reached the door first, swinging it open.
Shane O'Cyrus stood on their doorstep with Collin behind him.
Deity's face scrunched up in anger and she slammed the door in their face. "What the hell is he doing here?" she asked making sure he could hear her through the door. Candice Winter walked out from the guest room, an amber colored liquid filling a wine glass in her hand. "Who's here?"
"Ma, did you invite Shane over?" Caden asked. Inside she was hoping the women would say no but knew the truth.
"Of course. Officer O'Cyrus is a friend to this family." Candice's words were slurred letting the two girls know she was not on her first drink. Deity looked at Caden, mouthing the word 'no'. Caden shrugged then opened the door again. This time a third body stood outside, his dirty blonde hair poking out from behind Collin.
Caden shut the door.
"Ma! Tell me you didn't invite him."
"Invite who, baby?'
"You know who!"
"Jon, Ma," Deity filled in.
"Oh," Candice said. A small giggle coming from her lips. "Course I didn't. I just told Collin to bring a friend. We still have those girls coming over too. Your friends from high school, Caden."
"Ma, They are not coming in here," Caden whined.
Jason walked into the foyer from the pool room, disturbed by all the whining. "Who isn't coming in here?" He looked at all the women in the room.
"Oh, stop it you two."
Candice sauntered over to the front door and swung it open. "Boys. Come in." She side stepped so they could walk in. They filed in and Caden could feel her heart melting. She looked at Jason. Then at Jon. Warning bells were going off in her head. If Jason heard the name Jon there would be trouble. The shorthaired girl looked at her sister who was giving Shane a dirty look. She couldn't begin to imagine how Deity felt.
"I cant believe you, Ma," Deity huffed, walking passed everyone, going back into the kitchen. She gave Collin a quick wave before disappearing. Collin looked at Caden and shrugged. She shrugged too but backed into the kitchen too just as the door bell was ringing.
Reaching the sink Deity turned quickly on her heal to look at Caden who was right behind her. "This is bullshit," Deity whispered sharply. "I told mom to invite Collin, Ann Marie, Eliza and a few others. Not Shane!"
And Jon..." Caden trailed off. Both girls were distressed. For one of them, the night was not going to end well.
"Caden!" a high pitched squeal made both girls jump away from each other. Eliza Alvarado leaped over to the shorthaired girl and wrapped her arms around her. "Oh my God, girl, where have you been?" She cried again pulling Caden away. She looked at her up and down. "You have grown!" Eliza walked around her a few times before saying, "And look at that ass. Someone has been generous." If Caden was lighter she was sure that the heat that flushed across her face would have color. She wished she had thrown something better on then just a faded vintage shirt and ripped jeans.
Eliza looked at Deity then. "And there is the trouble maker," she said flatly. She strolled over to Deity and pulled her into a tight hug. "Ay dios mío chica. Que paso?" She asked in Spanish. Deity shrugged. She replied back that nothing but life sucked being in the house all day. Caden smiled and moved to check the brownies.
Eliza and Deity left the kitchen and even in the foyer she could here the Hispanic girl talking up a storm. Caden had to smile. Eliza and her had been friends in high school. Best friends. But in the middle of Eliza's sophomore year she was forced to leave for Puerto Rico. It had been a while. It was always good to see an old face.
Caden peeked in the oven. She was so close to giving up on the brownies. As bad as she was craving chocolate, standing in front of an oven did not make it worth it.
"Honey," Candice swaggered into the kitchen. Her glass was full again. "Baby, go down and hang out with your friends. I'll take care of this." C.K.'s mother pushed her daughter away from the oven, and for a second Caden half expected her step dad to walk in.
'Cay, go down and hang out with your friends," he would say. 'Your mother has had a little bit too much to drink so I'm gonna put her to bed.' By the end of his sentence Caden would figure out that he is drunk too and smile. "Did you here me, baby? Go" her mother shooed her away from the kitchen.
She followed the long hallway that slowly reclined downwards and turned into the basement. Through the door she could here the muffled hum of voices then laughter. Caden gripped the door and opened it slowly. Nine people surrounded a large table packed with pizza, breadsticks, cokes and beer. In the short time they had already dug into all of the food but had left some, a little, for her. She walked in completely and took a seat in between Jason and Deity.
As if she had never come in everyone continued talking. Shane spoke softly with Collin. Jon listened to Eliza and Deity argue over nonsense. Jason talked with Ann Marie, Eliza's sister. A blonde girl sat in between Jon and Collin which Deity recognized to be Emilia, an old, old friend of Caden's. Emilia smiled at her then cut into Jon and Collins conversation.
"It's been a while, huh everyone?" Collin spoke up. He had gotten annoyed with Emilia cutting into their conversation and decided to make a group discussion. He took a swig of his beer and sat forward in his hair. The overhead light made his light eyes an eerie color.
"We haven't done this in a while," he reiterated after swallowing. "Remember the good old days?" he asked looking at everyone. Caden smiled. They were all listening. Smiling. Nodding. Collin pointed to Caden. "Caden is older now. She has a successful photography career." He pointed to Shane. "Officer Shane O'Cyrus is now Detective Shane O'Cyrus." A few good jobs flew across the table. Deity watched as Jon patted his cousin on the back. Shane's eyes met briefly with hers before she turned away. "Jon is still trying to be a rock star."
"I'm gonna get there," Jon said, a big smile on his face. Caden couldn't help but smile but she made it quick.
"Eliza and Ann Marie are back in America, Emilia is becoming a lawyer, and me...Well, I'm just rich," he ended his speech with a smug smile and everyone couldn't help but laugh. "What about Jason?" Jon asked. He looked at Caden then at her boyfriend. Caden hadn't felt the tension in the air until Jon spoke. Jason and Jon looked at each other for a second before Jon said, "What about you, Jason. What have you been up to?" Jon spoke to him as if they had known each other for ever but his casual tone wasn't getting passed Jason. "I have a modeling career." Caribbean Ken answered flatly. Deity smiled and wiped her mouth trying to suppress a giggle. Caden threw a bottle cap at her but the brown haired girl was smiling too.
"Sounds like a decent life," Jon's smile was wide like Deity's.
Across the table Eliza was trying to get Caden's attention. 'A model?' she mouthed. When Caden nodded the Spanish girl scrunched up her nose and made a gross retching sound. Ironically no one looked at her. Caden could only shrug. 'You should be dating a rock star' Eliza smiled. She wiggled her eyebrows and then looked over at Jon. Caden caught the hint.
What was up with everyone?
All of California was trying to hook her up with Jon. She felt like the main character in some cheesy teenage drama film.
As a new conversation began at the table Caden excused herself to return to the kitchen. It was stifling in that room. Candice had gone upstairs. The heavy smell of brownies lingered in the air with her mothers perfume and the scent of alcohol.
Caden leaned against the counter, folding her arms. Count on mom to follow up on something she said she would do.
"You okay?" a voice said from the kitchen doorway.
She knew it was Jon without having to turn around. The sound of his voice alone metled into her. She was becoming too used to the run ins she was having with him. The thought of becoming close to him again scared her. This had to stop.
Caden didn't reply. She looked at him then down at her feet. She focused her thoughts on other things. Like most kids, Caden was taught that if you ignore them, they would leave you alone. Jon didn't seem to get that concept. "You look sort of stressed out. Wanna talk about it?"
Caden scrunched her eyebrows and looked up at the dirty blonde haired man. "That is the stupidest thing anyone has ever asked me. If I did have a problem, why on God's green earth would I discuss it with you?" Jon shrugged. He had been expecting that reaction. When he looked back up at her his smile made her heart skip a beat. He had a rock star smile. The kind of smile she could get used to loo—
"Just leave me alone Jon, please. I talk to you yesterday and I told you that I didn't want to be friends or anything of the such with you. You're smart. Catch a hint."
He leaned on the counter next to her. "Who was that girl Jason came to Beatrice's place with?" Caden opened her mouth to speak but nothing came out. "And I never found out why you were crying yesterday. Didn't exactly get the chance to ask you but now I do. What happened?"
The gray-eyed girl was in a state of shock. Why did he care if she was crying? That was none of this business. But it seemed like he did care. If he didn't why would he ask?
"Jason's co-worker," she answered before even being aware of it. "Some hot shot blonde Barbie. Her boobs are fake. Bet you could have seen that one a mile away." Caden continued. In her head she was screaming at herself. 'What are you doing? Conversing with the enemy is unacceptable!' "But you like your girls all plastic and perfect so I'm sure she caught your interest." Caden gave herself a little smirk. She had needed to back up everything she had just said so it didn't look as if it was a regular conversation. Caden risked a glance at him. He was looking at her intently. His eyes running down her hips then back up to her face.
"Actually," he countered, licking his lips and smiling. "I like my girls au natural."
The look he was giving her made her heart stutter but she didn't show her emotions on her face. "Your such a fucking flirt, Jon. Get over yourself."
Jon gave a heartfelt chuckle. "I'm kidding," he reassured her and for some reason hearing those words made her heart hurt. She was hoping that he wasn't really kidding.
"I saw some of your—"
"Why are you talking to me?" There it was. Bam. She had re-erected the Great Wall Of Caden to stop Jon's invasion. "We aren't supposed to be talking...please just go away."
"I saw some of your photographs," he continued as if he hadn't even heard her. "Black and white? That's...cliché,"
Caden fully turned to him, her face portraying the things she was about to say to him. "Cliché? My photographs are cliché? And what, dear Jon, do you know about cliché?" she folded her arms, waiting for him to impart some all knowing Jon wisdom on her.
The dirty blonde man shrugged. "I know that when you were younger you hated black and white pictures because they reminded you of some teenager with a digital camera and good software program." He took a step towards her and tapped a finger under her chin once. "Don't tell me Ken doll in there has stifled your muse." Caden looked at him for a long time. "There is nothing wrong with my pictures. I'm just going through a black and white phase, it happens. And what do you know about muses and clichés? What are you doing right now?" She scoffed and gave a sarcastic smile. "Oh, yeah. Chasing the American dream. Trying' to be a rock star."
"From what I recall it was more like your dream. Wasn't it you that said I looked good with my shirt off and a guitar in my arms? Or no, wait...was it with my shirt off and you in my arms?" He was laughing but Caden wasn't. She had said that. Both of those things.
He had no idea what he was doing.
He was playing with her.
"But on a more serious note," he said, shaking of a few more chuckles. "I saw them. And I liked them. Definitely you. You should try going out onto the bridge in town and taking pictures from there. You might see something you like." The smile he gave her was genuine. She even considered giving him one back but stopped herself.
"Aren't you gonna ask me how the rock star life is coming along?" he asked.
"Didn't you figure that I would ask if I cared?" she countered.
"If we were friends you would ask but were not so I had to kinda impose the question." Caden opened to the stove and took out the brownies. "Impose away," she muttered.
"Oh Jon, how is the rock star life treating you?" Jons voice was high pitched as he imitated Caden. He answered himself in his normal pitch saying, "Well Caden, the rock star life is a very difficult one that requires a lot of concentration and crafty skill with words." He went back to being Caden. "Oh Wow, Jon. You should write me a song. In fact, why don't you make me a mix tape and maybe play it outside my condo one day?"
Caden had been holding it in but she couldn't help but laugh. "And that, my friend, is against the law," Jon laughed now too. It had been a while since they shared a moment like that together. Caden went silent as she reveled in it. She gazed it him for a long while, holding his hazel eyes then turning back to counter, preparing to take the brownies out of the pan.
"Things are really different between us aren't they?" Jon asked. Caden swallowed not wanting to tell him what he already knew. Even if her and Jon became close like they were years ago it would always be awkward. Jon had confessed his feelings for her. He had told her how he felt and that put a rift in the relationship.
"You know the answer to that," Caden murmured.
"No. No, I don't. Do you love him?" She dropped the brownie she had been holding. She didn't dare look at him. "Do you?"
"That's not your business."
"You don't, do you? You don't even know what your doing."
"Don't psychoanalyze me, Jon. You don't know me." With those words Jon advanced on her crowding her up to the sink. She stood on the toes between Jon and the sink and stared up at him as he looked past her eyes and into her soul.
"Kitten," his voice was a rough whisper that breathed against her face. "I know you better than anyone in this world. You know that. I know that. I think even Jason knows that. Stop lying to yourself about everything." She pushed him away from her. "I don't lie to myself. I do love him. He loves me. I'm happy like that."
Jon smiled. He nodded, backing away. "Of course you are."
He turned to walk out of kitchen but not before hearing. "I'm sorry."
Caden glanced at the wall Jon had disappeared behind. "For what?" she asked quietly.
When no answer came Caden assumed he had walked back downstairs. "For everything." A voice finally said. Heavy footsteps echoed through the kitchen and foyer before disappearing downstairs.
"Don't apologize," Caden said to no one. "You did nothing wrong."
He could have kissed her.
He was going to kiss her.
He had had everything planned out in his head but she had foiled his plot by pushing him away. Not just physically but emotionally. Every time he threw his emotions at her, he hit a wall that she proudly erected. The Great Wall of Caden. The one thing stopping him from her besides Jason.
He had seen the look in her eyes.
'I love him. He loves me.' But her gray eyes had said differently. Her eyes had clearly yelled to him 'I don't know what to do anymore. I'm confused.' She was playing her relationship with Jason by ear and it wasn't working. She was going through motions it seemed. Why hadn't she known about the bridge and the lake? The old Caden would have gone exploring to see what was new in her old town but then again this was the new Caden. He wasn't too sure if he liked her. The new Caden. She was quiet and unsure of herself. She pretended too much. She was fake but only when it came to herself. She needed help. Jon's help.
For a second he glad he didn't kiss her. But only for a second. His kiss would have done nothing but make her more confused. That wouldn't help his cause at all.
And she had smiled at him. Laughed at him. With him. He was getting somewhere. He was getting straight to the center. The night before she barely wanted to see his face and now she was laughing with him. 'This could end well,' he told himself.
'You're such a fucking flirt Jon.' Yeah. He knew. But only when it came to her. Only when it involved Caden.
Jon had made his way back down into the basement that was in an uproar of laughter. No one glanced at him as he took hi same seat once again but when he looked across the table Jason was glaring at him hard. "Where's Caden?" he asked. Jon could barely hear him over the laughter and Emilia saying something in Spanish. Jon shrugged and mouthed the words 'I don't know.' Jasons lips tightened into a line. He sat back in his chair folding his arms. His muscles bulged slightly and Jon couldn't help but wonder if it the man was trying to intimidate him.