A Gray Area Ch. 14byDeity©
Caden heard the phone ringing. She had been hearing the phone's ring since that afternoon but had ignored it effortlessly. She turned over on her couch and stared at her DVD clock. It was eight at night. She had slept through the day, getting up a few times to use the bathroom, and then had gone right back to her bed on the couch, restlessly turning for a few hours trying to find a comfortable position.
Her phone began ringing again and this time her pursuer let it go all the way to her answering machine. She sighed, waiting for her mother's voice reprimanding her. Instead she heard Shane's warm voice, "You figure you would learn your lesson the first time something happened and you didn't answer your phone, but count on Cady not to pick up. So should I play weak and powerless to get you to answer? Okay, hold on, I'll do it. "He took a deep breath. On the couch, Caden smiled in anticipation. She had never heard the man even pretend to be helpless so this would be good. "Ouch," he said. The monotony of the statement made her bust out laughing. "Ouch. Caden, my arm has just been cut off. Oh, ow. Help. Please call me back before I die." He continued his monotonous ranting for another few seconds before the machine beeped, cutting him off. Caden rushed to the bathroom pressing the save button on the way in. She had laughed so hard she thought her bladder was gonna burst.
Quietly scrutinizing, Cady watched herself in the bathroom mirror while she washed her hands. Her light chocolate skin looked dark in the bathroom light. Her new hair cut looked untidy and stuck up in all different directions but still, strangely, suited her. Her gray eyes seemed tired. She had slept probably more than what was necessary for a normal day. Her jeans looked ruffled. She had gone straight to sleep after arriving home last night and hadn't bothered to even change her clothes. She dried her hands on her jeans and stripped them off, leaving them on the bathroom floor. She would take care of them later. Her stomach growled in agreement as she made her way down the hallway towards the kitchen. As she passed the kitchen, the phone rang again and she picked it up in a smooth motion.
"Can we save the arm?" Caden asked, not needing to check the caller ID or ask who it was. Shane laughed on the other line. "Yes, yes. The arm can be saved. No thanks to you, of course." Caden removed the mayo, mustard, lettuce, and turkey from the fridge and set it noisily on the counter. "I was having a relaxing day. Sorry 'bout the arm."
"I'll live. Any word from Deity?" He asked, getting to the point. Caden dropped the knife she had pulled out and it barely missed her feet. "Fuck!" she yelled. "No," she replied, bringing it back up. "No, have you?" She sighed.
No. He hadn't. And he wasn't going to.
Deity wouldn't call until something went really wrong. Until she was halfway dead in a ditch or knocked-up on the other side of the country. She was independent by nature but Caden didn't feel the need to remind Shane of that.
"Just give her time."
"What were you two talking about when she left?" He asked.
"You. I was asking her why she wouldn't go out with you, just once. A movie and dinner."
Shane waited a second before asking his next question. "What did she say?"
"She said you were the enemy. You arrested her and she doesn't want to be with someone that she doesn't know she can trust." Caden slapped some mayo on the bread of her sandwich. She threw on a few slices of turkey and a lot of lettuce. "You don't have to play matchmaker with me and her. If I'm not what she once then...I hope she finds someone that she wants."
Caden lifted her sandwich, caught a few falling pieces of lettuce, then shoved a whole corner into her mouth. Shane waited patiently for her to swallow. "I will never understand how you stay skinny," He murmured.
"Shane," she addressed him finally. "She's still young. Almost ten years your junior. Your partying hormones are gone. You're ready to settle down. Dee isn't. She wants something different than you. She wants... she just doesn't want a relationship." She filled her mouth with another big bite while Shane talked. "I'm not looking to settle down and marry her-" a small silence passed "-yet. I just want her to be safe and with someone that cares about her. Caden you see how she is. She'll be dead by the time she's 25 at this rate. I'm pretty sure the only drug she hasn't done is heroine and God forbid she gets over her fear of needles."
"I tr—" The loud chime of the doorbell echoed throughout the condo, cutting of C.K.'s sentence. "Someone's at your door." Shane said. Caden scoffed, setting down her sandwich. "Nu uh. I would have never known. Thanks." She walked to the front door, peeping through the hole. It was black. "If you're outside my door," she warned. She flipped the lock and opened it halfway, exposing only her upper body. "I'm going too—Jon." Shane laughed on the other line. Caden stood frozen at the door, letting it swing open completely. Jon stood with two bags in his arms. One plastic and the other paper. Instead of his eyes meeting her gaze, they drifted down to her bare legs. He looked his fill barely making an attempt to avert his eyes. Finally his eyes met hers, cloudy with something that she didn't want to name. "Spider man," he said, his voice husky. Caden burned with embarrassment. She grabbed the door pulling it in front of her lower body.
"Hey, let me call you back." She said to Shane. He was still laughing, not being able to see what was going on, but knowing.
"You better," he warned. Caden went to push the button when she heard him yell. "What?" She asked, putting it back to her ear.
"I really didn't call to talk about Dee. I called about that rape thing she mentioned." Caden sighed. "Alright." She groaned trying to talk over him but his deep tenor still overpowered hers. "And you are going to call me back and you are going to tell me what that was about."
"Bye, Shane." She hung up before he could add anything. Jon still stood looking at her, a small smile playing on his perfect lips. Caden put up her index finger, silently asking for a minute. Jon nodded. Caden left him at the door for a second then came back. "Actually I need to shower, why don't you come in here and just make yourself at home." Caden ran from the door this time, sprinting into her hallway then into the bathroom. Over the bathroom fan she heard the front door slam and Jon set down his bags.
C.K. stripped off her shirt and bra, tossing it next to her jeans. She stared at herself in the mirror. "You just had to wear the Spider Man ones." She criticized herself, poking at the elastic of her little boy's underwear. She hated feminine panties. Ever since she had been a teenager she favored little boy's underwear. They had always made her feel sexy, simply because her butt actually looked big in them.
'Jon likes Iron Man' she reminded herself. 'You should have worn the Iron man ones.' But she didn't hold it against herself. How was she supposed to know he was going to show up? She dropped her panties and hopped into the shower, turning the water on as hot as it will go.
C.K. made sure not to shower long. She scrubbed quickly but thoroughly and came out, not wanting to keep her unexpected guest waiting. Her stomach growled uncontrollably as she threw on some new clothes. This time she made sure to wear her Iron Man underwear, just for her own reassurance. Caden sat down on her bed when she finished. Outside Jon wasn't trying to hide the fact that he was walking around, looking at the art that she had just put back on her walls. The art that Jason had hated.
"Where did you get this one from?" he called out, knowing she was in her room. That was her cue. It was time for her to come out and entertain; never mind the butterflies that hit the walls of her stomach. "Which one?" She asked checking herself in the mirror again before walking out to meet him in the living room.
He stood in front of Caden's favorite picture, glaring at it, scrutinizing it. She came beside him, looking at it. He glanced at her and she returned it, a proud smile on her lips. "A man in central park painted it." She explained, folding her arms. "He said he painted it thirty years ago and to this day no one ever bought it." She shrugged when he turned to her. "I loved it. Still to this day can't figure out why no one bought it."
Caden walked leisurely into the kitchen, continuing the conversation as she opened the paper bag he brought.
Thank the Lord.
She was starving. Beyond starving. Ravenous. Her turkey sandwich had done nothing to sate her appetite. "I got general Tso's chicken and fried rice. The egg foo yung is mine." When Caden lifted it from the bag he walked over, taking it from her hands. "What's in the plastic one?" Caden took a peak and smiled. "Peanut butter Cups Ice Cream....my favorite." Jon shrugged. He moved into the kitchen and leaned up against the wall next to the fridge. She covered the ice cream back up.
"So, what brings you here?" She placed the ice cream in the freezer.
"Visiting. Are-" he chuckled to himself "- are you wearing pants under that?"
Caden looked down at herself. She had thrown on a large sweater that barely went mid-thigh. She answered him by lifting up the sweater to show yellow shorts. Really short shorts. Jon laughed again to himself. He walked into the kitchen and a small squeak let her know he had taken a seat on her couch. She grabbed her food along with a fork and joined him. He had already dug into his egg foo yung.
"Someone's hungry," she taunted, giving him a playful smile before taking a bite of her chicken. The tangy sauce was a relief to the bland taste of her sandwich that still lingered in her mouth. She chewed for longer than what was needed and shoved a few forkfuls of fried rice in with the chicken, uncaring that Jon was sitting next to her. Well, she hadn't cared until she looked up and saw him watching her, his hazel eyes carrying a smile.
"Someone's hungry," he said quietly. His egg foo yung was set aside on the coffee table along with his cop sticks and he watched her intently, a small smile tugging at his lips.
Caden opened her mouth to speak, forgetting that she had shoveled a few forkfuls of good in her mouth, and began coughing on a grain of rice. Jon leaned forward, eager to help but she held up a shaky hand.
"I'll be alright," she rasped out in between a few more coughs. "It's just rice." She took a few cautious breaths, hands gripping her neck, face half way down on the couch.
Two. Three. She was alright. Jon placed his hand on her back and began languidly rubbing back and forth. The warmth from his hand radiated through her whole body. 'God, what kind of idiot chokes on a grain of rice?' She asked herself. Her face, still inches away form the seat of the couch, burned hot.
"Cady?" Jon asked. She could feel his warm breath on her ear and it was then she realized that she was keeled over on her couch. She looked as if she was having bad cramps.
"What?" Caden straightened up, looking in right in the eyes as if nothing had happened. Jon flashed his teeth in a half mouth smile. "Nothing. You just stopped breathing. I got worried."
Brilliant. Her face burned hotter. "I was rubbing your back and I didn't feel you exhale."
'That's because I didn't," she wanted to say. She had hoped that if she stopped breathing she could stop time too. Maybe he would keep touching her. "Maybe I should lay off the Chinese for a few minutes." Jon took her plate for her lap before she could finish her sentence. He reached down and brushed away a few stray grains of rice that hung by her shirt. "Oh my God, I'm a fucking idiot," she murmured. Jon laughed and continued brushing. He took special care not to brush down into her lap where the rest of the rice had slipped but he looked at her.
She knew he was considering it. He knew she knew. "I'm gonna change my shirt." She whispered. Cady stood up only to be pulled back down. "Leave it," he told her, equally as quiet as her own voice. Caden held her breath again as his hazel eyes captured her gray ones. God, if he was looking into her soul, what did he see? Could he tell what she was feeling?
He was so close, she realized. When the blonde haired boy had pulled her down he had pulled her practically into his lap. If he leaned any closer to her he would definitely be invading her personal space-not that she would mind.
"You alright now?" He asked, voice still just above a whisper. Caden nodded because it was all she could do. "Good." He looked down at her lips, then back at her eyes. His warm hands brushed a few misplaced strands of her out of her face. "Good." He mouthed and leaned forward, invading her personal space just like she hoped he would.
"Ms. Kristoff?" A loud bang at her front door made her jump away from Jon, just as the heat of his lips met with hers.
Jon pulled away from her reluctantly and sat looking at the door, as if daring it to make another sound. It did. Louder this time.
"Ms. Kristoff, are you there?"
Caden sighed. Of all the fucking times-"It's my freaking landlord." She cleared the back of the couch.
"You have a landlord?" She heard Jon asked as her fingers closed around the doorknob. "Yup—" she opened the door, plastering a huge fake smile on-"Mrs. Fentonheim. What a pleasu—"
"Save it, girly." Mrs. Fentonheim was the exact definition of bitter. Not only did her tone of voice show it but also the way she carried herself. Her gray hair was plastered neatly to her wrinkled scalp and her clothes were dirty with what could have been spaghetti sauce or blood.
She pushed herself passed Caden, not even bothering to ask for permission to enter. Her eyes scouted the living room, suspiciously. "What's that smell?" Mrs. Fentonheim asked. She gave a few animalistic sniffs that made Jon smile. Behind her Caden mouthed the words 'I'm sorry' when he looked at her. Jon shrugged, telling her it was no problem.
Fentonheim looked back at Caden and the younger girl straightened up. "What's that smell?" she asked again, hobbling over to where Cady stood, with her fake smile still neatly set. "Chinese food, Mrs. Fentonheim. Would you like some?"
Of course the hag didn't want any; she could barely digest her own spit without having a massive coronary. Caden's smile became real as the unbidden thought ran through her head. It was rude, yes, but how dare she interrupt perfection in the making. He had almost kissed her. And God only knows what that could have led to; would have led to.
Jon walked up to Fentonheim and extended a hand. "Nice to meet you, Ma'am. I'm Jon." Fentonheim gave Jon a thorough once over then did the same for Caden. C.K. knew that look. She knew it well and she knew what was coming. Fentonheim opened her mouth-here it came.
"You know back in my day, this wasn't permitted." There it was. Jon looked up at Caden, giving her a puzzled look. "What wasn't permitted?" He asked. C.K. gave him a hard look. She turned to the bitter old woman. "Mrs. Fentonheim, maybe you should get going—"
"This." The old women's fingers varied positions from the north to the south, indicating the two that stood around her. Caden tried again to guide her landlord out but Jon cut in.
"I'm sorry, ma'am, but what is 'this'?"
"Jon—" Cady tried again.
"This! Black and White. Back when I was a girl it was frowned upon as it still should be." She turned to Caden who stood with her hands in the pockets of her invisible short shorts. She gave the girl a thorough once over again before continuing. "You should stick to your own race and leave ours alone."
Caden sounded exasperated when she spoke this time. "I'm sorry you feel that way but maybe you should get going. It's kind of late. Thank you for coming over but why did you come by?"
The old lady threw a thick pile of envelops on the floor at Caden's feet. "I brought your mail. Try not to leave it down at the front desk for a month next time- what would your parents say to you, young man, if they saw you here with...her?" Fentonheim's attention had shifted so quickly that C.K. hadn't even realized she wasn't being spoken to anymore.
"Nothing." Jon answered. The defiance in his voice was thick. His arms were folded across his chest. "They wouldn't say anything because they aren't living in the eighteen hundreds like you, ma'am." The comment seemed not to faze the older woman. "Well your family didn't raise you right. This is America. They should have taught you good American values."
"Good American values like what?"
"Like not cavorting around with someone that isn't of our race."
Jon smiled, but it was bitter. Caden felt his anger reach a boiling point. She knew he hated racism. This conversation was not going to end pretty, she could already see that.
"Not cavorting with people that aren't our race." He echoed. Fentonheim nodded firmly. She really believed in what she was saying and that made Caden sick to her stomach. This was not the first time she had had an encounter with the old woman's beliefs. Jason had gotten the same talk but less thoroughly.
'Blacks and blacks; whites and whites; Latinos and Latinos; Asians and Asians and all those other races out there,' she had yelled at him. Jason had soaked it all in, not even caring for anything the landlord had to say. Jon on the other hand was taking this personally. It made Caden's heart warm. Was he defending his beliefs or his feelings for her?
'The latter of the two, I hope.'
"I hope to God you aren't fucking her." Fentonheim exclaimed.
"Oh Jesus Christ," Caden murmured. "This is fucking ridiculous."
"What if I am?" Jon dared. He rocked back on the balls of his feet and gave bitter Fentonheim a challenging look. "What if every night, I come home from a hard day of work and fuck her right where you're standing." As if on cue, Fentonheim moved from her place. Fast. Faster than Caden thought possible for someone her age. "And what if I like it?" He added. His eyes met Caden's briefly but she felt her body heat from the look. For a second she felt lightheaded and dizzy. It took sheer will for her legs to not give out.
"You ought to be ashamed of yourself." Fentonheim said. She looked disturbed. Deeply so. Her eyes turned to meet Caden's. "Both of you. You should beg for forgiveness to whatever god you pray to."
"Then please," Jon whispered, pushing the old woman out of his way, striding up to Caden. Long, purposeful steps. "Forgive me for this."
He pushed his body hard against Caden's and found her lips with the same amount of energy and pressure. His hands found their way in her hair and on her hips gripping her, roughly as his tongue forced itself into her mouth. She was caught of guard by the roughness and force of the kiss. She was caught of guard by the kiss itself. Still, slightly dazed, she allowed him entrance into her mouth and sighed against him just as his body relaxed and then broke away. He tore his lips from hers, not giving her enough time to even savor the feel of his. Jon held her gaze for longer than probably what was appropriate. The hazel depths left a promise that she couldn't decipher. But whatever it was, she wanted it. He looked away from her, meeting the startled and somewhat mortified gaze of Mrs. Fentonheim.
"How dare you." She whispered, almost mouthing the words. Jon's face curled into a smug smile.
"I said forgive me."
Cady's landlord's eyes looked up and down the two of them and she reluctantly followed her gaze.
He was still pressed against her. His body was tightly welded against hers, pushing her roughly into the wall. And dear God...she could feel him, hard as a rock. She looked back up at him, watching only his profile. He continued his challenging gaze at the older woman. She crumbled under the pressure. "You ought to be ashamed," she said again, and fumbled with the door, trying to make an escape.