tagRomance1: Educating Kaylee Ch. 09

1: Educating Kaylee Ch. 09


XIII -- But We Need To Talk

"What do you mean he took off," Kaylee heard Ryan whisper to Jeff, angrily but softly, as she opened the bathroom door.

"Dude," Jeff whispered back in his deep voice, unaware their conversation was no longer private, "I don't know. I mean, I gave him his phone; he had a voicemail so he called it, and whoever left that message really pissed him off. I've never seen your boy so angry. He just tossed me the phone and bolted."

Kaylee, standing in the doorway, gasped loud enough for the two men to hear her. They froze, halting their conversation, slowly turning towards her.

It's all my fault! OhmyGod please no, I can't believe this is happening, was all she could think, recalling the nasty voicemail she sent him.

"Kaylee, are you ok," Ryan asked her gently. It was obvious to her that Luke's dad was up to date on the latest "Luke-and-Kaylee" drama.

Kaylee wanted to cry, but she was in too much shock. She felt sick to her stomach.

She ran towards Jeff, snatching the phone out of his hand, and then ran out of the house. All she could think of was finding Luke. It was like the time when he ran out of the house after she saw Aaron's old videos of Luke pouring his heart out, trying to chase him down, except this time it was much, much worse. The last time he left was because of embarrassment but this time it was because of anger.

Anger at her.

He couldn't have gone far since his Challenger was totaled and his mom and dad's car were still at the house, meaning he left by foot. She couldn't chase him down barefoot, so she ran to her car.

Ryan ran after her calling, "Kaylee, wait!"

Without hesitation Kaylee jumped inside and took off, ignoring him.

Driving down the road, fumbling with her seatbelt, she frantically dialed Luke's voicemail on his phone as if she had to hear the evidence of her own self-destruction with her own ears.

No, no, no... this is not happening, please Lord... this is NOT happening!

The phone chimed, "You have one message, sent today, twelve-thirteen A.M."

She heard her own voice on his phone, spewing venomously, "Luke, you're a BASTARD! I can't believe you didn't show up for my play. I can't even believe..."

She hung up the phone in disgust, wiping her tears out of her eyes so she could see the road.

Kaylee was incredibly angry with herself, but then again, it was her anger that put her in this situation. Her uncontrollable, fiery temper. She had no one to blame but herself, and she knew it.

In a way, it was almost satirical; whenever her temper flared up in the past, even when used as a last resort, she would end up getting her own way. It didn't matter if it was with her parents or with her friends. Countless meltdowns and tantrums, kicking her legs and pounding her fists on the floor, worked like a charm until her preteen years. After that, if she really wanted something and was told no, all it usually took was screaming.

Thinking back, she realized it was early on in her life that she used her anger as a problem-solving tool. It was practically ingrained in her, like that one Russian guy with the bell and the dog. Throw a tantrum, parents give in. Throw a tantrum, parents give in.

Most of the guys she dated she didn't really need to throw a tantrum with. The ones she chose always did what she said, and in the rare instances that they didn't, all she had to do was pout and -- problem solved. Or just boot them, if she was bored enough. Most guys became stale and boring after a few months anyway.

But Luke wasn't most guys.

But here was something -- or, someone -- she wanted more than anything, and her anger completely backfired on her. Now she was likely to lose the only thing she ever really, truly cared about. Shakespeare would have a field day with this.

If only she had listened to Audrey! Of course Luke wouldn't have stood her up intentionally.

He was in a fucking car accident!

And where was she? Cursing at him behind his back. Exploding like an uncontrollable volcano. Kaylee wondered when the exact moment was that Luke's car flipped over. She wondered what she was doing. Was she off stage bitching to Audrey about how irresponsible he was? Was that the same moment in time when she told Audrey he was an asshole?

She had to find him and explain what happened, begging for forgiveness on her hands and knees if she had to. In the dirt, hands clasped together, reaching out for his foot. She couldn't get any lower, so it was only appropriate.

Desperation was new to her, but she'd grovel if she had to; she'd do anything to get him to take her back. He had to forgive her; he just had to.


"Kaylee, calm down, I can't understand a word you're saying," Audrey said, listening to the phone intently with her finger in her other ear, still lying in her bed.

"I-I-I..." Kaylee sobbed, trying to form a sentence.

"Kaylee, slow down. Focus, and take a deep breath."

"Luke... I left Luke a message. He..."

Audrey sighed, "Oh, Kaylee, please tell me you didn't blow up at him."

"Mmmhmm..." Kaylee whimpered.

"Ok, hun, I'll be right over. Just give me a few minutes to get dressed."


"I knew this was going to happen, Kaylee," Audrey sighed to herself as she rang the doorbell.

Kaylee answered the door; she looked terrible, and it wasn't because she had just awakened. In fact, Audrey guessed that as bad as she looked, she probably never went to bed. Whatever happened last night must have been really awful. Her dried mascara stained her face, but she wasn't crying anymore. It looked to Audrey like she had run out of tears.

This disheveled zombie-type look was frightening; Audrey would have rather seen Kaylee cry. This completely and utterly defeated look was something she had never seen from her best friend. It was obvious the stress of whatever happened had completely sapped her energy and drained her will.

Kaylee didn't so much as say hi. She left the door open and turned around, walking back. Audrey noted how her head hung and shoulders slouched as she walked, a far cry from her normal perfect-princess posture. This was bad, absolutely bad. How did Kaylee manage to push Luke away, and better yet turn her into the walking dead? Whatever she did, it was going to take a lot to undo. If it could be undone.

"I couldn't find him anywhere," Kaylee said without turning around. She fell forward and collapsed on the couch.

"Um," Audrey started, trying to figure out what she should say, "So what exactly happened, hun? Do you want to talk about it?"

No tears fell but her lip quivered as she answered, "I left Luke a really hurtful message. I called him a bastard and told him I never wanted to see again."

Audrey couldn't help but wince, and Kaylee noticed. "That's not the worst part. You were right; he wouldn't have missed my play if there wasn't a good reason for it."

For the first time, Kaylee made eye contact with Audrey. "He was in a car accident, Audrey. He flipped his fucking Challenger. To make matters even worse, he got out of his car and went to help the other car that crashed, dragging the guy out just before his car went up in flames. He... he was my hero, but when he did that... he became like a real hero. And I...I..."

Kaylee couldn't finish, but she couldn't cry either. Audrey moved over to the couch and sat next to her, letting Kaylee put her head on her shoulder. She sniffed, "Luke should be putting his head on my shoulder right now. I should be comforting him, and instead I chased him away. And I couldn't find him."

"Well," Audrey said, trying to encourage her, "He's probably at home now. Just give him some time; he's been through a lot. And then, when the time is right, you can e-bomb him with apologies and I'm-so-sorries."

Surprisingly, Audrey noticed Kaylee actually smiled when she said that; it wasn't a huge smile, but it proved that there were still signs of life within her.

She continued, "Maybe you can even call him. And if he doesn't pick up, at least he can hear your sweet loving voice on his voicemail."

Audrey lost her when she mentioned the word 'voicemail'; Kaylee broke out into a sob. Apparently it brought back painful memories of the last voicemail she left Luke. Audrey quickly added, trying to get Kaylee back on track, "Just let him know how sorry you are. You want him back, right?"

Kaylee nodded against her shoulder. "Then give him time, and be receptive. And if you need to vent, you know I'll always be here for you."

She sighed, "I just can't believe how badly I screwed up. I mean, not only have I lost Luke, but I also lost his entire family. His parents are so much better than mine! I mean, they're like better parents to me, even. They've showed me more attention and affection in the last few months than my parents have since I was born! His mother and I were finally starting to get along, which is saying something. Mother bear is so overprotective of him I thought she was going to claw my head off a few different times. Whenever I looked lustfully at Luke, she could tell. It was like she could sniff it out. So the fact that she was loosening up around me... and now I've done this! And Faith! She looked up to me, and I loved her like a little sister. She'll never speak to me again, and I don't blame her."

"Listen to me, hon. If they're really like your family, remember that families forgive each other. Even if it takes time. You're a great girl, and if they're as special as you say they are, they'll take you back in. Just be patient."

This time, Kaylee smiled a real smile, finding a possible narrow ray of hope shine down through the storm clouds. "Thank you, Audrey," she whispered. "You're a good friend."

Audrey snickered, "Oh, and one more piece of advice? Go take a shower and clean up. He probably won't be stopping by your house any time soon, but you never know. You don't want him to think you stink."

With a fatigued giggle, Kaylee flipped her off before she walked down the hall to take a shower. Audrey couldn't help but smile as she noticed there was at least a little bit of saunter back in her step, showing she was a little closer to that perfect-princess posture once again.


"I know it sucks, buddy," Ryan told Luke as he stepped into the garage. "But you can't keep moping around. It's been over a month since you and Kaylee broke up."

"Dad, I don't want to talk about it," Luke sighed, setting the weights down on the concrete floor of the garage. He went over to the shorter of the two workbenches to grab a towel and wipe the sweat off of his face.

"Alright, but at least I said it. Had to get it off of my chest. You don't need to leave if you don't want to talk about it." Ryan walked over to the longer workbench, the one with the tools scattered all over. "Your 'uncle' Jeff never cleans my crap up," Ryan sighed, grabbing a couple of wrenches and putting them back in the toolbox. "I only forgive him because he's helping fix up your Challenger. That man's good with his hands. I never was a natural mechanic; I always had to read about things, especially engines, in order to figure them out."

Stretching one of his arms behind his head, Luke gave a wry smile and said, "I guess that's where I get my lack of mechanical skills from then. I can't believe you guys were able to salvage the Challenger. I thought for sure it would be totaled."

"You have Jeff, Charlie, and the other guys at work to thank for that one. They're telling me it should be ready in a day or two. You'll still have a few scratches here and there, but for the most part it'll be as good as new. You really impressed a lot of people, buddy," Ryan told his son, putting a few more tools away. "Especially the guys at the firehouse."

Luke shrugged, as if to say, "I guess so," or "Maybe."

"Hey, speaking of which, graduation is sneaking up. Are you still looking at finishing up at Mountain View Community College?"

"Dad, you know I'll be half way done with Mountain View by the time I graduate since I'm taking so many courses and CLEP'ed out of the rest."

"Not what I asked. I know you're almost half way done, but you've seemed disenchanted ever since..., well, I'm not sure if it's because of the car crash or because of your split with Kaylee. You were lined up for USC at the beginning of the year, remember?"

Luke exhaled, "Dad, please don't start. Mom gives me enough grief about that."

Ryan smiled, moving towards the toolbox. He paused, and turned around to face Luke. "Your mom loves you, Luke. She just wants the best for you."

It was clear that Luke was getting frustrated and wanted to say something, but Ryan stopped him.

"Buddy, I just want to make sure you are doing what you want to be doing. I want to make sure you don't have any regrets. You're grades are good enough to get into just about any college in the country. Just like your mother, I want to see you do the best you possibly can and of course I would have liked to see you get into USC. But, you're practically an adult right now. I'm not going to force you to do what you don't want to do. I think not going to college at all is a mistake but whatever you do, I want you to push yourself, challenge yourself, and most of all I want you to be happy. After all, that's all a parent ever wants for his son or daughter."

Ryan could tell that his fatherly wisdom seemed to be sinking in by the way Luke paused to reflect on his words. He couldn't resist smiling on the inside, celebrating one of those rare 'I got through to him' victories. Of course he didn't want to tip his hand and let Luke know that.

"So, my question is what do you want to do with your life? What do you want to do after college?"

Ryan could tell Luke was pondering his words, but he shrugged and came up empty.

"Luke, whatever you want to do, just remember you were made to accomplish anything you set your mind to. Remember the kid you saved in the crash; that took guts. That took heart. Not everyone could have done what you did; not everyone would have had the courage. And above all, buddy, remember that God has a plan for you. Don't forget that. He has a purpose for your life."

Crossing his arms and looking downward, deep in thought, Luke slowly nodded, "You're right, dad. I know. I just..."

Like any teenager, it wasn't easy for him to talk to his parents about this kind of stuff. But Ryan was patient, and would wait all day if that's what it took. Luke breathed in, trying to reform his words.

He said, "I guess a lot has happened lately. I still remember the crash like it was yesterday. And then there's Kaylee. I really miss her. She taught me a lot."

Luke grew quiet as if he wanted to say more but was holding back.

Ryan gently broke the silence, asking, "Do you still hear from her?"

"Yeah, she still calls me sometimes. I really never called her back until last week. It's been nice talking to her. Still, I don't know if I'm ready again. She really hurt me, you know? That awful temper of hers..." he sighed. "And now, she's not really even the same person whenever we talk."

Ryan nodded in understanding. "She's probably just a little skittish right now. I know she's like the Princess of the high school, but she's crazy about you. Well," he said, shrugging, "at least that's what your mom tells me. She's good at figuring these things out." Jessica and Ryan had talked about Luke and Kaylee on more than one occasion. After much disagreement over the last several months, Ryan had recently come around, realizing Jessica was probably right. After all, she had an incredible knack for understanding people and knowing what they like and dislike, probably one of the many reasons that made her salon and day spa such a successful business endeavor.

"But," he continued, "My point is, she's scared to death of losing you, and as a result, she's not acting like herself. She doesn't want to do anything stupid, so she's walking on eggshells around you."

Luke didn't say anything, but he was clearly soaking up his father's words.

"Anyway," Ryan said, closing up the tool cabinet, "Just think about what I said. Think about what you want for your future, don't be afraid of challenges, and do what makes you happy. That's all me and your mom can ask for as a parent."

With a wink Ryan grabbed a dirty rag, wiped off his hands, and left the garage.


Several months had gone by since what Luke had affectionately called "The Accident" had passed, and this was the first time he was finally able to drive his car again. The Challenger was a little worse for wear, but several of his dad's buddies at the fire station gladly volunteered their time to help fix it up the best that they could. It was no secret that they admired Luke's bravery, risking his life to save another, and they couldn't think of a better way to tell him thanks.

Luke maintained his humbleness throughout the entire ordeal, avoiding the spotlight the best he could. He would have felt a little more awkward about everything if he wasn't sharp enough to realize his fifteen minutes of fame wouldn't last long, and it was just a matter of waiting patiently until things returned to normal.

Considering his car flipped over, it wasn't really in that bad of shape. The engine and the entire undercarriage held out, amazingly enough. Luke thought for sure the front axle would have been shot, but the American steel stayed strong.

The majority of the damage was external. Almost all of the lights and windows had to be replaced and the body was severely banged up, especially the roof and the entire drivers side. Most of the crushed or dented panels had been replaced, but there were still a few sections with minor scratches he'd have to manage to live with.

There was something about getting back in the Challenger, the feeling of melding into the leather bucket seats, his fingers wrapped around the steering wheel, that told him it was time to move on. Maybe if his Dodge could be patched up, all of the damage between Kaylee and him could be, too.

Luke sat in his newly restored Challenger just a block away from Kaylee's house. His left hand sat in his lap while his right hand rested on the gearshift, both trembling slightly. The accident weighed heavily on his mind, but reflecting on the disastrous crash wasn't why his hands were shaking.

Luke knew that he should have taken this opportunity to cruise the open freeway, windows down and taking in the cross breeze, but he instead decided to call Kaylee to see if she wanted to talk in person. He wasn't looking forward to talking to her; it would be the first time he had seen her in person in the last few months, but it was something that had to be done.

He glanced at the clock again confirming that he'd been sitting in the car doing nothing other than waiting for the last seventeen minutes. He took a deep breath and finally opened the door, stepping out and closing it behind him. It was time.

He didn't tell Kaylee exactly when he was coming over -- he left it vague intentionally -- but she opened the door and came outside before he even made it to her driveway as if she was expecting him. Brushing a few strands of hair out of her face and nervously smiling, she hesitated before walking towards Luke.

It took everything he had to keep his composure. She looked as beautiful as ever in her tight white tank top, pink shorts and wedge sandals. It seemed like her golden sun-bleached ponytail had a mind of its own, bouncing gingerly from side to side, almost as if it was trying to hypnotize him as she walked towards him. Luke quietly groaned, realizing that what he had to do would be much harder than he thought.

Ironically, Luke noticed a slight shake to her hands, too. He vividly recalled what his father had told him:

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