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Authors: Len Webster

Sometimes Moments (9 page)

BOOK: Sometimes Moments
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“It’s gone,” Callum breathed.

The way his mouth formed a frown had her feeling guilty.

Turning to her left, she looked out at the lake. Since his return, she’d spoken more about her parents than she had at any other time in the last four years. The burning sensation in her eyes had her trying to blink it away.

“I had to take it down. I couldn’t see their faces every day,” Peyton explained. When the burning left her, she faced him.

“I’m sorry,” he said softy.

Peyton tensed. “For what?”

“Everything. I was a kid, Peyton. I was seventeen. I didn’t know what I was doing. I just knew that I had to leave. I couldn’t stay.”

He couldn’t stay. Peyton let that simmer in her thoughts. Couldn’t and wouldn’t were two different words with two different meanings. Just like Callum. He used different words that didn’t match their actual meaning.

“How do you know Oscar?” Peyton asked, dodging the question of the past and reaching for the menu.

When he didn’t reply straight away, she glanced at him with a ‘go on’ expression on her face.

“He was one of the first people I met once I got to the city. We went to high school together and then uni… Where’s the staff…the guests? Where is everyone?”

Peyton placed the menu down and walked around her desk, sitting in the large leather chair. “The hotel’s under a blackout period. No guests or staff for two weeks until I figure out how I want to run and own it.”

“It’s funny,” Callum said before he reached the desk and leant forward until his face was close to hers. “This is the most we’ve spoken since I got back. You haven’t told me to fuck myself or get the fuck off your property.” He gave her a smirk but his eyes were laced with regret, almost like he was sad to see her.

Her eyes squinted. “Go fuck yourself, Callum, and get off my property,” she slowly drawled out.

“Like the time you told me that you didn’t want me to kiss you—nothing but a lie. I know you, Peyton. When you drag out your sentences like that, it’s a challenge. But that’s not what I want with you.” Callum pulled back and stood straight, his hands in the pockets of his jeans.

Before Peyton could even speak, he stopped her when he let out a deep sigh. Then he pulled his hand out of his pocket, combing his fingers through his hair.

“How long have you and Jay been together?”

She flinched in her seat. They had all grown up together. Jay and his friends were a few years older, but when Jay had graduated high school, he’d stayed behind. And when Callum had left, she and Jay had gotten closer, just like how she and Graham had.

“I’m not with Jay,” she bit back more defensively than she would have liked.

“Seems like he’s in love with you, Peyton.”

“Don’t you fall in love with him, Peyton. Don’t you do that to me.”

Jay’s words had been hard to ignore. The walk from the pub to the hotel had had her constantly replaying it. He had never said anything so deep before. He’d sounded desperate, and it left an ache in her chest. She loved Jay, but only in the most platonic of ways.

“He isn’t. Your friend’s wedding isn’t for another month,” Peyton said, reaching for the papers on her desk. She opened the right drawer of the desk and placed them inside. When she closed the drawer, she noticed Callum staring at her, as if he were trying to figure out the cogs of her mind.

“I’m here for you, Peyton. I came back for you.”

The way his voice softened had her heart beating faster. Words that would have been perfect…four years ago. So instead of letting him see the effect those two sentences had, she let out a short laugh. His jaw clenched as well as his fist.

“You loved me once, Peyton… You fell in love with me. Why don’t you believe me when I say I’m back here for you?”

The hurt in his grey eyes made it hard for her to breathe.

He never told me he loved me. He never said it back.

“So what, Callum? I’m just meant to fall in love with you? Is that it?”

Callum’s eyes glistened and he shook his head. “I wouldn’t let you, Peyton. It would be the last thing I’d let you do… I’m not that cruel.”

What?

The unsaid apology swept his eyes. His words made no sense to her. Callum looked to his left, not saying any more. His faraway stare was one she didn’t understand.

Just as she was about to ask him what he’d meant, Callum turned around and made his way to the door.

“Wait,” she said, getting up from the chair.

Callum stopped just steps away from the exit.

“What do you mean you wouldn’t let me?” she asked.

He didn’t face her. Peyton stared at his back, hoping he would look at her.

“I wouldn’t let you fall in love with me. That’s not why I’m here. I don’t ever want you falling in love with me, Peyton Spencer. I’ll make sure that you don’t. I’m just here for forgiveness for not being there for their funeral. I don’t want your love. I don’t need it. I just need to know that you forgive me and then I’m done. I’ll be satisfied with the choices I made.”

With that, Callum walked out the door, leaving her with tears in her eyes.

 

“I’m sorry for your loss, Peyton. If you need anything, just give me a call.”

The voice sounded like Father Mitchell, but Peyton didn’t say anything. Instead, she kept staring at the plaques that marked her parents’ graves.

“They were good people,” another voice said.

“No daughter should be left alone in this world. It’s a shame.”

Tears fell down her cheeks as she read their names again and again. More voices of people giving her condolences surrounded her. Callum had left her, and now, both of her parents had, too. It became difficult to breathe as she remembered the last thing her parents had said before they’d driven to the city for a tourism convention. It was about getting over Callum. Her mother had told her to “forgive and forget,” and now, Peyton couldn’t. Not anymore. There wouldn’t be forgiving. He hadn’t shown. The one time she believed he’d come back, and he hadn’t.

She let out a sob. He hadn’t even said goodbye to her parents. She’d called his phone to tell him about the funeral, but he never called back. Her voice message hadn’t been much. She’d just told him that her parents’ funeral would be in Daylesford and that she’d like it if he could make it. Let the past be the past. But as she stood there on the soft ground, she knew she’d made a mistake by calling him. He didn’t care. She hated him more than she could have ever thought.

Ignoring the person offering their condolences, Peyton walked towards the exit, past the old graves, past the office and the sign that read ‘Daylesford Public cemetery.’ For a moment, she heard Graham call after her, but Peyton ran. She didn’t care that her lungs were burning. She kept running.

She didn’t stop when she reached the lake. Instead, she kept going down the lane of bare trees and the small hill that led to her street. When Peyton reached her house, she heaved, trying to regain air in her lungs. She paused for a moment as she stood in the middle of the street. On her left was her parents’ home, and on her right, Callum’s. His parents had shown, but he hadn’t.

She looked back and forth as tears continued to fall and memories flashed in her mind. The moments she’d run across the road and into his arms, her parents telling her to be home by ten. The moments she’d snuck out of her bedroom window to be with him. The moment they’d kissed under the cherry blossom tree.

Wiping her face, Peyton walked towards the backyard. She opened the gate and kept walking until she was staring at the cherry blossom tree. She had so many memories of this one tree. Callum had once breathed, “Be with me, Peyton,” in her ear as they’d sat underneath it.

She shook her head to rid herself of the memories and took one more glimpse at the tree before she headed over to the shed. Peyton paused before she opened the door and was greeted with dust. The light illuminated at the flicker of the switch and she looked around until her eyes found the axe. She picked it up and felt its weight. Turning around, she gazed over at the house, realising that she was now alone in this world.

With each step Peyton took, leaving the shed behind, another tear ran down her face. She stood two steps away from the tree and held the axe tight in her hands, ready to chop it down. After she’d picked a spot where she’d let the axe blade enter the bark, she took a deep breath, held the axe so tight that her knuckles turned white, and drew it back before swinging the blade into the tree.

Cherry blossoms fell from the tree as she removed the blade and readied it for another swing.

“Peyton, stop!” Graham cried as he ran to her. When he reached her, he tried to take the axe from her.

“No! Stop it, Graham! Just stop.” Peyton fought back, but it was no use.

He removed the axe from her hands and threw it away from her.

Before Peyton could yell at him, Graham wrapped his arms around her and held her. Sobs escaped her as she realised what she’d been about to do. As a way to get rid of the memories of Callum, she had almost destroyed her mother’s favourite tree. The tree that had convinced her father to buy the house they’d lived in.

“Oh my God. I almost—”

“I know, Peyton. I know,” Graham said as he stroked the back of her head. “You’re not alone. I’m always here. You’re never alone.”

Peyton looked up to see the small smile that Graham offered. “Promise you won’t leave me.”

“I promise.”

 

Peyton opened the front door to find him there with a less-than-impressed expression on his face.

“He’s back?” Graham asked as he put his phone in his pocket.

“He’s back, Graham.” She took a step back and let him into the house.

Graham walked to the hallway table and put his ute keys on it before heading towards the living room. Peyton followed behind him after she shut the door.

She didn’t have to look to know that Graham was on her couch, scratching into the arm of the chair—something he did when he was frustrated. Peyton went to the fridge and grabbed a beer and can of Coke. After approaching the couch, she sat next to him, handing over the beer. Then she raised her legs and tucked them underneath her as she opened her can and took a sip.

“I was going to call you,” she said, staring at the red can.

“I’m sure you were, Peyton.” Graham let out a sigh before taking a long pull of his beer.

“Jay told you?”

“Yeah,” he replied as he placed the bottle on her coffee table.

“He told me to tell you. Why did he call you?” Peyton asked as she mirrored Graham and put her Coke down.

Graham lifted his feet and rested them on the glass table. “He’s worried about you.”

“He doesn’t have to be. Callum made his intentions clear. He just wants my forgiveness for not showing up to Mum and Dad’s funeral.”

Graham’s eyebrows shot up. When he turned his head to meet her eyes, his blue eyes had darkened. “Is that it? He’s not sorry that he left you or played with your feelings?”

She shook her head. “I don’t think he actually cares. He just wants my forgiveness and that’s it. I could just say that I do forgive him and make him leave, but he’ll be back for his best friend’s wedding.”

Graham took his feet off the coffee table and placed them on the carpet. His eyebrows furrowed. “Wedding?”

Peyton sighed. “That last-minute booking Aunt Brenda made was Marissa Reynolds’ wedding and Callum’s the best man,” she revealed.

“Wow,” Graham breathed.

“Yeah, wow,” she agreed and rested her head against the back of the couch. “I never expected this, Graham. I never thought he’d come back. Why did he have to?” she asked softly, staring at the couch cushion that separated them.

“Come here,” Graham said as he took her hand and brought her closer.

Peyton smiled as she settled her head in his lap, Graham’s hand stroking her head. It was too much for her. She hadn’t anticipated Callum’s return. She had only just got her life together since his departure and her parents’ deaths.

“I don’t think that I’ll be strong enough to face him again. I have to just ignore his being back. I didn’t go to the hotel today because I was scared I might run into him in town,” she said, staring at their beverages on the table.

“You don’t have to be scared, Peyton. You didn’t do anything wrong. It was him.”

Graham’s right. Callum’s the one who left me. I didn’t. I wanted to be with him. I wanted to be his.

Peyton turned her body until she was facing Graham. He gave her a sincere smile, his dimple deepening. She smiled back at him. If she’d ever loved someone unconditionally, it was Graham. Not Callum or Jay. Just Graham. They had a friendship no one could ever understand. They shared so much pain. If it hadn’t been for him, she would have lost herself right after the funeral. He had healed her.

“Sometimes…”

“Yeah?”

“Sometimes I wish I’d never fallen in love with him. Never kissed him. Never told him that I loved him. I wish it hadn’t been him,” Peyton confessed.

Graham wiped the tear off her cheek. “I sometimes wish that, too. Then I wouldn’t have seen you on that bench crying. But if it hadn’t been for him, I would have never been as close as I am with you. Never forget that I love you, Peyton.”

BOOK: Sometimes Moments
10.08Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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