Never Too Far (Chapter 1)
Fifteen miles out of town was far enough. No one ever came this far out of Sumit to visit a pharmacy. Unless of course they were nineteen and in need of something they didn't want the town to know they had purchased. Everything bought at the local pharmacy would be spread throughout the small town of Sumit, Alabama within the hour. Especially if you were unmarried and purchasing condoms… or a pregnancy test.
I put the pregnancy tests up on the counter and didn't make eye contact with the clerk. I couldn't. The fear and guilt in my eyes was something I didn't want to share with a random stranger. This was something I hadn't even told Cain. Since I forced Rush out of my life three weeks ago I'd slowly fallen back into the routine of spending all my time with Cain. It was easy. He didn't press me to talk but when I did want to talk about it he listened.
"Sixteen dollars and fifteen cents," the lady on the other side of the counter said. I could hear the concern in her voice. Not surprising. This was the purchase of shame all teenage girls feared. I handed her a twenty dollar bill without lifting my eyes from the small bag she'd placed in front of me. It held the one answer I needed and that terrified me. Ignoring the fact my period was two weeks late and pretending like this wasn't happening was easier. But I had to know.
"Three dollars and eighty-five cents is your change," she said as I reached out and took the money in her outstretched hand.
"Thanks," I mumbled and took the bag.
"I hope it all turns out okay," the lady said in a gentle tone. I lifted my eyes and met a pair of sympathetic brown eyes. She was a stranger that I'd never see again but in that moment it helped having someone else know. I didn't feel so alone.
"Me too," I replied before turning from her and walking toward the door. Back into the hot summer sun.
I'd taken two steps out into the parking lot when my eyes fell on the driver's side of my truck. Cain leaned against it with his arms crossed over his chest. The gray baseball cap he was wearing had a University of Alabama A on it and was pulled down low shading his eyes from me.
I stopped and stared at him. There was no lying about this. He knew I hadn't come here to buy condoms. There was only one other option. Even without the ability to see the expression in his eyes I knew… that he knew.
I swallowed the lump in my throat that I'd been fighting since I got in my truck this morning and headed out of town. Now it wasn't just me and the stranger behind the counter that knew. My bestfriend knew too.
I forced myself to put one foot in front of the other. He'd ask questions and I would have to answer. After the past few weeks he deserved an explanation. He deserved the truth. But how did I explain this?
I stopped just a few feet in front of him. I was glad the hat shaded his face. It would be easier to explain if I couldn't see the thoughts flashing in his eyes.
We stood in silence. I wanted him to speak first but after what felt like several minutes of him not saying anything I knew he wanted me to say something first.
"How did you know where I was?" I finally asked.
"You're staying at my grandmother's. The moment you left acting strangely, she called me. I was worried about you," he replied.
Tears stung my eyes. I would not cry about this. I'd cried all I was going to cry. Clenching the bag holding the pregnancy test closer I straightened my shoulders. "You followed me," I said. It wasn't a question.
"Of course I did," he replied, then shook his head and turned his gaze away from me to focus on something else. "Were you gonna tell me, Blaire?"
Was I going to tell him? I didn't know. I hadn't thought that far. "I'm not sure there is anything to tell just yet," I replied honestly.
Cain shook his head and let out a hard low chuckle that held no humor. "Not sure, huh? You came all the way out here because you weren't sure?"
He was angry. Or was he hurt? He had no reason to be either. "Until I take this test I'm not sure. I'm late. That's all. There's no reason I should tell you about this. It isn't your concern."
Slowly, Cain turned his head back to level his gaze on me. He lifted his hand and tilted his hat back. The shade was gone from his eyes. There was disbelief and pain there. I hadn't wanted to see that. It was almost worse than seeing judgment in his eyes. In a way judgment was better.
"Really? That's how you feel? After all we've been through that's how you honestly feel?"
What we had been through was in the past. He was my past. I'd been through a lot without him. While he'd enjoyed his high school years I had struggled to hold my life together. What exactly did he think he'd suffered? Anger slowly boiled in my blood and I lifted my eyes to glare at him.
"Yes, Cain. That's how I feel. I'm not sure what exactly you think we've been through. We were best friends, then we were a couple, then my momma got sick and you needed your dick sucked so you cheated on me. I took care of my sick momma alone. No one to lean on. Then she died and I moved. I got my heart and world shattered and came home. You've been here for me. I didn't ask you to but you have. I'm thankful for that but it doesn't make all that other stuff go away. It doesn't make up for the fact you deserted me when I needed you the most. So excuse me if when my world is once again about to be jerked out from under me that you aren't the first person I run to. You haven't earned that yet."
I was breathing hard and the tears I hadn't wanted to shed were running down my face. I hadn't wanted to cry dammit. I closed the distance between us and used all my strength to shove him out of my way so I could grab the door handle and jerk it open. I needed out of here.Away from him.
"Move," I yelled as I tried hard to open the door with his weight still against it.
I expected him to argue with me. I expected something other than him doing as I asked. I climbed inside the driver's seat and threw the little plastic bag in the seat beside me before cranking the truck and backing out of the parking spot. I could see Cain still standing there. He hadn't moved that much. Just enough so that I could get inside my truck. He wasn't looking at me. He was staring at the ground as if it had all the answers. I couldn't worry about him right now. I needed to get away.
Maybe I shouldn't have said those things to him. Maybe I should have kept them inside where I'd buried them all these years. But it was too late now. He'd pushed me at the wrong moment. I would not feel bad about this.
I also couldn't go back to his grandmother's. She was on to me. He'd probably call her and tell her. If not the truth, then something close to it. I didn't have any other options. I was going to have to take a pregnancy test in the restroom at a service station. Could this get any worse?