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Part 1: Saving Jace
“I feel like dying.” Jace said to me.
“What? Why?!” I texted back quickly.
“I don’t know. I just do.”
“No. Please. Okay?”
“I’m going to kill myself,” he said.
“Don’t! Where are you?”
“Where do you live?” I asked, and he responded with his address. “Don’t do anything, I’m coming.”
“Caroline…” He responded, but I was already calling Jen. She told me if he ever seriously said that, she would come and get me so I could save him.
But Jen didn’t answer her cell. It was 2 AM; that could be expected. Then I thought. Who did I know that would be awake right now, and could drive?
“I’m just sick of it. It’s all so stupid. I don’t see any point in living anymore; my life’s not important.” Jace said. I was majorly freaking out.
“NO! Don’t say that! There are so many people that love you, care about you!” I told him. Dillon! My sister’s friend Dillon could drive. He’d definitely be up at 2 AM.
“Dillon! It’s Caroline, Olivia’s sister. I need your help!” I said, calling Dillon.
“Cara! Why do you need my help?” Dillon asked.
“One of my best friends is threatening to kill himself and he’s serious. I need to get over to his house. Now.” I said urgently, putting shoes on.
“Cool! Beats sitting in Grant’s room, watching Olivia and Will make out. Be there in 10 minutes.”
“Eww. TMI. And if you speed, you could be here in 5.”
“See you in 5 minutes, kid.” Dillon said, hanging up. Jace hadn’t texted back yet, so I got on Google earth. It was 15 minutes from my house to Jace’s, so we’d be speeding.
Jace texted me back as Dillon pulled up, slightly relieving the weight on my heart. “…no.” I raced outside and jumped in Dillon’s car and gave him Jace’s address. He took off tearing down the street.
“Jace. Listen to me. You canNOT die. I can’t live without you. I care about you way too much to lose you!” I texted Jace back. Dillon sped up a little.
“When I told you to bring your boyfriend next time Olivia drags you along, this is not what I meant.” Dillon said, half jokingly. Since it was 2 AM, there was almost no traffic, and we were making good time.
“Oh, shut up Dillon! One, he’s not my boyfriend; second, this isn’t a joke! Drive faster, please!” I told him, checking my phone every 5 seconds.
“Yeah, yeah, yeah,” Dillon said. After five more minutes of tense silence, we pulled up at Jace’s house. He was sitting on the front porch with his head in his hands, and he was wearing his PJ’s- cotton plaid pants and a white wife beater.
I jumped out of the car and ran over to him. His head stayed down until I was directly in front of him. He looked up at me, and gave a slight smile.
“I thought you didn’t wear pink.” He said. I looked at my pajamas self-consciously. I was wearing my blue Victoria’s Secret camisole and plaid pink pants.
“I wasn’t wearing pants when this happened, and I was in too much of a rush to search for other pants.” I explained.
“You weren’t wearing pants?” He asked, raising his eyebrows at me. I sighed.
“I can’t wear pants to bed. It bugs me. I can’t sleep with pants on. And since it is-“ I explained, pulling my phone out and checking the time, “2:13 in the morning, I was in bed.”
“Oh.” He said, looking at me. I shifted self-consciously.
“You… You’re not going to; you haven’t done anything, right?” I asked, sitting next to him on the step. He just stared at his hands. “Jace?”
“I came out here… to say goodbye.” He said, not looking at me. I stared at him in shock.
“No.” I said resolutely. He looked at me. I very rarely said so little, and with such conviction. “You are not saying goodbye. You are not doing anything to yourself. Ever.”
“Caroline…” He said, looking at me.
“No. Don’t tell me that. Don’t ‘Caroline’ me. This is it, straight out. If you were going to do it, you would have before I got here. And now that I am here, you aren’t doing anything.” I insisted.
“I didn’t think you’d be here so quickly.” He told me.
“I had Dillon speeding.” I informed him.
“Dillon?” he asked with his eyebrows raised.
“He’s my sister’s friend. He’s so bored around here; he told me that if I ever needed a ride anywhere, I could call him. So when I need to save you tonight, I called Dillon.” I explained.
“Jace, you idiot, how could you think for even a second I would let this happen?! I need you.”
“No you don’t.” He countered. I sighed, and bared my left forearm to him, shining my phone on it.
“What do you see?” I asked, challenging him.
“…nothing…” he said, surprised.
“Exactly. I haven’t cut myself in over two months. Because of you. Surprisingly, my body doesn’t scar for long. I have gotten hurt so many times over the years, but all my scars have faded. These are fading too. You saved me from myself,” I told him, looking in his eyes, those gorgeous eyes that take my breath away.
“It’s because of me that you started in the first place,” he said sadly.
“No. I was a ten foot tall pyre of wood doused with lighter fluid. You just lit a match a bit too close. I was going to go up in flames eventually,” I told him.
“It’s still my fault,” he insisted.
“No it’s not. You can be really dumb sometimes, you know that? You saved me. If I had started any other time, I probably would have killed myself,” I said, staring into his eyes again. A look of pain, crossed them, and he grabbed my hand and held it tight.
“Please, please, please Caroline, don’t even say that,” he begged me desperately.
“Then you don’t say it. It scares me so much. I love you,” I told him for the first time. I watched surprise and hope flit across his eyes.
“Do you really?” he asked.
“Yes.” I replied strongly. “I love everything about you, and I honestly could not live without you.”
“Good. Because I love you too,” he said simply. I smiled, and we just stared into each other’s eyes. He cupped my face with his hands, and never breaking eye contact, slowly bent his face toward mine. His eyes paralyzed me, not that I wanted to move away. Then he gently pressed his lips to mine and I slid my arms up behind his neck. After a long moment, we pulled apart.
“Don’t you ever threaten suicide again,” I ordered.
“Mmmm…” he said, not answering. I glared.
“Don’t,” I told him, and he rolled his eyes. Dillon had long since driven away. “I don’t really want to call Dillon back and go home.”
“You don’t have to. You could stay here.” He told me. I raised my eyebrows. “We have, what, five hours before we’ve got to be at school? Just stay here with me. We can run you by your house in morning so you can get ready.”
“That sounds… great.” I said, smiling.
“Good,” he responded, leaning against the house.
“You realize I’m probably going to fall asleep in like 10-“ I started, but a yawn broke through, “minutes?” He grinned at me, and put his arm around me, pulling me close to his side. I curled my legs up and leaned my head on his shoulder, wrapping my arms around his torso.
“See? You can go to sleep right here,” he said, stroking my hair. The steady rhythm was making me even drowsier.
“I think I,” interject a yawn, “will…” I remarked, my eyes drifting shut. He kept stroking my hair, and just before I succumbed to sleep, he spoke.
“Thank you for coming to save me tonight,” he said.
“Of course,” I murmured sleepily. “I couldn’t live without you. You aren’t allowed to die…” I instructed drowsily. He laughed softly, and kissed my forehead.
“Whatever you say, honey. Now go to sleep.”
“Mmm… goodnight, Jace,” I mumbled almost incoherently. He laughed again.
“Goodnight, Caroline. Sweet dreams,” he responded, but I was already asleep.
Part 2: Aftermath
I woke up about four hours later. At first, I was really confused as to why I was sleeping on the front porch of Jace’s house, but then all the events of last night came rushing back to me.
Jace has fallen asleep with his head leaning on the wall behind him. For a few minutes, I just watched him sleep. He looked so peaceful.
“Morning, Caroline,” He said, leaving his eyes shut.
“How long have you been awake?” I asked curiously.
“Longer than you have!” he said, laughing. He opened his eyes, and I made a face at him.
“I don’t want to go to school…” I complained.
“Neither do I. But we technically have to.” He said.
“Ugh… Fine…” I responded, standing up. He stood up with me, and together, we walked in the front door of his house.
“I’ll be right back. It’ll take me five minutes to get ready,” He told me as he started up the stairs. I nodded.
I felt so awkward standing in the doorway, and I could hear Jace arguing with his parents. Snippets of the argument reached me.
“…..slept on the porch….”
“….need to get her to her house….” Then there was a pause of absolute silence, and finally his dad spoke up.
“I’ll take you two by her house, and then to school.”
Two minutes later, Jace came downstairs, pulling a shirt over his head as he did. He bent down to put his shoes on, and laughed as he glanced at my feet.
“Nice shoes,” he commented, and I looked down and laughed at myself. I was wearing one blue and one gold flip flop.
“Well, I was kind of in a hurry to get over here and save your crazy ass,” I said. He nodded, smiling. His dad came down the stairs, and we all went and got into his truck. I felt so weird in my pajamas.
“Where do you live, Caroline?” His dad asked me.
“Over by the pool. I live at the top of the hill, last two story house on the right,” I said. He nodded, and my phone vibrated. I had two messages from my mom, one from my dad, three from my sister, and one from Jace. Jace said “…awkward….” And I laughed. His dad gave me a weird look, and I shut up. Jace looked at me and grinned.
I shook my head, smiling, and checked the other texts. They all said the same basic thing- where the heck are you, get your ass home, you’re dead meat. I rolled my eyes. We wouldn’t get to the house until after Mom and Dad had gone to work, and Olivia had left for school.
The rest of the ride was spent in semi-awkward silence. When we pulled up at my house, I hopped out, and Jace followed me. The front door was unlocked, and I walked upstairs to my bedroom, with Jace just behind.
“Oh no, nice try.” I said, shutting my door in his face. He laughed, and I searched my room for my skirt and my white button up. I opened the door and saw him lounging against the wall as I rolled the waist of my skirt and tucked in my shirt. I walked to the bathroom and started brushing the tangled mess that was my hair. I felt Jace’s hand on my neck. “What the heck?”
“Your tag was sticking out,” He explained. He then proceeded to ‘fix’ the tag on my skirt, and I turned to him, smirking.
“Tag again?” I asked.
“Oh yeah, definitely.” He said, smirking back at me. I rolled my eyes and turned to brush my teeth. After that, I turned back to him.
“I think you just wanted an excuse to touch me,” I accused him, trying to keep the smile off my face.
“Oh, I need an excuse?” He asked. I pretended to think about it.
“No,” I said, grinning. He smiled back, and leaned forward and kissed me. Then his dad honked outside. “S***, I still need socks.”
“Jace followed me into my room and put my binder in my back pack for me as I yanked my socks on and shoved my feet into my shoes. Jace carried my back pack out to the car for me and I followed him out, closing the front door behind us and locking it.
The ten minute ride to school was quiet, and Jace just watched me the whole time. When his dad let us out, Jace didn’t hand over my back pack. Instead, he started up the stairs to my locker with it. I stared after him, confused.
“Well Caroline? Are you coming?” Jace asked, looking over his shoulder at me. I grinned and followed him to my locker.
“What’s your combination?” He asked.
“Ha! Nice try,” I said, laughing. I quickly opened my locker, hiding the combination from him. Not that I actually needed to. It was pegged. But he didn’t need to know that. He put my back pack on the hook, and I grabbed my books for first and second hour. I expected him to ditch me and go to his locker, but he waited for me. My first hour class was on the way to his locker, so we walked together.
When it came time for us to part, he looked into my eyes, smiled, and said “See you later.” I nodded and went to set my books down in first hour. I walked out with Lindsey, and we went down to the commons together. On the way, we passed Jace’s locker, where he was standing with all his friends.
“Hey! Caroline! Come here,” he called. I looked at Lindsey, who shrugged, and walked over.
“Hey Jace. What’s up?” I asked cautiously. He stepped forward, wrapped me in his arms, and hugged me tightly. Then he whispered in my ear:
“Thanks again for saving me last night.” I hugged him back quickly, and then stepped back and smiled.
“Next time, actually do your math homework,” I said.
He nodded and turned back to his friends. I walked back to Lindsey and his friends stared after me. He looked at me again and winked. I rolled my eyes. “Bye Jace.”
“Bye Caroline,” Jace called.
“How do you know Jace Jones?” Lindsey asked.
“I don’t,” I said, smiling.
“Hey! Caroline!” Jace called out to me again.
“Yeah?” I asked, turning. He walked over to us.
“Your tag’s sticking out,” He told me with a straight face. However, I saw laughter in his eyes. He reached out and tucked the tag on my shirt back into my collar.
I smiled politely and said “Thanks Jace.” He nodded and slipped a piece of paper into my hand before turning and walking away without a backward glance. As Lindsey led the way to the commons, I looked at the paper Jace gave me.
Five words, scrawled in his distinctive handwriting- “Here, I need that excuse.” I grinned and chucked the paper in the nearest trash can.
“What was that?” Lindsey asked. I looked at her and smiled.
“A stupid little note that said ‘Green booger monsters hide in my nose.’ I found in on the floor,” I said, laughing.
“Eww!” She replied, laughing with me. I smiled and glanced back at Jace, who turned at the same time, and winked.