“I’m here.” I placed my hands over his. “I’m here.” I don’t know what I was trying to tell him. I didn’t know if that meant that I was there to listen, or that what he was going to tell me didn’t matter. Honestly, I didn’t know if it would or not.
He looked into my eyes, then started his story.
“This is where I buried my first body.”
He watched me intently as he waited for me to react to what he’d just said. I was waiting for the shock to settle before saying anything back. Questions sprang up everywhere.
He killed someone here, in Coral Pines?
Who could it have been?
Does it even matter to me?
I already knew what he did. Would the details make a difference? “You don’t have to tell me if you don’t want to.” What I didn’t tell him was that my understanding of what he did scared me. What was wrong with me that I was so willing to accept someone in my life who admitted to killing people on a regular basis?
“Yes, I do.” Jake sat down under the tree and pulled me into his arms like I was a small child. “You need to know all of it, Bee.” He rested his chin on my head. “I was fifteen, and Sabrina was sixteen. We weren’t in love. We weren’t even dating. We just fooled around after parties sometimes. I was a stupid kid obsessed with girls. She wasn’t even the only girl I was messing with at the time.”
He took a deep breath and looked up to the sky. The moon was already showing through the trees, though the sun hadn’t fully set. They were sharing the sky.
“She got pregnant, told me it was mine. I believed her because I was her first, and I’d known her most of my life. She wasn’t a liar. We didn’t know what to do. We were just kids. She said she wanted to keep it. I kept telling her that it would ruin her life, but being a stupid prick, I was more concerned that it would ruin my life. Sabrina finally made up her mind and told me she wasn’t getting rid of it. I panicked. Even though I knew better, I told her it probably wasn’t mine anyway and that I didn’t want anything to do with her.”
“I didn’t talk to her for months after that. I saw her at school, wearing baggy sweatshirts to hide her stomach. I’m pretty sure she was keeping it from her dad because I know he would’ve been banging down my door and beating in my head if he’d known. I was such an asshole to her, and I regret that every day of my life.”
I could feel his tears pooling on the top of my head as he silently cried into my hair.
“One night, Sabrina knocked on my window. She was freaking out. The baby was coming, and she didn’t know what to do. She was only seven months along. I told her I was calling an ambulance, and that she needed to go to the hospital. She refused. She didn’t want anyone to know. She made me promise I wouldn’t take her there, no matter what. Her face was so pale already and all she wanted was my help. So, I helped her.”
“We went out back to my dad’s shed, and I put down a blanket. It was hours of her screaming and wailing. I held her hand all the way through. It was almost light out by then, and there was still no baby. I told her I was done. I was taking her to a hospital. She screamed at me, told me the least I could do for getting her into this and being an asshole all those months was to listen to what she wanted.”
Jake wiped at his eye with his sleeve.
“So, I did as she asked and stayed put.” He shivered now, both his words and his body. “When the baby finally came, it was a girl. She was so small, and I could practically see through her skin. She was so quiet…so still. I knew she’d probably been dead long before she came out. I think it was just Sabrina’s body finally giving it up.”
“I wrapped the baby up in a grease towel and handed it to her. Sabrina was so pale, and there was blood everywhere. I panicked. I told her she needed help and now, but when I got up, she grabbed me by the shirt. She said, ‘Jake, when I die, don’t let them find me. I don’t want them to know.’ Then, her eyes rolled back in her head and the baby’s body fell from her grip onto the floor. I was alone, fifteen, and incredibly stupid. I had done her wrong in every possible way. I used her, ignored her, and when she needed me most, I left her to suffer alone. The least I could do for her was honor her wishes.”
“You buried Sabrina here?”
He nodded. “And the baby. I thought they would like it here. I didn’t want to just throw them in a swamp, or weight them down and drop them out in the Gulf, although I considered doing both.”
“Is Sabrina the S on your tattoo?” I asked.