Jackson helped me roll off him, nestling him between his arm and his body. I laid my head on his chest and felt him kiss the top of my head, soon drifting off to sleep.
“Erin!” I woke with a jolt as Jackson burst into the room.
“Huh?” I said groggily, sitting up to look at him.
“Erin,” he said excitedly, “Erin, I found him. I found Caleb!”
At some point or another, Caleb’s phone came online. Jackson woke before I did and decided to check to see if Caleb’s phone was back on. Miraculously, it was, informing us that he was in New York City, where he was originally from.
We tried to call Caleb, but each call went straight to voicemail. Our texts also went unanswered.
Jackson made a phone call and booked us a private plane to New York. Though the flight was much shorter than it would have been with a regular flight which typically had a layover somewhere, I still felt anxious each second we were in the air. Now that we knew where he was, I felt so close but just out of reach.
I wanted to tell Caleb that I wanted to be with him, that I wanted to be with both of them. I needed to.
Looking over at Jackson, I saw he was just as antsy as I was, looking at his phone over and over. He’d logged into Caleb’s cell phone account from his phone and stared at his location.
At one point, I’d asked Jackson where Caleb was at in the city.
He turned to me and said, “He’s at the first dungeon he ever went to.”
Throughout the flight, we tried to call again, always met with radio silence.
After what felt like an eternity, we landed at the airport and hailed a taxi, asking them to take us to the dungeon. When we arrived, Jackson thrust what looked like several hundreds at the driver and we shot from the car and into the dungeon.
We found ourselves in a small lounge. “Hello,” a pretty blonde woman greeted us. “I’ve never seen you two before.”
She stuck out her hand, but we ignored it, marching toward the door at the back of the room.
“You can’t just go back there!” she shouted. “It’s against the rules!”
A large man must have heard the commotion and stopped us just as we reached the doorway. “She’s right,” he said in a deep voice, “you can’t just do as you please. I won’t allow it.”
“Please,” I begged him, “please, my boyfriend is back there and he isn’t well.”
I saw Jackson look at me sharply.
The man frowned. “We don’t allow anyone to participate in a scene if they’re sick.”
“Not physically,” I said. “Mentally!”
“He’s good at hiding it,” Jackson interjected. “Most people would never even know he’s depressed.”
The man’s frown deepened. “Who is your boyfriend?” he asked me.
“His name is Caleb,” I said, “Caleb Treadway.”
Recognition flared in the man’s eyes. “I know him,” he said. “Alright, I’ll take you back to him, but only because he’s in trouble.”
My man escorted us into the back, moving far too slowly for my sanity. He guided us to the last room and, without knocking, I burst inside with Jackson on my heels.
And there he was, slumped on the floor and crying into a dominatrix’s arms.
“Caleb!” I yelled. He looked up, disbelief written all over his face. “Oh, Caleb.” I dropped to my knees next to him. Jackson was there a split second later.
“Am I dreaming or are you really here?” he asked, his voice filled with wonder.
“I’m here,” I cried, wrapping my arms against him and, in the process, the woman.
The woman pulled out of my hug, but I clung to Caleb.
“Are you Erin?” she asked me. She turned to Jackson. “And Jackson? It’s been a while.”
“Yes,” I said.
“I’m glad you’re both here,” she said. “And I know Caleb is too.” She stood, and said, “I’ll let you guys take it from here. I know he’s in good hands.”
When the door closed behind her, I turned my attention back to Caleb. “I can’t believe we finally found you.”
His tears had subsided though his eyes were still wet. “I was so lost,” he said. “So lost without you.”
“I’m sorry I left. It was selfish.”
“No,” he said forcefully. “No, it wasn’t. You did what you thought was best. It isn’t your fault I fell apart.” He turned to Jackson, widening the hug so Jackson could join us. Jackson didn’t hesitate and leaned in to wrap his arms around us both.
Voice full of remorse, Caleb said, “Jackson, I’m sorry that I left without saying anything.”
“I forgive you,” Jackson replied, his voice muffled.
We held each other for a long time. Caleb finally broke the silence. His voice was hoarse as he said, “I really want to go home.”
“I’ll get a plane ready,” Jackson said, slipping his cell phone from his pocket.