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9. Portrait Of The Past

There are so many things I feel like I know to be true in this world. For one, Patrick loves me. Another, is the fact that Hawke is someone entirely unknown to me. As much as I feel like I understand him to an extent, the reality is, he’s got a past. A horrible one at that.

Even still, how is it that you can still find so much comfort in the proximity of someone you don’t know?

I was bound and determined to get to the bottom of whatever the past was between these two “friends” to discover the truth of who I’d been abashedly spending my free time with.

After an uncomfortable dinner, Hawke finally left after getting picked up by Kid to go who knows where to do who knows what...or who.

I was glad to finally have some alone time with Patrick, even if it was long overdue.

“Remember that night we ordered pizza at The Roma after Chris’s birthday party?”

I snort, already remembering the memory. “The night we never got a chance to eat the pizza because we both fell asleep in the cab on the way back, forgot it on the backseat?”

“Oh I was so mad! The Roma has the best pizza and we just left it there like it was nothing!” Patrick cries out.

“Well, I think we had other things on our mind that night,” I grin seductively.

He pulls me into him on the couch. “We sure did. I couldn’t take another minute without putting my hands all over you. You looked phenomenal in that dress." He nuzzles his nose into me playfully.

“God Chris was so drunk. Remember he told me that if I didn’t marry you, he’d amputate his thumb after medical school?”

“He said that?!” Patrick asks humorously.

“I told you that.” I giggle.

“Well...we can’t let that happen. Everyone needs a thumb.” He smiles, pulling my hand up to his lips and kissing my thumb.

I bite my lip, cuddling into him again on the couch. This is how we were. Playful, happy, content. We just need to get back to us again. The distractions and issues lately have my head spinning and I just want to get back to what makes sense. Part of that problem is the new roommate.

“So, in all honesty, how long do you think this arrangement is going to last?” I question, circling my finger in the air as we lay back into the couch.

“What, with Hawke living here?”


“Well, I don’t know. I didn’t set a date or anything for him to leave by. Just assumed he’d figure it out once he got his feet on the ground again.”

“And how’s he going to do that? Seems he has no interest in finding a job, unless you count hooking up with whores a day time gig.”

Patrick chuckles, dropping his arm around me from where it was placed behind me on the couch. He pulls me into him and continues watching the television while talking.

“If it bothers you, I can talk to him.”

No way. That would only insinuate that I didn’t like him seeing other women which is not the impression I want to make. God, can you imagine?

“No, really, it’s fine.”

He kisses the top of my head and continues watching the episode.

I pull back from him, turning to face him with my legs crossed beneath me on the couch. “I do want to know something.”

He cocks his brow, sensing my seriousness. “Of course, anything.”

I bite the corner of my lip, then finally ask, “What was Hawke in prison for?”

“Nic...” Patrick groans.

“What? Why can’t I know? I trust you to tell me the truth of the matter before I find out on the internet for myself.”

He sighs, rubbing his forehead with his thumb and forefinger.

“Tell me,” I demand.

He glares back over at me, reluctant to talk, so I cock my head with brows raised, making it clear I’m not dropping this.

“I don’t want to get into it. It’s not my place.” He raises his hands.

“Seriously Patrick?”

“Look, I’ve got a plate full of work I need to focus on, a girlfriend to keep happy, and bills to pay. I’m not focusing on the past, just moving forward. Don’t bother yourself with the technicalities. He’s out now, and trying to make a life for himself. No need to go digging.”

He ends the conversation with that, leaving me utterly confused.

Why is he protecting him?

I’m going to find out what happened one way or another.

Soon after our movie finishes, we climb onto our queen sized mattress together after brushing our teeth and washing up before bed.

He wraps his arms around me, holding me to his chest as his thumb trails along my arm. I run my fingers through the light chest hair, enjoying the smell of him I missed so much.

How could I ever have done this with Hawke? It’s so intimate, cuddling, holding someone like this. What a terrible mistake that was.

“I missed this last night,” I confess.

He sighs, continuing his motions along my arm. “I’m sad to say there will be more of that.”

I prop my chin up on his chest. “What? What do you mean?”

“One of our accounts in Denver wants us there to meet with the executives to discuss advancing our services. I was going to tell you about it tomorrow, enjoy tonight, but you need to know.”


“I’m sorry angel, you know I hate leaving you, but this is important.”

“Important?! We are important. Why can’t your dad go?” I whine.

I know I’m being childish in a sense. This is his job and the company is doing extremely well. I should be overjoyed at the fact that they are extending the business statewide and beyond, but it hurts. I hate when he leaves and I miss him when he’s gone.

“This is what I need to do. I’m starting to take over more of his accounts, you know this.”

I sigh in frustration, turning my cheek and laying back down on his chest.

“Hey, don’t be upset, please Nic.”

I’m trying not to be, I really am. It’s not like I’m new to this. Even while in college, we had our fun, but studies always came first. He just seemed so much more laid back back then, not so worried about his father’s expectations and trying to appease him.

“I’ll be leaving next week for a few days to jump start the paperwork and get our presentations ready. When I get back, we can plan a whole weekend of dates. How’s that sound?” He kisses the top of my head, squeezing me, attempting to cheer me up.

“I work weekends, Patrick, how’s that going to work?”

“Maybe you can get that guy to fill in for you? I’m sure there’s a way.”

There’s always a way for me to move around my life for him. I drop things for Patrick, and he expects that now, because my job isn’t as important as his. He never drops things for me. It isn’t right.

I roll over onto my side in hopes that he’ll realize how upset and I am and try to do something to figure it out, to make it better, to make me happy. But, he doesn’t. He rolls over to the side and falls asleep, assuming that tomorrow will be better. Tomorrow I’ll give in.

I can’t sleep. My mind is reeling and I feel the need to scream, but I can’t. I want to shake Patrick awake, tell him he needs to make a real place for me in his life or I’m leaving, but I can’t.

Unfortunately, I do depend on him financially. I moved here knowing I’d be living in this house with him, not needing to help with the mortgage. He’d allowed me the chance to stay here and pursue my writing career, finally try to focus on what I love. I owe him that.

I also know that if I make a big deal out of this, it won’t change anything. He’ll still stick to pleasing these bigwigs at the company and expect me to understand. He’d do anything for them and his dad, but would he do anything for me?

I creep out of bed, slowly tiptoeing out of the bedroom in my silk nightshirt and shorts, hoping to get a glass of water and get my mind right.

The kitchen is dark and quiet. I’m assuming Hawke is still out because I don’t see a light coming from beneath the door to his room.

Then I hear it.

“Yeah, take it, take it all.”

His deep, strained voice tells me all I need to know about whoever is in there taking it.

I hear slurping noises along with his breathy groans and I know exactly what’s happening behind that door.

He’s got a girl over and she’s sucking him off.

“Come on, faster,” he demands and the slurping continues along with his grunts and groans.

I can’t move. I’m frozen in place, listening to this interaction. It’s horrible, it’s disgusting, it’s wrong, but with my lack of an adequate sex life at the moment, it’s surprisingly erotic.

“Fuck, use your hands.”

He keeps telling her what to do and doesn’t sound happy about it, but they keep going at it.

I listen for a few more seconds, until I hear him come. I actually hear him come. He’s groaning as I imagine him filling this chick’s mouth with it, shooting it down her throat.

I wonder what his face looks like. I wonder if she’s enjoying being able to get him off?

What’s wrong with me!?

I shake my head of the stupid and completely disturbing curiosities, grabbing a glass from the cabinet and filling it with water. I swallow a few sips, then set it back down in the sink, and make my way back to the bedroom.

I’m not fast enough.

He opens the door as soon as I’m walking past. His eyes catch mine and a curious, confused look overtakes his face. He’s wearing a pair of sweats and his skin is glistening with sweat. His mouth drops open as he takes in the sight of me. I swallow, looking away, glad for the dark room to mask my flush as I make my way back into the bedroom. The woman who he was with is promptly ushered out. So much for cuddling, I guess.

Such a manwhore.

The next morning I wake up early as always, ready for the only thing that satisfies me unlike anything else. Coffee.

To my surprise, even after his late night rendezvous, Hawke is already up, sitting at the table in a pair of black sweatpants with a matching sweatshirt, his hair ruffled as if he slept on it while it was wet, and the coffee brewing away from the pot. I should’ve known.

Guess this is a thing. Early birds obsessed with coffee. We definitely have that in common.

“Good morning.” He speaks first, his green eyes twinkling as a tiny grin forms in the corner of his lip.

“I bet it is.” I comment with a snarky attitude, raising a brow suggestively.

He knows I heard him. He has to.

“Ha, it’s like that?” he chuckles, showcasing his teeth before tonguing his lip ring.

His smile is completely contagious in the worst possible way. It gives me jitters in the pit of my stomach. Knowing I can make him smile like that is a dangerous game I’m not ready to play.

“Like what?” I ask sarcastically.

He shakes his head, running his hands through his hair. I place my elbow on the counter, leaning to the side casually, waiting.

“Well, for your information, it wasn’t that great.”

“Oh yeah? Why’s that?” I play along.

“I’ve never had to work so hard to get off. Some people have no fucking idea what they’re doing when it comes to sex.”

“Oh,” I say softly.

I’m more than likely one of those people. In the grand scheme of things, I’m practically considered prude when it comes to the topic of sex. Not that I’ve really tried to be super courageous in exploring the bedroom, but Patrick keeps it pretty PG between us.

“You think you’re one of those people,” he states, literally reading my mind.

I scoff. “No.”

He looks me up and down with a lustful gaze, eyes focusing in on my exposed thighs before trailing along my body as he takes me in, thinking. “Nah, I bet you’re one of those closet freaks. The good girls usually are.”

I can’t tell if this is a compliment or supposed to be a diss. It’s as if he can read my sexual struggles and problems just by looking into my scared, intimidated eyes.

“Too bad old Pat can’t keep up.” He smirks while his voice purrs.

“Too bad I can’t what?”

Patrick’s happy morning voice fills the room and I immediately suck in a breath. I hide my wide eyes by blinking profusely, then smile and run up to Patrick for a quick hug.

“Too bad you can’t come to the party next week. Cole said you were busy.” Hawke clears his throat, rubbing the back of his neck.

“Cole? Who’s Cole?”

“Nicole,” he clarifies as if he misspoke.

This is the only time he gets a pass for calling me that.

Patrick gives him a little curious glance then brushes it away. “Oh yeah, she must’ve told you I was leaving town. I’ll be gone for a few days.”

Hawke nods his head slowly, his eyes slightly narrowed. Clearly we never talked about it but he’s playing along best he can.

My heart is beating out of my chest for some reason. I swallow nervously, then turn to Patrick to change the subject. “Lunch? Want a sandwich today?”

“Nah, I’ll just eat out. Maybe you, if you’re around.” He nuzzles his nose into me and I blush in embarrassment.

He leans in and gives me a kiss on the lips, before squeezing me against him, cupping me in front of Hawke.

I quickly glance over to him and he’s staring at a spot on the floor intently. Jaw tight as he holds onto the kitchen chair with white knuckles, seemingly uncomfortable.

This PDA is becoming too uncomfortable for me lately, but I can't let anyone know that it bothers me. Wouldn't want someone thinking the wrong thing. I smile at Patrick then shy away from his embrace.

“I’ll be back around five tonight. Maybe we can watch another episode of Survivor? We need to catch up.” He kisses my cheek, grabbing his keys off the counter and heads for the door. “Love you, angel. Have a good day. Later Hawke!”

Survivor, his favorite show that he assumes I like because I enjoy time with him, even if he makes me watch old episodes of an overdone reality TV game show.

I smile, and give a light wave, crossing my arms in my robe while I chew on my thumb watching his departure.

“Survivor?” Hawke scoffs from behind me.

I turn, facing him with a painful scowl. “Shut up.”

He laughs at my remark, then pours up two cups of coffee. One for him, and my favorite mug for me. He remembered?

“He’s leaving next week?” he questions, making small talk.

“Yeah, work has him going to Colorado so...guess he’ll be gone for a few days.”

“Nice." He purses his lips together and looks at me like he’s waiting for something.


He straightens from the position he was stuck in. “Nothing, I just meant good for him.”

He’s acting weird. Insinuating something, giving me funny eyes, but I can’t never quite grasp what he’s up to. He stalls, looking at me like I’m crazy, for not understanding. But understanding Hawke and the complexities that encompass him is not something that comes easily to me.

Grabbing his cup he makes his way towards the living room, plopping down on the couch and turning the TV on as if he’s been doing it for years.

I can’t ignore the fact that he’s so casually effortless in his look. The sweats just always work for his tall, statuesque frame. But it’s more than just that. He looks content and relaxed. His face is a lot brighter than when he originally showed up. He just seems...happier.

Maybe Susie-sucks-a lot cured him?

He calls to me, snapping me out of my little daydream. “Cole. Get over here, Scarface is on.”

A smile creeps across my face. Now we’re talkin’ my language.

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