11. The Trip
After I got out of the shower, I wrapped myself in my silk robe and went to our bedroom to get into something comfortable before bed. I needed that breather to cool off. Had I stayed at the table, who knows what would’ve come out of my mouth next.
As I walk into the room, Patrick is sitting on the edge of our mattress, waiting for me with his head in his hands. He looks up with a soft look on his face upon hearing me.
He stands, walking towards me, shaking his head. “Nic, I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.”
He wraps his arms around me as I stand still, holding onto my anger, unable to just let it go.
“What I said was awful. It’s been such a difficult week and I’ve been overworked and stressed and what I said was uncalled for. I went too far. I should’ve never said that. I feel awful. I apologize for hurting you.”
His sincerity rings true. It’s evident in the redness of his eyes. It’s not like Patrick to do this. He’s never talked down to me like this before. In all honesty, we were the couple everyone admired in college. We didn’t fight, we didn’t have drama like other relationships surrounding us. People always looked at us as the relationship that they strove for. But what was becoming of us?
As much as I want to stay mad, he is leaving tomorrow for two nights and I’m going to regret holding this grudge longer than I should. I know he’s truly sorry. But he needs to know what he said was wrong.
“It’s just not cool. You can’t use my father against me like that. It hurts, Patrick, you know that.”
“I know Nic, God, I’m so sorry.” He holds my face in his, brushing his lips against mine. “You mean so much to me.”
He presses his lips to mine in a tender kiss, and I part from him. “I’m just really tired.”
He holds my hands, bringing me over to the bed and helping me under the covers. Wrapping an arm around me, he pulls me back into him, whispering into my ear. “I love you, Nic.”
“I love you too.”
I say the phrase but still feel the pain of his words. He plants kisses along my neck and jaw, littering me with love to make amends, but it’s just not working for me at the moment. I’m hurt.
I wake up, after falling asleep in that same position with Patrick, to a dark room. Checking the clock I see it’s around two in the morning. Realization hits me and I remember I left out all of the burgers and sides I made for dinner, and knowing men, they’re probably all still sitting out on the counter, spoiling.
I slip back into my robe, tying it over my underwear and tank top and make my way to the kitchen. As soon as I open the door, I see a light shining from the kitchen. Walking up to the table, my lip curls into a little grin.
Hawke turns to me from the sink, his brows raised in surprise at my voice. The way his forehead wrinkles as his hair falls into his eyes as he looks at me gives me a strange tingling sensation at the back of my neck.
“Oh, hey, thought you were sleeping,” he says softly, putting the pan in the drying rack then drying his hands with the towel slung over his tatted up shoulder.
He was washing dishes.
He must’ve just taken a shower because his hair is extra shiny, as if it’s halfway dry, and he’s wearing a new set of grey sweatpants hanging off his hips. I can count every ripple, every ridge of his abdomen, with the way the kitchen light is highlighting them from above. It’s insane.
“I was, I just forgot about the food with everything that happened...” I trail.
“You alright?” he asks abruptly, like he’s been wanting to ask for awhile.
“I- uh, yeah...I’m fine. Sorry I ruined dinner.”
“You didn’t ruin anything.”
I pause, looking up at his concerned face. His green eyes look darker in the light of the moon. I’d never take him for the sensitive, empathetic type, yet here he is surprising me again. I totally judged this book by it’s cover way too early.
“Thank you. And thanks for cleaning up.” I smile lightly, appreciative.
“It’s nothin’.” He brushes me off, sitting down at the chair across the table from me. “So, did you guys make up? Make him sin again?”
His face is serious, then breaks into a deep hearty laugh, holding his hand across his lips to suppress it.
“Shut up.” I laugh along with him, dropping my head into my hand.
“Honestly that was the funniest shit I’ve heard in a long time. You didn’t hold back, and to be honest, you were totally right. I’ve just never seen anyone lay it on him like that.” He looks at me, impressed.
I rest my elbows on the table, holding my head up as I listen to him.
“I just wonder…” he trails, almost unsure if he should finish the sentence.
I feel like I know what he’s going to say and the question he asks I don’t have the answer.
“It’s just hard for me sometimes...to deal with the family and the expectations...” I trail, realizing I may have said too much.
I don’t want to disrespect their family, talking bad about them with Hawke, who I still barely know.
“Hey.” He reaches his hand across the table, grabbing mine. The simple gesture giving me instant butterflies in my gut again. “It’s okay.”
It’s like he can read my mind. He stares through me, feeling the hesitation I hold in my heart. He’s allowing me to be open and feel what I’m feeling. To be honest with myself. Something I haven’t done in awhile. But, it’s too much for me. I’m not ready.
I smile nervously, then slowly pull my hand away. “Thank you. I really appreciate it. I should— I should get back to bed. Have to get up early to get him to the airport.”
Hawke watches our hands separate for a moment, staring at the table. Finally he nods and stands. “Yeah, of course.”
I start walking back towards the bedroom, then stall when I reach the door, my hand on the frame, remembering when he was leaning against it above me with that look in his eyes. That look of need. That look of knowing. Knowing that there’s no going back.
I turn back to face him, to tell him goodnight, to tell him thanks again, to look into his eyes and feel whatever it is that I feel when he looks at me, but when I look back, he’s gone.
That next morning after departing with Patrick at the airport, with a few more ‘I’m sorry’s’ and ‘I’ll call you the whole time’s’, he flies out to Colorado and I make my way back to the house. I feel empty inside. Stuck in a moment. It’s a strange feeling I can’t seem to explain.
It’s quiet when I get there. I don’t know what I was expecting but I guess I’d hoped to see Hawke standing in the kitchen in his sweats, making us some coffee while The Irishmen was starting on Netflix. But he wasn’t there. The place couldn’t be more silent, more lonely. I make the decision to go back to bed for a while, cuddle up and try to forget everything and everyone.
When I wake a few hours later, I smell coffee brewing from the kitchen. An excitement fills me that he might be out there. Maybe he’s back. Going to the bathroom and brushing my teeth again, I fix my frumpy look and put my hair up into a messy bun. I don’t look awful, not amazing by any means, but I feel cute enough to be seen.
Walking into the kitchen, I look around for him. I see the pot of coffee and a little note scribbled next to it.
For you. See you later.
I frown a little at the note. I can’t lie to myself, there was some excitement in knowing I’d be able to hang out with my new friend today, watch movies, maybe even order some takeout while simultaneously working. Not spending time with him makes me realize how much I truly enjoy spending time with him.
He makes me feel good about myself in a completely different way. I can be myself without worrying about saying the wrong thing or sounding like an idiotic. He wasn’t a judgmental person by any means, especially because he’d actually gone through tough times himself. He was more open minded than Patrick which made talking to him delightfully interesting.
See you later? I wonder when that meant. This afternoon? Tonight? It was kinda bothering me not to know. I brush it aside, grabbing the delicious coffee and begin working on my edits for the day. Lucky for me, I love my work and when I’m genuinely interested, I get sucked into stories that take me new places for hours at a time.
Around dinner time, the house is still silent. I’d texted Patrick this afternoon, wondering if he’d made it safely there, but never heard back. He promised me he’d text, facetime, whatever it was going to be, I’d hear from him. But, nothing.
After sending my work in, and making myself a bowl of soup for dinner, I’d come to accept that I probably wouldn’t hear from anyone tonight. I settle into the couch to watch some reruns of a favorite comedy show of mine when I hear some rumbling at the door.
It rattles, and the door shakes, until I hear a loud bang against it, followed by a dragging sound. Getting up, I run around the couch to peer out the peephole, seeing nothing but legs that look like they’re coming out of the bottom of the door with all too familiar boots.
I open it as Hawke falls back onto me. “Fuck.”
“Hawke, oh my God, what are you doing!?” I shriek, catching him under his arms.
He’s so heavy, like dead weight. He reeks of alcohol and a combination of other substances. He’s clearly messed up. I vaguely remember him telling Kid that he can’t be caught doing drugs at the moment, he could get sent back to prison. I have to get him in this house.
“Cole.” He groans. “I didn’t want you to...”
“Shhh, just c’mon, lets get inside.”
I successfully drag him into the house with his assistance and lay him down on the couch.
“What did you do?! Are you drunk? What are you on?” I ask him with legitimate concern.
“Just— just go to your room.” he slurs, running his hands down his face.
His black t-shirt is riding up on his abdomen and I see the tattoo that says ‘Every saint has a past, every sinner has a future’ right above his pelvis. His ripped, dark jeans are hanging around his waist, and his big black boots are half untied, his hair all disheveled.
“Go to your room Cole!” he yells, his bloodshot eyes staring into me.
“No.” I retort.
He throws his head back against the couch, giving up the fight, clearly not in the right frame of mind to try and win this battle.
I make my way to the kitchen and fill up a large cup with ice water handing it to him before grabbing a frozen pizza and putting it in the oven.
Reluctantly taking the water, he downs the entire glass before me. I listen as his lip ring hits the glass, his throat rolls, and his Adam’s apple bounces as he swallows it all. He pulls the empty glass from his mouth and the water clings to his lips like it loves where it is.
“Patrick’s in Denver?” he asks, staring straight ahead into the wall as if trying to focus.
“I don’t know, I think so.” I shrug.
“He didn’t call you?” His eyes narrow in disgust.
I shake my head no. He scoffs then rolls his eyes.
I’m sure my relationship with Patrick is a total joke to him. He doesn’t seem like the kind of guy who would ever want to commit to only one person. Where’s the fun in mild sex and occasional fighting? But it’s the love he doesn’t see that makes it worth it, it’s the trust that makes it sustain. Right?
After the pizza is done, I bring him a plate full to where he’s still laying on the sectional.
“You didn’t need to do this,” he comments, still sounding messed up, looking up at me through his long eyelashes, his eyes, red as ever.
“Shut-up and eat,” I reply, then grin, because that felt good to say.
“Damn. Who are you?” he looks at me with eyebrows raised, then grins back lazily, taking the pizza from my hands.
He eats and I refill his water.
“So are you going to tell me why you were out drinking?” I ask with humor in my tone.
“Ha, I figured. You’re reckless. You’re trouble.” I say playfully, sitting down next to him.
Teasing him is slowly becoming my new favorite hobby. I like our banter.
He leans back against the couch again, licking his lips, then looks at me with hooded eyes and no humor whatsoever. “You have no idea.”
I take in a breath, my mouth feeling dry all of a sudden. “I’ll get you a blanket.”
I grab a blanket from the basket near the TV, assuming he’s probably just going to crash where he’s at. I hand it to him, with a light smile. He looks at the blanket, then at me, then grabs it with his hand. The hand with the black hawk on it, the hand with the black rings adding to his whole look, the hand that screams masculine.
After he grabs it, he grabs my outreached hand. His eyes close tightly as if fighting himself. “Stay.”
The one word drops from his mouth as a command, not a question. The one word that means more than the definition itself. The word carries a weight with it. A weight I want to carry.
He opens his reddened eyes, his lips just barely parted, before kicking off his boots and laying back casually. He opens the blanket for me to lay next to him. I stand there for a second, debating whether or not this is a good idea. I know it’s not, but I find any excuse to make it one. It’s only cuddling, it’s only the couch, he’s only a friend. Where’s the harm in that?
I lay beside him, my back to his chest as he props the pillow beneath my neck for support. He’s so warm yet so hard against me. His long arm drapes around me, pulling me tightly to him as he adjusts his position, fitting perfectly against me. He breathes me in then sighs. It feels way better than it should and I don’t know what to do with that. I’m losing myself to him, slowly but surely.
I drift off in a new place. A place that’s terrifying, yet comforting, amazing effortless, yet filled with trouble. I’m crossing a line that shouldn’t be crossed, but can’t help but inch closer and closer to that satisfying destruction I desire.