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14. The Aftermath

I don’t know what to do.

I stayed in the bathroom for what felt like hours. Terrified to see him. Terrified to face this new reality.

It’s official. I cheated on Patrick.

The overwhelming sense of guilt floods me as I drown in my own tears. I can’t believe I allowed myself to fall to the temptation, to succumb to a feeling so immature and irresponsible.

I was mad at him, yes, I was drinking, yes, but even with that, it still felt better than anything I’d ever experienced. And this was before the orgasm.

Flashbacks of Hawke’s face above me fill my vision with every blink of my eyes. I can’t undo it, this tingling in the pit of my stomach when I think of him. He’s seeped beneath my skin, somehow got through and I’m so blended by the passion of it all, I strangely find myself not wanting to let it go, but wanting another taste.

But I have to end this. It was wrong. What am I going to say to Patrick? How will I fix this? I come to the horrible conclusion that I’ll wait a few days, think it over, try to decipher what this little mental blip was before I expose my wrongdoings.

Maybe I was so sexually frustrated over never having that release with Patrick that I just bubbled over and let it all go. I couldn’t say for sure, but it was definitely out of character.

A part of me was hoping I’d never see Hawke again. That in the aftermath of what happened, he’d decided it was best to hop on a jet and leave the country forever. Another small part of me kind of wished he’d come check on me, make sure I was alright.

I hate every part of this.

Leaving the bathroom, I slowly open the door, peaking out into the living room. Hawke is sitting up on the couch, his arm resting on the back of it, watching TV as if it’s just another normal night. But it’s not.

I tiptoe my way to the bedroom, but cross his line of vision.

“Cole,” he calls out, immediately seeing me.

I’m frozen in place. Slowly turning to look at him, my heart is racing, and I feel like I could vomit.

“Casino is on. Wanna watch?”

His casual tone throws me off guard. Maybe this is normal for him. Fuck around, forget about it? He doesn’t seem bothered in the least.

I take a deep breath, hoping a steady voice comes out. “Uh, yeah, just a sec.”

I hop into some sweatpants and an oversized sweatshirt, anything to insinuate what happened will never happen again, and make my way back to the opposite end of the couch.

His eyes follow me and a light chuckle escapes him as he sees my intentions. We watch in silence for a bit when he finally speaks.

“It’s not a big deal.” My eyes lock on his as he continues. “It’s not, really.”

He shakes his head, rolling his eyes like I’m overreacting over what happened. He can sense I’m totally in my head over it, hating myself.

And yet, his cool demeanor upsets me. It is a big deal. It's a big deal to me. It’s changed my relationship. Now I have this cloud hanging above me, while Hawke can go on living his normal life, hooking up with different women every week. Kisses and orgasms don’t mean anything in the world of Hawke. He gives them out like Hallmark does cards on Valentine’s day.

“C’mon don’t be mad,” he whispers, giving a head nod, opening the blanket up beside him, patting the empty space.

I glare at him. Ugh, I want so badly just to hate him right now. I want to hate Patrick. I want to hate everyone. But I can’t. I don’t know why. That space beside him is calling my name like a snake, begging me to bite that apple, the toxic juices sliding down my throat just waiting to bring me to a sudden death.

I get up, walking the three steps to him and sit down in a huff. A grin pulls at his devilish lips, those lips that I now know taste like cinnamon and faded cigarettes. The lip ring, I now know feels cool against my lips, the way it ever so lightly rubs my bottom lip while he tongues me. I hate that I know that. I hate that I like that.

He pulls the blanket over us, sinking back into the couch with his arm around my shoulders, bringing me against his hardened chest. It’s a horrible idea, but I can’t help but feel a little comforted by it.

Maybe we can do this. Maybe we can just be friends who cuddle and occasionally get fingered to their first orgasm. Oh who am I kidding. This is all sorts of fucked up. But I’m sinking deeper and deeper and for some reason, the darkness never felt so good.***

I awake to a soft feeling against my lips. A kiss. It feels so good, my lips move along with the second one. It’s warm, it’s gentle, it’s caring.

“Patrick, you came back early?” I whisper against the kiss, feeling that lip ring.

Lip ring.

I open my eyes and gasp. “Oh, my god. Hawke. I—”

I’m left speechless, I’m still on the couch, next to Hawke, not in my bed as envisioned. I don’t even know what to say or do. First of all, what the hell? Why is he kissing me while I’m sleeping? And second, what the hell am I doing with my life right now!? We slept here. Together. All night. Again. This is a mess!

He gets up off me, moving to sit at the end of the couch with his elbows on his knees, staring off at the wall.

“I’m sorry, I thought I was in my room. I-I’m sorry.” I shake my head, leaning forward towards him, not knowing what to make of this.

He shakes his head, closing his eyes, leaning away from my approach, seemingly upset.

“Don’t apologize to me. I shouldn’t have,” he says blandly.

I bite the corner of my lip, not sure what to do. I’m waiting on him to make the next move. To tell me where we stand now in the light of day. The day my boyfriend comes back home. But, he just shakes his head at the wall.

“Want some coffee? I’ll start up—”

“You better go fix up before Patrick gets back. Wouldn’t want him worrying over nothing,” he interrupts.


He thinks I feel the need to fix myself up so Patrick doesn’t know I’m a whore. Awesome. And worrying over nothing? Guess I am just another Hallmark receiver.

He stands abruptly, heading towards his room, where he slams the door without another word.

I wince then take a deep breath, and let it out. I can’t figure him out. I hate that I may have hurt him, but then again, did I? I never even thought I could to be honest. Maybe he wasn’t just toying with me for entertainment like all the other girls. Maybe this was something different. What if I wasn’t just another play thing to him? His words last night strike a chord. “You wreck me.”

How am I wrecking him?

Either way I had to put an end to it. It’s wrong. I can’t be this woman who holds secrets inside of her, filling her until the pressure becomes too much, until the point of eruption. I had to think this through so I didn’t lose the man I knew best. The man I should’ve never done this to. My hardworking, loyal Patrick.

And he’s literally on his way home. I check my phone, trying to see if he’s reached out to me at all. I tried calling him last night and was ignored. As much as it pissed me off, I feel I have no legs to stand on. I’d hate to think he’s mad about our little argument when, to be honest, there was much more for him to be mad at.

I deceived him.

Like clockwork my phone rings.

“Patrick? Did your flight just land?” I rush, answering a bit too energetically.

“It did indeed. I’ll be riding home with my dad. He can drop me off so don’t worry about a ride.”

I wasn’t even thinking about it at all. Preoccupied mind.

“Oh good, that’s great. I guess I’ll see you soon then.” I respond, attempting to dry my wet palms on the comforter I was clutching.

“Sounds good, and Nic?” His voice is soft and hesitant.

Stomach full of nervous energy hits.

“Yeah?” I squeak out.

“I missed you,” he says sadly.

Deep breath in, deep breath out.

“I missed you, too.” I whisper.

He hangs up and I face plant into the bed. I hate myself. So much.

A few hours go by and I’ve committed myself to my work. Manuscripts left and right, pages of notes, edits, messages to myself. I’m clearly working as hard as possible to disappear into a fictional world than focus on my own issues. Either way, I’ve somehow accomplished a decent amount in only a few hours.

Pulling my earbuds out, I check the clock again, knowing Patrick has to be close. I put on some leggings and a cute crop top tee with my wavy hair down my back. Casual, comfortable, yet cute. Anything that says, I’m not trying too hard because I totally messed up while you were away.

I begin grounding some beef in the kitchen for tacos, assuming he might be hungry when he gets back. That, and food has a way of making people happier. Peering over towards Hawke’s room, I see the light is off. I’m assuming he left at some point while I was working. Maybe he left so he doesn’t have to face Patrick himself after what we did. I mean, they used to be friends, or something.

“Nic?” I hear Patrick’s voice by the door, making my heart swell.

I walk out of the kitchen and see him at the door with his bags and a bouquet of flowers in his hand.

I frown immediately upon seeing them, and then turn it into a sorrowful smile. God, I’m the worst type of human ever.

“Patrick, you shouldn’t have. You are so sweet,” I say, helping him by taking them off his hands.

He walks into the house, setting his bags by the kitchen table, then stands with his arms open, waiting for me.

I smile sheepishly, then enter his embrace. He wraps his arms so tightly around me, kissing the top of my head, as I breathe him in. He still smells like the flowers.

“I’m sorry, Nic.” He pulls back away from our hug, looking me in the eyes.

“No-no really, it’s nothi—”

“No, you’re right,” he interrupts. “I should always come to you first. We’re a team. We work best when we work together. I won’t ever make a decision without you or make you feel like you aren’t important in our partnership. I ignored the situation rather than deal with it and your feelings.”

Twist the knife once you stab yourself. Feels great.

He cups the sides of my face in his hands then kisses my forehead before leaning against it with his.

“We really should talk.” I sigh, looking at the floor.

Am I really doing this? Can I bring myself to tell him?

“Later, angel. We can hash everything out later. Right now, I just want to get comfortable, and spend time with you.”

He pulls me into his chest again, rubbing my arms with his hands. I tighten my jaw, holding back the tears I feel on the brink of release, scrunching my nose to hold back the pain.

The rest of the night is spent eating tacos, laughing, cuddling, watching movies, and reconnecting together, just us. We didn’t address the issues at hand, on either side. Do we have things to work through? Of course, it’s literally pertinent for the survival of our relationship. But tonight it seems we both wanted to forget.

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