“I’m sorry,” I flutter my lashes at him, biting my bottom lip as my fingers trace the scratches on his chest.
“Please,” he scoffs beneath me. “These wounds are worth it.”
I eye the bite marks, the row of hickeys I left along his collarbone and shoulder, remembering the heat that was last night.
“I’ve had a decent amount of sex in my life, but nothing...nothing compares to this shit right here.” He points his fingers to my body, scrolling up and down with a look of disbelief.
I blush while straddling his lap, his back against the headboard, his hands now massaging my exposed thighs, the morning light sneaking in through the window.
Things got a little wild last night. I’ve never experienced anything like it. He taught me like the eager student I was, trying new things that set my insides on fire. We were exploring one another, finding out what made each of us tick.
He was so amazing with me too, giving me little bits of praise, telling me how good I was doing, how I was driving him wild. His deep, raspy tone while telling me he was going to come in me, sent me so far over the edge that my eyes were rolling to the back of my head in pleasure.
We were addicted, our new drug, our insatiable appetite for each other. It was never enough, we just couldn’t get close enough. Our bodies synched together like we’ve been connecting for years.
At one point, I was on top of him on his bed while he held my hands behind my back, restraining me while bringing me to the brink of orgasm. The sensations became so intense I broke free of his hold, grabbing onto his chest and raked my nails down the tanned, tattooed skin, leaving marks in their trail.
“I think you’ve brought out a new side of me,” I chuckle, slightly embarrassed.
“Nah, it was always there, just not being utilized,” he declares shaking his head. “What a fucking shame.”
I bite the corner of my lip, blushing again at his words, before grabbing his hands and placing the palms against mine.
“Cameron Hawke,” I whisper, measuring our hands.
“Cam and Cole,” he says, with a shy smile, eyeing my little hand against his.
“Why don’t you ever go by your first name?” I ask curiously.
He sighs, looking down at our connected hands before speaking. “My dad’s nickname while he was in the navy was Mouse. They called him that as a joke because he never seemed to live up to his name in their eyes. They were horrible to him. Especially when he slowly became weaker and weaker, not knowing that he was fighting his own battle with colon cancer the entire time.”
I sit there, listening intently to his story as I slowly weave my fingers through his.
“We moved from Virginia Beach when I was ten and he was discharged for medical reasons. He brought me here to focus on his health, his treatments. He actually went into remission for years before it came back again, but he couldn’t keep up the fight. The last thing he told me was to never let anyone define what they don’t understand, and that no one can define who you are but you.”
I squeeze his hands, holding my against my chest as my eyes wince at his father’s dying words.
“He was the strongest man I’ve ever known. I decided I’d embrace the name for my father and hunt through life like a hawk. Always went by it. Not that it always helped me. I was lost without him, and then after Ben, I was gone for good. Led astray by the wolves who took advantage of that. Not many people even know my real name, besides attorneys and all that.”
“I do.” I say softly, feeling beyond lucky to know this side of him.
“Yeah, you do.” He grins back at me then drags his tongue against this lower lip, looking at mine.
I lean forward capturing his bottom lip between mine, slowly sucking on it until it springs back, making him smile.
“And what about your family? I know you mentioned your sister, but what about your parents?” he asks, bringing our conjoined hands up to his lips, rubbing my knuckles against them while looking at me with his brows raised.
I take a deep breath and let it out. “Well, they’re divorced. My dad was cheating on my mom with a younger woman whose name just so happens to be Nicole. He’s actively trying to bring her into our lives.” I roll my eyes.
“Shit,” he grimaces, seemingly now understanding my hatred for the name.
“I was so mad at him,” I say, looking down at our hands. “For cheating...”
I feel like a bit of a hypocrite. Granted, my situation is different. This isn’t a marriage, but the underlying principle remains the same.
His eyes go back and forth between mine, reading me. Understanding me without needing to talk.
“Sometimes you can’t control it...” he says softly, studying my face, running the backs of his fingers against my cheek, “...these feelings.”
Today ends the ease of our secret connection. We’ve been playing house, so to speak, but reality is about to slap us across the face. This was an easy escape, having Patrick out of town, everything else that follows today will be difficult. I’m feeling anxious, nervous for his return. Everything will shift, the entire dynamic Hawke and I have created will change. I need to be extra cautious going forward.
“I just don’t know how to go about this.” I breathe out a big puff of air.
“You just have to do what feels right to you, whatever that decision may be.”
He says it as if knowing he might not be a part of what feels right to me, as if there’s a chance that I won’t choose him, as if already preparing himself for that scenario.
We sit there together, me on his lap, his hands on my face, and we study each other, pulling everything we can out of these seconds that seem to run faster when we’re together. I know every tiny freckle on his nose, I know the way his eyelashes curl, the tiny specs of brown within his teal and green eyes. We sit there with music playing in the background and just appreciate each and every minute we are given, knowing there is a limit to this, knowing it’s going to be ending this afternoon.
His hands wrap around the sides of my neck, running his thumbs over my bottom lip. His face turns serious as he studies the curve of my smile.
“Don’t lose me in the madness,” he says softly.
My heart aches at his words.
I shake my head, as if to tell him that would be impossible.
“I know what he does to you. He gets in your head,” he explains, licking his lips while looking at mine. “Just be careful who you trust.”
His words hit a nerve. He’s giving me a warning of sorts, as if predicting a fall out.
“You’re saying I shouldn’t trust him?” I question, needing some clarity to his suggestive words.
His jaw tightens as he swallows, holding back something from me. I get the feeling he knows something but can’t tell me. He’s doing that thing again where he looks into my eyes hoping I’ll just figure it all out.
His eyes fall down to my lap, then behind me in the direction of his desk. The desk with the shoebox of packed away memories of Ben.
“What happened between you two?” I whisper cautiously, studying his face for a reaction, needing answers.
I know just by the look in his eyes, the words he uttered to me when we were on the couch weeks ago were regarding me. One day. One day you’ll learn the truth, and it’ll change everything.
With a sickening feeling in my stomach, I’m jolted into pure panic mode when I hear the sound of keys opening the front door.
Hawke’s eyes dart towards the door, then back at me, before jumping into action and helping me off his lap.
“Fuck,” he mutters silently.
I run to the corner of the room, both hands covering my mouth, wearing only the oversized t-shirt I had on yesterday.
Pants. Where are my pants?!
I rack my memory, realizing the pants are on the floor by the couch where Hawke peeled them from my legs.
Oh my god. This is it. This is the end.
Hawke’s eyes are panicked, he throws on a pair of sweatpants, making sure to lock his door quickly. I can hear Patrick walk in through the door, dropping his bags by the table.
“Fuck!” I mouth to Hawke.
He looks at me with his knuckles to his mouth, his eyes searching the room. He finds a pair of his basketball shorts, throwing them to me to put on.
My heart is racing and I literally feel like everything around me is getting hazy. I’m losing feeling in my legs.
“Listen to me,” Hawke says calmly and quietly. “I’m going to go out there, you’re going to sneak out of this window. I’ll tell him you went for a run, and distract him, then you’ll come in and run to the shower immediately, okay?”
My chest is heaving as his hands hold my upper arms, his face directly in mine, making me look at him.
“Okay?!” he says again, desperately.
I swallow down bile, nodding. “Okay.”
He walks me to the window, slowly opening it up without making noise. I can’t help but feel like the complete whore than I am at the moment. I’m reminded of the first time I met Hawke and there was another woman sneaking out of this same window.
With his hands helping me down, he holds on for a moment longer, making me look at him in the room again.
“Cole, you got this,” he says, his eyes looking determined, yet worried at the same time.
I nod silently, then duck off until I hit the trees nearby towards the back of the house. Once I’m hidden behind the brush, I tie my shirt back tight and roll up the shorts so they fit me better. Taking a deep, unsteady breath, I make my way to the sidewalk and begin walking around the block, heading towards the house again.
My hands are shaking uncontrollably. I can’t imagine the conversation Hawke is having with him. I wonder if he’s nervous, if he’s worried about me. It’s then I remember he wasn’t wearing a shirt, only pants. The hickeys, the scratches, all on display.
“Oh fuck my life.” I bend over on the sidewalk, having a difficult time breathing, when a car drives past. I raise my hand and wave with a forced grin, as if just bending over to catch a breath from this run I’m on, not the fact that I’m about to lose the contents of my stomach because I’m a cheating slut who was almost caught.
I hear Hawke’s voice in my head again. Cole, you got this.
Running my hands down my face, I put one foot in front of the other and make my way back. Patrick’s car is parked in the driveway. The sight of it, like a punch to the chest. My shaking hand grabs for the door handle, pushing it open.
I’m sweating, beads of sweat accumulating on my forehead, actually appearing as if I was working out. My worried eyes scan the kitchen, finding it empty. Nearby in the living room, I spot the guys sitting and talking on the couch. Hawke’s still shirtless.
“Babe! There you are,” Patrick says, getting up from the couch.
Hawke’s eyes dart towards me, confidence behind his glance. I can hear his voice in my head again.
“Hey! You’re back! Sorry, just went for a run, let me clean up.” I smile, then dip into the bathroom quickly.
I shut the door, leaning back against it and slide down to the floor. I’m breathing like I competed in a triathlon. Attempting to calm myself, I hear Patrick start talking about Colorado. Letting out a small sigh of relief, I turn on the water and get into the shower.
Walking back out into the living room after changing, Hawke’s eyes find me first, making my stomach flip. Patrick traces his glance and turns to face me, getting off the couch.
“Hey baby,” he says with a smile, approaching me and pulling me into his arms.
“You’re home early,” I smile back, then give him a hug.
I see Hawke over Patrick’s shoulder where he’s giving me an unreadable stare before pulling back from the hug.
“I wanted to surprise you. My morning meeting got cancelled so I switched flights. I was hoping to wake you up with some breakfast in bed,” he grins, pointing to the kitchen table which has a rolled up coffee shop bag on it.
“Aw, that’s sweet of you.” I force a smile, feeling awful.
“You feeling alright? You look kinda pale,” he asks, placing the back of his hand on my cheek.
“Yeah, I’m just a little dizzy is all. I shouldn’t go running without something in my stomach, silly me.”
“Well here, come sit down,” he guides me over to the couch sitting me down next to Hawke. “I’ll get you a bagel.”
I’ve never wanted to be anywhere else so bad. I’m the worst person in the world. I’m so caught up in this web of lies and tangled emotions.
Hawke leans forward, his elbows on his knees next to me, staring at Patrick while he whispers to me, “Just breathe, Cole.”
I suck in a deep breath, then sigh it out, plastering on a fake smile as Patrick comes back with a loaded bagel.
“Thank you, so much.”
“Of course, angel.” He grins, looking between Hawke and I. “So, can you believe this guy? You see his chest?!”
Patrick shakes his head in disbelief with a smile on his face as my face drops entirely.
Vomit. I’m going to vomit.
“What happened?” I ask like an idiot, keeping my eyes on the bagel, refusing to look at Hawke, knowing if I do I might crack.
“A crazy night by the looks of it!” Patrick says, laughing, as my eyes peer over at Hawke.
Hawke pinches the bridge between his nose, shaking his head while chuckling lightly. I can tell he doesn’t want to divulge. He doesn’t want Patrick asking about it at all.
“It was wild,” he smirks, looking down at the floor, running his tongue along his teeth.
“Reminds me of you,” Patrick nudges me with his elbow, leaning in towards my face, nuzzling me.
I want to die.
“Well, I should get going.” Hawke stands abruptly from his seat on the couch.
“Got some interviews today?” Patrick asks as Hawke’s eyes narrow slightly.
I can tell he’s annoyed by the question, but he’s holding back.
“Yeah, a couple. I’ll get outta your hair, let you two spend some time together,” he responds, making my heart sink.
I don’t want him to leave, yet this is entirely uncomfortable for me having them both in the same room.
“Alone time.” Patrick smiles, wrapping an arm around my waist. “Just what we need.”
I glance at Hawke as he makes his way around the couch, but he doesn’t look at me. He leaves the room, heading for the bathroom, never turning back. The last sight I see is his reflection in the bathroom mirror, raking his hands down his face before the door closes.
Something about this moment makes me apprehensive of Hawke’s willingness to go along with this for the time being. I’m already afraid of losing him and everything we’ve built together. We’ve opened up, found a level of trust and I can’t go back.
For all that he’s said to me about understanding and waiting until I can figure this out, a part of my worries that the only thing that makes him feel, will ultimately be his undoing.