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31. Cold Hard Truths

I have a hard time finding it, I barely remember how we got there the last time. I take a few wrong turns and have to turn around on some back country roads. It’s confusing as hell out here and it doesn’t help that it’s pitch black outside.

I finally come across the country road sign for the gravel road leading to it. Driving through the windy pathway, I pull up, putting my car in park next to a few others.

I knock lightly on the locked door. The cool breeze of the night chilling my bones. My heart rate starts to increase at the idea that I’m not even wanted here. I don’t even know who owns this cabin to be honest. This was a stupid idea.

After getting no response, I back down the stairs, keeping an eye on the door, until finally turning and walking down the gravel driveway to my car again.

“Cole?” Hawke’s soft, hoarse voice calls.

I turn immediately at the sound, the ache in his tone already hitting home.

“Hawke, what are you doing?” I ask, making my way to him.

I quickly walk up the stairs to where he’s leaning against the door frame and the opened door on his forearms, just barely holding himself up.

His black, inky hair is all disheveled and his black jeans are opened and barely hanging on to his slim hips. His lack of a shirt, showcasing those randomly placed tattoos and rippled abs makes me suddenly queasy. Why is he half naked? The reason I can assume makes my stomach churn in sickening displeasure.

“I’m celebrating, what are you doing?” he slurs slightly, clearly messed up on something.

Celebrating? I can smell the alcohol on his breath but feel like there’s more to it than that. His pupils are like saucers and his eyes seem oddly wide.

“Hawke,” I whisper, looking over him sadly then returning my eyes to his.

“Nic,” he whispers back, mocking me.

I hate how he calls me that. I’m not Nic to him, I’m Cole. His coldness is sending shivers down my spine. This isn’t the man I’ve come to know.

He stumbles backwards, fumbling towards the kitchen. I follow him inside, tucking my hands in my coat pocket, peeking around the corner, seeing a group of a few people in the living room. There’s rock music playing and a couple of the people appear to be passed out already.

“Whose cabin is this?” I ask, slowly making my way towards him.

“So many questions, never any answers,” he mumbles, falling back against the counter, finding his bottle of Hennessy, which is only a quarter full, lifting it to his lips and taking a long pull of the strong liquor.

I roll my eyes at his behavior. If anything he’s the one withholding all the answers.

“Hey! There’s my girl!” Kid announces loudly from his seat in the living room as Hawke scoffs.

His arm is around some girl and she’s lazily laying into him. The rest of the people there turn to face me, sending questionable looks my way. I notice Marion in the group and instantly feel sick.

“Can we talk?” I ask Hawke, grabbing for his upper arm.

He pulls his arm away from my touch, as if it burns him. “Talk? About what?”

“Cam, please,” I beg quietly, grabbing his hand in mine. “Can we go to a room for a second?”

The group is staring at us, silently talking and smirking as we converse. Marion’s eyes are narrowed at us and I know just how weird this must look. I don’t care anymore though, I need to try and get through to him somehow.

His tightened jaw loosens at the feeling of my hand in his. “Fine,” he says, shaking his head.

We walk into the room where he goes and plops his unsteady form down onto the lounge chair in the corner. He’s holding the Hennessy by the neck of the bottle, hanging it over the side of the chair as he lays spread out on his back, staring at the ceiling.

I see a pair of women’s underwear lying on the floor between us. My eyes stare at them, wanting to cry, but holding back the pain. He snaps his head up, waiting for me to talk, then notices why I haven’t said anything.

“Ah, yes. How perfect,” he groans, throwing his head back again.

It’s all adding up. His shirtless form, the underwear, the drugs, the alcohol.

“I know what you’re wondering. Yeah, maybe it’s Marion’s,” he says after setting the bottle down. “Maybe we just fucked.”

He shrugs like the statement didn’t just send a knife through my heart. I blink my eyes profusely, trying to take slow, steady breaths to not cry.

“Maybe after we fucked, she fell asleep on my lap on the couch while I rubbed her perfect, fuckable ass as we planned a family brunch.”

He talks with venom in his tone. Now I see it. He’s doing this to make me feel his pain and believe me, I feel it.

“So that’s it? You see one thing and assume something about me and that’s it, huh?” I ask, my brows knit together in anger.

“Just takin’ a page outta Nic’s book. Judge first, ask questions later.”

I grind my teeth at his ruthlessness. Narrowing my eyes while he stares at me from the chair, he takes another pull, never breaking the contact.

He’s hurting.

I can feel it in the icy way he stares at me.

But this is wrong.

“You fucked her? Seriously?” I ask, my voice breaking at the last word, even though I’m trying to keep it together.

“What if I did? Would that matter?” He cocks his head. “It’s not like I’m not single. It’s not like you’ve chosen me, or even plan to.”

“That’s not true at all.” A tear slips from my eye and I quickly wipe it away. “It’s not like that.”

He catches on to the fact that I’m crying and his face softens, his shoulders sagging a bit. He has to know that I care, that this hurts me, just as I know Patrick affects him.

He takes a deep breath as we sit in the silence together. The clock ticks on the wall, killing me slowly with each second that passes.

“I didn’t fuck her. I didn’t touch her at all, or any other girl for that matter. Kid was in here with someone. I’m just really fucked up.” He scoffs, pointing at himself, messing up his hair before sagging back into the chair.

“You’re better than this, Hawke. I won’t stay to watch you self destruct with your liquor and your drugs. I just can’t see this.” I comment, turning to leave.

I just can’t support him destroying himself like this, it’s breaking my heart. I’m hoping he’ll come after me, praying he’ll stop me from leaving, give me some sense to the fact that he actually wants me here and that he doesn’t want to go down this hole by himself, but is willing to climb out with me.

“Cole, wait,” he says, stumbling to get up from the chair.

I pause near the door, my hand to my forehead, my keys in my hand. It’s all so much.

Sometimes I wonder if I’m even worth the pain. That maybe he’d be better off without me and my bullshit tipping him over the edge, if the stress in dealing with me is something he really needs right now. He has some deep underlying problems, a darkness he can’t seem to find his way through, and it’s clear by this bender that my messed up situation isn’t helping that.

“Cole.” He meets me at the door, running a hand through his hair, not knowing what to say or do. “I wasn’t-”

He pauses, raking both hands down his face before taking another step closer.

“I wasn’t trying to self destruct.” His tone is softened, as he swallows, placing his forearm on the door behind me, closing it, blocking me with his large frame.

I release a sigh at his closeness, feeling everything all over again just by his form above me alone. I want to reach out and touch him, to sooth his every ache, to mend the broken pieces that make him.

He moves slowly, bringing a shaking hand up to my face where he gently traces my cheekbone, trailing down to my jaw, his eyes never leaving my lips. There’s a pain in his gaze, a longing for something so close but just out of reach.

“I was trying to feel numb again,” he speaks softly, before removing the shaking hand from my chin, curling it into a fist and dropping it by his side.

The sentence alone breaks me. He was trying to feel numb again. After years of feeling nothing but numb, I come into his life to make him feel. Feel things he isn’t used to feeling, feel things that break down his wall of strength, only to leave him unsure of what to do with that. He’s caught. Just as I am. Resorting back to the old habits just to numb the emotions he wasn’t anticipating.

I reach up, brushing some of that hair back and out of his face. The face that looks like it’s been put through the ringer. He looks pale, the dark circles under his eyes never more present.

“I don’t want you numb,” I whisper, looking between both eyes. “Ever again.”

He closes his eyes tightly, resting his head against the door behind me, his large hand snaking its way up and around the side of my neck.

“I can’t stand the sight of him touching you.” He hits his other fist against the door above me while pinning me to it with his other hand around my neck, his forehead moving to mine. “It drives me mad.”

“I know,” I moan, placing my hands softly and slowly on his chest in attempts to calm him. “I know, baby, that wasn’t what it looked like, trust me.”

He scoffs.

I wrap my arms around his solid frame, pulling his warm skin up against mine, pinning his hips to me, looking at him with a plea in my eyes, a plea that tells him my truth.

“It’s not, Cam, I’m going to end things, I am.”

“As much as I want that, I just can’t see it happening,” he swallows, shaking his forehead against mine, our lips both open, inches apart.

“I’m trying to be honest with you,” I declare. "Throughout this."

The sentence causes him to wrinkle his forehead in confusion, then a chuckle, before pulling away from me. He runs his hands through his hair, extending his fit torso before me, letting out a huge sigh.

“Honest?! You want to be honest with me, but don’t even know why I went to jail. There’s no honesty here. If you knew you would have no need to be honest with me. You’d be gone. And that’s honest.”

I can’t tell if it’s the drugs or the alcohol making him act out like this. I feel the immediate disconnect again. I’m almost wondering if he’s about to spill everything to me. I’m secretly hoping he does.

I approach him again, my hands extending, searching for his waist, pulling him back into me, missing the feeling of his warmth against me.

“Your past doesn’t define you, Hawke, I’ve told you this. You can’t let it hold you back.”

He cocks a brow at me humorously before scoffing and looking down to the floor, flexing his jaw. “It’s holding me back, Cole. Every fucking day.”

The definitive tone he uses cues me into the fact that he’s seemingly tied down, backed into a corner, unable to defend himself. I don’t even know how to comfort him, but I know that I want to. I know that he’s more than whatever is holding him hostage. He deserves better, he deserves so much.

“There’s got to be a way. A way for us to figure this out. Together,” I beg, moving in towards him again. “Don’t lose me in the madness.”

I reiterate the words he spoke to me before Patrick’s return, hoping they reach somewhere deep inside, a place that wakes him up to the reality before him. His eyes find mine before he winces, before roughly placing his mouth upon mine.

I kiss him with everything I have, proving my need for him, hoping he feels it with every stroke of my tongue against his.

The reality that I need him like he needs me. I slowly begin wrapping my hands around his neck and jaw again before he grabs onto both of my wrists, pulling back from the kiss, taking them off of him and holding them between us cautiously.

“You know, I feel like I’ve found part of myself inside of you,” he begins, moving his hands from my wrists to my hands, holding them before placing them on his chest, the beat of his heart pounding through me, feeling like we are one again.

“I’m just staring right at it. It’s right here in front of me, in every breath of your lungs, every beat of your heart, every blink of your eye.” He looks softly from my eyes, to my nose, to my lips and back again.

His soft expression suddenly turns hard and cold. He drags my hands down away from his body, letting them fall to my sides again. “But I just can’t afford to lose anymore of myself.”

I wince at the pain he’s admitting, feeling it deeply in my core. He doesn’t want to feel anymore. It isn’t worth it to him when whatever he knows about himself becomes known to me. He’s so sure I won’t stick around.

We’re both putting part of ourselves out on the limb. We’re tiptoeing our way, but both unsure of taking that last step. We know we’ll fall, but will we fall together? Will someone hold on at the last minute, watching the other come to their end? It's not me this time. Is it him?

I swallow down the tears the best I can, my mouth opening to try to inhale some form of oxygen to keep me standing. It all hurts so much.

“I’m no good for you, Cole.” He speaks coldly, his eyes dark and void of any emotion.

“No,” I choke out with tears in my eyes, “You are. You’re good. You’re good for me.”

I reach up, grabbing for his face, running my thumbs against his bottom lip. I can’t stand that I feel like I’m losing him to himself, losing him to this nightmare of tragedy he’s endured before me. I want him to know I don’t care, I want him to know I’m here, and feeling as if I couldn’t let him go, even if I wanted tried.

“I’m a convicted murderer.”

The sentence makes me pause, the words, sending a cold chill through me, into the depths of my bones. He drops the words out of his lips like they’re nothing. My heart feels as if a sharp object has just speared through me. I’m having trouble taking in air.

His eyes stare into mine, emitting nothing but truth. Nothing but cold, hard truth.

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