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41. Too Much

I pull into the driveway in my car, hands already shaking, chest already feeling the pressure and weight of what’s to come.

His car is parked in the driveway and I know he’s waiting inside. Waiting to talk, waiting to hash things out, waiting to figure out which angle to take to win me back over.

I breathe a shaky breath and enter the house.

It feels cold. Empty. Deprived of the love I thought it once held. Now it’s just walls and windows, encasing the lies of the past and the torment of the future.

It’s sad to think this was the place Hawke grew up. Had I known that initially, my entire view would’ve been different. What were his memories of his home? How deeply did seeing us playing house in the place he grew up truly affect him? The thought irks me in such a painful and heartbreaking way.

“Oh, thank God, you’re back,” Patrick sighs with relief near the bedroom upon my arrival.

I see him standing there, near the bedroom door, and can barely look him in his eyes. He killed Ben and fled the scene. The sentence keeps repeating in my head like a broken record. He’s not the person I thought I knew. It’s funny how the truth in character makes a person suddenly repulsive to even be around.

He begins approaching me quickly, causing me to cower into myself. Hawke grabs my arm quickly, pulling me back and away from Patrick, not even allowing a moment for him to touch me, as his body covers mine, protecting me.

Yes, Hawke came with me. Rode up beside me on his bike. He wouldn’t let me do this alone. He made it clear he’d never let me go near Patrick without his protection ever again. So here we stand, together, in the face of this confrontation.

Patrick looks at the spot where Hawke’s touching my arm, where his body is positioned before me like a shield, then back into my eyes with confusion.

“Nic? What’s this? What...what are you doing?” He directs the last question to Hawke with an entirely different tone. An angry tone, one with authority.

“I asked him to be here with me, while we talk,” I say with a false confidence.

I’m trying my best to remain strong, but being in front of him again does weird things to me. I’m nervous, suddenly feeling like a child who’s talking to their parents after being caught breaking curfew. I can’t stand that I’m so accustomed to being weak around him.

“That’s not necessary. Hawke, leave,” he dismisses him, not even looking in his direction.

Hawke sucks in an immediate breath, puffing his chest as his eyes narrow and his jaw clenches while looking in the direction of Patrick.

“Ca-Hawke...i-it’s okay,” I stutter, catching myself, placing my arms out to stop him from attacking.

Patrick cocks his head at Hawke’s strange demeanor, clearly trying to assess the situation across from us.

“I’m just going to have a quick talk with him. Sort this out, alright?” I ask quietly, turning him by the face to look at me.

Patrick’s neck straightens, peering at us intently.

This is hard enough trying to coax the beast that is Hawke down, but I need to have this conversation with Patrick alone. We have to hash out our relationship, I need to end this.

“No,” he states firmly, looking back at Patrick, not giving in.

I take a deep breath, blowing it out through my mouth as I grab his hand to get his glare off Patrick and onto me.

“Hawke...please,” I ask in a calm tone.

“I don’t know what you’re even doing here, this is between us,” Patrick scoffs.

“She asked me to be here,” Hawke growls back immediately. “She’s scared of you, and for good reason. I saw her fucking wrist, you bastard.”

The tension between the two is starting to build, making me nervous of how this will blow. Two lit fuses meeting in the middle of where I’m seated? Not a good outcome.

Patrick’s eyes fall upon my wrists now, his face changing from anger to remorse.

“Nic, I...I’m so sorry, I-”

“Typical,” Hawke scoffs. “Abuse then apologize. Classic.”

Hawke isn’t wrong. It’s what he does. He does or says things that hurt me and apologizes afterwards, buttering me up with flowers or gifts. I hadn’t noticed how bad it was until I left it and saw it from the outside.

“Let’s talk.” He holds his hand out for me, ignoring Hawke altogether. “Please.”

Hawke is seething beside me. I can feel the anger radiating off of him just at the thought of us talking alone in a room together. It’s taking everything in this man not to deck Patrick out cold. His self-control has to be one of his more amazing qualities. It’s quite literally unmatched.

I gently touch his upper arm again, the one protecting me, attempting to comfort him without words. He turns to face me, his demeanor physically relaxing a bit at the look in my eyes, telling him this is for the best. He seems to reluctantly understand.

“I’ll be right outside,” he says before glaring harshly at Patrick.

His final stare, warning me to be cautious, is the last thing I see before he pulls out his pack of cigarettes from his leather coat, walking outside.

Patrick guides me into the room, closing the door behind him as I sit on the edge of the bed.

“Where were you last night? Sean’s been driving all over looking for you, I was worried sick.”

Of course he was, and still is. I hate Sean. I can’t even imagine the trash him and his family have been talking about me since my “disappearance.” I’m sure Linda is just devastated at how her perfect brunch imploded before her guests. Embarrassment of the century.

“I needed time away from you, away from here,” I respond, already exhausted by this conversation.

“This is ridiculous, Nic. Everything is being blown out of proportion. Can’t you see that!? This was just a little fight. I barely even hurt you,” he says, picking up my hand and inspecting my wrist.

I pull my hand away from his immediately, clutching it to my chest. His words weighing heavily on me. Barely even hurt you.

“Patrick,” I begin nervously, “I can’t do this anymore.”

“Nic,” he groans, already not taking me seriously.

“I’m serious. I think it’s best if we just go our separate ways.”

He sits down on the bed beside me and begins running his hands through his hair while looking down at the floor.

“Alright, I’ll admit, I didn’t do my best to stop Sean when he was talking about Hawke, I could’ve done better, alright?” he says, as if that one moment is the reason I’m breaking up with him. “To be honest, I don’t even know why you’re so set on protecting him.”

“Patrick, it’s so much more than that,” I say, feeling a shaking anxiety I've never known. “It’s over between us.”

He gets up from his position on the bed, immediately walking over towards the wall where the pictures of us hang. He stands there, his hands on his head, before grabbing one of them off the wall, turning to face me.

“Look at us, happy. Look at your smile. This is us, not all this drama surrounding it.” His voice cracks a bit and I can tell he’s starting to lose it, the control he thought he had.

“I’m not happy with you anymore,” I reply bluntly.

“You are happy. You’re blessed- we’re blessed,” he catches himself.

I shake my head, looking directly at him. “No, I’m not.”

He stares at me for a minute, his eyes narrowing in on my position on the edge of the bed.

Startling me, he lifts the picture above his head then throws it down onto the floor with both hands, smashing the frame into tiny pieces, glass shards spreading across the carpet beneath my feet. I gasp at the sudden burst of anger, closing my eyes tightly.

“You are happy with me, your mind is just warped with these...ideas!” he yells, his hands gripping the air before him, leaning down over me.

“I’m not, Patrick.” I get up, walking around him to stand near the opposing wall, away from the glass, away from his controlling stance above me. “But it’s more than just that...”

I don’t know how much I should reveal for the sake of Hawke and the situation he’s in. I’m scared that Patrick and his family will retort by taking it out on him and I couldn’t live with myself if he did.

I stand with my back against the wall, my sweaty fingers interlocked before me, my head raised as I drop the truth.

“I’ve been seeing someone else.”

The air seems to have left the room along with Patrick’s control.

“No.” He laughs, denying it as if he could. “No.”

“I’m in love with him,” I declare, my voice breaking in the middle of my sentence.

He stops in place, glaring at me before stalking towards my position against the wall, the look in his eyes crazy. He’s smiling at me, raising his brows as if I’ve told him a bad joke. He’s clearly not taking me seriously.

“Is that right? You’ve fallen for someone? Really, Nic? That’s where we’re at?” he asks smugly as if I'm making it up.

I suck in a nervous breath as he encases me against the wall. His arms on both sides of me.

“It’s over, Patrick,” I breathe, looking directly into his eyes.

He stares at me, inches from my face, his breath coming out hot and heavy.

“No!” he yells, punching his fist into the drywall next to me, the crumbling hole inches from my head.

I wince my eyes, turning my chin into my shoulder as I begin shaking. I’m legitimately scared of him and what he might do. He feels like a loose cannon.

“WE’RE NOT OVER!” He punches the space again and again, making the hole larger than before, tiny chucks of drywall falling onto my shoulder.

The uncontrolled anger coming from him is terrifying me. It’s like the incident at his parent’s house. As soon as he feels a loss of control, he begins to break, or break things around him. He’s like an overgrown toddler who can’t function without his parent’s discipline.

His fist is bleeding as he pushes off the wall, walking to the other side of the room towards the lamp. He swings at it, sending it flying into the wall behind the nightstand, shattering it to pieces and cutting his other hand in the process. Blood begins dripping from it.

Fearful tears fall down my face. Before I can wonder where Hawke is and if he’s heard the commotion and destruction coming from the room, he bursts through the door, breaking it with his shoulder, not even attempting to open it, breathless as he searches for me.

“Cole!” he says with relief in his tone as he sees me standing against the wall.

He pulls me into his arms, quickly placing his hands around my cheeks, scanning my face, neck and body for any marks.

He sees the hole in the wall, the glass on the floor, the broken lamp. His eyes trail the debris until they land on where Patrick’s standing. He darts towards Patrick in three quick steps, grabbing him by the throat and slamming him up against the wall, pinning him there with his strength.

“Hawke, no!” I scream, running towards them.

"You stupid fuck!" he screams in his face.

He can’t hit him, he can’t do anything or Patrick will literally demolish him in the system. I can see it playing out already. I plead with him as his grasp around his neck tightens, causing Patrick to wheeze for air, before slamming his head back against the wall again.

“Let go of him!” I beg him, the terror in my tone present. “Please! Don’t do this!”

It’s as if my voice is the only thing that can calm him. Hawke glares into Patrick’s red face, his lips tighten, curling inward, probably imagining just what it would feel like to kill him right here and now and how much pleasure he’d get from it, enjoying it to his core.

The saddest part about it is, Patrick knows he won't commit to doing anything, just like Hawke knows he can't. He's backed into a wall, the wall being the prominent and deceitful family of Patrick's. It'd be so easy to obliterate him.

He finally releases him as Patrick falls forward, bending at the waist to catch his breath while rubbing his neck. Hawke’s fists curl into themselves at his sides, his arm shaking, the self control apparent.

“Wait, wait, wait...” Patrick coughs, still bent over, furrowing his brow as he holds up a finger. He’s looking down at the floor before his eyes snap up to mine. “Tell me he isn’t the guy.”

Hawke stiffens beside me and all I can think about is how I desperately need him to remain calm. I’m terrified of what Patrick will do if he knows. I can’t lose him.

“It's him!” Patrick declares, shocked yet seemingly entertained. “Look at him protecting you, from me.”

“You stay the fuck away from her,” Hawke growls.

“You’ve got to be kidding me, Nic.” Patrick says in repulsive disbelief. “You slept with him!?”

“I swear to fucking god, I’ll kill you if you ever try to touch her again.” Hawke warns, yet surprisingly not gaining Patrick’s attention.

“You don’t see it, do you?” Patrick asks, looking around Hawke at me.

“See what?” I shake my head at him, feeling emotionally exhausted worrying about these two killing each other.

“This was his plan all along,” he says in a calm tone, staring at Hawke, as if finally understanding it all. “This was how you got back at me, huh?”

He directs the question to Hawke as I peer up at him, seeing his jaw tighten, his eyes almost pleading with Patrick. The energy in the room has shifted. Where Patrick was on the defense initially, he seems to now be controlling the room again.

“You always wanted to destroy me after what happened. And you finally found a way to do it.” He shakes his head, face in disbelief. “You took away the love of my life.”

I swallow at the pain in his tone, my chest suddenly feeling tight by his assumption. The idea that this thing between Hawke and I was nothing more than a revenge plot. The assumption that none of this was as real as I thought it was. I’m feeling lightheaded and stumble back into the wall again as I look down at the floor mentally trying to process.

“Don’t you believe him, Cole, don’t you do it,” Hawke pleads with me.

My nervous eyes dart from Hawke to Patrick and back to Hawke.

“That’s all this was. He’s a twisted, manipulative man. He used you to get back at me,” Patrick continues.

My mouth drops open as I attempt to take all of this in.

“It’s not your fault, babe, he’s toxic. You were just collateral damage. The goal was always me. He’s been wanting to destroy me ever since believing I was the one who killed Ben.”

“W-what?” The word barely slips through my lips like a tiny breath of wind.

Hawke's eyes wince at the name.

“Let me guess, he didn’t tell you? Might as well throw it all out there! Hawke killed his friend, like Sean said, he was too high to remember, isn’t that right?”

The anger and madness in Hawke’s face is sending me into confusion. Surely he’s lying, surely this isn’t true. Surely everything Hawke’s told me was the truth...right?

He turns to face me again, his panicked eyes begging for me to focus on him and him alone.

“Cole...don’t. Don’t lose me now.”

“They were the only two people in that car that night, Nic. Everyone knows it. We’ve been trying to help him this whole time.” Patrick continues talking as if Hawke isn’t even in the room. “And here he is, trying to sabotage us for his own, sick, revenge.”

This can’t be. He couldn’t have lied to me, could he? No, it’s not possible, is it? I get a sickening feeling in my gut, feeling like I’ve been hit by a Mack Truck. I’m breaking down internally.

“Hawke…” I whisper through tears, looking at him now, wanting to feel the truth from him like I have before.

“He’s lying Cole! He’s trying to get into your head! Turn you against me, get you back the only way he knows how!” Hawke yells, looking desperate, and terror-struck.

“He’s the liar, Nic,” Patrick comments back. "This had nothing to do with you."

I didn’t even realize it, but I’m backing out of the door. I’m leaving the room, leaving the confusion and cloud of lies that are thickening by the second. I just can’t breathe in here. I can’t focus with both of their eyes on me.

It’s too much, it’s all too much.

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