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46. Poetic Justice

With unsteady hands still shaking from the unthinkable events that just transpired, I pull my keys out of the ignition, sitting back into the seat of my car, staring at the house before me.

Hawke went to Kid’s like I instructed. Not without a fight of course. He practically got on his hands and knees, begging me to go with him until we called the police. I wasn’t hearing it though. I knew what needed to be done and the police couldn’t help me make that happen. It’s not that I didn’t appreciate his concern for me, especially after what we’ve endured already, I did. More than anything. His love for me is beyond evident and I feel it to the deepest part of my being.

But this is bigger than his concern for me. This is bigger than us. This is about bringing justice to the people who deserve it. This is me seeking atonement for the one I love. This is me, bringing down the house high up on the hill by burning it with the flames they’ve ignited around me.

I call the police as soon as I get there from an unknown number, letting them know about the man lying unconscious outside of the bar. I didn’t say anything else before hanging up. I didn’t have time to explain details at the moment. Patrick’s car is in the driveway, so I know he’s here, probably sleeping like the fucking baby he is.

I knew this wasn’t a coincidence. The man at the bar, the threats, the scare tactics. It’s asinine to even assume so. This family, these people, will go to any lengths to keep their secrets hidden, especially in the midst of those secrets pending exposure. And yet, no amount of money or fear can keep the truth from surfacing in my presence. The ground beneath me is firm, my feet planted like that oak, ready to withstand this storm.

As soon as I open the car door I make another call to the police, from my number, placing the phone in my pocket.

Patrick exits the house at the same time I approach the stairs, making me suck in a breath in surprise. Was he waiting for me? Or was he waiting for the guy I just encountered? The thought literally gives me a deep shudder in my spine. The sight of him, that once brought me a sense of ease, now does nothing but bring me distaste for everything he represents.

“Either you finally came to your senses with a little push, or you brought me my phone. Which is it Nic?” He raises his brows causing me to lower mine.

His phone?

His phone.

He must’ve dropped his phone at the bar when Leonard kicked him out, placing him there during the incident.

“You sent that man to me,” I declare, shaking my head in complete disgust. “I can’t believe you. You sent him there to do what? Rape me? Torture me? What was your plan?!”

He rolls his eyes. “Quit being so over-dramatic. Those types of things can happen when you work in that environment, I’ve warned you about this.”

His knowing arrogance is setting my insides ablaze with anger and retribution. It’s why the man was seen there before, it’s why he grabbed me. It was Patrick’s sick attempts to control the situation around him and make me quit the bar through intimidation and scare tactics.

“So you set this up? You sent him there to scare me, not knowing he was going to try to actually rape me. And then, what? Your jealousy got the best of you?”

“I’m sorry, what? Jealousy?”

“Why did you do it!?” I yell at him. “You might’ve killed him, you know!”

He pauses tilting his head at me, seemingly confused. Of course he’s confused, what I’m saying isn’t making any sense to him because he wasn’t there, but the police on the other end of this phone don’t know that.

His face contorts looking at me.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about, but I can only hope it worked. Maybe now you’ll realize what side you want to be on. I told you digging up old graves wouldn’t be good for you,” he states, making it clear that guy was sent there to fuck with me.

Perfect timing too. Hawke was locked up for the time being, I was alone, in need of help. Either he hoped I’d come running home to the comfort of his arms, or worse, the guy was planning on keeping quiet me forever. The realization makes my body shake with rage as I curl my nails into my palms.

He begins slowly descending the stairs towards me, reaching the base where I’m standing, keys in hand, chest heaving, jaw clenched. He takes his hand and brushes some hair off my forehead. I slap his hand away.

“Don’t you touch me!” I yell abruptly.

He drops his hand, chuckling at my behavior as he puts his hands in his pockets.

“I know you're mad, but don’t play with people out of your league, Nic, you’ll lose every time.”

“Out of my league?” I question with sarcasm. “Oh, like Hawke? Was he out of your league? Never quite reaching your elite status, huh?”

“Definitely,” he says smugly. “He’s far beneath where you could be. Which is why I can’t seem to understand why you’d waste your time with this whole ‘defiance’ act.”

I can’t stand this man. Why couldn’t I see this before? Why couldn’t I see the true colors of a sick and twisted individual I’d almost locked myself into a lifetime with? Everything about this family is a facade. The good, wholesome, pure looks, caked on over the deceitful, conniving, arrogant souls beneath.

“If Hawke’s so beneath you, why even offer him a place to live? Why act like you’re helping him when you could care less?”

“Because it was the right thing to do,” he says the stupid phrase again. “It’s not like he has anything or anyone anyways.”

“Pretty easy to pin a murder on a kid with nothing to his name, huh?” I ask, cocking my head. “Even easier to lie about him hitting you when it was really a woman who gave you that little shiner you’re sporting.”

He laughs. He actually has the audacity to laugh. I have to keep my cool, calm myself, and continue on a different route if this one isn't working, but it’s getting harder and harder. I need to scale back.

“I don’t understand why you need to keep pushing this? Truly, I don’t Nic. It’s ridiculous to me.”

I just stand there with wide eyes, shaking my head in disbelief. How can he not understand?

“I really wish we could’ve just forgotten all about this,” he says softly, wincing his eyes. I sense a dejection deep within him, a pain in his heart at the loss of me to something out of his control.

I need to exploit that.

I sigh, placing my hand on my forehead, calming myself.

“I have a right to know, especially if we have a chance at a future together, Patrick,” I reply in a softer tone, one that reeks of sincerity.

“I don’t know if a future with you is what my family wants for me anymore. Especially after what you’ve done. Sean knew something was going on between you two but I didn’t want to believe it.”

“But what do you want, Patrick?” I ask softly. “Yes, I’ve made mistakes. Yes, I’ve done things I shouldn’t, but that doesn’t make what we had just go away.” I slowly inch closer to him.

“The horrible things you said at the bar.” He twists his face while talking. “I know it’s not your character to do those vile acts. You were acting out in defiance, saying things to get under my skin. I get it.”

“You’re right. I would never go as far to let someone take that away from you.”

I would. I would do it again and again.

“I know, Nic. And it’s true, I can’t just turn off these feelings for you, as much as your indiscretions tell me I should. You have so much making up to do. So much to prove to me.”

I bite my bottom lip, looking up at him with weak, sad eyes. This is exactly what he needs. A way to maintain control over me by my need to prove to him that I’m worthy of his love. He stares back at me, his arrogant demeanor relaxing some. I know there’s a part of him that still loves me and wishes we could go back to that easier time. A time where endless questioning and difficult truths weren’t a problem for him.

“We can start by being honest with each other. No one else needs to be present in our relationship but us. Just us and our secrets,” I whisper, giving him the sense of security he seems to need to open up that vault that is his past.

He takes a breath, stepping closer to me and taking my hand in his. I let him, as he decides to come clean.

“What happened Patrick?” I ask quietly, pressing myself closer into him.

“I can’t take credit for the events after the accident and the way it was handled, that was my father’s doings,” he looks down at the grass beneath his boots. “He helped finagle me out of that potentially catastrophic dilemma. Either way, what’s done is done. There’s no changing the past, Nic.”

The pain, cracking my heart in half at the moment I hear him called Ben’s death his dilemma almost renders me useless, until I find the strength deep inside. The strength for Hawke, the strength for Ben.

“So it was you,” I whisper, already knowing. “You were in that car.”

“Is this what you need to move forward?” he questions, seemingly frustrated.

“It’s what I need, it’s what we need.” I nod, agreeing.

He sighs, shaking his head at me like I’m a child asking for more candy.

“Yes, Nic. I was in that car. I was driving and we crashed. It could’ve been any of us, we were all drunk. Accidents happen, but some futures aren’t worth messing up.”

I stare at him with eyes wide as saucers. I can’t believe the prick actually admitted it.

“Are you happy now? Are you ready to put the past in the past and move on like the rest of us?” he asks, rolling his eyes like this entire event was just some little stain that needed covering.

I sigh, closing my eyes as the tears fall freely and a huge smile stretches across my face. I’ve never been filled with such relief, such happiness, such pure satisfaction for knowing the chains that have finally been broken, the bars to the cage disintegrating before me.

Before anything else can be said, I hear the cars approaching. Lights begin flashing around me as the police pull up to the property. I drop his hand, taking a step back to pull my phone out of my pocket, verifying that it’s still on, and it is. I lift the phone to my ear hearing a woman on the receiver inform someone else that the police are indeed at the location. They heard everything, and now I know it’s been recorded.

“Put your hands in the air!” one of the policemen yell at Patrick, pointing the gun in his direction.

“What!? No...No, you’ve got the wrong guy. Th-this is a mistake, clearly!” Patrick tries to reason with him.

“No mistake here,” the officer begins, walking up to Patrick and putting his hands roughly behind his back.

“We’ve received numerous calls, one of you threatening a woman at the bar, another of you physically harassing her, and then of course there’s the man beaten into a coma.”

John must’ve called the police after our conversation, and Leonard, after the scene played out before him at the bar.

And then there’s Hawke. Vicious as hell when he needs to be to protect me, no matter the cost. Not to mention he was just recently released for another wrongful conviction in which they clearly had no proof. Julie must’ve worked her magic for him. Regardless of how he got there, the truth of the matter is he totally and completely saved me from that horrible man. Both of them actually.

“I didn’t do that! That’s crazy! I would never!” Patrick cries out as they attempt to grab his swinging hands.

“By looking at your knuckles I’d say otherwise,” the officer states, grabbing and inspecting his fists.

Sure enough, the cuts from his blowup in the bedroom when he punched the drywall and threw the lamp, came in handy. They literally fit the bill as a person who beat someone into unconsciousness.

“That wasn’t me! I’d never defend this...this slut! She had it comin’!”

“Your cellphone was found at the location,” the cop mentions as they continue their protocols. “How you gonna explain that one?”

He’s losing his mind. He’s flailing as the officers detain him, screaming for his lawyers, his father, all things he hopes can save him, but none of it can now. The police have him, and now, they have his confession.

I see another car drive up and it’s Kid and Hawke. I should've know he wouldn't be able to stay away. He barely waits for the car to slow before he’s jumping out of the passenger side, stumbling slightly before he gets his feet under him, running to me.

“Cole!” He grabs me quickly under his arm as I wrap myself around him while he scans the space around us, clearly making sure there are no threats to my safety. “He didn’t touch you, did he? Are you alright?!”

“No, he didn’t. I’m fine. Never been better actually.”

“What did you do? What happened? How did this...?” He trails his sentence running a hand through his hair, letting it fall down his face as he takes in the police cars, Patrick, the entire scene.

I turn to face him, gripping his face between my palms, gaining his complete and full attention. His eyes are worried, confused, yet trusting.

“He confessed.” I say with tears filling my eyes, blinking them down my face as I continue talking. “He confessed Cameron, and they got it all.”

His face is ghost white as he gazes at me in complete disbelief.

“Sir, stand back please,” another office instructs as they finish pushing Patrick into the back of the police car.

He pulls me to the side, keeping his arms wrapped around me as we watch it all unfold. Patrick glances back over at me, seeing Hawke now holding my frame against him.

“You son of a bitch! We had an agreement! You won’t see a penny of it!” Patrick yells, completely obliterating himself without the presence of his father to stop him. “And her! Her!? She’s lying! I never touched anyone! You won’t get away with this! When my father—”

His voice gets shut off as the door slams shut, ending the toxic noise invading our ears, before they slowly pull away.

I grab for Hawke’s hands, bringing his knuckles to my lips. “Untouched,” I whisper as he cocks an eyebrow, still absorbing the magnitude of everything happening around him. “Your knuckles. The motorcycle gloves.”

Sometimes fate lines it up just right. You have to endure the pain and live in it in order to grow strength, to become indestructible on your own, and fight the monsters you encounter with their own weaknesses. Everything else falls into place.

Kid runs up behind us breathless, like it was ten miles and not the ten steps it took to reach us from the car. The three of us stand there silently for a moment, watching them take him away, watching as the car finally fades from our vision. I see Cameron wiping tears away from his eyes and I know it’s Ben on his mind. I squeeze onto him tightly, feeling every bit of this poetic justice deep in my heart.

Another officer approaches me, getting my information to take me in for an official statement and more questioning. If Hawke will allow it, that is. He’s gripping onto me, his arms wrapped around me so firmly, it makes me feel a comfort I’ve never known.

“I guess I’ll be here, waiting for you,” he says, turning to hold my face in his hands, looking down at me with such adoration and love, my heart feels it could explode out of my chest.

“As you should, it’s your home.” I reply with an easy grin.

He grips the back of my neck, pulling me into him, our foreheads meshing together as he stares down into me.

“My home is in you now,” he says with such conviction it takes my breath away.

I push up on my tiptoes, capturing his lips in mine for a sweet, soft kiss, before he rests our foreheads together again.

“You freed me from my cage, Cole. You brought me back to life and you freed me,” he whispers in a cracked tone.

“We freed each other, Hawke,” I whisper back, holding the side of his neck, gazing lovingly into his eyes. “And now it’s our time to fly.”

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