It had been a very long and exhausting day and by the time we reached Erin’s house Willow was passed out with her head in my lap. She told her whole story to Deb, she talked about her parents, her problems with them, she told her everything about Ashley and what her part is in all of this is.
The hardest for her was remembering everything that happened with Tyler. Deb said they could arrest him and hold him for twenty-four hours; she also said that Willow is her top priority and was going straight to the District Attorney when she left. She promised Willow her safety; she placed police officers at my house and at Erin’s. She also has one who will follow her to school and stay.
The School will be informed of what is happening. I know this is killing her, she hates being so dependent and vulnerable but she will do whatever she must to keep herself and her loved ones safe. Deb also informed us that she will need to contact Willow’s parents because she is still a minor. Willow did tell her that she wasn’t going to get anywhere with them.
When we get to Erin’s I lightly rub her back to wake her up, she opened her eyes and appeared to be embarrassed for falling asleep. She takes in her surroundings and realizes where we are and her mouth forms into a frown.
“Is it bad that I don’t want to go in?” she asks.
“I don’t want you to go in either,” I tell her. “I worry about you when I’m not with you, I can’t protect you.” Willow reaches for my hand and takes it in hers. Her gorgeous sea blue eyes meld with my chocolate-brown and at that moment what I need to do hits me hard.
It’s what it is I need to do for her, it’s what needs to be done for her to feel safe again but the question is am I strong enough to face him? Am I strong enough to do what needs to be done?
Can I really follow through with it when the time comes? I don’t know the answers, but I do know that Willow is the girl I’m in love with and I will not back down from protecting her. I just pray I won’t be too late.
“What are you thinking about?” Willow asks bringing me back.
“Hmm… just about you,” I omitted; she raised an eyebrow and scrunched up her cute little nose. Showing she didn’t believe me but chose not to push it.
“I better get in there and get some sleep. I need to be well-rested to have the strength to deal with tomorrow. School is going to be brutal.”
“Willow, I have seen you in action with Ashley so I have no doubt you will put anyone who messes with you in their place. You also need to remember you are not alone anymore; you have Erin and well... me."
"You can send them to me if they keep giving you problems.” She leans in to kiss my cheek and moves for the door but I stop her. She gazes at me and apprehension is written all over her face, but I quickly place my lips to hers and give her a sweet and gentle goodnight kiss.
“You can’t leave without letting me kiss you goodnight. My mother would also whip my behind if I didn’t walk you to the door.” She giggles and I hear my dad chuckle in the front.
“Stay put and I will come around and get you.” She nods her head and I get out. I walk around and open the door for her, she steps out and then as she closes the door I grab her waist and lean in, covering her mouth with mine once more. When I pulled away we were both out of breath.
“Now that’s a goodnight kiss!” she giggles. I pull away from her and take her hand in mine while I walk her to Erin’s door. When we reach the door, Erin opens it with a sheepish smile on her face.
“I was wondering if you were going to stay out there making out all night!” she says.
“Oh shut up, Erin!” Willow teases her friend and they both burst into laughter. I guess it’s a girl thing because I have no idea what is so funny. I pulled her into me and hugged her.
“I will be here around seven, dad wanted to drive us but I insisted on you driving your car. Things are crazy for you right now but at least you can have your car,”
“Thank you, Cole, I don’t know what I would do without my car. Or you,” she says as she hugs me tighter. “I will see you in the morning. I don’t know what we are going to face tomorrow, but I know I can face it with you by my side.”
“Baby, as long as you let me, I will always be by your side." I place a kiss to her cheek. “I love you!” I walk away before she can say anything else or fight me on what I just said. I walk to my dad’s truck and get in but wait for Willow to go inside.
The much-dreaded day has arrived and I wake up with a knotted stomach. Not because I was worried about what I would face, but I knew what Willow was up against. I probably should just let her deal with this on her own since that is what she would want me to do, but it’s just not possible for me to stand in the shadows. I don’t even know-how.
I lay in my bed for a few more minutes before I didn’t have any more time. I hurried and showered then dressed. Let me tell you how much of a pain in the ass it is to shower with a damn cast, it makes life more complicated.
Once I finished I went downstairs and took a plateful of chocolate chip pancakes my Mom had made. She has gone back to the mom I always knew and I was very happy to have her back.
It was obvious she was still dealing with the effects of Allan; she thought she could hide it from me but I had grown accustomed to her behaviors and actions. Allen screwed her up something awful and it will take a long time before she is fully healed from the damage he has caused.
After I finished eating, I rinsed off my plate and loaded it in the dishwasher. Hey, I might be a teenager but I still have respect for my parents and don’t think they should have to do everything.
My mom looked at me and smiled. In the past when she smiled you could tell it was forced but this one reached her eyes. She was happy, however, she just stared and smiled and it was kind of starting to give me the creeps.
“Oh, nothing,” she replies. “I’m just proud of you! With everything that you have been through the last few weeks, heck even the last few years, you can still hold your head high and still be the good kid I always knew you were.” I could see the tears welling in her eyes so I walked up and embraced her.
“I’m so sorry for everything Allan did, Cole; I’m sorry I couldn’t or wouldn’t step in and put a stop to it. I never should have allowed him to hurt you the way he did, and I never should have gone back to him. I’m sorry I wasn’t the mom you needed me to be, but I’m so proud of you for being able to stay strong and for always being there for me and your sister.” She pulls away from me, puts her hands on my shoulder and makes it so she is face to face with me.
“I know you and Willow have a lot to deal with right now. I know going to school today is going to raise some more issues, but I just want you to walk in there holding Willow’s hand. This Ashley girl needs to know that nothing she says will tear you away from Willow, you both need to stay strong and never let anyone tell you differently.”
I didn’t know what to say to her, I was just stunned and speechless. I just pulled her into a tighter embrace and we must have stood there for a while before dad came in and said it was time to go. I said bye to my mom and kissed Bridget on the forehead as I walked out the front door.