Unfulfilled Journey

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Chapter 15-Cole

“Wow, this is amazing!” Willow and Erin said in unison as we got in the limo. We had the limo company stock up on sparkling cider and each girl had two dozen roses sitting on the bench seats. The cider was sitting in ice and had champagne glasses sitting next to the cider. “You boys really did think of everything.”

“I told you, we wanted tonight to be perfect,” I affirmed. Toby reached over and starting pouring the cider into the glasses and handed one to each of us.

“How about a toast!” Erin says holding her glass in the air. “To the best night of our lives, and to hell with everyone else!”

“Here! Here!” we all say. Willow sits back and takes a sip, she is laughing and happy. I’m captivated and I’m taken back to just a few minutes ago.

Willow has always had a way of taking my breath away but when I saw her come down the stairs I thought I had died and was in Heaven. She’s a true vision of beauty and yet a sin. Her gown reminded me of the sea when the sun sets. It was sleeveless and light green which flowed down to her feet. The dress looked like it was made just for her since it fit in all the right places.

It was a simple, modest dress; she made it anything but simple and modest. As I watched her walk down those damned stairs, I really thought I was going to die. She took them one at a time and I had the inkling she was doing it to torment me just by the smile on her pink, glossy, kissable lips. If only she knew how much further I just fell for her. Oh boy was I going to be in trouble before this night is over. I’m snapped back to the present by hearing her infectious laughter.

“Cole, did you hear what I said?” She was giggling. “You looked like you were million miles away.”

I took her hand in mine and made eye contact with her. “I was just thinking about how much I love you and how beautiful you are. I was thinking about how lucky I am to have you in my life.” I reach over and place a light kiss to her forehead.

“Now, you had to and go and mess up her makeup,” Erin mocked. “But awe!” She looks over to Willow and gives her a look I don’t know anything about. I will never understand girl code.

“Thank you, Cole, I am the lucky one. I mean, look at all you did to make tonight perfect.” She leans over and whispers in my ear, “I didn’t want to say this in front of Erin, but I happen to think you look very sexy tonight.”

She pulls away and tries to hide the smile but I wouldn’t let her. Be dammed if there were other people in here and if I was going to mess up her makeup. I just had to kiss her. I gently placed my hand on her neck and pulled her face toward mine.

She looked nervous but then quickly relented and I crashed my lips to her. I wanted more of her and I was slowly losing control. I heard someone clear their throat and we pulled away. Willow’s face was bright red.

“I was about to throw this bucket of ice on the two of you,” Toby says. Willow bursts into laughter. Erin stands up and walks over to Willow.

“Alright you two, it’s becoming apparent you both need a time out. Cole, please go sit next to Toby,” she says in a motherly tone. I didn’t want to leave Willow’s side but by the stern look on Erin’s face, there was no room for argument. I went and sat next to Toby who just shook his head at me.

“What?” I ask. “You can’t tell me that you haven’t done that or thought about it with Erin.”

“Well,” Toby clears his throat. “Believe me, the thought and the want are there but Erin and I aren’t official yet and I don’t want to scare her off. You didn’t kiss Willow before you were dating, right?”

I was instantly taken back to our first kiss. It was right after my accident. She had come to visit me and I had just finished telling her about the nightmares. She let me cry on her shoulder.

When I pulled away she went to kiss my cheek but I turned just in time so my mouth descended on hers. I remember how she froze, she wasn’t sure what to do, but after a second or two she gave in to the kiss. I remember the way it felt when our lips touched. It felt right and natural, and now when I kiss her I become intoxicated.

“I really don’t know what we were but we weren’t like we are now,” I replied. I wasn’t about to share something so intimate between Willow and I, but I could at least give him that.

He nodded his head in understanding but then said quietly, “Just be careful, bro. Erin filled me in a little about what Willow is going through and I don’t think she needs to add anything else onto her plate.”

Damn, he was right. Was I putting too much pressure on myself and possibly Willow? I had to control myself when she was around, but hell that was really hard to do when all I wanted to do was touch her. I just had to do my best.

We finally arrived at the school; the driver pulled up to the sidewalk and waited for us to get out. He would be sticking around so we had a ride home after the dance. When I took her hand to help her out, she looked up and gave me an uncertain smile. She was almost ghostly as well. Once she got out of the car, I took her into my arms.

“Are you okay?”

“Yeah, I’m great!” she answered. “Just a little nervous and maybe a bit scared. I know I have nothing to worry about here, and I promised myself and Erin that no matter what happens tonight I won’t let Ashley get to me, but I’m still haunted by that stupid dream.”

I pulled away from her so I could look at her. “Sweetheart, it was only a dream, and you know that I’m not going anywhere. Together we will take whatever it is she has planned, if she does have anything planned. She has been pretty quiet lately,” I reassure her.

“I know, and that’s what has me worried. But you’re right; I’m here to dance the night away and be a seventeen- year- old girl.” She reached up and placed a small kiss on my mouth. “Thank you for always being her for me.”

“You’re Welcome and always, baby,” I say as I offer her my arm.

Erin walks by and screams, “ARE YOU READY TO P.A.R.T.Y?” All of us burst into laughter and Erin dances around Toby, Willow and I.

“Now you see why I love her so much?” Willow says to Toby and I. Toby just stands there completely smitten.

“Come on, lover boy,” Willow says as we walk towards the door. Erin takes his arm and the four of us walk into the school.

The gym was packed with the student body. Some were standing off to the side chatting with their friends, and some were standing by the snack table, but most were on the dance floor dancing to I Can Make Your Hands Clap by Fitz and Tantrums.

“Oh, this song is great!” Erin yells as she drags Willow on the dance floor. They both start jumping up and down, swaying from side to side. They were holding hands and swinging each other. I smiled as I watched my girl get to be the fun loving carefree girl she was and enjoy some much needed time with her friends. After a minute or so she and Erin started doing some fancy foot moves and hand claps. Toby noticed my fascination

“Should we go join them?” he asked while laughing. I nodded and went back to watching her. I was about to go out on the floor to dance with her when I spotted Chris coming my way. He was with a girl, who wasn’t Ashley. Good for him.

“Hey, Cole, do you remember Taylor River?” Chris asks as he puts his arm around her waist. He draws her close to his side. Taylor is the perfect girl for Chris; she is tall, has long brown hair and brown eyes. She’s a cute girl and fits well with him.

“Taylor, you are in my English class, right?” She smiles and answers yes. The song ended and Willow walked up, she reached for my hand and saw Chris standing there. She was very polite.

“Hi, Chris, and…” she stops and looks over at Taylor, and then a big smile appears on her lips. “Oh my gosh Taylor, you look amazing.” She walks over to Taylor and the girls hug each other. Chris starts to rock back and forth on his heels. He looks like he wants to say something.

When Willow walks back over to me Chris starts to speak. “Cole and Willow, I need to apologize for my behavior and for believing the rumors. I’ve known Willow since second Grade and should’ve known she would never do the things Ashley said she did. I should have believed you. I was so caught up in my crush on Ashley and wanting to be popular that I didn’t stop and think about what my actions did to our friendship. I hope that someday you two can forgive me.”

Willow was the first one to do something. She let go of my hand, walked over to Chris and gave him a hug. She told him there was nothing to forgive. I was next and I told him everything’s good. He was glad. Right as we finished our conversation the DJ spoke into the microphone.

“Now it’s time to slow things down a little so take your date by the hand and lead her to the dance floor.”

Perfect by Ed Sheeran started to play. Willow turned around and locked her gorgeous sea blue eyes with my brown eyes. Everyone else around disappeared; it was only her, me and the music. I slowly sauntered towards her, our eyes never leaving each other. When I finally reach her I slide my arm around her waist and guide her body so she was lined up with me. She wraps her arms around my neck, we start to sway, our eyes never wavering. We have the music to guide us. I let go of her waist and take her hand, and she spins around, her dress blowing in the wind. She comes back in my arm. We sway again, then I dip her, she tries not to laugh but she can’t since I bend down and kiss my favorite spot on her neck. When the song ends the world comes back into view but what she sees makes her blush.

“Well, that was awkward,” she says as she buries her bright red face in my shoulder. I wouldn’t let her hide.

“Hey, you don’t need to hide, they aren’t laughing. I think they are all in awe of you.” I turned her around so she could see everybody. “See, I told you I was going to be the most envied guy here. You’re Cinderella, Willow.” She couldn’t believe how everyone was looking at her with such adoration.

“I don’t get it,” she says. “I don’t understand. I’m no one special so why all of this,” she waves her hand around the room.

“You just don’t see it, baby. You are more special than you realize, but maybe I’m just biased. From what I’ve heard, every guy has wanted to date you and every girl wants to be like you,” I added. “Plus, everyone heard what Carter did, so maybe they just respect you. You also had the guts to stand up to Ashley when no one else did.”

“Maybe,” she said. “Let’s dance.” She drags me out further on the dance floor.

We spent the next few minutes dancing; Willow and I were both hot and sweaty from dancing.

“I’m going to go get some punch, do you want some?” I ask her.

“Yes, thank you! I’m going to go find Erin and visit the ladies room.”

“Okay, just don’t get lost on your way back. I’ll meet you at the table,” I responded as I placed a kiss to her nose. She giggled and walked away. I made it to the refreshment table and got two glasses of punch. I was holding them in one hand when I spotted Willow walking out of the gym arm in arm with Erin. They were talking and laughing. When she walked out I headed for the table. I smacked into someone and almost spilled punch on them.

“Oh crap, I’m so sorry!” I apologize then instantly regret it when I see who it was. I was almost afraid to look but she actually looked really nice. She had nice modest black dress with a green belt.

“It’s okay; it’s bound to happen in this place,” she laughs. “Since I found you I just wanted to say I’m sorry. I’m sorry for everything I put you and Willow through. Watching you out there with her, I can see you belong together. It’s obvious how much you love her.” I stood in my spot, stunned by her apology and not for one second do I believe her. To save a scene, I take it as it is.

“Thank you, Ashley that means a lot coming from you.” I set the cups down on the table next to me, then lean down and whisper in her ear,

“But don’t think I buy this act. I know you are up to something and I will tell you right now it won’t work. You will never get me away from Willow.” When I moved away she looked a little sad but scared.

“I guess I deserve that,” she mockingly cries and she reaches up and tries to touch my face. “I do mean it Cole; I will not bother you two anymore.”

“Get your hands off him!” I hear from behind me and it’s Willow.Crap, she is not happy. Willow glares at Ashley then walks up and pushes her back. She a feral animal ready to strike.

“What the Hell do you want, Ashley?” She walks further away from me and she keeps pushing her. “YOU WILL NOT WIN, ASHLEY!! Get away from me and get away from Cole. I don’t ever want to see your skanky ass around us again!” Willow stares her down, but Ashley just stood there. “Are you deaf? I told you to go away!”

“When did you become such a bitch?” Ashley screams at Willow.

Willow turned and got in her face. “When I was forced to be friends with a narcissistic girl with daddy issues. When I was forced to go a party with you. I became a bitch when your psychopathic cousin and his demented friend decided they could do whatever they wanted to me. Oh, and don’t forgot about when you pretty much blackmailed me to drive you to the abortion clinic, and asked me to keep that a secret. Oh, well I’m tired of keeping it. Oops, did I just tell your secret? Well, I guess that cat’s out of the bag.”

The entire gym went silent. So that was the secret she had been carrying. No wonder she was cracking, that’s a heavy burden to carry,

“You turned me into a bitch, Ashley! I have spent the last three years protecting myself and my brother from your tormenting and bullying. I’m just tired of it all. I’m tired of holding it all together when it comes to you. As I told you before I’m done allowing you to control my feelings. I’m done hiding from you and most of all I’m done fighting!” Willow turns around and storms out of the gym with Erin and Toby in tow. She left me standing in the middle of this mess.

“She’s changed, Cole, and maybe not for the best either,” Ashley snickered.

I could feel my anger boiling over, this was supposed to be the perfect night for us, for her and now Ashley once again had to go and ruin it. I looked over to Ashley, the look I gave her told her to run.

“She is better than you will ever be!” I yell as I run after Willow.

I found Willow outside with Erin; she had been crying and talking her problems out with Erin. I wish it was me but I get that sometimes girls just need their best friends. “Every time I see her she always brings the worst out of me,” she sniffs. “I hate being like that. Like her.”

“I get that, Willow, but you can’t let her get her way tonight,” Erin urged. “Tonight was about all of us. Why did you leave Cole standing there?”

“I don’t know why I left him there. Maybe I’m just tired of fighting with her for him. I mean, she is always trying to hang around. She is always flaunting her body in front of him, and she knows more than I do in that area. I’m just fooling myself to think this could last when he can have her. I should just let him go before she gets him, before I’m in any deeper.” That statement made my heart hurt. How many times do I have to prove my love to her?

“Willow Johnson!” I hear Erin yell in frustration. “That boy is head over heels, helplessly in love with you. He worships and adores you. Cole treats you so much better than anybody besides me ever has. He has proven to you over and over again. You need to trust him and just get over your fear of Ashley. You finally spilled her secret and O.M.G.!”

The next words to come from Willow were a total smack in the face.

“I’m scared because things are moving too fast; I know he wants more. I even want more and that’s what terrifies me. I’m not ready to take the next step in our realtionship. It will change everything if Cole and I sleep together.” It was time for me to step into the conversation.

“Sweetheart, I’m scared too,” I confided as I walked around the corner. Erin and Toby walked away to give us some privacy. “I do want more and I do want to go further with you but I’m not in a hurry. We have all the time in the world so please don’t break up because you think I’m unhappy with you. If you aren't ready that is okay, truth is I’m not ready either. Besides, we’ve only been together a few weeks; that’s not nearly enough time for us to be having this discusion.”

“I don’t know if I will be able to stop the next time,” she admits. “When you kissed me in the limo, I wanted you. I wanted to do things that I shouldn’t be doing and truthfully, if Erin and Toby hadn’t been there to stop it, it wouldn’t have and that is what scares me the most.”

I pull her into my arms. “I’ll make you a promise right here and right now, I will never push you into doing something you don’t want to do. We will always have someone else with us and we will be more careful. Right now I just want to go in back to the dance, forget this conversation and enjoy the rest of the night with you in my arms. Can we do that?”

She nodded her head. “Yes.”

I took her hand and walked around the corner when I saw Erin come running towards us with the biggest grin on her face.

“Oh my gosh, you guys, you will never guess what just happened!”

“Hmm let me guess, Ashley is the Fall Ball Queen!” Willow was being sarcastic

“No, you are!” she screams. “You both are The Fall Ball King and Queen!”

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