“Wait! What?” I say a little too loudly. “You’re joking, right? Please tell me this joke.” Who would nominate me, I thought, but then I thought about what Cole said about me being Cinderella. Cole takes my hand and starts to walk me back into the school.
“No, Willow, I’m definitely not joking!” Erin says while smiling. “This is really exciting, you totally deserve this. Come on, they are all waiting for you.”
I paused and let the nerves take over, once again I would be the center of attention and I didn’t like that. Cole, sensing my apprehension stood in front of me and his warm chocolate brown eyes looked concerned.
“Hey, are you alright?’
“Yeah, I’m just in shock,” I reply. “This was not something I ever expected to happen. What do I do or even say?”
“Well, I didn’t expect it either, but you aren’t alone since I get to go up there with you,” he responds. “Just like everything else, we will do this together okay?”
“Okay,” I tell him and we walk hand in hand back into the school.
When we reach the gym everyone starts clapping and Cole leads me up to the stairs and the stage. I can feel my heart pounding; it’s pounding so hard I fear it will burst out of my chest.
Jamie Carmichael, the Student Body President comes over and places a crown with a soft velvet top and gold stars lining a white fleece. Then she places the sash that says Homecoming King on him. The crowd applauds and Cole being a smart ass flashes them all his famous cocky grin and I can't hold back the giggle.
Jamie hands him my Tiara and I nearly gasp when I see it. It's truly stunning and enchanting. Its outer layer is white gold arches made of rhinestone diamonds and with the bottom the same. Inside the arches are white gold spires with blue topaz diamonds. They did blue for my the diamonds and the top of Cole's Crown. The gold stars also since our school colors are blue and gold.
She says, “You are King, so you get the honors of crowning your Queen.” She smiles and it was like she was truly happy this was happening. Cole turns so he is facing me.
He reaches up and removes the original tiara and hands it to Erin, who had been standing behind the stage. After Cole places the new one on my head, he caresses my cheek as he lovingly gazes at me.
“You are truly a vision, my Queen.” Tears welled in my eyes and I had to fight to hold them back. Cole reaches up and wipes away the fallen ones.
“So are you, my King,” I giggle, feeling a little foolish. Cole just smiled. He took my hand in his again and gave me a reassuring squeeze. We turn and face the audience.
I cast my eyes over the room and see Ashley pouting and fuming, I did just take her Crown. No one has dared tried to go against her until now. Since Monday, when I came out and told her what Tyler and Dre had done to me, she lost control of the school. They didn't fear her anymore. Tonight, since I outed her and told about her abortion at fifteen all her credibility and her reputation and gone down the drain. She is going to fall just like her Daddy.
Her eyes fasten on mine and I'm overwhelmed with so much hatred but I just smile. She knows she’s lost and I’m not going to worry about her anymore. This has been the most magical experience of my life. Jamie starts to speak again.
“Highland High School Class of 2017, I give you your King and Queen!” The audience breaks out in applause and hollers; they all seem sincere.
“Now, Cole, if you would guide your Queen to the middle of the dance floor you can share your first dance as King and Queen.”
Cole holds his arm out for me to take and I gladly loop my arm throw his. He guides me down the stairs leading to the middle of the dance floor; the dancers leave and go off to the side. All Of Me by John Legend starts playing.
Cole lets go of my hand and walks away, he turns around and struts towards me, and a wide grin appears on his face. He kind of reminds me of Patrick Swayze in that first scene where he dances with Baby. It was so sexy and Cole is so damn hot.
He gets closer and slides his useable arm around my waist and dips me, I pull myself back up. Cole pulls away and takes my hand, he twirls me so I turn and wind up in his arms again. He wraps his arm around my waist and pulls me back into him.
I put my arms through his shoulders and lay my hands on his back; I rest my head on his chest and listen to his heartbeat as we sway to the music. This moment feels surreal, it all feels so magical and the moment I wake up it will be all over. I tell myself to stop analyzing everything and just enjoy the moment.
Cole leans down and whispers, “I love you. Tonight has been the greatest and happiest moments in my life. No matter what happens after tonight this will always be my fondest memory.” I wanted to tell him I loved him but I couldn’t get the words to form, so I reached up and placed a kiss to his warm smiling lips.
When I pulled away I said, “Thank you for tonight and for making this night the most magical night. I too will always remember this night.” I laid my head back down on his chest until the end of the song. The rest of the night went like that. I didn’t want it to end.
It has been a month since the dance; Cole and I are still going strong. I still hadn’t talked to my parents so Josh and I are still pretty much living with Erin. My dad called me a few times but I ignored his calls. I keep expecting someone to show up to drag Josh and I back to their house, but I don’t think my dad wants to do that since it would show how neglectful he has been.
I did try to see my mom a few times after she was released from the hospital, but she checked herself into the psych unit at the University Hospital. They told me she wasn’t seeing anyone, at first I was bothered by it but if she is getting the help she needs, then I’m okay with that.
I was also beginning to think Tyler had gotten the hint since I hadn’t seen or heard from him since that day in that house. I still shudder when I think of what I had seen.
Today is Cole’s eighteenth birthday and he finally gets his cast off his shoulder. Last night when we talked he said he wanted to do something after he gets done with his appointment, he also said he had a surprise.
When I tried to get him to tell me, all he told me was to dress warmly and it would be worth it. He seemed truly excited about it. So I decided not to question him anymore and just roll with it. Erin walks in and looks at me fretting.
“What’s wrong my beautiful friend?” she says. “You look amazing!”
“Nothing’s wrong really,” I sigh. “I’m just not sure about this outfit, what if he is taking me somewhere nice?” I’m wearing a long-sleeved blouse with brown leather patches on the elbows. They match the scarf and boots. I’m also wearing a gray and black zip-up vest and black leggings.
My hair is done in separate braids that all go into a high ponytail. For my makeup, I put a chocolate brown shade on my eyes followed with a light gray. I added thick black eyeliner around them and created a smoky look.
For my blush, I used a lighter brownish color that blended very well with my skin tone. I added a darker brown bronzer and on my lips, I used a dark pink lip liner with a salmon-colored lipstick.
If you have ever watched the movie Grease and the transformation Sandy makes at the end is almost how I look. It’s totally different and I love it. Yes, I'm an eighties movies fangirl, so what, get over it!
“Well, wherever he is taking you, eyes will be all over you!” As she says that I hear a rumbling engine coming down the street and it stops right in front of Erin’s house. We both run over to the window so we could see what was going on.
“Oh, no freaking way!” Erin squeals. “You’re so lucky and at this point, I have never been more jealous. Oh, and you definitely did pick the right outfit.”
“This must have been the surprise,” I state. “As excited as I am for him, I don’t know if I can get on that thing.”
Erin gives me a befuddled look. “You will have a blast and besides, Cole would never do anything to let you get hurt. You will be completely safe.”
“Okay.” I wasn’t so sure about her words. I watch Cole get off his beautiful black and silver chrome winged bike and walk to the door. I grab my bag and make sure I have everything I need for his gift.
I race down the stairs and open the door right as he gets ready to knock. He looks up and has a confused look but then his face lights up and the sexy smile I love so much curves his lips.
“Hey,” I say to him and reach up to kiss him. I pull back to see what he is wearing and of course, he is wearing the same thing except he has on a black button-up shirt under his black leather jacket. I also notice he doesn’t have a sling or a cast. “It’s off!”
He smiles and with both arms pulls me into his chest. He wraps both arms around my waist. I snuggle into him and become intoxicated by the feel of both of his arms. I press my nose to his shirt and smell him. He always smells of woods, leather, and mint. I can never get enough of his smell. He reached down and kisses my head.
“It’s off and good riddance,” he chuckles. “Are you ready?” I pull out of his arms and take and his hand in mine. I head over to where his bike is parked.
“Is this my surprise?”
“It’s one of them,” he answers as he hands me a helmet.
I take it but give him a bewildered glance. “It will mess up my hair. Am I dressed okay for where we are going?” I start to ramble. He takes the helmet from me and places it on my head.
“Trust me, you look more than okay and where we are going your hair will be the last thing on my mind.” He has a mischievous gaze in his eyes.
“You sure are being mysteries tonight.”
He just laughs. He helps me on the back of the bike and then gets on in front of me. Before he starts the engine he puts on his helmet. He starts up the bike and it rumbles to life underneath me. He reaches his hand behind and takes a hold of mine and guides my hands around his waist.
“Hold on tight, baby!” he shouts over the loud engine. I tighten my arms around his waist and lay my head on his back. My heart is attacking me for being so near him and from excitement and fear. I feel him laugh and then peel out of the driveway.
As we get out on the open road he starts out slow to keep up with traffic, the ride is thrilling and fun. He pulls off onto a dirt road and now I’m really starting to wonder where he is taking me. As we hit the dirt road he speeds up and the ride gets bumpier and bumpier.
We weren’t on the dirt road for long when he comes to a stop. He turns off the engine and removes his helmet. Then he gets off the bike and tells me to close my eyes. So I listen and feel him remove the helmet. I then feel something silky cover my eyes.
“You’re not going to bring me out here in the middle of nowhere to have your way with me are you?” I tease.
“Maybe,” he says seductively in my ear and he kisses my cheek. He helps me off the bike then I feel my feet lift off the ground, then one arm under my arms and another under my knees. We walk for a few minutes then he sets me down. He removes the blindfold and tells me to look. I open my eyes and look around. We are standing in front of a beautiful cabin.
He takes my hand in his and we walk towards the door, when we walk in my jaw hits the ground. Inside the cabin is a kitchen made of mahogany wood. The appliances are stainless steel. Off to the side of the kitchen is a beautiful dining room with a cherry oak table lit with candles and gorgeous china, it was surrounded with a meal for two. The living room is off to the other side with brown leather sofas. The whole atmosphere is calming and eased some of the nerves.
“When did you have time to do all of this?” I asked.
“My mom did it all while I was at the doctor,” he explained. “She made all the food and set the table. She left right as we were pulling up. She wanted tonight to be special for us.” The thought that his mom did this for us made me love her even more, but then one thought crossed my mind.
“We’re alone?” We haven’t been alone since our conversation at the dance.
“We are, but nothing will happen if you don’t want it to, okay?”
“Okay.” I was apprehensive about being alone with him. He takes my hand again and leads me to the dining room.
“We should eat before dinner gets cold, we can figure out what to do after that,” he suggests. After we are both seated we start eating. His mom had made Chicken Marsala with green beans and garlic bread. It was delicious. For dessert, we had a traditional chocolate cake.
After we finished eating, Cole led me out to the deck with Adirondack chairs; it definitely looked warm and inviting. He sat down in one and pulled me down so I could join him.
Once I got comfortable, he lifted my head with his fingers so our heads are face to face. He reaches down and places a kiss on my lips. It starts out gentle but gets more intense; he runs his hand through my hair and pulls me on top of him.
His hand roams down my back, then when he reaches the edge of my shirt he puts his hand underneath when he touched the edge of my bra I froze.
“Willow, please tell me to stop!” he pleads. “I need you to tell me to stop before this goes any further.”
My brain was telling me to stop but my heart and body were telling me I didn’t want to. I love Cole but this wasn’t what I had wanted yet, but at the same time, we only live once right? I wanted him as much as he wanted me.
After fighting with myself I came to a decision. I straddled Cole; I reached down and kissed him with all the passion I could muster. I sat back up and removed my scarf and vest. I then removed my shirt. His eyes grew wide with desire but concern.
“Baby, don’t do this unless you really want to.”
I lock my eyes with him. “I don’t want to stop! I’m tired of holding back. I want you.”
He turns his body around so his feet touch the ground and stands up with me in his arms. He moves into a cabin and goes straight to a bedroom. My heart is racing, I’m scared but this is what I want. He lays me down on the bed, and then before I feel his body press onto mine he removes his shirt. He kisses down my neck and stops right when he gets to where my bra is covering.
“Are you sure, baby?” he says. “We can stop right now.”
“I’m sure, Cole, but only if you are.”
He kisses me deeply then pulls away. “I’ve never felt this way or wanted anything as bad. I’ve been ready since the night of the dance, but I backed off. I didn’t want you to feel pressured. I also want you to know that this was not my intention to bring you here for this to happen, so I want you to be absolutely certain about what we are about to do. There is no going back after this.”
I reached up and touched his stubble face. “I have been uncertain about a lot of things, most of all my feelings for you but not today. I know how I feel and I know what I want. I’m truly certain this is what I want. I don’t know what will happen after but I guess time can only tell. I want this, Cole, I want you.”
He leaned down so our noses were touching and he says softly, “That’s all I needed to hear.”
That night Cole made me feel like the most beautiful and desirable woman. He made me feel safe and secure. I completely let go of everything and give in to the feeling of being with him and allowing myself to be vulnerable with him. I was scared of what would happen after but I had a feeling everything would be okay.
Cole took me home a little later. Erin wasn’t home when I got back so I went to check on Josh who had been out with his friends. I was happy that Josh had been making friends. Some of his friends were on the ASD like him and some weren’t.
Abby has been great with him and helping him to be more social. She has been a blessing for us both. He was in the room he had been staying in watching an action movie.
“Mind if I join you?” I ask then go in and sit on the bed next to him as he nods his head. “I feel like I don’t see you anymore since you’re Mr. Popular now. How was your night?”
One thing that Josh has improved on in the last couple of months is he has been speaking more and not just to me. Abby did tell me that cutting out a lot of my responsibility has helped him. He was too dependent on me, it wasn't like I didn't I did everything for him, but then again maybe I did. I could've been the reason Josh wasn't improving and now I was letting that guilt eat at me.
“It was fun. Amy, Jason, Brad, April, and I all went to see Guardians of the Galaxy,” he tells me while making eye contact which is also an improvement.
“That’s great, Josh; I’m so happy you have friends and are doing great. I’m just sorry I haven’t been there for you as much.”
Josh locks his baby blues that are identical to mine. “Willow, I’m Autistic but not blind. I know you were drowning. When you met Cole you came alive and he’s been good for you. I know taking care of me has been difficult and has taken a lot of your childhood but I’m doing well now. Abby has been helping me and I’m pretty confident that I can handle going to school by myself when you graduate.”
“Wow, when did my little brother become so strong and independent?” I ask and wipe away the tears. He just shrugged and went back to his movie.
“Well, I’m tired so I’m going to turn in. I love you, little brother.” I hug him. “I’m proud of you.”
“I love you too and thank you for always being there for me but now it's time for you to live your life.” His attention goes back to his movie.
Before I walk out the door I turn around and look at my little brother then walk to my room. As I change and get ready for bed, I think about what happened earlier. I wondered if I would regret it but I don’t.
I love Cole but the question is why was I able to give myself to him fully but still can’t tell him I love him. I went to sleep with that question hanging heavy on my mind.
I woke up late the next morning excited because Cole was supposed to be coming to pick me up. We had planned to spend the day with his family. I looked at the clock it was ten and he was picking me up at eleven.
I hurried and took a shower and got dressed in a pair of blue jeans and a pink hoodie. I threw on my favorite black UGG boots and I flat ironed my hair.
I put on pink lip gloss and called it good. Erin must have gotten in late since she was snoring and showing no signs of waking. I quickly wrote her a note.
Hey, I tried to wait up for you last night. I have a lot to tell you. Text me when you wake up.
I left it by her phone, then grabbed my bag and headed down the stairs. I froze when I got to the bottom.
“What are you doing here?” I ask the person standing in Erin’s kitchen.
“I see you got my message,” he sneered. “You left me no choice; I had to do something to get your attention. You disobeyed me and now you have to pay the price.”
I wondered for a just minute how he was able to get past the officers outside but then remembered they stopped coming. I needed to stall but Cole would be here any minute and if he saw Tyler standing here, well, let’s just say I don’t even want to think about what will happen.
“I’ve had enough of playing your games; it’s time you return to me. I can smell him all over you. You gave yourself to him, didn’t you?” His blue eyes turned a darker shade as his anger darkened.
“I gave you time, Willow! I let you have your fun with him and you betray me by letting him have you! I don’t know that I want to touch you anymore, but I will still keep you and have my fun. It’s time to come home now.”
“You are sick! I’m not going anywhere with you!!” I scream. “You raped me after you get your friend to drug and assault me. You break into my house, trash my room and leave that disgusting and terrifying message I don’t even want to know what you did to get the blood. You stalk me; leave me messages about killing Cole and my brother, the two people who mean everything to me. I’m not some weak little girl you can control; I have more control over my life than you think I do. I will not allow you to control my life!
"My dad may have promised you could have me, but guess what?” I pause and take a breath. “I do not belong to you, or my dad, or anyone for that matter! I belong to myself and I chose to not let you overpower me anymore!” At this point my heart is racing, my hands are shaking so bad it’s starting to hurt. I need to keep stalling. “As for what I did with Cole, that is none of your business. YOU DO NOT OWN ME!!!”
“Willow, what’s going on?” I hear Erin ask, and then freeze in fear when she sees Carter.
Carter reaches out and grabs my wrist and starts to pull me away once again. I’m getting really tired of him doing this; I really don’t want to have to hurt him again. Erin snaps out of it and jumps in the way, she tries to get Carter off but he just pushes her to the side.
“Oh, Willow, that is where you are wrong, everything you do is my business. I have been following you around for a while now, I know everything you did. I know you went out with Cole last night and I had a feeling you were going to give in. I had really hoped you would save yourself for me but then you didn’t. That’s when I knew it was time to take action and bring you home with me. So you may think you have control, my sweet, but I have all the control and power here! You do belong to me and I will see to it that you stay where you belong.”
For once in my life I feel powerless, I have no strength to fight back. I’m tired of fighting and the more I struggle the more he tightens his grip. He has both my hands in his grip now and he’s pulling me to the door.
“You better say goodbye to your friends, my dear, because you will never be seeing them again. You are my property and my property does not hang out with low lives. Cole Knight will move on and forget about you, Josh will just go to a group home and we will never have to deal with him again.” At the mention of Josh’s name, I say a little prayer of gratitude that he is not here to see this.
“Carter, please let me go, you’re hurting me and if you love me like you say you do, you wouldn’t want to hurt me. Cole would never hurt me,” I say sweetly. I realized if I wanted out of this I needed to play him.
He tightened his grip once more. I looked over for Erin but she had left the room, I hoped she left to get help. I prayed Cole would be late and I could get Tyler out of here, I didn’t want blood to be on his hands and I knew it would be. Cole was a live wire when it came to me.
“I don’t ever want to hear that name come out of your mouth again!” he spat “From this moment on he is dead to you and the only name you will ever speak again is mine! Is that clear, my dear?”
“Y…yes, Carter,” I stammer. “I’m done fighting you, I will go with you but you have to promise me one thing first.”
“What is it?” he asks impatiently.
“Please leave my friends alone, and make sure Josh gets taken care off. I won’t be able to live with myself if I know he’s not safe.” I knew it was a long shot and he would never do what he says, but I had to try.
He ponders this for a second then replies, “If that is all it takes to make you obey, then consider it done.” I saw the wicked look in his eyes and I knew right then and there if I went with him my life was over.
Not in the sense that he would kill me but he would break me to the point I would kill myself. I cannot let him be successful! I will not let him win. Come on, Willow, pull on your big girl pants and fight back! I know what I need to do. I don't like it but it needs to be done.
“Okay, then I will leave with you,” I say. “You can let up your grip since I’m going willingly and I want to show you I mean what I say.”
He once again ponders this, loosens his grip, and then I’m able to pull away. As I pull away I sashay over to him. I put my arms around him and lean in to kiss him, but instead, I bring my knee up and get him in the groin.
When I hear him grunt in pain and crumble to the floor, I try to run but he recovered fast, he grabbed my ankle and pulled me down to the floor. I try to crawl away, still wondering where Erin had run off to. Tyler crawls on top of me and pins my legs with his and uses his hands to hold my arms in place. He is done playing with me, I can’t move and I can’t breathe. He gets within an inch of my face.
“When are you going to get it, Willow?” he exploded. “I always get what I want. If you are expecting your boyfriend to come and play your Knight in shining armor, you are fooling yourself. He’s probably off fooling around with Ashley. You may think he wants you but all this time he has been sneaking off to be with her. How about that for someone who says he loves you?”
He had to be lying. Cole would never do such things to me, he loves me and after everything he has been through with his mom and Allan, he would never do such horrible things. Tears rolled down my face and I know all hope has been lost, but I still had to fight. Tyler uses one hand to wipe away the tears.
“Dear sweet Willow, do not waste your tears for him. Save those tears for me and what I have planned to do to you.”
Oh please, God, if you have ever heard my prayers please help me now! I say another prayer. I’m running out of time and he’s gotten his way.
“You are nothing but a lying coward!” I angrily challenged. A wicked smile curves the corners of his mouth, he lets go of one of my hands but moves it down and tucks it in his leg. He reaches into his pocket and pulls out his phone.
“We knew you would say that so we took a picture to prove to you he is not who you think he is.” He shows me a picture of Ashley and Cole together, they are standing very close, Ashley is pushing her busty chest into him, he’s not touching her but he’s not stopping her either. He says he can’t stand her enough to be in the same room with her so this doesn’t make sense.
“That doesn’t prove anything!” I shout. “Even if he did change his mind, I can promise you he still would never choose her willingly.” I spit at him and continue to squirm. “You are going to have to kill me first.”
“I knew you would say that too!” he says and next thing I know my head is being slapped hard enough to make me see stars.
Before everything went black I hear Cole barging in the door screaming, “Get off of her you asshole!” and Erin standing in the doorway with a gun aimed right at Tyler's chest. It was the only chance to say it to him and if I was going to die tonight he needed to know how I felt despite my confusion and I only had seconds left of being conscious.
“I love you, Cole!” Everything went black.