Unfulfilled Journey

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Chapter 3-Cole

I never realized how close I came to losing Willow tonight. To try and begin to tell you how afraid I was wouldn’t even do it justice. I really wanted to knock this guy out and put him in his place. He was scrawny and I could have taken him on a good day but not today.

I was way past time for my pain meds but Willow needed me and she trumped my pain. Of course, I’m probably glutting for punishment but I will gladly take it to know Willow is safe. I definitely have to say I’m really proud of my girl though. I knew she was strong, hell, I’ve seen it with Ashley but I didn’t know she had it in her to really hurt someone.

When she hauled off and punched the douchy creep in the nose I was stunned but saw the pain in her eyes. I wanted to run to her and hold her in my arms to comfort her.

I heard the crack when her fist connected with face and with the amount of blood flowing out of his maimed nose tells me it was broken. He stumbled back and I tried to brace myself for the impact when Willow took off towards me. However, I wasn't strong enough with one arm and we tumbled to the floor. Talk about humiliating.

Once she regained her composure she got back on her feet and was ready to get the hell out of there. She held out her hand for me and I took it, but it took some time to gain my balance. Once I was back on my feet she wrapped her shaking arm around my waist and started walking toward the exit.

She took one last look at Tyler and glared at him. The way his attention was on her, made me nervous. He was determined to make Willow his and he wasn’t going to back down. She didn’t cower or back down; she just shook her head and walked away.

When we got to her car she helped me get in and I could see she was trying to stay strong for me. The thing about Willow is she won’t break down in front of anyone. She puts everyone else’s needs in front of hers.

I wish she would understand that right now is not about me, this about her. I will have to coax her into talking about it. When she gets in the car I reach over and take her hand.

“I’m really sorry Willow! He never should have been able to get to you, he shouldn't have been able to touch you. It’s my job to protect you, but I couldn’t and now you have to deal with him too."

She climbs over the seat and into my lap. Her grey sleeved arms wrap around my neck."Cole, please don't go there. I'm not sure who Tyler is but he's not going to be able to touch me again. I'm capable of taking care of myself." She snuggles into my good shoulder and says,

"It was because of you that I was truly able to do what I did in there, I was scared for you more than anything. When I saw the look of pain and torment cross your face I knew I had to do something. I hated it but I will do it again if I have to. I'm also glad I had the guts to break his nose big nose." She giggles. " I mean did you see the size of that thing?"

We both laugh a little and it's at this moment I realize I need to tell her how I feel. She might bolt, or even be scared but I need to tell her.

“Willow I need to tell you something, I know it’s fast and we’ve only been together a couple of weeks but I’ve had more time to think about how I feel about everything. Tonight, when you stood up to your dad and Tyler, it made me realize how easily I could have lost you and it helped me understand what I'm feeling." I take her hand in mine again and feel how shaky it is. Her breathing picks up as well. All signs of being nervous. I take a deep breath then exhale.

"So, um...Willow, I love you! I’m so in love with you it hurts." I reached up and wiped away her traitorous tears. She starts to speak but I place my finger to her lips. "I know this is fast but when I walked into that stupid history class and heard you tell that fat ass teacher off I was gone." She lets out a soft giggle and I start to relax a little.

"I found your rebellion incredibly sexy and I had to know you. I spent the next few weeks trying to get you to notice me but you didn't. When you finally did and I saw your captivating smile I was enchanted, so anyti Mr. Thompson would attack you I would feel this protective instinct kick in and all I wanted to do was kick his chubby greasy face in. I found that really odd that I would feel that way because I only get that protective with those I care about. So it was then when I knew you were someone I wanted and really cared about and possibly could love."

"Cole...I..." I was pretty sure what she was going to say and I wasn't ready to hear her say she loved me back just because she thought it was what needed to be said. I want her to say it when she is ready and truly feels it.

“Baby, I don’t expect to hear you say it back. I want you to tell me when you truly know and feel it in here.” I place my hand over her heart.

“Okay,” she whispers as I brush my lips softly against hers. I wrap my arm around her and pull her into me; she snuggles deeper into my shoulder and falls asleep.

I wasn’t sure how long we had stayed there; I must have fallen asleep because I was content with her being right where she belonged. I was startled by my phone ringing, I managed to pull it out of my pocket and saw it was my Dad.

I looked at the time and was shocked at how late it was. I gave Willow a quick peck on her cute nose to wake her up and answered my phone.

“Hey, Dad,” I answer trying to sound calm.

“It’s getting late and I wanted to make sure everything’s going okay and to let Willow know Josh is out cold on the couch. He says. "Your Mom made up the other quest room for Willow if she wants it. We don’t feel comfortable with letting her go home so late and to an empty house.” My Dad is the best and my Mom is working at getting better. I'm still working on forgiving her.

“That’s really nice of you, Dad. I will let her know and we are on our way home.” I hear him pause and sigh before he speaks again,

“Is everything okay with her Mom?” How do I answer this question without giving too much away since he will read right through me?

“Well... Um... We aren’t sure; we didn’t get in to see her.” I pause, “There were some issues.”

“What kind of issues? Are you guys okay?” He asks with concern lacing his voice.

“Yeah, we’re okay. Willow's just tired. We’ll talk when we get home okay?”

“Okay, just get home.” He pleads “Cole?”

“Yeah, Dad?”

“Be safe! Both of you and I love you Son.” Okay, that was a bit weird for him to say but at the same time, it helped ease some of this heartache.

“We will and I love you too Dad!” We both hung up and I shoved the phone back in my jeans. I looked over at Willow who was rubbing at her eyes; she looked exhausted but gorgeous at the same time.

I was feeling better and luckily I was able to drive so we switched sides. The minute we were out on the road she put her head against the window and closed her eyes and I swear she mumbled something that sounded like “I love you too” but I wasn’t sure so I didn't question it.

It took almost an hour and a half to get us back to my Dad’s. I expected Willow to wake up when I turned off the car but she didn’t even stir. My girl was physically and mentally exhausted. If had use of both arms I would have just carried her and put her to bed but that’s not possible right now. I gently caressed her face and brushed some fallen hair behind her ear, hoping to get her to attention.

“Hey Willow, we’re back at my Dad’s house, he said you can stay here for the night.” She starts to stir and is startled at first but settles down when she sees me.

“W..What time is it?” she asks

“It’s after one in the morning,” I tell her.

“I need to get home!” She panics.

“Willow my mom has made up the spare room for you. We didn’t feel safe with you driving home this late and besides Josh is already asleep. I would also be able to sleep better knowing you were sleeping down the hall instead of worrying about you driving home and being in an empty house.”

“I... I don’t have anything for the night.”

“Don’t worry about that, I’m sure my Mom has something she can loan you for the night or I can give you one of my shirts.” Just the image of Willow wearing one of my shirts is enough to get me a little worked up but I shake the thought away.

“Please Willow, I will get on my knees and beg if I have to. I know you’re worried about everything. What your parents will think and what others will think but it’s not like that. My parents are here and you know I'm not going to go sneaking into your room and well...you know. I'm just not that guy. I just want to keep you safe and to be honest I’m a little freaked out that Tyler might be lurking in the shadows.” At the mention of his name she clenches her teeth and balled her fist.

“I guess you’re right. I’m too tired to fight him off again and just so we are clear I do not give a damn what my parents think. My Father lost all and any parental concern when he promised me to that psychopath like I’m a freaking item to be given away!” She was almost yelling at this point and I didn’t know that tidbit about her Father, which only added fuel to the fire.

“I don’t know what I’m going to do Cole or where I’m going to go. All I know is that I’m done with that drama; I just need to get out and move on. Of course, Josh will come with me.” What am I going to do?” She cries and I pull her into me again, I rub calming circles over her back.

“Shush baby, it will be okay. Let’s not worry about this right now. We just need to go in and get some sleep then we can talk about it in the morning okay?”

“Okay.” She says with a yawn. “Let’s go.”

My parents were sitting at the kitchen table with a mug full of tea sitting in front of them. My Mom saw us walk in and hands willow and I each a mug. “I thought you might like some Chamomile tea to help you sleep.”

Willow takes it and returned the kindness by giving my mom a smile. She takes her mug as walks to the table and sits down; I follow suit. “I left a new toothbrush and a set of PJ’s on the bed in the room I made up for you. I figured we’re about the same size. I hope that’s okay?” Mom says as she fidgets nervously.

My relationship with Mom is really strained right now, but watching her take care of my girlfriend gave me the courage to walk over to her and pull her into a hug.

“Thank you, Mom. She has had a really rough night and needs this.” I knew by the worry showing on her face she wanted details but I shook my head and mouthed “Not now. She let it go. The time would come for questions and answers but right now sleep for both of us took precedence.

“Thank you, Mrs... I mean Sarah.” Willow yawned and then her cheeks turned a pretty shade of red. Have I mentioned that I really love it when she blushes? I look over to my Mom and see her smile

“Thank you, Sarah, and Mr. Knight for everything and for letting Josh and I stay here tonight. How was Josh?”

“You are very Welcome Willow. We care for you and Josh and being parents we wouldn’t feel comfortable sending you home this late. and I’m sure your father is busy with your Mom at the hospital. How is she?” Dad asked. “Josh is a great kid; you’ve done an amazing job with him.” Willow gazed at me for comfort and took a sip from her mug.

“I don’t know I wasn’t able to see her.” I heard both my parents gasp; I glanced over at Dad, his body was tense and was reigning in his anger. Then my Mother looked about ready to cry.

“Why would they not let you in to see your Mother?” Dad asked

“Well Dad, this is one of those issues I mentioned on the phone. We will talk about it but it is almost two a.m. and we really need to get to sleep so we will talk about it in the morning, yeah?”

“You’re right Son, let’s get to bed.” He agrees as he stands up, walks to the sink and rinses out his cup. Mom takes mine and Willow’s then follows Dad. I take her hand and lead her into the living room to check on Josh.

“He's so peaceful.” She whispers.

“That’s a good thing, Willow, you both deserve to be happy and have some peace in your lives,” I tell her as I wrap my arm around her waist.

“You do too, Cole.” I reached over and placed a kiss to her head.

“I have it." I wrap my arm around her waist and pull her into me. "I have my family and you. That is all I need to be happy.” She leaned her head on my shoulder and yawned. “Let’s get you to sleep.” I reach out for her hand and lead her up the stairs to her room and on the way. I pointed to my room, my Dad’s room, then my Mom and Bridget’s room.

We finally stopped at her door and I pulled her into a hug, she wrapped her arms around my neck and stood up on her tiptoes and pressed her warm sweet lips against mine. “Even with everything that happened tonight, I’m glad you were with me. This may sound cheesy but I’m glad I can finally say you’re my boyfriend.” She gives me a beautiful smile, one that I hadn’t seen since she received that damned phone call.

“That doesn’t sound cheesy at all because I have wanted you to be my girlfriend from the moment I saw you. I just didn’t have the guts to talk to you. I thought you wouldn’t like me because of who I am.” She removes one arm and reaches for my check

“Cole it’s because of who you are. You're always honest with me and there for me. You don't push me into anything I don't feel ready for. I also happen to like who you are. I just wanted you to know that everything about you is why I'm falling for you.”

That was what I needed to hear. She didn’t say she loved me but she admitted she was falling for me and that was good enough. I placed my lips against hers once again and gave her a sweet goodnight kiss.

"Goodnight Baby, I’m glad you stayed.”

“I don’t think I really had a choice.” She teased.

“You didn’t!” I teased back.

“Goodnight Cole.” She went into her room and closed the door.

I returned to my room and got ready for bed. The pain had returned so I popped a couple of Ibuprofens and then crashed on my bed. I was asleep with dreams of Willow before my head hit the pillow. I didn’t know what the next few days would bring and what we were facing but I do know that no matter what I’m not leaving Willow’s side.

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