I’m floating, no not floating but swaying in the arms of someone, I feel safe and secure, I feel as nothing can hurt me or reach me when I’m in these arms. I look around and see we are in the school gym, there are orange, brown, red and yellow crepe streamers strung around the room, the bleachers are pushed in, there is a refreshment table; there are other students dancing around us. I realize we are at the Fall Ball. I don’t have to look up to know who’s arms I’m in because they belong to the one and only person I want to be with and because I know this where I’m supposed to be.
He leans down and plants a soft kiss on my lips and smiles in the mischievous and his oh so sexy way. “You look amazing,” he says and I look down to see what I’m wearing. My dress is a vintage cream sheer with light orange flowers. I don’t remember ever owning or buying this dress but it’s beautiful. I love how it flows out at the knees and the way it makes me feel. I feel beautiful, desired, and needed. Cole gives me all of this.
I glance down to see what he is wearing which is, of course, his favorite part of his wardrobe. Typical black boots with black jeans but when I look up I held back a gasp. He has on a white dress shirt with a light orange tie that matches my dress and a black suit jacket.
I’ve never seen Cole wear anything but tight t-shirts and his leather jacket. Don’t get me wrong, he sexy as sin but there is just something about a man in a suit and tie. Especially, this man, my man.
“Are you having fun tonight? He asks and I nod my head and we continue dancing. The song playing is Never Say Never by the Fray. I love this song, I started singing quietly along.
“Don’t let me go.”
“Don’t let me go.”
Cole tightens his grip around my waist and pulls me against him, he leans down and whispers in my ear, “Never, I will never let you go, Willow! You are mine and always will be.”
All of sudden it isn’t Cole’s voice and I freeze in fear. I’m still in Cole’s arms but Tyler is talking to me. I move my eyes up and see Cole’s body but his face had morphed into Tyler’s. This is all very strange and I feel like I’ve stepped into an episode of the Twilight Zone. I try to push him away but he holds on tighter.
Where is Cole? What’s going on? I’m now truly scared and just want to go home, but then realized I didn’t have a home to go too. I don’t know where I want to go. I just know I need to be away from here.
“Stop fighting me Willow, you’re only going to hurt yourself,” Tyler says and I’m able to get my arm out of his grasp, I reach up and slap him.
“I will never be yours, please let me go!” I scream and fight like hell for freedom but, not for the lack of trying I was unsuccessful. He raised his hand like he was going to hit me back but was stopped by another hand grabbing his wrist.
“COLE!” I screamed and am finally able to get away from Tyler. I rushed over to him but he pushed me away, what the hell? His pleading eyes connect with mine.
“Run Willow, find somewhere safe and I will find you. Please go.” I do as he says and take off running toward the exit but I’m halted by the witch blocking my path.
“I told you not to mess with what’s mine Willow, yet you chose to ignore me. Now you get to watch while I take back what you stole from me.” Oh hell no!” I push Ashley and get up in her face.
“I don’t know what you and your crazy ass cousin have going on but please get over yourself. You are truly delusional if you think Cole will want someone like you!” She gives me a sinister smile.
“No, Willow, you are the delusional one. Once I tell Cole you gave yourself to Tyler he won’t want you anymore. He will only see you as a liar and a fake. Oh, wait, did you not know that last little tidbit? Oops, well now you do, step away bitch and watch me make Cole fall right into my bed.
I’m angry and slightly broken but still strong enough to fight for Cole. I know I should’ve told him sooner because now I’m going to lose him. There was always the chance but up until now, I didn’t really know what to say. I’m not sure the night is even real.
I will not let Tyler and Ashley win though. However, the will to get Cole back died with my heart when I glance over and about throw up. Cole has his arms on Ashley’s butt and she was caging him in, as they share a very intimate kiss, he seems to be enjoying himself. ”He doesn’t want a weak and pathetic little girl Willow, he wants a real woman who knows how to please him.” Ashely’s whiny voice rings in my ears as I wake up screaming and in a cold sweat. Cole came rushing into the room.
’’What’s wrong?” He said as he hurried to me and cradled me in his arms. I instantly feel calmer.
“It was just a bad dream,” I tell him, only it was a dream that felt too real. “I’ll be okay.”
“Come on baby, you can talk to me.” He wipes away my tears, “You know you’re safe with me, don’t you?
“Yes, it’s just the dream, it felt so real and it still feels like my heart is breaking. It was awful.”I scoot over for him and he lay down next to me. with his arm, he pushes me as tight as he could get me against him.
“It’s okay; you can tell me when you’re ready. Right now let’s just sleep.” There was no going back to sleep for me. I could feel his warm breath on my neck and it sent chills down my spine, goosebumps prickled my arms. I had it bad for this boy and one way or another it was going to destroy me. He was rubbing his hand up and down my arm giving me a sense of peace.
“Stop thinking about it baby and go to sleep. It’s going to be okay.” He kissed the back of my neck and oh did that not send more chills down my back. Having enough and almost losing control I turned so I was face to face with him.
I closed my eyes and sent up a little prayer for help to get through what I needed to say. I know it’s like four in the morning but if I didn’t say it now I would lose my nerve.
“Cole I know it’s late but I need to get this out.” He opened his eyes and scooted himself up on the bed but still finding some way to keep touching me. “Why do I have a feeling I’m not going to like this?”
“Because you’re not!” I confess and start at the beginning of the dream, I told him up until Ashley stopped me; that’s where it gets difficult. He just listens while he holds my hand to comfort me; I notice how concerned he is.
“She laughed and said I was going to lose you once you found out what supposedly happened between Tyler and me.” I feel as ill as I did in my dream when I think about what happened next. I don’t want to tell him but it’s wrong not to. That’s what couples do, tell each other everything, right?
“You were kissing her Cole, and it was very intimate. Seeing how into you were, felt like it was really happening. I don’t have a claim on you, so it’s not like I can make you stay. She’s right though, I’m going to lose you because you’ll realize I’m a pathetic inexperienced little girl.” My tears are relentless and uncontrollable, he gets up on his knees and faces me, he takes a lock of my hair between his fingers.
“You’re not going to lose me, Willow, when I said I love you I meant it and I’m here for as long as you let me. Ashley won’t ever be an issue and will never be a competition for you. I made a promise Willow, and I don’t make a habit of breaking them. I get that you don’t know me all the well yet, but you should know I could never hurt you. I won’t ever put you into position like my mom was in.” I can’t hold back any longer so I just blurt it out,
“I was date raped and I’m sure it was Tyler! What makes this sad is I wasn’t even on a date with him.” He stares down at the light blue and yellow bedspread, I can’t tell what he’s thinking because he won’t look at me. Does he think I’m disgusting like Ashely said he would? Does he hate me and not want me anymore?”
My boyfriend looks up, his warm chocolate pools no longer hold that warmth but only burn with rage with a dark aura surrounding him. I’ve never seen him like this before and I'm not liking it. He gets off the bed and begins pacing the room while mumbling curse words under his breath.
“Damn this freaking cast, I could kill him, Sweetheart! All I have to say is he's damn lucky I'm stuck in this cast. Call me sick but I need to know when it took place and where?”
“I can’t because that night is foggy, it was a long time ago and to be honest I'm not positive it wasn't just a dream. All I can tell is whatever he did was at the Frat party Ashley dragged me too. I can’t give you any more. I recall waking up the next morning with a headache and in a different bed with only in underwear I knew weren't mine. When I tried to stand my legs buckled and that's when I noticed the spot of blood on the sheet. My body hurt everywhere. I was only fourteen and hadn’t a clue what I'd gotten myself into or where I even was. Ashely was the one who slept with boys, not me. I remember how dirty I felt for waking up in a stranger's bed feeling like I drank too much, but I know I didn't drink anything. My mom is an alcoholic and Ashely was on her way to getting there so I made a vow to not drink. I forced myself up and looked around for my clothes but didn't find them, luckily, whoever I was with last night thought enough to dress me in a boy's T-shirt and boxers. I found my bag and shoes and ran out of the house as fast as I could. Terrified I had done something so stupid and for not knowing where I was. I was finally able to get home by using GPS and a cab." This is the first time I've told anyone, and even though I'm scared of the way Cole will look at me getting it out helped.
I’m not sure it’s Tyler because anything before that moring is all a hazy and trying to bring them back just makes me sick. I can’t prove Tyler raped me but I know I would never willingly have sex with someone I don't know and at my age. I should have gone to the hospital or the free clinic but I didn't want my parents called. I didn't want them to know and see how much of a disappointment I was. At the time I was a daddy's girl and valued his opinion of me. I never wanted to disappoint him but at the end of the day that's all I've ever been to him."
Thinking about my Dad brings me to more tears. How can he just hand me over like a prize? Does he not have even an ounce of love for me anymore? When I was a little girl my Dad was my hero but I don't see him like that anymore. Now, I see him as a cheating, lying coward.
"For two years I've been having dreams about a guy, he frightens me so when I saw Tyler tonight something in my brain sparked. He has the same voice and eyes as the guy from my dreams. All I wanted to do was to get away from him. So I would guess my subconscious has been trying to tell me through dreams.” I give him a few seconds to process everything before I tell him the worst of it. He’s so upset and I’m worried he is going to do something stupid. I say a little prayer to help comfort him.
“Cole, you really need to calm down, you’re going to wake up your little sister. I know this is hard to swallow but I have put it behind me, honestly, there is nothing I can do about it and it’s not worth bringing up the past. I only told you so you won’t be caught off guard when Ashley tries to tell you what she thinks happened. She knows what her cousin did but in her mind, I asked for it.”
Cole stops his pacing, turns his dark angry eyes and when our eyes meet his softened and chocolate returns. “I don’t know how I can let this go. He hurt you and took something special from you, he needs to pay for his crime. Ashley needs to pay for her role in it as well. It's not in my nature to just leave things alone when those I love are in danger and he shouldn't out prowling the streets. There's the possibility of him doing this to other girls and stalking you. I don’t want to hurt him, well actually, I do but I won’t for you. However, I can’t promise I won’t be able to hold back when we see him again.”
He comes and sits down on the bed next to me then gently takes my chin between his thumb and index finger, he guides my head to face him. “You don’t need to worry about Ashley saying anything that could change my mind, Willow. I know who and what she is, it’s almost guaranteed she won’t stop until she gets what she wants or she grows tired of trying. I will fight her off for as long as I need to because my heart belongs to you and only you.”
“I know that Cole but she’s vindictive and manipulative. I’ve seen her in action, Ashley will do whatever she can to make me look bad. You needed the truth and that’s it.” I take a breath, “Please, just trust me when I tell you to avoid her at any costs and don’t go out of your way to talk to her, she will use that to her advantage.”
“Trust me, Willow, I don’t purposely seek her out but if I do run into her I’m likely to throw her out a window. I just need you to be open and honest with me, and hide anything from me because I’m a big boy and can handle it.”
I let out a soft giggle at the mention him of what he would do to, Ashley. “Now watching you hurdle Ashley out of a window would be a site to see.” I stop to compose myself then look back at Cole. “I do trust you and I promise to never hide anything from you again. However, I’m a little worried about how you can really handle everything. I mean just look at you, you are about to go on a murdering rampage. I don’t want you to do something you’ll regret.” I took his hand in mine.
“We just need to work together and not let Tyler and Ashley win. I know we are just starting out and already there has been so much crap that could have destroyed us. It didn’t because we are stronger than anything that gets thrown in our path. We can storm through than anything as long as we are a team Willow, and I promise to always support you.”
Cole lets go of my hand and rubs his hand down my face in a calm and soothing manner but the look in his eyes is full of love and determination.
“Baby, I will always fight for you because I love you and that’s what a guy head over heels in love will do for those he loves.” I felt stinging my eyes, I didn’t want to cry again. I have been crying almost all night but his words stuck to me. Why does this boy in front of me want to fight for me? Why he is willing to take on all of this and still be with me?
“Why Cole?” He raised his eyebrows.
“Why do you want to stay with me? Any sane person would run the other direction.” I swiped at my tears. “You don’t deserve this Cole; you deserve a girl who isn’t broken and who isn’t going to bring you with her.” Cole’s eyes brown eyes darken to almost a shade of black as he gazes at me.
“Willow, I told you we are in this together and I want to protect you where others won't. I want you to know you are never going to be alone, you will always have me around to help fight your battles if you want me too. As for why I stay I think the answer has been given on many occasions. I don’t run away from things when they get hard, I face and deal with them. Why do you think I stuck around when my Mom was with Allen?”
“So that’s why you stay because you think I need a savior?” He runs his hand through his bed head hair in frustration. Without all the gel holding the spikes, it’s short in the back but it's longer in the front. As he runs his hand through his hair a piece falls in his face. I take my hand and push the hair away from his gorgeous but tormented eyes
“No, Willow, that is not what I’m saying at all.” His body language and tone scream agitation and I start to feel guilty for putting yet another burden upon his already heavy shoulders.
“Look it’s really late and we both need to get some sleep. Let’s just go back to bed and we will talk more about this when we both have had some sleep.” Cole stands up and presses a kiss to my head.
“See you in the morning and I meant what I said baby, I will always fight for you.” As soon as he walks away I feel cold and empty.
“Cole?” he turns around and a crooked grin rises in the corner of his mouth. “I’m scared so I was wondering if you could hold me until I fall asleep?” He looks relieved that I ask him to stay.
“Alright but no funny business!” He says with a cheeky grin as he walks over to the bed and lays down with me. He opens his arm and I lay my head on his shoulder. Being held by Cole feels like home, it's as of this spot was sculpted just for me. He wraps it around me and I'm swallowed by warmth and I feel safe and at peace when I’m with him.
He squeezes me and presses me against him, he kissed my forehead again and as I closed my eyes I hear him saying “Good night Willow, and I will always be here because I love you.”