Willow fell asleep while I held her. I knew I didn’t want to leave her ever. I was scared for her and terrified of what I would do. The conversation we had keeps playing over and over in my mind and I still can’t get over what those two did to her, they damaged her but they didn’t break her.
She said she wanted me to let it go but I don’t know that I can. One thing is how can I just walk past Ashley and not call her out. I could always trick her into telling me the truth but I’m betting that in her sick and twisted mind Willow really did ask for it.
She would spill lies and try to shatter what’s left of Willow but how do I let this go? How do I look at my beautiful sweet girl and not see past what horrible and despicable things have happened to her and not have done something about it?
What can I do without the proof though? I don’t really have any answers to all the questions running through my head right now but what I do know is that she needs me to be strong, she needs me to be there for her and I did tell her that I would fight for her and if that means ending Tyler or finding out a way to put him away. I will do whatever I can for her to be safe.
Watching my sleeping girl, I wonder how such people can be so cruel to an amazing girl. Willow deserves so much better than what this life has given her. She deserves to be loved and wanted, she needs to be comforted and held. She needs to feel safe and secure but no one has ever given her that, except for Erin and now me.
I wonder what she is going to do about her and Josh’s living situation. I’m going to be eighteen soon and maybe we can get an apartment together. Wait, never mind, she would never go for that, she is modest and proper. My brain just needs to shut up and let me sleep.
I moved my arm out from under her sleeping form and run to my room to grab my phone and my earbuds. I return to Willow’s room and put her back into the same position she was in, then I turn the music on my phone with my earbuds in so I don’t wake her.
The song that came on is I’ll fight by Daughtery and as I listen to the words I think of how perfect this song relates to Willow and I. I just want her to be happy, I want to see her run and be free. I want to see her not being held back by her past or her parents. I want to see her be confident in herself.
She says she trusts me, but I know she is still holding back and doesn’t believe that I’m not going anywhere. Honestly, I really don’t blame her for feeling like that since everyone in her life except Erin and Josh have hurt and abandoned her.
I can’t begin to fathom how it feels to be alone. I've always had my dad and he was always there when I needed him. He would never treat me the way Willow’s parents are treating her. It makes my stomach churn at the very thought of what her parents have done and my skin crawls when I think of Tyler putting his hands and other parts on Willow.
I’m just glad she was unconscious when it happened because I can just imagine the trauma she would have experienced; I’m sure she wouldn’t be able to let it go as easily. The song changes and I do my best to turn my mind off and come to the conclusion that there is really nothing I can do except what Willow wants me to do, but the minute she changes her mind, I will be there holding her hand.
It seems like I had just fallen asleep when I heard a knock on the door. I opened my eyes and looked around for Willow, but the other side of the bed was empty. I heard the knock again.
“Cole?” my dad says. I got up and walked to the door when I opened it I came face to face with a worried set of a matching pair of brown eyes. I expected him to be wondering why I woke up in Willow’s room.
I looked at my Dad. “Don’t be worried, nothing happened. Willow had a bad dream and I heard her screaming so she asked me to stay with her. I slept on top of the bedspread. I promise I was a gentleman and respected your rules.”
Dad smiles and shakes his head. “I have no doubt of that, Cole. I wasn’t worried about finding you in here since I heard you guys talking. I am however worried about what had you up at four a.m. and from the sound of your pacing it wasn’t a good conversation.”
I run my hand through my glorious bed head and look back at him. “No, it wasn’t,” I state. “I don’t know what to do about it either. I’m not sure I should tell you since it’s hers to tell, but what happened to her was awful and I feel like I should do something. She begged me to let it go, but I can’t, dad.” I walked back over to the bed and sat down; dad followed and took the chair in the corner.
“After she fell asleep, I laid there and watched her; I tried with every fiber of my being to put it in the back of my mind and to forget but I couldn’t. I want to find her parents and give them a piece of my mind. I want to show them how much they have hurt their precious daughter. They have no clue what she has been through since they refuse to acknowledge her as anything other than someone to take care of Josh.”
Dad looks up and I can see sadness and anger in his eyes but it’s not directed toward me. “That’s tough, son, and yes I agree, after everything you guys told me when you got home, I got to thinking about that. I don’t know how her father can be so cruel to her. She is a wonderful girl who deserves so much more than this.”
“That’s not even the worst of it. I can deal with people looking down on me and thinking I’m trash. I did that to myself, but when he sat there and accused her of her mother’s accident, I lost it.”
“Please tell me you didn’t do anything stupid!”
“I didn’t really do anything. I just got in his face and told him that I had no problem reporting him if he ever talked to Willow like that again. I also said I didn’t care what he thought of me; he can talk crap about me because it doesn’t bother me but I will not sit back and watch him hurt his daughter anymore.” Dad appeared worried, I don’t blame him.
“What did he do, son? He’s a very powerful attorney and with what is going on with your mom, he can use this against us. I know you’re trying to protect Willow, I get that, but it’s not the time to go pissing off attorneys, Cole.”
Damn, I didn’t even think about that at the time; I wasn’t really thinking about anything except how pissed I was. “I wasn’t thinking.” I examined the floor to avoid my father’s gaze. “I was only thinking about Willow and how badly she was hurting.”
“What did he say?”
“He informed me that I had no idea who he is or what he can do,” I answer. “I told him I wasn’t afraid of him and he can threaten me all he wants, it won’t make a difference. He can drag me through the mud and try to ruin my life and I’m okay with that as long as I know Willow is getting treated the way she deserves to be.”
“I get that, Cole, but this isn’t just about you and Willow anymore,” Dad argued. “This concerns all of us now. You need to be careful and stay away from that man. Don’t do anything else to further piss him off. Keep your nose clean but still protect your girl at whatever costs. That girl needs you as much as you need her. I see the way you two look at each other and I know you would move heaven and earth for her, but just be careful. A relationship this intense as yours can either make you or it can destroy you and truthfully I’m hoping it will make you.” Dad rubs his unshaven face and gives me a serious look.
“I’m going to let you in on a little secret and I know this because your mother told me last night. When we were fourteen and in the same school, I thought your mother was the cutest girl and I wanted to get to know her. She had secrets and baggage, but I saw through that and I was able to get her to be friends with me, and I was okay with that.” He pauses and I see him hold back the tears.
“We were together all the time but she never truly opened up to me. I never pushed. When were sixteen, we both admitted we loved each other; we got engaged and had planned to get married after graduation. Her parents were never in the picture. In fact, I never met them, she lived with an old lady who she claims was her grandmother, but I later found out that she was her foster mother. To this day I still don’t know what happened to her parents and I just never asked. Anyway, we got married the summer after graduation and life was good and we were happy."
"When you were born a year later we were overjoyed but mom was very timid about it. She said she never had the proper upbringing and wasn’t sure how to be a mom; however, when you were born she looked down at her sleeping son and she knew she had done the right thing. She was an awesome mom. It was about the time you turned thirteen that things started hitting rock bottom with her. She would shut herself off from me and everyone else, and she retreated back into the shy timid girl I knew in school."
"I knew she was depressed and I would ask her about it but she would tell me to leave her alone. I did everything I knew how to because I loved your mother and I wanted to take care of her, but she would never let me in. When you were fifteen, she came to me and said she wanted a divorce but wouldn’t tell me why."
"I loved your mother so I gave her what she wanted and I watched as she married Allan. I watched as he hurt and broke her more and more. Every day I prayed she would find her way back to me.” Dad takes a deep breath and scratches his face again.
“Last night after you left, we sat at the table and she told me why she wanted the divorce. She said it was because we were so young when we met and our relationship was more intense then she had bargained for. She needed to find herself, but I guess that never happened because while she was trying to figure out what she wanted, she was sucked into Allan’s world and when she realized how bad it had gotten she was in too deep.”
He stopped and wiped away the tears. In all my years I have never once seen my dad cry and this pinched my heart so I did the only thing I knew to do. I walked over and gave my father a much-needed hug. He wrapped his arms around me and embraced me as if his life depended on it.
“I just don’t want to lose you too, Cole.” I don’t know why he said that but I just held on to him.
“You’re not going to lose me, I’m not going anywhere.” Dad pulled away and sat back. I went back to my place on the bed.
“I just want you to be careful, son. I know you love Willow, believe me, I know because I love your mother too and I would do anything for her but look where it got us.”
“I understand, dad. I know what Willow and I have is intense and special but I don’t know what I would do without her. I feel like she is the air I breathe, she is my sunshine on a cloudy day; she is the reason I want to wake up every morning. I know it’s not healthy to be in this deep but I can’t help it, dad. Believe me, I have tried. I’m seventeen years old and have never been in love. I have never felt for anyone the way I feel for Willow. I love her and if it takes the rest of my life to prove that to her, I will.”
Dad pierces me with a hard stare. “I have no doubt that you will, Cole, but please just remember you are still young and things can change. You two may grow apart or just grow up and realize what you had was just a high school romance. I’m not saying that you won’t grow up and be happy together, but I just want you to take things slowly and not push her into anything she is not ready for. I know you are a smart kid and I hope you will make the right choices based on your brain and not other parts of your body. Don’t forget, I was a teenage boy once too.” He smiles and stands up. “Come on, I’m sure the girls have breakfast ready.”
“Is that where Willow ran off to this morning?” I figured she wakes up early usually because of Josh.
“Yeah, Josh woke up out of sorts and mom had to come to get her because he wouldn’t calm down. Once he was calmed she offered to help mom with breakfast. She did say she didn’t want to wake you.”
“She doesn’t want to go home and I don’t know what we’re going to do about her living situation, but I don’t want her to go back to that house. There is a guy stalking her and saying she belongs to him. I’m worried about her being there by herself.”
“Does her dad know about him?”
I scoffed at that question. “Her dad is the one who gave the guy the idea Willow belongs to him, he promised her to him.”
“That’s truly sick and I don’t blame you,” he says. “Let’s eat breakfast and we’ll go from there, okay?’
“Yeah, okay,” I say but I still have that sinking feeling that something is going to happen to her and I won’t be there to help her.
As we enter the kitchen, music is playing and I see my mom and my girl dancing and singing along with the music. It felt so good to see my mom the way I remember her and it meant the world to me that they were getting along. My girl was getting my mom out of her shell and I loved it.