The drive to the lake is twenty minutes from my house since its hidden deep in the mountain top. On the drive there Cole reaches over and takes my hand in his, he rubs his thumb in a circle pattern in hopes to comfort me. I don’t want to tell him about Trevor but I think he deserves to know. I kept my secret about Tyler for so long and it ended up being the dumbest thing I ever did. If I’m going to start anew with Cole, he needs to know the truth.
On the way up Cole and I were both quiet. I was figuring out the best way to tell him but I don’t have a clue what he was thinking. He turns on the road that leads up to the lake then looks over and gives me a warm and reassuring smile. I’m not sure why I’m so nervous about telling him, it’s not like he’s not going to take Payton and run away. I know Cole and his guard will go up and stay to protect us and maybe that is what I need. He pulls into the parking lot and quickly finds a parking spot. He turns off the car and moves sideways to look at me.
“It’s beautiful up here.” He states.
“Yes, it is. I spent a lot of time up here during Tyler’s trial, it was the only place I could go where I could hide and not be pestered by the media.” I take my seat belt off and get ready to exit the car. “Let’s take a walk.”
“Okay.” He says, “Stay there.” I let out a soft giggle when he gets out and comes around to my door. He has always been a gentleman. He takes my hand in his and we head towards the boardwalk. I look around and glimpse at the crystal clear lake, it so clear you can see the reflection of the mountainside.
There are people walking around the boardwalk, other’s are on the docks with their children, waiting for the fish to bite. The birds are flying high and a squirrel just ran from one edge of the walkway and disappeared into the woods. Everywhere I look there are trees hiding the lake from prying eyes. I take one last glance then I start talking and I decided to start from the beginning.
“We were barely into Tyler’s trial when I discovered I was pregnant and it ended about a month before I had Payton. The press and media were always hassling me because they thought the baby was Tyler’s and wouldn’t accept the fact that she wasn’t. My face was all over the news and labeled as victim number one Tyler had raped and gotten Pregnant. Nothing I would tell them would change their stupid minds. When my Dad threatened to sue them for slander they finally backed off.”
“Were they expecting me to run and hide and whine about how unfair it was that I got pregnant by a serial rapist. I wasn’t going to lie about it just to get pity. I found out later on that Tyler actually had gotten another one of his victims pregnant; she has a little boy who is the same age as Payton. So I guess that’s why the media was so obsessed with my pregnancy. I got to the point of just not leaving the house when I didn’t have too.” Cole stopped walking and let go of my hand, he pulled me into him.
“I’m so sorry Baby.” He kissed my forehead. “I should have been here for you.” I pull out of his hug and start walking again.
“The rest of senior year was probably worse than going through the stupid trial. Everyone knew about my pregnancy and of course, Ashley had to put her own spin on it by telling everyone I cheated on you with Tyler, so I was basically the whore Ashley always accused me of being. I almost dropped out but Erin wouldn’t let me. I did what I needed too to keep my GPA up so I could get accepted into college. Of course, I didn’t have plans of going to College right away since I was getting ready to have a baby.
“There was a time I had thought about giving her up but then I thought about you and realized she is a part of you; she is the only thing I have of you. Anyway, I graduated from High School and had a scholarship to Utah State. My parents were very supportive of everything; they woke up when they realized what Tyler did and blamed themselves for everything.
"Especially, my Dad, he has been in protective mode ever since. They sold the house and bought the one we are in now.” We had stopped in front of the bench, Cole takes my hand and sits down, I follow suit. He hasn’t let go of my hand and I’m grateful.
“The summer before school started Erin moved in with me and a three-month-old baby, she got accepted to Utah State as well. So we got an apartment off campus and I focused on School and Payton. My Mom was a Godsend during this time. I wouldn’t have graduated without her help.” I pause and think about the best way to tell him about Trevor.
“I joined a study group for my Psychology class, and that’s where I met Trevor.” Cole tenses up when I mention Trevor. His face screws up in pain. I need to reassure him it was nothing like that. “Trevor and I became friends, that was all I wanted but he wanted more, and I told him I couldn’t give him anything other than a friendship."
"He was okay with it through College but after we graduated and I moved back home, he followed me; he got a job at the same school I teach. Last week he asked me out again and of course I told him I couldn’t, he grabbed my wrist and wouldn’t let me go.” Cole gets up and starts to walk away but then he comes back and takes my hand in his.
“Did he hurt you?” He asks while examining my wrists.
“No, not physically. It was what he said that really hurt but, I had learned with Tyler and I’m not walking into this blindly. I told him to let go and he did. Well, today he called right before you came over, he asked me to go with him to a concert. I tried telling him I couldn’t go, and then he started yelling about whom I was with and if I was seeing someone else. I told him it’s not any of his business what I’m doing or who I’m seeing. Then I hung up. He’s been sending me all these texts and I’m starting to get scared. This feels like Tyler all over again.” I start crying.
“Do I have psycho magnet painted on my forehead? I don’t understand it.” Cole pulls me in and wraps me in his arm, he holds me while I cry. I don’t just cry about my problems with Trevor, I cry the tears I refused to let go four years ago. I cry for my lost childhood, I cry for the lost time I could have had with Cole.
I just let it all go and it feels good. It feels good to be back in his arms. He uses his knuckle and lifts up my chin to look up at him. His beautiful chocolate eyes show so much sorrow and guilt but also love.
“You don’t have to do this alone anymore if you’ll let me. Please let me protect you. I couldn’t protect you from Tyler but I can now. It’s not just you anymore; we have Payton to shield from all the evils in the world. You also don’t have to do the parenting alone, I want to help you. I know it’s just been you and Payton for the last four years but I’m here now so let me in okay.”
He leans into me, his mouth is so close to mine, his warm breath tickles my lips; he gently brushes his lips against mine. Without words he’s asking for permission, I tell him with my eyes it's okay.
Then he presses his mouth firmly on mine. He wants to deepen the kiss but I pull away, I don’t want to go that far right now, especially, since we are in a crowded area. He took notice of my apprehension.
“I’m sorry Willow, I shouldn’t have done that.”
“It’s okay Cole, I get it. “Don’t think I don’t want to, I do but I know where it will lead and I’m not ready to go there right now. Just give me some time and I think if we are going to start over the best thing is to not be alone. Things have a habit of getting intense with us.” Cole chuckles and then reaches up and kisses my forehead.
“My love for you is intense Willow, it always has been. I understand so I will respect your wishes.” He stands up and reaches for my hand. “I just want you to let me in, I don’t want you to hide anything this guy says or does. Can you do that for me?” His eyes are pleading with me, it’s very clear he means it, he wants to protect me and Payton and honestly I’m too tired of fighting off these creeps.