Embracing Fate

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Chapter *8-Cole

As I listened to Willow tell me how the last four years were for her, I let the guilt sink in. I knew I shouldn’t have left, I had this nagging feeling in my gut that told me I needed to stay, but I ignored it, I needed to be with my family. We all needed a fresh start and to heal. Without the daily reminder of what Allan had put us through. However, the guilt was eating me alive and I don’t know what to do to rid myself of it.

After I dropped Willow off at home, I went for a drive; I just didn’t know where I was going until I pulled up to the trailer my Mom, Bridget and I lived in with Allan. I get out of my car and walk up to the door, I’m not completely sure what I was supposed to find here, or what I was even doing, but for some reason, this is where my mind took me.

I was here for a reason. The trailer looked dilapidated and abandoned. The red paint that had once reminded me of blood and nightmare’s turned an ugly shade of rusty brown. The windows were all broken and shattered while the whole place was tagged with graffiti. I went to the door and noticed it been kicked open.

I walk into the trailer and was sickened by the smell. I covered my nose with the collar of my shirt because it smelled of death and decay. I knew I shouldn’t be here but my mind as always takes over and leads while I just follow because I don’t have a choice. I trudge further into the trailer, and see all the furniture is still in the same place. However, it has been cut up and destroyed.

It seems like someone was looking for something, drugs, and money I’m betting. I shake my head at the thoughts of what my Mom, Bridge and I went through at that Bastards hands all for his stupid habits and because of his gang affiliations. I never asked my Mom but I often wonder if she would have left him if she knew she was putting her Children’s lives in the hands of Gang member? I guess I will never know.

I begin to believe the reason I’m here is to remind me of how we once lived, to help ease some of the guilt. I’ve been going to therapy for the past four years and even did some interning for some of the classes but I don’t think I will ever be fully healed from the damage he caused.

I’m also not sure the guilt of what happened the night of his death will ever leave. I should have been the one to kill him, not my Dad. This was mine and Allan’s fight and I should have been to one to finish it.

The guilt and shame still clings to my dad as Ashley Harrison did to me in High School. Even though I didn’t want her, she still wouldn’t go away; she’s the perfect analogy for what Dad and I dealing with right now. It’s persistent and nagging, always there begging for more attention. Asking to be fed and be allowed to consume you; the guilt is like a demon that wants to swallow you whole and won’t let you go.

I don’t want to live this way and I don’t want to start my life with Willow and my Daughter this way. I can’t be the Boyfriend and hopefully someday in the future, the Husband Willow needs or the father Payton needs me to be. I need to let go of all this guilt before it does consume me and I’m no longer good for anyone, let alone myself.

I didn’t want to stay here any longer, this place brought back to many bad memories. I headed out of the trailer and got into my car. Once I sat in my car I let out the breath I had held in. It has taken me four years to come to terms with everything and I realize now I have to let go of the past so I could have the future I desired and deserved.

It was late by the time I reached my apartment. I wasn’t sure if Willow was still awake or not. I decide to shoot her text.

Me: Hey it took a few minutes for her to respond.

Willow: Hi

Me: Were you sleeping?

Willow: No, I just got off the phone with Erin.

Me: I drove by the old trailer tonight.

Willow: Oh and how was that?

Me: Kind of scary. It was run down and really creepy. I did learn something while I was there.

Willow: Oh yeah, what did you learn?

Me: I realized that in order for us to have a real future I have to let go of the past. What I mean is, I have felt guilty ever since I left you. When I learned about Payton, I felt even more guilt because I left you alone and pregnant, you had to face all of that alone. I wasn’t there when you needed me the most. I’m letting go and starting over with you and Payton.

Willow: Cole, you need to forgive yourself for that, you didn’t know and you did what you needed to do for you and for your family. I don’t hold any of that against you and you shouldn’t either. You’re here now and that is all that matters. As for the past, we can let go together. I’m still haunted by things from my past too. There are things I’m struggling with but I’m ready to rid myself of them.

Me: I love you Willow.

Willow: I love you too Cole, I always have. There was never a day where my thoughts weren’t with you.

Me: I know and same for me. Could I drive you and Payton to school in the morning and pick you up after?

Willow: Sure but why?

Me: Well call me crazy or even selfish, but I want to see this Trevor guy. I won’t talk to him or do anything unless he does something stupid. I don’t want this to be like it was with Tyler.

Willow: Okay, be here by seven.

Me: Got it, I will be there. Goodnight baby.

Willow: See you in the morning and sweet dreams.

I set the alarm on my phone, and then I lie down on my bed and fall asleep. My dreams aren’t only with Willow, Payton is included. In my dreams, we are a perfect family, and we are happy. There is no drama or people from our past standing in our way.

The next morning I arrive at Willow’s house a few minutes early. Willow opens the door and my breath is taken away, she’s wearing an olive green tunic-like shirt, adorned with buttons down the side. Black leggings with brown knee-length boots and her hair is down in soft blond waves, but it’s the smile on her lips.

That smile is so bright and beautiful. Her gorgeous blue eyes are staring back at me, she opens her mouth to say something but was stopped when Payton comes running out of the door and into my arms.

“Daddy, I’m so excited you are going to take me to school. Now I can tell all those mean kids about you. I’m hoping they will stop teasing me about not having a Dad.” Willow and I both look at each other. Willow kneels down in front of Payton and I do the same. Willow reaches over and softly caresses her cheek.

“Baby girl who is teasing you and why didn’t you tell me?” She asks. Payton looks between her Mom and I. Then goes on to tell us

“It’s just some mean boys in my class. They say I don’t have a Dad because you didn’t know who he was. Of course, I know that truth, so I always ignore them, but sometimes it hurts when they say mean stuff about you.” She starts crying and Willow wraps her arms around our Daughter. I reach my arms around her as well. Willow looked like she was holding back her tears. I’m the first to pull away and turn Payton around so she is facing me.

“Sweetheart, you just show me who these boys are and I will take care of them.” I only half kid, but, the Father in me wants to beat these boys for making me her cry. I know there will be many times when boys will make her cry and I will want to take my gun out. There were also be times where she will need me to protect her but I can't always jump in and rescue her. However, today I can, today I can help her show those boys she does have a Dad and he's right here.

I will never understand how kids can be so mean. I was able to deal with the bullies in High School, and Willow dealt with hers, even though I wanted to keep her from them. When it comes to my four- year- old Daughter, I will do everything I can to keep her from having to experience what her Mother had to go through.

Payton wraps her arms around my neck and tells me she is a big girl and can take care of some stupid boys. I tell her that I’m her Dad and it’s my job to keep her safe, even it’s from a bunch of four-year-olds. She rolls her eyes and shakes her head at me and I can’t help but chuckle.

She reminds me so much of Willow and me, just as stubborn. Willow giggles and walks towards her bedroom then comes back out with her bags, Payton’s backpack, and sweater.

“Well, if we don’t leave now we are going to be late.” She hands Payton her sweater and backpack and I help her put it on. We then walk out to my car, Willow gets Payton’s booster seat out of her car and puts it in mine. Payton jumps in and buckles herself in while smiling the entire time.

We pull into the Elementary school’s parking lot, I park and turn off the car. My plan is to walk them into the school, hoping to get a glimpse of Trevor. I get out of the car, walk around and help Willow and Payton out.

By the time I’m done getting Payton’s car seat undone, Willow’s body stiffens and is staring at the school. I follow her line of sight and spot a guy standing there. It’s scary how much he reminds me of Tyler with the way he holds himself and the way he is staring at Willow. His eyes burn with lust and possession.

He locks his eyes on me, he’s pissed and wants to me go away but I’m not scared, and I’m not going to let some pretentious pansy asshole stop me. My Girls are in danger from the guy, I can tell just by the look in his eyes. It was the same one Allan would give my Mom, and I saw that look the night Tyler tried to kidnap Willow. I’m not that eighteen-year-old kid anymore, and I have more to protect now.

I walk over to Willow and take her hand in mine. I look at her and tell her she will be okay and she won’t be alone. She lets her body calm down a little and Payton takes my hand. then we walk towards the school.

We get to the door where Trevor is standing; he doesn’t say anything as we walk into the school but if looks could kill. I could feel the heat of his hated gaze at the back of my head but I don’t let that deter me from my mission, to make sure they get where they need to go.

We reach Willow’s classroom, I kiss her forehead and tell her she will be ok. She nods and walks to her desk and pulls papers out of her bag. I then walk Payton to her classroom. She takes my hand as she struts in like she’s the Queen of the World. I do everything I can to hold back the laugh bubbling up inside me. She stands in the middle of the classroom still holding my hand. She looks at all the kids sitting in a circle on the floor and says,

“This is my Dad so you can all stop teasing me now!” I glare at the boys and they freeze in their seats. That’ll scare them. She lets go of my hand and walks to her place on the floor. I give her one last smile and walk out. I stand at the door for a minute and wait to see if the kids say anything to her.

When I was satisfied I checked on Willow one last time. She was writing music notes on the board. Seeing that she is doing okay I walk out of the school only to come face to face with the Creep. He tries to push me but I grabbed his hand as he reached out.

“You think just because you came back, you could just woo her and get her to come back to you?” He says. “You left her alone helpless, and pregnant.”

“Would you just shut the hell up?” I snap. “I’m not going to fight you because it wouldn’t be a fair fight, also Willow would kick my ass for fighting with you. However, if you threaten or touch her in any way again, I won’t hold back. Second, you have no clue what happened between Willow and me, and it’s really none of your business.”

“She doesn’t belong with you!” He declares. “You are only a void until she comes to her senses. You are just someone to have a good time with if you know what I mean.” That comment sent me over the ledge. I wanted to punch him, I wanted to end him. That remark was uncalled for, he was basically calling Willow a slut and I’m not okay with that. A flick of evil flashes in his eyes; he thinks he’s gotten what he wanted but he’s wrong. I walk over to where he’s standing and corner him.

“I will not fight you and I will not discuss Willow or our relationship with you. I’m going to walk away before I do something stupid but before I do I have one thing to say...I’ve dealt with guys like you before, and I can tell you they didn’t walk away unscathed. I will protect those I care about and I will not hesitate to end anyone who hurts them. My advice is to stay away from Willow and Payton. Next time you won’t walk away with your pretty boy face intact.” Trevor doesn’t say anything but looks at me as if he is saying ‘screw you’

“It’s going to be hard to stay away from her since I work with her.” He sneers and I glower back at him,

“We’ll see about your job once I tell the principal how unsafe my Daughter and Girlfriend are with you working here. I know about the phone calls and texts, I also know about you grabbing her. Yes, she told me everything, all about how you followed her here, and how you just happened to get a job teaching at the same school.” He had the decency to look a little frightened and ashamed.

“You wouldn’t dare!”

“Don’t test me, just leave them alone!” I walk away and leave him standing there. I spent the next few minutes watching and waiting for him to screw up just so I could have a reason to hit him. I walked away being the good guy but it wasn’t easy.

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