I took Cole’s outstretched hand and skipped to him, pressing my side against his. He soon pulled me round so I was standing between his legs. That simple gesture was enough to make my heart soar.
“You okay?” Cole whispered in my ear. I swallowing hard as his breath tickled my skin, sending a shiver down my spine. A nod of the head answered his question. “I’m guessing Kerry’s finally making her move on Ben?” I looked over to where he was looking and saw Kerry with her tongue down Ben’s throat. Her plan seemed to be working. It still didn’t make me want to do the same though.
After three cans of coke, I was desperate to go to the toilet. Cole had told me it was upstairs, last door on the right, so I weaved between the drunken guests to go find it. I had just closed the bathroom door when I heard Mary talking to some of her friends about Cole and me. The music was still quite loud upstairs so I could only just about hear. Cole only feels sorry for her. He can do way better than that freak. She’ll never make him happy, he’ll get bored of her soon enough.
Walking away from the door, I sat on the edge of the bath, not wanting to hear any more. Was Mary right? The thing what scared me most if we got together was Cole resenting me for not having a proper relationship. From the way he kissed me earlier, it didn’t seem like any of that bothered him. Was Mary just jealous, or was she right?
I waited a few minutes before I used the bathroom and went back downstairs. I wanted to give them time to leave so I wouldn’t have to pass them. Thankfully, they had left when I opened the door.
Cole smiled as I walked back in the kitchen, making my heart swell. In that moment, I decided not to let Mary get to me. If Cole didn’t want to be with me then he didn’t have to be. I walked straight up to him and wrapped my arms around his waist. Immediately feeling embarrassed, I pressed my forehead into his chest. Why did I do that in front of everyone? I probably looked like his stalker fangirl!
When I loosened my grip on Cole’s waist, he pulled away and grabbed my hand, leading me out of Ben’s house. We walked along the pavement in silence, he didn’t mention going to the park but we both knew that’s where we were going. Why though? He hadn’t even said goodbye. Were we going back later?
His face was blank, showing nothing at all. I followed him to the swings and it was lucky we knew the park as well as the streetlight was out and it was almost pitch black outside. I sat on the swing and Cole started pushing me, as he’d done a million times before.
“Oakley, can I ask you something?” he said after pushing me for a minute. He stopped the swing and kneeled down in front of me, resting his arms on my legs. His face was serious, no sign of the laidback and playful Cole I was used to. What was going through his head? I hated not knowing.
He took a deep breath, as if he was working up the courage first. “Why won’t you text me back?” Cole asked quickly. That wasn’t what I expected at all. I looked away from him, focusing the outline of a patch of mud in the wood chippings below me. That question wasn’t a new one, he had asked me that thousands of times before, but it was the way he asked it, with so much hope. He genuinely thought that I might tell him that time.
“Look, I’m sorry but I don’t get it. Why don’t you want to communicate with me? Please, is something really wrong? Because if there is I promise you that it’ll be okay. I’ll help you, you just have to tell me,” he pleaded.
I gulped and pressed my lips together to stop myself blurting it out. I wanted to tell him. I wanted to talk to him normally, but I didn’t want to hurt him or my family. I didn’t want anyone to know how used and dirty I was, especially not him.
“Oakley, you can tell me. You know that, don’t you?” I nodded once. Of course, I knew that, but it was what would happen after that scared me the most. Telling him the truth was not something I could take back. It would be out there forever. Smiling, I looked into his eyes, trying to convince him everything was all right.
“Are you scared to talk again?” Scared didn’t even begin cover it. I was absolutely terrified. Being mute was easier; no one could make me talk so no one could make me tell the truth.