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Yesterday night had been a long one. And now, millions of questions were racing through my head all at once. I didn’t even know what to do about all the thoughts in my mind. I needed answers and I needed them now.
I needed to know who this Ashton person really was. I needed to know if he was Ash. And if he wasn’t Ash, I needed to know how he knew Ash, because he most definitely did. I also needed to know where Michael was. If he was planning on coming back to find me. If he’d actually told Will about me sleeping with Cole. Where Will was.
Then, as if on cue, Addison called out to me from the living room, “Evalynne, get in here! Hurry, you’re on TV!”
Curiously, I headed into the living room to see just what she was talking about. And sure enough, when I got there, it was my face that was staring back at me. I saw the bruise, realizing for the first time just how bad it really was. I bit my lip, wanting to know how the hell this picture had gotten onto national television. That was the picture I had taken for the police, so they could put in their records as evidence against Will if they ever found him.
Before I knew it, a news reporter popped up on the screen and began speaking, “McKnight admits to causing the bruising on victim, Evalynne Mongolia’s face. After turning himself in to the Westchester Police Department, he was put on trial. Shockingly enough, he pled guilty. After being examined by a psychiatrist, he confesses to being abused by his twin brother, Michael, who is currently missing.”
A photo of Michael filled the screen and I felt my stomach twist into knots when I saw those menacing eyes of his. Just seeing his picture gave me a sense of déjà vu. “Dr. Craig Sullivan is McKnight’s current therapist, so let’s see what he has to say.” the reporter continued.
Next, the man who was apparently Will’s therapist appeared on the television screen and began talking. “I’ve only had one session with Will so far, but it’s already very clear to me that he has some major emotional baggage that hasn’t been dealt with yet. I’ve just recently diagnosed him with severe bipolar depression. He is now seeking medication and psychiatric help from myself.”
I felt tears brimming my eyes as I watched this news report. It was devastating for me to find this out about Will. I’d known way before he’d ever hit me that he had some serious issues. I’d even noticed the bipolar thing. But did I do anything about it? No. I was only concerned with my own issues. I had the chance to help Will, but I didn’t. And now he was probably going to be put in jail. My heart ached for him, and surprisingly, I found myself wanting him back. In fact, more than anything, I wanted him back.
“Thank you, Dr. Sullivan,” the reporter said, popping back up on the screen. “Along with the psychiatric treatment, McKnight will also be receiving one year of probation. However, due to his current mental disorder, he will not be sentenced to serve any time in jail.”
“Thanks Theresa,” an anchorman said, as the cameras focused on him. “In other news…”
I didn’t pay attention to the rest of what he was saying. I was much too lost in my own thoughts to pay him any mind. Will had severe bipolar depression. He had to seek psychiatric treatment. He was sentenced to one whole year of probation. And all because of me. I was the one who had turned him in. When I should’ve been helping him, I was turning him into the police. What was wrong with me?
“Evalynne,” Addison murmured, slowly approaching me and wrapping a comforting arm around my shoulder. “Is that the same Will that Cole was talking about yesterday? Is he the one that hit you?”
Sniffling, I nodded and let the tears flow freely. Not because I felt bad for myself though. Because I felt bad for Will, for what I’d done to him. I’d brought this all upon him. My own selfishness, my own ignorance was what had put him in the position he was in now. I could’ve helped him seek treatment a long time ago. I could’ve saved him from all of the pain he was probably going through right now. But I hadn’t.
And now it was too late.
“Oh, honey,” she said sadly, pulling me in closer to her. I didn’t want her sympathy though. I didn’t deserve her sympathy. I was an awful person. Will was the one who deserved the sympathy here, but instead everyone looked him like he was some kind of monster. “That boy might have mental issues, but that still gives him no right to hit women. He may not be able to control the thoughts he has, but he can sure as hell control his actions.”
Addison sounded truly angry, as if she hated Will for what he’d done. And it wasn’t fair for her to feel that way about him. All Will ever got from anyone was hate. He got it from Michael, from his parents, from Cole, from Addison…from me. The tears began to flow harder as my guilt level rose. I’d helped Michael succeed in what he’d wanted to do. I’d turned against Will, just like he wanted.
Silently, I pulled away from Addison’s embrace and wiped my eyes with the back of my sleeve. “I’m going to go take a shower.” I told her. I needed some time to myself. I needed some to think. To figure out how I could fix things between Will and I.
“Alright,” she replied with a sad smile.
I turned away from her and headed towards the small bathroom that we shared. A hot shower was just what I needed to calm me down and just let my mind wander for a little while. So I shut and locked the bathroom door and turned the water on.
I pulled my long, damp hair back into a loose ponytail wiped the steam off of the mirror with my hand. After letting myself relax with a hot shower, I’d come to the conclusion that all I had to do was go back to Will. That would make everything right again. It would make Will happy. It would make me happy. And it would make Michael realize that he didn’t have control over Will’s life. So I decided that in exactly one month, I would go find Will and repair things between us.
It wouldn’t be best for me to right away though, because he had just began with his psychiatric treatment. I didn’t want to rush him into anything. He needed some time to get better and I was willing to give that to him. But I couldn’t wait forever. After all, I was in love with Will. I just really hoped that Michael hadn’t told him that I’d slept with Cole.
Sighing, I padded into the living room, only to see Cole sitting at the kitchen table with Addison. “Um, what’s going on here?” I asked them curiously.
Both of their heads turned to look at me. Once Cole saw me, he immediately stood up and rushed over to me, wrapping me up in his strong arms. He kissed the top of my head and slowly pulled away, still keeping me at arms-length. “I can’t believe he turned himself in. That’s so great. I’ve been so paranoid that he would come back and find you. I can finally relax now. Although, I’m kind of pissed that they’re not even making him serve any time in jail. He deserves a life sentence there as far as I’m concerned.”
Anger washed over me and I instantly grew defensive. Cole couldn’t just come into my apartment and talk crap about Will like that. I wouldn’t allow it. So I pushed him away from me, glaring as I made my way past him and into the kitchen. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the shocked expression on Addison’s face. I didn’t care though. Let her be shocked. Let her think I was being harsh. I didn’t care.
I opened the refrigerator and grabbed a bottle of water out of it, but when I shut the door, Cole was standing there. The expression on his face was one of hurt confusion. “You aren’t still mad at me for yesterday, are you?” he asked me.
“No,” I replied. And I wasn’t. I was way over that by now.
“Then why are you acting like this?” he questioned. Ignoring his questioning, I tried to walk past him, but he grabbed my wrist before I could. A flash of déjà vu hit me and I immediately dropped the bottle of water. Using all of my strength, I pushed him and tore my wrist away from his grasp, trembling from head to toe. When I looked back at him, it was Will’s face that I saw. But after blinking a few times, it was Cole that was now standing over me.
Addison was right behind him, a look of terror on her face. They were both staring at me as if I was some wild animal. They were waiting to see what I would do next. They were wondering if I was the one with mental issues here.
“Evalynne,” Cole murmured. “I know he hurt you, but I’m not him, ok? I would never do anything to harm you. You’ve got to trust me.” He spoke slowly, as if I were unable to process information given to me at a normal speed. Then ever so carefully, he began to move towards me. I stood still, letting him approach me. I let him place his arm around my lower back and lead me over to the kitchen table. Then I sat down next to him and Addison.
“Here you go,” Addison said, handing me the water I’d dropped. I took it from her and set it down on the table in front of me.
“Are you ok now?” Cole asked me.
“I’m fine.” I remarked.
“You know, Will may not be in jail, but he’s on probation. He can’t hurt you anymore, Evalynne.” he said, trying to comfort me. “If it were up to me, I’d have that psychopath locked away for the rest of his life. But apparently they give depressed psychopaths special treatment.”
I gritted my teeth together in rage. He had no right to talk about Will that way. It made me sick to hear all of these awful words directed towards the boy I loved. “Don’t you ever call him that again.” I hissed through clenched teeth. “He’s a great person, and he doesn’t deserve to be talked about like this.”
“What?” Cole cried, completely taken aback. “Please tell me you’re kidding,”
“No Cole, I’m not kidding. So either shut the hell up or leave.” I snapped back. Addison looked so utterly confused and shocked at that moment. I felt sort of embarrassed because she obviously thought I was crazy. But I was only crazy in love.
“But he hit you, Evalynne. He tried to freakin strangle you! This guy is a monster! I don’t care if he has bipolar depression or not. He still has no excuse for hurting you! He’s not a good person. All you can do now is forget about him.”
“I can’t!” I shouted back at him.
“Well, why not?” he retorted.
“Because I love him,” I replied softly. I braced myself for Cole’s response, although I really didn’t want to stick around to witness it. I had a feeling there would be a lot of yelling involved. I glanced over at Addison, but she was no longer there. I hadn’t even noticed that she’d left us alone.
“You still love him?” Cole asked, sounding as if he truly and utterly couldn’t believe it.
“Yes,” I said.
He was silent for a moment as he processed this. I couldn’t help but feel at least a little bit bad. After all, I’d promised him that I was going to stay with him. I’d slept with him. And now I was leaving him.
“You know,” he began, his voice soft and hurt, “it seems like every time we break up, I just end up falling in love with you again. And the worst part is that every time I fall in love with you, I have to watch you fall in love with someone else. I just can’t do it anymore, Evalynne.”
He sucked in a deep breath as his eyes grew glassy with unshed tears. My stomach turned as the guilt crept up on me. My heart was aching for him. All I wanted to do was wrap him up in my arms, kiss him, tell him I was sorry. But I knew I couldn’t do that. I’d hurt him too much already.
“I’m sorry,” I muttered, making sure to keep my feelings contained.
He looked up at me with those sad eyes of his and I began to feel like a truly horrible person. “So many times, you’ve sat there and watched my heart shatter. And I can’t help but wonder…does it ever break your heart too? Even crack it a little bit?”
I pressed my lips against eachother and bit my tongue, trying to keep the tears from releasing themselves. But they found a way out nonetheless. “Of course it does, Cole,” I told him sincerely. “I never wanted to hurt you like this. I’m so sorry…but I think you’d better go now.”
He shook his head, the tears finally shedding. “I wish I could.” he said, sounding broken. “I wish I had the guts to just walk away from you, to forget about you, but I can’t because I know you won’t come after me. And that’s what hurts the most.”
I took every single ounce of willpower I had left, but I managed not to apologize. I managed to just sit there and watch him cry, watch him fall apart. “I’m not going to try and make things seem any better than they are, because in the end, that would just make things worse. The truth is that I’m in love with Will. I thought I was in love with you, but I was only filling up the empty space that Will left me with. We were never meant to be, Cole. You’re always the one I go to when I lose someone else and that’s not fair. You don’t deserve to be second-best. So go find someone else who will treat you the way you deserve to be treated. I promise that I won’t come back to you this time, because I don’t want to hurt you again. So please, just go.”
This finally seemed to get through to him, because after I was done talking, he slowly rose to his feet. Then he turned and began heading towards the door, but he stopped in his tracks once he got there.
“He doesn’t love you, Evalynne.” he stated without turning back around. “If you hadn’t escaped, he would’ve killed you. I would never do that to you though. I’d never lie to you like Ash did and I’d never, ever hurt you like Will did. I might only be second-best in your mind, but I think I was actually a pretty good boyfriend. I was the one who was always there waiting for you. Every time you broke apart, I was the one who put you back together again. Maybe that was all I ever was…the person for you to lean on when you were alone. I guess I knew that all along too. But I was ok with it, because I knew you’d just keep coming back to me. You might not have ever loved me, Evalynne, but you did depend on me. You knew that I was the only one that would be there for you, waiting with open arms, even after you hurt me. Because I love you more than Ash or Will ever could. And I’ll still be here waiting for you when you need me. I just hope you know that when Will starts hitting you again.”
And with that, he opened the door and walked out.