“Cole?” I see her lips move, but I don’t hear her voice. Everything is just a blur, a haze fueled by hate.
“What are you doing out here? What’s wrong?” This time, her soft voice breaks through the blood whooshing past my ears.
I stare into her concerned emerald eyes before they drop to take in the state of me. I have no clue how I look right now, but after what happened over the past couple of hours, I’ve got a very good idea.
“Hadley?” My voice is deep and rough. It doesn’t sound like my own. I blink at her, trying to focus on where exactly I am and why she’s here.
This is my nightmare. Why is she in it?
Every muscle in my body pulls tight as the images of what I did only minutes ago flick through my mind like a movie.
“Cole, you’re scaring me.”
“Fuck,” I breathe, dragging my hand down my face and rubbing at my jaw.
It’s not until she gasps in horror that I realize my mistake.
It was easy to imagine that I wasn’t sporting the evidence from what I did. Easy to push it all aside like I do with everything that’s a part of my past.
But she’s staring right at the truth.
A truth I can’t taint her with.
She’s too innocent. Too pure.
“Cole...” Her voice trembles as her brows draw together in confusion. “What the hell did you do?”
Those images flick through my mind once more as if I’m back there and doing it all over again.
“Nothing. You need to leave.”
“I’m not leaving you here like that.”
“Hadley,” I warn, ensuring my voice is cold and menacing in a way that usually makes people run as fast as they can. Only, Hadley Rexford isn’t most people.
“Cole,” she warns back, placing her hands on her hips and taking a step toward me.
“You shouldn’t be here. You shouldn’t have seen me.”
“Yet, I am here, and I have seen you. So what are you going to do about it?” she sasses.
“I… uh…” My head spins. I can barely think to form words let alone know what I should be doing right now. Hiding in the bushes was as far as I got.
I need to go home. I need to get rid of these clothes and pretend nothing unusual happened tonight. I need to be in my bed so no one questions me when the truth comes out.
“Let’s go,” she states, wrapping her hand around my upper arm and attempting to drag me with her.
“What the fuck are you doing?”
“Taking you to get cleaned up.” She looks me up and down once more. “You can hardly go home covered in…” Hadley gulps. “Looking like that.”
“My dorm. No one will see us.”
Unable to do anything else, I allow her hand to slip into mine and fall into step beside her.
No words are said on the walk back to campus. I’m grateful; I don’t have anything to say. I just need darkness… nothingness. It’s the only place where I can find solace.
As we approach the dorm building, I expect her to walk straight through the main entrance like normal, but at the last minute she darts into the trees. I follow without question as we weave through the trunks before emerging at the back of the building.
She glances at me before we step out from the shadows. She must be able to see the question on my face because she smiles softly and answers it for me.
“The camera doesn't work back here. How do you think we all sneak in and out?”
I shrug, because I can’t say I’d ever thought about how any of the kids who live here sneak out. How the other half live has never really been a high priority of mine. Surviving this bullshit life has been top of my list.
With her fingers still laced through mine, she leads me to the back door and up a few flights of stairs I vaguely recognize from my previous visit.
“This is me,” she whispers, coming to a stop at her door.
She reaches into her purse to get her key as I look around, ensuring that we’re not being watched. There are plenty of kids at this school who would love to get hold of some dirt on me or my brothers.
Thankfully, no one else is in the hallway, so as far as I know we’re not spotted. But that doesn’t stop me darting into her room as fast as I can once she’s opened the door.
I look around at all her girly shit and smirk. I don’t know all that much about Hadley, but I’m as shocked as I was the first time I was here as I take in all her pink and glittery shit.
Her bed is littered with fluffy and sparkly pink cushions, and her shelves are covered in photo frames holding images of her and Remi, my brother’s girlfriend, over the past few years, along with other useless crap.
“Not your style?” she asks me once I’ve finished scoping out the place and turn back to her.
I shrug. I don’t need to tell her that I’m not a hearts and flowers kind of guy. I’m standing here covered in someone else’s blood, for fuck’s sake.
“A-are you okay? Are you hurt?” she asks hesitantly, looking over me.
It’s the first time I’ve even thought about myself as I consider my answer. I’m not in any physical pain—that motherfucker didn’t have a chance. But I’m pretty sure a part of me should be hurting right now. Well, I guess it would be if I had a heart like any normal person.
For the first time tonight, I glance down at myself. My hoodie might be dark, but there’s no mistaking the blood that’s covering it. I lift both my hands, holding them up in front of my face. The electric light makes the red staining them even more obvious.
I stare at them in a daze as I think about the person it belongs to.
Worthless piece of shit.
“Cole?” she prompts when I don’t offer her an answer. “Are you hurt?” she tries again, only slower this time, as if she’s talking to an idiot.
“No. This doesn’t belong to me.”
Her shoulders visibly relax for a beat, but it doesn't last long as she registers my words.
“Who does it belong to?”
“No one?” she echoes. Her brow creases the longer she stares at me, as if it’s going to make me spill my secrets.
“You said I could clean up?” I ask, reminding her that I followed her for a reason. It certainly wasn’t to check out her pink fucking cushions and unicorn teddy.
“Oh, um… yeah. Go on then.” She gestures to the door. “The towel is clean.”
Reaching behind my head, I pull my hoodie off in one move and let it fall to the floor. Her eyes immediately drop to my chest and darken with desire. Something stirs within me at her interest.
I remember all too well how soft her skin is, how needy she gets when she’s turned on. But tonight is not the night for that. Although I can’t deny that it would be the perfect distraction.
Closing the space between us, I lift my dirty fingers and brush my knuckles over her cheek. She tilts her head toward my touch.
Slowly, I shake my head at her. “You’re playing with fire,” I warn before turning away and marching toward her bathroom. I drop my pants and boxers before stepping into her shower.
The water blasts cold for a few seconds, but I barely feel it. I don’t feel anything right now. Not like I should.
It's just another reminder that I’m not like everyone else. That the darkness inside me taints everything, makes me see things differently, makes me act differently.
I glance at Hadley’s bubblegum scented shower gel and groan. The last thing I want right now is to smell like a chick, but with the blood still clinging to my hands, I reluctantly reach for it.
The second the scent hits me, my cock hardens as memories from that night assault me. She and Conner had been dancing, taunting me, and I’d been restless. Too fucking restless. It was just a bit of fun, but fuck if I couldn’t do with a replay. Maybe just the two of us this time though. I’m not really in the mood for sharing.
Ideas form in my head as I rub myself with pink bubbles, and by the time I wrap myself in an equally pink towel my intentions are fully set in place.
With water still clinging to my skin, I glance in the mirror to make sure there’s no evidence from my night still on my skin. Once I’m happy, I swipe up my clothes and pull the door open, stepping out with the billow of steam.
The sight of Hadley with my hoodie in her hands is like a bucket of ice water, making panic flood my chest. I throw my clothes on her bed and stalk toward her. “Put it down,” I bark, much more forcefully than I intended.
Her eyes widen, but she doesn't follow orders.
“I said... Put. It. Down.” I inch closer.
“I-I was going to take it to be washed.” She backs up as I get closer until she hits the wall with a thud.
“It needs burning, not fucking washing. Especially now it’s got your fucking DNA all over it.”
“W-what did you do tonight?”
“Nothing I have any intentions of telling you about.”
My arm is moving before my brain has registered. My fingers wrap around her throat, making her eyes go impossibly wide.
“Cole?” she asks, her voice cracking, which only feeds the monster inside me.
I live for people’s fear, for their pain. It’s the only thing that makes my life make any sense. Pain and fear, it’s all I’ve ever known. It’s who I am.
“I thought you wanted to help?” I ask, closing the space between us so that our noses are almost touching.
“Then shut the fuck up and do as you’re told.” My voice is low, menacing, and I don’t miss the shudder that runs through her at hearing it.
A smirk plays on my lips as I stare at her. Hadley likes to pretend that she’s strong and unbreakable, but I can see more. I see a chink in her armor, and if she doesn’t play along with me then I’m going to break it wide fucking open.
“O-okay. What do you need me to do?”
My grip tightens a little. Her pulse thunders beneath my fingers, ensuring that my cock continues to tent the towel covering it.
“Keep your fucking mouth shut. You never saw me tonight. You walked home alone and didn’t stop to talk to anyone.”
Her eyes narrow at me. “Is that the best way to handle this?”
The fact that she’s second-guessing me has a fucking tornado of fury swelling within me. “Are you fucking questioning me?”
She swallows as she tries to form her words “I-I just thought that it might be better if you were here all night.”
“You want to be my alibi? You’re willing to tell everyone, a jury, if it comes to it, that I spent the entire night with you?”
“I—” I cut off her words. I’ve already let her say too much. She’s not in control of this situation, I am.
“And what would you tell them we did?” I drop my lips to her ear. “Would you tell them that we spent all night in your bed?” She shudders when my breath tickles her sensitive skin. “Tell them that I made you come over and over?”
“Cole,” she warns.
“Tell them that I ate you like I was fucking starved for food, that I fucked you like a wild animal until you were raw and begging for reprieve?”
“Oh God,” she whimpers, making my cock weep and my fingers tighten.
“You imagining what it would be like? How I would feel, pushing inside your tight little cunt?”
Her body sags against my hold, my hard length pressing into her hip as my restraint starts to slip.
“How wet are you for me right now?”
She shakes her head as my fingers tickle up her thigh and under the fabric of her skirt. “No.”
“Don’t fucking lie to me.”
“Please what? Please touch you? Make you come? Make you my accomplice?”
My fingers find the apex of her thighs. Her panties are fucking soaked for me. “Fuck, Hadley.”
Her hips thrust toward me, trying to find some friction that she’s so desperate for.
I press harder against her and she whimpers in pleasure, her eyelids getting heavy as she stares at me.
“Are you going to do as you’re told?”
“Y-yes. Fuck. Please.”
Releasing her, I step back. “I don’t think so. Is this for me?” I ask, taking in the man’s shirt laying on her bed.
I don’t wait for her answer, I just swipe it up. I pause when I recognize it as one of Conner’s.
That motherfucker has been here?
I glance back at her, but aside from the movement of her heaving chest, she just swallows nervously. Dropping the towel from around my waist, I tug my clothes back on along with Conner’s shirt.
“Keep your fucking mouth shut, you got it?”
Picking up my hoodie, I shove my feet in my sneakers and wrench the door open, leaving her shell-shocked behind me.
Thankfully, I don’t see anyone on my way out as I retrace our steps, hoping that she’s right about the security camera.
I don’t stop until I get to the beach, where I embark on starting a bonfire, ready to burn the evidence that tonight ever happened.