Holder is kissing me on the side of my head, telling me again how it’ll be okay, that I shouldn’t worry. But he has no idea. He has no idea how much I remember and what it’s doing to my heart and my soul and my mind and to my faith in humanity as a whole.

To know that those things were done to me at the hands of the only adult I had in my life—it’s no wonder I’ve blocked everything out. I hold barely any memories of the day I was taken by Karen, and now I know why. It didn’t feel like I was in the middle of a calamitous event the moment she stole me away from my life. To a little girl who was terrified of her life, I’m sure it felt more like Karen was rescuing me.

I lift my gaze to Holder’s and he’s looking down at me. He’s hurting for me; I can see it in his eyes. He wipes away my tears with his finger and kisses me softly on the lips. “I’m sorry. I should have never let you go inside.”

He’s blaming himself again. He always feels like he’s done something terrible, when I feel like he’s been nothing short of my hero. He’s been with me through all of this, steadily carrying me through my panic attacks and freak-outs until I’m calm. He’s done nothing but be there for me, yet he still feels like this is somehow his fault.

“Holder, you didn’t do anything wrong. Stop apologizing,” I say through my tears. He shakes his head and tucks a loose strand of hair behind my ear.

“I shouldn’t have taken you there. It’s too much for you to deal with after just finding everything out.”

I lift up on my elbow and look at him. “It wasn’t just being there that was too much. It was what I remembered that was too much. You have no control over the things my father did to me. Stop placing blame on yourself for everything bad that happens to the people around you.”

He slides his hand up and through my hair with a worried look on his face. “What are you talking about? What things did he do to you?” The words are so hesitant to come out of his mouth because he more than likely knows. I think we’ve both known what happened to me as a child—we’ve just been in denial.

I drop my arm and rest my head on his chest and don’t answer him. My tears come back full force and he wraps one arm tightly around my back and grips the back of my head with his other. He presses his cheek to the top of my head. “No, baby,” he whispers. “No,” he says again, not wanting to believe what I’m not even saying. I grab fistfuls of his shirt and just cry while he holds me with such conviction that it makes me love him for hating my father just as much as I do.

He kisses the top of my head and continues to hold me. He doesn’t tell me he’s sorry or ask how he can fix it because we both know we’re at a loss. Neither of us knows what to do next. All I know at this point is that I have nowhere to go. I can’t go back to the father who has rightful custody over me. I can’t go back to the woman who wrongfully took me. And with light shed on my past it turns out I’m still underage, so I can’t even rely on myself. Holder is the only thing about my life that hasn’t left me completely hopeless.

And even though I feel protected wrapped up in his arms, the images and memories won’t escape my head and no matter what I do or how hard I try, I can’t stop crying. He’s quietly holding me and I can’t stop thinking about the fact that I need it to stop. I need Holder to take all of these emotions and feelings away for a little while because I can’t take it. I don’t like remembering what happened all those nights my father came into my room. I hate him. With every ounce of my being, I hate that man for stealing that first away from me.

I lift up and scoot my face closer to Holder, leaning over him. He places his hand on the side of my head and his eyes search mine, wanting to know if I’m okay.

I’m not.

I slide my body on top of his and kiss him, wanting him to take away the feelings. I’d rather feel nothing at all than the hatred and sadness consuming me right now. I grab Holder’s shirt and try to lift it over his head, but he pushes me off of him and onto my back. He lifts up on his arm and looks down at me.

“What are you doing?” he asks.

I slide my hand behind his neck and pull his face to mine, pressing my lips back to his. If I just kiss him enough, he’ll relent and kiss me back. Then it’ll all go away.

He places his hand on my cheek and kisses me back momentarily. I let go of his head and start to pull off my shirt, but he pulls my hands away and brings my shirt back down. “Stop it. Why are you doing this?”

His eyes are full of confusion and concern. I can’t answer his question about why I’m doing this, because I’m not even sure. I know I just want the feeling to go away, but it’s more than that. It’s so much more than that, because I know if he doesn’t take away what that man did to me right now, I feel like I’ll never be able to laugh or smile or breathe again.

I just need Holder to take it away.

I inhale a deep breath and look him directly in the eyes. “Have sex with me.”

His expression is unyielding and he’s staring at me hard now. He pushes up from the bed and stands up, then paces the floor. He runs his hands through his hair nervously and walks back toward the bed, standing at the edge of it.

“Sky, I can’t do this. I don’t know why you’re even asking for this right now.”

I sit up in the bed, suddenly scared that he won’t go through with it. I scoot to the edge of the bed where he’s standing and I sit up on my knees, grasping his shirt. “Please,” I beg. “Please, Holder. I need this.”

He pulls my hands from his shirt and takes two steps back. He shakes his head, still completely confused. “I’m not doing this, Sky. We’re not doing this. You’re in shock or something…I don’t know. I don’t even know what to say right now.”

I sink back down onto the bed in defeat. The tears start flowing again and I look up at him in complete desperation.

“Please.” I drop my gaze to my hands and fold them together in my lap, unable to look him in the eyes when I speak. “Holder…he’s the only one that’s ever done that to me.” I slowly raise my eyes back up to meet his. “I need you to take that away from him. Please.”

If words could break souls, my words just broke his in two. His face drops and tears fill his eyes. I know what I’m asking him to do and I hate that I’m asking him for this, but I need it. I need to do whatever I can to minimize the pain and the hatred in me. “Please, Holder.”

He doesn’t want our first time to be this way. I wish it wasn’t, but sometimes factors other than love make these decisions for you. Factors like hate. Sometimes in order to get rid of the hate, you become desperate. He knows hate and he knows pain and right now he knows how much I need this, whether he agrees with it or not.

He walks back to the bed and sinks to his knees on the floor in front of me, bringing himself to my eye level. He grabs my waist and scoots me to the edge of the bed, then slides his hands behind my knees and wraps my legs around him. He pulls my shirt over my head, never once looking away from my eyes. When my shirt is off, he pulls his own shirt off. He wraps his arms around me and stands up, picking me up with him and walking to the side of the bed. He lays me down gently and lowers himself on top of me, then places his palms against the mattress on either side of my head, looking down at me with uncertainty. His finger brushes a tear away that’s sliding down my temple. “Okay,” he says assuredly, despite his contrasting eyes.

He lifts up onto his knees and reaches to his wallet on the nightstand. He takes a condom out, then removes his pants, never once taking his eyes off mine. He’s watching me like he’s waiting for any signs that I’ve changed my mind. Or maybe he’s watching me like he is because he’s afraid I’m about to have another panic attack. I’m not even sure that I won’t, but I have to do this. I can’t let my father own this part of me for one more second.

Holder’s fingers grasp the button on my jeans and he unbuttons them, then slides them off of me. I shift my gaze to the ceiling, feeling myself slip further and further away with every step closer he gets.

I wonder if I’m ruined. I wonder if I’ll ever be able to find pleasure in being with him in this way.

He doesn’t ask if I’m sure this is what I want. He knows I’m sure, so the question remains unspoken. He lowers his lips to mine and kisses me while he removes my bra and underwear. I’m glad he’s kissing me, because it gives me an excuse to close my eyes. I don’t like the way he’s looking at me…like he wishes he were anywhere else right now than here with me. I keep my eyes closed when his lips separate from mine in order for him to put on the condom. When he’s back on top of me, I pull him against me, wanting him to do this before he changes his mind.

“Sky.”

I open my eyes and see doubt in his expression, so I shake my head. “No, don’t think about it. Just do it, Holder.”

He closes his eyes and buries his head in my neck, unable to look at me. “I just don’t know how to deal with all of this, baby. I don’t know if this is wrong or if it’s what you really need. I’m scared if I do this, I’ll make it even harder for you.”

His words cut to my heart, because I know exactly what he means. I don’t know if this is what I need. I don’t know if it’ll ruin things between us. But right now I’m so desperate to take this one thing away from my father—I’d risk it all. My arms that are wrapped tightly around him begin to shake, and I cry. He keeps his head buried in my neck and cradles my face in his hand, but as soon as he hears my tears, I can feel him attempting to hold back his own. The fact that this is causing him just as much distress lets me know that he understands. I tuck my head into his neck and lift myself against him, silently pleading with him to just do what I’m asking.

He does. He positions himself against me, kisses me on the side of the head, then slowly enters me.

I don’t make a sound, despite the pain.

I don’t even breathe, despite my need for air.

I don’t even think about what’s going on between us right now, because I’m not thinking at all. I’m picturing the stars on my ceiling and I’m wondering if I just tear the damn things off the ceiling if I’ll never have to count them again.

I’m successfully able to keep myself separated from what he’s doing until he abruptly stills himself on top of me, his head still buried tightly against my neck. He’s breathing heavily and, after a moment, he sighs and separates himself from me completely. He looks down at me and closes his eyes, then rolls away from me, sitting up on the edge of the bed with his back to me.

“I can’t do it,” he says. “It feels wrong, Sky. It feels wrong because you feel so good but I’m regretting every single fucking second of it.” He stands up and pulls his pants on, then grabs his shirt and the room key from the dresser. He never looks back at me as he exits the hotel room without another word.


Tags: Colleen Hoover Hopeless Romance
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