Warning…. You may need these for this chapter. I’m so sorry…..
Cole’s phone rang early the next morning. He turned over groaning loudly as he grabbed it off his bedside table. It was Noah. Shit, he forgot he left him with no way home last night. All he had wanted to do was get out of there. He figured Noah wanted to know what happened.
“What?” he said groggily.
“Get your ass outta bed. I’ll be at your door in three minutes with coffee. Figure you probably could use some.”
“Fuck you, Noah!”
Noah roared with laughter and disconnected the call.
Truth was he could use some coffee – water too and maybe an aspirin – not necessarily in that order. He did drink a bit too much last night, but not so much he didn’t know exactly what he was doing. He hated himself for it.
He put his feet on the floor and held his head while the events of the night before flooded his consciousness. He remembered every single kiss and touch they shared. He especially remembered the way Dannie responded to him. They couldn’t get enough of each other. Still, he felt horrible. It was wrong and it should have never happened. But somehow, they were powerless to stop it.
He saw Duke sitting there looking at him like he understood his pain. “Hey old boy,” he said to his dog, “I really messed up didn’t I? You think Dannie’s okay? Probably not, huh? At least she can go back to her husband. I just hope I didn’t destroy our friendship, or god forbid, her marriage.”
Cole climbed out of bed and grabbed a glass of water. While he was brushing his teeth, he heard Duke barking. Poor old dog sounded pitiful. He might need to up his pain meds. “Okay old boy, I got it,” he called out, “It’s just Noah bringing bribes for info.”
Cole let his friend in. Noah laughed at him again. “Damn Cole, you look like shit! Sit down and get some coffee in your ass.”
Cole readily sat down and took the cup and drank it down. He moaned, it tasted so good. He saw the paper sack and greedily snatched the pastry out of it. He was starved. He hadn’t eaten anything since lunch yesterday. No wonder the alcohol went to his head so fast.
“Hey, slow down, I don’t want to clean up any puke,” warned Noah.
“It’s not really that bad, I’m just hungry,” said Cole honestly, finally feeling almost back to normal, except for the nagging guilt.
“So….” said Noah with an eyebrow cocked, “you and Dannie left the bar together. And she was hanging on to you for dear life.”
“I took her to her room. She was a little drunk and I didn’t want her to go by herself.” Truth -ish, thought Cole.
“And…..?” prompted Noah, and waited for him to continue.
“And nothing,” said Cole fully aware Noah knew he was lying.
“Cole, I saw you leave dude. You were with her, in her room, well over an hour. Ya’ll talk that long?” countered Noah.
Cole sighed. Noah was nobody’s fool. “Fuck Noah. We both had a little too much to drink….and we were both sad and lonely. A lethal combination. If anyone asks, please tell them I was sick and went home – alone. I don’t want any rumors to get started. It could destroy her and Ryker’s marriage.”
Noah looked at Cole in disbelief, shaking his head. “So you and Dannie…. You really did? Holy shit man.”
“Look, we both agreed it would never happen again. Okay. I just hope I didn’t lose a friend over it. It was hard, at the reunion.” Noah laughed at the unintended innuendo. “Shutup Noah! You know what I meant,” Cole wasn’t in the mood for his wise cracks. “Laney, Nicky, Kolby, even fucking Mia is married. They all looked so happy, and there I am with your ugly ass.”
“Hey, I have it on good authority that my ass is damn fine,” said Noah, pretending to take offense before he got serious. “But, I was there with you. Two goddamn losers. But somehow, you actually managed to become a bigger loser than me. I never thought I would live to see that. Even I know – you don’t fuck married women Cole! I don’t care how fine they are.”
Cole sighed and put his head down. He knew Noah was right. He couldn’t even look at him.
In the silence that followed, he heard Duke whining and looked over at him. He was slowly limping towards him, so Cole got up to get go some pain meds for him. But before he could, Duke collapsed at his feet, softly whining and panting.
Cole immediately sat down on the floor next him. “Shit, no…no, no, no….. ” he said under his breath as tears began to cloud his vision. He began to gently pet his best friend in an effort to comfort him. “It’s okay Duke, just hang in there boy,” he said softly.
Noah jumped up to see what was going on and looked down at Cole and Duke. “Is he okay?” he asked gently.
Cole shook his head. “No. Oh God Noah, I need to take him to the clinic. Can you sit with him while I go throw some clothes on . . . and maybe call my parents. Let them know. . .” he had to get control of himself before he could continue. “I think this is it Noah.”
Cole’s parents and his sister, arrived at the clinic only 10 minutes after Cole and Noah.
“He’s in there with him now,” said Noah softly, “he was waiting on you before….”
“Oh Cole….” said Sofia, as tears began to flood her eyes. Ben immediately put his arm around his wife and they went to comfort their son.
Ami started to follow, but Noah gently grabbed her arm and stopped her. “Hey, Ami, it’s better if you don’t go in and watch,” he said softly, “Cole needs his parents right now. Why don’t you stay out here with me, okay?”
“But…” she said and her face crumpled.
Noah quickly opened his arms and pulled her close to him. “I know sweetheart, it’s hard,” he said trying to calm her while she cried.
When Ami calmed a bit, Noah led her to the couch. They sat down and he pulled her next to him and put his arm around her. He figured Ben would know he wasn’t trying to make any moves on his little girl, just comfort her. His heart went out to her.
As he held her and talked softly to her, he thought about Cole’s family. He wasn’t surprised at how they came together for each other. It made him a little sad that he didn’t have anyone that gave a rat’s ass about him. These were the times that he missed having a someone in his life. But he knew, if anything happened to him, the Murdock’s would all be there for him. Every damn one of them. Of that, he had no doubt, and it helped – if only a little – or maybe a lot.
Finally, Cole and his parents came out, all of them a wreck. Noah felt for them all. He never had a pet, but he had known Duke practically his whole life, and it was sad to lose him. But not near as sad as seeing what it was doing to his friend. He knew Cole had taken the breakup with Yasmine hard and was making terrible decisions. This just added to his pain. He decided to talk to Avery. Maybe they could have a get together like before. Something to take Cole’s mind off his troubles for awhile. Keep him from wallowing in it all.
Cole walked over to them. “We are going to cremate him,” he said, his voice thick with emotion. “I put him in the vault until we can do it. Then I will bury him at the house.”
When Ami heard Cole say that, she cried more and fell back into Noah’s embrace. He rocked her in his arms. “Shhh Ami. It’s gonna be okay,” he whispered to her.
“It’s okay Ami,” said Cole, silent tears running down his face. “He’s been in pain for awhile. He’s at peace now.”
“Cole!” choked out Ami, She pulled away from Noah so she could go to her brother. They hugged until they both had their emotions back under control.
“Come on,” said Cole, and let out an exhausted breath. “There’s nothing more to do here.” Then he turned to Noah, “Noah, thanks man for helping me. But I really need to get home.”
“Sofia and I need to get back to C&M and finish up some things,” said Ben. “Noah, can you give Ami a ride?”
“Yes sir. Of course,” he said.
“Can I go to your house, Cole?” asked Ami tearfully, “Please? I can help with Duke’s things – and keep you company.”
“Fffuuck…” said Cole, obviously forgetting Duke had toys scattered throughout the house that needed to be cleaned up.
Noah smirked when Ben and Sofia actually laughed at Cole’s profanity through their grief. Ami’s eyes just got big. She was so innocent, and spoiled, but tried to act like she wasn’t. He figured it was because Ben had been, and still was, so overprotective of her.
“Let Ami help you son,” said Ben finally, “Let her be useful for a change.” Noah had to choke back a snort at his boss’s acknowledgement of how little she did around the office, at least according to Avery. Regardless, Ami really was a sweet young woman, and he had grown to like her.
“Fine,” said Cole, “Let’s go guys.”
Noah didn’t want Cole driving so he took charge. “I still have your keys,” he said to Cole, “I’ll drive us. Ami, I can take you home when I leave.”
He couldn’t replace what Cole had lost in these past few weeks, but he would be there for him as much as he could. Cole had been there for him his entire life and he was happy to be able to pay him back. Noah put his arm’s around Cole and Ami and ushered them out of the clinic, Ben and Sofia following closely behind.