Having a baby on a ranch was a difficult task to handle. Cole was trying his best to take car of the animals, paid as many visits he possibly could to his clients, and overnight spent a few hours in the grocery’s back store working as a butcher. We were able to afford enough food for both the animals, and ourselves, but anything past necessities was beyond our budget.
Even through all the hardships, Brooklyn’s presence brought lots of joy. I spent hours at a time trying to teach her the basics in life, such as walking and talking.
She mostly spent her time outside though, playing with the animals, and getting herself dirty. “Brooklyn! I just changed your pants can you please stop rolling around in the mud!” The little three-year-old just laughed some more and continued by climbing into her toy box. Cole overhearing added his feedback, “Claire take it easy. She’s three, who cares if she gets a little dirty.”
“I care! Just look how dirty she is. Her jeans are covered in grass stains, her palms and cheeks streaked with mud, and her hair; her hair is just a tangled mess. Now she’s getting all her brand new toys dirty.”
“And what does that change?”
Claire sighed in exasperation and started stomping away back into the house, when she heard Cole shout out, “You should have seen the mess I was at that age!” Claire stopped in her tracks. It took her a few seconds to turn around and fully face Cole.
“Actually, how were you at that age?” she asked, suddenly serious.
“What do you mean?”
“I mean, how were you? Growing up? You’ve never told me about anything about your life growing up.”
“Funny, because neither did you.”
She had to admit, he had caught her. She was so focused on finding out more about him that she never considered how secret her own past life was.
“You know Cole, this town talks a lot about you.”
“Every town has its bad guys.”
“So are you telling me you’re the town’s most wanted?” Claire said jokingly, but Cole’s deadly stare made her stop laughing.
“I don’t want to talk about it.”
“So there is something then?”
Brooklyn broke then tension with her high-pitched voice, “Daddy is no bad guy!”
Claire sat silently on the wooden bench, watching as Brooklyn played with our newest dog, Wilson. She stared at them absent-mindedly, slowly gazing off into her own thoughts. Who knows how long she sat there, but the silence was suddenly broken off by Cole as he sat next to her. “Do you believe them?”
Startled, she answered, “What?”
“What people in this town say about me? You believe them don’t you?”
“If I believed them I wouldn’t be sitting here don’t you think? Cole I can’t understand why you don’t trust me.”
“Alright fine, you’re right. I have a pretty dark background, and because you deserve to know, I’ll tell you, but I can’t promise you’ll like the story.”
It was a long time ago, probably since the day I was born but I can only remember it around the age of 7. I can still see it now, the way my dad use to beat my mother. I had an older sister too, and she got the same beating as my mother, if not worse. At that age, there wasn’t much I can do but hide and cry. I didn’t go to school anymore, because the bruising and scars my dad were giving me were too obvious. I was ashamed and embarrassed to show myself.
As I got older, things got worse. My dad manipulated me into doing what he wanted. I watched as my mother and sister were beaten, burnt, and whipped. Yet I just stood in the corner. I was stealing for food, stealing for money, and soon was stealing for weapons. It’s when I was thirteen, my sister being sixteen that things started to change. Maybe it had been going on for years, or maybe I was just older and I can finally understand what was going on. Every night, sometimes even twice a day, my father would force her into bed, making her do things unwillingly. I can still hear the sounds ringing in the back of my head.
A year later, my mother tried to escape. She tried so hard to save money, but my father controlled everything. Finally when she had enough she attempted leaving with my sister. Too terrified, I firmly decided to stay behind. At the time, I was happy to be on my father’s side. I thought it was the right thing to do. The safest. My mom didn’t make it very far. My dad found her at a run-down motel and he dragged her all the way back home. That night he beat her so hard, she didn’t come out of it alive.
That’s when it clicked in my mind. I was only fifteen, and finally I realized that things had to change. With my mother gone, my sister and I no longer had any protection. That’s when I began working out. I trained, day and night to become bigger, stronger, faster.
Anger rising in me, I wanted to beat him to death. To make him feel what we had all felt our whole lives. But then I thought better of myself. Beating him would only bring me down to his standards and I didn’t want to be like him. Instead, I trained hard for another year, and still did what he told me to do.
With all the years of stealing, I had gathered quiet a few guns, and one night I crept into my dad’s cabinet and pulled out a Glock 22. I kept it on me at all times, and slept over it at night. One night, I could hear my sister’s screams as my father forcefully mounted her. I tried blocking out the noise, blocking out the tears and the pain; but I could no longer take it. I was only sixteen at the time, and with a firm hand, I pulled the trigger, the bullet directly hitting threw my father’s thick chest.
The rest of my teenage years are a complete mess. I went to juvenile prison for two years, and after being in a penitentiary for three years, I was finally released on good behavior Even if my father was gone, I knew no other way of living. I stole for money and food, and slept outside in the cold streets. The streets are a dark place, a place where I had to beat people just in order to stay alive. But then I came to Appaloosa Plains, where finally my life became normal. I was hired on this ranch when I was only nineteen. The former owner, Mr. Tyree said he’d hired me for my size. When he passed away, he left me with this ranch. I’ve been living this life for years now, keeping away from trouble.
Wiping away her tears, Claire cuddled against Cole’s chest. After a long moment of silence, she asked, “Did you ever see your sister again?”
“Never looked for her,” he answered, shaking his head. “I knew if I’d find her I’d get myself back into old habits. I had to stay away from everything of my past life.”
“Your turn now.”
“Compared to your past, I have nothing half as bad. I come from a rich family, where my parents were never home and I was passed down from one nanny to another. As a child, it didn’t really bother me, but as I got older, I saw how manipulated my whole life was. They decided who I befriended, where I ate, where I attended school. They planned which field I was going to study in, and even planned who I was going to marry. One day I packed my bags, told them I was attending University and just left and never looked back.”
“ They’ve never looked for you ever since?”
“Not once,” Claire lied, the image of those emails appearing in her mind.
– I know this chapter was mostly about Cole’s past, but I thought it was about time I told you more about him and his background. Even though it’s short, it took me a while to play out because of having to recreate the past people and scenes. I hope you guys enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed writing it!
– Within my busy schedule I’m trying to get a chapter out at least once every week and a half, sometimes more or less!
– Thanks for reading and commenting, I appreciate all your feedback! 🙂