He pulls back his hand from mine, his eyes that
same sharp blue I knew too well, now glazed with
"Ian." I whisper, shaking my head and looking
cautiously into his eyes. "I thought you were
dead. I'm having a difficult time processing
all of this."
He falls silent, letting me take a moment to
take in a deep breath before continuing.
"As if the lord of irony is writing my life
story, I share a painful one night fling with a
man that was once my best friend...whom I was
told died twenty years ago. Then that fling
saves my life...and...and here I am with a
complicated knot-laced mess that I really don't
know what to do with. I don't know whether to
give you a metal of honor, tearfully hug you or
I pause, glancing over at his hands as they hold
gently around his coffee mug.
"Maybe you should do all three?" He replies,
his voice steady as his mouth turns up with a
hint of a smile.
I look back at him with a twist of exasperated
"I don't know why I didn't put it all together
sooner. You were always a hint of a charmer,
even at the ripe age of 12, Ian." I smile at
him, my face changing to a mix of sadness.
"I'll be honest though; I didn't know you were
even capable of being so cruel." My soft eyes
look into his and he nods.
"Braeden." He hesitates, choosing his words
carefully as he proceedes. "I'm a terrible
person." He says bluntly, his eyes holding no
reserve to his truth. I sip my coffee in
surprise, a piece of me enjoying his blunt
"People did think I was dead. I ran off and I
guess you can say I left some pretty convincing
evidence behind me to make sure that message was
loud and clear. I wanted out of that town,
Braeden, so I cut it clean and found ways to get
Listening to him, I couldn't help but reach for
his hand, my heart tugging at his struggles. He
smiles, looking at my hand resting lovingly upon
his. "Oh, so now you're going to hold my hand?"
He whisperes with a sarcastic hint. "Yes." I
answer clearly, ignoring his clever jab.
He nods, his presence like a block of ice that
simply will not melt.
"But like I was saying Braeden, I am a bad
person. I really can't even blame it on my dad.
I mean, he was cruel as hell, don't get me
wrong...but, I think I'm just him all over
He takes a drink and looks at the swirling steam
from his mug.
"Ian." I whisper with a slight sharp edge to my
voice. "You're not him...you're you...and you
were a person that made a huge impact on my
childhood. You've just taken a dark detour."
He smiles, taking another sip of his coffee and
folding his hands inside his lap before looking
up. "No Braeden. I wish it was as cut and dry
as a detour but, truth is..."
He looks intently at me, his eyes revealing a
vulnerability for the first time, coated in cold
"I have enmity in my heart. I've always had
hatred so thick...it's all that I am."