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Two is a Lie

By:Pam Godwin
Two is a Lie - Pam Godwin



The early morning fog constricts me with ghost-like arms. The milky pall drapes over my backyard, swallowing the weak light of sunrise and contorting my sense of reality.

This moment, this entanglement of two distinct parts of my life, can’t be happening.

The vibrating silhouette of my past paces a few feet away, staring at me like an ethereal presence.

Cole. My first love. My greatest loss.

My second chance stands beside me, his expression as naked as his upper body, chilling in the cold mist.

Trace. He’s supposed to be my new beginning. My future.

Dark hair versus blond, brown eyes clashing with blue, Cole and Trace couldn’t look more different from each other. But the emotions coiling their postures and tightening their faces are the same. Pain, fear, desperation, and most of all, unbridled rancor. The anger between them is so potent it crackles the air.

I hug my waist tightly, shaking in my attempt to stifle the tears.

Cole’s alive.

Trace knew there was a chance he’d come back.

And they look like they’re seconds from killing each other.

My entire body is a heartbeat, pulsing heavily, painfully, flaring every cell and nerve ending. I think it’s my muscles twitching or maybe overworked blood vessels. I think I’m in shock.

They watch me as if waiting for me to do something. Send them away? Have a nervous breakdown? Stab them with a sharp object? Any of those things are possible. But first, I need to pull my shit together and demand some answers.

The questions pile up in my throat, some screaming louder than others. Why did Cole disappear for over four years? And why didn’t Trace tell me he knew Cole or that they were best friends? Why didn’t he tell me Cole might come back?

“I need you to put aside your animosity for each other and give me the truth.” I pace the driveway alongside my house, my breaths huffing in white clouds as I try to gather my thoughts. Circling back, I stop in front of Trace. “If you’ve been watching over me since Cole left, you knew how badly I—” My voice cracks, and I clear my throat. “You knew I was hurting. Why didn’t you tell me there was a chance he was alive?”

“There are a lot reasons why I couldn’t.” Trace wipes the blood from his lip where Cole punched him. “First and foremost, it would’ve endangered your life.”

“What does that even mean?” My mind jumps to CIA, special forces, or some secret organization within the government.

“It’s classified.” Cole inclines his head away from me, depriving me of eye contact and closing himself off. “The less you know, the safer you are.”

“The less I know…” I echo in a hollow voice. “Do you have any idea what it’s like to not know? When you stopped calling and emailing, it gutted me. Then a stranger showed up at my door and told me you died in an explosion.” My breaths quicken, chopping up my words. “The pain is indescribable, Cole. I wanted to die a thousand times over.” I angrily swipe at the moisture on my cheeks and turn to Trace. “And you didn’t tell me shit.”

“I had no concrete information.” Trace’s scowl deepens. “I was operating on assumptions and—”

“But you knew there was a chance, and that chance—”

“Could’ve brought you more pain.” He leans toward me, all rock-jawed and blazing eyes. “Let’s say I broke protocol and told you he could’ve been alive. It would’ve raised your hopes, and you would’ve waited and waited.” He straightens and squares his shoulders. “What if I was wrong? If he never showed up, what then? It would’ve made things so much harder for you. I couldn’t bear it.”

“Because you wanted her for yourself,” Cole seethes, launching toward Trace.

“Stop!” I dart forward, pulse racing.

Cole spins away and plunges his fingers in his hair.

“If you hit him again, we’re done.” I press a hand against my throat, fighting for every painful breath. “Understand?”

With his back to me, Cole tenses. Then he drops his head and nods.

“He’s right,” Trace says, low and scratchy. “When I watched over you the first year he left, I became enamored. Obsessed. I wanted you, irrationally and hopelessly. Then I watched you mourn him for the next two years, and I still wanted you. But I had no intentions of pursuing you. You know this, Danni, given the lengths I went to push you away.”

“You wouldn’t have had to push her away,” Cole roars, “if you hadn’t made contact in the first fucking place!”

The thunder of his voice is loud enough to rattle my bones and bring all my neighbors outside.