A Brighter Star Will Shine

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Chapter 6

Charlotte was lying in bed and sighed when her clock radio alarm beeped. She hated Monday mornings but was actually looking forward to going to work today so that she could have more chance encounters with Alex, though she would as promised try to keep her emotions in check, it was going to be hard but she would definitely try.

Charlotte went to make her first brew of the day and who was in the coffee room? Yes Alex of course and despite the promise Charlotte’s heart gave a flutter when she saw him and said “morning”, taking the cue Alex simply replied with “morning” but then Charlotte had to be honest with him and asked “how long can we keep this up do you think?”

“Me I do not want to and if anyone asks why we are so happy on a Monday morning. I am going to be straight and tell them that I have found the most beautiful and caring woman in the world and that she gave me the most sensational of love making ever. However, I will not say that I will just tell them the beautiful and caring woman bit and let them make up whatever they want of that. If asked I am not going to beat around the bush because I want the whole world to know that my very special lady, made me a very special and lucky man Saturday night”.

Charlotte was a little surprised by what Alex had said but she was complimented and she certainly was not going to boast about what they had done together. It was their private business but Charlotte knew that men often could not keep in their achievements and she accepted that. She did not have to be in agreement with it but it would be fine as boys will be boys.

Charlotte walked into the office. She was early but still the last in and the girls she worked with immediately were intrigued why Charlotte had a huge big smile on her face and being Monday morning too.

It was Louise, one of her colleagues and best friend who asked the question which they were all thinking. “What happened the weekend? Someone had a good time I see”.

“You could say that”, replied Charlotte trying to give little away.

“It is obvious something nice happened to you so are you going to tell?”

“If you must know Alex and myself had a romantic Saturday evening together”.

“So how was he?”

Charlotte was not prepared for that question and wanted to remain on her stand of not boasting about her love making to Alex but she had to answer and she did this in a one word answer “amazing”.

“You will have to tell me more over lunch” suggested Louise “you can then tell me all about it”, which was something that Charlotte would not want to do but the decision had already been made.

“How are you going to not have that loving look in your eyes when you see him in the office? Tea breaks are going to be interesting and to think your eyes first met over the photocopier”.

Charlotte knew that Louise was teasing her now but meant no harm so Charlotte replied, “we are going to try hard to control ourselves. I promise not to rip his clothes off in the first aid room and treat him in other ways”.

Louise and Charlotte both blushed at this comment and sat down at their desks and powered on their computers, ready for work. Charlotte opened her emails and already had something from Alex, which she read and giggled quietly to herself as it was the sweetest thing she had ever read and this was their secret what had been said so no she was not going to tell all. Alex was definitely a keeper and she felt she deserved some good luck in her love life after Jamie and Paul. Following her email from Alex she knew it was going to be hard to concentrate on her work.

Later in the morning Charlotte went to get another cup of tea and stood in the break room waiting her turn for the tap when someone else entered, she would not normally be bothered to look round but inside she was secretly hoping it was Alex but it was not. It was not long before her dreams came true and Alex entered the room. Charlotte had to concentrate on not spilling the milk she was pouring as she sensed someone behind her and knew that smell; Alex had a nice distinctive smell due to the aftershave he used.

“Morning again Charlotte” greeted Alex when she had finished making her tea.

“Morning again Alex, we really must stop meeting like this, people will talk you know?”

Alex replied with “who cares” before whispering to Charlotte “love you” which of course made Charlotte giggle before she said “we are trying to play it cool”.

“I am playing it cool. I cannot help wanting to tell the girl I love that I love her and I do not know how long I can keep what we shared a secret but I will out of respect for my darling baby”.

Charlotte put her finger to his lips and said, “ssh, no more of that talk for now ok?”

Alex agreed and said, “see you around” before leaving the break room with his mug of coffee.

Charlotte waited until the door had closed, before she turned round and stood against the work surface of the break room and stared dreamily into space. She was besotted with Alex, she had felt like this for Jamie once upon a time ago but the feelings for Alex felt even more magical.

Charlotte returned to her desk. The other girls saw her expression and did not need to ask if she had seen Alex, as it was clear from that expression as she had.

“You said you want to play it cool round the office with Alex and I am not criticising but do you think that can happen?” commented Louise.

Charlotte was taken back by what Louise had just said to her and said so “if you want the truth I do not know if I can play it cool with Alex. I just want to stand on a rooftop and shout out I love Alex Burton and if that offends anyone then I am sorry but I cannot hide my feelings for him”.

“He really has got under your skin and do not worry you do not have anything to worry about I am only teasing you but he is certainly a good looking guy and I know a few girls around here are jealous when they see you with him and would like a chance. It sounds like he treats you as a princess so keep hold of him and also do not worry about speaking to him. You are bound to bump into him in seven hours here so be friendly to him and do whatever you have to after work”.

Charlotte smiled and said, “thank you and Alex will appreciate what you have said”.

Charlotte unlocked her machine and amongst the couple of emails that she had received was another email from Alex this time asking whether she would like to go to lunch with him, so of course she replied straight back and said ‘yes, she would like that very much’.

Alex had received Charlotte’s last email and had just confirmed a time with her when his line manager, Tony asked to see him in one of the meeting rooms. Alex knew this was not going to be a friendly chat, as his managers face looked very upset about something and Alex was not sure what he had done but he was about to find out.

“Take a seat please Alex”, said Tony, to which Alex did in silence. He feared he was about to be told off for something, which was especially scary for him as he was on probation so could be dismissed at any moment.

“I hate to arrange chats like this but I do need to talk to you Alex and it is best you let me say what I have to and then let you can answer at the end, do you understand?”

“Yes” was all that Alex could say to what his line manager had just told him.

“You are a very hard working young man. You are bright, willing to learn, fast to learn and a very pleasant young man so I commend you for that but it has come to my attention that you are showing too much affection for Miss Adams whilst in the office environment. Whilst I understand that office romances are going to happen I have had complaints that you have been too friendly with Miss Adams”.

“Are you sacking me?” replied Alex angrily “are you sacking me for wanting a love life?”

Alex’s line manager reassured him by saying “No Alex I am not going to be sacking you but just warning you. I congratulate the pair of you for getting together and looking so happy together but I just warn you that there are people here who do not feel the same about the relationship”.

“Jealousy. Pure jealousy. It would be pointless for me to ask who is objecting but I will find out myself. What Charlotte and I do is our business and I am not having someone poking their nose into our relationship”.

“I totally understand. Now you go off and make yourself a tea or coffee and relax and forget this conversation”.

Forget the conversation! Alex would never forget the conversation and he would find out who had objected to his relationship with Charlotte.

“One last question and that is if I meet Charlotte around, as I will do, do I ignore her and pretend I do not know her?”

“No that would be silly and by all means speak to Charlotte, do not ignore her and carry on as good friends in the office by just trying to curb any words like saying ‘I love you’ in the office and you will be fine and I do know as well that you have been emailing each other, which is of course against company policy but as long as you do not go too far then you have my permission to contact her. Now off you go”.

“Well that was weird”, thought Alex. He really did not know who would have objected to his flirting with Charlotte and vice versa but he would find out who mentioned it.

Alex returned back to his desk and wanted to be quiet on the matter but one of his colleagues, Max said, “what was that all about?”

“I got told off for being too friendly with Charlotte”.

“What?” Max was genuinely shocked “but why was that raised?”

“Simply because someone told on me about showing too much affection to her in the office. The thing which annoys me the most is I wish I knew who would stoop that low”.

Max took the message to leave the subject alone and Alex typed an email to Charlotte simply saying ‘I have been warned about showing our affections in the office and all because someone told my manager about us and how we have been seen together, supposedly too much’.

Charlotte was naturally annoyed when she read Alex’s email and not wanting to cause any trouble she went to talk to Alex’s manager.

Alex’s manager was surprised to see her but of course knew what she had come to see him for.

“Who said it?”

“I am sorry that I had to speak to Alex but when someone makes a complaint about one of my staff then I need to speak to them”.

Charlotte was getting herself into a state, she cared too much for Alex to let this slip by but she also knew that she needed to not saying too much out of turn or else she could be dismissed by her manager but had to say something about the situation.

“I am sorry that someone is so jealous that Alex and myself feel like soul mates. I never intended to fall for the ‘new office boy’ when he started but fate has a funny way of sorting that all by its self and yes I admit that we get on well and enjoy the thrill of sharing what each other dreams of. I am sorry if our emotions in the office has upset someone and we made a promise to play it cool at work but no-one is ever going to tear us apart and we are going to find out who has objected to us”.

“Thank you Miss Adams and I can reassure you I only mentioned it to Alex because he is a good worker and I do not want to lose him. I think it is rather sweet that you are both head over heels for each other and I have no objections but promise me that you both will do what you promised to each other to just cool things a little in the office”.

Charlotte agreed before saying “no one can stop us bumping into each other in work time. A lot of the typing work I do is Alex’s side of the law work so I am going to have to speak to him about that but I agree we will keep things a bit cooler”. Charlotte said goodbye and returned to her work.

Charlotte had calmed down about the situation she was in with Alex but she knew that she was going to find it very hard to concentrate. She had Alex in her mind the best of times, but the situation that had occurred would make sure he stayed in her mind. Charlotte would calm down over what had been said regarding her relationship with Alex, but she would never forget how she was questioned about her love for him. They were both consenting adults and wanting the world to know how proud of him she was, was not a crime.

Charlotte received another email from Alex, which made her smile again. He only had to say a few words but it meant so much to her. He was asking her to go to lunch with him, she agreed and after the morning, which they had both had they needed to take their minds off things.

It was soon midday and time for Charlotte’s lunch with Alex. They had agreed to meet in the car park so as not to arouse too much more gossip.

When they were seated in the local café Alex heaved a sigh of relief before saying, “well that has been an interesting morning”, to which Charlotte agreed it certainly had.

“There is no one going to stand in my way of loving you and if whoever reported us is that jealous then they obviously do not have a life if they need to interfere with ours”.

Charlotte was going to agree but Alex naughtily leaned forward and gave her a tingling kiss. It was a naughty show of affection in public but both Charlotte and Alex were too wrapped up in each other to care.

“I know it is only the end of October and so a bit soon to ask this but have you any plans for Christmas?”

Charlotte did not expect that question but knew that planning ahead meant that Alex definitely wanted to share lots of magical moments with her.

“I do not know yet. I have not thought about Christmas but probably will end up with some relatives somewhere, why do you ask?”

Alex smiled and said, “because I would like us to do something together if you were agreeable with that”.

Charlotte could not think of a better way to spend her Christmas than with Alex so immediately without much pondering said, “yes I would love that”.

“I will have a look on the Internet and see what we could do” said Alex.

Charlotte did not answer but did smile before they both finished their lunch before Alex looked at his watch and said “I guess we should get back it is five to one”.

Reluctantly they both arose and put their coats on. Once they were out of the café they linked hands to walk back to work but before this Alex asked if he could have a kiss for the road, which they did and to this Charlotte joked, “you are making me a naughty girl”.

Charlotte returned to her desk, and as always her face gave her happiness away and Louise as always commented “spent lunch with Alex have we?”

Charlotte was a bit offended by the tone in Louise’s voice and though she had said nothing wrong, it was definitely the tone in her voice.

“Yes we did and why are you making out you are interested but your tone says otherwise. Are you mocking me and Alex?”

There was silence before Charlotte went to her line manager to ask if she could talk to Louise quietly. They should both have been getting on with their work but her line manager sensed a tension between Charlotte and Louise and replied with “be quick”.

Charlotte and Louise were in one of the smaller meeting rooms on their floor and at first they just stared at each other but then Charlotte spoke “I like you as a friend Louise but do you have a problem with my relationship with Alex?”

“No”, replied Louise but Charlotte could easily interpret what people said and answered her back “you do have a problem with us?”

“Why should I have a problem?”

“I do not know but I know you are mocking me so why are you jealous? Are you hankering after Alex? Or can you just not bear to see me happy?”

“Me? jealous of you. Get a life I do not care what you and Alex are doing together but I wish you would leave your affections out of the office”.

“It was you that complained about me and Alex being too friendly together, am I right?”

“Okay you have me, yes I did say something but only because it is unprofessional to be displaying your love for each other so freely. I would not be surprised if one day you find somewhere quiet and do it here in working hours”.

“If I was not in the office I would be laying into you now for that comment but much as I would fight for Alex I will not lose my job over him. I do not understand why you are so upset that Alex and I being an item”.

“There are things, Charlotte which I think you need to know about Alex before you declare your undying love for him”.

“What is that supposed to mean?” retorted Charlotte angrily.

“I know we have not always got on but I definitely care for you and I repeat get all the facts you can about Alex”.

“I do not know what you are suggesting”, replied Charlotte innocently and confused by the information”.

“Have you not looked up Alex on Facebook?” asked Louise genuinely.

“No. I have not been on the site for a while”.

“I really think you should take a look at your precious Alex”.

“I really do not know what you mean but is there something wrong with Alex?”

Louise slapped her head in frustration “you are a sweet girl but so naïve. Take a look”, with that Louise logged onto Facebook on her phone and typed in ‘Alex Burton’ and there he was it told Louise that he was from Shoreham and where he had posted as a place of work so there was no mistaking that it was him but would Charlotte want to see what she was about to see?

Louise handed her phone to Charlotte and said “take a look for yourself”, to which Charlotte did and her world sunk.

“Now do you believe me when I say take another look at Alex?”

Charlotte wanted to deny what she was seeing but it was there in written and picture form so could not lie. Alex was tagged in a photo kissing some girl only a couple of days before.

Charlotte felt unprofessional but started to shed a few tears. “What a mess” she said between the tears.

“I am so sorry that you had to find out that way and I know I have not always been kind to you but I told you this about Alex because I do care for you and after Jamie I do not want to see you get hurt”.

“How can I face seeing that beast after this?”

“I know it is hard, Charlotte but do not be drastic for the moment. Talk to him and see what he has to say and I know you were told about emailing him but do it and tell him you need to talk after work ok?”

Charlotte was devastated and Louise could not help getting up and sitting by her and comforting her “I am so sorry you had to be told what I said and yes I was jealous when you first got together with Alex. You have to admit he made an impression when he first showed his face and yes I was jealous like a few girls around here who would jump at the chance of what you are experiencing with him so please give him a chance to explain. Now I think we had better get back to work before people really do talk”.

They both rose before Charlotte dried her eyes and said “thank you Louise”.

“Friends? I promise to be nicer to you”, said Louise.

“Friends, and thank you again”. What Charlotte was thanking Louise for she was not sure but she did feel that Louise should be applauded for turning around and sticking up for her, even though she was the one who had shown Charlotte what she had.

Charlotte sat back at her desk and checked her emails and there was one from, yes you guessed it Alex as he had seen her talking to Louise and was curious as to what was taken place. She was too angry at the thought of what she had seen on Facebook but she agreed to meet up with Alex after work for a drink.

Charlotte did not realise that it was five o’clock, as she had managed to lose her thoughts in a document that she needed to produce. She only realised the time when Alex’s voice disturbed her. She should have been feeling dreamy about hearing that beautiful voice but she could not be stirred by it.

Alex was not stupid and already sensed by the simple greeting he had received from Charlotte that something was wrong.

When they were seated in The Basketmakers and had got drinks, Alex cut to the chase and started the conversation “I know that you are off with me so what have I done wrong?”

Charlotte could not believe the nerve of the man sitting next to her and picked up her phone and accessed Facebook, typed in his name and showed him the result.

Alex only took one look and hung his head in shame but he did not feel that he had anything to be shameful for.

“I know what it looks like but it is not what you think”.

“It might not be what I think? You are in a photo all over some girl quite recently and you say that it was not what I think so what was it then?”

“I have no excuse but I was out with some of the lads and so a little worse for wear, which I know is no excuse but they bet me that I would not kiss the first attractive woman we saw and well she came along and got the kiss. I pleaded to my so-called friends to take the picture off Facebook but they refused to do that. How did you see it when you are not on Facebook?”

“Louise showed me and said that I was naïve about you and that I should take a look”.

“Louise involved again eh? Be careful of Louise. I know this sounds like tit-for-tat but I found out who snitched on us. It was Louise and now she is warning you off me”.

“How do you know it was Louise?”

“I came across one of her mislaid emails to someone named Donna and in there she said she was jealous of Charlotte and Alex and that she would do what she could to break us apart so that could have me. I have not told you this but she has almost been stalking me since I started”.

“Why did it come to this for you to tell me? You saw what I saw of you kissing another girl, drunk bet or not you still went ahead and betrayed me. I thought you genuinely cared for me but you are like all the other men I have met in my life so far not thinking with his brains, instead thinking with another part of your anatomy”.

Alex was genuinely taken back by what Charlotte had just said and was a little bit offended by her remark of using other things than his brains to make decisions.

“I am deeply hurt by what you just said. I love you so much but hey that has just been thrown into my face. Fine if that is how you feel, then it is probably a waste of time continuing this relationship”.

“Are you breaking up with me?” replied Charlotte nearly with tears in her eyes.

“I do not want to but if this is how you are going to react every time another woman takes a fancy to me or a drunken bet is performed then I think I am the wrong man for you”.

“I want to be with you, Alex but you have to understand the hurt I felt when I discovered Jamie cheating and I honestly cannot go through those emotions again”.

“I understand but you cannot compare me with Jamie. If you want you can and compare his love to my love, was he truly head over heels for you, like I am?”

Charlotte breathed a sigh “that is unfair too. When you break up with someone, the way I did it was very hard to trust a man again and then there was Paul who I thought a lot of and what did he do? Admitted he was still married and would be until, he and his wife sorted out what they wanted and then you came along. I never believed in office romances but when I first set eyes on you, on your first day I liked what I saw and so was surprised we made a date and got on so well and what can I say to the night we made love? That was the most special and treasured night ever and I want that again but we have to be honest with each other. You have to promise me that if you are involved in a drunken bet you lose. I will pay the forfeit fee if I have to and I promise to try and trust you more”.

“Can we go back to work with no hard feelings and funny looks in the office?” asked Alex.

“Yes we can and the only looks I will be giving will be ones of admiration for a hot young solicitor”.

This made Alex smile and said “will you allow me one kiss before we leave?”

Charlotte obliged and it was another special moment, which the couple both shared and helped forge in their minds that they were meant to be.

“I wish we did not have to go back to work in the morning” said Alex.

“Me neither” replied Charlotte back.

Unfortunately they would have to go back to work but they would return to the office in the knowledge that their relationship was still on and would continue on for a long time.

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