A Brighter Star Will Shine

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Chapter 9

Charlotte was finally feeling better and had agreed to return to work for a few hours a day to see how she felt before returning full time to work. Charlotte had forgotten in her time away how even before nine the office could be a buzz of activity and loud with chatter. Charlotte had missed being at work, not at work as such but missed having interaction with people other than Alex or the doctors at the hospital.

Charlotte had started to read her emails, most of them were the usual someone parking in an allocated space who should not be, the latest charity event or that the sandwich lady had arrived but there was one message, which caught Charlotte’s eye. She could not think more about it before Louise came in.

“Morning Charlotte” greeted Louise.

Charlotte greeted her before she received an email from Alex asking if she was ready for a coffee and a quick chat before work.

“What now?” thought Charlotte, who had been hoping for a quiet day getting back into the routines that she carried out throughout the working day.

Charlotte was greeted by Alex with a cheery smile and ‘good morning’, as soon as she entered the kitchen door.

Alex let Charlotte make her coffee, when he had made his and said “I need to have a quick word with you but not here”.

Charlotte was confused but followed Alex into one of the smaller and quieter meeting rooms.

“Sorry to be so secretive but I genuinely do need to talk to you”.

“I am all ears”, replied Charlotte.

Alex really did not know where to start but knew that Charlotte needed to know what he had to tell her.

“This is really hard for me I do not want to have to tell you this but I know what happened to you the night you got attacked. You know by now that you did not slip and hit your head but you were attacked and I am afraid you are not going to like this but I know who did it”.

Charlotte was stunned and remained quiet so Alex commenced what he had to say further “I am afraid it was Louise and I know you are going to ask me how I know so I may as well tell you that we had a heated argument and she told me everything. You were right she is jealous of us and cannot accept that I wanted you and not her. During the argument, confrontation more like I told her we would be pressing charges against her”.

Charlotte had suspected someone she knew had hurt her but she could not believe it was Louise fighting for Alex. She knew Louise had a crush on Alex but beating her to win him over was going a little too extreme.

“I always had a feeling that Louise was not comfortable with us being a couple. To stoop that low was not very nice but you knew I did not want a confrontation with Louise. She is just a spoilt little child who throws her toys out of her pram and I appreciate you standing up for me and I know I was ill at the time but I do not appreciate you fighting my battles behind my back for me”.

Alex was taken aback “excuse me, you are having a go at me because I was defending you against Louise”.

“No Alex I am not accusing you of anything but Louise and her fantasy with you was my problem. It was for me to deal with, what have you done? I hate the woman but I have to work with her so what you did is going to make things harder for me and you know I need to be stress free at the moment”.

It had soon rolled around past nine and Alex said “We had better get back to work but I want to see you after work so we can discuss this further and for the rest of the day it will be best if you do not approach or speak to me”.

‘Gosh’ thought Charlotte ‘I have hit a nerve there’. Charlotte took a deep breath before she walked out of the meeting room. She did not look back at Alex or speak with him during the day, like she normally would. She was too angry with him. Charlotte should have been pleased with Alex standing up and defending her but at the same time she was strong in character and therefore wanted to deal with the Louise situation herself and in her own way.

Gemma, one of the other girls in the team had noticed there was a tension between Charlotte, Louise and Alex and though she knew it was none of her business she had to speak up and ask if everything was okay.

“Are you okay Charlotte?”

Charlotte thought for a while and simply answered “I just have a few things on my mind” and wanted it left at that and so Gemma said no more on the subject.

Charlotte went to the coffee room to get a drink of water and who was there? Yes Alex and for the first time Charlotte ignored Alex but Alex could take no more of it and simply said “what have I done wrong?” Charlotte did not answer and walked away with her cup of water, she hated being like that to Alex but for the moment she felt better keeping him at arms length until home time.

Lunchtime came and Charlotte went to one of the local cafes for a bite to eat and get away from the office situation but fate was dealing her a cruel blow. She glanced around, why? She did not know but who did she see a couple of tables away? Alex, there certainly was no escaping him. Charlotte turned away hoping that Alex would not look her way.

Charlotte never imagined she would feel like this with Alex but she knew in her heart that whatever they discussed after work, it was too late she had fallen out of love with Alex. She really did not want to but her mind was telling her that she did not need Alex and could easily move on, that was probably easier said than done as she had been wrapped into him so could his defending her against Louise just be the final nail to a coffin that had already been built?

It was with a heavy heart that Charlotte paid her bill and left the café ready to go back to work. It was not going to be easy getting through the afternoon at work as she knew she could not avoid Alex but wanted the earth to either swallow her or Alex up.

As she had predicted, Charlotte’s afternoon was misery and she hated every minute. She was not sure she wanted to meet with Alex but she knew she had to be grown up and meet with him, that way she could at least have her say on how she was feeling about Alex.

The end of her working day came by and as she was closing down her pc she heard a familiar voice behind her “are you ready?” Charlotte definitely melted to that voice but the other half of her was not sure what she was thinking and so she knew she had to take one moment in time.

Charlotte was now sitting in Hop Poles pub, a different place she would normally choose but she wanted somewhere neutral, and waited whilst Alex ordered drinks. She was so nervous and though she had a decision floating around her head she was not sure it was what she wanted or not.

Charlotte was looking around the pub, which was an interesting place as it had solid pine tables and the walls were adorned with retro magazine covers, urban art and beer mats. It sounded like it should be tacky but it was lovely especially with the Christmas tree and decorations.

Charlotte quite liked Christmas and had been looking forward to her first Christmas with Alex in Brighton and then Winter Wonderland but the magical sparkle of that excitement had started to dim, a bit like Christmas tree lights that were first switched on and looking pretty but gradually started to go dull as the day wore on. Charlotte had never wanted to feel this way about Alex but his charms were wearing off.

Alex returned with the drinks and settled down before he asked the question, which Charlotte had been dreading.

“What have I done wrong?”

“It should be obvious from the chat we had in the office” stated Charlotte.

“To be honest I am confused. One minute you are being the perfect love of my life and now I feel that I am getting the brush off. I know you resent me for fighting your side with Louise but I know too that there is more to this than just that”.

Charlotte decided too that she needed to tell Alex the truth and this definitely was not something, which was going to be easy.

“I am calling us a day”, Charlotte sounded blunt, which she had not meant to be but from the reaction on Alex’s face it was something that he had never dreamt he would hear.

“You are dumping me?”

“That is what I just said. Yes I am dumping you”.

Alex was in a state of shock “but I thought you were head over heels for me? I know how much I love you and how much you mean to me. I am looking forward to Brighton and then Winter Wonderland”.

“Alex, you have to understand that I was and am head over heels but I cannot take Louise hurting me over you. I loved you too and enjoyed our special moments. I certainly will give you a ten for love making and top marks on how much of a princess you made me feel but there can be no Brighton or Winter Wonderland”.

“You are seriously dumping me over Louise. There is nothing between us and never will be and if she cannot get over her crush on me then that is up to her but I am not losing you over her”.

“I am not prepared to stay in a relationship where I could fear my life next time and all over a man. I told myself never to get involved in an office romance but then you came along and well it happened and it was great when it lasted but I state it is over”.

“That is going to make things awkward as you were assigned as the person who produces my work related documents so now where does that leave us?”

“We will still be office colleagues so will have to remain professional with each other at all times”.

“Can we still be friends?” asked Alex. He genuinely liked Charlotte as a person. He loved her with all his heart and he was not going to let the break up ruin the friendship they had.

Charlotte genuinely meant what she said next “yes of course we can”.

Charlotte made her excuses and left Alex sitting in the pub alone. He remained seated with a heavy heart. He wanted to cry but knew that tears would only be wasted. He loved her with all his heart but now he was single again. He never dreamt he would meet someone so special one moment and lose her so quickly in a moment.

Alex headed home with the prospect of memories of the passion he had shared with Charlotte in his houseboat. Once there he gave in to his emotions and wept for the love that he had lost.

It was soon Monday again. Alex would normally be looking forward to work, especially as he could see his darling Charlotte but now things would be more awkward between them.

Charlotte was also upset about breaking up with Alex and really could have done with a duvet day but faced the facts that she would have to see Alex sooner or later and she agreed to herself that she had to remain civil with him being as she worked so closely with him.

Louise as usual was the first one in and sitting at her computer on the internet before she started work.

“Morning Charlotte”, greeted Louise cheerily as if they were the best of friends.

Charlotte just about said hello to Louise, she was too angry with her still over the attack and it had been her in ways which had broken her and Alex up.

“Are you alright Charlotte?” Louise was genuinely concerned.

“Why should I be okay? My life is absolutely brilliant. I have a job I do not really enjoy anymore and a non-existent love life so yes everything is wonderful”.

“Why are you saying your love life is non-existent when you have Alex?”

“Alex is had. We broke up Saturday night”.

“Oh Charlotte I am really sorry”.

Charlotte could not help wondering if Louise was truly sorry that she had split up with Alex or smug at the fact but then Louise cut Charlotte’s thoughts by speaking again.

“I may as well tell you first but I am handing my notice in later. I have another job to go to”.

Charlotte did not really care but it would be nice to not have to work with her any more.

“I know I have been horrible regarding you and Alex and yes I am and always will be jealous but there is a good thing going on between you and Alex so I respect that”.

“Horrible? You are still going to face charges for attacking me and you know full well me and Alex are over so save any further words about the situation”.

The conversation was left there. Neither Charlotte nor Louise had anything else to say so left it at that.

Charlotte went for her usual first drink and was it fate and meant to be but who was there? Yes Alex. At first there was an awkward silence before Charlotte broke the ice and said “I know we are not together but I want us still to be friends and who knows? If you stay single in January there might be another try”.

Alex liked the sound of that but was not going to build his hopes up of rekindling his fondness for Charlotte.

“Are you going to the Christmas party?” asked Alex.

Charlotte had not really thought about it. She had skim read the email that had gone around but Charlotte had other things on her mind than Christmas parties.

“I am not sure”.

“I probably will do and I would like if we could be friends there”.

“We will see” replied Charlotte before heading back her desk.

Louise, even though she was not supervisor to Charlotte commented on the length of time she had taken to get her drink but for once she was being nice in what she was about to say “saw Alex did we?” Little more was said.

It was now 12 December, a Saturday night and time for the works party. It was scheduled to start with a sit down meal at one of the Chinese restaurants in Brighton City Centre and then there would be drinks and merriments at one of the local nightclubs. There were not many employees with the law company so the parties they had were always quite low-key events but a lot of fun.

Charlotte had agreed to go with Alex, as though he had made a few friends working in the law department he was more comfortable being with someone he knew closely and that person of course was Charlotte.

Alex quite casually commented “I heard about Louise leaving”.

“Yes she is but she is not going to escape what she did to me. It might take a while but she will get what is coming to her soon enough. Louise thinks she will get away with it but she will never get away with it”.

“So are you more confident in us being back together with Louise leaving us alone?”

There was that question that Charlotte was dreading Alex asking. What she had with Alex had been fun but was it time to cut losses?

Out of the blue Alex kissed Charlotte and it did feel good to feel his lips again but that spark had fizzled out, there was no feeling left. Alex would always be eye candy for Charlotte but any relationship with him for her was over.

“That felt good again. I missed that” said Alex with a smile in his voice.

“That was a mistake and you know it was. I have to confess that it was good to share that with you again but there was no spark for me, Alex so I am afraid what we shared together is over”.

“Great so you are dumping me at Christmas after all”.

Charlotte pleaded with Alex “please do not take it badly” but it was too late, no sooner had she said the words than Alex was walking out of her life and apart from at work, Charlotte knew she would see very little of Alex. She did love him but too much had been said regarding the incident with Louise so much so that she did not even trust herself. Oh what a night this had turned out to be.

Just when Charlotte thought her night could not get any worse she received an out of the blue text message from Jamie telling her that he was attending court on the charge of assault in a couple of days. Charlotte was a little relieved that things were finally taking action against Jamie but another part of her wished that events had been different, as she had to admit that she still had a soft spot for Jamie but managed to blankly refuse when he asked to see Charlotte. She did not need that complication. However, it was never going to end there and Jamie kept asking to see her and Charlotte reluctantly gave up and agreed to see him after work that day. She was feeling a bit sad that her Christmas seemed to be ruined and she really did not want Jamie making it worse, but she would put on a brave face and see what he had to say.

Charlotte carried on with her usual routine of going to work and trying to get through the day. She had too much on her mind with Alex and now Jamie in her mind to want to concentrate on work but she knew she had a full workload so could take her mind off things by keeping active.

Charlotte went for her first drink of the morning and as usual, who was in the break room? but Alex. Charlotte was not sure if this was karma, fate or bad luck but she was not sure if she wanted to be reminded of what had happened with him Saturday night.

“Hi Charlotte”, Alex broke the ice with a simple greeting, despite what had happened on Saturday he still had to work with Charlotte and wanted no hard feelings around the office.

“Hi Alex”, it was a simple hello.

“How are you?”

Charlotte was taken aback by Alex asking how she was, she wanted to scream at him ‘how do you think?’ but realised if she had actually said that she would have come out the worst of the two since it was her who had dumped Alex.

“I am coping”.

“Honey, I really wish you had not left me Saturday night and you know I will never forget you and regret how we fought but if you ever can see to give me another try, you know where I will be”.

“I will never forget you either. I should not say this in the open but you were amazing in bed and I do not think I will ever find someone who satisfied me as you did”.

Charlotte blushed a little before saying “that is enough of that talk”, before escaping back to her desk.

‘Well that was awkward’. Charlotte thought sitting back down at her desk. She really was not sure how to decipher the conversation she had just had with Alex and Louise detected the look on Charlotte’s face.

“I know that look on your face, you have seen Alex again”.

Charlotte remained silent before Louise spoke again “oh dear have I hit a raw nerve?”

“Yes you have. Alex and I, are no longer an item and you are not stupid enough to not guess that he was trying to win me back and no I do not need the hassle. I am seriously done with men, if it is not Alex; it is Jamie.

“What has he done now? I thought he had the message and had gone”.

“Me too”, sighed Charlotte.

Charlotte felt a long day ahead. Her life used to be so happy go lucky but now she seemed to have nothing than heartache. That brighter star had to shine soon because at the moment that star was dull to the naked eye.

Charlotte really did not want to think about men but as usual there were two, who kept popping into her head. Alex who she had loved with all her heart but that had broken down, she had wanted to give her heart to him, as always though that had been broken and what to do of Jamie?

Jamie was another dilemma. He was another man who Charlotte had loved with all her heart and was really looking forward to being his wife but that went pear shaped when he was found cheating and now because he was going to face court for assaulting Alex, Jamie wanted to talk and be friends with Charlotte. It was all a mess.

Charlotte had been trying to put her mind at ease when her phone rang; nothing unusual there but she did not expect to be speaking to Brighton police.

“We have news regarding your recent attack. We have a Miss Louise Smart on our radar and obviously wish to speak to her, do you know where she currently is?”

Charlotte was a little bit unsure of informing the police that Louise was sitting opposite her, as she did not want to cause a fuss in the office.

“Yes I do but I cannot speak here. Can you call me on my mobile in a few minutes? And I will talk then”.

Charlotte replaced the receiver and knew that Louise would comment “who was that?” Obviously Charlotte was not going to tell Louise what was going on and what was going to happen so said “I am sorting it”, which seemed to satisfy Louise for a moment but how long would it satisfy her?

Charlotte had no answer to that question and really did not care what happened to Louise now she was going to get her come-uppance but she would have preferred it being outside of work but the police were eager to speak to Louise.

It was just after eleven when Louise had a call to go down to reception. She obviously was not sure why as her department were telephone call based only and received no visitors so she was curious as to who was asking for her.

Imagine her shock when Louise entered the reception area and saw the police sitting in reception. Louise was a sharp cookie and knew immediately that she was doomed. There was no reason for the police to call on a social visit.

“Hi I am Louise Smart. How can I help you?”

“Hello I am PC Warnes. Is there somewhere quiet we can go for a quick chat?”

Louise was baffled but replied “yes follow me”.

When they were both in the room PC Warne placed her under arrest before speaking any further.

“Miss Louise Smart You are under arrest on the charge of Grievous Bodily Harm for the attacking of Miss Charlotte Adams at Speak Easy At The Wick in Hove on Saturday 5 December 2015. You have the right to remain silent but anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to speak to a Solicitor, and have them present during any questioning. If you cannot afford a Solicitor, one will be provided for you. Do you understand what I have said to you?”

“This is embarrassing, how are you going to take me away through the office?”

PC Warne was obviously not concerned about Louise’s embarrassment and replied back “you should have thought about that”.

Louise was now in police custody and decided that she may as well come clean and be honest and admit she had struck Charlotte. She had never meant to hurt her and it was her first offence so hoped that confessing to the crime would help her case.

It was soon clear to Louise that she was going to be formally charged, which she deserved but was told that the court would probably send her to jail; for how many years would depend on the judge she was assigned, this thought definitely was not one she wanted to consider but she knew she had to pay for her crime, just not like that. She truly dreaded the thought of spending time in prison and also gaining a criminal record.

“You may be unfortunate to receive a sentence of three to five years or it could be twenty six weeks but either way you will be going to prison. A weapon was used to commit the crime but Miss Adams has not suffered any lasting injury from the attack so it will be up to the court to decide your fate. Either way for the moment you are staying here”.

Louise was upset of course that things had got this far but what did she think was going to happen to her?

Louise was taken to a police cell and had only been there a matter of minutes before she was already dreading her stay. She had been informed that she would stay here until she was taken to court the next morning. She had never been in trouble with the police before so was not sure what to expect but reality was already dawning on her. She knew she would get little sleep but she was also aware that she would be locked away with her thoughts.

Charlotte became aware that Louise had been arrested. Whilst she knew Louise had to pay for what she had done, Charlotte would have preferred the arrest to have taken place in somewhere but the office.

Then a further dread came to Charlotte when her line manager came to her desk and asked if she had a moment, before she followed her into the nearest meeting room.

“I am asking because I care for my team but do you know why Louise has just been taken away by the police?”

Charlotte really dreaded the question but knew she had to answer truthfully “she has been arrested as she was the one who attacked me in the club”.

Needless to say Charlotte’s line manager was shocked and commented “but I thought you were good friends”.

“We got on but we were never good friends. We had to work together but I never really had much trust in her. Things changed even more when Alex started to work here”.

“Are you saying she was jealous of you being with Alex?”

“Yes I am and yes she was and that is why she attacked me, because she could not bear to see me happy with Alex; it was what she wanted and he chose me and not her but what Alex and I had for each other has gone so we are both young, free and single again”.

“Why have you not told me this before?”

“I wanted to deal with Louise in my own way. My life seems to end up in heartache and confrontation. Alex was lucky that Jamie never pressed charges when he beat him up but then Louise did what she did to me because of her feelings for Alex. Was Alex really ever meant to be my one?

“I think only you can answer that and know whether you still want to commit to him or not”.

“What is going to happen to Louise now?” Charlotte was not sure if she should be asking that but she did of course genuinely want to know.

“I think that is for HR. Now back to work”.

Charlotte returned back to her desk and prepared to get her head around some work. It was a bit weird for her not seeing Louise in the office but she knew that Louise was definitely not on a holiday. She would be going through torture and hell but why was Charlotte concerned with how Louise would be getting on? But despite what Louise had attempted against her, Charlotte was not able to hold grudges with people for long. She just wished that her life would not be tinged with so much violence. All she wanted was a quiet life but would she ever have that?

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