C H A R L I E
“Do you have a date for tonight?” Ian asked as he leaned back in the plush chair across from me.
“No,” I replied, pouring us both a glass of whiskey.
The charity gala had been the last thing on my mind these past few days, a certain brunette overshadowing all my other thoughts. It was a foreign feeling.
And it scared me.
“What about that sexy girl with all the tattoos? You’ve been spending a lot of time with her,” he said, and I looked up.
“What did you just say?”
“Please don’t act like I’m stupid. You’ve been different since I saw you with her, a month ago.”
“Yeah, more...cheerful, I guess. And a little distant.”
I opened my mouth to respond, but for the first time in my life, I had nothing to say— he knew.
And honestly, it didn’t really bother me. I was more scared of Jordan’s reaction, the feisty brunette dead set on keeping whatever was going on between us a secret.
“Whatever,” I mumbled, swirling the amber liquid around in my glass. “She’s going to be there anyway. My sister invited her.”
“Interesting,” he said, raising his brows.
I ignored him, taking a sip of my drink, enjoying the burn of the alcohol as it seeped down my throat.
“I have to leave in a few minutes to get dressed,” I sighed, watching Ian nod slowly as he looked at his drink.
“Well, I don’t want to keep—”
Interrupted mid-sentence, Ian and I looked up as one of the double doors to my office opened, my assistant appearing.
“Sir, I have Mrs. Abbot for you,” she stated, and I beckoned her to let her in.
“I’ll be going then.” Ian smirked, downing his glass and walking out of my office.
I sighed, sitting back in my chair as I watched my mother stride into the office. With her head held high, her perfectly made up, light eyes scanned the room until she reached my desk.
“Hi, honey,” she greeted as she sat down, carefully placing her designer bag on the seat next to hers and straightening out her skirt.
“Hi, Mom,” I said, frowning slightly.
My mother never came to the office, let alone visited me or Ashley while we were working.
“What can I do for you?” I asked, narrowing my eyes at her.
“Are you ready for tonight?” she asked, evading my question.
“I am. What’s going on?”
“Well.” She folded her hands together on her lap. “Do you have a date?”
I rolled my eyes.
Why is everybody suddenly so interested in my date?
“I don’t need one.”
My mother scoffed, checking her watch. “I thought you’d say that.”
I crossed my arms, not liking where this was going.
“What are you up to?”
“You cannot turn up to this event without a date, Charles. Think about your reputation,” she warned.
"My reputation,” I repeated softly, but she ignored me.
“So I’ve arranged something for you,” she continued, smiling brightly.
There it is.
She rose from her seat, grabbing her bag and hanging it on her arm, before she turned her attention back to me.
“Luna Radcliffe expects you to pick her up at eight,” she said, walking out of my office before I could react.
The Radcliffes were close friends of my parents, and for the past decade they had tried to set me up with their only daughter. It had been a while since I saw Luna, and I was kind of hoping she had found someone else by now.
Sighing, I walked up to Luna’s apartment, knocking three times before tucking my hands in my pockets.
“Just a sec!” I heard her yell, the sound muffled by the door.
I leaned against the wall behind me, waiting for her to come out. Looking at my reflection in the window, I nodded in satisfaction.
“I’m ready,” Luna said as she pulled the door open, stepping out in a sleek, light blue dress, the small train dragging slightly across the floor behind her.
“You look good.” I smirked, holding up my arm for her to take.
She rolled her eyes, locking the door behind her before wrapping her arm around mine.
“How’ve you been?” she asked as we waited for the elevator.
“Good, how about you?”
“You know, same shit, different day.”
I chuckled, holding the elevator doors open for her to walk in, before I followed her and pressed the button for the ground floor.
“Your parents still trying to push you into the family business?” I asked, looking at her bright blue eyes.
“Yeah,” she sighed, dropping her head, looking at her feet.
Even with these high heels on, she was at least a foot shorter than me. Shorter than Jordan, too.
Why did I—
“But, I took matters into my own hands,” Luna continued. “I actually signed with Elite.”
I raised my brows— not surprised that she was modeling for one of the biggest agencies in the world.
“Congratulations,” I said, following her out of the elevator.
We made more small talk as I drove us to the venue of the gala, and realized spending most of the night with her wouldn’t be too bad.
“Charlie, darling,” Mrs. Radcliffe exclaimed as soon as Luna and I walked into the main room where the gala took place.
I was momentarily distracted by the beauty of the great hall in the Natural History Museum, especially the large marble stairs and massive chandelier that hung from the ceiling.
“Hello, Mrs. and Mr. Radcliffe,” I greeted the couple as we walked up to them, joining them at one of the red velvet covered high top tables.
“Good to see you, Charles,” Mr. Radcliffe said as he patted me on the shoulder, hard.
He was always a little rough with everybody, crushing your hand as he shook it and almost beating your heart out of your chest as he patted you on the back.
“Likewise,” I croaked out, scanning the room for...someone.
“I believe your parents are over there,” Mrs. Radcliffe offered, nodding to another room behind them.
I couldn’t care less why they weren’t all standing together, and excused myself to go talk to my parents.
“Wait for me,” Luna whispered, grabbing my arm as we walked to the other side of the hall.
“Luna, I know our parents want us to be together, but—”
She interrupted me by chuckling, stopping mid step.
“Oh, Charlie, you’re not my type,” she explained, and I cocked a brow.
“I’m everybody’s type,” I retorted, and she laughed harder, making several people turn their heads in our direction.
“You’re cute and all, but your sister is more my type.”
I watched her walk away, processing what she just said for a second before jogging after her.
“Since when?” I asked and she slowed her walk with a smile on her face.
“Did I hurt your feelings?” She smirked.
Feelings? Pride, maybe.
I ignored her teasing. “Do your parents know?”
“Not yet,” she replied, looking over her shoulder for a second.
“Charlie! There you are,” Mom exclaimed in the same fashion as Mrs. Radcliffe, walking from behind the table and pulling me against her chest.
“Hi, Mom,” I said, but her attention was already on Luna.
“You look amazing,” she gushed, holding the girl at arms length as she looked her up and down.
I nodded to my father, grabbing a flute of champagne from a passing waiter, taking a big gulp.
My eyes were on the doorway, even though I couldn’t see the dance floor, nor the entrance of the building.
“Has Ashley arrived yet?” I asked, casually leaning against the table next to me.
Just as Mom was opening her mouth to answer, my gorgeous sister came striding through the hall, a fuchsia colored, blindingly pink dress hugging her curves and grabbing everyone’s attention. Her wavy hair was styled perfectly, and she looked like she was made for this theme, radiating sophistication and glamour.
“Hi, honey,” Mom greeted her, and Ashley returned her hug before turning to me and Luna.
I tried to be subtle, checking behind her, but there was no sign of Jordan.
“Luna! Long time no see,” Ashley smiled, and they started catching up while my eyes stared at the doorway.
Jesus. What’s up with me today?
“Where’s Ryan?” Mom asked, sparing me from creating any suspicion.
“He couldn’t come,” Ashley explained, also grabbing a drink from one of the passing waiters.
“You came alone?”
Mom didn’t even hide the judgement in her voice, always scared to have her precious reputation tarnished.
“No, Jordan’s at the bar,” Ashley said.
“Hmm,” Mom hummed disapprovingly, making the reason why Jordan was avoiding our parents very clear.
“I’m going to the bathroom,” I told Luna, leaving her with my family after she nodded and making my way to the main hall.
I scanned the room until my eyes caught something red.
Smirking as I recognized her tattoos, I made my way up to Jordan. I was only a few steps away when she turned, her long dark ponytail swaying from side to side as she did.
“Charlie,” she breathed out, looking up at me with those beautiful brown eyes.
“Jordan.” I smirked, my eyes trailing over her body, a tight, red dress showing off her killer figure, and putting her body art rebelliously on display.
“You look hot,” I said, sucking my bottom lip between my teeth as I continued to study her. She looked a little tense, awkwardly avoiding my eyes as she stood before me.
My smile faded the longer she stayed silent, until she sighed and finally spoke up. “I’m sorry about Monday.”
I peeked over my shoulder, checking that no familiar faces were looking our way, before I held out my hand to Jordan. She dropped her eyes with a puzzled look on her face, before she finally looked back at me.
“May I have this dance?” I grinned, watching a little red spread over Jordan’s cheeks.
“Oh, shut up,” she said, taking my hand and following me to a corner of the room, out of sight of my family.
I pulled her against me, one hand gliding over the small of her back as she looked up at me, hesitantly placing her hand on my shoulder.
“How’ve you been?” I smirked, and she rolled her eyes.
“I’m sorry things were weird Monday,” she said again, watching her hand on my shoulder.
“Let’s just forget about it,” I offered, and she nodded.
“Did you miss me?” I continued, trying to get her to loosen up a little.
She sighed, closing her eyes for a second, undoubtedly rolling them before she looked back up. I was intrigued by her reaction, her eyes darkening and the corners of her lips curling up ever so slightly.
“I couldn’t stop thinking about you,” she teased after quickly looking around, her hand gliding down my chest before she grabbed my junk.
My teeth bore into my lower lip as I tried not to flinch, my heart rate speeding up and the air around us suddenly feeling thick with desire.
“Is that right?” I countered, my hand sliding down to sit on her ass, the both of us trapped in our own little bubble, teasing each other.
“Hmm,” she hummed, stroking me through my dress pants, and I tightened my jaw, pulling her closer.
“You’re playing with fire, Baby.”
I watched her tongue run over her lips with hooded eyes, the arousing sight enough to bring any man to his knees.
“Wanna play with me in the bathroom?”