Healing Charles

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21.

•••

'STELLA'

Bang!

There, the door slammed ending their heated argument.

"They are not fighting anymore."

The worst thing right now is that I have no idea what to tell Rosie. Its not like I can make up some excuse for what just happened outside because walls in this apartment are pretty thin which happen to help in eavesdropping-not that I want to-but I can not help it and neither can Rosie. With Charles and her mother shouting at each other right in the next room, its clearly hard not to catch a few words here and there.

You heard every bit of it Stella.

Alright! I did but so did Rosie so its not like I am the one to be blamed here. As I said, walls are the real culprit.

I looked at Rosie who was staring at me with wide eyes. She is not the only one scared, frankly I am too. I don't know Charles's mother but she seemed really cold when I first saw her. From her words, that bit of assessment only got affirmed all the way more.

She wants Charles to be with Vanessa.

Yeah that-that hurt. Its not like I have real feelings for Charles, heck I don't even know what I feel in the first place but what I do know is that when I am around him, feelings, don't seem like such a bad idea. He makes me want to try them and knowing Vanessa stands just around the corner in all of this, it pulls me back from going into all of this head first. I am already skeptical, and none of it is easing my nerves.

"Yeah. Its-" I stopped when I heard his mother's voice again.

"No Elijah its alright here. Take care of Julie." Her voice was distant yet clear enough to make out every word of it. It sounded like she was busy on a call which means Charles left indeed.

Where did he go?

"She is talking to my dad." Rosie said sitting beside me on the bed. The whole room was engulfed in intoxicating fragrance of Charles, it was a heady mixture to take in. I have been into his room before but without him now, it did not feel right.

"She is talking to some Elijah guy..."

"Thats my father." Rosie said smiling proudly. Why would Charles's mother lie to her other son? Nothing is alright here. In fact Charles just left due to the screaming match he had with his mother. Its odd. Why was he so angry at her? What happened?

She said he left home. That he needs help.

Needs help with what?

Its all so confusing. Charles and I, we have hung out with each other several times but none of them ever actually drew us into any serious heart-to-heart conversation. Come to think of it, I don't know anything about him at all. He talks-yes-but barely lets me know him. He is always so careful about what he says or what he does that none of it ever gives away what he is at his heart.

Did he truly leave home? And even if he did, why does his mother think that I am the reason? I did not even know he existed before I moved to Amsterdam and thats a mutual situation. Charles never knew who I was before he moved in this apartment.

I can not piece anything together right now for I don't have information in pieces for that matter. I just happen to have some bits of it that somehow these walls have passed me on from their argument.

I am worried. Where did he go?

I got up and paced around while Rosie followed my moves with her gaze.

He sounded so furious. Sure, I have seen him getting annoyed before, chuck it, I have been a front row spectator of his snapping shows but none of that stood against this. I swear his voice sounded so purely agitated like this was not the first time this was happening and the thought of it made me even more worried. The way he was talking to his mother, he was clearly frustrated to say the least. His frustration had a sharp edge of tiredness like this was something he had been enduring for a while now. At least thats what he sounded like.

"Hey Rosie, will you be alright while I go and make sure Charles is okay?" I asked the little girl, already feeling guilty at the thought of abandoning her here alone but I just cannot stand knowing Charles is not fine.

She nodded frantically making me smile.

I unlocked the door and stepped out of the room, nervous, knowing his mother was still out there. I walked into the living space to find her still busy on the call. She looked up and frowned at me.

Man if only looks could kill. She definitely hates me even though I am-and I quote-insignificant to her attention.

Yeah I heard that too.

"Let me call you back...yeah. Goodbye." Her voice was soft yet curt at the same time. I quickly assessed her profile which was quite fancy with all the branded clothes on her petite figure and pearls around her neck. Her dark hair exactly resembled Charles's, and she had them all tied up in a neat chignon which revealed her delicate face. Even though old enough to be a mother of two grown ups, she was quite beautiful for her age.

"Uhm I am sorry but where did Charles go?" I asked awkwardly.

"Why so you can find him and make sure he is still wrapped around you little fingers?" She asked catching me off guard. Okay what?

"Excuse me?"

"You are excused young lady. You have no business around my son anyways." She said waving a hand at me like I was some filthy creature under her expensive heels that she can walk over. She looked down at me which such an arrogant expression that for a second I almost forgot who I was in front of her. She thinks I am hooking Charles on some leash and dictating him around for my benefit, doesn't she?

I snapped.

"You don't know me because I don't have any business with Charles for that matter. We are just friends." I said cooly still maintaining a respectful tone. No matter what she is an elder to me and Charles's mother for that matter.

"But I know girls like you who can't help but throw themselves at my son." All the parents are proud of their children, thats a given, but the way she put those words together, I had a feeling she was not actually bragging about Charles but what goes beyond him, what I know nothing about. I know Charles is a young charming, in fact alluring man who clearly has everyone wrapped around his attractive personality, probably endures every girl swooning over his handsome profile who he walks past but I-for one-know that I have never thrown myself at him and I don't need to prove that to his mother.

"I think what you don't know is your own son who clearly just walked out on you and yet here you are, busy attending some really insignificant calls." I dished out my anger in the most calmly way possible and turned around walking away from her before she could waste any more of my time with her stupid judgemental theories about me.

"You will never have him." I stopped when her words rang in my ear but decided against responding to them. Not having him is least of my concerns right now. I could care less about what his mother feels about me.

I quickly went to my place and grabbed Mae's car keys and pulled it out of the parking lot. I tried Charles's cell but it went straight to his voicemail which was useless to leave since I am sure he won't bother to hear it. I mindlessly drove around looking in the neighbourhood for any sign of him. My worry was sickly shooting up because I know he was out there and angry as hell which is not a good combination.

This is useless.

I pulled up at the roadside and scrolled through my contacts. I left a message with Caleb and Irwin since they weren't answering their phones so I turned to the last contact that could help me find him and dialled Val's number. I tapped on the small green phone icon and waited for him to pick up the call. Of course he did not so I kept on calling him until he picked up at the sixth call.

"I am in a meeting, Stella." He said in a hushed voice but I did not care.

"I know I know, I am sorry but this is really urgent." I said frantically before he could cut the call.

"Woah calm down. What happened? Is Mae okay?" He asked worriedly when he heard my voice. I rolled my eyes.

"Yeah she is fine. Its Charles who is not!" I said.

"What?"

"His mother visited today and-"

"Let me guess, they ended up in a fight?" His tone shifted and I sensed bored exasperation in his voice like this was not the first time. What he did not know that her mother literally trolled me. I am sure that was a first. I didn't tell him about that though.

"It wasn't pleasant, Val." I said slouching in my seat. "He was so mad and stalked away to God knows where..."

"And you are looking for him?" His question confused me. Why did he sound so surprised? Of course I am. Why wouldn't I?

"Yeah. Do you know where he might be?" I asked hoping he would have some clue because I sure as hell don't.

"He is not at my place for sure or I would know otherwise. Did you try calling Irwin or Caleb?"

"I did. No luck."

He sighed. I am sensing this must be something he is used to.

"Then he must be at the lodge." Val said. "Its an hour long drive Stella and-"

"Doesn't matter."

"Fine. Its right outside the city. Take the highway to avoid traffic. I'll text you the address." He informed and cut the call. My phone pinged instantly with his message and I put the address in the GPS and took a quick U-turn to get going.

A lodge? Really? How fancy is this going to get? I get it he is loaded or something, his mother made sure to establish that fact, but a lodge is little over the top. If he is rich then why does he live downtown, in such a middle-class apartment which does not even assure people their privacy? Oh right he left home.

He can not get anymore confusing.

Val was right. It took me a little while to get to my destination and I am not even sure if he is going to be there or not. I drove past the city borders, just as the vast expanse of crop fields came into my view leaving the city lights behind. The sun was just setting behind clouds leaving a soft reddish glow in its wake, making it all look like a landscape portrait framed on some museum wall. I focused on the road as the GPS instructed to take a left turn. I did and turned into a narrow lane which was more like a broken and beaten down path nestled between large trees that lined along both side of it leading to somewhere, somewhere this lodge was supposed to be. I drove slowly, careful not to wreck anything. I squinted my eyes when a faint light came into view, exposing the lodge behind.

I gasped softly when I neared the so-called-lodge. Damnit it was a miniature size wooden mansion for heaven's sake! The beautiful building was erected right in middle of a clearing. The whole area was surrounded by the dense trees hiding it away from the view of prying eyes that may stumble upon it accidentally. I think it was built within a forest from the amount of flora it had around it. I shut off the engine and got out of the car, cold air greeting me instantly and I cursed realising I forgot my jacket at Charles's place. My thin chiffon blouse wasn't helping in slightest either.

I walked upto the heavy metal gate that was fencing the lodge in, its tail running around the whole clearing and found it ajar, enough for me to silently slip in. My eyes instantly landed on the bike that was parked in the driveway and the lights that were on inside the lodge. He was here.

I sighed, relieved that I found him.

I slowly walked upto the porch and knocked on the front door, waiting for him to open the door and shout my ear off for following him out here like a freaking stalker. I heard his steps shuffling behind the door. I am sure he must be seething behind that door, not expecting anyone to show up here. Wait-what if he wanted to be alone right now? Suddenly, I felt very stupid for coming down here and intruding in his business. No, I shouldn't think like that. I know its not my place to be here but no one should be left alone when they are angry. Its not right. But what if he doesn't want me to be here?

Before I could talk myself out of it, the door flew open and a very naked, well not exactly naked because he was still wearing his jeans that was hanging really low on his hips revealing the waistband of his briefs on display, and a very mad looking Charles came face to face with me. For a minute, none of us said anything. Him, processing my unexpected presence and me, well, I was too shocked to see him like that. His torso was covered in sweat and so was his hair which was messier than usual and damp, sticking to his forehead. He was breathing hard, very hard for that matter, his nostrils flaring.

I looked up and met his eyes which had a dangerous gleam in them. They were reflecting his heat and uncontrollable rage and I couldn't help but feel really unprotected right now even though I know he would never hurt me like that but somehow the way he looked so distant with that far off look in his eyes, I felt like we were miles apart even though our bodies were merely few steps away.

His expression shifted and his voice was rather calm unlike his stance.

"What are you doing here?" He asked like he couldn't believe I was here.

I shrugged and my eyes trailed down his hands as something caught my eyes. I sucked in a sharpe breath when I saw blood oozing out of knuckles and fingers. Both of his hands were leaking red, his skin was flaming and swelled in places making me feel nauseated. I quickly took his wrists in my hand, careful not to touch small but several wounds.

"What the heck is wrong with you?!" I exclaimed looking up at him. He frowned glancing at his hand like he did not realise his own injuries sooner.

"Its nothing." He took away his hand and backed away.

"Oh its not-nothing Charles!" I snapped entering in. I took his hands in mine again and dragged him to sitting space that was more like a lounge near the large bay-glass window and pushed him back to sit down. I crouched in front of him inspecting his hands. "Tell me."

I practically demanded.

"What?" He looked taken aback.

"Tell me what happened?" I snapped. I don't know why I was angry at him all of a sudden but to see him acting so nonchalant about himself riled me up like anything. How can he say its nothing when clearly he has been hitting something to manage up these wounds. They looked so harsh on his perfect hands.

His jaw locked and he looked down.

I have never seen him like this, so distraught. His face was tired and the way his muscles shifted in his shoulder making them slouch was heart breaking. He looked so vulnerable right now. I bit my lip from keeping my tears in and palmed his cheek caressing it, pleading him to look up.

"Its okay Charles. It will be alright." I said softly.

He leaned into my touch and looked at me, his lips slightly curved up at the corners and my heart melted at the small smile he gave me.

"You don't even know what happened." He said and I nodded agreeing.

"I don't need to know if you don't want to share it." I said and got up. "Do you have a first aid kit here?"

He nodded.

"In the bathroom. Down the hall." I quickly fetched the kit from the bathroom and came back. I sat beside him, making him turn towards me. I took the cleaning solution and dabbed some cotton in it. Taking his hands in my lap, I started cleaning all the blood while trying to control the sick feeling inside me and keeping it away. I just can't stand the sight of blood even after all these years.

"You can't hurt yourself like that." I said without looking at him but I know he was gazing at me intently. I could almost feel it. "Its so stupid and careless of you!"

I heard him chuckle lightly and when I looked up, he had the audacity to look amused.

"This looks entertaining to you?" I asked, irritated by his behaviour.

He shrugged and pressed his lips to mine out of blue. It took me a second to process whats happening before I sighed and gave into his kiss with his tongue tracing my bottom lip, beckoning for the entrance. His kiss was feverish this time, rough even as he pulled me in to close the gap. His mouth was wanting, hungry to get as much as he needed from me and I, happily gave him just that.

We both pulled away at the same time, our lungs begging for some mercy. Panting, I went back to cleaning his hands and putting some ointment on them so the wounds would not sting anymore.

"I was hitting the punching bag with my bare hands." He said quietly as I put away the kit.

I scoffed. Don't tell me this lodge slash miniature mansion has a gym too.

"Thats a classic." I said rolling my eyes at him.

"Yeah it is." He threw his head back on the head of the sofa looking up. He looked so deflated.

"What is it Charles?" I asked shifting closer to him. I rested my head on his shoulder. He tensed at the contact making me look up at him.

"No. It feels good." He said quickly and pushed my head back on his shoulder. I smiled. We both sat in silence, processing everything that has happened today.

"Did you hear everything what my mom said?" I could almost picture him cringing right now. With the way he asked me that, it was clear he was uncomfortable.

"None of it made sense, if it helps?" I said trying to comfort him. He sighed.

"She is..."

"Ice queen?" I helped him to complete when he couldn't find the right words. I felt his chest rumble with laughter at my words and I smiled at how easily he could be tamed down when only minutes ago he was seeing red.

"Yeah. A little." It was cute how he still defended his mother when him and I both knew how she was so I decided not to tell him about her words to me. I did not want to create any unnecessary trouble between them. "She has changed so much."

I frowned.

"She used to be such a warm person, always happy and pleasant around her family." His voice had taken a sudden longing turn. Like he was aching for a woman I cannot even begin to imagine existed in place of his mother who was such a stoic uptight figure. "I miss her."

I know how that can be. I miss my mom too.

I squeezed his hand in response although making sure I wouldn't hurt his sore skin. I was glad he shared it with me even though its minimum, I am still grateful.

"How did you know I was here?" He asked, making me look up at him. He moved his head so he could look at me and I gulped at the intensity of his eyes as they locked with mine.

"I didn't. Val guessed so I came to check." I said still looking into his grey eyes that I am starting develop strong desire for. He looked at me with unreadable expression.

"You came this far to look for me?" He asked leaning in so our foreheads touched. I closed my eyes in the pleasing satisfaction, his closeness brought. He was warm and I couldn't help but enjoy his contact.

I nodded at his words.

"Damn Stella. You are doing shit to me I can't even put in words." He said placing a kiss on my eyes lids. I shivered at how close he was, my breathing coming out in ragged pattern in response to his words.

"Charles.." I said breathlessly as he traced his nose with mine and left a trail of kisses down my cheek. His face shifted as moved to my neck, sucking softly at my skin.

"You have no idea how much I have wanted to do this." His voice was raspy, setting my skin on fire all of a sudden. I was entrapped in the feeling that was so foreign to me. The weird electricity running through my body at his touch was such an exotic response that my body had conjured at his actions, that I was left senseless.

His hands moved down my back and he tucked at the rim of my blouse making me gulp at even the thought of it. I have never done this with anyone, never been so vulnerably intimate to know how he would react. I know I have nothing to be ashamed of yet the thought of letting him see me like that did funny things to my belly.

"Can I?" He asked softly in my ear taking me by surprise at how he managed to be such a gentleman about this when I, on the other hand was a total mess. I nodded without looking at him. I wanted him to look at me which was another story to ponder about later.

He did not waste a second before pulling it above my head and leaving me exposed as he cupped my butt cheek in his hand and pulled me into his lap.

"Look at me Stella." I did, and locked my gaze with his, his eyes never leaving mine. He wasn't looking anywhere but my face which was flaming at his inspection. I couldn't bear it. The way he just remained holding my stare was too much so I laced my hands through his soft hair and surprised both of us by bringing my lips down to his. He groaned in response and I gasped when he shifted his hips below me. He chuckled against my lips as I flushed.

He pulled away and slowly dragged his gaze away from me and down my neck. He sucked in a sharp breath when he looked at my exposed chest and I mentally thanked myself for wearing a new set of lingerie today. His pupil were dilated and I could clearly see the appreciation in his gaze as he leisurely looked at me.

"You are so beautiful." He kissed me again, this time shortly as he started to kiss me down the neck while his hand rested on my hips. His lips felt cold against my hot skin and I felt him smiling as he received the embarrassing moans from me but I was too lost to pay attention at controlling myself.

So imagine the shock from the startle that pulled both of us from our enchanted bubble as his phone went off, blaring loudly in the silence of the house while we both looked at each other with wide eyes, breathless and unable to comprehend what just happened.

I scrambled from his lap and he passed my blouse to me snickering at my clumsy condition. I glared at him but quickly pulled it over my head as he answered the damned call which interrupted our moment.

"What?" He snapped sounding annoyed all of a sudden and I frowned turning to him. His expression shifted from annoyed to shocked to worried so quickly that I almost collapsed from keeping up. My legs were still wobbly from our make out. We made out...

He cut the call hastily and turned to me. His anger was back and this time I don't think he was tameable. He quickly put his shirt on and wore his shoes but didn't say anything. His jaw was locked and he looked really tensed as he shuffled around to get dressed.

"What happened?" I asked worriedly. He stopped balling his fists and turned to face me.

"Why did you leave Rosie alone?!" He snapped angrily and I halted. Oh my god did something happen to her? He looked at me like it was my fault.

"I didn't. Your mom was still there!" I said, confused at his sudden accusatory tone.

"Well here is a thing Stella, she is good for nothing and I trusted you with Rosie! Never mind. I have to go!" He said grabbing keys.

"Wait-What happened to her Charles?!" I shouted, running behind him but he did not answer and got on his bike turning it around quickly which forced me to get in my car as well without saying anything further.

I know he wouldn't talk unless he finds Rosie.

So I put the foot down on accelerator, pulling the car away from lodge and onto the road while Charles drove ahead of me at a lightening speed.

I prayed for him to be safe and I prayed for Rosie to be safe.

Oh God Rosie just be safe.

•••


Hey guys !!

The story is taking a shape slowly and I hope you enjoy what is coming next.

Fun fact : I usually write a chapter that has around 2000 words but by the time this one came in I thought why not just make them a little bit longer which allowed me to write more in one instead of splitting them in two chapters. I think its betters this way.

Like, comment & REVIEW !!

Lia xo

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