Healing Charles

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23.

~Stella

Have you ever watched the world move around you? Its intimidating. To feel that you are the only person so unmoving with people walking past you, to be somewhere. Somewhere is better. Somewhere is safe because somewhere is part of knowledge and right now I didn't have the luxury of that. Its the part which is not known makes me restless because having nowhere to be makes me lost. Thats exactly what I feel or at least felt when he asked me to leave.

I walked and walked until my feet were sore in the heels I was wearing so I sat down on the bench outside a random store on the sidewalk, staring at everyone who made their way past me, in a hurry to be just somewhere.

I haven't felt like this in a while, like I am seeking something in a place, it doesn't exist and I shouldn't be here to begin with. I feel out of place.

What are you seeking?

Belongingness.

Stella...

Yeah I know. I shouldn't be tapping into that place of my mind again which had me on my knees and nearly destroyed me in the process but I can't help it. The way he dismissed me altogether and the way his mother was looking at me, had me thinking like I wasn't worthy enough to be standing in their presence, in his presence.

I fished out my phone from my pocket and put his name in the search engine witnessing how quickly every article related to him appeared on the screen and I kept scrolling through hundreds of them. Even the wikipedia was eager to tell his story.

Now I know exactly what his mother meant and why she wants him to be with someone like Vanessa.

My thumb lurked right above the links that could possibly tell me everything that I want to know about him, every single detail was right there in front of me yet I did not feel like it. I didn't want to know anything this way, somehow I still expect him to come and explain everything to me. I want to hear him, hear what he is like and not what tabloids think about him.

So I switched my phone off, ignoring several missed calls from Mae and shoved it in my pocket.

I got up realising the streets were starting to grow silent with less people on out now and I don't want myself to bump in yet another creep again. I walked in the direction of my apartment but in my mind, I knew I didn't want to go there. Especially when I know his window will mock me in my face.

I am worried about Rosie, I want to know how she is but I can't go back to the hospital knowing he doesn't want me there.

I know its partly my fault that I left Rosie with his mother but in my defence she is her grandmother and isn't that enough said?

I feel like, with him, I am always lagging and struggling to catch up so I could take a glimpse of his life and today was no different. One would think with the way we move around each other, we are well in knowledge of who the other is but that is just not the case with us. He knows his words, he knows who he is and thats why its easy for him to manipulate connections around him and I happen to be one those connections that have been tempered with perfectly. I don't understand why he would not just tell me who he is? Did he think I would judge him?

Then again, I am judging him and I have no intentions of denying that. I am entitled to this and feel like he has done every bit on his part to earn my inspection.

Charles Hyland.

I scoffed. What a sneaky human being he is. He used caution as his defence mechanism and thats what throws me off guard every time I am around him and I don't like that feeling. He had made me believe that he would let me in, that I should give him time and in exchange he would let me know him.

He said that only yesterday Stella. Give the man a chance!

He did say that yesterday and I suppose he is bound to act like this when his niece is not okay but I never expected him to be like the way he was. So cold and uninviting. He was altogether a different person when he looked me in the eye and asked me to leave.

I don't want to hold that against him, I know I am better than that but its just this feeling inside me that is not quite satisfied with the way things took such a violent turn. He was threatening the whole hospital for god's sake!

His face was guarded and it seemed like we were standing on the opposite ends of the earth that would never meet. His eyes were flashing like highways signs only that, those signs said its dangerous ahead but like a fool I am, my thoughts always seem to wander about and stop at him, they love to think about his existence and I have no idea why that is.

You have all the idea in this world Stella but you just won't give in.

I don't want to. Especially, now when I know who he is.

How him being a Hyland is a matter of reluctance with you?

Is it not? Look at are origins. He is probably the most fanciest guy around here with a power to match that, where as me? I am just an ordinary girl working my way through a career that has just started.

Thats the most stupid reason I have ever heard.

Then again, when have I not looked stupid where he is concerned? I didn't even know his last name for the love of God! I always feel like there is so much to unravel beneath those surfaces that Charles uses as a distraction against me. There is always something to know, something to find, something to awe about and in some cases, to be afraid as well and that excites me.

He does excite me and there is absolutely no way I want to overlook that. There is a certain touch of thrill in my moments when I am around him. He makes me spontaneous and every time I am with him, I don't feel like I am the most boring girl on this planet or why would he waste his precious time around me?

Come to think of it, he has always been so modest around me that never in my wildest of dreams did I ever think he is the millionaire everyone keeps talking about. Its so odd yet very much there. The truth is just unnerving.

He is different when he is around me, or when he is just...Charles. But when he is his true self, when he Charles Hyland, suddenly everything is at his feet and the satisfaction is truly evident in his eyes. Its always in them, in his eyes, the seek and pleasure from the dominance he uses to have his way. He naturally controls everything.

I sighed. I don't think I will ever be able to decipher his coded being.

I stopped in front of the building where twins live and decided to go in. I was cold and didn't feel like going home yet. I took the elevator to their floor and knocked on the door as I waited for anyone to open the door which flung open so quickly that I jumped a little when I saw how frantic Brooke looked.

"Stella? Oh my god where have you been?!" She hugged me, leaving me all the way more confused.

"Uh what happened?"

"What happened? Really?" She pulled away giving me her best glare and I chuckled awkwardly. I am clearly missing something here.

"Yeah?" I gave her an urging nod to go on as I walked inside shivering slightly. The warmness of their place was a welcomed feeling. "Where is Bella, though?"

The place was eerily quiet without her loud presence.

"She went to look for you!" Brooke came to stand in front of me while I sat cross legged on the sofa, in the drawing room.

"What? Why?"

"Have you seen the time? And why is your phone switched off? Stella you have been acting so careless lately!"

"Woah Brooke, easy!" It has already been a very long day and I don't feel like I can tolerate yet another dramatic conversation right now.

"Sorry." She flushed realising how frantic and loud she was talking. "But this is not over!"

She glared at me while answering her phone which rang loudly cutting her words out and I shrugged.

"Yeah I was about to call you." She said looking at me. "No....yeah she is here. Okay. Drive safe."

I gave her a questioning look.

"Bella and Mae are on their way."

"Why Mae is coming here?" I asked sitting up straight. Isn't she supposed to stay back at the hospital?

"Why shouldn't she?" Brooke asked confused.

"She is supposed to stay at hospital..never mind." I said shaking my head.

"Mae had called a while ago asking if you were here because you weren't picking up her calls so Bella had to go out and look for you."

I bit my lip to stop myself from cursing.

"I was just walking around for a bit."

"Leaving a message wouldn't have hurt you." She fired back.

"Sorry." I slumped back in my place under Brooke's piercing look. "But I am an adult-"

"Save it, Stella." She cut me off, and this time I glared at her-annoyed-my irritation finally coming out and I had to control myself enough to not lash out on her because I know she was right. I shouldn't just wander about myself like that and when I looked at the time, it was indeed pretty late.

I heard the front door opening and on the cue, Bella and Mae came inside looking really tired, both or them giving me their best murderous expression and I cringed. Why are they so worked up about me going out by myself?

"How is she?" I asked Mae quickly before she can burst out. She sighed.

"Still unconscious. They have kept her under observation for the night." She said flopping down beside me, laying her head in my lap and I massaged her roots to ease off her fatigue. She groaned in satisfaction.

Bella passed everyone a bottle of cool beer and I gave her a grateful look.

Everyone sat down quietly.

"What on the earth even happened?" Brooke asked and Mae looked up at me, giving me a look to not avoid answering.

So I didn't hold back.

"Charles's niece-Rosie-she is diabetic and accidentally ate the whole chocolate bar." I informed.

"Oh no."

And thats when it hit me.

"Why didn't you tell me Brooke?" I asked, knowing very well how accusing my tone came out.

"Tell what?"

"About Charles?"

Her eyes went wide and then she sighed.

"Because he told us not to."

"Us?" I asked, confused. "You all knew?"

I looked down at Mae who was avoiding my eyes and I tugged at her hair in frustration.

"Ow!" She got up, rubbing her scalp. "Yes I knew and I am sorry for not telling you but-"

"But Charles told us not to!" Bella jumped to everyone's defence while I huffed not believing their audacity to hide it from me.

"Really Bella? Thats it? You all would hide things from me now?" I asked throwing my hands in air. How frustrating this day can get? My own friends are behaving like some traitors and I am have no idea why.

"Well, sorry?" Bella said.

I scoffed.

"I can't believe you all did this to me."

"Its not such a big deal Stella." Brooke said shrugging.

"Then why didn't you just tell me?" I asked challenging her words.

"Because he thought you would run away from him if you knew who he was."

"Why would I do that?"

"Didn't you?" Mae gave me a look making me falter on my own words. It was then, that I realised I did the exact same thing.

I sighed.

"Yeah, exactly." Bella said chuckling. If only she knew what has happened. "Stella, I don't think you should make such a fuss about his wealth. I mean the guy clearly likes you."

"I know." I regretted it the second words came out of my mouth and I facepalmed myself when everyone gasped giving me various shades of looks that were dramatically portraying their surprise.

"Excuse me?" Mae said cocking her head accusingly at me, threatening me with her eyes to spill the tea.

I bit my lips, but when they just silently kept looking at me to continue, I had no choice but to go on with it. Why am such a blabbering idiot again? Its not that I don't want to tell them anything, but I don't want to keep something out in light when I am not really sure about it but right now I had no choice especially when I know we don't really keep anything from each other. Maybe I'll feel more relaxed once I release these conflicted thoughts from inside of me.

So I told them everything. Starting with my confusing reactions and feelings around him, to his subtle flirtatious remarks and how he acts so possessive sometimes when I talk about some guy from my office. I didn't miss twins and Mae collectively smirking at me when I mentioned about him kissing me for the first time which made me really uncomfortable because I haven't really experienced this.

"So he asked me out on seven dates." I finally said. I deliberately didn't mention anything about our...almost make out. I really don't want to think about that right now.

"Why seven?" Bella asked.

I shrugged. I have no idea myself.

"Did you say yes, though?" Brooke asked excitedly.

"Yeah. But I am not really sure now."

"Why?" Mae asked giving me a serious look.

"Because.." I trailed off, not sure how to put this in words. How am supposed to tell them what is really bothering me when I don't understand it myself. "Because, its a weird back'n forth cycle with him you know? One second, he'll be really nice to me and shut me out the very next moment and I don't really know him that well for me to rush into anything right now."

Mae nodded. She knows what I am talking about. She saw that today, herself.

"Well you should at least try, Stella." Brooke said taking a sip from her beer.

I didn't reply. My skeptic thoughts taking the best of me.

"No you are right, Stella, you shouldn't do anything if you don't feel like it." I frowned at Mae's sudden turn of words. I didn't really expect that.

"What?" Bella asked her voicing my exact thoughts.

"I am just saying she shouldn't go out with him if he doesn't treat her right." She said shrugging and even though she was talking in my favour, somewhere in the back of my mind I wanted her to say the exact opposite thing and thats really weird, to say the least. "Don't look at me like that, Bella."

"I am sorry but did you just say she shouldn't go out with a guy?" Bella asked in disbelief.

Mae shrugged.

I couldn't help but think how odd that was as well.

"I just think Charles need to know that Stella is not someone he can pull and push like a fucking swing whenever he feels like it." Mae said defensively and I felt quite satisfied at her support.

"Thanks." I said nodding at her.

"Oh please! That doesn't mean you are off the hook." She said snapping at me all of a sudden.

"I think she needs help." I said looking at the twins while pointing at Mae. With the speed at which her tone kept changing, I am starting to think her exhaustion has taken a complete control over her senses.

"I second that." Brooke agreed, snickering.

"Pricks." Mae said, shaking her head at us.

"I think you guys are just overreacting." I announced when they wouldn't shut up about me and Charles. "I mean look at Brooke, hasn't she been acting weird lately?"

Oh the satisfaction coursing through me at seeing how her smug expression morphed into one of pure surprise at my words was priceless. She looked perfectly like the deer caught in headlights.

I grinned. Finally it was my turn to be in control.

"What-what about me?" She fumbled over her words as everyone's attention turned to her.

"Don't look so innocent, babe." Mae cooed her like a baby and I laughed and Bella joined.

"Brooke and Caleb, sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G!" Bella sang at top of her lungs, making Brooke blush like crazy.

"What? No!" She exclaimed.

"I saw him sneaking out from here the other night." Bella gave her a dead pan and Brooke looked away, confirming Bella's words.

"Oh Brooke, you have started to keep a lot of secrets now!" I said pouting.

"You hurt us!" Mae chirped in.

"Fine!" Brooke said snapping defensively. "I like him."

"Aww really? We had no idea!" Bella's sarcasm was enough for all of us to burst out laughing, while Brooke hid her face with a cushion.

Sitting here like this, it made me relatively relaxed now than I have been the whole day. I guess I really needed these girls to be around and hanging out together like this always lifts up my mood. They are all so precious to me, that every time I see them happy and carefree like this, my heart aches with the overwhelming joy. I am really blessed to have them.

"Seriously, spill the deets Brooke." Bella said sobering up. This is what I love the most about us. None of us really differentiate one from another, between us four, its always like we have shared a common womb that connects us so strongly. One would think, since Bella and Brooke are sisters-twins at that-so they would know more about each other than Mae or I would, but its not like that. If one of us knows something then rest assured, other three are aware of that too. Its what makes us so comfortable around each other.

"There is really not much going on." Brooke said shrugging. "I like him and he likes me. Period."

"Then whats up with all the sneaking around?" Mae asked.

"He showed up here out of blue and I thought Bella was asleep so I didn't want to disturb her." Brooke explained.

"Since when has my sleep climbed to the top of your priority list?" Bella asked in a teasing voice and Brooke glared at her.

"If you don't remember you weren't really well that day. Excuse me for caring!" She huffed making us all chuckle.

"Alright fine! Don't bite my ass." Bella said finally surrendering.

"Anyone hungry?" Mae asked getting up and went to kitchen when all of us nodded. She is the cook of the group.

We stayed up for most of the night, catching up with each other but somewhere in the back of my mind, I was aware of the faint nagging from my subconscious that was asking me about Charles and I had to remind myself that he was the one who didn't want me around and this time I don't want to sit idle and wait for him to come and apologise for the way he pushed me away. Yes I was wrong to leave Rosie like that but we are grown ups and should maturely face the problem, and I think his teenage behaviour has a lot to catch upto.

This is coming from you, who wouldn't even look past his last name.

I hate my inner voice.

"Earth to Stella!" Mae waved a hand in front of my face making me realise I had zoned out. "What?"

"Nothing." I shrugged focusing on what they were talking about and reminding myself that it was indeed nothing.

Really now?

I hope so.

•••


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-Lia

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