Chapter Thirteen - Brax POV
It took awhile for Charlie to calm down, and rightfully so. I had seen her upset before, but this level of distress was like nothing I had experienced before. It left me questioning if there was still more to the story that she hadn't told me. Once Charlie calmed down enough I waited until she was settled in her seat before I took off back to the house. The entire drive I kept my hand firmly in her lap, squeezing her tiny fingers between mine, a token gesture so she knew I was here for her.
The drive back was silent and it took a few minutes for Charlie to register we had pulled up. I walked around to her side and took her in my arms the moment she got out. We stood there in a comfortable silence, her heart racing against mine, even through the layers of clothes we had worn to try and keep warm. Her arms wrapped around me tightly, a fear to let go driving her to squeeze harder. I didn't want to push her into talking, I could sense she wasn't ready. All I needed Charlie to know was she had me, I hadn't gone anywhere.
I felt her sigh heavily and pulled back, looking down into her eyes. I stroked her face and wiped the tears that stained her cheeks, now slightly pinked from the bitter cold that lashed against her skin. "Do you want to go to bed? I can let the others know you aren't feeling well after dinner and come back."
Charlie didn't speak at first. I watched as she started to slowly shake her head, unsure of what she wanted. "Can we just stay here for a few more minutes?"
"As long as you need, cutie." Charlie cuddled back into my chest as I rubbed my hands on her back vigorously trying to warm us both up. I leaned down and kissed the tip of her nose. "I love you."
It seemed to be just what she needed to hear as I felt her mumble into my chest. "I love you too." Reaching up, Charlie's arm wrapped around my neck and brought my head down to hers. I kissed her softly, a gentle kiss, raw in emotion, passion, protection and love. So much love. As I pulled back I could see the tears pooled in her eyes, my thumb carefully brushing away any strays when we heard the front door open. Charlie quickly hid her face in my chest, unsure who it was behind her.
"Thought I saw a car pull up. Are you two ok?" I felt her release some tension when it was Marcus' voice that followed and no one else's. I told him we were fine, just enjoying a few more minutes of peace and quiet before "Chester?" I chuckled and agreed when he cut me off and finished the sentence. "Alright, well don't stay out too long you will both freeze. Mace has arrived safely and the other boys are here."
Marcus left the door slightly open for us as he headed back inside. I turned my attention back to the only one that mattered. "What do you want to do babe? You know I will support you either way."
"Just give me a minute. I wouldn't mind just freshening up and then I'll come out to see Mace. Play it by ear from there babe." I nodded and extended my hand asking if she was ready. We headed inside and Charlie went to our room to tidy up and give herself a few minutes to compose and process what had just happened.
After grabbing a beer from the fridge, I walked out greeting everyone. "There's one of my other favourite girls. Glad you arrived safely." Mace came over and gave me a hug as we caught up.
"Where's my girl?" I cocked my head towards her with a smirk as I asked if she meant my girl? "No I definitely meant my girl." I laughed as I hugged her a bit tighter and told Mace she would be out in a second before checking how her flight was. "Painfully long and boring."
"He didn't ask about your relationship with Liam, he asked about the flight Mason!" We all cracked up as she flipped Monkey the finger and Liam called him an asshole. "So where's my favourite girl?" Raising my eyebrow at him I corrected him and said my girl. "No I meant my girl."
"No, you didn't." I told them she would be out shortly, she just wanted to put some warmer clothes on, with Chester pointing out she loved the cold? "I know, don't ask me to explain female logic."
"I heard that Brax! All of it." When Chester bounded out of his seat towards her Charlie's immediate reaction was to question what he had done. "You're being nice, sucking up even. It usually means you did something wrong."
When he chuckled and said baby, I quickly cut him off. Chester corrected himself with an exaggerated cough. "Sweetcheeks, can't I just be happy to see you?" I kept a cautious eye as Chester mucked about with Charlie as usual. If nothing else it was the distraction she needed after what had happened. I saw Chester looking at her before he asked her to follow him inside. I wonder what he is up to?
The pair of them looked thick as thieves, heads huddled together as he slung his arm around her shoulder whispering to one another. I saw them head across the lounge to the kitchen, where they faced one another as he leaned on the kitchen island listening to what I could only assume was her telling him about Calvin. I appreciated Chester as one of my closest mates, more so when I saw him open his arms for Charlie and bring her into a hug.
After affording them a few moments of privacy, I excused myself and headed in to see if she was feeling alright now. When I got to the kitchen I leaned against the island, being sure not to interrupt their conversation. When I saw a chance I spoke up and asked if she was okay, when Chester turned to see me behind him. "Sorry bro, didn't mean to take her away for so long, I ju. . . "
"Bro, it's fine. Thank you." Chester nodded in understanding before Charlie explained apparently her puffy eyes gave it away and he wasn't letting up until she spoke to him. I would believe it too.
"You all good too Brax? I know if it was me, I would have wanted to go back in there and bury him, so I'm wondering how many times you considered it?" When I asked why he was talking in past tense, it was enough for him to know I still had it on my mind.
"Well, I guess the plus side is we leave tomorrow to go on the road again." When I said and hopefully we would never see him again, we both laughed as Chester added we could change that hopefully to a definitely. "Thanks Monkey, but I would prefer to keep you out of jail."
"Anything for you sweetcheeks." When the fucker winked at her I pushed him away playfully and told him to give me my girl back now. Charlie started poking his ribs as she told him he needed to find himself a nice girl already. "I find myself many nice girls."
"Not those kinds, Monkey!" We walked back out with him and after Mace and Charlie had a catch up she came and sat down in my lap while we got stoned together. Probably wasn't the best coping mechanism but it was the only one we knew that worked for us. After today I knew it was just what she needed. I was pissed that what should have been a good night out for us together, before being on the road again was ruined by these demons from her past. All I wanted to do was keep her protected from them.
After a couple of joints Charlie sat up and told me she was going to bed before saying goodnight to everyone. I excused myself to join her, after agreeing to meet the other band in the city tomorrow at ten am so we can have brunch and do a bit of sightseeing before we hit the road.
Charlie took my hand as we walked through to our room and we soon undressed. I chucked on some track pants read for bed, and I couldn't help but smile as I watched her walk over to my suitcase, pick up the shirt I had just taken off and put it on for bed. It's when I found her the most beautiful. It's something I had learnt with her over the time we had been together.
When I've had to travel for work and when she wasn't feeling her best, she turned to something of mine for comfort. And I found myself realising when she did, that was her finding her safety in the love we had created. And fuck I was one lucky bastard to experience that with her.
We lay in bed and it didn't take long for her to roll into my arms, her head and beautiful hair splayed across my chest as I flicked the television on in our room. After a short search, I put the early football game on as I settled back, content with her in my arms, stroking her silky locks through my fingers as I felt her warmth surround me. The television had become white noise as I lay in the darkened room with her, until I heard Charlie's soft voice. "Do you remember when I told you about Calvin and his parents, and what they used to make me do?" I turned to her and nodded, watching as Charlie swallowed deeply, mustering what energy she could find to continue. "So you remember how I told you we went over there on holidays and Calvin and his parents came to see us before we left?"
I nodded as she said she had prayed ever since the day they left she would never see his face again. I rolled into Charlie holding her tighter, letting her talk and giving her the ear she needed without interruptions. "The phone calls that started when we returned, they were worse than I could have imagined. But I sat quietly like I was told, hoping that if I did as they asked it would be over sooner."
"Can I ask you something, cutie?" I stroked the hair back off her face as she looked at me and nodded. "Why does he still have so much power over you?" I felt Charlie start to shake again at the thought of Calvin, the fear in her eyes was like nothing I had seen before. A deathly blanket of emptiness as the vortex sucked her back into a nightmare she had long suppressed. "You know you are safe baby. I will never let anything happen to you. But I need you to tell me everything, it's time Charlie. You have to let it go to move forward."