Chapter Eighteen - Charlie’s POV
Chapter Eighteen is explosive and some parts of it may be difficult to read, so if there is any trigger for you, please skip on to the end of the Chapter as the last paragraph will give you what you need to continue. Otherwise, I promise if you can bear with me, it is important to the story and the growth of Charlie as a character. I have avoided being overly graphic but I wanted to extend the courtesy of a warning nonetheless xx
I stared down at my phone ringing, and I wasn't really sure what to do. I had known this call was coming, but I wasn't fully prepared for it yet. When I heard Brax ask who it was I told him. The look he gave me helped find the strength I needed to take this call as I prepared myself. As I pressed answer I took a big breath before I spoke. "Yes, Richard?"
I saw everyone's eyes fly open at me when I said dad's name, but I was too busy listening to the spray coming out the other end of the phone. "I beg your pardon young lady, don't you mean dad?"
"That would imply you've been a father and not just a financial aid when I was growing up. So I am going to ask you again, what do you want Richard?" In true fashion, I was not surprised when the power play came out next and he tried to tell me to change my tune. "Richard, if you just rang to berate me again, I am sorry to break up this little party but I am rather busy right now. Perhaps I can entertain you some other time?"
"Charlotte Maree you will listen to me and you will listen to me right this. . ."
"Whatever, just hurry up. I am busy, unlike you who seems to have nothing better to do then constantly berate and belittle your own daughter." I rubbed between my brow as I waited for whatever it was dad had to say, when I felt Brax grab my hip and pull me closer to him. As I stood between his legs and he rubbed his hands up and down mine, I saw him stare up to me. A curious look on his face as he searched mine to make sure I was ok. When dad was adamant he had only ever tried to support me, I almost chuckled out loud down the phone. "So now you want to try and dabble in stand up comedy? What is it you want Richard?"
"Stop calling me Richard right this minute!" Brax heard dad's voice raise over the phone at me and immediately went to stand up as I placed my hand carefully on his chest and pushed him back into his seat.
"Stop telling me what the fuck to do! In case you hadn't noticed yet, I am an adult with the capability of having my own thoughts and opinions. Not being dictated to, by you or anyone else for that matter!" I had made a point of keeping my voice neutral, I didn't want dad to have the power over my emotions anymore, and when I saw Brax looking up smiling at me, I knew I was going to be alright. I ran my hand through his hair and down to the nape of his neck, my nails stroked his scalp as he leaned forward and kissed my stomach. I barely heard a word dad said, as I got lost in my calm.
When dad said he had an interesting phone call from Calvin today, I agreed he probably did, but I failed to see why that was any of my concern. "You know damn well what I am referring to, what the hell were you thinking Charlotte?"
"And there he is! The real Richard Mornington we've all come to know." I sat down sideways on Brax lap and put the phone on speaker in front of us. As soon as he mentioned Calvin, I noticed everyone else stick their head around the corner, and chuckled as they all looked like a pack of meerkats.
"What has gotten into you? You will have some respect for your parents or so help me god. . ."
I cut dad off, not fear flooding my veins this time, just pure rage. "You'll what Richard? Try to sell me off as a child bride? You already tried that one! Or how about standby while your sick friends try to groom a thirteen year old for their adult son?" When dad tried to cut me off by saying my name, I continued to speak over him. "Oh no, you shut up when I am speaking! What else can you do that you haven't already Richard? Because I've already been sold to your friends basically, groomed by them from the age of thirteen on what you tried to convince yourself was supervised calls."
I felt Brax grip on my hip tighten when Dad cut me off again and he saw my frustration. "You know I did everything I could to supervise those calls."
"Well, not good enough Dickie Boy!" When Brax and Chester heard me reference my father as the nickname they had adopted him I heard them both snort back a laugh. "You see, that guy you think is so wonderful, that you defend to the end of the earth, even over your own daughter, is nothing more than a sick and disgusting pervert. I have endured more than I should have already from him! How does it make you feel Richard to know that your perfect Calvin was asking your thirteen year old daughter if she was sexually active yet? Because if she was, that was a big problem. Or how about when he tried to get me to give myself my first orgasm at thirteen and a half, then abused me because I refused to touch myself!"
"Charlotte, please. . ."
By now I was ready to explode and being inside this bus was doing nothing to quell that. Brax was too slow to react when I went pacing off his lap and screamed back at dad. "SHUT UP! How many times did I BEG you? Please dad, make it stop! HOW MANY RICHARD!" When dad tried to tell me now wasn't the best time to have this conversation, I burst out laughing. "Why? It was perfect timing when you wanted to have it?"
I didn't care that right now, I was projecting every fear and anger that dad had ever caused me. He needed to hear this, because for so long he refused to. As he tried to fumble over his words again, I realised he still didn't grasp the true extent of what they had done. "How about when Calvin's father, Mathias got on the phone and told me if Calvin gives me an order I am to listen. He owns me after all, that's what his money bought. So if Calvin tells me to touch myself, I do as I am told, that is a woman's place and Calvin wants his money's worth. Because that's all you've ever seen me as dad! A means to an end for you."
"Charlotte, why didn't you tell me any of this sooner."
Is he for real? "I tried to dad! You didn't want to listen. You never do. In the end I gave up. There is only so much trauma a person can take. Try Post traumatic stress dad, I am sure you have heard of it! But, let's be honest with each other for a minute, you wouldn't have believed me anyway. Not over your precious, Calvin. After all I was nothing to you, you always wanted a son. Women are to be seen and not heard, right dad?"
There was a long pause and for a moment I thought he might have finally hung up. "Charlotte, you don't honestly believe that I knew all this was going on do you?"
"You know what Richard, I don't care anymore. Whether you did or you didn't is irrelevant. I begged you repeatedly to make it stop, to the point I was physically ill and you still did nothing to protect me. That is not a father. You can lie to yourself all you want, if that helps you sleep at night, go right ahead. However, until you want to make amends for ruining my childhood and try to build some minuscule of a relationship with me, which to be honest I don't even know is possible, do me a favour and lose my number."
Dad let out a heavy sigh, before I heard his voice come through again. "Charlotte, you are upset right now, you don't mean that. We can talk further when you aren't so emotional."
That was the tip of the iceberg as I burst out in hysterical laughter and turned to the band who still had their heads poked out wondering what was going on. "Guess what guys, apparently I am too emotional right now. That's coming from the guy who knows fuck all about me."
The band all smirked and when Chester spoke I saw one creep across Brax's face also. "What a baboon."
I was drawn back to the phone when I heard Dad ask what Chester had just said. "It doesn't matter. You wouldn't get it because you never took the time to get to know me properly. It's a private joke, with the friends who are my real family." As I went to put an end to the call, something dawned on me and I quickly picked up the phone. "Just so we are clear that any further discussion around Calvin is dead in the water, there is something I need you to hear Richard."
"Charlotte?" I ignored dad and put my phone on the table next to us.
I turned to face Brax and took his face carefully in my hands as I said his name, drawing his attention to me. "Yes baby?"
I got down on my knees in front of Brax, held his hand and looked up into his eyes with all the love my heart possessed for him. "Will you marry me?" Brax's eyes bugged out as I continued to smile at him and he managed to ask me to repeat that.
"You are the love of my life, my reason every day to keep fighting. My strength, my comfort, my best friend and lover in one. They say penguin's mate for life, and it made me realise. . . . you're not my Batman. You're my penguin. I love you, I am in love with you. Will you do me the honour of being my husband? Marry me Brax?"