Charlie Ever After

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12| Tanner

My phone stars vibrating against my bedside table, causing me to stir in my sleep. The noise continues until I’m awake. I groan and snatch my phone, swiping the screen before holding it to my ear.

“Hello?” I say and can instantly hear the annoyance laced in my voice. I pull the phone away from my ear momentarily to check the time. It’s one a.m. I’m just about to flip at the person on the other end of the line when I hear them speak up.

“Tanner?” I instantly recognize the voice as Isaac’s.

I sit up in bed. “Hey man, what’s up?” I ask, raking a hand through my hair-messing it up even more than it already was.

“So,” He pauses and I can hear the hesitation in his voice. “So, I was just wondering- we’re going to be heading to campus first thing in the morning.. I was just wondering if you could meet us there and maybe lend a hand. I figured it would also be a good time to introduce the two of you.”

I take in what he’s saying and nod my head as if he can see me. “Of course, man. I’d love to help!” Just at the thought my heart flutters in my chest with the prospect of finally getting to meet her.

My alarm stars blaring at seven a.m. This morning when I talked to Isaac he told me they’d be arriving to campus around nine a.m.

I lay in bed for another fifteen minutes or so until I finally decide to get my ass up. I make my way to the bathroom that the three of us share. I can hear one of the guys snoring loudly, causing me to roll my eyes. I shut the bathroom door behind me and turn on the shower.

By the time I’m finished showering and getting ready, it’s quarter after eight. Campus is only a fifteen minute or so walk.

I still have a few minutes to spare so I head downstairs and start brewing a pot of coffee. It’s almost as if the smell summons him, because Jace saunters into the kitchen as soon as the coffee finishes dripping.

“That smells so damn good!” He practically growls.

I grab two mugs out of the cabinet, filling them both. I hand him his mug before fixing mine with some cream and sugar.

“What’re you up to today?” Jace questions me, pulling his cup to his lips and taking a sip.

I shrug my shoulders and inwardly cringe at the fact that he drinks his coffee black. I love coffee just as much as the next guy, but I at least need cream in mine- especially with the stronger blend I prefer. “Isaac asked me to help move his sister’s best friend into her dorm room. She’s starting here this year.”

“Sweet. Fresh meat. Is she hot?” Jace asks as he drains the last of the coffee from his mug, rinsing it and putting it into the dishwasher.

He must see the anger etched on my features because he holds up his hands in defense.

“Who the fuck raised you?” I ask, staring daggers into him.

“Woah, first off- you know who raised me! Barbara, you’ve met her before! Second of all, she’s a nice lady! Keep her out of this!” Jace yells out in mock anger. He lowers his tone to a normal level before adding, “I was mainly joking- but like, I was also saying it for you, man. You need to get Alicia out of your system!”

I sigh and roll my eyes. “Nah man. This girl has been through enough. I can’t add my dumbass to the equation. Plus, I am more than content being single after that shit show of a relationship.” I laugh and check the time.

“Hey man, I gotta run. Try making sure Collin doesn’t sleep the fucking day away- loser.” I add as I finish my coffee, putting the empty cup into the dishwasher. I grab my wallet and keys, shoving both into my pocket on my way out, closing the door behind me.

The weather outside is still warm, but gorgeous none the less. The walk to campus is actually quite nice. The route takes me through a nice suburban neighborhood with a little town square that offered everything you could expect: a coffee shop, thrift store, convenience store, etc. I stop at the coffee shop, grabbing four iced lattes.

Once you reach the outskirts of town, you’re smack dab in the middle of college life. Frat and sorority houses lined the next few blocks until the road opens up to the main part of the campus.

When I finally arrive, I grab a spot in a small sitting area, situated off to the side. I set the drink carrier down and pull my phone from my pocket.

There’s four different housing districts on campus: The Highlands district, Historic district, Park district, and the North district- and it seriously just dawns on me that I hadn’t gotten any of that information from Isaac when I talked to him this morning.

The campus is in no way small, so it could take me another ten minutes or more just to get to the right district. Please be in the highland or park district, I pray silently.

I wake my phone’s screen by tapping on it. There’s a text from Isaac, received fifteen minutes ago. I open the message, nerves starting to flare up. Why? Beats me.

Small bump in the road. We’re about a half hour- forty five away. Highland district- Colonia de la Paz.

His message saves my life. I don’t have to walk too far and I have some time- the iced lattes not so much. I shove a straw in my drink and make my way towards the highlands district. I’m not necessarily sure where her dorm building is when I get there, so I pull up the campus map that I have saved still from freshman year.

Looking down at the map I head down Highland ave- which turns out is the road that all of the dorm buildings reside on. Colonia de la Paz is on the left side of the street, sandwiched between the Graham Greenlee building and the Apache Santa Cruz building.

Colonia de la Paz is a three story dorm building and from the looks of it, it was nice as hell. It screams money.

I walk around the dorm building, finding a courtyard set up with a bunch of tables and chairs. A few tables are occupied, but I find a table closest to the parking lot. I sit down, facing the road so that I can scan for incoming cars.

I pull my drink to my lips, taking a sip as I scroll through Facebook. I tap on the search bar at the top of the app and the first saved search is Charlie. I take a mental note to stop being so creepy, as a text from Isaac pings through.

Pulling in now, sorry.

Just as I’m replying NP I see Isaac’s beloved Camaro peel into a parking spot. My throat feels like it’s closing as I catch a glimpse of her climbing out of the car. Her hair is piled on top of her head in a messy bun, and she’s wearing a large hoodie- the sleeves pulled down over her hands and the hood string tied, bringing the hood in tighter around her neck. The choice of a hoodie in late August, living in Arizona strikes me as odd for all but two seconds but I don’t care because she looks almost more beautiful in such a simple outfit, than she did the night of the party.

A small smile graces her lips, but her body is almost stiff, I can practically see the tension she carries around- and my hart breaks for her.

I’m almost stuck in my spot, admiring her when I notice Isaac wave me over. I grab the carrier housing the almost melted drinks and force my feet to start moving as I make my way over to them.

When I reach them Isaac smiles at me.

“Girls, this is Tanner. One of my good friends. Since he goes here too, I asked him if he wouldn’t mind helping us unpack the car.” He looks over at Charlie- “And I figured maybe a friendly face on campus wouldn’t be so bad.”

Charlie offers me a warm smile and I almost fucking choke.

“It’s nice to meet you, girls.” I say when I finally regain my voice. “I picked up some coffee. I’s kind of almost melted-” I chuckle nervously. “But, I figured we’ll be needing it.”

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