Charlie Ever After

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I lay out the blanket that I carried up from the truck, across the dusty dirt. I take a seat and pat the spot next to me, looking up at Charlie as I offer her my hand. She wraps her warm fingers around mine and lowers down next to me. She slides close to me, laying her head on my shoulder; and even with the silence it’s so peaceful and comfortable; everything needing to be said, is relayed through body language. I wrap my arm around her lower waist and hold her close.

“I’m not sure if you’re used to hearing this,” I start and have to give myself a small push in order to finish my thought. “But you are an amazing fucking person.” I can feel my cheeks heat up with a blush, and I thank god for the shadows being casted over us by the setting sun.

I can feel her shift in my arms as she looks up at me. Our eyes meet, and smiles light up both of our faces at the same time. I can see the slight cast or red on her cheeks and I lean forward, placing my hand on her soft skin, lightly rubbing my thumb across the apple of her cheek. “It may be super cliché, and you can totally judge me all you want for thinking this.” I chuckle softly. “But I feel like I’ve known you my whole life. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so.. myself, so comfortable with someone. And trust me, I feel a bit crazy for thinking, feeling and let alone saying all of this. But I just feel drawn to you.” I look down for a moment, almost nervous for her reaction but when I look up her smile tells me everything I need to know.

“It’s not crazy. Maybe a little cliché, because you know... it’s the plot of any young adult novel.” She giggles. “But I feel the same way.” She pulls her bottom lip in between her teeth and my breath catches in my lungs.

She looks as if she’s about to say something else, but instead she shifts and lays down, resting her head in my lap as she looks up at the stars that are glittering the clear, night sky. I run my hand slowly through her hair as she points up. “Look, I’m pretty sure that’s the Big Dipper.” She smiles and scans the sky for a moment more before pointing to another group of stars. “And the little dipper.”

I look to where she’s pointing and map out the stars in my head. “You’re right. Shit, I haven’t seen a constellation this clear in so long.” And I can’t help the grin that’s pulls at my lips as my eyes travel back down to her, watching as her eyes wander the sky, picking out constellations. I don’t know how it’s possible but she keeps getting more and more beautiful; not just physically, but the way she gets excited as she points out stars, how when she smiles it could light up all of Tucson. I envy her strength and courage. I don’t know much about her yet, but damn am I excited to learn every little detail about this extraordinary woman.

She catches me watching her and instantly blushes. “What’re you thinking about?” She asks, looking up at me attentively. She reaches up, tracing her fingertips lightly across my jaw bone and I can’t help but lean into the warmth coming from her soft caress. I leave a ghost of a kiss on her thumb as it brushes past my lips.

“Honestly, I’m just admiring how beautiful you are.” I say as I tuck a strand of hair behind her ear, the wind already trying to rip it back out. I wrap my arms around her, running my hands up and down her arms, feeling goosebumps arise under my touch.

When my eyes meet hers again, her lips are slightly parted and she reaches up, placing both hands on either side of my face as she pulls my face to meet hers. Her lips find mine and there’s such a hunger behind them that I have to steady myself. I hold onto her waist, my fingertips digging softly into her skin as I kiss her back with the same fervor. A soft, beautiful moan escapes her lips and my body shudders.

I pull back my breathing labored and heavy. Her eyes slowly open and when they look into mine there’s a fire burning behind them that makes me want to forget all about my morals and conscience and let my body, lips and tongue take over but I can’t let that happen.

I wouldn’t let that happen with any normal girl I’ve just met, and I definitely wouldn’t let it happen with Charlie. I have way more respect than to let my body’s responses to her get the best of me. I also couldn’t get the fact of me knowing about what happened to her, out of my head; especially after seeing the bruises on her neck. Isaac didn’t tell me everything that happened last night, but I can put the pieces together with what I already know. I had to be honest with her. If I wasn’t, it would just eat me alive.

I swallow hard, still holding her just as close and lean my forehead against hers. “I want this more than you can imagine. Don’t think by my stopping that I don’t. I just.. I want to respect you and there’s just something I have to come clean about first.” My nerves instantly spike. Why do I always have to be the good guy, why does my conscience have to always get the best of me?

She looks at me and I can see the confusion in her eyes, as well as a glimmer of fear as she pulls away just slightly.

I sigh and hope that my confession doesn’t scare her off. “So, we have met before...well not necessarily met, but the Fourth of July party-” I suck in a deep breath and try to look anywhere but in her eyes. “I was there. I saw what that asshole did to you. I heard the awful things he said, and.. I don’t know. Ever since that night I haven’t been able to keep you out of my damn head. It sounds super creepy now that I’m admitting all of this out loud... But the night... the other night, Isaac called me. He told me that something happened and seeing those bruises- I... I don’t know. I have this strong overwhelming feeling to keep you close and protect you at all costs. You’re such an amazing person...” I’m speaking a million miles a minute and I’m seriously about to throw up from the nerves that are running ramped in the pit of my stomach. When I finally chance a glance up, her expression is unreadable.

“Fuck, I’m so sorry.” She doesn’t shift away though. She sits there, taking everything in and contemplating everything that I just bombarded her with.

“I hate pity, and I don’t need to be protected.” She finally says and I can feel the coolness in her tone and it makes me flinch. In that moment I don’t know what to say. I know I fucked up, I should’ve been honest with her from the beginning.

She sighs. “Listen, I’m sorry. That wasn’t fair. You were just being honest with me...” She stops speaking for a moment and I can tell she’s thinking hard about what to say next. “I don’t like when people pity me, and just seeing that look in your eyes- god, it made me want to punch you in the face.” She rakes a trembling hand through her hair and lets out a little laugh.

I watch her as she sits in front of me, crossing her legs- pretzel style, in front of her. She pulls a hair tie from her wrist and wraps her hair in a low ponytail, letting it hang over her shoulder. “I appreciate your honestly, I do. I just... it’s a hard topic for me. Not one that I’m necessarily ready to talk about. But,” And she looks up at me, her eyes glistening in the moonlight. “That first night that we spent together was the first night in longer than I can remember that I smiled that much, or laughed that hard.” She looks back down at her hands in her lap. “I don’t think I’ve ever been this happy or at peace, once in my life. It’s all so scary and new to me. I don’t know how much Isaac told you, and again- I’m not really ready to discuss it... but these feelings that I’m having for you are scaring me shitless. We’ve known each other what, 3 days and god- just the butterflies alone that you give me... I feel crazy saying all of this, but if you’re being honest I feel like I should be honest right back. I’m just not used to this and I’m sorry.” She finishes with a long sigh; as if she held her breath the entire time she was talking.

All I can do is smile. “So you like me too?” I reply and she just giggles.

“Out of that whole speech, that’s the only thing you got out of it?”

I shake my head. “No, but it’s the only thing that matters right this minute- I don’t want to push you about your past until you feel comfortable confiding in me about it. I respect you Charlie... and as crazy as it may be I really do like you, and it scares me too- but what’s life without a little fear?.”

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