Charlie Ever After

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21| Charlie

I can faintly feel my phone vibrating under me. A groan escapes my lips as I fish under my pillow for the nuisance until my fingers finally wrap around it. I hold it up to my face; one eye open as I try to focus my vision enough to see the screen. When the fog finally fades from my brain my eyes scan across my lock screen, registering what time it is.

“FUCK!” I yelp and fling the blankets from my body and hurry out of bed. I rifle through my drawers, throwing perfectly clean clothes onto the floor in search of a t-shirt and pair of leggings. Once I find my outfit, I tug it on as fast as humanely possible, grab my backpack and run out the door without so much as a glance in the mirror.

By the time I reach room 2b I’m engulfed in full blown panic. I’m trying to calm my breathing as my hands shake against the door knob before I inch it open slowly. I slip inside quietly as to not interrupt anyone but a few heads turn towards me and steals the breath right from my lungs.

"No, No, No." I chant silently in my head as I try to move my feet but I’m stuck in place. I see a familiar pair of steely gray eyes shoot to mine and within seconds his arms envelop me and lead me to my desk.

“Nice of you to show up.” I can hear the grin laced in his words and once I have my breathing under control, I turn towards him and flash him a small smile.

He pushes a paper to- go coffee cup towards me. He’s acting like he didn’t just witness me about to go into a full blown meltdown and I don’t know whether to question him or leave it alone, so I opt for the easiest of the two and wrap my arms around the warm cup and lift it to my lips.

“It’s a French Vanilla Latte.” He smiles at me as the sweet liquid reaches my lips, leaving a trace of foam behind as I set it back down.

“Thank you, it’s perfect.” I smile back at him before running a hand through my hair, realizing how much of a knotty mess it was. I sigh and reach into my backpack, pulling out my travel hair brush and trying to rake out as many knots as I can before tying it in a three strand braid, letting it fall over my shoulder.

I catch Tanner looking at me and I can’t help but to blush. “What?” I whisper and his grin just grows wider.

“Oh nothing.” He says and the color in his cheeks deepens slightly before he anchors his foot to the bottom of my seat, pulling me closer. “It’s just that you look so damn beautiful, even when you roll straight out of bed.” My eyes shoot up to his and I subconsciously pull my lip between my teeth. The breath gets stuck in my lungs as I gaze into his eyes and I almost feel like I’m about to pass out before I’m finally able to breath again.

I can’t find the words, but he speaks for me. “Don’t worry, one day you’ll be used to all of the compliments.” He speaks in a whisper.

" And, I can’t help but to indulge in the look of pure shock and bliss that covers your face whenever I do compliment you.” He says it so low and I almost think that he meant to keep his words to himself but he wraps his fingers around mine and leans in, brushing a soft kiss across my forehead.

When class ends I pull my phone from the side pocket of my bag and scroll through my notifications. I had a few text messages from Tanner this morning, asking if I was coming, if I was okay, and then finally what kind of coffee I liked. The messages made me smile, so I type out a quick message to him before pressing send.

Thank you for the coffee, and the endless smiles.

The next batch of messages caught me by surprise. There’s six text messages from my mom, waiting for me. I swallow hard and decide to ignore them for the time being.

I continue scrolling, seeing a few texts messages from my father. I open up his contact card and press the call icon.

The relationship that I have with my father is pretty new...ish. My whole life my mother told me that my father died when I was five, that he was in a devastating car accident. As a child it killed me, knowing that I don’t remember my father and that there was no possible way for him to come back. I always envied the kids around me that had a matching set of parents, especially when I got a little older and realized that my mom’s drinking habit wasn’t normal. I yearned for a normal family life- until I was sixteen.

For a whole month straight Lydia and I thought that I was being stalked, or targeted for some kind of elaborate kidnapping plan. We kept catching a man in his late thirties following us. He seemed to be everywhere that I was. We saw him near the school, near the places we normally spent our free time, even around mine and Lydia’s houses. I let it scare the shit out of me for weeks, until finally one day I had enough.

On our way home from school, Lydia and I devised a plan. He usually followed us on our normal route, which wasn’t a long one, but it was one with many turns. We figured that if we hid after turning a corner, that we could catch him off guard; see him up close and personal. At first I was skeptical, I didn’t think it would work, nor did I think it was a great idea. We didn’t know who this man was, or what he wanted, but our plan worked. Max- as we came to find out was a private investigator, hired to find me. Hearing him tell me this made chills race down my spine and I nearly bolted but Lydia kept me grounded.

“Your father has been looking for you, for years.” The lanky Max, dressed in a suit way too big for him, had told me.

It took me days to process all of the information he provided me with, but once I finally did, I fished out the piece of paper that Max handed me at the end of our meeting and dialed the number that was inked across the note. The paper had been folded and unfolded so many times in those few days, that the edges were tattered and there was a rip forming in the center, almost disguising the numbers but after a few seconds I was able to decipher them.

I listened to the dial tone and then a deep voice answered.

“This is Andrew Oliphante, how can I help you.”

His voice stunned me for a moment. So alive, and full. Inviting. And before I knew it the word came out of my mouth.


“Kiddo! How are you, How is school?” My dad’s sweet voice wafted around me.

“Ask if she met any cute boys yet.” I can hear my dad’s husband Carlos’ voice rise over his in the background. They go back and forth for a moment, joking around and I can’t help but to smile at their affection for each other. I haven’t seen them both in a few years, but just hearing them bicker playfully made me miss them more than words could ever describe.

“Hey guys. School is good, and I may have.” A giggle escapes me and I can hear them both fawning over me, the phone now switched to speaker phone on their end.

“What’s his name, how old is he, ugh tell me all about him?” Carlos gushes. He’s always been the cooler of the two, mainly because he acts more like a girl BFF than a father figure and for that I love him!

I blush slightly just thinking about him as I take a seat at one of the tables littered around the common area. I have about twenty minutes until my next class and this spot isn’t very far away.

“Well, he’s super beautiful. His name is Tanner, and he’s twenty one.” I smile, sucked into my own head as my brain paints pictures of him behind my eyes. I catch myself day dreaming as my father clears his throat.

“Well, he better not give you any problems or you’ll have the both of us taking the next flight out there to kick some ass.” I can hear the humor in his voice, but he says it in complete seriousness.

“Don’t worry guys, he’s amazing- but let’s not rush it, it’s only been a few days.” I roll my eyes playfully. “He’s one of Isaac’s friends, so I have a good feeling about him.”

“That’s good, sweetheart. I’m so happy for you, and I’m so proud of you for making this big step for your future. You deserve this chance to get away more than anyone, okay.” They both blow kisses over the phone and his words dredge up every emotion in me. I wipe under my eyes, ridding myself of any tears before we say our heartfelt goodbyes and I get up, walking towards my next class of the day.

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