Charlie Ever After

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26| Charlie

When we got to his truck- before he let me in- he held out a black bandana, rolled up.

"Um, this isn't where you murder me right?" I joke, hoping that's all it would be.

He chuckles and shakes his head. "Of course not, I like you too much. Maybe lock you in my basement, but never kill you." He teases with a wink.

I fake a laugh even though inside I'm dying, his sense of humor is something I love about him. It's awkward, could be dark, carefree and just all around goofy, like mine. "Ha-Ha, very funny. Your basement better be finished and have a king size bed for me to sleep in." I quip right back.

"Gotta love a girl who knows how she wants to be treated." He places a hand over his heart. "I promise I'm not trying to kill you or anything, I just want it to be a surprise." The corners of his lips tilt up slightly in a sheepish grin.

My heart swells at how much thought he must have put into this date. I turn my back to him, backing up close enough for him to tie the blind fold over my eyes.

He secures it with a knot, waving a hand in front of my face to test my vision.

"Anything?" He asks in a whisper against my ear, my back still pressed against his chest.

I swallow hard and shake my head. A chill ravages my body, goosebumps covering my skin as his breath brushes against my ear.

He helps me into his truck and closes the door behind me before he slides into the driver's side and starts the engine, pulling out of the student parking lot.

From what I can tell we didn't drive too long, or far but I can tell from the terrain that we're no longer on pavement.

Within a few minutes the truck comes to a stop and I can hear him slide out, the door closing behind him. My door opens and I can feel his hand slide into mine, guiding me out of the truck. He's behind me again as he works on untying the blindfold, letting it slowly slide off my eyes.

I keep my eyes shut, opening them slowly as I feel his hands on my arms, slowly rubbing up and down.

What I see before me is one of the most jaw dropping. From what I can see in the dark we're in some type of grassland. Rolling hills surround his, the grass so high it sneaks between the fabric of my yoga pants, tickling my shins.

"Holy fuck." I say out loud.

Tanner grins at me before he pulls the seat up, revealing the back seat of his truck filled with blankets and pillows. He keeps himself busy, pulling them out and piling them into the bed of the truck.

This man surprises me more and more every single moment. This is something that I only thought happened in romance novels, but now it was happening to me in real life.

I slide my shoes off and climb into the bed, laying out the blankets and pillows, forming a bed for us.

Tanner carries one more blanket to the back- tucked under his arm- and is carrying a few plastic bags. I can see a bottle of wine poking out and I can't help but to smile.

He passes me the bags and blanket before climbing in. He crawls up next to me and smiles over at me. "You managed to make this hunk of metal comfortable, I don't know how you did it. I had to search to the end of the earth to find all these blankets and pillows, and even I didn't think this was going to be enough."
He chuckles softly as he digs through the bags, pulling out sandwiches, sodas, some snacks, as well as the most adorable rubber, stemless wine glasses.

"I don't know if you're as clumsy as me, but these are perfect." He grins, squishing one in his hand.

I giggle, grabbing one and holding it between my legs as I grab the bottle of wine. He hands me a corkscrew. The cork pops with a hiss and I can't help but giggle- it gets me every time.

I pour us both a glass as he pulls out his laptop, setting it between us and signing into Netflix.

"Lady's choice." He leans back against the pillows, cradling his glass in his hand as he pops a chip into his mouth.

I grin and lean forward, scrolling through the movies. I pick a cheesy romcom and lean back. He instantly lays his arm across the pillows for me to lay into. I smile and cuddle up to him, draping my arm over his stomach.

I can't help but glance up at him, his eyes already trained on me. His expression is unreadable in this moment but the corner of his lips tilt up.

"What?" He asks, his voice is so throat and hoarse right now that it instantly has my stomach doing somersaults. His voice always awakens some kind of animal within me.

I shake my head. "Nothing. I'm just-" I bite my lip. I know what I want to say, it just sounds so silly in my head. It's something that people say every day, so many times- but it means so much more to me. "Happy."

His smile spreads ear to ear and my whole body ignites. I love him. I say it over and over again in my head as his eyes search mine.

"I want to tell you about that night." The words surprise me as they fly out of my mouth and I wish I could stuff them back in. Fuck. Why did I say that?

He sits up slightly straighter, his arm still tucked under me- only he pulls me closer.

"Only if you're comfortable doing so." And this is why I can confidently say I love him. He never pressures me to do anything I don't want to do. He's gentle, patient- he's perfect.

I nod, still unsure but I sit up a little bit. A chill rushes through my body as I suck in a deep breath. I'm quiet for a moment or two before I finally find my voice.

"I met Gavin my freshman year in high school. He was a completely different person then-" I bite my bottom lip and look up at him through my thick lashes. He's listening, his full attention on me.

"We were friends for a little bit and then sophomore year, he asked me out. It wasn't until junior year that the red flags started showing. It started off with him being overly possessive and controlling, and then his outbursts... his anger is so bad, at first it scared me shitless, but as time went on it started to not phase me. I knew then that it was a big problem, but I still stayed. I was stupid, I thought I was in love with him, but I only loved who he once was, or maybe even what he symbolized, I'm not sure." I take a deep breath.

"Then the summer before senior year is when the physical abuse started. Again, that started off small too. First it was just him grabbing my wrist a little too hard, but it only escalated from there. Charlie nor Isaac know the extent of how bad it ever got, I was always really good at hiding it." I blush, embarrassment flooding me.

I chance another glance up at him and he's still listening, his face unreadable. "Anyway," I continue, "that night he came over. He was drunk. He tried... tried to get in my pants, and when I didn't give in he tried forcing it. He was ripping at my clothes, trying to get them off- and I think that's why... you know, what happened last night happened- because trust me, you have no idea how bad I wanted it... still do." I'm rambling and I start to panic slightly.

" When I wasn't having any of it- all of a sudden his hands were around my throat. I don't remember much, all I remember is fighting with all of my might until he was off of me. Most of the night is kind of a blur but... there it is."

I let out a long breath before looking up at him. I can see the muscle tense in his jaw and for a moment a see a flicker of intense anger but he masks it before I have the chance to examine him further.

He's quiet for a minute before he finally speaks.

"I hope you know I'd never do that to you." He says and pulls me so close to him that it steals my breath away.

I lean my head against his shoulder and nod. "I know. You saved me from him." I say because it's true. Before I even knew he existed he was fighting my demons. He was there and witnessed one of the most humiliating events of my young adult life and without even knowing me or the situation he went after Gavin. Fate may or may not be real but with every single day I spend with Tanner I'm starting to become a believer.
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