Charlie Ever After

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The bright morning sun streaming through my bedroom window wakes me up, and as soon as I crack an eye open I’m met with my favorite sight—Charlie fast asleep next to me, wrapped in my arms. I pull her closer and lay a feather light kiss on her forehead. With the sensation of my kiss, she nuzzles her face sleepily in the crook of my neck. My fingertips trail up and down the exposed skin of her back lightly before tangling in her long chocolate locks.

My mind is swirling with the never-ending realization of how in love I am with the girl who’s currently curled up in my arms. The fears I have of her pushing away from me when things get tough. Her not trusting me enough to tell me what’s truly bothering her. I know for a fact that something must’ve happened yesterday because that wasn’t sick Charlie. That was anxious and depressed Charlie. I saw it for the first week after she came back from her visit back home, and I thought things were getting better. But after seeing how she was yesterday— it was worse, different. She’s never really held things back from me like she did last night. I just have the world’s strongest gut feeling that it’s something a little more than her mom and school.

A sigh falls from my lips as I look down at the beautiful, sleeping girl in my arms. Her hair is fanned across my pillow, a few strands hanging in her face— which I lean forward and tuck behind her ear. A small smile tugs at the corners of my lips as I study her face. She looks so peaceful and at ease, lost in her dreams.

I place one more soft kiss on Charlie’s forehead before carefully pulling my arm out from underneath her. I sit up in bed and rake a hand through my unruly bedhead, trying to smooth is slightly before standing up and stretching my arms above my head.

Quietly, I make my way downstairs and start the coffee maker. I pull two cups out of the cabinet and fix each with how both Charlie and I like our coffee, while the pot brews.

“Good morning.” A cheery voice rings out behind me, nearly scaring me half to death.

I spin around seeing Scout leaning against the kitchen island.

“Jesus fucking Christ.” My hand flies to my chest as I brace myself against the counter.

Her giggle rings through the kitchen causing me to roll my eyes.

“Not funny.” I grumble.

“It was totally funny.” She flashes me a cocky grin before pointing towards the coffee maker. “Is there enough for one more?”

I nod and pull another mug from the cabinet above me. “How do you take it? Super light and sweet like Charlie?”

She imitates a gag. “Hell no. I like to still taste the coffee.” She laughs. “Teaspoon of sugar and like a splash of half and half. Thank you.” She offers me a warm smile.

I busy myself with making the three cups of coffee to each of our liking before passing Scout her cup.

“So.” I lean against the counter kitchen island with my cup of coffee braced between my hands. I take a tentative sip before a sigh escapes.

“Has Charlie said anything to you? About something that might be bothering her other than her mom and school?” I bite the inside of my bottom lip. I hate prying into her life, but I’m worried— especially if she won’t tell me about it, someone she should trust.

Scout studies me for a moment as she takes a sip of her coffee. She shakes her head. “No, but I did come home yesterday to her sleeping at like two in the afternoon. Why, did she say something to you?”

I shake my head and breathe out another sigh. “No, and that’s what worries me. I can tell something is wrong, she just won’t tell me.”

She gives me a sympathetic smile and nods her head. “Well, I will keep my eye out and try to pry it out of her one way or another. She bumps her shoulder against mine before slowly walking off towards Collin’s room without so much as another word.

I sigh and grab my cup of coffee as well as Charlie’s and make my way upstairs with the both of them.

When I open my bedroom door, Charlie is just starting to wake up, promptly sitting up in bed when she sees me come in with a mug of coffee for her. Her smile is instantaneous as she reaches her hands out for the cup while holding the sheet around her bare chest with her armpits.

I cant help the grin that tugs at the corners of my lips as I hand her the cup of coffee and settle back in bed next to her. I lean back against the headboard and extend my arm for her. She wastes no time, she scooches in closer and cuddles up against me, pulling her legs against he body as she brings the mug to her lips, taking a long sip. She lets out a soft ”mmm“, driving me crazy.

I place a soft kiss to the top of her head, cradling my cup of coffee in my free hand, bringing it to my lips and taking a small sip.

“How’d you sleep?” I look down at her, being met with her beautiful brown gaze and dazzling smile.

“Pretty good.” She nuzzles her face against the crook of my neck. “I always sleep good when I’m with you.” She whispers softly against my skin, triggering goosebumps to rise over my entire body.

I pull her in closer and rest my chin on the top of her head. I still have the overwhelming feeling that something is weighing heavy on her mind. She’s being extra clingy— not in a bad way, more or less in a way that shows me that she needs my comfort, which I will never deny her.

She pulls back slightly and takes another sip from her mug, staring off into space. I watch her for a moment— noticing the changes in her face and how her eyes glaze over and darken until they’re almost black. She’s thinking about something, and she’s thinking hard.

Anxiety explodes in the pit of my stomach but I try to remain calm. “What’s going on in that pretty little brain of yours?” I ask innocently, giving her what I hope is a warm smile.

She stares at me blankly for a moment before the corners of her lips stretch into a smile.

“Trying to figure out what we should do today. We both don’t have classes till later.” She smiles but it doesn’t reach her eyes. I know she’s lying to me and it’s like a slap to the face.

I’m sure my composure falters a little bit because for the first time since I met Charlie, I feel myself growing irritated with her.

“Are you sure that’s all it is?” I try not to let my anger show through my voice but I can hear the bite to my tone.

Her eyes study me for a moment, and when my jaw ticks— she flinches, which causes a wave of guilt to wash through me like an ice cold torrent.

A sigh escapes and I rake a hand through my hair, leaving it standing up on end.

“I’m sorry. I just—” I can’t even begin to think of how to tell her everything I’m thinking, but I try anyway, “Ever since yesterday, I can tell that something is bothering you. I know you’re not being honest about what’s bothering you— and to be honest, it hurts.” I can’t bring myself to look up at her. As a distraction, I lift my coffee mug to my lips and take a long sip while I wait for her response.

She’s quiet for too long and my anxiety replaces any irritation that I was feeling. I can’t take it anymore. I look up at her and she looks so conflicted, so defeated. She’s staring down into the coffee mug that’s resting in her lap.

Finally, she sighs and looks up at me. “Gavin texted me.”

She flinches at the mere mention of his name and my heart plummets. I swear I see her lip quiver but she bites the flesh to steady the wobble. I instantly reach for her, grabbing her coffee out of her hands and placing it safely on my night table before I pull her into my lap and wrap her up in my arms. I don’t want to pry any further. I already learned my lessons, my prying has only hurt her. As much as I would rather know about this, I don’t want her to have to talk about it if she’s not ready.

I’m not jealous. I’m worried.

From what Isaac had told me, she has a restraining order against him. He also said they went to their phone carrier and changed her number the day after everything happened. How did the scumbag get her number? My defenses instantly go up as my mind works in hyper speed, trying to figure out what his intentions could be.

Charlie nuzzles her face into the dip between my neck and collarbone, wrapping her arms tightly around me. I tighten my hold on her and kiss the top of her head, pushing a few stray strands out of her eyes and tucking them behind her ear.

“I know you’re scared. But please promise you’ll always come to me. I don’t want you to hurt, or fear, or feel any type of way in silence and alone—” I grab her face gently in my hands, forcing her to look into my eyes. “I love you Charlie. I wasn’t lying when I said that I will marry you one day.” I give her a warm smile. “I will do whatever in my power to always make you happy and feel safe. I want you to trust me enough to confide in me. We are going to take care of this, okay? We’ll get you a new phone, number, the whole nine and make sure this scumbag never contacts you again. But baby, you need to tell the court that he violated his restraining order.”

She pulls away slightly with my last words and nods. “I know.” She sighs. “Not like they’re going to do anything.” She lets out a clipped laugh and recedes into herself as she slides off my lap after grabbing her cup of coffee, and returning to her side of the bed.

I turn towards her, my heart breaking all over again. “Don’t push me away. Don’t close yourself off.”

The words burn as they leave my lips. I know exactly what she’s doing and I hate it. As much as I understand that she’s pushing me away as a subconscious response to what she’s gone through, it still hurts. She’s scared, she’s hurting and again she’s shutting me out when she needs me the most.

“Please.” I plead with her, looking into her eyes when they finally shift up to meet mine.

Her defenses must crumble because she comes crawling back into my lap, wrapping her arms around my neck.

“I’m sorry. It’s just—” She gazes past me for a moment as she collects her thoughts, before she continues. “It’s just hard. I just want that chapter of my life to be over with. I have the restraining order, I handled everything the way I was supposed to, and yet he’s found a way to force his way back in.” She sighs and I can feel her body shake as she pulls me closer, burying her face into my shoulder.

I hold her as close as space will allow and listen to her as she voices all of her feelings.

“I just want to be able to live life now. With you. I want to be happy.”

I pull her back just slightly and tilt her chin up with my finger. “And you will be able to live life. You’ll always have me. I’m not going anywhere, Charlie. I love you.” A reassuring smile tugs at the corners of my lips as I gaze into the depths of her eyes. “You will get through this. We will get through this, together. I’m here for you and that will never change. No matter what. You will get the happily ever after that you deserve, baby.”

Tears start cascading down her cheeks as her grin morphs her face into something so beautiful that it makes my stomach drop. She’s crying and now giggling and I can’t help but to laugh too.

After our talk we decided to spend our day off, in bed with countless movies and snacks. We’re almost finished with our second movie when I look down at the beautiful girl in my arms and smile as I watch her sort through a bag of sour patch kids— her favorite candy— picking out the flavors that she liked best— the blue, yellow and orange ones.

My grin only grows as my heart swells with the love I have for her. She shoves a handful of her favorite flavors into her mouth, her eyes glued to the television. I chuckle as her cute little face contorts with the sour flavor but she chews through them like a champ. I pull her body closer to me, hugging her into my side, leaning down and placing a soft kiss on her forehead. Never before have I been so utterly in love with another human being in my life, the feelings I have for Charlie grow more and more as the days pass— and as my thoughts of her continue, I’m hit with the perfect idea— something that will make her day, probably her whole fucking year.

“So, were you thinking of going to parent’s night?” I ask timidly.

She looks at me as if I’ve suddenly sprouted a second head. “Why would I?”

My face falls and guilt swells in my gut at my own stupidity. Fuck. “Um, well it’s like this kind of fancy event and I was hoping you’d come as my date. My parents will be there. They’d love to see you.”

A small smile threatens to break free on her lips. She’s silent for a moment before she finally shrugs her shoulders. “Okay.”

I let out a breath that I didn’t even know I was holding in and smile wide. “Perfect.”

Now I just have to figure out how the hell I’m going to get her father here in less than a week.

A/N: I hope you guys enjoy! We're in the final stretch now! I'm thinking MAYBE 10-15 more chapters... But who knows with my writing, it could end up being another 40...woops.

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