Chasing Love: Chapter 19


Nine Years Ago

It had been the day from hell.

I had just finished a fourteen-hour shift with Dad at the hospital where we lost a teenager to a drunk driving accident. It was the first time I had dealt with death, and no matter how much they prepared us for this during our studying, the reality was far more grueling.

My dad stood there calling the time of death as I ran to the toilet heaving, barely making it as I violently vomited—my body shuddering while collapsing to the floor.

How on earth would this get easier over time?

I started questioning myself if this was the right vocation for me. I’m not like my father—he’s strong, always in control. Six fucking years of my life dedicated to medical school. What the hell was I going to do? I couldn’t talk to Samantha about it. She just saw the status attached with calling me Doctor. Mom and Dad would never understand, and Adriana, well, she was too preoccupied with Elijah and immature at the best of times.

I peeled myself off the floor and washed my face before I headed outside.

“Son, are you okay?”

“Yeah. Sorry I ran out, Dad. It was just a lot to deal with.”

He placed his arm around my shoulder before walking me to the reception area. The nurse at the front desk looked at me sympathetically.

“It’s part of the job, Alex. It doesn’t always end in saving a life.”

“I know, but she was so young. Only seventeen, it’s not fair.” My voice began choking, and I knew I needed to get out of this miserable place.

“Life isn’t always fair, Alex. Remember that.”

With his last words, I walked through the sliding doors and into the cool night. It was a little after six when I arrived home. Samantha was in the living room reading some trashy magazine.

“Hey, honey, you look beat.”

“Yeah, pretty much the day from hell.”

Putting down the magazine, she motioned for me to sit next to her. I threw my bag on the ground and sat, ready to talk about today’s events.

“I went to see Dr. Housman today.”

“What the hell for?” I knew I sounded annoyed, but what the fuck was wrong with her? Dear God, she better not be knocked up. We used condoms, plus she was on the pill. “You’re still taking the pill, aren’t you?”

“Yes, I am, and no, I’m not pregnant. But nice to know you haven’t moved forward with that decision,” she barks, with her arms crossed. “Dr. Housman did some preliminarily tests, and she found that I wasn’t ovulating. I’ll need fertility pills should we decide to have kids.”

“Okay.” I breathed a sigh of relief, exhausted and not one bit interested in talking about starting a family. “So, we’ll deal with that when the time comes.”

“She said the younger I am, the better.

“No, Samantha.” I raised my voice, fucking irritated that this was what she focused on. After the day I had, I thought she’d want to know what happened. Instead, she put the baby bullshit right on me. “We aren’t having children any time soon. End. Of. Discussion.”

I grabbed my bag and headed to our bedroom, sat on the bed and untied my shoelaces. Sliding my shoes off, I stood and undressed, desperate to get rid of my clothes.

Inside the bathroom, I turned on the shower waiting a few seconds for the hot water to come through, but slowly the mirror started fogging up as the steam floated across the room. As soon as the water fell on my skin, I felt myself relax. I wanted to forget today ever happened, but every time I tried, I saw the lifeless body lying on the operating table as my father tried to revive her. I didn’t realize I was crying until I tasted my tears on my lips. Vigorously, I rubbed my face before turning the water off and climbing out.

With a towel wrapped around my waist and another to dry my hair, I walked back into the bedroom.

“I’m sorry, baby, I just got paranoid that I could be the reason why we never have kids.” Samantha sat on the bed, grabbing a tissue off the nightstand.

“Seriously, Sammy, you need to stop listening to your sister. When the time is right, the time is right. I don’t want to talk about this. I’m exhausted and just want to go to sleep.”

My phone started to ring. I walked over to the desk, leaning over to see Adriana’s name flashing on the screen. I answered the phone abruptly which didn’t deter her as she rambled on about some issue with her Mac.

The girl never shuts up. I told her I was busy. Fuck! Why couldn’t she get Elijah to help her out? Then she said she was at Charlotte’s.

I don’t know what came over me because in a heartbeat I agreed to go over.

Like a rainbow after a storm, it was exactly what I needed. Trying to disguise my enthusiasm, I told her I’d be over in fifteen minutes, then hung up the phone. Sammy watched as I changed into my jeans.

“What’s going on?”

“Adriana’s Mac died, and she needs it for tomorrow night.”

I left out the part about going to Charlotte’s. I don’t know why—I had no reason to feel guilty.

“Oh, I thought we could climb into bed together. It’s been a while, Alex.” She curled her arms around my waist and started kissing my chest.

“What do you want me to do? She needs help, and you were the one who agreed for us to chaperone this stupid party.”

“Fuck, Alex, it’s always an excuse with you.” Sammy pulled away, storming off with the bathroom door slamming behind her.

I quickly got changed, not wanting to deal with the drama that is my wife. We weren’t fucking anymore because I was either exhausted when I got home from the hospital, my shifts were on rotation, and well, I didn’t trust her. The whole baby thing was warping my mind.

I needed to get out of here, so I grabbed my keys and closed the door behind me, ready to chase my rainbow.

My finger pressed against the doorbell, patiently waiting for Adriana or Charlotte to answer. With my hands in my pockets, I stood there rocking back and forth, willing the nervous energy to disappear before someone answered.

I hadn’t done anything to be ashamed of, though I knew it was only a matter of time, unable to rid my mind of impure thoughts despite my commitment to Sammy, but they were just thoughts.

So what if I enjoyed Charlotte’s company? She made me laugh, made me forget the world existed for a few moments. She’s uncomplicated. My vows were still intact. No, there was nothing to feel guilty about.

Then she stood in front of me like I was in some dream. She captivated me, her beauty leaving me speechless.

“Oh hey, Alex. You okay? You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”

“Hi, Charlotte… I uh…”

Fuck, I had nothing to say. Now wasn’t the time to be giddy. Man up. Okay, so I want to see her naked, every inch of her spread out in front of me. Okay, shit, no more manning up.

She grabbed my hand and pulled me to the living room where her parents sat. She introduced me to her father who simply said, “Hello.” Her mother stood and walked over to me, then she placed her hand on my cheek. How odd, I thought to myself.

“Un ángel camina entre nosotros,” she chanted as she touched my face.

An angel walks amongst us? What an odd thing to say.

I replied in Spanish, saying ‘thank you.’ Thank God, I understood and didn’t look like a complete moron in front of her. Though, I am surprised to see her mother here considering her parents are divorced.

“You understand Spanish?” Charlotte asked with a wide grin on her face.

“Yes, it’s what happens when you’d rather study than play dolls with your sister.”

She laughed and led me to her room where we found Adriana on her phone with some sort of party emergency.

“Hey, Alex.” Adriana waved, then turned to Charlotte. “Sorry I have to love you and leave you. The caterer needs me to pick the final menu.”

“Adriana, you can’t just leave your brother here,” Charlotte rushed, panicked.

“Sure, I can. He’s the computer geek. My Mac is doing some weird cross-eyed guy warning thingamajig. All my songs are on there, and I need them for the party.”

Without any time for either of us to respond, Adriana vanished through the door like Superman on crack.

“I’m not a computer geek, just FYI.”

“You don’t look like a geek,” she pointed out, moving toward her desk where she sat down. “Far from it.”

I stood near the door, unsure of how far I should come in. I’d never been inside Charlotte’s room, and with curiosity, I scanned my surroundings. The color of the walls was olive green, bare and without any picture frames aside from photographs taped on her ceiling. From where I was standing, I couldn’t see the photographs and whose face were in them aside from the fact they look liked they had been taken at school.

Her double bed was sitting in the middle of the room with pristine white sheets, several pillows and a cushion in the middle which said Sleep with Me.

“Nice room,” I mentioned, noticing the books on her nightstand. I’d read the same books in senior high. “What do I look like?”

“Alex… please, you know. You’d be blind not to see it.”

“Well, call me blind.”

“You know you’re hot,” she spoke with poise. “You’re smart. I mean, you’re a doctor! You’re the whole package.”

“The whole package? Obviously, you don’t know me well. I’m not perfect, Charlotte.”

How could I even begin to explain how imperfect I was?

“Maybe not, but you’re pretty damn close…”

It dawned on me that her words were sincere, and I had never heard anyone use the words ‘perfect’ and ‘Alex’ in the same sentence, except for my mother. But the thing which resonated was how confident she was when she said them, leaning back into her chair with her arms stretched above her head, not a single moment of hesitation as the words flew out of her mouth.

As the minutes passed, I found myself unable to look away, caught in the dilemma of wanting her innocence, her purity, but my words came out unexpected.

“What did your mom mean back there?”

“That angel stuff? Long story. Just this legend she believes in. Don’t worry, she’s always trying to bestow her wisdom upon me. I’m eighteen. Isn’t this the time of my life to go wild? You know, get drunk and tattoo some random guy’s name on my ass?” She laughed, biting on a pen while she watched me. “She shouldn’t even be here. My parents are trying to be amicable. Something about trying to settle property they inherited. I kinda zoned out.”

“You’re not like that,” I answered at ease. “Wild and irresponsible.”

“No, I’m not.” She hesitated, distracted by a loud yell that echoed throughout the house. The voices were muffled, but soon I realized it was her parents arguing.

“Alex, you should probably go. This isn’t something you want to hear.” She sighed, her voice saddened by the excessive yelling.

Charlotte threw herself on her bed, staring at the ceiling, her hair a tangled mess around her as a lonesome tear fell down her cheek. Without thinking, I sat beside her, removing a loose strand of hair away from her face.

“Do you want to talk about it?”

“You wouldn’t understand. Hell, even I don’t understand.”

“No, but I’ll listen. That’s the least I can offer.”

She wiped her sleeve across her cheek. “You think I’d be used to it by now, you know, my parents being separated. Mom’s here, and I should be grateful they can sit in the same room together…” She paused as if she was trying to find the right words. “I just don’t understand how you promise that ‘in sickness and in health,’ ‘till death us do part’ that you’ll be with one person. How do you hurt someone you’re supposed to love? Dad’s hurting, I know he is, but he’s too proud to show it. My mom doesn’t understand. He still loves her, though he has a crappy way of showing it. She doesn’t look at him the way she used to, or maybe she never did. All she talks about is the past, the big bad wolf, or she refers to them as the dark angels. How they come into your life and steal what’s yours, your heart and soul. I figured out a long time ago it wasn’t my dad. He didn’t steal her heart… someone else did. She never let it go, and now, my poor dad…” she trails off.

“Charlotte, if it’s not meant to be, then maybe your dad is better off. Give him the chance to find someone who’ll love him the way he deserves to be loved.”

She sits up in a rush, leaning on her elbows for support with overly bright eyes staring back at me. “So, you’re telling me it’s okay to make these promises, place rings on each other’s fingers, make vows before God, your family, and friends, only to walk away when something better comes along?”

Sitting so close to her, I couldn’t help but feel this overwhelming need to touch her, to hold her in my arms. Her honesty and compassion astounded me. She wore her heart on her sleeve, and I wanted nothing more than to place it in my hands and promise to cherish it for the rest of my life. With her big brown eyes staring back at me, my heart began racing, not because I was afraid but because it felt right, and that alone was the most terrifying part. She instilled honesty in me, and I had no choice but to express how I felt—how she made me feel.

“Not something better, Charlotte. Something right,” I whispered, my gaze fixated on her. “And yes, I’d walk away if that’s what you’re asking.”


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