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Chasing Love: Chapter 20

CHARLIE

Nine Years Ago

Charlie, do you want to talk about it?”

What was there to talk about? I hadn’t slept. My mom decided to take off again in the middle of the night, leaving my dad to worry relentlessly about her. No note, no nothing. Just her belongings gone. How could I understand? I hadn’t been in love before nor had I been married. My opinion didn’t matter even though my life had been turned upside down once again by the two people who were supposed to protect me.

“Not tonight, Adriana.”

I examined my eyes in the mirror. The dark circles were impossible to hide.

“So, listen, since you look like sex on legs, we need to discuss some sort of signal in case you want to get some nookie-nookie.”

“Adriana, did you just say nookie-nookie? Okay, grandma…”

“You know Finn will be here,” she teased.

Here we go again.

If I had a dollar for every time this topic was brought up, I could buy, well, a new pair of Converse. Finn and I had a fling last year after being friends forever. It resulted in us losing our virginity down at the beach. It wasn’t the best place to lose it, mainly because there was sand everywhere. So, I was in no rush to try that again after what could only go down as the worst first time in history. We tried again a month after in his bed, and unfortunately, it was no better than before. There was no sand but also no spark, plus it was damn awkward. He was huge, and I was small, so it just kind of hurt.

I wasn’t sure what the big deal was, especially when I was fully capable of helping myself. Adriana would tell me how wonderful it was to be in love, but she had Elijah, and he’s all she could think about.

“Honestly, he is a great guy, he’s my best friend,” I told her, pulling my skin beneath my eyes to make it look more presentable. It didn’t work, the bags were there to stay. “Stop trying to play matchmaker. If anyone needs the signal, it will be you.”

“I thought I was your best friend?”

“Jealousy looks striking on you,” I mocked, with a sardonic grin. “You know what I mean.”

The doorbell rang, and I had never seen Adriana run so fast. She could’ve qualified for the Olympics at the rate she was going. I opened the bedroom door to hear muffled voices. It was Elijah.

I had learned my lesson—give them five minutes before entering the room.

I checked my phone and saw a message from Finn. I quickly responded knowing Adriana would be ecstatic. In her eyes, the more, the merrier. I thought of the aftermath, the cleaning tomorrow morning. Her parents only agreed to this if the house was back to its original condition by ten o’clock the next morning. I didn’t know how Adriana expected to pull it off, but I had no doubt, she’d make me haul some serious cleaning ass.

After ten minutes, I decided to head downstairs. They must’ve finished their make-out session by now.

“Adriana!” I yelled as I raced down the stairs. “Finn said the guys are coming, too.”

Landing in the kitchen, I was surprised to be greeted by Alex and Samantha. My eyes locked into his. Samantha was sitting on his lap.

Everything I felt in the past week had slapped me right in the face. They were here as a married couple. That’s right, married, I had to keep reminding myself. Suddenly, our flirtatious texts seemed foolish and adolescent. What was I thinking? I had no right lusting after a married guy.

But something felt different like it was more than just a crush. He acted different. I couldn’t explain it, but I knew I had no choice but to snap out of it.

“Charlotte, nice to see you again. This is my wife, Samantha,” he introduced her as I awkwardly stood there not knowing what to say.

Samantha was stunning with long, silky, golden blonde hair stopping just beneath her breasts. Her eyes, azul colored, gleaming as she holds onto her husband, caressing his chin with a loving gaze. Adriana’s description didn’t do her justice, neither did the photographs at their house. I reached out my hand to shake hers, but instead, she jumped off his lap and pulled me into a hug.

“Finally, I get to meet you. Adriana talks nonstop about you. It’ll be good to have another friend in this boring, miserable place,” she squealed, holding me too tightly.

I looked at Alex, unsure of what to say. His face was just as confused as mine.

“Oh, wow. Nice meeting you, too, Samantha.”

“Call me Sam, please,” she said, adjusting the hem of her dress. “Samantha is what my parents call me, and this guy when he wants to act formal.”

I forced a smile. “Okay… Sam.”

Thankfully, the doorbell rang, so I excused myself to mingle with some of the guests. As soon as I was out of the kitchen, I took a moment to gather my thoughts, letting out the huge breath I had been holding.

I hated that she was a beautiful woman, and together, they would make beautiful babies. Although I had turned eighteen already, I had never felt so young. I needed to hang out with my own kind and shake myself of these impure thoughts.

The house was filling up, and I started recognizing a lot of people from school. I did my best-friend duty and greeted the guests. Most were already into the punch I assumed had been spiked, and the speakers were blaring the latest pop song. I had been humming along to the beat when I felt a pair of bulky arms wrap themselves around my waist.

“Finn!”

I turned around as he hugged me tight, lifting me. I missed him. He was one of my best friends despite our awkward history. I wrapped my arms around his neck, and behind him, I noticed Alex standing with Elijah. Alex looked at me strangely, almost angry.

Finn put me down, the grin on his face contagious. “Charlie, I’ve missed you. You never visit me anymore,” he complained.

“I know, I know. I’ve missed you, too, Finn. Come on, let’s get a drink.”

We walked over to the drinks table. Finn grabbed a cup of punch, and his facial expression said it all. Yep, it had been spiked, but thankfully, Finn could hold his booze. I, on the other hand, didn’t want a repeat of the last eighteenth birthday party I went to. I grabbed a bottle of Coke, knowing I’d probably be the only sober one here.

Finn put our drinks down and pulled me onto the makeshift dance floor. He had the moves and I’d always enjoyed dancing with him. He grabbed my waist and pulled me into him, then I rubbed myself against his thigh. This is what we did. We didn’t care that people thought we were a couple. We were just having fun.

Once the song had finished, and I pulled away from Finn, out of breath I said, “I’m going to check on Adriana. Behave, Finn.”

I found her standing in the kitchen with Sam, pouring Grey Goose into a new batch of punch.

Alex was standing at the corner doing something with his phone. I made a conscious effort to avoid contact with him at all costs. He was acting weird, and I had no idea why.

“Hey, Char,” she greeted a bit too cheerfully.

“Adriana, why are you spiking the punch? Did we not learn from the last party?”

“Oh, lighten up, Char. I’m eighteen now. Woo!”

This was like a bad scene straight out of Girls Gone Wild.

“So, Charlie, Adriana tells me you and Finn…” Sam teased. Alex instantly looked up from his phone, his face enraged as he gazed at me. “You looked pretty cozy on the dance floor.”

It was so awkward to have this conversation in front of Alex. I felt the need to defend myself.

“It’s not like that. We’re great friends. Have been since we were born.”

Adriana laughed loudly, the punch in full effect. I sensed that what she was about to say would not paint the best picture of me. “Please, Char, good friends don’t just lose their virginity to each other.”

Alex shot me a fierce glare before leaving the room, almost stomping out.

What was his problem?

“Adriana, I can’t believe you said that out loud,” I berated her. “My personal life isn’t up for discussion with everyone.”

I left the room to look for Alex. I wanted to know what his problem was. I continued searching the house but couldn’t find him. Searching the gardens—still no sign of him. Then I walked onto the street where, under the pale moonlight, I saw his shadow leaning against his Jeep.

“Alex?”

He turned around, his face softening as he saw me. I leaned against the car as well, knowing it was best that I didn’t make eye contact with him.

“Alex, did I do something to make you angry? I’m sorry about that conversation in the kitchen. I didn’t particularly want my sex life announced to the whole world. Adriana will get an earful from me tomorrow,” I joked, trying to lighten this tension between us.

Pressing his lips together with a slight grimace, he asked, “So, it’s true?”

“What’s true?”

“You and Finn are an item?”

“No, we aren’t. I told you, I don’t have a boyfriend.”

“So what? You’re fuck buddies, then? It sure looked like it when you were dancing.”

His hands caught my attention. His fists were clenched, knuckles stark white even in the darkness. I didn’t get why he was so fucking angry, and it was now making me angry. I was shocked at his response. What did he care, anyway? He was married, he had a wife to go home to. Why would my sex life bother him in the slightest?

“First of all, we aren’t fuck buddies. We did it twice over a year ago. It wasn’t good, so we never did it again. Second of all, he’s a good friend, and yes, we like to have fun. It’s harmless. Besides, both of us agree we’re better as friends. And lastly, why would you care? Are you worried I’m going to have unprotected sex like the rest of the teenagers here and get knocked up before graduation?”

“Charlotte, it’s just… you—”

“What about me?”

Without warning, he leaned over, his lips crashing against my own. I could taste his desperation as it was mirroring mine. My head was screaming at me to stop, but my body was aching for it. His hands were now cupping my face, but I wanted more. I needed him to touch every part of me. I grabbed his jacket, pulling him closer to me, the kiss becoming more intense, his tongue searching for more. I wanted to give him everything right then and there. I didn’t want to stop. My heart was beating fast, and my body felt like it was on fire.

He quickly pulled back, a look of shock on his face.

No, no! Please don’t regret it.

His pupils were dilated like an animal ready to attack, but slowly, his eyes stared down at the ground, his posture crumpling. Laying his hand flat on his thigh, the gold band blinded me—a symbol of love and devotion.

What we just did was very wrong.

“Charlotte, I’m so sorry. I shouldn’t have done that… I’m m-married,” he stammered.

Biting down on my lip, my body turned numb. How could something so wrong feel so right? I needed to get away quickly, erase the mistake we had just made. I ran back inside, leaving him alone under the watchful eyes of the stars.

When I got back inside the crowded house, my heart was still beating fast, adrenaline running through my veins. I found the drink table again and knocked back a cup of punch. There, that felt better, but shit that vodka was strong. I felt the warmth spreading through my body, instantly calming my anxious nerves.

“Charlie, where have you been? I scored with the hot chick from your school, but I don’t know her name.” Finn motioned for me to look at his left. There were a few girls dancing on the dance floor, the girl with the short red hair making eyes with Finn.

“That’s Jennifer. She’s in my English class,” I told him, trying my best to block out the kiss for just a second to no avail.

“Well, damn, she can really put out. No offense, Charlie.”

I shook my head, patting his arm. “Absolutely none taken.”

The lights dimmed even further as Elijah brought out the birthday cake. The crowd started singing ‘Happy Birthday.’ I stood there, suddenly feeling very self-conscious. Sam stood beside Adriana, singing loudly. On her right stood Alex, his eyes locked on mine. I could feel his gaze penetrating me, those beautiful emerald eyes that took me in under the stars.

I yearned to tell him that I had been thinking about him nonstop since the night I ran into him in the kitchen. That every night I’d lie awake imagining his kisses, his touch, and that I have made myself climax imagining him inside me, pushing me over the edge.

And now that I’d had a taste of him, I was scared I couldn’t stop.

It had consumed me.

He had me, heart and soul, all in that one kiss.


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