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Chasing Love: Chapter 34

LEX

The little blue box sits on my nightstand, a constant reminder of her, tormenting me as I sit in my hotel room just staring at it.

It has taken me most of yesterday morning to pull strings at Tiffany’s to get the diamonds encrusted into the pendant. Thank my fucking lucky stars the manager knows who I am, so after a ton of money was sent their way, it was hand-delivered to my suite. I know this means a lot to her. When I asked her about the tattoo, she brushed it off in typical Charlotte fashion.

When the fuck will she open up to me?

We are huddled in a private area of the restaurant. The room is decorated with emerald balloons—Adriana’s idea, of course. I stand next to Elijah as he’s telling me about a new job he’s starting in Brooklyn.

“So, I’ll be teaching art classes for the youth down at the YMCA. It’ll be a nice change.”

“Sounds good. How are you feeling, though? Are you sure you’re up for it?”

Elijah is the closest person I have to a brother, so my worry is with reason. His cancer scared our family, and there was no way we could lose him. Thankfully, a well-known cancer rehabilitation clinic in Geneva had an opening for him, and even more grateful that one of my clients know the owner, so all I had to do was wave my AMEX, and they suddenly had an opening. I didn’t give a shit about the money, we just needed him to live. He recovered well, but I know he still has to take it easy.

“Much better. You know I owe you my life, right?”

“How about you just take care of my sister and make sure she annoys me less, and we’ll call it even?”

“Deal! But, hey, you know Adriana. I can only promise to try.” Elijah laughs.

We chat amongst ourselves until Julian walks in. Nikki is all over him, grabbing his arm and acting like a love-struck teen. What the fuck? So, she plays nice with him and treats me like the scum of the earth. He walks around greeting everyone, leaving me until last.

“Edwards. Didn’t think I’d see you here.” He shakes my hand. Stupid prick.

“Well, she is my friend, and I was invited.”

Adriana hushes us as she announces Charlotte has arrived. We close the curtain and dim the lights. When we yell surprise, her face is priceless. She sees me then looks at Julian. I know she’s panicking. Good, I think. Maybe now she’ll get rid of him. She looks so fucking hot in her tight black dress with those sexy heels. I want her legs wrapped around me, and I want to taste her sweet pussy on my lips.

But instead, I get a very uninviting embrace.

I wish her a happy birthday, followed by a comment about her dress. I know the effect I have on her. It’s so fucking obvious. It doesn’t stop her from sitting next to that fucker, though. What the fuck can I do? It irritates me to the core that he has his fucking arm draped over her like she’s his property. Not for much longer, buddy. Enjoy your moment of glory because soon you’ll be back on the dating scene wishing you were me.

The group tells stories about how they met Charlotte. It seems everyone at this table means something to Charlotte, even that fucker. I try to be mature. Okay, that’s a fucking lie. I’m ready to get all UFC on him, so I do the only thing I can—I flirt with the little blonde chick beside me. I laugh, pretending to be engrossed in her story about her trip to Cancun. It’s so obvious she’s flattered with my attention, constantly pushing her tits together to show me her non-existent cleavage.

Charlotte is becoming more jealous, and when she decides revenge is the way to go and leans into him, I fucking leave. I may have damaged the toilet stall in the bathroom by kicking it, but fuck, she knows exactly how to press my buttons. Surely, she realizes I have an anger-management problem. After calming myself down as much as I can, I run outside the bathroom and into Charlotte.

She asks me what my problem is. I warn her, but she doesn’t want to listen. I have no choice. I need her. It has been too long. The taste of her lips feels like heaven on earth. Her skin entices me, the smell driving me insane. It drives my addiction further, and I can’t hold back.

I know we’re fucking in a restaurant bathroom, but I have never wanted her so badly, partially blaming the dress. Charlotte makes me feel things no other woman has, and fuck, the way she takes my cock deep in her mouth—I’m ready to blow right then and there. Goddamn, the girl has skills.

She looks up at me through her lashes, her eyes are pure lust. The sight leaves me speechless, but I need more. So, I grab Charlotte and fuck her hard against the door. I hold back as long as I can, that is, until she said I was hers.

She belongs to me.

She said it from her own mouth.

The first thing that registers is that I need to blow in her pussy right now. As the waves of intensity subside, her words echo in my mind, and I like what I heard. No, I love what I heard until she does a complete one-eighty on me and takes it all back.

We fight over everything. Every time we fuck, we argue afterward, making me want her even more. I try to clear my head. There’s no way I’m walking out with another hard-on.

I head back to the table and avoid eye contact with her. Willing our fight to blow over, a vicious cycle we constantly find ourselves in, I sit there chatting with Rocky about sports. He actually turns out to be a pretty neat guy, but too bad his wife is a stuck-up bitch. Adriana interrupts us by shoving the karaoke book in front of me.

“C’mon, Lex, just one song,” she pleads.

“You know I don’t sing in front of crowds.”

“Stop being a fool. You know you have a fucking awesome voice. Just do it.”

“I never said I didn’t. I just don’t want to sing in front of a crowd. You know it’s not my thing.”

Eric announces it is gift time, thank God, so Adriana is momentarily distracted. I have to admit, Charlotte got some amazing gifts. The heels again didn’t help my obsession with her legs. When Nikki gave her all this kinky shit, I couldn’t help but send her a text. I know she’s avoiding me, I mean Christ, she just had me in her mouth, then I fucked her until she came. She probably still has my cum dripping out of her pussy. Fuck, if that doesn’t stir things up again. I take the opportunity to rub my cock as she bends down to pick up her phone. I know she saw, she couldn’t have come back up any more flushed. I turn away, unable to hide the smirk on my face.

“Time to open your gift from Lex,” Adriana says eagerly.

Charlotte looks apprehensive. I walk over to her and wish her a happy birthday. As I hand her the box, she slowly takes it from me. I want her to know how much she means to me, and that I want to find a way to heal us. I watch closely as she pulls out the phoenix pendant and necklace from the box.

She holds it in her hands, and if you look close enough, you can see her hands trembling. Charlotte thanks me, then stands up to hug me, real tight. I’m taken aback by how long she holds on for. I know this bird represents something significant in her life. I have googled the meaning. To be reborn, new beginnings. Did she get the tattoo after I left her? I want to ask, but if I push again, chances are I’ll lose her, or she will go running into the arms of pretty-boy beside her.

I take the pendant from her hand and motion for her to turn around as I fasten the clip. The phoenix sits perfectly on her chest. Her heart is beating fast, I can see her chest rising and falling.

The party continues, and several times I catch Charlotte in a daze touching the phoenix. It isn’t until a short time later that Julian stands up and walks out. She follows him, but I’m not angry like last time. He looks pissed, and maybe a little defeated. He has ever since the comic-book story. He’d have to be the stupidest moron not to see something is going on between us. I mean, I fucked her in the bathroom. She smells like my cock. What more evidence does he need?

In the meantime, I have an idea. She won’t talk, and therefore will not listen, but music means more. I’ll find the courage to sing, despite the nerves of doing it in front of a crowd.

“Great, Lex,” Adriana squeals when I tell her. “What song?”

I don’t answer her. Instead, I get up and walk over to the stage and speak to the head of the band. I ask him if I can borrow their piano. Charlotte is seated at the table, her expression confused. I don’t know what happened outside, but it’s time.

I sit at the piano, taking in a deep breath. I position my fingers over the keys, the lights dim, and my heart is going a thousand miles a minute. The crowd cheers loudly, and somehow, somewhere, I find my voice.

The words flow freely as do my fingers along the keys. I know she has to have known this song, my eyes focus on her as I sing, and she sits there, still. I want her to know how I feel, how much pain I’m in, how much regret I have about leaving her, and that it’s always been and will always be her.

The crowd erupts into a roar followed by whistles. I stand and then walk down the stairs. I’m stopped by a few cougars on the way back to our table, something that Rocky can’t help but comment on.

“Excellent job, man,” he says, leaning in closer. “Did you see the MILF in the red dress? Holy mother of—

Nikki slaps the back of his head, and I can’t help but laugh.

Charlotte is sitting quietly, her eyes never leaving mine like she’s about to say something. I wish I could read her mind. Fuck, am I finally getting through to her? She leans over and whispers something to Eric. He quickly gets up and walks over to the man organizing the music.

I watch her knock back a whole glass of sangria, and almost instantly, she looks calmer. Eric and Charlotte’s names are called, and they make their way to the stage. I can’t help but admire her stunning figure as she walks past me. Those emerald green pumps look amazing against her tanned legs. I grab her wrist as she walks past. “Good luck, Charlotte,” I offer.

Her gaze meets mine again like she’s searching for something, but I have no clue because she will not tell me. Eric ushers her along, and they walk onto the stage. Her body appearing more relaxed.

Yes, she’s fucking drunk.

I recognize the song almost immediately. Her voice is angelic, and she closes her eyes as she sings her part. I sit and stare, taking in every word as she begins to sing ‘Just Give Me A Reason.

Eric sings the male part, but I begin to tune out, lost in a stream of emotions.

Is this how she feels?

That we are broken.

I push the thought away.

Of course, we can be fixed, it’s us, after all. This isn’t some high school fling. If I were the one who broke us by leaving, then what exactly does she need from me to fix us?

The crowd cheers and whistles as the song finishes. The words were plain and simple. We can learn to love again, and we aren’t broken.

At least I acknowledge the mistakes I made and keep making. At least I’m trying. She has to see that or else she wouldn’t have so openly sung this song.

Charlotte comes back to the table and plonks herself on her chair. Eric pours her some sangria, why the fuck for I have no idea. She needs to stop drinking.

As she continues to gaze at me, I watch her, not knowing who will break eye contact first, it’s like we’re both trying to read each other’s mind. I’m the first one to look away only because a lady beside me asks for a light to which I politely indicate that I don’t smoke.

Music plays, and the crowd gets up to dance. The atmosphere is relaxed. Sangria is deadly—it creeps up on you when you least expect it. Adriana and Elijah are on the dance floor. Eric is teaching the tourists how to do the Macarena which, I have to admit, is worth watching. Nikki and Rocky disappear, but their belongings are still here. A quickie in the bathroom, no doubt.

“Leexxx,” Charlotte slurs her words as she comes and sits on my lap.

“Charlotte, you’re drunk.”

“No, I’m not. I’m just really, really, really, happy, you know?” She smiles as she takes another drink.

“Enough sangria for you.”

I pull the glass away, but she whines.

“Nooo, Leexxx… look, I’m fineee. See, I even like you right now.”

“So, you didn’t like me before?”

“Nooo, I hated you… hated you for leaving me alone… leaving us.”

“You hated me, Charlotte?” I ask cautiously.

She wraps her hands around my neck and pulls me in close, smelling my skin.

“Of course, I hated you… but now I like you again.” She kisses my forehead, then smiles. My arms wrap around her waist, holding onto her as she struggles to compose herself.

“What do you mean by us, Charlotte?”

“You and me, us.” Her tone changes. “Let’s dance… please, Lex.”

She jumps off my lap and drags me onto the dance floor. We dance, and she holds onto me tight. She sings to me, and I sing back to her. It’s our only way of speaking to each other. I can’t even remember what the song is because I’m so lost in this moment with her. The band announces it’s the last song of the night, so what do they play? Whitney Houston. I let Charlotte have her fun with the girls as they dance all ‘80s like to the music.

I walk back to the table and find Eric, Rocky, and Elijah laughing while looking at me.

“What?”

“Why can’t you guys just kiss and make up already?” Eric laughs.

“Or kiss and fuck already,” Rocky chimes in.

“Oh wait, too late, you guys have already done that,” Elijah chides.

“Funny, you guys. Since the three of you are so interested, why don’t you ask Charlotte the same questions?”

“Dude, she’ll have my balls if I ask her that.”

“I thought Nikki already wore those as earrings,” I sarcastically answer.

“Ohhh, snap!” Eric cheers.

“Sorry, man, but he has a point. Why the fuck are you so whipped, anyway?” Elijah jokes.

“Dude, my wife’s hot. She’s my baby-momma, plus she’s as kinky as shit in the bedroom. There was this one time—” Nikki comes up behind him and pinches his ear like a naughty first- grader.

“What were you saying about me?”

“Uh, nothing… that you’re beautiful… a great mother and a gentle person.”

Eric almost spits out his sangria. I hide my laughter behind the wine glass in my hand. Elijah tries his best to keep a straight face but is failing miserably.

“I’ll deal with you later,” she responds in a commanding tone.

Rocky’s eyes light up, his hands rubbing together with delight.

“Okay, I’m outty, you guys,” Eric chirps. “My friend texted me and turns out a really hot model was seen at a club. I’m just waiting to find out where.” He continues texting on his phone, faster than the speed of light. Charlotte and Adriana come back to the table, both of them looking relaxed and chilled.

“You ready to go, babe?” Adriana askes Elijah.

“Ready when you are, princess,” Elijah murmurs.

“Dude, I ain’t the only one without balls.” Rocky chuckles.

“What can I say? I’m the luckiest guy alive…” he pauses then continues, “… with no balls.”

Adriana snuggles by his side and says goodbye to everyone. Then she quickly pulls me aside. “Are you okay, Lex?”

“Yes, I am. Please take Elijah home and do whatever it is you young kids do these days.”

“Well, actually we were thinking—”

“Adriana, it’s an expression. I don’t want to know.”

She hugs me tight. “I love you, big brother.”

“Love you, too, lil’ sis.”

She may be a royal pain in my ass, but I can’t have asked for a better sister. I don’t know how I’d function without her sometimes. She also comes to the rescue whenever I need her, and she’s the only one who will put up with all my shit. I’ve been an asshole to her, something I now regret.

“Charlie, you wanna come home with us?” Nikki asks.

“Uh, no thanks. You kinky fuckers will kill my buzz.”

“I’ll take you home,” I offer.

“I think she’s safer with us,” Nikki argues.

“Since she’s my friend, I’m sure I can get her home safely.” I stress the ‘friend’ part since Nikki is such a fucking bitch.

“Babe, he can take her. So, tomorrow night, yeah? Yankee Stadium?”

“I’ll send a car to your place, and we can go together.”

“Sweet, bro.”

They say goodbye, and I take Charlotte’s hand as she struggles to walk. Her eyes are glassy, but she still looks so beautiful. I just pray she won’t puke all over me.

“I can take myself home, you know. This isn’t the first time I’ve partied like it’s 1999.”

I don’t say anything. There’s no point. We walk outside, and I hail a cab. I manage to get her inside after an incoherent argument about being an independent woman, giving the driver her address, and we are on our way.

It’s only a fifteen-minute cab ride, and part of me feels curious. I’ll finally see the place she lives in. I know that no matter what I see it will represent her. It may have been only fifteen minutes, but she’s passed out by the time we arrive. I carry her out of the cab and to the entrance of her building. Her doorman is a pleasant old man who greets me as I step out.

“Ahh, Miss Mason… what trouble has she gotten herself into?”

“I’m sorry, sir. Would you mind letting us in? I don’t feel comfortable rummaging through Charlotte’s purse. You know women these days with all the junk they carry. Plus, I don’t want to wake her.”

“Here’s the spare. Would you kindly bring it back down on your way out?” He hands me the key. He must know her well, I think.

“Thank you. Of course, I will.”

We arrive at her floor. I manage to open her front door and switch on a light. Before I can stop and take it all in, I find my way through the hallway until I reach what I assume is her bedroom. Opening the door, my assumption is correct.

Her perfectly made bed sits in the middle of the room as I gently lay her down, sliding her shoes off and covering her with the blanket. She lays peacefully, curled in a ball. Her gentle breathing is the only sound inside the room. She looks peaceful, breathtaking, and I dare not wake her for my own selfish reasons.

There’s a faint sound of a cat, and in the shadows, it appears from behind the curtain and climbs onto the bed beside her. I decide not to pet it, just in case it attacks me for being a stranger in her home.

My eyes move around the room. It feels warm, decoratively speaking. She has a large vanity with all these perfumes and girly shit perfectly positioned and neatly organized. Shit, she’s just as fucking anal as me. On her nightstand is a lamp, dock, and a book. The room is slightly lit, so I open the page that’s bookmarked.

Fuck, it’s like porn. I chuckle slightly, placing the book down before it causes a problem I’m unable to satisfy.

I place her purse on her nightstand and take out her phone in case she needs it, noticing a text on the screen.

Batman: You know we’ve got something good, Charlie. You even said it yourself in your office on Thursday. You know where to find me. I love you, Charlie Mason. I want you to be my wife, don’t ever doubt that.

What the fuck? So, the day after I fought with her, she runs to him. Again. I can’t stop myself, I go into her messages, reading the trail of their conversation.

Batman: Happy birthday, gorgeous. Sorry, I can’t make dinner tonight, but I’ll be free afterward The bat cave is ready… and so am I, baby. I just want to taste you again, feel myself inside you. Stay over and just maybe you’ll get breakfast in bed, just the way you like it.

I sit on the edge of the bed, bowing my head while clutching the phone. My heart is racing, rage pulsing through my veins.

Is she still fucking him?

I want to shake her, wake her up, and demand she answer.

It isn’t only the anger taking over me, it’s the jealousy that he touched her, he’d been inside her, and he gets to wake up with her. Something we have never experienced.

Even back in the day, we were always trying to be discreet. Not once did I have the honor to hold her in my arms all night and wake up beside her. This becomes too much for me to handle. I’m not thinking rationally, raw emotions controlling me, and I need to leave before the damage becomes irreversible.

I stand up to walk away as she slurs her words.

“Lex, I love you… please don’t leave us.”

Us, there’s that word again. I love you. How I’ve longed to hear those words come out of her mouth.

I want it to be real, desperately needing her eyes to connect with mine when she says the words my heart needs to hear again.

With my shoulders fallen, defeated by the long night, I decide to leave the room but stop inside the living area. It’s a cozy room with a ton of books on the shelves and a wall filled with frames. I walk over and look at each picture. She looks happy in every one of them, not like the miserable girl I supposedly left behind.

There’s one black and white photograph capturing my interest. She’s laying her head on the lap of an older lady, sitting on a porch swing. Charlotte is covered with one of those homemade crocheted blankets. She appears gaunt, her eyes almost black, but there’s a hint of a smile. The older lady rests her hand on her cheek. It must be her grandmother she spoke about.

And just one look at this picture cements the damage I caused. I failed us as she put it.

I’m an idiot to think we could’ve so easily gone back to the way things were.

I’ll never stop wanting Charlotte, but I don’t know how to fix us. For now, I need a break to clear my head and think about the right way to make us one again.

There’s no doubt that being around her causes a massive problem—we either argue, or I fuck her. And neither one of those things gets us any closer to a resolution.

I close the door behind me, leaving her apartment, my head riddled with guilt.

Back at the hotel, I finish the bottle of Jack Daniels, unsteadily opening another bottle, knowing the addiction of the drink will land me in serious trouble.

The guilt now turns into resentment, and anger rises within me like a tide.

With my phone in hand I call Bryce, excusing my call in the middle of the night, willing he’ll dig up some dirt for me.

“Are you sure, Mr. Edwards?”

With my chest tight and vision compromised from the hard liquor seeping through my veins, I stare at the blank wall, my lips curving upward into a satisfied smirk.

I want Julian gone.

And now, there’s no stopping me.


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