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Chasing Love: Chapter 39

LEX

Present

There are certain moments in my life I’ll never forget, a moment destined to be engrained in my memory, and no measure of time will erase them.

This is one of those moments.

Charlotte walks toward me, and almost as if I’m suspended in time, her beauty hypnotizes me. The red dress she’s wearing is simple but elegant, accentuating her stunning figure. Her long brown hair flows down and nestles over her shoulder to one side with the soft tendrils framing her beautiful face. Her eyes mirror mine, shining bright as her smile radiates across her face, one that reaches her eyes.

I’m never one to be rendered speechless, but her beauty continues to astound me. For tonight, she’ll be mine, although I know I have agreed to be friends.

My desperation to keep her in my life despite the circumstances will prove extremely difficult. I can’t reach out and touch her, even though she’s beside me. There will be no invading her personal life and asking if she broke it off with him—I’m probably going to bite my way through my lips on that one. I’ve always controlled what I do, nobody dictates terms for me, but here I am nine years later trying to start a friendship with the girl who is my reason for breathing. How the fuck am I going to get through tonight without mauling her in the car?

“Are you trying to kill me, Charlotte?”

“I’m not sure what you’re referring to, but since your eyes have not left this dress, my answer is no. I happen to really like this dress, and a friend wouldn’t kill another friend, now would they?” She bats her eyelashes, turning on the charm.

“So, yes, you’re trying to kill me.”

Inside the car, we sit with the middle seat vacant between us. Every now and then, a soft breeze will come my way, and her scent lingers causing all sorts of discomfort. This is harder than I thought, and it’s only been twenty minutes.

“So where are you taking me tonight?”

“You’ll see.”

I choose to keep our destination a secret, although I know she’s desperate to know. Instead, she sits quietly watching the city pass us by. Upon arrival at the dock, she narrows her eyes, grimacing, before turning to me for answers.

“Now, will you tell me?”

The car stops, and I exit to open her door, taking her hand as she climbs out.

“You see that yacht over there?” I point out.

“The one marked with ducks?”

“No, Charlotte. The one behind it.”

With a slack mouth, her eyes widen when she finally sees the yacht. Mr. Vandercamp was kind enough to lend to me on the night of the charity ball as he wasn’t sure how much longer he’d have it for.

“OMG, Lex, it’s huge!”

“Thanks, I’m glad you think so.”

She gently punches my arm, knowing all too well I couldn’t let that comment slide.

We walk down to the dock where the captain greets us, then we board the yacht and take a seat by the sail. As we begin to head out to sea, Charlotte relaxes her shoulders, the ocean breeze messing her beautifully styled hair. It doesn’t seem to faze her, and I welcome the chilled vibe as we both quietly watch the city pass us by.

The captain finds a spot to dock. With a steady hold of her hand, I lead her to the deck where a dinner table is set up. Okay, so I went a bit overboard and had a candlelit dinner waiting. Money can do wonderful things for your sex life.

“Lex,” she gasps.

I usher her to take a seat and slide in her chair. A waiter appears from the lower deck, serving us wine, then reads through the different courses he’ll begin serving shortly before scurrying back to the kitchen.

“This is amazing, but you know this seems more like a date than a friendly dinner,” she teases.

“Well, you might be my first friend, so I’m not sure what’s classified as dating or friendship. I don’t date women, and I don’t have friends.”

“Lex, that’s ridiculous. Of course, you have friends, and please… like you haven’t dated anyone in eight years.”

“I never have time for friends. Work is my life. Yes, there are people who perhaps could be called a friend, but I’m not running around town with BFFs or whatever you kids call it these days.”

“And dating? Surely, you’ve had sex in eight years.”

“I never said I didn’t have sex. I said I didn’t date.”

“Oh.”

“Spit it out,” I command.

“Spit what out?”

“Whatever it is you’re going to ask me because I know you, your face is so obvious.”

“It’s nothing. It is just something Nikki said, and trust me, it probably isn’t something you want to discuss.”

“Okay, well, now you have me curious.

“Lex, trust me, you don’t want to discuss this.”

“No, Charlotte, you said we were friends. Friends share details of matters close to their hearts.”

She hesitates while I tap my foot impatiently. We have all night, and isn’t the whole point of this ‘friends’ thing to try to get to know each other again?

“Nikki thought that if we’re going to be friends and be open with each other, we should start by giving each other our sexual numbers. This isn’t my idea, and I warned you.”

Fuck. I didn’t see that coming, and now it’s all I can think about. I don’t even know how many women I’ve been with, but most importantly, my stomach churns thinking about her number. Charlotte’s hot, she can have any man she desires. Of course, her list is massive. No, wait, but she isn’t like that.

Why the hell did I push her to open up to me?

“I told you so.” She smirks, crossing her arms.

“What’s your number?” I ask, gritting my teeth.

What number would make me happy? Fucking zero but fat fucking chance. She’s engaged to him.

I curl my fist into a ball, trying my best not to smash the bottle in front of me. Control your anger.

“I don’t have a death wish. We need to get off this topic.”

“Answer me, Charlotte,” I demand in a low voice. “You want to be honest? This is your chance. Besides, what’s the worst I can do?”

The question doesn’t have an answer. I’ve done many things in my life, many of which I am not proud of. I’ve seen things, know people in the underground world, and if there’s a chance I can lose the one thing in my life which means more to me than anything I’ll do whatever it takes, whether that be good or bad.

“Not as many as you think, so drop it.”

“Number.”

“Fine! Five. Are you happy now?”

Anger wells inside my chest. Flexing my fingers, I take a deep breath willing myself to calm down. I can’t lose her now, not over my behavior.

“No, I’m not, Charlotte. Why would I ever be happy that someone else had their hands on you?”

“Okay, so give me yours? I can take it. I’m a big girl. Like what? Over a hundred?”

I have no clue because I never cared, I never asked names, never spent the night or cuddled or did any shit like that. I wore fucking condoms and sent them on their merry way. “Let’s drop it.”

“Bullshit. If I had to tell you then it’s only fair.”

“Charlotte, I don’t know. Sex was just that, meaningless sex. No attachments, no names, no more than one time.”

“Wow.”

“Wow, what?”

“I don’t know.” She lowers her head. “I mean, of course, you had sex… but ouch.”

“Look at me, Charlotte.” I cup her chin, raising her eyes to meet mine. “I fucking missed you, and it hurt like hell. I thought they would make me forget, but they didn’t. If I could have my way it will only be you for the rest of my life, but I’m not the one calling the shots here.”

Charlotte sits in silence, nervously fiddling with the pendant I gave her. The silence is deafening, so I do the only thing a jerk like me would do, I turn the conversation back to her, back to that number five.

“So, five then?”

“Lex, don’t… please.”

“But we’re friends, and there’s no point in keeping things from each other. Who were they?”

“Seriously, you’re going to turn this on me. I’m not the one who screwed all of the United States.”

“Charlotte, please don’t. I’m sorry.”

“Well, you know what?” she starts, her eyes burn with a raging flame. “Since you asked the question, here goes. It took me two years and twenty-six days after you left me to be able to kiss someone else. Exactly three years and eighty-six days since the day you left me for me to have sex with another man. And even then, every person I was with, the whole five of them, was to escape the very fucking shitty hole you left me in.”

Her words cut me deep, all of her actions are premeditated because of me. I want to take her in my arms and kiss away all the scars, but jealousy is a force to be reckoned with. It’s ugly, uncontrollable, and in my case—imbedded in me.

Closing my eyes for a brief moment, they spring open with a clearer vision. “Was Justin Timberlake one of the five?”

It takes her a moment, but eventually, just the corners of her mouth I see a small smile appear.

“If he were, I’d have a ring on my finger, and you would be officially having dinner with Mrs. Timberlake.”

“It was a stupid thing for us to bring up, but it’s out in the open, and I’m more than happy to place that in the vault of conversations that never should be brought up again,” I tell her, politely.

“I’m sorry, too, Lex. You’re a guy. I don’t know why it would shock me. I mean, Jesus, look at you. It would have been impossible for you to be celibate.”

“I’m trying here, Charlotte. This is harder than I thought. I can’t deny the fact that I want you, all of you, to be mine.” I hold her hand as I say the words, and she lets me do so for a minute before pulling back.

“I need time, Lex. Please don’t push me.”

I’m a rookie at this relationship stuff. I mean, fuck, I couldn’t even hold down a marriage without having a fucking affair. Some things I have no control over.

The waiter appears again with our starter, the two of us eating quietly, engaging in small chit chat before he returns with the entrée.

“So anyway, I wanted to thank you again for my birthday gift. It means a lot to me.”

Toying with the pendant between her fingers, her gaze shifts toward the sea, an open stare followed by silence. I’m taken aback that she brought the subject up to begin with. Was she ready to talk about whatever it is that’s bothering her?

“I know it means something to you. Otherwise, you wouldn’t get it inked on your skin. You hate needles.” Letting out a small chuckle, I remember the time I had to give her a flu shot.

“True, but over time, I got better. I just needed a reminder that no matter what life throws at you, there’s always time to be reborn and be the best you can be.”

“Well, you’re amazing. I mean, at your age to have accomplished so much given what happened…” I hesitate, unsure of what to say next.

Like her mind is distracted with another thought, I give her a moment not wanting to push her. Moments pass with no words, and eventually I suggest we move up to the main deck.

“So, you live in London? What does your place look like? I bet it’s all minimalistic and hot.” She changes the topic which I welcome.

“It’s cold and unlived in. I live in the penthouse of my building. It’s big, but honestly, I’m rarely there.”

“Okay, so where’s the best place you have visited?”

“Mmm, I’d have to say the Greek Islands.”

“For holiday or work?”

“Always work. We have a new client based in Greece. When I went over, the CEO ensured the meetings were held on the islands, so I got a taste of the market and culture. The people were extremely friendly, and the food was fantastic.”

“Is that why you’re so tanned now?” she mocks with a playful grin.

“That would be thanks to a business trip to Thailand a few months back.”

She giggles, and I’m not sure what’s so funny.

“Um, so Thailand is notorious for ladyboys. They would have been in ladyboy heaven seeing you.”

“Charlotte, I don’t know what you’re implying, but I don’t pay for sex, and I think it’s pretty obvious which ones are boys and which ones are girls.”

“You’d like to think so, right? Just ask Rocky.” She erupts into a ball of laughter holding onto her stomach.

I joined in, but the shock is too much. “No way!”

“He didn’t sleep with one, but his close encounter was enough to send him into hiding for days.”

The thought is hilarious, and we laugh for what feels like forever.

“It’s beautiful out here,” she murmurs, gazing at the stars.

The ocean remains calm. The moon shines bright, and the city lights twinkle on the skyline. It’s one amazing sight, but her sitting beside me makes it a million times better. She shivers slightly, so I remove my jacket then place it around her shoulders. For a moment, she closes her eyes, and when she opens them, she looks content.

We sit there talking about work, tell more funny stories about Rocky and life in general. It’s getting late, and I don’t want the night to end, but the yacht needs to sail back and I have a morning flight.

An hour later we’re standing at the front of her building attempting to say goodbye. Knowing I won’t see her for two whole weeks, I gently tuck a loose curl behind her ear trying to distract myself from the awful feeling forming in the pit of my stomach.

“Thank you for tonight, Lex. I know it didn’t start smoothly, but it ended wonderfully.”

My hand lingers on her cheek. Is she feeling as desperate as I am? I wait for a sign because I’m one impatient motherfucker.

“Charlotte…”

“I have to go.” She hands me my jacket with a smile. “Have a safe trip, Lex.”

As she disappears into her building, I walk back to the car with a heavy weight on my shoulders.

This is much harder than I thought.

Three fucking times I jerked off just to fall asleep. My wrist is twisting in pain, but the damn thing wouldn’t go down after the first or second time. By the third, I’m spent and fall asleep surrounded in tissues.

But that night, I dreamed of Charlotte, her hair blowing against her skin, lying naked beside me. As I leaned forward to kiss her soft lips, I stop, unaware of an obstruction. Lowering my gaze, her stomach is in full bloom.

She’s carrying a baby, and it is mine.

We created a life together.

As the sun rises in the morning, I awake to an empty bed.

Just me, without her, and no closer to the dreams plaguing me in my sleep.


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