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Chasing Love: Chapter 47

CHARLIE

Present

The ride back seems fast.

I checked the speedometer a few times, and he was way over the legal limit. When we got back to the property, it’s more than obvious Lex has an attitude with me. He told me he’s tired and headed to bed. I didn’t dare follow him. Instead, I sat on the porch knowing that I’m well and truly in the wrong. Yes, I am still hurt, but I have no right to trample all over his obviously hurt feelings even though I had no idea guys could be offended like that.

Somehow, I have to make this right, but the weight of tonight’s events feels enormous. I drag my sorry ass to bed and fall asleep just before sunrise.

I feel my body moving like I’m lying on a trampoline. What the hell is this dream about? It happens again, but this time I open my eyes. There’s jumping, and it’s waking me up from my deep slumber. I’m just about to yell when it dawns on me that it’s Will. No, it’s Rocky.

“Rocky, what the fuck?” I groan.

He’s standing on my bed jumping like a fucking four-year-old, except he is making moaning sounds and screaming my name.

“Rocky Romano, get the fuck off my bed!”

I’m beyond exhausted, but he continues jumping until I get up, pushing him off the bed.

“Are you kidding me? Plus, I don’t sound like that… moron.”

He stands up laughing as he walks out of the room scratching his ass.

I decide to have a quick shower to wake myself up, but a quick shower turns into a much longer one as I may have accidentally fallen asleep in there sitting on the floor. I finally get dressed and head to the kitchen.

The house is quiet, and I wonder what everyone is up to.

“Morning, Elijah. Where is everyone? Apart from gorilla over here,” I chastise, pointing to Rocky who’s doing the maze on the back of the cereal box. He lets out a big, “No,” when he realizes it’s a dead-end. Seriously, even Will could have done that with his eyes closed.

“Adriana and Nikki went to the markets, and Lex and Will are playing on the beach.”

I quickly eat a piece of toast and head out to the beach. A few minutes later, I stand there by the bushes watching Lex play football with Will. He looks so content teaching Will how to kick, the laughter coming off them when Will tackles Lex. At that moment, my heart breaks a little.

Is this all my fault?

Yes, Lex left me, but I made it nearly impossible for him to find me again.

He did what was expected of him back then, and I acted like a spoiled teen annoyed that he chose someone else.

He’s different now, he truly is a man.

A wonderful man.

He has given me no reason at all not to trust him. So why do I still have this nagging feeling inside? Lex catches sight of me as I walk down to where they are playing.

“Hi, Cha Cha! Lex taught me how to tackle.”

“I can see. If you go pro, you will make your daddy a very happy man.”

He runs off to where the towels are to grab a drink. It gives us a moment together in which I have no idea what to say. I probably should start by saying sorry since I’m in the wrong.

“Lex, about last night—”

“Nothing left to be said, Charlie. You made your feelings perfectly clear. I’m giving you space and time. I’m not pushing you anymore.”

“You called me Charlie…”

“That’s what everyone else calls you. I’m like everybody else, just a friend,” he answers in an uninviting tone.

The words hurt.

No, he isn’t pushing me, but why all of a sudden do I want to be pushed?

Why do I want him to tell me I’m his and only his?

And most importantly, why do I crave for him to call me Charlotte.

Lex Edwards will never be like everyone else.

Will interrupts us asking to go into the water. I agree, stripping off my clothes wearing only a white ruffled bikini. I catch Lex looking me up and down, admitting it feels nice that he can’t completely ignore me.

We jump into the waves. Will is having the time of his life. Lex piggybacks him, taking him a little further out, which makes me slightly nervous, but there are lifeguards about, so I stop worrying about it. An hour later we decide to head back for lunch. I’m seriously exhausted. I can’t shake this tired feeling and know I’ll have to sneak in a ‘nana nap’ sometime today.

Back at the house we jump into the pool while Elijah grills some burgers. Rocky’s having swimming races with Will. Nikki and Adriana came back from the markets showing off their new sun hats. I swear it’s a hilarious sight, especially because the hats are bigger than the planet Jupiter.

Lex has left, to where I’m not sure.

After lunch, I feel extremely drowsy, so I decide to head to my room to take a nap. I doze off almost instantly only to be awaken by Nikki. It’s a little after four when she wakes me.

“Charlie, are you feeling okay?”

I mumble something then open my eyes. “Yeah, just barely any sleep the past two nights.”

“Plus, I think you may have sunstroke.” She scowls, pulling my tank top aside.

Amid this morning’s mayhem, I forgot to put sunblock on. I groan at the sight of the redness. Hopefully, with an overdose of aloe vera I’ll tan over.

“Is Lex back yet, from wherever he went?”

“Yes, he is. He’s in his room,” she tells me before walking out.

I grab the aloe vera and walk over to his room. Knocking on his door, he answers to come in. I open the door gently and find him sitting up in bed with his laptop.

“You have a minute?” I ask with hesitation in my voice.

He closes his laptop, placing it on the nightstand. This distance thing is as wide as the Grand Canyon, and it’s driving me crazy, but I can’t jump him, not after he thinks I’m just using him for sex.

“Working while on vacation?”

“Yes, sadly there are certain matters that need to be taken care of.” He sounds cold, not the loveable, playful Lex from yesterday.

It pains me that I’ve caused this. He has climbed back into that cold, lonely shell Adriana said he was living in for years before I came back.

“I need a favor,” I ask, trying to lighten the mood. “As you can see my back is burned to a crisp. The girls are out, and well… I don’t want to ask Rocky with his lady hands to help me. Would you mind?”

I hold out the bottle, watching him wrestle with the decision, but eventually, he takes the bottle and pats for me to sit down in front of him. I take a seat, removing my tank top revealing just my bikini top. My skin burns like it’s on fire, and as soon as the cream touches me, I yelp at the coolness.

Closing my eyes, I focus on his touch. “Lex…” I turn around to face him.

He places the lid on the bottle and gazes into my eyes, distant, and I fucking hate myself for making him feel like this.

“Please listen to me. I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have said those things. I don’t even mean half of it. I…” I scramble my words, unable to relay what I need to say. “I’m trying so hard here, Lex. Yes, I want you physically, but there’s so much more. You aren’t just someone I picked up off the street and fucked, so no, I don’t only want you for that. I’m sorry that I made you feel that way. I just need—”

“Time, I get it.”

He jumps off the bed and announces he’s going to help Elijah in the kitchen.


“Rocky, where on earth do you find these jokes?” Adriana cringes while asking the question.

We are sitting on the beach with a bonfire, and Rocky as usual, is making us all laugh with his crude jokes. Thank God, Will chose to stay at a friend’s house next door because Rocky holds nothing back. Zero filter when it comes to that man.

“I don’t know… somewhere online.”

“Oh, that’s right. The one you put on there the other day was so gross.”

“You liked the status,” he roars, calling Adriana out.

We all laugh, but I can’t help but notice how quiet Lex is.

“Dude, are you on Facebook?” Rocky turns to Lex.

“No, I don’t really have time for that stuff.”

“But what about all the hotties in high school? Ya gotta give Charlie a run for her money.

I sit here silently waiting for him to respond to Rocky’s question. I’d be surprised if no one else notices the tension between us.

“The girls in my high school were nothing special. The ones in college, no better,” he mumbles.

“Then why did you marry Samantha?” I blurt out.

His stare shifts toward me, smoldering with resentment. This isn’t the discussion to be having at the bonfire in front of everyone, but I never knew the whole story and now I want to know.

He drops his eyes to the group. “I thought I loved her.”

“How long were you guys married?” Nikki questions, her sudden calm demeanor toward him catching me by surprise.

“Married for a year and a half. Together for three years.”

“How did you propose?”

I turn to face Nikki, shooting her daggers for the intrusive questions despite my curiosity piquing. Staring blankly at the fire, Lex remains silent. He isn’t the type of person to open up about his feelings, so I expect him to tell her to mind her own business.

“She loved animals. She wanted to study to be a veterinarian, but her father disagreed, so he made her study business. A friend of mine knew the owner of the San Diego Zoo. We planned a weekend away, and I organized a private viewing. Her favorite animal was the sloth. We went to the area where they were located, and she was in awe with a baby sloth. It was friendly, and the zookeeper allowed her to hold it. She was happy, but asked why the sloth had to wear a collar if it was in a monitored habitat. She undid the collar, and low and behold, the ring box was attached. I got down on my knee, and the rest is history.”

“Dude, that’s one rockin’ proposal,” Rocky cheers.

“Yes, only marginally better than proposing when your girlfriend is riding you in the back of your truck?” Nikki chastises.

“Well, you said yes. Can’t have been all that bad.” Rocky winks.

It was a beautiful story even though my heart sinks right to the bottom of the ocean as he tells it. Unable to handle my emotions and where they are heading, I excuse myself and walk back to the house.

I find my keys, license, and jacket, then I walk to the front of the house where my bike is parked. The helmets sit on the handlebars, so I grab one, placing the other on the porch and walk back to my bike, jumping on.

The sound of the engine roaring is enough to soothe me. As I adjust my helmet, arms wrap around me. Without turning around, my heart sinks deeper knowing it’s him.

In my rear-view mirror, he has already placed the spare helmet on. With his arms wrapped tight around me, I drive off, choosing another beach to visit and not last night’s location.

The speed is ticking over, my anger spiking as the speed is well above the legal limit. Taking a sharp turn, I pull into the beach and stop the bike, abruptly jumping off and ferociously removing my helmet.

“Why the fuck did you get on the bike?” I shout at him.

“Charlotte, please. I’m—”

“No, Lex,” I interrupt, pointing my finger at him. “I’m done! I’m so tired. I can’t play this game anymore. It’s too tiring. Things with Jul…” I trail off not wanting to go there.

“What are you going to say about Julian? Is that what it’s come down to now? You can’t handle us, so you pick Julian?”

“Lex, we’re too complicated.”

“And so because it isn’t with him, you think that’s love?”

“I never said that.”

“Well, Charlotte… I. Fucking. Love. You,” he yells, raising his hands into the air. “I’ve always loved you. You know, you have hurt me, too, and here I am trying to fight for us even though you keep pushing me away. You tell me it’s between him and me. Well, here I am. Say it once and for all to my face, and I swear if you choose him I’ll walk away. You’ll never have to see me ever again.”

I stand there, silently faced with an ultimatum.

Despite my strength and willingness to hold myself together, the walls crumble, and the tears carelessly fall down my cheeks.

His expression immediately softens, and his arms wrap around me so tight that I can’t let him walk away because if he does, I’ll blame myself for the rest of my life.

“Lex, I’m so scared of losing you again.”

“Charlotte, look at me… please.”

He cups my chin, lifting my head, so our eyes meet. They shine so brightly, capturing me, taking me to a special place only he can ever do. “You won’t. I won’t let that happen to us.”

Tilting his head, he kisses the tears away from my cheek, making them disappear.

We stand here, for how long, I don’t know. Tired, he pulls me along as we sit on the sand, his arms wrapping around me to protect me from the ocean breeze.

“Lex, did you ever think about leaving her for me?”

“All the damn time. I’d replay the conversation in my head, have it all planned out. I was reaching my breaking point. I knew how many lives it would affect but I didn’t care. The day I had planned to tell her, she dropped the bombshell.” His voice croaks, the memory painful. “I hated her so much at that point. My parents and Adriana were so happy. When she went to the hospital because she was in pain, and after the stories my mother told me about losing a baby, I knew that if anything were to happen it would be all my fault.”

I froze, unable to comprehend what he said. With every fiber in my being, I attempt to change the subject. I’m weak, I know that. Life is cruel. I learned that the hard way, but opening up that dark, cruel world is no way to start anew.

“I felt so pressured, Charlotte. No control over my life whatsoever.” He held me tighter, brushing his lips against my hair. “I might be controlling now, but the decisions I make are all mine. I have no one to answer to but myself. I thought that was how I wanted to live, but without you, there is no life. You need to know that all I want is you.”

Tilting my head to the side, I kiss his beautiful lips. Can I have him forever? Could this finally be it for us? The happily ever after we both are so desperate for?

I know I hold all the cards and this is ultimately my decision.

I need to place all my trust in him, once and for all.

“Marry me, Charlotte.”

Stunned, I move my body to face him. His face is deadly serious, and maybe my clouded head is imagining things. He can’t have just asked me to marry him. Did he?

“Lex, um… what did you just say?”

“I said… marry me, Charlotte. Tonight, here, now.”

“But… we can’t just get married. Are you crazy?”

“I’ve never been this sane in my life,” he answers calmly.

“It’s not even possible. I mean, even if we wanted to.”

“Nothing is impossible.”

He throws me the helmet, motioning for me to put it on. Jumping on the bike, he starts the engine. Taking out his phone, he types something really fast. I have no idea what he’s doing. It isn’t like we are in Vegas.

We drive to the next town over as I clutch onto him in a slight panic. Suddenly, he stops in front of a building, jumps off and tells me to wait by the bike. As I wait, I can feel the panic rising and the uncertainty of the situation which is making me start to sweat. A lot.

Trust him, Charlie. Go ahead and trust him, the voices in my head sing.

Lex walks down the path and knocks on the door of the fancy house. A man answers in his robe, taken aback by Lex standing on his porch. He talks, and I can’t make out a single word. The man holds his hand up almost like he’s refusing to hear something until they both stop, and the man closes the door. Lex continues to wait on the porch, turning around to smile back at me, almost like the smile is saying a thousand words I need to hear right now to ease the trepidation. The door opens again, and the man points to something out back. He closes the door again, and Lex comes running to where I stand.

“Now… will you tell me what’s going on?” I ask, panicked.

He grabs my hand and pulls me back toward the house, except we turn the corner, following the rose bushes until we find ourselves standing in the backyard, a few feet away from a gazebo where the man stands, and an older lady beside him.

“Charlotte, marry me. Here. Now.”

“Lex, come on… you’re joking, right?”

“Marry me, Charlotte,” he repeats the words.

I look at the man and woman waiting. Without thinking, I pull Lex toward them until we’re standing under the gazebo. I turn to look at the man, Lex giving him a nod before he begins to speak.

“We’re gathered here today…” he continues speaking as I stand there dumbfounded, unable to comprehend this moment.

What the hell is happening?

Is this for real?

“Alexander Matthew Edwards, do you take Charlotte Olivia Mason to be your lawfully wedded wife, to have and to hold till death do you part?”

“I do.”

The lady hands him a gold band, and slowly, he slides it on my finger. It’s slightly tight, but he still manages to get it on. How on earth did he get rings in five minutes?

“Charlotte Olivia Mason, do you take Alexander Matthew Edwards to be your lawfully wedded husband, to have and to hold till death do you part?”

Holy shit! Someone pinch me now.

“I do,” I blurt out. “I really do.”

I let out a sigh, and at that moment, peace has finally found me.

The lady hands me another gold band, my fingers trembling as I slide the ring onto Lex’s finger.

“By the authority vested in me by the State of New York, I now declare you husband and wife. You may kiss your bride.”

Lex inches closer, his nose grazing mine gently before he parts his lips and tenderly kisses mine, soft yet urgent, desperate yet at ease, under the gazebo as I barely manage to contain myself. I’m waiting for him to wake me up and tell me this is all a dream. The most beautiful dream where I just took the biggest leap of faith known to mankind.

“Are we m… married?” My voice is quivering.

“You better believe it, Mrs. Edwards.”


I climbed into his bed that night, and for the first time, he holds onto me not letting me go. We have never officially slept together, and this is to new beginnings. A new life for us, and we’re married. The adrenaline refusing to wear off.

Lex Edwards is my husband.

I am married.

As the sun rises in the morning, I wake up with Lex wrapped around my body. It’s the most wonderful sleep I have ever had, and I know for now the demons have been set free. We’re far from perfect, and there’s still so much to overcome, but it’s about taking baby steps. Right? Because getting married on a whim is taking baby steps.

I lay there for a while, smiling at how happy he has made me. Every part of me knows there’s no one else who can make me feel so secure, so content, and so whole. I snuggle into him, not wanting to let go of this perfect man who’s now mine. My husband.

Watching him sleep so peacefully, his eyelids flutter every so often. His perfect jaw, his perfect lips, his uncontrollable hair—everything about him makes me smile. So much that my cheeks start to actually hurt.

Reaching over to the nightstand, I grab my phone to see what time it is—seven in the morning—but the text sitting on the main screen catches my attention. It’s a link, sent directly to me. I don’t recognize the number, and it looks like a spam link, but it’s the title that piques my interest.

Billionaire Playboy finally settling down with Heiress to Preston Enterprises

I normally ignore any tabloid trash sent to me, but I click on the link, taken directly to the article on page six of the New York Times.

In a move that shocks the business world, entrepreneur and billionaire playboy, Lex Edwards, was seen last week leaving a hotel room while being intimate with heiress to the Preston Enterprises group, Victoria Preston. A source close to the couple says they have been close for a while, but due to business conflicts, the relationship was not made public. Ms. Preston’s publicist declines any comments, however, founder of Preston Enterprises, Clive Preston, says that Lex is like a son to him, and any news of a union between the two is great for him as well as the two companies. Photographs have been snapped of them at intimate dinners in New York and London. Ms. Preston has also been caught leaving his apartment dressed casually in the early hours of the morning. The photograph of them intimate at a business function last Saturday is enough to confirm the couple is definitely on.

I click on the pictures and zoom in. It’s him. My heart stops. Clutching my chest, I’m unable to breathe. I shake my head relentlessly, the shock consuming me.

Barely able to move, my brain is trying to compute what I’ve read. The pictures don’t lie, they are definitely being intimate, his hand is stroking her cheek. You don’t do that with business associates. Every image in that article is, in fact, of them being intimate all over the fucking country.

I untangle myself from him, quietly tiptoeing across the room. As I’m about to exit, I catch his phone by the nightstand. I try to ignore it, but I need fucking answers.

I’m so fucking angry at myself for trusting him again.

Quickly grabbing it, I read the message on the screen.

Victoria: Looks like we made page six, baby. Might as well come out now.

With shaking hands, I place the phone back and bolt out of the room. I’m ready to break down, to scream my lungs out, to punch something, do anything to let out the pain. The nausea washes over me. Covering my mouth, I run to the bathroom, barely making it to the bowl. My body is shaking, that familiar feeling is tearing me up inside.

I need to get out of here and fast.

Panicking as I don’t want to face him. Scared he’ll try to convince me it’s all a lie, when, in fact, the damage is done.

He’s broken me once again.

Rocky is the only one sitting at the dining table. He has the paper wide open but shuts it closed when he sees me.

“Charlie, do you wanna… look, I saw…”

“Rocky, I need you to do me a favor. I’m packing my bags right now and taking the bike. I don’t care how just make sure someone drives my car back. Park it in your garage. I need to get out of here right now. Please, just do this for me?”

He nods as I quickly bolt back to my room shoving everything in my bag. I dump it in the back of the car and run over to my bike. Quickly putting my helmet on, I drive off faster than I ever have before, the noise of the engine echoing through the quiet streets.

I hate myself so much right now.

Why the hell did I ever trust him?

He can’t just be with me.

He always has to have his way.

Someone else on the side, and I’m so sick of being that other woman. He’s nothing but a fucking liar, a player, and I’m so stupid for believing his lies, again, for believing him when he said he loves me.

This anger has taken over, poisoning every positive thought I have of him, of us. No one can understand the outrage I feel right now. How much I hate him for making me love him again. That’s the thing that hurts the most. It isn’t about loving him again, it’s more about awakening the love which never disappeared. Fate has now reared its fucking ugly head and screwed all this shit up. This sick, cruel, twisted game forced upon me and drained me of all my beliefs, all my hopes, telling me that maybe he’s my soulmate, and we are meant to live happily ever after.

By the time I reach my building, my phone has twenty-five missed calls and a dozen text messages. I can’t bring myself to read the texts.

Throwing the phone against the wall, I watch the screen crack as I scream in the basement, letting out my frustration. Leaning against the wall, I slide down, falling to the hard, concrete floor.

My tears are spilling out, the sobs leaving my chest gut-wrenching, and the pain spreads all over my body. My throat is dry, I am unable to form any words. I have to hide, run away from all this madness. I crawl over to where my phone lays broken on the ground. I can barely make out the numbers as my vision is clouded and the screen has a big crack, but I text his number and wait patiently for him to arrive.

Time is lost, my surroundings unfamiliar, but the voice, the words echo.

I can’t understand what’s going on.

The faint sight in front of me. What’s happening?

The warm arms I feel around me. This is safe, I have nothing to fear.

“Charlie… Charlie… Charlie, please look at me!” The voice is panicked.

I smile as I see his face, now able to focus.

“You came,” I mutter, my voice croaking.

“Of course, I did. Please look at me. What happened?”

The pain swells in my chest, the momentary realization knocking me cold.

“What date is it today?” I cry.

“Charlie, it’s September twenty-first.”

“I need… to… get… out… of… here,” I sob.

Placing his arms beneath me, he carries me toward the elevator as I rest my head in his chest.

“Take me somewhere, anywhere but here, anywhere but home. Take away this pain, please? Make it go away. Please? I don’t want to go back there. I can’t go back to that awful place,” I scream.

“Shh. I’ll take you away from here. It’s okay. It will be okay, Charlie, I promise.”

The numbing starts, and I know the protocol. This is the second step of the coping mechanism. The third will be ignorance, and fourth will be the bitterness shown in the light of day. The sweet revenge accompanied by hurtful words that one day will be said, followed by regret.

Her words from long ago keep replaying like a broken record, and somehow, I have to let history repeat itself. I let the big bad wolf—or as my mother referred to them as Dark Angels—strip me bare of everything I have fought so hard to rebuild.

My heart is absolutely broken beyond repair.

He’s the most beautiful man you’ll ever see. His soul will capture you but don’t be fooled, Mi Corazon. He’ll use all his powers to draw you in when there’s nothing left to do but take the one thing you’ve been holding on to.

When I was eighteen, I wasn’t wise or mature enough to know love is the most powerful thing in the universe, and so I allowed myself to accept it in all its glory. I learned the hard way, it also leads the path to the darkest place that exists.

Now, I believe I have it all figured out. Yes, love is the most powerful thing, I accept that, but this time I’m armed and convinced that I know which path is the road to happiness, my happily ever after.

This is no longer the fairy tale my momma read to me. This is the sequel. The story of the Dark Angel, who rode back into my sunset disguised as Prince Charming, only this time my armor is shattered, my will to fight obliterated.

The phoenix bird brought back my stolen soul and it lays helpless before me, clipped of its wings, unable to soar, trapped in a cage of my mistakes. The mistake of letting myself love him again, love the man who broke my heart. Twice.

Being laid on a warm bed is the last I remember about this day eight years ago almost six months since the day I last saw him. The day when the darkness fell upon me and without any light, I was unable to see, my mind demented by the shadows that lurked.

Like a frightened little girl, I prayed that someone would find me, hold my hand, pull me out of this dark abyss and lead me back into the light.

Alexander Edwards broke me in ways I never imagined possible.

But in the end, it was me who destroyed it all.

I gave up on us.

And regret is something I’ll have to live with… forever.

To be continued…


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