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Chasing Love: Chapter 6

CHARLIE

Charlotte Olivia Mason, are you daydreaming about your hot boyfriend again?”

Eric’s voice interrupts my thoughts as he struts into my office, dressed head to toe in a new designer suit. I should’ve been daydreaming about Julian. Instead, I’m reminiscing about my trip to Hawaii. It seems like a lifetime ago when, in fact, it was only two months ago.

“No, sorry,” I mumble. “Just remembering the long walks on Waikiki Beach while watching the sunset, the nonstop cocktails, and spending time with my cousins.

“Right, ‘your trip.’” Eric air quotes, still annoyed I didn’t take him. “Why aren’t you daydreaming about Julian? If I had a man like him in my bed every night, I’d never get to work on time.”

My cousin’s wedding at the top of Diamond Head was nothing short of magical. I couldn’t have envisioned a more romantic backdrop of sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean with gorgeous blue skies above us. The wedding itself was intimate with about twenty people in total, of which ten of them were relatives.

It was nice to spend time with my family, especially my younger cousin, Noah, who I hadn’t seen for a few years. We escaped the boring family sightseeing and opted to scuba dive instead. We swam with sea turtles, an amazing experience which I’d love to do again one day. We got drunk, and luckily he’s of drinking age now, a total playboy at the clubs we opted to hit at night, but nevertheless, I enjoyed the entertainment.

Despite the holiday being exactly what I needed, I missed Julian. From the moment I landed, we have been inseparable. Making up for lost time, we spent a good portion of it in the bedroom, but of late, work has pulled both of us in different directions.

“Okay, you’re doing it again. Charlie, snap out of it. Unless, of course, you’re thinking about his wang. In that case, do share,” he snickers, rubbing his hands.

“Eric, I’m not talking about Julian’s wang with you, and I can’t believe we’re back to using that word. It’s so crass.”

“Wiener, johnson, pecker, bratwurst, one-eyed monster, baloney pony—”

Stop! Your penis slang is unsettling. Baloney pony? Seriously, Eric, when have you ever said to someone, ‘Hey, gorgeous, take off your pants and show me your baloney pony.’ Who says that?”

“Um, no one. Err… do you ask a guy to take off his pants? Where’s the dominatrix woman I had you pegged for?”

“Okay, enough pecker-wiener talk. I’ve got an appointment in fifteen minutes. Now what else is on the agenda today?”


The day flew by, and before I knew it, it was just after six. The office is deserted, and I’m buried under a mountain of paperwork. It’s now or never. I start going through the papers until my phone rings, startling me.

As the name Batman flashes across my screen, I catch myself grinning before I answer. I came up with the nickname when I realized how strikingly similar Julian looked to Christian Bale.

“Hey, gorgeous,” he greets me in what could only be described as his sex voice.

It does all kinds of crazy things to my lady parts. Why am I not at home so we can have phone sex or something? I miss him, terribly.

“Hello, yourself. Is this an early night booty call?” I tease, leaning back in my chair as I cross my legs to stop the throbbing pain between them.

“Mmm… don’t let me think about your booty. I’m in a conference room waiting for the senator to arrive.”

“Well, in that case, have you thought about my tits as well? They are very happy in that lacy black number you like.”

“You’re evil, you know that?”

“Batman calling me evil? How predictable.”

“I think I need to take you down to the bat cave, show you what Batman’s really into.”

“Okay, but if any real bats fly at me, you can kiss your naughty rendezvous goodbye.”

Julian laughs and continues to talk about how his day went. I enjoy listening to him. He’s just as ambitious as I am. His love of journalism is evident every time he speaks. One thing I have learned since our time together—New York City is never short of a scandal.

After chatting for ten minutes, we agree to meet up after eight for a bite to eat.

I pack my bag and head out the door. It’s dark, but the car lights brighten the streets. I wait on the sidewalk, hailing the next cab that drives past. It’s my lucky day as one halts suddenly. Rushing over, I climb in and give the driver the address.

It’s Monday night, and like always, I take the cab to Rocky and Nikki’s apartment to spend time with my favorite person in the whole world.

“Cha Cha, it’s you!” He throws himself at me as I walk through the door.

God, I love this kid. Hearing him call my name reminds me I was his first word. Not Mommy or Daddy, it was Cha Cha, and it stuck.

With his head nestled on my stomach, I pull him away so I can examine his face. His jet-black hair is a replica of Rocky’s, same tendrils that hang just above his brows. But it’s his cornflower blue eyes which make him the spitting image of Nikki. Tiny freckles cover his nose, his big smile contagious with his missing top teeth. I plant a kiss on his nose, embracing him again.

“Of course, it’s me, silly.”

Like his dad, Will talks a mile a minute, from everything about school and what happened to his best friend’s dog, to the latest episode of Star Wars. It’s an overload of information, especially from a seven-year-old. Monday night is our night. I come over after work, spend some time playing with him or doing homework, and then reading a book to him in bed. It only takes him ten minutes to complete his homework before he climbs into bed where I take my usual place beside him.

“What’s this book about?” I ask when he hands me a book.

“A prince, but he’s kinda a bad guy. He loses his princess and has to search everywhere to find her. But he fights all these monsters while hunting for her. He also has this superpower that he can read minds.”

Great, one of those stories.

I put on a smile and open the book to Chapter One. By the time I get to Chapter Four, Will’s eyes are drooping. I know the signs when he’s close to falling asleep.

“Cha Cha, do you believe in fairy tales?”

“You’re never too old to believe in fairy tales,” I whisper back.

“Do you hope your prince will find you one day?”

I close my eyes for a moment, not wanting to explore the question. With a knot forming in my stomach, I quickly come up with an answer, hoping to veer off this topic.

“I don’t know if I need a prince, maybe just someone who will love me.”

With his eyes drooping further and a yawn escaping his mouth, he murmurs his last words of the day before falling asleep. “I love you, Cha Cha. I’ll be your prince if you can’t find one.”

It’s moments like this that completely melt my heart. The love from a child is unconditional and the most precious gift anyone can give you. I’m not one of those needy women wanting to find a man, get married, and get knocked-up, but there’s a part of me that aches for that type of love—with the right man.

Placing a kiss on Will’s forehead, I put the book on his nightstand, covering him with his blanket. I switch off the lamp, then tiptoe to the door and watch him. He looks so peaceful, his eyes fluttering every so often, and his tiny snore can barely be heard. My heart wants to burst with how much love I feel for this kid, a love tinged with longing.

As the knot begins to grow in the pit of my stomach, I close the door and leave to meet Julian.


“You smell good,” he murmurs, leaning in to place a kiss on my cheek.

“Is that how we’re greeting each other now? Because if we are, you smell good, too.”

He leans in further, and whispers, “If I greeted you the way I want to, we would be kicked out and arrested for indecent behavior.”

“Oh, c’mon, let’s try that,” I taunt him, playfully. “YOLO.”

“Eric is warping your mind.”

“I know. It was his word of the week last week, but let’s get back to you taking me on the table—”

“Don’t tempt me.”

Pulling away, he grabs the menu. I do the same, covering my smile as his words linger. Damn, I’m all kinds of hot and bothered now. Why do we have to eat? Given that I haven’t seen him in a week, we should’ve had dinner at my place followed by him taking me on all fours.

Enzo’s is a small restaurant in Little Italy. It’s a traditional Italian trattoria with checkered tablecloths adorning the small tables. Candles are lit, and soft piano music plays in the background. The waiter has a very authentic thick, curly mustache and plays the perfect part of the Italian host.

“I’ll have a Budweiser and the lovely Charlie will have…”

“A Margarita, please. What can I say? I’m a sucker for punishment.”

Julian smiles with a slack expression, stroking my hand with the tip of his finger so effortlessly. My insides are doing a happy dance, missing his simple touch and how he makes me feel with just one smile.

As for the Margarita, it’s all fun and games now, but wait until I wake up in the morning with a splitting headache. It’s all about pacing myself. I can do this.

We finish our first round of drinks before our meals arrive. Once again, our conversation steers toward the past. Julian grew up in a small town in North Carolina with his mother and sister. His dad left when Julian was three, and he never saw him again. He went to Harvard where he studied journalism, then met Serena, his girlfriend at the time. He thought she was the love of his life, but she changed colleges, and they couldn’t do the long-distance thing.

“Have you thought about contacting her?” I ask him, curious, “Or should I say social media stalk her?”

“I did think about contacting her for a while, but I moved here, and well, life became hectic. I heard from a friend that she’s in Boston, but I think the book’s closed on that one. If it were meant to be, we’d have worked it out back then.”

He lays his hand on mine, again, gently caressing while he seductively stares into my eyes. My body starts to tingle all over, sex goosebumps as I like to call them. It has definitely been a while since someone made me feel this way. My mind is going crazy wondering if it would be too slutty of me to say, “Hey, let’s skip dinner and ‘do it like they do on the Discovery Channel.’”

I’ve been spending way too much time around Eric.

“Enough about me,” he says, thanking the waiter with a smile as the food is served. “What about you?”

“I believe I have one get-out-of-jail-free card?”

“Yes, and I believe you used it last weekend.”

“Oh, that’s right… when you fucked me in your bed. Oh no, wait, was that the time against the wall? No, my bad, it was when you did me on your kitchen counter,” I tease in my sexiest voice as I run my foot up his leg.

“Nice segue, but you ain’t getting out of this. I want to know more about you, Charlie.”

With a small pout, I give in, noting to keep the information to the bare minimum. “Well, I told you I grew up in Carmel…”

“I honestly never figured you for a California girl. Why did I think you were from Phoenix?”

“I don’t know. Why, don’t I look like I’m from California? Because I’m not wearing Daisy Dukes with a bikini top?”

“Carry on, smart-ass.”

“I went to Carmel High. My dad was a truck driver, so he was on the road a lot. It was just my mom, my older sister, and lil’ old me until my sister left to go backpacking through Europe when I was fourteen. Mom and Dad split up when I was thirteen, then Mom moved back to Cuba to take care of my grandpa, who was really sick. The rest is just a drunken frat night Margarita haze before I landed here.”

“Somehow, I can’t imagine a drunken Charlie in college.”

“Why is that?”

“You’re just so… together. In complete control of your life and every aspect of it.”

“I’ll take that as a compliment.”

“And back home? No serious boyfriends left behind?” he questions as I shuffle uncomfortably. “How were you not taken sooner?”

“How are you not taken?”

“Ugh, it’s impossible to argue with a lawyer. Seriously, how did Charlie Mason not break any hearts in Carmel?

Almost choking on my drink, I let out a cough. Julian waits patiently for an answer, raising his brows with a curious gaze.

It’s the skeleton in the closet that’s happy to remain in hibernation. Tonight isn’t the night to bring up the past, but we’re at that point in the relationship when past relationship conversations are inevitable. Shrug it off, Charlie, it won’t invite any more questions.

I shift my eyes to the painting on the wall, unable to make eye contact.

“I dated a few guys in high school. There was this one guy my senior year, the typical high school crush type of thing,” I say, followed by a casual laugh to lighten the topic.

Julian can sense my discomfort, moving onto another subject rather quickly. We chat about his career, the stories he has covered and, of course, we have a heated debate about American Idol. I enjoy his company, and for rest of the night, we don’t stop laughing at the stories he tells of when he first moved to the city. I’m not sure if they are that funny or the Margaritas have gotten the better of me.

We take a cab back to my place where he makes me forget the world exists.

Twice.

When I wake up in the morning, Julian is long gone having to catch a red-eye to D.C.

My head is pounding, a string of loud thumps making it impossible to open my eyes. Damn that visit to Margaritaville! I never learn my lesson, assuming I’m mature enough to handle the hard liquor.

The alarm on my phone rings, and I somehow manage to hit snooze. I fall back asleep until the ringing starts again, and Coco decides my face is a good spot to get comfortable.

This time, I ignore snooze and make a mental note just to set my alarm later tomorrow. Why do I waste my time hitting snooze a thousand times when I could’ve slept in that extra twenty minutes uninterrupted?

I drag my tired self into the shower, get changed, and head to the office.

“Updates, please. Don’t leave a single thing out,” Eric exclaims the second I set foot in my office.

There isn’t much to tell only mentioning how great Julian is and the fact that I drank an entire year’s supply of Margaritas. My head is still pounding to a point I swear I can actually see my pulse throbbing out of the corner of my eye. Eric’s high-pitched voice and thirst for information doesn’t help calm the storm brewing in my head.

“You’re my source of amusement, Charlie. I live vicariously through your sexcapades.”

“I don’t know why, E. You’re twenty-one and look like an Asian version of Zac Efron. I should be living through you,” I point out.

I sit back in my chair, glancing out the window. Life seems perfect. Julian is amazing, everything I’m looking for in a guy. He makes me laugh, his intelligence is a huge turn-on, and I can’t deny how sexy he is.

Yes, Batman definitely ticks all my boxes, including the one below.

Life at work is busy and thriving on pressure is my thing. Everything I work hard for has paid off, yet I can’t help but feel that all of this is too good to be true.

Just like my mom once told me—perfection can never be reached.

Shaking my head, I think to myself, screw that notion.

Life is perfect, and I’m sitting on top of the world while wearing my new Louboutins. Yet, somewhere in the dark passages within me, I’m trying to bury deeper the nagging feeling in the pit of my stomach that there’s a dark storm gathering on the horizon.

A storm so brutal and ready to rock me to my very core.


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