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Chasing Love: Prologue

CHARLIE

I wrapped my arms around myself to shelter my body from the sea breeze. The evening air was cool yet humid—the lingering smell of rain mixed with salt. A sudden flash of lightning brightened the dark sky, a beautiful sight followed by the inevitable. I placed my hands over my ears, burying my head between my legs. The crash of thunder startled me. Slowly, I raised my head and uncovered my ears, then I listened to the low rumble disappear into the night.

I hated storms, they terrified me, but here I sat, waiting patiently as I had always done.

This was our special place, but tonight, with the moon obscured behind the thick dark clouds, this no longer felt like our safe haven. Anxiously, I pulled out a weed that stood between the rocks and tore it apart until there was nothing left. The lightning struck once again, and the threat of thunder forced me to bury my head. I rocked back and forth as I hugged my knees. Unwillingly, my mind returned to the night my fear of storms began

“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.”

It was past my bedtime, but I couldn’t sleep. A storm was rolling in, and the thunder was getting louder. I pulled the covers over me, frightened by this creature Momma spoke about. With my heart racing and my voice shaking, I dared ask the question that haunted me.

“Who is he, Momma?”

Momma paused, staring out of the large window. Fear passed over her classically beautiful face. I wasn’t sure why. Daddy would protect her. Daddy had a gun and said if anyone would ever hurt us, he’d hunt them down like hungry wolves.

“The big bad wolf,” she whispered.

The big bad wolf was scary. I didn’t understand what I’d be holding on to. I was only eight. This fairy tale was nothing like the others. Where was the happy ending? Momma told this story as if she memorized it by heart.

“Will he come for me, Momma?”

The thunder shook the house, and I clutched her arm as tight as I could. I was scared, the roar was so loud, and I didn’t want the big bad wolf to come for me. He scared me. I wanted to stay with Daddy, Momma, and Sissy. As the noise became louder, I buried my head under Momma’s arm, trying to shut out the horrible sound.

“Momma, I’m scared.”

“Sleep, Mi Corazon.”

Humming my favorite lullaby, she stroked my hair to calm me down until I fell asleep in her arms.

I never believed the myth about the big bad wolf, but for some reason, it stuck with me, and unfortunately, so did my fear of storms. Just poor timing, I kept telling myself. Frustrated, I looked down at my watch. You’ve got to be kidding me. He’s an hour late. Like I had nothing better to do than wait around for him. I could’ve finished my English assignment I had been putting off for days because he was more important. My grades were already slipping, and Principal Stephens could smell my fear of failure a mile away.

Just as I was about to get up and leave, his masculine arms wrapped around me, warming my body. Placing soft kisses along my neckline, the stale smell of some alcoholic beverage lingered on his breath. My heart sank. I knew something was wrong, but I wasn’t in the mood to be sympathetic. I was sick and tired of all this sneaking around.

“Rough night? Haven’t you heard of a cell?”

I could see the lie coming. “Rough doesn’t even cut it. I’m sorry, my cell is acting up.”

Distracted, he moved his hands underneath my jacket and ran them along my stomach.

“You smell like you’ve been to a frat party,” I spat, frustrated.

Unable to hide my annoyance any longer, I moved his hands away, but he stopped me immediately. He tightened his grip around my waist and buried his head in my hair.

“Your hair… it’s so… I miss you…” he mumbled words that made no sense, and I grew even more irritated. I pulled away and stood up, the blood in my veins beginning to pump vigorously from anger.

“What’s this? I know you better than you know yourself. You’re drunk for a reason.” Without hesitation, I blurted out the words that plagued my mind. “You’re going to tell me it’s over. The signs are here, you’ve been acting weird all week. Let’s see… Sammy cried so much you felt sorry for her, and you owe it to your marriage to make it work.”

He stood up fast, unsteady on his feet. I half-expected him to laugh it off, but even in his intoxicated state, he seemed to understand what I meant. The hesitation alone was enough for me to think the worst, but I stood and waited without taking a breath. His eyes fixated on me, a trance I tried not to get pulled into, but slowly I felt drawn in, cast under his spell without any hope of climbing out.

Over? I can’t fucking breathe without you, Charlotte. This is torture. Us, not being able to be us in front of everybody. Don’t do this, okay? Don’t fucking make it out like it’s over.”

He was trying to blow off steam, equally frustrated with our constant battle to hide our relationship. I got it, I did, but he was the one to blame here, not me. I was just the girl who fell in love with her best friend’s brother who happened to be married.

The wind shifted and so did his mood. He ran his finger down my cheekbone just as he had always done, then slowly and reassuringly he placed his lips on mine.

“Look at me, Charlotte,” he begged.

My eyes found their way back to his, and just like they had done a million times before, the emerald green shone back at me. In their reflection, I saw only us.

Him, me—together against the world.

He placed my hand over his heart. “As long as this beats, it’s for you. I’ll find a way for us to be together. Don’t give up on us. We happened for a reason. The rest are obstacles we can overcome. As long as you place your trust in me, I promise never to break you. I love you… only you. I swear, it’ll be us for life, baby. Ride or die, ‘til death us do part.”

I gave into him that night because I loved him more than life itself, but it was soon afterward that I realized what Momma tried to tell me all along.

The big bad wolf had come for me. Taken all that was mine, then left me alone in the dark. He’d emptied me of everything good and pure, leaving me hollow and unable to love, wandering alone in the darkness like a tortured soul. I prayed that he wouldn’t come for me, but he did. His name was Alexander Edwards, and that night he filled me with promises, made me believe it was only us in this world, that we only needed each other.

“Ride or die, ‘til death us do part.”

And that was the last time I saw him.


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