tagNovels and NovellasCharlie Ch. 25-28

Charlie Ch. 25-28

byRealistic Angel©

Chapter 25

Day 1 gave her "I wanted to." Day 2 was simply quiet. Day 3 welcomed her with a "Good morning, sunshine" and nothing else. Day 4 pissed her off when he told her to get some sleep. Day 5 dragged because her insomnia was riding her full force, and all Nathan had to say was "LOL." Day 6 came with a "Be home tomorrow. Shelley says hi."

The morning of Day 7 meant Nathan would be home soon. Sometime, that day he would be home. Charlie couldn't focus on her work. After re-opening her bedroom curtains, she sat looking at his bedroom for an hour. She wandered around her house constantly straightening, cleaning, or organizing something. Laundry was already done. Her bed was made. She had taken a shower. She kept looking for things to do. At one point in time, she sat down next to her painting easel and began alphabetizing the paints by name. When that didn't look right to her, she reordered them by color palette.

Just as she was finishing with the paint organization, she heard the roar of his jeep's engine. Okay, what now? What now? She didn't want it to seem like she was waiting by the door for him to get home. If that were the case, she might as well have pushed her face up against the glass of the living room window. It had to look like she was doing something. She ran up the stairs two at a time, grabbed her reading novel off the night stand, and jumped on the bed. If it looked like she was reading, it would look like she was relaxed, not some ball of nerves that were jumping up and down like Mexican jumping beans.

Wait, no! Would being on the bed be too suggestive? What did it matter if she was on the bed? Not like anything would happen on the bed? Wait if something did happen on the bed?

She couldn't get her mind to quit spinning. She shoved the book away from her and climbed off of the bed. That was when she heard the footsteps coming up stairs. Unnerved, she ran into the closet. She quickly started pulling clothes off of the shelves. Yeah, she was organizing her closet. That's the ticket!

She heard a throat clearing and saw Nathan standing in the door way of her closet. He leaned against the frame with his arms crossed.

"Should I tell Melanie you are coming out of the closet?" he smirked. Charlie hurled a t-shirt towards him, and he swatted it away before it made contact with him. He simply stood there smiling, waiting. Charlie froze with a sweater that was in her hands. It was much easier to type in a text message rather than try to get the words out.

She looked down to the floor. "Why did you kiss me?"

"I already told you why. I wanted to."

Charlie looked up and saw that he was still smiling, still leaning. He was still Nathan. Abruptly, the closet felt like it had no air. She pushed her way past Nathan into the open room. He moved ever so slightly to let her by; yet, she still ended up rubbing most of her body across him as she made it past. Flustered, she did not know what else to say, so she started straightening items on her dresser.

Nathan moved over to the chair in the corner and sat down. He still looking relaxed, but ever mindful of her movements. He knew she was feeling out of sorts, frantic. Cleaning and straightening were her coping mechanisms. He followed her with his eyes as she scrambled around the room. He simply crossed his arms across his chest and laced his fingers together. He knew Charlie would come down off of the panic shortly enough. She just had to ride it out for a bit.

When Charlie did finally stop moving things around her room, she sat down on the edge of her bed. Nathan gave her a reassuring smile.

"Why did you kiss me?" she demanded.

"I wanted to."

"That's not an answer."

"It's a perfectly acceptable answer. People put their lips together for a kiss based on many reasons. The first reason stemming from physical attraction and desire. I desired it. I wanted it."

Charlie huffed at the idea of physical attraction just like Nathan knew she would. It all went back to the idea that she did not appreciate herself, but he did. No huffing or puffing on her part was going to change that.

"Physical attraction? Huh? So you just wanted to get you some. Now it makes more sense." Charlie got up from the bed and began to fold the clothes she had thrown out of the closet.

The smile on Nathan's face grew larger. "People also kiss as a form of affection, to show strong feelings of love."

Charlie looked up from the piece of clothing that she had been memorizing. "But that's not me."

Nathan caught her eyes with his. She never really paid attention to how intensely green they could be. "That first kiss was definitely physical attraction, but if you let me kiss you again, it would be love." Charlie stopped breathing. She dropped back onto the edge of her bed. When her autonomic nervous system kicked in and forced her to breathe, she gasped and inhaled a big breath. Her mind just couldn't really comprehend what he might or might not be saying.

"Kiss me again?"

"Yes, please." Just Nathan smiling eyes.

Charlie's involuntary and nervous laugh came forward with the simple word, "please." She felt like she was in the Twilight Zone. Rod Sterling was going to walk out and begin a monologue at any moment.

For your view pleasure, a woman in her late 20s, being asked by her best friend if she wants to be kissed. Note that her fear is paralyzing and crippling. Will it be yes? Will it be no? We will find out the answer as we enter the Twilight Zone.

"Come here, Charlie." Those words cracked her feeling of absurdity. They were real. Nathan just said them. She dug her hands into the quilt. Sudden paralysis was a real thing. Some people could just wake up in the morning and not ever be able to move again in their entire lives. Was it like hysterical blindness? Charlie's mind would not stop racing.

"Come here, Charlie."

Chapter 26

Charlie remained still on the bed, watching Nathan in his relaxed posture. He made no threatening movements, nor did he try to approach her. The ball was in her court, but the only problem was she didn't feel like she knew the rules of the game. They continued to stare at one another until it felt like hours had passed. Her eyes flicked to the clock on her dresser. Okay, not hours, but definitely minutes had gone by, and her hands remained clenched around the bed quilt. She couldn't will herself to move or speak. It was almost aggravating how Nathan sat looking at her, that half cocky smile.

Then, as if the whole silent conversation was finished, Nathan got up from the chair and made his way out of the room. Charlie rushed after him as they descended the stairs.

"Where are you going? I . . ." she stammered as she followed a couple steps behind him. Nathan stopped so abruptly that Charlie ended running into the back of him. He threw out a hand to steady her, so she wouldn't topple over.

"Get ready. We are going out," he said through that same smile. He continued through the rest of the stairs and made his way to the back door. Charlie continued her pursuit through the house.

"What do you mean we are going out? Wait a second! We need to talk," she said as she grabbed his arm. Nathan swung around to face her. Charlie was suddenly aware of lack of space between them. She thought about taking a step backwards, but she couldn't convince her legs to move in that direction.

"Casual clothes. I'll see you in a half an hour." There was that maddening kiss on the forehead. Charlie actually reached up to rub it off of her face; Nathan only laughed. The door closed, and Charlie stood in the kitchen feeling even more confused and irritable as before. A loud beep alerted her to a new message. She grabbed her phone from her painting area.

Nathan: Get ready

Charlie: Where are we going?

Nathan: 28 minutes

Charlie: Where are we going?

There was no further response. She shoved the phone into her pocket and quickly scurried up the stairs into her room. Stepping over the piles of clothes that she had ripped out of the closet, she began to toss shirts this way and that. As she bent over, she heard the familiar beep of her phone.

Nathan: Nice view!

Charlie looked over her shoulder and found Nathan half sitting in the open window of his bedroom. That grin was really starting to piss her off. Charlie flipped him the finger and continued her rooting through the piles. She pulled out a white collared-shirt and a pair of jeans. Beep!

Nathan: Good choice!

Charlie shot him another hard stare as she moved the bathroom and shut the door. She made sure it had that completely closed and was locked. Yes, it would have been just as easy to close the curtains again, but she really didn't like the feeling of her room being that closed off. Or was the feeling of being disconnected from Nathan? Dang it! Those types of thoughts really need to stop. She finished dressing and pulled the door open to allow fresh air into the bathroom again. Nathan was playing "Sober" by Pink, one of her favorite songs. Her eyes drifted back to the window, but Nathan was no longer on his perch.

Charlie began to sway her hips to the rhythm of the music as she pulled her hair into a loose bun, allowing some wisps to fall loose, so they would frame her face. Afterwards, she brushed on some mascara and painted her lips. She stood back to check her appearance, turning side to side to check her entire appearance. She had left a few extra buttons undone on the front of her blouse in order to show off the black bra underneath. A little voice in the back of her head began to ask why she was getting all done up for Nathan. Realizing how ridiculous it was, she reached for a Kleenex to wipe away the make up. Beep!

Nathan: You look beautiful

Charlie turned her head back to Nathan's window. He had resumed his sitting position on the window sill. She did a small curtsy and then a bow. He began clapping his hands and yelled for her to meet him downstairs. After she grabbed a pair of fantastic black heels, she made her way back down the stairs. Sitting at the kitchen table, she put on her heels. Nathan stuck his head into the back door, urging her to pick up the pace. Following him out the door and to his jeep, he unlocked the doors.

"Where are we going?" Charlie asked as she climbed into the passenger seat and buckled herself in.

"Out," Nathan answered cryptically.

Charlie reached over and swatted his arm, letting him know her irritation. She had always hated surprises and avoided them at all costs. Nathan glanced at her out of the corner of his eye and simply smiled as he continued driving through the streets. As much as she wanted to needle him for information, she tried to relax back into the seat, watching the lights of other cars and building flash past her eyes.

Chapter 27

As Nathan swung the jeep into the parking lot, he could tell that Charlie was holding her breath. The anxiety of a surprise could be seen in the blue pallor of her skin.

"Breathe," he interjected as he popped the lock on her seat belt. Charlie's head swiveled towards him, and she had a tentative smile and loud exhale.

"You know I hate surprises," Charlie commented as she exited the jeep, slamming its door a bit harder than she intended.

"Sometimes, surprises are good things," Nathan replied as he grabbed her arm and escorted her to the front of the building.

"Just like my parents surprised me with the idea of their divorce? How about the time you surprised me with a birthday dinner, and I was in the hospital with anaphylactic shock? Then, there was the time that Melanie surprised me with a stripper, and that guy threw up on me during the middle of a lap dance? Oh, wait! What about . . ." Charlie was actually counting the surprises on her fingers as she spoke. She was so enthralled with the re-telling of her surprise moments that she had not paid attention to anything around her, including entering the building.

People were crowded in a small lobby area, drinks in hands while they laughing in various conversations. A few people with their cigarettes had congregated in the corner away from the others. Since it was still a small room, the smell of the smoke triggered her nicotine urge. Nathan nudged her with his elbow, and she all but sprinted over to the smoking corner.

Once she had dug the cigarettes out of her purse, a woman standing next to her offered the use of a lighter. Charlie leaned in and accepted the flame. The first puff of the cigarette would go a long way to help calm her nerves. It came back to her that she was in a cramped lobby as a part of a "surprise." Not overly social, she couldn't bring herself to ask the people around her why they were there. Instead, she wrapped her free arm around her waist and continued to inhale her favorite vice.

Nathan spotted Charlie in her corner position. He continually looked over his shoulder as he waited for the drinks he had ordered to be made by the bartender. It was just a habit of checking up on her that got the better of him. Then, there was the whole idea that she looked hot in the outfit she had chosen. Legs longer with heels and more cleavage showing than normal. That black bra is going to be the death of me! Some guy had tried to strike up a conversation with her as she smoked, but she got that "yeah right" smile and simply stopped chatting. The guy must have gotten the hint because he took another swig from his glass and moved onto the next lucky contestant in his evening's festivities.

With drinks in hand, he squeezed through the crowd and eased up next to Charlie. She tried to move her smoking hand away from him, but the room was way too small. Instead of his normal ration of crap about her smoking, he took the cigarette from her hand and put it between his lips. He replaced the cigarette with a rum and diet soda. Taking a sip, she scrunched up her nose. Charlie then tried to get the cigarette back from Nathan, but he swatted her hand away; he determined to get a few drags off of it before she reclaimed it. Charlie eased back onto the heels of her shoes and took another drink.

"What are we doing here?" she asked as she eyed the other people in the crowd.

Nathan blew smoke out the side of his mouth before he answered. "You'll see."

Charlie glared at him. "Should we continue to run down the number of 'surprises' that have gone wrong in my life? I think I was up to number seven in a very long list." Before she could continue down that line of thinking, Charlie picked up on the sound of instruments over the chatter of the crowd. She kept tilting her head left and right, almost like a dog with a unique sound. Nathan let his gaze follow her movements, knowing she would understand the evening's event.

Soon, Charlie began to recognize some of the chords and notes. She couldn't place them right away, but they were definitely familiar, but still jumbled. Instinctively, she began to hum along with the music, but she just couldn't get her mind to focus on where she had known the music. Just as she opened her mouth to ask another question, a bouncer pulled back a curtain. The crowd pushed forward towards the opening. Nathan fell into step behind her, using his body to shield her from any pushing or shoving that might ensue.

It didn't help being in such a confined space or having the front of his body pressed against her back. He wanted nothing more than to wrap his arms around her waist as a form of protection and affection, but Charlie wasn't at that point. Who knew if she would ever be at that point? Who knew if she liked him the same way he liked her? Lots of questions, and no answers. If his week away and many conversations with his sister Shelley had taught him anything, it was that answers would come in their own time. He couldn't force the situation any further than he had already. Charlie needed to make the next move.

They continued moving forward with the crowd. As soon as they were past the curtain, Nathan guided Charlie to a set of high top tables in the corner. Charlie scrambled into a chair and stared at the stage. She still had a concerned look on her face. Nathan smiled to himself as he pulled up the chair next to her and took out his phone. He pulled up Shelley's number for a quick text message.

Nathan: Thanks sis

"Whatcha doing?" Charlie tried to peek over his hands to see what he was doing with his phone. Nathan chuckled and shoved the phone back in his jeans pocket. It was then that the lights in the room lowered. Charlie's attention went back to the stage.

The lights on the stage had not come on yet. The crowd was sitting in the dark with the exception of the red exit signs and a few other security lights. Charlie caught herself actually holding her breath. What had Nathan gotten her into this time? Then, there was that music that she recognized again. This time, it was the actual beginning of a song. She knew this song. There was no mistaking it; it was the beginning of "Will You Remember Me?"

The lights on the stage came up, and there was her favorite singer of all time, Jann Arden. Charlie felt her own eyes begin to bug out of her head. Her mouth dropped open. She couldn't believe she was actually looking at Jann Arden. Her head snapped to the left; Nathan wasn't watching the stage. He had been waiting for this reaction. He had the biggest grin on his face. When he mouthed the word, surprise, Charlie returned his smile with a huge hug. Nathan dropped his head into the crook of her neck and inhaled sharply. This would be enough.

They pulled apart, and her attention moved back to the stage. Song after song played; each new song brought an enthusiastic round of clapping and yelling from Charlie. When Jann would tell stories, Charlie found herself holding her stomach because she laughed so hard. Nathan caught glimpses of her swaying to the music in her chair. She was also lip synching the words too. Occasionally, her eyes would close as she listened intently. It was a sight to watch; at times it was so engaging to watch her drift into the music. Beauty seemed to fall off this woman in waves. He was more than willing to drown in it if she would let him.

Chapter 28

At the end of the concert, Charlie stood on her feet, clapping and screaming. Her throat and hands hurt, but this was the moment of a lifetime. Her heart was pounding from the thrill of it all. She had wanted to attend a Jann Arden concert for over ten years, but there were all of the normal excuses, like not enough money or being too far away. As Jann exited the stage, Charlie threw herself at Nathan. She wrapped her arms around him again and squeezed as hard as she could. If there were ever a surprise to beat all surprises, Nathan had just pulled it off.

When Charlie finally pulled away from the hug, she was smiling so big, it looked like her face might crack. Nathan watched her eyes glisten and sparkle from the excitement of the evening. He couldn't help but laugh out loud at the awe-struck look that swept across Charlie's face. That was when she felt his hand on her cheek. The pad of his thumb was gently rubbing her skin. Slowly, it moved to draw the outline of her lips.

"Surprise!" he whispered.

Charlie threw her head back and laughed out loud. Nathan's hand had a chance to graze the skin along her neck. He sucked in a deep breath, going through mental Olympics to keep his self control. Once she was done laughing, she threaded her hand into his and began to pull him from the club. They tripped and stumbled along with the crowd, but Charlie could have cared less. Normally, crowds of people bothered her immensely; however, at the moment she was on cloud nine. It was a wonderful drug and a high she didn't feel like losing any time soon.

In the parking lot, she started to sound like a howler monkey on crack. She gibbered and jabbered fifty miles a minute, reliving all of her favorite parts of the concert. Nathan was focused on the fact that she was still holding his hand, their arms swinging as they walked. When they got to the jeep, he unlocked the door, and she scrambled inside. He actually became annoyed when they had to break their hand hold in order for her to get into the car. However, the annoyance didn't stay too long as he listened to her chatter continue they drove home; Nathan could only smile at her enthusiasm and vibrancy as she turned this way and that in her seat. Hands gesturing, she still spoke faster and faster each time she came to a part of the concert that really caught her attention. There were a lot of "remember when" and "did you hear what" comments. Nathan simply nodded along. By the time they had reached the curb in front of the apartments, Charlie had settled down enough that she was talking at normal speed.

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