As I walked out of the pantry with some crackers, I realized my questions still hadn’t been answered. Why was Charlie avoiding them? I wondered as I kicked the pantry door shut and walked to the window. Does he have something to hide?
I was suddenly brought back to reality when the giggly couple from earlier walked out of the shoe closet and immediately stopped when they saw me.
“Hey…” I said to them in an awkward tone as I hugged my box of crackers.
“Hey…” They whispered, embarrassed and rushing towards the door.
“Hang on a sec,” I said, walking after them. I was certain they just had sex due to the sheepish grin the boy couldn’t wipe off and the look of shame on the cute little brunettes face. I almost wanted to hug her and say It’s okay sweetie, we’ve all been there. Just pick someone cuter next time and then make him wait six months, but I felt that would just make our encounter even more awkward. “Could you tell me where I could find Anna?” I asked, looking them both up and down. They had to be sixteen at the very oldest. God I don’t miss that age.
The girl spoke up but avoided my eyes, “She should be at the main lodge, she’s usually there till midnight.”
I thought about it for a second, “Could you, would you mind, taking me there?” I asked.
The boy raised his brows, “Uh, sure. But, she doesn’t like to be disturbed…”
“We’re old friends, she’ll understand.” I said as I sat down my crackers and grabbed a jacket that was hanging next to the door.
Quickly, I slipped on some work boots and followed them outside, only to be stopped seconds later by a firm hand on my shoulder.
“Where do you think you’re going?” Charlie whispered down at me with a frown. I hadn’t realized how cold it had gotten until I saw his breath roll out of his mouth like a cloud of smoke.
“She asked to see Anna, sir.” The girl told Charlie.
I closed my eyes, “God damn it.”
“Is that right?” I heard Charlie ask.
“Er, well..” I heard the girl try to change her story but Charlie stopped her.
“Get inside.” He barked at them.
I opened my eyes in time to see the girl mouth “I’m sorry” to me as she walked back into the temple.
“Hey now, they’re already embarrassed enough, you don’t need to bark orders at them.” I whisper yelled at him.
Charlie moved his hand from my shoulder to his damp hair, slicking it back as he exhaled loudly, “I can’t let you out of my sight for a minute, can I?”
“I’m not a child, Charlie.” I argued softly.
“Oh yea?” He raised his brows, “What do you think was going to happen, Kate? You think she was just going to let you sit down and have a conversation with her? Drink some whiskey and forget she tried to kill you a few days ago?!”
“I need answers.” I said with a shrug.
“So does the court.” He growled through clenched teeth, “Give me your gun.” He ordered.
“I don’t have a gun.”
He blinked, “You didn’t even have a weapon on you?” He whispered in disbelief, “Jesus Christ, Kate! Have you learned nothing?!”
“I didn’t think-”
“That’s right!” He snapped, “You didn’t think. You never think! You just act! That’s what’s going to get you killed!”
“…Everything alright out here?” Liam asked at the end of Charlie’s rant, leaning in the doorway.
I looked up at Charlie before I turned my back to him, “Everything’s fine.” I told Liam with a small smile before I walked inside and kicked off my boots.
A few hours later the rain had let up and I found a few yoga mats I made into a make shift bed. Not that I could sleep, the guys were sitting in a circle playing cards while they waited on orders from Charlie. It took me a while to realize Charlie was just stalling but I wasn’t sure why. Maybe he didn’t have a plan. Maybe coming after me was the only thing on his agenda and now he needs to make it look like I wasn’t the only reason he made his men crawl through a tunnel of shit.
“Good luck with that one, Charlie.” I mumbled to myself as I sat up and looked around.
Charlie was gone. If he was checking the perimeter again, now would be the perfect time to sneak out and go find Anna.
Careful not to draw attention to myself, I quietly got to my feet and walked downstairs. Maybe I’ll get lucky and Anna will still be at the main lodge, I thought to myself as I pulled on my clean cargo pants and boots. It didn’t matter. As long as I could get away and find Anna, I would have my questions answered and I could move on.
I grabbed a black hoodie that was left on the counter and pulled it over my head before I walked outside. With no sign of Charlie around, I made a run for it. The trail was all mud, making my fifteen minute run more of a workout than I anticipated. “I gotta do more cardio.” I whispered to myself between gasps as I reached the main lodge.
My fingers were cold and useless. I could barely untie my boots, but I managed. I slipped them off and left them on the porch so I didn’t track a muddy trail inside as I looked around.
A sigh of relief escaped my mouth as I snuck in. It was warm and cozy; the lit fireplace doing wonders to my frozen fingers. I stood next to it for a moment, collecting myself; I was still recovering from my bitter cold run.
“It doesn’t matter, Anna! You made your bed, and you need to lie in it!” I heard Charlie shout from the loft above me.
Surprised but not stunned, I was able to tip toe into the nearby coat closet, leaving the door cracked open so I could hear and see what was going on.
“No, Charlie, YOU made my bed! Why do I have to take responsibility for this?” Anna shouted back as she walked down the stairs.
“You know why, Anna. You have the paper trail to prove insanity, I don’t. You will be set up in the best psych ward in the state and have it made. You owe me this, after everything I’ve done for you! I saved your ass ten years ago, now its your turn to save mine.” Charlie argued, following her down the stairs.
Anna was sitting on the couch now, shaking her head, “Why did you have to get involved with her, Charlie? All of this could have been avoided!”
“You know why.” Charlie whispered, sitting next to her.
Anna sighed, “Fine. I’ll do it. But don’t mess with my system. I have a good thing going here.”
“A good thing? Anna, people are calling you the next Hitler! How could you possibly think creating an army would be a good thing? And for WHAT? What could you possibly need an army for?”
She shrugged, “I could do a lot of things with an army, overthrowing the government could be one of them.”
Charlie sighed, “Anna, not one of those men are stupid enough to try and overthrow the government. You’re running in place with that idea. Just call it off and stick with the plan, alright?” He said as he stood up.
“What is the plan again?” She asked, looking up at him.
He started to rub the back of his neck, I could tell he was stressed, “You show the police the murder weapon I gave you with John’s blood on it, and admit to killing him. You plead insanity, they’ll dig into it, and with the documents you’ve built up over the years, the odds will be in your favor. I’ll make sure to it that you’re set up at the best ward in the state and maybe I can get you an ocean view.”
Anna thought about it and nodded, “Alright. You have my word.”
“Good. I’ll see you tomorrow at the police station.” He said before he kissed the top of her head and headed towards the door.
“Charlie?” She called after him.
“You sure Kate is worth all of this? You could just tell her the truth and we could move on with our lives.”
Charlie opened the door, “Stick with the plan, Anna. She’s worth it.”
“Miss Fox?” I heard as I came to. I blinked my eyes open and squinted at the harsh light shining into the closet. There was a man crouched next to me, frowning, “Are you alright, miss?”
“I… must have passed out.” I whispered as I slowly sat up. “What time is it?” I asked the man who I later identified as the gate keeper.
“It’s two in the afternoon, miss.” He said, helping me to my feet. “May I ask why you were sleeping in a closet?”
I took in a deep breath as last nights’ events came screaming back to me, “No.” I whispered, running out of the lodge.
My boots were exactly where I left them.
“Charlie was looking for you all morning, he thought you left.” He said, following me out onto the porch.
“Are they still here?” I asked as I slipped on my muddy boots.
“Charlie, I mean Charlie. Is he still here?”
“No, I’m sorry. He left around sunrise with Anna.”
“Did they drive separately or together?”
“Separately.” He paused, “Can I, get you anything?”
“Yes.” I stood up, “A car.”
“WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON!?” I screamed to myself as I flew down the highway. “Did I hear that right?!” I said to myself, “Anna is pleading guilty for a murder Charlie committed. Charlie killed John and Anna is taking the blame.” My heart started to race, “Charlie…killed…John.” I whispered out loud. “WHY? Why would Charlie kill John and why would Anna cover for him? What is wrong with that fucked up family?!?!?”
That went on for a while.
I ran every scenario through my head and out loud over and over again and none of it made sense, but the idea of it barely affected me by the time I arrived in the city. I mean sure, the thought of your new boyfriend killing your old one may sound crazy at first, but after you talk to yourself about it for three hours straight, it feels like old news. I convinced myself to play it cool as I parked in front of Liam’s building.
“Act like you know nothing.” I whispered to myself as I climbed out of the car and went inside.
Liam answered by the third knock and looked surprised to see me on the other side of his door.
“Hey…” He said, blinking down at me with his gorgeous blue eyes.
“Hey..” I whispered back. “I’m sorry to show up like this, I just, had no other place to go…”
“No, you’re fine. Come in.” He said stepping aside.
Five steps into his apartment and I heard Charlie’s deep voice.
“You got another pen, Liam? This one ran out.” He said, walking over to us, noticing me immediately. “Kate.” He whispered in surprise, “Where the hell have you been?”
He looked good. Well rested. Showered. No sign of guilt at all. “Out.” Was all I managed to say.
“You just took off! No phone, no note.” Charlie said, taking a step closer to me. His eyes trailed down my body and rested at my feet, “Are those…your boots?” He asked.
I tilted my head to the right, “Why? You recognize them?”
His eyes slowly moved up my body until he met my gaze.
He saw my boots on the porch last night and knew I was at the lodge. He almost looked scared. That pleased me. “No, they just… look a bit big is all.” He lied.
I smiled, “They fit just fine.”
He raised a brow, “Is that right?” He asked, almost grinning.
“That’s right.” I said, locking eyes with him.
He took a step closer to me in a friendly manner but his tone was cold and fierce, “You have no idea what you’re getting yourself into, Red.” He warned.
Slowly, I leaned up and brushed my lips against his ear, “I’ll see you in court.” I threatened.
I watched his jaw clench at my words. He wanted to say so much more, but didn’t want to admit to anything.
“Have a good night.” I said to Liam and Charlie as I backed out of the apartment.
“You’re leaving?” Liam asked with a frown.
“Yea,” I gave Charlie one last glance, “I have some business to take care of.” I said, flashing them an evil grin before I walked down the stairs and out of the building.
I ended up back at the hotel Charlie and I stayed at across from the hospital. I remembered he had a weeks deposit down and it gave me the chance to be close to Finn.
I stopped at the front desk to grab a new key card, then at the gift shop to buy a toothbrush and toothpaste. Ended up also grabbing a bottle of wine and a box of chocolates in case my emotions were to take over.
“Hold the elevator!” I said to a man and woman who gladly blocked the door from closing so I could squeeze in.
I excused myself and leaned in front of them to push floor twelve when there was one more person stopping the elevator door from shutting.
All I saw at first was a strong thick forearm reaching in front of the doors pathway, signaling it to stop and open. I stood up straight, watching as Charlie appeared in front of me like a god damn magic trick, staring down at me with those green eyes, challenging me to say or do something stupid.
Cool and casual, he stepped onto the elevator; Getting comfortable in the back right corner, not saying a word.
My heart started to race as his scent filled the elevator; A clean crisp smell with a hint of expensive cologne that was more than enough to push me over the edge and make me give into my desires but I held my ground. Swallowing hard, I began inching towards the doors as the elevator slowed to a halt but three distracted business men guided me backwards as they rushed inside; forcing me to be even closer to Charlie than I was before.
I could feel him; towering over me. We were only inches apart now. I waited for him to reach out to me; Maybe grab me by the waist and pull me against him so my back rested against his chest. I imagined my reaction would be obedient; Relaxing against him as he brought his lips down to my neck and softly tasted my flesh. The thought alone sent shivers up my spine and heat to my cheeks.
By the time I forced myself to focus on the present, everyone had already exited the elevator and we had arrived on our floor. I couldn’t believe I just had spaced out for so long, but with a deep breath I moved forward. Charlie was on my heels as we made it to our room but he didn’t say a word, he just stayed behind me and waited for me to open the door.
I tried to calm my breathing as I made my way inside. I didn’t know what to expect; I had no idea why he was here but I had a bad feeling about it. Finally, after I set down my gift shop bag, I turned to face him. He was walking my way, slowly, taking his time as he watched me. I had to ignore how good he looked. Dark jeans, grey long sleeve shirt, black dress boots. His left hand gripped his black leather jacket loosely and his free hand hung straight at his side. He was eyeing me up and down as he put one foot in front of the other, admiring his prey.
Neither of us spoke; we didn’t need to. We knew what was about to happen and it was going to end with one of us knocked out or worse. I tried to prepare myself with the few seconds I had left. My hands were shaky and my breathing was becoming more shallow. I had to keep reminding myself why I was so angry; He killed John. He murdered him in your bed and left you to find him. But it didn’t seem to help. All I could think about was his soft lips trailing hot kisses down my neck. What are you gonna do, Kate? I asked myself as Charlie closed the distance between us. I didn’t have an answer, but thankfully he made the first move.
In one swift move Charlie tackled me to the ground, my fall cushioned by the thick rug at the end of the bed. I landed on my back with a gasp and blinked up at him as he wasted no time grabbing my swinging fists and pinning them above my head. Don’t let him get to you, Katherine, my inner goddess was screaming but his scent, his eyes, his weight on top of me. God, I wanted him. I craved him. You will regret this, she warned. Will I?
“Tell me what you know.” Charlie whispered down at me; staring me in the eyes.
I swallowed as my eyes moved down to his lips before meeting his gaze, “I know you killed John and Anna is taking the fall for it.” I whispered back.
“Christ, Kate.” He whispered as he got to his feet and pulled me up. He kept his grip on my wrist and pulled me into the bathroom, “This is what you’re going to do.” He said as he started the shower, “You’re going to take a long relaxing shower, and think about that night. Every detail of it.”
“Why?” I asked, extremely confused. Did I smell?
“Because I’ve found that the shower is the absolute best place to think. You’ve never sat in the shower and daydreamed about a situation or a person?” He asked, looking down at me.
“Yes, but, why do I need to think about that night? I heard you with Anna, you told her-”
“I didn’t admit to killing John, not once. Because I didn’t kill John.”
I frowned, “Are you saying I’ll remember something from that night? Charlie, I think about that night every day, I promise you, I wont find anything new.”
“Look at it from a different perspective, Kate. You’re bound to find something,” Charlie said before he walked out of the bathroom, closing the door behind him.
“What the fuck is going on?” I whispered to myself as I kicked off my boots. What does he expect me to find? I wondered as I undressed and stepped into the shower.
I wasn’t sure where to start when I thought back to the night John was murdered, so I started from the beginning.
Coming home from a long bus ride, John cooking in my kitchen, writing when John didn’t feel like talking, and then Charlie showing up at my door. The way he was looking down at me, this look of intension. He didn’t know anything about me and yet there he was, standing in my doorway, running a chilled finger down the gap in my shirt where my buttons weren’t hooked between my breasts. The way Charlie grinned when he saw John walking up to us. I recognize that grin now; It’s the look Charlie gives when he’s presented with a challenge. He knew I was spoken for, belonged to another man, and he wanted to find out how far he could take it.
I remember being overwhelmed and going into my office to write while John got drunk and played cards with Charlie, and then John went to bed. Seconds later I was in the kitchen with Charlie, talking, and then I remembered what he tasted like and I wanted to taste him again. So I did. I crashed my lips onto his in the middle of the kitchen and let go of all my morals. Charlie slipped his tongue into my mouth the second our lips met, devouring me as his rough hands roamed my body; One hand massaging my breast as the other grabbed at my ass and pushed my groin into his, the large bulge in his pants indicating how much he wanted me.
We both knew it was wrong. My boyfriend was in the other room, sound asleep, and I was in the kitchen fooling around with a man I just met. Before I knew it I was on the kitchen counter, legs spread, Charlie on his knees, running his tongue along my wet slit before he started massaging my clit with his hot tongue. I remember being on cloud nine when he slipped two fingers inside of me as his tongue did wonders and his free hand found my aching full breast.
I was so close to finishing but Charlie wouldn’t allow it. He wanted to feel my pussy spasm around his hard cock as I came, moaning his name. We were in the bedroom now, he was asking me how it felt knowing he was going to be fucking me as my boyfriend slept in the next room, I remember telling him it wouldn’t happen again. What a fool. Then I was on my knees, his large, thick erection in my face. I was intimidated by his size but I didn’t hesitate, I began licking him from base to tip before I took him in my mouth as far as I could, then teasing the tip of his cock with my tongue as my left hand worked his shaft and my right hand massaged his balls.
I remember Charlie’s moans being deep and husky. I became sopping wet just from hearing him moan from the pleasure I was giving him. He had a fistful of my hair as he fucked my mouth deeper and deeper until he picked me up and threw me on the bed. I begged him to fuck me, and he did. His eyes never left mine as he crawled on top of me and guided his cock into my throbbing slit. He stretched me and filled me completely before he sat up and grabbed my hips so he could thrust in and out of me as hard and fast as he pleased.
It was a welcoming pain, the way he filled me completely. I couldn’t seem to keep my voice down, my moans were bouncing off the walls and so were Charlie’s. Then he flipped me on my stomach and lifted my ass in the air before he guided himself into me again, harder this time. That was my favorite position with him. The way his cock rubbed against my g-spot as he slammed into me, Jesus Christ.
Minutes later I was sitting in his lap, my back against his chest, begging him to let me cum. That’s when he claimed me as his, “You are mine, you understand me?” I remember him growling in my ear, sending me over the edge. I came so hard that night I didn’t know it was possible to experience such pleasure. Charlie fought the urge to cum but that didn’t last, he pulled out just in time and came all over my back as he moaned in ecstasy.
We were exhausted after that. We cleaned up and then went to sleep. I vaguely remember getting up in the middle of the night to wash my hands, but I must have gone to the bathroom? I was at the kitchen sink though, so, maybe I was thirsty? But why would I….wait. Wait.
I did go into John’s room. Holy shit. I woke up in the middle of the night and went to check on him. I sat at the edge of the bed and watched him sleep. Why did I do that? Everything after that was such a blur. He wasn’t dead when I went in there, I remember his subtle snores and his chest rising and falling. I always hated it when he snored but it didn’t bother me that night. I kind of remember going into my closet for a change of clothes? I’m not sure…
Then it hit me. The dagger at the bottom of the closet. I grabbed it. I pulled back the comforter and watched John sleep a few seconds longer before I stabbed him, seven times, with no remorse. I watched him bleed out in front of me, gurgling on his own blood before I dropped the dagger out the window and went to go wash my hands.
“Oh my god.” I whispered as I came back to reality. “Oh my god!” I sobbed, sliding down the tile wall, letting the warm water fall on me as I pulled my knees to my chest and rocked back and forth. “What did I do?!” I cried, “John, I’m so sorry” I sobbed over and over again, “I’m so sorry.”
Charlie eventually had to come get me out of the shower. He dried me off, dressed me, and put me to bed. I couldn’t think, I couldn’t speak, I just cried; For two days straight. Charlie was beside me the entire time, making sure I ate, calming me down when I woke up screaming, held my hair back as the images of John made me puke. He saw a completely different side of me, and I of him. I had so many questions to ask but I couldn’t handle the answers just yet. I couldn’t handle anything. I closed my eyes and I saw John’s dead body, I washed my hands and I saw his blood, I felt what it was like to stick a dagger into a living being and I broke down. I could barely function for those two days. On the third day I got out of bed to shower, and on the fourth day I finally spoke.
“Did you know?” I asked Charlie, staring up at the stars as we sat out on the balcony with blankets and tea.
Charlie seemed surprised at first that I was even talking at all, then he looked down at his feet, “I was standing in the doorway as you tossed the dagger out the window.” He said softly, “You walked right past me to go to the kitchen. You didn’t even see me, Kate. You were in a different state of mind. Almost as if you were sleep walking.” He explained, “It was the most disturbing thing I think I’ve ever seen.”
“Why didn’t you call the cops?” I whispered softly as warm tears spilled down my cheeks.
“Honestly, I didn’t want anything to do with it.” He shrugged, “I just wanted to clear my prints and get the hell out of there.” He sighed, “And then you showed up at the camp, convinced that I did it. Then I was intrigued. I was curious as to what you could do. That’s when I brought in my team, told them a couple white lies about the murder case and had them investigate. Finn, though, I told everything to. I needed someone to keep an eye on you when I couldn’t and I knew he could handle it. Unfortunately, though, you showed no signs of being crazy. You ended up being this sweet, innocent woman who had no idea of what she was capable of.”
I couldn’t believe it, “You went through a lot of trouble, Charlie. You should have just admitted me to the nut house.” I whispered.
He grinned, “Nah, I liked ya too much.”
I huffed, “Yea, right.” I thought about his story a little more, “How did you get the dagger back?”
“It landed in your neighbor’s window basket full of flowers. I went back the day Finn took you to meditation and grabbed it.”
“And Anna? Why is she trying to take the blame for such a terrible thing?” I asked, more confused about that than anything.
Charlie sighed, “That’s the other thing we have to talk about…”
“Oh god.” I whispered.
“Anna is responsible for your parents’ death.” He said softly.
I sat up straight and looked at him, “My parents died in the explosion at our vacation home.” The blood was starting to pump back into my brain. There was no fucking way.
“Apparently they met Anna there. They…told her about the life they had with you and, she didn’t handle that too well. Anna went through a bad time when our mother died. Lou was this piece of shit human being who paid us no mind and I think she was jealous that you had the perfect life; Loving parents, house in the suburbs…” He shrugged, “Even back then she didn’t take jealousy well. So, she did what she does best and I got stuck cleaning up her mess.
I didn’t even realize who you were the night we met until you told me your parents were dead and I connected the dots.” He sighed, “Anyway, once I saw Anna had a paper trail connecting her to insanity, I came up with a story about her framing you and then she could take the blame for murdering John and all would be well again.” He cleared his throat, “Well, she didn’t like that so much. Decided to burn your house down and try to kill you instead.”
“Jesus fucking Christ, Charlie!”
“I know. Trust me. I underestimated her crazy.” He said, “But because she’s certifiably insane, I finally convinced her that she would have a better life once she was locked up.”
“This is so much deeper than I could have ever imagined.” I whispered.
“Yea.” Charlie agreed.
“What if Anna backs out last minute?”
“Then I give the police the recording I have of her admitting to the murder.”
“Wow, you have that?” I asked.
I sat back in silence and let everything sink in, “Thank you, Charlie.” I whispered, “I owe you my life.”
“You owe me nothing, Kate. We just need to lie low for the next few months and wait for Anna’s trial date and then it will be all over with. I promise.” He said as he put an arm around my shoulder.
I knew it would take a few days for the reality of all of this to set in, but I was thankful Charlie was by my side. I would never be able to repay him for the ridiculous things he’s done for me, but I would spend the rest of my life trying. “Charlie” I whispered, looking over at him.
“Yea?” He whispered, looking over at me.
I leaned into him slowly, taking my time as I pressed my lips against his before I pulled back so we were nose to nose.
He was looking me in the eyes as he ran his thumb along my bottom lip, admiring it before he leaned in and kissed me back. It was slow at first, soft, intimate, but our hunger grew for one another as it always does. His hands were in my hair as his tongue explored my mouth eagerly. He tasted sweet and delicious and I couldn’t help but release a soft moan as he deepened the kiss. We were completely engulfed in one another; Becoming more passionate and rough as our tongues danced in each others mouths and bit at each others lips.
It wasn’t until a continuous buzzing went off that Charlie slowly pulled away from me, “Hang on.” He whispered as he reached in his back pocket and looked at his phone. “It’s Liam. Five missed calls. I should call him back.”
I nodded, “Of course, yea.” I whispered between breaths.
Charlie hit Liam’s name and stood up as he put the phone to his ear. “Hey, brother, what’s going on?” He asked. I watched a frown appear on his beautiful face, “Wait what do you mean she’s not there? I walked her in myself five days ago!” He said as he started to pace, “No, she had the murder weapon in a sealed bag, in her hand. I didn’t see her give it to them, I turned my back for two seconds-” He paused, “So she posted bail.” He chuckled, “And now you can’t find her.” He sighed, “Yea, I’ll call you back.” He said as he hung up the phone.
“Anna’s gone, isn’t she?” I asked him.
Charlie looked over at me and nodded, “Yea, she’s gone.”
“Great.” I sighed. “What do we do now, Charlie?”
“We find her.”