Soundtrack Song - Aly and AJ, Blush
I didn't want to leave, but I knew I had to. That little fucker just showed up and invited himself in.... As soon as I knew who he was, I wanted to punch his lights out. When he opened his mouth, I wanted to hit him even more. Everything that Charlotte had said wasn't enough to prepare me for him.
I had tried to stay calm, but I knew that staying in the same building with him wasn't going to be conducive to solving her problem. If I had stayed, we just would have fought. So I sped home, took out my contacts, threw on my glasses, grabbed a fresh pair of boxers, jeans, and a hoodie, and ran right back out the door.
When I get back to Charlotte's, her door's unlocked. I open it and step right on in. The place is quiet, so I assume John's gone. The farther into her apartment I walk, the more aware I am that it's not completely silent. The sound of muffled sobs come from her room. That door is open, and I peer in.
Immediately, the breath is sucked out of my lungs and I stop in my tracks. She's in jeans but not in a shirt. I fear the worst and start kicking myself for not sticking around and letting him hurt her. I should have known better, because she told me all about him. What did he do to her? If he.... I'll kill him.
"Get out," she says, her voice low and hoarse.
"Baby, it's me," I quietly reply.
"I have a name, you know." Her tone is caustic and biting.
"I know. Charlotte." I try to keep my own voice level and smooth, knowing that she's upset and hoping that she doesn't mean that. She knows she's my only girl, and I don't call her that because I don't know her name or because I'm afraid of saying someone else's. I'd never put her through what I had to experience when that happened.
"I'm sorry," she whispers. "He just said.... I'm sorry."
I walk in her room and sit beside her, still scared to touch her. "It's okay. Did he.... I mean, he didn't...."
Charlotte shakes her head as I grab a blanket off her bed and wrap it around her bare shoulders. "No. He just barged in while I was changing."
She punches me against the chest. It's not a real punch; she hits me with the bottom of her clenched fist. "It wouldn't have happened if you had been here! I still can't believe you just walked out on me like that! When I needed you!"
I grab her wrist as she's about to do that again. It's not like it really hurt, but I hate that she's taking out this aggression on me. Because that's what this is: it's safe to lash out at me now that she's safe instead of taking out this anger on the person who caused it. "Stop it. You didn't need me. You did it, and you did it on your own. Charlotte, I'm so proud of you for sticking up for yourself, and it must feel really good that you did it." I rub circles on the pressure point of her wrist, and she calms down a little.
"I don't know. I don't feel any different. I mean, I thought I'd feel like the clouds cleared out of the sky to reveal the sun, or something like that, but it's not like that." Something buzzes or beeps from the other room. "The oven," she explains. "I forgot about that."
She stands and tosses off the blanket, reaching for the sweatshirt on the floor and pulling it over her head. "Why don't we forget about dinner? It's been a rough day so far."
"It's okay. I don't want to let him ruin anything else. Thanksgiving doesn't go away just because I'm having a bad day. Besides," she groans, "I have to call my mother."
Charlotte leaves the room, but I stay there for a moment and try to soak everything in. We've had a crazy few days, but maybe now we can finally get back to happy. Where we belong. I hear as she works in the kitchen, and I sneak into the bathroom and snoop around. Bath salts? What the hell are bath salts? Then I find some orange blossom bubble bath. This I can handle.
I finish Operation Turkey, which had been so rudely interrupted. Once that is completed, I turn my attention to more unpleasant tasks. I find my cell and flip through the contacts, until I find my mother's number.
Here goes nothing.
The phone rings twice before she picks it up. "Happy Thanksgiving, Sweet Pea!"
"Happy Thanksgiving, Mom."
"So? How is your day going?" She asks, the pitch of her voice high as she probes for answers. I know exactly what she's doing.
"You will never guess who showed up at my apartment," I say sarcastically.
She plays the game with me. "Really? Who?"
"My ex-boyfriend, John. You remember him, don't you?"
"Of course, I do! How is he?"
"Oh Mom, stop with this. You know how he is because you spoke with him. I know all about it. You can't do shit like that."
"Watch your language, young lady."
"Whatever. Mom, you're missing the point."
"I don't see what the big deal is. He's such a nice boy, and you're breaking his heart. I don't know why you can't see what's right in front of your face."
"He's not the kind of guy you think he is. It's all an act, and he doesn't make me happy anymore. You're supposed to be on my side."
"I am on your side, sweetie, and that's why I'm trying to push you in the right direction. You're going to regret it if you keep pushing him away, because he won't wait around forever for you to change your mind. You're just being foolish."
We've been over this so many times. "I don't care if you think I'm not doing the right thing. It's not about what you want for me; it's about what I want for myself. And I need you to support me in that."
She becomes more condescending. "I can't support you when I see that you're making a mistake. He's a great guy, so don't let him go."
"If you think he's such a great guy, why don't you marry him?" I sigh.
"Don't be silly. You know I'm happily married to your stepfather. I just want to see the same happen for you."
"It will, Mom. Just not with John. You need to understand that and stop trying to interfere, okay? I can't believe you gave him my address."
"Well, you told me that I couldn't give him your new phone number. What else was I supposed to do?"
"Not give him anything! Don't call him! He's not a part of our family. He never was. He was my boyfriend. It's like you're a twelve-year-old caught in the middle of a divorce. Just lay off, Mom."
"I don't appreciate the attitude," she counters. "I was just trying to help."
"If that's how you help, I don't want it. I know you feel bad for him, but don't bother. He's not your responsibility. I hope you enjoy your dinner," I say, hanging up. I feel so bad for talking to my mother that way, but it's impossible to be nice to her when she's like this. I always thought children were supposed to get along with their parents, but our personalities just clash too much to be the Leave It to Beaver kind of family I wish we were.
I place my phone on the counter and sigh. We'll probably have this same conversation in a week. Now that my call is over, I notice just how quiet it is in my apartment. It's never this quiet when Max is around. What is he up to? First I poke my head into my room, where I left him, only to see he isn't there. Faint humming floats through the air, and I follow the sound into the bathroom.
Max is in my undersized tub, surrounded by way too many bubbles. The room smells like oranges. He gives me that big grin of his that makes his eyes sparkle with mischief. "What are you doing?" I laugh.
"I figured you could use a nice, hot, relaxing bath."
"Well, yeah. The bath is relaxing. I'm the nice and hot part."
I giggle at his cheesy lines and unbutton my jeans. "I don't know. That tub looks awfully small. I'm not sure there's room in there for me." I'm teasing him, because I know full well that I'm going to end up in there with him. Nice, hot, and relaxing sounds perfect right about now. Maybe now this is the part where Max and I can forget about all the crazy and bad things that have happened lately and get back to that elusive happy place we were at so recently.
"Don't worry, baby. You'll fit, even if you have to squeeze in." He draws circles in the bubbles, and that's all the invitation I need. I step out of my pants and shed my sweatshirt, and then sink into the tub quickly under his watchful gaze. I dip my head back, submerging myself under the water, and then I resurface and slide toward him. The tub is too small for this, and Max has to throw one leg over the side of the tub so I can awkwardly lean my back against his chest.
"This is incredibly uncomfortable, but this may be the best idea you've ever had," I say with a smile, resting my head against his shoulder.
His hands caress down my arms in a soothing motion. "I thought you'd like it." Max pauses. "So, how did the call with your mother go?"
I wish that Max wouldn't have brought that up, seeing as though this is supposed to be relaxing, but it's easier to talk about it when he's rubbing and massaging my shoulders. I close my eyes and enjoy it, despite the topic of discussion. "She doesn't get it. No one in my family does, really. He made such a good first impression that she can't see past it. I told her to stop interfering, and I hope she does."
"And what about John? Is he gone for good?"
"Mmm," I moan, enjoying his touch a little too much to think clearly. "I think so. I don't know what else I can do to make it clear to him, besides get a restraining order against him. I just wish he'd disappear."
"I wish he'd get hit by a bus. Preferably a Port Authority bus."
I smile. It's mean; I shouldn't find humor in this. "Don't say that, Max."
"What? Can you blame me?"
"It's not that," I laugh, running my nails across his knee. It always surprises me that Max isn't as hairy as he would appear to be. "Wouldn't you feel bad for all the passengers on that bus?"
Max chuckles behind me, and his shaking chest makes me move with him. He sweeps my hair over one shoulder and kisses below my ear. The contact makes me shiver. "You're right. Oh, Charlotte. I love you."
I tense a little. "This is your special moment?" I ask, so confused. He didn't want to say it this morning, but now? After everything that happened and the fact that we're currently talking about my dreadful ex?
"I thought about it," he says, and his mouth is so close to me that I can feel his lips move as he speaks. The breath he exhales sends jolts all over my body as it hits my neck. "And every moment I spend with you is perfect. So, why wait to say it? I love you."
He kisses my neck again, and I feel his hand move to my inner thigh. It's a good thing he's busy, so he can't see my face redden. I want to believe him when he says things like this, but as good as they make me feel, I don't want to get sucked into thinking he means everything he says.
Of course, I believe him when he says he loves me. Max wouldn't have put up with everything over the past few days—hell, put up with me at all for the past couple of months—if he didn't care. Although, honestly, I don't know how he could have fallen for me, when there are so many other girls out there that he would have had an easier time with—
I'm pulled out of my thoughts when I feel his hand slide between my legs and one of his fingers brushes against my clit. I choke out a breath at the unexpected touch.
"You were thinking about something too much." Max nibbles on my earlobe until I turn my head as far back as it'll go so he'll kiss me. Our tongues swirl and twirl together in a heated dance. His hand quickens its pace, and I reach behind me and wrap my own hand around him, helping him get hard for me.
When I can't take it anymore, I turn around and try to face him in the tiny tub. Max wraps his arms around my waist and pulls me against him, but my knees can't find purchase against the slick porcelain and my bottom slides away from underneath me, making our foreheads collide. Neither of us seem to notice the pain as we struggle to our feet and make our way into my bedroom, leaving a trail of puddles and bubbles behind us.