Breaking The Friend Zone
Music - Halestorm - In Your Room
"Can't a girl and a guy just be friends without it meaning anything?" He looked over to where Charlie sat outside. Her beautiful dark eyes staring back at him. He sighed. "Apparently not."
Disclaimer: If your reading this and suddenly come across a character called Rachel and think "WTF who is this chick" Fear not, she has not magically teleported herself into the story. The loving friend Addison, was originally named Rachel and I tried to re-edit as well as i could. There shouldn't be any but just in case...yeah..okay enjoy...
The oven timer beeped loudly from downstairs and his stomach growled with approval. With a triumphant smile, he pushed away from his desk and sighed, glad to be ditching the oversized textbooks for a moment. As fascinating as physics was to him, he was more interested in the fresh batch of nachos awaiting his looming hunger.
He finished scrawling his last note and stashed it into the book. Stretching as he got up from the chair, his muscles groaned and creaked in relief to finally being moved. He yawned and trudged out of his bedroom, downstairs, into the kitchen.
He retrieved the steaming food from the oven, piled it onto a plate and made the journey back to his room. Outside, wind howled through the trees and rain pelted down against the tin roof. His window, which was usually shut, had opened slightly and was already draining the heat from the room.
He placed the food on his desk and hurried over to examine the gap. He began to tug the window back down…
"You shut this window and I'll kick your ass!"
The voice was laced with such anger that he actually gulped. Meal now forgotten, he began to scramble backwards, towards his only escape. The gap in the window became wider as a pair of tiny hands gripped the frame.
"For gods sakes, Jeremy! Let me in!" She screamed against the rumbling of thunder.
He stumbled forwards and opened the window fully, rain spraying him in the face from the raging storm. He reached outside and found her wrists, dragging her inside.
They both tumbled to the ground. She glared at him.
"You look like a drowned rat!" He grinned at her. "I don't suppose it's raining?"
"No of course not!" She growled, rolling away off him. "I just had the sudden urge to jump in the shower with all my clothes on."
He smiled gently and picked a twig out of her hair. The corners of her mouth twitched. "Your stupid tree attacked me."
"I see that." He nodded, getting to his feet. "Did you ever think of using a door? I mean, most people find it fairly sufficient, maybe you would too."
Her mouth fell open and her eyes shot daggers at him. "I knocked like a million times and you wouldn't answer!"
"A million times. Wow, Charlie, that's quite a number." He laughed, running a hand through his dark hair.
"Idiot." She muttered. Her anger was slowly evaporating. Her mouth continued to twitch before a full grin broke across her face. Her eyes lit up and she slouched against the wall, giggling like she'd lost all sanity.
"What are you doing here?" Jeremy asked her. She shrugged and began pulling off her soaking coat, which seemed useless to protect her as her singlet was also soaked and clinging to her body. Her auburn hair was tousled around her face, damp and knotted. Her jeans and shoes dripped relentlessly, leaving a small puddle beneath her feet.
"Mom and Dad are at it again." Charlie sighed. "I had to get out of there before they started throwing things."
"Good idea." Jeremy amended. He took her coat and hung it over his door. He then wandered to his closet and pulled out an old shirt and a pair of jeans, and handed them over. She left so much of her things at his house that he'd made a special section of his closet just to cater for her needs.
She smiled thankfully and trudged down the hallway, making her way to the bathroom. Jeremy slumped down on his bed, plopped a corn chip in his mouth and switched on the DVD player. He could hear the water switch on and loud cursing as she stuffed up the hot and cold taps. He allowed himself a small smile and returned to the screen.
Minutes later, after singing countless songs to the showerhead, Charlie emerged in dry clothes with her thick hair brushed and de-twigged. She looked at him curiously from the doorway, her dark eyes gazing out from her bangs. He paused the television and looked up.
"Are you watching Star Trek?" She asked, her eyes slightly going wide.
He nodded and patted the seat next to him. "Picked up the DVD yesterday. Bonus Features. All seasons."
She looked hesitant. "Charlie," Jeremy said, his voice pleading. "C'mon I know there's a trekkie heart beating inside you."
She smiled but it didnt touch her eyes. "If only Cole could see me now...I'm sure he'd be -"
"It's okay." Jeremy cut in. "He won't care." He hated seeing her worried like that. Personally, he hated Cole Hastings. He was "The Boyfriend." And it wasn't that Jeremy was jealous of Cole…well he might have been a little bit jealous… but it was the fact that he bossed her around and made her unhappy.
Charlie sighed and padded across the floor barefoot. She curled up next to him, placing her head on his shoulder, her breathing slow and relaxed. They sat there for hours, not speaking but simply enjoying being in their company like always.
As it got late, Charlie yawned, her eyelids beginning to lower. Jeremy carefully pulled her into his arms and carried her to his bed. She was so light. Like a doll.
Her eyes fluttered as he set down a stuffed bunny next to her. She wrapped her arms around it, pulling it to her chest. She'd named him "Mr. Rupert" an odd name for a bunny, Jeremy thought.
Charlie smiled gently, mumbled something incoherent, and shut her eyes, drifting into darkness.
Jeremy's eyelids grew heavy and he too, fell asleep. The couch was a poor substitute for his bed, and he shifted constanly during his sleep. But he was happy giving it up for her. They were best friends. And that's what best friends were for.
Whack! He woke up to a pillow being slammed in his face. He opened his eyes to see a tumble of red waves falling over him. Big, brown eyes stared down at him.
"Wakey, wakey." Charlie said in a light, singsong voice. She brought the pillow down again. Whack! "Time to get up." Whack! "I know how you nerds like to always be on time." Whack! Whack! "C'mon Jer, get up!"
She lifted the pillow high again but Jeremy grabbed her wrist and pulled her down. She squealed as he ripped the pillow from her hands and smacked her over the head. She sat up, folded her arms over her chest, and sighed.
"Okay, okay!" She huffed. "You win."
Jeremy smiled and smacked her once more. "Just to be even." He explained, chucking the pillow across the room. She climbed off the couch and started walking downstairs. He quickly changed into a sweater and jeans, and followed her.
She was sitting at the bench sipping from a glass. Jeremy chucked a few slices of bread into the toaster and leaned against the counter.
"Aren't you hungry?" He asked her. Charlie shook her head.
"I'm fine." She answered, licking the orange juice from her lips.
"Are you sure? You didn't eat anything last night…"
"I'm fine." She repeated, her voice stronger, more persistent. She looked away.
Jeremy pressed the subject. "When did you eat last?"
She looked back and scowled. "I'm not a baby Jer," She insisted. "I can take care of myself."
She sighed. "I ate lunch yesterday." She answered. "I wasn't hungry after that. Don't worry."
"At least have something now, then." He tried. She shook her head.
Jeremy snatched the toast and quickly tossed them onto a plate before they could burn his fingers. Charlie giggled. He coated them in peanut butter and pushed a slice towards her.
"No, I told you. I'm fine." He raised an eyebrow and she scowled, putting the bread into her mouth. "Happy now?"
"Immensely." He replied with a smirk.
They finished eating and Jeremy washed the dishes while Charlie quickly changed. She came back minutes later wearing a skirt and frilly singlet that he'd only ever seen her wear when she was out in the public eye. Another thing Charlie did to hide herself.
Jeremy shook his head slightly but kept his thoughts hidden. She was sensitive. He knew anything he'd say could upset her. And he really didn't want her to be upset.
They walked to school together, laughing and chatting about nothing in particular. The walk from Jeremy's house was short. He lived in a small flat close to the school, a cheap building he could afford to keep without having to share the same house as his mother. That was their condition, he could move out, as long as he was the one paying for it.
At the school gates, Jeremy parted from Charlie. Her friends didn't like him hanging around with her because he "was too dorky." Charlie insisted he stay but he knew she'd be lectured by those prissy girls and he didn't want to give her any trouble.
Addison and Liam, his friends from the AV club, met him in the library. They waved enthusiastically from the computers. He pulled up a chair and greeted them with a smile.
Addison was fairly tall with black curly hair and dull green eyes. She had her nose buried deep in a book about Evolution while next to her, Liam was busy playing computer games.
"How's it going?" Liam asked, his eyes briefly leaving the screen. "Saw you walking with Charlie." He wiggled his eyebrows suggestively. Addison slapped him.
"Leave him alone." She hissed. "I think it's sweet the way he looks after her."
"We're just friends." Jeremy said quickly.
"Sure." Addison shared a look with Liam. "Keep telling yourself that."
Jeremy rolled his eyes and drummed his fingers against the table in agitation. Liam shut the computer down and swerved around to face him.
"Are we still on for the mall this afternoon?" He asked them both.
Addison and Jeremy nodded. Liam let out a sigh of relief. "Great, cause Dad confiscated my car, so I'll be needing a lift."
"You can come with me." Addison replied, her tone a little too eager. She let her hair fall over her face and looked away.
"What did you do?" Jeremy asked, raising an eyebrow.
"I ran a red light. Got a ticket. Dad's not happy." Liam muttered. He was still staring at Addison with a curious look on his face. "But that's not gonna stop me from getting to that mall. I think the new "Zombie Apocalypse" is out at the Game Shack. Pretty awesome."
"MmHmm" Addison murmured, regaining her composure. "Should be good."
They got up and walked out of the library, chatting excitedly. Jeremy stared across the courtyard and Addison and Liam's voices soon began to fade out. He was watching her.
She stood under one of the trees, her long hair flowing around her face in the breeze. She was trying to smile, but Jeremy could tell it was fake. Next to her, a short blonde girl giggled and brushed her hair out of her eyes.
But it was Cole his eyes were mainly on. He had his brawny footballer arms wrapped around her waist, pulling her close. Charlie was ignoring him as he kissed her neck, and she continued to talk to her friend. Jeremy smiled as her elbow went back, lightly hitting Cole in the chest. He stopped kissing her, his expression changing to confusion.
"…kidding himself if he thinks that they're just friends." Liam's voice drifted back in. "He's gone totally deaf. That's one of the few symptoms of love sickness."
Jeremy slapped him and Liam looked sheepish. "Welcome back to the world of the living." He rubbed the back of his head with a frown.
"Come on, Jeremy." Addison murmured, tugging on his arm. He shot a brief glance back at Charlie and Cole. They stood facing each other now. He couldn't see Charlie's face but he could see Cole's and he looked…pissed.
Charlie turned around suddenly and looked right at him from across the yard. Their eyes met and he could see that they were red-rimmed.
She'd been crying again.
Jeremy was furious. He couldn't help it. Seeing her sad. Seeing the way Cole was looking at her. It made him want to hit the guy with a car.
"Whoa, Jeremy, are you alright there?" Liam asked.
"Fantastic." He replied stiffly. "Why?"
"It's just…" Liam started. "You're squeezing the hell out of your jelly doughnut."
Jeremy looked down and saw the sticky mess on his hands. He dropped the mutilated treat and looked at it, disgusted.
Addison sat down with them, a coffee in her hand. She took a sip and cringed before pouring three sachets of sugar into the steaming liquid. "So, since we clearly have nothing to do tomorrow night, we should totally hit the DVD rentals and pick up something nice. Although I must warn you, it's Liam's turn to pick what we watch so we'll probably be watching a stupid …"
Liam beamed. "Horror movie."
Jeremy shrugged. "Whatever."
Addison looked at him and sighed. "I really didn't think doughnuts were that interesting."
"Then why do you feel the need to keep staring at it?" She said quietly. "She's fine, Jer. Cole won't hurt her."
"How can you know that?" Jeremy glanced up. "The dude put a kid in hospital for looking at him oddly."
"Yeah…okay I think you're exaggerating a bit. We all know he'd never hurt Charlie. He really does care about her. Give them a chance to work it out." She continued. "Just because you might be jea-"
"I'm not Jealous." Jeremy growled.
"Sure you're not." She muttered under her breath. He glowered at her and she grinned back.
"So..this conversation just got slightly awkward." Liam breathed. "Now, I'm thinking we go with either The Ring or Wolf Creek.." He beamed. "Or we could do both!"
"Liam, sweetie. We watch those two ALL the time when it's your choice." Addison patted his hand.
"Yeah but that's cause they're the most AWESOME." He nodded his head so hard you would've expected it to snap. "What do you think Jer? Jeremaih? Jemerberry? Hellooo?"
"I don't care." Jeremy replied, waving him off.
"Yeesh." Liam nudged Addison. "That time of the month eh?"
Addison turned to Liam and raised an eyebrow. He shrunk back in his chair. "Oh..right. I forgot you were a girl."
"Thanks. That does wonders for my self confidence."
Liam laughed nervously and slid off his chair to the floor. Bending on one knee, he clasped his hands together and looked at her pleadingly. "Please miss Addison. I implore you. Please forgive my impudent manner. I am only a young, foolish peasant who is yet to learn the ways of a gentlemen."
Addison pursed her lips and looked at Jeremy who trying to stay in his emotionless facade. A small chuckle escaped his lips.
"I'll take the rest of your fries and we watch The Jerk Theory instead." She bargained.
Liam blinked. "Are you serious? That movie sucks." Liam sat back at the table and pushed his basket of fries towards the smug girl.
"Its adorable." Addison sighed happily.
"Whats adorable?" A chirpy voice asked. Jeremy, Addison and Liam looked up.
"Hey Charlie," Addison waved. "Hey...Shawnee."
The little blonde girl nodded stiffly and looked away. "Charlotte," she whispered. "What are we doing here?"
Charlie ignored. "Mind if we join you? I'm absolutely starving after all this shopping." She indicated to the colorful bags at her sides.
"Of course," Addison grinned. "I haven't seen you in a while, you know."
Charlie frowned. "I know, I'm so sorry. I've just been so busy with cheer practice and then Cole's got his sports so…" She trailed off. "Anyway that's why I'm here. I was going to see if you three wanted to come to a party tomorrow night?"
"Actually we were just planning on…" Liam was cut off by a kick under the table.
"Yeah, that sounds like fun." Jeremy answered her. Her smile grew wider and she sat down next to him, Shawnee awkwardly hovering beside her.
Blondie looked astounded. "What are you doing inviting them?"
"They're my friends." Charlie snapped.
Shawnee sighed and took a seat as the waiter wandered back over to the table.
"Can I get you girls anything to eat?" He asked, looking a little bit too friendly.
Shawnee flipped her hair over her shoulder and batted her eyelashes. Addison rolled her eyes.
"I'll have a diet coke please." She ordered, flashing him a bright smile.
"And you?" The waiter asked, looking at Charlie who was examining the menu.
"I'll get a burger with the lot please. With extra pickles." She grinned, looking up from the menu. "Oh and I'll get a diet coke too. Thank y-"
Shawnee leaned over to whisper something in Charlie's ear. Jeremy straightened up and watched as her face paled. She looked back up at the waiter then to Shawnee, and breathed.
"Sorry, actually I'm not really that hungry. Maybe just the coke and a blueberry muffin?" She said it as a question, like she was unsure of what she was doing.
Shawnee nodded approvingly.
Charlie hesitated and looked down. "Thank you," She said to the waiter, not meeting his eyes.
Addison leaned across to Liam and whispered something. His eyes widened slightly but he shook his head. Jeremy pursed his lips but remained silent.
"So what are you all up too?" Charlie asked.
"Actually we're heading down to the Game Shack." Liam answered. "The new Zombie Apocalypse came out so we're going to-"
Shawnee scoffed. "You actually play that? How old are you?"
"Shawnee," Charlie warned. "They can do what they want." Her eyes flickered to Jeremy and they shared a smile. He knew she'd be over later to play it herself.
Blondie looked taken aback but shook it off, staring at the ceiling. Clearly she wasn't used to being snubbed before.
"What's this party you were talking about?" Liam asked her.
"Oh, it's just a thing Cole organized." She explained. "I don't usually like to go but if you guys are up for it then I'll make an exception."
Jeremy grinned. The waiter came back with their orders and Charlie scoffed down her muffin in seconds as if she'd never been fed before. Shawnee tentatively sipped her coke while Charlie downed hers.
As soon as the last drop was gone, Shawnee leapt out of her chair. "I guess we'd better get a move on then." She announced, pulling Charlie to her feet.
"Oh, um, okay." Charlie stuttered.
"We'll probably head to the arcade later if you wanna come?" Addison asked Charlie.
"Actually that sounds really fun-"
"But we really must be going." Shawnee finished.
Charlie's face paled again and she nodded. "Right. Uh, okay. I'll see you guys tomorrow night then?"
"Absolutely." Jeremy agreed.
"I guess so." Addison and Liam grumbled.
Jeremy didn't hear from Charlie after the mall which worried him. She didn't pick up the phone whenever he called. He'd walked to her house but her car was missing, and her mother said she was out. Given up, he took a trip to Barnes & Nobles on Saturday evening, hoping to find her since she loved hanging out at the bookstore. He was relieved when he spotted her.
She was sitting alone at a desk in the corner, buried in a textbook. She didn't look up as he approached but shifted uncomfortably.
"Hey," He greeted.
"Hi" She replied.
"Is everything alright?" He blurted. "I tried to call but…"
She looked up at him and shook her head. "Dad walked out last night."
She sniffled. "He walked out of the house. Just like that."
His legs worked of their own volition and carried him to her. She didn't budge, so he wrapped his arms around her shoulders and pressed her against him.
"I'm so sorry." He whispered. She let out a small sob and turned to bury her face in his chest.
"When I got home…they were yelling…Mom told him to get out…and he just left." Her voice was broken, lifeless. "He didn't even look at me when I got home. No goodbye. He was just…gone." A tear plopped onto his wrist.
"I don't know if he's coming back." She whispered. "I keep thinking he will….that he'll come home…but they were pretty serious…and I…" Her sobs became silent but her body still racked with each one. When she looked up again, her face was puffy and red. "How could he do this?"
Jeremy touched her cheek and helped her up. "Where are we going?" She asked him.
He shrugged and grabbed her hand tugging her out of the bookstore. She moved sluggishly down the sidewalk, her back hunched under the weight of her backpack.
Jeremy grabbed it from her and slung it over his shoulder. It was pretty damn heavy. He winced. "What have you got in here? An elephant?"
She giggled slightly and wiped her eyes. "I bought a few physics textbooks."
Jeremy grinned broadly. "You're taking the class again?"
She smiled. "Yeah. I am. I thought about it and I decided who cares what people think? It's my life not theirs."
"He didn't like you studying it, did he?"
She laughed drily. "Nope. He's not into smart girls."
"Lucky for him you're not smart then."
She looked at Jeremy and slapped him, giggling even more now. He joined in, chuckling as they walked towards the beach. They kicked off their shoes and ran across the sand at full speed, chasing each other around like they did when they were kids.
Charlie leapt onto Jeremy's back, wrapping her arms around him and burying her head in the crook of his neck. He smiled and ran down the beach with her, into the cool, sparkling water. He set her down and they splashed each other. Charlie would squeal and try to run out of the cold just as Jeremy would grab her by her waist and pull her back in. She smiled a beautiful, true smile.
They plopped down on the dunes and watched the sun start to set. She rested her head against his shoulder and they breathed heavily, their heartbeats quick and erratic. Charlie looked up at him with her dark eyes and sighed.
"Thank you," She murmured.
"For what?" Jeremy asked.
"Everything." She answered. "For being there for me. For taking care of me. Even on my worst days, even when I was cruel to you, you'd never give up on me."
She kissed his cheek lightly and snuggled closer to him. They stayed like that for what seemed like forever, long after the sun had finally disappeared behind the darkening sky and all that was left in the world was them.
By the time Liam's sedan rolled onto Cole's street, the sky was tar black. High power lights beamed down over them as they pulled up to the house, the car slowing down under the shade of the great oak trees. Liam was desperate to keep it hidden in fear of a repeat TP offense like last year.
Jeremy and Addison swung out of the backseat. After the mishap with Liam's cat puking in the passenger side, nobody dared to sit there anymore.
The air still had the earlier heat from the sun and was filled with the sounds of music pumping from the massive house on the end of the street. Outside, drunken teenagers loitered about the front yard, rambling to themselves, making out in the garden. A group sat on the porch chugging down cup after cup of beer.
"You're right Jeremy. Who would want to spend their Saturday night inside playing dungeons and dragons and watching movies," Addison muttered, "when we could be catching STDs and killing our brain cells instead?"
Liam snorted and they walked together up the marble pathway. The moon was a mere sliver of gold now, the sky littered with tiny pinpricks of light.
They crossed the threshold, clustered incredibly close as if they were too scared to be separated. Jeremy scanned the entrance, searching for her.
"What are you doing here?"
Cole Hastings sneered at them. His hands were folded over his chest, his stance menacing. He looked directly at Jeremy and stepped forward like he was about to hit him.
"I invited them." A small voice squeaked. They all turned their heads to where Charlie stood dressed in a short blue dress. Her hair had been curled and shaped, and her whole face dumped in makeup.
Cole turned to her and glared. "Why?"
"They're my friends, that's why." She answered stiffly. "You said I could invite people."
"I didn't think you'd invite them." He scowled, his voice laced with venom.
"Well I did." Charlie stated firmly. She strolled around him and linked her arm with Addison's. "If you kick them out, you're kicking me out too."
He looked back at the three of them, defeated. He cursed under his breath. "Whatever babe," He said softly. "If that's what you want."
She smiled back at them, and moved to let Cole embrace her. "You guys look great." She commented as he tried to steer her away. She shot an apologetic look at Jeremy. "I'll catch up with you soon."
He nodded and watched them head towards the backyard. Addison made a choked sound.
"I changed my mind." She answered. "I really hate him."
Liam chuckled and slung his arm over Addison's shoulder. "Let's grab something to drink."
"Liam!" Addison hissed. "You know what alcohol does to—"
"I meant from the tap. Jesus woman, calm down."
Jeremy snickered and they walked together to the kitchen. A girl in a bikini stood mixing a suspicious pink liquid. She grinned mischievously and offered them some, which they all rejected quite firmly.
Music thumped from the speakers in the ceiling, voices and laughter mingling to create a ragged soundtrack of chaos. Teenagers meandered throughout the rooms, some talking excitedly while other's seemed more content kissing each other against walls.
While Liam and Jeremy slouched against the door frame, Addison watched the crowd of kids, dancing swiftly to the latest song. She eyed them curiously.
Jeremy nudged Liam roughly and jerked his head towards her. "Go ask her to dance."
"What? No way dude," Liam answered, his gaze flickering to Addison.
"C'mon, I know you like her." He retorted.
"We're just friends Jer," He said. "Isn't it possible for a guy and a girl to just be friends?"
Jeremy ran a hand through his hair and looked back at where Charlie sat outside, her beautiful dark eyes staring back at him. He sighed.
Charlie felt almost angry being led away from her friends. How dare he? The man thought he owned her. And what was worse is she let him. She let him push her around, knock her down, make her feel unwanted.
Cole pulled her tighter against him as they walked out into the warm night. They sat on the deck facing each other. She could smell the beer on his breath.
"What's the matter Charlotte?" He asked her, raising an eyebrow.
"Don't call me Charlotte." She found herself saying. She covered her mouth like she'd sworn.
He frowned and she took a deep breath. "My name is Charlie. Charlie Hale. Not Charlotte. Not Char." She told him. "It's Charlie."
He grumbled something and reached for her hand. "Charlie? It sounds like a guy's name."
"I like it." She answered. He shrugged and turned away from her, taking another swig of his beer. She took a sip from her water.
Several of Cole's friends burst outside, yelling and laughing. One of them whispered something in his ear and he smirked. "Be right back babe. Don't go anywhere."
Her boyfriend got up immediately and joined them, running into the darkness, howling after each other like a pack of mongrels. She sighed dejectedly.
Inside she watched the crowd dance in a blur of vibrant colors. She spotted Jeremy immediately. He was sitting at the counter with Liam and Addison. They were talking. She wished she was over there now, talking with them. Laughing and smiling with them like she used to.
Liam got up from his seat and spoke quickly to Addison. His face was visibly pale. She smiled and blushed, placing her hand in his. Charlie grinned and watched them walk into the crowd of dancers together. Addison looked incredibly pretty and she didn't need to dress up to do that. She wore a simple pair of jeans and a white-eyelet shirt. Charlie looked at her own outfit and scowled. She should've taken lessons from Addles. She envied how comfortable the girl was in her own skin.
Jeremy looked up and their eyes met briefly. She raised her eyebrow and he shrugged. A giggle escaped her lips. They both turned and watched Liam and Addison dance. They were awkward, there was no denying it. But it was sweet. She stepped on his toes and he stepped on hers. They chuckled and blushed but soon slipped into their comfort zone, swaying slowly to the next song.
She looked away and watched the boys come back towards her. Cole came back running and grabbed her arm. She yelped and jumped to her feet.
"What the hell?" She yelled. "That hurt!"
Cole snickered and pulled her against him. She cringed from his breath and shivered.
"Poor baby, are you cold? Got to get you warmed up then." He slurred. Cole pulled her away from the deck towards the trees and pinned her against one, his arms trapping her. She tried to shove him away.
"Cole, stop," she said. His arms around her had been merely restricting but now a sense of shock was settling in as she felt his hands groping for bare skin.
Charlie had never been in a situation like this before. She aimed a spiked heel for his leg but he evaded her easily.
"Cole, take your hands off me!"
"C'mon Char, don't be like that. I just want to warm you up all over…"
"Please," She choked. "Let. Me. Go."
She tried to wrench herself away from him. Cole stumbled slightly and then his full weight was on her, crushing her against the tree.
She gasped and spoke desperately. "I mean it now Cole. Get off me or I will kill you."
He crushed his lips to hers, shoving his tongue into her mouth.
Charlie cried out. She felt his mouth hot against her skin, running wet kisses down her jaw, her neck and throat. He brought his hand up and slowly caressed her lips with his thumb.
A loud whistle sounded from around them followed by clapping and cheering. Charlie bit down on his thumb and tasted blood.
Cole chuckled, undeterred and pinned her with his hips. She heard fabric tear and felt his hands shift from her waist, slowly slipping under her shirt.
"Get the fuck away from her!"
Cole's weight left her and Charlie slumped to the ground, her body racking with violent sobs. She watched through teary eyes as a shadow fell upon her and a gentle arm wrapped around her shoulder.
Two figures in the distance were wrestling. Cole was on the bottom while Jeremy -Jeremy? - was on top, hammering his fists into Cole's body. Cole cursed and rolled over, scrambling up to his feet. He split blood onto the grass.
Cole then hit Jeremy squarely in the jaw and she watched in horror as her best friend fell down. Addison's arm wrapped tighter around her and Liam strolled over to stand in front of them, blocking them from the fight.
Jeremy was on the ground now and Cole was taking every advantage of being bigger. He kicked Jeremy's side and slammed his fist into his shoulder. Charlie screamed.
"Stop it!" She struggled to her feet, her eyes wet and puffy. Addison still held onto her and she was glad. She felt like she was about to faint.
"Leave him alone!" She yelled over the cheers of who she thought were her friends. Shawnee stood opposite her, her fist bumped high in the air with a wide grin across her face. She loved this.
Cole looked over to Charlie and unclenched his fists. He spat on the grass and sauntered towards his friends who clapped him on the back, screaming encouragements at him.
Liam raced towards Jeremy's crumpled form and helped him to his feet.
"Are you okay?" Charlie heard them speaking but she wasn't able to concentrate on the words. Her head was spinning, her vision become a blur.
Somebody was guiding her away from the scene. She felt numb all over. She could hear her name being called but she made no move to turn back. Her eyes became heavy and clouded
A tear trickled down her cheek as she walked straight out into the crowded street, never looking back.
A week passed and Jeremy never heard from Charlie. School flew by in a blur. He was taunted, laughed at and became one of Cole's top victims. Yet he didn't care. He was glad he'd hit Cole. He'd hurt Charlie. His Charlie.
Addison met up with him in the hall on Tuesday afternoon. She and Liam were no longer on speaking terms, both too embarrassed to be around each other. As soon as Liam spotted her approaching, he made a beeline for the parking lot, leaving Jeremy and Addison standing alone.
Jeremy faced her, his arms folded. "Any news?" He asked.
"She texted me." Addison said, her shoulders slumped. "One worded messages are never a good sign though."
Jeremy pursed his lips and slumped against the lockers. "What did she say?"
"Not too much. Just that she's sick." Addison shrugged. "It's easy to tell she's upset. That girl never misses school. In third grade she broke out of the house with measles just to get to school."
"She infected half the class." Jeremy chuckled to himself. "All four of us were stuck in a bath of oatmeal together."
Addison giggled. "Good times" A moment of silence passed before she cleared her throat. "So, uh…"
"If you're going to ask me to pass on another message to Liam, the answer is no."
She waved her hand. "I was not."
"Okay. What is it then?"
She looked around and sighed in defeat. "Dang it. Okay I was but…"
"Nope" Jeremy replied, popping the P. "Talk to him yourself." He slung his backpack over his shoulders and they walked out into the drizzly rain together.
"Your such a hypocrite Jeremy!" She muttered. "You're making me send messages to Charlie every five minutes!"
"Not it's not." Addison sighed. She turned around towards the parking lot and spotted Liam unlocking his car. She turned back to Jeremy, took a deep breath. "Fine then. Watch carefully."
He stared at her as she walked towards Liam, her strides purposeful and confident. Liam startled when he saw her, his face turning green again. Addison rolled her eyes and threw herself on him, planting a hard, passionate kiss right on his lips. Her arms locked around his neck and his hands pulled her closer.
She looked back at Jeremy and winked. "Now it's your turn." She shouted across the lot. "Grow some balls and go talk to her. She needs you Jer."
For once, Addison didn't look ashamed or embarrassed being in the public eye. The departing students shot them brief glances and continued on their way. Addison giggled and spoke to Liam. He smiled and nodded and Addison turned around, gave Jeremy thumbs up, and walked to her car.
Charlie sat in her room, hugging her stuffed bunny to her chest. Her mother had left hours ago, given up on reasoning with her, she left to find herself another husband. Charlie's father had called briefly to apologize to her but did not comment when she asked if he would come home.
She had a bruise on her shoulder from being shoved against the tree and it caused her agony to move. She felt stupid. How could she have thought he loved her? He made her dress up for his friends. Made her quit taking the classes she loved. He'd made her sign up for cheerleading, boasting about how they would be the perfect couple. She'd wanted the fairytale ending and he'd made it sound so believable.
And her friends, God, how could she be so ignorant? They didn't care about her. They just cared about her status. They wanted to be with her to be seen. And Shawnee, she'd truly thought Shawnee was there for her. All those lies she put into her head. How she'd made her starve herself…
Charlie pulled out a carton of chocolate milk and climbed onto the kitchen counter while Shawnee watched her with a displeased look. "You're going to drink all of that?"
She brought the carton away from her mouth instantly and licked her lips. "I'm so sorry." She muttered. "God, that was so rude. Did you want a glass?"
Shawnee shook her head vehemently and Charlie continued downing the entire bottle. The Blone girl cleared her throat.
"Do you know how many calories are in that?"
Charlie shrugged. "Um, no…should I?"
Shawnee giggled like she didn't believe her. "Silly, Charlotte." She tsked her. "Of course you should know. That stuff is completely fattening."
"But I like chocolate milk." Charlie protested.
"It starts like that." She mumbled. "Then you eat and drink more fatty things and soon you lose that petite little figure and become well…fat. You know Cole wouldn't like it if you did. He'd think you were disgusting."
"Cole loves me for who I am. He wouldn't care."
"Don't you remember Diana Wilkins? The fat girl in 10B? He used to date her. She used to be about as skinny as you actually. But not as pretty."
"Diana is really nice." Charlie retorted. "And she's not overweight."
Shawnee giggled. "Well okay, I suppose not then."
Charlie looked at the milk and put it down. She looked up anxiously. "He really dumped her because of that?"
"Charlotte, I want to help you. You're one of my best friends, and I care about your health." Shawnee sighed. "There is a way we can fix this you know. You can still eat all the food you like."
"Absolutely." Shawnee grinned, grabbing her arm. She dragged Charlie towards the bathroom and explained it to her.
"I can't." She whispered. "That's unsafe."
"It's really not. It's very easy to do." The blonde assured.
"I can't do it. I'm sorry."
"Well…" Shawnee sighed. "I guess that's okay then." Charlie smiled thankfully but she continued to speak. "If I were you though, I'd think about going out to get your cheerleading uniform tailored."
"It seems just a little tight on you. I don't think it's anything to worry about but just to be safe…" She let her words drift as she strolled out of the bathroom. She turned at the door and mimed with two fingers. "It's that easy."
Charlie paled as her 'friend' left her behind. She glanced at the toilet bowl and then the mirror. Her uniform wasn't tight…was it? Sure, the skirt was a little difficult to squeeze into but that's how they all were. They were all supposed to be tight. That's how they were made…right?
She fell down to her knees in front of the bowl and raised her two fingers to her mouth.
It made her sick. She was disgusted with herself. Shawnee had never cared. Shawnee only cared about herself. She was manipulating her the whole time.
Charlie shifted uneasily and walked towards her closet. She pulled out one of the chocolate bunnies she'd been given for Easter. Shawnee made a habit of helping her dispose of unhealthy food but Charlie made sure she'd never find her stash.
She bit into the chocolate, the familiar taste reviving her taste buds. A small smile broke out on her face as she devoured the treat and the blissful feelings it gave her. She sighed and leaned against her bedframe.
The rain pelted against her window and she could hear something scratching on the outside of the house. She froze and watched as a pair of hands suddenly appeared to be clutching the glass. She cried out and stumbled forwards, ripping the window open.
"Jeremy!" She exclaimed, grabbing his freezing arms and dragging him inside. "What the hell are you doing? You'll catch a cold." Jeremy stood up and shook out his hair, spraying her with water. He smirked. "Who needs doors when you've got a perfectly good window?"
"You shouldn't do that."
"You came through my window once. I'm simply returning the favor."
"No, I mean you shouldn't keep following me around." She answered stiffly. "You shouldn't be here."
Jeremy took a deep breath and rubbed the side of his head. This girl would be the death of him.
"I had to come see you…to make sure you were okay."
"Well you saw me." She replied flatly. "Now you can go." She gestured back to the window.
"You'd make me climb back out the window? That's harsh, Charlie."
Her mouth twitched. "You're soaking wet and your shoes are all muddy. There is no way you are walking through this house."
He kicked off his shoes and looked at her. "Happy?"
She shrugged and looked away. She couldn't face him. She was too embarrassed.
He was worried about her. Worried she was angry with him.
Then he heard a sob.
It was a quiet sound, one he could have easily missed had he not been focusing on her so intently. Her shoulders shook slightly.
"Cole and I broke up." She took a shuddering breath. "He came to my house on Sunday to apologize. He said he was drunk and didn't mean to hurt me. I told him…I told him I wanted to wait before we….you know…" She shook her head, her cheeks flushing red. She never could talk about things like that without getting embarrassed. "I wasn't ready and I think I hurt his pride." She had a small smile. "Then he broke up with me."
Her hands came around her arms, as though she was hugging herself. She turned around and tears were flowing down her cheeks. Instinctively, Jeremy stepped forward and wrapped his arms around her. She hesitated, starting to pull back, but stopped and let him embrace her. She buried her head in his chest.
"I knew he was bad for me…" She whispered. "He treated me like a conquest, not a girlfriend…I should have seen the signs…he didn't love me."
"Those people changed me…" She muttered. "They wanted me to be like them...but I'm not. I'm like you. I'm happy being…with you."
Jeremy cradled the back of her head, gently running his fingers through her curls. "I feel so stupid." She chuckled drily.
"You're not stupid." Jeremy told her. "He was a jerk. He wasn't worth it."
"Nobody else knows me like you do." She continued. "You know everything about me. Sometimes more then I think I know myself."
"Yeah," Jeremy agreed with a chuckle. "Like how you give ridiculous names to your teddies because you think they should all be unique?"
She laughed. "Yeah, well you sleep with nunchucks under your bed in case of a ninja attack."
"I was nine years old!" He protested. Her mouth twitched. "At least I don't sing and dance with the showerhead."
"You confiscated my goldfish because you thought I was treating him badly!" She retorted.
"You named him Wallace! He was getting picked on!"
She giggled. "You snore way too loud."
"You snort when you laugh too hard."
"You sleep talk." She answered.
"You sleepwalk." He argued.
"You can't cook anything outside a microwave."
"You draw worse than a five year old."
"You once dressed up as a woman!"
"It was a dare that you gave to me!" Jeremy clarified. He stepped closer and grabbed her wrists. "You irrational. You fear closed spaces. You hate people who dance while biting their lip. You still sleep with stuffed animals and hate sleeping alone in the dark. You blush even when you're not nervous. You hit harder than most of the boys your age. You're gullible and will believe anything anyone tells you unless they are telling you that you're beautiful which you are. You've always been beautiful. You don't need to hide behind makeup and wear silly dresses. You are real by being yourself. Who cares what other people think of you? You're imperfections and quirks are what make you real. They are what make you who you are."
She sniffled and Jeremy felt himself blush this time. "So you plan to win me over by listing my flaws?"
Jeremy looked away, embarrassed. Charlie giggled and wrapped her arms around his neck. "I love you."
He smiled down at her and captured her lips with his. Her arms tightened and her fingers entwined in his hair. He placed his hands on her hips, pulling her towards him. It wasn't like the kisses she'd shared with Cole – his had been full of urgency and need. Jeremy was different. He was kissing her because he truly loved her. All these years, she'd known she'd loved him too. She'd just never realized it.
Jeremy pulled her close and brushed his lips against her ear.
"I love you too."
Yeah i know. Super Cliche and very predictable. Still I don't haaate it so maybe it was okay. Hopefully it was a nice read? Anyways, if it was, feel free to let me know by Reviewing or PMing me. I'm thinking of doing like a few of these, all connected and Blah. So uh, yeah. REVIEW hehe