“The Trouble with Charlie” by Author Catherine Bennett

“No, Amanda. There’s nothing between Charlie and me.”

Before Charlie could move, think, or even breath, Evan caught Amanda up in his arms. She heard Amanda’s gasp of pleasure – or pain – a second before his mouth crushed hers. Charlie loosened her grip on the tree. The scene in front of her seemed to slow to a crawl. She staggered back a step.

Someone bumped into her from behind, causing her to let out an unladylike “ugh.” Evan let go of Amanda so quickly that she fell to the pavement.

“Charlie?” His voice penetrated the fog in her brain. She spun around and ran, willing her feet to go faster than the strappy sandals would allow. She exploded out of the grove of trees, pushed her way through the crowd, and headed toward the parking lot. Her spiked heels dug into the soft turf. Swearing soundly, she bent down and yanked the shoes off, breaking the straps in the process.

 Without them she could fly. She rounded the side of the building, dodging potted plants and party guests. She scanned the long line of cars through a blur of tears. They all looked the same. She continued down the drive to the street, juggling her purse, shoes and the car remote.

“Charlie!”

Her pace quickened. How many black SUV’s can there be? Little stones dug into the bottoms of her bare feet, but she barely felt them. Holding the remote in front of her, she clicked it several times, hoping to see a set of headlights switch on in the dark.

A hand grabbed her from behind and spun her around. Charlie’s free arm swung out quicker than the scream that followed it. The heel of her sandal barely missed the side of Evan’s head.

“Get away from me, Evan! Just get away!” Charlie brought her knee up, but he sidestepped.

“Woman. Would you stop trying to maim me?”

“I’m leaving. Now!”

“Would you calm down and come over here?” he demanded. She resisted, but he kept a firm grip on her arm and wrestled the remote out of her clenched fist. After dodging her flailing purse, he clicked the passenger door open and nudged her in. He ran around the front of the vehicle before she could escape, swung the door open, and slid in next to her.

Charlie didn’t look at him. She simply folded her arms and stared straight ahead. They sat in angry silence for a few minutes. She wiped the back of her hand under her runny nose. He snapped open the glove box, handed her a tissue, and leaned back in the seat.

“What did you hear back there?” he asked finally.

“Everything.”

Evan ran his hand through his hair. “Did Amanda know you were spying?”

“Even if she did, you’ve got control over what you say. Over what you do.”

“I know. I know. I was angry. She was pushing me.”

“Angry? So that’s your excuse? That’s why you kissed her?” She balled her fist up and he flinched. Good. Let him be afraid. Let him be very afraid.

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