Bass Monroe is tired. He's tired of Willoughby. He's tired of bartending in this shit hole. He's tired of the idiot local fucks that spill beer on the counter and piss on the floor. He's tired of Miles acting like Bass doesn't exist even when they pass each other on the street. He's tired of missing Miles's friendship. He's tired of missing Charlie.
Charlie. Even the thought of her stings. It's almost closing time and the place is empty. He grabs a glass and pours himself a drink. The glass is almost to his lips when the door opens. The little bell rings, and she's here. Charlie.
"Supposed to be doing that while you're working?"
He shrugs, determined to appear unfazed by her arrival, "To what do I owe this honor Charlotte?"
She bites her lower lip and slides onto a barstool. "Wanted a drink, that's all."
"Where have you been drinking for the last six months? They closed tonight or something?" he can't hide the bitterness in his voice and doesn't bother trying.
"I'm…sorry." She says, taking a sip of the drink he's offered. She doesn't meet his eyes. She doesn't clarify what exactly she's sorry for.
"Well, you being sorry makes everything better." He says before turning to walk to the opposite side of the bar.
"Don't be a dick." Charlie frowns into her drink. She isn't sure he's even heard her until he stomps back to where she sits. He's standing just behind her and she turns slowly. His eyes are blazing.
"A dick? Really? You walk in after six months of radio silence and I'm the dick?" His voice is low and tense.
Charlie inhales sharply at his sudden closeness. "Dick." She says again, but it sounds more like a request and less like an insult.
He leans in closer, his eyes hot. "Why are you here, Charlie?"
"I wanted to see you…wanted to clear the air…before…." She tries to keep her voice steady, but she's suddenly breathing heavily.
"Fuck!" he yells, throwing his glass against the wall where it shatters.
"I'm sorry." She repeats, standing. Charlie turns to leave and wipes at the tears that fall unbidden. She's got a hand on the door knob when he stops her.
He's in her space again – so close she can feel his breath on her ear. "Sorry for what?" he asks hoarsely. "Sorry for how things ended between us or sorry anything happened at all?"
"That's not fair." Charlie's voice is barely a whisper.
"Bullshit." He reaches around her, flipping the open sign to the closed side and clicking the lock shut all in one fluid motion. His hands rest against the door behind her, and he leans in until their bodies are flush. "What's not fair is that when Miles found us, you let him make me out to be the bad guy. You let my best friend think I took advantage of you. You left me without even looking back. You fucked me and then you fucked me over, Charlie. That's what is not fair."
"None of that was supposed to happen. I thought it would blow over. I never thought Miles would take it so far…" She chokes on the words, seeing the rage on Bass's face. "I really am sorry."
He pushes away from her then, and walks behind the bar where he blows out the two lanterns still lit. Then he walks to the door behind the bar and opens it. Bass glances at her then, "Close the door behind you when you leave, Charlie."
Bass sits down on the edge of the bed in the apartment off the bar where he's been living. He puts his head in his hands, trying to get a handle on his emotions.
He feels her presence before she speaks. He knew she would follow him…knew it from the moment she entered his bar tonight. "I'm sorry." She says again.
"For?" he asks once more, not bothering to look up.
"All of it."
When he finally does look up, it is to see Charlie unbuttoning her shirt slowly, watching him with sad eyes. Bass's breath hitches as their gaze locks. The pain and the loss of months spent apart burns between them like a flame. He stands and moves to her. Roughly, he pulls her into his embrace, pressing his mouth to hers. Charlie moans against his lips. Bass slides his tongue into her mouth, tasting and exploring the depths he'd once known so well. She matches his movements, the kiss becoming more heated. Charlie's hands dig into his curls, while his fingers yank at the shirt she'd started to remove.
The kiss is rough and hot. It is filled with the raw need that they've both been trying to forget. It is a bittersweet reunion to be sure, but they'll both take what they can get. Bass breaks the connection only long enough to finish undressing. Charlie pulls off her own clothes too. Now they are standing face to face, naked and breathing heavily.
"I hate you Charlotte." He growls as their bodies meet again.
"Not as much as I hate myself." She says, grasping his ass and pulling him tight to her. She can feel his thick cock, rigid and pulsing against her belly. She'd missed it. Missed this. Missed him. Bass picks her up and carries her to his bed, laying her in its middle and covering her smoothly with his body. His mouth trails down her chin before sucking at the flesh on her throat as his fingers move to the apex of her thighs. He groans when he finds how drenched her sex is…how wet she is for him. He continues kissing down to a breast and suckles her nipple, licking and nipping at the pebbled flesh as he begins to pump two fingers in and out of her folds, while his thumb circles her clit. Charlie quakes and moans, arching against his touch, coming undone around his fingers. He barely waits for her orgasm to fade before pressing his knees between her thighs. She opens wide for him, eager to have his cock buried inside her once again. Charlie reaches for his engorged penis, stroking it slowly, watching his reaction with hooded eyes.
"Now." Bass demands between clenched teeth. He has missed her… the way she sounds, the way she smells, the way only she can sheathe him, the way she completes him. He needs to sink into her silky tightness, and he can't wait any longer. Charlie stops stroking, lining the velvety tip of his cock up to her opening. When he feels her pussy – wet and inviting – he doesn't hesitate, plunging into her tight heat with a loud grunt. Bass loves the way her body stretches for him. Charlie wraps her legs around his waist and he begins to fuck her with fierce thrusts. He's kissing her again, biting her lower lip as he pounds her hard and fast.
When this had been a daily thing for them, her body had grown accustomed to his size, to the way he filled her until she thought she'd explode. After all these months apart, she is relearning him. Welcoming him inside as if it's the first time, except that their first time had been gentle and exploratory. This. This is different. Rage and anger and loss fuel their passion today. It is brutal and harsh and yet…exactly what they both wanted and needed. He continues to pound into her, loving the way their bodies fit together…the way the sounds fill the small space.
Reaching between their bodies, he pinches her clit and she comes with a strangled cry. Bass knows he's close as well, and pumps into her even harder. He knows he's probably bruising her thighs…knows she won't be able to take a step tomorrow without remembering this brutal joining.
Charlie digs her fingers into his ass, "Come for me Bass. Please." She begs, her body already aching from the way he is hammering into her. His cock is so thick and so long and she moans when he pulls one of her legs higher, allowing him to move even deeper. He slams into her again and again, staring into her eyes as he comes, pumping his seed into her core.
He collapses, spent, onto her before pulling out slickly and rolling to lie at her side.
"I don't really hate you." He says in a whisper.
"I know." She replies, snuggling into his side.
"You're going through with it?"
"Don't know what else to do." She says, her voice pained.
"Don't go through with it."
"Everyone wants me to."
"I don't." he is unable to disguise the pain in his voice. "I don't want you to marry him Charlie. Not tomorrow. Not ever."
"He's a nice guy Bass."
"Do you love him?"
"Do you love me?"
"You know the answer to that."
"Not anymore." He runs his fingers through her hair and kisses her brow. She doesn't answer so he presses on. "If you don't love him, why…"
"Why did I agree?"
"I think I thought if I tried to move on, I could forget you."
"Did it work?"
"Does it look like it worked?" she frowns at him.
"Well, not from HERE." He chuckles, but she can hear the hurt in his voice.
"There is one other reason." She says quietly.
He pulls away far enough to look her in the eye, "What is it?"
"My Mom… she said something after Miles lost it when he found us together."
"What did she say?"
"She said Miles would probably forgive you, or at least find a way to invite you back into his life…if…"
"If one of us was married."
"Just not to each other…"
"Well, obviously yeah…" she smirks, "As if that was ever even an option."
Bass sits up, turning his back to her. "Just cause we never talked about it doesn't mean it wasn't an option."
"Yeah, right…I'm sure you'd just love to get married to me." Charlie gets up on her knees, moving in behind Bass's back, pressing her body to his. She feels him tense. "Wait, what are you saying?"
"Charlie, it was you who wanted to hide our relationship, not me. Remember?"
She nods, "Yeah. I didn't want Miles to be mad at you…didn't want my Mom to…"
Bass stands abruptly, distancing himself from her. "Charlie, I miss being friends with Miles… I really do, but I don't give a fuck about him anymore. If he couldn't forgive me in six months, he's never going to. You were all that mattered. You ARE all that matters. I need you."
"Bass…" she feels tears burning her eyes.
"Don't marry him." Bass begs, his eyes wet. "Please."
"What other choice do I have?"
"Choose me, damn it. Choose me."
Miles feels anxious. He isn't sure why exactly. Maybe it's the suit Rachel has dressed him in. He looks like an idiot. Maybe it's Rachel herself. She's almost manic with the planning and the bossing everyone around. His head spins just watching her. Maybe it's how he can't shake the feeling that something awful is going to happen.
Maybe it's Charlie. Someone on the verge of getting married should be happy. She puts on a decent show, but he can tell that's all it is. Her heart isn't in it. He knows that's partially – hell maybe way more than partially – his fault.
Rachel finds him in the same little room where she'd stowed him earlier. "Are you ready?" she asks with a big smile.
"Not really." He shrugs. "She ready?"
"Should be. I left her about an hour ago. She looks amazing."
"Why is she doing this? She doesn't love this guy."
Rachel purses her lips, "Well, she knows that she needs to make the smart decision here. Think with her head, not her heart. Once she and Bob settle down and start having babies, all that other stuff will fade away."
Miles cocks an eyebrow, "And by 'other stuff' you mean Bass? I'm not thinking it works that way."
"Oh?" she asks cooly. "And why is that?"
"Because you are asking her to do what you did when you married Ben. Did that make what we had fade away?"
Rachel looks like she's been slapped. Flustered, she shakes her head, "It's not the same."
"It is the same. Damnit, what the hell were we thinking? So she loves Bass? Who cares? We should want her to be happy."
"Bass was never going to make her happy." Rachel growls.
"And you think this tool – this Bob - will make her happy? He's not right for Charlie. Charlie could chew him up and spit him out."
"Is it so wrong that I want her to be the strong one?"
"No Rachel, what's wrong is that you want her to be you." Miles looks at Rachel without speaking for a long time. "I'm going to talk to Charlie. I'm going to tell her she needs to call this off."
"No." Rachel shakes her head. "You can't."
"I get that you think you are the strong one in our relationship, and maybe you are. I get that you want Charlie to be like you, but I want her to be happy and you know what…nobody is less happy than you are." He pauses, "Maybe me…"
Just then there is a knock on the door. Aaron Pittman pokes his head inside, "Uh guys, we might have a problem…"
"Oh, what's that?" Rachel asks stiffly.
"Well first of all, remember that old saying 'don't shoot the messenger'?"
"Yeah?" Miles asks.
"Well, you know, DON'T shoot the messenger." Aaron points to himself. He looks nervous.
"What's the message Aaron? I'll decide if I shoot you or not after I hear it."
Aaron nods nervously and hands Miles a folded piece of paper. "She's gone. She left this at my house before she left."
"Who's gone?" Miles asks, but he knows even before Aaron answers.
"Charlie. She left. She's not coming back."
Rachel's face is pale with shock, "She can't do that. She's getting married today."
Miles skims over the letter and a smile slowly spreads across his face. "No Rachel. She's not. She left town and she asked that we not try to follow. She says here that Bob will be fine. They only ever agreed to get married to make us and Bob's parents happy."
"I don't understand." Rachel says.
"According to this, Bob knew Charlie loved someone else. He didn't care because he loves someone else too. They were only going through with any of this to calm down their idiot families."
"Who does Bob love?" Rachel asks, dazed.
"Someone named Kevin." Miles smirks. "So much for your match making Rachel. You set Charlie up with a gay guy and didn't even realize your mistake because you were so obsessed with her not ending up with Bass."
Aaron clears his throat, "That's the other part of the message…"
"She left with Monroe. He had a note for you as well." Aaron hands Miles a few pieces of paper this time. The top one is a short note from Bass. He's sorry that Miles couldn't forgive him, but he and Charlie are leaving. He says Miles shouldn't follow. Underneath the short note is the deed to Bass's bar. He's giving it to Miles free and clear.
Miles reads the note twice more before looking up. Rachel appears equally irate and confused. "Well, I'm done, Rachel. The first thing I'm going to do is get this stupid suit off. Then I'm moving out."
"What?" Rachel and Aaron ask in unison.
"I was an awful friend to Bass. I abandoned him when he needed me…again. I did that for you. I'm always doing stupid things for you. I shut Charlie out when she needed me. For you. I hurt the two most important people in my life for YOU. I am done. In spite of my being a horrible friend to him, Bass knew I might need a place. His bar has an apartment or something, doesn't it?"
"Then that's where I'll be."
"Miles, you can't leave me." Rachel sounds desperate.
"Looks like I can, actually." He says without turning back.
Charlie and Bass drive in silence most of the day. They are each lost in their own thoughts, but they sit close with his arm loosely wrapped around her shoulder.
They stop in a small town and find a room for the night. The room includes an old tub full of warm water and they take turns washing off the dirt and grime from their journey. Then they fall into bed to leisurely enjoy their reunion. Whereas their last time together had been rough and hard, this time was gentle and tender.
Charlie is on top, riding him slowly. Bass's hands cup and squeeze her breasts as she slides up and down his thick cock.
"My pussy is so sore from last night." She moans, although it doesn't make her want to stop.
He pulls her chest down to his, kissing her softly, "I'm sorry I was so rough."
"Don't be sorry. I'm sore. I didn't say I regret it. I'm not unhappy." She smiles against his lips, still moving up and down his dick leisurely.
Bass smiles back, kissing her again. He reaches a hand down to cup her ass, sliding a finger between her cheeks, stroking her puckered flesh teasingly. "If your pussy is too sore, I know something else we could try."
Charlie laughs, "I'd like to be able to walk tomorrow, but maybe another time…" she begins to speed up, feeling the orgasm finally building within. Bass slides his fingers to her front, flicking her clit until she shatters around him, soaking his dick with her juices.
He sighs against her, happily. "Not tonight, but sometime. No hurry. We have our whole lives to do anything we want to do…." His voice holds a promise as he follows her over the edge.
The next morning they get back on the road. "Where are we headed, exactly?" Charlie asks.
"Miller's Point, Kentucky." Bass says with a little smile. "My Grandpa had a little farm there before the blackout. I inherited it when he died, but I was on a tour in Iraq and never had a chance to finalize any of the details before the lights went out. I'm thinking it's time to stake my claim."
Charlie smiles, "So Kentucky…." She thinks about that for a moment. "It sounds really nice, Bass."
Three years have passed, and Miles is surviving. He runs the bar that Bass had left him, and mostly keeps to himself. At first Miles had no intention of seeking them out. He figured his penance for separating Charlie and Bass in the first place was that he'd never see them again. He probably never would have changed his mind if he hadn't talked to old Abe Cantrel, who said he'd seen Bass in Kentucky. Abe was a regular in the bar and Miles was glad to see he'd returned safely after an extended trip to visit family.
"What'd you say Abe? You saw Bass?"
"Yup. Sure did. Talked to him for a little bit. Looks like he's doin good."
"Was Charlie with him?" Miles feels a sudden panic. What if something had happened to her after they'd left?
Abe shrugged. "She looked good to me. Seemed pretty excited about being a mama and wife…she goes by Monroe now, ya know."
"They have a kid?" Miles asks, leaning against the bar heavily as this news sinks in.
"Yup. Sweet little thing."
So now Miles is here in a little country town called Miller's Point. He's nursing a whiskey in the tavern which also serves as the town diner. When he'd spotted it, he thought maybe Bass would be working there, but when he got inside neither he nor Charlie were anywhere to be seen.
He'll ask around as soon as he's finished this drink. The main street has a few stores, a hotel and an office shared by the local doctor and the sheriff. In a small town like this, someone is going to know Bass and Charlie.
He's lost in thought when he hears a soft woman's voice somewhere behind him, "Oh Miles, aren't you the most handsome fella I ever did meet?"
Miles cocks an eyebrow curiously and turns to see a beautiful brunette talking to a toddler with a head full of soft blond curls. The woman is sitting across the table from the little kid, and they are eating toast and eggs. The woman reminds him of Nora. Her skin is like warm caramel and her hair is thick and black. She's smiling at the little boy and her big brown eyes dance happily at something the little one has said. He lets his gaze wander down and admires her curves. She's stacked. "Damn, I love Kentucky." He mutters.
The beautiful woman glances up and smiles, "Hi." She says simply. "Visiting?"
"Looking for some friends. Bass and Charlie Monroe."
The little kid turns then, sitting on his knees to look at Miles over the back of the chair. He smiles a toothy little grin, "I'm Miles. I'm this many." The little boy says, carefully holding up two chubby fingers.
The older Miles feels a lurch as he looks into the big blue eyes. The tyke's hair is curly and blond and freckles are sprinkled across his tiny nose. "Are you really? Well, guess what?"
"What?" the tiny boy asks with a grin.
"My name is Miles too, but I'm..uh..a lot more than that many." He grins at the little boy, "I guess I'm Big Miles and you are Little Miles." The little boy likes this and giggles, nodding in approval.
"Oh, well that explains a lot." The woman says with a sly smile. "They talk about you sometimes."
"You know them?"
"Sure. We're friends and neighbors. They're always pretty busy with the farm. I live next door and take Miles out with me a few times a week to give them a break."
"And you are?"
Miles is lost in Stella's eyes when he feels something tugging at his finger. He looks down to see that Little Miles has left his chair and now stands before him, pulling on his hand. "Big Miles," the little one says, "Come home with us. Say hello to my Mommy." He smiles then, and the smile reminds Miles so much of Bass as a child that his heart lurches again. He's missed both Charlie and Bass so much.
"Well, all right. I think I will." Miles pays for their lunch and they leave. Little Miles grips Big Miles's hands tightly, leading him all the way to his house.
Charlie is pulling a loaf of bread out of the oven when Bass comes in. He's been in the field and he looks tired, but grins as he pulls his wife into an embrace. "Hello."
"Hello yourself," she says before kissing him. The baby squeals then and they pull away from one another, both walking to the cradle which lies along one side of the kitchen. Inside the cradle lies their tiny squirming daughter. She's just barely three months old but already she has her family wrapped around her little finger.
"Shhh Bella." Charlie sooths.
Bass just smiles at them both. "Where's Miles?" he asks absently.
Before Charlie can reply, they hear a familiar voice in the door. "Well, I'm right here." Miles Matheson says, with a giddy Miles Monroe tucked into his arm.
"Miles!" Charlie cries out before running over and hugging both of them tight.
"He's Big Miles. I'm Little Miles." The small one says with a wide grin.
Miles looks at Bass, his expression begging forgiveness. "Hey Brother."
Bass relaxes and nods, "Good to see you. You came here…alone?"
"Yeah, Rachel and I aren't together anymore. I've been running your bar. A guy came in last week…said he'd seen you guys out this way a few months back. I decided it was time."
"Abe." Bass says with a small smile.
"Yeah. Hope you don't mind."
"We don't mind." Charlie and Bass both say at the same time.
"You've met Miles. This is Bella." Bass says, moving aside so that Miles can see the cradle, and Bass can show off his daughter.
"She's beautiful." Miles says with a smile. "Bella? What kind of name is that?"
Bass rolls his eyes, "Charlie reads a lot. We have a decent library here in Miller's Point. She found the Twilight series while she was pregnant…."
Miles laughs, "Well, it's a pretty name even if your reasons for choosing it are iffy."
"How long will you be staying?" Bass asks, hoping his question doesn't sound pathetic.
"I guess I was thinking forever?" Miles smirks. "I gave the bar to Aaron. He needed a hobby…was already talking about trying his hand at brewing himself when I left."
Charlie starts crying and Miles is distressed, "I'm sorry. I don't have to stay."
Bass goes to Charlie and wraps his arms around her shoulders, kissing her brow. "Don't worry. Charlie is still a little emotional with the new baby hormones. She's happy to have you. We both are."
"What about my… What about Rachel?" Charlie asks.
"She and I don't talk, but I think she's okay. Married a local guy last year. They seem like they get along. I told her I knew you were okay."
"Did you tell her where we are?" Charlie feels worry creeping into her heart.
Miles shakes his head. "I never told her. Once she knew you two were still together, she didn't want to know anymore. She's a stubborn woman and someday she's going to regret throwing her relationship with you away."
Bass pulls his wife close, "She's not worth thinking about. It's her loss."
"Yeah, it is." Charlie says, eyeing her beautiful children.
Stella appears in the doorway, "I'm heading home guys." She looks at Miles, flashing him a very friendly smile, "It was nice to meet you Big Miles. Maybe I can show you around some time?"
"I'd love that." Miles smiles back. "That is, if your husband doesn't mind..."
Bass rolls his eyes.
Stella just shakes her head as she lets her eyes roam up and down Miles's frame, "No husband… not yet." She winks before leaving.
Charlie and Bass are both smirking at Miles. He just shrugs. "I can't help it. Hard to keep this kind of sex appeal in check."
That night after the kids are asleep, Miles settles in on the old sofa with a book and Charlie and Bass go to bed. They lie facing each other. Both are tired after a long day, but very happy.
"We might have to call Miles something else now. This Big and Little bullshit is going to get old." Bass says with a quiet laugh.
"We can call him Uncle Miles, maybe?" She doesn't actually care. Charlie finally has everything she wants…the love of her life, their amazing children, and Miles close by.
They lie quietly for a long time before Bass leans close, softly kissing Charlie's lips. "Are you tired?"
"Yeah," she sighs, "but not THAT tired."
"Good answer." He grins.
A/N Thanks for reading. Comment if you have a moment.