Actions

Work Header

Yearning to Love

Work Text:

Nothing beats a Texas sunset, whisper thin clouds that blur the reds and oranges of the sky as it continues past an endless horizon. Far away from here, away from the dry summer breeze that kicks up dust so that it sticks to your skin. It’s like Texas’ own little way of marking you, grounding you, keeping you there.

The sun begins to make its final descent below the horizon, it’s heat making the tears Cassie’s cried sticky on her face. God, I must look like a mess, she thinks when she pulls her hand away from her face and it’s patterned with flakes of half-off eyeliner she got at an end of season sale and mascara that’s supposed to be waterproof. However it is she must look bothers her so much less than this ache in her chest. 

It’s not even like they had been dating long but, three weeks, five dates, and blowjob that was returned with a largely disappointing finger blast in the backseat of a Dodge Ram... was she stupid for wanting, hoping, begging, for that to turn into her great romance? Finally .

Maybe she’s just stupid in general for even trying. It must be a curse or maybe cosmic retribution for some wrong she did. It’s not like she’s a mean person, or gross looking, or boring, or unintelligent so why? Why is it that the one thing she craves always feels so far out of reach? A little romance with a good man who sweeps her off her feet and at the end they ride off into the same Texas’ sunset, across that same endless horizon where the loneliness falls away and the dust that keeps her there doesn’t seem so bad because at least they’d be together. 

It’s that thought that sends her into round two of her self-pitying cry. She sinks further into her knees and lets her chest heave with the loss of a love that never was. The sounds of her own hiccups fill her ears until there’s the unmistakable cold of a water bottle fresh from the fridge being pressed into her shoulder. 

Her face snaps up and she meets Charlie’s gaze. He glances away for a moment, then looks back with a soft smile that says I won’t say anything. She takes the water bottle a little dumbly, like she’s not quite sure if she should say anything.

Thankfully, she doesn’t have to. “I saw you walk behind the barn from the porch. You looked upset but I didn’t think I’d find you in such a, uh, private moment.” He finishes with a hand on the back of his neck and his eyes downcast to the dirt.

“No, uh,” Cassie sniffs, her knees drop so she’s sitting with her legs crossed instead of pulled up to her chest. Using the heel of her hand to wipe at her eyes, “Oh geez, my makeup. I’m sorry, I know I look terrible right now.”

Charlie takes her change in body language as an invitation to sit. “No, no. You look fine.”

This makes her smile, if only because she knows he’s lying for her benefit. “I know that’s not true but thanks for saying it anyway.”

“I’m not just saying it but, well, there is one thing.” Charlie turns to her and taps his cheekbone. 

Her hand follows his motion to her own cheek and when she pulls it away there’s one of her fake eyelashes stuck to her finger. It’s strange how after being caught sobbing by a man she knows mostly by name that the thought of him seeing this eyelash is more mortifying than the crying thing. The thought must play on her face because Charlie chimes in. 

“You can’t even tell it fell off.”

“Of course you can,” she sniffs then reaches for the other lash, not like there’s a reason for them to stay on now that her date fell through. Being reminded of the humiliation she feels causes her to revert to having her knees pulled up to her chest before taking a shaky breath. If Charlie hears, he preserves the little dignity she has left by not commenting on it. 

“Did you want to talk about it?”

“No,” her voice is petulant.

Next to her Charlie shifts with uncertainty, “I should go. I thought I could help but -” he makes to stand but Cassie reaches out and grabs the cuff of his sleeve. She can’t bring herself to look at him. Despite the fact that she hardly knows Charlie in any meaningful way, his presence is soothing and is keeping her from falling further apart, if only because she won’t allow herself to be vulnerable enough to cry in front of him - and god does she want to stop crying.

Charlie sits back down, one leg extended in front of him, the other bent at the knee so he can rest his arm over it. “Should I tell you about my day?”

She nods and he starts in on some PNL reports that were the unfortunate victims of a certain employee spilling nail polish and trying to cover it up. Gossip, she wouldn’t have taken him for somebody that would partake in such a thing. 

Cassie turns her head and rests her cheek on her knees so she can see Charlie as he talks. He looks out over the horizon, seeming to absently enjoy the sunset as he continues on about how he thinks James is dating somebody, evidence being he seems less high strung lately. She makes a small huff at that, well, there so my chances there, she thinks.

He talks about a lot of nothing but she doesn’t mind, the easy going timber of his voice makes listening to him effortless. When evening finally turns to night he points to the sky, “That’s Vega, part of the Lyra constellation,” he says, turning to her expectantly.

“Which one?”

“Eh, I guess it is kind of hard to just point at it. I have a telescope at home but, uh, Vega is the really bright one.”

She looks back to the sky, she has no idea which one he’s pointing to. Regardless, he lifts her arms and points in the the general direction he does. “That one?”

“Yeah, I think you got it.” A soft smile comes over his face. “Vega is twenty-six light years away from us and nearly twice as large as the sun.”

“How far is that?”

“Oh, God. About,” he pauses, turns his head up as he does the math. “One hundred sixty trillion miles.”

She tilts her head trying to conceptualize how far that actually is. “It’s hard to even imagine how far that is.” There’s a pause. “So you like-” her brain fails to supply the right word which she would swear is on the tip of her tongue.

“Astronomy?” 

“Yeah.”

“Yeah, you could probably call it a hobby of mine.”

“What do you like about it?”

Charlie shrugs, “The stories? Well, that’s how it was at first. Then I started learning about the universe in general and I guess I never lost interest.”

“The universe kind of scares me. It’s never ending, right?”

“Theoretically.”

“It just makes me think of how alone we are. Even if there is intelligent life on other planets, they’re so far away. So, we really are just so alone.”

Charlie takes a moment, “I think that’s part of what makes it fascinating. Even if we are alone, we have each other, and we get to sit here and think about things like this.” He rubs the back of his neck. “I don’t think I’m explaining myself well.”

“You’re doing fine.” 

“It’s getting late,” he finally says when the cicadas start up in earnest. Standing, he turns to her and offers a hand to pull her up. “Let me walk you to your truck.”

They take off to where she left her bag at the front of the barn, the door of which is wide open, casting a light out into the darkness. “It’s okay, I’m just at the end of the lane way.”

Charlie nods and leans against the doorway, hands in his pockets, glasses a little crooked on his face, “Of course. Get home safe Cassie. Watch out for stray cattle. Ranch down the road has a broken fence.”

She smiles at him, her heartbreak eased by the presence of a new friend. “Yeah, I will be. Goodnight, Charlie.”

He raises his hand in response and she turns to leave. It’s once she’s seated in her front seat, buckled in, that she does a compulsory check of her rearview mirror. He’s still standing at the barn door, waiting for her to drive off. She starts her engine and begins to pull away, it’s only then that she glances back to the mirror again. Just in time to see him turn into the barn and the lights flicker off. 

 


 

It’s a late night in the office when he gets a little pop up alert on his computer monitor that he has a new friend request. Now, Charlie is a good employee but even he gets curious mid-day and will do a cursory scroll through his feed. There’s never anything good there but it is something that helps make his eyes stop going cross when he’s been looking at spreadsheets too long.

Clicking over to the Facebook tab he checks the alert and, oh, it’s Cassie. Interest piqued, he leans in over his keyboard. Her profile picture is a closely framed selfie with her smiling so wide it makes her eyes crinkle. It dawns on him that the photo is kind of dated, her hair is blonde from the roots down whereas now she’s chopped it to her shoulders and it’s a chocolate brown. Seeing no reason not to, he accepts the request and leans back in his chair, palms on his thighs. 

If anything, he’s confused. Social media isn’t particularly important to him. His presence is so small that his last post was nearly a year ago and it was to tell his grandma happy birthday. Point being, he doesn’t receive a lot of friend requests because everyone he follows is more out of obligation than anything else.

There’s a sudden ping and a chat appears in the corner of his screen. 

 

hey

 

There are dots saying Cassie is still typing.

 

 

i tried to find you on IG. you’re a bit of a ghost

 

Leaning in again -

 

I don’t use social media very much.

 

i can tell lol

um, i just wanted to say thank you for the other day

i wanted to say something in person but i didn’t make it back out to the ranch

before going back to school

 

Oh, he hadn’t thought they would bring that up again. He pauses a moment before responding.

 

Yeah, I was happy I could hell.

 

That’s not what he meant to type

 

*help

Sorry.

 

it’s fine. i know what you meant :)

anyway it was just some boy trouble

stupid really

i didn’t want you to worry

 

I don’t think that’s stupid.

 

He pauses again, it kind of seems like she wants to talk about it, right?

 

Are you feeling better now?

 

mostly 

i’m not good with heartbreak

or boys apparently lol

 

I’m sure that’s not true.

 

He can’t imagine Cassie having trouble dating, she’s so nice. At least in his experience she is. Not that they’ve spent a lot of time together. In fact, he knows very little about Cassie except that she’s nice and in school for nursing. Now, he knows she has boy trouble too, but that doesn’t exactly help him understand her.

 

Can I ask what happened?

 

i went on a few dates with this guy

i thought it was going well

but i guess he was seeing other girls

it’s not like we had labeled our relationship so....

 

Why would she cut herself off mid sentence?

 

So?

 

it’s my fault i feel like this i guess

 

That’s not right. Did he tell you upfront he was seeing other girls?

 

well no 

but i probably shouldn’t have assumed he wasn’t

 

To be truthful, it sounds like he mislead you.

That’s not your fault. He sounds like a bad guy.

 

This time she doesn’t respond as quickly as she has been and he starts to worry that he may have offended her.

 

i never thought about it that way

i think you’re right

he was a bad guy

thank you

i feel a little better

 

You don’t have to thank me. I’m happy to listen.

 

There’s another lapse on her end.

 

did you want to see a meme about country girls?

 

Charlie smirks.

 

Sure thing.

 


 

And that’s how their friendship starts. With late night Facebook conversations that start as an exchange of memes and then turn in to Cassie talking about her studies and her friends at university. Charlie isn’t so great at talking back at first but he can usually be goaded into talking about himself after a couple of questions.

She even manages to convince him to get an Instagram, if only so he can follow his favorite bull riders and get updates on PBR events. A few people on the ranch add him, even though his only picture is actually his profile picture as well. It got fourteen likes which feels strangely inadequate to the three-to-five hundred Cassie usually gets. At one point he tells her she has a lot of friends but she lets him know that most of her followers are actually random people.

Sometimes they talk about nothing.

 

no way, if you could eat the sun it would taste like summer

 

It would taste the way a rotten egg smells, due to the sulfur.

 

c’mon

have a little imagination

 

The whole question is unreasonable.

I’m already putting aside the fact you can’t eat the sun .

What more can I do?

 

:<

 

What exactly does summer taste like?

 

idk 

lemonade?

cotton candy?

peaches?

 

This is starting to sound a little too abstract for me.

 

maybe you’re just too grounded in reality

 

Probably good for one of us to be if you keep asking questions like this.

 

are you making fun of me?

 

I would never.

 

you totally are!

 

Maybe just a little.

 

fine then

what do you think is a good question then?

 

Easy. What kind of superpower would you want to have?

 

how is that not unreasonable?

 

Well, superheroes are inherently fictional. 

Whereas the sun is very real and very inedible.

 

you’re a buzz kill

 

Well then you’re three shots and a cosmo.

 

how dare you!

i’d never drink a cosmo

it’s all about the long island

if i’m going to be tricked into drinking paying bar prices

i want to get straight to the point

 

Oh no, are you a “woo girl?”

 

no! 

well.... maybe sometimes

how do you know what a woo girl is but had never heard of harambe???

 

Again, I don’t see how “dicks out for Harambe” is an international joke.

Harambe was murdered.

 

yes and now that you’ve made me think about the ethical issues...

i’ll never laugh at that meme again

 

Welcome to the side of justice.

Maybe the meme should be “Justice for Harambe”

 

i don’t know that you really understand what a meme is

 

Maybe I do and I just like making you spiral.

 

evil 

 

Haha!

You never answered by question.

What superpower would you want?

 

the power to eat the sun :p

 


 

Sometimes they talk about things that they couldn’t tell anyone else.

 

The worst one?

 

yeah, your worst memory

 

Oh, geez.

 

you don’t have to answer

sorry 

 

No, it’s fine.

I just don’t know if I’ve ever thought about it. 

Let alone told anyone about it.

Okay, when I was younger, maybe eight, we had a cat named Patches.

Not a barn cat but one we got as an actual pet.

My parents had gotten her for me as a birthday present when I was six.

I was alone in the house, I think my dad was at work and mom was helping deliver a calf up the road and took the younger ones with her.

Mom left me a list of things to do, one of which was taking the trash out.

The door must not have closed all the way when I came back inside because Patches got out, I just didn't know it at the time.

Anyway, I eventually heard this scream. It was a cat, you know they just sound different from other animals.

I got up to look for her figuring she was still inside and saw I’d left the door open.

She got caught by a hawk. She was always small so I guess she was easy  prey.

I ran out of the house and the hawk flew away just leaving her there.

She wasn’t dead. The scene was... bad in every way.

 

oh, Charlie. no 

 

I grew up on a farm so I know about the cycle of life so you learn to keep a distance when it comes to the death of an animal but, Patches hadn’t been an animal, she’d been my friend.

In that same vein, I knew what I was supposed to do but I couldn’t do  anything. All the guns were locked up and even if they hadn’t been I don’t know that I would have been able to do it.

So I just fell to my knees and tried my best to comfort her until she  eventually passed.

My mom found me, I don’t remember what really happened after that. 

I guess I do remember showering because I remember watching all the  blood go down the drain. I felt terrible for weeks. You know, thinking  about the pain and fear she must have felt. 

But, yeah. Worst memory.

 

Charlie, i’m so sorry. i didn’t

idk 

i didn’t think you’d take it so seriously and just

i feel terrible for making you tell me

 

You didn’t. You told me I didn’t have to and I did anyway.

It’s not like I wanted you to know specifically but if I was going to tell  anyone I’m glad it was you.

It’s kind of a weight off my shoulders. Cathartic because I never really thought about how it made me feel.

I think you’re the only one that could have done that for me.

 

idk if that makes me feel less terrible but i’m happy I could be that person

i was going to counter with the time i threw up on my crush in high school

but the real one would be when i caught my dad cheating on my mom

i didn’t understand that’s what it was at the time

i said something to my mom, i don’t even remember what

and they had a really big fight later and that’s when my dad left us

it was weird though

i mean they still owned the farm together so he was always there

but they never talked to each other unless they had to after that and they eventually got divorced

once i understood what i’d seen i also realized i was the reason that my parents got divorced

as an adult i know that’s not true but i lived with that feeling a long time

and the feeling never really went away

idk if the memory itself is bad but everything that came after it....

i don’t want to talk about this anymore.

i know i brought it up but it’s too sad

 

Okay, whatever you want, that’s what we’ll do.

I’m still grateful that you can trust me with that, though.

Something less sad, what’s your happiest memory?

 

lol isn’t that kind of the low hanging fruit

 

The low hanging fruit is often the sweetest.

 

i don’t think that’s a thing people say but i’ll believe you

i guess my happiest memory is kind of simple

i’m sure you know but, living out on a farm can get kind of lonely

you get bused into town for school but all your friends are so far away so you spend a lot of time alone and have to entertain yourself

especially during the summer

i’m probably 12 and my mom let’s me host a sleepover for the first time

my friend comes over saturday morning and i’m just so excited

i’d already planned out everything for us to do

my mom had even bought me nail polish and make up and face masks

it all felt very adult lol

we spent all day causing trouble

taking the horses out to the creek behind the property even though we weren’t supposed to

following around the cute farmhand they hired for the summer

and blushing when he’d turn around and wave at us

but there’s just this one moment that sticks out more that the rest

it was later in the afternoon and we were taking the bikes out to race 

down a dirt road to the east of our property, next to all these grass fields

i just remember us dropping the bikes in a ditch off the side of the road

kicking our shoes off and running through the grass field while the sun set

and this flock of birds flew up over head

and i just remember thinking it was a perfect day

 

Honestly, that sounds like something out of a novel.

It’s so picturesque.

 

i guess it kind of is.

isn’t the whole idea of a perfect day like that though?

maybe the better question here is what’s the most perfect day you’ve had?

 

Maybe I did grab the low hanging fruit. That’s a much better question.

 

told you!

so what is it?

 

Probably the day my brother was born. 

The memory is pretty vague since I was only five but I remember sitting in t he waiting room. I wasn’t even bored, I kept asking my grandparents  questions like what he was going to look like and if he was going to like me. 

I think I even asked what he was going to say when he saw me and that I hoped we could be friends.

Eventually, my dad came out. I guess they’d decided that I got to be the  first to meet him so he held my hand and took me back to where my mom  was. 

He held me up so I could see him in his crib. I don’t know, I guess I loved him instantly. 

I asked them what his name was and my mom said they weren’t sure so  I said it was Simon and they just let it stick.

 

you got to name your baby brother?

i’m tearing up

i love babies and that’s just so cute TnT

 

Of course you like babies lol.

 

hey! what does that mean?

 

Oh, nothing bad, I promise. I bet you’ll be a good mom one day.

 

okay, but I’m watching you.

i want a BIG family with five or six kids

 

How funny, so do I.

 

Maybe one day our kids can have play dates!

 

Yeah, I’m sure they’d like that. Then they can make those perfect day memories together.

 

sounds like a plan!

 


 

They learn things that make them think about each other in the middle of the day. Like that Charlie will list things in alpha order when he’s feeling stressed and needs to refocus. Or that as much as Cassie hates bugs she can’t kill them because it’s not their fault they're gross. 

That Charlie will always be honest even if she doesn’t like what he says. But that he’s also as kind as possible when he’s saying something she doesn’t like.

And that Cassie has a wicked steak a mile wide. Always pushing to find a way to make Charlie squirm in his seat with a shyness you’d think an adult man wouldn’t feel. Which leads them to sometimes talking about their sex lives. 

 

22? 

 

I was a late bloomer.

 

i have to be honest the more I get to know you the less I understand the fact you’re single

 

It’s not that weird. Kim’s still single.

 

i thought you said he had a girlfriend

 

I said I thought he might have a girlfriend but, I think him and Kylee have just become close.

 

oooo jealous? your bestie has a new bestie

 

I think Kim would never talk to me again if I called him my bestie.

 

that or he’d turn red as a stop light

okay! stop avoiding the topic

HOW. ARE. YOU. SINGLE.

 

Despite what my spam folder might suggest, there are not sexy singles in my area who want to meet me.

 

i’m sure there are

they’re just all mommy bloggers with inattentive husbands

 

Exactly the kind of woman I want.

 

ya’ know. I think I might know one or two women up there that are looking

 

Cassie.

 

c’mon! please! 

let me be part of your love story

 

Do I really have a choice here?

 

nope. 

oh, she’s going to be so lucky!

a gentleman like you is hard to come by

meanwhile i can’t seem to find a boy who doesn’t want to get in my pants on the first date

 

He hesitates in composing his response.

 

charlie~ 

i can see you typing

just say it

 

Well, maybe it’s time to stop dating “bois” and start dating men.

Did I use that right?

 

lol. yeah, yeah ya did.

but it’s not like i’m looking for ‘bois’ they’re just all I seem to attract

 

You’re a wonderful woman, it’ll happen for you soon.

 

you too Charlie. we’re both too good to be single.

 

If you say so it must be true.

 

it’s weird to be called a woman

most of the time i still feel like a kid

 

In my experience, that feeling never really goes away.

I’m almost thirty and just last week I had to call my mom and ask how to get blood out of fabric.

 

:o

what happened?

 

Bloody nose. Point being, you’re never done growing up.

 

you’re probably right.

i just want to find a person to grow with

 

It must be hard being a hopeless romantic.

 

oh shush!

i think we all want a little bit of romance

somebody to share things with that you don’t tell others

 

Yeah, a better half.

That’s what my dad calls my mom. He always says they’re each the better half because they bring out the best in each other.

 

i want a love like your parents

whenever you talk about them i feel a little jealous

 

I know I already said it but, it’s going to happen for you.

 

i know it will. i just hope it’s sooner rather than later.

 


 

All things considered, the woman Cassie sets him up with is amazing. A vet named Chila who lives about 45 minutes away, which is close by rural Texas standards. She’s a few years older than him at 32 but looks like she’s still in her mid twenties. 

They go out to a TexMex restaurant, share a few drinks. She’s unbelievably entertaining with wit like lighting. If he’s being honest with himself, she’s running circles around him with well placed hints that she’s attracted to him that he doesn’t pick up on until about five seconds later. He can’t help but wonder how Cassie knows her. She hadn’t said anything other than that Chila was smart, family-oriented, and a fan of the Astros.

Half way through round two of happy hour margaritas he gets a chance to ask, “So, how do you know Cassie?”

“She’s friends with my sister,” Chila says with a flippant wave of her hand. “They’ve known each other since they were kids. How do you know Cassie?” Her tone is teasing, like a big sister who knows more than he does.

“Oh,” he rubs the back of his neck, “She came out to the farm I work at over the summer. One of our, er, ranch hands, if you could call him that, was in a fire -”

“Oh god, that sounds terrible!”

He looks up to her not realizing he’d looked away to begin with. “Well, it wasn’t great but she stayed with us to help take care of him while he recovered.”

“And you guys became friends or...?” She trails off with an easily untroubled smile on her face.

“No, that didn’t happen until after she left.”

“I see. So you guys talk a lot then?”

“I never really thought about it, but yeah, I guess.”

“Hmm,” she rolls her lips together and gives him a small smile. “You know I’m in my thirties? No husband, no kids, just me and my dogs.”

Not exactly following where this is going, all Charlie can respond with is, “Oh, I didn’t know you had dogs.”

Sighing, she finishes off her margarita. “What I’m trying to say is, I’m looking to settle down for the long term and I don’t want to wake up in three years single again because you finally understand your feelings.”

He feels his heart sink and his face flush. “I’m not sure I understand right now.”

She laughs, “That’s exactly what I’m saying. You’re cute Charlie, you don’t have to wait around.”

“Thank you?”

Laughing again she puts a hand on his knee, “I don’t think it’s going to work out between us.”

“Oh,” he hangs his head. Cassie is not going to be happy to hear about this. Looking back up, “Was it something I said?”

“Mmm, it was really what you didn’t need to say.” She sits up and turns to order them another round, “Don’t look so down, how about you tell me how Cassie’s doing. I don’t think I’ve seen her since her high school graduation.”

They chat over drinks and he finds that he really does enjoy Chila's company but as he’s driving home he realizes how relieved he is that he doesn’t have to do that again. She’d given him her number at the end of the night and told him to call if things didn’t work out but that otherwise she’d had a good time. 

He walks into his house and finds his laptop, Cassie is online and, before he can even pull up their chat, she’s messaged him. 

 

soooo how’d it go???? :) :) :)

 

Good but I don’t think we’re going to see each other again.

 

what! how can you say it went good when you didn’t get a second date?!

 

We just both agreed that there wasn’t a spark, so to speak.

 

dang it, i really thought you guys would hit it off

don’t worry

we’re not giving up!

 

If you insist lol

Hey, are you coming home for the holidays?

 

i wish. mom’s taking a cruise 

and my dad is going with his wife to visit her parents in boca raton 

so i decided to do some volunteer work at the hospital

 

You could probably stay at the ranch again.

I know Kylee misses you.

Wes’ girlfriend is out here now, too. I’m sure you’ll get along.

 

i don’t want to put anyone out and i already told the hospital i’d be there

besides i have a date lined up :)

 

Reading that makes Charlie pause, his fingers hovering over his keyboard. He doesn’t like how his chest feels suddenly heavy.

 

Well if you change your mind, you’re welcome here.

 

They spend the rest of the night talking and it’s only when he’s laying in bed staring at the ceiling that he finally understands what Chila meant. He slaps a hand over his face, “Fuck.”

 




Cassie is sitting on the bench outside of an Italian restaurant waiting for her date. He’s forty minutes late but he sent a text about how he’s almost there. However, that was twenty minutes ago. She already knows what Charlie is going to say when she recaps her date with him later. A man worth your time won’t be late.

A large truck with an unnecessary amount of suspension pulls in with it’s flood lights on and Kid Rock playing so loudly the side mirrors jump. Oh, god, she thinks when Bryan, the guy from the app, gets out. He jogs over to her, he reeks of cigarettes. A good man cares about a first impression. She’s sure Charlie probably looked nice when he went out with Chila. Maybe he even wore that new button up shirt she helped him pick out via text for a meeting with the bank. Brown is such a boring color but it looks so handsome on him. 

“Hi!” She smiles. Benefit of the doubt, maybe it’s an off day for him.

“Hey, Cassie, right?”

“Yep, it’s nice to meet you. I guess traffic must have been pretty bad, huh?”

“What?”

Her smile drops a little, “You know, since you were late.”

“Ah, yeah. Just running behind I guess.” Men don’t make excuses and you shouldn’t tolerate them.

“Oh,” she laughs awkwardly. “Um, should we head inside?”

They talk to the hostess who takes them to a two person table in the back. Bryan sits and Cassie follows on the other side. “Kind of a fancy place for drinks.” Even though Charlie has never said it, she knows he wouldn’t like knowing that Bryan hadn’t pulled her seat out for her.

“What was that?” She hadn’t quite caught what he said while lost in thought.

“I don’t know, I thought we were going to a bar. Can’t smoke in here.”

She pulls the menu in front of her body feeling suddenly self conscious since he had told her to pick the place. “I just thought it might be hard to talk at a bar. We could leave?”

“Already here, might as well stay. Didn’t realize this was a date date.” He doesn’t even look at her when he responds.

Wow, she doesn’t think anyone’s made her feel this stupid in a while.

If you don’t like the situation you can leave, Cassie.

She swallows. “Hey, maybe we should try again a different night?”

He’s suddenly attentive. “No, no. Hey, look, I’m sorry. You’re just so pretty, ya know? Let’s just get through dinner.”

Cassie actually doesn’t know what he means. She stays because there’s something about the situation that makes her think there will be a scene if she doesn’t. One more bad date isn’t going to kill her. The evening never really recovers, between him not listening to her talk, him picking his teeth, actually waving over the waiter, she’s sure this is the single worst date she’s ever been on. And that’s including the guy who got drunk and threw up on her. With the evening starting to wind down Cassie can’t believe the way she’s watching the clock.

“Hey, you want a drink?” Bryan asks between bites of spaghetti that he’s been noisily slurping into his mouth since it arrived.

“Oh, no, I’m driving,” she declines. Her goal at this point is to split the check and get to her car so she can go home and wash the general feeling of scum off of herself. 

“C’mon, one won’t hurt. No one is that much if a lightweight.”

“I really don’t-” she sighs when he stands anyway, popping his fingers from his mouth as he licks up the tomato.

“Just wait here, I’ll go grab them.” 

Men respect your boundaries. 

The busboy has already cleared their plates when Bryan gets back. She can't help but wish that the waitress had come by with the check while he’d been gone. At this point she’d pay the whole damn check just to leave. 

“Here.” He sets a murky drink down in front of her. “I paid the bill at the bar.”

Looking at it, something is off. There’s liquid running down the side of the glass and the garnish looks like it’s been disturbed, or something. Making no move to pick up the glass, “I told you I didn’t want to drink.”

“Don’t be like that. Just one then we can go.”

Setting her mouth in a hard line. “I said, no.” She stands and takes her purse before she starts marching to her car. Now that she knows the bill is paid there’s no reason to stay. As she makes her escape she talks to herself, “God I can’t believe I just sat through that.”

She’s reached her car when he catches up to her, “Hey, I paid for dinner!”

“What does that mean? I didn’t ask you to do that, I was going to ask to split the check.” 

“It means you owe me something. That’s what it means.”

“I don’t owe you a goddamn thing.”

“Oh yeah? Dinner wasn’t exactly cheap.”

She snorts. “Oh this is about money?” She finds her wallet, takes out two twenty dollar bills and shoves them in his chest. “I think that covers everything but the drink I didn’t ask for you fucking creep.”

His eyes change and there’s a sense of impending danger before he makes to grab her. He doesn’t get past a grip on her shoulder before she’s punching him in his windpipe. Bryan falls to the ground gasping for air. “Did you even read my profile? I’m a black belt in karate you dumb fuck.”

“You bitch,” he manages while struggling on the ground before she’s in her car and pulling away.

It’s once she’s on the freeway to go back to her apartment that her anger starts to ebb away and the sense of fear and embarrassment starts to set in. She doesn’t even realize she’s crying until the streetlights start to blur and then she’s letting out a choked sob. Not being able to drive like this she pulls over to the shoulder and leans her head against the steering wheel.

Tonight has been terrible and she feels desperate for comfort. 

Charlie picks up on the second ring. “Cassie?” His voice sounds tired, like he’s just woken up.

It takes her a second and she tries to pull her voice together. “Hey. Sorry, I know it’s late.”

She can hear a sudden movement on Charlie’s end, like he’s sitting up. “What’s wrong. Are you hurt. What happened.” His voice isn’t how she remembers, though she’s realizing now that they’ve never talked on the phone before. Still, it’s hardened. Worried. Demanding in a way that makes her feel cared for.

“No, I’m not hurt. Just a bad date.” She turns the receiver away from her mouth and bites her knuckle to muffle the sob in her throat.

“Cassie, if you’re hurt you need to tell me.”

“I’m not,” she sniffs and rubs the snot from her nose. “I promise. I know karate remember?”

He sounds a little calmer now, even if his voice still carries a slight edge. “I know you can take care of yourself but bad things happen. I’m sorry.”

“No. Don’t be sorry. Can you just-” she pauses and swallows while she looks for the words. “Can you just tell me about your day?” She can picture him laying back down in bed, body relaxing because she’s told him she’s okay and he believes her. 

“Yeah, of course. Remember how I told you that Kimrick and Kylee have been pretty close lately?”

She smirks, “Yeah.”

“Well I guess they’ve been dating since a bit after the barn fire.”

“What!”

“I know. I was shocked too.”

“Oh my god. Tell me everything. How did you find out?”

Cassie stays in her car on the shoulder of the freeway until they’re deep into their conversation about how it all makes sense now before she starts driving again. When she pulls into her assigned parking space at the apartment complex she lives in, she realizes they’re going to have to hangup. Charlie must sense it too because he takes an audible breath.

“Are you home now?”

“Yeah, I just parked.”

“Good. I’m happy you’re home safe.” There’s a pause. “You’re really okay, right?”

“Honestly, I think-” She can’t even believe she’s saying this, “I think he was trying to drug me.”

He doesn’t say anything for a moment and a strange sense of guilt comes over her. Maybe she’s overreacting- 

“What?” Charlie’s voice when she’d first called had been one of concern and urgency but now it’s dark. She can hear deep anger and malice. So much so that, if it wasn’t Charlie, she might be scared.

“It’s not a big deal, I’m fine.” She watches the timestamp of the call continue upwards on the screen of her dash. “Charlie? Say something.”

“I can’t, Cassie. I don’t-,” she hears him curse on the other end of the phone before coming back to the receiver. “I don’t think I’ve ever been this angry before and - and I don’t know what to do .”

“Charlie,” she says his names softly, not wanting him to worry about a bad situation that didn’t happen.

He takes a breath. Charlie’s voice is soft, maybe even pained, “You’re so far away and I can’t be there to help you.”

“But you already helped me,” Cassie whispers, hoping that the mic in her car’s bluetooth picks it up.

There’s a pause and when he speaks again his voice is softer. “I just want to do so much more for you, Cassie. He doesn’t know where you live, right?”

“No, he doesn’t even have my number. We’ve only talked through the app.”

“When you get inside your apartment, lock your doors anyway.”

“I always do.”

“Next time you go on a date, check in with me. Okay?”

“Yeah, I will.”

There’s a long moment where neither of them speak and she realizes neither of them want to or know how to hang up but eventually she says, “I’m going to go inside now, okay?”

“Yeah, okay. Go to bed soon.”

The sentiment is largely endearing. “I will. Goodnight, we’ll talk soon.”

“Goodnight, Cassie.”

A moment later he hangs up and she turns her car off before heading upstairs.

 


 

They talk on the phone regularly after that. At first Cassie will call him when she’s driving home from school or the hospital and recaps her day. In exchange, Charlie keeps her up to date on all the ranch gossip. After a while though, their late night Facebook chats become phone calls. 

She learns that Charlie snorts when he laughs and that how he types isn’t directly reflective of how he speaks. He’s much more easy-going over the phone with a voice that is warm and expressive when he talks. 

For a while, she doesn’t date much. Her experience with Bryan doesn’t exactly make her want to put herself out there. A few weeks pass without her even looking at the apps on her phone so, it’s unexpected when one of the boys in her Thursday lecture begins to approach her. He’s cute with blond hair and a rounded face and, of all things, his name is James - though he goes by Jamie. 

He’s disarming though persistent and eventually he wears her down to a coffee date one Friday morning in spring before he has class and she has an appointment. All things considered it’s one of the best dates she’s gone on. He’s early, already waiting for her outside the doors when she pulls up. He holds the door for her, pulls out her chair, asks her what she wants before going to the counter to order for them and coming back with four different muffins for her to choose from.

Cassie is, more than all other things, charmed. The conversation flows easily and about half way through she really starts to notice how cute he is. And he’s checking all the boxes. Meeting all the expectations Charlie has helped her set for herself over the last few months.

She’s finishing her latte as he talks about his family and growing up in North Dakota when a thought crosses her mind, He’s kind of perfect. The thought scares her because it dawns on her that it’s not enough. He’s still missing something. Still coming up short even though technically he shouldn’t be. It’s in that moment that everything finally clicks into place. 

Oh.

The fact of the matter is that, as perfect as Jamie might be, could be, for her - he’s not Charlie. How long has it been Charlie? How long has she gone without realizing what he means to her? Or realizing what she wants to mean to him?

“Hey.”

She looks up, not having realized she was staring at the bottom of her empty mug. “Oh, sorry.” He looks so excited, like a puppy hoping to be told they did well. 

“It’s fine,” he smiles at her. “So, did you want to do this again?”

She feels bad having to turn him down, “You’re a really nice guy-”

“Oh, that’s not good.” His face falls.

“No! - Well, I mean, yes. I mean it when I say your a nice guy and believe me when I say I had a good time with you today but -”

“But?”

“I don’t think I’m available right now.”

He pauses, finger tapping the table awkwardly. Looking away, “So, there’s somebody else?”

The question catches her off guard, partly because she knows the answer immediately. There is no complication, “Yeah, there is.”

He looks away, dejected. “Lucky guy.”

“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to lead you on.”

“It’s okay, you miss all the chances you never take, right?” There’s an awkward pause, though who can blame either of them based on the situation. Finally, he speaks, “Thanks for coming today.”

“Of course but I think I should leave now. Besides,” she leans in, “the barista keeps looking over here and she’s not looking at me.” Cassie gives him a wink before standing and gathering her things. “I’ll see you in class, okay?”

“Yeah,” he puts on a small smile. “I’ll see you then.”

Cassie lets herself out of the cafe and goes to her car. Inside the air is warm and stagnant before the AC finally kicks in. It’s when that happens that she calls Charlie. She’s not sure he’s going to answer since it’s the middle of the work day but he picks up on the second ring, Just like always.

“Hey, Cassie, everything okay?”

“Yeah.” She’s suddenly unsure. It’s not like she called with a plan, she’d just wanted to hear his voice to confirm what she’s probably felt for months and just hadn’t formed into a thought. “Are you busy?”

“Um, no. I was just about to eat lunch.” There’s a pause and when Charlie comes back his voice sounds a little stiff, “How was your date?”

Her stomach drops with nervousness. It’s then that she looks out the window and watches Jamie walk across the parking lot to his own car. What has he said? Something about missing the chances you never take?

Instead of answering his question she asks one of her own. “If I told you I wanted to see you, would you come?”

There’s a long pause but when Charlie responds his voice is cloaked in an unspoken understanding of what she’s implying. “Yes.”

She swallows as the nervousness in her stomach makes her swallow before she takes a chance on something that could be great. “I want to see you, Charlie.”

 


 

She spends the afternoon cleaning and recleaning her apartment to avoid putting too much thought into the fact Charlie is going to be arriving sometime this evening. She’s a three hour drive away from him and though she’d tried to convince him to wait until morning he was adamant that he could make the drive after work.

It’s just after nine in the evening when he arrives. Cassie opens the door and it swings wide. It doesn’t feel like she thought it would to see him standing there in her doorway, bathed in the yellow light of the walkway and a black duffel bag over his shoulder. The nerves she’d had since the phone call disappear instantly and are replaced with a surprising sense of calm. She’d been afraid that once they were standing in front of each other the intimacy they’d developed over the last few months would shatter against the hammer of reality. But, no. This feels right. 

This feels overwhelmingly perfect.

“Hi,” he says with an unwavering gaze that makes her feel like there’s nothing else but the two of them.

“Hi,” she returns a little dumbly. God, she doesn't remember him being this good-looking. Handsome, sure, but she can tell he cleaned up for her. Put thought into the dark blue jeans he’s wearing and how they pair nicely with the simple yet flattering gray shirt that fits snug at the waist and around his biceps. “Can I come in?”

“Oh, yeah.” She steps back from the door and presses it closed behind him. “Sorry, it’s not much.”

Charlie takes a look around. She lives in a corner unit so the left hand and far wall are both a redish, grayish brick while the other walls are a cream. To his immediate left is the living area with a futon for a couch, probably for guests since behind the couch, at the long end of the L-shaped space, is Cassie’s bed. A thin natural wood frame with a mattress covered in purple and cream bedding. Above the headboard are large Edison style light bulbs on a wire that are hung up with hooks and plug in behind the nightstand. “It suits you,” he says turning back to her.

She looks shy, nothing like her generally outgoing self. Her eyes keep catching his gaze and then looking away only to look back as she pulls her lip between her teeth. Turning away from him she steps towards the kitchen with bare feet on barn wood linoleum, “I wasn’t sure if I should make dinner but I have spaghetti and pasta sauce-”

He drops the duffel bag and it makes a loud thud on the ground before he steps after her. His hand reaches out and gently grabs her wrist before pulling with just enough force to encourage her to turn around. “Cassie,” he says looking down at her, measuring the apprehension in her gaze. “Am I making you nervous?” Charlie asks as his hand slips down to her’s. Their fingertips brush, then their palms come together so that their hands are hovering between them.

“No, you don’t make me nervous. I just don’t want to mess anything up.”

Charlie can’t help how the corner of his mouth pulls up just a little. Lifting his other hand he draws Cassie in by her waist. They’re both familiar with this, a little slow dancing as they sway in a circle to music that plays softly from a Bluetooth speaker in the kitchen. It’s hard to even say what kind of song it might be, since it can barely be heard over the AC. 

“I’m happy you’re here,” Cassie says as she steps in closer and puts her head on his shoulder. Eventually they stop dancing but they don’t pull away either, neither of them sure what comes next. “When I went on my date today,” she starts, looking for the courage to continue, “it was almost perfect. He got there early, held the door, bought my coffee, actually listened and asked questions when I talked.”

“But?”

Cassie finally pulls back, deciding to be brave and meets his gaze. His eyes are a deep brown, wide, warm, and welcoming. Bringing her hand to his face, she runs her hand under the corner of his eyes, across his cheekbone. “He wasn’t you.”

Charlie’s hand comes up to meet hers, the weight of which holds her there. He turns his head, kisses her wrist and she can feel just the slightest stubble he may have missed while shaving. 

“Cassie,” he says her name hoping she can feel what has built up in him over the months he’s spent pining for her. “Do you want -” he doesn’t even finish his sentence before she’s coaxing him down into their first kiss.

It’s no more than a meeting of lips and even so it doesn’t escape either of them how it feels like they’ve done it a hundred times. Feels just like coming home to somebody you’ve missed intensely. Her hand moves from under his so she can grab his wrist and place his hand to her hip. Charlie is more than happy to follow her lead because he wants to give her everything she wants just as she wants it. 

He moves to deepen the kiss, pulls her hips to his, feels her push her chest against him, and how she reciprocates the same desperation he feels. Dropping her jaw to slip him just enough tongue to invite him to do the same, and he does. He kisses her until his lungs burn, begging for oxygen and Cassie edges her face to the side so her breath rolls hot over his cheek and across his ear while she too catches her breath. 

Cassie pecks the back corner of his jaw, craning her neck to the side to offer it to him. The sigh she lets out when he tips her back, pulling her into him as he bestows her neck with increasingly heated kisses makes him hard. He had no expectations coming here. He’d have been happy to just sit and talk. Listen to her express herself and ideas in person and watch the faces she made while she did. But, this is nice too. Welcomed and exciting in and of itself. 

She feels him through his jeans, the way his member hardens just over her hip bringing a heat to her. Cassie’s hands run down his biceps, appreciating the thickness of his arms and how they make her feel important and, above all else, safe.

Moving her hands away, Cassie places them on the jut of his hips and moves her fingers to ruck up his shirt so they can feel the solidness of his core. Her touch draws a soft grunt from him that makes her smile with wicked intentions. “Charlie~” she says his name with a smile and a lilt of playfulness. In return he nips her low on her neck, almost at her collarbone. It makes her breath catch and a hand instinctively go to the back of his head, grab his hair, and pull his face into her.

To be quite honest, both of them could do this for hours. Just kiss and touch and bask in the glow of finally making it here, to this moment.

She kisses quickly up his jaw and licks a gentle stripe over where his sideburns would be if he had any. With her breath hot against his ear, Cassie says his name again. “Charlie.”

This time he pauses, waiting for her to tell him what to do next. Her voice is airy against his ear, “I want you to take me to bed.”

Pushing her bangs back from her forehead he kisses her there, a gesture that makes Cassie feel - is it loved? Cherished? Special?

“Okay,” is his response - it’s simple but assured. Cassie steps back from him, takes his hand and pulls him over to her bed. She lets herself fall back, catching herself on her elbows, pulling a foot up on to the bed frame while her other leg hangs off the side of her mattress. Her eyes look up at him from under long lashes as she drags her bottom lip through her teeth. Enticing him to follow her down.

Temptress, he can’t help but think as she pulls him over her. Charlie finds them scooting back to be more securely over the mattress as his body cages her against the bed. Their mouths meet slowly, gently reaching out to feel their heated breath. Their legs slot together, Cassie’s thigh coming up to meet his groin. “ Fuck,” Charlie says pulling his mouth away from hers, he’d almost forgotten about his hardness but being reminded makes the feeling all the more urgent and intense.

Their shirts come off one after the other, lost to the floor and low lighting. Then her hands start to fumble with his belt before popping the button of his jeans. Cassie slips her hand inside and feels him through his boxers and oh god, this is really happening. She smiles to herself and lets her eyes fall closed as Charlie runs his hands up her ribs, his mouth pressing open mouth kisses over the bone of her chest as a hand sneaks beneath the wire of her bra to rub across her nipple.

She’s breathing heavy now, breathy and sudden gasps escaping her the more she’s touched and worshiped. Cassie pulls Charlie’s mouth back up to hers and kisses him deep, licks into his mouth with a new urgency. She wants everything now but Charlie is so gentle and slow in his ministrations which just serves to make her want him all the more. 

He moves his lips to kiss her chin, the underside of her jaw, down her chest until he reaches her stomach, where he sucks and bites at the soft flesh around her navel. Cassie lets herself be taken care of, her arms coming up to rest over her head. 

Charlie continues down, backing off the bed and dragging her with him until he’s kneeling on the floor. He grabs the waistband of her shorts and waits until she’s looking at him. Cassie smiles at him with hooded eyes, “Why are you stopping?”

He can’t help but to grin back at her. “Just making sure.” It dawns on him that they haven’t talked much since he’s arrived, he supposes that their bodies speak for them but he’s still surprised they both seem to intrinsically sense what they each want.

Cassie lifts her hips to help him tug her shorts down her thighs and raises her knees so he can pull them off fully. She grabs a pillow and shoves it under her head as he sinks down on his haunches and pulls her hips to the edge of the bed. Her legs fall open for him and he kisses the inside of her knee as he meets her gaze and sees how she grins wolfishly with anticipation. 

Charlie continues down the inside of her leg. Biting to draw soft gasps from deep inside her. He doesn’t want to move too fast, wants to watch her come undone slowly and treat her gently - the way she deserves.

When he finally reaches her core he kisses over her mound, teasing her until she’s pushing against his mouth, “Please, Charlie.” He looks up over the length of her body. She’s on her elbows now, looking down at him. “Put your mouth on me.”

His cock throbs at her words. God, he wants to give her all of him. Be inside her. Treat her right. But not yet. After all, ladies first. He runs his tongue over the length of her slit, eyes trying their best to watch her as he does. Her tongue pokes out over her lip before pulling back inside.

Charlie repeats the motion, this time pushing his tongue between her lips and finding that she’s already wet and wanting. The way she shudders when he traces circles around her clit makes him want to stay between her legs forever. He pulls his face away, not done by any means. “Cassie,” he says to draw her attention to him. When he sees he has it he continues, “Tell me how to make you cum.”

Her face flushes red which is an unbearably endearing time to be shy considering she’s nearly naked, save for the lacy red bra that’s still holding her breast center, and he’s already begun to eat her out. Finally though, she squeaks out an, “Okay.”

Charlie moves his hands from under her thighs and lets the weight of her legs fall over his shoulders. He kisses down the soft skin of her inner thigh and sucks rosy hickies onto them until her chest rises and falls with anticipation. And then he’s on her again, mouth falling open over her labia, one arm coming up to keep her hips from bucking too much, and his free hand coming up to pull her lips apart. 

He’s more aggressive this time. Sloppy with his movements and unshy about the noises his mouth makes as he tries his best to make her feel good. He pulls and sucks at her lips then brings his mouth back to her center to lick wide stripes over her hooded clit. 

Cassie is a breather, he’s learning and it’s like beautiful music when he manages to draw the punctuated gasps from her lungs when he does something right.

“Charlie,” she breathes out urgently and he turns his eyes upwards to see her grasping at her own breasts. It’s just about the hottest thing he’s ever seen. “Fingers. Inside. Please.”

He stops using his pointer and middle finger on his right hand to her open and awkwardly angles his other hand across her hips to replace them from above. He brings his first two fingers together and pushes them confidently inside until they’re buried deep in her.

Yes,” she says the word with a tight groan. “Curl them - no, just a little -”

He adjusts, using the flat of his fingertips as opposed to the fingertip itself.

Cassie’s breath catches, “ Oh god. Yes. Just like that.

Her hips start trying to push back against him so he does his best to grant them room to move while also using his hand to keep her open enough for him to effectively work his mouth over her. 

“Firmer-” she gasps. “Inside-”

He pushes his fingers more solidly against her inner walls as he drags them down in a curling motion. Charlie finds that the firmer he moves his fingers the louder she becomes and the harder her walls clamp down on him. He can’t help but think of his neglected cock.

Fuckfuckfuckfuckfuck,” her words run together. “ Charlie-” his name trails off her tongue on a high pitched breath. Her hands fly down and push his face roughly into her as if he could be any closer. “ Suck my clit - hard,” she punctuates her demand.

He does just as asked, sucks and flicks the tip of her pleasure with unbelievable concentration. On his own, Charlie starts pumping his fingers in and out of her with more intensity as he starts to get a genuine feel for how to please her to the fullest. He can feel her insides start to pulse around him, her orgasm building and confirmed when she starts babbling “ I’m gonna- I’m gonna - don’t stop don’t stop-” her knees come together, trapping his head between her thighs. Breathing gets hard for him, even so he keeps fucking his fingers into her and decides in the furthest reaches of his mind that he wouldn’t mind being suffocated right then and there. He keeps doing exactly what she’s asked until her back arches off the bed and her body goes stiff with a scream that barely has time to escape her before going silent.

Her body starts to relax but jumps with aftershocks as Charlie slows his fingers and releases her clit in favor of returning to wide and gentle stripes that make her whimper when his tongue actually pulls over the head of her clit.

It’s once she starts letting out slow, deeper breaths of air that he pulls away and moves his mouth back to her pillowy thighs. He kisses her until she comes back from where he sent her and Cassie’s eyes seem more focused. Charlie crawls back over her, her face wrecked with lines where her tears of overstimulation escaped the corner of her eyes. 

They stare at each other. Charlie so that he can commit this moment to memory. Cassie because she’s in a state of physical disbelief over how hard she just came thanks to Charlie. 

She gains her wits about her, sits up on her elbow and uses one hand to pull his face to hers, not caring that she can taste herself on his tongue. It’s her turn, she thinks. And, Jesus, she wants to blow his mind. 

Cassie pulls her mouth away, “Condoms.” She clears her throat, “Do you have some?”

Charlie nods, “Yeah. In my bag. Just in case.” She nods and he backs off her to where his duffel bag lies forgotten on the floor. She sits up and feels how her own wetness all but drips out of her. She reached behind herself, undoes her bra, letting her breasts fall with gravity. Still perky and round save for where her nipples are hard over dusky pinkish areolas.

She brings herself to the edge of the bed and wraps her arms around Charlie’s neck to bring him in for a kiss when he comes back to her. She pushes his pants down, he helps her until they drop into a pool at his feet and he can step out of them. 

Charlie tries to push her down but she pulls back. “I want to do it.” When all he does is blink at her she expands, “Lay down for me.”

“Oh,” it’s his turn to blush, she watches as he tries to hide a smile which she returns unashamed.

“C’mon. I can’t let you do all the work.”

They situate themselves in the middle of the bed with Charlie’s head on the pillows and the headboard behind him. Cassie has her thighs spread over his stomach, leans over his chest to pepper kisses on his face. She sits up, takes the box of condoms from him, and turns it over in her hands. “A twelve pack?” 

Quickly, “Well, I just - you know. I wasn’t sure a-and I wanted to be prepared in case -”

She giggles. “I’m just teasing you, Charlie.” Cassie leans down and presses her lips to his. Despite how she tries she can’t get the box open and impatience grows between them.

Charlie snatches the box from her hand and tears it open with his teeth. “Stupid box.”

She laughs at him, “Cute.”

“What?” He looks back up at her.

“Cute. You. You’re a cutie.” She takes the box back from him and adjusts so she’s sitting over his thighs. 

“You’re the cutie,” Charlie mumbles and it makes Cassie smile to herself with how petulant he sounds. As if it’s never occurred to him that he’s cute.

She tears off a condom from the rest and throws the others to the side of the bed. “Okay. Then you can be the sexy one.” Her fingers struggle with the wrapping but finally get a good grasp on it. 

“Sorry but that’s you, too.”

Cassie snorts with amusement. “Then what are you?”

Charlie thinks a second, “The lucky one.”

Now, that makes her feel shy. “More like the cheesy one,” the words come from under her breath and Charlie shares in her amusement. 

His hands come to her thighs, thumbs rubbing them gently. He can already see the hickies he left behind and his cock jumps at that. 

“Ready,” Cassie announces as she slides back on his legs until she can lean over his cock, albeit awkwardly. She kisses the tip, licks the precum off of it before giving it a long wet suck making Charlie hiss and tilt his head back. Her mouth slurps when she comes off his cock. She takes the condom, places it in her mouth, and is absolutely delighted when Charlie cusses as it dawns on him what she plans to do.

Cassie’s hand comes up to cup his balls, rolling them in her palm when the condom touches the head of his cock. Pushing her hair behind her ear and taking a deep breath she rolls the condom down the length of his member. He, again, hisses at the sensation and when she pulls off she wipes the spit from her lips.

Shimming up his thighs, she raises herself up on her knees, reaches between her legs until she has a firm grasp on Charlie, and lines him up with her entrance. The head catches inside her and it’s only then that she looks up at him, notices his eyes are screwed shut making her frown. “Hey,” she calls for his attention.

Eyes sliding open, mouth shut tight as he looks at her. “I want you to watch.”

His lips unclench letting out deep and heavy breath, “I’m worried I’m going to cum if I do.”

Cassie grins. “Good thing we have twelve condoms, huh?”

He smirks back at her, “I guess so.”

“Okay, now, don’t look away. I want to watch you watch me when I do this.”

Charlie swallows and gives her a nod. “Whatever you want.”

Looking at his face, she sinks down. Watching Charlie as his eyes go wide and his mouth drops open. “Shit.” His voice is choked and it makes her feel powerful and sexy to have him at her mercy. 

He bottoms out inside her and she bites her lip to stifle an airy whimper. She’s breathing heavily, indulging herself at the feeling of being filled by him. His cock is warm inside of her with a length and girth that she didn’t know would be this perfect. “Are you going to cum?” She breathes out trying to be teasing but ultimately sounding just as desperate for him as he looks for her.

“God, I fucking hope not.” He puts his hands on her hips. “You’re gorgeous,” it’s a phrase that makes her blush. Not because she’s never heard that before but because it’s Charlie saying it. Charlie appreciating the way she looks and in that she finds a deep seeded want of approval given to her. Is it vain to want to feel wanted? If it is, she doesn’t care because knowing he wants her like this, naked and vulnerable under his gaze fills her like nothing else does.

With that she straightens her back, plants her hands on her own thighs and rolls her hips forward. Charlie inhales deeply, tenses his thighs beneath her, and tries to take even breaths to calm himself.

She starts to put on a show. Pushing her hair up and letting it fall through her fingers and down her back when her hips start to alternate from forward movement to wide circles. Some of her hair lands and in thick strands across her face, obscuring her gaze which she locks on Charlie. His face is cute, twisted in pleasure, begging for her to do more with each small grunt he makes. 

Watching Charlie watch her, her movements become faster and more exaggerated. His hands follow the motion of her hips, providing support as she leans back, planting one hand on his thigh while using the other to grope herself, tugging and twisting her nipples. More for his benefit than hers and she’s happy to do it. To try and be a dirty fantasy in the flesh.

There’s a growing impatience in Charlie’s eyes and she can imagine him wanting to flip her over and drive himself into her until he can finish. But, he’s good to her, let’s Cassie do what she wants as she pleases. 

She leans forward, putting both her hands on his abs in such a way that her tits are pushed together, creating the perfect amount of cleavage. Cassie lifts herself and starts to bounce, using all of her core muscles to slide up and down his cock by isolating the movements of her hips.

Her hair starts to fall uncomfortably into her vision but Charlie’s hand comes up to hold it out of the way. The way he’s looking at her is hungry. Like he wants to take and keep her. She leans forward, intentions be damned, and kisses him securely.

Charlie wraps his arms around her back, keeping her pressed against him as his hips snap up to meet her downward thrusts. She starts to melt into him, her hips slowing as she lets him take over. He feels her hand between them making fast circles around herself and, if he wasn’t so concerned with keeping her as close to him as humanly possible, he would move her hand and do it for her. But, this is hot in it’s own way, feeling her pleasure herself as she also gets off on the way he fucks into her.

“Charlie,” she says his name, her cheek resting on his chest, not really sure what she wants by saying it. Still he obliges her directionless plea and rolls them so he’s on top with Cassie’s hair fanned out beneath her and tired eyes looking at him with such tenderness. 

Cassie’s fingers scratch up and down the coarse hair beneath his navel, making him breakout in goosebumps over his shoulders. He leans down to taste her lips, kisses her sloppy and slow while they grind themselves lazily against one another. Taking this opportunity he fondles her breast, perfect shape and size by his standards and he’s secretly happy to know that. He tucks himself awkwardly so he can put his mouth on them. Circling her nipple with his tongue, gently pulling it through his teeth before kissing and sucking the flesh that makes up the round slope that travels to the center of her chest and starts the process all over again on the other.

She arches her chest towards him, saying his name again, “I’m happy you like them. They’ll be there for you later, too.”

He looks up at her and smiles sheepishly before kissing Cassie softly. She brushes his bangs back from his face. “I love your eyes.”

The comment catches him off guard and the only response he can come up with is, “They’re brown.”

Cassie uses her knuckles to stroke his cheek. “No, they’re kind.”

His chest feels like it’s going to burst. She doesn’t know it but he’s probably loved her for months, refusing to admit it to himself because of how heartbreaking it would be for it to go unreturned. He knows not to say it now but he wants to. God, he wants to.

Kissing up her cheek he puts his mouth against her ear, “I’m going to finish us off now, okay?”

Cassie’s hands grips his biceps and she nods.

Charlie rights himself so he can look at her while he starts a steady rhythm with firm thrusts that make Cassie sigh and close her eyes with satisfaction. Using the headboard as leverage, he picks up speed driving his hips forward with such intensity that the sound of their skin slapping together seems to fill the room. 

With a little concentration he could cum right then, buried inside her, but he wants to see her come apart one more time. His hand comes to her, thumb dipping down into her slick before running up to circle her clit. Cassie pushes into his touch as her hand joins his, directing it.

“Like this,” she says, pushing his thumb firmly against her nub. “Fast circles,” Cassie breathes out as Charlie begins to synchronize both rhythms. Their speed mounts so that Cassie has to put her hands above her to stop herself from being fucked into the wall, her breasts bounce in circles, all the while they keep looking into each other. Ready to fall.

When she cums the second time it’s more subdued. Her breath hitches up, up, up, until her neck starts to go red and her back arches. The muscles around Charlie contract violently keeping him inside her, milking his orgasm out of him. He fucks them both through their climax, playing with Cassie’s clit until she’s pushing his hand away saying that it’s too much and once he’s reached a point of overstimulation as well, he lets his body down on top if hers.

Charlie noses against her neck, taking in the waning scent of her shampoo. Something fruity and girlish. Her arms wrap around him, one pulling his face into her while the other strokes along the spine of his upper back. Her fingers run through his hair, giving him such tender attention that he feels unfamiliarly vulnerable. But, he can’t bring himself to ask her to stop. 

So they lay there, tangled together, and falling for each other in the most natural way possible. Like the force of gravity.

 


 

It’s well after midnight and Cassie finds herself pulled flush against Charlie. She wears his shirt. Cliche? - maybe, but she can’t help the way she likes how it smells. Charlie is so gentle with her dropping kisses on her shoulder as he speaks.

“So, Orpheus, saddened by his wife’s death traveled to the underworld so retrieve her spirit, but he was met with challenges such as having to lull Cerberus to sleep with his lute and charming Pluto, Hades in Greek mythology, as well. Pluto took pity on him and said his wife may return with him to the land of the living but that she would follow him and Orpheus could not look back to see her until they were both outside the underworld. But, he heard her fall, looked back out of concern, and she was pulled back into the darkness. Heartbroken he went back to his village where he refused the advances of the women there which is ultimately what he wanted because they killed him and it meant he could spend eternity with his wife in the underworld.”

Cassie hugs her arm to him, “And that’s the story of the Summer Triangle constellation?”

“Mmmhmm.” His voice is tired but indulgent nonetheless.

“Why are all the stories so tragic? Like the Seven Sisters being pursued for all eternity by Orion who they wanted so badly to escape they became doves and flew into the sky to become stars.”

“Well, the Greeks and Romans loved a good tragedy.”

This makes her smile and push back into him. Her heart feels so happy to be there with Charlie, so much so that the feeling is similar to a deep sadness. “Charlie,” her voice is small, scared and maybe she’s stupid but if she doesn’t say it...

“Hmm?” He sounds so sleepy.

“I - um,” she can feel her heart thumping in her chest. She starts to question herself, maybe it was just the endorphins released by sex but, no. She reminds herself of their late night chats turned hours long phone calls. Falling asleep with her phone pressed to her ear as Charlie told her about all the stars in the sky. She can’t say what she means so she tries something else, “It will probably sound strange but, if we were to be a story that ended in tragedy, I wouldn’t mind.”

He laughs against the side of her face, “What does that mean?”

She swallows, “I guess it means that, I think I’d do anything to stay with you. I’d be a star or follow you to the underworld or whatever the gods in your stories do.”

“Cassie,” his voice is soft. So soft that it makes everything about her relax “I’ve been falling in love with you for months, I’d do the same. Become a star, follow you to the underworld, anything you want.”

Her whole body feels electric. Turning over she puts her hands on Charlie’s chest. His eyes slide open, just in time to catch the smile on her lips. He leans down to meet her lips for a soft kiss. They don’t talk more than that, just watch each other, memorizing the moment until they can no longer keep their eyes open.

 


 

When Charlie tries to leave Sunday night, he’s not sure Cassie will let him. She clings to his neck, refuses to let go and laments that, “It wasn’t enough.”

Charlie pats her hair and says they’ll see each other soon, reminds her that they can talk every night, text all day, and that summer will be here sooner than it feels.

Still, Cassie can’t help but fear what their future looks like, hours away from each other. Lives on different paths. Even so they promise to take that chance. 

When they kiss goodbye, Cassie wipes the tears from her, puts her face in his chest one last time. “Would it be crazy to say that I love you and that I’m sorry it took me so long to realize it?”

“Not crazy at all.” Kissing the top of her head, “Because I love you, too.”

Cassie watches his truck leave until it turns a corner and is out of sight.

Her chest tightens as she realizes that she now has what she had always wanted: a great romance.

Finally.