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Babes

[Author’s Note: Even a raging inferno need be born of a smoldering flame, and as burns go this piece is unhurried. Though the journey may seem over-long for some, I look to the conclusion with optimistic view. May the narrative and deeds herein be worthy of your attentions, dear reader. Enjoy.]

* * * * * *

THE TALE OF CHASE & CHARLI: MY SISTER, MY HEART, MY DESIRE

CHAPTER 1: Chase and Charli

I stand there in utter shock with my jaw hanging open.

I want to say or do something, but I’m frozen in place and watch in shocked silence while some random guy fucks my girlfriend on her apartment couch. I can tell she’s enjoying it. Penny’s light blond hair is in disarray, her eyes are closed tight, and she bites her lower lip in a sure sign she’s about to climax.

I’d come over early this morning to bring her flowers and see if she wanted to go out for breakfast. I thought things were getting pretty serious between us when she’d given me a key to her place, but little did I know it was going to turn out like this the first time I used it.

There’s a soft sound as something hits the floor near my feet, and I realize in a detached way it was the bundle of red roses falling from my nerveless fingers. The light noise causes Penny to open her eyes.

“Chase!” she exclaims. “What are you doing here?”

The tone of her voice is a kick in the nuts. It’s like I’m inconveniencing her or something. There’s no shame in her voice, no regret. I feel sick to my stomach. I think she may have said something else, and maybe the guy said something too. It’s lost against my pounding heart and the blood as it rushes through my ears in dizzying, thrumming waves.

What do you do in a situation like this?

I suppose some people would go bonkers and do something very, very bad. I’ve always been pretty stable, emotionally speaking, and that simply isn’t me. I try to sound as nonchalant as possible, but I think my voice cracks when I say, “I guess I don’t need this anymore.”

I drop Penny’s apartment key on the ground next to the roses, turn on my heel, and leave. I get in my car and drive aimlessly around the city for maybe an hour. Eventually I find myself parked in front of my house, but I only sit there with a white-knuckled grip on the steering wheel, my anger finally kicking in.

“God dammit!”

I hit the dashboard a couple times, but it doesn’t make me feel any better. It just causes my hand to hurt. A few deep breaths helps calm me a little. I guess you never know how something like this will affect you until it happens.

I think about skipping classes today, but that won’t accomplish anything. I’ll end up moping around the house all day feeling sorry for myself. Logically, I know this gut-twisting feeling will eventually pass, and if I keep my mind occupied it’ll help. Still, it’s hard to muster the will to move from my car.

Then I notice my sister’s shiny new Aston Martin parked nearby, which means she’s home. I roll my eyes with a heavy sigh. Great. Just what I need. I’m having a bad enough day. I really don’t want to put up with her nonsense to boot.

Don’t get me wrong. Charli is family, and I love her. It’s just…my elder sister can get under my skin some days with her antics, and I’m not in the mood for it. She and I are sort of polar opposites nowadays. I’m the responsible one with the life plan, and she’s the carefree (read flaky and irresponsible) soul who goes wherever the wind blows her.

She didn’t use to be this way…years ago. I looked up to her when we were much younger. My older sister was the more mature, more responsible of the two of us for the longest time. Somewhere along the way she stepped from the path and got lost in the forest of her own life.

I take another deep breath and steel my resolve in order to even budge from this car. It takes a lot of steeling.

I exit my vehicle and take the front walk toward my house, though it’s actually my parents’ house, and it’s more of a mansion than a house. I live here while going to college. Charli lives here, too. In a sense. If you mail my sister something this is where it shows up, but she generally spends her days and nights elsewhere.

I head toward my room on the second floor. The place is quiet, except for the distant sound of a vacuum running on the opposite end of the third floor above. It’s a little odd for Liz, our maid, to be here so early, but it happens occasionally.

As I approach my room I begin to smell it. The stink is unmistakable.

Marijuana.

It’s coming from my sister’s room, which means mom and dad are absent and going to be gone for at least a couple days. They probably decided to take a trip to the coast for the weekend or something.

With everything that happened this morning the thought of my sister doing something illegal in my parents’ house sets me off. I mean how disrespectful can you be? Mom and dad hand Charli the world on a silver platter, and she’s constantly doing stupid shit like this.

It’s not that I object to bahis firmaları smoking weed on some type of moral grounds. I tried it a few times when I was a teen. I won’t touch the stuff anymore because of how it muddies my mind, but that doesn’t mean I think no one else should. I don’t care what people do in the privacy of their homes. It’s just that it’s still against the law in this state, and here she is puffing away like she’s the one who owns the place.

I stomp down the hall and pound angrily on Charli’s door.

“Chill out Lizzie!” comes my sister’s voice from inside her room.

I slam my fist against the wood a few more times. Finally the door whips open. My sister looks mildly surprised when she sees it’s me and not the maid. I snap, almost immediately regretting my words.

“Burn some fucking incense or something you selfish bitch!”

Charli gets a stunned look on her face, like I just gut-punched her or something. I don’t think I’ve ever been that verbally vicious with my sister before. In fact, this may be the first time I’ve ever spoken to her like that. I’m not exactly thinking straight, so I can’t recall.

I hadn’t meant to sound so harsh, it all just rolled out, but there’s nothing to be done for it now. The words are already spoken, and I’m in no mood to apologize, especially since Charli is the one in the wrong here. I turn and stalk quickly to my room, slamming the door behind me.

I feel like I’m on the verge of losing control. Maybe going to class isn’t such a good idea. That’s all I need is to blow up at a classmate or professor over some insignificant thing.

I flop down on my bed.

“Screw it.”

I decide to stay home. I turn on my side and close my eyes, pressing them tight against the tears I feel coming on and the annoying, painful emotions that claw at my heart. It’s as if I’m being eaten alive from the inside out by something I have no control over.

Though my mind is racing, it’s doing nothing but grinding gears in a futile attempt to make sense of…well, anything at this point. I guess my brain simply wears itself out. It isn’t long before sleep claims me.

* * * * * *

My little unconscious escape from reality doesn’t help. I wake up feeling equally as shitty as when I lay down. Only a couple of hours has passed, and I find myself wishing I could just sleep away the next month or two. I know it won’t help, but at least then I wouldn’t have to deal with all these fucked-up feelings.

Betrayal of trust. Inadequacy as a man. Being lost and not having a clue. Wondering what, if anything, I did that was so wrong. Now I’m “that guy”. You know, the one you look at with pity because his girl cheated on him. I understand I’ll have to sort it all out eventually, but that isn’t going to happen right this moment. My wound is too fresh.

First things first, though. I can at least try to make amends. I should apologize to Charli. It was pretty lame of her to smoke weed in our parent’s house and not at a friend’s place, but still…I shouldn’t have been so cruel with my words. It was really d-bag of me to take my horrible morning out on my sister, a sister who, despite any shortcomings, has always been kind and sweet and supportive to me.

I knock softly on her door.

“Charli?” I call out. “Hey, sis?”

No answer. Did she leave?

“Just a sec,” her muted voice drifts through the nearby bathroom door a moment later.

I guess she’s still home, just not in her room.

I walk over to the bathroom just as my sister steps out. She’s swathed in a big, puffy bath towel. I almost run into her but we both stop just in the nick of time. Her hair is wrapped in another towel, and she has a ruffled pile of clothes under one arm. The damp sheen of her skin tells me she only barely got out of the shower.

“What?” she asks flatly, though I see in her lightly bloodshot eyes she’s still pissed at me.

“Look,” I begin, “I’m sorry. I had a really bad morning and…”

Charli holds up her free hand to forestall my apology and explanation. She gives me “the look”. Only my sister could smile so sweetly and look so hurt and forlorn at the same time. I don’t know how she does it, but my heart always melts when I see that look of hers.

My sister informs me, “If you wanna say you’re sorry you can start by making me some blueberry pancakes for breakfast while I go get dressed.”

This is just like Charli. She’s always believed actions speak louder than words. Something she once said has always stuck with me – “anyone can push air through their lips and make sounds, but a real man backs up what he says with what he does”.

I think I was about ten when she told me that. I wonder if my sister knows how strongly those words influenced the person I grew up to be. Practice what you preach. Actions speak louder than words. I’m sure there are a lot more platitudes that express the sentiment, but I always liked how Charli worded it better.

“Okay. Pancakes it is, if that’s what you want,” I agree, understanding kaçak iddaa that she’s letting me off light.

“I do. Two big, fluffy ones.”

“Okay,” I repeat.

“You’re still standing here,” Charli observes after a moment, making a shooing gesture at me with one hand.

“Oh. Right.”

I head downstairs to the kitchen and set about my task. I’m actually not a bad cook, and pancakes are one of those things I can make without having to consult a recipe.

Soon I have the batter mixed and start the two requested pancakes. I get some bacon frying slowly over a low flame, and I begin to cut oranges to squeeze some fresh orange juice. If this is what Charli wants as an apology then I’m fine with going overboard. The process of cooking seems somewhat therapeutic, as it keeps my hands and mind occupied for a time.

“That smells freakin’ awesome,” my sister chimes as she walks into the kitchen and seats herself at the breakfast bar.

The food will be fine by itself for a moment, so I turn my attention to my sister. “I…I’m so sorry, Charli. I shouldn’t have said what I said. It was rude and stupid. I didn’t really mean it, and I wish I could take it back.”

My sister gets an introspective look before she speaks. “What you said really kind of hurt, Chase,” she tells me with the slight hint of a frown on her lips. “You know…I’ve been called worse but never by you. Until now.”

“Crap,” I mumble and face-palm myself. “I’m such an asshole.”

Now I feel even worse about what I’d said. I want to explain how I wasn’t really in my right mind earlier. I still feel strangely ashamed that my girlfriend had cheated on me, even though I’m the one who’d been wronged. It feels like it’s somehow my fault Penny chose do to what she did.

It doesn’t make a lot of sense, but it’s how I feel so it takes a lot of effort to form my next words.

“It’s just,” I begin and then trail off with a frustrated sigh, unsure if I can continue.

Screw it. I decide to treat it like ripping off a band-aid and get it over quickly. It’ll sting to tell someone else, but I feel like I can confide in Charli. She’s never really been the judgmental type, at least not with important stuff.

“I caught Penny cheating on me this morning.”

My sister’s eyes get wide, and she says in a low and understanding tone, “Oh.”

She gets up from her seat, comes around the counter, and gives me a hug. She lays the side of her head against my chest and wraps her slender arms around my waist. Her presence is warm and comforting, and she does actually make things a little better with her affection.

“That sucks ass,” she commiserates, “I’m sorry, little brother. Women can be real bitches, huh?”

I hug her back lightly, look down, and absentmindedly observe, “Hey, you changed your hair a bit.”

“Yeah,” she says with an excited smile as she steps back. “Do you like it?”

Charli’s hair is a pretty, raven black and cut shoulder length with frosted, purple tips. It suits her, and her personality, very well. “Yeah, it’s cute,” I say and smile back.

I sense Charli has forgiven me, at least mostly.

“Now sit so I can finish cooking,” I continue.

“Sure thing,” she nods and gives me a warm smile before sitting back down at the breakfast bar. “My mouth is already watering.”

Except for the sounds of my cooking, silence descends over the kitchen for a bit. Not that I mind. I actually feel better now that I’ve told someone about my plight, and I suppose both my sister and I are tending our own thoughts at the moment.

Soon enough I finish preparing the food, slathering the pancakes with butter and syrup, and I place it in front of Charli before leaning against the counter.

“Thanks,” Charli smiles. “This looks and smells great.”

“No problem. I really am sorry, sis. Just because Penny is a bitch doesn’t give me the right to call you one. I feel like a real jerk. Like a total fucking douche.”

“Honestly, Chase,” Charli waves it away, “forget about it.”

This is just like Charli, too. Her heart is so big. It always has been.

I joke with a mobioso accent as I shake my hands, Godfather style, and say, “Don’t you mean ‘fugget about it’?”

This elicits a little giggle from my sister, and the light, airy sound brings a smile to my lips. That giggle of hers reminds me of simpler times when we were younger. We used to be so close back then, almost inseparable. The best of friends. I feel a touch maudlin at the memory of those days, and wonder how we managed to drift so far apart. What I wouldn’t give to go back to those easier days.

“So what are you gonna do?” Charli asks around a mouthful of bacon.

“Do?”

“About Penny.”

“I don’t know,” I shake my head. The only thing I’m sure of is that I’m not sure about anything. I continue, “It felt like things were going great, getting pretty serious, and then…bang! This happens.”

“Has she even called or texted you?”

“I dunno. My phone is still in the glove box of kaçak bahis my car. Not sure I even wanna check.”

If she did call or text then I’ll have to deal with telling her to fuck off, and if she didn’t then it means I don’t even rate high enough in her book for an apology or explanation or something…anything. I don’t feel like I can handle either possibility right now.

“I had a boyfriend cheat on me once,” my sister shares with me.

“For real?” I ask.

“Uh-huh.”

“What did you do?”

“Long story short, I super-glued his pecker to his stomach.”

I shudder mentally at the thought but chuckle at the same time. I can imagine Charli thinking about doing something like that, but I have a hard time believing she’d go through with it. My sister is far too gentle to do something that cruel.

“Jesus Christ, Charli! You can’t be serious.”

“As serious as tit cancer,” she smirks.

Not that cancer is funny, but I laugh even louder at that. Charli’s irreverent sense of humor always was one of her better traits as far as I’m concerned. It feels good to laugh. It’s as though some of my stress has evaporated.

“Hey,” she defends, “it’s his own fault for making me watch Reservoir Dogs.”

“Oh hell, that’s funny!” I laugh harder as I remember the dialog from that particular movie.

We giggle and guffaw for a good long time.

“I’m just kidding,” she admits finally, confirming my suspicions. “I could never do that to someone.”

“I know. I figured as much. Out of curiosity…which boyfriend was that?”

Charli gets all silent and brooding and takes a bite of her pancakes. I haven’t crossed some weird line by asking, have I? It seems like an innocent enough question.

“Rick,” she finally reveals.

I think about that name. It sounds familiar, so I throw out a guess. “Wait…isn’t that your current boyfriend?”

“Ex-boyfriend,” my sister corrects.

“Oh shit. I’m sorry.”

Charli shrugs and says, “Women are bitches and guys are dicks, right? The only people you can really count on are family.”

I give my sister a sympathetic smile and squeeze her hand lightly in my own since I know exactly what she’s going through. No wonder she forgave me so easily. She probably has the same emotions eating at her that I do.

I let go of her hand, and she asks, “Skipping today, college boy?”

“Yeah,” I sigh. “I just don’t have the heart for classes. Too afraid I’ll snap like an asshole…kind of like I did with you.”

“Oh. Then what are you planning for the day?”

“Hell, I don’t know. I feel so lost. Maybe I’ll get drunk and pass out by five.”

“You know what you need to do?” Charli asks with a mischievous grin.

“I’m afraid to guess.”

Her solution is probably going to be something along the lines of smoking a bowl. Seems like that’s her go-to solution for everything. Get stoned. I’m a little shocked at her actual suggestion.

“Record yourself fucking another girl’s brains out then send it to Penny.”

I feel my cheeks flush in mild embarrassment at my sister’s brazen suggestion. “I…Jesus, Charli,” is all I can say.

“What? Oh my god, did I just embarrass you by talking about sex?” my sister asks with genuine surprise. She laughs a little.

“No! It’s just…I…”

“I did, didn’t I?” Charli grills me as that cute little smirk of hers plays across her lips.

“Okay, yeah,” I relent. “We never really talked about that kind of thing. So I guess…I guess it’s a little embarrassing to talk about sex with my sister.”

“That’s alright. I’m just kidding,” Charli smiles with a hint of sadness in her eyes. “Just don’t give up on love, Chase. Someday…you’ll find that perfect woman. Or she’ll find you…you never know.”

“Easy for you to say. It’s not exactly like I have girls lining up to go out with me.”

“Pshh,” Charli hisses. “You’re joking, right?”

“No,” I say, though it’s hard on my ego to admit. “I’m totally nerdy, and I turn into a complete foot-in-the-mouth chicken-shit around girls. You’re a charming, beautiful woman. You can get any guy you want.”

Charli pauses for a moment as she digests my words. “You think I’m charming and beautiful?”

I blink twice. Had I said that? I guess I did. Despite what I think of as Charli’s many flaws, she’s always been pretty. Not drop-dead, supermodel gorgeous, but the girl-next-door kind of pretty. When she gives you an honest smile it brightens your world and makes you want to go “awww”.

“Well, of course I think that,” I nod.

“Thanks,” Charli says with a broad, happy smile before her look becomes inscrutable. My sister leans over the counter and plants a kiss on my cheek.

“What’s that for?” I ask as my face flushes with mild embarrassment again.

“For being sweet and genuine and actually caring about me. You’ve always cared about me. Even when you nag me like mom and dad.”

“Well, sometimes you need nagging.”

“Never mind that,” Charli grins.

She’s right, though. I only nag because I care. If I didn’t give a crap I wouldn’t say anything about her irresponsible behavior. I don’t like being critical of her life choices, but my sister has so much potential to be someone amazing.

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