Southern Fried Honeybee Ch 21

Chapter 21

            Charlie eyes opened wide. A phone was ringing. She felt the bed shake as Trace sat up and reached for his phone before leaving the room to take the call. The memories from the night before rolled through her head. Charlie didn’t regret a thing. Last night was everything and more than she expected and wanted.

            Yes, they’d complicated things, but it was a complication that Charlie didn’t mind. Smiling, she listened as Trace came back into the room. A second later she heard the shower running.

            It was back to the real world; she just didn’t know which world it would end up being. Would it be the one where she was the master of her domain or where she had to walk on eggshells?

            Charlie wasn’t sure which she wanted, but she intended to have an answer by the end of the day.

##

            “Take the next left,” Trace said. It was one of the few times he’d talked since they’d left the bedroom. She didn’t know what was wrong, but his entire demeanor had changed since the phone call. She wanted to know what had happened, but for once in her life, Charlie decided not to push.

            She concentrated on driving as she sped through the city streets. Despite the storm last night, the water had already evaporated under the bright sun high in the sky leaving it feeling even more muggy than usual as they made their way to Trace’s Treats.

            They were both quiet the entire way. If he wanted to play it cool, Charlie could do that. If it was just a one-night stand, that was fine with her. She’d gotten what she wanted and Charlie knew he had too.

            Still she couldn’t help the disappointment she felt in her chest every time she looked at him, or thought about last night. Charlie hated this. She hated being- that girl. Maybe it was because it had been so long, or maybe it was because she actually had started liking him, but this, whatever it was, was really messing with her head. She didn’t like it.

            Charlie had never overstayed her welcome. In fact, she’d always been the one to end things. However, this wasn’t like that. Trace never said he wanted a relationship with her, but he didn’t say he hadn’t wanted one either. He hadn’t said anything. It was as if last night hadn’t happened. Charlie drove through the streets and the closer they got to his shop the madder she got.

            It would be one thing if he’d said he wasn’t into her, or sorry this wasn’t the best of ideas, but to just act like nothing.

            “Aw, hell no,” Charlie said turning the wheel and then slamming on the brakes. She parked the car on the side of the road and jumped out.

            “What the hell is wrong with you?” Trace said slamming his car door.

            “No, what the hell is wrong with you?” Charlie yelled back at him. Trace took off his shades to glare at her.

            “What is this? All of sudden you’re too cool to talk. Is this how you do? You fuck them then forget them?” Trace looked at Charlie strangely as if he couldn’t understand what she was saying.

            “Well,” Charlie said when he didn’t speak. She wanted to smack him, but the idea of looking even more crazier than she felt made her refrain from doing so. “I said, well!”

            Trace’s eyes bugged out his head, and then a split second later he burst out laughing harder than Charlie had ever heard anyone laugh in her life. He was like really laughing- hands slapping his belly laughing. She wanted to shake him, to scream at him, and then, God help her, she wanted to take him back to bed and repeat last night all over again.

            “What is wrong with you?” Charlie yelled finally giving in and punching him in his shoulder several times until he grabbed both her hands to restrain her. She heard a car slow as it passed them, but Trace waved them on after releasing her.

            “Just calm down,” he said laughing until he saw the look on Charlie’s face. He took a step back rubbing one hand over his face. Charlie didn’t stop herself this time and punched him again. She would have tried to strangle him, but by then he was kissing her and her mind decided that was much nicer.

            “You really are something, aren’t you?”

            “And you’re an idiot,” Charlie gasped. They both stared at each other for several seconds as they both caught their breaths. The lion and the lioness checking each other for signs of weakness. Finally, he pulled away to lean against the car.

            “This isn’t going to work,” he said. “You know it and I know it.” Charlie took a step back. His eyes never left her face. Finally, Charlie nodded. She suspected they had different reasons but he was right, this wouldn’t work. Still, Charlie wasn’t ready for it to end, and his next words told her he wasn’t either.

            “You understand I’m keeping my shop,” he said.

            “Like I care,” Charlie said and he smiled.

            “Actually, I’m really good at what I do,” he said suddenly serious. Charlie knew he was telling the truth, but it didn’t matter to her.

            “We could just keep it quiet. Is that what you’re saying?” He shrugged.

            She could tell he didn’t like the idea. It was because at heart he really was a good guy. Charlie wasn’t used to good guys, but she couldn’t help wanting to get to know him. It was stupid and complicated, but she was tired of playing it safe.

            “You know there are worse things,” Charlie said leaning next to him on the car. “It really doesn’t have to be bad. You call me? you call me. If I call you? I call you. We can keep it really simple,” Charlie said.

            Trace looked at her for a second both eyebrows raised as he considered her words. Then a small smile crept on his face.

            “So, I guess the pizza was good last night,” he said.

            “Terrible,” Charlie smiled wrapping her arms around him for a long hug.

            “Tonight,” he said, “we’ll do Chinese.”

            “Ooh, now you’re talking,” she said. He let go of her then they both went back to the car to make the rest of the drive to his shop. Trace kissed her goodbye before heading to get ready for his morning crew.

            It was still early, so Charlie made her way back to her house. After last night she was still sleepy. Smiling she drove across the Back Bay bridge, feeling like the most satisfied woman in the world. She didn’t know what was going to come of this, but she decided for the first time in her life to just enjoy the ride.

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