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“How about the beginning?” she suggests.

“I, uh, started seeing a guy and …”

“Brody, from Knox Tavern?” she interrupts.

Biting my lip, I ask her, “How did you know that?”

“One day he called here and raised hell about him taking you out and that Mike had to tell you it was okay. So I just assumed…”

“Yep, that’s him. He’ pretty bossy and possessive,” I assure her.

“He sounds hot.” She giggles and then covers her mouth to stifle it.

I nod at her. He definitely is that. “Well, he wants me… to be his.”

Her eyebrows come together in confusion. “His? Like his booty call, his girlfriend, wife, what does that mean?”

“His… I don’t know… his – forever,” I stutter out and then lay my head down on the desk.

“I don’t get it. What’s the problem? A lot of men are looking for one night – and he is telling you he wants forever?”

At my nod to let her know she understands correctly, she asks, “And you don’t like him?”

“No, I do like him. I like him a lot.” I smile thinking about him last night, how patient and unselfish he was.

“So what’s the problem?” At this point, Carrie is exasperated.

“Knock, knock,” Mike calls out and opens my office door. “Everything okay in here?” He looks between Carrie and me.

“Yes, yes, everything is fine,” I assure him. “What can I do for you?”

He’s looking at Carrie and her face blushes a bright red. When he looks over at me, he says, “Just a reminder we are meeting with the new clients in ten. See you in the conference room. Bye, Carrie,” he says before walking out and shutting the door behind him.

Carrie keeps looking at the door and her face is even more flushed than it was before.

“You like him!” I accuse her.

Alarmed, she looks back at me. “What? No – uh – what does it matter? I’ve liked him forever and he’s never noticed me. I’m not exactly his type.” She gestures down her body.

I take a good look at Carrie and I want to ask her why she dresses the way she does. I think she’s great, she’s funny and beautiful. She could get Mike if she tried. But she wears clothes that are three sizes too big for her, she never wears makeup and her long red hair is always up in a bun. If she put in a little effort, I’m sure Mike would notice her. Any man would.

“Anyway, we are not talking about me. What’s the problem? You like Brody. He likes you,” she asks, changing the subject.

“I don’t do relationships. I can’t – with my past – I just don’t want to depend on someone else,” I mutter.

“I get it. I do. Relationships are scary. And unpredictable. We’ve all been hurt and you don’t want to put yourself out there. But, Charlie, if he loves you and you love him, you have to trust him.”

I keep shaking my head the longer she talks. Just the thought of it, giving my heart to someone, freaks me out.

“Okay, okay,” she says, holding her hands out in front of her. “Can you picture the rest of your like without him in it?”

I shrug my shoulders.

“Can you imagine never speaking to him again? Not seeing him?” she asks me.

I hesitate. I can’t even lift my shoulders to shrug this time because I’m picturing a world where he’s not it. I fall back in my chair, thinking about what she said.

She gets up and with one hand on the door, she stops and turns around. “Men like him don’t come around every day. If you feel about him like I think you do, then don’t give up on him. More importantly, don’t give up on yourself.”

When she walks out the door, I sit here thinking, wondering if it can be as easy as she suggests. Can I make a decision to just let it happen? Lost in thought, I startle when my phone dings, reminding me of my meeting.

Brody

Tonight is the opening of my new restaurant and all I can think about is Charlie. She’s avoiding me. No doubt about it. I’ve sent her flowers and candy. I’ve tried texting her and calling her with no response. I’ve tried tracking her down, but it’s almost like she’s disappeared. I texted Johnny, one of the men over at Alpha Security, three days ago and he said she’s fine. I even called Carrie, the secretary, today to try and check in on her and she said to just give her time, she’ll come around.

I do know that she’s reading my texts. They all say they’ve been read. So I don’t give up. It’s been a week. But it feels like it’s been forever. I scroll through my texts from the last seven days.

I can’t get anything done. All I do is think of you, I sent the first day.

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