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Authors: J.D. Lowrance

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BOOK: Caged In
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CHAPTER TWELVE

 

Charlie

How stupid can one person be? I was
an idiot. A stupid, fucking idiot for believing anything could be different.
Cage was in his glory as women pawed at him and drugs were shoved in his face,
hell, up his nose. My heart hurt, like someone just ripped it out and
stomped-on-it-kind of hurt. Blackness crept around the corners of my eyes and I
realized I was not breathing. I gulped air as I staggered down the hallway.


Where are you going?

Locke
asked as I pushed past him and out the front door.


I just need to get the fuck out of here. Fuck. Fuck.
Fuck,

I yelled as a panic started to set
in. Cage drove so I did not have a way out of this hellhole.
Shit.
What
was I going to do? I turned back and saw Locke standing in the entryway.

Did you drive?


Aye, but lashed a little too hard to be drivin

ya anywhere.

Locke did look a little
intoxicated as he made his way over to me.


Then can I borrow your keys? I just need to get to
Nate

s. Cage knows where he lives and
you can get your car later or tomorrow or something.


Why are you in such a rush?


I just need some space to think. Please Locke. Please,

I begged, my hands together. Knuckles white as I
pleaded with everything in me.


Fine,

he gritted through clenched
teeth.

Cage is gonna lamp me for this one.

I had a good idea it meant lame or maim or maybe even
kill, but did not care as long as he gave me his keys.

It

s the red one,

he pointed out.


Bye Locke,

I whispered, thinking this
might be the last time I ever saw in person as I turned and ran towards the
bright red Porsche that was thankfully parked on the street and not blocked in.
I got in and started the car, again thankful to that rat bastard Cage that he
taught me how to drive stick. As I pulled out, Cage was running out the front
door and across the lawn in an attempt to stop me. Over the roar of the engine,
I heard him scream for me to stop. There might have even been an

I love you.

Well I loved him too, but that did
not change the fact that he was still him and it seemed nothing got between him
and his drugs. I felt hollowed out and empty as I made my way to the highway.
How could he do this to me? Why was I so dense? Shame at being so stupid and a
profound ache settled deep within me. God I loved him, so much . . . so very,
very much. How he could he do this? Tears ran down my cheeks as I sobbed.

I should not have been driving, but
I needed to get to Nate

s house.
SHIT.
Locke would tell
Cage I was headed there. What to do? What to do? A plan started to form and
instead of talking the highway south towards Nate

s,
I took it North towards the airport. Finding my phone in my purse, I dialed my
agent knowing from experience that work was the only way to get through this.
Fake
it until you make it.

After one ring, Jenn

s voice came through.

I
got a job in Boca Raton, Paris, or Milan. All asked for you, but I told them
you were taking time off. I am sure any would drop whoever they picked up for
you.

I loved that about Jenn. No
bullshit, no small talk. Just business. She knew enough about me to know I only
called when I wanted a job or out of wherever I was.


Whichever I can get to the quickest,

I said as a horn honked at me as I swerved into the
other lane. My heart drummed in my chest and I flicked off the other driver and
picked up even more speed.


Boca Raton it is. When can you get there?

Another horn, another middle finger salute.


Heading to the airport now.


Don

t need to. You can just drive there
from Miami.


I can?


Yep, I will text the info.


Make it TONIGHT. I want out of Miami.


Are you sure? It is already nine there. Plus you sound
really upset. Should you be driving?


I

m fine. Just send me the
directions,

I demanded. I was her easiest
client, never asking for anything so she knew I meant business.


Consider it done.

And it was. Within minutes I got a
text with the directions. A little over an hour and I would be there. Another
text said that she was waiting to hear back from the Boca Raton photographer,
and that I needed to call her when I got into town. A third text was my hotel
information.

My next call would be the hardest,
but Nate needed to know I was okay. He picked up on the first ring as well.


Hey,

I said.


Where are you?

Nate

s voice was laced with concern.


Driving up 95 to a job in Boca.


Come back,

Nate urged,

please Charlie. Cage just showed up and he is beside
himself. You need to talk to him.


I can

t Nate.

I started to cry again.

What
I saw can

t be unseen. He wants that life
more than he wants me.


I don

t know girlie girl.

His nickname for me, earning a small smile even though
he could not see it.


I just need time.


No. What you need is to stop running away. Sometimes
you need to stay and fight for the things you want.


I will when something is worth fighting for,

I countered.


I think you are wrong on this one. I think you need to
hear his side.


Why? So I can get sucked back into believing we have a
chance.

My voice got higher with each
word. 

I can

t
do this again,

I wailed.


Charlie.

Cage

s voice silenced me.

Please
don

t go Charlie.


Cage?


I

m at Nate

s. I explained everything to him.

I did not want to hear anything he had to say.


Put Nate on,

I demanded.


No.

He said it so
matter-of-factly.


Yes. Damn it.


He wouldn

t have given me the phone if he
thought I wronged you.

Cage did have a point there.

Nate would break me in two if he thought I hurt you.
Hell, I got the shiner to prove it.

I gasped.

He hit you?


As soon as he opened the door and you weren

t with me. Charlie, please come back.

I did not respond. Mostly because I
did not know what to say. I just needed time.

I
just need time Cage. This, you . . . it is a lot to handle and then add your
band, the tour . . . hell . . . your past, and I just think there is too much
to add an us to the mix.


NO! Charlie you are wrong. It

s you. The band and everything else can go to hell in
a hand basket. If I have you  . . .

His voice trailed off. 

Just please come back so we can talk. I can explain. I
can make this right.

Cage waited patiently for me. Mile
after mile passed as I drove further and further away from him, and the mistake
I made in being with him again. Time may not have healed my wound, but at least
it scabbed over enough that I could live my life. Now, that old wound was torn
open, bleeding and festering beyond anything I knew how to patch up. So I
relied on what I had done in the past to get over things. I tucked these
feelings away, put on a brave face.
Fake it until you make it.


Good-bye Cage.

Then I cut off his argument as I
hung up the phone and turned it off.

 

Cage

Charlie

s last words were on repeat as I stared at Nate

s phone. A hand on my shoulder brought me out of my
living nightmare. I was at a complete loss as to what to do.

What just happened?

I
swore not even an hour ago I was forming a plan to get Charlie on tour with me
and now she was telling me good-bye, as if those words provided the explanation
I needed on why this was happening. I messed up. I get that. But damn it. Why
wasn

t she willing to give me five
minutes to explain?


You need to go after her.

Nate informed me.


What? She is the one who ran away. She is the one who
won

t give me a chance to explain. I
was going to ask her to come on tour with me. To really be with me. And she won

t even talk to me. She won

t even listen.


Then make her,

pushed Nate.


Like it is that easy. I don

t even know where she is going.


Boca Raton.

What?


That

s only an hour from here.

A small flicker of hope ignited within me.


I know. She jumped on a job like she always does when
she wants space or someone gets too close. Charlie has been doing that ever
since she came to live with my family. Keeping everyone at arms

length.


She doesn

t keep you there.

A sudden bout of jealousy roared its ugly head at Nate

s relationship with Charlie.


Because I don

t let her. I make her acknowledge
me and how she feels for me. It took a while, but eventually it became second
nature. You left. Her mother OD

ed the summer before we went to
college. Everyone leaves her, so now she leaves first.


Her mother died?


Yeah. The only people at her burial were Charlie, my
mom and dad, and me. No one else cared. She left the next day for USC, claiming
summer classes, but it was really just her running away. When I get too close,
she jumps on a plane to another job. My parents have her home for a holiday,
within a few days she is back on a plane. Charlie is running scared right now.


Why are you telling me this?


Because you are it for her man. I have never seen
Charlie as alive and open and just happy as I saw her today. You did that man.
You gave her what she needed to be that.

I nodded, because that was
how Charlie made me feel. I could only hope I did the same for her.

And you man. I don

t
know you very well at all, but when you look at Charlie you are a different man.

BOOK: Caged In
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