Happy Thanksgiving to the US folks. On Monday Last Hit will be at your favorite retailers. Keep your eyes here for the buy links
Charlotte Chronicles VI
I wait until Nick is done with the last rep of his leg extensions. “What was that all about with Charlotte today?”
Nick shoots me a look but says nothing. Ignoring me, he climbs off the machine and wipes it down before heading for the free weights. I follow. “If you’ve got something up your ass, just spit it out instead of stewing about it.”
“What do you care?” He picks up a twenty five pound barbell and starts doing bicep curls. When I pick up the thirty pound weights, Nick just rolls his eyes.
“Seriously? You’re giving me crap over the fact I can lift more than you?”
“Whatever,” he mumbles.
I set the barbells onto the rack and pull Nick on the shoulder so he will stop and talk to me. “Nick, what’s wrong?”
For a moment, I think he might shrug me off. Then he releases a huge sigh and places his weights next to mine. Leaning down, he picks up his discarded towel and walks over to the water cooler. I trail behind waiting impatiently for him to spill it.
Either intentionally or because he isn’t sure what he wants to say, Nick makes me wait until he’s drained two glasses of water. When he starts peeling a banana, I lunge for him. He starts laughing, the little fucker, and dances away. “I wondered how long you’d wait.”
“Fuck you.” I laugh. Nick and I can never stay mad at each other for long.
“Uh oh, you owe me five or I tell Mom.” Mom hates hearing us cuss and makes us put five dollars in a jar that we then donate to the Widows and Orphans Charity. Dad fills it up about once a month.
“Yeah? And how are you going to explain all the porn tumblrs you’ve been looking up on your computer? I screenshotted your history FYI.” I haven’t but Nick doesn’t know that. His quick temper flares again and I think he might try to force feed me the banana. “Just kidding.” I back away holding up my hands in surrender.
Nick’s face grows serious. “You know they are thinking of shipping Charlotte to Sweden, right?”
That stops me in my tracks. I am glad I am near a weight bench because the thought of Charlotte being moved out of the country leaves me more winded than my hour long workout. “When did you hear that?”
“Charlotte told me yesterday.”
“And you’re just tell me now?” I yell at Nick.
“Volume, please.” Nick jiggles his ear.
“Sorry.” I reply curtly but I’m not sorry at all. This was vital information. “Why didn’t you tell me yesterday.” What are Aunt AM and Uncle Bo thinking? Charlotte needs to be with me, us. Here where her family and friends are, not in some strange country with people who don’t know her.
“Where’d you go the night Charlotte had her tumor out?” Nick asks in an abrupt change of subject.
Caught off guard, I stammer, “Uh here. The gym.”
“Really? Cuz when we got the call that Charlotte was out of surgery, I came down here to the gym and then down to the common one on the sixth floor. You weren’t in either one.” Nick doesn’t look at me but I know what I’d see in his eyes. Disappointment. Suddenly I feel angry at Dad for ratting me out. Surging to my feet, I start for the door. Nick stops me. “I saw Madeline yesterday in the lobby. She asked about you. Where you’ve been. How come she hasn’t seen you. I told her you were at the hospital with Charlotte. She asked me if that was where you’d taken off in such a rush the other night.”
“Goddammit.” I lean my head against the glass door of the gym. “What’d you say to her?”
“I told her it wasn’t any of her goddamned business where you went and what you did.” Nick bites out.
“Did you really?” This time I do turn to look at him. Dad had always taught us to be respectful to women and I just couldn’t see Nick saying that. Even to Madeline.
Nick looks down at his feet and shakes his head. “No, but I wanted to. I just said that Charlotte was our number one priority now.”
“Did you say anything to Charlotte?” That was the most important question. I hold my breath as Nate answered.
The sheer relief at his response made me weak. “Thanks.” It’s inadequate but heartfelt. I push away from the door and gesture for Nick to follow me to the condo. He doesn’t get up and worry is all over his face. “I think Aunt AM knows, though, because after Charlotte told me I hung around outside the room when Mom came. She and Aunt AM were talking about this new clinic in Sweden and Aunt AM said it’d be good to get Charlotte away from us for a while.”
“What’d Mom say.”
“I couldn’t hear. They moved away from the door.”
“Fuck.” I curse and this time Nick doesn’t threaten to tell Mom. “So you think Aunt AM knows about Madeline and wants to move Charlotte away because of that?”
Nick spreads his hands. “Why else?”
I can think of a thousand reasons but instead of enumerating them, I run upstairs to Dad’s library and burst in. He’s on the phone and unhappy at the unannounced interruption. He gestures for me to sit down but then notices I’m in my workout clothes. Muting the phone, he barks at me. “Don’t sit on my leather chairs until you’ve showered.”
I stand because I’m not leaving to shower or eat or shit or anything until I find out what’s going on.
Want more Charlotte? Sign up for the newsletter and you’ll get the Charlotte Chronicles delivered to your inbox a week early! The next installment is due tomorrow morning.