Stories from the Hart: Chasing Charlie, Part 1

Chasing Charlie by Shannon Hart, author of Until the End of Forever
Part 1

“Miss? Is everything alright?”

Dan’s voice startled me.

“I can’t do it,” I answered, shaking my head. “I can’t do it, Dan. I just can’t.”

I banged the back of my head against the soft leather headrest and closed my eyes. I just couldn’t do it.

“Is there anything I can do?”

I shook my head. There was nothing, absolutely nothing that Dan, my trusted driver, could do about it even if he wanted to. “Unless you have magic powers I don’t know about, I don’t think you can do anything to help me.”

I sat in the backseat of my father’s black Rolls Royce with my arms crossed and my eyes closed, tortured by the fact that I couldn’t bring myself to get out of the car. We were parked right in front of Sal’s Diner where I asked Dan to take me.

A few hours ago, I was so sure that this is what I wanted to do. Less than 24 hours ago, Mom gave Dad a piece of her mind about meddling in my business, then hugged me and told me to go chase after what my heart desired. I got on my father’s private jet thinking I knew exactly how my life was going to play out.

As soon as we landed, I jumped straight into the backseat of the shiny car, entrusting Dan to take me to Blossom County. As the car raced to make sure we could get there before it was dark, I kept smiling to myself, thinking that before the sun came down, I’d be happy again.

I had just attended my sister’s dream wedding in Paris to her prince charming, Jean-Paul, who literally was some sort of royal descendant or something. It was a lavish wedding held at this breathtaking vineyard tucked in the middle of South of France, and was quite possibly one of the most beautiful places in the entire world. The only downside to it was that it was so far. I had to take another flight from Paris to Marseille, and then a four-hour bus ride, which had me wondering if the place even had electricity. But the place was totally worth the journey. I was undoubtedly ecstatic for my sister but at the same time, I couldn’t help but feel that pang of jealousy every time I saw Jean-Paul kiss her forehead or whisper things in her ear that made her blush and giggle like a school girl.

I wanted what she had. Not that I wanted Jean-Paul, of course – he wasn’t even my type and what kind of screwed up sister would I be if I wanted him? What I wanted was the kind of relationship she had with him. After four years of dating, two years of living together and at least five hundred fights, they seemed more in love than ever. They couldn’t take their eyes off each other – or their hands for that matter – and they seemed to really complete each other. It was like they were two pieces of a puzzle that fit each other perfectly. Kind of like how it was with me and Charlie. Well, like it was before I messed everything up, anyway.

“Miss? I think Mr. Ross is looking this way,” Dan said, startling me again, forcing me to open my eyes and look out the dark tinted windows.

He was. Charlie was looking this way. But I was sure he didn’t he realize that it was me hiding out in the black sedan like a coward.

Not that it would surprise him at all. I was always a coward throughout our entire relationship. I was such a coward, I never even told him the truth about me – about being heir to a ridiculous fortune and being worth more than Paris Hilton. What I told him when I first bumped into him at the diner was that I was just Kate Murray, a simple girl from a humble family who lived in the outskirts of LA. Never once did I mention that I was actually Katya Annabelle Cordelia Murray Livingston, daughter of Gerald Livingston, who was listed as the number four Richest Man Alive in Wealth Magazine’s annual 100 Richest Men Alive issue.

In my lame defense, I thought everyone knew who my dad was. It never occurred to me that there were people who never even touched Wealth Magazine or watched the business channel on TV. To have an entire town in California, however small it may be, not have a single clue about my identity was actually kind of refreshing.

I stumbled across Blossom County by accident. The crappy rental car I was driving broke down in front of Sal’s Diner as I was driving back from Los Angeles to San Francisco to see my old college roommate Annie, who had just given birth. Charlie helped call the company to ask for a replacement car because my cell phone died, and like a true gentleman, he actually stayed with me until they sent me a new car about two and a half hours later. It took all but ten minutes for me to fall head over heels for him. I drove down to see him every weekend, and after about two months of going back and forth, I moved to Blossom County, telling my parents that I invested in a small business there.

My cowardly behavior had cost me my relationship. Charlie, who could never say a bad a thing about anyone, never actually used the word coward, but he did think I was a pathological liar. I couldn’t say I blamed him. I did lie the entire year that we were dating. I pretended to be poor and I pretended to need the job at his grandfather’s diner. I pretended to understand what it was like for him to have to sweat and bleed to earn a decent amount of money just to pay off his rent and the loan he took to buy his truck.

I would admit I lied, but I couldn't say I didn’t love pretending to be someone else. We lived a simple life together and I actually loved it. Our dinner dates consisted of eating hot dogs and drinking beer on a blanket at the park and I never once felt like I missed sitting at the VIP table in the best restaurants in town. Even when we had to take his beat-up old truck on a road trip to his cousin’s graduation in Reno, I didn’t miss Daddy’s private jet even for a second. Just spending all that time sitting next to him in the car and watching him drive made it all worth it.

“Miss? He’s leaving the diner now,” Dan said, playing his part as the spy very well.

I sat up straight immediately and felt my heart start to race. Maybe he did know that I was hiding out in the car. Maybe he wanted to come over and tell me to get lost and never bother him again much like he did the day he found out who I really was six weeks ago. 

Check back for Part 2 of Chasing Charlie on Wednesday! 

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