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Conviction(7)

By:Amanda Lance



I had experienced many events and conversations with Ben Walden, though they were always through Charlie, and seeing him in person again was intimidating, even if he was imitating a helicopter.

He opened his mouth to speak but was interrupted by Polo, whose arms were overflowing with cushions and pillows. “Hey, Addie!”

I waved again. “Hi, Polo.”

Polo tried to wave and dropped all of the merchandise in his hands. Visibly frustrated, Reid sighed and smacked him upside the head before kicking one of the pillows. Polo chuckled and hurriedly picked everything up, tripping over himself to follow Reid into the next room.

“That boy is so easily distracted. I’m not entirely sure if Polo should be allowed to drive that thing out there…” Ben trailed off

I remembered the outrageous sports cars in the driveway and almost choked. “One of those is Polo’s?”

Ben locked eyes with me and nodded very seriously. “Yes, the Aston Martin. The boys play ‘hide the keys’ from him, though fortunately he doesn’t show much interest in driving, anyway.

From somewhere close by, the sound of glass shattering echoed in our ears.

“Sorry, Elise!”

Ben and I both cringed.

“So, um, you were telling me how your holidays were?”

Within the architecture of Ben and Elise’s house there were three complete wings. The central house contained their massive kitchen, living room, dining room, three bedrooms, and two bathrooms. This was the only portion of the house that I had been exposed to up until this point, and since my first and only visit had been so brief—little time had been left for exploring or curiosity.

Charlie had explained to me later that the attached west and east wings were identical and fixed with hallways and big empty rooms that never had anything in them. There were two bathrooms in each wing, and in the east wing a large study that was used as a sort of library. Elise pointed me to a staircase I had never seen before and apologized she couldn’t show me herself. She then went back to yelling at some poor florist on the phone and reconfirming her guest list.

“Leave your bag here!” she scolded me. “Make Charlie get it later.”

His name bounced around in my head like one of those balls from the machines that children beg their parents spare change over. To think he was so close and I could finally have him full-time! As soon as I thought the group was out of sight, I took the steps two at a time—not caring when I tripped over my sneakers and hit my shins.

At the top of the stairs I could see the finer points of Elise’s decorating skills. The west wing was far bolder than the main house, which was open and simple. Up here, the walls were painted burgundy in a fine glossy hue. Instantly, I was tempted to remove my shoes and feel what looked like some intensely lush ebony carpet beneath my feet, but decided I could indulge later. At the ceiling’s centers there were old world chandelier pendants—they had the same ebony tint as the carpet below, giving off a low lighting so that one could see the silver frames that held the occasional picture of Tyler on the walls.

The hall felt like it went on forever. With doors on both sides, I began to think I should have asked a little more specifically where Charlie was. I knocked on the first door but there was no answer. The second door on the same side was open and completely empty except for a few plastic boxes and what looked like some old furniture. I started on the other side but the results were the same.

Just as my anxiety was getting ready to set in, I heard one of those unique Southern profanities I had openly come to adore.

“Dag nab it!”

I contained my glee and followed the trail to a larger room towards the end of the hall. Before I even looked inside I could smell fresh paint and the scent of wood shavings but it didn’t concern me enough to take much notice—I only had focus on one thing.

“Charlie?”

He rose from his spot in the corner, kneeling very close to the wall with his back to me. He moved as though the world were ending, running to the doorway to sweep me up in his arms and back into the hallway. Our lips were back together again like they had never been apart—my knees became useless.

“When did you get here?” he demanded.

“Wh-huh?”

He laughed and pulled me close to him. “They were supposed to call me when you got here.”

I turned to mush in his arms. “Everyone is a little busy right now.” I could hear his heart beating slightly faster than usual, as always it made mine beat more quickly as well..

“Uh yeah, ‘bout that…there’s this party tomorrow.”

“Gee, no kidding?”

“I didn’t tell you ’cause you wouldn’t have come.”

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