Still You Want Me Ch. 10


Here’s the second to last chapter.

Read it. Savor it. Be overly emotional because of it. Take the rest of the day off, you deserve it.

LaRascasse, Oldnakeddad, and Kelsadia: Yes, it takes a village to make me look like the capable writer you all think I am. #illusionshattered


* * COLIN * *

I’m standing in front of the mirror and trying to finish getting ready for dinner. It’s not any dinner, it’s the Meet the Parents dinner. Charlie doesn’t seem nervous at all, in fact, he’s so beside himself with excitement, he can’t hold still for more than a few seconds. One second, he’s sitting on the bed, then he’s standing next to me, then he’s pacing around the room, sitting, standing, pacing, and so on repeats the loop. The only thing that doesn’t change is the giant grin on his face.

“Stop smiling! It’s making me nervous.”

I don’t know why he’s so happy. I’m almost positive his parents will be disappointed with me, but I’m not about to tell him that. Honestly, I think he enjoys watching me squirm. He knows I’m nervous and I think the whole thing amuses him.

“They’ll love you because I love you! Also, you’re Stanley Clarke’s son, so there’s that.”

That’s one of the things I’m nervous about. I don’t want them to like me because I’m Stanley Clarke’s son. I want them to see me as Colin, Charles’ boyfriend.

Charlie wraps his arms around my waist, presses his cheek to mine, and looks at our reflection in the mirror.

We look good together. Well, he looks good. Fuck, he looks amazing! I on the other hand look kind of geeky. I catch Charlie’s eyes in the mirror and he says.

“You know, I’ve never had a boyfriend to introduce to my parents before. You get to set the bar.”

He lightly kisses my cheek. He’s so sweet and calming.

Okay. I think I can do this.

“I know, but it feels like a lot to handle. You were lucky because you already knew my parents so the pressure wasn’t there for you.”

I hold his hands over my stomach, not allowing him to let go. I need his embrace to anchor me. He looks at me as if I’m insane, which is probably more accurate than I want to admit.

“You can’t be serious. I knew your parents on a social level and I doubt I came off as someone they’d want their perfect son to be with. They knew I was a playboy and I was focused on all of the wrong things. I was terrified they’d be unhappy about us dating. In my head, I knew they’d think I wasn’t good enough for you.”

I can see the trepidation on his face.

“To be honest, I still don’t feel like they approve of me. I’m nervous to see them tonight, even though dinner, a few weeks ago, was great. Let’s face it, my past isn’t pristine and I feel as though I need to constantly prove my self-worth to you and your parents.”

I turn around in his arms so I can see him in person instead of his reflection. Here’s the thing about Charlie—not only is he ridiculously attractive, but there’s something about his beautiful face that magnifies his emotions tenfold.

When he’s happy, he could light a small village. He positively glows. From his singular dimple to the way his blonde hair highlights his masculine jaw, he radiates happiness and joy. When we’re in bed! Well, damn, he can power a city with his looks! His laugh? Oh, man! I love to make him laugh and I love the way he makes me feel.

But not now. When Charlie’s sad—well, I’d move mountains to turn his frown upside down. I cup his face so we’re only inches apart.

“Look at me.”

His sad, blue eyes hesitantly meet mine and his insecurities are bubbling to the surface. It’s hard for me to think of Charlie as a person who has a single sliver of insecurity, but selfishly, I’m glad he does because it makes me feel less of a loser.

“Charlie, your past is in the past and I’m not dwelling on it. I’m quite fond of the guy standing in front of me. We’re still learning about each other, but we’re getting there! I don’t want you to prove anything, I only want you to be authentic. Please, don’t be someone you think I or my parents might want you to be. Be the person you want to be. That’ll make everyone happy.”

I finish straightening his jacket and kiss him while trying to convey something I haven’t yet communicated…love!

Charlie tightens his fingers around my waist and looks deep into my eyes.

“Well, it looks as though we’re both nervous about dinner.”

Something flashes in Charlie the predator’s eyes.

“The only people we need to impress is each other.”

He covers my mouth with his and pushes me against the wall as all of his needs are coming through loud and clear.

He needs me.

I allow him to dominate me for a minute. Well, I don’t have much of a choice since Charlie’s incredibly difficult to say no to, not that I usually want to or try to.

We don’t really need to go to dinner.

I love the way Charlie feels under my fingers, how I feel under his, and Betturkey the way our bodies feel while pressed together. I finally find the willpower to push him off and it’s not as hard as I’d expected. The looming knowledge that I’m meeting his parents cools Junior down pretty quickly.

“We have to leave. I don’t want to get all riled up before meeting your parents. I’m already nervous as fuck. Don’t make it worse.”

I punch his shoulder and walk away.

“Ouch! What the heck? I was only kissing my boyfriend. It was totally innocent.”

Innocent my ass!

I flip him the bird on my way out.

* * *

Mike says.

“I think this is exciting! You guys will be royalty and, together, you’ll easily create an empire.”

I can see the happy visions of the future dancing in his eyes—his son at the head of a billion dollar company. Imagine all of the attention and praise he’ll get.

I’ll bet all of this hypothetical success has given him a solid chub. He might even be half-mast, which makes me think of Charlie because Mike is a fifty-two-year-old version of Charles. He’s the spitting image.

The fact I’m thinking about boning Charlie in twenty-five years has nothing to do with my not knowing how to respond to Mike’s comment. This whole conversation is the reason I didn’t want to date someone from a similar background so I try to downplay his dreams of grandeur.

“Oh, I don’t know about that. I don’t know if I’ll be running the company or if we’ll have the same visions for the future.”

“Nonsense. You’ll take over ClarkeCo and there are lots of ways to expand. I can’t wait to start working together.”

I’m meeting him for the first time and I feel as if he’s trying to strong arm the relationship to favor him. I want Charles to step in and stand in solidarity with me so I look at him, but he only smiles, as a good son does, and stays outside of the conversation. Dad interjects.

“Who knows what the company will look like when, and if, Colin takes over. His passions and visions are a lot different than mine. He doesn’t want to grow up and out. He’d prefer to fine tune or even downsize so he can focus everything on specific areas of his passion, such as helping small businesses and startups.”

That’s my dad for you. He builds a Fortune 500 company and has no qualms about what happens to it once he retires. Everything is temporary in his mind. He’s had a fun run in the business and made billions. If the company goes under tomorrow, he’d only be sad about the loss of jobs and not being able to help other people realize their dreams.

“I, for one, would love to see where Colin decides to take this company, if that’s what it comes down to. He has potential to completely reinvent what ClarkeCo is known for.”

Dad winks at me, conveying so much love and support. I know he always has my back.

“I don’t understand why you’d want to change something as big as ClarkeCo. Like I said, there are things to do that will streamline the company and make it more profitable, but to reinvent it? Why would you want to potentially damage the golden calf?”

Mike straightens his place setting, which is a clear sign of frustration. Charlie fidgets when he’s angry, too.

“A company isn’t only about money, it’s a product of your heart and soul. Dad started the company from a passion he had. If I ever take over, I want to run a company that’s fulfilling a passion I have.”

None of this is really any of his business anyway. If things work out with Charlie and me, the company won’t be Mike’s!

I’m growing more frustrated as the night continues. I wanted to meet my boyfriend’s parents, not come to a business meeting! Especially for a business that isn’t mine.

I have no control over ClarkeCo. I’m an associate in the marketing department. I’m nobody. He’s talking about hypothetical situations and then getting frustrated because I’m not living in his future.

“We’ll agree to disagree…for now. Tomorrow, during lunch, I’d like to discuss partnering options and also some very good potential investments.”

“I’m sorry. I didn’t know there were lunch plans tomorrow. I already have plans.”

I look at Charlie to try to figure out if I missed something? He only shrugs, but I’m not surprised as I’ll bet he follows daddy around like a puppy. He probably let’s him schedule his life anyway dad sees fit. Isn’t that why he works? Because he has to keep daddy happy? Mike’s not leaving room for negotiations.

“I’m sure you can rearrange your plans to make yourself available.”

I feel like I’m walking a fine line between punching him and trying to make him like me. I’m not sure which one I want to do more but I’m leaning towards the punching.

“Sure, it’s a possibility, but I’m not going to do it. I’m sorry, Mr. Gabett, I currently have no stake in ClarkeCo and I’m not interested in talking business on behalf of my dad. You should have lunch with him.”

I Betturkey Giriş bite the inside of my cheek. I’m starting to feel like the seventeen-year-old version of myself—unconfident and nothing more than a stepping stool for another’s personal gain.

“I don’t intend to talk about ClarkeCo tomorrow, I have more personal things I want to discuss—”

Okay. Finally! I want to get to know him personally. A weight is lifted from my shoulders and I realize I may have misjudged him. I’m about to tell him I’ll rearrange my day when he speaks.

“I know you have significant personal wealth.”

What the fuck! Did Charles tell him? I’m so fucking pissed! My personal information isn’t casual dinner conversation! Damnit! I can feel my insides starting to boil.

“I’m worried you’re not investing and growing your money to its fullest potential, I’d like-”

Oh, hell no! I refuse to let this continue. I put my hand up and stop him.

“I’m going to cut you off there.”

I get up and ready myself to leave.

“I’m sorry, but I’m not going to discuss my personal finances with you or anyone else. I came to dinner to meet my boyfriend’s parents. I’m not going to talk shop, future mergers, or anything business related.”

I look at Charlie to see if he’s coming or staying. I don’t care, either way, I just want to leave, but he follows my lead and says goodbye to his parents. I almost forgot his mother is here. She’s been mostly mute all evening because she hasn’t been given a chance to speak.

I walk to my parents, give them both a hug and my mother asks.

“Are we still on for dinner tomorrow?”

I lean in and whisper.

“Is it only us?”

She assures me it is and we leave our parents in the restaurant to finish the evening together.

* * *

As he opens the passenger door for me, Charles says with a smile.

“My dad likes you!”

I wait for him to walk around and get in the other side before I grit my teeth and try not to speak too negatively about his dad.

“You mean he likes my money and my family. Honestly, I haven’t felt so insulted in years. This was the most humiliating evening of my life!”

“What are you talking about? I thought everything went great.”

He puts the key into the ignition, but doesn’t start the car. Instead, he turns and looks at me. My stomach feels tight. It hurts that, after all of these months, he doesn’t know me.

“Really, Charles? I don’t know how to respond. Do you think I wanted to meet your dad so we could talk about business, investments, and empire expansions?”

There was no hiding the hurt in my eyes.

“Of course not, but that’s normal life with my dad. I guess I assumed you’d expected it.”

Charlie’s face drops. He was so happy when we got into the car and now he’s full of regret and remorse. We sit in silence as Charlie starts the car and leaves the parking lot.

My emotions are mixed. I’m angry, upset, frustrated, and hurt. Dinner blindsided me in a way I wasn’t prepared for.

“I’m so sorry, Colin. I became lost in what’s normal for me. I should’ve stopped my dad at the beginning. I should’ve said something. This is going to take time for me to get used to, but I’m working on it.”

I don’t respond right away. I don’t want to say anything irrational because I’m upset, but I feel myself losing the battle.

“I know. I hate the feeling of your dad being happy we’re together because of money and business. He wants us to be a legacy and I worry that’s how you may feel, also.”

“You don’t have to worry about that. I fell in love with you before that part of your life was known. I don’t care about any of that.”

Charles is nervously drumming his fingers on the steering wheel. He’s trying to coax something out or, maybe, keep something in.

“Colin, I need you to remember something. I respect you and your desire to reject this social norm, but this is the life I’m used to and I don’t hate it like you do. I’m not asking you to take part in it, but it is part of my life, too. I’m going to socialize, use connections, and work mutually beneficial relationships. Sometimes, you make me feel really crappy about it. You make me feel like a terrible person.”

I take a deep breath. I know he has a valid point.

“No, you’re right. I’ve probably pushed my expectations onto you. I’ll try to remember your life looks different in this aspect and this will be something you do. I don’t want to ever feel like a pawn though, especially from you.”

Charles reaches over and squeezes my hand. I like Charlie—no, I love him, but I never imagined this issue would be part of my life. I thought I was escaping it.

As I watch Charlie drive, I feel conflicted inside. Here’s this beautiful man who has a tight hold on my heart. When we’re together, I feel complete and happy. It’s a feeling that so many people search their whole lives for and I have it.

There’s the other part of me that never wants to be with someone who comes from money. Someone who’s affiliated with the high society, social circle. I hate how I feel knowing Charlie likes this part of his life.

A fear rises within me. I might never have the normal life I want so badly. Charlie will never be happy on the outside and I’ll never be happy trapped on the inside. Is this something I’d be okay with? I don’t know. I’ve worked so hard to build a protective barrier into my life that allows me to be happy.

I don’t know if it’s this revelation alone or the horrid evening that’s taken place, but I’m not feeling very optimistic about our future. Charlie asks.

“What’s going on in your head? Not only do you feel far away, but you’re radiating negativity.”

I don’t want to tell him the truth, but I also don’t want to lie to him. If there’s any hope for our future, it’s going to be a product of open and honest communication.

“I’m sorry. Before dinner, I was feeling so hopeful and happy, but suddenly, I’ve become worried. I’ve worked so hard for a simple kind of life. How can we both have what we want? How can you have the life you’ve grown to love when it’s the same life I’ve worked so hard to escape? We’d have to live completely separate lives. I feel like I’ve invited trouble in because our lifestyles are too different.”

As I lean my head against the window, any trace of optimism I may have had is dissipating with each passing street light.

* * CHARLES * *

Fuck! Where did this come from?

I didn’t think dinner was that bad. I mean, I could tell Colin was getting frustrated, but he knows this is the reality of our life. These kinds of dinners are unavoidable. This is my dad, there’s no escaping my dad. Regardless, if I agree with him or not, I can’t change him.

To grab Colin’s attention, I squeeze his hand and I sternly say.

“Hey! Look at me. I know dinner didn’t go the way you planned, but that doesn’t mean anything. We can have any future we want and I want a future with you.”

I squeeze his hand again for support.

“I know. Me, too, but would you be okay having a life without the monetary benefits?”

I’m pretty sure I know what he’s asking, but I want to fully understand what he’s implying before answering because we’re already treading in choppy water.

“What do you mean?”

“Would you be okay with: living in my apartment and not having a new car every year? Not going to all of the social events? Not throwing your name around? Not living like you have millions? That kind of thing?”

“To a certain extent, but I can’t completely answer that right now because we’re not at that point, but yes, there’s a lot of stuff I’d be okay with.”

I’ve already changed so much because of Colin and for Colin, but not in a bad way. I love him and he’s shown me a happiness I’ve never known, but I’m not willing to be the one to give up everything, there’s no compromise for that. I don’t feel we have to pick one or the other because, I think, there has to be a blend that’ll work for both of us. Compromise is what relationships are based on.

“We don’t have to be at the point of living together to know what we’re willing to give up or what we have no intentions of changing. I can tell you, right now, that I have zero desire to change my life. I have worked hard for the anonymity I have. I don’t want to change that. Not even for you.”

“I’m not asking you to change!”

I didn’t mean to yell, but I feel as if I’m fighting for something I wasn’t in danger of losing a few hours ago. It’s as if everything we had is gone and he’s given up and there’s nothing I can say or do.

“If anything, I’m the one who’s been changing. I don’t go out nearly as much as I used to and I’ve passed on a lot of big events that I could’ve benefited from. The thought of building relationships that don’t involve you doesn’t have the same appeal they had a year ago.”

It’s true, my whole life has been transformed because of Colin. The things I think about now have to do with Colin and me. Where we’re going to sleep, how I’m going to hold him, the way he looks when he’s brushing his teeth, how efficient he is at laundry, and the fact he changes his bed sheets, without a maid, at least once a week, but more often now that we’re constantly making them dirty.

“Okay, but what happens a year from now when the newness wears off and real life comes knocking on the door? Will you be okay with never being able to introduce me at events and only being together outside the life you grew up in?”

His whole body’s limp in his seat, it’s almost as if he’s given up entirely.

I hope not.

I pull into the garage and turn to him.

“Baby, I can’t sit here and tell you the future. I don’t know what next month holds or next year. I’ve never loved anyone before, but I love you and that means something to me. I’m not going to change who I am for you, but I can say you’ve changed who I want to be. I feel as if you’re trying to make a decision that doesn’t need to be made, yet. Can we go inside, go to bed, and try tomorrow after a full night’s sleep?”

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