*** Read Part 5 HERE
Sage sits there in bed next to this man who has oddly become her everything in the last few days. A blank stare dresses her face. Caught between confusion and budding anger. Someone can’t actually fake feelings like that, can they? From the moment she locked eyes with Charlie while sitting in the back seat of his car, she felt a spark. The way he looked at her, the way he touched her, the way he protected her-it was everything Sage had ever wanted in a man, in a partner.
Was Charlie just playing me this whole time, she thinks.
Was I just being completely delusional and irrational to think that a man would come along and want me for me? All of me? Even the bad stuff? Even the difficult stuff? Even the things I most regret? I should have known he was too good to be true, too good to be trusted.
Unsure which feeling will win in the end, Sage realizes there are two parts colliding within her. The part of her that wants this beautiful, kind, caring man to be allowed time to explain. And the part of her that wanted to flee and never look back. Putting as much distance as she possibly can between them.
Sage’s uncertainty beings to increase and the thought of fleeing becomes increasingly appealing.
She realizes she has no choice. She has to run. She needs to set off on her own.
If I’m going to leave, I need to do it now. Before he wakes up and before I look into those damn mesmerizingly blue eyes and change my mind, she thinks to herself as she sits uncomfortably in shock on the very edge of the bed, wanting to distance herself from Charlie and his betrayal.
Is it a betrayal, if the person who wronged you, is a stranger?
Sage rips off Charlie’s sweater as the business card falls to the floor, unnoticed. Slowly sneaking out of bed, she reaches for her bag of newly purchased thrift clothes. In a rush she flees to the bathroom to get dressed.
A few short minutes later Sage is already heading out the door. Wig, Hat, and Sunglasses in their rightful places.
Sage gives one last glance back at Charlie, with a heavy sigh she leaves, her heart a little heavier then before. Which should say a lot considering what she’s been through.
The sun is setting and the night is creeping in. The air is cooler. As a breeze rustles in through the suite’s cracked window Charlie awakes in a daze. He reaches up rubbing his eyes to focus his vision.
He turns to where Sage once lay. Greeted with an empty space, his brow furrows.
“Sage?” he calls out sitting up amongst the cozy white sheets.
Charlie smiles as he stands up throwing on his jeans he begins to walk around the honeymoon suite.
“Hey Sexy, where’d you sneak off to?” he smirks looking around the suite, checking the different rooms.
Charlie begins to worry when he doesn’t receive a response.
He begins to pace and look around for some kind of a sign as to what happened, or as to where Sage could have went. He walks into the bathroom and sees the bag of clothes on the floor, he rummages through it, noticing a few pieces were taken. He walks back to the bedroom, scanning the area for something. Anything. His eyes fall upon a tiny paper on floor near the side of the bed. Charlie’s eyes widen as he bends down to pick it up.
“Shit,” he says looking down at his business card.
Charlie throws on his shirt, jacket and his shoes and rushes out of the room.
Sage realized quickly that the little money she had in her back pocket when she fled the scene of the crime, wasn’t enough to get her very far. She managed to put a bit of distance between she and Charlie by walking on foot. But not much. 20 some odd blocks away from the ritzy hotel and the fairy tale life she and Charlie had cooked up for themselves, was a not so ritzy, quite disheveled and rugged hometown bar.
Sage sits with a beer in hand. Her head spinning.
Charlie rushes into the parking lot of the hotel and jumps into his car, quickly turning the key, the engine roars with a fury as he peels out onto the road. His goal- Find her. No excuses.
Sage sits there, her mind racing. For the first time, in what has honestly felt like forever, she has something other than that horrific night to occupy her mind. Boy trouble. At the very least, Charlie’s betrayal was good for something.
The bartender walks over to where Sage sits hanging her head, staring down the barrel of her beer. Drowning her sorrows with the company of Bud. Bud Lite.
“Hey there gorgeous. Can I get you another?” The dark haired, dark eyed bartender says with a smirk leaning over the bar top.
Sage looks up at him.
The door to the bar opens, a bell over head rings.
Her expression flat, Sage answers rather fueled.
“You all just think that you can win over a woman with a small compliment on her looks and a winning smirk, don’t you?”
The bartender stands there slightly taken aback by her anger.
“No seriously, you men just think it’s that easy don’t you?”
The bartender begins to stumble on his words.
Just then Charlie comes into view as he watches Sage with fixed eyes. He sighs to himself. He can tell this isn’t going to be easy. Charlie walks up behind her and sits down on the stool next to her.
“Don’t worry. I’ve got this. You’re free to go,” he says looking up at the bartender who shrugs in confusion and walks away.
“Hmm. Sounds like something a cop would say. Oh that’s right-” She says grilling him for a brief second and then continuing to ignore his existence as she takes another sip of her beer.
Charlie looks at her. Examining her face, her body language. Looking for a way to soften this situation.
Her eyes stare ahead, unwilling to look his way. A coldness he hasn’t seen yet. It saddens him. Her lips straight and void of a tell. Her hands clenched on her beer with anger as if it’s the only thing keeping her grounded.
Charlie sits there looking Sage over, his heart pounding. His hands wanting to touch her so badly.
He keeps his silence for a beat, not wanting to drive her a way, or make a scene in a public place.
He takes a deep breath and turns to her, finally mustering up the courage to speak.
“I woke up to an empty bed. Do you know how scared I was?”
“Oh. I’m sure. You poor baby, you’ve been through so much,” she says not even glancing his way.
“You’re a cop. No I’m sorry, excuse me- a detective. A crime scene detective,” she says turning in her seat to look him right in the eyes. Her voice clear, her tone cold.
“I know you must feel betrayed, but if you just let me explain…”
“No. You have no idea what I feel, how I feel. I trusted you, against every instinct. I let you in. And you broke that trust so quickly-like it just didn’t matter to you.”
“I know that it seems like that- but it isn’t. Can we just go somewhere more private so that we can talk,” he says turning to face her too. “The last thing you need right now is an audience.”
“I’m not going anywhere with you,” she says standing up.
“Please,” (he stands up next to her) “After everything we’ve been through together in such a short amount of time. Can you honestly believe there isn’t an explanation as to why I never mentioned I was a cop. Just, please, can we go somewhere to talk?”
Sage felt herself melting, his puppy dog, crystal blue eyes are drawing her in and being near Charlie somehow still made her feel safe in some bizarre way. Not wanting him to notice she was softening, Sage crosses her arms and rolls her eyes.
“Fine. We can talk. But just know, that I don’t trust you. You have 5 minutes, nothing more. And if you try anything I will scream my head off.”
Charlie narrows his eyes.
“Considering your current situation, I highly doubt you’d risk that.”
“Try me. Jail is looking pretty good right about now,” Sage says narrowing her eyes back at him and pursing her lips, her arms still folded across her chest; protecting herself.
Charlie’s heart takes a bit of a blow there with that last statement. Yet in that moment all he wanted to do was grab her in his arms and kiss her. Her sassy side was definitely something that was a trigger for him.
Charlie looks her over, his eyes focusing on her body before locking on her eyes.
“You know exactly what I’m talking about. Your 5 minutes are slowly ticking away…so…”
“Ok. Ok I’m sorry. You’re just so- beautiful.”
Sage looks at him, her face puzzled, yet angry.
She walks away toward the bathrooms, there’s an exit door in between the men and women’s room and she pushes through the door as Charlie follows her into the night.
A dimly lit small yard comes into focus. A few tables and chairs are set up, but the area is empty.
Sage walks to the opposite side of the yard, needing to put that distance in between she and Charlie, facing away from him, she hears the bar door close and him walking closer. Being near him and having him look at her the way he is, is messing with her head. She needs to stay in control of this situation. She whips around coming face to face with him.
“So what was this?? What- were you watching me? Interrogating me? Investigating me? This whole time? Gathering evidence for your case? Are you waiting to make your move to just arrest me, or what? I mean I’m surprised you’ve let this go on for so long. Go as far as to commit to having sex with me? Was that just for kicks? A good old story to tell the fellas back at the office before you slap the handcuffs on me and haul me off to prison? I mean really what are you waiting for?” She says walking away from him yet again.
“No. That’s not what this was. It’s not what this is. It was more. So much more. And you’re not going to prison. I won’t let you.”
Sage looks at him angrily.
“Then what? What is this? Who are you?”
“I’m an ex detective. I left the force years ago. I didn’t agree with certain laws. There are some great cops out there, but being a cop in this world is about following the book. I’m more about trusting your instincts. I’m a bend the rules kind of guy. I believe in taking a deeper look. Crime and the reasons certain people have for committing them aren’t always black and white. I’ve seen some of the most heartbreaking cases go unjustified. I couldn’t stomach being apart of that anymore.”
“And I’m just supposed to just take your word for it.”
“Yes. Have I given you any reason not to?”
Sage glares over at him, knowing he’s got a point.
“Why would you want to help me? You come out of nowhere and you save me, than you drive me everywhere, pay for everything. Why?”
“That night we met, the night of the murder, when I saw you running from the scene, I saw the fear on your face. I’ve been trained to tell the difference between real fear and fear of being caught. I’ve been trained to notice the signs of a guilty person. And I could tell you were one of those cases that would go unjustified if I didn’t do something to help you. I needed to help you. I needed to make a difference. I’m so consumed by the cases I wasn’t able to change the outcome of.”
“Oh come on, you expect me to believe that you were just what-in the wrong place at the right time?”
“Yes. Some things are just meant to happen. Some people are meant to meet. Regardless of circumstance.”
Sage looks at him, her resolve softening as her cross fall to her sides. Charlie notices as a smirk hides between his glare.
“And as far as the sex. I wanted to. It’s as simple as that. I think you are sexy as hell and smart and kind and I wanted you. I wanted to be with you. To touch you. I wanted you in my arms and I wanted to be able to make you feel safe. There. There’s your ulterior motive.”
Sage laughs sarcastically as she rolls her eyes. She looks at him her head still in a fog. She doesn’t know what to believe.
“Come on. You can’t be serious here. This is all just one big story. One big cover. What are you waiting for? Why don’t you just radio one of your cop friends and slap the cuffs on me right now? Or do you have a pair of your own hiding somewhere?”
“No I don’t. I told you, that’s not going to happen. I mean- unless you want to use hand cuffs for a different reason, then I would be happy to track a pair down,” Charlie smirks as he arches an eyebrow, looking Sage over once again.
“Sex jokes? Really? I can’t believe you. I can’t believe you let things go that far between us.”
“Forgive me if I’m wrong, but I didn’t exactly have to twist your arm.”
“I didn’t know the whole truth.”
“You want to know what I think? I think you’re just scared. I think you are scared to admit that you actually felt something. You felt safe, taken care of. Maybe even loved.”
Sage’s eyes shoot up and lock with Charlie’s.
“You’re not naïve, even you know there’s a connection here. Just because, you can’t explain it doesn’t mean it’s not real.”
“I thought it was all in my head. But-”
“It’s not. It’s real,” Charlie says cupping her face, and looking into her eyes.
Sage looks up at Charlie as he searches her face for a lead.
Sage sighs, letting herself go, she reaches up and grabbing his neck she pulls him into a kiss.
Charlie pulls her tightly against him, deepening the kiss.
“Let me take you back to the hotel, please,” he whispers breathlessly as he looks into her eyes.
Sage looks up at him. Unsure of what to do.
“I um. I think it’s time- I go off on my own.”
Charlie looks at her, slightly dumbfounded.
“I just. I’ve imposed on you long enough.”
“You still can’t let yourself trust me, can you?”
“I want to. But I just can’t. And being around you, and feeling these feelings, it’s messing with my head. And I’m already messed up to begin with.”
“You’re not messed up. You’re just dealing with a lot. And I get it.”
“Thank you. For everything,” she says distancing herself and holding her hand out for him to shake.
Charlie looks down at her hand and taking it in his, he shakes it. As his hand meets hers, so do his eyes, and the spark is fueled again. He pulls her to him, kissing her yet again. Sage kisses him back for a beat, but then gently pushing him away, she looks up at him.
“Bye Charlie,” she walks away from him and toward the door.
“So what, I’m just never going to see you again?”
“I don’t know,” she says smiling slightly.
Charlie sighs heavily looking at her.
“I can’t let that happen.”
“You don’t have a choice.”
“Sage please. Stay with me. Let me do this for you. Let me help you.”
Sage looks at him, her gaze on the floor, her mind confused. She doesn’t want to leave him, but she can’t trust him either.
“What did you do? What happened? Tell me and I can help you.”
Sage looks up at him, her wheels turning and her eyes narrowing.
“Oh so now you’re out right asking me?”
“Yes. I’ve tried to wait until you were ready to tell me. But if we continue to wait, time will run out. And then who knows where you’ll end up.”
“Jail. Maybe I should just turn myself in. I’m tired of running. I’m tired of looking over my shoulder every second. And most importantly I can’t trust you. I don’t. This is what you’ve been waiting on isn’t it? Information.”
“Sage?” Stop it.”
“You stop it. Stop playing this game with me. Stop trying to convince me that you actually give a damn about what happens to me. That you actually want me. You don’t. You’re just really good at playing the role. Did you minor in acting too?”
“I’m only trying to help you Sage, because well…I can’t seem to help myself.”
“I’ve dealt with enough cases to know that whatever reason you had for doing what you did was a good one. I could just tell by the guilt you’ve been wrestling with.”
“I killed someone.”
“Okay. Why? What happened?”
“Oh please stop acting like what I actually have to say matters.”
“It matters a whole hell of a lot. You matter. To me. Don’t you get that by now. Paint me a picture. Tell me what happened.”
“It was a domestic dispute.”
“You don’t have any bruises on your body.”
“Oh and you would know wouldn’t you?” she says with a laugh and yet another eye roll.
“Victims of domestic violence usually have years of evidence hidden on their bodies. All you have are a few perfectly placed beauty marks. (he looks up at her, his eyes looking her over, something that is obviously a favorite past time for him lately) That’ll be a strike against your story.”
Sage notices his glare and the tension building between them there in that moment.
“Who said it was my dispute?” she says fidgeting under his gaze and trying to keep the conversation going.
“Ah now we’re getting somewhere. Figures. I mean usually female victims of abuse flinch at any sign of physical male contact. You never did.”
“What-I’m just stating the facts.”
“No you’re flirting. You’re trying to paint a picture of all the feelings from last night. Fine. You want a replay? Here it goes. Yes we had sex. Yes it was amazing sex. But it can’t ever happen again.”
“You sure that’s what you want?”
“What I want doesn’t matter. I don’t need a physical relationship with you messing with my head right now.”
“Ok fair enough. What if I promise to keep my distance. We can even get separate rooms at the hotel. You can have your own space and I still get to keep an eye on you, and help you out. From a distance.”
Sage looks at him, confused.
“Why are you still trying to be nice to me? I’ve been nothing but a bitch to you today.”
“You’ve been through a lot, it’s understandable.”
Sage looks at him, still puzzled by the grace of this man.
“So what really happened? It’s the only way I can help you.”
“I don’t want your help.”
Charlie grabs her hand.
“Go help some other damsel in distress.”
“You think I do this for everyone?”
“Oh so what I’m special.”
“Yes you are.”
Sage rolls her eyes.
“Oh please you expect me to just believe that you were driving by there that night by chance.”
“Lucky you,” Charlie says looking over at Sage, smirk in place.
Sage rolls her eyes yet again.
“If you want me to be honest with you, you have to do the same. Why were you there?”
“I heard the breaking news report on the radio and I happen to be in the area. I thought I would check things out. When I saw you running for your life. I knew you must have been involved and I had to help you. It’s not something I feel I can fully explain, just something I felt I had to do. Nice diversion by the way.”
“What are you talking about?”
“I know what you’re trying to do?”
“Do tell, detective.”
“You’re picking a fight with me. The kind that creates a vicious cycle. Because you’re hurt, which I get. But also because I think you still want me just as much as I want you. Which is also why you keep avoiding my eye contact and moving further and further away from me.”
“You got me. You figured me out detective. Do you want a gold star?”
“You’ll do just fine,” he says pulling her by the waist toward him.
“Charlie. Don’t.” she says pulling away from him.
“Come back with me. Please.”
Sage looks at him.
“Separate rooms,” she says agreeing.
He steps back away from her, holding his hands up in surrender.
“Your wish is my command.”
Sage opens the back door and walks into the bar as Charlie follows, heading toward the car.
To Be Continued….
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