Chapter 4

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"The first time I saw you, I knew I had to meet you. I didn't know when or how, but I knew I would." - The Age of Adaline, in theaters tomorrow

When you've been running for as long as I have, coming to an abrupt stop often resulted to stumbling forward, the lingering momentum knocking you down to the ground.

It felt that way at first when Brandon walked into my life.

And had he been a different man, I might have just dusted myself off, gotten back up on my feet and resumed running. But Brandon Maxfield-noble, indomitable, passionate-was exactly the kind of man who would catch a lady before she could hit the ground, who would sweep her up in his arms like a precious load.

Maybe I really was a damsel in distress.

Or maybe I was just so damn tired and lonely.

Or maybe, I truly made the one perilous mistake I couldn't afford making-falling in love.

Just as I dreaded, it wasn't a happy condition.

It made me want things I had no business wanting, it made me reckless, it made me helpless with this appalling longing, it pinned me in the one place I should've run from a long time ago.

The morning I left Brandon's house, I should've headed straight out of town, never to look back again.

But that ultimatum clouded over me, keeping me stranded even as the danger grew each day.

I heard nothing about a dead man found in the back alleys-at least none that matched our attacker-that I knew Eddie would soon ferret out Brandon's intriguing presence in my life.

His identity would be his death sentence-just as mine was my own.

I gave myself a few more days but the countdown was almost over.

It wouldn't be pleasant to realize and accept that Brandon had seen the wisdom in keeping himself off the streets and out of my life but it just might allow me to move forward. He wouldn't be mine but he would be safe and maybe that knowledge would be enough to sustain me.

In my mind, in the many years to come, I would only ever remember him as the young, handsome and fiercely tempting man I was both blessed and cursed to have met and let go.

He would never age, much like the face I stared at in the mirror in the poor lighting of the dressing room.

"You're spacing out again, Char," Rita said as she picked up a bottle of cheap perfume from the vanity. "What's going on with you?"

I forced a smile and patted some more rouge on my cheeks.

For tonight's entertainment, the girls and I were going to do our version of the Charleston.

We were all getting ready, clad in stockings and embellished dresses, our hair curled, our faces powdered, our brows penciled on and our dark red lips drawn.

I adored how makeup could transform me and there was a sense of freedom to that. A woman on the run couldn't have a single memorable face.

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