Journal 17: Best Laid Plans

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A/N: Hi everyone! Thanks for checking in on another update. This entry is lined up with Chapter  17 in TMMM, which is a favorite chapter of a lot of people. I didn't go into too much detail in what happened during their 'camping trip' because I think Charlotte gave us a good peek into that. Hope you enjoy!

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I like to think I'm a smart man.

Sure, my path to success has been long paved before me by my father. I'm not exactly building an empire from scratch here so not much credit for that will go to me. But because of that, and because I've always felt that my father expected so much more from me, I worked my ass off my whole life to deserve what I stand to inherit someday. I don't always admit that out loud, and maybe other people can't really see it, but my whole life was a mission—to get excellent grades, to learn every aspect of running a business that they couldn't teach me in class, to carve my entire existence around my priorities.

It's not just about making money. While Dad taught me well how to do that, what he really drilled into my head was that what we do, and what I will someday have to do on my own for a little bit, is critical because of the lives it supports. I don't just have my family's mouths to feed—I've got several thousand others.

The gruelling education to become the running force behind Maxfield Industries isn't for the faint of heart—or the weak-brained for that matter. The constant decision-making required ultra-sharp focus and keen reasoning, like a mental chess game you endlessly played with fate.

So yes, I like to think that I'm a smart man. If I hadn't been born one, I've been made into one simply because I had to be to handle the responsibilities that come with my future.

I won't say that since meeting Charlotte I've stopped being smart.

I think it's mostly realizing that dry, clear-cut logic isn't the master key I've always considered it to be when it came to many decisions I've made in life and business.

Charlotte and I—we're not a straightforward equation with an irrefutable formula. We're more like a brilliant equation in the making—lots of trial and error and revisions. Someday, we'll make total sense—or maybe we'll just stay as one of those beautifully complicated and unsolvable mysteries. I don't really care.

The point is, I can't just walk into this thing with her thinking that I have an answer for everything. I doubt that she can either, for all her old wisdom about life. We'll have to figure out how to do this as we go along.

I'm perfectly alright with not knowing our next steps, or making smart decisions. I pretty much told her that when she stood there in front of me at the parking lot of the grocery.

Regret was written all over her face and her head hung low after her fervent admission that she didn't mean the harsh denial about caring far more than we expected. It had stung, I'll admit, even as I refused to believe it because denial or not, Charlotte cared. It was hard for her admit. I could see it in the flicker of fear in her eyes as she rattled off the words.

And I get why it terrifies her. The most basic of love she would've learned from her parents was practically non-existent. For majority of her life growing up, the people she'd loved, and had hoped would love her back, disappeared in some way or another.

And considering why I came to her in the first place, and how we came to be, she'd be foolish to trust me so blindly with her biggest gift and her greatest fear.

But, as bold as ever about anything, she found the words.

They weren't I-love-you but it was enough to make me want to say them myself.

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