"I'm Charlie." He said, holding out his hand and grinning at me. I took it in mine, but didn't move, so we weren't actually shaking, just sort of holding hands. His warm skin caressed mine lightly, causing me to gulp down the panic that instantly filled me. He was almost too close, but I never wanted him to let go wither.

"Lara." I almost whispered as a reply.

I watched him bite his lip as he thought of what to say next, and my other hand reached up to play with the ends of my hair. I was nervous...but it was much more than that. I was extremely anxious because for the first time in a very long time, I actually needed this guy to like me. I wanted to keep talking to him. I was really enjoying his company—even if I was acting a bit of a fool around him! I normally couldn't wait to escape the presence of people I didn't know very well, so this new longing was very unnerving.

"Shall we get going?" He finally asked, waving his hand dismissively towards the house that we'd just gotten away from. "That party seemed to be getting a bit much anyway. Soon it'll be out of hand. I imagine someone will call the cops eventually." I noticed him tapping his hand against his leg, almost as if he was feeling the tension as much as I was.

I nodded, unable to believe my luck. I didn't know if I was reading too much into it, but it seemed like Charlie might actually like me. That may not make any sense—after all, I couldn't think what he would see in me—but the evidence suggested as much. He seemed to want to spend time with me, to walk me home, and he was acting a little uneasy around me—almost as if he wanted me to like him too. My heart pounded painfully against my chest at the prospect of someone this gorgeous actually having an interest in me, and it took all that I had not to allow my overactive imagination to start predicting the worst when he found out the truth about me. Chances were it would never get that far anyway, so I really didn't need to be worrying about it.

I fired off a quick text to Kimberly, telling her that I was heading home, hoping that she would understand my quick departure. I did feel a little guilty about leaving, but I couldn't imagine that I would be able to find her now, and at least I was safe in the knowledge that she wasn't by herself, and that Nick would look after her. They would probably be grateful for more time alone anyway.

"So, where do you live?" Charlie asked, slipping his hand into mine. I grasped it gratefully, glad for the connection and pointed him in the right direction. As we moved, it was like I was walking on air, I felt drunk, even though I didn't really drink anything. It was a magical sensation that I wanted to hold on to forever. "Okay, let's get going. I'll get you home."

Much as the odds were stacked against me being able to think of anything to say, the conversation was actually flowing naturally between us. Charlie had this really upbeat aura about him that I was drawn to in many ways. He just seemed so laid-back, as if nothing would ever bother him. Almost the polar opposite of me, in fact. I couldn't believe how attracted to this quality I was. It made him even more attractive in my eyes. In fact, the more he spoke, and the more I got to know about him, the more convinced I became that he was the best guy I'd ever had the pleasure of spending any time with.

As we went, I could feel his thumb occasionally rubbing my hand, sending shoots of pleasure through my whole body. My heart was pounding, my palms were tingling—every single one of my nerves was on fire, it was crazy and I loved every second of it. He was making me feel more alive than I had in a very long time, and I wanted to grasp onto that feeling, to keep it with me forever. If I always felt like this, then the future would be easy for me!

"So, have you always lived in the city?" Charlie asked, innocently enough. Of course, he had no idea how loaded that question was, and what it may lead to.

"I...erm, no." I replied, quietly, desperately wondering how quickly I could deflect the conversation back onto him. "No, I moved here about a year and a half ago."

This was it; this was where he asked me all of the awkward questions that I wouldn't be able to answer. After Amy's reaction, I was definitely not ready to dredge it all up again. Especially not with someone who was virtually a stranger—someone I actually wanted to like me.

"Yeah? You like it here?" Thankfully, he focused on the here and now rather than digging backwards.

"I—" I paused for a second. Up until a few days ago, the answer would have been a resounding 'no'. Sure, I probably would have lied and shrugged, or said something along the lines of 'it's okay, I guess'. Now, I wasn't entirely sure what my answer was. It was certainly further along the positive lines though. "Yeah, yeah. It's...different. Great though!" I smiled inanely, opting for the simple answer. He didn't need me to delve deep into my psyche right now; it was very likely that he was just being polite.

Luckily, he breezed right past this, and onto the next subject, allowing me to relax around him once more...

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