Journal 8: All The Other Women

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A/N: Hello everyone! Here's another entry from Brandon's journal. This covers TMMM's Chapter 7. Hope you like it! =)

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I can't remember a time when I hesitated about going somewhere for a business trip—especially when it came to a woman. Business came first, after all. I was always gave the woman I was involved with the courtesy of letting her know. It was never a question of whether they're going to let me go or not. Convenience was a top consideration in all my relationships, after all. Of course, Charlotte is all but convenient, but then she's not really in a relationship with me. At least not in the traditional sense.

The visit to Vancouver was routine. Our Canadian holdings were based there and I checked in every few months. I'd known I was going to go to way before Charlotte got dropped on my lap, where she felt good, actually. I didn't stall about going. Once my mind was made up, I usually acted promptly. I didn't stall with leaving Charlotte—I already told Ted, the director of operations there, that I wasn't going to go. At all. I was getting married rather soon, after all. A man can't just up and leave his fiancee less than two weeks before the big day.

I didn't want to leave Charlotte. It was too soon. She's not just getting her feet wet in this whole Mrs.-Maxfield affair. Rather, she's getting dunked into it headfirst (kinda like what happened with that damned dog at the park). 

I had to make sure she could keep her head above water. Based on Felicity's preliminary report about Charlotte's new routine, she's hardly taking a break at this crash course we're putting her through. It would overwhelm anyone, taking on such a high-profile and important role and all the expectations that came with it. 

If Charlotte was going to crack, I wanted to be there to hold her up. 

But given what I'd learned about her—from both her background report and every second of my life that's been intertwined with hers since we met, Charlotte doesn't crack. Or if she does, she slaps some super glue on it and carry on. At nineteen, she's a walking Humpty Dumpty and no, it wasn't adorable. It infuriated me, actually, but I try not to say so because she'd see it as pity and Charlotte wasn't big on pity. 

It wasn't until the last minute, when I stood by her doorway, kissing her forehead when she stank like moss and stagnant water, that I decided I had to go. I was still reeling from the panic of watching her fall into the water, about to be attacked by a hellhound. It didn't bode well that I was overreacting while she just looked at me, all soaked and sticky and smelly, trying to suppress an impish smile. I wanted to throw her over my shoulder and plop her down on a tub so I could proceed with peeling off her lovely but ruined dress and shampoo her tangled mess of a hair until she was crowned in lather with soap suds on the tip of her nose. She would be laughing at me and pointing out that my entire suit was soaked and ruined too, and I would be shrugging like I didn't care. 

I bolted because I got scared. No man liked to say that out loud but I ran before I could make a bigger fool of myself around her. I wasn't some kind of brooding teenage boy embracing an unhealthy obsession with her. I was a man with formidable self-control thanks to an ample combination of years and vast experience. I knew and understood women, and appreciated all the things I desired about them. I did not moon over a mischievous imp with sunshine for smiles who kept sticking her tongue out at me.

The first day in Vancouver, I congratulated myself on my focus. I was work, work, work despite the emails from Gilles and Felicity reporting regular updates on Charlotte who chose to keep working until before the wedding. The circus had begun with the media and gossipmongers circling her like vultures wherever she went. I never heard a single complaint from Charlotte herself. The sudden absence of her voice and her face—even just her babbling or eye-rolling—didn't strike me hard until the end of the day when I checked my phone and emails and realized that she hadn't called or sent me a single thing. On impulse, I texted her asking how her day was and she didn't reply. I realized then that she was probably already asleep because Boston was ahead a few hours. The next morning though, she replied with a brief text saying her day had been busy. Before I could grab breakfast, I called her and spent nearly an hour with her on the phone, listening to her tell me every little thing that happened. Then I made her promise to call me later in the evening because I expected another full report. I heard her snort and sigh before finally agreeing. 

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