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"I'm sorry," I said with my head hung low. I couldn't meet his eyes. I still couldn't say the words he longed to hear. 

"Good. So no more trying to hurt me on purpose?" he asked and he stepped closer towards me. Now he was invading my personal space and he took my face in his hands and lifted it so that our eyes would meet. 

I looked at him, his eyes were back to their soft hazel color. I couldn't help but smile. What the heck was wrong with me? Feeling his hands on my face and seeing his hazel eyes comforted me so deeply that it felt as though I had never been broken to begin with.

"I'll do my best," I said. I meant it.

"I'll take it. How about we go back to your place and watch a movie?" 

"Ok, that sounds good." I smiled a real genuine smile and just like that we were back to normal. He never mentioned that night again and we just moved forward with making the plans for the wedding. I never forgot it. I never forgot that argument because that moment would serve as a reminder of what I was doing and why. Being with Charlie was like breathing air, it was necessary for survival and I couldn't get enough of it. 

I was going to leave soon. But when it was his time to leave California, we would meet up in NYC so that he could meet my parents and ask my dad for his blessing. It still felt surreal. I kept waiting for the shoe to drop and I suppose that was part of the problem. I was so worried about shoes dropping that I hadn't noticed the female problems I was having. I was getting sick.

When it was time to leave I felt a mixture of sorrow and excitement. I was beginning the next chapter in my career and the possibilities were endless. Even though we would be apart I knew on some level that we would be alright. That was a comforting yet terrifying feeling.

A couple of friends (classmates) and I decided to drive down from California to Texas. It was an incredibly fun 3-days and by the time we arrived at our new dorms for the next few months felt like they would pass by quickly. Quickly they did. Without my clique there I was free to spend time with whomever I wanted and I had a great time. Charlie and I spoke every night and I was finding myself feeling at peace. It was something that I wasn't familiar with. 

I should have been happy and for the most part, I was. Unfortunately, with the increasing pelvic region pain, my mood began to shift and I found myself sinking into a depression. My friends understood that I was struggling so they recommended I speak to someone. So I did. Little did I know at the time that this action would transform my life. It was the beginning of the end of my career I just didn't know it yet.

First, I met with the Chaplain. He is a religious leader. I told him about the pain, I told him how they found precancerous cells and how they had cut the cells out of me twice. I told him how I had my birth control changed to help me balance the hormones that were believed to be the contributor to the damaged cells. I told him how I found myself feeling hopeless about my future. It seemed like this would end me. He recommended that I see a social worker. The social worker recommended a psychologist who recommended a psychiatrist who recommended pills. 

Pills...these pills would be the catalyst to plummet me down so deep into despair that I would no longer be fit to serve. My body and my mind would betray me. This fate would be my future that was yet unknown to me as I sat with that Chaplain telling him about the pain and the growing sorrow. 

Four months flew by in Texas and it was time to head back to California only this time I was going to good old San Diego. Before that though, I was on my way to NYC. I would be seeing Charlie for the first time in four months. He would meet my family. Afterward, we would travel to North Carolina where he was from.

There we would be married at a small church in a small town. We would have our honeymoon on the beach and we would once again be apart for another year. In case you are wondering, yes, I am totally glossing over this part. Trust me, that story is interesting but the story I have in store for you is even better. Yeah, yeah you want to know about wedding day drama, we had some of that too but be patient. This story I am about to tell you is WAY better than the wedding drama story.

This is the story about our arrival at NYC and who my mother decided to invite to our engagement/wedding party in hopes that I would choose him instead. If you are thinking that she invited Mr. Sunshine you would be correct. Mr. Sunshine crashed my wedding shower. I still remember the front door ringing at the tiny apartment on the 3rd floor in the projects but I'll get to that. Let me start at the beginning.

Charlie and I stood at the front of my apartment building. The building looked so different after all of this time, the bullet holes in the elevator door still sent a clear warning to all that may inadvertently come into this space. That message, outsiders are not welcome here. I distinctly remember the look on Charlie's face when we step through the main door and came face to face with the elevators. It was a shock, awe, and fear. He tried to hide the fear but I saw it. 

He knew this was home for me so he would remain silent about the bullet holes. I knew he was curious so I leaned in and whispered into his ear "drug dispute" 

He nodded his understanding and swallowed what I assume was a lump in his throat. "Want to take the stairs?" I asked.

"Yeah" there was a relief in his eyes and his shoulders. He let out a deep breath that he had probably been holding in from the moment he stepped through the threshold. Poor thing, if dealing with me wasn't bad enough now he had to see where I live and he had to meet...my family.

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Author's Note: I hope you don't mind the back and forth. There are a few very important stories I want to tell but if I told them all this book would never end. We are coming towards the end, there will be this story and one more to finish out this book. Thank you for reading and I hope you stick with me for the rest of this rollercoaster with Catherine. Feedback is always welcome and appreciated. 


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