Read Loving Charley Online

Authors: Casey Peeler

Tags: #romance, #dating, #college life, #new adult, #southern literatrure, #mature young adult, #teen and young adult, #pretty little liars, #teen romantic fiction, #teen 16 plus

Loving Charley (3 page)

BOOK: Loving Charley
4.06Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

Dad doesn’t say a word, but sits there
with his arms crossed. Mama looks at me for direction.

“Remember when y’all had to
go to that sale in Athens and left me at home?” They both nod.
“Well, something bad happened that night. Dylan put something in my
drink, and let’s just say he took advantage of me.” I can tell that
my parents are putting the pieces together and are dying to speak.
I lift my finger to tell them to just let me talk. Tears begin to
roll down my mama’s cheeks.

“Mama, don’t cry. I’m all
right. Cash saved me that night. Besides Dylan, he’s the only one
that knows the entire story. If it wasn’t for him, I don’t know
what would have happened to me. I did the only thing I knew how to
do; I pushed everyone away—the team, my friends, and y’all. I just
survived. Yes, I’m different, but I’m okay.” As I take a breath, it
gives my mama a chance to speak.

Anger begins to rise in her
eyes. “Charley, you mean to tell me that Dylan Sloan raped you, and
you went out with him again? He was in this house this week. What
the hell was that about?”

My mama never cusses.

“I’m telling you there is
more to this story. I’ve dealt with what happened to me thanks to
Tessa, Cash, and my friends. Going to Southern was the best choice
I could have made. What I didn’t know was how Dylan wasn’t going to
let me go. He’s been keeping tabs on me since I went to school by
taking pictures, sending messages to Joe, and even having Joe work
for him.” As soon as those words come out of my mouth, my dad is
standing from his chair and holding Joe by his collar.

“Son, you better explain
real quick, or I’ll be serving your ass to the hogs!”

I jump up and make my way to Dad and
Joe. “Dad! Put him down! He’s not like Dylan. He just got caught up
in trying to be his friend. I promise!”

“Charley, if I let go of him and he’s
done something to hurt my girl, he better run like

“Dad, I promise. He’s a good

Dad lets Joe go. He walks
cautiously to his side of the table again and sits, but never
removes his eyes from Joe.

“Joe met Dylan during
Senior Week at Myrtle Beach. They kept in contact, and when Dylan
heard I was going to Southern, he asked Joe to keep an eye on me.
Joe didn’t realize that we were broken up. He just thought he was
being a good friend to Dylan. Within twenty-four hours of meeting
me, he knew that something was off, but continued to do what Dylan
asked. He knew nothing about Dylan drugging me, and when I
confessed everything to him, he was in complete shock. He was too
deep in lies to tell the truth until Study Day. He told me that
Dylan was the one behind it all, but that was really to protect me.
Dylan had pictures taken of me at school. He even had pictures of
Piper at school. I still can’t put my finger on that, but I know
that if Joe hadn’t told me he was involved that night, I might not
be alive today.”

“What do you mean ‘alive
today’?” Mama questions.

“Dylan would have been at
Whiskey River that night, the same place we were going. I don’t
know if he would have tried the same stunt again or something
worse. The truth is, when Joe ripped my heart apart that night, I
thought it was the end of the world. It wasn’t until I was home for
break that I found out the reason why.”

“I have one question for
you, Charley.” Mama pauses. “Why did you fall all over Cash then
push him away and go out with Dylan?” Nothing like Mama to just cut
to the chase.

I look into Cash’s eyes as he wraps
his arm around my shoulder.

“This happened over a year
ago. I didn’t want the world to know, but I wanted it to stop. The
only way for it to stop was for me to put the joke on him, which I
did tonight, I might add, thanks to all of y’all. But I had to make
you believe that Cash and I were through.”

Dad grins, and I wonder what he is
thinking, especially with what I just unloaded on him.

“Charley, it was a good
stunt, but your mama and I knew that it wasn’t over. Hell, it’s
just beginning between y’all two. We just thought you were being a
reckless teenager.”

Rolling my eyes, I focus
back on the story. “I wanted to let everyone in Grassy Pond know
what he did, make him fall for me, and make him famous in a small
town… and not in a good way either. He fell for it hook, line, and
sinker. There were a few glitches and surprises for both sides
along the way, but we took him down tonight.”

“So, that explains this,”
Mama says, pointing to Cash’s hand.

“Yes, ma’am,” he

“Things didn’t go quite
like I planned tonight, and he is still the same asshole he has
always been, but he told on himself in front of God and everybody.
I just wish someone had gotten it on video. My only concern now is
what is going to happen to Cash. You know Dylan’s gonna file some
assault charges or something.”

“Char-coal, I told you not to worry
about that. If I have to do time, it will be well worth

“Don’t talk like that! You aren’t
going to jail. I won’t let them. Not after what he did to

We sit in silence for a
moment before I remove the lid from the box and pour the contents
onto the table. Everyone’s eyes are enormous, and Piper begins to

“Ohmygosh, Char! How? How did he do
this? No one is at my school with me? How?”

I start to speak, but Joe
interrupts me. “Pipe, Dylan is a piece of work. He has little spies
everywhere. For example, I had nothing to do with these pictures
either. I knew something was going on, but this one of Charley and
me, I didn’t do it. I’m pretty sure who did, though. It's someone
that I’m close to in living quarters, if you get my drift? Matt is
always where we are, even if it's behind the scenes. I can’t prove
it, but I’ll figure it out when I get back.”

“What do we do now?” Mama

“Well, tonight, after Cash
beat Dylan to a pulp, we left the party and went to the police. I
knew that if I didn’t tell my side first, Cash wouldn’t stand a
chance. I’ll be filing a restraining order for starters. That’s why
we came to get the evidence. I don’t know if I want to file rape
charges against him, though. It’s been over a year, no evidence,
and my word against his. Personally, I just want his name and
swimming career ruined and to get my life back and move on. I love
Grassy Pond, but I know I’ll never be able to move back here with
him haunting me.”

“Charley, I think you
should take that to the station now. Don’t wait until the morning.
I’ll go with you,” Dad says.

“Yes, sir, but what about

We take a moment to let
things soak in. This is it.

“Don’t worry about me, but I do need
to talk to my parents. I’ll be glad to go back to the station with

Oh my gosh! What are his
parents going to think? They are going to know that I’m tainted in
the worst way possible and have been a complete bitch to Cash in
front of everyone in town, but yet, I love him. I didn’t think this
plan through at all. The only thing I have going for me is that
they know me.

“Cash, if you want to go, that is
fine, but you need to call your mama before we leave. If the police
come lookin’ for ya, they need to hear it from you

“Yes, sir.” With that, Cash
pulls out his phone and calls home.

Chapter 5

Once Cash talks to his mama, who is
livid about the situation because we can hear her through the
phone, we make our way to my dad’s truck. It’s a quiet ride to the

As Dad goes to grab the
door handle, he stops and looks at me.

“Charley, whatever happens
in there, I want you to know that your mama and I support you. I
really want to take the shotgun over to Dylan’s and blow his head
off, but I know that won’t solve anything. You are makin’ the right
decision. I just wish you had told us. We would have been with you
every step of the way.”

“I know, but at the time I just didn’t
know what to do. I know they aren’t going to be able to do anything
about the rape, but I just want to be left alone.”

“We will make sure that
happens, sweet girl.”

We exit the truck and walk
toward the station. As we enter the glass doors, I hold the box
tighter. The lady glances up from her desk to start the “Hey, I
haven’t seen you in years” speech with Dad. He cuts her off
quickly, and we wait for the officer again.

The wooden door opens, and
the officer appears.

“Miss Rice, glad to see you so soon.
Right this way. I take it this is your dad, correct?”

“Yes, sir.”

I feel like I’m on replay,
just Dad is with me this time. He wants answers, what do we do
next, and how are we going to get this situation under control. The
officer takes a moment to think and then responds.

“Miss Rice, there are some
things I need to make you aware of at this time. Have you heard of
the statute of limitations?” I shake my head no. “Basically, that
is the time frame for reporting a crime. Due to the nature of the
crime you are reporting, we can’t gather evidence. We have verbal
witnesses, but that would not stand up in court. It would be very
messy. Do you understand what I’m saying?”

I start to answer, but Dad
interrupts. “So, you mean to tell me that since Charley didn’t
report this in a
timely manner
nothing can be done? What is this world comin’

“Sir, I understand your
concern, and I’m not going to say that I believe that it is right,
but it’s the law. Miss Rice does have one ball in her court. She
can file charges against Dylan for stalking or threatening phone
calls. Can I see what’s in the box?”

“Yes, sir,” I

I take the box from my lap and pass it
to the officer. He removes the pictures and looks through them one
by one. Just looking at them wouldn’t mean much to someone, but the
fact that we didn’t know about them and then mailing them to me was
his mistake.

“You don’t know who took
these pictures?”

“No, sir, but they were
mailed to me around my birthday. The card should say enough. It is
in there.”

The officer quickly reads
the card and agrees.

“What else do you have?” he

“We have Facebook messages and

“Miss Rice, you have plenty
of evidence, and I feel that your best action will be to complete a
civil no-contact order often referred to as a 50C. Once it is
filled out, Mr. Sloan will be notified and placed on a temporary
50C until the judge can decide. He won’t be able to come near

“Okay, I guess that’s what
we should do.” I answer all the officer’s questions while filling
out the 50C. The fact that as soon as I walk out of these doors my
life will change is freeing. I do worry about Cash and what will
happen with his situation, but I’m more worried about Tessa. She
loves Dustin, and this is definitely going to complicate

While we are finishing the
paperwork, I get a text. Uncertain if I should look, I glance at
Cash who takes my phone and has a puzzled look on his

“Everything okay?”

“Um, you might want to take
a look at this, Char-coal.” I excuse myself from the officer and
look. I can’t believe my own eyes. Tessa has texted me with a link
to the fight. This shit is all over the Internet. Relief washes
over me, and I now know exactly what I have to do. Dylan is getting
more than a damn restraining order, if I can help it.

“Officer, I have a
question. If I have him admitting what he did to me, how would
things change?”

He puts down his pencil,
and I can see a little bit of irritation, but I can’t blame him.
I’d hate to have to fill out something else, too. He takes my phone
and watches the video. Unable to read his reaction, I’m unsure of
what he is going to say.

“Ma’am, I do believe the
big man upstairs is on your side. This changes things entirely. No
longer will you need a 50C. You now need a 50B, and we can file
charges for second-degree rape. “ He pauses before turning to Cash.
“Mr. Montgomery, get ready because this is a double-edged sword for
you. The Sloans can use this against you as well.”

The inner happiness that I
was beginning to feel soon deflates when he speaks his last words.
I begin to shake my head no.

Dad looks at Cash, the
officer, and me. “Excuse me, officer. I think we might need to give
them a minute,” Dad says, and they leave us alone for a

Brushing my hair behind my
ear, Cash tells me, “Char-coal, you have to. There’s no other way.
I’m prepared to pay the price. Every moment that I have to pay will
be worth the day when I can walk out and hold you in my arms
forever with no chance of Dylan Sloan ever hurting you or another
girl again.”

Cash’s words, “another
girl,” ring in my ears. That’s what this is really about—saving
another girl from this asshole. Tears begin to stream down my face,
and as much as I just want to take the easy way out, I

BOOK: Loving Charley
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