“I guess it feels like something switched in him, but I just don’t have a clue what,” Charlotte explained after a while, sliding back her sugary soda before demanding another. “And the worst part is that I can’t figure out if the switch was good or bad.” She looked down at her Blackberry, praying for the text.
“He just might be the one thing in your life you can never fully control,” Eleanor mumbled, mostly to herself.
“I don’t know if I believe that,” the familiar silky voice admitted from Charlotte’s left side. A rush of relief washed over her as she whirled around, a blissful smile playing on her lips.
Jackson grinned, and slid his hand around the base of her neck, pulling Charlotte in for a long and lazy kiss. Her heart raced as she tasted him, sweet mint mixing in with something else – something rubberlike and vaguely familiar. He teased her mouth open, his tongue finding Charlotte’s as his fingers gently twisted into her hair. Charlotte inhaled sharply, tasting the rancid chemicals on her own tongue. She choked on her own uneven breath while he sunk into her, oblivious to his apparent inebriated state.
“Good to see you too,” she greeted, his arm hooking around her waist. With a forceful tug, he drew Charlotte closer, his hand drifting down from her waist. Charlotte’s face blanched with fear. She shooed his wandering hand with hers almost instinctively.
His girlfriend shot Jackson a cautionary frown, but he only shrugged, blatantly admitting he didn’t care what she thought. He instead smoothed the crinkles in his Armani coat with his free hand, allowing it to pause only in his pocket. He tossed the Cartier ring box impatiently as his foot tapped involuntarily.
He was not conspicuously tall, but to Eleanor his features were striking in an almost overbearing way. His hair was coiffed up; the dark locks brushed back from his temples. Yet it was his eyes that were peculiarly cold. Small glints of ferocity peered through the pools of blue-grey.
It was a face to be dominated by and never to challenge, patronize, or pity. It was a face that induced fear in Eleanor – and all looking on for that matter – despite what she’d been told about her best friend’s boyfriend.
It became clear quite soon that Jackson was more than just a pretty face and silky hair. Something about the way he held Charlotte’s hand, or in the way he curled her dark tresses and gazed at her unfalteringly. It was how he moved when she did, his tense and muscular body instinctively molding around her smaller frame. All of it confirmed to Eleanor his wholehearted enthrallment with her…to an alarming degree.
“You must be Jackson, Charlotte’s boyfriend?” Eleanor offered in the silence, hoping to ease their inevitably awkward introductions along.
“And you must be the best friend,” Jackson replied, extending his hand out to her. A strange smell wove its way to the girls’ nostrils, stinging and burning in their noses. Eleanor couldn’t place the peculiar rancid odor that washed over her, but Charlotte did immediately. “Eleanor is it?”
Eleanor met him halfway, shaking his hand firmly and nodding in response. His hand was hot and clammy, and it trembled as she grasped it. She looked carefully into his dilated blue-grey eyes, and found herself squirming uncomfortably in his presence. “I’ve heard so much about you,” he grinned, sending shivers down Eleanor’s spine.
“All good things I hope,” she forced a laugh. Eleanor braced herself on the bar table, collecting her thoughts.
“Mostly,” Jackson teased, his eyes dropping from Eleanor’s before he slide his arm around Charlotte’s waist again. He tugged her closer and smiled as if he’d won something when she leaned on his shoulder reluctantly.
Something felt off about the entire exchange to Eleanor even in her drunken state. Her Charlotte was never ever submissive and always had her way no matter the cost. It was one of the things she envied most about her best friend when they were younger.
And now standing in the Boom Boom Room at 10:30pm on New Year’s Eve, it became apparent that this Charlotte Tate had been led astray by a storm of blue-grey eyes and coiffed brown hair. It was as if someone had taken over this Charlotte’s body and compelled her to fall in love…with Jackson Langley nonetheless, leaving her best friend drowning with an anchor fastened to each ankle.
“Would you like me to take your coat, Charlotte Belle?” Jackson inquired, his voice too sweet as he looked to her for her answer. She smiled in response, turning to let her boyfriend slip her Acne leather jacket from her shoulders.
He was caught for a moment, admiring her beauty before he shook his head and planted a light (and let’s face it cliché) kiss on her cheek. They watched as he weaved his way to the back of the VIP section in pursuit of the coatroom. On his way, Jackson angrily shoved drunk party-goers out of his path, not bothering to look twice when they fell or turned to confront him.
Charlotte couldn’t help noticing the sets of eyes trailing up, down, and around every inch of her newly exposed body as the cold new air nipped at her bare arms and legs. And under the vibrant party lights, her olive skin glowed and pricy Saint Laurent dress sparkled.
She self-consciously fiddled with the straps of her dress, blushing from the unsolicited attention. Eleanor swallowed the last of her apple martini, clearing her throat before speaking. “He’s proper fit,” she grinned. She shook her head in approval, omitting all of her qualms.
“I mean…y-yeah…umm, I-I guess he is pretty good-looking,” Charlotte stuttered out, the words tumbling from her mouth awkwardly. She subconsciously rubbed her week-old bruises, inwardly wincing at her own touch. “I guess I just don’t really see him in that way.”
“So you two haven’t…” she trailed off, her voice lowering, a slightly relieved yet more amused smile playing on her lips. “Done the deed?”
Charlotte looked down at her feet, pretending to concern herself with a scuff on her black Louboutins. “It’s just something I plan to save for marriage…I thought you knew that.” Charlotte flushed, looking back in the direction Jackson headed. She expected Eleanor to laugh or at the very least say something snarky about her being Amish or the Virgin Mary.
“Well as archaic as that is to me,” Eleanor began, slipping the apple from the rim of her glass. “I had a feeling you’d never done anything in that department. You would’ve told me.”
Eleanor’s face was suddenly serious when she looked to Charlotte questioningly. “Of course. I tell you everything, don’t I?” Charlotte fidgeted awkwardly, checking to insure the people beside them weren’t listening.
“As you should,” Eleanor joked, letting out a comforted sigh. She didn’t like the idea of him around Charlotte…let alone with her in the biblical sense.
“Speaking of all of this boyfriend-type stuff,” Charlotte began, wisely tiptoeing away from their current discussion. “When will I meet yours?”
“He’s just over there,” Eleanor motioned to the corner. She grabbed Charlotte’s hand, tugging her from the bar. “You ask and I answer.”
* Authors Note*
Hi Everyone! If anyone is reading this I'm so glad you made it to this point! I hope you like my writing so far! I'm going to try to update at least once a week! THANK YOU <3