Secretly crushing Crushed by a tragedy
Charlee May’s been crushing on Dexter Hollingworth since she was fifteen. Five years later, a horrific skiing disaster at Mason’s Ski Lift Resort leaves her millionaire dad critically injured and her mom dead at the hands of Dexter operating the lifts. Charlee is suddenly the sole caretaker for her little brother while their world falls apart. Dexter couldn’t be more different from Charlee. He’s tattooed, avoids exclusive relationships and his Dad has a fair share of illegal dealings. With Dexter’s reputation, almost everyone believes he planned the Mason’s skiing disaster. And after all these years he’s still crushing on Charlee May, the girl who’s too good for him. When this cruel twist of fate ties Charlee’s family and Dexter’s reputation together, Charlee and Dexter wonder if their feelings are reciprocated, while Dexter discovers his dad is trying to steal the May’s millionaire fortune. But like an addiction, one look, one touch, one taste—they’re hooked no matter the consequences.
Dad and I look at each other at the same time and I need to speak first or else I’ll cop it, I know I will, and I need to explain that I was just being silly and I’m doing the best I can to be nice for Darcy.
However, getting in first, Dad says, “I’m never getting out of here.”
He doesn’t rub my shoulders or pull me to the bed so he can lean in, trembling with the effort, to kiss my forehead like he used to before a bedtime story. There’s no contact, no connection.
I want my mom. I don’t want to be Darcy’s mom.
There, I thought it. Did you hear that, Dad? I’m not ready for this. I’m not ready because Mom shouldn’t be dead and you’re not dead yet. You hear me?
He just says, “Charlee? You hear that?”
I bop my head up, left, down. It started as an I-don’t-know but I’m not sure what I did in the end. My brain didn’t compute his message. Refuses to compute it.
“Oh, Charlee.” Dad sighs a ragged breath.
This shouldn’t have happened. My best friend Rosa’s dad isn’t like this, so why should mine be? My dad’s not even fifty and hers is fifty-five! Dad winces as he tries to push himself up in bed and it’s so feeble that I can’t watch the same man who used to pin me down and tickle me ‘til I had cramps of pain from laughing struggle like this. I can’t watch, so instead his grunts pierce my ears because I close my eyes. I clench my fists by my thighs until he stops making those God-awful sounds and…
And would you look at that! My father is sitting upright.
“My liver now isn’t—”
“Dad!” Darcy hooks his arm around the doorjamb and skids to a stop inside. He puts his hand to his chest and says, “She’s coming right now.”
“Okay, okay. Come here. Whoa, did she give you coffee?”
“No, I just came here as quick as I could, Dad. I promise she said she’ll come real soon.”
“You’ve done great. Come sit down.”
Darcy, smiling and satisfied with what he’s achieved for Dad, trots over to his chair and sits on the edge. He pulls out his handheld game from his pocket and starts jamming buttons. Then, apparently remembering something, pulls out his cell from his other pocket and starts texting.
Dad’s eyes say come here so I scoot closer.
“He’s a smart ki—” Dad starts, but footsteps are approaching our door. He says, “No tomfoolery with him. You tell him straight up, Charlee. You’re Melissa now and I am —”
“Walter!” someone says from the door.
It’s Lisa. She’s my favorite, because she sometimes has a sour candy for Darcy to suck on, and she always says how Dad’s improving, giving him smiles and pats on the back.
As Mom to Dexter, Lisa has the same shocking blue eyes as he does. She wiggles her hips at the door, fingering her pocket. She has a somewhat round face, whereas Dexter’s is square and bulging with veins and all that sexy stuff I could only dream of touching, but Lisa Hollingworth is cute, in a Mom way. I bet if Dexter never opened that potty mouth I used to hear while I ogled him from the sidelines of the football field he’d look like a Mama’s Boy, too. But when he opens that mouth, his voice is sex oozing from those luscious lips.
“Watermelon,” she says to Darcy.
Darcy drops his electronics on his chair as if they are plastic toys from a McDonald’s Happy Meal and grabs the twenty-cent candy from her. Shame, really. That kid doesn’t know value. But there’s something comforting in that; Darcy is still learning, and I guess I can still tell him our Dad is going to be fine.
Rebecca Berto is the author or the dark contemporary/literary novella, PRECISE and the upcoming new adult contemporary romance novel, DROWNING IN YOU. She is also a freelance editor.
She writes stories that are a bit sexy, and straddle the line between Literary and Tear Your Heart Out. She gets a thrill when her readers are emotional reading her stories, and gets even more of a kick when they tell her so. She’s strangely imaginative, spends too much time on her computer, and is certifiably crazy when she works on her fiction.
Rebecca Berto lives in Melbourne, Australia with her boyfriend and their doggy.