Revel (Second Chance Romance #1)(8)

By: Alison Ryan



But for whatever reason, he pressed forward with it. He’d later say it was as if something was pulling him toward that bridge.

And that something was Charlotte Sanders.



********



Charlotte hadn’t known where to go or what to do after her talk with Allyn. It was her day off from her job as a server at the Dixie Garden, a soup and salad place off of Church Street that catered to college students and young professionals. She worked there as much as she could when she wasn’t in class, and her hope was that now that school was out, she could pick up some more shifts.

But now she didn’t even have a place to live past the next couple of weeks, and her stress levels were beyond anything she had experienced since she’d first moved to Charleston. Part of her wondered if she should just go back home to Nashville, quit while she was ahead.

But she was determined not to do that. She’d made the decision to move and go to school here, and she didn’t want to not finish what she started. That wasn’t the type of person she was.

She just needed to clear her head so she could think of a good plan to stay here for the summer. The thought of going back to Nashville with her tail between her legs and the sound of her father saying, “I told you so” was enough to inspire her to at least try to figure a way out of this dilemma.

A walk sounded like a good way to clear her head. She knew just the place.

She’d often walked over the Ravenel Bridge, or the Cooper River Bridge as some locals still called it, to do her heavy thinking. It was a beautiful white passage that joined the peninsula of Charleston to the island of Mt Pleasant. It was grand and gorgeous, and at its apex provided her with incredible views of the river, Fort Sumter, and Charleston Harbor.

Charlotte knew it was a long walk, a couple miles at least, but she had all the time in the world, and her apartment was the last place she wanted to be right now.

As she walked, she thought about what it was that had drawn her to this city in the first place. Her father had never understood why she’d want to go back to a place that held so much pain for all of them. As far as he was concerned, the city of Charleston was cursed, and he refused to ever visit Charlotte there, no matter how much she would have liked him to.

Charlotte supposed part of it was that her mother’s death was still such a mystery. They had never found out who had hit her and fled; there had been no witnesses and no one had come forward with any information. It killed her to know that there would never be justice for her mother and by proxy, for her family. Charlotte struggled with that, and maybe part of her felt if they stayed in this city, if they showed the town they weren’t afraid of it, they could somehow be presented with the answers the Sanders family was so desperate to know.

But Charlotte knew that, in reality, it was ridiculous to think they would ever know what happened. It had been almost 7 years and there were still no answers. Her mother’s ashes sat in a vase back in Nashville, one that stayed right by her father’s bedside, something he saw every morning when he woke up to a life without the woman he had loved so much.

Charlotte and Vanessa had walked on egg shells around him since that night, afraid to disappoint him in any way after what he’d lost. Maybe that was another reason Charlotte had to leave him. She couldn’t breathe in a house full of such anguish. And she knew where she’d chosen to go, her father would never follow.

But now she was fucking it up. As she walked up the Ravenel from East Bay she could feel tears coming down her cheeks. She brushed them away, embarrassed to be showing such demonstrative emotion in a public place. Sorority girls ran in packs by her, their ponytails swinging behind them, sweet smiles on their faces. They were so happy and Charlotte envied that; beyond the privilege they had, she envied their contentment. She wasn’t sure if she’d ever be able to know what that was.

And they had each other. And Charlotte had no one.

Dammit, she thought. This walk was supposed to help me feel better, not make me have a nervous breakdown.

Once she reached the middle of the bridge, she sat down on one of the benches overlooking Charleston Harbor. A pair of mothers with jogging strollers sat adjacent to her, both blathering on about disposable versus cloth diapering. The discussion seemed curiously heated and Charlotte was tempted to join in, just to see what the big deal was. She was just so desperate to talk to someone, anyone. To be seen.

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