Charlie sat alone in her bedroom, staring at the wall. What the hell am I gonna do? She asked herself for what felt like the thousandth time. Each time she asked, she felt herself getting closer and closer to the answer… She just wished the answer was something – anything – else.
How had things gone downhill so quickly? She’d been so sure that inviting Dom to Remi and River’s party was a good idea. If Zayne would have confided in anyone about what was going on, it would be Dom. Charlie hadn’t told him much – just that she was worried about Zayne, and hoped Dom could get him to talk about what was going on.
He’d seemed eager enough – probably looking for any excuse to hang out with Zayne again, after how much he’d been ignored lately. And Charlie was so sure it would all work out – Dom would find out that it was all some kind of big misunderstanding about Eun, and Charlie could finally be free of the guilt that had been following her for the past few weeks.
Except now she felt guiltier than ever. It was her fault Dom was there that night… And with one little slip-up, Zayne had lost everything. Charlie tried to imagine how she’d feel if she’d suddenly lost all of her friends and had her reputation ruined the way her cousin had… And that just made her feel worse.
She’d just made things even harder for him, and was nowhere closer to finding out the truth. How much longer could she just sit by and do nothing about this?
Guess I don’t really have a choice, do I?
With a deep breath, Charlie lifted herself to her feet and headed downstairs.
She discovered her mother’s location almost instantly – Jocelyne’s voice carried easily through the closed living room door. Charlie could not quite make out what she was saying, but it was clear she was unhappy about something. She hesitated for a moment. Clearly this wasn’t the best time… But she just couldn’t wait any longer. I’ve gotta get this over with.
“Charlie.” A deep voice called her name. She turned to see her great-grandparents standing in the hallway, looks of concern on both of their faces. “I think your mom’s a little busy at the moment… Whatever it is, you should probably wait.” Jonas continued gently.
The girl shook her head. “I know, but… This is really important.” Charlie explained. “It can’t wait.”
Mari and Jonas exchanged a look. “What’s wrong, sweetie?” Her great-grandmother asked at last.
“I just… I have to talk to mom about something. That’s all.”
“Okay, honey.” Mari replied, her look of concern not entirely fading. “Well if either of you need anything, you know where to find us.”
With a nod, Charlie watched as Mari and Jonas headed off toward their bedroom. Then, she opened the living room door.
“Mark, come on. You can’t always pull that ‘Kids will be kids’ line!” Jocelyne sighed heavily in exasperation. “We’ve let this go on long enough!”
“Honey, I know. All I’m saying is –” Mark’s voice cut off abruptly as he caught sight of Charlie in the doorway.
Jocelyne turned around, her eyes narrowing as they came to rest upon her daughter. “You have a lot of explaining to do, young lady.” She rose to her feet as she spoke.
Oh God… What now?! “M-mom, I…”
“Do you know who I just got off the phone with?” Jocelyne asked. “Your Tante Clara.”
Shit. Charlie’s heart sank. Apparently last weekend’s party was no longer a secret.
“Would you like to explain where you were last weekend? Because your father told me you spent the night at Ben’s… But you didn’t, did you?”
Charlie shook her head. “There was a party at Tante Clara and Onkel Florian’s.” She confessed. “And I guess it got a little out of control… But I’m eighteen now, mom. And I wasn’t the one who decided to have a party when my parents were away. It’s not like I did anything wrong. I’m not a kid anymore.”
“You’re not.” Jocelyne agreed, still glaring at her daughter. “But Zayne is.”
“He was there too, wasn’t he? God, Charlie… How could you keep this from us? Zayne has no place at that kind of party. He’s just a kid!”
Is she for REAL?! Charlie wasn’t sure whether she wanted to laugh or cry. “You’ve gotta be kidding me, mom! You find out I lied to dad about where I went, got drunk off my ass at a party with a bunch of uni students way older than me, and you’re mad about ZAYNE?!”
Her mother’s brow furrowed in confusion. “What are you saying? You want me to be mad at you?!”
“I want you to GIVE A DAMN ABOUT ME, mom! For once in your life!”
“You heard me! The only one in this family you give a shit about is Zayne! And he’s not even your real kid!”
The silence that followed was deafening. Charlie struggled to fight back the tears that threatened to escape her eyes.
Jocelyne appeared to be at a complete loss for words.
“Charlie, honey…” Mark rose from the couch and stepped toward her, breaking the silence at last. “You don’t mean that.”
“Don’t call me ‘honey’, Mark! You’re not my dad.” Charlie snapped at him. “Can you just give me and mom some privacy? Please?”
The man’s face fell. “S-sure. I’ll just, uh…” He looked helplessly at Jocelyne for a moment before leaving the room without another word.
It was a few moments before Charlie or Jocelyne finally found their voices again.
“Charlotte, please sit down.” Her mother spoke at last, her voice pained. “We need to talk about this.”
After a moment’s hesitation. The girl did as she was told. Beside her, Jocelyne did the same.
“I’m sorry it came out like that. I just… I’ve wanted to say this for a long time.” Charlie’s voice was barely above a whisper. “But I was too afraid to.”
“Never be afraid to talk to me.” Her mother replied gently. “You know I’ll always listen, no matter what.”
Charlie took a slow, deep breath. This was definitely not the conversation she’d planned on having with her mother… But she couldn’t turn back now. “I guess… I kinda feel like you’re always putting Zayne first… For as long as I can remember. And it’s been getting worse and worse the older we get.” It was terrifying to finally explain her true feelings… But strangely satisfying too. “Kinda spoiling him, I guess. Giving him more attention and stuff… Know what I mean?” Her mother gave a small nod. “And it wasn’t until after Zayne moved out that it felt like you were finally putting me and Alex and Tony first… But then you still slip sometimes. And it makes me really mad. I thought things would be different now. That’s all.”
She reached up, brushing away a few stray tears that had managed to escape. After years of keeping them inside, her feelings were finally out in the open. But how would her mother react? God, I hope she doesn’t hate me.
Jocelyne appeared thoughtful, and did not reply for several long moments. “I never realized you felt that way.” She said at last. “But I promise, I love all of you. Equally. You’re my babies. And I’m sorry if you felt I was being unfair.”
“I know you never mean to do it. And I know Zayne doesn’t have his parents. I get that maybe you’re trying to make up for it or something? But…” Charlie shook her head. “Mom, you have no idea what it’s like feeling like your parents always put you second. It sucks.”
To her surprise, Jocelyne’s lips curled into a small smile. “Actually… I do have an idea. Believe it or not, I used to feel the exact same way you feel right now.”
“You did?” Charlie could not hide her surprise.
“I did. When I was growing up, it always felt like your Onkel Luc was the one getting all the attention. It felt like my parents always picked him over me…” She paused for a moment, clearing her throat softly before continuing. “I don’t even think they realized they were doing it. And they definitely didn’t realize how I felt about it… Because I never told them.”
“Is… Is that why you moved away from home? And why you and Onkel Luc didn’t get along when we were little?” She asked softly. Charlie and her sisters were never told the details, but it was no secret that there was a lot of tension between Jocelyne and her family before she moved back to Windenburg.
“Kind of.” Jocelyne replied. “It’s a very long story, but… I’ve always wondered if things would have been different if I’d told everyone how I was feeling sooner. I let it build and build for years. It was horrible.” She shook her head. “And if I could go back and do things differently, I think one of the first things I would do is be honest with everyone…” Jocelyne reached over, taking one of her daughter’s hands in hers for a moment.
“I’m so sorry. I never meant for you to feel this way.” Her mother continued. “And maybe I have been a little unfair… But I swear to you, I never meant for things to be that way. And I promise I’ll try to be more conscious of you and your feelings in the future, okay?”
Her daughter nodded gratefully. It felt like a weight she’d been carrying for years and years had finally been lifted from her shoulders. “I’m really glad we talked about this.” Charlie said seriously.
“Me too.” Jocelyne agreed. “But… Can you promise me something too?”
“Sure. What is it?”
“Just be honest with me, honey. Never be afraid to talk to me about how you’re feeling or if something’s troubling you. I’m always here for you.” Jocelyne pulled Charlie close to her for a moment, pressing her lips against her daughter’s temple.
Charlie felt her smile slowly disappear from her face at her mother’s words. Be honest… Oh God.
“M-mom?” She said softly, pulling away from her. “Speaking of honest, I… Well… That’s the whole reason I wanted to find you in the first place.”
“What is it?” Jocelyne’s brow furrowed in confusion.
The young girl bit her lip nervously. “I… Well, remember how I said I didn’t like you giving Zayne all that attention?”
Her mother nodded nervously.
“I guess… I kinda haven’t been telling you the whole truth. About Zayne, I mean. Because I didn’t want you worrying about him.”
“What do you mean?”
Charlie felt her nerves from earlier quickly returning. “Well, like… He’s been partying a lot. Drinking a lot. Um… Lying to people about his job… And how old he is?”
“He never wanted you to find out, so I’ve kinda helped cover for him.” Charlie confessed. “Remi and River too.” Part of her felt bad throwing her cousins under the bus, but she couldn’t stand lying anymore. “But now things are worse, I think.”
“Worse?” Charlie could not remember the last time she’d seen her mother so terrified. “Worse how?!”
“I think… I think he might be… Like… Involved in… Bad stuff.” Charlie felt like she was going to be sick. “Like… Like drugs, maybe?”
“DRUGS?!” In an instant, her mother was on her feet. “Oh my God, Charlie! How long have you known about this?!”
“W-well… I don’t know for sure… But I’ve suspected for like… Maybe a month?”
Jocelyne headed for the door without another word.
Charlie leapt from the couch, chasing after her as she crossed into the entryway. “Wait!” She cried out as her mother began searching for her car keys. “Where are you going?”
“We are finding Zayne and getting to the bottom of this!” Jocelyne cried. “Grab your coat. You’re coming too.”
“But mom, I –”
“Oh my God, Zayne?! Zayne, what happened?!”
“T-tante Joce… I… I wanna come home…”
Just want to take a quick second to celebrate THREE HUNDRED CHAPTERS of this Legacy 😮 (And what a 300th chapter this is! Haha welcome home, Zayne…)
Thank you all for your constant support of my writing and love for my characters. It means the world to me. ❤