Everyday after school, she looked around to find him lurking behind a tree somewhere, but he wasn't there. She later found out from Samuel that he was working on some cabin in the woods. "Can you tell him I'm looking for him?" there was a hint of sadness in her voice.
The thing about Tommy was he sometimes disappear for days without any news, and left her wondering if he was ghosting her. "Can you ask him if he's coming to the town's gathering this weekend? Because I'll be there, with my family too," she added. Samuel assured her, everyone in town will be there, including Tommy.
She was excited for the weekend, mostly because she hadn't seen Tommy for an entire week. She wasn't particularly excited to conceal her relationship from her parents, if it was even a relationship. Her father was officially going to be a very important figure in town, possibly their next Mayor. He was well known for his contribution to Bluebridge and the community, but to be elected as Mayor would be a major leap.
Literally everyone in town gathered at the Town Hall for the announcement. Even though the hall can only accommodate about 100 people, everyone else scattered outside the building in the bazaar area, the tents for dining areas, dancing, raffles, and other activities for the event. It was the first time Charlene ever attended an event like that.
She was seated in the front row along side her mom and important town's people. The Mayor delivered a speech with praises for Bill Ludlow because he was the number one supporter of the new candidate as his tenure will soon expire.
Bill Ludlow was admired and well respected for his credibility, his success in his career and businesses, and also his family. His reputation was flawless, his influence in Bluebridge was vastly appreciated, it was a losing game for anyone to be his contender on the next election. The Mayor's office was already his.
Charlene was engaged in her father's speech when the corner of her eye caught him leaning against the wall by the door on the right, one foot on the wall, one hand in his pocket, and a toothpick on the corner of his lips. His ice-blue-eyes stared at her, a wide smile bloomed on her face. Mrs. Ludlow noticed the change in her behavior and looked to find Tom Raven at the other side of her attention. She elbowed her daughter, she returned her attention to the stage and Tom went out the door.
"Mom ... can I stay for awhile?" she asked after the formal gathering was done, her dad was getting ready to go to the Mayor's house for cocktails with town officials. Her mom hesitated, she tucked her daughter's hair behind her ears while contemplating on an answer. She knew it was 'that boy' that her daughter wanted to stay for. "Oh come on, Catherine, the kids love the fair ... let them stay here and have some fun, after all, Bill's gonna be Mayor next year, she should get to know her own town," the Mayor's wife persuaded her mom.
Catherine Ludlow put on a half smile, "I guess you can stay for awhile," she took a glimpse at Mandy and Kayla who were there too. "I'll have Travis wait for you at the parking lot," Travis was the driver. "You'll come straight home afterwards, alright?" her mom made sure. She hugged her mom with joy. "We'll be at the Mayor's house, not sure when we'll get home, but you are not to stay too late, young lady," Mrs. Ludlow added.
"Thanks mom, I'll see you later," then she disappear with Mandy and Kayla.
They went straight to the dining tent and tried all different kinds of delicious food, most of them were potlucks from local residence, others from local restaurant owners who went out of their way to contribute for the community. As she was stuffing her face with fried chicken and mac and cheese, Tom went over to her from behind and spoke softly in her ear, "Hey there, beautiful." He laughed at how adorable she was as she was trying to swallow everything in her mouth before she could even say a word.
It's always nice when he calls her beautiful, all the while she was swooned by how good he looked in a casual T-shirt underneath a flannel shirt. "Tommy! Where have you been?" the first thing that came out of her mouth was a protest of his absence.
"I was fixing a cabin by the woods, were you looking for me?" he taunt her.
She landed a soft punch on his chest to state the obvious.
"'I'm sorry ... it was a lot of work, but it's almost finished," he took her hand and held it tight.
"Can I visit you while you work?"
"You can come when it's finished in a few days." He than told her what the cabin was, and how excited it was for him to finally get it fixed.
He took her and the girls to the bazaar, bought her cotton candy, played the carnival games. The town's people recognized who they were, an odd couple for sure, raised a few eyebrows especially from the girls whom Tommy had been with and some older ladies who knew exactly who they were. Charlene looked comfortable hooking arms with Tommy, leaned her head on his shoulder as they walk around the areas.
Couples were seen holding hands, showing public display of affections, courting on garden tables. Soon enough, they were separated from everyone else and made their way to an empty tent that was used for storage. They went inside to be away from prying eyes of small town people and found themselves alone, finally.
Their hands were still clasped together, she felt close to him as she wrapped her arm around him like he was hers. She never felt that way before with a guy, she was falling in love with him. "I really like you, Tommy," she wanted to make sure that he knows.
They were facing each other, he smiled shyly, "I think I liked you first."
Her heart was racing when their eyes locked, she took both his hands, "Then why haven't you kissed me yet?" He pressed his lips together, he was wondering the same thing.
"Because ... " he tried to pick the right words, "If I do ... " he looked away briefly, "I'm afraid that I may not be able to stop," it was an honest truth.
She was amused by his answer, "I don't mind," she dared him. He glanced at her, she was pulling him closer. "Kiss me already, then," she said. Her heart was about to jump out from her head.
He stepped forward, pushing her to step back to a pole, "Okay," he looked her deep in the eyes, "Here goes ... " he wrapped her arms around him, leaned his head closer to her and gave her a kiss.
She held her breath for that few seconds their lips touched. They locked eyes and wondered what the other one was thinking. His lips were soft, tender and moist to the touch, his hand was warm on her cheek. He pulled himself back for a moment to see her response. She loved it. She cupped his face with both hands and pulled his face close to hers. He went for the second time, pulled her waist toward him, their breathing was heavier this time and when her lips were slightly parted, his tongue made it's way inside her mouth.
Her heart was pounding, her head felt light, she responded to his tongue so naturally as if she had done this many times before. She tasted him and loved the way he felt inside her mouth. A sigh escaped in her breath. Everything she had read in books, and all the scenes she saw in movies, she had imagined how it would be, but it was nothing compared to the real thing.
They were lost in that kiss, they were tightly wrapped around each other but it just felt like they weren't close enough. She lifted her leg around his hip, pulled him towards her, her long beautiful leg was exposed as her dress hiked up from the gesture. He slid his hand along her thigh and felt the hair on her body stood up. When a strap of her dress fell off her shoulder, he almost lost it, he ran his lips to her cheek, made it's way pass her ear and down to her neck. Her whole body shivered, she wanted him to kiss her everywhere, she buried her finger in his hair as his head was now lower near her shoulder.
One little flick of her hanging dress would've exposed her undoubtedly gorgeous breast, but he lifted the strap back to her shoulder, buried his face in the curve of her neck, with his breath still heavy from the surge of passion that was still building up inside him, "Charlie," he called out to her. Her eyes were hazy, she went for his lips and was not ready to let him pull away from her. "Charlie," he said under his breath, he broke the kiss.
She was panting and dazed, she didn't want to stop. He looked at her face, flushed with desire, if she only knew how much he wanted her, right there and then. He kissed her forehead, "I think we should get out of here before somebody finds us," he exhaled deeply.
"No one's gonna find us here," she didn't want it to be over.
He let her leg down and tidied her skirt, "I don't trust myself with you here," he brushed her cheek with the back of his hand. She was much too precious, it wasn't a proper place for her.
She held him close and put her head against his shoulder. He felt her in her embrace, she cared for him like no one has ever cared for him before. He held back his urges, it was far too soon, he was afraid of how much he felt for her, and how little confidence he had of it ever going to work between them. He kissed her shoulder, "Come on, let's get you out of here," he said.