Despite all the bad things that had happened in her life, Charlie had never prayed harder than she did now.
God, please let the floor open up and swallow me now.
She felt stupid, scared, and a tad violated. Alexander Crowne had seemed nice, funny, and above all, normal. He hadn't given off any creepy vibes at all. But watching Royce turn from shy to furious at the mention of his name made her feel used and dirty. No, he hadn't touched her, but she suddenly felt like he had, and squirmed in her place on the floor. She bumped her head against Abbey's side in time with her self-deprecating chants.
Stupid. Stupid. Stupid. Stupid. Stu-
Hand. Callused fingers. Light pressure.
"I'm not angry at you."
Without warning, Charlie started trembling all over again, but it wasn't fear racing under her skin. More like surprise, confusion, and... other things she couldn't quite put a finger on.
This was... certainly something new. Rather than the fury she had expected (or the apathy she had feared)- the only two things she knew to expect from such a screw up- here was Royce apologizing. To her. What planet did she suddenly land on?
Suddenly, Royce pulled away and with the loss of his hand, Charlie's cheek felt cold. She raised a hand to rub warmth back into it as she watched him look around, frustrated and uneasy, looking a little as lost as she had felt just seconds ago.
Because she suddenly realized that she wasn't scared anymore. Sure, there was still apprehension for what was going to happen next. She was sure that the corner by the dumpster probably wasn't the only shadowy place Alexander Crowne would lurk. But...
Hmm, best leave these thoughts for later, came that voice again, and for once, she agreed with it. So when Royce hesitantly asked if she trusted him, she didn't hesitate with her answer.
With one hand squeezing Abbey's fur for courage, Charlie reached out with her other hand to grip Royce's fingers on his knee. She tried to look reassuring, but was barely able to manage a small smile. "'Course I do. One hundred percent."