Royce's eyes were on Noah, so he completely missed how Charlie's brows furrowed and her jaw fell. "That"? "It"? What in the world was he talking about? Confused, Charlie glanced toward the table, thinking something else had to have caught his attention. Something odd and unusual. Something inanimate. Surely he wasn't talking about Noah.
But there was nothing else except Noah that could have spurned Royce's... disgust? Is that was it was? But... but... what!?
Noah must have sensed her eyes on him, even though she stood out of his view, because he shifted in his seat enough so that he could look at her while still keeping Royce in his peripheral vision. His deep blue eyes were calm- a stark contrast to how she felt at the moment- but she found herself taking a breath and slowing her racing nerves. Noah had the face of an innocent angel, and regardless of his past, she knew he wasn't a bad kid.
Either her 'motherly instincts' were kicking in, or working at the clinic taught her to care for and protect anything small and helpless, but to her surprise, she felt the early prickling of irritation toward Royce. Understandably, he was probably being irritable because he viewed Noah as an intrusion on what was supposed to be their first date-like event. But still- Noah was just a kid! And a kid all on his own, to boot. Royce just didn't understand...
Now her temper was getting the better of her, and with her already being in an overly emotional state, Charlie could feel the tears building in the back of her eyes. No! She braced her arms on the table, and under the cover of her hair falling around her face, quickly blinked them back. The distraction also gave her a chance to clear her head, and when she looked up again at Royce, her expression was calm but determined.
"Royce, can I speak with you a minute? Outside?"
Without waiting for him to respond, she glanced at Noah and smiled. "We'll be right back. Just hang tight."
Noah nodded silently, and Charlie straightened, ran her fingers through her hair to straighten it again, and marched straight toward the still-open front door. Only when she was down the stairs and a little away from the building would she speak, because as the words began to settle in her mind, she realized that they were important.