At first Charlie thought she had been hallucinating, conjuring up an image of her love racing forward to protect the girl and save the day. Also, shirtless, because frankly, if she was going to dream up her last moment with Royce, might as well make it a good dream.
But it wasn't a dream, because when he stopped in front of her, a fleshy shield against the predators, she could feel the heat from his body and the drops of water running off his shoulders and onto her face. He was really there, bare-naked except for his pants and steaming like a tank engine. Literally. He had to have run through the forest in order to catch up with her- how, she would never understand and at the moment, chalked it up to miraculous stamina- and caught at least half a gallon of dripping rain water while he was at it. He should have been freezing, in the process of catching a cold, or bloody mad, but all he did was stare calmly at the approaching threat.
"W-what are you... I mean, how did you... why..." She was babbling and shivering as cold and fear started to chug through her veins in equal amounts, shoving her body firmly into fight-or-flight mode, and ordering her to run away. "Royce, y-you... you c-can't be here... s-sh-should-dn't... run! Just run! P-please, j-just go!"
Paralysis broken, she spun and rammed her shoulder into his side, trying to force him to move. But she might as well have been pushing a brick wall. He didn't even have the decency to wobble. Didn't budge an inch, despite her frantic pushing and pleading. In the back of her head, she was wondering whether her desperate need to get him away was because she didn't want him hurt or she didn't want him near her mother. Both were legitimate fears, and both shared the same solution of getting him out, so perhaps it wasn't that big of a deal what her motive was.
All she knew was that she had to make him leave. It wasn't like she was prepared to selflessly give her life for the sake of protecting him or anything. She had NO desire to die, period. But there was a fear bubbling beneath the surface of her honest-to-goodness terror and worry. A fear that, had she been in her right and sane mind, she would have disregarded as silly.
But stuck between a decrepit car and a hard place, with real danger closing in and more danger awaiting her down the road, Charlie's mind was more than a little frazzled, and she had it stuck in her head that if she let him stay rather than making him go, either to be eaten by wild animals or torn apart by her mother, that he would finally wise up and realize that she was too much trouble to bother with. He would see everything that she tried to keep hidden and secret and safe and know that she was not worth his time and effort and affection.
Just like everyone else did.
"P-please, Royce," she begged, almost ready to cry, "I'm b-beg-ggin you, please j-just-st go!"