The Space Between Us

By: Anie Michaels

Prologue

The familiarity of his arms was like a drug. No matter what I was feeling – happy, sad, panicked, flustered, agitated, angry – when his arms wrapped around me, so did peace. I moved my chin up to look at his face. Dark, thick, beautifully long lashes dusted across his cheekbones as he slept – lashes many women would kill for. And although the lashes were feminine to an extent, when his eyes were open there was no mistaking his masculinity. Eyes the color of slate gray hid behind those lashes, and when he used them to look me over, when he perused my body with them, I could feel the smoothness of the granite they resembled silking over my skin.

His face was beautiful. A strong square jaw left room for one dimple that sat on his left cheek. His unmarred skin was smooth and creamy besides just the few dark freckles that gave him a distinct look. We were both still young, just eighteen, but he was already so manly I shivered to think what he would look like in five or ten years.

I leaned up to press a gentle kiss just at the bottom of his chin and as he roused I pretended to look apologetic, but really I wanted him awake. I wanted him, period.

“Awake already?” His voice rasped, still groggy from sleep. “What time is it?”

“I don't know,” I replied honestly as I trailed kisses along his jaw, following the line of his jaw down the slope of his neck. He pulled away to look at me.

“Charlie,” he said softly to me. “Are you sure? I don't want to hurt you,” he said all too sweetly as he placed his hand on the side of my face.

“I feel fine,” I whispered, trying to convince him I was indeed ok.

“Aren't you, uh, sore?” He asked sheepishly. I grinned at him and shrugged my shoulders.

“Asher, I know I lost my virginity a few hours ago, but I was far from chaste before that. I'm not sore at all.” He gave me a concerned look.

“You'd tell me if you were hurt, right?” I nodded at him. “You'll tell me to stop if it gets to be too much?” I nodded again and then leaned up to press my mouth to his.

“You're already too much,” I said against his lips. “But I get what you mean.” And with that he took me under him and made love to me for the second time in our lives. Loving him was easy and beautiful, and I wish I’d taken more time to cement the memories in my mind. There was no way to know that in such a short time everything would be taken from me. Everything.





Part I





Chapter One



I heard the thunk-thunk of something hitting the ground next to me, but I didn’t look up. I just continued to draw in my notebook. It wasn't my choice to move to a new town and not having anyone to spend recess with wasn’t making my first day at a new school any easier. The pencil in my hand trailed lead across the paper and I know eventually it will look like something, but right now it's just lines and scribbles. All my drawings start out that way. My hand just kind of goes where the pencil takes it, but it always turns into something.

More thunks. More rocks and pine cones landed near me and I finally turned my head to see where they are coming from.

“Hey. New girl.” A boy with red hair and freckles covering his face stood at the bottom of the hill I am sitting on. His hand went up over his eyes trying to keep the sun out. “New girl,” he said again.

“Yeah?” I answered.

“What grade are you in?” He shouted at me.

“Fifth,” I yelled back.

“What's your name?”

“Charlie.”

“Charlie?”

I paused and tried not to roll my eyes. I had to deal with this my whole life.

“Yes. My name is Charlie and I'm a girl.”

“That's a pretty stupid name,” he said through laughter. I turned back to my drawing, not willing to debate with him about it. I've been dealing with it since I started school. I never knew why my parents chose a boy's name, but it didn't matter. I was stuck with it. More gray lines appeared, circling around each other, some darker than others. Then something bounced painfully off of the back of my head. My hand reached up to the injury and my head snapped back to look behind me again. Another rock headed straight for me but I ducked to the side to avoid it.

“Hey!” I yelled at the red-headed boy who was now taking aim at me again. “That hurt!”

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