It’s Just Too Late - Chapter 7

Ben and Charlie meet in this chapter!
"Sorry we're late," I smile awkwardly, and Ben looks at me with a strange look on his face. Alex must notice it as well, because he glances at me as well, like he’s looking for the reason for Ben’s glance.

Standing up from the table, Ben extends his hand to Alex as Alex introduces himself, "I’m Alex, Christina’s boyfriend." He smiles politely.
Ben nods, with a smirk at me, and replies, "Ben, nice to meet you. And this must be Charlie?" Ben asks, looking at me. I simply nod, and glance down at Charlie as him and Ben shake hands.

"Well," I stutter and clear my throat, "Let’s look at the menus, shall we?" I speak, trying to make this a little less awkward. I pull out a chair for Charlie, as Alex pulls the chair out across from Ben, for me.

Once we’re all seated, the waitress comes over to ask for our drink orders. Surprisingly, Ben and I both order martinis and Alex and Charlie both order water. "Alex, will you play tick-tac-toe with me?" Charlie asks suddenly, and I notice the jealous look on Ben’s face.
Awkwardly responding, Alex answers, "Um… Sure bud, but how about you figure out what you want to eat first."

"So, Charlie. Your mom told me you had parent-teacher conferences today, how’d that go?" Ben asks, trying to add himself into the conversation. I’d been forced to trade seats with Charlie, so now I’m right next to Ben, so that Alex and Charlie could play tic-tac-toe.

Frowning slightly, Charlie glances at me first, before looking back at Ben, "Well…" he starts, and I have to take a sip of my drink to keep myself from laughing at his expression. The ability to stall, is something he gets from Ben, and from the look on Ben’s face, he knows that. "I don’t have the best grades, but I try really hard. Now my mom wants to take my video games away though." Charlie sighs.

"Charles Benjamin, don’t you dare try to make me look bad here. You know why I’m taking your video games away. Tell the whole story." I intervene, and see Charlie’s shoulder’s slump.
"She warned me at the beginning of the year that if I didn’t do my work in class then she’d take the games. I just… get kind of distracted and don’t want to do work." He explains, like it’s no big deal.

Rolling my eyes, I start to intervene again, but Ben cuts me off before I have the chance, "It’s alright bud, you come by it pretty honest. When I-" he stops, when I throw him a glare, "When your mom was young," he clarifies, "She used to get really distracted during class too." Ben smirks, obviously referring to when we were together in high school.

"You knew my mommy when she was little?" Charlie asks, with an interested grin on his face.
"Yeah, bud, your mom and I go way back." Ben smiles, and Charlie gets the exact smile on his face.
I notice Alex looking at me, but what Charlie says next makes us all fix our eyes on him. "Did you know my dad too?"

Ben’s eyes meet mine, begging me to answer the question, and I sigh. This is just like Ben, leaving me to do the hard part on my own. "Well, Charlie… that’s why we’re here tonight. Ben… Is your dad." I speak softly, and watch his eyes go wide.
"Really?" Charlie smiles, "So, you’re going to live with us now?" He asks, with a newfound light in his eyes.

"Oh, no Bud, But I was hoping we could hang out some." Ben speaks finally.
"Of course! I’ve been waiting for this! I’ll have to show you my Pokémon collection, and all of my movies, and my cars, and my games!" Charlie mumbles excitedly, "Oh, and my soccer team. Mom, can he come to the soccer game on Saturday? Please, please, please!" He pleads with me, and puts on his best puppy dog eyes.

Taking a deep breath, and looking at Alex, who looks slightly annoyed, I respond, "Sure, if it’s ok with Ben." I answer, and huge smiles break out on both of their faces. I see the waitress approaching from a distance, so I down the rest of my martini, and when she arrives I ask for another. Actually I should just say, "Keep ‘em coming."
Published: 3/16/2012
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