Chapter Two: Sixteen Years Later
Charlotte looked around the room calmly, nodding at Naomi when their eyes met. As Charlotte continued to look around the room, a sudden movement caught her eye and she looked back at Naomi to see her looking anxious, shaking her head quickly. She raised her head slightly, trying to get a better idea of who Naomi was speaking to when a pair of arms wrapped around her shoulders, hot breath in her ear.
"Hello, beautiful." A low, husky voice whispered, and Charlotte exclaimed in disgust and moved the arms away from her shoulders, not bothering to turn and see who it was.
"Andrew, please, I am really not in the mood tonight." She said flatly, and Andrew chuckled and sat down opposite her at the table.
"In a bad mood, are we?" He asked, and Charlotte rolled her eyes and handed him the letter she had received from him earlier. He took a moment to open it and skim through it until he realized that it was his letter, and he scoffed and tucked it into his jacket pocket.
"Didn't like it? I personally considered it a magnificent use of words on my part." He said in a posh tone, acting insulted.
"Give it up, Andrew. I am always kind to my admirers but you, Andrew, are an exception because I loathe you and I want nothing to do with a boy like you." Her words with calm, yet filled with hatred as she spoke. For a moment a flicker of hurt crossed Andrew's face before his familiar cocky expression returned. He stood up, beginning to walk past her before leaning down to whisper in her ear,
"Well, you're just going to have to deal with me, princess."
Charlotte ignored his words and let him leave, searching the crowd again to find Naomi. She was nowhere to be seen. Charlotte swore under her breath and stood up to search for her when she heard Mr Rhodes' voice booming from the front of the room. She turned her head, locking eyes with Mr Rhodes. They stared at eachother for a moment before Mr Rhodes smirked, looking away and continuing his speech. Charlotte raised her eyebrows and turned her body to face the front, watching him contently.
"As you all know, this evening has been dedicated to a very old friend of mine who passed away eight years ago. He was one of my closest friends and his family still mourns him to this day."
Charlotte resisted the urge to laugh out loud, staring at Mr Rhodes with an undeniable hatred. She could feel the eyes of the crowd on her but ignored them, continuing to stare straight forward.
"Charles Wendtworth," He boomed loudly, causing everyone to look back at him quickly. "A friend, a husband...and a father."
He took the time to glance at her when he said those last words, and she glared back at him.
"His wife, Mrs Rose Wendtworth, could not be here with us tonight due to a few small issues, but we have Charles' daughter, Charlotte Wendtworth, to say a few words."
Charlotte began making my way through the crowd until she reached the front, taking the microphone from Mr Rhodes' hand without even a glance his way.
"My father was, as most say, an incredible man. I cannot deny that as father and daughter we had our differences, but he was always there for me even through my toughest times." Charlotte paused then, looking around the crowd and still not seeing Naomi anywhere. She locked eyes with Andrew though, and he winked, blowing her a mocking kiss as he leaned against the wall at the back of the room.
"With his passing came sadness and grief, which still has not left me to this day. There is a part of me that is missing, and that is a father. But also in his passing came an extreme fortune- the money he made from his job was passed on to my mother and I, and it warms my heart to know that we are still moving up in life together."
At that moment she noticed people in the crowd begin murmuring, but she cleared my throat and continued, raising her voice to get their attention back.
"It is a true shame that my mother could not be here tonight, but this gives me the chance to talk about her." She took an unnecessary pause, becoming frustrated as more and more people started whispering to eachother.
"My mother, Rose Wendtworth, is a stunning woman. She has aged with grace and is still as healthy and happy as ever," She could hear the tone of her voice changing to one of annoyance, but as her voice trailed off she saw parts of the crowd begin to leave the room.
"And it makes me, Charlotte Wendtworth...proud to be...her daughter." Charlotte saw a movement beside her and turned her head to see Mr Rhodes adjusting his tie and walking away, taking a frozen Mrs Rhodes with him. As Charlotte studied Mrs Rhodes' expression more closely, she noticed that tears were streaming down her face and a sudden worry filled her and caused a lump in her throat. She looked around as people began piling out of the room, and she could hear incredible sobbing outside the ballroom. Eventually the only person still inside was Andrew, still leaning against the back wall. His face was pale and he gulped as Charlotte walked over to him quickly, demanding what was going on and why everyone was leaving the room.
She expected him to laugh and say something sarcastic like, they were all bored of her speech, but he just shook his head, a look of sympathy filling his eyes.
"Charlotte, I am so, so sorry." He said quietly, and she raised her hand to slap him when she froze, seeing a glimpse of the scene outside. Flashes of red and blue could be seen and the sobbing she heard was almost unbearable.
She slowly walked past Andrew, confused as to what was going on. Was someone hurt? Then Mr Rhodes came into view, speaking to a man in a blue suit, and she sped up her pace, a sudden anger filling her.
I bet he caused this on purpose just so he could embarrass me in front of all these people, Charlotte thought furiously, stalking out of the ballroom and into the icy air outside.
"Dean!" She yelled furiously, and he turned his head to look at her, which was when she slowed down and confusion filled her mind. Mr Rhodes was crying.
The man in the blue suit stepped forward, and she noticed the gold star badge he wore on his jacket.
"Ma'am, you need to come with us." He said sternly, reaching for her arm. Charlotte moved away, turning to look at Mr Rhodes when she saw it.
The ambulance, loading a stretcher into it- and even through the crowd of people she could just make out the pair of eyes staring at her.
Time seemed to slow down as she stared at the body being loaded into the ambulance, trying to understand what was going on before it hit her and she got out a choked whisper,