I'm back. I guess my absence of twenty two days gave me a lot of thinking to do. So, I've thought and I'm better.

Better than ever.

Hold on, it's going to be a long ride home.

Charlie xoxo

Chapter 15- Dirt Off Your Shoulder

"Shannon, his funeral is practically on my birthday!" Charlotte sank back into her couch as she and Shannon watched Cruel Intentions 2: Manchester Prep.

"I know, Calixte. It's five days away from it. Are you flying down just for the funeral and then coming back?" Shannon kicked off his shoes and scoffed at the movie, "Amateurs."

Charlotte had flown back to New York the night before Shannon killed Matt, saying that she was needed to finalise the details of her maternity line's promotion kick before they went ahead with it. At 9AM, she had called Jeff, knowing he would be asleep, and left a message on his answerphone saying she was nearly at work and she'd talk to him later on.

The meeting had gone exceptionally well, with several in attendance noting that Charlotte seemed more driven and passionate about the product than usual, and they were emphatically spreading the word about Chaos Couture's Mon Cherie line. As she drove home, Jeff had called her in a complete state, managing to tell her, barely, that Matt was dead.

"I should be doing to keep up appearances, but I don't think Jeff wants me flying, I'm nearly due."

Shannon smiled as he stroked her baby bump, "Yes you are."

Charlotte laughed at his cutesy tone, "Why does my baby turn everybody into mush?"

Jeff rubbed his tired eyes as he stood outside Matt's house, watching a helicopter land in the fields about ten minutes away.

He stared at the screen of his cell phone and answered it in his dream-like state, "Hello?"

"Are you up to driving, baby? Or should I get Shannon to bring me up?" He relaxed at Charlotte's tone and then tensed again;

"You're here?"

"I know you just saw the 'copter." Charlotte laughed, "I'll get Shannon to drive me up, darling. Go inside and wait for the funeral cars."

Charlotte relaxed into the seat of her Bentley and scrolled through her emails. There were three new ones; one from her Father, one from Dom and one from Randy. She selected Dom's first, knowing that it would make her laugh.

So, I turn on the TV this morning and what do I see? Jeff's ugly ass brother! I nearly spat out my coffee! I sat down and listened to what they were saying, but I wasn't watching it really hahah, anyway, they said "LeRoux Reine-Taylor" and my head shot up like, WTF!

They're blaming Eadoin, AGAIN?! Goddamn! They also linked him to you, noting that his brother is engaged to you and expecting a baby boy sometime soon.

The next thing you know, girl, they'll be wanting to know what you eat for breakfast.

Luvvies, D x

Charlotte laughed and typed her response quickly;

I satisfied my cravings this morning; I had a steamed chilli and ginger lobster and pomegranate juice for breakfast!

Goddamn baby! He's expensive before he's even out!

I'll talk to you after the funeral. It's in twenty minutes.

Luvvies, C x

Knowing that Domonique would reply quickly, she set her phone to silent so then nobody would know she was emailing at a funeral and then at the wake. She selected Michael's email next, saving Randy's until last.

Stay safe, darling. There'll be people at this funeral who blame you and E for John, Adam and now Matt.

Oh wait.

Nobody cared about Matt. I forgot.

See you on Thursday, mon cherie.

Charlotte simply smiled at her Father's message, knowing that she was truly his daughter, and that nobody could take that away from her. She opened Randy's message, safe in the knowledge that she was the first person he had loved.

Dun dun dun

Another one bites the dust.

And another one's gone, and another one's gone, another one bites the dust!

Hey, me collaborating with Queen. Didn't you dream about that once?


Shaking her long hair with a smile, she sank further into the seat and read Dom's newly sent reply.

Damn, that's one quick funeral. Mmm, now I want some lobster. I've never had pomegranate juice though, what gives?!

Wait...pomegranate. You loved that before you were pregnant, for some fucking mythology reason. You and your hidden messages! They're everywhere!

Luvvies, D x

"Shannon, darling, can you tell me the significance of pomegranate?" Charlotte purred to Shannon as he drove them further up the road.

Shannon smiled, happy he knew the answer to this question for once, "Of course. Hades trapped Persephone into returning to the underworld to rule it with him for one season of every year with pomegranate seeds."

"I'm impressed!" Charlotte's reaction pleased Shannon, her glowing face giving way to a sweet smile, "And another name for Persephone was?"

"The Queen of the Underworld, or the Iron Queen." Shannon said, turning to look at Charlotte, "Lix, that's sneaky."

"You could never accuse me of being anything but."

Charlottle clasped Jeff's hand as he shook in his seat on the pew. She did not, and could not, bear to look at him, knowing that her heart would break at seeing him in such a state. Gil sat on the other side of his only remaining son, his hand resting on Jeff's shoulder. Amy Dumas, Matt's longtime ex-girlfriend sat next to Charlotte, tears freely falling down her face. Charlotte turned around to face Shannon, who sat behind her and rolled her eyes the slightest amount, so only he would notice. He winked at her, with a slight smile, causing her to chuckle under breath, and turn back to face the casket, which thankfully, was closed.

Charlotte shuddered to think what Shannon had done to him, although from her Father's orders, there wasn't supposed to be anything visible. She knew that Shannon, his temper, and his sloppiness when put under pressure, had very probably messed up. Only she was capable of remaining cool under pressure.

Charlotte stood back from the line as people came to shake Jeff and Gil's hands, to offer their condolences and helpful words. She felt their eyes on her, accusing and angry, causing her to look up and meet their eyes with a steely gaze which gave way to no emotion. Slowly, she came forwards and took Jeff's arm, guiding him away and into her Bentley within a minute.

"There were still people there!" Jeff protested, glaring angrily at Charlotte, who raised her eyebrows at him.

"Yes, all of them who would have undoubtedly accused me of murdering your brother with their eyes."

"What are you talking about?"

Charlotte gave a small mirthless laugh, "You didn't notice that every single person who lied about being sorry that Matt got his insides splattered all over the house was glaring at me?!"

"Please, please don't mention how Matt died to me ever again."

"Oh, I can re-hash the report if I want to." Charlotte rolled her eyes, "J, I'm just trying to pro-"

Jeff turned to face his fiancee after she failed to finish her sentence, to see her clutching her swollen stomach with a grimace. "What's wrong? Baby? What's wrong, tell me!"

Charlotte gritted her teeth together, and breathed in and out slowly, "Blake is not ruining my fucking three hundred fucking thousand dollar fucking Bentley."

"Huh?" Jeff frowned at Charlotte and received a punch in the face and a scream for his trouble;


Jeff just stared at her, wondering where on Earth her classy nature and extensive vocabulary had gone.

"Mr Hardy, we've now prepped her for surgery. If you'd like to follow us down?" Charlotte's surgeon tapped Jeff on the arm with a smile.

"She's having a natural birth, what are you talking about?"

The surgeon hesitated, "Your wife has elected for a Caeserian from the very beginning, Mr Hardy."

"No, it's a natural birth! I'm telling you, go and get her!"

"Sir, she's in labour, we can hardly go and get her."

Jeff rolled his eyes and followed the surgeon down the room, "Is she awake?"

"Of course she's awake. She just can't feel a thing, that's all."

Jeff sat opposite Charlotte's bed, rubbing his temples. In the same day as he had sent his brother out of the world, he had welcomed his son into it. Charlotte lay in the bed, cradling Blake to her with a smile.

"I'm sorry I didn't tell you about the C-section." she murmered, still gazing at the baby, "I watched my friend give birth to her child and swore to never have a natural birth. I know you wanted it at home, with the candles and the music and everything, but I just couldn't have done it."

Jeff smiled, "It's fine, really. I was just confused, and hurt that you'd, I don't know, betrayed me?"

"I never meant for it to be like this. It was going to be up in New York at least." Charlotte handed Blake to Jeff, and turned her head away from them at her blatant lie. She had known all along that Blake was due on May 19th, and had planned everything so Blake would be born on the day of Matt's funeral.

"I didn't know you had that tattoo on your back." Jeff rocked Blake side to side gently, taking in his perfect face, "I don't even know what it means."

Charlotte cleared her throat, "Each future day increase of wealth shall bring, and o'er the past Oblivion stretch her wing." she smiled, "It's a line from The Odyssey, by Homer."

"By who?"

"Homer. The Ancient Greek poet. I love Ancient Greece and Greek mythology." Charlotte smiled mainly to herself, "Now, be my darling, and call the nurse to see when we can go home."

"Babe, we can't fly with Blake being only hours old!"

Charlotte shrugged her shoulders, "Well what do you suggest? We drive?"

"We could always just stay here!"

"Stay here? Stay here. Of course. Of fucking course, why ever didn't I think of staying in North Caro-fucking-lina, where the flies and spiders are so big they could eat my baby! Where everything seems to go very, very wrong, where time stopped fifty years ago! Yes, what a brilliant idea darling! Let's call your Father now, shall we?!"

"Don't swear in front of Blake." Jeff said quietly, tracing his finger down the newborn's cheek, "We can just go back to New York, okay?"

"You'd save yourself a lot of time if you just agreed with me in the first place."

"Yeah, that's how you'd like it, right? If I was just another lackey. Life would be easier for you, wouldn't it? Well, I'm sorry that I'm not afraid of you."

And, for the first time in her twenty four years, Charlotte Rowlands was left speechless.