Chapter 1: Co-ordination

Chuck was actually quite coordinated and graceful. You wouldn't know it by watching him around Sarah. He was always walking into things, tripping, dropping stuff and, most notably, bumping into Sarah, steadying her with his hands, flushing and apologizing as she said, "That's okay, Chuck, I'm all right."

You see, Sarah had only seen the clumsy, jostling side of him so she didn't know any differently. When his file noted "swam in high school," Sarah didn't know that meant he was one of the top medal-earners on his school's swim team in the front crawl, butterfly and relay. When it said "likes to dance," what it should have said was "Junior Ballroom Cotillion Leader," and the one-word description "gymnastics" didn't come anywhere near listing his accomplishments in floor, rings and vaulting.

So whenever he tripped and fell headlong into her arms, Sarah just thought he was being inattentive, maybe thinking about video games or something, and when he walked into a concrete light standard on the street and raised a small egg on his forehead and she kissed it gently, brushing his hair back with her hand, she would be at the wrong angle to see the contented but calculating look in his eyes.

His favorite trick was to sneak up behind her and wait. It didn't always work, but when it did, it felt like winning big in Vegas. Sarah, thinking he was farther away, would spin around right into the front of him, and it was then he could bring his arms up and around her under the pretext of steadying her and say, "Whoa, whoa." If she came close enough, he might even get a good whiff of her hair or her perfume. Once, she had contacted the front of his pants with her hand and he had lived off of that feeling for days afterwards.

The net result of this carry-on was Sarah thinking she had to work even harder to protect this sweet, vulnerable boy-man and Chuck getting what he needed from Sarah until their circumstances changed and he was able to get more.