"My bank is going to love me," Joey groaned, as she and Charlie took the smaller items on their list to the cashier. "Think of all the interest they can slap onto a maxed out credit card!"
"I did say I'd…"
"No!" Joey interrupted. "You are not paying for stuff!"
Charlie pouted, clutching the list of items they were ordering for delivery.
"I said I didn't mind," she mumbled.
"I already owe you a deposit, a month's rent and… oh yeah, my life!"
After he had raped her, Robbo had also tried to kill her. With two sets of charges against him, Robbo had run his ex-girlfriend, Tanya over and left her for dead before abducting Joey and booking into a motel where he had attempted to drown her in the bathtub. It had only been Charlie's dedication and cop instincts that had saved her life.
"Well, all of that has been my pleasure," Charlie told her.
They reached the next free cashier who smiled pleasantly at them. She was pretty with short, dark blonde hair and sparkling blue eyes.
"Looks like you've been busy," she remarked. "A new home?"
"Is it the heaps of stuff or the look of fright in my eyes that tipped you off?" Joey joked.
She might have longed to be independent for a long time but it didn't mean it wasn't scary.
"Maybe a bit of both!" the cashier, whose nametag read 'Tash' said.
Charlie frowned, watching their interest with growing horror.
"So, are you moving in together or…?"
"Oh no," Joey said. "It's just me. But Charlie has been invaluable with helping me with stuff."
"Are you a couple or…?"
Charlie opened her mouth to object but was offended when Joey beat her to it.
"No," she said. "Definitely not a couple. Charlie's just my fairy godmother."
Charlie's pride continued to hurt. Did that mean Joey thought she was old? And why had she been so quick to object? Didn't she think Charlie would be good enough for her? Or did she have the hots for Tash? She continued to look unhappy as the girls flirted and Tash rang up every item before arranging for the delivery of others.
"Hey, um, here's my number," the blonde said, handing it over to Joey who looked rather startled. "Just in case you ever wanted to go for a drink sometime."
"Uh… thanks," Joey said, taking the card and putting it into her back pocket.
"Have fun moving in," Tash said.
"Thanks… again!" Joey replied a little shyly before she and Charlie pushed the trolley out of the store and towards the car.
"Are you okay, Charlie?" Joey asked from the passenger seat ten minutes later as they drove back into town.
"Yeah, I'm fine," the police officer said a little sharply.
Joey frowned and studied her profile, never quite able to stop noticing how beautiful her best friend was.
"Charlie?" she tried.
"I'm fine!" Charlie snapped, her eyes riveted to the road.
Joey sighed and sank back in her seat. Charlie glanced at her and felt guilty at the look of desperate unhappiness on her friend's face. She never wanted Joey to feel like that because of her.
"Sorry," she said. "I think the hangover is starting to kick in."
Joey turned back and managed a smile.
"If you're going to hurl, please do it away from me!" she chuckled.
"You're so compassionate," she remarked. "Maybe you should consider a role in nursing."
She tried and failed not to picture her in the uniform.
"Well, I do have to come up with something if I'm ever going to repay you and the bank," Joey said. "Plus, think of all the hot nurses I could meet!"
Charlie's mood darkened again. She cleared her throat a couple of times.
"So, are you going to call that girl?" she asked, trying not to sound like it was important.
"What girl?" Joey asked. "Oh! Tash? I don't know. Maybe."
Charlie gripped the steering wheel a little too tightly.
"I don't think you should," she said before she could stop herself.
"You don't?" Joey asked mildly. "I guess it's kind of soon. I mean, I'd really have to know someone and trust them before I could even consider… anything."
Charlie chewed her lip, trying to process her own feelings.
"But she was pretty," Joey continued. "And kind of sweet. Maybe…"
Charlie knew exactly how she was feeling again and it wasn't good. Maybe she had got complacent but she was used to having Joey all to herself. She didn't want her to go off with some tarty sales assistant.
"She's not good enough for you," she said.
"And your evidence for that is…?"
Charlie wanted to tell her that nobody was good enough for her. She wanted to say that Joey was the most wonderful woman on earth and she deserved nothing but the best. She wanted to say that she couldn't bear the thought of some woman coming in between them.
"She just… I don't know," Charlie managed. "I didn't get a good vibe off her."
"Okay," Joey replied simply.
She turned to look peacefully out of the window. The truth was that whenever Charlie was near, Joey was unlikely to even notice anyone else in the room. And although she knew it wouldn't go anywhere, she liked that she and Charlie were so close. She didn't want to adore anyone else.
Next time… Charlie and Joey share a moment while they get started on DIY…