Chapter Twelve

"You cannot be serious!" Joey exclaimed.

She and Shane were invisible in Leah's lounge watching Charlie in Angelo's arms on the sofa. She leant in close and studied Charlie's expression. Her smile was fake and her eyes were haunted. She stood back up and looked at Shane.

"He's just told her that he nearly cheated on her and she wants to move in with him?" she demanded, as if it was his fault. "What the hell is she thinking? Where on earth has her self-esteem gone? Her dignity?"

"I think it sailed away with you when you left," Shane offered.

She glared at him.

"Are you saying this pathetic life she's living is my fault?" she demanded.

He held up in mock defence.

"I'm just here to help," he said. "Don't take it out on me."

She turned back to the couch and heard Angelo make some stupid joke about Charlie's sexuality. She slapped him but of course, she wasn't really there.

"Wanker," she murmured as the scene changed again.

"Just when I think I can't be more disgusted with myself, I plummet to new depths," Charlie remarked as she found herself watching herself waiting for some sort of secret rendezvous. "What the hell was I thinking getting with him in the first place? And why on earth have I asked him to move in with me? He nearly cheated on me! And he's Angelo!"

She pulled a face and shuddered at his name, looking helplessly at Jack who also looked unimpressed.

"Hey, I like the guy even less than you do!" he said.

Charlie sighed and apologised for being insensitive.

"This must hurt you," she ventured.

He nodded quietly.

"My life has been taken from me and he's not even paying the price," he said sadly. "It was an accident. I know that. But it was stupid one. He should never have shot wildly into the dark. That's one of the first things they teach you in training. You need to see your target and know it's the right thing you do before you fire."

He shook his head in disgust.

"And now I'm gone and Martha's fallen into Hugo's clutches…"

He pulled a face. Charlie felt terrible for him.

"And Angelo gets his freedom, he gets to play the role of the hero, he gets to run his own restaurant…"

"What happened to being a cop?" Charlie asked curiously.

"Don't ask," he said. "It's a long and tedious story."

Charlie nodded, pulling a face as she watched herself wait for goodness knows who.

"And he gets the woman of his dreams," Jack added. "Although, thankfully that particular misery go round has ended by now."

He nodded as a man approached Charlie.

"Who am I fucking now?" she snapped, very aware that this was some sort of secret assignation.

She stepped forward and peered at the broad, tattooed man.

"No fucking way!" Charlie screeched as she watched herself kiss Darryl 'Brax' Braxton, the leader of the River Boys gang, who had been terrorising the local community for years.

She turned back to Jack in horror.

"What am I doing?"

"I believe you're falling in love with him," he replied.

Charlie shook her head in disbelief.

"I would never fall in love with a criminal," she declared.

"Hello? Does Angelo Rosetta ring a bell?"

Charlie looked evermore disgusted.

"What happens to him in the end?" she asked.

"I can't really say," he told her. "But he gets his dream of a perfect fucking family."

The bitterness was evident in his voice.

"But anyway, you've got bigger problems," he said.

Charlie turned back to look at herself and Brax. She had a very bad taste in her mouth.

"Wow, she really has no standards, has she?" Joey remarked, also watching the scene.

She shook her head in disgust and stood closer to Shane, trying to mask her hurt with anger.

"It really makes me feel good, you know," she said. "That she was so damn ashamed of me and couldn't stay faithful for five minutes and yet she's more than happy to parade around with these guys. It's like, they can do whatever they like, even if it's against the law, just because they're men."

She shuddered in disgust and was surprised when her face became wet with tears. Shane put a gentle arm around her shoulder.

"Why doesn't she love me enough?" she asked. "I don't think I could ever move on from her. I don't think I could love someone else. And yet… here she is… She's with yet another guy and she doesn't even care about me."

"This is only one possible future, Joey," Shane reminded her. "Not everything on this night has to come true."

Next time... Charlie and Joey watch Charlie sacrifice her morals and lose her life thanks to her romance with Brax…