This is the chapter where I was going to end the story but I'm going to carry on a bit longer so that we can see Charlie and Joey's futures be different to the ones they saw with their ghost guides. But I hope you enjoy this one anyway. Love, IJKS xxx
Joey woke in the morning with a headache. Despite the pain, she felt warm and safe in Charlie's arms. Yesterday felt like some horrible nightmare but the sudden ache in her chest reminded her that everything was true. Charlie had cheated on her with Hugo and then lied about it. Joey still felt like a fool for having put so much trust in the woman she loved. But then the night had taken a crazy turn and she and Charlie had both been given a supernatural insight into the past, present and future. It had been a painful journey but Joey felt like she and Charlie both understood each other a lot better. And that was why she was still here.
Rolling over carefully, Joey gazed into Charlie's sleeping face. She thought she was the most beautiful person on the planet and she loved her as deeply as she ever had. It broke her heart to think of what she had been through in her past and was still rather shocked at the knowledge that Ruby was her daughter and not her sister. And that Ruby didn't have a clue.
She reached out and stroked Charlie's hair and then apologised for waking her when she began to stir.
"Mmm… it's fine," Charlie said sleepily, her crystal blue eyes fluttering open.
She smiled lovingly at her girlfriend, grateful that of all the things that may or may not have been true yesterday, being curled up in bed with the woman she loved was definitely real. She had been afraid that it might have only been a dream.
"How did you sleep?" Joey asked, as she and Charlie lay on their sides, facing each other, close enough for their noses to touch if they wanted them to.
"Very well, surprisingly," Charlie murmured, still half in a dream state. "You?"
Joey nodded, also still sleepy. She reached out and touched Charlie's cheek.
"I'm glad we started to be able to work things out," she said sincerely.
Charlie held onto her hand, tilting her head to kiss it.
"Me too," she said. "I have no idea how you found it in your heart to forgive me but I'm so glad you did. I love you so much."
They kissed tenderly. Joey closed her eyes, wrapping her arms tightly around her girlfriend. She never wanted to let her go.
Twenty minutes later, Ruby was stunned to see Charlie and Joey exit their bedroom. Her cereal spoon stopped midway to her mouth as she stared at them in cautious hope.
"Are you back together?" she asked rather desperately.
"Yes," Charlie confirmed.
Ruby's spoon clattered back into her bowl as she rushed up to them, hauling them into a hug. They were both touched by how happy she was.
"I was so scared you guys were going to break up," she admitted, looking rather emotional. "I mean, I know it took me a bit of time to get my head around everything but I know how much you love each other. You're really staying together?"
"Really," Joey said, when Ruby released them.
They all moved to sit on the sofas.
"You've forgiven and forgotten?" Ruby asked. "Just like that?"
She had to admire how committed Joey obviously was to Charlie.
"It was a long night," Joey said softly. "We both got a bit of an insight into each other's worlds and what happened and I… I know that Hugo was a mistake that Charlie instantly regretted. I wish she hadn't done it or I wish she'd not lied to me. But I also know that she lied because she was afraid of losing me. And I… don't want to be lost."
The couple smiled at each other and held hands.
"I've got a second chance," Charlie said. "And there's no way I'm going blow it."
Ruby hugged them again.
"I'm so happy for you," she said sincerely. "Really, I am."
"Thank you," they said in unison.
They were interrupted by a knock at the door. Annie arrived, hovering in the doorway. She looked distinctly uncomfortable at the sight of Charlie and Joey in each other's arms.
"We'd better head to school," Ruby said. "But um… maybe we could have dinner tonight? If you don't want to be alone…"
She teased them with the last word, making them blush and Annie cringe.
"Dinner sounds great, Rubes," Joey said.
She looked to Charlie for confirmation. The police officer eagerly nodded. This time, she was going to do everything right.
That evening, with Charlie and Joey having spent the best part of a happy day together, the couple were at the Diner with Ruby. It was very different to the last meal they'd had there together before, where Charlie had been too awkward to hold Joey's hand. Now, anyone would be able to tell they were in love just by the way they looked at each other.
"Um… Charlie, you need to come outside, love," Alf said, appearing at their table.
"What's wrong?" Ruby asked worriedly.
The last time someone had taken Charlie outside like that, it had been because Brett had scrawled graffiti over Charlie's car. And that had had far too many repercussions.
"There's some sort of… um… look, come out and see," Alf said awkwardly.
Looking a little panicked, the threesome headed outside. Joey stopped abruptly when she saw the words 'I love you, Joey Collins' projected in lights onto the wall of the Surf Club for all to see. She stared at the words and then at Charlie who broke out into a grin.
"Charlie!" she said.
Then she frowned.
"When did you get time to do this?" she wondered.
"There wasn't really a lunch line like I told you there was," Charlie said. "Plus, Alf and Jai helped me."
She turned to the Summer Bay stalwart and thanked him. He looked pleased with how things had turned out.
"Sorry for lying," Charlie added, putting her arm around her waist. "I just… wanted you and the rest of the Bay to know exactly how I feel about you."
Joey rewarded her with a kiss. From now, they knew they would do things right. There was no more secrets, no more lies, nothing that could hurt them. This time, it was going to be forever.
Next time… Angelo returns to Summer Bay…