I pulled away from Charlotte to catch my breath for just second before she grabbed my shirt and yanked me down to her again. Now, I'm not saying that things between us are getting crazy, but let's just say that this may or may not be the second time we've made out this month.
"Damn, I'm gonna be late for work!" I groaned, suddenly realizing the time.
"Aww, can't you just stay with me for a little while longer?" Charlotte asked, kissing me again.
"Cuz it's my jo…" I began to say 'job', but Char interrupted me with a tight hug. Kissing and everything was great, but sometimes my favorite part about being with Charlotte was just being with Charlotte.
"Eh, who cares about work, right?" I shrugged with a smile.
"Right!" Charlotte agreed. I grabbed her hand and we ran down the path to the pond together.
"Hey Ponyboy!" I heard from across the room. I glanced around to see who it was and saw Soda waving me over.
"Kid, where were you at work today?" He asked me, putting on his 'concerned' face.
"Waddya mean? I was there!" Obviously I knew I wasn't and I was kinda hopin' that being defensive would play on Soda's soft side. Apparently that assumption was wrong cuz Soda just stood there and crossed his arms.
"Fine! Okay, okay, so I wasn't there one day? What's the big deal anyhow?" I shrugged, trying to put it off as nothing.
"Yeah, one day would be fine Pony! But this is your seventh or eighth in just this month! What's gotten into you?"
"Nothing!" I protested, but again, Soda wasn't buying it.
"It's that girl, isn't it?" He asked, already knowing the answer to his question.
"No! There is nothing wrong with Charlotte! Absolutely nothing wrong…" I trailed off, beginning to think of her.
"Hey, hey!" Soda snapped his fingers loudly in front of my face to get my attention again.
"I ain't sayin' there's somethin' wrong with her kid, you just gotta start showin' up to work again. K?"
"I missed you so much!" Charlotte cooed when I walked up to her.
"I know, me too, me too!"
"You were two minutes late, are you alright? Did something bad happen to you? Please tell me you're ok!"
"I'm perfect now that I'm with you. Soda just had to talk to me about who knows what. It doesn't matter, I got out of there as fast as I could."
Charlotte smiled up at me and kissed me slowly. I was absolutely lost in the moment until I heard a rustle coming from somewhere in the woods.
"Didja hear that Char?" I asked, looking around.
I heard it again and saw movement coming from a group of shrubs nearby.
"It's probably just a bunny or somethin' Pony, don't worry about it." Charlotte coaxed.
"But don't cha want to know what's over there?" I asked, still wildly curious.
"Well, we could find out what's over there or we could go skip stones in the pond again." Charlotte suggested, her eyebrows raised.
I still wanted to find out what had just happened, but of course I couldn't resist that smile she gave me right then.
I was walking back to my room at about eleven o'clock at night with a grin spread on my face that I just couldn't seem to get rid of. I walked up the steps, opened the door, turned on the light, and then nearly jumped out of my skin.
"How ya doin' Pony?" Dallas asked calmly, pulling out a chair for me to sit in.
"What the hell is goin' on?" I yelled. There was not an empty space in my room cuz all the guys were crammed inside, all of them; Johnny, Darry, Soda, Two-Bit, Steve, Billy, and Dally.
"Try what the hell is goin' on with you!" Darry shouted right back. "You think you can just wander back here whenever you want? Especially when you're with a girl? You still have a curfew, there are still rules here Pony!"
"Ok, we've established that it's the middle of the night, so would all stop yelling?" Dally said in a soothing voice, "We're just here for you kid." And in that moment I was more terrified of Dallas than I had ever been, I prayed for him to just beat me up so he would stop talkin' like that!
"He's right Pony," Sodapop chimed in, "We really need to talk to you."
"This whole Charlotte thing is gettin' outta hand, I hardly ever see you anymore!" Johnny blurted out.
"That's not true, I still see you! I still see all of you!" I defended, starting to get angry that they ambushed me like this.
"That's kinda weird, cuz if you're seeing us we sure ain't seein' you at the same time." Two-Bit put in.
"Charlotte in not a problem!" I growled, I would not put up with this.
"That's what we thought at first Pony, but it's startin' to get bad. You don't show up to work half the time, and the other half you're late, you won't listen to any of us… you weren't even paying attention yesterday cuz you were runnin' late to meet Charlotte, like always!" Soda countered.
"Wait…" the gears were beginning the click together in my head as Soda was talkin' "it was you!"
"What was me?" He asked, confused, or least trying to act that way.
"It may not have been you, but it was one of you! In the bushes yesterday, spyin' on us!" I shot back at him, now completely furious.
"So what if it was?" Darry hopped in, "You're still a kid Ponyboy, and we're just tryin' to look out for you."
"A kid? I'm fourteen!"
"Exactly," Darry replied, unamused.
"She's cute, but she's still just a guest Pony!" Steve piped up, just making everything worse really.
"Darry, I love her!"
"So you know how you're brothers talked to you about me?" Charlotte asked me, looking nervous. I was still furious about the whole thing so I rolled my eyes in response.
"Well… turns out my parents are kinda worried about us too," Charlotte whispered "they want to meet you Pony." She winced.
"Why can't everybody just butt out? I never felt this way about nobody before and that should be enough for them… We're in love, why can't they understand that?" I shot out, Darry probably put Charlotte's parents up to this, the rat.
"We're in love Ponyboy?" Charlotte was still whispering, but now the blood was rushing to her cheeks making them a rosy pink.
"Yeah, we are," I smiled, then leaned down to kiss her. Whatever happened, we were gonna get through this together, no matter what the cost.
"Mommy, Daddy, this is Ponyboy." Charlotte introduced timidly, not sure how either party would react.
"Ponyboy… that sure is an interesting name." Her Dad said after giving me a handshake that almost broke my fingers.
"Yeah, and what's yours?" I asked. I was so used to people reacting to my name but I hated the judgment in his eyes.
"Ernest, but I would prefer if you would refrain from calling me by my first name son."
"We don't always get what we want, do we?" I said, staring back at him, letting him know I wasn't joking around at all.
"So, how did you two kids meet?" Charlotte's Mom asked trying to change the subject, her voice was tight and restrained and I could tell she was holding back.
"You were there!" I spat out, shooting her a glare and then returning my gaze to Charlotte's Dad, fighting for dominance.
"Sweetie, can we speak to for a moment, alone?" Her father asked, he kept his eyes locked on mine.
"Sweetie, can we speak to you for a moment, alone?" My father asked, glancing over to Ponyboy in the hopes that he would get the hint and leave the room.
Pony glanced at me with an uneasy expression. I gave him the most reassuring smile I could and he walked towards the door before glancing back at me one more time. I turned to my parents who were now standing side by side in front of me. "What's going on?"
My father cleared his throat. "We need to have a serious discussion about this boy you've been goofing off with."
"Goofing off? He's my boyfriend." I corrected him.
My father looked at my mother from the corner of his eyes and she nudged him to keep going. "Sure he is, but we just think that you should stop running around this place with him. Make new friends, preferably someone that doesn't work here."
My mouth dropped open. They couldn't be serious. "You can't be serious. You want me to break up with him because he's the help?"
My mother intervened. "That's not what we're saying at all. We just don't think that he's a good influence on you."
I felt the heat rising in my body, "Oh? And why is that?"
"Well, for starters, he's here without any parental supervision! We just don't think it's the best idea that you're running around to God knows where without any adults keeping tabs on you." My mother looked satisfied with her reply.
"And do you know why he doesn't have parental supervision?" I waited a beat to hear if they had a response, "His parents are dead! They died almost a year ago in a car accident and his brothers are taking care of him. It's not really his fault that his parents aren't here!"
My father sputtered before saying, "Well we also just don't like him."
"Why? What possibly can't you like about him?" I prepared myself to make every defense I could.
"Frankly, he's a brat. Part of that may be because of the situation with his parents, but we can't tolerate that kind of behavior. We especially can't have it rubbing off on you when you're about to become a part of the women's society back home." My mother deadpanned.
"You know I want nothing to do with that, and he won't rub any brattish behavior off on me because he isn't one! You two don't know him like I do!"
"We know him well enough from tonight to know that he isn't right for you, Charlotte." My father said.
"You don't know anything! Daddy, I love him!" I said, my voice getting louder.
"You don't even know him!" My mother shrieked.
"You can't love him, darling. You haven't known him long enough." My father tried to reason with me.
"Stop telling me how I feel! You don't know how I feel about him!"
"Even if you do love him, you have to break it off with him, because we're leaving in the morning to go back home and you won't ever be able to see him again." My mother threw in my face with a smirk.
I turned to my dad and with a whisper I asked, "Is that true?"
He looked at the ground, "I'm afraid so. Dr. Thompson has gotten really sick and can't do a very important surgery, so I have to go and fill in for him."
"But why do I have to leave? Can't you come back when you're done with the surgery?"
"We figured that because it's close enough to the end of the time that we were going to stay that we might as well just go home early and get some of our money back." He looked at me apologetically, while my mother had a smug smirk on her face.
I felt like I couldn't breathe anymore. Like the room was closing in on me and the walls were going to crush us all any second. I whipped my head around towards the door and I saw that it was still there and I bolted.
I vaguely heard my mother calling my name to get me back in the room, but there was no way that I was going back after that bomb was dropped. I paced around the entrance for I don't know how long before I saw my parents come outside. They tried calling after me again and my mother even tried to come after me, but my dad stopped her. I ran into the woods that I knew came out into the employee section and my mother would never be caught dead associating with the workers.
What was I going to do? I couldn't just leave Pony, not when we were getting so serious. I needed to come up with a way to stay, at least a way that I could see Pony again.
I smacked my forehead, I wasn't leaving right this minute. I could go to Pony's cabin and we could come up with a plan together. I looked up from the ground that I had been looking at while walking, and I was only about two doors down from his. I sprinted the last couple of feet and threw the door open. He was sitting on the edge of his bed, looking worried. When he saw the look of panic on my face, his worry didn't go away.
"What's going on, Charlotte." He asked, standing up.
"I'm leaving. Tomorrow morning. My dad has to do an emergency surgery."
He looked at me like he was waiting for me to deliver the punchline, and when I didn't, he whispered, "What are we gonna do?"
I threw myself dramatically into his arms and started crying hysterically, "I have no idea! What can we do? We're only 14!"
He stood there quietly, thinking. "We could hide you until it's too late for you to leave with your parents and they have to come back after the surgery to get you…?"
I thought over his ridiculous idea. Wait, I had an even better one. Just wait until I told him our plan, it was genius. I whipped my head up and faced him. "I have a plan." I smiled.