Charlie anxiously tapped his foot as Nick sped up down the road. The relief of hanging out with his boyfriend that summer evening was washed away when the young teenager realized he was an hour past his curfew.
The one rule that Tori and Charlie had to follow was what time they needed to be home. Jane was strict about them being home, only because she worried but she didn’t handle that feeling well and it turned to anger. Charlie had to be home by 9 pm and it was 10:15 pm. He felt nothing but panic.
“Good luck,” Nick said softly as he parked in the driveway. Charlie sat up and took a deep shaky breath, trying to calm down before he had to face Jane and Julio. “I’m sorry I should have been more focused on the time and-” Nick was about to ramble but Charlie interrupted him with a kiss.
“I thought the s-word was banned.” Charlie teased the best he could through the anxiety that was taking over as he noticed Jane standing at the front door with her arms crossed.
“Good luck.” Nick rubbed Charlie’s knee and unlocked the door for him, he worried about his eyes as he saw how tense Charlie was. Nick didn’t like how much pressure Jane put on Charlie, he didn’t think it was fair.
“I’ll most likely be grounded from now on so talk when I can.” Charlie kissed Nick before getting out of the car. He walked up to the front door, it felt like slow motion with the way Jane was glaring daggers at him.
“Inside. Now.” Jane demanded and grabbed Charlie’s arm and pulled him inside not so gently. Charlie squeaked in surprise since she had never been aggressive before. She was pissed. Julio sat on the couch, worry written all over his face.
Charlie looked down to avoid eye contact, he felt so guilty to make them worry. It was his fault after all for being late. He should’ve paid more attention instead of making out with Nick in the car at the restaurant’s parking lot.
“I don’t want an explanation. You are an Hour late Charles! How could you be so careless at the age of 15 when I permitted you to go off with that boyfriend of yours? I shouldn’t have let you go on that drive. You worried us! We thought something bad happened to you since you didn’t even text!” Jane tried not to raise her voice but failed in her attempt. Julio put a hand on her shoulder to attempt to calm his wife down but it never worked.
Charlie tensed up as she used ‘Charles’ instead of Charlie. He clenched his jaw and stopped himself from saying anything when she said ‘that boyfriend’ instead of Nick’s name. She shouldn’t bring Nick into this when it’s his mistake. She shouldn’t talk about Nick like that. But he knew from experience that if he spoke back during her lecture he’d get more in trouble.
“Give us your phone now,” Julio spoke up as Jane sat on the couch, rubbing her face in a dramatic way to add effect. Charlie handed Julio his phone, trying to stop his hands from shaking.
What was he going to do on nights when he broke down to the point he had to call Nick or Tori to keep him safe? They didn’t seem to realize that his phone was one of his coping mechanisms for his depression. They thought it was just a ‘toy’ teenagers liked to use.
“You are grounded for 2 weeks.” Jane decided.
“Two? for being an hour late? Can’t it just be one?” Charlie tried to beg with big stressed eyes.
Jane shook her head like she was putting her foot down as a final decision. Charlie sighed in defeat, once he got to his bedroom he let the tears fall. He would never admit it but he was jealous of Nick. He knew he shouldn’t complain since Nick had divorced his parents and didn’t have a father figure in his life, which he had. Charlie was just so jealous of the relationship Nick had with Sarah. Sarah was understanding and loving whenever Nick had an issue or was late getting home. Why can’t his parents be like them? He sat on his bed, feeling nothing but defeat and guilt.
Charlie wished he could go back to the happiness he felt whenever he was sitting beside Nick, with Nick gripping his thy and smiling at him. He laid down and snuggled with his beat-up cat stuffed animal, he had put one of Nick’s hoodies on it even if that was stupid it made him feel a bit more secure at night. He couldn’t wait to be in Nick’s arms again with all of his problems behind him. He just had to get through these two weeks of being grounded. He prayed to himself that he could do it. He had to.