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Rated: E · Chapter · Romance/Love · #2195039
Backstory for an enemies to lovers romance WIP
1968 - Redfield, South Dakota

"Who is that with Will?" Esther Ryan breathed as she clutched her best friend, Irene, tightly around the upper arm. Irene Walker turned and gaped at the two teen boys strolling toward the concession stand. Dust obscured their vision for a moment as a Plymouth Fury rag top parked next to their Nash Rambler.
"I don't know but what a hunk!" Irene blinked.
The teen girls watched the two boys get drinks and turn to look at the collection of cars and their occupants waiting for the movie to start. To Esther's shock the boys started walking toward her car.
"Hi, Esther, Irene, what's happening?" William Murphy smiled brightly, his hazel eyes never leaving Esther. "This is my friend, Charlie Lawrence. He just moved here from Aberdeen."
Esther shifted uncomfortably as Will continued staring at her. She looked at Charlie and smiled shyly, feeling her heart stutter in her chest before speeding up alarmingly. His handsome face was dimpled with his dashing smile and the blue of his eyes mesmerized her.
"Ladies," Charlie murmured with a soft, deep voice oozing with charm.
Irene giggled as she shook Charlie's hand then ducked her blonde head, curtaining her blushing face. Esther pulled the tip of her deep red ponytail as her nerves got the better of her. Between the sudden, strange urge to touch Charlie Lawrence and Will's never-ending gaze, she felt wobbly and uncertain.
At the silence stretched between them awkwardly, Will finally shifted his gaze and cleared his throat. "Catch ya later, movie's gonna start soon."
"Yeah. Later." Esther muttered.
She and Irene turned their heads in unison, watching the retreating backs of Will and Charlie.
"I would go with him..." both girls breathed in one voice.

≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈

"Hi Charlie," Esther's smile was nervous as she approached the taller, dark haired boy. He closed his locker and smiled back at her, making her heart race.
"It's Esther, right?" he asked as she let herself fall backward to rest on the locker doors.
"Uh-huh," she nodded. "I was wondering if you'd like to go to the Sadie Hawkins dance with me."
"That could be cool."
Esther felt the air leave her body in a soft whoosh that made her dizzy. His smile mirrored the heat in his eyes as he reached out a hand and brushed her cheek softly before turning and walking away.
"How could you!" Irene's fury broke over Esther in a wave of ice.
"What?" Esther gasped in confusion.
"You knew I was going to ask him out!"
"I didn't."
"You did! Figures, you always were selfish."
Esther blinked in horror and shock as Irene flipped her hair haughtily and strode away with a rigid set to her shoulders.

≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈

"Go steady with me," Charlie whispered in Esther's ear as they danced to the slow song amid the rest of the Sadie Hawkins crowd. She looked up into his handsome face with its strong chin, hint of dimples, dashing smile, and confident hazel eyes, nodding slowly. His smile grew and she felt him give her waist a gentle squeeze. With a soft sigh, Esther dropped her cheek to his chest and savored the melody of his heartbeat as she ignored the heated glare from Irene across the gym.

≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈

"Why don't you like me, Irene?" Charlie asked, bringing Irene's attention out of the book she was reading under the oak tree. It was the first truly fine day of spring and she simply hadn't been able to ignore the siren's call.
"What makes you think I don't like you?" she asked as he sat on her blanket.
"You glare at me every time I see you."
"I'm not glaring at you, I just have a hang up with your girl."
"I thought you two were best friends."
"We were until she trashed me."
"Oh. Well, I'll catch you later." Charlie grunted then got up and left Irene staring wistfully at his back.

≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈

"Why are we hiding in here?" Irene asked as Charlie turned the light on in janitor's cupboard.
"Because I don't want people to see."
"See what?"
"I dig you, Irene. But I haven't found a good way to break things off with Esther without having a bad scene."
"For real?"
Charlie bent his head and kissed her lush pink lips, breathing "for real" as he lifted his head a fraction to look into her eyes.
"Oh," Irene gasped. He smiled coyly, brushed her cheek softly then left the room.
Leaving the school, Charlie got into his Buick and drove home, waving to people he knew as he passed. He parked in front of the house and walked up the drive to the gate. Collecting the mail as he stepped into the house, he opened the back screen door, a faint cloud of smoke from his mother's Pall Mall's gagging him. Charlie's heart paused in his chest as he saw the envelope with an official seal in the corner that was addressed to him. He read "Greeting, You are hereby ordered for induction..." and felt his heart clench. He'd rejected many offers of a military career since he'd taken his ASVAB test but this offer he couldn't ignore.
"What's that?" Charlie's mother asked through a cloud of cigarette smoke.
"I just got drafted," he muttered dispiritedly. His mother snatched the paper from his hands and burst into tears.

≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈

"Are you okay?" Esther asked as she looked across the car at Charlie. He'd been moody since he'd picked her up. They were supposed to be celebrating their graduation that would happen the next afternoon but she wasn't sure they were doing anything at this point. To Esther's surprise, Charlie pulled his Buick to a stop in the deepest shadow of the school building and turned it off. In the dim light of stoop light over the school door, he turned to look at her.
"I am. I just..." He started, his voice drifting away into the shadows.
"You just...?"
Without another word, Esther found herself pinned to the seat of the Buick, Charlie's lips on hers. Thrilled that he was finally doing more than just touching her cheek, she plowed her hands into his hair and kissed him back. She clutched at him as his mouth roamed down her neck. Time became unimportant and the world beyond Charlie disappeared. Esther never hesitated even slightly as his mouth and hands requested mutely more and more of her. It wasn't until a brief yet sharp pain stole her breath that she realized that they'd gone farther than she intended.
"Charlie!" she exclaimed but found her words cut off and her mind addled when his lips found hers again.
Discomfort filled the car as Charlie drove to the Drive-in twenty minutes later. She didn't know what to say about what had happened, didn't know how to react, didn't know what to think. He pulled her close as the movie began but never lowered the rag top. Esther looked up at him and he smiled at her, his mood seemingly improved and back to his normal charming self.
Halfway through the movie, Charlie's hands began roaming again and Esther looked at him in confusion. Grinning cheekily, he bent and began kissing her. For the second time that evening, she found herself pressed into the seat of the car. Without the pain of losing her innocence, Esther let her mind drift and simply enjoyed that Charlie was hers in every way.
Long after Charlie had dropped her off at home and she'd cleaned herself up, Esther stared up at her ceiling, a smile of contentedness lighting her features. Tomorrow she'd be graduating from school. At the end of the summer, she'd be starting school to become a teacher. But tonight, Charlie had made her a true woman.

≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈

"Hey, Esther, we need to talk," Charlie's voice brought her head around and broadened her smile further. He held out his hand and she took it happily as she handed her cap and gown to her mother.
Charlie didn't say anything as he led her around to the far side of the building where no one could overhear them. Esther frowned as he shuffled his feet nervously.
"I want to break things off with you," he finally blurted.
"What?" she gasped, blindsided and confused.
"I'm breaking things off."
"But why? I thought... last night...?"
"It's just time. Anyway, I prefer blondes."
Esther gaped at him, shocked at the words he'd just spoken so nonchalantly. He didn't speak again or attempt to touch her but walked away without a backward glance.

≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈

"I got a draft notice," Charlie announced abruptly as he held Irene in the front seat of the Buick. They were parked at the Drive-in, celebrating their first date and graduation. Irene looked up, tears swimming in her eyes.
"Oh no. When do you have to go?" She asked as he smiled gently at her.
"Not until after the fourth of July. I'm sorry I didn't get together with you sooner. Now we don't have any time."
"But we have until the fourth, right?"
"Yeah. But you could have been my girl earlier..."
Irene leaned up and cut his words off with a kiss. "I'll be right here waiting for you."
"If you marry me, then you can be with me as soon as I get back, wherever that'll be." Charlie proposed. Irene sat back and looked at him with a frown.
"But you just broke up with Esther. Don't you think it's too soon?" She countered.
"I know I want to be with you the rest of my life. I've known for a while but I didn't know how to end things with her."
"Are you sure?"
"I am. More sure than I've ever been."
Irene thought for a moment then threw herself into his arms. "Then yes. I'll marry you."
"Before I leave?"
"Yes."
"Let's do it on the fourth of July then we can have fireworks and the whole nine yards."
"I love it!"

≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈

Esther rinsed her mouth out for the third time that morning, wishing she'd stop throwing up. Every day for the last week she'd spent the morning throwing up. Smells were horrible. Food was horrible. Life was horrible. The only thing that made her life bearable was spending time with Will.
He'd found her the day of graduation moments after Charlie had walked away, leaving her broken-hearted. She'd still been in shock until he'd taken her hand to get her attention. When Esther had looked up at Will, she'd fallen apart completely. Tears had fallen, soaking into Will's suit lapel as he'd held her, comforting her, but never judging her.
Now, however, Esther was sure he'd hate her. A suspicion had begun to grow in her mind, nagging at her, tormenting her. The stories of her mother and grandmother knowing exactly when they'd gotten pregnant based on the speed and violence of the onset of morning sickness echoed hauntingly in her mind. And now, with Irene and Charlie getting married in two days, Esther was beside herself. She looked at herself in the mirror, pale and miserable. Her stomach lurched and she dropped to the toilet once more.

≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈

"Are you sure you're okay?" Will asked Esther tentatively as they walked slowly along the street. Esther could hear the church bells peeling a block over and knew they were tolling for the newlywed couple, Charlie and Irene. The whole town knew he'd been drafted and that the wedding was rushed so that they would be officially married before he left for boot camp.
"I am. Just... Will, if I tell you something, do you promise not to hate me?" Esther answered then asked on a whim. Will stopped and looked at her curiously as she came to a halt as well, shuffling her hands nervously.
"Sure, I mean, I'll try anyway."
Esther felt tremors start in her heart as fear of his reaction overwhelmed her then slowly rippled out over her body. "I think I'm pregnant."
Her words were nothing more than a whisper but given Will's snarl of anger, she knew he'd heard her.
"Charlie?" he growled and tears filled her eyes as she nodded.
"That bastard. Did he know?" Will asked sharply and as the tears fell, Esther shook her head.
"So he just used you for sex then left the next day?" Will continued. And as the realization that she had been used rather than loved sank into Esther's heart, her tears fell harder. "I'll kill him."
"Please don't. I don't want you to be angry. Please don't hate me."
"I don't hate you... I hate him. You deserve only the best and he used you despicably. I'm going, right now, to give him a piece of my mind... maybe even my fist."
With that, Will turned and stalked up the street to the corner where he headed for the church and the reception that they both knew would be happening. Esther caught up with him, her tears now fearful.
"Please don't. I don't want you to get in trouble." She pleaded, bringing Will up short.
"I won't be, but he certainly will be."
"I haven't said anything to anyone but you... he doesn't know."
"He should know. Let's go tell him."
"Right now?"
"Yes."
Feeling off-balance and mildly afraid of the fierce look on Will's face, Esther let herself be pulled toward the church. When they rounded the corner and she saw Irene's happy face and Charlie looking at Irene the way he had the night he'd taken her innocence, a burning anger sparked in Esther. She stopped letting Will pull her and matched his stride.
"What are you two doing here?" Charlie asked as he pulled Irene into his side.
"You bas..." Will started only to be cut off by Esther's hand on his chest.
"Just giving you one small wedding gift," she spoke softly in a voice that carried nonetheless.
"What would that be?" Irene asked waspishly.
"You remember that night before graduation, Charlie? The night we went all the way... twice... in the front seat of your car?" Esther provoked in the same carrying tone and to her satisfaction, she saw Irene stiffen and glare at Charlie before returning her glare to Esther. "I'm pregnant, Charlie."
She watched as Charlie's face drained of color while Irene's reddened volatilely. Irene took a step toward Esther but Will moved to stand between the newlyweds and Esther. Irene's eyes narrowed then, unable to take her fury out on her former best friend, she turned and slapped Charlie across the face, leaving a vivid red mark on his face.
Will marched Esther away from the now arguing couple and clasped his hand with Esther's. He didn't say a word until they were back on her parent's front porch, sitting on the swing. Esther couldn't find the words to express the turmoil in her mind. The knowledge that Charlie couldn't refute her claim as he'd be leaving South Dakota the next day and that Irene's perfect wedding night was now ruined created a conflict she couldn't reconcile. That Will had been quick to defend her only exacerbated the chaos.
"Esther, now I need to tell you something and I don't want you to hate me," Will finally said. She turned on the bench of the swing and looked into his warm eyes.
"Anything, Will. I'll try my best."
"I love you. I've loved you for years."
Esther blinked in surprise, these words the last she'd ever expected to hear, especially after admitting to being pregnant with another man's baby.
"Marry me. We'll make sure the baby is loved and has no worries about being illegitimate." Will continued and Esther looked down at her hands trying to understand what was happening. A warmth she didn't understand washed over her gently and her heart beat in a happy staccato.
"Sure, Will, I'll marry you," Esther murmured. She gasped when Will engulfed her in an exuberant bear hug and kissed her deeply.

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