XVII

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"Quit starin'," Frank grumbled at her, noticing her gawking at him from the corner of his eye. "Get back to work woman."

She clicked her tongue at him, crossing her arms over her chest. "You're quite the romantic guy, Frank."

"I never said I was romantic," he grumbled, trying his hardest to just ignore her but he found it exceedingly hard.

She moved over to him, leaning on the side of the car he worked on and staring at him. He glanced up at her, clearing his throat. "Where did you get your mask?" she suddenly asked, examining his mask closely. 

She had noticed it looked like it hadn't been cleaned in a hundred years, although it was a dark charcoal color there was evidence of dirt and grime all over it and god knows what type of stains from what. Not to mention, there were divets and scrape marks all over the thing, it added to the whole dangerous vibe but it made her wonder just how long he'd been wearing it for it to get to this point.

"Why are you suddenly curious?"

"It's not sudden curiosity, I've always wanted to know," she admitted, not taking her eyes off his mask for a second. 

He sighed heavily and moved away from the car, taking a seat in the back. "Since I got here I've had it," he said, sounding indifferent but his eyes holding so many emotions. "I found the thing outside an old costume store before I got to the club and I put it on and never took it off...in front of others."

She walked over to him and sat down beside him, looking at him, mesmerized. "Why haven't you taken it off in front of others?"

"Why you askin' so many damn questions about it?" he asked defensively.

"Frank," she said, looking him in the eye. "Relax, it's just me."

Involuntarily, he did relax. He turned away from her gaze. "It's not a conversation I like to have."

She watched him closely and knew instantly she had struck a sensitive nerve. Smiling softly, she leaned over to look at him. "Then, one day, you'll tell me?"

He scoffed and grabbed her jaw. "Maybe if you get back to work I'll tell you," he grumbled and watched in amazement as her face broke into a smile and a laugh escaped her lips. The more he saw her the more he was captivated by her. Even after all the shit she had gone through, she managed to smile like that and laugh. He couldn't help himself. He cupped the side of her face gently, watching as her eyes sparkled when they looked up at him. "What makes you smile like that?"

She blinked a few times, completely dumbfounded by the sudden softness in his voice. Her hand reached up and fell over his, a small smile on her lips. "You do," was all she said before she stood and left his grasp, returning to the car she was working on and leaving him to sit there feeling higher than the sky. 

He'd never felt so...happy before. Hell, he couldn't remember the last time he was happy. It had to have been when he had his parents. He never thought for a second that he'd ever be able to feel that way again, that he'd live the rest of his days haunted by his demons, in darkness, but she was the light that brightened his life. 

After all these years, he could only remember a little about his parents. All his memories of them were good ones, besides the accident, but as the days had gone by it became harder and harder for him to remember anything besides the accident. It was soon becoming his only memory of them and it was in that moment he had believed he'd never have happiness again but there she was. The ray of sunshine on his gloomy existence. 

He loved her. The feeling he had for her was so strong and he just wanted to keep her entirely to himself, keep the sunshine all for him. Without realizing, he had stood from his seat and walked over to her in a few quick strides. She turned, hearing him come towards her, her eyes filled with concern. He towered over her, placing a hand on her jaw and cupping her face, his other hand lifting his mask up, just enough to expose his mouth, and smashing his lips down on hers in a powerful kiss. 

She froze, her eyes wide with shock at the rather attractive series of events that unfolded before her and the fact that he had actually lifted his mask to kiss her and the fact that he was an extremely good kisser. 

He kissed her like his life depended on it, every single emotion he'd been feeling since he met her rushing through. She fell even more for him in that moment, kissing him back with the same intensity. 

"Ahem," Drake said, clearing his throat from the front of the shop. 

Frank pulled away from her and pulled his mask down before turning to look over at Drake, Charlie standing beside him a flustered mess. Her hair was slightly messed up from where his hand was, her lips pink and swollen and her eyes glazed over. 

"Learn some class, Frank. Don't you know sexy time is for the bedroom?" Drake joked, smiling happily at the two. 

Frank grunted at him, moving over to his station, casting a glance in her direction and smiling under his mask. Her cheeks were pink as she leaned on the car for support. It was the first time he smiled in a decade and she couldn't even see it. 

Before, the thought of having anyone see his face frightened him but now he was considering burning the damn thing just so she could see how happy she made him. 

"So you two finally got together, huh?" Drake said, stilling smiling like a goofball. "Well, if it's any consolation, you two are my favorite couple."

 Charlie smiled, chuckling lightly at his response. She turned and looked at Frank. "It was long awaited."

He rolled his eyes at her and smiled under his mask at the sound of her laugh. He'd really gone soft this time.





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