"So what's the deal with your parents?" Rory asked me.
"Well, I was conceived when my parents got drunk and forgot to use contraception so I suppose that makes me an accident. My mum never treats me like one, though. My dad was already married at the time of my conception and when my mum found out, she refused to speak to him again. All I know is that he's French and his name is Patrick."
"Oh... He sounds like an awful person."
"Yeah," I agreed. "But my mum was no better for getting drunk and letting this happen."
"I'm glad it did, personally," Rory said, grinning and kissing me. "So does your father know about you?"
"Yeah, my mum told my dad as soon as she took a pregnancy test. That was before she found out he had a wife."
"Can I meet your mum?"
"Sure: I need to introduce you as my boyfriend to her."
"D'you want to go now?"
"Yes please. I'm eager to meet this woman whose method of bringing up children has produced this wonderful girl I've fallen in love with."
I laughed. "She'd be bewildered if you told her that."
I stood up and waited for Rory to stand up too.
I led him to my house and let him in. Inside, it was gloriously cool.
"Mum," I called. "I've brought someone I'd like you to meet."
Mum walked into the living room where I'd invited Rory to sit down on a sofa. She froze when she saw him.
"Charley, what is he doing here?"
"You know him already? Rory's my boyfriend."
Mum looked horrified. "Your boyfriend?! Charley, people say that he's involved with evil spirits!!"
"I didn't know you were superstitious," I said. "And Rory's not evil. He's lovely."
"He's probably deceived you into thinking that! Send him out! I don't want you to ever see him again."
"Mum, no! He is not evil!"
"You don't know that!"
Rory had risen to his feet. "Miss Linton, I would never hurt your daughter. I know what people say about me but I believe I am a decent person with the best intentions and a lack of will to harm people."
He knew my surname? I thought in surprise.
Yeah, came Rory's mental voice in my mind. I kind of picked that up when you said I could stop tuning out your thoughts.
My mum looked pale but angry. "Get out of my house, demon!"
"Okay," Rory said, shocking me. "I'll leave this house. It's yours after all. But your daughter shouldn't be prevented from seeing me if that's what she wants."
"No, Rory, you don't have to go," I protested.
"I think it's for the best," Rory said, turning to me. "I don't want to upset your mother."
Hypnotise her, I thought desperately.
His mental reply was full of surprise. You want me to?
Yes. I don't want you banned from my house.
Are you sure? he thought-asked me dubiously.
Rory approached my mother. His hair was turning silver and his eyes were going caramel-coloured.
My mother watched him warily.
"I'm very sorry, Miss Linton, for any distress I've caused you," he said.
My mother looked suddenly transfixed by his eyes. Her face went blank. A few seconds later, hereyes closed and her head slumped forwards.
"When you wake up, you will no longer believe me to be evil," Rory said. "You won't have any objection to my presence in my home and you will allow Charley to continue seeing me."
His eyes and hair returned to normal as he patted her shoulder.
"I'm ever so sorry," my mum said. "I don't know what came over me." She smiled. "Of course you can see my daughter, Rory."
Rory smiled. "That's very kind of you, Miss Linton."
"Call me Sarah. Would you like anything to drink, either of you?"
"No thanks," I replied for the both of us, smiling too.
But you can have a drink in my room, I thought, intending Rory to hear it.
I led Rory to my room. We sat on the bed. I made myself comfortable. Rory kissed my neck before he gently bit down and began to drink.
Afterwards, he looked at me searchingly. "Are you okay? Tired? Weak?"
Mesmerised by his caramel eyes, I found myself replying without my conscious permission.
"I'm fine: not tired or weak."
"Oops," Rory said, and his eyes turned brown again.
I sighed contentedly and reached up to stroke his face.
He leant in and our lips brushed. I closed my eyes and luxuriated in our love for each other.