Love for Charlie

He laughed shortly. “Me? Give over.”

I said nothing

“What? You’re serious?”

I merely nodded.

“But... Wait! How are you so confident? You can’t be serious if the declaration is easy.”

I shrugged. “I guess I’m brave.”

Internally, I winced. I wasn’t actually that drawn to his human side, not even half as much as I was drawn to his vampire side.

He looked at me. “You don’t ... appear to be in love.”

“Different symptoms?” I shrugged

He gazed at me with an unfathomable expression. Suddenly, I felt as if he were holding my gaze. The blue of his eyes seemed as if something hidden was raging behind them. I felt enfolded by layers, unable to look away from those blue depths...

My heart fluttered. Depths...

“You don’t really love me, do you?” He looked away. I wanted him to look at me again, to stare into my eyes. My thoughts were scattered and it took a few seconds to answer.

“I do,” I insisted. The response was short, but I found some truth in it. Unfortunately, I’d taken too long to answer. He took my hesitancy as a period of self-conviction, probably thinking I’d been steeling myself to answer right.

“Don’t lie!” He stood up. I quickly followed suit.

“I’m not!”

“You are! I saw it in your eyes. You looked sad. Love isn’t sad!”

“I’m not lying! Please, you have to believe me, Chr...-Charlie.” He glared as I almost got his name wrong.

“I have to? So your friends can laugh at me? Who set this up? Someone must have known!”

“Known what?” I asked, though already making guesses.

“I’m in love with you!”he cried despairingly. “Terri, I’ve loved you since the first time I saw you! Three nights ago, I saw you at sunset on the beach. I saw you, sitting there, looking tranquil and calm and beautiful. You took my breath away. I wanted to be part of than peaceful scene. I’ve seen you at school. You’re lovely to everyone and so... so sincere...” He broke off and started to sob. Actual tears flowed down his face.

“Was it a façade?” he asked through his tears. “’Cause the Terri I fell in love with would never do this to anyone.”

“Oh, Charlie.” I started to cry too. “I said it completely wrong. I do love you. I dreamt you serenaded me and I dreamt that we kissed. Perhaps, I thought that detaching myself from the situation would allay the fear of rejection.”

 I wished I didn’t have to lie, but I needed to rescue the relationship.

“You dreamt I serenaded you? But, I can’t sing!” And he started to laugh. I laughed with him, knowing that at night, his singing was beautiful.

He came towards me purposefully. “You don’t need to be afraid of rejection, Terri.” He stopped, inches away from me and stared intently at me. His gaze held mine, the way it had last night, and he said, “I love you.” He leant in towards me and kissed me. I sagged, suddenly overwhelmed by tiredness. He caught me, alarmed.

“Are you okay?”

“Yes, I’m very okay.”

He smiled at me. “Tell me one thing, though. Why were you sad?”

I looked away, worried that if I met his eyes, I’d tell the truth. Because truthfully, I’d been longing for Christopher: for his understanding. I had no such longing now - I could see how friendly Charlie was - but I hadn’t known Charlie well enough to truly love him when I made the declaration.

“I was worried you didn’t feel the same,” I lied, feeling awful for doing so. What else could I do, though? I doubted a referral to the last couple of nights would go down too well. Oh, by the way, Charlie, you’re a vampire. I grimaced at the thought.

Charlie lifted my chin up. “Hey, you don’t need to worry about that now,” he said softly and I suddenly found myself throwing his arms around him and kissing him, tears of relief and guilt flooding down my cheeks simultaneously. He broke away from the kiss and grabbed me by the shoulders.

“Stop crying,” he ordered fiercely.

I smiled, but new tears sprang to my eyes.

“I’m warning you.”

“Otherwise, you’ll hypnotise me and leave me?” I recalled last night’s teasing threat. I bit my lip. Oops.

He merely looked confused. He cocked his head sideways. “I’m not a hypnotist...” He frowned, his head returning to its normal position.

“Just ignore me. I’m crazy.”

“Crazy, eh?” A wild spark lit his eyes. “And what does a crazy girl want out of life?”

I laughed. “A crazy guy,” I joked.

“Crazy? Hmm...” He let go of me and, without warning, scooped me up playfully in his arms. He then proceeded to run, whilst carrying me, over to a tree. He planted me underneath it, laying me down, before kneeling beside me. I tried to push myself up, but he pushed me down again with his hand, holding me in place.

“Close your eyes,” he told me. I did so.

It seemed like I was lying there for a long while. I opened one eye. Charlie seemed to be rummaging around in a hole in the tree. I closed my eye quickly as he turned towards me. I felt gentle hands lift my right arm. Something cold slipped around my wrist. My arm was gently lowered but I felt his hand hold mine, clasping it gently as if it were precious to him.

“Open your eyes,” he murmured softly, his voice an enchanting echo of last night, though sadly not as musical.

I obliged and gazed at my wrist.

I sat up and stared. I almost cried, for there was a silver bracelet. Along the chain, tiny flower-shaped charms dangled, but the most beautiful was the one in the shape of the letter ‘T’, studded with tiny purple gems.

“I...it’s beautiful,” I gasped.

I gazed up to see Charlie looking almost tearful, moved by my reaction.

“I may not be crazy, but I believe that I can be a good and soulful lover.”

Then he murmured quietly, so softly I barely heard him, “I always hoped you’d be the one.”

I gripped his hand tightly. “I can’t imagine a more compassionate, caring lover than you.”

He looked up smiling, “Would you care to join my humble family and I for lunch, fair maiden?”

“I would find that a most wondrous experience, sweet prince.”

          Lunch was brilliant. Charlie and I walked in to the kitchen holding hands and his parents said nothing, though his father winked roguishly. The light conversation and cheery atmosphere added to the high spirits Charlie and I were in and I adored his parents’ light, carefree attitude to life: “I doubt I’ve ever seen Rosie [Charlie’s mum] frown,” remarked Harry (that was Charlie’s dad’s name).

          It was some time in the late afternoon, while the family and I were sitting together on deckchairs in the sunshine (chattering away and never seeming to run out of topics for conversation), that I remembered I had a home to return to.

“I should probably get going,” I said, standing up. “Thank you ever so much for a lovely afternoon.”

Charlie stood up. “I’ll take you home,” he said.

Charlie’s dad stood up too. “Terri, Rosie made some cake. It’s back up at the house and you can take some home for your family.”

Charlie sensed that his father wanted to talk to me in private and sat down.

          At the house, Harry handed me some cake, wrapped in kitchen roll. He looked at me. “That’s why he didn’t tell you his daytime name - you must have been occupying all his thoughts,” he mused

I blushed, not knowing how to reply.

“Thank you,” he continued. “You don’t know how happy you’re making him.” He smiled gratefully. “That’s all I had to say, really. And if you ever need any advice, I’d like you to know that I was in your situation, too, once. I had to do the same thing with Rosie that you’ve done with Charlie. It was much more difficult for me, and perhaps, one day, I’ll tell you that story.”

I stared open-mouthed at him. He grinned and I smiled back.

“Thank you,” I told him sincerely.

 

I let myself and Charlie into the cottage. The door opens straight into the living room, which was where my parents were sitting on the couch. They stood to welcome Charlie.

“Mum, Dad, this is Charlie Parker.” Dad shook his hand and Mum smiled welcomingly.

Charlie nodded to both of them. “Mr and Mrs Reynolds,” he greeted.

Before we went upstairs, my mum said, “Tell me how late you intend to stay out, next time, Terri.” She wasn’t cross, she just cared. I understood and nodded.

Upstairs, I led Charlie to my room, which he’d technically been in before. He stopped at the door and glanced around the room as if it confused him somehow.

“What’s wrong?” I asked. “Not to your standards?” I teased.

“It’s not that. I’m just getting... a strange sense of déjà vu.”

“Déjà vu?” I half-ran to the window. The sun was low in the sky, but not setting. I walked to my bed and sat on it, absent-mindedly patting a space next to me for Charlie to sit down in. Surely, it was a bit too early for him to change? And also, it was summer, so the sun wouldn’t set until about 9 o’clock. My alarm clock currently read 18:00.

I shrugged. Charlie sat beside me and he shrugged too. Then he looked at me and I fainted.

The End

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