‘Ch-Charlie,’ I stammered in my mind.
At this, he calmed down considerably.
You’re right. We do have to think about Charlie.
‘What actually happened tonight?’ I asked.
I woke your parents from their trances and then started to follow you upstairs. Then, I saw false memories of my departure in your mind and realised you’d been hypnotised too. I had to leave the house to ‘come back’.
You were really angry?
Well, of course. I’d been looking forward to tonight, so it was frustrating. I was also extremely concerned. I don’t think I’ve ever met someone who carries out the suggestions from another’s trance.
You were worried?
Of course. I still am. I’m going to take you to my mum and ask her about this.
We have to walk to your house?
Nah, I’ll just ask her to drive down and pick us up.
There was a small silence. Suddenly, Christopher sat down beside me and stared intently into my eyes.
I’m sorry, Terri.
You have nothing to apologise for. Maybe I was just really suggestive.
‘I love you.’ And he leant in to kiss me with fierce despair.
He pulled me so I was lying down. The way he was kissing me, you’d think there was no tomorrow. Tears flooded his cheeks. He finally broke away so we had a chance to breathe. He sat up to catch his breath.
I can understand if you hate me, Terri
What? I don’t hate you.
Really? You were so scared when I was angry, though.
‘Wouldn’t anyone be?’ At this, he chuckled.
I love you, Terri. Forgive me?
Of course. The kiss was an apology, wasn’t it?
He chuckled again. ‘Yes, yes it was.’
‘Christopher..?’ I paused.
Yes, my dove?
I love you too.
Moments later, a car pulled up on the gravel. Christopher and I snuck out through the back door. In front of the house was a blue people-carrier. Christopher and I sat in the middle as his mum drove us to his house.
“Had a nice night, Rosie?” I asked.
Rosie answered, “Dearie, the moon is up. You can call me my real name.”
I blushed. Christopher chuckled softly beside me.
“I don’t actually know your real name, Mrs Parker,” I told her truthfully, feeling slightly embarrassed.
“Roxanna. So, why did you want to enter the house on the hill at night, Terri?”
“Because that’s where Christopher lives. If I go with him, it’ll mean more time for us together.”
“That’s sweet, dear.”
“And also, I’m worried,” Christopher announced.
The car stopped and we got out and walked to the house. Rosie let us in.
“About what, my dear?”
“Terri’s really, really suggestible.”
“Come and sit down in the kitchen, and tell me about it.”
A few minutes later, we were sat with steaming cups of hot chocolate in our hands.
“How long since you’ve fed?” Roxanna asked.
“Oh, only about 1 or 2 hours ago.”
“Well, that may be why.”
“She’s suggestible because I fed?” He struggled with what his mother was trying to tell him.
“No, you’re more hypnotic because you’ve fed. Blood enhances our powers for up to two hours. If you suggest something to someone in a trance, now, she’ll probably just ignore you.” She paused, but I guessed Christopher was using telepathy to communicate something. My thoughts were confirmed when she answered, “Try it? Yes, ok then.”
I looked questioningly at Christopher. He just smiled at me.
He then stared at his mother, until her head slumped forward and all her muscles went limp.
“When I tap you’re shoulder, you will leave the room and return in five minutes.” He tapped her on the shoulder. As she left, he smiled gratefully at her.
“Now,” he said, turning to me. “Let’s hope you won’t do what I told Mum to.”
He gently tapped my shoulder. I rose, barely aware of what I was doing. Oops, I thought to myself.
“Oops indeed.” He looked very concerned.
I met Roxanna in the garden.
“How’d it go?” she asked.
“Let’s just say, I didn’t want to be out here.”
“Oh dear,” she murmured.
Christopher walked outside. He looked around until he spotted me. He walked up to us. “Oh, Terri.” He shook his head.
He stared intently into his mother eyes and gently suggested that she didn’t have to go back to the kitchen if she didn’t want to. His suggestion was soft, so I suppose I wouldn’t have responded to it.
He looked at me and said, in his most enchanting and musical tone, “You can stay outside if you’d like to, too.”
I wondered briefly what he meant, but then realised it was a suggestion.
He turned to his mum. “Mum, that shouldn’t have happened, should it have?”
“I’m not sure dearie. Whose blood did you drink tonight?”
“You volunteered?” she asked, turning to me. “That’s nice.”
“How did you know?” I asked.
“Mum’s psychic, too,” Christopher reminded me.
Oh, of course. I felt very stupid.
“She likes your laugh,” noted Roxanna, obviously detecting the thrills I was experiencing.
“There’s little about me she doesn’t like.”
“So, she might be more suggestible when it’s you who makes the suggestion, perhaps? Or maybe it’s because you fed on her.”
“We could certainly test the former theory, but we’d only be able to test the latter when I next feed, and it could be a combination of reasons. Let’s test the first and if we have few more answers afterwards, we’ll call it a night. We have to try and figure this problem out.”
Roxanna turned to me. “You don’t mind, do you? All this testing?”
“Oh, no. If Christopher’s worried, the problem’s probably worth investigating.” ‘I love you,’ I told him in my head.
“He loves you very much, too. Even as Charlie,” Roxanna told me.
I smiled. “Your son is wonderful, Roxanna.”
Christopher coughed. “Still here, still alive.”
We all grinned at that.
Then, Roxanna said in a beautiful, clear voice, “Terri, go and wash up.”
‘Don’t add salt to anyone’s tea,’ Christopher teased, winking. Roxanna looked slightly bemused when he said this.
I didn’t move, though.
“That’s great, Terri,” Christopher told me.
“Isn’t it?” I beamed. “A pair of earmuffs will help us out here.”
‘No,’ Christopher countered. ‘I intend to abuse the effect I have on you, so that the part of you which makes you obey suggestions not intended for you can see that really isn’t a wise idea,’ he teased.
“Now, go to sleep.”
The world turned black.
I awoke on a comfortable sofa positioned facing a log fire. I stretched and yawned. In an armchair perpendicular to the sofa, I could see Harry’s head peeking at me from above a giant newspaper.
“Were you tired, kiddo?”
“Not really. Christopher wanted me to sleep. I wonder why.”
Harry glanced above me and grinned. I looked up and smiled, too. Christopher stroked my shoulder.
“I was worried I’d kept you up a lot. Also, I wanted to talk to Mum.” ‘I asked her how I can make you feel special’, he continued in my head.
“Easy,” I answered aloud. “Serenade me a lot.”
He chuckled, unfazed by his dad’s presence.
“Serenade her?” Harry snorted.
“He serenades wonderfully,” I told him. “That was the first thing he did in the history of our relationship.”
“Wow,” Harry murmured. “Remind me to do that for Roxanna one day.”
The silence was only interrupted by the crackle of logs in the fire. Christopher came and sat beside me. He started to stroke my leg.
Harry was about to return to his newspaper when Christopher asked, “Dad, can I hunt tomorrow?”
‘Hunt?’ I wondered.
I want to see if the fact I drank your blood affected your suggestibility.
“As long as you’re careful, son.” Christopher and I smiled to ourselves.
I suddenly remembered something.
“Harry, remember to tell Charlie he fainted and had to be taken home, okay?”
Why don’t you tell me yourself?
“I can stay?” I asked aloud.
Harry looked up, puzzled. “Who said that?”
“Christopher,” I replied, too excited to feel sorry for his lack of psychic ability.
“Check it with your mother first,” Harry told Christopher.
Christopher left the room to find his mother, and I was left in the living room with Harry.
“You two really love each other,” he mused.
“Yeah.” I paused. Then, I took a deep breath. “Harry, do you mind if I ask if you ever feel like you prefer Rosie to Roxanna, or the other way around?”
“Countless times. But protecting Rosie from danger strengthened the bond I had with her as a human.”
I dwelled upon this.
“Can I hear the story of the relationship between you and Roxanna?”