“Morning Charlie,” greeted my dad politely. “It’s a lovely day. There’s a garden swing behind the cottage, if you want to sit there.” His tone indicated Charlie should, and fast.
Charlie nodded and walked to the garden. I briefly wondered if we’d spent enough time in the garden to cause ‘too much déjà vu’. I hoped so. I could do without the coming lecture.
But Christopher didn’t appear, so I took a deep breath, looking at the ground, before I said, “Hi, Dad.”
“Hi,” he said shortly. “We got a call from Mrs Parker last night, saying you were sleeping over at the Parkers’ house. Care to explain what you were doing there in the first place?”
“I went there with Charlie.” I nervously pawed the ground with my foot.
“Without telling myself or your mother?”
The next few moments, I was shouted at for irresponsibility, naughtiness and downright stupidity (“What were you thinking?”). At the end, Dad said, “The boy can stay for lunch, since he’s here, but after today, you are grounded for a week. Be thankful it’s not until the end of the holidays.”
I was surprised at how lightly I was getting off.
When I went round the back, Charlie looked extremely bemused. “What was that about?”
“Me staying over last night. You didn’t exactly faint at midnight,” I told him, remembering he’d been Christopher for half of it.
“Oh,” he said, but he still looked puzzled.
“Let’s go to my room,” I said eagerly, abruptly changing the subject.
When we got to my room, I went to sit on the bed. I closed my eyes until I heard Christopher’s mental voice.
Do you want me to get you ungrounded?
“No, thanks,” I replied. “I kind of deserved what I got. I actually thought I got off quite lightly.”
He sat beside me and I opened my eyes to look at him. All of this morning’s emotions flooded me as I gazed at him longingly. I jumped on his lap, turning to kneel on his thighs as I embraced him and started kissing him, tears flowing down my cheeks.
I stopped kissing him, noticing he wasn’t responding. Then he unexpectedly started to cry too. He hugged me tightly.
I love you too, Terri, and I don’t care if you love Charlie more; I’ll just do what I can to make you happy.
He started kissing me so passionately that I almost forgot to be surprised at what he had said.
‘What do you mean ‘love Charlie more’?’ I asked with my thoughts.
‘I thought you called me a moron.’ He stopped kissing me to frown.
“I was hardly going to tell Charlie you were the love of my life!” I laughed.
‘You were lying?’ He looked dubious.
“Of course! You were the first person I thought of when I saw Charlie this morning. Things would have been rather awkward, had Charlie been psychic.”
‘Really?’ He beamed.
I smiled back.
Why are you crying then?
“Because I missed you so much! I know it’s wrong and it’s not fair on Charlie but I needed your understanding while I was in deep water. I mentioned you in my sleep and called Rosie Roxanna, for goodness’ sake!”
I couldn’t say anymore. I just sat there, my tears drying on my cheek. I looked down at my bed. Christopher lifted my chin and gazed intently at me. I made an effort to stare deeper, to lose myself in those warm, loving depths.
‘Terri.’ His voice was so soft and enchanting that I felt like I was being wrapped in luxury. ‘I understand.’
Those were the words I needed to hear. I let go of my thoughts and fell into the blackness beneath the blue.
‘Terri,’ Christopher was laughing. I felt him stroking my shoulder. ‘Did you mean for that to happen? ‘
“What did I do?” I asked, unsure of what I’d woken up from.
He chuckled. ‘You went into a trance. It seemed quite deliberate.’
“How’d I go into a trance?” I wondered.
You stared very deep into my eyes. I felt like you were trying to see into my mind. I thought to myself ‘I’ll let her search for whatever she wants to find’ and then, suddenly, you went into a trance. It was most bemusing.
“Oh,” was all I could say, not quite sure how to respond to this bewildering explanation.
He chuckled again. ‘What were you doing?’
“Trying to lose myself in your eyes,” I replied truthfully. “I wanted to be immersed in you.”
‘Aw, that’s very romantic.’ He was still stroking my shoulder. ‘Did you get what you wanted?’
“Sort of. I did feel surrounded by your warmth, but I didn’t quite lose myself because I didn’t let go of my thoughts until you told me you understood me.”
And by then, you’d stared deep enough to hypnotise me.
Yes. Your eyes have a very captivating way of melting. If you’d maintained a level of intense staring and held my gaze, I’d probably be in a trance right now.
“But, I don’t have hypnotic powers...”
Oh, everyone has a few. You just have to know how to induce trances. That’s what I meant when I said I was less hypnotic as a human.
“I’d wondered what you meant!” I exclaimed. “Something in Charlie’s eyes hinted at mesmerising depths. I was worried he could hypnotise me into telling the truth.”
Really? Good on you for resisting him, then. So, what are we going to do today?
He thought his question so alluringly that I wondered why I wasn’t leaning in to kiss him. Christopher must have heard me wonder this because then he chuckled, and thought, ‘Oh, I love you, Terri.’
“I love you, too.” I gazed into his eyes. “We have to sort out a plan for today before we do anything romantic, though.”
Stuff doing anything in an order. My plan is I make your life difficult until you give in and kiss me. Do you like it?
“I love it but...”
‘Let’s go along with it, then,’ he interrupted and started stroking the side of my face.
“Christopher!” I said desperately.
‘Yes?’ He smiled innocently.
“Enchant me. Please...”
‘So, I’m enchanting you, am I?’ He rested his head against my cheek. It was getting difficult to breathe as he moved his hands down to hold mine, interlocked his fingers with mine and raised one of my hands to kiss it.
“Yes,” I said helplessly.
‘Are you enjoying it?’ He lifted his head off my shoulder to stare into my eyes. My thoughts scattered.
I won’t stop then. Why stop something both parties are finding pleasurable?
A crazy idea came into my mind. It was ludicrous and slightly scary but if it made Christopher stop, it may be worth a try.
I stared quite deep into his eyes and held tight to my thoughts. I tried to hold his gaze.
Christopher froze. ‘Terri,’ he almost whispered. ‘Please be careful.’
“Let me talk,” I told him and relaxed my stare. I looked away, feeling slightly uncomfortable.
“Sorry. That was a bit drastic, wasn’t it?”
I could hear him sigh with relief. ‘Not really.’ He shrugged. His tone was reassuring. ‘You got me to stop, which was your intention. It would’ve been a bit much if I’d gone into a trance, but I didn’t.’
“No?” I asked.
‘No,’ he said gently. ‘I wouldn’t be talking now if I was in a trance, since you haven’t done anything that could’ve woken me up yet. What did you want to say to me, then?’
“We have to plan today carefully, because Charlie will be confused when he ‘wakes up’.”
“Is there any way you can change back?”
Yeah. By going outside in daylight.
“That simple, eh? So, if you get too much déjà vu outside, what happens?” I asked, thinking back to earlier.
Charlie simply remains Charlie and shrugs the feeling of déjà vu off.
“That’s interesting. So, I think we should sit in the garden for a while before lunch. I can tell Charlie he fainted... But, how will I say he got outside?”
Tell Charlie that he ran out just before he fainted. Say you’re worried because he hit his head on the swing.
“Clever. Lunch will be ready soon. Let’s go out now.”
‘Okay.’ He sounded resigned. ‘I’ll sneak back in tonight.’
“Thanks,” I smiled.
‘For what? I like visiting you.’ He kissed me passionately before we left the room.