I ran downstairs, almost tripping over my own feel. When I got to the living room, I stopped, panting.
“Honey?” My mother rose uncertainly. “Are you okay? Charlie left about an hour ago. He said you fell asleep. Are you all right?”
“No, Mum,” I replied. “We had a massive argument and I think I banged my head. The ease with which I’d lied startled me, though I suppose it had been necessary to get myself to Christopher’s house.
“I need to go see him.”
There was concern in my mother’s eyes. “Are you sure that’s what’s best? If you fought...”
“I need to make it up to him,” I interrupted, desperation flooding my tone. “Please,” I implored her. “Please.”
She saw what a state I was in and nodded.
I bolted up to the green door with the white painted rose. I was half-afraid Christopher wouldn’t be here, but I knew he cared too much about Harry and Roxanna to cause them any amount of pain. I rang the doorbell and waited.
I didn’t have to wait long. Roxanna answered, looking surprised to see me at this late hour. She took one look at my face and immediately stepped back to let me in.
“In the kitchen,” she said, responding to my unspoken question. I strode down the passageway ignoring all rules of etiquette. I walked into the kitchen and found Christopher slumped at the table with his head in his hand. The glow around him was the dimmest I’d ever seen it. In fact, it seemed to be retracting into him rather than radiating out from him.
“Never EVER scare me like that again!” I shouted, not caring that I was in his house.
He looked up, startled. “Terri? What are you doing here?” His musical voice sounded weary and careworn, but still surprised.
“How DARE you nearly make me forget you! How COULD you?” I started to sob. “In fact, why didn’t you? Did you want to punish me for something?”
Christopher put a hand up to stop me. “Terri, I couldn’t bring myself to do it,” he told me quietly. “It was selfish and cruel but I looked at your face, so peaceful and beautiful and I thought, ‘I just can’t’. And now, you have every reason to hate me, because I still can’t. That suggestion is never coming, and you’re worse off for still being cursed with knowing me.
“Christopher,” I said, crying. “Christopher, I don’t hate you for not making that suggestion. I’m upset that you so nearly did. You were willing to put me into a trance and allow me to forget about you. Even though I screamed at you that I loved you. What did you think I was doing when I was declaring my love for you?!”
“I thought you were scared of being left confused with gaps in your memory.”
“Well, now you know I wasn’t...” I hoped he would see what I wanted.
He did. “No, Terri. I can’t bring myself to put you through anything like this again.”
“It’d be worse if you left me.” A fresh wave of tears began to flow.
“Would it, though?”
“How can you say that?! We are in love! LOVE!” I was getting slightly hysterical now. “A week ago, you told me that you always wanted to be with me. Now, you may have shaken me up a bit and felt terrible, but I doubt that fundamental desire has changed. And why would you want it to change when I don’t want it to either?”
“Terri!” Christopher looked alarmed. “Whoa there, girl. Calm down.”
I sat down and waited for him to say more, taking deep breaths.
“I do always want to be with you, but I’m scared of a repeat of tonight. Aren’t you?”
“Yes, of course,” I said weakly. “But I was more scared when you were prepared to hypnotise me. The latter fear will star in my darkest nightmares. I want you to always want to be with me.”
Christopher frowned and thought awhile. “Okay,” he said, infuriatingly simply.
“Okay what?” I asked, nearly shouting again.
Christopher looked puzzled. “I’m letting us stay together, of course.”
“Really?” I asked.
“Really.” He smiled.
I was as elated as I’d been when Christopher had walked into my room this evening. I felt like jumping up and down on a chair or table.
Christopher seemed to sense this.
“Don’t - you might fall and hurt yourself. I’d prefer it if you just ... fainted.” He winked and the world went black.
When I woke up, Roxanna was in the room, arms crossed. She raised her eyebrows at Christopher.
“You suggested she should faint?” She looked disapproving.
“She probably would’ve done anyway.” Here, he winked at me. I felt like I could faint again.
“That’s no excuse.”
“Mum, she felt like jumping up and down.”
“Oh, really?” She turned to me.
I blushed. “Sorry, I was just so... euphoric...”
Roxanna sighed, shaking her head. “Don’t apologise, Terri. I was hoping you’d lie because Christopher really should be in trouble.”
“Oh.” I frowned. “All right then, I didn’t.”
I stuck out my tongue at Christopher. He looked aghast.
Roxanna shook her head. “Never mind.” She left the kitchen.
Christopher stuck his tongue out at me. Then he smiled and leant out to touch my face with his finger. It brushed along my cheek.
Suddenly, Roxanna’s voice broke into my thoughts. ‘Seeing as Christopher’s ignoring me, would you like to join Harry and me in the living room?’
‘Sure,’ I answered with my thoughts. ‘I’ll see if I can’t persuade Christopher to come too.’
A new voice broke into my thoughts. It was the familiar one, the enchanting one I knew so well and loved.
Persuasion sounds fun.
I stood up and walked backwards to the door. I held Christopher’s amused-looking gaze all the while.
‘Come on then,’ I thought alluringly.
‘My dove, you are wickedly beguiling.’ He stayed sat, though.
‘Wickedly?’ I pretended to sound innocent.
‘My darling, I feel insulted that you feel the need to use such a negative-sounding word when talking about me.’
‘Crafty devil.’ He leant back in his chair and crossed his arms.
Yes, you. You’re a right dark horse. You act all innocent and lovely, but when you’ve stolen the peasant’s heart and he’s helplessly under your power, you manipulate him.
‘So, I’m cruel and manipulative?’ I pretended to sound hurt.
‘And I thought you were caring and wonderful.’ I turned around to face the door and started to walk down the passageway. I heard Christopher laugh.
My dove, come back.
‘No,’ I thought mischievously. I continued to walk.
My dove, you’ve quite forgotten the power I have over you and I don’t mean that in a romantic way.
Darn. I stopped.
His chuckle filled my mind. Now, come back before I use that power.
I turned around and walked back to him. He was still sitting down. His teasing smile was very annoying.
When I reached him, he stood up. ‘That was fun. Now we can go to the living room.’
I rolled my eyes, but said nothing.
In the living room, Christopher and I sat down on the couch I had occupied in this house more than a week ago. Harry was sitting in the armchair and Roxanna was at his feet.
I suddenly remembered something. I sat bolt upright, suddenly panicked. “Oh no...” I moaned, worried.
“It’s okay. I told your mum you’re staying the night,” Roxanna reassured me. “She left at around the time you fainted in the kitchen.”
I sighed in relied. Christopher patted my knee. I absent-mindedly took hold of his hand and then started tracing lines along his palm.
I realised no one was talking. Harry seemed to be holding Roxanna’s hand and massaging it with his thumb.
“Mel and Rick are coming tomorrow,” he mused, breaking the silence.
“Joy,” Christopher said unenthusiastically.
I suddenly remembered something Charlie had said yesterday.
“Why does Charlie know Mel’s not human?” I asked slowly.
Roxanna looked at me sharply. “What makes you think he does?”
“Oh he told me she’s weird and she glows.”
Christopher burst out laughing. His parents smiled.
“Oh m dove, the way you said that! So matter-of-fact!”
Harry looked startled when Christopher called me his dove. I ignored this and shrugged.
Christopher calmed down. “What did you mean by your question? Did you want to know why Charlie’s allowed to have suspicions or why Aunt Mel still looks inhuman by day?”
“Oh, both please.”
“Well, the first answer is ‘Because Charlie wouldn’t say anything if he did have suspicions because he’s shy’ and the second is ‘Because she’s a full vampire.’”
Christopher seemed lost in thought after he said this and he was frowning slightly.
Roxanna frowned too. “I don’t think Rick is that bad, dear.”
“What?” Harry and I asked simultaneously.
“Don’t worry,” Roxanna replied.
Harry still looked confused but Christopher was explaining to me mentally.
I was just wondering what Rick would do if he liked you.
‘Oh,’ I thought back. ‘What do you think he’d do?’
Mum’s dubious, but I’m worried he’d try to steal you away from me.
Oh, I’m sure that won’t happen.
Christopher looked concerned though, so I changed the subject.
So, are you happy I’m staying over?
What a stupid question!
‘Terri?’ He paused, looking unhappy. ‘How were you when you woke up at home?’
Oh, um, I couldn’t remember my name and my thoughts were really clouded.
‘Oops,’ he murmured.
I frowned at him. ‘What?’
It just means I looked slightly too deep in your eyes.
Well you know how your mind sort of goes blank before you go into a trance?
If the hypnotist overdoes it a bit, you wake up unable to think straight.
Okay then. Wait. How did you wake me up? I didn’t feel your hand on my shoulder and I couldn’t see you.
Oh, I just left the room and clicked my fingers in the hallway.
‘I thought about this evening. You know I’m so glad you couldn’t make me forget you,’ I mused.
What would have happened with Charlie?
You know, I never thought about that... I guess he’d have been really hurt and confused. I suppose I could have told Harry to tell him you fell out of love with him but he’d have tried to talk you back into a relationship. On the other hand, Harry might have made me go back and undo the suggestion if not change it.
Changing it may have been difficult.
‘Yes,’ Christopher agreed. ‘Unimaginably so.’
‘Hmm,’ I agreed. I felt a sudden wave of fatigue sweep over me.
Is someone ready for bed?
I nodded. ‘Oh, wait!’
‘Yes...?’ He seemed startled.
You haven’t fed tonight.
No, you’ll get thirsty while I’m asleep and you’ll have to drink without someone’s permission.
I’ve been doing that for a week.
‘Are you sure that’s okay?’ I asked dubiously.
Yes, that’s fine. Now, close your eyes: I’ll carry you upstairs.
All right then. I love you, darling.
‘Good night, my dove.’ He scooped me up gently and started to walk me slowly to the guest room. I fell asleep in his arms.