As soon as I woke up, I jumped out of bed. I was overjoyed that I was going to make Charlie happy today. It was what he deserved for being such a decent guy. I briefly reflected upon the fact that I probably deserved neither Charlie nor Christopher but I saw this as an opportunity to put things right,
Mum and Dad were very relieved to see me happy, as I left the cottage with a spring in my step. I was glad that they wouldn’t have to worry about me until I was naughty or irresponsible again., I was extremely lucky to have two brilliant who’d be there to support me and care for me, I contemplated.
Along the walk, I considered different ways of breaking the news to Charlie. I could either smile happily to reveal my decision instantly, appear serious and grave and then surprise him, or could pretend to be sad that I was going to put him through a potentially difficult situation. I decided on being serious. I enjoyed being mysterious.
At the door, I tried to keep a straight face as Charlie’s figure came towards the door. He opened it and bit his lip. Tentatively, he said, “Good morning, Terri.”
“Charlie,” I said gravely, “I’ve made up my mind.”
Charlie looked unhappy, as if fearing the worst. He looked at the ground.
“Charlie,” I repeated gently. “Will you take me back?”
He looked up and beamed. “Really?”
He took me by surprise by throwing his arms around me.
“Oh Terri!” Happiness filled his voice. “I missed you so much! Just wait till Mum and Dad hear the news.”
I grinned. I gently pushed him away, so I could look at his face as I told him, “I love you.” I kissed him.
Then, he gently pushed me away. “I love you too.”
I would never love him as much as I loved Christopher, I admitted to myself, but he’d always be special.
An hour later, I was sitting between Charlie and Rick as Rosie drove us to the train station. I pretended to be absent-mindedly staring out the windscreen as I conversed with Rick in my head.
‘I’ll miss you,’ he told me.
‘Same,’ I replied.
‘If you ever have any problems, call me.’ He wordlessly handed me a slip of paper with a mobile number written on it. He smiled.
‘Have you got a pen?’ I asked.
‘Yes, and some paper too.’ He got these out.
‘0, 7, 7...’ I started.
‘Stop!’ He chuckled. ‘Don’t you think Charlie will get suspicious?’
‘Good point.’ I could imagine the look of bewilderment on Charlie’s face if Rick had started writing out my mobile number. I wrote it down and gave it to him.
His hand clasped mine as I handed him the slip of paper. I squeezed it gently before letting go. Thankfully, Charlie was looking out of his window and didn’t notice a thing.
Rick silently stroked my cheek with a finger.
I realised we’d stopped.
“Goodbye,” he said as he left the car. ‘I love you.’
“Goodbye,” I replied. ‘Come back and visit soon.’
0:00 read the screen of my glow-in-the-dark alarm clock. Midnight. Exactly.
A soft haunting melody travelled through my open window.
“Come, come, delightful one...”
He broke off with a soft chuckle.
‘What kept you?’ I thought to him.
I thought this would be more romantic.
Come in, then. The back door’s unlocked.
Coming, my dove.
Oh, and Christopher?
‘Yes, my dove?’ His enchanting voice was almost singing with happiness.
I love you.
He chuckled softly. I love you too.