Christopher paid for the bill and we waited in the bar area for my dad to come and pick us up. To my surprise, we'd only been out for about an hour. It felt like much longer to me.
At home, Christopher and I eagerly hurried to my bedroom. Christopher stopped in the doorway. He sighed. ‘My favourite place in the world.'
I pulled him over to my bed. I sat down. "My favourite place in the world."
Christopher grinned as her sat beside me. He looked intently at me and held my gaze. I held my breath as he reached out to touch my cheek with his finger and exhaled softly as he began to gently stroke my skin. I closed my eyes to allow the sensation to be the only one I was concentrating on. I felt his other hand around the corresponding side of my waist pull me gently towards him. My arms slowly, purposefully, found their way to his shoulders. The hand of the finger Christopher had been stroking my face with slid down to my shoulder, caressing my neck along the way. I could feel him leaning towards me as I leant in towards him. As we kissed, Christopher lay down, pulling me down with him.
Suddenly, an image projected itself into my mind. I guessed Christopher was sending it. The scene was of a beach, as if you were sitting on the sand. The sand was golden-brown and the calm, blue waves stretched out to the horizon where they met the warm colours of the sky, pink and orange - it was sunset. The scene was gloriously beautiful.
‘I have to take you here one day.' Christopher's mental voice was at its most enchanting and added to the warm atmosphere.
‘This place is real?' I gasped with my thoughts.
My dove, I'm flattered you think my imagination's that vivid, but really it's not. This is where Dad met Mum.
‘It's beautiful,' I thought. ‘And you've been here?'
I lived there for thirteen years.
If we ever lived together, I'd want to live here.
I vaguely realised that Christopher and I had stopped kissing, although we were still embracing each other with our noses touching side by side, and I resumed kissing him.
‘It would be lovely to get married there.' I thought.
That's what Sandy said...
I abruptly stopped kissing him. I gently pushed myself into a sitting position. Christopher sat up to make this easier for me. He was looking very pensive and a little sad.
"Sandy?" I asked.
Yes. Sandy. The waitress at the restaurant. She was my first girlfriend when I moved here.
"You've had other girlfriends?"
You sound surprised, my dove.
"Oh, well, I suppose that's because you're my first boyfriend."
Really? A pretty, enchanting, flattering girl such as you and I'm her first?
"Yeah. I never really liked any of the other guys I know in that way."
I feel honoured to be your first.
"I just feel special being your girlfriend."
My dove, if people got paid for being flattering, you'd be a millionaire.
I smiled. "So..., Sandy?"
‘Sandy.' Christopher sighed. ‘I treated her so badly.'
"I can't imagine that."
‘Well, I've changed a lot since then.' He took a deep breath, even though he was still speaking with his thoughts. Whatever he was about to say must be incredibly difficult. ‘Terri, you have to understand that I was ignorant back then. I'm not trying to make excuses but I promise that who I was is completely different to who I am now.'
I smiled reassuringly. "Are you honestly asking for my understanding?" I asked gently. I continued, "Four months ago, you forgave me for kissing your cousin."
That was forgivable.
"If that was, how is being ignorant not?"
I don't see how anyone could have forgiven me. I was very self-centred and everything had to be about me. I was like Rick. In fact, we were best friends. If you ever saw us together, you'd think we were brothers. I used my powers whenever I could - to charm, make suggestions, ‘persuade'. I took it for granted that girls fell head over heels for me. I started to see it as a natural reaction to me.
"Are you sure you still don't do those things?" I teased.
‘Terri, please,' he implored. ‘Looking back, I was a jerk. Thank goodness I dated Sandy, though I still hate myself for how I treated her. I'd never have changed, otherwise.'
I stroked his shoulder to comfort him. "I love you, Christopher. I won't hold you say now against you." ‘I'll understand,' I told him with my thoughts.
Christopher hugged me before continuing his tale.
I had just turned 14. That weekend, Charlie had a party on the field in front of the hill. He and his friends were having a picnic.
"His friends?" I interrupted.
Few of Charlie's friends know me. I bet the ones who don't would get a shock if they met me.
"Ah yes. One must have certain tolerance levels to be a friend of Christopher's," I said with mock gravity.
Christopher smiled. So, they were sitting in a circle around plates of food from which they helped themselves. Charlie was sitting next to Sandy. They reached for the same plate simultaneously and their hands brushed against each other. They both apologised and Sandy blushed bright red.
At the end of the party, Sandy was the last to leave. Her parents got help up in traffic, or something. Charlie and Sandy went for a stroll in the woods. They were sitting in a clearing and suddenly the sun broke out from behind a cloud. The light illuminated Sandy's features. Charlie realised that Sandy was very beautiful, with her long, shining blonde hair and sky blue eyes.
‘You're so beautiful,' he told her.
She blushed. Shyly, she said, ‘You're really handsome.'
Before Charlie realised what was going on, they were leaning in to kiss each other. That's how the relationship started.
"What went wrong?" I asked.
That evening, Sandy returned because she'd forgotten her cardigan. She saw me in the living room and Mum explained what I was.
‘Hi Sandy,' I said, when Mum had finished the explanation.
‘Hi,' she said politely. ‘Um, I guess we're a couple, too.' She held out a hand, unsure how to greet me. I took her hand and kissed it.
"Just like Rick," I said, remembering the time he'd greeted me in the same way. I laughed.
She was flattered but I could tell she didn't have feelings for me. I was slightly frustrated. Every girl liked me.
‘I'm very honoured,' I told her, really turning on the charm. I was sure I'd said it as enchantingly as I could, but again, she was just flattered, In fact, she seemed a little uncomfortable at what any other girl would have found irresistible. I heard her thinking, ‘Is he always like this?'
‘Yes,' I replied aloud.
She looked startled. ‘Can you read minds?'
‘Could you not read mine?' she requested politely.
‘Okay,' I answered dubiously. No one had ever asked me that before,
Still, before she left, I ‘accidentally' heard her think, ‘He is nothing like Charlie.'
So Sandy was one of those rare girls who preferred Charlie to me. I was annoyed at her ‘strange' preference. She was always slightly uncomfortable around me and I couldn't bear being disliked in any way. She was always nice to me, though. She treated me as a friend, even though she saw me as a scary, supernatural being.
"What did you do?" I murmured.
Punished her. If we did kiss, she was a gentle kisser, reflecting upon her good nature and disapproval or roughness and violence, so I kissed her roughly and passionately. She really hated that. I read her mind as she'd requested me not to, flattered her in my most enchanting voice, ‘suggested' she should beg for kisses I'd ‘persuaded' her to think she wanted and I was just generally nasty to her.
"Whoa," I gasped involuntarily.
I probably would have been endangering her sanity if it hadn't been for Charlie. Charlie and Sandy were perfect for each other - both of them selfless, kind-hearted, compassionate people.
"How did it end?"
One night, she just couldn't take it anymore. She dumped me, telling me I needed help. Before she left, she told my dad everything. He sat down with me and we talked. He realised that I was ignorant and so he became supportive.
Charlie, of course, was heartbroken when Sandy dumped him and his pain helped me change.
Christopher looked at me pleadingly. ‘I know what I did can't ever be justified, but I swear I'm different now.'
I blinked to clear my thoughts and looked at the face I'd been avoiding for the tale. All his features cried out' anguished' and the glow around him was almost invisible.
"I forgive you," I told him. "You're not the same person and I totally accept that."
‘Oh, my dove.' Christopher grabbed me around the waist and started kissing me fiercely.
"Are you friends now?" I wondered. He'd finished his act of gratitude and now, we were lying on our sides facing each other.
Yes. When I'd completely changed and put the past behind me, I went to Sandy's house and apologised. Her instant forgiveness made me feel guilty but I tried to redeem myself. Since then, we've remained fierce friends. Unfortunately for Charlie, she'll never quite be able to date him again because the relationship would be tainted with bad memories, but they'll always be there for each other.
I suddenly recalled something I'd been curious about earlier.
"What happened between you and Rick?"
Well, when he discovered I was a new person, he was still what I used to be. My unwillingness to use my powers unnecessarily anymore and my kinder nature (I'd stopped being self-centred then) annoyed him, and we had a massive fallout. We disliked each other until this summer when you revolutionised his way of thinking. We're friends again now.
"He hasn't been down since then," I mused.
‘What? Missing him, are you?' Christopher teased.
"Yeah. I definitely made the wrong decision," I teased back.
Christopher's eyes suddenly bored into mine. The blue depths scattered my thoughts. ‘Ah, you won't mind if I make you forget me, then.'
For a minute, it seemed possible that I could forget him just by him staring into my eyes. The blue depths enveloping me cleared my mind completely, but then he started kissing me. The warmth and love I felt him convey filled the space in my mind. It was like bathing in the sun while simultaneously feeling like a cat being stroked.
‘Could I persuade you I am the right decision?' His beautiful voice provided more warmth.
‘Oh, you already have,' I thought back, my lips too occupied with kissing him for me to talk.
Oh, that's a shame. I don't think I've used persuasion on you.
‘I'm not a toy,' I thought to him, sending mental laughter.
Oh, aren't you, my dove? I thought you were whatever I wanted you to be.
Where did you get that impression?
Your hyper-suggestibility was a big hint.
‘But you're too decent to take advantage of that,' I thought to him innocently and lovingly.
My dove, I'm no angel.
You love like one.
My dove, you think of me too highly.
I am in love with you.
‘And therefore, you'll allow me to use persuasion on you,' he thought wickedly.
I rolled my eyes and pushed him away.
"You really like being a mischief-maker, don't you?"
But, of course. Everyone has their own source of entertainment.
"What would you do if I were a mischief-maker?"
I imagined tying Christopher to my desk and leaving me there until sunrise when he would transform into a very confused Charlie.
‘My dove, if you ever showed any intention of doing that, I'd tie you up first.'
He sent me images of me tied up in Charlie's bedroom and Charlie coming in to find me sat there like some seriously unhinged stalker.
And if you were a mischief-maker, I'd ensure you were my partner in crime, rather than against me. The things we would do...
His eyes suddenly lit up. He grinned at me.
My dove, you have given me a wonderful idea for a persuasion.
Oh dear, I thought. I bit my lip. What have I done?
"Oh, come on," Christopher said aloud. I was overcome by a sense of dread. "Mischief-making would be fun," he said, in his most captivating voice. I felt the power of the persuasion when he emphasised the word ‘would'. It was like a lever had switched on in my brain, telling me to agree with him.
I desperately tried to hold on to my ability to object, thinking 'No!' as hard as I could.
"My dove, you aren't strong enough to resist me," he chuckled, using more persuasion.
I found myself helplessly agreeing with him. ‘Why even try?' asked an annoying voice in the back of my mind.
Christopher rolled his eyes. "My dove, you want to be a mischief-maker." He almost sang this sentence and I knew he had won.