Rick and I sat down on my bed. I suddenly realised that I didn't know why I'd asked him over? Why did I want him here?
To apologise, perhaps? His warm voice was comforting.
"That's a good point," I said, nodding. "I shouldn't have kissed you back. Sorry. Charlie wasn't even annoying me. Even then, my actions would have been non-justifiable."
Rick sounded wistful as he murmured, ‘I had hoped you were only sorry for punching me.'
"I'm more sorry for what the attack became, to be honest. In my eyes, you did deserve a few punches."
Rick grinned. He hesitated before thinking, ‘You know what I wish? I wish I could have you by day. You don't love Charlie, no matter how hard you try to fool yourself and him, and well, it's clear you love me.'
"That is a desirable wish," I murmured.
‘You agree?' Rick sounded surprised.
"Of course. You're right about me loving you and not loving Charlie, so having you by day would be the logical thing."
I looked up at Rick. I placed my hand on his.
‘Would a kiss be justifiable if you neither returned it nor condoned it aloud?' Rick wondered.
"Allowing it at all would render it not so."
Perhaps if you weren't thinking straight...
"Maybe if I wasn't thinking of things like that at all..."
I stared deliberately into his eyes and allowed my thoughts to scatter. The emerald depths enveloped me and made my mind go blank. I maintained my focus as I felt him lean in towards me. I stayed still as his lips brushed against mine. The kiss was short, though pleasurable.
‘I didn't want to torture you with a long one,' Rick clarified as he broke away.
"Thank you," I whispered.
I lay down and rolled onto my front, unable to quite believe how wicked I was. You monster, I thought to myself.
Nah. I'm the real criminal.
"If only that were true," I sighed.
I felt Rick rub my back. "Where's this diary, then?" he asked, changing the subject.
‘Under my pillow,' I thought to him. I was suddenly tired. I wondered if wanting to sleep would make me seem like I was turning a blind eye to my behaviour or trying to run away from my actions.
‘No,' Rick soothed, answering my thoughts. ‘You have a rest.'
I rolled over to face him. ‘Can you help me?' I asked him shyly.
‘Of course.' He smiled. ‘Just let sleep overcome you,' he murmured to me in a soft, gentle, musical voice. ‘Let your mind become clear as you relax. There's absolutely nothing to worry about. Sweet dreams, fair Terri.'
When I woke up, Rick was lying on his side, facing me. He smiled and his warmth flowed into my mind. I smiled back.
‘What time is it?' I asked with my thoughts.
‘How disorientating. I feel like it's early evening.'
I feel like time has stopped.
‘We shouldn't be doing this,' I thought sadly.
I'm sorry. Maybe I should be trying to discourage or even get rid of your affections...
I thought your powers didn't work on love.
Apparently, they don't. But trying would be better than allowing you to believe you're a monster when it's my fault too. I don't have the strength to discourage you, though.
‘Then you won't have the strength to stop me loving you either,' I stated matter-of-factly.
True. And I'll never be able to pretend I'm not glad you love me.
Silence reigned for the next five, ten minutes. Finally, I broke it, not wanting to do something rash like kissing Rick.
Shall we wander over to Charlie's?
Do you want to?
Not really, but we might end up doing something un-ideal if we stay here.
‘Fair point.' Rick stood up and helped me up, his hand lingering around mine before I gently squeezed. He let go, although he looked extremely reluctant.
‘Did you read my diary?'I suddenly wondered.
‘It got too soppy after a while,' Rick teased. ‘Yeah, I read it. I just wanted to see how your relationship with Christopher started.'
‘Did it give you any ideas?' I teased back as we left the room.
‘A few,' he replied playfully.
When we got downstairs, my parents asked Rick to stay for lunch. He cheerfully accepted their offer, although he didn't eat anything.
I was glad my parents only thought Rick was a friend. In fact, my dad said, "I was worried Terri was ignoring her other friends," to which Rick responded, "Ah no, Terri wouldn't do that."
When Rick and I arrived at the Parkers', it was about two o'clock. I knocked on the door, feeling slightly nervous. But, then, as Charlie opened the door, I realised Rick would be there to face any consequences of our actions with me.
Surprisingly, Charlie looked cheerful as he opened the door, and there was no trance of suspicion in his tone as he asked, "Where've you two been?"
"A long walk," Rick said quickly, before I could open my mouth.
"We had lunch at mine, though," I added. "Sorry."
"That's all right," Charlie said, "We had lunch without you."
Oh dear, I thought. I can't stand his nonchalance. I've just betrayed his trust and here he is, talking as if it's perfectly fine for your lover to spend time alone with your cousin.
Rick squeezed my hand. ‘It's okay, Terri. You can make it up to him by being friendly.'
I don't think I'm able to.
I could help...
I realised Rick was offering to use his powers.
No, I have to do this on my own. But thanks.
No problem. Anytime.
"So did you have a nice lunch?" I asked Charlie.
"It was lovely thanks." Charlie beamed as we made our way to the living room to sit down on the rug. "Although it would have been better with you there," he told me.
Oh dear, I thought desperately. I'm going to start apologising in a minute.
‘Study,' thought Rick
‘Oh yeah! I can apologise to Christopher. Thanks, Rick.'
"Charlie, can we go upstairs, please?"
He looked puzzled, but his answer was "Yeah, sure."
"Let's sit on the couch in the study," I suggested.
"Okay," said Charlie, looking bewildered.
As soon as Christopher greeted me in my mind, I sent him this morning's memories of Rick at mine.
Instead of looking angry, or even reassuring, Christopher just looked confused.
‘My dove, why are you trying to send me your daydreams?' he asked.
"They're memories. I wanted to apologise for being a monster. I'm sorry for kissing him and letting him..."
Christopher had held up a hand in a gesture for me to stop. He was shaking his head, smiling.
My dove, that's fine. If Charlie was...
"Charlie was fine," I interrupted. "He was friendly and chatty. Don't you remember?"
Christopher frowned in concentration and then looked more puzzled.
Why did you kiss Rick, then?
"I love him," I mumbled. "I don't love Charlie and I couldn't help myself."
‘My dove...,' he trailed off and then he struggled but he said, ‘I don't mind.'
He looked as if he did mind slightly. ‘The important thing is, are you in the right night-time relationship?'
"What?! I kiss your cousin intentionally and you ask if we're still okay? Do you hate Charlie or something?!"
‘My dove...' Christopher looked even more confused. ‘I only care about you.'
"Oh, well, that makes everything okay (!)" I said sarcastically, getting slightly hysterical now. "It doesn't matter that I'm cheating on the human part of you, as long as I love you (!)"
Christopher nodded. ‘A reasonable summary.'
"Watch it!" Rick said, startling me. I'd forgotten he was standing behind me. "You'll tip her over the edge if you're not careful."
"Façade," muttered Christopher, so quietly I barely heard him.
Rick paled. "Terri, get out."