Chapter 4

My brain stutters for a moment and every part of me goes on a pause. His words have the impact of knocking every wisp of air from my lungs. I am struggling to inhale, exhale and do anything. I stare at him as tears of joy roll down my cheeks and i see a shadow of my feelings in his eyes. It feels like Christmas and I am being caught in it's divine spell.

He walks more closer to me and wraps me tightly in his arms. I can feel the cold wind warm, and moonlight bright as a sunshine. My inner goddess is dancing from within tenderly drowning in his scent. The scent that I have waited to inhale so long, the touch that left me longing for. We become one... and it's magic.

"So how and when did you plan on getting here today?" Mrs Brown asks, blinking slightly at the sight of the two of us, no doubt. I flush.

He shakes John's hand and gives Jenny a quick peck on the cheeks. The rest of his family closes in.

"Let's sit and I'll tell you." Charles pulls me over to the couch, and everyone sits down, all eyes on Charles.

"I and Evan pooled our resources. Between us we had six hundred dollars left after booking the flight tickets, and we thought we'd have to bribe someone to take us to the airport from the university, but a cab driver stopped and was kind enough to take us to the airport in time. He refused the money." Charles shakes his head at the memory,"I didn't realize, that." He stops, gazing at his family.

"That we'd worry?" Mrs Brown scoffs.

"Oh, Charles!" she scolds him. "We've been going out of our minds!"

"You've turned us into maniacs, bro." Alex expresses his fear a little loud. I have not seen him tremble with fear of losing his brother before today. He and Charles are like best buddies tied by blood.

Charles rolls his eyes. "Yeah. I figured that much when I arrived. I'm sorry, Mom-I should have stopped and called. But I was anxious to get on the plane and reach here in time." He glances at me.

Mrs Brown shakes her head. "I'm just glad you're here safely in one piece, darling." He releases my hand and puts his arm around me.

"Cold?" he asks me. I shake my head. I start to relax, resting my head against his chest.

He smells of open air, the most welcome scent in the world. Tears start to trickle down my face again, tears of gratitude.

"Hey," he whispers. He puts his fingers under my chin and tilts my head back. "Stop with the crying."

I wipe my nose with the back of my hand in a most unladylike way. "Stop with the disappearing." I sniff and his lips twist up.

"Vincent, my son is safe. We should all go home now. Even Care must be exhausted and needs her beauty sleep." Mrs Brown suggests

"Yes. I think we could use the sleep," Mr Brown replies, smiling down at her. Charles reluctantly eases me onto the couch and stands.

"Mom, I would like to stay here tonight, and accompany you for breakfast tomorrow." Charles demands suggestively and looking at the innocent grin on his face, they agree.

Mrs Brown hugs him once more, presses her head against his chest, and closes her eyes, content. He wraps his arms around her.

"I was so worried, darling," she whispers.

"I'm okay, Mom."

She leans back and studies him intently while he holds her. "Yes. I think you are," she says slowly, glances at me, and smiles. I flush.

Jenny hugs me hard, "I can tell something breath taking and mind boggling is coming up. It's an established fact and obvious too that you two are nuts about each other. I'm glad he's safe. Not just for him, Care-for you, too."

"Thank you, Jenny," I whisper.

Charles stands beside the couch, watching me with an unreadable expression on his face. We're finally alone and we gaze at each other.

"I thought I'd never see you again," I whisper. There-the words are out. All my worst fears packaged neatly in one short sentence now discarded.

Charles gazes down at me as if I'm his reason for living and mirrors my look, I'm sure. He is here, really here. He pulls me into his arms and wraps himself around me.

"Charles," I gasp, and my tears start anew.

"Hush," he soothes, kissing my hair.

"Come I need to show you something in the lawn." I don't want to let go. I take his hand and start walking with him silently as a shadow, till we reach the lawn.

It's all dark. The stars have covered the sky and moon spreading its light all over the lawn. I cling to him and tighten my grip around his hand with the fear of being lost in this sheer darkness. "Baby, I am here. Nothing will happen. Don't be afraid." he tries to calm me down

"It's too dark here. What do you want to show me here at this hour. Can we see it tomorrow morning if not necessary?" fear engulfing my body

"Baby, close your eyes and open them only when I tell you too."

"It is already dark why do I have to close my eyes."

"I still want you to close your eyes and open only when I tell you to." I can feel a hole burning in his consciousness with the thought of his present. He wants to see my reaction.

"Fine!" I agree

"Okay, ready on the count of 1...2...3..." the whole lawn is glowing with lights suddenly.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY MY LIFELINE, he screams out loud near my ears.

As soon as I open my eyes, I am mesmerized and still as I would be in a photograph. What was green before has become a garland of most vibrant blooms. Grass and tenacious blossoming looking flowers have reclaimed it, creating a rural idyll and making beauty of whatever comes their way. There are candles spread all around creating an arc of bright and brilliant gold in the blackness. It's palatial. Each corner brightly illuminated in the dark. The comprehensive, uninterrupted vista is breathtaking.

Under the light of candles my skin is mellow like a peach. In the dimness my eyes turn from their soft brown to almost black, each pupil quite undetectable. I look so different, as if I have just stepped out of another era. Its the best view, a visual symphony orchestrated to soothe the eyes. I am lost to the view-staring, trying to absorb such beauty. And in the middle of this incredulous view stands a white four legged flat surfaced furniture with a cake symbolizing triumph of sugar and flour towered with butter cream and strawberry to bring that celebratory color and freshness placed on it.

I realize I'm holding my breath in awe, and Charles is still holding my hand. As I reluctantly turn my eyes away from the view, he's gazing anxiously at me.

"Liked it?" he questions as if he can't read the answer on my face.

"Oh heavens! This is unimaginable and unbelievable. It is the perfect start to my birthday in every sense, and in all the ways only you can give me." I murmur, letting my eyes feast on it once more.

Unable to control my feelings, I turn and give him a deep passionate kiss on his lips under the shooting stars. Charles pauses for a moment stunned, and I marvel at the frankly wordly appreciation in his expression. He then inhales sharply and pulls me in his arms and plants a soft but passionate kiss on my lips. My heart pounding, my blood singing in my veins, pulsing-or so it feels. His hands are on either side of my face, his tongue insistent, persuasive.. arousing.

"You have beautiful hair, Care," he murmurs and kisses my throat, sending shivers running up and down my spine. My eyes are closed relishing his lips on mine.

"Do you know," he breathes and runs his thumb across my lower lip. "I have waited desperately to breath in your scent. I have wanted to see your girlish giggle, hear you laugh loud since so long." my mouth drops open, and a welcome warmth blooms in my heart. It's joy-pure joy. His joy is evident-his eyes shining, his youthful smile-and his relief almost evident.

"I thought I'd lost you," I murmur, still dazzled and breathless from his kiss.

"Baby, it will take more than a few hours of disappearance to keep me away from you." and "You know, even tearstained, you are beautiful, Care Davidson." He leans down and kisses me gently. "And your lips are so soft." He kisses me again, deepening it.

Oh my ... and to think I could have lost ... no ... I stop thinking and surrender myself.

From the inside breast pocket he pulls out a small box that contains my present. He gives me his shy smile, and my heart skips a beat. For as long as I live, I'll never get tired of looking at that smile.

"Come!" he holds out his hand to me

"Where? and isn't the tiny box that you holding my birthday present?"

"Yes, it is. But I would like to give you this present in your bedroom." a thrill runs through my body.

"Before I accompany you to my bedroom, will you bother to tell me that since you are here now, what about your exams?"

"All that is done and dusted, Care."

"What do you mean by that?"

"All that I will tell you some other day. Now can we please head towards your room?" I didn't want to ruin his surprise and so without a word, and while I still have a bean of courage, I take his hand and we walk to the bedroom.

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