I take a deep breath. He gazes at me, puzzled, sensing my uncomfort.
"May you get all the happiness that you desire my love. Here." and he hands me the small gift box wrapped in golden sparkle paper with red satin ribbon tied on the four sides of it with a small bow right in the centre.
"Thank you." I reply, happily and I can see he is waiting anxiously for me to open the gift.
I tear off the packaging and gaze in surprise at the box.
"Necklace," I whisper and raise my eyes to look at him, which is caught between pride and fear of rejection.
He grins. The box contains a beautiful matinee necklace of a silver chain to wrap around the neck and a flawless unblemished ball diamond pendant attached to it. I pick it up in my hands, letting my eyes roam freely over the jewellery so beautifully made.
"Wow" I murmur
"You like it?"
"Charles, I love it. Thank you." He grabs me and kisses me swiftly.
"Can I help you put it around your beautiful neck?"
"All yours, Mr. Brown" I hand him the antique and turn my back towards him facing the mirror. He slowly arranges my hair to one side of my shoulder and lay the necklace around my neck.
"Oh heavens! Charles, it is so beautiful!" I can see his face splitting grin as if he wants to hug himself.
"It's fascinating to watch you loose while staring at the beauty of this stone piece."
"Thank you so much. It is so delicate, aesthetic and attractive. I am just in awe of the articulate design carved on this piece. I feel like an Aphrodite wearing this larger than large pendant."
"Baby, I want you to have this always around your neck. Consider it as a token of our love." his voice is reverential.
"Of Course, Mr. Brown. I will do everything and anything that makes you happy." he leans down, capturing my mouth with his, and starts to move ... slow and sweet. I close my eyes and tilt my head back as my body bows, submitting to his kiss, slave to his intoxicating slow rhythm. His kiss is gentle, cherishing, and totally distracting.
"Charles, I'd like to go to church tomorrow."
"I prayed you'd come back alive and you did. It's the least I could do."
"Okay." he walks inside to hallway and I am still standing in the lawn starring at the cityscape in front of me. There are fewer lights on among the skyscrapers in addition to the glowing candles, and there's a whisper of dawn in the other part. I hear music. The cheerful music of the guitar.
I leave the lawn and quietly pad down towards the hallway. Charles is playing his guitar which he left here before going to London. He is completely lost in the tune he's playing. His expression is happy and buoyant, like the music. His playing is stunning. Leaning against the wall at the entrance, I listen, enraptured. He's such an accomplished guitarist. His body bathed in the warm light cast by a lone freestanding lamp beside him. With the rest of the large room in darkness, it's like he's in his own isolated little pool of light, untouchable, in a bubble.
I pad quietly toward him, lured by the amazing, blissful music. I'm mesmerized, watching his long, skilled fingers as they run and gently play the strings. He glances up, his unfathomable eyes bright, his expression unreadable.
"Sorry," I whisper. "I didn't mean to disturb you, but you play so well. It was a beautiful tune."
"Thank you, Miss Davidson." my mouth goes dry as he stands up and casually starts strolling towards me. He really is stunning.
Ellie Goulding starts crooning ... a song, one of Mom's favorites, "Love me like you do" Charles leisurely traces his fingertips down my cheek, and I feel goosebumps covering my body.
"Dance with me," he murmurs, his voice husky.
Taking the remote out of his pocket, he turns up the volume and holds his hand out to me, his gaze full of promise and longing and humor. He is totally seducing, and I'm charmed. I place my hand in his. He grins lazily down at me and pulls me into his embrace, his arm curling around my waist.
I put my free hand on his shoulder and grin up at him, caught in his infectious, playful mood. He sways once, then we're off. We cover the floor, from the window to the breakfast bar and back again, whirling and turning in time to the music. And he makes it so effortless for me to follow.
We glide around the dining table, and backward and forward in front of the wall, city twinkling outside, a dark and magical surface to our dance. I can't help my carefree laugh. He grins down at me as the song comes to a close.
"There's no nicer beauty than you," he murmurs, then kisses me sweetly.
"Well, that's brought some color to your cheeks, Miss Davidson. Thank you for the dance. Shall we go and cut the cake?"
"You're welcome, and yes, I can't wait," I answer breathlessly.
We head towards the lawn hand in hand and halt after reaching the table. I make a wish, blow the candle and start cutting the cake. He sings "Happy birthday." After tasting the delicious cake, I gather all my might to ask him questions that have kept me puzzled yet, bearing in mind the fact not to sound rude or harsh.
"Charles, I need to ask you something."
"How did you manage all this. I mean the conversion of this not so beautiful place into a heaven on earth, considering the fact that you were not here?"
"I had Francis and Ethan do this for me. I had requested them to do it and they have been kind enough to help me in this. I updated them with all the required information regarding the atmosphere I wanted."
"Keys. What about the house keys?"
"Since I know you very well, I was sure that you would keep spare house keys with your neighbor Mrs. Robinson just in case. They managed to take the keys from her and they did it." my eyes sardonic trying to digest the fact that he knows me more than I do myself
"Oh!" I scoff "You should thank them, because I really loved the whole view."
"Of Course, I will."
"What about your exam and other schedule?"
"My exam are already done, now there is only the exhibition that I have to focus on."
"But you said your exams are in a week?"
"That was just a story so that you don't catch any idea that I am coming for your birthday."
I stand completely startled at his both the arrangement, the spectacular view of the lawn as well as his playing of the words, so that I don't come to know his surprise.
"Now if you are satisfied with the interrogation let me put you to sleep."
Back in the hallway, he pauses to caress my face, his fingers skimming my jaw. It's after two in the midnight, and I am ready to sleep. My room is large and airy and lavishly furnished in brown and gold and beiges. The headboard behind the bed is in the shape of a massive sun. Charles gazes down at me and re examines the necklace before climbing into bed.
"This is so neat. The best birthday present I've ever had." I glance at him, my eyes soft and warm.
He pulls me into his embrace, wrapping his arms around me so that I'm facing away from him. He kisses my hair gently, and inhales deeply. I drift, exhausted. When I surface again, I am curled beside him and he's gazing at me. I have no idea what the time is.
"It's been so long that I haven't watched you sleep, you know I could watch you sleep forever, Care," he murmurs and he kisses my forehead and I melt. I smile and shift enervating, lying beside him.
"You sleep like a baby, calm and peaceful. I will always hold you close to my heart. You will stay in my arms. I will never let you go." he says softly and wraps his arms around me.
Hmm. "I never want to go. Never let me go," I mutter sleepily, my eyelids refusing to open.
"You are mine, I need you," he whispers, but his voice is a distant, bodiless part of my dreams. He needs me ... loves me ... and as I finally slip into the darkness, my last thoughts are of a the man who traveled miles to see me on my birthday and created the most beautiful start of my day. This man with black eyes and dirty, messy, copper-colored hair smiling shyly at me is the man I love. It is amazing to drift off to sleep in his warm Charles scent.