Light fills the room, persuading me from deep sleep to wakefulness. I stretch out and open my eyes. It's a beautiful morning. Wow! what a view. Beside me, Charles is fast asleep. I'm surprised he's still in bed. He's facing me, and I have an unaccustomed opportunity to study him. His lovely face looks younger, relaxed in sleep. His sculptured, pouty lips are parted slightly, and his shiny, clean hair is a glorious mess. How could anyone look this good? I shake my head, so much to think about. It's tempting to reach out and touch him, but like a small child, he's so lovely when he's asleep.
I could gaze at him all day, but I have needs-bathroom needs. I slip out of the bed and make my way towards the bathroom. Returning to the bedroom, i see, sleeping beauty is still asleep. I'm starving, so I leave him and head for the kitchen.
I find two welcome hair ties at the same time in my office bag lying on the couch and quickly tie my hair in pigtails. Yes! The more girly I look perhaps the safer I'll be. I take my iPod out of the bag and plug my headphones in. There's nothing like music to cook by. I slip it into the breast pocket of the shirt that I am wearing, turn it up loud, and start dancing.
Holy hell, I'm hungry.
I check in the fridge, where there are plenty of eggs, and decide I want pancakes and bacon. I set about making some batter, dancing my way around the kitchen.
I put the bacon under the grill, and while it's cooking, I whisk some eggs. I turn, and Charles is sitting on one of the barstools at the breakfast bar, leaning on it, his face supported by his hands. He's still wearing the T-shirt he slept in. Just - fucked hair really, really suits him, as does his designer stubble. He looks both amused and silly. I freeze, flush, then gather myself and pull the headphones out of my ears, my knees weak at the sight of him.
"Looks like you're pleased to see me," I murmur dryly.
"I'm always pleased to see you, Miss Davidson." He smirks at me.
"Are you hungry?"
"Very," he says with an intense look.
"Pancakes, bacon, and eggs?"
"I would like to, but I can't."
"Baby, you forget I promised mom yesterday that I will join them for breakfast."
I stare down at my fingers, as little disappointment is flushing all over my face. In a moment he is beside me, he gently cups my face
"Baby, today is your birthday. Please don't be sad. I will meet them and come back to you very soon."
"I know, don't worry, I am fine." he pulls my pigtails.
"I love these," he whispers. "Would you like me to put some music on so you can continue your...er...dancing?" I stare down and start turning puce.
"Please, don't stop on my account. It's very entertaining." His tone is one of wry amusement.
I purse my lips. Entertaining, eh? My subconscious has doubled over in laughter at me. His phone starts ringing and he walks to the balcony to take the call. I turn and continue to whisk the eggs, probably beating them a little harder than necessary.
"Get ready baby, we have to go to my place for breakfast, my mother has invited you there." he announces walking out of the balcony and my knees suddenly turn to jelly with nervousness. Holy cow, I am meeting his folks at their house! It will be my first time visiting his house. No, actually not the first time. I still remember when three years back he challenged me to go to his place without anyone coming to know about my presence just to wish him on his birthday and we were spotted by his mother in his bedroom. It was so embarassing. So technically this will be my second time visiting his home, but this time announced and invited.
"What are you still doing here standing like a statue. We have to leave in fifteen minutes or else we will be late for breakfast and my mother would be very angry and I will have to reluctantly use you as my shield."
"Yes, you said you'd always be my shield in all the problems."
"When did I agree that I'd be your shield?"
"In your sleep. It was the most comforting thing I'd heard in so long, Care. It made me relax." he points towards the bedroom and orders me to go.
I rush to the bedroom, open my wardrobe and pick one of the dress is hanging inside. I hurry into the bathroom, dazed by my lack of confidence. While drying myself after my enjoyable but far too brief shower, I try to calm myself down with the thought of meeting at his place. I shall go meet his family. Caroline Davidson! my subconscious chides at me, but I don't want to listen to her - I almost hug myself with glee.
Back in the bedroom, I slip into my plum dress, and climb into my shoes. I remove the pigtails and hastily brush out my hair, then glance down at the drink that's kept there. It's pale pink. What's this? Cranberry and sparkling water. Hmm ... it tastes delicious and quenches my thirst.
Dashing back into the bathroom, I check myself in the mirror: eyes bright, cheeks slightly flushed, slightly proud and confident look, and I head downstairs. Fifteen minutes. Not bad, Care.
Charles is standing by the window, wearing the grey moonshine pants that I love, and of course, a white linen shirt. Doesn't he have any other colors? Fabian Secon sings one of my current favourite song softly over the surround.
Charles turns and smiles as I enter. He looks at me expectantly.
"Hi," I say softly, and my sphinx like smile meets his.
"Hi," he says. His eyes are alight with amusement.
"Fabian. I never figured you for a Fabian Secon fan." He raises his eyebrows at me, his look speculative.
"Assorted taste, Care," he murmurs, and he paces toward me like a panther until he's standing in front of me. His gaze so intense it takes my breath away. There is a doorbell.
A wiry man in a great hurry had arrived with flowers. He thrust them into my arms and with an unconvincing bow he turned more sharply than courtesy allows. The bouquet was all my favourites, mini roses, white daisies and purple asters. Each one a delicate bloom with sweet fragrance. Their petals were delicate works of art and their hues were medicine for my soul. I closed the front door and searched for a label, a card, anything to help me find the sender. But I found nothing. No instructions. No clue. No defining features or markings.
"Happiest birthday my precious" Charles suddenly hugs me from behind and breathes through my hair.
" Thank you! They are so beautiful and fresh. I love them." and a wide smile crosses my lips.
"You only love the flowers or the one who sent it?" he questions quizzically
"Oh! That wiry man. Yes I love him too." Charles's mouth drops open in a shock, and I cannot keep a straight face any longer and grin at him like a idiot.
He narrows his eyes, and I immediately stop laughing. In fact, he looks rather forbidding. Oh, shit. My subconscious recoils in the corner as all the blood drains from my face.
"Gotcha! Care, don't push it far or else you will have to bear the punishment." he says, and smirks
"Mr. Mercurial, birthday girl cannot be punished." I answer back.
He grabs me around my waist and pulls me up against him.
"You are unalterable, Care," he murmurs, staring down into my eyes as he weaves his fingers into my hair, holding me firmly in place. He kisses me, hard, and I cling on to his muscular arms for support.
"As much as I would like to be with you alone now, we have to leave, so I will settle this issue with you later," he murmurs against my lips.
He kisses me again passionately, and then abruptly releases me. He collects his jacket which is hanging on one of the barstools and grabbing my hand leads me through the door to the elevator. I am reeling. One minute we're joking and the next ... I fan my heated face. I have to recover my equilibrium and leave. Will I ever be able to understand and match pace with this mercurial man?
I peek up at him in the elevator. He's enjoying a private joke, a trace of a smile flirting with his lovely mouth. The elevator doors open on the ground floor. Charles shakes his head as if to clear his thoughts and gestures for me to exit before him in a most gentlemanly manner.
He pulls up in the large Audi and opens the rear door for me, and I climb in as elegantly as I can. My plum dress is so clingy and hangs to the top of my knees.
We speed up, both of us quiet. His mood is almost tangible and seems to shift, the humor withers away slowly as we head towards his home.