Caramel: The Musings and Adventures of a Miss Charlotte Marigold And of a Dr. Carlisle Cullen
"There was something very, very strange about this Carlisle Cullen, and she was determined to figure it out by the end of the evening. It was not often that such a mystery crossed her path, and Charlotte was not about to allow Dr. Cullen to cross hers without so much as an inquiry." Dr. Carlisle Cullen has been a vampire for nearly 150 years. He's established himself as a neutral of the Volturi, a 'vegetarian' vampire, and as an unsuitable husband for any young woman of the upper British crust by 1778. But Charlotte Marigold seems to find herself fiercely attracted to him when all the other young women flee... Author's Note: Caramel is now finished! Thank you for your support, everyone!
Disclaimer: All characters from the Twilight series are not mine - they belong to the genius of Stephenie Meyer. I am merely a humble writer who lets her imaginations run away with her.
Rating 5/5 Word Count 2142 Review this Chapter
Caramel: The Musings and Adventures of a Miss Charlotte Marigold And of a Dr. Carlisle Cullen
Charlotte Marigold sat upon the edge of a small guilt chair, her dark emerald eyes scanning the top of the ceiling out of both pure curiosity and pure boredom. The feeling that overwhelmed her most as she stared up at the plaster, painted sky with cherubs encroaching upon the center however, was that of complete and utter boredom.
Honestly, she was not the usual type of young woman who would be found sitting alone in the shadows when the annual Quincey Ball was whirling about her. In fact, ever since she had come out into society three years ago, she was one of the most enchanting and amiable young women who attended the Quincey Ball each year.
This year, however, was quite a different year. The strains and stresses of a tight fiscal year were evident all over London. And although the Marigold family had never been in perfect financial happiness, they were never in such a struggle to maintain their small amount of wealth. It became incumbent upon Charlotte, as the only daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Marigold, to marry, and to marry well in order to support her parents in their old age.
The young gentlemen who usually attended the Quincey Ball were handsome, rich, and amiable. Charlotte could generally figure out a way to enchant one of them into courting her before the evening had reached its end. At this particular year however, Charlotte felt as though she had not moved soon enough, and was now condemned to dancing with young men like Gerald O’Ryan, who had not yet grown out of their awkward stage and were being pushed to acquire a wife that they could not please or to acquire a wife who would not please them.
Besides, the entire ballroom had been gossiping about her all evening. Charlotte had always been tall, but she had apparently reached a “looming, unladylike height” of five foot seven, making her less than two inches shorter than many gentlemen usually invited to such prestigious parties. Not only did she gain in height, but her waistline (which was rather slim, and had always been that way) had gained an entire inch and three quarters, while her bust had remained the same size. Therefore, her contemporaries no longer considered her to be a beauty, and therefore, Charlotte was no longer a threat in the flirtation and attracting of a husband.
Thinking of all this, with her eyes upon the ceiling, Charlotte realized that she would have to face one of two inevitable options very, very soon. She would either have to convince the society ladies that she was just as beautiful, if only in a different, more grown up way, or she would have to stop refusing the long string of young gentlemen who were flocking to her and lacked the social graces that Charlotte required in a man to be his dance partner.
In the end, she chose to chat with society’s ladies. Arthur Greensfeld smelled of cow manure.
As Charlotte entered the conversation, she began to tune herself into the gossip of the British upper crust.
“Mrs. Thatcher!” disagreed the one, holding a gloved hand to her chest and gracing her fingers over a small strand of pearls, “I assure you that your Felicity would have been much better matched with the man who arrived late to last evening’s ball!”
“You cannot mean that outrageously strange young man without a title?” asked another, “Honestly, Mrs. Dorsen, he only claimed to be the son of a deceased clergyman! And he had no land or profession to speak of, either!”
“Are you speaking of the famous Carlisle Cullen?” asked Mrs. Thatcher.
“But of course!” exclaimed the other two.
“Oh, I would never allow my daughter to marry him!” she resisted. “He was just so…so strange!”
“If I may,” began a Mrs. Goldenthatch, standing at the fringes of the conversation, “My daughter Abigail danced with him twice last evening, and she was absolutely mystified by him! And he is not unemployed as you presume, Mrs. Spinnet! He is a doctor!”
The other women in the circle burst out into polite, tinkling laughter. “A doctor indeed!”
“He may as well cease to exist!”
“Doctors hold no water here, Mrs. Goldenthatch!” explained Mrs. Thatcher. “It is a highly disrespectful position! When one has studied the human body so extensively, it can only be assumed the he is looking to disgrace the girl in any way possible, right there on the dance floor, even!”
“Quite scandalous, indeed!” commented Mrs. Dorsen. “And he carries something strange about him, too. Did you see the complexion and color of his skin?”
“Indeed! Almost…well, gray in comparison to everyone else in the room!” said Mrs. Thatcher.
“And when he stood in direct way of the light, his cheeks and hands almost…”
“Sparkled,” they all agreed with furrowed eyebrows.
Mrs. Dorsen shook her head. “Very, very bizarre to be sure.”
“Where exactly does he say he is from?” asked Charlotte, taking the pause in conversation to enter into it with dignity and fluidity.
Raising her eyebrows at such an entrance, Mrs. Thatcher answered, “He is most certainly a Londoner, Ms. Marigold.”
“And he had only attended one ball?” asked Mrs. Goldenthatch curiously.
“Yes,” replied Mrs. Dorsen, “One ball a year, as though the future of his marriage does not matter at all!”
“Has he been spotted in the streets at all?” asked Mrs. Joliette.
“Peculiarly enough, no! Not even by anyone from the papers!” answered Mrs. Dorsen, a slight bit of confusion in her voice. “He apparently shows his face but twice a year, and he is nowhere to be found for the rest of the season!”
“Which other day of the year is he present?” asked Charlotte anxiously.
“It is usually tonight’s ball, Ms. Marigold,” chimed in Mrs. Thatcher.
Mrs. Joliette gasped unexpectedly and looked up at the grand staircase. “Is that not him up there?”
All of the circle glanced at the indicated area, and stood, flabbergasted, at the young man who poised in the center of the top step, nearly fifty feet away.
At once, Charlotte felt the beats of her heart increase considerably as she examined and admired him. He was very tall for a man; at least a good two inches over six feet, with sandy blonde hair, a strong jaw, easing smile, and a muscled chest that could be traced slightly through his formal but simple attire: a pair of black breeches and black coat, lined by a purely white shirt and satin waistcoat.
Strangely enough, though, was that society’s gossiping ladies were right. His skin held barely any color at all, and when found in between his jacket and waistcoat, his skin looked downright, well, gray. And it did not appear as though he were walking down the marble stairs, but gliding.
“Well, I never!”
“How dare he show up three hours late to this ball! Why, if I were Mrs. Quincey, I would ask him to leave immediately!”
“Look at the way he’s walking, too! All smug, no doubt, as though every female in the room is watching him!”
“And how out of fashion to come here without any sort of wig! I mean, it is 1778; has the man any respect for our era? He looks downright American!”
Charlotte did not hear any of their words as they plowed through insults without so much as a drop of shame, for her eyes were glazed over with feelings of pride, empowerment, and lust.
There was something very, very strange about this Carlisle Cullen, and she was determined to figure it out by the end of the evening. It was not often that such a mystery crossed her path, and Charlotte was not about to allow Dr. Cullen to cross hers without so much as an inquiry.
She gracefully left the circle of middle aged women and began to move about the room. Strangely enough, she was able to hide herself rather expertly among the extravagant hoop skirts and powdered faces, until she found herself at the window near the small guilt chair she had been sitting upon.
She soon grew tired of staring at the stars and carelessly turned around, but as she did so, she flew into something incredibly hard, like a gigantic boulder made entirely of granite, and fell to the exquisite marble floor.
“I am so incredibly apologetic, Miss,” expressed a young man, his voice full of regret.
Charlotte groaned inwardly, as she did not wish to scramble away from another suitor, and looked up into the face of Carlisle Cullen, the man who she had been searching for for the better part of the entire evening.
He extended his hand toward her. “I believe that the punishment for knocking a lady off her feet is a dance,” he said, his strange eyes catching hers.
Purely intoxicated, Charlotte put her hand in his and realized almost immediately that the rumors were in fact true. It was quite strange; the feeling of his hand upon hers. He did not seem to be nervous or agitated at all, for his hand was smooth and surprisingly cool. It was as though she had taken a fresh breath of air from the seashore. And the way he pulled her up…it was as though there was no strength needed in his exquisitely shaped forearms, as though she were lighter than a feather in King George’s cap.
She felt short again for the first time in a while as she stood across from him. Charlotte could not help but stare into his eyes helplessly. What a strange color they were! Caramel – like wild honey from the nests of bees.
“I believe it is time to begin our dance,” he said, obviously noticing the hallucinatory gaze in Charlotte’s eyes.
“Of course,” replied Charlotte, realizing that those two words had been the only ones that had escaped her lips since she had run into him.
He led her effortlessly to the center of the room, and the two of them began the known routine of a minuet. Charlotte was correct when she had seen him before; his movements were so effortlessly perfect that he gave the impression of gliding.
“So, Mr. …” she trailed, beginning the conversation shrewdly, as though she had not heard any gossip about him at all.
“Dr. Cullen,” he finished for her. “Carlisle, though, if you don’t mind.”
Charlotte analyzed his tone for a moment before responding to it. “A doctor?” she asked thoughtfully.
“Yes,” he replied, smiling a little. “I graduated from Oxford last fall, Miss…”
“Miss Charlotte Marigold,” she introduced.
“Well, you are quite the dancer, Miss Marigold.”
“Thank you, Dr. Cullen.”
He sighed. “Please, I beg you not to call me a doctor…it sounds…too…”
“Formal?” she finished.
“Yes, that’s exactly the word I was looking for.”
They danced in silence for several moments, and before long, the minuet had ended. They bowed and curtseyed to each other and clapped for the musicians as everyone else in the room followed suit with them.
“Would you mind another dance with me, Miss Marigold?”
“Indeed, I would,” accepted Charlotte.
They assumed their positions once more.
“All right, let’s stop pretending this awkwardness,” said Carlisle at last. “What are London’s ladies saying about me this evening?”
Charlotte laughed rather loudly and shook her head. “You seem to notice everything!”
“I have the eyes of a doctor, Miss Marigold. I am quite observant.”
Charlotte smiled. “They think that you are rather…strange.”
For the first time, Carlisle laughed, flashing an absolutely dazzling smile at her that made Charlotte suddenly grow dizzy. “Ah, the usual gossip then, eh?”
“Is it really?” asked Charlotte, after she had recovered her admiring gaze. “Do they always say things like that about you?”
He nodded, his smile a little more strained. “Last year, they were content with saying I was no good, and now I’m actually being labeled strange.”
Charlotte paused. “But, Dr. Cullen…may I ask you something?”
“Why is it that you only attend two balls a year?”
His once soft honey eyes grew dark, almost black, and turned cold. “That is none of your concern, Miss Marigold,” he breathed darkly, his voice so mysterious and close to her ear that a shiver forced itself through her spine. “Excuse me,” he said, breaking their contact in the middle of a country dance. Carlisle Cullen bowed to her, and exited the ballroom in a manner that suggested he was never there at all.