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.
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When Charlotte awoke the next morning, she felt as though all that had happened the previous night was all a very vivid dream.
The thoughts of last evening came back to her in small flashes, and before long, she realized that not one minute of the Quincey Ball had been imagined, and the memory of his cool hands and honey eyes came back in short bursts until the entire puzzle was pieced together in her mind, perfectly shaped and woven as if it had never been separated at all.
She stretched and yawned, sighing. A knock at the door, her ladies’ maid, standing at her feet in a matter of moments.
“A letter, Miss Marigold,” she announced, a friendly smile upon her face.
“From whom?” asked Charlotte, throwing her dressing gown over her chemise at once.
“A Dr. Cullen, of where I do not know. The letter does not show his address.”
Charlotte glanced at the envelope and peered in curiosity at her own name.
Miss Charlotte Marigold
18 Park Place
But how exactly was Carlisle in touch with her? She had not told him of her home, its address, or how to get there. And his handwriting…how was his cursive so easy to decipher for a man – especially a young man?
How very strange!
Sighing, she broke the seal of the letter and slipped out the thick piece of parchment inside, carefully unfolding it with the same curiosity that she had peered at the envelope with.
Dear Miss Marigold,
I wish to apologize for my awful behavior of the previous night. It was not at all deserved by you or any of your contemporaries. Please allow me to apologize in the form of an invitation to my small home of 52 Rosewood Avenue for tea this afternoon.
I can only hope that my apologies are received well and that we shall make acquaintance again this afternoon at around two p.m.
Dr. Carlisle Cullen
Tea? Carlisle Cullen? Was this not the man who was never seen around London? Was this not the formidable doctor whose company was condemned because of his profession? The man that no daughter of a respectful society lady would spend her time with? Had he not been labeled as elusive, bizarre, secretive and downright arrogant?
Well, if that was the case, it was Charlotte’s job to prove all the rumors wrong. Tea with a man like Carlisle Cullen would perhaps be dangerous, but it would indeed be intriguing. Perhaps if she found out the truth about Dr. Cullen, she would be reincarnated into the circle of potential wives and husbands. And maybe, just maybe, Carlisle Cullen would convince a young man that Charlotte was a young woman worth marrying.
All of these ideas made it quite worth Charlotte’s while to go to tea with Dr. Cullen.
She set off in her mother’s best carriage a quarter until Dr. Cullen’s indicated and preferred time for tea, and arrived at his door only a few moments late. Expecting to see his valet or servant at the entrance, Charlotte frowned, her eyebrows raised. But once again, as strange as it had been the previous night, Charlotte Marigold looked directly into the caramel eyes of Carlisle Cullen, floating several inches above her own eyes.
“I am so honored that you were able to oblige my request, Miss Marigold. I was afraid you may not come,” he said, smiling down at her.
“The pleasure is all mine, Carlisle,” she replied, smiling up at him, too. “I rarely ever reject an invitation for a polite afternoon of conversation and tea.”
“Do come in,” invited Carlisle at last, opening his arm and moving his body to the side so that she could see past the foyer.
“You keep a very lovely home for a single man, Dr. Cullen,” noticed Charlotte lightly.
“Thank you. I bought this residence after I returned from…” he paused for a moment and lost his trail of thought, almost as though he wished to keep his past mysterious, and he sat down upon the closest chair in the living room.
“From where did you return, Dr. Cullen?” she asked softly.
Charlotte could almost hear a tiny groan erupt from his lungs. “Italy,” he replied, his voice rather strangled as it escaped through his clenched teeth.
“Oh? And what was it that you studied while you were in Italy?”
“Oh? That’s rather strange for…” Charlotte trailed off, unable to complete her sentence, as she realized that nothing made any sense. Didn’t Carlisle tell her that he had recently obtained a degree from Oxford? How could he have been in Italy…?
“I invited you here initially to apologize for my actions. I was unjustly rude to you, and I departed without a decent explanation.”
Charlotte cleared her throat and met his startling gaze. “You never answered my question,” she whispered.
His perfect eyebrows arced in a second of pure concentration before he realized what she had asked him. “Ah. May I ask you why you poised such a question so early into our acquaintance?”
“The Society Ladies,” said Charlotte simply.
Carlisle half-smirked. “I attend two balls for several reasons, Miss Marigold, but chief among them is that I am not prepared to marry any young woman, no matter how talented she may seem.”
She had not been expecting this response in the slightest. “But if you are not ready for such things, why do you bother attending the balls at all?”
Carlisle cleared his throat. “Well, I still enjoy the thrill of the chase, Miss Marigold.”
From embarrassment, Charlotte blushed and looked down into her teacup.
He laughed, his voice musical as it wafted through the crisp fall air and into her ears. “Not that I am the sort of man who would tirelessly torment any maiden who crossed his path.”
Charlotte grinned. “Oh, not at all, I am sure.”
They began to sip their tea in a somewhat strained silence.
“So, would you mind telling me which of the rumors is true?”
“Only if you mind telling me which ones you know,” he replied, his eyes smiling at her even though his lips stayed closed around his perfect teeth.
“Honestly, I do not think that the society ladies know as much about you as you think they know.”
“Or perhaps as much as you seem to be letting on.”
Charlotte raised her eyebrows at the sudden attack. “Touché, Dr. Cullen. But you are not the only one in this room who finds pleasure in putting on a face of mystery, you know.”
“You do not mean to say that you think me mysterious?” he teased. “And here I thought that I was the least mysterious man in all of London.”
“If one thing is sure, the society ladies were correct in guessing your character. They doubt that your intentions are as pure as the other society gentlemen, and they were intimidated by the fact that you had no designs upon any young lady who presented herself.”
“All evidence to the contrary, Miss Marigold. I never saw myself as a society gentleman worthy of any young women who attended the ball. But that of course, does not mean that I have never had any designs on any of them.”
“Your current designs?” she asked, her voice full of courage, for she thought she might have suspected that he has some sort of designs other than friendship upon herself, and that was his main motive for the invitation to tea at his home.
“Nobody,” he replied honestly, almost too honestly. “As I have told you, I once thought I was inclined for a marriage, but I am the farthest thing from settling down.” After a few moments, she could have sworn she heard him whisper, “I am a monster.”
Charlotte did not think that this matter should be pursued further. Obviously, the poor man had no pride in himself, and would not be persuaded otherwise. It was certainly a pity that he would not marry until he was somewhat farther in his life’s journey. For a few moments there, she could see herself spending the rest of her life with him, and only with him.
“Have I said something that discourages you from conversation, Miss Marigold?” he asked politely, his voice less tense and disappointed in himself.
“Not at all,” answered Charlotte, the corners of her mouth lifting in the smallest of smiles. “Not at all, I was merely…thinking.”
“That is not something that many women of this era would admit, Miss Marigold,” he countered, taken aback a little.
Charlotte sighed. “I never thought I was really a part of this time. Ever since I was a little girl, I thought that I belonged somewhere else. Another place, another time…another Charlotte Marigold.” Charlotte stood from her place on the seat and found a position to stand by the window, looking out into the busy streets of London. “Have you ever had those types of feelings, Carlisle?” she asked plainly, her eyes still on the streets.
He laughed rather softly for a split second, thinking of the irony that such a statement entailed. “Yes. There are many times in which I have wished to have been someone else and to have lived somewhere else. But in the end, it is who we are that we wish to run away from sometimes, and we must always live with what we have done.”
“What we have done?” Charlotte repeated quietly, furrowing her eyebrows for a moment. “I have done nothing I regret, Carlisle. There are only things that I wish I could have done…and did nothing about.”
“Ah, yes. That is regret in a different form, to be sure.” Carlisle stood from his seat and stood a few feet from Charlotte, his hands behind his back as he spied at the London street from the side. “What is it that you have not done anything about?”
“That is a rather personal question for tea, Dr. Cullen.”
Carlisle smiled slightly. “Have you not asked me personal questions similar to this one?”
“I…” she stuttered, breaking herself away from the street to look at him in shock. “I’m a woman…you’re a man!”
He grinned. “So it would seem.”
“But I…I…I…” she trailed off again, huffing loudly and crossing her arms over her chest.
“You do not have to tell me,” he murmured after a few moments. “Some things are meant to be secret…”
Charlotte took a great sigh, and looked back through the window, a glazed expression on her face. “I was nine years old,” she murmured. “My little sister and I went out for a walk in the forests of Scotland while my family was on holiday there during Christmas. It was so cold…but the forest was blanketed in beautiful snow. There was…” she took a deep breath. “There was a lake. And…she was a curious little thing, and there…there was a rabbit standing in the middle of the lake. Elizabeth went after it…it hopped off the ice and…she…she fell through. I ran back to our parents for help, but by the time help came, it was too late.” Charlotte’s voice has dropped down to a whisper and broke on the last word. Tears glimmered just below her eyes. “There is not a day that goes by that I do not wish I still had her. She was only two years my junior.”
Carlisle Cullen had never thought that a young woman who appeared so delicate and innocent had experienced something as dark and horrifying as awful as watching her sister, perhaps the closest member of her family, die before her eyes.
It was cases like these that had made him remember why he was about to devote the rest of his existence to saving human lives that were claimed to be gone.
He thought for a moment that he had found a strong sense of connection between himself and this innocent, beautiful young lady, and that it was perhaps time to inform someone of who he really…
No. That was foolish.
If he were to tell her, things would get very, very messy. She would not believe him, and if by some miracle she did, she would be afraid. They would never speak to each other again. Unless of course…
He tightened his fist in anger with himself. Why was he thinking of this? The Volturi had made it very clear that he had to maintain secrecy, no matter the cost. If he told her…if he told her, he would be succumbing himself to death. They would know. They would always know.
She was just a girl. And she was better of not knowing that she stood in the same room as a deadly monster.
Charlotte could see Carlisle Cullen from the corner of her right eye. He had not moved at all. No reaction from him graced the perfect form of his gray body. How could she have been as stupid as this? Why had she begun to talk about her sister? Hadn’t her mother always said that the number one way to charge a man away was through tears?
She wrapped her shawl closer around herself and sniffed a little. “I suppose I should be going back home now. I would hate for my mother to worry about me. And I despise being late for dinner…”
But as she walked by him, his eyes forced a gaze from her. “Miss Marigold,” he breathed, his expressions tickling her ears. He immediately detected an increase in her heartbeats, and gulped, taking an unnecessary breath to calm himself. How did she smell better than ever just standing there, with the marks of tears streaking her cheeks, burdened once more with a tragedy of so long ago?
Charlotte could not tear her eyes away from his. They were blazing honey, reminding her of the color of a sweet that had been left burning over the fire for too long. But they were different than they had been the previous evening. He had shown anger and disdain at the ball, but as his eyes slowly darkened now, he was begging for her presence. She changed her mind within another moment.
“Yes?” whispered Charlotte.
He had no idea what to say. He knew that he could keep her there for as long as he wished, for she stood, lips apart, completely at his mercy. And then again, he knew that in a millisecond, he could destroy her, for the way in which he desired her now was a way in which no other man in England could have.
It was a way in which no man should desire her.
“Some secrets are better left unsaid,” he murmured.
She looked away, somewhat regretfully.
He touched her cheek with his cool hand and slowly moved her face up a few inches so their eyes could meet again. “But this is not one of them.”
Every part of him ached for the blood pulsing loudly in the left side of her neck, and it took every human fragment of him to bite the monster back in order to savor the moment that they currently shared.
But his human side won out.
Slowly, centimeter by centimeter, he inched his face to hers until they were close to a kiss…too close…
He gradually breathed across her eyelashes, and she closed her eyes in response, completely intoxicated, waiting, wanting for him to kiss her…as though it were an imperative command agreed by the both of them…
“Dr. Cullen!” panted an urgent voice from a now open doorway at the front of the house, “There is an emergency at the hospice…” The voice broke off when its carrier noticed the positions of the two people standing in the room. “Oh, sir, I am terribly sorry…”
“Not at all, Mr. Fairfax,” replied Carlisle, clearing his throat and breaking his gaze immediately. “It was time that Miss Marigold returned home, anyway. The…the tea was getting cold.” He walked to the door and grabbed a heavy coat hanging close to it. “I am sorry,” he apologized as she approached the door. “I will be in touch by post as soon as my work permits.”
“May I call for a carriage, Miss Marigold?” asked Dr. Cullen.
“Y-yes, I’ve sent my back home… but I wouldn’t want to trouble you…” she stuttered, recovering.
“No trouble at all. Mr. Fairfax, you may return to the hospice and tell them that I will be along in a few minutes time.”
Once Fairfax had disappeared once more, Carlisle escorted her to the street corner, and called for a carriage. He smiled at her. “I apologize.”
A slight giggle escaped her lips. “Not at all. You have your work.”
“You must come over for tea again,” he insisted.
“I would like that very much. But if you do not mind, I would like to invite you to my home, if it is not too much trouble.”
“Charming. I shall be in touch by-”
“Post,” they said together.
“As soon as I can,” he promised as he helped her into the carriage.
When Charlotte glanced out the frosty carriage window once more, Carlisle had vanished into the falling snow of the air.