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 3211 Review this Chapter
“What’s the emergency?” asked Carlisle, bursting through the doors of London’s busiest hospice, exchanging his winter coat for one of a doctor’s and searching around for Fairfax or another doctor in training who could inform him of the apparent crisis.
“Dr. Cullen! Dr. Nicholas will be so pleased to know you’ve arrived!” exclaimed Mr. Grant, rushing up to Carlisle almost immediately.
“Where is he? What’s the urgent situation?”
“He’s in the surgical room, about to begin an amputation, Dr. Cullen.”
“Yes, well, perhaps my sentiments about amputation will change his mind.”
Dr. Cullen cleared his throat as he entered the surgical room and spotted a fellow physician.
“I am glad you could come, Dr. Cullen. Dr. Nicholas and I were beginning to worry,” greeted Dr. Adams.
“I never miss an emergency call, Dr. Adams,” he replied, standing opposite the old doctor. “Scheduled for an amputation, then?”
“An amputation? Oh no, sir, I beg of you-“
“Enough!” bellowed Dr. Adams. “We work under the orders of Dr. Nicholas. And Lieutenant, you should be thanking God you live at all. If I were your officer, I would have shot you for being a complete and utter ass. Why exactly did your commanding officer send you from those blasted colonies in the first place? Are there not adequate hospitals there?”
“To the first question, Dr. Adams, my wife apparently wrote a letter, begging for me to come home, as she is with child, and did not wish to hear me proclaimed dead once more.”
“Once more?” asked Carlisle.
The Lieutenant pulled back his cotton shirt to reveal a partially healed gunshot wound above his chest, in the socket of his shoulder. “I was unconscious when they found me upon the battlefield, and some bloody idiot proclaimed me dead. Of course, I woke up when I felt myself being dumped into the beginning of the beggar’s graves. I was ordered back to my post, and only a few days later, a battle occurred, a letter was received, I had a wound in my foot, and was ordered back home upon the next ship.”
Dr. Cullen smirked. “Do you mind my asking of how exactly you managed to be shot in the foot?”
The Lieutenant raised his eyebrows. “Have you heard any stories of our American rebels, Doctor?”
“Not many, although I must admit that one rarely involves himself in political affairs while he is whirling about the ballroom floor with a lady in his arms.”
The old doctor and the sick young lieutenant chuckled a little.
“There is one good description of an American soldier, good doctor, and it is this: he is an untrained militia man. A farmer fighting with a pitchfork.”
“It’s only your foot we’ll take, Lieutenant,” said Dr. Adams at last, examining the left foot of the young man once again.
“The rum then,” replied the man, sighing as he grabbed the large bottle on the bedside table.
“Dr. Cullen, would you mind…” commanded Dr. Adams rather subtly. “You saw faster than I and God knows you stop the bleeding.”
It took all of his strength to keep from smiling. A vampire, openly resisting human blood? The best and worst oxymoron the world must have ever known.
Once the saw, crude and dirty, met the skin, Carlisle was able to make a clean cute in fifteen seconds and cleared the wound in nearly the same amount of time.
The man had barely enough time to gasp before it was over. Once the blood was exposed, however, Carlisle struggled to stay calm, and time steadily slowed down, the fifteen seconds dragging on.
Infected blood such as that would taste awful, and it would probably only ignite his thirst for those who were not patients in the hospital…for those like Dr. Adams, who, although cynical, had saved hundreds, perhaps thousands, and who it would not be fair to kill.
It was not fair to kill anyone, neither man nor beast. But he had committed both types of murders before. Many.
As he moved along patients, operating, cleansing, aiding in any possible way he could, the new blood bade his eyes darker, and he knew who’s blood he desired at once…
She was on the outskirts of the city, writing a letter by the window. Charlotte was perfectly poised, the small of her back upright as he delicate, breakable hand elegantly swiping across the paper, small sounds of pleasant scratching evident in her small sitting room. She looked up from her work, and as she did, an auburn curl fell from her head. Slowly, she tucked it behind her ear, where it stayed, connected to the surface of her warm skin.
And he could see himself standing in the doorway behind her, and in an instant, his lips would be upon her white neck, and his teeth would pierce the skin…
The closest thing to him was the metal of the bedpost where a sleeping patient lay. In his personal outrage, he broke off a good portion of the metal and crushed it into a tiny piece in his hand.
“Dr. Cullen!” exclaimed the calm voice of Dr. Nicholas.
Carlisle shook out of his daydream and composed himself. He walked to his superior at once.
“Can I have a word with you in my office?”
They sat down into the comfortable, yet sterile office, one doctor behind his rather large mahogany desk, the other across from it.
“Sir?” asked Carlisle in confusion, eyebrows furrowed.
“Do not read me wrong, Carlisle, you’re the best doctor here. You are faster than Dr. Adams and perhaps even more precise in your stitches than I am. But I worry about you. For the past few weeks, you seem to be…on edge…cautious.”
“Well, I…” Carlisle trailed. He would have toward this expertly so that the caring Dr. Nicholas would cease in his skepticism. “I haven’t been eating that much, Dr. Nicholas.” There, it was fabricated. And honestly, he hadn’t eaten in about 150 years…but the last time he had been hunting had been perhaps a month, maybe more.
“And I’m sure that pulling a triple shift to help those in need from that awful carriage accident last week took a toll on you. A young man such as yourself needs sleep!”
Carlisle chuckled softly under his breath. “I rarely sleep well anyway, Doctor. Ever since I was a boy, I would lay in my bed without more than two hours of rest at a time.”
Dr. Nicholas sighed and stood from his seat. “You were born to be a physician, then, I suppose. Oxford University must have been very proud to have claimed you as their graduate!”
“Perhaps, sir, but if that was the case, I was never informed of my favoritism. If anything, my teachers dreaded my presence in a lecture hall.”
“Well of course! Naturally, I am sure you knew the answer to almost any question! A thirst for knowledge and a brilliant mind you have! All your professors must have been jealous!”
To this, Carlisle had no response. Carlisle had long been praised by Dr. Nicholas ever since his return to England from Italy.
“Unfortunately for you, however,” began Dr. Nicholas, “I did not call you in my office to discuss your trials in life, nor to sing your praises.” Dr. Nicholas sighed. “You may have noticed, Dr. Cullen, that a rather fierce outbreak of the small pox has gripped the Americas and France?”
“Yes,” replied Carlisle, interested.
“The citizens of London grow more frightened of the pox each day, and it is our job as doctors to ensure their survival if the pox would happen to manifest itself here.”
“Well…what…what are your opinions upon the ideas of inoculation?”
“Inoculation?” repeated Carlisle.
“Yes – the act of injecting the disease into a patient so that they will not fall more ill in case a stronger mutation of the disease develops.”
“I am familiar with the term, Dr. Nicholas,” said Carlisle nicely, smiling a little.
“Well of course you are…I wouldn’t think that you…” He trailed off and took another great breath. “I am taking a consensus from our doctors. You see, many families have already approached me with the idea, and, quite frankly, none of the other doctors here are thrilled about the proposal.”
“It is only that…if any doctor in London could immunize many people at once, efficiently, and correctly to ensure survival…”
“You think that the job is tailor made for me?”
Dr. Nicholas scratched his head in embarrassment. “Yes. The other doctors here agree entirely.”
“Of course they do,” whispered Carlisle.
“What was that?”
“Nothing,” said Carlisle, a bit too tartly. “I…I am flattered to hear that the other doctors think so much of me.” Truly, he could not think of why, especially because most of the other doctors were either strangely scared of him (because most vampires made even the most courageous humans anxious) or jealous of his flawless perfection in his chosen profession.
“Of course they do, dear boy!”
Or, thought Carlisle, they didn’t want to get the pox themselves, and would be happy to rid the hospice of me. “Well, I would think it rather dangerous to inoculate during the approaching season of winter, when people are more prone to fever and other disease, don’t you think, Dr. Nicholas?”
The old doctor paused, and once he began speaking, his words were close together, as though he were attempting to cover up the fact that he had not noticed this trend in his thirty year career. “But of course! It follows the natural trend of the seasons to immunize during the spring…”
He babbled on and on, making less sense as he went until finally, he stopped and peered at Carlisle, his spectacles upon the bridge of his nose.
“I suppose it is only right then, Dr. Cullen, to grant you the reprieve you deserve,” he finished at last.
Carlisle shrugged. “I have not been on call for a few days, Dr. Nicholas. Perhaps it would be better if I helped Dr. Adams and Mr. Grant and Mr. Fairfax for a few more days before I allowed myself a vacation.”
“Well, yes…of course, if that is what you wish, Dr. Cullen…”
“Then I suppose it would be prudent to get back to work?” asked Carlisle simply.
“Yes. That would be very prudent indeed.”
“Thank you for the private audience, Dr. Nicholas,” said Carlisle, rising from the chair and smoothly exiting the office.
Before long, Carlisle immersed himself in the work of being a doctor; never finished and always tiring, even for a vampire. But as he continued through it mindlessly, his thoughts once again wandered to Charlotte.
And that was perhaps the most dangerous place his thoughts could possibly be.
When it seemed as though all had calmed down, the sky had become rigidly dark, clouds covering the bright stars that usually shone. The moon, only full and bright a week before, was new and shadowed. And so, the night stood completely and utterly still.
It was the perfect night, thought Carlisle, to visit Charlotte.
True, his first trip to her house had only been hours after the Quincey Ball, but given his sudden thirst for her blood, he couldn’t resist being away from her for too long.
He sighed as he exchanged his hospital coat for the woolen winter cloak that had been hanging idly in the same spot for hours.
Carlisle meandered the streets of London aimlessly, trying to not attract attention to himself. If anyone had asked him where exactly he was going, it would have been impossible to decipher that he was quietly stalking Charlotte Marigold.
He shook his shoulders the moment the word “stalking” had crossed his mind. It was a terrible word, actually. It was a typical vampire phrase, sweeping across Europe only 50 years ago, when everyone suddenly believed in the existence of his kind. Those were the years of research…with the Volturi…
As he strolled toward Charlotte’s house, images flashed through his mind. The most clear of all, however, was Aro, his withered, onion-like face shining in the cave hundreds of feet below the ancient Italian city of Volterra.
“So young, so…confused,” he has said, after dissecting Carlisle’s brain for several moments. “To think that our kind has the ability to live on other kinds of blood! Ha!” He walked away from Carlisle, back to his throne-like chair across from the room. “When was the last time you truly feasted?”
Carlisle narrowed his eyes. “Since just after my transformation.”
“How noble of him,” said Caius saucily. “And you claim you will never turn to our ways?”
“Do all of you claim to tell me that the value of a human life is nonexistent here? That each of you has severed hundreds of thousands of human lives without a second thought?”
“Oh, come now, dear Carlisle, not this human rights argument again!” replied Aro restlessly. “You cannot change what you are or what we are! And yet, every fiber in your being fights against it! What a strange vampire you are…” Aro trailed off, his thoughts meandering about the room. “Such a compassionate nature would aid us greatly in luring victims…”
“Indeed!” agreed Marcus enthusiastically. “You seem to be irresistible to everyone, Carlisle. Your theories were explained with such passion that we almost, almost believed them to be worthy of our time.”
Carlisle closed his eyes and took a deep breath. “If that is your final verdict, I suppose I have no choice but to leave you and return to England.”
“Why England, Carlisle?” asked Aro curiously.
“Why do you stay here?” replied Carlisle softly.
“Good logic,” murmured Caius.
“And you’ll return to England to be a doctor, is it?”
“Yes,” said Carlisle. “I obtained my degree from Oxford University once I learned how to handle my thirst.”
Marcus sniggered. “Handle my thirst,” he mocked. “And the next thing you’ll tell us is that you’ll live purely by the compassion of your still heart!”
“Now, now, Marcus,” chided Aro. “Carlisle has been civil to us while he has stayed here and it is only fair that we extend that same courtesy to him.”
“If we are finished discussing two sides of an irresolvable problem, I believe it is time I take my leave,” insisted Carlisle once more.
Aro caught Carlisle’s gaze, keeping him there. “I wonder, Carlisle, if you would stay for a little while longer?”
“For what purpose?” asked Carlisle calmly.
“Well, you see, you have not stayed with us for long enough to see what exactly it is like to have such an abundance of fresh, innocent blood standing here before you.”
Carlisle closed his eyes, silently protesting such an order. “If you possess any civility-“
“Unfortunately for you, dear Carlisle, my curiosity outweighs my compassion.” He paused. “You will stay, Carlisle.”
“I really, honestly do not think that this is a very good idea…” he trailed, slowly walking to the doorway.
“I would not make another attempt at escape, Carlisle,” replied Aro warily, nodding to Marcus and Caius, who immediately floated to the exit, guarding it.
“You see, picking a fight with us has never boded well for any of our guests.” Aro stood beside Carlisle in an instant and touched his wrist briefly. “You will stay. But after the feeding, you are welcome to leave whenever you like.”
Carlisle stopped in front of Charlotte’s house and shook himself out of the fragmented reverie in his troubled mind. It would never be worth it to recall the pain in his thirst on that particular evening.
But the sheer beauty of Charlotte Marigold’s residence wiped away all the thoughts of moments before. On the outskirts of London it sat, surrounded by tall maple trees. Vines crept stealthily up the sides of the red brick. In the darkness, a dim light shone from the second story window.
Curiously, he peered around and found a tree across from her house, which he climbed until he was parallel to the lit window. Inside it, he could see a bed propped up against the far wall, and in it was a young woman, sheets pulled up to just below her neck. Her arms poked out from the quilt and she held a leather-bound book in her sleeping hands.
It was definitely Charlotte. Her auburn, brunette hair was laying in a braid to the side, splayed across the pillow in a haphazard fashion, making it very clear that she had only just flopped her head into that position and fallen asleep.
It was a risky thing to do, which was for sure. And Carlisle had never exactly been much of a risk-taker, either. But, as he had found before, there was something about this woman that intrigued him, and it was not only the specific and unique scent of her blood.
Before he took another moment to ponder this, he acted. He nearly leapt from the rooftop and onto the vine surrounding the window pane. Although it was not a very strong place to support himself upon, it sufficed for a long enough amount of time so that he could grab onto the porcelain ledge and flip open the window from the outside.
Carlisle crept into the room. His first inclination was to blow out the candle, as she would certainly see him peering at her the moment she woke up. He blew upon the flame softly for a moment and watched it slowly die, interested by the smoke that formed geographical shapes up above it.
The next thing he wished to do was remove the book from her arms, because it would most assuredly fall, and she would wake, groping around in the darkness for it until she would find his eyes and scream. He un-tucked the novel from her sleeping limbs and carefully placed it upon the table next to the bed. She sighed softly, and her eyelids fluttered for a small moment, but she fell back asleep quickly enough.
Sighing extemporaneously, Carlisle attempted to glance around the room and find clues of Charlotte’s everyday life. As expected, a rather large bookshelf towered over him on the far end of the room. Curiously, he picked up the closest book and peered at the cover. Candide, it read, a book that Carlisle was all-too familiar with, as he himself owned one of the first copies. And next to its empty place sat Robinson Crusoe, which was followed by a line of classics, ending on the right side with Romeo and Juliet.
What was he doing in Charlotte’s room in the middle of the night?
Carlisle sighed as boredom shrouded him like a blanket. He put the book back upon the shelf, and began to open the window again when her blood’s sweet scent filled the cold air. He was dizzy and felt as though he were about to faint for the first time in years. His throat was ignited by the fiery, commanding thirst that he had grown to hate. He filled his nose with her for another split second, and tore himself from the room, down the vines.
And in the quiet of the starless night, he sped off into the forest a hundred miles away to hunt something much less desirable.