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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... Caramel 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.

4. Four

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“Have you found the fancy of anyone at the most recent balls, my dear?” asked Mr. Marigold, a few mornings later. Charlotte, who had been sipping her coffee in silence, as she felt as though she had woken from the strangest dream, and from the deepest sleep.

“Well, I…I’m not exactly sure, Papa,” she murmured, smiling at him for a moment.

“Oh, that’s not what I heard, Lottie,” replied Mrs. Marigold, “I heard only this morning that you were warming up quite nicely to Dr. Carlisle Cullen.”

Mr. Marigold nearly choked on a bite of egg. “Dr. Cullen?” he boomed at once.

“Oh, come now, John,” sighed Mrs. Marigold. “Any engagement is a welcome one. And at least he has a steady profession, with good work. That’s certainly more than I can say for some of Charlotte’s suitors!”

“Mama!” exclaimed Charlotte with indignation.

“Well, it this true about Dr. Cullen, Charlotte?” asked Mr. Marigold at last, groaning a little under his breath.

Charlotte sighed. “I…I suppose so, Papa. We shared two dances at the Quincey Ball and he invited me to tea a few afternoons ago.”

“Is that where you were? I was rather curious, darling, but at least you were safe with him.”

“Safe indeed!” retorted Mr. Marigold, outraged.

“Papa, you raised me well. I would not go if it were completely unsafe or unladylike to do so!”

“But you must still be careful, Lottie,” he warned. “You are but nineteen and you are still very vulnerable to any young man who crosses your path!”

Charlotte sighed again.

“Are you involved with him?” asked Mrs. Marigold, politely prying.

“I…yes. It…we aren’t serious, but I believe he has taken some sort of interest in me…”

“Excellent! We shall have to meet him immediately, and his parents must come round, too! Where does he live?”

“52 Rosewood Avenue,” droned Charlotte, as though she were uttering a death sentence.

“Splendid! Well, I’ll send for him right away!”

For the rest of the morning, the Marigold family ate in silence with various types of extreme expressions etched upon their faces. Mrs. Marigold ate with a goofy grin on her face, eating with more energy than she had in years, while Mr. Marigold frowned with furrowed eyebrows into his porridge, which was steadily growing cold. And Charlotte, embarrassed by both her mother’s and father’s reactions to Carlisle and the idea of him, sat in front of her food, unable to digest any of it.

Far away in the forests of Scotland, Carlisle sat up from his crouching position on the floor, next to a carcass of a rather large deer. There were several animal corpses similar to the one closest to him that he had torn apart, and they all laid in a huge, bloody mass in front of him.

It had been about two days since he had been in London, close to Charlotte. But it was imperative that he stayed without her for a small amount of time in order to preserve her life for much longer.

And still, even through the temporary quench of his thirst, he felt selfish. She did not deserve a monster such as him, and yet, he could not help himself. There was still something entirely human about the way he craved her company. Even after only about three days of knowing her, there was something between them that lacked a proper definition.

She was so breakable, so innocently breakable in the way that human beings were. And still, an inner strength, an inner sorrow lived within her very skin that made her beautiful and powerful in a way that most humans weren’t. She was beautiful to him, a centurion vampire, who should not have even bothered to search for beautiful young women at the Quincey Ball.

He looked up from the carcass and raced to the edge of the forest, where a calm, vast body of water stood in the stillness of the early morning.

There were so many things that had escaped his notice before he was a vampire. Living had felt like enough of a thing, much less watching nothingness float past him. The things on the edge of the lake that were so simple they were ignored found his notice at last. The shadows between the moon and the sun as they shifted places, the subtle grace of the gravity and the heavy, the dull weight of stone – they all found him, as he sat there, motionless at the edge of the lake.

He had never thought anything of all these simple forces that existed in nature, perfectly designed. He knew that the humans saw him as the embodiment of perfection, like those oddities in nature. Made to last, made to admire, but never made to live within direct vicinity of. For him to live with any human was destructive, like a tornado living in harmony with the land it was destined to obliterate.

But how could the Volturi have been right? And how could he, Carlisle Cullen, master of desire, allow them to win at such a sick game?

All of this was tearing at his insides, eating him apart piece by piece.

He took a deep breath, groaned, and wracked his brains for a solution. The easiest one was to take his remaining weekend and speak to fellow vampires, the Volturi, about such an idea.

Euf. He shuddered. That was perhaps the most dim-witted idea he had ever had. had he honestly sunk to a level of idiocracy that made him believe the Volturi would help him in this? If they had actually won him over in the time he was there, he would have killed Charlotte by now. The scent of her blood would have been timelessly etched upon his hands. And he did not think that was something he could live with.

Or, option two, he could leave England all together. What about the American colonies? He sighed. Too risky. Foolish humans, a destructive war. When and if he arrived there, his accent would give him away all too easily, and he doubted the Americans would welcome him. And yet, there was still something about the Americas that drew him...

Perhaps he would visit in a few centuries. Maybe even live there.

But now, he was forced to face one option. Charlotte was growing more intoxicated with him and curious about him with each passing day. She would hear more and more about him, and before long, she would begin to form conclusions. She was a smart girl, he knew that much by merely speaking to her, but would she honestly connect the dots correctly and figure out that he was a vampire?

He decided in the end that she was entirely capable of doing so. It might have taken her another six months at most, but he was almost sure that it would not even take her another few weeks.

Admitting all of this to himself at last, Carlisle realized that a true romance with Charlotte was inevitable, and he began the trek back to London.

"Are you coming, Charlotte?" called Mrs. Marigold up the elegant staircase to her daughter's room.

"Yes, Mama! Allow me one more moment please!" replied Charlotte.

She was staring at herself in the mirror, a look of pure disgust on her face. Even though her maid had managed to arrange her hair in a fashion that would have looked good on anyone else, Charlotte could not help but think her hair still looked unkempt. The dress that her mother had forced her into made it difficult to breathe and the pink bows that littered the blue stomacher only attracted attention to her waist, which looked rather grotesque underneath the mash of colors covering it. To make matters worse, Charlotte had never had natural cleavage, and the way the new corset supposedly supported her chest only made her look awkward and less beautiful with each passing moment that she gazed into the mirror.

But it's fashionable! Charlotte could hear her mother's words perfectly and groaned in disgust. Fashionable her ass. Why did her mother have to accept every invitation for tea that ? Today, it was those God-awful society ladies, who had only invited Charlotte and Mr.s Marigold to tease them about Carlisle Cullen.

Charlotte cringed as Carlisle Cullen wandered about her mind once more and shivered, too. He had been gone for an entire weekend and then some. In her curiosity, she had gone to that sickening hospital,only to find that he had apparently disappeared on a holiday. She was outraged at first, because he had promised to stay in touch and write her as soon as he could, and he had the nerve to go on holiday? Besides his disappearance, she had heard even stranger things about him. Girls all over began to say that he was too shy to go out at night for fear of rejection, that he raped innocent women in dark alleys in the middle of the night, that he had a secret lover in France, and last, but not least, that he had had several rendezvous with all the royalty in Europe, sneaking from palace to palace and entering women's bedchambers with the stealth of a fox, and pleasing them with his statuesque shape...

But of course, Charlotte didn't believe in any of those rumors.

Did she?

She shook her head silently as the carriage took off across town. No, he had definitely not done any of those things! He was so compassionate, quiet, respectful, intelligent...

But then again, there had been an irresistible smoldering to his eyes that one afternoon at tea, hadn't there been? She knew, right then, that he could have had any woman he desired at the drop of a hat.

Why had he chosen her? The poor girl could not come up with any good reasons as to why he had asked her to dance at the Quincey Ball when there had been an entire room full of beauty for him to choose from. Why had he selected the girl with the wild-looking hair, the awkward height, the striking eyes, and the abnormal body shape?

"Do you intend to depart from the carriage any time today, Charlotte?" demanded Mrs. Marigold, catching her daughter's attention at last.

"Sorry, Mama," sighed Charlotte, picking up her skirts and descending from the carriage. She stared at her surroundings. "Who's home is this?" asked Charlotte incredulously, looking up at the gigantic mansion standing in place before her.

"Mrs. Thatcher's," replied Mrs. Marigold, grinning as they began to walk to the front door. "You remember her daughter, Felicity?"

"Vaguely," said Charlotte, an extremely short girl with long blonde hair and light blue eyes entering her memory for a moment. The girl was rather annoying.

"Mrs. Thatcher is expecting you," said a bored voice at the doorway. "Through this hallway here. You are?"

"Miss Marigold and Mrs. Marigold."

"Lovely," the irritated maid lead the two of them to the sitting room, where she announced their names in the same voice.

"We're so happy you could join us," invited Mrs. Thatcher, perched on an elegant silk armchair, her tea resting on the table next to it. "Please, have a seat."

"Thank you," chorused mother and daughter, sitting on the rose-colored chaise nearest to them.

"We were just discussing the events of the Quincey Ball, Miss Marigold," announced Mrs. Dorsen.

"Oh," said Charlotte, although she was not surprised of their behavior in the slightest. "It was a rather grand affair, I must admit."

"Grand to whom, Miss Marigold?" asked Mrs. Spinnet, her voice biting. "It was ghastly." She shuddered as she sipped her tea politely. "Such horrid table decorations, honestly..." But the eyes of the room were all staring directly at her, as though to push Mrs. Spinnet into asking Charlotte about the only man she bothered to dance with. At last, the poor woman cleared her throat. "That is to say, I mean, that it was a horrid event until that Cullen fellow showed up."

"Indeed!" echoed the others. Mrs. Marigold shifted uncomfortably in her seat.

"He seemed rather intent on winning your company, Miss Marigold," commented Mrs. Thatcher.

"On the contrary, Mrs. Thatcher," began Charlotte, "Dr. Cullen left early upon my account."

"Dear me, why on earth did he do that?" inquired Mrs. Dorsen.

"I...I believe I insulted him."

Mr.s Thatcher, Mrs. Dorsen, and Mrs. Spinnet all broke out into tinkling laughter.

"And how exactly did you manage to insult him?" asked Mrs. Dorsen, after the laughter had calmed down.

"I'm not exactly sure, to be honest."

"But he invited you to tea the next day to apologize?" pressed Mrs. Thatcher.

"How do you-"

"Never mind that, Miss Marigold," replied Mrs. Dorsen at once. "We society ladies know all there is to know about young women like yourself who have yet to select a husband." She paused. "And how was tea?"

"It was as pleasant as I expected it to be-"

"And Dr. Cullen?"

"As inviting as possible-"

"And the tea?"

Charlotte furrowed her eyebrows. "Didn't you just ask me about the tea?"

Mrs. Spinnet leaned forward slightly to look Charlotte directly in the eyes. "We asked you about the company of the tea, Miss Marigold. How was the tea itself?"

Charlotte took a deep breath as she tried to decipher Mrs. Spinnet's meaning. "It was...normal... just like an average tea..." It struck her very suddenly. "He did not drink any himself. He just sat there, with the cup in his hand."

"And do you know of many gentlemen who do not enjoy a good tea, Miss Marigold?" asked Mrs. Thatcher, her eyebrows raised.

"I suppose I do not, ma'am..."

Mrs. Dorsen put down her teacup. She stood gracefully in one motion, the silk of her gown flourishing the floor. "You see, Miss Marigold, we have been watching Dr. Cullen for a few years."

Charlotte furrowed her eyebrows in concentration. "And? Why would you deliberately stalk him?"

Mrs. Thatcher smiled for a moment. "We aren't stalking him, per se, Miss Marigold. We are merely observing."

"And in your findings, what exactly is so dangerous about him that you find it prudent to warn me of his company?"

"The man is never seen in London during the daytime, Miss Marigold," continued Mrs. Spinnet.

"That's because he's-"

"A doctor? Yes, he's always at that hospice, is he not?"

Charlotte could not respond.

"When he dares to leave the hospice, it is twice a year, at two balls, the Quincey Ball, and the Raymond Ball. Have you noticed what these balls do not include, miss Marigold?"

Once again, she felt incredibly stupid, as she could not move her mouth open enough to speak.

"Those two balls are the only ones that do not include a formal dinner half-way through."

"Do you have any theories as to why all these things occur, Miss Marigold?" asked Mrs. Thatcher, her face still and solemn.

"Hmm," pondering Charlotte, sighing, as she was having problems fitting the pieces together. "He is rarely seen, he doesn't eat, he sparkles in direct light, he rarely socializes..." she trailed off, angry that she was so apparently dim-witted.

"When we were young, Miss Marigold," said Mrs. Spinnet, "Not much older than you, the Empress of Austria began a rather viscous search for a sort of being that is called a vampire."

Charlotte's eyes widened in disbelief.

"That was the first time Carlisle was seen in London."

"But... but you can't possibly think that... that Carlisle is a... a..." she could not force herself to say it. The circle of society ladies all looked at her with expectations. "And... and you mean to say that he... that he actually drinks human blood?" she gulped.

"The murder rates have ascended to a dangerous, dangerous number, Miss Marigold."

"But he is so kind and polite!" she protested, looking to her mother for help. "Mama..." But Mrs. Marigold had turned white, her eyes red-rimmed, terrified.

"Yes. How else would he have the ability to lure innocent girls like yourself?"

Charlotte took a deep, shuddering breath.

"So, as a precaution, Miss Marigold, we would advise that you make sure not to be alone with him, and if you ever find yourself in a predicament such as that, you would leave immediately."

After a long, disbelieving silence, Mrs. Marigold touched Charlotte's hand, making her daughter jump from her seat. "I believe it is time for us to leave, Charlotte."

Still shaking, Charlotte set her teacup down hastily. "Yes...I...I suppose it is..."

"Well, it was very nice of you to come to my home, Miss Marigold, Mrs. Marigold," said Mrs. Thatcher cheerily.

The moment they were outside the house, Charlotte met her mother's eyes.

"Mama, you can't honestly believe what they said about-"

"I think it is best if you stay away from this Dr. Cullen, Charlotte."

"But Mama-"

"I won't tell your father."

But Charlotte, unable to respond to her mother's words, was already hatching a plan.