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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Dear Miss Marigold,
I am sorry it has taken me so long to reply, but my work at the hospital lately has been too fast to stop. However, now that my shift is over, the chief surgeon has allowed me a small break. He thinks that I do not get enough sleep, so he has reprieved me for the next few days.
It is with that idea in mind that I would like to invite you to my home once more for tea. Given current circumstances, I would like to stay as far away from your home as possible, as I was informed only yesterday that-
Carlisle sighed and stopped writing. It was a terrible letter. Had he no emotion or sense of writing style? He sighed and crumpled it up into a miniscule ball and threw it angrily into the wall behind him. It made a hole.
“Damn,” he murmured, getting up from the desk and taking the letter out of the wall, slamming the plaster back together.
I am sorry about the delay of our correspondence. I have been at the hospital –
He stopped again. It was getting more and more difficult to lie to her, especially when he was growing more and more attached to her with each passing moment.
I would be very pleased if you could come by my home for tea once again. You may call at your earliest convenience, for I am off duty from the hospice for the next week. Sincerely,
Charlotte sighed. There would be no possible way in which she could sneak out of the house to visit him without her mother knowing.
Truth be told, Charlotte was still in a good deal of shock from tea at Mrs. Thatcher’s the previous afternoon. She could not have truly believed such a superstition, could she?
It was too bizarre for words.
But if, for some strange reason, it was true, she would have to hear it directly from the source, and that would require seeing him one more time before never speaking to him again.
Perhaps she could manage to sneak out when her mother was away, and her father was working. Perhaps. She would have to time herself very strictly.
Charlotte grabbed her traveling cloak and headed from the room to the sitting parlor downstairs. Her father was sitting there, a paper blocking his face.
“Papa?” she asked.
“Yes?” he replied, moving the news away from his face.
“Is it all right if I go to Felicity Thatcher’s home? She’s invited me for tea, and I do not wish to be late.”
“Of course, darling, you may take the carriage, too.”
“Thank you, Papa.””
She headed out into the front porch and waved directly at the driver, who had only just returned from ferrying her mother to God knew where.
“Where are you going, Miss Marigold?” asked Tom as Charlotte climbed inside.
“52 Rosewood Avenue,” she murmured.
“This man you’re visiting must be extraordinary if you’re going to his house so often.”
Charlotte smirked, but Tom could not see. “You have no idea.”
Carlisle opened the door of his house the moment after Charlotte knocked. Smiling, his eyes a smoldering amber, he met her gaze.
“I…I…I…” Charlotte stuttered, the firm words she had rehearsed in her head suddenly escaping her mind.
“Yes?” he asked, narrowing his eyes in confusion.
She caught herself, looking to the floor. “I came by only to tell you why I cannot see you anymore.”
“What?’ he asked. “Why don’t you come-“
“No,” she replied quickly. “I mean…it’s just that…I am already going against my mother’s wishes, and I would rather not push her limits. If she finds out that I’ve been here at all…she…I don’t know.” Charlotte bit her lip.
“I was under the impression that your mother was happy about our friendship.”
“Please come in and tell me about it. I promise not to keep you for very long.”
His eyes found hers and dazzled the wits out of her once more.
“Well, I…I suppose that I could…” she cleared her throat and looked away from him. “But only if you promise to be quick.”
He invited her inside and took off her coat for her. “Sit down, please.”
She did as he asked, her heart rate soaring from both fear of what he was and nervous for the unpredictability of the situation.
“Shall I pour some tea?”
“No,” she answered again rather quickly.
“Miss Marigold, are you all right? You look rather pale and shaky, and your heart rate…”
“You can h-h-hear my h-h-h-heart-rate?” she stuttered.
“I…” he sighed. She knew. She must have known, or else she would not have been so skittish all of a sudden.
“I do not wish to be rude about all of this, but I do not quite know how to tell you my sentiments without doing so.”
“All I want is for you to relax. There is nobody in this room other than myself and you, and since you have already impressed me, there is no need to continue to do so.”
Charlotte gulped and a flash of color came back to her cheeks. “I went to Mrs. Thatcher’s home for tea yesterday. And, while I was there, I heard some rather detailed assumptions about you.”
“Detailed assumptions?” he repeated.
“Yes,” she looked down at her hands. “And…”
“And they do not believe that you are…h-h-human.”
Carlisle’s cool hand touched her chin and slowly pulled her ashamed face up to his. “And?”
She was tense, but the anxious green eyes shone up at him with a sense of attraction.
“That you are perhaps, in some strange way, a vampire.”
He paused, unable to respond to such a statement. His suspicions had been correct in every possible way they could have been. “Would you mind sitting down, Miss Marigold?” he invited quietly.
She silently completed his request. “It’s…it is true, then?”
He took a deep breath. “I am not going to tell you anything unless you calm down, and slow down your heart-rate.”
Charlotte bit her lip. “You can h-hear m-my…”
“Yes, I can, and I already told you that. Every time you’re around me it whizzes out of control.”
She colored a great deal.
“There,” said Carlisle, smiling nicely. “Now you are a little better. Do you trust me?”
“Of course,” whispered she.
“Good. What I am about to tell you requires your attention, but it also requires you to be tranquil until I am finished. And it is important that the words spoken here are never repeated to anyone else in the world, including your family, friends, and society ladies.”
Charlotte nodded, begging him to go on.
“I was born here in London in about the year 1622.”
He raised his eyebrows, waiting for her breathing to continue as normal.
“My father was Reverend John Cullen of the Anglican church of London. During those days, legends of the ‘blood drinkers’ circulated in London for the first time in one hundred years. And, being the violent man my father was, he lead the search for such beings, promising the King that he would rid England of their…our…existence.
“As I grew older, he saw that I was a strong, pious young man, and he was under the impression that I should lead his search, a he was growing older, and did not have as much strength as he once did.
“One evening, I came across a group of real vampires. We, my fellow searchers and I, finally cornered them after an exhausting chase. They had not feasted upon blood in days, and they were extremely thirsty. The leader bit me, but instead of finishing me off, he moved onto my team, who were running all over the place in fear. The three of them killed everyone else, and I escaped into a sewer.”
He paused, staring out into the distance. “It took me a while to find out what I had become…what I was becoming in those first few days…” He put his hand to his forehead and lightly rubbed his skin there, as though attempting to rid himself of a headache. “I fled London the moment I understood, and I attempted to kill myself for about 15 years. But after a while, I learned that I could not kill myself as quickly as I could if I were still human, so I came to a last resort: death by starvation.”
Charlotte’s eyes were filled with so much emotion that Carlisle could feel her empathy just by looking at her.
“I shut myself away in a cave, the thirst burning within me like a pain I had only felt whilst being created. After a few months, I grew to be so thirsty that I fed from the blood of a passing her of deer. And strangely enough, I was able to live on their blood with as much strength as if I were killing humans.”
She was still enraptured by his words.
“So, I traveled across Europe, living that way, learning about my kind and studying anything, everything I could. I found that I had a huge interest and passion for healing and medicine. And so, it seemed impossible for me to become a doctor; to work in such close proximity to human blood and not be tempted. I began to build up a resistance to it. I traveled all over, learning the trade by night, perfecting by day. By 1720, I had graduated from Oxford University with a degree in medicine, and I hadn’t had a drop of human blood. But I wanted to know more.
“That was when I traveled to Italy and met the Volturi.”
“The…the Volturi?” asked Charlotte, breathless.
“The very essence of my kind. Vampires who live in the underground of Italy, waiting and watching for victims to slaughter by night. They are the kings of my world, and there is one law that every last one of us must live with as long as we exist, and that is that we must not be discovered.” He stopped and caught her gaze. “Are you all right?”
Shivers ran down her spine. “So, you do not drink the blood of humans?” she asked quickly.
“No, I do not. I find the idea almost completely and totally repulsive, actually. Well, that was before…before you…”
Charlotte’s heart raced into a frenzy and she gulped. “Do…do I smell…exceptionally good?”
“Do you promise to calm down?”
“Yes, I do find the scent of your blood especially…endearing.”
“That was why I made your acquaintance as quickly as I did at the Quincey Ball. Your scent could be smelled from across the room.”
“But…but you waited until halfway through the evening until you asked me to dance.”
“Well, do you not think it would look strange if I cantered down the stairs to you the moment I smelled you?”
She laughed. “I suppose it would look rather odd.”
“I paced myself, but I knew that we would share a dance before the end of the evening.”
Charlotte grinned. “And then of course, I had the clumsy experience of banging into you.”
“I thought you were rather charming, actually. And I knew you were quite capable of being graceful. It was entirely my fault. I was on the verge of approaching you, but you turned while I was gathering myself and every cup of courage I possessed.”
“Courage?” she asked, sighing. “You don’t need courage to ask me anything. I’m the last person who should strike fear into anyone.”
“Why do you say that?” whispered Carlisle, brushing his hand against hers for a moment.
“Because…I…I-I-I-I…I am not exactly considered to be beautiful, or attractive at all for that matter, because…because my hair is strange…and I’m rather fat, you see, and my face is off-balanced…”
“Rather fat? Is that someone’s idea of a practical joke?”
“I…I don’t believe so…”
“Charlotte,” he breathed, his hand under her chin again. “When I saw you from across the room, I was blinded by smell, but when you ran into me and I saw you face to face, I was shocked to see how exquisitely unique and beautiful your features were.”
“H-how can you s-say that when you know it can’t p-p-p-possibly be t-true?”
Without a vocal response, he leaned in closer to her and met their lips.
At first, she was shocked by such an action, but in a few seconds, she loosened and engaged his kisses with gentle enthusiasm. He put his hand behind her neck, gently gracing her closer to him.
And it seemed to be over all too soon.
“There is something else you simply must know about me, Charlotte,” he murmured.
“Yes?” she whispered back, blushed and breathless.
“The last time I…well, the last time I engaged in a romance…I was…I was human. It’s been…it’s been over a hundred years since I…since I have done anything like this…and…and I never…”
“Thirsted for a young woman’s blood?”
“Yes, yes exactly. So, so…you see, I don’t…I don’t know quite where my limits will be, and if…if I can last…”
“What do you mean? Are you…do you think you’ll be unable to resist my blood?”
He paused. “It is more difficult than I would have originally imagined.”
“But you have been denying your blood lust while you work in the hospital, and for so long! How…how can I be different?”
Carlisle sighed. “Because, my dear Charlotte, you smell undeniably luscious.”
She blushed and looked down to the floor.
“But you should know that I would never, ever reduce myself to that monstrosity. And if, for some stupid reason, I would do that, I would most certainly murder myself as well.”
Charlotte looked up at him with caring eyes. “You care for me that much?”
He smiled. “Of course I do.”
“From only knowing me for a few days?”
“It will be a week after tomorrow.”
A wide grin crossed her face. “I knew there was something different about you!”
“I mean, other than the fact that you were…well, you know.”
“Yes, go on.”
“There was just…something about you that I was drawn to. Something I could not describe to any of those insulting society ladies.” Charlotte wrinkled her nose.
Carlisle laughed musically. “I am glad that we agree on something.”
“We agree on many things, dear Dr. Cullen.”
He smirked. “It is Carlisle, as I have said before. Or do you not remember?”
“I remember well enough. It is only that I found it awkward to call you by your first name. I have never called a man by anything but his surname, and I am still growing accustomed.”
“But then again, you have never been romantically involved with anyone, have you?” He chuckled a little bit under his breath. “Of course you have not. You seem to turn completely to jelly every time I charm you.”
Charlotte giggled. “Yes, I suppose I do.”
“Most definitely,” he agreed. “But the thing that is most curious to me is the fact that you know the truth about me, but you do not run away in fear. How strange!”
She sighed. “I suppose you…you keep me here?”
He tilted his head to the side and furrowed his eyebrows. “I keep you here?”
“Well, I suppose you…you frighten me, but I am…I am deathly attracted to you at the same time. You’re one of the only men who have been able to keep my attention, and one of the only men who I do not have to be polite to. I can be myself with you, and that frightens me as well.”
He nodded slowly, his eyes closed. “I know exactly what you mean. And I’m afraid for you, because you have chosen to be with me, have you not?”
Charlotte smiled. “It certainly seems that way, does it not? But…but there is a little snag.”
“My mother heard the conversation at Mrs. Thatcher’s home, and she believes that you’re a vampire, too.”
Carlisle groaned. “Damn.”
“I could always murder her,” he suggested.
Charlotte looked horrified.
“I was only joking.”
She nodded, the horrified look still evident upon her features.
“Well then, I believe there is only one solution to our problem.”
“We’ll have to go to tea at your home.”