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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Charlotte, who could not resist inviting Carlisle to her home for tea, felt rather helpless and nervous in the carriage.
His cool hand touched hers for a moment and found her eyes. “You have got to calm down.”
“I feel nauseous,” she murmured.
“I know. You’re pale, and your stomach is upset, and your heart-rate is soaring…”
She looked up at him with raised eyebrows.
“I’m a doctor?” he asked, trying to help explain himself with a smile. “And you know, being what I am, able to hear a heartbeat…”
“Yes,” she whispered.
“I think I have a solution,” he murmured. “To relieve stress…” He placed his cool hands upon her warm shoulders and slowly massaged the tense muscles there. “We tried this on patients who are suffering from stresses of many kinds…although I must say that I…” He stopped for a moment. “It feels rather improper to do this with you.”
Charlotte groaned and turned back around. “You are right. But…” she blushed, her heart-rate fluttering. “But it is rather relaxing.”
“Well then, we shall pretend that this has been for medicinal purposes.”
“Yes,” she agreed, “Let’s.”
He resumed his position upon her shoulders, but the carriage lurched to a stop before he could truly relax her, and Carlisle, being a gentleman, helped her out of the carriage and onto the gentle, wet pavement upon the ground.
“The pleasure is all mine,” he smiled.
“Now, I must warn you before we go in that my parents know nothing of this little visit, and they may be rather…shocked to see you…especially my mother.”
“Right, because your mother has her suspicions.”
“And your father?”
“She told me that she did not tell him.”
“And your mother is, of course, a woman of her word?”
“Well,” he sighed and ran his hand over his face. “I suppose I shall have to be especially careful around your mother.”
“Yes. Do you plan on telling her the truth?”
“Not in one sitting, no. Did I tell you the truth the moment I met you? Although I must admit that I despise lying to anyone, especially someone that you love and cherish as a member of your family. Perhaps if we can get her alone, we can discuss who I truly am.”
“She is going to be very, very angry with me, I can assure you of that.”
He winked at Charlotte. “Perhaps I can convince her otherwise.”
Charlotte escorted him to the door and slowly opened the heavy wood.
“Mama? Papa?” rang her voice in the stillness. The seat she had left her Papa in was now vacant and the paper he had been reading was folded upon the table next to it.
After a few more moments, Mrs. Marigold rushed into the room, looking incredibly flustered. “Charlotte Catherine Marigold, I was so frightened! I was sure you had run off to that awful man’s-“ Mrs. Marigold’s loud, fast and chiding words were cut off when she saw Dr. Cullen standing next to her daughter, an attractive smile on his face.
“Mama, I do not think you have been properly introduced to Dr. Carlisle Cullen.”
Mrs. Marigold backed up several paces. “I-I-I-I-I…”
“Dr. Cullen, Mrs. Marigold,” replied Carlisle calmly, reaching for Charlotte’s mother’s hand.
She backed away even farther. “W-well, w-why d-d-don’t you st-st-stay f-f-for tea, D-D-D-D-D-Dr….”
But she stopped less than half way through his name, unable to continue, her chin quivering in fear.
“Tea is a lovely idea, Mrs. Marigold. I would be honored to stay.”
Still shaking, Mrs. Marigold nodded a little and led her daughter and Carlisle to the parlor. The two sat down upon the closest chaise, still peering at Mrs. Marigold, who was still standing, shivering, in front of them.
“Charlotte, can I have a word with you?” she asked, her voice high-pitched and squeaky. “In the erm…kitchen?”
Charlotte cast Carlisle a foreboding look and replied, “Of course, Mama.”
The moment Charlotte was out of the chaise, her mother grabbed her arm and pulled her through the swinging door to the small kitchen a few feet away.
“Charlotte Catherine Marigold!” yelled her mother, shaking her daughter for a moment. “What in God’s name is wrong with you? What the bloody hell did I tell you only a few days ago?”
“You keep quiet when I’m lecturing you, young lady! I specifically told you to never see him again, and you invite him for tea? And to make matters worse, you allowed yourself to be alone with him at his house? Are you bloody mad?”
When Charlotte didn’t respond, Mrs. Marigold continued, “Answer me!”
“Mama, I…he’s not who you think he is!”
“Charlotte, he isn’t human! I mean, look at him! All…gray and exquisitely attractive…and…and he could kill you at any moment! Good Lord, he could kill me at any moment! Do you know the danger you have put this household through, Charlotte, do you know?”
“He doesn’t eat humans, Mama!” she protested.
“How ridiculous of you to say that! Of course he does! That’s what vampires do! They suck blood from humans! You heard what Mrs. Thatcher said!”
“But…but…since when have you trusted the most awful gossips in London, Mama?”
“This isn’t about her-“
“I know it isn’t, but if it weren’t for Mrs. Thatcher, you would be sitting across from him, proud of me for finally finding someone who I…” She stopped herself.
Mrs. Marigold’s facial expression quickly turned from shrieking hysterics to pure hate. “Charlotte Catherine Marie Louise Marigold…”
And Charlotte knew that if her mother used all her names in one sentence that she was truly and deeply in trouble. She shrank against the wall, more fear in her than ever before.
“Do you mean to tell me that you have developed feelings for this man?” Mrs. Marigold’s tone was dull and quiet, with no true emotion in her voice and still, disappointment dripping from every syllable.
“I…I…yes, M-mama, I have.” Charlotte’s voice was broken up into small sobs, and tears were in her eyes the moment she stopped speaking.
Mrs. Marigold narrowed her eyes, clenched her teeth and put one hand on her waist. “Your father and I raised you to be a good judge of character, Charlotte. We did our best to maintain a good social standing so that you could marry well, maintain us and raise a good strong family. But this? What the hell is going through your mind?”
“I don’t know, Mama,” whispered Charlotte. “All I know is that Carlisle is not like the other men.”
“Because he is not a man at all,” said Mrs. Marigold sternly. “He is a thing. A thing that should not exist.”
“But he cannot help what he is! He was changed when he was young, and he tried to kill himself for years! Because he hates who he is, Mama, he hates it! So instead of killing people, he saves them! Can you not see? He saves lives! Hundreds of lives every year! He feeds off mammals, because he despises the idea of killing at all! Can you not see the compassion in his kind eyes? Can you not understand his true person? You must look deeper than the surface, Mama, and when you do, you will see the most wonderful man who has ever walked the face of the earth!”
Mrs. Marigold paused, shocked at her daughter’s words. She absorbed them for several moments, boring into her daughter’s eyes, deep in thought. She cleared her throat at last. “Well, I suppose it would be best if we did not keep him waiting. I shall boil some water. You may keep his company.” And she turned to the pot of water over the fire, and looked for the tea bags.
Carlisle was still sitting in the same position when Charlotte walked back into the parlor. His eyes met hers as she sat down next to him.
“Charlotte,” he whispered softly, touching her hand. “You are so very brave.”
“No,” she murmured, choking back the tears that were fighting to spill down her cheeks. “I’m the farthest thing from it.”
“Come here,” murmured Carlisle softly, pulling her to him with incredible gentility. He held her there for several minutes, expecting the tears to pour out her eyes and onto his jacket at any moment, but none came. She was motionless, but relaxed inside his iron grip.
“I do not know any young ladies who have enough courage to speak out against their mother’s wishes the way you did. And I know nobody who would fight their own flesh and blood for such awful company such as I.”
She looked up at him, barely breaking the embrace. “You are worth every tear that I spill upon my cheek.”
Carlisle kissed her forehead. “You are too charitable for words.”
“Charitable?” she whispered. “I am no the one who stayed in a room of someone else when that someone else was throwing insults at me.”
“I had to wait for you,” he murmured. “I knew you would emerge from the kitchen eventually, and when you did, you would be pained all the more if I was not here to shelter you.”
She knew he was entirely correct, and her only response was to bury herself once more within his chest.
He cleared his throat suddenly and gently pushed Charlotte back up into sitting position.
“Ah, Lottie, my dear, you’re back! How was your little outing?” asked the familiar voice of Mr. Marigold. “Oh, and who is this?”
Carlisle rose to greet Charlotte’s father with a friendly smile and an outstretched hand. “Dr. Carlisle Cullen, sir, it’s a pleasure to meet you.”
“Indeed!” replied Mr. Marigold warmly. “Well, sit down, sit down!” he encouraged, plopping into a blue armchair across from his daughter. “It is certainly good to meet you…my, my, a doctor!”
“And are you a doctor of medicine or theology?”
“In many ways both, sir, but as of now, I am only practicing the first.”
“At a private practice is it?”
“Oh no, sir, at the London Public Hospice.”
“Ah, splendid, splendid!” He nodded with a warm smile. “And that means you are a contemporary of Dr. Nicholas?”
“Oh, I wish I were as talented as he!” replied Carlisle with believably false envy. “He has taken me under his wing since I first joined the staff. Brilliant surgeon.”
“Indeed! He and I were contemporaries at Cambridge! Did you obtain your doctorate there, Dr. Cullen?”
“No, actually, Oxford.”
Mr. Marigold laughed. “My rival school! Oh, but those were good university years, they were! When did you graduate?”
“About five years ago, sir,” he covered lightly.
“Wonderful! At age eighteen, I presume?”
“Good Lord, you look young!”
“John, when did you come down?” asked Mrs. Marigold, finally bustling out of the kitchen with four cups of tea on a pewter tray.
“Only just now, my dear, I assure you. Dr. Cullen has proved himself to be excellent company!”
Mrs. Marigold gulped and turned rather pale as she handed Charlotte a cup of tea with shaking hands.
“Are you all right?” asked Carlisle politely.
“Oh, I-I-I’m fine, D-D-Dr. C-Cullen,” she stuttered, handing him a cup of tea as well.
“I’m sorry, but I don’t take tea-“
“Oh yes, I forgot, Dr. Cullen,” she replied rudely, about to snatch the cup from his hands.
“Without sugar,” he finished. “Did you already put a lump or two in here?”
“N-n-no,” stuttered Mrs. Marigold again. “All the tea is unsweetened.”
“Well, by George’s hat, Christine, why on earth would you leave the tea unsweetened?” asked Mr. Marigold, snatching up the sugar jar and scooping two good-sized tablespoons into it.
Mrs. Marigold could not respond.
After Carlisle had generously added sugar to his tea, he took a long drink from it and smiled.
Both Charlotte and Mrs. Marigold looked at him in shock.
“Well, goodness, girls, don’t stare at the poor man like that! All he’s doing is drinking tea!”
After a long two hours of socialization, Carlisle finally excused himself from the company of the Marigold family and claimed he was due for duty. Mrs. Marigold finally allowed for him to kiss her hand, and Mr. Marigold insisted upon a dinner in a few days.
And Charlotte, who wanted to be alone with him at last, escorted him out the door.
He cleared his throat as they met under the gloomy skies.
“I like your father,” he commented, smiling at her.
Charlotte laughed. “I like my father, too. Rather amiable man. Always up for some company.”
“You drank the tea.”
“Euf,” he groaned. “Disgusting. I’ll have to vomit soon.”
“Why did you do that?” she murmured.
“Drink that tea. And put up with my mother for a long two hours.”
He shrugged and flashed a handsome smile at her. “I have heard it said that men do strange things for women.”
“Yes,” she smiled. “I’ve heard that, too.”
They stared at each other for a few minutes.
“Well, I suppose I shall be going…”
“No, wait!” she pleaded.
“Would…” she trailed, her heart fluttered as she blushed. “Would you mind…can you…”
But before she could finish, he pulled her into his arms and kissed her gently. “We shall see each other again soon. Goodbye, Miss Marigold.”
Watching from the window, Mr. and Mrs. Marigold witnessed the romantic embrace from the parlor.
“Do you think that she chose well?” asked Mrs. Marigold softly.
“Very well. They seem very well matched for each other. Why would you be so skeptical, my dear?”
“He is different from other suitors,” she replied.
“Yes, he is. I was angered by the possibility of Charlotte marrying, but, I think I have kept her as my little girl for far too long. It is high time she grew up and married a young man worthy of her.”
“You think he is definitely the man for her?”
“I can think of no man better.”
“Even with his profession?”
“Christine, he has a lovely talent of calming her down, and that is the best thing for her.” He hesitated. “But you’re going to have to let her go, dear. She is the best young woman in this town. And she has the best young man in this town as her own.”
“Or the worst,” whispered Mrs. Marigold, so softly that her husband could not hear her.
But truthfully, Mrs. Marigold was not the only one who had her doubts.