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Caramel: The Musings and Adventures of a Miss Charlotte Marigold And of a Dr. Carlisle Cullen

Summary:
"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!


Notes:
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.


8. Eight

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Eight

Several weeks passed, and the peculiar love between Carlisle and Charlotte grew. At first, it was only Carlisle who had proclaimed his love and made it known, as Charlotte was a little shier of a person, and did not wish to proclaim love until she was sure it was returned.

However, it was definitely true that Charlotte was madly in love with Carlisle. She did not know how exactly it had happened, or when exactly it happened, but there it was. She absolutely yearned for his presence each time he was away, and he filled her head each night when she fell asleep.

She was scared of him, she knew she was. But the compassion in his eyes when he looked at her and the kindness in his voice when he spoke made it evident that he would never lay a finger on her in any violent way. It was the fact that she knew he was capable of killing her in an instant.

Carlisle was Carlisle, however, and he would hate himself to the worst degree if he touched her in that way. It was only in the way of love that he stroked her cheek or lightly touched his lips to hers. And before long, it was incredibly evident that Carlisle was so madly in love with Charlotte that he was no longer a monster, but a man.

Carlisle was truly at peace for the first time in nearly 100 years. It was a peace that made him feel at home, made him feel purely human and purely adored. In this way, his work at the hospital improved. He saved more souls, because he had a person in his life to truly live for.

However, the happiness of Carlisle and Charlotte was short-lived. Before long, the society ladies had begun a gossip mill about the couple that churned out rumors every few days. That Carlisle had no plans to marry her, but disgrace her, that Carlisle was out of his mind to love the girl who was more overweight than any other young women in the circle of young maidens who were of marrying age. Perhaps the worst of all the rumors was that Charlotte’s weight gain was due to the fact that she was “with child”.

This was first circulated at the London premiere of Mozart’s new comic opera, when both Charlotte and Carlisle were present. It was Charlotte’s first opera, but she found the piece itself to be thoroughly enjoyable (mostly due to Carlisle’s perfect Italian translations whispered into her ear). At intermission, the society ladies made a clear heading towards the new couple.

“Why, Miss Marigold!” exclaimed Mrs. Thatcher, flanked on either side by Mrs. Dorsen and Mrs. Spinnet as usual. “It is certainly lovely to see you out in the city.”

“Thank you, Mrs. Thatcher. My parents have been confined to our home as of late, and I have been as well. However, when Dr. Cullen asked me to tonight’s opera, I could hardly refuse.” She smiled and looked at Carlisle, who responded with sparkling amber eyes. “Which reminds me, I do not believe any of you have formally met Dr. Cullen?”

Mrs. Thatcher pursed her lips, Mrs. Spinnet pressed her mouth into a tight line, and Mrs. Dorsen squeezed a tight smile.

“No, we haven’t met,” interjected Carlisle brightly.

“This is Mrs. Chrysanthemum Thatcher,” said Charlotte. Carlisle bowed and kissed her hand lightly. “Mrs. Eliza Dorsen of West Hampton,” continued Charlotte, Carlisle repeating the same action. “And finally, Mrs. Margaret Spinnet of Larch.”

“It is certainly an honor to meet all of you,” replied Carlisle.

The three married women looked at him in awe. His eyes, his sculpted and perfect body, his grace in conversation and his easing smile had all of them captivated.

“We’re actually surprised to see you out of the hospice, Dr. Cullen. Is this not prime healing time?” asked Mrs. Spinnet.

Mrs. Thatcher narrowed her eyes at her fellow lady and whispered something into her ear.

Carlisle cleared his throat. “Actually, I’m glad you brought that up, Mrs. Spinnet, Dr. Nicholas, was kind enough to give me this next week off.”

The trio could not reply.

“I am actually rather glad that Dr. Cullen is off duty today, as I have enjoyed the opera immensely because of his translation!” replied Charlotte enthusiastically.

“Oh, is that what he was whispering in your ear?” inquired Mrs. Dorsen fiercely. “We all thought they were sweet nothings or the beginnings of a lover’s quarrel.”

It seemed to take all of Charlotte’s strength to keep from slapping Mrs. Dorsen. Carlisle’s hand tightened around hers.

“Surely you jest, Madame,” countered Carlisle. “You see, Miss Marigold and I get along so well that the only possible quarrel between us could only be one that involves my poor translation.”

This seemed to lighten the mood of the conversation quite expertly, and before long, the entire circle seemed very at ease.

But Mrs. Thatcher once again disrupted the perfection of that balance.

“May I have a word with you in private, Miss Marigold?”

Miss Marigold looked to Dr. Cullen anxiously.

“Come now, I only need to ask you a simple question, dear,” said Mrs. Thatcher.

“I doubt there is anything you could say to Charlotte that is inappropriate for anyone else to hear, Mrs. Thatcher,” said Carlisle.

“All right then, if you wish to be frank about it…”

“This is a night of Mozart,” said Carlisle.

“Well, the question on my mind, Miss Marigold, is how far along are you in your pregnancy?”

“What?” whispered Charlotte.

“Oh, come now, we all know that the two of you have shared the same bed for a while now. And you have been gaining weight steadily. When is the bastard due?” asked Mrs. Dorsen.

Charlotte could not respond, but her face turned as gray as Carlisle’s.

“Madame,” began Dr. Cullen, “I assure you that Miss Marigold and I are only together socially in the simplest of senses, and to assume anything more is a flaw in your character, not in either of ours. I shall pray God has mercy on your soul, for beginning a gossip reel about an innocent young woman is a grave thing indeed.”

They paused, shocked that Carlisle had the courage to say such things to them.

“You’ll have to excuse us,” he continued. “I doubt that this lady will be able to continue through the opera in peace with such filth in the same theatre.”

He followed Charlotte out, as she was several paces ahead of him and nearly out the door.

“Charlotte!” he called.

But she continued to walk away from him.

He caught up to her in very fast strides and stood in front of her. “My darling, you’ll freeze if you do not wear a coat.” Immediately, he wrapped his jacket around her delicate shoulders.

She stood in awe before him. “Do you know what this means for me? My reputation is ruined!”

He sighed. “If you wish to separate from me, I shall understand completely.”

“No!” she cried, her voice a hysteric sob. “We have to stay together – we have to prove them wrong!”

Carlisle smiled. “I’m so glad you feel that way, Charlotte.”

Charlotte replied with a watery, feeble smile. “However could I feel any different?”

“Come here,” he murmured, opening his arms at last.

She slowly walked to him. In the crisp autumn air, his body should have felt cold, but she felt warm within his embrace, as though all her hatred and tears were melting away.

“Come, I’ll take you home,” said Carlisle at last, stroking her reddish brunette hair softly.

He slowly sauntered to her home only a few miles outside the city. He did not exactly wish to bother with a carriage, and before long, he picked her up into his arms.

“How sweet,” came a sickly voice from a dark alleyway. “The fabled vampire picks up the maiden and carries her home after an emotional evening.”

Carlisle froze, waking Charlotte.

“What is it?” she whispered, looking up at his eyes.

“Oh, don’t fear, little girl, your guardian will keep you safe for as long as he is able. And then, you are mine, and Aro’s.”

“Marcus,” growled Carlisle, staring into the blackness straight ahead. Immediately, as though summoned, a tall, ancient vampire materialized in front of them.

“How did you guess?” Marcus took a deep breath of air. “It seems as though Aro’s predictions were correct.”

Charlotte shivered within Carlisle’s arms.

“Yes, I know you’re afraid, girl. The way in which you love him nearly melts off your body the way the scent of your blood wafts off your skin.”

“It’s Miss Marigold to you, Marcus,” snarled Carlisle softly. “What are you doing here?”

“Aro sent Caius and I to check up on the populations of our kind. I just came from Vienna. Fresh blood there – nobody threatened to take the humans from me. There are no new members to report.”

“Well, you know I’m here,” replied Carlisle tartly. “Now, perhaps it would be best if you made your way back to Italy and told Aro that I am doing just fine.”

Marcus laughed softly. “I only wish it were that easy, Carlisle. But you see, I was ordered to return with the girl – whether with her blood on my hands, or with her in your arms.”

Carlisle narrowed his eyes. “Why?”

“We have one rule, Carlisle, and you have deliberately broken it.”

“The girl has not broken any confidences-“

“No,” he replied, “You have. You know that we do not tolerate anything like this, Carlisle. And rule breakers must be punished.”

“You’ll have to destroy me first,” promised Carlisle, gritting his teeth.

Marcus laughed again. “Aro was afraid this would happen.”

“Well, when you report back to him, you can inform him that he was correct. In the meantime, I hope that when you check up on me again in one hundred years-“

“That won’t be necessary,” said Marcus smoothly. “You see, if we teach you a lesson now, we won’t have to check up on you each century.”

At once, Marcus made a quick dive for Charlotte, who screamed. But Carlisle was too quick and he moved out of the way in the nick of time.

“You cannot possibly think that you’ll beat me at this game, Carlisle. I see the weaknesses in this relationship. And it won’t be long before I defeat you.”

“You are wrong,” countered Carlisle, moving and darting away from Marcus again. “Why exactly are you so intent upon shattering her?”

“Orders.” His answer sounded simple and complex at the same time. “I told you that you broke the law, Carlisle. She has to die.”

“What if she becomes undead?”

The game stopped. “You would not.”

Charlotte’s eyes widened at the thought of becoming a vampire. She looked up at Carlisle.

Marcus laughed. “She’s afraid.”

“You would be, too,” he murmured. “Weren’t you afraid of what you had become?”

“Of course not!” he defended. “I was proud of what I had become! Proud!”

They progressed in the chase, Carlisle always moving out of the way before anything happened to Charlotte.

“This is stupid, Marcus.”

“And yet, you lust after her in the same way as I.”

“But to complete the action is a sin, and you know it.”

They began to run, to where Charlotte did not know, for the speed was so fast it made her head spin.

Marcus snickered. “Sin? You’re worried about sin? We’re already eternally damned, Carlisle. Sin matters not.”

“I am sorry you feel that way,” sighed Carlisle.

“You’ll never outrun me carrying her.”

“Then I suggest you return to Aro unaccompanied,” said Carlisle fiercely.

Marcus halted Carlisle in the middle of a forest, his face inches from Charlotte’s.

“You have wonderful taste,” he observed, taking in the scent of Charlotte’s blood. “Fresh, clean, a blend of sweet pea and roses…and something else indescribable…”

“Get away,” warned Carlisle.

When Marcus leaned closer to Charlotte, Carlisle raised his fist and pummeled Marcus into the distance. Charlotte gasped and looked up at Carlisle, who had never been anything but a gentleman in the time she had known him.

Carlisle’s display of strength was short-lived in an instant, for Marcus had run back to the scene.

“Strong, Carlisle, but not strong enough,” he continued, a smile on his face. He pounded both of Carlisle’s arms with his fists, and Carlisle, unsuspecting, loosened his arms only enough so that he dropped Charlotte to the forest floor.

She screamed and was scooped up by Marcus, who nearly dug his teeth to her throat. But Carlisle caught Marcus’ neck and shut down his motives.

“Drop her,” he growled. “You won’t get past me.”

Slowly, Marcus uncurled his arms and dropped Charlotte to the floor with a thud. She was completely limp, as though dead upon the forest floor.

“Aro will expect you tomorrow,” said Marcus through clenched teeth. “And if you do not come, there will be trouble.”

And Marcus disappeared into the mist of the evening.

“Charlotte?” whispered Carlisle in her ear, afraid for her life for the first time since they met. He could hear her heartbeat, but whether she was fully conscious or not was another thing entirely.

At last, she stirred from the forest floor. “C-Carlisle?” she stuttered, searching for his eyes in the darkness.

“I’m here,” he murmured, slowly pulling her to him.

“What…w-w-what was…” she could not exactly finish her sentence.

“He’s one of the Volturi,” sighed Carlisle angrily. “I was not expecting to see him for at least another fifty years.”

“And h-he…wants me?”

Carlisle sighed again. “Charlotte, my love, I’m afraid that your blood smells luscious to other vampires besides me.”

Charlotte gulped. “And where exactly am I going?”

“I’ll have to carry you to Italy tomorrow.”

She raised her eyebrows. “How the hell are you going to carry me to Italy in two hours?”

He laughed. “I suppose you don’t remember how I brought you here and helped you evade your death?”

“It was rather dazing…I don’t particularly remember…”

“Do you have any idea where we are?”

“Do you?”

He grinned. “You mean, you don’t recognize this place?”

Confused in the darkness, Charlotte sat up completely and looked around. When she finally realized where she was, she gasped and tears slowly filled her eyes.

“We’re in Scotland, aren’t we?” she whispered.

He nodded. “I headed in this general direction…and he continued to chase…so we sort of ended up here.”

She nodded.

“I’m sorry.”

“No, it’s fine.”

“It was the first place I could think of. Because…I knew that I could keep you safe here.”

Charlotte furrowed her eyebrows. “How? The last time I was here, I wasn’t safe-“

“Yes, you were,” he disagreed quietly. “Your sister wasn’t, but you were.”

“But I’m not emotionally safe here…”

“Then perhaps I can change your mind,” he murmured, hoisting her up into his arms and running to the edge of the lake.

“Oh, no,” she murmured, not wanting to open her eyes and see the lake in front of her.

“It’s beautiful, you’ll see,” he whispered from behind her patiently. He wrapped his arms around her waist.

After several moments, she dropped her hands to his and took in the shimmer of the lake. A small swan moved over the surface.

Charlotte sighed girlishly. “You’re right.”

“Yes.”

“But…have you been here before?”

Carlisle cleared his throat. “I hunt here. I know bringing you here was risky, as I knew that when I hunt, I allow my senses to take over, but I felt that you needed to see the place like this.”

Charlotte turned around to face him and put her hands on his cheeks. “You always astound me.”

“That goes for you, too,” he murmured, leaning down to meet their lips for a moment.

“I’m so sorry,” she whispered.

“Why?” he asked, confused.

“I’m falling asleep. It’s awful! Because I want to love you and kiss you, but I…”

He met their lips once more, softly. “I should get you home. Your parents will begin to worry, and you’ll need strength to visit Volterra.”

She gulped. “You’re the one who has to defeat them.”

He sighed. “I deserve all the hell in the world, for tomorrow, I shall take you, willingly, to the innermost circles of danger, where you may catch your death.”

“You think there is a good chance I’ll die?”

He stared at her face lovingly for several moments. “You almost died tonight.”

“I know,” she whispered. “But you kept me safe. Can’t you keep me safe again?”

“I can try my hardest.” Unable to face himself, he took her up in his arms and began to run to her recognizable home outside of London.

“Thank you for keeping me safe. Will you keep me company upstairs?” she asked.

“Of course, once I explain to your parents what happened.”

“And your story is?”

“You passed out at intermission due to the tightness of you undergarments and I had to spend the rest of the evening nursing you back to health.”

She smirked. “Such a caring man.”

“Always,” he smiled.

When he knocked upon the door, Mrs. Marigold opened it immediately, her hair loosely braided down her back, her dressing gown covering what seemed to be a thick, pink nightgown.

“There you are. So nice of you to return my daughter in one piece,” she said, her hands on her hips.

“I always return her in one piece, though tonight certainly proved to be a challenge.”

“Yes, I know. Mrs. Thatcher came by earlier, while I was still decent, and told me that she had made a huge mistake in saying that my daughter was pregnant, since Charlotte apparently fainted after such words were bestowed.”

“I had to take her to the hospital immediately, for I feared for her health.”

“Yes, well, come in, I suppose. Is she in such a condition that you’ll have to carry her back to her room?”

“She fell asleep in the carriage and I did not wish to wake her.”

Although Carlisle hardly needed the candle or light to get up to Charlotte’s room, he followed Mrs. Marigold out of courtesy.

“Thank you,” said Mrs. Marigold at last. “I think I shall have to take it from here, Dr. Cullen. You see, she would be rather uncomfortable sleeping in these heavy clothes, and I am not at all comfortable with you undressing her.”

“Of course not. Although, I must tell you I have been instructed to stay all evening by her side, and tomorrow, she will be at the hospital from dawn until dusk.”

Mrs. Marigold could not respond, for indeed she had to trust Carlisle, but she did not wish to.

And Charlotte Marigold, who had been faking sleep only moments before, drifted into a deeply troubled slumber.