Healing Charles

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9.

•••

~Stella

"I am officially a fan of this place."

Charles brought me to this small cozy parlour just outside the main city. The place is small and decorated in a vintage theme and serves the best flavours. I ordered my favourite cookie'n cream with berries on top and also discovered that Charles is not a fan of chocolates or anything that includes them as a flavour. He could not get any more weird.

"Told ya." He said nodding.

"You seem to know about this place fondly." I mused taking in note to his familiar way around the place.

"I used to come here a lot as a kid." He informed and instantly a picture of him as a six year old or maybe younger came into my mind. I tried to imagine him as a kid with those big grey eyes and dark locks. He must have been really cute back then.

"That makes sense." I agreed smiling. "Thank you for bringing me here."

He just winked in response.

We got up and paid for ourselves and exited the shoppe, making our way to Charles's bike. I love that hotness.

"What is the most rebellious thing you have ever done?" I faltered a little in my steps at his sudden questions. I looked at him and he gave me that mischievously urging look that said you better have a good answer.

"Why?" I asked countering his question.

He shrugged but did not elaborate which forced me to drill my memory around to find something but surprisingly none of that came to me. I never have been much of a spontaneous personality. All my life, I have been more of a mellow person who likes to know the details before hand rather than going head first into the fire pit.

"Not attended the Sunday Church lately?" I said cringing at my own voice and he did not hide away his pleasure in finding out my lack of adventurous skills either.

"Loser."

"I am not!" I said defensively.

"Uh huh."

"Am not."

"Prove it." My head snapped at him in confusion. He is enjoying this, is he not? Messing with me so that he can have his share of fun.

"What?"

"I said prove it."

"I heard what you said idiot!" Wow slow down there missy. Why am I getting hyper on his nagging? I know I am not a loser yet I do not want him to think that I am one.

Since when does it bother me what he thinks?

"Touching a soft spot eh?" He said smirking so I jutted my chin out at him.

"What do you want me to do?"

"Really?"

"Yes." I have a very obvious feeling that I just pitched myself into the worst situation and there is no going back now and that only confirmed when he gave me a wolfish grin.

Charles grabbed my shoulder and turned me around to face the shop we were standing in front of on the pavement outside. I was so distracted that I did not realise where we were until I read the name of the shop.

"Oh no no no no no no no no no no." I said backing away but Charles grabbed my hand instantly before I could run away from him.

"The loser says no ten times." His chuckle almost tickled my ear making me aware of how close he was standing behind me. His head over my shoulder and his mouth near my ear sent a weird nervous sensation down my back. I mentally shook my head to push away the weird feeling.

"Forget it I am a designated loser! Now can we go?" I said accepting his name for me. Its better than to do something as stupid as what he was getting me to do.

"Oh c'mon Stella. I'll do it with you if you want?" He said and I turned around in his hold to face him. I raised a brow at him and wished so bad for him to change his mind but from the set look he was giving to me, I knew he was not going to budge. I wish I had the parents' card right now to save myself from this but that is one of the disadvantages of crossing the threshold of adulthood.

"You would?" I asked hoping he was not joking on this one and he nodded. Suddenly it did not seem like the worst of ideas.

"Alright." I finally gave in and before I could change my mind again, Charles took my hand and dragged me inside the tattoo parlour. The shop had the typical dark theme with walls covered with pictures of all the kinds of tattoo designs. We walked up to the counter and a girl greeted us with a warm smile. Unlike her intimidating looks, she had very welcoming smile so I smiled back.

"What can I help you guys with?" She asked nicely and I wondered why was this place is even open in the first place. It was almost past midnight now.

"We would like to get tattoos." Charles informed her.

"Both of you?" She asked taking out a notebook from her desk.

"Yes."

"Have you decided what you want it to be?" She asked giving us an expectant look.

"Yes."

"No."

We both replied at the same time and I gave her a sheepish smile. Its not like I had planned to come here so it was only fair.

Although I narrowed my eyes at Charles who looked really smug right now. I almost wanted to slap him right now for giving me that mocking look.

I turned back to the girl who was busy writing down our names in her notebook while a guy from the back came to join her. He had dark eyes and dark hair which were a contrast to his pale skin. His one arm was completely covered with a tattoo sleeve. He turned to us and shook hands with Charles.

"Hi. I am Peter.” He said. He too, like the girl, had a soft voice and sounded rather humble despite his looks.

"I am Charles and this is my friend, Stella." I waved at him and he returned the gesture.

"I'll be assisting you." He said turning to Charles. "And Zoey here will help you, is that okay Stella?"

"Perfect." I smiled and thanked him. He beckoned Charles to follow him to the back and both of them disappeared behind the curtain. While I turned to Zoey as he informed the girl's name with an awkward look.

"Do you want to go through our catalogue?" She asked sensing my thoughts and I nodded.

"Yeah."

I skipped through hundreds of pages but none of it really caught my eyes.

I wonder what Charles was getting for himself. Did he always want a tattoo? I could not help but wonder about his quick response about what he wanted.

I sighed, still not able to decide what I wanted. I could easily run away right now while he is in there and the best part, he would not even know I am gone. Not until I am out of here already.

Wait.

An idea popped up in my mind and I asked Zoey whether I could go in there where Charles was. She gave me a thumbs up to go ahead.

I walked up to the curtain that was drawn, hiding him behind it and pulled it back. I did not go in but held it back enough for me to peep in.

Charles was sitting on a leather seat, his shirt removed while Peter was making something on his shoulder blade.

I swallowed my thoughts away when I saw his abs kept on display. He must surely work out for him to have such a fine physique. His broad shoulder had exquisite cuts which defined his muscular body. They narrowed down perfectly into a small waist that definitely had a V-dip disappearing into his jeans.

Wow thats two in a row, within a single day.

Down Stella.

What is wrong with me? I mentally slapped myself to behave.

"Hey Charles?"

He looked up at me and gave me a questioning look.

"What is it, princess?"

"Whats your favourite song?" I asked finally coming out of my weird stance that he had me fallen into earlier. He frowned but did not take long to answer.

"Tati by Gavin Haley." He said.

I grinned. Thats a good song. Before he could ask anything else I pulled away and went to Zoey.

"I know what I want." She smiled and took me to another set up she had and I told her where I wanted it.

"Good choice." She smiled and I beamed at her.

It took a while for her to complete it because I kept fumbling around whenever she brought the needle near to my skin initially but as she proceeded I got used to it. It did not hurt like I had thought it would.

"Done." She announced and helped me to get up and take a look in the mirror. I turned around to look at the small of my back where it was and smiled at how neat and minimal it looked just like I told her to do.

"Its beautiful. Thank you so much." I turned to Zoey and smiled gratefully at her. She slowly wiped the area around my tattoo with a towel to ease the tickling raw skin. It was a rather dramatic red because of my sensitive skin and covered the whole bit with a bandaid for it to dry up. I put my sweatshirt back and went to see Charles who was still not done with his.

"Hey." He said as I neared him. "Are you done?"

I grinned, nodding.

"Can I see?" He asked.

"Its patched up. I'll show you later." I said. "What are you getting?"

"Take a look." He gestured for me to come closer and see it. I did so happily. I circled around him and Peter moved back for me to see it.

I suppressed a low gasp in my throat. His tattoo was big and almost covered his right shoulder blade but the detailed and slim lines did not look too much if anything it looked beautiful. There were two feathers swirling around each other in a loose circle. One of them was black and the other one white. Both the feathers were mesmerisingly fine and took my breath away when I saw his muscles flexing under them.

His tattoo was a more delicate modification of yin-yang symbol. At least that is what it looked like.

"How is it?" I sensed anticipation in his voice and however much I wanted to stand back and keep staring at his tattoo, I turned back to face him and smiled.

"Perfect." I just could not help but feel it.

"Like me." Charles smirked and winked at me, his voice gaining back his arrogant edge in a good way but of course he got to have my eye roll in return.

"Did you always wanted to get that?" I voiced my curiosity looking in his eyes.

He gave me a slight shrug but did not answer and I did not push him either. I did not want to set him off knowing he can easily snap at any given moment yet here we are getting tattoos and having fun like this is what we usually do and however many time I may deny it in front of him, I do know that I am really having fun tonight.

I looked away from him, breaking the intense eye contact and welcoming the distraction when my phone buzzed in my pocket.

It was a text from Mae.

Where are you?

I told her not to worry and that I'll be home soon.

Alright. Be safe and don't forget that we are helping Valentino tomorrow.

Oh that. I completely forgot about it.

I looked up from my phone to find Charles still staring at me.

"What?" I asked chuckling nervously. He was looking at me so obviously and did nothing to hide it either.

"Show me yours."

I contemplated whether to show him what I got. I could feel my cheeks slightly heating at my choice but it was what came to my mind and since we decided to be spontaneous tonight, I did not give much of a thought to it myself.

I turned around and lifted my sweatshirt slightly up for him to look at it. I felt his hand coming up and he slowly ripped away the bandaid.

It said one of the lines from his favourite song.

Lemme watch sunrise from your eyes...

I bit my lip, waiting for some funny comment that he may toss at me but none of it came. So I turned around to look at him.

He was smiling.

“You are so obsessed with me summers.” He chuckled softly and I smiled.

“You wish?”

"Nah you are already my ‘tati’.”

I laughed at his words but did not miss the appreciation in his eyes and for some odd reason it was satisfactory.

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