Healing Charles

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15.

~Stella

I opened my eyes and stared at the wall in front of me not able to recall what time, day, month or year this was.

"Hey you are awake." I turned my face when I heard a masculine voice. He was sitting on the adjacent couch with laptop on his legs which were propped up on the centre table.

My eyes were still foggy and so I had to narrow them to adjust their focus. Have I gone blind or developed a cataract?

"Who are you?"

The man chuckled.

"Your knight in shining armour, remember?"

"For a second there I really hoped for you to be Ian Somerhalder." I said figuring I just fell asleep. I sat up and rubbed my eyes to wipe away the drowsiness and snuggled deep into the soft blanket around me which I am guessing was Charles's doing.

"Then you are in luck here. You get an updated version." He said smirking.

I scoffed.

"Mirror is not an obsolete piece of furnishing yet. Try to take a look in it every now and then." I said sarcastically.

"Based on your regular inspections of my fine physique, I would say I don't need to." He smirked and I could feel my cheeks flaming. Damn his observations.

"Can't I check out some guys in my vicinity without being teased about it?"

"No you can't." He said shaking his head. His voice had taken a firm edge. "I am enough for you."

I raised my brows in challenge.

"Not enough but you just happen to be in my face all the time."

"Really?" He cocked his head to one side and studied my face. I shifted under my blanket as he did not take away his eyes for a while from my face.

"Uh huh." I nodded with a touch of nonchalance which could justify my claim.

He shut down his laptop and tossed it away while getting up and making his way over to me. He bent down over me which forced me to push myself even deeper into his fluffy couch. His hands snatched away my blanket and I groaned when the cold air hit me but it was no issue to him. His hands snaked around my waist and Aaahhhhhhh!

"No Stop it Charles!"

He mercilessly tickled me. He shifted his weight so his legs pinned down my lower body and I could not push him away as I lay beneath him laughing my guts off.

"Yeah?"

His hand went around my shin and he tickled the sensitive area earning awfully girlish giggles from me. My eyes were starting to pool with water when he did not stop his assault.

"Ple-please Charles, stop!" And he did which left me breathing hard as I lay gasping for air. He looked down at me, freezing me in the spot with his intensive gaze and for some reason I could not move either.

He brought his face closer to mine until our noses were merely few inches apart and I swear the whole world could hear the sound of my heartbeat right now. Up this close, he looked even more beautiful. I could see some green specks in his otherwise grey eyes, the dents in his cheeks which gave a sharp angle to his face, his perfect straight nose which had a small, very tiny mole on it. The details were alluring.

"What about now? Am I being in your face ?" His voice was rough and deep making my intestines wiggle inside. The way I was responding to his actions was weird in a very very obvious way. I was short of breath from holding it back in anticipation, my skin on fire under his skilful eyes. I could not have given him any more satisfaction than he needed right now. I was a pawn in his game, while he pulled my strings on his own accords.

"Wh-what?"

Great. I can not even say a word without stuttering in front of him.

He smirked.

"Gotcha." He pulled away and this time it was even worse than pulling away blanket from me. His warmness was gone as well and my sub conscious moaned which was strange considering how inappropriate this was. I tried to shake off our closeness but I just could not get rid of the feeling. However much I hated to admit this, I know I liked him that close to me.

What the heck is going on?

"Get up lazy butt I am taking you somewhere." I sat up straight and watched him pack something in a lunch box.

"Where?" I asked frowning.

He did not answer which compelled me to get up and see what he was upto. I went into kitchen where he was and peeped at what he was doing which he swiftly hid from me and closed the lid. He grabbed my hand and all my protests drowned as curiosity crawled its way back in. We walked out of his place and entered in the elevator but instead of going down, he punched the button that was indicating the upwards arrow.

"Care to explain what are we doing?"

He smiled.

"You will see."

We reached on the top most floor of the building and elevator doors opened to reveal the terrace. I slowly followed him out as he walked in front of me.

"Uh Charles, what?" I asked awkwardly chuckling when I saw him picking up a guitar that was kept against far wall in one corner. He beckoned me to come closer.

"I know you had a bad day so I just wanted to make you feel better." He said rubbing the back of his neck. He looked like he had never done this before and it was just as new for him as it was for me. I, on the other hand broke out into a goofy grin which I could not just keep in.

I have always been a sucker for efforts.

"Will you play it for me?" I asked smiling and my heart melted when he nodded slowly. I squealed and without realising what I was doing, I hugged him and left a peck on his cheek which jammed me in my spot. My eyes widened as I looked at him. "I am so sorry Charles! I did not mean to, I am sorry."

Way to make everything awkward, Stella.

He shook his head and pulled me back to him. His free hand went around my waist while the other held on to the guitar as he rested his cheek on my shoulder, his head cradling in my neck.

I smiled. Whatever this was, it felt nice and I decided to not read into it too much.

I hugged him back before we let go. I was just thankful that he did not take offence of my unexplainable action because I do not think I would have been able to justify them to him.

"Are you afraid of heights?" He asked all of a sudden. I shook my head. "Perfect."

He pulled me to the edge of the terrace and climbed on the erected platform that was built to fence the periphery of the open area. I yelped when he effortlessly jumped and sat on it his legs dangling on the other side. I sneaked a look to see how high we were and edged away telling Charles to come back down. This was not safe.

"It will be alright. Trust me." Of course he did not budge and insisted that I should rather join him and not be a buzzkill.

"I am not serving my life on a silver platter to heavens today." I laughed sarcastically. He sighed and I could already sense his annoyance creeping its way in so I cursed under my breath and climbed up as well but instead of dangling my legs, I tucked them under my weight as I sat crossed legs facing him so that would give me an excuse to not look down.

He patted my head like I was some pet who was in the middle of its training session and earned a good point from its master. I swatted his hand away.

He passed me the box he had brought with himself and I opened it inhaling mouthwatering aroma of home made hot garlic pasta.

"Did you know this is my favourite?" I asked smiling widely, so much so that my cheeks hurt. All that happened earlier today finally went into the back of my mind which let me truly appreciate the moment in present.

"Mae told me." He said.

I may not be great when it comes to feelings but I do know when to recognise and value someone's efforts and what Charles did was really admirable even though he had done enough already after saving my dignity today. I know I should not disregard the event so easily after all it was a matter of my safety but I have always learned to focus on the good and not evil. Its the ultimate mantra to be happy while still being grateful for the life that is given to you for all we know there are thousands of people out there who would kill to have your spot even if that meant being able to breath for just one more day.

Taking efforts, in my opinion, is a subtle charm that allows you to access anyone humbly.

I put a spoonful of his cooking skills in my mouth and moaned as the smooth texture of sauce melted on my tongue.

"I am having dinner at your place from this day forth." I said in a declaratory tone making him chuckle as he busied himself in strumming the chords of guitar and I enjoyed the soft music. It was warm breezy night and I had just the perfect combination to enjoy it, food and music.

It was an unusually blissful juncture where my conscious and sub-conscious both nodded contentedly.

"How long have you been playing it?" I asked noticing how comfortably his fingers moved from one fret to another, making it look effortless.

His face was bright like this was the only thing he was ever eager to talk about.

"Since I was six." He said, proud to let the fact be known and looked down affectionately at his instrument. I have never seen him like this, looking almost passionate.

"That long huh?" I awed making him smirk. He closed his eyes and started strumming a rhythm which sounded familiar. I recognised it after a minute but what happened next was not something I had expected. Ever.

"I don't wanna see you smile

I want you in the mornin'

Before you go performin'

Tell me something I don't know

And lead me to the place where no one ever goes

And Let me go under your skin

Let me find the demon that drives those heavenly limbs"

His voice was so deep and throaty, there was an altogether different musical realm in it.

He looked up and smiled at my wide gaze which was full with amazement at seeing him sing like that.

"You know you're beautiful

But that ain't half the gold treasure in your soul that you got

'Cause I want it all

With your fingers in my mouth, I fail to see your faults

So please don't let me fall

So please don't let me fall"

I was awe struck.

"And I think we'd survive in the wild

And we'd make plants and roots and dream about electric fans

Baby, could you kill a man?

Could you look in his eyes and feel the fire drain out of his hands?

Baby, do think about the past?

Do you wonder if every stupid little thing has led us to this?

You know you're beautiful

But that ain't half the gold treasure in your soul that you got

'Cause I want it all

With your fingers in my mouth, I fail to see your faults

So please don't let me fall

So please don't let me fall"

He ended the song softly and I pinched him, not able to differentiate if it was a dream or he really just sang, that too for me.

"Ow what the hell?" He yelped rubbing the area on his arm.

"Wow that was beautiful Charles." I let his voice sink in me as I recalled it again and again. I do not think I will ever forget this in my life.

"Are you happy?" He asked placing his guitar away safely. He shifted a little towards me

"I am the happiest." I said smiling. "Why didn't you ever pursue your career in music? Do you know how beautiful and sexy your voice is?"

"Sexy eh?" He asked snickering and I served him with my blank look which sobered him to be serious enough to answer. "Well to answer your question, yes I know my voice is beautiful and sexy per your description and I did pursue a career in it."

He smiled as if remembering something good.

"I was in Boston, two years back, studying music at Berklee College of Music. It was my dream come true. I was this crazy lad out to be drowned in music." My eye brows shot up at this new found information. Thats, one prestigious school and seeing Charles now, one would have never guessed that he is the kind of guy who is into music. He has those professional looks of a businessman, who is ruthless in his work. He is a perfect story who is mostly judged by its cover first. "I had to drop out though. Family issues."

He said shrugging like it was not that big of a deal but I can clearly sense the longing in his voice. It broke my heart a little when I realised he had to leave what he loved for something he did not even want in first place, whatever that is, I do not know yet just knowing that he had to leave was enough to bring sadness along.

I put my hand on his and laced my fingers through his warm ones.

"Thank you." To think he brought me up here when he knew it would remind him of what he has left and still did this for me, meant so much to me.

He brought up our hands, which were tangled, to his lips and kissed the back of my hand making me blush.

"You are such a softie Charlie." I chuckled realising how sweet he has been to me all evening.

He glared at me but I could see his eyes that were alight with merriment.

"Only for you princess. Only for you."

Oddly that was very satisfying to hear and in return I left a small kiss in gratitude on his cheek.

And this time it was not awkward at all.

•••


Hey guys!!

What did you think about Charles's musical background? I know its just a small piece of information but still I think it was necessary.

Fun fact : so I know this was one really cheesy chapter but I think this was actually needed to show that Charles & Stella are not all about pushing'n pulling each other but they indeed like spending time together. Also Charles is so gentle with her in this.

Vote & Comment.

Lia xo

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