Healing Charles

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6.

•••

~Stella

It took me sometime to reach home since Mae decided to ditch me so instead of taking a cab, I figured I would just walk home. I love the streets of Amsterdam. It is a city no one can stand without falling in love with, even me who has some serious commitment issues. Its all so picturesque.

I pushed my way around people who were also making their way to homes, back to their families who waited for them eagerly. I smiled when I crossed a flower shop and halted at the sight of beautiful flowers that were framing the shop's display. I went in and my gaze immediately found my favourite orchids and white roses.

I asked the keeper to make me a bouquet of my specific favourites and I paid for the same before leaving for home.

I can never resist any flower shops I cross. These flowers are totally worth buying them for my room.

I finally turned on to the block I live and neared the apartments. I climbed the steps and entered into the lobby, making way towards the elevator. I reached my floor and knocked waiting for Mae to open the door since I found it locked from inside.

She must have reached before me.

I heard the footsteps nearing the door and I looked up to see, wait, Valentino?

"What are you doing here?" I asked frowning, confusion swirling around my thoughts.

Why is he here? How did he even get in-oh, its Mae. That is why she did not pick me up from office. Where is that traitor anyway?

"Mae invited us over. I hope that is okay?" He informed as if I could do anything about it not that I had any problem but still, a little heads up would have been just fine.

"Us?" I asked raising an eyebrow at him.

"Yeah me and my friends." He stepped aside so I could enter in and immediately voices from drawing room reached into my ears. I gave him a small smile and walked in. Everyone was sitting around the couches, my gaming system plugged in and fully ready to be used without my knowledge. There were boxes of pizzas on the kitchen island and some beers littering around.

When did they decide it was a party? It is Monday for god's sake.

I turned around and Mae looked up at me from where she was talking to a guy who I am guessing was friends with Valentino. He looked in my way and gave a little wave which I politely returned.

"Hey girl!" Mae came towards me and I narrowed my eyes at her. "Yes I know I am in trouble but give me a chance to explain first?"

"Go on."

"I ran into Valentino this morning at the cafe across the street. He was with his friends and asked me if I would like to hang out with him slash them sometime, I could not refuse." She rambled on thinking I was mad but I was not. Its just she is fun to mess around with when she is nervous.

"And so you thought it would be cool to ditch me?" I asked faking a serious tone.

"No! I got off from the work early today but I have got your milkshake." She said with wide eyed look. God she was so innocent. I laughed not being able to contain anymore.

"Its okay Mae, I am not mad." I said and she sighed, relaxing visibly.

"Who are they, anyways?" I asked turning to the two guys who were busy with the twins.

"Right. Everyone, this is Stella." She introduced us and I smiled walking upto them.

"Caleb." He took my hand shaking it. He looked really young or maybe just had one of those boyish looks with him that stood him out. He had green eyes which were sparkling under the lights. His hair were slightly curly and were a darker shade of red. He was looking really smart.

"Stella." I returned his gesture and turned to the other guy.

"Irwin." He waved from the other couch. He looked really different yet a good kind of different. He had jet black hair set in a buzz cut which highlighted his dark eyes. He had foreign features and did not look like he was from here. I matched his wave.

Wow it was some crowd here.

Brooke came up to me and we moved to kitchen so that we are at a safe distance from everyone's shot of hearing.

"I am surprised you are not mad at Mae." Brooke said pretending to find something in the drawers.

"She is only trying to get to know people around here." I shrugged not really seeing the point in getting worked up about it.

"You do realise that she is trying to extend the group, don't you?" She said fidgeting with her fingers looking down.

It suddenly clicked to me what she was trying to say. I sighed. Brooke is very insecure when it comes to meeting new people and adjusting around them. It takes sometime for her to be equally comfortable with social situations like these as us.

"Brooke, its okay. The more, the merrier." I said squeezing her hand to comfort her. "Besides you are always going to be the important one around here."

She smiled and I gave her a side hug. A little push and she is good to go.

I heard the doorbell going off.

"I'll get that." I said and went to front door. Without checking first, I threw the door open and it was like I was hit by the same door backwards.

I looked up at him as he casually stood there looking awfully glorious in his ridiculously fine stature. This was the first time that I was seeing him from such a close distance, closer than what our windows would allow us. I felt like I was seeing him for the very first time. I noticed his eyes that were stuck on my assuringly surprised face. They were as usual alight with amusement and up this close they looked even more beautiful than they usually do. His long eye lashes casted shadows on his cheeks. I noticed his high cheek bones which gave him a mighty look and it should be a total crime for someone to look this perfect.

He smirked and I finally snapped out of whatever stance his initial glimpse had thrown me in.

"Oh honey, these flowers weren't necessary, of course I'll marry you." He said in his deep throaty voice which could not get any more sarcastic. His words reminded me that I was still holding flowers in my hand.

"Yes why not because I want to marry the rudest guy on the earth." I said matching his sarcasm. He smirked and took a step closer to me, bringing his face down to my level so that it was just an inch away from a sin, I do not think I was quite ready to commit yet.

His breathing was steady while on the other hand, I was a mess. Why? Suddenly everything in me was charged and I have no elfing idea, just why?

"That did not seem like a problem when you were checking me out a minute ago."

Heat crawled on my face and I rolled my eyes.

"What do you want?" I asked taking in his unusual presence here. Of course he still had the smugness splashed across his beautiful face but I chose to let it slide away, seeing my uncollected self right now, I do not think sarcasm would get me anywhere when he clearly saw the effect unraveling he had on me.

"Val is in there, isn't he?" He asked and I nodded. Of course how did I not remembered this before that he is Valentino's friend. Hanging out with Valentino automatically draws Charles into the picture.

Perfect.

"Can I come in?" He asked giving me an expecting look and I bit my lip to stop myself from commenting on his much mannered self.

"Please." I stepped aside for him to enter and let him in. We walked back into the drawing hall and everyone greeted him like he was an old friend here for reunion.

Am I missing something?

"Can you bring those pizzas from the kitchen, Charles?" Bella said without even looking at him. I looked at Charles who looked at her with a flat face but did not say anything.

What was that?

I looked at Brooke who only shrugged at me as if trying to say 'I told you so' without any words.

I went to my room and put the flowers in the vase on my desk. Taking off my over coat, I went into my en-suite which opens behind my closet. I washed my face and looked up in the mirror to scrub off all the dirt. A gasp escaped my mouth as I found Charles looking at me through mirror. I turned around to face him as he stood leaning into the doorframe, his hands folded across his chest.

"Do you by any chance know what private moment means?" I asked snatching the towel from hanger as I wiped my face clean.

"You have a very clean room." He commented turning around and going away into my room. Can you believe this guy?

"Seriously Charles what is wrong with you?" I asked pointing out his barging skills. Thank god we have that needle like distance between our windows or else he would have known no boundaries.

"Relax I wouldn't have come in if you were undressed." He said sitting on the bench I keep under my window.

"Thats very considering of you." I gave him one of my most fake smiles. "What did you want?"

"Everyone is calling you." He said after a pause.

"Alright. Lets go." I said getting up and he followed.

"Hey Stella what are you doing this weekend?" Mae asked as soon as I came into the drawing room.

"Nothing, I guess." I said frowning. "Why?"

"We all thought of helping Valentino here to shift in his new apartment. It will be fun." She said and everyone nodded along. I did not have much of choice as everyone looked at me. "Charles would be there too."

I gave her a flat look.

"Sure." I smiled at Valentino who gave me two thumbs up.

"I didn't know the princess was into the manoeuvre work." Charles whispered in my ears and I laughed.

"Princess is full of surprises."

He gave me a cheeky grin and my heart warmed. I liked him when he was not being his usual rude self.

We all settled down and decided to play a boys versus girls round on my playstation 4 which was a total babe.

"Wow I can not believe you girls have PS4. Charles here wouldn't even play the classic Mario." Irwin said as he concentrated on taking Bella out in the race. She cursed as he bumped his car into hers.

"Sure brother go ahead throw shade on me in front of girls who we just met, why don't you?" Everyone laughed as Charles set back not really interested in the race in fact he just leisurely drove behind us.

"You don't know how to play, do you?" I asked in a hushed voice looking up at him where he was sitting on the couch. He looked down at me and glared. I laughed knowing full well I was right. "You are a video game virgin."

"You got a death wish, Stella?" He said from behind me. I chuckled at his futile attempts at getting me to quiet down.

"Try and take me out in this game first then we will see about my death." I chuckled and focused on my game again.

"Damn Stella, you are good." Caleb said, clearly frustrated as he chased me. I was currently on the first spot and the finish line was just a few seconds away when Charles's hand came down to where I was sitting on the floor against the couch.

I frowned looking at screen.

"What are you doing?" I asked distracted and thats when the gaming console flew out of my hand. I laughed as he tickled my waist.

"Stop it Charles!!" I cried in between my laughter that could put a hyena to shame. I saw Caleb crossing the line as my car stopped right before it. I got up as the guys laughed and whooped. "That was not fair!"

"Who said it will be fair?" Irwin said smirking.

"Yes Stella who said it will always be fair?" Charles said from behind me, his smirk very much intact on his face as he looked at me with gleaming eyes.

I narrowed my eyes at him.

I was not sure if he was referring to the game anymore.

“Elfing cheaters!” I huffed and everyone guffawed at the choice of my words.

“You are something.” Charles said in a whisper of voice so that only I would hear that when I flopped beside him on the couch.

“Huh?”

A fleeting smirk played on his lip and when I looked up to meet his eyes, he just winked looking away, his words hanging between us with reverberating effect.

What do you want Charles?

•••


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