Forever Yours

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Chapter 5

Rilah headed for the shower the minute she arrived home. She took off her uniform and washed it, whilst her water was boiling. The Daniels would not notice if she used the stove to boil water for bathing but they would definitely notice if she switched on the geyser when the electricity bill arrived.
She washed her body and then set to wash her hair. She put all her effort in getting her locks clean; her hair was one of the features which she saw in both herself and her mom. She used her homemade shampoo, composed of Apple juice and camellias. She grew the camellias in a secret grove in the forest and they were her favorite flowers. Despite Florence's claims that her hair smelled like a swamp, Rilah had often caught her buying different kinds of Apple-scented hair products. However, Rilah was certain, she would never figure out the secret ingredient. Florence was not the type to give a glance to any plant, despite practically living in a forest.
After cleaning and washing the morning dishes, Rilah did all her homework and studied. It was 2pm by the time she finished and it would be three hours before Tyron came home. Rilah was bored and she didn't want to risk being caught in the living room, watching TV.
She locked up the house and headed into the forest, en route to the cliff. The cliff, which had been dupped - aptly so - Woods Cliff, marked the end of Rustic Woods. The woods levelled out into fresh grassland and led off to Woods Cliff. Just as Rilah was about to step out into the clearing, she saw a hooded figure standing in the middle of the clearing, watching an air balloon drift lazily across the blue sky. The figure removed the sweater and threw it to the ground, revealing a red T-shirt and a woolen hat on his head. Rilah laughed to herself. Always with a hat. Wonder when that will change. Charlie lay on the grass and folded his arms behind his head. He gazed at the sky before closing his eyes, content with life.
"You can come out now Lulu. The view is much better here", his deep baritone voice reached her ears. Rilah groaned; she was enjoying her distanced staring.
She walked slowly towards him. "How did you know it was me?"
Charlie shrugged lazily without looking at her. "I could feel you", he said without much meaning but for Rilah, her heart skipped a beat. She looked at Charlie, her eyes admiring what they were seeing. Charlie was a specimen of male epitome. He was muscular, not too little, not too much. His build was a little on the tall side, intimidating at times but also lust inducing. Rilah often felt safe with him, and when she slept next to him she could feel his abs on her chest and fell asleep to the beat of his heart.
He was yet to grow into his structure fully but right now, it was promising. Rilah had had a crush on Charlie since he first moved in next door when she was ten years old. The Cunnings all knew about her little crush but they didn't know it still existed.
Unlike the Cunnings, Rilah had realised that her crush had turned into love. She loved every little thing about Charlie, from his annoying tendency of chewing on his nails when stressed to his woolen hat fashion statement.
They lay next to each, just watching the clouds drift. Nothing was ever awkward between them, they enjoyed each other's silence just as much as they enjoyed each other's company.
"How was school?", he asked. "Or maybe you missed me too much to enjoy it? Yeah, that's probably why you came early."
He laughed when Rilah landed a punch on his forearm. "Ouch", he grimaced. "That hurt!" He rubbed his arm, pretending to be hurt.
Rilah looked up, ignoring him. "You deserved it. See that air balloon? One day I'm going to ride one. I will be watching the view while eating a bunny chow or hot wings."
Charlie looked at her, seeing the passion in her set face. He felt like he wanted to fulfill her dreams and he wanted to fulfill them now. "I'll take you there. Soon enough, I'll take you on a hot air balloon ride" he said with all seriousness.
Rilah laughed lightly. "I'll believe that when I see it happen."
"It will. I'm serious". Rilah could hear the sincerity in Charlie's voice and she could not help but smile. She turned her head and looked at him, smiling. "You are?" she asked him.
Charlie turned to her, also smiling, "Yeah, I. . ." He stopped talking as he saw Rilah's scratched face and her slightly blue eye. "What happened?"
Confused, Rilah asked what he was talking about. She had totally forgotten about the state of her face.
"You have a blue eye Rilah. Who did that to you?" Rilah could hear the anger in his voice as he sat up and although she would have loved having a knight in shining armour to rescue her, she knew that Charlie would only make things worse for her.
"No one. It's kind of a long and embarrassing story, which I'm not in the mood to tell."
Charlie's face became expressionless. He was not in the mood to play Rilah's games. She had been bullied while he was still in school with her but it had been subtle. He had managed to protect her to an extent, threatening to ruin anyone who touched her. Now it seemed like since he'd finished school the abuse became more physical than verbal. He was not going to allow that to happen during his watch.
"What happened?" he asked in a low voice that made Rilah slightly shiver. She sat up and crossed her legs.
"Fine. I had quite a headache at school and I was on my way to the library when I bumped into one of the fire extinguishers." She shrugged to show her embarrassment.
"Try again."
Rilah was getting frustrated. She knew that Charlie was not going to let it go but she also didn't want to totally jeopardize her last year in high school.
"I don't have to answer to you Charlie. You don't get to ask me a question and then claim that I'm lying when I answer you."
Charlie sighed. When Rilah had her mind made up, she wasn't easy to convince otherwise. It was one of the things he admired most about her but also one of the things that frustrated him most. He was not going to let it go that easily; he would find out who hurt Rilah and make them pay soon enough.
"Okay. Get up. You need to have that cleaned and plastered."
"I'll be fine. It's just a scratch."
Charlie got up and held out his hand, "Not up for negotiation. Get up."
Realising that she had no choice in the matter, she accepted his hand and let him pull her up. "You are a control freak", she muttered. She picked up his sweater and put it on.
"Always have been Lulu, and I know you love it." He walked ahead of her, leading the way to his house.
"Not to mention arrogant", she quipped, trying to keep up with his long stride.
"Yeah, that too. Although I prefer to call it 'confidence'. Come, get on." He crouched down, indicating for her to climb on his back. Rilah gladly obliged, holding onto his strong shoulders.
She smiled, content in his sweater and on his back. "Now this I love", she informed Charlie, whispering into his ear.
"I know."

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