Her sweet lips were more made to kiss
Than to cry from pain
Like roses after an evening rain
From "La Bella" by Judith
Lyrics by Christopher David
Sadness and Comfort
Once again, I was waiting in the garden for Charlotte. But as much as I loved this small corner of ours, I had also grown to hate it what had become a sanctuary for us had also become our prison as well. Although she had never voiced her feelings aloud to me, I began to sense a restlessness in Charlotte, a yearning for something more something other than this green haven in her backyard. How I longed to take her away from this place, to show her something new and captivating to see the light in her eyes and the smile upon her lips at each new discovery. But I know that can never be, for we could never stroll the streets as other courting couples do: arm-in-arm, whispering and smiling at things only the two of us understand. If only I had something more to offer her something more than stolen moments and clandestine meetings.
When I had arrived earlier, there were several carriages lined up in the street in front of the Elbourne house. Since her brother's return, it seemed that the family entertained quite frequently. More than once, their gatherings went deep into the night and Charlotte was unable to meet me. At first I had been quite upset to be left out in the cold, so to speak; but after much thought, I knew that I couldn't condemn Charlotte for wanting to visit with her friends for she had a life outside of the time that she spent with me. So I was left to wait once again, imaging that I was there with her; her arm in my mine while we mingled and chatted and yes, perhaps even danced. We would be the envy of every one in the room our eyes and smiles only for each other, the light of our love so bright that none could ever doubt our feelings for one another. How I wish to the depths of my immortal soul that it could be so
I was startled from my thoughts by the sound of voices and moving silently, I crouched to where I could see the front door of the Elbourne house. Several people, men I saw, were descending the front steps towards the waiting carriages. As I watched the group, I could sense that something was wrong. In the past, most of the leaving guests were loud and animatedly wished each other a good evening and other endearments. These men however whispered and there was a sense of sadness and worry hovering over them. I began to feel uneasy and moving silently once again, I made my way to the sitting room window.
The window was closed and locked, but there were lights burning within. Concentrating, I tried listening for voices but was unable to hear anyone. I was contemplating checking other rooms in the house, when Charlotte and an older man whom I did not recognize entered the room. I could see the two speaking, but their voices were so low that I could not make out the words. The man took Charlotte's elbow and guided her to the sofa. My uneasiness began to grow even more as I saw Charlotte's pale, drawn face. She looked to be on the verge of exhaustion; her beautiful amber eyes were marred underneath by dark smudges and I could see that she was trembling as she slowly clasped her hands in her lap.
The man sat down next to her and spoke, patting her on the arm as he did so. Charlotte did not respond, but merely looked down at her hands. After several moments, she raised her head a little and spoke. Although I could not hear her words, I could sense her pain and knew that she was on the verge of tears. The man looked at her sadly for a few minutes before he spoke again. From the expression in his eyes, I knew that whatever he was saying was the cause of Charlotte's pain. I could feel Charlotte's sadness and hurt; and it was all I could do to restrain myself from bursting through the window and gathering her up in my arms.
Charlotte unfolded her hands and dabbed at her face with a handkerchief that had been crushed in her fist. The man patted her hand and then rose from his seat. He spoke once more and Charlotte nodded her head slightly in response. The man regarded her silently for a few more moments and then apparently bid her goodnight and left the room.
With clenched fists, I watched Charlotte as she sat on the sofa, unmoving and seemingly unaware. Abruptly, she pulled her legs underneath herself and leaning on the arm of the sofa, she buried her face in her arms. I could see the shaking of her shoulders and I knew that she crying. What had happened to cause my love such sadness and pain?
With all my attention focused on Charlotte, I barely heard the front door open and then several moments later, the last of the waiting carriages pulled away from the Elbourne house. As the carriage rounded the corner out of sight, I banged on the window and shouted out Charlotte's name. It seemed like an eternity before my beloved raised her head and turned around towards the window.
I felt something within me break as I looked at her haunted, tear-streaked face. With renewed vigor, I continued my assault on the window and heard one of panes crack. Before I could strike another blow however, Charlotte slowly rose from the sofa. With shaky steps, she made her way to the window.
"M--M-Meier?" As if finally recognizing me, she quickened her steps and groped at the lock with trembling hands. As the cursed lock finally yielded, Charlotte stepped back from the window as I pushed the panes apart and virtually leapt into the room.
I encircled Charlotte in my arms and pulled her to my chest. Her voice was a hoarse whisper, "Oh, M-M-Meier
Charlotte cried long and hard; her tears soaking the front of my jacket. As exhaustion finally overtook her, she slumped against me. Taking her up in my arms, I carried her to the sofa and gently laid her down. Quickly undoing my cloak, I draped it over her and then hurried over and closed the gaping windows. Returning to Charlotte's side, I knelt down on the carpet and took her small pale hand in mine. My heart broke as I looked at the sadness that haunted her beautiful face even as she slept. Absently, I rubbed my thumb across the back of her hand wishing that there was something more that I could do for her. Never had I felt so useless not yet knowing what had happened to cause Charlotte such sadness, I could only try to comfort her as best I could until she awakened.
It was perhaps an hour or so before Charlotte stirred and slowly opened her eyes. As her eyes alighted on my kneeling form, I felt her hand tremble in mine and sensed a sudden wave of fear that radiated out towards me. I felt a deep disappointment as I looked at her wide, frightened eyes; even after all our time together when I believed that she had begun to trust and accept me it saddened me that she was still afraid. But my concern for her overrode my own feelings and I pushed away my disappointment and focused my attention on Charlotte as she softly spoke.
"Meier where . . .?"
"It's alright Charlotte; you're home in your sitting room. Are you alright?"
She tried to sit up and letting go of her hand, I put my arm under her and helped her. Settling a pillow behind her, I leaned back. "Charlotte, what is it? What has happened?"
She looked at me and I could see the tears as they welled in her eyes once again. She tried several times to speak, but finally gave up; the tears sliding down her pale face. Moving to sit next to her on the edge of the sofa, I took her hand once again and I tried once more. "Please Charlotte
Charlotte pulled her hand away and threw herself against me, her arms reaching around my waist as I instinctively returned her embrace. Her voice was muffled against my chest as she haltingly answered, "M-My father
I tightened my arms around her and absently kissed her hair. "My love
Slowly, Charlotte's sobs lessened and she pulled away from me. Reluctantly releasing her from my embrace, I reached up my hand and gently brushed away her drying tears with my thumb. Before I could drop my hand however, she captured it within hers. Charlotte looked up into my eyes and I had the strangest feeling that she had felt what I had a few moments ago.
With my other hand, I gently brushed my fingers down her cheek. "Are you alright, my love?" She gave the barest of nods. "Can you tell me what happened? What did the doctor say? I assume that he was the man that left you earlier?"
Charlotte nodded her head again, "Yes
Pulling Charlotte into my arms, I stroked her back with my hand as she rested her head against my chest. We sat quietly, each of us lost in our own thoughts. It was some time before Charlotte calmed and I relaxed my hold. Looking intently at her face, I was struck by how pale and tired she looked. "When was the last time that you had any sleep or something to eat?"
Charlotte dropped her eyes, "I-I-I don't know
With the speed that only a vampire could possess, I was immediately at her side my arms around her before she slid to the floor. "Charlotte!"
Charlotte started to cry once again. "Please I have to go to him I can't leave him alone . . ."
Gathering her up in my arms, I took her back to the sofa. As I settled her back against the pillows, a sudden thought occurred to me, "Where is your brother? He should be here to help you."
Charlotte shook her head, "He's not here he's gone away again. He he doesn't even know
"Charlotte love, you can't go on like this. You need to get some proper rest some food; you won't do your father any good if you exhaust yourself into sickness. Why don't you lie down and rest?" Picking up my cloak from the floor, I draped it across her.
"No Meier, not here; I need to be near my father in case he needs me."
"Do you want me to help you upstairs before I go?"
She gripped my arm. "Please
I knew that Charlotte was distraught, but I wasn't going to take advantage of her fragile emotional state just to satisfy my own desires. "Charlotte
Charlotte reached for my hand and clasped it tightly. "I just need to have someone here, Meier. That's all I'm asking
I looked at her silently for several minutes as my emotions swirled within. Could I do this? Was I strong enough to resist the temptation? I could sense Charlotte's fear and desperation as her eyes begged me to say yes. I let out a weary sigh, "I cannot stay all night Charlotte. I must be gone from here before the sun rises . . ."
"Just sit with you no more?" Charlotte nodded her head. Giving her another long gaze, I sighed once again. Rising from my place, I let go of her hand and drew my cloak away from her. "No, Meier
Reaching down, I took her up in my arms. "Shhhhh