Part XIV: Saturday Dinner
Friday passed by us quickly and uneventfully, leaving us to enjoy our first weekend at Ravenhold. I was just lazily petting Nibbles in the living room waiting for lunch to be ready when my phone beeped. I checked it and saw that it was my dad.
“ ‘Ello.” I answered.
“Hey Champ. How’s your day going so far?”
“Not much really. What’s up on your end?”
“Just work. I just wanted to know if you and Caroline were still coming for dinner tonight.”
“I think so. Let me confirm with her and I’ll shoot you a text in a few?”
“Alright, see you later. Hopefully.”
We hung up and I got up, putting Nibbles down and letting him explore around the house. I went to the kitchen part where Caroline and Allen were busy finishing homemade pizza for lunch. Allen had taken over my role as kitchen lackey, but I didn’t mind that much since I sucked at it… I went up to Caroline who was covered up to her elbows in flour and sat on the other side of the counter.
“Hey, my dad wanted to confirm if you are still up for dinner at my place tonight?” I asked.
“Of course. What time?”
“Seven, he likes to have dinner late.”
“Alright, that’s good for me.” She said with a smile. “Leaves us plenty of time.”
“Yeah.” I mumbled with a nod. “So… I was wondering if you’d like to go out with me.” It took me a second to realize what I’d said. “To the mall.” I added. “I mean as an early birthday present kind of thing, how about a shopping trip on me?”
She let out a chuckle. “That sounds great.”
I left her to finish lunch which we ate all together soon after. We hung out with the others for a while before deciding to head out to town, getting on one of the provided bus rather than call a cab or my dad.
Caroline and I did the tour of the small outdoor mall that was the island’s biggest shopping venue. Although I hadn’t given her a limit and she knew I was loaded, she shopped carefully, only taking a few items at a time.
“Isn’t it a bit cold to be getting a new swim suit?” I asked as we were in one of the clothing store.
“Oh it’s not for me, it’s for Ahti.” She said examining a polka dotted bikini bottom. “You think Ahti would like a bikini or trunks?”
“Not a fan of Itharii streaking?”
“Is it weird that it makes me feel weirdly self conscious about my body to see them naked? Like I feel that I don’t get the same freedom and carefreeness…”
I shrugged. “I don’t know. As for your question, why not both?”
She picked both a bikini and swim trunks before heading for the changing room to try the clothes she’d picked earlier.
“What do you think?” She asked, coming out of the booth.
She’d changed into a short white summer dress with lace that went up to her neck. It had several layers but they were thin enough to have some transparency. It was short enough that I could see the tip of the shorts she’d worn underneath. The dress fit just perfectly, highlighting her shapes while leaving the strong tanned muscles or her arms and legs open.
“It’s beautiful.” I said, trying not to blush. “Couldn’t be more perfect.”
“Thank you.” She said with a smile while taking my hand which made my skin burn. “I think I’m going to wear that one tonight.”
I nodded and we went to pay for everything. In the end, we walked out of the shops with two small bags for her. Since we had plenty of time left, she decided we just had to watch a movie and I didn’t protest in the slightest so she dragged me to the theater to watch the newest animated one, which wasn’t really my thing but so long as she enjoyed it, I would’ve done anything. When six o’clock finally came upon us, we caught a taxi back to my house.
“Holy crap.” Caroline muttered seeing the place. “That’s your place?”
Our house had been the first Raven’s, although it wasn’t the luxurious manor his family had built — which was now a hotel — it was a big modern construction of glass and steel and the grounds around it were massive, even holding a skatepark and parkour area that Ian had had built for me as birthday gifts.
“Yep. Welcome to my home.”
I opened the door and Ian came to greet us.
“Good evening Ian.” Caroline said. “Thank you for inviting me.”
“Ah yes! You’ve finally got my name down correctly.” He said with an amused grin. “And you’re very welcome. I’m just glad Charlie’s got friends and is seeing people again.” There was just a hint of reproach in his tone…
Caroline gave me a questioning look, but I didn’t volunteer an explanation. The last thing I wanted her to know was just how crappy a friend I was…But after what had happened in May, I had just shut down. I hadn’t seen Marian or Sebastian all summer… We probably weren’t friends anymore.
“Why don’t we go put your bags in my room?” I offered, hoping to stir the conversation away.
“Sure. Lead the way?”
I nodded and she followed me upstairs to my bedroom. It wasn’t much to look at; a king size bed, the usual bedroom furniture, a tv on the wall with all the consoles I hadn’t played in months and a buttload of posters to cover the wall.
“Nice place.” Caroline said, looking around. She put down her bags on the bed. “Kind of like mine, just different with posters and a much bigger bed.” She sat down on it and bounced up a little before lying down on her back. “Damn that’s soft, I could totally go for a nap now. Any chance we can sneak it off to our dorm room?”
“Sure, but we’d have to ditch one of the bed.”
“That’ll work; You can sleep on the floor.”
“Fine, you can get part of the bed. But it’s totally mine now, see I’m marking my territory. Mine, all mine.” She said rubbing her face on my pillow.
“Yes, your highness.”
“Caroline?” I heard my dad call from outside.
She hopped off the bed and out the door, with me on her heel. When we arrived downstairs my dad was waiting for us with a gift wrapped box in hand.
“Oh my god!” Caroline said surprised. “You got me a gift?”
“You could say that.” Dad said, giving her the box.
Caroline proceeded to rip the wrapping to shred at record speed. When she finally opened the box, her eyes went wide seeing the piece of fabric that was inside.
“You’re kidding me.” She muttered
“We’ve received them two days ago for preliminary approval. I thought giving you a sneak peak would make for a nice gift.”
She took out the item and unfolded it, revealing a professionally made superhero costume; light blue fabric with a white trim that evoked a wave. Along with it was a large pair of goggles.
“The headgear was built specifically to help you with your deafness. Why don’t you try it on?”
She did and Ian showed her how to activate it. Although I couldn’t see what it did, I could see her jubilant expression.
“Best. Gift. Ever!” She practically screamed before hugging my dad. “Thank you so much.”
“You can thank Ravenhold, I’m just the delivery boy.”
“Well, thank you for letting me try it regardless.”
“Why don’t you put it on? Heck, Charlie why don’t you join her? Show us the unbeatable duo of Housatonic and the Magpie.”
“Yes!” Caroline said with a grin. She snapped her finger at me. “Girl, get in costume.”
I hopped downstairs into the superhero armory part of the house and found my costume in its usual place. Thankfully it was pretty easy to put on; being a one piece suit with a zipper while the overblown bird-themed domino-like mask was self-adhesive to my skin, it was removing it that was harder, requiring a spray to temporarily neutralize the adhesive.
In full costume, I went back upstairs where Dad was waiting for us. Caroline came out of the bathroom just a moment later, having put her own costume on. Although the costumes were very fitted, they weren’t so in a sexy way, the armor and padding layers hidden within de-emphasized breasts and the like.
“Darn, look at you!” Caroline said, jogging up to me and putting her hands on my shoulders. “A true mini raven.” I almost lost my footing under the weight of her giant radiant smile.
“Up for a picture?” My dad said, saving us.
Caroline went to my side before putting an arm around me and dragging me closer. My whole body caught fire at the gesture but thankfully my mask hid my expression. Ian just grinned at us as he snapped a few shots of us.
“Alright, you two might want to get changed back before the caterer arrives.”
“Right.” Caroline said before hopping back to the bathroom.
I went upstairs and changed into new clothes altogether, putting on a button shirt and slacks rather than jeans and flannel. When I came back down, there was a knock at the door. So I opened it. But rather than the caterer, Simon Sinclair — Jason’s bio dad — stood there, a travel bag on his shoulder.
“Oh hey Si—” I didn’t get to finish my sentence that I was interrupted by Jason screaming.
“PAPA!” He yelled running to the door, past me and jumping in his second dad’s arms. “I’m missed you so much.”
“I missed you too munchkin.” Simon answered, kissing him. “I just hope I’m not intruding.”
“Oh course not.” Ian said coming up behind me. “You know you’re always welcome here.”
“Daddy, can Papa stay the night?”
“I was planning on staying the whole weekend.”
That declaration made Jason let out a scream of pure joy. As annoying as the little runt could be, he had his cuter side when his dads were involved. When I was involved, there was nothing but war and conflict though.
“Did I miss something?” Caroline asked, coming down after having changed back to that gorgeous dress.
“Jason’s other dad decided to pay us a visit.”
I introduced them all to one another, with Simon even apologizing for intruding on Caroline’s not-quite birthday but she didn’t mind. We all sort of mingled for a few minutes until the caterers arrived with the food my dad had ordered from the Harborside Hotel’s side business. Rather than the common room, Dinner was served in the reception hall.
During dinner, the music played over the radio as we ate and chatted, Simon telling us about his life back at MIT where he was studying. Although he was a mutant, he wasn’t interested in the superhero business like his parents had been, preferring to change the world with technology.
“Papa!” Jason said interrupting him. “I like this song, I want to dance.”
“Your desire are order, little guy.” His dad said with a grin. Jason had two passions in life; dance and bats. Thankfully he hadn’t found a way to combine both.
“Is Jason always this adorable?” Caroline asked.
“Only around his dads.”
“But you know, he’s right. This is a good song.”
“Are you asking me to dance?”
“Is dancing not part of your super ninja-hero repertoire?”
“Need I remind you I actually took classes, and not just ballet?”
“I tried to scrub the ballerina Charlie image from my mind, it was too disturbing.”
“And now I’m morally obligated to change your mind on that front. You’ll see I’m as graceful as they come.”
As we got up, I saw my dad grin. We skipped away from the table and I took her hands, guiding them to the correct placement as I took the ‘Male’ position. Although she didn’t know the routine, it was a simple one and I was leading.
We just danced together, bodies close together, our breaths mingling and losing ourselves to the movement, the routine done away with and instead the flow being determined by some unspoken communication between the two of us.
“What did I say?” I boasted as I spun her around.
“You’re putting me and my own skills to shame.” She answered with a grin. “I guess you really are multi talented.”
I pulled her close and just like that the dance suddenly stopped. We didn’t speak not for a moment, just caught up in that moment. As her eyes gazed into mine, my heart beat like crazy and my whole burned. All I could think about where her soft glossy lips.
I had to tell her… I couldn’t just ignore it anymore…
“That was really nice.” She said with a smile, cutting the moment short and I let her go, feeling like the occasion had passed.
“It was.” I mtutered.
“I’ll be right back.”
She skipped away and I felt a noose form in my stomach. Had I done something wrong, had she seen through me? She left the reception area and I was left alone to ponder what had just happened. Rather than go back to the table I went to the balcony, the evening breeze cooling down my skin.
I stayed there for a few minutes until I heard footsteps coming from behind me. I turned around and saw Caroline coming out to join me, stepping to the edge of the balcony and gazing out to the sea beyond.
“It’s nice out here.” She said.
There was a moment of silence and I chewed my lip.
“Carol-” “Char-” We both began at the same time. We stopped and we couldn’t help but laugh at the coincidence.
“You go first.” I said.
“I just wanted to thank you. Meeting you and becoming your friend was by far the best thing that’s ever happened to me.” She said before wrapping her arms around me and hugging me, which sent sparks through my whole being. When she let go, her right hand found its way to my left and she took hold of it. “So, what was it that you wanted to say?”
I took a deep breath and squeezed her hand.
“I like you.” I blurped out, a little more panicky than I’d wanted. “I mean not as just a friend… I’ve liked you for–”
I didn’t get to finish my rambling thought as She took a step forward and pressed her lips against mine. I didn’t resist as she dropped a single kiss with her soft strawberry flavored lips. When she pulled back, her skin had taken a reddish tinge.
Even though the contact had been brief, it had taken our breath away and we both took a moment to gather our thoughts.
“I like you too… I think.” She sighed and looked away. “I’ve never felt this way before, these feelings are all so new and confusing… But whenever I’m with you I feel all warm and fluttery and it makes me so darned happy.”
“Sounds like you like me alright.” I said with had her smile.
“I can’t believe I just kissed someone for the first time.” She said to herself out loud.
“It was my first too, y’know.” I said, rubbing the back of my head. “So… What does this mean for us?”
“I’ll be honest, this whole thing terrifies me. I’ve never thought about anyone the way I think about you, I was secure in my identity as aro-ace, but not so much anymore… But what is life worth living for if I run away from the things that scare me?”
“So does that mean you want to be my girlfriend?”
She nodded, turning even redder which was quite an impressive feat. “You know, that word; girlfriend. It sounds amazing when you say it.”
“So, do you want to be my super cute girlfriend.”
“Yes, I want to be your girlfriend…” She took my hands in hers and looked me in the eyes. “So… Do you want to try kissing again? ‘Cause I really want to.”
“What do you think?”
She stepped forward and bridge the gap between us, our lips meeting for the second time for a kiss; only slower, longer and more adventurous than the first.