Adventure of a Lifetime
Part XVIII: Dinner with the Colemans
Charlie called a cab for us, which headed away from town and into the woods until it reached a large gated fence. After Charlie gave the driver a keycard to open the door, he drove us through the gate and toward a large modern mansion; a huge open construction made of glass, steel and concrete. There was a two door garage, a skate park and a large garden. I couldn’t even see the perimeter walls from the house itself.
“Holy crap.” Caroline muttered seeing the place. “That’s your place?”
“Yep. Welcome to my home.”
We got out of the taxi and Charlie guided me inside. We came into a large open plan room, much like the House back at Ravenhold, but here things were more luxurious; rich woods, polished marble and plenty of glass. Charlie’s dad came toward us, wearing a loosely buttoned shirt and jeans.
“Good evening Ian.” Caroline said. “Thank you for inviting me.”
“Ah yes! You’ve finally got my name down correctly.” He said with a grin before he gave me a quick hug. “And you’re very welcome. I’m just glad Charlie’s got friends and is seeing people again.”
His words brought back my thoughts from earlier about Charlie’s friends… I looked at Charlie but she didn’t say anything. Instead she suggested we drop the bags up in her room and I followed her upstairs into a blue-painted room dominated by a massive king-sized bed. Alt-rock bands posters hung on the wall, and one of the corner was dominated by a large gaming rig.
“Nice place.” I put my bags on the bed and sat down on it, it was less like being on a mattress and more like sitting on a cloud. “Damn that’s soft, I could totally go for a nap now. Any chance we can sneak it off to our dorm room?” I asked lying back.
“Sure, but we’d have to ditch one of the bed.”
“That’ll work; You can sleep on the floor.”
“Hey!” She answered with feigned indignation.
“Fine, you can get part of the bed.” “But it’s totally mine now, see I’m marking my territory. Mine, all mine.” I mushed my face on one of the pillow as a show.
“Yes, your highness.” She conceded.
There was a yell from downstairs, which sounded like my name. Or Ian was just saying something that sounded like in ‘Ro-ine.’ I got off the bed and went downstairs, where I found Ian waiting for me with a gift box in his hand.
“Oh my god! You got me a gift?”
“You could say that.” He said with a smile.
He gave me the box and I ripped the wrapping to shreds. Inside of it was a folded outfit along with a pair of goggles. I ran my finger over the blue fabric, feeling the silky texture of it and the difference between it and the small white wave pattern over it. It was a hero’s costume. My superhero costume.
“You’re kidding me.”
“We’ve received them two days ago for preliminary approval. I thought giving you a sneak peak would make for a nice gift.” Ian explained.
I unfolded it and took it out of the box, getting a better look at it. It was a simple set of tights with a white wave pattern to it.
“The headgear was built specifically to help you with your deafness. Why don’t you try it on?”
I gave him the costume and picked the large silvery goggles on. As I finished putting it on, Ian showed me how to boot them up and a heads up display appeared on the lenses.
“Does it work?” Ian asked. As he spoke, text matching his words appeared on the HUD’s display with an ‘unknown’ tag.
“Best. Gift. Ever!” I couldn’t resist pouncing a hug on him.“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!” I turned toward Charlie who’d just stood by as I tried the goggles and snapped my finger at her. “Girl, get in costume.” I ordered her, which has Ian smirk.
Ian showed me the downstairs bathroom and I quickly changed out of my dress and into the costume. Although at first it was slack, the moment I finished zipping it in, the fabric magically adjusted itself until it fit just right. I’d heard of smart fabric being a thing, but it was the first time I’d ever seen it in action.
When I came out, Charlie was already in costume. A sleek black bodysuit along with a white belly. Her face was hidden behind a large mask with a bit of a beak-like protrusion on it. She also had a short cape on her back. Although costumes could look silly, there was something in the way she carried herself that negated that; She looked like a true bad ass.
“Darn, look at you!” I practically ran to her and put my hands on her shoulders, as if to check if she was real. “A true mini raven.” The joy of the moment twisted my mouth into the largest smile I’d ever put on.
“Up for a picture?” Ian said phone in hand, drawing our attention.
I went to Charlie’s side and wrapped an arm around her shoulder, dragging her closer. Ian grinned at my gesture before snapping a few pictures of us.
“Alright, you two might want to get changed back before the caterer arrives.” He said putting the phone away.
I went back into the bathroom before getting out of the costume — at least after a minute or two of checking myself out and taking some selfies. When I came out I found Charlie’s little brother, Jason, koala hugging a man I’d never met before.
“Did I miss something?” I asked Charlie.
“Jason’s other dad decided to pay us a visit.”
“You must be Caroline. I’ve heard a lot about you.” He said coming up to me. “ Nice bracelets.” He then added with a grin, pointing toward my trans and ace pride bracelets with his chin. “I’m Simon Sinclair, Jason’s papa.”
“It’s really nice to meet you.”
“I’d shake your hand, but I seem to have them full with a very clingy little guy.” He said, making Jason pout.
There was a buzz at the gate and Ian went to get the food while Charlie showed us the way to a room by the end of the hall. It was a large reception room where a table had been set there waiting for us while a sound system let out some relaxing ambiance music.
Ian came in along with the catering crew. We all sat down as they served the first of many courses; a trio of amuse bouche.
“How is it?” Ian asked as the second course; lobster bisque, was served.
“It’s fantastic, I wasn’t expecting nearly as much.”
“I hope I didn’t over do it.” He said with a smile. “I thought I’d get the best since it is kind of your early birthday dinner.”
“It’s just perfect. Thanks Ian.”
As we ate, I mostly listened to the conversation; about Ian’s work as the Raven, Simon’s progress on his engineering thesis and Jason’s loudly and passionately giving us an impromptu exposing on the lifecycle of New World leaf-nosed bats, however he was stopped when the music changed.
“Papa! I like this song, I want to dance.” He said getting up and jumping in place.
“Your desire are order, little guy.” Simon said.
“Is Jason always this adorable?” I whispered to Charlie. He’d seemed kind of grumpy in the car several nights before, but it was late then…
“Only around his dads.”
I watched them dance an adorable but clumsy slow together for a moment before speaking up.
“But you know, he’s right. This is a good song.” I said.
“Are you asking me to dance?” Charlie asked, raising a brow.
“Is dancing not part of your super ninja-hero repertoire?” I teased her.
“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.”
We got up and Charlie took the initiative, taking my hands and giding them to the right places.
“Just follow my lead.”
She lead me into a slow dance, bodies close together, I could feel her breath on my skin, her eyes focused on mine. I didn’t think, I just followed her lead, lost in the moment.
“What did I say?” She asked with a boastful grin as she spun me around.
“You’re putting me and my own skills to shame. I guess you really are multi talented.”
He pulled me closer, ending the movement and our bodies brushed together. There was a moment of silence as we breathlessly gazed into each other’s eyes. Sadly the moment was ruined by my aching bladder.
“That was really nice.”
“It was.” She muttered.
“Eh, I’ll be right back.”
I practically ran to the bathroom, leaving her behind. With my bladder relieved, I came back to the reception room even though they’d served the meat course Charlie wasn’t there. The door to the balcony was open and I saw her standing there, gazing out at the sea. I came closer, the chilly breeze caressing my naked legs, the sound of my chromed leg hitting the balcony must have alerted Charlie as she turned around to face me.
“It’s nice out here.”
There was a moment of silence as we both looked back at the waters
“Carol-” “Char-” We both began speaking at the same time before shutting up together. We couldn’t help but laugh.
“You go first.” She said.
I took a second to gather my thoughts before speaking. “I just wanted to thank you. Meeting you and becoming your friend was by far the best thing that’s ever happened to me.” I stepped forward and hugged her, feeling her breath on my neck. She had a certain stiffness to her body. When I let go of her, I still found her hand and held it. “So, what was it that you wanted to say?”
She took a deep breath, swallowed her saliva and looked away briefly before looking me straight in the eyes.
“I like you.” The words came both hesitant and rushed at the same time. The words set my chest ablaze, my heart beating like crazy. “I mean not as just a friend… I’ve liked you for—”
She didn’t finish her thoughts as I pressed my lips against her, I hadn’t thought, I’d just acted. When I pulled away, I couldn’t breathe and neither could she, my skin burned bright red. I couldn’t help but shyly look away, when I looked back, I saw that she was smiling, and so was I.
“I like you too… I think.” I mumbled, looking away again. “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.” She said, her timid smile growing into a grin.
“I can’t believe I just kissed someone for the first time.” I let out a nervous chuckle.
“It was my first too, y’know.” She said rubbing the back of her 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?”
There was something about the word girlfriend that sent a pleasurable shiver through my spine. I tried to answer but the emotions were too strong, all I could do was nod.
“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 her hands in mine, squeezing them tighter than ever, my eyes drawn to her lips, stained by my lip gloss. “So… Do you want to try kissing again? ‘Cause I really want to.”
“What do you think?”
We closed the gap between us, sharing our second kiss; more than just a peck this time. Losing ourselves in the sensation.
I didn’t know what this would bring, what it meant about who I was, but that was okay. We had all the time in the world to find answers, they’d come in time. For now, we could just enjoy the moment, enjoy this feeling.