You’re in NYC for a weekend, visiting your older sister. It’s Saturday morning and you want nothing more than to read a good book and walk through Central Park all day. With this in mind, you head to Starbucks for your signature mocha caramel frap. After ordering, you turn and smash right into an oncoming stranger, dumping your icy drink all over your new Urban Outfitters mustard coloured cardigan.
"I’m so sorry!" he says hurriedly.
"It’s okay," you reply, not looking at him as you stare forlorn at your ruined cardigan.
"Really, let me make it up to you."
You look up. Your heart plummets to your stomach. How did you not recognize the voice? Charlie McDonnell is standing there, beaming at you with his bright blue eyes.
"I’ll get the next one," he says, and swiftly orders you another beverage. He hands it to you, his eyes alight with promise.
"Thanks," you say, shifting your drenched cardigan uncomfortably.
"Oh, let me get that," he says, whipping off his striped hoodie and handing it to you.
You take it, smiling. He smiles back, before glancing at the book in your hand.
"Faulkner?" he asks.
”Good choice,” he says, impressed.
You smile again and step toward the door. He dashes to it, grabbing the handle.
"Are you busy… right now," he asks awkwardly.
"Well, I was just going to the park—"
"Would you go on a carriage ride with me?" he splutters.
"I… what?" you respond, dumbfounded.
"It’s just… I don’t know anyone here, and I ruined your cardigan and you seem really… I don’t know, different I guess. And I know I’d regret it if I didn’t ask you to come out with me," he finishes, embarrassed.
Your eyes hold his.
"Okay," you say, breaking the silence. "I’ll go on a carriage ride with you." You smile shyly, wondering how you’ll keep from exploding long enough to make it out the door.
The two of you barely speak as you make your way to the carriages. Somehow it’s a comfortable silence; you feel like you’ve known him for years. You catch him glancing at you and smiling out of the corner of your eye, and you fight back the butterflies in your stomach. Soon you can’t take it anymore. You turn, your eyes taking in every detail of his face as you walk side by side.
"Oh, it looks like they’re on break or something," he says, face falling.
You tear your eyes away from him and notice the empty carriages lining the sidewalk. A small sigh escapes your lips.
"Let’s walk instead," Charlie says brightly, taking your hand to lead you into the park.
You feel your knees start to shake and are thankful for the excuse to stay mobile. Maybe he won’t notice, you think to yourself.
"Let’s run!" he says suddenly, and you dash after him gleefully as the cement beneath your feet turns to grass.
Trees are everywhere as he starts to lead you up one of Central Park’s famous standing rock formations. Tourists love this kind of thing, you think to yourself. It’s nice to feel like you’re lost in the wilderness in the middle of a city. It’s like no one but you exists when you’re hidden by the rocks.
He glances at you over his shoulder, pulling you from your thoughts. You smile and do your best to keep your footing as you climb. Charlie’s hand is strong but tender as he leads you up the rock face and over the point.
Your breath quickens when you realize there’s no more climbing to do. He turns to you, and you take in his face surrounded by trees and stone.
"It’s so secluded here," you say, suddenly too terrified to look at him.
"Yeah," he says. You can feel him getting closer. "It’s best that way," he adds, tipping your chin towards him.
You stare into his eyes, hypnotized, as he cradles your face. His fingers set every nerve ending on fire.
"I don’t know what to… say," you stammer.
A small smile creases his lips. You open yours as he nears you. You can feel his chest now, expectation rushing through your veins, threatening to overflow.
"It doesn’t matter," he replies, leaning in.
He rips your head back. His teeth pierce your jugular. You bleed to death on the rock face.