Charles & Claire Ch. 37bySchuppinzigh©
"CHARLES XAVIER NEWMAN, what the hell are you doing?" I heard my fiancée say, as my future stepdaughter's tongue was inside my mouth.
Kalista was still in my arms recovering from my kiss.
"Claire," Kalista said. "This is my fault. I'd just told Charles how much I loved him, and I started the kiss. He reacted, and it was wonderful, wasn't it, Charles?" K looked at me to confirm her story.
This 9½ year old just lied to protect me? If that isn't love, I don't know what is.
"Claire. I couldn't help myself. She told me how much she loves me, and I just felt compelled to kiss her and express my love back to her. Don't be mad at Kalista, please? The guy in this situation is always at fault, so be upset with me, OK?" I admitted as I started to tear up a bit.
Claire had been standing this whole time with her hands on her hips, changing to her hands crossed in front of her during my speech. From what I'd read about non-verbal communication, I needed to say something to get her to uncross her arms.
"Claire, didn't you feel 'compelled' that night, when I was tired and couldn't keep my head off the pillow. You gave me a kiss, turned out the light and were leaving the room. I seem to remember you explained to Annie that 'something' compelled you to stay with me that night, and it wasn't the prospect of sex - you said it was my heart."
"Well, I have to share my heart with both of you, because I love both of you. Kalista knows we're getting married, but she doesn't seem afraid of telling me that she loves me, the same way I'm always saying it to all of you. You Claire - are my life partner while Kalista is my little sister, with kissing benefits, and our mothers have just expressed their love for each other in front of all of us, hoping we might understand their growing love for one another."
Her arms dropped as I saw her smile reappear as she walked over to me and we kissed each other with raw passion, unlike any other kiss before. We were grinding our mouths into each other for a couple of minutes, when I separated us and I said, "That is my love to you, raw and primal - about as primal as we can get without taking our clothes off."
"Oh, My!" Kalista said.
I'd forgotten she was even in the room. "K honey, could you keep what I just said, to yourself, please? Annie and Sarah aren't ready to hear something like that between us OK?"
She giggled and blushed as she said, "OK guys - I think it just happened again Claire."
"What did honey?"
"Come here Claire," K said.
They discussed something in hushed tones as Claire sent off Kalista to change her clothes.
Annie and Sarah came in the room talking to each other and stopped. Claire and I, each went to our mothers and gave them great big hugs as K walked back in, in a very pretty dress.
"Where are we going tonight Charles?" Annie asked.
"To the swankiest restaurant we can find," I said.
"SARAH?" I yelled.
"Bring up the ticket mockup on the laptop please?"
"Sure, what is it - Oooh, you remembered what it is we're missing?" Sarah said with her eyes moistening quickly, as were mine.
She brought it up, showing me the gleaming Golden Ticket with everything we'd talked about on it.
I turned away, closing my eyes and visualizing the ticket in front me I said, "Change the script to the following please,"
"In Loving Memory of the late June Samantha McArthur, Antoinette "Annie" Danielle Moynihan and Sarah Mary Elizabeth Rollins, invite you to be spectators at the Wedding of Charles Xavier Newman and Miss Claire Tiffany McArthur," I said in a slowly stilted fashion, for Sarah's sake.
"Got it, anything else?" Sarah asked.
"On a separate line directly underneath that; put, 'Miss Kalista Rosemary McArthur will be the Maid of Honor.'"
"Separate line, same spacing:"
"Wedding Music will be provided by Michael Bublé and his Orchestra."
"Pre-Wedding Entertainment will be provided."
"The rest stays the same."
I was so focused into what I was thinking and saying, I didn't notice that all of the ladies were shedding tears; since I'm something of a sympathetic crier, I easily joined them as we got into a huddle and we just all held each other for a moment.
All of us dressed to the nines, we were on our way to 312 Chicago, a very nice four-star restaurant adjacent to our hotel. All four ladies wore their red Multi-Way dresses, each in a different style; Claire in the halter, Annie in the one shoulder style, Kalista was in the back-braided style showing off her beautiful back and shoulders; with Sarah wearing hers in the strapless style. Man o man, four hot chicks surrounded me.
We walked up to the Restaurant's Concierge.
"Yes, may I help you?"
I replied, "Charles & Claire, party of five please?"
"Very good sir, we've a wonderful table for you and your lovely ladies. Thank you for choosing 312 Chicago tonight sir. Meghan will take you to your table."
"Thank you very much," I replied as we followed a very pretty brunette to the table in the center of the entire restaurant.
"Hello, my name is Meghan - I'll be your server this evening - would you ladies like a glass of one of our signature wines?"
Annie replied, "Yes, I would like a glass of your house red please."
"And you madam?" she said, turning to Sarah.
I touched Sarah's hand and said, "It's OK."
"I'd like a glass of Dom Perignon, Vintage 2000 Rosé please?" Sarah answered.
"A glass or a bottle?" Meghan inquired.
"A glass, please - thank you," Sarah answered.
"And what would Charles & Claire and the Sparkling Kalista like to drink this evening," Meghan asked with a sparkle in her eyes.
I responded with, "I tre di noi come un grande bicchiere di acqua per favore."
"Molto bene Carlo - Ci sarà tutto il resto?" Meghan asked with a perfect accent.
"Meghan no, grazie," I responded.
"Impressive Charles," Sarah said. "What did you say anyway?"
Claire said, "When she asked what we wanted to drink, he said 'Please bring us a large glass of water' didn't you, show-off?"
"I'm sorry Claire, we hadn't spoken Italian to each other in a while, I thought I could try it out on someone... I'm not in love with," I said.
"Nice save, Charles," Kalista said to me with a giggle and a great big smile.
Meghan came back with the drinks and took our meal orders. I had to ask what some of the things on the menu were, and after that, I ordered Ippoglosso, which is Roasted Alaskan Halibut, Cauliflower Puree, Pancetta, Fava Bean, Onion, and Watercress; which Claire and I would share; Kalista ordered a Ravioli-based entrée, and Mom and Sarah both ordered Pollo Impanato, a breaded Chicken Breast, Mozzarella, Spinach, Grilled Tomato Relish and Roasted Potatoes.
We all shared and fed each other all night, giggling and talking about the last couple of days, including my epiphany regarding the Wedding Ticket.
"So Charles, Now do you think we've everything on the Ticket?" Sarah asked.
"Yes, I do - Sweet-Lips," Giving her a peck on the lips. "You can send it in, please? We'll get a chance to see some printed beforehand, like a printer's proof run?" I asked expectedly.
"Of course, my darling Charles," Sarah responded.
"Sorry honey, He just seemed a little needy, so I obliged," Sarah said looking over at Annie, who tried very hard to suppress a snort, but couldn't completely.
We finished up our meal, with Meghan coming by a couple of times checking on us, refilling our water glasses.
Kalista said, "I think Meghan's sweet on you Charles."
"Every girl that Charles meets, falls in love with him K," Claire said.
"We may be just the start of Charles' harem," Annie included.
"Mom, you too?" I responded.
Mom went on saying, "Let's see now, going back over the last year or so, I can think of a dozen or more ladies who looked at you like 'that,' including Shirley Charles, Susan Williams, Josiah's girlfriend Cassandra, John McArthur's sister Caroline, Brian's older sister Karen, Ken's wife Sarah Jane - Alicia and Sandra from Walt Disney World, every female registrar from the NDCA Competitions, and every young lady who has waited on you, including that hottie at Tournament of Kings, Katherine. Even little Lilith, Ken's daughter, had goo-goo eyes for you the couple of times she came over with them. I saw her constantly looking at you."
As a joke I said, "If we make enough money, aren't there islands for sale somewhere? We could buy one, make me king and I could have a consortium of concubines, making love to a different woman every day for a month or more - and then start over again."
The ladies closest to me slapped my arms, while the more distant ones flicked some water at me. We all laughed.
Meghan came up to us and asked if we wanted some desert, but, we politely declined. We got our bill and I took care of it, giving Meghan a nice tip. I always believe every server has the potential to be great, only some of them actually attempt that greatness, and even fewer achieve it. On our way out, I gave the concierge a twenty, thanking him for a job well done.
"Good evening, everyone - Come again while you're in Chicagoland," he said as we walked back to our hotel. I had Annie and Sarah on my arms coming back from eating. A number of people recognized Claire and I, and we stopped to give autographs to each of them. We finally got to our rooms, with the Moms peeling off to go to their own.
As we walked into our room, I turned to my lovely young ladies and said, "I'm so lucky... and so very proud to be seen with both of you. You are both so bloody beautiful and... and I care for you both so much..."
"What's wrong Charles?" asked Kalista.
Claire started to rub my shoulder and asked, "Anything at all we can do for you Charles?"
I moved over and sat on the bed, and tried to explain, "Kalista, to answer your question, 'I don't know?' Claire - what I need from the two of you is understanding. When Mom rattled off that list of ladies who she said have fallen in love with me, I --I need you to know that I never did anything other then smile and speak gently and honestly to every person I've ever met, man or woman. I've absolutely never approached any girl or woman with a 'line' or a lie. All I know how to be, is caring, loving, kind and gentle. I know I come off as an arrogant SON from time to time, but I just do that to show off in front of you guys. I've even been told that I talk down to everybody I talk to, that I'm some sort of bully with the way I talk and convey my thoughts."
"Loverboy, that's a bunch of horseshit," Sarah said as she and Annie walked into the room. "Your mother and I respect you and yield decisions to you, because you generally know what you're talking about. No 14-year-old knows everything, and you're no exception, but you're exceptionally smart and intuitive. Everything you read and listen to... you remember."
"Your math skills are off the charts, you know about real estate, financial matters, music - just about everything. You're a Charles-of-all-Trades and Master of Most. I'm only speaking for myself at the moment, but I've never heard you speak ill of someone, except your father, or my ex, and they're both big sacks of shi... Anyway, your mother and I heard most of what you just said to the girls, and I love you, sometimes like a son... and sometimes not."
She was on a roll, so Sarah kept going, "Sorry Claire, but the truth is the truth. Most girls your age are getting ready to go to high school and plan to sleep with every boy they meet, until they find the one to bring home to Mom and Dad. You, however - hit the mother load; he's cute, he's smart, he treats you like he's known you for a dozen years, but it's been barely over a year and a half, from when you first met. I know I didn't originally understand what was going on with you two, but I support my daughter, I approve of her fiancé, and I can't wait to see the beautiful children the two of you make. But, that won't happen until after you're married, will it Charles?" she made her point by wagging her finger at me.
"No ma'am, it won't," I said very assured of myself, with my arm around Claire.
"So, that means we can kiss now, whenever we want, doesn't it mother?" Claire questioned.
Suddenly, there was a bit of tension in the room. Everybody was looking around at everybody else.
Annie stepped forward and said, "I want to put my two cents in on this discussion, Charles. I've always thought that you were a very special young man, even when you were Kalista's age. You got every Cub Scout award available and you also got straight 'A's in school. You opened doors for your sisters and me, even talked back to your father on occasion. I've been proud of you, your entire life."
"To me... the seminal moment in our relationship was when you had the opportunity to have your father beaten up - which he would've deserved - and instead you chose to give him a hug and told him to go on his way instead. That's the mark of a great man, Charles. I'll go to my grave telling everyone I know that my son is a great man, and has found the thing he loves most and the girl he loves most."
I ran to Mom and gave her a great big hug. I then went to Sarah and I did the same with her. Kalista was next and lastly, I went up to Claire and I said, "I want to take you jewelry shopping, so we can give back to Annie her ring, because I want everyone to know that you're my fiancée - and my destiny."
I started a kiss with her standing there, with everyone else in the room, not caring about any of them, except the girl I had my arms around. I dropped both of my hands and placed them on her butt cheeks, pushing her into me. I heard a gasp or two, and a giggle, but there was no clearing of the throats or gesticulations to make us stop. When the kiss was finally over, Claire whispered to me, "That was so naughty." As we turned to see Annie and Sarah, they were locked in a similar kiss with Sarah's hands all over Annie's butt, again causing a few gasps along with Kalista's nervous giggle.
"Ladies, time for bed - go to your room and finish... whatever it is you may have started." Claire and I pulled them apart and pushed them out into the hallway.
"So," Kalista said, "Are you two gonna start feeling each other off all the time, or was that all just a show for your Moms?"
"The expression is 'feel each other up' and most of what we just did was for their benefit, although your butt feels really nice, Claire-Bear," I said.
Claire giggled. K grinned!
The next morning the girls were up and stretching, so I joined them for a while, letting them help me. We all showered and changed into performance clothes, and carried a change in our go-bags.
Annie and Sarah knocked and came in ready to go.
"Did everyone get a good night's sleep?" I asked.
Everyone nodded and we were on our way to our rehearsal at the UIC Pavilion (University of Illinois at Chicago) that according to our original email that came with our schedule can hold just over 10,000 people. From the outside it doesn't look that big, but when we got inside - it was amazing. Apparently this place was renovated about 10 years ago, but it still looks really nice. It's sunken like a football stadium but it's entirely enclosed!
Off in the distance we saw Michael and the gang. Kalista ran up to him and gave him a big kiss on the cheek. He picked her up and asked, "What's that for?"
"Because I missed you and your pretty voice," Kalista said, as Michael put her down and kissed her on the cheek.
"Your Ambassador certainly knows how to make an entrance. Welcome you guys, you ready to Wow Chicago?"
"Well, Michael - we've two new numbers for the show," I said.
Sarah walked up to Michael, like a shark that just smelled chum in the water and said, "We think the second one they're about to do, deserves to be the last number of the evening Michael - Charles & Claire have put in over 10 hours of practice on it. I think you'll agree when you see it." Sarah was playing with his tie the whole time she was talking to him. She was wearing her black strapless dress and Michael had yet to even look directly at her face.
"Show me what you got, kids," Michael said, clearing his throat and glancing again at Sarah, this time making direct eye contact.
Claire and Kalista were changing into their ballet slippers as Annie gave me the CD and I found the system to pipe it through.
"Michael, this number is only Claire and Kalista," I said as I grabbed the remote to start the number, 'My Heart Will Go On.' I stood next to Annie as I saw the girls get into position. I saw a nod from Claire and I started the music.
The girls both went into matching Rondés and then each did what they had practiced. I watched Michael as he watched them. He seemed very emotional, whether it was the music or the girls, I couldn't tell. They'd just performed side-by-side Battements and they were both full of emotion themselves, however, they stayed focused and kept performing.
When the piccolo plays after the bridge, Kalista dances alone beautifully, but when the full orchestration comes in they start again to dance contrasting moves with each other. I looked over at Michael again and Sarah had her hand on his shoulder as he started to wipe his eyes. It's over five minutes long, but their last moves were as beautiful and as graceful as their beginning moves were.
"That HAS TO start the evening, that number does," Michael said rather assertively. "That song has always been my personal favorite number, since Celine first recorded it. I know her - I'll make sure she comes to your wedding and sings that herself, with my orchestra."
Sarah leaned into him and said, "Thank you, but as the Great Al Jolson once said, 'You ain't seen nothin' yet, Michael!'"
Annie gave her the other CD that she changed out. I handed the remote to Mom as Claire and I got into position all the way upstage. Everyone moved, the orchestra people got up to watch this themselves; possibly anticipating something wonderful was about to happen.
I nodded to Annie and she started the music, which of course starts with Bill Medley singing, 'Now I've had the time of my life...' which is Claire's cue to start dancing. As we started the routine... we heard gasps from all around us.
We were 'in the zone' as we went from move to step and back to move again. Our close-in dancing was our best ever as we danced as one person, but the song moves on and so did we, as we were doing some salsa type moves and some merengue type moves, but this may just become our new signature song and dance. It was getting to 'that' point, so I went to the furthest downstage point, dancing in place, as Claire started the run towards me and she left the ground at just the right spot and in just the right point in the music - I got ready and WE DID IT.
I heard K and the ladies scream out as I brought Claire to her feat as we finished the dance, adding a Charles & Claire flourish of one-handed spins to finish; the song was over.
Everybody clapped and whistled and applauded as we clinched each other and kissed. We bowed to our audience of the orchestra people and Michael, Kalista and the Moms.
I kept hearing "Wow" and "Fantastic" from everywhere. Claire and I went to Michael... who appeared speechless.
"Well, what do you think Michael? Does that deserve to be the last number of the evening?" Sarah said, as Michael was still emotionally silent.
"Oh my Fucking Goodness, you two," he blurted and quickly realized his gaffe and said, "I'm sorry, but that was, I - I don't have words for that, that's how good that was. Amazing - the most outstanding piece of dancing I've yet to see in my lifetime just happened in front of me. Did you guys really take 10 hours to learn that?"