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Season 7

Episode 28

(Staying over a green garden)

"Sheryl what? Oh, that! It's just the vitamins that I take every day." Charles gave a foolish explaination to her with a fake smile.

Sheryl understood that Charles was not going to reveal anything to her. Rolling her eyeballs, she turned to Charlie and asked in a soft voice, "Charlie, please tell me what the medicine is? Is it really vitamin pills?"

Charlie had not expected Sheryl to question him. He glanced at his father in panic. Charles shook his head slightly. Charlie then murmured in a low voice, "That's right, Sher. They are just some common vitamins prescribed for my daddy."

At this moment, Shirley pulled Sheryl's sleeve and said timidly, "I know what they are, Sher."

"Do you, Shirley?" Sheryl asked in wonderment. She crouched down and looked into her daughter's eyes. Gently pulling her in a hug, she said, "Please tell Mommy!"

"Uncle Charles said that his back was hurting him and Charlie fetched some painkillers for him," Shirley blurted out what she had heard with a sideways look at Charlie and Charles. "Uncle Charlie said several times that his back was killing him. Sher, what's wrong with him? Did he get hurt?"

"Painkiller?" Sheryl mumbled to herself. She had asked Charles if his back hurt after they left the hospital. She remembered he had said no as if nothing had happened to him. Now she realized how stupid she was. Why didn't she take a look at his back? Why did she believe him? How could he not feel any pain after such a thick plank smashed hard on his back?

She realized that Charles had hidden his pain from her as he didn't want to upset her. Besides, she was trying to maintain a distance from him all the time.

"Don't look at me like that, Sheryl! Look, I'm fine!" Charles explained hurriedly as she stared unblinkingly at him. "You had better hurry home with Shirley now. It is getting very late."

"How about your back? It still hurts, right?" Sheryl found herself asking after a long hesitation.

"No, not anymore," Charles replied and shook his head vigorously. However, he was not telling the truth. He was not made of steel after all. It would take at least a month before he fully recovered.

"It hurts! You're lying, Daddy!" Charlie exclaimed. He couldn't keep quiet anymore. He decided to tell Sheryl all he knew. He frowned and said, "Let me tell you everything, Sher. My daddy lay on the sofa for a long time last night after you left. He couldn't even bend his back. I was so worried about him that I stopped at his door stealthily at midnight. I heard him groaning with pain all the time. I believe that he hasn't slept the whole night. But he acts like nothing is bothering him in front of you!"

Then he walked to Sheryl and holding her hand, he added, "Do you know why he wants you to leave now? Because he's unable to hold out any longer himself!"

"Charlie, shut up!" Charles shouted at him. On seeing both Shirley and Charlie frightened, he explained in a loving voice, "It really doesn't hurt now. You are too young to understand, Son! Come on! Time to go to sleep now. Don't forget to take a shower first!"

"I don't believe you, Charles," Sheryl protested in front of the kids. "He's more reliable than you. Why didn't you tell me the truth?"

"Please, Sher! It's not the way it looks." Charles tried to hurriedly smooth things over.

Sheryl didn't look at him. She turned to Charlie and said, "Please take Shirley upstairs with you. I need to talk with your daddy for a few minutes."

"Okay. Follow me, Shirley!" Charlie nodded. Without any hesitation he left, holding Shirley's hand. Sheryl watched the kids go upstairs and disappear around the corner. She took a seat beside Charles and asked, "Tell me now! Why did you lie to me?"

Charles, on the other hand, was finally happy to be alone with Sheryl. He gazed at her and replied, "I didn't mean it. I just didn't want to upset you."

Seeing her worried look, he laughed and explained patiently, "I'm made of flesh and bones and so it's natural to hurt a little. Listen, it's not as bad as you think. I'll be fine in a few days. It was really not necessary to let you know and upset you. Sheryl, you will achieve nothing by worrying."

"I know what you mean," Sheryl said in a low voice. "I'm not a professional, but I know that taking painkillers will not do you any good."

"It soothes the pain for a little while and helps me fall asleep,"

Charles explained. He couldn't stop his smile when he saw the serious look on her face. "Sheryl, just relax! Remember I'm a tough man and I can deal with the pain."

Sheryl could not stand by and watch him suffer. Seeing the ointment on the table she realized that Charles couldn't manage to apply it on his back without some help. After some hesitation and internal debate, she ordered, "Take off your shirt please!"

"What? What do you want me to do?" Charles asked in shock. He couldn't believe his ears. For a moment, his mind couldn't grasp what Sheryl was saying.
"God! I only want to apply the ointment on your back. Please remove your shirt!" Sheryl retorted as she opened the tube. She tried her best to hide her embarrassment. Her face was as red as an apple. Seeing Charles in shock, she urged him, "Come on! Don't be shy!"

"Oh, that! Thank you!" Charles murmured as her words penetrated his dazed mind. Then he quickly stripped away his shirt. He lay down on his stomach on the sofa. Sheryl's hands felt cool and slippery as she applied the ointment on his back.

She moved her hands tenderly to avoid hurting him.

Charles felt his heart beating wildly. It had been three years since Autumn had last touched him. He had to fight the impulse to hold her in his arms and make intense love to her. He knew it was madness. He told himself to be patient, or he would frighten her into running away from him.

Seeing his entire back covered with bruises, Sheryl couldn't help but shed tears. It was hard for her to describe how she felt at this moment.

About ten minutes later she said to Charles, "I have finished applying the ointment. You can put on your shirt now."

Charles nodded slightly and before he could thank her, he heard her speak again, "Can you show me my room? I think I'd better stay here tonight."

She had been thinking about sleeping over from the moment Charlie revealed Charles' suffering. When she saw what his back looked like, she finally made up her mind to stay.

Charles had only Charlie for company in the night. If Charles needed something at midnight or if his back hurt so much that he needed a doctor, she didn't think Charlie could manage it.

Therefore she had decided to stay the night in his house.

She talked to herself in her mind, 'It is only for tonight. I won't do this again!'

"What did you say? Please repeat it again!" a dumbfounded Charles said. He had heard her words, but he found it difficult to believe his ears. He had never expected Sheryl would agree to stay at his house. Not even in his dreams.

"I said… I said that I wanted to see my room," Sheryl stammered in embarrassment. "If you have any reservations about this, I can leave now with Shirley!"

She threatened and made a gesture of walking away. Charles grabbed her hand right away and held on tight.

Finally! She had agreed to stay here, in her own home. He would do everything in his power not to jinx that.

Charles couldn't hide his happiness and the big smile on his face. He said in a joyous voice, "Follow me. I'll show you your room now."

The room he chose for her was next to his own bedroom. Charlie's room was on the opposite of it. The room was clean and had a fresh sheet with a pretty floral print on the bed. There was a large French window and it was a very comfortable and pleasant room.

Since it was night time, Sheryl couldn't see anything outside. Otherwise, she would have seen the beautiful garden outside the window. This room had the best view in the house.

"Is this the guest room?" Sheryl asked. It felt more like a girl's bedroom to her.


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