"Well, that's certainly good to know," Charlie said, echoing Royce's comment about her trust. The similarity had her smiling- the fact that Alexander Crowne did the same thing to her yesterday had her stopping.
She cleared her throat, suddenly thirsty and in need of a distraction, and looked at the cup of dandelions on her desk. Good. A distraction.
"You know," she said, rising to her feet. "On second thought, I don't need to go all the way across the street to fill this with flowers. I could always just use the hose out back. I mean, it might be a bit more messy... no, you know what? These are dandelions. They don't need water. They probably won't last that long anyway. They can just sit on the desk in the shed, looking pretty."
Impressive. She mostly sounded normal throughout most of that one-sided conversation. Feeling proud of herself, she grabbed Royce's shirt sleeve- as much to make him follow her as to simply feel the comforting touch of another human being- and towed him after her, out the back door and toward the shed. Once outside, she began to breathe a little easier. The back of her mind viewed the shed as safer, farther away from the office where her little world had been shattered. The front of her mind realized this was utter foolishness, but was content enough for the time being to let the back seat driver take control.
Speaking of safe... "Um... you know, getting back onto our original topic... I don't suppose you'd be interested in getting that second dinner tonight, would you? No offense, but you and your sister sort of cleaned me out of what was supposed to be my leftovers, so I was going to cook again tonight. Probably meatloaf. And mashed potatoes. I still have some cookie dough left for Rosemary, too."
Aaaand, there went argue-proof evidence that Charlie was likely more scared than she wanted to admit. All that morning she had been plotting ways to get Royce over without his sister- not that Rosemary wasn't a fun person, but... well, she was waiting for the official date #1- and now she was using the girl as an excuse to get both to come over. She almost smiled at the irony. But it was necessary- she was a long way yet from completely calming down, and until she did, she wanted Royce (and Rosemary) around to help quell whatever panic lingered...
But that wasn't really fair, she realized. Trying to trick the Kings into coming into her home to play hero. Not even a decent dinner counted against something like that.
Charlie entered the shed, releasing Royce's sleeve as she climbed up onto her stool (where the untouched prescriptions still lay), spinning around to face him. Guilt was helping Reason get back in control, and as she sighed, she felt a lot of anxiety pass through her breath into the chilly winter air.
Royce was watching her, and she smiled wryly. It wasn't much, but at least it was a real smile this time. "Okay, look. Let me start over. I'll confess, you've gotten me a little freaked. I don't even know who this Alexander Crowne is, but you being spooked is spooking me, and I'm probably a little more scared than I'd really like to be. So, I'm being a selfish little scaredy cat by asking you and your sister to come over and keep me company so I don't let my fears get the better of me. All I can offer in return is fairly good food and... probably Sheryl Crow, because I think one of my cats sat on my favorite mix. But if you don't like that, I'll turn on the radio and we'll find something better. Of course, if you don't want to come, I suppose it won't matter either way," she added with a non-convincing laugh.