Was she really that surprised? She knew this day would be coming. One can't be the recipient of such life-altering news- of supernatural creatures living among them- without consequences. No matter how much she might pretend otherwise.
She was, however, surprised by the choice of delivery. Expecting Doc or Dayle or Dayle's brother Jeremy- people with authority in the magical community- she was a little caught off guard by Alexander's voice on the other side of her door. What could his presence mean? She honestly didn't know, and the mystery frightened her.
Charlie reached for Noah's hand on her arm, ignoring its coldness for the comfort it offered. "Don't leave me, okay?" she whispered.
His hand squeezed hers. "You don't have to go out there," he protested. "You didn't do anything wrong."
"Yeah, but it doesn't matter. I'll have to go sooner or later anyway. We can't pretend forever."
Charlie took a deep breath to quell her nerves, then forced herself to walk forward. Even without the door open, she could picture Crowne standing on the other side, waiting for her with whatever consequences he came to distribute. Adrenaline hummed in her blood as her body fought against the inevitability she was about to face. Don't puke. Don't puke. Don't puke, she chanted silently.
Gripping Noah's hand, she opened the door and faced her fears.
Surprisingly, Alexander Crowne hadn't changed at all from the last time she saw him. Silky black curls, buttery yellow eyes, pale skin that should have turned red from the frosty chill but did not. He stood just in front of the door opposite hers, giving her as much space as could be granted in such a narrow hallway. Though his lips were quirked in a casual smirk, he still watched her carefully and she couldn't help but notice the same lion-stalking-prey impression that she had recognized in Noah earlier.
Must be a thing universal to predators.
Noah took his position standing slightly before her as a miniature barrier between the human he loved and the vampire she feared... well, the other vampire she feared. The one she feared more than him. He glared at Crowne, blaming him for disrupting their peace, for causing Charlie's terror, and for whatever news he came to bring. It wasn't likely that the Council would send Crowne to deliver anything pleasant.
If he even mentioned Royce, Charlie would cry again, and Noah would have to figure out some way to hurt the older vampire.
Charlie stood unspeaking for a long while. Or more precisely, she couldn't speak. Like the trip to the door, she had to steel herself for this next step. She took another deep breath, licked her lips, and squeezed Noah's hand for encouragement.