Chapter 4, Reunion
BY AMBER MARIGOLD
“You want to try with the target a little closer?” Xavier muses.
I whip my head towards the smug bastard. “Excuse me, I’m not inhuman. Give me a second,” I tell him before going back to aiming at the tin can Xavier had placed literally a hundred meters away in the forest. “It’s not like you could do better,” I scoff.
I pull the trigger and sure enough, I missed again. Dammit. I’m seriously losing my touch.
“I think I could,” Xavier chuckles.
I send him a playful glare. “Well then, go ahead,” I say and hand him the gun.
Xavier takes the gun and stands aiming. I watch him intently as he closes his one eye to take careful aim. He’s not in a suit like most of the time. Instead, he’s in black pants with a plain shirt. I’m in my own pair of comfortable sports pants and a tank top. But we’re bot sporting combat boots which I weirdly love. Another difference is his messy auburn hair. I like it when he doesn’t care about keeping his hair slicked back our clothes on point. I like comfortable Xavier.
Just when it looks like Xavier’s about to pull the trigger, I cough, “Don’t miss.”
A loud shot goes off and echoes through the forest. The can stays perfectly still on the other side and I can’t help howling with laughter. Xavier turns to me with an amused glare. “You made me miss,” he grumbles.
“No, no, Xavi, obviously I encouraged you. I told you not to miss,” I explain innocently.
“Wicked girl,” Xavier smiles and lowers his gun to embrace me in a hold I find myself craving for.
“Oh, you’ve seen nothing,” I smile mischievously and duck to slip out of his grip. I step back in a fighting stance and motion for him to approach. “I can still kick your ass,” I smirk.
Xavier grins at the challenge and sets his gun down. “Oh of course you can. If kicking my ass implies I disarm and pin you down during our training,” he says.
“Firstly, you cheated and secondly, I’m pretty sure in a fair fight, I can bring you down faster than a sack of cabbages,” I challenge.
“Then prove it,” Xavier says and steps into a fighting stance as well. We’re in the forest, but fortunately the grass where we’re at seems soft so I won’t get any serious bruises. Nessa would slit my throat if I pick up get another scrape before the wedding.
“Okay, but no cheating,” I warn.
“I never cheat!” Xavier defends.
“Then stop throwing in these little sly comments,” I demand.
“What sly comments?” Xavier asks as we start circling each other with our fists raised. The pine forest makes shadows and sun rays dance across Xavier as we continue to keep our distance in a slow walk.
“You know what I’m talking about,” I chuckle.
“Like what? Telling you we’d be much better if we fought without clothes?” Xavier smirks.
I choke on the air and Xavier immediately pounces like the bastard he is. I’m caught off guard, so I don’t avoid Xavier’s arms wrapping around my waist as he lifts me into the air. “See that! That’s cheating!” I protest in laughter.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Xavier says smugly.
Knowing I can’t let the bastard beat me, I push with all my weight and swing myself over his shoulder - landing behind him back to back. Just when he turns around, I go down and swipe with my leg. Xavier tumbles back at the kick and I leap forward to make him fall on his back while I’m sitting on his chest. I bring my fist down, but Xavier grabs it and doesn’t let go. I bring my other fist down, but he grabs it with his remaining hand and I can’t break lose no matter how hard I pull.
Xavier has a devilish smile as he keeps my tiny fists in his much larger hands. With his legs, he twists our bodies to roll us and have me under while he’s pinning me on top – his hands are holding my fists trapped above my head and to the forest ground. I have no means of escape as the devil smiles down at me with those hypnotizing emerald green eyes.
“How about we get some Nutella into the mix?” Xavier smirks devilishly.
And the way he looks at me... The way he looks like he could literally eat me like I’m some meal... Taking away from the fact that every inch of me that he’s touching, is burning, there’s a warmth settling below my stomach that makes me want to just let go and tell Xavier to bring the fricken Nutella if he wants to.
What do you say, Marigold? His eyes whisper as he leans down lower – his lips so close to mine.
Uhhhhhhhh, I stare blankly.
I told you I’d win, he winks.
Oh hell no.
I wrap my legs around him and twist and turn to roll us over so I’m on top again. Xavier’s a little caught by surprise so when I roll forward - over him, his grip loosens from my fists and I’m finally free. I jump back onto my feet - my fists raised just as Xavier flips back onto his feet as well and turns around to grin at me.
“Our wedding is in two weeks, Marigold. And I honestly can’t wait to see you at our honeymoon,” he laughs.
I turn crimson and lose all sense of fighting ability. “Stop that! Stop making me blush!” I insist while literally not able to stop a smile that hurts my cheeks from trying to hide it.
“I’m just stating facts, Marigold,” Xavier says innocently while stalking closer. And fuck me, I feel like a useless little dear getting cornered by the big bad wolf. Worse, I want to be cornered, but my pride is not taking any of that.
He walks right up to me and when I take a step back, my back is against one of the pine trees. Still, Xavier strolls over until he’s right in front of me. I have to look up to meet his gaze and immediately feel numb with poison I don’t ever want to find the cure of.
He slowly brings his hand to tuck one of my dark blonde strands of hair behind my ear. That gentle, soft touch makes me burn all over and I can’t stop staring into those eyes. I’ve always mistaken the burn Xavier causes me to be because I hated him. Since the very beginning he would make me burn. Little did I know that I needed that burn. That my body craves to be set on fire by his touch.
“Guess I win,” Xavier smirks and leans down.
I don’t resist the kiss. How could I? The way his lips fit so perfectly with mine and makes me feel drunk on the fire. How can any girl not want Xavier Jilten have his body press against them? But while he deepens the kiss, it’s my soul that feels the burn more than anything.
I slowly pull back from the kiss to nibble his ear and whisper, “You can’t beat me.”
Before Xavier can even figure out what’s going on, I bring my foot behind his and push at him. Xavier trips and falls back. “Good lord, Marigold, you know how to bring a man to his knees,” he laughs.
“I guess one could say you fell for me,” I tease and go over to extend my hand to him. He takes it, but the pulls me on top of him. I fall right onto his chest and feel like never getting back up.
“Equal?” Xavier asks.
“Equal,” I confirm with a smile.
Xavier gets up and helps me as well. As he goes to pick up his gun again, I get a buzz from my phone and check.
“Who is it?” Xavier asks when he walks back.
“It’s Blake... He’s... He’s here with Owen and they have to speak with us urgently,” I explain while putting my phone away.
Xavier nods at that. “Well, let’s go see them,” he says and takes my hand. At the last second, I quickly grab the gun and fire over my shoulder. There’s a loud shot, followed by a pang and when Xavier looks behind us, his proud smile confirms that I got the tin can.
“You missed on purpose,” Xavier says while hooking his arm into mine as we walk through the forest.
“I spared your ego,” I shrug and stretch to kiss his cheek. I can’t keep my eyes off of Xavier’s satisfied little smile as we walk on.
When we reach the gardens with their dark red roses, a thought suddenly comes to me. “Xavi, there’s something I don’t quite understand,” I say as we stroll towards Isabella. A few gardeners are at work, but they pay us no mind as we walk past.
“What is it?” Xavier asks concerned.
“I know I’m not the world’s most experienced dater, but... why aren’t you jealous of Blake and Owen? I know for a fact if I was with one of them, they would either forbid or cautioned me to see you. Why aren’t you jealous like regular guys? Don’t get me wrong, I really love and appreciate that about you, but... Why aren’t you possessive like the others?” I ask. It sounds awful as I say it, but I think he knows what I mean.
Xavier has a knowing grin as he walks on. “Jealousy implies that I want something that belongs to another. Possessive implies that I don’t want others to touch what belongs to me. And you, Marigold, aren’t a belonging. You’re a person. You don’t belong to anyone, but yourself,” Xavier explains.
I literally hold on tighter to his arm. I love his logic in the situation. I love it so much that I don’t think I can follow it. Mine, I want to snap at any girl in the future that would even get close to him.
We get inside the house and I hear Blake and Owen’s voices in the distance. I look up at Xavier with a cringe expression. “This is going to sound awful, but can we not be too touchy in front of them? I can’t imagine that they’re very happy about us,” I say.
Xavier nods and takes a step away. “As you wish,” he smiles.
“Thank you,” I smile back and we walk through the house towards the foyer.
I break a little when I finally see Owen and Blake. They’ve refused to let me visit them for two months now. I haven’t seen them in what feels like forever, but... But I understand why. Owen looks up at me from where he’s sitting in his wheelchair. His cheeks are hallowed and skin pale. His usually bright copper hair is suddenly dark and his legs... I try not to stare, but his legs are so thin... And there, right behind him is Blake with a look that says exactly what I’m thinking. Don’t stare.
And knowing the last thing that Owen would want is pity, I smile brightly. “It’s about time you guys come to visit! I started to think you hated me,” I say with a voice that a force to be alive and happy.
“I’m going to cut right to the chase,” Blake says as he pushes Owen past us and towards the living room. I want to stop them, but I’m too late and they both end up staring at all the dresses and boxes and shoes that’s taken over the living room. I cringe on the inside. “Is there a room that’s... available?” Blake asks.
“The entertainment room,” I answer and lead the way to the next room where the fire place is burning bright. The entertainment room is one of the only rooms that Xavier has forbid Nessa to take over. No wedding accessories are to be seen among the piano and books and chairs.
Blake pushes Owen to the other side and parks him next to the chair where he sits.
I go make myself comfortable in the chair close to them while Xavier sits on their other side - away from me. Good.
“What can we help with?” I ask.
Blake clenches his jaw and I already know it’s because I’m in the ‘we’ phase with Xavier. “Owen’s sister, Kelly is still captured and we want to rescue her,” Blake starts, “But obviously we can’t do it on our own and Jane can’t know that I’m doing this... I need a team of people to help us get her back.”
“I’ll do it,” I say without thinking.
“Marigold, we have our own problem at hands...” Xavier interrupts cautiously. I send him a sharp look.
“We’re helping Owen,” I say sternly.
“But Marigold, we need to-”
“I don’t care,” I dismiss and look back at Owen and Blake. “What can we do? When do we go?” I ask.
Blake looks between Xavier and me before he sighs and says, “I don’t expect you to come along. I just need a few extra trusted guys that can help with this...”
“I’m goin’” I hear someone say behind me. I look over and Nessa comes strutting over to Owen. “I’m goin’ with on the mission and if ye try ignorin’ another one of my fooken calls, I’ll drag ye by yer fooken legs to mah bed and ride you like ye’re riding that bloomin’ wheelchair,” she threatens while walking right up to Owen.
Xavier coughs as well.
Blake chokes on air.
Owen does nothing but stare.
“We’ll come too,” two voices say. The twins come walking in - taking away some of the tension that Nessa is bringing into the room. “Owen was our leader. We owe him,” Bryan says and smiles shyly at Owen.
“You’ll need some brains and muscles to join you as well. Someone has to keep Bagpipes in check,” Daniel says as he walks in.
“Ye’re right, Man whore,” Nessa says, “Paul will be coming along.”
On cue, Paul shuffles in and smiles shyly at everyone. He’s cradling Pollock that seems to be sleeping. Those two have a bond, I muse. We all lightly chuckle and I swear there’s a small smile on Owen’s lips, but I could mistake it.
“We can all go,” I say proudly.
“Marigold, can we talk in private?” Xavier asks.
“We’re not discussing this,” I say firm.
Xavier gets up – drawing everyone’s attention as he walks over to me. He extends his hand. Talk. Now, his posture says. I look up with daring eyes before taking his hand and fallowing him out of the room while the others break out into some banter. When we round the corner, Xavier pushes me against a wall and stares me down.
“Firstly,” he starts, “Don’t ever dismiss me like that in front of others. We are equal, Marigold. Remember that.”
I immediately feel a pang of guilt. “Sorry,” I say and mean it. I just... I get so protective over Owen and Blake... I want to help them as much as I can.
“Secondly,” Xavier continues, “We can’t come with. You know that. We have to try and find gangs to join our side... You know Sterling is coming after us and South are still continuing with their plans... We need to find gangs that’ll join our cause... As much as I want to help save Owen’s sister, we have a lot on our hands right now. The inner gang can go help them, but you and I... We have some big problems on our hands.”
I stare at him. I want to contradict everything he’s saying, but... “You’re right,” I admit.
“And you’re beautiful,” Xavier says to cheer me up.
“Flirt,” I smile.
“Temptress,” Xavier grins back before he leans down to kiss me.
And I let him kiss me, because I don’t know how many more we’ll have left.