I didn't know whether to feel special because the universe was making me its target for bad things to start happening or what....?
In the span of three days, I had almost gotten raped, went through a massive mental breakdown including your friendly neighborhood panic attack, and gotten a high fever.
Now I was sick and I felt like shit. My head hurts like hell and every time I got up, I got extremely dizzy. Liam had been trying to get me to eat but the nauseating feeling kind of made me have an aversion to food.
I was feeling much better than before.
Physically and mentally, I was exhausted. Emotionally, I still had a crippling inferiority complex. It didn't help that I was basically in bed all week doing nothing. I felt completely useless and weak all over again.
I was laying in bed, taking sips of water while scrolling through my phone. Liam gave a courteous knock on the door and poked his head in. "Hey," he says. "You have a visitor."
"What?" I mumbled. "Who?"
"Your favourite professor."
I choked, almost completely spitting my water out across the sheets. "No," I said immediately, feeling a familiar panic rise inside me. "Why? Make him go away."
"Too late," he said apologetically. He opens the door wider and my blood runs cold.
Now of all the times in the world. I didn't want to see him. Not just because I looked terrible, but the last thing I needed right now was the person who I had basically been crying over in my bedroom. Every time I had thought about Avery i could just hear Patrick's words echoing in my head. I couldn't say I was being used. I had offered myself up, and I couldn't play the victim now. That somehow goes the same with Patrick.
Avery stands awkwardly at my doorway, while Liam inconspicuously walks away. I groan, pulling my covers over my head. "This can't be happening," I lamented.
I feel the bed dip and I decided to stop being a child. I watch his movements carefully he sat down next to my hip, setting a glass Tupperware down on my bedside table. He doesn't say anything or provide any sort of explanation as to why he was here.
"Why are you here?" I ask quietly, sitting up.
He seemed to hesitate. He looked so big and out of place in my tiny apartment bedroom. And for once, it looked like he was almost anxious. "I'm here to see you."
"But why?" He reached out his hand towards my face and I recoiled entirely from his fingers. He frowned slightly.
"Please don't touch me," I muttered. That wasn't what I wanted right now.
Avery stares at me for a few seconds before resting his hand back down in his lap. "Alright," he agreed. "I won't."
I swallowed the lump in my throat. At those words, a strange sort of comfort spread through me. "Why did you need to see me?" I asked again, my voice shrinking by the minute.
"I didn't need to," he replied, "But I thought I should. To see if you were alright." His speech was more stiff than usual and it took me a bit to place why exactly that was. He was completely out of his element by being here. The thought of Professor Castien going to someone's house to check on their well-being a few months ago would've made me laugh.
"You were worried about me," I translated, trying to quell any form of hope that might be rising up right now.
He scowled. "Well, when you put it like that, it sounds ridiculous."
I smiled weakly. I could faintly see how weary he looked. His entire figure seemed a bit more fatigued. How one week could've done so much, I have no idea. "Did you know I was sick?"
He gave a clipped nod. He didn't say anything else so I continued. "How?"
"Your roommate." He said the word 'roommate' distastefully as if the word alone offended him.
"You talked to Liam?" I said. I didn't really know whether to be surprised or if this seemed entirely normal.
Not a man of many words today apparently. I realized I had started twisting my fingers together in my lap again, a habit of nervousness and I forced my hands apart, setting them at my sides. I couldn't say I wasn't uneasy that he was here right now but he had been worried about me, which sent my heart tumbling. "He also told me about Patrick."
I didn't move.
Oh. So he knew. I dropped my eyes unwilling to look at him. I knew it wasn't my fault. There was no justification for what he had done. But it was my fault a little. And I hadn't been able to fend him off. It dismayed me that now Avery knew about it though. I couldn't help but race through all the thoughts of what he must think of me right now. "He's been put on a state-wide expulsion."
My eyes widened. "W-what?"
He blinked at me, an unrecognizable look in his eyes. Not of sympathy, that, while I knew I was being kind of unreasonable, I hated getting from Liam. It made me feel small and pitiful. It was more a look of ever so slight irritation. That seemed pretty normal. "You expelled him? And...state-wide?"
"Yes," he said as if that was obvious.
"You can't do that," I gaped.
His expression was blank except for the small hint of resignation on his face. "I did."
"But that's not a thing," I continued to protest.
"Because he deserves it," he answered harshly. "He deserves worse."
I was on a lot of medication. Maybe this wasn't actually happening. Maybe it was a hallucination. Wouldn't be surprising considering how much I had been thinking about him.
"You weren't the only victim of his," he said tartly, his face twisting with disgust.
Of course, he didn't do it for me. I could've hoped as fucked up as that was. "That's awful," I whispered. He did deserve worse than expulsion. But there's no way this came from the college. They had no such power. Especially considering they didn't do anything until now. This. This was Avery's doing. "How did you pull that off?"
He stares at me, lips pressed into a thin line. "I didn't."
"Yes, you did," I insisted. "But how?"
He glared at me, but there was very little heat from it. "I made some calls."
"Let me guess," I muttered. "Made some calls. Made some people very scared for their lives. Abused some power. Maybe a few bribes."
Avery narrowed his eyes. "I didn't bribe anyone."
I laughed softly, leaning my head back against the wall. "Ah, my bad. Just threatened them then?"
"Hmm, so you just asked and the threat was implied because you said it in your Avery Castien voice," I tried, tilting my head curiously to the side. "The one that scares everyone."
He was actually glaring at me now and I couldn't help but smile. He doesn't try to deny anything though. "It doesn't scare you."
"You don't use it on me," I said softly.
He arches a brow at me. "Would it work if I did?"
"Maybe," I mumble. "If I thought you meant it."
I watch his expression. It shifted from the previous irritation to a look of almost fortitude. "What makes you think I wouldn't?"
That was a good question. Not counting the first day where he had actually terrified me, I don't think he's actually used that particular voice on me. As far as his scowls and glares go, they were also getting less and less effective. "Because you like me," I said lightly.
"No," he snapped, seeming instantly annoyed at that.
"I'm sorry, do you make house calls to all your beloved students, Professor Castien?" I bat my lashes at him and he rolled his eyes.
"This was not my idea," he mutters.
"My brothers have taken a liking to you," he said flatly. "This was their idea."
I smiled. Avery's fondness for his brothers was hard to miss. Even if I was pretty sure that when I went to dinner with him, he spent the entire time glowering at them. "Well," I mumbled. "I'm fine. Thank you for coming."
He doesn't answer, his eyes studying my face. I shifted, slightly self-conscious under his gaze. It kind of felt like he was picking apart the thing wrong with me. "When's the last time you ate?"
I paused. "I ate earlier today," I fibbed. I had technically eaten earlier today, so it wasn't a complete lie.
"Really?" he said skeptically. "When?"
"Why does that matter?" I answered defensively.
"Because you're lying."
"Stop," he commanded, scowling.
I made a face, looking down. "I ate this morning."
His face hardened. He looked almost angry but he got up, leaving me alone in my room. I frowned. What exactly just happened here? Did he just leave?
Minutes later, he returns with a spoon. A spoon. A spoon? He handed me it and I took it awkwardly from him. "What am I supposed to do with this?"
He sits back down at the edge of the bed, reaching over to the glass Tupperware he had brought that I had forgotten about. The inside sloshed with a creamy white liquid. Soup, I realized. He unclips the lid, pulling it off and handing it to me. His eyes were hard and he demanded, "Eat."
A rich, heavenly smell wafted through the air, delicious and comforting. The soup was still warm, small pieces of vegetables bobbing inside the white lake. "I'm not hungry," I said quietly.
"Eat," he insisted in a hard voice.
"I don't want to," I mumble. "I'm not hungry."
His jaw clenched. "Eat."
"Madden," he said flatly. "Eat it."
My breath caught in my throat. Fuck. It was the first time I had heard him say my name and it felt so wrongly right, rolling off his tongue in a perfect symphony. I stared at him, my heart tripping, before dipping the spoon in and lifting it to my lips.
Obviously, he made this. "It's good," I admit softly. For the first time in a week, I kind of had an appetite.
"Of course it is," he replied smoothly. I took another sip and I could feel it pool in my stomach, warming me up from the inside out. I almost moaned, my eyes closing. He knew how to cook, that's for damn sure.
I mumbled a small, "Thank you," to him and he pursed his lips, nodding.
"And thank you," I said quietly. "For Patrick."
He watched me carefully as I ate, not replying. I finished about half of the container before setting it back down on the nightstand. For a second, I thought he would make me eat all of it and I was pretty sure I couldn't do that. He starts getting up and I felt a twinge of disappointment. I couldn't very well ask him to stay.
Instead, he stood up, walking around to the other side of the bed and sitting down next to me, back against the headboard. He was still dressed from what he normally wore to class, but his suit was removed and his sleeves had been cuffed revealing the tattoos spreading across his forearm. "Could I?" he murmured, his hand reached towards my face yet again.
I blink several times before realizing what he was asking.
I leaned into him, nodding. His hand brushed over my forehead, sweeping my hair to the side. His touch was so gentle. It was a moment of rarity for him that he was being affectionate without sex prior. His arm wrapped around my shoulder and he pulled me against his torso.
His finger hooked under my chin, tipping my head up. Forcing me to look him in the eyes, he pressed his lips against mine.