Family Ties - (Book 3 of the Marvelous 3 Saga)

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7 - Homecoming

Kiara lay on Rhea’s bed, flipping through a magazine while Rhea’s tan kitten nestled next to her fast asleep. She recounted back to the past few days, as they had been quite... strange...

The brothers were absent for almost the entire week when she got her period. She couldn’t remember anything from the night before, just that Peter was still very upset with her. Elijah was the only Blackbourne besides Evangeline that she would see. Whenever she inquired about Cole, Alexander, and Peter’s whereabouts, he said they were either running an errand, or Cole was at practice or Alexander at the art studio. Kiara was convinced Peter was still angry with her for reasons she still didn’t know. She was surprised that it saddened her not to see any of them, especially Alexander. They had been making so much progress in their relationship. Elijah reassured her that she had done nothing wrong and even bothered to spend more time with her as she ranted to him about her classes.

She was surprised to come down one morning, just as her period was ending, to see Alexander sitting at the kitchen table with Elijah:

“Alexander!” She ran up to him and hugged him tightly, taking him completely by surprise. For physical affection was foreign to him. He hesitantly returned the embrace before she sheepishly pulled back from him. “Jeez! I feel like I haven’t seen you in forever!” she said, opening the kitchen cabinet to grab a granola bar.

“Sorry, I’ve been... busy...” he said, watching her closely. His bright blue eyes glimmered as they eagerly roamed her body, almost as if he were trying to re-memorize the lines of her curves.

“At the art studio, huh? I’ve definitely gotta come check it out. See where you spend most of your time when you’re not being a recluse here,” she teased.

Alexander swallowed hard as Elijah cleared his throat. “Why do you have such a large bag, Kiara?” Elijah asked, trying to redirect the conversation.

Kiara looked down at the duffel bag she was holding. “Oh! I meant to tell you! I’m sleeping over at Rhea’s tonight.”

Alexander narrowed his eyes in disappointment. “Rhea?” Elijah asked surprised as he leaned back in his seat. “Rhea... that’s your... friend, correct?”

“Mhm! One of the first ones I met when I started at Excalibur. She’s super sweet. I’m sleeping over tonight so we can go to Homecoming together. I hope that’s alright,” she said, packing her bag with her lunch.

“Of course...” Elijah said, trying to mask the irritation in his voice. “Please make sure to let us know when you’ve arrived at her home safely.”

“I will!” she said, answering a text as she headed for the door.

“Do you want a ride?” Alexander asked quickly.

“No, it’s okay! I wasn’t sure I’d see you today, so I asked Rhea to pick me up. She’s already at the corner of the block. See ya guys later!” She was out the door before Alexander had a chance to protest.

“Oh my gosh, Kiara! You still haven’t picked out a movie yet?!”

Kiara looked towards the door to see Rhea walking into the bedroom with a bowl of popcorn and two bottles of soda in her hand. “Oh shoot... was that what I was supposed to be doing?” Kiara asked.

“Uh... YEA!” Rhea said, throwing a popcorn kernel at her.

“Sorry!” Kiara laughed as she sat up on the bed.

Rhea put the popcorn and drinks on a tray on the bed. “Scoot your boot, Mr. Feeny,” she said, pushing her kitten off the bed.

“I still can’t believe you named him after the principal from Boy Meets World,” Kiara laughed.

“He’s the best character on the show. I’d name my child after him if I could,” Rhea smirked.

“You sure Levi would approve of that,” Kiara teased. Rhea’s face flushed slightly as a small smile came to her face. “Oh jeez! Lovesickness alert!” Kiara blurted.

Rhea laughed out loud. “Sorry. Levi talks about us having kids all the time.”

Kiara’s eyes bulged. “What?! But you’re still so young! Girl, you got time.”

“It’s less about time and more that Levi just... really gets turned on by the thought of me bearing his children...” Rhea chuckled nervously.

“Oh, lord! He sounds like a horn dog,” Kiara rolled her eyes.

“He totally is. Levi is 110% a horn dog... and I love it.”

“Alright, ya freak-a-leak!” Kiara said, throwing a pillow at her face as Rhea laughed.

“What?! I’m so serious. The whole family is like that, Kiara!” Rhea said, munching on popcorn.

“Including Professor Nick?” Kiara asked.

“ESPECIALLY Professor Nick!” Rhea laughed.

“I’m afraid to ask how you know that. I think he has a thing for Marshala,” Kiara said, petting Mr. Feeny. Rhea nearly choked on her popcorn as Kiara looked at her worriedly. She grabbed the bottle of soda and handed it to her. “Are you okay?” Kiara asked.

“Yea,” Rhea coughed as she sipped the soda. “Went down the wrong tube.”

“I still can’t believe he’s Leo’s brother... They seem nothing alike,” Kiara pondered.

“They’re more alike than you know...”

Kiara looked at Rhea. “... Is Leo a horn dog too? I can’t see that. He’s such a sweet, innocent goofball.”

Rhea scoffed. “He’s a goofball for sure. I don’t know about sweet and innocent.”

“Have you guys known each other long?”

Rhea nodded. “He’s like my brother.”

Kiara twisted her mouth, trying to think. “I don’t think I see Leo as a brother at all... Maybe when we were kids, but... something feels so different about him now. The way he looks at me sometimes… I feel...” Rhea watched as Kiara got lost in her thoughts until she abruptly shook her head. “Anyway, it’s probably all in my head. Oh, shoot! I almost forgot to text Elijah and Alexander to let them know I’m here,” she said, pulling out her phone.

Rhea looked at her apprehensively as she kicked her legs out on the floor. “You, uh... you like them? I mean... being around them or whatever...” she asked.

“Yea, they’re really sweet. They’re becoming like my family,” Kiara smiled. She tucked her phone away, after sending the texts. Rhea scoffed as she picked at her carpet. Kiara looked at her curiously. “I take it... you don’t like them...”

Rhea looked at her and gave an uneasy frown. “I’m not really a fan of the ‘Blackbournes’...”

Kiara tilted her head to the side. “How come?”

“I just don’t like them,” she said curtly. Kiara frowned and Rhea immediately felt guilty. “I’m sorry, Kiara. I don’t mean to upset you. I know you have to live with them or whatever. But just... be careful, okay?”

Kiara looked at Rhea confused. This was the second time someone told her to be careful around the Blackbournes. She wondered what that really meant. She wanted to probe further, but seeing how much it upset Rhea, she settled for not asking additional questions. She didn’t like how cold Rhea would become whenever she mentioned any of the brothers. “Okay...” Kiara said softly.

They started a movie that Rhea picked out and got comfy on the bed. Kiara noticed an old, strange-looking book sticking out of one of her drawers. She went to touch and she once again got sucked in as her mind flashed:

~

“Levi! Stop it! I’m not ready yet!”

“Well, hurry your little sexy ass up! It’s been hours!”

“So dramatic. It’s barely been 20 minutes...”

Levi grunted in frustration as he paced the front of the bathroom, waiting for Rhea to emerge. He ran his fingers through his hair for the umpteenth time before yelling at the door again. “RHEA!”

“Oh my gosh! You’re so impatient! Fine!” Rhea stepped out of the bathroom, wearing a white lace baby doll lingerie that just barely made it to her thighs from her large belly.

Levi’s mouth dropped as he stared at her wide-eyed and nearly started to salivate. “Oh... kroshka... you look so fucking sexy,” he groaned, immediately grabbing her.

“Levi! That’s not what I went in there for!” she said, slapping his hand away.

“I’m sorry, princess. You were in there for so long I forgot what you even went in there for.” He licked his lips as his eyes roamed all over her body.

She rolled her eyes and smiled at him. “Levi... baby... They’re both wolves,” she said, rubbing her belly.

Levi’s eyes lit up. “BOTH OF THEM?! Avril AND Eduard?!” She beamed at him and excitedly nodded her head. He let out a yelp and immediately picked her up in his arms. “Look at that! 100% Volkov! Through and through!” he said as he placed her on the bed. He carefully maneuvered around her belly before cupping her face and kissing her deeply.

~

Kiara immediately pulled her hand back as she jumped with fright. Rhea quickly looked over at her. “Kiara? Are you okay?” she asked. Kiara’s eyes were widened in shock as she just stared at the strange book. “Kiara?” Rhea called again.

“Y-yea... I’m...I’m fine...” she stammered. She moved closer to Rhea on the bed and away from the book.

~*~

“Give me an ‘L’! Give me an ‘E’! Give me an ‘O’! What does that spell? LEO!” Kiara dramatically shuffled her feet before dropping down to her knee and putting her arms in the air.

“God, Kiara,” Rhea rolled her eyes as Leo approached the two girls standing at the back of the school’s football field.

“Thanks for coming out girls,” Leo said, hugging Kiara. “I’m… really glad you came, Angel.”

“Wait, I’m not done,” Kiara said, shooing his hands away. “L.E.O. What does that stand for? HERO! Say it with me now, HERO!” she said clapping her hands to an imaginary beat.

“That’s the most basic and nonsensical cheer I’ve ever heard,” Rhea laughed.

“Rhea, don’t be a hater, trying to kill my vibe,” Kiara scowled at her.

“I love it,” Leo grinned. “Who needs those other cheerleaders when I have you, Angel?” Kiara felt her cheeks warm up as Leo stared into her eyes.

“Leo could also stand for loser since they both start with an L,” Rhea interrupted teasingly.

“Thanks, RiRi. I really appreciate the support,” Leo said sarcastically. Rhea and Kiara chuckled when one of the football players ran by and patted Leo on the shoulder.

“We’re starting in 10!” the player said before running off. Leo nodded and set his eyes back on Kiara.

“I guess I better go,” Leo said, looking down at Kiara. “Wish me luck?”

“Like you’ll need it,” Kiara smiled as she playfully punched him in the shoulder. “I’ll be watching, Leo.”

Leo smiled at her and quickly jogged towards the field. Kiara watched him, her eyes lingering on his majestic form when she heard Rhea clear her throat. She looked at Rhea who seemed as if she were trying to hold back a grin. “It’s like I’m not even here,” Rhea teased.

“Oh, shut up,” Kiara rolled her eyes with a smirk as Rhea laughed.

~*~

Kiara and Rhea squeezed through the large crowd of students in the bleachers, overlooking the vast football field. The university’s marching band clashed their cymbals as the trumpets loudly blared. Cheerleaders danced their routine as students shouted with excitement. The night air was electrified with the evening’s festivities in anticipation of Excalibur University’s Homecoming football game.

“So, is our team good or do we like… suck monkey balls?” Kiara asked Rhea. She tried to look over the students’ heads to the field below.

“We’re actually one of the top schools in the state. Not surprising when Leo’s our starting quarterback,” Rhea said.

“Really?! Well alright, Leo! Go ’head with yo bad self,” Kiara said as Rhea laughed.

Jenny led the cheerleaders in the dance routine as she shook her hips to the marching band’s music. “Ugh... that wench is a cheerleader?” Kiara said in disgust.

“Worse... she’s the cheer captain...” Rhea muttered.

“Oh, of course, she is!” Kiara said, rolling her eyes. They watched as the cheerleaders rolled out the large homecoming banner before the football players plowed through it, ripping it in half. Leo led the charge as he waved at the crowd with his helmet in his hand.

“WOO! GO, LEO! WOO!” Kiara and Rhea cheered. Leo immediately zeroed in on Kiara and gave her a big smile as he waved back.

“Damn! How’d he find us in this big ol’ crowd!” Kiara said.

“There’s not that many of us chocolate chips in this big, white macadamia nut cookie, Kiara,” Rhea teased. Kiara burst into laughter. She looked back down at Leo to see Jenny strolling over to him. She plopped a big, wet, sloppy kiss on his cheek.

“EW! Did she just give him an STD?!” Kiara scoffed.

Rhea threw her head back, roaring with laughter. “That’s Jenny for ya. Always whoring herself out to any athlete that’ll have her. Leo’s the star quarterback, so, of course, she’s set her sights on him...”

“I’ll remind him to scrub his face later...” Kiara murmured. They all settled down in the stands as the game got started.

Nearly halfway into the game, Kiara decided to take a break. “I’ll be back in a few,” she said, getting up. “I promised Alexander I’d see him during the homecoming game.”

Rhea hesitated. “Are you sure that’s a good idea?”

Kiara gave her a flat-faced look. “He’s my friend, Rhea...” Rhea sighed as Kiara hopped off the bleachers and headed towards the building.

~*~

“I don’t think anyone is going to come, Alexander. What with homecoming happening today.”

“It’s alright. I mainly do this for myself anyway,” Alexander said to the art professor, standing in the doorway. With a nod and warm, wrinkled smile on her aged face, the woman gently placed the key in Alexander’s hand.

“Don’t forget to lock up,” she reminded him.

He nodded in acknowledgment before closing the door behind her. Walking back to the easel, he quickly discarded his sweatshirt, revealing just a black tank underneath that clung sensually to his perfectly-sculpted body. Perching himself on the stool, he let out a relieved sigh as his long slender fingers grasped the wooden paintbrush. He reveled in the splintered wood against his fingers before slowly dipping the brush into the paint and whisking away at the easel. The setting sun was his only light as the room darkened around him.

Alexander loved these moments. Though he was essentially a volunteer to teach the art of painting and sculpting in the only college club he was a part of, he often preferred being alone. On occasion, a few people would straggle in. But lately, he seemed to be alone. And there were few things he enjoyed more.

His fingers danced on the easel before him as he let his thoughts carry away with him. His mind went to her and the dance of his paintbrush took a rather different turn. His colors strayed from pink and green to brown and yellow. His mind projected her face like a hologram, and a small smile crossed his pink lips as he let himself go.

His eyes abruptly opened as he turned to the door. There she was.

“Jeez! Slow day, is it?” Kiara said, stepping into the room. Her eyes wandered the room, taking in its messy colors and random paintings and sculptures laid about haphazardly.

Then her eyes rested on him. “Hey, you,” she smiled brightly.

That smile made his heart flutter. “Hey...”

Alexander watched her with probing eyes as she crossed the room and settled her book bag on the floor. She took a minute to tour the room, her skirt swaying with each step she took. “This is my first time in this room, and I already feel like I’ve been missing out. I can see why you love it here,” she said.

Alexander responded to her with somber silence. His eyes followed her until she came to join him by the easel. She looked at the painting before him and rubbed gently at her cheek as she pondered it. That simple movement alone, watching her finger stroke her cheek, stirred him.

“Did you paint this?” she asked him, taking in the detail of the art.

“Yes...”

“It’s beautiful!” She admired what seemed to be a rose transforming into a woman... A woman painted brown, which surprised her. The painting was detailed enough to make out the woman’s shape but not her face. “You’re so talented,” she smiled at him.

“Thank yo-... may I ask why you’re here?” he said, feeling thrown off.

She frowned, feigning offense. “I thought you were teaching today.”

“I thought you were kidding about coming.”

“Why would I kid about that? I’m genuinely interested!” she laughed.

Alexander analyzed her for a moment before lightly chuckling. His soft laughter sent a wave of warmth over her. She loved hearing his laugh the few rare times he did. “What did you want to learn?” he asked.

She stroked her chin a bit as she thought. “I planned on buying Evangeline a vase for some roses, but it might be more endearing if I made one.”

“You just plan on jumping right in there, don’t you,” he smirked at her.

“Go big or go home,” she shrugged, laughing.

“Alright. Well, you’ll want to get comfortable. Do you have a change of clothes? It tends to get messy when working with clay.”

“Mm, I’ll just take off my sweater. I have an undershirt on anyways.” Alexander tried not to be obvious as he watched her quickly discard her sweater and lay it on her bag on the floor. Her white undershirt clung a bit indecently to her chest, but she didn’t seem to notice or care as she settled on the stool next to him. “Teach me, senpai!” she teased.

He shook his head with a smirk and placed a mound of clay on the wheel in front of her. He took a seat on the stool opposite her and started up the wheel as his hands began to mold the clay. “You can shape the clay as you please. Just move your hands along the outside and from within like this.” He stuck his hand in the middle to carve out the center. “Think you can handle that?” he asked, looking up at her.

“Piece of cake,” she smiled. She placed her hands on the clay and started to shape it. He stepped aside, allowing her to work and turned back to his easel to continue painting.

Kiara got the sense that Alexander preferred being alone, especially when it came to his art. But she couldn’t help wanting to be around him. She wanted to share this with him. She craved his presence. “Maybe not a piece of cake,” she chuckled nervously.

Alexander leaned over to the side and snickered when he saw her lopsided vase. “What happened to it?” he teased.

“I dunnooo! Help!”

He shook his head with a small smile and got up to walk over to her. He hesitated for a moment as he watched her as if trying to figure out just how to help her. Kiara nearly dropped her mouth to the floor when she saw Alexander walk around her and sit behind her on the large wooden stool. She scooted her butt forward, nearly falling off the edge just to give him some room. She felt her body temperature surge to scorching temperatures as he wrapped his arms around her, his large hands covering hers. His hands were cold as ice, yet somehow it soothed her. She nearly panicked when she felt his chin nestle just over her shoulder.

“...You have to be gentle with it... Only small, tender movements are needed to shape it how you please... like this...” His voice was a low and deep tickle in her ear. She bit down hard on her bottom lip as his fingers slipped through hers. The thick liquid of the clay dripped over both of their hands as they molded the clay together.

Alexander could feel Kiara’s heart rate speed up. It made him smile. Her scent was intoxicating, and with each nervous breath she took, he felt himself leaning further into her. When he felt her body relax against him, he shifted his hands down to her wrists and forearms.

Kiara frowned, saying a little prayer, hoping he wouldn’t remove his touch from her completely. “...Like this?” she said, turning her head slightly, trying to get a peek of him. He looked at her to see her lips dangerously close to his. He had told himself he wouldn’t tempt himself like this...

“...Yes...” His answer was breathy and she felt it on her lips. Anxious to close the space between them, she leaned in and placed her lips on his. His lips were surprisingly soft, and very cold synonymous with any part of his body that she ever came in contact with.

Kiara worried that she had gone too far and went to remove her lips when he leaned in further and returned the kiss with ferocious, tender passion. She immediately felt herself melt into him as she closed her eyes and deepened the kiss. She went to pull her hands away from the clay so she could lean back against him, but he stopped her, quickly removing his lips from hers.

“No... keep going...” he said softly. He gently placed her hands back on the clay. Kiara frowned, confused by his concern more for the pottery than the fact that they shared their first kiss. She turned to face the clay again when she felt his breath on the nape of her neck and the hardness of his chest pressed up against her back. His lips teased the loose curls and soft skin on the back of her neck. She tingled with aroused excitement.

Alexander felt goosebumps on Kiara’s skin as he gently caressed her forearms. He ran his fingers against the back of her hands before lacing them between hers again and guiding them along the clay. “Lessen your grip... soften the pressure...” He slid his fingers alongside hers and gently nuzzled the crook of her neck with his nose. He could feel her shivering against him.

He guided her hand into the open center of the clay to give it a narrower shape. “Tease the middle a little...”

Kiara’s breathing became haggard as she felt herself coming undone with Alexander’s intensity. With his instruction to tease the center, she felt his own teasing set her on fire as his lips again gently caressed the skin on her neck. The coolness of his tongue dodging between his lips to taste her made her jump. She cleared her throat, struggling to focus. “Is it your intent to be such a distraction?” she asked.

She felt him chuckle lowly against her in such a sexy way it astounded her that she didn’t jump him already. “I was going for... inspiration...”

“Inspiration huh?” she said. She played with the clay, moving about it freely without his direction. He sat for a moment behind her, watching her movements. She delicately maneuvered her fingers, creating a subtle curved design on the side.

“You’re learning,” he nodded approvingly.

She smiled too soon as her finger soon after made an ugly indent on the side. “Oh jeez...” she pouted.

“Here...” He guided her hands to fix the indent by rolling her thumb against the inside of the soft wet clay. “Remember, you have to be gentle... tender... mold it to your desire...”

“Are you still talking about the clay, Alexander...?” she asked innocently, not daring to look at him. He sucked in his breath for a moment and slowly let it out. Resting his hands just below the edge of her skirt, mid-thigh, he had tried to keep his hands off of her for his own sake. But the minute his hands grazed the warm skin on her thigh, it was like a magnet pulled him to her.

Kiara didn’t think she could possibly feel any hotter, but she was wrong. Her excitement increased when she felt Alexander’s hands on her thighs. This was very bold. Especially for him. She knew it had to do with her provocative question. But she needed things to move faster. She craved him.

She rested her hands on the turntable and stopped it from spinning before she turned around to face him. He looked at her in surprise at her abrupt end. “Are you done? There’s still so much I can show you,” he said.

“I want you to show me something else right now...” she said with such heat she surprised even herself.

He raised a surprised brow, intrigued by her boldness. He was expecting her to do what she usually did in their tense situations and make a joke or awkwardly try to change the subject. “What do you want me to show you?” he asked expectantly. His hands tensed slightly on her thighs as he felt her lean in towards him.

When her lips met his again, Alexander knew the best thing to do was push her away. But her body seemed to mold so well against his that his arms instinctively wrapped around her, pulling her body tightly pressed against his. Her kiss was eager, excited, new, and wanting. Taking no notice for the clay on her hands, she ran her fingers along his biceps and over his shoulders, reveling in the silk coolness of his skin. She wrapped her hands around the base of his neck, leaving traces of clay on his arms from her soft caresses.

She scooted closer till she was nearly straddling him. A moan escaped her mouth as she felt his lips scour her chin and descend to her neck. Alexander tightened his grip on her waist as he felt the heat from her core radiating against him. It sent him on edge as he pushed his hardened erection against her, eliciting a wanting moan from her lips.

He became infatuated with the soft skin on her neck as he rubbed his lips against the indent between her neck and shoulder. His tongue darted out to lick her and he immediately felt his erection pulsate with a vengeance. A ravenous desire overwhelmed him as his eyes flickered before darkening. As his lips sucked on her neck he felt the sharp point of his fangs and his eyes widened in shock.

He immediately pushed himself away from her, collapsing to the floor. Kiara looked at him confused as he scrambled away from her. “Alexander?” she said, moving towards him.

“STOP!” he yelled, putting his hand up. She jumped startled. She had never heard him get that loud before. “S-sorry...” he groaned, covering his face. He stood to his feet and looked down at her. Guilt, shame, and desire danced in his bright blue irises as he shoved his hands into his pockets.

“Are you okay?” she asked him.

“I... I shouldn’t have done that...” he said regretfully. He knew Elijah would kill him if he found out what they had done. He knew he was supposed to stay away, but Kiara made it impossible.

She frowned as she got up and approached him. He hesitated but she quickly grabbed his arm to keep him from moving away. “... Did you not like it?” she asked.

“No, I did... I definitely did, Kiara,” Alexander said, swallowing hard. His fingers itched to touch her again. His lips were desperate to taste her once more. She smiled up at him and tilted her head back to kiss him. He stared down at her. Her eyes closed, her lips parted, waiting for him... He hesitated... Elijah’s words echoing in his mind…

Kiara once again felt her temperature skyrocket as Alexander’s lips met hers but only briefly. She opened her eyes to see him giving her a genuine smile. “We should go... The game’s almost over,” he said to her.

She cleaned the clay off of her skin and slipped her sweater back on before putting her backpack over her shoulders. “Are you coming?” she said, looking back at him.

“I’ll meet you out there. I’m going to clean up first,” he said. She nodded and headed out the door.

~*~

Kiara headed down the dark hallway, smiling to herself. She touched her lips with her fingers, reveling in how much she loved feeling Alexander’s lips against hers. She already wanted to feel him again.

“Kiara...”

She slowed her steps and looked up quickly at the sound of her name. “Yes?” she asked out into the dark but received no response. Just the band music and cheering of students outside on the field. She continued to walk, her eyes darting, trying to see in the dark.

“Kiara...”

She quickly spun around and saw an indistinguishable figure standing in one of the classroom entryways. She heard a dull, munching sound emanating from it. It seemed to be hovering over something lying on the ground.

“It’s just my imagination,” she breathed out. She closed her eyes and started to back away from it. “It’s just my imagination. There’s nothing really there, Kiara. There’s nothing there,” she said, taking deep breaths and trying not to panic.

Suddenly, the hulking figure straightened up and looked around. She immediately recognized those terrifying blood-red eyes from the creature that attacked her in the hospital parking lot. She picked up her pace as she continued to walk backward, trying not to make noise and draw attention to herself. Her eyes were wide with fear. The ground shook slightly as the creature turned around to face her and headed straight for her. She immediately turned on her heels and ran for the nearest exit.

~*~

Marshala packed up her purse and turned off the lights in her office before closing the door behind her. She exited the building and headed down the stairs of the Admissions building when she saw a tall, lean man in a long coat standing near one of the lamp posts. His sharp blue eyes followed her, watching her every movement. She slowed her steps before stopping midway on the staircase. She held her breath as her eyes shifted anxiously.

“Hello, Marshala...”

She took one step back up the stairs as the man walked in her direction, stopping at the base of the stairs. “Elijah… You’re not allowed in this school...” she said nervously.

“‘Building’... The treaty said I wasn’t allowed in the building...” Elijah casually looked around him before looking back up at her with an innocent smile. “I’m still on the sidewalk, mon coeur.” Marshala took another cautious step up the stairs away from him. “You look lovely, Marshala.”

“It’s just my work clothes, Elijah...”

“You’ve always looked perfect, no matter what you wore,” he smiled charmingly. “...Or didn’t wear...”

Marshala cleared her throat as she nervously shifted her bag. “Why are you here? It’s dangerous for you to be out like this...”

“I came for the only reason you allow me to come near you nowadays...” he said softly.

Marshala looked at him and slowly exhaled. “I believe Kiara’s watching the game...”

“I have some concerns, Marshala... We need to talk,” Elijah said.

“Eli-” Marshala started when suddenly they heard a loud scream come from inside the building. Marshala looked at Elijah with wide eyes.

“KIARA!”

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