Chapter 29: Do You Love Me?
Monday Evening 8:28pm
It’s so cold. I can’t feel the ends of my fingers. Out here in the middle of nowhere, posted up against my car. Something told me to go here, not quite myself. Frankly, I don’t even know what here is. I dropped my location to Xander about 15 minutes ago.
There are Evergreen and dead trees everywhere, a canopy of snowy nature surrounding me. The floor of the woods are covered in snow, littered by animal tracks, my tire marks and various footprints trailing deeper into the trees.
Deus, what am I doing?
Lately, it seems I have developed this strange obsession with putting myself in danger. Swift movements of animals crunch their ways through the dark woods to head for safety from the night. Exactly what I should be doing. Yet, here I am. They’re probably wondering why the hell a girl like me would wander out into the middle of the woods at such an hour.
Yeah, me too, Bio Life.
The sound of a car engine enters into the silence. I much rather enjoyed it before it was interrupted.
My heart begins pounding.
The anticipation of telling him is the worst part.
Xander’s car moves up beside mine, it’s lights penetrating what was almost complete darkness.
I want to smile at the fact that he agreed to meet me in such an absurd place. The situation at hand is the only thing hindering me from doing so.
The lights dim and the engine dies.
“Jesus, Saphyre, it took me forever to find this place.” Xander complains walking out of his warm car, wearing a grey fleece jacket and bravely, no gloves.
I covered up from head to toe with a long black scarf, a pink beanie and pink wool gloves.
Xander circles around his car to approach me.
“You actually got here faster than I expected,” I admit, attempting a lame smile up at him. Something just tells me this isn’t a good idea. If I may be honest, it has gotten easier to talk to him. After tonight though, we are sure to be back at square one.
Or maybe worse.
Almost too suddenly, he gathers me in his arms. This catches me way off guard.
“Gia told me.”
My chest runs colder than it already was, which makes me kind of choke. Yet, I hide it, like everything else. “Told you what?” My words get muffled by his fleece.
“Everything about the weird guy Leon and how he’s connected to Aster’s disappearance,” He holds me tighter, “No one ever told me about the accident, Saphyre.”
I break away from his embrace, “You really didn’t know?”
He shakes his head, then raises his arms over his head, “Thing is, if you almost died, where are your scars, you should have needed facial reconstruction or something but, it’s as if it never even happened.”
I didn’t even think of that. I look at myself every night, and I’ve never been keen to search for scars. Other than birthmarks and a few minor scratches here and there from unknown events, my skin is damage-free. No stitch scars anywhere that I’m privy to, no openings that lead to hair loss around my head.
It’s as if it never happened...
“This is all crazy.” I whisper, digging my head into my palms. God, once again this is so unfair to Xander, but who else do I have to turn to? Trey would never understand and that’s the only explanation I can think of for him. Gia is already aware and Mae would naturally freak out. John is an immediate and firm hell no.
“You can’t go, Saphyre.” Xander pulls me in his arms again, clutching the back of my head, “I won’t let you go, I’ll keep you safe, you won’t have to worry about him anymore.”
This is a bad idea. Me telling anyone about anything was a bad idea. It’ll make people start caring way more than they should. Xander and I just started....well, talking again, and now this?
As soon as things begin looking up, something always gets in the way of progression. I will not allow Xander and Gia, my only trustworthy allies thus far to get into this shit.
They do not deserve this.
“No.” I demand breaking away from him. I walk to the edge of the woods looking out into the city below me.
Think Pilates, Saphyre.
Inhale, andddd exhale....
It’s time you choose, your time is more than run out.
“I have to go, Xander.” I say without turning. The cold winter winds burn my face, and freezes the cartilage of my ears.
Fast footsteps approach me, “Saphyre, listen to me, none of anything that happened to Aster even if it did happen-”
“What do you mean if it happened?” My voice hardens and I can feel the skin on my head furrow as I look up at Xander’s unreadable expression, “You think my mom would lie to me about my near death?”
Xander huffs, “Not that part, the part where you have to save him, if he’s such an angel why can’t he break out of the place his goddamn self, and why would Aster need the girl he used to adore to take his place?”
“Ez-Leon pulled us from that accident that night, whatever was supposed to kill me, didn’t, and furthermore, it was my fault!” I say between gritted teeth.
“That still leaves the question as to why he needs you of all people!” Xander shouts.
I face him full on, “Leon knows where he is, and my friend is in danger,” I scoff, “If it wasn’t already evident from that night you crawled in my window, I wasn’t raised a bitch, Xander.”
He blinks as if awakened from a deep trance. My chest is tight again. Like I’m about to break down or something. But I’m too angry to do that.
“You loved him, didn’t you, Saphyre?”
“Why does everyone keep fucking asking that?!” I shout, squeezing the air.
Xander’s breath puffs in the air, “Because it’s true, you always have,” Xander whispers. He sighs and takes my hand firmly. His eyes fall to the ground, to the space I made between us.
“Maybe I did,” I answer softly, “But even if I didn’t, I wouldn’t leave you to rot in hell if you were there.” I place a hand on his cold cheek.
Xander looks up at me in all earnest, “If Aster was in my place at this very moment, Saphyre,” He releases me violently, “You wouldn’t even notice that I was gone.” The space he was in is quickly replaced by cold air.
Much colder than winter.
He really just said what I thought he said.
“Xander Endo, how can you say something like that, I was just as much of a friend to Aster as I was to you!”
“That’s bull shit and you fucking know it!” Xander shouts back at me from his car. He opens the door then hesitates.
I stop in my tracks, before crossing the bumper to approach him.
He steps before me with an unforgiving smile on his face, “Do you love me?”
His smile grows wider, and a tear trails down a cheek, “Have you ever loved me?”