Xavier was waiting on my porch swing for me with coffee. “How are you?”
“Does that hurt?” he asked as he gingerly traced the bruise on my face.
We sat in an awkward silence for al on moment then both started at the same time, then we both insisted the other go first.
“Juliet, ladies first.” Xavier insisted.
I sighed but nodded. “Alright. Xavier, I’m confused.”
“Us? Me and you.”
Xavier nodded. “What are you confused about?”
“You’re my advisor, but you’re also more than that and we both know it.”
Xavier nodded as he patiently waited for me to go on.
“What I don’t understand is what more is exactly.”
“What do you want more to be?”
“I don’t know.” I answered honestly, feeling completely naked and exposed.
“Well, you have to figure that part out. I will abide by you decision, whatever it may be.”
“Why are you so understanding?” I groaned. “I don’t know what to do. You’re my advisor, tell me!” I huffed.
“Would you like me to tell you what I would like to do right now?”
“Yes, yes, actually I would.”
Xavier took the coffee from my hands and put both of our mugs on the ground. He leaned over and whispered, “This.” before his lips met mine. After a moment he pulled away. “Now what do you want to do?”
“I want to do that again.” I smiled and pulled him back to me. Our mouths met and there was a hunger to it. My hands tangled themselves in his hair and I pressed my lips harder against his. I wanted more. Xavier’s arms slid around my waist and he managed to lower us down without our lips separating. My lips trailed away from his lips to his neck and he moaned softly. His lips trailed down my neck to my collar bone, nibbling her and there and it sent chills through my body. He made his way back up my neck teasingly slow. I couldn’t help but squirm. I wanted os much more in that moment. My hands slip up his shirt and traced his abs, up to his sculpted chest. I was pulling his shirt off when someone cleared their throat behind us. I jump and knocked Xavier off the swing and then managed to fall off myself in an ungraceful heap. I felt the color rush to my face, I had to be beet red at least.
“Good morning, lovebirds.” Amanda smirked from the doorway, a cigarette hanging between her lips. “I hate to interrupt but I have an impressionable three-year-old, and I really don’t want his earliest memory of Juliet to be her having sex on the porch swing.
I didn’t think my face could get any hotter, but after that statement is certainly did. “We weren’t-”
“Not yet.” Amanda chortled. “But it’s about damn time you did that though. I was going to intervene if you didn’t kiss that boy already.”
“I’m going to quote a very stupid girl who says very smart things, ‘it’s only as complicated as you make it.’ Do we remember who said this?”
“Right, it was you when I was making excuses not to leave my abusive husband. Now stop making excuses and do what you want, just please, do it in the bedroom.” Amanda winked, put her cigarette and went back inside. I looked over at Xavier who was picking himself up.
“Are you alright?”
“I’m fine.” I stretched and Xavier pulled me to my feet. “Well, that wasn’t awkward or anything.” I laughed, as I hoped the embarrassment wasn’t as blatantly obvious as it felt to me.
“Perhaps it’s for the best.” Xavier smiled down at me.
“She’s right, you know. She does have an impressionable child.”
I crossed my arms and turned away from him looking out in the direction of the beach.
“Come here.” Xavier whispered as his arms wrapped around me. I let him pull me against him. “Relax.” He murmured against my ear and I shuddered. He turned me in his arms. “Look at me.” he whispered. I looked up into those chocolaty brown eyes and saw something that both exhilarated and terrified me. Xavier smiled down at me from those last inches away. His lips met mine and his lips were soft. He pulled away before I was ready. “Let’s go inside.”
Xavier and I ended up snuggling in my bed watching movies. Well, sort of watching. Every few minutes we’d get distracted by each other. I wasn’t sure about what I was feeling. I hadn’t felt anything like this before. I’d cared about people before, there was even a time where I had been in love Chase. But this didn’t feel anything like that. It was with a start that I realized how much I really wanted Xavier. I was physically attracted to him, yes, but it was more than that. I wanted more than that. And I wanted more that this. We were once again distracted from the movie and I started to kiss down his neck and he moaned softly. My hands wandered and it didn’t take them long to find and their way under his shirt. I tugged at it and without hesitation Xavier pulled it off. I marveled at his sculpted chest and abs.
“What?” Xavier asked, sounding off guard.
“I’ve never seen you without a shirt.”
A very masculine smiled crossed his lips. “And?”
“What do you think?”
I rolled my eyes and couldn’t help but laugh. Xavier chose this moment to flip me over and kissed me. His lips trailed kissed down my neck and across my collar bone and back up my neck to nibble on my ear. I squirmed at the sensation until he eventually made his way back to my lips. I wrapped my fingers in his hair and pulled him against me. It was right about this time that Maverick threw open my door and bounded in.
“Hey you!” Maverick shouted. We both glanced over and he was wearing his Spiderman underpants, a cowboy hat and cape. “Get off my Aunt Juliet!” Maverick growled as he brandished his light saber and smacked Xavier as hard as he couldn’t and didn’t stop until Xavier moved away from me. I couldn’t help it, I burst out laughing. “Aunt Juliet, are you okay? I saved you from the bad guy.”
“I’m okay, Maverick. I promise.” I laughed. Xavier seemed rather put out and the look on his face was priceless. “Where is your mommy?”
“In the shower. She told me not to come in here, but I heard voices and I had to make sure he wasn’t hurting you.”
“Awww, that’s so sweet. Isn’t it Xavier?”
Maverick’s eyes narrowed. “I’m watching you.” He warned and sat himself in my lap. “Aunt Juliet, what of you want for lunch?”
“Is that your way of saying you’re hungry?”
Maverick nodded with a toothy grin on his face.
“Tell you what, go figure out what you want and I’ll be there in just a minute. Okay?”
“Kay!” Maverick hopped down and scampered out of the room.
“You okay?” I asked as I turned to Xavier.
“I know how hard he can hit.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yes.” Xavier grumbled.
“Aww are you pouting?”
“Of course not.” Xavier snapped.
“Aww, it’s cute.” Xavier let out an indignant snort. “Aww, come here.” I coaxed and Xavier glared out the corner of his eye at me. “Xavier, come here.” I whispered as I kissed him lightly on the lips. “Better?”
Xavier rolled his eyes and was about to say something when we were interrupted once again.
“Aunt Juliet, are you coming?” Maverick demanded with his little arms crossed.
“Of course, Maverick.” I laughed. “Come on, you.” I pulled Xavier with me.
I made Maverick a grilled cheese and he was happy. I just sat on the couch with Xavier and turned on the tv. It was nice just cuddling. It wasn’t long before Amanda was finished and joined us. After we told her what Maverick decided to do, she decided it was a Mommy mental health day, so she took Maverick to her parents house, leaving the house to Xavier and myself. We just spent the day together. We snuggled on the couch watching old movies. Xavier thought my love of outdated classics was hilarious.
“Stop laughing, they’re scary not funny.”I pouted.
“That is supposed to be realistic?”
“It was when it was made. It was downright terrifying.”
Xavier burst out in another spurt of laughter. “That is terrifying? That’s about as scary as a bad haircut.”
“Hey, those can be terrifying, too.”
“Juliet, you are ridiculous.”
We laughed and joked, made out, and tickled one another and it all just felt natural. I wasn’t sure what I was feeling, but I wasn’t questioning it. It felt natural and I felt happy. That evening I called England. I called Angelica’s cell phone first.
“Hey Angie, how’s it going?”
“I’m alright, are you? Dad wouldn’t tell me what happened exactly and Mum wants to pretend you don’t even exist anymore.”
Yeah, that sounded like Millie to me. “Well, I’m alive and well. Don’t worry about me.”
“Don’t worry about you? Last time I saw you, you were lying unconscious in a hospital bed fighting for your life! Of course I’m going to worry about you. I told the police what Chase did. How could you have ever been with someone like him?”
“Angie, I’m not having this conversation, least of all over the phone.”
“Juliet, I’m worried about you.”
“Don’t be. Do you know if James is working?”
“He’s in the study, but I’m pretty sure he’s just hiding from Mum.”
“Would you mind going and getting him?”
“Only if you promise to be careful.”
“I mean it.”
“Juliet, if I ever have to watch what happened to you again, I will kill you myself.”
“Oooh, us crazy Americans have tainted you a little bit.” I teased.
“Juliet.” Angelica warned, her voice void of any humor.
“I understand.” I replied, my tone sobered. “I am being more careful. I promise.”
“You better, here’s Dad.”
“The one and only.”
“How are you?”
“Well enough. How about you?”
“I’m fine, when are you coming home?”
“I am home, James.”
“Juliet, Angelica told me what happened. You need to come home.”
“James, I appreciate it, but I am home.”
“Juliet, you need to be around people who care about you.”
“There are people here who care about me. I have a life here.”
James sighed. “You’re your mother’s daughter; you’re going to do whatever you want anyway.”
“I’m worried for your safety.”
“I’m fine, I just wanted to call and tell you I was fine.”
James sighed. “Juliet, I’ve only just found you, I don’t want to lose you. I regret losing your mother every day. I won’t lose you too.”
“James, I don’t feel like having this conversation.”
“No, James. Either we talk about something else or this conversation is over.”
I heard James sigh and knew that was over. “Very well, what are you planning to do?”
“What do you mean?”
“What are you planning to do then? If you don’t intend to come back you must have some idea what you are going to be doing over there.”
“James, I have to go.” I hung up and shook my head.
“Juliet?” I turned and saw Xavier, looking concerned. “What’s wrong?”
“It’s nothing important.” Xavier pulled me into a hug and I pulled away. He didn’t stop me. “It’s nothing. Really.”
“If you say so.” Xavier sighed. “Well, what would you like to do?”
“I think that I want to have some fun.”
Xavier raised an eyebrow. “Oh really? And how do you want to do that?”
I thought for a moment before a lazy smile spread over my lips. I had the perfect idea.
“Juliet! You’re going to catch your death out here!” Xavier shouted chasing me down to the beach, the bottle of schnapps still in my hand.
“Nah!” I smiled. “That’s an old wives tale! You can’t get sick from the cold. The only thing you can really get is hypothermia or frostbite and it’s not cold enough for that.” I shouted back as I ran across the dock. “Hurry Xavier!” I ran to the lifeguard stand and climbed up.
“Juliet! Don’t fall. Be careful.” He called chasing after me.
“What?” I asked as I looked back. “Oh shit!” I lost my grip and landed in the sand. I started laughing hysterically.
“Juliet, are you alright?” Xavier asked, his voice slightly slurred but concern etched in it.
“Yeah! I’m as peachy as my schnapps.” I smiled up at him and took another swig.
“I think you’ve had enough.”
I took another long swig. “Enough? I’m not sure I know what that word means.”
“Juliet. You are drunk.”
“I know!” I burst out laughing. “The stars are so pretty.”
“Yes, yes, they are.”
“Xavier, come down to my level.”
“Give me your hand.”
Xavier extended his hand and I yanked him down and started laughing as he landed beside me. “Ow.” Xavier groaned.
“Aww, I didn’t mean to hurt you.” I rolled over on top of him and kissed him. “I just wanted to do that.”
“You can do that any time.” Xavier smiled as he kissed me back. I rolled off of him and cuddled next to him staring at the clear night sky for I don’t know how long. It was awesome. Then I had a fantastic idea.
“Oh my god!”
“I have a great idea.”
“Let’s go swimming!”
“Juliet, it’s too cold to go swimming.”
“Nu-uh.” I jumped to my feet and pulled my shirt over my head. “Let’s go.” I called as I started pulling off my jeans.
“Juliet!” Xavier hissed. “Put your clothes back on.” I pulled off the rest and ran into the water.
“Come and get me!” I laughed as I crashed into the waves. It wasn’t long before Xavier joined me.
“Juliet, it’s freezing.” Xavier’s teeth chattered.
“Is it?” I was so numb. I must be that drunk.
Xavier pulled me against him. “You’re freezing.”
“You’re warm though.” I wrapped my arms around him. “Let’s go home.”
I woke up and snuggled back into the covers. That’s when I realized the warmth I was feeling was a solid warmth. There was an arm around my back and my head was resting on something very warm and solid.
“What’s the matter, Juliet?” Xavier’s chest vibrated as he spoke softly.
I pretended to be asleep.
“You are awake and we both know it.”
“Morning.” I sighed looking up at him. His eyes were still closed and I would have believed he was still asleep.
“What’s the matter?”
Xavier opened one eye and gave me a skeptical look. “I don’t buy that for one moment. I know you better than that. Tell me what’s bothering you.”
“Did we um…you know.”
Xavier sighed. “I knew this would happen.” He sounded angry now. “I fucking knew.” Xavier removed his arm from my back and moved me away from him. “ I can’t do this.”
“Can’t do what?”
“You. This. I can’t do it.”
“Juliet, last night, you were…insistent. Had I been sober, I would have done the right thing and said no. Three bottles of wine and you found yourself a bottle of peach schnapps and we were gone.”
“And I see the regret etched on your face as clear as day. I won’t do this. I’m going back.” Xavier got out of bed and I couldn’t process what he just said.
“I’m leaving, Juliet. I can’t take this. You only want me when you’re drunk. I won’t be that person for you. I just won’t.”
“I can’t wait anymore.”
It felt the like air had just been knocked out of me. I couldn’t catch my breath. Leaving? He was leaving? What? How could he just leave? I needed him. I needed to be around him. I needed to be with him. He was the first person to let me feel again. I needed him. I wanted him. Oh god. I loved him.
“Then don’t.” I breathed. But he didn’t hear. My door closed behind him and I felt the tears burst forth. I couldn’t have stopped them if I tried. I didn’t. I just let them flow. I curled myself into a ball and sobbed into my pillow doing my best to keep quiet. I didn’t want him to see me like this. I didn’t want him to know how much I needed him. How much I wanted him. How much I wanted to be with him. I didn’t want him to see me weak. I couldn’t believe he was leaving. But if he was leaving, I wouldn’t let him see me weak. I wouldn’t let him see me cry. I was cold. Freezing. Oh god. He was going to leave. I felt the numb I hadn’t felt in ages. I didn’t welcome it back. I knew I was going to be empty again if he left. And it was all my fault.
I hadn’t moved from that spot since he left the room. I hadn’t responded when anyone knocked on the door. I didn’t know what to say or what to do. I just cried myself to sleep. When I would wake up, I would just cry myself back to sleep. I did this until I heard the crash. I looked at the clock. 4:12 am. I was exhausted, but when I heard Maverick scream and then silence I was at full alert. I pulled myself out of bed, my body aching and cramped from not moving. I opened the door and saw him. The son of a bitch himself. Chase was in Maverick’s room. And God help us all, he had a gun.
“Juliet, come here.”
“What are you doing?”
“You are coming with me.”
“What are you doing?”
“I’m getting what is rightfully mine.”
“I’m not yours. And I never will be again. You need to understand that. You lost your chance.”
“Fine, then he loses his chance too.” Chase’s voice was higher than it should have been. He pointed to gun at Maverick’s still form.
“What did you do to him?”
“He was making too much noise. He wouldn’t be quiet.”
“Dude, he’s three. You have a gun. He was scared.”
“I shut him up. I had to. Juliet!”
“Chase, what do you want?”
“I want you. I want you to be mine again.”
“What if I say no.”
“Then I’ll kill him and you. If you won’t be with me, you won’t be with anyone else.”
Oh dear god. Chase had completely gone off the deep end.
“Juliet?” I heard Xavier behind me. He couldn’t see into Maverick’s room. “What was that noise?”
Chase pointed the gun at me and put a finger to his lips. Then he pointed at Maverick and drew his finger across his throat. Those cold blue eyes narrowed.
“I think she’s still sleeping. What’s going on?”
I risked a glance at Xavier and hoped the terror was as plain on my face as it felt. “It’s nothing.” I lied.
“Of course it’s nothing.” Xavier growled. “Since it’s nothing, I should just go back to bed then, shouldn’t I? I have an early flight.”
“No, Juliet, if you want to be this way, that’s fine. I just can’t deal with it anymore.”
I looked back at the room and Chase was nodding. “Xavier, please.” I didn’t know what to say. I knew Chase was crazy. I couldn’t let Maverick get hurt.
“Juliet, unless you have something to tell me, I’m going to bed.”
“Xavier!” I hissed, hoping my voice was as frantic as I felt.
Xavier turned and looked at me. “Please.” I mouthed help. Xavier noticed and eyed me carefully. I looked back in the room and Chase was making a shooing motion with his hand. If Xavier left now, I was screwed either Maverick was going to get hurt or I was going to be forced into something I wanted nothing to do with. Xavier took a tentative step closer.
Chase pointed at me and then pointed in front of himself. He wanted me in that room. That was the last thing I wanted, but I had to get Maverick out of there.
“Juliet?” Xavier asked. “What are you looking at?”
I shook my head, but Chase noticed. “If that prick comes into view I’ll shoot him and the boy both.” I froze.
Xavier immediately was in a fighting stance. “Is that Chase?”
I nodded. “He’s got a gun.”
“I will fucking kill you all.”
“Chase, you don’t want to do that.” I started as calmly as I could.
“Don’t you tell me what I want to do!” Chase shouted.
“Chase, if you kill us all, we can’t be together.” Xavier gave me a reassuring nod as he came closer.
“We can’t be together if you kill me.”
Chase seemed to think this over for a moment. “True.”
“So, I think we should talk. Just talk.”
“Talk about what?”
“No. I don’t want to talk about this.”
“Whatever you want to talk about then.”
“I want you back, Jules. I’ll do anything to make that happen. Anything.” Chase pointed a shaking hand with his finger on the trigger at Maverick. “Come here or I’ll shoot him.”
“Okay, I’m coming. Nice and slow.” I took a tentative step closer. If Chase was going to hurt someone, it wouldn’t be Maverick. I spared him a glance and could already see a bruise blossoming across his face. Oh Chase was so going to pay.
I looked at Chase’s shaking hand. I had one shot at this. If I messed up, well, it wasn’t only myself I was gambling with. “I’m coming, it’s all good, Chase. We don’t have to do it this way. We’re all sensible human beings. We can work this out.” He did what I wanted. He relaxed a fraction and the gun lowered a little to where it wasn’t pointing at Maverick anymore. I did the only thing I could think of. I lunged at him and for the gun. I heard the deafening shot and I felt warm liquid. I looked down and saw the red before anything.
“Juliet!” Xavier screamed. He punched Chase and he was out cold. “Juliet!” Xavier screamed. I knew he was screaming, but it sounded a million miles away. I couldn’t feel anything. Both of Xavier’s hands were pressing against my stomach. His mouth was moving but I couldn’t hear anything but the blood rushing in my ears.
Everything was fringed in white. It was like everything was edged with sea foam. It was kind of pretty. My eyelids felt heavy and I felt like I was filled with sand. I was tired. So tired. All I wanted was to sleep. I closed my eyes, just for a moment. When they opened I saw a bright white light and people dressed in white. I blinked and I was somewhere else. Someone put a mask over my face and I felt my eyes close again.
I woke up and didn’t recognize where I was. I heard an annoying beeping. Why would someone leave something beeping. It was annoying as hell. I was tired and I wanted nothing but to go back to sleep, but I had to know where I was. I looked down and realized I was in a bed. I was taking in my surroundings. A hospital. I was in a hospital. Why was I in a hospital? My head felt foggy and hurt the harder I tried to think.
I looked and tried to focus my eyes. The beeping was a heart monitor. Maybe it was a good thing it was still going.
I noticed a figure slumped in a chair. It didn’t look comfortable, but I recognized him at once. Xavier was sleeping in my hospital room. I couldn’t help but smile, images started coming back and my smile wilted. He was leaving. He probably was just making sure I didn’t die, then he’d be on a flight back home. He was leaving.
I looked down at my hands. My stomach hurt, not like a stomach ache, like it was beaten or something. I looked down and lifted my hospital gown. There were stitches up my abdomen. It looked ugly and I knew it would scar terribly. I wanted to cry. I was beginning to remember. Chase had a gun, he’d tried to hurt Maverick, so I did a very stupid thing. I would carry this scar for the rest of my life to prove how stupid I can be. I felt stupid for wanting to cry but I did it anyway. I couldn’t help it. I didn’t mean to. I tried to be quiet, but I woke Xavier up.
“I’m fine.” I sobbed, and crying hurt. It pulled at the stitches and every movement hurt my stomach.
“You are not. Stop being stubborn and let someone take care of you.” Xavier warned. “I can’t keep watching this. Juliet, I can’t watch you do this to yourself.”
I cried harder. He was saying goodbye now. He was really leaving. He was about to leave and it would be over. I would never tell him how I felt. He would never know what he meant to me.
“Juliet, it will be alright.” He soothed as he sat next to me. He took one of my hands in both of his own. “I’m right here.” He soothed, his thumb making small soothing circles on my hand.
“You’re leaving.” I sobbed, barely more than a whisper.
“Ask me to stay.”
I looked up into those chocolaty brown eyes. I was expecting something far from what I was seeing. I expected cruel or condescending, something to say you need me and you know it. What I saw made me cry even harder. There was kindness and hope in his eyes.
I sat up, despite the pain and grabbed onto him like he was the last solid thing on earth. “Stay! Please stay!” I sobbed into his chest. His arms wrapped around me and I felt safe. Nothing else mattered. If he would stay, I would be okay.
“As long as you want me.” Xavier sighed.
I pulled away and looked him in the eye. “Xavier?”
“I love you.” I whispered, embarrassed. I’m not sure why, but I felt stupid saying it.
“I love you too.” Xavier smiled back and kissed me gently on the forehead. “Now, you’re going to need your rest. I’ll call the nurse and your father and let him know you’re alright. He was here by the way. I’ll explain everything later, just relax.” I nodded. A nurse came in a put something in my IV and I was out like a light.