A Million Times

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11.0 | P A R O X Y S M

hard to get, harder to forget.

S I G H. He dropped me off and drove away a second later my feet hit the ground. I stood at the same spot until his bike disappeared from my line of vision.

I walked inside the house knowing that my mother was going to be at my throat about tonight. This time I will let her believe that I’m going to follow her rules.

It’s been a year when my mother and I moved here to get away from everything. She worked hard or so she says to get into the world of the riches and elite. My father could hardly make ends meets with his construction labour job and my mother always wanted more and now she has it. She will do anything to keep it that way too.

I tried to sleep but my mind wouldn’t let me. Who was Rose? Is he one of his ex-girlfriends? We never really talk about anything personal and if he is hiding something from me I need to find it out one way or another.

An hour later I showered and dressed up in a midnight blue dress. I couldn’t possibly go out in casual clothes because I know my mother won’t let me. I apply minimal makeup on my face and grab my purse before walking out of my room.

I heard voices in the living room where I could see Lion sitting with my parents discussing something I couldn’t care less about. I cleared my throat to grab their attention and I saw the discreet nod of appreciation my mother gave me.

Lion Collins walked over to where I was standing and for some reason, I felt nervous. He looked handsome. He was the better-looking brother. Immediately, I felt weird thinking about it. This is so wrong.

“You look beautiful. Are you ready to go out?”
He was very a proper two-piece suit and I never saw any boys in my school who could pull off this look without looking like a stuck up douchebag.

“Thanks. Yes, I’m ready.”
We walked out of the house and turned back to see my mother eyeing me with a message clear in her eyes “don’t screw this up”. I just have to tell her later that the message got lost in translation.

The drive to the restaurant was smooth and he didn’t try to force me into conversations. I was happy just listening to his college stories. I gave my input here and there just to avoid turning the friendly conversation into an awkward one.

We reached the restaurant in twenty minutes and the owner was there to welcome him. I guess he is an important guy in this town even if he doesn’t want to do anything with his parents or the power that comes with their name.

We were seated at the terrace with a marvellous view of the town. It looked amazing from the top. We ordered from the menu and while we waited for the food I thought to address the fact that I’m not looking forward to more dates with him.

I looked at him and saw Theo for a second in Lion as he gave me that crooked smile. The chills went down my spine thinking about how brutally Theo was murdered. No one knows who killed him. The police are looking at different angles. A drug feud, gang involvement or the story of ‘Theo being in the wrong place at the wrong time’. I personally think it is more than that.

“Hey. You look deep in thought. Do you want to talk about it?”

I know he was trying to be kind and friendly but I was having a hard time believing the brother of Theodore Collins who was anything but that.

“Your brother is dead and yet here you are dining with me as if nothing happened. Either you really know how to handle your emotions or you never cared about your brother much.”

His gaze shifted from me and then he was simply staring at the space maybe reminiscing the time when things were all good for him.

“I see why my brother was so into you but now I know why you never reciprocated his feelings. My brother always considered me his competition. He told me about you as if you were his prized possession. I left town to be away from my family and this town. I even told him to come along but he refused. He saw this opportunity to come out of my shadow and make an impression on our father. I have mourned my ten-year-old brother who was not driven with jealousy and bad intention so excuse me if I don’t look devasted at this moment.”

Theodore was not a good person and any person who knew the real him would agree with me. He was always restless and believed in owning things that he couldn't buy with money. I get it now that why he felt like this but it doesn't justify his terrible behaviour.

“I just want to clear something with you. My parents forced me to have dinner with you tonight. I’m not trying to be rude, I just don’t want to get involved with--”

“--someone who is not Xavier. I know. Just be careful. I already told you some of his demons he is hiding, if you are still not running for the hills then maybe what you two have is deeper than it looks.”

I remember what he told me about Xavier, how he was covered in blood and dealing with drugs and alcohol on a daily basis. I wanted to know more or specifically about that special girl.

“Who was Rose?”

There was no point in denying that I wanted to know about her and if I was not getting my answers from Xavier then I will get it from Lion who apparently knows more than he lets on.

“A girl who was way too innocent who got caught up in the world of Xavier Knox.”

I caught a flash of sadness in his eyes which surprised me. The man didn't feel a thing after his brother died but this girl still makes him sad.

“Are you going to keep talking in circles or are you going to say who she was to Xavier?”

I softly asked him. This girl clearly meant something to both of them and she still does.

“Rose Knox was Xavier's stepsister who was murdered two years ago and Xavier was found drowned in her blood. He was the main suspect in her murder but all the charges were dropped because they couldn’t place him at the time of her death. He had a solid alibi. The murder was swept like dirt under the carpet of crime that happens in this town. This is one of the reasons why I left this town. Rose, my brother and so many other crimes that never get solved in this town. It makes you wonder if you really know your close ones as well as you do. Xavier was never arrested but that doesn’t mean he is innocent. A girl like you should stay far away from a guy like him. If the devil had a face it would be his. He didn’t tell you about her and I wonder why? Maybe deep down you know the reason why and you are choosing to stay in denial.”

I sat there stunned taking all the information when I saw him storming over our table.

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