“What happened after that? When did you move back here?”
“The same year. Everything happened in a year; Kevin’s death, my mom leaving, my depression, moving here, everything. I was eleven. And that was also the year I first met you,” he cupped my chin as an easy smiled slowly spread on his face and he peered into my eyes.
I smiled back.
“New York was becoming worst than hell for me. So Matt’s mom came and invited me for the summer. I accepted and never went back again. I was supposed to go back home after the summer but you see, once I’ve decided on something, not even the five ocean can move me. I’m that wicked,” he scoffed a laugh.
“Ever since I was a kid, I’ve always had this temper and hard-headedness. I lived with Matt for quite some time and started going to school here. Then I met you. Became the biggest jerk in your life for stealing Starbursts,” he laughed, “So in the end, Grammy bought the house, Claire came too and the three of us live there... Till to this day. Happily ever after.”
“So you never went back to New York again?”
“What ’bout your parents?”
“He lives alone in New York. Comes for visit once in a while,” he frowned, “My dad is actually trying to fix our relationship but it’s too late. He’s stopped going out with women since Kevin died but I still don’t want him. When you talked about saving your relationship with your dad, it got me thinking ’bout my father for a while too but I still can’t accept him. He wants me to come back to New York for graduation. He wants me around the Corporation.”
When he mentioned about going back to New York, my heart stopped beating. I couldn’t feel my pulse but my ears were ringing. What if he decides to go back? How do I possibly get through senior without him? Without him?! I was already missing him. Maybe moving back would be good for him, the Corporation and his family but when it came to Xavier, I was always driven to the extremes. I’d become really selfish about him.
Scared to hear the answer but feeling the need to know, I asked hesitantly, “Will you... Go back?”
At first, he knitted his eyebrows and blinked at me as if he was surprised at my question, but soon his gaze became warm.
“No,” he shook his head, “I’m graduating here with you. I’m not leaving you, I promise,” he kissed my nose.
He promised. I couldn’t be happier and more relived. I held him closer to me and pressed my lips to his. I needed to feel him and his presence. He responded immediately.
“I know I’m being selfish but I don’t want you to go. I want you here with me,” I said when we pulled back to breathe.
He smiled, “I like that. You’re even hotter when you’re selfish ’bout me.”
One moment, my heart conked in sadness and the next moment, he easily had me laughing.
“So what ’bout your mom?” I asked further.
“I heard she remarried,” he shrugged faintly, “I’m not sure who among the two of them do I hate more. I hate her the same way I hate him; for making me think she loved me. She’s a full package of lies. If she never loved me then why the fuck did she bother faking it. She didn’t even take my call when she left. Didn’t even leave a goodbye. She heard me scream in the phone for her but...” He clenched his jaws hard and seethed, “Forget it.”
I stroked the back of his neck to soothe him. He looked away from me and said, “You know, in a way, I’m glad that Kevin died early. He died unaware of the rotten truth of our parents. He never knew about dad’s infidelity or how hard hearted mom is. The night before Kevin was rushed to the hospital, he slept on my bed. He came to me at night and told me he wanted to try asking dad if he could show up for his baseball match. I tried to get that idea out of his head, knowing even if dad said yes, he would never come. I didn’t want Kevin to feel what I’d felt but then he was so excited about playing in front of dad for the first time and all that so I told him to just go to sleep. He never woke up after that. It’s like God too didn’t want Kevin to experience pain and rejection so he took him early. Because Kevin... He’s an angel. He’s so good and kind.” I heard the faint quiver in his voice and it stirred my heartstrings.
Whenever he spoke about his brother, there was only love and kindness on his face, and a kind of softness would wash over his face as he recalled their memories.
“You love your brother so much,” I smiled into his eyes as my fingertips played along the base of his haircut.
He smiled back dimly, “Of course I do. That’s why I’m happy in a way that he left without living through pain. But then again, on the other hand, it’s sad that he never got the taste of highschool, never got to drive a car, or ever punched a guy like Damien.” We laughed a bit at that last part. “Never had a crush or a girlfriend. Never kissed. Never fell in love.”
His eyes drooped and his expression became poignant and sadness took over as he counted what Kevin would’ve had if he’d lived... but never had. I cupped his face. He slowly lifted his eyes to meet mine.
“But when I look at my life, Alana, I feel like Kevin has left all of that for me,” he shifted our position.
My back came in contact with the iron railing and he stood above me.
He took my face in his hands and gazed into me with eyes burning with passion, “Now I’m dating the best and the most beautiful girl on this planet. And she let me kiss her and let me fall in love with her,” his eyes misted over as he said these.
I held him closer to me. Having to see him with tears in his eyes for the first time, it showed just how vulnerable and brimmed with emotion he was no matter how much he guarded himself. And I didn’t think it’s anything to be ashamed of.
There’s no rule that says boy can’t cry. Real man cry. Real man feels. And Xavier... He feels so much for Kevin. The love he has for him is immeasurable and it makes me love him more. The more I know of his heart, the more handsome he appears and the more I fall in love with him.
He dug his face into the crook of my neck and spoke in almost a whisper, “Although most of my childhood was hard, I still feel like the luckiest person on earth because of you, Kevin, Claire, Grammy, David, everyone here. I have the best of friends and the best of girlfriend. So that’s why I’m telling you not to cry for me. I’m okay. I’m happy. I have you. Kevin has left all the best things in the world for me.”
I felt warm wetness on my skin. His breathing was labored as he fought his brimming emotion and as he struggled not to cry. He buried his face deeper into my neck, trying to hide his face.
I hugged him tighter and said, “Xavier, it’s okay. You can cry if you want to. It’s okay. I love you.”
He let go of my face and gripped the railing with all his strength, fighting his emotion. I could feel his arms strengthen and the veins rise hard as steel on his arms and neck. He grunted and his body quivered as he struggled so hard to suppress his emotions and not let them go free.
“Xavier, it’s okay,” I said again and hugged his face more to my chest.
He instantly wrapped his arms tight across my ribs and began to sob into my chest. I let him take his time. I stroked his back and neck, but didn’t say a word. He needed to let them out.
He’s kept them inside of him for too long. It’s time for him to lean onto someone... Me.
“It’s okay,” I said in a whisper again to soothe him.
After he composed himself and his breathing slowly eased, he lifted his face from my chest but didn’t meet my eyes. I dried the tears for him.
“Shit,” he muttered, ashamed.
“Hey, it’s alright,” I said and made him face me, “What’s wrong?”
“I thought I wouldn’t tell you.”
“It’s Kevin’s death anniversary today.”
The news hit me like tons of bricks on my chest. My breathing hitched on my throat and my eyeballs enlarged.
“Oh Xavier, I’m so sorry,” I said.
He shook his head, “No. I’m glad I’m with you tonight. You make me feel better, Alana. I’m actually more of a bad person but you don’t give me time to think bad or feel bad. You know exactly how to bring out the little good I have in me.”
I shook my head and said, “You’re not a bad person, Xavier. The way you love Kevin just makes me fall in love with you even more.”
“Oh you have no idea,” he said, “Aren’t you surprised that you’re my first girl?”
“Honestly, I am a bit surprised,” I nodded immediately.
Now he laughed a bit, “Don’t be. It’s true. You see, I don’t go out with girls because I... Don’t want to. Not that I hate girls... It’s... It’s like this. Because my father was so much into women since I was a kid, I’ve grown tired of them. I’d lost all interest.”
“Really.” I have no idea how that came out of my mouth.
“Yes. And I’d hate it when they say ‘like father, like son’. I was bullied like that in school... In New York. Pervert’s son”
To hear that he was bullied that way felt like a kick to my gut. Suddenly, I felt like hitting some punch bags. And then my eyeballs almost dropped out of the sockets as realization hit me.
“So, that’s why you don’t like to be called a . . . Pervert.” My voice was barely a timid squeak by the last word.
He chuckled a bit. “Yeah. But it’s mostly because I don’t wanna be compared to my father,” he continued.
“Oh dear god, I’m so sorry, Xavier, I called you that... I’m... I’m so bad. Horrible actually,” I stuttered bashfully.
“No! No!” he chuckled, “You didn’t know anything about it. I didn’t mind.”
That Jason kid. He knew. That was why Xavier suddenly flipped that day. Now I just wanted to go kill him myself. God. That was why Alex blew up on me that night.
I’ve. Been. So. Horrible.
My mind was reeling like an engine, jumping from one thought to the other. I really never knew Xavier or any of his feelings. I plainly stared at him, trying to process everything he had said. He angled his face to the right, like he always do, and stared back.
“So that’s why I don’t go out with any girl until I’m sure I was in love.” He smiled calmly.
My heart just melted and I slowly smiled back. “How long have you been in love with me?”
He shrugged, “I don’t know. It feels like yesterday, day before yesterday, last week, last month. It keeps going back.” He smiled.
God. How long has this boy been in love with me?
I remember the first time he said he like me, inside the car. I didn’t believe him. With a face as handsome as his, I thought he’d have said that to more than a hundred girls to get advantages. And I thought he was just doing the same to me. How little I knew he didn’t just say that. Now that I know him, I’d be the biggest fool on this planet if I ever doubt his love.
“Xavier, you’re . . . You’re like a hundred book combined. You’re just amazing. Don’t ever call yourself bad.”
He laughed, “I told you, you have no idea, Mongrel.”
“You’re so stupid,” I muttered.
He chuckled amusedly.
He’s really stupid for calling himself bad. And now he’s laughing because I called him stupid. He’s really stupid.
“You don’t trust me?” he smirked.
“No,” I sighed, looking away from him, “I just don’t fall in love with bad people. But I’ve fallen in love with you. So that doesn’t make you bad.”
He grabbed my chin and pulled me back to his gaze, “You do love me, don’t you.”
It wasn’t a question in a bit. We knew enough of our love for each other now. It made me glad to hear confidence in that.
“A lot,” I sort of mumbled, acting as if I was unhappy with him for calling himself bad.
He heard it, but playing along with my act, he acted like he didn’t.
“What was that?! Say that again,” his knitted his eyebrows, pretending to be ignorant.
I smirked at him, “I’m not repeating that.”
“Mongrel,” he intentionally darkened his gaze as if he was threatening me.
Too bad I know you have an angel’s heart. That threat won’t work on me.
“I’m not repeating,” I giggled naughtily.
“Mongrel,” there was a dominant edge to his voice this time.
Aww... So cute.
“No,” I replied.
He was always teasing me. Chances like this comes once in a blue moon so I decided to make the best use of it.
He frowned at me. I giggled again. Reckoning that I wasn’t falling for his very obvious tricks, he shook his head, smirking at me.
I smirked back, having fun.
Giving up, he nestled his face into my neck and begged adorably, “Please. Please. Please. Mongrel, say that again. Please. I love you.”
I giggled more as he seductively bit my earlobe. It tickled. He ran his fingers along my my waistline and slowly brought them upwards to rub and tease my bare back. He was bribing me with his insanely good touches. And sadly, it worked.
“Please,” he begged again, his voice low and drop dead sexy.
I grabbed his face in between my hands. He stared into my eyes and waited patiently, all the while making me aware of his hands playing on my back.
I smiled and said it again for him and only him, “I love you a lot, bad boy.”
He grinned and immediately latched his lips into mine. My breathing stumbled once but I soon found myself moving along with him in perfect rhythm.
“I love you more,” he rasped just above my mouth and took my lips again.