We didn’t sleep right away after the awesome make out, we stayed cuddling and talking for long.
“Where’s your phone, Mongrel? Let’s take a picture,” he suggested.
I reached out for my phone on the bedside table. It was still power off. I hadn’t remembered to turn it back on since I switched it off just before driving off for East Port. When I turned it back on, there were eighty six miss calls; twenty two from Narcissist, seventeen from Jake, ten from aunt Renée and . . . THIRTY SEVEN FROM DAD.
I bolted up from the bed with a hand over my mouth.
Dad is so going to be mad at me. But more than mad, he must be worried sick! Oh my God!
Xavier sat up too.
“You need to call your dad. Now,” he said, peeking over my shoulder.
I nodded frantically as I began tapping to call dad. My fingers fumbled like the nerves weren’t working anymore and it slipped from my hand. Xavier picked it up for me.
“Hey, calm down. Just explain well,” he said, placing a comforting kiss on my shoulder and stroking my arm.
I nodded again with my eyes fixated on the phone screen. I felt my body burn in guilt, fear, worry.
Dad must be.... Ding!
I almost screamed when my phone rang again. Then I accidentally pressed the reject button in the hysteria of senses.
Xavier snatched the device from my hand. After a second, he handed it back to me. “Here.”
He’d already called back dad.
One ring and dad answered.
“God! Alana. What happened to your phone?!” Dad shouted.
“I’m so sorry, dad.”
“Are you alright?”
“Yes. I’m okay. I’m alright.”
“Where are you?”
“What?! What are you doing in East Port?”
“I just drove up to meet Mrs. Clayton.”
“Alana. You worried the hell out of me! I’ve been calling you for a hundred times. God!” He was a frenzy of emotions now. Way more than I was. I think I really pulled the trigger. Dad rarely lose his cool.
“I know, dad. I’m so sorry.”
“And what the heck happened to your boyfriend’s phone too, huh? I’ve been calling him! Same thing!” He shouted again, louder. I almost dropped the phone.
“What happened to your phone?” I turned to Xavier.
“I lost it on the way.”
“He lost it on the way,” I told dad.
“What on the way? Is he with you, right now?”
“Um . . .” I looked over at Xavier. His lips were pressed together in a line, forcing back a laugh. He probably heard dad shouting.
The nerve of him.
And I didn’t wanna lie to dad. If I did, there would be no more trust between us. And it was not like he wouldn’t find out. My stuttering had probably answered the truth already.
“Uh . . . I . . . Yeah. He’s with me but . . . It’s okay. We’re not even . . .” I couldn’t finish my sentence.
“Alana.” Dad’s voice was stern.
“Dad.” I held my breath.
“Give the phone to Xavier.”
I closed my eyes to take a breath. His voice was suddenly exceptionally calm and it made my hairs stand.
I slowly looked over at Xavier guiltily and said, “He wants to talk to you.”
Xavier gave me a wide knowing grin and took the phone. I shook my head a bit to make sure I wasn’t seeing things. He still had the nerve to keep grinning like an idiot.
Is he always like this?!
I was worried sick for him. Dad could be really scary when he was not pleased or when he was a frenzy of emotions . . . like, right now.
“Sir,” Xavier answered, calm and composed.
I stared at his face as he listened, looking for any change in his expressions. Nothing.
“Yes. I understand, sir.”
“You have my word.”
Ugh. That’s it.
“I will, yeah. I will.”
“She did. I was seconds away from pissing in my pants.” He chuckled, glancing at me.
I frowned at him.
What the heck are they talking about?
“No, I didn’t. I took chances and drove up.”
“Couldn’t reach her.”
“We kinda quarrelled today. That’s why she turned off her phone. It’s my fault.”
I never told him the reason why I turned off my phone. But there really wasn’t any valid reason. I just felt like turning it off and I didn’t think he would call me tonight. And yet he took the blame to himself.
“Here,” Xavier gave the phone back to me.
I stared at his face for a while.
“You’re grounded,” he mouthed with a notorious grin.
I rolled my eyes.
“Okay, Alana. Don’t ever pull this again. You get me?”
“Yes.” I nodded vigorously as if he would see me. “Sorry, dad.”
“Good. Now call Mrs. Garfield and tell her you’re sorry. She has even called the cops.”
“The cops?!” I freaked.
“Yes! That’s how far you got all of us worried! And apologize to Jake too. He’s been all around town looking for you.”
“Sure, dad. I’m sorry,” my voice dropped, almost crying.
I messed up.
Xavier came all this way looking for me. Aunt Renée even called the cops. I worried everybody for no reason. Xavier, dad, Jake, aunt Renée. Dad must have half-died with the fact that he isn’t even in town.
After dad, I called aunt Renée and apologized profusely with all my might. She was more than happy that I was safe and well. And then I called Jake too. He scolded me left and right for being irresponsible. He wasn’t angry for worrying him. He was angry that I worried my dad to hell.
“You could’ve at least called your dad in the evening! Didn’t it ever strike you that he would call?!” Jake raved at me through the phone.
“I’m sorry, Jake. I was stupid.”
I heard him exhale heavily.
“Whatever, Alana. I’m glad you’re okay.”
“I’m really sorry, Jake. When I come back, I’ll make it up to you with a Power Rangers T-shirt.”
I heard him laugh a bit. He was obsessed with Power Rangers when he was a kid.
“Shut up and just come back home safe,” he chuckled.
I was quiet for a moment.
“He found you, huh.”
“Yeah. How’d you know he was looking for me?”
“He came looking for you at my place too. That’s how I knew you were missing.”
“He was really worried about you, Alana,” Jacob sort of mumbled from the other line in a defeated tone.
A moment of heavy silence fell. I stole a quick glance towards Xavier. He was resting back on the headboard with his eyes closed. My gaze stayed trained on his calming face immovably.
I’m sorry, Xavier. I’m sorry.
“Xavier,” I called softly as I snuggled into him after ending the call with Jake.
Without opening his eyes, he readily enveloped me in his arms.
“You went to Jacob’s house looking for me?”
He opened his eyes, wide awake, like I had poured a bucket of ice water onto his head.
“I couldn’t find you anywhere in town.” He looked at me, almost frightened. “I . . . Trust me. His place was the last I checked.”
I wrapped my arms around his waist tighter and placed my cheek onto his chest.
“It’s okay. I understand what you went through. You came all this was looking for me. I’m really sorry, Xavier. It’s all my fault. I messed up.”
He heaved a heavy sigh of relief and rubbed the back of my head. “It’s alright, babe. You did scare the shit out of me and the whole feeling wasn’t really cool but . . . Tada! We have a whole night to ourselves.”
“It’s worth it. Actually, you can do this often, provided you tell me first where you’re going.”
“I love you.” I smiled up at him and placed a kiss on his chest.
“I love you too,” he returned and kiss the top of my head, his arms tightening around with comforting squeezes on my shoulders. “But what made you drive all this way here? I mean, seriously. You’ve got some nerves.”
“I thought you weren’t coming back and I didn’t want to be alone tonight.”
I felt him clenched his jaws. “I’m sorry,” he said, “I shouldn’t have left you. I was stupid.”
“I was stupid too,” I said, “I’m sorry I blew up at you.”
“Don’t be. I was wrong. I went home and Grammy knocked some sense in me. I’m sorry.”
“She’s good. She likes you a lot.” He smiled.
I smiled back. “I like her too.”
He pulled my balled-up body closer to him. We kissed again. He rolled me over and pinned me down beneath him. We’d never get enough of each other. Our breathings were heavy again in within seconds and his hands were on my face, my neck, my back, my waist, my hips, my thighs . . . And wherever he touched with his hot palms, he healed – my troubles. He felt like home – Safe and Sound. Nothing could ever go wrong.
I felt him up from his lower abdomen to his chest, needing more of him. His tight abdomen muscles tightened even more beneath my fingers and he groaned deeply into my mouth; the sound hummed in my throat. I pulled his face closer and kissed him more like I was starving. And in a way, I was. The past few days had felt like standing in the middle of Sahara desert. Lost.
When my right palm stroked across his chest, he grabbed my hand and pressed it over his heart. It surprised me how fast his heart was beating underneath his skin. He pressed his forehead on mine, panting for breath. Somewhere between wild kissing, few blinks of our eyes and gazing, I had opened up everything to him.
“What is it, Alana? You have to tell me. I know something’s bothering you,” he said, gently stroking my cheekbones and staring right into my eyes. Still heavily breathing.
I closed my eyes, breathing deeply.
“Come on, Alana.”
“It’s Brit,” I said.
He stopped breathing. Forget about panting. I felt his chest still.
He knew it.
“You knew it,” I stated.
He rolled over and sent a hand through his hair, pushing back his bangs. “I didn’t. But yeah, that morning kind of explained everything . . . Look, it’s not important. Forget it.”
“It’s not not-important. She’s my friend, Xavier. She’s our friend.” I sat up, crossed legs, and locked gazes with him.
“I know but . . .” He sat up too. “We’re together. She’s a comet that appeared out of nowhere. I really don’t care.”
“I tried. I couldn’t.”
“Look, I know how you feel.” He reached out and held my hand. “She’s your best friend. You care about her but you don’t have to care too much. She’ll get over it.”
“I don’t know, Xavier.” I looked down to my lap. “I’m worried she might be in love with you.”
I looked up at him. “I talked to her a week back. She sounds like she’s in love . . . with you.”
“So what do you want me to do?!” He shrugged questioningly.
“I’m not asking you to do anything.”
He leaned back on the headboard, exhaling. I hugged my knees to my chest and kept my eyes down. But I could feel him staring at me.
“Just forget about it,” he sighed and wiped his face with both hands.
“It’s not that easy. I see her everyday to school. We share classes. We eat lunch together. And to top it all, she’s my best friend.”
“But she’s not your boyfriend,” he remarked rather coldly. “Honestly, Alana. I wouldn’t care if I were you.”
“Really? Even if Matt was in love with me, for example?”
“Come on,” he scoffed and looked away.
He needed to learn to look at things from other people’s perspective too. Now that I have made my situation clear, he didn’t even want to think about it.
“Is that why you have been avoiding me?”
“I was not avoiding you, Xavier,” I sighed.
“Okay then, is that why you’ve been kinda off with me the past few days?”
“I didn’t know what to do.”
“So you just ignored me?”
“No! Xavier. I wasn’t avoiding or ignoring you. I just . . . God, I don’t know. I didn’t wanna go about flaunting my relationship around her. I couldn’t be comfortable with you anymore after knowing how she feels ’bout you.”
“Not comfortable with me?” He looked offended. “That’s stupid, Alana. Seriously. Sometimes I really wonder if you truly love me.”
“Wh . . . what!!”
My lungs seemingly stopped working.
He whipped his gaze back at me, wide eyed, as soon as he realized what he’d just said.
“I’m sorry, baby. I didn’t mean that,” he quickly said, reaching out to me. When his fingers touched my arm, it felt more like a sharp cut of a blade instead of comforting.
Tears burned my eyes almost immediately and my vision blurred as I stared at him in shock through tears. I quietly moved down from the bed and walked out the door without a word. For some reason, I didn’t want him to see me cry. I heard his footsteps follow close behind me.
I blankly walked into the middle of the dark living room, silently dashing the tears away from my cheeks. Xavier caught up with me and grasped my wrist.
“Baby, please,” he begged lowly.
My body stiffened at his touch, my palms balled into tight fists and I clenched my jaws tight. His touches had always felt warm and securing but now, it felt cold and painful. My breathing hitched with a slight tremble as I forcefully inhaled half a breath.
He stepped closer and enveloped me in his arms from my back. I protested a bit but he caught my arms over my stomach and held me firm in his embrace, hugging me so tight and caging me like a prisoner. Like he did on the bed just some minutes ago but it was different this time. This time everything felt distant.
I was already sobbing, trying to be as quiet as I could. My chest ached at the struggle . . . at everything; the way he was holding me, his touches, his presence, the way he was kissing my head, my ear and neck to comfort me. None of it felt good anymore. They felt like some kind of pain injections.
“Shhhh . . . Baby. I’m so sorry,” he said lowly as he kept kissing my head and literally everywhere his lips could touch.
An aching heaviness settled in my stomach and my heart . . . I felt it slowly crumble into pieces at every passing second, as the reality of what he said sink in.
“What did you think I said when I told you that I love you?” I sobbed.
“I didn’t mean it, okay. It just slipped. I shouldn’t have let that out,” he replied with continuous soft kisses on my head.
I turned back and faced him.
“If you hadn’t thought like that, you wouldn’t have said that at all. You know you love me but you don’t think I truly love you. You don’t wanna admit it but you feel like that deep down,” I said through sobs and then he was quiet.
I saw his jawline become rigid as he bit on his wordlessness. “I’m sorry, babe. I just got a little insecure.” I was right. He couldn’t deny it. After all this time . . .
“Even after all these time . . . I thought you believed me. I thought . . . I love you, Xavier. Why can’t you just believe me?!” My tears falling, I hit his chest with my fists as if I foolishly thought I could nail some trust in him.
My legs couldn’t keep up. I sank to the floor. My limbs came together and I buried my face away in the huddle so he wouldn’t see me.
If only he could read my mind. If only.
I felt his arm come under my knees and one around my waist. Then he easily picked me up and he was carrying me back to our room. He gently laid me down on the bed. I rolled over to my side and instantly soaked my pillow. Quietly, he pulled the blanket over us and came to cuddle with me, placing delicate kisses on my head, cheek, shoulder. I didn’t protest.
Even though he hurt me, even though he was the reason why I was a sobbing mess, even though it hurt more when he held me so lovingly, I couldn’t find the will to push him away. I still wanted to be with him. I wanted to be his. I wanted him to be mine. I wanted us. I couldn’t give up on my biggest dream. I loved him.
“God. I’m so sorry I hurt you, baby. I’m so sorry,” he whispered softly into my ears as he tugged me close to his body.
I cried to sleep in his arms.