[One Week Later]
Just as I sat down on the edge of my bed to wear the pair of Adidas shoes Xavier had bought, I heard his voice come from my driveway, shouting crazy like a mad man.
“ALANA!! PRINCESS ALANAAAA!!!!”
Round-eyed, I rushed to the window and flew open the curtains. There he was, down there on a BMX, grinning ear to ear. Vai was standing beside him with Captain’s lease in her hands. Xavier was wearing gray sweats and our matching shoes.
It was Saturday and we’d planned to hang around the park. Vai waved at me and I waved back.
“Oh my true love, Princess Alana, won’t you come down and give me a kiss?!” He opened his arms wide towards me dramatically and theatrically.
I laughed and shouted back, “One minute!! I’ll be down in one minute!!”
“Too long. I’m dying.” He pressed his palms to his heart and acted like he was getting a stroke. “One second. Ahh!! I’m gonna be ghost soon. Hurry up, Princess!!”
He’s so cheesy.
“Hang on!! Coming down!!” I beamed at him.
I hurriedly wore my shoes and rushed out of my room, desperate to save my Prince before he die of heart attack . . . like this wasn’t all an act. All these might sound pretty silly but sometimes - most of the time - these little cheesy stuffs Xavier did were what I looked forward to; how I start my day, how he make my day. And I was so up and in mood for the act.
I sprinted down the stairs.
“What the hell’s your boyfriend shouting ’bout, Alana?” Dad asked me as I ran down the stairs.
I responded him with a giggle and then I was off to Xavier. His bike lay on the ground in its side and he was coming up towards me. I ran straight into his arms and with a bright smile, he enveloped me in his embrace, taking my lips into his at the same time.
Perfect was all I could ever think about.
“Are you saved now, Bad Boy?” I grinned up at him.
He grinned back. “Definitely. Damn, your kiss is an absolute antidote. See my heart is as good as . . . Wait.” With a worried look, he ran his hands all over his chest like he was suddenly looking for something. “It’s gone. OH GOD, IT’S GONE!! MY HEART’S GONE!!!” He freaked out stagily, checking his pockets too. “I think you stole it. You did. You definitely did. You’ve stolen my heart.”
I laughed again. He couldn’t be real. He was too damn cute and amazing.
I pressed a hand on my heart and acted up with him, “That’s my revenge for stealing mine in the first place.”
His chest rumbled with laughter and he pulled me yet again in a bone-crushing hug. “I love you indescribable, Mongrel,” he smiled down grandly at me and kissed me again while reaching behind my head to pull of the band with which I tied my hair.
“And I love you irrevocably, bad boy.” I smiled back and returned the kiss ad I felt my hair smooth down and frame my face. He then pried his fingers into it and pulled back from the kiss to gaze at me.
“He’s inside. He must be ready now. Hi, Vai!” I tiptoed and looked at her over Xavier’s shoulder. She was wearing a pretty little pink dress and cute peach-colored pumps with tiny bows.
“Hi, Alana!” She chirped to me as she busily bounced around with Captain.
We went inside. Dad and Xavier greeted each other and fell into a casual chatting as I went up to call David. By now, Xavier had gotten as close to being a son to dad. Whenever they talked they seemed to understand and get each other well. Dad hadn’t said this out loud but I knew he too loved Xavier.
“Why’s she here?” David asked me in an unwelcomed-whisper tone when he saw Vai playing with Captain in the living room.
“Susshh. She’s a nice girl. You should be nice too.”
He shrugged in response.
“Hey, Vai. You remember my brother, David? David, you remember Vai too, right?”
“Yeah,” both of them answered to me rather uninterestedly.
Are they rivals already or what? I sighed in my head.
“Well, we’re hanging out together. Be nice to one another, okay.”
By the time we reached the park, Vai and David were getting along pretty well and Vai’s British accent was gone too . . . which was an official good sign. Now they continued to play with Captain on the grass in front of us. Xavier and I sat on a bench under a willow tree, eating the sandwiches we’d grabbed on the way.
David looked like a mini version of Xavier as he pranced around energetically in gray sweatpants, the matching Adidas and a blue, sleeveless puffer jacket over the white T-shirt that read ‘WE’RE A TEAM’ in big bold letters in the front. It was the matching t-shirt Xavier brought for the three of us. I was wearing mine too under my sweatshirt.
This side of the park was relatively empty but we could hear the noises of children coming from the other side of the park, just across the pool, which was a skate-park.
Xavier stretched his body and lay down on the bench, keeping his head on my lap. Streams of sunrays peeking through the willow caught his eyes and he closed them with a sighed, a soft smile playing on his pink lips.
He squinted his eyes up at me and we knowingly smiled at each other. After that night, we’d gotten even closer to the point we could communicate just by wordless glances and smirks. It was like we’d gained the ability to read each other’s minds. There was no barrier between us anymore.
He brightened his smile as he closed his eyes again. “It’s nice to hear you call me Xavi.” He grabbed my left hand, kissed it, placed it over his heart and sighed contentedly. “This feels so good. Every single moment with you is like walking through my favorite song. Actually, you are my favorite song.”
I smiled back with a little laugh and smoothed back his hair.
It felt good to be young and in love.
We called David and Vai when we decided to go around the other side. We’d told them not to go there without us in case of accidents. There were too many reckless teens.
Coming over to a group of kids learning to skateboard, Xavier borrowed one from a kid who first refused to lend. Xavier handed him ten bucks and there wasn’t another word of refusal.
“Vai, you wanna show them our thing?” Xavier asked.
“Yes! Yes! Yes!!” Vai leaped and clapped excitedly.
With a chuckled, Xavier hoisted her up on his shoulder on her belly and headed for the bowl, taking the skateboard along with him.
Everybody cheered him on as he stood on the edge of the highest launch ramp, ready to dive. And soon, the two of them were flying and flipping through the air. Vai screamed in thrill as Xavier dived from one ramp to the other, making a 360° flip in the air.
“Again! Again! Again!” Vai exclaimed for more as they came back to us after several rounds.
Xavier laughed as he set her down. “You’ll be dizzy, Vai. A princess needs to rest. Now, it’s David’s turn. You ready, buddy?”
“Yeah!” David answered without a moment of hesitation, already eager and excited.
Xavier picked him up and soon my little brother was screaming in the air. “WICKEDDD!!”
I laughed and cheered along with all the others, seeing how much they were enjoying. Vai clapped and leaped in exhilaration beside me. Xavier’s face was flushed with laughter as they came back to us.
“Now, it’s your turn.” He grinned at me.
“Yes! Yes! Yes!!” Vai jumped up and down, yanking my arm pleadingly.
“Ohhhnonononono!” I quickly shook my head.
“Scared are we?” Xavier smirked at me challengingly.
I was so tempted to object but I couldn’t risk the fear of flipping through the air on Xavier’s shoulder as much of a thrill it could be. I wasn’t as light as Vai or David was.
In all honesty, I replied, “Yes. Very much.”
“C’mon. It’s not likely of you to say that after throwing a punch at Megan.” So saying, he wrapped his arms around my thighs and hoisted me up on his shoulder easily as if I was as light as air.
Mixed with a surprised laughter, I squeaked as I felt my torso hang upside down, my hair falling over his back.
“Hang on tight onto his ass, Alana!!” I heard Scott’s voice bellow above the rising noise.
I turned my head to the side and saw Hunt and Scott coming towards the bowl on their own BMXs.
“Love is definitely going to be up in the air.” Hunt laughed.
I laughed too.
A minute later, I was screaming my lungs off in the air with my eyes squeezed shut. I felt my soul leave my body as Xavier dived down from the highest ramp. I clung onto his sweatshirt with all my might, but I soon found myself actually enjoying it. By the time he set me down after ending the flying and flipping session, I was out of breath in laughter and screaming.
We met up with our friends. Matt had arrived too on his own BMX. The four of them spent a good twenty minute pulling up stunts and so on. With the spark in David’s eyes, I could tell he was idolizing these boys.
As Xavier and I strolled to the small bridge which curved over the pool, David and Vai stayed back with the boys. Vai sat on Matt’s shoulders and David was on Scott’s as they rode the bikes.
“How come you can flip in the air with me? What do you eat? Really.”
He laughed in response. “You’re not more than five pounds heavier than Vai. You should eat more.”
“Hmm.” I furrowed my brows at him. He simply smiled back.
“There’s something I wanna tell you. Not exactly tell but it’s what Claire’s been asking me to consider. I don’t even want to think about it but I have to.” He leaned onto the railing, looking serious suddenly.
“What is it?” I asked softly; almost timidly.
He took my hands and sighed.
“My dad left the Corporation to me, in my name. It was in his will.” He said and solemnly met my eyes.
I instinctively bit my lower lip, already getting where this would lead to from the look in his eyes. I knew it wouldn’t be the best news in the world but I encouraged him to go on with a nod.
If anything at all, what I’d learn through my entire sixteen years of existence was that life wasn’t always fair and we had to face it no matter what. We had to be strong and courageous.
Sensing me tense up, he stroked the back of my hand with his thumbs to comfort me. This was us now, holding onto each other for strength and comfort.
“My cousin Zach, Claire and uncle Gallagher will be looking after the Corporation in my place for a while until I’m ready. I have decided to take over it in time. It’s the only thing I have left of my father to remember. He had great trust on me too. I don’t wanna let him down.”
“You won’t,” I gave him an encouraging squeeze on his hand.
“The thing is, Alana . . .” He swallowed sombrely, flexing his prominent Adam-Apple, as he stared down at my hands. “Everybody wants me there. They want me to move. Finally after all these years, both Claire and Grammy, including Matt’s parents, are suggesting it. I . . . I can’t ignore it anymore.”
I knew this would be what he would say. I thought I was prepared for it. I thought I could take it. I guess not. I felt my eyes burn inside but I blinked them cool, fighting through the tears that were starting to brim inside. I wouldn’t cry. It was already hard for him to say it too as much as it was hard for me to listen.
I stared down at our hands which were subconsciously holding onto each other tighter now, like two invisible forces were suddenly trying to pull us apart.
“I haven’t decided anything yet, okay,” he added quickly in a soft voice, trying to comfort me again. “They just want me to think it through.” He put an arm around my shoulder and pulled me to his side. I could feel his eyes on me, staring intently and burning in early-remorse.
Something heavy and acidic settle in my chest, burning me inside-out. Being away from him was now probably my biggest fear. If possible, I never wanted him to leave. But being in love with him didn’t mean I could bind him to me and keep him close every single second, did it?
This was life.
I was not the only person existing in his life. He had his own family he cared about too, responsibilities he had to fulfill and work for. If I choose to cry and keep him all for myself, I would just be being selfish. But the truth was, I really loved him; not only just him as a being or the nearness but everything about him; his past, his present, his future included.
So I decided I wouldn’t try to hold him back. This was his destiny. He was borne into it. This wasn’t his fault. Neither was it wrong in any way. Through him, I would love his family, his job, his destiny, his responsibilities and everything included, even if it means moving back to New York.
This was love.
Mustering all my courage, I looked up at him and said, “It’s okay, Xavi. I’m okay with whatever you decide. Follow your heart. Don’t worry about me. I love you no matter what. I just want you to know that. And I know that you love me too. That’s all I need to know.”
He threw his arms around me and clinched me firm to his body. His lips pressed onto my forehead impassionately. My love for him grew stronger and stronger by the second as things became harder for the two of us.
It’s not easy but what is life without a bit of hardship?
“Nothing, I swear, nothing can pull us apart now. I’ll love you forever, Alana. Forever, I mean it.” He said in a firm tone of earnesty and all my worries and fears melted into his embrace.
I felt him breathe in relief as did I. We knew he couldn’t keep running from his destiny forever. If he decide to leave town, it would hurt a bit and I knew I’d be lonely for sometime. But what is a bit of pain and loneliness compared to a promise of lifetime-love?
Xavier promised me his lifetime-love.
I let a few drops of tears run down my cheeks and into his shirt to relief my premature-loneliness, and for the joy of that hope he had given me.
“Me too, Xavi. I’ll love you forever. Forever.” I wrapped my arms around him and burrowed my face into his chest.
“Sometimes I really wonder how you could fall in love with me, a seventeen year old fucked-up jackass, but thank you for loving me back.” He kissed the top of my head.
“If you ask me, Xavier, you’re the most amazing jackass I know, in all honesty. Don’t ever change.” I smiled up at him.
He responded with a light chuckle and a breathtaking smile.
“And I’m sorry too.” I added.
“What for?” His eyebrows furrowed a bit.
“I haven’t been fair to you all the time. Sometimes, I blame you too much, even for things you didn’t do. I keep hurting you and . . .”
“C’mon, Mongrel. If you remember well, I admitted for things I didn’t do. None of it was your fault.”
“But I did hurt you, didn’t I? And that led you to feel insecure about my love for you in the beginning.”
He gently caressed my cheek and looked into my eyes. His eyes seemed clearer and brighter now. “I don’t even think about them at all, Mongrel. We make mistakes. It’s okay. And it’s not you who made me feel insecure. It’s my parents. Both of them broke my trust and as a result, my insecurities kind of manifested in our relationship. It’s not your fault, babe. You did nothing wrong. Hell, in fact, you gave me back everything I thought I’d lost forever; love, hope, trust, everything, Alana. Everything that I’ll ever need.”
I couldn’t find any word good enough to respond him with so I hugged him more and kissed his chest, hoping he’d get the message across.
“And for all I know, we’ll quarrel over some stupid stuffs again in the future. We’re good at that.” He chuckled amusedly. “But we’re even better at making up and . . . making love, aren’t we?” He cupped my chin and tilted my face to meet his eyes, and then he winked mischievously.
I blushed a little and laughed. Since our first time, we’d done it one more time again before Claire and Grammy returned home from the city.
“We’re still young but we do love each other, don’t we?” I looked up into his deep, brown eyes.
“We do, baby. We do.” He replied in the softest of tone and pulled me into a yearning kiss.
While we were still standing there on the bridge, kissing, we heard David and Vai approach us with Captain.
“Why did you kiss Alana?” David asked Xavier, puzzled, as he stopped to stand before us.
Xavier cleared his throat and answer, “Well, because I think she’s pretty.”
The moment those words left Xavier’s mouth, David turned to Vai, held her little shoulders and set his lips on hers.
With a gasp, I clamped a hand over my mouth and felt my jaw drop.
“I think you’re pretty too,” David told her with a smile.
Vai didn’t breath a single word first but the next moment once it had dawned on her what just happened, she screamed, “NOOOOO!!” and exploded in a burst of hysteric cries. David stared at her with a look that said ‘girls are stupid’.
For him, it meant nothing more than a gesture that conveyed how pretty he found her and Vai had nothing to cry about that. But Vai knew better (maybe because of watching too any fairy tales). The little girl was heartbroken her first kiss was gone just like that. She cried so hard she even hiccupped.
As I took Vai in my arms and tried to console her, Xavier – standing tall beside us and overshadowing us – kept snickering aside, saying, “Matt should’ve seen this.”
Xavier will never, ever change.
When I looked up at him, the Sun was right behind him and his body was completely Silhouetted against the blaring light. It made me reflect on how that was all I saw of him when we first met; just the outline. I never really knew him; never really saw his true self. And how everything had changed between us in time and how we had come this far.
I marvelled at how I, Alana Lancaster, had unconditionally fallen in love with Xavier Arquette, the bad boy of Los Carlos.
★ THE END ★
Thank you so so much for reading this book! I do hope you enjoyed it.
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Much Love, Hermyne ❤