“Of course, my brother praises you a lot.” Cassius grinned, then left a gentle squeeze in my palm before slipping his hands into his pocket.
They were both blondes. Oliver and his brother shared the same genes. I didn’t know much about the family tree, but they seemed to be cousins from the maternal side since the Master appeared to be distant from his father. I even wondered if the Master’s father knew that his son was locking himself up to his room or if he was still alive.
Cassius had a nice skin. He was pale, but not pale as anemic pale, no. His lips were red and full. He was the most opposite of the Master that I could think of; confident and proud. He was more handsome than any other movie star out there. I hadn’t met anyone like them in my twenty-five years of living. I did not mean that he was more beautiful than his cousin, which I wasn’t really sure. The Master covered his face with a mask.
Oliver seemed overly glad about his brother’s presence. He just couldn’t stop smiling, “Alayna, share the dinner with us,”
“I prepared the dinner. It’s for the Master but he told me you’ll take care of it. I still cooked it just in case he decided to call me,” I pressed a hard line on my lips. He sent me away after making me confuse and made my fantasies real.
“The Master fainted Alayna and we wanted to ask you what happened before you left,” Oliver asked with a frown.
I clasped my mouth in surprise. “W-why? What happened? Did he—”
“Did something happened?” he asked.
“We just—talked,” I swallowed then I looked away. As much as I wanted to tell Oliver what happened, I wasn’t comfortable talking about the Master to him with his brother around. He was suddenly making me conscious of him. I didn’t know. I had to admit, I found him very attractive. What’s going on with me? I’m not this kind of person.
“What did you talk about?” Cassius asked. His voice made me jolt. He cocked his head to my side.
“Hmm... It was nothing important,”
“Are you sure?” Oliver asked.
“Yeah. It’s nothing important,” I laughed nervously, “and he sent me away.” I swallowed. Well...something happened—ish.
“Okay,” Oliver nodded. “I’ll take care of it. You should rest after the dinner.”
I nodded, “Sure. Thank you. I’ll just serve the dinner,” I forced a smile.
Cassius smiled back, “I would love to taste whatever you give us.”
“Hmm!” Cassius sang in approval as he tastes a spoonful of the lasagna I made. “Tastes good. This reminds me of my Venice days.” He said while he chews his food slowly in his mouth. I watched his red lips as he deliciously ran his tongue on his lower lip. I looked away quickly. I abruptly thought how would it be like if those lips on mine and his arms wrapped around my waist. I mentally slapped myself in embarrassment. I suddenly felt like I was betraying the Master which was not really a betrayal because we weren’t even together.
What is wrong with me? It is not wrong to become attracted to someone when you are single! “Uh, thank you.” I smiled.
“Alayna studied culinary and she actually worked at a restaurant in Venice,” Oliver explained.
“Oh, really? Because I swear this is what an authentic lasagna tastes like.” Cassius said, and then he ate another spoonful of his food. “Hmm…fantastic.”
“Brandon would not hire her if she’s not talented,” Oliver commented then he took a sip of his red wine. Oliver winked at me. I suddenly wanted a sip for myself but I noticed that we already emptied the bottle. I gulped hard.
“Indeed.” Cassius agreed.
“We need more wine.” Oliver said, “Do you want something else to drink brother?”
“A glass of scotch, please,” Cassius answered.
“Alright!” Oliver stood quickly and he exited the door, leaving me and Cassius alone.
An awkward silence dominated the dining room. I watched him as he sliced the bread and he ate a bite size.
“So... I heard that Brandon has a thing for you,” Cassius’s voice echoed in my ear then he looked at me, “and something happened before you left his room. Did you touch him?” he asked straightforwardly.
I swallowed hard. “Why would I do that?”
“Simply because you like him.” He grinned meaningfully. “Why did you tell Oliver that nothing happened when he asked you?”
“Because nothing really happened.”
He chuckled, “Hmm... You’re not good at lying. So, what’s your reason?” He ate another bite size of his bread, “Come on, I won’t tell Oliver.”
I couldn’t believe it! He’s not just overconfident; he was self-absorbed. Truly, a person’s outside appearance does not mirror the inside. “I said it was nothing important,” I snapped.
His eyes peered, “Brandon’s not going to be like that if nothing happened. You touched him. I know for sure.”
“H-how could you know?”
“Because I was his doctor and I know his condition.”
I held my breath and gritted my teeth.
“Tell me while Oliver is still busy. I was really planning to talk with you alone.”
“I already answered to what you’re asking.” I looked away. God, I thought he was nice. He was just another bastard.
“Hmm...alright, another question. Are you seeing someone?”
I gaped at him. How did that become your business? “I have no boyfriend!”
“Shh...” he looked around and then he looked back to me, “No boyfriend? Then who are you talking to on the phone?”
“I was talking to my mother. Why are you asking me things like this? Who do you think you are?” I said loudly. I stood from my seat.
“What’s wrong with my question? If you are not hiding anything? Why are you getting angry?” He looked up to me.
“W-why would I hide anything?”
“Then why don’t you tell me the truth?”
“I already told you.”
“No, you didn’t. Why?” he grinned playfully.
I blew out a sharp breath, “Poisonous bastard.” I whispered.
“What did you just said?” he frowned.
“The hell you care!” I walked to the door to leave but he was already behind me. He grabbed my arm.
“Hey, I’m sorry. Okay? Don’t go, please.”
“Let me go.” I hissed.
Cassius let go of my arm. He let out a soft laugh. He rested his hands on his waist. “I understand now what Oliver meant. I want to properly introduce myself. I’m Cassius Katrakis. Brandon’s mother is my father’s sister if you are curious. Hmm... Brandon and I grew up together. I’d like to know more about you but unfortunately, Oliver might be in his way. So, we’ll just have to talk some other time.”
“Why do you want to talk to me?” I asked, a bit annoyed.
“Simple. I want to talk to the woman who let Brandon out for the first time in ten years.”
“I didn’t know why he came out so... there’s nothing to talk about.”
“Guys! Brandon’s awake,” Oliver appeared at the door. He was panting, “He just called. Cassius, come with me,” Oliver turned to me, “Alayna, I have to hurry. I didn’t know he was going to wake up so soon. Bring his dinner and follow us in ten minutes. Don’t come in until you are permitted. Okay?”
I nodded. “O-okay.”
I watched Oliver left first. Cassius shifted his head on my side, “We still have a lot to talk about,” he told me and then he followed his brother.
It was quiet in Brandon’s room when I came after the siblings. I stood in front of the door while waiting for Oliver’s signal. Several maids had already walked on the way and they were watching me strangely as if I did something wrong to them. I never really talked to anyone in the house except for Oliver and Madam Lennie. But I knew they were talking about me. It was probably because I was the only person who could come in and out to the Master’s room.
It’s been fifteen minutes and I was still waiting. The food was getting cold. I wasn’t even sure if I was only waiting for nothing. I sighed in frustration. What the hell am I doing? Until the siblings finally came out of the room.
“Alayna, I don’t know what happened but, he said he wanted to talk to you in his study.” What? In that creepy white room again?
“I don’t know why or what’s happening. He won’t say anything why he’s being like this so suddenly.”
“No. I want to talk to him like how normal people talk. Ollie, it’s weird to talk like that. He’s just in the other side of the wall so please…”
Oliver sighed, “Alayna, he’s not in good shape right now.”
“I don’t want to talk to him then. I don’t want to see how ridiculous I am. I don’t want to talk over that shitty telephone when I know that he’s only in there.”
“Alayna...” Oliver’s shoulders fell.
“Let her, Ollie.” Cassius interrupted, “and we’ll see what’s going on with Brandon. I think Alayna is trying to prove us something,”
“I want to talk to him privately.”
Oliver nodded. “Make it quick. He still needs to rest.”
The Master was standing by the oversized glass window when I came inside. This was the first time I saw him open a window and watch the outside world. He was only wearing white sweatpants and bare on the top. My eyes roamed on his physique and admired how sexy was. He had broad shoulders yet his waist was slim. His back had muscle cuts, he probably got from carrying weights. I swallowed hard. I stood several feet away from him.
“You want to talk to me in that room again—with that shitty telephone. Why? I thought you allowed me to talk to you like this.”
“I didn’t promise you anything,” he replied, his voice hoarse.
“Why do you want to talk to me?”
“I don’t think I can let you walk around my room anymore.” He didn’t bother to show his face.
“I thought we’re fine like this? You said you want me?”
“Yes, but I am not the man for you,” I heard him exhaled sharply than he finally faced me. I gasped as saw the scar on his chest again. It was too red as if it was still fresh and it looked pitifully dreadful. My heart twitched.
I caught my mouth in surprise, “What happened to you?” I breathed.
“You deserve so much better. You should not be with a man like me,” he said.
“Stop,” I snapped, “Don’t say anything.” I sighed. “Is this what you want? Complications?”
“Of course not. Don’t you see this scar?” he swallowed hard, “Until this thing exists, I won’t be able to live how I wanted to live my life,”
“Everything you said doesn’t make any sense. I don’t care, okay? You don’t want me to touch you? Fine! I won’t. But don’t just send me away right after you told me that you wanted me.” I began to cry. I looked away swiftly.
He sighed and then he took a few steps forward, “Alayna…” he called out softly.
“Don’t come any closer.” I wiped my tears away, “If this is about me touching you, I can work with that. I just don’t want to be treated like shit by talking over that telephone again. It was very weird.”
“Do you think this is all about that? How many times have you tried to touch me and it didn’t matter? Something is going on between us, but I am not capable of leading this into something more. I won’t be able to protect you—to take care of you. I won’t be able to give the life that you want.”
“Then come out and face the world. Stop doing this to yourself!” I exclaimed, “You can talk to me and tell me what’s wrong. You can tell me everything. Let’s try, Brandon. Please?”
His brows furrowed, “What did you just call me?”
“No, you called me...” he swallowed, “Say it again,”
“Brandon,” I muttered.
A chuckle escaped his lips, “I haven’t heard someone call me by my first name for a long time, except for Oliver.”
“I’m sorry, I just got carried away.” I chuckled nervously.
“No. I told you, you call me whatever you want. I don’t mind anymore.”
“Do you this will work?”
I nodded, “This is going to work.”
Brandon stepped closer then he slipped his muscular arms around my waist, pulling me against him, squeezing me tight. He felt hard as a rock. I wrapped a hand on the back of his head then I tangled a handful of his hair. Brandon pushed me gently, pinning me against the wall. He pressed a kiss on my neck. I gasped. His breath felt warm on my skin. Small tingles radiated all over my body like there were tiny little bolts covered my skin. His lips went up to the back of my ears, leaving sweet kisses as if he knew where my sensitive parts. His mouth felt so wet…so damned soft. I was aching to touch him but I knew I couldn’t.
He breathed in my ear, “Alayna, if we are going to choose this path, it’s going to be hard.”
“I know,” I whispered back.