I searched for his lips—his full red lips that seemed so soft and inviting. I suddenly wanted to have a taste of him. I never desired anyone as much as I desired him. I never wanted to kiss anyone like this. I leaned over to lock my lips with his, but he shifted his face away.
Brandon let out a heavy breath, “Hmm...” he groaned softly as if he was in pain. “But of course, if I don’t send you away, you won’t have the life you deserve.” He frowned hard. I cupped his unmasked face with my palm. He didn’t seem to mind. I swear, I could feel his warmth beneath my skin and the cold feeling of the metallic. No, he was burning. He was still sick.
I put my hands away, feeling embarrassed by my own action. He did not want to kiss me or anything else. What a mercurial person he is! “I—I’m sorry. Are you okay?
Brandon clenched his fist. He closed his eyes emphatically. He groaned hard. He looked like he was in pain as he was also breathing hard. He fell on the ground.
My eyes grew wide, “Oh, God!” I caught my mouth.
“I’m sorry. Alayna, I’m so sorry if you have to see me like this. I don’t want you to see me like this, but you have to leave,” he said sorely.
“No! W-What’s going on with you?” I lowered down to his level. I tried to touch him but his hand blocked me. It’s like when I was standing beside my mother doing nothing while she was crying in pain. I was useless. I had been trying to prevent my tears from falling, but eyes failed me.
“I-I-I’m going to call Cassius,” I hurriedly ran outside the door. Luckily, his cousins were just right outside his room.
“Alayna? Something wrong?” Oliver frowned.
“I think he’s in pain,” I told them.
“I knew that this is going to happen!” Cassius said tightly. “Tell me, did you really touched him or not?”
“I-I-I’m sorry, yes. But, I don’t understand? What’s wrong if I touch him?”
No one answered. Cassius muttered a curse instead, “Ollie, please bring me my briefcase. I left it in your room. Brandon needs to sleep first before I put him the medicine.”
“Are you sure? He’s been sleeping all day.”
“I don’t have a choice. I need to put dextrose but I cannot touch him.”
“Okay. Is that all?” Oliver asked.
“Yes.” He nodded.
Oliver hurriedly ran through the hallway. We watched him until he was out of sight.
“Come with me,” Cassius grabbed my arm and he dragged away from Brandon’s room.
“If you’d just told me the truth earlier, this is not going to happen,” he said tightly.
“What are you going to do if I told you then?”
“I am going to stop you. This thing occurred before. I don’t want it to happen again to him. It almost killed him—”
“He touched me first!” I snapped.
“What?” he frowned.
“Yes! He said he wanted me, and then he touched me. I just touched him back. What’s wrong? Nothing of this makes any sense. What do you mean it almost killed him?”
Cassius sighed, then he brushed his fingers to his hair, “This is much complicated than I thought.”
“Can anyone just tell me what’s going on with him? So I know what I’m dealing with?”
“Brandon is very sick, Alayna.” He blurted out then he held his breath, he pressed his lips together, trying to stop himself to say something more. “I shouldn’t be the one to tell this to you.”
“Then who’s going to tell me? He’s not going to say anything to me.”
“Because you didn’t have to tell you, Alayna,” His eyes softened.
“W-what do you mean?”
“His sickness is not in his physical body. It’s in here.” Cassius said and pointed out his own temple. “He has a psychalgia.”
I blew out a frustrated breath, “That’s the first time I’ve ever heard of it. Explain it to me in English so I could understand.”
“It’s a mental health disorder. It was caused by trauma, emotional depression, grief or other emotional events. Did you see his scar on his chest?”
“Yes.” I nodded, biting my lip.
“That scar on his chest is only a scar. It doesn’t have any inner damage. But his body remembers the pain. If his brain tells him that it still hurts, it is going to appear as a physical pain. If he feels like vomiting, he’s going to throw. It’s a serious illness, Alayna. ”
I almost wanted to fall on my knees. My head was suddenly spinning. I knew that he was suffering from something, but it did not expect that it was worse. Not only he was bearing emotional pain, but he was also mentally and physically ill as well.
“I want to know what happened to his scar,” I told Cassius. “Oliver said it was burnt scars.” What the hell happened to him? What or who made him like this? He was completely ruined.
“It’s more than that,” he said. “Oliver didn’t tell you everything. Alayna, Brandon was tortured.”
I clasped my mouth with my palm. “No. Oh, God! Who would do that to him?” I began to cry.
“I don’t know. None of us know. He won’t tell us, but the medical results stated that he was physically abused. He was dying when they found him next to his dead mother and sister. It was dreadful. I was there when they took their bodies out of the burning house. I thought he’s not going to make it, but he was a survivor. No one knows what happened that night, Alayna. It’s only Brandon.”
My throat suddenly felt dry. “I don’t think I want to hear any more about it. Maybe he doesn’t want to tell anyone because he’ll remember it,” I wiped the tears away from my cheeks, “Why the heck am I crying? I should not be crying. My mother didn’t want to see me cry when she was in pain because it doubles her pain.”
“What happened to your mother?” Cassius asked softly.
I sniffed, “She has cancer.”
“Oh, I’m so sorry, Alayna. But,” he let out a sigh, “don’t take it too far if you’re leaving anyway.” He said suddenly.
“Brandon won’t make it for the second time.” He looked at me, sincerely. “Alayna, I can see that you are a good person. However, this whole setup isn’t normal. If you choose this path, you can never turn your back and do whatever you want. Are you ready for that kind of life?”
Turn back from the life that I want? What do I want?
I just wanted to pluck my family out of poverty. I wanted to be a chef, build my own restaurant, and see my mother world class healthy again. I wanted to marry to loving man and have kids with him. Those were my dreams before I stepped into Master Brandon’s mansion. Did I already forget about all of it?
I began to yet another cry. I did not know what to do or to say. Cassius was right. I should not be selfish and turn my back to the reason why I was here. I should not sacrifice everything just because I liked someone. I had twelve mouths to feed and a mother who needed an immediate operation. My life was not in this house. I did not know that a few days in this household could change me so much.
“I don’t know. It’s only been a few days. Is this even possible? It felt like years to me. I’ve only known him for a few days, for goodness sakes!” I sobbed. I could not stop myself anymore. I feel like an idiot.
“Hey…” Cassius called out softly, extending his arm to lightly pat my shoulder. I hovered my face against my palms. I just could not stop crying. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean anything,” he said tenderly.
“I don’t know what to do anymore,”
“There’s another way. You can still help to come out.”
“I already did,” a stern cold voice suddenly echoed in my ears. I jumped in surprise as I saw Brandon out of his room, he was still shirtless and barefoot. He was standing just a few feet away from us. He eyes were glowering at me and Cassius. Oliver was behind him wearing an anxious expression.
“B-Brandon,” Cassius drew away his hand, then he took a step back.
“What the fuck are you telling Alayna?”
“I’m just telling her the situation,” Cassius answered.
“And who gave you the right to say anything?”
Cassius heaved out a sigh, “But it’s truth, Brandon.”
“The truth?” Brandon raised an eyebrow, “What to do you fucking know of the truth?”
“Brandon, please it’s not what you think,” I interrupted. “Cassius is just being thoughtful?”
His piercing cerulean eyes darted at me, “Stay away from him, Alayna.” Brandon ordered.
“But you don’t understand. We’re just—”
“I said step the fuck away from him. I don’t want to tell you again!” Brandon roared this time. Fear suddenly crawled all over my skin.
“Brandon, you can do this later,” Oliver stepped in front of him, “Just go back to your room for now. It’s not good for you to be here. You’re still sick and—”
“Shut up, Oliver! Isn’t this want you want for me? To come out of my fucking cave?” he shouted at Oliver’s face and then he shoved him away to walk towards his other cousin. “You just came back and you think you know everything. Ah, it’s not even twenty-four hours and you’re sticking yourself so much in here?”
Cassius sighed sharply, “It’s not like that, Brandon,” his voice remained soft and composed.
“I told you that being my doctor is the only thing you can do for me. But why do keep getting in the way and you just couldn’t keep your mouth shut for one second?” Brandon snarled.
“Because you won’t give people a chance! You don’t give everything a chance! I told you, I was sorry. It was my mistake what happened to you a year ago. I should have known better because I’m your doctor. I even left this house because I thought you would do better without me. But look at yourself now.”
“I was willing to welcome you back!” Brandon’s eyes grew wide, “But you just fucking blew it up when you started to open your mouth and talked about me.”
Cassius smirked with a drop of sarcasm. He shook his head, “I can’t believe you are this immature. Let me ask you something, Brandon,” he paused then he glanced at me, “Until when are you going to keep Alayna here?” he asked, his eyes shifted back at Brandon.
“It’s none of your fucking business,” Brandon replied with his low baritone voice.
“I know, of course,” he nodded. “But before anything else why don’t you look at yourself. Face the reality, Brandon. Alayna has a life! And so as Oliver.”
Oliver did not say anything. He only looked up to his brother then he quietly let out a sharp breath.
“Lennie gave up her whole life even building a family of her own just to stay with you,” Cassius continued, “You can’t expect everyone to stay with you forever and doing nothing but keep their mouth shut. Didn’t you think that Lennie deserves a life more than this? We deserve to know why we’re doing this so we could help you. I gave up my dream and become a doctor because of you. I can’t let my best friend, my closest cousin die alone in loneliness, but you keep on pushing me away! Oh, for the meantime of my life, I had lived outside your world happily—”
“Are you done?” Brandon snapped. “Do you think I didn’t know any of that? Did I ask all of you to do that for me? I didn’t ask anyone of you—”
“Yeah! You didn’t. We did this to ourselves! You are selfish, Brandon. Oh, then now there’s Alayna. This time it will be different. She’s not me or Oliver. I’m just telling her what she’s up to. She deserves to know everything.”
“Cassius, no.” Oliver shook his head, “That’s enough.”
“It’s okay, Oliver.” I finally spoke after a long period of listening to their painful resentments. “I only have two years. I don’t plan on staying much longer than that. Now, are we done here?” I asked everyone.
None of them answered, but at least they stopped cursing each other.
The truth was already in front of me. What happened to them should not happen to me. I was shaken and I did not know when would I stop nor if I could ever stop wanting him. I just realized one thing, I should not have involved myself too much with the Master.
“If we're finished with the drama, let’s just go on with our lives. It’s past ten in the evening. I think all of us should take a rest.”