I woke up with sore eyes the next day. I glanced at my desk clock to check the time. It was already eight in the morning. Great. It’s Sunday! I could still take rest in my room for the whole day. I stretched my arms and legs then I released a breath of relief.
I groped my phone lazily from the bedside table. I scowled at my phone screen. I had 20 missed calls, 3 messages from an unknown number. I always turn the silent mode on before I go to bed and even if it wasn’t, I won’t be able to hear it because my head was killing me.
I checked time then bit my lower lip. The last call was thirty minutes ago. I tried calling back. They didn’t answer in the first ring. I tried again. Whose phone number is this?
“Hello?” I jolted when someone finally answered. It was a man’s voice.
“Uh, hello? You’ve called me twenty times. May I know who’s this?” I asked, staring at the white ceiling.
He cleared his throat, “Alayna?” he asked.
He knows me? I frowned. “Yes, you called me.” The voice sounded quite familiar.
“It’s Cassius.” He responded.
My eyes grew wide. “Cass... Cassius?”
He let out a soft chuckle. “You left without saying goodbye. Are you still in bed?”
I sat immediately. How could he say it so sexily? “Yeah…” I replied, almost out of breath until I realized I was losing myself again. I just made it clear with Brandon that there was nothing going on between me and Cassius. I slapped forehead. Get a grip, Alayna!
I bit my lip hard, but I kept remembering how he looked last night. “Cassius... why did you call me? How did you get my number?”
“Hmm,” he sang. ” I asked Ollie. I just wanted to remind you how bad you are, for leaving me like that with my grumpy brother.”
I chuckled. “Oliver was grumpy?”
He laughed. “No. Apparently, he had to babysit me because getting furious.” he joked.
“Hmmm… Why did you get furious?” I asked. God, why am I doing this conversation with him like I was flirting? Brandon obviously didn’t want me hanging around with his cousin. Oh no, am I two-timing? It’s just…I liked talking with Cassius. There was no pressure and he was nice.
“Because, I’m attracted to someone who’s already taken,” he forced a laugh. “Anyway, I heard it worked. You must be happy,” he added.
What was he talking about? I didn’t get a thing on what he just, “Just get to the point, Cass.”
“Hello? Are you still there?”
“Yes,” he exhaled sharply. “I’m sorry if I ever caused misunderstanding”
“Cassius, what do you mean?”
“Brandon came out of his comfort zone. My plan was perfect, but what isn’t right is I let myself get in the picture,” he replied. “I fell for you, Alayna.”
He fell—what? Get in the picture? Perfect plan for getting him out? “Hold on. Don’t make me answer a riddle right here.”
“I’m his doctor Alayna. He’s ill, and I was trying to figure out how could I help him. Did you remember what I told you? If he set his mind to whatever he wants to do, he just needs to have the urge to do it? Do you remember when I told you that his brain was sending false signals?”
I nodded, “Yeah, when he thinks it’s painful, it’s going to be painful, so?”
“What Brandon needs is a trigger. I used his jealousy to make him come out.”
“You what?!” I exclaimed.
“Relax. I don’t mean harm. I know that when he finds out you’re with me he’s going to come out and get you. Fortunately, his brain is positively responding.”
Wait,” I interrupted him. God, even if Brandon hated him and doubt him, he was still doing his job. “Why did you do that? I thought it was Oliver—”
“I needed Oliver’s help. Brandon didn’t want to see me,” he chuckled. “His illness is more on psychological. It’s all in his brain, Alayna. So why not use the brain’s capability and create something new? Where did you think Oliver get those? He’s not a doctor.”
“But Cassius, even if you do this… Brandon will still—”
“Hate me? I don’t mind. I have a debt to repay.”
Debt? What kind of debt? I kept the thought in my mind. “Why are you telling me this?”
“So you won’t misunderstand me,” I heard him sighed. “I just wanted to help him and my brother. Oliver is in a tight situation right now. He has a lot of burdens. Brandon needs to come out. He can’t be like that forever.”
“Well... It worked. He went out of his cave,” I bit my lip. I still didn’t understand why Brandon doubted him. There’s must be something to it. Something they won’t tell me. Brandon wouldn’t hate or distrust someone for no reason. He clearly said that he didn’t trust him. But Cassius was obviously doing everything he could to make up it up to him.
“I like you—but oh, I’m not telling this to you because I’m not expecting something,” he exhaled noisily, “I just wanted to tell you that I’m always here for you. That’s it! And also…the next few weeks are going to be tough for Brandon. He might not be able to see you for a while,”
“Yeah, he just told me, but he said it’s not going to take a month,”
“Brandon didn’t know that it was going to be difficult this time. It’s like chemotherapy for cancer. It’s going to be painful.”
“What? And you didn’t tell him? What are you and Oliver’s doing?”
“Alayna, this second death,” he paused, “I mean not literally. He needs to be strong to make it work this time. He’s not completely healed. I know that you understand what I’m trying to say.”
I swallowed hard. The mask. He still had the mask. “When are you going to tell him then? He’ll eventually find out.”
“Brandon needs time. What he needs now is a full treatment. You’ve seen the scar on his chest but you never saw his face and you will never wish to see it. It was his most insecurity. I couldn’t wait any longer to make it go away but he’s just too afraid of my hands.”
“What is it like?” I snapped. “His face… What is he hiding under the mask? Is it anything like the scar on his chest?”
“Worse. Look, Alayna, he’s going to be fine but we need your cooperation. At the moment, you are the only person who he listens to. Don’t ask him too many questions about his life. It frustrates him, even if you are dying to know everything.”
“Okay,” I nodded. “I can do it. Thank you, Cassius.”
“Anytime. Oh, I have to go. I’m flying back home tonight. My mother’s going to kill me.” he kidded. “But I’ll be back next week. Let’s keep in touch.”
We hang up. Damn, this is too much. Sometimes I just wanted to go back to where I didn’t know any of them. I just wanted to live a peaceful life working at a restaurant.
I felt a bit refreshed after a cold bath, but my head was still damned burning. It was still my rest day, but I wanted to check my supplies. Oliver or Madam Lennie were in-charged with the Master’s meal on the weekends. I found Madam Lennie in my station with a new girl.
She looked young. She’s actually very pretty. Her dark hair was braided into two. She’s very slim and taller. She wasn’t wearing the same uniform as mine, only simpler. I couldn’t help but wonder, did they hire a new kitchen staff? If so, why is she at my station?
“Good morning, Madam Lennie.” I greeted as I stepped into my kitchen. “I’m just going to check the supplies, so I could ask the grocer to fill it up,” I told Madam but, I wasn’t looking at her. I was watching the new girl slicing the salmon into thin strips.
“Good morning Alayna, no need dear. I already asked someone to fill up the supplies,” Madam Lennie said. “Oh, Alayna?”
“I’d like you to meet Casey. She’s going to be your assistant, and she’s only in-charge to cook in the weekends. Oliver won’t be working full time here anymore because he has tons of work to do in our Master’s company. Casey will deliver the food to the Master because I am now assigned to the main kitchen.”
I leaned on Madam’s ear, “They allow someone else to deliver food for the Master?” I whispered.
“She’ll be delivering the food in his study. And of course, she can. Casey is Oliver and Cassius sister. She’s the youngest,” she answered in a whisper then Madam cleared her throat, “Casey, dear? Come here.”
Casey stopped, her head shot up, “Madam?” she responded, then her eyes shifted on me. God, she was beautiful, and those grey mesmerizing eyes…It just like Brandon’s. She even looked like him. Her hair wasn’t blonde like his brother.
“Casey, this is Alayna, she’s the Master’s personal chef. She’s going to help you with everything that you want to know. You probably heard of her from your brother.”
“Hi, Alayna,” she slightly waved her hand, then she beamed. Her voice was sweet.
“Casey is studying culinary, so she still needs your supervision.” Madam Lennie told me.
“Okay.” I nodded, “Hi Casey, it’s nice to meet you.” I grinned back.
“Well, I’m going to leave now. I’ll see you later, Casey, Alayna.” Madam Lennie said then she left.
Casey continued to slice the salmon. It was probably the best if I don’t disturb her. The atmosphere was suddenly getting awkward.
“I-uh...I’ll probably see you tomorrow. It’s my-uh-rest day.”
“You are beautiful,” she unexpectedly said, but didn’t bother to look.
“Oh, thank you, Casey.” I smiled a little.
“No wonder my brothers were so smitten with you,” Casey looked up at me then smiled.
I blinked, “W-what do you mean?”
“My brothers like you, Alayna.”
I frowned, confused. Why would she say something like this? “I don’t think Oliver likes me since he’s engaged.”
“No, he likes you. He’s engaged, and he’s to marry Betty next year, but it doesn’t mean he can’t like you. He’s just too gentleman to say it. On the other hand, Cassius might’ve made the first move already?” she asked meaningfully.
I chuckled nervously, “I-I—I have no nothing to say to that.”
“But the Master is the one you like?” she asked.
“How did you know about all of that?” I questioned.
“I know because my brothers talk about you and Brandon,” she shrugged, “I happen to know everything and when I say I know everything, I mean it. There are a lot of things that I knew that my brothers don’t,” she said, that was straightforward, no? And for someone I just met, she sure talks a lot.
“Seriously, just how old are you? You sound like an older person for a teenager.”
She laughed softly, “I am actually older than you, Alayna. I’m twenty-six and culinary is my second major. Psychology is my first,”
“Oh,” Really? She looked so young. “I’m sorry.”
“My room is next to yours. You probably want to meet and chat later. I know that you are curious about a lot of things and it’s good to see someone new in the house.”
“Okay. Sure,” I smiled, “I’ll see you later.”
“See you, Alayna...”