I ran to the bedroom and closed the door then I jumped on the bed and cried as if my life was depending on it. This whole set up was a mess from the very start. He already planned everything, and I wasn’t a part of it. He was going to leave. I knew that this was going to happen. My intuition was right—that we would part ways and he will live his life without me. I already saw it coming, but what was wrong with me? I was the one who wanted him to heal and actually live his life.
Why am I like this? Didn’t you see his face? I asked myself. His wounds were eating his flesh. He needed to be cured. He waited long enough and it could ruin his whole life if he didn’t. What did I actually want?
I wiped away my tears then stood up. I set back my clothes in my luggage for the second time then fixed myself. I shouldn’t be acting like this. I should be more reasonable. Brandon was also in a tight situation right now. I should understand him, right? I just really wanted to cry it out.
“Alayna? Open the door, please. Let’s talk.” Brandon knocked the door.
I heaved a sigh then opened the door. I sniffed, “I... I’m sorry.” I expressed my regret.
He sighed, “I never wanted us to part.”
“I know,” I said. “It must be hard for you, too. I know you have reasons.”
He touched my face, brushing my cheek with his thumb, “I do and believe me or not, you are a part of my every plan.”
“Stop telling that it’s because of me!” I snapped.
He was surprised. He backed away his hand. His face tormented.
“Do you truly understand what’s going to happen in a year? We’re not even sure if you are still you. You wanted to hunt down the people who hurt you.”
“Did you thought I didn’t think of that? You wanted to leave rather than stay in Manhattan because you wanted to fix your family issues and I am okay with that. I am really good with that, but do stop telling me that it’s about me because if it is… you will stay with me.”
Brandon’s shoulders fell, unable to answer.
“I am okay with that and I’m really glad that you wanted to finally do this,” I assured him, forcing myself to smile. “I will always be here, but as I had said we wouldn’t know what’s going to happen. Everything is going to change.”
“My feelings for you will never change,” he promised. He closed his eyes then nodded. A drop of tear fell from as he closed his eyes. “I’m so sorry, Alayna.”
“Don’t be.” I touched his face. “You should have decided to do this a long time ago, you know?” A soft sob escaped his lips then I slid my arms around his waist, clasping his hard rock body.
“It will be a torture without you,” he uttered hoarsely.
“That is why you have to heal really fast. I’m looking forward to seeing you without the mask, without the scar and everything. I’m sorry if I walked away. I’m just so, so mad and surprised.”
“Is this going to be our last night together?” I asked agonizingly.
He did not answer, because we both knew the answer. He answered me by embracing me tightly, burying his face on my neck. I could hear him weeping so softly—like a child crying soundlessly.
The next morning, Cassius finally came to breakfast. He gave Brandon a brotherly hug then occasionally patted his back as if they were longing to hold each other for a long time. It was brief but emotional. They had fought long enough and they were each other’s best friend.
Cassius flashed out a weak smile when he saw me. It was the different side of the Cassius I saw before. He wasn’t the Cassius I met at Brandon’s house. He had a dark under eyes, like shadows—the mark of a sleepless night.
“Hi,” he greeted me.
“Hey,” I smiled back.
“Are you okay?” he asked. “You ready?”
“Yes,” I sighed. “How about Brandon?”
“I’m safe here. No one knows I’m here except Cassius and Oliver. I asked him not to tell his fiancée, and he understands,” Brandon said in a low voice. He stepped next to me, slipped his hand around my waist.
“There’s another sudden change of plan. I was supposed to take back the two girls, but because of what happened, we should be more careful,” Cassius said, understanding the whole situation. “Oliver’s coming here alone in a while to get you, Brandon. He took her fiancée back home last night. You know my brother, for him, the family’s more important.”
Brandon agreed with Cassius with a curt nod, then he spun me around to face him, “Listen to me, Alayna,” he looked into my eyes. “Never leave Cassius side until you’re home. Do you understand? I already asked for additional security for your safety.”
“Okay. Don’t worry about me. Where is Lydia?”
“Lydia’s inside preparing for breakfast. I don’t want you to leave an empty stomach,” he kissed my forehead. “Why don’t we eat first?”
I smiled. “Sure. Cassius, come on in.” I invited.
“I’m starving. I’ve been flying back and forth. I just landed Athens, and then I had to fly again,” he said matter-of-factly.
Brandon chuckled softly, “Are you actually telling that to me?”
A smile curved on Cassius’s lips. “No. Not really,” he teased. Alright, he’s still the Cassius I knew after all. It was great to see them reconciled and having fun on a simple humor.
After our breakfast, everything seemed normal. The two cousins talked like the ordinary days. It was fun listening to them, reminiscing about their childhood until it was time. It was time to finally say goodbye to Brandon.
“Ready to go Alayna?” Cassius asked as he carried up my luggage with him. He was already at the door with Lydia, but Brandon refused to see me to the door because he might change his mind for the last time. He was inside, standing several feet away while watching us from afar.
“Yes. I just need a few more minutes,” I told Cassius.
I ran to Brandon, throwing my arms around his neck. I sobbed once more. He had an unexplainable look on his face. He looked so confused, anxious and down as well. I began to cry so hard, then I finally felt his arms enveloped my body, crushing me, but I didn’t mind.
“I—I had said everything to you…” I whimpered. “Please take care, my Master, for me, will you?”
I knew he was weeping as well, by the sounds of his breath. “I should be the one saying that. I’m the one who’s leaving.”
“I can take care of myself. Oliver’s with me and Casey, of course, Madam Lennie, too. We will take care of the house. You don’t have to worry about us.” I refused to look at him, but I had to. I slightly pulled away to look at his face.
He stared back at me. His beautiful eyes were red and teary like mine. I could feel him quivering against my arms. “Just go, Alayna, before I change my mind.”
I nodded. I faked a smile as I wiped away his tears with my thumb. I reached for his lips then pressed a kiss, but instead of kissing me back, he took gently took my hand away.
“I love you,” I whispered.
He nodded, “I know. Go. Cassius is waiting.”
I bit my lip hard, he won’t even let me touch him. This was more painful than breaking up. It was probably one the cruelest moment of my life.
“Okay…” I nodded, wiping my tears away.
I turned around slowly, walking away with my feeble feet. I was approaching Cassius closer and closer while I was walking farther from Brandon.
“Let’s go,” I initiated.
“Are you sure you want to go? We can go later if you want.”
I smirked, “What’s the difference of that?”
“Just imagine how harder it was for him,” he reminded me. Cassius was right. It was harder for him. He’s the one who’s leaving, and he’s going to be alone.
“I know,” I said then I turned to Lydia. “Lydia, it’s a pleasure to meet you. You have a nice home.”
“Alayna dear, it’s my pleasure. I’m glad you like it here,” Lydia smiled lovingly. She touched my hand just like when I first met her. I look forward to seeing you again. You know, that child... Brandon has a soft heart. He just doesn’t want to see you go because it might break him.”
I nodded then embraced her. “I know. Take care, Lydia.”
She stroked my hair affectionately, “Of course dear. Now, go on. You don’t want to be late with your flight.” I released her and then continued to walk to the door. I glanced at Brandon’s direction once more, but he had already turned his back, walking back into the house as if the world slowed in motion. I sobbed softly.
I guess this is it.
One year later...
“Are you ready Brandon?” Cassius sat next to me, after setting our belongings in the compartment, then he handed me a glass of champagne.
I smirked, then took the glass. “Thank you. I’m more than ready.”
“Are we going straight to the Mansion?” he asked, and then frowned as he took a sip of his liquor.
“No.” I simply answered.
“But why? Alayna’s waiting—”
“I said no. Cassius,” I firmly said. “When will you stop mentioning her?”
“What I was only saying was—”
“Enough!” I snapped. I emptied my glass then handed it back to him. I leaned comfortably on the backrest, closed my eyes and put on my earphones.
Hmm… it’s going to be a long day, I thought as my lips curved into a smile.