Three days later, I asked Cassius if I go outside. He allowed me, but he must take me back to his clinic. I knew he was also extra careful, so he came with me. I was getting used to his company. Cassius was very accommodating and extensively patient with me. After we shop a few things at the mall, we stopped by at Starbucks.
“Oliver’s on his way,” he said, then took a sip of his Frappuccino.
“I’ve been thinking.” I looked at him. “I just thought of this last night.”
“What is it?”
I took a deep intake of breath. What I was about to say needed a lot of courage. “I don’t want to fight with you again. Just listen.”
“I still need my job,” I said, “but I need more time for myself.”
“What are you thinking?”
“I want to see my family just like you said. I’ll come back in two weeks.”
He flashed out a satisfied grin. “That’s great. I’m glad you finally realized that. When do you want to leave?”
“Tomorrow.” I shrugged. “If you allow me to.”
“You’re allowed to see your family. It will help our recovery.”
“Really?” I smiled. “Then, there’s still something else I want.”
He put the cup on the table. “Okay. Let’s hear it.”
“Come with me.”
“Come with me, Cassius,” I repeated. “It sounds ridiculous, I know. But I need you there. You don’t need to stay with me. You can just stay somewhere near me if you’re not comfortable. But, I’m sure my mother won’t mind.”
“Hold on,” he interjected. “You know that this isn’t easy, right?”
“I said, I need you. Please, Cassius. You can’t leave me alone. I don’t want to be alone.”.”
“You’re asking me to go with you in your hometown. For two weeks. That’s isn’t simple, Alayna. You know I can’t do that.” “It’s too much, I know, but I want you to continue my therapy. Will you help me?”
His mouth parted. “Look, I suggested that you should go home to your family so you could have a fresh mind. That’s how I’m supposed to help you.”
“Don’t abandon me!” I shook my head. “Not you too.”
Cassius’ eyes darkened. “What exactly do you want from me?”
“I’ve been holding myself for a few times now. Sometimes I watched you sleep, and you were still there. I am having mixed emotions because of you. You make me laugh, you make me happy, you make me forget that I was in pain—like you’re doing right now.”
“Alayna, I never intended to give you these emotions,” he breathed. He ran his finger through his hair. “Oh, God!”
I’d been picturing myself running my fingers through his hair too. I wanted to kiss him again. Brandon was not even there. He was changed. I saw him with someone else. It was not me who turned my back. He turned away from me first. I should not feel guilty anymore.
On the contrary, Cassius was there for me. I had to admit that something was going on between us. An attraction. He captured me with his gentle heart, his smile, and everything about him made me feel so safe, consumed—just how I first saw him. I was falling for him unintentionally.
“Do you not like me?”
“What did you say?” he was out of breath.
“Tell me. Tell me you don’t like me.”
“That isn’t fair, Alayna. You know what I feel for you,” he said, his eyes softened.
The lump in my chest lungs slightly lightened, and the rapid beat of my heart slowed down. I finally said what I had to say. Brandon didn’t want to do anything with me anymore. He had hurt me enough. It’s like I died inside. I was done with this stupidity.
But I knew my life must go on. I had a family to support. I just had to grab anything that would make me at ease even just a little.
It was Cassius. I believed if he could help me. I should be called the most selfish person alive knowing I could hurt him too, but nothing will change if I don’t try.
“If you think I’m not serious, I will tell Oliver.”
“What!?” he exclaimed. “What will you tell Ollie?”
“You know what I was trying to say. I think I’m admitting that I like you right now,” I confessed. There’s no turning back now.
“What made you think I feel the same?”
“From the first time we met, we already know that there’s something between us. You said so yourself.”
“You’re just confused, Alayna. It’s different now. You’re hurt.”
“But you picked me up!” I pointed. “What? Did you stopped liking me like how Brandon stopped loving me…?”
His eyes softened. “I did not stop, Alayna. But let’s drop this. I thought I was helping you, but I think I’m not. You are just blinded by your emotions.”
“If you think I’m making this up, I will tell everyone of what I feel for you—even to Brandon—”
“Tell me what?” someone said behind me.
I jerked as I recognized his owner. It was the voice I was dying to hear for like a million years. I lifted my head and found Brandon standing next to me.
Cassius and I stood up. The tension inside me grew and my heart rate raised.
The reality was clear to me now. Brandon could walk outside his comfort zone—without his mask. I already saw him once without it, but this was my first time seeing his face up close.
He was glorious… beautiful… mind-blowing… perfect. There were no other words I could think of to describe how magnificent he was. He’s like a brand-new person. He was looking formal and almost regal in his three-piece gray bespoke suit. He’s more fine-looking now that his mask was gone. He oozed charisma and power. I studied the curve of his jaw, dark hair that was never cut the way it was, but he still had his cerulean eyes that seduced me before. But then, reality hit me. He wasn’t mine anymore.
He gazed sharply at us. I could already feel the tension between him and Cassius even there’s no word spoken. Brandon’s eyebrow raised.
“Why don’t we sit?” Oliver interjected. I almost didn’t notice him. They sat casually on the empty chair across me and Cassius. I couldn’t believe how Brandon could act like nothing happened, but he was watching me. I held Cassius’ hand under the table.
“What are you doing?” Cassius whispered.
“I told you already.”
“Are you going to do this right now?” “Is there a perfect time?”
“Don’t do this,” he whispered in my year. “He’s here. He came, just like you want.”
“I don’t have a good feeling about this. Please, Cassius.”
“You know that we could hear you, right?” Oliver informed. “What’s going on?”
Cassius cleared my throat. “Nothing. There’s nothing.”
I forced a laugh. “Oh, come on, Cassius. You know that something’s going on.”
“No,” he warned
“Are we done here?” Brandon’s interrupted. His voice deep, but flat.
“What is it you want to tell us before everything else?” Oliver said. “I heard you have something to tell us?”
“First,” I began. “I want to use my vacation leave, so I could go back to my family,” I said, avoiding Brandon’s eyes which never leave mine.
“That is not what you want to tell me based on what I heard,” Brandon pointed out.
“I’m not finished, I shot back. I didn’t know how I get my courage. Maybe because Cassius was holding my hand. But my heart was getting heavy again—as if the pain never really left.
“I think you both need to talk alone,” Cassius suggested, then he released my hand
“Don’t go.” I grabbed his hand again.
I looked at Oliver and Brandon again. “What I want to say is I just need a vacation and Cassius is coming with me.” There. I said it. It sounded simple, but I wanted to burn inside.
Oliver glanced at Brandon, then looked back at me. “What are you saying, Alayna? What do you mean Cassius coming with you?”
“We talked about this, Alayna.” Cassius’s complained. “Yes. He’s coming. I’m going to take him to my hometown to continue my recovery.”
“Cassius, what’s going on?” Oliver spoke again, and there’s still nothing from Brandon. However, his eyes darkened—as if he would explode at any moment.
“Don’t ask him. He’s the only person who’s ever there for me, so why not?”
“You know that’s not true. We are here for you.”
Suddenly, Brandon blew out a sharp breath in boredom and smirked. “I can’t believe I came all the way here just to hear this piece of crap.”
Oliver grabbed his shoulder. “Brandon! You promised.”
“Yes, I promised, but all I heard is not worthy of my time. Are we all done here?”
“Why did you come here then?” I questioned. It’s insulting. Clearly, he didn’t care about me. “I didn’t ask you to come.”
His expression hardened, and he glared at Cassius. “Because I have to say something—to you at least. But I am expecting to speak with you alone.”
I laughed humorlessly. “If you’re going to say something I already know; no, thank you. I’m not interested to hear it.”
“Did you not hear what I said?” his voice raised. “I said, I wanted to talk to her… alone.” He gritted his teeth, and he was seething under his breath. Then, he glowered at Cassius and Oliver.
“No one is standing,” I ordered. “I told you, right?” I said to Cassius. “I told you I’m going to tell them I’m serious.” I lifted my head. “I’m taking him to my family, to my mother. I want Cassius to meet them, and he will stay there for me as long as I want.”
“What!?” Oliver exclaimed. “What did you just say?”
Brandon smashed the table with his fist, which made the crowd around us look. I jolted, but I managed to compose myself.
“Fuck!” he cursed. He stood up, and he buttoned up his suit. None of us made any movement.
“I did say I don’t want to share, didn’t I?”
I looked up at him, but he said nothing anymore. He stomped away and left.
Oliver remained on his seat. “I thought you wanted to talk to him?” he asked.
“He did not come to talk. He came here to bring a storm.”
“Are you even serious about what you’re saying?”
“Do I need to elaborate more?
He looked at his brother. “And you agreed?”
Cassius was about to answer his brother, but I cut him in.
“It’s my choice, Oliver. Don’t question him.”
“You don’t understand what’s going on now. I asked Brandon to come so both of you could talk. I don’t know what the hell was going on to him because he won’t tell anything to me. I just hoped that he’ll tell you. I don’t agree with his behavior, but this time, it’s on you, Alayna—”
Oliver cut off. Brandon came back. He grasped my wrist and made me stans up.
“Ouch! Brandon, what are you doing?”
Cassius stood in panic. “You’re hurting her!” He was about to reach my hand, but Bandon stopped him.
“Stop. Because if you don't, I will kill you.” His grasped tightened around my wrist. “I don’t care anymore if you fixed this face.”
“Brandon, don’t ever say that to him!” I yelled, trying to pull my hand, but he didn’t listen. “Let me go!”
“Come with me,” he said, then he dragged me outside. Brandon took me to his car, and he slid into the driver’s seat.