“How much did Adrian actually tell you?” If he wanted to know about him, I had to give him what he wanted but it didn’t mean that I couldn’t be cautious of my wording and how much I gave away that specific information.
“Just enough that I would welcome you in but not to the point it fixed my insatiable hunger for knowledge about what you are. ” He smiled, his lips curling into somewhat of a snarl, the corner of his eyes pulled up. “So tell me what exactly in you will they use to solve the issue. Will you be used as a sacrifice?”
Tensing up next to me, Isaiah noisily dropped his fork onto the plate before turning fully to Francis. “No one is anyone’s sacrifice.” His tone stern and it surprised me that he actually meant it. It had me wondering if he really didn’t know what I’d have to give up, he couldn’t be this naive or oblivious to the truth.
A shrill laugh echoed through the hall, manically he clapped his hands together, excitement glistening in his pupils. “Yes, I knew it when I first met you. Your knight in shinning amour.” Pointing towards me, he continued. “You two are together, no.” That wasn’t more of a question but than an proclamation like he knew more about us than we’d like him too.
Isaiah opened his mouth, evidently wanting to say something but I stopped him before he could. “We’re not together. I thought this was about me and only me. Don’t change the subject.” My tone rigid, leaving no room for any sort of arguments.
“Of course, je comprehend. But if not a sacrifice, what then? Can you crack an unsolvable code or something?”
Simply, I didn’t know, nothing made any sense to me anymore. His question were plausible but I just couldn’t answer then to the point it made me ask those exact questions. “I don’t know. We’ll see when we get there.”
“There?” Momentarily he stilled. “Yes, HQ. ” Giving a pointed look to Adrian, I was wondering exactly how much he trusted to Francis and if it was a good decision, there most have been countless others he knows, why him? “I’m not a villain, mes amis. Some would say I’m a little eccentric. And they’d be correct. But a villain, non.”
I nodded, not entirely convinced of what he currently told us. How much could we actually rely on him? “We trust you.” Immediately when I said that, it left a bitter taste on my tongue, but if he wanted to hear that, he could. Ignoring the looks that everyone was throwing my way, I pushed on. “You let us into your home, despite knowing what we are and how risky it is. For that I am grateful.”
“Merci, ma chérie. But I don’t think you can be the voice for the rest of your friends.” His eyes landed on each and every individual that sat on the table, but no one said anything and I could tell he was getting aggravated. “Well, I’ll take that as a no.”
“You need to start understanding Francis they don’t think like us, they’re not hardwired the same way. Us two are more alike in nature than what they’ve been brought up with.” In reality, I didn’t see them any differently but the way he was peering at them as if they were his enemies spoke volumes. He may have put faith in me and Adrian but definitely not Isaiah or Zee. That was something we couldn’t afford right now. “They are gratefully, truly.”
Coyly, he smiled. “It’s no matter. Well since you are all fugitives now, you need all the aid you can get.”
And for the second time this evening, I froze not sure I’d like what he had to say next.
“Fugitives?” For the first time since this dinner began Zee, her tone laced with enquiry. I could tell this alerted her but still she didn’t seem all too surprised at this, as if she knew it was bound to happen.
“You didn’t know.” Seemingly his voice was smothered with concern, but I knew otherwise. He didn’t care for our situation, he only wanted what benefited him and him alone. I couldn’t tell whether we had an ally or an enemy. But I was praying it wouldn’t be the latter. Again, he clicked his fingers and one of his servants sauntered off out of the room and only a pin drop was heard, he came back clutching what looked like a newspaper. Staring closer it had big bold letters that said ‘fugitives’ and a mixture of all our pictures on the front page. “As you can see this isn’t good news for any of you.” Holding it up, gifting the others with the same information I had just acquired.
I could tell they knew this was a probable outcome but they didn’t look all to worried, still it could be an act to show Francis we didn’t need to depend on him. Nevertheless I wasn’t planning to grant him the satisfaction it seemed he was craving.
“That means nothing.” I turned to Isaiah, he seemed so sure of himself that it brought out another side of him that I guess until now I wasn’t privileged to see. “We don’t need your help. We don’t need to rely on you. And we definitely aren’t going to suck up to whatever nonsense your playing.”
“But you’re in my house, non?” His lips tugged into a grin.
Beside me Isaiah shook his head and proceeded to get up. “If you keep throwing this in our face, simple we’ll leave. We’re not indebted to you in any way and I don’t know why Adrian would even trust you with something this big. Poor judgement on his part,” His voice dropped lower until I was certain he only targeted this at me. “Or mine.” And there he was blaming himself for everything we’ve landed in. But I knew he wasn’t fully to take responsibility, I should have tried harder to stop Adrian but if I did where would we be at now. The police? The military? Or worst, dead? And where would be thousands- millions of people be left will, with this sad existence of life where suffering followed and haunted them wherever they went, I couldn’t live with myself if I didn’t attempt to right the wrong.
If this was meant to be, if I was meant to be this beacon of hope, I’d fully commit.
Laying a hand on top of his stopped him cold in his tracks, I could tell he was edging to say something and finish what he began but he read my expression so easily he stopped whatever it was he had in mind to do. Without saying a word he sat down.
He needed to believe us and trust in what we were envisioning and the only way he could is if I opened up, let him somewhat interrogate me. Being vulnerable shows people that at least they can trust you and your judgement and the people you choose to surround yourself with. And in spite of us liking Francis or not, we needed him. Going outside into the real world without a plan in sight would be more or less, suicide. And no one was going to die by my hands, least of all Zee and certainly not Isaiah. Flashes of Jordon’s dead body encased my mind, flowing freely despite trying my utmost hardest to forget, repel, suppress that memory. I guess I’ve come to realise how that could easily have been me in Zee’s position and Isaiah blood seeping out his chest and the blood and life draining out of him. The thought alone was becoming increasingly hard to bear. “You want to know so much about this mission, about me. Ask away, anything you have don’t be afraid to question me.”
He seemed to take the bait, watching me with an amused expression which only did it’s job to sickening me to my core, he knew that I’d have no choice but to bend to his will. Clearly he knew how much I cared for Isaiah and he was willingly using that same trait that was the only thing I admired about myself and used that as the very same weapon against me. Normally my appetite would be at full blast but nothing passed through my head at this point. Even the others seemed opposed to eating, no one touched the food stored on their plates. Francis noticed and relished in our discomfort. ” Alexis, what you need to understand here is that despite what you may think about me, despite what you’ve pictured me as in your head. I’m the complete opposite, I’m not a villain. I just wants what’s best for the world-”
“And for yourself.” He only smiled at this, looking even more amused. Me challenging him didn’t phase him at all.
“Well, yes quite naturally. But aren’t we all. Isn’t it human nature to care for yourselves firstly. Convince me I’m wrong.” He paused, seemingly waiting for my reply but I had none to give him. “Well in your case, I’m guessing it’s an exception. But I need to tread lightly with what I say, or lover boy isn’t going to be too pleased.” Gesturing to Isaiah, I followed his trail and I could tell he was trying to reign in his anger. It was evident in his demure, his posture, his tensed up jaw. He didn’t like anything about this situation and to be completely honest, neither did I. “So tell me, your background, your family. Adrian didn’t leave me with any of the details and I couldn’t help but wonder if our protector is a blue blood or a commoner. Be brutally honest.”
He wanted brutal honesty, I guess I’d give him that. “You want to know about my private life, fine. My dad died when I was young. My mum now depends on this totally worthless, pathetic excuse for a human being even though she deserves so much more than that. He abuses her and used to do the same to me, but now I’m gone I have completely no idea what she’s passing through, sometimes I wish I could do something to help her, help transition back into the woman she used to be and other times I think she deserves all she gets, to let someone like that into our lives - my life is worst on her part, like she’s condoning everything he puts her and me through. And the beam of my existence, my little brother Evan still lives in that pit. And when I get stable, when I’m on my feet I’d do everything and anything to get him out. Brutal enough for you, Francis?”
Undeniably the tension gradually climbed and j could tell each and everyone’s gazes were on me. Yet it didn’t make me feel uncomfortable, it made me feel better about my past and although I know that Zee and Isaiah knew to some extent my family history, I knew indefinitely that all those raw emotions weren’t expected.
It took every ounce of fighting the self resistant I was feeling to not tell him or anyone about me but it was necessary. Once again, it worked.
“Well yes, all those emotions seemed to sprout from a deeper place. One more personal question, that is, if I may?”
“If everything goes perfectly to plan and you all made it there in one piece and you had one choice, sacrifice yourself for the greater good or live out a fully happy life with Isaiah. “I proceeded to answer his question, knowing entirely well what my response would be. Yet he stopped me, holding one bony, pale hand, meshing it together with his other and rested his chin on them, continuing, “But there’s a catch, you see. In order to save the world, Isaiah would have to die but if you don’t Evan would die. Blood or love. What would you choose, or rather, which?”
Momentarily, I felt my facade faltering but before Francis or anyone could notice to slip up I built myself back up, I’ve had a lot of practice in doing so, to the point it was becoming second nature. “I don’t see what that has to do with anything. Why is that even relevant?”
“I’m just merely curious. Entertain me with a response, you did say you’d be willing to answer any questions. And from what I could tell, it is one. ”
Clearly, this wasn’t going to be dropped so soon, I needed to give him what he wanted. Mirroring his smile I decided to take it further, I dragged my chair closer to him, to the point of knees were colliding. Everything about him was cold; his presence, his skin, everything. Completely opposite of what I felt with Isaiah.
I could tell he wasn’t happy with my close proximity with Francis, but I guess he didn’t catch on as how much it was killing me being apart from him. His whole aura calmed me completely, now I felt like I was being fed to the lions and left alone to fend for myself. “Francis, why don’t you ask something more interesting, more compelling.” I mustered up the most playfully smile my lips allowed me to stretch to, but I just knew it wasn’t nearly as convincing as I wanted it to be.
And he saw right through that. “My dear, all in due time, we do have all the time in the world. But first, answer what I asked you.”
Everything in me felt drained, like all my efforts were failing and this strong bravado I was putting on, was nothing but fake. How could he possibly make me decide between the two of them, I knew it wasn’t in reality but with everything that’s played out, it felt real enough to the point I couldn’t help but feel if I decided maybe something would happen to the extent that something or someone in the universe chose to toy with my emotions and it actually happens. Either one of their losses, I just couldn’t live with. “I’ve always wanted Evan to live a full, happy life.”
“So Evan, you would pick Evan.” He pressed on, trying to squeeze more out of me.
I didn’t response and he took that as all the answer he needed.
Glancing over at Isaiah his eyes didn’t hold any malice to them but more so of understanding as if he wouldn’t have even dared me to change my mind, he shot me a slantwise smile before casting his eyes downwards.
“I hope I haven’t caused a rift between the both of you?” There was a slight twinkle in his eyes, as they wavering from me to Isaiah and back again.
“No.” Remaining in my same position, my eyes searched for his until they both were locked in. “Because we both know that I’d die before I let anything bad happen to him, so all you did was to only push me to admit my feelings more. Something that I was struggling with before, but now I’ve come to realise professing what you feel doesn’t make you weak, or easier for others to berate. It means your strong and becoming stronger.” Not a word of it was meant for him but instead it was meant for Isaiah, if I didn’t tell him how I genuinely feel then when will be the right time? Yet, I keep wondering if I’m making the right decision, if I’m not only putting him in harms way, physically but also emotionally. When he’s left without me, what then?
Isaiah normally bright eyes darkened for a spilt second before returning back to his usual colour. But he didn’t stop staring at me with as much depth that I felt myself also giving out. “Alexis, ” He began, expelling out a pent-up breath through his teeth. “You know I’d rather die before letting anything happen to you or let anyone touch you. You need to understand how I feel about you and the thought of anything happening to you.” Again he let out another deep breath. “I wouldn’t know how to cope, nothing would be worth living - fighting for -”
“I appreciate the sentiments.” Francis interrupted, cutting Isaiah off from finishing and I found myself aching to know what he wanted to say. ” But can I ask Miss Reign another burning question on my mind.”
Directing his question to me, I tore my gaze away from Isaiah concentrating on Francis. I nodded.
“You say if you corrected the world, everything returns back to normal. Everything gets distributed equally then, wealth wise?”
Why was he asking me this? I nodded cautiously trying to suss out anything that gave away what he was thinking. Nothing. ” I’m guessing so, the benefits system will start working more efficiently and money will be distributed fairly, especially to the ones that are in most need of it. Isn’t it what you want?”
For a moment his act fell and for once a frown overtook his features. “Nothing will give me greater joy in the world. Nothing.” He seemed there but not completely, as if he was concocting some sort of complicated plan in his head and despite what I though of him, he was smart, exceptionally smart and that pause and break of character, no matter how miniscule sent chills down my spine.
Something wasn’t right.
One light knock tapped on my door and without my approval, Isaiah walked inside making his way straight to the edge of my bed sitting down directly in front of me. Despite everything that happened at dinner, it still managed to flow as smoothly as possible, after Francis bombarded me with the last question that seemed to take him back a little he stopped shortly after and the tension dissolved and everything bounced back into full swing, honestly I was reluctant to eat but after Isaiah took a bite out of mine to check for any poison and drugs much to my protest and there was no sudden effect. I deemed the food relatively safe. But not Francis, not even close.
“Are you okay?”
I looked at him, cocking my head to the side before smiling. “Did I tell you to come in?”
“I thought you’d be asleep.” He smirked. “I’m trying to check up on you, is that bad?”
I shrugged. “No.”
Another silence fell, but not because it was awkward and we were running out of things to say, I guess we were just basking in each other’s presence. It felt completely comfortable.
“Do you think we can trust Francis?”
He frowned, before looking at me. “Honestly speaking no. There’s something about that guy that rubs me the wrong way, like he doesn’t want you to succeed for some reason. Like he enjoys others being in pain.”
I guess it wasn’t just me that noticed the exact same thing. “I agree. Adrian picked the wrong guy.”
“I knew it was a mistake bringing him here, if anything were to happen to either one of you, it’d be my fault. I’d have to be accountable to my actions.”
“Don’t say that Isaiah, we’d equally share the responsibility, you can’t just let all of this rest of your shoulders. We’re doing this together, remember?”
He stilled before a corner of his lips hitched up into a smirk. “So it’s now you decide it’s appropriate to follow what I say.”
I shrugged in which he just laughed, shaking his head, amused at my reaction. “You’re definitely something else, Alexis.” He paused, I could tell he was contemplating whether or not it would be right to bring this up at this situation. “You know everything I said back there was true, every word of it.”
He was advancing getting closer, whilst his eyes were fixated at my lips. Everything in my body dropped almost immediately as I could feel his heat radiating off him in ripples.
“I thought you said that we weren’t supposed to be together, that it couldn’t work-”
His hands caressed my cheeks, slowing pulling me nearer. “Shut up.” Instantaneously his lips crashed onto mine. Everything I felt before, I was feeling again except ten times more intense than before. Everything whirled and twisted inside of me that I was losing grip of my bearings so I locked both arms around his neck, which in response he proceeded to deepening in the kiss further. And this whole feeling I was experiencing was something money couldn’t never come close to.