One Murder For Another

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Chapter 28

Khalil’s fists curled into themselves, his nails digging into the skin of his palm with vigor at the mention of Asher’s name and it took all of the will he possessed not to come flying out of the closet in both anger and frustration. It seemed that no matter how close he became with Mina, no matter how far he tugged her away from her perfect life, Asher always found a way to sneakily weave his way back in. At first he only wanted to keep him at bay so he wouldn’t end up like Noah, crazed and on a trail to convince everyone she met that he was crazy, but now it was about something even bigger. It wasn’t about suspicion anymore, it was about jealousy.

Asher had been Mina’s boyfriend for years before he showed up, and he would be a fool to think that they hadn’t loved each other, but thoughts of what they had shared never failed to plague his thoughts and he was scared that one day she would wake up this fever dream and choose him all over again.

He blamed himself. He had meant to get close to Mina, but not this close. The plan had been to give the Mendes family what they deserved, to hold them accountable for what they had done, but instead he had gotten distracted. He had had a taste of something he hadn’t felt in forever, he had a taste of freedom. Since the night his parents had died all he had ever felt was anger, frustration, and a longing for somewhere to belong to, someplace to call home. Mina gave him a home, she made him feel loved and cared for, and in her tiny frame he had found everything he had been missing in life.

Staring at her through a small sliver of a crack from inside her closet, watching the way Asher spoke to her, eyed her, touched her, he realized he couldn’t ever let her go.

“Asher-” Khalil held his breath, trying to be as quiet as possible as he eavesdropped on Mina and Asher’s conversation. “what are you doing here?”

“I was gonna call” Asher didn’t meet her eyes as he spoke “but I didn’t think you would pick up even if I did.” he attempted to chuckle to himself, but the gesture didn’t reach the corners of his eyes and clearly brought him pain. “I was half convinced you were gonna tell your mom not to let me in.”

“I tried.” Khalil couldn’t hide a smirk at Mina’s snark remark. Maybe he didn’t have much to worry about after all.

“I-I deserve that.”

“You deserve worse than that Asher.” Mina crossed her arms tightly over his chest. “Why are you even here? Did you want to run all the classes and cheer practices I’ve missed over with me again?”

“I came-” he heaved a heavy sigh “I came to apologize MJ”

There was a brief moment of silence where the only thing that could be heard was the evening sounds of crickets beginning to chirp through the open window as the sky began to turn steadily darker before Mina spoke.

“I’m listening.” she nodded her head towards him, urging him on.

“The way I handled things at school- well I didn’t handle them the right way, and I’m sorry for yelling at you and- and coming across as strong as I did and making you feel like you were wrong and dumb for your decisions. You’re your own person and you’re allowed to make mistakes, no one expects you yo be perfect or-”

“Mistakes?” she cut him off. “What mistakes Ash?”

“MJ” he sighed “I can apologize for my attitude at school and the way things went down, but I-I can’t apologize for what I said because- well because I don’t regret any of it.”

“You can’t be serious right now!” she was throwing her hands into the air in exasperation now.

“You’re skipping cheer practices and school, and your grades are slipping. At one point, getting into a good prestigious college was all that you cared about! The things that were important- they aren’t important to you anymore.”

“People’s priorities change Ash.”

“Yours or Khalil’s?”

Khalil could see Mina gnawing on her bottom lip at Asher’s words, and he wanted nothing more than to barge out of the closet and embed a rock into Ashers skull the way he had done Beau.

“I’m my own person, and I’m the only one who makes decisions for myself! Not you! Not my parents, and not Khalil!”

“Ever since you’ve started hanging out with him you’ve been acting like a completely different person, and I’m not sure I like who this person is turning out to be.”

“Did you ever think that maybe I’ve just always been this person, that maybe everyone around me was just like...suppressing who I was really supposed to be!”

“I don’t thin this is who you’re really supposed to be MJ.”

“How would you know that Asher! You don’t know what I look like when I’m not pretending to be in love with you!”

The tears that began to cascade down Mina’s face were hard to miss and both boys paused unable to process what had just happened and what she had just said. Asher was frozen to the spot, unable to move, blink, or think and he wondered if a tears were going to roll down his cheeks next.

“You should go.” Mina whispered the words at first, before growing louder and angrier at the lack of response. “Get out!” she screamed and Asher moved then, taking one last look behind him at MJ’s discombobulated figure melting down as he scurried out of her room, slamming the door behind him.

As soon as the bedroom door had closed Khalil pushed the closet door open catching Mina in his arms just before she fell in a heap onto her bed. She shivered against him, but not from the cold, but the indescribable emotions washing over her in waves. He wished he could take it all away. He wished he could make her forget that this was the life she lived, but all he could do was hold her. All he could do was hold her and hope that she would be ok.

“Mina?” he whispered against the top of her head, burying his face into her dark shoulder length hair as he gently moved his hands up and down her back in an attempt at comforting her. “Are- are you ok?” Of course she wasn’t ok, she was shaking in his arms.

“I’m sorry.” he apologized. “I’m so sorry you-”

She mumbled something indiscernible against his shirt.

“What?”

Mina pulled back from his chest now, though her hands still grasped at the hem of his navy blue t-shirt. “I said- I said I’m fine” her words were rushed as she spoke and it wasn’t hard to tell that they had been nothing more than a lie, and Khalil opened his mouth to tell her so, but his words never met the static air.

Mina crashed her lips on top of Khalil’s before he had even had time to blink, her mouth moving with an urgent hunger that he had never seen before. She was decisive in her actions, her lips working steadily against him as her hands twisted the hem of his shirt between her fingers, steadily lifting it higher and higher until he was shivering under the feeling of her cold fingers dancing across his torso.

“W-wai-wait. Wait” Khalil managed to stutter out between kisses, but Mina only kissed him harder, shoving her body against his the more he tried to protest, and it was only when she was pulling his t-shirt from his body that he found a chance to get an entire sentence out.

“M-Mina?” he was out of breath, his chest heaving up and down. “Slow down. Can we just- can we talk for-for a second.”

She threw his shirt to the ground and reached for the hem of her own, pulling it up and over her head in one swift move. “I don’t want to talk.” She was on him again in seconds, her hands interlocked around his neck as she began to place kiss after wet kiss on his neck trailing down to his chest.

“Ok” he gasped aloud at the feeling of Mina’s mouth moving against him. “Ok, we don’t- we don’t have to talk” she was making him lose his train of thought and he was struggling to formulate a single sentence now. “but maybe- maybe we should just..slow down a little.”

She paused. “You don’t want this?”

“What?” he exclaimed. This was all he wanted. “No, no of course I do. I ju- I just think that you still might be upset about- about Asher and-”

“Khalil” she stood up straight again, her hands leaving his skin and Khalil yearned for the feeling of her touch once more. “I don’t care about Asher, or what he thinks anymore. I don’t want to talk to him and I certainly don’t want to see him. What I do want, is you. Ok?”

Khalil nodded silently. “Ok”

“Ok” she repeated and in seconds she was pushing herself up against him again. Khalil’s hands migrated around her waist, gripping her tightly as he lifted her off the ground, Mina’s legs moving to wrap themselves tightly around his torso as he threw her back down onto her gray and white patterned bed comforter, hovering over her with apprehension. He guessed Mina could sense his unbridled hesitation because she quickly took charge, using her legs to pull Khalil down crashing down on top of her as she plowed her lips against his once more. Her hands danced across his back, clawing and gripping tightly onto him as he moved above her and a low grunt escaped Khalil’s lips at the sensation reverberating through his body.

He was trying his best not to lose control, but the way she was moving her hips underneath him was making it hard to retain any sense of his surroundings and he wanted so bad to give into the girl sighing underneath him, the sounds escaping from her parted lips driving him to the edge of insanity. He buried his head in the crook of her neck now, taking her position planting kisses down the side of her neck, and he couldn’t resist the urge to graze his teeth against her. A sharp intake of breath reverberated beneath him, echoing through his entire body.

There were to many layers beneath them.

Taking care not to break Mina’s mouth away from his, Khalil reached between their bodies, taking care to graze his fingers against ever part of her unclothed skin as he began to forcefully tug her pants down, exposing the rest of her body to the static air and a soft giggle escaped the confines of her lips as Khalil placed kiss after kiss against the now exposed skin of her inner thighs, prying her legs apart with his fingers as she tried to close them around his head. Her fingers cascaded through his long messy hair and he groaned the more she tugged against him.

Slowly he began to kiss his way back up, sighing into her and folding into her body as their lips met once more, his tongue darting out to graze her bottom lip and suddenly she was moving underneath him once more, driving him tantalizingly crazy with each motion. There was nothing but a thin layer of hesitation between them now. No.

Banging his fist against the headboard with a reverberating thud, he scared both Mina and himself with his actions and he winced at the sight of her jump underneath him. Both of them were heaving now, searching fro air that didn’t want to be found, both their chests rising and falling rapidly with one another.

“Are you- are you ok” Mina’s voice was a whisper, as if she were scared of what response he would yield and he hated himself for her reaction, but something inside him was urging him to stop. Something inside of him knew that if he continued, he was going to regret it, and his stomach was in twists for the first time in his life.

“Khalil?” she spoke again when he didn’t respond, but he was unable to meet her eyes, closing them at the sound of her genuine and concerned voice. He tensed at the feeling of her soft small hands brushing against the sides of his face, her thumb tracing circles on his cheek.

“Hey?”

“Don’t open your eyes. Don’t open your eyes” he willed himself.

“Talk to me.”

He wanted to talk to her. She had no idea how bad he wanted to talk to her, but he couldn’t just come out and say “I’m using you.” He had developed actual feelings for her, feelings that he hadn’t felt in eons, and yet he still felt like he was taking advantage of her. He still felt like their entire relationship was fake.

“If you’re uncomfortable- if- if you don’t want to-” he still couldn’t bring himself to open his eyes as she spoke. “We- we don’t have to do....anything. It’s ok.” If only she knew how wrong she was. If only she knew how “not okay” any of this was.

Khalil gripped her dark oak headboard tighter as he gulped down his anxiousness, managing to stutter out a short two words. “I’m fine” he echoed Mina’s words from earlier.

“Are you sure?”

He let out a breath he hadn’t realized he had been holding as he slowly pried one eye after the other open, until he was staring back down at Mina’s shy smiling face again. He nodded silently. “I’m sure.“, but even as the words left his mouth, even as Mina pushed her lips against his, even as he listened to the sound of her groaning his name into the static chilly air, the guilt inside of Khalil continued to eat him away from the inside out.

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