Xerxes' grin of amusement widened as he watched my mouth open and close several times, unsure of what to say. Eventually, I settled on, "How did you get in here?"
Xerxes outstretched his arm, a simple, gold key resting in his large palm. "Penelope gave me your spare key." His voice echoed in the quiet, dark house, the deep timbre causing me to shudder.
I shuffled backwards, watching as he walked forth, glancing around the home, taking in every detail.
"You didn't think to talk to me before moving here?" He spoke lowly, his fingers running over a sports bra I had thrown on a sofa earlier today. My eyes widened and I internally cursed myself as I saw the way his lips twitched at the sight of it.
I shrugged, trying to appear as if his presence didn't have an effect on me. I sat on the sofa as he moved towards the entrance of the living room. I quickly grabbed the sports bra and stuffed it under a cushion.
"It was a sort of a spur of the moment kind of thing," I said. "And I knew you'd try to convince me not to do it if I told you."
Those electric eyes studied my face after he turned. "For good reason too. Anyone can easily harm you, especially since you're here by yourself." The sound of a suitcase dragging against the floor could be heard, and I watched as he placed it in the corner of the room.
"You'd be safer at my home." Xerxes continued, pausing as he saw the way my eyes narrowed. Hiding a smile, he turned back to the suitcase. "But I won't force you to come back if you prefer living here."
I blinked, taken aback by how uncontrolling he was being, but then smiled in satisfaction. "That's what I thought."
Dark brows furrowed, but he ignored my smug words and straightened to his full height. It was odd, a massive man like him being here in this small house.
"How was your business trip?" I asked, deciding to fill in the awkward silence. Xerxes immediately stiffened at the question, a look of displeasure crossing his features as he rested back on a wall, arms lifting to fold on his chest.
"It was...exhausting." He told me, his dark brows remaining furrowed, eyes only softening in the slightest as they met mine.
I glanced towards a clock overhead and reluctantly moved from my seat, cursing under my breath.
"I need to go shopping. And then grab something to eat." I called over my shoulder, hearing his heavy footsteps echo behind mine. My breath hitched at the feeling of his warm hand against the middle of my back and I stumbled forward, away from his touch, flustered.
His head ducked down, barely hiding his smirk as he reached for a coat resting on a hook on the wall. "I'll join you." Xerxes told me, already moving towards the door.
The supermarket, to my dismay, was full of people. I chewed on my lip nervously as I exited my car, Xerxes walking to my side almost immediately. Heads whipped in our direction and I stiffened, grasping his arm, stopping him.
"Maybe we should go somewhere else?" I asked, the side of my face burning as I felt the stares. Xerxes' brow lifted, glancing to my fingernails which had begun to pierce his skin. Quickly I withdrew my hand, allowing it to fall limply at my side and continued,
"There are so many people here."
The wind picked up and Xerxes' curly black hair lifted in the breeze slightly as he looked towards the supermarket. "We're already here, Becca. No sense in turning back now." His hand sought mine, holding it in a firm grip as he tugged me along beside him, his thumb moving back and forth against my skin in a reassuring manner.
I only released his hand once we reached inside, quickly grabbing a trolley and heading to an aisle. Grabbing four cartons of milk, I placed them in, my shoes squeaking against the tiles in my hurry.
Behind me, Xerxes was quietly trailing along, the warmth of his body being felt, his presence silently easing my nerves.
"Maybe if we split up, we could get the things needed faster. " He suddenly suggested. "What else do you want?"
After telling him a dozen eggs and some cheese and bread, he left and I switched my route, heading to another aisle. I reached for some cereal, noticing that a woman had begun to watch me.
Slowly, I lifted my head, letting her know I was aware of her staring, but she continued to do so, not swayed by the slight narrowing of my eyes.
She was dressed in an orange shirt and pants, which made her stick out from the crowd, who were wearing dull, or black colors. Her hair looked greasy and thin, her large eyes wide like an owl's. Perched on her nose was a pair of red reading glasses, which looked as though it was about to fall off from her nose at any second.
Clenching my jaw, I gripped the handle of the trolley, walking further down the aisle and glancing at the items packed on the shelves.
To my frustration, the woman continued to watch, as well as follow me. I licked my lips, deciding I would try to ignore her as I searched for one last product before heading to the cashier. Relief flooded through me as I spotted the macoroni packets I was searching for and practically threw them in the trolley.
A hand suddenly clamped my wrist and I stiffened, eyes zeroing in on the feminine fingers, a familiar ring resting on the pinky. The woman who had been watching me released my hand, now noticing that she had caught my attention.
"Rebecca." She said, her eyes travelling down my clothes in a critical manner and then upwards, back to my face. "Could I have a word with you?"
I pressed my lips together briefly, slowly beginning to push the trolley. "I'm in a rush-"
Her hand reached out once more, her grip on me tighter than before and I jerked to a stop, eyes snapping to her face. "Release my hand." I spoke between clenched teeth.
"I just have a few questions, miss." She said, persisting despite my obvious reluctance to speak with her. I twisted my arm painfully from her grip, rubbing my fingers on my now sore skin.
She leaned closer to me, the scent of tangerines and mint, drifting to my nostrils. Her dark eyes stared into mine, her gaze intense and serious. "Are you being held against your will?" She whispered. I bit my tongue, sending her a confused look. She released a huff and tilted her head.
"Is that beast making you stay with him against your will?" She said, her voice rising slightly in impatience. My body stiffened further at her blunt words. Scowling, I answered,
"No, he is not. Now excuse me, I have places to be."
Her hand moved again, but this time I was ready. My hands reached forward, stopping her from touching me. I pushed her backwards, feeling something hard graze the skin on my finger as I did so. Her eyes were wide with shock, and something else. A hint of madness.
"We can help you," The woman insisted, stepping close to me, her large, orb-like green eyes chilling. "You don't need to pretend that you're okay. You can come with us."
"Who is us?" I spat, taking a couple steps away from her, wanting distance between us. She hesitated, eyes glancing down towards her fingers, only to shoot up and widen.
Suddenly I felt Xerxes' presence beside me. "What happened here?" His cold eyes were trained on the woman as he demanded an answer. I felt blood trickle down my finger and I winced, glancing down towards it.
"N-nothing." The woman stuttered. She smoothed her hands down her wrinkled clothes, nervously. My eyes caught the ring on her hand, one that was eerily similar to the one which Sinclair had in his office.
"Rebecca?" Xerxes was watching me now, concerned. I swallowed, shaking my head, glaring at the woman's back as she began to walk away. Muttering to my mate, I told him,
"Let's just pay for this and leave."
After we returned home, Xerxes, being the persistent man he was, refused to give me the food he had bought from a local drive through restaurant, until I was seated beside him on the sofa. He was being playful, a side of him which was extremely rare and surprising.
When I eventually did, he wore a complacent grin that I wanted to wipe off his face. A movie was playing on the television, an action film, one that I had been wanting to watch for a while.
But being right next to Xerxes, so close to him that our legs and arms brushed, with his unique, masculine scent surrounding me, made it very difficult for me to concentrate on the television.
I patted my full stomach after devouring the greasy chips and chicken sandwich and relaxed back onto the sofa. Xerxes had long ago finished off his food, and was now staring blankly ahead at the screen, a look of pure boredom and tiredness on his face.
When his attention slowly switched to me I averted my gaze towards the front door. "It's getting late. Maybe you should leave."
Xerxes' head tilted, silver eyes narrowing slightly, but not from frustration. Rather, the action seemed mischievous and a bit flirtatious. "Do you really want me to leave?" His voice had lowered and was now husky and deep, the sound sending pleasurable ripples down my skin.
I rubbed the back of my neck, laughing nervously under his piercing gaze. Him being flirtatious was more than surprising. For once, I was lost for words and cleared my throat.
"I'll take that as a no." Xerxes relaxed back onto the sofa, a satisfied smirk curving his lips. I sighed, watching as his eyes closed and stood.
"I'm going to shower. Feel free to get some lemonade from the fridge if you get thirsty." I said, shuffling towards the bathroom. Fifteen minutes later, I returned back to the living room after my shower and perched on the arm of the sofa.
Xerxes was now stretched across the sofa that was far too small for his height and size, sleepy eyes tracking my movements. His hand patted against the soft material beside him. I raised my eyebrows, scoffing,
A glint, one that I instantly recognized could be seen in his eyes. He wasn't going to take no as an answer. Swiftly, before I could even breathe, he sat upwards, hand clamping down on the inside of my thigh and pulling me across until I was right beside him.
Scowling, I immediately protested, trying to convince myself that I didn't like the feeling of his chest against my back, his arm around my stomach. His warm breath tickled the back of my neck, near my mark.
"Relax." Xerxes' voice had dropped to a low purr, the sound vibrating his chest. My elbow jabbed his stomach and both of us grunted from the short stab of pain that followed. He finally released me after I struggled against him, a tired sort of smile on his face.
I settled back into the sofa, grinning proudly at my accomplishment and staring ahead at the television screen. The grin I wore faltered as Xerxes rested his head onto my lap, his eyes closing. His shoulders visibly relaxed, his breathing becoming slower as he so quickly, slipped off to sleep, leaving me to gape down at him in astonishment.