“Not on my watch!” I screamed as I chased my brother around the first floor, where our bedrooms were. The little sneak had crept into my room to pull another prank.
Ivan and I were currently were in a Snipe Hunt.
The non-existent animal- was him.
And I was the hunter.
“Move aside, Javier!” he yelled and almost bumped onto the poor old man who had plastered himself against the wall.
“Ah, the young ones are up to their obnoxious tricks again,” he sighed before yelling at Ivan, who made his escape down the stairs. “Watch your steps!”
“Define obnoxious,” I babbled as I rushed past him. “Damn, this kid.”
I could hear our butler’s laugh in the distance as I stormed like a wildfire towards the living room.
“Where is he?” I burst onto my parents, who were quietly eating breakfast. Sitting like an obedient child next to Dad was my sweet demon of a sibling. “Hand it over.”
Ivan sent me a guiltless look. “Well, look who came to join us.”
“Honey, come sit down and eat before the food turns cold,” Dad sighs, clearly aware of the ruckus.
“Not before he gives me what I want,” I demanded, narrowing my eyes.
Dad grumbled incoherent words under his breath before he turned to Mom as he silently pleaded to her.
Mom rubbed her face tiredly. “Ivan, please give whatever it is to your sister before you manage to bury this useless fight under my skin.” I stifled a grin. “Ivan, did you listen to me?”
“I did listen to you. I’m just not paying attention,” Ivan remarked sarcastically.
“Have you dropped your brain, Ivan?”
“Keep your shit down,” Ivan said as he pushed in a forkful of pancakes.
“Language child,” Mom scolded.
Dad had on a downcast face, “Grounded.”
Dad gave a sharp face.
“Whatever,” Ivan surprisingly says as he stabbed another of his food. Too easy.
“Can I have my property back now, please?”
Ivan dug into his pocket as he pulled out my keys. The keys to my car.
“You tried to drive your sister’s car?” Mom asked as she pointed to the keys in my hand with a spoon. “Ivan, what have I told you. Money doesn’t grow on trees, you know, and if her car get’s damaged, I’ll have you pay for it.”
“Well, that could be sort-” but Ivan was cut short.
“And I’m not talking about the car,” Mom deadpanned, causing me to choke on my food. “I’m referring to the things you kids might break.”
The dining room became suddenly still when no one came up with a smart remark. The oil paintings hanging against the four velvet walls seemed to have caught our attention as we finished breakfast.
Yeah, I’ve broken some artifacts here and there. But who looks at them?
The atmosphere was slouchy, to say.
I spotted Javier talking to Mr. Vicente and Chef Colby as they walked towards the staff for a meeting.
The maids were soon bustling around the mansion; cleaning, washing, helping the cooks, or whatever they had on their chore list.
And I had mine to start on.
“So, Mom. Regarding the Literature project, I have to head over to the Library to get some books,” I slowly approached. “And then I’m going to his—house?”
I braced myself.
“Who’s he?” she asked, glancing up from the paperwork she had been working on around her office desk.
“My Literature partner, remember,” I say. “The one Mrs. Cooray had assigned me with.”
“Oh, Evander,” she recalls, her voice hiked in a touchy tone.
I shook the feeling away. “Yeah. But Eve, for short. Anyway, I’m heading over to his house later. Will that be alright?”
“Why can’t you guys meet up somewhere else? You know our rules, Gabriella,” she reminded sternly. I bitterly swallowed the load of stress I carried. Cold waves tumbled down my shoulders as I watched my mother with shuffling feet. I’ve always hated this conversation with her due to the obvious.
“Listen, Mom, I’ve tried everything, but he’s as stubborn as the bloody Devil. He refused to be in public for some reason,” I lamented as the truth rolled out.
My mother was a hard person to negotiate with.
This was why Dad was more of the submissive in their relationship. Another reason why I came to her hat in hand today instead of Dad was because he’d left hours ago.
With another hard reflection, she finally looked up from her mound of sheets.
Her eyes darted past my shoulders.
“Devil, huh?” she lifted an eyebrow. Steadily, I turned around, puzzled at what caught her attention. I nearly abandoned my skin.
“Evander,” I staggered back in shock as my hands shot to my chest, staring at him perplexed. I hadn’t heard him come in. How long had he been there?
A thousand questions popped through as I thought of different possibilities. For starters - he wasn’t supposed to be here! And in front of Mom!
My gaze shifted towards the person leaning against the wall next to him.
Ivan smirked knowingly.
“What did she do to you?” I asked in shock. Mom had just called me back to her office after she made me leave because she wanted to articulate with Ander after his mysterious appearance earlier.
Now, she tells me that I’m allowed to leave with him? And he didn’t seem like he had a hard time coaxing her.
This wasn’t part of the plan. And I didn’t want Evander here.
Hell, I don’t even know what went on inside that room when I left.
Speaking of him;
Here he is in all his imposing form. With a mouthwatering casual attire that could’ve made my heart trigger if not for the fact that Mom was an arm’s length away. The way his lean muscles bulged through the denim jacket that hugged him tightly and those veined looking hands. Evander’s nose was proportioned perfectly along with his high cheekbones, and his flawless skin looked incredibly smooth. His soft sandy hair was tossed around messily on purpose as our eyes connected.
His forest green against my arctic blues.
I flushed when realization dawned upon me that I was still in my PJs! My hair was a nest after my morning run around the house. And after that, I had been sweating by the pool. I also stank. Holy fuck...
Evander seemed to have been checking out my Bugs Bunny sweatpants and looked right into my embarrassed face. As if chiacking, he winked at me.
I inwardly panicked and turned back to Mom, who had probably seen it, and I prayed she hadn’t as she rambled out some instructions that finally appeared into my mind.
“Mom, relax, we aren’t kids who are about to go step for the first time into the world. Stop being a worrywart,” I inspirit with a chuckle, and surprisingly so did she.
“Alright, Miss know-it-all. First of all, that’s gross. Second, don’t you dare mention that to me again,” she added with seriousness, “Once you become a mother, you’ll understand?”
“Mom,” I whined, not wanting to turn into a ripe tomato.
Luckily Evander laughed, taking off the nervousness that was clouding my judgments for my next move.
“It’s alright, Mrs. Gawan. My Mom will be at home, and so will my sister as I’ve told you earlier. My Dad’s out of the state, but the house is well secured if you’re worried,” he came to the rescue. Mom nodded, acknowledging their earlier conversation before.
“Thanks for the reassurance, Evander, but it’s my daughter’s personality I’m concerned about,” she sighed. “She can be rather...wild.”
Evander threw his head back as he roared in laughter- like it was funny. I could’ve sworn I saw tears threatening to fall out from his ducts. “I’ve yet to see that side of her. She’s rather calm and sweet to everyone, so far,” he grinned deliberately at me before I suddenly frowned at the hidden message behind those words. “I’m sure she couldn’t even hurt a fly by her choice of pajamas.”
Mom seemed to contemplate on that. She understood me better. “Maybe not, but I know her. Her taste of bedtime clothes does remind me of when she was still into her childish princess and bunnies era,” Mom admitted as she took a trip down memory lane, causing me to turn red from the roots. She seemed to have been smitten by his charms already.
“Enough,” I glared at them both. “If you lot are going to mess around with me, then I’m leaving to change.” Without a second, I left and stormed out of her office.
How could she piss me off by siding with him? The asshole knew how to freaking tick off a girl.
Ivan and Evander’s chatters echoed down the hall by the entrance as I approached them.
“She’s pertinacious. That’s her poison,” Ivan whispered in a low tone. I scowled at him. Upon seeing me, he simpered back innocently and quickly grabbed his keys before he dashed out.
“What was that about?” I asked the blonde, but he shrugged and provided me with a bold smile.
“I came here to pick you up, so I’m your ride for today,” he announced as I fumbled for the keys in the bag I’d draped around my body. I gave him a sullen look. “You can’t expect me to have walked here, have you?” he humorously laughed with that perfect pearly teeth of his and dimpled cheeks that I ache to only poke since I discovered them. As I observed closely, I hadn’t realized that I had taken a few steps towards him, closing our distance until his gorgeous façade faded away.
“I’m so sorry,” I stepped back nervously. “I-I...have to check on something before we leave.” And speed-walked the hell out of the mansion.
How could I look him in the face now?
My legs brought me over to the garage, where my baby stood in all her kudos. She was indeed a fast cat when her spirit’s released. Her sleek body and flamed skin was what attracted me to her. I’ve won all rouge races out there in the desert when we visited Arizona a few months after she was purchased.
I was mightily impressed that she could eat almost anything on her path.
She wasn’t like the Cheetah, but the Jaguar had other features that the other cats lacked.
“I need a breather,” I groaned as I spotted Evander jogging—no, hurrying over to me.
I waited till he reached the garage as I checked on my car. Everything seemed to be intact, and the only chore I had left was to have it cleansed and stimulated tomorrow.
“It’s like Zephuros as it races down the dusty dried up earth. It steers and drifts madly under the blazing sun as its competitors raced by her side. The scorching bleak atmosphere causes the already heated air to grill into an unbelievable temperature around the canyons surrounding them. The plants withered under its dust, and the ground cracks. It wasn’t going to give up as it almost lost by a second, and its wheels screeched like mad as it attacked its challengers into a dark tunnel, and then boom! Out sprang the stocky Jaguar as it splashed into the finishing line as the very light and very weakly saturated reddish-yellow colors of the desert swirled around its thrilling victory!”
“You certainly can paint a picture with your words Ivan,” I gushed at his imagery. “It was a fun week in the Sonoran desert, wasn’t it?”
“Holy hell, was it fun? It was beyond that,” he babbled, appearing behind my car. “Mom and Dad hadn’t suspected a thing.”
I gave an aloof face. “Yeah.”
“Yo, guys,” Evander puffed as he bent his knees and gulped in air. “You walked freaking fast, Gabriella. That was one long-ass marathon I just had. Now, what did I hear about deserts?”
Ivan grinned. “It was an amazing trip we had gone to earlier this year. You should’ve been there, Evander! Gabriella went-”
I quickly clamped my brother’s mouth shut and smiled sheepishly at him, “And that’s for another day. I believe we are moving against time.”
Evander stared at the watch wrapped around my wrist. “You’re right. Come on then. You were the one who ran here, so I ain’t complaining,” he says and hands me one of his dashing smiles.
I gave a small scoff as I unwrapped my hand from Ivan’s mouth and rubbed it against my pants in disgust. “We almost got caught, idiot!” I seethed lowly for only him to hear. Ivan nodded the equivalent as we saw Javier walked past the garage’s opening.
“Thanks!” he said back in a whisper. “We could’ve both been in trouble.”
Evander, who had been close, switched his eyes between us and the place where the butler had passed by merely seconds ago as he pieced it together. “I suppose that’s another secret.”
“Probably,” Ivan said.
We all stood there, not moving.
“This is one nice place for your prize to be staying at, Gab,” he commented as he admired the garage. “Is that yours, Ivan?” he pointed at a silver Lamborghini. “I thought you didn’t have a license?”
“I actually do, but I don’t bring it around much since I mostly ride to school with my driver,” he rolled his eyes. “Dad doesn’t allow me much.”
“Shame,” Evander shook his head.
“I guess we head to the library first?” I asked.
Evander twirled his keys around and nodded his head. We walked out and waved to Ivan as he disappeared inside the garage again.
“Could we stop by someplace to grab snacks?” I requested and squinted into the distance. We didn’t have far to walk. Evander had parked his car at the entrance of our central gate.
“Sure,” he agreed, coldly monotonous but mellow as he leads me to the front seat of his car. I was glad he hadn’t made a sarcastic remark. “By the way,” he whispered almost seductively. His voice drops resonant, and he was right by my ear. Front pressed against my back. “You looked way sexier in your PJs. I could imagine tearing it as you convulse underneath me.”
I grew scarlet, and my chest hitched.
He pulled away, not before biting my ear lobe, and he tugged hard. A warm tongue came out and started to trail its way around the nape of my neck. I shivered at the contact as he sucked hard on the tender flesh. An unfamiliar sensation shot straight to my cave below and clenched it tight.
A wave of panic suddenly hits me. Was I aroused? Is this how it felt? I’ve only ever read it in books or movies. But experiencing this intimate closeness was a whole other level.
I felt a breath of warm air on my collarbone as his hands glued themselves on my hips.
Holy shit...what was he doing? Someone could walk on us, let alone get caught in the damn CCTV!
I almost moaned out because of his mouth which felt like heaven.
A puff of relief washed over me when his lips released me from its assault.
What the what was that? I should push him away, but I can’t! It’s like I’ve gotten paralyzed.
With a deadly smirk that held a kind of promise that I couldn’t read, he licked his lips. His predatory green eyes glinted under the sun like its looking at its prey.
Fuck, he wasn’t done.
Cold and hot. That’s what I felt as Evander’s minty breath whiffed by. Tingles kept shooting throughout my body as goosebumps erupted, and my lips went dry. I’m pretty sure I looked like a frightened deer as my eyes matched my face.
My brain seemed to have stopped functioning, and my heart was ready to crumble. A curl of my wavy hair dropped across my face, and he brushed it aside with long fingers as I relished his touch. I hadn’t realized my eyes were half shut, and he was dangerously leaning closer.
W-What? Hold the phone. Did I enjoy his touch? I don’t even know if I’m attracted to the guy!
“Breath, Gab,” he huskily hummed in triumph as he saw the effects he had on my body. With the courage, I’ve not the idea to where it came from surged in, and I daringly lifted my eyes to his chin then to his eyes.
It clouded with bellicose, and just as his sudden flirting appeared, it vanished, and in came strolling another assertive emotion. His orbs, dusted with hypnotizing golden flex, grew hard, and it brought back the time he roughly grabbed my ass. He didn’t even know how that fucking made my legs nearly give out.
He pulled away to open the door behind me. Calmly and gently, he gestured to get in. God, I was sure whoever saw this on the CCTV was having a show.
Immediately his scent attacked my nose, drowning me in his sea of manly scent mixed with fresh ginger. I took a minute to digest everything before I promptly rubbed the spot under my ear that was currently sore.
Calm down... it’s not like we kissed or something. Ugh! Stupid, stupid!
How am I going to live now?
As I waited for him, I felt a hard object underneath me and pulled it out. It was a piece of tampered paper. I furrowed my eyes at the squiggly handwriting as if in haste. What the heck? A poem?
“Wₑ‘ᵣₑ ₙₒₜ ₛₜᵣₐₙgₑᵣₛ, wₑ ⱼᵤₛₜ dₒₙ’ₜ ₖₙₒw ₑₐcₕ ₒₜₕₑᵣ.”
“Yₒᵤ‘ᵣₑ ₙₒₜ ₐ ₛₜᵣₐₙgₑᵣ, I ⱼᵤₛₜ dₒₙ’ₜ ₖₙₒw yₒᵤ.”
“I’ₘ ₙₒₜ ₐ ₛₜᵣₐₙgₑᵣ, yₒᵤ ⱼᵤₛₜ dₒₙ’ₜ ₖₙₒw ₘₑ.”
“Wₑ‘ᵣₑ ₐₗₗ ₕᵤₘₐₙₛ. Wₕₐₜ’ₛ ₜₕₑᵣₑ ₜₒ bₑ ₛₜᵣₐₙgₑ ₐbₒᵤₜ?”
I gasped as he snatched the weird paper that was in between my forefingers. “You’re in for a long project, babe,” he informed with a boyish grin.
I gulped tensely, not realizing what he meant. My confused mind couldn’t understand it. Like he had just sparked my core, leaving me with a fever.
I felt something in me come alive. A new kind of feeling I couldn’t figure out, but I trusted my gut.
A dormant sensation deep within dreaded to be unleashed, and I wouldn’t be able to control it.
“You know...I might like you,” he revealed.
I sat there in total bliss. Baffled at the transparent declaration. Evander didn’t even seem surprised. It was like he had been rehearsing it.
Rows of posh houses, bustling pedestrians, and rumbling vehicles passed like a blur on this unusual—Sunday morning. If I had the choice, I would’ve chosen to sleep till Mom comes in with the broom. But since I’ve got duped in this confounded space, I let my mouth grow into a thin line.
The car drove at a quick pace, like the rate of my heart. I watched as he took a wallet out from the compartment in front of me as he continued driving.
I held my breath. “What? Cat still got your tongue?” he smirked cockily as he pried open his wallet with one hand. I indeed was.
We were so close that his wavy blonde curls brushed softly against my nose, making me wrinkle it.
What I didn’t understand was that this tale was just commencing.
And if I did, I would’ve prepared...for the unexplored.
“Oh, shit,” he cursed as he stepped on the brakes. The wallet on his free hand flew across the board and landed by my feet.
“I-I’ll get it.” I was bewildered that he wasn’t flustered, unlike me.
“Be careful with the-”
I brought an old looking ID card to my face. It was chipped. The printed numbers and letters on the rectangular surface and looked worn out. It dated to some eight years ago, and the tiny picture in it was still distinct. My thumb wiped over the person’s face, and suddenly, I dropped it. This time, no tears sprung forth.
In alarm, Evander quickly parked the car in a nearby mall’s parking lot. I hadn’t registered how far we traveled as he asked me if I was alright.
“Fucking hell, you weren’t supposed to see that.” He grabbed his wallet and the card from me. “Are you alright? You turned pale.”
I felt his hand snake around my chin and turned it to him, but I wouldn’t meet his eyes. Instead, I questioned;
“Dr. Kane. You heard of him?”