Facade

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Meeting family, again

THEA’S POV

According to Flynn, Xavier is supposed to be alone as Elijah is away on a business trip. With a bundle of nerves building up in my stomach, I ring the doorbell, praying that he won’t turn me away because I decided to just drop in unannounced.

It’s probably not the best move to annoy him with my presence when he specifically didn’t leave his house for the sole purpose of not wanting to meet anyone.

And here I am, ruining his alone-time.

But I couldn’t help it. Knowing he’s all alone on his birthday made me want to give him a big hug because I don’t know what else to do.

The door opens but much to my surprise, it’s not Xavier.

“I’m sorry, I thought this is...”

“Elijah Darkwood’s house? You’re a little young for his taste, don’t you think?”

Raven black hair, strong jaws, well-built physique—this guy is like an older version of Xavier except for his eyes. Unlike the stormy grey, his eyes are a deep green, shining like a polished gem.

“Actually, I’m here for Xavier, and...you’re not him.”

He lets out a reverberating chuckle. “No, I’m not. I’m his brother, Luke.” He steps away and opens the door wider, “Come on in.”

I do as told. “Thea.”

He nods in acknowledgment. “I must warn you, the bear is in hibernation.”

“You think he’ll let me in if you vouch for me?”

Luke snorts with laughter as if I just made the funniest joke on this planet. “Nah, that’ll only ruin it. Guy hates my guts.”

I let out a chuckle of my own at his exaggeration.

“Don’t believe me? See for yourself,” he leads me upstairs and in front of a closed door before knocking on it.

No answer. I’m not even surprised at this point.

Luke knocks again.

“What?” A yell is heard from inside the room which I recognize to be Xavier’s voice.

“Someone’s here to see—”

“I don’t care. Leave me the fuck alone!” Music booms all of a sudden and the volume increases until it’s clear Xavier wants everything around him to disappear.

Normally, I’d think sweet, cursing at siblings because oftentimes that’s just the way siblings communicate. We may hate them but it’s also an endearing expression.

This time, however, I believe Luke’s earlier words were most definitely not an exaggeration. The tone with which Xavier just told his brother off, is the same tone Cole used with me today—full of contempt and burning anger.

“There you go. I tried. It was good to see you, kid.” Luke turns around and starts walking back down.

I run after him. “Hey! I’m not leaving without meeting him. He has to at least know I was here—” I’m cut off by Luke abruptly turning around and looking down on me.

I stare right back.

“Listen, Thea, when he doesn’t want to do something, it’s impossible to make him do it. And like I said, me helping will only ruin it. So, leave before it becomes worse.”

“No.”

“Sorry?”

“I’m not leaving. There has to be another way. He doesn’t even know I’m here.”

“And what’s so special about you that will make him break his long-standing tradition of not leaving his house on his birthday?”

Okay, ouch. He’s right, why will he?

But I’m too stubborn to back down now. “I’m still here, aren’t I?”

“Are you here for him? Or for you?” That takes me by surprise. I’m here for Xavier...aren’t I?

“Both.” I realize I’m also here because I need to assure myself he isn’t sulking in there, alone. I don’t want him to feel alone.

Luke stares at me silently before letting out a rush of air. “If he yells at you, it won’t be my fault.”

A crease forms between my brows. “What do you mean?”

“I mean, there might be a way for you to meet him but...”

“I’ll take it.”

“...it’s risky.”

“I’m in.”

*****

“You want me to break into his room?!” With my neck craned up, my gaze takes in the window that belongs to Xavier’s room.

“As I said, it’s risky.”

“I’m gonna die.”

Luke rolls his eyes. “No. But if you fall, you’ll break more than a few bones. Again, risky. Most definitely not my fault if you end up in a hospital.”

I eye the height and the branch I will need to climb to overcome it.

“I’ll leave you to it. Good luck breaking into our house.”

With that, Luke leaves me to decide on my own. Making sure the bag containing Xavier’s gift is perfectly safe over my shoulders, I sent out a prayer to whoever is listening and start climbing.

Here goes nothing.

After almost slipping and losing my balance for a total of three times, cursing enough to make a sailor blush, and accidentally scarping myself, I finally make it to his window.

This is most definitely not the height a normal two-story floor would have. Or maybe I should start working out...nah I’m too lazy.

Shaking my head, I pound my fist on Xavier’s window. No answer.

I don’t know if he didn’t hear because of the blasting music or if he’s just ignoring me, so I do it again, this time more forcefully.

Hoisting myself up, I get a glimpse of him looking at his door with a confused expression. If I wasn’t hanging by his window right now, I would have gushed about how cute he looks.

I pound on the glass again, afraid it’s going to break against my fist. His head shoots towards me and his lips part in surprise at the sight of me.

Eyes wide, he reaches me in a few quick strides and rips the window open.

“What the fuck are you doing here?!”

“Recreating Romeo and Juliet. What the hell do you think?! Let me in, first!”

He opens his mouth, probably to yell at me, but shuts up and grabs my wrist to pull me in.

Another hand wraps around my lower back and in a single pull, we’re both tumbling down on his floor.

“Oomf!”

With a thud, he lands on the floor and I land on his chest, my nose colliding against his hard muscles.

I blink away the water that gathers in my eyes and while doing so, I don’t realize I’m lying on top of him with my head in the crook of his neck. One of his hand is still around my waist, holding me to him while the other is around my head as if protecting me.

His shirt is clenched tightly between my fists as I hold on to him.

Slowly, I pull my head away to look at him, my hair curtaining our faces. His warm breath tickles my skin from our close proximity, his grey eyes roaming my face in concern, looking for any injuries.

His soft lips are slightly parted and the desire to taste them overwhelms me so I lean down again, with my eyes on them.

“Wha—”

I brush my lips on the corner of his mouth, softly applying the slightest pressure. I feel his heart under my fingertips, rapidly beating against his chest.

“Happy Birthday, Xavier,” I whisper into his skin, and his breath hitches in his throat.

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So, what do you think of Luke?

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