Xavier scurries away from underneath me, leaving me on the floor. I stay there with my limbs sprawled due to exhaustion from the climb.
“You’re tired from climbing only this much?”
“Shut up,” I groan before looking at him. “Sue me for not being a professional climber.”
“A baby could climb this.”
“I’m gonna pretend I can’t hear you.”
“LALALALA—” With my hands over my ears, I yell drowning out his voice.
“Alright, alright, shut your mouth.”
“Or I can put it to good use.” I can’t believe I just suggested that.
Even if he did hear me, Xavier doesn’t acknowledge it and moves towards the other side of the room to switch the booming music off.
“Ever heard of a thing called a door?”
I roll over and sit up, still on the floor. “I did try the door. You didn’t listen long enough and instead decided to drown us out like an annoying teen.”
I watch him stiffen. His jaw twitches and I see the blank mask slipping on his face. “You met Lucas?”
“Yeah,” I answer softly, curious about his change in expression.
“Did he do anything to you?”
“Why? Would he?”
He sighs. “I don’t know.”
“What do you mean?”
Silence. He pockets his hands and takes painstakingly slow strides until he is standing in front of me.
“Why are you here, Thea?” The way my name rolls off his mouth makes shiver. I tilt my head to meet his gaze.
“You want the truth?” He gives a single nod. “I didn’t want you to feel alone on your birthday. And I also wanted to see you and thank you for the flowers.”
“I don’t know what flowers you’re talking about.”
“Mhmm. Sure you don’t.”
“Seriously, I have no ide—” I pull at his arms and take him by surprise which results in him falling on his knees in front of me. Even in a seated position, he’s taller than me.
“Kneeling already? Aren’t you moving too fast?” I tease. He rolls his eyes and tries to pry my hands off but I hold onto them more firmly.
“Thank you,” I say, sincerely, while looking into his gaze.
He stops moving and I watch his expression soften slightly and his lips twitch by a fraction. My smile widens as he makes himself comfortable on the floor by sitting in front of me.
“Since you’re already here, it would be rude to throw you out.”
“And when has that ever stopped you before?”
“Since when you just risked your life to climb to a second-floor window.”
“Very funny.” Despite my sarcastic remark, the grin on my face doesn’t falter. I open my bag and take out his gift which is wrapped neatly and toss it to him.
He gives me a look before obliging. The paper is carefully opened with patience and a sketchbook comes to view along with a sketching set.
“This is...” He stares at the items in his hand.
I bite my lip in anticipation suddenly feeling very self-conscious about the gift. “If you don’t like it just throw it away.”
He doesn’t look up at me. “How did you know I draw?”
“Remember the first time we met?”
“At the library?”
I nod. “I was there to give your notebook back and I may or may not have sneaked a peek inside to find out about its owner. And I saw the doodles but I also saw the sketches beside them.” My hands fidget and I look away.
It isn’t like me to be nervous but his drawings are a part of him that he prefers to keep hidden. To look at something so personal without permission was wrong of me but I didn’t realize it then.
“Thea,” I gulp before hesitantly looking up to find his eyes on mine. To my great relief, they don’t hold any anger. “This is perfect and I’m only going to say this once so listen carefully...thank you.”
I blink. Did he just...say thank you? “Sorry? I didn’t catch that. Can you repeat it?”
His expression turns flat. “Don’t push it.”
My response is a grin wide enough to split my face in half.
The moment is so perfect that I just couldn’t help but ruin it. Curse my unfiltered mouth.
“Xavier?” He looks up at me. “What did you mean when you asked if Luke did anything to me?”
His eyes harden and tension grips his shoulders. “Nothing.”
“That didn’t look like nothing.”
Xavier gets up from the floor and strides to the other side and back again and before long starts pacing.
“Hey, if you don’t want to tell me it’s alright. I’m sorry I—”
“They disowned me!” His sudden outburst takes me by surprise but not more than the words that escape his mouth.
“What?” My voice is barely above a whisper and yet it travels right to him as I watch him flinch. The action is barely visible but it’s there and it tears at me that I caused him to visit his past.
“My parents. They didn’t want me anymore so they fucking disowned me.”
That’s why he lives with Elijah. All of a sudden, it’s difficult for me to breathe anymore.
Why? Why would someone do something like that? Who wouldn’t want Xavier?
Xavier seems to be in a world of his own as he continues with a distant look in his eyes. “Lucas was always the best son, the perfect one. So when he left and they tried to force their perfectionist ways on me, I couldn’t live up to their expectations.
“They didn’t need or want a son like me so they disowned me.”
That is the longest I’ve heard him speak but I’m not sure I like it. My heart breaks for him and all I want to do is make it better. For him.
“I understand how you feel.” His gaze flashes towards me as if he just remembered I’m still here. “My father always preferred my brother over me. I remember the way he used to look at me like I’m a burden he’s forced to carry.” A sad smile makes its way to my face. “But my mother loved us the same and Alex was a good brother. So, I never really felt lonely.”
“I didn’t even know you had a brother,” he speaks softly.
“Now you do.”
“But I don’t hate Lucas because my parents preferred him over me. I hate him because of what he did to me.”
Dread fills me as dark thoughts creep their way into my mind, fastening my heartbeat. “What did he do?”
Any idea on what Lucas (Luke) may have done to deserve Xavier's anger?