Facade

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Sanctuary

THEA’S POV

Everything seems like a blur as I stumble my way to my room. No. It feels like my head is underwater as I can’t hear anything except for the blood pumping in my veins and my heart seems to have lodged itself in my throat.

I can’t breathe.

“You know how everyone always thought it was just a robbery gone wrong?” Giovanni stated rather than questioning me, “And how your parents’ murder just happened because they were at the wrong place at the wrong time?”

“What do you mean? It was an accident, wasn’t it?”

He doesn’t reply. Instead, running a hand through his hair he avoids my gaze. “It was a planned murder. The people that broke in were...convicted killers. They were hired.”

I didn’t listen to anything he said after that because I needed to get the fuck away from that place.

At the age of only eleven, I had to watch my parents being killed right in front of my eyes. I remember begging for them to be spared but now I know it didn’t matter.

It didn’t matter that my father pointed a gun at my head because he wanted to save his son. It didn’t matter when he was given an option to save everyone on one condition—sacrifice either one of his children, he decided to save Alex’s life over mine.

It was a twisted game.

It didn’t matter that just before he could pull the trigger at my head, he was shot. I felt awful for being relieved.

But he was going to die anyway...because it was all planned.

Years wasted trying to bury these memories and just as I was starting to let go for a few days, they come rushing back like a tsunami.

I barely notice when I make it to my room. After the initial shock wears off, all I feel is anger.

The burning rage to destroy anything within my proximity so...I do exactly that. Picking up the vase on my bedside table, I throw it across the floor with as much force I can muster.

It shatters to pieces the moment it touches the tiled floor. Looking at the broken ceramic should make me feel better but all it does is fuel the growing anger consuming me.

So I grab the edge of the bedside table this time and flip it over. I probably shouldn’t be destroying hotel property like this but right now, I couldn’t care less.

The empty glass that was on the table earlier lies on the floor in a million piece but among them, the sharpest shard catches my eye as it glints under the light.

I drop to my knees on the floor and pick up the shard in my hand and twirl the piece, wondering what it would feel like if the dig the razor-sharp edge onto my skin.

Is this how Alex felt when he popped those pills?

I don’t want to kill myself...I just want the pain to stop.

“What the hell is all that noise—Thea?” My eyes widen as I snap out of my trance and the shard drops from my hand. I don’t turn around to face him. I don’t move and I’m sure I stop breathing. I can’t face him. Not now.

I scoff under my breath at the irony of this situation. When I was chasing after him, he always seemed to disappear and now that he is here...I want him gone.

Him seeing me like this is the last thing I want. I grit my teeth hard.

“I’ll keep the noise down. Sorry.” My voice comes out scratchy and I wince at the sound.

“Thea, what are you—”

“Not now, Xavier. Please.” The word comes out in a broken whisper when I spot him near me. He kneels down in front of me but I keep my eyes on the ground, away from his watchful gaze.

“Thea,” he says gently and I shake my head at him. A choked sob escapes my lips as he gently grips my chin and tilts my head and I notice the concern swimming in his grey pools. For the first time in years, a teardrop makes its way down my cheek. “Come here.”

He wraps his arms around my small frame as my head collides with his chest, face burying into his shirt as I let out an anguished cry. His gentle, soothing voice makes me cry harder while at the same time bringing me a sense of comfort I never knew was possible.

Xavier doesn’t say anything. He just holds me to him tightly and lets me cry my heart out.

My shoulders shake as I soak his shirt with my tears but he doesn’t seem to mind.

He brings me closer until I’m sitting sideways on his lap, my arms around his torso as he holds my trembling form.

When my pathetic weeping turns into soft sniffles, he finally pulls back only to pick me up bridal style. I don’t have the energy to question his actions so I just simply lay my head on his chest.

The pounding in my head and the exhaustion from crying take a toll on me causing me to close my eyes just as he enters his room and places me on the soft mattress of his bed.

I sigh as my head hits the pillow. As he’s about to let go, I grab the hem of his shirt in my fist making him turn around to look down at me.

“Stay. Please.”

His eyes convey his reluctance but when he notices my eyes welling up again, he settles himself beside me. With his back against the headboard, he sits beside me.

When his hand starts caressing my hair like the way I did last night, my eyes close and tears trickle down the side of my face. With the pad of his thumb, he wipes away the moisture before continuing to play with my hair.

*****

My eyes fly open with a gasp as I awake from a nightmare that seems incoherent now. I glance around to notice I’m still in Xavier’s bed. Judging from the darkness outside, morning is still hours away.

I look beside me to find Xavier’s back facing me as his shoulders heave up and down in a steady rhythm indicating he’s fast asleep.

Careful not to move too much, I gently slide towards him, closing the distance between our bodies. I rest my forehead against his back and grip his shirt in my fist, curling into myself.

A soft sigh escapes my lips as my erratic heartbeat slows down, matching Xavier’s breathing pattern.

I sniffle and close my eyes hoping to get back to sleep when I feel him move. My hold on his shirt breaks as he turns around to face me.

His arm comes around my waist and pulls me flush against his chest making my eyes widen. I scan his face for any sign of him being awake but his eyes remain stubbornly closed.

My throat clogs up with unnamed emotion and I have to blink away my tears as I snuggle against him, burying my head in the crook of his neck as his chin rests on my crown.

It’s like a dam just burst open now that I cried, the waterworks won’t stop anymore. This is exactly why I hate crying. Never does anything good.

Xavier’s grip encloses impossibly tight around me. “Sleep, Thea. You’re not alone.”

His sleepy whisper sends my heart fluttering like crazy while at the same time his husky voice makes me want to kiss him senseless.

I keep my eyes shut and take deep breaths to calm myself and within minutes I’m drifting off to sleep again.

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