Facade

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Floral decisions

THEA’S POV

I searched the entire corridor and yet I couldn’t find him. School already ended so perhaps he went home. I sigh.

Not wanting to go home yet, I make my way into the school library. On my way, I greet the librarian who nods at me, giving me a wrinkled smile full of warmth as I move to the row at the corner.

I brush my fingers along the spines of the books looking for something I can read. When I can’t find any, I huff and take a step back with my hands on my hips.

“Oof!” My back collides with someone walking behind me with books in their hands that tumble down one be one. I turn around, mortified, eyes wide and mouth agape, hoping I didn’t hurt anyone.

“I’m so sorry. Are you okay?” I bend down to pick up the books muttering ‘sorry’ repeatedly.

“It’s okay, I got it.” The deep voice causes my eyes to snap towards the person and only now do I see the familiar grey eyes that captured my attention the first time I laid eyes on them.

Seeing them up close, I finally understand why I was so allured by them.

Black hair falls over his forehead in soft ruffles, his fair skin making the grey more prominent in his eyes. Sharp jaws, high cheekbones, and a well built making him so beautiful—and yet the features I want to see are his eyes.

Xavier is one of the popular ones, always the center of attention—students or teachers—everyone adores them.

Then why? Why do his eyes look so sad? So melancholic?

They remind me of rainy days when grey clouds loom in the sky hiding the warmth of the sun, bringing gloom in its presence.

But I like rainy days. When the cloud takes over the sky and rain falls washing off my worries and taking it with them.

Xavier avoids eye contact as he picks up the books off the floor and takes the ones in my hand as well. He stands up in a rush and walks away.

“Xavier, wait!” I stand up as well and walk up to him. Sliding my bag off my shoulder, I zip it open, looking for the notebook. “There’s something–”

“Look, if you want to give something to Cole, give it to him directly. Don’t bother me with it.” His voice is harsh, stunning me into a wide-eyed expression. He still doesn’t meet my eyes as he turns around and walks off again.

“Xavier! Wait!” I run up to him, catching his wrist by instinct. He stiffens and pulls back immediately as if my touch burned him. As his hands rise, I flinch slightly only to see him running it through his hair.

“What?” I hold out the notebook towards him.

“You dropped it in class earlier.”

Xavier freezes, widening his eyes a little. His plump lips part as if to utter something but nothing comes out. Wordlessly, he takes the notebook in his hands. As his gaze settles on me, it’s almost as if he just noticed, really noticed me.

His expression turns to one of surprise for a mere second. His mouth opens again but I hold up a hand stopping him. “I know, I know. I won’t bother you, don’t worry. I just wanted to return this to you.”

Before he can say anything else, I turn around and walk the way I came from. A sudden emptiness settles within me.

I stop abruptly right before I collide into someone else and look up to meet a pair of green eyes for the second time today. However, this one belongs to a very well known ginger head, Flynn Lawson, another of the popular boys—and they are paler in comparison to Dylan’s.

Must be my lucky day. Running into two of them in one day.

“Sorry,” I mutter out loud before moving past him and out of the library.

*****

My hands desperately clutch onto Lily as she tries to storm off while fuming in rage.

“Lil, calm down, it’s no big deal.”

She huffs heavily before sitting her ass down on the chair. “I can’t believe this boy. You were helping him and he has the audacity to think you were just another girl lusting after that Cole.” She seethes. “Sure he’s slept with half the population of our school but that doesn’t mean everyone is after him.”

My brows pull together in confusion. “What’s wrong with that?”

She retracts abruptly. “He just accused you falsely and you’re asking me what’s wrong?”

“Not that. What’s wrong with girls lusting after him?” She remains visibly confused so I explain further. “He’s good-looking and charming so naturally girls like him. They know exactly what they are getting themselves into when they follow him around. What’s wrong with liking someone? Or simply wanting sex?”

Cole Marshall surpasses Dylan in terms of being a playboy. It’s a new girl every week and his reputation is known to everyone. It’s not stupid to think the bad boy will change, but it’s not realistic that he’ll change for that specific person either.

Lily stares at me dumbfounded before she bursts into a fit of laughter. Her fair cheeks turn red as she clutches her stomach through her silent laugh.

“Thea, babe,” she says as she sobers up, “I love you. You know that, right?”

A wide grin forms on my face and I let out a few chuckles of my own. “Of course you do. I’m thea-dorable.”

She giggles again. “Gosh, you’re so cheesy.” Her blue eyes twinkle in amusement.

“So, no more death threats?”

She narrows her eyes playfully before biting into her sandwich and chewing obnoxiously on purpose letting me know we’re over the topic.

*****

The glass door swings open as I enter the flower shop.

“Hey, Patsy!” I smile at the owner standing by the side of the newly arrived crates of flowers.

“Thea! Come in, come in!”

Patsy is an old and petite woman whose enthusiasm with flowers is never-ending. The bright twinkle in her eyes is proof enough for her love of flowers.

“The same arrangement as usual?”

“Yes, thank you.”

“Oh, dear, no need to thank me.” She moves around to get the bouquet ready. “After all, you—”

The glass door swings open, this time with a much more aggressive force.

The young man enters the shop and slams twenty dollars on the counter. “How do I say ‘fuck you’ with flowers?”

His breathing is slightly labored as he pins Patsy with a deadly glare which I’m sure is reserved for someone else.

Patsy glares right back. “No cursing in my shop, Mister.” She even points a finger at him in accusation.

I decide to step in. “Don’t worry, Patsy. I’ll handle this.”

Giving her a bright smile that makes her melt, I turn around to face the familiar teen.

His eyebrows shoot through the roof when he notices me.

“You!”

“Yes?”

“You—you,” the raved haired boy trails off, unable to come up with words to express his emotions.

“Don’t mind me. Come on, I’ll help you with the flowers.”

Curiosity flares in his stormy eyes. “How?”

I don’t say anything. Instead, I continue to move about picking flowers to make the perfect bouquet that he ordered.

When I’m finally done, I show him the arrangement.

“Explain,” Xavier orders. Such a gentleman.

“Geraniums for ‘stupidity’, foxgloves for ‘insincerity’, meadowsweet for ‘uselessness’, yellow carnations for ‘disappointment’, and lastly, orange lilies for ‘hatred’.” I eye the flowers with pride. “I think it’s quite lovely, don’t you?”

Xavier stares at me in silence before casting his gaze on the bouquet and then returning them on me again.

Wordlessly, he takes the flowers from my hand and turns to Patsy to pay for them. Without another word, he leaves.

I guess expecting a ‘thank you’ was too much? My focus turns to the woman who is holding out a bouquet for me.

The deep, crimson roses for ‘mourning’ and the rosemary that surrounds them for ‘remembrance’. The same arrangement. Every single time for every single month.

Suddenly, my voice clogs with an unknown emotion as I follow Xavier’s method and wordlessly exit the shop after paying for them.

Patsy doesn’t say anything.

During the first week of every month, I visit my parents and my brother. Memories of times with them flash before my eyes as I reach my destination. The cemetery.

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