Facade

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Definitely not cute

THEA’S POV

My hands glide over the soft material of the golden dress that I was forced into by my aunt.

I eye the various business moguls gathered at this party adorned head to toe in nothing but lavish clothes and accessories.

“Where is the bribe you promised?” I raise a brow in question at Beth.

My dear aunt gives me a sly grin before pointing at the long buffet at one corner, filled to the edge with food.

Eyes sparkling in delight and a broad grin forming on my face, I gaze at the cuisine with a longing expression.

“Go on, you can stuff yourself all you want,” Beth grins back, “Just save your energy for one dance when the music starts.”

Nodding absentmindedly, I move towards the table. The view from here allows me to scan everyone present at this party.

And the most interesting part is when my eyes land on a familiar raven head. My grin widens.

What are the chances?

I think about approaching him but considering our last interactions, decide otherwise. Instead, I observe from afar as he glances around almost nervously.

Hmm.

On cue, a blonde lady dressed completely in white, approaches him from behind and taps gently on his shoulder. Xavier visibly flinches before turning to face her with a stony expression.

I notice him handing her something and upon closer inspection realize, it’s the flower bouquet I helped design earlier today.

What a lucky girl she is!

Amusingly enough, her eyes light up with delight at the present as Xavier’s become stonier by the moment. Safe to say she isn’t exactly aware of the symbolism behind those flowers.

Blondie peeks at Xavier from underneath her lashes, batting them flirtatiously in the process. Or at least it’s supposed to be flirtatious, I think.

I stuff another chocolate truffle in my mouth before trudging closer so I can listen to what’s going on.

Bad Thea. It’s not good to eavesdrop on others’ conversations.

I look around me and decide their conversation will be more interesting compared to the business talk everyone else is spewing. It’s worth the moral compromise.

Remaining partially hidden behind a potted plant, my ears perk up at their voices.

“You’re so sweet! And such a gentleman for bringing me these lovely flowers as well.” The girl is literally beaming with joy.

Gentleman. Right.

“Err...yeah, that.” At least he agrees with me.

“My friends always described you as...well...very rude. But I can see you’re such a sweetheart!” With that, she loops her arm with his and blinks up at him adoringly.

I snort, unable to help myself.

Xavier’s face twists in the most amazingly horrified expression I can think of as he snatches his arm away as if she burned him.

And that’s where things go wrong.

I freeze as his eyes land on mime, spotting me trying to hide behind a plant. I try to make a run for it but his voice catches me off guard.

“Thea! There you are. I was looking for you.” He swiftly moves towards me and wraps his hand around my wrist firmly, making it impossible for me to escape.

“You were?” I pull my hand but his grip tightens.

“Yes,” he grits out before turning to Blondie. “Please excuse us. I’m meeting my friend after a long time so we have some catching up to do.”

Xavier doesn’t wait for her reply as he drags me with him, trying to escape Blondie’s sight. Music starts to play and couples join the dance floor for the first round of dance, effectively making it harder for us to flee.

Spotting no other option, Xavier pulls me among the dancing crowd to join him for a dance.

“Hey! At least have the decency to ask like a gentleman.”

His icy glare only makes my grin widen.

“And here I thought you are a sweetheart.”

He groans in annoyance and hangs his head. “Shut up.”

On instinct, my mouth opens with a biting remark. “Make m—”

His hand around my waist tugs me closer, our chests brushing against each other making my grin waver for a second. I can feel the rise and fall of his breath from this distance.

Grey eyes bore into me in a warning. I grin back.

Moving my lips near his ear, I whisper in a low voice. “Aw sweetheart, aren’t you a cute little one?”

His fingers softly dig into my flesh and he abruptly moves away. Our hands stay intertwined and I twirl before he roughly pulls me back to him.

Our chests collide and I feel his warm breath on my neck as his lips move to my ears.

“I. Am. Not. Cute.”

A delicious shiver travels up my spine and a remark dances on the tip of my tongue.

But before I can say anything, a shrill voice pierces through my ears.

“Xavi!” Blondie tries to run in her heels through the throng of people preventing her from reaching through.

Xavier’s hand clasps my wrist again and tugs me away from the dance floor.

“She’s only after you. Why are you dragging me along?” I ask he pulls me through.

“In case she catches me, I can use you as an excuse to run away.”

“Hmm? You sure that’s the only reason.” My voice comes out less confident than I intended to but he’s too busy running to notice.

“Xavi?” The familiar shrill voice comes through again just as Xavier pulls us through a door.

“Hey—mmph.”

He pushes me against the wall and puts his hand on my mouth, silencing me in the process.

“Mmph!”

“Shh. She’ll hear us.”

I look up at him, watching him glare down at me.

“Xavi? Xavi? Sweetheart?”

My brows raise in amusement and the looks he gives me screams ‘don’t you fucking dare!’

I wiggle my brows just for the fun of it. In response, he presses me further against the wall, stepping closer.

My mind turns blank from the sudden proximity and unlike when Dylan tried to do this, I’m not repulsed by his closeness.

I squirm in his grip but Xavier doesn’t let go. Instead, his head bends down to rest on my shoulder and I freeze. His breathing is heavy as I feel the rise and fall of his chest under my palms which have found a comfortable position on his chest.

Footsteps grow louder and the silence between us intensifies. I don’t even realize I’m holding my breath until the footsteps reside and I exhale in relief.

Abruptly, he lets go and I stagger forward in a daze. Our gazes lock for a steady moment before he looks away. I don’t.

I continue to study his expression for any emotion but all I get is a blank face.

He twists the doorknob to let us out of this cramped space when the sudden click causes both of our eyes to widen.

I swat his hand away and try it myself just to be sure and...nothing. The door doesn’t budge.

We’re locked in.

Well, shit.

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