Facade

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THEA’S POV

We sit in silence, wrapped in sheets on the bed, Xavier’s hand stroking my naked back as we lay tangled in each other, bare in every sense.

My head rests on his chest as I listen to the beat of his heart which brings a strange sense of relief. His warmth drives away anguish and loneliness, the rare feeling of content consuming me.

I’ve never felt quite at home.

“You’re an idiot,” Xavier says.

“Hey!” I scold him, halfheartedly, but don’t disagree.

“How in the world you managed to reach that decision is beyond me.” He sighs, his chest heaving up under my cheek. “Yet that is something only you would do, so can’t say I’m surprised.” I tilt my head up slightly to see him watching me. “You really are an idiot.”

Instead of answering him, I bury my face in the crook of his neck and his lips meet the top of my head. I hear his whisper, feel his breath on my scalp, “Idiot.”

His hold around me tightens and somehow, him calling me names only makes me fuzzy inside. I close my eyes and breathe him in, collecting my thoughts before I tell him everything.

From my suspicion of David being innocent to finding out Beth is involved, including Giovanni although I don’t know to what extent.

I tell him everything, not missing a single detail.

“There’s another thing as well,” I exhale heavily, moving away to sit up, facing him. Xavier waits patiently for me to continue. “I don’t know how but I think Beth is responsible for your mother’s death.”

His hand that was tracing patterns on my shoulder, stops. Grey eyes widen before he’s lost in thought, possibly remembering something unpleasant from the grimace that overcomes his features.

“What?”

“She said Pietro caused the accident which took her life. He died along with her.”

I glance away, ashamed somehow, as I wait for him to say something.

“I didn’t kill her?” His whisper gets lost in the shadows of this room.

“What?” I was expecting anything but that.

His eyes focus on me again, this time a strange glimmer of relief swimming in those depths. Xavier lets his head fall back on the headrest behind him, closing his eyes. His Adam’s apple, the smooth curve of his jaws, the angle of his broad shoulders and collarbones—everything becomes much more defined making it impossible to take my eyes off him.

“Three years ago, on my birthday, Mom and I had a fight. It was the first time I had visited after they threw me out of the house. I thought maybe living away from me all those years may have softened them up a bit.” Pause. “I was wrong.

“All they could comment on were about my shortcomings and flaws and in a few minutes, they had managed to drag me back to the past. But I was better than before, so I spoke up for myself. It was the first time I truly voiced my opinion to them.”

He gulps but doesn’t open his eyes.

“But it made me even bitter and my words turned harsher...to the point where I saw her—my mother—tear up. That was new. It made me stop abruptly and I realized I had ended up just like them. She screamed ‘I hope you had succeeded in killing yourself’ before she stormed off alone.”

I take his trembling hand into mine, wrapping both my hands around it and squeezing gently.

“The next morning we got a call that she was in an accident and she didn’t survive. When we reached there, Dad was in hysterics, screaming and thrashing around and...blaming me for her death. I did too. Blame myself. For countless nights, I beat myself over the fact that she was too upset with my behavior and thus distracted which caused the accident. It’s why I don’t come out of my room on my birthdays.

“The entire year, I can pretend that I’m fine, that I don’t blame myself for it. But that one day, I can’t. It’s like her ghost still haunts me.” He finally opens his eyes and straightens his head to focus on me. “If what you said is true, then that means I didn’t kill her. I didn’t cause her to die.”

Without thinking, I throw myself at him, arms wrapping around his neck and holding him tightly. Neither of us is great at voicing our emotions yet we understand each other more than we can explain.

I can imagine him, tossing and turning in his bed, unable to sleep as he repeats that moment over and over in his head. Possibly even justifying his suffering by telling him he deserved it for causing her to die.

Maybe that’s why he doesn’t talk much. People think it’s because he’s broody, or has an attitude when he simply doesn’t want to say the wrong things, afraid he might hurt someone else the same way.

I relate to that more than I’d like.

“You didn’t cause that accident whether or not Pietro was responsible for it. It wasn’t your fault.”

He holds me closer, skin to skin. I want to melt into him, never wanting to leave this embrace.

However, I’m forced to do so when my phone starts buzzing with an incoming call, Lily’s name flashing on the screen.

Only this girl dares to call me at ungodly hours. But I’m too ecstatic to hear from her after a few days to care anymore.

Xavier lets me rest my head back on his chest as I hold the phone to my ears.

“Finally decided to crawl out of your room?”

“I wanna go right back in but—wait, you’re not cursing me out for waking you up at four in the bloody morning. Are you okay?”

I let out a small laugh. “Yeah. Xavier’s here so...”

“Damn, you guys are committed. So, what’s up?”

I look up at Xavier and he offers me an assuring smile, nodding his head to indicate whatever I decide, he’ll support me.

“We need to meet up. I’ve got some important things to discuss.”

“Sure, is everything alright?”

“No,” I answer truthfully, “I’ll talk to you during lunch at school.”

“Alright, see you then.”

We hang up and I sigh. Sleep isn’t an option anymore since we don’t have much time and even if we did, it won’t come easy.

So we lie there together, wrapped in each other, soaking up the other’s presence which in its simplicity never fails to bring contentment.

Before long, sunlight slowly floods the room but I miss it because against my better judgment, I find myself deep in slumber, curled against Xavier as he continues to play with my hair.

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This book is nearly at the end and suddenly I don’t want it to end. That said, I also can’t wait to update my other book.

Let me know your thoughts on this chapter in the comments!

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