At precisely nine o’clock in the morning on Saturday, Oliver pulls up in his black Aston Martin. The window of his car glides down and reveals his smiling face.“Hey, Alayna. Did you wait long?”“Hey, you’re just in time.”“Come on in,” he invites, cocking his head. I open the passenger door and step inside.Ollie said he’s going to briefly meet someone today, but I did not bother asking him where he’s going. He promised he’ll fetch me after the spa so we can go home together.The receptionist at the G&E Spa acknowledges Oliver right away and assists us. I watch how he makes the receptionist blush with his captivating smile, which makes me realize Oliver is naturally kind to everyone. He introduces me to her. She tells me her name’s Sarah and calls over another young woman. I follow her to the back of the spa. Oliver waves at us and leaves the building.Moving through the entrance is like entering another world. Every arched doorway is framed by pearl-colored silk, while ornamented pi
It is bad enough that talking to Brandon makes me feel anxious. It doesn’t help that every time I leave his room, I feel as though I’m battling against unfamiliar feelings.But I don’t like to share...His voice echoes inside my head while I try to understand what he meant. He is not sharing something with anyone. What does he mean by that?I must’ve been walking so absorbedly that I don’t notice anyone or anything on the way.“Alayna!”I jerk as I hear my name. Ms. Lennie is only a foot away, looking at me with a frown.“Are you okay?” Ms. Lennie asks, moving closer in my direction.“Yes, of course, Ms. Lennie. I’m sorry, I was just trying to think of what to do for my rest day.” If there’s something I’ve gotten pretty good at since I arrived here, it’s making excuses and explaining away my behavior. She nods, looking unconvinced. “Mr. Katrakis is waiting for you in your kitchen.”“I’ve got to go, Ms. Lennie. Sorry,” I say in a hurry.“Alayna? Alayna!” I can hear her calling me as I
“W-What do you want?”“I said I want you. Are those words not clear?”“I thought you hate being touched,” I say breathlessly. “Why are you doing this now?”He chuckles. God, his smile. I almost want to faint.“Is that what you think of me?” he asks.“What do you want from me?” I continue to wriggle. “Please, let me go. I can’t feel my hands anymore.”Brandon lifts me, then lays me on the couch, clasping my wrists and pinning my hands above me. “Better? Am I making you uncomfortable?”I squirm against him again, but he is keeping his grasp tight.“If this is about Oliver, you should not—”“This is about you and me,” his voice thickens. “Do you like him so much that you think this is about him?”“You should stop. He’s been friendly to me, always.”His eyes study me. “Let’s say he is. You didn’t answer my question.”I look away from his intense gaze. I jerk my arms from his grip and shove at his chest, then sit up.“No, I don’t, and even if I liked him...” I lift my chin. “What are you g
BRANDONGod, no. What have I done?There is nothing else I could do but send her away. I’m only trying to bear the anguish I feel in my chest the moment she is close to me. I like the feeling of her skin, her warmth, the look on her face when she smiles...But damn it, it all burns me. I still can’t bear it. I thought I was getting better, but it is still there.I’m wrong. I’m only getting worse.I clench my fists over my chest. “Fuck! Not again,” I groan. It is burning, and it is too damned painful.Where is Oliver?“Ollie...”It hurts. My chest, my head, my face. God, it all hurts.I fall on my knees. I can’t feel anything but the scorching in my chest. I force myself to stand and grope the phone with all my remaining strength, pressing the speed dial.Oliver answers at the first ring. “Brandon?”“Where are you?” I ask, catching my breath.“Brandon, what’s wrong?”“I need you right now,” I grunt. “Please, brother...”“I’m on my way.”It is the last word I hear from him, and everythi
Cassius appears in the dining room a few minutes later and walks toward me. “That looks good,” he says, looking at the food on the table.“Thanks.” I smile. “Where’s Ollie?”“He’s still with Brandon.”“Is Brandon going to be okay? Is he unwell? Did he ask for something? I can prepare it for him and—”Cassius cuts me off and chuckles. “Relax. He’s fine, and he’s eating the breakfast you prepared. He’s doing great, so don’t worry,” he assures with a small smile.The thorn in my chest finally stops pricking. I sigh in relief. Last night, he didn’t seem very well when he asked me to leave him right away. “Thank you. I was so worried.”“He’ll be fine.” He grins once again and looks back at the food on the table. “Can I have a taste of this?” he says, pointing to the sweet side dish I made of mascarpone cream cheese laced with vanilla.I chuckle. “Of course, you can.” I offer him a fork, then he slices off a small portion, tasting the food.He hums in approval. “Wow, tiramisu crepes?”“Yes.
I’ve never wanted anyone as much as I desire him. I never wanted to kiss anyone like this in my life. I lean into him, so I can taste more of him, but he shifts his face away.He frowns. “But if I don’t send you away, you won’t have the life you deserve.”I ignore him and cup the unmasked side of his face, and he doesn’t seem to mind. I feel his warmth and the cold, metallic touch beneath my skin. No, he is burning... feverish.“You couldn’t know that.”Brandon shuts his eyes as if in pain. He grits his teeth, and his face turns bright red. Unexpectedly, he stands and holds his chest, suddenly panting.“Hey, are you all right? Oh my God!” I exclaim as he brusquely collapses on the floor. I instantly run to his side. “Brandon, what’s wrong?” I try to touch him, but his hand stops me.I back away, but he grasps my wrist and looks at me instead.“Alayna,” he whispers hoarsely. “I don’t want you to see me like this. I’m sorry, but you have to leave now.”I touch my mouth, preventing my te
It’s been three weeks since I last saw Brandon’s face, and Oliver told me he will be taking the food to him instead of me for now. After the night his illness struck, I gave him space. It was also Oliver’s advice since his cousin needs to heal again. I have no idea how this illness can affect people; I’m afraid that I might hurt him again, so I keep my distance.I told Brandon that I wasn’t bothered by any of the things I was told, but after learning about his situation, I have to be more careful around him. Any skin-to-skin contact with him can trigger pain. That is the reason he doesn’t want to be touched.But unwilling to cut our connection, we were sending each other notes about his meal or how our day had gone. I sometimes went to his now-less-creepy white room so I could hear his voice, his laughter... until he stopped answering me. No more notes and he doesn’t answer my calls anymore in the white room.It’s bothering me now, wondering what happened to him, and all I can do is w
BRANDONWhy the fuck is she still out at this hour?I emptied a bottle of whiskey, but I still feel nothing. The alcohol won’t affect me. I frown at my wristwatch to check the time, and it’s already past two o’clock in the morning.What else can I do? Is this the life Alayna’s hoping for? Going out, dancing in a club with someone else? Is this the price of everything I can’t do for her? Has she already chosen this path? I almost died by fighting against myself. Is everything I fought for the past month for nothing?A knock on the door interrupts my thoughts. I open it immediately, hoping to see Alayna.“Brandon?” It’s Oliver, but he’s alone. He steps inside and closes the door.“Where is Alayna? Is she in her room?”He doesn’t answer right away. “She’s with Cassius,” he breathes. “I’m sorry, Brandon. I had a small misunderstanding with my girlfriend.”I frown hard. “When did you get a girlfriend?” I start to ask, but that isn’t important. “She’s still there? Why did you leave her with