44 | brother

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N E V A E H


Almost a week has passed since Aiden painted again. I've been feeling happier than ever. I feel like we've been spending more time together.

Nowadays, Aiden rarely works overtime in the office, so we always have dinner together. The same goes for breakfast. He seems to be less busy than before, and I wonder why. Usually, he would have worked a lot during weekdays, but now it's different.

After coming back from college, I step into my room and throw my bag onto my bed. I flop myself onto the mattress and huff.

It's Friday night, and I've already had a plan for it.

It's okay. Dad wouldn't be mad. You're not doing anything bad.

It's not like I'm going clubbing. Or drinking.

It's just a party.

Somehow, the guilt keeps coming back, especially since I just had a call with my parents an hour ago, in which they asked me how I was doing.

I told them everything about my life here. My college. My studies. My friends. Mom even asked me to invite Ash and Maya over to our house in Texas during the holiday. She sounded happy that I made new best friends.

I told them everything except Aiden and this house I'm living in.

Dad said he couldn't wait to visit Seattle again as soon as he's done with his business project. His voice was laced with sadness, but the guilt he might be feeling is nothing compared to mine. 

Why am I still here in this house? Shouldn't I go back to my apartment downstairs?

Would Aiden prefer that?

My phone beeps, and I read the messages popping up in my group chat.

Ash: What time should we pick you up, Nev? What about 8?

Ash: We'll be there as soon as Maya is settled in her dress.

Maya: I'm not wearing that dress.

Ash: You are.

Maya: It's too revealing.

Ash: Shut up. It looks good.

I smile. Reading their banter is like seeing myself with Sienna. I miss her. I feel bad that I'm keeping my secret from her even though she speaks to me about everything every night.

It's not that I don't trust Sienna. It's just too risky.

My phone rings. My eyes widen in surprise as I see the caller.

Max

What timing. Has he found out about what I'm up to? How?

I swallow and pick up my phone. "Hello."

"Why are you whispering? Are you in a class?" comes his voice. There's noise in the background, like students chattering.

He might have just finished his day on campus, probably waiting for Luna to finish her class.

Great. I'm so nervous that my voice sounds like a rasp.

"No, I'm in my room." I quickly compose myself.

"What are you doing?" he asks.

Damn. Now I feel seen.

"Nothing. I just came back from college," I say nonchalantly, trying to sound less nervous.

Why is he suddenly calling me after I lied to my parents about what I would be doing this weekend...and after my friends texted me to get ready for a party? Does he have a sixth sense?

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