Chapter Ten

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It felt like I had grown a tiny rose within the confines of my intestine; the bigger the petals grew and touched the walls of my stomach, the more the sparks ignited. It felt like a dozen wide-winged butterflies were hovering above that said flower, and they were cherishing its bloom by flapping their wings about within the confines of my body; like they wanted to explode out of the cage and be set free.

Every step that I took forward towards my local coffee shop only intensified the sensation I was currently experiencing.

And no, it was not because of the coffee.

Don't get me wrong, I live for iced-coffee. But it's something I have every consecutive day, I grew pretty accustomed to it, so the excitement could not possibly be for that. And as much as I tried to shrug off the feeling, the distraction, the voice within my head yelling at me to run faster - I couldn't. The odd sensations were sending my mind into a frenzy, and I was on the verge of losing the last bit of my sanity.

As I finally reached the familiar light-yellow chipped wooden door, I reluctantly stretched out my hand to grab onto the knob. I took a minute to breathe in deeply, forcing my anxiety to rest and grounding myself to the present.

Pushing the door open, I heard the familiar classic ding of the bells hanging above. The addictive aroma of freshly brewed coffee hit my senses instantaneously, and my heart suddenly warmed.

As per usual, the place was packed. "Yaya" was the best coffee shop in town and has been around for longer than I can remember. It was fairly small but extremely cozy, with a hippie interior-design and subtle, warm colors. I followed my heart as it led me to the ordering counter.

Luckily no one stood ahead of me in line, so I was quick to order my usual Iced-coffee with added vanilla, Ariel's Caramel Latte, and Noah's Americano.

I don't know how he could drink that abominable mixture. I went for a taste once and couldn't rid of the coffee flavor on my tongue for three hours straight.

As I reached into the back pocket of my jeans to retrieve my money, an arm extended by my right, offering the boy on the other side of the counter some cash. I snapped my head to the owner of the money - and past the muscular arm - only to involuntarily gasp and take a step back.

"I've got it," his deep voice informed the boy, who glanced at me for affirmation. When he didn't get a reaction - because my widened eyes were still transfixed on the last man I expected to see - he shrugged and took the money, handing him back the change.

His eyes finally snapped to my own and I deeply inhaled as those striking silvers pierced into my soul. A heart-warming smile grazed Xavier's features and he opened his mouth to speak.

"Nora," he acknowledged, nodding once.

I was at loss of words. What the hell was he doing here?

"I-I..." I was tongue-tied. But the worst part of it all was that I couldn't tell what the heavy feeling tugging at my heart strings stood for. Was it fear... or relief?

"How have you been?" He asked, when he took into account my shock.

"W-what are you doing here?" I suddenly blurted out.

Xavier grinned amusedly and looked down, bouncing on his legs. He looked so different than when I first met him. At the inn he was so confident as he stood tall, dominating, and intimidating everyone around him with his powerful essence. Now, however, he looked almost nervous.

"I figured I'd give it a shot." He finally looked up, hope dancing behind my favorite feature of his - his eyes...

Wait, did I just claim I have a favorite feature in Xavier?

"Give what a shot?" I asked.

"Your order's ready." The boy mumbled monotonously before going back to his work.

I walked over to the recieving end and grabbed my drinks, picking some napkins and straws as well. Then I suddenly realized what happened earlier in my shocked state; Xavier paid for our order. I couldn't let him do that.

I reached into the back pocket of my jeans and pulled out some cash, offering it to him. He glanced down at my hand then raised a brow, giving me a look that basically screamed a sarcastic, "seriously?"

I shook my head, "thank you, but I can't make you pay for my drinks. They're not just for me, anyway."

I watched him lick his lips, contemplating my answer for a second. "You can always pay me back later."

I gulped. The last thing I wanted was to be indebted to any of Vincent's friends. I shook my head a bit too violently, causing some hair strands to fall onto my face.

"No, I'd rather just get it over with now."

An odd expression passed through Xavier's eyes, like my words struck him harder than they should've. He didn't reply as his gaze once again moved to the wooden floor. He fiddled a little with the expensive watch on his right wrist before finally looking up.

"Would you like to have lunch with me?" He suddenly blurted out.

My eyes widened at his forwardness. I was certainly not expecting that to come out of his mouth next.

"That's what I'm here for." He took a step closer and the fresh scent of his cologne wafted through to my senses, dropping straight into my stomach as the butterflies yet again battled over the blossoming flower growing within. "Nora, when you left, I couldn't just let that be the end. I felt a connection to you like none I'd ever experienced before; that's why I came here."

I was, yet again, at loss of words. Xavier had a habit of leaving me tongue-tied.

"Uh.." I stammered, trying to think of a quick response.

Xavier sensed my hesitation, and he took another step forward. He was a mere foot away from me now, and my heart beat began to quicken at his close proximity - at the warmth that radiated off his body. I watched his eyes momentarily glance down to the left side of my chest, and he smiled - probably because he knew how his close proximity was sending my heart into an erratic beating.

"Nora," he whispered in his low, velvety voice, and I fought against a shiver. "I know you feel what I feel. Our souls have a deep connection that no mortal can comprehend."

His words sounded so foreign, but I couldn't deny the truth behind them even if I tried to. I did feel a sense of connection to his soul, one I'd never experienced before. And frankly, the fact that I was feeling so deep a connection to a person I knew nothing about scared me beyond the ordinary.

"Xavier," I took a reluctant step backwards. "I-I don't know.."

How could I trust someone that was friends with the right-hand of the biggest mafia in North America? I couldn't!

"All I'm asking for is a chance." His shimmery silver gaze was pleading as he stared into my own hopefully.

A sudden gush of wind swirled past us as the door to the cafe was closed behind some customers, and Xavier's all too familiar addictive scent wafted through my senses. He smelt like the woods, and fresh rain.

Those goddamned butterflies, again.

"One chance," Xavier asked once more. "Just lunch."

It was true that I didn't know him nor could I tell if he was trustworthy - but those emotions bursting from my heart and sending tingling sensations down to the ends of my fingertips were overwhelming me, speaking much louder than all the logical reasons my brain yelled at why I shouldn't agree to his offer.

And then the words left my mouth before my brain could fully register them, "just lunch."

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