Chapter Seventeen

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"I think I'd like to go home," I finally managed to whisper after staying silent for so long.

Xavier glanced up from burning daggers at the floor, his jaw so clenched I feared he might break his teeth. His worried eyes studied me for a fair minute, searching for warning signs behind my eyes.

"There's one more thing we should discuss," he proclaimed.

"What is it?" My heart began to race again - it seemed to do that quite often lately.

His hand came up to stroke the stubble growing on his chin, and his eyes roamed around the floor as if in preparation to whatever he was going to say. That only seemed to increase my angst.

When he finally looked up, his deep silver gaze captured my own in a captive hold.

"I believe it might be safer for you if you returned to Indiana with me."

I was so distracted and bewitched by his heart-warming gaze, that my ears failed to capture the words leaving his mouth.

"What?" I whispered. But a second later, my ears managed to pick up on the echo of his words. It took my brain a few seconds too long to fully decipher the meaning behind them. "What?" This time, my question came out in disbelief.

"It's the only way I can maintain your full protection while simultaneously aiding to my personal affairs." I gazed at Xavier's facial expression for a whole minute, waiting for his serious persona to break with a huge smile and hear him exclaim "just kidding!".

But it never broke.

So instead I broke out into a hysterical laugh. Xavier frowned worriedly, confused by my reaction.

"Ar-" I took a deep breath to compose myself, holding my chuckles in. "Are you seriously asking me to move to another state? With you?" I was beginning to question whether this whole thing was even real. Maybe he was playing a prank on me, trying to impress me? "Shouldn't we perhaps," I puckered my lips, stifling a smile, "wait 'til after the second date?"

Xavier's brows narrowed in disapproval, not enjoying my teasing. "I'm perfectly serious, Nora."

The smile was swept off my face. "Are you out of your mind, Xavier?" I stood up from my seat on the bed to approach him, stopping a couple feet away. He was a fair foot taller than me, so I had to tilt my chin upwards to stare directly into his eyes. "I am not going to leave my home and everything that I know behind just because some sad-excuse of a mobster who failed in successfully delivering his products is holding a pathetic grudge against you."

Xavier studied my facial expression for a while, taking in my words. "It's not as simple as you think it is, Nora," he whispered, the frustration and distress evident in his eyes.

"I don't care." I took a step back . "I'm going home."

I turned to walk away, and in the process my hand brushed against the soft texture of my bathrobe. I glanced down at my attire and face-palmed when I realized this is my best option, since I have no clothes here. Sighing, I continued towards the door.

I reached out for the handle to pull the door open, but was stopped when a hand slammed the door back shut. I spun on my heels to come face-to-chest with Xavier who was standing tall behind me. His hand lowered from the door and fell to his side.

"What?" I hissed, ignoring the sparks igniting within my world from his unusually-warm close proximity.

Xavier took a step back so I could lift my head up and meet his eyes. "Let me at least drive you back." His shimmery silver orbs fell down to inspect my attire, "and let me give you something better to wear."

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