Chapter Eighteen

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When Xavier parked his car across my apartment complex, I was surprised to see him preparing to step out of it. The engine was switched off and he unbuckled his seat-belt. I stopped in the midst of unbuckling my own and studied his actions in confusion. Xavier noticed my hesitance and looked over with bewildered eyes.

"Are you going somewhere?" I knew my question sounded dumb, but I couldn't find a better way to word my confusion.

A faint smile graced his lips. "The least you could allow me to do is see you through. Otherwise, I won't be able to sleep peacefully tonight."

I reflected over his offer reluctantly. I didn't want this to mean anything; the faster we part ways the easier moving on will be. Plus, a bigger part of me worried what my friends will think of me bringing Xavier up to my apartment. While wearing his clothes.

Thinking about my friends brought back yesterday's unpleasant memories, and accompanied by them was a painful pang that rang through my chest. As childish as it seemed, I had an instant urge to disobey Elliot's 'orders' just to piss him off. I knew for sure that if he saw me with Xavier he would flip, and I was dying to see him do just that.

"Sure." I reached out for the door handle, but not before noticing the wide grin that spread over Xavier's face, his contagious excitement radiating off of him and creeping over me so that I ended up smiling just as cheerfully.

I glanced sideways at the street before crossing to the other side, Xavier following close behind. Once we reached the elevator, he hit the button then waited patiently by my side - standing so close that our shoulders brushed occasionally.

As we ascended up to my floor, I began speaking just as the elevator doors spread open. "I gotta warn you though, my humble abode goes nowhere near the extravagance you're surely used to," I teased.

Xavier rolled his eyes, biting back a smile. "I'm sure your place is lovely."

We strode down the hall until we reached my apartment door, when Xavier questioned, "shouldn't we have asked someone for a spare key?"

I shook my head, "my place is always occupied." I reached out and opened the door, and as expected - it was unlocked. I glanced at Xavier's expression to see him frowning at the door in disapproval.

The second I took a step inside my apartment, my body was engulfed by another human being's. The arms wrapped around my shoulders and squashed me to a hard, flat chest, my nose scrunching up as it was pressed against a broad shoulder.

"Jesus, Nora!" A raspy voice yelled in my ear. I flinched and tried to push myself away from the hard chest.

Noah stepped back once he realized my intention, but he didn't let go of me completely. His hands remained on my shoulders as his wide, frantic eyes searched my own. They moved over my face, and I could hear the breath hitching in his throat as he suddenly stopped breathing. He composed himself and clenched his jaw tightly, his hand coming up to poke a cold finger against the bruise on the side of my forehead. I flinched back, glaring at him.

"I'm fine, Noah." I whispered softly. It had completely left my mind that I bore a small gash that would surely raise questions.

"What the Hell happened to you?" His voice was so low, I could barely hear his question even though I stood two feet away.

"It was a clumsy accident, no big deal." I stepped to the side to walk away, but Noah copied my movement and blocked my way. A sudden cough sounded from behind me, and Noah's jade eyes moved from my face to the man behind me, widening then hardening in fearful rage.

I instantly knew what was coming up next.

My hands flew up to be placed against Noah's stiff shoulders as he lunged at Xavier, no doubt falsely believing he had something to do with my injury.

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