27 | Avoidance Techniques

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Sebastian skipped out on dinner by pleading a migraine

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Sebastian skipped out on dinner by pleading a migraine. It wasn't exactly a lie since his brief conversation with Blair had left his head throbbing, but it wasn't the whole truth either.

His mother had sent him upstairs with a couple Advil and a glass of water almost four hours ago, giving him plenty of time to recover and gather his thoughts. Now as he came downstairs, the last few guests and family members were making their way out the door. He quickly said his goodbyes and waited beside his mother until everyone had piled into their respective cars.

Arabella closed the door once the last car had pulled away from the curb and let out a heavy sigh of relief.

"Thank God that's over," she mumbled, mostly to herself, though he felt the exact same way. She then turned and smiled at her youngest son. "Your friends are out in the backyard if you're looking for them. Talia was worried about you when you left so suddenly earlier. Feeling better now?"

"Much," he replied, smiling as she reached out to pat his cheek lovingly before wandering back off into the kitchen.

With a heavy sigh, Sebastian trekked through the house and exited through the sliding glass doors. On first glance, he thought nothing of his friends huddled in a tight circle in the middle of the dark yard, illuminated only by the flood lights off the back of the house, but when he looked closer he realized that they were all gathered around Taliana. As he moved towards them, he saw that Marcus was hugging her to his side and Michael was offering up an ice pack for the bruise blooming around her eye.

The next thing he knew, Sebastian found himself brushing Marcus out of the way and taking Talia's face in his hands, quickly inspecting her for any other damage.

"What the hell happened?" he questioned, frowning as he swept his thumb over her purple-tinged cheekbone. "Jesus, did you get hit? Who did this to you?" His gaze swept to Marcus, Michael, Jude, and Jacob -- who had apparently shown up sometime during dinner. "I swear to God, if any of you laid a hand on her—"

"Relax," she laughed, reaching out to touch his jaw and recapturing his attention. "It wasn't any of them, I promise. If it had been, you'd be trying to pull me off of whoever did it before I killed them."

That didn't ease his anxiety any. "If they didn't do it, who did?"

She squirmed underneath his touch and grimaced. "Zak, actually."

"Zak did this to you?" That was it, he was going to kill the kid next time he saw him. Hell, he should have done that a week ago instead of just getting him expelled and blacklisted.

"Well, he was trying to do this to Jude, but I ended up getting in the way," she chuckled dryly, pulling Sebastian's hands away from her face. "He and Mrs. Patterson showed up about fifteen minutes after you left. Everything was fine during dinner, but I guess Zak decided he wanted to get Jude back for what he did once everyone started coming outside for drinks."

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