Chapter 16 | Daxten

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Nick has some kind of Spidey-sense. If he wasn't long pestering Brando before I arrived, then there should be no reason for him to do it again so quickly. I'm sure there is more to the story, a reason why he seems to be a little obsessed.

      I look at Brando and I should know the reason. I don't often admit this about anyone, but he's truly, excruciatingly beautiful. His face is symmetrical and innocent and pure. I'd never want to let go either.

      But there's a fine line between wanting an ex back and being forceful about it. Nick is dancing all over that line.

      'Well, I graced Brando with my presence,' I finally reply once some of the shock subsides.

      Brando's hands are now locked between his thighs, his shoulders brought inward. Even though he was sitting, he looked tall before. If he recedes into his chair any more, it will swallow him up.

      'Was first class not to your liking?' Nick asks. He leans on the chair in front of Brando. The row in front of us is empty.

      'It's fine.'

      'Then shouldn't you be getting back?'

      Brando finally manages to speak. 'Shouldn't you go back to your seat, Nick? I asked you to leave me alone.'

      'You heard the gentleman,' I chime in before Nick can respond. I feel a little tipsy from the wine so I'm unsure if I'm slurring my speech.

      'No fair – you agreed to date me again, Brando.'

      I narrow my eyes at Nick. I don't believe a word that comes out of his mouth – but did he? I feel a little wounded right now.

      No, stop it. It's Nick. I've known him long enough to know he's not a trustworthy character.

      'I said I would have a drink with you when we're back in New York, that's it.'

      Okay, that's starting to sound a bit like a date to me. I furrow my brow and Nick notices. 'Oh, did he not tell you?'

      Brando turns his face to mine. 'He asked for one last drink and I only agreed in the hopes that he would leave me alone. That's all, I promise.'

      I see the genuine truth in the flickering of Brando's eyes. I believe him. Of course, I believe him.

      'Then you heard him,' I say, slowly shifting my gaze from Brando to Nick. 'New York. We still have about nine hours before then so if you would kindly fuck off...'

      'What did you say to me...'

      'I'll show you if you want me to...' I roll the sleeves of my jacket up.

      'No... no,' Brando says as he leans up from his seat. 'None of that...'

      'Excuse me, what's going on?'

      Leah. Her welcome presence penetrates the testosterone-fuelled row. I feel my heart race and I wonder what's coming over me. Something more than the wine, I'm sure.

      'Do you want to go back to your seat?' Leah asks Nick, her face bathing in disapproval. She even throws me a quick stink eye. I instantly regret being disruptive – I forgot my sister still has to work.

      'I'm positive I do not unless he –', he points in my direction, '– also finds his way to his own seat. I'm willing to walk you back up if you need the assistance.'

      'I'll be fine on my own, thank you,' I answer.

      I don't want to leave Brando – we were having so much fun together. I feel like we were making real progress, like I was both literally and figuratively unbuckling his seatbelt. He was so close. We were so close.

      But I don't want Nick to hover over Brando. The longer he stands there, the tighter his grip becomes and it's evident he's drowning Brando in darkness. I'll take one for the team. I'll leave and take Nick with me.

      I unbuckle my seatbelt, but before I can move, Brando's hand finds mine. I freeze with my hands on the hand rests. He looks at me. He doesn't need to speak. Don't go.

      'I'm going to have to ask you to take your seat, sir, you're being disruptive,' Leah tells Nick.

      The woman at the window moves forward. 'He can have my seat?'

      My face turns to her sharply. I don't realize that Leah and Brando do the same. 'No!' we all shout at her in unison.

      'We can sit wherever we please?' Nick comments, a fury lacing his voice. 'It seems rules are enforced for some and relaxed for others.'

      'I just need you to sit down and leave them alone,' Leah scolds. I love when she gets like this – unless I'm on the receiving end of it. She can be truly scary sometimes.

      'You want me to sit? Okay.'

      Nick gives us a quick look. I feel relief flush to my face as he turns on his heel. Brando gives me a little squeeze.

      Our relief is short-lived. He barely walks up the aisle before he slumps into the seat directly in front of us.

      'There,' he tells Leah. 'I'm sitting, since we can sit anywhere.'

      I see the defeat as Leah opens her mouth to speak but can't quite find the argument to battle him with.

      'It's okay,' Brando tells her, 'thank you.'

      Leah nods before returning to work, though we can tell she is reluctant to do so. Nick has managed to find a loophole and there's not much we can do when I'm sitting in a totally different seat in a totally different cabin.

      He's smart, I'll give him that. He turns so we can see him through the crack of the seats. 'So, what are we playing? I love cards.'

      Brando and I look at each other. He speaks first. 'We're not playing anymore.'

      Nick puts on a fake sorrowful sigh. 'Oh, such a shame. I was looking forward to playing games with you.'

      Brando turns his head away from both of us. I narrow my eyes at Nick when he looks at me. His smug little face is just asking for a fist in it.

      'Do you not have something better to do?' I say with a clenched jaw.

      'Hmm, talking to you is rather boring.'

      Nick turns. I would say I'm pleased but I'm not – he may not be watching us right now, but I can feel his eyes burn into me.

      I try to shake off the sour feeling he has left me in as I look to Brando. His shaking hands are on his seatbelt.

      He leans towards me and whispers 'is your offer to join you in first class still open?'

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