Chapter 25 - Forgiveness Isn't Trust

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Dazed and a little confused by the frightening and yet enlightening conversation with Mason and Elijah, I found myself patiently listening to Luke explaining why I had my nightmare at lunch.

I use the term 'listening' loosely. Really, my mind was wandering, buzzing around with thoughts like a thousand wasps ready to sting at the thought of something unsettling.

He was telling me about why it came on so suddenly, without much of a trigger. It was like he knew me better than myself. I just came to the conclusion it was an aftershock to an earthquake. The earthquake being the terrifyingly painful flashback from Friday that Mason bought me out of. I haven't forgotten that.

"Maddie, are you listening?"

"Huh?" I blinked. My gaze drew back to Luke, who was sat casually in the armchair opposite the sofa where I was sat, in the living room.

He let out a small laugh. "I just said I was proud of you snapping yourself out of it so well at lunchtime."

"Oh." I dropped my eyes, confused at the unexpected praise. "I didn't think it was that fast. My friends still saw," I muttered. A wave of embarrassment washed over me. They must have thought I was so strange.

"No, Maddie, it was only fifteen minutes. Less than half of what it was on Friday. You're doing really really well. I'm proud of you," he said. His emerald eyes glistened with pride and sincerity.

Warmth flooded my veins and my heart felt so much lighter, like a balloon rising higher and higher. I loved Luke's optimism, even though I occasionally doubted it. And hearing the pride in his voice felt like a warm fuzzy blanket cocooning me in comfort and happiness.

Maybe I really was doing a bit better, just a little bit better.

Suddenly aware I was blushing like a burning flame, I averted my gaze. "I don't think it was me. If I was on my own I don't think I ever would have, you know, woken up."

What I didn't add was that Xander stroking my hand was probably the only reason I snapped out of my flashback. Embarrassing, I know. I guess that memory from childhood was so engrained in my mind that I became reliant on it. On Xander.

Luke shook his head, his eyes a gentle green. "You don't give yourself enough credit, Sunshine." His lips curled into a warm smile. "Besides, you won't ever be alone."

Don't need to tell me that.

For anyone's assurance, if they were wondering, Luke apologised profusely for not telling me that Joe was spying on me. Although I never really blamed him solely, I didn't tell him that. I gladly accepted the offer of a free Krispy Kreme doughnut the next time we were out, especially with all the Christmas flavours.

Xander, however. Xander was a whole different and very complicated story. I caught him looking at me on my way downstairs when I passed him. He didn't say a word and he certainly didn't apologise, not unless he mumbled it under his breath childishly. I doubt he did even that. In return, I stared back at him also silently. I definitely wouldn't offer him my forgiveness, I decided. In fact, I wouldn't offer him a word.

Until he apologised, I wasn't going to speak to him.

Call me petty, but if I was going to allow them to openly use Joe to spy on me the least I could expect was an apology from all of them. A sincere one. Only then I would I forgive them, Especially Xander considering he was the one that shouted at me for eavesdropping.

To be clear, forgiveness isn't trust.

My trust for them vanished into thin air instantly, like a rabbit from a magic hat, the second I heard Joe reporting back to Xander. A small shiver shook me at the memory from just earlier today. It still felt like an iron fist closing around my heart when I recalled that. No, my trust would take months to build back.

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