Throughout dinner, Talia's eyes would find their way to where Alex sat. His side view was beautiful. He was graceful when he ate and every now and then when his grandparents said something funny he would chuckle. A warm glint would appear in his amber eyes and every time Talia saw it, she would smile.
When she was younger, she always looked forward to dinner at the Zi mansion. Her parents were good friends with the Zi family and they were invited to dinner every week. She had loved coming over because she got to play with Alex out of school. They usually run around the mansion playing tag cheerfully.
Talia sighed inside as she admired his hands. They were large, muscular and a few of his fingers had pen marks he probably got while working. 'I will continue working hard for you Alex.' She reassured herself and proceeded to finish the delicious dinner before her.
When dinner was done, she noticed that Alex seemed to be in a hurry to leave. She quickly tagged along with him and explained that she had not asked her driver to come to get her since she wanted to speak with him.
"Can we pass by our elementary school on the way, if I remember it's close by."
"Talia, I'm actually in a hurry tonight," Alex replied indifferently.
"Don't worry it will be quick. I haven't seen the place in forever. Why don't we stop there to chat, hmm?" She protested.
Alex remained quiet but still drove toward the school.
When they arrived, they couldn't get into the compound, so they sat in the park across the school.
"Do you remember the day I fell off the monkey bars when we were nine? I thought I could hang on, but Lucio pushed me, and I hurt my arm. That day you punched Lucio and said, 'I'm the only one who can bully Talia, idiot!' You carried me to the nurse's office. You got in trouble with the teacher afterward. I felt really happy when you protected me…"
Alex sat on the swing quietly listening. Although he had no idea where Talia intended to go bringing up the past, he decided to listen. Since she had asked him to chat she must have something important to say. He wanted to get back to his condo, but he sat there listening to her because even though they were older now, he would still help her if she needed his help. That's what brothers do for their sisters.
"…that wasn't the only time Alex. You always protected me and that made me happy; so thank you, Alex...for always protecting me. Now that I'm older and understand, I am ashamed for not sincerely saying thanks when we were young."
"It's okay. You are like a sister to me and as a big brother, I had to. Grandpa had also asked me to look after you like a little sister. So, don't worry you don't owe me anything." Alex said as he stood up. He patted Talia on her shoulder and walked back to the car.
"W…wait I…I love you! Not like a sister or a friend, I've always loved you Alex. I studied overseas, worked hard and became stronger, to be able to tell you that I have loved you since the first day you protected me from the bullies in school…"
Her heart pounded against her chest as she waited for him to say something. She was excited and nervous at the same time. In the end, she really did tell him how she felt.
Alex was quiet for a while. She had taken him by surprise and had no idea what he was thinking. He stood with his back to her, saying nothing. Noticing his reaction Talia let go of his hand and walked around to face him.
"I love you, Alex." She looked up to meet his amber eyes. She couldn't read anything from them.
'Did he not hear me?' Talia wondered.
He had been standing there, not saying anything and it made her even more nervous.
"I had no idea you felt that way Talia, I'm sorry. If I ever made you misunderstand me when we were nine, it was not my intention. You're like a sister to me, and I never once thought of you that way. Let me take you back." He spoke before she could open her mouth to call his name.
Talia's face grew pale and a shiver run down her spine. Alex walked to the car and opened the door for her. A teardrop slowly made its way down to her chin but when Alex called her name she quickly wiped it then turned to walk back into the car. Before she got in she asked him, "Is there something wrong with me?"
"No, nothing is wrong with you. I'm obsessing over this little thing right now."
She seemed confused. She had no idea what he meant, "Huh, a little thing? Does it have to do with work?"
Alex had no idea he had said that out loud. He cleared his throat and lied saying, "Yes something like that…"
'She's a piece of work alright', he smiled inside thinking about Zunnie.
He drove a heartbroken Talia to her apartment, then went home.
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