Elle and Chris suddenly walked into the room. Elle's laughter rang out and a soft smile was turning up the corner of Christopher's lips, but both of them stopped dead in their tracks as they saw the pair in front of them.
'I had one job.' Chris thought to himself while suppressing a groan. He had successfully accompanied Elle the entire day without incident, who would have thought that after all his trouble to carefully and discretely guard Elle, they would have accidentally run into Adam and Amelia here of all places.
Elle couldn't deny that she was a bit surprised to see Adam and Amelia here. She had thought it had been weird that Adam had been insistent that she go out while he took care of business that he wouldn't specify.
'So he had been trying to take care of this on his own.' Elle realized as she took in the scene before her.
She attempted to gather something from him, to gain a hint of what he was thinking, but Adam's face was impossible to read. He remained unfazed by the interruption. Warily, Elle glanced towards Chris instead.
There the emotion was easy enough to read, though Elle was shocked to see it.
Christopher was looking at Amelia with dark and judgemental eyes. Elle was surprised to see such an emotion from the soft and innocent Chris but after a moment she realized that the rumours were not her problem alone. Of course he would have been upset to have been involved in a rumour. He had every right to be just as angry as Adam had been.
"See." Amelia said, finally breaking the silence. "I was just trying to look out for you. It's not a lie that they are closer than normal friends."
Elle shot her a warning look.
"I'm not saying they did something wrong," Amelia corrected herself, "but it's normal to be a little suspicious isn't it? No one knows Chris that well, isn't it a bit odd to trust he doesn't have feelings for Elle? Even if it is one-sided?"
Elle opened her mouth to argue, but Adam's steady words came out faster.
"I do know Chris well." Adam announced. "And more importantly, I know Elle well. I trust them both."
This time Elle joined Amelia in her blatant shock.
"You know Chris well?" Elle asked incredulously as she looked back and forth between Adam and Chris. She could count on one hand the number of times she even saw them have a conversation.
"You're being awfully quiet." Adam said, looking at Chris with a raised brow. "Are you not going to greet me?"
"Hello...cousin." Chris said respectfully despite his reddening cheeks.
A hush fell over the room. Cousin? It was impossible to tell who was more blatantly shocked between Elle and Amelia.
"Adam is my first cousin." Chris confessed to Elle. "I didn't mean to keep it a secret from you. You and I really did meet by coincidence. At first I didn't know and afterwards we had already become friends. I thought it would be nice to get to know you without you thinking of me only as Adam's cousin."
"There you have it." Adam said, returning his attention to Amelia. "Don't you have something to say for yourself?"
"I didn't know." Amelia said desperately. "I really didn't know. I've known your family for so long and I never knew that you two even knew of each other. To think that you're related...it's absurd."
"He wanted to make a name for himself without the influence of our family." Adam explained, mostly for Elle's sake.
He walked over to Christopher with a softened expression and with one hand he reached out to ruffle Chris's hair. "You've done quite well for yourself."
Maybe it was all nothing more than a part of Adam's show, but it was an intimate motion never the less. Elle looked at Chris with bewilderment. She expected him to be embarrassed, maybe even annoyed, and though there was a mild embarrassment that lined Chris' features and set his face glowing, the emotion that Elle saw clearly written in his face was joy. In his eyes and in his shy smile, Elle could see that he was pleased by his cousin's compliment.
The strong, independent, and reliable Christopher that she knew was gone. He was once again a child in her eyes, happily receiving praise from a person whom he respected.
"I-I'm sorry." Amelia stuttered. "I really didn't know."
"The one you should be apologizing to is Elle, not me."
"I'm sorry." Amelia said again with her head was hung low. Whether her shame was from the realization of the truth or from the disappointment of her plans falling apart was unknown. Elle was only sure that Amelia's plans had indeed fallen apart at the seams.
Adam gauged Amelia for a long moment before the anger finally left his eyes. He let out a tired sigh.
"I've had enough for today." He said. He turned around, took Elle's hand, and led her out of the room, leaving Christopher and Amelia standing together awkwardly.
'So this is it? This is what it feels like to fall to the bottom?' Amelia thought bitterly to herself. She could no longer stand to be in this room. She could no longer stand to feel the piercing gaze of a man who was judging her, or worse, pitying her.
"What are you waiting for? The show's over." Amelia snapped. Chris looked surprised at her sudden remark but he didn't seem offended in the least.
Amelia couldn't bare to be in that room for a moment longer. In a fit of frustration she hurriedly left the room in search of something bitter to wash her disappointment down with.
I hope you're all satisfied with the two latest chapters! I've had a lot of fun writing these final chapters of the arc. I have an exam next week so next week's chapter might be a bit shorter but I think the chapter that will come out the week after that will make up for it.