December 5, 2023


🌺 Chapter 16🌺

The moment I step into Max’s bedroom, my eyes scan the surrounding. I see his king-sized bed, bookshelves hung on the wall and his desk placed at the corner of the room. His bedroom is simple and quite neat for a boy’s room.

There’s a glass door leading to a balcony, and I remember that Max once told me he liked to watch the moon at night from there.

“Do you mind waiting for a while?” Max asks, placing the cookies box on his desk.

“I need to take a shower first.”

I nod, and Max walks off to his bathroom.
While waiting for him, I scan the bookshelves, which store books about academic subjects, business strategy, history and athletes’ biographies. I also spot a couple of books about the oil and gas industry — that’s understandable, since his parents came from that background.

Sighing, I notice that there isn’t any novel at all. But then I chuckle, knowing that I can’t imagine Max reading romance novels.

The photo frames standing on the cabinet catch my attention. Some of them are of Max’s former football team in Australia.

A smile touches my lips as my fingers graze a photo of his family — the four of them posing in front of what seemed to be a concert hall in Europe. Vienna, perhaps.
They were wearing winter coats, his Dad hugging his Mom while Max himself made silly poses with Sienna. They all beamed with happiness.

Seeing this picture makes me figure out that they’re fond of classical concerts. I’ve spotted a white grand piano back there in their living room. Somehow, I feel happy that I might be able to talk about music with them.

The next picture is also of four of them, but at the beach — maybe it’s in Australia. Heat travels to my cheeks, because Max was shirtless in this photo, only wearing board shorts.

Immediately, I look around the room. I can still hear the sound of water from the bathroom — Max is still taking a shower. It would be embarrassing if he caught me checking out his shirtless photo like this.

Well, I didn’t take a good look when he was shirtless earlier downstairs. But based on that quick observation, I liked what I saw.

No, I think that my eyes liked what they saw, I correct.

I bring the photo frame closer to my face, my eyes zooming on his broad shoulders and perfectly toned abs. What’s even better is that he looked more tanned in this photo — I can’t take my eyes off it.
Those abs look amazing — I wonder what it would feel like to run my fingers on it.
Oh, no. What am I thinking?

“What are you looking at?”
Max’s voice snaps me out of my daze, making me yelp as I abruptly turn around, dropping the photo onto his desk that the clattering sound echoes in the room.My eyes widen as I come face to face with the real Max Cooper. The real shirtless Max…again.

Like before, he’s only wearing his joggers. Now that I’m only a few inches away from his body, I can clearly see every curve of his abs — they look hard as hell.

A few water droplets remain on his messy hair and chest. I know that he just got out of the shower, but…
$h|t .

Hold on, did I curse just now?
Max glances at the abandoned photo frame on his desk before shifting his attention back to me. A small smirk touches the corner of his lips as he studies me up close.

It’s not fair. That smirk and those piercing stare are a deadly combination. Somebody, please help me.

“What were you doing?”

I swallow. “Nothing.”

Max takes one step closer to me, and I automatically retreat. He raises one of his eyebrows. “Really?”

I nod. “Yeah.” My voice sounds like I’m out of breath. That’s not good.

Max steps forward again, and I’m now cornered against his bed. He locks his eyes with mine, and I’m hypnotized, pushed backward that I fall onto the mattress.

My heart thuds loudly as he towers me, his face leaning closer with every second passing by. I can feel the heat of his body, and when a drop of water from his neck falls onto my lips, he shifts his gaze from my eyes to my lips.

Even the water tastes like his skin — is that even possible? I watch as the muscles of his neck move when he swallows, and I’m trying so hard not to lick the water on my lips.

We’re too lost in each other that the footsteps coming from the hallway seem far away when they’re definitely not. When the person almost arrives in the doorway, it’s already too late.

“Max, Mom and Dad told me that Luna might want to have lunch first before finishing the homework. The food is almost ready, and we can’t let her starve–” the sentence stops short, while both Max and I snap our heads toward the source of the voice.

My eyes widen in surprise as I see Sienna standing at the door, watching us in this awkward position.

“Right.” She gulps. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have come. I didn’t know that you guys were…” She squeezes her eyes shut in frustration before a sigh leaves her lips.

“Jesus, Max. You should have locked the door at least.”

The second Sienna turns around to escape, I get off from the bed, knocking Max out of the way. “Wait–”

Sienna keeps walking along the corridor as I rush to her.

“Wait. It’s not what you think.” I P@Ε‹t, and I’m sure that my face is red as a boiled crab now. I’m so embarrassed.

Slowly, Sienna turns around to face me, guilt crossing her expression. “It’s okay. I didn’t see anything. Please, just continue what you guys were about to do.”

Her eyes fall shut again as she curses at herself.

“God, my eyes.” She buries her face in her hands before snapping her body around to continue walking.

My mouth hangs open as I watch Sienna stepping down the stairs. Max appears beside me, and I snap my head toward him, panic bursting inside me.

“What should we do?” I demand, my voice filled with worry. “She has the wrong idea. We should explain to her. She thought we were about to do something unholy.”

“Do what?” Max deadpans, but he can’t hide the amusement in his eyes.

“Unholy?” He raises his eyebrows, stepping closer to me that my back is now pushed against the wall.

“Enlighten me.”I swallow as his face draws closer to mine, his arm now pushing against the wall beside me. God, this is happening again. Max, however, looks like he’s enjoying my reaction.

“I need to go to the washroom,” I blurt out. Sadly, that’s the only thing I have in mind to escape this awkward situation — I need to get my sanity back.

“There’s one behind the door next to the stairs,” Max says without taking his eyes off my face, and that makes me more embarrassed because I know that it hasn’t changed color. Red.

I push him off and totter toward the washroom. When I glance back, I see him watching me with an intense gaze, a small smile touching his lips, his arms crossed on his chest as he leans back against the wall.

Turning the knob to open the door, I keep telling my heart to stop racing. I close the door behind me with a loud thud before leaning back against it, burying my face in my hands.

What happened just now?

To tell that I’m embarrassed from being caught in that position by his sister is an understatement of the century. The wrong assumption will be stuck in Sienna’s head forever.

I shake my head in denial, wishing I could disappear from planet Earth.

But Max acts like nothing happened. How could he?

Oh, God. Isn’t this something that you should tell your girlfriends about? To ask their advice about how you should react?
But I have none.

I can’t ask Mom either, because that would be too embarrassing.

How am I going to survive this world?
I guess that you have me, Luna , my devilish heart whispers to me. I squeeze my eyes shut as I feel the tiny version of me, with devil horns and wings and fangs, frantically whispering unholy things in my ears.

She roars with laughter. God, I feel so stupid.

When Max and I arrive in the living room again, Sienna has already settled on the couch, watching TV. I can’t read her expression, but it seems like she’s trying to be oblivious about her surrounding.

She has said that lunch is almost ready, so I decide to just help Melanie preparing whatever still needs to be done in the kitchen. Before I can step into it, I hear her laughing with Vaughn, and I stop in my track.

“I wouldn’t go there if I were you,” Max says. “Unless you want to witness some PDA. Don’t worry, they make it PG13 around us.”

I can’t help but chuckle. “I feel you. My Mom and Dad are like that too.”

“It’s fine until it starts to become gross.” Max rolls his eyes.

I shake my head in disbelief, biting back my smile. Sighing, I decide to leave the kitchen area, and my eyes dart on the grand piano in the living room.

“Do you want to play it?” Max asks.

“Can I?” I look for his approval, but instead of answering, he leads me straight to the piano.

The moment I stand next to it, my finger touches the key, and that’s when I hear Sienna squeals. She rushes to us, her footsteps pounding on the ground, her face beaming with excitement.

“Can you play the piano?” she asks with so much anticipation in her voice, leaning against the opened lid as she watches me with interest.

“Please, I want to hear you play so badly. You can play any piece you want.”

“Okay.” I settle myself on the piano bench and begin to play a Nocturne.

It’s always refreshing to play with a different piano in a different place and atmosphere, because the sound produced would be different too. This piano is lovely.

Once I finish the classical piece, Sienna claps. “That’s wonderful — I feel like I’m listening in heaven.”

I let out small laughter, feeling that she’s exaggerating.

“Is that your favorite piece of Chopin?” Sienna asks.

“Yes, you’re right.” I beam. I always love playing Chopin’s Nocturnes. All of them give a peaceful and calming effect on me whenever I play them — aside from Debussy’s works, because he’s my favorite too.

“Just like my Mom. She loves him too.” Sienna smiles, and my curiosity kicks in.
So Melanie indeed plays the piano, and I’m guessing that Sienna plays it too. I don’t think that Max plays — I’ve figured out his interests when we were working on the biography project for our English assignment.

“I love his Etudes more, though.” Sienna grins, and I knowingly step aside so that she can sit on the piano bench. Soon, she plays a fast Etude, and I gape in amazement.

While I’m more of a Nocturne person, Sienna loves the Etudes. I can see a bit of her personality here. She’s like a fire — wild, free-spirited.

“Do you like Beethoven too?” Sienna asks once she finishes playing, which leaves me starstruck. She plays really well, like a professional.

“Yes, I do like him too. Please don’t stop playing,” I blurt out — I think that I can watch her play for hours. My heart jumps in delight when Sienna starts to play the third movement of Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata.

Again, it’s a fast piece, and I watch in awe how her fingers move so quickly and accurately while still playing the music with a passion. God, this girl is a prodigy.
She stands up from the piano bench after she plays the last note, gesturing for me to take a seat again.

I smile before blowing a sigh. “I think that I’m just going to play the second movement, since the first one is too depressing for now.” A soft chuckle escapes from my lips.

Soon, I begin playing Moonlight Sonata too, not the famous first movement that’s filled with mystery and sadness, and not the wild third movement that Sienna played just now.

This second part of Moonlight Sonata is joyful, just like what I’m feeling now.
Being welcomed into this house by such an amazingly kind family has made my heart feel warm and happy.

Feeling someone’s eye on my face the entire time, I glance at Max, only to find him watching me with adoration in his eyes. He lays his head on his arms against the edge of the piano, gazing at me.

And I feel Ɓα»₯Ε₯Ε₯erflies going crazy inside my tummy.


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