"Okay," she said, nodding. "Thank you. I'm sorry. Again." As she retreated, she waved a hand at him, fingers visibly trembling. "I'm very sorry." She should have left. She should have told him that she was feeling sick - not a lie - and needed to go lay down. But her mind was consuming itself, and it wouldn't rest.
As she walked through the guest bedroom, she paused at the door to the bathroom before her gaze fell to the rest of the hallway. That itching under her scalp that she often got when something was wrong had come back, and it was enough to make her claw her hair out. Of course it was madness, thinking that Xavier had anything to do with this. He was just a business partner.
But wasn't that what the Count had been to Fernand, essentially?
She hadn't read the book in well over a decade, but this whole thing felt strange. Fingers ghosting over the bathroom door, she finally pulled away and crept to the end of the hall. She just needed to see something - anything - to prove to herself that this was nonsense. A few family photos, maybe, or a diary with entries from ten years ago. Just something to put her mind at ease.
She pushed the bedroom door open and walked inside softly, peering about. Some part of her felt guilty for invading his privacy like this, but she pushed the thoughts away. After all, she had to have proof of she wouldn't sleep that night. Not after seeing what he did with that cigarette. All she needed was a scrap of something proving Xavier's existence before all this and she'd be happy. Everything would be fine.
Holding her breath as if letting it out would alert him to her snooping, she crept towards the bed, making a beeline for the night stand. Just as she was about to start looking in drawers, a book on the bed caught her eye. Turning, she looked down at its pages, covered in tiny black text. It was open on its spine, and she carefully picked up the cover to examine the title.
She almost screamed.
The Count of Monte Cristo was written across the cover in clear, thick script. Her heart began to race, her breaths coming in and out in slow hiccups. No. This didn't make sense. This couldn't make sense. She wanted to turn her back on this and ignore it. She wanted to just say she felt sick and leave. But she had to know. She had opened up this can of worms, and now she had to chase all those bastards down and cram them back inside.
Picking up the book in shaking hands, she walked slowly down the hallway. As she emerged from the guest bedroom, her face was white as a sheet. Wide eyes fell on Xavier as she held out the book, front cover facing him.
"Why was this open on your bed, Xavier?" she whispered.