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Chapter 10, Dr. Clay (Cult of Eros #1, Ongoing Update)

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Here’s chapter 10 of the new book, Dr. Clay, I’ve been writing since NaNoWriMo 2022. Enjoy reading. Let me know your thoughts in the comment section below.

After Valon dismissed the class, he went back to the faculty office to meet with fellow professors and suddenly was in a conversation about the artist’s recent controversial work. As he walked into his cubicle, which separated each instructor to keep them distracted, he overheard the women with their loud conversations filling the room.

Though it seemed normal to him, something unusual caught his eye. Most women in groups stood, chuckling and flushing as they continued chatting with their large tumblers in hand. Since it was lunchtime, it looked like they were heading to the nearby coffee shop to hang out and have a break, which was their usual routine.

When he sat and tried to ignore them talking about something, they mentioned something that caught his ear. He couldn’t help but peek, leaning his head sideways to see who they were.

“Did you notice that guy, too?”

“Yeah. Damn, he looked so hot.”

“Yes, I agree with you. He did look so phenomenal, though he was wearing the most boring clothes on the planet.”

“Hey, who do you think looks better? Sir Val or that Mr. Hottie?”

“Yeah, Sir Val also looked damn attractive, though he looked shabby sometimes.”

“I agree with you, too. If Sir Val could look as neat as Mr. Hottie, he would look marvelous. Because God, he has the face, and he might even look taller than him! But with Sir Val looking like that, it’s impossible to like him.”

When Valon heard her mentioning his name, being described like that, he couldn’t help but roll his eyes and scoff as he shook his head, pulling himself away from the conversation. Then, as he began arranging his stuff on his desk, he wondered why everybody around him, especially the women, suddenly became louder. As a concerned department head, Valon wanted to hush them, but when he stood, his towering height gave him the privilege of seeing the person walking in.

His eyes widened in shock when he saw Clay entering the department office. At that moment, his eyebrow knitted as if he couldn’t believe that such a hottie would want to be in his shabby and cramped office. Since it was just weeks after the art exhibition, everybody complained about the clean up, so Valon reconsidered their request to extend the deadline, resulting in the mess Clay saw. Everyone froze as he walked in, and they were in awe of watching an attractive man enter. In their minds, he was the subject of their gossip without knowing they would see the same goddamn hottie in real-time. They weren’t prepared for it.

Let alone Valon.

To his surprise, Clay challenged his belief that doctors were mysophobic as he looked unbothered with the chaos and continued walking in until he reached the desk in front of him. Then, he leaned forward and approached the student assistant’s desk, asking questions. “I’m looking for Valon De Lara, your department head.”

In frantic, with her eyes widened and her face flushed, she stood and raised her arm, pointing her hand in Valon’s cubicle. “Just straight ahead, sir,” she said with a smile.

Clay smiled and nodded as he went to the department head’s place, passing everybody. His height and attractive face were enough to shove anybody in the way. Without everyone’s suspicion, in Clay’s mind, his eyes glowed when he saw Valon standing behind his desk. So, he kept walking in strides until he reached Valon before he flashed a shy smile.

When Clay stood before him, Valon smiled. “I’m glad to see you again, Clay,” he said before his smile faded when he saw bruises on Clay’s face. “Jesus! What happened to you?”

“Nothing. Got me into a fight last night,” Clay said, gulping while pressing his injury.

Knowing where the conversation was heading, Valon clucked and sighed and then raised his arm with his hand extended, pointing somewhere else. “Let’s talk in the meeting room. Follow me,” he said.

As he walked out first, Clay grabbed his hand, and when he saw Valon turn, they both glanced at their hands entwined. So, Clay, feeling embarrassed, pulled his hand away, almost yanking it. “Don’t worry. I won’t stay long because I know you’re busy, too.”

Valon shook his head. “There’s something I want to talk to you about. Maybe you’d be interested.”

“What is it?”

“This isn’t the right place to discuss this. So, please follow me,” he said as he walked out. Though Clay wanted to express his dissatisfaction, he had no choice but to follow, tailing Valon’s trail. As he walked in, Valon gestured again, asking him to come in first before he closed the door. However, with the door remaining ajar, Valon overhead some of his colleagues saying odd things.

“Fuck, two hot, good-looking men alone in that room?”

“What do you think they’re talking about?”

“Do you think Sir Val locked the door?”

“What do you think they’re doing inside?”

“I’m not sure, but damn, watching them entering the meeting room makes me wet.”

“Oh, my God!”

Then, they laughed, and when they realized they were loud, they were quick to muzzle their mouths with their hands and head back to their cubicles, doing their business.

When Valon felt more reassured about everyone’s emotional temperature, he closed the door and locked it with confidence. However, as he was about to let go of the knob, he suddenly found himself thinking about why he was feeling like that in the first place. After he walked in small steps closer to Clay, he gestured.

“Take a seat,” he said, watching the doctor grabbing an empty seat. As he sat, Valon leaned forward, almost pressing his chest towards the table. “So, what brings you here, Clay?”

“You know you don’t have to bring me here.”

“It took you a few minutes walking from the hospital to reach here. Don’t tell me you came here for a quickie.”

“Excuse me?”

Valon chuckled. “Sorry for the wrong term. I mean, you understand what I’m trying to say.”

“I just want to thank you for inviting me to the art exhibition.”

“That’s all?” Valon asked while arching an eyebrow.

“Yeah. That’s all there is to it. Why? Wasn’t that how you crashed at my clinic weeks ago?” Clay said in an annoyed tone.

Valon scoffed. “Well, you have my phone number. You could have just called me for this.”

“Why haven’t you done the same thing before you walked in there as if I was expecting you?”

“You’re right. I was expecting to see you that day. That’s why I went there in the first place.”

But why? At that moment, Clay froze as he looked away, directing his attention on his threaded fingers on the table. But then, he felt his chest swell with shock when he heard Valon’s follow-up, which he was unprepared to hear.

“By the way, I’ll be out for the whole Christmas break and go somewhere. If you’re here just for a simple thank you, you might want to write an outline of things you’d like to discuss. So, none of us would be bothered after we’re done talking here.”

Clay checked his wristwatch before he moved his attention to Valon. “You’ll leave somewhere?”

Valon nodded. “Yeah, tonight,” he said confidently as he crossed his legs and pressed his threaded fingers on his knees. Then, he leaned against the back of his chair, observing Clay feeling somehow disturbed. “Why? Is something wrong? Do you have something else to talk about?” Valon asked with concern.

“Where are you going?” Clay said, almost stuttering, and pressed his lips to ease himself.

Valon flicked his head up the ceiling, humming, while he organized his thoughts to answer Clay’s question. After learning about his earlier mishaps, he understood how this doctor would react if he wouldn’t watch what he was saying. As stoic doctors were, they have feelings, too. So, Clay wouldn’t appreciate his bluff, and he has no choice but to be comfortable with the truth. “I’ll be visiting the province tonight because I have to visit my dad in his villa. Since it has been a hell of a year, I thought it’s best to spend my entire Christmas break there and relax before the next school year comes in.”

Convinced, Clay nodded, looking dissatisfied even though he was in utter chaos, unable to organize his thoughts about why he was there in the first place. But then, when he saw Valon checking the wall clock, he was suddenly in a rush for something. As much as he wanted to open his mouth and explain more, he was defeated when he saw Valon standing up. “Great, that’s a great plan. I think you should do it. Yeah, you should go.”

“Yeah, I guess I should,” he said, pushing the seat, and sat back towards the table and saw Clay doing the same. But he stopped and looked at him when they both walked baby steps away. “There’s one thing I’d like to ask you, though.”

“What?” Clay said, facing him.

Valon looked at him, tilting his head as if he was studying Clay’s face. As he walked a few steps closer to Clay, facing the closed door, he pressed his hand on Clay’s shoulder, which startled the doctor. Then, he turned his head, flicking down, to reach Clay’s ears. “Did I do something that upset you again?” he said as he pulled away when he saw Clay staring at him, resulting in their unexpected exchange of gazes.

“No, not in the least. Do I look like I’m angry at you?” Clay shook his head.

“Is something bothering you?”

“Somehow. Maybe, I don’t know. Why?”

“Why do you look at me like that?” Valon said, landing a piercing, curious stare at him.

“I don’t know. How am I looking at you?”

“You look desperate.” Then, he let out an awkward laugh when he noticed Clay jolting, dismissing what just happened, and continued, “Well, if you like, you can join me on this trip. I guess it will be fun.”

“But—”

“Come on, don’t worry. I promise you’ll be fine. It would be great if you would meet my dad, too.”

“I’d meet your dad?” Clay paused to let out an awkward laugh, “Why would you want me to meet your dad?”

“Why not? We’re colleagues. Friends who share the same interests. What’s wrong with that?”

Clay shook his head. “Nothing. It’s just—” he halted when he saw Valon approaching him, draping his arm around his shoulders, and guiding him back to the door. When they stood near it, he found himself at an uncomfortable place where Valon caught him with his paralyzing stare.

“Listen to me,” he paused as he allowed his eyes to crawl every inch of Clay’s face, relishing this brief yet private moment with him, “I bet you’ve been dying to give yourself a break,” Valon said, pulling away and tucking his hand in the pants pocket, and walked out of the room.

But when he turned his head and saw he was alone, he noticed Clay wasn’t beside or behind him. So, he walked back to check, and before he could call his attention, his eyes began to fill with worries, as if he felt bad watching the scene. He sighed after he saw Clay lowering his guard down—still looking teary-eyed and exhausted. Delete Created with Sketch.

After they headed outside, Valon kept glancing at Clay, who kept frowning until now. Feeling concerned, he wanted to ask what was wrong. But before he could do it, Clay interrupted.

“How about a cup of coffee?” Clay said, which made Valon smile. However, that same smile faded when he noticed something about Clay as they continued walking until they reached the nearby soccer field.

Since it was late in the afternoon, the skies weren’t that dark, so they could still see the students playing on the grounds and some sitting on the kiosks and cemented benches underneath the massive trees surrounding the field. But then, he jolted as soon as he saw two male students kissing not far away from where most of the students were. While he was watching them, he felt cold sweat covering his body.

“Sure. Your treat?” Valon turned and looked at him with keen eyes. He pressed his lips when he sensed something that must have bothered the doctor. “Are you okay?” he said and flicked his head in the same direction Clay was looking. When he did, he saw what Clay saw at that moment, which puzzled him.

Clay nodded as he looked in the opposite direction, moving his sight to the students playing on the field and tucking his hands in his pockets. “Yeah, I’m alright,” he said, facing down, feeling embarrassed for what he did.

“You know, it’s okay not to be okay.”

Valon’s blunt remark stunned Clay, which made him pause and look away as if he wasn’t expecting to hear something from anybody like that. And to hear it from Valon’s mouth with his baritone and concerned voice was the least Clay would have imagined after barely surviving a troubling night with Elizabeth. While in deep thought, he felt more choked as his throat constricted, trying to save his face from crying in tears in front of a man. However, the more he thought about Valon’s line, he was lost over the tears welling around his eyes.

Thinking he was fine, he looked at Valon, only to be in awe of what he saw in him. Unlike Elizabeth’s, his eyes weren’t full of dissent and disgust; but instead demanded to come and lean onto him. The way Valon looked at him made him feel accepted, which was odd to experience from a man. Then, he asked himself why he couldn’t get the same feeling from Liz.

As they exchanged gazes, when Clay couldn’t hold it anymore, tears streamed down, damping his face. Then, as he realized what he was doing, he flicked his head and looked away, removing his eyeglasses and wiping his tears. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to—”

“It’s okay. Just go on. I won’t mind. It’s best to cry it out than to hold it in.”

“Thank you.” These were the last two words Clay had said, while Valon decided to remain his mouth shut, patiently waiting until Clay felt more comfortable to talk again. So, he kept following Clay’s trail beside him until they stopped nearby the university chapel. Clay looked at Valon as they stood there before moving his attention to the chapel. “Do you think God would love someone like me?”

Valon scoffed and shook his head as if he couldn’t believe what he had heard. “Why wouldn’t he? Of course, he does. Whatever you want to call him, Allah, Jehovah, Yahweh, Jesus, or God, doesn’t matter. Because what matters in his eyes, you’re his, and your body is supposed to be a temple of your soul. So, it’s up to you to live or die spiritually.”

“How you come you speak like that? Have you been into the priesthood?”

“No. I’m spiritual but not religious. I prefer understanding my spirituality and the world around me without having religion or any institution holding me back from living the best life I know I’m born for.”

“You’re an amazing person, Val.”

“Am I? Maybe? I look like a hippie, but do I sound too idealistic?” Valon said, blushing.

“You do. I could say so.” Clay smiled.

Valon chuckled. “But you’re quite an amazing person, too, Clay!”

“Why do you say so?”

“Seriously? Come on. Stop downplaying yourself. I saw you got a diploma from a great university locally and internationally, graduated with flying colors, and have saved more lives than your hands could count,” Valon said, which made Clay pause and look at him, explaining comforting words he couldn’t even speak to himself.

As he continued watching Valon talking, he found himself admiring the man more than he could be annoyed, though they met interestingly. But as he got to his senses, Valon asked Clay, leaving him unprepared, and he was suddenly frantic to catch up.

“Why would you feel so down when you shouldn’t be, Clay? You have experienced a life with the level of privilege other people couldn’t have.”

“I know I have achieved so much at my young age. As a doctor, I vowed to be of service with God’s blessing of having a gift to heal and cure. Yet, given the number of years working in this field, no matter how many lives I have saved, I feel sad that I couldn’t even save myself,” Clay said as he stared into the distance, watching the students having fun kicking the ball and screaming.

Valon wouldn’t stop glancing at the doctor in silence. Though concerned, he tried resisting the urge to meddle. Because he knew his place, who was he in Clay’s life in the first place? When did he start wanting to become part of something like that? Instead of wanting to be a knight in shining armor, all he could do was give Clay the space he needed so much.

“When things are tough, wanting to get away from it for a short time helps you think about things better and wiser,” he said after seeing Clay at ease.

“Wouldn’t that mean changing your plans?”

“It isn’t selfish to want to take a break sometimes. Besides, who cares? It’s Christmas!”

“You were supposed to go there and visit your dad alone.”

Valon clucked and sighed, pressing his hand on Clay’s shoulder, thinking it would help ease his friend. “He won’t mind you being there. He would like to see me bringing friends there to have fun. So, do you want to come with me?”

“But I still have to go home and bring clothes if I stay that long. And I still have to—”

“Don’t worry. I’ll come with you.”

“Wait? What? No way, I mean—”

“How about a cup of coffee at home and waiting until you’re ready? I don’t mind waiting for you. Just take your time. Anyway, we’ll drive together from there.”

“Together?”

“Yeah, you and I in my truck.”

“Would that work?” Clay asked. How about going back?

“Yeah. No problem, Clay,” Valon said with confidence and nodded, flashing a broader smile. “So, you go first, and I’ll follow behind you. Alright?”

Clay nodded without saying a word as they strolled, heading to the employees’ parking lot. Then, they went on in opposite directions to reach their respective vehicles.


Author’s Note:

Thank you so much for spending time reading this chapter. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did when I wrote this part three months ago. This chapter, in particular, reminded me of those times when I sat before my desk, seemingly prepared to type in words, but I struggled to keep it up.

It took an external motivation to get it through, and, at that time, the NaNoWriMo event was upcoming. At that time, I thought, “This could be a great opportunity to try and give this a shot one more time. You’d done an excellent job with ‘The Rival,’ so you could do it, Mecyll.”

You know, it’s easier said than done because writing a chapter with a clear intent to finish it requires more than just a skill. Since I started writing fiction, I realized how much this work demands my ability to be naked and the guarantees to answer whether I was mentally, emotionally, and spiritually prepared to face my fears, conscious or unconscious.

So, being able to write this down meant I managed despite the countless times dancing around with depression and enjoying the roller coaster rides my anxiety provided me.

This is why I don’t know how I could thank you for your support, regardless of the scale or contribution size, from sharing my work with others or buying my books. It doesn’t matter because, for me, every small act you show is appreciated.

Again, thank you, and have a great day!

If you like to support my writing life, here’s what you can do:

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