Here’s chapter 13 of the new book, “Dangerous Roommate.” Enjoy reading. Let me know your thoughts about this chapter in the comment section below.
Without Stefan around, Frank decided to start unpacking things from cartons and clean up his room. It would be best to do it without that idiot around. And even if he would return soon, at least he was finished. Feeling more determined than ever, he began his work, bringing the smaller cartons first upstairs. One by one.
After the last carton, he already struggled to catch his breath, looking hammered. But despite the increasing exhaustion, he went on until the last airtight sealed box remained. Unlike the other boxes, it looked bigger and sealed, and for sure, it was heavier. He thought about how he could possibly bring that one up there. No way.
But he had to.
So, he bent down and slid his fingers into the round silver handles. Then, he braced his arms, holding the handles on both sides. Then, he expelled a loud, eager sound from his mouth before he tried pushing himself up. He could feel his veins pop out his neck, his face flushed, but then, he still couldn’t get it up. Damn.
Then, Stefan arrived.
“Cool. You started clearing up,” he announced, marching inside and heading to the kitchen. He took a glass of water while eyeing the struggling man. After downing it, he approached his direction and gestured. “I’ll do.”
Yet, Frank insisted on taking the box away from Stefan, though he struggled to pick it up. “It’s okay. I’ll do it,” he said with confidence though he wasn’t. He tried to pull the box with all his strength, but he was obviously struggling to even lift a centimeter from the ground.
Feeling sorry, Stefan pushed him aside. “I’ll take it.”
“No, I’ll do it.”
“I said I’ll take it,” Stefan said. But this time, his voice was louder and more commanding as he took the box with both hands without waiting for him to speak.
That fascinated him a lot. He hadn’t guessed the man’s power, though he didn’t look bulky and strong in business clothes. Though he wore a tux and looked as though he had escaped a meeting, he still managed to bring the box with ease.
While tailing him, he heard Stefan grunt as he walked inside his bedroom. “Why is it so heavy? What’s inside?” he asked with enthusiasm, but interestingly, his face was kept in RB. But to his surprise, Frank refused to speak and flushed instead, looking away as though it was confidential. Despite his curiosity, he went on. “Where should I place it?”
“In the closet. Below.” Frank gestured and pointed an index finger in that direction.
Stefan bent down and carefully placed the airtight-sealed box inside. Satisfied, he pushed himself up and straightened himself before turning his head to look at the man. “There.” He paused to spare him time to observe, studying his face. “Next time, don’t hesitate to ask me. You don’t have to take everything on your own. We live together here now. So, we better cooperate ‘cause we’re more efficient that way. Do you get me?”
Something in his voice, in the way he spoke, made Frank turn into stone, leaving him nodding in answer. Although he wanted to disagree, insisting on his independence, the truth was his way wouldn’t work at all. And Stefan was right. Again. He shouldn’t just solo everything. Even though he had never enjoyed collaboration, the thought of partnership with this idiot didn’t look bad either.
“I’m sorry,” Stefan said, leaving him even more speechless. The word sorry was the last thing he would hear, knowing how cruel this man was.
“I didn’t mean to… I was just—” he paused, expelling a loud sigh off his chest, and then his voice dropped. “—I know what I said was too much.”
Frank curled his fists until his knuckles grew white, trying to gain enough gut strength to speak back. Though he wanted to keep his mouth shut and remain diplomatic, he couldn’t stop the urge to ask something that had bothered him for a while. “Why?”
“What do you mean why?”
“I don’t know.” He shook his head and shrugged. “I’m not sure, but why do I feel like you need me so much?”
“Is that how you look at it?” Stefan asked nonchalantly, cocking an eyebrow. He planted both hands on his waist and leaned on one leg to support his weight. He tilted his head, unknowingly boring him a piercing look in the eye.
As soon as he caught his stare, Frank swallowed, trying to keep his composure intact. Though there was nothing wrong with what he said, his eyes told a different story, as if they were guns pointed at his chest. His eyebrows furrowed as his eyes narrowed in wonder. “Yeah?” He stuttered.
“We need each other. That’s how I look at it,” Stefan said.
That left him even more confused. “How could you say so?”
“As you said, I’m not an artist. I’m an art dealer. You take care of the creative side of things. I do the business.”
“Why all of a sudden—”
“I’ve already made enough enemies, Frank. I don’t need to add another one.”
“And you’re saying you want to be friends with me?”
Stefan suddenly looked away and tucked both hands inside his pockets. “Kinda.”
At that moment, it was the first time Frank realized the loneliness of this man. From how he sounded, it was sincere enough for him to believe it was true. It surprised him. He didn’t expect to see this side of him—being human.
And then, Stefan extended his right hand. “Friends?” he asked with severely arched eyebrows.
He had no other choice, Stefan thought. He had no other options left to keep him in his hands. After he had met Madam, there was no other way to keep his promise except this. Even though he hadn’t thought of friendship before, he thought it would be a great idea, too. If it would be enough of a reason for him to stay, why not?
In his mind, he was reminding himself not to lose this chance and regret the delay anymore. He’d rather be careful than regret the time he’d lost due to bitter arguments. Madam called it wasting his God-given time. But he called it a learning curve. Whatever you’d call it, the point was being more cautious—more cautious than he’d ever been in his line of work.
But that story immediately vanished when Frank nodded and took his hand. It was soft, warm, and surprisingly moisturized. Compared to his calloused and dry skin, it was rather damped. Though his grip was manly, he couldn’t stop watching how well-manicured his nails were. Unlike his thick fingers, his was thin and long, as if it were a woman’s hand.
With these considered, Stefan had been right about his judgment. Frank was a quiet but ambitious man who knew how to take care of himself. Though being feminine was the first thing he noticed, he couldn’t deny how manly he was from the strength of his grip and his imposing discreet energy from this distance. A lamb on the outside but a lion inside.
Yet, in hindsight, he knew there was something else. And he kind of knew it when his eyes were caught in his gaze. He thought there was no way his body would tell him something if there was none. But the problem was having no clear answers to why he was feeling these tingles blanketing him from head to toe. Warmth suddenly sprouted out of nowhere. Sensations everywhere. Despite feeling queasy, he managed to keep his face even when Frank released his hand. But even after he had let go, his eyes couldn’t, tailing his hand until it moved to the closet handle.
While he watched him talk and hang his clothes piece by piece, glancing at him, he wondered why his heart pounded, hammering him with loud, triple beats. He felt like the time slowed, and none of his words came through his ears. His eyes narrowed, creasing his forehead. In his methodical mind, this didn’t make sense to him. But still, he couldn’t stop staring at him. And it had gotten worse, unknowingly gazing at him. His eyes meandered over his face, tracing his facial features, the contour, everything.
Before he could move them down to his neck, he heard Frank’s voice come through.
“Stefan?” he asked in his soft voice.
Startled, Stefan flicked his head as he snapped back to his senses, seemingly unbothered, though he could hear taiko drums playing inside his rib cage. “Yes, I’m listening.”
“Really?” Frank asked in an edgy voice, in a faint tremor on his face and in the subtle quickening of his breath.
He nodded. “I’m listening,” he repeated, not because he wanted him to understand what he said but for reassurance. Thankfully, Frank looked convinced and went on to hang his clothes in the closet.
Desperate for any sort of distraction, he moved his attention to the other areas in the room, checking if there was something left to do. When there was none, his eyes landed on him again, only to startle when he caught him boring a piercing stare. He didn’t back down, of course. He loved winning in the broadest sense of it, even if it was just Frank’s staring contest.
After a minute of silence, when he finally realized what he was doing, he gulped and sighed to ease. “Don’t worry. We’ll have assigned chores, so you don’t have to do everything alone,” he said with determination. But he wasn’t prepared to see Frank smile, flashing a glow on his face. Though what he said wasn’t a big deal to him, his reaction surprised him a lot.
It wasn’t because he felt at ease knowing he would stay. There was something else that made him feel even more pleased. Despite the effort to rationalize, he only ended up with no definite answer. Perhaps, feeling relieved, he was on track. However, the more he stared at him, he knew there was something more than that as he pictured his first night, remembering what he felt.
“You don’t have to if you don’t like it,” Frank said, interrupting his inner monologue. His eyes widened, wondering what made him say something like that. Though his stubbornness annoyed him, he couldn’t just bluff just as he did before. Otherwise, he would lose him again. He couldn’t afford another chasing a runaway and waste more time.
“I mean what I said. Period,” he said as he walked past him, heading out. Before he left, he turned around, facing him, and gave him another look. “Tomorrow, we’ll start doing that. Okay?” He paused. When he saw him nod, he continued. “Just rest tonight. It’s been a lot for you today.”
“Thank you. Good night,” Frank said with a small smile.
“Good night,” he replied in his usual stoic tone and left.
However, after a few steps away from his room, his feet slowed and then stopped. He turned his head to face Frank’s room. He pulled his right hand he touched up to his chest. Then, his eyes caught his palm, remembering how his hand felt as he slowly curled his fingers until his fist clenched. As he was doing it, his mind screamed no and asked him to stop this out-of-character reaction. This wasn’t him, after all.
Instead, he sighed, reeling that same brief moment with Frank, and found himself flashing a faint smile. But that same smile quickly went all the way, reaching his ears while his eyes became alive. After a while, he moved his attention to where he was going and then dragged himself to his room.
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 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 to 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!
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