Chapter 15, Dr. Clay (Cult of Eros #1, Ongoing Update)

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Here’s chapter 15 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.

“Are you coming home?” Valon said with his phone pressed to his ears, talking to Agatha on the line while walking around the room and grabbing his things as he headed to the door, walking out of the bedroom.

“Yes, Kuya. I’m a few streets away from the hotel right now, and I’ll be staying here for the night before I head to the bus terminal to get there.”

“How are you doing?”

“I’m fine,” Agatha paused when she remembered the woman she met at the gym and sighed, shaking her head.

“Are you alright?” Valon said when he sensed distress in her voice.

“Yeah, yeah. I am.” Agatha stuttered as she headed back to her chair and sat, facing the desk where she placed her phone connected to her laptop.

“You don’t sound like. Did something happen?”

“Well, it’s just I bumped into someone and caused a scene,” she said with her head tilted to press the phone to her temples as she continued editing the videos she had arranged.

“Are you okay? Was it bad?”

“No, not really. I tried not to escalate things.”

“Escalate things? What do you mean by that? You can’t be doing that, Agatha.”

“I know I have problems, Kuya. I know. Okay? It’s just I couldn’t help it.”

“Still, you have to if you want to keep doing this job.”

“I know, I know,” she said, sighing frustration, and rolled her eyes. “By the way, I didn’t expect you to go home this Christmas.”

“Me, too,” Valon said, flashing a smile.

Agatha hummed after she jumped to bed, sprawling and rolling on the soft sheets. “Aren’t you lonely being alone there?”

Valon snorted. He couldn’t help but smirk while shaking his head. “Not really,” he said after he calmed down a bit.

She pulled herself up, slouching at the edge of the bed. Her eyebrows knitted, wondering, as she was getting more curious. “What do you mean? Dad isn’t there yet. I’m not there yet. Are we expecting guests?”

“Not really,” Valon said.

“Anyway, I have to work right now. Still have tons of content to put up for this week.”

“Sure, just go on.”

Agatha dragged herself out of bed and stood. Then, she returned to her makeshift office and sat on the chair. “I’ll be there today. Did dad arrive?”

Valon shook his head. “Not yet.”

“Alright, I’m not sure what time I could arrive there. But, I’ll make sure I get there.”

“Don’t worry, Agatha. Anyway, bye.”

“Bye,” Agatha said and hung up.

After Valon finished the call, his attention moved to his brushes placed on top of the cabinet. He grabbed one and took the palette with several colors squeezed on it before he headed to the easel and began his strokes.

Meanwhile, Clay opened his eyes and stretched his arms, sprawling on the bed. With his hair still messed up, he shoved the strands that covered his face. When his eyes landed on the surroundings, he couldn’t help but smile, feeling more relaxed than when he walked into the villa for the first time.

Wondering what Valon was doing, he got up and walked downstairs. He began searching for him until he saw a room at the end of the hallway. When he reached there, he noticed the door was ajar, enough for his face to fit and peek. So, he peeked and saw Valon standing before the easel, brushing strokes of colors. Thinking it wasn’t right to disturb him, he pulled away and continued walking around until he reached the seashore.

After Valon felt satisfied with his work, his eyes began to wander as if his trance mode was gone, pulling him back to his senses. When he noticed the sun was already up and he could feel the heat touching his skin, he placed the materials to the side and walked out of the room, looking for Clay. When he couldn’t find any sign of him around, he continued walking everywhere until he saw Clay at the seashore, observing the vast sea. He stood beside him. “Hey, good morning.”

“Good morning,” Clay said.

“How was your sleep?”

“I guess I slept well.”

“I’m glad you did,” Valon said as he looked away, facing the same view they have on the villa. While they felt the cool sea breeze touching their skins, they both shut their eyes with faint smiles, enjoying and relishing the magnificence that was revealed before them. “I used to sit here alone back then,” Valon said, looking at Clay, who had turned his face in his direction.

“Isn’t it a wonderful moment to enjoy the sunrise alone?”

“Yeah, but not at that time.”

“Why?”

He sighed. “I was in my second year in college, and Agatha had just started high school when we first arrived here. I remember crying here, thinking about what else could have happened if dad hadn’t come to us. Would I find myself keep doing a lot of bad things to keep my sister’s comfort?”

“You’ll never know, Val.”

“Yeah, I would never know,” Valon said and gulped as he looked away when he felt teary-eyed and his throat parched.

Though he was quick, it didn’t miss Clay’s keen eyes. He had already noticed Valon’s frown and bloodshot eyes earlier before he turned his head to hide it. “It must have been rough for you then,” Clay said, as he slowly understood the depth of crisis Valon overcame that may have impacted him so much to become the man he was.

Valon couldn’t hold himself back anymore, so when he turned his head to look at Clay, his tears streamed down his cheeks. “I felt like I lost the world I know. When I saw my mom for the last time at the hospital, I remember holding her hand, and she said, ‘Do you want to know why I called you Valon?’ I said no. She said in Albania, Valon means ‘wave.’ So, Anak, I know I don’t have much time left, but I want you to remember to live like a wave. Subtle but strong. Be kind yet firm not only for you but for Agatha. My father told me shortly before he died in front of me, during my mom’s burial, he said, ‘Don’t leave Agatha alone, and don’t make her sad.’ I remember him saying how lucky he was to have a son like me,” he paused when he felt like choking.

When Clay looked at him, his eyes became teary as he saw Valon leaning forward with his face down and began to sob like a child losing his mother. Though he didn’t know what to do, he grabbed Valon and hugged him. When Valon pressed his face against Clay’s shoulder, he cried more and more when he felt Clay patting his hand on the back of his head. Because at that moment, as he closed his eyes, he remembered how his mother would do the same when he felt sad as a child.

However, despite his attempts to avoid rationalizing things, Valon couldn’t find any reason to dislike what he was experiencing. Though he never knew he needed something like this—a talk like this, he chose to allow himself to experience and acknowledge how he missed his mother so much. Thankfully, Clay was there. Without Clay knowing it, Valon’s hands seemed to have lived on their own, crawling to wrap Clay with his arms with strength as he began to want more of his care and desire his love.

Valon glanced at Clay, who remained silent until they reached the Poblacion. With his hands tucked behind him, he raised his arm and tapped Clay’s arm to get his attention. “Thank you so much for doing that for me,” he said and gave a kind smile. “I’m sorry I hugged you tight and long.”

“I don’t mind that much. Because I could tell that you had a tough life. But right now, I’m glad you passed through that.”

Valon nodded. “I am. But without my dad, I don’t think I’ll be the kind of Valon you’d know today.”

“Why do you think so?”

“My dad did his best to take good of us as if we were his children. So, it’s right for us to pay him back as better people.”

“Yeah, but that’s still nice of him,” Clay said with a smile until they reached the next street. His eyes widened in surprise. “De Lara Street?”

Valon looked the same way and smiled. “Yeah, it’s the street name dedicated to him after he contributed so much to this community. Everyone owes a lot to him, and I’m not saying this because he’s my father. But, as a person, he’s extraordinary.”

“Wow. You do look up to him, don’t you?”

“Yeah, I am.”

“I didn’t expect to hear that about you, Val.”

“How about you, Clay?”

“My relationship with my father wasn’t great, unlike yours. Though he was a genius in business, he sucked in his family life.”

“What did he do to make you feel miserable like that?”

“I don’t know. I don’t feel like he was my father at all.”

“How about you and the rest of the family?”

“I have three step-siblings, and they’re all older than me. Two of them are brothers and a sister.”

“And if my memory serves right, Alain is the one who keeps coming to clean your apartment. Am I right?”

“Yeah, he’s the one,” Clay said, confirming Valon’s guess, which made them laugh afterward before Clay’s smile faded as he continued, “And the only one who treated me like a sibling.”

“So, you aren’t on great terms with your other two siblings?”

“No, not in the least. Rafael and Anais have hated me since. Unlike Alain, they made it clear from the beginning that they would never feel like they could accept me and that I belong to the family.”

“That’s rude. Why would they say those things to you?”

Before Clay could answer, someone stood before them and interrupted their conversation.

“Is that you, Val?” a woman, who looked the same age as Valon or a bit older, stood before them with a surprised look. But when Valon looked at her, she screamed. “Oh my fucking, Lord, Valon Crisostomo de Lara in the town, yo! How are you doing, and where have you been? Oh my God, you look so goddamn hotter now that you’re older! Where’s the punk look? Gone?”

“It’s been long gone, Sash.” Valon laughed, though his face suddenly flushed, as he gave her high-fives. Then, when he saw his former friend watching Clay’s stunning beauty, she was silent.

“Oh my, this man. Damn, is this your beau?” she said while she scanned his face, ignoring Valon at the moment.

“What? No—” Valon interrupted.

Clay looked away to hide how displeased he was by what he had just heard, though he tried to keep himself as composed and natural as possible.

“I’m Sasha. What’s your name?” she asked, extending her hand and inviting Clay to shake hands.

Clay took her hand, shaking it while being generous, giving her a big smile. “I’m Clay.”

“Clay, what?”

“Clay Elizondo.”

As soon as Valon heard the last name from Clay’s lips, he felt his chest constricting, and without knowing, he was clenching his fists, though they were tucked inside his pants pockets.

“Oh, you’re an Elizondo? I know that family. So, what do you do for a living, Clay? Let me guess. Are you a doctor?” Sasha asked in a tease, elbowing him.

“Yes, I’m a doctor,” Clay said, which made Sasha’s jaw drop and her eyes widen, shocked by what she had just heard.

Sasha cocked an eyebrow, knitting it. It was as if she wanted to ask a question but was hesitant. “But you’re an Elizondo, right?” she asked, almost stuttering.

Clay nodded and giggled. “Yeah, I am.”

“And he’s not just a doctor, Sash.”

“He’s what?”

“He’s my man,” Valon said with confidence which made Clay experience tingles all of a sudden.

Sasha snorted and chuckled, shaking her head. “So?”

Valon looked at Clay, locking gazes with him, before moving his attention to her with a big smile while shaking his head. “Nothing. Why wouldn’t you care?”

“Of course not. Why? Are you afraid I’m going to steal him away from you?”

“What? No, I mean—” Valon was about to defend himself when Sasha interrupted.

“Hey, about you coming to the skating rink tonight? Anyway, it’s a Friday night, and the guys are coming, too. So, it will be enjoyable to have you back there, Val. It’s been a long time since we last saw you. So, please don’t say no now.”

While Clay went on having a small talk conversation with his former friend, Valon found himself in his rabbit hole—staring at Clay at a distance with a more profound interest than he had ever had before. Let alone with a man. But when Clay turned his head in his direction with a smile, he almost yelped and let out an awkward laugh when his attention moved back to his friend, talking to him. Yet, there was something in his eyes as he kept staring at this fine young man beside him.

Valon looked at Clay for a second, and when he saw Clay smiling as if he was approved. He smiled and nodded to Sasha. “Sure, what time?”

“Time? Right now!” Sasha exclaimed, raising both arms with a broad smile and leaping before them. She was excited to bring Valon back to the skating rink as if he were a local celebrity there. That fact surprised Clay.

“Now?” Fuck.

“It’s alright, Val. I’ll go with you,” Clay said.

Valon looked delighted with his mouth open and his eyes squeezed. “You will?” he asked. When Clay nodded, he unknowingly grabbed and then wrapped Clay in his arms, embracing him. “Great!” Valon said with excitement as he let go and grabbed Clay’s hands, dragging him to where Sasha went, tailing her until they arrived at the town’s only skating rink.

When Valon walked in, everyone welcomed him as if they had been missing Valon’s presence. That moment also surprised Clay, who had just realized Valon’s popularity in their community.

A polar opposite of the mysterious artist that he was.

That’s what he thought, though his eyes gazed at their hands intertwined.


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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