Here’s chapter 16 of the new book, “Dangerous Roommate.” Enjoy reading. Let me know your thoughts about this chapter in the comment section below.
After leaving the atelier, Stefan decided to go pull over the curb and park the car at a nearby designated parking space. He crossed the several cars and then went to the underpass, heading to the basement grocery store. But as he kept going, he noticed someone following him from behind. Though he didn’t mind about it at first, he kept his senses on high alert as he went. Searching for stuff, he pushed the cart from shelf to shelf, taking one thing to the other while trying to keep track of the man.
When he reached the cashier, his eyes meandered, scanning from left to right to notice any sign of him. He kept the cashier calm with a faint smile as he paid and walked away with the bag that appeared to be about to rupture, filled with everything they needed at home.
As soon as he reached the middle of the parking lot, his feet slowed. His body shuddered and was covered with a cold sweat. His chest felt tight, his throat constricting. He waited and waited until his eyes caught the shadow of the man when they passed through a light post. Certainty made him audacious as he dared to turn his back, facing the tall stranger wearing all black, from his hoodie to his pair of pump shoes.
He must have been at least a hundred eighty centimeters in height. He was huge, hairy, and pumped. At first glance, he would have looked like a Yeti in a hoodie.
His eyes narrowed, trying to figure out who the man was. While he kept his eyes on the man revealing his bald head, his widened when he noticed the black eye patch. “Nigel?”
Nigel looked at him, and he dipped his eyes into his shopping bag. His eyebrows arched, and one eye widened. It was as though the scene was too far-fetched to be true. He shook his head, thinking no way. There was no way Stefan would do something like this. If this was the reason why Madam had kept him from this mission, he was grateful. Because he would never do something like this.
He never had the chance.
Seeing him with a shopping bag was the last thing he would ever expect from this man. He wanted to smile or laugh as he kept watching him in that fashion. But no. He kept his lips tight and decided to wait until Stefan was comfortable enough to speak. Suppose he would provide a clear explanation, which was another thing he wouldn’t expect from this guy. Especially with his personal affairs.
Stefan was a complicated man. Methodical. Straightforward. Brutally honest. But hard to read.
“What are you doing? Why are you following me?” He paused, looking around. “Did she send you?”
Nigel shook his head.
“Then, why are you following me?”
“I was curious.”
Stefan sighed a deep sigh of relief, almost releasing the bag in his grip. He shook his head. “You can’t be doing this. You’re giving me heart attacks.”
Nigel giggled. “I’m sorry if I scared you.” His eyes caught the shopping bag again. He couldn’t seem to get over it. “What’s this?”
“It’s our weekly groceries.”
“Our? With whom?”
“With Frank,” Stefan said with confidence and then regretted it. He swiftly looked away to hide his reaction from a mistake.
Stefan looked him in the eye and flashed a faint but kind smile, surprising the man. “My home,” he replied with gusto.
“Your home,” Nigel repeated, seemingly unconvinced. He drew his eyebrows in, flashing a dubious look on his face.
Once he’d parked in front of the cabin house, Stefan strode up to unlock the front door with Nigel behind him. “Hey,” he announced as he marched inside the cabin, wishing it was loud enough to get Frank’s attention. “Got some groceries for you.”
And it worked.
“Thank you,” Frank said, bending over to take out the siopao he had baked. After placing the tray on the island counter, he paused when he saw another man walking in. While he glued his eyes on Stefan, he was curious about the stranger. Who was he? Was he a friend? As he kept observing him, he noticed how his towering height and bulky body had intimidated him. He must have been at least six feet tall, as he guessed.
When his eyes ran through his face, it reminded him of how Stefan once looked—tensed, angry, and stiff. From afar, he could see how he looked unusually awkward, though he kept his eyes busy, having a look at the interior.
“Oh, Nigel. My blood brother.”
Convinced, Frank wasn’t greedy with his smiles. He looked at the man, having a look from head to toe, though he tried to keep himself easy. He didn’t want the guest to feel more uncomfortable than he already was.
“Feel free to have a look around. Feel at home,” he said, leaving the man express a short “Uh-uh” sound.
Can this be real? Can this be true? Nigel thought as he walked around the living area with both arms crossed behind his back. He couldn’t believe Stefan had brought him to his cabin, thinking he could help his friend with his stuff. He had never been invited for something unless he wanted his expertise, let alone being invited to come over to help a friend. That was too surprising for him. Because at work, he had never heard Stefan asking for help unless for an emergency. But it doesn’t happen all the time. For years working with him, he could count those times with one hand.
He swiveled his head, eyeing the two scrambling in the kitchen. It was fascinating to watch how the two worked together. For a second, they looked like love birds in denial. While he did so, he pictured his conversation with Stefan earlier at the grocery parking lot.
“I felt bad watching Frank struggling even to lift a carton,” Stefan said with concern, surprising him. “He had a lot of things. It would be better if we help him out.”
Returning back to the present, Nigel scoffed. He still couldn’t believe Stefan would say such a thing. For sure, he wasn’t prepared for what he was seeing. For the first time, he saw that bastard smiling like that. He may have seen him smile or laugh a bit, but he had never seen his face glow and his eyes filled with delight. He had never seen him this happy.
As soon as this idea dawned in his mind, he couldn’t help but mourn for himself. Because prayers weren’t enough for the Lord to bless him with an experience like it. If not, the universe had already forsaken his soul long before he knew he was alive. He felt like that. An outcast. A nobody. An unwanted child born out of wedlock and abandoned by the only family he’d known. A young man who knew no friends but made a lot of memories with porn, guns, enemies, and prostitutes. An adult who had no place and knew no love.
Yet, he found himself mesmerized as he kept watching his friend blooming as he did. Though it didn’t make sense, he felt like wanting to be part of it, too. Like a family of some sort. Deep down in his heart, it would be nice to have a taste of how it actually feels to be part of something meaningful, to have something worth fighting for. Perhaps, meeting people who knew unconditional love.
His mind returned to his senses when he saw Frank approaching him with a few pieces of steaming siopao. His smile reached his ears. “I don’t know if you’d like this. But it would take a while before Stefan finishes. And I thought you might want to eat something. Maybe you’re hungry.”
He eased back, thinking he hadn’t stepped into Stefan’s private space. But the tingle in his blood warned him to mark the distance. Because why would he be pleased to see a stranger so close to him with food in his hand? Frank was a nobody to him. He was a stranger. His gesture didn’t make any sense to him. Why would he offer something as nice and delicious as this? He hadn’t asked for it. That wasn’t why he was here in the first place. He was there to fulfill a mission for a brother.
Not to eat.
Though his eyes narrowed in suspicion, he had almost salivated when his nose caught the glorious scent of fresh-baked buns, pork, and spices. Wow. This looked great, and his tummy roared approval.
But wait. What was this offer for? Was this bribery? If so, no. He didn’t want to be tied to that shit. He was there to help, not to gamble.
“Come on. I baked them for you.”
As nervous as a parent sending off his firstborn to school, Nigel went on. “We don’t know each other. So, why such a hassle?” he asked with a hint of annoyance with the fussy man.
Frank arched both eyebrows, shaking his head. “No, it’s not a hassle for me. I wanted to bake some, but we have way too much. Besides, you’re here. You’re his brother. So, you’re a family, too. You should feel welcome here,” he said as he handed him the saucer. “Take it. I’ll go and get some juice,” he added, turning his back to him.
Though the gesture had left him speechless, he took the saucer as calmly as he could. He didn’t know how to react, even though it felt nice. For the first time in his life, he felt like he belonged. “Family,” he whispered, staring at the siopao with an awkward smile. Suddenly, he found himself sighing in relief, even though it didn’t make any sense at all.
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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