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Chapter 32, Dr. Clay (Cult of Eros #1, Ongoing Update)

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Here’s chapter 32 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.

“Albert?” Marcela exclaimed, flashing a wide smile as she excused herself and walked in long strides, approaching him. “I can’t believe you’re here. How are you? I mean, it’s been a long time, right?”

Albert smiled. But there was something in his smile. From how he looked at her, it wasn’t because he had seen a friend again. His eyes were on fire, burning his face as it flushed. His chest was tight with his heart throbbing, hammering him the longer he stared at her.

Marcela looked as if she hadn’t aged, though a few lines stroked around her eyes when she smiled. Though her voluptuous, long, big curls, casting over her shoulders, were gone, she still had the same look in her eyes and the smile he had missed.

As he studied her face, he couldn’t help but smile. “Yes. It’s been thirty years, Mars.” That’s what he had called her. It was her nickname back then, and she was known for it more than her complete name.

She hummed, raising her face, thinking. “How have you been?” she asked, gesturing for him to have a walk, thinking the conversation would be easier if they moved.

“I’m doing great. How about you?”

“I’m fine,” Marcela said, even though her eyes said otherwise.

“I didn’t know you married Saturnino,” he said, making Marcela pause, look away, and flick her head down. At that moment, he noticed how her face had shifted as her glow faded, leaving a stoic expression printed all over her face.

“Yeah, I did,” she said, stuttering while trying to avoid Albert’s gaze.

“Are you happy?” he asked nonchalantly, leaving her feeling uneasy, which was unintentional.

But still, she raised her face and flashed a smile, nodding. “Yeah, I am.”

When he sensed something off about her, he patted her shoulder as gently as he could and forced a smile to ease her. “I’m glad you are. By the way, I met your son, Clay.”

“Really?” Marcela asked, looking more surprised than Albert had expected, leaving him wondering. It was as if worry swelled her being that she let out an awkward smile and then chuckled. “How did you meet him?”

“I met him at the villa. I didn’t know he was my son’s friend,” Albert said as they began walking strides again, looking around, where guests’ loud chattering, staff members roaming around, and a piece of jazzy music playing filled the room.

“What a small world, isn’t it?”

“Indeed, yes, Mars.”

“Have you married?” she asked.

Albert shook his head. “No. I’m not planning to get into trouble again.”

Marcela flashed a faint smile. “It’s been more than thirty years, hasn’t it?”

He hummed and nodded.

“Where on earth have you been?”

“I should be asking you that, though,” he said, giggling.

“Right. I got married shortly after you disappeared,” Marcela said as she glanced at him, observing his nuances as if she was trying to figure out what went on inside his head. It was as if she was curious about him. She wanted to know more about his whereabouts because it had been a long since they’d seen each other.

As they kept walking, she reeled about how it was back when they were still university students and how she met Albert in his early twenties and admired his curly mullets.

He looked hot.

When Albert went on, her mind played, reliving her old memories when she smiled. It had been a long time since she smiled, feeling true joy in her heart. For the last thirty years, she felt the world was against her and that she had forgotten how intoxicating bliss was. Why did she feel hopeful after knowing Albert hadn’t married? That felt strange to her. Even though her mind was clear about her boundaries, her heart wanted something else. She didn’t know how she had missed it until she met him again.

“How has it been for you, Mars? I mean, many things happened in the last three decades we haven’t seen each other, eh?”

She sighed. “Well, not long after the wedding, I gave birth, and Clay was born around summer in ninety-three.”

“I see. He’s a great man. He seemed to be a person who believed in his principles. You know, as a doctor, he needed that to keep himself sane. I bet it’s difficult to stay in the tracks his father had made for him.”

“He does. As his mother, I felt bad for him because he had to deal with many things. A lot of my mistakes in the past. Thankfully, one of his step-siblings, Alain, welcomed him with open arms. His presence helped him a lot to stay on track.”

“I’m glad he had the support he needed because, as far as I saw how he talked to me, he seemed to be frustrated or disappointed by something I don’t know about,” he said and saw Marcela’s face down. He stopped dead, pressing his lips when he realized he had talked too much.

When they walked outdoors to continue looking around the stalls arranged in arrays, Marcela suddenly paused and unknowingly stared into his eyes. It surprised him, prompting him to look at her and share gazes as if they were sending cryptic messages with their eyes. As she realized what she was doing, she looked away and sighed.

“I’m sorry,” she said.

“What for?”

“For everything.”

Though her attempts to conceal her personal issues were noticeable, Albert tried to ignore them consciously. Besides, he had no connection with her anymore, though, in hindsight, he still cared.

“Nevermind,” he said, beckoning to ignore the conversation. For him, it was bullshit. He wanted to take her alone and talk. He desired to hear more than what she had told him. After his brief conversation with Clay and how the young man had looked, describing his family life, he became more concerned.

He had been waiting for this moment for more than three decades. Now, he knew it was his opportunity to connect with Marcela again. However, he suddenly felt guilty when he remembered she was Clay’s mom. Even if her issues oozed out of her, it didn’t mean he was taking advantage of them simply because he had longed for her and to be with her. But there was no way for him to wish to turn back time.

After all, everything between them had been over.

Before he could utter a word, somebody came looking for her and interrupted them.

“Alain,” Marcela exclaimed, waving her arm at him.

When Alain approached them, Albert unknowingly scanned his features as if he was comparing him to Clay. He jolted when Alain looked at him, smiling and extending his hand. “Hi, I’m Alain Elizondo. It’s nice to see you here and meet you in person, Mr. De Lara.”

Albert took his hand and shook it. “My pleasure,” he said, releasing his hand, and flashed a soft smile. “It’s nice to meet you, too, Alain.”

“Come. I’ll show you around,” Alain said, beckoning his hand and inviting both to accompany him.

“You’re Clay’s brother, right?” Albert said, which surprised Alain.

“Have you met him? Where did you find him?” he sputtered, drawing his eyebrows in. Though he hadn’t expected to hear that, he became curious about how his brother, who had only thought about working, sleeping, and eating, had met such a powerful man. A man whom Alain thought was a lifesaver for the project. His presence alone was enough to feel reassured that, though his family had disappointed him, it would succeed. He longed to hear her approval and gratitude for what he had done, and he wanted to bear great news for Elizabeth.

“Yes, I mentioned it to your mother—” he paused, glancing at Marcela, who looked more awkward, and realized his mistake, “I mean your stepmother—”

“Don’t worry. I call her mom,” Alain said, smiling.

Confused and embarrassed, Albert let out a chuckle as he began walking in strides. “I’m glad you do,” he said while Alain and Marcela followed his trail. “Anyway, I met Clay in my villa. Why do you look surprised?”

Yes. That’s what Albert immediately noticed on Alain’s face. That glow on his face faded as soon as he heard the news. It took him a while before he realized what was going on. Even before Alain could explain, he figured it out as he recalled what Clay had told him.

Clay ran away.

And his family appeared to have been looking for him as Alain and Marcela’s faces printed worries and fears. It was clear to him.

Fortunately, Elizabeth found him, as he guessed.

Damn. Albert didn’t expect to get involved with their lives this way. It wasn’t part of the plan he had in mind. Not this way. But what else could he do? Nothing. Because he was aware of how stubborn his son was. So, even if he tried to intervene, he knew he would end with nothing but frustration. If not, his son might rebuke him, which wasn’t an option. He didn’t want to compromise his relationship with him just because he got himself into this mess—with Clay. Goddammit. He had already told Marcela about staying out of trouble. But there he was. In the middle of a cockfight, he didn’t know.

As much as he wanted to interfere, he kept his mouth shut and waited until they resolved their personal issues.

“I’m glad you found him. I tried calling Liz, but I couldn’t reach her either,” Alain said.

“Don’t worry. Both of them were there. Together,” Albert said.

Alain and Marcela’s faces lit with relief.

“By the way, why did you decide to support this project, if you don’t mind me asking?”

When Albert moved his attention to the ongoing business, he beckoned them to continue walking. He thought it would be easier to talk when he was moving. “Elizabeth asked for my help,” he paused and studied Alain’s face, “I sensed she needed my help badly, so I came to the rescue. I couldn’t stand watching her beautiful face frowning like that.” He shook his head.

“Thank you for doing so, Mr. De Lara.”

“Call me Albert. That’s fine.”

“Alright, Albert,” Alain repeated while glancing at Marcela. When he saw how his stepmother’s face glowed, he wondered why. He rarely saw her smiling like that in his mind, and he guessed she never showed that glow at home—with his dad.

Of course, he understood why, knowing how his dad had treated her over the years. But still, he couldn’t stop being curious about her connection with this man.

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 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!

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

  1. Get a copy of “The Rival” Uncensored Gay Romance Novel.
  2. Check out my upcoming book, “Non-Native Speakers Only.”
  3. Find more writing tips on my website (i.e., content writing, freelance writing, copywriting, self-publishing, novel writing, and many more!)

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