Here’s chapter 38 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.
While Alain observed the surroundings in silence, he saw Albert talking to his stepmom and frowned. He looked disturbed the longer he watched them. It wasn’t until he saw Clay with another young man approaching Albert and Marcela he felt his resentment oozing as his eyes studied the man beside him throughout the conversation until they walked inside.
He saw Elizabeth entering. His chest jumped when she got closer. He wanted to dash and hug her as he used to. He looked at her face, glowing. A look he had missed for years. Was she excited to see him?
But when he approached her, he saw her hand wrapped around a woman’s hand, inviting her to join the discreet fun and curling them around hers later. His chest felt tight when he saw the look in her eyes as she gazed with her. His eyes widened as they exchanged gazes and shared smiles.
He gulped, looking down.
When they returned inside, he stretched his lips as wide as he could, forcing himself to give a warm smile, though he felt a deep-seated sense of despair inside of him. Before he could say something, he flinched when he heard the other woman speaking.
“Alain. I didn’t expect you to come here,” Elizabeth exclaimed, hugging him.
Agatha cleared her throat. “Anyway, we need to go upstairs and change our clothes. We need to get dressed,” she sputtered, dragging Elizabeth. Excitement filled the air as they climbed the stairs. He couldn’t stop looking at Elizabeth until she was gone.
“Look around, guys, while we’re still preparing for our surprise Christmas celebration,” Albert announced with a broad smile.
While waiting for Elizabeth, Alain stood at the corner, observing the surroundings. He walked around, appreciating the minimalist vibe of the expansive space. The walls were white, with a large chandelier hovering above the living space. That definition of home reminded him of Clay. He continued hovering around Albert’s art collection. His mind wandered somewhere else. His eyes stared at the staircase, wondering what was up there. Maybe, bedrooms. He assumed.
Wait. Sightseeing wasn’t the reason for being here. He wasn’t here to celebrate Christmas with anyone, let alone strangers. He was there because he wanted to impress Albert. But deep down, he wanted to see Clay and talk to him. He thought he deserved to demand the doctor’s answers for his recklessness. He wished to speak with him privately if the opportunity came. No. Not now.
His chest burned with anguish and desperation to scold him for what he did—leaving Liz alone in the dark and heartbreak. Even though he would never have her heart, even though she would only see him as a brother, he would never allow her to suffer. No matter what. Even if it meant punishing Clay.
All those years, he had been patiently watching everything moving around him. From afar, he watched them cuddling and kissing, happy and in love. It was painful to watch, but he knew he couldn’t do anything more than admiration and provide protection.
His preference to silence and tolerance for the impending disastrous events became a personal issue. He wasn’t crazy when he accepted Clay as a brother, even now. He had never questioned his care for him, though he had a different mother. Instead of lashing out and venting his anger toward his father to Clay, he tried not to. Because at the end of the day, he will always be his brother through the same blood that ran through his veins. So, it didn’t make sense for him to turn Clay into a scapegoat when his father betrayed his mother and destroyed the family. It wasn’t his fault.
Yet, a dilemma arose after he learned Clay ran away and left Liz alone. How should he feel? Clay grew up under his wing for most of his life until now. That issue alone was enough to feel terrible and sorry for Liz. He felt responsible and accountable for the doctor’s actions.
But then, there was another issue he couldn’t avoid. His secret affection toward Liz. Although it was wrong for him to act on impulse simply because he wanted Liz for himself, it was painful to learn that his brother, whom he cared for so much, caused the pain of the woman he learned to love.
As his face raised and he glanced at everyone, still having fun chatting and laughing, he went upstairs and walked around. When he arrived, it was quiet. Unlike downstairs, he could see the arrays of doors along the hall. There were about three to four doors closed.
Except for one room at the end. The door was open, and the light was left turned on.
Though it caught his attention, he didn’t want to meddle with anyone else’s business. So, he tried to ignore his curiosity and moved his attention to the artistic elements displayed in the interior. Compared to downstairs, this floor tended to have a Bohemian-Moroccan vibe. He looked at every corner of Albert’s home without opening the doors and having a peek. That was what he was invited for, right?
He paused and thought until he couldn’t feel at ease with his itch anymore. He had to know what was in that room. He slid his head at the door frame without qualms to see what was inside. He saw the carpet covering the floor and rows and columns of canvases filled with unfinished paintings from every room corner. They surrounded the makeshift workplace filled with crumpled sheets of sketches in the middle of the room.
His eyes were in awe of the works he saw within its limited space. There was so much to see and value in this room. That made him pause briefly as he tried to recall what Albert had revealed about his children. When he realized this, he never mentioned an artist in his family. Yet, Alain was impressed as far as his eyes could see and as beautiful as these pieces were.
As he turned around, heading back downstairs, he swiveled his head to the left side just before seeing the edge of the door. He stopped and stood there in that direction with his head tilted. He walked closer to it until his eyes could see what was in it. He bent his body forward and slowly grabbed the canvas out. Then, he carefully placed it on the ground and against the wall for support.
Even though he may have failed to stop his urge to satisfy his curiosity, he didn’t want others to know he did. So, as much as possible, he didn’t wish to let the owner—whoever paints in the family—know he touched it. When he pulled away and stood before it, his eyes sucked the creases and layers of paint that covered the canvas. But then, when he looked closer, he noticed a sense of familiarity with the subject projected on it.
He cursed when he realized it was Clay.
The subject of this painting was his brother.
In a second, he felt proud to learn about his unknown side. Because for him, he would have never imagined someone from a family of doctors liking art. For example, Rafael was a hit in St. Luke’s. Well, he’s an Elizondo. So, being a doctor should be an obvious choice. On the other hand, Anais focused on being a socialite and enjoying the company of the wealthy and powerful. She had never shown any interest in arts.
And Alain? He did what he needed to do. He went into psychology and later philanthropy to support his dad’s efforts.
But Clay? Wow. He didn’t expect that. He smiled like a proud father and was slowly in tears.
Then his eyes caught something. The subject was naked and oozed sensuality all over it. The techniques and the strokes the artist used were intentional. The longer he stared at the piece, the more he felt disturbed.
As he lowered, he noticed a sign on the lower right part of the canvas. He bent to his knees to see it. His eyes narrowed as he tried to retrace the calligraphic fonts while tilting his head. “Va…Val…Valon. Valon De Lara,” he whispered.
What’s this? He stood as he expelled air from his chest. His eyebrows drew in as he stared at the painting again, remembering small details about how they behaved when they arrived earlier. Whatever he had in mind left him confused. He shook his head as he turned around to go. But he couldn’t stop himself from looking at the painting again at a far distance. Then, all of a sudden, a realization struck him like lightning. Realizing this led him beyond anger. He felt disgusted. His face soured, turning red.
Later that night, after everyone had fallen asleep, he laid down on the soft mattress and watched the interior of the guest room. He was still thinking of what he saw until he closed his eyes to sleep. But then, his phone vibrated. He opened his eyes, took it from the bedside table, and answered. It was Elvira.
“Hi, Sir Alain.”
Alain pulled himself up and dragged himself to the edge of the bed. “Hey, Elvira,” he said confidently, though he felt his soul was sucked out of him. He forced a smile, thinking it would help in the conversation. “What’s up?”
“I’m sorry for calling you this late, Sir. But I need to,” Elvira answered.
“What is it?” He paused. “Wait. If you’re worried about Liz, I got her. She’s safe. She’s okay. Alright? So, there’s nothing for us to worry about now.”
“Yes, Sir. How’s the sponsor’s party?”
“Well,” he paused again when his eyes wandered around as if he could find answers in the room. “It’s great. I mean, I saw Clay and met Albert’s children. Everyone’s having a great time.”
“That’s great to know. At least tomorrow, when you get here, I could tell the girls about this. Because for sure, they’ll be happy to know we could finally proceed with the project.”
Alain smiled. “True. So, what else? Did I forget something?”
“Yes, sir. Have you met his son? His name is Valon Crisostomo De Lara. Do you know him?”
That smile faded. “Yes, I do. Why?”
He could hear Elvira giggling on the other end of the line. “Cool. Because we might have to invite him later.”
The look in his eyes sharpened. “What for?”
“Inviting him to do an art exhibition for the foundation would be an excellent idea for the kid’s art demo activities. Besides, the De Laras saved our asses. What do you think?” Elvira said.
That made Alain speechless. He didn’t know what to say. He was already confused about what had gone on before him. He felt something was off but couldn’t figure out what it was. And this suggestion hit him hard like a stone. He stood and walked toward the window, shoving the curtain to the side.
“I think that’s a great idea,” Alain stuttered.
“I heard he’s also working in the same university as Clay did. Do you think they know each other? Or, maybe they’re friends?” Elvira asked, leaving him beyond shock with widened eyes.
With his phone in hand, he leaned forward to see the view, though there was nothing but black. In the darkness, he could still see the shadows from the light posts that beamed through the trees. But when he lowered his head and saw the ground, he saw Clay walking toward the SUV truck.
“I guess,” Alain replied.
“That’s great. Do you think you could ask Clay to invite him? Hopefully, he would say yes to the invitation.” Elvira giggled.
Then, his eyes widened when he saw his brother hug and kiss Valon’s lips passionately. He scoffed and left his mouth open when he saw the doctor entering the truck and driving in the middle of the night. “No. We don’t need to ask Clay’s help with that. I will talk to him. Personally.”
“You will do, Sir?”
Alain forced a smile before he turned around and headed to his bed. He sat at the edge of the bed with his elbows pressed on his lap and his body leaning forward. “Yes, I will talk to Valon myself.”
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:
- Get a copy of “The Rival” Uncensored Gay Romance Novel.
- Check out my upcoming book, “Non-Native Speakers Only.”
- Find more writing tips on my website (i.e., content writing, freelance writing, copywriting, self-publishing, novel writing, and many more!)