Here’s chapter 4 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.
“What brings you here, Mr. De Lara?” Clay said as he pulled his hand from Valon’s grasp, almost yanking it away, before letting out an awkward laugh. He was also fixated on Valon, who, although obscured by layers of casual yet fashionable clothing, had a build that matched his broad shoulders. Anybody in the room would notice a man wearing this outfit, contrasting sharply with Clay’s uninteresting white gown, covering her blue-green scrubs, a pair of eyeglasses, and white crocs.
On the other hand, Valon wore a teal-colored long-sleeve polo, a pair of tattered, plaid-themed denim pants, an artsy vintage-printed scarf around his neck, a black beret on top of his head, and sparkling shoes. And Clay’s keen observation didn’t end there. He also noticed Valon had pierced his ears for his distinguishing ornaments and secured them with earring stoppers.
Clay looked at Valon as he stood before him, inspecting every inch of him, noticing how masculine he appeared and sniffing the musky odor Valon was emitting that filled the entire room. Wondering why he was doing it, he thought it was because catching someone looking like Valon was unusual for a boring, mundane, and hectic movement in the hospital. Being in a hospital was the least expected if he could have seen somebody like Valon.
Then, as he raised his face a little bit, he noticed Valon’s towering height, almost reaching the clinic’s ceiling, although everyone in the hospital knew Clay stood tall among other medical personnel. For a while, he got used to feeling above others that way. However, meeting Valon at an unprecedented time like this was the first time he felt smaller, and by observing him at that point, he assumed he could stand a few centimeters lower than him.
Unlike Clay’s thin build and undercut layered hairstyle, Valon looked more fit and more manly, it matched his thick eyebrows and lashes, which looked darker than his hazelnut eyes and intense, and a messy curly long, dark hair, where all the bird could build nests in no time.
At first glance, his physique could easily stand out in the crowd, though he didn’t look too bulky. What caught Clay’s attention was how fascinated he became when Valon looked neat with his shaved face, revealing his pink, glossed lips and fair, glowing skin, though he was a man. Clay assumed Valon looked too gay for a man with this aura even though his face was smooth, revealing a shade of his growing beard and mustache lines.
His commanding presence alone made the nurses and interns peek and shriek in the background. Several of them began to whisper, talking about their ongoing conversation. When their gossip became louder, Valon flicked his head to his left side and glanced at them before he flashed an awkward smile and nodded as if he was telling them to shut the door.
While Clay was clueless about the ongoing situation, Valon winked at one of the nurses, who stood nearer to the door frame, and as they exchanged gazes, he didn’t have qualms to stretch his lips wide. When the nurse saw what he was doing, she gasped as her face turned red and nodded, which made Clay look puzzled as she reached the door, closing it with her torso leaning forward, avoiding his stare, and was on tiptoes.
After a loud thud from the door, it jolted Clay, and he was able to return to his senses. When he did, he blinked for a moment before averting his gaze, realizing how Valon’s exuding masculinity briefly distracted him. So, he moved his attention away from Valon and then proceeded to his messy desk while trying to calm himself down by searching for an alibi work. Frantically, he began arranging a few papers, placing them in folders and filers with assigned colors.
Despite Clay’s attempts to ease himself, it didn’t take long for Valon to notice the doctor’s tense, somewhat queasy feeling. While Valon kept pretending he didn’t see what went on before him, he began scanning the clinic’s cramped space, though there was nothing to see except filers on the shelves. As he pulled his hand away and tucked it inside his pants pockets, he cleared his throat and exhaled a silent sigh before his eyes landed on Clay again. When he did, he didn’t have qualms casting the doctor a piercing stare as if he was trying to intimidate the doctor. “I’m sorry if I may have disturbed you today, though I know you’re busy.”
“Doctors are always busy. We rarely have holidays, unlike ordinary people like you.”
“I understand. But I’m here to represent the patient’s sponsor.”
As soon as Clay heard the last word, it didn’t take long to determine Valon’s agenda of coming into his clinic mid-day. After gaining enough confidence to answer Valon’s erotic and paralyzing stare, he scoffed, flicking his head down slightly to hide his embarrassment and discomfort.
Then, he leaned against his seat and tilted his head, pulling his head up to Valon’s face as he flashed him a grimace, though he began scanning Valon’s features again, as if he was trying to please himself visually, leading to them exchanging gazes for a second—and there was a brief awkward silence.
Then, Valon cleared his throat. “Are you okay, Doc?” he said with concern.
“Yeah, I am,” he paused, stuttering, and sighed, “And I guess you haven’t heard about my response to the offer.”
Valon squinted his eyes as he felt confused by what Clay had said. “I’m sorry, but I haven’t met you before. So, what do you mean by that?” he said with a beautiful mix of confusion and doubt.
Clay sighed in desperation, knowing what he said was accusatory. “I received the sealed envelope from Dr. Hawkeye—” he paused to cluck, “—I’m not sure if you know Dr. Hawkeye. Nevertheless, his real name is Dr. Diego Salvador, the resident chief surgeon of San Carlos University Hospital. I guess he’s the best person you have to talk to. Not me.”
Valon shook his head. “No, I don’t know him personally.”
“But, I received the gift from him, which I refused to accept.”
At that moment, Valon bit his lip as he looked down for a moment, thinking about what the doctor had said, and when he couldn’t think of reasons why he was able to say things like that, he smiled to hide his misunderstanding, as it was enough to persuade the doctor. “Ahh, I see. But I’m not here to force you to accept the offer.”
Clay’s eyebrows, trying to ignore Valon’s attempt to convince him and fall into his traps, knitted in confusion. Didn’t you sound like you’re coercing me into doing something? “Wasn’t that why you’re here?”
Valon averted his gaze for a while as his eyes began to wander and see Clay’s photo frames of him when he was younger, presumably around grade school, and a woman with long, wavy light brown-colored hair, his mother, as Valon assumed, standing beside the young doctor. Above the frame was Clay’s diploma displayed on the wall, which caught his eye. He graduated from one of the top medical schools in the country with flying colors. That impressed Valon. “I assume you haven’t opened the envelope handed to you.”
Clay scoffed. “So, you’re the sponsor?”
Valon shook his head. “No. I’m not.”
“Then, what brings you here if you’re not the sponsor?”
“I’m here because I heard you like the artist.”
When Clay heard Valon’s assumption, he arched an eyebrow. “How did you come up with that? Do I look like someone fond of art?”
“I work at the art department, and you’re quite a popular individual in the university, especially among women. So, as the person in charge, I tend to hear things like this from them talking about you in the department.”
“Excuse me. You’re working here?”
“Yes, I’m glad you asked that. Yeah, we’re both working at San Carlos University. I’m the Art Department Head in the School of Arts,” he said, handing Clay a business card which gold-written letters in Serif printed on a white embossed and perfumed surface, with a confident smile.
“You’re the department head?” Clay said as he took the white card Valon had placed on his desk.
“Unfortunately, yes,” Valon said. When he saw Clay’s dismissing reaction, his smile faded, pressing his lips afterward.
“And why would an art department head come to my humble clinic?”
That remark made Valon panic, compelling him to find reasonable ideas to explain himself. When he did, he inhaled and exhaled an exasperated sigh. “I guess that’s enough to convince you that I’m not here to waste your time. I’m just a concerned colleague.”
Clay scoffed and then let out a chuckle, pressing and massaging his temple while his face was down, looking at Valon with his eyebrows shot upward. “Why would be colleagues?”
“We’re working for the same university and serving the same groups of students here. Doesn’t that make us colleagues?”
Clay clucked, riveting his head to avoid landing a stare at Valon, feeling more embarrassed in his seat. However, as much as he wanted to run away, he couldn’t because it was his clinic. Why would he run away because of a stranger who was that goddamn hot?
“Anyway, I don’t like to accept gifts from my patients or their patrons. I don’t care if it’s out of gratitude for saving their lives,” he said, pulling himself forward, reaching to the mess on his desk, and resuming his earlier cleanup.
Valon nodded. “I understand what you’re trying to say, Doctor. But here,” he paused as he handed Clay a VIP ticket, “You need to take this.”
“Didn’t you hear what I said? Why would I accept briberies like this? I became a doctor because I wanted to serve and not because I desired to be your goddamn toy,” Clay said in a more sarcastic tone with his eyebrows raised. This time, he stood from his seat to express his defiance of Valon’s request.
However, even with Clay’s louder voice, Valon remained unaffected by the increasing tension between them. “I understand your altruism, Doc. But we both know that this artist rarely does art exhibitions. So, if you miss this chance, you’ll never know when he will do it again. You’re his fan. You know that. If you’ll not take this opportunity now, when else?”
“What are you talking about?”
Valon flicked his head. “Take a look at the ticket I handed you. So you will better understand what I’m trying to say. At least before you assume I’m coercing you into doing something you don’t like,” he said in a cold, determined, dominating tone.
Damn. Those words stung and made Clay freeze for a while. He was in utter chaos, unable to organize his thoughts on how to respond to Valon’s blunt remark. Then, he leaned forward towards his desk, reached for the ticket Valon had placed on the desk, and took it, reading its content.
“As you can see, this isn’t just any other art exhibition, Doc. Events like this rarely happen, and even our university couldn’t just organize with him whenever they wanted to. But, this year, we’re lucky to have him. So, I’m here to tell you that. And you’re not the only person I talked to about this. Anyway, your decision.”
When Clay read the artist’s name and the art exhibition details, his eyes widened, reading the information repeatedly to ease himself and convince his mind that he was reading each word right, as he inhaled deeply, seemingly troubled.
Though he had shown defiance towards Valon, the words written on the ticket didn’t lie. It was clear to him that Valon, although he looked and sounded suspicious, was telling the truth from the beginning of this conversation. That fact gave Clay an instant slap on his face, forcing him to let out a discomforting scoff, realizing his mistake. “What will happen to me if I accept this?”
Valon chuckled. “What do you think would happen, Doc?”
“I’m asking you a proper question, so you might as well provide me a proper answer.”
Valon scoffed. “Well, simple. You’ll miss the exhibition,” he said coldly, which bothered the doctor. Then, while they exchanged gazes, he sighed. “Why? Did you expect me to say something else?” he said, which froze Clay again. What’s with the tone of this man? Unbothered, Valon continued, “But then again, I’m not here to force you to accept this. It’s up to you. However, if you decide to attend, it will be nice to see you there.”
“You would be there, too?”
“Of course, I am the department head, so I have to oversee things that day. This artist isn’t just any other artist in this country. He’s a VIP. Plus,” he paused and smiled.
“Why are you smiling like that?”
“While talking about him, I guess you won’t mind keeping my secret.”
Clay knitted his eyebrows. “Wh—”
Without waiting for him to answer, his eyes widened in surprise, and he felt choking when shock swelled around his throat when Valon pulled himself closer to Clay’s face, so close that he could almost hear his breathing, “I’m a fan, too. Wouldn’t it be nice to see you there, too, Doc?” Valon said in a hushed, whispering tone before pushing himself back, smirking. “Anyway, I have to go,” he said. Then, he turned, heading back to the entry. As he was about to leave the room, he paused when he heard a noise. Assuming Clay pushed his swivel chair, he turned to check and saw his assumption was right. Clay stood and then strolled in his direction. “So?” he said, arching both eyebrows.
“Why are you giving this to me when I barely know you?”
“I’m here to thank you for what you’ve done for Marco.”
“Marco? Who the hell is Marco?”
“That patient you saved a few weeks ago, do you remember?” he paused when he remembered something, sighing, “He’s my childhood friend, whom I treated as my younger brother. Though the operation was at high risk, you saved his life. So, giving you this invitation is the least I could do compared to what you’ve done to him. Thank you,” he said, pressing his lips to ease himself before flicking his head to hide his reaction, which was the least expected he would do.
Little did he know Clay saw how the look in his eyes changed when he mentioned a bit about Marco, thinking, ‘How foolish of me. That patient was his childhood friend.’ In a flash, he found it frustrating that he found himself in a situation wherein he felt how Valon’s revelation about his patient gave him chills. Perhaps, it was due to the events that happened lately, which blinded him from knowing the truth and whatnot.
When he realized how he had misjudged the man’s intentions simply because of his presence which intimidated him, his mind kept reeling what he had done as it kept reeling the thought of being the bad guy—becoming more uncomfortable to him. “Didn’t you say you weren’t the sponsor?”
“No. It’s been my dad, though I was the one who insisted on giving this simple gift to you.”
“Don’t tell me you gave the same ticket to Dr. Hawkeye?” Clay said, expecting Valon’s answer, feeling his chest swelling with anxiety.
Valon shook his head, which relieved Clay in an instant. “Don’t worry. He had a different one. But this one? It’s between the two of us and a few people who are interested in this kind of art,” he paused as he leaned forward to reach Clay closer and continued, “Don’t worry. Your secret is safe with me. I’m a person you can trust.” While Clay froze, Valon sighed in relief and a quick, friendly smile, pulling away from the queasy doctor. “And one more thing, I also understand your concern. You probably think this ticket is bribery, which you don’t have to.”
“But it is,” Clay said nonchalantly.
Valon shook his head. “No, it’s not. Anyway, I didn’t mean to stay long because I know you’re busy. Besides, I failed to make an appointment with you in advance. So, I probably have disrupted something. And I don’t want to be a bother to you.”
“Don’t worry. You’re not,” Clay said, shaking his head, but Valon suddenly showed a kind smile, to his surprise.
“Alright. Nonetheless, I hope you won’t miss this opportunity and see you there. Bye,” Valon said and nodded as he turned to leave the room.
“Bye,” Clay said while watching Valon leave. When he did, it was the first moment he felt the air was less closed and could breathe properly. Feeling disturbed, he shut the doors to be alone as his interns were about to approach him. When it was closed, he leaned against the hard surface, facing up while shutting his eyes, inhaling deep breaths before his eyes landed on the ticket he had in his hand.
Then, he raised his arm to his chest and looked at the ticket again with his knitted eyebrows, pressing his lips. He seemed strange, but his peculiar nuances, his unpredictability, honestly, were fascinating. What’s with this man? What’s with him?
“Should I accept this and go there? There’s nothing wrong with it, right?” Clay whispered before shaking his head in defiance. However, no matter how often he kept asking himself the same question, he couldn’t help but feel remorse towards Valon, whom he offered nothing but his ill thoughts and misjudgment, which was unnecessary in the first place.
In his mind, he ever disliked being the bad guy in all situations, no matter what. So, he grew up striving to become a better person—better than that old bastard.
Yet, when the right opportunity approached him when Valon came into his clinic, he had nothing but great thoughts, hoping he would receive a positive response without thinking of something bullshit. In the end, Clay hated the fact he was the first one who gave Valon something he would have never wanted to love to receive in the first place.
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!