Here’s chapter 64 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.
“Clay?” Albert rose from the couch with droopy eyes. It had been a long time—too long—since he had slept well. And he already smelled like a bottom of a foot. He wiped his eyes and rubbed his face with his palm as he sighed. “What time is it?”
“It’s past midnight,” Clay said.
“Really?” Albert checked his wristwatch and laughed awkwardly. “Damn. I wasn’t planning on sleeping well here.”
“Are you okay?” Clay asked.
“I am,” Albert said, anticipating his reply. But when he saw Clay walk around Valon’s bed and lean forward to kiss his forehead, he flashed a smile and a soft laugh. “Yeah, I actually have a meeting tomorrow.” He paused when he realized something. “Oh, later. Around eight.”
Clay looked at him. “Better get some rest. I’ll stay here.”
When he moved his attention to Valon, Albert felt the air in the room less closed. However, as he watched the scene unfolding before him, he became more hopeless than he ever had. He had put his own son through hell, yet he felt proud because Clay had been so strong when strength was called for. He supposed he deserved respect for that. Like him, Clay was so steadfast about his fight—his love for Valon. He felt proud to learn that underneath this silent man was a warrior, always ready to offer his life and win all wars for the person he loved.
He wanted to tell him that he was beyond delighted to see him this close again, that he felt his chest tight, he needed his hug, his insides ached, and his eyes were about to tear up. Instead, he nodded. “Right,” he said, eyeing him. He paused as his frown deepened at the slight change in Clay’s expression.
Thinking it was his last chance, he took the last ounce of courage hidden in his gut. He did it so slowly until his eyes reached his face. He had never felt this uncomfortable until Clay gave him a long look. He thought he didn’t deserve the blessing of watching him even at this distance. As a father, he didn’t think he deserved this luxury.
But then, he felt a bit at ease when he saw Clay smiling. “How do you feel?”
“I’m happy,” Clay replied.
His answer surprised him. “Why?”
“Because I’m grateful for a lot of things. Everything’s going to place. Valon is healing well,” Clay said, looking at Valon, combing his curls with his fingers.
“Valon and Agatha were lucky to have you as their father.”
“Did the siblings threaten you to say that?” Albert teased.
A surprised sound came off from his mouth. He shook his head, letting out an awkward laugh. “No. They didn’t.”
“Well, I’m glad. Because you know them both,” Albert sighed and swiftly looked away. As much as he indulged his eyes with his son’s beauty, he couldn’t dare look at him. He was too guilty to handle it.
“Why aren’t you looking at me?” Clay asked.
“Am I not?” He stuttered, looking awkward when his eyes caught his.
“You don’t have to feel uncomfortable when you’re with me. You’re my father.”
Though Albert was frantic, he tried to keep his composure intact. “Yeah. I am.”
Clay straightened himself, giving him a long look. “Look at me. Please.” His voice sharpened.
When Albert obeyed, he saw the concern on Clay’s face. Although he refused to speak, Clay was patient enough to wait, giving him the advantage and time. As he kept his eyes on him, he couldn’t stop them from meandering, tracing the young man’s figure, appreciating his height and similarities in his facial features. He let out a faint smile when he realized Clay looked much like him. It was like watching a younger version of him. With his silver earring hanging on his ear, he would have been his doppelganger if he had worn the same mullets.
From afar, he couldn’t deny he was his son. It was a brief moment of pleasure until the longer the silence heaved between them, the louder his thoughts became. He thought he needed to say something. Perhaps, an inspiring fatherly quote. Maybe a boring joke. Goddammit. His mind was being uncooperative. His mind went blank, struggling to ease.
“You don’t have to force yourself. If you don’t like me, I understand,” Clay interrupted in a low voice, leaving Albert confused and worried.
His eyes widened and then narrowed, wondering what Clay meant. “What do you mean by that?”
Clay sighed. “You were right. I guess it’s right to stay away. After all, I was the one who caused this mess.”
Albert shook his head in defiance. “No, you shouldn’t feel like that.”
“Why shouldn’t I? I was the one who pushed Valon to do this. He wasn’t the one who pushed things too far. He didn’t cause the breakup or put my family in trouble. It was me. I know you want me to stay away from him. But I’m sorry. I can’t. I simply can’t.”
While he shook his head, Albert noticed how the look in his eyes had shifted. “Still, you did it for love. You did everything possible because you don’t want to lose him.”
Clay was silent.
While Albert stopped dead. Despite his inhibitions, he needed to say something. He had to because he knew he would go mad if he couldn’t. But was he willing to let go?
He had to.
“If I hadn’t given you forced you to make a choice, if I hadn’t meddled, if I….” He couldn’t even finish the sentence because his throat closed up around a sound. His eyes pumped out tears he used to shed alone. “Because of paying attention to so many things in my life, I forgot what’s valuable to me. And that’s you.” He flicked his head down and pinched the bridge of his nose. “Anyway, I have to go.” He turned his back and was about to go.
As soon as he heard his son’s voice pleading him to stay, he couldn’t stop his eyes from pumping tears anymore. His face turned sour. His eyes turned bloodshot. God. He’d never realized how much he’d been missing to hear them. Indeed, as a father, he didn’t need to hear many words to pull the strings in his heart. Especially from his son.
He wasn’t ashamed of feeling what he had at this point in his life. At least, it showed he was human and had a depth underneath the facade of a powerful man. It proved he wasn’t at all stoic or pretentious. He wasn’t just Albert De Lara, the politician and businessman, but he was also a father blessed with two God-given children. To his surprise, he suddenly felt proud.
Wanting to see his face, he gulped and wiped his tears before he turned to face him. “Son, please forgive me for everything I have done,” he stuttered.
“You’re just being a father. That’s all you did.”
That pulled the strings in Albert’s heart, leaving him speechless. His eyes widened in surprise, his face suddenly lit with hope. In a second, he let out a rueful laugh. “It’s funny because I needed you to tell me who I am. You’re way younger than me, but you’ve already taught me an important lesson.”
“What is it?”
“You made me realize a gay man is more than just a man.” He cleared his throat, feeling a bit embarrassed. He sighed again, but this time, he looked like he wanted to speak more. “It’s horrible for a father to punish my children like this. I understand if you don’t accept me as your father. I deserve your hate.” He paused, shooting him a desperate look in the eye. He blinked and pinched his nose when he realized what he was doing. “Anyway, I—ah…” He turned his back to him and was about to walk away.
That stopped him again. But this time, it left him beyond speechless. He looked as if he was on the verge of an emotional breakdown. Even though he had dreamed of it, he didn’t expect that word to escape from his mouth.
He turned slowly to face him. “Yes?”
When Albert looked at him, he saw Clay’s eyes had already turned red. He was like him having a breakdown.
“Can I hug you?” Clay asked.
“Sure. Why not?” He stuttered. Without qualms, he walked closer to him and threw his arms around him, hugging him, squeezing him. It was as though he had been waiting for this for so long. And this was it. The moment he wanted to give his son a long, loving embrace.
After Albert left, Clay returned his attention to Valon. He held his hand loosely, stroking his fingers. When he heard Valon’s first deep breath, it was the best compliment he’d ever been paid. He headed to the couch and lay down. He looked at him again and noticed the distance he had. He clucked. He was a bit too far from him. No. He should be closer.
Dissatisfied, he rose and dragged the couch nearer to his bed. Now satisfied, he laid again, but this time, he ensured he felt his hand. He needed to feel his warm fingers as if holding them was a drug he needed that night. As the feeling of relief touched from the increasing gush of warmth in his veins, he closed his eyes and fell asleep.
The next morning, his hand twitched when he felt a squeeze in his hand. His eyebrows furrowed as he let out a moan. Still, eyes closed. But as he eased himself, he felt another twitch again. So, he pulled up and rubbed his face with his hand, groaning. When he slowly opened his eyes, he suddenly felt the air sucked out of him.
Valon’s eyes were wide open.
He tried to talk. But his mouth was dry. His tongue was thick.
Clay burst into tears as he hushed him. He smiled, overjoyed to see him awake. Finally.
He grabbed his hand and brought them to his lips. “I’m right here,” he said, shoving the strands of his hair away from his face.
God. Valon looked like hell. Pale as the ceramic tiles in the room. His eyes sunk deep into his skull. Delete Created with Sketch.
Wakefulness came to Valon in fits and snatches over the next few days. His mind came back online in a rush of activity. One minute he wasn’t aware of anything; the next, his circuits fired again. He didn’t know where he was, and his eyelids were too heavy to open. When he had a look at his body, his eyes widened as worries scored his forehead when he saw his lower abdomen wrapped with bandages.
A chill shot through him. He had forgotten he was shot. Alain had shot him.
Was he dead?
His eyes wandered, scanning his surroundings. He seemed to have grasped consciousness briefly, enough to find out what had happened and ease the fear before yielding the effects of anesthesia, painkillers, and surgery. At times when he woke up, doctors were poking or asking questions that he barely had the strength to answer; nurses bathing, shifting, and checking the fluid running from the bottles, down thin tubes, into his veins.
In the following days, he was finally getting better and better. Antibiotics replaced the intravenous solutions; his stitches with new tapes. He was asleep on and off throughout the day. The worst of the pain was gone, which was a great thing. He hated being doped up.
At times, Clay was there. Of all the faces he saw, he was the clearest. Of all the things he remembered hearing, the words coming out of his mouth were the ones that registered. When he realized he was alive and breathing, finally saw Clay, he pressed his head against the pillow’s plush and closed his eyes with a faint smile. And he remained still, inhaling and exhaling breaths of relief. A relief that he had survived.
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!)