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Chapter 8, Dangerous Roommate (Cult of Eros #2, Ongoing Update)

Dangerous Roommate Novel by M. Gaspary Featured Image - Free Chapters
Here’s chapter 8 of the new book, “Dangerous Roommate.” Enjoy reading. Let me know your thoughts about this chapter in the comment section below.

“I don’t think you’re doing a great job, Mr. Zambrano,” Stefan announced. He planted his elbow on the table with his flexed index fingers against his lip and his thumb on his chin. He gave Frank a disinterested look for a minute, relishing the moment to watch how tensed the man was.

“How could you say so?”

Stefan moved his attention to the papers he had near him. He picked one page to the next, flipping them according to the page numbers. When he reached the last page, he shook his head and clucked. “This is inexcusable. I’m quite disappointed, to be honest.”

“Why?” Frank asked in his edgy voice.

“You’re Frank Zambrano. You’re a big name. Here and abroad.” Stefan paused. His face turned sour as he expelled a short, frustrated groan. “Is this all you’ve got? No wonder you can’t get anybody to sponsor this.” He scoffed and let out an insulting giggle, flashing a smug on his face. He shifted his weight on both elbows, pressed on the table, and threaded his fingers. He bit his lower lip and tossed Frank a glance. “Compared to what you’ve done before, you’re losing your Medusa’s touch.”

“What’s wrong with the plan? We’ve already come up with several ideas, and so far, this is the best one we’ve got. Isn’t it good enough for you?” Frank asked in his gentle manner, though he felt the other way around. He curled his fists until his knuckles grew white in an attempt to keep his composure intact.

“And you’re saying this is your best?” he asked. Sarcasm was loud and clear.

“Yes,” Frank stuttered. “Something wrong?” When Stefan remained unbothered and refused to say anything, he slammed his palms on the table. Yet, it wasn’t enough to get any reaction from this man.

He didn’t know what else to do. He felt lots of things—annoyed by the fact that all he did was watch him struggling without offering to help. “But you said you’ll help me fix it. So, you might as well provide me with some constructive feedback. That will be more useful than just staring at me like I’m some senseless, ignorant fool.” He was near tears by the time he had finished the sentence. The sheer force of will kept him from breaking down.

Stefan rose from his seat and walked in his direction with both hands tucked in his pockets. “You better watch your mouth! Though people here look up to you, remember, you’re talking to me. You’re right. You’re a senseless, ignorant fool.” He paused and cocked an eyebrow. “Listen. I don’t need to be a leader of something to achieve anything. But I’m not here to do that. Why? Because you’re the department head. You’re the person in charge. This is your job, not mine.”

“Then, why are you here for?”

Stefan didn’t say anything at first. But he could feel the acceleration of his pulse as he pressed an index finger on his chest. “I just like people to do what I want, and I don’t think I need to remind you of what’s at stake here,” he said in a grim voice and turned his back as he was about to leave the room. But before he could do so, he stopped in his tracks when Frank spoke.

“You’ll never understand how I feel because I worked so hard to achieve what I have now. So, if you think I’m only after your money and don’t care about the value of things, better take your money back. I don’t need it.”

That made Stefan turn and look at him. “I don’t care. As if you have a choice.” He snorted and walked out of the meeting room without looking back, leaving Frank alone—in despair.

“You’re buying stuff for your wife?” Len asked, giving him an awkward laugh, thinking it would ease the tension between them. When he saw Frank nod, he stretched out a wider smile, though concern was obvious in his eyes. “That’s so sweet of you. But don’t you think it’s too much?”

“You’re blind for the obvious,” Frank said as he walked beside Len, keeping his attention on the dresses on the aisle. Although he was used to seeing him buying nice clothes for his wife, he thought it was a bit odd to do the same after the separation. However, underneath the unusual gesture, he also understood that Frank was a loving husband with a habit hard to break.

“What do you mean?” he asked, but Frank was tight-lipped.

Though he was used to the man’s mellow approach to life and his silence as a colleague, he thought he had noticed something had changed in him. Unlike most days, Frank looked more gloomy, losing the usual shine he always had. Knowing what had happened to his life lately, and with Stefan on the radar, he couldn’t help but be protective of him.

While Frank kept his mouth shut most of the time, Len was just there, tailing him wherever he went. As he kept watching him, he pictured him living the life he deserved. For him, Frank had been a great colleague, and as an artist, he was an inspiration. He was a role model. When he studied Fine Arts, a young scholar at San Carlos, Frank was a young professor. Fresh graduate. Though their interactions were brief and intentional, Len was content with the feeling he had earned from him. Being a student of such a promising man was enough of a privilege.

Now, he felt proud of being there, standing beside the same man he had admired. Although he kept his hands busy with the hangers as though he was choosing while eyeing him, at the back of his mind, he felt deeply worried and wondered what had happened that led to Frank’s artistic demise.

Unlike his college days, he had never heard him talking about his next project nor feeling the same passion for his art as he used to. Even during their meetings, Frank sounded and decided things more like a businessman than a creative. He had known his presence was sublime back then, but in the past few years, that same presence was slowly fading away as he looked more tensed, too uptight.

That same feeling started to eat him inside. A feeling of a deep-rooted concern for his maestro. Though he had no idea how this would be, he thought he had to do something for him. Frank had given him a second chance at life he hadn’t asked for, saving him from the miserable youth he was once in. Had he never met this man in his early adulthood, he would have never thought this life he had been living right now was possible.

Without a home, he had found himself astray, living in the streets, enjoying the life of getting highs, parties, and women. The dark side of the alley was the only life he knew, and hanging out with the gangs was his life’s mission. He thought he belonged there because it was familiar, and he felt a sense of community, a home he never had. Violence was his nickname, and he strove to build a name and achieve a leadership he thought was an ambitious goal.

But God was mischievous, and so does the universe, too playful to have him live a boring life. So, when an unexpected life-changing event happened, it kept him wondering how it would have been if Frank hadn’t found him. As a troubled young man, he had asked himself the same question since he had met him that night.

Until now, he had carried this profound sense of responsibility in his life. He tried his best to create a new, positive chapter, leaving the dark past he once had. Years later, Len had promised himself to carry this deep-seated sense of obligation to ensure his maestro was safe and sound, happy and successful. Because without him, he wouldn’t be the Len people know now.

He wouldn’t have felt proud of becoming part of this community of artists whose passion exudes time and space. He wouldn’t have found love for life and hope for a better future, a zest to do the same for other young people who were just as trapped as he did. Just like Frank, he wanted to share his love for art and teach them how it had saved his life.

However, this thought came to a halt when he moved his attention to him. Even though he stood a few meters away from him, even though his face was covered by various women’s apparel hanging above him, Len could see the despair in his eyes and sorrow spilling all over his face.

Lately, he could feel the distance that felt like an imaginary fortress Frank had built, thinking it was the best way to guard himself against whatever had bothered him. Perhaps, it was his divorce or the upcoming art exhibition.

Or maybe because of Stefan.

The moment his name popped out in his head, it didn’t take long for him to feel his heart sinking. To his knowledge, Stefan wouldn’t just do something that outrageous without any purpose at all. He had known his brother to act with sense. Unless he understood anything and everything, he wouldn’t do something by impulse. With these considered, he knew his brother was up for something.

While he kept his eyes on Frank, his eyes sharpened as tangles of images coalesced, carrying with them the anxieties and fears he had for the man. And it kept going until Frank looked at him and caught him staring at him.

“Something wrong?” Frank asked.

Len was quick to shift the look in his eyes and arched both eyebrows. His face glowed as he smiled and shook his head. “Nothing,” he said. But in his mind, something became crystal clear. No matter what happens, he would do everything to keep Frank safe, even if it meant welcoming the old life he had left behind.

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 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. Read “Dr. Clay” (Cult of Eros #1)
  3. Check out my latest book, “Non-Native Speakers Only.”
  4. Find more writing tips on my website (i.e., content writing, freelance writing, copywriting, self-publishing, novel writing, and many more!)
  5. Subscribe to my Substack newsletter.

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