Chapter 8, Dr. Clay (Cult of Eros #1, Ongoing Update)

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Here’s chapter 8 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.

Despite his worries, Valon kept composing as much as possible, pressing his hands together and sighing. And as he kept sighing while walking in circles and tapping his fingers on his face, one of his colleagues, Frank, noticed how bothered he was and approached him.

When he stood beside Valon, the department head, technically his boss, his sudden presence startled Valon. “Aren’t you excited for today, Sir Val?” Hearing no response from the department head, he assumed he may have disrupted something, so he let out an awkward laugh, feeling embarrassed. He stood there for a few minutes, observing the people entering and the organizers doing the final touches.

But then, standing there with nothing to do but observe began to bore him. So, he flicked his head to his left. It was when he noticed Valon’s heavy, labored breathing, as if he, as the department head, saw a mistake and was about to explode. For a moment, he tried to ignore it. However, when he turned his head to check on Valon again, he couldn’t help but knit his eyebrows, wondering. “Are you okay? You seem to be unusually angry today?” he said with concern.

Valon shook his head. “I’m fine,” he said coldly.

“But you don’t look like,” the colleague paused and looked up to the ceiling, “The air-con is turned on, and the MC is here, too. Everything is in place. So, what’s worrying you now?” Valon gulped before proceeding to swivel his head, and while he kept doing it, his colleague noticed something off from him. “Are you looking for somebody?” he continued but to no response. When Valon heard his colleague’s remark, he froze for some reason, which didn’t take long for him to realize he was right. He was indeed searching for someone. “Who? Our guest? Don’t worry, he’ll come soon,” the colleague paused to check his wristwatch, “Anyway, our guest is probably on the way now. The program will start shortly, so I’ve got to proceed.”

“Alright, go ahead,” Valon said in a commanding tone with a bit of anxiety before letting out another exasperated sigh. But this time, his groans sounded more desperate. He gulped when he saw the organizers adjusting the microphone and preparing for the final adjustments before the guest arrived.

The worse Valon felt when the MC dressed in formal clothes approached the glass podium, placing her cards on top of it. After he kept glancing at the hall entries repeatedly, frustration began to boil inside him, which compelled him to knit his eyebrows and cluck. Though his patience was running out, he continued swallowing the full view of the area with his eyes from where he stood and crossed his arms.

As he was about to give up, he turned and saw Clay in his usual getup without the white gown and crocs this time—a white long-sleeved polo tucked inside his dark slacks. When he noticed the doctor leaving a few buttons towards his neck open, he couldn’t help but stare at his neck and notice the doctor’s smooth and delicate skin.

While he struggled to imagine Clay without his eyeglasses and white gown, his eyes crawled down from his neck to his face until he moved his attention to Clay’s build. In Valon’s eyes, oh, my God, Clay looked tall but fragile. Though he was amazingly neat, his messy look with his dark-colored wavy hair, almost covering half of his face, amplified his discreet, yet oozing sultry aura exuding from his being.

Dissatisfied, Valon became audacious and scanned his features from Clay’s arms down to his pair of black, shiny shoes. He didn’t stop until Clay stood closer to him and noticed another small detail about this attractive man—a piece of silver earring with a triangle symbol made of the same material pierced on his right ear.

Then, Clay waved his hand and smiled awkwardly. “Hi,” he said in a panicky baritone.

“Hi, I’m glad to see you here, Doc,” he said without knowing how he began sucking Clay’s mix of fruity and vanilla scent at that distance.

“Am I late?” Clay asked while he kept pulling his sleeves up to his elbow, facing the stage where the event occurred.

“Yes, the program began an hour ago, Doc.”

He clucked. “Stop calling me Doc, will you?”

“How should I call you then?”

“Clay is fine.”

Valon flashed a smile and nodded. “Alright. You can call me Valon or Val, whatever you want,” he paused and stared at Clay, “It’s nice to see you here, though,” he added, feeling a little bit awkward, still pondering about what he just did. “Anyway, why were you late?”

“Sorry, I got lost,” he paused to cluck and sigh, “I didn’t know the venue was this exclusive. I had to ask the security guards to tell me where this is.”

“I told you so. This event is exclusive to only a few people who knew about this, under the blessing of the higher-ups.”

“You know, it wasn’t long ago since the stampede. How come they allow you to organize events like this?”

Valon hummed, expressing his suspicion, which made Clay wonder. “That one is for me, Clay. I understand you like the artist, but that conversation belongs to me. Do I need to answer that?”

Clay jolted and widened his eyes, showing a sudden half-sheepish smile and uneasiness. “I know this is a university event. But you said we’re colleagues. Was I crossing the line?”

Valon flashed a smile in awe of what Clay had just told him and shook his head. “No. Not in the least.”

“So, what’s with your reaction?” Clay said, which made Valon a broader smile, gesturing to invite him for a walk. “What’s with that smile?”

Valon shook his head again. “Nothing. In fact, I was quite amazed to hear you asking that,” he said while strolling beside Clay and observing the doctor’s glow as he began looking around the art displayed in frames hanging on the wall—portraits of real people from different sizes, origins, and walks of life becoming human canvases, posing with their painted faces down to their naked bodies and their toes as if they became the walking art masterpieces.

“Why do you say so?” Clay asked.

“I like you being curious about things. Your innocence is attractive,” he said when they reached the center aisle. He noticed how focused Clay was, fascinated by what he was seeing. Then, he looked in the same direction and saw what caught Clay’s attention.

In contrast to those framed photographs, it was a sizable abstract-themed sculpture of two guys fashioned of dark stained wood. A carved silhouette of a guy stooping down in front of another silhouette of a man, arching, facing the same as the one in front of him, could be seen underneath the decorations that covered the object. His hips rubbed up on the buttocks of the man in front of him, arching backward and his face upward. The painted cherubims, also intricately carved out of wood, were positioned above this enormous wooden piece, surrounding it with a chandelier. They smiled broadly and winked at the two guys below them, holding trumpets and sex toys to indicate their joy.

“You really have an eye for things, Clay,” Valon said, almost whispering close to Clay’s ears.

Upon saying so, Clay felt his body shuddering as the line reminded him of what Alain had told him yesterday. But with Valon’s voice, it felt different for him. Unlike Alain’s, it sounded sexy, unfamiliar, and disturbing to him. It took him a moment to blink before he turned his head with his flushed face and his earlobes turning scarlet.

While Valon noticed the doctor’s stare, he averted his gaze back to the art piece where they both stood near and observed. “This one is his latest work,” he paused and let out a soft chuckle, “That’s why I said what I said. Because it’s true you truly have an eye for things.”

“What do you mean by that?” Clay said with anticipation, twitching his eyebrows. However, it surprised him more when Valon went on explaining, seemingly unbothered.

“Among his collection, we displayed here. Obviously, this was the most logistically challenging piece we’ve had. As you can see, due to its controversial nature, we decided to keep this event as exclusive as possible in partnership with the artist’s company. Knowing you like him, I invited you so you won’t miss this once-in-a-lifetime event.”

Clay swallowed and attempted to calm his racing fear as he listened to Valon’s explanation. It gets worse when he considers how he erred in assuming Valon’s motives. He tried to focus on what Valon was saying, but his gaze was drawn to the artist’s creation. For whatever reason, in his perspective, it was bringing about catharsis. He was aware that, on the surface, he made firm decisions in most areas of his life. But the more he stared at the enormous object before him, the more the unsettling, strange, and uncomfortable feeling grew inside him. That it was consuming him only made him more perplexed. Even though he didn’t comprehend it, he found it incredibly satisfying and emotionally liberating to observe the artist’s work up close.

“Have you been to places like this?” Valon asked.

“I’ve been to many art galleries locally and abroad, but not this.”

“So, how do you like it here?” Valon asked in his baritone, which got Clay to freeze again. As he kept looking at Clay, he noticed the doctor was uneasy. So, he pressed his hand, squeezing his shoulder, wishing it would help. “Are you okay?”

Clay nodded and laughed awkwardly, though his eyes tailed Valon’s hand pulling away. “Yeah, I’m okay,” he said, walking, following Valon’s trail.

“By the way, how come you like this artist? Do you mind sharing me a little bit?”

“Well,” Clay paused to clear his throat and loosen a bit, “I was still a graduating student when I saw the artist’s work at the library. It was a group project, and I was only researching, scrambling through pages of those thick and large books, when I found one of his works. So, it started that way, and when I kept following him, I became fond of him.”

“I see.”

“How about you?” Clay asked.

Before he thought of answering Clay’s question, he paused from walking and looked at Clay for a second. Then, he smiled and shook his head, clucking. “I’m sorry. Got distracted,” he said that putting Clay in a sudden discomfort.

“Oh, okay,” he paused to stare at Valon before he shook his head, dismissing himself, “Nevermind,” he added, only to find Valon remained still where he stood.

“Don’t worry. I’m listening.”

“Why? Is there something wrong?”

“No, I’m honestly struggling to get used to your look.”

“Don’t I look okay?”

“No. You look great. I am just not used to seeing you without your glasses and white gown. And the last time I saw you wearing formal attire, it was too chaotic to remain cool and objective. But right now, you look awesome… and sexy.”

That made Clay chuckle and flush, so he looked in the opposite direction to avoid Valon’s gaze. It took him a while to settle with himself, and when he was calmer, he mustered enough confidence to answer his stare. “Thank you. I’ve got to remove my glasses when I’m outside the hospital. So, I’m wearing contact lenses now to see things.”

“Why do you have to change, Clay?”

“I can’t be seen wearing them when I’m here. What else could I say?” he said awkwardly and began to take a few steps away.

Valon tapped his arm before inviting him to walk again and wander to see more of the collection. “Are you worried somebody would find you here?”

“Honestly?”

“Yeah, honestly.”

“Yeah. I am.” If so, please, God, I hope it will not be Liz.

“Don’t worry. Trust me. You look great. Besides, you’re here for a reason.”

“What reason are we talking about?”

“Only those who appreciate and know how to love art would like to come here. Who would want to despise someone for liking it, right?”

Liz? “I don’t know. I can’t speak for everybody,” Clay said.

“I won’t,” Valon said nonchalantly, boring Clay with his piercing stare.

“What do you mean you won’t?”

“Why would I despise you for liking this? I would love you more, Clay,” Valon said when they reached the stage. There, he saw the same colleague earlier, snapping his fingers to catch Valon’s attention. Realizing the need, he turned to Clay. “Hey, feel free to roam around, Clay. I’ve got to attend to this.”

Clay nodded. “Sure. Go on. Don’t mind me here.”

“Thanks,” he said, tapping Clay’s arm as he headed to his colleague and walked backstage. “Don’t worry. I’ll get back to you.”

“Alright,” Clay answered. Yeah, who would want to hate him for having artistic taste?He thought.

While alone, he went on observing more of the artist’s works in silence, though he smiled and said a few “hi, hellos” and “yes” to other guests, who spoke a bit to him. After a while, he sat in one of the audience’s empty seats and watched the program. Luckily, he was on time when he saw the artist entering the stage.

Clay’s face glowed when he saw the artist in real life while clapping his hands after the introduction. Then, he crossed his legs, pressing his elbow on top of it with his face on his clenched fit when he listened to the artist’s interview.

“Before we end this interview, I’d like to ask an interesting question from one of our audience,” the MC announced, which surprised Clay.

“Sure,” the artist replied, dragging his hips forward and leaning forward, expecting the question.

“This is about your latest work.”

“Yes, that’s interesting,” the artist said, nodding.

“One of our audiences wants to ask you, what’s your inspiration behind this work?”

While the artist leaned against his seat and hummed, Clay felt unprepared and began to feel more uneasy upon hearing the question. His breathing was deeper and more labored, and his throat began to parch, so he kept gulping as he waited for the artist to answer the question. Though the air-conditioning was on, he was damped with cold sweat, which was the last thing he noticed, which woke his senses when he felt cold sweat covering his entire body.

“Humans are sexual beings. Regardless of how we label ourselves and where we came from, we are carnal, and sex is part of our primal need. Lust is part of being alive. It’s part of our physiological needs, like hunger and thirst. When we feel hungry, we eat. If thirsty, we drink. So when we feel lust, why can’t we love to fuck?” he paused when loud laughter filled the room, and when everyone calmed down, he continued, “It isn’t selfish to gratify yourself sexually, just as sharing meals with others. But if you feel sexually trapped within yourself, always remember there’s nothing wrong with you. If you feel like you want to explore deeper about yourself, it’s better to allow it. No matter how much you resist, your subconscious will lead you to it. And you don’t want this to happen to you. When this happens, you’ll wake up, see yourself doing it, and then regret it because you weren’t aware of it.”

“So, on behalf of the audience, who asked this question, what will be the best thing to do if they’re in the same situation right now?”

“Simple. Before you lead yourself to this kind of trouble, it’s better to acknowledge this part of yourself. It’s time to own your sex and acknowledge your fantasies rather than hide them in plain sight. Though sex is part of us, it’s all over our DNAs. It can kill us, too, because this exact thing is a pleasure and a monster that would devour your soul without knowing it. It’s best to acknowledge and see how potent, powerful, life-changing, and liberating it is with your eyes open because not everyone can do it.”

“Alright, that was a wonderful and interesting answer,” MC said, standing up, facing the audience, and inviting applause. “Thank you. Felix Fabian, everyone!”

Everybody in the audience stood and raised their arms, clapping for the wonderful event that ended safely. Seeing the people walking away, Clay stood along with other guests as they headed towards the gallery and began roaming around. The artist was with them this time, wandering and observing each piece displayed.

As soon as he saw many of them had booklets on hand, he thought it would be nice to have one, too. At least he could review the information while he continued roaming around. Determined, he began searching for the stand where these booklets could be found. However, he sighed when he found the empty table with a printed label on a copy paper that said, “Get your booklet here.” When he stood there, he swiveled his head to look around and wanted to ask, but nobody of Valon’s staff was there.

Feeling defeated, he looked around to see if he could find Valon. But, as he kept walking around, he checked his wristwatch and learned it was already past six in the evening. Then, he felt his phone, which he tucked inside his pants pockets, vibrating. He took the device and saw Elizabeth calling as it displayed on the screen. So, he swiped it with his finger to answer her call. “Hey, Love.”

“Where are you now?”

Clay paused as he glanced at the surroundings, seeing only the artist’s eye-catching and gut-wrenching art exhibited. “I’m still at work.”

“Are you coming tonight, Love?” she said slowly, worriedly.

“Don’t worry. I’ll be there.”

“Are you sure about this?”

Clay nodded and shut his eyes as if he was carefully choosing the right words to express to her. “Sure, there’s nothing we should be worried about,” he paused and checked his wristwatch again, “I’m heading home anyway.”

“Alright. I’ll see you there. Mom and dad would be there waiting for us both.”

“Alright.”

“Love you,” she said.

He paused and sighed with his eyes shut. “Me, too, Love,” he said, bearing a sudden pressure in his chest, and hung up the phone call.

No. It wasn’t a heart attack, but it felt like that.

When he couldn’t find Valon, he returned and walked along with the exiting guests and a few students in uniforms.

However, before entering his car, he paused when he heard Valon screaming. So, he pulled himself and looked to his left and saw him running towards him, waving a booklet in his hand.

“I think I forgot to give you this,” he said, panting while handing the booklet to Clay. “I’m sorry.”

Realizing the effort, Clay gave him a kind smile as he took it. “It’s okay. You don’t have to do this.”

“No, didn’t I say I’ll get back to you earlier? Besides, all guests should have this. My bad.”

“It’s okay. Thank you,” he said, looking away to grab his car key, and was about to press the button when he heard Valon wanting to speak more. “Is something the matter?”

Valon stared at him for a moment before shaking his head. “Nothing. I’m happy to see you today, Clay,” he said, which stung Clay’s heart. At that moment, he could feel his chest constrict. However, he wasn’t prepared for the next one. “But I hope this won’t be the last.”

Clay froze, leading to both of them exchanging gazes. Then, he gulped and looked away, letting out a soft sigh. He flicked his head down before he looked at Valon, smiling. “Why would you want to see me more?”

“I’ve never been this happy sharing what I love with someone,” Valon said, which stung Clay’s heart even more. Sharing things you love with someone? Fucking shit. “Anyway, got to get back,” he added with a broader smile, waving his hand before heading back to the event area.

While Valon walked back in significant strides, Clay pressed his fingers on the booklet he had received, which said Felix Fabian’s “Cult of Eros #1 Collection.” Then, he leaned against his car, flipping the pages and reading the content from page one. Each page described the artist’s background, his life story before proceeding to show photos of his latest pieces and the background stories for each.

Then, when he reached the few pages at the end, he jolted when his eyes landed on the photo of the artist’s latest piece—the same piece Valon described as the most controversial in the collection. His eyes widened, feeling his chest constrict when he recalled Valon saying, You really have an eye for things, Clay.

To ease himself, he kept tapping the booklet on his hand until feeling satisfied. He pulled forward to stand and looked at the entry with only a few people coming out before jumping into the car and driving away.


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 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!

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. 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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