Show Me Your Soul

What happens if life throws you off track? What if someone asks you to trust him, even though you know nothing about him? Would you trust him?
Cecily Martesse is a normal student in her second year at college. Just when the next normal semester starts, she meets Ace - a handsome boy that throws her life upside down. Compelled by his words, his voice, his behavior, she finds herself getting dragged into a world full of secrets, unfaithfulness and deceit.
Just when she hears some devastating news about her brother, she has to face things she never knew she could endure.
A story about love, trust and friendship. Rated Mature for adult language and hot love scenes.

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16. Ace's Past

 

CECILY

 

Nope, it wasn’t better. But fortunately, Ace wasn’t there. The next day, he wasn’t there, either. The next, either.

On Wednesday, even Rayden asked where Ace was, but Eric and Josh just shook their heads. They also didn’t know where he was.

The day went surprisingly well for me. The treatment didn’t take long and I was happy to see a grateful smile on my patient’s face before I went to the cafeteria with the girls. Just when we finally found a table at a good spot, Anna sighed, looking over to Josh and Eric.

“I’m worried about Ace”, she said, her voice full of concern.

“What? Why?”, I asked and felt my stupid heart racing suddenly.

“Because he missed college since last week. I hope he isn’t sick.”

“Oh, Anna, don’t worry about him. I’m sure he is fine and just wanted to have some free time.” But something was bugging me. I shook my head. No, I’m not worried about that jerk-face. He can do whatever he wants, and the fact that he isn’t here is convenient for me. “Let’s forget about him and talk about something else.”

“Yeah, you’re right, Cecily. Do you have plans tonight?”, Cassy asked smiling.

“Yes, actually I do”, I said, jokingly sticking out my tongue. She laughed and asked what I’m going to do.

“Alex is going to meet Paul and his friends and asked me to come with her.” I sounded more excited than I felt on the inside. Alex is probably going to focus entirely on Paul the whole evening and I’m going to look at my drink because I have no idea who Paul’s friends were since he’s very popular. I always see him hanging out with other people, it’s hard to keep up.

“And where are you going?”

“To a new diner not far from here. Alex told me the burgers are very tasty there.”

 

As I finished with my next courses, I drove to Alex’s. She was already excited and changing her outfit about eight times. I advised her to wear a deep blue dress with short sleeves that brought out her chest. I still wore my jeans and a beige blouse but I didn’t want to change.

“Here, at least wear those high heels!”, Alex said bossily, “They’re going to bring your butt even more out and who knows? Maybe a friend of Paul’s is going to be interested in you.” She winked and I rolled my eyes. Oh Alex, that’s one of my least problems! But I couldn’t tell her. I still felt too ashamed to tell anybody about what happened Saturday night, so I just dropped the topic.

 

We arrived there at 9 p.m. and my stomach already started twisting as we entered through the door. The smell of fries and burgers filled my nostrils, making my stomach growl once again. The diner was semi-full but my eyes didn’t spot them in the dim room. But then, Alex saw Paul sitting on the booth chairs across at the other end and waved, glowing from all her face. Oh boy…

The high heels she lent me were quite different from mine and I prayed I won’t land facedown. But the fear of embarrassing myself disappeared the moment I saw Ace sitting next to Paul while Karen linked her arm with his. I was shocked, but mostly speechless. He turned his gaze to me, his eyes wandered brazen slowly along my legs to my waist and then locked with mine. They looked bored as usual when he held my stare and sipped his coke. My tongue burned to ask him where he has been the last days but I collected the last bit of self-respect and pride that was in me to restrain myself. I’m not going to ask him, because I’m not interested!

I don’t know what made me more furious; the fact that he was here or the fact that Karen the skank was touching him. But then, she can touch him as much as she wants, I wouldn’t care.

I zoned out in my fantasy of me choking her or ripping her extensions, that I didn’t even realize what that Terrence or Taylor guy from the frat party was saying. “What?”, I asked him.

He smiled and repeated, “I said, you can sit next to me.”

Oh… Yeah, Alex was already glued next to Paul and whispering something in his ear while giggling.

I nodded and sat next to him, directly opposite Ace.

Paul politely introduced Alex to everyone and for a second, I could see Ace’s eyes looking in Alex’s direction and then back to his coke.

When the waitress came and took our orders, I turned to Terrence/Taylor, “Um, excuse me, but what’s your name?” I hate not knowing the name of the person I have a conversation with. Especially when that person knows mine.

He grinned and stretched out his hand, “I’m Dexter.”

Oh, so much to my brilliant memory… Terrence or Taylor …

I shook his hand and started giggling; it was actually funny that I thought of Terrence and Taylor the whole time.

“What’s so funny?”, he said while chuckling, too.

“I’m sorry, but the whole time, I was so sure your name was either Terrence or Taylor.” Okay, now that I said it out loud, it wasn’t that funny. I stopped laughing and stared at the table. My cheeks were flushed and nobody laughed, just Karen giggled and whispered something in Ace’s ear.

“That’s cute”, he said and put his arm on the back of the booth near to my back.

“You’re Cecily, right? I saw you at the exam ball. You slayed that dancefloor.”

I smiled and looked shyly the other way, until my eyes found Ace’s. His jaw seemed tense.

In that moment, Paul raised his hand and waved to someone. I followed his gaze and saw Aro coming our way. Even though I despise him, right now I could have kissed him because I had absolutely no idea what to answer on that comment Dexter made. At the same time, the waitress came with our food which made me totally ignore the fact that Aro was sitting next to me.

The food was delicious and I forced myself to chew properly before swallowing the bites. The others ordered chicken wings or burgers, too, together with liquor.

No, thanks, I’m done with alcohol for now, so I stayed with a coke. Just like Ace. Apparently, he really doesn’t like to drink…

They talked about college, patients, some football teams their names I have never heard of and Alex and Paul sometimes even talked quietly in Korean, so I was focused on my food.

I looked over to Alex and she smiled happily at me, her eyes asking me mutely, Is everything okay? I nodded and she let her gaze wander around the room. “Oh, they have many security cameras here. How… preventive”, she said and we turned around and saw the little, black ball hanging on each corner of the room.

“Rather like ‘Big Brother’.” That was the first time Ace had said something since we had arrived.

Karen looked up and seemed to beam with delight, “Oh, you watch Big Brother, too? Who do you like the most? Annabelle’s a slut and Victor has to be gay–”

“He is not talking about the show, Karen”, I snapped, louder than I had intended.

Much louder. Suddenly, everyone was looking at me, including Ace. What the hell did I just say? And why was I so sure?

Ace’s eyes were sparkling, his eyebrows arched. And if things weren’t so weird and complicated between us, I would say, he was also… kind of surprised.

“Oh, then what kind of Big Brother did he mean, Cecily?”, she asked sweetly and arched her perfectly plucked eyebrows. I knew she just wanted to embarrass me. I blushed and looked to the side, “There’s a book…”, I said meekly, “From George Orwell.”

Everyone was quiet for a moment, until–

“Nineteen Eighty-four”, Ace said and Karen leaned back, looking disappointed.

“Did you read that in school, Cecily?”, Dexter asked.

I shook my head. “No, I’ve read it in my free time. I like socio-critical books and unfortunately we didn’t read them often in school. Just Romeo and Juliet and that stuff.”

“Romeo and Juliet is very socio-critical”, Ace countered, tracing his lips with his index finger.

“Oh please. But also very cliché and cheesy. Two families that are in a feud with each other, a forbidden love, an unrealistic love story with a dramatic ending that was first of all, obvious from the beginning and second, the climax of Shakespeare’s desperate try to tell us that love is beyond life and death.”

Now I was in my element. “Whereas, in Nineteen Eighty-four, the protagonist tries to find the truth about the Party and how society works which is pretty impressive considering that Orwell depicted in the fifties a future society that is ruled by anonymous authorities. Authorities that have the total control over everything and everyone! Well, and that is almost the society we live in right now.” I inhaled deeply after my little speech.

Everyone looked at me as if I was an alien from another planet but that didn’t matter because I was focused on how the corner of Ace’s mouth lifted almost unnoticeably.

“And what about the love story between Winston and Julia?”

“That wasn’t a love story, they made use of each other. He was more interested in the Party and her body”, I snapped, shrugging my shoulders.

“Maybe because he sensed that Julia was selfish and too scared to fully trust him”, he said, cocking his head to the side.

“That is not true”, I said even louder. “She was strong and willing to risk everything just to find out the truth. Maybe her motives weren’t out of love at the beginning, but if Winston had opened his eyes more and focused on what was important, then she would have loved him with all her heart!”

Karen giggled, digging her claws into Ace’s arm but he just shook her off.

“You’re wrong.”

He really accomplishes to piss me off on every field, even literature!

Folding his palms behind his head, he leaned back. “It is their love for each other that keeps them from breaking down. They had a lot in common, he hated what she hated, she loved what he loved. Together they felt more alive and like themselves than they would if they had stayed alone.”

Okay, now everyone sensed that we were clearly drifting away from the main topic. I stared at Ace’s unfathomable eyes that were staring at mine with the same intensity. I cleared my throat and mumbled something about “Whatever” and concentrated back on my food.

“Whoa… didn’t know you were such a geek, Ace”, Aro said after an awkward silence.

Ace looked at him indifferently and shrugged his shoulders, “I had to read that in school and unfortunately I’m a genius. I learn fast and actually remember the things I’ve learned, too.”

I swallowed. Oh boy, that was kind of ambiguous… and mean.

But either Aro didn’t understand the message or didn’t mind because he replied, “Don’t worry, Cecily is an even bigger geek.” I glared at him and he bumped me lightly with his shoulders, smiling at me. Wow, that was so un-Aro-like… and actually an amicable gesture, so I didn’t mind. “Oh, you little geek, there’s something I wanted to ask you about your notes”, he continued, taking out my clinical chemistry notes from his bag.

I blinked several times, “You brought them with you here?!”

He shrugged his shoulders, “Sure. I was studying them the whole day.” He turned some pages and I prayed that there weren’t any pictures or anime characters drawn although I usually pay attention in those lectures. “Here. I didn’t understand what you meant with this point.”

I read the passage and remembered what I had written back then. I explained it to him and after a couple minutes he got it.

“Wow! You’re really good at that stuff!”, Dexter said impressed. “Maybe you can review that with me. I have the final exam this semester and I totally suck at clinical chemistry.” He chuckled, scratching his head with flushed cheeks.

I smiled and nodded, taking another sip of my coke.

The rest of the evening was more or less unspectacular; they continued their talks about random things while I listened halfheartedly.

Aro went home after a while and Alex wanted to leave with Paul, so she said it’s okay for me to drive her car. When I was about to go, Dexter grabbed lightly my arm, “Do you want to drink some coffee tomorrow before your lectures start? The coffee shop on the Emmertstreet is the best!”

“She hates coffee”, Ace said before I could even realize what Dexter was saying.

Karen looked annoyed to him, “So what? Did you hear what I just said?”

“No.”

She rolled her eyes and said she was going home, heading to the door.

“Oh, okay, no coffee. You like tea in the morning? We can eat an English breakfast”, Dexter asked politely. He was so nice that he didn’t even snap at Ace for interfering or realize his glaring.

“Yes, sounds great”, I said quickly before he could interfere again. Ace closed his mouth and leaned back on the booth.

“Cool! At nine a.m. at ‘Eng’s Touch’? Okay, bye”, he waved and went to his car.

“Next time, you mind your own damn business, got it?”, I snapped when he was out of earshot.

“Sure. If you were honest, I would be quiet. But you can’t even tell a random guy that you’re not interested in having tea with him.” He snorted.

“You don’t have the right to decide anything for me, Ace. You’re not my boyfriend, so stay the hell out of my things. If you’re too frustrated or emotionless to date anybody then have at least a bit selflessness in your soul to let others be happy.” I grabbed my purse and made my way to Alex’ car. I know it was harsh and mean, but I didn’t care. He was like a robot so it was pretty simple saying harsh things to him because I don’t even think he has emotions.

I got inside Alex’s car and started the engine. A little voice deep down in me wanted Ace to follow me but I ignored that stupid thought. It’s better this way, I told myself.

The drive was longer than I had expected; the diner was quite far from our house and the accumulation on the avenues weren’t helpful, either.

When I arrived at home, I laid on my bed staring at the ceiling. I was too exhausted to even put on my pajamas, so I dozed for a bit, Zazzy’s meows waking me up. Apparently, I didn’t doze for a bit; I almost slept two hours and I would have continued but my clothes were getting too uncomfortable. Sighing, I got up, wishing I had put on my pajamas from the start so that I could have fallen asleep until tomorrow.

 

As I went to my closet, my phone started buzzing. I was surprised and my curiosity got the better of me. An unknown number. At 1 a.m.? Who the–?

“Hello?”, I said carefully.

“Cecily!” It was a woman’s voice. And she sounded hysterical.

“Yes? Who’s there?”

She began to cry, “It’s Victoria.”

Holy fucking moly… what the HUH?!

Seconds of me losing my voice passed until it came back. “Victoria, I don’t know where you got this number, but–”

“P-Please come! It’s Ace, he’s… he’s…”

I felt my heart skipping a beat. “What’s going on, Victoria? Where is he?”

“A-At the Beverly Wilshire. R-Room 1146. Please hurry–”

I hung up and before I realized what I was doing, I was already in Alex’s car. My hands were shaking when I started the engine but right now I needed to keep calm.

Every possible scenario of what could have happened to him crossed my mind. What if he’s hurt? Or in danger? Oh my God, what if he hit her?

I drove like an insane and in less than twenty minutes I arrived at the foyer.

I asked the desk clerk breathlessly where Room 1146 was and he told me the way.

It was on the sixth floor, but after taking the elevator, I arrived in less than two minutes.

Victoria was standing at the door, nervously pacing back and forth. I heard the noise of breaking glasses or other shrill things which made her flinch every time.

“What’s going on, Victoria? Where is Ace?”

She looked at me with her teary eyes and pointed at the door. “H-he called your name. I-I didn’t know who else to…”, she said almost peeping. I opened it carefully and found Ace with a bottle of liquor in one hand, and the other throwing a glass through the hotel room. Or rather hotel suite. This room was three or four times bigger than our living room. There was a huge bed, a beautiful couch with a desk, a giant TV and other exquisite furniture.

It was a very luxury room and would have been very neat if the things hadn’t been demolished and pieces of broken glass scattered around the floor.

It was like seeing a wild animal locked in a cage. He was furiously pacing back and forth, kicking the next thing that crossed his path. I must be weary of life if this view wasn’t making me run back home. Instead I walked into the room and closed the door.

Ace turned his bloodshot eyes toward me. His cheeks were red, a black bruise circling his left eye.

“What are you doing here?”, he spat, looking at me more furiously than ever.

“You called my name.” I was calmer than I thought. I took a step toward him.
He emptied the bottle in one gulp and threw it against the wall, “No, I didn’t! Now get out!”, he shouted.

“No!”, I yelled back and took another step until I was standing in front of him. “You’re not going to kick me out again.”

I could smell the liquor from his mouth every time he exhaled, but I didn’t mind. All that mattered was that he was fine – more or less. And not in danger – more or less. His cheeks were flushed, partly because of the alcohol and partly because of his anger.

“Sit down”, I said and ushered him to the only couch that wasn’t too demolished.

He kept glaring at me but his features softened and I was surprised that he obeyed. I turned around and headed to the door. “Where are you going?” His voice sounded alarmed. I glanced at him and suddenly he was looking so untypically vulnerable.

“I’ll be right back. Just going to get something.” I opened the door and saw that Victoria wasn’t there anymore. Whatever. I ran along the hallway to the elevator and went back to the foyer.

“Excuse me, Sir. Do you have a cooling pack? Someone has hurt himself accidently.”

He nodded and two minutes later I was rushing to the elevator, the pack in my hand. On my way, I passed a broom closet and suddenly, a thought crossed my mind. I ran back to the room and found Ace sitting where I had left him.

“You rushed outside just to bring a broom?”

I couldn’t decide whether he was surprised or ridiculing me. I didn’t answer on his comment and gave him the cooling pack. “Put this on your eye.”

Turning around, I started to sweep the broken glass on the floor. I was surprised that no one heard the noise Ace had made but this suite is so fancy, so surely, there must be no one on the floor except us.

“What? You’re not going to ask your typical questions? I’m sure you must be nearly bursting with curiosity”, he snapped.

I just kept sweeping with my back to him. “No, I’m not. If you don’t want to talk about it, it’s fine. I won’t ask any questions. I’m just going to clean up this mess and take away the liquor, knives and everything else you could hurt yourself with and then I’m gone.”

I put the pillows back in their positions, emptied every bottle – one by one. His eyes never left me, I could feel the weight of his gaze on me but I was quiet. I grabbed the plastic bag from the bin and tossed them in there.

“My mother died three years ago today.”

The next bottle slipped through my hand and butchered the carpet. But I barely took notice of that. My legs moved and before I could realize where I was going, I found myself sitting next to him.

“I’m sorry”, I murmured. I had no idea what to say next. No one ever died in my family and I’ve never been to funerals before. Except “I’m sorry for your loss” or “Sincere condolences” I don’t know what else to say.

“And my asshole brother showed up at my place.”

“That’s why you have that black eye.” I didn’t put it as a question because I’m going to keep my word not to ask him anything.

“No”, he said and snorted. “When I arrived, he was already there waiting for me. He said he wanted to see me because that’s what Mom would’ve wanted. That bastard!”, he shouted and stood up. “How dare he speak about Mom to me!” He started pacing back and forth. “As if he knew what she would have wanted or not!”

It was quiet, only Ace’s shoes audible as he kept pacing back and forth.

“Y-You picked a fight with your brother.”

He snorted once again, a sound full of disgust. “No, I didn’t. I bought these bottles and drank in my car. He texted me that he was here. Here! In the same hotel Victoria is staying, what coincidence! ‘Please, Ace, forgive me and talk to me’.”

“You drove while intoxicated…”, I said and couldn’t help myself from raising my voice at the end; as if it was a question.

He glared at me, unblinking. “He was with her in this room, so I’m sorry for acting morally inadequate. Spare me with your judgmental tone.” I was surprised that his meanness didn’t hurt or affect me the bit. It was rather his sarcasm and the fact he maintained his vast vocabulary that were quite impressive given the state he was in.

“I’m not judging, I’m just shocked how stupid you could’ve been to drive in that state just to beat the crap out of your brother. You claimed you had no feelings for Victoria, yet I’ve never seen you being so furious and jealous before!”, I shouted and deep inside I felt a sting in my heart. He was never this jealous because of me. “And all of that just because they were talking in the same room?”

“I do not have any feelings for her! But you don’t know anything about being cheated on and what betray from your own blood feels like!”, he yelled back.

“YES, I KNOW!”, I screamed. “My father cheated on my mother when I was fifteen years old! He had an affair with a woman abroad and nearly left us! Left his whole life, his children and wife just for that woman. So, don’t be so damn arrogant when it is you who doesn’t know anything!”

I breathed heavily and suddenly the room was quiet after our shouts. I just heard some cars honking on the street next to the hotel and our breathings.

What did I just say?

No one, really no one knows about that, not Ruby or Cassy, not even Alex or my siblings. I am crazy! What the hell has gotten into me to tell him that?!

I cleared my throat and grabbed my purse. “I’d better leave now”, I said and headed to the door.

“Please, don’t go.” His tone was calm, his voice suddenly low as he came closer.

“Why should I stay? So you can continue insulting me? Or assuming things that are not true?”

“No”, he leaned forward, hugging me tightly. “But I need you so badly right now that I might break for real if you leave now.” He buried his head in my neck. “Please”, he mumbled. “I’ll give you what you want.”

Every reasonable cell in my body was telling me to get away from him and drive home but there was another force in me that was stopping me from doing so. I can’t leave him. I don’t want to leave him. Even though he was mean and probably still will be tomorrow once he’s sober, but I just couldn’t.

“And what is that?”, I heard me saying.

His face lit up in an instant and he smiled at me innocently. His face was suddenly so much younger. And happy.

“Pleasure”, he said and his face turned from innocent and happy to dirty-minded and lustful. “Since you never felt real pleasure.”

I felt every tiny neck hair standing up and my thighs tighten. I turned around ready to run as fast as I can because I had no idea how to get away from this kind of… temptation. Also, how can he change his moods from nearly demolishing the whole room with anger to being so needy?

But Ace just grabbed my hand and sighed, “Okay, okay. I’ll give you answers. I’ll answer you one question.”

Oh boy, now he found my biggest weakness. He ushered me to the huge, freshly-made bed and took off his shirt.

“W-What are you doing?”, I squeaked, turning around.

“Going to bed. Victoria won’t come back and the room is paid until tomorrow. And I’m not going to sleep in my jeans and t-shirt”, he said and slipped off his jeans. “What do you want to know?”, he asked and glided to the side, leaving some space between him and the edge of the bed.

I turned around and laid sheepishly at the edge of the bed – as far away from him as possible.

So many questions crossed my mind; one is just not enough. I was lost in my thoughts, just when he added, “The offer expires in twenty seconds.”

“That is hardly fair!”

He just smiled boyishly, “Thirteen… twelve… eleven…”

“Okay, okay… um… um…”

“Eight… Seven…. Six…”

“Uh… Where did you get those scars?”

He stopped counting and I looked at his electric eyes. For a moment, I thought he was going to say that he didn’t want to talk about it, but then he said, “My father was an alcoholic and he hit me sometimes.”

My lips parted and I was left speechless. Moments of silence passed and I had no idea what to say. He snorted, “Yeah didn’t expect that, didn’t you?” Although I hate his meanness, the pain in his voice was evident this time.

“Can I… Can I touch them?”

He examined my face and then turned to his side, his back facing me. I ran the tips of my fingers tenderly along the one on the top. “Ace, those aren’t scars from hitting. It seems like–”

“The one on my shoulder blade comes from a bottle of Rum he had smashed on me. My skin was carved with some splints, so I needed some stitches”, he said. “The longest one”, he continued and I let my fingers wander over the rough surface of his skin, “was because he cut me with the broken bottle.” He paused and I swallowed that lump that was in my throat.

“And the one on my waist”, I looked at it and it seemed different from the others. Like a –, “He burned me. I don’t remember exactly with what, I think a hot metal stick.”

I can’t imagine a father doing such a horrible thing to his own son. I can’t and I don’t want to think for a second how I would feel if my father had done something like that to me. What kind of a person would do that? Such a cruel behavior one wouldn’t show toward an animal, yet he showed to his own son? A tear ran down my face. Dammit. I wiped it away but he turned around and saw me crying.

He looked at me wide-eyed, his fingers already brushing my skin as he wiped away the tear. “Don’t.” His voice is surprisingly kind, considering he was just yelling at me a few minutes ago. “It has been ages and it doesn’t hurt anymore.”

I nodded, rubbing my eyes. My gaze locked with his and we stared at each other for a few moments. I tried to consume every detail of his face with my eyes but my index finger seemed to have moved on its own. I was in trance and he didn’t seem to mind my finger tracing a line from his black eye to his angular jaw to his mouth, following the curve of his lips absent-mindedly.

What the hell am I doing?

I withdrew my hand but he just grabbed my fingers and placed them back on his lips, never taking his eyes off me.

“Did you cut yourself?” He looked at the tip of my middle finger.

I frowned, remembering when that happened. “Oh yes, a couple days ago with a Gracey curette.” I pulled my hand back, feeling suddenly sheepish. My hands are pretty rough and callused from the dentistry work. Added to my affinity to always cutting myself with scalers or other pointed instruments.

He just placed my fingers back on his lips, putting each one of them lightly between his teeth. I felt his exhalation even on the tips of my fingers and the fact that his tongue was so close to them sent me a shiver down my spine.

I looked away from his intense stare, noticing the time my watch was telling; it was past two! “Uh… I need to go now”, I said and wanted to get up but he just grabbed my waist, pulling me closer to him.

“No. You promised to stay.”

“Not for the night! And what if Victoria comes back? It’s her suite, isn’t it?”

“No, she won’t come back, I heard her saying to my brother that they’re leaving L.A. tonight.” He grinned. “Please.”

“You’re drunk that’s why you’re pleading. Tomorrow, you’ll be the same asshole as usual. Also, I can’t stay! What are my parents going to think when they won’t find me tomorrow?” Dad isn’t here and Mom would have a cardiac infarction… although she’s leaving tomorrow early, so she won’t see me anyway… No! I can’t stay with him!

He chuckled, “I’m not that drunk anymore, you sobered me up. Relax, surely, they won’t assume that you had sex all night long.”

“WHAT? Yeah, because we won’t have any! Now get away from me, I need to go!”

“If you stay, I’ll tell you about my past.” He grinned wickedly.

Crap. Crap. Crap! My curiosity is of course getting the better of me.

I was quiet for a while until I found myself nodding.

“Your curiosity is your biggest weakness, you know that, right?”, he chuckled.

“Shut up.” I knew he was right.

I looked at him and he scanned me with his eyes from head to toe, leering, “You don’t want to take off your clothes? They seem a little uncomfortable.”

“Are you out of your mind? And lay here naked next to you?”

He arched his eyebrow, “Oh, don’t tell me you’re not wearing any underwear right now, because then, I would–”

“Of course I’m wearing underwear!”, I yelled and he burst out laughing.

“Too bad… well, you can put on my t-shirt. It must be as large and long as a dress for you.”

I grimaced because I had no idea what to counter to that. “No thanks, I’m fine like that.”

He looked disappointed, but leaned back on the bed, murmuring, “Fine.”

He inhaled deeply and continued, “There is actually not much to tell you about my past. My Dad was a violent and alcohol abusive bastard that hit my mother, and me frequently.”

He paused of a few moments and I thought that’s it, but he surprised me by continuing, taking a deep breath.

“My mother was an architect, so she was often not at home, my father was a cop. Everyone liked him at the police station and he had many friends. They didn’t know about his drinking problem or violent behavior; he was a good actor. He… wasn’t always like that.” He frowned, but I didn’t dare to interrupt him while he was remembering his childhood.

“My Mom told me that he had been an alcoholic shortly before they met. He tried to become sober but he relapsed a few times. I guess he definitively wanted to change when he fell in love with my mother. But after a few years, he relapsed again and started to become violent. My brother didn’t get often hurt; he was the quiet, scared son who stuck his nose in his textbooks and didn’t argue with him but my mother got hit because of random things like coming too late from work, hiding his liquor or raising her voice against him. I came in between them sometimes, so that I received the beatings or canings. When I was ten years old, he caused those three scars and I was brought to the hospital. My mother was too scared to tell the doctors what exactly happened, so I shut my mouth, too, saying it had been an accident. But I guess a doctor or nurse had to be worried and sensed that there was something odd about the story, so the next day some people from the CPS came and saw how my mother had been hurt by my father. They arrested him and after the trial, he was sentenced to five years prison.” He snorted and shook his head.

“Ridiculous. As if he would have changed after five years. My mother feared that, too, so she packed our things and we left the small city near New Orleans where I had grown up and we moved to Chicago where she had found a new job at an architecture agency.

One could say that after that bastard was in jail, we had a normal life, but then I made her life miserable. I… wasn’t easy.”

My eyebrows rose but I didn’t make a comment.

“I had a difficult time growing up; parties at weekends, drinking, and driving without a license. I didn’t give a shit. My Mom was sick worrying about me and I nearly drove her crazy each time I brought another girl at home after partying.

She was disappointed in me, I knew that. But she tried to give me the best possibilities and never doubted my potential. I can still hear her voice in my ear when she was laying in the hospital after her cancer was diagnosed, listing me several options about colleges, studies or other apprenticeships. She suggested that I should be a lawyer or automobile engineer because of my hobbies or informatician, architect or do economy studies and that stuff… But I didn’t want to hear any of that. I was mean to her and pushed her away. She was sick and dying and all I did was running away.

Our last conversation ended with me slamming the door after she proposed me to study dentistry. I think she wanted to brighten me up with a little joke to forget how meager and sick she was. But I was just like an immature, little boy and yelled at her. The last thing I said was Spare me your lectures, I don’t want to hear any more of that, and I had gone drinking the whole night. When I came back home, I saw my brother crying on the couch and knew what that meant.”

He stopped, just staring at the ceiling in silence. I summoned all my strength to not start crying. Goose bumps covered my skin when I think for a second losing my mother. Losing her after a fight. A lump rose inside my throat, but I swallowed it down, hearing the rest of his story.

“I didn’t go to the funeral. I’ve never been there and I’m never going there. Surely, she must have hated me and I don’t think she would want me near her grave.

I couldn’t go back in time or take back all those mean things I had said to my mother but the least thing I could do was fulfilling her last wish. I applied to the college in Chicago for dentistry and got in.

It was as I had expected: awful. At the beginning, I didn’t like the people, professors, the courses; simply nothing was fun. But then, I had a few new friends and sometimes the courses awakened my interest in dentistry. College life wasn’t so awful anymore.”

He rubbed his temples, clearing his throat. “Last year, I met Victoria. She was different from the other girls I’ve been with. She was smart, funny and not as narrow-minded as other girls that come from rich families. We had fun… a lot. After a while I was dating her and now I’m second-guessing why I was even with her. Things became tense between Victoria and me. She became different, annoying even and we often fought about things we once had the same opinion about; she was distant. I did ask her what was wrong with her, what’s bugging her but she just said it was because her father was sick. He was dying and that was just her way of dealing with it, I told myself. Her father died last year, and shortly after that she proposed to me. She was grieving and devastated, and I didn’t want to reject her because I know what it feels like to lose a parent. I said yes and to be honest, I thought she was joking and would change her mind the next day or something. But she wasn’t. The next day, she chose her ring and I thought we were… good. But a few days later, I found out that we were everything but good.”

He snorted, his face getting dark. “I wanted to surprise her in our apartment and came earlier from college just to find my brother laying next to her. In our bed. That whole fucking night is like a blur in my head. I just remember Victoria screaming and crying and me punching him until I couldn’t feel my knuckles anymore. They were disgusting me, both. I grabbed my things and stayed at a motel for the rest of the semester.

I didn’t want to be in Chicago anymore. There were only awful memories laying in that city and I asked myself what was holding me in that fucking city, so I applied to college as far as possible. A month later, I was in L.A. and bumped into your car because I hadn’t slept for almost two days”, he said and grinned for the first time since he started talking about his past. “The rest you know.”

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