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  1. Antonio furiously walked to Travis, standing right in front of him. He was so mad that he felt like he was gonna fly. His fists were clenched and his eyes were so red that one would have thought he was from smoking weed or something. He looked straight at the boy and could tell that he looked really scared. Antonio, at that very moment didn’t see Travis anymore. All he saw was a scared-looking Praveen and it made him so mad that he felt like punching something. “What are you doing here?” He snarled, breathing harshly. “Who the fuck told you to come to my house? Isn’t it enough that I have to put up with you at my company?” But all Travis did was stare at the angry-looking man, getting flashbacks of the previous encounter with him. The guy had kissed him and all that made him scared and reminded him of his pain. But Antonio didn’t remember that at all. He didn’t wanna do it. And when he saw Travis being silent, he got really upset. “Why are you here?” He said, his voice low but really cold. “Tell me, what are you doing here?” He yelled. Granny lost the smile on her face, getting a bit scared with the way her grandson was behaving with her angel. Travis stared at him without even feeling any form of fear. He rather just got angry. “I forgot my phone, that’s why I came back.” He said softly, dropping his eyes slightly to the floor. Antonio was confused at Travis’ words. He didn’t fucking understand what he meant by that. He tried to speak but… “Antonio!” Granny yelled, clenching on her wheelchair. “Why are you talking like that to him? He’s my angel!” Antonio felt his heart pound so deep in his chest that he felt like he was about to have a heart attack. His breaths seized and he glanced at granny and then at Travis. When he looked at the boy, he fumed and groaned angrily. Celine had her hands covering her mouth as she looked at Travis. She remembered her encounter with him a few hours back and what she had felt. She cried even more. The others were just as shocked and most of them were angry. Emilia stood still, trying to process what was going on. ‘The boy has agreed!’ The doctor’s voice rang in Antonio’s heard. ‘He has some pre-conditions.’ He couldn’t believe he had just been fooled. Antonio felt tears of anger in his eyes but he suppressed them. His hatred for Praveen just went beyond borders. He didn’t know what he felt anymore. “Take granny inside!” He ordered, trying to speak in a normal voice. But it was just so hard. “Right now!” Celine quickly started taking granny away from the living room. “Ant… Antonio,” granny yelled. “Don’t you dare hurt my angel? I’ll never forgive you. He came to take me away. You can’t take care of me. Leave him alone or I’ll spank you.” But Antonio was too mad to even listen to her. After granny left, he moved even closer to the boy, staring at him like the most disgusting thing he’d ever seen. “We aren’t together, remember?” He said hoarsely, his fists clenching while he stared at Travis like he wanted to punch him. “There’s no affiliation.” He yelled, stamping his foot on the ground. “You’ve already left this house. Why did you return? Answer me!” He snapped, pointing his finger angrily at the beautiful boy. “What kind of games are you playing? Granny considers you to be an angel. I don’t want to insult you in her presence. She believes that you…” He paused and gave a mocking chuckle. “…you are her savior. You can heal her! But she has no idea that you weren’t there for your family, the people that loved you, and that you are nothing but a cheater, a betrayer, and a whore!” “Watch what you say to me!” Travis snapped, giving the guy the angriest look he’d ever given anyone. He was staring at him like he wanted to slap him. The guy was shocked, totally shocked. “I am not who you think I am and I won’t let you insult me. I didn’t come to get anything from you or your family.” He warned. “I am not interested in knowing what you think of me and how bad it is.” He paused and got serious. “I came here since granny is unwell. Believe me, I don’t want to come anywhere near you, Mr. Gonzalez!” Then he laughed in mock, getting even closer. “I guess I am unlucky. I can’t help seeing you!” “I am the unlucky one!” He yelled, his voice filling the entire house. “My grandmother believes you’ll heal her but…” He pointed angrily at Travis. “…from now on, I won’t let you anywhere near her. I’ll take care of her, personally…” “Really, Antonio?” Travis laughed bitterly and then got serious. “Will you take care of her?” He folded his arms on his chest. “You can’t even take care of yourself. How can you tend to your grandmother or anyone else?” He was shocked. He couldn’t believe what he’d just heard from someone so quiet in the past. It was all so difficult for him to accept. He furiously walked closer and pointed his shaky finger in Travis’ face, breathing like a wounded warrior. “I didn’t ask for your fucking help and I didn’t even ask you to come here!” He roared, getting dangerously closer. Travis wasn’t scared. “Do you want to prove that I am useless and you’re perfect? That I can’t handle anything? I can’t even take care of my grandmother!” He was upset that his breaths sounded like a breathing monster in a cave. “Antonio, please!” Ethan tried to stop him but…. “What is it?” He snapped, glancing at his best friend. “My blood boils whenever I see him!” “Your blood boils due to what you did!” Travis enraged. “It’s not my fault that I look like your ex-husband and that he left you and I am sure it’s not even his fault. Don’t blame others and make yourself right! I am pretty sure you were a bad son, a bad brother, and certainly not….” He paused, rolling his eyes. He couldn’t say what he wanted to say. “You probably never wanted to be a good person. Whenever anything good comes to you… you drive it away and run away from it. Your grandmother said so to you today. You can’t take care of her. You’re probably just the same man you were years ago. Your ego and arrogance have continued to persist. How can you take care of your grandmother?” He asked, his voice rising. Antonio clenched his teeth. “You imagine that I can’t take care of her but listen…” “My feelings or thoughts should not matter to you.” He said harshly. “You should be thanking me because, despite all the insults you’ve rained on me, I am still here trying to help you. And if you’re so smart then tell me something?” He paused and got even closer. “Despite the situation, granny is in, why do you have sharp instruments in her room?” Antonio looked away. “Answer me!” But Antonio was still quiet. “These patients have to be taken care of like kids. They need family more than comfort and money. While you can’t find time out from obsessing over yourself, your ego and arrogance have continued to persist. How care you take care of your grandmother? I won’t allow granny to stay like that. I will ensure that she is back to being self-reliant and she won’t stay here until I can do that.” He said in a harsh tone surprising the guy and everyone else in that room. “I will take her to my house, find the nurses for her, and make sure that she is healed.” Travis started going in but the guy blocked him. “She won’t…” “Stop me if you dare!” Travis warned, breathing sharply. Then he got even closer. “If you don’t let me take her, I will sue you for criminal negligence. You’re a very powerful man, Mr. Gonzalez and you can get out of this easily but don’t forget quickly that I am Travis Marasigan and you don’t know what I can do also.” He looked at Travis, raising his finger while a tear of anger went down his cheek. He was so mad. “You’ll regret this, Travis!” “I’m already regretting so many things right now,” Travis said hoarsely. He then rudely pushed the guy out of the way and entered, feeling a cool breeze hit him in the face. This was so much for him and he felt totally out of place and he was really scared, nervous and… every bad thing was coming back to him. Walking inside the mansion, Travis could feel all eyes on him but he didn’t even look at anyone one bit. He didn’t even care about what Antonio thought about him or from what he had done, Antonio had found out he was Praveen. All he knew was that he fixed a huge problem by getting himself into another. Travis went to granny’s room and luckily, she was with her nurse. He took her without anything else, came back to the living room, and found Antonio waiting in the living room while moving from side to side like a wounded buffalo. All eyes were on him and he could see just how confused and angry they were. The most confused was Paul. He had no idea what was going on. “If you take my grandmother, Travis, I will make you regret it!” Antonio warned, angrily pointing at him. “I swear, you’ll regret ever coming back to this city. Whether Travis or Praveen, I’ll make you pay because…” “Your threats do not matter to me, Antonio!” Travis retaliated. “It doesn’t matter whether I am Praveen or Travis. You hate both and you’re a free man. But just know that I am a fire that cannot be extinguished.” He gave a mocking smile. “I told you that already. I am simply wasting time talking to you.” Travis started going out but… “Travis!” Antonio quickly pulled his arm. But Travis started falling to the floor and he quickly gripped Antonio’s hand and both of them fell to the floor together. Antonio fell right on top of Travis and he found himself staring into the most beautiful eyes he’d ever had the privilege of staring into. He was hooked. For a second, everything around Antonio disappeared including his anger, replaced by a joy that he had been longing for…. His breaths seized and his heart missed a beat and then started pounding rhythmically… his hormones instantly got out of control and he found himself getting hot… his eyes scanned Travis’ face and shit, he couldn’t help but admire Travis’ beauty…. The same was happening with Travis. A myriad of emotions had taken control of him, his mind, and his heart. He couldn’t even think clearly. Antonio found himself getting closer and closer until their noses touched and brushed on each other. He slightly closed his eyes but… “Get off me!” Travis said harshly, pushing the guy off him. Antonio came back to his senses and he quickly got up. Travis too got up and both of them looked at each other angrily. Travis shook his head and started getting granny out of there. “Are you gonna let him take mother?” Emma asked Antonio angrily. “He’s gonna….” But she didn’t even finish her sentence. Antonio was already storming out of there, going upstairs. He left the entire family in shock and went upstairs and straight to his room. He locked the door and once he reached there, he went straight to the bed. “Fuck!” He swore, furiously gripping the beddings. He pulled on them and threw all of them to the floor. “Fuck! I hate you so much, Travis. I hate you!” He screamed, his voice filling the entire room. “I hate you so much!” He felt like he was going insane. He threw everything he could get his hands on in that room, clothes, cups, decors, and even flowers. He was so mad. He went to the bathroom and washed his face angrily before he stared himself in the mirror. But when he looked in the huge mirror, there was someone else there, someone that scared the shit out of him. It was him but he was dressed differently in a black t-shirt with a band around his head. He looked really happy and he was smiling. Even his hair looked different, longer. Antonio felt his heart pound when he saw that person, the past him. He was scared. Antonio rubbed his face and looked in the mirror but the person was still there. He gasped sharply, taking a step back. “What the…” “Why are you so upset, Antonio?” The guy in the mirror asked, still smiling. “You’ve hated Praveen bitterly for the past six years. Even when you saw Travis for the first time, you diverted that hatred to him and all because he shares the same face with Praveen.” The guy placed his hand on his chin. “Why did dancing with him and kissing him the other night put you out of sorts? Even today, just a few minutes back when you fell on top of him.” Antonio shook his head angrily. “It’s not true.” The guy laughed mockingly. “Really? So, tell me. Do you hate him? Are you sure you just don’t hate yourself instead?” “Why the fuck should I hate myself?” He chuckled bitterly, fighting his tears. “He cheated on me. He got fucked by that… that…” Antonio couldn’t even say the word. “… I am the one that was hurt, right here!” He hit his chest hard. “And I will make him feel that pain, I swear. I don’t care about him being Travis but he’ll regret everything he has ever done to me, even taking granny today.” The reflection laughed, raising an eyebrow. “Okay, fine! He betrayed you. He left you heartbroken but what about you?” The reflection winked. “Me?” Antonio roared, pointing at himself. “What did I do?” “You weren’t exactly faithful when he was married to you.” He said, still wearing a smile. “You were still with Bruce and…” “But I…” “Trying to be defensive, huh?” “Shut the fuck up!” Antonio gripped his hair, pulling on it. He felt like he was gonna pass out from the pain and anger he felt. “I was the one that was hurt and nothing can be compared to that. I was ready to give up everything for him. I was ready to love him but what did he fucking do. He broke my heart and I thought I was gonna recover but it still hurts so don’t you dare compare me to him.” He furiously raised his face to look into the mirror but the person he had been talking to a few seconds back was no longer there. All he saw was just an angry-looking man staring back at him. Fuck, it was just too much. He stormed out of the bathroom, banging the door like he was going insane. *** “I can’t believe he had the guts to come to our house and get my mother!” Emma raged, groaning like an old lady on her death bed. “I mean, wasn’t entering our company enough? We’re having so many problems because of that boy? Who does he think he is? That boy is definitely up to something, I swear. And believe me, it’s something really bad.” Emilia was seated with her face between her palms, trying to get her head straight. The person she had seen was not Praveen. He might have looked like him but he wasn’t him. The way he was talking to Antonio, arguing with him, and even answering back, she was sure that Praveen wouldn’t do that. But why would he return suddenly in her son’s life? “But aunt, what if he was just trying to help out?” Celine asked softly. “You know that granny hasn’t been doing well and after six long years, she finally got comfortable with him and she’s doing well.” “Really?” Emma laughed, folding her arms. “Only you can suggest something so stupid, Celine. That boy is up to no good. What should I say to you?” She yelled. “Aunt…” “Not now, Eduardo!” She rudely said, her eyes still on Celine. “Wasn’t breaking Antonio’s heart once enough? Did he have to come back to hurt him some more? Well, we get the fact that he’s not Praveen but he shares the same face with him and he knows exactly what Antonio feels and that’s why he continues doing that. What spell has that bitch cast on you?” Paul was confused about what was going on. “Um, sorry…” He apologized, slightly moving closer. “…what’s going on? I seem to be getting…” “Well, my dear, there’s nothing to be confused about here,” Emma said harshly. “That boy, Travis, or whatever you call him was once married to Antonio six years ago. He came here with the motive of stealing our entire wealth together with his lover. When we found out, Antonio was heartbroken and…” “No!” Paul shook his head, a frown appearing on his face. “Travis, that’s impossible. Travis is the son of Richard Marasigan. He had been living abroad and that’s where I met him three years ago so…” “It doesn’t matter,” Emma said harshly. “He shares the same face with the enemy of this family. And I am pretty sure that he’s got a hidden agenda.” “But Travis is one of the ri…” “Paul, please, come with me.” Ethan took his hand and started getting him out of there. “I’ll explain what’s going on, okay? Please!” The two men left. “I am pretty sure that boy is just out here to impress my husband.” Bruce clenched his fists. “Did you see what he did? He deliberately pulled my husband so that they fell to the floor together. That boy is just after my husband and I won’t allow him to succeed. This has been his plan all along. He first entered the company and then pretended to help granny and now he’s got her. What will he do next?” Celine rolled her eyes, shaking her head. “This was supposed to be a very important day for my brother but he ruined it all.” Andrea snapped, feeling all evil and powerful. “He has no regard for people’s privacy. That boy has got guts and I will make him pay.” Emma shook her head. She was just so angry. But when she saw Emilia seated with her face between her palms, her anger went overboard. “I bet Emilia must be so happy. She wanted this.” “Excuse me!” Emilia quickly raised her head. She was surprised by Emma’s painful words. “How can I be happy when my son is suffering? Which mother on this earth would be happy when her family is getting broken? Do you think that ill of me?” “Oh please!” Emma rolled her eyes angrily. “You don’t have to pretend. It’s not like you’ve had the best interest of your son and this family. You have intended to hurt us all along and I am pretty sure you were happy when you saw him taking mother.” “Really, Emma?” Emilia’s tears were again rolling. “You don’t know what you’re talking about. For the last six years, all I have tried to do is to earn my son’s forgiveness. I love him so much and I want to see my family happy again.” “Well, that’s a dream you’ll die with because this family was already destroyed six years ago and it will never be happy unless you leave us the fuck alone!” Her voice rose and pierced Emilia’s heart so hard. It hurt and Emilia felt like she had died. “I warned my brother about you but did he listen to me? No!” She stamped her foot so hard that Emilia slightly closed her eyes. “He was too blinded by his love for you that he didn’t even see the devil he was marrying. Now it’s happening. Your true colors have been revealed. You’ve made this family unhappy. You brought that boy home six years ago. You made mother’s mental state to be unstable all because of what had happened and I wouldn’t be surprised if you killed my brother and…” “Aunt, please, that’s enough!” Eduardo chimed, his voice rising and surprising everyone there. “I won’t have you insult my mother and put all those accusations on her. She is…” “What?” Emma’s mouth gaped in surprise. “You still defend her even after knowing that…” “Yes! Because she’s a very good woman.” He said hoarsely, wrapping one arm around her. “What crime has she committed that everyone thinks shit of her. Was bringing a boy she thought would make her son happy a crime? Do you also know that it was my father’s last wish?” “My brother probably never…” “Does it matter?” Eduardo snapped, surprising everyone in the living room. “You talk a lot but you seem to forget that when uncle died, everyone turned against you and they accused you of killing him and having extramarital affairs. But who stood by your side and made them understand?” He yelled. Emma couldn’t suppress her tears. They came flowing together with her pain and so much anger. “It was her!” Eduardo pointed at Emilia, feeling so much anger. He had had enough. “And instead of you to be trying to find ways of helping her, you’re making this situation worse between mother and son. My mother didn’t make any mistake by bringing that boy home but she made a mistake by helping you.” He looked at his wife. “Please, take mother inside.” Celine nodded. “Let’s go, mom!” Emilia nodded and started going inside. “And you talk a lot about Antonio’s happiness, aunt!” He added. “Has he ever been happy for the last six years? He’s been a shadow of himself and he’s been in pain.” He shook his head sadly, frowning. “He’s marriage to Bruce hasn’t done shit. He doesn’t even smile. So please, try to fix those problems because I won’t take it next time if you talk like that to my mother. This is my house too and I have equal rights here.” He gave them one final angry look and stormed out of there. Emma sobbed softly. “What wrong have I done?” “You haven’t done anything, aunt!” Andrea said, rubbing on her shoulders. “We know exactly where this problem is coming from and we’ll eliminate that source. That’s a promise.” She vowed. What were they up to? *** Travis arrived home and he was feeling really stressed out and tired and very scared. What he had done was surely gonna cost him something and he was very afraid that Antonio wasn’t gonna let him go scot-free but he was ready to fight Antonio. He was very ready. “Welcome home, granny,” Travis said with a sigh, going to the front. “Feel free. This is your house too.” Granny had tears in her eyes. She held on tightly to Travis’s hand and kissed it softly. “Wow, you have a very beautiful house, angel. It’s really lovely. I can’t believe my angel lives in such a big house.” “It’s also yours now, granny!” He said with a brilliant smile. “Thank you for bringing me here,” Granny said abruptly, nodding. “I don’t like that house because you always leave me alone. But here…” She paused and caressed his cheek. “…I’ll be with you always.” “Yes!” Travis smiled brightly. Just then…. “Daddy!” Sean came rushing to him. Travis quickly turned and his son rushed into his arms. He kissed his cheek and then held him tightly. “I missed you so much, baby.” He moaned, slowly closing his eyes. “I love you, son.” “Love you too, daddy!” Sean chuckled, holding on tightly to his father’s neck. “Did you bring something for me?” “Chocolate?” Travis chuckled sheepishly. “Baby, I will tell you what I got later but for now…” “Angel!” Granny called softly, looking at the happy father and son. “Who’s he?” “Oh!” Travis smiled brightly, turning to face granny. But he still had his son in his arms. “Granny, this is my son, Sean.” “It’s a beautiful name.” Granny didn’t know what she felt as soon as she stared at the little boy. He was the most handsome kid she’d ever laid her eyes on. “I can’t believe my angel has a beautiful child. Come here…” She opened her arms widely. Travis smiled and nodded at his son. Sean got out of his father’s arms and went to sit on granny’s lap. The old woman kissed his cheek and held him tightly. Seeing all that, Travis couldn’t help but wonder how life would have been if he had given birth to Sean right in the Gonzalez house. But he didn’t wanna think about it for long because he was getting emotional and hurt. He took a sigh of relief and that was when he saw Vanessa standing at the staircase, staring at Travis like she’d seen a ghost. He knew exactly what was on her mind. So he took her hand and brought her closer. “Granny, this is my aunt, Vanessa.” Granny smiled brightly. “Oh, how are you doing?” Vanessa smiled sheepishly. “Err…. I am okay, ma’am.” Travis chuckled nervously. “Granny, all of us will take care of you. We’re all gonna be your friends here so you won’t ever feel bored or uncomfortable.” “Thank you,” Granny said with a smile. “As long as I am with my angel, I am fine!” Travis was happy. He called one of his maids and instructed her to take granny to the room on the ground floor so that she could move at will. He didn’t want her to get hurt or anything bad. He just wanted her to be free. “Travis, are you insane?” Vanessa whispered, getting closer to him. “What were you thinking bringing her here? Do you know what this means?” Travis sighed, rubbing through his hair. “I know but… I didn’t have a choice. She’s not been doing well when I am around and she wanted to come with me.” “And you saw it fit to just bring her here?” Vanessa was a bit pissed and scared. “Does her family know that she’s even here?” Travis remained quiet, just staring at Vanessa like she’d grown another head. “No!” Vanessa shook her head, raising her hands like she was surrendering. “No, Travis, please… No!” “I had to.” Travis quickly rushed to his aunt and held her hands sweetly. “I had to go back. I lost track of time and…” He began narrating the story of what had happened and how he had been so scared and nervous. “…so I couldn’t risk them finding the phone and seeing Sean there.” He gave a gloomy sigh. “I guess I was just so scared of them finding out about Sean. It didn’t make any difference since they’d have seen my picture on the phone and they’d have found out. I had to go back.” Vanessa sighed, feeling a little nervous. “But this means that they saw you and now know that you’re the one who’s been taking care of their grandmother. It means that now you’re closer to them than you were. It won’t take long before they eventually find out that you’re Praveen. What if they try to hurt you?” “Then I have you to protect me.” Travis smiled brightly, staring into Vanessa’s face. But the woman wasn’t cheering up. “Don’t worry, aunt!” He wrapped his arms around her neck and gave her a tight hug. “I won’t allow them to hurt me ever again. If it’s anyone who’s hurting right now, it’s Antonio and his family. I could see the pain when I took away granny.” “But…” “Shh…” Travis whispered. “Just promise me you’ll take care of granny while I am not around.” He asked softly. “That woman is the reason why I survived in that house. Without her, I don’t know how I would have even made it through. She was in pain when I was framed up too. Please!” Vanessa loved Travis a lot and she didn’t wanna see him suffer. “Okay!” She sighed. “I promise.” Travis chuckled happily. “I love you, aunt!” He pulled away from her quickly. “So much!” “I love you too.” He kissed her forehead and rushed upstairs quickly to be with his son. “I just hope you won’t get hurt, Travis.” She sighed. “I hope so…” *** Travis was looking at the files in his hands attentively with a brilliant smile on his face. He was looking sexy in a black designer’s short-sleeved shirt that was tucked in a red tight trouser with blood-red shoes on his feet. He had a green blazer on him and his hair was made into a simple ponytail but he looked so damn hot. “Wow! These are impressive!” He chuckled excitedly, staring at his smiling assistant. “I can’t believe our brand has had such sales and there is still demand them. I am impressed.” “It’s all because of you, sir!” The assistant blushed, biting her lip seductively. Travis saw that but he simply just smiled. He handed over a small envelope to her. “Okay, I want you to organize an outing with my team. You guys can go to whatever place you want, whether in the city or outside the city. Just go out, have fun, and forget about work today. You can resume tomorrow.” “Really, sir?” She jumped up like a little kid. “Yeah,” He nodded. “All of you deserve it. Just go now.” “Are you coming?” She asked with her fingers crossed, hoping he was gonna agree. “Please, come with us, sir. We’ll have so much fun with you around. Please!” Travis smiled, shaking his head. “I still have to go somewhere important. I’ll join you next time, I promise.” She lost the smile on her face but she was still happy. “Okay, sir. I’ll go and inform your team.” Travis nodded and smiled brightly. He turned to leave but was so unfortunate to bump into the one person that he didn’t wanna see that day, Antonio. The man was killing it in a dark gray designer’s suit with a white shirt inside and pitch-black shoes. He was looking handsome but Travis didn’t care. Travis groaned, moving his eyes away from the man. “Whatever you came to say to me, I am not interested. I still have an important meeting at my company, Mr. Gonzalez. So if you’ll excuse me, I…” “Where’s my grandmother?” Antonio roared, clenching on his fists. “Where the fuck did you take her? I need her back to my house in the next 24 hours or else…” “Are you threatening me, Mr. Gonzalez?” Travis asked, losing that smile on his face. “I don’t have time for this?” He tried to pass Antonio but the man quickly blocked him with his arm and pulled him back. Then he held his arm but this time, he held it carefully that it even surprised Travis. The man seemed angry but he wasn’t hurting him as usual. “Why are you doing this, Travis?” Antonio asked, staring into the boy’s eyes. “First my company and now my grandmother. You say you don’t like me and yet you chose to meddle in my life. What do you really want from me? Are you trying to catch my attention?” Travis twisted his arm, releasing it from the man’s grip. Then he gave a mocking smile. “In your dreams. And please, I don’t want to meddle in your life.” He warned. “When I first joined your company, I didn’t even know this was who you were gonna turn out to be. When I first encountered your grandmother that night, I didn’t know she was your grandmother. Believe me, I never wanted to come into your life but that woman doesn’t deserve this. You don’t need my help or my sympathy but I cannot allow a poor woman like her to suffer for your stupidity and your foolishness.” “How dare you!” Antonio snapped, pointing at the boy. His breaths sounded like a huge storm. “Who the fuck do you think you are to insult me? Just because you are my partner in this company doesn’t give you the right to…” “I beg your pardon?” Travis said hoarsely, getting stern. “I have been trying to mind my own business since I came to this company, Mr. Gonzalez, and everywhere else where we’ve met but you always find ways to talk to me. I am in a very good mood today so don’t spoil it!” He warned. “Please!” “Well, if you don’t want that mood spoilt then bring my grandmother back to…” “She’s old enough to make her decisions.” He chuckled bitterly. “I didn’t force her to come with me. It’s not my fault that your grandmother feels more comfortable with me than with her own grandson. But I understand her completely.” “Travis…” “I think I am wasting my time here,” Travis said. “I don’t have time for the likes of you.” He started going away again but things happened so fast that Travis didn’t even know what happened. He found himself pinned tightly to the wall with Antonio’s on either side of his body. He couldn’t move. He quickly moved his face up to say something but got the shock of his life when his nose brushed on Antonio’s. Travis’s mind took him to the night before when Antonio had fallen on top of him. His heart started racing and his body got really weak. He tried to move but the man just stood there like a statue, staring right into his eyes. He was scared and nervous. He wanted to move but each movement he made seemed to be bringing Antonio even closer. Antonio on the other was filled with so much rage that he didn’t even think straight. He knew he was getting closer to the boy’s face… he could feel his hot breaths on his face… he could feel his heat… he could feel his cologne. But Antonio was just getting closer. His heart pounded so sharply in his chest that his breaths became heavy. “What… what are you doing?” Travis stammered. His voice sounded like he was really scared. “I don’t like it when people challenge me!” Antonio sneered, getting even closer. “What did you say just a few seconds back?” Travis tried to open his mouth to speak but no words came out. “Don’t think that just because I had let what you did slip a few times that I am gonna let it slip again.” He warned. “Oh, maybe you seem to forget something, huh? Let me remind you.” He groaned, making Travis slightly close his eyes. “I am a very bad guy, much worse than I appear to be. I have no fear or feelings. My feelings, my sentiments, and my conscience were reduced to ashes the day that cheater betrayed me.” Travis got scared of the way he saw Antonio. “Everything was finished the day I saw him being fucked by someone else.” He yelled in Travis’ face. Travis’ heart gave a sharp pound in his chest. “I told you I’d get my revenge on you because you have his face and I won’t turn on that. I will make sure that you pay for what Praveen did. Don’t think that just because I tolerate you foolishness sometimes, that I will continue to do so. I may seem serious all the time but behind this stern face…” He chuckled bitterly. “…lies a heart made of stone. You do not know the limits of my hatred. I was deceived, broken, and hurt and as long as you wear that face, you will pay for that deceit.” He vowed. “So I am warning you to watch what you say to me because I hate people challenging me.” Antonio laughed bitterly and got closer, so close that his lips brushed on Travis’. “Don’t you remember that night at the party? You gave me a challenge and I retaliated. Don’t make force me to do that again.” Travis took a deep breath and then pushed Antonio away from him. He furiously thrust his hand forward to slap Antonio but got surprised when the man held his hand tightly and smiled brightly. “I will never allow you to do that again!” He furiously released his hand. “Never, Antonio!” He was fighting his tears. He had no idea how Antonio had managed to make him that weak. “Let’s wait and watch!” Antonio grinned sinisterly. “You said that you were a fire that will keep burning even in a horrendous storm but I too have a raging fire that burns within me. A fire that will reduce everyone to ashes. Don’t make me do what I don’t want to do. Return my grandmother to my house in the next 48 hours or you’ll regret ever crossing my path.” With those words, Antonio stormed out of there, leaving Travis all alone. Travis felt like he had just run out of breath. He knew Antonio was really angry but he hadn’t encountered that side of him since he returned to the country. He wanted to cry but then he remembered who he was, Travis Marasigan. He was no longer Praveen Garcia, a weak boy as they knew him but he was different, stronger, and more confident. “You don’t know what I am capable of, Antonio!” He gave an evil grin, folding his arms on his chest. “You can threaten me all you want. You can get as angry as you want but in the end, I will neutralize that anger and use it against you.” He laughed manically and rushed to the elevator because he was already late for the meeting. It didn’t take him long to reach the ground floor. He was so late that as soon as the shaft opened, he began rushing towards the exit. But…. “Hey, Travis!” He quickly turned and found Paul rushing towards him. “Hi!” He stopped in his tracks and smiled. “How are you doing?” “I am okay but…” Paul lost the smile on his face. “…is it true? Please, I need to know if…” “Antonio is my ex-husband?” He finished Paul’s sentence and at his node, Travis sighed. “No! I have never been married before, Paul.” He smiled brightly. “I don’t know why everyone thinks I was once married to him but I wasn’t.” “Really?” Paul smiled softly. “Look, Paul, I would have loved to continue this conversation but I am already running late.” He quickly hugged him. “I will see you later and I promise we’ll talk.” He began rushing out but Travis didn’t even go far before he stopped in his tracks. His heart began racing and he froze where he stood, staring in front as he’d just seen a ghost. He felt a shiver go down his spine and he bit his lip to suppress a moan. He didn’t even know what he felt at that time, whether fear or simply shock. Emilia was standing right in front of him with her arms folded, looking mad as hell. Her hair was made into a bun, revealing her mad looking face. She was dressed in just a simple black dress with slippers on her feet. She looked thinner than he remembered and also a little older. Her skin was pale and Travis was surprised she was there. He hadn’t seen her there since he returned. Seeing her again, he was filled with emotions but he didn’t wanna a mistake. Emilia was with Ethan who was dressed in a white designer’s shirt, tucked in a brown skinny jean and blue designer’s shoes. He was looking handsome. The man had come to meet with Antonio when he saw Emilia rushing in the building so he quickly followed her. ‘Even a witch doesn’t attack her own home.’ Travis just ignored the two and started going away but he barely moved when Emilia started clapping, getting closer to him. She had a stern look on her face and it scared him a bit. “Wow!” Emilia clapped, getting even closer. “Wow, Praveen! Or should I say, Travis? All I can say is wow! You know, when they told me you had returned and joined the company, I couldn’t believe it. But look at you! You’re sparkling in designer clothes and you’re still acting like a boss at my son’s company.” Travis looked away slightly, trying not to look emotional or scared. He had a strong emotional bond with Emilia in the past so he knew it was gonna be difficult to talk to her. “Even after six years, you didn’t forget to hurt us all, to take revenge.” She said harshly, looking at him in disgust. “What should I say to you?” “Aunt, please, try and…” But Emilia just raised her hand furiously, gesturing Ethan to keep quiet. She didn’t wanna be disturbed. “You be quiet, Ethan!” She said rudely. “This boy has caused us so much pain and he doesn’t seem to be getting satisfied.” Ethan was thinking of what to do because he knew that they were at Antonio’s company. He looked around and saw that some people had already noticed the commotion and were getting closer, talking among themselves. Shit! “Wasn’t what you did six years ago enough? What other spells do you want to cast on my son?” She yelled, raising her finger at him. But Travis just stared at her without even saying a word. “My son has been deeply hurt and heartbroken for six years because of you. My son doesn’t even talk to me, he has hated me limitlessly because of you.” Tears were now building up in Emilia’s eyes. “My family has been destroyed because of you!” She snarled, breathing like she was about to have a heart attack. “I can’t sleep at night all because of you.” “Aunt, please, hear me out!” Ethan said abruptly, trying to hold her hand. “I said be quiet!” Emilia brushed his hand off, still staring at Travis. She had never hated someone the way she did at that moment. “This boy will listen to me today and I don’t care if he insults me the way he’s been insulting all my family members.” Travis’ eyes were becoming glassy by the second. Hearing Emilia’s angry voice again reminded him of his painful past. At that very moment, Bruce and Andrea made their entrance and they got surprised when they found the drama going on. But since it was Emilia doing the shouting, they just stood with evil grins and watched, waiting to see how Travis was gonna insult Emilia too, if he was. “I welcomed you into my arms, my heart, and my house but most importantly…” She paused and rubbed off the tear making its way down her cheek. “…I welcomed you into my son’s life. But what did you do in return, you robbed off of our happiness and our love. You took it all away.” Andrea and Bruce were enjoying the drama. They were busy smiling at each other because Travis had finally found someone to put him in his place. Kudos, Emilia! “And because of what you’ve done, I can assure you that the almighty will punish you.” Her voice was rising. “You will end up in hell where the likes of you end up or in jail. You get it?” Travis dropped his eyes to the floor, trying to think of what to do in that situation. “Aunt, please, you are creating a scene,” Ethan said softly. “Others are present here.” “I don’t care!” She enraged, stamping her foot on the floor. “I thought that he’ll be at peace after taking my son’s love away from me. But no,” She shook her head angrily. “He has no heart.” Travis closed his eyes, trying to contain the pain inside. He didn’t wanna seem weak. He opened his eyes slowly. “Excuse me!” He said softly and calmly. “I am sorry that you had to go through all that but you’re mistaken, ma’am. I never got married to your son and I don’t even know who you are. Honestly, ever since I came here, your family has been attacking me and I do not tolerate that. I didn’t join this company because I wanted to hurt you or anything. Believe me, I do not even like your son and neither do I want anything from your family. If it is because of what you saw the other day, I was only helping the old woman to get better, and instead of you thanking me…” “You are back answering me now?” Emilia chuckled bitterly, looking into his face. “You really have changed and I can’t believe you fooled us all. I should have said no when my husband suggested bringing a pauper home years ago. I should have stood my ground because none of this would have happened. You deceived all of us and I am sure your parents…” “Do not bring my mother or my father into this,” Travis said rudely, staring right at Emilia’s face. “With all due respect ma’am, you can tell me anything you want but I won’t tolerate it if my parents are brought into this. They raised me as a respectful boy and I live by the virtue of their teachings. Like I said, once your mother is better, I’ll personally bring her back to you. And if that’s all you had for me then I beg to take my leave.” He left Emilia looking shocked and defeated right there. Emilia felt like such a fool. She could feel that the person she had just been from talking to was different from Praveen but then again, why did she see all that pain in him, she wondered? He might have been looking stronger but she could see through him. He wasn’t disrespectful like everyone said he was, but he wasn’t respectful either. So Emilia was confused. She just turned and left the company premises because she didn’t wanna encounter her son. *** Antonio entered his mansion and he was so damn tired. As soon as he entered, Stephanie ran to him happily. She was dressed in a red designer’s dress with slippers on her feet and her hair tied in a ponytail. As soon as Antonio saw her, a smile popped up on his face and his anger somehow melted. The girl always had her way with his heart. He loved her like crazy and he didn’t want anyone to mess with her. “Uncle!” “My love!” Antonio took her in his arms, kissing her sweetly on the cheek. “I missed you, baby.” “Missed you too, uncle!” Steph giggled. Antonio took the little girl to the living room while talking and laughing with her. He was happy. He was so lost talking to her that he didn’t even see the family members in the living room talking to each other. Only Emilia sat quietly with Celine who was holding her hands. “Finally!” Emma breathed when she saw him. “You’ve got no idea how long we’ve been waiting.” Antonio frowned, putting Steph on the floor. She run to Emilia and sat with her. “Is there anything wrong, aunt?” “Not really!” Emma smiled brightly, taking his hand. “I won’t hide this from you, Antonio. I am upset as it is because of what had happened the other day.” “Oh!” Antonio muttered, looking at all his family members. “I am sorry but…” Emma gestured with her hand, telling him to keep quiet but with a smile on her face. “As much as I hate that boy and would love to see him burn in hell, I feel like we’ve experienced too much sadness in this house.” Antonio sighed. “You don’t have to worry about that. I already gave him 48 hours to return granny. If he doesn’t, he’s gonna pay dearly for it.” Emma smiled, patting on his back. “Thanks a lot. But that’s not what I wanted to tell you.” “What is it?” Emma took a deep breath. “Well, there’s a lot of tension in this house and I just want us to get relieved from that. That’s why I booked a two day weekend out at a really beautiful resort in the next town. It’s really beautiful and I am sure you’re gonna love it.” “What?” Antonio gasped, getting stern. “A weekend getaway. But that’s tomorrow, aunt! Why wasn’t I informed of this before you made the arrangements? I would have…” “Antonio, you’re always busy.” Emma slightly raised her voice. “I just wanted us to spend some time together as a family, make our bond stronger. You know of what’s been happening in this house as of late. I want us to just get some fresh air and get back to the way we were before that bastard came back. Besides, I think you and Bruce need a romantic getaway as well.” Antonio sighed, combing his hair with his hands. “But…” “Come on, baby!” Bruce got up from the couch and wrapped his arms tightly around his husband’s waist, resting his head on his back. “You work too hard, my love. You need this. You need to get away from all this stress. It will just be for two days.” “I know…” “Okay!” Bruce held his husband tighter, kissing him on the neck right in front of everyone. “You can do your work over there. It will be fun, I promise.” Antonio didn’t wanna go. He didn’t wanna spend a weekend lazing around and doing nothing. Yeah, Travis had pretty much stressed him out and made him angry but that was no reason for him to go out for the weekend. “I know that.” Antonio shook his head. “It’s just that…” “Please, uncle!” Ryan said, smiling at his handsome uncle. “Come with us. It will be fun.” Antonio looked at his nephew and smiled at him. “Ryan, I know it will be but I just…” “Uncle, please!” Stephanie rushed to him and hugged his legs. “I want you to come with us, please!” That was it. He had been defeated. He had no idea what the little girl had done to him. He always did most of what she asked him. Antonio sighed gloomily. “Okay, fine!” “Yes!” Bruce acted like he’d won a lottery. “I have already parked whatever you need, babe. We’re leaving tomorrow morning. We’ll spend the night there and then come back the next day. That will be enough time for us as a family.” Antonio smiled sheepishly. “Excuse me!” Bruce nodded and held his hands together, smiling like a horny idiot. Finally, he was gonna spend a weekend with the love of his life, a romantic weekend without Travis the idiot disturbing them. He had planned it and Emma had executed it. He was gonna have fun. *** “Alright, thank you so much!” Travis smiled brightly, cutting the call. Then he started walking elegantly down the stairs, still smiling orgasmically. Vanessa who was downstairs saw him and she folded her arms, staring right into his face. Then she raised her eyebrow, shaking her head. “What was that, Travis?” She asked. “I know that smile on your face. What have you planned?” Travis chuckled. “Nothing! I just have an important meeting with one of daddy’s old business partners. He wants to talk business.” “Oooh...” Vanessa smiled brightly, still staring at him. “Seems important, huh?” “It is!” He sighed happily, holding her hand. “Just take good care of granny and Sean for me tomorrow. I was supposed to take them both out for some fresh air. Sean wanted to go to the park and I was thinking of bringing granny. Can you do that for me?” Vanessa chuckled softly. “Are you kidding me? Getting some time to spend with my grandson? You know I’d kill just for him. And as for granny, I’ll take good care of her. We’re starting to bond and very soon we’ll be great friends. But I feel she loves Sean a lot.” Travis smiled sheepishly. He didn’t wanna say what was on his mind. “So what did the doctor say?” “He said that she’s doing great and she may recover soon with her response,” Vanessa said with a smile. “It might be sooner than we expected. Her nurse will be arriving tomorrow morning.” “Cool!” Travis nodded. “Thank you so much, aunt for…” “If you finish that sentence, I swear I am gonna kill you,” Vanessa warned, pointing at him. “I have told you to stop thanking me unnecessarily, okay. Now, let’s go and have dinner. Everyone’s waiting.” Travis smiled brightly and left with Vanessa. He loved the woman so much. *** “Oh, thank you so much,” Bruce said to the beautiful blonde waiter that gave him two glasses of a well-decorated cocktail. Bruce was really happy. Finally, the day that he had been planning to have had finally come, the day when he’d get to relax with his husband, kiss his sweet lips again and make love once again. He had it perfectly planned and nobody was gonna ruin that for him. Bruce was putting on a sexy black designer’s boxer brief that fit him like a second skin, revealing his gorgeous looking ass and his perfectly shaved legs. He had nothing on top except a pure white towel that was wrapped around his neck. His hair was tied in a sexy ponytail, revealing his beautiful face though he was wearing sunglasses. The Gonzalez family had arrived at the resort a few hours back and now they were already having fun. They’d already settled in their rooms and the rooms were perfect. Antonio and Bruce’s room for instance was really huge, spacious, and heavenly beautiful and it looked like a room on a Hawaiian beach with paintings of beaches and models in swimsuits. Everything in it seemed classy and of royal class. The resort itself was a paradise on its own. It had really beautiful restaurants, bars, a beautiful club, conference rooms and a lot of rooms. It looked like heaven and smelt like it too. It had a huge pool area which could fit like a thousand people all at once and also a beachside, absolutely amazing. It had many other services like massage, pool, cinema, and everything that one needed for a great pleasurable holiday. “Well, well, well…” Bruce was gotten out of his thoughts the moment he heard that voice. He quickly turned and found a happy and sexy looking Andrea cat-walking towards him, looking like a sex goddess in a blue bikini, barefoot with her gorgeous boobs fitted perfectly. Her hair was tied with a band and she was holding her sunglasses. She had a sexy smile on her that could turn a man horny if he wasn’t gay. “What’s up? Looks like you’re enjoying this little vac?” She teased, folding her arms. “I could see you lost in your thoughts but that smile on your face told me that you’re thinking about Antonio. Got anything special planned for the night?” “A lot!” Bruce breathed in the sweet air. “My husband and I will get even closer tonight.” He moaned, biting his lips seductively. “I am gonna make sure that whatever space is in between us, I close it completely. I swear, nothing is gonna prevent Antonio and me from being happy today.” “Hmm…” Andrea moaned. “Sexy, huh?” “And what about you, miss sexy?” Bruce teased, eyeing Andrea from head to toe. “What’s going on? Who are you dressed like this for?” “Who else?” Andrea winked. “Ethan, of course? He’ll be coming here.” “Ethan!” Bruce gasped, a frown appearing on his face. “Don’t tell me…” “I made my brother invite him so that I could seduce him with all this?” She gestured, biting her lips. “Okay, I won’t tell you.” “You’re insane!” Bruce laughed, shaking his head. “I just don’t know why you can’t just come out and tell the guy already. You know…” He grinned. “…we’re waiting to hear wedding bells from you soon, Mrs. Ethan!” Andrea laughed, feeling her heart race just by Bruce’s words. She could feel herself getting horny just by imagining Ethan making love to her, fucking her in every possible position. “Well, you gotta seduce them, baby.” Andrea shook her body seductively, making Bruce laughed. “Drive them crazy, right before you capture them. I am simply taking my time. I want to seduce the man before I talk to Antonio about setting our marriage up. You know, I wanna…” She paused and got closer to his eyes. “…get the taste of his joystick before I strike so that it will be too hard for him to reject.” “You’re such a slut!” Bruce laughed softly, shaking his head. “I think I need to go back to my husband. Don’t wanna keep him lonely.” “Go get him, tiger!” Andrea said, purring in a sexy tone. Bruce quickly rushed to his husband and he found him busy with his laptop while comfortably seated on a beautiful pool chair with a huge umbrella. He was looking sexy in black cargo shorts with a white vest and green pool slippers. “Hey, baby…” Bruce leaned forward and kissed his cheek before putting the glasses of cocktail on a small table. “How’s it going?” Antonio nodded without even looking at his husband. His mind was just on his PC. “Great! Hope you’re having fun?” “Yeah!” Bruce moaned, resting his hand on his husband’s muscular chest. “But I was kinda hoping you’d put the laptop down and we’d go swimming together. It’s been long since we did anything fun together.” Antonio glance at Bruce, giving a sheepish smile. “I know but this is kinda important, babe. I will be done soon but you can swim with Andrea in the meantime.” Bruce felt some anger rising inside him. He just didn’t understand how Antonio migrated from being a wild, sex god to a boring old husband. He just didn’t get it. Sex, fun, and adventures with him when they were dating and when he was married to that bitch, Praveen used to be amazing but for six years, he had been like an old man that was tired of fun. All he knew how to do was just work out and work. Bruce needed to do something. There were a lot of people there and most of them were staring at the two of them. They were celebrities for Christ's sake and they needed to show that they were so much in love. “Hey, you two!” Andrea said happily, sitting on the chair next to Antonio. “How’s everything going? Are we having fun yet?” “Yes!” Antonio smiled brightly. “It’s a nice place but I haven’t seen the kids or my brother. Weren’t they supposed to be out a few minutes ago? They’re taking too long.” “Oh…” Andrea gasped, smiling softly. “…about that, Eduardo had called me a few minutes back. He said he and Celine took the kids to a park in town. They’re not gonna be back until this evening.” She didn’t wanna mention that Emilia was with them because the woman ruined her day. “Oh!” That was the only word that came out of Antonio’s mouth. “But they’ll be back soon. Come on, get into your swimsuit and we’ll have fun.” She hollered, rubbing her hands together. “I don’t think…” “Oh come on,” Andrea took the laptop from Antonio’s lap and closed it, putting it on the small table. “You’re not gonna deny me that. It’s been a long since the last time we had fun. And you’re not going to deny me this. We came to have fun and work can wait. You’re the boss of that company.” Antonio looked at his sister and couldn’t deny her when he saw that look on her face. “Fine!” He raised his hands like he was surrendering. “I’ll go and get changed and then I’ll join you later.” Bruce felt like he’d just been awarded by the heavens themselves when he heard his husband agree. He felt excited and whispered Andrea a ‘thank you,’ when his husband was not looking. He knew that his gorgeous time had begun. He was gonna have fun. Antonio sighed, getting up from the chair. He was about to start going towards the hotel when suddenly, he just stopped in his tracks and his heart stopped breathing together with his breaths. He felt something really cold and painful go down his spine, making him shudder. It was like a bucket of ice had just been poured on him. It was warm that day but it felt extremely cold for him. And when Antonio felt his heartbeat once again, it pounded so violently that he felt a wave move through him together with that blood, weakening him a bit. His breaths felt painful like he was breathing in knives. He wanted to believe his eyes were deceiving him. Fuck, he even rubbed his eyes just to prove he was dreaming but he was still there, coming towards him. He was dressed seductively in a pure white lace match see-through club fitted shirt that was tucked in a tight, black designer’s trousers with a brown belt that matched with the shoes. His beautiful hair was a little bit curled and then let loose and imaginary wind was blowing it backward, revealing his cute stern face. He seemed serious but beautiful. Everything to Antonio seemed to be in slow motion. “What the fuck!” Andrea gasped, feeling a painful pound in her chest. “What the fuck is he doing here? I have had enough of him.” She was angry. “Can’t he leave us the fuck alone?” Bruce on the other hand felt like murdering someone. Seeing Travis at the resort just made things go instantly bad. He was really mad and his fists clenched while his breaths sounded like a tornado. He swore he wasn’t gonna spare Travis for invading his privacy. Andrea groaned and folded her arms on her chest, slowly walking to block the boy that smiled when she saw the trio. “What the fuck are you doing here?” She roared, breathing harshly. “Why are you so obsessed with following us? You’re like a plague that cannot leave us alone? What the fuck do you want us to do to get rid of you, kill you?” Travis smiled, looking lost. He took a glance behind, looked at his bodyguard, and then shrugged when he looked at Andrea. “What are you talking about?” “Don’t act so dumb!” Bruce snapped, raising his finger. “We all know what you are doing here. You followed us.” Travis frowned, shaking his head. “I don’t know what you are talking about. I didn’t even know that you guys were gonna…” “Oh cut the crap!” Andrea brushed, gesturing with her hand. “You know what, you’re so pathetic and obsessed with our family. I don’t even know why we even tolerate you. Now I’m pretty sure that you’re stalking us…” Just before Andrea could finish her ranting, something surprising happened. Right there, a handsome man who looked to be in his late 30s came there and happily called Travis’ name. He was wearing a really beautiful brown designer’s suit with a gray shirt inside. He had dark brown hair which was shaven on the sides. “I am so sorry, my beauty!” The man apologized in an Italian accent as he hugged Travis lovingly. “I didn’t mean to keep you waiting.” Travis glanced at Antonio who was busy staring at him and then smiled. “Not really, Mr. Romano. I just arrived so you don’t have to worry about anything.” “Really!” The man pulled from the hug and took Travis’ hand sweetly. He then bowed down and kissed it right there. Travis couldn’t help but blush. “You’re really beautiful. An apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.” “Thank you so much, Mr. Romano.” “Non ho mai visto un uomo bello come te.” The man said, meaning, ‘I have never seen a man as beautiful as you.’ “Grazie!” Travis said in a really sweet tone. “Sono davvero umiliato.” Meaning, ‘Thank you. I am really humbled.’ The man’s smile just went overboard. “Impressive! Your Italian is great!” “When you spend most of your life abroad, you pick up one or two languages.” He chuckled happily. Andrea rolled her eyes, feeling like she was being possessed with a demon of anger. The same could be said for Bruce. He just wanted to snap Travis’ neck and kill him. Antonio was dumbstruck. He just heard Travis speak Italian, something that took him almost his entire life to learn. Was he Praveen, he thought as he felt something that he didn’t even understand slowly from deep within him. “Well, thanks for meeting me on such short notice.” Mr. Romano apologized. “I wanted to make this deal before I travel back to Italy this evening. I have been doing business with your father for a long time now. I have heard of the great progress you’ve made since you took over.” “Thanks. But you don’t have to apologize. After all, it’s just business.” He smiled. “When it calls, you have to answer it.” “That’s right.” The man nodded. “I like you. Shall we? We have a lot to discuss and such little time.” “Of course!” Travis and Mr. Romano walked away arm in arm, smiling and talking like newfound lovers to Antonio’s dismay and Bruce and Andrea’s annoyance. They remained standing there like statues, wondering what they were gonna do next. Was their weekend ruined before it even started? *** Bruce entered the room angrily and he was already throwing everything on his way, screaming like he was going insane. He felt like something was crawling up his skin, making him angry. He was so mad that his breaths sounded like a whirlwind. “Hey, Bruce…” “Why?” Bruce cried, gripping his hair. “Why does that bitch always manage to make me so angry? I hate him and I wanna kill him, I swear. He always…” “I know exactly what you’re talking about.” Andrea rushed to him, holding his arms firmly. “But listen to me, Bruce. We haven’t lost anything. We’re not going to allow him to make us feel defeated and…” “He fucking appears everywhere Antonio and I go.” He snapped, clenching on his fists. “I hate that bitch and I swear I am gonna make him pay this time.” At that moment, Emma came inside the room with a smile on her face. But she lost it when she saw the tension that was in the room. She had been happy. She was just from getting a gorgeous massage of her life. She had a towel wrapped around her pits and her hair was made into a pouf. “What’s going on here?” Emma asked, getting closer to the two friends. “Why do you look like someone died?” “Well, aunt…” Bruce furiously rushed to her, looking into her eyes. “…you won’t believe what’s happening right now. That Travis Marasigan is here.” “What!” Emma roared, feeling a wave of anger sweep her off her feet. “Are you kidding me? How did he even know that we’re here?” Bruce gave a sigh of frustration, gripping his hair. “I don’t know. But that bitch came here with an Italian man. He said that they were having a meeting here. But I am pretty sure that it’s a lie.” Emma clenched her teeth, feeling her body vibrating in anger. “I have had it with that son of a bitch! Why the hell can’t he just stay in his lane? Why is he everywhere?” “I don’t know, aunt!” Andrea sighed gloomily, sitting down on the bed. “Honestly, I don’t even know what we’re supposed to do. Before that bitch came back, we used to live happy lives. But it’s like he’s a demon that’s sucking our blood and I just don’t know what to do.” “How’s Antonio?” “Fortunately, Ethan arrived in time and they’re talking outside.” Bruce groaned. “But we need to do something about this Travis issue. We had a perfect plan to just be as a family and forget about our troubles. I was just about to have a romantic swim with my husband but he managed to ruin it all.” Now that he thought about it, Bruce felt the raging fire burning inside of him. He was really mad. He wasn’t gonna spare Travis. “That boy has no idea who he is messing with. I swear…” “Try to calm down!” Andrea quickly got up from the bed. “We need to be careful with that boy. All the previous encounters that we’ve had with him have ended up bad for us. Remember that he’s fearless and more confident than Praveen and most of all…” She paused and gulped, feeling a shiver going down her spine. “…he’s really rich. We don’t know what he’s capable of and…” “I don’t give a fuck about him!” Bruce groaned, brushing his hand angrily. “I have worked so hard to find myself at this position, Andrea. We’ve made a lot of sacrifices to just let this boy ruin everything for us. Whenever we have an encounter with him, Antonio’s behavior seems to be getting worse. With each encounter, Antonio drifts away from me and I can’t tolerate that anymore.” Emma sighed, rubbing on Bruce’s shoulder. “I know what you’re talking about and your fears. I also see a point in what you’ve said. There’s a way that that boy manages to change Antonio’s mood whenever he’s around. We were getting close to bringing back the Antonio that we had in the past but with the appearance of that boy, it’s really difficult. He keeps on reminding Antonio of his heartbreak and his betrayal. I don’t want to see him in the same position that he was in years ago.” Andrea knew that they had to do something and quick. “That boy could ruin everything that we’ve built for the last six years,” Andrea said, her voice sounding like she was freezing. “He could ruin everything completely and that would be bad for us. We need to be careful with him and…” “No!” Bruce shook his head angrily. “This time I won’t let it go.” He vowed. “I am not gonna be defeated this time. I swear, I will have my day with that Travis Marasigan!” He clenched his fists and looked at his two culprits. He was gonna show Travis hell this time and that was a promise. *** Antonio was seated in the bar, right at the counter with his friend, enjoying a glass of wine or rather burying himself in his wine. He was having a really bad day… he had a terrible headache and there were a lot of thoughts in his little head. It was just too much for him. Antonio’s heart was pounding so violently that he groaned each time it did… his breaths were harsh and his body was shaking a little bit. All that was in his head were images of Travis, Travis, and Travis. He didn’t understand how someone like him had managed to make his life miserable in such a short time. His anger was at the surface and he was ready to hit something anything. Antonio groaned, emptying the entire glass in his mouth. He started pouring himself another and from that sigh from his best friend, he knew that he wasn’t happy. “You can as well leave me alone, Ethan!” His voice was really low but harsh. “I don’t need your company and besides….” “Are you kidding me? Look at you!” He gestured with his hand. “I am still wondering how you haven’t gotten drunk. Only God knows how many glasses you’ve taken. Are you trying to kill yourself with drinking?” Antonio laughed in mock. “It’s just wine. It takes me longer to get drunk. If I wanted to get drunk, I would have gone for something stronger and…” He paused and laughed, playing with his glass. “You know what? I don’t know how he manages to ruin my mood whenever I see him.” Ethan didn’t need to be a genius to figure out who he was talking about. He sighed. “Antonio, you don’t have to…” “Why?” Antonio snapped, furiously hitting the glass on the table. Luckily, it didn’t break. “Why do I feel like killing something whenever I see him? Why do I want to hurt him so much and yet feels weak to do it? Why do I even keep on fucking bumping into him?” Ethan tried to make his friend calm by touching him but the guy retaliated. His voice was so loud but luckily, there were a few people in the bar and they didn’t pay much attention. “Every time I see him, it reminds of me of the truth, the truth that I want to forget. It reminds me of what that cheater did to me. It drives me insane with anger and I feel like I am burning inside.” Ethan slightly closed his eyes. “Look, I understand that…” “You don’t understand shit!” Antonio snapped, furiously getting up from the chair. “No one can understand what I go through whenever I see that boy’s face. No one! And maybe it’s about time I gave him a dose of his own medicine. I’ll make him feel the pain and anger that I go through whenever I see his face!” “Antonio!” But it was too late, Antonio stormed out of the bar. Ethan could feel his friend’s pain. He could even see it in his face and it killed him like crazy. He loved Antonio so much to see him continue suffering. He didn’t deserve it. “God! Please, help him out, please. I can’t watch him suffer anymore.” He said under his breath. *** Travis was walking gracefully near the pool, enjoying the view of the beautiful water and the sound it made. It somehow made him smile and want to dive inside. It was a cold night but he wouldn’t have loved it any other way. After such a long meeting, he just wanted to relax. Travis was wearing tight black shorts with a white shirt that was unbuttoned, revealing his sexy chest that could seduce any guy. He had his sandals on his feet and his hair was tied backward, revealing his cute face. He just wanted to relax. He stopped and just began staring into the pool, enjoying the view. He missed his son a lot and was just from talking to him. He’d have loved to bring him along but he wouldn’t dare make that mistake. He didn’t want any of the Gonzalez finding out about Sean. “What are you still doing here?” Travis was gotten out of his thoughts when he heard a familiar voice. He looked past his shoulder and saw Bruce and Andrea standing close to him. They were still wearing the same swimsuits but had towels wrapped around their necks. But they also had grins on their faces. “I thought you were only here for a meeting,” Bruce said, taking a sip of his Mediterranean juice. “And it looks like you’ve changed.” “And why not!” He smiled, folding his arms on his chest. “After all, I am by the pool.” “Weren’t you supposed to leave by now? Your meeting didn’t end or something?” Andrea asked, smiling like a bitch. “Or maybe you’ve decided to seduce some guys seeing that there are a lot of famous guys around here?” Both he and Bruce laughed in mock. Travis dropped his hands to his hips and chuckled softly. “Well, on the contrary, I am not like you. I don’t fall so easily. I smartened up!” He smiled cockily. “I was once burned badly by a man who did nothing but toy with me, who merely used me… who deceived me.” Bruce gave an evil grin, getting closer to the beautiful boy. “So… where is all that bitterness coming from, huh?” Travis walked a bit closer to Bruce, staring right into his eyes with a bold look. “I am not the kind who needs to flirt to get anybody’s attention.” Bruce gave a sexy wink, biting his lips. He knew what Travis meant by what he had said. “Is it my fault if all the men choose to flirt with me?” He chuckled happily together with Andrea. “I am a model. I am really beautiful, sexy and I have a body to die for. Everyone wants a piece of me so it’s not really my fault!” He shrugged. “It comes with being cheap!” Travis said like he didn’t even care. Hearing him, Bruce lost the smile on his face and felt the anger forming deep within. “What did you say?” “I said you’re cheap!” “How dare you!” Bruce sneered, clenching his fists. “If there’s anyone here who’s cheap like a whore it’s you!” He pointed. “I know exactly what you’re doing. All that bullshit about a meeting! I am not stupid. You’ve always been trying hard to seduce my husband and that’s why you’re here. I know men like you and how desperate and hungry you are for married and powerful men.” Travis looked lost at first, staring at Bruce like he was angry. Then he burst into laughter. “You know, I would have gotten angry at that but…” He paused and eyed Bruce from head to toe. “…it’s not worth my time. You’re entitled to an opinion and I think you should learn to keep it to yourself. I am not interested in your husband he’s the last man on earth that I’d consider ever having something with. So you’re very safe and…” “Really?” Andrea laughed, folding her arms on her chest. “We’re not stupid, Travis. We know exactly what you want and we can assure you that you’ll not have it. Entering our company, faking to help granny and now following us here…” “You’re so full of yourself, Andrea!” Travis rolled his eyes. “But it’s understandable. After all, it runs in the family.” He laughed, getting Andrea angry. “My business in the company is none of your concern.” His face got stern. “And it’s also none of your business whether I am helping your grandmother or faking it. My business here is also none of your concern. Your family doesn’t interest me at all. I am a member of this resort and my father owns shares here.” He loved the incredulous look on both Andrea and Bruce’s faces. It was priceless and he wished he had taken a picture. “So whatever family…” He paused, looking at them in disgust. “…following you bullshit that’s in your mind, I suggest you erase it.” Bruce felt like ripping Travis’ head off. He was so mad. “And what do you think, Travis? We’re supposed to be…” “I don’t expect you to do anything!” Travis snarled, breathing like he was in a battle. “I know the two of you very well and you like intimidating people. But with me, it just doesn’t work. So I suggest you try that on someone else. And for the record…” He got even closer, enjoying the anger on their faces. “…I still haven’t forgotten what you did to me so you better watch out!” Bruce frowned. “What the heck are you talking about?” “Oh, Bruce, even you can’t be so blind!” He gave a mocking smile. “Who else but your… darling Praveen come back to life?” Bruce’s heart just gave a violent pound in his chest and he took a step back, feeling like his strength had just given up on him. His breaths suddenly turned into pants as his eyes widened. He got pale and sweat broke on his skin. He was really scared and his hands began shaking. Shit! Andrea too was having the same reaction. She was so pale and weak. Travis enjoyed the look on both their faces, priceless! They looked like deer caught in the headlight and he found it funny and satisfying. His heart jumped with joy and that grin on his face brightened up. One moment, he was grinning and the next he was laughing. “Relax!” He laughed, patting on Bruce’s shoulder. “I was just messing with you. You don’t have to look like you’ve just seen a ghost!” Bruce felt like he was able to breathe again. He had been so scared that he had felt like passing out. He slowly wiped the sweat forming on his forehead and tried to open his mouth to speak but he found he was dumbstruck. He honestly thought Praveen had come back and he knew what they did. “But why do you look so pale at the mention of that name? I thought you wanted me to be him so much so why the hell do you look pale?” He mocked, watching as the two friends looked at each other. “Knowing the two of you, you probably tortured the poor guy. But what do I know?” He shrugged. He walked right in between them and left laughing. Travis was so happy that he’d finally put some fear in the souls of the idiots. He had a huge smile on his face as he went away but something happened, something that scared him a bit. Travis felt someone wrap arms around his waist from behind and hold him tightly. He stopped in his tracks, felt frozen, and wondered what was going. Travis was about to turn when… “Uncle Praveen!” A cute voice spoke, holding him even tighter. “I missed you so much. Where have you been? You haven’t been there to cook for me and sing me to sleep. I missed you so much.” Travis felt his heart freeze and adrenaline started preying on him. He tried to breathe just fine but realized that it was impossible. He was filled with a myriad of emotions and just froze without even turning. He didn’t even know that he had teared up until he felt a tear go down his cheek. “Where did you go, uncle Praveen? I missed you so much. Please, come back home.” Travis didn’t know what to do. He felt like a bucket of emotions had just been poured on it. Ryan, little Ryan that he had left without even saying goodbye to. He knew without even looking at him that he was Ryan. But… “Ryan!” It was Emma’s angry voice. “What do you think you’re doing? Come here right now!” “No, granny, I…” “I said come here!” Emma angrily pulled his hoody and got him away from Travis. “What the hell do you think you’re doing?” “Uncle Prav…” “Don’t call him that!” Emma warned, pulling on little Ryan’s hand hard. “Ouch!” Ryan winced. “You’re hurting me, granny!” “He’s not your uncle and he’s not Praveen, do you understand?” She yelled at the little boy, making him shed tears. “Don’t you ever mention that name again because I have warned you about it!” Travis quickly rubbed his tears and glanced behind, landing his eyes on Ryan. He had grown up, 11 years or so. He was handsome and Travis didn’t like the fact that Emma was hurting him. Shit! But he couldn’t do anything. He just sighed and walked out of there. Emilia and Celine were just as shocked when they saw Travis right there at the resort. They had just returned from where they went only to find the commotion going on. “How many times must I…” “Emma, what do you think you’re doing?” Emilia went to Ryan’s rescue. The little boy held her tightly and sobbed. “You’re hurting your grandson. He’s just a little boy and…” “I didn’t ask for your opinion in this matter, Emilia!” She brushed rudely, gesturing her to keep quiet. “How I raise my grandson or how I talk to him and discipline him is none of your business.” She thrust her hand forward and gripped Ryan, pulling him to herself. “So you better keep quiet and focus on yourself next time.” Emilia raised her hands like she was surrendering. “I am sorry. Anyway, what’s going on? Why was that boy here?” Emma laughed, getting closer to Emilia. “Why don’t you follow him and go and ask him since both of you have the same mission? All of you only want to destroy us.” With an angry groan, she stormed out of there, pulling on Ryan like she wanted to hurt him. It was heartbreaking to see. Emilia remained standing there, looking confused and very hurt. Everyone else left, except for Celine. She wrapped her arms around her mother in law, rubbing on her shoulders. Emilia sighed, feeling heartbroken once again. She had been happy spending some time with her son and his wife and her two grandkids. But now that she was back, she remembered all her pain. “What’s going on, Celine?” She sighed in pain. “Why does he keep appearing everywhere? Can’t he just leave us alone? We’re having more problems as it is and he’s making it worse. When will this curse go away from us?” Celine tried her best to smile. “Please, don’t blame yourself for this. Very soon, all our problems will go away. The almighty sees and he will restore our happiness and love back. I promise. Now let’s go inside.” Emilia nodded and both of them went inside. Meanwhile… ‘I love you so much, uncle!’ Ryan’s voice rang in Travis’ head. ‘I love your food!’ Travis got emotional as he went down memory lane. He had loved Ryan like a son in the past and that love had suddenly resurfaced when he saw the boy earlier. He was standing in the corner, looking towards the pool with tears in his eyes. God, he’d never gotten so emotional seeing anyone from the Gonzalez house. But now that he had seen Ryan, he just wished he had hugged him and kissed him. Hell, the pain that he had felt when he saw him crying was just too much. God! It was too much. *** Bruce entered the room with a sigh, closing the door behind him. He was putting on a beautiful black designer’s short with a muscle t-shirt that fit him like a second skin. He smiled brightly, glancing at his watch. It was past 11.pm and he wondered where his husband was. “Baby!” He called, a smile popping upon his face. “My love?” He was ready to be with his husband that night. He planned on both of them making wild love to each other. “My love?” He went to the bathroom to check but Antonio was not there. He checked the balcony but he was not there. It was strange and he got really worried because his husband was supposed to be back by that time. When he had left him, he was with Ethan so…. Bruce quickly took his phone and dialed Ethan’s line. ‘Hey!’ Ethan hollered on the other end of the line. “Hi!” Bruce chuckled softly. “Ethan, sorry… I was asking if you were with my husband. He’s not in the room yet.” Ethan was quiet for a second. ‘Antonio,’ He gasped. ‘We were together at the bar like over an hour ago and he left for the room.’ Bruce frowned. “He left over an hour ago? But he’s not reached here yet. Are you sure that you guys are still not together or maybe you know where he might have gone to?” ‘No! Maybe he’s at the pool. Try calling him. I’ll try and look for him.’ “Okay, thanks!” Bruce cut the call and quickly dialed his husband’s line. But it didn’t go through. He tried again but his number was off. “Shit!” He swore. He quickly rushed out of the room to go and look for his husband. *** Antonio was walking slowly on the edge of the pool, feeling like the weight of the entire world had just been placed on his shoulders. He had so much anger inside of him that he felt like killing the entire world. His body was both hot and cold and his heart was pounding violently in his chest. His fists were clenched and his body shook from the anger that he felt. He had images of Travis arriving at the resort and they just wouldn’t go away. He had gone to the beach to just be alone and think straight but it just didn’t work. He needed a really hot shower. Maybe that was gonna help him get rid of the anger. It always helped him in some way. Suddenly, as he was still deep in his thoughts, Antonio bumped into someone hard, getting him out of his thoughts. “Oh my God, I am so sorry about…” But he trailed off once he looked at the person. It was Travis. Travis on the other hand got the shock of his life when he found Antonio looking deep into his eyes when he raised his head to apologize to the person he had bumped into. His heart nearly missed a beat and his breaths stopped for a second. He found himself frozen as he stared into Antonio’s eyes, getting lost in them. Shit! How could he have not seen Antonio, he thought as he ripped his eyes away, acting like a shy virgin? Antonio on the other hand felt like anger had just been poured into his system. He groaned angrily, slightly looking away. “Wow!” He said harshly. “Even when I wanna be alone, I still get to see your ugly face. I wonder why you’re everywhere even when I don’t wanna see that ugly face of yours. Why the fuck can’t you just…” “Excuse me!” Travis was shocked. “You saw me when I arrived here this afternoon. I had a very important meeting and got unlucky when I saw you here. Otherwise, I didn’t even plan on looking at your face today. But what can I do, I have far more important things to do than following you around. So don’t be so sure of yourself, Mr. Gonzalez!” Travis was telling the truth. He had no intention of seeing Antonio and his family that day. He hadn’t planned it but he loved the fact that Antonio, Bruce, and Andrea’s moods were ruined. He wasn’t gonna give them any peace. “I don’t wanna quarrel with you!” Travis said, putting his hands together. “But the fact is that both of us are here. Why don’t we just mind our own business?” With those words, he angrily passed Antonio but the guy’s hand was so quick that it caught his arm and brought him back. “What the hell do you want now?” Travis furiously brushed Antonio’s handoff. “I was about to leave you and your privacy alone. What do you still want?” Antonio’s face got stern as he got closer to the boy, raising his finger at him. “Whatever games you’re trying to play, Travis, I am warning you.” He groaned. “You don’t wanna mess with me because you’ll regret it. I told you at the office yesterday that I can be a beast so don’t mess with me. Why do you want to aggravate the wounds that haven’t even completely healed?” Travis laughed, raising an eyebrow. “Mr. Gonzalez, I am really tired and I don’t want to talk to you.” He put his hands together angrily. “I don’t wanna be rude right now because I have a lot on my mind. What do you think of me?” He shook his head, getting stern. “Do you think I don’t have a life too? I don’t have time to be chasing you and your family for whatever fucking reason you think I’d do that. Please!” Both of them looked at each other angrily and groaned, stamping their foot on the ground. They tried to pass each other and go separate ways but something happened, something that surprised both of them. A piece of Travis’ shirt got stuck on Antonio’s expensive gold necklace. Both of them stopped and looked at each other and then looked away angrily again. Antonio was really mad. He didn’t even know how a piece of Travis’ shirt had gotten up to his necklace. Antonio groaned and then slowly took his necklace and tried getting Travis’ shirt out. But Travis was a bit far so Antonio got a bit closer. Travis rolled his eyes angrily and did his best not to look in Antonio’s eyes. He didn’t want to look into his face but he was angry. But Antonio was taking too long again. He opened his mouth to speak, raised his head but his nose brushed on Antonio’s, and both of them looked at each other. Antonio wanted to look away but he found himself getting hypnotized. Suddenly, the world seemed to stop moving and everything around them disappeared. It was like they were in a world of their own, or at least, Antonio was. He finally managed to get the piece of the shirt out but he didn’t even realize it. He just kept staring into those eyes, feeling a warmth that took away his anger. Suddenly, Bruce who had just met up with Ethan came to the pool and found the two in the same position. Bruce felt like liquid electricity had just been poured into his system as his body vibrated painfully and he clenched his fists. His breaths turned into pants and he groaned angrily, furiously rushing to where the two were. Although Ethan was shocked, he knew that trouble was gonna bloom so he rushed after Bruce. “Such a bitch!” Bruce barked as he rushed to Antonio and Travis. Both Antonio and Travis heard his angry voice and they came back to the real world. Antonio quickly moved away from Travis and stood at a distance, looking at his raging husband. Shit, what had just happened, he thought? Travis on the other hand just stood still, staring at Bruce like he was a mad man or something. Deep down, he wanted to smile but he seemed stern. He could see the anger on the man’s face and he just acted shocked. “What the fuck do you think you’re doing trying to seduce my husband?” He roared, standing a distance from Travis. “You’re such a whore! I know the only reason why you came here was so that you could try and seduce him with your stinking body.” Travis chuckled, shaking his head. “Bruce…” “You wanted to seduce my husband, huh?” He bellowed. “Huh?” He groaned angrily, his fists clenched, and then started running angrily towards Travis. He wasn’t gonna let it go this time. He was gonna fight him to the death. “I’ll kill you!” Ethan got scared when he saw Bruce running to Travis. He knew what was gonna happen. He started running as fast as his legs could carry him and just as Bruce was about to grip Travis, Ethan reached there quickly and wrapped an arm around Travis’ shoulder, getting him out of the way. Things happened so quickly that Bruce didn’t even realize how it happened. The next thing, he found himself diving into the pool with a splash. Ethan covered his mouth because he hadn’t expected that. He looked at Travis and quickly let him go. “Oh my God,” Bruce gasped when he got his head out. “Oh… fuck…” Bruce looked at Travis and felt so much hatred for him. He was really mad. It was Travis that was supposed to be in the water getting the humiliation of his life and not him. He wasn’t gonna let it go. He looked at his husband and the man was just standing there, staring at him without even saying anything. “Fuck, no!” Bruce angrily swam to the edge of the pool and got himself out. He was dripping wet and it was a freaking cold night. He furiously got up and started rushing to Travis with his finger raised. He had had enough of him. “Bruce, please…” Ethan stretched his hand, blocking Bruce from Travis. “…it was just an accident. Don’t make a scene!” “An accident!” Bruce scoffed, fighting his tears. “This bitch has always been trying to seduce my husband. But I am warning you!” He roared. “Stay away from my husband or else I am gonna do something that both of us won’t like.” “Husband?” Travis gasped in mock astonishment. “I don’t even know what you’re talking about. My shirt got entangled with his…” “Liar!” He screamed, shaking his head. “Do you think I am a fool? First, you came here pretending to have a meeting, and now you’re trying to seduce my husband. He’s mine and you won’t succeed in your plans. My husband is only mine!” “Bruce, please…” Antonio finally spoke, trying to get him away from there. But the guy withdrew his hand. “…what the hell are you talking about? You know very well that I wouldn’t do anything with him. The only reason why you found us…” “I don’t wanna hear it and I don’t care!” He yelled, giving his husband angry eyes. “The only thing I know is that this whore here is trying to take you away from me. I won’t allow that. Don’t think that I am stupid and I didn’t see that.” “Bruce…” Antonio called softly. “There’s no way I am gonna lose to him.” He yelled, clenching his fists. He furiously looked at his husband. “I don’t even want him to come close to you. I forbid you from even talking to him.” “Babe…” “Each time he’s around us, he always seems to have one motive. He wants you to fuck him and…” “Bruce…” “I am never going to allow that.” He got closer to Travis, raising his fist in Travis’ face. “Do you hear me? This man is only mine and only I have access to him.” He yelled, surprising Travis. That was another level of anger. “I will kill you before I let you seduce him. He’s mine… his body is mine, his lips, and even his dick. If you think…” “Will you shut the fuck up?” Antonio snapped, roaring like a lion. Bruce got shocked when he heard the tone Antonio had just used on him. He quickly turned and what he saw scared him big time. Antonio’s eyes were blood-red… he was breathing like a monster and his fists were clenched. His body vibrated and the look he gave Bruce was scary. “What?” Bruce gasped, feeling pain forming in his heart. “Honey, did you just…” “Yes!” Antonio snarled. “Why the hell do you always like creating unnecessary drama?” “What?” Bruce couldn’t fight his tears. They came flowing. He couldn’t believe what was happening. “What have I done? I was only trying to defend my husband and now you’re shouting at me? You should be angry at him and not me!” “You know what?” Antonio raised his hands like he was giving up. “I am done with this. You can do whatever the fuck you want to do.” With those words, he angrily turned and started leaving but… he felt a powerful grip on his shirt that stopped him. Antonio furiously looked at what was holding his shirt, a hand, and then looked up to find Bruce looking at him in anger. Bruce had gripped his shirt and oh, Antonio was mad. He couldn’t believe Bruce had just done that. “What the…” He couldn’t even finish his sentence. “What do you think you’re doing?” “How dare you, Antonio!” Bruce sneered, his jaws shaking. “How dare you talk to me like that in front of Travis? What was my crime, huh? Is defending what’s mine a crime now? You’re my husband and…” “Let go of my shirt!” Antonio said in between clenched teeth, trying to contain his anger. “Right now.” An evil grin appeared on Travis as he watched the two fighting. He hadn’t planned on causing a fight but since it had started, he had no choice but to watch happily with his arms folded. “No!” Bruce shook his head. “You’re being unfair!” “I said get off!” Antonio pulled his shirt furiously from Bruce’s grip. “What the fuck do you think of me? Do you think I am such a man whore that I can easily be seduced by anyone? Do you think I am a sex freak that can be seduced by anyone? I can’t believe you think of me like that, my husband. Wow!” He clapped angrily, surprising the guy. “What a husband you turned out to be.” “Guys, please, let’s calm down and…” “Calm down!” Antonio snapped, glancing at his friend. “I have been calm this entire time. But what the whole point of talking to someone that doesn’t even trust you. It’s a waste of time.” He got closer to Bruce, looking into his teary eyes. “Now you listen to me, I don’t give a fuck about what kind of man you think I am but please, keep it yourself. I have tolerated enough from you already. I followed you to this freaking resort to make you happy and show you that I loved you but it looks like I wasted my time.” He shook his head angrily and stormed out of there with Ethan following behind, trying to make him understand. Bruce was left alone with tears on his face, wondering what had just happened. Antonio had just shouted at him right in front of their enemy. It was really painful and Bruce cried softly. He slowly looked in the direction of Travis and saw that mocking smile on his face. He could tell the boy was satisfied with what had happened. Bruce furiously rubbed his tears and rushed to Travis, pointing his shaky finger at him. “Don’t think that you’ve achieved anything by this.” He warned, his voice sounding like a storm. “I will get you for this, Travis. Mark my words, you’ll pay for this humiliation. If I were you, I would be scared because you’ve just woken a monster inside and this monster… will destroy you. I promise you this, Travis!” He stormed out of there with more tears flooding his face. Travis chuckled in mock. “You had made me feel the same pain in the past, Bruce. You and Andrea. You had hurt me, mocked me, and later destroyed me along with Antonio.” His face got stern as memories of his past filled his head. “Now wait and watch how I destroy you. I will make you feel every pain I felt years ago.” He vowed. “I swear! You’ll feel every bit of it!” An evil grin appeared on Travis’ face as he walked out of there, laughing sinisterly. What has he got planned next?
  2. The doors to the great mansion flung open, revealing a gorgeous man, Travis, standing there and looking tense. As soon as the doors opened, his eyes scanned the place and he felt a cold wind hit his face, sending shivers down his spine. He held his hands together as he took the first step inside, looking all around. The place looks deserted, at least, he loved that Antonio had kept to his end of the deal. He didn’t want anyone to see him. As he slowly entered the house, he had no idea where the wind came from, blowing his hair backward. He was feeling nervous as he scanned the entire living room. Sure, the mansion looked bigger and expensive compared to the previous one they had lived in but that didn’t prevent him from feeling like an outcast. Everything in that place looked expensive. Funny thing was that he felt the same way he had felt when he had brought home six years back. But this time, he wasn’t the same old boy. He was stronger and courageous. ‘I am not your husband.’ Antonio’s words began haunting him. ‘You’ll leave this house and you’ll never return. You’re a whore and I hate cheaters.’ “Calm down, Travis!” He muttered, taking a deep breath. “You can do this. You’re just trying to help the woman that showed you love.” He took a deep breath and started going upstairs, still looking around. He could still remember the note that the doctor had given him. Granny’s room was on the second floor, the third room on the left so that was where he was headed. Travis finally reached the second floor and the first thing he saw was a huge picture of Antonio and Bruce’s wedding. They both seemed so happy, smiling brightly. Antonio had his arms tightly locked around Bruce’s waist while he kissed his cheek and Bruce had his head turned so that his eyes were on Antonio. They seemed happy and there were also several wedding portraits there. Travis clenched his fist as he felt a sharp vibration to make his body jerk. Seeing that picture made him hurt because it reminded him of his past pain and how Antonio had betrayed him. Antonio had gotten married exactly a year after they got separated. It was like everything had been planned. *** 6 years ago * “Can you please wait for a second?” Richard asked as he parked the car. “I have to get something. You must be hungry and I am sure…” He chuckled as his hand rubbed on Travis’ big baby bump. “…my little grandson is also hungry.” Travis gave a fake smile, nodding. It had been six weeks since his threatened miscarriage and he was yet to recover from the aftermath. His father had been doing all he could to make him happy and although he smiled from time to time, he was still not happy. “Alright! I’ll be back.” He leaned forward and kissed his son’s cheek. “I know just what to get you.” Richard left the car and Travis started rubbing on his tummy, enjoying the feeling of having a life growing inside of him. His father had hired a private doctor, who still couldn’t understand how Travis got pregnant. No one except them knew about Travis’ pregnant and Richard had spent millions just to make sure his son was safe. A smile, a genuine smile popped up Travis’ face when he felt his baby kick. He was suddenly felt with a myriad of emotions and he cried softly, chuckling. He couldn’t believe the emotions that hit him at that moment. It was indeed a moment of joy. He quickly raised his head, looking towards the direction his father had gone to see if he was coming back. He wanted to tell him the good news. But as soon as he raised his head, he lost the smile on his face. All the joy instantly turned to unbearable pain. His heart ached and a huge lump began forming in his throat. It was painful. Antonio, the man that he loved limitlessly was coming from the same restaurant his father had gone in. But he was not alone. He was with Bruce and the two of them were kissing. They seemed happy, kissing shamelessly in front of the restaurant. Shit! It hurt like hell. Bruce’s arms were locked around Antonio’s neck as Antonio’s were on Bruce’s waist. They seemed so happy. How could they be happy, Travis thought as his face got flooded with tears? It had only been six months since Travis left and Antonio was already acting as nothing had ever happened. He was acting like he had been waiting for such a moment for a long time like he was now fully happy? How could he? Travis rubbed on his tummy as he looked away, using his long hair to shield himself from that painful view. His heart bled and he sobbed quietly, wondering why he was going through all that. It was so painful. The door to the car opened and… “Son, what’s going on?” Richard asked, holding his hand. “Are you okay? Is the baby okay?” “Let’s go!” He muttered, holding on tightly to his father’s hand. “I want to get out of here. Please!” Richard felt his heart bleed when he saw what made his son weep. He didn’t even waste any time. He drove off, rubbing on his son’s back. Travis was still crying. “As soon as you give birth, I’m getting you out of here.” Richard sniveled. “I swear, we’ll go far away from all this. We’ll start over alone. I promise!” Travis didn’t care where. He just wanted to start anew. It was so difficult to forget about everything when all the things in that country reminded him of Antonio and his pain. It was so difficult. *** Present-day * But that didn’t happen at all. Richard died two days after the birth of Sean, leaving a really deep hole in Travis’ heart. For six years, he’d been yearning for his love, his presence. He still dreamt of him and he just wished that he could have gotten at least more time to get to know his father better. He died through all this madness. That was one of the reasons Travis hated Antonio so much. He took his father away from him. Travis got out of his thoughts and he realized that he had tears on his face. He quickly wiped them, shaking his head. “No, Travis…” He said softly. “…you’ve cried too much. No more crying. Now it will be someone else’s turn.” He wiped his face clean and went straight to granny’s room. As soon as he opened the door, granny woke up and she smiled brightly at him. She sat up and then held her hands to him. “You came!” She smiled brightly. “Antonio told me that you’d come. My angel!” Travis smiled brightly and rushed to granny, holding her hands. “Yes! I am here to take care of you. But I need you to listen to me, okay?” Granny nodded. “Anything, as long as you don’t leave me again.” Travis nodded, kissing the old woman’s hands. He could see just how happy she was and he was happy too. He was gonna make sure that she was back to being the woman she was before he left. *** Antonio and his family entered the gorgeous mansion and they were all dressed wonderfully and they were all happy. Brandrea was a success and the fashion show had been superb. There had been so many businessmen and women in attendance and they all wanted a piece of Brandrea. The fashion show had been a bomb and both Bruce and Andrea were pretty confident about the outcome. After all, Bruce was one of the models and he had killed it on the runway. As soon as Antonio stepped inside the house, he had a strange feeling, a really strange one. It was like something was about to happen or something had already happened. He quickly scanned everywhere but didn’t see anyone. “Granny!” He hollered as he started rushing upstairs. “Granny!” “Antonio!” Eduardo quickly followed him behind, wondering what was wrong with him. “Bro!” But Antonio ignored him. He rushed inside granny’s room to get the shock of his life. Granny was seated on the bed and she was with the nurse that had been taking care of her. Granny was having her dinner without any problem and it shocked Antonio. He hadn’t expected that at all. “Granny!” He rushed to her. Granny quickly smiled when she saw her grandson. “You look handsome, my baby boy.” Antonio giggled as he sat by his granny’s side, taking her hand. He was dressed in a beautiful blue striped designer’s suit with a black shirt inside and black shoes. He was looking gorgeous and he had received many compliments that night. But none made him as happy as his granny. “How are you feeling?” Granny nodded. “I am alright. My angel took very good care of me.” She said in a perfectly normal voice. “He’s very nice and really beautiful. He told me that… he will be coming more often if I take my medicines on time and not give trouble.” Antonio chuckled but he was still very curious. “Um, granny… do you know who this angel is?” He asked in a curious tone. “I mean, have you seen him before?” Granny shook her head, taking a spoonful of her food from the nurse. “I feel I have seen him before but… I don’t remember. I just love him and that’s all.” Antonio nodded, losing the smile on his face. ‘Who could this person be, someone that doesn’t even want money or to meet me?’ He got lost in his thoughts and he didn’t even realize it. ‘And why do I get this strange feeling that this person knows me already but doesn’t want to be known?’ Antonio was still lost in his thoughts when he felt a hand on his shoulder. It was the nurse and she had a note with her. He quickly took it and then opened it. ‘Just keep to your end of the agreement and I’ll keep on taking care of your grandmother. If you break any of the conditions, our deal will be off. Stay out of my way and they’ll be cooperation.’ Antonio held the note closely, wondering why the boy wanted to be mysterious. “Err…. Did you see the boy, nurse?” The nurse shook her head. “Not really. He had just left your granny to rest before I arrived.” Antonio nodded. “Thanks a lot. Granny…” He looked at his grandmother. “…I’ll be back.” Granny just nodded and continued taking her food. Antonio found his brother in the doorway and both of them went downstairs where Bruce and Andrea were still celebrating. “How’s mom?” Emma asked, getting closer to him. “I don’t know,” Antonio muttered, looking a bit lost. “I’d say she’s better now. She looks normal and she allowed her nurse to feed her today.” “That’s great!” Emma gasped, touching her chest. “That means she’s getting better. What did…” “The boy left before the nurse arrived.” Antonio chimed in, taking a seat on the couch. Celine sighed, rubbing her forehead. “But I don’t understand him. Why does he still insist on not being seen by anyone? He doesn’t want money or anything from us. What if he’s up to something?” “Who cares?” Andrea shrugged, rolling her eyes. “As long as granny likes him and he doesn’t create trouble for anyone then…. I am okay with it.” Bruce nodded. “But what if he has a motive? What if he asks for the impossible in the end and…” “As long as granny is okay, I don’t care.” Antonio rose from the couch. “It doesn’t matter what he wants. It doesn’t even matter who he is. It is none of our business. As I said, I don’t want anyone getting in his way. Whenever he is here, all of us shouldn’t get in his way. Go shopping or something. We’ve got a lot of businesses. You can take active participation in that. But anyone that will cause us to lose granny’s angel will get it from me.” He left upstairs to change, feeling a little at peace. But he still felt like he wanted to know more about the boy. Who was he? *** “Okay, baby…” Travis opened his arms widely, falling to his knees. “…come give daddy a kiss.” Sean rushed to Travis and kissed him right on the lips. Travis chuckled and then held his son in his arms. “How was school, my love?” “It was nice. But I missed you and I want my chocolate.” Travis laughed at his son’s words. “I missed you too but guess what…” He paused and kissed on his cheek. “…go to daddy’s room and you’ll find your chocolate on the bed.” “Yeh!” Sean jumped happily in Travis’ arms. “Not just yet!” Travis’ face got stern. “What do you say to daddy?” “I love you, daddy,” Sean giggled, kissing his father on the cheek. “Love you too.” He let his son go and smiled and was interrupted by Vanessa clearing her throat. He turned around and found her staring at him with a frown on her face. “So, how did it go?” She asked in a curious tone. “Do you feel at peace now?” Travis sighed and then went to his aunt. He took her hands and kissed them, leading her to the living room. “Aunt, I know that you’re really worried about this. But don’t worry, I promise that I am being careful. No one…” “I just don’t want you to get hurt again.” She was really worried. “I had seen the state you were in six years ago and it nearly killed me. I don’t think my strength will pull me through if…” “Nothing like that is gonna happen, aunt!” He shook his head. “I am never going to get hurt in the hands of that family ever again. And I don’t want to see you like that anymore. Cheer up, aunt. Forget about me going to that house. It was purely just to make sure that granny gets better. I don’t know how I would have survived in that house without her. At least, I owe that to her.” Vanessa sighed. “I just want you to be safe.” “I am.” He hugged her tightly. “Besides, you should be smiling. Our line of shoes and clothes are ready. We are taking them to the store tomorrow morning. And I am sure that ‘Reves’ will just be doing okay.” “Reves?” Vanessa raised her eyebrow. “That’s dreams in French.” Travis sighed. “Yes! I created this line because a lot of people have dreams to wear Tonzalez brands but they can’t afford it. That’s why I made them cheap and simple. It will be a dream come true to some people out there.” Vanessa smiled, cupping his cheeks. “You’re still the same person, Travis. Your father must be very proud of you.” Travis got emotional and just nodded. He didn’t want to tell Vanessa that he missed Richard because he knew she missed him a lot too. He didn’t wanna bring unnecessary emotions. *** “Congratulations, you two…” One of the board members said, hugging Andrea and Bruce. “…Brandrea has been a success and it’s only been two days but the sales are impressive.” Bruce chuckled. “That’s what happens when you know what you’re doing and it’s all about class and sexiness. Nothing can ever go wrong.” He looked at Andrea and both of them chuckled seductively. “You truly are Antonio’s sister and husband. Both of you have the talent and you’ve never disappointed.” The woman added. She sounded impressed. Why wouldn’t she be? After all, this was Bruce, a great model, and Antonio’s sister. “Thank you so much.” Andrea smiled. “Just stick around and I promise that you haven’t seen anything yet.” The two beauties turned and started cat walking away, wearing those mocking smiles on their faces. They were both dressed in sexy blue attires. Attires was wearing a short blue dress with red high heels and Bruce was wearing a blue sexy jumpsuit, killing it with some sneakers. Both their hairs were in ponytails and their spirits were high that day. But their joys hit the sky when they saw Travis slowly walking while getting lost in a document that he was holding. He was dressed to kill in a pink and yellow striped shirt that was tucked in a black skinny trouser with cross belts that made him look sexy as hell and gray shoes that graced his feet. He had his long hair in a braided ponytail, revealing his face. When they saw him, they slowly walked to him with evil grins. “Hi, Travis….” Andrea said, slightly moving to his ears. Travis slowly dropped his hands, turning to find the two evil twins staring at him like they just wanted to laugh at him. But he didn’t even say anything. He rather just looked at them, wishing they could go away. “How’s your brand doing, Travis?” Andrea asked mockingly, trying her best not to laugh. But she didn’t know for how long it was gonna hold. “We heard it’s… underwhelming just like you!” Travis grinned. “Well, the line has just been released so the current sales don’t mean that it won’t do well. I think all that we need is a little more time and everything will be fine.” “Current sales?” Bruce laughed, getting closer. “Well, those are excuses. There is absolutely nothing. You haven’t sold a single piece for two days. Why don’t you just admit that you’re just like your shoes, cheap and unworthy?” “Excuse me!” Travis said in mock astonishment. “Are you supposed to be funny right now, Bruce? If I were you, I wouldn’t be so confident. And just because something is cheap doesn’t mean that it’s unworthy. Some people find gold, satisfaction, peace, and joy in cheap things. That’s why some things considered cheap are always the priority.” He added, dropping his neck like he was in pleasure. “I know of some things or rather some people who consider themselves expensive but they’re second rates.” He said in a flirtatious voice. Suddenly, Bruce didn’t find it funny anymore. All the joy in his heart melted away, replaced by terrible anger. His breaths became harsh and he clenched his fists, feeling his heart pounding sharply in his chest. He was so pissed because he knew Travis was talking about him. He was talking about his marriage to Antonio. “How dare you?” He roared. “Who do you think you are to talk to me like that?” “Why?” Travis shrugged, rubbing on his temple like he was thinking of something. “Are you guilty or something? I was just trying to make you understand a point. And besides, I don’t think you have what it takes to give me advice on this matter. Sure, you’re pretty smart, Bruce but when it comes to designing, I don’t think you have what it takes to give me advice on that.” “And you think you are better than us?” Bruce glowered, his voice getting higher. He was starting to hyperventilate. “You don’t stand a chance because your brand is still out there and it isn’t doing shit.” “But there’s nothing wrong in trying,” Travis said simply, opening his arms like he was expecting a hug. “If that’s the case then why waste time with your petty comments if you have nothing to fear when it comes to that?” “That’s right!” Andrea agreed. “We’ve got nothing to fear because our brands will bring billions to this company. As it is, we have many clients already demanding Brandrea. We’re not afraid of what you can do. We’re just saving you from future embarrassments. That is all. So that you can still have your dignity. Travis gave a half-smile, shaking his head. “Thanks for your advice but I don’t need it. And if you guys are done trying to make me feel better, then I have somewhere to go. Excuse me!” When he left, the two friends laughed loudly because they’d won already. *** Travis was looking at the figures for their sales and he wasn’t impressed at all. They hadn’t sold a single piece since they released the brand. It was somehow scary and he felt like he had lost all the resources he had used. He had expected sales to be slow but not standing still for two whole days. “Come on, guys…” He gave a gloomy sigh, looking at some of the interns there. They looked sad and hopeless. “What are we doing wrong?” “We don’t know, sir!” Lizzy, the oldest blonde intern muttered, her eyes on the floor. “We’ve been in this store for two days now and everyone that comes in here just looks at them and buy other things, expensive things.” Travis felt terrible. He felt terrible. He was at one of Tonzalez blue fashion shop which was located in a big chain store and he had thought that it was gonna help but it didn’t. “What do we do, sir?” They asked. Travis didn’t know how to help his team. He could tell that they were all shattered and he to find a way out soon. Travis sighed as he took a walk around the shop, trying to figure a way out. But as he was moving, praying to the almighty to provide a way for him, his eyes caught something. It was a little girl who was with her mother. She was staring through the window outside, pointing at the shoes, admiring them. But that was all she was doing. Seeing that beautiful scene, Travis rushed to his team and then went with positive energy. “Guys, I think we’re not doing anything wrong.” He hollered, clapping his hands hard. “The only problem is that the target market is afraid of coming inside here. Tonzalez blue is known for its production of classy and expensive brands. To them, everything here is expensive. But if they can’t come to us, then we’ll go to them.” Everybody was confused. But they got the whole thing when Travis started taking some of their brands outside, putting them on the floor, right outside the shop. The interns started helping him and they got all their brands outside. Then Travis even did something crazier. He started shouting, calling the customers, and shouting the prices just like street vendors and he was so loud. It didn’t take long and customers started coming quickly, buying the shoes and clothes in bulk. It was amazing and the interns were impressed. They hadn’t thought that someone as rich and beautiful as Travis would try that. They helped him out and in just a matter of minutes, the entire place was crowded with different people, especially people from the lower and middle class. Travis and his team sold so much that they couldn’t even believe that happened. *** From that day sales continued increasing and the demand for the brand was nothing like Travis had ever imagined it could be. They used to go out in the streets to sell, promote their brand, and also sale them at even cheaper prices. Travis was more than happy. Orphanages, non-governmental organizations, some companies, and even individuals ordered more and more goods. The sales each day were getting higher and Travis never ceased to thank his team. They were now considered the best at the company. Travis was managing his life, from taking care of his son, spending time with him to taking care of granny, making sure that she was alright. And of course, in addition to his own companies which were also demanding more of him, it was such work. But he was thankful he had Vanessa by his side. She helped him a lot and his companies were rising. And of course, Antonio was still giving him the same trouble as always. He wasn’t surprised though…. But everything was going the way it was supposed to be and he loved it so much. *** 2 Weeks later * Travis was walking gracefully inside Tonzalez blue, wearing that smile that made people fantasize about him. Every worker was watching him, talking among themselves with grins on their faces. He could hear moans from some of them and he smiled, even more, waving at them. He was happy. He was wearing a dark blue designer’s shirt tucked in black skinny jeans with brown shoes on his feet. He had his hair into braids and he was looking sexy. Everyone that saw him probably creamed their panties. That was how sexy he was looking for. But he was a happy soul. He went to the conference room and as soon as he entered, a balloon popped and people started cheering. Travis chuckled as he looked all around the conference room, wondering what was going. The entire conference room was filled with decorations, beautiful but simple decorations, and flowers. There was a huge cake on the table and he also noticed that his entire team was in that room. “Oh my God,” He gasped, smiling at the people while holding his cheeks. “What’s going on?” “We’re celebrating you.” Paul rushed to him, kissed his cheek, and gave him a bouquet. “Me?” He was confused. “What have I done?” “What have you not done?” Paul sighed, wrapping an arm around Travis. “You’ve brought us a contract that’s what. We just received a big fish this morning. He has offered us a 500 million dollar contract and all because of your brand. He was very impressed and aside from that…” Paul paused and looked into the eyes of the beautiful boy. “…since the release of your brand, it has recorded the highest number of sales ever seen at this company. Isn’t that reason enough to celebrate?” Everyone was now clapping again. “Come here!” Paul took him to the table where the cake was. He gave him a well-decorated knife, holding his hand sweetly. “Now why don’t you cut this cake so that we can celebrate together?” Travis glanced at Paul and then took the knife from him. He cut the cake into pieces as everyone else clapped cheerfully, some of the whistling. Travis thanked his team and fed them the cake. He was really happy. Meanwhile, Bruce and Andrea were standing near a corner and they were so pissed. Their blood was boiling and they were so, so mad. They just wanted to grip those braids on his head, pull on them, and strangle him with them. That’s how mad they were. They couldn’t believe that someone like Travis had just outsmarted them and now they had to watch him celebrate his success. It was painful. They just wished Antonio had been there. But he had gone to an important meeting and he was yet to arrive. “Hey there!” Travis greeted, waving at the two of them. “How’s it going? Why are you standing there? I brought you some cake so that you can join in on our celebration.” Travis tried to feed Andrea the cake but she quickly gripped his hand. “Over my dead body would I eat anything from your hands?” She hissed, pushing his hand away. “I would rather eat poison than do that.” “Oh really!” Travis’ eyes opened. “Bruce?” He asked but Bruce rolled his eyes and looked away. “Okay.” He took the piece of cake and ate it in front of them, licking his fingers while moaning. “Delicious! Do you know what else tastes delicious right now? Your failure!” Andrea furiously dropped her arms. “Don’t celebrate just yet!” She snapped, pointing his finger at him. Luckily, everyone else was busy celebrating to notice what was going on. “You haven’t won anything. That was just beginner’s luck, Travis.” “Beginner’s luck?” Travis laughed. “Just accept it, Andrea. Your designs were inferior and that’s why they failed. No matter what you or your brother in law can do, I’ll always be ready for you Andrea. One thing I can tell you is that… now, you’re gonna have to work really hard to prove yourself.” “How dare you?” Andrea rolled. “This is my company and…” “And I am a shareholder!” Travis chimed in. “I own part of it. I am also a board member and so… whatever you say to me doesn’t matter. You were so confident in your designs and you even had a fashion show for it. What happened?” Andrea clenched her fists. She was so mad that she was breathing like an evil queen from a fairytale story. “Anyway, good luck!” He turned and left the two of them there. “Uh…” Andrea groaned, furiously stamping her foot on the floor. “I hate that bitch. He’ll pay for this, I swear. He’s gonna pay.” Bruce didn’t say anything but what he had in his mind was pure evil. *** Antonio took a sip of his coffee, sitting comfortably in his comfy chair with his legs on the table. He was feeling at peace and he even had a smile on his face. He had just been from recording one of his songs and he felt really happy. “Wow!” Ethan said in surprise when he entered the office. “Is this you right now? Are you smiling?” Antonio looked at his friend and laughed. “Is there any reason to be sad? I feel a bit at peace. Granny is doing okay, I just recorded a song and…” “And you just got a new contract!” Ethan chimed in as he took a seat on the table, grinning at his friend. Antonio sighed gloomily, losing his smile. “I don’t wanna talk about that, Ethan.” He didn’t want anything to remind him of Travis or Praveen. “I don’t even care about that fucking contract.” “Are you sure?” Ethan asked, rubbing on his chin. “Do you not care about the contract or you are just upset that the reason for that contract is Travis?” He got off the table and walked to his friend. “I know of your hatred for Praveen, my brother and I understand you. He had hurt all of us and all of us probably feel the same…” “He didn’t just hurt me!” Antonio clenched his fists, hitting them hard on the table. “That boy ripped my very soul and whatever reminds me of him makes me fume.” “But Travis…” Ethan sighed, shaking his head. “…I haven’t interacted with him but from whatever you guys say, he acts differently from Praveen. Don’t you think…” “I don’t give a damn whether he’s Praveen or Travis. That boy makes me fume whenever I see him.” He rolled, getting off the chair. “Everything about him, his face, his body, and even the way he smiles reminds me of that cheater. It is unacceptable to me and as long as he is in my company, he’s gonna have to deal with me.” He vowed, furiously looking at his friend. Ethan raised his hands like he was surrendering. He didn’t wanna make his friend more upset. “Anyway, are you going to the party tonight?” “Am I?” Antonio laughed at the top of his voice. “Of course, I am going. And you’re coming with me.” “Wouldn’t miss it for the world,” Ethan said abruptly, shaking his head. “That party is like royalty, only comes once in a year. I get to mingle with my fellow businessmen plus…” He opened his arms widely, winking at Antonio. “…I get to meet some cuties there and if I am lucky, I might get laid tonight.” Antonio burst into laughter. “You’re insane. Get out of here!” He took a book and threw it right at Ethan. Ethan dodged the book and laughed, quickly moving away from his friend. “You’re crazy. But you’ll need to go early. You know that many people go there just so that they can have an interaction with you.” Antonio laughed, shaking his head. He watched as his friend left and then went back to his work. At least, for that day he just wanted to be away from Tonzalez blue so that he could save himself from the headache of seeing Travis. The guy had been at the company for three freaking weeks but Antonio’s hatred and anger continued growing. Or was it? *** As expected that day, the entire five-star hotel was sparkling with gold and silver decors, expensive flowers, and all the food and entertainment. The annual business party was finally here, the party that was held by the governor himself where businessmen and politicians met just to mingle and party, away from their businesses. It was always the party that everyone was looking forward to. And it was only attended by powerful businessmen and politicians. It was always a party to look forward to. This time, the governor had gone the extra mile by hosting the party at one of the best five-star hotel’s main hall in the city. Everything was classy and there was even a red carpet this time where numerous people from media were busy capturing every moment. Even magazine companies had sent their people for the bigger story. Expensive, gorgeous cars were arriving were big businessmen, single married and dating came out with their dates that night, except for a few that were just alone. Celebrities arrived and the media had their cameras rolling to capture them. That night everyone was dressed to kill in designer clothes, ranging from suits to classy skinny jeans to beautiful gowns worn by the ladies and different hairstyles. It was going to be a night to remember. But suddenly, the moment everyone had been waiting for arrived. A big, red, and beautiful limousine arrived and parked right there and people were already screaming in excitement. All the cameras, the media, and almost everyone’s eyes shifted to the big car. People had their cameras ready and their hearts were already racing. The guard quickly got out of the car and rushed to open the door. He was dressed smartly in a black suit. He opened the door and bowed for his master and before the master even came out, cameras were already shattering. And when he finally got out, the media surrounded him, trying to take their best shot. They couldn’t have enough of him. Antonio Gonzalez was always one of the people everyone was looking forward to seeing at such parties. For the last six years since he started attending the annual party, he’d been slaying it on the carpet and everyone there got a chance to see the sexy hunk. Antonio Gonzalez was dressed in a pitch-black designer’s tuxedo with what looked to be golden stripes on the jacket running vertically. He had a red shirt inside with a bowtie and black shoes. His hair was well gelled and then combed backward, revealing his gorgeous face on which he wore a smile. He looked expensive, smelled expensive, and had many people horny there. They took all the pictures that they could. But of course, as expected, Antonio was graced by his loving husband who was equally killing it since he was a model and all. He was wearing a red designer’s tight trousers, a blue designer’s tuxedo with a black shirt inside a bowtie like his husband. His white sparkly shoes were adorable and he had his hair made into many braids. He was happy and he was holding on to his husband like he just wanted to be a part of him, literally warning every idiot there to back off. And of course, cameras were also rolling for Antonio’s sister and her date for that evening, Ethan. She was wearing a beautiful blue, sparkly gown that showed her curves. It was long, touched the ground but had a long slit too from half her thigh down. She had silver sparkly high heels on her feet and her hair was all curled and loose. She had expensive jewelry on her and being with a man as handsome as Ethan, she was happy as fuck. Ethan was dressed in a red tuxedo with a green shirt inside and yellow shoes. Antonio slowly walked to the entrance of the auditorium, busy waving at the smiling people. He was really happy and this time, he was sure that nothing was gonna ruin that happiness for him. At least, he deserved a night of forgetting about his troubles. “And there’s my handsome celebrity!” The governor hollered, opening his arms widely when he saw Antonio. Antonio gave him a tight hug, patting on his back. The governor was a man in his mid-50s and one of the most powerful businessmen in the country. He was dressed beautifully in a black designer’s suit, white shirt inside, and pitch-black shoes. His hair was completely removed but he slew his baldness and he looked younger that way. He had gray eyes and a cute rounded face. “I am looking forward to you performing tonight, Antonio.” The governor commented, powerfully shaking the young man’s hands. “I mean, what’s the purpose of having a great celebrity if I don’t get to enjoy him, right?” Antonio laughed, nodding. “I agree but maybe next time. I didn’t come prepared. Just look…” “I know that excuse was coming.” The governor laughed. “But at least, you’ll have to dance, right? They’ll be a great performance tonight and I expect you to dance with the celebrity dancers. Show them how it’s done.” Antonio scratched his head, trying to find the right answer to give the man. “If you say so then…” He paused and smiled. “…I will do that for you.” “Great! And Bruce darling…” He leaned forward and pecked the fashion gold. “…you look ravishing tonight.” “Thank you so much, governor!” Bruce blushed, clinging to his husband even more. “You’re welcome and tonight…” The governor pointed. “…I expect you guys to sit on the table with me. And tonight… I have an important…” But the governor didn’t even finish his sentence as people starting gasping… Whoa! Wow! OMG! Those were the words that people were using. It was like something had suddenly gotten their attention. Even the media people that had been taking pictures of Antonio and the governor rushed away from there, making Antonio wonder where they were going. But when he turned to see what everyone was looking at…. He was blown away. For a second, time stood still and Antonio felt his heart begin to race… his eyes couldn’t move away from that view… everything disappeared and he even forgot how to breathe. It was suddenly cold and at first, Antonio felt that coldness hit his legs, and then it went all the way up to his spine. He couldn’t help the moan that escaped his lips. He bit his lips as suddenly, his emotions got mixed up. He didn’t know what he felt anymore. All eyes, all cameras were on that boy who looked like the god of fashion. Shit! Antonio’s head was spinning as he looked at the fashion beauty that was busy smiling as he walked down the red carpet, slaying every move that he did. He was wearing a tight, expensive-looking designer’s tight white, silvery trouser that showed his gorgeous, feminine curves and a white long-sleeved designer’s white shirt that was also tucked in. But it had what looked to be a long cape that reached the floor but at the same time, it looked like a train. He looked classy, sexy, godly, and kingly. He had beautiful white shoes on his feet with no stockings. His hair was made into a long braided ponytail with gold and silver bands and a little untouched hair in front. He took people’s hearts away and with that smile on his face, even Antonio couldn’t help but stare. Bruce on the other hand lost the smile on his face, replaced by a huge frown. He looked at his husband and could tell that he was lost just by staring at that boy. He hissed silently, feeling like he was about to burst from anger. Travis walked sexily to where the governor stood. He knew that Antonio was staring at him and he also saw that devilish look on Bruce’s face but he ignored it. He just reached the governor and the man hugged him tightly and kissed both his cheeks. “Wow, you look really beautiful!” The governor commented. He too couldn’t help but feel some lust for the boy. “Thanks for honoring my invitation.” “I wouldn’t have missed it for the world,” Travis said with a sexy grin. “It’s not every day that you get to mingle with a man like you.” “And it’s not every day one gets to be in the presence of such beauty. It is an honor.” He bowed and kissed Travis’ hand right in front of the watchful eyes and Antonio too. Antonio couldn’t help but feel a wave of jealous hit him. He didn’t even realize it did. “Your father was a great friend of mine.” The governor lost the smile on his face. “We had known each other before I even became governor and he helped me a lot. He was a powerful businessman and he shall be remembered as one. I am sorry that I didn’t attend his funeral. I was out of the country at that time.” Travis smiled sheepishly, trying to mask his emotions. “It’s okay. He was a great man. He was my hero.” The governor smiled, coiling his arm with the pretty boy. “Come, let me introduce you to…” “Antonio Gonzalez!” Travis chimed in, staring at the man that was looking at him like a piece of food. “What a coincidence. I never thought we’d meet here.” “Neither did we,” Bruce said hoarsely. “What? You know each other…” Travis looked at Antonio and gave him a wink. “He’s my business partner.” He said a little loudly. “I am one of the shareholders of Tonzalez blue.” “That makes it all better.” The governor rubbed his hands. “Shall we get this party started?” “Sure!” Travis nodded. They all started moving inside but Bruce had another plan. He moved away from Antonio, got behind him, and then stepped right on Travis train. Travis felt it and he stopped without even turning back. He knew exactly what had happened. “Oh!” Bruce chuckled in mock, walking towards Travis. “Sorry, I stepped on your long, tacky… metallic dress….” He laughed. Travis turned and pulled his train away from Bruce, losing the smile on his face. “And come to think of it…” Bruce rubbed on his lips. “…are you gonna sweep the floor?” He laughed. “You’re so thoughtful because we really could use a maid here.” Travis grinned, looking at Bruce’s attire from head to toe and then up again. He scoffed, shaking his head. “For a person who regards himself high in the fashion world, Bruce…” He laughed, getting closer. “…I must say I am very disappointed with your outfit. I expected more from you and not dress up like you picked up that outfit from one of the rejects of the fashion world.” He angrily turned and left laughing. “We’ll see who will be laughing in the end.” Bruce groaned, his fists clenching. “I am gonna make sure that you feel out of place at this party.” He laughed and followed behind. After all, he needed to guard his husband against the likes of Travis. They were hungry men. *** “Ladies and gentlemen, may I have your attention, please!” The governor announced through the microphone. “First of all, thank you so much for coming here tonight. I appreciate your presence here. Let me introduce to you our guest of honor.” He stretched his hand, smiling brightly. “Mr. Travis Marasigan, son and heir of Richard Marasigan.” To say Travis was surprised would be an understatement. He was definitely beyond shocked. He hadn’t expected the governor to announce that. He chuckled, got up from where he was seated, and went to the front where the governor stood. There were cheers as he walked to the front with people commenting on his beauty. The governor gave the microphone away as he welcomed Travis and kissed his cheek. He then coiled his arm with him and started going towards everyone, introducing him to the most important people at that party. Travis was honored by the respect that everyone gave him. He was happy. “Wow, you’re truly an image of your father.” One of the politician friends of the governor commented. “Very, very beautiful. I know that we’ll enjoy doing business with you.” “Thank you so much!” Travis smiled, shaking the man and his wife’s hands. He greeted several people, moving at the tables where they sat. Most young men there joked about seeing themselves with him on dates and he laughed with them. He just liked the fact that no one talked to him rudely. He felt accepted by them. But he didn’t miss the evil eyes of Bruce and Andrea from afar and Antonio’s eyes were also on him. “Excuse me!” He said to the governor. Then he started walking away because he wanted to make a call to his aunt, check on his little son. He knew how Sean could be at times, especially when he wasn’t home at night. Travis didn’t go far as he felt someone pull his arm. He felt his heart race when he just looked into the eyes of the very person that he loved so much in his past, Ethan. Travis felt a wave of emotions sweep him off his feet and he gasped, trying his best not to act like an emotional fool. “Hi!” Ethan slightly waved, giving a sheepish smile. “I am so sorry for that but… I couldn’t help it. You look so much like him. You look like Praveen.” Travis smiled softly. “I am sorry, you got me mistaken for someone else. I am not Praveen. My name is Travis Marasigan.” Ethan couldn’t help but get emotional. He remembered the last time he saw Praveen. He’d been so broken. He also remembered how he had answered the boy when he had asked him to believe him. “Now I know exactly why they’re all…” “I am sorry.” Travis apologized. He didn’t wanna talk to Ethan rudely. “My name is Travis and not Praveen. Excuse me!” With those words, he left the man looking shocked. Ethan was now confused. Those eyes, the body, and that face, they were all Praveen’s. But the way he talked, walked and his hair was completely different. But Ethan would have bet his left ball that that was Praveen. He had seen something in his eyes when he was talking to him and he knew that the guy recognized him. He rushed to the table where Antonio was standing, drowning himself in booze. He was drinking like an idiot, taking glass after glass. That was how his night had just turned out to be, worse. Travis had once again managed to ruin his party night just like he had done the first time he saw him. “Hey, what are you doing?” Ethan quickly took the glass away from him. “Are you trying to kill yourself or something?” “Maybe that’s what I am trying to do.” Antonio’s voice was low but yet so cold. “I don’t understand how he does it. He always manages to ruin my mood whenever I see him, giving me more fire for this hatred that I have. Once again, when I thought I could take a break from that… that…” He grimaced but couldn’t say the word. “Calm down.” Ethan rubbed on his friend’s back. “Maybe we should get out of here.” “And let him win?” Antonio chuckled bitterly. “No fucking way. I am gonna show him that he doesn’t do shit to me. He can pretend all he wants but I don’t give a hoot. I am gonna show him that I have moved on.” He took the entire bottle and started drinking it but Ethan took that away from him too. “You’re starting to act like an idiot for a man that isn’t affected by what that boy is doing.” Ethan furiously put the bottle on the table and pulled his friend away from there. “Can you get yourself together? You’re probably the most famous man here and if anyone sees you drinking like a fool, a scandal might arise. Come on, let’s go and have some fun.” He took his friend and they started going towards were a couple of their friends were having fun. But before they reached there, the lights went completely out, leaving everywhere dark. People started wondering what was going on but it didn’t take long and faint lights turned on followed by bright lights on the front stage right before “on the floor,’ started playing. Antonio quickly turned and saw the celebrity dancers beautifully positioned, dressed in sparkly clothes. “Oh yeah!” The lead man, a celebrity singer said in the microphone. Just then, the stage opened revealing a gorgeous person with one hand in the air as the stage brought him up. He was dressed in a pink designer’s skinny jeans, a white shirt, and black sneakers. His long hair was just loose and Antonio felt goosebumps suddenly and his gut told him things but he didn’t wanna believe it. ‘It’s a new generation, of party people.’ A sweet voice sang. The man quickly turned and Antonio felt his heart jump in his throat. It was Travis, dressed like a beautiful dancer with his hair being blown backward, revealing his cute face. He had a big earphone that reached his mouth as he smiled brightly, attracting a lot of cheers. Antonio froze again, staring at that beautiful body. ‘Let me introduce you, to my party people in the club!’ He sang, getting people’s attention. Now almost everyone had their phones out, capturing the once in a lifetime moment. But Antonio was frozen and his heart pounded so hard in his chest that it almost felt like he was gonna have a heart attack. The handsome man started rapping and the celebrity dancers got on their feet and gave a gorgeous dance. Travis just stood still, smiling at the man that was staring at him like he wanted to kiss him. Pablo was one of the best rappers and Travis was happy he did that song with him. Where Bruce stood, he felt his life flash before him. He didn’t even realize that the glass he had been holding was now on the floor, broken to pieces. He couldn’t believe what kind of a showoff Travis was. He was so mad and his breaths became heavy. The same was happening to Andrea. She couldn’t believe that wherever she went, the spotlight was always on Travis. She had had it with him. She needed to do something. ‘If you go hard you gotta get on the floor!’ Travis sang as he started moving his body sexily. “If you’re a party flick your step on the floor… If you’re an animal then tail on the floor, break your sweat on the floor… Yeah, we work on the floor…. On the floor…. Don’t stop, keep it moving Put your drinks up.” Travis moved his body, showing his gorgeous dance moves just as the guy wrapped one of his hands around his waist, moving with him. Cheers could be heard from the crowd as they danced to the rhythm. ‘Keep your body up and drop it on the floor, Let the rhythm change your world, on the floor… You know we’re running tonight on the floor… Brazil, Morocco, landing to Ibiza… straight to the radio, break it to Africa.’ Travis then dropped in the man’s arms and the man leaned down like he wanted to kiss him while his hands caressed the beautiful face. Antonio felt a lump in his throat. “Fuck!” He muttered, clenching his fists. ‘Dance the night away, live your life and say you’re on the floor… Dance the night away, grab somebody drink a little more….. La la la la la…’ They all sang together. Then the real dance started. The way they danced, especially Travis was so professional and marvelous that Jennifer Lopez herself would have been jealous. Damn, Antonio was jealous. The guy now had both his hands around Travis’ waist, moving together with him and Travis seemed to be enjoying. Antonio could have sworn the guy was shoving his crotch in Travis and it somehow made him mad. “Shit!” Antonio swore, ripping his eyes away from that scene. ‘I know you got it clap your hands on the floor…” Travis sang as he walked sexily down the stage to where the audience was. He was staring right at Antonio who was standing just closer to the stage, looking all lost. ‘And keep on rocking, rock it up on the floor. If you’re a criminal, kill it on the floor. Spill it quick on the floor.’ The next thing Antonio felt was a hand sweetly touching his chest just before everyone cheered. He quickly raised his face to stare into the most beautiful eyes he’d ever had the pleasure of looking into. They were staring right into his and he could feel something moving inside of him, a certain warmth. ‘It’s getting ill, it’s getting sick on the floor. We never quit, we never rest on the floor.’ There were loud cheers and whistles all around as Travis slammed his body into Antonio, dancing and moving his ass like a stripper. It was too hot and too much for Antonio. He suppressed a moan but too late as he moaned and sweat broke like he’d been standing in the sun for a long time. The dance just too mere seconds but Travis could feel Antonio’s cock pulsing in his pants and he had to move away, grinning like an evil warrior as he went back to the stage. He even had the pleasure of glancing at Bruce. Man, the man was so mad that he had tears in his eyes. He wanted to cry and kill him at the same time. ‘Dance the night away, live your life and say you’re on the floor… Dance the night away, grab somebody drink a little more….. La la la la la…’ Travis was now back on the stage and dancing like he was competing with someone. But it looked really cute and sexy. Antonio didn’t even realize that he was so hard. He couldn’t believe Travis had just done that to him. It left him shocked. Travis and the celebrity dancers ended with a bang. People were now clapping for them. Travis was happy. The celebrity dancers left together with Travis and Antonio remained shocked, watching as the boy left the stage. “Dude, are you okay?” Ethan asked, resting his hand on his shoulder. Antonio slowly looked at his friend, nodding. “Yeah, I am so sorry about that.” Antonio laughed, taking a sip of the wine in his glass. “You didn’t do this. Plus, I am not even bothered about it.” Of course, he was bothered about it and Travis was gonna pay. There was a moment of silence and then Antonio saw Travis walking to the governor now dressed completely different but looking sexy. He was wearing an all-green outfit, a green shirt inside that was tucked in a sexy tight green trouser with a green blazer and he looked like a prince with a high sleek ponytail. When Antonio saw him, he put his glass on the table, fixed himself, and started going towards him. He was gonna show him that he wasn’t called Antonio Gonzalez for nothing. Before he reached there, ‘Burst your windows,’ By Jasmine Sullivan started playing. People moved to the dance floor and started the traditional tango dance. Meanwhile, Antonio reached his destination and… “Excuse me, Mr. Marasigan?” He said softly, one hand at his back. Travis lost the smile on his face, slowly turning to find a great surprise. Antonio had his hand stretched, asking for his, “Can I have this dance?” Travis raised an eyebrow, looking at that hand and then at Antonio. “I am sorry, please dance with someone else.” He said rudely, turning to face the governor. “I am only asking you for one dance.” Antonio was wearing that seductive smile on his face, the one that Travis found annoying. “There’s no harm in that right?” “Not at all.” Travis nodded. “But I just don’t wanna dance with you. Governor…” He took the old man’s hand, holding it tightly. “…I believe I promised you a dance. Shall we?” The governor put his glass down. “Why not? Sorry, young man…” He patted on Antonio’s hand. “…perhaps next time.” Antonio laughed as he watched Travis and the governor hit the dance floor. The governor had his hand tightly on Travis’ waist while one of Travis’ hands was on the governor’s shoulder. Then both of them were holding their free hands which were also stretched as they both joined in the tango dance. And Travis was such a great dancer. They looked so good with the governor on the dance floor, going with the floor. People couldn’t help but take pictures. “Hi, baby…” Bruce rested his hand on his shoulder, smiling like a horny idiot. “…why are you standing there all alone? Let’s join in the dance? I wanna dance with you, my love.” “Sure!” Antonio nodded, taking his husband’s hand. Both of them joined the dance floor, closer to Travis and the governor. Both of them were pretty good too. Bruce felt alive like he was in heaven. His heart raced as he danced with his husband, looking into his face… staring at those sexy lips that he wanted to kiss so bad in front of Travis. He glanced at Travis who was busy dancing with the governor. Travis on the other hand had no idea what Antonio was up to. He knew that the guy had followed him on the floor. But he wasn’t gonna allow him to ruin that dance for him. He danced so well and the governor too was a great dancer. The moment came when the governor had to spin the young man. Travis quickly spun and the shocking thing happened. As soon as Antonio saw him turning, he quickly left Bruce and that was how the beautiful boy found himself in the arms of his stupid ex-husband. “What?” Bruce felt his heart shatter when his husband left him like an idiot on the dance floor. He groaned, stamped his foot on the floor, and stormed out. He had never been so mad in his life before and if he thought he hated Travis before, what he felt at that moment was beyond hatred. He wasn’t gonna let it go. The governor on the other hand laughed and left, shaking his head. He wasn’t mad but rather happy. Travis frowned when he felt Antonio’s hand on his waist pulling him closer while the other one held his hand a little bit higher. He hesitantly placed his hand on Antonio’s shoulder, feeling a bit nervous. He knew the guy was up to something. But the two men kept on dancing. “Relax!” Antonio teased, locking his eyes with Travis. He had an evil grin on his face. “It’s obvious you don’t wanna dance with me. I wonder why. A little while ago, you were busy dancing with me or rather on me.” Travis scoffed. “Because you scare me.” He said hoarsely. “And most definitely, I don’t like you, Mr. Gonzalez.” Antonio laughed bitterly. “That makes the two of us, Mr. Marasigan. But I don’t know why the fuck you follow me everywhere. It’s like you just can’t stay away from me. Are you attracted to me like that? You always manage to ruin my mood.” “Don’t be so sure of yourself…” Travis sassed, giving the man angry eyes. “…you’re the last man on this planet I’d consider ever dating. I’d rather die a single man.” Antonio laughed, slowly turning Travis. Now he was holding his waist on one side while staring into his eyes. “And that stunt you just pulled back there.” They were now back in the same position they had been in. “Whenever someone tries shit with me, I always come back with a vengeance. I already told you that as long as you decide to stay at my company, I am gonna get my revenge on you for what that cheater did to me.” He glowered, feeling anger rising deep within him. “Whatever you tell me, to me you’ll always be Praveen.” Travis laughed softly, not even stopping to dance, Antonio wasn’t gonna ruin his night. “You know, I am not surprised he left you…” Travis turned, feeling Antonio’s body behind him. He had his hand on the guy’s thigh as they slowly moved to the rhythm. “…I completely understand him. I don’t know how anybody can stand you. You deserved everything you got. I guess he did the right thing in leaving you.” Shit! Antonio felt pain hit his body like a storm. Anger slipped through him slowly and he turned Travis’ head to the point where their lips were only inches away. Both their breaths were becoming harsh. “Are you saying that I deserved to be cheated on?” Antonio fumed. “How dare you!” “You can interpret it in whichever you want.” Travis retorted. “I don’t care about your past. No one deserves a man like you. Not to talk about ending up with you, I wouldn’t even do a thing as simple as kiss you because you disgust me!” Antonio roared, furiously turning Travis, and then did the unthinkable… As soon as Travis turned and faced him, he locked both his arms around that hot waist, bring his body closer. And before Travis even realized what was going on, Antonio locked his lips with his and kissed him hard, an explosive kiss that left their hearts racing. Travis felt his body shudder in pain when he felt Antonio’s lips on him. He quickly tore his lips away from Antonio, furiously broke away from him, and gave him two hot slaps on his cheek. Antonio looked away, putting his hands on his hips. The slaps were so painful and they evolved a wave of anger in him that was unquenchable. The look he gave Travis was deadly but Travis too was mad. Many people saw what had happened and they started watching. “This dance is over!” Travis sneered, clenching his fists. “I have to go.” He left the man standing there and as soon as he turned, tears started rolling down his face. Antonio watched the boy as he left and through all that anger, there was something inside of him that made him weak, something that wanted him to follow Travis. But he couldn’t. He just turned and stormed out of the hall with Ethan following behind, calling him. But he didn’t even answer. Meanwhile, Travis rushed to the men’s room, locked the door, and broke down. It was so painful and he felt like being hurt all over again. His face was wet with tears and his pain was just too much. As if that wasn’t enough, he started having flashbacks of his past. He remembered the first time Antonio had kissed his lips, how he had felt… the weakness… the excitement… the strength and also the many emotions that had taken control of him. He felt his body vibrate and he also remembered the kiss Antonio had given him just a few minutes back. Through all that pain, he could still feel weak. It was too much. ‘I love you and I’ll never hurt you.’ Antonio’s words rang through him. ‘I promise to always stand by you.’ He remembered the day the bastard had taken his virginity in the rain and how he had made him feel that night and he cried even more. He was being quiet because he didn’t want anyone to hear him. ‘I was ready to give up everything for you but you betrayed me, you whore…. I don’t love you. The only one I have ever love is Bruce. I don’t want to ever see your face again.’ He cried, rubbing his lips. But when he looked at his reflection in the mirror, he saw someone weak and vulnerable. He saw Praveen in there and not Travis. “What am I doing here?” He thought. “Why did Antonio do that despite all the hatred he says he has for me? Nevertheless, I will never forgive Antonio for what he did to me.” He started rubbing his tears slowly. “You used me and took my love for granted. You heartlessly deceived me, I will make you pay for everything, Antonio.” Although he was rubbing his tears, they were still coming out. “For all the hurt, the pain and all the suffering I went through.” He vowed, clenching on his fist. “You will pay for this. I can never trust you or love you again, Antonio. I will never allow you to come back into my life again or even break my heart again. I swear!” He took some tissue, cleaned his face, and make sure that he looked fine. Then he got out of the bathroom although he wasn’t completely fine. He just needed to get out of there and go back to his son. He needed to be with his son because he missed him so much. Travis got out of the bathroom and could feel that the party was not lively anymore. He took a deep breath and started heading towards the exit, wearing a stern face. Meanwhile, Bruce was at a table nearby, drowning in alcohol while feeling like crying. All that was in his mind was seeing his husband’s lips on Travis’. He felt like crushing something, hitting something, anything. His heart was pounding in pain and he just wished Travis had died. Andrea had tried to console him but it didn’t work. So she just sat with her arms folded watching him. Bruce wiped the sweat off his forehead and was just about to take another glass when his eyes caught Travis. As soon as his eyes landed on him, he felt a pain that he couldn’t suppress and his hatred just went overboard. He furiously groaned and rushed to the boy, his fists clenched. Reaching Travis, Bruce did the first thing that came to his mind, he gripped Travis's hair and pulled on it hard. Travis felt a sharp pain when he felt his hair being pulled back. He was already angry and he didn’t want any drama. “You ruined everything…” Bruce rolled, pulling harder. His breaths were heavy and his voice was so loud that people started gathering. Andrea came rushing but she just stood still and smiled. “…I was supposed to have a perfect night with Antonio but you ruined it all.” He screamed. Travis just stood still without moving, feeling himself over boiling with anger. “My life was perfect, my marriage was perfect until you came back.” He cried, fighting his tears. “You might pretend to be someone else but you’re after my husband and I’ll not allow you. You left him heartbroken and you cheated on him with your lover and now you think you can just come and ruin it all for me?” He moved his hand and gripped Travis’ jaw. “You ruined everything, you whore!” That was the height of it for Travis. He felt so much anger that he furiously turned and gave Bruce a hot slap that sent him flying to the nearby table. Luckily, he didn’t fall but hit the table so hard. It hurt! He groaned painfully and picked up a glass, broke it, and furiously turned. He pointed the broken glass at Travis, a tear going down his cheek. “You think I’m just gonna watch you ruin me?” He chuckled bitterly, biting his lips. “No! I am going to kill you!” He screamed. But Travis furiously caught Bruce’s hand, pulled him closer, and then furiously turned, pinning one of his hands at the back. Then he used the hand Bruce was holding the glass with and used it against him. He placed that same hand at Bruce’s neck, the sharp glass touching his neck. Bruce’s eyes widened as fear slipped through his system. His harsh breaths could be heard by everyone nearby. Andrea was shocked to see that. “You know what, Bruce…” Travis warned, talking closer to his ear. He wasn’t joking. “…I don’t like you at all so don’t make me sin by eliminating you from the surface of this earth.” “I… I… I…” “Now you listen…” Travis warned. “…the next time you try such stunt with me, I promise you that you’ll regret ever crossing my path.” He snapped, making Bruce slightly closing his eyes. “Don’t underestimate what I can do. I have always hated you and when I get the chance, I am gonna kill you.” He threw the man on the floor with a thud, getting gasps from people. Everyone had their mouths covered in shock. They couldn’t believe a supermodel like Bruce had just been publicly humiliated. It was shocking. “Oh my God!” Andrea rushed to Bruce, helping him up. “You should be…” But she didn’t even finish her sentence. Travis picked up a glass full of champagne and emptied the entire glass on her face. Her mouth gaped, looking at the boy in shock. “I’d suggest you keep quiet. You don’t wanna make me angry.” He warned. He shook his head and stormed out of there. Andrea and Bruce were embarrassed. They couldn’t believe Travis had just done that in front of everyone. Now they were at the center with cameramen taking their pictures and other people had their phones out. Andrea and Bruce left in shame and anger. *** Antonio stormed into the house and he was so damn mad… “Look, Bruce, I don’t wanna talk about what happened at the party. Can you just…” “Just what?” Bruce snapped, furiously rushing to the front to block his husband. “Just forget that you left me like an idiot on the dance floor all because you wanted to dance with that whore?” “Guys, please,” Ethan said, trying to separate the two but it wasn’t working. “I am sure it’s no big…” “No big deal?” Bruce snapped, chuckling angrily. “It might be no big deal to you but it is to me. I am the one that was left on the dance floor by my husband. Don’t my feelings matter? And on top of that, that whore kissed my husband and you expect me to keep quiet? Hell to the fucking no!” He screamed. He was so much in pain and anger. “Now, Antonio…” “Whatever do you want from me, huh?” Antonio snapped, pointing at Bruce. “What the fuck do you want? You should be used to me doing my things. Isn’t that what you signed for? Wasn’t being married to me what you wanted?” Bruce felt tears building in his eyes. Even the rubs Andrea was giving his shoulders weren’t doing any fucking thing. It was so hard and he just wanted to get answers from the man that he called his husband. “Is that any way to talk to me, Antonio?” Bruce muttered, pointing at himself. “I am your husband and we’re legally married. What the fuck do you want me to do, huh? Watch you while that bitch seduce you and you eventually end up fucking him?” “Don’t you dare?” Antonio warned, breathing like a terrible storm on a cold night. “Don’t you fucking dare say that to me?” The couple was so loud that all the family members started rushing down the stairs in their night wears, wondering what was going on. What they found was a heated argument, something that they had never seen in six years. Antonio was acting like an animal, pointing his finger at Bruce. And crazy Bruce wasn’t letting it go. They were all shocked. Celine was just happy that her daughter was fast asleep and so was granny. “Why shouldn’t I?” Bruce jumped at his husband but Andrea held her. “Ever since that bitch came back, our lives and now our marriage is on the rocks and you expect me to keep quiet? Pravee…” “Don’t you dare mention that name in my house?” Antonio warned, his jaws shaking uncontrollably. “I am warning you, Bruce. If you still want to remain married to me then you better swallow that name.” Bruce couldn’t fight his tears. They came rolling down. His pain was just too much. “I just had a fucking horrible night and instead of you to be supportive, you want to add to my problems? What kind of husband are you? Just look at yourself…” “What support do you need?” Bruce yelled, rubbing his tears furiously. “…don’t my feelings matter? You left me lonely on the dance floor and on top of that, everyone saw you dancing with him. They all saw him kiss you and they all saw him slap you. What wrong did I do by asking for an explanation from my husband?” Antonio chuckled bitterly. “I don’t owe you any fucking explanation. I don’t have to tell you anything. And let me warn you for the last time…” Antonio got closer, pointing his finger right on Bruce’s face. “…mind the way you talk to me. I am your husband and I deserve respect. If you think you can’t handle me then you’re free to go. I don’t care.” He furiously turned with those words and angrily went upstairs. Ethan followed him, calling his name but he wasn’t even responding. Bruce on the other hand felt his strength leaving him. He felt so weak in the knees that he dropped to the floor, his face between his palms as he cried softly. It was just so painful. People like Celine, Eduardo, and Emilia left because they didn’t have time for drama. But Emma rushed to Bruce and wrapped her arms around him. “Shh…” She soothed, bringing him to her chest. “…he’s just angry. Everything will be okay, love.” “No!” Bruce tore from that chest, furiously rubbing his tears. “Nothing is going to be alright. That bitch has finally shown me that he’s back for my husband. I saw it aunt…” He cried out in pain. “…I saw the way he was looking at him and even seductively danced on his crotch. It has all been planned, aunt.” Emma shook her head. “No, Bruce. No one will get Antonio away from you. He’s your man and it will remain so. You guys are married and you’ll be together even in your next life. You don’t have to shed tears.” She helped him rub the tears. “That bitch shouldn’t weaken you like this. You’re stronger than this, Bruce!” “Aunt is right!” Andrea spoke, her fists clenched. “That whore shouldn’t make you shed tears. Now we know the reason why he’s back. He might pretend that he’s Travis but he still has the same motive as Praveen.” Bruce listened to his allies and he furiously rubbed his tears, getting up. He somehow managed to gather his confidence back. “You’re right!” He chuckled bitterly, still rubbing his tears. “I have been the one on the receiving end since that whore returned. But now… the game will be changed. I am gonna show that boy that they don’t just call me, Bruce Antonio Gonzalez for nothing. I will make him taste the ground where I step on and for the tears, I have shed today, I’ll make him pay thousand times over. I will show him that I am stronger. He’ll tremble whenever he hears my name and I’ll hurt him where it hurts the most. I promise.” He vowed, his fists clenched. The battle was truly on… *** Travis was seated on his bed with his back on the board. He was holding his sleeping son in his arms, staring at him. His son looked even more handsome and he couldn’t help but stare at him. He had been holding his son since the time he had come back from the party because he had been emotional. His son had helped take the pain away, well most of it. He leaned down and kissed his little forehead, rubbing on it after. “I love you!” He whispered, giving him another. “I love you so much. You’re my reason for living and I’ll always love you no matter what.” At that instance, Travis got flashbacks of the night Antonio had made love to him and got him pregnant. He couldn’t suppress the painful moan that escaped his throat. The night which was supposedly one of his best was now one of his nightmares. But he had gotten a great gift from it, Sean, his life. He sighed and then stripped his sleeping son. Before he made him lie on the bed, he made sure he dressed him in his favorite pajamas. Then he kissed him on the cheek and told him how much he loved him. He slowly walked to the balcony and just enjoyed the cool air hitting his face. But then again, he wasn’t okay that night. Antonio had just kissed him. After six painful years, he got to feel those lips on his again but they brought nothing but pain to him. He slightly closed his eyes and all he saw was Antonio kissing him in the past and that night. It was painful. He opened his eyes and didn’t miss the tear that went down his cheek. Why was he acting like that, he thought? He was stronger than that. He wasn’t that weak boy anymore, he said to himself. But why did it hurt so much when he thought about the kiss and the fact that Antonio had betrayed him and married someone else. It was just so painful. “I won’t allow you to hurt me ever again.” He rubbed his face. “Never again, Antonio.” *** Antonio was seated in his office, busy responding to some important emails. He was dressed sexily in a red designer’s suit with a sky blue shirt inside. He was sexy as usual and that morning, his mood was off. In fact, since the party, he had been off. He was usually upset about simple things and snapped at everything. Suddenly, Antonio got surprised when he heard something drop on his table, a newspaper. He quickly raised his head and found his best friend, Ethan staring down at him with his arms folded. He looked really serious and Antonio wondered what the hell was wrong with him. “Congratulations!” Ethan smiled, shaking his head. He was a bit angry. “You made it into the newspaper this morning. How are you feeling right now?” Antonio sighed gloomily, picking the newspaper from the table. “Don’t be dramatic.” He looked at the newspaper and felt his heart sink into his stomach. His heart began racing and his anger rose instantly. He clenched in the newspaper, ripping it slowly on the sides. ‘Famous billionaire business tycoon and celebrity, Antonio Gonzalez in a romantic dance with hot billionaire heir, Travis Marasigan. What could be brewing or could it be a past connection with a lookalike?’ Antonio tore the paper in half and threw it on the floor angrily. Man, he was so mad. He furiously got out of the chair, moving from side to side like a mad man. “I want that out of the paper right now!” He said in a commanding tone. “Call them and tell them that if they don’t, I’ll sue their asses and shut them down.” “What does it matter?” Ethan said angrily. “You caused this. Many people have probably already seen it and it won’t make a difference. I told you to just sit your ass down at that party but you wanted to act…” “Don’t give me a fucking lecture!” Antonio snapped, yelling at his friend. “I don’t need it right now. Get that fucking thing out of the paper.” Ethan sighed, shaking his head. “I’ll get it out but don’t fucking yell at me!” He warned, pointing at his friend. “I am not your assistant or any of your workers. I am your fucking manager and you should respect me like one, at least, if you can’t respect me as your best friend.” He stormed out of the office. “Ethan!” Antonio called but he knew that it was too late. He had managed to anger his friend. “Fuck!” He roared, throwing everything that was on the table on the floor. “Fucking Travis!” He screamed, feeling like pulling his entire hair out. “This is your fucking fault! I hate you so much!” He was breathing and acting like a beast. His entire day had just been ruined. Fuck! He kicked on the chair hard, not minding the pain he felt. He wanted to punch something, anything. That’s how much he was angry. He cursed angrily and stormed out of his office. *** “This can’t be happening?” Andrea gripped her hair, pulling on it hard. “No! This is a dream. It can’t be happening.” Andrea was shocked, staring at her I-pad like a mad person. She wanted to break it. Tempers in the room were high… hearts were racing… curses were being laid and angry voices could be heard. Everyone knew that something was not right. ‘Andrea and Bruce Gonzalez emerge as the clowns of the governor’s annual party.’ The headline read on a post that Andrea was reading. ‘I think it’s a message that you should think twice before trying to mess with Travis Marasigan, a possibly inevitable sex symbol.’ Andrea wanted to break her pad. She was so mad that her voice could be heard from outside the office. ‘If those slaps won’t show you who’s boss then nothing will.’ One post said with laughing emojis. ‘Travis Marasigan isn’t just irresistibly beautiful but he’s also a force to be reckoned with. Watch out, people!’ Andrea screamed, furiously moving from side to side. “Fucking media people!” She snapped. “Why can’t they just fucking mind their own business? I hate them so much and that Travis will pay, I swear. He’ll pay for every humiliation and every insult if it’s the last thing I’ll ever do. I swear.” She was expecting Bruce to say something but got shocked when he didn’t. He rather just sat on the chair with his legs on the table, busy on his phone with a smile on his face. “Are you kidding me, Bruce?” Andrea rolled her eyes. “What the fuck do you think you’re doing? The internet is making fun of us and you’re there smiling like everything is okay? What the hell is wrong with you?” Bruce raised his face. “Nothing!” He shut his phone and got up, his face getting stern. “You said he’s gonna pay, right? And I agree. Now I have more reasons to hate that bitch. He’ll beg me for his life, I swear. I’ll hurt him so much that he’ll beg for death. Messing with me, insulting me was okay but he touched the tiger’s tail…” He chuckled bitterly, pointing at himself. “…he decided to mess with my husband and I’ll make him regret that. He’ll curse the day his mother got pregnant for his father, I swear on my life.” Andrea liked the sound of that. “Any plans…” “In progress!” Bruce grinned like an evil warrior. “We now know exactly what he wants and why he got into this company in the first place. We’re gonna hit him together and we’ll hit harder. He doesn’t stand a chance against the two of us. We’re evil geniuses and we already won the first time. This won’t make any difference.” Andrea grinned, nodding. “That I agree! We’ll use whatever he has done to us as motivation.” “You’re right about that.” Bruce folded his arms on his chest. “But for now, I don’t wanna think about that. I just wanna make my husband happy because today is a very important day for him. I have plans for the two of us.” He blushed, biting his lips. Just thinking about it was making him horny. “I wanna make him so happy tonight that he’ll never think about anyone else, Andrea!” “Hmm…” Andrea chuckled happily. “What could that be? All of us have something planned right?” “Yeah, but this one will just be for the two of us.” Bruce felt a cold breeze hit his face when he said that. “I wanna drive him insane with pleasure and love. Whenever he’s away from me, he’ll always think about me. I swear and nothing will ruin my night.” Andrea smiled brightly. “Well, I guess it’s good luck to you and Antonio. I know you’ll make him happy tonight.” “I will.” The two friends laughed and held each other’s hands. They were united and they were stronger that way. *** “Get out!” Granny yelled, throwing a glass at the nurse that was trying to go near her. “Get out and leave me alone!” “Ma’am, please…” The nurse pleaded, putting her hands together. “…please, put the knife down, please.” Granny was holding a penknife, threatening to slit her wrist. The nurse was really scared and she had no idea what to do. “Ma’am…” “Why isn’t my angel here?” She screamed, tears rolling down her face. “I heard Antonio screaming yesterday. He was screaming at my angel. Where is he?” “Ma’am…” The nurse gasped, slowly kneeling. “…please.” “All of you are bad.” She yelled, her voice filling the entire room. “I don’t like all of you. I want to go with my angel. I want him here.” “Please!” The nurse sobbed. “He’ll be here. Just… just drop the knife ma’am and…” “No, I am gonna…” “Granny!” A sweet voice spoke, a voice that went straight to granny’s heart. Granny quickly moved her eyes and saw him standing in the doorway, looking scared. She couldn’t believe he had come. She had thought Antonio had thrown him out the previous night and she was scared. “Angel…” Travis was totally surprised. Sure, he was late because he had to attend an important meeting at his company but he hadn’t expected granny to act like that. He was surprised. “Angel!” Granny sobbed softly but she was really happy. “You’re here!” “Yes, granny!” Travis nodded as he slowly moved towards her, stretching his hand. “I am here for you. I would never leave you alone, granny. Please, give me the knife.” He pleaded, slowly kneeling in front of her. “Please!” Granny quickly gave the knife to Travis and he quickly handed it over to the nurse. Then she gave him a tight hug, so tight that Travis got emotional. Everything that had happened back at the party hit him and his eyes became glassy. He was suddenly emotional. “You’re here, my angel!” Granny sobbed. “You’re finally here.” “Yes, granny!” Travis said softly, rubbing on her back. “Don’t leave me here, please.” She sounded scared. “I don’t want to stay here anymore. I wanna go with you. Take me out of here.” “I won’t leave you, granny!” He promised, trying to fight his tears. But he couldn’t. “I will come early next time.” “But I want you to stay with me even in the evening,” Granny said softly. “Promise me you’ll always be by my side.” Travis couldn’t promise anything. As much as he wanted to help granny and bring her back on her feet, he couldn’t risk anyone finding out that he was the one taking care of granny. But from what he had seen, he knew that it was gonna be very difficult to take care of her. There were moments when he was gonna be very busy and he had just been 30 minutes late and she was already acting like that. He was really scared. He needed to think of something and quick. “Please!” Granny sobbed. “You’re the only one I want to be with. Antonio leaves me most of the time and he’s always busy with work. And whenever Emilia is with me, she doesn’t seem happy. Please, I wanna go with you.” Travis got emotional and he hugged granny for a long time. That day, he made sure that he took care of granny very well. He made her some delicious oat and plantain soup and she loved it. He sang her songs to make her smile, read her a really good fairytale story, and even made sure that she was happy. Travis even felt better after doing that, taking care of granny. He prayed to the almighty that she should get healed faster so that he could stop coming to Antonio’s house. A few hours later, Travis was coming out of granny’s room when suddenly, he got the shock of his life when he saw Celine rushing towards there while talking on the phone. She looked really beautiful in a red designer’s red dress, white high-heeled shoes, and her hair tied in a ponytail. Travis got emotional when he saw her again but… he felt his heart jump in his chest and he quickly turned his back to her, pretending as if he was on the phone. But another shocking thing happened. He realized it was already past 4.pm which means he had spent 2 hours more. The family must have already been coming back. “Yeah, everything is just going fine. I am sure that he’ll love it and…” She paused when she saw someone standing a distance away from her with his back facing her. “…I will call you back, okay?” Celine looked at the boy that had his back facing her and she didn’t need to be a genius to know that he was probably the boy taking care of granny. He didn’t look to be poor like she had thought. From the clothes he was wearing, she could tell that he was either middle class or somehow rich. He was dressed in a yellow see-through long-sleeved designer’s coat with only a black transparent vest inside that was tucked in a white skinny jeans that showed his gorgeous curves and he had yellow snickers on his feet that Celine could have sworn were pretty much expensive or imported. And there was something about him, a feeling that Celine couldn’t quite put her finger on. “Hi!” She chuckled, getting closer. “Are you granny’s angel? I mean her caretaker? I am Celine, granny’s granddaughter-in-law, and Antonio’s sister in law.” Travis felt his heart almost running away from him. He got so pale and he felt really weak. He didn’t want Celine to see his face. Shit, how could he have been so stupid as not to observe the time, he thought as he tried his best to shield himself? Thank God his hair was loose. Celine could somehow see that as she got closer, the boy was trying to hide so she just stopped and stood behind him. “I am sorry.” She apologized, smiling sheepishly. “I had no idea that you were still here. I thought you went like two hours ago and that’s why I came back. I am a social person and forgive me if I am making you feel uncomfortable since you seem to be very reserved. Anyway, I came back earlier because today is Antonio’s birthday. And we want to throw him a surprise party but just for the family members and close friends. He doesn’t like parties but maybe he’ll love just a small one.” Travis was getting paler by the second. He felt like he was running out of air. His heart raced so much that he felt like he was gonna have a heart attack. “But since you’re still here, I hope you can make it for that,” Celine suggested, hoping the boy was gonna agree. “I am sure that everyone would like to meet you and thank you for what you’ve been doing for granny for the past two weeks.” Travis slightly closed his eyes, feeling some pain slowly forming in his heart. He quickly shook his head and rushed into granny’s room, locking the door behind him. He was scared shitless. “Angel!” Granny sat up when she saw him enter the room. He rushed to her. “Why did you go away?” “N-no! I was nearby.” He stuttered, touching his chest. He needed to get out of there as soon as possible. “Please, you need to get some rest.” He put the phone on the table and helped granny get into bed. He kissed her forehead and held her hand tightly. He was also trying to look fine but deep down, he was scared as fuck. “Will you come again tomorrow?” Granny asked in a weak voice. “Definitely!” Travis nodded while glancing at the door. “You should sleep now. You’re very tired.” “Are you sure you’ll be back?” Granny’s eyes were shut. “I promise!” He kissed her last time and made sure that she was asleep. Then he took his keys and slowly walked towards the door. Celine was still on the floor but she was far from the door so he had a perfect chance to escape without being seen. He got out of the room and started walking fast like the hounds of hell were after him. “Are you leaving?” Celine quickly got off the phone, rushing towards him. “Won’t you be there for the party?” Travis shook his head and rushed down the stairs. And lucky for him, she didn’t see his face. There were some people in there working on decorating the place with balloons and other gorgeous decors that were in the living room but Travis didn’t care. He was just happy no one saw him. But through that rush, Travis didn’t even realize that he had left his phone, a phone that had a wallpaper of him and his son. “Is he very shy?” Celine wondered. “He didn’t smile or say any word or even let me see his face. That is strange.” But she didn’t have time to think about it long because she still had a lot of things to do. *** “Oh yeah, just tell them that I am free tomorrow,” Antonio instructed his assistant on the phone. “When they call you, call me so that I can set a meeting with them. Or you can do that.” ‘Alright, sir…’ She said on the other end. Antonio cut the call and opened the door to his great mansion, welcomed by darkness. It was dark everywhere and he had no idea what was going on. He was really tired and hungry. “Hello, anyone!” He called, trying to look for a light switch. “He…” “Surprise!” The light went on and Antonio got the shock of his life when all the family members threw the balloons in the air, welcoming him to the party. The entire place was decorated perfectly and Antonio would have been extremely happy. But he wasn’t. He was rather mad and that expression on his face could be read by everyone there. The party was just a small one by his family members and just close friends, Ethan and Paul were also there and they seemed happy. “Surprise, baby…” Bruce smiled brightly, opening his arms widely. Antonio looked all around and from all those decors, he didn’t need to be a genius to know that it was his birthday. Shit! How could he have forgotten his birthday? Normally, he would have been happy but he wasn’t. His birthday six years ago had come at a time when he was so sad and hurt that he hadn’t been able to celebrate it since then. He remembered that a year after, he had found a big surprise party and had insulted everyone in there including his family. “Who did this?” He roared, getting closer to his husband. Everyone stopped cheering and clapping. They just stood still, staring at Antonio as he’d just grown another head. Bruce lost the smile on his face and just stood still. And here he had been thinking his husband was gonna makeup with him after finding out about the surprise party but he was so damn wrong. “Who did this?” He yelled, stamping his foot on the floor while harsh breaths escaped him. Everyone was now scared. “Who asked you to do all this?” He pointed to the balloons and the decorations. “How dare you organize such a stupid thing without even informing me!” “Baby, it’s your birthday and…” “Damn, it’s my birthday!” He glowered, staring at Bruce like something disgusting. “Did I ask you to do all this? Who gave you the…” But what had started as a show of anger turned into an emotional moment for Antonio and he just froze and instantly, tears formed in his eyes. His anger melted away and his heart began beating rhythmically with joy and love when he heard his granny’s voice… “Happy birthday to you…” She sang softly. “…happy birthday to you. Happy birthday, dear Tony. Happy birthday to you.” Antonio couldn’t fight his tears. He smiled. He smiled when he saw his granny coming towards him with Celine behind her, helping her with the wheelchair. She looked emotional with tears in her eyes. Everyone was now quiet and just enjoyed the beautiful but yet emotional moment. “Tony!” Antonio muttered, rushing to his granny. He dropped to his knees in front of her, kissing her hands non-stop. He had never experienced such joy and happiness as he did at that time. His grandmother was getting better. He touched her feet and she blessed him by touching his head. God! He couldn’t begin to imagine the joy he felt. Nothing was gonna take that from him that night. Everyone began clapping as they watched the grandmother-grandson emotional moment. “Thanks, granny!” He muttered, slowly rubbing his tears. “This is the best birthday ever.” Granny cupped his cheek and kissed his forehead. “But it won’t be complete until you cut the cake.” Antonio nodded and at the same time saw his brother bringing a big cake with many candles on top. He placed it on the big table. He gave his brother the knife and gave him a tight hug. “Wait, baby…” Bruce rushed to him and stood by his side. “…before you cut the cake, make a wish. Close your eyes and make a wish. I am sure that God will grant that wish today. Perhaps, your wishes will come true since it’s your birthday.” Antonio smiled at his husband and kissed his cheek. Then he knelt in front of the table, closed his eyes, and made a wish, a wish that he was sure was gonna be granted. He smiled brightly and opened them slowly to blow the candles away but got a shocking surprise…. As soon as Antonio’s eyes opened, he saw Travis standing at the entrance door, coming inside slowly. Antonio felt his heart pound violently in his chest as suddenly, he was filled with so much rage and pain. His jaws started shaking uncontrollably… he gripped the knife harder, his hands shaking too…. His eyes got instantly red as he stared at the person that made him so angry. Meanwhile, everyone else wondered what could have instantly changed Antonio’s mood and what he was looking at. They all moved their eyes towards the entrance and were just as shocked as he was. Granny smiled brightly, feeling excited because she felt her angel had come back for her. Celine’s hands were covering her mouth as warm tears decorated her face. She was emotional when she finally got to see Praveen’s face again. It was just too much for her and she cried. “Praveen!” She muttered. Emilia was filled with a myriad of emotions when she saw that face, a face that now haunted her. She felt rage, hatred, pain and above all, she relieved all the moments she had suffered because of him. Tears flooded her face but those were of anger and pain. After six long years, she finally got the chance to see the boy that had destroyed her home and turn his love into hatred. Emma, Bruce, and Andrea were mad when they saw him. Their fists were clenched, feeling nothing but pure anger and hatred for him. That was the last straw. Antonio on the other hand furiously got up, dropping the knife to the floor. He started walking towards Travis slowly, his clenched fists trembling. He looked at the boy and their eyes locked. Travis felt himself get scared and he had no idea why. What happens next?
  3. Andrea turned around with a smile on her face, pointing at the huge screen. Everyone in the room looked attentively at her and they were all super happy. She was dressed in a sexy pink designer’s suit that stuck on her body like a seductress, showing her gorgeous curves and her super sexy body. “And that ladies and gentlemen will be our new clothes and shoe line.” She chuckled happily, opening her arms widely. “This will give birth to yet another successful line, bringing billions into our company so…” She paused and smiled sexily. “…ladies and gentlemen, I present to you, the shoe and clothes brand I would like to call, classy Brandea.” As soon as she said that, everyone in that room was impressed and they started clapping. All the sketches and some designs Andrea had shown them screamed class and it was magnificent and impressive. They couldn’t help but clap. “This is a name that Bruce and I came up with because they’re all our ideas.” Andrea hollered, feeling proud of herself. Bruce who was seated closer to his husband was really happy too. “This line will bring us billions because they’ll be classy and expensive just like always. Don’t you agree?” Everyone was busy clapping when all of a sudden… “I disagree!” A voice hollered throughout the room, getting the attention of everyone. Everyone stopped clapping and diverted their attention to the handsome man that stood in the doorway looking like a fashion god. He was dressed in a sexy white see-through designer’s shirt with a white tight vest inside that was tucked in a sexy, tight white skinny trouser with white designer’s shoes on his feet. His hair was tied in a gorgeous ponytail, revealing his face. He was magnificent and that smile on his face made people’s hearts jump. Even Antonio couldn’t help but look. Travis smiled brightly as he moved to the front where Andrea was standing, staring at him like she wanted to kill him. “Miss Gonzalez,” He started, still smiling at her. “I agree that your designs and your presentation are magnificent but I don’t think that they’ll be enough to attract a lot of customers. In other words, I think something is missing.” “Excuse me!” Andrea snapped, chuckling softly. “Are you being serious right now? Did you even see my entire…” “I saw enough to know that it won’t bring us much income. And that’s why I think your presentation…” “Really?” Andrea laughed, folding her arms on her chest. “Mr. Marasigan…” But she said it in such a way that it sounded rude. It was pretty clear she still had beef with him. “…I have been in this company since it was first created. Not only am I one of the board members but I am also the vice president of this company. Surely, I know exactly what this company needs to rise to the top and exactly what the clients and customers want.” Travis raised an eyebrow. “I am not trying to dispute that, Miss Gonzalez but I am also….” “Mr. Marasigan, you just joined the company yesterday. Surely, you don’t know how it’s run. I’d suggest you just sit down, relax, and try to learn how this company is run.” Travis chuckled, shaking his head. “Miss Gonzalez, I am a businessman and I have been running ‘fashion and the city’ for a long time now.” He said with such confidence. “It didn’t become the top fashion company in the country because I was lazy. I own several companies that are doing well in the country and abroad too. I know what…” “Well, if you’re so good at what you do then why don’t you show us something that will beat Brandrea?” Andrea said rudely, furiously looking away. “But I can assure you that nothing will beat Brandrea.” Travis smiled softly. “Please, sit down, Miss Gonzalez.” Andrea rolled her eyes and took a seat near her brother and Bruce. She was mad as hell because no one had ever challenged her whenever she made a presentation. Her arms were folded, her eyes fixed on the handsome boy whom she was really mad at. “Ladies and gentlemen, thank you so much for your time and your patience.” He started, smiling at everyone. “But like I said yesterday, all I want is to take this company to the top. I have a presentation that I know will help with that so without even wasting your time, let me dig into it.” Travis started with his presentation and boy was he so good with it. He showed the board some pictures of the pieces of his designs that he thought were gonna be great on the market and how they were gonna attract a lot of customers. “So ladies and gentlemen, that’s just what I think will bring much more income to this company.” He said as he concluded his presentation. “Not only will it bring much recognition but it will help with our market.” Everyone in the conference room started clapping except for the three culprits. Travis wasn’t surprised because he knew exactly what they were thinking. “Excuse me, Mr. Marasigan…” Andrea said, getting up from the chair. She cat-walked to him, her arms folded. “…I don’t think there was any presentation to see there. Everything that you showed us was just too cheap and inferior if you ask me. It is below this company’s standards. I still think that Brandrea is the best because it will bring a new evolution to this company.” “I agree with you, Miss Gonzalez.” Travis chuckled sheepishly. “My designs and ideas are very simple but so is the material and the target market. I didn’t think about the high and mighty in society but the simple and poor that can afford such clothes and shoes. Haven’t any of you ever wondered if such people also want to benefit from Tonzalez blue?” There were indistinct whispers among the board members among themselves and Travis was just hoping that they agreed with him. Andrea laughed, shaking her head. “You still don’t understand something, Mr. Marasigan. This company is not for the inferior in the community. We deal with big fishes, people from abroad and we generate huge amounts of money.” “And I believe you haven’t even tried to…” “It’s a waste of time,” Bruce said, smiling at Travis as he’d just won a lottery. “Tonzalez blue doesn’t have time for such inferior designs or the people in that community. It’s a sheer waste of time. We’ve been dealing with classy and expensive things and…” “And I am guessing you’re saying this because you’re a model!” It wasn’t a question and Bruce was super mad. “You’re used to expensive things but I am saying this from a business point of view. How will we learn what the clients and customers want if we don’t try it?” Everyone was quiet, just staring at Travis and Andrea. Damn, Antonio was so mad that Travis had the nerves to suggest such things in his company. He couldn’t allow it because he was not known for producing such inferior designs, never! But then, he was quiet, just watching as the boy embarrassed himself. “Well….” A woman spoke softly, sounding not so sure. “…it wouldn’t hurt to try. I mean, as a fashion industry company, we need to try different things. It’s a fresh idea and I am up for it.” “Yes!” Everyone in the room agreed and they started clapping. Travis was beyond happy when he saw that. He was really happy. “Really?” Andrea said angrily, staring at the board members. “You’re all just gonna agree with an idea like that? Brandea is in production as we speak and we have got a lot of samples. All that’s remaining is just a fashion show and then boom, we’ll attract a lot of customers. I can assure that this will be one of the greatest income-earning brands this company will ever see. All the materials used for shoes and clothes are very expensive and classy as well, just like our clients like. I am not trying to downgrade the company’s reputation by bringing inferior ideas.” Travis was so upset with Andrea’s words but he didn’t wanna show it. He rather just smiled happily. “How will you know that if you don’t even try it? I have a lot of samples too and all that’s remaining is to create more and then sell them. I am a shareholder of this company and I believe that I…” “It’s fine then!” Andrea opened her arms widely. “Both of us will launch our brands and then we’ll see what goes better on the market. But I can assure you that your line has nothing against Bruce and mine. You’ll only be wasting our resources.” Travis smirked. “That’s a risk I am willing to make, Miss Gonzalez.” Andrea was so sure that she was gonna beat him and rub it in his face. “Good luck then, Mr. Marasigan. And since you’ve got samples and mine are also ready, we’ll launch our collection both next week. Let the best man or woman win.” Travis smiled brightly and just stood there, laughing at how overconfident Andrea was. Though he was not so sure that his collection was gonna do well on the market, he still had confidence that he was gonna be okay. As he was standing there happily, a lady dressed beautifully came inside the conference room just before the meeting was adjourned. “Sir, your office is ready!” She announced, slowly bowing to him. “Thanks!” Travis smiled brightly at her. “Shall we?” The woman smiled brightly and then led him out of the room. He followed her to the 21st floor where she opened a door at the far end, welcoming him to his new office and God, it was a really beautiful office. Everything seemed to be brand new, from chairs to tables and everything else. The whole office was huge with his small living room with white couches, a bathroom, and a library. He was really happy. But what impressed him a lot where the paintings on the wall of nature. They were really beautiful. In addition to the beauty of the office, Travis had a perfect view of the city and he couldn’t have been happier. I mean, his office at fashion and the city was gorgeous but this one too was magnificent. It made his heart race and he was very happy. “Wow! This is beautiful.” “You like it?” The lady asked, still wearing that fuck me brainless smile on her face. “I love it. Thank you!” “You don’t have to thank me, sir!” She smiled seductively. “I am only your assistant and whatever you need, I am only a call away, sir. By the way, my name is Tina.” “Tina?” Travis nodded. “Thank you so much and…” He paused and laughed. “…I wanted a team for a new collection that we’ll be launching in a week. Can you help me with the best that you can find at this company?” Tina lost her smile on her face. “I am sorry, sir.” She apologized. “But the best team has already been gotten by ma’am Andrea. She wanted all the hands to be working on hers and sir, Bruce’s designs so…” Travis smiled softly, patting on her shoulder. “It’s okay, Tina.” Tina felt happy and she blushed. “The only ones remaining are the interns but I don’t think they know anything about…” “No, it’s fine!” He chuckled confidently. “Call a meeting with them and tell them I’ll see them. I am sure they will just be perfect.” Tina nodded and then left a nervous-looking Travis all alone. Now he was sure that he was gonna have some challenges with his collection. He knew that working with interns was a lot of work but he was ready to teach them and make his collection a success. Travis shook his head and was about to go and sit on his chair when suddenly, his eyes caught something, an angry-looking man standing in the doorway with his fist clenched. His eyes were fixed on him and that look on his face gave him chills but Travis wasn’t scared. He rather just stared at the man and decided to ignore him. Travis sighed and then looked away, slowly moving towards the chair. He had no idea when Antonio moved to him or how he quickly he moved but the next thing he felt was a hand on his arm, holding it tightly. Travis felt himself get angry and his mood changed instantly. Feeling Antonio’s hand on his body made him feel pain. “Please, leave my hand?” He said softly, not even daring to stare at Antonio. “Don’t create a scene once again.” Antonio slowly turned the boy and looked into his face, a face that reminded him of his past pain. He was so furiously that he got dangerously close to the boy. Travis wanted to move further but he suddenly hit the wall and couldn’t move any further. Antonio laughed. “I had underestimated you till now. I thought you were stupid, foolish, and naïve. But look at you…” He laughed in mock, getting even closer. Travis wanted to move but Antonio blocked him with his arm. “…you are a smart boy. It is your first day here and you’re already making challenges. You’re already making stupid suggestions for my company? Why don’t you focus on being just a shareholder? You don’t miss a single opportunity. Great!” “I said, get your hand off me!” Travis furiously released his hand, staring at Antonio like he wanted to slap him. “You don’t have the right to touch me, Antonio Gonzalez. You might own this company but you don’t own me. Be careful what you do to me.” With a nod, he tried to move away but Antonio blocked him with his hand. When Travis raised his head and stared into Antonio’s eyes, he saw nothing but anger in there and pain. But he didn’t give two hoots about Antonio. “It will be fun to play now.” Antonio chuckled bitterly. “Congratulations. You’ve managed to convince everyone to launch your collection on your first day but…” He laughed, getting even closer. “…I will be watching as you embarrass yourself with your inferior designs. Remember that, only the idea has been presented. Now we just have to watch as you fall flat to your face. Andrea is the best at this. Now let’s just see how you’ll beat her at this.” With an evil chuckle, Antonio turned and left Travis alone, banging the door like he was going insane. Travis smiled evilly, breathing in deeply. “You’ve got so much confidence in your sister, Antonio.” He laughed, chirping while he shook his head. “I just hope you’re right about her otherwise, you have no idea what’s gonna happen should she lose. You should make your shoulder available because if I win, she’ll need one to cry on.” He laughed manically and went to continue what he was doing. *** “Thank you all so much for coming,” Travis said with a beautiful smile on his face, looking at the interns that stood in front of him. “With your dedication and hard work, I believe we’ll be successful with this. We need to be successful.” “Don’t worry, sir!” They all agreed, nodding. “We’ll never disappoint. We’ll do our best.” Travis couldn’t have been prouder. He gave a smile, nodding too. “Thank you so much. Now all of you can go and rest. We’ll start our work tomorrow morning and we only have a week before we can take our brand on the market.” “Thank you so much, sir!” They all said. Then they left. Well, that had gone great, Travis thought as he picked up his keys and documents from the table. He was really glad that all the interns liked him and promised to do their best. Of course, he was a bit nervous but he still had faith in them. “Oh shoot!” Travis gasped as he glanced at the watch. “I never knew it was this late. I gotta go.” Travis quickly left the room and started rushing to the elevator. He had no idea that he’d spent a lot of time with the interns and it was already late. It was already 8.pm and he had to go home to his son. He was pretty much sure that his son was waiting for him. He entered the elevator and it didn’t take long before he was on the ground floor. The elevator door opened and he was busy staring at his watch when all of a sudden, someone bumped into him hard. The documents he had fell to the floor including his phone. “Shit!” Travis gasped as he quickly knelt to pick up the documents. However, when he rose, he got the shock of his life when he found Antonio staring at him with angry eyes with his arms folded. Travis couldn’t believe that wherever he went, the idiot suddenly appeared to make his day bad. He didn’t wanna talk to him so he decided to just leave. But…. “I like seeing you on the floor, exactly where you belong,” Antonio said hoarsely, sounding like a storm was happening in his mouth. “People like you deserve to be on the floor because you only know one thing, please rich men!” Travis felt a sharp pain hit him like a bolt of electricity. He stopped in his tracks and stood still, trying to get what Antonio had just said to him. “What do you want from me, huh?” He asked, shaking his head. “Why the hell do you always want my attention even when I try to avoid you, Mr. Gonzalez?” Antonio smiled sinisterly, turning to face the boy. “As I had told you, Travis, or whatever name you’re using right now, I will make you pay for what…” “And like I said, Mr. Gonzalez…” Travis warned, his voice slightly rising. “…I don’t care about what you think. I have told you several that I am not Praveen or whatever his name was. Leave me alone. You know, with what you’re trying…” He paused and gave an evil grin. “…I am starting to suspect that you’re just trying to get my attention. But Mr. Gonzalez, don’t forget that you’re a married man and I would never, ever fall for you even if you were the last man on this earth.” With those words, he furiously turned and left a stunned looking Antonio staring at him. Antonio was shocked to the core. He couldn’t believe Travis had the nerves to tell that to his face. He was mad that he saw red. He groaned furiously and turned to stop the boy but got another shock. As soon as he turned, he felt his heart pound sharply in his chest when he found his aunt, Emma, standing right in front of Travis with her eyes wide open, staring into his face as she’d just seen a ghost. She was with Andrea and Bruce. Antonio froze because he had no idea what was going on. Travis on the other hand just stared at the woman that blocked him, feeling a really cold wind hit his face. The way she was staring at him, those piercing brown eyes staring into his like they penetrated his very soul. The woman gave him chills and honestly, he hadn’t planned on meeting her that soon. ‘That boy is a whore. He’s just after this family’s wealth. He’s been having an affair with Santiago.’ All the words that she had used on him, all the pain and the suffering he had gone through in her hands came back and hit him like a storm. He was so mad that he was only a few seconds away from bursting. His fists clenched and his face became stern. That had been the woman that had ruined his life that night. The same woman that had started the same shit which nearly ended his life. “Praveen!” Emma shuddered, her mouth shaking. She was in surprise. Looking at the boy in front of her, she couldn’t believe it. She quickly rubbed her eyes and then looked again but he was still standing in front of her, staring into her eyes. He might have looked different, classy, elegant and with different hair colors but she could remember that face anywhere. “What do you think you’re doing in my son’s company?” Emma gasped but her voice was high. “Answer me?” Travis raised an eyebrow. “Excuse me!” He sounded surprised. “What are you talking about? I am not Praveen.” Hearing his answer, Emma burst into laughter, her eyes widening. “Really? Let me guess…” She paused and then looked into the roof like she was thinking of something. “…Travis Marasigan?” She laughed, folding her arms on her chest. “You might be able to fool everyone here but I know exactly who you are and what you’re trying to do here. When everyone told me, I couldn’t believe it so I came to see it for myself. After so many years…” She yelled, getting the attention of the people on that floor. “…you’ve decided to come back and finish what you couldn’t do years ago, huh? You’ve decided to make yourself a part of this company but guess what?” She warned, pointing angrily at him. “Your plans won’t work because today, I am gonna expose you in front of everyone here that Praveen and Travis are the same person.” Travis simply smiled, shaking his head like he wasn’t scared of her. Antonio on the other hand just stood still, looking dumbstruck. On the other hand, Bruce and Andrea, the people that had engineered the whole thing just smiled at each other because they knew that Travis’ time in the company was up. No one could challenge Emma because she was the ‘iron lady.’ “You’re ingenious!” Emma laughed in mock. “I don’t know how you managed to get into this company but I can assure you that…” She snapped her fingers in his face. But the boy was just smiling, looking at her like he wasn’t scared one bit. “…you’ll be out of here just like that. The entire world will get to know what kind of person you are, a whore. Now explain to me how you did it?” Travis shook his head. “Who are you and what do you want from me? I don’t know you and I have no idea what you’re talking about.” “You can pretend all you want.” Andrea snarled, breathing harshly. “But we’re here to prove a point, that something fake even if encased in gold, in the end, is eventually revealed as cheap and worthless.” Travis lost the smile on his face. “Are you talking about yourself?” “No!” Emma shook her head. “She’s talking about a stupid, timid, cheap village boy named Praveen.” She smirked. “Aren’t you that boy?” By then people were gathering, watching as the drama unfolded. Travis chuckled softly. “What are you talking about?” “I am talking about you. You are a fake.” “Fake?” Travis rolled his eyes, giving that mocking smile that made Emma get upset. “There’s nothing fake about me. Or perhaps it is you who doesn’t know the meaning of the word, ‘fake?” Emma laughed. “Fake, pirated, a cheap copy.” “Now you’re talking about yourself!” He glowered. To say everyone was shocked would be an understatement. Their mouths were wide open, staring at the boy who dared to insult a woman like Emma. Even Emma wasn’t an exception. She lost the smile on her face and took a step back. “That’s not how Praveen speaks!” She gasped, pointing at the fearless boy in front of her. “This is not Praveen. Praveen is unsophisticated!” “Like you and your gang over there!” “What?” Emma bellowed, clenching her fists. “How dare you talk to me like that?” “With the way you’ve just come to me, you’ve just shown that you have no breeding and you have no class.” He added, his face getting stern. “My mother taught me a lot about respecting my elders but I guess there was an exception to that. From what I know, respect isn’t something that your parents teach you but also… something that you learn as you age.” The look on Emma, Bruce, and Andrea’s faces was priceless. Travis enjoyed the shocked expression they had on their faces. He looked at them all from head to toe, chuckling to himself. “I can’t believe you left your home and came here all dressed up and that’s all you have to say? You’re wasting my time. Now, if you’ll excuse me….” He looked at them disgustingly and then started heading for the exit, leaving Emma feeling hot and breathing like she was in labor. She’d never been so insulted in her life before and that too in front of all the workers. She couldn’t take it. “How dare you?” Emma furiously rushed to Travis intending to hit him. She raised her hand so high and was about to hit him when suddenly, Travis made a quick turn and she found herself heading for the floor. Since she was in high heels, she fell flat to her face, hitting the floor with a thud. Everyone had their hands covering their mouths. They couldn’t believe what they’d just seen. Emma was on the floor wincing in pain. Shit! She felt like she sprained her ankle and it hurt like hell. All her dignity, pride, and respect, she felt it all vanish while she was on that floor. She furiously raised her head to stare into the eyes of the boy that she was now scared of. What she saw was a warning that scared her but she wasn’t gonna give up. “What the fuck?” Antonio rushed to his aunt, kneeling in front of her. He wrapped his arms around her, bringing her to his chest. “How dare you?” He rolled, raising his angry eyes at Travis. “How dare you do this to….” “I didn’t do anything to her,” Travis said hoarsely. “But that doesn’t mean I wasn’t intending to. I don’t know what you or your family wants from me but let this be known to all of you that I don’t tolerate people intimidating me or trying to get to embarrass me. I am a very respectful person but even an ant bites when pressured so be careful what you do when you’re around me, Antonio Gonzalez.” Antonio was furious. He was breathing like a beast. He furiously rose and gripped Travis’ arm painfully, bringing him closer. He breathed on his face and when Travis felt that hot breath, he could have sworn something crawled up his skin. He was really mad. “You can do or say whatever you want with me but don’t you ever in your life try to hurt her again.” He warned, breathing heavily. “That woman is like my mother and I don’t mess with her. If you wanna get on my bad….” Travis furiously released his hand from Antonio’s grip, staring into his angry eyes. “I don’t care what you say to me or your threats, Mr. Gonzalez.” He yelled, breathing like a beast. “I have been through hell and back. I don’t care about your threats because they don’t do shit to me. I don’t care how powerful your family thinks they are or if they feel they can step on anyone. Whether old or young, I don’t fear anyone and I don’t like it when people try to talk about my character.” He furiously ripped his eyes from Antonio and laid them on the woman that was still staring at him like she wanted to kill him. “Next time, ma’am, please do very well research before you try to intimidate someone.” He warned, pointing at her. “I know my rights very well and I also know that deformation of character is a very serious crime. Be careful next time.” He shifted his eyes to a growling Antonio, whose eyes turned red from anger. His fists were clenched and he was only seconds away from hitting Travis. But there something deep inside of him that was stopping him. “You should be thanking me that I didn’t do anything to her.” He warned. “She’s very lucky that she’s way older than me, otherwise, I would have shown her the other side of me.” With one final look at the shocked woman on the floor, Travis furiously turned and left the building with an evil grin on his face. He wasn’t gonna allow anyone from Antonio’s family to hurt him or make him suffer again. ‘You haven’t seen anything yet, Antonio!’ Travis thought. Clenching his fists. ‘I’ll make you pay for what you had done to me in the past, you and your gang. You’re gonna regret ever crossing paths with me. I swear.’ Antonio groaned and then stormed out of the building, leaving Emma on the floor. She was feeling so ashamed and embarrassed. She just groaned in pain, wrapping her arms around herself. It was shocking to believe that Praveen had done that to her. Now she was sure that he wasn’t Praveen. “Aunt!” Andrea slowly knelt in front of her, holding her hand tightly. “I am so sorry. I never thought that he’d do that. I…” “He…” Emma was so dumbstruck that she couldn’t even find a word to use. “Oh my God!” “Come on!” Andrea helped her up together with Bruce. “Let’s get out of here.” The two helped their fellow culprit up though she was still shocked and she couldn’t walk normally. People were talking among themselves and others were laughing. They knew what kind of woman Emma was and it was just funny and relieving to see someone put her in her place. She had to know that she couldn’t just step on anyone. “What the fuck are you looking at?” Bruce snapped, making the workers run. “Get back to your fucking positions before I have your asses fired.” They were all furious and they all knew that they had to do something about the thorn that started piercing their flesh, Travis. They knew they had to get rid of him somehow. *** As soon as Travis entered the kitchen, he was welcomed by a very heartwarming scene in front of him. His son was seated on the counter, holding a folk while laughing with his grandmother that was holding a cookie to him. It was amazing. Both of them were a mess, covered in flour, and Travis couldn’t help but laugh. “Hmmm….” Travis moaned, rushing to the most important people in his life. “What did I miss?” “Daddy?” Sean screamed, opening his arms widely. Travis held his son tightly and got himself dirty in the process but he loved it. He kissed his cheeks, enjoying his tiny, gorgeous giggles. Then he kissed his aunt and just folded his arms, watching the two smile happily. “So what are my two favorite people in the world doing?” He asked, raising an eyebrow. “Daddy, we’re making cookies for you,” Sean said softly in his little voice. “Granny said that when you return, you would be hungry so we decided to make cookies for you.” “Oh…” Travis held his chest, feeling extremely loved. “Thank you so much, sweetie.” He kissed his son on the lips, watching as a smile brightened up his face. “But you’re all dirty.” “We’re not complaining. Now, why don’t you taste that?” Vanessa laughed as she shoved a cookie in his mouth. “Oh…” Travis tasted the cookie and it was delicious. The three of them spent over an hour in the kitchen just enjoying cookies and by the time they were done, Travis’ clothes were also dirty. But he was happy because, after such a stressful day at work, he got to laugh, smile, and be with his family. He was very happy. “So, my baby, how was the first day at school?” Travis asked as he rubbed his son’s lips. “Did you enjoy it?” Sean nodded, smiling at his father. “It was great. Stephanie and I played a lot.” Then his face got long again. “But she went away and… and I wanted to go with her. Daddy, can I go to Stephanie’s place, please?” Travis looked at Vanessa with a worried face. “But honey, you just met her. I don’t think…” “No, daddy… she’s very nice and she’s the only friend I have.” Travis felt bad for his son. “But sweetie, you don’t even know anyone at her house. Okay…” He smiled brightly, taking his son in his arms. “…granny or daddy will talk to Stephanie’s parents, get to know them, and then you can go and visit them. Do you like that?” Sean nodded, kissing Travis’ cheeks. “Now why don’t you run to nanny and then take a shower? Daddy will be waiting for you in the room.” Sean giggled and then ran out of the room, leaving Vanessa and Travis staring at him as he left. “I always thank God for giving us, Sean,” Vanessa said with a sigh. “I can see Richard in him. He makes our lives brighter. I don’t know how I would have survived without you two.” “Me too, aunt…” Travis sighed relief. “…me too.” “And don’t worry about Stephanie’s parents. I have interacted with her mother. She’s a very nice person and today, she asked if Sean could visit.” Travis smiled, holding his aunt tightly. She made him feel at peace whenever he held her. “I just want my son to be safe, aunt!” Travis said softly, slightly closing his eyes. “I can’t take it if anyone hurt him. I don’t think I can spare anyone.” Vanessa smiled, running her fingers through his hair. “By the way, how was your first day at Tonzalez blue?” Travis raised his head and lost the smile on his face. “Tomorrow, we have to start working on the brands of shoes and clothes I proposed. It’s not what I expected because Andrea has challenged me. But even better.” His face got stern as he slightly moved away from his aunt. “She better pray that her brand does better than mine, otherwise…” He chuckled bitterly. “…she’ll be in for a big surprise.” Vanessa nodded. “Of course, she’ll be in for a big surprise.” Travis smiled. “Plus, I had an encounter with Emma today. She came to the company premises just a few hours back.” “What?” Vanessa gasped, losing that smile on her face. “What did that shameless woman come to do there? Did she hurt you? Are you okay?” “No!” He smiled, taking a deep breath as he went down memory lane. “She tried to insult me and prove that Travis and Praveen are the same people. But she got what was coming to her. I had to put her in her place. I had been waiting for that moment for a long time.” He chuckled sinisterly. “She’s gonna think twice before approaching me though Antonio got mad.” “Did…” “He can’t hurt me, aunt!” He shook his head. “No matter what he does, he’ll never hurt me again. I won’t allow him. What I had gone through in his hands was enough to last me for a lifetime. Now it’s their turn to suffer.” Vanessa opened her arms wide, gesturing for Travis. Travis chuckled nervously and rushed into her arms. She wrapped them around him and kissed his head softly. Then the both of them just stayed like that for a few minutes. It was such an emotional scene. *** There was a terrible noise that sounded throughout the house, making everyone wonder what was going on. Everyone came rushing into the living room and as soon as they reached there, they saw Antonio shouting at someone over the phone. Damn, he was so pissed and everyone knew that something terrible had probably happened. “Well, tell those stupid fuckers that I am canceling the contract with them.” He yelled, stamping his foot on the floor. “I don’t wanna perform at their event, okay? I have a lot of things to do and so much in my head.” He remained quiet for a few seconds. “Well, they can go and fuck themselves.” He furiously cut the call and threw the phone so hard on the floor and it broke to pieces. Of course, he wasn’t worried because he had a lot of phones in the house. But his entire family was worried and even little Stephanie was scared. She held on tightly to her mother, looking at her uncle like he was a beast or something worse. “Mommy…” Stephanie spoke in her little voice. “…what’s wrong with uncle?” But Celine was dumbstruck. She had never seen him act like that and she didn’t know what to say to her daughter. “Err…” She knelt on the floor and smiled brightly at her daughter. “…baby, uncle is…” “My love, I am sorry.” Antonio rushed to Stephanie and knelt in front of her. He held the little girl’s hands and could feel that she was scared. As soon as he had set his eyes on her, his anger had at least melted though he was still mad. But there was something about the girl that always gave him some peace. “I am sorry, baby.” He apologized, leaning to kiss her cheek. “Would you forgive uncle? He’s just in a bad mood, my love.” Stephanie nodded, smiling brightly. Seeing her smile, Antonio couldn’t help but smile too. He felt at least happy. “Would you like to eat ice cream with your uncle?” “Yeh….” Steph jumped, kissing Antonio’s cheeks. Antonio smile and whispered an, ‘I love you,’ before lifting the girl and taking her to his room. Everyone felt relieved and Emilia was happy that he hadn’t screamed at her, thanks to her granddaughter. She was really happy. They were all about to back to their respective room when they saw Bruce entering the house and looking like he’d just had a really bad day. “Bruce!” Celine called, stopping him in his tracks. “What’s going on? Do you have any idea what’s wrong with your husband?” Bruce gave Celine an angry look before he gave a bitter laugh. “Really? You’re asking? What good can come to him when that bitch has invaded his company? Do you expect him to smile when the whore that nearly destroyed his life is doing all he can to hurt him?” “What?” Emilia gasped, trying to understand what Bruce was talking about. “Who invaded his company?” Celine held Emilia’s hand. “Mother, it’s nothing!” She lied, trying to spare the woman from her pain. “It’s just…” “Oh, you’re gonna lie now?” Bruce laughed, getting closer to where Celine and the woman stood. “Well, your stupid ex-son in law, Praveen is now a shareholder at Tonzalez blue, one of your son’s biggest companies. And do you know how much he owns there? 30%!” He yelled. Emilia felt her heart pound in her chest. “How’s that possible, huh? I thought….” “Don’t pretend to be shocked, mother in law!” He said rudely, dropping his hands to his hips. “You must be very happy since your only goal is to destroy us all. I don’t even know why Antonio keeps you here. He should have thrown you out or taken you to an early elderly people’s home, where you belong.” “How dare you?” Celine snapped, shaking her head angrily. “Who do you think you are to talk to mother like that? Do you realize she’s the mother of your husband? Instead of you to be…” “Enough with your lecture, Celine!” Bruce brushed her off rudely with his hand. “I am not interested in it. If a woman doesn’t respect herself why should I respect her? She doesn’t deserve it. The only one I respect as my husband’s mother was just insulted and hurt by that whore called Travis so why should I care about her feelings?” “What?” Emilia gasped, a tear going down her cheek. “And you don’t have to pretend to be shocked because he’s only helping you hurt this family.” Bruce laughed bitterly. “But I promise you that that boy will pay if it’s the last thing I do on this earth. I’ll make sure that whatever plans he has, fails!” Emilia couldn’t take the insult. She just turned and left. Celine was pretty mad and she couldn’t allow someone like Bruce to insult her mother. She couldn’t tolerate it. “How dare you talk to her like that?” Celine glowered, getting closer to Bruce. “A son-in-law is supposed to bring peace and unity to the family of his husband but what are you doing? You’re causing conflicts and division? You’re supposed to be uniting mother and son but now I see that you’re the problem.” Bruce simply rolled his eyes, pretending like he wasn’t paying attention to what Celine was saying. “You know what, I think the greatest mistake that Antonio has ever made in his life is marrying a selfish man like you.” She yelled, making Bruce lose his smile. He was instantly mad. “You know, Praveen might have betrayed this family but when he was here, he made this family happy. He brought unity and no one complained about him. But the very day you stepped into this house, everything went haywire. And you call him a whore, huh?” Celine laughed. “But guess who the whore is, the one who used to sleep with his husband when they were still married?” “What the fuck?” Bruce raised his hand to slap Celine but got shocked when she held his hand and gripped it painfully. He was so mad that he was breathing like a wounded bull. “How dare you, Celine?” “I am not Praveen!” Celine warned. “And neither am I people that tolerate you in this house. I am the first daughter in law of this house and I am older than you so I demand respect from you. Don’t you ever in your stupid life try this stunt with me again?” She threw Bruce’s hand and stared into his glassy looking eyes. She could see how mad he was but she simply didn’t care about it. With a nod, she turned and left him there, staring at her like he wanted to kill her. It wasn’t gonna be over soon and he was gonna make her pay for her words. That was a promise he made to her. *** “Alright, just take these sketches to them and also all the samples that I gave you,” Travis instructed, handing the files to his assistant. “I will be joining them soon. I just want to get something quickly from the office.” “Sure, sir!” Tina smiled, getting the files from her boss. “And sir, you look handsome today.” “Oh,” Travis blushed, shaking his head. “Thanks.” She raised her hand and left, leaving him smiling. They had already started working on clothes and shoes and he couldn’t have been happier. They had been working on them the entire morning and now they were going somewhere. Travis was just happy that the interns were good at what they did. He knew that with them by his side, they were gonna be done quickly. Travis chuckled and then headed to his office. He needed to set some things in his office, things that he had left unattended to. Travis was just dressed simply that day, in a black t-shirt, black skinny jeans, and brown snickers on his feet. His hair was made into a ponytail that reached to his butt, revealing his gorgeous face. Travis entered his office and took a small box that was on the table where he had some of the pictures and a few paintings that he wanted to put in his office. He took out the picture that he wanted to be there, the picture of his lovely father. He had been looking really lovely that day in a black suit with a white shirt inside. He was serious but he sure looked handsome. “I miss you, dad!” He whispered, passing his hands on that beautiful picture. He framed it and then placed it on his table so that he could look at it while he worked. Then he took out the picture that made him like an emotional fool. He had been with his father that day and though he wasn’t happy, Travis could remember it all well. His father had his arm tightly wrapped around him while he kissed his cheek. That had been after Travis had gotten out of the hospital when he had almost lost Sean due to threatened miscarriage. His father had taken him out to cheer him up. Santiago had even taken the picture. “I love you so much.” Travis moaned, holding the picture closer to his heart. “And I miss you.” Travis got emotional and he didn’t even realize that he was tearing up. He came back to reality when he heard a knock on the door. He put the picture down and cleared his face. He didn’t want anyone to see him like that. “Come on in!” He hollered. The door opened wide, revealing a handsome looking man in a red designer’s suit that fit him like a second skin with red shoes. He was looking gorgeous and Travis couldn’t help but smile. “Hey!” Paul waved, getting closer to the beautiful boy. “Hi!” “Hey, Paul!” Travis chuckled nervously. “What brings you here?” Paul smiled brightly, getting lost in those eyes that made him enter a world of ecstasy. “You!” He moaned. “Me?” Travis raised his eyebrow. “Hope I am not in trouble?” “Not at all.” Paul sighed, chuckling to himself. “I was wondering if you’d like to go out with me for lunch. You must be hungry because it’s your second day here and you’re working hard.” “Oh!” Travis glanced at his watch. He didn’t even realize that he hadn’t had lunch. “No! I was about to get back to…” “It’s just a few blocks away from here,” Paul whispered, taking Travis’ hand. “Besides, you and I haven’t talked since you came here. Are you gonna deny me that?” Travis looked at Paul and then gave a gloomy sigh. “Fine! But I won’t take long. I need to get back to my team.” Paul nodded. “Even a second with you is worth it.” Travis blushed, nodding. They both left the office arm in arm, talking like long lost friends. Travis was really happy that at least, someone in the company didn’t him a headache like the Gonzalez. He found peace with Paul and he was happy. It didn’t take long before they reached the classy restaurant and Travis was happy. But his happiness was soon ruined as soon as they reached. He saw Antonio there having his lunch and he was with his husband, Bruce and they were talking smiling among themselves. Travis prayed for Paul to just find another table where they could just be the two of them but his prayer wasn’t answered. As soon as Paul saw his friend, he was already heading there. “Hey, dude!” Paul gasped, staring at the happy couple. “Didn’t think I could see you here? Do you care if I join you?” Antonio was about to answer his friend with a smile but as soon as his eyes landed on Travis, his heart nearly skipped a beat and he became dumbstruck. He had no idea where his anger came from but he found himself staring at the boy, his fists clenching under the table. Whenever he saw Travis, he had no idea where all the anger that he felt came from. He hated him so much. “Not at all.” Bruce chuckled, giving Travis a mocking smile. “Plenty of space here.” “Great!” Paul rubbed his hands together. He smiled at Travis before he pulled a seat for him. Travis sat gracefully, trying, by all means, to avoid making eye contact with any of the fools that were at the table. He could feel their eyes on him but he didn’t care. “What would you like to have, my gorgeous one?” Paul asked, slowly bowing. Travis laughed. “You’re insane, Paul. But whatever you order for me, I’ll eat.” “Great!” Paul chuckled. “I’ll go and get you something special, mi senor.” Travis winked at the man. “I’ll be waiting, Mr. Mendez.” Paul chuckled and then left, acting as he’d just won a lottery. “Some men are just so hard to resist!” Travis commented, taking the menu from the table. He was acting all happy and excited which made Antonio madder. He couldn’t believe Travis had the nerves to flirt with Paul right in his presence. Wait, why was he even thinking about that, he thought as he clenched his teeth? A lot was going on in Antonio’s head and he was burning in anger. He was so sure that Travis was up to something. But whatever he was up, it seemed to be working because Antonio was getting mad. On the other hand, Bruce was giving a smile because he knew that he had Antonio all to himself. He was now married to him and he needed to show Praveen or whatever he called himself that he had already won. “My love,” Bruce moaned, getting closer to his husband. “You’ve got something on your lips.” Antonio ripped his eyes from Travis and looked at Bruce. “What?” Bruce gestured, taking a glance at the boy that wasn’t even paying attention. “There’s something on your lips. Let me get that for you.” Then Bruce even did something crazier. He leaned forward and captured his husband’s lips, kissing him right in front of Travis and everyone that was watching in that restaurant. Shit! Antonio was caught off guard. He hadn’t expected Bruce to do that but he couldn’t do anything. He felt frozen even as Bruce sucked on his lips like there was no tomorrow, moaning his brains out. Travis felt like ice had just been poured on him when he heard Bruce’s sensual moan. He quickly raised his head to see what was going on and got the shock of his life when he saw the two men kissing shamelessly like there was no tomorrow. Bruce had his hands grasping the back of Antonio’s head, closing the space in between them. Seeing the two kissing, Travis felt hot and cold at the same time. He didn’t know what he felt, whether pain or anger. He just stared at them, wondering what Bruce was trying to achieve. Then all the painful memories of the past started hitting him at the same time. ‘I love you so much.’ Antonio’s words rang through him. ‘I have never felt this way about anyone else.’ Travis felt tears building in his eyes but he suppressed them. He had never thought he’d be that weak or get hurt by seeing Antonio kissing someone again. He looked away, trying to act like everything was normal. After what felt like forever, Bruce finally tore away from those gorgeous lips that he was dying to taste again. He had a horny look on his face. “You’re the best husband any guy could ever ask for.” Bruce moaned, biting his lip while he rubbed on his husband’s lips. “And your lips keep on getting sweeter and sweeter. I love you so much, baby!” Antonio was beyond shocked. He knew the reason why Bruce had done that. “Love you too!” He muttered. Wait, did he even realize he said that? Bruce gasped when he heard that from Antonio. He hadn’t expected that from him at all. Tears of joy formed in his eyes and he felt like he was on top of the world. He still couldn’t believe that his husband had just said that he loved him back. It had been long since he last heard that from him. Antonio diverted his eyes to Travis and got shocked when he saw him smiling, staring deep into his eyes. He had expected him to be sad, hurt, and even maybe tearing up but none of that happened. The boy was just as confident looking as ever. “Well, it looks like you guys are pretty busy.” Travis grinned, putting the menu on the table. “It would be rude to disturb your romance.” Travis was getting up when all of a sudden, Bruce intentionally pushed on a glass full of apple juice and it fell, emptying all its contents on Travis’ pants. “Oh my God!” Travis quickly rose, staring at his jean. Shit! He was wet. Travis furiously looked at Bruce and saw that evil grin on his face. He knew that the guy had done that on purpose. He lost the smile on his face and gave Bruce an angry look. He was mad. “Oh my God!” Bruce gasped in mock astonishment. “I am so sorry. I… I didn’t mean to do that. I… I am sorry.” Travis took some tissue from the table and tried to wipe the juice but it wasn’t helping. He was wet and he needed to clean up somehow. He glanced at Antonio and saw that satisfied smile on his face. He was pissed at Bruce for pulling such a stunt. With a groan, he walked away and went to the bathroom to clean himself. He was so wet that he no matter what he did to wipe it off, it wasn’t working. In the end, he just gave up and stared at himself in the mirror. He was so mad and he promised that Bruce was gonna pay. As he was still staring into the huge mirror, the door to the bathroom opened, and in came a happy-looking Bruce, smiling as he’d just won a lottery. He was so happy that he had managed to put Travis in his place. “Hmm….” Bruce moaned, folding his arms. Travis sighed and then took a tissue, slowly rubbing his hands. Even through the mirror, he didn’t miss that mocking smile on Bruce’s face. The man-made him go insane with anger. “You know what?” Bruce started, staring right at Travis. “I know exactly what you’re up to. Getting into the company, showing up whenever you’re not needed and always smiling at my husband…” He chuckled bitterly. “…your plan is not going to work. Today was just juice but next time, it will be hot water. Do you understand?” Travis just chose to ignore the bastard and continued with what he was doing. He didn’t think that he had the time to argue with someone like Bruce. He was way smarter than that. “Now I am warning you for the last time!” Bruce snarled, pointing at the man that was just in his world. “Whatever plans that you have, they’re not going to work. My husband belongs to me and no matter what you try to do or how much you pretend, I can see through you. I know you’re still the same old dirty boy you were six years ago. So stay in your lane.” With an evil laugh, Bruce left the bathroom, leaving Travis groaning. He was so mad. Bruce got out of the bathroom and got back to his husband where he found him together with Paul and they were talking among themselves. Of course, Bruce had to put up a smile as he sat beside his husband, knowing that Travis was not gonna mess with him again. “Hey, where’s Travis?” Paul asked, sounding a bit worried. “Oh, there was a bit of an accident,” Bruce answered, still smiling like an evil bitch. “He went to the bathroom to clean himself. I think he was a bit overexcited and he accidentally poured juice on himself. You know, being in the presence of Antonio Gonzalez is not what most people are privileged with.” Paul gave a half-smile, wondering what Bruce meant by what he said. “Well, I better go and check if he needs anything.” “You do that!” Bruce clung to his husband. Paul nodded and was about to get up when a smile popped up on his face. He saw Travis coming towards the table with a smile on his face, looking as sexy as ever. He was dressed in a red designer’s shirt that was halfway done and tucked in white skinny jeans with white sneakers on his feet. He was looking sexy and amazing and his body was just to die. Paul was impressed. “There you are.” Paul smiled brightly, staring at the boy. “Are you okay?” Travis nodded, standing near Paul. Then he looked at Bruce and when he saw that shocking expression on his face, he felt really happy. Bruce was really surprised because he hadn’t expected Travis to change. And how the hell did he change that fast, he thought as he looked at the boy from head to toe. Antonio on the other hand had never seen anyone so sexy his entire life. For a second, he forgot he was staring at the boy that made his blood boil. He was blown away by his beauty, class, and his sexiness. Shit! Did he even realize he was staring? “I am okay. Just a few minor setbacks but I’ll live.” His eyes were fixed on Bruce. “And I also have to leave? I am needed by my team for something important. I have been gone for too long and they’re all wondering where I have gone.” “Really?” Paul asked, losing the smile on his face. “I thought we were supposed to have lunch together.” “I am sorry.” He apologized. “I’ll make it up to you.” Then he leaned forward and kissed Paul’s cheek right in front of Bruce and Antonio. Antonio suddenly felt a powerful vibration hit him, getting him out of his thoughts. He was suddenly brought to reality and he had no idea why he felt so much anger when he saw Travis kiss Paul’s cheeks. He didn’t even realize that his fists were clenching. “But I am sure that the couple will love to have you for lunch!” He chuckled nervously, staring at the two mad looking men. “I have to go now. I have got a lot of work to do.” He left with the two men staring as he walked out of the restaurant. Many faces in that restaurant were staring at him because he was a beauty to behold. When Bruce saw the way his husband looked at Travis, he felt like a vessel of anger. He was so mad. Antonio was still staring at that ass that made his body ache with desire when suddenly, his phone started ringing. Without even looking at it, he answered the call and… “What?” He furiously got up from the chair. “Where? I am coming right now!” Without saying a word to the two men he was with, he left hurriedly. Both Paul and Bruce wondered what was going on but they couldn’t ask because it was already too late to ask. *** Emilia was moving from side to side, looking at her watch. Her heart was racing and she was already sweating and teary. It was already dark and she was really scared and nervous. Her breaths were harsh and her body shook in fear. She was making prayers in her heart but nothing seemed to be working. It had been so long she had called Antonio but he hadn’t shown up and she was now getting worried. “Maybe I should just start looking!” She gasped, nodding. “It’s getting late!” Emilia was about to start her search when suddenly, she saw her son’s car rushing towards her. The car stopped and a pissed looking Antonio came out. His eyes were red and he was breathing harshly. “Son….” But Emilia didn’t even finish her sentence as Antonio gripped her arm painfully and pinned her to a wall. It hurt but she felt she deserved it somehow. “Son…” “You said you’ll take care of granny!” He glowered, his breaths becoming even harsher. “This is how you take care of her? Why did you bring her here knowing that she’s not well, huh? How many times have I warned you not to bring granny out of the house without else and most especially to this freaking place? Despite my warnings, you insisted on bringing her here.” Emilia shuddered, shaking her head. “I… I am sorry. I… I thought that maybe I could bring her to the temple and she’d get better since you’ve refused to…” “Whom did you ask? Who even gave you the right to bring my grandmother here? I have always told you to stay away from her but you’ve always insisted on taking care of her. Is this how you take care of her?” Emilia couldn’t fight her tears. “I was with her when I was praying and she was right there. I just closed my eyes for a minute and she was gone. I tried to look for her but I couldn’t find her. I don’t understand how she could have moved and…” “Aren’t you an expert at causing chaos?” Antonio snapped, making Emilia slightly close her eyes. “If anything happens to granny today, Emilia Gonzalez, I will not spare you. I will make you suffer should I lose my grandmother. Even if she suffers a little, I will make you pay. You know I have no one left but her. She’s the only one!” He yelled in her face. “Antonio, please…” Emilia sniveled, crying softly. “…I…” “You don’t listen, do you?” He hollered, screaming in her face. “Antonio!” Ethan came rushing together with the nurse. Emilia had called him and he was surprised to find Antonio hurting her. “What do you think you’re doing hurting your mother?” He pushed Antonio away from Emilia and held her tightly. “What kind of behavior is this? Instead of trying to think of ways….” “What ways?” Antonio yelled, breathing like a monster. “She caused all this. If it hadn’t been for her, granny would have been home right now sleeping. But now she’s missing and only God knows where the fuck she is and it’s because of that woman.” Emilia sobbed, resting her head on Ethan’s chest. She was beyond hurt. “Calm down, will you?” Ethan yelled, shaking his head. “Instead of blaming each other, let’s go and look for her. I agree that aunt made a mistake but it’s already late and if we keep on blaming her, we won’t find granny.” “Antonio, I promise….” “Don’t just promise, focus on your job!” He brushed her rudely. “She only has one simple job and she can’t even do it right. Go and search for granny!” Emilia moved away from Ethan and ran away from there. She didn’t want to make her son madder than he already was. Ethan shook his head angrily and followed her. The nurse too excused herself and went to search for her. Antonio was so mad. “Fuck!” He swore, pulling on his hair. As he was busy cursing and thinking of what to do, suddenly he heard some people shouting that there was an old woman in the middle of the road and she was in a wheelchair. Shit! Antonio’s heart missed a beat. He knew exactly how busy that road was and it was his grandmother, she was in so much danger. He didn’t waste any time. He ran like the hounds of hell were after him. *** Granny’s wheelchair was right in the middle of the big busy road and there were a lot of cars that were honking at her, almost hitting her wheelchair. She was really scared and she had her hands on her ears, looking everywhere and groaning in pain and fear. Her face was flooded with tears and her heart was racing. The poor woman had no idea what was going on. Her hair was loose and she was wearing just a simple dress with nothing on her feet. Her mouth shook uncontrollably in fear and she wanted to scream for help but she couldn’t. Man, the old woman didn’t even know what was going on. People were watching from the other side of the road with their hands on their mouths. None of them could help because they were really scared of getting hurt themselves. Suddenly, there was a loud honking sound that scared everyone. A large truck was nearing the old woman, honking like it was going insane. It was speeding and there were also many cars behind it so it couldn’t stop. The truck kept on honking but the old woman wasn’t moving. The truck was near and people lost all hopes. Some had their eyes covered while others watched in fear. They all knew that it was all over. The old woman was dead already. Just when they thought nothing could save the old woman, they saw a brave young man running towards the old woman. He gripped the wheelchair and pulled it out of the road. The truck nearly hit them both but the young man was really quick. “Almighty!” Everyone gasped, feeling their hearts race. They all began rushing there to see if the old woman and the young man were okay. Granny was groaning softly, her hands shaking uncontrollably. She was scared. But suddenly…. “Are you okay?” The young man asked quickly, kneeling in front of the woman. When granny’s eyes landed on that young man’s face, everything in this world disappeared. A tear went down her cheek as she felt like a powerful force had just taken control of her. For a second, she felt a peace unlike she had never felt before. Her heartbeat calmly and her breaths stopped while her eyes widened. That face! There was something about that face that granny couldn’t understand. It was like… no, she could have sworn she had seen that face before. The young man was handsome, staring at her with wide-open eyes. He looked shocked or rather surprised. He was putting on a yellow long see-through shirt and a black skinny jean. His hair was loose and he had a beautiful blue scarf around his neck. Granny had never seen a man as handsome as him. “You!” Granny gasped, slowly raising her hand. A smile popped up on her face and a tear went down her cheek. She felt so much joy and for the first time in six years, she smiled. “You!” The young man wanted to say something but people came rushing there including granny’s nurse who looked worried. “Ma’am!” The nurse gasped. “Are you alright? Oh my God, you’ve got no idea how scared we were.” The young man tried to get up but granny gripped his hand tightly, taking a glance at the nurse. The nurse looked at the handsome young man. “Thank you so much, sir! You did a great job.” She put her hands together. “You have no idea how worried her family has been. You did a great job.” She diverted her eyes to the old woman. “Come on, ma’am! We have to go. Your grandson is worried.” Granny shook her head. “Don’t touch me!” She warned, surprising even the nurse. “Don’t touch me. I don’t want to go with you. Listen…” She looked at the young man. “…don’t let them take me. Please, take me with you. I want to go with you. I don’t want to go with her. I want to go with you. They’re very bad, please!” The young man was just staring at the old woman without saying anything. He was still shocked and his eyes were turning glassy. He couldn’t believe what he was seeing. The woman he had left sane, beautiful and so much happy, she was now sick. He couldn’t believe it. Travis was dumbstruck. He just looked at the woman, trying to understand what had happened to her. “Please, take me with you. Don’t touch me!” She hit the nurse’s hand. “Please, I wanna go with you.” Travis opened his mouth to say something but… “Granny!” It was Antonio’s voice and Travis felt his heart sink in his chest. Fortunately, Antonio couldn’t see him due to the crowd that had surrounded granny. Antonio came running like a madman with Ethan and Emilia right behind him. Travis quickly withdrew his hand from granny’s, just as Antonio arrived and knelt in front of his grandmother, holding her hand tightly. He had tears in his eyes and he was beyond scared. He couldn’t believe his grandmother was alright. “Granny!” He sniveled, kissing her hands sweetly. “Thank God you’re alright. You’ve got no idea how worried I was. You got me scared.” “Antonio!” Granny spoke softly, slowly moving her hand to caress his cheek. When Antonio heard his name from granny’s mouth, he froze. He quickly raised his head and got shocked when he saw her smiling. That had never happened since she got sick. To add to that, the woman had never called his name or anyone’s name for that matter. She was always shouting, throwing things, and saying things he couldn’t understand so it was shocking. “Granny!” Antonio chuckled in pain, failing to fight his tears. “You’re smiling?” “Where did you go, Antonio?” She asked, shaking her head. “Where were you? When did you return?” “Granny!” Antonio sobbed, lying on her lap. “Granny!” He still couldn’t believe it. Meanwhile, Ethan and Emilia came rushing and when they arrived, they were just as shocked when they found granny smiling and running her fingers through her grandson’s hair. They couldn’t help but smile even though they were still shaking from fear. Travis on the other hand felt tears building in his eyes when he saw Emilia after six long years. She didn’t look good but… ‘Even a witch doesn’t attack her own home but you… you stabbed me right in the face. Don’t ever call me mother, ever!’ Her painful words still haunted him and he knew he had to get out of there before she saw him. Travis rushed out of there, running towards his car. He was in so much hurry that he didn’t even realize that the scarf on his neck had been blown away by the wind. He just reached his car, entered, and told the driver to drive fast. The scarf that had left Travis’ neck landed right on Antonio’s face. Antonio slowly raised his head, taking the scarf away from his face. He looked at it and somehow, there was something about that scarf that made his heart race but not in fear or anger but something really sweet. He didn’t even realize that he was smiling as he held on to that scarf, trying to look around. He didn’t even know what he was looking for. Granny chuckled. “You know what Antonio, I am so happy that you’re here today. A boy saved my life today. An angel saved my life, my angel.” Antonio looked at his granny slowly, wondering what she was talking about. “A boy!” He gasped. “He was so beautiful!” Granny chuckled happily, remembering that gorgeous face. “He’s my angel, Antonio. He was very nice and… it seemed I know him but I can’t remember.” She cupped her grandson’s cheeks. “If not for him, I don’t know what would have happened.” “No, granny…” Antonio shook his head, holding her hand tightly. “…nothing bad would have happened to you.” “Because I had my angel with me.” She said happily. “He protected me. Antonio, you need to find that angel.” Antonio was still confused and he had no idea why he felt like that. He had a feeling that he knew the person that had saved granny but who, he thought as he tried to get back to normal. His granny was smiling and speaking like she was a bit normal and he was happy. But that scarf he was holding reminded him so much of Praveen. He wanted to throw it away but he didn’t have the strength.” “Did you see the boy?” Antonio asked the nurse who was just as surprised as he was. “Yes!” The nurse nodded. “But I never paid much attention to remember him.” Antonio looked around but couldn’t see anyone that fit that description. “Granny is smiling and speaking normally for the first time in six years. I think it’s all because of that boy. I need you to help me find him, please. But for now, we need to take her to the hospital. I need the doctor to examine her and explain what’s going on?” The nurse nodded and took the smiling granny with her. Emilia followed behind because she didn’t wanna upset her son. Ethan on the other hand remained with Antonio, staring at him like he was a stranger. He held his hand, watching as the man gave him a worried look. “Are you okay?” Antonio nodded. “Let’s go. It’s nothing!” The two men followed behind. *** Travis slowly entered the house, walking and lost deep in thought. He just kept on thinking about granny, the state that he had seen her in, and how happy she had been when she saw him. ‘Take me away from here. I wanna go with you.’ Travis sighed, holding his hand softly, the same hand that granny had held. He could still feel her touch just as gentle as it had been years back. But he was not at peace. He was scared and there were a lot of questions running through his head. He just wasn’t himself. “Hey!” Travis nearly jumped when he felt a hand on his shoulder. He quickly raised his head and found Vanessa looking at him worriedly. He tried to smile but he wasn’t fooling anyone at all. She could see through him. “Son!” Vanessa spoke softly, rubbing on his shoulder. “What’s wrong? Are you okay?” Travis nodded. “Where’s Sean?” “He went to sleep,” Vanessa said as she led to the living room. “He was too tired and couldn’t wait for you. Are you sure you’re okay?” Travis didn’t wanna lie to Vanessa. The woman was always worried about him and he felt he owed to tell it to her. “I saw granny today, aunt!” He muttered, shaking his head. “Granny!” Vanessa was confused. “Which granny?” “Antonio’s grandmother!” He said, taking a deep breath. “I was coming from the temple when I saw a woman in the middle of the road. She was in a wheelchair and she was in a danger. I saved the woman and I got shocked when I saw that it was granny!” “Oh my god!” Vanessa gasped, looking confused. “Did she say anything bad to you? Was she with Antonio and…” “He was there but he didn’t see me.” He got up from the chair, combing his hair with his fingers. “She couldn’t recognize me. It’s like she didn’t even know who I was but she was excited to see me.” Vanessa frowned. “What are you saying…” “I think she has a mental problem, aunt!” He hollered, turning to face the woman. “It was so painful to see her like that, aunt! She looked thin and… and it just hurts to see her like that. Granny was one of the people in the house that loved me unconditionally. And now I get to find out that her…” He couldn’t say it because it was so painful. “Why? How?” “Shh…” Vanessa wrapped her arms around him, bringing him closer. “…I know what you’re trying to do, Travis. Don’t blame yourself for what happened to her? She probably…” “No, aunt!” He muttered, fighting off his tears. “…I need to find out exactly what had happened to a woman like her. I will not be at peace until I find out what had happened to her.” Vanessa gave a gloomy sigh. “But how will you do that? You can’t come out as Praveen Garcia. At least, not yet.” Travis shook his head. “No, I won’t do that. But one way or another, I am gonna have to find out.” Travis vowed that he was gonna find out what had happened to granny. She didn’t deserve what was happening to her. *** The doctor came out of the room and Antonio, Andrea, and Emma rushed towards him, hoping he was gonna give them some good news. Emilia was standing at a distance with Ethan and Bruce was just seated on the chair wishing he could just get away from all that drama. “Doctor, how’s she now?” The doctor sighed, shaking his head. “Her condition is still the same, if not worse. She almost bit one of the nurses and she was making a lot of noise. She doesn’t even want anyone to touch her. It’s a miracle we're able to put her to sleep.” Antonio sighed, wondering what was going on. “But I don’t understand. Earlier, I told you that she acted okay and she called my name, although, she was asking when I came back. I don’t understand how she…” “Well, Mr. Gonzalez, patients like your grandmother needs special care and love.” The doctor said, patting on Antonio’s shoulder. “When something intense like a deep feeling of love, joy, happiness, and maybe if they encounter a similar situation to that very reason that made them that way….” He paused and took a deep breath. “…they can temporarily snap out of it. I believe your grandmother felt at peace when she saw that boy or maybe she felt like he’s the missing link in her life.” Now everyone was confused. They were looking at each other in dismay, trying to get what the doctor was telling them. “What I mean is that, after a long time, your grandmother finally got to say something sensible.” The doctor chuckled, shaking his head. “We’ve tried so many nurses but none of them have been able to handle her. I believe, Mr. Gonzalez, if you can find this boy, you’ll just help in your grandmother’s quick recovery. I believe this boy can help us, that’s if he can agree or you can find him.” Tough! Antonio felt the entire world on his shoulders. He loved his granny a lot and he was ready to do anything for her. But the task at hand was too difficult for him. Where was he going to find the boy? He didn’t even know who he was and not to talk about seeing his face. The only thing he probably had that was his was…. “His scarf!” Antonio muttered, looking at the scarf closely. He had no idea he still had it with him. “This is the only thing I have of the boy. I don’t know where…” “What?” Bruce furiously rose from the chair. “You have a scarf? For what? Why do you have that, huh? How did you even….” “Can you please shut up?” Antonio snapped at his husband, right in front of the doctor and the staff. “I am thinking of ways to make granny better and all you have to think of is why I have his scarf? You better keep quiet if you don’t have anything to say to me.” Bruce folded his arms on his chest, looking away. He couldn’t believe Antonio had just said that to him in front of everyone. And it was all because of a stupid old woman that should have been taken to the mental asylum already. The doctor pretended like he hadn’t heard anything. “I suggest we keep your granny here for a day or two, just to make sure that she’s alright!” Antonio nodded, rubbing his sweaty forehead. “Yes!” Antonio was still confused as hell. He didn’t even know what he was gonna do. His granny had finally shown hopes of getting better but the person that had triggered that was nowhere to be seen. He didn’t even know where to look for him. What was he going to do? *** Travis was holding a black shoe that had just been given to him, examining it properly to make sure that everything was okay. He was so impressed with it. It was day three and everything was going perfectly. They had only remained with four days before their brand reached the market and they had produced several pieces, though the shoes were not that many. But it was okay. They were gonna continue with the production while selling. “This is great!” Travis chuckled happily, smiling brightly. “I love it. If we continue like this, we’ll be successful guys.” Travis’ steam started clapping. “You’re all doing a great job. Now, why don’t you go for lunch? We’ll continue with this later.” The interns thanked Travis and left. Travis was really happy. He got out and started heading to his office. He didn’t even reach far when he saw Antonio rushing out of the elevator, talking to someone on the phone. “Look, I don’t care what you have to do.” He yelled. “My grandmother is not as important as any fucking meeting right now. She’s my life, okay? Cancel all my meetings, reschedule them, or something. I don’t care what you do. Just cancel all of them.” He cut the call and cursed, gripping his hair. He was sweaty and so confused. His granny’s condition had gotten worse and he didn’t know where to find the freaking boy. He didn’t even know how he looked like. Antonio walked past Travis and he didn’t even see him. Travis got a little worried. He had never seen Antonio act like that. He wanted to ask him but how could he? He knew better. But luckily, he saw Antonio’s assistant and he rushed to her. “Hey, what’s wrong with him?” “His grandmother!” She sighed, shaking her head. “The woman has been mentally unstable for six years now. But now, I think her condition has gotten worse. I heard the boss say that he was looking for someone, a boy that saved her life yesterday. He was able to stabilize her condition yesterday.” Travis smiled sheepishly. “Thank you so much!” Travis was now confused and nervous. Granny had been sick for six years. That meant that she probably got sick after he left. He didn’t know what he was gonna do but he felt like he needed to see her. He needed to do something. Antonio didn’t deserve his sympathy or help but this was granny here. She didn’t deserve to suffer. *** The big glass of water crushed to the floor and broke to pieces… things in the room were scattered and the loud noise coming from the old woman was deafening. “Please, ma’am…” The nurse pleaded, trying to get close to her. But the old woman threw whatever she got her hands on at the nurse. “…please, try to…” “Get out!” Granny yelled, acting all insane that it scared the nurse. She was worse that day. “I don’t want you. Get out of here. I want my angel. Get out!” “Please,” The nurse was in tears. “Ma’am, your grandson had gone…” But she didn’t even finish her sentence as granny threw a pillow at her. She didn’t know what to do so, in the end, she just decided to leave. She couldn’t handle the woman anymore. She was gonna quit because it seemed the woman was a lunatic. “I am done!” The nurse groaned, quickly turning. But as soon as she turned, granny’s noises quieted down. She couldn’t hear her screams anymore. She stopped in tracks, wondering what was going on. She took a glance behind and found granny staring right at her with tears in her eyes and a smile on her face. She was surprised. “You came!” Granny gasped, a tear going down her cheek. “My angel!” But the nurse realized that she wasn’t talking to her and neither was she looking at her. It was at the young man standing in the doorway with a smile on his face. The nurse couldn’t help but admire the young man’s beauty. He was dressed in a red designer’s shirt that was tucked in a black designer’s skinny jeans with red snickers on his feet. He was looking amazing with a brown designer’s coat and his hair was just loose and he looked amazing and sexy. The nurse couldn’t help but stare. Travis was nervous but he slowly entered the room, slightly smiling at the nurse. “You!” Granny chuckled, holding out her hands. Travis rushed to her, sat on a chair closer to the bed, and held granny’s hands. He had no idea why he felt such peace when he held her. Her smile comforted his soul and the tears of joy in her eyes made him tear up. Granny on the other hand was happy and peaceful. Seeing that beautiful face, her angel again was too much for her. “Thank God you’re here!” The nurse chuckled, staring at the young man. “She has refused to eat or do anything. Just look at how the room is looking.” Travis glanced at the nurse. “Give me her food!” The nurse nodded and gave him granny’s food. It was just curried rice with a nicely made soup, something to give granny energy. Travis nodded as he looked at granny. Granny nodded and opened her mouth, enjoying the food that the beautiful boy was giving her. For the first time in six years, the woman had her food without any difficulties. She sat carefully on the bed but she still had her hands on Travis’ hand, rubbing on it sweetly. “I’d like to say something,” Granny said softly. “I never wanted to stay here. I was so scared but now that you’re here. I feel safe.” She looked at Travis as she took a spoonful of the rice. “I feel as if you’re an angel that’s been sent to me by God!” Travis couldn’t help but smile at her words. “My beautiful angel!” She added. “You know, I would like you to meet my grandson, Antonio. He’s very handsome and very nice. I am sure that he’d love to meet you too. Do you know that he just came back from abroad? He’s been staying there for a long time. Maybe… he came back because he heard that I was sick. But it’s okay….” She nodded. “…he’s a single man and I am sure that you’d love him.” Travis paused, staring at granny. ‘I don’t understand why you don’t recognize me, granny. Why do I feel like you’ve forgotten everything that has happened in the last six years?’ He thought as he tried hard to smile at the old woman. ‘You don’t even remember that I was once married to your grandson. Maybe this is for the best.’ Travis smiled as he continued feeding the old woman. They said she acted insanely and all but to him, she was just okay. He was still feeding her when she gripped his hand quickly and screamed in fear. “Get her away from me!” She screamed. “Tell her to getaway. Don’t let her come close!” Travis took a glance behind and saw a nurse with an injection. He looked at granny and smiled, holding her hands together. “Don’t worry, I am right here with you.” He assured, shaking his head. “It won’t hurt at all. I will be holding your hand and you won’t feel anything.” “B-but…” “Do you want to get better?” Granny nodded. “Then you need to get the injection, right?” Granny nodded like a kid. “Yes!” “That’s it. You won’t feel a thing. Just look at me and everything will be alright.” Granny felt comfortable and peaceful when that voice spoke to her. She was so happy and she got lost staring into that face. She didn’t even feel it when the nurse injected her. Granny felt happy. “My angel!” She chuckled. Travis smiled back and held his granny’s hands, rubbing on them sweetly. *** Antonio was feeling stressed, tired, and angry. His days had just gone from bad to worse. He had no idea what he was gonna do or how he was gonna handle his grandmother. His eyes were red and his hair was messy. He looked like someone that had not slept for days. He had no idea where to look for the boy or how to start. Antonio was with the two culprits behind him, Andrea and Bruce. They had just arrived at the same time as him. As he was nearing his granny’s room, he saw the doctor coming towards him with a smile on his face. “What did I tell you, Mr. Gonzalez?” He shook his hand happily. “Your grandmother would get better provided the right things. She’s showing lots of improvements and it’s all thanks to that special boy. He has formed a special bond with your grandmother and her condition has just miraculously improved in the last five hours.” Antonio looked at Andrea in shock, a frown appearing on his face. “She ate her food and took her medications on time without any problems. She has never been out of control in the last five hours since that boy arrived.” Antonio frowned. “Who is this boy?” “I didn’t ask his name but he’s still in the room with your grandmother.” The doctor didn’t even finish talking and Antonio was already rushing in the room with his heart racing. As soon as he entered, he found a man with his back to him. He was wearing a red shirt, black skinny jeans, and white sneakers. He had long hair too and Antonio got anxious when he couldn’t see his face so he rushed to him. “Excuse me!” The man quickly turned and Antonio smiled brightly when he saw that face. But… “Where’s the young man that was with her a few minutes ago?” The doctor asked. “I left him here.” “Oh,” The man said in a deep manly voice. “He left about a minute ago. He had something to do but he said he’d be back tomorrow.” Antonio lost the smile on his face. He glanced at his granny and she was still awake but she still had a beautiful smile on her face. “Granny, how are you feeling?” Granny chuckled happily. “I am feeling better now that my angel is with me. I will get better now that I have an angel by my side.” Her eyes were already getting better. “Granny!” Antonio sobbed and rushed to her, putting her head on the woman’s chest. “Andrea!” The old woman spoke weakly. “I will be fine, don’t worry. My angel is now with me and… I will get better.” Andrea raised her teary face and looked at her grandmother. She was emotional because after so long, her grandmother got to call her name. She was getting better. Andrea took her grandmother’s hands and kissed them. Granny’s eyes were getting heavier. “You should… meet him, Antonio. He’s very beautiful and nice. He took very good care of me. He’s very cute, my angel. I would be happy if you… made him my grandson-in-law.” “What?” Bruce gasped hoarsely, furiously dropping his hands. Man, he was so mad. “Why would you say something like that?” He snapped. “Don’t you know that…” “Bruce!” Antonio didn’t need to tell Bruce what he wanted to say. Just the tone of his voice was good enough. “Who’s that?” Granny gestured. “Who’s he?” Antonio glanced at Bruce, giving him angry eyes but smiled when he looked at granny. “He’s Andrea’s friend, granny! Don’t worry about him. Just rest and your angel will be by your side when you wake up.” Granny smiled and she didn’t even waste any time to sleep. She was just too tired. Antonio kissed her forehead before he got because he wanted to talk to the doctor. “Thank you so much, doctor!” He said, putting his hands together. He was just so emotional. “This is the first time in six years that granny seems so composed and hopeful.” He glanced at her and smiled. “I needed someone like that to take care of her and bring her back to herself again. I was losing hope but now for the first time, I feel there’s hope for my grandmother.” The doctor chuckled, patting on Antonio’s shoulder. “You don’t have to thank me. Of course, this wouldn’t have been possible without that boy.” “Yes, please speak to him on my behalf and ask him to take care of my grandmother.” He said, still wearing that smile. “I am ready to pay any amount of money just to see my grandmother healed.” “Mr. Gonzalez, I understand but he’s not a nurse and neither does he work here.” The doctor gave a gloomy sigh. “I don’t think he’ll be able to agree to do that.” “Who’s he then?” “I am sorry, but I can’t give you that information, Mr. Gonzalez.” The doctor apologized. “I doubt if he’ll be able to agree to this.” Antonio laughed. “Doctor, money is the fuel that runs the engine of life. There’s nothing in this world that can’t be done without money.” Meanwhile, Travis was standing at the door hearing whatever Antonio was saying to the doctor. His fists clenched as soon as he heard Antonio’s words. “I am sure even he cannot say no to it.” He was so confident about it. “You have to speak to him the next time he comes here. My granny cannot continue staying here. I need her back home and that’s where I want him to be taking care of her.” “But…” “Trust me, he won’t disagree.” Antonio was so sure and so confident. “I am a celebrity and as soon as he gets to know whose grandmother he’ll be taking care of, he’ll agree. But if he doesn’t, then inform me. I’ll convince him. He cannot deny me.” The doctor gave a sheepish smile. “Okay, I’ll give it a try. Excuse me!” Antonio nodded and then went back to his grandmother, ignoring his pissed off husband. He didn’t want any drama. “I’ll bring your angel back to you, granny. I promise.” He leaned down and kissed her forehead. “Can you please watch her for a few minutes?” Antonio asked his sister. “I know you’ve got a lot of work at the company but I just need to make a call.” Andrea nodded and Antonio smiled brightly and left. As soon as he got out of the room, he saw the doctor rushing towards him and he wondered why he had come back so early. “Doc…” “Mr. Gonzalez, I am sorry but the boy refused to take care of your grandmother at your house.” The doctor apologized, hoping the man was gonna understand him. Antonio lost the smile on his face. “What do you mean he refused? Didn’t you tell him that Antonio Gonzalez, the celebrity wants him to take care of his grandmother? Didn’t you tell him money is not an issue?” The doctor nodded. “I told him that money is not an issue but he said he’s just not comfortable with the arrangement. He doesn’t even care about the money nor does he want to talk about money in the future.” Antonio could feel the anger building deep inside of him. “Isn’t he now acting too high and mighty?” He said hoarsely, slipping his hands through his trouser. He wasn’t used to begging and he wasn’t gonna do it. “I think you’re misunderstanding him, Mr. Gonzalez.” Antonio laughed bitterly before his face got stern again. “I get the point here. If he agrees so soon, how can he negotiate? Give me his number and I’ll talk to him myself.” The doctor shook his head. “I am sorry but I don’t think I can do that. Besides, he didn’t give me his line. He’s the one that got my line and even if…” “Really? That’s how it’s gonna be?” Antonio’s voice rose. “After such great difficulty, we’ve finally found someone that can take care of granny, someone that she’s comfortable with and you’re telling me bullshit!” He glowered, shaking his head furiously. “My brother recommended you to me because he believes that you’re the best doctor that deals with such cases and now that we’re starting to get somewhere, I am asking for his number and you’re apologizing?” He stamped his foot hard on the floor, scaring the man a bit. “Calm down….” “Calm down?” Antonio scoffed, trying to contain his anger. “Are you kidding me right now?” He got closer to the man, getting more serious. “You said you’d find the best nurse for my grandmother at all costs. You have a chance now and you’re saying sorry? Okay, fine…” He yelled. “…if you can’t provide that boy then I am also convinced that you’re useless and you can’t heal my grandmother. I don’t need to tell you exactly what’s going to happen.” “Mr. Gonzalez, I was…” “I know, money can buy anything in this world.” He said rudely. “That boy is acting like a fool and since you cannot do anything, I am taking my grandmother back to the house.” He furiously turned and left…. Meanwhile… ‘You’re still the same person you were years ago, Antonio!’ Travis who was standing at a distance watching thought, clenching his fists. ‘You still think the world is run by money but you’re gonna know soon enough that money cannot solve anything. Sometimes it takes the heart to solve many problems. Unfortunately, you don’t have that.’ *** “Well, ladies and gentlemen, I am really happy to inform you that we were successful in producing Brandrea and all the shoes and clothes are ready,” Andrea announced. Everyone in the room started clapping including Travis who was equally happy for Andrea, literally. He couldn’t believe a week had passed since he joined Tonzalez. It had been a stressful and busy week but it was worth it. “And I’d like to also tell you that tomorrow night, we’re having a fashion show to officially launch Brandrea.” The whole room went loud with claps and cheers. Andrea was happy and she was killing it with her designer’s clothes. She glanced at Travis and saw that smile on his face. ‘You’re not gonna have a reason to smile after this, Travis.’ She thought, an evil grin forming on her face. ‘You’ll be gone sooner than you came. I promise you that. Your brand can and will never beat Brandrea. And with this loss that you’ll make, you’ll be kicked out of this company and will remain a loser. Just wait and watch.’ ‘I know exactly what you’re thinking, Andrea.’ Travis was still wearing that smile but deep down, he was really in evil mode. ‘You can do whatever you want now, but I am far smarter than you think. Whether a loss or profit comes to this company, I still have a lot to gain from that. You just have to wait for what I have planned for you. You’ll never even know what hit you.’ “Thank you so much, everyone.” Bruce got up and waved. “With this brand, I can promise you that we’re moving to another level. Brandea will bring a great revolution. And with me as the lead model, we’ll surely attract a lot of clients.” The whole board was clapping, including Antonio though he had his eyes on Travis. He knew that his brand was a flop already. There was no way he was gonna beat Andrea’s brilliant brand. He was too small for that. But Antonio’s happiness didn’t even reach its maximum as he received a call…. “What?” Antonio furiously got up. “Granny has hurt herself? Why? How?” Antonio’s voice had now attracted everyone’s attention in the room. “She fell off the staircase and…” He paused and groaned. “…alright, I am coming right now.” Antonio didn’t even waste any time. He ran from the conference room like the hounds of hell were after him. Even Andrea and Bruce ran after him. Travis remained seated there but he was so scared and nervous. He didn’t know what was happening. *** Antonio came out of the room and found his entire family there and they looked really worried. Man, even he was worried and upset. He looked messy and he had no idea how many times he had cursed since he arrived at that hospital. His granny’s condition was getting worse. “It’s okay, Antonio, granny is okay?” Eduardo assured, rubbing on his brother’s shoulder. “I checked on her as soon as I arrived here. She just has a sprained ankle.” Antonio sighed, fighting off his tears. “It’s not major this time around, Eduardo. But she could have been hurt too. You were not there. I was not there. I feel like her condition is getting worse now.” “Listen, don’t blame yourself for this.” Eduardo was trying to make his brother feel better. “I am a doctor. I should be around more. Even if it means stopping…” “No!” Antonio shook his head. “You know that won’t prevent her from doing what she did today. I don’t know what this boy has done to her. It’s only been three days since she last saw him and look at what has happened to her. I don’t know what to do man. I am just confused.” As the two brothers were talking… “Mr. Antonio…” The doctor came and he had a smile on his face. “…I was just about to call you. I have some good news for you.” Antonio got excited and anxious too. “Good news? Has granny…” “That boy, he has agreed!” Antonio felt his heart pound violently in his chest. A harsh breath escaped him as he felt tears build in his eyes. “What? Are you serious?” “Yes!” The doctor nodded. “Your grandmother came for stitches yesterday and he came to see her. He changed his mind when he saw her condition.” Antonio took a deep breath as a smile popped up his face. “Thank God!” He felt like he was able to breathe after so long. “That solves everything.” “Yeah, but…”He paused and sighed. “…he has some pre-conditions.” Antonio nodded. “I accept! I accept all of them as long as he takes care of her.” “Listen to them first,” The doctor suggested. “They are quite weird!” Antonio looked at his brother, frowning. “What do you mean? What does he want?” The doctor took a deep breath before he started. “First of all, he will work between 9 am to 2 pm at your house every day, except for Fridays when he will be working between 2 pm to 7 pm. You have to manage the rest of the time. He will also not be working on weekends except he has to.” Antonio nodded. “That’s okay.” “Secondly, he won’t speak to anyone in the house nor will he interact with your servants.” The doctor added, making both brothers frown. They looked at each other in surprise. “He won’t speak to you nor will he meet you.” Antonio’s face got blank. “He won’t meet me? As in?” “I don’t know about that.” The doctor answered. “He has set these pre-conditions and you can accept them or not. One last thing…” The doctor added. “…throughout those times, he doesn’t want any of your family members in the house. He wants to be alone or he won’t work at all.” Now everyone was anxious, wondering what was going on. Antonio was quite confused because he had expected the boy to be excited about meeting a celebrity. He didn’t even ask for money. What was going on? “He’s rather strange, right?” “Who cares?” Antonio said hoarsely. “I accept the conditions. You can tell him to start work tomorrow and we won’t even be there. We’ll all be attending Andrea’s fashion show.” “Good!” The doctor smiled, shaking Antonio’s hand. “Excuse me!” The doctor left and… “Antonio, how can you agree to such conditions?” Emma asked, feeling a little angry. “Does it matter?” Antonio asked. “All I want is to see granny get better. Granny’s caretaker will be arriving tomorrow at 4.pm and that means all of us should be out of the house by that time. All of us will be going for the fashion show.” “Ant…” “I want all of you to remember that while he’s working, no one should get in his way. You all heard his conditions and if we all want to see granny back on her feet, we’re gonna have to agree. He will get his key and when he comes, I am sure he’ll be in granny’s room. But none of us should be at the house.” Emma furiously looked away, shaking her head. She couldn’t believe some stupid pauper was making them live by his conditions. She was really mad. “Baby…” Bruce paused, trying to get his head clear. “…I think it’s strange. I mean, who asks for all this? He doesn’t want to be seen or anyone to talk to him? What if he’s a criminal? Granny will be at home alone with him. What if something bad happens or we lose things?” Antonio took a glance behind. “All I know is that I’ve managed to get granny her angel, with great difficulty. That’s all that matters to me.” He took a deep breath. “I had promised to get her angel for her and I am just fulfilling my promise.” With those words, he started going away. Hopefully, granny was gonna get better. Did the Gonzalez family know what they’d just done? What is Travis up to?
  4. Raging Love Ch. 02 The entire room was lit by wonderful decorations that made the room glitter like gold. Beautiful golden and silver decors made the entire house look gorgeous and expensive, imported flowers placed everywhere and the whole place was just amazing. There was a great party that was held at Paul Mendez’s house, a rich businessman and one of Antonio’s friends and business partners, well for more than four years. They had become great friends. The party was held inside his house, in the large hall room which looked just like a grand party hall. There was slow gorgeous music that was playing, making the mood of the people in attendance to be lit. Everyone that had attended the party was either a businessman or a celebrity. They had all come to celebrate with their fellow businessman, Paul because he had just landed a big business deal. After all, it was expected in the business world. There was food, drinks, and everything else to make people enjoy. Everyone in attendance was dressed their best, looking marvelous. But none was as dashing as Antonio Gonzalez, a renowned fierce business tycoon, and musician. People had their eyes on him because it wasn’t every day that people got to mingle with a big fish like Antonio. He was dressed in a gorgeous black tuxedo with a beautiful pink shirt inside and pitch-black shoes. His hair was gelled to perfection and his face was handsome as hell, giving the people in there wild thoughts. He was holding on to Bruce’s waist who was equally happy, smiling at the people, and warning them to keep their hands off his man. Antonio belonged to him and it was gonna be like that until eternity. Bruce was wearing a white designer’s shirt that was tucked in a sexy blue skinny jean with white snickers on his feet and a white blazer. He was looking gorgeous, especially with his hair made into many braids that showed his cute face. Being with Antonio in that room was heaven. Bruce had become a famous model and he and Antonio were called the power couple. They ruled the celebrity world and no one could beat that. Andrea too was in attendance, wearing an expensive red designer’s dress which reached her knees, expensive silver high heeled shoes, and a gold purse with all kinds of jewelry on her. Her makeup was on point and she was clinging to Ethan, whom she was glad had agreed to be with her during that party. She couldn’t wish for something else. Ethan was dressed in a black tux like Antonio’s, hair combed backward, and a smile that drove all women in that room insane. If not for the fact that Andrea gave them evil looks, they’d have surely tried their luck. After all, Ethan was one hell of a hunk. He was irresistible. And here was our man of the night, a handsome Mexican hunk with tan skin, cute round face, well-shaven beards, and a cute buzz cut that made him look drop-dead gorgeous. Women and men in that room were drooling over him and the fact that he didn’t have any date was killing them inside. He was dressed in a blood-red designer’s suit, white shirt inside, blood-red shoes and that smile on his face was the final ingredient to his sexiness. Apart from the fact that the party was great, the men in that room were delicious. “Antonio, my man!” Paul extended his hand and powerfully shook Christian’s hand and pulling him into a hug. “Glad you made it. I know this party is not as gland as those you’ve been throwing but I hope you’re enjoying yourself.” Antonio chuckled to himself, raising an eyebrow. “Are you kidding? Of course, this party is great. Besides, it’s not the party, it’s the people in attendance that make the party. This is your day so embrace it although….” He paused and just smiled brightly. “…I don’t see your date. Where’s she?” Paul laughed softly, shaking his head. “That’s because I am not interested in any of them.” He said with a sexy smile. “It’s not every day that you meet a Bruce, you know!” He gestured to Bruce who was smiling like he’d won a lottery besides his husband. Antonio chuckled, shaking his head. “How long have I known you? Three, four years? Man, you need to get hitched. You’re not growing any younger. You’re handsome…” He paused and stared at the ever-smiling man. “…you’re rich and you’re very successful. You need someone by your side, at least for tonight. There are a lot of beautiful ladies and men in here. You can’t tell me none of them has caught your eye, dude!” Paul chuckled sheepishly, slipping one of his hands in his pocket. Then he took a sigh and looked at Antonio. “Well …. I am waiting for someone special tonight.” He took a deep breath, feeling a bit nervous. “…he’s part of the reason why I threw this party.” Antonio moaned, biting his lip. “So the hunk is finally in love and how come…” “It’s not like that.” He chimed in, raising his hands like he was surrendering. “We’re not together like that. We’re just friends but…” He paused and smiled brightly, getting lost deep in his thoughts. “…he’s the most beautiful person I have ever set my eyes on. You need to see him…. He’s the perfect package and…” “Then what’s wrong with that?” Bruce interrupted, smiling brightly. “…Antonio and I were friends before we eventually got married. Friendship before love is the best thing, I tell you.” He chuckled happily, slightly resting his head on his husband’s shoulder. “You need to tell him how you feel if you love him and… if you want, I can talk to him for you.” “Not really!” Paul was as nervous as hell. “We just met a few months back in the U.S and we don’t know each other that well. I don’t need to rush things.” Antonio laughed mockingly, staring at his friend. “Are you telling me you’re afraid? I have never thought of you as a coward.” “I am not… it’s just that…” “Then go and get him.” He said, patting on his friend’s shoulder. “I’ll be rooting for you, I swear. Go and get him, tiger!” Paul scratched his head, trying to think of how to answer his friend. But before he did, his phone started ringing and he excused himself to answer it. Even as he talked on the phone, Antonio could see the happiness on his face and he couldn’t be happier for his friend. “Dude, he’s here!” Paul said happily, patting on Antonio’s shoulder. Without hearing anything that Antonio had to say, Paul rushed to the front, the stage, and got the microphone. “Ladies and gentlemen, may I have your attention, please!” He announced happily, getting the attention of everyone in that place. “Thank you so much for coming to celebrate with me on my achievement and I appreciate it a lot. But my happiness has just doubled because I have in my presence, someone that is very special, someone that has just joined the business world, and a very good and important person in my life. Ladies and gentlemen, it is my pleasure to introduce to you…” He paused and just stared at the people with a smile on his face. They were curious and anxious to hear what he had to tell them. They all stared at each other in anticipation. People started clapping, cheering at Paul. Then Paul smiled and gave the microphone to the DJ. He fixed himself up and started walking slowly to the entrance, smiling like an idiot in love. Everyone stared at him, wondering what the hell he was doing. Suddenly, just like a dream, everyone got the surprise of their lives when a really beautiful young man who looked to be in his early 20s emerged from the entrance, coming inside looking like an angel. All the men and women in that room felt their heart pound in lust as he entered, walking gracefully like he was on the runway. It was like wind suddenly blew on his face, blowing his long hair backward, revealing his angelic and cute face. It was like everything else disappeared as everyone had their eyes on him, drooling all over him. He had beautiful, long caramel brown balayage hair that looked like it was made in heaven. He was dressed in a beautiful, expensive-looking long-sleeved green see-through mesh shirt with a white vest inside which was fitted on his sexy body perfectly. It was tucked in a beautiful, designer’s black skinny trouser that showed his killer curves and black expensive shoes on his feet. He was drop-dead gorgeous and everyone in that room admired him. Suddenly, there was a loud shutter of glass but no one even paid attention. It was Antonio, his glass had just slipped from his hands. His heart gave a sharp pound as shivers ran down his spine, giving him his greatest fear and pain. His eyes widened as his body felt cold and frozen. He felt himself go limp and he gulped as a sharp vibration took him by storm, hitting him right in the heart. ‘You’re nothing to me. You and I share no bond. I am no longer your husband and you… you don’t belong to this family. Whore!’ Antonio felt tears build in his eyes as his body visibly shook. He didn’t know if it was because it was a cold night or he instantly felt weak. He was scared. But then again, there was some heat deep inside of him that was rising. Everything happened so fast though it seemed like the man was walking in slow motion, torturing his very existence. He was truly beautiful, looked classy and elegant too, his body was definitely sexy and though his hair had changed plus the way he looked, Antonio would know that face anywhere. “Praveen!” He gasped painfully, his heart missing a beat. He couldn’t stop staring and with each second that passed, Antonio’s anger rose more and more. His breaths were coming out harshly and the fire inside of him was unquenchable. He was super mad. Six years…. Six fucking years and he just suddenly appeared, Antonio thought as his hands slowly moved away from Bruce’s waist. Bruce and Andrea on the other hand both thought they’d seen a ghost… as their pasts had just come to haunt them. They were hearts pounded sharply in their chests, making them extremely scared. They stared wide-eyed, breathing as they’d just encountered the hounds of hell. It was impossible. “Hey!” Paul greeted the sexy looking boy. “Hello!” He reached the boy, kissed his cheek sweetly, and gripped him into a tight hug, feeling like he was heaven. He wanted to pull away but just paused at the ears and chuckled softly. “You look amazing tonight!” The boy chuckled seductively, biting his lips. “Oh, thank you so much. I wouldn’t have missed this for the world.” “Yeah!” Paul smiled, literally brushing his lips on the boy’s cheeks. To the people that were watching, especially Antonio, they thought the two guys were romancing and it looked cute, if not for the fact that Antonio was raging mad. His fists were clenched… his jaws shook and his eyes were already turning ready. He felt like he was put in a furnace with the heat that he felt in his body. He was so damn mad. “Let’s go!” Paul held the boy’s hand. The boy smiled brightly and held Paul’s hand seductively and both of them went to the front where Paul took the microphone again. “Ladies and gentlemen,” He paused and looked at the beautiful angel. “It is my pleasure to introduce to you, Travis Marasigan, a businessman and heir to all Marasigan empires and a new face to the business world and most especially, the guest of honor tonight.” As soon as he announced, everyone started clapping and whistling, except for Antonio, Andrea, and Bruce. They were so shocked but Antonio didn’t care. All he cared about was the anger and the pain that had suddenly resurfaced. Bruce gulped, moving away from his husband. He rushed to Andrea and both of them just stared in shock. “Travis is the son of Richard Marasigan and now his heir.” People were still clapping. Travis had been nervous at first but when he saw how the people welcomed him like he was one of them, he got happy and that smile on his face was super sexy. He was looking at the faces of all the people when suddenly, he saw him, Antonio Gonzalez, staring right at him with nothing but anger in his eyes. When Travis saw him, he got shocked and felt his heart begin to race. He got nervous but he knew he had to act cool so he just focused on the happy faces and smiled brightly, waving at the people that seemed happy to see him. “Come on,” Paul coiled his arm with Travis’. “Let me introduce you to some of the people, especially my friends.” Travis nodded, smiling even brighter. “Sure!” Travis followed Paul and he started introducing him to some businessmen that seemed too happy to meet him. Travis couldn’t have been happier because he felt like a part of them. They were all telling him how great his father was and how happy they were to meet him and also how they couldn’t wait to see how good of a businessman he was. Travis was super happy and he was introduced to a lot of men and women. Some of them, well, most of them commented on his beauty and he was happy about it. But Travis’ smile wasn’t genuine. He was so nervous and he wanted to fix himself up. He excused himself and got directions to the restroom. He just needed to get out of that room for a few seconds. Travis was busy rushing to the restroom when suddenly, he felt someone pull his arm furiously and before he knew it, he was close to a body. He quickly raised his face only to meet with the angry eyes of Antonio, breathing like a wounded buffalo. Travis felt his body vibrate and he gulped, his face getting stern. He didn’t need to be a genius to know that the man was still pretty much angry. “Why are you here?” Antonio roared, tightening his grip on that arm that he was dying to break. “Tell me why the fuck you came back.” But all Travis did was release his arm and without answering the question continued heading to the restroom. But he barely took two steps when Antonio furiously pulled his arm again and brought him closer. It hurt and Travis couldn’t hide that frown on his face. “Please, let me go.” He said in a soft voice, not even bothering to look up. “You’re hurting my arm.” But all Antonio did was just apply pressure on that arm. “I hate you so much. I hate your very existence and your very being.” “Get off me!” Travis furiously released his arm and turned to face the angry-looking man. “I don’t know who you are and I don’t care to know. Leave me alone!” Antonio laughed. He laughed when he heard Praveen’s words. He was so mad but Praveen’s words made him laugh. “Are you kidding me?” He asked and then his face became stern. “So what, you’re now Travis or whatever he was calling you?” Travis sighed gloomily, shaking his head angrily. He had no idea where his anger was coming from. He just wanted to get out of there because… “Look, whatever…” “Please, don’t create a scene,” Travis said softly, his voice sounding harsh and cold. “I don’t want any drama. I don’t know who you are and…” “Really?” Antonio was now mad. “Why did you return, huh?” He snapped. “Why the fuck are you back?” He was getting dangerously closer to the beautiful boy, his breaths increasing each second. “Why the fuck didn’t you just die where you went?” Travis was taking a few steps back, wondering why he got so irritated and scared. He wanted to move but the guy had blocked him. There was so much inside of him and it was dying to come out. But it wasn’t compared to the pain he felt surrounding him. Just being in Antonio’s presence made him fume a bit. “What do you think?” Antonio glowered, clenching his fist. “Changing your name, your identity and your way of life is gonna change anything?” He chuckled bitterly, staring into the beautiful eyes of the boy. “Well, it doesn’t because it can’t change anything that happened in the past. You turned me into a predator and…” “Please!” Travis gasped, slightly closing his eyes. “Stop this nonsense and…” “Or what?” He smiled evilly, bringing his fist forward. “I won’t do that. No matter what you tell me or how much you change, it won’t change the fact that you’re a cheater, a betrayer, and a whore.” That was it. Antonio didn’t know what happened suddenly. First, he was staring at the boy and the next thing he felt was a sharp pain across his cheek that made him feel like his skin had been ripped. Pain slipped through him so much that his anger instantly rose and he furiously looked at the boy. What he saw when their eyes met was nothing but anger, the anger that he had never seen in Praveen’s eyes before. He was shocked and extremely mad. His jaws shook and his fists shook as well, the fire inside of him burning him to the core. He raised his hand furiously. “How dare…” But he didn’t even finish his sentence as the beautiful boy caught his hand and powerfully gripped it, now breathing like a predator. “Don’t you dare?” He warned. “I have always been nice and I have tried to avoid your stupid words but it seems it’s not working. Like I said…” He paused and furiously threw the man’s hand away. “…leave me alone. You’ve got me mistaken for someone else and listen…” He pointed angrily. “…I am a very good person but don’t take my meekness for weakness because you might just be disappointed and pay ultimately for it. If I were you, I’d be very careful. I am not intimidated easily so mind your words.” He shook his head angrily and made a quick turn, leaving the handsome hunk standing there in shock and looking like he had just seen a ghost. What had just happened, he thought as he tried to come to terms with what had been done to him? He touched his cheek and it hurt like hell. Did Praveen just slap him, he thought as his eyes scanned the direction where the boy had gone? His anger simply rose when he saw him with Paul, smiling and laughing as nothing had happened. “Bitch!” He snarled, groaning angrily. “Hey,” Paul whispered, smiling at Travis. “You took longer!” Travis chuckled happily, glancing in the direction of Antonio, the man that looked like he was about to burst from anger. He looked mad and something about that made Travis happy inside. He had given the guy a piece of his mind. “I just had an encounter with someone.” He said sweetly. “But don’t worry. I can handle it.” “Okay.” Paul sighed happily. “Come on, I gotta introduce you to a very good friend of mine.” He nodded. “Sure!” The both of them walked arm in arm happily, talking like long lost friends. They reached where Antonio was standing, looking mad as hell with a glass of champagne in his hand. He had a firm grip on that glass to the point where it was almost breaking. “Hey!” Paul patted on his friend’s shoulder. “Buddy!” “Huh?” Antonio quickly turned and found another shock. “What?” It was Paul and he was with Travis or whatever he called himself. When Antonio’s eyes landed on Praveen, he felt something inside of him turn and he felt like just punching his face. Everything that had happened that night, exactly six years ago came back and began haunting him, causing him pain. “Err… I know I introduce him to everyone but I would like to personally introduce him to you.” Paul chuckled happily. “His name is Travis Marasigan, son of late Richard Marasigan and heir to all the billionaire empires of Marasigan and a very good friend of mine.” Antonio felt all the anger building inside of him and he groaned. He didn’t wanna create a scene in front of his friend. He didn’t wanna ruin his party. “And Travis…” He paused and looked at the boy. “…I am sure you know him, Antonio Gonzalez, the famous musician?” Travis looked at the angry looking and frowned, shaking his head. “Well, actually, I have heard of him but haven’t known who he is. It is nice to finally meet you, Antonio Gonzalez.” He extended his hand, smiling brightly. Antonio looked at the hand and then he didn’t know what happened. His hand slowly moved and he held Travis’ hand. When their hands touched, Antonio felt his heart pound sharply and his body vibrate, something that he couldn’t control. But suddenly, just like a flash, he started having flashbacks of what had happened in the past. He quickly withdrew his hand and nodded, his face still stern. He couldn’t stay there because he knew he was gonna make a mistake if he stayed there longer. “I… I am sorry but I gotta go.” He was already walking away before he finished saying that. Paul looked at his friend and he wondered what was wrong with him. He wanted to talk to Travis but something disturbed the two of them, Travis’ phone. He had to excuse himself to go and answer the call. *** “Where the fuck is the driver?” Antonio snapped, glancing angrily at his watch. “Did you call him to come to the entrance?” Andrea sighed, staring at her brother. She had never seen him so mad. “Calm down! He’s coming. I just called him like two seconds ago.” “Fuck!” Antonio gripped his hair, feeling all the anger inside of him blinding him. Andrea knew better than to talk to her brother. His hatred for Praveen had gotten out of hand now that he had seen him again. He glanced at Bruce and saw him standing a distance away from his husband with his arms crossed, lost deep in thought. He knew what was on his mind. Both of them were surprised. Antonio felt like he had been waiting forever. He furiously groaned, made a quick turn, and just froze. He saw Praveen rushing down the staircase, looking sexy while talking on the phone. He seemed to be in a hurry and… “I am coming right now…” Travis said abruptly, adding to his pace. “…I didn’t mean to take this long. I am coming, my love.” He cut the call just as he climbed down the staircase but got the surprise of his life when he raised his face and saw Antonio and his gang standing right in front staring at him like they wanted to kill him. Seeing them, Travis stopped in his tracks, wearing a stern face. When his eyes landed on Bruce, he felt like a bolt of electricity had just jolted into his system. But he had better things to do so with one angry look at the trio, he started going his way but…. he got the surprise of his life when Andrea stretched her hand and blocked him. He stopped and just stood still, feeling anger getting the best of him. “Wow!” Andrea chuckled, moving in front of him. “Just look at him, all polished up and looking like a businessman. So, whom did you seduce to get all that…” She gestured, giving an evil grin. “…wealth? Oh, pardon me!” She gasped in mock astonishment. “They must all be from your lover, Santiago, right?” She laughed then got serious. “You have no shame at all. You might be living a luxurious life with that cheater but that doesn’t mean that you’re in the same class as us. What did you think?” She yelled. “That by coming here, you’d get to achieve anything or that you’d get to seduce my brother over and over again?” Travis smiled brightly, staring at Andrea like she was saying something important. “News flash!” She snapped her fingers in his face. “He’s happily married to Bruce and our family is happy as well. No matter what you do or what you wear, you’ll always be the same old dirty boy from six years ago. That will never change no matter what kinda designer perfumes you use. A pig will always be a pig, Praveen! Who do you think you are badging into this party like a whore!” Travis chuckled, folding his arms on his chest. “If you’re done with your ranting, I have better things to do.” He said with a mocking smile. “And by the way…” He glanced at Antonio who looked dumbstruck and got serious. “…Who is this Praveen that you speak of? I have no idea what you’re talking about. And secondly, I have no interest in you or your brother so… next time, you should choose who you talk to because not every quiet person is quite the angel you perceive them to be.” He got closer and pointed at Andrea, breathing like he was in a fight. “Do not take my meekness for weakness because I do not take just an idiot talking to me lightly.” “What?” Andrea gasped, her mouth shaking. “How dare…” She tried to raise her hand at Travis but got the shock of her life when he caught her hand and gripped it painfully. Then she saw something that scared her, anger and rage, something she’d never seen in Praveen before. “The next time you try to talk to me like that, I will not take it lightly.” He warned, furiously letting go of her hand. Before Andrea even had the time to say something, she felt a sharp pain on her cheek. She held her cheek and gasped in pain, raising her eyes at Praveen. She was surprised. He had slapped her so hard that she felt like her skin was peeling. What she felt rising deep inside of her was intense, anger, rage, and pain. Tears formed in her eyes and she clenched her fists, breathing like an evil queen. “How dare you?” Andrea raised her hand furiously to slap him but got another shock when he caught her hand and squeezed it painfully. She groaned in a pain, a tear going down her cheek. Antonio was shocked and Bruce was surprised and scared. The slap Andrea had got sure left a red mark there and Bruce covered his mouth, surprised at what he saw. He couldn’t believe it. “I dare you to try anything stupid!” He fumed, getting closer to her. “I dare you to raise your hand at me again. You think just because you’re rich and your… brother is famous that you can step on anyone?” His face was purely evil and that look on Andrea’s face was priceless. “I might look younger than you but listen to me and listen good!” He warned, ignoring Andrea’s painful groans. “Travis Marasigan doesn’t take any nonsense from anyone, not even people that are richer and powerful than him. Since I came to this party, you and your stupid brother have been trying to intimidate me but I am not who you think I am.” At least not anymore. “And the next time you try such stunts with me, always remember this!” Just like a flash, Travis furiously raised his hand and backhanded Andrea so hard on the other cheek that she screamed in pain but he still didn’t let go of her hand. He pulled her painfully and breathed in harshly, enjoying the terror in her eyes. She was scared, scared and tears were coming down her cheeks. Everyone else just watched in shock, surprised at what they saw. Even though Antonio was mad, he was in awe. “As for the whore you just called me…” He chuckled bitterly, applying more pressure on that hand. Andrea cried out in pain, breathing heavily. “…you don’t know me so don’t you ever in your life say that to me again. I know women like you. I have had so many encounters with them but I know how to put them in their places.” Andrea tried to move her hand but she was so much in pain. But she was angry too. She couldn’t let him embarrass her like that. “What are you talking about? Get your hand off me, whore!” But Travis just stared at her with a stern face and what followed was a series of slaps that felt like fire on Andrea’s face. She tried to take a step back but since she was wearing high heels, she tripped and fell flat on her ass, holding her bruised cheeks while staring up at Praveen, breathing like she was in labor. She cried softly, trying to get up but she felt weak. Antonio stared at his sister and got angry, clenching his fists hard. Then he raised his head and saw Travis slowly walking to him, his eyes becoming glassy. Travis got flashbacks of the moment when the idiot had taken his virginity, the memories that had now become painful. He tried to fight his tears but he had no idea why he felt such weakness. “And as for you…” He raised his shaky finger, pointing at Antonio. “…just because you think you’re all mighty and powerful doesn’t mean shit to me. Don’t you ever do what you did in there because sometimes, I turn into a monster?” He angrily glanced at Bruce and started walking away. Just as he was leaving, he almost bumped into Ethan who was coming from the entrance. Both of them just stared at each other but Travis didn’t wanna look for long. He just continued in his way and before he even exited, a beautiful red 2020 Lamborghini Urus packed at the entrance, and a guard quickly opened the door. Travis took a glance at the people that were staring right back at him and he entered the car and drove off. Ethan was shocked at seeing the boy. He looked different, but even more beautiful. He might have changed his hair color but he didn’t change that much. When he reached Antonio, he got the shock of his life when he saw Bruce helping Andrea up who looked like she had just been in a fight. “What’s going on?” He gasped, looking at the faces. “What happened?” But Antonio didn’t say anything. He just stormed out of there, walking like the hounds of hell were after him. Ethan looked at Bruce and Andrea but before he could say anything, they too angrily left from there. “What’s going?” He groaned, following behind. *** The car parked right at the entrance of the big mansion and Travis was already rushing inside the house, his heart racing. He had no idea why he felt uneasy and scared at the same time. When he reached the living room, he was welcomed by a heartbreaking scene that made him tear up. His aunt was holding his son tightly, moving from side to side, and trying to soothe him. But the little boy was crying at the top of his voice. He was heartbroken because his son was his life and he loved him so much. “Aunt!” Travis gasped, rushing to where she stood, rubbing on the little boy’s back. Hearing the voice Vanessa had been waiting to hear from since that afternoon, she quickly turned and saw him rushing towards her, looking magnificent, beautiful, and classy. “Oh, my baby…” Travis moaned, getting his son from Vanessa’s arms. When he looked at his face, he got even more heartbroken. His little son’s eyes were red and a bit swollen. Shit, he couldn’t fight his tears. His eyes became glassy as he rubbed his son’s tears. He made him stand on the glass table while he leaned and slowly rubbed his tears, kissing his cheeks. His little son was just so beautiful, the very boy that had given him another reason to live. Sean Richard Marasigan was a handsome five-year-old boy, too handsome maybe. He had beautiful dark, silky hair that was shaven on the sides and kept a bit long in the middle. His perfect skin tone looked tanned, well he was of mixed race but cute. He had beautiful green eyes like Antonio, yeah, the bastard won. But his features reminded Travis more of him when he was young and he was happier that way. Sean was a beautiful boy. “My love!” Travis held him in his arms and felt at peace when his sobs subsided. “I am so sorry, I didn’t mean to leave you.” He stared at his beautiful aunt who was smiling at the scene before her. “How long has he been crying?” “A few hours maybe!” She sighed, sitting on the chair. “That grandson of mine is stubborn. I tried all I could to soothe him but he wouldn’t stop crying. He just wanted you. I had been calling for long but you weren’t picking up. Where did you go, Travis?” Travis got up with his son in his arms, staring at his aunt. “I went to a friend’s party, aunt.” He sighed, remembering what exactly had happened. “But I think I shouldn’t have. My son…” He paused and rubbed his son’s head. He felt him moan softly and he knew that his little angel had slept. “…I made a mistake.” “What?” Vanessa got up, a frown appearing on her face. “Did anything happen there?” Travis felt his heart race a bit. “Yes!” He nodded. “He was there, aunt! I saw him there. He’s friends with Paul Mendez and I had no idea.” Vanessa felt a bit scared. “Antonio Gonzalez…” She paused and took a deep breath. “…Sean’s father?” Though it hurt when he thought about it, he slowly nodded. “Yes!” Vanessa rushed to him and rubbed his arms, trying to make him calm. “My son, I hope he didn’t do anything to hurt you.” Travis sighed, slightly closing his eyes. “Somehow, his hatred for me seems to have grown.” He said, chuckling bitterly. “He tried to hurt me but… I slapped him. I told him I am not who he thinks I am.” He sighed, feeling pain and anger rising deep inside. “I couldn’t allow him to hurt me again, not anymore aunt. I went through a lot in the hands of that man and… it ended my previous life.” Vanessa smiled brightly. “I am glad you’re stronger now. Nothing can hurt you again, my son.” Travis smiled softly, remembering what had happened. “Honestly, I had no plans of meeting them today. But I am glad I did because they’ll never forget what I did today.” Vanessa raised her eyebrow, smiling at Travis. “What did you do?” An evil grin appeared on Travis’ face. “Andrea tried to intimidate me, insult me but with what I did today, she’ll think twice before she crosses my path again.” He chuckled when Vanessa frowned and he knew the woman was dying to hear it. “I gave her several slaps right in front of her gang. I will never allow that family to hurt me again, aunt.” He frowned, his face becoming stern. “I will never allow them to cause me the pain that I went through in their hands, not ever again.” He passed his fingers through his sleeping son’s hair and kissed his head sweetly. “But most especially…” He clenched his teeth, breathing heavily. “…I will never allow them to find about Sean, aunt. Never!” Vanessa smiled sheepishly, nodding her. “That’ll never happen. Sean is ours and no one will ever take him away from us.” “That won’t happen.” He vowed, shaking his head. “Never! Antonio got me pregnant and then abandoned me.” “You’re back now. What are you gonna do?” “My plans are still intact, aunt!” He chuckled sinisterly. “Antonio never loved me so much as to stand by me. I know very well that he, together with Bruce, Andrea and Emma hated me a lot in that house. I also know that what had happened six years ago was planned by someone in that house and this ruined a lot of lives.” He said harshly, clenching his fist. “I shall bring the truth to light but I am gonna make them regret messing with me.” He vowed, fighting his tears. “I don’t care about what relationship I had with Antonio or what bonds us. All that love I had for him has been neutralized. What I feel for that family is hatred and I shall make them pay for what had happened to me. Praveen died six years ago. Only Travis is alive.” Vanessa felt terrible because she knew exactly what had happened to him and how he had suffered through it all. She understood him completely. “You’re right.” She smiled, caressing his cheek. “Why don’t you come and have something to eat?” Travis smiled. “I had something at the party.” He lied, smiling brightly. “I will just take Sean to bed. I will see you tomorrow.” He kissed her cheek sweetly. “Yeah…” She hugged him tightly. “Goodnight! And oh, you’ve got to meet with the board tomorrow, okay?” “Sure!” He nodded. “I know, aunt.” “Okay, and I was thinking of getting Sean enrolled in school tomorrow.” “That’s okay.” He smiled brightly. “I’ll see you tomorrow.” Vanessa smiled and then watched as Travis and her grandson went upstairs. She shook her head, sighed excitedly, and took a magazine from the table and started going through it. She was happy that Travis was back home with Sean. *** The entire family except for the three that had gone to the party were seated in the living room, talking and laughing, well everybody except for Emilia who was feeling uncomfortable. Whenever she said something, she got angry looks from Emma. She was just happy that Eduardo, Ryan, Celine, and Steph were there. But she still didn’t feel comfortable. “Excuse me!” Emilia got up from the couch. “I need to go and check up on mother!” Emilia got up and started rushing towards the staircase when all of a sudden, the door to the entrance furiously opened, making a noise that scared the shit out of everyone. Everyone got up to the shock of Antonio who was storming in with his fists clenched, breathing heavily. But they weren’t as shocked as when Andrea rushed inside, her face with red marks and she too was mad. She was with Jack and both their moods were not right. “Guys!” Celine quickly rushed to them. The shock on her face couldn’t be masked. “Why do you look like that? Andrea, what’s going on?” But none of them said anything. Antonio rather just groaned as the images of what had happened at the party started forming in his mind. He had no idea what sort of anger had taken over him that night. He simply saw red and his body shook uncontrollably. “Andrea?” Emilia was scared when she saw her daughter. She quickly rushed to her and then held her hands, feeling tears begin to form. “What happened, honey? Why do you look…” “Oh please, mom!” Andrea snapped, furiously releasing her hands from her. “What do you care if I live or die?” “What?” Emilia gasped, shaking her head. “Why would you say something like that to me? I am your mother and…” “You never filled that spot years ago and you’ll never fill it now.” She yelled, breathing heavily while raising her shaky finger. “You should be happy because your favorite son is back.” She yelled, her voice echoing throughout the room. “That bitch is back and…” “What?” Emilia’s heart pounded in her chest. “What do you mean by that? Which son are you…” “Oh stop pretending!” Antonio’s animalistic voice filled the entire room. “Stop pretending not to know and stop pretending to care. You’re the cause of all this and now all of us are suffering because of it. You must be pretty happy.” A tear went down Emilia’s cheeks. “Why would I be happy when I see you suffering because of my mistakes six years ago?” She sobbed, slightly closing her eyes. “Why would I choose to make my family sad, the family that I…” “That you destroyed with your own hands?” Antonio chimed in, chuckling bitterly. “Well, you don’t have to be sad anymore because your son is back, that bitch is back.” He stamped his foot on the floor, yelling in his mother’s face. He didn’t even care about her pain. Antonio’s words rang in Emilia’s head, raging like a storm. More tears left her eyes as she remained dumbstruck, her eye-widening. “He’s back and you and he can now stay together if you want.” He yelled, breathing like a storm was rising deep within him. “But I…” He pointed at himself, chuckling bitterly. “I will make him pay for what he did to me and my family, mark my words. For that slap he gave me at the party, I’ll make him pay.” He vowed, clenching his fists. “And for those slaps he gave Andrea, he’ll pay for that too. Nobody lays hands on my sister and gets away with it. He thinks by changing his name and identity, he can change everything? Well, he’s dead wrong. He’s made an eternal enemy and I’ll make sure that he pays for it.” With a final look at his weeping mother, he stormed out of the living room and left his mother there, sobbing with her hands on her mouth while everyone waited. “My poor child!” Emma rushed to Andrea and hugged her tightly. “My poor, poor child. So sorry.” Andrea hugged her tightly, looking at her mother like an outcast beyond that shoulder. Emilia couldn’t take it. She covered her mouth and ran away from there, crying softly. Her wounds had once again been reopened and she couldn’t take it. She reached the room, locked the door, and then leaned on it, slowly falling to her knees while she cried and did her best to cover her mouth and prevent any more cries. But that didn’t help matters but muffled cries could be heard. “Harvey, I made a mistake…” She cried softly, holding her chest. “…I don’t know exactly what to do. Our son and daughter hate me a lot. They consider me to be the enemy of family and I don’t know if I can take this pain anymore. I don’t know what to do.” She closed her eyes, breathing like she was in labor. “I wish you were honey, my love. I wish you were here to comfort me and wipe my tears. Praveen has made me suffer greatly. We made a big mistake by arranging that marriage.” She just cried softly and felt as a headache slowly set in. “That boy has made me suffer, my love. I don’t think I can take the pain anymore. It’s too much.” Emilia lay on the floor crying until she drifted off to sleep. *** Bruce quickly opened the door and he let himself inside, finding Andrea holding a mirror while touching her face. She just had tiny red marks on her cheeks but it was nothing that makeup couldn’t hide. Bruce breathed and then entered, locking the door behind him. He was nervous as hell and he kept on rubbing his hands. When Andrea saw him, she just stared at him and continued staring at herself in the mirror. She was mad and that anger inside her just couldn’t be quenched. She was mad as hell. “That bitch!” Andrea snapped, furiously throwing the mirror on the floor. It broke to bits. “He’s gonna pay for what he did to me today.” She vowed, chuckling bitterly while she clenched her fists. “I am gonna make him pay for all the pain and humiliation.” Bruce gulped, shaking his head. “What happened, Andrea?” Bruce gasped, rubbing his hands. “I don’t know what I saw back there. He might look like Praveen but he’s changed and…. for a second there, I felt scared when I saw him. Do you…” “What I think right now doesn’t matter.” Andrea groaned, furiously sitting on the bed. “I don’t care what he thinks he is, whether he’s Praveen or not. What I know is that he’s pulled on the tail of a tigress and he’s gonna pay. How’s Antonio?” She asked, staring at Bruce with concern in her voice. “Thankfully, he’s fine!” Bruce said softly, rubbing through his hair. “I left him asleep but he’s still pretty mad. That boy slapped him at the party and…” “Good!” Andrea got up from the bed and cat walked in her nightgown to the window. She reached there and wrapped her arms around herself, staring out the window. “Right now, we cannot afford Antonio becoming soft or awakening what has been buried. Travis’ sudden appearance has gotten me worried.” She sighed, turning to look at her friend. “I can’t deny the fact that this boy is different from Praveen in the way he acts, talks, and carries himself. He’s also stronger because…” She didn’t wanna say it. “…we need to be careful. We don’t know where he’s been and why he’s back.” Bruce nodded. “I thought so too. But one thing I can tell you is that I won’t allow him to get closer to Antonio. I’ll do anything I possibly can to keep him away from my husband. Antonio must not find out the truth about six years ago.” He shook his head, his voice cutting. “He…” “He won’t find out!” Andrea quickly held his hands and looked straight in his eyes. “That boy is too weak for us. You and I defeated him before and we won’t allow him to find out the truth or bring it to light. We’ve kept this for so long and it won’t come out. Promise you’ll stand with me on this.” Bruce smiled, shaking his head. “He just got lucky!” He chuckled manically. “That won’t happen anymore. We’re gonna put him back in his place and he won’t even want to show his face to the world again.” The two looked at each other evilly and gave evil grins. It was so on! But did they know what exactly they were dealing with? *** Travis suddenly woke up, feeling sweaty and hot. He had no idea why he had such a dream after a long time. He opened his eyes, taking a deep breath. He took a glass of water from the table and before it even left his lips, it was empty. He sighed, rubbing through his hair but before he even finished, his eyes caught the wonderful sight in front of him, his sleeping son. He looked cute, snoring softly and he looked as if he was smiling. Travis had never seen a kid as cute as his son, a perfect image to behold. He thanked the almighty for giving him such a gift even when he knew he didn’t deserve it. He leaned down and kissed his son softly on the cheek, smiling like he was going insane. “You’re my happiness, the reason for my existence, my son, a miracle child.” He said. His smile kept on getting bigger and bigger. “No matter what happened in my past, I have never regretted having you. You might be his seed but I don’t love you any less. I love you so much. Please, forgive me if daddy doesn’t always remain by your side. I almost lost you in the past but I’ll never lose you. I promise.” * 6 YEARS AGO * “My son,” Richard said softly, holding his son’s hands sweetly. He was emotional and his tears were just at the surface. “Please, you don’t have to stay like this. You need to eat, be strong for your child. Please, don’t punish that baby for what it doesn’t know, please!” Praveen stared at his father and tears started flowing. He had no why the pain just wouldn’t go away. He wanted to talk to the man, hug him but he couldn’t do anything. Richard had explained the entire story to him and the DNA test had proved that he was truly his son. He understood everything, including the fact that his late father, the man he loved a lot had married his mother so that Praveen wouldn’t be called a bastard. He had tried to call Richard ‘dad’ but had failed. The man was powerful and had taken every scandal involving him out of the media. It had all died down. But that didn’t stop his pain. It grew stronger and stronger every day. “Please,” Richard put his hands together, a tear following. “For the sake of the baby.” Praveen sobbed, slowly moving his hands to his baby bump. He was now 4 months pregnant and the bump had also grown. But so did his pain. “What is food, if it’s tasteless?” He sobbed uncontrollably, leaning his head on the pillow. “My child will understand. Besides, what am I living for? I have lost everything that I had.” He cried softly. “I have lost my husband, my family, my dignity, and my pride. The man that I loved is busy enjoying himself with his lover and…” He paused and stared at Richard in pain. “You shouldn’t have saved me. You should have just let me die instead of this pain.” Richard shook his head. “You still have me and Santiago is there for you. Stop saying…” “Just leave me alone!” He said hoarsely, rudely moving his hand away from Richard’s. “Go away!” Richard was hurt but he simply nodded and left. Praveen just sat there on the bed, crying himself to death. He felt hopeless and just wished for death but the child inside him deserved to live. There was no way he was gonna kill an innocent child because of its parents’ mistakes. Praveen stayed like that for hours. It was in the evening when he decided to go and pee when just as soon as he got off the bed, he felt a terrible pain in his abdomen and his lower. It was painful but he decided to just ignore it. He took a few steps and was almost near the bathroom when he got the horror of his life. It happened so fast that he didn’t even know how it started or what happened. He felt something like water dripping down his leg and it got him scared. He thought maybe he’d peed himself but he quickly shifted his eyes and got the shock of his life. Praveen’s breaths became harsh as his body trembled in fear… his hands shook as he touched his thighs and his heart gave a sharp pound in his chest. He felt like he was about to pass out and the pain that he experienced together with the shock was unbearable. “No!” Praveen screamed at the top of his voice. “Santiago, my baby…” He cried at the top of his voice, staring at his blood-stained white pajama. “No!” He cried, touching his thigh. His horror became worse when he saw blood on his hands. “Daddy!” He screamed, falling to his knees. “My baby… daddy!” That was the first time he called Richard, ‘daddy.’ Richard came rushing in the room together with Santiago and both of them were in shock when they saw him bleeding. Santiago’s eyes became glassy as he rushed to the weeping boy, holding him tightly and carefully. “Oh my God,” Santiago sniveled. He’d never been so scared in his life. “It hurts,” Praveen cried, holding his bump. “Santiago, daddy…” He stared at his emotional father. “…save my baby, I beg you. Save my child!” Santiago breathed heavily, a tear going down his cheeks. “We need to take him to a doctor!” Richard nodded, holding his son’s hand tightly. “You and my grandchild will be fine!” Praveen wanted to smile but the pain and fear he experienced were just too much. “Please, save my baby…” Those were the last he spoke before he passed out from pain and shock. The next thing he remembered was waking up in the hospital with Santiago holding his hand tightly with tears in his eyes. “Why are you so stubborn?” Santiago’s voice rose. “Why do you have trouble listening?” Praveen felt his heart race painfully and he knew what had happened. “No!” He moaned, shaking his head. “My baby…” He moved his hand to his tummy but got relieved when he still felt the bump. “Fortunately, we brought you here in time otherwise…” Santiago paused and hissed, shaking his head. “….we don’t know what would have happened to you or that baby. The doctor said it was a threatened miscarriage.” Praveen sobbed softly, feeling some form of joy. “Thank the almighty, I promise I won’t ever do this again. I won’t put the life of my baby at risk. I promise.” Santiago smiled softly. “That’s the right thing to do. No matter what kind of bastard his father is, he still needs to live. Don’t ever scare us like that again!” Praveen nodded. Since that day. He took care of himself and made sure that his baby was healthy. *** Present-day * Travis opened his eyes and breathed, slowly lying closer to his son. He carefully took his little body and spooned him, kissing his head sweetly. He had no idea where the peace that he felt came from but he was happy. “Never again, my son…” He whispered as he breathed in his son’s scent. “It’s just you and me forever. Very soon, I’ll accomplish my plans and we’ll go away forever, baby. You, Aunt Vanessa, and I. We’re gonna be one happy family.” He closed his eyes and it didn’t take long before he slept. *** Antonio was seated comfortably on the chair, his hand on his chin and his eyes in front, staring at the man that was standing in front, the chief operating officer of the company. Antonio was dressed in a red designer’s suit, killing it as usual with a blue shirt inside. He was serious as usual and he didn’t want anything to ruin his mood. He was in the conference room together with his board members, the furious five as he called them because he had managed the company with them so well. Some were his business partners, well only Paul, while others were just part of his company. Tonzalez blue was a big company in the country and it was the only company that Antonio owned which other people had shares in, well, he owned 55% of the total shares so he was still the boss. “Well, gentlemen, as you know…” The chief operating officer, a tall man in his late forties spoke, staring at the men seated there. “…Mr. Sylvester has been gone for a few months now and he was one of the larger shareholders at this company. You also know that before he relocated to the U.S, he sold his shares and we’ve all been waiting to meet our new business partner. But, today, I just received a call that he’ll be coming here. He’s on his way up here as we speak.” Everyone started clapping, including Antonio even though he wasn’t smiling. “So gentlemen, I would like us to welcome our new business partner, Mr. Travis Marasigan.” The moment the man said that name, Antonio felt a shiver go down his spine and he felt cold all of a sudden. His heart gave a sharp pound as he froze where he stood, that name ringing in his head like a bell. He didn’t know if it was a trick or maybe he heard right but he was scared, mad, and raging where he stood. He clenched his fits when the conference entrance door opened suddenly and a seductively smiling Travis entered. Shit! He was looking sexy in a sky blue, shiny designer’s suit with a green shirt inside, blue shoes, and his hair was tied in a sexy ponytail, revealing his beautiful face. The suit had fit him like a second skin, revealing his sexy, seductive body. He was to die for. At first, everyone was clapping except for Antonio but as he neared, everyone stopped clapping and started staring at him as a ghost had just entered the conference room. Only Paul was smiling like an idiot, admiring the young man as he moved to the front. Travis on the other hand moved to the front with a gorgeous smile, staring at every face in there. They all looked lost, like they had seen a ghost or something. Seeing them, Travis smiled sheepishly. Even the man that had called his name looked lost and shocked. Travis took a glance at Antonio and when their eyes met, he saw a fire in Antonio’s eyes. But an evil grin appeared on Travis’ face. “Well, thank you so much…” Travis spoke, chuckling softly. “...it is an honor to finally meet my new business partners. I look forward to working with you and taking this company to greater heights. Thank you so much, all of you.” But the men just stared, even more, making Travis a bit uncomfortable. The chief operating officer decided to end the awkward moment by chuckling nervously, shaking the young man’s hand. “Welcome, Mr. Marasigan. Please, forgive us for our reaction. It’s just that you remind all of us of someone that we knew six years ago.” Travis raised his eyebrow. “Who?” The chief operating officer gulped. “Praveen!” Travis dropped his neck, rubbing on his temple softly. “Oh ?” He chuckled softly, taking a deep breath. “Anyway, I just returned yesterday and came to just see all of you. I have to run now. I have another important meeting and I am running a bit late. But I have an important presentation that I need to show all of you. I will do that tomorrow and we’ll get to know each other from there. Thanks.” With those words and without even staring at Antonio twice, Travis left the conference room. His heart was racing and he felt like he was running out of air. He still had to see the board members at his company and they were waiting for him. “Travis!” He heard someone call him. Travis quickly turned and found Paul rushing towards him with a smile on his face. “Oh my God.” Paul gasped, still wearing that smile. “I can’t believe you…” He didn’t even know what to say. “Why didn’t you say anything? I never thought that you…” “Calm down!” Travis chuckled, holding Paul’s hand. “What are you saying? How would I have known that you’re also a business partner of Tonzalez blue? I had no idea. I am sorry, I’d have told you but I didn’t think it was necessary. But now you know and… I bet we’ll have a great time working together.” Paul was still confused. “Wow!” He gasped, staring at the beautiful boy. “I am so happy right now. I get to work with you and… we’ll get to know each other more.” Travis chuckled nervously. “Sure! Anyway…” He glanced at his watch. “I have to go now. I have an important meeting at my company. I’ll see you!” He leaned forward and gave Paul a quick hug and left. Paul remained standing there, looking lost and happy. It was only after a few seconds when he realized he was smiling like an idiot when he decided to leave. Travis rushed to the elevator and pressed the button. It took a few minutes before the elevator opened and he quickly rushed in. The elevator was almost closing when all of a sudden, a hand stopped it and in came a man, the man that gave Travis chills. It was Antonio. Antonio was looking mad… his eyes looked red… his fits were clenched and his body trembled. Travis felt himself go angry all of a sudden and he wanted to go out but the elevator closed and started moving. He was on the 22nd floor and he knew he had a lot of time with the idiot in there. “How dare you?” Antonio roared. “Whom do you think you are? What did I just hear in there? You bought shares in my company?” Travis stared at the man with a stern face without even moving or feeling intimidated by him. He rather just remained quiet and decided to ignore him. “What do you think you are trying to do, huh?” He groaned. “I want you to give those shares to me right now. I am gonna have to buy them if I have to but I won’t have you here.” He quickly got out his checkbook and signed a blank check for Travis, handing it over to him. “That’s a blank check. You can put any amount you want but get the fuck out of my company.” Travis felt hurt, insulted. He slowly looked at the check Antonio was holding to him and slowly raised his hand. He got the check and chuckled softly. Then his face became stern. He did something that even shocked Antonio to the core. He ripped the check to shreds and threw the pieces on Antonio’s face. “You can keep your money, Mr. Gonzalez.” He said hoarsely, breathing heavily. “I am not interested in it. And as for working with you, I wouldn’t have even bought those shares if I had known you were this… this person. But the did has already been done and there’s no way I am gonna withdraw and…” “Are you trying to act smart with me?” Antonio snapped, raising his finger. “First you crashed the party yesterday and now you badge into my company like you didn’t know what was going on and how dare you…” He paused and gripped Travis’ hand painfully. “Do you think by coming closer to me, you’re gonna seduce me again?” Travis furiously released his hand. “Don’t touch me and don’t be so sure of yourself!” He warned, raising his hand at the huge man in front of him. “If I had a chance, I wouldn’t even look at you twice. I don’t owe you anything or any explanation for joining this company. You’re not my boss or my father to question my motives. I didn’t get into this company because I wanted to get close to you or something. I don’t know you and I don’t want to get….” “Then get out!” He yelled and Travis closed his eyes slightly. “Get the fuck out because you’ll pay for this move that you’ve made, I promise you.” “What?” Travis snapped, breathing harshly like he was in a war. “Are you threatening me, Mr. Gonzalez?” Antonio chuckled bitterly. “Stay and you’ll find out if I am threatening you or promising you.” “I am not scared of you!” Travis breathed, trying to hold in his pain. “You can say whatever you want because you own this company and…” He paused and gasped in mock, an evil grin appearing on his face. “….oh, I own shares here now which means it’s our company.” Antonio groaned, his jaws shaking uncontrollably. “I hate you so much.” “I don’t care. I don’t even wanna hear your opinion about my life.” Travis shrugged. “I don’t give two hoots about your hatred right now because I am not your fan either. Your hatred won’t put my life on hold. However, when it comes to business you’re just gonna have to tolerate me.” He tried to move forward so that he could try to stop the elevator and get out of there but Antonio gripped his arm painfully and pinned him to the wall, their bodies so close that Travis’ heart began racing. He tried to release his arm but he found that he couldn’t. The man was just too strong and it scared Travis to some degree. Antonio was so close that Travis could feel his harsh breaths on his face. It made his body quiver in what he didn’t even know. He tried to move his arm and managed to but the guy did something even crazier. He put both his hands on the wall, putting Travis in between. When Travis tried to move, the guy just got closer. “You’ll pay for this dearly, Travis. I will make your life a living hell.” He vowed, getting even closer. “This company belongs to me and everything here is mine. Whenever I look into that face of yours, it reminds me of that cheater, that whore six years ago. It reminds me of what he did to me. How will you convince yourself now?” He chuckled, bitterly even dangerously closer. His heart raced so much that he was trembling. “How will you lie to yourself? You might have changed your name, your identity, and might fool everyone else but I…. I know exactly who you are. I feel angry each time I see anything that reminds me of him and I feel like taking revenge. But since he’s not here and you are, face it! You have his face and as long as you choose to remain at my company, I will settle my scores with you.” Travis’ face was priceless. He was staring at the man like he was scared. One moment he was acting scared and then suddenly, he burst into laughter, a laughter that angered Antonio. He thought the boy was gonna be scared, beg him to let go of him and probably cry but there was not a single tear. Then he clapped in mock, raising his eyebrow. “Wow! That was a great speech, Mr. Gonzalez. great. But you seem to forget something.” He chuckled bitterly. “Do you think your threats will scare me? I don’t give a fuck about your past or who you’re talking about! You can do whatever you want because it’s your life.” Antonio was shocked. For a second, he thought he was dreaming. The boy he remembered would never use such a word on him, not even on anyone. “If you think I am scared, then you don’t know me.” He glowered, his breaths becoming harsh. “I am a lamp that will keep burning even in a horrendous storm. The wick might indeed flicker but won’t be extinguished. Who do you think you are, Antonio Gonzalez?” He asked but his voice sounded so cold. “You just met me yesterday and you think you know me. Well, news flash, you don’t!” He yelled, furiously pushing Antonio away from him. Antonio took a step back and hit the cold metal behind. He remained standing there, looking lost and mad. “I thought I had met the worst people but I was wrong.” Travis fumed, raising his finger. “You’re a very foolish, insolent, and despicable person. You just met me yesterday and you think you know everything about me. Your thoughts, actions, and even words have been so venomous. Just thinking about it sends shivers down my spine. I had told you earlier and let me repeat myself.” He warned, pointing at the angry-looking man. “This anger that you express, whatever it is for, you’ve got the right to express it but don’t cross my path because you don’t know me that well. Maybe the person that you hate so much did the right thing by leaving you.” He tried to move but Antonio gripped his arm once again and pulled him closer, staring into his face like he wanted to punch him. All the words that Travis had used on him brought nothing but unquenchable anger in him. He was so mad that he saw red. His breaths were so harsh that it sounded like a monster was in that elevator. His eyes were red and tears had already formed in them, tears of rage. The anger had infiltrated every fiber of his being. Suddenly, the elevator opened and both of them didn’t even realize it. They just stared at each other, showing how much they hated each other. All the love that they had probably felt years ago had vanished. Now all that was there was nothing but pure hatred and anger. Suddenly…. “What’s going on here?” An angry voice spoke, getting the two of them out of their frenzy. Antonio quickly let go of Travis and then turned to find Bruce looking angry. He was staring right at Travis, breathing like he was in a war. He was with Andrea who was equally shocked at what she saw. Travis ripped his eyes from Antonio and then at Bruce who was looking like he had just lost a war. When Travis saw him, he just gave an evil grin and started going away but… “How dare you come to our company and try to seduce my husband?” Bruce yelled. His voice could be heard by everyone on that floor. “Whom do you think you are?” Travis stopped in his tracks and turned to find Bruce coming towards him. “What do you think you’re doing here, huh?” He snapped. He was so mad that he felt like killing the guy in front of him. “Can’t you stay in your lane? This is what you’ve resorted to now, seducing other people’s husbands? Oh, I see….” Bruce chuckled bitterly, folding his arms on his chest. “…so you just came back to try and seduce him so that he can come running to you. You are just the same person that you were years ago. But I am not surprised. Old habits die hard, right?” Travis lost the smile on his face as he stared into that ugly face that he so wanted to injure. People were watching and talking among themselves because Bruce had already created a scene. “Do you see this man?” Bruce held his husband tightly, wrapping his arm around his waist. “You and I know that he’s so powerful and very handsome and apparently, every guy in the world would want a piece of him. But you know something…” He got closer, holding Antonio’s hand. “…my husband is not a book and neither is he a toy that can be borrowed or shared. But you see….” He smiled brightly, glancing at his angry looking man. “…my husband is mine. Only mine. Do you understand?” Travis chuckled, shaking his head. “All those speeches you’re making, all the insecurities you’re feeling… are only for yourself.” He sighed, folding his arms. “As for your…” He paused, glancing at Antonio. “...husband, you can keep him. I am not interested in him. On the other hand, you should be telling him to keep his hands off me.” He gave a mocking smile that pierced through Bruce’s very heart. “It seems he can’t just stay away from me. And I don’t care if you think your boyfriend… oops!” He gasped in shock astonishment. “… your husband is a toy or not. It doesn’t matter what you say to me because that man…” he pointed at Antonio. “…is not even worthy of someone like me. You two deserve each other because you’re both despicable and annoying.” With those words, he turned and walked gracefully out of the building, leaving the three idiots standing like statues. Antonio thought he was mad couldn’t keep his eyes off Travis. His body was different and he had to say that Travis had that ass that could drive any man insane with desire but not him. Antonio furiously turned and started going towards the elevator with the two confused idiots behind him. When he reached the office, he picked up his phone and started dialing a number but it wasn’t going through. He was, mad and his mood that day had just been ruined. “What the hell?” He groaned, furiously hitting the phone on the table. “Does anything fucking work right in this fucking country?” “Antonio, don’t beat yourself up!” Andrea quickly rushed to him and held his hand. “You need to calm down!” “Calm down!” Antonio snapped, furiously pointing towards the window. “Right now, all my nerves have just gotten to my brain and I don’t know what to do. That whore just managed to enter this company and you expect me to calm down?” “What?” Both Andrea and Bruce gasped in shock. “Yes!” Antonio groaned, clenching his fists. “Somehow, he managed to buy the shares Mr. Sylvester owned here and…. how could I have been so stupid?” Antonio groaned, pulling on his hair. “I should have bought those shares when I had the chance. Now he’s managed to infiltrate the company and… I can’t help but feel that he’s up to something.” Bruce sighed, rubbing on his shoulders. “My love, don’t stress too much. We both know that he’s just trying his best to seduce you again. But he’s only one guy. We can defeat him together and…” “I don’t care about that.” He furiously moved his hand. “I will make that boy pay for what Praveen did to me and my family six years ago. Whether he’s Praveen or Travis, I will make him pay or my name is not Antonio Gonzalez.” The two culprits looked at each other, evil grins appearing on their faces. They knew that they still had the ultimate weapon and Travis had no chance of defeating them. Antonio’s anger and hatred were still intense and they knew they had the upper hand. *** Travis was in his car, staring out the window and remembering all that had happened back at the company, Antonio being close to him and all the words that he had used on him. His eyes were teary and the pain in his heart was just too much. “You’re gonna survive this, Travis Marasigan.” He whispered, taking a deep breath. “You just need to endure for a bit. This is all just in line with your plans.” He slowly fixed himself and before he even finished, his phone began ringing and he quickly picked it. “Hello, aunt!” ‘Hey, how did it go?’ Vanessa asked on the other end. Travis chuckled. “It was just going okay. Just had another encounter with Antonio Gonzalez. But that’s inevitable anyway since… he and I will now be seeing each other more often.” ‘Yeah, I just wanna see you safe.’ Vanessa spoke softly. ‘Getting in that company was risky enough. I don’t know if you’re that strong yet.’ “It’s necessary, aunt!” Travis chuckled happily, taking a glance out the window. “Sometimes, little pain is necessary to get what you want. Besides, I don’t think I can get more hurt than already did.” Vanessa sighed. ‘Just be careful, Travis. I don’t wanna see you in any more pain than you already passed through.’ “That won’t happen!” He laughed, shaking his head. “At least, this time, I’ll give them a dose of my pain. They made me lose everything that I held dear to my heart. But that’s okay. Anyway, how did it go? Have you managed to enroll him?” ‘Yeah, we just came out.’ Vanessa said. ‘He’ll be starting tomorrow morning though I am not sure this son of yours will make it any easier. He doesn’t wanna be at this school where he’s got no friends. He’s as stubborn as you, Travis!” Travis laughed harder, shaking his head. “I don’t think so, aunt! He’s more stubborn than me. Maybe he gets that from his….” He paused and lost the smile on his face when he realized exactly what he had been about to say. “…err… I will call you later, aunt!” He cut the call and remained quiet, feeling his heart begin to race. It was not gonna be easy but he was gonna endure it. “You’ve got no idea who you’re messing with!” He grinned sinisterly, ordering his driver to start moving. *** “Sean, come on….” Vanessa stretched out her hand for the little boy that was running behind her. “…we need to go.” “Coming, granny!” Sean giggled in his cute little voice. Sean was looking smart and cute in a tiny brown designer’s shirt that was tucked in a black skinny jeans with brown snickers and a little black tie. He was amazing and his hair was gelled. Vanessa Marasigan too didn’t just look amazing, she was looking like a queen in a black designer’s dress with silver high heels and her hair curled. She was so lost looking at her grandson that she didn’t even see in front of her. The next thing she felt was bumping into someone and then her purse fell to the ground. “Oh my God,” A woman gasped, quickly leaning to pick up the purse. “I am so sorry. I didn’t see you. I… I was… I am so sorry.” Vanessa quickly looked forward and found a beautiful young woman, probably in her late twenties staring right at her while handing her the purse. She was looking beautiful in designer clothes and her hair tied in a ponytail. Vanessa had never seen her before but she found herself smiling. “No!” Vanessa took the purse. “It’s my fault. I wasn’t looking where I was going. I had my mind on my grandson and…” “Grandson?” The woman chuckled happily. “You have a grandson? You don’t look that old?” “Oh, thanks…” Vanessa grinned. “…but yeah. I have a beautiful grandson and he’s only five years old. He’s my son’s first child and so…” She opened her arms. “… I am a proud grandmother to a beautiful boy. His name is Sean and I just came to enroll him at this school.” “Wow!” The woman extended her hand. “Nice to meet you….” “Vanessa!” She shook the woman’s hand cheerfully. “Vanessa!” The woman chuckled happily. “My name is Celine and it’s nice to meet you. I came to bring my daughter to school, Stephanie. You know she can be stubborn at times and….” Celine chuckled happily when she saw her daughter and the most handsome male kid she had ever set her eyes on, playing and holding hands a distance from where they stood. “…looks like they’re friends already.” Vanessa took a glance behind and she couldn’t have been happier. “That they are. I bet Sean may not be so stubborn since he has made a friend already. By the way, you have a beautiful daughter.” Celine gasped, touching her chest. “Thanks, I was just about to say the same about your grandson. He is handsome.” “Thanks!” Vanessa breathed happily. She couldn’t have been prouder. “He gets that from his father.” “He must be handsome?” Celine commented. “He is.” Vanessa chuckled happily. “Anyway, it was nice to meet you, Celine. But I have to run now. I need to go somewhere so… see you around.” “Definitely!” Celine shook the woman’s hands. Vanessa smile. “Sean, baby, let’s go.” And when Sean came to the woman, she took him in her arms and started heading towards where their car was parked. But what the two women had no idea of was that the bond that the two kids felt was stronger and deeper than they thought. It was a bond that only siblings felt. As he left in his granny’s arms, Sean waved at Stephanie and she waved back. Celine was happy. She had a strange feeling though and she was anxious about knowing the father of such a handsome boy. She loved the boy already and she had a strange feeling like the boy was bonded to her or something. *** Vanessa came downstairs with a smile on her face, opening her arms widely. “Finally, you’re here! How did it go?” Travis held his aunt tightly and kissed her cheek. “Better than I expected. The board was all happy to see me.” He chuckled. “Everyone was nice and I think they like me.” “That’s great!” Vanessa said with a smile on her face. “Who wouldn’t love the son of the great Richard Marasigan? Your father was a legendary businessman although not everyone knew him personally. He was powerful and influential too.” Travis smiled sheepishly, taking a sigh. “Yeah, but…. I just wish he was here.” He was sad and emotional. “I miss him and I don’t understand why….” “Shh….” Vanessa covered his lips with her hands. “He’s proud of you. Besides, your father is still here with us. He lives in little Sean and that’s why you gave him his name, right?” Travis had to fight his tears. “Yes. That’s why I miss him even more and maybe…” He paused and sighed. “…if any of these things hadn’t happened, he’d still be alive. He got caught up in my mess and… I won’t let his death go in vain, aunt. I will hurt them where it hurts the most, I swear.” Vanessa rubbed on his shoulders, smiling brightly. “I understand all that. But can you bear to hurt your son’s father? Are you sure you want to do this?” Travis chuckled bitterly. “Sean has grown up without him. Antonio had hurt me more than anyone and though…” He paused and gave his aunt a worried look. “…I don’t understand why he’s so mad at Praveen. Whenever I look at him, I see nothing but pain and anger. He tries to hurt me any chance he gets. But that won’t change anything. He didn’t stand for me, for our child, or our relationship. He was the reason why I almost lost Sean and the reason for father’s death. I could have understood him but… it was barely two months I left and he was already romancing with Bruce.” Vanessa held her nephew’s hands. “I understand and I’ll support you through it all.” “Thanks.” He smiled brightly. “You’ve been like a mother to me and I thank you for that. In my quest for truth, I want your support.” “You have it!” She smiled brightly. “Anything you need, just tell me.” “I will.” He smiled brightly. “So where’s Sean?” “Sleeping!” Vanessa chuckled. “I think the little guy had a long day. He’ll be starting school tomorrow morning and I think he made a friend today.” “?” Travis was excited. “Already?” “Yeah, we met Stephanie today and I think they’re gonna be great.” “That’s good. I didn’t want my son to be lonely.” He said happily, getting up. “I need to rest now.” “Wait!” Vanessa gripped his hand. “What about dinner?” He laughed. “I’ll have that later. I am tired and I need to see my son. See you tomorrow.” He gave her a peck. “Goodnight!” Travis went upstairs and found his son sleeping while holding his picture. He just stood in the doorway, admiring the cute boy. He was just so happy when he was around his son. *** “What?” Emma gasped in shock, her mouth shaking. “He did what?” She couldn’t remember the last time she was that mad. “He bought shares in our company!” Andrea said while her jaws shook. “And he was acting all high and mighty. But that’s not the problem, aunt! Do you know who this boy claims to be his father?” Emma frowned. “Who?” “Richard Marasigan!” Andrea chuckled bitterly, clenching her fists. “Richard Marasigan?” Emma’s voice shook. “That’s the mysterious business tycoon who never appeared in pictures or magazines. Wait, wasn’t he one of the most powerful and influential businessmen in the country like six years ago? Nobody has heard from him for six years. It’s just impossible that Praveen is his son. Last I heard….” “Why are we even talking about this?” Eduardo asked, shrugging. “This can’t be Praveen. It’s probably just a lookalike that…” “Are you serious?” Andrea laughed, folding her arms on her chest. “That boy has been missing for six years and then six years later, Travis emerges. Doesn’t that like bother you a bit? And then he finds himself mysteriously in our company. If he’s the son to the mysterious Richard then what does he want at our company. Richard is a very rich man and he’s got many companies at home and abroad. That boy is up to something. He now owns 30 percent of the company shares and you think that’s a joke?” Bruce laughed, raising an eyebrow. “He wants Antonio, that’s what. He wants to seduce him again. He wants to get back in his life. But I won’t allow that to happen. Antonio is my husband and nobody will get him away from me. Whatever plans that boy has, I will see to it that he fails. After all….” He chuckled, an evil grin appearing on his face. He had defeated him six years back. “…Antonio is now mine just like he should have been years ago. I won’t allow anyone to come between us.” Celine sighed, shaking her head. “You might just be wrong. The Praveen I remember was never like that. You said it yourself, Andrea. This boy is powerful, gutsy and the way he carries himself is just different. Praveen was naïve, usually quiet and…” “I don’t expect anything sensible to come out of that mouth.” Andrea snapped, giving Celine evil looks. “People do change and if you think being stupid is the way…” “Excuse me?” Celine snapped, furiously getting up the chair. “Don’t ever call me stupid, Andrea. I am older than you so I deserve some respect from you. Maybe you’re just mad at this boy because he had put you in your place yesterday and gave you slaps.” With those words, she got up and left the living room, leaving Andrea looking like she had just seen her life flash before her. She was mad that her heart felt like it was about to rip out of her chest. “What?” She gasped in shock, clenching her fists. “Did she just…” “Forget about Celine!” Emma said, patting on her thigh. “We have more important matters than her. How’s Antonio?” “He’s mad!” Bruce said, getting up the couch. “Ever since that boy returned, he’s been upset. He was in the gym earlier and I don’t even know what to do right now.” Emma sighed, burying her face between her palms. “My poor son. I just hope he gets the strength to handle this boy once and for all.” She was scared and she only prayed for one thing, for Antonio to gather strength and get rid of the boy forever. But question was, did God answer such prayers? *** Emilia was seated beside granny’s bed, holding the old woman’s hand sweetly, cupping it in hers. She was sad and the tears that never seized to flow had flooded her face. As a mother, seeing her children suffer because of one boy was too much for her. Her pain was beyond the pain itself. She didn’t even know what hurt even more. Granny was sleeping after the nurse had given her some sleeping pills. The woman wasn’t getting any better. She was getting worse day by day. Her mental state was deteriorating and Antonio had refused to take her to the mental hospital because he said his granny was a sane woman. She couldn’t walk properly on her own because she had fallen down the staircase six years back, two days after Praveen had left the house. She used a wheelchair. Emilia sniveled, kissing granny’s hand. “You’ve probably suffered even more than me, mother. I don’t know what to do anymore, mother.” She cried softly. “Every day, I feel like giving up, mother. Please, get better and make everything right again. I know that if you had been okay, everything in this house would have been okay too. Antonio, Andrea, and everyone else wouldn’t have hated me so much. Please, get better, mother.” She sobbed softly, lying softly on her chest. “Please, their hatred has gone deeper now that he’s back. They say he’s changed a lot but their hatred has also grown deeper.” Emilia had so much anger for the boy that had destroyed her home. She had no idea if she was gonna forgive him. She just couldn’t see herself forgiving him although there was still a part that wished to see him, tell him how much pain he had caused for all of them and how he had destroyed her home. She remembered six years ago what had happened…… ‘The almighty never abandons his devotees and if they’re wronged, sometimes he goes together with them.’ The priest had said six years ago when Katy had called him. ‘This family has been destroyed by the person that you had all trusted and loved a lot. You need to be careful, however…. Because evil always comes back to haunt us just when we think that we’re free and it comes in all directions. One day, you’ll get to understand all this. It’s just a matter of time and it’s not in my power to say anything. This house has been desacralized because of the abomination that had been caused. The almighty has already left this house and your lives because of the sacrilege that occurred here. I don’t know when he’ll return. Your name has been tarnished.’ The priest had spoken all those words while standing outside the house. He had refused to enter. “I wish you were here, mother Katy…” She sobbed, holding on tightly to her mother. “I wish you were here because you used to comfort me and mother was getting better with you around. Why did you leave just like that?” Katy had left about a month ago because she wanted to offer some prayers for granny’s health. But ever since, Emilia and the entire family hadn’t heard from her. Her phone used to ring but she never picked it up or responded to any of the messages that they had sent. Everyone thought that she was mad because the night before she had left, she had a terrible argument with Antonio about taking granny to a mental asylum. Since that time, no one had heard from her. Antonio himself had tried to call but she never picked up. He had even called her home but no one saw her. “Please, come back…” *** Somewhere deep in a village * A lady in her mid-30s was standing near a bed where an elderly woman slept, a woman that had been in a coma for over a month. She was on oxygen and drip, the things that ensured her survival. The woman still had some on her forehead where there had been a huge wound. “Every day that passes,” The lady spoke, staring at the nurse that had just been cleaning the woman. “I feel like this woman is fighting for something. Though she hasn’t even moved since we found her in the river, I still have hope that she’ll wake up soon.” The lady was the village doctor and she had devoted her life to the villages, to help them and heal them when necessary. She was beautiful, with brown eyes and dark short hair. She was dressed in a white dress with sandals on her feet “Yeah,” The nurse nodded. “I believe so too but…” She paused and looked at the beautiful doctor. “…we haven’t been able to find out who she is. There has been no case of her being reported missing. Maybe we should just take her to the hospital in the capital so that she heals faster and maybe…” “No!” Abigail shook her head, looking at the nurse. “I can’t do that. This woman might be in danger. Remember, we found her in the river with several wounds on her body. I think someone wanted her dead and they thought she died.” She laughed softly. “The world is very wicked, dear. I might be young but I know exactly what goes on out there. My only concern is, why would someone want to kill an old woman like her? She seems harmless and sweet. Only when she wakes up will we be able to know who she is and where she’s from. Until then, we cannot make any decisions. We just need to keep doing our best to ensure she wakes. Do you understand?” The nurse nodded. The two souls just stared at the woman with their arms folded, praying in their hearts that she woke up soon because they needed to know who she and where she was from. She had been in the coma for too long but they both knew that she was fighting for something and that was what made them curious. Suddenly, the woman moved her fingers slowly. It was quick but none of them saw it because they were looking at her face. It happened rapidly and then she was back to being immobile. To be continued....
  5. vanalas

    Raging Love

    Two lives with a past collide in a world filled with lies, deceit, danger and revenge. Rising from the ashes, Travis is trying to seek justice for the wrong that was done in the past. But more than anything, he vows revenge on the person who betrayed him the most- the love of his life. Will Travis's thirst for revenge overpower his true love or will it be the other way around? With Travis seeking revenge and justice for a did that almost destroyed his life, is there still any love left for a man he passionately loved in the past or has his heart turned dark? What happens when fuel is added to a fire that already ignited years back?
  6. Love... the very essence of life, a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. It reaches out in little ways, showing attention and admiration. Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength while loving someone deeply gives you courage. Like it's been said, 'the best and most beautiful things in this world cannot be seen or even heard... but must be felt with the heart.' But how can something that gives you strength and courage also hurt you beyond repair? A question that gives endless answers... When love is real, it doesn't lie, cheat, pretend, hurt you, or make you feel unwanted. It's supposed to be a cure to all your worries. But sometimes, the wounds it leaves are deep and very hard to heal. Sometimes they don't heal at all, only leaves scars that will remind you of your misery each day. And in love, there are two types of pain, one that hurts you and the other that changes you. But as a person gives up old garments to put on new ones, similarly, the soul accepts new material bodies to replace the old and useless ones. * Early morning and there he was, emptying his strength into the punching bag, giving it his best shot. He didn't even bother wearing gloves, at least he didn't feel like that particular day. He was wearing a beautiful black designer's sport's shorts, sports shoes, and without anything on those perfectly carved abs that drove everyone insane. He had the perfect toned body, really ripped muscles, and six-packs that made people admire him. He was handsome as fuck, made both ladies and men cream their panties. He was perfect, famous, and really rich. What could a guy ask for? He had spent hours in the gym, punching the bag nonstop... he was breathing heavily, sweat dripping down his body in series, making him look yummy and mouthwatering. The gym had become his place of comfort or rather his torture place where he used to bring his burdens, punch them into the bags. But guess somethings never change. No matter how much you try to avoid them, they'll always come back to haunt you... "Ah..." He screamed as he gave the bag the hardest punch yet. It went flying and he was ready to punch it even harder as soon as it came back but got the surprise of his life when it didn't. He groaned furiously, moved his eyes forward, and got the shock of his life when he saw his friend, best friend standing in front of him holding the bag. "What are you doing?" He asked, his voice rising. "Are you crazy?" He let go of the bag, rushing to his friend. "Look at your knuckles? They are red. How long have you been here?" "It doesn't matter!" "It matters to me!" He said harshly, taking his friend's hand. "Look at you! Are you trying to hurt yourself?" "Leave me alone..." "Antonio!" Ethan snapped, pointing his finger angrily at him. "Don't tell me to leave you alone? What's wrong with you? Everyone's been worried about..." "What do they care?" Antonio furiously removed his hands, slightly looking away. He was filled with so much rage, so much anger. He just wanted to vent it away so that it can just go away for good. Ethan shook his head, looking at Antonio in anger. "They do!" He rested his hand on Antonio's shoulder. "Mother and..." "If she cared about me then she wouldn't have subjected me to such torture!" He roared, clenching his fist. "All this just makes me so mad. That woman ruined my life and I will never forgive her for that. Whenever I see her... I... I..." He groaned, gripping his hair furiously. "...I just burn inside." Ethan sighed, combing his hair with his fingers. Then he looked at his friend and saw nothing but anger and rage on his face, a face that once wore a really beautiful smile. It was really painful. "It's been almost six years, Antonio!" Ethan couldn't mask the pain in his voice. "Six fucking years and I have been your business partner and friend. Each fucking day, I get to see this person that you've become and it hurts me inside. Where's the man that used to be so lively and fun? Where's the man that was always happy, viewing life with a smile on his face? Where's the man that loved his family so much? With this... this..." Ethan groaned, shaking his head. "...this anger that's inside you, you've expanded your empire to great lengths and you're now the leading musician in our country and a powerful and influential businessman. But behind this... this person is bitter and sad." Antonio laughed and then took a towel and wrapped it around his neck. "Well, Ethan, that Antonio is dead!" He said hoarsely, his face becoming stern. "He'll never return. Not anymore. The world is run by money and that is what I am making. Money talks and bullshit works, right?" "Ant..." But Ethan didn't even finish his sentence as Antonio's phone began ringing and he answered it. "Yes, Bruno, tell them to wait." He said hoarsely. "I don't pay those idiots just play around my company. If they can't wait for me then they can go to hell." He cut the call and started rushing outside. Six years, almost six freaking years had gone by. A lot had changed in those years, a lot. Antonio's music career had reached the sky and he was topping the charts. He had managed to expand his business empire and was now one of the richest and a feared businessman in the country. He was living his life. He now lived in a really beautiful, big five-star mansion that was befitting a king. It had 25 bedrooms altogether, maids and servants at his disposal, chauffeurs, and a few guards that were found at the large, golden gate. The entire place was huge, had a large swimming pool for relaxation, a big garage where his numerous expensive cars were parked, and everything that he needed for luxury. His mansion also had a conference room, two elevators, and 3 fucking floors. And here he was, entering his beautiful living room which had expensive white couches, the biggest TV he could find, and all those beautiful things he needed. Just as he was entering, his eyes went straight to the staircase and he saw his mother coming down the stairs, talking to one of the maids with a smile on her face. She was looking really beautiful in a black plain dress and slippers with her hair tied in a ponytail. She hadn't aged a day and she was just as beautiful. He just stood still, watching as she came down, smiling brightly when she saw him. She rushed to him, wearing the most beautiful smile ever. "Morning, baby?" She chuckled happily, taking his hand sweetly. But Antonio angrily withdrew his hand. Emilia got hurt by her son's reaction but she wasn't gonna give up. "So honey, how was your morning?" She asked sweetly. "I have made your favorite..." "Oh stop it!" Antonio snapped, staring at his mother like she was a stranger. "Who are you fooling, Emilia Gonzalez? Stop with your drama. I have always told you this." He warned. Emilia lost the smile on her face, feeling as tears flooded. "Till when will you continue to hate me, Antonio?" A tear went down her cheek. "When will you forgive me for my mistakes and..." "As long as I am alive, mother!" He said in between clenched teeth, getting closer to her. Emilia slightly closed her eyes as her face got flooded with tears of pain. "I am sorry." She sobbed, putting her hands together. "I was only..." "You were only trying to fulfill your desires while destroying my life." He chimed in, chuckling bitterly. "But you've gotten your perfect son." He opened his arms wider, giving her an evil grin. "Here I am, your darling perfect son. You're probably used to me so don't you dare give me those crocodile tears. I am stupid to fall for them again." Emilia just stared at her angry son while her heart ripped to pieces. She had always wondered where all that love that he had for her had vanished. His hatred for her had just suddenly emerged and it had been getting stronger. She had lived in pain for the last five years. "Antonio, darling!" A sweet voice interrupted mother and son. Antonio moved his eyes and then saw Emma coming towards him, looking smart and stylish. She was wearing a blue designer's skirt, a white designer's shirt, and blue high heels. Her long dark hair was curled and the makeup on her face made her look young and beautiful. And that smile on her face was the final ingredient to her beauty. "Aunt..." Antonio smiled, going for her feet. "Morning?" "Morning, baby!" Emma chuckled happily, touching his head to give him her blessings. "How have you been?" "I have been fine!" Antonio rose and hugged her tightly. Emma hugged him back while giving Emilia a peal of mocking laughter. "That's great!" Emma pulled away from the hug. "I made your favorite breakfast, my lovely son!" She caressed his cheek. "Why don't you go and shower and then come down for breakfast?" "Sure!" Antonio smiled as brighter as ever. "You know how I love your food. I will go and take a quick shower and then come down." "Alright!" Antonio rushed upstairs while Emma just remained there, her arms on her chest and a mocking smile that screamed evil grin at Emilia. She enjoyed seeing her sister in law in pain and she didn't get enough. "I don't think you need to shed those tears, Emilia!" Emma chuckled evilly. "You brought all this hatred upon yourself. You brought Pra... oops!" She covered her mouth. "He who shall not be named, to destroy your son and daughter. Did you think it was gonna end well?" Emilia sobbed uncontrollably. "Emma, please... I... I have been paying for my sins for six years and..." "That's not enough!" Emma snapped, getting closer to Emilia. She was so mad that her jaws shook in anger. "You deserve to suffer even more. Because of you, Antonio's life was almost ruined and it's also because of you that... that..." Her eyes became watery. "...that mother's mental state has not been stable. For six fucking years, she... she has not been well and it's because of you and that cursed thing. But I promise you..." She warned, raising her finger at Emilia. "...you'll suffer even more because the almighty will continue punishing you even in your death. I regret the day that my brother brought you home." She hissed and then rudely bumped into Emilia, making her fall to the floor hard. Emilia covered her mouth and cried in pain like she always did. It was really painful for your children to hurt you and treat you like an outsider it was really painful. She just wished she could turn back time and change everything. But that was impossible, right? *** Antonio entered his room, a classy room with a queen-sized bed, pure white and red beddings and beautiful paintings on the wall, and some of his pictures. He also had a private room inside the bedroom where he did his music, especially when he wanted to be alone. "God!" Antonio sighed as he sat on the bed, throwing the towel on the floor. He rubbed his eyes and rested his face between his palms, feeling tired. He had been in the gym for hours and it had made him extremely tired. As he was busy trying to rest, he felt arms being wrapped around his neck seductively and slowly from behind. He slowly rose his head, closed his eyes, and just breathed. "I missed you!" A horny voice spoke. Then the hands started going down to his chest, caressing it lovingly while Antonio did his best to be in the moment. He felt the hot breaths on his neck and he dropped his head, biting his lips sensually. Then he felt it, a kiss on the neck and he couldn't help but give a low groan. It was like powerful sensations took control of his sexy body, turning him on and setting a powerful eternal flame. Then the hands traced down to his waistband and started going past them. That was when everything changed. Antonio quickly opened his eyes and rose from the bed, breathing like the hounds of hell were after him. His eyes landed on Bruce who was seated on the bed staring at him like he was so mad and disappointed. He was looking sexy, wearing nothing but a black see-through boxer brief that fit him gorgeously. His body was looking perfect, really hot, and seductive... He was handsome and those lips were inviting Antonio to just lean in and take them and that sexy body was just begging to be touched. But Antonio couldn't do it. Bruce was looking shocked, confused, and disappointed. His shoulder-length hair was tied in a sexy curled ponytail and it was dark as night. It had grown in the last six years. "What?" Bruce shrugged, raising his eyebrows. "I am not just in the mood!" Antonio said harshly, starting to head towards the bathroom. Hearing his answer, Bruce quickly jumped from the bed and blocked Antonio, folding his arms on his chest. He stared at him with a stern look, shaking his head. "You're not in the mood?" Bruce chuckled bitterly. "I can't believe this, Antonio! Are you ever in the mood? You're always finding an excuse to avoid..." He paused and groaned, clenching his fists. Then he took a deep sigh and started getting closer to Antonio. "Look at me, Antonio!" He moaned sensually, biting his lip. "Am I not attractive enough?" He took Antonio's hand and rubbed on it sweetly. "My body is craving for your touch, my lips yearn for your kisses and this fire burning in me needs to be quenched. My love..." He kissed Antonio's hand. "...please, I want you to make love to me so badly. I feel like if I won't feel your body on mine, I'll go insane. I need you. I need to feel you inside of me." Antonio shook his head and quickly withdrew his hand from Bruce's. "I can't do this and please, I have told you that..." "What the fuck?" Bruce snapped, feeling tears building in his eyes. "What do you want me to do, Antonio? I have practically done everything I possibly can just to put you in the mood. What else do you want me to do?" "I want you to stop trying!" Antonio said hoarsely, sounding cold. "What do you want me to do? Force myself to..." "Yes!" Bruce snapped, a painful tear rolling down his cheek. "I am not just some person or a whore that you can treat anyhow you like, Antonio. You're my husband..." He said in pain, shaking his head. "...I am legally married to you and you have to make me feel like a man. You must make love to me when I need it. I am tired of all these excuses." "Bruce!" "What?" He glowered. "Am I not telling the truth? Ever since our marriage, you've never touched me, Antonio. We've never had sex as a couple and it's been six fucking years. Six years and I feel like I am not married to you at all. The only time when..." He paused and just looked at Antonio, watching as his husband just stared at him without even feeling pity or regret. He took a sigh. "Until when will I continue begging you for sex?" His voice was really low. "The only time when you made love to me..." He paused and chuckled. "...you left me hanging halfway during our wedding night and since then..." He shook his head, more tears flooding his face. "...you've never even tried to make love to me." Bruce could remember it all well, their wedding night. Everything had been going so well... Antonio had been making sweet, passionate love to him when all of a sudden, he had just stopped, picked up his clothes, and ran out of the room yelling... only for him to return the next day looking like a drank man. Since then, nothing had happened between them. "We've been living like..." "Well, you wanted to get married to me, didn't you?" Antonio chuckled bitterly, getting closer to him. "This is the marriage you wanted so don't give me a headache!" He warned, pointing his finger angrily at him. "I don't know why you can't just leave me alone. Isn't being married to me enough?" "But..." "Look, I'd have loved to continue this conversation but..." He glanced at his watch. "...I am kinda running late and I have an important meeting at the office." He rolled his eyes and walked past Bruce. He went to the bathroom to take a shower. Meanwhile, Bruce felt like someone had just pierced his heart. It hurt like hell and he felt like crying. But he wasn't gonna do that at all. He was gonna be strong and hope for the best. He quickly rubbed his tears and then glanced at the picture above the bed, their picture. They had looked really happy at their wedding day. It was grand and epic. Both of them had been putting on expensive black suits and Antonio was behind Bruce with his arms locked around Bruce's waist while Bruce leaned with his neck dropped and his husband kissed his neck. They had both been smiling. How they ended from that to their current state was something that Bruce had failed to understand. He just wished everything could go back to normal. *** Antonio was coming down the stairs gracefully, looking cute and sexy in a black designer's suit which was buttoned up with a pink shirt inside and black shoes on his feet. The suit was stuck on his muscular body like a second skin, making him look delicious. His hair was made into an Ivy League which revealed his handsome face and well-shaven beards. As soon as he reached the living room, he heard footsteps and then someone holding or rather hugging his legs tightly. Antonio slowly looked down and a brilliant smile popped up on his face as he took a deep breath, kneeling on one knee. "And how did my precious baby girl sleep?" He asked in a sweet voice. The little girl giggled, wrapping her tiny arms around Antonio's neck before kissing him on the lips. He couldn't have liked it any better. "It was okay, Uncle!" She said in the sweetest angelic voice Antonio had ever heard from anyone. "That was good!" Antonio held her tightly and rose with her in his arms. "I had a good night too. But I missed you so much and I wish you were there." He kissed her cheek while holding her tightly. The little girl giggled. "Can I come with you, uncle?" Antonio chuckled, raising his eyebrow. " Stephanie?" He smiled brightly. "Would you like uncle to take you with him?" "Yeah!" The little girl raised her hands excitedly, making Antonio smile. "Okay, uncle will take you with him okay but..." "But... you have to go to school..." A beautiful female voice spoke. Antonio quickly turned and saw Celine standing behind the two of them with her arms folded and a beautiful smile on her face. She was as beautiful as ever if not more. She was just wearing a black dress, blue slippers, and her hair was covered with a cap. She was looking amazing and she was glowing. Stephanie was five years old, really cute, and adorable. She had a cute little face, long dark, curly hair that reached her butt, and a cute round face. She was the daughter of Celine and Eduardo. Antonio loved the kid like she was his own. He never messed with her and he never wanted anyone to mess with her, not even her parents. He spoilt her in any way he could and called her his princess. He was so close to her that her parents were probably jealous. She reminded him of a child he'd have loved to have if at all life had smiled at him. "My beautiful angel..." Celine opened her arms wide, gesturing for her daughter. "...come or you'll be late for school." Steph shook her head. "I wanna go with uncle." Antonio chuckled happily, staring into the beautiful green eyes of his niece. "Baby, listen to your mom, okay? You need to go to school so that you can start working with your uncle for good." She acted excited. "Promise?" "And hope to die!" He kissed her cheek lovingly. Then he gave her to her mother before he caressed her cheek. "Take care of my princess!" He warned in a joking tone. "You know, I will." Celine chuckled and then leaned to give him a peck. "I will see you in the evening!" "See you!" Antonio smiled, waved at Steph, and left for the office. "Okay, baby..." Celine said excitedly. "...time to get dressed." Celine laughed with her daughter and then turned. But as soon as she turned, she found Emilia staring towards the door, looking as if she was in so much pain. Seeing her like that, Celine felt terrible. She put her daughter down and told her to run to their room. Steph nodded and then rushed to the room after kissing her, granny. Celine sighed, resting her arm on Emilia's shoulder. "You don't have to worry, mother!" She assured, squeezing her shoulder. "Very soon, everything will go back to the way it was. Antonio will eventually come back to you and realize that you just wanted what you thought was best for him." Emilia sighed, fighting her tears. "For the past six years, that's all I have prayed for. But my prayers have never been answered. Sometimes I just feel like God is punishing me for bringing that boy into this house and..." "No!" Celine said abruptly, shaking her head. "Who would have known this would happen? Pra..." "Don't mention his name!" Emilia said sharply, slightly closing her eyes. "That name is forbidden in this house. He is gone and he's no longer part of our lives." Celine took a deep breath, feeling a pain rise deep in her heart. "I am sorry." "Mother, Antonio, Andrea, and everyone else got hurt." She said weakly, chuckling bitterly. "I watched as my son's love slowly turned into hatred for me. I kinda deserve it. I brought this upon myself, Celine. But you..." She paused and caressed her cheek. "...you're truly an angel and Eduardo is lucky. You still talk to me despite what had happened, you and Eduardo. Thank you so much for this." "Mom..." Celine quickly pulled Emilia into a tight and emotional hug. "You know how I hate hearing that from you." She pulled away, holding her hands tightly. "I love you so much and nothing will separate you and me. I promise that I will help you and your son to reunite, even if I have to use Stephanie. I will do it." Emilia felt a tear rolling down. "Thank you!" "You're welcome!" Celine smiled. Emilia rubbed her tears and smiled. "I need to check up on mother." Celine nodded and watched as her mother in law rushed out of the living room. She felt sad for her, a woman that had once been full of life and happiness was looking so miserable. 'Six years, Praveen...' She thought, fighting her tears. '...six years and I still refuse to believe that you had done anything wrong. My heart still tells me you're innocent and... I wish to see you again, my brother.' She looked to the heavens and sighed. 'God, show me a way out of this. Please!' She got out of her thoughts and rushed to the room. *** Antonio was seated on his comfy chair, his chin resting on his fist which was resting on the beautiful table. He was staring at his staff from side to side, wondering why the hell he had to go through all that he was going through. He was in the conference room and all of his workers were in there and that sullen look on his face wasn't helping matters. "So explain to me why the hell all of you came to the office late?" He yelled, a frown appearing on his face. "Do I need to do your jobs for you? I specifically told you that I needed all of you here for the meeting." The workers looked at each other in fear. "Can someone say something, damn it?" He furiously rose, hitting his hands on the table. "Do you think I had built this company just so that your lazy asses can ruin things for me?" "But, sir..." The marketing manager started, his voice breaking. "...we thought that..." "You thought that what?" He hissed. "What do I need all of you here for if I am doing your jobs for you? You were supposed to do a very important presentation to the clients but as usual..." He chuckled bitterly, sitting furiously on the chair. "...I had to your jobs for you." "Sir, we thought the meeting was too early and..." "So you now tell me how to run my company, huh?" He snapped, shaking his head. He was staring at the woman that had just spoken. "No, sir, I..." "You're fired!" He said without any feeling of remorse. "Clear your desk in the next thirty minutes or..." "No, please..." The woman threw herself on the floor, putting her hands together. Tears formed in her eyes as she stared at her boss. "...sir, you can't fire me. I didn't mean to question you or how you run..." "Yet, you still did." He glowered, folding his arms on his chest. "Perhaps you're tired of working here." The woman shook her head. "No! I..." "The next time you question me, I'll make you and your family members jobless." He warned, pointing at her. "Now get out of here." He furiously looked at everyone. "That goes for all of you. Whatever I say, goes. If you can't live by my rules then you're welcome to quit! Get out!" Everyone quickly got out of their seats and started rushing out of the conference room. They were scared of Antonio Gonzalez. He had been a sweet man before, maybe six years ago but ever since the scandal, his life had changed. He was a cold man, really harsh, and didn't care about his workers. They worked in fear and though he had managed to build a very big empire and make a name for himself both in the business and music world, he was a feared man. "Incompetent idiots!" He muttered, getting off the chair. Just as he was about to start getting out of the room, his phone began ringing and he quickly picked it. He listened to what the man on the other end had to say before... "Look, I don't care what they have said." He said harshly, gripping the phone harder. "Tell them that I am not interested in their deal. If they won't pay by this evening, I am gonna terminate the contract and I don't need to remind them what's gonna happen once I terminate it. If I were them, I'd be looking for the man right now." He cut the call and rushed out of the room. He just went straight to his fancy office and as soon as he opened the door, he got a great surprise when he found Andrea seated on his chair with her legs on the table, staring at him with a sexy smile. She was looking really beautiful with her hair curled beautifully like a model and let loose, her beautiful face glowing with makeup and dressed in really expensive clothes, a white skinny jean, red top, and silver high heeled shoes. Seeing her, Antonio couldn't help but smile brightly. "Hey, what a surprise!" He gasped, rushing towards the desk. "When did you come back?" Andrea chuckled and cat walked to her brother, hugging him tightly. "A few minutes ago actually. I didn't want to go straight to the house so I came here to see my brother." She pulled away and held his hands sweetly, smiling like she'd won a lottery. "Don't you think it would have been better to rest?" Andrea had come from attending a business meeting in Malaysia in her brother's place and it had gone great. It had been a week since she had left and she wouldn't have happier than she was to be back in the country. She had missed everyone, especially her loving brother. "And miss out on the fun?" She chuckled happily, shaking her head. "No! In fact..." She paused and started fixing her brother's collar. "You and I are going out for lunch and then movies." "What?" Antonio gasped, shaking his head. "Andrea, no. I still have a lot of work and besides, I have another meeting in the afternoon." Andrea raised her eyebrow. "You work too much, Antonio. You need a break. You're the boss and I don't think you can ever deny your beautiful sister, can you?" She stared at him. "And besides, I called your husband and he is already on his way there. We're gonna meet him at the hotel and the three of us will hang out together just like old times." Antonio sighed, rubbing on his forehead. Though he didn't like the thought of being with Bruce, he couldn't deny his sister. "Okay, but only because I wanna know how the meeting went." Andrea raised her hands like she was surrendering. "You're the boss." Antonio laughed softly, shaking his head. He picked up his phone and car keys and they left. *** Emilia was coming down the stairs with a brilliant smile on her face, her eyes fixed right at the entrance. Her heart raced with joy as she saw the cute looking boy coming inside the house with a tired-looking face. He was looking really cute in his blue uniform, holding his bag firmly. He had pitch-black hair that was shaven on the sides and then combed backward. He was young but so good looking. "Ryan!" Emilia chuckled happily as she rushed to him. "Granny!" Ryan chirped and ran in his grandmother's arms. "I missed you." "I missed you too." Emilia smiled brightly as she kissed the little boy's cheeks, ruffling his hair. She held him tighter and felt some peace calm her down. Emilia loved Ryan a lot and in the last six years, their bond had grown stronger. Ryan was now eleven years old, really intelligent at school, and loved Emilia maybe even more than Emma. Emilia appreciated that because she missed such a time, especially with her son treating her like shit. "How was your day?" Emilia asked, staring into his beautiful blue eyes. Ryan nodded. "I am hungry!" Emilia chuckled happily, combing his hair with her fingers. "I know." She sighed happily. "Why don't you go to your room, freshen up and then come downstairs? I will prepare something delicious for you and then you can tell me all about your day at school." "Yes!" Ryan jumped excitedly. He quickly left his bag with Emilia and ran towards the elevator. Emilia watched happily as he left and shook her head. She started going towards the staircase but before she even took a turn, something fell from Ryan's bag, a photo. Emilia stopped in her tracks and then quickly turned and found the photo up to the entrance. She quickly rushed there and leaned down to pick it up. But something happened, something that scared the shit out of her. The moment her eyes landed on that photo, she saw the person that was there and before she came to terms with what she saw, her eyes again landed on a pair of cute designer's shoes. Emilia felt her heart race instantly as a shiver ran down her spine to her brain. She slowly moved her eyes up and when her eyes met with a pair of beautiful green eyes, she gasped in shock as her heart gave a sharp pound in her chest. It was Antonio and he was staring down at her like he wanted to tear her to pieces. He was breathing heavily, his fists clenched and his jaws shaking. Seeing his state, Emilia felt like someone had just injected poison in her system. She had seen that look before and she knew that he was angry. With a groan, Emilia quickly picked up the photo and then gripped it in her hand, hoping her son hadn't seen it. She was really scared and her hands visibly shook. She slowly rose to her feet and came face to face with her son. He was so damn mad. "Antonio, I..." Antonio raised his hand, gesturing his mother to keep quiet. He was so mad that his heart pounded so painfully in his chest. "How dare you bring bad omen into my house?" He snapped, his finger becoming shaky. "How dare you?" His voice was so loud that it scared the elderly woman. "Antonio, I... the thing is..." "At least, you don't have to pretend that you regret everything and that you care about me." He chuckled bitterly, shaking his head angrily. "You simply don't care about anyone except your selfishness and this..." He furiously gripped the photo from her and without even looking at it ripped it to shreds and threw it on her face. Emilia closed her eyes, trying to suppress her tears but they came rolling. She was so much in pain. "You call me your son but you don't care about me!" He glowered, his voice filling the entire living room. "You don't have to pretend anymore. You can continue living your fake dreams that... that..." He grimaced when he remembered the name of the person he had come to hate the most. "...he was such a nice man. He never cheated you!" He chuckled bitterly, reopening Emilia's wounds. "It's visible on your face that you still live in dreams that..." "Please..." Emilia sniveled, shaking her head. "What?" Antonio snapped. "Don't you wanna see this family sad?" He yelled, making her take a step back. "You just want all of us to suffer but guess what?" He clenched his fist, yelling in her face. "No matter what you try to do, I am very strong. You can never bring me down. No matter what you do to me, you'll fail and let me warn you, mother..." He said it in such a way that Emilia's heart bled. "...if you wanna stay in this house then you better live by my rules otherwise you'll find yourself outside. I don't care about what you think you play in my life but I won't hesitate to throw you out." He took one long angry look at her before he hissed and started leaving but... "Just a minute, Antonio!" Hearing that voice, Antonio quickly turned and found his brother coming towards him with the angriest look he had ever seen on him. He was wearing a black designer's suit, black shoes with his hair gelled. Eduardo rushed to him and stood in front of his mother, holding her tightly. "How dare, Antonio!" He yelled, pointing angrily at her. "Who gave you the right to speak to my mother like that?" To say Antonio was surprised would be an understatement. In the past six years, he had never heard his brother speak to him like that before. "For so long, I have kept quiet but I won't allow you to speak to mother like that." "Eduardo, listen..." "No, you listen!" Eduardo seethed, breathing like a predator. "Ever since that boy betrayed you, you've been venting your anger on her. First, it was alcohol but all you do is shout at her." Emilia slowly rubbed her tears but they wouldn't go. She was so much in pain. "By constantly shouting at her, are you trying to prove that you're very strong? That you have no feelings whatsoever? That you don't care about anything?" Antonio just stared at his brother, his face getting blank. His hands were slowly clenching and his anger was rising. "That boy left our house six years ago and we've never heard from him, ever!" He yelled, raising his finger. Emilia was trying to stop him but he didn't even look at her once. "And this anger that you repeatedly express on mother is not meant for her but yourself." Antonio felt his eyes becoming watery. The pain that hit him at that point was unbearable. His fists began trembling uncontrollably and his breaths became harsh. He was looking at his brother, feeling all the pain and anger getting intense. "You're getting angry at that boy..." He chuckled bitterly, getting closer to him. "...because even today, you still love him a lot." A tear went down Antonio's cheek which he furiously rubbed and looked away for a second. But when he looked at his brother again, he was so damn pissed that he saw red. But one thing had him glued were he stood. He couldn't move. Eduardo chuckled mockingly when he saw that look on his brother's face. "You can do whatever you want. You can continue this drama of being normal, hating on everyone, and pretending to be strong. But remember this, Mr. Rodriguez..." He warned. "...however mom is, she's still better than you. All of us are better than you. Because she and all of us have accepted that whatever we went through had broken us. We were shattered but we did not run away from the truth like you." Eduardo shook his head pitifully and held his crying mother tightly. "Let's go, mom!" Emilia rubbed her tears and then stared at her angry and hurt looking son before she went away with Eduardo. She could tell that he was deeply hurt. '...even today, you love that boy a lot!' Eduardo's words rang in Antonio's head. Antonio groaned in anger and stormed out of the living room like the hounds of hell were after him. He went to his room and furiously closed the door that everyone in the house saw it. Then he quickly started rushing to the bathroom and reaching there, he furiously washed his face while trying to get rid of the words his brother had used on him. He was so much in pain. It hurt like hell. He took a deep breath, raised his face only to stare into his reflection in the mirror. He could see the anger on his face and he could have sworn he saw his face turn red. 'You love that boy a lot!' "No!" He hissed, clenching his fist. Even with water on his face, he could see tears in his eyes and it made him hate himself. "These are the last tears I will ever shed for you." His voice was so raw and harsh. "I used to love you boundlessly but not for betrayal. Right now, my hatred is more boundless than my love. I used to be happy but you took all that away from me. But not anymore..." He angrily rubbed his face, his jaws shaking uncontrollably. "Enough of this distress and pain of getting reminded of you. Now neither will I get distressed nor will I let anyone distress me?" He chuckled bitterly, smiling like an evil warlock. "I will not live in the memories of a cheater or a whore. I hate cheaters!" He barked, hitting his hand on the mirror. "And you better pray that I don't set my eyes on you because now..." He laughed maniacally. "...all that love has turned to limitless hatred. Wherever you've been hiding... better not come out because you've made an eternal enemy. I hate you so much!" Antonio continued looking in the mirror, vowing in his heart that he wasn't gonna suffer anymore. *** The door to the classy two-floor mansion that could easily pass for a king's palace opened and there emerged Vanessa, a really beautiful and classy woman wearing an orgasmic smile on her face while cat walking like she was on a model on the runway. Being rich, classy, and sexy for a woman of her age, Vanessa was known as a woman of high fashion. She was wearing a brilliant blue designer's dress which reached her knees, designed by one of the best designers's in the world, red high heels on her feet and her hair curled and then just loose. It was a beautiful shoulder length caramel-colored hair and her face was beautifully glowing with makeup. She was a happy woman and that day was just special for her. Vanessa lived in a really beautiful, big, mansion with everything that any classy person would ever need. It had 23 bedrooms and each room had a luxurious modern bathroom, a walk-in closet, and a lot of other things. The compound was big with a luxury pool, a big garage, a huge security gate, and surrounded by a high-security wall fence. It was beautiful. The house was also surrounded by guards that offered extra protection and maids that helped keep the place clean. "Finally!" Vanessa breathed when she saw a beautiful, black expensive car nearing where she was. A smile popped up her face and she got goosebumps. She was excited. The car parked right where she was and she quickly rushed to it. A blackguard, dressed in a black designer's suit with black glasses got out and opened the back door. Vanessa felt her heart miss a beat as soon as the door opened, revealing a beautiful blonde lady dressed in a pink dress with a white flat shoe and her hair tied in a ponytail. She had a smile on her face and Vanessa couldn't help but smile even brighter. "Claudia!" Vanessa said, her eyes fixed on the car. "Madame!" Claudia said with a brilliant smile. "Where's he?" "Err..." Claudia stammered, still wearing a smile on her gorgeous face. "He said he had to go somewhere really important. That's why he couldn't come with us. He took the other car and told us to come straight home." Vanessa lost the smile on her face for a few seconds, folding her arms on her chest. She got a bit worried. "Somewhere? Where could he have gone? Did he say anything?" Claudia shook her head. "Nothing." Vanessa sighed gloomily. "Okay, and where's Sean?" Hearing the sweet name, Vanessa couldn't miss the joy that she felt in her heart. "He's in the car sleeping," Claudia said with a smile. "He got tired and slept off as soon as we arrived. I will go and..." "No, it's fine!" She gestured. "Get the bags and I will get him." Claudia bowed and quickly left. Vanessa was still worried because she had no idea what to think of where he had gone to. But her worries vanished when she opened the car door and laid her eyes on the beautiful smiling soul. She couldn't do anything but just stare. It was a sight to see. *** Loud music from drums could be heard... people cheering at the top of their voices, carrying all kinds of things, women, men, and children dancing joyfully, and people singing while playing with colors on the road. It was the day of the almighty, the day that people celebrated with colors because they thanked the Lord almighty for bringing color into their lives. There were lots of people celebrating, foods, drinks, and decorations. It was really beautiful and although it was mostly celebrated by the poor, the day was always joyful. And there he was, walking on barefoot on a path that led to the temple... He didn't care about the place being dirty or how he was dressed... He was holding a prayer plate with offers for the almighty and a small lamp as per tradition... The day was a bit windy, blowing his long hair backward... He was dressed in an all-white attire with a long white scarf wrapped around his neck... His eyes were fixed forward, staring straight at the temple. People were busy staring at him, wondering who he was and why he was walking barefooted on the dirt path. 'Five years ago, I left this place brokenhearted, weak, and vulnerable. I was heartbroken, suffered greatly, tormented, and humiliated. My life ended, almost, but only the almighty save and gives people second chances. I have now become convinced that God thoroughly enjoys fixing and saving things that are broken. No matter how hurt and defeated you feel, no matter how badly you have been damaged, God can repair you. God can give anyone a second chance. Everyone has a past. I have mine... Like someone once told me, 'The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.' But everything that has happened to me has only shown that I can rise amid a dark and shaking moment. But not without the almighty's blessings.' He reached the temple entrance and as soon as he took the first step inside, a really strong wind began blowing everywhere and he could feel its impact. But even though the wind blew strongly, the lamp on his prayer plate didn't go off. It rather just glowed even brighter. And though he didn't even notice it, as soon as he made his first step inside the temple, he started leaving red footprints on the floor, leading to the statue of the idol that seemed to be smiling at him with its hand-stretched as if it was blessing him. He reached the front and then knelt at the foot of the statue, looking straight at it with a stern face. Then he took some flowers from the plate and carefully placed them at the feet of the almighty. Then he took the plate, bowed, and placed it on the table nearby. He put his hands together, his eyes fixed on the statue... "I don't know why I missed you all of a sudden today." He said in a sweet but emotional tone. "I wanted to thank you. I didn't say anything to you the last time I was here. Whenever I feel, there's no reason to smile in life..." He paused and breathed in deeply. "...you give me a reason. I thank you the most..." Tears began building in his eyes. "...you have given me a reason to live and not just to smile." He glanced at the floor, feeling emotions building up inside of him like a tornado. "I was drowning in the waves like a straw. You've given me support. No matter how much I go astray, you always bring me back on track. So thank you!" He closed his eyes and started praying to the almighty. *** 6 years ago * Santiago and Richard came rushing to the holy river and got the shock of their lives when they saw a crowd of people staring into the water while talking among themselves in fear and shock. They could hear the people saying that someone had committed suicide in the holy river. Santiago's eyes quickly moved to the water and when he saw a body floating deep underwater, he didn't need to be a genius to know that that body was... "Praveen!" Santiago hollered, feeling his heart go cold instantly. "Praveen! No!" He started rushing to the water with Richard behind him and wanted to dive in but the people caught him. "What do you think you're doing?" They asked, holding him tighter. Santiago tried to fight but there were a lot of hands holding him. "Let me go!" He cried, trying all he could to let himself free. "Please, he's dying." "You cannot go in there!" The people told him. "It is a sacrilege without the assistance of a priest. Besides, that body has been in the water for quite some time. He's dead already." "No!" Richard cried, trying to go in the water but the people caught him too. "Not now, no!" He wept, shaking his head. "Please, my son... I need to save him. I cannot lose him after finding him, please!" Richard felt a sharp pain in his heart, feeling like his heart was being ripped to shreds. But he ignored it. All he wanted was to save his son. "Praveen, please..." Santiago's cries were painful. Everyone that heard knew the guy was in so much. "...please, I have to save him." He cried, dropping to his knees. Santiago dropped his eyes to the ground and cried unlike before. He was ready to trade his life for Praveen's. He didn't want him to die, not a painful death like that. He couldn't take it because Praveen was so important in his life. The pain he felt at that time was unlike anything he had ever felt before. With a sharp groan, Santiago furiously rubbed his tears and raised his eyes to the heavens. He had no idea where he got the energy from or where all the anger came from. "Once again..." He screamed, breathing like he was in a war. "...once again you've managed to prove to me that you're weak and useless." His voice was so loud that people covered their mouths when they heard him. They were shocked by his words. "Just once, once I thought you could answer my prayer and show me that you're not that useless after all." He screamed. His heart was racing and his pain was unbearable. "But here we're are again with you showing how useless and undependable you are. I asked you..." He paused and sobbed. The anger in his voice couldn't be masked. "... I begged you... I knelt in front of you and I cried too. But you ignored all that because you can't do anything. You're not that powerful." He furiously rubbed his tears but they came flowing again. "A boy that has always depended on you always talks about you and following your every teaching. Why did you do this to him? A boy that has suffered unjustly and he's been nothing but faithful to you. He's been devoted to you since he was young. This is the same boy that made me start to believe in you once again." He screamed, clenching his fist. "I begged you to save him and I would dedicate my entire life to you but once again, you've proved you're useless. Now listen to me..." He warned, raising his finger. "...if Praveen dies, then I promise you that I, Santiago, will make sure that you seize to exist too." He didn't know how he was gonna do it but he was gonna do it. "I will make sure that I taint your name in such a way that no one else will ever pray to you." He groaned, running out of breath. "This is your chance to prove me wrong and show that you exist and you're powerful and not useless! Prove it, damn it!" He screamed. Lightning split the sky terribly, scaring everyone that was there. Then all of a sudden, something scary happened, something that made everyone feel awed. As soon as lightning split the sky, it was followed by a loud roaring thunder that sounded like an angry voice. Then suddenly, water started making a loud noise like it was boiling, and then... a loud splashing sound was heard. The river opened up and the next moment, Praveen's body was flying in the air towards the edge. The river threw him at the edge and his body was lying there, all wet. Everyone looked in shock, including Santiago and Richard. Then everyone started rushing there. Santiago ran to Praveen and when he reached him, he knelt, held his hand, and started checking for a pulse. Santiago smiled, chuckling softly while tears followed. "He's still alive!" He cried happily, looking at Richard who was equally smiling. "He's alive!" Richard couldn't mask the happiness inside him. The moment he looked at his son's face, he felt joyous and at peace. It was something that he hadn't felt in a long time. He quickly took his son's hand and kissed it, thanking God that he had been saved. "Thank you!" Santiago put his hands together, raising his eyes to the heavens with tears flowing. "Thank you so much. I will forever dedicate my life to you." He took Praveen's hand sweetly and looked at the happily crying man. "I am sorry, sir, I have no idea how you're related to him but thank you so much. We need to take him to a doctor!" "Let's take him to the temple first." The people suggested. "There's a doctor nearby. We'll call her for you." Santiago carefully took Praveen in his arms and took him to the temple where they found the priest smiling when he saw them. It didn't take long before the doctor came and examined Praveen. But then, he had some shocking news for them. "Doctor, how's he?" "He's fine!" The doctor said, staring at the sleeping boy. "There's nothing wrong with him or maybe not that serious. I don’t even know what to say to you right now. It’s so confusing." The doctor looked tense and shocked. She was together with the smiling priest. "What do you mean by that?" Santiago gasped, feeling his heart begin to race. "Well... err... maybe it will be better if the priest tells you because I don’t know what to say to you. He... well, he..." "What?" Richard gasped, feeling hot all of a sudden. "What's wrong with my son? He's he going..." "Nothing is wrong with him. The almighty has just decided to give him another reason to live." The priest chuckled, smiling brightly at the confused men. Richard and Santiago looked at each other confusedly. "But..." "He's pregnant!" The doctor hollered, followed by a gulp. "I just examined him and... it seems he's two weeks pregnant." *** Present-day * He opened his eyes widely, a harsh breath escaping from him. His heart raced as he raised his face and looked at the statue, feeling like something had possessed him. His eyes were teary and his body felt energized all of a sudden. He fixed his gaze on the almighty and felt a strong wind hit his face, blowing his hair backward. Then he clenched his fist, showing it to the statue! "Never again..." It has just begun...
  7. The whole room was lit up, not by light but by wonderful decorations that made the entire house glitter. Beautiful golden and silver decors were placed almost everywhere... Colourful gold splattered balloons hang on the doorway and in every corner and also on the chandeliers. A huge banner in front with golden words, 'Congratulations to Andrea and Santiago on your engagement' hang there, literally reminding anyone in there that forgot what they were doing there in the first place. Funny! Brightly coloured lights were moving around in circles, giving that delicious party drive which always seemed to drive people nuts. Everything from beautiful, expensive designer's curtains, nets, and every cloth there was so classy and almost from out of this world. It was wonderful, gorgeous, and beautiful, name it. There was a stage in front that had been made with beautiful decorations surrounding it on which two pure silver chairs were placed with all the other items that were needed for that particular event. People from all walks of life, the rich, the famous, models, musicians, businessmen, name it were all in attendance, dressed in the most beautiful attires that they could put their hands on. Everyone seemed to be classy, elegant, and rich. The party itself screamed grand because of the people and all the decorations. Also people from different media houses, fashion houses and newspapers and magazines were in attendance with their cameras ready, capturing every moment and ready to interview. It was Andrea's engagement party, a classy and gorgeous party that got everyone talking in the city. It was being held in the party room at their house. Some youtube and TV channels were showing the party live, after all, she was the daughter of a really important family in the city and also the sister of a famous, sexy musician, Antonio Gonzalez. It was the least they could do. It was being viewed by millions on youtube and also on social media. They'd hired the best events management company for everything and also celebrity entertainers. Everyone knew that it was going to be the engagement party of the year. Santiago's and Andrea's admirers were also there to witness the engagement for themselves to finally say goodbye to the two souls being single because, in a few weeks, it was gonna be the wedding. And here was Antonio, standing elegantly and stylish, posing for some pictures with his friend, Ethan, both with smiles on their faces. Antonio was dressed in a really expensive, imported black designer's suit with a green shirt inside and pitch-black shoes. His hair was made into textured falling quaff, making him extra sexy and his beards made in sexy chin strap style. Everyone that saw him was completely in a dream world. Ethan on the other hand was wearing a black designer's trousers, blue shirt, and white blazer, and black and white shoes. He was looking sexy with his hair made into a textured pompadour and that smile which made women and men crazy. Granny, Grandma Katy, Emilia, and Emma too were looking amazing in blue, green, red, and yellow designer dresses respectively with Emilia and Emma killing it with really high heels. They were looking amazing, Emma with her hair in a simple and elegant twisted topknot and Emilia with silky semi-high bun with puffy top. They were also wearing expensive jewelry that graced them. Eduardo too was amazing in a grey imported, sexy, designer's suit that fitted him like a god with a green shirt inside and gray shoes. His hair was made into disconnected undercuts and his beards were trimmed short. Everyone was looking perfect. Santiago on the other hand was the man of the night and he was looking the best. He was putting on a blood-red designer's suit which had a sparkling touch, red designer's shoes with a white designer's shirt inside. His hair was made in Ivy League style which revealed his sexy face with well-trimmed beards. One of his hands was in the pocket as he talked to some of his friends and fans with nosy media people taking photos of him. "Who'd have known that this day would come so soon?" Ethan asked, smiling at the cameras. "I did." Antonio's eyes were fixed on the cameras, doing his best to smile. "Andrea is a really beautiful lady and sooner or later, I knew some guy was gonna sweep her off her feet. I am gonna miss her, really much." "It's not like she's getting married just yet." Ethan chuckled happily, doing his best to smile. "You two still have a lot of time together. Thank you!" He said to the cameramen as he took his friend away. "But there's something I have been dying to ask you?" "What?" Antonio was now staring at his friend. "You've been acting weird since you came back from getting Grandma Katy." He didn't need to beat about the bush. "Is everything, okay? I noticed this even when we were at the meeting. You seemed disturbed but I couldn't talk to you because of..." Antonio patted on his friend's shoulder, smiling sheepishly. "I am okay." "Can you lie to my face like that?" Ethan frowned, raising his eyebrow. "Tell me what's going. I am really worried because you haven't been yourself." Antonio sighed, biting his lip. Ethan was right. There was a lot that was going on in his life that he had failed to understand. First of all, since that night with Praveen, his life hadn't been the same and with what Praveen had told him, he was just more confused. He had refused Bruce from getting close to him and had wanted several times to confess to Praveen what he had been feeling lately but didn't dare to tell him. "I have been wanting to say something to Praveen for a long time, now bro." He said, losing the smile on his face. "Each time I face him, I lose my courage and end up being speechless." Ethan was confused and that frown on his face wasn't enough to express how confused he was. He was looking at Antonio weirdly, trying to get some sense out of what he had said. "What's that you've been..." "This night isn't only special for Andrea, bro." He said, now smiling when he thought about the mind-blowing kiss he had shared with Praveen that night. He was blushing and it left Ethan stunned. "It is also special for Praveen and I. I am gonna have the courage to confess what I feel deep inside. I will tell him right in front of everyone what I have been keeping in my heart." By that time, Ethan's eyes were so wide that he thought they were gonna pop out of his sockets. He slowly used his fingers to clean his ears so that he could hear what his friend had just said. "Bro, did you just use Praveen and feelings in the same sentence?" He asked in awe, shaking his head. "Are you sure you don't need to see a doctor?" Antonio lost the smile on his face, slowly hitting his friend's arm. "You know what, Ethan, you're talking too much. I'll tell you everything, okay? Just trust me." "I trust you." Antonio nodded and then opened his mouth to speak but before any word came out of his mouth, the lights got dim and suddenly, everyone started clapping and cheering. Antonio quickly turned to see what was going on and his eyes just met a dashing view on the staircase, where the spotlight was focused. It was Andrea coming down the stairs with a brilliant smile on her face. She had a beautiful, long, sky blue designer's princess gown which sparkled like diamonds on, which she was holding with silver high heels on her feet with a golden tiara on her head that sparkled too. Her hair was made into waterfall braids that made her beautiful and she was glowing with beautiful blue makeup. Her face had the most beautiful smile Antonio had ever seen on her and the diamonjewelry on her couldn't even compare to her beauty. Antonio felt tears forming in his eyes and he felt like rushing there but not to his sister... but the boy beside her who was holding her, guiding her down the staircase, Praveen. Shit! Antonio had never seen anyone as beautiful as Praveen, or he hadn't bothered to notice back then. Seeing Praveen, Antonio's heart started racing as his hormones started preying on him. Praveen was wearing a sexy pink designer's shirt that washalfway buttoned, revealing his sexy chest and a white designer's skinny jeans that fit him perfectly, revealing his curvaceous body that made Antonio gulp as he felt hot suddenly, with white shoes on his feet. His hair was made into a braided ponytail, revealing his hairless, smooth and sexy face that sent Antonio to worlds beyond. He was putting on his spectacles but was looking beautiful, amazing, gorgeous, wonderful, every word that Antonio could remember. He couldn't get his eyes off his husband because he was yummy. Seeing Praveen coming down gracefully together with Andrea, Antonio had no idea where he got the courage from but right there, he knew he was gonna make that night special for Praveen. He was gonna tell him something he should have told him already. He had something special planned for Praveen right in front of everyone. On the other side, Celine was holding Andrea and she was wearing a black designer's dress, green high heels, and her hair was curled which made her look beautiful. Behind was Bruce with a black designer's suit, black shoes, and a white shirt. He had to look gorgeous for Andrea and of course, for Antonio. His hair was combed backward, revealing his gorgeous face and lovely smile. The four people were now the attention of everyone there. When they came downstairs, media people surrounded Andrea as she posed for photos, doing her best to smile. She was just excited that night and she knew it was gonna get better. Praveen stood at a distance, watching with a smile as media people surrounded Andrea and Bruce to take pictures. He was happy for Andrea although she didn't deserve it. But most especially, he was happy for his friend that deserved happiness. Praveen and Antonio's wedding wasn't even that grand. It had been just a small ceremony, a traditional wedding and they didn't even have an engagement party. But he never minded since he was never into classy things. "You look really beautiful." Praveen heard a voice that got out of his thoughts. He turned slowly to find the most beautiful eyes, staring into his and a beautiful smile that melted his soul. He couldn't help but chuckle, staring at the guy like he hadn't expected to see him. "Santiago, you..." He paused, pointing towards Andrea. "Why?" Santiago opened his arms, moving closer to Praveen. "Didn't you expect to see me here?" "No!" He shook his head, now staring at Santiago from head to toe. "I was expecting you to be with Andrea. I am just surprised that you're here." "Really?" Santiago winked, making Praveen smile brightly. "And you didn't answer me when I said you looked beautiful, really beautiful." He was getting closer and closer as he spoke. "You're really beautiful, Praveen." Praveen blushed, slightly closing his eyes. He had no idea why his heart was racing like that. "Thank you and I..." He pointed at the man. "...I have no words to tell you how you look tonight. You're amazing and tonight's your night. Now go and..." "Are you chasing me?" Santiago chuckled, folding his arms on his chest. "No, I mean yes," Praveen nodded. "I am sure Andrea is waiting for you." Andrea, Santiago thought as he took a sigh of relief. "I know but she's probably busy with the photoshoots so..." He shrugged, shaking his head. "...while she's at that, I thought I could spend some time with you. The night is gonna get busy and I probably won't get any time to spend with you due to everything that has to happen and the photos after." "Relax!" Praveen chuckled, gesturing with his hands. "I am not going anywhere." "Well, it's my night and you're gonna grant all my wishes," Santiago said, his face suddenly getting stern. "What?" Praveen gasped. "Is that an order, your highness?" But Santiago was just staring at him without saying anything. "Fine!" He raised his hands, surrendering. "I will grant all your wishes, but just tonight and on your wedding day." "Good!" Santiago rubbed his hands together, his face getting bright with a smile as he'd just won an award. "For starters," He held Praveen's hand, holding it tightly. "Why don't you come with me?" "Where?" "You'll find out!" The two men left happily, hand in hand though Praveen had no idea where the crazy guy was taking him. That was supposed to be one of his happiest days for fuck's sake. * "Excuse me!" Andrea said, getting ahold of her dress while smiling at the cameramen. She started rushing to her family that was standing a distance away from her. She hugged her brother tightly, feeling emotional. Her brother was looking really lovely and she was just so happy to see him. "You look handsome, Antonio!" She screamed, pulling away from him. "I am so happy to see you." Then they just held hands. "It feels like I haven't seen you in a long time." By this time, tears were already forming in her eyes. "You look really beautiful too, just like a princess..." He held her chin, smiling brightly at her. "But you're gonna ruin your makeup if a tear goes down those cheeks, baby. Right now, I want you to know that I am the happiest person in this entire room seeing my Andrea ready to take another step in her life. It almost feels like you're going away this very night." Andrea chuckled, fighting her tears. "I love you so much." "I love you too, sweetie." He then leaned forward and kissed her forehead and both cheeks before giving her a final hug. "Now promise me you'll be really happy." "I promise." Emilia quickly rubbed off tears of mirth as she didn't wanna ruin her makeup. Seeing her two bundles of joy so emotional was just too much for her. She remembered the time when she and her late husband, may his soul rest in peace, had their engagement party. She was just as emotional as her daughter. Emilia hugged her daughter, tears forming again. "You have no idea how happy I am to be part of this day." She said in a cheerful but somehow sad tone. "No mother wouldn't dream of such a day for her daughter. I just wish your father was here." "I know..." She sniveled. "I miss him so much." Andrea hugged both her grandmothers, touching their feet for their blessings. They both blessed her and kissed her as well. She hugged her brother and then her aunt, Emma last. She hugged her tight and Emma even shed some tears. "May no one cast an evil eye on you, my love?" Emma said as she broke the hug. "May you always be happy, sweetie." "Thanks!" Andrea chuckled. Andrea started talking to her family while Antonio's eyes scanned the entire room, dying to take a glimpse of the sweet boy that had somehow done things to him that no one had ever done to him and all that in just a week. As he was busy scanning, his eyes landed on Bruce that had those lustful evil eyes and a smile that would have made him horny instantly but for some reason, he didn't feel that lust anymore. "Hi, Antonio!" Bruce blushed, biting his lips. "I just bought this suit for Andrea's engagement and I hope that you like it." "Yeah," He ripped his gaze from the guy, chuckling sheepishly while scanning for Praveen. But he was nowhere to be seen. "It's nice and thanks but..." He gestured. "I gotta go." He started going away but was pulled back by Grandma Katy. "And where do you think you're going?" She asked, gesturing with her eyes while folding her arms on her chest. "Err.... Granny, you look lovely." He gulped, chuckling like a kid. "...I was just thinking of greeting a friend of mine that I haven't seen in a long time." "Really?" She somehow knew he was lying. "Why does that sound like a lie? You're looking for Praveen, the love of your life, aren't you?" Bruce rolled his eyes, folding his arms angrily. "Stupid old bitch!" He said under his breath. "What?" Antonio chuckled nervously. "No, I..." "Stop denying!" She hit him playfully and then laughed harder, joined by other members of the family including Andrea. Gonzalez was truly having fun. "Anyway, speaking of love..." She moved her gaze to Andrea. "Where's that handsome husband of yours. I haven't seen him?" Andrea smiled, shaking her head. "I saw him when we were coming down the stairs but now..." Before Andrea could finish her sentence, the lights suddenly went off and it became dark. Everyone looked around to see what was wrong, confused because that had never happened before and not on such a day. It was a really important day for Gonzalez because a daughter was getting engaged. "Antonio!" Emilia was worried. "I'll go and check what's wrong." He was about to go when suddenly, the lights turned back on but dim. Then out of the blue, Camilla's "Havana" started playing followed by cheers. Everyone moved their eyes to the front or rather the dance floor. "Well, there's your groom..." Celine pointed, followed by a laugh. Everyone was shocked to see Santiago in front with about 6 celebrity dancers, both male and female. The spotlight had shone on them, making everything visible. But the shocking thing was Santiago was not alone. He was holding Praveen's hand, looking into his eyes like he wanted to be one with him. It was sexy that it got everyone's attention, including the cameramen. Praveen on the other hand was surprised, shy because he hadn't expected Santiago to do that. He tore his eyes away from Santiago, scanning the whole place and found that everyone had their eyes on them. "Havana oh nana," Camila's voice played. "Half of my heart is in Havana oh nana," He looked at the celebrity dancers and the guys had already started dancing beautifully to the song and maybe they were the ones that people were cheering. "Santiago, I..." Too late, Santiago was already starting to move his waist to the song. God! Praveen had never seen Santiago dance before and it was a big surprise. The guy had some skill in him, judging by the way he was moving with the music. He was wearing a suit for God's sake but one could already tell that the guy was a pro. 'He didn't walk up with that how you doing, When he came into the room, He said there's a lot of girls I can do with, But I can't without you," Praveen smiled faintly and tried to move away from the stage but Santiago pulled him back, wrapping his arms tightly around his waist. Praveen tried to move again but the guy spun him around and then they were back to the same position, looking into each other's eyes. "Santiago!" Praveen breathed, feeling his heart start to race. "Don't be afraid." Santiago's eyes were still on Praveen's face. "I am here." He finally let him go and they were now staring at each other with Praveen thinking of what he was gonna do next. He looked at the dancers and they were doing a really good job by going with the flow. He hadn't expected Santiago to bring him for a dance. He wanted to run away from there. He wanted to just go but then.... he remembered that it was a very special day for his friend plus he had promised to grant him every wish. It was his wish that Praveen danced so, Praveen was gonna dance. He slowly started moving his body to the music and the crowd instantly went crazy. The way he was moving his waist, his body,, and those hands surprised everyone, especially Santiago who hadn't thought Praveen was gonna dance. "Hmm..." Santiago smiled brightly and then started dancing. He quickly took Praveen's hand, spun him,, and went behind him, holding his waist close to him. 'He got me feeling like, Ooh-ooh-ooh, I knew it when I met him, I loved him when I left," When Camila sang that part, both Praveen and Santiago started moving their bodies together in rhythm, back and forth as the cheers from the watching crowd got louder. The two people dancing on the floor were chuckling to each other with Praveen's head turned so that he was staring right into Santiago's face as the two danced in harmony. It was sexy, amazing, exotic, and spicy. There were celebrity dancers that were probably even dancing better but everyone had their eyes on Santiago and Praveen. They owned the spotlight at that moment. "Got me feeling like, Ooh-ooh-ooh, And I had to tell him, I had to go... Oh na-na-na-na-na' The two men changed and were now staring at each other, dancing sexily just like the way Camila was dancing with the guy in the video. The song played as the two men showed everyone just how happy they were. The song went to the chorus and Praveen moved away from Santiago, leaving him staring as Praveen joined the celebrity dancers and just made people's mouths gape. The moment he joined the celebrity dancers, he assumed the front position and what happened next surprised everyone including the dancers themselves. Praveen started dancing like a true dancer as he danced, following the same dance steps that the celebrities were using. The guy was in front, not seeing how they were doing it but he killed it. It had taken them three weeks of practice to learn those steps and Praveen did it without even observing them. It was shocking but they couldn't help but smile as the crowd applauded. "Wow!" Celine gasped, her hands finding her chest. "Who would have known Praveen was so good at dancing? Oh my God, this is shocking." Emilia tried to speak but what came out was a gasp. "Celine took words right out of my mouth. That boy never ceases to amaze me. It's like every day, I know a part of him that I had no idea of. If I hadn't known him, I would have said that he was the lead dancer. Just look at him. I couldn't be prouder." Emma rolled her eyes, feeling angry. "Any prouder?" She laughed in mock, giving Emilia a look that she couldn't understand. "That boy is now being a showoff. He just likes to seek attention." "I knew that was coming," Katy said, clapping while staring at Emma. "But coming from you, I am not surprised. Let the young enjoy their lives. Attention seeker or not, Praveen is doing a good job by making this party livelier. I was starting to feel like we were at the red carpet show with all these interviews going on." Great, Emma thought as she folded her arms on her chest. Just what she needed, another headache to be added to her. Wasn't Emma and her mother enough? Did her mother's younger sister have to come and ruin her life? Shouldn't she have been at a mountain somewhere, praying? It was annoying. "Finally, someone to tell her the truth." Granny laughed when she saw the frown on her daughter's face. "Don't make yourself look ugly, darling. Enjoy the party." While both Andrea and Bruce were in shock, staring at Praveen like they had seen a ghost, Antonio was looking at him lovingly, feeling his heart race. He somehow felt a bit jealous because Santiago was dancing with Praveen when it was him that was supposed to be dancing with Praveen. But all in all, he couldn't have been happier. He just looked with a smile on his face, following Praveen's every move. He was proud because none of those dancers had anything against Praveen. He was killing them and they were supposed to be killing it. Santiago quickly took off his jacket, throwing it furiously to the floor as Praveen came to him just as young thug started singing his part. The two guys started dancing just like that part when young thug was singing, dancing like two pros. Santiago had his hands all over Praveen's body as the danced. Praveen was so fast that he didn't even know where he got that courage or the spirit from. Maybe it was because he wanted to make Santiago happy by fulfilling his every wish that day. "Havana oh na-na-na," Santiago took Praveen's waist and lifted him in the air while Praveen spread his hands gracefully like they were wings. Santiago spun him in the air as the dancers surrounded them. He brought him down and they danced beautifully as before. Santiago pulled Praveen closer to his body then leaned forward closer to his face, staring into his eyes just as the song concluded. The song was done but the two guys continued being in that position like they wanted to kiss, smiling brightly at each other. It was when everyone started clapping loudly when they got back to themselves and stood, still facing each other with smiles. "Wow!" Santiago sounded out of breath. "That was amazing. I had no idea that you can dance like that, I swear." "Well...." Praveen chuckled nervously, running his fingers through his hair. "...I did choreography back in high school for three years so I can say I am a pro at dancing. Plus, I know the song like the back of my hand." He laughed, raising his eyebrow. "But you should warn me next time before you attempt to do this again. You caught me by surprise and..." He paused, taking a breath as he put his hands on his hips. "Really?" He shook his head, leaned down, and picked up the jacket. He then handed it to him and felt him chuckle. "Did you have to take off your jacket?" he raised his eyebrow, shaking his head. "I had to." Santiago got the jacket and started putting it back on, still staring into Praveen's eyes. His heart was racing and he wanted to say something to him. "I mean when you dance with such a magnificent dancer like yourself..." He whistled, shaking his head. "...you just have to be ready. That's what my instinct told me at that time. By the way, sorry for the..." He pointed to Praveen's hair. The braid was no longer there. His hair was just a simple ponytail. It was a miracle his glasses were still intact. Praveen touched his hair and smiled. "That's nothing. But, don't also forget that you're a groom and by the way..." his face got stern. "...I wasn't supposed to have this dance with you. Andrea was supposed to dance with you." And he was glad she didn't, he thought as he smiled even brighter. Praveen was the best person he was with at that time and he wished that dance hadn't ended at all. He wished it had continued the entire night so that he would have been close to Praveen as they had been. "Like I said..." "No, before you tell me to dance again," He said, gesturing with his hands. "I gotta run." He quickly turned and then rushed out of that place, smiling at the happy faces. He just wanted to get lost in the crowd but he wasn't so lucky as he felt someone pull his arm. Before he even knew what was going on, he found himself dangerously close to the man that had driven his mind crazy the past one week. He felt his heart instantly begin to race as he got engulfed in a powerful flame that set his feelings on fire... he could feel adrenaline making him weak... his breaths came out harshly as he connected with the most beautiful eyes he had ever had a chance of looking into. For some reason, Praveen's mouth shook uncontrollably as he found himself getting hypnotized with each second. "Antonio!" His voice was barely above a whisper. "I thought I could get my dance," Antonio said with a smile, his eyes looking into Praveen's very soul. "Are you gonna deny me that?" Praveen had no idea what Antonio was doing to him. He wanted to go away from him, run away but he found himself getting weak. "Well, err... the dance is..." "Not now, silly..." Antonio chuckled happily, wondering where his courage had come from. "...later and you owe me that." "Antonio, I..." "Shh..." Antonio's finger was quick to reach Praveen's lips. "...you don't have to say anything today. I am the one who's gonna do the talking and you're gonna do the listening. Today your husband will speak and you will listen." He did something really surprising right there. He leaned down and placed a kiss on Praveen's cheek but making sure that their lips touched. Praveen was shocked. Antonio had been acting weird the past one week and now he was doing that. He thought he was dreaming but... "Don't be scared." Antonio winked, his hands moving to Praveen's waist. Praveen had never felt the sensations he felt when Antonio touched his waist like that. It was as if Antonio's hands were ice cold. "I got you. Your husband is with you tonight." Praveen thought he was dreaming. Was Antonio acting like that because there were guests, he thought as the entire world disappeared from them? But no, he didn't even care about Praveen even in front of people. "Antonio, I wanted to..." "As I said, your husband will talk tonight and you'll listen." He said with a promise in his heart. "Just trust me and I will not disappoint you." Praveen wanted to say something but... "Ladies and gentlemen, let's give it up for the man of the night, Santiago and my brother-in-law turned brother, Praveen Antonio Gonzalez for such a special performance." Everyone started clapping as Praveen smiled at everyone, getting away from Antonio. But the crazy guy still held him. "Now the moment we have all been waiting for has arrived." Eduardo continued. "Yes!" Celine agreed, talking louder in the microphone. "It is that time of the night where we get to witness the engagement of two special souls." The engagement ceremony started with a few announcements from Celine and Eduardo. Andrea and Santiago took their seats on the special chairs, took off their shoes, and just sat there. Being the youngest and recently newlywed couple in that function, Praveen and Antonio were given the honor of performing the rituals that were involved in the engagement ceremony. First, there was an exchange of gifts between the two families of the bride and groom and since Santiago's brother who was dressed smartly was the only family member of Santiago present, he had to do everything for his brother. Then the rituals started. Praveen and Antonio had to wash the feet of Santiago together with milk and then dry it with a pure white towel. After that, they had to pour honey on the feet and they wash them with milk again before wiping them again and putting expensive powder there. Then they had to put new shoes on his feet. This was all done as a sign of showing respect to your in-laws before marriage. Santiago's brother did the same to Andrea. Praveen didn't know if it was his imagination but he could have sworn that Antonio was flirting with him, staring at him for a long time and deliberately touching his hands as they washed the groom's feet. Though he hadn't said anything, deep down he felt really happy because he was seeing a side of his husband that he had been yearning to see. Andrea and Santiago finally exchanged rings and Santiago kissed Andrea's cheek for reasons known to himself. All the rituals finished and now reached the part which everyone was waiting for, the dance between the engaged couple. Santiago slowly took Andrea's hand as, "Perfect," by Ed Sheeran started playing while everyone watched in excitement. "I found the love for me, Darling just dive right in, And follow my lead, I found the girl, beautiful and sweet I never knew you were that someone waiting for me," Santiago had his hands wrapped loosely around Andrea's waist as Andrea's hands wrapped themselves around Santiago's neck. They were close to each other, staring into each other's eyes with Andrea wearing a really beautiful, genuine smile on her face. Santiago on the other hand was trying his best to smile. Being so close to Andrea in front of so many people felt like nothing he had expected it was gonna be. It was really weird and he had no idea why he was feeling that way. Dancing with Praveen had felt amazing, gorgeous and he had wished that the dance had continued until morning. But now that he was dancing with his fiancé, someone he was gonna marries in a few weeks, it was really weird and he felt nervous and tense. He tried his best to smile at Andrea but he knew that the smile he was giving her was not genuine. It was fake. "Aren't they cute?" Emma said, feeling tears in her eyes. "They're gonna be the best couple in the country, I tell you. They look so good together." "Yeah," Granny agreed. She couldn't deny that. "Santiago and Andrea sure look cute but I think Antonio and Praveen are the cutest couple ever. I don't mean to be choosy but I am telling the truth." "Yes, mother..." Even Emilia couldn't agree more. "...there's just something about them that makes me happy." She moved her eyes to where they were standing and almost cried when she saw Antonio staring at the smiling Praveen whose eyes were on the couple on the dancing floor. "Just look at them. You can tell that they're so much in love." Everyone moved their eyes to where Antonio and Praveen stood and they couldn't help but smile, all except for Emma. She was really mad because she hated Praveen and Antonio was staring at him like an idiot. "Well, that's your opinion," Emma said, furiously dropping her hands. "You can think whatever you want." She quickly turned and went away, cursing. She was mad. She went to get some food and drinks so that she could get away from all the drama that was going on at the party which she was supposed to be enjoying. Antonio's eyes couldn't tear away from the beautiful boy that he was with. He was staring at him, dying to confess his feelings to him so that they could live happily together. But he couldn't do it at that time. He was gonna do it at a time when he had planned and he was gonna share a kiss with him too, right in front of everyone. He had decided that it was the time to go with his feelings and take responsibility for what he had done and his duties as well. Bruce on the other was staring at Praveen and Antonio, gripping hard on the glass of champagne to the point where it almost broke. Veins had shot up his neck, his eyes red and his jaw shaking uncontrollably. He wanted to throw that glass he was holding right at Praveen's face and watch him bleed to death. "No," He thought, tears of anger forming in his eyes. "I will not allow you Antonio to get close to that boy. Now I know that you've been treating badly the previous week because of that whore. I own you, Antonio and I won't allow that boy to succeed in sleeping with you. I'll make sure he leaves this house without getting a taste of your joystick because it belongs to me just like you." Seeing Antonio looking at Praveen with so much love was killing Bruce. The fact that he was close to Antonio was bad enough. He wanted to vent but he didn't wanna ruin his friend's party because she was never gonna forgive him. "This isn't fair!" He groaned, furiously moving away from that place. "I need to get away from them." The couple on the dance floor was busy dancing, going with the music while everyone still watched in admiration. 'Baby I.... am dancing in the dark With you between my arms Barefoot on the grass Listening to our favorite song I have faith in what I see," The song was almost done and Santiago hadn't enjoyed any part of it. "I hope I am not disappointing a great dancer like you?" Andrea said with a chuckle as Santiago slowly spun her around. Santiago chuckled nervously as they got back to the position they were in. "Don't flutter me with such words. I am not a great dancer. I was just trying to suit with you brother in law, he's the great dancer." "Well, I thought you were great, both of you." Andrea commented, making Santiago smile brightly. "Praveen always surprises me with one thing or the other and I never thought he could dance like that. He didn't even dance like that in my brother's music videos." "Hmm..." Santiago sighed, still wearing that gorgeous smile. "Guess, I am the lucky one." "You truly are." Andrea chuckled happily, staring into the eyes of her man. "I hope that one day, I'll be able to dance like him." "It's not too late," Santiago said softly. "There are still a few weeks before our wedding. You can learn something and surprise us all on that day." Andrea breathed in deeply. "You're right. Today it was your turn but the next one is mine. I'll give you a great surprise." Both of them chuckled and they wanted to continue talking but the song had already ended. They just hugged each other and then moved away to where Andrea's family was standing, clapping with the entire people in that room. "Thank you so much, all of you," Andrea said, hugging her mother tightly. "You guys are the best." "You were great on that floor, honey," Emilia said as she planted a kiss on her daughter's cheek. "I am so proud of you." "Thank you so much," Santiago responded, slowly bowing. He looked at Praveen and both of them smiled at each other. "And right now, I am sure you're hungry and thirsty." Granny Katy said, putting her hands together. "I know this is your party but please, go and eat something." Andrea and Santiago both nodded and they went away to have something to eat while greeting people along the way and posing for photos because everyone wanted piece of the two of them and they couldn't resist them. "You too, Praveen!" Granny said with a smile. "You haven't had anything to eat since this thing started. I am sure you're hungry." "Not really?" Praveen shook his head. "I will eat later." He took a glance at his husband and saw that the guy was still staring at him like he wanted to eat him. Praveen just sighed and looked at his granny, smiling brightly at her while she talked to some people and Emilia, anything to get Antonio out of his shoulder. He was doing his best until... "Ladies and gentlemen, we have a special dance from none other than Antonio Gonzalez and the love of his life, Praveen Gonzalez." Praveen felt his heart sink to his stomach when he heard his name being mentioned like that. He stood still, feeling a powerful wave hit him like a thousand bolts. His heart instantly started racing as he quickly moved his gaze to his husband, staring at him like something bad was about to be done. But all the guy did was just smile even more. He wasn't joking at all. "Can we please have the two lovers to give us a dance, please?" Praveen was still staring at his husband and all the guy did was shrug, still smiling. Praveen tried to speak but at that moment, the spotlight was now shining on them and he remained speechless. He took a glance at the family members and they were all smiling, gesturing him to go ahead. He took a deep breath and almost passed out when he found Antonio on one knee with his hand asking for his, staring into his eyes. Praveen slightly smiled as the people started clapping loudly. He hesitantly extended his hand and put it in his husband's. Antonio placed a kiss on it and the crowd went crazier. He got up, coiled his arm with Praveen's just as Shania Twain's 'When you kiss me," started playing. The two walked slowly to the dance floor and when they reached there, Praveen coiled his arms around Antonio's neck as the guy held his waist tightly. He suddenly felt hot as all kinds of sensations took him by storm. He gulped, raised his face up, and felt Antonio's nose brush on his. His heart started racing miles and miles as his hands trembled and he got nervous. 'This could be it, I think I'm in love, It's love this time, I think I'm in love, It just seems to fit, I think I'm in love, This love is mine. I can see you with me when I am older, All my lonely nights are finally over,' The two slowly moved with the song, staring deep into each other's eyes. For the first time, Antonio felt lucky and for some reason, his heart started pounding in his chest. Having Praveen so close to his body, feeling his hot breaths on his face was giving him really powerful sensations. He felt weak to the point where he started breathing heavily. It instantly got hot and he could feel himself start to sweat. His hand slowly moved to caress Praveen's cheek. Praveen closed his eyes when he felt Antonio's hand on his cheek. It felt incredibly nice and he couldn't help but give out a low moan. Shit! Antonio bit his lip as he stared at Praveen, dying to take his lips and taste them. But not just yet. He moved his hand to Praveen's and slowly turned him so that he had his back to him. He wrapped his arms tightly around his waist, bringing him dangerously close. He rested his head on Praveen's shoulder. Praveen turned his head to look at Antonio and their lips brushed. Both couldn't suppress the moans that escaped from their lips. They were close, their gaze fixed on each other. 'When you kiss me, I know you miss me And when you're with me the world just goes away, The way you hold me, the way you show me, that you adore me Oh, the way you kiss me," The couple was slowly moving to the music, enjoying each other. Both were suddenly overtaken by a myriad of emotions as they danced, love, lust, ecstasy, excitement and to sum it all, need for each other. It was like suddenly the entire world disappeared. It was just the two of them in that room and no one else. They wanted to dance to their heart's content. It was like there was an invisible wind that started blowing on their bodies, bringing them even more emotions. Their hearts were suddenly set on a fiery passion that couldn't be put off. Praveen moved his hands and slowly rubbed on Antonio's hands, for the first time feeling loved and needed by his husband. The way he was staring at him like he wanted to kiss him insanely... the way he was breathing like Praveen had taken his breath away... the way he was licking his lips like Praveen was taking his saliva... The way he was holding him like he wanted them to be one. It was sexy and Praveen didn't wanna move away. He didn't care if what Antonio was doing was just for show but right at that time, he was having the time of his life and he didn't wanna get away from his husband. "Wow, I have never seen Antonio act like that." Emilia's hands were on her chest, feeling her heart pound sharply in her chest. "It's like they've just fallen in love suddenly. I can't believe this." "I don't know, mother..." Celine was speechless. "...with the way Praveen is looking like, anyone is bound to fall in love with him." "Bless my two grandsons, almighty," Katy said, putting her hands together and looked towards the heavens. "Let no one cast an evil eye on them and let them be happy just like that." "Amen!" Granny agreed, equally putting her hands together. "They deserve all the happiness in the world." They just continued watching them. "Praveen..." Antonio didn't sound like himself. His voice sounded low. "...for the past week, I have wanted to speak to you, to tell you exactly what's in my heart. But I didn't dare to talk to you. That's why today, I wanna talk to you." Praveen opened his mouth to respond but unfortunately for him, his voice was gone. He couldn't find it. "I know I have been kinda a jerk to you since we got married and you were right when you got angry with me." He sighed, licking his lips. "But God is my witness, I don't wanna do that anymore. I don't wanna cause you any more pain because right now, Praveen..." He paused and quickly turned him so that they were facing each other, back in the position that they were already in. "...you've become a really important part of my life. That night..." He gulped, feeling his body jerk a bit when he remembered what had happened. "...I never expected that night to be that special to me." He chuckled nervously. "It happened and although I felt guilty after, I didn't regret what happened because that guilt showed me what kind of jerk I have been to you. You're very important to me right now, Praveen!" Praveen was getting emotional and he could feel tears forming in his eyes. His heart raced even faster as his breaths started coming out harshly. A lot was going in his mind but that right there, what his husband was telling him was real and he didn't want it to stop. It was amazing and the few words that Antonio had told him made him feel special. "I am your husband and I want to take responsibility as your husband. I will play my role in your life as your husband, your soul mate." Praveen couldn't hold his tears. They came running down and he didn't even wanna rub them. "I don't know how it happened or when it started but I guess I was just ignoring it." He chuckled softly, feeling his own tears building. "A lot has happened and maybe that's what made me have feelings for you. I guess they've just been there and I never paid attention to them. The past one week, since I made love to you that night, I feel like a new chapter had started that very night. I am never a coward when it comes to proposing but... with you..." He sighed, stopping to dance. He moved his hands up and wiped Praveen's tears. "...it's very different. You've turned me into a coward and right now, I just wanted to profess my love to you. Believe me or not, I have fallen in love with you, Praveen. I love you. I love you." "I love you!" Antonio's words echoed in his head. "...love you..." Praveen felt a cool breeze from Antonio's eyes hit his face. He couldn't believe what he had just heard from Antonio. He felt really weak and he couldn't help the smile that popped up his face. He had no idea how long he had been waiting to hear something like that from someone that he loved. It was amazing and he felt really happy. "Really?" his voice was barely above a whisper. "Yes, Praveen, I love you so much." By that time, the couple had already stopped dancing and the song had ended long ago. Everyone was just watching them with pounding hearts, admiring their love and closeness. Cameras were ready, taking the entire moment because they knew it was gonna be a hot story in their newspapers, magazines, and their web pages. "And I wanna spend the rest of my life with you." He slowly took Praveen's hands and kissed them. "Would give me a chance, please, baby, my love?" Praveen was now hyperventilating. "Please, would you love someone like me?" Praveen nodded abruptly. "Yes, my love, because I love you too. I love you so much and I wanna be with you. I love you, my love." Antonio laughed as a tear went down his cheek. He felt like he had started life all over again. He moved his hands to cup Praveen's cheeks as both of them laughed, enjoying their newfound love. Antonio was dying to do one thing before what he had planned started. He slowly started leaning forward with only one thing in his mind, to taste those sweet lips once again and claim his love. He was almost near, feeling Praveen's breath on his face. He slowly closed his eyes as he felt Praveen's lips on his but... "Stop!" An angry voice of a woman said loudly. "Stop this drama." Antonio quickly moved away and turned to find a great shocking thing, his aunt, Emma looking at the two of them like they had betrayed her and she was there for revenge. Seeing her, Antonio had never been so mad at his aunt as the way he felt at that time. He watched as she came near, looking at Praveen like she wanted to kill him. "Stop this." She warned, pointing at Praveen. "I'll not let you manipulate him anymore." "Aunt!" Antonio's voice rose. He couldn't believe it. "What are you doing?" "What I should have done a long time ago." She furiously gripped Praveen's hand painfully, pulling him away from Antonio. Praveen was shocked. He had no idea why Emma was doing that. He just looked at her without saying anything, wondering why she always did her best to make him feel bad. That was supposed to be his happiest moment and she was ruining it. "Aunt, leave him alone." Antonio took Praveen's hand and pulled him away from her. "What has he done? Even if it is bad, you should talk to..." "I will not do such a thing..." "Aunt," Antonio's voice was angry. "Please, don't..." "You think I am the bad guy here." She yelled, getting the attention of everyone there. "If there is anybody worse in this room, it's that boy." She pointed. "And now you're shouting at me because of him." "Emma!" Granny pulled her, looking at her like she wanted to kill her. "What do you think you're doing? Why do you like creating unnecessary trouble? You're creating a scene and everyone is..." "Let them watch!" She rasped, breathing like a predator. "And you're talking about a scene? Well, news flash," She gestured with her fingers. "A scene has already been created by your loving son-in-law." "Emma, stop this nonsense," Emilia warned. "I will not let you ruin my daughter's party and most especially I won't let you talk about Praveen like that." "Ooh..." She folded her arms, shaking her head. "What can I expect from a blind mother that is trying to ruin her children's future?" Emilia was more than surprised. She couldn't believe Emma had just said that to her. "You don't even know what's happening in your children's lives." She roared, now pointing at Emilia. "You're ruining them by bringing them bad omen. I am the only one in this family that seems to care. And please, if you don't have anything to say then please..." She put her hands together, literally begging Emilia. "...shut up and allow me to handle this situation." By that time, people were already gathering right there, watching the drama going on. Everyone knew that what Emilia was doing was bad because the media people were also there, probably capturing what was going on. "Now back to you," She moved her eyes to Praveen, getting closer to him. "How long did you think you were gonna hide this?" "What?" Praveen was confused. "Aunt, I know that you don't like me but please, for the sake of your family, please stop this. We can talk about this when the party is over." "Well, there isn't gonna be any more party." She glowered, surprising everyone. "What?" Andrea's voice was heard followed by high heels as she rushed to her aunt. She was with Santiago and Bruce. "Aunt, what are you saying? What are you even doing? This is my engagement party and you're making a scene. Please..." "I am sorry, baby..." Emma sighed, holding Andrea's hands tightly. "...I love you so much and I don't want you to make the biggest mistake of your life." "Mistake?" Andrea was gasping, frowning because she was confused. "What are you talking about? What mistake am I making?" Emma slowly moved her head and looked at Santiago. "You're making the biggest mistake of your life by getting married to this man. He's been deceiving us all this time, him and Praveen too." "What?" Santiago yelled, looking at Emma with so much anger. "Aunt, why would you..." "Emma, stop this nonsense." Katy lost her cool. "Till when will you continue being like this? Can't you be happy while seeing others happy? What have these kids done to you that..." "Well, I am sorry," Emma said rudely. "But I care about my family so much that I can't watch them make the biggest mistake of their lives." "Okay, can we please talk about this in..." "Why?" Emma gestured. "Why should I? These two have been doing it in secret but I am gonna expose them in front of everybody." Everyone was confused by Emma's words. "I know that you think that I like ruining everyone's mood but I won't allow my family to suffer." She said with tears of anger in her eyes. "Praveen and Santiago are not what they seem to everyone." She started while holding Andrea's hands tightly. "I would have surely let it go but this is my family we're talking about. I won't allow anything to happen to them." She looked at a teary Andrea and then everyone there. "Praveen and Santiago have been deceiving us all." She said calmly. "That boy is only after our money," She yelled, pointing at Praveen angrily. "He got married to this family to steal everything we own, both of them want our money. They've got all this planned out." Praveen felt hot tears fall to his cheeks as pain slipped through his system. His heart gave a sharp pound in his chest as more tears flowed. He felt like his system had been injected with poison. Emma's words echoed in his head as he felt even more pain. He couldn't believe she'd utter such harsh words against him in front of the guests. "What?" Praveen gasped, his mouth shaking uncontrollably. "Aunt, why would you..." "Why would I what?" Emma chuckled bitterly. "Cat got your tongue? You thought you were gonna hide this from us forever. Well, your secret is out about you and your lover. You had all this planned out." "Excuse me!" Santiago frowned. "What are you talking about? Why would I need your wealth when I've got mine? This is insane." "Emma, please..." Emilia pleaded, putting her hands together. "Stop this." "You still don't believe me?" She laughed. "Fine! Maybe this will convince you." She brought a big envelope in front, took out some photos, and threw them harshly at Emilia. The photos hit Emilia hard and fell to the floor and scattered all over. Everyone now had their eyes on the floor, looking at the photos. They were all pictures of Praveen and Santiago in different situations. Antonio slowly moved his eyes to the floor and once they landed on one of the pictures, his heart simply broke at the picture he saw. He slowly let go of Praveen's hand, leaning to the floor. He slowly took several pictures and stared at them. In one of those pictures, Praveen was lying on the floor and Santiago was on top of him. Though they were all dressed, they were staring at each other, looking deep in each other's eyes with smiles on their faces. Their faces were close and it seemed they were about to kiss. Praveen's hands were on Santiago's back. And to make matters worse, it was in Antonio's room. Antonio's heart started bleeding right there and something he could have described as the worst pain hit him so hard that his vision became blurred for a second. He felt like he couldn't breathe. He slowly switched to another picture and he felt his heart tear as a sharp pain hit him right in the chest. Tears of pain formed in his eyes as they started becoming red. The picture was of Praveen and Santiago, lying on the grass with flowers all over them and Santiago holding a flower to Praveen's nose as both of them laughed hard, their noses brushing. It was romantic. But when he looked at the third picture, he felt himself go weak. Praveen was kissing Santiago on the cheek near the lips and that had been right in his house. Now he couldn't hold his tears. They came flowing to his cheeks, especially when he saw that lustful smile on Santiago's face. The last straw that killed him was when he looked at the fourth picture he was holding. It showed Praveen and Antonio on the bed, completely naked with Praveen on top of Santiago, riding his cock. He had his hands up, holding his hair while Santiago held his waist. Though it was just the back of Praveen that was showed and he couldn't see any of their faces, Antonio could recognize that long pitch black, curly hair anywhere and those hairy hands with a golden ring that were holding Praveen. It was Praveen and Santiago alright. Feeling his heart stop beating for a second, Antonio's hands began shaking uncontrollably as the pictures he was holding fell to the floor. There were other pictures with Santiago fucking Praveen doggy style though only the guy's ass and back were shown and holding each other in the shower, having dinner together, holding each other. It all just killed him even more. The entire family was in shock as they looked at the pictures. Emilia's face was completely wet, her heart dead. She was crying because she still couldn't believe what she saw. She thought she was dreaming but it was all right in front of her, the truth which she couldn't escape. Both grandmothers looked away from the pictures because they couldn't bear to watch the abominable act there. They couldn't even explain the pain they felt because they trusted Praveen so much. Their faces too were filled with tears. Celine was crying too and Eduardo was completely in shock. Antonio slowly got up, clenching his fists as he stood still, facing Praveen who was staring at his husband with tears, shaking his head. He had never been so scared in his entire life before. Seeing Antonio's face, his blood-red eyes, his shaking jaw, and the look of death that he has him, Praveen was bound to be scared. He knew that Antonio was very hurt. "Oh my God," Andrea cried, covering her mouth as Bruce held her tightly. Emma felt bad. "I am sorry about this. But when you trust someone blindly, the consequences are usually severe." She sighed. "I was just as shocked as you are when I found out. I received this mail just a few minutes ago with a letter from our well-wisher. I didn't wanna do this but I can't just watch my family fall into a pit. In the letter," She raised the envelope. "The person that ha failed to identify himself has explained everything. Praveen got married to this family because he wanted our wealth. His goal has always been to get his hands on our wealth. He knew that it was gonna be difficult to seduce Antonio and I have no idea how they met with Santiago. He knew that it was gonna be difficult so he brought his lover in the game too so that he marries Andrea. The photoshoot of Antonio at his company was all just for show so that Santiago could enter our lives, act nice, and be liked. But their plan worked when Emilia and mother suggested the wedding. Both of them knew that after Andrea's marriage our companies would merge and it would be very easy to get all the wealth then. All this has been planned by the two of them." She said in an angry tone. "Get married to Andrea and then divorce her later so that they could run away with all the wealth. This was their plan all along." She yelled, pointing at Praveen who was busy staring at his husband. "They've been sleeping with each other all along behind our backs, pretending like they're just friends. And we've been blind to all this thinking they just spend time together doing innocent things but..." She just grimaced as she couldn't say the word. "Disgusting!" She spat on the floor. "This boy is not so innocent at all. He's been pretending all this while but now, we get to see his true colors. I am sorry it had to come out like this but I couldn't wait for them to ruin us before I say something. Now the entire world will see just how disgusting they are." Praveen's tears couldn't stop flowing. He didn't care about what anyone else thought. His focus was only on his husband. "Ant..." Antonio had no idea where his anger came from. He felt so angry when he heard Praveen's voice that he angrily groaned. He furiously raised his hand and smacked Praveen across the face, sending him flying to the floor. It was the greatest slap he had ever given anyone. Praveen felt his cheek burn but he didn't even bother touching it. It wasn't as painful as the pain that he felt in his heart. He quickly raised his face to stare into his husband's eyes. That was when everyone saw the red mark on his cheek and the blood coming out the side of his mouth. "Praveen!" Santiago sounded scared. He quickly held Praveen tightly, helping him get up. "What do you think you're doing?" Santiago was really mad. "He didn't do anything and..." "Wow!" Emma chuckled bitterly, looking at the two. "Oh, so now you're saving your lover. How original. You two are so shameless and disgusting. We treated you so well." Praveen didn't care about what Emma was saying right at that moment. All he was concerned about was his husband. He didn't care what even the people that were watching were thinking of him. All he wanted was to hear his husband say something but he was looking at him like he wanted to kill him. "Antonio, I..." He spoke but his voice was weaker than he had imagined. "...please, I swear I..." "Shut up!" Antonio pointed his shaky finger angrily. "Not another word from you because I might just kill you." "Antonio, I..." "I am such a fool!" He chuckled in his pain, shaking his head. "I am the stupidest guy on the planet. Here I am happy and jumping that I am in love with someone that loves me too." He chuckled, hitting his head. "Foolish me for thinking that someone like you would love. Whatever have you been lacking in this house? What did you lack that you had to betray me? Forget about me. What did granny and mother ever do to you? What did my poor sister do you? And how long have you been fucking that idiot?" He yelled, gripping his hair. He'd never been so much in pain. "Antonio, I swear by the almighty..." "Don't..." Antonio warned as a tear went down his cheek, clenching his fists. "...All this time, you've been deceiving me, trying, by all means, to seduce me and put me under your control. No wonder..." He paused, visiting the past. "...no matter how badly I treated you, you never left because you had a hidden agenda. I was ready to give up everything for you, start anew with you but all that was gonna be a mistake. I rejected my aunt's advice, chose to give you another chance but what I didn't know is that I was siding with the greatest, most disgusting, pathetic, dirty whore in the entire universe." Those words hit Praveen like a thousand flaming arrows, piercing his heart roughly. He felt his heart stop beating for a second as he just stared at the guy that he'd learned to admire and love. What he felt was from out of this world. "Please, trust me," He sobbed, pointing to the photos on the floor. "It's not what you think, I swear. I didn't do anything wrong. Antonio, you know I would never..." "I don't know anything!" Antonio furiously thrust his hands forward, gripping Praveen's arms powerfully. Praveen felt his arms burn as Antonio's grip got rough. Pain slipped through his entire system as he stared into the eyes of the man he was married to. He was acting like an animal, hurting him. But Praveen didn't care. All he wanted was to explain himself to his husband and let him understand what he was trying to say. "What is it that I don't understand?" Antonio applied even more pressure, making Praveen feel like his bones were been compressed. "What don't I fucking understand? Is it the fact that you were fucking Santiago behind everyone's back or the fact that you deceived me? Which one?" "I was framed." Praveen wailed, putting his hands together. "Take a look at me and tell me that you believe me, Antonio. You know that I have always had the interest of this family at the back of my mind. That was why I didn't leave even when you treated me badly." Antonio stared into Praveen's face but all he saw was the face of a betrayer, a cheater. He could picture Praveen's face as Santiago fucked him and while he rode his cock. With a groan, he furiously let go of Praveen, pushing him away. If not for Santiago, Praveen would have fallen to the floor. Santiago was hurt. He could take people insulting him, humiliating him, and doing anything they wanted to him. But he couldn't bear to see Praveen in pain. It was too much for him. He needed to say something. He took a deep breath. "Antonio, I know that you're angry right now and I understand you. But please," He put his hands together, pleading with him. "...Praveen and I didn't do anything wrong and..." "Shut the fuck up, son of a bitch!" Antonio snapped, furiously thrusting his hand forward. He punched him right across the face, sending him flying to the floor. Santiago could feel a sharp pain on his lip and immediately tasted his blood. His lip had been cut. But he didn't care. He quickly got up and stood still, staring at Antonio with nothing but pain in his eyes. "Go ahead!" He said, shaking his head. "Hurt me all you want, Antonio. Kill me if that means that you'll be able to hear out Praveen and understand him. He loves you so..." But Santiago didn't even finish his sentence as Antonio gave him another punch that sent him back to the floor. This time his nose was bleeding and he didn't even bother rubbing it off. He quickly got up and just stood still. Antonio got so mad that he felt like killing the guy, he furiously raised his fist but before he could do anything, Praveen quickly came in front of Santiago, shielding him from Antonio. Antonio felt something to possess him right there. He wanted to go ahead and throw the punch but when he saw Praveen's face, he couldn't do it. He just stared at him, breathing harshly with more tears forming in his eyes. "Please, don't hurt him," Praveen said softly, putting his hands together. "He's innocent. Santiago and I have never slept together not to talk about a kiss. What you saw is just a frame-up to..." "You think I am stupid?" "I am telling the truth," Praveen said with tears following. "I have never slept with another man. You know what I am telling you is the truth. Before that night..." He said, crying even more. "...I was a virgin until that night, Antonio. You know I am telling the truth because you're the first man that I have ever slept with." Antonio clenched his fists, feeling his jaws shake. "I don't know anything because that was also probably one of your plans to lure me into your trap so that you can get my wealth." "No!" Praveen cried at the top of his voice, putting his hands together. "Please, believe me. I swear in the name of God," "Really?" Emma barked, getting closer to the two. "You are even more despicable than I thought. Using the name of God in vain. How dare you? Did you think you were gonna get away with this? We're not stupid, Praveen. They don't call us the mighty family for nothing." She snapped her fingers in his face. "You should have done a background check on us before you decided to mess with us. You and your lover will pay for this." Emma then moved to Santiago. "And you, we welcomed you in our home, we gave you our daughter and we showed you nothing but love and what did you do?" "Look, aunt..." "Don't call me that!" She snapped. "I swear on the graves of my dead parents that we are innocent." Santiago pleaded. "I will not deny that I love Praveen so much and I loved him since the first time I met him but..." He paused and looked at the sobbing guy. It was too much for him. "...I have never, ever thought of having an affair with him or taking him away from Antonio." "Wow, you just admitted it." Emma chuckled bitterly. "He's not even ashamed to admit it. No matter what you say to me, you've been exposed." Praveen cried softly, trying to rub his tears. He knew that he was gonna have to make his husband understand somehow. With a sob, Praveen slowly held one of Antonio's hands and brought it to his chest. "You told me just a few minutes ago that you loved me, Antonio." He cried softly, feeling his head start to pulse. "Please, listen to my heart and tell me, Antonio, do you think I am capable of doing this? Do you think I can betray you and your family like this?" Antonio felt a sharp pain hit him. The love that he felt for Praveen was torturing him inside. But he quickly withdrew his hand, leaving Praveen feeling helpless and lonely. Praveen didn't wanna lose Antonio because he had become really important to him. "I don't wanna listen to the heart of a cheater." He glowered, his voice getting harsh. "I don't even wanna hear what you have to say because right now I might just kill you. But maybe what they say is true, the poor are only good for working for the rich, being used." Praveen felt his heart bleed. He wanted to say something but before he did... "Granny!" Celine shouted. Everyone moved their eyes and saw Celine holding granny in her arms. She looked really weak. The whole thing was too much for the old woman's heart to handle. She couldn't hear anymore. Her face was wet with tears and her body was shaking weakly. Antonio ran to her and held her tightly. "Granny!" Praveen started rushing to her but just one look from Antonio stopped him. He stood still, watched as Antonio and the family members rushed granny out of that room while some people took pictures. He felt vulnerable and he wanted to follow her but he didn't want her to suffer anymore. "Praveen..." "I am sorry, Santiago." He sobbed as he raised his eyes to stare into the face of Santiago. He was hurt and had several bruises on his face. "But you need to leave right now." "Praveen, how can you..." "The situation will get worse with you being here." He sighed, rubbing his tears. "Please, go." "He's right." It was Santiago's brother. "The situation will get worse if both of us stay here. I will take you home." Santiago didn't wanna leave Praveen alone because he knew that they were gonna hurt him. But maybe Praveen was right. The situation was only gonna get worse with him being there so he needed to leave. He nodded and left with his brother with the nosy media people following him to ask lame questions. When Praveen remained there, he could feel the eyes of the people looking at him, judging him and insulting him. They were talking among themselves, probably talking among each other how despicable he was. But he just wanted to talk to his family so he rushed out of there. *** Praveen slowly entered the house, feeling a strange breeze that he hadn't felt before hit him in the face. He felt his heart start to pound deep in his chest... his body felt cold like he was in a tub of ice... his hands visibly shook as he took a few steps inside. He was looking messy, his hair untied... a bruise on his face and red eyes. He had rubbed his tears but he couldn't get rid of the fear that he felt as he entered the house. He was scared because he had no idea what was gonna happen. All he wanted was to explain and for them to understand. He prayed to God to help him. Entering the house, he found granny sleeping on the chair with a cold towel on her forehead. Katy was seated next to her, looking at her pitifully. Everyone else was in the living room, looking worried with tears in their eyes. They were all looking really worried and hurt. Andrea was standing close to Bruce, looking messy and Bruce was soothing her. Emma was staring at her mother, praying in her heart that nothing happened to her. Antonio was looking mad, his body shaking and his hands clenched into fists which were visibly shaking. His eyes were blood red and the way his jaws shook scared Praveen to the core. He had never seen him act like that before. He started taking a few steps closer to his husband but... "What do you think you're doing here?" Emma said harshly, quickly rushing to him. "What do you want?" Praveen shook his head. "I came here so..." "How dare you even show up here after what you've done?" Emma snapped, blocking his way. "Don't you have any shame left in you?" Praveen felt like crying but he fought his tears. "Aunt, I just wanna speak to my husband, please." He pleaded, putting his hands together. "I know that he's probably hurt because of what he saw and..." "Damn right he's hurt, did you expect him to congratulate you? Get away from here right now." She said in a low grating voice. "I don't wanna see your face." Praveen felt his heart race even more. Emma hated him. Granted! Talking to her wasn't gonna help him in any way. He slowly rubbed his tears, tried to move past her but she gripped his arm and pulled him back. "Please, I just wanna speak to my husband." He said, shaking his head furiously. "Please!" Antonio moved his eyes to where Praveen was, clenching his fists even more. He slowly started moving to him, staring at his face, the face that he wanted to punch so badly. But for some reason, he couldn't afford to do it. His heart was preventing him from that. "Who's your husband?" He said in a hoarse voice, folding his arms on his chest. "I don't see Santiago anywhere." Praveen rushed to him and stood right in front of him. "Antonio, please, I beg you." He couldn't fight his tears anymore. "Please, listen to me. I was framed. They are trying to separate us, please. You know I love you so much, Antonio. Please, believe me, I don't know what...." "I can't believe this." Antonio chuckled bitterly, shaking his head. "Everything I was ready to give up just for you. I thought I could give up my whole life just to be with you. I ignored aunt's warnings because I thought you were innocent." Praveen shook his head, crying. "I am innocent..." "I almost gave up on the person that has always loved me truly..." He paused and looked at Bruce, seeing tears in his eyes. "...someone that has always shown me love, someone that I truly love. And for what?" He furiously dropped his hands, making Praveen move backward in fear. "...for a whore, a cheap slut like you. I am not your husband and I will never be. All this was a big mistake." Praveen shook his head because all that was not true. "Please, believe me, I..." Praveen looked at everyone, seeing Emilia in tears. He knew she was hurt and because of him. He quickly rushed to her and then put his hands together, crying even more. She was a good woman and didn't deserve what was happening. "Mother, believe me, talk to Antonio." He cried, getting closer to her. "You know me and..." Praveen didn't finish his sentence because something shocking happened, something that wounded even his very soul. At first, he thought it was his imagination but then realized that it was all real. It had happened. As he had been talking to Emilia, he felt a sharp pain on his cheek and he moved his head to the side. He slowly touched his cheek, realizing that Emilia had given him a dirty slap. Praveen felt his entire world shatter... his heart broke to tiny bits and he started bleeding, literally... the pain he felt in his heart and soul was from out of this world... his head pulsed for a few seconds as tears started flowing like water. He slowly brought his eyes forward and for a second thought, he was in a parallel universe. Emilia was staring at him and god knows that he had never seen that sullen look on her face. He was really surprised and he failed to believe that that was the same face which had smiled at him just a few hours back. "Mother..." "Don't you dare?" Emilia hissed, raising her hand to point her angry finger at him. "Never call me that in your life ever again. I am not your mother." "I am not your mother." Emilia's voice echoed in his head. Praveen couldn't move or blink. He just froze, staring at Emilia as she had just grown another head. He couldn't believe what he had just heard. The only thing that was able to move were the tears that flooded his face. "Even a witch doesn't attack her own home but you..." She spat on the floor. "...you stabbed us right in the back. You're worse than our worst enemies and I am sure your mother must be turning in her grave right now." Praveen felt a really cold wind blow on his face, freezing his soul. He failed to breath and for a few seconds, he could have sworn his heart stopped beating due to the pain. He couldn't cry... he couldn't even do anything. He was just staring at her without even blinking. "What did you want to say, huh?" She yelled, getting closer to the boy. She had never been as mad as she was at that time. "That you married into this family because it was your mother's wish? Do you think I'll believe your lies blindly? What did I tell you?" She angrily gripped Praveen's hand, pulling him closer. "I trusted you even more than I trust my children. I thought you respected my trust but you showed me no mercy." Praveen shook his head as soft painful sobs started coming out of him. "Santiago came to my house almost every day and I used to be happy because... because..." She paused as tears started rushing down her cheeks which she furiously rubbed. "...I thought you were just friends but you were doing something so disgusting right under my nose." "No..." Praveen wept, shaking his head. He was in agony. "You were having an affair with him." She growled, yelling in his face. "Praveen you have betrayed me, my trust and my husband's last wish. I let you stay in my house, I took very good care of you and I loved you even more than my children because you were my husband's last wish, his last memory for me." She cried in pain, letting go of his hand. "But no..." She furiously rubbed her tears. "...you're the reason for our pain in this house, our grief and agony. You're a bad omen!" Praveen's eyes widened as harsh gasps escaped his mouth. He quickly moved his hands up, covering his mouth. His pain kept on increasing with each word that Emilia spoke. He was being wounded and he could feel his chest tightening. "Please, mother, believe me..." His voice was really low and weak. "...I didn't do anything." "Enough!" She gestured angrily, clenching her teeth. "You didn't show us any mercy. I don't ever want to see your face again." With those words, she furiously turned and went away from him crying. Praveen watched as she went and couldn't help but cry even more. He would have taken anyone telling him what Emilia had just told him but coming from her, it was the most painful thing ever. He moved his eyes and rushed to Celine, holding her hands. He was starting to act like he was going insane. He was developing a terrible headache that made him feel like he was about to pass out. His sobs were uncontrollable and his eyes were already swollen. "Celine!" He cried at the top of his voice. "Please... believe me.... I..." He said in between sobs. "...I am innocent." "Praveen, I am sorry..." Celine moved her hand and caressed his cheeks, feeling like her heart was pierced. She loved Praveen like her own brother and seeing him in that state was too much for her. "I know, darling that..." "Amazing!" Andrea chuckled bitterly and then clapped furiously. "Despite everything that has happened, you're still saying sorry to him and you can't even see past his mistakes." Praveen moved his head and just stared at Andrea who looked like a villain in a ghost movie. She was looking furiously though with tears in her eyes. "And you..." She pointed. "I was right about you this entire time. I would have taken it if you had done this to me alone but this also involves my brother. I am not going to remain quiet and sad for a man that didn't deserve me." She seethed, breathing harshly. "I am not going to cry either because God saved me from being destroyed. I should have known this from the very first time. First, the alliance failed and then suddenly you brought him to me. I never wanted to marry that bastard but for my mom and my granny's happiness, I agreed to get married. Had I known that they were gonna be hurt like this, I would have refused. You know what..." She furiously removed her diamond ring and threw it right at Praveen. "...that belongs to you. And listen to me," She warned in a tone that scared Praveen to the core. "I don't like anyone messing with my brother because I love him so much and I can kill just for him." She sounded dangerous. "Take that cursed engagement ring and leave this house and leave us alone to live in peace just like before." Praveen shook his head. "Andrea..." "Don't ever call my name." She growled, her jaws shaking. "People like always carry bad luck wherever you go. I am even sure that your mother died because of you. You were such a curse to her life that I am sure she's thanking the almighty for taking her from a curse. How am I not even sure you killed father?" "W-what?" Praveen stammered, his mouth shaking. "People like you are only born to kill, steal, and destroy." She added, making sure that she rubbed it sweet and nicely in his wounds. "But I know exactly how to deal with people like you." She snapped her fingers severally. "I have dealt with the likes of you and by the time I am done, you'll wish you had died with your mother." She groaned, furiously turned, and rushed up the stairs with Bruce following right behind her. Praveen felt like he had died. He moved his eyes and saw Ethan leaned to a wall, crying. He rushed to him and then stood in front of him, cupping his cheeks. At least, Ethan was gonna believe him, right? The guy had always supported him. "Ethan, remember that you had always told me that I could count on you for anything, right?" He asked, his voice sounding low. "Remember how you had believed in me and always helped me, right?" Ethan slightly closed his eyes, feeling hot tears fall to his face. He was in so much pain and shock such that he hadn't uttered a word since he had seen the pictures at the party. He felt betrayed and stabbed. "Please, believe me, I...." He paused and just cried. "...I am innocent." But Ethan's silence broke him. No one was gonna believe him and he had no idea what he was gonna do. Things were turning out for the worst. Before he could utter another word, Emilia gripped his arm painfully and pulled him closer to her. "Stop your drama because we know what you are." She said in between clenched teeth. "You're not so innocent after all. I am glad my Ryan isn't gonna be around someone like you because you're a bad omen to this house. And you know, we'll surely need cleansing after this. Thank God to that person that showed us the truth, we'll be saved from you." "Aunt..." "You always speak about values, traditions, and religion." She raged, dragging away from Ethan. "Where did those values go? Guess even gold-diggers use the almighty's name to disguise themselves. Get out of this house!" She started dragging him towards the door but he quickly loosened himself from her grip, rushed to Antonio, and threw himself at his feet like a beggar. He held Antonio's feet and just cried his heart out. He couldn't afford to lose him. "Antonio, my love, please, believe me." He wept, holding those legs tightly. "All I need is you to trust me. You said you love me so much and you know I am telling the truth. Whoever is doing this is trying to separate the two of us, please, don't let them succeed." Antonio felt like something disgusting was crawling up his skin. He grimaced, clenching his fists while feeling anger filling him up. Veins had shot up in his eyes and he was just a few seconds away from snapping and probably making a grave mistake. "You know that love is strong and can stand against anything. They just made this up to defame me." He mewled, wetting Antonio's trouser with his tears. "You're my husband and my greatest strength right now. All I need is for you to believe me and we overcome this together. I have never slept with Santiago and you know I am telling the truth. I lost my virginity to you that night." Antonio angrily shook his head, leaning down. In a rage, he gripped Praveen's arms and rose him up, staring at him like he was a criminal. He didn't even feel sorry for him because the pain that he felt was too much and the anger wasn't helping him at all. "I am not your husband. I don't love you and I don't care about you." His voice sounded like a dangerous wild animal. "Do you understand?" Those words cut through Praveen's skin like a knife through butter. He felt really cold. Suddenly, the pain intensified to the point where he couldn't even feel it. He stopped crying, staring at his husband nonstop. "I only have one love and that's Bruce." He hissed, applying pressure to Praveen's already bruised arms. "I don't know you and I don't even care to. You're dead to me and this family. You're not important to us." Praveen tried to open his mouth to speak but all that came out were painful loud cries. "My love..." "I am not your husband. This relationship is over." He yelled in Praveen's face, letting go of his arms. His eyes were blood red and the veins in them were scary. He looked dangerous. "It's dead. There's nothing between us." Praveen felt something cold hit his heart, instantly freezing it. Everything went quiet including his cries. His mouth was open but nothing came out of it. The only thing he was able to hear was his heart beating weakly, almost giving up. His chest tightened badly that he felt like something heavy was placed on it. He couldn't breathe and as if that wasn't enough, he couldn't even feel anything either. Antonio's breaths came out harshly. "Is this the only thing connecting me to you?" He raised his hand, showing the wedding ring to Praveen. Praveen weakly looked at it, tears flooding his face. "Well..." He took the ring off and threw it angrily to the floor. Praveen slightly closed his eyes to the sound of the ring bouncing on the floor. "...I don't want it. It can go to hell together with you." Antonio felt a lump developing in his throat. He had no idea why he felt like shit when he removed his ring after six months of wearing it. He felt his pain intensify as painful tears built up in his eyes. His heart pounded so hard that he felt like he was gonna have a heart attack. Antonio tried to look away but his eyes landed on Praveen's neck, seeing that sacred wedding necklace. He remembered the time he had put it around there and his anger started overflowing. He groaned, furiously thrust his hand forward, and gripped that necklace. Before Praveen could even realize what was going on, Antonio pulled hard on the necklace, breaking it. He then threw it to the floor. Praveen robotically moved his eyes to the floor and once he saw that broken wedding chain on the floor, his heart died. He couldn't feel it anymore. His strength left and he knew it was all over for him. He was dead. After fighting and getting what he deserved, it was all destroyed in just one night. "And this...." He took Praveen's hand and took the ring off him, throwing it to the floor once again. Praveen was just staring at him without uttering a word or doing anything to him. He was already defeated and couldn't do anything. "A married person's greatest defeat is when he loses his husband." The priest's words rang through his head. He had finally accepted it. He didn't even have any word to say to Antonio or plead with him anymore. It was done. "Nothing is connecting us anymore so get out of my life and get out of my house," Antonio said in a low but harsh voice. But it didn't hurt Praveen. He was hurt to the point of no return. As he was standing there, he heard some noise on the floor and looked there. It was his bags, five of them, and they were already parked. "Those are your bags," Andrea said angrily, pointing towards them. "I don't care how you'll carry them but get out right now." "Get out. You're dead." Antonio yelled. Praveen looked at his husband one last time and then down to the floor. He slowly leaned down, took one bag, just one bag, an old and ordinary bag that he had come to the house with after marriage. That was all he needed. He slowly opened it, took out an old black jean and blue t-shirt, and then did what everyone hadn't expected. He first took off his expensive shoes and then his shirt. He wore his old blue t-shirt and then took off his trousers and wore an old pair of jean. He closed his bag without even putting anything on his feet and then picked it up. With a final look at Antonio, he took a few steps back and slowly turned and started walking slowly towards the exit. He was now disorientated, looking like a zombie. He was in a terrible state and was unconscious of his environment. He didn't even feel it when he stepped on broken glasses and hurt his feet. Each step he took left a bloody foot print in the house. Images of him entering the house the first time started forming in his mind... the rituals they had performed... his first kiss with Antonio... the intense lovemaking the night Antonio had taken his virginity... Granny and Emilia taking care of him and making him happy. The images couldn't go away. They were causing him anguish. Antonio on the other hand felt his life going away, following Praveen as he went. Images of the kiss, the lovemaking, and all the moments he had spent with Praveen started forming in his head but also the betrayal. He wanted to stop him, hug him and kiss him but he couldn't. Pain and anger had already +taken control of his life, filling him up each second. He just quickly turned and rushed upstairs angrily, feeling warm tears flooding his face. Everyone watched as Praveen went away from the house disappearing at the door. But none saw the bloody footprints that he had left in the house, reaching the door except for Katy. Seeing those footprints, she quickly covered her mouth as her eyes widened. "Almighty, no!" She was so much into the religion that she knew a lot about such things. Those footprints meant that the almighty had left the Gonzalez house together with Praveen according to what she knew or what she had been told. She had never believed in it because it was just a story that her mother had told her when she was a kid. According to her mother, that only happened when the almighty's devotees and chosen ones had been wronged. Could it have been right? *** "Cheers, darling!" Andrea smile, raising the glass of wine to her friend. "Cheers!" Bruce raised his glass too. Both of them chuckled happily, putting the glasses on the small table. They were in Andrea's room enjoying their victory. "I can't believe our plan worked." Bruce gasped, holding his cheeks. "Please, wake me up. I must be dreaming." "No, baby boy..." She sighed, licking her lips. "You're not dreaming. We've won the war. I told you that it was a full proof plan. Nothing could have ruined it for us. We're victors. No more Praveen. He's gone forever and no more Santiago too. That what we call..." She held her chin, looking like she was thinking of a word to use. "...killing two birds with one stone. Now Praveen is gone and I can finally keep my eyes on the love of my life, Ethan!" Bruce's mouth gaped, his eyes widening. "Shut the..." He paused, really surprised. "...front door. So you've been in love with Ethan the entire time and you never told me about it." "Since I was in high school." She blushed, rubbing on her temple. "The fact that he's bisexual gives me a greater chance. All I have to do now is use my seduction skills and I'll have him just like..." She snapped her fingers. "...that. Praveen's gone and all the thorns in our flesh have been taken with him. Antonio is now a free man and he's all yours." Bruce smiled, blushing when he thought about Antonio. But then again... "I was a virgin until that night." Praveen's words rang through his head. "You took my virginity, Antonio!" Bruce felt a cold shiver ran down his spine and he felt his heart begin to race. "But Andrea..." He sighed, losing the smile on his face. "...Antonio already consummated his marriage to Praveen. They already had sex and..." He felt hurt. "...it happened while he was here and all this time we thought..." "And now he feels bad about it," Andrea said without even caring. "That was a prize he had to take from that whore. He's all yours. No one else knows the truth except for you and me. And it shall remain so. We still have a lot of work to do. We're not done yet. Now, why don't you..." She paused and breathed inaudibly. "...go and be there for your man?" Bruce nodded, gracefully got up, and then went to Antonio's room to show him how much he loved him. 'I told you Praveen that no one messes with me and goes scot-free. You thought you had already won but you underestimated me. It just unfortunate that I had to do what I did to get you out of here." Andrea visited the past to the time when her plan with Bruce had started. She had come up with a plan to spy on Praveen and Santiago, the unfortunate moments, and take pictures of everything that they did. When she couldn't make it, she had hired someone to do it for her. She had been really lucky and once she thought she had enough, she compiled everything and set a bomb to go off on her engagement. She had sent an envelope containing everything to the party, paid a waiter to give it directly to Emma because she knew Emma was the only one apart from herself and Bruce that hated Praveen. Her plan had worked perfectly. The fake pictures of Praveen and Santiago fucking had been provided by Bruce and they had worked perfectly. She had also written a letter to Emma disguising as a well-wisher and explained a fake story that Emma had used to hurt the boy. Now everything was the way it was supposed to be. "Goodbye Praveen and good riddance...." She raised the glass. "...to bad rubbish. Next time, you'll know better. That is if you'll be able to show your face to anyone else." An evil grin appeared on her face as she took a sip of the wine celebrating her victory. *** Lightning split the dark sky continuously as a strong wind blew... the smell of the storm could not be missed... the wind was blowing violently, blowing everything on its way. It was dark but it felt like it was already day due to the continuous splitting of lightning. Thunder roared furiously like the heavens were angry as lightning again split the sky. And here he was, completely disorientated and in the worst state. He was walking barefoot, unable to feel the sores on his feet. The wind that was blowing furiously was blowing his hair backward, revealing his once happy face and the blood-red swollen eyes. Tears were still coming out, flooding his face. It was like they had a mind of their own. Praveen still couldn't feel anything. He was beyond pain and his mind was elsewhere. He was walking on a lonely road just a few miles away from Antonio's house, near a railway. There were abandoned buildings, scraps of paper, wood, and even glass. But Praveen was too lost to even care. He didn't even realize where he was going. All his mind told him was just to walk. He just wanted to go back to where everything started, his aunt's house. "I love you." He remembered Antonio's words that same night. "I have been fighting my feelings for a long time. Guess I just never knew they were always there." Vivid images of his traditional marriage, entering the Gonzalez house, the first kiss, the night he lost his virginity, his pride, his fights with Antonio, and being kissed and hugged by granny and Emilia were all playing continuously in his mind. They were making him weak, taking his will to live away. "Even a witch doesn't attack her own home." "You were my husband's last wish, my husband's last memory. I don't ever want to see your face again." Praveen kept on walking, going down the painful memory lane that seemed to kill a part of him each second. He was like a walking corpse, unable to feel anything or hear anything. All that was left was just for his legs to take him to wherever they were gonna land him. "Your mother must be turning in her grave right now." "I am sure your mother considers herself very lucky because she's dead and doesn't have to put up with a curse like you. Who knows if you didn't kill our father?" The voices that were inside Praveen's head were deafening. They all kept on talking at the same time and he had no idea how to remove them and just move on with his life. He kept on walking until suddenly someone gripped his arm, stopping him. He was just staring in front without even bothering or caring who it was. Then all of a sudden about four gang members came in front of him, staring at him lustfully. "What have we got here?" One of them laughed in a deep manly voice. "Hmm, babe, you're hot. Where are you going at such a time? A storm's coming and you don't wanna be out here when it starts." But Praveen wasn't moving or even reacting to anything. He wasn't even aware of his environment. "What?" Another said, rubbing his crotch. He got closer to Praveen and caressed his cheek. "You don't speak? Well, don't worry baby, we're gonna accommodate and protect you tonight. We can even make you happy if you make us happy." He got closer to Praveen. They all laughed together. "Looks like it's our lucky night!" Another, a tall black guy spoke in a scary voice. "He doesn't speak, he's not even resisting and to top it all, he's a beauty." A guy held his shoulder and leaned forward, smelling Praveen's neck sensually. "You don't have to be so quiet when you smell so nice. Anyway, it doesn't matter as long as you're able to moan for us." They all began laughing as two guys took hold of Praveen's hand and started leading him to an abandoned building nearby. They were happy because the entire night, they were gonna be happy or so they thought but... "Leave him alone!" A deep manly voice spoke angrily from behind them. All the men quickly turned and found about two men looking at them angrily. "Who are you?" The mean asked. "This doesn't concern you. Leave from here and we promise not to hurt you." "The fuck!" One of the men raged, clenching his fists. "I am your worst nightmare." With those words, the men charged and started fighting or rather beating the four gang members. Praveen wasn't even aware that he had just been about to be raped or that a fight was happening. He just stood still with his eyes forward like he was frozen. The fight continued for almost a minute and Santiago and his brother won. Santiago's entire anger was vented on the men. He made sure that each of them he touched went away with something broken. He had been so mad that the filthy men had just wanted to rape Praveen. He was mad. By the time he was getting done, his hand was bloody. "Praveen!" He rushed to Praveen. Seeing him looking disorientated, Santiago couldn't help but shed a few tears. "Why aren't you saying anything?" He slowly patted him on the cheeks. "What did they do to you?" But Santiago didn't get any answer from Praveen. Before he could do anything, Praveen collapsed in his arms. Santiago held Praveen tightly, crying softly. He wasn't used to seeing him like that. He was really mad, hurt, and didn't know what to do. "I think he's in so much pain." His brother said in a weak voice, hiding his tears. He had just known the boy but loved him so much. "That's why he was looking so disorientated. Let's take him home. It won't be good to leave him alone in such a state." Santiago quickly nodded and then took Praveen to his car. He thanked the almighty for bringing him to the boy he loved when he needed him the most. They drove home and Santiago took Praveen to his bedroom so that he could rest. He was really worried about him and he was gonna be until he finds out what had happened and why it had happened. Once he was sure that Praveen was okay, he took a shower before he went to see his brother because he knew that he was really worried. "Bro, I don't know what's going on but I can assure you that a scandal is on its way," Logan said, rubbing his face. "Do you have any idea who could have done this?" "I don't know." Santiago sighed, sitting back on the couch. "But I am really worried. I have a feeling that this was aimed at Praveen, Logan." Tears were building up in his eyes. "And I also know that he's gonna be more hurt than he is right now. This boy is..." He sobbed softly, rubbing his tears. "...he's an orphan and he doesn't have anyone to care for him and support him in these hard times. There's no denying that I love Praveen. I can't deny the fact I have fallen in love with him." He couldn't hold his tears. "But I have never had any intention of having an affair with him or taking him away from Antonio although my feelings for him are really strong. I have always respected the fact that he gave me a chance to be his friend without question. I love him so much that I was ready to do anything for him. For his sake, I accepted the alliance to marry that...." He grimaced, feeling hurt. "...that girl so that he couldn't suffer. I have never felt this way about anyone in my life before, Logan. But since I saw him, I knew that he was special. Unfortunately, life wasn't fair to us. He was already married. He loves his family so much and he's a devotee of the almighty. It's not fair." Logan gulped, trying to be strong for his brother. He sat beside him, patting on his shoulder. He was in so much pain and he didn't know how to calm his brother down or take away his pain. "I know for a fact that you love him." He chuckled softly, staring at the floor. "I have seen it in your eyes each time you're close to him. I have always wanted to ask you about your feelings but I wasn't sure. Although those allegations were flying like that, I didn't question you because I know you would never do this. Ever since our parents died long ago, I took care of you and I watched you grow stronger each day and take up responsibilities." He paused and looked at his brother, getting weaker. "You wouldn't do that because you have the values of both our parents. But... I have a very strong feeling that whoever did this must be someone close, someone from their family, someone that doesn't like Praveen." Santiago raised his head and fixed his gaze on his brother, staring at him as he'd just grown another head. There was some sense in whatever Logan had said to him. Those photos, the nudity, the sex, and their bodies. It was a perfect photoshop. It only had to be done by someone very close to them, someone that knew both of them very well. Someone that had taken some time to study both of them. They had been accused of trying to steal the Gonzalez wealth when Santiago was super-rich. The person might have been a family member. He was sure of it. "It's possible and maybe..." He paused and just shook his head. He didn't wanna make any assumptions. "...Logan, I can take it if anyone were to insult me and do anything to me but Praveen... god, it hurts." He ran his fingers through his hair. "I have no idea what they said or did to him and I am helpless." "I understand and I don't want you to do anything irrational." Logan sighed, slowly squeezing his shoulder. "The Gonzalez family are very powerful and influential people. They can do anything, anything that they want and it would be bad. But don't worry..." He squeezed his brother's shoulder. "...your brother has got this. Now why don't you go and get some rest? You've been through a lot. We'll continue this conversation tomorrow." Santiago nodded and hugged his brother tightly. He went back to his room, checked on Praveen, and went to sleep on a couch near the bed. He woke up several times during the night to check up on Praveen but the boy was still asleep. *** The next day, Santiago woke up early and still found Praveen sleeping. He sat by his side, held his hand sweetly in his, and told him to be strong, and fight everything that was going on. He told him to be strong, to remain the committed devotee of the almighty, and leave everything to be sorted out by him. But he also promised Praveen to always be by his side and protect him. But one thing he couldn't assure him was the situation getting better. He knew things had just started getting worse but he told him Praveen that he was gonna take him abroad if he had to, just to protect him from every harm. He was ready to give up his life for him. At the break of dawn, the oldest maid in the house, someone that Logan and Santiago called nanny, Regina, came to Santiago's room panting. She was really scared. She gave Santiago some bad news that there were many reporters at the gate and they were all fighting to come inside. Santiago felt hot all over. That was when he knew that their situation had just gone from bad to worse. He called all the guards and gave the order of not letting any reporter or anyone from the media past his gate. Just before he could even finish giving the order, he received another news from the security men at all his companies that there were many reporters there asking loads of questions. He still gave the same order and then told Regina to take care of Praveen. She told him that she knew that both of them didn't do anything wrong. He went downstairs and found his brother already awake in his robe. He was scrolling through the channels, groaning and cursing as he did. It was every channel that was talking about the same incident that had happened at Santiago's engagement party. They even had Santiago's and Praveen's pictures there with the word, "Caught in the act; millionaire, Santiago and multi-billionaire and celebrity, Antonio Gonzalez's spouse, Praveen exposed!" Shit! Santiago felt his heart sink in his stomach. He was ruined for sure because it was gonna the grace of God to get out of that mess he had found himself. And forget about him, he was more worried about Praveen than himself. He needed to keep him safe, from everything that was happening. Everything had been so perfect. His brother switched off the TV and assured him that he was gonna make some calls to try and resolve the whole issue. Santiago thanked his brother and he made few calls to his friends for help. When he went back to the room, he found Praveen awake but the boy was still disorientated, looking like he was in so much shock. Santiago cleaned him up, changed his clothes, and tried to make him eat but nothing was helping. He wasn't snapping out of his mood. "What did they do to you that turned you into this zombie?" He sighed as a tear went down his cheeks. Things got worse as hours passed. The reporters wouldn't go and everywhere he looked, it was the same thing. Logan even showed him a video of Andrea and Emma telling the media, telling the world just what kind of evil person Praveen was and also thanking the Lord that he was now exposed and out of their lives. "We've now seen the true colors of our ex-..." Andrea paused, grimacing. "...he's a green snake in green grass, the most disgusting dirty whore I have encountered." She added. "Everyone now knows who he is and we don't wanna talk to anyone about this. He's not part of us and we want to forget everything about him. He's dead to us and we don't ever wanna see him. We don't even wanna meet him so leave us alone." For a lady whose engagement and the wedding had been ruined, Andrea was looking rather... Anyway, forget about it. What was important was for Santiago to get Praveen away from every poison, every harm, and every trap. He vowed to get away from everything, far away from where no one would bother him or treat him like trash. It was a promise. He was gonna get Praveen back to the state that he had once been. But what he didn't know was... *** 'Praveen Garcia; latest whore in town.' 'Praveen Garcia; sheep in wolf's clothing.' 'Santiago and Praveen finally exposed.' 'Billionaire celebrity, Antonio Gonzalez's family breaks all ties with Praveen Garcia after being exposed.' 'Millionaire Santiago and lover exposed at his engagement party after hot sex pictures were seen.' 'Praveen Garcia, green snake in green grass.' There were just a lot of newspapers with the front cover talking about Praveen's character and how he was a whore. Each newspaper he looked at had the same or similar story. The boy's character had been talked about and it was sad how a nice boy like him would get to suffer that kind of fate. As if that wasn't bad enough, many magazines had Praveen's photo with glasses on, looking handsome but the story in there was just bad. 'How deadly can someone as young as Praveen Garcia be?' A lady from a gossip show said. 'For an 18-year-old boy, I don't expect such behavior to be portrayed.' 'That's what these boys always do.' A man said with a smile on his face. 'First, they come to your house, pretend to be nice, holy, ideal husbands but they are truly snakes. And this Praveen Garcia is the worst by far. I sympathize with the Gonzalez family because they're really good people and I support the fact that they broke all ties with him. But what would have been good would have been getting him arrested and letting him spend his entire life behind bars? I wouldn't be surprised if he charmed the young man, Mr. Santiago. He's a good guy and I am sure that he was seduced. You know, when you're hungry for money and power, you can go to any extent to get it. I wonder what he didn't get from a handsome and sexy man like Antonio Gonzalez that he wanted to destroy them all.' He laughed. Santiago angrily took a vase from the table and sent it flying to the 75-inch screen in the living room. It hit the screen, breaking it instantly. He was really mad because he didn't know what to do. Praveen didn't deserve what he was getting. "Fuck!" He swore, furiously throwing things off the table. "It's not fair!" He groaned. Logan came rushing into the living room when he heard all the noise only to find it in a bad state. He looked at his brother and found him seated on the floor sobbing. For the first time, Logan understood just how deep his brother's pain was. It showed him that his brother truly loved Praveen. The only time he had been in that kind of state was when their parents died and man, he didn't even break anything at that time. Logan sighed, leaning near his brother. "It's everywhere, on social media and every media network. I have tried to make the situation die down but... they are just too powerful, bro." He said in a weak voice. "The Gonzalez are on top of this game. They want this to continue and I can't assure you that it will get better. At least, your situation isn't that bad but Praveen's..." He chirped, shaking his head. "...it is spreading like a wildfire." Santiago rubbed his tears, looking at his brother. "They've tarnished his image, his reputation, and his respect." He couldn't hide his pain. "And I can't do anything because everyone is afraid of losing their jobs if they get involved. I wish I could take away his pain but that family is..." He paused and sniveled. "...it's just too powerful and influential. There's just one thing left to do to save him." Though Logan was scared of asking the question... "What's that?" Santiago looked at his brother and cried softly. "I'm gonna have to get him out of this country, away from everything where no one will recognize him or know us." Logan felt his heart pound. Tears started forming in his eyes. "Don't you think the situation will only get worse if people see the two of you together?" "Right now, I don't care." He rubbed his tears furiously. "I don't care because nothing can be worse than this. I am ready to give it all up and start a new life with him...." He paused and sighed. "...a simple life. But one thing I can promise you is that I won't stop until I find out the truth and bring back his honor, my honor. They'll all regret everything they've done to him and they'll come crawling back. I swear." Logan smiled as tears made their way to his cheeks. He patted on his brother's shoulder and pulled him into a fierce hug. "I know kiddo! I will support you." As the two brothers embraced each other, Regina came rushing in the living room, panting and sweating. When the brothers saw her, they all got up, looking worried. "Regina!" Logan gasped, holding her sweaty hand. "Why do you look like that?" "He's gone!" She shuddered. Tears forming in her eyes. "I went to check up on him and I found that he's not in the bedroom. He's gone and he's nowhere to be seen. No one has seen him in the house." Santiago felt like a lightning bolt had just hit his heart. Fear, anger, and confusion hit him at the same time. Then without wasting any time, he quickly rushed to his room to look for Praveen. He checked his bedroom, his closet, his bathroom, and even his study but he wasn't there. He checked the entire house, asked everyone but no one had seen him leave. He knew that in Praveen's current state, he could do anything, even hurt himself. He had to find him and quickly. He rushed to his car, started it off, and ordered the guards to open the gate. Reporters were at the gate but he didn't give a fuck. He drove right in between them, hitting a couple of them in the process. He didn't care. All he needed to do was find Praveen and in time, he hoped. *** Santiago entered the temple, his eyes filled with tears. He was barefoot, staring at the almighty's idol which looked like it was smiling and blessing him at the same time. He was really scared, tired, and confused. He had looked for Praveen almost everywhere but couldn't find him. Praveen had told him so much about that temple and that he used to come there most of the time. As soon as he stepped his foot there, a strong wind had started blowing all over. He reached the front, lit up a candle, and put his hands together, staring at the statue. He couldn't fight off his tears as they came pouring like a river. There was no one else in the temple except for another man that he found praying there. He leaned down, touched the almighty's feet, and closed his eyes. When he opened his eyes, he bowed down, still holding his hands together and his eyes fixed on the almighty. "8 years ago, you had taken the most important people in my life." His voice was really weak and his pain was coming back. "I had come to you before they died, to save them but you still took them anyway. I vowed never to come to you for help until I met Praveen, the boy that believed in you, worshiped you, and never thought about anything without consulting you first." His lips were shaking badly and his eyes were turning red. "With great difficulty, I was able to believe in you again because of him. Praveen cannot be wrong. He doesn't deserve this kind of punishment. I am about to beg you for something else today." He said in between sobs. "I am looking for Praveen. He's always believed in you and has said you've always supported and protected him. Please, protect him from any danger or any pain." He cried softly. "I just need my friend back, please. Show me the way so that I can find him without him being harmed. I am sure that you won't do what you did with my parents because this boy is your devotee. Prove me wrong and show me that you're not weak..." He said, his voice slightly rising. "...show me the path I must take. Please!" He cried. Santiago fell to the floor on the ground, crying like a baby. He didn't know what to do or where to look. He just wanted the almighty's guidance. Meanwhile, the man on the other side had his eyes closed, praying to the almighty. He could hear the cries of the other man but he concentrated on his own. He had no idea who the man was and what he was searching for. All he wanted was to find his wife and child. That was all. Suddenly, there was a loud sound of metal hitting the floor behind them, and almost immediately, the wind died down. "Two seeking hearts..." The priest's deep manly voice sounded. "....a seeking father and a grieving friend and lover. Two hearts unknowingly seeking the same thing." Santiago quickly got up from the floor without even bothering to rub his tears. He quickly turned and rushed to the priest with the other man following behind. He needed to know what the priest meant by what he said. "Priest..." Richard said abruptly when he reached him. "...my name is..." "I know who you are and I know what both of you are looking for." He said, hitting his staff on the floor. Santiago slowly moved his eyes, staring at the man. He looked familiar but he didn't care. All he wanted was to know the whereabouts of Praveen. That was all. But then again, the priest's words were confusing him and he needed to know what he meant. "Priest, what are you..." "A lot of things happen, things that may sometimes bring lots of questions," He laughed, and then his face got serious. "Why do you seek the one who doesn't wanna be found?" He asked. "Why do you seek one who has lost hope and a desire for a living?" Santiago felt his heart pound in his chest. He quickly glanced at Richard and saw the worried look on his face. "The one who both of you seek doesn't wanna live anymore!" "No!" Santiago threw himself to the floor, putting his hands together. He was crying once again. "No! Please, don't let anything happen to him, please!" "It is not my will but his will that the almighty take him." Richard was already scared and being a heart patient, he couldn't take it. He was feeling as if his heart had stopped beating and his breaths had stopped. He couldn't lose after getting some news after so long. "Priest..." "He's lost the will to live and wants the almighty to take him. He wants to go back to where his mother resides so that he can escape the shame and pain." The priest said with a serious look. Both Richard and Santiago couldn't fight off their tears. They were staring at the priest wide-eyed and with their mouths gaping. There was only one thing at the back of both their minds, find Praveen, and save him. "But you can save him." He said hitting the staff on the floor. "If you hurry up, you'll find him at the holy river. Go!" Santiago didn't waste any time. He quickly rose to his feet and started running faster than his legs could carry, not minding where he was stepping. All he wanted was to reach Praveen before he did anything stupid. He knew where the holy river and it wasn't nearby. He needed to run fast. He couldn't lose Praveen because that meant his death. Richard was right behind him, equally running as fast as his legs could carry him, ignoring the burning sensation in his chest. He didn't care if he died as long as he had reached the river in time to save his child. That was all that he needed to do. "May the almighty guide you!" The priest said, staring at the statue. "I know you won't let him come to you, almighty." Question was, were they gonna make it in time? *** Praveen was standing at the edge of the Holy River, feeling the cold water beneath his feet. He was staring right into it, his tears falling there and mixing with the water. The river was really important because it was where all the holy rituals, ceremonies and baptisms and healings took place. They had kept it well, built concrete around it, and also stair-like structures that led into the deep river. He was feeling really tired... his eyes were red and badly swollen... the pain, though he couldn't feel it, was unbearable... he was in torment... He was in so much anguish.... so much torture... So much everything. He had had it all. It was impossible to regain what he had lost and go back to the way he was. He was still disorientated. 'I know I have been kinda a jerk to you since we got married and you were right when you got angry with me. God is my witness, I don't wanna do that anymore. I don't wanna cause you any more pain because right now, Praveen... you've become a really important part of my life. That night... I never expected that night to be that special to me. It happened and although I felt guilty after, I didn't regret what happened because that guilt showed me what kind of jerk I have been to you. You're very important to me right now, Praveen!' All the words that made him feel special for a few seconds, something that he had been dying to hear from Antonio, he heard it and lost it all in one night. All he kept remembering about was the painful way everyone had treated him like he was trash, a whore, a characterless person. Everything kept on torturing him inside, killing his soul, and harming him more and more. 'This marriage is very important to you. It was arranged before you were born. Even the almighty knows and had blessed it.' His mother's assuring voice echoed in his mind. 'Even a witch doesn't attack her own home but you...' Emilia's painful words hit him again. '...you're worse than a witch. You were my husband's last wish, his last memory for me but you have betrayed me and my trust. Your mother must be turning in her grave right now. I don't ever want to see your face again.' He closed his eyes as tears flooded his face. When he opened them, he slowly raised his hand, stared at the finger that had once held his wedding ring. It was no longer there. It had been removed and painfully too. He had once worn a sacred chain around his neck but it had been broken into pieces. Then images of the pictures that destroyed everything began forming in his mind, the kisses, the sex, the fake cheating, and the affair. It was too much for him to handle. He had never even thought of cheating on Antonio although he had many reasons to. 'I promise to take my responsibilities as your husband and play my role in your life. I love you.' He took a deep breath, crying. "That's a lie." He dropped his hand. "Every promise was a lie." His voice was really low and it was breaking. It didn't sound like him at all. "I loved you. But, you only deceived me. That was all it was. Deceit." He didn't even know what he felt anymore. 'This marriage is a punishment for you and you'll be suffering for the rest of your life.' 'You don't belong here and if I don't get you thrown out then my name is not Andrea.' "They were all right." He wept. "I don't belong here, not even anywhere in this world. I have lost everything, my parents, my support, my respect, my pride, my self-esteem, my husband, and my family. I have nothing to live for. Now almighty, I come back to you because you're the only one I have." He looked to the heavens, putting his hand on his chest as more tears flooded his face to his neck. His shirt was wet on the chest area like water had been poured on it. He had been crying for hours since leaving Santiago's house and now it was almost evening. "I am sorry mom and dad," He said in between sobs. "I could never do anything productive for you both. I do not deserve to be called your son. Antonio," He sniveled, feeling a huge lump suddenly develop. "See what your love has done to me. Perhaps, this is the consequence of marrying and loving someone blindly." He brought his eyes to the river, took a short painful breath, and started moving forward, walking further into the water. He kept going as all the painful memories, all the painful words kept on torturing him inside. He kept on going deeper, feeling the water going up against his body. He didn't care because he had set his mind and nothing was gonna stop him. Praveen kept on going further and further until the water reached above his head. But he didn't stop. He kept on going until he reached a deeper part where he couldn't walk anymore but just floated in the deeper. Then he tried to breathe but water got in instead. He started struggling to breathe, feeling all the pain that came with death. Praveen's vision started blurring quickly as the pain of lack of oxygen started setting in. Everything instantly started getting dark at a faster rate as the most painful thing he had ever experienced took him by storm. He was being filled with water each breath he tried to take. It was like someone was choking him right in the water. He was losing strength each second and then all of a sudden, he started feeling sleepy and couldn't feel any more pain. Before a minute could even finish, Praveen was gone. People had gathered around shouting that someone had drowned in the holy river but it was too late and no one dared enter the river without the priest's guidance so nothing could be done. Praveen's lifeless body was floating deep in the water. He was dead, gone forever. Goodbye, Praveen! The end...
  8. Wow! 😍😍😍😍😘😘😘😘😘 that is so wonderful to hear. I promise to deliver without failure
  9. Antonio raised his face to realize that everyone at the set was watching the two of them with lovely smiles on their faces. They were admiring them, especially the ladies that had their hands on their chests, looking like they were having difficulties in breathing. "Pra..." He slowly moved his hands away. "Praveen, what do you think you're doing? Stop your drama." But all Praveen did was hold him even tighter. What the hell was going on, he thought as he smiled at everyone nervously. The boy was embarrassing him and he didn't appreciate it. "Hey!" He used his hands and ripped Praveen from his body. When he stared at him, he saw real tears. Something was wrong with Praveen because there was no way he'd have shed tears in front of Antonio without a very good reason. It got Antonio worried. "What's wrong?" Antonio asked as he quickly got a handkerchief from his pocket. "You don't look so good crying?" Praveen chuckled through his tears, failing to believe that Antonio was well and alive. They'd been lying to him after all. "You're here. I thought..." "You thought what?" He gestured with his head, still in shock. "You thought I wasn't gonna appear at my music video. Are you crazy?" He brought his hand up and started rubbing Praveen's tears without even realizing he was doing it. Praveen's eyes had hypnotized him and he couldn't move away. He didn't even know if he wanted to. Praveen shook his head. "It's just that... I thought you were somewhere else." "Crazy four eyes." Though he said that, it was jokingly and Praveen even smiled. "You shouldn't have taken your glasses off." Where Bruce stood, he felt like he was standing on hot coals as it got hotter and hotter until he started burning... In anger. His eyes, face, and his entire being turned red from all the anger that took control of him at that time. He could feel it travel to his brain. His jaws were shaking terribly and his body did too. His entire being felt like it was about to melt. He was staring at Praveen and Antonio, wanting to go and separate them. But he felt like something was preventing him from going there, something really powerful. His plans had been completely ruined. That wasn't how he had planned it. "Fuck..." He groaned, furiously turning to leave the scene. "Bruce?" Andrea took a glance at her brother and Praveen and then followed her friend. "Wait!" Meanwhile, Praveen had already taken the handkerchief from Antonio and he had dried his face. He was looking as handsome as ever but he was messy. He had ruined his makeup and his clothes too. "What's wrong with you?" Antonio asked with his hand on his hip. Now that Praveen had calm down, he needed him to explain why he had done that. "Why were you acting like that?" "Well..." "Praveen received a phone call that you were in an accident and you were fighting for your life," Ethan spoke as he rushed to where they were standing. "What?" Antonio was shocked. "I was in an accident? But I was never..." "Exactly!" Ethan rubbed on Praveen's shoulder, making him feel shy. "Someone lied to him but for what?" He shrugged, shaking his head. "This was serious and it was good I arrived here just when he was coming out. I told him that you had just arrived here and that's why he was acting like that when he saw you." Antonio couldn't believe a word of what Ethan had said to him. He just remained there, staring at Ethan without saying a word to him. "Why would someone call you and tell you something so serious?" Ethan smiled at Antonio before he told Praveen that he had to go and fix himself up so that they could start the shoot. Praveen nodded and then went to his room to have his makeup done and to change his clothes. He was still feeling nervous and scared. What the man had told him on the phone was pretty intense. "Antonio!" Ethan said softly as soon as Praveen left. "Don't you think Bruce had something to do with this? I mean..." "What?" Antonio gasped, shocked at what his friend had just suggested. "Are you being serious? Why would Bruce do that? What would he stand to gain from that?" "A shoot with you again," Ethan said with a stern look. "We're talking about Bruce here. That guy can do anything just to..." "Ethan, please stop." Antonio was getting angry. He wasn't gonna let anyone speak ill of his boyfriend. "I won't allow you to bring Bruce into this, okay? He's already hurt by all this and..." "Exactly!" Ethan said, equally raising his voice. "Bruce is mad because you wouldn't have him on this video. Don't you think maybe..." "Ethan, please..." He slightly closed his eyes, taking a deep breath. "I don't wanna have any problems with you right now. Leave Bruce out of this. There's no way he'd play with my life like that. He loves me too much. Instead of accusing an innocent guy who's at home, you should be finding out who had called Praveen." Ethan was really hurt. He couldn't believe the guy standing in front of him was his best friend. He was a little disappointed too because he hadn't expected that from him. "I got Praveen's phone and tried to call the number but it was unavailable." Then he sighed and stared at his best friend, shaking his head. "You owe that boy his protection because you're his husband. If anything had happened to him because of you, how would you have lived with yourself?" He gave a sheepish smile and left to go and prepare for something important. Antonio on the other hand remained there standing like a statue, staring at his friend as he left. His words remained ringing in his head like they were on repeat mode. He felt sorry for speaking to his friend in such a rude manner and even cursed himself for that. "Would Bruce do this?" He thought, his hands passing through his hair. "But why would he do that? I just thank God Praveen wasn't hurt or anything." Then his mind shifted to Praveen and he started thinking about why the boy would almost risk his life to go and save his life. There was something deep in his heart that was telling him something that he was denying and he didn't even want to accept. Shaking his head, he quickly picked up his phone and went to talk to some of the crew members. *** "How dare you?" Bruce barked, furiously screaming at the men in front of him. "I gave you a simple instruction, one!" He raised his finger, his face getting redder. The three men were looking at him without uttering a word. They were all dressed in black because they were thugs, dirty thugs from a village that he had hired to carry out his dirty job. Now they had failed and he was really mad. The men looked scary, muscular, and huge. He didn't fear them because he had hired them. "And what the fuck did you do?" He stamped his foot on the ground, making the men take a step back. "You completely failed because you're all failures." "But sir," The tall huge man complained, swallowing his saliva. "You told us to call him, tell him his husband was dying and we did that. How did we fail?" "Really?" Bruce chuckled bitterly, folding his arms on his chest. "What the fuck do you call that? That's a victory to you? No wonder you have no money at all because you mistake failure for victory and you're gonna be suffering for the rest of..." "Now that's enough sir." The man said rudely in a loud, deep manly voice. "We've already done our job. If this job was that easy then why didn't you do it yourself? Now, pay us for..." "Excuse me!" Andrea chimed in, walking furiously towards them. "Why should we pay you when you failed to do a simple job?" "Well, ma'am," He paused, opening his arms. "We did our job and..." "Well, sweetheart..." She chuckled, raising her eyebrows. "...you're not getting a penny because you couldn't do a simple job. Now we're gonna have to pay someone else to do your job for you so toodle-oo!" She winked, smiling like an evil queen from a fairytale. "Ma'am..." The man laughed, getting closer to both Andrea and Bruce. "...it's fine. Don't pay us. But I promise you..." He warned, pointing at Andrea with an evil grin. "...I know who you are and I am gonna go to your brother and tell him everything that you had hired us to do so don't play with me." Both Andrea and Bruce lost the smiles on their faces, replaced by frowns. Their hearts sounded like washing machines and their breaths became harsh. They looked at each other before they looked at the man. "Are you threatening us?" Bruce asked. "Threats? No!" The man shrugged, shaking his head. "Why would I threaten you? I am promising you because I know where your brother is. He's shooting a music video and it's not far from here?" Andrea was scared but she knew she was smarter than the men that were in that building. She just had to act smart and everything was gonna be okay. With a confident smile, she folded her arms on her chest. "And what makes you think he'll believe you over us? I am related to him, you know." The man laughed in a deep voice that scared Andrea to the core. "Then how did I know that they received a call that labeled him hurt and on his death bed?" The man gave an evil grin. Andrea lost her smile and confidence. "I will also tell them that you ordered the boy raped and hurt as well so madam, it's better if you cooperate otherwise..." He didn't need to finish the sentence because the two of them got it clear. Bruce was now really scared. He glanced at Andrea, feeling like his world was gonna crush. "Andrea, what are we gonna do?" Andrea groaned, got a bundle of dollars from her bag and furious threw it at the man. The man got the money, smelt it, and smiled like he'd won a lottery. "I am glad we understood each other." He warned then smiling at the end. "It was nice doing business with you and if you need our services..." He gestured with his hand. "...I am just a phone call away." With those words, the man left with his two gang members laughing at the top of his voice. "Son of a bitch!" Andrea cursed, angrily kicking a stone from the ground. "What are we gonna do now?" Bruce shuddered, acting like he was being chased by armed robbers. "Our plan didn't work." Andrea was quiet. She was thinking of something, how Praveen kept on getting lucky. "Andrea!" He screamed, getting an ugly look from her. "Please, say something. The shoot has probably already started and we... we have to do..." "Nothing!" Andrea hollered, looking at his friend. "What?" "You heard me!" She was being rude. "Right now, they probably suspect something's up. If you and I decide to do something to Praveen again or even the shoot, I am sure that they won't even have to look much. We'll be... I mean, you'll be the first suspect and once they find out the truth, you can kiss Antonio goodbye." Bruce knew Andrea was right but... "But we can't just..." "It's just a music video." She said in between clenched teeth. "It's not like Praveen and my brother are gonna have sex after. Chill!" She rolled her eyes. "Let's just focus on the grand plan. If we continue getting worked up because of petty issues, we're gonna lose this war. Come on!" Andrea started walking out of the building like she was on the runway. Bruce on the other hand just remained standing feeling like crying. He couldn't believe his plan had failed and now Praveen and Antonio were gonna appear in a music video together. He felt like pulling his hair out. "You're lucky this time Praveen." He said, rubbing his tears. "You can have your moment but I promise, you'll pay for this." *** "Welcome to my home..." Santiago hollered, opened his arms as he slowly spanned. "...you're welcome, welcome... Welcome..." Praveen chuckled, looking all around the grand mansion. It was super huge, though not like theirs. It was classy with white and golden decors, a chandelier, a double staircase that led upstairs, and a cozy living room with the whitest couches Praveen had ever seen and a huge golden table in the middle. It seemed really huge for a man that didn't have a huge family. But Praveen was impressed by the elegancy of it all. It sparkled and he felt out of place, just like he had felt the first time he'd stepped his foot into Antonio's mansion. He couldn't stop looking around. "Do you like it?" "Like it?" He was still looking around. "I swear to you that I love it." "I am humbled!" He slowly bowed, chuckling in the process. Then he held Praveen's hand sweetly, pulling him closer. He looked deep in his eyes and licked his lips sensually, smiling like he was going crazy. He had no idea why Praveen gave him a different feeling, something that he had never felt before. "Come on, mi senor..." He kissed his hand, making Praveen's eyes to water. "I will show you all around my house before I prepare for you a wonderful meal." "You?" Praveen was laughing at the top of his lungs. "Cook? Really?" "Hmm..." He tightened his grip on Praveen's hand. "Do I detect doubt in your voice, Mr. Praveen?" He slowly rubbed on his temple. "And until I taste your food, Mr. Santiago..." He replied pointing at him. "I won't believe that someone as rich and elegant as you can cook." "Okay then, get ready to be surprised." Both of them laughed and left to explore the huge mansion. Praveen had become so comfortable around Santiago, really comfortable that they even joked around each other. He'd never met a person as lively as Santiago. He felt like he could tell him anything, even his secrets, and the man wouldn't tell anyone. It had been over a week since Praveen and Antonio's video shoot and it had been a really busy and tiresome week. He was glad it was over because he didn't know if he would have taken another moment of being so close to Antonio. It had been giving him strange sensations. That week had been the longest they'd stayed with each other and being so close. He'd enjoyed it because Antonio had not been rude to him but rather sweet and the guy had been joking too. Anyway, he was just glad it was over. Praveen explored the house with Santiago and it was huge. There was no room that he saw in that house that he wasn't impressed by. But the most gorgeous one was Santiago's room. It looked like a king's room with a huge bed, a huge 3 in 1 bathroom, a walk-in closet for shoes and another for clothes. He was impressed. They stayed in Santiago's room, talking before they decided to go to the kitchen where Praveen got impressed once again by Santiago's culinary skills. The guy was talented. He cooked macaroni cheese with chicken nuggets and rice with sauce. It was delicious and Praveen enjoyed it a whole lot. He couldn't believe that someone as rich as Santiago could cook something so delicious. He always thought they had cooks at their houses that spoilt them. Now he had even more respect for the man. "Alright," Santiago said, patting on Praveen's shoulder. "I left the car keys in the room. Let me quickly rush there and go get them. Will you be okay here?" "Sure!" He nodded. The man smiled and run upstairs, leaving Praveen alone in the living room. He started moving around, admiring the wonderful decors there. In a little while, Santiago was gonna be married and he wasn't gonna be living alone in that huge mansion anymore. Andrea was gonna be there to keep him company. He felt really happy for Santiago and Andrea but deep down, he was not at peace. He still wondered if Andrea was gonna make Santiago happy. He was still in thought when he heard someone clear his voice and didn't even need to guess because he knew that it was Santiago. "Finally done with..." But when he turned, his mouth froze and so did his entire body. It was Santiago but a handsome, muscular, well-built tall guy standing in front of him. He had a cute round face, a well-built body like an athlete, and a smile like that of an angel, or so Praveen thought. He was dressed in a dark gray designer's suit with a pink shirt and light gray shoes. He had hair that was short on the sides and long in the middle but was pitch black. Seeing him smile, Praveen couldn't help but smile himself. "Hello..." He greeted in a nervous tone. "Hi!" He was still smiling and his voice was deep. "You're beautiful." "Err..." Praveen took a glance towards the staircase but there was no sign of Santiago anywhere. "Thanks a lot but..." "Logan!" He said, extending his hand forward. "My name is Logan and I happen to be Santiago's elder brother." Praveen gasped, smiling even brighter. "Oh!" He shook the man's hand nervously. "Nice to meet you, sir." "Sir?" The man's eyes widened. "You're making me feel older than my age. You can call me Logan, besides, we're soon going to be family." He laughed. "Yeah," Praveen scratched his head. "Well, it's nice to meet you, si... Logan." Logan laughed at the top of his voice. He was a really happy man, especially since his brother was getting married before him. He had no idea how to express his happiness. "My pleasure!" Logan finally let go of Praveen's hand. "But tell me," He asked, folding his arms on his chest but he was still wearing that smile on his face. "How did my brother land someone like you? Must have taken him months before you finally agreed, right?" Praveen's eyes widened as his mouth gaped. "Oh no," He shook his head. "You've mistaken this, Logan. I am not the one Santiago is marrying." Praveen watched as Logan's smile faded, replaced by a huge frown. He had no idea why Logan's happy face went away. He was just hoping that he hadn't said anything wrong to Logan. "What?" Logan gasped, still frowning. "I thought you were his fiancé. He told me that he had met someone really special and..." "Logan!" Santiago came rushing down the stairs, feeling his heart pounding in his chest. Reaching down the stairs, he gave him a quick hug and smiled brightly at him. "You've finally arrived. I thought you weren't gonna be here until late evening." But his brother's eyes were still on Praveen who was starting to feel uncomfortable. "Bro, I was just speaking to him and he..." "Yeah, I heard." He quickly chimed in. "Praveen is my fiancé's brother in law. She's a good girl and I'll introduce you to her tomorrow morning. Praveen is married to Antonio Gonzalez, the famous musician." Santiago was feeling like he'd just escaped a wildfire. He had been talking a lot about Praveen that he hadn't even had the time to explain to his brother who he was marrying. He had told him that it was gonna be a surprise. Now his brother was thinking it was Praveen. "Oh..." His smile came back. "I am sorry, Praveen." He apologized. "I thought it was you." "It's okay." Praveen gave him the same kind of gesture. "Don't worry about it." "Bro, I was just taking him back. We'll see you later." The two brothers hugged once more before Praveen and Santiago left. *** Two weeks later * 'Even if the moonlight shut down, your love for me would still shine brighter. My life has changed, taken another turn since the day I found you. Now I am walking on sunshine, breathing in your love, Your love is intoxicating and whenever I am with you, I feel complete. Now let me show you how much I love you, Take me higher than I ever could. Baby take me slowly as we dance under the moonlight. Take me slowly as we dance in the ocean, slow as we move all around the bedroom, slow as I kiss your lips and hold you in my arms." The song was playing... The video was playing on the huge T.V screen which made everyone's eyes to be glued there. The beat, the rhythm, the lyrics, the concept, and the video itself was to die for. It was more than anyone had ever expected it to be. It was romantic and heartwarming. Finally! The video everyone had been waiting for had finally come and it was hotter than anyone had ever expected. The video was too good. Everyone was in the living room at the edge of their couches with their eyes on the TV, even Andrea and Bruce were also there. Antonio and Praveen were dancing on the video playing and they looked really cute. Antonio had his arm tightly wrapped around Praveen's waist. His other hand was holding Praveen's leg up while he stared into his face like he wanted to devour him. The way they stared at each other, with so much love that it made granny and Emilia cry. The chemistry they portrayed on set was nothing like anyone had ever seen before. Their closeness, the rhythm with which they breathed, and their body language. Then suddenly, Praveen shyly moved away from Antonio but was pulled back again into a warm embrace with Antonio behind him and his arms tightly wrapped around him. He sensually kissed his neck but Praveen turned and was now facing Antonio. Antonio's head started getting closer to Praveen's lips, his eyes almost closing as Praveen gave a killer smile. Where Bruce was watching, he felt his seat get hotter and he felt like someone was pricking him with hot needles. Tears built in his eyes as his heart started racing. He couldn't believe Antonio was about to kiss Praveen. It hurt a lot... But just when Antonio's lips were touching Praveen's, Praveen quickly put his hand on Antonio's lip, getting away from him. Then he ran away, leaving Antonio smiling and then singing... 'Why does it always have to be this way?' He sang, smiling as his eyes shone with love. 'Why can't I get enough of you each time we are together?' The scene switched to a beautiful beach where Praveen is talking to models and Antonio is holding a camera but staring at Praveen like he had seen an angel. Praveen was putting on a dark blue T-shirt with white shorts and slippers on his feet. His hair was just loose and he looked like an angel. He sat on a small chair, instructing the models on how to pose. Antonio smiled and started taking pictures of Praveen instead, staring at him nonstop. Then it switched to where they were chasing each other on the beach and to where Antonio was lying on the sand with Praveen on top of him. He had his hands on his waist, holding him tightly. The video continued playing to several scenes where Antonio and Praveen played romantically, holding each other and teasing each other lovingly. They played in the bedroom and a romantic scene where both of them were in the hot tub with Praveen between Antonio's legs and Antonio holding him tightly while kissing his neck. The video ended with Praveen reaching his hotel and Antonio trying to kiss his lips but Praveen stopped him and kissed his cheeks as well. "You're gonna have to work for that," Praveen said with a sexy wink, slowly turning to enter his hotel. Antonio remained standing there, scratching his head and watching the gorgeous beauty as he walked inside, rocking Antonio's heart. "Until then, mi Hermosa." He winked and the video ended. As soon as it did, everyone started clapping hard. That everyone being granny, Eduardo, Emilia, Celine, Ethan, and some housemaids that had been watching with them. They clapped hard while the three villains in the house just stared at Praveen with jealous in their eyes and evil plans in their minds. He had to leave. "Wow! You guys are the best." Emilia said as she rubbed her tears. "Do you know how happy this makes me?" Antonio scratched his head, taking a deep sigh. He had had the hardest week ever while shooting that video. He didn't just have to be around Praveen, he had to be close to him. It had been hard and there had been moments when he felt like he was gonna make a mistake. But he was glad he pulled through. One thing though that he couldn't deny was the fact that he had enjoyed shooting that video more than he had enjoyed any of his videos. It had been epic. "We just had to do our best, mother." He looked at Praveen, smiling brightly. Unfortunately, the boy didn't see his smile. "But I think it's because I had the best model they could ever find out there." Suddenly, he did something that shocked Praveen. He took his hand in front of everyone, rubbed on it sweetly, and smiled brightly. When Praveen raised his face, it was to be captured by a smile so bright that it melted his heart. His heart started racing as his body felt cold, except for the area where Antonio was holding him. He couldn't believe what he was hearing from Antonio. Somehow, he wanted to believe that Antonio was just pretending. But from that smile on his face, he knew that he might have been telling the truth. "Thank you so much for making my three videos a success." Praveen blushed, feeling nervous. "I just had to do my best. It was you that did the hard work." "Well, in my opinion," Ethan enthused, getting up quickly from the couch, looking at both of them with a tablet in his hand. "You both did a very wonderful job by taking this video higher. Do you know that..." He started scrolling down on his tablet. "...this video has topped the charts not only in our country but 73 other countries. Your fans are going crazy and they're asking for more. Your chemistry with Praveen on set was wonderful and I as your manager and your best has decided to grant your fans what they want." "What do you mean?" Andrea asked, feeling her heart race. For some reason, she knew that what Ethan was gonna say was gonna be nothing but bad news for her and Bruce. "What I mean is that, for the album cover and all the posters, we're gonna use Prantonio's photo to raise his image to higher grounds." "Prantonio, what?" Andrea was confused. "Oh!" Ethan chuckled nervously, looking at her with a smile. "It's a name we have found for Praveen and Antonio, a combination." Andrea's heart sank. She wanted to say something but she felt her tongue get heavy and just looked at Bruce, seeing his heartbreaking. Ethan sighed, shaking his head. "Anyway, the fans have been suggesting it and I think it's good for the market." "I agree." Granny nodded, staring at her grandson. "This will be good for business. We always have to give our fans what they want, right?" "Right!" Eduardo nodded. "That's the truth." They all laughed, except for Andrea and Bruce and of course, Emma who had suddenly become speechless. She didn't find fault in the video that Praveen and Antonio had made but she didn't just like Praveen. He had ruined the video for her and she wasn't gonna let it go. He was gonna pay sooner or later. The rest of the family members started talking happily, telling Antonio just how proud they were of him for making such a great achievement. Antonio sat with his family, talking to them and appreciating them for their support. Where Praveen was standing, he was watching the lovely scene before him. He couldn't help but smile although... his eyes weren't really on everyone there. They were on Antonio only. The way Antonio was smiling... the way he was staring at everyone there... The way his lips moved as he talked... the way he moved his hands. He couldn't understand what was going on with him. His heart was racing and he couldn't help but go down memory lane as he stared at Antonio. He remembered how close he had been to Antonio... The way he had been holding him close to his body... The way he had been smiling at him... The way he had been dancing with him and although Praveen had no idea about dancing, Antonio had helped him and made things easier for him. When he remembered the time their lips had touched, he felt a shiver go down his spine and he couldn't help but bite his lip. Shit! There was a tingly sensation that was making him feel nervous. He knew he had to calm down because there was no way he was gonna let what he was feeling control him. It had just been a onetime thing and now they were back to their normal lives. Antonio had probably felt disgusted by it... But if only he knew what had been going on. "He's cute, isn't he?" He was gotten out of his thoughts when he heard a voice. It was Bruce and Praveen didn't even bother staring at him. "Better take a very good look at him because that's all you'll ever get." He laughed, mocking the boy. "Don't think that just because you did a video with him, you've now grown wings. I will clip them, cut them off, and throw you back to the ground where you belong." With that warning, Bruce quickly turned and left the living room. There was no way he was gonna stay there. He was followed by Andrea who had also felt suffocated. But Praveen didn't feel threatened. He just stood there, still smiling and feeling happy. *** "This is the room, sir." The handsome butler said with a smile, pointing to the closed door. "You can go in. It's the door on the right." "Thank you so much," Santiago said with a smile on his face. He was pressed and wanted a release, especially after having so many drinks downstairs. He had known that having so many drinks had been a bad idea and now he was badly in need of a release. He felt like his bladder was gonna burst if he didn't pee. Quickly opening the door, he rushed inside and didn't even bother to check the room. He just went straight to the door he was instructed to open and felt alive when he saw the toilet. He didn't even take a second and he started taking a leak and when it finally came out, he breathed in deeply, closing his eyes. He finished his business, washed his hand, and got out of the bathroom. Santiago was getting out of the bathroom without even seeing when he was going. Suddenly, he bumped hard into someone and before he even knew what he was doing, they both fell to the ground with him being on top of that person. "Oh my God," He gasped. "I am so sorry." When he looked into the face of the person, his heart nearly missed a beat as he felt suddenly hot. His eyes almost widened and then... he didn't know what he felt. "Praveen!" He gasped, getting lost in his eyes. "I... I am sorry." To say Praveen was surprised would be an understatement. First, he hadn't expected Santiago to be in his room and not even in the house. He was surprised and he felt frozen. He couldn't move. And it wasn't because of that weight on top of him, it was because he was shocked. "Santiago, what... what are you doing here?" His voice sounded a bit hoarse. "Geez!" Santiago slowly got up, helping Praveen up as well. "Can you please forgive me, I had no idea that you were coming here?" He wasn't familiar with the house. No one had given him a tour of the house. "What are you saying?" Praveen asked, folding his arms on his chest. "This is Antonio and my room and I was surprised that you were here. I mean..." "Oh my God," Santiago felt his heart race. He felt a bit ashamed. "I just came to take a leak and I had no idea this was your room. The guy that had shown me didn't say anything to me, otherwise, I wouldn't have come here. I am sorry, Praveen. I am truly..." "Will you please shut up?" Praveen laughed, hitting Santiago jokingly on the chest. "I am not complaining. I had no idea you had come to the house and I also had no idea that you would be in my room." "Yeah!" He scratched his head, feeling a bit shy. "I know I should have informed you. But..." He cleared his throat, staring into Praveen's eyes with a smile. "...I came to pick Andrea up. With the engagement coming up, there's a lot to do, like shopping and just spending more time." "Oh..." Praveen chuckled nervously. "Well then, you should run along. She's probably waiting for you and you wouldn't wanna keep a lady waiting. It's kinda rude." "But I wanted to ask something and..." "Not in here and not at such a time," Praveen complained. "I will see you later, okay? Bye!" Santiago chuckled, raising his eyebrow. He was feeling really happy and nervous at the same time. "Alright!" He simply gave up. "I will see you sooner than you think." "Go!" Praveen pointed towards the door. Santiago chuckled and then gave Praveen a quick kiss on the cheek before he hurriedly left. Praveen watched as Santiago left with a smile on his face and he couldn't help but smile too. Things had been great for him for almost a week since the video had come out and was still topping the charts all over the world. All the three videos were a hit, and Praveen and Antonio had a romantic picture on the billboard which of course, Bruce had thrown a tantrum on. Antonio had been a bit nice to him and just a few days back, he had even brought him ice cream although he had teased him about it. Now all Praveen was praying for was just for the wedding to go smoothly for a happy soul like Santiago. He knew he had a lot of work to do for the engagement and also the wedding. He was gonna do everything for the happiness of Santiago. *** Praveen came out of the bathroom, toweling his hair. He had just come from taking a hot shower and now he was feeling cool and fresh. He was already dressed in a yellow designer's t-shirt, black skinny jeans and sandals on his feet that made him look simple. He had spectacles on and he was looking like a total nerd. Coming into the room, he nearly screamed at what he saw. A not so dry towel on the floor, a comb on the bed... The room was looking messy and he couldn't remember leaving the room like that. It had been in perfect condition. And if that had not been enough, Antonio was lying on the bed busy smiling on his phone, probably chatting with his boyfriend. But he didn't care. He took a deep breath, put his towel where it was supposed to be, and started picking the things on the floor. "Unbelievable!" He groaned, eyeing the guy like he wanted to throw him those things. "You're like a kid sometimes, Antonio. You're always leaving things lying around. I don't just understand the reason why you can't just be putting things where you found them before you used them. How hard can it be?" "What's the need?" Antonio answered without even looking at Praveen. He was chatting with Bruce and he was in a good mood. "I have you to clean up after I leave them lying around." "Really?" Praveen raised his head, chuckling to himself. "Anyway, I don't expect to hear anything better from you. You're such a lazy guy." Hearing what Praveen had just said, Antonio jumped out of the bed and went straight to him. He stood still with his hands on his hips, shaking his head. Then out of the blue, he burst into laughter. "I want an apology for that." He laughed. "Would a lazy guy release a video and it stays on top up to date? I worked hard, day, and night for..." "Excuse me..." Praveen chimed in, laughing in mock. "I was also in that video too." "But you were not singing." He mocked. "I did the hard job while you just helped the easy part." He got closer to Praveen, staring into his eyes. "I think I deserve some rest after that. I don't need to do such small jobs because I am a star." He laughed when Praveen's mouth gaped. Praveen couldn't believe he'd just heard that from Antonio. He shook his head, threw the things he had on the bed, and gave Antonio a stern look. But before he could say anything... "It seems all husbands always have the same attitude." A voice was heard. Both Antonio and Praveen looked and saw granny coming in slowly, staring at the both of them. She came and stood in front of them, staring at them with a serious look. "They all seem to think we owe them something." "Granny!" Antonio chuckled nervously. "How long have you been standing there?" "Long enough!" She said as if she didn't care. "Long enough to hear everything you said." Then she looked at Praveen. "Dear, all husbands think the same. They think we're just there to clean up after them. I also heard the same from his grandfather and his father." Antonio scratched his head, giving his granny puppy eyes. When Praveen saw this, he laughed inwardly. Antonio seemed lovely when he was looking at his granny. "Anyway," She chuckled. "That's not why I came here." "Really?" Antonio frowned a bit. "I hope there's no problem." "Not at all." She said assuredly, rubbing on his shoulder. "It's just that you have to go and get your grandmother from the village for Andrea's engagement." "Grandma Katy!" Antonio gasped, his eyes widening. Katy was granny's younger sister and Antonio knew just how crazy she was. She was a very religious woman, well mannered, charitable, very nice, honest and loving but crazy. She used to tease him at every chance she got. He was no even wondering why she hadn't attended his wedding because she would have made some kinda drama at his wedding. Praveen on the other hand was confused and a bit nervous. He was gonna meet another family member, someone he had no idea of. What if she was gonna hate him like Andrea and Emma, he thought as he started playing with his nails? That was gonna be hell for him because he knew just how grannies were, especially if they didn't like someone. But he was hoping for the best. "Yes!" Granny nodded. "She called me this morning and she warned me that if I was gonna marry off her granddaughter without her as I did with you, she was gonna chop my neck off." "What?" As he said, she was crazy. "But granny, why me? Shouldn't she come by bus or train or we can just..." "No!" She chirped, shaking her head in disagreement. "She specifically said you have to go and pick her up or she's not coming. And she said you need to go there with your new groom." Praveen's heart raced as he heard what granny had just said to him. He felt his knees get weak and his body get cold. He got really scared and nervous like he had a huge lump in his throat. He tried to talk but he couldn't do it. Antonio took a glance at Praveen and sighed. "But granny, it's a seven-hour drive from the capital to that village and..." "Then better start now." She chimed in, smiling at him like she was teasing him. "You don't wanna keep her waiting and Andrea's engagement party is in three days. She needs to be here by tomorrow evening so that we can perform some of the things together." Somehow, Antonio was pissed. He had promised his boyfriend that they were gonna go on a date that evening and only a few hours were remaining. What was he gonna think, especially after telling him that he was gonna go to pick his granny with Praveen? Bruce had been hurt because of the music video and Antonio had promised him that they were gonna on a date that evening and spend the entire night together at his hotel. He had also planned on making love to him that evening. "Hey!" Granny snapped her finger in his face, bringing him to reality. HE almost jumped up. "Are you okay? What are you thinking about?" "Nothing!" He tried his best to smile, making her roll his eyes. "Okay then, get prepared and I..." She turned and faced Praveen, smiling even brighter. "...dear can you come downstairs. I need us to make some prayers to the almighty for the journey you and your husband are about to take." Praveen nodded but he was still nervous and she saw through him. "And don't worry. My sister is crazy but I am sure she'll like on the first encounter." She promised. And when Praveen nodded, she tapped on his shoulder and left. "Great!" Antonio hit his head with one hand on his hip. "People in this house know how to ruin my plans. I am sure you're happy." He faced Praveen, giving him an angry look. "This is your entire fault because I had plans to be with my boyfriend today." Praveen couldn't take what Antonio was giving him. He wasn't gonna let him blame him for something that he had no idea of. "Oh..." He looked at Antonio like he had said something bad. "...don't blame me for this because I am not excited to spend time with you either. This will probably be the worst seven hours of my life being with you. As if that shoot wasn't bad enough." He sighed, shaking his head. Then he quickly left the room, leaving Antonio there alone and staring at him. Antonio felt a slow but sharp pain hit him right in the heart. He got hurt somehow and he couldn't deny that it was because of the words that Praveen had used. Praveen had just told him that he regretted shooting that video with him, a moment that Antonio had appreciated. It was painful and he got angry to some extent. With a hiss, he picked up his phone to call his boyfriend but it was unavailable. He tried again but it was still unavailable. "Great!" He threw the phone on the bed. "As if I am not having enough problems with Bruce." But he couldn't do anything. He had no choice but to go and pick his grandmother in the next town by car. He groaned angrily and went to get changed for the journey. *** Antonio slowly and carefully stepped on the breaks to reduce the speed of the car because he didn't wanna run into anything since it had been long since he had driven along that route. He had been driven the time he had used it. Now he had to be careful. It was dangerous to speed on a road that he wasn't that familiar with. He was dressed in a beautiful white designer's shirt that was halfway buttoned-up, a dark blue designer's trousers, and black shoes on feet. He had a band around his head which made him look sexy. He had spoken a word to Praveen since they had left the mansion because he had been too busy thinking about his boyfriend and how he was gonna feel. That and because by the time he had come back to his senses, he had found Praveen fast asleep. He had been sleeping for as long as he could remember. Antonio had been driving for over 4 hours and he knew he still had three hours or more due to the speed at which he was driving. He had stopped during the way to get some food and water but Praveen had still been sleeping right there next to him. He took a glance over his shoulder and saw the boy sleeping beautifully and soundless. Antonio couldn't deny the fact that Praveen was looking handsome in his sleep. He was wearing a purple t-shirt that made him look cute, a black designer's skinny jeans that showed his marvelous body, and yellow snickers on his feet. He had his hair tied into a ponytail and though he was putting on glasses, he still looked cute. He also had a scarf wrapped around his neck. Antonio was so caught in his beauty that he didn't even realize he was smiling. The thing that got him out of that smile was the gorgeous groan from Praveen. He was waking up. Antonio quickly shook his head and concentrated on driving. Praveen might have been looking beautiful but Bruce was still the most beautiful to him. Praveen yawned, stretching his arms widely. When he slowly opened his eyes, he realized that it was already dark. He quickly took a glance at his phone and realized that it was just 6:30 pm. At that time, it wasn't supposed to be that dark. He took a glance out the window and just realized that the whole sky was filled with dark clouds. He was just hoping that they were almost near the town, otherwise it looked like it was about to rain heavily. "Are we there yet?" Praveen asked, looking at his husband. "It has gotten dark." "Oh..." Antonio chuckled, his mind still focused on driving. "Are we there yet? Welcome back, Prince. Is there anything that you would like your servant to give you?" Praveen rolled his eyes. "Are you serious, Antonio? This is no time to joke around. I haven't been to this place and..." "Then why don't you drive?" He laughed. "Perhaps I have no idea where I am going." "Really?" He sighed. "You're impossible. I am just worried because..." "Do you ever have happy thoughts?" Antonio asked with a stern look. "Nothing is gonna happen, okay. At least, nothing worse than being with you." "Excuse me!" Praveen gasped, his eyes widening. "Don't blame me for your misfortunes. Both of us had found ourselves in this situation and I am not exactly happy being with you." "That makes the two of us. Only God knows what Bruce is thinking of me right now. It was supposed to be a great night for me but because of you..." "Yeah, right." Praveen sighed, folding his arms on his chest. "Because of me, you're stuck on the road with me. I get it. I have heard that a lot today. I wonder why I woke up." "Makes me wonder too. I was enjoying the ride until you woke up." Praveen just looked at Antonio, shaking his head. There was no way he was gonna be arguing with him the entire journey because he didn't have the strength. So he just decided to keep quiet and think happy thoughts the entire journey. It was barely thirty seconds of quietness when lightning suddenly split the sky, making it seem like it was daylight. Praveen's heart pounded harshly and in shock, he quickly moved and gripped Antonio's arm, burying his head there. Praveen was afraid of lightning more than anything. It had always given him chills ever since he was very young and it was no exception that he was now with Antonio. He just buried his head there, breathing in Antonio's expensive, strong cologne. Antonio on the other hand was shocked when he felt Praveen's strong grip on his arm. He quickly looked at him, seeing his head buried on his arm. He could feel his hot breath and at first, he thought he found it rather cute and amusing and he also smiled. But suddenly, he came back to his senses and furiously released Praveen's grip from his arm. Praveen slowly raised his head only to stare into Antonio's beautiful eyes. Then he took a glance at the sky and felt at peace when there was no more lightning. But it looked like it was going to rain and heavily too. "What do you think you're doing? Are you trying to kill us both?" He said, rather rudely. "I am sorry." Praveen apologized. "It's just that I am afraid of..." "Really?" Antonio laughed at the top of his voice, hitting at the driving wheel. "Who would have known? I wish that lightning had split on your head so that you could have stopped ruining my life." Praveen couldn't believe what he was hearing. "I wish the same too. But this one's for you." He rolled his eyes, leaned to the window, and just started looking out, hoping that the rain wasn't gonna be bad. There were already drizzles starting and Praveen was kinda scared and there was also an unfamiliar tingling sensation in his gut and he had no idea why he felt that way. He just prayed to the almighty to guide their way. After all, granny and he had prayed about this journey before they left. So what was to be worried about? *** The wind was blowing terribly, blowing the curtains on all sides... Lightning split the sky every second and thunder was heard almost immediately... It was dark but with the way lightning was splitting the sky every second, one would have mistaken it for daylight. There was a swooshing sound that sounded like someone was whistling at a distance. Things were falling to the floor, ornaments, and all the candles just went off. Yet, here he was. Seated on the floor with his legs folded and his hands on each leg with his eyes completely shut. His hair together with his long beards was being blown away. He wasn't scared or anything. He just kept on meditating, trying to listen to the almighty's call and his words. Things were scattered in the temple, but the idol of the almighty seemed to stand still, his eyes open and his hand stretched as if he was blessing his priest, giving him strength. Then suddenly, the priest opened his eyes widely, staring at the almighty's statue. "Who am I to disobey your words?" He said in a loud voice. "I am nothing but your servant. The boy has been your devotee and if this is what you want to happen then so be it." He slowly stood up, got his staff, and just sighed, shaking his head. He looked really worried because of the vision he had just gotten. Something was gonna happen that night and not just that night, things were gonna happen, things that were gonna test Praveen’s faith. "How long will you continue to test him?" He sighed, hitting the staff on the floor. "I hope you are ready, Praveen." *** "Mother!" Emilia came rushing down the stairs, running to where granny was seated, reading a newspaper. Emilia had a scarf wrapped around herself because it was so damn cold. She was really worried because the rain wasn't only heavy but it was windy as well. She knew very well that her son and her son in law had gone to the next town to pick up their grandmother and she was sure that they hadn't reached. She was bound to be worried. "Emilia!" Granny put the newspaper down, removing her reading glasses. "What's wrong?" "Mother, you know Antonio and Praveen left late this afternoon for the next town. It's raining heavily and I have been trying to reach them but their phones are off. It seems the storm has disrupted the network." Granny looked at her daughter and smiled. "You don't have to be worried. The almighty will keep them safe. Praveen and I made some prayer this afternoon before they left. Don't get yourself worked up. They'll call when they reach there." "But I am a mother." She complained, hitting on her head. "I am bound to be worried. My children are not here and..." "Emilia, don't worry." She held her hand, making her sit. "I know how you feel. If it will make you feel better, why don't we make some prayers?" "Yeah!" She nodded without wasting any time. "Please!" Granny chuckled and both of them left the living room to go and make some prayers. *** Praveen was leaning towards the window, still looking outside. He was thanking his lucky stars that they rain wasn't pouring, just the drizzles that made the window wet. They had been driving for almost an hour since he had woken up and they hadn't seen a single person or house. He was just hoping they were near because he was really bored and tired. He hadn't spoken to Antonio just like they had agreed they wouldn't. Suddenly, the car gave a sharp jerk that got Praveen out of his thoughts. He raised his head, took a glance at Antonio, and prayed that nothing was wrong. He felt his heart begin to race but eventually stopped when everything seemed to be back to normal. Then again, the car gave a few but sharp consecutive jerks that made Praveen's heart to pound deep in his chest. He put his hands on his thighs, gripping them tightly. He was now scared. He moved his eyes to his husband and when their eyes met, he saw nothing but worry on Antonio's face. Okay, now he was panicking. He knew that something was wrong and that wasn't the place or the time for anything to go bad. He closed his eyes, started giving a prayer. But suddenly, the car gave the mother of all jerks that made Praveen grip his husband's arm. Antonio on the other hand got scared when Praveen gripped his arm and the jerks weren't helping anything. He knew that if he didn't do anything, they were gonna land into an accident. So he did what any normal driver in his situation would have done. He slowed the car down and got off the road, stopping the car. Praveen slowly opened his eyes when he felt the car stopped. He let go of Antonio, looking shyly at him. He wanted to ask him what the hell was going on but he was too scared to ask. Plus, he had no idea how Antonio was gonna answer him. He didn't wanna get insulted by him. Antonio tore his eyes from Praveen, trying to start the car but it couldn't. He tried once again but it would look as if it had started and then stop all of a sudden. He tried severally but it wouldn't start. He knew from that time that they were really in trouble. "Is there anything wrong?" Praveen shuddered, his voice breaking. "Err... I don't know. It just won't start." He said as he opened the door only to be welcomed by the drizzles which were getting a bit worse. As he closed the door, Praveen opened his side of the door and got out. Antonio switched on his phone torchlight and started inspecting the car, hoping that it wasn't worse. But everything seemed to be fine with the tires. He then popped the trunk open to go and check what was wrong. He was suspecting the battery but as soon as he tried to check it, his phone went off. "What?" He tried to switch it on but it wouldn't. "Great!" He shifted to Praveen. "Hey, can I use your phone torchlight?" Praveen nodded and slipped his phone from his pocket but to his surprise, it was off. He couldn't switch it back on. "Great!" He groaned, looking at his husband. "It's off." "Shit!" Antonio swore, hitting his head. "How are we supposed to know what the problem is? It's so damn dark." He went back to the car to check if there was a torchlight or something he could use to see what the problem was. But unfortunately for him, there was nothing there. He came back to Praveen but before he could tell him the bad news, lighting split in the sky making everywhere bright for a second followed by terrible thunder that made even Antonio scared. Praveen had his ears covered and his eyes closed shut. He was breathing like he was being chased by a predator, his heart racing miles. When he felt a hand on his shoulder, he almost jumped. He quickly opened his eyes and found Antonio looking at him, squeezing his shoulder. "Don't be scared. It's just lightning and I am here." Praveen nodded. He felt a bit confident at Antonio's words and decided to trust. All of a sudden, there was a strong wind that blew there, and almost immediately, really heavy rain started pouring. Shit! Now Praveen knew that things had gotten worse. "Shit! The rain has started pouring and we need some shelter." Antonio had to shout just so that Praveen could hear him. "We need to keep warm." "Yeah," Praveen said just as thunder roared, followed by lightning. He was scared and wet in a matter of seconds. "I see a house just over there." He pointed, making Antonio turn. "Are you sure?" "Yes!" He shouted at the top of his voice. "Maybe there's someone there that can help us. We can't stay in the car because of the storm." "I think you're right. Let me lock the car." Antonio locked the car quickly and both of them rushed quickly to the little house. Reaching there, they knocked and knocked but there was no answer. Antonio tried to push the door and it opened on its own. They looked at each other before they rushed inside, closing the wooden door. They were drenched wet, really cold, and shivering too. The rain had made them wet all over and it was a cold night. "Hello!" Antonio called in his deep manly voice. "Anyone here?" But when there was light from lightning, they saw that there was no one there. The place seemed to be abandoned because there were piles of grass everywhere and some wood. It was just a single room and maybe someone had abandoned that place. "I don't think there's anyone," Antonio said softly, rubbing his arms. "And it's really cold. We need to find some light otherwise, we won't see anything." But before he had even thought of that, Praveen was already moving his hands on the shelf, trying to find something that would help them. His hands caught something, matches and he felt really happy. He lit one match stick and got even happier when he saw an oil lamp just nearby. He lit it up, making most of the place brighter. Antonio was impressed by Praveen that he couldn't help but smile. "Oh my God!" Praveen gasped, putting the lamp down and rushing to his husband. He took his hand, staring at it with worry on his face. "You're bleeding Antonio. How did you get hurt?" "What?" Antonio had no idea he had gotten hurt. He quickly looked at his hand and saw blood there followed by a shot of pain. He had a cut on his left hand and it was blood. "I had no idea. It must have been from when I was opening the door." "I need to bandage it with something." But what. Praveen looked around but there was nothing that he could use. So he did what he thought was right. He ripped his scarf, got a piece, and carefully tied on Antonio's wound, preventing him from bleeding more. As he did, Antonio kept on staring at him with a smile on his face. The way Praveen cared for him at times, no one had ever done that except for his mother and his granny. He was extremely happy. Maybe Praveen wasn't that bad after all. "That should stop the bleeding," Praveen said, smiling happily. "Does it hurt that bad?" Antonio couldn't utter a word. He just shook his head, his eyes still glued on the boy. "No! It doesn't hurt that bad now that you've taken care of it." Praveen smiled shyly and sighed. "That lamp won't see us through the night. We need to make a fire." Praveen started gathering some sticks and small wood that he found there. The entire place was made of wood and half of the room had iron sheets while half had grass. He knew that the smoke was gonna be able to escape and they were gonna be just fine. While he did that, Antonio sat down on a pile of grass and just watched as Praveen put the grass and would together, making a small fire. He was really impressed and couldn't help but admire the boy. He seemed determined with what he was doing and just like he had said, the lamp went off. When Praveen made the fire, he went to where Antonio was seated. "You need to get warm. It's raining heavily and you might catch a cold." Antonio gave a half-smile and moved towards the fire, starting to feel the warmth. But he knew that he was gonna continue feeling cold unless he took off his clothes. But then again, he didn't know if he wanted to get undressed in front of Praveen. But what was the big deal again? He started with his shoes and socks. He took them off, putting them aside. His feet felt a bit numb. Then he took off slowly unbuttoned his shirt, revealing his hairy muscular, sexy chest. He carefully placed the shirt on the grass for it to dry and then unbuckled his belt, taking off his trouser too. He carefully placed it on the grass for it to dry too. Now he was only in his black boxer brief, standing close to the fire with his hands stretched forward, rubbing them together to keep warm. His brief was also wet but there was no way he was gonna take it off and remain naked in front of Praveen. He wouldn't do it on his... Holy shit! Antonio froze when he raised his head to look around and found a scene that captured his mind and his very soul. It was Praveen and God, Antonio's heart began racing almost instantly. His eyes widened as a warm sensation ran down his body, making him groan. Praveen was standing just a distance away from him with his hair forward, rubbing on it with his torn scarf, trying to dry it. But he was not putting on his skinny jean. He was only wearing his t-shirt which didn't cover much. Antonio couldn't help but watch. Praveen's legs were hairless, really gorgeous and he was putting on a gray brief that made him look sexy, especially with his feminine shape and gorgeous, smooth skin that made him look like an angel. Antonio tried to look away... he did but the next second, he was staring again. Everything seemed to be moving in slow motion. The way Praveen had bent his head on one side, rubbing the scarf in his long wet hair that made him look like he was a model trying to seduce a client. He flipped his hair and Antonio lost his cool. He tried to close his eyes and opened them again but Praveen was still moving in slow motion. "No!" He thought. "Stop looking, Antonio. Stop it!" But his heart was telling him to continue looking. When Praveen took ahold of the hem of his t-shirt to rub his face, Antonio took a glance at his ass though in the boxer and he lost it. He felt a myriad of emotions hit him like a log and he took a step back. Hunger, coldness, hotness, nervousness, fear, even lust. He felt a cold shiver run down his spine to his cock and he felt it start to rise. Praveen started rubbing his hair again and Antonio's heart caught fire, a fire that he couldn't put off. He had no idea what was happening to him... He was trembling in fear... his heart was racing, pounding deep in his chest... his breaths were really quick and harsh like he was in heat and his body was both cold and hot. Antonio had no idea when he had started moving towards Praveen or when he had reached there. By the time he was realizing it, his trembling hands were moving towards Praveen's waist as he stared at his neck like he was dying to sink his teeth there. Fear had taken control of him mixed with lust such that he couldn't think straight. His cock was semi-hard and he was starting to leak. He wanted to run away but he was not in control of his body anymore. Something really powerful had taken control of his body. Antonio wanted to retract his hands but too late, they reached Praveen's waist and wrapped themselves around him. Praveen felt like he'd been connected to an electric cable when Antonio's arms hands touched his waist. He stood still, feeling weak as the scarf he was holding dropped to the floor. His eyes widened as his heart missed a beat and his body felt cold except his waist. He was starting to breathe harshly and he had no idea what the hell was going on. He opened his mouth to speak but when he felt Antonio's lips kiss his neck sensually, he simply got weak in the knees. He wanted to drop to the floor but Antonio's hands had tightened around him that he couldn't even move. "What's going on?" He asked loudly. But he realized that he hadn't spoken a word at all. His mind was playing tricks on him. He wanted to run away but feeling Antonio's lips kissing his neck made him weak and he had a strange tingling sensation that was going up and down his spine, awakening his hormones. He was overcome by a myriad of emotions that he couldn't control. He was starting to feel tears building in his eyes. Antonio's hands moved up Praveen's waist to his chest. He slowly turned him and now they were staring into each other's eyes, soul to soul. All Antonio saw in Praveen's eyes was a fiery passion that he had never seen in anyone's eyes before. His trembling hand moved to Praveen's face, rubbing on it. Praveen closed his eyes as he took in a deep breath, trying to convince himself that it was all a dream. But when he opened them again, it was to look in Antonio's lovely, fiery eyes. He was hypnotized and didn't know what to do. Antonio was staring into Praveen's eyes, breathing like a predator in heat. His cock was now really hard, throbbing in his brief and releasing a huge amount of pre-cum. He licked his lips, suppressing a groan and then he started getting close to Praveen's lips, not for once tearing his eyes away from him. It was like he was possessed by something really strong. He didn't know what he was doing. Praveen got even more scared when he noticed that the space between them was getting smaller and smaller. He wanted to move away but felt Antonio's on his. As soon as their lips touched, Praveen felt like liquid electricity had just been poured in his veins and his entire body shuddered in pure bliss. He didn't know what he was doing, what he wanted. All he knew was that his body was giving up. Antonio was now sucking on his lips, their first kiss after almost three months of marriage. It was strange but really sweet. Praveen found himself giving up to the man's doing. He couldn't resist something so sweet. His eyes slowly started closing on their own as his lips started responding to Antonio's kiss. It was hot, sensual, and passionate to the point where Praveen started sweating immediately. Antonio on the other hand felt like he was pulled in a river full of electric cables. As soon as he felt Praveen's lips move against his, he felt a power vibration move across his body that he couldn't help but moan. His cock pulsed uncontrollably that his boxer started getting wet. He was leaking so badly. He moved his shaky hands to the back of Praveen's head, bringing his lips closer and closing the space that was left between them. And when he heard a moan from Praveen, he kissed him even harder, taking his lips into his mouth as he sucked on them harder. They continued kissing for several seconds until Praveen felt Antonio's tongue brush on his lips, demanding entrance. His lips parted and Antonio's tongue found its way in his mouth. As soon as their tongues touched, hot desire blazed through both men, firing up their senses. That was when everything became completely different. Praveen moaned uncontrollably when he felt himself going weak as sensations raided his mind. He moaned so loudly that it sent vibrations to both their tongues and they moaned together in sweet, perfect harmony. And as if that sweet moan wasn't enough, Antonio began to suck on his tongue like he was sucking a lollipop and he just got weaker. He couldn't hold himself anymore. He found himself falling to the floor and both of them fail to their knees on the floor with Antonio's kissing him and now his hands all over his back. "Hmmm..." Antonio moaned in sweet eroticism as thunder rolled severally. It was cold but both men were sweating. Praveen's hands moved to Antonio's head, his fingers slipping to his hair, and gripped him almost to the point of pain but Antonio didn't seem to care. He devoured Praveen's lips like there was no tomorrow while his hands massaged his back, making him moan. Antonio didn't care about the consequences of what he was doing or what was gonna happen after. All he knew was that he was in pleasure, so much pleasure that he didn't even want to tear away from those lips. He couldn't get enough of Praveen's sexy mouth. He was on cloud nine as he kissed him like there was no tomorrow. Praveen couldn't believe or understand what he was feeling. His body was giving in to his desires and Antonio's desires, whatever he felt. He was so hot that his cock was rock hard. Though he was scared of what was going to happen, he didn't want it to stop. Praveen kissed Antonio though it was his last, well he didn't know if it was gonna be his last. But the guys kissed and kissed until both their lips were swollen. By the time they came up for a much-needed air, Antonio was on top of Praveen. Antonio breathed fearfully and slowly started removing Praveen's shirt. He threw it away, he didn't care where. Then he rubbed on his face as Praveen's legs slowly opened and he got in between them. He kissed him softly as his hands massaged his waist. He could feel Praveen's hardness through his boxer brief. His hands then slowly moved to the waistband of Praveen's boxer and then started slipping it off. Praveen closed his eyes as his heart pounded in fear. It was happening. He'd never done such a thing and he was shitty scared. Antonio completely removed Praveen's boxer brief, still staring at his face. Then he went ahead and removed his and now they were both completely naked. They were both nude and their cocks were rubbing against each other. From what Praveen felt, Antonio was probably big and it got him scared more. He was a virgin for fuck's sake but he had no idea if he had the strength to tell Antonio that. "Shit!" Antonio groaned, biting his lip hard as he rubbed his cock against Praveen's in a slow grind. "You feel so good." He kissed his lips softly. "Your lips are so soft and sweet." Then he went ahead and kissed both Praveen's eyes, cupping his cheeks. "Open your eyes." Praveen hesitantly opened his eyes and stared into the most gorgeous eyes he'd ever seen on anyone. He was filled with so much lust that his cock pulsed and rubbed against Antonio's, giving the both of them ecstatic sensations. "Antonio, I... I..." His voice was cracking. He sounded vulnerable. "Shh..." Antonio moaned, shaking his head. "Don't say anything." With those words, he attacked Praveen's mouth and then moved to his chin. He sucked that chin like there was no tomorrow. He slowly kissed his way to Praveen's nipples and took one of them in his mouth, sucking on it sweetly. "Ah..." Praveen's nails sunk into Antonio's back as a sweet powerful wave took him by surprise. The way Antonio was sucking hard on his nipple was making his body vibrate entirely. He dropped his head as his hands gripped hard on the grass, moaning like there was no tomorrow while his body danced in rhythm. It was so sweet. He sucked and sucked until the nipple was swollen and sensitive before moving to the other one and giving it the same treatment. By the time he was done, Praveen's eyes had turned red from lust and his cock was leaking pretty badly. For Praveen, right at that moment, there was nothing sweeter than Antonio's mouth. But he had no idea that it also felt just as amazing for Antonio as well. The lustful sounds coming out of Praveen's mouth were amazing to Antonio's eyes. He loved the fact that he was able to pleasure Praveen as well. "You're so sexy!" Antonio puffed, his voice so low and sexy. That voice sent shivers all over Praveen's body and although a part of him felt like withdrawing at that moment, he was ready to go through all the way. He was just hoping that Antonio wasn't gonna hurt since he was a virgin. He hadn't had sex with anyone, not to talk about having an orgasm. "God..." Praveen cried when Antonio kissed his belly, going down him. "Antonio!" But Antonio was too lost in lust that he didn't even hear the sensual erotic cry. He stopped for a second to take a look at Praveen's nakedness and smiled. Praveen's cock was small, must have been about 3 inches. But it was really beautiful and was wet at the tip. He leaned down and kissed its head. "Ah..." Praveen moaned, gasping in shock as his hands clenched on the floor. Then Antonio moved up and looked into Praveen's lust-filled but beautiful eyes. One of his hands moved to his leg as he slowly opened him up, looking deep in his eyes. "I need you so bad." He moaned, almost a cry. "I need to make love to you, baby." He placed a kiss on his lips. Praveen swallowed, feeling tears building in his eyes. Then without a word, he nodded softly. "I... I... don't hurt me." Antonio smiled as he opened Praveen's legs wider, he got between his legs, his cock rubbing on his now exposed hole. He almost cried at the warm sensation that he felt on his cock and he started leaking so badly that he could feel Praveen's hole get wet. He looked into Praveen's passion glazed eyes. Antonio knew he wanted this, his hunger for Praveen was getting out of control like an uncontrollable force within him. He didn't wanna hurt him. He wanted to make sweet love to him. "I promise, I will make this memorable for both of us." With those words, he captured Praveen's lips into a sexy, sensual kiss that blew their brains away. He was slow, passionate, and loving at that time. Though both their lips were swollen, they couldn't get enough of each other. They just wanted more and more and more until they couldn't kiss anymore. He moved his hand slowly to Praveen's ass and when he touched there, he found that it was wet from his pre juices, thanks to his cock. He didn't need to use lube because his cock was already doing that job. He slowly started penetrating Praveen with one finger and felt him clench up. He tore away from his lips, looking into his eyes. "Breath, baby, breath... Think about the kiss." He kissed him softly on the lips like he was teasing him. "Kiss me." While they kissed, Antonio kept on entering Praveen slowly until his finger was entire in. It was hot in there and his cock leaked even more. He hadn't had sex in almost three months and no wonder he was leaking terribly. He started fingering Praveen, making sure that he found his pleasure button and rubbed on it slowly. As he rubbed there, he felt Praveen's nails dig in his back as an animalistic sound tore from his mouth into Antonio's. At that point, Antonio knew he was doing a great job. He rubbed there again and Praveen cried at the top of his voice. Praveen simply lost his mind. He didn't know what Antonio was doing to him down there but he didn't want it to stop. He had never felt anything so sweet or so dreadfully amazing. He wanted more. He couldn't stop crying as tears of mirth came out the end of his eyes. Shit! Shit! Shit! It was amazing. Antonio kept on fingering him until he felt him relax. He added another finger and though there was some resistance, he felt him relax and started fingering a little faster, making sure he rubbed on that spot that made him go insane. Praveen moaned into the kiss. He couldn't remain still. He slowly started moving his lips against those fingers, loving the feel of them inside of him. He opened his legs wider, willing Antonio to go deeper. Praveen needed Antonio to touch that spot again... the spot that made his insides to melt like butter in the oven. But Antonio was being slow and careful with him. He continued finger fucking him, enjoying the erotic moans that escaped his lips and made his tongue vibrate. Praveen's eyes fluttered shut against that sensation. He felt nothing but pleasure. He continued moaning but then he felt Antonio's fingers leave him, leaving him feeling hungry. He opened his eyes but he was so engrossed in a hot kiss that made him see sparks. He was moaning like he was gonna die if he ripped from those lips. Antonio slowly began to rub his leaking cock on Praveen's still slick hole, putting more pre-cum there but he didn't push in. He simply rubbed, making that area wet so that he wouldn't hurt Praveen because he knew that the boy was tight. He wasn't gonna be surprised though if the boy was a virgin because he was just too tight. When Praveen's lustful whimpers increased, Antonio released his mouth and looked down at his closed eyes. "I want you to look at me." His voice sounded like he was scared. He was more than scared. His voice was shaky. "Please!" Praveen opened his eyes slowly just to stare into Antonio's beautiful lust-filled eyes. He had never seen Antonio look so vulnerable and yet so desperate. And with their gazes locked on each other's, Antonio slowly began to push into Praveen. When Antonio penetrated the ring, he felt some resistance from Antonio despite being slick. Praveen gave a painful groan as he felt Antonio's head enter his ring. It was painful and though he hadn't seen Antonio's cock, it must have been big judging from that head that wanted to rip him open. "Breath and try to relax..." Praveen took a deep breath and started to feel relaxed. The last thing Antonio wanted at that moment was to hurt Praveen. He pressed forward slowly, stretching Praveen further. His breath suddenly wrenched from his lungs at the delicate heat that submerged him as he sank into that sheath. Praveen's ass was so fucking sweet, heaven, Antonio thought with a look of utter veneration on his face. He slowly pushed in, making sure that he helped Praveen so that he couldn't feel any pain. By the time he pushed in to the hilt, both Praveen and Antonio were sweating terribly, breathing like they were being chased by a predator. "Oh, God." Antonio breathed shakily as he slightly closed his eyes, feeling a sweet sensation travel up and down. He felt like his bones in his very body melted. He couldn't even think straight but he knew that he had to make Praveen get used to his cock. He was so nervous that he started taking deep breaths to calm himself down. "Are... you okay?" His voice was breaking. Praveen slowly nodded, trying to catch his breath. He was filled and stretched to the point where he felt like his very breath was being dragged out of him. He had to take several breaths just to make himself calm. Praveen felt a bit uncomfortable when Antonio started to thrust in and out but he hit something inside of him that made him almost pass out. The feeling was so exquisite that he gripped on the grass harder, his body shuddering. He opened his eyes slightly as his mouth opened and he couldn't believe what he saw on Antonio's face, a look of absolute enjoyment. But Praveen couldn't focus on Antonio for long as soon his eyes rolled into his head as the cock inside him sweetly began to nail his pleasure button with each thrust that Antonio made. He was slow with each thrust, making love to Praveen just like he planned to. Erotic cries of pleasure escaped from his mouth as his hands suddenly found themselves on Antonio's back, sinking his nails there so hard that they left marks. But Antonio didn't feel any pain but it rather added to his pleasure. Antonio leaned forward and took his mouth in the sweetest of kisses. What Praveen felt at that time was nothing like he'd ever felt in his entire life. That extra feeling from Antonio's mouth caused a feeling so powerful he could only compare it to lightning whizzing through him. His head almost fell back as his body stiffened in that delicious moment as Antonio nailed that delicious spot again. He kissed Antonio even harder as his legs opened wider, willing Antonio deeper inside. He was hitting that spot in slow but exquisitely sweet strokes. "Antonio!" Praveen screamed as he tore away from that sweet mouth, his eyes rolling in his head. His hands clenched on the grass again as he breathed like he was about out. The pleasure was too much. Antonio moved his hands, each hand gripping each of Praveen's, locking their fingers together in a sweet way. Antonio could feel that Praveen's grip was far tighter than he'd ever remembered. His gaze was intensely upon him as he moved inside his lover's warm tight channel. His hips swayed against Praveen, rocking back and forth as he thrust with unbearable slowness and with such skillful precision that Praveen thought he would go insane with pleasure. It was so good that Praveen's breaths were changing like each second. He could feel himself at the edge, feeling like someone was pulling ice-cold water all over his body. It was too much and he didn't know what was killing him, Antonio's cock driving him insane or the powerful vibration that he was feeling on his cock. Shit! He was crying holding on tighter to Antonio's hands while harsh, short breaths escaped his mouth. "Shit, you feel so amazing..." Antonio was sweating terribly. He could feel the sweat run down his back to his ass like water was being poured on him. "...shit, you're so sweet." He took Praveen's mouth into a kiss while he moved his hips like he was dancing a sacred dance, giving both of them the pleasure that they had been yearning for. He wanted to make love to Praveen and so he did. He made love to him, sweet powerful love that left both men moaning in the kiss while their hands tightened. With each thrust that he made into Praveen, he was making him weak and he could feel himself getting closer as he hadn't had a release in almost three months. Antonio slowly but deeply made love to Praveen, demanding his total submission. Holding Praveen teetering on the edge of his climax, Antonio rode him slow and deep, hitting him over and over that sweet spot inside of him that made him shake uncontrollably with ecstasy. Praveen screamed but all that could be heard were muffled cries that were music to Antonio's ears. The pleasure was so intense that it made his vision blur. He couldn't believe how good it felt. He didn't want Antonio to stop. With the pleasure and his climax building like a volcano, he started moving backward to meet Antonio's thrust, his thighs shaking with power behind each thrust. He closed his eyes shut as he thought he was gonna from the pleasure that took him places he had no idea existed. His dick was rubbing on his belly as Antonio applied friction to them, bringing him closer to his orgasm, his very first. Antonio had never felt such pleasure before. Not only was Praveen's ass hot like an oven, he could have sworn that Praveen was also wet down there because his cock felt wet and it was slick as hell there. Fuck, being inside Praveen was like no pleasure he had ever experienced. The vibrations running through him were too intense and when he felt that familiar tingle hit him, it wasn't just along his spine but all his body. It felt like he was flying high up in the air. His body was desperate for release and he wanted to come inside Praveen. He knew that it was coming and hard, especially after feeling it build like a volcano. His thrusts became powerful and a bit violent as he hit Praveen's pleasure button faster and harder. He hadn't expected himself to last long after all the weeks of deprivation. Praveen felt a powerful tingle run down to his cock and felt his body Jerk just as Antonio hit his sweet spot making him scream and quiver with pleasure. Then suddenly, he felt a strange sensation in his cock and the pressure that started filling up in his balls, his belly, inside his head, and everywhere. He was filled with so many vibrations that he got scared and his heart started racing in fear. "Antonio..." Praveen couldn't recognize his voice as he tore his lips from Antonio, dropping his neck as his eyes rolled back into his head. "Ah..." Praveen screamed as he felt his orgasm starting to weaken him even before he even started. His back arched as his head moved from side to side on that floor, getting grass in his hair. But he just didn't care. The combination of feeling that friction on his cock, the curling stimulation of his prostate by his husband's cock, and that tingling sensation on his spine and everywhere drove him nuts. Loud cries would he would have embarrassed if he was in his right frame of mind escaped from his throat as he breathed harshly, trying to let go of his husband's hands. But his grip was too powerful that he wouldn't. Praveen's mind was then filled with so many emotions even as he screamed harder when Antonio began pounding in him while he started moaning, unlike anything Praveen had ever heard from. Antonio's moans sounded like cries, wonderful cries of ecstasy. Suddenly he felt like he couldn't breathe like he couldn't feel his heart. His eyes opened and widened as his mouth just gaped. He was feeling some so powerful on his prostate and then moving from his balls to his cock. He felt his cock swell up so badly and then he exploded right there. The raw ecstatic rapture that slammed into Praveen was nothing like he'd ever experienced. The world disappeared. He couldn't cry out, couldn't scream, and couldn't make a sound. His mouth opened in silent screams as his cock ropes of cum in between them, rendering him weak. It didn't stop there. As he shot, his vision blurred slowly, and by the time he shot his final rope, he was already gone. He had passed out from that powerful orgasm. Meanwhile, Antonio kept on slamming hard into Praveen, crying on top of his voice as he felt his cock swell deep inside Praveen and then started coming violently, spurting hot cum repeatedly deep into his lover. He felt like he had released his entire energy inside Praveen that his vision blurred for a few seconds. But although he was completely lost in his pleasure, he took Praveen's lips and kissed him like there was no tomorrow while he kept on coming, something that felt like forever. He kept on coming and coming until he felt it slow down and by the time his cock spurt the last cum inside Praveen, Antonio felt tired, spent. He kissed Praveen's lips slowly without realizing the boy had collapsed. Then he collapsed on top of him, breathing like a man in a long race. He was tired. He rolled off of Praveen, brought him in his arms, and kissed him on his lips hard before wrapping his arms tightly around. Before a minute even went by, he was fast asleep, smiling in his sleep. *** Praveen felt like he was dreaming like he was in a dream that wasn't gonna come true. He felt like he was pressed against something really warm and sweet, something was alive. He could feel something warm wrapped around his body and then he could feel something on his face, something really cold like someone was breathing on him. He slowly opened his eyes, his vision blurring for a second. But he opened them wide and was shocked by what he saw. His face was pretty close to Antonio's chin. He was lying on his chest with Antonio's arms wrapped tightly around him in a warm embrace. Seeing the position he was in, Praveen felt his heart begin to race in fear and shock. He felt like something was wrong, something that he couldn't put his finger on. He remembered the car breaking down, them rushing to the house, and also trying to dry himself up. Aside from that, he couldn't remember anything. He got scared because he had no idea what had happened and how he had found himself in that position with Antonio. It was already bright and he could see the entire room. But then suddenly something hit him, not only could he feel Antonio's heat on his face, he could feel it on his entire body. He slowly moved his eyes and noticed that he was completely naked and so was Antonio. That was when it hit him, what had happened to him the previous night. The moans, the cries, the screams, the pleasure. It all came to him, hitting him hard like a tornado. His heart started pounding as his breaths became harsh. Oh shit, he thought as he felt tears building in his eyes. What had he just done? He had... He had slept with Antonio. Fuck! He couldn't believe what he had just done. It was impossible. No! How could he have slept with Antonio, he thought as a tear went down his cheek? He had lost his virginity to someone that he didn't even think he would lose it, someone, that didn't love him. Praveen couldn't stay there. He had no idea if he was gonna have the strength to face Antonio. He could remember the kiss as they made love, the face that Antonio had made, and all the pleasure he'd felt. Taking a deep breath, he raised his head and carefully removed Antonio's arms from around him. He felt him move but he didn't wake up. Praveen tried to stand but was welcomed by a sharp pain in his ass. Shit! It had happened. He had lost his virginity. He tried and managed to stand up but the pain was still there. He looked around for his clothes but his eyes landed on the naked Antonio that was still peacefully sleeping. He was completely naked with his cock in full view of Praveen. It wasn't that big but it was thick and must have been 6.5 inches in length flaccid and... Was that blood he saw on it, he thought as his eyes widened and he got more scared. He looked at Antonio for the last time, regretting everything that had happened. Then he picked up his boxer brief, quickly put it on. Then he took his skinny jean and t-shirt and quickly put them on. Then he started walking towards the door to get some air. It was really hard because of the pain and he couldn't walk straight. He was slowly limping towards the door as tears went down his cheeks. He had just lost his virginity to his husband. * Antonio groaned, opening his eyes to look around the entire place. He had a really strange dream that he had been making love to Praveen. He sighed as he groaned, stretching his arms while he looked from side to side. He froze when he saw something red on his right hand. He brought his hand closer to look at it and saw that he had dry blood on his hands. Shit! His heart gave a sharp pound in his chest as his breaths came out harshly. He quickly stood up, realizing that he was completely naked. "Shit!" He gasped, gripping his hair. "What had happened?" Then his mind took him to the previous night and everything poured on him, hitting him hard. He could remember the kiss, the moans, the pleasure, and everything that had happened. He touched his lips, feeling them still swollen and he knew that it wasn't a dream. Those lips had been kissing Praveen the previous night. "Oh God," He pulled his hair, causing himself pain. "What did I just do?" He was feeling guilty, really guilty. How was he supposed to face Praveen now, he thought as he looked all around? How was he supposed to apologize and what was he supposed to say to him? He was really scared. He regretted approaching Praveen like that the night before. "Shit, I have to do something." He quickly picked up his brief and put it on without even noticing the blood on his dick. Then he took his now dry clothes and put them on. He put on his shoes, picked everything that belonged to him, and got out of the house quickly. As soon as he got out, he saw Praveen seated a distance from the house on a log, staring at the flowers with his arms wrapped around himself. Seeing him, Antonio felt a wave of fear that he'd never felt in his life before. For the first time, he had no idea what to do or how to get out of the situation that he had found himself in. "Please help me!" He looked to the heavens, giving a prayer for the first time. "Please, almighty." He took a deep breath and started walking slowly towards Praveen. Each step that he took made him feel like he was being repelled by a magnet. He was really scared and as soon as he got there, he just stood for a second without uttering any word. "Praveen!" Antonio's voice was barely above a whisper. When Praveen heard Antonio's voice behind him, he froze. He didn't know what to do or how to react. He felt his heart race more than it was and he started trembling. He wanted to run away from Antonio but he found himself frozen. "I... I..." Antonio didn't know what to say. "...I wanted to go and check the car so that we can leave as soon as possible." 'Really?' Antonio thought, hitting his head. What was he thinking by saying that? "If you're hungry, there's food in the car." Praveen nodded without even turning to face his husband. He felt shame take him by surprise. How was he supposed to stare into the eyes of his husband after what had happened between them? He couldn't bear to do it. Antonio turned and started heading to the car, cursing him for it. He was supposed to say something, anything, apologize to Praveen and talk about what had happened. He felt guilty but not the type of guilt that was supposed to tell him that he cheated on someone. No! He felt guilty for not saying anything to him. What was he going to do, he thought as he slowly walked towards the car? *** "I can't believe he would do this to me," Bruce yelled as he paced from side to side in his hotel room. "Who does he think he is to keep me waiting the entire night? At least, he should have had the decency to call and apologize if he wasn't coming but..." He paused and looked at Andrea who was busy reading a note with a smile on her face. "Are you even listening to me?" Andrea took a glance at him, raising the note. "You drive me crazy and my fire for you is burning. I need to be quenched tonight. Really?" Bruce couldn't believe Andrea was making fun of her. He rushed to her, ripped the note, and gave her a, 'stop fucking with me' look. "Andrea, this is more important. Your brother left me alone. We had all this..." He moved his finger around, showing Andrea all the decors in the room. "...planned out and he was nowhere to be seen. I have been fucking calling him for only God knows how long but I am unable to get through. I hate this." He screamed, gripping his hair. "I hate this." "Oh, so he didn't tell you." Andrea got up gracefully from the chair, folding her arms on her chest. She was dressed elegantly in a black top and green skinny jeans and green high heels. Her hair was in curls and she was slaying the look. "Tell me what?" He frowned, getting curious. "Oh, Antonio and Praveen went to the next town to pick up grandma for my engagement party." She said with a smile. "And he... he..." His voice was cracking. "He didn't even bother to call me to tell me that? I could have gone with him instead of that DDDB." "DD what?" Andrea couldn't get a word of what Bruce had just said. "Dirty dirty dirty boy." He rolled his eyes. "I don't know why..." "That a question you're gonna has to ask him, sweetheart," Andrea said, gracefully sitting on the bed that was filled with rose petals. "I have no idea because my fiancé took me to see his numerous..." She gestured with her fingers. "...orphanages and companies. I don't always have to hear your problems, Bruce, okay?" "No, Andrea!" Bruce felt tears building in his eyes. "I have a bad feeling about this entire thing. I can't just sit and watch him win anymore. I am going to follow them where they went because I am done." "You know," Andrea chuckled bitterly. "That's a great idea. Act like the psycho boyfriend and let my brother see your foolishness, great!" Bruce frowned, shaking his head. "But what do you want me to, Andrea?" "Just patiently wait." She spoke softly, going through a fashion blog. "Don't you dare mess what we've been working hard for, Bruce?" She warned. "I won't spare you for that." "But..." "The problem is that you don't even have patience." She was yelling. "What's a little sacrifice compared to the reward that you're gonna get at the end? My brother loves you. He adores you and he wants to spend the rest of his life with you. He doesn't have any relationship with Praveen despite this sham that they show to the entire world and the family. Very soon, it will all come to an end and you'll take your rightful place as his husband." Bruce felt his heart race as a smile popped up on his face. He was really happy and he couldn't even hide it. He didn't wanna hide it. "I guess you're right." He sat on the bed close to Andrea and got lost in his thoughts. One thing he couldn't wait to do was get rid of Praveen for good because he had been a thorn for too long. He was cut off his wings and let him fall flat to his face and that was a promise. If only Bruce knew... *** "Let's go!" Praveen almost jumped up when he heard Antonio's voice speak right behind him. His heart started pounding again and he began reliving all those pleasurable moments he'd experienced the previous night with Antonio. Did he felt like running away but to where? He just had to face Antonio. "I have checked the problem and..." He groaned, feeling nervous. "...I have fixed it so we can now continue. I am sure granny is already worried and waiting for us." Praveen slowly got up, playing with his nails. He slowly turned and as soon as he raised his head, he stared into Antonio's eyes, and almost immediately, both of them looked away in shame. None could bear to stare into the eyes of the other. "Okay." He said in a voice that was barely about a whisper. Antonio sighed and started walking towards the car, scratching his head. He knew that there was no way he was gonna be quiet forever. He had to talk to Praveen at a certain point, to talk about what had happened between them, something like he had never experienced in his sex life before. It was special but it made him feel guilty. Praveen started walking slowly, doing his best to forget about the pain that he was feeling in his ass. He was limping but he did his best and walked to the car. When he entered there, he found Antonio seated in the driver's seat, his hands firmly on the wheel, and looking straight ahead like he was in a staring contest. Praveen prayed to the almighty to let him live through the entire journey because what he felt at that time was strange. When he closed the door, Antonio started the car and they left that place. Throughout the journey, both guys were quiet, not speaking a single word to each other. Praveen leaned towards the window and did his best to just forget about what had happened. But it wouldn't go away. It kept on coming back to him and he felt like he was going insane. Antonio on the other hand was taking quick glances at the boy he was with. There was something deep inside his heart was urging him to man up and talk to the boy but whenever he tried to open his mouth, he turned into a coward and couldn't even utter any word. He rather concentrated on his driving, praying they reach faster. Antonio had never been one to keep to himself what he wanted to say. Even the guys that he had had sex with in the past, he always told them off that was it was one nightstand. But with Praveen, he had become a coward. Every time he tried to speak, the image of their passionate night popped into his mind and he just didn't know what to do. The two men probably experienced the longest two hours of their lives before they finally entered the town. It wasn't big but had some nice views, big buildings and everyone seemed busy. Some people had bags, probably going for work and others had school uniforms. It was a nice scene but Praveen was bothered. It didn't take long before they came in front of a huge black gate. Antonio honked and the huge gate opened. He drove inside and Praveen saw a big one-floor house, really beautiful and well decorated. It was just one floor but it was extremely beautiful. He couldn't help but admire it. As soon as Antonio parked, he got out of the car quickly and before Praveen even realized what was happening, he heard his door open. He took a glance and saw Antonio holding the door open for him. He smiled nervously and got out of the car. "We're here," Antonio was weak, weaker than Praveen had ever seen him before. "This is grandma's house." Praveen nodded softly, trying to put up a smile but who was he fooling? He didn't feel comfortable in the presence of Antonio. Things were already awkward and he needed to get away from there. And meeting his other grandmother for the first time wasn't making things any easier for him. Antonio took a deep breath. He had been too quiet for long. He needed to break the silence there. "Praveen, I just wanted to tell you that I... I..." But before he could even say anything... "Tony!" He heard a sweet voice call. He quickly moved his eyes to the direction of the voice and saw his grandmother, coming towards him with a very brilliant smile on her face. She had a prayer plate with her and she looked marvelous. Seeing her, Antonio's mood changed. He felt alive, really happy, and excited. Even Praveen couldn't help but smile. Antonio rushed to her and both of them hugged tightly. "I missed you, grandma." He confessed, holding her tightly. That was what he needed. "You crazy boy." She chuckled nervously, rubbing on his back. "I missed you more." Grandma Katy was a very beautiful woman and she looked a bit young, younger than granny. She had pitch-black long hair with many strands of gray and she had it tied in a ponytail. Her face wasn't wrinkled at all and she was really beautiful. She was a bit short, fat, and fair skin that looked smooth. She was wearing a traditional dress with a pair of trouser inside and sandals on her feet. She had a scarf around her neck. She was looking really beautiful. Grandma Katy was known to be a devotee of the almighty and she had even refused to get married because she just wanted to do religious work. She was known for taking pilgrimages and doing charity work. She was a great woman. "You've even grown into a handsome man, Antonio." She pulled away from him, pinching his cheek playfully. "By the way, I told your granny that I wanted you to come with my grandson in law. Where's he? I hope you didn't leave him otherwise..." She warned. Antonio chuckled nervously. "Not at all. Praveen!" Praveen gulped, feeling himself get tense. He walked slowly towards her and as soon as he reached her, he went for her feet and touched them. He was nervous because he couldn't feel her hands. Did she like him? Did she not? Was he outside her class? Did she think he was inferior too? So many questions were going through his head and he felt himself get hot. He had no idea what to do. "Bless you!" When he felt her hand on his head, he felt himself breath and he got up. He stood still beside his husband, staring at grandma without even blinking. He was still a bit scared. But then again, granny gripped him into a tight hug, patting on his shoulder. She kissed his forehead and both his cheeks and gave him the brightest smile ever. "Hmm, you're a really beautiful boy." Grandma Katy said with a chuckle. "Antonio..." She diverted her eyes to him. "...when I heard that you got married without me, I was pissed with you and your granny. I wanted to attend your wedding." "Sorry, granny." He apologized. "It happened quickly and Praveen and I didn't know each other at that time." "Hmm...I must say that your mother did a good job." She was still smiling, rubbing on Praveen's cheek. "You guys look good together. I don't know but there something about this boy that I love." "Well, what's there not to love?" Antonio said even before he realized what he said. Granny hugged him once more. "My dear, you're very welcome. This is your home." She said with a genuine smile. "I have to go to the temple for my morning prayers. This crazy grandson of mine will show you around the house before I get back. I want to spend some time with you." "Err..." Praveen paused and looked at his husband. "Grandma, if you don't mind, I would like to come with you to the temple. Please!" He begged. There was no way he was gonna remain with Antonio in that house all alone. He was gonna die. "Err... I don't know." She frowned. "You must be tired and..." "I am not." He abruptly said. "Please!" Granny sighed, thought about it, and then nodded. "Alright. You coming, Tony." "No!" Antonio shook his head. "I need to freshen up and take the car to the mechanic. I need everything to be fine before we leave tomorrow." Antonio explained to his granny how the car had broken down and how where they had spent the night, of course not mentioning that they had made love. Granny understood and she and Praveen left for the temple, leaving Antonio alone in the house. That was also the time Antonio had seen how Praveen was walking like. He was just hoping he hadn't hurt him in any way. Praveen had a good time at the temple. He prayed to the almighty to bless him and also help him. He also cried to him because he had no idea what had happened and how it had happened. He told the Lord though that he wanted his will to be done. After the prayer, Praveen felt good. Granny was a good woman. She introduced him to almost everyone she met as her grandson in law, Antonio the celebrity's groom. Everyone was very happy to meet him and by the time they were leaving, everyone was staring at him. He was just hoping that no one was noticing the funny way he was walking. He was very happy. He bonded with granny. By the time they were coming back home, they were laughing like friends. They didn't find Antonio and Praveen liked it that way. She gave him a tour of her house where she lived alone and it was really beautiful. Though it was just one floor, it was big inside and had everything. After the tour, they both went to the kitchen and cooked a lot of food. They had their lunch and she took him to show him around town. By the time they came back, it was late and Antonio had already gone to bed. Praveen had his dinner with granny before he went to bed. He slept with Antonio on the same bed that night though he felt uncomfortable. In the morning, they were gonna go back to the capital. *** "Katy!" Granny almost screamed when she saw her sister getting out of the car. Both sisters rushed to each other and hugged tightly. They started telling each other how much they missed each other and other stuff that old grannies like to talk about. Everyone was staring at them, looking at them happily. The two women had met and everyone except Praveen knew how hot the entire house was gonna is. Praveen got out of the car, stood still with his arms folded, and watched his grannies talking to each other hand in hand. He thought it was the most beautiful thing he had ever seen and for a minute, every trouble went away. All he kept on thinking of was the gorgeous scene in front of him. He was like that until Emilia came to talk to him about the journey. Antonio on the other hand just took some bags from the car, took them inside, and then gave them to the servants to take them to where his grandma was gonna be staying. And with that, he went upstairs to his room because he was really tired after such a long journey. He needed to rest. As soon as he entered his room, he threw himself on the bed and just covered his eyes. For the last two days, he had been through a lot and he knew he still had a lot of things to tell Praveen. He just didn't know what to say to him. He didn't wanna hurt him. Not after what had happened between him, something that he thought was amazing. Thinking about it, he found himself smiling even without realizing he was doing that. Suddenly, he heard the door opening and closing. He didn't need to be a genius to know that Praveen had come to that room. It was that time or never. Quickly rising from the bed, he took a deep breath. "Praveen, I needed to..." He trailed off when he saw that it wasn't Praveen. It was Bruce and he was staring at him with a stern look. Shit! He had a lot explaining to do but at that time, he thought he didn't have the energy to explain anything to Bruce or to apologize. "What are you doing here?" He asked, a little harshly. "And why would you enter my matrimonial room without knocking?" "What?" Bruce laughed. He thought it was funny but when he looked into his boyfriend's eyes and saw that serious look, he stopped laughing. "Antonio, tell me you're joking. Do I need permission to enter my boyfriend's room? Since when?" "Look, this is my family house and I am a married man." He didn't regret what he said. "We need to respect my parents and..." "Ah..." Bruce chirped, slowly moving his finger in the air. "What do you think you're telling me? Anyway," He sighed, shaking his head. "What the fuck were you thinking about keeping me awake the entire night? You had planned the romantic evening and yet couldn't even call me to tell me that you weren't gonna make it." Antonio was tired. He was really tired after such a long journey. He didn't want any bullshit or nagging from Bruce. Plus, he could feel himself getting angry the more Bruce complained. "Bruce," He sighed, rubbing on his head. "Please, not now. Can we talk about this another time? I am begging you." "No!" Bruce furiously moved in front of Antonio, looking at him angrily. "I wanna talk about this right now. How dare you keep me waiting when you very well knew that the night was supposed to be special for me? Do you know how much I had to spend in order..." "Bruce!" Antonio's voice was rising. "First you left me at that restaurant and do you know how embarrassing that was?" He added, literally yelling in Antonio's face. "Then you..." "Bruce!" He slightly closed his eyes, feeling anger take him off his feet. "Antonio, even if you had no regard for me, at least you could have..." "Bruce!" He roared, stamping his foot on the floor really hard. When Bruce heard Antonio's tone, he quivered as he took a step back, feeling his heart pound in his chest. His body felt frozen and he couldn't think straight. He stared at his boyfriend that was breathing like a predator and he got even more scared. What was going on, he thought as his mouth shook in fear? What did he do and why did Antonio react that way? "Ant..." "Get out!" Antonio pointed towards the door without regretting any of his words. "Antonio, you're asking me out of you..." "Now!" He groaned, feeling a tightening in his chest. He had no idea why he was that mad. "I am not gonna repeat myself twice, Bruce. Get out." Bruce didn't know how to react. He felt tears building in his eyes. With one final look at his boyfriend, he covered his mouth and started rushing out of the room. Just as he was opening the door to get out, he just met with Praveen at the doorway. Both of them stared at each other before Bruce hissed and stormed out, cursing as he went away. Praveen slowly entered the room, closing the door behind him. He slowly walked towards Antonio intending to pass and go to the bathroom. The pain was going away but he was still limping. And he had thought that things couldn't get any worse. They were worse than he thought they were. Now that he was alone with Antonio, he had no idea how to act. With a deep breath, he started rushing past Antonio but before he went further, he felt Antonio's hand grip his and then pulling him back. Shit! Now they were face to face, staring into each other's eyes once again. Both of them felt their breaths stop and their hearts race. Both of them felt their nerves getting to them. "Praveen, for how long are we gonna pretend like nothing had happened between us that night?" Antonio's voice was low and weak. "I can't just pretend anymore because it's killing me on the inside." Praveen felt like the entire world had been placed upon his head. He tried to open his mouth to respond but no word came out. He was scared, shy, and nervous. There were images of the naked Antonio playing with his mind. His heart pounded so deep in his chest that he felt like he was gonna have a heart attack. "Say something!" He pleaded, rubbing on Praveen's hand. "It's confusing because I had no idea what had happened or how it happened. Believe me, I had no intention of us sleeping together. I swear, I didn't." Praveen opened his mouth again but he couldn't speak. He was speechless. "I know it came as a shock to you but to me too." He said with tears building in his eyes. "I had no intention of having sex with you. It just happened. This has been haunting me since that morning when I woke up and... and..." He was getting weaker, especially since Praveen wasn't saying anything. "...please, say something. I need to hear something. Shout if you have to. You can even slap me if you want to but please..." He put his hands together. "...do something." Praveen stared into Antonio's eyes and felt tears building in his eyes. He felt a sharp pain hit him in the heart, something so terrible. He felt like shouting, like crying. He slowly moved his hand away from Antonio, still staring into his eyes. "I have lived with you for three months, Antonio." He began, fighting off his tears. "Each day that I have lived with you, I get to hear how much you despise me and how much you want to make me suffer." He had no idea where he got the strength from but he was speaking from his heart. "I get to be insulted by you, your sister, and your boyfriend. I get to hear how much you love your boyfriend and how much you want to spend the rest of your life with him. I am the legal husband but I get to be treated like a mistress." He said as a tear went down his cheeks. "It hurts a whole lot because you've gotten most of the things from me, my happiness, my courage, even my life. Now even one thing that I was holding on to, something that I would only give to someone who loves me so much, my pride..." he cried softly. Antonio felt bad, like such an asshole. "...you've gotten that from me too, Antonio. What happened that night already happened and it has left me defeated. Maybe..." He chuckled bitterly, rubbing his tears but his face was once again wet as more tears went down his cheeks to his chin. "...maybe my feelings for you have gotten so strong that I couldn't resist you. Maybe my heart deceived me because no matter what that night meant to me, I will forever be hurt by it. After all, it was just a one night stand to you." With those words, he quickly turned and rushed to the bathroom. Reaching there, he locked the door and started crying to himself. It was really painful and he had no idea if he was gonna heal. Antonio had taken his pride too, his virginity and he had no idea what he was gonna do. He couldn't get it back. It was gone forever. Back in the room, Antonio remained standing there, staring at the bathroom door. He knew what was happening there. Praveen was crying and it just increased his guilt and his pain. Had he become that soft, he thought as he felt tears building in his eyes. When did he become so concerned about Praveen? He knew he couldn't stay there. He needed to think because he had betrayed his boyfriend too. With his mind so blur, he stormed out of the room and left the house. *** The next day, everyone spent the entire day at the temple, praying for the coming engagement. Even Santiago joined them. They gave food to charity and it was good because it kept Praveen busy. He had something to do to keep his mind occupied. He also thanked Santiago because the man was there to make him smile. But unfortunately, the engagement had to be postponed to a week as Santiago had some urgent work to attend to and Antonio too had a business meeting in another town for four days. That left Praveen to be at peace although his heart was giving him problems. Ever since he had slept with Antonio, his feelings for the guy had kept growing stronger and stronger. He had tried everything and God knows how many times he had woken up panting because he had dreams about what had happened between them. Each night, it was getting intense and felt so real that he could have sworn he felt the guy's touch. But who was he kidding, it had been nothing but for pleasure for Antonio. And that was what was painful. Praveen helped the family in any way that he could so that they could prepare for the engagements. There were decorations, prayers, some ceremonies to be performed, and a whole lot. Praveen was glad that Andrea had something keeping her busy because he had no strength to argue with her. Bruce on the other hand kept on troubling but Praveen ignored him. The only question on his mind was, "What does fate have in store for him?"
  10. "What?" Andrea gasped, her mouth shaking like a leaf. "Mother, why would you do that without asking for my consent first and..." "Your consent?" Granny laughed jokingly. "Are you serious, Andrea? You very well know that when parents find a better match for their children, they don't even need to waste time. We'll never find a better match like Santiago. And what happened? I thought just a few seconds ago you were all smiles. What's going on?" Andrea couldn't believe what she was hearing from her grandmother. There was no way she was gonna marry the pig. Shit! She was eyeing someone else and that was who her granny and mother were supposed to get for her. Praveen on the other hand just sat silently, trying to digest what he'd heard. First of all, Santiago was a good man and he thought Andrea didn't deserve him. They were on different levels when it came to kindness but in that case, he just had to listen and hear everyone's views. "Your grandmother is right," Emilia said, holding her daughter's hand sweetly, smiling brightly at her. "The boy is very rich, but most importantly he's well cultured, kind and a good boy for that matter. I know that he..." She held her chin up, hoping to see a smile. "...he will make you happy. There's nothing in this world that would make me happy than to see my daughter happy. Santiago is that man." Andrea felt like crying. She quickly moved her eyes to Praveen, feeling like strangling him there and then. She knew that they were doing this because they wanted to get rid of the rift that was forming between him and her brother. Annoying little bitch, she thought as she clenched her fists. "But mother..." "Shh..." Emilia put her finger on her daughter's lips. "...we didn't need your opinion on this dear. We just called you all so that we can inform you so that you wouldn't get surprised. We're gonna see the boy this evening to take your proposal." "What?" Andrea's heart gave a sharp pound, feeling like it was about to rip out. "This evening? But mom, you're just telling me this right now and..." "Yes, dear. We need to act fast because such men are always in demand by girls' families. If we miss this opportunity, we'll never find it again. We can't afford to lose it." Granny chuckled. She was just so happy. She moved her eyes to Praveen and Celine. "What do you think?" Celine took a deep breath, failing to hide her smile. " I think this is a thing of joy. There's nothing more important than a girl getting married and that too to a man like Santiago. I think it is a good decision. I know Andrea is classy, elegant, and beautiful and from all the qualities I observed from Santiago, they'll make the perfect match." "See..." Emilia smiled at her daughter. "And Praveen?" "Uh?" Praveen gasped, feeling cornered. "Well, I have interacted with him and... and I think it is a good match. Besides, I think Andrea needs someone like him, someone that I know will love her and make her happy." Though he said, he wasn't completely sure about the alliance. "I think it's a good decision." "See, everyone thinks so." She smiled, rubbing on her daughter's cheeks who was staring at Praveen, imagining she was strangling him there and then. "Don't worry about anything. Arranged marriages are normal and you know that. And if you're worried about getting to know him, there's a lot of time for you two to spend with each other and get to know each other." Andrea was defeated. She simply just nodded. "I know what your plan is, Praveen." She thought, giving him an evil look. "You want to get rid of me so that you can seduce my brother, cast a spell on him, and lure him into your clutches and finally control all the companies with him. But guess what, sweetheart, I will never allow you to do that. You want this marriage to happen right..." She smiled genuinely, shaking her head. "...then fine, this marriage shall happen but with a little twist. I will get you out of this house at the snap of my finger." She took a deep sigh, smiling softly at her mother. "You know what's best for me, mother." Hearing her daughter's words, Emilia felt joyous. She couldn't believe Andrea had just agreed to the marriage. It was wonderful. Finally, her daughter was gonna be getting married. "Oh my God," She gasped, touching her chest. "Thank you so much, Andrea." Andrea nodded and got up from the chair. "Excuse me, mom." She quickly got up, losing the smile that was on her face. She clenched her fists, feeling a whole lot of anger taking control of her. She wanted to kill someone, punch something, and just bury it alive and that something was Praveen. She was really mad at him. *** "Uh..." Andrea screamed, furiously throwing things off the table. "What the fuck?" Her hair was a mess... She was sweating... She was hyperventilating... her blood was boiling... Her heartfelt like it was about to come out of her throat... Her body was quivering... her entire being was not okay. She didn't remember the last time she was that mad. "Me?" She laughed angrily, pointing at herself. "That... That man? No!" She gripped her hair, pulling on it like she wanted to rip it out. "What the fuck? No!" "Will you calm down?" Bruce smiled mockingly, putting his cup of coffee on the small table. He gracefully got up from the chair, cat walking to his friend. He was dressed seductively in beautiful orange skinny pants, green tight shirt, and sandals on his feet. He had a band around his head, revealing his sexy face. "Calm down?" "Calm down!" He laughed, almost in mock. "Why are you getting bothered over such a small problem? Santiago isn't that bad. He's handsome, though not like my Antonio. He's sexy, muscular, and yummy and he's built like hell. He's got those strong arms that when they wrap themselves around you would make you weak and cream yourself. And those lips when they kiss would make you..." "Shut the fuck up!" Andrea yelled, making his friend raise his hands like he was surrendering. "Can you hear yourself? If you can't help me with this problem then shut the hell up before I do that for you." "I was just saying..." "Oh really?" Andrea got closer to her friend. "How would you like it if I just watch Antonio and Praveen fall for each other because they're married?" "You wouldn't dare?" Bruce gave a nervous chuckle. "You're bluffing. You wouldn't do that." "Then shut the hell up and help me." She snarled. "That boy planned all this. He's trying to get rid of me in that house so that he can finally succeed in seducing my brother. Can't you see? Are you that dumb? How come they just suggested my marriage immediately after my brother got mad at Praveen because of Santiago? They're trying to bring the two closer. This entire marriage thing is a plan and if you're just gonna sit there feeling like you've won then you've got another thing coming. Praveen has made a really big move." Hearing Andrea's words, Bruce got weak and scared. Now he knew that the reason why they wanted this marriage was to bring Antonio and Praveen closer. "OMG!" He gasped, feeling like he needed some air. "What are we gonna do?" "What happened?" Andrea smiled, folding her arms on her chest. "Are you not excited about my marriage anymore? What changed your mind?" Then she rolled her eyes. "You know sometimes I wonder if you're my friend at all. Just because I mentioned Antonio and that bitch and now you're willing to help me. Wow!" "Look, I am sorry but I can't lose Antonio. He and I have come a long way and we love each other." He said, rubbing the sweat from his forehead. He was now feeling the heat. "We need to do something and quick." Andrea shook her head, sitting on the bed with her legs crossed. "I think we need to come up with a plan that will cripple Praveen for life, something that will permanently remove him from the house. We need to do something and quick because I am not getting married to Santiago unless the man I love." She blushed, rubbing on her lips seductively. "What are you trying to say?" Andrea got up from the chair, smiling like an evil empress. "We need to kill two birds with one stone." Andrea gave Bruce an evil grin and both of them just grinned at each other. What were they up to? **** "Here you go." Praveen smiled, handing the cup of hot chocolate milk to Ryan while Emma watched him where she sat from the chair with other family members. "Thanks, uncle!" Ryan leaned forward, kissing Praveen on the cheek. "I love you." "I love you too, sweetie." He kissed him on the forehead, drawing chuckles from him. "Now why don't you run along and go and play outside?" Ryan left laughing, really happy. Praveen watched as he left, smiling like an angel. He got up and then slowly went to the living room where there were Celine, Eduardo, and Emma together, talking and laughing. Seeing Emma there, Praveen got really nervous and extremely scared. "Err... Would anyone like something to eat?" Emma lost the smile on her face, rolling her eyes. "Of course, anything not prepared by you is fine by me." Praveen lost the smile on his face, dropping his eyes to the floor. Ouch! That was painful and he still failed to understand why Emma still hated him so much. He had practically done everything to please her and honestly, he had no idea what else she wanted him to do so that he could accept her. Three people in the house so far were making his life miserable. "Don't worry, Praveen..." Eduardo gave him the brightest smile, making him smile back. "...just come and sit with us. You'll be bored if you stay alone and besides, your husband is not home yet." Praveen nodded and sat next to Celine who held his hand, sweetly rubbing on it. He couldn't help but smile at her. Suddenly, before anyone could say anything, they saw granny and Emilia coming through the door and the moment they saw them, they all got worried. Both granny and Emilia were looking like they'd just come from a funeral. They had frowned on their faces and they... they just didn't look okay. "Mom?" Eduardo rushed towards them. "Are you okay? What's going on? Why do you look like that?" But both of them were quiet. They got to the living room and sat down, still looking lost. "Mother?" Celine rushed towards her mother in law, kneeling in front of her. She cupped her cheek and then looked into her face. "Mother, please? Tell us. We're all worried. What's going on?" Emilia slightly closed her eyes, taking a sigh. "He didn't accept it." She simply said, making Celine cover her mouth. "He didn't accept the proposal." "What?" Celine gasped, shaking her head. "But why mother?" "For reasons, he couldn't explain to us," Granny said, rubbing her face. "We did all we could but Santiago couldn't accept the proposal. Santiago has rejected the proposal for our Andrea." "What?" A voice was heard throughout the living room, right before they heard the sound of high heels coming towards them. All of them got up, looking towards the sound where they saw Andrea rushing towards them with Bruce behind her. She was looking pissed, worried and something that no one could read. "He rejected the proposal?" "Andrea, honey..." "No, mother," Andrea said, her voice rising. "This is what I don't like. I told you that you should have asked for my consent before deciding this, didn't I? But now, that boy has rejected me?" She laughed, shaking her head like she was hurt but deep down she was happy. Bruce came behind her, rubbing her shoulders. "This is what I was trying to avoid." She nodded. "Now he's out there thinking that you guys were desperate and I..." She pointed at herself. "...I had no other choice but for him. I tried to tell you this but... but Santiago is a modern boy and he probably isn't into all this arranged marriage thing and..." "Andrea, it's not like that," Emilia explained. "He agreed that he believes so much in arranged marriages and he assured us that he'd have agreed but due to circumstances beyond his control, he rejected the proposal and he also apologized for..." "And you believed that?" Andrea yelled, furiously dropping her hands. "This is painful, mother. I mean, being rejected by someone that... that you never even thought of. What will he think of me now, mother?" A fake tear went down her cheeks. "Of course," Emma chuckled, eyeing Praveen like he was food. "Why wouldn't he reject the proposal when you have invited bad luck in your house?" Praveen got hurt. He didn't need to be a genius to know that Emma was talking about him. He looked at Emma, their eyes meeting. He quickly dropped his eyes to the floor, feeling like an outcast in the house. "Why wouldn't he reject the proposal when that bad luck already got him?" "What's that supposed to mean?" Granny asked angrily. "Are you trying to say..." "I am trying to say that ever since you got this boy married to Antonio, nothing has been going right in this house." She said in a high tone. "Antonio is not happy, and now Andrea's proposal has been rejected. Do you know what it means when a girl's proposal is rejected?" "Stop talking nonsense," Emilia said, angry at Emma for even saying something like that. "How can you even utter something like that? Who told you Antonio is not happy with Praveen?" Emma laughed at Emilia's words. "I don't expect you to understand since you don't even care about your own son anymore." Emilia tried to say something but she couldn't find words to use. She was really mad at Emma for saying something so bad about Praveen. She looked at him, seeing him playing with his hands and his eyes fixed on the floor. Her heart broke. "Do you realize that without Praveen, we probably wouldn't have met this young man, not to talk about knowing how he is? You didn't even like Santiago so what's this you're saying?" "Well, Praveen isn't God, is he?" She folded her arms on her chest. "Antonio had a photoshoot at their company. One way or another, that boy would have come to this house. I don't owe this boy anything. As long as he's still in this house, nothing will ever be right. Now only God knows what that boy is thinking of us and my poor Andrea right now." Praveen couldn't stay there anymore. As it was, he was bleeding and hurt. But he promised not to cry in front of his in-laws. He simply turned and started walking away slowly. "Excuse me." "Praveen!" Granny called. "Don't worry, granny." He looked behind, smiling faintly. "I am okay. Just attend to Andrea. I am sure she's going through a lot right now." With those words, he simply went away from the living room. "See!" Emma said angrily, getting closer to Andrea. "You don't even care about your daughter's feelings." She wrapped her arms around Andrea, hugging her tightly. "It's okay, sweetie. Why don't you come with me so that I can make you feel better? It seems I am the only one here who cares." Andrea nodded and followed her aunt with Bruce behind her. While they were going, an evil grin appeared on her face. "Even God doesn't want me to leave this house." She thought as she grinned at Bruce. "I didn't even get to do anything and it's already working in my favor. I guess God has given me another chance to play some mischief. You're so going down Praveen." Meanwhile, in the living room, granny sat on the couch now even more worried than she had come. "What was the need of saying all that to poor Praveen?" Eduardo too was angry. "Why does aunt do this to him? Why can't she just accept him and move on?" "I have no idea." Emilia sighed, looking at Celine. "Dear, can you please go and check up on Praveen? I am pretty sure he's hurting right now." "Sure!" She quickly got up and left the living room. *** "Where could he have gone?" Emilia shuddered, looking at all the faces in front of her and around her. "Calm down, mom." Celine tried to hold her but she retaliated, moving away from her. "How do you expect me to calm down when Praveen is nowhere to be seen?" She was really scared and worried. She moved to her son who was standing there staring at her without uttering a word. "Antonio, you need to find him." "Mom, I..." He stammered, thinking of what to say to her so that she could calm down. He was really worried too. He had tried Praveen's phone and found that he had left it. "...I will find him but try to calm down. He probably just went out and..." "He never leaves this house without informing us. You know that Antonio. And without any of the cars? I have a really bad feeling about this." Antonio had no words to say to his mother. He'd never seen her worried. She simply sat on the couch with her hands on her face. "This is your fault, Emma." Granny gawped, looking at her with wide eyes. "If you had kept your mouth shut then you wouldn't have hurt him." "Me?" Emma pointed angrily at herself, shaking her head. She couldn't believe her mother had just said that to her in the presence of her entire family. "What have I done? Is telling the truth now a crime. Your granddaughter was just hurt and you're just brushing it off like it was nothing. Let Praveen just play some drama..." She laughed mockingly, opening her arms wide. "...everyone will be looking for him. You know what, mother..." She got serious. "...you are just being a puppet to that boy. Until when will you realize that he is nothing but trouble..." "Not as much trouble as you've caused, Emma," Granny said angrily, getting closer to her daughter. "...you are a mother, Emma and before anything else, a grandmother. Very soon, little Ryan will be grown up. How will you feel if he'll be maltreated by his in-laws? Has that ever crossed your mind?" Emma smiled brightly as she'd just won a lottery. "No! Because that won't ever happen. My grandson will marry into one of the best families and someone who'll love him and who he'll love back. So I won't ever have to worry." Granny was really upset by her answer. She shook her head furiously, diverting her eyes to Antonio who was standing there looking lost. Perhaps the pressure placed on the boy had been too much that he just ran away. That would have been good for Antonio but he wasn't happy. He was rather worried about the whole issue. "Antonio..." He felt a hand on his shoulder. It was his grandmother and she wasn't smiling. "Dear, please, you and Eduardo should go and look for him. Bring my grandson back." Antonio nodded. "Yes, granny." He gestured to Eduardo and the two of them started rushing out of the living room. They just took a few steps when they stopped in their tracks, looking forward. It was Praveen, entering the door with a serious look on his face. When he saw them, he stopped and just stood still, his eyes looking forward. Praveen's heart pounded deeper in his chest, feeling like someone had just scared him to death. Seeing the entire family in the living room, looking the way they were, he got worried. He was just hoping it wasn't that serious. "Praveen!" Eduardo gasped, alerting the entire family. "Thank God you are here. Everyone's been worried." Hearing Praveen's name, Emilia quickly got up and rushed to him. Reaching him, she quickly gripped him into a tight hug, pulling him closer to her. "God, Praveen, you scared me." She pulled away from him. "Where did you go? You have no idea how worried we've been." Praveen got even more scared. He couldn't believe that he'd made his family so worried. It wasn't his intention to make them that worried. "Mother, I..." "Anyway, forget it." She smiled brightly, cupping his cheeks in her palms. "Come inside and..." "Well, mother, I... I..." "He came to see me." A voice was heard throughout the entire house. Everyone's eyes moved to the door, widening as they'd just seen something really surprising. It was Santiago, dressed in a beautiful black skinny jeans, a red shirt that was halfway done, exposing his gorgeous muscular chest and his hair. He wasn't smiling. He was really serious. "You?" Emilia tried her best to smile. "What are you doing here?" Santiago rushed to her, going for her legs. "Please, bless me." He touched her feet, Emilia slowly and hesitantly touched his head. She didn't know how to act around him, especially since he'd rejected her daughter. She didn't hate him though because she understood his reasons. But she wasn't happy because her daughter had been rejected. "Bless you." "What are you doing here?" Emma said in a rude tone, weirdly looking at him. "I am sorry." He apologized softly, going towards everyone. "I know that you might hate me so much right now and I probably deserve it." "Yeah!" Emma jeered, moving slowly towards him. "Why would we welcome you with open arms after what you did to..." "Emma!" Granny didn't need to tell Emma what she wanted to say. Emma got it. "My son, I am..." "I accept!" Santiago beamed. His face was brighter than anyone in the house had ever seen it before. "I accept your proposal." The moment he said that Andrea felt her heartbeat deep in her throat. She felt weak in the knee, feeling like she was about to fall. She was about to fall if not for Bruce that held her quickly. Her eyes widened as she failed to breathe, feeling like someone had cut off her oxygen supply. Her body felt cold like someone had poured ice on her. She couldn't believe what she was hearing. It was a joke. "I accept the proposal." Those words kept ringing in her head as they made her weak. "What?" Emilia exclaimed, a brilliant smile appearing on her face. "Are you serious?" "Yes!" He bubbled, looking at everyone's faces. "I will marry your daughter." "Really?" Emilia still couldn't believe it. "OMG, but you..." "I know what I had said and I am sorry." Emilia smiled brightly and went straight to him, cupping his cheeks. She kissed both his cheeks and gave him a tight hug. Then she took him to the living room and made him sit close to her and granny. Everyone was now smiling except for Andrea and Bruce. They were surprised. Even Emma was really happy. The guy was super rich and handsome. What more could she want for her niece? "What made you change your mind?" Granny burst. She was just so excited. "When we came to see you, you seemed to stand on your decision." Santiago slowly raised his head, his eyes landing on Praveen who was standing a little distant from him. A smile shot up his face, his heart beating rhythmically and with passion. He had no idea why he felt so calm, so at peace and so happy whenever he stared at Praveen. He was the best, the complete package although he was taken. "A heart so pure that it can talk to your very soul." He said sweetly, feeling his body vibrate. Praveen smiled back, dropping his eyes to the floor, blushing. Santiago was the kindest guy he'd ever met in his life. He was just wishing him a happy life. "Praveen!" Emma bubbled as she looked at him lovingly. "I should have known. He's truly an angel." "No, mother..." He quickly raised his face, nodding sweetly. "...I just had to go and talk to my friend, find out what had made him reject the proposal. The rest was done by him. He's the one you should be thanking and not me." "All credit goes to you." The two souls smiled brightly at each other. "Praveen!" Andrea thought as she clenched hard on her dress, feeling her body vibrate. "You bitch, you stupid bitch." She wanted to cry. She wanted to rip his fucking neck off, watch him die on the floor. But she couldn't do all that. "You've ruined my plans, you idiot." "Andrea!" Andrea was gotten out of her thoughts when she heard granny's voice. She gasped, smiling sheepishly at her. "Yes, granny..." "Come here!" Granny gestured, giving her a brilliant smile. "Come and sit with your husband to be." Andrea felt her stomach move and her breath stop. She got a irritating vibration on her skin and wanted to puke. Without saying anything, she went towards Santiago and shyly sat with him while everyone just smiled brightly, even Antonio. For some reason, his hatred for Santiago was somehow vanishing. Why was that happening when he didn't like the guy one bit? Anyway, the plans for the engagement started there and then. Granny was so happy that she couldn't wait. She suggested that they started discussing the wedding as soon as they met Santiago's brother and anyone else that was still alive in the family. It was a happy occasion except for Andrea who felt defeated. She didn't know what to do. *** "I am in love with someone, okay?" Santiago's voice was high. "But being in love like this hurts." "What do you mean?" Praveen asked, raising his eyebrows. "Shouldn't that be something to celebrate? You should have told them that but..." "It's not that simple." Santiago's eyes were watery. "Not when you're in love with someone that is already someone else's, someone that's already married." Praveen froze, staring at Santiago without even blinking. What he'd heard was too much to digest and sad to some extent. The guy was in love with someone who was married, he thought as his mouth shook? Why? How? When? He had lots of questions that he needed answers to. But did he have the right to ask him? "This is like a curse, Praveen." He quickly rubbed a tear that was making its way to his cheeks. "I swear, it hurts because each day that you live, you get to realize that that person can never be yours. You get to realize that that person is happy with someone else and not you. It hurts, a whole lot but as long as that person is happy, I am really happy. I will always be happy." That had happened a few hours back but they were still fresh in his mind. He couldn't believe how on one hand, Santiago seemed to have it all, like he was happy but on the other, he was sad. He felt for him and he wished he had helped him. "Okay, just think about it." He had said, looking deep in his eyes. "How would that woman feel if she got to realize that you're in love with her?" He had asked him with a lot of emotions in his voice. "Imagine how she would feel if she got to know that because of that love, you have refused to start a new life." Santiago had gotten close to Praveen, slowly rubbed on his cheek while looking emotionally in his face. "What would you do?" He had asked, shaking his head. "What will you say to me?" He had said, making Praveen scared at his question. "I mean if you were her." "I would want you to get married and make her happy." He had responded without any thought. "Marrying someone else doesn't mean you don't love me anymore. You can continue loving me even though you are married to her and eventually she'd take that love you feel for me and you would be happy. You would learn to let go of me and you would be happy with your new life." After his answer, Santiago had hugged him tightly and told him that he was gonna accept the proposal for Andrea. Praveen was now walking slowly towards his room, deep in thought. He had a really strange feeling and had no idea what had to be done to let all his worries go away. They'd all had dinner with Santiago and he just wanted to sleep. On one hand was Antonio acting all strange and on the other was Santiago. "Did I make a mistake by convincing Santiago to marry Andrea?" He thought, feeling bad. "Will she make Santiago happy?" He stopped in his tracks, putting his hands together and bringing them forward. His eyes looked up as he took a deep breath. "Dear God, please guide my path and help me, but help Santiago even more. He made this decision because of me and I don't know if what I said to him was right. I don't want him to be unhappy. But you know the reason why I did this. I love granny and mother so much that I couldn't bear to see them sad. Please," He breathed. "If this is a bad decision, don't make Santiago suffer or unhappy. Let me get the punishment because I forced him into this. He's a good man and deserves to be happy always. Please, help him with everything and let him prosper." He slowly bowed his head and was about to continue going to his room when suddenly... "Wow, he's praying..." He heard Bruce's mocking voice. He stopped in his tracks and just stood still. Bruce and Andrea came and stood in front of him and God knows he'd never seen the look Andrea was giving him. It was scary. Was she angry or happy, he thought, gripping his shirt? "Are you praying for my departure from this house?" Andrea accused, folding her arms angrily on her chest. "What?" Miguel was rather surprised. "Why would you ask that? This is your house and..." "Exactly!" Andrea fumed, furiously dropping her hands. "How dare you play that stunt?" "What are you talking about?" "Don't think you did me a favor by bringing Santiago." She warned, pointing angrily at him. "Whom do you think you are, Praveen? How dare you try to predict how my life should go and whom I should marry?" "I don't think I did that, Andrea." He breathed. "I only did that because of my mother and granny." He wasn't scared of her because he was used to her anger. "Santiago is a very good man and he's my friend. Granny and mother did all they could to fix this alliance with him and I only thought it would be good if I helped them." "Oh, and you think that..." "I don't think anything." He said rudely. "You might think I did this for you but I didn't. As I said, Santiago is a very good man and I don't think you deserve someone like him, Andrea. You two are completely different and I hope he'll continue being happy even after this marriage." With those words, he started walking away from them but before he could even take two steps, Bruce furiously gripped his arm, pulling him back. "Don't try to be a saint because we know what you are..." "I am not trying to play a saint or anything." He angrily released his hand, looking at Bruce like he wanted to beat him. "And I think I have spoken to you for long. I don't even have to answer you. Look, if you're looking for trouble, I don't have it." He walked away from them and went to his room. The two friends remained standing there, staring at the door he'd entered. They were furiously. "Don't think that you've won anything by doing this." Andrea grinned evilly, looking at her friend. "This is just the beginning and you'll be surprised by the turn out of events. If I were you, I would be careful." "What have you got planned?" "A lot!" Andrea said abruptly. "But we need to hit him hard and very soon. He has overstayed his welcome." "I don't..." "I will explain to you." Meanwhile, when Praveen entered the room, he found that Antonio was not there. He thanked his lucky stars because he was not ready to face any drama that night. He was just too tired. He just brushed his teeth and went to sleep on his couch. Before he knew it, he was fast asleep even before Antonio came to the room. *** "Sure!" Antonio smiled brightly, throwing the towel he was toweling his hair with. "I will do that." He waited for a second before answering again. "A meeting! Sure, that would be nice. I will meet you at the grand prime hotel at 3 today." He waited while smiling. "Thank you too." He cut the call, smiling brightly. Another businessman was interested in his music company and that meant more money was gonna come. He was just so happy that he felt like dancing. Putting the phone down, he just met with Praveen's eyes, staring at him sternly. "What?" His mood with Praveen seemed to improve. Even Praveen was surprised. "Can't a guy be happy even though he's staying with you?" "Well..." Praveen raised the towel, showing it to his husband. "...you should try cleaning the room one day. Maybe you won't be throwing things anyhow in this room." With those words, he threw the towel on Antonio's face, surprising the guy. "What?" Antonio removed the towel, following Praveen behind. "Don't ruin my mood because another deal is about to..." "Look, I don't care about your mood and..." Praveen quickly turned and something happened. The very moment he turned, he hit into Antonio who was rushing behind him. Both of them were heading for the floor. Antonio hit the floor with his back while Praveen fell on top of him. Without even realizing it, Antonio quickly wrapped his arms tightly around Praveen's waist, bringing his body closer as both of them hit the floor. Praveen's mouth went straight to Antonio's face, kissing his cheek, very close to his lips. Shit! His hair flipped forward so quickly, covering Antonio's face. When Antonio breathed out deeply, it hit Praveen's face so hard that he felt his body vibrate in what he couldn't even explain. Feeling Antonio's powerful arms around his waist, he couldn't control the shivers that overtook his body. Where his hands were, it felt really cold there. When Antonio slightly closed his eyes and when he opened them, it was to look into Praveen's beautiful eyes that seemed to be glowing. First, he could have sworn he saw the moon in Praveen's eyes. His body on top of him felt different. Feeling his hair on his face felt different too, magnificent. His breath also felt different. The two souls couldn't help but stare into each other's eyes. They were alone in this world, literally. Antonio felt nervous. He couldn't move his hands away from Praveen's waist. Something was wrong with him. It was as if he was frozen. Suddenly... "Ahem!" Someone cleared his throat, getting the two of them to reality. Praveen quickly moved his hand, removing his hair from Antonio's face and slowly getting up. Without even seeing the person that had come into the room, he stood still, dropping his eyes to the floor. He felt really shy and he was moving his eyes from side to side. Antonio on the other hand quickly got up, moving his eyes to the person that was in the room. It was Ethan and he was busy smiling with his arms on his chest, looking at Antonio like he was about to laugh at him, really hard. He was dressed in black skinny jeans, sky blue shirt, and white shoes. His hair was beautifully combed and his face was brighter that morning. It was as if he was mocking Antonio. "Hmm... Looks like romance is all around this house." He said, looking at the two of them, especially Praveen who was still really shy. Who knew what Ethan was thinking? "I just found out downstairs Andrea is getting married and here, you two..." "No... it's not what you're thinking, Ethan." Praveen shook his head, still unable to make eye contact. "I bumped into him and..." "Why are you explaining yourself?" He laughed, enjoying the awkwardness in the room. "I am supposed to be the one apologizing. I shouldn't have entered the room like that knowing that you two are newly married. But truth is, I knocked several times..." "What nonsense?" Antonio rolled his eyes, wondering what the hell his friend was talking about. "...you found us both on the floor and..." "Dude!" He raised his hands as if he was surrendering. "I didn't mean to..." "You know what," Antonio playfully grabbed Ethan's ear, pulling him towards the door. "You talk a lot. Now, why don't you come with me so that we can discuss something important instead of talking nonsense?" "Ouch!" Ethan screamed softly. "You don't have to be so serious." But Antonio was already getting him out of the room. After closing the door, Praveen looked towards the door as a smile appeared on his gorgeous face. He had no idea why he was smiling like that. After days of acting weird around Praveen, he was finally able to act the way he did. "Why do I keep seeing a different side of you?" Praveen thought, still smiling. "I don't understand what's wrong with me. Why do I keep feeling this way around him at times?" He'd never felt like that before. He breathed in deeply, holding his cheeks." No!" He shook his head. He couldn't accept the thoughts that were on his mind. "N, please Praveen..." He screamed. "This can't be happening. Please, have mercy on your heart." He needed to do something. He quickly turned and went to fold some clothes in the closet. He needed to keep himself busy but that wasn't gonna be a problem since there were a lot of things to do in the house. *** Praveen was slowly coming downstairs, smiling brightly to himself. He was really happy. He had just been from talking to his aunt on the phone and she had been telling him a lot about their lives abroad. He was really happy that now things were starting to turn out great for his aunt. After everything they'd been through, they deserved it. She missed him as much as he missed her. Suddenly as he was coming downstairs, he almost bumped into Emma who was coming from the kitchen with a glass of juice. Seeing her, he lost the smile on his face and stared at her, hoping she wasn't gonna insult him. "Watch it!" She said in the rudest tone he'd heard from her. "You're a walking disaster." With those words, he stood there watching as she went to the living room where the rest of the family members were. She sat happily with her hands on the couch, putting the glass on the small table. Andrea and Eduardo were not there but Bruce was. Early that morning, Santiago had gotten Andrea so that they could get to know each other. "Hey! Praveen!" Praveen got out of his thoughts, looking forward. He saw his granny calling him with a smile. He quickly nodded and then went to everyone in the living room. He sat close to granny who smiled happily when she saw him. Antonio was there too but he was busy on his tablet, probably on social media. Bruce was also there, staring at Antonio like he wanted to devour him there and then. He was admiring his man, probably fantasizing about the two of them making love. The guy was horny. It had been a month since he came back and the two hadn't had any sex. Shit! It was killing him inside. He just wanted to throw himself at Antonio there and then and fuck his brains out in front of everyone. There was a lot in his mind and his cock was hard. He was just lucky that it wasn't showing due to what he was wearing. "Now that all of us are here, I can finally break the news to all of you," Ethan said in a happy tone. "And I am telling you that this is gonna make all of you happy." "Yeah, dude..." Antonio closed his tablet. "You've kept me waiting for a long time and it's not funny anymore." "Relax!" Ethan winked. "Listen, I have some great news. You know the news of your marriage went like wildfire and that was why people demanded you to take a photoshoot with Praveen. Too bad that didn't work out." He took a deep breath, sitting at the edge of his seat. Antonio knew Ethan very well and he knew that something was in his mind, trouble. "What are you getting at?" He asked, raising his eyebrow. "What I am getting at my dear brother is that..." He paused and gave an evil grin. "...for the music videos that we are about to start shooting, your fans and your business partners want to see Praveen in it too." Praveen felt his heart move in his throat as his breaths seized. He felt frozen, looking at Ethan like he'd just grown another head. He couldn't believe what he was hearing, again. He had just been from making another mistake by agreeing to the photoshoot and now the music video. He was dumbstruck. Antonio on the other hand was silent. He had no idea what to say to Ethan or how to talk to him. First, it was the photoshoot and now his music videos too had to feature Praveen. This joke was not funny anymore, he thought as he looked at his boyfriend who was equally staring at Ethan, hating him even more. "What?" Bruce's mouth was shaking. His heart was pounding deeper in his chest and fear had already gotten inside of him. "What are you saying Ethan, Praveen..." "Do you have a problem with it?" Ethan asked, losing the smile on his face. Bruce's mouth shook visibly as everyone in the living room stared at him, all except for Praveen whose eyes were still glued on Ethan. "No, it's just that, you know..." "Well, I guess there's no problem." Ethan was trying to be as nice to Bruce as he could be. "As long as Antonio and Praveen agree then there's no problem." Bruce diverted his eyes to his boyfriend, looking at him with puppy eyes. There was absolutely no way that he was gonna allow Antonio to agree to that. Antonio's songs were romantic and there was no way he was gonna allow him to be romancing on set with Praveen. First of all, he had planned to convince Antonio to put him in the video, not Praveen. When Antonio stared in his boyfriend's eyes, he saw nothing but pain. His boyfriend was gonna be in pain, especially if he agreed to Ethan's suggestion. "Err..." "There's nothing to think about." Emilia chuckled nervously. "They are married and I think it will be for the best since the last photoshoot didn't work out." Antonio tried to open his mouth but couldn't utter any word at all. He again looked at Bruce and saw the anger on his face. He wanted to say no, he really did. But what could he do in that situation? His mother had already agreed and he had lost the right of saying something at that moment. "Shouldn't this decision be made by Antonio?" Emma was really upset. Why was Praveen so highly favored in the house? She was tired of him. "I mean, this is his career and I am sorry to say but Praveen isn't a model or famous. He's just an ordinary boy from a village and you can't risk ruining your..." "I think you should keep quiet, Emma," Granny said, looking at her in anger. "Didn't those models too start from nowhere?" "No, granny... I... I think aunt is right." Praveen said without even looking at her. "I know nothing about modeling or how to act in that video. Let someone else do it. There are many models out there that are..." "Nothing like you." Emilia chimed in, holding his hands sweetly and then smiled brightly when she felt him get tense. "You are my son in law and I believe in you, we all believe in you. Don't you wanna help your husband get to the top?" Praveen raised his face to stare at his husband and saw him looking at him. Their eyes met and Praveen dropped them. He knew he had to be careful and thought the guy was an idiot, Praveen knew he had to help him, not that he deserved it. But there was something else that was scaring him more than the music video itself, being close to Antonio. "Yes, mother." He breathed in deeply. "Good!" Granny smiled brightly. "It is settled then. So when are they supposed to start shooting? I can't wait already." Ethan smiled at granny's question. "Two days from now as we are still choosing the various locations. Praveen has to appear in the three songs that are pending from Antonio's previous singles." Ethan was excited that his heart was already racing. Deep down, he could feel the pressure rising in Bruce's heart and he could already feel the anger emanating from him. He was just so happy. He just wished the guy could leave Antonio alone. He glanced at Bruce, seeing his fists clenching. "I know what's on your mind, Bruce." He thought as an evil grin brightened up his face. "I will not let you succeed in your plans. I promised you that no matter what you do, I will bring Antonio and Praveen together. If I won't succeed in this then I am not Antonio's best friend." "Wow!" Celine's hands were holding her cheeks. "This will be great since Praveen's identity will get to be revealed in Antonio's videos." She saw all the faces looking at her in confusion. "Come on, people do not know who the model that appeared on the cover of the magazine is and if they get to know that he's none other than our Praveen, Antonio's spouse, what do you think it will do to Antonio's image?" "Right!" Ethan agreed, nodding abruptly. "Of course, you're right Celine. Antonio will be one of the most sort after celebrities, I tell." Bruce had heard enough of the non-sense. He couldn't stay there anymore. He just angrily got up from the chair. "Excuse me!" And walked away. When Emilia saw him, she didn't appreciate his behavior. "What's his problem?" She asked, shrugging. "Who knows?" Granny said with a chuckle. "But I don't know, I don't like him." She was being honest about it that Antonio got worried when he heard the tone of her voice. Her granny never spoke like that about anybody. "Now aren't we glad Praveen got married to Antonio instead of someone like that?" Everyone in the living room laughed jokingly except for Antonio who didn't find it funny. It was his boyfriend they were talking about, someone that he loved. Emma too rolled her eyes, shaking her head. She didn't like Praveen at all. She preferred Bruce because he was classy, elegant, rich, and famous. That was the kind of boy she had wanted Antonio to marry and not the idiot that they'd forced on him. *** Bruce was in Andrea's room, really mad. He was moving about from side to side trying to think straight. He was so angry and so much in pain that he didn't even know what hurt the most. He'd expected his boyfriend to reject Ethan's plan for his sake and suggest something else and not just sit there like a pumpkin. "Babe!" He heard Antonio's voice. He quickly turned and found him entering while folding his sleeves, looking sexy. But that didn't matter. "I am sorry." Antonio felt he owed his boyfriend an apology. "I had no idea that..." "You had no idea?" Bruce chuckled in pain, clenching his fists. "You had no idea or you are enjoying this?" "Babe?" He tried to hold his hands but Bruce retaliated. "Try and understand." "Of course," He smiled in pain. "I will try and understand that your mother and your granny agreed to it and to make them happy, you couldn't disagree. Did you even try to think for once what this was gonna do to me?" He fumed, tears building in his eyes. "Do you even know how much I love you?" "I love you too and I thought of you the entire time." Antonio knew very well that Bruce was in so much pain. "And I know it hurts you as much as it does right now and..." "Well," Bruce got closer, staring at Antonio sternly. "If you care about me and if you love me as much as you do, you're gonna have to reject the suggestion everyone's making." "What?" Antonio laughed. He laughed because what his boyfriend had just said sounded like a really big joke. "Are you serious? Do you know what that will do to me? We're talking about my image in this industry." "Does that matter more than I do?" Bruce pointed at himself, getting closer to Antonio. "I didn't say that." He defended himself. "But you know it's impossible. That might ruin me and my music. My fans are very important to me and so are my business partners and..." "To hell with them!" Bruce rasped as his foot stamped on the floor so hard that it felt like Antonio's heart had just been stamped. "I don't give a fuck about them." Antonio's heart crushed right there on the floor. His heart bled for the first time since he had started dating his boyfriend. His body felt hot and cold at the same time and he fixed his gaze on Bruce while he froze where he stood. He failed to believe what he had just heard from his boyfriend. It was as if something had just cut him. Then suddenly a wave of emotions took control of his body. "Bruce, I have supported you in your career and I have always stood by you." His voice was really low but the tone he used broke Bruce. "You've had romantic photoshoots with numerous guys and not for once have you heard me complain." "But that..." "That was what?" He yelled in Bruce's face, making him take a few steps back. Bruce's heart jumped. "You don't care about my career. You don't even care about what's important to me. This also proves that you don't trust me." Bruce wanted to speak, to defend himself but he felt his tongue get heavy. He couldn't open his mouth. "How many times do I have to say that I love you? What the fuck do you want me to do to prove that I fucking love you a lot?" He was getting tired of all the drama. "The other day, it was about the photoshoot and today it's about the music video. I am sick of trying to prove my love to you. This will be nothing but a fucking music video and if you don't believe that I love you then that's your problem, Bruce." He furiously turned and left the room, banging the door so hard that Bruce could have sworn the ground shook. "Fuck!" He screamed, throwing the pillows that were on the bed. "Why does everything seem to be going in the wrong direction?" He kicked the pillow on the flow in anger, sending it flying to the door just as Andrea was furiously entering the room. She looked around her room, opened the door, got out, and came back inside. She found Bruce panting, his fists trembling and his face looking red. He was mad. Andrea was looking sexy in a black designer's dress that looked like it was designed by angels, red high heels, and her hair curled and then tied. Her makeup was on point. She was looking really cute but her mood was foul. "Uh... This is my room and I have been warning you not to mess it up." She warned as she angrily picked up a pillow and threw it harshly at him. "Look, sweetie, I have told you that if you want to scream, cry, vent, or do whatever crazy thing you want, I have no problem with it. But you have to do it at your house or the hotel you are staying at. You can even burn it if you want. I don't give two hoots about it." Bruce rolled his eyes, ragingly sitting on the bed. "What do you want me to do?" His voice sounded like some grating noise. "That boy always finds ways to make me mad and this time he has stepped on my last nerve. I won't spare him." Andrea could tell from Bruce's tone that his day hadn't been good either. "And Antonio is not making things any easier for me either." He yelled. Andrea sighed, throwing her handbag on the bed while she folded her arms on her chest. "Yeah, I saw him angrily leaving. What did you do?" "Me?" He chuckled mockingly as he got up. "I didn't do anything. Can you imagine..." Bruce started narrating the story to Andrea about Ethan's suggestion up to the time Antonio had left the room. "...and just like that, he got upset and I am yet to find out what I did wrong by asking my boyfriend to reject the proposal." Andrea laughed softly, losing the smile on her face. "This boy is becoming a big thorn in our flesh and that thorn keeps on getting bigger and bigger every day. I am simply sick of it. I am just from my first date with that... that..." She didn't even know what to call him. "...all he did was talk about that bitch, praising him like he's an angel or something." She felt sick to the core. "Praveen this, Praveen that. I am simply done hearing that name. And can you imagine where he took me for our date? He thinks I am mother Theresa or something. I have never been to such a boring date my entire life. If he's that boring and dry on a date, can you imagine him during..." She convulsed, shaking her head. "...sex, disgusting." Bruce looked at Andrea and she got worried. "I am really worried." He said softly, feeling tears building in his eyes. "That boy is becoming dangerous. He's pulling Antonio closer to him day by day and..." "Not on my watch, our watch!" Andrea sounded dangerous. "This game has already started and baby, it is our destiny to win." "What do we do?" Bruce gripped his hair harder, not minding the pain. "I can't handle him anyway." Hearing that question, Andrea's face lit up with an evil grin. "This boring date wasn't that useless, baby." She cupped his cheeks, rubbing on them sweetly. "While that idiot was busy talking non-sense, I was able to come up with a plan on how we can get rid of that idiot for good. He'll never return." "Really?" Bruce gasped, feeling his heart racing. "What's that?" "I'll tell you but first..." She pointed. "...we are gonna have to play along with something for a short period." Bruce tried to speak... "And of course, stop that boy from appearing in that music video." Bruce smiled. "That's great." Andrea was an evil genius. She had an evil plan up her sleeve and it required starting immediate work. "I am sorry Praveen but you leave me with no choice." She thought. "You have to leave this house one way or another. That will surely happen or my name is not Andrea." It was on! *** Praveen finished tying the band and he was busy checking himself in the mirror. He had tied his hair into a ponytail which by the way made his face to be in full view. He was looking really young but very handsome. He slowly took his spectacles and wore them which made him look like a nerd but he loved it since he was already used to it. "Wow, Praveen..." He said in a sweet voice. "...now you can start your day with the Lord's blessings." He slowly bowed. He was dressed in a dark blue T-shirt that looked gorgeous on him, a green skinny jeans and black sandals on his feet. He was looking really simple but he loved it like. He took a deep breath, taking a final look in the mirror before... "Wow, he's ready for another embarrassing moment." He heard Antonio's voice and wanted to respond but he decided it was best to ignore him. "Must be good getting all these opportunities to be famous right?" Praveen simply rolled his eyes, picked up his phone, and started getting out of the room. "Just don't embarrass me on that set because I will kill you." "Look, I don't like it as much as you don't," Praveen said rudely, still heading for the door. "I would have preferred it if it was Santiago." With those words, Praveen got out of the room, shutting the door behind him. "Yeah, right!" Antonio said softly, heading straight to the bathroom. There was a part of him that was really excited that he had got another opportunity to do something with Praveen. Shit! What was wrong with him, he thought? His boyfriend had just argued with him and he seemed not concerned. Okay, something was majorly wrong with him. Meanwhile, Praveen was almost heading downstairs when someone pulled him furiously behind. "Antonio, what the hell is wrong with you. I told you..." Wrong! When his eyes landed on the person that had pulled him, it wasn't Antonio. The guy was wearing a foul look on his face with a band tied around his head. He was wearing a pink designer's shirt with his chest exposed, a sexy blue short, and designer's sandals. He was a true model but Praveen didn't care. "Wow, you can't even get my boyfriend's name out of your mouth." Bruce snapped, breathing like a soldier at war. "How many times will you..." "Look, Bruce..." Praveen wasn't in the mood for arguments. "...today is kinda important to me and I'd appreciate it if you didn't ruin my mood." "Oh," Bruce laughed, getting a bit closer to Praveen. "I see. But you won't ever have peace as long as you are trying to seduce my boyfriend. Why can't you go and find your own? There are a lot of guys out there and..." "I don't care how many guys are out there." Praveen was losing his temper. "I am not hungry for a man and I am sick of trying to explain to you. Whatever you're thinking, whatever is in your mind, you should always remember that Antonio and I are legally married. I have a wedding ring..." He raised his hand, showing the beautiful ring on his finger. "...and the holy wedding chain." He showed it to Bruce, igniting the flame in Bruce's heart. "So our marriage should be none of your business. I don't care what Antonio or you does. I have already told you to leave me alone." "I will never leave you alone as long as you're the villain in our love story." He chuckled, starting to go round, Praveen, looking at him from head to toe in disgust. "You think you can compete with me." He was mocking the boy. "You don't stand a chance. Antonio might have married you but he's in love with me. It's me he wants to spend the rest of his life with. He detests you. Your very existence irritates him." Harsh words! Praveen usually didn't care but right at that moment, he felt his heart breaking to pieces. "Your marriage is a sham, just for show." He added. "But with me, Antonio is always happy, always smiling." He smiled himself, remembering his best moments with Antonio. "He's always himself, caring, sweet and angelic. He always shows me his best side and when we kiss..." He moaned sensually as if he was about to orgasm, rubbing his lips while Praveen stared at him. "...it is fire. When we make love, it is ecstatic." Praveen slightly closed his eyes, fighting off his tears. Why was it hurting so much, he thought? "We're always on cloud 9." Praveen looked away just as Bruce was getting closer to him. "But you..." He laughed. "You've never experienced such things and you never will. He's always sad with you, shouting at you and hates you." Praveen laughed softly at Bruce's words. "You're right. Antonio is never happy with me, he's always shouting at me and has severally told me he hates me. But he's my husband and I am happy with what he does." He chuckled, remembering the couple of times he'd smiled at Antonio. "Whenever he comes with a problem, he shouts at me. Whenever he's not feeling well, he shouts at me and tells me he hates me. Whenever something is wrong, he blames me." He pointed at himself. "But that's my job as his spouse. I like the fact that I can take away his problems when he shouts at me. I can take away his anger and bring him back to himself. That's the job of a good husband." Bruce couldn't believe what Praveen had just told him. He got so upset that he couldn't even speak. "You may get to experience his good side but as long as I help take away his problems, I am fine with it." With those few words, Praveen quickly turned and left Bruce standing there like a statue. He was so mad that he just groaned and went back to Andrea's room. He had come with a plan to hurt Praveen but he was the one that got hurt. It was so annoying. Meanwhile, Praveen was coming downstairs, reliving his encounter with Bruce. He felt he shouldn't have said all that he had said to him. Why did he even talk about Antonio like that, he thought as he rubbed his face? He took a deep breath before suddenly bumping into someone. The next thing he felt was the sound of a phone on the floor. He quickly moved his eyes to the floor and saw a really expensive phone on the floor. "Oh my God," He gasped, quickly kneeling. "I didn't see you." His hands went to the phone and just when he reached it, he felt another hand on his. He quickly moved his eyes up and looked in really lovely eyes that were staring at him, a cute smile that made him smile too and a handsome face. "You?" He was dressed in a really beautiful black shirt that was tucked in a dark blue skinny trousers that made him look handsome. He was casual with red snickers that seemed expensive and his hair was combed perfectly. Seeing him, Praveen felt like he was alive. His mood changed there and then. "Praveen!" "God!" Praveen took the phone from the floor, rising but Santiago's hand was still holding his. When he looked at the phone, he noticed that it was broken. "I am so sorry, Santiago." He apologized, losing the smile on his face. "I bumped into you and I seem to have broken your phone and..." "Shh..." Santiago blocked Praveen's lips with his finger. "Don't say anything anymore. You broke the phone. So what?" "But it seems so expensive." "I will replace it." "You sure?" "Sure!" Santiago was still holding Praveen's hand, sweetly rubbing on it. "Don't worry about it. A phone is nothing compared to you, Praveen." Praveen blushed, looking down on the floor. He couldn't believe what he was hearing. Santiago was truly different from any other guy he'd ever met. "Thank you but..." He paused, looking at Santiago with a smile. "What are you doing here? Are you not working?" "Work?" Santiago laughed. "No! I came to pick Andrea up. We still have some things to do plus your husband..." He got close to Praveen's ears. "...he wants to get to know me better, you know... Judge if he will allow me to marry his sister." He whispered, making Praveen chuckle. "So why don't you come with us. It will be fun." No way in this world was Praveen going to spend a day with Antonio and Andrea in the same place. Plus he still had a lot of things, important things to do. "Oh, no..." He sighed, shaking his head. But he was still wearing that beautiful smile on his face that made Santiago's heart melt. "I have a really big project coming up and I just thought of putting the almighty in it first." He breathed inaudibly. "I would have come with you Santiago but guess what..." He took Santiago's hands, rubbing on them lovingly. "...I will make up for it. You and I will have our own time together. Get to know Antonio first, okay. I will see you." Then he quickly leaned forward, giving Santiago a quick peck before he ran out of the house. To Praveen, it was just a peck but he had no idea what it did to Santiago. He remained standing there, frozen like a statue. He couldn't believe Praveen had done that, for the first time. "Thanks..." He slowly touched the area Praveen had kissed him. "I appreciate that." Santiago smiled brightly, staring at his broken phone. He wasn't mad but rather happy. Ever since Praveen had come into his life, so many things had changed. With a brilliant smile, he went to the living room to wait for the siblings. *** Praveen slowly bowed, touching the holy ground near the feet of the lord's idol. He touched his head first and then his chest before finally covering his head with a scarf. Then he put his hands together, connecting with the idol's face. The temple wasn't that full probably because people were busy during that time since it was a weekday. He had returned to his village temple, brought some food for the poor and some clothes. He was really happy and now he just wanted to make prayers to the almighty for his wellbeing. He felt at peace in that place. His heart wasn't troubled at all. "Dear Lord," He took a deep breath. "I came here today to ask for your blessings once again. I know that my life has changed a lot in ways that I didn't expect. You know what's going on in my life because you destined me for it. Only you know my future and everything that will happen." He slightly closed his eyes. "Today, I came here to ask for your blessing and your guidance as I will be participating in Antonio's music video. Let everything be successful and let no evil befall me or succeed in their plans." He closed his eyes and prayed hard about his husband's coming project. He prayed though Antonio didn't deserve it. He had learned to care a lot about the guy. He prayed for his decision about Santiago... "He's a good man and deserves all the happiness in the world. Please, make him happy. You know very well what is happening in my life. Since my marriage, I have known nothing but sadness. Bless me, even more, to withstand all these tortures and make my new family happy. You know very well that I only live to serve you." Praveen's eyes were already watering. "I am ready to accept your guidance and instruction because I have never gone against it. What I don't understand is how long I am gonna have to endure this. It is too much for me Lord. Please help me, give me more strength to overcome it and give me more courage. Please, help me be the best son in law." He prayed harder as a tear went down his cheeks. Then in just a few minutes, he was done. He bowed down, touching the ground again. He removed his scarf and then turned to leave. But he found the priest behind him, smiling brightly. He was looking... priestly in a pure white robe and a trident. He had long pure white hair that reached his back, long white beards and his eye rashes were also bushy. He was still just like he remembered him. "Priest!" He quickly touched his feet, getting his blessings. "My son, the almighty hears every prayer that you've made since you were born." He said, hitting the trident harder on the floor. Praveen could have sworn he felt a strong wind blow on his face. "And very soon, you will run into your destiny. You'll get to understand that he hasn't abandoned you. A miracle shall happen very soon in unexpected ways." Praveen was confused. "I still don't understand." The priest chuckled, shaking his head. Then he got serious. "On this very temple, before you were born, your souls were connected and now, the almighty will do wonders. You'll get to understand everything and why the almighty did what he did." Praveen was still confused. "I have to begin my meditations now my son." He smiled. "May peace be upon you." Praveen simply nodded as he slowly started going away down the long stairs. He was so confused because the priest's words were in his mind. He kept on remembering them, wondering what they meant. Was something about to happen? "The almighty works in so many ways, Praveen." The priest said as he looked at the boy that was going down the stairs. "He gave you to your mother and you are a blessing to anyone that has you in their lives... Though..." He paused. "You'll pass through your most difficult test yet but the Almighty is always with you. You're about to run into your destined place. You still have a lot of things that you do not know. Go in peace my son..." The priest waved and just as he did, a strong wind started blowing at the temple. Praveen felt it and it blew his scarf away and his hair started blowing backward, revealing his face. He quickly shielded his face with his hands, wondering what was going on. "A storm?" He gasped, slowly trying to remove his hands from his face. His village was known to have storms since it was near the sea. "Not today. I need to go back." He removed his hands from his face to see but something hit his face, a piece of paper. He slowly removed it from his face when suddenly, the strong wind started dying down. He looked at the paper and found that it was a piece of some magazine and it was... "...Richard Marasigan, billionaire business tycoon returns to the country." Praveen didn't know who the man was and he had never heard of him before but the name... it somehow brought a strange feeling to him. And who was the man, how did he look like? Praveen couldn't answer those questions because there was no picture on the piece he was holding. "Richard... Marasigan..." Somehow, he got really curious as to who the man was. He looked at the magazine closely, realizing that the man owned a lot of companies home and abroad, also a fashion house that made him smile since he had always wanted to be a designer. "Almighty, what are you showing me?" He sighed, looking towards the heavens just as the wind completely died down. "Are you testing me again?" He had always wanted to get into a fashion house and those dreams were still there. He just took a deep breath, threw the piece of a magazine, and went to his car. He had a lot of things to do back at home and as it was, it was already getting dark. He didn't want to make anyone worried. *** Inside Marasigan Group of Companies... * A really beautiful blonde lady, dressed in the best clothes was walking inside the company, greeting every worker there with a smile on her face. She was really beautiful, in her late 40s but you could easily mistake her for a teen because her face was gorgeous as hell. Her hair was curled and then made into a spoof which made her face to be revealed. She had beautiful makeup that made her face glow even more. She was dressed in a really expensive designer's red dress with red high heels on her feet that made her look like a fashion goddess. Everyone loved her so much and admired her. She wasn't married and didn't have any children either. But she was really happy and loved what she did. Her eyes were on the door at the far end which belonged to the boss of the company, a really rich man who she had been working with for as long as she could remember. * Inside the boss' office... "Would you like anything else, sir?" A tall handsome man asked as he took the files from the table. He was staring at the man who he couldn't even see. The man was seated in a tall office chair, with his back to the handsome man, his secretary. He was looking at the window, admiring the beautiful view outside. "Sir..." He just raised his hand, gesturing for the secretary to leave without saying anything. "Yes, sir..." The man bowed, taking the files. Just as he was leaving, the beautiful woman arrived and then leaned at his desk with one of her hands on her hips. Then she chuckled and smiled brightly, shaking her head happily. "And how's the boss doing this morning?" She asked, her fingers hitting the desk slightly. "As usual." The man answered in a deep manly voice. "Is there any news?" The woman sighed, taking a deep breath. "As usual, there's nothing. I called the private investigator and he still hasn't been able to locate her. Maybe she... she's not in the country anymore." The man was silent. "Till when will you continue to look for her, Richard?" She had concern in her voice. "You know your condition and..." "I don't care about my condition." He said without turning. "Even if it's the last thing I do, I must find her, at least... even if she's no longer here, I... I..." "Do not..." "You don't understand." The man quickly turned, facing the beautiful woman. He was handsome. Richard Marasigan was a handsome man with tan skin that made him look like a god. He had short dark hair with a few white. He was in his late 40s but he could easily pass for a thirty-year old. He was dressed in a deep grey designer's suit, black shirt inside, and black shoes. He was muscular, really sexy, and attracted a lot of women to him but he wasn't interested in any of them. It had been many years and he had been single. "I have had to suffer ever since I lost her..." He said with tears building in his eyes. "...I have had to pay a huge price. I am rich Vanessa, really rich. But what is all this wealth without an heir? I am a failure, Vanessa." Vanessa was Richard's cousin, a really lovely woman. She had stayed with him, helped him a lot, and had never left his side, not once. She had missed a lot of opportunities of getting married because of him but she didn't mind. She was happy that way. "Richard, I know that but..." "No, Vanessa." He shook his head. "I cannot depend on the investigators alone. Even if I have to give to the poor at the temple the entire day, I will do that. But I will start looking for her myself. I will find her and I will bring her to where she rightfully belongs." "But Richie..." She started panicking. "...your heart. You just had a huge operation. I don't think it can stand any more stress..." "I don't care but my heart..." He touched his chest slowly, rubbing on it. "...will allow me to find her or our child. They've got to be alive somewhere, just waiting for me. I will never be at peace until I find either of them. It's been too long, Vanessa." He sat back on the chair. "I have been suffering without them. Maybe I made a really big mistake by leaving her." Vanessa didn't know what to say to her cousin to make him feel better. His story was really sad. 19 years back, Richard had brought his girlfriend home after marrying her despite his mother's disapproval since she was from a humble village and an orphan. He'd been in love with her since the very first time he had set his eyes. They'd been dating though his mother hadn't approved of her. After running away together, they got married and he only came back after the death of his father. His mother had accepted him and his wife and they had started living together in the same house, so he had thought. His mother had been treating her well and she had convinced him to go and study abroad. He had wanted to go with her but his mother had rejected saying she wanted to bond with her. Seeing it as a great opportunity, Richard had left her with his mother while he went to study abroad. He had spent a year there and when he came back, he had found his wife gone with his mother giving him a story of how she had been cheating on him with all kinds of men and how she had caught her. But he hadn't believed her until she had shown him pictures of his wife with a man in bed. He had been hurting that he had cried... "I told you she was an unfaithful woman and now she's gone." His mother had said. "You will find a woman that will love you truly and make you happy." With pain, anger, and regret, Richard's heart had been broken forever. He had become cold and closed his heart to love. He had buried his pain and anger through his work until he had expanded his business abroad because he didn't wanna do anything home. It was eight years back when he had found out the truth from his mother on her death bed. She had confessed that his wife didn't have an affair. She had framed her up, given her a fake letter which showed that Richard had a girlfriend abroad whom he was intending to marry. The worst and most painful of it was... "...I am sorry, son..." She had pleaded. "...I made a mistake and she... she was pregnant for you." That had been painful. After so many years of pain, he had found out the truth. His wife had been pregnant with their first child. He had stormed out, leaving his mother and he had gone to look for her but no one knew where she had gone. His mother had died and he hadn't even attended her funeral. Since that time, his problems with his heart had started. He had had three operations and still, it gave him problems. Richard was a sad man. He was never happy. Just about two months back, he had had another operation and just recently came back to the country for good. "Even if Isabella died," He sighed, fighting off his tears. "My child should be alive somewhere, right?" "But that makes it even more difficult, Richard." Vanessa, leaned on the table, towards him. "I just pray that Isabella is still alive. But don't worry," She smiled to make him feel better. "I will help you. We'll look for her and your child together. We'll find them. Now cheer up." She lovingly pinched his cheeks, laughing softly. "Hey!" Richard smiled, moving his head. "I am not a child anymore, Vanessa. Don't you have anything to do?" Vanessa raised her hands as if she was surrendering. Then she just left, chuckling to herself. As soon as she left, Richard lost the smile on his face and sighed, placing his hands on his face. He was no longer a happy guy. "Almighty please, help me." He said softly. "Guide my path. You're the only one that can help me." Was his family still alive? *** Praveen was slowly cutting some tomatoes, his mind elsewhere, wondering why he had been feeling uneasy and nervous out of the blue. He was somehow scared and had no idea why he was that scared. Ever since the day he'd come back from the temple he had been feeling uneasy, like something bad was going to happen. He was hoping that wasn't the case. Praveen was putting on an old T-shirt that his mother had bought for him, a dark blue trouser and brown sandals on his gorgeous feet. His hair was tied in a ponytail, revealing his gorgeous, lovely face and he had his spectacles on. "Why have I been feeling this way?" Praveen thought, trying his best to be calm. "I don't understand. Almighty, are you trying to warn me about something? Is something about to happen, something really bad? Please, help me, please..." He shook his head and continued cutting the tomatoes, putting them aside. Then he started with the dough, kneading softly and carefully. He was multi-tasking, cooking, and baking. But before he went any further... "What are you thinking about? Worried about the video?" Antonio chuckled, leaning on the table with a smile on his face. "You know it's not too late to back out. Just go and tell granny that you don't wanna embarrass yourself." Praveen took a glance at his husband, eyeing him from head to toe. The guy was just in an ordinary T-shirt, a dark blue cargo short and green sandals on his feet. His hair was a mess as if he had just been from playing in the mud. He had a red apple in his hand which he was playing with. Praveen decided to ignore him as if he didn't hear what he said. He continued with what he was doing. "Even if you don't answer, you know I am talking to you..." He was teasing the boy. Hearing him, Praveen quickly faced him, staring into his face. Then he wore a mocking smile on his face. "You know that's a great idea..." He slowly rubbed on his hairless chin. "...but where will I get all the fun of embarrassing you on set? I love seeing you looking shocked." He laughed, enjoying as the smile faded on Antonio's face. "Don't you..." "Let me help you with that." He grabbed the apple from Antonio's hands and accidentally left flour there. "What the?" Antonio gasped, looking at his hands. "You did that on purpose? How dare you? You even got flour on my shirt." "Well, that's a signal that you need to leave the kitchen, Mr. Antonio." He turned again and started kneading the dour, this time a little faster. He was still wearing that smile on his face. "Leave me to work if you don't wanna bath in all this flour and..." "You little..." "Granny!" He shouted at the top of his voice which surprised his husband. "What are you doing?" Antonio asked as his eyes widened and a shiver went down his spine. "What do you think?" Praveen chuckled, smiling brightly as if he was teasing his husband. "I am calling granny and... Gra..." Before he could even finish shouting, Antonio moved quickly and covered Praveen's mouth with his hands. Now, all that he could hear were Praveen's muffled screams and he felt really happy. Praveen tried to shout at the top of his voice but he couldn't. Antonio had covered his mouth and no words. "Hey..." But no word came out. He wanted to tell Antonio to leave him alone. Leaving him with no choice, Praveen used whatever he could, his hands. He tried to hit Antonio but slipped on something and he found himself falling backward. But Antonio's hands were so quick to grab his waist that he found himself being held closer to Antonio's body. They were both looking into each other's eyes as soon as they did, everything else disappeared right there. Praveen had his hands on Antonio's chest while Antonio's powerful arm had found its way on Praveen's waist, holding him close. They could feel their breaths on each other's faces. Both of them were breathing... Like they'd never breathed before. It was different, it was lovely. Praveen's stomach felt like it was turning. His heart was beating rhythmically, wonderfully and he had no idea what he felt. It was different, wonderful, something he'd never experienced before. He was both scared and confident but then... "Ahem!" Both of them quickly came to reality and Antonio pulled Praveen, both of them standing still like they were soldiers. It was granny and she had her arms on her chest, looking at the two of them sternly but deep down, she was smiling. She loved the position she had found them in. If her hunch was right, the two of them had already started falling for each other. The way they'd been staring at each other. She was sure that if she hadn't come there or disturbed them, they'd have surely kissed. "Antonio!" She was still serious and she sounded mad. "What's going on here? What are you doing to my grandson?" "Granny?" Antonio was in shock. "What do you mean?" Praveen chuckled, looking towards the floor. He was smiling. "I heard him scream my name. What did you do?" "Nothing!" He chuckled nervously. "He was just..." "I won't ask you. Praveen!" She called his name with such seriousness in her voice that he almost jumped up. "What's going on? Is he disturbing you?" Praveen moved his eyes to Antonio, seeing him gesturing him to say no. Then he looked at granny and smiled. "Yes, granny... I was trying to do something important and he..." "Lies!" Antonio chuckled nervously at his granny. "He's lying, granny. Look what he did to me." He opened his arms wider, showing his granny all the flour on him, including his shirt. "So tell me, who are you gonna believe, your favorite grandson or Praveen?" Granny sighed, rolling her eyes. "Of course, my favorite grandson." Antonio gave Praveen a "Nah Nah Nah Nah..." Look before he turned to granny and got another surprise. "Which is why you're getting out of here..." She held his ear, dragging him out of the kitchen. "Ouch! Granny!" He screamed, following her. "You're hurting my ear." "And you're disturbing my grandson," Granny said with a laugh. "Let's go you massage my feet." She took him out of the kitchen, leaving Praveen alone, smiling to himself while he stared at the door where granny and Antonio had just exited. There had been no such wonderful scene as seeing granny and grandson in that position. It was wonderful that it made Praveen see Antonio in another light. * "Fuck!" Bruce stormed in Andrea's room, slamming the door so hard that it almost gave Andrea a heart attack. She furiously got off the bed, dropped her tablet there, and went to him. "You know you're seriously getting on my nervous, Bruce, right?" She was just dressed in a simple dress and slippers and her hair was tied in a ponytail but she looked lovely. Bruce just stared at her and looked away. "Look, I am sorry but I am just so mad." "Are you ever in a good mood, these days?" Andrea rolled her eyes, picking up the tablet. "Look, I am tired of this nonsense." "What do you expect?" Bruce roared, gripping his hair. "That idiot is getting too close to my boyfriend. Do you know exactly what he told me the other day? He warned me about Antonio, saying he's his husband and has every right on him. Can you imagine such nonsense?' Andrea shook her head, breathing inaudibly. She had already had so many problems and didn't need anymore. "And what are you gonna do about it? I wanna hear your plans so that I can know how to help you." Bruce clenched his fists, smiling like an evil warrior after defeating all his enemies. "I need to stop him from appearing on that video at all cost." He snarled, feeling anger taking every bit of him. "Sweetheart," Andrea sighed. "Last time you prevented him from taking a romantic photo with Antonio but he still managed to pull..." "Not this time, Andrea." He smiled. "This time, I will deal with him in such a way that he won't only lose this opportunity to be with Antonio but he'll also be scared of me. He'll leave this house on his own because he'll be too ashamed to face anyone." Andrea loved the sound of that. "What are you planning?" Bruce gave Andrea an evil grin, shaking his head. "I have tolerated you too much, Praveen." He thought as he smiled even brighter. "You are hungry for Antonio, I will satisfy your hunger. You will always run when you see me. You leave me with no choice. I warned you that I can go to any extent just to get back what belongs to me. You're playing with fire and you'll get burnt." *** 3 days later... Praveen was seated in front of a huge mirror, staring at his reflection. He looked completely different, really different from the way he'd ever looked before. The image in the mirror reminded him so much of his past before he even became a nerd back in school. He was looking beautiful. His hair was made into braids that reached his butt and some passed down his shoulder. His face was in full view without any spectacles on his eyes. His eyes were in full view that seemed to be piercing through him, his own eyes. He was emotional because he was remembering his mother and how she used to make him happy. "You're really beautiful, my love." She used to say. "One day, the world will see how beautiful you are, inside and outside. I thank God for giving you to me. Your father must be proud wherever he is." Praveen had to fight off his tears. He didn't wanna ruin his face plus he didn't think the makeup artist working on his face would have appreciated it after her hard work. "Your dream for me is slowly coming to reality, mother." Praveen thought, placing his palm on his chest as he slightly closed his eyes. "Your Praveen will get to appear in a music video." He completely closed his eyes and gave a short prayer of guidance and protection. "You look lovely, sir." The makeup artist commented as soon as she was done. "I can't wait to watch the video because I am drooling already." Praveen smiled, fighting off his tears. "Thank you so much." He said just as the director came inside the room. Praveen was already at the scene and he was nervous as hell. The people that were working on him were already done. He was wearing a deep pink designer's shirt that was halfway buttoned, fitting him like a second skin and it was tucked in a black skinny jean that was also marvelous and he had black designers snickers on his feet, the best he'd ever seen in his life. Had he been dressed like that and went out, people would mistake him for a billionaire's son. "Aren't you charming?" The black handsome man with hazel eyes and slightly pink lips spoke. He was tall and muscular too. "I still wonder where Antonio got a diamond-like you." Praveen nodded. "Thank you so much, sir." "Sir?" The man laughed, folding his arms on his chest. "My name is Shravan and I am the director. By the way, your first scene is gonna be right here and your second will be at the beach and then we're gonna have to change. You are gonna have a long week." Praveen simply nodded and smiled at the man. "Why don't you do some final touches while I check if your husband has arrived?" He smiled. "We need to start shooting soon." With a smile, the man left. Praveen got up from the chair and started checking himself out in the mirror. He was truly looking like a prince but he was nervous as hell. He was just hoping that there weren't gonna be any mistakes. "Come on, Praveen!" He said softly, looking at his reflection. "You killed it at the photoshoot. This is no different. You just have to be confident and go with the flow. Granny and the family are counting on. Don't disappoint them." Then he smiled at his own words. He slowly turned to leave the room but before he did, he heard his phone. He quickly turned, grabbed his phone from the table, and looked at the screen. It was just a number that he couldn't recognize but he answered it. "Hello!" "Thank heavens," the deep manly voice on the other end answered. "Is this Praveen, the famous Antonio's husband?" "Speaking..." He said, wondering who it was and why the man on the other end was breathing so harshly. "How may..." "You need to come here quick!" The man said abruptly. "Your husband was involved in a terrible accident and he's losing a lot of blood." "Your husband was involved in a terrible accident." The man's voice echoed in his mind. "What?" Praveen covered his mouth shut, tears already forming in his eyes. His heart gave a sharp pound in his chest which felt like he was about to have a heart attack. A cold shiver raced through the body, giving him the greatest fear he'd ever felt. His knees felt weak that he almost fell if not for the wall. Before he knew it, tears were already running down his cheeks. He was so scared and weak that he started trembling uncontrollably. "W... what?" He stammered, the phone shaking on his ear. "Where? How? Why?" "Sir, you need to come quick..." The man said abruptly. "There is an old mansion in..." He gave Praveen the address and cut the call. Praveen's phone fell from his ear to the floor and before he thought about anything else, he was running out through the door. He prayed to the almighty that there was nothing wrong with his husband. *** Bruce and Andrea arrived at the site of the music video, smiling brightly, especially Bruce. He was sure that he was gonna play the part that was supposed to be played by Praveen and Praveen was gonna be in a corner somewhere crying. He had come prepared. He was dressed for that part. He was wearing a really lovely green designer's shirt, dark blue skinny jeanss and brown snickers. His hair was combed backward and gelled, revealing his makeup overdone face which looked magnificent, or so he thought. He was really happy. "Look, Andrea!" He moved his arms around, looking at the people there that were busy setting the whole place up. It looked magnificent. "Dreams do come true. This place is a perfect place to romance with Antonio." He folded his arms around himself, looking all seductive. "I can't wait to have him kiss me on set." Andrea shook her head. She too was dressed like a queen. "You don't cease to amaze me, Bruce. You're such an evil genius." "Yeah and..." He paused and gasped. "...Look!" Andrea turned and saw got excited too. Black designer's shoes, red trouserss and a blue shirt that was folded at the sleeves with glasses in the hair that looked lovely and a face that looked like it was carved by angels and that chest exposed for everyone to fantasize about. Andrea's brother was to die for. Antonio was entering the room, his mind busy on the phone. He was busy typing something with a stern look on his face. Walking a distance away from the door he turned and stood still, looking all around. He seemed to be impressed as a smile popped up his face. "Isn't he dreamy?" Bruce asked, touching her chest. "And poor Praveen will be nowhere to be seen, dear Andrea." "I know..." They both burst into laughter. "Andrea, when I am all set to reclaim what belongs to me and protect it, I can do anything." He felt like a hero. "Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go and..." He moaned, winking at Andrea while he bit his lip like he was in a porn movie. "...reclaim my man." He turned and started walking towards Antonio but stopped before even going further. His heart stopped beating... his body, mind, and soul felt frozen... his breaths seized and fear took control of him... his eyes widened just as he heard the harsh breaths from his friend. "How is this possible?" He gasped. He closed his eyes, rubbed them, and open them again but he was still there... "Praveen!" He gasped as the fear of God himself took control of his body. Praveen was standing in the doorway close to Antonio, staring at him like he'd seen a ghost. His eyes were a bit red and his face was wet from tears. He seemed shocked, weak, sad, and happy at the same time. He was weakly sobbing, looking like he'd been chased by a predator. "Ant... Ant..." He couldn't even say his name. Seeing Antonio standing there alive and well just weakened him. He got emotional that he couldn't even think straight. Only God knows what he wanted to do. He didn't care. Antonio was alive. The person that had called him had been lying to him but who cared? With a sharp breath, Praveen started running towards Antonio who couldn't see him because he was busy on his phone. Praveen didn't care. He ran as fast as he could and reaching Antonio, he did the impossible, something he wouldn't have done even if someone had chased him in the past. He gripped Antonio and hugged him tightly, wrapping his arms around him and resting his head on his chest while he sobbed softly. To say Antonio was surprised would be an understatement. When Praveen hugged him, he felt a sharp electrical sensation take control of his body and he dropped the phone, his eyes widening. He hadn't expected that at all. He was caught by surprise and he didn't know what to do? Suddenly, he was caught by so many emotions that he started trembling. Everything again disappeared in front of him, everything. His trembling hands slowly started moving until suddenly, they wrapped themselves around Praveen though his eyes were still wide open. Where Bruce and Andrea, they felt like the earth had moved but truly, it was their heart that pounded so hard that they felt like they'd been hit on their chests so hard that they almost had a heart attack? To be continued...
  11. "That’s you in the picture?" Antonio gasped, pointing shakily at the magazine. He quickly rushed to Praveen, grabbing the magazine away from him. "B-but, how? When? Where?" Praveen shook his head, frowning at the question. "That day when I was locked out in the room, I came out and found that you had already done the shoot. Mr. Lopez felt bad that he decided to have the shoot with me. I couldn't turn him down so..." "But..." "Oh, stop whining!" Granny chuckled, slapping his hand a bit. His eyes were still glued on that cover. "Praveen, dear, you looked different." Praveen sighed, smiling at granny. "I know granny. That's just another part of me that I haven't seen for a long time. Actually, there was a time I used to look like that." Emilia was really surprised. She went to Praveen and looked at him. "I am so proud of you, Praveen. This is a high fashion photo." "Thanks, mother." He nodded. "I am sorry that I didn't tell you that about the shoot earlier." "You don't have to apologize." She rested her hand on his shoulder. "It's a shame that my son didn't get to shoot with you. I am proud of the both of you, son, but most especially you because you've proved that you can do anything those models can do." Bruce on the other hand was standing there looking like a constipated monkey. He was burning, mad because of what he had seen. Praveen was his competition, he thought as he clenched his fists, looking straight at Praveen. He wanted to vent out! His body was about to start shaking in anger. He moved his eyes to Antonio, seeing him looking at the cover like he wanted to rip it made him want to cry. He could tell by the way Antonio looked at that magazine that... anyway, he didn't want to even think about it. Praveen had won against him and he needed to beat him. Ethan chuckled when he saw the look in Bruce's eyes and he had an idea. "You know, this is nice considering that it was your first photo shoot. I would say that you've..." He eyed Bruce, giving an evil grin when he saw him frown. "...done a lot compared to some of these models, even Antonio's photo isn't that hot." They all laughed except for Antonio who was still staring at the magazine, Bruce who was burning in anger and Andrea who was still shocked by the news of Praveen's photo shoot. The boy had guts and she knew it wasn't gonna be easy to do something to him. Antonio slowly opened the magazine and the first photo he saw inside made him feel cold and weak. In that picture, Santiago was seated on a classy office chair with a huge building behind him, dressed in a beautiful gray Designer's suit with his shirt half way buttoned and his jacket off but it was with Praveen who was holding it seductively in his hands. Praveen was wearing a black designer's skinny jean with a white shirt and yellow snickers and his hair tied in a braided ponytail. He looked like a true model, especially with his body language. He had his foot between Santiago's parted legs and then leaned down in a position that made him closer to Santiago's face. It was as if he was teasing him. Antonio had seen such a pose before but there was something about the way Praveen and Santiago took it that made his blood boil. They had a smile on their faces with Praveen pulling Santiago’s necktie. Office romance! Antonio couldn't believe what he was seeing. For the first time since his marriage to Praveen, he felt mad at seeing such a romantic photo of him with another man. It felt as if... he didn't even know how to explain it. His heart was racing beyond miles. He flipped through to the next page and he just got weaker. This time, Praveen was in front, pulling Santiago by his necktie with a brilliant smile on his face, slightly looking behind at the handsome man behind him who had one of his hands on his waist. Shit! Antonio clenched his fists, going to the other side of the page. This time Praveen was alone, dressed in a red designer’s shirt that was tucked in a white designer’s skinny jean that showed his gorgeous curves that almost looked feminine. He was standing in a place filled with flowers with the brightest smile Antonio had ever seen on him. His hair was being blown backwards, revealing his gorgeous face. It was almost as if Antonio had never seen him before. He couldn't believe that was the same boy standing right next to him. He slowly started passing his hands on that beautiful picture, a smile popping up his face but before he went far, he withdrew and then went to the next page. But he lost his cool when he saw Santiago holding Praveen as if he was about to fall, holding his waist tightly. Praveen was holding on tightly to the man's shirt, both of them looking into each other's eyes. Antonio closed the magazine and looked at the boy that was talking to his granny, his mother and Celine. He looked really different, smiling at the people he was talking to and were congratulating him. He had no expression on his face because he felt a little mad. "He's hot, isn't he?" Antonio heard a voice say to him. He looked passed his shoulder, seeing his friend with a smile. He chose to ignore him and just looked at Praveen, getting lost in him. Both of their eyes met but Praveen decided to look away and talk to the people he was talking to. Meanwhile, Bruce was still standing there feeling out of place. People in that fucking house hadn't given him attention like that when his and Antonio's magazine had come out a few hours back. They were acting as if Praveen was the first model to have ever appeared in a magazine. "Fuck!" He said under his breath. "This is absolutely amazing, Praveen." Granny said with a smile on her face. "Now I can see that my two sons are celebrities." "No, granny." Praveen shook his head, smiling brightly. "I only took this photo shoot because I felt like I had let the crew down. They had so expected to see me in magazine and they felt bad when I explained what had happened. I didn't do this because I wanted to be famous." "But you are." Ethan said, coming closer to him with his eyes on the phone. "The people online are demanding answers as to who the model in the picture is." He said, looking at Praveen with a bright smile on his face. "There are reporters right now at Santiago’s company and they demand answers." "What?" Andrea gasped, feeling extremely mad. "But that's impossible. Praveen knows nothing about modelling and besides, there is nothing good about that photo shoot. I still think Antonio and Bruce's is hotter." Everyone looked at Andrea in shock, wondering why she would say such a thing. She looked at them with her eyes moving from side to side, shrugging. "What? I am only saying the truth. All of you saw that Antonio and Bruce's magazine has been the highest rated magazine of their history in the few hours it came out. That to me seems like good modelling." Ethan shook his head and then just chuckled softly. "You think so?" He opened his palm, showing his phone to her. He was showing her the number of sales and views in just two hours after the release of the magazine. When her eyes landed on that phone, her mouth fell open as her eyes widened. She couldn't believe what she was seeing. Her heart instantly started pounding deep in her chest as anger and envy got the best of her. "This is impossible?" She shook her head. "I am sure those views and sales are all fake." She chuckled bitterly. "He's the owner of that company and can do anything just to..." "This is their official website, Andrea." Ethan was a little pissed by the way she answered. "Not everyone is narrow minded like..." "But it's impossible to sell..." "50,000 copies and 20 million views in 2 hours." He asked with a raised eyebrow. "This is possible and it's because when you're good, you're good." Andrea clenched her fists, looking away in anger. She could tell that Bruce was dying inside because of the way he was looking. There were a lot of things going on through his head. In his years as model, he had been getting more views. His pictures, magazines and commercials had been getting high sales than any other model in the industry but never had he reached such sales or views in just a few hours. Those usually took weeks for him to reach. He was so mad that an amateur like Praveen had dethroned him and that meant war. Antonio on the other hand felt as if the entire world had just fallen on his shoulders. He was looking at Praveen non-stop, getting angrier and jealous at the same time. He was supposed to take that photo shoot with Praveen that particular day and not some guy that had his hands all over him. His heart was racing in anger, his breaths coming out harshly. He couldn't control himself at all. He knew that being there and listening to his family members telling Praveen that he looked hot with another man made him mad. He knew he couldn't be there. He just turned and started leaving but he didn't even go far before he suddenly stopped and froze, his eyes widening. His mouth started shaking as his feet felt cold, his body reacting. Antonio was suddenly hit by strong emotions that pounded on him like heavy stones. His body started vibrating in anger, his fists getting clenched. He couldn't believe what he was seeing at all. The guy, the same guy that had taken photos with Praveen was standing right in front of him with a bright smile on his face. He was wearing a dark blue designer's shirt, green trouser and brown shoes with a black blazer. His hair was well combed and he looked handsome but Antonio didn't care. "Oh, hello." Santiago greeted the man that was staring at him like he was a ghost. "I am sorry to come in like this." He extended his hand to Antonio who just looked at it like it was made of thorns. "It's nice to finally meet you face to face, Antonio. I am a fan." Antonio gave a half smile, slowly shaking the man's hand. He didn't even say a word but deep down inside, he was so mad that he wanted to kill the guy in front of him. "Santiago!" Antonio heard Praveen's voice behind him. Praveen was really surprised when he saw Santiago in his house. He somehow felt uneasy and uncomfortable because everyone was inside that house and he didn't want things to go... anyway, just forget about it. "What are you doing here?" He asked, moving slowly to him. "I am so sorry." Santiago apologized, looking at the boy with a smile on his face. "I couldn't help but come to you because what you've just done is an achievement to my company. I had to come and see you myself. I just hope it's not too much trouble, otherwise, I could..." "No!" Granny said with a smile, coming closer. "Please, come in dear. You're most welcome." Santiago looked past Praveen and saw a beautiful elderly woman with a smile on her face. She reminded him of someone, his grandmother that he had lost a few years back. Seeing her, he couldn't help but smile brightly. "Thank you so much." Santiago said as he quickly rushed to the woman, touching her feet. "Please, just give me your blessings. I have been missing this for a long time, now. Please!" Everyone was in shock with what they show. Santiago looked like one of those modern men that didn't give a hoot about culture but what he did, pleading for blessings proved them all wrong. "Bless you." Granny touched his head with the brightest grin. "May you always be happy, son." He slowly got up, touching his head softly with a smile on his face. Granny cupped his cheeks, slowly rubbing them and right in front of everyone gave him a kiss on the cheek. "Fuck!" Okay that was it for Antonio. He didn't like the guy one bit. First, he had gotten a photo shoot with Praveen and now he was stealing his blessings? He was so pissed that he saw red. He was mad and he was having difficulties controlling himself. "I am sorry for coming in like this." Santiago apologized, putting his hands together. "I know this was your family moment but I couldn't help myself. After all the achievements that my company has made in just a day, I had to come here to thank all of you, especially you, Praveen." He turned and looked at him as if he was staring into his very soul. Praveen couldn't help but blush. "Our magazine has had more views and sales than I had expected. I am now receiving calls from various firms and media houses asking me about the model that I took a photo shoot with. They all want you as their model and they are offering all kinds of deals to me. The phones at the company are going crazy. There are reporters all over the company premises and they all just wanna know who this talented model is." "But I already told you that..." "I know Praveen." He gave a sigh, nodding his head. "I won't ever disclose your identity to them. But they shall have my head for this. What you've done is nothing that any model has ever done at my company. To be honest, I thought Antonio and Bruce appearing on the cover would yield more sales but that..." He chuckled happily, taking a deep breath. "...that was a shocker and I am glad I was in that picture with you. You're like the greatest model ever." Bruce's heart gave a sharp pinch, making his entire system feel as if it was poisoned. He clenched his fists harder, ready to snap but before he opened his mouth, he felt a hand grip his arm, stopping him from making a mistake. He looked past his shoulder and saw Andrea staring at him, shaking her head in disagreement to what he was thinking of doing at that particular moment. He breathed harshly, biting his bottom lip hard and swore that Praveen was gonna get it from him. He wasn't gonna just let it go like that. "Why are you guys talking like that while standing?" Emilia asked, raising her eyebrow. "Son," She smiled brightly at Santiago. "Why don't you come to the living room where we can all talk and enjoy this time we have?" "Sure!" Santiago nodded. Emilia led him to the living room and made him sit down on the couch. The entire family went there with the exception of Antonio and Ethan. While Antonio was looking at the guy, hating on him, Ethan on the other hand had been watching Antonio's reaction ever since Santiago had arrived. "Why do you look like that, dude?" Ethan whispered, wondering what was going on in his friend's mind. Antonio sighed, his eyes still glued on the handsome man. "There's something that I don't like about him." He groaned, clenching his fist. "What?" Ethan teased, slightly hitting his shoulder. "Is it because he had a photo shoot with Praveen?" "What?" Antonio looked at his friend, wide eyed. "Fuck, no!" His voice was filled with anger. "I had a photo shoot with the love of my life. What else can I ask for? I don't care about who Praveen takes a photo shoot with and if you think I am jealous then you're wrong." With those words, he rushed to the living room and sat on the couch with his legs crossed, his eyes still on the guy. Ethan on the other hand shook his head, laughed and went into the living room. He had no idea if it was his craziness but he could tell Antonio was jealous. "So son, what would you like to have?" Emilia asked, smiling brightly at him. "Oh no!" He shook his head. "I don't think that..." "You cannot come to the Gonzalez house and leave just like that." Granny shook her head. "I will have the maids make something for you." "No, mother," Praveen interrupted, getting up from the couch. "I will do it. After all, he is my guest." "But Praveen..." "No, granny." He smiled brightly. "Santiago came to see me so it's better if I serve him. I will be back." He quickly left the living room into the kitchen to make something quick. He just took some flour, made dough and started making some cookies for his guest which he was sure he was gonna love. He was still making the cookies when he looked towards the entrance and found Antonio entering with his eyes everywhere. Antonio slowly walked towards Praveen who was staring at him as if he had just seen a ghost. He looked away and continued what he was doing. Antonio wanted to talk to him, tell him to send the Santiago guy away but he didn't know where to start. Plus, he didn't want to talk to him but he also needed to get his attention somehow. Antonio slowly walked towards Praveen, clearing his throat. Praveen just looked at him once and continued making his cookies. He wasn't interested in what Antonio was trying to do or his trouble. Praveen put the cookies in the oven and got some ice from the fridge, putting them in a bowl. He was trying to get some cups but almost bumped into Antonio who was standing right there without saying anything. They looked at each other awkwardly and looked away. Antonio took an apple from the table and started eating it, leaning towards the table. He saw Praveen opening the fridge and then walked slowly to him. When Praveen closed the fridge to go back to the table, he just found himself staring into Antonio's beautiful eyes and he began drifting away. Antonio was staring at him as if he was telling to just stand down and remain immobile and that was what he did. He felt as if something had him glued where he stood. He was holding in his hands but he felt really weak in his knees. A shiver went down his spine to his brain, making his heart jump in his chest. His body felt hot and cold at the same time, making him feel as if he was standing in a really cold shower. Everything suddenly froze. It was just him and Antonio there. Antonio on the other hand had no idea what was happening to him. Looking into Praveen's eyes, his beautiful face and his sweet, pink lips got too much for him. Wait! Did he just say Praveen was beautiful? What was wrong with him, he thought as he tried to move away but he couldn't do it. For the first time ever, Antonio saw Praveen in a way he hadn't seen him before. He was wearing glasses but he was breathtakingly gorgeous and his coolness, his quietness was something that he couldn't understand. Sometimes Praveen was a little fierce but other time he was just quiet. With all those questions in his mind, Antonio didn't even realize how close he was getting to Praveen. His hands were slowly moving up to Praveen's face, probably to cup his cheeks. His breaths were getting a little harsh and his body, his feelings were vibrating, getting out of hand with each passing second. He was getting lost in those... "Antonio!" A voice got the both of them out of their thoughts, bringing them to reality. Antonio almost jumped up from where he stood. He quickly stood right in front of Praveen staring at the person in front of him with wide eyes. It was Celine and she had a smile on her face. She wasn't even talking but Antonio knew she was teasing them. Praveen on the other hand just dropped his eyes to the floor, looking like a shy bride. Who knew what Celine was thinking, he thought as he tried to hide his shaky hands. He knew Celine thought they were about to kiss but that wasn't the case. The idiot had just bumped into him. Why did he even look into his stupid face? "I am sorry to disturb you." Celine apologized, folding her arms. "But Antonio, you've got a guest in the living room. Mother and granny want you to go and entertain him." "Great!" He thought as he clenched his fists. Now he had to go and entertain the same guy he hated. "Of course," He smiled at her. "I just came to drink some water. I will leave." He quickly picked up his pace and let the kitchen questioning what he had just done. "I knew that something was up when he decided to follow you." Celine slightly pushed Praveen, making him raise his face. "I bet your husband has fallen deeper in love with you just by seeing that picture." "What?" Praveen gasped, rushing past her to his cookies. "It's not what you think, Celine. Antonio was just here for wa... "Yet, he couldn't even drink the same water he wanted." She teased, breathing in audibly. "Anyway, I won't say anything but it's good that your romance is starting to show. I will leave you to yourself now. Let me go and talk to Eduardo." She left and Praveen just remained standing there for a few minutes, thinking about what Celine had said. If only she knew how much Antonio hated him. What he didn't understand was the reason why no one in the house knew about Bruce and Antonio's relationship. Antonio had said that he loved Bruce and had been planning on marrying him. Shouldn't everyone have known about him, he thought rubbing on his chin? But it wasn't his business. As long as they stayed out of his way, everything was gonna be okay. He shook his head and went to check on his cookies. *** "Thank you so much for everything." Santiago said, getting up from the couch. "I had a good time and your cookies..." He looked at Praveen, gesturing to him. "...they were wonderful. I enjoyed them. You're so good at everything." Praveen blushed, dropping his eyes to the floor. Santiago had created a connection with everyone using his charm, good looks and his wonderful charisma. Everyone seemed to love him except for Bruce, Andrea and Antonio and of course, not forgetting the ever-rude Emma who was just seated quietly without uttering any word. "Yeah, that's what makes him our lucky charm." Granny said, wrapping her arm around him. "Ever since he came, our happiness has doubled. He is like an angel sent to us." Andrea rolled her eyes, feeling sick to the stomach. Bruce just stood there in rage. He had reached his limit because ever since the guy came, they had just been talking about Praveen. "Well, he is like my lucky charm too." He looked in his eyes, staring in them. Praveen was just there smiling. Santiago turned and faced Antonio, extending his hand to him. Antonio hesitantly shook the man's hand, trying his best to act cool. "You're a very lucky man, Antonio." Santiago said to him, powerfully shaking him. "And I say that not because you're a celebrity but because you've married a gem, a rare diamond and I must congratulate you for that." Antonio looked at Praveen and both lost their smiles. He sighed, forcing a smile at Santiago. "Yeah!" When Bruce heard that, he furiously turned and went upstairs with Andrea following right behind him. "Well..." Santiago breathed in deeply, his eyes at Praveen. "It was wonderful spending time with all of you. My day has been great and wonderful. I know you said you don't want your identity known for reasons best known to you but..." He paused and looked at all of them with a brilliant grin before looking at Praveen. "...can you please come to the office tomorrow?" He put his hands together. "It will be my pleasure to see you. Please!" Praveen remained stationary, not knowing what answer to give the handsome man. He was suddenly feeling speechless, scared and dumbstruck. He looked at granny and she raised her eyebrow, still smiling at him. He looked at Emilia and she too was smiling. He couldn't read what was on their mind. "Well..." "He'll be there." Granny said in a sweet voice. "Don't worry, son. After all, you two are already friends." Santiago felt a wave of bliss pass through his entire body, making him really excited. He breathed in deeply, smiling brightly at Praveen. Praveen gave him an equally bright smile, nodding his head. "I will do that." "Okay. Should I pick you up?" ‘What the fuck!’ Antonio thought, clenching his fists in anger which was building deep down inside of him. He felt something moving deep inside of him but he couldn't tell what it was. ‘This guy has nerves.’ "No! Don't worry." Praveen said. "I will be there." "Okay. I will leave." He put his hands together, slowly bowing his head. Then he left, leaving everyone waving at him. They could all feel his absence as he went, well, all except for Antonio who was still pissed at him for even thinking of coming to his house after all that he had done. He was gonna make him pay for it and that was what he was gonna do. "Wow!" Granny finally said, touching her cheeks. "He's such a well behaved, sweet man and so cultured. For a moment, I thought he was part of the family." "You're right, mother." Emilia agreed, shaking her head. "He's not like these spoilt rich kids nowadays. He's humble, well behaved and cultured." They laughed but Emma rolled her eyes. "Well, I don't think there is anything special. I still don't get why he even came here. He ruined our moment to celebrate our Antonio's victory." Granny looked furiously towards Emma, wondering what was suddenly wrong with her. She was in a bad mood. "What's that supposed to mean? You saw what he came here to do. He came to congratulate Praveen for a job well done. Their magazine went viral and he was happy. Is there anything wrong with that?" "My point exactly." Emma shrugged, chuckling evilly. "What was the point of coming here? It was a picture which he probably cheated everyone by thinking that it had gotten high sales. After all, it's his company and Praveen..." She pointed at him, making him feel uncomfortable. "...it was his first photo shoot and there was no way his picture would have sold more copies of the magazine compared to top celebrities like Antonio and Bruce. It's impossible." Hearing her answer, Emilia burst into laughter, making everyone look in her direction. "I am sorry for that but you sound as if you didn't see the magazine Praveen took. He looked nothing like any model or celebrity out there because..." She paused and looked at him, feeling at peace. "...because he's unique. The people loved him because he gave them everything they wanted, beauty, elegancy, body angle and language. What else could they want?" "There's a lot more to modelling than that, Emilia, dear." She gave a half smile, crossing her arms on her chest. "But you wouldn't understand that, would you?" Praveen felt hurt, really hurt. Even when he had done something for himself, Emma still did everything within her power to make him feel inferior. He just looked at the floor, trying to forget that she had said. He was feeling out of place, his heart pounding deep in his chest. But before things went out of hand, he felt little arms wrapping around his legs. He quickly looked and found little Ryan holding him tightly. Instantly, his heart started racing with pleasure and happiness. He had no idea why Ryan made him so happy. With a grin, he knelt down and took his little hands. "Ryan!" "I'm hungry." Ryan said in his little voice, drawing a small chuckle from Praveen. "I wanna eat." Praveen nodded and then opened his mouth to speak but before he did... "Ryan, my love, granny will prepare something for you." Emma said happily, looking down at her perfect grandson. "I know you like granny's food, don't you?" There was no way she was gonna allow her grandson to eat food made by Praveen. Never! Hearing her answer, Praveen lost the smile on his face, slowing looking up at Emma. Their eyes met and the moment he saw that look in her eyes, warning him to stay away from Ryan, he just looked away and then at Ryan, smiling at him. "Granny is right." He ruffled through his hair. "You should go with her. She'll make you food and..." "No!" Ryan said angrily, letting go of Praveen. "I want you to cook. I want to eat what you made me yesterday!" Everyone in the living room smiled brightly, feeling really happy except for Emma and Antonio. Emma couldn't believe her own ears. Her grandson had just rejected her food. She was so mad that she clenched her fists, biting her bottom lip. She felt like a vessel of anger. Her grandson, her own grandson had just rejected her proposal to make him food. "Ooh..." Granny moaned happily, touching her chest. "That's so sweet. Even little Ryan is in love with Praveen." "You're right, mother." Emilia agreed, nodding her head. "Who wouldn't love him? Praveen, dear?" She called, getting his attention. "Why don't you take him to the kitchen and fix something for him? He seems hungry." Praveen smiled brightly, nodding. "Yes!" He took little Ryan's hand and the two left for the kitchen. The entire family went to their rooms to rest after such a long and wonderful day but Emma remained standing there, wondering what had just happened? What was going, she thought as she looked in the direction of the kitchen? How could her grandson have slipped out of her hands like that when she thought she had him in her hands? It was impossible. "You've succeeded in turning my own lovely grandson against me, Praveen." She said, chuckling sinisterly. "Let's see how long you'll last in here. Whatever you're doing, better hold on to it tightly because I will hit you back... hard." She hissed and left for her room, walking like a model on the run way. *** "No!" Bruce screamed, gripping his hair and almost pulling it. "This can't be." Bruce's heart was on fire, feeling as if someone was about to fucking pull it out of his chest. It hurt so bad and his entire body felt hot as if he was in a sauna. He was sweaty, panting and raging. His hair was a mess... his face was a mess... damn, his whole mood was a mess now. His heart was pounding so deep in his chest, threatening to rip out. What had happened, he thought as he pulled on his hair hard. He was acting like a wounded bull, his eyes blood red. Veins had popped up in his head and he was ready to kill someone, anyone. "Fuck!" He grabbed a lamp from a small table, throwing it harshly to the floor. "No!" The lamp broke to pieces on the floor, scattering all over. Just then, Andrea came rushing inside, only to be met with the mess in her room. She couldn't believe what she was seeing. She rushed to him, gripped both his arms and shook him. "Are you crazy?" She raged, breathing harshly. "What do you think you are doing? Do you wanna get us both into trouble?" "I don't care!" He seethed, clenching his fists. "I am so mad right now that... that..." He pulled his arms free, bringing his fists closer to his face, staring at them like they had just disappeared. "...that I don't care about anything." "Well, this is my house and most especially my room, Bruce." Andrea said angrily, wondering why Bruce was acting crazy. "If you wanna scream, cry or turn the whole room upside down, I won't stop you. But you're gonna have to do that at your house. Do you understand?" She warned, pointing angrily at him. "Everyone is down stairs and they might hear your foolish commotion. Will you please calm down?" "Calm down?" Bruce censured, angrily shaking his head. "What the fuck do you want me to do when..." "I am telling you to..." "What?" He yelled in her face, clenching his fists even more. "What? You know that I worked so hard for..." He was visibly trembling, panicking. "I worked so hard to just... just to..." "Will you calm down?" Andrea snapped, smacking him hard across the face. Bruce felt a sharp pain on his face and he knew that Andrea had just slapped him. He held out his cheek, looking at her. Then he felt his nerves calming and he took in a deep breath, sitting on the bed with his fingers passing through his hair. "I just can't believe this is happening. I didn't see it coming." He was still angry but his voice wasn't high anymore. "I locked him up in that, that room to prevent him from taking a photo shoot but the little brat is smart. He's just shown me that he is smarter than..." "Calm down!" Andrea sat on the bed, rubbing his shoulders sweetly. "But look on the brighter side..." She shrugged, looking into his wet face. "...you and Antonio finally got to appear in the magazine as a couple and people went crazy. Your fans love you and..." "Until that stupid magazine came out!" He carped, his mouth shaking in anger. "Everything was perfectly fine until that stupid magazine showed up and that stupid man came here to rub salt in our wounds. Why is everything going so wrong, Andrea?" He looked at her, feeling defeated. "The more we try to get him out of this house, to destroy him, the stronger and fiercer he gets. I don't get it, Andrea." "Sweetheart, you don't need to worry about..." "Why shouldn't I be?" He growled, getting up from the bed. "I am getting worried. Did you..." He slowly turned, feeling as if his words were eating his insides before they came out. "Did I see what?" Andrea got up, raising her eyebrow. "Antonio!" He sighed, feeling tears started building in his eyes. "Did you see the way he looked at Praveen, how shocked he was? Did you see how he was looking at that man as if he wanted to kill him? Did you see how speechless he was?" "So? Everyone was surprised and..." "No, Andrea." He shook his head. "I am not mistaken because..." "If you're implying that my brother is in love with that boy then you surely don't know him." She laughed, folding her arms on her chest. "I have lived with him my entire life so I know him. He loves you and he was only shocked because none of us had expected that to happen." "But what if he..." "He feels nothing and you can't prove that because of some stupid magazine." She hissed, losing the smile on her face. She knew the magazine had been great but that was what was making her rage. She couldn't accept it. "It was nothing high fashion. The stupid guy probably just faked everything, maybe even photo shopped it. People are probably not even going online to view it. Your photo shoot was beauty, sexy and romantic. The crew even told you..." "But he also had a photo shoot. He looked really different in that shoot." He complained, fighting off his tears. "Even we couldn't recognize him until he said so himself. That also means that everyone saw him differently, including..." He paused, feeling his heart pounding deep in his chest. "...Antonio! But I won't allow that boy to seduce him. That's why I am confused." "What's there to be..." "Him!" Bruce yelled, stomping his foot on the floor. "What are we gonna do next because it seems everything we are doing, we are failing." "No, baby boy!" Andrea shook her head. "Right now, we need to do something stronger, something that when we strike..." She laughed sinisterly, smiling like an evil queen. "...we will be able to cripple him, make him weak..." She clenched her fists, bringing it closer to her chest. "...something that will bring him down once for all. We need to strike in such a way that even his supporters in this house will not be able to support him anymore. We need to make them throw him out of this house themselves." Bruce knew what Andrea meant but he was confused. "In case you haven't noticed, we have tried everything but something always happens in his favour." He frowned, raising his eyebrow. "How are we gonna do that or rather, what are we gonna do?" Andrea laughed like an evil villain, breathing in audibly while a lot of things went through her evil mind. "You see, sweetheart, that's what makes you and I different." She said in a sweet tone, rubbing on her seductive lips. "This is where my specialty will come in. We need to observe him and see his weakness, grab an opportunity that will make him look bad." "What?" Bruce gasped. "I don't think we can wait that..." "It doesn't mean we have to tolerate him." She lost her smile. "Just follow my lead and I promise you'll never be disappointed. That boy won't know what hit him. Before he even realizes it, he will be in too deep." "Hmm..." An evil grip appeared on Bruce's face. "That sounds good. I like that, Andrea. You really are a genius." "Just follow my lead, baby boy." Bruce grinned as the two of them laughed sinisterly. Their plans were gonna be successful. Now plan "get Praveen kicked out of the house." was now in action. *** Praveen got out of the bathroom, tying his hair which he had made into a braided ponytail. He was wearing a black designer's skinny jean, red shirt that was tucked in and blue snickers that he thought looked nice. Although he didn't like cologne, he had worn it so that he could smell nice that day. He came to the dressing mirror, took his wedding chain and placed it around his neck. After making sure that he was ready, he checked himself one last time before turning only to meet with Antonio's glaring eyes, piercing through him. Antonio was staring at Praveen, wondering why he was looking like that all of a sudden. It was not like he was in love with him but the truth was that he looked somehow, different from the way he had been seeing him the past few days. Praveen stared at Antonio, wondering why the guy was staring at him like that. He looked at himself, making sure he was fine before he went back to look at his husband. The crazy guy was probably trying to look for something to insult him about. He didn't have time. He picked up his phone and without saying anything started going away. "Where are you going?" Antonio asked, grabbing his arm. Praveen stopped in his tracks without even turning. "I am going to see Santiago. You're home today so I will save you the trouble of having a headache with me around. Now you can enjoy your day with Bruce." He tried to go away but Antonio was still holding his arm. "So, now you're friends or what?" Hearing his question, Praveen turned and looked at him, wondering why he would ask such a question. "For the first time, I have met someone that isn't arrogant but he's rich." He gave a half smile, wondering what the hell was going on in his husband's mind. "I wouldn't mind being friends with him at all. After all, the almighty likes such hearts." He let loose his arm from Antonio's grip and left the room quickly, leaving Antonio standing and looking like a lost soul. There was something really painful, something in his heart that he couldn't recognize. For some reason, he had a bad feeling about Praveen and Santiago meeting and becoming friends after releasing such a hot photo. He stared at the door as it shut, feeling as if his heart had also been shut down. He was supposed to be thinking about his boyfriend, how to please him and how to get rid of Praveen for good but his actions were now different. What was going on? *** Antonio was outside, leaning towards a pillar with a glass of wine in his hands, taking a little sip. He had been outside for over two hours, staring towards the gate, hoping he would see Praveen walk in and say something to him. Since Praveen had left early morning, Antonio's mood had been completely ruined. He had cancelled all his meetings and decided to stay in his room the entire day. He had his lunch with his family members but he wasn't active. Even when his boyfriend wanted to talk to him, he just brushed him off and told him he wasn't feeling well. Now here he was, outside, wondering what he was doing there in the first place. It was already getting dark and his heart was racing for some reason. He was mad, mad at something that he didn't want to think he was mad about. But he couldn't help it. He had even lost count of the number of alerts he had gotten about the hottest magazine in town. He was pissed. It was like Praveen and whoever the idiot was had suddenly become a couple under his nose. It was so damn annoying. "Honk!" Antonio's heart gave a sharp pound in his chest when he heard a car honking. He suddenly raised his face towards the gate, seeing it opening wide. It was one of his cars, indicating that Praveen had finally returned. He felt some kind of wave take control of him, making his breaths come out harshly. He gulped, gripping the glass harder, wondering why his mood had suddenly changed. Just when he was about to smile, something else happened that completely ruined his mood. It was a beautiful, light green, Porsche car, really expensive from the look of it. It was coming right behind his car. He didn't need to be a genius to know whose car it was. It was Santiago's car. He felt something move inside of him, making him gulp audibly. He clenched his fists, throwing the glass harshly to the floor. It broke into pieces and he just stood there without moving an inch. His car stopped at a distance from him and the car behind stopped too. It didn't take long before the idiot came out as if he was rushing somewhere. wait! He was rushing to open the other side of the door. He was dressed in a beautiful, green shirt that was folded at the sleeves and a black shiny trouser with white shoes. His shirt was half way done, revealing his pretty thick muscular chest that Antonio wanted to stab. He quickly opened the door as a smile lit up his face as if he was almost bowing his head, opening the door for someone he loved. Praveen came out and he was smiling brightly, chuckling loudly. Antonio could notice that Praveen was happy, happier than he had ever seen him before. "We are here." Santiago said happily, slightly closing the door. He leaned on the car, still smiling at Praveen. "I really had a good time with you, Praveen." Praveen took a deep breath and nodded. He had a good day, away from all the troubles Antonio, Bruce, Andrea and Emma would have caused him. He was just hoping they weren't gonna give him any trouble. But who was he kidding? He knew that once he stepped inside, trouble was gonna be back. "I also had a good time, Santiago." He confessed, folding his arms on his chest. "I never knew that rich men like you could be so good and..." "What do you mean rich men?" Santiago raised his eyebrow. "I'm sure you are used to this from your husband. He's rich, remember?" Praveen slightly lost his smile, nodding his head. "Yes! But aside from him, that is." "Well, this is me." He opened his arms, looking at himself. "If we don't help people who are poor, then who will? I like doing charity and that's why I am like this. My mother always told me to be good to people and then good people will always come to me. And she was right..." He slowly moved his hands and held one of Praveen's hands, rubbing on it sweetly. "...I have met such a sweet person, Praveen. Thank you so much." Praveen blushed, dropping his eyes to the ground. Where Antonio was standing, he clenched his fists harder as his jaws vibrated in anger. How dare Santiago touch Praveen, he thought as his entire body got engulfed in anger? "Well, I don't know about that but the almighty sends us people for a reason." He raised his face, looking into Santiago's eyes. "Your mother was right. I am sure she would have been proud of you. What am I even saying?" He chuckled, rubbing on Santiago's hand. "She's proud of you. After everything that I saw today when we visited your two orphanages, I am impressed. People love you so much and you're like a god to them. You've got everything." Praveen laughed, dropping his eyes to the ground. He had no idea that Santiago was staring at him with eyes of love. They had become so close that they had become friends after visiting the two orphanages. Praveen had become so emotional after seeing all those kids that wanted to be adopted. "Well, not quite everything." Santiago moaned as his heart started racing. "What?" Praveen raised his face to stare into Santiago's serious face. "Why do you say that? What would a man like you lack?" "Love!" He said in an emotional voice. "Antonio is a very lucky man to have found someone like you. I just hope that one day, I will find someone that will make me happy." "And why's that?" Praveen was now confused. "You're a very handsome man and you can have any woman you want." "But I haven't met the right person." He simply said, licking his lips. "Sometimes when you meet the one you want, you might find that person is taken. But I hope that mine won't be taken when I meet her. I always thought my mother would find a good woman for me." Praveen sighed gloomily, taking both of Santiago's hands. "I will be praying for you. The almighty shall give you a really good woman. I promise you, he will." Santiago smiled brightly, nodding. ‘If only you knew, Praveen. I just hope you'll be happy.’ He thought as his nerves got the best of him. ‘Your husband is one lucky bastard, I swear.’ He chuckled, letting go of Praveen's hands. "I gotta go now. I don't want to keep your family waiting." "Alright," Praveen sighed, smiling softly. "Are you sure though, you don't wanna come inside?" "No! Maybe later." "Bye!" They waved at each other and Santiago got into his car and drove off, waving at Praveen. Praveen waved back and watched as the car got out of his compound. He could feel that Santiago had really gone because he couldn't feel his presence. He gave a gloomy sigh, slowly turning and almost bumped into Antonio who was standing right in front of him with his arms folded. Their eyes locked and for some reason, Praveen felt a shiver run down his spine. He couldn't read Antonio's face... it was blank. "Welcome!" Antonio said harshly. "How did your day go? Did you enjoy the day with him and his crew telling you how cute you look together?" "Antonio, I..." "You left the house really early and you're coming back late." He chuckled bitterly, shaking his head. "You were smiling at each other as if..." "Antonio, please." Praveen sighed, rubbing on his head. "I am really tired and I need to go inside and rest. I have had a really long day and I just wanna..." "You've got to be kidding me." Antonio said harshly. "But who cares?" He shrugged. "You can do anything you want because it's your life. You can even move to his house if you wanted to. I don't care. After all, that would be good because I would finally get rid of you. I wonder what that guy even sees in you because you're a mess." Praveen felt as if his heart had just been ripped to pieces with Antonio's words. He felt a cold wind blow on his face, making his body feel colder than it was. He stared at Antonio, frozen and wondering why he had said that to him. He was supposed to be used but he it hurt like hell. "You know, I pity that guy because he is wasting his time with you." He said harshly, furiously dropping his hands. "If I were him, I wouldn't have even taken that photo with you. I wonder what even everyone saw when they saw that magazine. But guess they were just curious as to who had appeared in that magazine, beginner's luck. Very soon, that man will realize the mess he has gotten himself into and he'll abandon you." Tears started forming in Praveen's eyes as his pain increased, getting worse by the second. He had been really happy but now, he was so hurt that he wanted to run away and cry. But something had him frozen where he stood. It was too much. He was just staring at the man that said those painful words to him. "If I were him, I would start running away because you're a directionless car that's speeding." He gestured, chuckling bitterly. "Look at the mess you've made into my life and you only came recently. When will you realize that no matter what you do..." He chuckled bitterly, looking at the boy in tears. "...you'll never be able to reach that high status?" Praveen looked away as a tear went down his cheeks. He quickly rubbed it before he looked at Antonio, hating the man that he was looking at. When was he gonna finally accept that Praveen was also a human being who got hurt, he thought as he felt something move deep in him? "You might be used to using tricks to trap rich guys but... I don't think you'll always be successful." "Well, Antonio, not everyone is like you." He said confidently, feeling a bit angry. "I agree that my status is not like yours or Santiago's but some people see past that and one of them is Santiago. He associates with the poor..." He smiled, remembering how he had seen people at the orphanage happy. "...he likes to help and people love him. He is a good man and he doesn't care about status as long as other people are happy." Hearing what Praveen had just said, Antonio felt anger slipping through him fast. His adrenaline started moving in his body with so much pressure that he could feel it take effect. He clenched his fists hard, his jaws shaking in anger. "I am really tired and I don't want trouble. Excuse me!" He moved to the other side and walked past Antonio, leaving him standing there like a statue. Antonio's anger had gotten to another level. Sure, he had spoken to Praveen in anger but he hadn't expected him to defend the bastard. Antonio didn't understand what was happening to him or his mind. He was supposed to let Praveen do whatever that he wanted but he couldn't do it for some reason. He didn't even like the boy, right? He was in love with Bruce and he wanted to be with him, right? Then why was he acting like a jealous husband? He took a deep breath, sighed and followed Praveen into the house. Praveen entered the house with a bright smile on his face, trying to mask his pain. He was expecting to find granny and Emilia but got disappointed when he didn't find them in the living room. Normally, they were supposed to be in the living room talking or watching something. He lost the smile on his face, taking a gloomy sigh as he scanned the entire place. But to his disappointment, he couldn't see them anywhere. He took a turn to go to his room but something stopped him, a voice that sent shivers down his spine. "Are you looking for your favourite granny and mother in law?" A voice chuckled behind him. "Well, they are not here. They left." He took a gulp, slowly turning to find Emma looking at him with a smile which was full of mock. She was tying her hair in a ponytail, her entire face now in full view. His piercing brown eyes were now visible and Praveen couldn't help but get scared when she looked at him. It was as if she was killing him with her eyes. She was wearing a black dress, white slippers and had a phone in her hand. Seeing her, his heart started pounding deep in his chest. He was really praying for her not to give him trouble but who was he kidding? "Aunt, Emma...” "They left after waiting for you for hours but you never showed up." She said, not losing the smile on her face. "Why they've suddenly given you so much importance compared to other people in this house, I will never know." Praveen bit his top lip, trying to hide that he was scared. "Well, aunt, I don't understand what you're trying to say." Emma chuckled sinisterly, getting closer to him. She was eyeing him as if he was the most disgusting thing she had ever set her eyes on. He just made her soul really disgusted. "What I am trying to say is that I don't like you one bit." She snapped, furiously dropping her hands. "You are always up to something. First you stole my mother, my sister in law, got married to Antonio with your tricks and now you have managed to even turn my grandson against me. You were reluctant to take a photo with Antonio yet you just got romantic with another man on set." Praveen's mouth opened wide, a gasp escaping his throat. "What? No! It's not what you think." "And what am I thinking?" "I don't understand why you hate me so much, aunt." He asked. "I thought you said you wanted to give me a chance to prove myself. What had..." "That was before I knew exactly what you were up to." She hissed, making him take a step back. "Why would I take the risk of being one of your puppets? I will never accept you into this house or into Antonio's life and I am gonna personally enjoy seeing you leaving this house. If I were you, I would enjoy my time here because very soon..." She paused, giving him an evil grin. "...you'll be leaving us." "How do I show you that I never wanted this life?" "Oh please!" She rolled her eyes, shaking her head. "We both know that you're just a gold-digger who wants our money but not on my watch. You will never, ever get a dime because..." "I swear I didn't. I am just a victim here, aunt, I swear. If only I could turn back the time then I'd set everything right." "Of course, you know that's impossible. You've already made your way into our lives. But I don't blame you." She said harshly, breathing like a warrior on the battlefield. "I blame Emilia and mother for this. They knew what would have happened had I been here and no wonder they didn't tell me anything about this sham of a marriage. Had it been up to me, you wouldn't have even set your stupid eyes on him." Praveen couldn't say anything anymore. He just dropped his eyes to the floor. She was staring at him, enjoying seeing him at his weakest. He deserved everything and she was gonna make him suffer for it. When Praveen raised his face to stare into her face, it was walk away from there as quickly as he could. He was rushing towards the stairs that he didn't even know that Antonio was standing there, watching everything that had happened. Although he was mad at Praveen, there was something inside of him that made him hurt but he couldn't do anything. Praveen stopped in his tracks, staring into his husband's face. He just sighed and rushed up the stairs. Reaching the room, he went into the bathroom, locked the door and went to the mirror where he stared at his reflection, seeing tears going down his face. He just wanted to cry and let it all go. Meanwhile, outside the room, Antonio was standing near the bed, his eyes fixed on the bathroom. He didn't need to be a genius to know what was going on in the bathroom. He could tell that Praveen was crying after all the insults that his aunt had given him down the stairs. It felt really nice to insult Praveen and make him sad but what Antonio felt at that moment was something that he couldn't even understand or explain. Deep down, he was mad because of what had happened and how Praveen had almost insulted him outside the house. But he felt, well... he didn't even know what he felt. He went and sat on the bed then opened his tablet and went online to check out some of the trending things on social media, mostly his fan club. But the moment he just opened his browser, a picture popped up on his screen, an ad that made his blood boil. "The picture that has people questioning their romance." It was the same picture that Santiago and Praveen had taken, closer to each other. Seeing that picture, Antonio simply closed his tablet and threw it harder on the bed, feeling really angry. He groaned, clenching his fists as if he wanted to punch someone's stupid nose. His heart pounded so deep in his chest that he felt like he was gonna have a heart attack. It didn't take long before Praveen opened the door to the bathroom, coming out with a towel which he was using to wipe his face. He threw the towel on the chair before going to the mirror to check himself out. He had been crying but his eyes looked really fine. They were not red or swollen. That made him feel at least happy. He was still checking himself out before he heard his phone ringing. He got it out of his pocket and smiled when he saw who was calling. "Hey, Santiago." He chuckled happily. "Hey! I was just checking up on you. Are you okay?" Praveen smiled even brighter, nodding. "Yes! Thanks a lot for checking up on me. But you didn't have to. In fact, I was the one that was supposed to check up on you. You were the one that drove to your house and not me." Santiago laughed on the other end. "Well, I am fine. Maybe I just wanted to say goodnight and to thank you for making my day wonderful and special. Thank you so much." "You're welcome and goodnight." "Goodnight!" Praveen cut the call and went to the couch smiling as bright as ever. He was so tired that he just took his blanket and went to sleep on the couch without even realizing that Antonio was staring at him, his jaws shaking like they were about to come out. Antonio couldn't understand what was going with Praveen or with himself. He hated that Praveen was getting happiness from another man, someone that he had just met. He had expected him to be sad because of the insults that Emma had given him but he was now smiling. It was so... depressingly painful. He couldn't stay there anymore. With a final look at the boy, Antonio turned and stormed out of the room. *** "So, Praveen, how did your meeting with Santiago go yesterday? You kinda took longer than we had expected." Granny asked, looking at him with a smile. "I am sorry, granny that I took longer." He apologized, directing his gaze at her. "It's just that we went to visit some of his orphanages and foundations that I totally lost track of time. I am truly sorry." "Orphanages?" Emilia gasped, not masking the surprise in her voice. "That boy is something else. I knew there was something about him that I couldn't put my fingers on. He's just so..." "Perfect!" Granny finished the sentence, gesturing with her hands. "Nowadays, it is very difficult for rich people to be useful to society. Only a few rich kids do such things." "Yeah, and those few are the ones being constantly used by fraudsters," Emma commented, taking a sip of her juice. She had a mocking smile on. "Sometimes it is good to be tough so that some idiots can be sent to hell where they belong." Praveen felt those words hit him like a billion cold winds at the same time. He didn't need to be a genius to know that Emma was talking about him. He glanced at her and she gave him a sinister smile. "What do you think, Praveen?" "What's that supposed to mean?" Granny asked, a bit angry. "It is not wrong to do something good for some people. Not every rich person out there should be rude. Sometimes, we should all participate in charity works." She shook her head, diverting attention from her. She wanted to talk to Praveen again but she got worried when she found Antonio looking quiet. "Antonio, are you okay? You seem quiet. What's going on?" Antonio raised his face, giving his granny a half-smile. "I am alright. I was just thinking about something work-related. Don't worry." "Are you sure?" "Sure!" Everyone was seated at the table, having their breakfast in peace. Antonio was already dressed for work. He had a deep blue designer's slim fit suit on, a blood-red shirt inside, and black shoes on his feet that made him look sexy. His hair was just combed backward and his face was in full view. He was having his tea in peace, trying to forget about his troubles. Andrea was seated quietly and so was Bruce beside him whose gaze was Antonio. He could tell his boyfriend was not okay and it affected him so much. The previous day, Antonio had even refused to talk to him. He was scared because he didn't want to lose Antonio for anything in this world. Antonio was slipping away from him and he was gonna do everything to get him back. He hated Praveen and he was gonna deal with him for everything that he had done. "Alright," Granny sighed, taking the remote from the table. "Since everyone is busy having their breakfast, it's better to listen to some morning news." She turned on the big Television on the wall and started watching. "And now to Entertainment..." The beautiful lady dressed in white said on TV. "There's a magazine that has caught the attention of everyone out there and this particular magazine might just be the hottest magazine of the year." She said with a chuckle. "People everywhere are going crazy and not just in our country but most of the countries." Suddenly, a picture of the magazine appeared on the screen, catching everyone's attention. It was the picture of Praveen and Santiago in a hot photoshoot, one where Santiago had his hands on Praveen's waist while Praveen slightly looked behind with a brilliant, seductive smile. "This magazine has people asking and it's not just about the romance but the model in the magazine." She continued, now replaced by Praveen's picture alone. He was looking so hot that the look from the lady herself made everyone think she was flirting with the picture. "Who is he? Where is he from? How come no one has ever seen him before and yet some people are calling him the hottest male model to have ever appeared on the cover of the magazine?" Where Bruce was seated, he felt his heart rip in his chest. He stopped eating and held the folk harder as if he wanted it to snap. He could feel it starting to hurt his hand but he kept on applying pressure. He didn't care. "Everyone probably has a crush on him. The owner of the firm who took the photo by his side has refused to give information. Who knows..." She shrugged, opening her arms wider. "...just maybe we might find out about who this boy is. And for you fans out there... this picture... will be appearing on several billboards later today so better watch out. We are doing everything to find out who this boy is. Maybe Mr. Santiago..." She chuckled happily. "...just maybe he is not telling us because that's the love of his life. Who knows, maybe we might be hearing wedding bells soon." That was the breaking point for Antonio. He had been seated quietly without saying anything until the stupid lady said those words to him. His anger was now boiling over. He took a deep breath, furiously placed the cup on the table, making a terrible noise. Then he furiously got up and stormed out of the dining room, surprising everyone in there. "Antonio!" Emma called, getting up from the chair. "Baby, what's wrong?" But he was already gone and even if he heard her, he wouldn't have stopped. He felt as if someone had done something terrible to him, something that concerned his heart. His heart was pounding deep in his chest, adrenaline taking control of his body. "What's going on?" Eduardo asked, getting up from the chair. "He said he was alright, right? I will go and check upon him." He started going away but... "No!" Emilia shook her head. "Don't go there." "But mother," He stuttered, pointing towards the door. "...my brother is mad about something. I need to go and..." "Praveen will go and find out." The moment Praveen heard his name, he felt his heart miss a beat. He abruptly moved his face to Emilia, his mouth gaping at her. He couldn't believe she had just said that to him. He knew that Antonio was the last person he wanted to speak with or see at that particular time. "Me? Mother, I..." "Of course, he's your husband, dear." She smiled, squeezing his hand. "He's not feeling well and it's up to you to make him feel better. He's your husband and you should be responsible for making him feel better." "She's right." Granny agreed. "Go dear and find out what's wrong with him." Praveen looked at both granny and Emilia, taking a deep sigh. He felt fear starting to get to him. His breaths were starting to change and adrenaline started preying on him. "Yes!" He nodded, slowly getting up from the chair. When he got up, he saw Andrea and Bruce giving him cold looks but he didn't care. He had promised granny and Emilia that he was gonna talk to him. He walked out of the dining room and went upstairs. He didn't take long before he reached the door to Antonio and his room. He felt his nerves getting to him. But he held the knob and opened the door only to find Antonio throwing some papers on the bed. He stood still in the door what, watching what was going on. He had never seen him act like that. With a confident breath, he closed the door and slowly started walking towards his husband. Antonio on the other hand was so mad that he couldn't hide it anymore. He had never felt as much anger as he felt at that particular time. Not even when he had been forced into marriage did he feel the way he was feeling at that time. Damn! He didn't even know it was possible to be that angry. He didn't like the way he was feeling. "Antonio!" He heard Praveen's voice and he simply lost it. "What?" He said as he threw a document furiously on the bed, suddenly turning to face the boy. His eyes were red and it scared Praveen. "What the fuck do you want? Shouldn't you be watching the news about Santiago or something?" To say Praveen was surprised would be an understatement. Shocked was more like it. Antonio was speaking so coldly to him when he didn't do anything. "Well, granny and mother are worried and they..." "Granny, granny, granny, granny! I am fine!" He snarled, chuckling bitterly to himself. "I am fine." "You're not and everyone else is worried. Please..." "What the fuck is wrong with you?" Antonio yelled, his voice filling the entire room. "What the fuck is wrong with your brains? I told you I am fine so why should you keep on asking me stupid questions?" "I was..." "You're my problem in this house." He stomped his foot on the ground, scaring Praveen who took a step back. "Ever since you came here, you've been giving me problems. Is it not enough that I have to tolerate seeing your stupid self in this house? Do you always have to find ways to ruin my mood every day?" Praveen was still confused. The frown on his head kept on getting bigger and bigger. He had no idea what Antonio was mad at him for. He hadn't done anything. "But..." "Are you not ashamed of yourself, Praveen?" Antonio snapped, shaking his head in anger. His breaths were harsh and scary. "Look at yourself and tell me. You have a fucking wedding ring on your fucking wedding finger." He yelled at the top of his voice. He didn't care who heard. "You even have a fucking wedding chain around your neck. You are fucking married and yet..." He chuckled bitterly, pointing angrily at the boy. "...you are not even ashamed to take a photoshoot with another man. Did you even think about what would happen if..." "Excuse me?" Praveen frowned, his mouth shaking me. "Are you blaming for this? I thought you didn't care about who I had a photoshoot with and besides, I already explained the situation to you and you..." "What the fuck!" Antonio angrily gripped the papers on the bed, throwing them to the floor. Praveen's eyes widened as he realized just how angry Antonio was. "What the fuck are you talking about? You and I were supposed to have a photoshoot together that day. It was supposed to be you and I but I should have realized what you were up to." "Antonio..." "Shut up!" He carped, pointing his shaky finger at Praveen. "How could I have been so stupid?" He chuckled. "You are out to ruin me. That day..." He hit his head furiously. "...that day you were reluctant to have a photoshoot and you... you told me that you would have a photoshoot with someone else. This was a plan to make me look bad in front of the family." "What?" Praveen shuddered, taking a step behind. "I already told you that I got locked up in a room by..." "Isn't it enough that I have to put up with you?" He seethed, clenching his fists. He had no idea why he was just so angry. "You are fucking married and yet you were acting like a whore with another man. That's what everyone is seeing, everyone else but you. But let me make you understand this." He warned the boy that looked like he saw a ghost. "Antonio, please, try to calm down. It's not a big deal. After all, you had a hot photoshoot with Bruce and you enjoyed it too. Why should it be..." Before Praveen could even finish his sentence, Antonio gripped his arms harder, painfully and slammed him into a wall, pinning him there. Praveen winced as pain slipped through his entire system. He took a deep harsh breath, his heart racing beyond miles. Tears formed in his eyes as he looked at the man that held him painfully. "Listen to me and listen very well..." Antonio warned, adding pressure to the boy's arms. "...you are married to me and I will never watch you embarrass me out there. You wanted this marriage, didn't you?" Praveen was trying to let himself loose but all did was inflict more pain on himself. He winced as he felt his arms burning painfully. "Please, you are hurting... me, Antonio." He pleaded, his voice barely above a whisper. "Please, I... I..." "And what did you think?" He chuckled bitterly, enjoying the look of pain on the boy's face. "Just because you and I are in this for obvious reasons that I am gonna allow you to make a fool out of me or this family? You chose to get married to me and you are a married man, you idiot. You should act like one instead of acting like a whore on the cover of the magazine." Praveen moved his eyes away as a tear went down his cheek. "Please..." "You talk about values. What happened to those stupid values that you talk about?" He growled, getting closer to the boy's face. "Did you suddenly lose them, your mother's teachings?" "I didn't mean to take that shoot," Praveen said in a voice of pain. He felt as if his veins were bursting in his arms. "I... I was..." "You were what? You wanted to compete with me and Bruce?" He answered acidly, breathing on the boy's face. It felt so hot that Praveen felt more pain. "What he and I share is unique and I had every right to do it but you..." He laughed in his face. "...you don't have such freedom because you lost it the day that you decided to enter my life and this very house so you better think twice before you even do anything stupid, otherwise, you'll be very sorry. Right now, you are carrying my name and as long as you have that name, you belong to me." He pointed at himself. "I own you, Praveen." More tears went down Praveen's face. "I am your husband and I was supposed to appear in that photo." He snapped angrily, gripping his arms harder. "It shouldn't have been that bastard. You better be careful. Do you hear that?" "But..." "Do you hear that?" "Ouch!" He cried, nodding his head. "Yes! I will. Just please, let me go. You're hurting me." Antonio pulled the boy closer to himself with one hand, looking into his face. He didn't like what he was doing but jealous had gotten to him so much that he couldn't get to control himself. He felt he owned Praveen and nothing was gonna change that. "You are mine!" He furiously let go of Praveen, leaving him falling to the floor with a thud. He looked at the boy one last time and stormed out of the room, shutting the door with a bang. Praveen remained on the floor, wincing and rubbing on his arms. He slowly raised his sleeves and saw the red marks Antonio had left on his arms. He slowly rubbed his face as he continued rubbing his arms. They hurt like hell and he felt really weak. He had no idea why Antonio had acted like that with him, something that he had never done before. He was acting like, like a jealous husband. But why, he thought as he remained on the floor, looking at the mess Antonio had left in the room. What was he gonna do? *** "I think that would be a great idea." Andrea smiled brightly, looking at her mother with a smile. "Antonio's new music will be released very soon. I think a great concert after that would be a great idea." She stared at her friend then. "What do you think?" "I think it is a great idea." Bruce just wanted what was best for his boyfriend. "I am pretty sure he'll be happy too." "Then it's settled." Emma clapped, breathing in deeply. "We'll be attending our Antonio's concert after so long. I can't wait." "And it will be his first after his marriage." Granny pointed out, smiling at everyone. "There is..." Before she could even finish her sentence, she got the greatest shock of the morning when she looked towards the stairs. It was Antonio and he was coming down, looking a mess. His shirt was almost wrinkled... it was halfway buttoned up and he was removing the necktie. To her surprise, he angrily removed it and threw it hard on the floor, whispering something that she couldn't hear. His hair was a big mess and so was his face. He furiously came down the stairs and started heading towards the door, now getting the attention of everyone. They were so shocked that they all just stood and watched the venting man. "Antonio, what's wrong?" Emilia asked. But all he did was ignore her. "Baby, what's going on?" But he didn't even bother to look at her. He just stormed out of the house and drove off. Everybody else was just standing there looking lost and puzzled. All of them had noticed that something had changed with Antonio ever since the magazine had gotten out. "What's wrong with my son?" Emilia asked as she rubbed her forehead, taking a deep breath. "I can't even understand him." "I think I might know the reason, mother." A voice suddenly spoke, getting the attention of everyone. They all looked in the direction of the voice and saw Celine standing there, rubbing her hands together. "Well, I didn't need to hear their conversation but..." She paused and remained quiet. "Celine?" Granny walked to her, standing right in front of her. She was worried because the look on Celine's face was not promising for any good news. "Tell me, what's going on? Why do you look as if you just saw a ghost?" "Because... because..." She stuttered, gulping. "...I..." "Will you please say it?" Emilia said angrily. "Can you tell us what happened?" "Well, mother, I was passing by their room when I heard Antonio's voice. It seemed he was... he was..." He paused and took a deep breath. "...he was really angry at Praveen." "What?" Granny gasped, feeling a sharp pound in her chest. "He was angry at Praveen? Why?" "I don't know but I think this has to do something with the magazine that Praveen took with Santiago." She said abruptly, looking at everyone. "I think he is jealous because he was shouting at Praveen in the room." Andrea and Bruce looked at each other in shock, wondering what Celine was talking about. "That's impossible." Andrea chuckled in shock, shaking her head. "I think you've got this entire thing wrong? You must have heard something else. Antonio, jealous?" She laughed, gesturing to everyone. "Does she even know what she's talking about?" "I am serious!" Celine slightly raised her voice, watching as the smile on Andrea's face disappeared. "He was shouting and telling Praveen that he shouldn't have taken that picture when he very well knew that they were married. I swear. You can ask Praveen if you want." Where Bruce was standing, he felt fear take control of him. He wanted to believe that what she was saying was impossible. He wanted to believe that because Antonio loved him so much. There was no way he'd be jealous when they'd taken a hot photo together. He felt as if his heart was about to stop beating. "Oh my God," Emilia gasped, covering her mouth. "Why would Antonio do that? I thought he understood what was happening? I just hope..." She moved and looked at granny with a worried look on her face. "...he hasn't done anything to Praveen?" Granny was extremely worried. She hadn't expected her grandson to act like that with Praveen. "I hope so too. Why would he act like that when their marriage is new? What was he thinking? That boy isn't used to him and he's already making things worse." Emma's mouth fell open as she shook her head, wondering what they were all talking about. "Are you being serious, right now, mother?" She chuckled bitterly, shaking her head. "You can't even consider your grandson's feelings and you are now considering someone else's feelings?" Granny furiously moved her face, staring angrily at her daughter. "Well, I don't care about his feelings. Praveen is the son-in-law of this house and as such, he deserves more respect from everyone including Antonio. He too took a photo with Bruce..." He pointed at Bruce, making him feel uncomfortable. "...but Praveen didn't even complain although they shouldn't have taken that picture in the first place. So why should it be a problem for him? He's got a lot of explaining to do." She hissed and looked at Emilia who was still worried. "Please, go and check up on him and make sure he's okay." Emilia nodded. "Yes!" She took a deep breath and started rushing towards the stairs, her heart racing. She was hoping that Praveen was alright. She prayed deep in her heart that Antonio hadn't done anything to hurt him otherwise she was gonna forget that he was her son. She started heading up the stairs but only took one step before she noticed Praveen coming down the stairs with his face down. She stopped and just stared at him from head to toe, examining to see that her son hadn't hurt him. She felt at peace, breathing in deeply when she saw that he was alright. Meanwhile, Praveen's mind was in the room where he had just left. He had arranged the papers that Antonio had thrown, washed his face, and attended to his bruises before making sure that he was heading down the stairs. He just prayed that none of the family members had heard the entire commotion that had happened in the room. "Praveen!" Praveen froze when he heard a sweet voice calling him from down. He quickly raised his face to find his mother in law looking up at him without any smile on her face. Just her look made him feel cold and scared. Could she have known, he thought as he brightened up his face and smiled? "Mother?" He started coming down the stairs. Each step he took closer to her made him nervous. "Are you alright?" She asked with concern in her voice. "Err... yes." He lied. He reached her and she held his hands, leading him to the living room where everyone looked at him as if he had just grown another head. He moved his eyes, looking at everyone. Bruce just rolled his eyes and folded his arms on his chest. "Son? Why did Antonio come down looking like that? Are you alright?" Granny asked, holding his hands sweetly in hers. "Please, tell me you're alright?" "Granny... I..." He paused and nodded. "I am alright. Well," He was thinking of a lie because he didn't want them to be sad. "He... he just had a lot of things to do at work and the reason why he looked upset is that they were messing up with his head. I am sure that he will be alright." He kept a bright smile although deep down inside, his heart was telling him that he had done something terrible by lying. But he had to do it. "Are you sure?" Granny raised her eyebrow, seeing through him. She could tell he was lying. "Is that the reason he stormed out of here looking like he hasn't slept in days? Did he hurt you or something?" "No, granny." He shook his head abruptly, rubbing on his arms. He was just hoping no one was gonna know his arms were bruised. "He didn't hurt me. He was just mad because of office work which has become too much plus his music. I am sure he went to get some air. He will be back soon." Emilia and granny looked at each other. Emilia was just so worried that her son had made her son in law lie. "But Praveen, Celine..." "Praveen dear, why don't you go and make some tea and snacks for me?" Granny interjected before Emilia could finish her sentence. "I am craving for those wonderful snacks of yours." Hearing granny's question, Praveen simply smiled and nodded. "Sure, granny. I will make them for everyone." He slowly bowed his head and started heading to the kitchen. The moment he turned his back to everyone, he lost the smile on his face and got lost in his thoughts again. He was really worried, scared, and emotional. Antonio had never warned him like that and although he was such a jerk, he couldn't help but worry about him. Emilia and everyone watched as Praveen disappeared into the kitchen. "But mother..." "I know, Emilia." Granny gave a gloomy sigh. "I know exactly what you want to say. I know he was lying but I am just so happy and sad at the same time. I am happy because... no matter what would have happened, Antonio wouldn't have found such a boy in his entire life. On the other hand, I am sad because Praveen lied to protect his husband while he's hurting inside." "I have observed that mother, but why did you just let it go like that?" "Because... because Praveen is unique." Granny smiled brightly, her eyes still glued on the door where he had disappeared on. "I had expected him to tell his husband off but he didn't do it. Where can we find someone as perfect as him?" "You're right, granny." Celine sighed relief. "I honestly think that Antonio wouldn't have found himself a jewel as precious as him. But it's all thanks to the almighty that you brought Praveen in his life. I just pray that they fall deeper in love with each other." Celine's statement made Bruce so angry that he couldn't even stay there. He just turned and left the living room, looking like an evil warrior. He had had enough of Praveen in the house and he was gonna make him pay for it. "They will. But not until Antonio gets it from me." Granny said angrily, losing the smile on his face. "This is foolish. Who gave him the right to shout at Praveen? The boy and he are yet to get closer and yet he wants to make things awkward. I will talk to him and he'll find me waiting right here." She turned and went to the living room, leaving everyone looking puzzled and a little upset about different things. Ever since Praveen had come into the house, people had noticed that granny had changed. She was... happier and livelier than she had ever been. Some people thought it was for the best while others like Emma thought it was bad. *** Praveen was busy kneading the dough to make one of his special cookies for granny and everyone else that needed them. He was kneading slowly, trying to make it smooth but he was so lost deep in his thoughts that he wasn't even aware of his environment. His mind was already back in the room and he could hear Antonio's angry voice and the powerful grip that he had held him with. Thinking about what had happened, Praveen felt his heart getting heavy and restless. His breaths were becoming a little harsh and his body a little cold. He couldn't even think properly because he was scared and really worried. "Why did Antonio react like that with me?" He thought, frowning as he got more confused. "It's not like he cares about me or anything. He doesn't even own me. How long shall I continue living like I am his toy? It's not like he even likes me or I like him. I..." "You!" Before Praveen could even finish his thoughts, he heard an angry voice on his side and he stopped what he was doing and stood still without even looking at the person. He was already having problems as it was and he didn't want any more. The most annoying thing was that he started getting angry the moment he heard that voice. "I don't know what game you're playing but I won't let you succeed," Bruce said angrily, pointing at Praveen. "If I were you, I would leave this house early. I told you that I can be aggressive when people mess with me or anything that I own. I can attack from anywhere so you better know where you step because you might yourself in a pit." Praveen slowly moved his face and looked at the man that was scaring him or rather threatening him. He could tell from the frown on his face, the anger in his eyes, and the way he was harshly breathing that he was in a rage. "Why?" He smiled mockingly, raising his eyebrows. "Do you see anything that makes you feel that way?" "Don't play coy with me." Bruce yelled, feeling as if he could kill the boy. "I know what you are doing and I will not let you succeed. You are trying to seduce Antonio so that he can sleep with you and..." "Even if I am, how is that your business?" Praveen lost the smile on his face. "I am not interested in what you or anyone else thinks because I know myself. I am married to Antonio and it's normal for married couples to sleep with each other, don't you think?" "How dare..." "Lower your voice. This isn't your house, Bruce." Praveen had lost his cool. He felt he needed to put Bruce in his place. "I might not be welcome here by some people but at least I know how to behave and I am not a voice. If I was you, I would be really careful because I don't know when I will still be here. And what did you think?" He chuckled bitterly, rolling his eyes. "That you were just gonna come here and scare me and I would be scared?" "Praveen..." He pointed angrily, his mouth shaking. "And what did you say?" He chuckled, remembering what Bruce had said. "That no matter what I do, I will never be like you? Well, you're right Bruce, I will never be like you because I am more than you right now. People don't even know who I am and yet they consider me one of the best models alive. They need to see me more. You took a picture with your boyfriend and you had your time but alone, I topped the charts in few hours." Bruce felt as if Praveen had just ripped a part of his heart and it hurt like hell. He felt as if his heart was about to break out of his chest. He felt a wave of anger take control of his entire body, making him vibrate in anger. He clenched his fists and then breathing in angrily, his eyes widening. He was just so angry. "Praveen, I will not..." "I have a lot of things to do and a lot of things to think about." He put his hands together, pleading with the idiot. "Can you leave me alone now? I don't have time for you." "You will pay for this, Praveen." He swore, shaking his head. "I swear to you." With those words, Bruce turned and stormed out of the kitchen, leaving Praveen alone. Praveen sighed, taking a deep breath. He then shook his head, wondering why he had talked to Bruce like that but he had just been so angry. Anyway, Bruce deserved it for provoking him. He continued what he was doing and got lost deep in his thoughts again. *** Antonio entered the huge mansion, slowly unbuttoning his shirt. He was sweaty, stinky, and pissed. Throughout the day, he had been really mad. He had gone to the office, snapped at every little thing at the employees, and angrily walked out of a meeting. Everyone at the office had probably been really worried because they knew their boss as a wonderful and carefree guy. They knew that something had happened to him so they understood him. It was almost 10 PM and he had been hungry the entire day. He hadn't had any food because he had lost his appetite. He had tried... he had tried to make himself calm and find a reason why he was angry but he couldn't do it. His anger was still there. Antonio was still going inside when he heard someone clapping, making him stop. He quickly froze, moving his eyes in front and found granny clapping, coming closer to him with a smile on her face. She was with his mother and his brother and Emma were also there. He tried to smile but it failed. He had no idea why his granny was doing that. "Welcome!" Granny clapped even harder. "You're welcome, Mr. Antonio Gonzalez. How was your day?" Antonio got confused with the tone his granny used. She sounded rather mad, something that he hadn't heard from her in a long time. "Granny, I am sorry, I just... I had a lot of things to do and..." "Wow, Antonio!" Granny smiled brighter, standing in front of him. Then she did something that surprised and scared him too. She lost her smile and gave him the most serious angry face he had ever seen from her. "Just wow!" She clapped again. "I am proud of you. Superb! You're a great man. I am proud." "Granny... I... what's going on?" "What's going on?" She laughed, looking at Emilia who was also serious. "What's going is that I don't like your behavior, Antonio." She snapped, breathing in deeply. "How dare you do what you did this morning? What gave you the right to try and hurt Praveen?" Antonio's heart gave a sharp pound in his chest, fear taking a hold of him. He's never heard granny speak to him like that and it kinda got him scared. His fear melted at that moment as he stood still, looking at granny wide-eyed. "Who do you think you are, Antonio?" "Granny, I... I..." "Can't talk now? You surely had a lot to say before you left." She yelled, angrily pointing at him. "You had a photoshoot with someone else and I never heard him complain. What went wrong with Praveen having a shoot with Santiago? Did they do anything wrong?" Antonio became dumbfounded, feeling as if he had been busted. He had no idea that people had known what had happened. Why wouldn't they? After all, Praveen had such a big mouth. He got angry with the realization that Praveen had told everyone on him. What was his boyfriend going to think now, he thought as he got raged? "Granny, you've got this all wrong, I swear." He shook his head. "I never had a problem with..." "And now he's become a liar." She laughed bitterly. "Is this how we raised you, Antonio? This is what's wrong with you kids of nowadays. You think it's okay for you to do things that make you happy but let your spouse do it and you become monsters. That boy has only been in this house for a short while. He is yet to get used to you and look what you did. I have always tolerated you doing anything you want but I won't allow you to hurt that boy, Antonio." "What, no!" He tried to get closer to granny but she moved back. "You are just misunderstanding this. If this is what he told you then..." "Praveen never said anything, Antonio." Emilia finally spoke, looking at him as if he had committed an abomination. "He was even trying to lie for you. We know because someone heard you, Antonio. What are you trying to become." "But mother, why are you not listening to what I am saying? I am your son." "And Praveen is my son-in-law, Antonio. You're his husband and I am only looking out for his best interest. You're gonna go upstairs, apologize to that boy for your behavior and make things right again." "But..." "Antonio, that's not a request." She spoke softly, taking a sigh. "It's an order. Go upstairs and apologize to him right now." Antonio moved his face angrily, clenching his fists. He had never been so humiliated in his life before. It was painful. His anger, hatred, and pain came crawling right there. He could feel it about to overflow. He couldn't believe his mother and granny had just talked to him like that. It was like he had suddenly lost them. He promised to make the boy pay. "Didn't you hear what I said?" Emilia seethed. "Go up there and apologize now." Antonio groaned, looked at all of them, and quickly turned, rushing up the stairs. The more he climbed, the more he got angry until it started overflowing. By the time he reached his floor, he was dripping wet with sweat, breathing like an evil warrior. He was seeing ready as his anger got intense. Reaching his room, he furiously opened the door and found the boy folding some clothes on the bed, his clothes. He entered the room, furiously banging the door behind him. Meanwhile, Praveen felt his heart pound when he heard the door bang. He moved his face up only to meet with a furious, red-eyed Antonio coming to him. Seeing him, he got really scared but he knew he couldn't be weak. Maybe Antonio wasn't even coming towards him, he hoped. He quickly took some of the clothes he had been folding and started rushing to the closet. He didn't even walk far before he bumped into something, a body. It was Antonio and it got him scared. "What the hell did you tell my parents?" Antonio yelled, gripping the arms of the boy. Praveen felt weak, letting go of the clothes he was holding. They fell to the floor, on both of their feet. He shook his head, wondering what Antonio was talking about. He had a powerful grip on his arm that the bruises started hurting again. "Antonio..." "Fuck, when the hell will you stop playing these games?" He yelled, not caring that anyone could hear him. "When the hell will you stop turning everyone against me?" "Antonio..." "Shut up!" Antonio pulled Praveen, slamming him to the wall. "I hate you so much because you've made my life miserable." He snapped, shaking his head. "I hate you so much because you've turned my special life into a nightmare ever since you came here. Can't I have some peace?" Praveen moved his face away as he tried to fight his tears. Out of nowhere, the windows to the room burst open, letting in a really strong wind. Praveen could feel it blowing on his beautiful face, making his tears feel cold. His hair started blowing uncontrollably backward. "Until when will you stop turning my family against me?" He seethed, applying pressure on his arms. He slowly started moving his hands down, towards Praveen's hands. He felt something harder on Praveen's hand, probably a bangle but he didn't care. "I didn't tell anyone anything, Antonio, I swear." He said with a tear following. He was just so scared. "I... I didn't say anything and I am not doing anything to your family. You know that. Please, let me go... you... you are hurting." "Hurting you?" Antonio chuckled sinisterly, getting closer to the boy as his grip got harder. "You think I wanna hurt you? I hate you so much. I wanna torture you, Praveen. I wanna make you regret ever getting married to me or coming to this house. You are gonna pay for everything." He tried to apply more pressure but felt something snap in his hand, something that made him stop what he was doing. Before he could even do anything, he felt the boy wince softly and nimble in a painful groan. He quickly moved his eyes to his hand and found that Praveen's bangle had broken and that wasn't all. It had broken into pieces and Praveen's wrist was hurt but not that much. He was bleeding. Seeing Praveen's blood, Antonio's anger melted away, replaced by fear. He felt terrible when he saw that he had hurt him. "Fuck!" What had he just done, he thought as he slowly moved his hand, letting the pieces of the bangle fall to the floor? His eyes were on Praveen's wrist. It was just two tiny cuts but the boy was still bleeding. Shit! He felt like an asshole, an animal. That was when granny's words came to him. If she ever found out that he had hurt the boy, he didn't even know what she was gonna do to him. He was scared. Praveen on the other hand slowly moved his other hand to his wrist, trying to hide his pain. He slowly opened his eyes and got surprised by what he saw. He could see fear, regret, and pain in Antonio's face. Just what was going on he thought, as a tear went down his cheeks? He had no idea why Antonio was causing such pain to him. "I... I... I..." Antonio's voice was cutting. He didn't know what to do. "I didn't mean to hurt you, I... I swear. I didn't." But Praveen just stared at his husband without even saying anything. He was in pain but somehow, he was more concerned about Antonio than he was about himself. He knew the man was going through something. Why the hell would he hurt him like that? "I..." Antonio quickly rushed out of the room, closing the door behind him. He quickly ran to the terrace and just sat there, wondering what the hell was going on with him. Even though he hated Praveen, he didn't need to hurt him like that. Wait! Was that the reason why he was even acting like an animal? He could feel all kinds of emotions building up inside of him, something that he had never felt before. What was going on? Meanwhile, in the room, Praveen was still standing there, looking at the door where Antonio had disappeared, wondering what was going on through his head. He could tell that it was more than the hatred that Antonio said he had for him. He had never hurt him that way before. What was happening to his life? *** Since that night, everything changed for Praveen and Antonio. Antonio started avoiding Praveen even talking to him. They just passed each other like strangers who had never met before. Maybe even strangers even greeted at times but things were awkward. Antonio pretended to be happy when he was with his family, smiling and talking to them but he wasn't fooling anyone. Granny and Emilia could tell that nothing was the same anymore. His mood was always foul, especially when Praveen went out or Santiago called Praveen or even came to see him. Praveen was getting affected by what was happening. He had a feeling of emptiness inside of him, something was missing but he had no idea what it was. He could see Antonio and Andrea talking, laughing, and at times with Bruce but the man was still not happy. Praveen had never thought that he would miss talking to Antonio. Thanks to long sleeves, no one had noticed his cut on the hand or the bruises that were on his wrists. Whenever granny or anyone asked him how the relationship with his husband was, he always came up with an excuse that they were all fine. Although, Ethan had talked to him at one time and he had told him what was going on. Ethan had told him that his friend was probably just jealous but he had just laughed it out. Antonio would never be jealous because he had Bruce by his side and they spent time together, in fact, more than that time. As for Bruce, he was trying all he could to deny that his hunch was wrong. No wonder, he did everything he could to make his boyfriend happy and forget that there was Praveen. But something about Antonio was making him mad although he never snapped or demanded answers. After all, he didn't wanna argue with him or get to hear something he didn't wanna hear. So he kept his cool but he needed to find a permanent solution to his solution, something that would bind Antonio to him. *** 5 days later * "Are you crazy?" Antonio fumed, angrily getting up from the bed. "Why would you even ask me that? Did you think about this carefully before..." "Yes, I did, Antonio!" Bruce yelled, following Antonio behind. He gripped his arm harder, pulling him back. Their faces were now close. "I love you so much, Antonio, and my life revolves around you." "I love you too," Antonio said, pulling his arm away. "But I can't do what you are asking me to do. Did you call to your hotel because of this?" "Yes!" Bruce said, tears building in his eyes. "This is truly important. I wanna be yours forever, please, don't deny me this. What would connect us more than this?" "Love!" Antonio yelled in Bruce's face. "Isn't it enough that we are in love?" "I didn't say that." "Then what are you insinuating?" He asked, feeling angry. "What else do you still want me to do?" "Antonio, please..." "No, tell me." He chuckled bitterly. "I am a married man, at least, to everyone including my family. What do you think they'll do when they find out about this? They don't even know about us and you want me to do this. No!" "They won't know. I just wanna have..." "No!" He tried to move but Bruce pulled him back. "What?" "I love you and I just wanna carry your baby inside me." He furiously raised a note. "Male pregnancy has been tested and it has been approved, Antonio. I went to see one of the doctors and..." "Why would you even do that, Bruce?" Antonio was really angry. "Did you think about the consequences of this? Did you ask me or you just thought about your own selfish needs? Did you think about the problems that..." "I don't care. I just wanna have your baby, Antonio." He cupped his boyfriend's cheeks, planting a kiss on his lips. "I want you to just listen to what I am saying. I wanna have your baby, Antonio, our baby." "Why? We are not married." "But we are gonna be soon, aren't we?" Antonio got the shock of his life by that question. He tried to open his mouth but no words came out. "I can't believe this. Of course, you know that will happen. I am gonna marry you." "Then let me carry your baby and..." "It could be dangerous and my family will disown me for it." He said, pulling himself free from Bruce. "I will not accept this and until you come back to your senses, I don't wanna have this type of conversation again, do you understand?" "But..." "No!" Antonio furiously turned and stormed out of the room, shutting the door with such force that Bruce could have sworn the ground shook. Seeing Antonio leave, Bruce's tears came rushing down in billions. He covered his face as more tears came flowing. He was so hurt... his heart was bleeding... his body was really weak... his entire system felt weak. He was really mad deep inside because Praveen was to be blamed. "No!" He furiously rubbed his tears. "I won't allow myself to be defeated. I will win this game whether Praveen likes it or not." He chuckled bitterly. "Antonio, you're, mine and I will make you mine forever." He rubbed his tears as an evil grin appeared on his face. He wasn't gonna accept defeat. Antonio was his and his alone. *** Praveen was coming out of the kitchen, his mind elsewhere. He had just come from giving instructions to the maids on what to cook for granny that afternoon. He had had a pretty tough week, especially with all the tension that was going on in the house. Truly, Antonio was making his life miserable. He was really tired but he still wanted to do some things to get him busy and forget about what Antonio was doing to him. He was dressed in a tight, brown t-shirt with a black skinny jeans and gray sandals on his feet. His hair was tied in a braided ponytail, revealing his gorgeous beautiful face. He was still wearing spectacles and he was still slaying his look. "Hey!" Praveen's thoughts got disturbed when he heard a really happy voice calling him. He quickly moved his face up to find Emilia and granny smiling at him in the living room. They were with Emma and Celine. He put up a fake smile and started rushing towards them. Reaching them, he bowed his head and touched their feet, getting blessings from them. They all smiled but when he was about to touch Emma's feet, she moved her legs and looked away. He just smiled sheepishly and then sat closer to granny, letting her hold his hands. "Darling, you looked lost." She said with a smile. "What's going on? Are you okay?" "Of course," He lied, shaking his head, giving her the brightest grin. "You don't have to worry about me, okay?" "Alright." "Anyway, Praveen, we have great news for you and I am sure you'll be happy." Emilia bubbled, smiling as she had just won a lottery. "News?" Emma thought, frowning her face. "Why the hell do they always treat him like a king? Shit! This boy is getting on my last nerve. I am gonna have to get rid of him one way or the other." She repositioned herself and then paid attention to what was going on. "Mother, what..." "Just hold on for a minute." Just then, Andrea came into the living room talking on the phone, laughing and smiling brightly. She was wearing a bright pink designer's dress which was knee-high, blue high heeled shoes, and a small blue leather jacket. Her curves were on full view. Her makeup was glowing with makeup and her lips were red as blood. Her hair was curled and let loose which made her look even more beautiful. She came and sat on the couch close to her mother and then cut the call. Then she looked at both her mother and granny. "Mom, I was told you wanted to see me. And it's urgent." She asked, wondering why they had called her. "What's going?" Granny and Emilia looked at each other and then smiled. Emilia then took her daughter's hands, sweetly rubbing on them. "My love..." She chuckled happily, breathing in deeply. "...you know I love you so much, right." Andrea raised her eyebrow, looking all around. "Okay..." She wasn't sure of what to take of what her mother told her. "...why does this sound weird? What's going on?" She chuckled happily. Emilia smiled even brighter and then this time looked at Praveen who was just as confused. "I have got really good news for you. I am sure that you'll be just as happy as I am when you hear it." "Really?" Andrea got excited, literally jumping from the seat. She was a sucker for surprises. "Tell me." "Well..." She started and took in a deep breath. "...your granny and I have found a perfect match for you, someone we know will be able to make you happy." The moment Andrea heard that her smile instantly started fading. Her heart started racing beyond control, her body feeling both hot and cold. Her nerves started getting to her as she started shaking a bit. Her mother's words kept on ringing in her head. "We've found a match for you." Praveen and Celine on the other hand smiled brightly when they heard that. Even Emma smiled brightly. "What?" Andrea gasped, feeling as if she was running out of breath. "Mom, but..." "Listen to me honey," Emilia said, rubbing on her daughter's hands. "This boy is really good. He's handsome, successful, and very humble. We'll never find a better match than this for you. I assure you this. Besides," She smiled. "You know him and I am sure you also like him. He's been coming to this house." Andrea felt her heart jump in her chest the moment she heard that. Adrenaline rushed to her entire body, feeling it rushing in and out of her system. Then suddenly, a smile popped up on her face when she realized who they were talking about. She was just so excited, really happy because it had been her dream. OMG, she couldn't believe it was happening. "Wow! She's brushing." Celine teased, laughing at the top of her voice. "I think she likes him too." Andrea dropped her eyes to the floor and blushed. Damn, even Praveen was happy for her. "Why wouldn't she?" Granny raised her eyebrow, teasing her. "He's a good man and they'll make such a good couple. We are gonna see the boy this evening so we just wanted to inform you so you won't act surprised when we break it to you." "That's nice, mother." Emma was really happy. Her smile was priceless. It was the first time Praveen had ever seen her smile. "I can't believe my Andrea is gonna get married. This is nice." "Of course," Granny laughed happily. "It's nice, especially since the boy has got all the values we need. Santiago is a good boy and they'll make such a good couple." "Santiago!" That name gave Andrea the greatest shock of her life. She quickly raised her face, instantly losing the smile on her face. A big frown appeared on her face as her heart raced. She instantly started sweating, feeling as if she couldn't breathe. "What?" She gasped, breathing in deeply. Andrea's eyes widened in shock as her mouth gaped. Everyone was now shocked by her expression. To be continued…
  12. Praveen came out of the bathroom, drying his face. He couldn't still believe that had just happened to him down stairs, in front of his entire family. He couldn't believe Andrea had played a stunt like that. ‘How could you do this, Praveen?’ Those words had been painful to hear. Maybe it was partly his fault because he had thought she was genuine when she had asked him to collect the bill. She had planned everything but granny, bless her heart, he thought as he smiled as he remembered how she had been defending him since he had been to the house. He threw the towel on the chair and froze when he looked in front of him to find Emilia looking at him without any expression on her face. "Mother," He sighed, going for her feet. She touched his head and then kissed his forehead. "My son, I am not happy." She said with a tone that he didn't like. His heart started pounding deep in his chest when he realized that she might have been referring to what had happened downstairs. Could she have been mad at him, he thought as he took her hands in his. "Mother, I am sorry if I disappointed you and..." "No!" She sounded scared. She cupped his cheeks and looked into his eyes, seeing his vulnerability. "Don't say that, my son. I am sad because my own daughter just uttered such nonsense against you when she clearly knows that..." "Mother, please, don't!" He pleaded, shaking his head. "You shouldn't blame yourself for what had happened. Andrea just thought wrong and besides, she knows the truth now. You shouldn't worry because I am not offended. I am sure she has learnt her lesson. She just said that because she..." He paused and simply froze, realizing that he couldn't tell her the truth. "...because she cares for this family and its wellbeing." "But she pointed at you and..." "I want us to forget that happened, mother." He pleaded, shaking his head as a smile brightened up his beautiful face. He took his specs and put them on. Emilia smiled brightly and kissed both his cheeks. "I never made a mistake when I chose you for my son, Praveen. I know he's gonna be happy here with you. You're such a blessing to me and the entire family. I love you so much." She gripped his arms and pulled him a powerful hug that felt really warm and welcoming to Praveen. He laid his head on her shoulder and lost the smile on his face. ‘Please, forgive me, mother...’ He thought, closing his eyes to enjoy her warmth. ‘I can't tell you that Andrea wants me out of this house and that her friend, Bruce is the one that Antonio loves. I just hope you'll understand why I am doing this one day.’ She broke the hug and smiled brighter. "I must say that I haven't been this happy since the death of my husband." She sighed, rubbing his cheeks. "He would have been happy to know that you're already in this house and making all of us happy." "I am sure, father is happy if this family is happy." He smiled even brighter. "I just want to see all of you happy, mother." She smiled and then rubbed her tears of joy that had gotten down her cheek. "Alright..." She laughed, holding his hands tightly. "Why don't you show me exactly what you had bought? I want to see all of them." "Okay, mother." They both laughed and Praveen brought the bags to show his mother in law what he had bought. *** "I can't believe you just did that back there, Andrea." Emma said with her arms crossed. "You just made a fool out of yourself. You made yourself look like a bad guy in front of all of them. What were you thinking?" "Aunt, I... I was just..." "You were just what?" She raised her eyebrow, shaking her head. "Making yourself look like a fool? I very well know that boy didn't do anything." "What was I supposed to do, aunt?" She said depressingly, passing her hands through her beautiful hair. "I couldn't just sit and watch anymore. I had to do something, aunt. Is it wrong to help your family from harm?" She held both her aunt's hands, looking in her eyes. She was really mad. "I didn't say that and I didn't say your actions were bad either." Emma explained, giving her niece a smile. "But look at the outcome of everything. He just gained more likes from this family and some people are already mad at you." Andrea took a deep breath, sitting back on the bed. She buried her face between her palms and breathed audibly, feeling anger taking the best of her. "This is granny's fault. I told you that boy is a warlock. He's using magic and very soon, he will take our entire wealth." She quickly sat up and looked Emma into her deep piercing brown eyes. "Are you gonna sit and let that happen, aunt?" "No!" Emma shook her head. "But I have decided to observe him and see what is so special about him." "What?" Andrea yelled, shocked because of what her aunt had just said. "What did you say? Can you hear yourself? This boy is..." "I know that, Andrea." Emma said, sitting with her niece. "But to play the game, you've got to understand your opponent. This boy..." She said, opening her palm widely. "Everyone is taking his side and I wanna see why? First, I threw him out because Antonio's life is getting ruined because of him. But then..." She paused and chuckled bitterly. "...Antonio himself brought him back to this house?" "That's because Antonio is being deceived by this boy." Andrea said harshly, almost bursting out at her aunt. She couldn't believe she was hearing that from her. "He probably waited until..." "No!" Emma shook her head in disagreement. "Antonio could have chosen to ignore him but..." "Aunt, not you too." Andrea said with tears in her eyes. "When are you gonna realize that this boy is playing tricks." "Then I shall find out the truth." She said with a pat on Andrea's shoulder. "Like I said, I will be observing him and I won't make it easy for him. if Antonio approves of him after, then who am I to deny that?" She shrugged, chuckling softly. "I don't wanna be the bad guy here." "I can't believe this." Andrea rose furiously from the bed and stormed out of the room. She had come to her aunt's room to plan on what to do next only to be told such nonsense. She was really mad... She was fuming and she was gonna make sure she got Praveen out of the house with the help of Bruce. She was gonna do everything and that was promise. She was walking so fast that she didn't even see clearly where she was going. The next thing she felt was someone pulling her arm and grabbing her. She came to her senses and realized that she had almost missed a step on the staircase. She quickly moved her eyes and a smile popped up her face, a really sexy smile... her anger simply went away and her heart started beating rhythmically. She felt a little hot and almost blushed. "Ethan!" She chuckled happily, not losing that gorgeous smile. But all Ethan saw was evil and nothing else. He wasn't even smiling. "I should have let you fall down those stairs but I am not as heartless as you, Andrea. A woman like you, beautiful and really sexy..." He said with a serious look on his face, making Andrea smile even more. "...your heart should be pure and filled with love but I don't get why such a young woman would be bitter." "Ethan, I..." "I can't believe you'd do that to your brother's husband." He almost yelled at her and her smile started getting lost. "Have you no shame? But you know what..." He paused and chuckled. "...I am happy because instead of embarrassing him, you got embarrassed. Guess what they say is true. The almighty will always protect those who are devoted to him. You might be working hard to get that boy out but I will make sure that I bring the two of them together." He warned, pointing his finger angrily at her. "And warn your friend to know his boundaries." With those words, Ethan started heading upstairs. "Ethan, wait..." But Ethan was too busy to even realize that she was calling him. Andrea remained standing there wondering what everything was all about. Ethan had never spoken to her in such a tone before. What was his problem, she thought as she slowly came down the stairs. "I will make you all understand very soon.” She vowed, clenching her fists. "I will incriminate him until neither of you can stand up for him. You'll come crawling back to me." *** Praveen was sitting on a pool chair, his eyes in the water. He was lost deep in thought, blaming himself for what had happened. He couldn't believe that he had lost Adrian's number, the person he had become friends with, someone that had probably brought back his confidence. He felt really terrible and worst of all, he didn't even know the company he ran for him to find information on him. Guess that was goodbye although Praveen really wished he could see him even if it was just once. He was praying for it and maybe, one day they'd get to meet or find a way to communicate. "Ahem!" He heard someone clear his throat and he quickly jumped up from the chair and got surprised when he heard someone laughing. It was Ethan and he couldn't believe he had just done that to him. But he wasn't alone. He was with Antonio who was busy looking at him without any expression. Their eyes met and both of them looked away. "I am sorry for that." Ethan was still laughing and he felt a little embarrassed. "I didn't mean to scare you." Praveen gave a sheepish smile and nodded. "Anyway," He cleared his throat. "We came here to tell you something important." Ethan quickly punched Antonio slowly, bringing him to the real world. He gestured him to tell Praveen and Antonio just sighed. "Err..." He stuttered, his mouth shivering. "Well, you..." "Go on!" Ethan teased. "You don't have to be shy. You two have been married for quite some time." Antonio was gonna get Ethan for this because he was to be blamed for everything. Why the heck couldn't he just tell him, he thought as he clenched his fists? Anyway, he was gonna do it. "We are gonna have a photo shoot in the next three days so you need to be prepared." He said abruptly, his hands in his pockets. Praveen raised his face, speechless because of what he had just heard. His heart started racing, his body really cold. His eyes widened as he looked at Antonio without saying anything. "W-what?" He gasped, feeling a shiver run down his spine. "It's great, right?" Ethan chuckled happily, nodding his head. "This will be your first photo shoot as a couple and you can't imagine thinking about how happy your fans are." "What?" Praveen was still in shock. "My fans?" "Yes!" Ethan held his hand and gave him the brightest smile ever. "You are married to Antonio. And don't ever be shocked if there will be a Prantonio fan club." "Prantonio?" Antonio gasped. "Yes!" Ethan nodded. "That's what it sounds like when your names are combined. Anyway, I will leave the two of you to talk." He left laughing. Praveen and Antonio remained there like strangers without even uttering a word to each other. While Praveen was still shocked with the news he'd been given, Antonio couldn't still accept that he was gonna have a photo shoot with Praveen. He didn't like it. "B-but, I don't even know anything about photo shoots." Praveen's voice was barely above a whisper. "How am I gonna..." "Oh so now you are complaining?" Antonio chuckled bitterly, furiously dropping his arms. "You wanted to marry a celebrity and now you've got the consequences of that. Just listen to me..." He warned, pointing angrily at him. "I am not only famous for my music but I am also a famous model so don't embarrass me on that photoshoot." "Excuse me!" Praveen simply lost his cool. "You're only concerned about yourself here and you don't seem to be helping matters so please..." He put his hands together. "...leave me alone to clear my head, okay? It's not like I am even interested to take a photoshoot with you." Hearing Praveen's words, Antonio simply laughed at the top of his voice. "Oh really?" "Really?" Praveen gave a mocking laughter, looking at Antonio. "If there was another model there, if I had another option, it wouldn't be you. I would rather take a photoshoot with another amateur than with you. Excuse me!" He got out of there, living Antonio laughing at the top of his lungs. "That makes the two of us. I'd choose Bruce to you any day." Speaking of Bruce, he needed to talk to him because he needed to hear his sweet voice. His love for him was growing deep and although they haven't had sex in a long time. "Hey baby..." Bruce answered on the other end of the line. "I miss you so much. I wanted to see you so badly. Can we meet?" "Yes, I will be at the office tomorrow. Why don't you come by and then we might just find ourselves something to do." "You know what I want, Antonio." Bruce moaned on the other end. "I want you to make love to me, please." "That will happen soon and..." *** "Oh my God," Granny gasped, getting up from the couch with her hand on her cheeks. "You look handsome in those clothes." Hearing granny's words, Praveen blushed and dropped his eyes to the floor. He was wearing dark blue skinny jeans, a white t-shirt, and blue sandals on his feet, all of which were expensive. His hair was tied in a braided ponytail, revealing his beautiful, and those beautiful blue eyes shone in those wonderful spectacles. "Praveen, you have no idea how beautiful you look right now." She took his hand and kissed his cheeks. "My grandson in law is gorgeous." Praveen was still blushing. "I told him to put that on, mother," Emilia said with a smile as she came down the stairs with a smile. "He was hesitant because he wanted to keep wearing his old clothes." "I know that but..." "Praveen!" She smiled brightly, wrapping her hand around him. "I am not saying you shouldn't be wearing those old clothes of yours. All I am saying is that if you wear these types of clothes, Antonio will get even closer to you." Praveen blushed and then dropped his eyes to the floor. He was feeling really shy. Meanwhile, Emma who was seated in the living room was just watching with a serious look on her face. Although she had told Praveen that she would give him a chance, she still didn't like him at all. She hated him and still needed him out. But she had to stick to what she had told him although it was gonna be too hard. "Alright, I will go and prepare something for you in the kitchen." "Yummy!" Granny rubbed on her tummy. "I have missed your cooking." Granny kissed him and he left for the kitchen. As he was just entering the kitchen, he met with Andrea. As soon as she saw him, she stood still with her arms folded and her eyes all over him. She was looking up and down, chuckling to herself. Praveen just stood there without a word because he didn't want trouble. "Wow!" She chirped, nodding her head. "Those clothes do look good on you." Praveen wasn't gonna fall for those words because he knew Andrea was just teasing him. He just stood still and gave a deep sigh. "Andrea..." "But they do not suit you at all." She gasped, rubbing on her chin as if she was thinking of something to say next, probably an insult. "They are just too expensive, even more, expensive than your entire existence." "I don't want trouble." He said softly. "Just leave me alone." "But I am not causing trouble." She gasped in mock astonishment, holding her chest. "Baby boy, if you still wanna live in this house I'm gonna continue giving you the harsh reality. You can get a boy out of the slums but you can't get the slums out of a boy. I do not need to tell you what I mean." "No!" Praveen said with a serious look on his face. "I understand you completely. But you've got me mistaken here. I am not from the slums. We might have been middle-class people, lower class than you guys but at least my values are something that you'll never have Andrea. At least, I am not bitter for nothing like you and..." "How dare you..." "And I'll appreciate it if you stopped causing trouble for me, Andrea." He said with a small voice but the warning in his voice was clear. "I won't take you always trying to make me look bad. If you'll excuse me, I have to prepare something for granny." He furiously passed her, leaving her there fuming. She couldn't believe he had the guts to say that to her face. She wasn't gonna take it and that was the truth. *** "I am not joking, Ethan," Praveen said, gripping his hair. "Do you have any idea how scared I am right now? I don't think I can..." "Don't say it..." Ethan moved his little finger in the air. "You'll be fine, Praveen. It's not that big..." "It's not that big?" Praveen chuckled bitterly, shaking his head. "You can say that but this is a big deal to me. What if I embarrass myself out there? There is no way that I will be able to pull this through. I don't have any idea of being a model. I am not like Antonio or Bru..." "You'll be fine." Ethan squeezed his shoulders, making him calm down. "You've got everything to surprise all of us. Prove us wrong, Praveen." "What do you mean?" He frowned, shaking his head. "I have got everything." "Yes!" Ethan nodded. "You're very handsome, Praveen. You've got a great body and your confidence too. Most importantly, you've got the looks. You'll be fine. Just one thing can make you lose it on set." "What?" "Being nervous and..." "See!" Praveen sighed, leaning towards a wall. "I am screwed. I don't have any idea about..." "Uncle!" Praveen heard a little voice behind. He quickly turned and his entire face brightened up with a smile. It was the little boy he had just learned to love. "Ryan!" He gasped happily, kneeling with his arms wide open. "Come here." The happy boy ran into his arms and he kissed him all over his face, drawing giggles from him. It was really beautiful because he loved children. After all, his dream had always been to have a big family with children and a great husband but not Antonio. Little Ryan was in a uniform and now wonder Praveen hadn't seen him. He had probably started school somewhere. "Hey! I missed you, Ryan." He said, pulling away from him. "How could you have left without telling your friend?" "I am sorry, Uncle!" He held his tiny little ears, making Praveen smile brightly. At least, little Ryan knew how to act, unlike Andrea who was always bitter. "Granny took me to school early." "School, huh?" He raised his eyebrow, frowning. "How did it go? Did you make any friends?" "No!" He lost the smile on his face. "All the other kids are already friends." "But there is always room for one more," Praveen said, pinching his little cheeks. He was now smiling. "You'll make a lot of friends and your uncle here," He chuckled. "Will always be there for you anytime you come home. I also know you are hungry. I will give you something." He picked up the child in his arms and slowly turned to find Ethan looking at him with a smile. "I will be back, Ethan, okay? Why don't you..." "I have to go back to work," Ethan said with a sigh. "I am currently working with Antonio on his new songs and videos. I will call you later." "Okay." They parted ways and Praveen went to feed little Ryan. When he was done, he gave him to one of the maids and went to the kitchen to prepare something for everyone. After all, he didn't have anything to do since he didn't work plus he loved cooking. Meanwhile, Emma was seated in the living room watching one of her favorite shows. She needed to relax and just forget about everything that was happening in the house. She was suddenly surprised by Praveen who was holding on to a tray of tea and some snacks. To say she was shocked would be an understatement. She quickly shifted her gaze to him, looking at him as if he had just grown another head. The boy was looking at her with a smile which she thought was annoying as fuck. "What?" She said. "I just thought you might like some snacks while you enjoy your show." He beamed, putting the tray on the small table near her. He pulled it closer to her, enjoying the incredulous look on her face. "One of the maids told me that you like having tea and snacks while you watch T.V." "You were informed right." She said with a smile, making Praveen smile even brighter. Then out of the blue, she lost the smile on her face and got serious. "But if I needed snacks I know where the kitchen is and there are a lot of maids in this house." "I know that." He said, not losing the smile on his face. "But I made all these especially for you." He added. "I even made you cookies which I thought would..." "Would you please stop your nonsense?" Emma snapped, furiously getting up from the chair. "I told you I would be observing you. That doesn't mean that I have accepted you. I am only tolerating you because of everyone else in this house and..." "But aunt..." "Don't..." She clenched her teeth, opening her eyes wider. "...don't talk while I am talking. I hate that and I already told you that." Praveen got hurt but he maintained his smile. "I understand. I just thought..." "What?" She folded her arms on her chest. "That you'd put me under your palms with your cookies and tea as you've done to everyone else." Praveen shook his head in fear. "No, you are misunderstanding me, aunt. I told you that I have to do these things for you. I am the son in law of this house." "Son... in law?" She laughed. "Until I approve of you or maybe Antonio accepts you, you are nothing but a trespasser in this house. Don't let those..." She grimaced, pointing to his clothes. "...deceive you that you are a part of us because it takes more than just designer clothes to be a Gonzalez. It requires class, poise, elegancy, and beauty. So if I were you, I wouldn't take what I said the other day seriously and get too comfortable. Your very presence is pathetic." She quickly turned and passed him angrily. "I'll watch the show in my room since your presence has ruined it. Next time, learn to keep to yourself instead of ruining other people's things." She left and he remained standing there looking lost and confused. He hadn't done anything at all by trying to make her feel better and comfortable. And here he had been thinking things were gonna get easy but he had been wrong. Could she be mad because of what had happened the other day, he thought as he slowly picked up the tray from the table? Or may Andrea had gotten to her and poisoned her once again. It was just too confusing. He started going to the kitchen but stopped when he saw Antonio standing in the doorway, holding his jacket. His shirt was half-buttoned and his hairy chest was exposed. He had his black designer's trousers and brown shoes on. He looked handsome in the things he had been wearing. After all, Praveen had picked it for him and left it on the bed. Praveen's eyes met with Antonio and he couldn't read the guy's mind. He was probably happy. He just increased his pace and went into the kitchen. Antonio on the other had no idea why he saw that kind of sadness in Praveen's eyes. He loved seeing him suffer but maybe his aunt shouldn't have said what she had said. He hated Praveen but the poor boy was just trying to make her feel better. Why was he even thinking about it? Of course, the guy deserved everything that was happening to him because he invaded everyone's privacy. He was the reason why he couldn't completely be with his boyfriend. It was his fault that Ethan had completely changed. It was like everything he touched, everything simply changed in favor of him. The guy had even stolen his granny and his mother. They never saw anything past Praveen. Praveen this... Praveen that... He just shook his head and went up to his room to freshen up. *** "You can't be serious," Bruce said, shaking his head. "Please, tell me you are joking." "I am not," Antonio said as he took Bruce's hand, placing a kiss on it. "I told you this because I don't want to hide anything from it and not because I want to hurt you." Bruce walked away and stood at a distance, his back to Antonio. He was really mad but he didn't wanna show it because he wanted his boyfriend to not know that he was very angry. But he couldn't just help it at all. "And how do think this makes me feel?" Antonio slowly walked towards Bruce, looking at him with a brilliant smile on his face. Bruce was looking so yummy, delicious, and beautiful. He was wearing a bright yellow shirt with his chest exposed, all for Antonio to admire. He was wearing tight, skinny pants with brown dots and green snickers all of which were designers. His short hair which he had died golden brown was tied with a band and pulled back, revealing his beautiful face. Antonio had never seen a creature so beautiful. He chuckled and then went behind him, wrapping his arms tightly around him. Then he kissed his neck and breathed on it, enjoying the expensive exotic cologne that hit his nose. "I know you don't like this but..." "You have to do it for your family." Bruce sighed, shaking his head. "I know you have to do this for your family but... but I can't help but feel jealous that you'll be close to that stupid boy." "I don't feel anything for him." "I know that..." Bruce dropped his neck, giving Antonio's lips more access. Fuck, Antonio's lips felt heavenly on his neck. His breaths were like fire and they were giving Bruce wild thoughts. "...but put yourself in my shoes. The world has never seen us together on any photos and now you're about to present them with you and that... that..." He didn't even know the words to use on Praveen. He visibly hated him so much. "Baby..." Antonio held him closer, slowly turning to face him. He raised his head with his chin and looked in his eyes. "...our marriage is just for show and you know that. You're the one that I love. He... he is just a phase that that will pass away. I will get rid of him very soon." He said, getting a smile from Bruce. Bruce's smile somehow made him feel happy and he pressed a peck on his lips. "Very soon, our love story will be known by everyone. You will be known as the handsome husband of Antonio Gonzalez, Bruce Gonzalez." A smile appeared on the side of Bruce's lips. He wrapped arms around Antonio and pressed his head on his shoulder. Antonio held his waist and both of them found themselves in a tight hug. Antonio was busy smiling but Bruce had a big frown on his head. He was really mad. * "Then what are you gonna do about it?" Andrea asked her legs on her table, sitting like a boss in beautiful blue high heeled shoes. "Are you gonna just let it happen?" She was putting on a blue, expensive, red designer's dress and her hair tied in a ponytail. Her makeup was on point and she was acting as if she didn't care. She was still hatching a plan to make Praveen leave the house early and she swore she was gonna jump at any opportunity that was gonna present itself to her. "Of course not..." Bruce said harshly, moving from side to side. She was with Andrea in her room and they were getting ready to go out before Andrea asked him what was wrong. "Do you think I am stupid? Do you think I am gonna let that boy be that close to my boyfriend, Andrea?" "I don't know." She dropped her legs, smiling brightly. "It's actually up to you, Bruce. I am gonna let you handle this one." "But..." He paused and looked into her eyes. "What do you think I should do? The photoshoot is just a day away and I..." "You're are intelligent, Bruce." Andrea sighed. "You will figure this out. You can also let them take the photo if you want." "Are you crazy?" Bruce's eyes widened. "Why would I do that? You know that boy is intelligent and he'll jump at every opportunity to seduce Antonio. I will not allow him to do that." "Right now..." Andrea got up from the bed and slowly started moving. "...I am only thinking about finding a way to get rid of him. I don't care about the photoshoot or anything he does. All I want is to find an opportunity to get him out of the house. So you're gonna have to think about this alone, darling, okay?" She smiled. Bruce just looked at her wondering what was wrong with her. He had expected her to help him come up with a plan to ruin the photoshoot or make it turn into his favor but turns out that it was all in vain. She was more concerned about her plans. "But Andrea, aren't we supposed to be working together here?" He complained. "Do you want this boy to..." "My brother is not stupid." Andrea rolled her eyes in frustration. "He will not fall for that boy. He loves you too much to do that. We were supposed to go somewhere, weren't we?" She asked, dropping her hands to her gorgeous hips. "I wanna get out of this house because the environment has been polluted. Shall we?" Bruce looked at his friend and simply sighed. He got up and both of them left. *** Praveen was seated on the couch in his room trying to make himself calm. He was nervous, scared and only God knew what was going on his mind at that particular moment. He was wearing a dark blue t-shirt and brown skinny pants. His hair was tied with a band and he had his spectacles on. Suddenly the door opened and he quickly moved his eyes to the door, hoping it was Antonio that had come. He got relieved when he saw Ethan coming inside with a brilliant smile. He was dressed in a pale white shirt with his chest exposed and a black trouser. He was looking really smart with his hair gelled and from the way he was looking, it was clear that he had just come from work. "Hey," He greeted, rushing towards Praveen. "Are you ready? I am here to pick you up. I am sorry that Antonio couldn't pick you up himself." Somehow, Praveen felt a little disappointed. First of all, Antonio wasn't supposed to work that day. He had just come up with a lame excuse that he wanted to go and finish up on a song that he had been working. He had gone early in the morning and his mother had told him to pick Praveen so that they could go to the shoot at 10. "It's okay, Ethan." He said, faking a smile while hiding his shaky hands. "I feel more comfortable driving with you, anyway. It's not like Antonio..." "Oh come on," Ethan teased, winking at Praveen. "He's your husband and he's supposed to do this. He just had to put some final touches. We'll meet him at the shoot so you don't have to worry." As if that was what was making Praveen worried. If only Ethan knew what exactly was in his mind then he wouldn't have even asked or said that. "Shall we?" He asked, playing with his car keys. "You and Antonio are the only ones they are waiting for. Everything is done." Praveen couldn't say anything to Ethan because he was sure his voice was gonna be trembling. He just managed a nod and the both of them quickly left for the location after receiving goodbyes and good lucks from granny and Emilia. Granny even told him to "Break a leg"... Funny... It didn't take long before they reached the location in about just half an hour. It was a big building, probably a modeling company, or something because he saw many pictures of models outside it. It had to be about 13 floors or more. The surrounding was really big, absolutely adorable with beautiful flowers and many cars. He could see cars, probably company cars, and vans. There were people packing equipment probably for a shoot somewhere. Everyone he met was busy doing something or busy rushing somewhere. He was so caught up in the place that he didn't even realize that they had parked in front of the big entrance guarded by a guard. He only realized it when someone opened the side of his door. It was a beautiful lady in a white shirt and a black skirt with flat shoes. She had short brown hair and green eyes. And best of all, she had a really big and bright smile on her beautiful face that he couldn't help but smile too. "Hello, sir." She greeted both of them. "Hello," Ethan greeted, smiling back at her, almost like flirting. "Can you please take this beautiful boy inside?" "Of course." The lady said, nodding her head. "His husband had just arrived and I am sure he is eagerly waiting for him. They are such a sweet couple, you know." She jumped from all the joy. Ethan looked at Praveen and just laughed softly, shaking his head. "Yeah, right?" "Of course," She nodded. "And they are such important people to our company, sir. Being the first to take their first couple shoot will not only boost our company image but also bring in a lot of money." "You hear that?" Ethan beamed, squeezing Praveen's hand. "Go and give your fans what they want. I will see you later." Praveen looked at Ethan in shock, looking at him wide-eyed. "You're not coming?" "And ruin your moment with your husband?" He laughed in tease, holding his chest. "No thank you but I think I will pass. Besides, as his manager, I need to go back and check out what the crew is doing with the production of his music. So will see you later." Praveen took a deep breath, getting out of the car. He waved at Ethan as he drove off. Then he looked at the woman who told him to follow her inside the building. It was beautiful and classy inside. Everyone treated him as if they knew him, smiling and greeting him. They entered the elevator and found themselves on the 10th floor. As soon as the elevator opened, Praveen saw his husband busy talking to a cameraman with a smile on his face. The moment he saw him, his nerves got the best of him once again. His palms started getting sweaty and he struggled to bring his breaths under control. Antonio was putting on a black designer's cargo short, an open shirt with a black vest inside. He had snickers on his feet but he looked hot! Wait! That came out wrong. Why would Praveen care how his husband looked like? He was such a dick. He slowly started walking to him, looking all around. There were a lot of things in that room and it was really big. He didn't need to be a genius to know that all of those were gonna be used as backgrounds for the shoot. Some had white backgrounds, flowers and some looked like beautiful beaches. He knew the crew thought it was gonna be romantic but there was nothing romantic about his and Antonio's relationship. It was a joke. "There he is." The director, a 40 something man with short blonde hair said with a smile. "My name is Jack and I am the director of this shoot." He extended his hands to Praveen. "It is nice to meet you. God, you are gorgeous. Now I know why he was in a hurry to get married." Praveen looked at Antonio and then smiled brightly at the director. "Thank you so much, Mr. director. But I don't think I am that gorgeous." "Then tell me who doesn't say you are and I will tell you he's an idiot." Praveen looked at Antonio and smiled at him in mock. "That's not necessary, sir." They talked for a few seconds and Praveen found himself calming down. The director introduced them to the crew and they all seemed happy to have them. They all commented on how cute the couple was, how Antonio had made a good choice, and how they were all happy that one of their favorite celebrities had found a life partner blah-blah-blah... But Praveen didn't care. He just smiled. Antonio too was smiling although he didn't like what was going. He should have been with Bruce and not some boy that was gonna ruin the entire photoshoot for him. He didn't like it. The director ordered his people to take the two men to the respective rooms to be prepared. Antonio's room was just on the floor while Praveen's was on another floor. He was getting nervous and he was hoping it wasn't gonna be a disaster. *** "Hey, can I remove the glasses?" The makeup artist said with a smile. "Do you not see clearly without them?" Praveen looked at the artist with a puzzled look on his face. He was smiling and there was no way Praveen was gonna make him feel bad. He was usually against removing his glasses because... Well, just forget about it. But it was gonna be the second time he was gonna be removing them since his marriage. "No!" He said with a soft chuckle. "Why don't you go ahead?" The artist nodded and removed the glasses, placing them on the table. He continued his work on Praveen's face and didn't lose that smile on his face. Praveen's hair was already and it was covered by a cap to prevent it from getting dirty or disorganized. The hairstylists too had done a great job. His clothes were already in the room and the others were gonna be brought. He learned that he was gonna try out five different looks. Looks like the people were really serious with the photos. "You look really beautiful without your glasses." The makeup artist said as he continued his work. "If I didn't see you earlier in your glasses, I would have said I didn't know you. Why do you wear your glasses though? Do you have eye problems?" Praveen remained quiet for a while, going down memory lane to the first time his mother had suggested he started wearing glasses. "Well, it's a kinda long story. But..." He sighed, smiling brightly. "...I sorta became a nerd in school so I am used to wearing them. Besides, I think I see better with them. These glasses are my life and..." He paused as he remembered something emotional. "...they were given to me by my mother so having them with me makes me feel as if she's still with me." "That's sweet..." He commented. "And I bet Antonio loves seeing you in them." Praveen blushed and just dropped his eyes to the ground. The artist continued as the two chatted like two lost friends. It didn't take long before he was done and he left Praveen to get dressed. The clothes that had been brought were really beautiful. Praveen was now all alone and he had to be careful not to spoil either his hair or his makeup. When he looked in the mirror, he noticed what the man had just said to him. He looked different than he usually did. It was a look that he had almost forgotten about since he had started wearing glasses and acting nerdy. There was barely any makeup on his face and he had to admit that the people had done a great job. He smiled brightly and opened the other door to go and get dressed. It didn't take him long to dress and he was ready. He was starting to get nervous again but remembered how Antonio had warned him the other day. "You have to do this Praveen." He said, taking a deep breath. "He's not the only one that can pull this. You need to show him that you're not weak. Show him that you're very strong." He took three deep breaths and felt some powerful energy entering him slowly. Now he was ready for the photoshoot. He quickly touched the knob and when he turned it... he got the surprise of his life when the door couldn't open. He tried again but it looked like the door was jammed somehow. He tried and tried again but nothing was working. "Hello..." He called loudly, knocking hard on the door. "Can somebody please hear me? I am locked inside the room. Can someone please hear me..." But there was no answer. He wasn't even sure anyone could hear him but he kept on trying. He didn't need to be locked up in the room. He had a photoshoot for God's sake. He needed to get out of there but how was he gonna do it? *** "This is taking too long." The director complained, looking at his watch. "Why is he taking too long? It's been over half an hour since the artist said he was getting dressed. What's going on?" Antonio and the entire crew had been waiting for Praveen for over half an hour. They couldn't get what was going. The shoot was supposed to begin early because they still had to shoot their boss too but now Praveen was taking too long. It was irritating. Antonio was seated on the chair, trying to call Praveen. But he couldn't get through to him. The idiot had the nerve to switch off his phone. This had been what he had been afraid of and now it had happened. He didn't know what to because he felt vulnerable. Probably the entire crew was now thinking he had married a loser. Finally, the man that had gone to check came back rushing and they all got up to hear what he had to say. "I am sorry, sir but he's not in the dressing room." He said with his eyes to the floor. "I checked but one of the guards said that they saw someone leaving that place. I think he left." "What?" The director shouted, shaking his head. "Why would he leave? He knew how important this shoot was. What's going on?" Now Antonio couldn't say anything. He could tell that the director was really mad. He just stood there looking cool and sexy in what he was wearing. He was wearing a high-class black designer's suit with a white shirt inside, making him look like the hottest man on the planet. He had black shoes on his feet and his hair was curled. He had been looking forward to the shoot but the idiot had let him down. Now he was gonna get it from him. "I am so sorry." Antonio apologized, slowly moving towards the manager. "I should have known he'd do this. I thought he knew how..." "You don't have to apologize, Mr. Gonzalez." The director tried his best to smile but he completely failed. "Maybe it was us who made a mistake. We should have stuck to you shooting with a model but now... it's too late because we don't have any models here. Guess we are gonna have to reschedule. I am sorry for the inconvenience." Antonio smiled and nodded. "I am sorry too. I..." "Hey, hey..." Antonio heard an excited voice sound behind him, a familiar voice. "...how's everything going? I came to check up on you?" He quickly turned and his eyes widened when he saw Bruce standing behind him with an amazing smile on his face. He was wearing tight red skinny jeans and a brown shirt. His hair was tied behind and Antonio, fuck, he just wanted to hold him and kiss him right there. But he knew better than to behave himself. Somehow, seeing Bruce made Antonio's spirit to be lifted again. He was happy. "Bruce!" The director gasped, rushing towards him with a smile on his face. "Oh my God, I never thought I'd get to see a famous model like you in my presence. What are you doing here?" "Oh, please..." Bruce held his chest, brushing at the director's words. "Don't flatter me. Besides, I only came to check on my friend Antonio and see how the photoshoot is going. But from the look of things..." He lost the smile on his face. "...it looks like I am late." "Bruce, the..." "No!" The director held his hands tightly. He was just excited to have such a high fashion model like Bruce. "The shoot hasn't even started. Mr. Gonzalez's husband left without notice so..." He paused and sighed. "...we were just about to reschedule." "What?" Bruce gasped, looking at Antonio who was still staring at him without a smile. "Praveen left before the shoot even started? Why did he do that?" "I don't know but you're like a savior." The director beamed, surprising both Antonio and Bruce. "We were about to close the shoot but I was just thinking since the original idea was to shoot Antonio with a model, why don't we shoot the two of you instead? I am sure this will be a high sale because both of you are famous." The moment Bruce heard that his heart started racing. Adrenaline started preying on him as his eyes widened. Fuck! A photoshoot with Antonio had been one of the things that he had been dreaming of since they had started dating. This was like a dream come true. Antonio on the other hand got excited the moment he heard the proposal. He couldn't even imagine how shooting with Bruce was gonna feel like. His heart was racing miles as a shiver went up and down his spine. His breaths were getting out of hand. He couldn't even wait to touch that body which turned him on. "Err... I don't know." Bruce pretended not to like the idea. "... I am not even prepared for it." "And since when did Bruce start preparing for shoots?" The director teased, dropping his hands to his hips. "From what I hear, you were born ready. Please, just accept so that we can begin." Bruce looked at Antonio and felt happy when Antonio nodded. His plans had come into action. He was gonna be the one to shoot with Antonio and not Miguel. He was gonna show the stupid little boy that he was never gonna have Antonio. "Alright..." The director told his crew to start preparing as Bruce was taken to the dressing room. It didn't take long before he finally came out, looking as gorgeous as ever in a black designer's skinny jeans with a yellow shirt that was halfway done on which a beautiful gold and diamond chain was pressed. He had yellow snickers on his shoes. His face was glowing and Antonio couldn't help but gulp. Fuck! His member was rising and he knew better than to control his hormones. Bruce's hair was tied by a band, revealing his beautiful face that Antonio just got lost into. The shoot started and boy was Antonio ready for it. They first shot with flowers all over them. Bruce was pressed on Antonio's chest, holding on tightly to his jacket while looking up at him. Their eyes were connected and they were smiling at each other. "Great!" The director commented. "That is very good. You guys have good posture and you look like you are in love." The photographer started taking pictures as Antonio and Bruce made different poses, all sexy and magnificent. The poses ranged from the both of them holding each other tightly to their faces been closer and them almost kissing. Some were sexy while others were simply beautiful and professional. "Shit! You two have great on-screen chemistry. I love it." They continued their shoot as the director continued cheering for them and the entire crew. Shit! With Bruce's body pressed so close to him and their faces almost touching, Antonio had a hard time controlling his hormones. He was hard the entire time and wanted to kiss Bruce so badly. They changed their clothes and were now in casual. They enjoyed themselves on screen and had a really good time. They changed five times and the shoots were great. "Wow!" The entire crew was now clapping hard. "This is gonna be epic, I tell you. You two were amazing out there. I am sure that this magazine will yield one of the highest sales ever. If I didn't know you, Antonio, I would have said you were lovers. You had such good chemistry." Antonio looked at his boyfriend and smiled brightly. "It is because I was given the best." Bruce blushed when he heard that. Fuck! The shoot had been so wild and passionate. He couldn't wait to kiss his waiting lover's lips when they were alone. He had a great idea of what they were gonna do for the celebration. "Well, I have never had such fun on set before." The director confessed. "Thank you so much for bringing fun back to me." Antonio greeted the director and thanked him for giving him an opportunity. "We have to go now." He said with a smile. "Alright, the magazine will be out soon. Watch out for it." Antonio and Bruce left quickly after having completed something so important. Meanwhile, Praveen who had managed to come into the room was standing there like a zombie, looking puzzled, confused, and hurt. He felt cold... his body was weak and his breaths were a little harsh. Tears had built up in his eyes and he had no idea why. He should have gotten used to Antonio and Bruce by now but it hurt so much with what he had seen. He was standing behind a big poster, watching everything that had been going on. He had finally gotten out of the room where he had been locked in thanks to a guard that had come into the room and heard him asking for help. He had rushed to set only to find his husband enjoying his time with his lover on set. The way Antonio had been holding Bruce in front of all those people... the way he had been looking at him... the way they had almost kissed... the look of lust in both their eyes. It hurt so much that he had wanted to cry. There were tears in his eyes. He had wanted to leave but the shoot was done and he had to hide in order not to be seen and made to look like a fool. "How could I have been so stupid?" He thought as he tried to fight off his tears. "This had probably been their plan all along. I shouldn't have agreed to this. I need to get out of here." To slowly rubbed his tears and started rushing out of the room. He was so confused that he didn't even see where exactly he was going. The next thing he heard was bumping hard into something that made him bounce and started rushing to the ground. He was surprised when someone caught him and pulled him back. "Oh my God, thank you so much." He said abruptly, quickly raising his face. Praveen was met with beautiful light gray eyes that pierced through his, a beautiful curved face with beards shaven... pink lips that were twitching and was welcomed by a hot breath that smelt like strawberry. "Are you okay?" The man spoke in a deep manly voice, actually smiling at him. He had a gorgeous smile. "I hope you are not hurt." Praveen slowly started moving away, looking at the man like he had just seen a ghost. His heart pounded deeper into his chest... his breaths were harsh... his body was shivering and his hands too. He was so scared. "I...I am sorry. I didn't mean to ... I wasn't thinking properly and... I am sorry." "It's okay." The man said, holding his arm tighter. He had no idea why the man was staring at him without even blinking. "I was probably the one that wasn't looking where I was going. I am sorry." Before Praveen had the chance to answer the man, the director quickly rushed to them. "Oh my God, Mr. Lopez, are you okay? I am so sorry." "It's okay." The man still had his eyes on the beautiful boy. He had never seen such a beautiful boy in his entire life before. "My name is Santiago Lopez and I own this entire company. Are you a model here?" Hearing the man's question, Praveen shook his head softly. "No! I... I came here with my husband for a photoshoot. My name is Praveen and Antonio Gonzalez is my husband." "Mr. Gonzalez?" The director gasped, looking at him from head to toe. Shit! He looked hot as hell. "Is this you? You look different. I thought you had left earlier." Praveen sighed, shaking his head. " I don't know what happened but I couldn't open the door to the dressing room. I was locked inside for only God knows how long. I didn't have my phone so I had to wait until I heard someone from the other room." "Oh my God, I am so sorry." The director felt horrible. "I didn't know about that. Someone told you had left. You probably feel bad because we called you here and you had prepared for this shoot. I am sorry but I thought you had left so your husband shot with Bruce." Praveen forced a smile, shaking his head. "It's fine." He looked at Lopez and smiled softly before he started walking away. But before he even made two steps, he felt someone hold his arm. He quickly looked and found Lopez looking at him. "Please wait!" Santiago pleaded, looking at the boy. Then he looked at the director and smiled. "It wouldn't be nice to just let him go like that. He's already prepared for the shoot. Call the model that you booked for me and tell her that she's not needed anymore. Pay her for the inconvenience caused." "But sir..." "It's fine." He looked at Praveen with a smile. "I think we've found our model. It will also make him feel better. I will have the shoot with him." Hearing what Santiago had just said, Praveen simply froze as he was dumbstruck. He couldn't believe what he was hearing. The owner of the company wanted a photoshoot with him. Did he even know who Praveen was, he thought as he looked at the man from head to toe? He looked classy, rich, and handsome. He had dark hair that was shaven on the sides and then combed back in the middle. He was putting on a black skinny jeans and a red shirt with black designer's shoes. He was a little muscular, sexy, and seemed nice. "Okay." The director left the two of them. "I am sorry." Santiago apologized, still looking at the young man. "I hope you don't mind taking this shoot with me. It will be an honor to have a photoshoot with a radiant beauty like you." It wasn't a tease and Santiago was not even into men. But there was something about Praveen that made him so desperate to have a photoshoot with him. He had never seen a man as beautiful as Praveen. Was it even legal for a man to be as beautiful as Praveen, he thought? His deep blue eyes... his innocent beautiful face... his long hair... his pink sweet lips. They all seemed so marvelous. His face looked like it was carved by angels. Fuck! None of the girls he had been with was as beautiful as the boy standing before. "I just hope it's okay with you?" Praveen remained motionless, feeling vulnerable. "I would have loved to have a shoot with my boyfriend." He remembered Antonio's painful words. Then he remembered the shoot, how Antonio and Bruce had had fun on set, and how they had almost kissed, showing everyone that they loved each other. He remembered all the pain, insults from Bruce, and all the humiliation he had ever received from Bruce. A brilliant smile lit up his face. "Not at all." He chuckled softly. "I would love to." They thought he was just a boy from the slums who had nothing on him but now he was gonna show them that he too could make great photos and be a model. He was gonna prove everyone that he too could change. But best of all, he was gonna be confident and have fun. Let the battle begin. *** The beautiful white Mercedes- AMG GLS63 parked outside the beautiful gate and the engine stopped. Then Santiago let go of his driving wheel and then looked at the beautiful boy that was seated on the other side. "We are here now." Santiago quaked, rubbing his hands. He was just so excited. "This is quite a huge place that you've got here." Praveen slowly moved his face and stared at the man, slowly nodding. "Thank you so much." He took his glasses and put them on. He was back in the clothes that had been wearing and he had removed all the makeup on his face. He looked just like he usually did. "And I am sorry if I can't let you come with me inside. It's late." "And they are your in-laws." Santiago beamed, not losing his cool. His eyes were still on Praveen. He was wearing glasses now and he looked different but Santiago thought he was beautiful. "I understand you completely. But you don't have to worry. There are other days that I can visit." Praveen nodded, slowly trying to open the door. "No, allow me." Santiago quickly left his car and rushed to open the door for Praveen. Praveen wondered why such a man would open the door for someone like him. They had just taken a photoshoot together and Praveen was happy because Santiago was a really lovely man. Although the crew had said their photoshoot had been great, he still had to wait to see it. He got out of the car, slowly tying his hair backward. "Thank you so much, Mr. Lopez." "Santiago." He corrected, chuckling to himself. "I am not that old, you know. I am only 22 years old and in case you are wondering how I have such a big company, I only inherited it recently." "Oh..." Praveen sighed. "Alright." "I had a good time, Praveen." He finally confessed. "Thank you a lot for a good time. I just hope that we'll have a time like this. I want us to be friends." Hearing Santiago's proposal, Praveen just smiled and started going slowly. Then he turned and looked at Santiago with a brilliant smile. "We'll see. Goodnight Santiago." "Goodnight." He waved at Santiago and watched as he entered his car and drove off. He knocked on the gate and entered when the guard opened the gate, bowing his head. He gave a small smile and started going inside. It was already dark, almost 8. Pm and he knew he had to explain where he had just come from. As he was slowly going, he heard a car honk and the huge gate opening. He turned to find Antonio's car entering slowly. He just took a deep breath and then started walking away. But then the car stopped beside him and the back windows opened, revealing Antonio who was busy smiling at him. "Hey! Where are you coming from at this time?" He was just so excited. Praveen simply ignored him and just walked away. But he heard the door opening and closing and then Antonio rushing towards him. Antonio wanted to mock Praveen and that what he was gonna do. He ordered the guard to park the car and he remained with Praveen. "So how was the photoshoot for you? Did you enjoy it?" He asked happily, walking beside Praveen. Praveen sighed, walking even faster. "Antonio, please, don't ask me that. I am sure you noticed that I wasn't there." "Oh, right, so that was the reason why I enjoyed it so much." He laughed in mock. "Wherever you had gone, may the almighty continue to bless you because I have never had so much fun on a photoshoot my entire life. That was fun." Praveen eyed Antonio, shaking his head. "Well, you don't have to explain it to me because I saw how happy you were." "You did." "Yes and for your information, while you and Bruce were romancing all over the set, I was locked in a room and it seemed like none of you cared." He was hurt and Antonio could hear it in his voice but he didn't give a hoot about how he felt. "Thank you so much, Antonio, for this. Now I know I made a really big mistake accepting that shoot. I should have rejected the idea because it seemed like I wasn't needed." Antonio gripped Praveen's hand, pulling him closer. "I am glad you feel that way. Destiny has a way of pulling tricks, you know. Maybe you weren't destined for this life. But even destiny knows that Bruce and I are soul mates." Praveen pulled his hand from Antonio's grip and started heading inside the house with Antonio right behind him. When they arrived, they found granny, Emilia, and Celine waiting for them inside the house. When they saw them, they all rushed to them with smiles all over their faces. "There's my pretty babies," Granny said, taking Praveen's hands. "You took longer than we had expected. I am guessing everything turned out just fine, right?" Praveen looked at Antonio and sighed, shaking his head. He needed to tell them that he had a photoshoot but not with Antonio. "Well, granny, the truth is..." "I had a great time, granny," Antonio said happily, winking at Praveen. "I don't know about him but I enjoyed it." "Progress," Emilia said. She couldn't believe what she was hearing from her son. Maybe the almighty had decided to bring such an opportunity for them to get closer. "Now you're making me nervous about the magazine coming out." "What's to be nervous about, mother?" Celine asked, nodding her head. "I am sure the crew was blown away by this lovely couple. We'll have to wait for a few days to see the magazine." "You're right, Celine." She jabbered, moving her head from side to side. "We won't ask anymore." She took Praveen's chin and raised his head. "I know you are really tired. Why don't you go upstairs so that you can freshen up and then come down to have your dinner?" "That's a good idea because I am starving." Antonio kissed his granny and rushed upstairs. Praveen watched as he went and then followed him there. He was only on the second floor, walking in the hallway before he suddenly stopped when he saw Bruce standing in front of him with a mocking smile on his face. Seeing Bruce, Praveen's mood simply got ruined. His heart started pounding deep in his chest as he clenched his fists. His body felt both hot and cold. And as if that wasn't enough, he felt depressed and tired. He started passing but something made him stop... "Look at you, poor little soul," Bruce spoke with utter mock in his voice. "I pity you. Did you think you could have a photoshoot with Antonio and I would just let it go like that? Then you must be very stupid indeed." "What can he do?" Praveen heard Andrea's voice near him. He didn't even bother to look in her direction. "After all, Antonio is like one of the hottest men alive. We can't blame him for thinking that way." "But he also shouldn't forget that we are always a step ahead of him." Bruce trilled, folding his arms on his chest. "Never will I allow him to get closer to my soul mate." Praveen didn't want to talk to any of them so he just breathed and started going away. "Where are you going?" Bruce gripped his arm, pulling him back. "Don't you wanna hear what happened to you?" "And what have you to tell me?" Praveen furiously released his arm. "I am begging you in the name of the Almighty." He put his hands together, looking into Bruce's face. "I am very tired and I don't have time for your troubles." "Troubles?" Andrea laughed. "Your troubles haven't even started. But you can end them by just divorcing my brother. It's as simple as that." Praveen looked at her and was met with her mocking eyes. "Well, I don't have any relationship with Antonio. He can do whatever it is that he wants. And yes..." He tore his eyes from her, now looking at Bruce. "...you don't have to tell me anything because I saw everything for myself. I also know that you probably had something to do with me being locked in that room so that I couldn't do the shoot but..." "Wow, you did your homework." Bruce chuckled, dropping his hands to his hips. "Well, I guess you saw us on set, how close we were, and how..." He moaned, moving his body like he was horny. "...we were so close to kissing each other on set. I am pretty sure that we were only seconds away from making love there." Shit! Bruce was definitely out of his mind. "You should have heard the director's comments." He moaned in a low voice. "He could tell we were meant to be. We had such good chemistry together. The way Antonio was holding me tightly... the way he was breathing on my neck... the closeness of our lips and our hearts being one. That is something that you'll never have with Antonio because he's mine." "Good!" Praveen smiled brightly, surprising Bruce even more. "That is something that we agree on. I am not interested in Antonio's love so you can have him. But you should also realize that Antonio and I are married so whatever it is that you say to me doesn't matter. You can act like a whore all you want..." He couldn't believe that came out of his mouth. "...but the fact still remains that we are married... the entire city knows that we are married... the almighty also knows that we are married. What about you, Bruce? What does the world know you as?" Bruce's mouth was wide open, his breaths coming out harshly with his fists clenched. Fuck! Praveen's words hurt him so much that he got really angry. He was surprised. "You're boasting about your achievements but what I saw back there..." He snapped his fingers right in Bruce's face, making him move back. "...was nothing but a photoshoot and that's what the entire world will see just like the director and the entire crew saw it. You see coming back at this time with Antonio..." He chuckled, chirping. "Do you have any idea where I was or what I did? You're boasting about your achievements but your work is just a contract that can be terminated so no... I am not scared of you, Bruce." He furiously turned and left Bruce there looking like a lost puppy. Damn, even Andrea was surprised. For the first time, Praveen had the guts to answer them back and it almost sounded like an insult. "Fuck!" Bruce cursed, breathing like a predator. "Did you hear that? I swear I am gonna kill that boy. Who does he think he is to insult me like that?" "Calm down..." "Calm down?" Bruce looked at her furiously. "I was just insulted and you want me to remain calm? That boy is gonna pay. I will make his life so miserable that he will regret ever been born." When Praveen reached his room, he quickly closed it and breathed in deeply. He was wondering what had just happened back there when he had been talking to Bruce. He had gotten so angry that he had blurted all those things to Bruce. What was happening? "I need to freshen up." He grabbed a towel and quickly went into the bathroom without even thinking about it. When he entered, he went straight to the hot tub where bubbles were already made as if they had just been waiting for him to bath. It was gonna be his second time having a bubble bath so he had to enjoy it and just relax and forget about his bad day. He sat at the edge of the tub, passing his hands in the bubbles. A smile popped up his face as he slowly started getting hold of the hem his shirt. "What do you think you are doing?" He heard Antonio's voice behind him. He quickly stood up and found him shirtless with only a towel wrapped around his waist. He was muscular and he had a small tattoo just above his left nipple. Wait, how come he hadn't seen it before, he thought? But he didn't wanna stare too much so he looked at the face of his husband and raised his eyebrow. "What do you think?" He teased, breathing in deeply. "I came here to relax." "No!" Antonio dropped his arms, moving closer to the boy. "You found me here so get out. Besides, I didn't even hear you knock. Were you trying to see me naked or some..." "Look, Mr. don't be so sure of yourself." He gestured, dropping his hand to his hip. "I came here to have my bath so you're the one who should go out until I am done with my bath. I didn't find you here." "Oh?" Antonio laughed, failing to believe what he was hearing. "Get out! I was in the toilet but that doesn't mean that I wasn't here first. I prepared that hot bath so please, get out. I need to relax." "No!" Praveen was tired and he wasn't gonna go anywhere. "You found me here so you should go out." He turned and just stood still, waiting for Antonio to leave so that he could bath. Meanwhile, Antonio was just smirking, shaking his head slowly. He knew how to deal with boys like Praveen that always thought they could win against him. He knew exactly what to do. He slowly moved his hands to his towel, letting it go. He was now standing in only his tight brief. "You wanna play it like that then it's fine by me." He slowly moved his hands to Praveen's shoulder, massaging them. A bolt of electricity passed through Praveen's entire body, making him feel like he was standing on a cable of electricity. Antonio's hands on his shoulder felt like a powerful flame that was melting him. His breaths instantly changed and his entire body started quivering. His eyes widened as a whole new different feeling took control of him. That was the second time he felt like that when Antonio held him. The first time had been when Antonio had put the wedding chain around his neck. He felt Antonio's breath on his neck and he closed his eyes, fear taking control of him. "W-what are you doing?" His voice sounded different. Antonio knew what he was doing. He was teasing the boy to make him get out of his way. He chuckled teasingly, moving closer to his neck. "What do you think? I am claiming what belongs to me and you're not gonna deny me that." Praveen's heart started pounding deep in his chest, his breaths getting even heavier. He had never been so scared in his entire life before. He was visibly scared of the huge man behind him. He had no idea what Antonio mean by "claiming what was his." It scared him to the core. "Antonio... please..." His voice was barely above a whisper. "Just leave me so that I can bath." Antonio laughed and then did something even crazier. He slowly moved in front of Praveen and looked in his eyes, seeing how scared he was. He knew what Praveen was thinking but even at the time when he was horniest, he wouldn't dare touch Praveen. "You said you weren't leaving right?" He slowly got into the tab with his hand moving to Praveen's wrist. "Then I am just gonna bath while you watch. Isn't that what you want?" Praveen's eyes widened when he saw that Antonio was always wearing a tight boxer. Shit! He got even scared when he saw the outline of that bulge in his pants. He couldn't believe Antonio's craziness had reached that far. "What are you doing? Get out of there." Praveen said with a serious face. "I need to bath. I am tired. And put some clothes on, will you?" "Why?" Antonio slowly moved his hands to his boxer brief, carefully touching its hem. "I thought you didn't wanna leave so I will bath with you watching. After all, I am your husband right." He started pulling his boxer down and the moment Praveen saw his pubes, he quickly closed his eyes and turned so that his back was facing Antonio. He was breathing so harshly that he felt as if his heart was making a hole in his chest. It was too much. He was instantly sweating. Antonio took off his boxer and threw it to the floor. He was standing in the hot tub, behind Praveen with a semi-hard cock, grinning at the boy. He couldn't believe how naïve Praveen was. He was acting like a scared virgin when Antonio very well knew he probably wasn't one. "Why did you turn around?" He mocked, moving his hand to Praveen's shoulder. He felt him shudder. "I thought you wanted to see everything. Besides, I am sure seeing a celebrity naked would have been a great achievement, right? After all, you wanted to see me naked." "P-please, put some clothes on and get out." He trembled. "I... I... I need to..." "What? Are you afraid now?" He couldn't believe it. "I thought we are married. Besides, shouldn't we be getting used to each other's nakedness? You wanted to..." "I am out of here." Praveen started walking away but Antonio's hand was quick to grab him and pull him back. Praveen gasped, quickly rushing towards his husband. He bumped hard into him and both of them fell into the hot tub. The tub was really big and Antonio fell on his butt but then Praveen was charging at him so he fell on top of him and both of them went under the water. When they came out, Antonio was holding on tightly to Praveen's wrist and Praveen was gasping. His clothes were wet... His hair was wet and he was lucky he didn't have his glasses on. He came out quickly, rubbed the soap from his face, and when he opened his eyes, he just met with Antonio's beautiful, shining green eyes that seemed to pierce through his. Their faces were close to each other, feeling each other's breaths as they both breathed. Everything suddenly disappeared. It was just the two of them there. There was no love or hate in that area as they looked at each other. Everything seemed perfect, different from the way they usually saw it. Then suddenly Praveen came to his senses and he quickly got out of the tub, rushing out of the bathroom with his dripping wet clothes. When he got out, he leaned with his back on the door, breathing as a predator had just been chasing him. He remembered how Antonio had pulled him in the bathtub, how they had looked at each other, and how he had felt when Antonio had rested his hand on his shoulder. What was happening to him, he thought as he rubbed on his face, trying to make himself calm. "Have pity on yourself, Praveen." He spoke, slowly slapping his cheeks. "Please, that was nothing." He couldn't believe that one moment he had hated Antonio and the next moment, he had felt something that he shouldn't have felt in the first place. It was all so confusing. He quickly took a towel, wrapped it around his head, and got out of the room. *** It was weekend and that meant that everyone was home already. No one went to work on weekends unless it was really important. That was the rule of the house. That was the day for them to spend time together as a happy family. That meant Eduardo too was home. But to the surprise of Praveen, Bruce too had come. He never understood why Bruce had suddenly been constantly visiting. The man only caused him nothing but trouble. It had been three days after the photoshoot and after Praveen and Antonio's bathtub incident. The next day, Antonio had been back to his annoying self and had started getting on Praveen's nerves once again, warning and insulting him. He had been doing everything, spending time with his elders, and also cooking while spending time with Celine and little Ryan. Praveen had also found out that Emma didn't only show him the side she did, she also didn't like Celine because she hadn't approved of her marriage to Eduardo in the first place plus the issue with the child thing. Since Celine's marriage into the family, she hadn't gotten pregnant and probably that made Emma angry. Anyway, Praveen was busy making sure that everything in the room was perfect. He had told the maids that he would clean the room himself and that was what he was doing. He had cleaned the bathroom, did his husband's laundry, ironed and now he was just making sure everything was in place. He went to the table and started arranging. He tried to pick Antonio's laptop so that he could put it somewhere safe but to his surprise, the laptop fell apart and one part fell to the floor and broke. "Oh my God," He gasped, quickly putting the other part with the keyboard on the table. "What is happening?" He took the other part, held it, and wondered what the hell had just happened. He hadn't touched the laptop and now it was falling apart. Now he was scared because he knew that that was Antonio's favorite laptop and he was gonna blame him for it. He put the laptop back on the table, trying to see what had happened but... "What the fuck do you think you are doing?" He gasped, quickly moving his eyes in the direction of the voice. His fears took him down when he saw Antonio's angry face looking at the laptop. Antonio was really mad... his fists were clenched... His anger had taken over... his body was shaking and his voice was quaking. He was really mad. His laptop, his favorite laptop had just been broken and he had a lot of things in it. "What the fuck..." "Antonio, I..." "How many times have I told you to stop touching the things I love?" He barked, furiously gripping the broken piece. "Now look what the fuck you've done." He angrily threw it on the floor, letting it break into pieces. "Do you know how many important documents were in that thing?" "Antonio, I am sorry. But..." "But?" He chuckled sinisterly then losing it all. He was burning in anger. "You can't even accept your mistakes. All you know how to do is be defensive. Will your sorry fix my laptop?" Praveen was surprised at Antonio's behavior. He had never acted like that before. "Antonio, please, let me explain. I was sweeping and..." "Will you shut the fuck up?" He snapped, pointing angrily at him. Praveen was sure that people on that floor were able to hear them. He was just hoping no one was around there. "I know you're hell-bent on destroying me but please, get my work out of this? You don't even know how important that laptop was and..." "I said I am sorry." Praveen snapped, getting angry at Antonio. Antonio was left dumbfounded. "I have been trying to tell you this but you haven't been listening to me. I was only sweeping but I never broke your laptop. I only found it like that when..." "Oh..." Antonio laughed, losing his entire cool. "So now it has grown legs and it broke itself." "I didn't say that." Praveen sighed. "But can you please, calm down and..." "Calm down my ass." Antonio furiously stamped his foot on the floor, scaring Praveen who took a few steps back. "But why am I even talking to you. You don't understand the value of these things. You only know how to act stupid the entire time. What's wrong with you? You're such a disaster." Fuck! It hurt. It hurt a whole lot when Antonio said that to Praveen. Tears built up in his eyes and he couldn't say anything. He couldn't even open his mouth because things were only gonna get worse for him. "Antonio!" Suddenly a deep manly voice was heard. It was Eduardo, dressed in a black cargo short and white t-shirt with his hair combed backward. He was looking surprised, a bit mad. He couldn't believe he had just heard that from Antonio. Those had been harsh words, even if someone did something wrong. Antonio was supposed to understand because Praveen was not just anybody. He was his spouse. "What do you think you are doing?" He shouted at his brother who immediately dropped his face to the floor. "What if it hadn't been me? What if it was mom or granny that had come into this room? He sounded really angry. "Praveen isn't just anyone. He is..." "He broke my laptop and you know I don't joke with...' "I broke your laptop," Eduardo yelled, slightly hitting his brother's chest. Antonio remained speechless when he heard that. His eyes widened and he felt stupid. He looked at Praveen and saw tears going down his cheeks. Fuck! He felt terrible for shouting at him even if he knew he shouldn't have. "What now?" Eduardo laughed in mock. "Aren't you gonna shout at me now? Why are you quiet? Why don't you shout at me and beat me up maybe?" he angrily pushed Antonio, making him take a step back. He got so scared because he had never seen his brother so mad at him. "Go on and beat me. Insult me too. Why have you kept quiet?" "Bro, how..." "I was in the living room when I accidentally slapped your laptop off the table where you left it carelessly yesterday." His voice was angry. "It broke and I came here to tell you and apologize. I didn't find you here so I left it on the table so that I could come and tell you later." "I didn't know..." He looked at Praveen and the boy just looked away, rubbing his tears. "...I thought that..." "You're very stupid and I am so disappointed, Antonio." Eduardo bellowed, slowly turning to face the boy. He could tell that he was really hurt and it somehow broke his heart. "I am sorry, Praveen, for this insult. Please, forgive me for..." "No!" Praveen held Eduardo's hands, smiling softly at him. "Eduardo, it was just a mistake and there is nothing to forgive. You are like an elder brother to me." He smiled and lost it when he looked at his brother who looked busted. "You see! This is how lucky you are for having such a boy in your life. Apologize to him." He ordered. Hearing his brother, Antonio sighed and then raised his face to look into Praveen's eyes. He was so sorry for shouting at him for no reason as his brother said to him. He shouldn't have snapped like that. He knew Praveen deserved to suffer but he shouldn't have shouted. "I am..." "Why should he apologize?" Emma came cat walking inside the room. "Why, uh?" Everyone moved their eyes to her and saw her coming towards them with a frown. She had heard the whole commotion as she was passing and she didn't appreciate what she had heard at all. Antonio hadn't done anything to apologize to someone who didn't deserve it. "Aunt, he..." "Some people in this house are like servants," Emma said in anger, looking straight at Praveen. "When they do something they need to be reprimanded. So why should my son apologize to a person that doesn't even deserve it?' "What?" Eduardo couldn't have been more surprised. "Do you even hear yourself, aunt? He just shouted at him for something he didn't even do. I broke the laptop and besides, there are a lot of new laptops in this house. He can just use one and get the hard drive from the broken one to retrieve everything and..." "Yes! He needed to be angry because everything in this house is expensive." She shouted in Praveen's face. "Can he even afford that? He can't, right?" "But aunt..." "Get out of here, Eduardo before I lose my temper." She warned. "An