Alexandra grinned brightly as soon as she saw me entering their clinic.
“Isaac! You’re here!”
“Hello,” I greeted. “Sorry for the sudden visit.”
“Oh, it’s quite alright, dear. We don’t get a lot of visitors anyway,” she said.
Isaac entered the lobby and greeted Alexandra with his usual bored voice.
“You’re here to visit the kid Clark brought, aren’t you?” she asked.
“Yes,” I answered. “I’m...he...he’s my friend.”
Alexandra blinked at me and without even saying anything, she scowled in understanding.
“Well, your friend is badly beaten up. Luckily, we patched him up but...he’s not gonna be the same as before,” she informed.
I felt my heart breaking after hearing that.
“I-is that so,” I said, my voice trembling.
Isaac glanced at me.
“Whatever he did, he made Clark really mad,” Alexandra commented with a sigh. “He really doesn’t know how to keep his temper. Just like his father, right, Isaac?”
I heard Isaac sighing.
“I don’t want to comment.”
Alexandra giggled from his reply.
“It’s not like he’s gonna hear it,” she teased.
I jolted when I saw Maxim getting out in one of the rooms in the long corridor to the right. He quickly noticed me and Isaac.
“What are you doing here?” he asked.
“We’re just visiting Georgy,” I nervously answered. “The guy that Clark brought here.”
Maxim rolled his eyes.
“He’s not gonna be walking for three months because of what he did,” he said, walking towards us and standing beside his wife.
“Clark told us he’s gonna pay for his medications until he get better.”
I gulped. Remembering Isaac’s words, Clark’s going to keep Georgy alive, I don’t know until when, but he wanted him to suffer for as long as he could because of what he did to me.
“Is it alright if I see him?”
Maxim narrowed his eyes at me.
He led me to the annex where the in-patient were being kept and taken care of. Like what Alexandra said, they don’t have a lot of patients. Georgy’s the only one they’re taking care as of the moment. He’s in the ICU and as I viewed him behind the glass meant for visitors, my heart ached again for the nth time.
Georgy was in his hospital robe, lying down on the bed unconscious with multiple cords attached in his arms.
I could tell Isaac was observing me but I kept to myself, staring at Georgy’s miserable state all because of me.
This was my fault.
“I’m so sorry, Georgy,” I mumbled, touching the glass while fighting back the tears. “I’m so, so, so sorry.”
It was Tuesday when Clark finally decided to let me go to school. I missed a lot of classes already and I have been bugging Clark to let me go to school. I wanted to finish it and I’m going to do it whatever it takes.
Clark drove me to school since Isaac had an errand to do. Whatever it was, he didn’t tell me. I’m sure it’s Mafia related, as usual.
We were quiet inside the car, not uttering a word to each other. For some reason, I couldn’t talk to Clark after knowing what happened to Georgy after.
When we got near the school, I finally muster all my courage to speak to Clark.
“Clark,” I called his name.
“I have a favor to ask you.”
The car entered the school and Clark found a vacant lot to park it. When he did, he pulled the stick to park and finally looked at me.
“Please let Georgy go.”
One simple request and yet it felt like I’m begging for my life in front of a person who had the power to take it. I began sweating bullets, anxiously waiting for Clark’s reply and readying myself for whatever he’s going to say to me.
My heart skipped a beat and I instantly jerked my head to look at Clark.
“I’ll do it but in one condition.”
“W-what is it?” I asked enthusiastically.
I’m ready to do anything to let Georgy get away from Clark’s hands.
Whatever it takes.
Clark smirked at me, giving me a sinister look.
“You’re going to quit school.”
It felt as if my heart stopped. I stared at Clark with wide eyes, not knowing what to react or what to say to him.
“You’re going to give all your time in training and becoming the next leader of the Orlov group. If you want to let that douchebag go, I’ll send someone to take care of your papers here in school and only then will I let him go.”
“Is he that important to you that you’re going to give up something you want?” Clark asked sarcastically, his eyes gleaming in danger. “You want to finish school, right?”
I remained quiet. My mind was in a disarray.
I wanted to finish school. I’m not ready to fully commit myself in the Mafia business. I wanted to at least fulfill everything I wouldn’t able to do when I become a Mafia boss. Going to school, attending classes just like a normal teenager, hanging out with Valery, participating in club activities, I wanted to experience it all until I graduate.
I lowered my head and my shoulder dropped in disappointment.
Even if I refuse Clark’s condition, he had the power over me.
I clenched my fists, biting my lower lip in frustration.
“Fucking faggot,” he cursed, spitting on me. “Don’t ever talk to me again, you understand?!”
Georgy’s insulting words echoed in my mind.
Was he worth sacrificing an ounce of my happiness?
I didn’t even notice the tears flowing out of my eyes. I sobbed, wiping my tears with the back of my hand.
Clark heaved a sigh. He reached out for me to grab my shoulders, pulling me close so that I would end up crying on his chest. It was as if a dam exploded inside me and I started crying wailing, clutching his shirt as I buried my face on his chest. Clark was caressing my back in a comforting manner and patiently waited for me to calm down.
His shirt was drenched with my tears but he doesn’t seem to mind. Instead, he kissed the top of my head and it made me cry even harder.
The condition he gave me was too hard. It’s going to break me if I become a Mafia leader without finishing school. I know graduating was going to be useless in this kind of life but I wanted to live normally. I wanted to do everything before I got caged into the underground world.
Because I’m aware that there’s no turning back once I enter the lion’s den.
And I didn’t want any regrets.
But Georgy’s life depends on me as well. If I did quit school, I’m going to save him from the misery Clark’s going to inflict him.
“Don’t worry. I won’t let you quit school.”
Clark tipped my chin so that we could look at each others eyes. I couldn’t paint the hundreds of emotions flashing through that blue orbs of his.
“But...but what about Georgy?” I asked in worry. “Please, Clark, please don’t let him live like this...”
He didn’t tore his gaze away from me and was just caressing his thumb over my cheek to wipe my tears.
Smiling, he sighed.
“I’m going to give you a task and the prize is that bastards freedom.”
“A task? What is it?” I inquired.
“You’re going to Italy to convince the leader of the Italians to work with the Russians.”
I was frozen like a stone, eyes bulging out of its sockets in realization.
I heard Alyona’s voice yelling my name but I was too preoccupied with what Clark said in the car. Dad’s spent a whole lot of time in Italy to convince the leader of the Blaise group, the strongest and largest Mafia family in Italy and he haven’t come close to making him work with us. How could someone like me, weak and a coward, convince someone as scary as Hiro Blaise? From what people have said about him, he’s definitely a terrifying man and if I make one wrong move, he had the power to kill me just for pissing him off.
But this was better than quitting school. If Georgy’s freedom was the prize, I’m willing to do it.
Alyona jerked my shoulder to make me look at her. When I did, she was sporting a worried look albeit the excited smile on her face.
“Hi, Alyona,” I weakly greeted. “What’s wrong?”
She creased her brows and said, “what’s wrong with you?”
“Uhm, it’s nothing. Sorry. Tough morning.”
Alyona tapped my shoulders reassuringly.
“Be happy, Drew! Your photo got shortlisted by the judges! You have a bigger chance winning the competition and going to New York! Isn’t it amazing?!”
I blinked, barely forgetting the thing about Italy.
“Yep! I really like the photo you took. It’s so...surreal and mysterious and I’m sure the final judges will like it as well,” she said.
“But...I’m not a member of the Photography club. Won’t it be unfair for the others?” I asked.
Alyona rolled her eyes.
“You don’t have to worry about it because I already put your name in the members of the club,” she said, cheekily grinning at me.
My jaw dropped in disbelief.
“What?! Why did you do that?!”
“I asked Valery if she thinks you really wanna join the club and she said yes. We both know how much you love photography and I saw it with my own eyes when we were in the cruise,” Alyona informed, smiling kindly at me. “I want you to cultivate your talent, Drew. You have an eye.”
I was struck with her words. Not a lot of people appreciate my love for photography and to be told that I have a talent for it was overwhelming. I briefly wondered what it’s like to leave the Mafia and chase my dream.
But I know deep inside that it was useless.
So instead of wallowing in regret, I nodded my head and finally smiled at Alyona, thankful that she made a move that I was too afraid to do.
“Thank you, Alyona. I really appreciate that.”
Aside for Valery, Alyona’s always been supportive of my love for photography. I’m so grateful I have friends like them. Even though they’re few in numbers, I know I could count on them in time of need.
“No worries! I know you can win this competition. This is gonna be a big step for your career,” she said before walking away, waving at me.
I held my chest. I couldn’t stop smiling.
It’s gonna be okay, Drew.
One more year in school’s a long time to fulfill my wishes of becoming a normal teenager.
It’s going to be okay.
Classes finished early. There were a lot of homework for me because I missed a lot of classes but it was okay. I’m glad I have homework to bury myself busy tonight and not think of the future ahead.
After putting my things in my locker, I was greeted by Clark who magically appeared after missing his class, yet again. He was wearing a white dress shirt, a few buttons open to let everyone see his muscled chest, grey slacks and black Oxford shoes. The girls who were walking through the corridor ogled at Clark and there were even some who stopped just to admire him.
I pouted. I don’t like it when they look at Clark like that.
“Let’s go eat dinner,” Clark said, ignoring the heated gazes for the women surrounding him.
We walked down the hallway and out of the building to go to the parking lot. Clark already took my bag to carry it for me and I was curious to why he’s acting nice so sudden.
Did something happen?
We entered the Lexus he was always driving. I sat beside the drivers seat, put the seat belt on and watch Clark did the same too.
“Where are we eating?” I asked.
“Diana invited us to eat in this fancy restaurant. Tonight’s her flight and I’m gonna drive her to the airport.”
I nodded and said, “okay.”
The drive to the restaurant was silent, as usual. I was tired from school but it didn’t bother me. I was glad I’m back living my life like a regular teenager.
Clark woke me up when I fell asleep during the ride. I rubbed my eyes and yawned, looking around the place to see where we were.
The name of the restaurant was Sveta. It looked fancy, just like what Clark said.
“Are you okay?”
I glanced at Clark and he had already taken his seat belt off, looking at me.
“Yeah, I’m fine. I’m hungry,” I said, shyly smiling at him.
He returned it and said that he was feeling the same as well.
We got out of the car and headed inside the restaurant to meet with Diana. A waiter who was expecting us greeted us. He guided Clark and I to Diana who was waiting in one of the VIP section of the restaurant. She was wearing an off-shoulder red dress, a necklace with diamonds adorning her neck. The bright red lipstick matched her dress and Diana looked stunning as she ever was. No wonder she’s Clark’s little sister. I’m sure they won the genetic lottery for having faces like that.
“Drew! Clark! I’m glad you’re here,” she greeted, grinning at us.
Clark sat directly in front of his sister and I sat beside him.
“Thanks for inviting me out to dinner,” I said to Diana, “this place is really nice.”
“Yeah, our dad once owned this place,” Diana informed and I saw the flash of danger sparking Clark’s eyes but his sister ignored it.
“Yes,” she replied, “our dad owned a lot of places back in the day.”
“Oh. Was your father an influential man before?”
“You can say that.”
I was about to ask what his father’s name was but Clark interrupted me. He told me to pick what I wanted to eat. After I was done ordering my food, I told the waiter who was standing beside us what I wanted and Clark did the same as well.
I settled back on my seat, feeling sleepy. It’s been a long day.
We all looked at Clark who’s phone just lit up, indicating that someone was contacting him. His eyes narrowed after reading the name flashing on the screen before pushing his chair back and walking away from us. I briefly wondered who called him.
“So,” Diana started, her brows wiggling in excitement, “how is it?”
I blinked, confused.
“Huh? How’s what?”
She giggled and even playfully smacked my arm.
“Oh come on, Drew! Stop playing coy! I wanna know how’s it like going out with my brother!”
I almost choked with my own saliva after hearing what she said. I couldn’t stop my cheeks from heating and I know I’m a blushing mess right now and she’s definitely going to tease me about it.
“W-we’re not going out...I think,” I said, adding the last part with a disappointed voice.
Clark haven’t talked about being an official couple and with things going on right now, it’s hard to think about it. We did have sex but was that enough to assume that we’re lovers now?
I need some kind of confirmation.
“It’s obvious the boss likes you and he’s definitely changing because of you.”
I remembered Isaac’s words and it made my heart swell in anticipation. Diana brought me back to reality by patting my shoulder while grinning at me.
“You know, my brother’s an unemotional man. He kind of took it after my father, it’s annoying sometimes. But even if he doesn’t say much, he has his ways to show his love,” she said, winking at me.
I pondered for a moment.
Clark’s been ridiculously gentle these days apart for what he did when he made me choose between school and Georgy.
“What’s Clark like before, Diana?” I asked with a hushed voice, afraid that Clark might get back any second and hear me asking about his past. “Did he have past lovers? What’re they like? How long did they last? Any person he considers special?”
Diana stared at me before laughing out loud, letting me feel I asked her something outrageous.
“W-why are you laughing?!” I snapped.
“Sorry! It’s just that my brother never really had a proper relationship. He never dated. Well, he did had a brief affair with that one Filipino girl back in the day but it wasn’t serious and I’m sure he was just jealous of Hiro and Paige’s relationship but other than that, he never gotten it with anyone,” Diana answered, smiling.
Hiro and Paige? Filipino girl? What?
“You’re the first person I have seen Clark to be this serious,” she added.
“How can you tell he’s serious?”
“Because he’s my brother. Perhaps it’s instinct but every time Clark looks at you, he’s just so...into you, you get me?”
My cheeks felt hot again and I didn’t know what kind of expression I was making in front of Diana.
“Trust me, Drew. Clark is so in love with you.”
In the end, I couldn’t eat properly because of the things Diana told me. If she was convinced that Clark was in love with me, then it’s safe for me to assume that we’re lovers now, right?
Clark dropped me off at the house before going back to theirs to pick up Diana’s things.
Having the same kind of personality as Valery, I grew warm to her presence and would terribly miss her. Diana gave me her number and told me to give her updates about my relationship with Clark.
I wanted to see her off but I still had a lot of homework to finish tonight.
When I got back, Isaac was in the porch, talking to two men. Seeing me, he dismissed them.
“Hey,” he greeted.
I gave him a tired smile.
“You ate dinner, right?”
“Yeah, I did.”
“Your dad’s coming back. He’s scheduled to leave Italy tonight.”
I grunted. Dad coming back meant nothing to me since his absence didn’t really matter. Even if he’s here, I don’t usually cares because it doesn’t make a difference if he’s here or not.
But then again, he was still my dad and I’m happy that nothing bad happened to him while he’s in Italy.
“The boss filled me in. You’re going to Italy to do what your father couldn’t, right?”
“If my father couldn’t do it, what makes you think I can?” I sarcastically asked, scowling.
Isaac smiled at me.
“You’re different from your father. Besides, the leader of the Italian Mafia is unpredictable. Maybe you can convince him after all,” he said.
“You think so?”
There’s only one way to find out.