I turned around and Valery was walking towards me together with her friends in the Photography club. Clark stayed sitting beside me, with his arms crossed in front of his chest. His eyes were closed and I assumed that he was sleeping.
What he said a while ago kept circling my mind.
He had two fathers? That meant he grew up in a gay family.
I wonder…what kind of family he had.
I’m pretty sure it’s much better than mine.
One of the girls together with Valery gasped when she saw Clark beside me.
“Clark’s here!” she exclaimed, excitedly grabbing Valery. “I wanna take a picture with him!”
“Yeah, me too!”
I pouted but didn’t say anything.
“Ssssh, don’t disturb him, he’s sleeping,” Valery said, grinning at the girls. “Drew, let’s go for a swim!”
I blinked at her.
“Yeah, there’s a swimming pool here and the view is amazing! Let’s go!”
I felt nervous all of a sudden because I didn’t know how to swim. As embarrassing as it may sound, considering how in love I am with the ocean, I’m not just good when I’m in the water. The thought of not being able to breath was scary.
“S-sure,” I said, forcing a smile at Valery.
I stood up but Clark suddenly grabbed my hand. I snapped my head at him, surprised that he was awake after all.
“What is it?” I asked.
Clark smiled but I could see he was beyond exhausted. Come to think of it, he looked like he didn’t get any sleep for days.
“I’ll come with you,” he said.
Valery looked at Clark.
“You sure about that, Clark?”
He nodded, standing up while the girls squealed in delight.
Clark and I went to our rooms to change clothes. Thanks to Valery, I get to be in a room with my crush. I needed to treat her for what she did to me, she’s really the best friend I could ever have.
Opening the door, Clark let me enter first. I stepped inside and walked straight to my bag to change clothes.
I heard the door being closed. I faced Clark to tell him why he was tired but I bit my tongue when I saw him taking his shirt off.
“Ow!” I hissed, feeling the sting in my tongue.
Clark looked at me.
I nervously laughed.
“Y-yeah, I’m fine.”
I turned my back against him to stop myself from ogling his naked chest.
I really needed to treat Valery for what she did.
Taking my shirt and shorts off, I changed into my swimming clothes. Nothing fancy, just a plain colored gray shorts that I brought especially for this occasion.
I accidentally looked at the window and there, I saw Clark’s reflection who was changing behind me. He was already half-way putting his shorts. I barely saw his crotch before he could fully put his shorts on.
I shook my head to stop myself from thinking dirty things. It’s not nice to see someone in that light.
“You ready?” Clark asked.
I nodded, feeling a little bit embarrassed due to the difference of our body. I’m skinny, all bones and no muscles while Clark looked like he was some model or something. It’s obvious he was working out. The muscles in his arms, legs and the chiseled abs proved it
“Wow,” I absently said, staring at him with sparkling eyes.
He’s just too perfect.
It’s scary, almost.
Clark was wearing a navy blue swimming shorts with white lines on the edges. He looked stunning even though he was wearing something simple.
“Let’s go?” he said as he pull his towel, slinging it over his shoulder.
We arrived at the swimming pool deck and it was crowded with people, from old ones to kids. Some were chilling in the beach chairs, enjoying the sunshine. I felt excited even though I didn’t know how to swim.
I heard Valery calling me. I looked for her but Clark quickly spotted her and I followed him to where Valery was. She was with Alyona and Oleg and they were all in the pool already.
I sat down on the edge, grinning at them.
“Wow, aren’t you a sexy hunk?” I heard Alyona saying as she eyed Clark who was standing beside me.
My eyes roamed around and everyone was gawking at Clark.
I puffed my cheeks, annoyed that they were staring.
I didn’t liked that.
“Hi, Drew!” Oleg greeted, swimming towards me while grinning wide. “Aren’t you gonna go in?”
I blinked at him and laughed a little.
“M-maybe later,” I said, stalling because I didn’t want to go in yet.
He was having trouble with his hair because it kept sticking on his face. I chuckled, pulling him close to me so that I could brush it away.
“You look silly,” I teased.
Oleg stared at me.
“What is it?” I asked.
He was flustered, forcing himself to laugh.
“You should go in, the water’s great!” Oleg said before swimming away from me.
I watched him in worry. What’s wrong with him?
Valery got out of water, sitting beside me. She was wearing a bathing suit and I got to admit, even though I’m gay, she was hot. Way better than anyone here, to be honest.
“Hey, Val!” a girl who was also in the club with her, called. “Let’s go over there!”
Valery waved her hand, grinning.
The group of girls gave me a nasty stare and I just smiled a little at them. Though some of the people in the Photography club doesn’t mind about me being gay, there were still others who doesn’t appreciate it.
I couldn’t blame them though.
“Seriously, Valery, why is she still friends with that?”
They were deliberately talking out loud to let me hear their conversation as they walked away form us.
I lowered my head, staring at my feet dipped in the water.
“He’s such a creep. He’s only hear to see naked guys, right?”
I closed my eyes, my head dropping even lower.
Maybe, I am a creep. My original reason why I was here was because Valery invited me but it changed because Clark was now here and…and maybe…I am…
“Don’t mind them,” Valery said, nudging me with her shoulder. “They’re hypocrites. I’m sure they’re here as well to look at those guys, huh?”
I lifted my head to look at her. I clutched the friendship bracelet she gave me and it warmed my heart.
Valery’s always here for me.
“T-thanks,” I said, smiling.
“Hey, you wanna swim?”
I jumped out of my skin after hearing Clark’s voice in my ear. I almost knocked Valery down in the pool because of what I did.
Clark was squatting on my other side, amused from my reaction.
“S-sorry! What did you say?”
“I asked if you want to swim,” he repeated.
“O-oh that, ah…”
Clark raised a brow when he saw how I paled from his offer.
“You don’t know how to swim?”
My heart skipped a beat and I looked at him with wide eyes.
“It’s okay,” he said, smiling at me. “I can teach you.”
Valery gave me a knowing smile.
“Go for it, Drew!”
Clark guided me into the water. He was holding my hands as I tippy-toed on the floor of the pool. I was straining my neck because the water was getting deeper. If it wasn’t for Clark holding me, I would have panicked.
“S-sorry, I’m such a…loser,” I mumbled.
I was sad because I couldn’t fully enjoy the pool with my friends. I have always been the weakest boy in school. Frail and clumsy, I hated that part of myself. My dad always tell me to improve myself, physically and mentally but that’s just who I am.
One more reason why I’m not cut out for the Mafia.
“You’re not a loser. You don’t have to bring yourself down because you can’t do what others can,” Clark said. “We all have unique talents.”
I stared at him in awe.
Yeah, he’s just too perfect.
I’m falling for him even more.
Clark, I really wanted to tell you how in love I am.
But why couldn’t I? I’ve been doing that with all the other guys I’ve fallen for but why couldn’t I tell Clark my feelings?
“Here, climb behind my back.”
I did what I was told, grabbing onto his broad shoulders as if he was piggy-backing me. Noticing the freckles on his back, I thought it was adorable.
“Thanks for coming.”
It was afternoon when I decided to go to the main lounge. I was thinking of taking pictures of the extravagant part of the cruise ship, where rich people come and have dinner under the golden chandeliers, served with the bestest food the ship could offer. I knew I’m not supposed to go in but I thought it would make a great addition to my portfolio. To take pictures of how distinct society was. The people from the club only takes pictures of the scenic view but I’m more interested with people, the expression of their faces, the emotions that would freeze once a picture was taken.
I walked inside the hall and as expected, everything was shining. Round tables covered in red, golden chairs, people wearing suits and gowns, laughing as they talked senseless.
I began taking pictures in secret, avoiding the guards and the waiters walking around the place. I’m good in being invisible which was a huge advantage at times like this.
After getting great shots, I walked out of the hall only to be stopped when a hand grabbed my shoulder. I turned around and a man, wearing a casual summer clothes, smiling at me. He had blonde hair and there was a kind look in his eyes.
I smiled nervously, thinking that I got caught.
“W-what is it?”
“Sorry, I saw you taking pictures. You a photographer?” he asked.
“Uh, n-not yet. Aspiring to be,” I answered.
“Wow, so you’re with the kids who’ve been taking pictures here.”
“Yeah, it’s for school.”
The man looked amazed.
“School, huh? Mind if I see those photos?”
I narrowed my eyes at him.
The man chuckled, sheepishly rubbing the back of his head.
“Well, I’m a photographer too. The island we’re stopping at is a great place to take pictures that’s why I joined,” he answered. “It’s good to find people who have the same passion as well, right?”
He had a point.
I don’t have a lot of people I could show my pictures to. My family doesn’t recognize this hobby of mine because what my dad wanted me to be was far from it.
“Sure,” I said, grinning at him.
He doesn’t looked like a bad guy. Besides, no one knew I’m from the Russian mob, not in this place. So it’s impossible for me to be attacked here.
I’m just like every other normal people enjoying their normal life, making new friends.
The man escorted me to his table and we talked a lot about photography. His name was Mark and he’s in his twenties and was a struggling photographer. He needed a break with his work that’s why he went for a cruise to take refreshing pictures of the nature.
I felt invigorated while talking to him. Mark offered me food and drinks as well and I gladly accepted his kindness.
In the middle of our conversation, I felt sleepy. I struggled to keep my eyes opened but I guess I got tired from what I did earlier.
“S-sorry,” I said, interrupting Mark from what he was saying. “I think…I need to go back to my room.”
“Oh, is that so? Sorry, I’ve been running my mouth,” he said, chuckling. “I can bring you back to your room if you want.”
“N-no, it’s okay…I can manage…”
I stood up but I was getting dizzy. Everything was swirling and I couldn’t find the balance of my feet.
Mark quickly grabbed me, taking both my hands to make me stand up.
“Woah, you okay?”
I was losing consciousness and before I knew it, everything turned black.
“ -- ood job, Mark.”
I heard a deep voice from afar. I tried moving but my whole body felt sluggish. Opening my eyes, the place was dark. Once all my senses awakened, I realized I was in a container-like room The light coming from the crevices made me see that there were other people in here as well. I couldn’t identify them but they were all trembling in fear.
All my limbs were tied with a rope and a duct-tape on my mouth was preventing me to speak.
My heart was beating loud and fast.
What exactly happened…? Did Mark do this?
I clenched my fists, my body shaking in disappointment.
I’m such an idiot!
Calm down, Drew.
I have to think of a way how to get out of this place. And if I could, I should save these people here too.
We all gasped when the top side of the container opened, revealing four guys. They were heavily armed and from looks of it, I believe they were pirates. So, this was their M.O. To kidnap people from cruise ships.
“Looking good, right guys?” one of them said, smirking at us.
There’s no doubt, these people were scums.
Agh, I really am an idiot.
How the hell did I get myself into this situation?!
“We gonna get a huge money with this.”
“Yeah, they like it when they’re young.”
I looked around and like what they said, the three people with me appeared to be teenagers. They were all crying, scared shitless of course.
Being kidnapped was nothing out of the ordinary. I grew up in this kind of world and because I’m the only heir of the Orlov group, my dad was hell bound to get me back whatever it takes.
But being saved by dad was impossible. He didn’t know that I was here.
I’m a really huge idiot.
We were transferred to another place. They put blindfolds on our eyes, preventing us from seeing where they were taking us. I could still fear the scared gasps of the people they kidnapped. I’m sure they would sell us to become slaves for despicable people that I never wanted to be acquainted with.
The path where we were walking seemed rocky. I could feel stones hitting my barefoot and it hurts.
Did they bring us to an island or something? Was this the place of their trading? Am I really gonna get sold?
I bit my lip to stop myself from crying.
My dad deals with this kind of thing too. Selling people as if they were objects. In a short span of time, someone’s life could change entirely because of this.
It was a horrifying thing to do, selling people as slaves but people like my dad, it’s nothing but business for them.
I was trembling in fear.
I wanted this to be a nightmare but everything was real.
I’m really gonna get sold.
But no one’s gonna save me now so what’s the point?
“Get inside,” someone beckoned, pushing me hard on the back. I stumbled on the floor and I hit my chin. It stung and it made me cry but I struggled to get up.
“Are these the new ones?”
“Yes, boss. Got them in some fancy cruise.”
I shivered from the cold air inside whatever this place was. The smell of cigarette lingered.
“Get me that blonde one.”
I’m the only blonde one from the group.
I got picked up by someone from the collar of my shirt, dragging me to this person who called me out.
A few seconds later, I heard him snort.
“He’ll sell good. Old fucks like their pets young and fresh.”
I cried, soaking the blindfold around me.
“Set up the stage, we’re gonna sell these idiots before someone notice them gone.”
I tried to fight against the person holding me but that only earned a hard slap on my face. I sobbed, feeling my cheek swelling.
“Play nice, little boy. You don’t want us cutting your limbs, don’t you?”
I heard the creak of a door being opened. Once again, I was shoved inside. I yelped through the duct tape on my mouth when he began stripping me off of my clothes, ripping it apart until I was naked.
“Yeah, you’re gonna sell good,” the guy commented, his voice vicious and cold.
Please…please I don’t want this to happen…
I fought my way against the man holding me. I couldn’t care less if I get beaten up, I was used to it anyway.
As expected, the guy began punching me to make me stay still. He pushed me down on the ground and he began tying my feet.
“You’re really testing my patience, bitch!”
Another punch on the side of my head and I got dizzy from it. My ears rang and it hurts like hell. I cried and cried, begging all the gods to get me out of this place.
To return to where Clark, Valery and Oleg were.
What have I ever done wrong?
Am I paying for what dad did to all those people whose life he destroyed?
I dropped my shoulders in surrender.
There’s no way I could get out of this situation.
No one’s gonna save me anymore.
Well, maybe it’s for the best.
My dad doesn’t save me because he loves me. What he wanted was an heir for his group, not a son.
And my mom…she doesn’t even care for me.
No one would save me.
My ears perked upon hearing that familiar voice.
“What the fuck?! How -- ?!”
“That one is mine.”
My shoulders jolted at what seemed like a gun going off. The guy’s hand loosened around me and soon, I heard him drop down on the ground.
Seconds later, someone took the blindfold off of me and my eyes widened when I saw that it was Clark. He had a serious look on his face and I shuddered seeing how scary he looked like. The usual easy-going aura he always had wasn’t there.
Was this really…Clark?
“Seriously? You’re letting yourself be kidnapped by these fuckers?” Clark sarcastically asked, smirking at me. “Nothing but a bunch of pussies.”
Even the way he was speaking was different.
“For making me go all the way here, you deserve a punishment,” Clark looked at me, an insidious smirk appearing on that handsome face, “boss.”