Billionaire's Childhood Love

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Mamma [Extra 2]

Ricardo’s POV:

"Cucciolo," she mumbled.

“Yes, mamma?”

“I want to see you.”

I switch the call to FaceTime.

Mamma got skinnier.

She smiles, her hollow cheeks plump slightly. “Look at you. My handsome baby boy. Can you smile for mamma?”

With all my energy, I gave her the largest smile in the world, showing off every single tooth.

Mamma told me her most favorite thing in the world is my smile.

The tears emerge, and she smiles, “So handsome.”

“Mio cuore,” papa’s voice appears, “It’s getting late. You need to take your medications and go to sleep.” Papa is very strict about mamma’s schedule - her diets, her sleeping patterns...her life.

Mamma exhales, “Okay, give me one more minute,” she said, before turning back towards me. “I love you, Ricardo.”

I smile, “I love you too, mamma.”

The screen blacks out.

I inhaled a sharp breath and stood up, my back scraps against the cold bricks. With all my power, I walk up the stairs and towards my room. When I opened the door, the room was empty. I flopped down in bed and closed my eyes.

I want to sleep.

Sometime in the middle of the night, the door opens, and feet shuffle inside.

“Hay Bug, I’m telling you-” the annoying voice stopped.

“Shhh,” Hailey said. “Ricardo is sleeping.” At least she has some decency.

The door closes, “We wouldn’t have to be quiet if he wasn’t- Ow! Did you just pinch me?” Josh whispers.

“You. I told you to be nicer to him.”

“Ow! Stop pinching me!”

After some more bickering, the noises stop.

Finally.

Peace.

Then, the horror begins.

My lids snap open, hearing the waves of snores across the room. At first, I wondered how Hailey got used to it. Then she gave me an answer. They’re both snorers.

I threw off the blanket and sat up. My fingers rush through my hair as the noises only continue. I grab the shoes and jacket; then open the door. Halting at the door, I look at the backpack. I grab the bag along with some books and walk out of the dorm room.

It’s cold.

I tilt my head, gazing upward. I can barely see any stars. My hands shove inside the pocket of my jacket, and I exhale a deep breath. Back in Italy, I could see countless stars.

Here?

Not as much.

Mamma and I used to lay outside and count the stars together. In every direction, there is a star, a spark. We would talk about flying the universe together, anywhere and everywhere.

But then her health got worse.

She’s bedridden most days.

Right now, she’ll probably be sitting on the balcony to watch the sunrise.

The library is empty.

Endless aisle of books, untouched with the rise of technology.

There’s the occasion of a few students inside. Some studying. Others, sleeping. Most likely scholarship students. One slip up, and you’re out.

I sat down at an empty table in the library’s corner. Laying the books down, I scoot in the chair and look up.

Her.

The chip on her fingertips halts halfway into her mouth. She crunches it, a loud sound in the middle of the night. She swallows, “Hey.”

“Hey,” I respond.

She looks down at the books on the table, “Don’t tell me. You’re actually studying.”

“Why are you here?” I ask.

“Why can’t I be here?” She rebuttal.

Silence.

We both tilt our heads down and refuse to acknowledge each other’s existence any longer.

Time continues to move forward.

My head hurts.

I understand nothing.

The sentences make little to no sense.

The chair across the room scraps outward, and feet shuffle. She’s gone. Momentarily. Probably to the bathroom. Then she’s back.

“You did that problem wrong.” A voice said behind me. I looked back but didn’t respond. Her hands shoved inside the pocket of her red hood as her body tilted forward. One hand escapes, and she points at the problem in front of me. “The answer is wrong.” she pauses. “That too. That too. That too. All of ’em.”

I kept my silence and stared at her.

Someone coughs in the background.

“Do you want me to teach you?” she offers.

Silence.

She walked towards the other side and sat down. I look back down to the papers and scratch my head. Books slam beside me, and she sat down. She rests her elbow against the table and looks at me, “I will sit here.”

“Why?”

“Because it’s boring to study all by myself,” she said. Her pink fingernail points on my paper, “Hydrogen peroxide should be stored in a brown bottle away from sunlight because it spontaneously decomposes into Oxygen and water. It’s a slow process, but it occurs.”

I stare at her.

This is the first time we’re this close. She blinks her brown eyes and brushes back stings of dark hair. When she talks, her cheekbones rise, but they aren’t high.

She tilts her head and clicks the pen a few times, “Inside the brown bottle, the change in the free energy of activation is X kcal per mole. In the presence of a catalyst, the decomposition is much faster. For each decrease of X kcal per mole in the free-” she continues talking.

Then the noise ends.

I noticed how her long black hair wasn’t down, somewhat tied in a bun.

She looks at me, “Understand?”

I actually do.

I nod.

“Okay, redo the equation, and I’ll check it for you,” she said before she returns to her books.

The sound of pencils scratches the surface. After some time, I cover my mouth with my hand and exhale quietly. My head is throbbing. I’m stuck.

An eraser made an appearance and scratches on my paper. She turns the pencil around, “You need to convert here,” she said, writing down the conversion.

A scent.

It’s soft.

“Why do you act like a bitch?”

She stops writing, “Was that an insult?”

“That was a question.”

She chuckles, “What? After a few romantic hours together in the dark, am I supposed to open up to you?”

I roll my eyes, “Forget it.” I said. The scratching on the papers return.

“Hey,” I said.

“What?”

“Thanks.”

She stops writing and looks up, “Say that again.”

I didn’t look at her.

“Did you just thank me?” She chuckles, then sobs: “I cannot believe the cold-blooded Ricardo thanked me. Wait till everyone-”

I stop writing and look at her, “No. Don’t tell anyone.”

She smirks, “Is this a favor I’m hearing?”

I didn’t respond.

“Don’t worry,” she said. Her eyes rest on the books, “I won’t tell anyone.” She tucks a strand of hair back, “I wouldn’t want anyone to know that I voluntarily went to the library anyway.”

Silence resume.

Pencil scribbles.

Chair creaks.

Pages turns.

“Thanks, Crystal.”

She smiles, “Anytime spaghetti.”

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