I didn’t want to go but it’s time for Stephanie to go home. Her parents had been even more strict with her lately, maybe because they found out that she’s been trying to find a boyfriend online.
We were walking to the exit. Stephanie seemed like she enjoyed the company of Liam’s friends as they kept laughing about things I didn’t even bother hearing.
I was too focused on Liam.
Damn it, I didn’t want to go home. I wanted to snatch his hand and run away from everyone just to have him to myself.
Can I do that?
I glanced at his hand and noticed how slender it was. The veins bulging on the back of his palm was such a turn on, I wanted to kiss and nip it.
Am I just horny?
Maybe I am.
Maybe I’m not.
I always knew what I was right from the start and never bothered trying to hide my identity as long as my family and closest friends accepted me. I’d been surrounded by men all my life, but never did I feel this kind of attraction to anyone other than Liam.
“I don’t think I’ve properly asked for your name,” Liam said as he started walking beside me.
Our arms brushed against each other and it was…electrifying.
Calm down, Iza.
“Isaiah,” I said without looking at him. “My name’s Isaiah.”
He smiled. “I’m—”
“Liam,” I said, uttering his name before he could even tell me. He eyed me in surprise, probably not expecting that I remembered his name. We only met a couple of times before, but I remembered everything about him, every detail on his face, everything. Just like that little mole he had just under his lips, on the right side—it looked so adorable, fuck.
He smiled, shyly. “I didn’t think you’d remember my name.”
Well, I’m kind of into you. “Yeah, you are kind of unforgettable,” I mumbled under my breath. I thought he wouldn’t hear it but unfortunately, he had good ears.
“Really?” he asked. He turned to look me in the eye and I swore he saw right through my soul.
“Why? You don’t believe me?”
God, we sounded like we’re flirting with each other, I loved it.
“No, I just didn’t expect I’d stand out, much less be memorable,” he said, shrugging his shoulders.
I narrowed my eyes at him. Was he blind or dumb? His face alone was breathtaking. And even when he’s in a group of people, he still stood out. He was a tad small compared to the others, but his charisma was just captivating that even a person passing by would look at him. Liam was a very good-looking guy, and the mystery that surrounded him along was what made him even more attractive.
I wanted to know this guy…talk to him more and know what secrets lied behind those smiles.
I’m really falling deeper and deeper and I’m afraid I wouldn’t be able to come back up. It’s scary but I’m willing to risk it if it’s for Liam.
Too bad I’m going to North Vale.
I’m not going to see him again.
I stopped walking and so did he. Liam looked at me, confused. “What’s wrong?” he asked.
Think, Isaiah. Who knows when will be the next time I’ll see Liam again? Meeting him in this mall was nothing but a coincidence and I wanted to believe this was God’s sign. And if I waste this opportunity give to me, then I’d be the biggest idiot in the world.
I’d been miserably crazy about this guy, thinking about him every moment I could. He occupied my head as he owned it, and it’s a miracle I didn’t jump on Liam as soon as I saw him again in that milk tea store.
I like this guy.
I really do.
We were so close to the exit. The second we stepped outside, I’m not going to see Liam again.
“Liam, I—” I bit my lip.
This is goodbye.
He stared at me before cracking a mischievous smile. “Run,” Liam whispered before taking my hand and dragging me the opposite side of where Stephanie and the others were. The spontaneous action made my heart skipped a beat, my adrenaline rushing as I stared at his back. My heart was beating so fast and I had run marathons before and that’s nothing compared to this.
Liam ignored his friends screaming his name. We just run across the mall, never bothering to apologize to the people we bumped into. He found the back exit and run through it, never taking his hand off me.
We ran for like a minute or two, maybe even more, I didn’t care.
All I could see was his broad shoulders and his hair flowing through the wind. He looked ethereal.
“Liam! Where are we going?” I asked as we continued to run.
“Somewhere far away,” he said, looking back at me to grin.
Oh, God. Was it possible for someone to be this beautiful? Everything about Liam was captivating. His face, his voice, even his personality—and I haven’t even had the chance to get to know him better.
This is crazy!
We finally stopped after running for like a mile. The mall looked so small from a distance, it’s insane how fast we ran for just a few minutes. I panted, but Liam looked like he didn’t even break a sweat. I’m confident with my stamina, but this guy, he’s different.
“W-what…why did you do that?” I asked, holding onto my chest as I catch my breath.
Liam laughed. “That’s the first time…” he said. He turned to me and smiled. “That’s the first time I did something as wild as that.”
I was bewildered. “What?”
“I really don’t want to come home,” he said. He pressed his lips together and released a loud laugh. “My brother’s probably going to kill me but it’s worth it.”
So, he did have a brother. Was it Kenneth Torres-Shao? He looked just like the man I saw in North Vale’s head office. Was it possible they’re related to each other?
If that was the case, then Liam was certainly not just like any other boy. The Torres-Shao family was famous here in the country and was one of the richest people.
So, if that was the case, what’s a Torres-Shao doing at a mall like this?
Not that he wasn’t allowed to come here, but this wasn’t exactly the place you expect a boy whose family could buy the country to find.
Unless, of course, he came to see me.
Don’t be ridiculous, Iza.
“I just want to do something really dumb for once in my life,” he said.
“And this is what you think is dumb? Running away from your friends?” I gasped out loud after I remembered I left Stephanie with Remus. I gasped out loud and frantically said, “Steph, she’s—!”
Liam’s smile disappeared. “Don’t worry. The boys won’t touch her unless of course, they want to continue living,” he said.
I gulped. I always get the feeling that he belonged in some kind of gang, maybe a fraternity brotherhood or something dangerous like that, but the way he just talked about his friends sounded like he was their boss.
Wait, I do recall someone calling him boss before.
Which was weird.
“So, what now?” I asked. We began to walk on the side of the street, completely ignoring everyone around us as we were too focused on each other.
“I’m hungry,” he declared. “Let’s eat.”
“What? Eat? Didn’t we just have milk tea?”
“That’s not food, that’s a drink. I’m still hungry,” Liam said.
Wow, I couldn’t help but smile thinking how childish he was. I didn’t expect that. “Fine. I don’t have any money with me, but—”
“I’ll treat you,” he said. “As payment for coming along with me.”
I stared at him before returning his grin. “Fine.”
So happy that I couldn’t stop smiling.
I brought him to the nearest fast food, just a couple of blocks away from where stopped running. There were quite a few people inside eating dinner, and as soon as Liam stepped inside, some of the girls who were eating at the table turned their heads to look at him.
Damn, was he some kind of actor because those girls reacted as if they’d seen one. I even caught one of them whispering to her friend while eyeing Liam from head to toe. I couldn’t blame them though, he’s really handsome.
Like so handsome.
Wait, I just sounded like a teenage bitch in my head, it’s scary.
“What do you want to eat,” he asked, leaning close to me.
I gulped. I could smell him, and he was exquisite. It’s as if he was wearing a hundred thousand pesos cologne and it’s turning me on.
Was it possible to be turned on just from someone’s scent? I didn’t realize how clueless I was when it comes to things like this. One would think that I’d be throwing myself left to right just because I’m a growing boy and growing boys needed some outlets for their…indulgence.
I shook my head to erase what I just said to myself. “I’d just get the burger,” I said.
“Just burger?” Liam asked, acting offended by what I just chose.
“What?” What’s wrong with that?” I asked as I raised a brow at him.
He chuckled, and it sounded so pleasing to my ears that it drowned down the loud music playing from the speakers. “Nothing, I didn’t expect you’d be the kind of guy who only gets a burger when being treated.”
I smirked at him. “Fine, get me the super meal,” I said, pointing at the most expensive food in the restaurant. I wasn’t exactly hungry, but when someone’s daring me to eat more, especially if it’s free, I’m not one to back down.
Liam smiled. “Good. I’ll get the same thing.”
We stood behind a man who was in line and waited for our turn. I eyed Liam and observed how stifling it must be to wear jackets whenever he goes out. “Isn’t it hot?” I asked.
“Wearing hoodies. It’s like thirty-eight Celsius outside, it’s very hot,” I said.
“I can’t really wear shirts,” Liam said.
“I just can’t.”
“I want to know.”
He stared at me, amused. “Because people will be freaked out when they see what’s underneath,” he said, jokingly.
Instead of playing along with what he said, I continued to ask. “Why? Is it because you have tattoos?”
His smile turned sly. “Maybe?”
My heart skipped a beat. Why is he so hot?!
While waiting in line, I took my phone out and sent Stephanie a quick text that I’m with Liam. I’m sure she’d be dying to know what happened and why he suddenly dragged me away like we’re some protagonists from those corny telenovelas, but right now, I wanted to focus on Liam.
Don’t waste this, Iza.
“Who are you texting?” he asked.
“Stephanie,” I answered, tucking my phone away in my pocket. At the back of my mind, I’m worried Remus and his friends would do something to her, but if Liam said she’d be alright, then I’d believe him.
It’s nuts how easy it was for me to trust Liam when I only barely know him. But if there’s one more person who wouldn’t lie to me, I know it’d be him. I just know.
“Are you and Ms. Stephanie…close?” he asked, carefully.
I almost laughed when Liam called her miss. It was weird to hear. “Yeah, she’s my best friend,” I said.
“Oh, so not lovers then?”
I eyed him. “And what makes you think she’s her girlfriend?” I asked.
I don’t exactly hide my sexuality as I’m open to who I am to people I wanted to know, but I know it’s hard to decipher if I was straight or not. For starters, I just act like any other straight guys out there. I had no intention of changing my looks as it wasn’t important to me, and I believed that there were many other ways to exhibit your sexuality, and mine wasn’t dressing like a woman or acting as the opposite gender.
I just like men.
Well, more exactly I like Liam.
“You care for her,” he said, shrugging his shoulders.
I scoffed. “So, caring for someone means they’re dating them?”
“Isn’t that what dating means?” he asked. His tone was childlike that it didn’t match his appearance.
“Don’t you have people that you care for? Other than your family?” I asked.
Liam paused. “I don’t know,” he said.
I furrowed my brows at him. “Aren’t those people your friends? Don’t you care about them?”
He thought for a second. “No, except for Paolo, he’s my childhood friend.”
“See? Caring for someone doesn’t mean you’re dating them,” I said as a matter of fact.
Liam pulled a confused look. “So, you don’t like her romantically?”
“No, Liam. I’m not attracted to my best friend. Are you attracted to this Paolo guy?” I asked, returning his absurd question.
“No,” he said.
“See?” I repeated, smirking at him.
We’re talking about something so petty and senseless, but I didn’t mind. Rather, I loved talking to him more. If he was another classmate of mine who wanted to talk just for the sake of talking, I’d shut them up immediately. I don’t like listening to others when they’re talking about something that doesn’t interest me, but if it’s Liam, I’d lend him my ears any time of the day.
Finally, we ordered our food and found a vacant table to sit at. While eating, I decided to ask him the question that’s been bugging me.
“Why me?” I asked, looking straight at him after I finished chewing. He could have dragged one of his many friends with him if he really wanted to do something wild and rebellious.
But why me?
Liam had already finished the food and was now enjoying his large fries. “I don’t know. I just acted on impulse.” And that impulse was me? “And…I’m really interested in you.”
He looked away and I swore I saw a tint of blush appearing on his cheeks. “I don’t know. Stop asking me. I just really want to get away. I-I don’t want to come home, I told you.”
“Why not?” I asked. I know I’m asking personal questions, but I wanted to push Liam to know him better.
Because I like him.
“Because…I don’t like my family,” he simply said. His embarrassed smile turned into a scowl and I suddenly felt bad for asking him something so insensitive.
I didn’t even bother confirming it if he was indeed a Torres-Shao.
“Sorry,” I said.
“It’s fine. I just have a complicated relationship with my father and brother, that’s all.” He smiled a little to reassure me that everything was alright and that he wasn’t offended with what I just asked.
“My sister can be an ass sometimes,” I said as I tried to lift the mood. “I can understand you, just a little bit.”
“You have a sister?” Liam asked.
I nodded. “Yeah, her name is Sam,” I said, remembering my sister’s face before I left the house this morning. I smiled to myself. “She’s a pain but I love her.”
“I have three brothers,” he said. “I’m the youngest.”
“Oh wow.” I’m sure those three older brothers must have looked as dashing as him. If my theory was correct, then the Torres-Shaos were blessed in appearance.
“The oldest two have already graduated,” Liam added. “I just visited my other brother yesterday. We haven’t seen each other for months.”
I blinked. “You don’t live together?”
“No,” he said. He paused for a second before continuing, “I live with my other brother.”
“Not with your father?” I asked after remembering that he mentioned his father a minute ago.
Liam shook his head. “No, he lived here in Manila.”
I blinked. “So, where are you from?” I asked.
“Further north,” was what he answered. Which was weird. Further north was a vague response but before I could ask him about it, Liam had already changed another topic to talk about. “Do you know how to fight?”
“What makes you ask?”
“When Martinez kidnapped you, I saw you weren’t fazed. A normal person would have panicked and asked questions. You didn’t,” Liam explained.
The situation really wasn’t scary. Sure, it was my first time getting kidnapped. But Remus just didn’t look that dangerous. That other guy, the one who’s name was Paolo looked even stronger than that Remus, and I could tell. He had a different aura compared to Liam’s other friends.
But Martinez, I could have easily just kick him on the balls and he’d cry for his mommy. That’s how pathetic that idiot was.
Besides, it’s not as if they’re capable of murder.
Unlike this guy in front of me who’s obviously so mysterious that I wouldn’t be surprised that he had killed a person before.
Of course, I’m hoping it wasn’t true.
“I know how to protect myself,” I said. I took one of his fries and bit it, smirking at Liam in the process. “So, you better be careful about befriending someone like me,” I teased.
Liam’s eyes sparked, clearly liking what I just said. “Likewise, Isaiah. How did you learn how to fight?”
“My dad,” I started, “he’s very…enthusiastic to make a man out of me,” I said, shamelessly quoting that famous song in Mulan.
Liam blinked. “Oh, so your father’s the one who trained you?”
“No, he enrolled me in many summer classes when I was young. Martial arts, Muay Thai, karate, boxing, jujutsu—anything he could think of just to make me…like any other boys out there,” I said.
“That’s incredible,” Liam said, impressed. “Not a lot of people can do what you did.”
“Maybe I’m just a fast learner. How about you? You’re from a gang, right?” I asked.
He laughed. “What makes you think that?”
It’s very obvious, Liam. “I don’t know, I just…get that vibe from you. Are you like in a frat group or something?”
It’s more likely that he did belong to a fraternity group. It’s still prevalent in the country up until now, especially in universities. It really didn’t have a good reputation as there’s a lot of criminal activities in those frat groups that involved hazing students and such.
Dad warned me about it even if I wasn’t in college yet. He knew me too well and was already anticipating that I’d waste no time joining in something that could exercise my skills.
“What will you do if I’m indeed in a gang?” he asked.
So, he chose to return the question to me, huh? Interesting. I really liked how Liam thinks, he’s very…challenging to unravel. And I loved it.
“I don’t know, join you?” I teased.
Liam laughed, again. Instead of being insulted, I find it funny that he’s laughing at what I just stated.
“I’d rather not see you get in trouble, Isaiah,” he said. “You might end up in North Vale.”
I gulped. Just from what he said, it’s as if I was punched in the gut. Oh, Liam. If you only knew that I am going to North Vale and this would be the last time we’re going to see each other.
I really don’t want to go.
“What do you think of people going to North Vale?” I asked. I wanted to know Liam’s insight into the infamous school. I’m still not sure if he’s a Torres-Shao. It’s safe to assume that he had no connection with that family or the institute they owned.
It took him a minute to answer. “I think…most of them deserved going there but some…doesn’t.”
I stared at him, surprised at what he just said. I thought he’d be disgusted at the thought of someone being forced to go to North Vale since it was a rehab school for the worst of the worst, but he wasn’t.
Liam never failed to impress me, damn. He’s ten times mature than most kids my age, even more than me!
A thundering voice called out his name and we both turned our heads to the entrance. It was Paolo and he was marching his way towards our direction, his face red in anger. Liam immediately stood up and saw that he was flustered when he saw his friend.
The second Paolo came near us, he didn’t think twice smacking Liam in the head. I jumped from my seat and quickly shoved Paolo away from him. My body just moved on its own the moment I saw Liam winced from what his supposed to be childhood friend did. If it was just a friendly smack, I could have let it go, but it’s obvious that he did it to intentionally hurt Liam, and I won’t allow that.
I grabbed Paolo’s forearm and squeezed it tight. He glared at me and I returned it. “Fuck off,” I warned.
“Don’t get involved, Isaiah Montenegro. You’ll regret it,” he said through gritted teeth.
I didn’t give a shit if he knew what my name was, I just wanted to beat the shit out of him. I was fuming in anger, and even I was surprised that just by seeing Liam get hurt would turn me into this beast that I tried so hard to control.
“Stop it,” Liam said, pushing Paolo off me. I let go of him but didn’t stop glaring. I would have mauled him if Liam didn’t interrupt.
Everyone was looking at us, confused at what was happening. “I’m sorry,” he said, eyeing Paolo in worry. “I shouldn’t have run away.”
“Yeah, you shouldn’t have,” Paolo said. He grabbed Liam’s hand and pulled him to the door. “Your brother’s been waiting for you. If you don’t want to be whipped all night, we need to arrive before ten.”
I stood in the middle of the fast-food restaurant, astonished at what just happened. I was about to run to them but when I saw Liam looking at me and shaking his head to tell me to just let him go, I did.
And I didn’t even get his god damn number.
I wasted everything.
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