I was so close to reaching the door when the nurse stepped out of her office only to see us leaving without her permission. “Hey, where are you going?” she asked.
Holding Liam’s hand to stop him from running away, I looked back at her. “I’m going to confront his bitch ass of a brother and tell him to leave Liam the f*ck alone.”
Both the nurse and Stephen looked at me as if I just grew two heads. Or maybe three, even. Their eyes were about to bulge out in disbelief. “What?” she asked, scoffing. “You’re going to tell the Tyler Torres-Sha to f*ck off?”
“Yes, I’m glad someone in this room can understand what I’m about to do,” I said, playfully glaring at Liam who rolled his eyes in response.
“Just wait for a minute and calm down, Isaiah,” he said. His exasperated tone annoyed me to shit. Why was he so adamant about stopping me when I’m doing this for his sake? He kept letting those people push him as if he was their toy. Before it was that Paolo guy who acted like he’s Liam’s babysitter, then this Tyler f*cker who’s not only terrorizing his little brother but also abusing him because of what?
What exactly was Tyler’s reason to do those things to his brother? His own f*cking brother. To think that he’s capable of hurting his own blood sent shivers down my spine. I could never ever hurt my sister, not even if she had done a grave sin that might tear our family apart.
“Did I hear you correctly?” Lorraine asked, raising her perfectly curved brow at me. “Are you out of your mind? Do you know who you’re talking about?”
I was getting impatient. Why the hell do I need to care knowing about the guy who’s tormenting Liam? Going as far as making him faint because of the trauma he’s suffering from this so-called brother of his? Am I in the wrong here? I only wanted to teach that Tyler a lesson. Maybe punch him once and that would stop him from coming after Liam.
Yeah, that will work. That always worked.
“You don’t seem to understand who Tyler really is, kid,” Stephen said. His mocking smirk was getting on my nerves, I’d do anything just to wipe that smug smile. “He’s not someone you can just talk to.”
“Why? Is he God?” I asked as sarcastic as I could. “Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a matter to settle with your highness.”
I was so ready to leave the clinic when Liam tugged me back. I snapped my head to glare at him. “What now?!”
“They’re right, Isaiah,” he said, his eyes boring holes into mine. “You can’t just go to where Tyler was and wage war against him. You don’t know my brother.”
I glared at him. “So, you’re just going to let that bastard do anything he wants to you?”
Liam looked away. “As you said, my family matter is complicated.”
“Why don’t you just stay here for a little while until your friend calms down, Liam?” Stephen suggested. “I can tell your brother you’re still sleeping.”
“I appreciate that, Stephen,” Liam said. I was about to open my mouth to stop him from reporting back to Tyler, but Liam shook his head, silently telling me to just drop it. Why couldn’t he see that I was doing this to protect him? I’m aware I had no right to butt into his family business but seeing the agony in his eyes while talking about the Torres-Shao, I couldn’t help but want to protect him from them.
The need to make sure Liam was safe from his family compelled me to fight for him, even if I had to throw myself in a fire, I will do it. I don’t know where this overwhelming urge I had for him comes from, but right now, it didn’t matter. What I’m sure was that I’m attracted to Liam this much that I’m willing to do things that would cause me trouble.
Stephen walked past us, glancing back at me with that carefree smile. The second he left, Liam pulled me to another room in the clinic. “Don’t let anyone come in while we’re here,” he said to Lorraine.
“Yeah, yeah, just make it quick.”
Liam guided me further inside the clinic. I was surprised that there’s a room that served as a lobby where visitors could stay. It was spacious with couches meticulously placed inside the room. The cold air from the AC was blasting and as soon as Liam closed the door behind him, I felt my skin crawling from the low temperature.
“What are we doing here?” I asked as I watched Liam walk near the tall windows that provided us a great view of the forest surrounding the school. He pressed something on the keypad attached to the wall and I was amazed the window glasses turned frosted.
“My brother has eyes everywhere,” Liam said. Now that no one would be able to see or interrupt us in this room, his shoulders dropped as he released the tension he’s been hiding. “Tyler isn’t just an ordinary guy you can fight in the street, Isaiah.”
“And why?” I asked.
“Just because he can kill someone without dealing with any repercussions,” Liam answered. The look on his eyes tells me that he’s tired of explaining why I shouldn’t go and demand his brother to stop torturing him like any sane person would do. “Besides, why are you acting like this?” he asked.
I was confused by his question. “What?”
“It’s not like we’re even friends.” Okay, that hurt. But Liam had a point. We only just met for a few days, whatever connection we established during the short moment that we had, it’s not enough for me to charge towards an enemy who had, according to Liam, had the power to annihilate me. “So why are you doing this?”
We stared at each other for the longest time before I finally broke the silence between us. “Because…I feel something for you…” And even if I wanted to ignore it, I couldn’t. Everything about Liam just screams attracted to me, it’d be impossible for him to turn me off. His gentle yet dangerous personality, the intense gaze that he always gives me—like he couldn’t turn away from me too. This attraction was mutual, it’s not hard not to see.
Liam likes me too.
“Did you just confess to me?” he asked, a small smile appearing on his face. His jaws unclenched as he looked at me with impish eyes.
“No, I—” Shit, he caught me off-guard there. Who would have thought that the Liam Torres-Shao was bold? Of course, he was, Iza. Who am I kidding? With a face like that, he’s definitely a lady killer. No one would be able to resist Liam’s charm. He looked dashing in any clothes he wears, his gentle demeanor usually attracts any kind of girls, and that face—with his dark eyes, broad shoulders, and bulging muscles that he hides under his school uniform—I could eat him alive and that still wouldn’t be enough to satisfy me.
Damn, am I just sexually attracted to him? No, that couldn’t be. Liam was the first guy who managed to enamor me. Sure, there were dozens of guys who were worth ogling at, but they couldn’t be compared to Liam.
Not even those YouTube influencers or TV actors, yeah, Liam was in another league.
“I’m just saying that I like you…like a friend,” I said nervously. It’s still too early to tell him that I liked him. I’d hate it if I ruin my budding relationship with Liam just because I believed he shared the same feelings too. There’s really no telling until he says it too.
“A friend?” Liam asked, mouthing the word as if it was poison. “Just a friend?”
“You’re the one who said we’re not even friends. Be glad that I treat you like one,” I retorted.
Liam chuckled. “You’re the kind of guy, huh? The one who’ll do anything for other people.”
“Is that wrong?”
He froze. Now it’s his turn to be taken aback. “No, nothing wrong about that,” he murmured. “That’s very kind of you, Isaiah. You’re really…different.”
I stared at him. Once again, he’s wearing that conflicted look on his face. Whatever was going on in his mind, it’s eating him up.
Without saying another word, I walked towards where Liam was and plopped on the couch beside him. “I’m just like you,” I said, looking him straight in the eye. “We’re not that different.”
He’s distancing himself away, again. Just like when he acted cold to me after he woke up. Liam’s obviously combating an inner turmoil and he’s doing his best to win against his doubts about this friendship that we’re beginning to have. He made it clear that we belonged to a different world. His family was involved in some f*cked up shit, and Liam didn’t want me involved in it.
And yet here I am, still latched onto him.
There’s no way he could peel me off him now, not when I’m this invested in knowing him better.
“How are we similar, Isaiah?” he asked.
I hated that he looked away from me. It’s as if he’s saying he didn’t have the right to look me in the eye.
“Hmm, for starters, we’re both in North Vale,” I said. I inwardly sighed in relief when I saw him stifle a laugh.
“But the reason why we’re here is different,” Liam said.
“So? I’m still in North Vale. And that means I’m as bad as you,” I said, grinning at him. “See? We’re not that different after all.”
He giggled. It was rewarding to see him acting like a kid that he was, just letting it lose now that there’s no one here to watch him. I loved this side of Liam. Carefree and elated, this was how he’s supposed to act. Not that brooding and miserable guy that he always lets other people see.
“I guess you have a point,” he murmured, laughing.
I smiled but it disappeared as soon as it arrived when I suddenly remembered why we were here. “Is your brother really that dangerous?” I asked.
Liam stopped laughing and nodded. “Tyler is a sadistic guy, ready to kill anyone who’s not useful for him.”
I couldn’t help but think Liam was just exaggerating, but I’d hate to act like I didn’t believe him. I refused to invalidate what he was saying. He knew his brother better than me, but still, I’m not going to back down just because of that.
“But what if you’re not useful to him anymore? Do you think he’s going to kill you too?” What I’m asking was out of the line, but I wanted to know what Liam’s answer was. It might not be evident to him, but I see this weird attachment he had with his brother. Be it because of fear or some sort of strange bother complex, Liam would definitely still defend his brother, like he was brainwashed to do it.
It took him a long time to answer. “I—don’t know,” he said before heaving a loud sigh. “Like I said, it’s complicated.”
I sighed as well. “Yeah, you are complicated.” And I still liked that. Yeah, I definitely do. It’s crazy.
“Anyway, just drop this revenge of yours on Tyler. It won’t do you good to have a feud with the student council president. He has the power you can’t possibly imagine.”
“Fine,” I said, throwing my arms up in the air. “I’ll just think of that as a protective gesture from you. You’re definitely not a coward.”
Liam smiled. “Trust me. I’m doing this for our sake.”
Our sake, huh? I loved the sound of that. “But still…” I saw the relief in his eyes fade away the second I said but again, “can’t we do anything against Tyler?” My gaze went down to stare at his blood-soaked shirt. This was not the first time, it certainly wouldn’t be the last. Not for that Tyler bastard.
He thought for a second. “Wait, maybe there is a way.”
I lit up, delighted that there was a way for this to stop. “What is it? Tell me.”
“Maria, the headmistress of North Vale is the only one who can handle my brother,” he said. “She might be able to do something to make Tyler…stay away for a little while. He’s been really focusing on me the past few days, I’m sure something happened again.”
“Something happened?” I asked.
“Yeah, Tyler’s usually not as brutal as this. He’s venting his anger on me. As always,” Liam murmured.
“Like you’re his punching bag?”
That’s f*cked up.
I groaned. “So, will this Maria person be able to stop Tyler?” Were they in some sort of relationship? A student and a headmistress, that’s a little bit suspicious. How old were they?
“Yes, she’s done it before,” Liam answered. “Tyler was in a bad mood after arguing with one of my brothers and he locked me up in that room and beat me up for days.”
My blood rushed to my head after hearing that. “What? He did that?!” I asked in disbelief. How asshole could that asshole be?!
“Yes, it’s not the worst that he did,” Liam said, forcing a smile at me to convince me that he was alright. But we both knew he wasn’t. “But Maria will be able to convince Tyler to get a vacation. He’s been working too hard managing some of the family business, being the student council, and waiting for me to f*ck up.”
I rolled my eyes.
“She did it before,” he added. “When everyone thought I was going to die. Tyler was gone for a month and so was Maria.”
“What’s their relationship then?” I dared to ask.
“I’m not sure. No one really knows what they are but a lot believes that they’re dating,” Liam answered.
“And you think that too?”
“Yes, they go way back. Way, way back,” he said.
Childhood lovers then. Cute. “How are we going to contact the headmistress?”
“I have her number, but I don’t think it’ll be safe to call her directly,” Liam said. “Tyler’s an obsessed man. He’s probably watching Maria too.”
“Damn, what kind of brother do you have?” I asked, annoyed.
“A crazy one,” Liam murmured. “We’ll just have to go to Maria’s office.”
“Please tell me she’s not a psycho too,” I said as we stood up from the couch.
“Maria’s fine. She’s very understanding. She’s almost like a sister to me,” Liam said.
He opened the door and let me step out first. “Maria’s always there whenever I’m on the brink of death. If not for her, I would be dead now.”
Shit, so Maria’s an important person for Liam, huh? If she was, then there’s no wrong in asking her what the hell was wrong with her boyfriend.
Yeah, at least I could do that.
Walking through the corridor, we saw Lorraine just about to leave her office. She looked at us and smirked. “How’s the talk?” she asked.
“Good. It was enlightening,” I said, giving her a fake grin.
“Great, don’t come back again, okay? And make sure to get more rest, Liam. You won’t last if you continue living like that,” she reminded.
“Tell that to Tyler.”
I walked beside Liam. The hallways were empty as afternoon classes were still going on. “Where is Maria’s office?” I asked.
“We need to take the car to get to her place,” he answered.
I was expecting she’d be in the same building, but I remembered this was North Vale. This place was catered for people who get rich by doing horrible things. It’s clear that North Vale had another agenda. They’re not just a rehabilitation school for juvies, they also served some sort of a luxury prison-slash-hotel for the wealthy’s f*cked up children. It’s surreal.
“Is it really that far?” I asked.
“Yeah, it’ll take us thirty minutes if we go there by foot. Besides,” he halted before we could walk to the corner and turn right. He grabbed me and we hid behind the wall.
“What?” I asked, startled. “What’s wrong?”
“Tyler’s guys, in the corridor,” Liam whispered.
I peeked and saw three guys in the corridor, looking around to search for someone. I eyed Liam and asked, “what are we going to do now?”
“Take another route.” He took my hand and pulled me back to where the clinic was. But instead of returning to Lorraine, we took the emergency stairs. “Can you run?” he asked.
I scoffed. “Can I run?” I repeated, mockingly. “Of course, I can.”
Liam grinned. “Good. Let’s go.”
Running down the stairs wasn’t as bad as when running up. I was amazed Liam hadn’t made any noises while I stomped my way to the ground floor, my heart beating fast. “Why are they looking for you?”
“Because Tyler probably doesn’t believe Stephen,” he replied. “He knows I’m already awake and wants to talk to me.”
“Talk to you? After doing what he did?” He’s f*cking insane. “What does he want to talk about?”
“Most definitely about another job that he wants me to take.”
Liam and I reached the ground floor. Pushing the door open, we were now in the field with no one in sight. He didn’t stop dragging me until we arrived at the parking lot. To my utter surprise, all I see were sports cars lined up, from red to blue to black…it was a rainbow color themed!
“What the—?” For a school that’s supposed to teach discipline, was this even legal? Does everyone in my class drive a luxury car?
“Isaiah, here,” Liam called. I marched to where he was, ogling the expensive vehicles these spoiled kids owned.
“What is this place? Some sort of showroom?”
“People here love showing off,” he commented.
“Yeah, I can see that.”
I heard the car beep and saw Liam was driving a Bentley. A freaking Bentley. I don’t know how much those things cost but I’m not dumb not to know that it’s expensive. “Get in, please,” Liam said.
My heart melted just from those simple words. How often do you meet someone who still possessed chivalry? I didn’t need to be a woman to fall in love with Liam. “Nice car,” I mumbled, smiling to myself before getting in.
This couldn’t be compared to Remus Martinez’ car back when he was trying to impress my best friend. The car was slick and spacious, with the smooth brown leather seat, pristine dashboard, and big screen in the middle. Damn, this car was fancy.
“We need to leave fast or else Tyler will catch up,” Liam said. He turned the engine on and drove to where the headmistress’ office.
“This school is like…big. Even bigger than most famous colleges here in the country,” I said. I was looking outside, awed at everything I’m seeing in North Vale. And this wasn’t even supposed to be a private institution as the school was endorsed and sponsored by the government.
“Yeah, my dad really likes extravagant things. He has all the money in the world, that can f*ck someone up,” Liam said.
I looked at him. I would never understand the problems of the rich. I guess even people who had everything served on their plate still have dilemmas they needed to face. “What’s your father like?” I asked. I might have asked a very personal question but knowing my desire to know and understand Liam, I had to have the balls to ask him things like this.
“Carlos Torres-Shao is a greedy and ambitious man. He’ll do absolutely anything and everything to be the man on top.” I immediately noticed the anguish in Liam’s voice while talking about his father. Along with his brother, that man was also responsible for hurting Liam. “If he can, he’ll sell his family to the devil just to achieve his goals. He’s that kind of man.”
“That’s scary,” I said. I wasn’t afraid to let Liam know what I think about his father. Ninety percent chance he feels the same way too.
“At least he stays loyal to my mother,” Liam said. “The four of us have the same mom, which is good. I think.”
“What’s your mother like then?”
A sweet smile appeared on his face and it warmed me in an instant. “She’s beautiful. Strong too and very kind. She’s the only one who can handle my father. I haven’t seen her in a while.”
“Because you’re in North Vale?” I asked.
Liam shook his head. “Dad doesn’t want us meeting her. He thinks she’s going to take us away, especially me. The two had fought for our custody for years. It’s his fault for marrying someone as rich as him, but that might be one of the few reasons why he married mom. To be his trophy wife.”
I don’t like that term. “I see. It seems like you like your mother.”
“I do,” Liam said, nodding. I loved that smile on his face. “She did her job as a parent. Unlike dad.”
“Do you think your life will be different if you went with your mom?”
Liam was quiet. “Yes, it will be,” he answered. “She didn’t have the same expectations as my father have. I can be the kid that I was if I went with her.”
I scowled. “But your father wouldn’t allow that, huh?”
“No, he needs someone to take over and continue his legacy.”
Staring at his side profile, I said something that I didn’t expect would come out of my mouth. “Just for the record, I don’t have expectations from you. Not that it’s a bad thing.”
Liam laughed. “So, I can’t do anything that will disappoint you?”
“Never. I don’t do that to people. Unless you’re a shitty person like your father and brother, no offense,” I said to which he laughed out loud.
“That definitely takes the pressure off my shoulders,” Liam said, his smile reaching his ears. “What about you? What’s your family like?”
I settled back on the seat and twiddled with my school tie. “Well, for starters, I have a happy family. I’m not bragging though,” I said and we both stifled another laughter. “My dad is strict but is very loving. He works hard for us and he’s an all-around genius. Electrician, plumber, carpenter, anything you need repairing in the house, he can do it.”
Liam was astonished. “That’s amazing,” he commented. I grinned, proud. “So, he’s an engineer then.”
“Kind of. He took a vocational course and worked in lots of companies before. Now, he’s doing a service repair shop and has his own shop near our house. It’s very cool.”
“Yeah, it is. I’d love to meet him.”
“Oh, I think he’ll lose his shit if he meets the son of the owner of the school he enrolled me,” I said, snickering. “As for my mom, she left us early.” Too early. I felt that familiar pain in my chest every time I talk about my mother, but it wouldn’t be fair not to talk about her when Liam openly shared a lot about his family.
“I’m sorry to hear that,” Liam said quietly.
My smile turned somber. “She died a hero. She protected someone during a fight.” The memory of running to that place after hearing several gunshots and people screaming only to find my mom on the floor, blood pooling under her as she gasped for air, it was mortifying. “Sorry, I—”
“No, it’s okay. I’m sorry for asking about it,” he said, lowering his gaze.
I gave him a strained smile. “It’s fine, I can talk about it, but you know, the memories come back sometimes.”