The Court of Love

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Bonus #1

Prologue

Costano’s POV

"Why is it so hard to find love?" I asked myself.

All through our middle and high school, I never found love. Yes, I had my crushes, but I never loved them. They never loved me either, nor liked me to begin with.

Who would though? I'm a nerd and a loner who never spoke to anyone.

I was glad when I finally graduated from high school. It sucked not having friends. I always sat by myself during lunch in the library. You could say it's partly my fault. I never actually tried to make friends.

Then came college. For all four years I was single yet again, but things were different this time. I met a girl. Words alone could not describe her, I thought. For the first time in my life, I fell in love with her, but she was out of my league. She never knew my feelings about her because I never told her. In the end, our love never happened. Sad right? Yet it happens all the time to many people.

What was I thinking? Why would she want someone like me? Love isn't enough. Love never is enough. She deserved better than me. She came from a successful family full of wealth. She even followed her parents footsteps and became as successful as them.

I never expected anything less from her. She is smart and beautiful. She is a hard worker and when she sets her mind to something, she does it. I, on the other hand, may have good grades, but that isn't enough. She deserves a man who will give her everything she needs. She needs someone that is like her. Successful. Wealthy. Handsome. And sees her as the center of their world. I knew I would never be that man, and yet I somehow hoped that would one day change.

At that moment that I decided to change myself for the better. Every day, I worked hard to improve myself. I became the best of the best in everything I set my mind to. After I graduated from Harvard, I was now a new man. I had improved himself and changed my whole lifestyle. I changed my look as well.

It wasn't until my big change that people started to notice me, especially women. Women started to pursue me. You may ask yourself, did I find a new love? Did I get together with the woman from college? Did I forget about her? The answer is no.

I no longer wanted to pursue love. Being a lawyer was no easy job no matter how well it paid. My job showed me the darker side of love. Marriage is a beautiful thing, but the moment that love ends, things got ugly. That meant divorce. Love is a beautiful illusion, but also dangerous.

It wasn't really the fact that I saw it happen everyday during my job, but the fact that she had met a man and got married. I never showed up to her wedding. I regret it everyday, but I couldn't. I couldn't see her walk down the isle and up the stairs towards the man she would call her husband. The man she'd be with for the rest of her life with and start a family with.

I'm being selfish, yes. I had always been selfish when it came to her. But I couldn't allow my heart to break further than it had already. I couldn't stop her from being with the man she loved and was happy with. I couldn't ruin her happiness, because I knew it would have ruined me more than I was now.

She didn't love me, but I was happy. Happy that she found love in a man that was better than I was.

• • •

Three years later, I was on my way to my office. I had ended the call with my assistant, Ms. Dunn. I raised my left arm and looked at my wrist watch. Suddenly, someone bumped into my, dropping all their papers. I was thankful all my papers were inside my suitcase. I bent down to help pick up the papers.

"I'm so sorry! I was so busy looking at my phone that I got distracted and didn't notice you," said the woman. She bent down and grabbed her papers from the ground. I lifted my gaze to the woman's face and froze. Everything and everyone around us seemed to vanish.

I looked at her complexion. She had straight brown hair that reached her shoulders. Her ivory skin glowed under the sunlight. Her pomegranate colored lips were alluring. I shook my head.

This could not be happening.

The woman had picked up all her papers. She raised her head and stared back at me. Her eyes were brown. Damn those eyes, I thought. She was a beautiful woman, but I knew I could not to fall for her or for anyone else.

What was going on with me? She was just a woman who bumped into me. Many people bump into each other. Her appearance caught my attention, just like with many other women. Yet, there was something else about this woman. I was living life to the fullest because of my accomplishments. I achieved everything I dreamed of and more. But I was still missing one thing and that was love.

I said I would never fall in love again, let alone marry a woman. But that changed the moment I looked into her eyes I knew it was love at first sight. I knew she was the one.

• • •

Pia's POV

"No! I'm going to be late!" I quickly exited my car, making sure I locked it before rushing away. I had slept through my alarm yet again and by the time I woke up, I had less than an hour to get ready and make it to my first interview on time.

It has been about three months since I graduated from college after completing a fashion design program and earning my bachelor's degree. I won't lie and say it was easy, because it wasn't. Coming from Guam to the U.S. at eighteen and not being fluent in English was my biggest struggle. Although, English is taught in Guam, we mainly speak our language, Chamorro. It's not the same learning a language where they teach you the formal way to speak versus actually going to the country and everyone is speaking slang or words you were never taught in class.

As cliche as it may sound, I had always dreamed of becoming a fashion designer. Just the thought of designing my own clothes and being able to sell it to those who admire my work motivated me to make my dream a reality. I know I can do it, I just need to make sure I ace this interview. If only I hadn't woken up late.

I hate mornings. I do with all my heart. I swear that once I gain more recognition and build my own business I won't wake up this early in the morning.

I groaned, "do I have all my designs with me?" I looked down at my portfolio. I haven't had a time to organize them properly. I skimmed through my designs when I suddenly bumped into someone, causing my papers to fly all over the place. No!

I looked at the person who I had bumped into. The man crouched down and began to pick up my papers. I quickly bent down to do the same. I apologized to him, knowing it was my fault that we had gotten into this mess into the first place.

Once I gathered the remaining papers off the ground I noticed the man had stopped. I looked up and just as I was about to thank him, I forgot what I was going to say when my gaze landed on his face.

As Americans would say... holy shit.

Bunitu is what this man was. I swear that on this very moment I had never met a man as handsome as him. Is that even possible? Of course it is, I'm staring at him right now! (bunitu = handsome)

His jet black hair. His blue eyes. Oh no. I think I'm in love.

I then realized that I had been staring for too long. He probably thinks I'm some creep staring at him weirdly. My interview! I forgot!

"Excuse me, sir," I broke the silence.

"Sorry, here," he handed me back the papers he had collected.

"Thank you and again I am sorry for bumping into you," I said as we both stood back up.

"It's okay just be more attentive next time."

"Of course, well... have a great day," I smiled. I made my way around him and began walking away.

"Excuse me miss," I heard the man say. I stopped walking and turned to look at him.

"Yes?" He walked up to me.

"I was wondering if I could have your name and number," he smiled. I was already late for my interview and at this point I didn't care anymore. This man had my full attention. How was I ever going to turn my back on him?

"My name is Pia Celona and yours?" I extended my hand.

"Pleasure to meet you Ms. Celona, Costano Menendez," he grabbed my hand and shook it. We let go of each other's hands. "I hope I'm not taking much of your time."

"Oh no it's fine! I just hope I'm not the one taking from your time," I stared at his suitcase before staring back at his blue eyes.

He gave me a toothless smile, "no I still have a few minutes to spare. Are you heading anywhere in particular?"

"I was on my way to my interview," I clutched my portfolio and frowned. "Now that I think about it, I don't know where I'm supposed to go. I have an idea where, but I've never been to this side of town before."

"If you don't mind I could help guide you. I've lived here long enough to know my way around here."

"Thank you Mr. Menendez, I appreciate it and again I'm sorry for earlier."

"I understand it happens. Just be careful next time."

"Of course."

I walked alongside Costano. I had told him the address and he said that it was on his way to where he was heading. We got to know each other better as we walked to our destinations. I learned he is American and of Italian descent. He is twenty eight, which makes it a six year difference between him and I. He had become a certified lawyer three years ago after graduating from Harvard.

I told him about how where I came from, the career I wanted to pursue, and some of the struggles I faced when I first came to America. I enjoyed this time we spent together, but this time soon ended when we had to go our separate ways.

We exchanged numbers and said our goodbyes before I headed in the direction Costano had told me to follow. I check the time on my phone and saw that I was ten minutes late. Yikes.

I stepped inside the building and searched for the elevator. After clicking the button, the doors immediately opened and I stepped inside the metal container. I clicked another button and waited. When the doors opened again, I made my way through the third floor and up to the front desk.

The man looked up from his computer and smiled at me. "Hello miss how can I help you?"

"Hi, I have an interview today with Mrs. Perez. I know I'm late. I just hope it isn't too late."

"Ms. Celona." I turned to look in the direction the voice came from. A woman, wearing a navy blue suit, approached us with a smile on her face.

She stood in front of me and said, "I'm Mrs. Perez." She held her hand out. "I was worried you weren't going to show up."

I widened my eyes and shook her hand, "hello Mrs. Perez. I'm sorry for the delay. I've never been to this side of town. It took some help to find my way around."

"I felt the same way when my parents and I moved here. Don't worry though it'll become more familiar to you the more you visit. I just hope there won't be a delay next time."

"Thank you and of course not, Mrs. Perez."

"Let's head to my office. I would love to see your designs. Your professor gave a good review about you and I believe that man."

We headed towards her office and on the way my thoughts went to Costano. I smiled to myself. It had been less than half a hour since I met him, but the moment I looked into his eyes I knew it was love at first sight.

I knew he was the one.
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