But he never loved them. They never loved him, nor liked him to begin with. Why you ask?
Costano wasn't your high school quarterback. He wasn't the hottest boy. He wasn't the player that had girls dropping their panties, hoping they'd share a night with him. He wasn't the bad boy with tattoos and had a secret spot he'd show to the only girl who managed to capture his heart.
He wasn't the guy that teenage girls read in books and wished they could have.
Costano was the typical nerd. He wore glasses, had the highest grades in all his classes, and boring. He was a loner who never really spoke to anyone besides his best friend, Sebastián Vázquez.
He had known Sebastián since the start of high school and have been best friends since. Sebastián, in a way, was like Costano, only that was more involved in school events and activities. Costano was more of the leaving school and not coming back until the next school day kind of guy.
Besides, he needed to be at home. Not because he needed to study, his grades were perfectly fine. He made sure to get his work done before going to bed. Costano needed to be home for his parents.
But that's a story for another time.
Surely, after high school things changed. Sebastián moved to a different state while Costano stayed behind, but they still kept in touch.
Then came college.
For all four years he was single yet again, but things were different this time. He met a girl. She was beautiful, radiant, and smart. She amazed you with her sense of humor and her ability to brighten your day. Words alone could not describe her, he thought.
He fell in love with her, but she was out of his league. She never knew his feelings about her because he never told her. He didn't know exactly how to and whenever he tried to, it seemed as if he was just being friendly.
In the end, their love never happened.
Sad right? Yet, it happens all the time to many people.
What was he thinking? Why would someone like her want someone like him? That is what he always asked himself.
He thought of himself as nothing compared to her. She deserved better than him, he thought. She came from a family full of wealth. Her father was a business man and her mother was a model, both incredibly successful people. She even became a model like her mother and earned a degree like her father. They were the perfect family, one he would never be a part of because of who he was.
It was at that moment that Costano decided to change himself for the better. Every day, he would work hard to improve himself. He became the best of the best in everything he set his mind towards.
He graduated college with straight A's, became Valedictorian of his graduating class, and received many scholarships and university letters for his achievements. He decided to go to one of the best law schools in the country.
After a few years, he graduated and became one of the most highly payed lawyers in the nation.
Costano was now a new man. He had improved himself and changed his whole lifestyle. He changed his look as well. He began using contacts more often instead of his glasses. He always wore suits unless he went to the gym or stayed home.
He had always been tall and handsome behind his glasses and nerdy appearance. It wasn't until his big change that people started to notice, especially women. Women started to pursue him.
You may ask yourself, did he find a new love? Did he get together with the woman from college? Did he forget about her?
The answer is no.
He no longer wanted to pursue love. Being a lawyer was no easy job no matter how well it paid him. His job showed him the darker side of love. Marriage is a beautiful thing, but the moment that love ends, things get ugly. That means divorce.
Divorce is probably as painful as death, like many have said. Couples who were once in love either become each other's worst enemies or stay as friends. The likelihood of them getting married again is slim and most do not even make it that far before they get divorced again. Even the statistics show you that nothing really lasts forever.
Love is a beautiful illusion, but also dangerous.
Why would Costano want to fall in love? What good would that bring him when it will all just end in a divorce. He could lose everything he had worked so hard for. Love is just a trap and he was not falling for it.
Costano was on his way to his office to meet his new client. Yes, another divorce case. He reached into his pocket and pulled his ringing phone. He checked the caller ID and answered the phone.
"Yes Ms. Dunn?" He asked.
"Mr. Menendez, you have a few potential clients that are waiting for you," his assistant answered.
"What about Mr. Castillo is he there? I have a meeting with him in a few minutes."
"Yes, he's here. What would you like me to tell him?" She asked.
"Tell him I'll be there shortly. Make sure he has all the documents I asked him to bring."
He ended the call and placed his phone back in his pocket. He raised his left arm, in which he held his suitcase with, and looked at his wrist watch.
Suddenly, someone bumped into him, dropping all their papers. Luckily for him those were not his papers. Either way, Costano bent down to help pick up the papers.
"I'm so sorry!" Said the woman. She bent down and grabbed her papers from the ground.
Costano lifted his gaze to the woman's face and froze. Everything and everyone around them seemed to vanish.
She had straight black hair that reached the middle of her back. Her olive skin glowed under the sunlight. Her pomegranate colored lips were alluring. Costano slightly shook his head.
This could not be happening.
The woman had finally picked up all her papers and noticed that Costano had stopped. She raised her head and stared back at his blue eyes. Her eyes were brown. Even though he'd seen many brown eyes, hers were the only ones that he never wanted to look away from.
Damn those eyes, he thought to himself. She was a beautiful woman, but he knew he could not fall for her or with anyone.
"Excuse me sir."
He snapped out of his trance. "Sorry, here," he said. He handed her back the papers he had collected.
"Thank you and again I am sorry for bumping into you," she said as they both stood back up. She had a slim body and was about four inches shorter compared to his six foot height.
"It's okay just be more attentive next time."
"Of course, well... have a great day," she nodded her head slightly and smiled.
Damn that smile, he thought. He nodded his head slightly and began walking away.
What was going on with me? He thought. She was just a woman who bumped into him. Many people bump into each other. Her appearance caught his attention, just like with many other women.
Costano was living life to the fullest because of his accomplishments. He achieved everything he dreamed of and more. But he was still missing one thing and that was love. Maybe it was finally time to let love into his life, or to at least see where a relationship with her could take him.
There was something else about this particular woman. Maybe it wouldn't be a bad thing to figure out what it was. Maybe, just maybe, this was a good thing.
"Excuse me miss," he said as he turned around. The woman stopped walking and turned to look at him.
"Yes?" She asked as he walked up to her.
"I was wondering if I could know your name," he smiled down at her.
"My name is Pia Celona," she extended her hand.
"Pleasure to meet you Ms. Celona, Costano Menendez," he grabbed her hand and shook it.
The moment they let go of each other's hands, Costano continued. "I hope I'm not taking much of your time, but I was wondering if maybe we could see each other again for coffee or something."
Costano was nervous. He had no idea whether he was doing things right. He never actually went on a date with anyone. He did try his best to show that he was interested in the girl he met in college, but we all know how that turned out. She always saw it as a kind gesture because they were best friends.
It didn't matter anyways. She was now happy with someone else. Someone who wasn't him.
"Oh no it's fine! I just hope I'm not the one taking from your time..." She stared down at his suitcase before staring back at his blue eyes. "And I'd like that to meet for coffee or something."
He gave her a toothless smile, "I still have a few minutes to spare. Are you heading anywhere in particular?"
"I was on my way to my interview," she clutched her portfolio and held it closer to her chest. "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." She frowned.
"If you don't mind I could help guide you. I've lived here long enough to know my way around."
"Thank you Mr. Menendez, I appreciate it and again I'm sorry for earlier."
"No problem and it happens to all of us at some point," he chuckled.
She walked alongside Costano after telling him the address of where she had to be. He was actually heading in the same direction.
They got to know each other better on the way. She learned he was born and raised in America, but came from a family of Hispanic descendants. Pia told him how she had moved from Guam after graduation from high school and started university here in the United States.
He had become a certified lawyer three years ago. She explains that she was able to finish her studies in three years due to the fact that she studied during the summer as well. Today was her interview for a position as a fashion designer.
They discovered that they had a nine year age gap. She was twenty one while he was thirty.
They enjoyed the time they spent together, but the time soon ended when they had to go their separate ways. At least they could agree that there would be a next time. They exchanged numbers and said their goodbyes before Pia headed towards the building that Costano had told her.
As he walked away, Costano smiled to himself.
Costano said he would never fall in love again, let alone marry a woman. But that changed the moment he looked into her eyes. He knew she was the one.
• • •
Months passed since Costano and Pia began dating. They did not live together and the thought of not waking up next to each other made his heart ache. He could not keep living like this. Today was their seven-month anniversary and he was ready to ask her.
During the whole day, he was a nervous wreck. What if she says no? What if she thought it was too soon? He took a deep breath to calm himself down. She loved him. He knew that and he loved her just as much. He just hoped she'd say yes.
Later that evening, they were having dinner at a local seafood restaurant. "Pia, baby, happy anniversary," he smiled at her.
"Happy anniversary," she smiled back at him. She reached across the table and held his hand. He gave her hand a light squeeze.
Costano cleared his throat, "there is something I've been meaning to ask you."
"What is it? Is something wrong?" She became anxious.
He stood up from his chair and bent down on one knee beside her. He pulled out a small black box out of his pocket and brought it in front of her. "Costano..." she said as tears filled her eyes.
He lifted the lid of the box, showcasing the ring inside of it. It had a diamond held by a gold border. The gold band of the ring was thin. It had small diamonds embedded around it.
Simple, and yet it meant so much.
"Pia, since the moment I saw you there was something special about you. For a long time, I was afraid of falling in love and yet here I am today. I'm in love with my beautiful girlfriend. Pia you're more than just beautiful in my eyes. You're a hard worker, independent, smart... I could never run out of ways to describe how amazing you are." With his free hand, he held hers and rubbed his thumb against the top of it.
He continued, "these past few months have been the incredible with you by my side. I wish we could be like that for the rest of our lives. I know it has only been seven months. At first I was worried that it was too soon, but after thinking about it, I'm ready to ask you. I want to wake up next to you every morning. I want to hear about your day every evening we're at our home together. I want to do so much more with you by having you as my wife. Pia, will you marry me?"
Costano said he would never fall in love again nor get married. Yet, here he was asking Pia to marry him. Love does that to you.
He was blinded by love and the thought of a happy ending.
"Yes!" Pia said as tears spilled from her eyes. Costano placed the ring on her ring finger and wiped her tears away. He was going to marry the love of his life.
Costano felt like the luckiest man, full of happiness and love the moment she said yes. More so when they finally got married. Family and friends gathered to see the happy couple embark on the start of a new journey.
Two years flew by and little did he know that everything would come crashing down on him.