DUKE Chapter 2
Sabrina is my boss at Kaleidoscope Marketing Corp. her parents left her in charge of the company and she's been the best asset to her parent's success. We deal with a full profile of different industries we get involved with like sports, movies, corporates, weddings, and so much more.
I've worked for this company for a couple of years now. Sabrina's parents hired me and then she took over. She knew about Emilio and adored him. He would always bring me lunch or have lunch with me in my office. He didn't work too far from my office. He didn't pursue his football career, it wasn't a passion he had so he went into investments just like his parents.
We both made lucrative money and had a steady life together. We bought a house in Beverly Hills, it wasn't a mansion but it was big enough to fit a family. We wanted to have a family and we were ready to either adopt or find a surrogate but plans changed. A tidal wave hit us out of nowhere and pulled him away from me. Now he was gone and so was my soul.
I sat on the edge of the bed as the birds chirped and the morning sun hit the wooden floor. I raked my hands through my head and studied the wooden floor. I looked up and noticed Emilio's ghostly silhouette lingering in front of me. His emerald eyes gazing at me. He was shirtless in his favorite gray sweatpants. He smirked at me while his dimple appeared. He walked towards me and lifted my chin. His eyes gazing at me. I saw through him and I knew this was only my imagination. He was an apparition in my head but it was real to me. Slowly his image faded and tears came pouring down my cheeks.
"I can't deal with this pain anymore," I got up from my bed and walked towards the kitchen. The floor was cold and the silence of the house was eerie. I opened the drawer where I keep the utensils and grabbed a knife. "Emilio, I can't live without you. I've tried everything: counseling, burying myself with work, going out, sleeping with random strangers, and nothing. I miss you baby so so much," I choked with my own words.
I turned my arm, my wrist facing me. My vision was blurry from all the tears. My heart broke and bleed heavily with sorrow. I slowly pierced the sharp edge of the knife on my wrist and that's when a cold gust of wind grazed my back. It was familiar, it was like Emilio was here.
I heard a whisper. "Emilio?" My voice choked and my lips trembled. "Baby, I miss you," I placed the knife on the counter and dropped to my knees. I slowly bent down on my knees and cried with everything I had. "I can't live without you," I cried into my knees, another gust of wind grazed my back.
"I love you, please move on be happy," I heard Emilio's voice close to the shell of my ear. I picked up my head and that's when I heard my cellphone in my room. I slowly got up and walked into my bedroom. I grabbed my phone from the drawer and saw my mom calling.
"Hey, mom," my voice trembled and I knew she would notice quickly.
"Sweetie, you've been crying again. I was making coffee for your father and a tug in my stomach told me to call you."
I sat on the edge of the bed and began to pour out my tears again. "Mom, I miss him so much. It's been a year and I can't get him out of my head, my heart," I cried into the phone.
"Baby, listen to me. Emilio wouldn't want this for you. He always wanted to see you happy and this is not what he wants to see, think about it in that way," I glanced at the drawer and saw our wedding picture. We both dressed like princes but I told him he was my king. I stood up and grabbed the picture while I held my phone on my with my other hand.
"Remember our wedding, mom?" We married right after college. It wasn't a huge wedding but it had most of our family. His part of the family was huge, he was half Latino and half Caucasian. His mother's half was pretty big but I loved every bit of it.
"How could I forget it was like a true fairytale. Both of you were so handsome," her voice choked up.
"Mom, I didn't even get to say goodbye to him and that's what kills me every day," when I made it to the hospital, he had already passed away. I couldn't even see him right away.
"Sweetie, listen to me. I know it's hard and I know you love Emilio with all your heart but it's been a year, this isn't healthy. I'm worried about you. Take a vacation and relax your mind. Be happy again," my mom's words soothed me but my heart was still bleeding love.
I took a deep breath and put the frame back on top of the drawer. "I feel better, mom," I lied. "I need to get ready for work," which was the truth.
"Call me whenever you need anything. I'm here for you, baby."
"Thanks, mom," I hung up and quickly went into the shower. It was almost 8 am and I needed to be at work at 9 sharp. Sabrina has a new project and needs a team. I hope she picks me. I need the distraction.
Of course, this day couldn't have gotten worst. The morning was going smoothly until after I grabbed Sabrina her usually black coffee and a camomile tea for me. I needed to calm my nerves. I got stuck in traffic downtown. I parked my car in the underground parking and hurried into the building. I went to the top level and hurried into the meeting room.
I opened the door slowly and of course, all eyes sprinted in my direction. Sabrina's eyes softened and she continued to talk. I sat in the last seat of the marble table as I settled my briefcase on the floor and put the coffee holder on top of the table.
"We have a huge account on our plate, he has money and he's trusting us to execute this project. All of you are my most talented workers so please don't mess this up," her eyes landed on me. She smirked and continued talking.
I took a sip of my tea and it burned my tongue. "Fuck!" I blurted out and everyone darted their eyes at me. "I'm so sorry," Sabrina's eyes softened at me again.
"So I've chosen the group leader for this project," I smiled at her because I've been wanting an opportunity to be a group leader. She glanced at all of us and then at me. She turned to Beckham. "You're group leader, Beckham," my confidence died in my chair. My eyes shot down as I stared at my teacup, this certainly wasn't my day.
Everyone congratulated Beckham. He was quite good with projects. He was handsome and a good leader. His eyes landed on mine, he tilted his head and I forced a smile at him. My ego was bruised and my heart was broken. It couldn't get any worst than this.
"Ok everyone, meeting dismissed. I'll send Beckham all the information and he'll split the project how he wants," everyone got up as I did as well.
Beckham approached me slowly. "Hey-hmm-I know you always wanted to be a leader. I was just as surprised as you. I hope we can work well together," his words were genuine and I couldn't help but feel grateful to be in a group project with him.
"Don't sweat it. I know you'll do fantastic," his brown chocolate eyes gazed at me. I never noticed how handsome he truly was. Neatly combed hair, brown eyes with hints of yellow speckled throughout the iris. He was tall and I noticed some muscle going in his arms.
"Well, I'll catch you later," he left and I stood up.
"Duke, a word," Sabrina came over and sat down on a chair. "You were my first choice for this group project."
"Then why didn't you give it to me," I was slightly annoyed with her now.
"Sit," she gestured at the chair I was sitting on. I passed her the coffee cup I bought her. "Thank you."
"I'm forcing you to take a vacation, you've been a working machine here. Duke, this isn't healthy. Emilio was like family to everyone here, we all miss him" I could feel tears forming in my eyes. Everyone loved Emilio. "But you need a clear mind and overworking yourself this isn't going to help your cause."
I couldn't hold my tears anymore, they poured down like a broken faucet. "Sabrina, I miss him so much," I glanced at the door if it was closed shut. "I grabbed a knife earlier this morning," her eyes widen at my words.
"DUKE! No, this isn't healthy. You're going on mandatory vacation and I'm sending you to a therapist," she put her coffee cup down. She stood up and cupped my face. "What were you thinking, Duke? Why?" her eyes filled with water. I moved my face as she let go.
"I don't know. I imagined him in front of me and it triggered a deep dark hole inside me. I miss him so much, Sabrina."
"Ohh sweetie," she pulled me into a hug and I cried my eyes out. "Please take this vacation and then see a therapist, this isn't healthy at all."
I nodded as I leaned back and noticed I stained her white blouse with my tears. She chuckled. "It's fine, I already booked you 3 days in paradise, Cancun, Mexico."
I wiped my tears and gave her a small smile. "You didn't have to." But she stared at me with her big blue eyes.
"You're one of my best employees. Go and relax. Have fun, maybe you'll meet someone," she winked at me, meeting someone was nowhere on my agenda.
She handed me an envelope while we stood outside my office. "Here is your plane ticket, hotel and all expenses are on me, you leave on Friday. You'll be on vacation with pay. Take the rest of the week. I mean it I don't want you coming back earlier," she pulled me into a hug.
"Thank you, Sabrina. I appreciate everything you've done."
"No problem, now get to work," she walked away as I walked into my office.
I held the envelope in my hand as I ran my fingers on the edge of my desk. I studied the shiny cherry wood. I glanced outside the window and admired the sun's ray casting down on the metropolitan city of Los Angeles. The honking of cars echoed through the busy streets. I pivoted myself back to my desk and sat down on my leather chair.
I noticed the newest issue of Sports Today was on my desk. It had Emilio's name on it, he had these issues sent to my office. He told me it was another way to see me. I took a deep breath as I grabbed the magazine and saw the guy on the cover. He was a hockey player, Dashiell "Dash" Mitchell. He was handsome. I kind of knew of him, Emilio was into sports so he kept me informed on popular players. Dashiell was admired by many when he came out as gay. I also heard he lost fans as well but then he disappeared.
I read something in small print:
"Dash Mitchell has been spotted vacationing in Europe after a year hiatus."
I opened the page with the article. It wasn't a long article and there was a picture of him by himself sitting outside a restaurant. He had a leather jacket, a black trucker hat, and black fitted jeans. He was drinking wine. He reminded me so much of Emilio. He had the same dark features and defined jawline. Dash looked a bit more suntan. His blue eyes glowed in this picture. I felt my hands tingle. I was gripping the magazine far too hard when there was a knock on the door.
I put the magazine down. "Come in."
The door opened and that's when I saw her. "Esmeralda," Emilio's mom. I stood up quickly as she came in and shut the door. She held a bag and placed it on the floor. I pulled her into a hug.
"Ohh sweetie," I loved her Spanish accent. I couldn't help but cry into her shoulder. "I know, I miss him so much."
We hugged for a good 5 minutes. I haven't seen Esmeralda for a couple of months and I'm glad she's here.