Three Years Ago
Roman Martinez—Age 18
It’s funny how the line between love and hate could disintegrate in a hot minute. In my lifetime, I’d never really felt either until recently. Never show emotion. Never give away your hand, son. Only fools and pathetic saps gave into feelings. Besides, words like “love” and “hate” were only stupid ideologies that poets and idiots needed to put a label on to justify weaknesses. That was the Robert Martinez school of thought, and my brother and I had his words ingrained in our head from an early age.
I threw back the remaining contents of my cognac. Well, my dad’s cognac (but whatever, semantics) and perched over my father’s wall-to-wall office windows staring at the two blond women, mother and daughter, walking outside. My eyes were drawn to the younger one. Even at a distance, I caught how the sunlight glinted off her long, light blond hair. I knew the locks felt like spun silk as it threaded through my fingers. I always loved to touch her hair or put a stray strand behind her ears.
Even now as she strode down the sidewalk, she held her head high with a suitcase in one hand and duffel bag strapped over her shoulder. After living here for almost eight years, she’d been kicked out of the kingdom. She came from nothing and unfortunately would end with nothing. Well, except for a paltry sum of money my father was forced to pay.
“She is quite beautiful, isn’t she?” my brother Antoni said in polite disinterest. He was sixteen and followed our father’s lead to a tee. He even had Robert’s mannerisms down to an art with his casual stance and arms crossed negligently across his chest. “I bet she was quite a fuck, too.”
I clenched the snifter in my hand tighter but said nothing. Depraved. You are depraved, and an embarrassment, Roman. You fell for the trap. Why can’t you be more like Antoni? My father’s words from a few days ago quenched my fury.
I could only blame myself, but I could blame her as well. She could’ve had it all. She could’ve been my queen. But not now.
“Tell me, hermano, how was she? Was her pussy as tight as I’d imagined?”
“Did she tell you how much she loved you before or after she stabbed you in the back?”
“Antoni,” I growled and soon pain lanced my palm and fingers, followed by the obnoxious sound of crystal shattering on Travertine tile.
“Careful.” My brother raised his eyebrows in mild interest as he pointed at the crushed glass nestled in my hand. Blood seeped from my skin, dripping on the floor. “You could get an infection.”
“Then it’s nothing less than I deserve, right?” Although a smarter man would’ve tried to stop the bleeding, I didn’t. Instead, I stood frozen in place, gazing outside as I watched the pretty little liar follow her mother into the back seat of a black sedan that would take them away permanently. Despite my newfound animosity, I still fought my so-called vulnerable emotions. I would kill those feelings. She ruined it all. However, along the way, she ruined me too.
It’s been said that one moment can change your life completely. I thought I’d already experienced that moment a few years ago. However, it seemed like fate was a raging, vengeful bitch that cloaked itself in the form of a six three dark-haired, brooding devil with no heart. Well, fuck me. If only I’d been warned. If only I could hit reset on the night I would see him again. If only I could forget him altogether. Before I get into all that, let me back up a bit.
I was eighteen and embarking on a new chapter in my life being the first week as a freshman on campus at Hillside University. It was a private school settled in the ragged beauty of the hill country in central Texas. Thus, the reason people called it the college on the hill. I’d been so excited for the day to finally come when I could move into my dorm room. That’s not to say I didn’t feel a case of nerves and a little self-conscious because I’d arrived here alone with all my clothes and sheets crammed in a plastic trash bag and a pillow nestled in the crook of my arm while I leaned against the door of my old, beat-up Corolla taking in the scenery. Students fluttered around me with moving boxes in their arms and their parents hovering around them as they trounced in and out of the residence hall.
Squaring my shoulders, I made my way to the open doors. Trudging through the packed hallway on the second floor, I passed by two girls gushing about rush week and the sororities they were considering. This was probably the fifth time I’d heard the mention of fraternities and sororities in the span of ten minutes making my way to my room. Rushing for a sorority would probably be a great idea considering I was somewhat of a shy person, but that was an extra expense I couldn’t afford. To be honest, I didn’t know if I was sorority material. Even if I were accepted into one, I would’ve stuck out like a sore thumb.
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