Brother After Dark/C3 Chapter Two
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Brother After Dark/C3 Chapter Two
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C3 Chapter Two

I sighed in defeat. They knew I would do anything to get that locket. It was the only memory I had left of my brother. True, we weren’t related by blood, but he loved me more than my biological parents ever did. He was my hero, my knight in shining armor. When I lost him, I wasn’t able to fully recover. Having that locket made me feel that I still had a part of him with me.

I turned on my heel and went back to the bathroom without giving them an answer.

This is going to be a long and interesting evening!


The Red Festival was not just known as being one of the best yearly rock concerts, it was known for wild parties as well. People liked to dress up here, pretend to be somebody else. Perhaps my friends chose the perfect occasion to dare me to let myself loose.

I wore a white turtleneck sleeveless cropped top, white fitted pants, and high-heeled boots.

My usual ash-blond hair was dyed with purple and blue highlights. Then I curled the ends to give it a flirty effect. I put on solid black contact lenses to cover up my very distinctive eyes. I loved my rare amber eyes. They gave an orange hue against the light, like it had a fire-red center. I wasn’t sure how I got them. Both my parents had blue eyes, like my brother. Maybe that’s why they loved my brother more. He looked so much like them even though he was adopted.

I smiled at my reflection in the mirror. My flat belly was exposed, showing off my crystal butterfly navel ring. I thought I looked cute and flirty, and not slutty at all.

When I came out of the bathroom, Marie and Jessie were wide-eyed and open-mouthed.

“Okay, I call dibs on her,” Marie breathed.

I wrinkled my nose at her.

“You are such a slut,” Jessie said to her. Then she turned to me. “You look out-of-this-world gorgeous! Looks like you’re all dolled up for the adventure of your life.”

I rolled my eyes. “Of course, it could well be my last!”

“You look like you stepped right out of the manga pages. I bet guys are going to kill their way over to you.”

“Well, I’m here to enjoy the biggest concert on the planet. Not to hook up with guys.”

“What happened to our bet?” Marie pouted.

I shrugged. “Well, if somebody interesting comes along, maybe I’ll play this game with you. If not, I would have to recover that locket some other way. Even if I have to murder you both! You know how important that necklace is to me!”

“We know,” Marie said. “But seriously, your brother couldn’t be the greatest guy in your life.”

“You don’t know the things my brother did for me,” I said in a serious tone.

I touched the scar on my right forearm. It reminded me of the time I ran away once, desperate to catch my parents’ attention. I hid in an old shed a mile away from home. Nobody came. Not even for hours. Only my brother, who knew exactly what I was thinking. He convinced me to come home. On our way out, a metal bar fell from the ceiling, slicing my arm and the skin on his back. We were both rushed to the emergency room and got stitches afterward. My parents never left his room. I had nannies looking out for me in mine.

My brother told my parents he wanted to play in the shed. I was only there because I was stopping him. He told them a metal bar fell off from the ceiling, and if I wasn’t in the way, it would have hit him big time. He told them I saved his life, but it was really the other way around. My brother saved me, got hurt because of me, and lied to our parents so they wouldn’t punish me. From that moment on, I knew my brother would do anything for me—blood-related or not.

“He will always be the greatest guy in my life.” I sighed.

“Many of us base our ideal guys on our fathers. I guess you base yours on your big brother.”

I laughed humorlessly. “Yes, that’s right. Because I think all other guys are better than my father.”

It was true. My father barely looked at me. On the rare occasions that he did, he did so dismissively, like I was the most unimportant person in the world.

“That’s really harsh,” Jessie said.

“That’s really true.” I sighed. “Come on, I don’t want to ruin my last day of freedom thinking about a man who doesn’t give a shit about me, or a guy who’s been gone from my life for fourteen years. Maybe you’re right. Maybe there is a guy out there who’s not meant to cause me grief.”

“Amen!” The girls cheered.

We arrived at the concert grounds fifteen minutes later. It was packed. Loud music was blaring in every speaker in the four corners of the grounds. Some people were camping out and already drinking beer.

“Now, let’s get some booze,” Marie said excitedly.

We checked out the stores on the sides of the concert ground. There were temporary tattoo stations, souvenir shops, and food stands. Marie convinced all of us to get temporary neon tattoos.

“That thing’s not going to wear off for days! My parents are not gonna approve,” I argued.

“And you care because?” Marie raised a brow at me.

She was right! Besides, when did my parents care about what I do? When did they care about me ever?

So, I decided to get a butterfly tattoo with the letter Z on the center in neon pink and green. I had it drawn over the scar on my arm. When the artist was done, I was actually glad I did it.

“Why the letter Z?” Marie asked.

I laughed. “Maybe that’s my prerequisite for your little game. I’ll hook up with a guy… only if his name starts with a Z.”

Marie glared at me. “Are you freaking kidding me? You had to choose the most difficult letter in the alphabet?”

“Well, there’s always X and Q,” I said, laughing.

She rolled her eyes and strode away angrily.

I paid for our bill, and then I went out of the tent to follow her.

“Marie, wait u—” I shrieked as my foot got caught on a rope barrier at the entrance of the tent. “Fuck!” I cursed.

But before I could fall flat on my face, I felt strong arms wrap around me, catching me and saving me from pain and severe embarrassment.

“Easy, doll,” I heard a guy say. He settled me on my feet. I looked up and found a pair of gorgeous blue eyes staring down at me.

I swallowed hard.

Shit! He is beautiful!

He was tall, with combed-back dark-blond bangs and side undercut. He had a strong jaw and deep-set blue eyes framed by long, dark lashes. He was wearing a black leather jacket over a white fitted shirt that subtly hinted at toned abdominal muscles underneath.

Shit! Why did I notice that?

“Th-thanks,” I managed to say, and I seriously hoped I didn’t squeak.

“Be careful, okay?” he said, his eyes twinkling as he smiled at me, revealing a set of deep dimples on both cheeks.

“Yeah… I’ll remember that,” I managed to reply.

We stood there for a couple of seconds. I could feel the uncomfortable silence thickening.

“I’m…” he started saying.

At the same time, I said, “I’m in a hurry.” Then I started backing away.

Shit! What was I supposed to say? Ask him, “You were saying?” because he was about to introduce himself?

Unable to take that back, I gave him a small wave and ran off in the direction where Marie went off to. She still looked pissed at me when I found her.

“What’s wrong?”

“I’m frustrated with you,” she grumbled. “If you’re unhappy, it’s because you refuse to believe that you deserve to be happy! I think you are the problem! Not the guys you dated! You!”

I had never seen Marie mad before. She was always positive, always saw the good in people. She was the type who would go home with guys and actually believed they would call her when they promised they would, and they almost always never did. But she didn’t lose hope. When she failed, she would just try again. Marie was not really a slut, just a hopeless romantic.

“I’m sorry,” I said. “I was only messing with you. I am open to possibilities. In fact, I tripped on the way here and a really beautiful guy caught me in his arms.”

Her eyes widened. “You’re kidding me!”

I shook my head. “But I didn’t get his name. I was running after you.”

“What? You chose me over a cute guy who could possibly make you see rainbows and stars?”

“Of course! You’re my friend. Lasses before asses. Chicks before dicks? Ever heard those popular phrases before?”

“Well, as your friend, I’m ordering you to get back there!”

She pulled me toward the tattoo tent again. In a way, I was hoping to see that guy again too. I wasn’t easy to impress, and I didn’t usually get attracted at first sight, but somehow, there was just something about that guy. Strange and yet oddly familiar. Dangerous and yet trustworthy.

“Is that him?” Marie pointed toward a blond guy standing in front of the tent. He was cute, but not cuter than the guy I bumped into.

I shook my head.

“Is that him?” she pointed at another guy.

I shook my head again.


“Come on, Marie, let’s go find Jess,” I said. “He’s not here anymore.”

“Oh, that’s sad. The first guy you ever showed interest in could be gone because of me.”

“Never mind, Marie. I believe in destiny. When it’s meant to be, I’ll see him again.”

Marie groaned as we walked in a different direction to find Jessie, who was getting braids the last time we saw her. We found her laughing animatedly with a cute black-haired guy.

The correct term was actually flirting. And when Jess flirted, it meant that she really liked the guy.

She introduced him as Kenzo. He’s in college, and when Marie saw the can of beer in his hand, she practically beamed.

“These are my friends, Marie and Bee,” Jessie said.

Another guy approached us. He was holding four cans of beer in his hand. “And this is Michael,” Kenzo introduced his friend. He was also cute, and I could see Marie was already eyeing him with interest.

Michael opened the can of beer for Marie. It must have been shaken while he was transporting it. When he pulled the ring, it made a loud fizzing sound. The trajectory of the liquid was directly toward me. I was hopeless to dodge it, but then suddenly, I felt somebody pull me out of the way.

“Easy, doll,” a familiar voice said. I looked up and found the same guy who caught me at the tent. He was looking down at me with an amused expression on his face. “We should stop meeting like this,” he teased.

I smiled back at him shyly. “Thanks… again.”

I gently pulled away from him, and then I took a step back. Michael came over to me. “I’m sorry. I didn’t see you there.”

I smiled at him. “It’s okay. I was saved anyway.”

“Yeah, real smooth, Z,” Kenzo said to the guy who caught me.

I turned to him. So did Marie.

“Excuse me? What did he say your name was?” Marie asked.

“Z,” the guy replied. Then he turned to me and said, “Hi, my name is Zach.”

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