It was a female voice.
Derek turned to the direction of where the voice was coming from.
It was a group of teenagers: a brown-skinned woman, a black-skinned woman, and a white-skinned man.
Their ages range from 16 to 19 years old.
Derek was familiar with these teens. They were part of the organizers of this feeding program and he was introduced to them this morning.
The one who asked was the brown-skinned woman.
Derek noticed their shy gazes and blushing cheeks.
"Um… My friends and I were wondering if you happened to see a cat passed by here."
"Yeah, it's color white."
Derek tried to recall if he had seen any white cat passed by here.
"I'm sorry. I don't remember seeing a cat passing by. But I can ask my friend when he comes back."
"Oh! Thanks, but you don't have to!" The brown-skinned woman began to flush. "We don't want to cause you any more trouble! Thank you for your help, Derek!"
She quickly turned and walked away.
Her companions followed suit.
One of her companions, a black-skinned woman, grabbed her arm and whispered, "Girl, what are you doing?! You didn't even ask for his number!"
Meanwhile, the only man in the group, who was Caucasian, grabbed her other arm, "You're wasting a good chance! If I were half as beautiful as you, I would've thrown myself to him already!"
The brown-skinned woman stopped. She was thinking about whether to turn back or not.
She finally decided.
She turned and went back to Derek.
Her face was beet red.
"I'm sorry but I forgot to ask something: What's your name – Kyah!"
One of her companions pinched her side, causing her to make that strange sound and jump.
They already knew his name. In fact, she just mentioned his name earlier.
"Are you okay?" Derek asked.
"Oh, it's nothing. I thought I saw a cockroach passed by. I'm Anna by the way. Can I get your number?"
Derek felt a knot on his stomach.
This was one of the problems of being handsome.
He had no power of who approaches him. They could be younger, the same age as him, or older.
As for the woman who asked for his number right now, although he admires her courage, he would never give his number to an underage girl.
One time, an underage girl asked for his number and he gave it to her without really thinking much about it.
He, of course, had no intention of dating her or even doing anything to that underage girl. However, the girl somehow developed this idea that he was playing hard to get so she decided to do stalker-like things and even threatened to kill herself.
Ever since then, if a woman looks underage or if he suspects they are, he would immediately shut them down without caring about their feelings.
But this time around, he decided to shut her down without being too callous because he didn't want to cause any problems to Sweet Dave and Sansa.
"I'm sorry, but I have a girlfriend and –"
"Derek, I brought you a beer just in case."
It was Sweet Dave.
When the three teenagers saw Sweet Dave, they greeted him.
"Hello, Sweet Dave."
"What brings you, kids, here?"
"Oh we were just looking a white cat," said the black woman.
"Yeah, we wanted to ask if you've seen it," said the male teenager.
"Hm… Sorry, I didn't see any white cat here. Try asking my wife. She over there."
Sweet Dave pointed over at Sansa who was at the next tent talking with some people.
"Sure, Sweet Dave. Thanks. We'll get going now," said the black woman.
Sweet Dave passed Derek a can of beer before sitting down.
"I have that effect on people. They get overwhelmed by my dashing looks and run away," said Sweet Dave with a proud look on his face.
Derek laughed. "Of course."
"So you only hate men of color?"
Derek sigh in exasperation. "You really don't know when to give up, do you?"
"I see a lot of myself in you, kid. I don't want to see you or anyone go through the same experience I did and then regret it by the age of 40 – assuming you could even live that long."
The two of them didn't speak for almost a minute until Derek finally opened up.
"My parents and sister got caught up in a robbery and were killed."
Sweet Dave didn't say anything and waited for Derek to continue.
"I remember speaking to them a few hours before the championship game. They told me they were going downtown to do some sightseeing and have lunch before going to the game."
"Our team won the game and I remember being so happy at that time even though I didn't see my family at the game. But then the coach pulled me over to meet these cops and they told me that my parents and sister got caught in a robbery. My parents died immediately, while sister died shortly after she was sent to the hospital."
"The people who killed them were Muwinian Iklasians."
"I'm sorry, Derek."
"I was so happy one moment and the next thing I knew I was filled with this intense hate and sadness."
"And you know what's the best part of it? I was fully aware that it was unfair to hate all brown-skinned people just because two brown-skinned men happened to kill my family. But I couldn't accept the fact that I too played a role with the death of my family. If I didn't invite them to go to that country to watch my game, they never would've been there in the first place. They would've still been..."
Derek didn't say anything after that.
Sweet Dave sipped his beer before saying, "When I was 16 years old, my younger brother and I used to be part of this all-white gang. I was the one who convinced my brother to join. We had so many wonderful memories in the first couple of months together... That is until one night we encountered an all-black gang. We fought them before – some fights we won, others we lost."
"But on that particular fight, we never expected that one of them was carrying a knife. I was fighting three people and my brother noticed one of them pulled out a knife and was about to stab me from behind. My brother tried to stop the man and got stabbed instead."
Sweet Dave took another sip.
"I don't remember what happened next. But the next thing I knew, I was holding my dead brother in my arms and screaming his name at the top of my lungs."
Sweet Dave burped.
"I spent the next 30 years of my life carrying all that hate and guilt inside of me and getting out in and out of prison until I met Sunny."
"She must be one hell of a woman to keep a man like you," said Derek.
Sweet Dave laughed.
"Believe it or not, she was my parole officer."
This time it was Derek who laughed.
"Oh, you don't know how scary she is when she gets angry. That playful persona she shows? Pray that that's the only side of hers you get to encounter."
"Yet you married her."
"Yup, and I'm enjoying every moment of it!"
"So what you're saying is that the cure to this hate of mine is to get married?"
"Of course not! Were you even listening? Plus, there's no way I'm giving my Sunny to you."
"She seems to be quite fond of me though."
"You wish! That was just her playing around! My Sunny is only loyal to me!"
"What are you boys talking about? I heard my name mentioned a hundred times."
It was Sansa.
"I was just telling Derek how much we love each other, dear. Come sit on my lap and give me a kiss."
Sweet Dave spread out his arms and pouted his lips.
However, Sansa went over to Derek instead and wrapped her arms around his neck.
"Derek, how are you? Did you miss me?"
"Let's wrap things up and go home. It's already late and I'm tired," Sweet Dave quickly said.
They all laughed together.
After packing their things and cleaning the area, they said their goodbyes to the other people who participated in the event before going back to the pub.
A pink van pulled over in front of a hotel and a man got out.
"You sure you don't want to go back home with us?" A female voice asked.
The man grinned.
"Nah... I'm good. I received so much sugar from you today, Sunny. I'm afraid I may already have diabetes thanks to you."
"Derek, I'll be expecting to find you passed out inside the pub's toilet next year," said Sweet Dave.
"Sure, as long as you promise that you buy me a bottle of whiskey."
"I'll give two bottles of whiskey."
They both laughed.
"Happy New Year," said Derek.
"Happy New Year, too," replied both Sweet Dave and Sansa.
"Bye~" said Sansa.
"Bye," replied Derek.
Sweet Dave hit the honk twice before driving off with Sansa.
Alone, Derek stared at the night sky.
He thought about what happened today and the spiritual fulfillment it brought to him. It felt like a heavy burden was lifted off of his shoulders.
He then thought about his parents and sister.
'Would you guys be proud of seeing me like this?'
He was well aware that it wasn't going to be easy to let go of the hate inside of him and it will probably take a very long time before all of it will be erased. But he also knew he can't live the rest of life with hate.
If he was going to take this path of healing and reclaim who he once was, he needed to start somewhere.
'I need to go back to Cram City and finish my studies.'
He lowered his head and ran his hand over it.
'I should remove this tattoo and also grow my hair back.'
Derek, 30 years old.
He turned off the shower and opened his eyes.
"Sweet Dave, Sunny… I hope you guys are safe."
He finally decided. He was going to leave Red Dust.
As much as he cared and want to help the people here at Haven Town, he had some people he cared about at as well. Plus, with what happened last night, he started to doubt Rose's real motives.
He wrapped himself with a bathrobe and went out of the bathroom.
There was a knock on the front door.
Derek went over to the front and opened it.
"Hi." The person said and smiled.
It was Rose.
She was wearing civilian clothes.
Derek was surprised to see her.
Last night left a bad taste on his mouth.
So many people died last night...
He thought about the first time he saw Rose...
It was back at the apartment building. And when she smiled at him, it caused his heart to flutter...
In Derek's mind, Rose was indeed beautiful. And between Ashleigh and Rose, although both of them are beautiful, he found himself more attractive to Rose.
To him, she was the type that was so hard to catch. But once you capture her heart, she would do anything for you, even if it means going against the whole world.
However, the problem with this woman was that she was too ambitious.
A good example was last night when Nathan attacked and killed many people.
"Rose... What are you doing here?"
I hope you guys enjoyed this chapter. Thank you for reading!
To those people who voted with their power stones, thank you for voting:
I'd like to make a follow-up announcement...
In the previous chapter I mentioned that I will start releasing around 3 chapters a week.
I would like to make an update about that.
I've begun publishing "chapter drafts" on my p-a-t-r-e-o-n page. And so far, I've already posted up to Chapter 70 there.
If you want to read them, you can go to my p-a-t-r-e-o-n page and become one of my Immortal Patrons. For only $5 a month, you will have access to all my "chapter drafts".
Please note that the chapters I've posted there are NOT the final and official chapters. They are simply DRAFTS before I officially publish them here at WebNovel (Qidian) so there will DEFINITELY be some edits or tweaks.
I do not intend to steal money or traffic from WebNovel. The chapters there are simply DRAFTS to give my dear readers who want to be one of the Immortal Patrons and have a sneak peek in advance on where I'm taking the story.
As for how many "chapter drafts" I will be posting there p-a-t-r-e-o-n, it depends on the week.
Thank you once again and I'll see you in the next chapter.
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