The rumor

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A/N: Hey there. Thank you for taking the time to read the book. Admittedly, this one is personal to me and hence it was the most difficult to write. The events are fictional, but something about the story isn't. I've been toying with the idea for a while and finally decided to put pen to paper...or well, fingers to keyboard.

I hope you like it. It sure as hell has been therapeutic to me. Thankfully you need a lot more tears on a keyboard before it's damaged.

Lastly. Would love to hear your thoughts, so vote and comment!

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The rumor

The news that Patrick Luis del Castillo was coming back to town spread like wildfire in the beach town of Warlington, located just at the southern tip of Australia. It was a small quiet town, characterized by sandy beaches and green forests. The houses were moderately-sized and the community friendly. It was safe to say that sometimes their friendliness bordered on intrusiveness. Everyone knew everyone, and they all knew each other's secrets.

Everything was discussed at salons, the beach, pubs and even through walls of adjacent bathroom stalls. So it was no wonder that Charles Robert got to hear about Patrick's return even before Patrick got on the plane that would take him from his latest adopted country to the country where he spent his childhood chasing wallabies.

Everyone was talking about it. If Patrick's name wasn't on the lips of one, it was entering the ears of another. Charles thought everyone was making a big deal out of it.

"I wonder if he still looks the same," Ariel Roberts mused while stirring her glass of juice with her straw.

Charles couldn't help but snort. "Sometimes I think you are dumb. It's been 8 years!"

Ariel glared at him. "Someone is cranky."

Charles pursed his lips. He was annoyed. He was always annoyed by Ariel; yes, but this time he'd gone past his usual level of annoyance.

"I bet he's more gorgeous now," Ariel said with her eyes closed and a dreamy expression on her face.

"Will you stop daydreaming and finish eating? I'm leaving in 2 minutes," Charles managed to say without going into a murderous range. Granted, he'd never go off on his little sister.

Ariel was at 18 years old, the spitting image of their mother at that age. She had the long blond hair, the striking blue eyes and the pale pink rosebud lips. She even had the little quirks, like the one-sided frown when concentrating and using a straw while drinking from a glass, not without stirring whatever was in there first.

Charles was the opposite. He had dark brown hair in a short faux hawk, equally dark eyes and sun-tanned skin. His facial features were according to Ariel bunny-cute. He had the big eyes, not-so much the ears, but his nose could compare. Ariel would joke and say he was adopted. He looked like neither of their parents.

Another thing he didn't inherit was height. He was a mere 1.58 metres tall. At his ripe age of 25, both parents were over that landmark and his sister at 18 was already taller than him. Since he wasn't going to grow taller magically, it was safe to say he was the dwarf of the family. Ah...something Patrick used to tease him about.

The news of Patrick's return had hit him like a ton of bricks. They'd jolted him, swung him around and almost, almost laid him bare.

He'd heard two pub patrons talking over beer just the previous night when he'd decided to grace the pub after work. He'd initially only heard the name "del Castillo". There was only one family by that name in Warlington. It was one of the wealthiest and powerful families in Australia. They'd emigrated from Spain and settled in Warlington after gracing Australia's capital. How they'd come to the small community town was beyond him. Word was they could afford a small island if they so wished.

Charles had moved closer to listen. That was when he heard it. The del Castillo's youngest son was coming home after 8 years studying in the United States.

It turned out he hadn't needed to move closer. The whole pub was talking about Patrick. Girls were swooning and men were already feeling threatened. How could they not be? Patrick had at 17 years stolen more hearts than all of them combined. There was just something about him that was mesmerizing and even Charles hadn't been immune.

It was maybe selfish, but Charlie wished the rumors weren't true. The thought of seeing Patrick again...

"Done!" Ariel said excitedly.

Charles wanted to sigh aloud in relief for the distraction, but had to remind himself that his loving little sister was nosy. If he sighed aloud, 25 questions would follow in succession and he'd be late for work. He couldn't afford to be late for work.

Ariel passed him her dishes and he put them in the sink. Grabbing his backpack, he led the way out of the house that he shared with his sister.

His truck was where he'd left it the previous night, on the street. He could thank God that Warlington was a safe town. With all the payments that he had to do on the house, he couldn't afford to lose his car. At least it was one thing in his life that he didn't have to spend a great deal of money on.

He was just about to get into the truck when he turned to his sister. "What in the hell are you wearing?"

"What does it look like I'm wearing?" Ariel asked, twirling around so Charles could take a good look at her in her summer flowery dress.

"There's a boy, isn't there?"

Ariel chuckled. It was a sweet chuckle. It warmed Charles's heart. He couldn't help but chuckle too.

"Oh Charlie," Ariel said and left it at that.

"You don't wear dresses. Who is he?"

Ariel just grinned and got into the truck. Charles followed with a suspicious look on his face. Ariel was, unlike him never short of admirers. She was like him in some aspects though, very picky. She brushed off attention with an effortless smile. It seemed like someone had changed her views on dating. He hoped at least. At least someone would be there.

The brother and sister continued talking in the car. They annoyed each other but were one of the closest siblings. They had to be, they only had each other.

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