House of Cards Part Three
(NOTE: Contains explicit language and adult themes suitable for ages 16+)
© K.L. Hall and www.authorklhall.com, 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to K.L. Hall and www.authorklhall.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
Her lipstick was smeared.
His pants were down.
Her fiancé was on the other side of the door.
“Open this fuckin’ door right now!” Derrick yelled, banging harder.
“Fuck!” Troy whispered as he fumbled to pull his pants up from around his ankles. His nightmare had suddenly become a reality.
He quickly pushed himself away from Raquel and started to quickly redress himself. Feeling no shame in the intimate moment they’d just shared, Raquel stared at him.
“What are you doing?” he asked through gritted teeth. “Put your clothes on, now! Don’t you hear him banging?”
“I’m not running anymore, Troy. I’m done. This shit stops here. All of it,” she said, tightly folding her arms across her chest.
He looked at her with rage burning in his eyes. He flinched when the door rattled again at the sound of Derrick’s fist on the other side. He knew as soon as that door opened, he was going to lose something. He just didn’t know if it was going to be his best friend, Raquel, or his life.
Raquel walked over and opened the door. Derrick was standing there with beads of sweat dancing down his forehead. His chest was heaving in and out as his eyes searched hers for answers.
“What the fuck is going on in here? And where is Troy?” he roared.
She turned her neck toward Troy. “He’s right here.”
Derrick pushed past Raquel and walked into the room. At first glance everything seemed to be in order, but with one simple inhale, the scent of sex wafted past his nose. His heart broke instantly. For years he’d had a lingering suspicion that there was more going on between them than either of them let onto, but he pushed the paranoia to the back of his head. Now that the proof was staring him in the face, he would’ve been a fool to ignore it.
“I’m only going to ask you one more fuckin’ time. What the fuck is going on in here?” He gritted his teeth for control.
Derrick easily read the body language bouncing between both Raquel and Troy. The silence hanging in between them provided him with his answer. Ever since he’d returned to U.S. soil, his heart had been frozen. So much, that he’d given up on finding love and loving himself. He quickly realized how hard it was to adjust back to “regular” civilian life and tried to kill himself. Soon after his failed attempt, he met Raquel. She was beautiful, smart, and quickly became the love of his life. Raquel was the only woman on earth who’d been able to thaw out his heart and keep it beating up until that very moment.
He looked over at Troy, who had a hopeless look on his face. “How could you do this to me, man? Me! You were supposed to be my best friend! My brother!”
“Derrick, listen I’m—”
“Don’t apologize to him, Troy! I told you that this has gone on long enough! He needs to hear the truth! He deserves that much!” Raquel interjected.
“If he won’t tell me, then you do it,” Derrick told her.
Raquel huffed as she kept her arms folded across her chest. “Derrick, what Troy and I have is…well, it’s complicated and it’s special and it’s a rollercoaster and a train wreck all at the same time.”
As soon as the words fell off her tongue, everything inside her lit up like lights in Times Square on New Year’s Eve. She was finally free. She’d been in love with Troy Garrett for what seemed like a million years. From the moment she laid her beautiful eyes on him, she knew he was the one. Troy may not have been perfect, but he was perfect for her.
“So this is deeper than just fucking? You—you love him?” Derrick’s face squinted with confusion.
“I do. I always have, and I’ll never stop,” she confessed.
Troy ran his hands down the front of his face. He couldn’t believe what the day had turned into. His conscience taunted him daily for what he’d done to the only best friend he’d ever had, and now they were standing in the middle of the moment of truth. There were a million words trying to skydive off his tongue, and yet, nothing would come out. He knew better than to say, “I’m sorry” or “my bad.” What he’d done to his friend was deeper than that, but there was no Hallmark card for that situation.
“I guess the signs were always there, huh? I ignored them. I ignored them all for you, Raquel. Because I love YOU! The scent of the cologne he’s been wearing since high school that’s always stuck in your clothes…the spare panties you keep in your glove compartment for when you meet with him on short notice…” his voice trailed off.
Raquel’s forehead creased. “You knew?”
“I knew what was going on, I just didn’t know with who, or maybe I did and just decided not to dwell on it…but now it all makes perfect sense.”
After a failed suicide attempt, Derrick found himself lying in a hospital bed being watched like a hawk. His parents were there, comrades from his old unit, and of course Troy. A part of him felt selfish for what he’d done, but he knew the people who would understand half of what he was going through were few and far in between.
“There are programs we can get you in to help you transition,” his father told him.
He shook his head. “I don’t want it. I don’t want any of it. I just want to die.”
“Don’t say that! We can’t lose you!” his mother cried. “Do you know how many nights I stayed awake just praying that you would come back home from the war? Huh? And then you go and do this? Why would you intentionally break my heart like this, Derrick?”
He watched the tears fall down her round cheeks and lowered his head in shame. That was it. He had to make a change, but he just didn’t know where to start.
Troy walked over to him and looked him in his eyes. “Whatever we gotta do to make sure you stay here with us, we’ll do it. You hear me?”
Derrick simply nodded, not knowing there was already a plan set in place for him to meet Raquel, fall in love, and then have his heart broken on his wedding day.
“And you…what do you have to say for yourself?Do you love her?” Derrick asked Troy.
Troy could feel the heat radiating off of Derrick’s body. His tone was short. In that moment, he wished he’d never went down to talk to Raquel in the first place. ‘If I would’ve just stayed away a little while longer,’he thought to himself.
He sighed. “I do.”
Derrick sucked his teeth. “I can’t fuckin’ believe this shit!”
“I tried to stay away, man! I swear to God I did! For you! So you could be happy!”
“Why in the fuck would you introduce me to a bitch you knew you had feelings for?”
“To save your goddamn life! I wanted to keep you here! We all did! Me, your mom, your dad! All of us!”
Every muscle in Derrick’s body tightened. Not only had his best friend betrayed him, his parents were in on it too. He felt like the biggest joke in town. There was a tiny part of him that was waiting for Ashton Kutcher to jump out from around the corner and tell him he’d been Punked, but it never happened. Heat burned his cheeks as he turned his attention back to Raquel.
“My parents have money, and so does Troy…did they—did they fuckin’ pay you to be with me?” Derrick asked.
Raquel bit her bottom lip and diverted her eyes down to the cold wood floor underneath her feet. “Yes,” she mumbled.
“D—it’s not important,” Troy butted in.
He shot a glare up to silence him. “Fuck you! How much, Raquel?”
“Five million dollars…”
A deep frown creased his brow. “Five million dollars?” he repeated in disbelief. “So that’s how much my fuckin’ life is worth to you, huh?”
Derrick suddenly felt like all the air was being sucked out of the room. He was disgusted with everyone around him. All he wanted to be was loved by his soon-to-be wife, be respected, and treated like a man by his peers and his family. Unfortunately, there were just some things money couldn’t buy.
“I’m sorry you had to find out like this, D. I swear to God I never meant to hurt you like this,” Troy confessed. “As fucked up as it sounds, you gotta know that this was all for you.”
“Get the fuck outta here with that shit! You were supposed to be my brother!”
“I still am!” Troy said, smacking the center of his chest with his fist.
He’d neglected to take his medication that morning because he figured nothing would ruin what was going to be the happiest day of his life. Over the course of his conversation with Raquel and Troy, his mood fluctuated like a rollercoaster going off the tracks. One minute he was rippling with anger, then confusion, and finally settling into heartbreak.
Hot tears welled up in the corners of his eyes as he lunged for Raquel and yelled, “And you! You were supposed to be my wife!”
Raquel quickly took a step back and Troy stepped in front of her. “Get away from her!” he said, outstretching his arm to push Derrick back a few steps.
Heat spread across his chest as he pushed Troy’s hand away. “Fuck you, Troy!” he exploded. “Fuck you! Fuck her! Fuck my parents! Fuck all this shit!”
“What is going on down here?” Tiffany asked, hastily making her way over to the three of them.
Derrick drew in a frustrated breath while turning around. “Mind your fuckin’ business! Go back upstairs and tell everybody the wedding is off!”
“Please, just go, Tiff,” Raquel said, eyeing her closely.
“Fine! I’ll tell them, but it’s not like they can’t hear you yelling from all the way upstairs! Whatever the three of you have going on, you need to squash it or take it outside,” she warned.
As soon as Tiffany left, Derrick brought his lips within the same breathing space as Raquel’s. She let her eyes bore into his soul, only to find out there was nothing there. Nothing left but glaring anger pouring from his eyes.
“I wish it didn’t have to be like this,” he said as a tear slid down his cheek. “Why the fuck couldn’t you love me past my flaws the way that I loved you past yours?”
Raquel shook her head. “It…doesn’t. You can find love again with someone else. Someone whose heart isn’t with someone else. Someone who truly loves you back.”
“That was supposed to be you! Don’t you get that? I loved you with everything in me, Raquel. I know I’m not perfect, but I thought you could see past my baggage and my bullshit. I—thought you loved the core of me!”
“Derrick, I’m sorry, okay? I’m so sorry. I tried to tell you so many times, but I want to be with him. I just don’t love you.”
The only words that registered in his brain were the last five. He glared at her without blinking and knew what he had to do. It was time he stopped holding on to false hope. He was going to teach them both a lesson that they’d never forget. The grass wasn’t always greener on the other side.
“I knew there’d come a time when I had to use this again…I just never thought it would be for you,” he told her while brandishing the handgun on his hip.
Raquel anchored her attention on his gun. “D—Derrick…what are you doing with that?” she trembled.
Troy’s eyes bulged with terror as he slowly stepped in front of Raquel. “Yo, what the fuck, Derrick? Whatever you’re thinking, you don’t want to do this.”
Derrick aimed the gun at them while shaking his head from left to right. “I see the way everyone looks at me, like I’m half a man. Like I’m broken and shit. I expected better from you. From both of you! And all you did was flaunt your money around to the highest bidder, so I could be babysat and wouldn’t fucking kill myself! And you! So easily bought while he pulled your strings like a goddamn puppet! He doesn’t really love you!”
“Yes, he does!” Raquel yelled.
“He only loves himself! Are you that blind that you can’t fuckin’ see that he pimped you out to me! He sold you to me for five million fuckin’ dollars and you let him. Does that sound like something someone would do if they truly loved you, Raquel? Huh?”
The room fell silent while Derrick’s chest rattled with every exhale. He was furious. For years, he’d been made to look like a fool, a charity case, even.
“I had plans for us, baby. So many fuckin’ plans. You were supposed to be my wife and have my baby. You both deserve to die for what you did to me!”
“Oh my God!” Raquel screamed.
“Listen to me, D! Look at me and fuckin’ listen! I’ll leave right now if you want me to. I swear to God I’ll drop everything right now and go if that’s what you want. Just please don’t do this shit!” Troy pleaded.
Derrick scoffed. “Leaving is the least you could do, you fuckin’ coward.”
“Troy, no!” Raquel yelled, tugging at his arm.
Troy shook his head and raised his hands in surrender. “Raquel, I’m sorry…Derrick, just put the gun down and I’m out. I’m gone. You’ll never have to see me again.”
“Put the gun down and you gone, huh? So you’d just break her heart like that and leave like a thief in the night? For me?”
“Yes, for you! I did all of this for you!”
“For me, huh?”
“Yeah, for you!”
“Remind me again which part did you do for me, Troy. Huh? Fucking my fiancée behind my back or paying her to date me in the fucking first place?”
Troy released an exasperated sigh. He was defeated. Only he knew the truth behind his intentions. He didn’t mind taking the blame for making all of the bad decisions surrounding the three of them. All he wanted to do was find a solution to the problem. If leaving the church or even Chicago for good fixed it, then that’s what he would do.
“What do you want me to do, D? Tell me and I’ll do it!”
“Nah, you know what I want you to do? Tell me what you want, TG. You the man that gets everything he wants, right? Do you want to be with her? Tell me the truth.”
“All I want is for you to put down the gun, D. I don’t want to see you go out like this. Neither of us do.”
Derrick’s nostrils flared as he wiped away tears from his cloudy eyes. “You should’ve just let me die, man...I ain’t got shit left to lose.”
“Please, D. Just put the gun down.”
“Please listen to him, Derrick,” Raquel pleaded, while holding onto Troy’s waist from behind.
Derrick let out a silent chuckle. For a second, he contemplated putting down the gun, turning around and leaving. His pride refused to let him go out like that. Instead, he decided to go back to what he did best, taking lives.
“You know, I’m gettin’ real sick and tired of this shit. From the moment I stepped foot back in the states I’ve either been treated like a hero or a plague. You mothafuckas don’t know what it’s like to take a life! You don’t know shit! You think it’ll hurt me to pull this trigger, huh? Do you? I’ve killed for less!”
Raquel’s stomach tightened with knots as fear clawed at her throat. Never in a million years did she imagine that she’d be staring down the barrel of a gun on her wedding day. A part of her had hoped that Derrick would simply accept the truth and allow her to move on with the man she truly loved, even if it was his best friend.
Within the blink of an eye, Derrick shoved Troy down to his feet and latched his strong hand around Raquel’s throat. He forced her to look into his dark eyes while holding the gun to her chest.
She dug her dull nails into his biceps. “Derrick, please,” she whispered.
Raquel’s heart beat double time in her chest as she prepared to take her final breath. The only thing that brought her peace in the moment of chaos was the fact that she would take Troy’s heart with her into the next life.
“Derrick, no!” Troy yelled, pulling himself back up to his feet. He lunged at Derrick, but he was too late.
Troy’s eyes bulged out in fear as he watched Raquel’s body fall the ground. He quickly reached out to grab her and cradled her in his arms. He looked down at the gunshot wound to her chest as tears poured out of his eyes.
“Look what you did, D! Look what the fuck you did!” he roared.
Derrick lifted his shoulder in a half shrug. “At least now she knows how it feels to have a broken heart.”
“Somebody help! Somebody call 9-1-1!” Troy yelled frantically while rocking Raquel from side to side.
“Just remember, you did this, Troy! You played a part in all of this! You wanted to have your fuckin’ cake and eat it too and now look! Look at her!”
Troy broke eye contact with him and let his eyes gaze over Raquel’s lifeless body. His heart instantly broke into a million pieces. All he could do was wish that he could makethe memories go away like a bad dream.
“Do you feel better now? Huh? Is this what you wanted? Huh?” Troy yelled as spit flew out of his mouth.
“Just know that I loved you, man,” Derrick said, while aiming his gun at Troy.
Troy stared at his best friend in silence. The only thing he could hear was the loud thumping of his heart inside his chest. There was no more pleading, begging, or reasoning with Derrick. His mind was made up and Troy’s fate was sealed.
Troy nodded. “I love you, too.”
He watched Derrick pull the trigger and the moment he felt the bullet pierce his body, everything went black.
Derrick looked down at both Raquel and Troy’s motionless bodies as tears of rage clouded his eyes. Never in a million years did he think his wedding day would turn into a massacre of the two people he loved the most. There was only one thing left to do. He’d lost himself in battle years ago, and now, he no longer had a fiancée or a best friend. With tears in his eyes, he turned the gun on himself and pulled the trigger.
ONE WEEK LATER
Troy woke up in a hospital room with Bianca by his bedside. For a split second, he thought he’d dreamt it all up. It wasn’t until he looked at his surroundings that he realized his new reality. He slowly turned his neck in Bianca’s direction and her eyes lit up.
“Oh my God, Troy! You’re awake! I’ll go get the nurse!”
“No—wait,” he said, slowly lifting his arm to stop her. “Tell me what happened.”
The apprehensive look on her face told him everything he needed to know. Instead of responding, she shook her head.
“Bianca…I need to know. Is—is Derrick okay? Raquel?”
She shook her head as tears filled her eyes. Her nostrils flared, and she tucked her lips tightly together before turning around to grab a newspaper. “Everything you’ll want to know is in here.”
Troy eyed her and then took the newspaper. His eyes landed on the large headline on the front page. “Wedding Day Turned Deadly in Murder Suicide,” he mumbled.
He balled the newspaper up and threw it across the room. Tears swelled in the back of his eyes as flashbacks of the day surged through his memory. Out of the three of them, he was the only one that survived. He’d never known Derrick to take a shot and miss. What he did was intentional. He wanted Troy to live with what he did for the rest of his life, and so he would.