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Murder of Love (part 1)
As Brad Johnson sifted through his stack of ungraded papers, a thick, orange envelope fell to the floor. He stooped down and picked it up, then tore it open, not bothering to even stand up. The envelope had a peculiar slogan scribbled onto the back in a thick, black Sharpie. "Don't be frightened. It's not a bomb or biohazardous.", it read.
Figuring that it was just a joke, or some odd way of reassurring him, Brad continued to study the package. The return address was of a place very dear to him, in which he had attended college, and later became a top professor. Noticing that the package was from the Univerisity of Medicine, he figured it was from Victor, also a fellow professor there. Victor, otherwise known as Professor Smith, had stuck with Brad through all the hard times.
Assuming this, Brad was shocked when he turned the envelope over, only to find a stack of photographs on his lap. These pictures brought painful memories to Brad, for they told the haunting story of his college past. Tears began to form as he stared at picture after picture featuring him and his beautiful Marina. He was suited in his football uniform, a large 25 etched above the bobcat on his jersey. Marina looked her usual: long, black hair with big curls cascading down her thin frame, with her eyes shining blue behind her glasses, and a permanent smile showing off her perfectly imperfect white teeth. All too quickly, Brad was sucked into the past:
"Victor! I want you to be the best man, that is, if she says yes."
"I would love to," though his eyes were downcast.
"Is that all you have to say, Victor? This may be the best day of my life, and I want the support of my best friend."
"I guess it's just that... we're so young, and... um... I don't think you guys should be getting married. Maybe Marina isn't as in love with you as you think. Maybe it's just... puppy love. "
"Your'e crazy. We're more in love than we've ever been. We've been together for four years, and tonight I'm going to propose and she will say yes. Even more, she'll be stuffed full of Hana's famous pancakes and your special blueberry syrup. It'll be her best birthday ever."
"Fine. I'll make the syrup, but this time with a... twist to make her birthday that much more special. For now, I have to go to my chemistry class." As he waved good-bye, Victor continued on down the hall, with a mind already reeling with his plans for sabotoge.
It seemed that Brad had checked the clock twenty times in the last minute. The clock ticked to 9:30 am, the time that Marina was supposed to arrive for her special birthday breakfast. He didn't think that it would take that long just to change her clothes. Though he was a patient man, all this waiting was making him crazy. At one point, he almost suspected Marina of deliberately elongating her change of attire, just to make him that much more anxious.
Victor had arrived an hour before to make his special blueberry fruit drizzle for Hana's homemade pancakes with Brad. Victor was acting rather strange, but Brad was too nervous to ask why. Jun even dropped by, but only to steal a taste of his sister's famous pancakes.
It was Marina's idea to have all four of them - Victor, Brad, Hana, and herself - to make breakfast themselves and enjoy one another's company. She thought it would be fun to have Hana teach her how to make those amazing pancakes she loved so much, and Victor could teach Brad how to make the perfect compliment to Marina's favorite pancakes. Once they were all finished making breakfast, the girls fussed over their flour-covered attire and decided to change into something clean before they eat.
"I'll go and set up the table, alright?" Hana gently knocked on Marina's bedroom door.
"Sure, go on ahead. I'll be right with you," was Marina's muffled reply, as she struggled with a sweater.
An entire 30 minutes had already passed and, by 9:30, Brad had managed to get everyone seated at the dining room, but not before they all wished him luck. Marina arrived just in time for the perfect birthday breakfast. Brad really layed on the charm. He pushed her chair in for her, held her hand, and at one point even started to cut up her food for her, but stopped when he saw the confused look on her face.
He waited until she had a chance to enjoy the meal she loved most, and finally took her hand, knelt down before her, and proposed. Marina did her best not to burst into tears, but when Brad reached around his back-pocket and withdrew a sparkling diamond band, everything else was blurred by the overwhelming joy that trickled down her face.
Hana was a bit misty-eyed at Brad's smooth performance and her best friend's reaction. Since her camera was always with her, she even took a snap-shot, but Victor could only stare at the newly engaged couple with a forced smile upon his lips. After the proposal, he sat and reconsidered the new bond between Marina and Brad in his dorm. That was when he began to realize the immense impact of what he had just witnessed, with panic and anger gradually bubbling up inside of him. Being the resourceful man that he was, he began to conjure up a plan to stop his secret love from marrying his best friend.
As Marina and Brad, along with the wedding coordinator they recently hired, made decisions about the dress, the cake, and every little detail for their marriage, Victor secretly concocted a plan that would put all their efforts to nought. He was one of the top students at his classes, especially Professor Rye who trusted him greatly. Victor took advantage of this, attaining all the neccessary ingredients from his seemingly naive teacher. Fueled by his bitterness, Victor spent weeks formulating a plan to put Marina in a coma; one that would be long enough to meddle with her mind and result to amnesia, thus forgetting every emotion she had ever felt for Brad.
Not too long ago, during their high school years, Victor and Marina had been a couple, and very much in love. Unknown to Brad, the two parted ways, and soon after, Victor befriended Brad. He still held on to his love for Marina, but was able to keep it buried deep within. That is, until they continued on to college. Brad and Marina finally crossed paths and instantly found wonderful chemistry in each other. Unfortunately for Marina, this 'chemistry' will be the death of her.
Victor was terrified when he first caught a glimpse of Brad and Marina together at the university. Though they had only known each other for no more than a week, they seemed like close friends. To the heart-broken one, he could already see the unraveling of a pertinent couple.
Did they deserve each other? No.
In Victor's reeling mind, Marina wasn't worthy of such an honest and good friend as Brad, and to him, he didn't deserve to be blinded by her beauty and amazing wit, which Victor himself couldn't obtain.
However, what crushed him the most was the brilliant smile Marina so generously displayed for Brad. All the while, he was still aching; his heart forever marred by the love he knew only she could provide. Yet here Marina was, looking joyous and carefree, accompanied by Brad no less! How could he not feel the pain and jealousy that accompanied the sight of his friend and previous love? After all, he loved her first right? In his mind, all he could think about was the pain he felt. He wanted it to just vanish, but that cold, unwanted feeling just wouldn't leave. His guilt built up, layer after layer. Why wouldn't it just go away?! Why did it have to haunt him, like a ghost haunts a house?
Though his mind was lavish with conflicted emotions and curiosity, Victor tried his best to remain passive about the current situation, but it only grew even more burdensome when Brad would actually tell him about his newfound acquaintance, and it was obvious, by the giddy expression the man always had when speaking of said acquaintance, that he was a little more than just fond of her. Of course, he couldn't help but feel envious and rather begrudging, but he wouldn't dare let his emotions get the better of him and ruin his so-far untainted friendship with Brad.
As time passed by, it was inevitable that Marina and Brad became closer, and closer still, until they finally developed into a couple. It didn't take too much for Marina to eventually find out that the friend Brad always mentioned in his stories had been the very same Victor she had been so attached with years ago. Though this was a strong blow to his heart, Victor did his best to smile and wish his friend the utmost happiness.
Almost an entire year had gone by, and the couple's bond couldn't have been any stronger. It was perfectly reasonable for Brad to have thoughts of advancing their relationship to a whole other status, such as marriage. The young man gave this much thought, since he wasn't the careless type, and was more than ecstatic to inform his future best-man of his plans for proposal. This alarmed Victor severely and, though he wanted nothing more than to let all that he has kept inside loose, he knew that Brad was anticipating a supportive approval from the best friend he always portrayed.
"I think that's the best idea you've had yet," he replied smoothly.
"I'm glad you think so!" Brad gave him a hearty clap on the shoulder.
"So, when are you planning on popping the big question?" Victor hummed curiously.
"I gave this plenty of thought…" he said carefully, "but I might take her out on her birthday and…propose," Brad couldn't help but redden at the last word. Here he was, absolutely ready to be engaged with a wonderful lady, when just a few years ago, he thought nothing more of marriage as a distant dream.