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Loving a Clueless Man

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Ciara Cabral was kicked out by her mother as soon as she turned sixteen. She’s not part of the family her mother was building with a man not her father. She found herself homeless and helpless. A week into the streets, Renzo Pantoja approached her and offered her a place to stay, having experienced homelessness as well and knowing it must be more difficult for a young girl. He’s usually not at home anyway, too busy working here and there, building up his savings, and chasing the financial freedom he craves. Life isn’t easy, though. There are plenty of challenges. Lacking formal education, Renzo’s finding it difficult to secure a regular employment with good pay and benefits. Even so, he promised himself – never again is he going to sleep on the streets. He’s a hard worker and diligent in whatever jobs he got. Too busy with everything else, he didn’t bother finding love again after his ex-girlfriend turned him down for someone richer. Years passed and Ciara continued her admiration of him. It took him a long time, but one day, he finally recognized her presence as a grown-up woman. But it was then that the complications began. Would he be able to overcome everything and be firm with his decisions?

Chapter 1 – Homeless

She’s starving. She’s trying to save as much money as she can. She knew this would happen, but she was not expecting it to happen this soon.

Ciara Cabral was kicked out by her mother when she turned sixteen. Now, she’s homeless. She thought she has more time. She thought they would at least wait until her eighteenth birthday before throwing her out on the streets. Oh, how could she be so wrong? She was caught off-guard. She was unprepared.

She sniffed as she looked up at the dark sky. She was done crying. She shouldn’t waste more of her tears. Sighing, she looked around, making sure there was no threat around. She blew her warm breath on her hands, trying to keep herself from feeling the coldness of the night. Maybe she should start moving, the exercise would help increase her temperature but . . . she was too weak from thirst and hunger. It has been a week since her mother chased her out. Her mother packed her bags and told her to leave. She wasn’t expecting them to prepare a birthday cake to celebrate, but kicking her out without notice was too cruel. She has always known she was unwanted. Her father left her mom before she was even born. Ciara didn’t even know who her father was. No matter how many times she asked, her mom won’t say. Her mother hated her more because of her questions. She only thought that maybe, just maybe, he could provide support for her. That would be better than nothing at all.

Her mother started a relationship with a new guy, who lived with them in the house. They were planning to get married and start their own family, but they were not keen on including her. She didn’t like her mom’s boyfriend and the feeling was mutual. He would mock her whenever he was home. When she was trying to study her lessons for class, he would order her around. He also goaded her mother into giving her less money than she needed. Less for her, more for him.

It wasn’t a secret to her that they planned to run her off as soon as possible. She just didn’t realize it was this soon. In the last year, she worked part-time jobs to save up some money. When her mom found out, she gave her less allowance. She reasoned that since she was already earning some money, she could give her less. It exasperated Ciara to no end. She worked because she was trying to save money! That endeavor became very difficult to accomplish. Most nights, she would cry at the unfairness of it all.

She was in shock when they told her to go. The reality of it quickly sank in when she slept on the streets that night.

“Well, happy birthday to me.” She mocked herself as she tried to sleep lightly. She was normally a deep sleeper, but that might prove dangerous in this environment. Even asleep, she has to be wary of her surroundings.

She tried to stop herself from crying again. Why was life so hard? She still couldn’t figure out what she should do. She tried many things these last few days, but they were unfruitful.

Still, she won’t give up. She would continue trying. She deeply exhaled as she pulled her jacket tighter around her body.

Being homeless was hugely different. Sleeping outside wasn’t comfortable. She had short and shallow sleep. She would wake at the smallest noises. She was not resting well. Hygiene was another matter altogether. She had to find places where she can clean herself up. And then, she would try to look for part-time work. Odd jobs here and there. Showing up with her baggage didn’t help her case, but there’s no place she could leave them safely. People were less likely to hire her because of it, not wanting to be bothered by her situation. They probably think she wouldn’t be able to handle it and that she would probably ask for an advance or a place she can stay. They couldn’t provide those if they hire her. They wouldn’t even let her stay at the business premises after working hours. It’s a risk no one wanted to take just for a young girl like her.

In the last year she has been working, she drifted apart from her friends. Well, classmates. They weren’t too close for her to ask them favors. She realized now that she should have cultivated relationships with others. She felt bad at her reasoning, though. Just so she could ask them for favors? Not cool. That would make her a user. A fake friend. As for relatives, well, she has none of those.

The next day, waking up safe from another night on the streets, she tried to come up with a new plan. Should she find a place where she can leave her bags? Having them all day everywhere she went didn’t really help her chances of getting hired. But which of her classmates would agree to it? Do they miss her at school?

As the darkness was slowly chased by daylight, she started to get up. Her knees were feeling weak, she had to support herself by leaning against the wall. She exhaled deeply. She was not going to cry. She can do this. She still has a few bills left. And coins.

On her first night, she was more concerned about other people. She kept on moving. As long as there are other people around, she kept on walking. Late into the night, when there are less people, she would find a corner or a hidden spot with no one around. She would sit against a wall, prop her bags beside her, and pull out a jacket to keep her warm. It was hard. She felt sorry for herself and was envious of others.

He has noticed her in the last three days. Initially, he thought she was only hanging out alone. He had his moments like that. Watching people on the streets when he wanted a break. Then, he noticed her bags. She hasn’t changed her clothes yet, from yesterday. She looked very young. A teenager. Renzo was reminded of his own teenage years, which he spent on the streets. It was hard for him, and he can only imagine that it would be more difficult for a girl. He has been observing her since yesterday. He’s a little worried. A girl like that . . . a lot of bad things could happen. He hoped she’s not homeless, but it was starting to become clear that she is. At one point in the morning, she was no longer in her usual spot. He almost sighed in relief. Mid-afternoon, though, she was back on it.

Renzo took his time deciding what to do. He’s not really in a position to help a homeless person. Still, he was worried for this girl. With that much luggage, he figured she hasn’t been homeless for too long. His lip twitched. If he doesn’t help her, it would only be a matter of days before her luggage gets stolen. She’s lucky to have them until now. A few times, he glanced in her direction. He recognized the look of frustration on her face.

A few hours later, he went and handed her a brown bag. She stared at him before accepting it. There was a sandwich inside. He also gave her a bottle of water. She was so hungry she didn’t feel any shame in eating the sandwich immediately. She looked down as she took bites one after another until she finished it. She sniffed as she folded the brown bag, tucking it under her arm. When she tried to open the water bottle, she learned how weak the hunger made her. He took the bottle and opened it for her. She accepted it again and gulped the water down. Her hunger and thirst were eased.

“Thank you.” She suddenly remembered her manners and expressed her gratitude.

“How long have you been on the streets?” The man asked. Ciara stared at him, deciding he’s not much older.

“About a week.” She honestly answered. She’s not ashamed.

“What about your family?”

“My mom told me to get out as soon as I turned sixteen.” She didn’t think he would want to listen to the rest of that story.

“I have a place… if you want a roof over your head.” He straightforwardly offered.

He stated it with indifference. Ciara was surprised by the offer, but she’s suspicious, too. She’s not naïve when it comes to men. She knows what most men want from women. A stranger offering her a place . . . She bit her lip as she considered her situation and her options. She doesn’t have options, actually.

She stared at him, patiently waiting for her answer. He looked kind. It doesn’t seem like he’s a bad guy. And, as she noted earlier, he’s not much older than her. He’s probably in his early twenties. Should she take a gamble?

“You’ll let me stay at your place?” She asked, wanting to confirm his offer.

“It’s only a small studio. I’m not home most of the time anyway.” Renzo decided it’s best to let her know his situation. Maybe she won’t be too suspicious if he gave her more details about his living arrangements.

“If that’s fine with you, then . . . I’ll have to trouble you.” Ciara replied.

Renzo nodded. He thought it would take longer to convince her. She proved to be easy to persuade. He told her to follow him. The apartment wasn’t very far. But then, he thought she shouldn’t be too trusting. He decided he’ll lecture her later.

Chapter 2 – Hopeful

Ciara silently followed behind him. She stared at him with hope. She stared without blinking; afraid he would be gone if she did. After walking for a few minutes, she did consider the situation more carefully. She was a bit reckless, deciding within a short amount of time. She should have thought more. What are his intentions? Why would he help her? Was he expecting something in return? Would he . . .? She stopped her trail of thoughts, shook her head and caught up with him. Maybe now that she has a place to stay, it would be easier for her to get a few jobs. She mentally took stock of her clothes. Maybe she can wash her laundry tonight, at his place. Then, tomorrow . . . She stopped when he did, waiting for the street light to change. Tomorrow, she will be better suited to apply here and there. There are numerous places she hasn’t gone to yet.

They reached his place within five minutes. As he said, it was small. He did say he only uses it as a place to sleep. There’s a bed on

Heroes

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