Chapter 1: It Has Been 12 Years Since We Met "Isabella!
“Mia Isabella!“, Mia’s boyfriend called her from the living room.
“Yes, Ray. One moment please!“, Mia answered from her room.
“Why is the TV remote not working? Did you not change the battery yet?“, Ray asked Mia from the living room again.
“I did, I did! Is it not working?“, Mia asked Ray as she came out from her room.
“Why would I be yelling at you about this if the remote is working?“, Ray replied Mia in annoyance.
“Okay, relax baby. I will get new batteries when I go out to do my marketing”, Mia said as she walked away from Ray.
“Don’t you dare walk away from me! Come here! Since when did you get so brave? Talking like that to me?“, Ray pulled Mia’s hair hard as he pulled her towards him.
Ray Santiago was an abusive boyfriend that Mia had been with for 12 years. Her journey to hell and back began twelve years ago when they met at a carnival and fell in love. Ray was one slick man who knows how to captivate Mia in every way. He proposed to her in front of her parents in her house during one of Valentine’s Day. Mia’s parents told her to stay away from Ray because of his anger and abusive character, but Mia refused to listen. She told them to stay away and ignore their relationship. It is a known fact that Ray Santiago paid all of Mia’s parents’ debts so it is either she lives with him or dies paying back his money. Mia chose the wrong path in her life and she thinks that no one knows how she has lived with him painfully all these years.
Mia thought of running away and falling in love again with a decent man but fate got her strong this time. She has nowhere to run because her parents died in a car crash a few years back. The whole case was closed calling Mia’s parents careless and drunk while driving, which turned out to be because Ray bribed the police. He told everyone that he wanted to protect Mia by doing this as the guy who hit Mia’s parents was a minister’s son. Ray was afraid of getting Mia in trouble if he lets Mia complain about the minister’s son. He knows if he lets Mia go now, she would lodge a police complaint about how abusive Ray is towards her. He couldn’t let this happen as he couldn’t dare to answer his dad if the complaint caused the downfall of their thriving, illegal drug business later.
Mia is one person who is afraid not to be in love again if she lets go of Ray this time. When there is love there should be no fear nor hatred. When there is fear there is no possibility of love or hatred and when there is hate, there is only hate. In Mia and Ray’s case, hate isn’t the right word to fully describe their relationship. It is more of a thriller situation every day for Mia. She just wouldn’t know what Ray would do to her when he comes home after his work. Mia has learned to adapt to Ray’s mood swings and she knows when Ray would want her and when he would just isolate her. She doesn’t feel anything towards Ray, just numb from the bottom of her heart. She could just leave him for good but Mia is afraid Ray would do something unimaginable to her to stop her from running away. The fear of not being able to fall in love again has passed the borderline for Mia and this time, she decided she would break free from the devil.
“I just said that I would get you the batteries once I go for my marketing Ray”, Mia said as she was dragged by Ray to the room.
“You are going to get punished for raising your voice at me like that Mia! Your disrespectful dog! You are not grateful for what I have done and provided for you?!“, Ray yelled at Mia as he raised his hand to slap her face.
Smack! A hard blow landed on Mia’s face. Mia fell on the ground, her lips bleeding and her vision got blurry for some time. She struggled to get up but her legs were wobbly and she couldn’t stand properly. She fell to the floor once more as Ray kicked her hard on her hips. Mia screamed in pain but Ray couldn’t be bothered as he continued to punch her face once more. This time Ray’s punch landed on her jawline. Mia begged Ray to stop but Ray was having fun abusing Mia till she bled. The doorbell is the one that saved Mia from getting beaten to death by Ray.
“My pizza is here! Don’t you dare move an inch from here!“, Ray sounded as he slammed the door behind him.
Ray walked towards the door and opened it. To his surprised, it was not his pizza but a person.
“Mr. Santiago? May I have a word with you?“, that person asked Ray as he stood behind the door.
“Who are you? What do you want? If you are a salesperson, I don’t want to buy anything from you! Go away!“, Ray was rude to him.
Mia overheard the conversation taking place out front faintly, so she slowly opened the room door to see who it was. She couldn’t see the person properly as Ray was blocking the view. Mia thought she has heard that voice somewhere but she just couldn’t place it well. She opened a little bit more and through the slightly huge gap of the door, she peeped again wanting to see who was at the door. She quickly hid behind the door as she saw Ray and that person walking into the hallway. She couldn’t see who was it as she was afraid that Ray might see her peeping through that gap.
“Mia! Mia! Go get some drinks!“, Ray shouted at Mia from the hallway.
“Okay, coming!“, Mia answered Ray as nothing happened.
Mia walked to the kitchen slowly and looked at the mirror. Splashing some cool water on her face, she then wiped off the blood on her lips and covered her blue-black marks on her cheeks with her foundation. She was a professional with this cover-up situation as this happens to her every day. As she made the coffee, the aroma of the coffee beans filled the kitchen and the hallway strongly. Mia poured the coffee into two of the mugs and wiped the sides of the mugs so that it would look clean and presentable to them as Ray was very strict on such matters.
“She makes wonderful coffee. You got to try it”, Ray said to that person.
Mia walked over and placed the coffee mugs in front of them and backed off a little.
“Please enjoy the coff...“, Mia froze as she looked up to that person.
That person was also stunned looking at Mia but quickly cleared his throat as he helped himself with the coffee. Mia tried to cover her face by looking down on the ground but Ray had a different plan. Ray pulled her on his lap and made her sit on his lap. He had his hand around her waist and thighs. Mia couldn’t look at the person’s face properly as she was embarrassed and shocked to see him in their house suddenly.
“So, we have some noise complaints from the neighbors. Would you like to explain that?“, the person said breaking the silence.
“Noise complaint? I don’t understand. Who would do that? We are such a loving couple living our lives here peacefully”, Ray said as he held on to Mia’s waist tightly.
“Do you mind if I take a look at the place, Mr. Ray?“, that person asked Ray politely.
“Sure, why not? There is nothing to hide”, Ray said as he got up.
As that person walked to the rooms, Ray looked at Mia and raised his eyebrows.
“If you could have shut your damn mouth, we wouldn’t be facing him now”, Ray whisper-shouted to Mia in his stern voice.
Mia swallowed her saliva hard and continued to look at the ground fearfully. Ray and Mia saw that person walk back slowly to the living hall with his cup of coffee in his hand.
“Nothing to be a suspicious right officer?“, Ray asked that person with a smiling face.
“I am sorry to bother you both. I was just doing my job here. Thank you for the coffee by the way”, he placed the mug on the table and looked at Mia.
He smiled at her and shook Ray’s hand as he headed out from the house. Mia stood there in the living hall wondering what he was doing here and why would he come in uninformed just like that. Mia took the mugs and turned over to walk but Ray suddenly appeared in front of her. The coffee spilled on Ray’s t-shirt a little and the mug fell on the ground as it broke into pieces.
“You little bitch! How dare you!“, Ray got so mad at Mia for staining his t-shirt.
“I am sorry! I am really sorry. I clear this mess now”, Mia said as she bends down to pick up the broken pieces on the floor.
While Mia was picking up the broken pieces on the floor, tears started to roll down her chubby cheeks. That person who came to the house inspecting on noise complaint wasn’t anyone but her high school crush. His name was Min Suga. There was a softness to his appearance, a kind of warmth married to a shyness. It was the look of an honest soul. By the look and appearance of his smile, Mia could tell he was a loving soul, yet one who was shy of such affections for good reason. He had defined cheekbones, a concrete jaw, he had the kind of face that stopped you in your tracks. He has this overcompensating with a nonchalant gaze and a weak smile.
Suga was always this sweet guy who would look out for Mia and defend her no matter what type of situation she was in. Mia had always wanted to convey her feelings to him but time and situation were never on her side because Suga transferred to another school in a different state. That was the last she saw Suga in school and then now as a police officer. Mia was happy in a way that Suga turned out to be someone in his life. She just wanted him to be happy that’s all.
Mia took all the broken pieces and wrapped them up in a newspaper. She walked out from the house to throw the broken pieces when she saw Suga standing at the corner of her porch. It was as if he was waiting for Mia to step out of the house. Mia pretended not to see Suga and walked past him fast.
“Mia...“, Suga called Mia slowly.
“Just leave. If Ray sees you here still, he might hurt you. So just leave, will you?“, Mia replied without even looking at Suga’s face.
“I know everything, Mia. Everything. You can’t live a lie, Mia. Leave him...“, Suga persuaded her.
“Just leave, will you? Leave before Ray sees you”, Mia replied as if she ignored his statement before. “If I put him behind bars, will you leave him and come with me?“, Suga reached for Mia’s hand slowly.
Mia stopped her steps and bit her lips. She pushed Suga’s hand away and looked into the house. She was so afraid that Ray might see them talking. Suga pulled Mia’s hand back and this time he made sure Mia was facing him.
“Tell me, Mia. Are you really happy with him here? I mean I know what kind of person he is and so...“, Suga said.
A myriad of emotions crossed Mia’s face. She couldn’t believe Suga was here, now, and as ever, was ready to defend her. But could she really escape this situation that fate has so coldly decided to hand out to her?
“Try putting him behind bars and then I will think about leaving him and coming with you”, Mia challenged as she turned to walk back into the house.