M A R C E L L A
How could such a monstrous man take her to such a beautiful place? She didn’t even think he would agree to it in the first place. She had been wondering why he did. Maybe he pitied her. Maybe he thought she had given up already, that she would finally stop running. The answer to that was never.
This was a man who enraged her right to her core. She couldn’t forgive what he had done, even though she could see his side to it. How could she be amicable with a man who played a part in her mother’s death? It would be frankly a betrayal to her beloved mother.
This was the same man who brought her to a cliff side to watch the sunset. Did he think this would change her mind about him?
She had the feeling he was confused. Which she wanted. The whole twenty-minute bathroom break had been to throw him off, make him paranoid. She hadn’t been doing anything but silently crying. She didn’t know why but she just allowed all her pain to flood out. And then she soaked it all back up, reined it in and composed herself. He would not see her tears, her weakness.
“You like it?” he asked, watching her intently.
“Yes.” She wouldn’t say too much. She didn’t want the detestation for him to seep out into her tone. She was clenching her fists behind her back to stop herself from punching him.
“Sit down.” John sat with his legs over the cliff’s edge rather recklessly. Wasn’t he nervous that she was just going to push him over it? “No, I’m not.” Wait, what? Did she say that out loud? “I know what you’re thinking but I also know you wouldn’t do that.” She sat down beside him just to see his face.
“You don’t know me. I don’t know you.”
“I disagree,” he stated, sighing. She narrowed her eyes at him. Arrogant asshole. He was so sure he knew her. He was so sure he was safe with her around. And, if she had to be honest with herself, she wouldn’t be able to hurt him. She didn’t know why though because it wasn’t her conscience. “I know you’re mad at me. The moment I met you and I saw those same eyes I had seen all those years ago, I felt so unbelievably guilty. I didn’t want you to know what I did. I’m sorry about your mom, Mari. I can’t change what I did.”
“I don’t even remember much about her,” Mari replied, sighing in defeat. She was still unforgiving, but she wouldn’t fight him. “I… guess I buried her, along with my memories of her death. I vaguely remember what she looked like and a few good memories, kind memories of her, but that’s it. What about your family?”
He scoffed and raised his eyebrows at her. “I want to tell you. I actually want to tell you. But I think you’re fishing again.”
“You were wrong about the fishing last time. I’ve never even been fishing,” she said teasingly.
“Fine. Both my parents are still alive and junkies. Growing up with them wasn’t too fun. You know what they say about monsters, monsters make monsters. So now I’m like this.”
“A monster.” Their eyes locked and she could see this melancholy sadness in his eyes. The air grew thick around them, like it usually did when it was tense. But it wasn’t the usual tension. This was different.
She wanted to agree that he was a monster, but deep down, she knew he was less of a monster than the other man she met. And everyone had a monster inside of them.
“Ever since I met you, everything has been different. And I don’t know why. I used to be colder than this but now… now I’m not.”
“Is that a bad thing?” she asked.
“Maybe. Maybe not,” he answered. She turned back to look out at the view. There was so much beauty around them to stare at and yet all her eyes wanted to follow was John. Why was this happening?
“Why did you agree to stop?”
“Because I trusted you wouldn’t run.” Her attention flipped back to him, scanning his face for the truth. He trusted that she wouldn’t run? After all the times she ran? She had promised she wouldn’t. But their word couldn’t be trusted; people like them couldn’t be trusted. She had learned that at a young age, something her father had taught her. Yet he trusted her not to run. And that seemed to be the truth.
“You’re not a monster,” she told him impulsively, the words begging to be loose from her lips. She tried to force them back, but she knew they were true.
“No? I would have thought you would feel differently.” He edged closer to her, his fingers touching her thigh lightly.
“I’ll never forgive you,” she muttered, watching his every movement. Their faces were incredibly close, his eyes flickering down to her lips. She didn’t know what to do. She knew what was about to happen, but she didn’t have the strength to pull away. And she also had the strength to lean in, to follow the plan.
His lips slammed on hers before she could do anything else. He leaned back to get them further away from the edge and dragged her body onto his lap. He took complete control, his arms pressing her body to his, his lips devouring hers. His tongue explored her mouth, like he owned it, like she was all his.
She couldn’t really process what was happening. She was ashamed of how much she enjoyed his touch, his dominance, the danger. She had been around dangerous men her whole life and yet she enjoyed the monster within him.
She pulled away and stared at him wide-eyed. And he stared back at her. Her lips parted to say something, but no words left her. Frozen, utterly breathless and she hadn’t even realized the position she was in. She was sitting on his torso that felt like bricks, each abs digging into her. She didn’t know what to do. She was completely out of her depth.
“Mari…” In a panic, she pressed her lips to his again. And he welcomed her.
This was the plan. This was what she wanted. To seduce him. To manipulate him. To make him let her go. But it was all so real. And she wasn’t sure it was entirely because of the plan. There were other motives at play.
She backed off once again and there returned the scared baby expression. She thought he only saw her as a child, a little girl. And yet he was kissing her like he wanted her more than anything in the world.
She climbed off of him and stood up, brushing herself down. And he stood with her.
Nothing was uttered as they walked back down the path and slid back into the car. When he didn’t start the engine and just sat there, she grew nervous, fiddling with her fingers idly.
“Maybe we should talk,” he suggested. She remained silent, her eyes down at her hands. What had she done? It was just a kiss. Well, two kisses. She had kissed him when they first met. And he had kissed her back for revenge. They were up to four kisses now. Those last two were different. They meant something. They were still a means for escape, but they were much more, and both of them knew that.
“You don’t seem like one of those guys who… talks about things.” He only sighed in response and started up the engine. Perhaps her bitter response had made him give up. But she wasn’t bitter towards him but to herself.
After a while, as the morning rush came, John pulled into a free parking lot for some sleep. But neither of them could sleep. They just sat in silence rather awkwardly.
“I was angry at you. That was it,” she declared, making his eyes snap to hers. A smirk tugged at his lips as he nodded.
“Sure, princess. I believe that,” he said smugly. “Go to sleep.”
“You’re always telling me to sleep.”
“Because you always forget to. You’re too busy staring at me,” John teased. “Now, sleep.” She rolled her eyes and rested her head back.
What the fuck had she done? Was the kiss too far in the plan? She had only prepared to be flirtatious with him, to tease him. Nothing physical. Nothing real. Just words and simple acts that she could control. But there was nothing about those kisses that were in her control.
“John?” she called out, eyes still closed.
“Yeah?” he muttered.
“Don’t take me back.”
Then she let sleep capture her.