Maria scoffed in disbelief when his words resonated with her. She suddenly felt like a puppet, controlled by an arrogant master- Leon.
Gritting her teeth amidst her saddened heart, Maria grabbed her bags from Leon’s hand and began to walk away, while the tears streamed down her face.
Leon stood in utter shock with his jaws unhinged. He couldn’t believe what had just happened, but luckily, he quickly recovered from his dismay and walked briskly after Maria.
He grabbed her hand and twirled her around to him. “What the hell!” He exclaimed.
“Who do you think you are?” Maria hissed sharply, trying to tug herself out of Leon’s grip, but he was too strong. “Let me go!”
Leon watched the tears falling down her bruised face. He watched how she struggled to set herself free. He saw how fragile she was and for a moment, he didn’t want to do anything but hold her in his arms and assure her that everything would be fine…but for now, he wanted answers as to why she was being so adamant.
“What is wrong with you?” he demanded abruptly.
Maria sniffed, finally done with trying to free herself from his grip. “We are no longer together, so stop trying to control me!” she bit out sharply. Brokenly.
Leon scoffed. “I’m not trying to control you, I’m trying to protect you dammit!” He snapped, taken aback by the mere prospect of Maria’s declaration.
With one sudden tug, Maria freed herself from his grasp. “Protect me from whom? Yourself?” she spat shakily. “You are the real danger here and if it wasn’t for you, none of this would be happening,” she yelled hysterically.
Her words hit home and so Leon was left in silence, staring at Maria in disbelief.
“You ruined me all those years ago!” She cried. “And now you’re here to do the same thing ag-” she was cut off by the sob that broke from her lips.
Leon’s stomach knotted at her words and he suddenly took a step back to distance himself from her. Glaring at her, he allowed his thoughts to overwhelm him. What was he even doing? Where was the despise he had felt towards the woman earlier? Why was he forgetting his goal in the first place?. All the questions floated around in his head, but none laid at a steady foundation.
“Fine,” he shrugged, finding the shakiness in his voice unfamiliar. “I don’t even know what I was thinking anyway. A leopard never changes it’s spots” he hissed now, welcoming his cold demeanor.
Maria swallowed and folded her lips to prevent them from shaking. Her throat seemed constricted and her whole body seemed to hurt at his words, but she lifted her head; not like the damsel she was seeming to be, but like the proud woman she knew herself to be.
“Goodbye,” she managed firmly, taking one steady glance at Leon before she spun on her heels and walked away from him. With her back turned, Maria knew that she couldn’t put up with the façade of bravery for long, and so the tears streamed down her face, bursting the dam of sadness in her eyes.
It took Leon all the strength he could muster, to restrain himself and not run after her. He gritted his teeth as he watched her leave, knowing that there wasn’t really anything he could do…or was there? His ego was already wounded and Leon considered himself a prideful man, so could he chase after a woman, even when the woman was Maria?
Leon, feeling utterly frustrated, angrily slammed his fist into his car; it did no good, only caused him more pain and a possible broken finger. Hissing sharply, he flashed his hand to mitigate the pain but it did no good.
He cursed under his breath and flung the door open before he went inside and started the engine.
Thoughts of Maria consumed him once more and as much as he tried to suffocate those thoughts, he realized that he had no control over them. The woman was always a plague to his thinking.
How could one woman be so stubborn?, he thought frustratingly. Her life was in danger, and yet she was denying herself safety. He could give her that; he would protect her, but if she was still caught up in the past, what the heck could he do?
Leon thought that if anyone had the right to be angry, it should be him. He was the one who was left heartbroken all those years ago. He was the one who was betrayed and lied to the entire relationship, so why the hell was she acting like the victim?
Maybe she hasn’t changed after all, he thought begrudgingly.
Leon suddenly slowed the car when he saw her around a corner, leaning against a wall, while sobs shook her body. His stomach suddenly knotted as he glared at her fragile figure; she was hurting- he saw that.
He stopped the car and immediately reached for the door to open it, but he paused, suddenly contemplating on his actions. One part of him was telling him to continue driving and never look back, but another part was telling him to go to her.
For some passing moments, Leon battled with the two options, but then he hissed and quickly pushed the door open. His soft side always won over.
He strode towards her and grabbed her by the hands which caused a gasp to escaped Maria’s lips. She hadn’t see him coming. She was shocked.
Leon’s walls crumbled a little more when he looked down on her face. Her brown eyes were wide and filled with tears, her face was flushed and the bruises only added to the redness. Her sweet mouth was slightly opened in shock, the small cut only serving as a reminder that protecting her was to come first.
“I don’t care if you hate me. I dislike you too,” he lied, but only to disguise what he was really feeling. “But, I won’t allow your psychopathic fiancé to harm you any further, so you better get in the damn car or I’ll drag you to it,” he hissed.
Maria paled. “I’m not going anywhere with you”
Leon huffed out a breath. “Maria get in the damn car,” he slowly ground out between tightly clenched teeth.
“Why do you even care if Sam hurts me anyway?” She snapped. “You already said, you don’t like me, so why?” She demanded.
Leon, not sure how he would answer that question, began to pull Maria behind him amidst her protest. “Let me go!” She yelled, using her other hand to try to push him off, but her strength was too little.
Leon closed the door when he managed to get her inside, and quickly went around, where he sat and closed the door.
Maria sat poutingly. “Why are you doing this?” She cried.
Leon rested his head against the seat and sighed. “You said I was the one who caused all of this, and maybe you’re right, but I won’t sit back and watch you get hurt, and later blame myself for it. Maybe this is my fault, but I will take responsibility for my actions,” he bit out tightly, leveling his gaze to hers.
Maria was silent and she wasn’t sure if that silence resulted from the fact that his words hit home or the fact that she was emotionally, physically and mentally, tired.
Leon, feeling contented with her silence, started the car and drove off without another word.
Maria slowly turned to him and saw the tension that smeared his face. He looked straight ahead, his jaw flexing with what Maria thought was anger. Her gaze then slowly drifted down his body and to his hands which were on the steering wheel.
The breath hitched in her throat when she saw his bruised knuckles. Suddenly wondering what could have caused it, or if he was OK, Maria bit her lips to prevent herself from asking the questions.
She kept her head straight, not wanting to make it known that his mere presence was affecting her. Tears pricked the back of her eyes but she tightly closed them to hold it back.
With her eyes shut, her thoughts opened up a bit more. All the events of the days kept flashing back in her head. Seeing Leon for the first time in years, the dinner, their love making, her betrayal towards Sam, Sam’s betrayal towards her.. And then the threat!
Maria’s phone suddenly shrilled, startling her in the process. Her eyes popped open as she reached for it in her pocket.
Glancing down at the caller ID, she paled instantly when she saw who it was. Taking a quick glance at Leon, Maria swallowed hard before answering.