She recognized the caller ID. She recognized the special ring tone she had set for that one particular person.
Maria swallowed hard, glancing at Leon from the corners of her eye, as she hesitatingly swiped the screen to answer. She couldn’t ignore the call as it may be important and she couldn’t excuse herself to talk.
She was trapped.
“Hello,” she answered and after hearing the tone of her voice, she cleared her throat.
She listened to the other end, realizing that muffled breathing was all she could hear. Maria bit her jaw, her heartbeat increasing with every moment of silence that she received from the other end.
“Hello,” she croaked again, but this time stronger. Leon concernedly glanced in her direction to see what was wrong; the lines of curiosity on his face, visible.
“Hi sis,” a voice finally came, filling Maria’s ears with a sudden panic and bitterness.
Chills ran down her body, she used a hand to hug a shoulder. “Wh- where’s mom?” she asked with a firmer voice, tilting her head further away from Leon and lowering her voice.
“Mommy’s here, can’t I talk to you for a little while?”
Maria bit her lips to stop them from trembling and tightly closed her eyes to stop the tears from falling. “What do you want?” She asked, noticing how fast Leon’s head snapped round. The car came to a screeching halt.
“Is that Sam?” He demanded abruptly, his face going hard with the thought of the wretched man.
Maria swallowed and quickly shook her head. “No” she mouthed, then cleared her throat. “I’ve gotta take this call privately, excuse me,” she explained, happy that the car had stopped.
She saw the look of curious gaze Leon threw at her, but she was happy he didn’t act on it.
Quickly, Maria slid from the car and went to a far corner to continue her conversation. “Where’s my mother?” She asked now, a bit sharply.
A giggle emanated from the caller. “Is that how you talk to your sister Maria?” She teased gratingly.
Maria clenched her teeth. “Why the hell are you calling me from mom’s phone?”
“Mine’s kinda broken,” she said lazily. “Well anyway, mom is in the shower and I’m here bored so I decided to give sissy a call. I just came back from Tennessee,” she provided dully.
“Good for you,” Maria retorted flatly, not liking the news one bit. If her sister was back - calling from her mom’s phone - it meant she was in New York, and not very far away from her. The thought alone made Maria’s stomach turn.
“I’m thinking of paying you a visit as soon as I’m settled in the big Apple. We can hang out… It will be like old times,” she laughed, and Maria paled, hugging her shoulder.
“I don’t want to see you. I don’t want you near me,” she hissed sharply.
Marianne scoffed. “Well I wonder how you feel each time you look at yourself in the mirror.”
Maria was left speechless to that for some moments. “Just stay the hell away from me!”
A hearty laugh came from the other line. “Such a bitter woman,” Marianne exclaimed distastefully, a slight tinge of mockery present. “An oh…did you get hurt today?” She asked. “I had a feeling that something happened to you”
Maria suddenly grew pale, abruptly disconnecting the call and breathing heavily.
Leaning against the wall, she raked her hand through her hair and closed her eyes, allowing calm to enter her body. Her thoughts had gone haywire as memories of the conversation she had- memories of her sister overwhelmed her.
Maria bolted upright when she felt a hand on her shoulder. She gasped frighteningly when she saw a concerned Leon staring down at her.
“Wh- Are you OK?” Leon asked as his gaze explored the length of Maria with concern.
Clearing her throat, she managed a stiff smile. “I’m fine.”
Silence stretched between them, Leon’s eyes still scrutinizing Maria.
“Who was that on the phone?” He couldn’t resist asking, after all, he had been watching her reactions from the car.
Maria hissed. “That’s none of your business,” she snapped.
Leon ignored the harsh reply. “You said it wasn’t Sam, but now I’m thinking you told me a lie.”
“I didn’t tell you a lie. It wasn’t him,” she insisted through gritted teeth.
“Who was it then?” Leon was persistent in finding out just who it was.
“It’s none of your business damnit!” She rasped. “Could you just leave it at that for Pete’s sake!” Her voice sounded shrill with raising it so much, and her eyes were wide in frustration.
“Why do you always have to put up a fight when I’m only trying to protect you?” He asked now, his voice risen to match Maria’s.
“Don’t get me started on that again,” she drawled, while attempting to step past him.
That attempt however, failed when Leon shifted his body to block her. “Why do you always have to be so god damn stubborn?!”
“Why do you have to be so controlling? I’m not a puppet that you can control or a puppy you can order around!” She exclaimed sharply, brushing past him to return to the car.
Leon sighed heavily, before going to his car.
They arrived at his suite five minutes later. Leon swiped his card and entered the room with Maria’s bags in hand.
Maria paused a few inches away from the door when a sense of familiarity consumed her body. She had remembered the room, remembered the insanely sinful acts she had performed with Leon just hours ago. As her thoughts took her back to the moments she had spent in Leon’s arms, she felt the sudden heat that pooled in her body- in her core. Maria subconsciously bit her lips to rid herself of her unceremonious thoughts, but they didn’t wane, especially when her eyes drifted from one particular spot, to the next.
Leon, on the other hand had seen the faze she had drifted into. He saw the blush that rose at her already flushed cheeks and he also saw how she analyzed the space with deep scrutiny. He suddenly couldn’t help the smile that tilted his lips pleasingly. He knew she was thinking about the throes of passion they had been engaged in just moments ago.
And with just the very thought of that alone, Leon found himself getting hard. For her…for passion.
He suddenly cleared his throat and mentally scolded himself for having such thoughts in their given situation. He noticed how fast Maria’s head snapped around- frightened by the sudden interruption to her thoughts.
Her cheeks flamed a little more when she caught him sporting a smirk on his devilish lips. “W- I’m going to take a warm shower now, then we can talk about my accommodations here,” she informed a bit shakily.
Leon nodded without protest, watching as Maria took one bag and sauntered into the adjoining room.
She let out a sigh as soon as she was in the bathroom, gripping the rim of the face basin for support. Maria inhaled deeply, filling her lungs with the fresh scent of soap and candles.
She stared at herself in the mirror, only now seeing the bruises and scrapes on her face- caused by the one she thought she had loved. Slowly touching the small cut on her lip, Maria suddenly remembered Sam’s abuse…Leon’s sudden reappearance in her life, and finally - Marianne- her evil sister.
She wanted to keep in her past and away from her - away from her life, but something told her that wasn’t going to happen anytime soon.
Marianne Chandler sat chewing vigorously on a bubblegum while she twirled her finger around a lock of loose hair. As she used a free hand to scroll through her mother’s messages, she smiled remembering the conversation she had with her dear sister.
Marianne knew that even though they were sisters, the connection between them had never been strong. While Maria was an ambitious and kind hearted soul, Marianne was the complete opposite - a rebel with an ice cold heart. Their outer appearance was always identical until a few years ago when Marianne decided that jet black hair would suit her better… And a few more piercings here and there.
The smile fell from her face when she came upon a text her mother had sent Maria.
Hey sweetheart, how is the wedding planning going?
Marianne’s brows shot up at the information.
“Wedding?” She whispered disbelievingly, tapping the phone against her chin in concentration. No one had told her about a wedding, she thought begrudgingly as her brows knitted angrily.
“Well, well well. It seems little Maria is tying the knot,” she murmured to herself. “But to whom?” She suddenly questioned as she continued to talk to herself.
“It couldn’t be with Leon Oakley,” she said, mentally crossing his name off. “They are no longer together-” her words were interrupted when her mother- Julia - entered the room.
“I’m going out to get some things. I’ll be back honey,” she announced as she swung her hand bag over her shoulders.
Marianne suddenly slid the phone in the crevices of the sofa. “Sure,” she smiled.
Julia’s gaze traveled around the room, in search of something. “Have you seen my phone darling?” She asked, scratching her head blankly.
Marianne suddenly shook her head. “No, I haven’t,” she lied but the look she pasted on her face, didn’t speak of such.
Julia sighed murmuring something to herself as she continued to look around. “Well anyway, I’ll be back- have you called your sister as yet?” She asked, already heading towards the door.
“No!” She called. “I’ll do that later,” she completed with a grin that broadened when she heard the door slam shut.
Quickly reaching for the phone, she began to further invade her mother’s privacy; in search of any information that could tell her just who her sister’s fiancé was.
She smiled deviously when she came upon a text message: Hey mom, just a reminder that Sam and I are coming over for dinner on Saturday. Love you.
Received from Maria, a few weeks ago, Marianne noticed with a broadened grin.
“Sam,” she tested the name on her lips. “Short for Samuel or Samson?” She thought with a grin that quickly died when the doorbell rang.
Thinking of who it might be, Marianne slowly got up and walked to the door.
She smiled flirtatiously when she opened the door and found a tall blonde standing with a smile on his face.
“Well, how may I help you,” she smiled, slowly running her eyes along the length of the mystery man.
“You must be Marianne Chandler. I heard you were back in town,” the person smiled an award winning smile, his eyes fixated on the asset that stood before him.
Marianne’s brows shot up, realizing he knew her name. “And you are?” She asked with piqued curiosity.
His smile transformed to a smirk. “I’m your sister’s fiancé. Samuel Carter,” he introduced firmly, watching as the girl’s eyes widened slightly. A smirk then played on her lips.