Bulletproof Kisses

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Calls To Make

Leon picked up Maria about five minutes after her call, seeing that the hotel he was staying at was not far from Hannah’s apartment. She entered the vehicle without a word, distancing herself by staring out the window and relaying the events of the day in her head.

Leon glanced in her direction every now and then when he managed to get his eyes off the road. He was worried, seeing the way in which she withdrew and wandered into a world by herself.

“Maria?” he wanted to know if she was really alright.

“I- can we just talk at your hotel please. I need to think,” she announced disjointedly, bringing her gaze to the window.

Leon simply nodded, as he continued to drive, his mind partially on the road and Maria.

“Maria, what’s going on?” Leon asked as soon as they were settled in his hotel room.

“I’m only here to offer you an explanation as to why I didn’t tell you about my sister when we were together. After that, I’ll be on my way,” she told him dryly, taking a seat on the sofa.

Leon opened his mouth to formulate a reply, but was met up with Maria’s halting hand.

“Please,” she said, her voice low. “Just give me a chance to explain.”

Leon grew more concerned with every word that came from her mouth. Her face was void of emotions and there was an emptiness in her eyes that he’d never seen before.

“I didn’t tell you about Marianne because I didn’t want her memories to ruin my life,” she began, seeing the confused look on Leon’s face.

“That day I met you at that café, my dad died a week before. I told you that but I didn’t tell you why. He died of a heart attack…,” she trailed off, taking a moment to compose herself. “He had an argument with Marianne right before; she told him all sort of lies about me just because she knew I was his favorite.”

“Marianne doesn’t love anyone but herself and she disliked me because I got the straight A’s, the friends and she didn’t like that. She always tried to find some way to ruin that for me. It got worst when she found that dad favored me more. He had a heart condition called atrial fibrillation which is a irregular rapid heartbeat. She purposely got into that argument with him to paint a bad picture of me. Dad didn’t take it lightly, not because he believed what she said - he didn’t. He was just too heartbroken hearing his daughter speaking so hatefully about her own twin. He was always so fragile…” her voice faltered with the last sentence.

“On the day of his funeral, she leaned into me and said: ’That’s one less person to love dear old Maria’.” She tried really hard to hold back the tears, but one drop was persistent.

“I can never forgive her for that,” she completed huskily.

Leon’s shock could not be hidden.”I didn’t know - I…” he trailed off, too shocked to utter even another word.

“That’s the only secret I ever kept from you while we were together,” she admitted coolly, angrily brushing at her tears- feeling disappointed in herself for already breaking her promise.

“Maria, I’m sorry,” Leon softly murmured, so soft it was barely audible. “I’m sorry for reacting the way I did earlier. I-“

“You don’t have to explain yourself to me. It’s fine.”

They were left in companionable silence for awhile, Maria battling with herself to not break down in tears, while Leon on the other hand, wanted to just go and comfort her, but he knew from her demeanor that she wouldn’t allow it.

“Sam was cheating on me,” her clipped tone tore the silence, causing Leon’s eyes to widen.

“He what?” he snapped, his voice sharper than he wanted it to be.

“With Hannah,” Maria continued dryly.

“With Hannah?” Leon questioned in disbelief, not quite sure he heard the words right.

She nodded. “What has loving people got me,” her words were barely a whisper and Leon knew that if he wasn’t staring at her so intently, he might have missed it.

“Mari-” he began, but she had no care for his words.

“I have loved people with all my heart and all I’ve gotten in return is pure hurt and betrayal,” her voice grew an octave louder with each word. “Why?” she whispered, eyes searching his face for an answer.

Leon’s heart ached as he saw a sad line of tears trail down her flustered face. The pain in her eyes were just as evident as the one on her face. He slowly moved towards her, wanting to wrap her in his arms and reassure her that everything would be fine. She could love him, but Maria stepped away quickly, shying away from his touch like it was deadly.

“Who can I trust when everyone hurts me?” She questioned with almost a gasp.

Leon swallowed. “You can trust m-“

“Don’t say it,” she hissed, her lips trembling as she hugged her shoulders. “You have brought me nothing but hurt and pain and I - I hate myself for still loving you, or for thinking that I do,” she exclaimed, each word a sentence by itself, carrying it’s own weight of hurt.

“Maria listen to me,” Leon began with a sentence that pleaded to be heard. “I know that I have hurt you and I’m deeply sorry but don’t you think that you’d be living a lie, married to a psychopath and a cheater, with a friend who smiles in your face and sleeps with your husband behind your back. My reentry into your life may have been for the wrong reasons, but it has uncovered so many things in the process.” he finally said, with a light sigh, watching Maria’s reaction.

She seemed to be in deep thought and Leon watched in anticipation for her lips to move and words to come out, but the sudden ringing of Maria’s cellphone was all that could be heard.

Maria slightly jumped as she hesitatingly dug into her pocket to fetch it. Leon immediately strolled towards her, wanting to see whom it was. He prayed it wasn’t Sam because he would drag him through the phone and beat him to a pulp if it was. Maria slightly glanced at him, seeing the look on his face, before bringing her gaze back to the screen.

The number was unknown, Maria’s heart hammered.

“Give it to me,” Leon suggested. Maria swallowed and shook her head, timidly swiping the screen to answer.

As soon as she did….

“Maria!” Hannah’s voice broke way, Maria stiffened, chills running down her spine. “Maria listen,” she said quickly after, just as Maria was about to hang up, just as Leon was about to take the phone and give her a piece of his mind.

“I think Sam is coming- If you’re with Leon, I - I think you should stay with him-” a sob broke away from Hannah. “He was here and you were right… He hurt me- I’m sorry Maria, sorry for betraying you,” she trailed off as her tone hardened. “You have to stay safe.” she said then hung up, leaving Maria to stare blankly at the phone for some passing seconds.

Hannah sounded so frightened, so scared and disheveled that for a moment Maria didn’t even recognize it was her. But her words, her words were what really got Maria on edge.

“I can’t believe Sam would hurt her too,” she softly said, still in awe from Hannah’s revelations.

“That just goes to show what a sick fuck the man is,” he hissed, raking his hand through his hair. “I’m going to make some calls,” he said, moving towards the coffee table, before he turned to firmly look at Maria.

“You’re not leaving my sight.”

Samuel angrily threw his phone over the dashboard of the car, muttering a loud curse in the process.

“Her damn GPS is off,” he hissed, grinding his teeth together.

Marianne expelled a sigh. “You give up that easily Samuel?”

Samuel turned to look at her, his eyes shooting fire while anger consumed his body.

“The only person little Maria has now is Leon Oakley,” she scoffed. “She could never really get enough of the man. She always ran back to him-“

“What’s your fucking point?!” an irritated Sam growled.

Marianne choked a strained laugh. “My point is, Maria must be where Leon’s at.”

“At the hotel” Sam stated with an almost smile.

“But how can we be sure?” Marianne now asked.

Sam smiled fully. “Well, let’s just say I know I few people.” he grinned deviously and so did Marianne.

Both had their own sick motive for wanting to find Maria and they wouldn’t stop until they did.

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