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A Problem Like Maria

Prologue

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A Problem Like Maria
by Lar

 
     

Chapter Seven

I walk with a slight limp back to the door frame of the room. At first, walking around the hospital left me in a great deal of pain, but now it was almost like I wasnít even shot at all. A minor sharp pain would shoot through me every so often, but not regularly.

"Thank you, I think I can manage from here." I smile at the polite, but not overly friendly nurse.

"I think I should help." She replies.

"Trust me, Iíll be able to make it the few feet to my bed without any problems. Thanks." I nod my head slightly for emphasis, and watch as the nurse walks off, mumbling along the way.

Turning around, I enter my room and nearly have a heart attack. "Jesus! Are you trying to kill me? Wait a minute, donít answer that." I retort, staring my brother Luis down. He wore a black form fitting sweater and jeans, making him appear buff.

"Itís nice to see you too." He politely replies. I bit my tongue, trying hard not to hiss at him to get out. I look heavenward, remembering Hank and my conversation last night. Slowly I limp over to my bed and get in, deciding this was Luisí chance.

"What do you want?" I ask him sighing once I was positioned.

"God, you make it sound as though Iím an asshole." I stare down at him. "Strike that last remark. Seriously, youíre my sister, and you were just shot, I care about you."

"Really? Thatís funny, I couldíve sworn you didnít." I snap.

"Not this again. Look Paloma-"

"Maria. My legal name is Maria Fitzgerald now. Paloma Lopez died the moment she was sent outta town." I correct.

"Whatever. Listen, we were both young then. I admit it, I made a mistake, but you did too."

"I was young and confused! And thatís not the part that angers me Luis, itís that after I arrived in Spain, how many times did you call? Once? How many times did you write?" I say, anger teetering in my voice.

"Itís expensive to call Spain. You know that." Luis replies calmly.

"Well, thatís kinda odd, I mean, mother only called Aunt Maria every month, but somehow, there was never enough time to speak to me." I turn away from him, trying to hide the tears in my eyes.

"Iím sorry Paloma, it was tough times back then. Why are you here if you didnít want to patch things up though?"

"My plane got downed by that storm. We had to land here. Trust me, if Iíd have known Iíd be in Harmony, I wouldíve made the girls leave early."

"Oh you mean those two." Luis said in realization.

"Theyíre my best friends in the world. One of the few people I have. We work together, we play together, we live together. They are my family." I say, staring at the wall.

"Where were you flying to?" Luis asks.

"Chicago. Our company opens there tonight, but I wonít be there for opening night." I reply without emotions.

"Company? You own a company?" Luis asks with astonishment in his voice.

I turn to face him, "no, Iím the lead in ĎWest Side Storyí."

"Really? You accomplished your dreams? Thatís wonderful."

"Stop it Luis. Nothings fine between us, so donít act like it is." I correct the atmosphere, which was quickly becoming out of my control.

"I wish you would forgive me." Luis muttered, and I turn to face the other wall again.

"I donít know if I can forgive you Luis. We never really got along, but I always thought that being brother and sister meant something. I didnít even get informed Theresa was marrying." I sigh sadly.

"I wish there was someway to patch things up between us. Paloma, we all still love you, as difficult as it may be for you to believe, we all still love you."

"Iíd like to be alone now Luis." I say, still facing the other way. I hear him sigh, and the sound of his shoes on the linoleum floor.

"By the way, Sam and I talked to the D. A. Looks like youíll need to stay in Harmony for a while. At least until you can testify at the trial." He says before the door shuts. I sink down into my bed. So maybe one visit wasnít enough to determine anything, but now it appeared I had time to figure our future relationship out. I close my eyes, trying to imagine a happy time between me and my brother. A special memory of one Christmas pops into my head.

I hadnít been more than eight. For weeks, I looked around town, trying to pick out the perfect gift for Luis. That was nearly impossible. Still, somehow I managed to find a gift I thought heíd like. It was a brand new soccer ball. His other one had been ran over by a car just days before. Finally, I would be able to impress my brother, maybe even earn his respect.

Antonio had always made me feel special, set me on a pedestal, and that angered Luis. They were complete opposites. Luis stubborn and uptight, Antonio relaxed and easy going. But somehow, they managed to have a close connection. They agreed on almost everything, except how to treat me. Antonio let me be myself, singing, acting, playing. Luis always tried to make me be someone else, him.

Iíll never forget that Christmas morning. We all gathered around the tree. Mother, father, Luis, Antonio, Theresa, who was only one, and me. Going from oldest to youngest, we took turns opening presents. I canít remember what I got that year, but I do remember Luisí face when he opened the present from me. It was one of the few times he hugged me.

That day was wonderful. We didnít fight once. We were just like a picture book brother and sister. But then, that was an isolated incident. Still, it was a happy time.

I pull up the covers of my hospital bed and take in the scent. Feeling bored, I flip on the small television and channel surf.



"Hey you. Luis said he was gonna stop in, howíd it go?" Hank asks as he walks into my room and plops down into the chair. I eye the bag in his hand, and take in the rich aroma of Chinese food.

"Is that for me?" I ask.

"Yep. I remember hospital food. Just nasty." Hank smiles as he picks up the bag and sets it on the table between the chair and bed.

"Thanks. I appreciate it." I say, starting to eat the food.

"So, howíd your talk with Luis go?"

"Fine, I guess. We talked, not yelled, if thatís what you mean. Weíve still got issues, and Iím not ready to forgive him yet." I sigh, sticking my fork into a water chestnut.

"The important thing is you tried. I canít tell you how often me and Sam have exchanged words, but the important thing is, we got past it. Thatís what you and Luis need to do, get past it."

"Hank, youíve known us practically our whole lives. Weíve Ďexchanged wordsí almost everyday of our lives." I shake my head.

"Iím not expecting miracles." Hank jokingly defended. I notice him looking down at my food, and I smile. He still had a bottomless pit for a stomach.

"You want some? You brought it." I offer.

"I thought youíd never ask!" He stated, digging in with another fork. I watch as he takes a bit of sesame chicken, and feel drawn to him. Since Iíd known him, I always knew he had problems with his brother. But were we really that much alike? The thought had never crossed my mine, but now, being back, itís made me look at my brotherís best friend in a totally different light.

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