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A Problem Like Maria

Prologue

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A Problem Like Maria
by Lar

 
     

Chapter Eleven

"Oh, you get better soon! I want details, call me everyday!" Julie commands, tears brimming in her eyes. I reach my arms around her back as she bends down for a hug.

"Don’t worry. I’ll keep you up to date. You better tell me what happens with the play." I reply.

"You sure you really wanna hear about Megan screwing up your part? It could cause you to fall or something, you know, damage your health." Jess remarks.

"True. Very true. Just give me generic details." I decided.

"Aye-aye." Julie smiles. Jess walks over from the far right corner and bends down for a hug.

"You tell me everything about Hank Bennett." She whispers in my ear.

"How’d you know?"

"This is a small town. The nurses talk." Jess winks at me, pulling away.

"Oh Lord." I mumble.

"You just better hope hot head Luis doesn’t find out."

"Oh God." I say in shock.

"You’ll handle him fine. We know you will." Jules interjects. She smiles at me, and I notice she’s wearing the peach sundress she bought in London.

"Well Jules, I hope that new dress was worth all this." I say in a smart allelic tone.

"Oh definitely!" Julie teases.

"One last group hug." Jess comments.

"Yes, your planes leaving in an hour. Come here you two." I call out, opening my arms and embracing them. "You call me as soon as you land."

"Count on it. You tell us everything that transpires. And tell us what goes on in that trial. We wanna be here when you testify." Jess replies.

"You got it. Thanks for everything." I smile as we break apart from the hug.

"We’re family, you don’t need to thank us. We’ll be in contact." Julie hollers as she exits the room, wiping the tears falling from her bright blue eyes.

"You take care of yourself." Jess comments, causing me to focus on her. "Don’t let that Hank Bennett break your heart, he looks like the type." She says, pulling me in for one last hug.

"He won’t."

"And don’t let that Luis push you around. You set him in his place. I’ve seen you do it before."

"Please don’t remind me. That was so embarrassing." I say breaking apart the hug.

"Hey, she totally deserved it. I’ve never seen anyone mess up the part as bad as she did. Tell me, how can you think Nellie is a slut? She’s a knuckle-headed nurse in the South Pacific." Jessica sneers.

"Okay, ‘nough on the past. You gotta catch a flight, and we could sit here for hours reminiscing about the past."

"You’re right. You call me."

"I will. You have a safe flight. Give Ken my best, and tell Megan to brake a leg for me."

"Literally?" Jess asks with a small chuckle.

"Of course."

"Bye babe."

"Bye hon." I remark as she walks out the door. I sigh loudly and tell myself ‘it’s for the best.’.



"What the HELL do you think you’re doing kissing Hank?" Luis screams as he walks in my room.

"Hello Luis, I didn’t expect to see you this early. It’s only 8:30. How are you?" I answer in a chipper voice just to irritate him.

"Don’t ignore the question Paloma, what are you doing kissing Hank?" He asks angrily, sitting in the chair at the right of my bed.

"Since when has me kissing anyone been of your concern? I’m grown up, I can kiss whoever I want." I reply back, staring into his cold brown eyes.

"He’s all wrong for you." Luis argues.

"That’s funny, ‘cause the way I see it, we’re pretty much the same. We both get hell from our families. We both screw up from time to time, and we both care despite our reputation." I cock my head and answer through a clenched jaw.

"But he’s so much older than you." Luis comments.

"Please. I’m nearly 24, and he’s 28. That makes us four years apart. Big whoop."

Luis sighs and runs his fingers through his hair. His eyes connect with mine and he says, "when he breaks your heart, don’t come running to me."

"I highly doubt Hank will ever break my heart. Plus, it’s not like we’re in love or anything. We just enjoy each other’s company."

A deafening silence settles in the room, and I find myself studying my older brother. He’s dressed in what I guess is a regulation Harmony PD uniform. His hair is laced with hair gel and pointing in every direction. Tiredness is etched on his face and in his eyes, and I can see how weary his is of caring the load for the family. I continue to study him until he speaks, breaking the silence.

"So, where’s your family?"

"My family? How’d you....Oh, you mean Jess and Jules." I correct myself before I say to much. The less people that know my father was here, the better.

"Yeah, they’re your only family you said." Luis skeptically replies.

"Yes, well, they had to catch a flight to Chicago."

"They left you! After all that preaching they did to us about how they’re your family, and they left you? I guess you guys were really close. I can’t believe they left you alone. And you consider them family?" Luis ranted, jumping up from his chair and pacing the room.

"They didn’t leave me alone. Fa-" I start to defend, but catch myself as I almost slip up again. Damn, I hate not being able to talk freely.

"What’d you say Paloma? You cut yourself off again. You seem to be doing that a lot. What aren’t you telling me? Huh? Speak up!" Luis demands, still enraged. He marches over to my bed side and looks down on me. I open my mouth to speak, but am cut off.

"Don’t you ever speak to our sister that way again. If I didn’t have enough reason to be ashamed to call you my brother!" Tony yells from the door, staring Luis down before looking at me and offering me a reassuring smile, before returning his glare to Luis.

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