Mari could tell right away that something wasn’t right.
And it wasn’t just in the way Humberto had pulled away from her so quickly after they’d finished. Or turned away from her, as though unable to meet her gaze. Or let out that slow, deep breath before asking “Mariana, can we talk?”
It was the way he’d touched her. The way he’d kissed her. The way he’d held her. Humberto was always so passionate in bed– that was one of the many things Mari loved so much about him. But tonight was different. Slow. Gentle. Romantic. Beautiful.
Because he knows that was the last time. Mari realized as a wave of nausea rushed through her stomach. He was saying goodbye. This is it. It’s over.
She took a slow breath to calm herself. You knew this was coming. She reminded herself. And you know why. So suck it up, Mari.
“Sure.” Mari replied at last, fighting to keep her voice steady. “What’s up?”
Humberto hesitated a moment before speaking. “These past couple of months have been incredible, Mariana.” He said seriously. “But… Before we continue this any further, I need you to promise me something.”
Mari simply stared at him as a million thoughts rushed through her mind. This was not quite the way she’d imagined this conversation going. What is he talking about? What does he want?
“Promise you what?” She said at last, her voice barely above a whisper.
“That you’ll stop all this.” He replied seriously. “And let me help you.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Mari shook her head. “Stop what?”
Humberto let out a soft sigh. “Stop trying to be something you’re not.” He began slowly. “Stop being so angry all the time. Stop blaming yourself for everything. Stop using sex to solve all your problems.”
Mari’s eyes widened. He knows about that?
“I know what you’ve been doing behind my back.” He confirmed, as though he could read her mind. As always, Humberto knew her all too well. “And it has to stop.”
Mari hesitated before replying. She wanted to apologize. She wanted to beg for his forgiveness. She wanted to promise that it would never happen again. But she simply couldn’t.
She’d already tried to change, couldn’t he see that? But she’d failed. She’d fucked up. Just like she always did. He knows I’m no good for him. He knows I can only bring him down. And now this is his chance to get away before I make it even worse. She realized. I’ve fucked everything up this far already. May as well go all the way.
“I don’t see why you’re so worried about it.” Mari smiled as she spoke, and kept her voice casual. “I can handle myself.”
“And yeah, I probably should have mentioned the other guys to you sooner.” She added quickly. “But it’s not like we’re actually dating or anything. So I didn’t think you’d really care if I… What?”
Humberto was not looking at her anymore. He had turned away as she spoke, his expression hardening with every word that reached his ears.
“Stop.” He said softly. “Please.”
Mari made a show of rolling her eyes as she tried to ignore the deep pain that cut through her heart. “Stop what? What is it now?!”
“Just stop pretending that you don’t care about anything!” Humberto practically snapped at her. “I love you, Mariana. And I want to help you. But you have to let me.”
For a moment, it was as though Mari’s heart had stopped beating. I love you, Mariana. He’d never said that to her before. The words replayed themselves again and again in her mind.
The four words she had been hoping and praying to hear him say every day.
The four words she knew would ruin everything.
“No, you don’t.” She replied stiffly. “You don’t know what you’re saying.”
“I do.” Humberto insisted, turning to face her at last. “And I know you love me too. So please, if you love me, you’ll listen to me. And you’ll try to get better.”
“Will you just STOP saying that?!” Mari shot back venomously. “You don’t love me! Just shut up! You’re ruining everything! What’s wrong with you?!”
Nothing. I’m the one who’s wrong. I’m the one who’s ruining everything.
“Please, just listen to yourself!” Humberto’s voice was a growl. “You’re sick. You’re hurting. You’re broken. I understand all that. And I’ve been trying so hard to help you pick up the pieces. I want to make things better for you. I want to make you whole again…” He shook his head. “But you need to meet me halfway on this, Mariana. I can’t help you if you won’t let me!”
“And who said I ever wanted help from YOU?! Can’t you just leave me alone and let me live my fucking life? You don’t own me, Humberto. You aren’t my boyfriend. You can’t say shit about what I do.” Mari was practically shrieking. “This is who I am. I can’t change it, and neither can you, so get used to it, okay?!”
She rose to her feet and turned away from him, blinking back her tears as best she could. I’m sorry. I love you…
It’s better this way.
“This isn’t who you are.” Humberto broke the silence through clenched teeth. “And we both know it.” He paused. “I still want to help you, Mariana. And I’ll do whatever I can for you.” The man paused for a moment, shaking his head slowly. “Because I love you.” The words twisted the knife deeper into Mari’s heart. “But I can’t go on like this. I can’t do this anymore.”
Good. This is how it has to be. I hope you can see that. I’m sorry.
With a deep shuddering breath, Mari finally turned to face him, a soft smile on her lips. “Do what anymore?” She asked gently. “You’re sitting there making this big ‘break up’ speech… Like we were actually together or something.”
Humberto said nothing as Mari retrieved her crumpled clothes from the floor and hastily pulled them back on. She cleared her throat uncomfortably before breaking the silence. “If you don’t wanna screw around anymore, I get it.” She didn’t even have the courage to turn and face him. “I was kinda getting bored anyway, weren’t you?”
“But thanks…” She headed for the stairs without looking back. “It… It was a good time.”
The best time of my life. So much better than I ever deserved.
Find someone who deserves you, Humberto.
Be happy. Be free. Be loved.
It’s too late for me.
Once again featuring the amazing Humberto from VirtuaLee’s Cursed Beauty !