Chapter 9

***Warning this chapter contains graphic violence. Reader discretion is advised***


    Later that morning, when Leila returned home, she was surprised to see Calvin loading suitcases into his car. "Was he finally leaving her?" She suddenly thought to herself, eyeing him suspiciously.


    "Hey, Leila-- aren't you usually out walking the dogs at this time?"


     "Where are you headed, Calvin? Why didn't you tell me you would be traveling?"


     "Because I don't have to tell you anything!"


     "Oh... But I have to tell you about every damn step I take?


     "Who are you talking to, Leila?"


      "I'm talking to you, Calvin! I'm sick of this shit! You're probably off to see that whore you've been fooling around with!" Leila shouted. 

    Grabbing her forcibly by the arm, Calvin pulled her into the house. When she turned to walk away from him, he grabbed her hair roughly. "Don't you ever get loud with me again! Do you hear me? He shouted. 

     "Yes, Calvin! I'm sorry-- Please let me go!" She cried in pain.

    When Calvin finally let go of her, he swung her around to face him. 

     "Don't you ever question me about what I'm doing, where I'm going, or who I'm fucking!"

     "So you admit it? I knew you were cheating on me when I saw you at the club a few weeks ago... asshole!"

    Gritting his teeth hard, Calvin smacked Leila with the back of his hand, causing her to stumble backward. 

    "I'll see you when I get back." He spoke coldly, as he hurriedly left the house."

   Placing her hand to her cheek, she began to cry. Just a few hours prior, it was the same cheek that Michael had so lovingly caressed. As tears stung her swollen cheek, she quickly realized what Michael had been trying to convey to her earlier. 

    [Ding-Ding] the doorbell rang, snapping her out of her thoughts. Thinking Calvin returned for something he'd forgotten; she opened the door without checking to see who it was. 

      "Leila! What in the hell? Why is your cheek swollen?" Zina hollered. 

     "Well! You were right! He finally hit me. Are you happy now?" Leila retorted. 

     "Of course, I'm not happy about this... But I warned you, Leila. Where is Calvin?"

      "I don't know; he was packing suitcases in his car when I came home. I got angry, and I told him that I knew he was fooling around."

    Looking at Leila in astonishment, Zina went into the kitchen for some ice. She was happy that Leila finally stood up to her jerk of a husband but now feared for her friend's safety. 

    Returning from the kitchen, Zina placed the ice pack she made in Leila's hand. "Here, hold this to your cheek. It'll take the swelling down."


    "Thank-you."


    "Hey! Why don't you come and stay with me for a little while?"


     "That's very kind of you, Zina-- I appreciate your offer, but I can't. And besides... I don't want to intrude on you and your boyfriend."


     "Why not? And trust me-- It's completely fine, Leila! You wouldn't be intruding at all."


     "Zina... Please stop! I know you mean well, but I don't want to stay with you, OK?"


Seeing that Leila was getting upset, Zina backed off. She knew how Leila liked having her own space--- there was just no use in fighting with her over the topic. 

    Grabbing Zina by the hand, Leila apologized for screaming at her. Her face was still throbbing, and she couldn't think straight. 

    After Zina left Leila's house later that night, Leila suddenly remembered to call Michael. She didn't want to call him with it being so late, but she also needed to hear his voice. 

    Before her argument with Calvin, the only thing that she could focus on was Michael and how tender he was with her. 

    When Leila picked up the phone to call him, she realized it was 11:30 pm. "God-- I hope he isn't asleep." She thought to herself, shaking her leg nervously. 

    "Hi, Leila... I was just about to call you." He chuckled. 

    "I'm sorry, Michael, time got away from me. If it's too late, I can call you back tommo--"

     Cutting her off mid-sentence, Michael chuckled again. "You better not, I've been sitting by this phone all night."

    "Well, you could have just called me on your own."

     "Could have... But I didn't want to pressure you. How are you? Is your husband around? I don't want you getting into any trouble because of me."

    Touching her cheek lightly, Leila went silent as she remembered the evil look in Calvin's eye's when he back palmed her across the face. 

    "Leila... You still there. Is something wrong?"

    "Um-- no. Everything is OK, Michael." She lied. 

    Being a natural empath, He immediately knew something was up with her. 

     "Leila, sweetheart... What's wrong? I can hear it in your voice. Something happened, didn't it?"

    Pressing the back of her head against the couch, she sighed and thought: [Damn it! How does he know that something is wrong?]


    "Yes-- um. Things aren't going so well between Cavin and I. Not that they were, to begin with, but... You know what? I'm sorry, I called to speak with you, not to discuss him. And besides, it was my fault. I should have known not to--"


     "Not to what, Leila?"


     "Not to question Calvin. When I came home, he was loading suitcases into his car. I asked him where he was going and told him that I knew he was cheating on me. I bet you can guess what happened next."


     "No, I can't Leila, but based upon what I know about him, answer me this one question-- Did he put his hands on you again?"


    Covering her face with one hand, Leila began to sob silently. "Y-yes, he did. I'm so sorry, Michael-- I only wanted to hear your voice, not talk about all of this."

    As Michael's chest began to tighten, a tear escaped his eye at the thought of Leila hurting. 

     "Please come over to my place tonight. You shouldn't be alone. I'll send my bodyguard Wayne to pick you up if you don't mind? It's late, and I want you to arrive here safely."


    "Thank you, Michael... As tempting as that sounds... Maybe it's not a good idea."


    "Leila look, I know how you feel about everything. I promise-- I won't try anything with you. I just want to comfort you as a friend. Please..."


    "Promise?"


    "I promise Leila. Be ready within an hour."


After giving Michael her address, Leila packed a small overnight bag. She couldn't believe what she was doing, but at the same time, she wanted to be with Michael. 

    When Wayne pulled up to Leila's home, she was already outside waiting for him. As she approached the car, Wayne greeted her politely. "Hello Ms. James, how are you doing this evening?"

    Holding his hand out for her bag, Leila smiled sadly. "I could be better, but thanks for asking." 

    As Leila sat in the back of Michael's SUV, She gazed out of the window, letting the fresh night air hit her face. 

    In the back of her mind, she felt as though she should feel bad about spending the night with Michael, but she didn't. If Calvin could so openly cheat on her with another woman, then why should she feel guilty about spending time with a friend?

    Once she arrived at Michael's condo, Wayne walked her to the front door and wished them both a good night.

    When Michael caught a glimpse of her swollen and bruised cheek, he gasped in disbelief. "Leila! Did Calvin do this to you?" 

    Folding her arms across her chest, she turned her head to the side. "Guess I should have warned you, huh? God, I feel so ugly."

      Stepping closer to Leila, he hugged her tenderly. "No baby, you're still beautiful. But you never mentioned where he hit you. Not that it matters where-- he shouldn't have hit you at all!"

    Wrapping her arms around him, she began to cry.


    "Oh, Leila, It's OK, baby. Let it all out."


    "I've only ever tried to be good to him, and this is the treatment I get? What did I do that was so wrong?"


     "Nothing, baby, nothing at all. But unfortunately... some men are lower than scum."


     "Why are you so nice to me, Michael?"


     "What type of question is that? Why wouldn't I be nice to you?"


     "I mean-- I don't know. I just feel like all men are assholes... Except for you."


    "Not all men Leila... But sadly, your husband just so happens to be a ruthless bastard." He emphasized. 

    

Once Leila calmed down a bit, Michael showed her to the guestroom and told her to make herself feel at home. He was happy that she decided to come over but knew she would return home soon. 

    The reality of the situation was that he was afraid for her. He wished she would leave her husband, not for him but for her safety. 

   While Leila was getting settled, Michael went into the kitchen to make her a cup of tea. Besides lending a listening ear and being a good friend, there wasn't much he could do until she decided what she wanted to do about her situation. 

    [Knock-Knock] "Are you decent?" He called out before opening the door. "Yes, Michael, I'm decent!" She laughed. 

      "I made you some tea. I hope you like chamomile," he smiled. "Be careful; it's hot."

      "Thanks for the warning. Mmm, this is good!" She replied after taking a sip. 

      "I'm glad you like it. I bought it when I visited Japan a few months ago."

    Feeling as though he needed some fresh air, he extended his hand towards Leila but then pointed at her bare-feet. "Would you mind taking a walk with me? I have something I wanna show ya. But you should put on some slippers first. "

    "No, I don't mind... Just give me a second."

As Leila bent over to put her slippers on, her nightshirt hiked up her thigh. "Mmm..." He groaned low with desire.   

    "Did you say something?" Leila asked when she heard the sound he made. 

    "No-no, I was just clearing my throat." He laughed nervously. 

    Michael knew that now was not the correct time to be lusting after Leila. But he also couldn't just shut off his attraction to her. 

Shaking his head quickly to clear his thoughts, he led her outside into his private garden. 

    Once outside, Leila sighed in aww. "This is beautiful."

    "Thank you, and I'm glad you think so. I love coming out here since I'm not able to--." He choked up mid-sentence. "I'm sorry, Leila."

    "What's wrong, Michael?" She stroked his back gently. 

    "I haven't been able to go back to 'Neverland' since the death of my wife and baby. It's where they passed away at. This garden reminds me of one that I have on my ranch." 

     Not knowing what to say, Leila took his hand in hers. She wanted to provide him with the same comfort he had given her, but she was rendered speechless at what he just shared with her. 

     Breaking the silence between them, Michael sat down on a reclining chair, asking Leila to join him. 

    Once they were both seated, he placed a blanket over them. 

      "It's kinda chilly out. Do you wanna go back inside?"

    "No, Michael, do you?

    "No-- despite it being a little cool, it feels nice out here."

Pulling Leila into his arms, he placed a tender kiss on her forehead. "Are you feeling better?"

    "A little. Thanks for not letting me be alone tonight. Or well-- my friend Zina also invited me over to her place as well, but I declined.

   "No problem... And I'm glad you told her no." He chuckled lightly. 

    As they sat in silence, Michael played with Leila's curls. When he heard her snoring softly, he giggled to himself. "God, I must be boring. She keeps falling asleep every time we're together."

    Standing up with Leila in his arms, he carried her to the guest room. After placing her down on the bed, he felt a small tug on his shirt as he started to walk away. 

    "Don't go." She whispered. "Please stay."

    Easing into the bed with her, he gathered her in his arms. "Get some rest, sweetheart-- I'm not going anywhere."


--------------------------------------------------------------


Author's note: I know this story is fictional, but it also deals with some very real-life situations. On a personal note, my mom was a victim of Domestic violence, but Thank God she got out of the relationship. 

If you or someone you know is a victim of Domestic Abuse and seeking help, please visit: 

https://www.thehotline.org

Domestic Abuse Defined ⬇

https://www.thehotline.org/is-this-abuse/abuse-defined/

@ Copyright 2018-2021 Midnight August Moon