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Malentendido: Misunderstood (Maldeamores #2)
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Whatever force made Lucky, either God or the Universe, wrapped him so tightly around my heart that sometimes I’m suffocating. Biologically, we are made of too many similar parts, yet our chemistry is like a meteor shower, raining bright sparks of light into the dark night. But it’s not our biology or chemistry that worries me the most, it’s the physics of our love that goes against the cosmos.
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I realize it’s been some time since most of you read Maldeamores (Lovesick) and I don’t expect you to remember all the characters, so here’s a little refresher course.
Belén Heredia—AKA: Bey, Len, Lenny, Beylenny, B. Belén is the heroine of the story. She’s Luciano’s cousin.
Luciano Cabrera—AKA: Lucky. Lucky is the hero of the story. He’s Belén’s cousin.
Betty Heredia—AKA: Mami, Tía Betty. Belén’s mother, Lucky’s Aunt, Awilda’s sister.
Awilda Cabrera—AKA: Titi, Tía Awilda, Ma. Lucky’s mother, Belén’s Aunt, Betty’s sister.
Jimena Heredia—AKA: Tía Hemi. Betty and Awilda’s sister. Lucky and Belén’s aunt, the black sheep of the family.
Yaritza—AKA: Yari. Belén’s best friend, Lucky’s on and off sexual partner.
Adam—The man Belén married after she lost Lucky. He lost his twin brother Luke while he was serving overseas.
Luke: Belén and Adam’s son.
Jeremy: Belén’s on and off high school boyfriend.
Luis: Belén’s father, Betty’s uncle.
Irma: Proprietress of the neighborhood botánica.
Antes = Before
Después = After
My arms shake and worm-like veins bulge huge with a greenish tint. I’m so fucking dizzy that I’m afraid I’ll vomit. It’s torture being strapped to this board. We only get to forty-five degrees and the world swims incomprehensibly. I can’t tell nausea from doom, or confusion from dementia.
“Take me down!” I yell at the young physical therapist. I try not to direct my anger towards her, but rehabilitation feels like real torture. I want to yell, “I don’t have what you want! I can’t give you what I don’t have!” Instead of information, what they want from me is determination, conviction, a strong will to live, but I don’t have those things anymore. Alls I’ve got are my memories. There’s no future for me if my head’s fucked, my back’s fucked—even my brain has been injured. Who’s gonna fucking want me if I can’t even sit up on my own? Spoonfed for three months and alls I wanna do is smash the tray of food around the room. I feel like a trapped zoo animal. A million people poking and prodding, discussing my body like it doesn’t even belong to me. Nurses my age changing my bedpan or worse, a diaper, because my lower body has decided not to cooperate with my head. I’d rather be dead than fight a battle I don’t care about winning.
“We have to get to forty-five degrees today. Just two minutes and I’ll lower you,” she says.
Forty-five degrees feels like a liter and a half of cheap-ass whiskey spins on my ma’s tiled bathroom floor. Forty-five degrees is as fucked up as heroin sickness when you can’t see straight, can’t take a shit, can’t imagine being alive another lousy minute. Sweat drips in my eyes and I have no functioning hands to wipe it away. I grit my teeth, lock my jaw and hold in every fucking thing I want to say.
“One more minute and you’re done,” she says, smiling.
I dry heave. She places a pink plastic basin in front of me. I’m going to kick it just from sitting up, and here I had imagined myself jogging through all the hallways of this hospital from day one.
I groan out loud and grind my teeth. Sweat pours down my face.
“It fucking hurts,” I yell. My arms are so weak that they can no longer support even the weight of my upper torso. So dizzy too, I’d swear off drugs and pussy for life if they’d just get me off of this nightmare carousel.
“Great job. That’s it for today. Next week, we’re going to get you to standing.”
Hooray. I don’t even have it in me to thank her. My head falls back against the padded board and I turn my face away. Forty-five degrees. Healing is slower than slow motion. A useless argument between my body and my mind. A stalemate because neither one of them cares anymore.
Instantaneous sleep after PT brings visions of home, and of course, Belén. Dreaming about her soothes me almost as much as it causes pain.
A loud crash in the middle of the night jolts me awake. I want to sit up; instead I lie there like easy bait, because it’s all I can do. But the noise turns out to be a sterile tray that a nurse taking vitals has knocked off of her cart. My heart jackhammers in my chest and I start to rain sweat. Everything sounds like gunfire or an explosion to me, only difference is that now I can’t run. I just lie here like an open target. I sweat, quiver, shake, feel my heart raging in my chest. Kill me already and get it the fuck over with it. I’m no use to anybody. I got a past but no future.
Sometimes I wonder if this is the punishment I get for ruining Belén. If that’s the case, so be it. Let it burn. Let it hurt. Throw me into the fire, let the flames burn my flesh and muscle, skin and hair. Char-broil Luciano. I deserve it and I don’t care. Purify me down to nothing but bones in sand. Fuck me up. Kill me. You ain’t even seen the worst of it. I don’t forgive myself so there’s nothing you can do to me.