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14. In that moment

Sally held a clinging and warm gaze to Leonore. Her eyes were weighted very much with igniting passion. The feeling was new to her, so foreign that it brought her a tingling sensation to run down her spine, like there had been an ice cube slid in the back of her shirt - sliding through her epidermis, thus creating her hair follicles swell like small rounded islands with stiffened hairs rooted on top, feeling the unprecedented frost and chills; and as to how a quick delighted orgasm is described. All that was, in a nicely wrapped package, settled solely when her eyes rested for an intimate and passionate gaze on Leonore.

She was feeling the same weight as Sally had. Perhaps, hers was way more explicit and undeniably liberating. Leonore knew, yet she had long accepted the truth that she had this attraction for women way greater than men. This thing that she had long locked up in a trunk, chained deep in her unconsciousness, just for the sake to conform with society's norms - that it's wrong and a sin to be attracted to people of your same-sex. She knew that time will come that the thing will unlock itself and come out in a swarm of wildness yet heartfelt liberty. And she also knew that the first time she laid her eyes on Sally de Vega, the wife of the town mayor, she felt the chains had loosened up.

"Mrs. de Vega I'm glad you came. Have a seat."

Leonore acted as if she had just stood up from her seat when in fact she had been standing the whole time watching over the door of her apartment to see if her guest of honor is near. And just the right time, Sally passed by her wooden framed window with translucent glass cover decorated with pastel pink roller blinds. There is also a small and rounded porcelain pot (with a minimalist acrylic design of a sunset at the center) of an Echeveria plant placed on the shelf, which caught the attention of Sally. She turned to the direction of the window to have a look at the cute plant, and thus she saw Leonore adjacent to her, standing caught off guard, looking at her with an awkward smile on her face. She plastered a rather delighted smile and walked over to the door.

She knocked thrice, and in a split second, the door opened.

Leonore emerged wearing a black sleeveless shirt that hugged her body fit and tight, and loose denim jeans that are tucked by a belt on her waist. Her short hair, wavy and unkempt, was tucked in a half tie. She looked fine since this is her normal get up. Yet Sally perceived it as ragged and very far from her way of clothing. However, something about it tickles her admiration, such as charm and charisma enveloping every inch of Leonore.

"Hi."

Leonore raised her hand in a hesitant wave.

"Hi. You looked good, Leonore."

Leonore shyly smiled back in response.

"You too, ever classy and formal."

She complimented back at Sally.

Sally was wearing a dirty white tube top dress with length just on her knees. She paired it with a crocheted black blazer. Her hair as usual was perfectly rounded in a bun. Sally is really a lady in the making, a portrait every other woman would fancy imitate. But for Leonore, there is more to Sally than just her fancy facade. For her, the lady was exquisite, a beauty well proportioned outwardly and inwardly. She knew her vulnerable side. Though she hasn't admitted it yet, the rumors were true and refined. Sally was a battered wife of the town mayor Jose Manuel, and Leonore resented this. 

"Have a seat my lady. I apologize if my home is kind of a mess and more of a commoner's abode."

Sally turned to Leonore explicit with her direct disagreement.

"Hey, I admire your home, Leonore. It is very welcoming, and it's not messy. If I had more time I would like to come back more often."

Leonore's face brightened.

"That would be an honor and a delight for me. I would expect that."

Sally was amused by the latter phrase uttered by Leonore.

"No... Please don't expect it. I don't have all the time in the world. I have charities to attend to, and my husband... He restricts me."

Leonore's face suddenly wrinkled into a gloom. She didn't like what she just heard. The word husband irritates her.

"To think of that you're not a child anymore to keep a close watch over."

She replied hastily. Thus making Sally stare at her silently completely stunned. Leonore realized she had made the atmosphere awkward.

"I... I don't mean that. I'm sorry I have said such complete nonsense."

Sally sharply exhaled, and her eyes were suddenly clouded with melancholy.

"Yes. I am being treated like a child. No absolute freedom. Without the charity works Leonore, I'm a total plain housewife. Just waiting for Jose Manuel to tell me what to do. Just spending time in the house, not feeling it a home."

Leonore felt a throb in her heart. She sympathizes with everything that Sally just said. She confirmed her hypothesis affirmative, that behind Sally de Vega's sparkling image is her lonely soul waiting to be unraveled by someone who would completely understand and accept her, rather than merely appreciate her because of her royal aura and splendid possessions.

"By the way, Leonore... I must say, you must wake up."

Sally out of the blue said. Leonore remarked with a confused expression.

"Why? What do you mean? I am awake, Sally."

Sally shook her head.

"No, you aren't. You aren't supposed to be in here. What were you thinking?"

"I don't know what you are talking about Sally!"

Leonore was growing frustrated.

"Hush now darling... Unravel the place, take charge of the scene, doesn't all this seemed already familiar to you?"

Leonore scanned the room and the scene that she's having lunch with Sally at her own apartment. And slowly, an uninvited feeling crept into her consciousness.

It was... a memory. A well cherished and protected memory, tucked in between the moment she was with Sally.

A sudden hint! Of what she perceived as reality yet greased dirty with falsehood.

"Yes... Yes, this already happened before. I have already been here."

Leonore gasped for breath. She looked at Sally with eyes pleading for a more concrete answer to feeding the confusion now building up within her.

Sally nodded slowly and smiled a rather foreign curve of her lips. Her eyes narrowed and her head in a slight bow.

"So what are you waiting for? Live life now, Alexandra."

Leonore's eyes widened in shock.

Her vision suddenly dimmed with prevailing darkness. It was not until she completely lost track of her awareness, that hoarse and barely audible words stayed still in her ears.

"Be back... I'll be waiting for you at this moment."

There was stillness. Like a placid lake, you would want to have a sit upon by the trees just to spend the fine afternoon appreciating it's calm and breathtaking scenery.

"Alex... Alexandra. Alex..."

Only to find out that some saltwater crocodile is lurking beneath the surface water.

A great interference, like this lady in daring clothing as such a black turtle neck crop top exposing her flat yet wrinkled belly which she paired with tight black jeans. She wore makeup that flashes up her beauty into a counterclockwise effect, turning back time into her youthful days, making her look young and sassy.

"Oh my god, Alex you're awake!"

Leonore snapped back when her full attention was called by this woman standing adjacent to her.

"You're awake I can't believe it!"

Leonore wasn't sure how long had she been awake. She did not even feel her eyes blinked. Like she hereby assumed that she only looked conscious because her eyes were open but the truth is it's just now she has grabbed complete awareness of the situation.

She tried so hard to retain the fragments of the things that she could remember as to what had happened to her. But she was left hanging and paralyzed to carry out a piece of conclusion.

Only the voice, that came from Sally. She felt like crying all of a sudden for the thought of her.

Sally de Vega makes her vulnerable, and that she was certain of.

"So what exactly happened to you, Alex? You know what? I have no clue until I got a call from the hospital. After that, I never got to stop freaking out! Like you were gone missing for two weeks, and you would abruptly come back like this, in this state? What exactly did you do and where have you been in those two weeks you were gone?"

Leonore was baffled looking through the woman ranting fast and roughly spoken words as if she were in a rap battle.

She tried to grasp a little comprehension of what the woman was discussing to her, yet she couldn't absorb the details of everything that she has delineated.

All of it appeared too shallow for her, like the oil when mixed with water; it would not just sink in, because the details were not meant for her. It was meant for Alexandra, the owner of the body.

No matter what deep or critical thinking she would do, none of it would make sense to her, because the details were all foreign to the new consciousness of the body, which was of Leonore.

"I... I can't re-remember what I did. I can't remember a thing."

She struggled to deliver her reply. She is not certain what to reply, either. She swore to have a stern hold and control of her choice of words - whether it would mean her obligation to reply or just a freewill share of ideas, like what she would normally do, as Leonore. 

But no. She's living the life of someone else's body. So she is just justified to feel daunted not to mess up. One wrong word may already be suspicious about her true identity.

There are a lot of thoughts troubling her mind.

First, she needs to construct enough room for new pieces of information about Alexandra, she needs to learn quickly her way of life, her personality, and the way she speaks (as the most important because Leonore have high regard for speaking since it is her favorite thing to do.)

She is now very determined to disguise herself as Alexandra.

Second, she had been feeling unsettled and troubled the moment she woke up from her trance. It was clear to her from her memory that there was a stab at the back of her neck. A screwdriver was plunged deep through her nape. But what is very concerning is that there were no scars, nor was there any lump, at least, just to convince herself that the wound had already healed. But there wasn't any. Just plain and smooth skin on her nape, so sheer and thin like there had been no traces of being penetrated by the pointed metal shaft of a screwdriver.

Yes.

That's it.

Her last draw of the card is to find that screwdriver. That way, she could pull the strings together of her loosened mind to believe that there wasn't any mystifying horror that occurred to her. She was certain that she was conscious at that time when she found out about the wound. And a wound like that couldn't be healed easily. Perhaps if she had been in a deep stupor for what, a couple of months? There would be a huge possibility that the wound already is healed.

But no.

Leonore was certain. She will prove herself certain.

"What do you mean you can't remember a thing? How about me do you know me? How about your name do you know who you are?"

The woman is a very fast-paced talker, yet she had an articulate accent in every word she spills in her mouth. Like she had been trained by a blabbermouth to become a raconteur.

By her physique, she looked very young but there were scarcely visible traces of skin degeneration on her skin. There were also wrinkles which are lined sparse on her forehead, as she is raising both her eyebrows which are thin-haired already yet masterly penciled black to look thick. Leonore assumed that the woman is around 45 years old. Too early for old age, already on the brim of adulthood, yet just the right time to commence the phase of middle age.

Leonore noticed that the woman had an edge sense and style for fashion. She dresses like those tv personalities. Her face is also touched with the sorcery of makeup. But judging by what she actually looked like, bare with the make-up and all fancy clothing, the woman was beautiful. She had like Spanish blood running through her veins.

"Y-yes, my name's Alexandra. But I can't seem to remember who you are...for now."

Leonore painted an awkward expression on her face. She can feel her lip stammering.

The lady's jaw dropped.

"Oh my god... Alex. Should I let the doctors know about this? Or not because you might be extended here for further examinations and we have not enough money to pay the hospital bills! And sure thing is that I have high hopes that you'll be fine for the next few days. By the way, my name is Connie, short for Concordia."

She made a face upon uttering her real name. 

"I really hate my name because it does sounds like an old matron which I ain't, for certain. And, oh most importantly, your complete name is Alexandra Dorias. Alright? I call you Alex for short."

Leonore nodded right away. She took a good note of that new information.

"We live together. But not as couples as you may think okay?"

Connie broke a boisterous laugh.

"I'm your guardian, sweetheart."

She smiled and it seemed to Leonore that she was already comforted. The lady was not new to her. She might have known her before, but she couldn't recall nor pinpoint exactly the details about her out from her shredded memory.

"You are examining my face, Alex. You poor little thing. I know it must be hard for you to process things right now, but trust me it'll be all worthwhile regaining the missing information about yourself, and before you knew it, you're living the life again, as you are."

Leonore was struck by the last three words. 'As you are' means a slap of the truth and reality to her. She isn't Alexandra, but she's claiming the body.

Leonore felt conscientious. 

'For the poor soul of Alexandra, may she rest in peace. Rest assured I'll make good use of my stay here on earth in her body.'

She prayed in silence.

"Alex, I will excuse myself for a moment alright? I'll just make a call from my client tonight. I will probably cancel my appointment at Bai Hotel."

"What will you be doing at Bai Hotel?"

Connie looked at Leonore with such an evident surprise and amusement in her eyes.

"Oh my god, I can't believe I'll be introducing this to you again. But, it's fine you are excused since you have an impairment of your brain as of the moment and you are still under the healing process. So yeah, I still can't believe this will be the second time I will introduce to you the nature of my job."

Leonore confusingly stared at the lady trying so hard to let her words sink in, yet it appeared to her that some of her words had a desensitizing effect on her, making it less comprehensive.

Or was it just her who is benumbed from accumulating and understanding reality?

"Alex... You should know, that the nature of my job, and your job, is being a high-class prostitute."

Leonore couldn't help but drop her jaw in slow motion with huge disbelief.

"E-excuse me? Do you mean my job as well?"

Connie nodded and while beaming, with squinted eyes, an excited smile. Leonore remained wide-eyed and mouth quite open.

"Now if you'll excuse me love because I have a call to make. I am supposed to have an appointment with Mr. Rodriguez tonight but sadly you are in a vulnerable state and you are more important to me sweetheart. So I will cancel Mr. Rodriguez and prioritize you more Lil sis. Alright? I'll be back in a minute."

She motioned her hand in a wait up gesture and dialed a number on her phone using her free hand. There was a slightly audible ringing sound. When the ringing ceased, Connie threw a quick glance at Alex and pouted her lips into a smooch. She mouthed the words 'Be Back' before she exited her way out of the ward.

Be back...

"I'll be back in that moment, love."

Was all Leonore could whisper as she lets out silent tears of longingness.

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