Miguel is at an Arts & Crafts class at the local community centre for youth development, he usually spends the mornings of his week ends here, nurturing his passion for drawing and painting. He decides to make a painting for his friend Ahmet, to show him how much he appreciates their friendship.
The Arts room consists of other kids from the neighbourhood who are indulging themselves with several Arts & Crafts items papers, paint, color pencils, origami papers, cardboards etc. Before he met Ahmet, Miguel’s drawings and paintings were never about anything specific. But after Ahmet, he had started to draw and paint about the forests and snow fields in Iran, market places and bazaars in Turkey, the desert and sea ports in Dubai, life through Ahmet’s eyes. Just then Siddharth the gym instructor, who is also the teacher in charge of the Arts & crafts centre on weekends walks up beside Miguel.
“Miguel, your painting is amazing – I did not know you could draw and paint so well ”, he says with genuine admiration as he looks at Miguel’s painting. The painting on the canvas is that of a young man, dressed in brown kaki pants and a cream short sleeved shirt walking beside a camel.On the camel is an old man dressed in a white arab attire, complete with a cloth wrapped around his head in the way that middle eastern arabs wrap their arab turban-like cloths. In the back ground, the painting is set against an arabic bazaar , there are stalls with spices, ornaments, fruits placed on display. Women clad in black garments from head toe with only their eyes showing, are looking at the items on sale. There is an Indian man with beige harem pants, brown waist coat like garment on his dark brown bare thin chest and a large grey turban on his head, he is playing on a flute, serenading a cobra from a wooden basket. The cobra, seems to be slowly emerging out of the basket.
Siddharth continues to admire the details of the painting, in total awe of the intricate specifics of every part of the painting. “You know you should enter the local Art competition, im sure you would win,’’ he says to Miguel.
“You really think so coach?” says Miguel, excited at the prospect of winning a competition. Right then a voice from behind them says something that changes their moods completely. “Hey that guy walking beside the camel, kinda looks like that old man of a lover of yours, you guys still holding hands and taking romantic walks together?”
Siddharth and Miguel turn around to face Richard, his freckled face is even redder as he seems to be coming from playing basketball on the court and his green eyes are gleaming mischievously ,clearly happy with himself for the comment he has just made.
Siddharth looks at Miguel, “Is this true, Miguel? Who is this man? How do you know him?” he asks worryingly as Miguel begins to feel his face turn pale – he has no idea how to answer Siddharth’s questions.
Maria and Allegra are walking side by side, hoping to loosen the tension in the air between them Maria is talking to Allegra about work and her new friends. But she doesn’t get the reaction that she is hoping for, Allegra doesn’t say much – it is all yeses and no-s with several hmmms, oh really and stretched okays.
“The weather is quite nice, isn’t it?” says Maria.
“Yeah, I guess”, answers Allegra and shrugs her shoulders.
Maria is starting to get annoyed by Allegra’s responses, but she tries to not let it show on her face and decides that she won’t let Allegra’s short clearly disinterested answers get to her. She wonders if she opens up to Allegra about Dylan, maybe Allegra would open up to her about whatever or whoever this person is in her life, who is buying her these expensive gifts. She thinks about it and hesitates for a minute, what if her story of Dylan pushes Allegra further into the pursuit of the glamorous and flashy things that she seems to be hiding from her parents, who knows what she is doing to get what she is getting. The things Maria has seen certainly aren’t cheap ,therefore they surely didn’t come for free.
She is surprised when Allegra takes a turn in leading the conversation. “So what are some of the cases you are working on? Anything scandalous or juicy?” she looks at her sister, who is momentarily surprised at this sudden gesture of interest shown by her younger sister.
“What do you mean scandalous?”
“You know, like fraud, bribery, sex scandals,” she smiles as she imagines, fat rich men with sweaty palms getting all worked up over a scorned mistress.
She relays this image to her sister and the girls laugh at the picture painted in their minds.
“Well I haven’t gotten into the details of such heavy duty stuff just as yet, at the moment it’s the usual arbitration and litigations , more corporate stuff, you know, business agreements, sales contracts bla bla bla, stuff like that.”
“It must be a handful coz you look really tired these days,” says Allegra. She stops and looks at her sister before she continues to say “Mira Maria, I know that you mean well and that you care about me, but it’s enough that you have to worry about mom, you don’t need to do the same about me – I’m fine.”
“I have always told you to never eat that junk you get from street vendors”, a very annoyed Nicola is sorting out the laundry that has just arrived from the dry cleaners while she lectures a very sick Caroline.
“Lucky for you Dr. Stanford had agreed to come over” she adds. “Lucky for me or Lucky for you,” thinks Caroline to herself, as she rolls on to her back on her bed. Apparently it was food poisoning and Caroline had felt sick all day, hardly able to sit straight after that first time she had thrown up in the toilet. She had thrown up with such force that it made her feel dizzy and resulted in the fainting spell. For Caroline was quite a petite girl,barely reaching 5 feet in height and weighing somewhere between 40 to 45 kgs. Her only major assets were her boobs, 32DD and even though she was a pretty blue eyed blonde girl, her boobs were the only thing about her that caught a man’s attention. Every man except for Randy, she smiled as she thought of her boyfriend, the way he laughed, the way he touched her, but most importantly the way he made her feel.
She realized that he must be worried about her since she wasn’t able to contact him all day, she searched for her phone but she couldn’t find it. Usually it lay under her pillow, but she looked around the room and she couldn’t see it anywhere. “Have you by any chance seen my phone?” she calls out to Nicola from the bedroom.
Nicola comes to Caroline’s room and tells her that she hasn’t seen the phone anywhere. Caroline begins to worry, she desperately wanted to find her phone, so she could hear her lover’s voice, make sure he is all right and let him know that she had been ill. She finally remembers where the phone might be; she gets up from her bed and walks to her bathroom. On the sink right where she left it, is her black blackberry bold, it has run out of charge and sits there switched off. She picks it up and quickly walks back to her room to put it on her charger. After waiting five minutes, she quickly switches it on to find – nothing. Not even a single message or missed call from her Randy.
Caroline starts to worry; she fears that maybe Randy has gotten tired of all this sneaking around, especially if it ends up with him being slapped around by Nicola. He probably wants to be with someone who has the freedom to be with him, whenever and wherever he wants, not sneak into their employer’s premises on early mornings. She lets out a sigh and places the phone back on her dressing table; she sinks back on to her bed and lies under the cover.
She is about to fall asleep when she spots something in the full length mirror that faces her bed. She slowly gets up and looks closely; the reflection is that of a mobile phone under her bed. She bends over and picks it up, the phone is switched off. She knows this mobile, she has seen it before but where, and then it comes to her – its Randy’s mobile.
“So how was the dinner thing?” Maria is on the phone with Ashley, both girls are back at their parents’ house for the week end and each one is busy doing a chore this morning. Maria is ironing some clothes as she talks to her best friend on the telephone while Ashley is placing the groceries in their respective places in the fridge and in the kitchen cabinets.
“It was nice, this Carl dude isn’t that bad – I even got a chance to talk to that Heidi chick ”, answers Ashley,“ and let me tell you Maria, she has some of the nicest stuff ever!” exclaims Ashley.
“Its like – does she get them on some sort of instalment plan or something. I mean her handbag, her shoes, her watch and jewellery…even her make up” she continues to add. “She even got Carl this big Cartier bag and it had at least 3 boxes inside,” she finally concludes.
“What do you think she does other than being an HR assistant at the law firm?,” asks a curious Maria as she unplugs the iron and puts it away. “I have no idea but we’re having lunch together on Monday so…” says Ashley with a naughty tone in her voice.
Just then Maria turns around to see Alegra put on her shoes and walk out towards the door. “I gotta go ,” she quickly tells Ashley and hangs up on her friends face. Ashley looks down at her fone with a very confused expression, before tossing it on to the kitchen counter.
“Hi Alegra, where are you going?” asks Maria as she walks up to her sister.
“I was just going to go take a walk in the park,” she answers.
“Do you mind if I come with you?,” asks Maria as she looks at her youngest sister.
Alegra stares back at Maria; she knows the reason behind her older sister’s sudden interest in her and her activities. She fights the urge to snap at her and instead smiles back and says “Sure, it’s not like I’m going to meet someone or anything.” As Alegra’s lips turn into a sly smile, Maria’s smile turns into a smirk.
Juan arrives home and as he parks his truck near his building, he switches off the engine and reminisces about how his day had passed. He looks down at his wrist; it is now bandaged in a very neat white cotton bandage. He lifts it to his face and he can’t help but breathe in the smell, it is a sweet smell and as he closes his eyes, her face comes to mind.
As he basques in this memory, he is suddenly interrupted by a tap on his window, he is brought back from his thoughts to see his son’s face. He rolls down the window and looks quizzingly at Miguel.
“Qu’estas haciendo aqui Miguel? Is everything all right? Is your mother all right?” he says assuming the worst.
“Si, Si Papa, I was just taking out the trash,” answers Miguel. His father gets out of the car and walks over to his son; he hugs him and places a kiss on his soft hair.
“What are you doing home early , Papa?” asks Miguel, “shouldn’t you be at your shift at the concierge?” continues Miguel.
“Well Im glad to know that if I ever mess up and play hooky from work, there is someone keeping a tab on my schedule,” answers Juan with a chuckle.
Miguel is embarrassed, his cheeks turn red at the thought of him questioning his father for not being at work, rather than enjoying the fact that he is home to spend some time with his family.
They walk up the stairs to the entrance of the building together and in to the elevator, all the while Miguel is chatting to his father about what he has been learning lately at school.
As they enter the apartment Juan is pleased to see that all three of his daughters are at home for dinner. He kisses them all before he goes into his bedroom to change, tonight he does not have to be at the concierge, he has a day off and all he wants to do is have a nice meal with his family and a really good night’s sleep.
As he walks into the room, he finds Celia lying in bed, her thin body heaving up and down as she breathes. “How thin she has become over the years,” thinks Juan to himself.
As he watches her lay, he is taken back to their early days together in Aguadilla, how thick her thighs were , how round her protruding buttocks were and how deliciously full her breasts were. She was truly an attractive girl, every man wanted her, but for some reason she chose him.
He thinks of where this choice has led her, he wonders if it is this life that has driven her to the brink of suicide, did she really try to suicide, he frowns as this thought crosses his mind once again.
In the living room, Maria is sitting with Miguel listening to him read a book to her, while Sonya and Alegra are busy finishing up with cooking dinner.
Although she is busy listening to Miguel read, Maria is straining her ears to hear what Alegra and Sonya were discussing in the kitchen. Although the apartment was not that big and the kitchen was an open one, she still could not hear what the two girls were saying.
Were they whispering? Maria frowned at the thought that Sonya maybe covering up for Alegra. She remembered how she defended her at the hospital and how calm she has been whenever Maria asked her about Alegra. “Is Sonya in on it too?” she wonders to herself. Her thoughts trail off as she imagines both girls working for thugs, secretly selling drugs. Or is Sonya intimidated by Alegra? Sonya had always had a weak personality and it was easy for Alegra to overshadow and over power her, Hell Alegra could almost over power Maria herself.
“Maria, Maria,” Maria feels a repetitive nudge and she realizes it’s Miguel tearing her away from her gangster thoughts. “How do you pronounce this word?,” he asks her. She looks down at the sentence where her younger brother is pointing and she reads the word – incredulous.
Just then Alegra and Sonya call out for dinner, Maria and Miguel get up to go wash their hands before seating themselves at the table.
Sonya walks over to her parents’ room to get her parents; she knocks lightly at the door – no response. She slowly opens the door and is surprised to find her father standing at the foot of the bed, staring at her mother as she sleeps soundly.
“Daddy,” she whispers, “what are you doing?”. He turns around and she can see that his face is full of sadness and something else – was that anger she spotted on his face? “Is everything all right?” she continues to ask as she moves closer to him and places her arm around his shoulder.
“Nada mi hija, im fine, ” he lies and continues to tell her that he is just tired.
“Well dinner is ready, I was just coming to get you and Mama,” she says and she looks over at her mother, who is just starting to wake up.
Sonya walks over to her mother and helps her sit up, “ Mama, dinner is ready, do you feel you can have something to eat? ” she asks her mother tenderly. “No mija, I am still feeling a bit tired, I’ll have some later.”
“If you are feeling tired, then have some food, get some energy Celia, stop being so lifeless!,” snaps Juan, before he can realise how harsh his words sounded and how loud his voice was, his wife and his daughter are staring at him in disbelief.
Ashley arrives at the bar with Jane, and the girls immediately spot their friends and colleagues, a group of people seated at a large table at a corner. The group consists of six guys and six girls with Ashley and Jane bringing the female total to eight. Ashley is introduced to the birthday boy, a very tall, thin guy with olive skin, dark hair and glassy green eyes. She is not at all impressed by him based on his looks and now understands what Jane meant when she said he was not very smooth with the ladies, for when he pulled out his hand to shake Ashley’s, he spilt a little bit of the drink that was placed in his other hand.
“Oh Shit, sorry, didn’t meant to do that,” says Carl, his voice is thick and his words come out at a very slow – almost delayed pace.
Ashley looks down at the floor where the drink spilled, shifts aside and says “I’m sure you didn’t, but hey it’s your birthday – I’m sure you are allowed to do anything you want!” She smiles at him sweetly and Carl smiles back happily.
Carl and Ashley spend most of the evening sitting beside each other. Although he may not be the best looking guy in the room, Ashley admits to herself that he is quite sweet. Just then Heidi walks in to join the gathering, “Sorry I’m late Carl,” she kisses him on his cheek and sits down beside him on the other side.
“I had to finish up some work,” she continues, “I had also forgotten to get your gift, but here it is.” She hands him a large Cartier bag. Ashley looks over at Emily and Josh, who are exchanging looks.
The both of them look over at Ashley, as if to tell her that this Cartier bag is a confirmation to what they had been implying earlier. Carl receives the bag and gives Heidi a hug, “You shouldn’t have,” he says with excitement.
After a few drinks and lots of conversation, the group decides to head over to a nearby restaurant for dinner. Heidi excuses herself to the ladies room and Ashley quickly gets up to follow her, stating that she, too, needs to adjust her make up before they leave.
Once in the toilet, the girls start chatting about how sweet Carl is, Ashley watches as Heidi takes out a Chanel lipstick and reapplies the dark colour onto her plump lips.
“What color is that?” asks Ashley.
“It’s Chanel Rouge Allure velvet… limited edition,” answers Heidi with a smile. “Here, try it, ” she hands over the lipstick to Ashley. Ashley applies the lipstick carefully on to her lips, careful not to smudge or even drop it. By the looks of it, it does look expensive.
“I need to move into HR, if that’s the type of make-up I will be able to afford,” jokes Ashley, as Heidi empties her Gucci Clutch to search for a Dior Mascara and places it on the sink next to a Lancôme blush.
Heidi laughs, looks over at Ashley and is surprised to see how serious the expression on Ashley’s face is. “Well it’s not all through the pay I get at the law firm”, answers Heidi, “I’m actually a small time entrepreneur, ” she adds with a mysterious gleam in her eye.
Ashley is about to ask her what type of business she does, when she is interrupted by Emily who comes in to get the girls.
“You girls are in here forever,” she says, “most of the people from the group have already gone.” “You know us girls, when we start chatting about makeup, guys and shoes, there’s no coming back,” answers Ashley. The two girls finish up in the toilet and along with Emily walk out of the toilet to the exit of the bar, where they join Josh and three other friends, who are waiting for the girls, before they make their way over to the live grill restaurant a few meters away.
As the group makes their way to the restaurant, Ashley and Heidi get to chatting about the fashion items that they like and would love to own. Ashley is surprised at some of the stuff that Heidi mentions to her, she even shows her pictures of them on her smartphone.
Hermes bags, Gucci shoes, Chanel clutches, Cartier jewellery and all of them from the most recent collections of the Fashion houses.
Ashley knows this because she has spent hours looking at fashion magazines, drooling over the very same exquisite items.
Heidi is impressed with Ashley’s knowledge and interest in the things she has shown her. If she is as interested as she appears to be, Heidi might just be looking at an increase in her entrepreneurial scheme.
“I hope you don’t mind, I am sure you have lots of work to do,” says Anna to Juan as she sits on the passenger’s side of Juan’s tow truck.
She has an eastern European accent that is very apparent in her soft sweet voice.
“No problem senorita,” says Juan politely.
From the corner of his eyes, he takes in the beauty of this woman that sits beside him.
She was beautiful in the most simplest of ways, she had blonde cock screw curls, but he can tell from her roots that her hair was originally ginger.
She had small blue eyes and wore thick mascara, her face was round and she had freckles across her cheeks and nose.
As they stopped at a traffic light, he casually turned his face to look at her more clearly.
There was something about her, something that drew him in.
She was tall, about 5’8, she was not fat nor thin, just in between with large breasts , like her cheeks they had traces of freckles on them. Juan took all this in when he threw a quick glance towards her blouse. It was not his fault, for the first three buttons of the blouse were unbuttoned ,allowing for the top of her breasts to make an appearance, as they lay squeezed inside the white bra that barely contained them.
His gaze was distracted as he realized that Anna was saying something to him, his concentration slowly came back to focus.
“So you have been here long time?” she asks him a second time.
“Yes around twenty six years,” answers Juan half glad that she managed to tear him away from his thoughts of her body.
“And you?”, he asks her.
“I am new here, only one year,” she answers. Juan can tell that she would like to add something more, but is holding it back.
He is intrigued by this beautiful being, so beautiful but yet so sad.
Her eyes seem to have certain innocence to them, mixed with some despair and sadness.
“I’ll ask her about her home,” Juan thinks to himself. If there is anything that people like to talk about, its’ their home, Juan was certain of this.
“ So where are you from?”
“I was born in Moscow, my father was Russian and my mother is Ukrainian,” she responds and reverts back to the silence that she had maintained during most of the drive.
“Anna is a very common name isn’t it – very simple and pretty, quite universal,” says Juan as he senses that his question didn’t garner the result he had hoped.
He wanted her to open up to him, he wanted to help her.
“Actually my name is quite Russian, its really Anastasia Dormichikova.”
“I guess I will call you Anna Moss then Anna from Moscow,” says Juan and warmly smiles at her.
They reach the spot where Anna’s car has broken down; Juan is surprised to see a brand new Lexus IS. He didn’t expect a girl, fresh from Russia to have such a nice car.
As they pull up beside the car, Juan descends and quickly screens the car to see what the issue is. His eyes are immediately drawn to the slight smoke coming from the front of the car and he walks towards it and pops the hood.
He is quickly engulfed in more fumes and he brushes them away with his hand.
He coughs and says,” that’s a very nice car you have here.”
“Errr it’s the company’s car,” says Anna uneasily.
Juan is about to ask her what type of work she does, when he opens the door of the car to find a bag on the passenger’s seat.
The sports bag is open and slightly jutting out of it, are items that are more than enough to describe the type of work Anna does.
Anna quickly walks over to open the passenger’s side door and zips up the bag.
Slightly embarrassed, she hopes that Juan did not look into the contents of the bag as he leaned in to try and start the engine of the car.
Unfortunately the car makes a sad, disturbing sound as Juan turns the key in the ignition and then nothing.
“That don’t sound too good,” says Juan as his eyebrows come together to form a concerned look on his face.
He walks over to the front of the car and his head remains submerged as he rummages through the components in and around the engine.
Anna is standing beside the tow truck, when she suddenly hears a cry of pain.
She looks over to see Juan yelping in pain and ringing his right wrist like a fluttering butterfly.
“Hijo de puta!!” he exclaims as a very painful expression covers his face.
“Are you okay,” asks Anna and she quickly walks over to see what the cause of all this pain is.
She automatically places Juan’s wrist in both her hands as she looks at the place just below his palm where Juan has clearly burnt himself.
“I must have touched a metal part that was still hot,” says Juan , his expression still full of pain.
In fact his eyes are squinted, almost as if he cannot bear to look at the pain.
Anna leaves him to get something from the back of her car, she returns with a cloth, a bottle of icy water that had begun to melt and some ailment cream.
She quickly pours some water onto the cloth and she wraps it around the injured wrist.
She continuously applies pressure in a massaging motion on the wrist for 5 minutes before she removes it and begins to rub the cream on the wrist.
At first it burns, but Anna soothes Juan with soft whispers and the initial burning sensation is quickly replaced with relief.
Juan looks at her in amazement at how smooth she was at inflicting this remedy, how caring, how nurturing.
She looks up at him, and smiles, “I was studying to be a nurse….” her voice trails off.
Juan does not know whether to prompt her to continue or to respect the pause and take it as a sign that she was not comfortable saying anything more.
Miguel is walking with Ahmet, Ahmet is telling Miguel about how hot it was in Dubai during the summer and how he doubts that the people from there could ever survive the winters in the U.S
“The first winter I was here, I barely made it myself, I was ready to pack up and go home,” he laughs to himself as a picture of the younger him, shivering and his teeth chattering comes to mind.
He notices that his friend is quieter than usual; he puts his hand around his shoulder.
“Hey buddy, whats wrong?” he asks him.
“Nothing,” says Miguel without looking at Ahmet and he continues to walk.
Ahmet stops and turns to face him, there was something clearly wrong with Miguel.
“Come on , aren’t you my Dostom? Don’t we tell each other everything?”
“Didn’t I tell you about the time when i lost the money my step father gave me and I took a bad beating, when I actually used the money to buy sweets and I lied to him.”
“Whatever it is Miguel I won’t judge you,” he could tell that whatever was upsetting him was an embarrassing subject and he was very reluctant to tell him about it.
“Its really nothing,” says Miguel once again but Ahmet knows that it is more that just nothing, he can sense it.
“Okay Buddy, that’s fine, but know that you can always tell me anything and I will wait until you are ready.”
Miguel wondered what Ahmet really meant when he said he would wait until Miguel was ready, ready to tell him what was upsetting him or ready for something else.
They continue to walk until they reach near Miguel’s building, then Ahmet walks away towards his restaurant.
As Miguel watches him walk away, he thinks of the first time when Ahmet showed him affection by putting his arms around him that day at their picnic.
Ever since then Ahmet has been very affectionate with Miguel touching him when making a joke, consoling him when he was upset about something, rubbing him when he thought he was cold.
Although it felt a bit strange at first, as the days passed, Miguel actually began to like the way it felt when Ahmet touched him.
“What the hell were you doing in my room?” Sonya is finishing up lunch in the kitchen when she hears loud voices shouting in the bedroom.
She quickly runs to see if her mother’s bedroom door is closed as her mother was taking a short nap before lunch.
After making sure of this, she walks towards the direction of the noise to find Maria and Alegra yelling at each other in Alegra’s room.
“What going on in here?” she says amazed to see Alegra’s face all red with anger and Maria’s equally enraged face.
“Mom is resting and you guys are being very very loud,” she tells them.
“Maria has been snooping around my room,” says Alegra
“I have every right to, I am your older sister and I’ve been noticing some very strange things about you lately, where’s the Bergdorf Goodman bag that you hid under your bed,” accuses Maria.
“First of all, No, you don’t have any right to snoop in my room, even Mom and Dad have never snooped around in here and second,” continues Alegra, “What Bergdorf Goodman bag?”
“Fine if you want to deny it, then what about the Tiffany bracelet on your wrist from the other day,” asks Maria.
“What are you doing Alegrita? How are you getting this money? These things? is it drugs? Are you selling drugs for the dealers now? ” asks Maria, now with a more concerned expression covering her face.
“Drugs? What type of person do you think I am?, ” shouts out Alegra with outrage.
“Girls, what’s going on,”
All three girls turn around to see their feable mother standing in the hallway, Maria quickly walks over to her mother and holds her by her arms to steady her.
“You really shouldn’t be walking around mama,” she says to her,
” Come, let’s sit down.”
She ushers her into the living room, where she seats her onto the sofa.
“ Come help me set the table,” says Sonya and she leads Alegra away to the kitchen.
Miguel walks into the apartment and he can quickly tell by the expression on every one’s face that some thing unpleasant had just passed.
He walks over to his mother and sister, hugs and kisses both of them before he disappears into his room to change his clothes.
“I know you are not like that Alegra, pero con todos las cosas que pasan in our neighbourhood, I understand Maria’s concern,” whispers Sonya to Alegra as they set the plates on the table.
“Well she should ask me with concern not accusation. You saw her she was literally accusing me of being a drug mule,” says Alegra, still annoyed by the whole situation.
Did Maria look inside the bag, did she see the Herve ledger dress and the Tiffany bracelet box?
“It’s crazy, coz she seems to be very nosy,”
Alegra is sitting in Salvatore’s SUV, the windows are tinted and they are parked a few blocks away from the school.
As Alegra tells Salvatore about what happened with Maria the other day, he gently caresses her cheeks and face as he listens to her.
How soft she feels, he thinks to himself.
“Salvatore, Salvatore, are you listening to me?’’
He snaps out of his thoughts, looks ate her and smiles, “of course I am listening princess.”
He places a warm kiss on her cheek, she giggles as little when he slowly brings his lips away from her cheek and places his hands around her waist and pulls her closer.
She puts her arms around his neck and proceeds to gently brush her lips over his, from the left to the right. His breath begins to quicken as her warm breath inhales and exhales on his lips.
She switches her position from beside him to on to him, her arms still around his neck and her eyes never leaving his, he begins to kiss her, slowly at first, then gently inserting his tongue to massage her tongue as the kiss grows more passionate.
While his tongue is massaging her tongue, both his arms are massaging her ample ass and her hands are massaging the hair on the back of his head.
He slowly moves his hands from rubbing her ass onto grabbing her hips, she moves her lips from his lips on to the side of his neck and she continues to kiss him softly.
She can feel his bulge underneath her, between her legs ,right next to her clitoris, it feels good, then Salvatore does something to make it feel even better, she gently lifts her by the hips and lowers her allowing her clitoris to graze his bulge, she moans as he repeats this a few more times .
As her moisture in her private parts increases, so does the size of Salvatore’s bulge.
This sexual atmosphere is interrupted by Salvatore’s mobile, which begins to ring.
Alegra opens her eyes slowly looking down at Salvatore, pleading wither her eyes for him to finish what he started.
Salvatore looks at his phone, then he looks at it again, the expression on his face changes and he gently moves Alegra from above him to beside him.
He answers the fone, “Yes”
His eyes become small as he concentrates on what the person on the other end is saying.
Alegra rubs his thigh as she looks out through the tinted windows, when she sees a very strange sight.
Her brother Miguel walking side by side an unknown middle aged man, as if walking beside a strange man was not enough, the man had his arm around Miguel’s shoulder.
Caroline woke up in her bed with a very dizzy feeling, she looks around to find that she is alone, but in the distance she can hear Nicola’s high pitched voice.
She is conversing with someone, a man, that voice, it sounds so familiar she thinks to herself, but she can’t quite put a name to it, although she has heard it hundreds of times before.
Before she can ponder her head anymore on who the voice belonged to, she heard Nicola say.
“Thank you very much Dr. Stanford,I will make sure that she is well rested.”
“Ofcourse ,” Caroline thinks to herself, “its Dr. Stanford, that would explain the strong aroma of fresh coffee and flowers in the apartment.”
Nicola had a massive crush on the doctor, which resulted in numerous unnecessary visits, under the false pretenses of several diverse ailments.
It has also resulted in large sums of money donated to Doctor Standford’s charity foundation by Nicola.
For a moment, she forgot all about her fainting spell earlier as she recollected the numerous times she had been dragged to a gala or a ball by Doctor Stanford.
She is quickly reminded of it when she hears the doctor congratulate Nicola once again.
“what is he congratulating her for?” she asks herself confused.
Then a horrible thought springs to mind, in fact it was a thought that had been plaguing her mind for the past few days now. It all began that one day when Randy was over while Nicola was away at a relative’s wedding at the Hamptons. Caroline had made up the excuse that she was too tired to go and that she had a lot of work to do, this could not have been further from the truth.
She had finished all her work; she was in charge of running and maintaining Nicola’s online fashion boutique and her diary as well as coordinating for the boutique in New Jersey.
She had invited Randy to spend the afternoon with her, she had planned a lunch followed by a movie, but what she got was more than just a lunch and a movie, she got to be ” The Lunch ” and to star in her very own movie.
Maria is sitting at her desk, typing the proposal to a contract while filling in her friend Ashley on how her mother is doing.
” I didn’t get a chance to see what was in the bag,” she whispers to Ashley.
“Why not?” asks Ashley as she bites down on a green apple?
“Well as I was about to go get it dad startled me,” he said he was about to go off to work and that he would drop me .It’s strange it seems like he really wanted to spend some time with me.”
Her father didn’t even give her a chance to snoop into that bag; he stood at the entrance of Alegra’s room and waited for Maria to come out.
“What are you doing in here, anyways,” he asked her.
Maria didn’t want to worry him with her suspicions of Alegra, so she didn’t say anything.
“I was looking for a book, I had lent her,” Maria had lied.
Ashley looks at her friend with concern, “ what do you think is going on ?” she asks.
“I don’t know but I know its not good.”
Just then Maria comes across an email from the receptionist as she casually scrolls through her less important e mails.
From Jane Simmons
Sent 24 Nov 2011 20:45
To Maria Santiago
Subject:- Naomi Richards called for you
A lady called Naomi Richards called for you last night, when you left to go to the hospital.
She did not want to leave a message or a telephone number; she said she would call back later.
Receptionist and Admin Assistant
Wilson, Smith & Jensons law firm.
Maria picks up the phone and quickly dials 0.
“Hey Jane, its Maria, just saw your email , this lady…umm Naomi, she didn’t say where she was calling from?”
“Yea she was a bit shady, she didn’t even want to leave her name at first, but from the looks of it, the number that came up on the caller ID was from somewhere nearby,” says Jane , as she looks down at her hands and continues to file her long nails.
Just then the Office Manager walks by and shoots Jane a disapproving look; she quickly switches the telephone from off her shoulder on to its place on the desk and activates the headset.
She places the headset on her head and continues to say, “Anywhos tonight some of the girls from the office are going to that trendy bar across the street for some drinks, do you and Ashley wanna come with?”
Before Maria can answer, she continues to say ,”A friend of mine is having birthday drinks and he said to invite some friends, he’s not very smooth with the ladies so..” she finally stops.
“I’d love to, but I got so much work to catch up on and I’ve got to go check up on my mom too,”
Although it was true that she did want to check up on her mother, she also wanted to use the opportunity to find out more about what Alegra was up to.
“But I’m sure Ashley can make it,” she says loudly as she looks over at Ashley, who gestures and mouths the word What.
“Ok Cool, I’ll give her a buzz when we’re about to leave,” she says excitedly and the girls hang up.
Ahsley receives an email from Jane, telling her when and where they will be going; she also includes the names of the Girls who would be joining them.
Ashley scrolls down the short list of girl’s name, when she spots the name of a girl she has been desperately trying to see.
Juan Carlos is at the garage, already starting on changing the tires of a black ford mustang, his friend Pablo is standing nearby watching his friend.
He noticed that ever since Juan came back from the clinic that time when he had cut his finger, he hasn’t really been the same.
It looks like he aged a whole decade, the lines around his eyes have grown deeper and wrinkles have been constantly forming on his forehead.
“Como estas mi amigo?” he asks Juan, “la casa, la familia, tu santé ?” he continues.
Juan takes a break from the tire he is working on, he rubs the dirt of his hands on to his garage overalls then wipes the sweat off his forehead.
“Para decir te la verdad, Pablo, I really don’t know,” he answers him and Pablo senses a sadness in his friend’s voice.
“I don’t know what to think of it, when Dr. Stanford said I should keep an eye on Celia, I just thought that he meant that she shouldn’t be exhausting herself with heavy housework,” he pauses for a moment before he continues, “but then I realized that every time I come back from work that house doesn’t look like some one has exhausted themselves in cleaning it.”
“and then yesterday the thing with the pills, what if it wasn’t an allergic reaction…what if it was an overdose…worse still….what if it was an attempt at something else”, Juan Carlos stops, he can’t bring himself to say it.
Pablo is looking at his friend with compassion in his eyes, he puts a hand on Juan Carlos’ shoulder as Juan rubs his eyes with the thumb and index finger of his right hand.
“I feel so helpless, almost numb, I work two jobs so im very rarely at home unless it is to sleep and I have no idea what is going on in my family’s lives, not my wife, nor my daughters, nor my son, neither one of them,” he breaks down and starts to sob.
“I have always hoped I would be able to spend time with them, take my son to play ball at the park, go grocery shopping with Sonya to spend some time to get to know her, help Alegra with her homework, have a meal with Maria to hear about her work and most importantly be there for Celia in her times of pain, just to hold her.”
“Now Now Juan, don’t be so hard on yourself,” says Pablo, ” you moved them from a place where they had no future, to a place where their future is so bright and the possibilities are endless.”
“Maria is a lawyer, Miguel and Alegra are getting an education and they will be able to pursue any career they want in the future, Celia has a home and a family, your mother and siblings are well, you take care of them by sending them money every month and you always have breakfast with your family every morning.”
Juan smiles at the happy picture his friend has just painted for him, it’s true that he has done so much to improve his family’s lives; he just wishes he could do more.
Just then, a taxi stops at the entrance of the garage, a beautiful tall woman with curly blonde hair and blue eyes steps out of the car.
Sonya is lying in bed besides her mother, caressing her mother’s hair as she tells her about the book store, the people that come through, the people she works with and for a moment she hesitates whether to tell her mother about Brandon, just then she realizes she hasn’t heard from him all day.
“Would you like me to make you a cup of coffee mama?” she asks her mother, only to realize that she has already slept.
She kisses her forehead gently, covers her with the sheet and slowly steps off the bed and out of the room. She gently closes the door behind her and walks into the living room, she sits on the couch and looks around the room.
She remembers what it had looked like just yesterday, such a strange mess. She takes her mobile out of her jeans back pocket and is disappointed that there isn’t a single missed call or text message from Brandon.
Since last night when she left him to go to the hospital and now it is the afternoon.
She dials his number and waits to hear the smooth sound of his voice on the other end.
Unfortunately this does not happen and she is left with a strange feeling in the pit of her stomach.
She goes to the kitchen to fix herself a sandwich and a cup of tea, then she sits on the couch to watch her TV, her mind can’t concentrate much as in the back of her mind, she is wondering about Brandon.
She decides to try his number one more time, only to find it going straight to voice mail.
Not believing this, as Brandon never has his phone off or on voice mail, she immediately tries him again, but it is true, just a few minutes ago it was ringing without an answer and now it is going straight to voicemail.
“Where is he?” she says.
“Where is who mija?”
Sonya looks up to find her mother standing at the entrance to the living room.
“Why do you look so upset Sonya? And who is it that you are looking for?” she asks again.
Maria is standing over the nurses’ station, signing the discharge papers for her mother to be released from the hospital. Her father rolls Celia in a wheel chair and he stops her beside Maria, “I’ll go bring the car Maria, then you can roll her to the exit, so we can put her into the back”.
Maria nods and watches as her father walks off towards the exit, she looks down at her mother, who looks quite pale.
She notices that her mother is deep in thought; an expression of sadness is painted on her face.
She bends down to her and places her hand on her mother’s right shoulder, “don’t worry Mama, you’re going to be all right, it’s over”.
In the back of her mind, a small but strong thought kept nudging at Maria, “what if it was not over.”
Juan Carlos pulls up outside their building; he walks around the front of the car to the back of the passenger’s seat where Maria is already helping Celia step out of the vehicle.
Celia is still a bit wobbly as she holds on to her eldest daughter’s shoulder.
As she steps out, she looks up at their building; the grey building has worn out over the years.
Neighbours have come and gone, but the Santiagos have always been here. Always hoping that one day Juan Carlos’ dream will come true and they would be able to afford a beautiful house to live in comfortably, to have parties at, to have people over in and for their grandchildren to visit them in.
She thinks back to that day a little over 24 years ago when Juan Carlos had sent for Celia.
Shortly after they had gotten married in Aguadilla, Juan Carlos had made his way to America, in search of a better future for his bride and their future children. Once successful in securing a steady income, he had sent for his wife. Celia had never been out of Puerto Rico, but she rode that ferry along with several other hopefuls, waiting to start a new life in America. She was scared but excited, sad but happy – she can still remember saying goodbye to her family, how much her sisters and her mother cried as they hugged her goodbye.
All of them had one thought in their mind, will they ever see each other again.
She remembers descending off the ferry, passing the check points, all the while frantically searching for her Juan Carlos.
Then there he was, he looked thinner than when he had left Aguadilla, his eyes stopped searching when he saw her and the run towards each other was sealed with a tight embrace.
That day he took her out for lunch, showed her the city and finally brought her home.
In fact, she was standing at this very place, looking at this building the very same way she was doing right now.
Back then, it was cleaner, it looked more polished and just like the Santiagos, it was new to the neighbourhood.
Her trip to the past is interrupted by Maria, ushering her into the building, while Juan brings her bag of essentials, Maria’s handbag and the bag of medications that the doctor had prescribed to her for any stomach ache that followed because of the pumping.
Sonya opens the door as soon as she hears the voices of her sister, her mother and her father in the corridor near the lobby, like many latinos they always spoke so loudly and vibrantly.
She hugs and kisses her mother’s forehead, then takes the baggage from her father while Maria settles her mother into one of the sofas in the living room.
Sonya brings in some hot tea with biscuits and sets it on the coffee table, offering a cup to her mother, then her father and finally pours a cup for Maria.
“How come you are not at work mija,” Celia asks Sonya.
“I wanted to be here when you came back,” says Sonya, sitting beside her mother on the sofa, her head on her shoulder while she rubs her hand lovingly.
After making sure that her mother was all right and that she didn’t need anything from Maria, Maria gets up and excuses herself to go to work, but before she leaves, she decides to make a stop at Alegra’s room , something was going on with Alegra and Maria intended to find out what it was exactly.
She enters the room and looks around in the small but tidy bedroom, she begins her search in the drawer beside her bed. On the drawer, a night lamp, a couple of gossip magazines, half a packet of gum.
Inside the drawers she finds her undergarments, a few tank and halter tops, socks, mittens. She closes the drawers and heads for the closet, she opens it to find short skirts and dresses, hanging from hangers in the closet, she shakes her head at the lengths of most of the dresses and skirts.
At the bottom, there are shoes and handbags lined up, along with Cds and some books.
She looks at the books with a bit of a surprise, they were not school text books, they were intellectual reads, she never took Alegra as the type to read anything but magazines.
She closes the cabinet and is about to leave the room, when she notices a shiny shopping bag jutting out the bottom of Alegra’s bed.