Authors: Eve Rabi
Tags: #Romance, #Contemporary
‘Kill him Diablo, Christa urges as she circles Austin like a lion eyeing a deer.
Diablo looks at me and we enter into a staring contest.
In desperation, I do something I never thought I would ever do - I reach out and touch Diablo’s hand. ‘You don’t always have to do what your mother tells you to do,’ I say in my softest voice. ‘How can I respect you if you don’t think for yourself, mmm? If you’re gonna be my man, you have to think for yourself, cos that’s what I like.’
He stares at my hand on his for a moment, then says, ‘
Corte le suelta
‘Diablo no!’ Christa snarls.
Troy is already hacking at Austin’s ropes.
Weak with relief, I give Diablo a genuine smile. Why does he want me so badly? Okay, so he’s a thug and a killer and a bastard and he fucks his sister – but he still wants me.
Superfluous, discarded Payton, whose own father couldn’t love her enough to care. It’s confusing but I have to admit, it’s salve for my ego. I’m feeling … powerful. I challenge any women in my position not to.
‘Thank you,’ I finally say and walk back to my bloodied knight whose heroics almost got us both killed. My handsome knight with no armour. Tall, broad shoulders, beautiful smile, beautiful eyes, kind and gentle. Perfect. All my girlfriends thought he was gorgeous. Compared to Austin, Diablo looks like an a grizzly bear.
‘What’s he saying?’ Austin asks, jerking his head in Diablo’s direction.
‘Forget it Austin. He’s not going for that. We need to get you home.’
I mutter my thanks at Troy and lead Austin to my villa, but Diablo grabs my arm and jerks me back.
‘What?’ I ask. Please don’t tell me he’s changed his mind.
He says nothing but the look in his eyes – well, I get the message. ‘Fine, I won’t take him to my room.’ I look at Austin. ‘Come Austin,’ I say and lead him aside to sit on a chair. ‘Austin, look, what you did today – it’s like, awesome. I mean, it makes me feel good to know you care so much. But ...’ I shake my head.
He lifts and drops his shoulders and my heart gushes with love for him.
Finally, under the vigilant eye of Diablo, we hug briefly and Austin leaves Tana-Mera.
Only when Austin drives off does Diablo leave the courtyard.
As I watch the tail lights of his car disappear, I promise myself that I will never cry in front of my family again or let them know how bad things are in my life. I have to suffer in silence. And oh, I make a mental note to destroy the letter I wrote to Austin.
I hear a soft knock at my door. I open it to see my entire family standing there.
My father, Elaine, Paris and Austin hurry into my room and quickly shut the door.
‘What happened?’ My father whispers. ‘Why we here?’
‘Nothing,’ I say, sneaking a glance at Austin. ‘How did you guy …?’
‘Your driver just rocked up and demanded we come with him,’ Paris says. ‘Hey this place is cool.’
‘My driver did what?’ What the hell is Diablo up to? Why did he send for them? From what I know of Diablo, he’s too arrogant to have a hidden agenda – unlike Christa who’s artfully underhanded. It’s unheard of for anyone to visit the ranch other than fellow drug dealers and crooked business people. What if he’s planning something sinister for the whole lot of us?
A knock on the door and we all jump. But it’s just Rosa with drinks and snacks for everyone.
‘Eh, guys, say hello to my good friend, Rosa.’
My father and Austin shake hands with her, while Elaine and Paris ignore her.
‘Snacks - how nice,’ Elaine says, helping herself to a pastry. ‘Leave the tray over there.’
No “Please” and no “Thank you”. That’s how she treats everyone – like they’re all her servants. Rosa doesn’t seem to notice, thank God.
I drag Rosa aside. ‘Rosa, what’s going on? Why are they here?’
She shrugs. ‘You say you miss you family, you say is hard for them, for you, so Diablo, he bring them here. Maybe he don’t want you to miss them. Maybe he don’t want you to be out of his sight, eh? Maybe …’ She drops her voice, ‘maybe, he worry about Him.’ She jerks her head towards Austin and wriggles her eyebrows at me, a knowing smile on her cherubic face. ‘Eh, Senorita?’ Her nose becomes shiny and bulbous.
‘Payton!’ Paris screeches.
‘I said: this place is awesome. Modern. Loads more comfortable than our shack. Why you fussing so much?
trade with you.’
‘Yes, but the devil wants
, not you,’ Elaine mocks as she peers out my window. ‘My God! You conveniently forgot to tell us about the beautiful views you have.’
Elaine would be so much happier if I was living in the hovel she imagined.
My father walks over to Elaine, puts his arm around her waist and looks outside the window. I don’t ever remember him holding me like that. I only got one-arm hugs, followed by a pat on the back. But he always hugged and touched her differently – like she was precious to him, like he loved her.
Will I ever be held and cherished like that by any man?
Maybe it has something to do with the fact that she looks so young and hip. Today, she’s clad in white, skinny jeans and silver platforms. (Very Spice Girls to Paris’s embarrassment.) Her blouse is low cut, tight fitting; her jacket is white and cropped. A silver choker adorns her neck and she has about seven or eight silver bracelets jiggling around her slim wrists. She looks great.
Yeah, I admit - I’m jealous of her, jealous of the way my father loves her. She doesn’t deserve it, the bitch. She treats him like crap.
As for Paris - she mirrors Elaine’s dressing – skinny, white jeans, white top, short, cropped jacket. But she’s wearing satin pumps and simple jewellery. People often mistook them for sisters and Elaine couldn’t get enough of that mistake. I always felt like the odd one out especially since I dressed so different from them – tomboyish – blue jeans and whatever top that didn’t need ironing.
But even though Elaine looks great, I wouldn’t be happy if my mother wears the same clothes I’m wearing. It’s sorta freaky, creepy.
As for my father – he really could do with a makeover - his tweed jacket, suede, brown loafers and gabardine pants – so 1968. He looks sixty five when he’s only fifty two. Elaine is always nagging him to be more hip.
‘How you doing, Payton?’ Austin whispers, the moment Paris turns her back.
He’s sporting a black eye and a band aid on his forehead.
‘Cut yourself while shaving?’ I whisper back, pointing to his band aid.
He flashes me a sheepish smile.
‘Austin had a little accident,’ Paris says, opening my closet.
How the hell did she hear what we’re saying? I guess when it comes to Austin and me, Paris misses nothing.
‘Wow! Are these yours?’ She jerks her head to look at me, her eyes flashing with greed. ‘They can’t be yours. Did he buy them for you? Does he give you money? Does he? Austin never gives me money. I have to beg for it.’
‘What accident?’ I ask.
‘Man these are so ... so sexy.’ Paris yanks off one of my sweaters and slips it over her top. ‘I’m keeping this,’ she says, twirling around in the mirror. ‘Fucking sexy!’
‘Now Paris,’ Elaine chides. ‘We do not talk like that, dear. It does not mean because you are here, you have to speak like
. Paid a lot of money for your private school education, remember?’
All I can do is flash Rosa an apologetic look.
When Rosa rolls her eyes, her whole head lifts.
I turn to Austin. ‘What accident?’
He points to the band aid on his forehead.
I smile wryly. ‘You okay?’
He nods and mumbles something inaudible.
I pick up Liam and cuddle him. ‘You’re so gorgeous.’
To my delight he gurgles at me.
‘Ohmigod! he gurgled at me. Did you see th ...?’
Suddenly the music blares and the place comes alive, as it does every evening.
Paris rushes to the window and gasps. ‘Ohmigod they’re having a party! This place is soooo cool. Oooh! I love it!’ She spins around and places her hands on both my shoulders. ‘Please, ask him to let us live here. Tell him …tell him you need your sister and …and he must allow Austin and me to live here. We’ll be so nice, we’ll support you ...’
‘Don’t be ridiculous!’ Austin snaps. ‘This is not Vegas. You’ve a goddamn baby. Act like a mother.’
‘Aww shaddup!’ Paris says. ‘You’re such a fucking killjoy!’
‘And you’re such a ... ’
‘Hey, hey!’ I cry. ‘Knock it off you two.’ I look at Paris. ‘You don’t wanna live here, trust me.’
She jerks her hands away. ‘You’re lying. You just don’t wanna share. What you scared off? Huh? He’ll want me and your ass will be history? Huh?’
I moan and hang my head. ‘Paris, you’re so fucked up.’
‘Yeah!’ Austin hisses.
Paris spins around to look at him. ‘Fuck you, you boring dick! Don’t know why I even married your broke ass.’
‘Ditto and ditto,’ he says.
Broke ass? Austin? Anyway, I’m stunned to hear them talk like this to each other.
‘Guys!’ I cry, putting my hand over Liam’s ears. ‘I don’t know what the hell’s going on, but knock it off, okay?
‘What going on? I’ll tell you. Something called “bankruptcy” that’s what’s going on,’ Paris says, her voice dripping with scorn.
‘Aww Paris!’ Austin says. ‘You’re such a bitch. You just can’t keep your trap shut, can you? Have to publicly degrade me.’
They glare at each other.
‘Bankruptcy?’ That’s …that’s terrible,’ I say. I don’t know what bankruptcy
means but I’m guessing it bad.
‘Come, let me show you the kitchen. There are knives of all sizes you might find handy,’ I mutter under my breath.
I open my room door and look into Diablo’s face. He’s sitting directly across my room. He looks at me with Liam in my arms and raises his eyebrows as if he is surprised at the picture of me with a baby. I smile, embarrassed and shy.
He looks really pleased at my smile and gives me the briefest of smiles.
first smile at
Well, he is responsible for my current happiness, so I guess I should thank him.
‘Thank you,’ I mouth and quickly avert my eyes.
He nods then suddenly stiffens.
Confused, I turn around and look at Austin, whose hand is on my shoulder. Quickly, I grab Paris’s arm and yank her towards the kitchen and everyone follows.
‘You two need marriage counseling,’ I say.
‘You telling me,’ my father murmurs. ‘They do this all they ... ouch!’
Elaine’s poke in the ribs shuts him up.
All the time? Wow. I had no idea they were having marital troubles. Although I must admit, I feel a deep thrill knowing they are not living happily after. After all, she did steal the love of my life. But I look at the beautiful bundle in my arms and frown. It’s not good for him. Once again I kiss his cheek and wish he was all mine.
I would love to have a baby of my own - my very own human being. I would be the best mom ever and make sure my kids have both parents at all times.
We step into the kitchen. ‘Maria, Rosa, this is baby Liam I always talk about.’ I don’t bother introducing Maria to my family as I fear they will ignore her anyway.
Maria looks at Liam and clucks. ‘She is so beautiful, Senorita. She looks like her daddy.’
!’ Paris snaps.
?’ Austin sneers. ‘That how you refer to your
Paris glares at him. ‘Fuck off!’
‘Guys! Jeez, maybe it’s time you guys went back to LA,’ I say.
‘To what?’ Paris sneers. ‘Food stamps?’
‘I would like to see the fridge,’ Elaine says, trying to change the subject.
‘Yeah,’ Paris says. ‘Bet they keep cool stuff like human skulls and cat there.’
‘Why? You planning on eating that too?’ Austin mocks. ‘You have to stop sometimes, you know.’
Paris’s bottom lip quivers.
‘Austin!’ I chide. ‘What the fuck?’
‘She won’t stop eating,’ he grumbles. ‘Look at her – she’s put on so much ...’
I swing around to look at him. ‘Having your baby. Duh!’
He shrugs and walks away. I don’t know this side of Austin and I don’t like it. It’s ugly, mean.
I pat Paris on the back. ‘He doesn’t mean it.’
Elaine steps forwards and says, ‘It’s probably just nerves – the stress of things.’
‘Things? What things?’
‘Never mind, Payton,’ Elaine says, her voice dismissive. Loosely interpreted – ‘None of your business, Payton.’
Rosa walks up to Austin. ‘Are you okay, gringo?’
He nods and touches the bandaid, a sheepish look on his face.
‘That is very good, gringo,’ she says. ‘You from America, gringo?’
‘Do you know my cousin Syyyylvia.
live in America?’
I chuckle at the expression on gringo’s face and follow Elaine to the fridge.
‘There’s just food here,’ Elaine reports.
‘Really?’ Paris sounds even more disenchanted. ‘Cannibals? Bah! The villagers don’t know shit about these people.’
‘Language Paris,’ Elaine rebukes.
Hours pass before they leave. I walk them to the car and usher them off. Austin gives me a two-arm hug while Paris glares at him for giving me so much attention. I’ve never seen Paris insecure before and deep down, I’m thrilled to know
make her so insecure. I never thought it’s possible for anyone to make her feel insecure, let alone plain ol’ me.
It’s a relief to see them leave - can’t handle the bickering and tension between Austin and Paris anymore. Austin has changed and frankly, I’m disappointed that he can be so nasty to Paris. She’s his wife, mother of his child for Christ’s sakes!
The party at the ranch has died and the place is quiet.
Deep in thought, I trudge slowly back to my room. In the dark I spot the burning end of a cigarette. Diablo? As I get closer, I get a whiff of a familiar brand of tobacco - it’s him. I stop in front of him. He can see me, but I can barely see his face in the dark. I think about him rescuing me on the cliff, sparing Austin, arranging a home visit from my family and sparing me his nightly visits, and feel the need to say something.