April 17, 2023 11:30AM
"Love in Motion," affectionate, benevolent concern or care for others (Wiktionary).

Friday was impossibly long, and yet not long enough. She had offered to go into the office, since she'd only worked three days that week, but Enrique refused. "Holidays are not to be made up later. Besides, I'll be leaving early anyway." He smiled mysteriously as he gathered up his bag to leave. "There's an appointment I don't want to be late for this evening." He lightly kissed her on the cheek in farewell before heading out to his car.

When Elena found out what this appointment was, she squealed in delight and threw her arms around Catalina. "It's about time!" she yelped. "Where are you going?"

"Um, I don't know actually," Catalina admitted shyly. "He said it was going to be a surprise."

"No wonder he was so cheeky last night over dinner, even more than usual."

"You don't mind, do you?" Catalina asked as they took advantage of a break in the clouds to enjoy some time outside. "I mean, leaving you here by yourself? You could come along too."

Elena wheeled around, her expression warring between surprise and mock horror. "That is so sweet, but no. What sort of friend would I be if I crashed your date?"

Catalina ducked her head, face flushing and heart racing for what felt like the 50th time since the previous afternoon. "Oh, but, it's just dinner, he didn't call it a date," she murmured, not quite believing the words herself.

Laughter drew her attention back to Elena, who tilted her head with a suggestive smirk. "Right, it's just dinner. And after all, it's only my brother, nothing special about him at all. You'll probably be so bored."

They left off the conversation as the sun hid behind a cloud bank, hurrying to get back inside before the looming rain broke. When Catalina brought up Floricienta, Elena lit up with a different glow altogether, and eagerly pulled out a collection of old CDs and memorabilia from one of her closets. "I know we got the DVD, it should be somewhere," she said, holding up some pictures as she searched through a box. "These were taken when we went to the concert."

One photo showed Elena decked out in a pink sweater, puffy black skirt, and hightop blue tennis shoes, her hair much longer and curly. Sr. Tilve was clearly recognizable, standing behind her wheelchair; a younger Fernando stood to the side, his cocky smile trained at the camera. But it was the fourth member of the family who drew her eye: Enrique wore a halo and angel wings over a gray hoodie with a blue number hand-painted on it, posing with a tennis racket in one hand and a leg in neon pink pants balanced on the edge of a wheel.

Elena snorted when Catalina held it up. "He said he wanted to go as every single Fritzenwalden sibling: we actually dyed those pants that color. Sometimes Enrique was such a dork!" She didn't sound upset by the idea, and smiled with fond memories as she fingered the picture. "He's always been willing to do anything with me," she murmured wistfully.

It was a lovely sentiment, and Catalina felt her heart warmed all over again. They spent the rest of the morning listening to the concert soundtrack and looking through some of Elena's old magazines and picture albums. Catalina felt she ought to at least glance at the information Enrique had so helpfully sent yesterday, and sat for a full thirty minutes at Elena's computer to check the links. After lunch, though, the minutes began ticking by at an alarmingly swift pace. At two Elena could no longer stand to even sketch. "What are you going to wear?" she asked breathlessly, and when Catalina admitted she wasn't sure, they both raced to her closet with equal anticipation. Elena was the perfect companion for selecting an outfit: offering suggestions but also willing to listen to Catalina's preferences. "Now this one looks very nice," she said, pulling out a dress from the back.

"But, no, I don't think so," Catalina quickly stammered.

"Why not? It looks barely worn, I'll bet it’d look great! You have just the right coloring."

"I have worn it, once; Tía Lola bought it for me the first week we came to Mar del Plata."

"Then you should definitely try it on again, only maybe we can break it up with something, like a necklace or belt. I might have something that would work."

"It's only...." Catalina trailed off before admitting, "I wore it when Enrique came over the first time, for Tío Ruy's therapy session." Even if she had never met him again, that memory would have been forever stamped in her brain.

For a minute she was worried Elena would then insist she had to wear it, because of the symbolism or fate or something equally outlandish. But the girl shrugged and laid the dress on the bed with some other things they'd gone through. "Probably not then, although it does look pretty. And we should save something for later," she added mischievously.

They settled on a dressy casual ensemble, a pale green sundress whose skirt fanned out full and loose from the waist, coupled with a crocheted quarter-sleeve orange cardigan she'd had for years and always felt comfortable in. Catalina decided to go without much jewelry but was perfectly happy for Elena to choose the perfect small earrings to complete her look. "I'm sure you'll know what to do with your hair, you always do it so well," Elena said after putting away the studs they'd reviewed, casually complimenting a skill Catalina had taken years to achieve any proficiency in, and so earning an effusive hug without trying.

"Oh no, I need to get in the shower!" she realized, looking at the time and suddenly aware of how little there was of it to both wash and dry said hair.

"Don't worry, he's not going to leave without you. I won't let him!" Elena wheeled out happily humming some of the songs they'd listened to earlier.

Catalina quickly set to shampooing and rinsing, then drying and brushing, not letting herself think too hard about what was to come. It was just dinner, she kept telling herself, despite the memory of so many season climaxes pulling at her heart. He was so kind and sensitive, and friends went to dinner all the time. They'd even had lunch before, without Elena, so it wasn't like this outing would be their first. She wouldn't be stupid again, wouldn't let even Floricienta lure her into seeing more than was there. Although it was hard to discount all the flirtatious banter and soulful looks shared recently.

Setting her brush down, she caught sight of Tía Lola's brooch shining up from the little dish on the dresser. Catalina plucked it up and threaded it through her barrette, hoping some of the dear lady's encouragement and love would help her stay poised for the evening.

She only had one purse, so there was no need to think too hard about that part of her look, and she slipped on her best flats before turning to look in the full mirror of the closet. Unlike when Isabel dressed her, and Catalina barely recognized the face staring back, she now felt presentable but entirely herself. It was a combination of old and new, her past and present mixing in a way that gave her just the right sense of accomplishment. Even without being the prettiest girl at the ball Catalina felt pleased with the way she looked. She allowed herself a touch of lipstick before leaving her room.

Voices carried down the hall as she approached the front of the house, Elena's girlish laughter mixing with Enrique's baritone. When Catalina stepped into the living room she saw he was seated on a sofa facing away from the door, one arm stretched over the back, his other hand holding onto a shoe propped up on his left knee, in the middle of some story about Sra. Costa's cats. He wore pressed tan slacks that looked tailor-made for his figure, a low-cut charcoal vest hugging his eggshell dress shirt in a perfect fit. Elena noticed her first and came over at once. "Smile!" she announced, holding her camera up and snapping. After taking pictures both natural and posed for maximum dramatic effect, Elena backed up and ordered, "Now together, please, I already got Enrique, even if he cheesed it up too much."

"No such thing," he grinned, standing and reaching an arm casually around Catalina as she came near him, both turning toward Elena's eager lens. He let her get several pictures, then looked with great deliberation at his phone. "Will the fashion shoot take much longer? We have a reservation to make."

"You should turn that thing off," Elena advised as she put her camera away. "Better yet, give it to me."

"Nice try: the last time I let you take my phone, it took the better part of a day to get it back." He leaned down and kissed her on both cheeks. "I would tell you not to stay up too late, but as that would involve your plotting ridiculous amounts of teasing back, I will valiantly resist the temptation."

"See that you do." She smiled at her brother fondly, then wheeled over to hug Catalina. "Have a good time!" she called, waving to them as they left through the front door.

Instead of the vehicle she had ridden in so often, a sleek silver Ferrari waited for them, and Enrique opened the door with a flourish. "My car, while dependable and very good for fuel, is hardly fairy tale coach material. I trust this pumpkin meets with your approval?"

"Of course!" she gasped, sinking into the plush leather with surprise.

Enrique walked around to the driver's seat, tossing the keys up and catching them before slipping into his seat and cranking the engine. A few hairs fell across his brow, and he pushed them back with the hint of an irritated frown. Then he grinned sheepishly, putting the car in drive with a shake of the head that only loosed them again. "You'll have to forgive the coachmen, he's not used to escorting princesses around."

"Well, actually," Catalina answered with a smile of her own, "Floricienta would need to marry a prince before she could claim that title."

He laughed, and even though he'd appeared extremely confident the whole time, seemed to relax: his grip on the wheel not so tight, his expression more natural and less contrived. "Then we should do just fine; no royalty here tonight!"

They pulled onto the main road away from the villa, winding through the trees as the sun began descending. Enrique pulled his sunglasses on as they headed southwest; he encouraged her to switch the radio to whatever station she wanted, and they drove with only the music surrounding them for a while.

"Where are we going?" Catalina asked, not half so interested in the scenery as she'd been on making the journey a mere three weeks earlier. It felt longer, as if she'd been at the ranch for months.

"Unfortunately, there are very few options for dining around Aldea Norteña, although I hope you didn't think we were going to sit at that poor excuse for a cafe next to the grocer's, where they only serve weak tea and biscuits." He glanced at her over his sunglasses. "Contrary to how it may appear, tonight is not meant to be slapstick comedy."

Her heart settled down as he spoke to her in the same friendly tone that had become so endearing. "But where else is there to go?"

"I would say out of town, but that would imply we had actually left when in fact, we never went in today. Quite a logical paradox." They were much farther down the road now, who knew how many kilometers from the ranch, and showed no signs of approaching their destination. He started to say something else with a teasing smile, then cleared his throat for no apparent reason. "The lake comes to a point around the next bend. It's not a real beach, just enough of a shore for people to get their toes wet and pretend. Half the year it's mostly boarded up, when the summer crowd leaves, except the hotel and spa. There's also a tavern that caters to some of the lake houses when everything cools down."

"Sounds great." She looked out the window, trying to peer through the thick trees. "Does your family go often?"

"No; Papá hates it, thinks the whole place is foreign tourist trash messing up the lakefront. Especially since they pay taxes to the neighboring jurisdiction and don't support anything on our side." He drummed his thumbs on the steering wheel in time to a shift in the radio's music, shaking his head ruefully.

"Oh." Catalina's nerves bunched again. "Should we maybe go somewhere else then?"

"General Tilve doesn't get to command every little thing to his liking, no matter how much he'd like to. And since he's dropped enough hints about making sure you don't grow bored, I can safely say he would be ecstatic to learn where we're headed." Taking the curve in the road with smooth precision, Enrique slowed as they came up to a lighted clearing. "Now, let's leave him off at the racetrack and nowhere bothering us."

It was easy to follow his advice as they drove down narrow pebbly streets through a veritable carnival. There were all kinds of people walking, cycling, or even skateboarding around. Various little shops, more like fair booths, lined the way, selling sherbets or drinks and kitsch of every kind. Rough strings of lights and temporary signs crisscrossed above, while lamps out on a dock showed kayaks and paddle boats for rental. Then they turned onto a larger asphalt path, driving into a wide oval parking lot with three buildings circling the perimeter. The modest hotel only rose to two stories, with a wooden deck built out onto the water. Nearer the road was a thin, long structure that almost looked to be made of glass, its tall windows sheltered by high wooden overhangs that jutted up from the flat roof. In between, as described, was a squat building of white brick. People waited in line to enter on a tight sidewalk that ran from one side of the circular drive to the other.

Enrique drove past multiple parking places to stop in front of the entrance. He left it idling to come around to the passenger side, passing a few pesos to a waiting valet as he opened Catalina's door and helped her out. "Reservation for Tilve," he said very smartly while escorting her past all those waiting people, just like on television!

Despite all her recent experiences, this one felt the most surreal as they stepped into a packed room with round wooden tables clumped haphazardly around, each rattan chair taken with groups dressed in everything from formal suits to shorts and tank tops. A shining bar lined one wall, with swings hung from the ceiling by thick ropes instead of stools, people swaying as they leaned forward to chat and drink. Round lanterns hung overhead from metal beams while peppy music mixed with the hubbub to create a lively noise of frenetic activity.

There was barely room to walk let alone a free table. Instead, the waiter led them to a large set of double doors to the side and revealed a roomier space with private booths grouped along the wall. The wagon wheel chandelier cast a warm glow on everything, melding with the light of the setting sun over the lake that shown through porthole windows. An oil lamp at their table flickered brightly, and the waiter left them to examine elegant menus after taking their drink orders.

"The grill serves a little of everything," Enrique told her, barely glancing at his. "What are you hungry for?"

Catalina had almost forgotten about food in her awe at the beautiful setting. Now she felt ravenous at seeing how many different dishes were offered. It all looked delicious, but so expensive! "Maybe just a salad," she said hesitantly, wishing there was something that didn't cost as much as two meals reasonably should.

"A very healthy, respectable choice. For a rabbit." Enrique's smile revealed his white teeth, reflecting the golden light bathing their booth. "And while there are many wonderful rabbits in this world, I did not ask one to join me tonight." He took her menu and spread it out between them, deliberately turning to the second page of choice entrees, then stretching out napkins to cover up the prices. "Now let's find out what you'd really like to order."

"Only—" Catalina choked off, self-conscious and apprehensive, acutely aware of how little she belonged in a fancy tavern, all by herself with a stylish escort, as if they were a couple on television or a magazine. It couldn't be real.

Enrique reached across the small table and took one of her hands. The ghost of something flickered like the lamplight across his expression, although his gaze was as friendly as ever. "Che, look, we don't have to stay if you don't want to."

"No, no, I'm sorry, I just...." She took a breath, her fingers tightening reflexively on his, and confessed the truth. "I've never actually been out like this before."

"No?" He drawled the word, eyes widening humorously. "The boys in Fortuna aren't all blind, are they? Or lame? Perhaps deaf? Is there a public health crisis we should alert someone about?"

"Well, a lot of them are my cousins." Catalina began smiling again, her unease falling away under his banter.

"And your Mamá and Tía didn't arrange for Cousin Tomás to invite you to the school dance?"

"Of course not, Tomás is almost 35!"

Enrique chuckled and brought his other hand up to cup hers, leaning forward. "¡Perfecto! Now, don't even look at this stupid menu, don't think about where we are, close your eyes."

She did, becoming more aware of the smells around them: the scent of the oil burning, the aroma of food at other booths, and a faint whiff of spicy fragrance that she couldn't identify. Enrique's hands were warm against hers, his voice rich and inviting. "If you were at home, and not eating with Cousin Tomás, what would you want?"

"Milanesas de pollo," she answered immediately, opening her eyes to take in his wide grin.

"Excellent!" He gathered the menus and tossed them to the side, napkins and all, just in time for the waiter to return with their drinks and a steaming basket of chipas. Having something to do helped Catalina relax still further, and soon they slipped into an easy give and take, talking through and around subjects, the darkening sky outside adding to the coziness of the booth. The food arrived hot and savory, and Catalina was delighted to tuck in to one of her favorite comfort meals, even if it was laid out far more elegantly than anyone at home had considered.

"So you were an asistente médico first, I mean, back in Mar del Plata?" she repeated as they waited for dessert, elbows on the table and leaning forward without a thought of her mother's long ago warning.

"For about a year." Enrique sipped on the last dregs from his glass. "I took enough therapy courses in school to get my license, but the plan had been for me to get experience under several doctors before coming back to build up a practice under a clinician's banner."

"Did you change your mind?" Catalina had her head in her hands, listening intently, and without noticing her absorption at all.

"That would imply I planned everything to begin with, or that I made the change completely of my own volition. Neither of which is completely true. I can't very well blame Papá, since he would have been far happier had I finished medical school and added 'doctor' to my name. It's probably the only thing he and Papá Delgado agreed on." He tapped his index finger on the table, languidly and without agitation. "And since I was able to recognize how bad an idea that was, I have only myself to blame for letting things spiral out of control when I gradually took on the same amount of work as a physician."

"But you're so good with patients!" she cried, not understanding how the story could end as it did. "And you know so much, about everything, I'm sure you were amazing. Why would anyone get you to stop?"

He gazed at her a minute before replying, his smile wavering in the light, or perhaps just softening. "Everything is so pure and simple when you say it."

They were interrupted by slices of pie but Catalina did not let the gooey crust distract her long. "I know I don't understand things very well," she temporized, cutting off a chunk with her fork.

"On the contrary, I think you understand matters quite well; it's hardly your fault the world is often far worse than your perception. Perhaps the actual guilty parties should change, and not those who are innocent of any wrongs themselves." He took a bite, never taking his eyes off her, and continued. "My own body stopped me, not someone else."

She was still reeling from his compliment and unable to comprehend another riddle. "What do you mean?"

He slid his fork across his plate, scooping crumbs to the side and lazily cutting his last bit in two. "I tried to do it all, at the same time, and it caught up with me. I was constantly worn out, running on caffeine and adrenaline; I had to make some tough decisions, cut back." Seeing her disbelief, he explained, "I basically held two full time jobs, at the clinic here and back in Mar del Plata, and took on therapy work and dance lessons during every spare hour—"

"—you teach dancing!" she exclaimed in amazement, although she realized that of course he must have even more unrevealed talents, how could he not?

"Not any more, I was part of a club, that's where I first learned about tangolates, it's really brilliant," he tossed back, not upset by her interruption at all, but matching in speed and growing excitement. "It means I get to combine my hobby and work, so less double-booking myself. And I find it helps people relax, not get so uptight about exercise. I've thought about making videos to help patients do stuff at home—"

"—yes, that would be awesome, you could use the spare room in the back of the clinic with that large mirror," Catalina stepped on top of his words, caught up in the idea.

"We'd have to clear out some of the junk, but yeah, it might be big enough for some routines," he agreed, swallowing his last serving. "Although it's better if you have a spot for the camera up high, and that room has terrible acoustics for sound."

She immediately chimed in with a suggestion. "The rolling desk could be pushed in the doorway, and then braked, with a tripod on top, right? Like how it looks in the pictures where they film on location?"

"So you don't just watch telenovelas, you study them too?" He barely smirked, running with her suggestion. "We'd have to experiment, but yeah, maybe, and the speakers underneath would sound better."

She barely gulped her last bit of pie down before volunteering to record everything. "Elena taught me how to use the video setting on her camera."

"She'll kill us if we try to keep her away from an actual production," Enrique interrupted, talking over the end of her words, then grasped her hand in punctuation. "And how will you dance with me, if you're stuck filming? It's very difficult to demonstrate tango without a proper partner."

"Don't you need someone qualified?" she asked, not fazed by her shortcomings, thinking completely of the project. "I mean, who can assist you properly."

He cocked his head to the side, and squeezed her hand, bemused. "Who says I don't have one right here?"

She felt her pulse accelerate, barely managing to keep her words steady. "But I don't have any license or training."

"Mmm, you're right, perhaps we need a test," he responded with a raised eyebrow. "And listen, they're starting the music right on cue."

She glanced over and realized more people had arrived during their conversation, and that some of the couples were in the center dancing under the chandelier. Turning back to Enrique, she saw him quirk a lopsided grin, eyes alight with anticipation. "If we go out on the floor, will you keep your shoes on tight?"

"I promise." She leapt up as he raised her hand, eagerly following him out to a spot on the floor. He put an arm around her waist, keeping her hand firmly in his, and she grasped his shoulder with equal gusto. They were constrained by the smallness of the room and the other dancers, everyone keeping to tight circles of movement on the small wooden floor. Even so, the soft lighting gave it a feeling of intimacy instead of constriction. Enrique barely needed to lead her; she could almost sense when he was about to move, and they clung so close she thought she could hear his heart beating in time to her own. There were no showy moves, no kicks or fancy spins, nothing but intense footwork and sharp turns, their heads never more than a few centimeters apart.

"Some of the boys must not be lame after all, in Fortuna," he whispered, hand nestled at the small of her back as they curved around the edge of the crowd.

"My Papá taught us all, he's very good," she murmured back, hearing the unspoken question as clearly as she perceived the next twist in the dance, joy coursing through her veins.

"He must be," Enrique agreed, bringing his head down to rest a cheek against hers as his leg brushed her skirt, leading back and away from a corner.

She answered in kind, risking a fan step as they swirled, her knee making contact with his hip before sliding away. She barely had time to process her daring before he turned her again, pivoting easily on one foot before stepping back into the midst of the room. When the song wound down Enrique brought them back near their booth, his eyes seemingly lit with the same brilliance as the lamps. She didn't think twice as she slid her right foot back, reaching both arms up to wrap around his neck. He let go of her hand at once, balancing with a firmly planted left leg and sliding his right to match hers, holding her with a strong grip as they leaned forward. His support was firm as they landed on the last note, making her feel safe enough to loosen her fingers, one tangling in a loose tendril of hair.

As if by this slight pressure he bent even closer, their faces now barely separated. For the first time she could remember, Enrique's breathing and composure felt uneven. Catalina smelled that spicy fragrance again, now mixed with sweat and gel and café, blending like the many facets of his character. He raised her back up one handed, bringing his other to circle her waist, their foreheads touching, and her own breath hitched as they stood still, everything and everyone else disappearing.

"Catalina," he voiced her name like a caress, lips achingly near her's, and she closed her eyes without realizing it, an involuntary reaction ahead of the moment her senses tingled from already.

But then the rest of the world rushed back with a vengeance in the form of a ring tone blaring above the next track of music. She jerked back, nearly bumping into the table and bringing him forward with her, so that his shin hit the side of the booth. They awkwardly untangled themselves as Enrique reached in irritation for his phone, apologizing and fumbling with an uncharacteristic lack of grace. He nearly turned it off before checking the number, then read it again, surprised.

"¿Holá? Yes, it's Enrique, is there a problem?" He listened a moment, turning his head to hear better. "Yes, of course, stay calm, just answer a few questions. Is he having chest pains?" He slid back into the booth seat, shaking his head and mouthing Sorry as she sat down too. "Good, that's good, what about numbness? Any bleeding?"

After a few more questions Enrique said, "Yes, I could come check on him tomorrow, but if you're that worried he should really be seen at the hospital—" He stopped, listened a while longer, then sighed. "Let me grab some things, I can be there in maybe an hour. Keep him propped up and try to get him to drink some water. You're welcome, it's nothing, yes, sure. Call me back if anything changes." His tone remained professional as he calmed the caller, morphing to exasperation after hanging up. "It's Colonel Perez, I knew his gait looked wrong on Easter. He passed a kidney stone six months ago and it sounds like he's got another one about to pop."

"Oh no!" Catalina reached for her purse at once. "Do they live very far away?"

"Clear on the other side of the lake." He flagged down a waiter, asking for the check. Catalina offered to get the car brought around while Enrique finished up with the bill. When they finally left she asked for his phone. "That way, if they call back, I can answer and write down any notes."

He handed it over without argument, shifting gears and carefully pulling onto the narrow streets. A misty rain had begun while they were inside, and even when they got on the main road he didn't pick up to full speed. "I can drop you by the ranch, I'll need to switch cars anyway." He pushed his hair back restlessly. "Teach me to show off in the future, I usually keep an emergency kit in mine. Besides, this one burns petrol like it's nothing, I'd need a full tank for another trip around the lake."

"Is there anything I can get for you?"

"No, I'll just change before heading out again. I ought to have refused; just because they all hate the local hospital, that's no reason to use the clinic as an emergency service. But he's borderline diabetic, has a history of heart disease...." Enrique trailed off, dimming his brights as a car came into view on the other side of the road. "Sorry, no reason to bore you with all that."

"I don’t mind, really. Is his information in the computer?" she asked, seeking some means of helping.

"Probably not." He considered, taking another turn with care. "They only live in the lake house part of the year, I think his primary care is up near Buenos Aires."

"Señora Mundo said the computer system is being used everywhere, so they should be able to give you access to his chart."

He nodded. "Maybe, if I could reach anyone this time of night. But that'll have to wait until I can speak to Señora Perez again, see if she has any of that info on her."

"I can call her, it's the last number, right?" Catalina pulled her always present notebook out of her purse and a pen, then flipped Enrique's phone open to search for the call history.

The lady was very upset, and didn't want to speak to her at first, not until Catalina put it on speaker phone and Enrique reassured her. Then she was uncertain, calling out names but unable to remember any numbers, mixing up different providers until she exclaimed, "Please call José, he keeps up with all of this so much better," and gave Catalina her son's phone number.

"Is he awake, do you think?" Catalina asked as she wrote it down.

"It doesn't matter, what else does he have to do down there with just the penguins?"

When Catalina got the man on the phone, he was both helpful and appreciative. "Tell Enrique I'll email him everything, and call the after hours line at the doctor's office to authorize opening up his records. I hope Mom wasn't too hysterical, I'll call her. Gracias again for letting me know, and please, reach out if you need anything else."

By the time they got back to the ranch the rain was falling in sheets, blowing in under the overhang as Enrique drove beneath. "It'll be fine, someone can move it in the morning," he said, hurrying to unlock the door and get them both inside.

Catalina hugged her arms once in the foyer's chilly air conditioning. "Where's your laptop? I can pull the email up, call the number if it's been sent."

"I left everything in my room, don't worry about it." He slipped his shoes off and shucked them in the corner, already unbuttoning his vest with one hand.

"But what about your car? Where's it parked?" She fell into step with him as they cut through the living room. "Shouldn't you drive one of the bigger ones, if it's raining so bad?"

"No, it's probably fine—" A loud clap of thunder interrupted them, and he went over to the window to look out, whistling.

Catalina rushed over and took his hand. "Why don't you get things moved into the SUV, Elena can help me get a bag packed."

He acquiesced after only a faint protest, going back to grab his shoes and head for the garage door. Catalina ran to find her friend, who wheeled out almost before hearing the knock, excitement turning to dismay with the news. "Sure, his room's this way. Ugh, I knew I should have taken his phone."

When they met Enrique at the front of the house again, Catalina handed everything over. "I called up the email, and here, take my notebook, I wrote the numbers down just in case you couldn't get online again."

"Be careful!" Elena said, grabbing her brother in a hug.

"Promise," he said, kissing her and then slinging the bag over his shoulder. "Don't wait up, I'll most likely be there all night." He kissed Catalina lightly on the cheek as well, turned to go, then looked back abruptly, as if he wanted to say something else. Whatever it would have been, he was interrupted again by his phone. He rolled his eyes in clear annoyance, then quickly had it open as he left, saying "Yes ma’am, I'm on my way. How's he doing?"

Elena and she watched from a front window as he pulled out in the large Honda, the vehicle easily pushing through the storm toward the road. "He can't say no, ever," Elena grumbled. "Even when he wants to, not when someone's hurt. Did you at least get to eat?"

"Yes, it was very good," Catalina replied absently, her mind still focused on the patient, shivering.

"Come on, let's go to the back. You can tell me about it while you change."

They stayed up quite late talking, neither able to sleep between excitement and unease. Enrique called briefly when he arrived at the Perez house but warned his reception was terrible. "I'm on the house line: between the storm and the lake I don't think anything will get through otherwise." By one in the morning Elena was yawning, and Catalina urged her to go to bed.

"Sure, but let me know if he calls you, wake me up, I don't care," she said sleepily, wheeling toward the door.

"Why would he call me before you?" Catalina had tried to keep her recitation of the evening focused on Sr. Perez's difficulties, but Elena gradually wheedled out the details. It wasn't hard: she was dying to know, and Catalina was just as hungry to share. Despite discussing it round and round with her friend, though, Catalina wasn't ready to commit to anything specific about the night, even (or especially) to Elena.

Her friend snorted, a hand on the doorknob. "He'll call you, trust me. No one's ever made Enrique that rattled over a patient visit. Good night, or really, good morning little sister!" She laughed as she yanked the door open, then yelped in surprise. "Papá!"

Sr. Tilve was framed in the doorway, dripping wet, the light in the hall casting dark shadows over his angry face. "Señorita Moreno," he said in a cold, sharp voice of command. "The first southbound bus departs at five o'clock, and you will be on it. Have your things packed by three; a car is standing by to take you. Do not attempt to trespass on my family's privacy ever again."

Today's bonus blog post is about the tragic history behind Argentina's National Day of Remembrance for Truth and Justice.

Estancia Aldea Norteña 29: Amor en Movimiento

MichelleRWApril 17, 2023 11:30AM

Re: Estancia Aldea Norteña 29: Amor en Movimiento

NN SApril 17, 2023 05:20PM

The phone!

Maria VApril 18, 2023 12:05PM

Re: Estancia Aldea Norteña 29: Amor en Movimiento

MichelleRWApril 18, 2023 12:45AM


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