“How do you know all this?”
“Natural instincts. I was born girl-smart. My father says I even teased the doctor and wouldn’t cry until he caressed my rear more softly.”
She expected me to laugh, but my mind had drifted back to Edward and his asking me what would I not do to get my baby back. I thought I would make a deal with the devil, but now I wondered why I had to make deals with anyone. Adan Jr. was my baby, my flesh and blood.
“Hello?” Fani sang at me. “I was trying to be funny, Delia. Oh, brother. Don’t sit there with such a dark, brooding look on your face. Brighten up!” she ordered. Just then, the phone rang. “They’re here. Good!” she cried, and went to the phone to speak to the doorman. Then she checked her hair and toyed with mine and rattled off her instructions again before we heard the buzzer.
She paused at the door, turned to me, and said, “One more very important thing, Delia. Obviously, these boys don?
??t know anything about you. No one you will meet knows anything about your giving birth recently, so don’t dare mention it. That’s a turnoff.”
Before I could say anything, she opened the door and screamed, “Larry, what took you so long?”
“Long?” a tall, lean, dark-brown-haired boy said. He wore a light-blue sweater and jeans and had a thick gold necklace drooping under his Adam’s apple. I was surprised Fani had called him, because he wasn’t very good-looking. His nose was thin and long, his mouth was weak, and he had a soft, round chin. He grimaced and looked at his watch. “I got us here as fast as I could.” He tapped the face of his watch and held it up. “We’re actually a little early, Fani.”
“Oh, are you? Well, I guess us girls are just a little overanxious,” she teased.
The boy beside Larry stepped forward. He was a good four or five inches shorter, broad in the shoulders, and better-looking, with blue eyes, light-brown hair and high cheekbones. He wore a dark-blue shirt open at the collar and jeans.
“Oh. This is Cliff Alexander,” Larry said. “He’s a freshman from North Carolina, so don’t expect to understand anything he says when he talks.”
Cliff elbowed Larry in the ribs rather sharply. Larry rubbed his side and groaned.
“Pleased to meet you,” Cliff said, jabbing his hand toward me like a sword.
Fani froze a smile and widened her eyes at me. I took his hand.
“I’m Delia Yebarra,” I said.
“Yeah, I heard,” Larry quickly chimed in. “From Mexico. Cómo Estefani?” he quipped.
“You’re such a genuine idiot, Larry,” she replied. “That’s why I like you.”
He laughed, and she and I stepped out of the apartment.
“Larry said Fani told him you just arrived here in Los Angeles and will be going to nursing school. Is that right?” Cliff asked me on the way to the elevator.
“Yes,” I said.
“My aunt’s a nurse in a VA hospital. She hates it,” he added. “She says it’s too depressing. Maybe that’s not the best career for you.”
We stepped into the elevator.
Fani looked at me with an expression that said, See? They think they know everything. They can even run your life after meeting you for a minute.
“Then why does your aunt still do it?” I asked him. I saw Fani liked that quick comeback.
He shrugged. “She’s unmarried, almost fifty. What else can she do?”
“She can work in a supermarket packing groceries,” Fani said, and Larry laughed.
The door opened. As we walked out of the lobby, Cliff reached for my hand.
“You’re too pretty to be a nurse,” he said.
Fani was listening and turned on him. “Maybe that will make her patients get better faster. Ever think of that, Clifford?”
“I’m just Cliff,” he said.