“No one is just anything,” Fani told him, and he actually blanched.
Would I ever be as confident of myself around people as Fani was? Maybe if I was, what had happened to me and my baby wouldn’t have happened. Maybe Edward was wrong. Maybe being around Fani was good for me. She reached out and pulled me forward.
“We’ll sit in the back,” she told the boys as we stepped up to Larry’s late-model black Mercedes sedan.
Nobody poor went to college around here, I thought, and then recalled Fani telling me that Larry’s father owned a chain of movie theaters.
Contrary to what Fani had said about college boys, Cliff at first was interested enough in me to ask many questions about Mexico instead of talking about himself. I could see from the way Fani was looking at me when I answered that she didn’t want me telling too much about my background. She made the point of telling him that I was living with my very rich aunt in Palm Springs, even though I wasn’t now, of course. She told him I had inherited a lot of money.
“So, don’t even begin to think of her as some poor immigrant,” she warned. “She can probably buy and sell all three of us.”
I was shocked at her exaggeration, but Cliff looked impressed. Once we arrived at the restaurant and were at our table, he began to talk about himself and his family. It seemed important to him to make sure I understood he was from a wealthy family, too. I could see Fani was growing bored with the conversation.
“Tell me, Clifford,” she asked. “Is your nurse aunt your father’s or mother’s sister?”
“Father’s,” he said.
“So, why doesn’t your moneybags father just give her money so she doesn’t have to continue nursing and be depressed?”
“Maybe she doesn’t really want to leave nursing,” I answered for him. I saw he was embarrassed by her question. “Everyone complains about the work he or she does.”
“That’s probably it,” Cliff said, and smiled at me. “You’re very smart, Delia.”
“For a Mexican immigrant,” Fani added, and he started to protest that he didn’t mean anything negative. She broke out in laughter, but I could see he was upset with how she was teasing him in front of me.
Fani winked. Later, in the bathroom, she told me I had him wrapped around my finger already.
“If you want him, he’s yours for the night,” she said. “He’s what is known as smitten. You can bring him back to my place. You have your own bedroom.”
“What? No, no,” I said. “I don’t want that.”
“Soon you will, Delia. Don’t make like the Virgin Mary. You might not find anyone better than this guy. He’s not as bad as most of them, and he’s rather good-looking. If you toss him back into the sea, I might just reel him in myself.”
“No, Fani. It’s too soon for me.”
“No, it’s not too soon for you; it’s too bad for you,” she said. “How are you doing? Can you stay awake, or do you want this?” She showed me a pill.
“Okay. Let’s get you in the groove, then.”
We returned to the table. After we had dinner, Fani told Larry to take us dancing at a club she knew downtown. He knew it, too. It was a college hangout. Despite what I had told Fani in the bathroom, I was feeling very tired. I just didn’t want her to know it and push that pill at me. When we got to the club, I knew I wasn’t very good on the dance floor, but Cliff didn’t seem to mind. Actually, he was eyeing other girls and showing off.
Fani moved closer to me to shout over the music. “Pay more attention to him. You’re losing him.”
“I never had him,” I replied, and she laughed.
Suddenly, I stopped dancing. There, not more than ten feet away from me, was my cousin Sophia. Mi tía Isabela would be outraged if she saw how she was dressed, I thought. She had on a very low-cut, tight blouse, a bare midriff, and pants tighter than mine, cut so low they left little to the imagination.
“What’s wrong?” Cliff asked.
I shook my head and moved closer to Fani.
“Sophia is here,” I told her.
“She is? Where?”
I nodded in her direction.