Mrs. Newell seemed to freeze. Even her eyes turned to ice. She didn’t move. “I don’t know what that is,” she quickly said.
Señor Bovio looked at her and took the packet from Teresa. He stared at it a moment.
He didn’t look up at Mrs. Newell when he spoke. “I would like you to pack up your things immediately and be out of this house and off my property as quickly as humanly possible.”
“What? I tell you I don’t—”
“As quickly as humanly possible,” Señor Bovio repeated, looking at her coldly this time.
“You are making a big mistake, Mr. Bovio. Why, if your son was alive—”
His lips trembled. “He would be smiling,” Señor Bovio said. He looked at me and Adan Jr. “He’s smiling now, I am sure,” he said.
My tears fell on Adan Jr.’s face.
He opened his eyes and looked up at me.
And I would swear until the day I die that he smiled.
One day in early April, mi tía Isabela’s head housekeeper, Señora Rosario, came to Adan Jr.’s nursery to tell me I had a visitor. He was waiting outside. She said he wouldn’t come into the hacienda. I had just finished feeding and changing Adan Jr. and set him in his crib, contented and ready for his nap.
“Quién es?” I asked. The days of no Spanish permitted in the house were gone. I thought Señora Rosario appreciated that more than anyone.
“No sé. Él no diría.”
Why wouldn’t he tell her his name? I wondered. For a moment, I thought about the boy with whom I had gone on that dreadful double date when I was with Fani in Los Angeles. I don’t blame him for not giving his name, I thought, and marched to the front entrance. I had no patience for this.
It had been months since I had returned to live with Adan Jr. in Tía Isabela’s hacienda. Edward had returned to college, and Sophia was attending a college-preparatory school in San Diego. Her near-death experience had matured her in ways Tía Isabela had lost faith in ever seeing. I had put off nursing school until the fall and now would attend the one in San Bernardino, which meant I could commute and not be away from Adan Jr. too long. With Inez and Señora Rosario assisting, I felt comfortable about all of it.
Señor Bovio was a frequent visitor, never arriving without gifts for Adan Jr. and me but sometimes bringing something for Tía Isabela as well. They were starting to see each other socially again, and he was even talking seriously about returning to politics. He had finally gotten to the point where he could look at me without tons of guilt darkening his eyes and lowering his gaze. It was Adan Jr. who, with his wondrous smile, tied us together in ways that would bring us to forgive.
I opened the front door and stood for a moment looking out with a mixture of surprise and happiness but also some fear.
Ignacio stood by his father’s truck, his arms folded across his chest. He looked even bigger than the last time and still had that military-style short hair. I walked down to him slowly.
“I thought if I sent in my name, you would not come out,” he said.
“What a foolish idea,” I told him, and he smiled.
“Someone with some influence managed to get me out early.”
“I’m happy for you and for your family, Ignacio.”
“Sí, gracias,” he said, and then he looked away and confessed that he had been out for almost a month.
“A month? I did not know.”
“I was afraid to come see you. I was afraid you hated me now or wouldn’t want to have anything to do with me.”
“Another foolish idea,” I told him.
“My parents knew all about you, about your returning to live with your aunt. Do you still want to be a nurse?”
“Sí. I’m going to school in the fall.”
“That’s good. I’m sure you will be a very good nurse.”