I snort. “He’s too uptight to plan a party. I used to do it all the time for my parents and a few of their friends. Come on.” I grab her wrist and start for the exit of the kitchen. “We’ll figure something out for her.”
“I really shouldn’t, Patrona,” she says, hesitant as I string her along. “He doesn’t like for us to mess up his plans.”
“He won’t blame you for anything, Patanza. I’m sure he’d like for us to take this burden off his shoulders, though he’ll probably never admit it. He seems to be dealing with a lot right now anyway.”
“He always is,” she scoffs.
I let go of her wrist when we’re in the empty dining room. I’m hesitant to ask my next question. I haven’t asked anything so daring in a long time. “Do you think he’d let me go to the city? For a gift?”
Her eyebrows shoot up like I’ve just asked for access to the devil’s deepest, darkest secrets. Her hands lift up and she waves them rapidly. “No, no, no, no, no. Hell no!”
“What?” I frown. “Why not? It’s just for a gift. You guys can follow me like you do here. It would only be for an hour tops.”
“You’re asking the wrong bitch, Jefa. If I even try to answer that he’ll have my head. That is his number one rule.”
“What is?” I ask, aggravated now.
“To not let you off the property without his permission.” Her face turns cold and grim again, like she’s not backing down.
I release a breath, head shaking. “This is fucking ridiculous. He can’t keep me trapped here.”
“He only wants you to be safe.”
“No, he doesn’t want me to run away. He thinks I’ll bail.”
“Well . . . do you blame him?” She folds her arms. “You stare out of the windows so much we all think one day you’ll decide to just jump out of one of them and end it.”
Her statement catches me by total surprise. “What? Is that what you all really think?”
“It’s clear you are not happy, Patrona. Not here. Even though he is trying to do all that he can to please you, I don’t think you ever will be . . . and I guess I can understand why, after all you’ve been through.”
I swallow hard, looking toward the French doors. I don’t have anything to say—at least not out loud. I thought I was doing a good job of pretending I didn’t mind my life here. I guess my feelings are more transparent than I thought.
Is that what Draco thinks? That I want to die? That I want it all to end? Because he would be wrong. They are all wrong. It’s not that I want it to end . . . it’s something much deeper, and I have yet to discover it.
I can hardly sleep. I have nightmares, all of them filled with blood and death. I feel like I’m losing my mind sometimes.
I pull away from her, turning to leave the dining room.
“Do you want me to ask Eduardo to make you something to eat?” Patanza calls, following after me. “I can have the butlers bring it up.”
“No.” I stop, peering over my shoulder. “It’s okay. I’ll just eat later. I’m not that hungry right now.” She starts to follow me when I take a few steps out, but I hold my hand up, lightly shaking my head. “Patanza, do you think that, just this once, I can walk around alone. No offense to you,” I add quickly when her face falls, “but I just want some time alone.”
She looks at me long and hard. It’s against his rules, I know, but I can’t deal with her tailing me. I want to go to the library without someone all over my back—without someone standing at the door, waiting for me to finish.
“Sure,” she finally sighs. “But when you see him, tell Jefe that being alone is what you wanted.”
I nod, taking off. “I will.”
It’s around 3:00 p.m., and Patanza is helping me with decorations. They aren’t bad, but not the best either. Purple and blue balloons were brought in—Mrs. Molina’s favorite colors. The dishes are purple and blue as well. I fill each balloon up with the helium tank provided.
After taking my small escape and sitting on the terrace with a few glasses of white wine and one of those Spanish romances, I feel much better. I didn’t mean to lash out at Patanza, which is why I have her helping me now. I want her to know that everything is okay between us, and that I don’t blame her for doing her job.
The butlers stand only a few feet away, setting up small stations for finger foods and desserts. I can feel them looking at me, as if I shouldn’t be doing any work at all. They look at the door often, like they expect Draco to come storming in at any second to grill them for letting me help.