“How long are they going to be like this?” I ask.
“It’s their job to do this, not ours,” Patanza grumbles, tying the end of one of the blue balloons. I can tell she’s annoyed doing this. She didn’t want to help, but had to because . . . well, because I asked. “They aren’t used to the commanding people around here helping out with stuff like this. The guards, you, Mrs. Molina, Jefe—no one. They and the maids usually handle everything. It’s their job to.”
“I don’t mind helping. I can’t go into town so I might as well do something to pass the time.” I finish filling the balloon up and then pinch the end, handing it to her. She ties it, rolling her eyes at my last statement.
“Who says you can’t go into town?” a familiar voice calls behind me.
I twist in my seat at the dining table and look sideways, spotting Mrs. Molina coming in. And wow . . . she looks amazing.
Her streaked gray hair is pinned up, not a stray piece dangles. Her dress is like a gown for a goddess, yellow and billowy with a gold belt at the waist. Her leather sandals have jewels on the gold straps. A smile sweeps across her lips as she comes closer.
“Wow, Mrs. Molina,” I release a hoarse laugh. “You look great!”
She bows her head playfully.
I look over at Patanza and her eyebrows are furrowed as she sweeps her gaze over Mrs. Molina as well. She’s mildly shocked, like she’s never seen her dressed this way before, not even for her birthday.
“Why are you so dressed up?” Patanza asks, eyebrows bunching together.
“Because I want to be,” Mrs. Molina retorts. “And because it is my 60th birthday. That’s a huge milestone in the Molina family. Most don’t get to live to see that age, you know.”
“I had no idea you were turning sixty, Mrs. Molina. It makes your beauty even more impressive.” I step around my chair.
A bigger smile graces her lips. Ever since that conversation I heard between her and Draco, I’ve grown to like her. She doesn’t stare like a hawk. She doesn’t treat me like some lost child anymore. She treats me like she’s known me my whole life, having normal conversations with me during breakfast, buying me clothes whenever she goes into town. The clothes are really not needed, seeing as I have way too many to wear as it is, but I don’t complain. It’s appreciated, and I’m glad to know she actually thinks of me whenever she happens to go out.
“Gracias, cariño.” Sweetie. She touches my cheek with a gentle palm. “But who says you can’t go to town?” she asks again.
“Jefe says so,” Patanza butts in, eyes rolling.
Mrs. Molina’s arms fold. “What does he think? That she will run away?”
Patanza cocks a stern brow, looking from her to me. She doesn’t say anything but her know-it-all glare shouts it all.
“I am not going to run away,” I groan, running my fingers through my hair.
“I’m sure you won’t. My son can be so overprotective sometimes. He has to give you freedom—let you breathe! You can’t stay cooped up in here or you’ll go crazy. Trust me, I know.”
“You should come out with me today,” Mrs. Molina insists.
“Did Jefe say you could take her off the property?” Patanza asks in Spanish, but it is more of a threat than anything.
“No, and he doesn’t have to because I can leave whenever I please, Patanza. My son cannot control me like he does with his guards and her.” She gestures at me. “It’s my birthday and she’s coming with me. There is a new brand of vino rojo at the market that I want to try. I told them to save me a bottle just for today’s special occasion. I want to make this a great night and my son has agreed that I can get whatever I want. All I have to do is call.”
Patanza drops her balloon, folding her arms. “I can’t let you take her.”
I frown at her just as Mrs. Molina does. “Should we call him then?” she challenges in her native tongue. She draws out the clutch from beneath her arm and pulls out a burn phone. When she flips it open, Patanza exhales.
“Whatever,” Patanza mumbles. “Call him.”
“No need.” Mrs. Molina looks over at me. “Amor, go change clothes. I will be waiting by the door when you’re ready. I’ve already asked Guillermo and Diego to take me. As long as we have guards with us—his eyes and ears—it will be fine.”
I beam, stepping sideways. “Are you sure?” I gasp.
She nods. “Go—but hurry. I have a few stops I want to make while I’m there.”
I do my best not to squeal but I can feel it in my throat, begging to be unleashed. I look at Patanza and she’s shaking her head, straightening her back with her hand on the handle of her gun.