“Ay, ay, ay,” she groans.
“What are they doing?” I ask, watching them walk through the area, hands on the gun handles in their holders.
“Doing a small sweep. Making sure no one looks suspicious. Same routine every time we go somewhere.” They return several minutes later and finally come for our doors. Diego opens mine, and I step out onto the red dirt, the heat wrapping me up. The air is much thicker, and it’s way hotter out here than it was at the mansion; I guess that’s because we were closer to the water there.
Gravel crunches from somewhere. Before I can pick my head up, I see a pair of leather shoes step up to me and without meeting his eyes, I already know who the hell it is.
I carry my gaze up his black dress pants, the cream-colored shirt tucked in to the trim waist, sleeves rolled up, revealing his strong forearms.
His shirt is open at the top, revealing the crucifix again, the large Adam’s apple, and of course, the wicked smirk on his lips.
“You’ve got to be fucking kidding me,” I gripe when Diego shuts the door behind me.
Draco stands tall before me, shoulders broad. A gun is in a holder on his belt, an impressive silver watch on his wrist. “What? You thought I’d approve of you being out here without me?” When he quirks that cheek, I want to punch him right in the gut.
“I only wanted to explore—get a little freedom,” I tell him. “It’s already enough having your guards tail my ass all day.”
“You have freedom. I’m just tagging along and they are keeping you safe.” He steps toward me, clasping my chin between his forefinger and thumb. “My woman doesn’t walk these streets alone. It’s not safe.”
“I was wondering why they were being so lenient on letting us out,” Mrs. Molina calls from the front of the car, placing a pair of sunglasses on. “I was only bluffing with Patanza.”
“She is not happy, Mamá. You shouldn’t mess with her emotions that way.”
“Oh, please.” She waves a hand. “She should be glad she has the break. Poor girl works too damn hard. She deserves to be out here, too.”
He exhales and then looks down at me when Mrs. Molina walks to the nearest fruit stand. “What do you want from here?”
“I want to buy your mom a gift,” I tell him, turning to walk. He catches up to me without much stride. “Why didn’t you tell me it was her birthday?”
“Didn’t think it mattered. She normally isn’t this cheerful on this day.” He gives her a sideways glance as she picks up a papaya, grinning at the woman behind the stand. “But I won’t ruin it. She wanted you to come out with her, so I’ll give her whatever she wants today as long as it keeps the smile on her face.”
As we walk, I notice people are quick to step out of our way. Not one person stands in our path. They literally make a gap for us to walk through. Some of the women smile so hard at him I think their faces will break.
Some people shush others, while some scatter to different stands to get away from the walkway.
“Jefe! Jefe!” a child shouts, rushing our way with a grin. His mother panics, trying to cling to his arm, but Draco holds up a hand at her, giving a slight reassuring smile. She eases up almost instantly, and the child, a young boy with matted hair and shorts that seem years too small for him, meets up to us, breathing hard and grinning all at once.
“I made this for you,” he says in Spanish, tossing his long hair back. He opens his palm and hands Draco a carved flower made of wood. “I carry it around every day. I was hoping one day you would show up again.”
Draco takes it, studying it intently. “Do you?”
“Yes! I remember you bringing my mom flowers one day when she was sad. She still has them. She made a garden with the seeds. They make her room smell good.”
Draco picks his gaze up, looking at the older woman. She blushes. He huffs a laugh.
He leans forward and murmurs, “You did well on it, Mateo. I’ll put this in my art room back at home. Keep this up, and it will make you a lot of money later on.” He holds the flower up between his fingers.
Mateo bobs his head and steps back.
“Hold on.” Draco grips his shoulder and I can see the worry in his mother’s eyes. She steps forward, watching intently. Draco stands tall, pulling out a clip of money from his front pocket. He takes out six bills and then stuffs them in the boy’s hand. “Tell your mother to make something good for dinner and to buy both of you some new clothes and shoes.”