But, just like the typical Draco Molina, he forces his eyes away, focusing on one of the paintings on the wall.
“We’re going somewhere?” I ask when I’m close.
“Out,” is all he says, and he opens the door to walk outside. Guillermo and Diego are standing beside a black SUV. They open the back door for us when we get closer. Draco steps aside, letting me in first. As I slide across the bench, he puts on a pair of sunglasses before climbing in as well.
I sit by the opposite window, glancing sideways. He’s dialing a number on his burn phone. He brings the phone to his ear, speaking in Spanish about someone meeting him at a certain place and someone else not answering the phone. I assume he’s talking to someone about Thiago with how aggravated he’s becoming. He ends the call, finally putting his attention on me without a word.
Guillermo starts the car up and Diego straps himself into the passenger seat. There is a Mercedes in front of us, black of course, but there is also a silver car in front of that one.
“Are your guards in those other cars?” I ask, still feeling him staring.
“Where are we going?” And why are there so many of them?
“For what?” I inquire, treading as lightly as possible.
I know he won’t say more than that. Honestly, I don’t care. It’s nice to get out of the house after all the hostility.
We ride along the dirt road, passing by those familiar little houses again. Kids are playing, but this time they don’t stop to watch the expensive cars go by. They carry on with their lives without a care in the world. They are younger kids. The older ones are most likely in school.
We ride for nearly an hour. I shift in my seat repeatedly, keeping my gaze out of the window. Draco has been quiet the entire ride. I keep staring out, on the verge of falling asleep, but then I see something I don’t expect.
The car slows down but I keep staring.
A blue field. A field full of them. The Blue Betrayals.
Water sprinklers are running, refreshing them, keeping them hydrated and healthy. I realize this area is secluded, protected by a gray fence. It’s shadier here somehow, perhaps because it’s almost on a hill, slanted. There are trees, too, big and bushy, which is unusual for this kind of land.
I look back at Draco who tucks his phone into his pocket and then opens his door. “Get out.”
Blinking rapidly, I pull the door handle and step out. Diego pops up beside me, his handgun gripped between his fingers. He doesn’t look at me, which isn’t surprising at all. Draco steps around the front of the car and looks out at the field of flowers. It’s massive, way bigger than the garden of chocolate cosmos.
“It’s the only place away from home with grass that doesn’t get too dry,” he says to no one in particular. “The hill helps. The sun can’t shine directly on them. They are meant to be in cooler zones. With the sprinklers and my gardeners, they have lasted a long time.” He walks through the gate and begins down a dirt path. Diego steps behind and nudges me, and I look sideways at him before following suit.
As I walk through, I can really see the thorns. Some of them stick out in the walkway, sharp like blue claws. If I fell, they would cut me—pierce right through the skin.
Draco continues walking along the path, and I notice there’s an outhouse about a yard away, at the end of the path. It must be where he’s going.
Diego and Guillermo are behind us, the other guards posted along the street to keep watch. I try to keep up, but Draco’s strides are longer. I get the feeling he doesn’t want me catching up.
So I keep walking, taking in the Blue Betrayals. I can smell them when the wind blows, hear their petals whispering. A few more steps and we are here, standing less than a foot away from the outhouse.
Draco moves over, as do I when he cocks his head at the guards and they come rushing forward. Guillermo unlocks it with a key, and when the door creaks open, I gasp.
Inside, there is a man. And not just any man. It’s . . . Henry. He’s surrounded by a cluster of the blue flowers, as well as their thorns, body propped on the dirty toilet. I have to cover my nose, the stench is so strong.
Henry isn’t alone in there. There’s another guest, with yellowish-white scales and beady red eyes. It’s hanging off his shoulders, the head moving up around his hair, the tongue making a soft hissing noise as it flickers.
He’s been bitten several times by it. An albino snake. There are marks on his arms and thighs. He’s sweating like a pig. He’s absolutely filthy, and there is blood crusted all around his swollen mouth like he was punched repeatedly.