Time in Willow Creek: 2 years, 3 months, 2 weeks, 1 day
After destroying the last of the chocolate cake and laughing with Mara, Kevin went upstairs to wash and dress. Thoughts of fatherhood filled his head like the steam from the shower enveloping him. He had a great dad, but would that make him a good dad? Would he be fun or strict? Would he get on their nerves like he got on Juliana’s nerves? Would he spoil them with all the gifts he could give? Heh, Juliana probably wouldn’t allow it…that is, of course, if they made it that far.
When he returned to the kitchen, she and her mother were talking and getting breakfast. Cecilia was so…beautiful wasn’t exactly the word he wanted to use however appropriate it was. She hid her battle scars well and showed no signs of the struggle. For whatever reason, she had been sentenced to a lifetime of pain but bore no bitterness. She wasn’t as haggard as she should have been and had no wrinkles and barely any gray hair! Clearly, she possessed the secret to living a life of contentment, and he needed to learn it. He nodded to her and said, “Buenos días.” She returned a stiff, military-like nod with her greeting. The way Juliana giggled made him realize she mocked him. Although he was a wee bit embarrassed, it was nice to know there was a tiny bit of humor behind all that seriousness.
He kissed Juliana on the cheek and wondered too late if he should have done that in front of her mother. “Good morning. Did you sleep?”
Cecilia eyed him as they spoke. Perhaps Mara got her staring skills from her. Did she always look at people that way, or was it just him? She appeared so stoic yet she had a snarky smirk on her face. Maybe she was trying to intimidate him so he would run away and leave her daughter there with her. The intimidation worked, but he wouldn’t dare leave Juliana behind unless it was what she wanted. Even then, it would be painful.
“Él es muy guapo,” she said to her daughter not taking her eyes off him.
Juliana blushed. Ugh! Being so ignorant was agonizing. When they got home, he planned to kidnap Juliana and lock themselves in the basement until he was fluent! Ok, so he didn’t have a basement, but someone did!
“Él te ama mucho.”
“Sí. Lo sé.”
Maybe she wasn’t saying anything bad about him. Juliana wouldn’t have smiled so warmly if she were. It never occurred to him until then that if he and did Juliana have kids, they would probably be bilingual. That would be so amazing for them.
After taking a few bites of her meal, she seemed to force her attention to him. “Did you eat?”
“Yeah, I’ve been up.”
“Necesitarás una receta para pastel de chocolate.”
Juliana laughed and nodded. “¿Me vas a dar tu receta?”
Oh no. She said chocolate! Had she noticed how much cake he ate? Hopefully, she didn’t think he was a greedy pig…even if he was when it came to chocolate cake. Speaking of which, did Juliana bake?
When she finished eating, they left the house for whatever adventure she had planned for him. It began as a walking tour through the neighborhood. Hopefully, the cake would sustain him throughout the day. A few streets over, she showed him a beautiful, country villa. She said it used to be her dream home. It remained empty most of the year because the owners only stayed there in the summer.
On the main street, she hailed a taxi and took him to the more touristy parts of town. She probably assumed all Americans would want to go there and didn’t have the heart to tell her he had been there many times. He wanted to see Juliana’s Monte Vista. But, having company he actually enjoyed made being in the tourist traps so much fun. When the taxi stopped the first time, he attempted to pay the fare, but she wouldn’t let him. In all his years of dating, he never had a woman pay for him before. Women typically went out with him because he could pay for everything. The idea was a bit weird at first, but he came to enjoy it not to save himself money but because of the meaning behind it. One mantra of the sales world was people invest in the things they cared about. He knew Juliana loved him even without the gesture, but it said so much. Even though he bore the expense to bring her home, she still treated him like a guest and took care of him. Most people wouldn’t think much of it, and it was difficult to explain why it affected him so much, but he was deeply moved.
Just after midday, they returned to the neighboorhood, and he was glad. His stomach scolded him for not having real food for breakfast. They passed by many bistros and food stands, but he didn’t want to be a whiny baby although he knew she wouldn’t have minded. Just around the corner from where the taxi picked them up, she led him off the main street into a grassy field.
“We have our festivals here.”
How fortunate for them to live so close to it. Too bad she didn’t have any pictures to show him of what it looked like with all the people and lights and everything. It was probably amazing.
At last, they were able to rest, enjoy the view, and be together in the quietness of the country.
“Your town is beautiful. It’s not at all how I imagined.”
She smiled and gave an approving nod.
“So…” he scooted as close to her as he could get, “since we’re out here all alone,” he wiggled his eyebrows, “are you going to tell me what your mom said this morning?”
She laughed heartily. “She said you are handsome.”
“And she said you love me a lot.”
She looked away with a smirk on her face.
She pretended not to hear him.
“What did she say about chocolate cake? Does she think I’m a pig?”
She laughed again. “I won’t say.”
Drat! He would never be comfortable around Cecilia now. Usually, his number one rule in his list of rules of engagement with her was never pressure or take advantage of her. While it always and forever will remain at the top of the list, he allowed himself one exception to uncover the mystery of Cecilia’s thoughts about him. Buttering her up was a low move and certainly childish, but he had to know! It would bug him for the rest of the trip. Besides, she probably missed him anyway. It had been a few days since they were alone together. Maybe she missed his lips; he certainly missed hers. She could never resist a little tongue action for certain. Yeah, this was only partly manipulating. He wrapped his arms around her and went in for a deep kiss. A satisfactory moan accompanied an eagerness as she grabbed his arm and kissed him back. Oh yeah. She missed him a whole lot. Surely she’d sing like a bird now.
But, just in case she needed more convincing, he sweetened the pot. “I do love you, Juliana…” He went in for a softer, sweeter kiss to bring the point home and seal the deal. “And if you love me…” he made his best attempt at puppy eyes, “you’ll tell me what your mother said!”
He was so confident she’d give up the goods. After she laughed in his face, he came to his senses and remembered who he was dealing with. She’d probably take the secret to her grave.