He looked for her through the crowd, through the jungle that took over the dance floor. Girls stopped him, smiling, alluring but… where was she? They had spoken only for a while that morning. The coffee shop had been packed but they had caught each other’s eye from across the latte orders and the warm pastries. She, however, was sipping on tea and laughing with friends. Tea? He was a straight black coffee. Tea was a joke.
“It’s calming. I like the calm.”
“Oh. When you put it that way, it’s…” He lingered like a little boy anticipating the next movement of her lips. He was smitten and her lovely face distorted his reality.
“So… you like tea.” He said with a serious tone.
“Among other things.” She said giggling.
“What’s your name straight black coffee drinker.”
“Kind of. I’m mixed up. My Mother is Mexican and my Dad is straight cowboy Texan.”
“Like what? Rodeo, boots and spurs?”
“Yeah… what’s… what’s your name?”
“Lorain. Straight Scottish cowgirl.”
“Scottish? Mom or Dad?”
“Both. Displaced tourists. I don’t know. They just sort of fell in love with Texas and I was born and raised here.”
“I see. Nice.”
“You think so?”
“Yes. Really nice.” He said with a lingering smile as he took a sip of his coffee. She smiled and sipped her tea. She took a breath after and took out her phone as her friends called out for her.
“Be right there. Okay Ricardo… last name please.” She demanded as she gestured soft touches on her phone.
“James.” He said with an anxious smile.
“You’re not serious?”
“I am. My Mom wanted to make sure I wouldn’t forget my roots and James is actually our family name.”
“Alright then. Number please… Ricardo James.” She commanded softly biting her lip.
He swallowed as he called it out for her.
“You can call me anytime.” He uttered nervously. He couldn’t believe it. She was perfect, like a dream.
“Maybe. See ya around cowboy.” She responded with a wink.
He took one last sip of his coffee and watched her walk out… of his life.
“Fuck! I’m such an idiot!” He uttered out loud attracting the attention of a couple sitting next to him. He looked at them and ran out after her. It was too late. How could he not get her number? How! He looked both ways and didn’t see her.
That afternoon he did his best to work on plastering the bathroom for his Uncle Pablo. He had promised his parents to watch out for him while he was going to school. The university was only a few blocks away from the house. It was a perfect arrangement. Plastering was not going to be his career but it helped. He wanted to build things, buildings, bridges, everything. It was his dream. Ricardo tried with difficulty not to think about her. But Lorain floated in his brain like a leaf cradled by the ripples of a flowing river.
“Ricardo… concentrate. That area is fine. We don’t need any plastering there.”
“Oh… right. Sorry.”
“Que te pasa hijo?” His uncle asked what was going on with him.
“Nada…” Ricardo responded with a sigh. He felt his phone buzz in the back pocket of his jeans. He pulled it out slowly unaware… surprised.
It’s Lorain. Save my number. And I know you didn’t ask but… my last name is MacMillan.Thought you should know if we’re going to be friends.
Ricardo swallowed his smile pulling the toilette seat down. He sat and looked at his surroundings. He ran out. He was not about to text her back sitting on a toilette in the bathroom. He was curious that way.
Hi. I’m so glad you texted. I ran after you this morning because I wanted to make sure and get your number. I must have looked like an idiot. Nice name MacMillan. BTW. Sounds very unTexan. LOL. What are you up to?
You ran after me? That’s nice. I was kind of wondering why you barely talked. I thought maybe I wasn’t interesting enough. So what do you do Ricardo James and how old are you?
Ricardo ran upstairs ignoring his Uncle’s call. He reached his room, closed the door and laid on his bed. The smile cemented on his face lingered beyond his thoughts.
I’m 21, going to UT. Fourth year Architecture. Graduating this year but pursuing my Masters in something. Haven’t made up my mind yet.
Wow. A little coincidence. I know you didn’t ask but…19. Interior Design. Second year. How come I haven’t seen you around?
Maybe you weren’t ready to meet me yet. That is, until now.
Perhaps. Would you like to meet me tonight?
Oh good. I thought maybe you weren’t feeling the same as I.
Feeling? What are you feeling exactly?
Stuff. Maybe I’ll tell you tonight.
I’ll pick you up.
No. Meet me at Casa del Mar Restaurant. There’s only one, search it up. There is a big Latin party happening there tonight and I love dancing. You?
Love it. Will I get to dance with you?
Maybe. See you in a couple of hours then.
I’ll be there! Look forward to it!
Ricardo was on cloud nine. He kissed his phone and closed his eyes. His Uncle knocking on the door pierced his altered state.
“Ricardo! Come finish this! Carmen wants this done tonight!”
Tonight? No. He jumped up opening the door to face his Uncle’s grimaced face.
“Tio… I can’t. I have a date. Please. I’ll finish tomorrow.”
“Date? You mean… you’re not gay?”
“All these years here, you never even tried sneaking a girl in? What’s going on?”
“I just met the woman of my dreams. A wonderful sexy girl. And if her personality is as boring as a Sunday afternoon, I’m going to marry her.”
“Who? Marry who? You’re… getting married?” Stammered his aunt Carmen.
“No Tia. I’m going out on a date tonight. I’ll finish the bathroom tomorrow morning. I promise.”
“Can you believe it! A date! With a girl!” His uncle said smiling.
Ricardo shook his head, closed the door behind him leaving his Aunt and Uncle to discuss the big news. He was nervous and excited. He had been working hard for years, like a hermit. He wanted to be successful and girls were not in his plans, at least not until after graduation. But this one… he couldn’t ignore. He rushed in to shower. The whole time smiling at the thought of her eyes giggling at him. Her brown eyes, her rosy cheeks and pink lips. He trembled a little. He shook off the urge and stepped out to get ready.
Now… with knots in his belly and the steamy sounds of Latin music playing with his head, he looked around for his rosy cheeked sweetheart. There, as the music played, time stopped. She smiled and he walked towards her, between the bodies in motion, the heated jungle gone wild. She was wearing jeans and a shiny halter. She was a vision. Her hair, naturally down, a little wild. Her eyes were expressive, sweet. Very little makeup. She didn’t need it. She bit her lip. He held out his hand for hers and pulled her through the vibrations of bodies cajoling as the sexy sounds paralyzed them in movement. She closed her eyes and let herself be led.
Ricardo did not disappoint. He had been dancing these tunes since the age of five. His Dad might have preferred cowboy boots and rodeos but Mom had made sure her son knew how to wiggle his waist and pull the ladies close. It was all to Lorain’s pleasure. He spun her around and pulled her close again, his right leg nestled between hers at times, shook their desires. Their mouths lingered softly together, never actually touching. An ebb of emotions toying with the biology heating their bodies. He was in big trouble. Maybe she was too.
They laughed and continued the rhythm for two more songs before he pulled her close one last time wanting so much to kiss her. They froze locking into each other. His eyes intense on hers. There was chaos, but that had settled into warmth between them. They were encapsulated by wild abandon of bodies performing, being moved by beats, enticing rhythms. He leaned in and…
“What the hell is going on here!” A tall male pulled him off Lorain in a fit of rage.
“Eric! What are you doing here?”
Ricardo was confused. He looked at him and then back at her. She didn’t seem like the type of person that would lie or play tricks. Who was this guy? How did she know him?
“I’m sorry. I’m with… who is this? Is this your boyfriend?” Ricardo uttered hesitantly.
“Yes! I’m her boyfriend! Who are you!”
“You are not my boyfriend! Ricardo! Don’t listen to him. Leave me alone Eric! I told you a million times. No!”
Ricardo was so confused. He looked at her and as he tried to convince himself to believe her, Eric took a punch at him knocking him down. Ricardo had only been in one fight in his life. Third grade, with Billy Robinson. He had taken his marbles for his own. Ricardo was not going to give up his marbles for anyone. Now… his pride, possibly, his love, were at stake. He jumped up and punched back. The dancing spread out as the two men rolled around on the floor. Lorain stricken with worry not knowing quite what to do, froze.
Eric stood up as he watched Ricardo wrenching in pain. He had kneed him in the crotch. Eric smiled. Lorain, however, walked up to him fiercely, slapped him in the face and kneed him strongly in the crotch. She knelt next to Ricardo providing support. Ricardo was in pain but looking at her by his side, he believed her. He jumped up and by the time he was about to be punched once more by Eric the bully, the bouncers had made their way through. Lorain clasped her hand in Ricardo’s. He looked at her and smiled as they took Eric out of the place. She caressed him.
That’s all it took and the dance continued for the rest of their lives.
© 2017 Mel Gutiér
That came out because I was listening to this.