“Buenos dias,” Felicia said with her playful childlike enthusiasm. She tucked herself into Aaron’s arms and reached up to kiss him on the cheek. He was tempted to lean down and kiss her lips to return the good morning salutation but reminded himself they were too early in their budding relationship to go that far.
“How are you this morning?” Aaron asked in Spanish. He was getting more comfortable with his new bilingual environment and predicted he’d be fluent in Spanish before he climbed on a plane to return to the States. He pulled her into a full hug in response to her smile.
“I’m good.” Felicia pulled herself back from his arms and nodded toward her aunt. “This is my aunt Kisa. She wanted to come meet you. Kisa is my mother’s youngest sister so she is not related to you.”
“Pleasure to meet you,” Aaron said, reaching out a hand. “These are my brothers, Hayden and Owen. And this is our local guide, Joab. He will be our driver and companion for the duration of our stay.” Aaron pulled Joab closer to shake Kisa’s hand.
“I hope you’ll stay a long time.” Kisa’s sultry Spanish voice was more mature than Felicia’s and she looked Joab up and down with a subtle message of interest. Aaron re-evaluated his original assessment of her age to be closer to thirty. Perfect. Perhaps she’d want to come along on some of their adventures.
“Have you eaten?” Felicia asked. “My mother always has food.”
“We ate at the hotel,” Aaron told her. “Breakfast was complimentary with our suites.”
“What is a suite?” Felicia creased her brow.
“A suite is usually larger than a hotel room and has a living room, plus a bedroom, and sometimes a kitchen,” Aaron explained.
“All that space for just the four of you?”
“Well, no”—Aaron gulped— “We had three suites between the four of us because two of the suites had more than one bed. And we each wanted our own… bed.”
“A whole bed by yourself?” Felicia asked. “That seems like a waste of space.”
Aaron was growing uncomfortable with this conversation. “Well, we paid for all the space.”
“I can think of more important ways to give away money.” She seemed completely serious, as if she were averse to the idea of paying for something unnecessary.
“You’re probably right.” Aaron cleared his throat.
Owen stepped up beside Aaron and draped an arm over his shoulder. “Maybe we should get a smaller hotel room tonight.”
“I’m not sharing a bed with you,” Aaron said quietly in English through clenched teeth.
“I’ll share a bed with—” Owen answered in a similar fashion and gulped. “—Hayden.”
“Why do I have to be the one to share a bed?” Hayden asked.
“Did I mention—” Felicia’s aunt Kisa said in perfect English. “—that I attended college at the University of Arizona?”
“You hadn’t mentioned that.” Aaron gulped and met her gaze. “What was your major?”
“K-12 education with a concentration in English as a second language.” Kisa folded her arms and smirked.
“That… is an honorable career choice.” Aaron pulled at his collar.
“I agree.” Kisa pulled Felicia closer. “That’s why I’ve been teaching my family how to speak English, particularly my young niece here who thinks this hot guy from America is going to marry her someday.”
Aaron started coughing and Hayden laughed so hard he snorted.
“Here, I’ll get you a water bottle from the refrigerator,” Joab said, ducking into the back of the limo and returning with a cold bottle, which Aaron took gratefully.
Aaron thought quickly about a way to save face on this conversation. He looked right into Felicia’s eyes. “Shall we just go ring shopping today then?”
All of them laughed and the ice was broken. Dodged that bullet.
“How about a tour of my city instead?” Felicia asked with a grin, switching back to Spanish.
“Sounds wonderful.” He followed her lead and resumed her native tongue, assuming she hadn’t learned enough English yet to feel comfortable speaking long term.
“Would you like me to drive?” Joab held open the door to his limousine. “I can wait until after lunch to go pick up my Highlander.”
“You have a Highlander?” Kisa asked, taking a step closer to Joab. “I’ve always wanted to go off roading in one of those.”
“I could take you sometime,” Joab said, breathless like he’d been smitten by her charm.
“That would be great,” Kisa said with a subdued excitement. “Could I sit up front with you? We can let these kids sit in the back.”
Joab seemed to forget he was holding the door for his financier and strode to the front of the limo and opened the passenger door for Kisa.
“Why thank you, Senor,” she said, slipping into the leather seat. “Ooh, fancy.”
“Thank you.” Joab sighed with a cheesy grin then shook off his stupor and hurried to the back door. Before Aaron and Felicia entered the car, Joab asked, “Where are we heading?”
“Well, around town would be an easy answer,” Felicia answered, continuing in Spanish. “But I promised Aaron I would tell him about my frustration with the people of Belize so I think we should drive up to El Pilar to see the Mayan reservation.”
“We have to drive into Belize to get there.” Joab hesitated. “I thought you didn’t want to go to Belize.”
“This is too important.” Felicia lifted her chin, one of the few times her features were firm and resolute.
“Maybe we should wait until after I pick up my Highlander,” Joab suggested. “El Pilar is up in the hills and the roads might be impassible with the limo.”
“Good point.” Felicia sighed. “Okay, around town then.”
They all climbed in and Joab slowly pulled the limo away from the Cohen’s home and wound his way down from the residential neighborhoods into the city.
There was nothing beautiful or impressive about Melchor de Mencos but Felicia pointed out this and that marketplace, church building, or restaurant.
Aaron held her hand and tried to pay attention. But what he really wanted was to hear more about the Mayan reservation. Maybe after lunch they could take a walk and she could tell him the story without any distractions.
Finally they made their way back up to her house under the auspices of hunger and the need to use the bathroom.
Felicia’s mother, Yris, had food ready for them and they enjoyed a hearty afternoon meal. Then Joab took off to Flores to pick up his Highlander and promised to be back in time for dinner, upon Yris’ insistence.
After Joab was gone and the kitchen was cleaned, Aaron asked Felicia if she would like to introduce him to her pet goat out back.
Thankfully, Owen and Hayden took the hint that they weren’t invited because they made excuses about staying inside where there was shade and little cousins to play games with.
Aaron held Felicia’s hand all the way back to the pasture where Lui was happily crunching on grasses. She held him by the harness so Aaron could pet the goat. They were in full view of the house which meant they had plenty of chaperones, but no one could hear their conversation. Aaron petted Lui and asked the question that had been hanging between them for almost twenty-four hours.
“Tell me about El Pilar and Belize.”