room wasn’t far from the circular stairway that led up to the second floor of the hacienda and because my door was still open, I could hear the voices below echoing up the walls, past the large paintings, and around the drapery. I could hear some joy in Señor Bovio’s voice. Someone who pleased him had arrived. At least mi tía Isabela hadn’t returned, I thought.
I was sure that in these past weeks and months, Señor Bovio did not laugh or smile very much. I recalled when I had first met him at my friend Fani Cordova’s home. Her parents were holding a fund-raising dinner for his senatorial campaign. It was there I had first met Adan as well. I remember thinking how alike they were, a father and son who were both handsome and charming. Abuela Anabela would have said, “De buena fuente, buena corriente. From a good spring, a good current.”
Adan had his father’s stature and his elegance. Señor Bovio looked as if he really should be a U.S. senator, someone who could be a protector of the less fortunate and less powerful. He reeked with confidence but not arrogance, and he had a smile that would calm a raging bull. Adan was more than reflection of all this to me. I could see he would grow into such a man himself. Even though he had lost his mother as I had lost mine and Señor Bovio had lost his beautiful wife, they looked solid, successful, and full of promise. Seated between them that night, I had felt safe and honored. How different now was the Señor Bovio who had brought me to his home. Sad and broken by Adan’s death, he was a shadow of himself, so any sound of happiness coming from his lips cheered me as well.
I heard footsteps on the stairway and rose from the love seat in anticipation, wondering who could be coming to visit me so soon after mi tía Isabela. Could it be Fani?
“Hola, Delia,” Señor Bovio said. “Did you enjoy your lunch? Isn’t Mrs. Newell a terrific and efficient nurse?”
He had changed into a light-blue sports jacket and was now wearing his trademark silk cravat. Seeing this resurrection of light and happiness in him, I didn’t want to start off with a complaint about the food or about Mrs. Newell, so I said, “Sí, señor. Gracias.”
A short elderly gentleman stood beside him, holding a large, flat briefcase.
“Good. This is Mr. Blumgarten. He has been my personal and my wife’s personal tailor for some time now.”
“More than twenty years,” Mr. Blumgarten proudly added. He had a small nose, beady dark eyes, and ears too large for his small, watermelon-shaped head with its thin, graying hair lying so flat it looked ironed on his skull. I didn’t think he was much taller than five feet four, with a slim, almost childlike body.
I nodded and waited to see what they wanted. Señor Bovio indicated that Mr. Blumgarten should enter the suite. They both came in, and Mr. Blumgarten put his large briefcase on the counter by the vanity table.
“I am employing Mr. Blumgarten to design and create some maternity clothing for you personally, Delia,” Señor Bovio began.
I looked at them with surprise. Personally designed maternity clothing? I had to smile, thinking about how Señora Díaz, our tailor back in my little Mexican village, would improvise with whatever a pregnant woman had in order to create so-called maternity outfits. Most of the time, it simply meant letting out waists.
“It’s a very serious thing,” Señor Bovio said sharply, so sharply it chased the smile off my face as quickly as a shout would frighten a sparrow. “Your maternity outfits must be soft to the touch and able to stretch. The outfits have to be light and breezy. A pregnant woman feels heat far more than a woman who is not pregnant. And you don’t want to wear anything that cuts into your circulation or binds and draws.”
Mr. Blumgarten nodded after every sentence Señor Bovio spoke, as if he were providing the periods.
“I have fabrics that contain Lycra,” Mr. Blumgarten said, smiling as proudly as a parent bragging about his children. “So they stretch and move with your body.”
“Exactly,” Señor Bovio added. “And he has very bright and attractive colors. I want you to look like a flower about to bloom and not like some faded rose. There must always be an air of health and vigor about you. It’s something our baby will sense.”
He paused to smile at Mr. Blumgarten, who instantly smiled himself, although I could see he had no idea why he should.
“I remember vividly how my wife felt when she was pregnant with Adan,” Señor Bovio continued, as if to justify his comments. “She went through a terrible period of depression, worrying that she looked ugly, deformed. There were weeks, months, even in the very beginning, when she wouldn’t step out of the house, terrified some paparazzi might snap photos of her and sell them to a magazine. If I didn’t start every day telling her how beautiful she still was, she would go into a sulk.
“And, as I said, don’t think these emotional and mental downturns have no effect on the baby you’re carrying. It’s another form of stress, and stress is unhealthy for you and for our baby. Just as people are healthier in a house full of happiness, a baby is surely healthier in the womb of a happy woman.”
I thought Mr. Blumgarten’s head would never stop bobbing.
“I understand, and I am grateful for your concern, señor,” I said.
“Sí. Good. Mr. Blumgarten,” he said, turning to the tailor, “we need clothing immediately.”
“I’ll get right on it today, Mr. Bovio. By the end of the day tomorrow, she will have her first outfit.”
“Outfits,” Señor Bovio corrected.
“Absolutely. Without delay,” Mr. Blumgarten said.
Señor Bovio stepped back, and Mr. Blumgarten opened his briefcase and spread the fabric samples out, smiling at me to invite me to come choose what I liked. I glanced at Señor Bovio, who nodded and smiled as well.
“Just feel this material,” Mr. Blumgarten said. I did, and I had to admit it was all so soft.
“Don’t make her skirts too short,” Señor Bovio ordered, and left us.
Mr. Blumgarten showed me some styles and then took measurements. When he grazed my breasts with his knuckles, he immediately blushed and apologized.
“Well, now, I…that is,” he said, stammering, “I don’t think you’re going to show too much until your sixth or seventh month, but we’ll allow for it, especially…” He nodded at my bosom. “Of course, Mr. Bovio wants me back to redo or add to your wardrobe every three weeks.”