“I don’t want any cheap imitation materials,” Señor Bovio emphasized. “Exercise is important. You’re going to do a lot of walking, I’m sure, and I don’t want to see you get any blisters.”
“Oh, we have specially designed walking shoes for pregnant women, too,” Mark Corbet said. He looked up at me. “May I?”
I nodded, and he slipped off my shoes and began taking foot measurements.
“No swelling. That’s good,” he said, smiling at me. He held my foot tenderly.
“Get on with it,” Señor Bovio ordered.
“Yes, yes. I’m no obstetrician,” he said as he measured, “but wearing maternity support hose helps support tired leg muscles, too. We sell that, of course.”
“Sí, she’ll have that,” Señor Bovio said. “You’ll bring it all with the pairs of shoes.”
It suddenly occurred to me that Señor Bovio was having everyone come to the hacienda rather than have me taken to the shops. Even if he didn’t intend for it to happen, I was in danger of becoming as spoiled as Tía Isabela and especially my cousin Sophia. Señor Bovio stood by and watched Mark Corbet complete his measurements and then suggest some styles and colors for my maternity shoes. I really didn’t believe it mattered very much, but I made choices to get it over with as quickly as possible. He promised, as Mr. Blumgarten had, to put a priority on everything and return quickly.
When Señor Bovio emphasized that cost was no concern and that he was sure we would need different shoes as my pregnancy evolved, Mark Corbet almost fell over himself in his excitement.
“I’ll get right on all this, Mr. Bovio,” he said, and then turned to me. “Any problems with anything, you just holler.”
“She won’t have to. I will,” Señor Bovio said sternly, and led him out so quickly he barely had time to squeeze in a good-bye.
I sat back to catch my breath. Nutritionist, private maternity nurse, private tailor and shoemaker, doctor who would make house calls—who else would Señor Bovio bring to my room? A hair stylist? Maybe a dentist for an initial checkup? Nothing would surprise me now, I thought, and laughed at how amazed mi abuela Anabela would be if she could see all of this.
Once again, I started downstairs, intending to take a short walk around the hacienda. When I stepped out, I was surprised at how warm it had gotten. It was difficult to go far. I went around the hacienda to look more closely at the pool. It was a bigger pool than Tía Isabela’s, and it was oval in shape. The lounges had been set out with towels, as if Señor Bovio had a houseful of guests. A young Mexican man was vacuuming the pool. He wore a wide-brimmed sombrero and was shirtless, in a pair of knee-length white shorts and sandals. He glanced at me but quickly returned to his work as I drew closer.
“Buenos días,” I said, and he smiled and nodded.
“Buenos días,” he replied, and paused to take a better look at me. “I will have everything ready in a moment, señorita.”
“That’s all right. I’m not going swimming today. Why are all the lounges prepared? Are there guests expected?”
He looked toward the hacienda before replying. “Every day, the lounges are prepared,” he said. “For as long as I’ve been here, I have been told to put them out in the morning and then take them in early in the evening. Most of the time, nothing is used.” He smiled and shrugged.
“How long have you worked here?”
“Tres años…three years. I work with my brother. Sometimes, he comes here and I go somewhere else.” He looked back at the hacienda. “You are Señor Bovio’s guest?”
“I was told he had a guest who was una muchacha hermosa. I was told the truth,” he said, smiling.
“Gracias,” I said, feeling myself blush. I quickly went around to a lounge. Once there, I unbuttoned my blouse a bit. He continued to smile at me and then returned to his work.
I loved hearing the compliment. It had been a while since I could even think of myself as attractive, but I didn’t feel like a beautiful young woman. At the moment, I felt like a lost young woman.
I closed my eyes for a few moments and enjoyed the soft breeze that carried the scents coming from the well-manicured gardens. In a day or so, I’d go swimming, I thought. I imagined I could find a bathing suit of Señora Bovio’s that would fit. Swimming, like walking, would be good exercise for me now.
Finally relaxing, I casually looked about the enormous property. Trees had been planted to the north and south in front of the high stone walls marking the boundaries of Señor Bovio’s estate. There were two tennis courts nearby, and way off toward the western boundary of the property, I saw the horse-training track and the stables.
It all reminded me of that first night at Fani Cordova’s house. I closed my eyes again, remembering. Fani had taken Adan and me around her family’s property in a golf cart, and she and Adan had had an amusing argument about who was richer, who had more. I recalled Fani’s mentioning the horses when Adan pointed out that her father had a helicopter. It seemed like just yesterday. I couldn’t help but smile, recalling how happy and optimistic we three were once. It seemed as if the world were opening endless opportunities for all of us to pursue. It was hard not to fall in love with ourselves.
“What are you doing?” I heard, and opened my eyes to see Señor Bovio standing over me. He had shocked me out of my pleasant musing.
He gazed at the young pool man, who immediately began to rush through his work and gather his tools.
“Just resting, señor,” I replied. “Getting some fresh air and walking, too.”