Delia's Gift (Delia 3) - Page 36

“We have a perfect day, almost no humidity. My father calls these days ‘dry heaven,’” she told Mrs. Newell, who just stared at her as if she were from another planet.

She then pulled herself together and proceeded to dictate what foods were restricted and what were not. She emphasized the danger of smoke and alcoholic beverages and left Fani with the warning that I was now her responsibility.

“I think Delia is old enough to take care of herself, Mrs. Newell,” Fani told her.

“I doubt she would be in the condition she is in if that were so. You should take a lesson yourself,” Mrs. Newell countered, smirked, and turned to walk away.

Fani rolled her eyes. “Where did Ray find her? Death row in some women’s penitentiary?”

I laughed and followed her out. She had a brand-new ruby Mercedes convertible with the top down. It brought back memories of the car Edward had bought me before all hell broke loose after our trip to Mexico. It was one of the first things Tía Isabela had gotten rid of following our return. Once, I thought, I was on top of the world. I had a beautiful car, beautiful clothes, and a palace in which to live. Mi tía Isabela was actually getting to like me, or at least I thought she was.

“Isn’t it a beautiful car?” Fani asked, pausing for both of us to look at it. “Daddy bought it for me last month. I call it a ‘guilt gift’—his guilt, of course. But you know me, Delia. I’ll take whatever I can get any way I can get it. La caridad empieza en casa y luego se traslada a los vecinos, no?”

She was telling me that the best charity begins at home and then moves on to the neighbors. I had heard the saying before, but mi abuela Anabela ha

d told me it was just an excuse for selfishness.

Fani saw the disapproval in my face. “Oh, stop being such a goody-goody, Delia. Have some fun, damn it. You’ve been locked away with Nurse Diablo too long.”

I did laugh at that and got into her new car. It was so plush inside I thought I was wrapped in soft leather.

“It’s so hard being me,” Fani kidded, “but someone has to do it.”

We took off, driving too quickly down to the gate, I’m sure. I was also sure she was doing it just for Mrs. Newell’s benefit. We both knew she was watching from some front window. The guard gave Fani a disapproving look and took his time opening the gate, but she threw him a kiss and shot out the moment he had done so. I screamed, and she laughed.

“Edward is already there waiting eagerly for you,” she told me when we calmed down.

“I thought you weren’t going to tell him.”

“I wasn’t, but I was afraid he wouldn’t come. He was hemming and hawing and searching for one excuse after another until I mentioned your name.”

My heart started to race faster than the car.

“He came directly from college, so his mother doesn’t even know he’s in the desert,” she continued. “Don’t look so worried,” she said, glancing at me. “My house isn’t exactly visible or accessible to anyone we don’t want it to be visible or accessible to, Delia. You couldn’t ask for a more private location.”

“I know. It still makes me very nervous. I can’t help it. You don’t know mi tía Isabela. Nothing enrages her more than not being obeyed or not getting what she wants. She can make trouble for you, too.”

“Me?” Fani laughed. “If she starts with me, she’ll be sorry.”

“I don’t want anyone to start with anyone,” I said.

Edward’s car was parked in front of Fani’s family home. It wasn’t immediately visible when we entered the property. She was right about that, because the driveway was so long.

“You haven’t seen each other for quite a while, have you?” Fani asked. She looked almost as excited about Edward and me meeting as I did.

“It has been a long time, yes,” I said.

She pulled up behind his car.

“Okay. He’s cloistered in my bedroom, away from the servants and any other inquisitive eyes.”

I followed her into the house. One of the maids glanced our way but hurried off quickly.

Fani smiled. “They don’t like me. I’m always asking them to do something else,” she said. “It keeps them out of my hair.”

We went up the stairway to the wing of the hacienda that was practically all hers. Her bedroom, like mine at the Bovio hacienda, had a sitting room with an entertainment center. When we stepped into the suite, I saw Edward sitting and watching television. The moment he saw us, he stood up and smiled at me.

“Hi, Delia. How are you?”

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