Over the next six months Eva settled into the routine of the Blanco hacienda and her various roles: lover to Carmella and Juan, au pair to the children, and self-appointed eyewitness to the activity maintaining a multimillion-dollar illegal drug trade.
Every morning Eva ate breakfast with the family. The children would then go into the library until lunch time with the private tutor employed by the Blanco’s, Mrs. Hernandez. During those hours Eva was free to do as she pleased as long as she did not leave the property. After Mrs. Hernandez left for the day, Eva and the children would eat lunch and then Eva would accompany and supervise them the rest of the day. Most afternoons were spent at the pool, playing board games, or Eva reading aloud to them. At Eva’s suggestion, Carmella purchased a complete set of Nancy Drew books, and all three children delighted in Eva’s melodramatic renditions of the mysteries. Eva found she had a flair for entertaining the children and they, in turn, were quickly enchanted with her. Dinner was generally a lengthy affair. Carmella and Juan would converse with the children, anxious to know what they had learned in the morning and how they and Eva had occupied themselves in the afternoon. They would alternate between speaking English and Spanish to the children as the parents agreed they should be fluent in both languages. Eva found herself becoming familiar with Spanish. After dinner Eva was again free to do as she pleased at the hacienda unless the Blanco’s were going out for the evening. On those occasions, Eva would entertain the children until bedtime with games of hide-and-seek, made-up stories, paste and crayon projects, or television watching. The maid, Anna, would put the children to bed promptly at 9 p.m. every night. Anna never spoke to Eva, and the maid’s disapproval of her was obvious. After the children went to bed, Eva generally went to her room and read or napped until the Blanco’s would visit her between 11:00 p.m. and midnight four to five nights a week.
Carmella took complete charge of the sexual choreography in Eva’s bed. At times she would come alone to Eva’s room and Eva would gratify her seemingly insatiable sexual appetite for hours on end with fingers, tongues, toys, and contraptions. Other nights both Carmella and Juan would come to Eva’s room and all three of them would engage in passionate, intense, and obsessive sexual sport. However, Carmella unequivocally forbade Juan from ever visiting Eva alone. He could only enjoy her when Carmella was present. Occasionally, Carmella would allow Juan to fuck Eva by himself while she watched and stimulated herself, and then she and Juan would reverse roles. Most often, though, all three of them would be in the bed together with a highly excited Carmella eagerly directing the action.
At first, the sheer outrageous lust of the Blanco’s and their obsession with her terrified Eva. Even though she knew it was futile to refuse, in those early days her body inevitably stiffened with resistance. At those times Carmella would slap her or hold her by the throat, stare menacingly into her eyes and remind Eva that she needed to relax and cooperate if she wanted to live “to see the next dawn.” Eva, fighting back her tears, would nod and Carmella would smile warmly and kiss her tenderly on her face, eyelids, and lips.
Eva dreaded the occasions Carmella came to her room alone because they were the most degrading. Carmella would strip naked and then direct Eva to disrobe while she watched intently. Sitting close to Eva on the bed she would stare deeply into Eva’s eyes and then with the swiftness of a cobra slap Eva hard across the face. She repeated this ritual as many as a dozen times before beginning whatever sex play she had planned for them. Eva grasped that Carmella used the torture to arouse herself, and she seemed to delight in Eva’s tears as they welled up and began to flow down her cheeks.
Eventually, Eva taught herself how to relax and follow whatever plan Carmella had concocted for the evening. Eva became numb to the sex itself, but—to stay alive—she engaged avidly in the activity with the flair of an experienced whore. Eva reserved her best performances for Carmella alone, hoping it would buy her the sway and influence with Carmella that she wanted. Eva struggled against her despair, pain, and helplessness by focusing on pleasing Carmella. She alone held the key to unlocking the door of Eva’s luxurious prison. Eva loathed the Blanco’s as much as she feared them. Following their visits, Eva frequently went to her bathroom and vomited.
Eva discreetly observed the daily and weekly routines surrounding her. Most of the illegal drug smuggling commerce was handled over the phone in Carmella and Juan’s private office on the second floor. No one was allowed in the office with the exception of Anna who dusted and vacuumed each morning after breakfast under the watchful eye of Carmella. Every day, except Sunday, Carmella and Juan would leave the hacienda between 10:30 and 11:30 a.m., and they would return three to four hours later. Their limousine was always accompanied by two other vehicles, one preceding, one following. Riding in each of those vehicles were two to four armed men. Every Friday the limousine would return to the hacienda between 2:00 p.m. and 2:15 p.m. and drive directly into the stable. The stable boys would leave, close the stable doors, and wait outside smoking cigarettes for twenty or twenty-five minutes until the stable doors were again opened and the limousine backed out and returned to the garage. Carmella and Juan would then return to the main house and proceed directly to their office with Juan carrying two, large, black, heavy-looking duffel bags. Every Monday morning Juan would carry the same two duffel bags back out to the limousine where he would place them in the car’s trunk before he, Carmella, and their entourage of bodyguards would speed away.
One particular Monday morning, after the Blanco’s and their bodyguards had driven away and the children were with their tutor, Eva approached the stable. As she neared the barn, strong scents of hay and horse manure permeated the air. Looking around, seeing no one, she began opening the huge, wooden barn door.
“Yes?” she heard from inside.
“Hello,” she answered, struggling to urge the heavy door open.
A young, Hispanic man put down his pitchfork and walked slowly toward her. She guessed he was twenty-something years old; tall, thin, handsome with thick, wavy black hair. He had no mustache and his brown eyes were large and inquisitive. Behind him stood an older man with older, brown eyes that were wary. He had a bushy salt-and-pepper mustache that matched his hair color. The older man looked at the younger man and waited for him to take the lead.
“Can I help you?” the younger man asked her. His smile was tentative, but friendly.
“Hi.” She waved her hand just a bit and returned his smile. “My name is Eva. I work in the house for Mr. and Mrs. Blanco.”
“I know,” he said. “I’ve seen you at the pool with the little ones.”
Eva wondered if he had liked what he had seen of her. Eva wore revealing bikinis to the pool because that was the only style that Carmella had bought her.
“My name is Rafael,” he said. “Rafael Mena and this,” he gestured behind him, “is my papa. We tend the horses and take care of the barn.”
“Do you live nearby?” Eva asked.
He laughed. “We live in the loft,” he pointed upward over his shoulder. “It’s just the two of us, me and Papa.”
Eva was struck by the large, square bales of hay in the center of the barn—at least eight or nine of them—and the hay scattered all over the barn floor. Her gaze went to the loft, which was also strewn with hay. “You cook in here?” she asked, wondering how in the world that could be.
He shook his head no. “The Blanco’s let us eat in the kitchen; cook fixes us something at breakfast and supper.”
The blank stare on the old man’s face as he watched the two of them suggested to Eva that he understood very little English.
“May I ride one of the horses?” Eva asked him. “Mrs. Blanco told me it would be okay.”
“Sure,” he said, “I will bring you …” He paused. “You have ridden a horse before?”
“No, never,” said Eva, shrugging.
He laughed again. Eva liked his laugh, strong, masculine, honest. “Then I will bring you Molly. She’s very gentle, and I’d better ride along with you, yes?”
“Sure. Fine,” said Eva.
The old man said something to Rafael in Spanish, and Rafael responded curtly. Maybe the old man understood what they were saying after all, she thought. If he does, he doesn’t like it.
Rafael led the horse toward a block of wood, which she realized was meant for her to step on to mount the horse. Head lowered, the horse plodded toward the step without acknowledging Eva in the least. Rafael gestured for Eva to wait while he went back into the barn and brought out his horse, General Villa, a large, muscular, black stallion that stared at Eva with unmasked suspicion.
“This is the stirrup,” he said, holding it for her. “You put your foot in here and swing your leg over the horse’s back.”
After she had mounted Molly and patted her on the neck, Rafael gazed up at her. “You are very pretty,” he said shyly.
Eva blushed, wondering what had prompted that remark just then.
“Even more pretty than Helena.” He reddened as if he had surprised himself with that remark.
Eva said, “Helen, yes, I’ve heard Mrs. Blanco mention her. What happened to her? Where did she go?”
Rafael’s expression stiffened, and he immediately dropped his eyes. “I don’t know,” he said curtly. “Come we must go.” He walked quickly away and jumped on the back of his horse.