Eva wept soundlessly while Rafael held her in his arms gently kissing her temples and smelling her hair. Through her tears she stared at the abandoned well that was now Helen’s tomb and the squirrel stared back at her like a solitary standing sentry.
From the loft in the barn where he slept Rafael had heard the screams that night, he told Eva. He had crept outside to check and saw Juan with two other men dragging Helen into the limousine; she was screaming “I won’t tell, I’ll never tell! Leave me be; I won’t tell anyone!” Rafael watched Juan punch hard into the car and the screaming stopped abruptly. Rafael had followed on General Villa at a distance, and when he saw the car’s taillights he tied the horse to a tree and crept forward on foot. Juan was holding a machete and watching as the two men dropped body parts into the well. Then the men took several ten-pound bags of lye from the trunk of the car, opened them, and poured those down the well.
Rafael had vomited all over his own shoes before sprinting back to his horse and hiding in the brush until the car drove away. “I was shaking all over,” he said. “I waited a long time before riding back to the barn.”
“But why,” said Eva, wiping tears away, “why did they kill her?”
“Cook told us weeks later that Anna told her that Carmella had made Helen go away because he had taken her … in bed … you know.” He blushed and Eva loved him for it.
“Yes, I know,” she said, appreciating his innocence. “Someday they will kill me like that, Rafael. I will just disappear and you will never see me again.” Eva watched his face harden like granite.
“I will kill them if they ever harm you,” he said. “I will kill them both if they ever touch even a hair on your head.”
Eva turned her face upward and he kissed her firmly on the lips.
Eva and Rafael met whenever they could. They would ride or take a walk or hide in the loft. The kissing quickly led to passion; the caressing to fondling; and the touching to fingering. Rafael was a virgin and he desperately wanted to have intercourse with Eva.
“No, Rafael,” I can’t get pregnant,” she told him, hating the pathetic longing she saw in his face.
Eva enjoyed stroking Rafael and then taking him into her mouth and satisfying him that way. She wanted that to be enough for him, for now. She taught Rafael how to use his tongue to satisfy her by sucking her nipples and licking her mound, her thighs, and her clitoris until she climaxed.
The same sexual acts that she dreaded at the hands of the Blanco’s were sweet, breathtaking, and electrifying with Rafael. But, Eva realized, she and Rafael could not continue hiding in secret this way, nor could they come forward. Carmella would kill them both if she found out, and the longer they continued the more likely that was. It was only a matter of time before Carmella would catch them together and unleash a jealous, fatal fury of revenge on them.
“We have to find a way to leave here,” Eva said one morning. They strolled along the trail, leading General Villa and Molly behind them.
Rafael stopped walking; he looked stunned. “I can’t leave here.”
“Why not?” asked Eva.
“I can’t leave my father here alone. They will kill him.”
Eva hadn’t considered that. “We’ll take him with us,” she said immediately.
Rafael shook his head. “He will not leave. He’s too stubborn and too old.”
“You must convince him, Rafael,” Eva said, taking his hand in hers. “He can’t want you to go on living here like this for the rest of your life, can he?”
“I don’t know,” he answered, guardedly. “It is our life and my father does not want to do anything that might anger Carmella. She will kill my mother. Every night, for many minutes, my father stares at the picture of my mother that he has before going to sleep. Sometimes I see the tears in his eyes, still, after all this time.”
“All the more reason to take him with us,” Eva argued. “If we’re free we might be able to find them; free them too.” She squeezed his hand and gazed entreatingly into his soft, brown eyes.
“I don’t want to lose you,” Rafael said, kissing her cheek.
Eva smiled. “Me too,” she said. “Your father can ride one of the horses, right?”
“Not far, not fast,” he said, shaking his head. “He’s too old now.”
“Then we’ll take our time,” Eva said. Moving closer, she encircled Rafael with both arms and placed her head on his chest.
Rafael stared into the distance, his expression firm. “I don’t think we should ride horses,” he said firmly. “They will just find us and bring us back.”
Eva looked up at him, puzzled. “We can’t just walk away,” she said. “Are you saying we should steal one of the cars?”
“No,” he said, resolutely, “we should use the tunnel.”
Eva took a step back and scrutinized his face. “Tunnel? What tunnel?”
“The tunnel hidden under the bales of hay in the barn,” he said calmly.