Atypical Heiress: The Penelope Marino Story

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SIX

“Lupe hurry up! She’s waiting for us!”

I groaned as I finished lacing my sneakers and grabbed my keys. “Why do we have to do this?”

“Because Gabi needs help.”

“Let me rephrase. Why do I have to do this? I don’t even like the girl,” I said, wrinkling my nose in distaste.

“You only don’t like her because you’re a snob.”

“Alicia!” I exclaimed. “I am not a snob!”

“You most certainly are,” she said as we climbed into her town car and the driver pulled away from the curb. “Gabi is the sweetest person I know and I know you’d love her if you took the time to get to know her.”

“Unlikely,” I replied looking out the window. “I don’t like anyone.”

A few minutes later, we arrived at a towering apartment building not too far from where I lived. The entire elevator ride, Alicia gushed about the infamous Gabi and how funny and nice she was.

It wasn’t that I didn’t like Gabi per se; She was nice enough. I just didn’t like how close she was with my best friend. I had met her at Alicia’s wedding and was surprised at how well they got on even though they had only known each other for a few months. I suppose I should have been happy that Alicia got along with the woman her brother was dating but I couldn’t help being jealous.

Alicia squealed as the door swung open and she enveloped Gabi in a hug. When they separated, my eyes widened in shock.

Gabi laughed. “I’m assuming you didn’t tell Penelope I was pregnant, Alicia.”

“It completely slipped my mind,” Alicia said with a smirk in my direction.

“Liar. You just wanted to see how I’d react,” I replied.

“Please, come on in ya’ll,” Gabi said with a smile.

I wanted to vomit at her use of the word ‘ya’ll’. How common.

“What do you think of the apartment?” Gabi asked as we followed her into the living room.

“It’s beautiful Gabs!” Alicia gushed.

Ugh. Gag me.

“It’s alright,” I said, folding my arms across my chest. “If I had known you and Ryan were moving here I could have asked if there were any vacancies in my building.”

Alicia shot me a disapproving look. “It’s lovely Gabi, really. It looks even better than the pictures Ryan showed me.”

I rolled my eyes. “So what do we need to get done? I do have other things to do tonight.”

Gabi raised an eyebrow but ignored my comment. “Mostly everything is done; The movers were really great. I just need help unpacking my clothes.”

“So we’re going to be here all night?” Alicia teased.

“Maybe if we were unpacking your clothes! You know I don’t have that many clothes.”

“I know, I know! We’re going to have to change that though. Shopping trip!”

“Can we get started?” I interjected.

“Is there a problem?” Gabi asked me, placing her hands on her hips. “Because this little attitude of yours is not working for me.”

I blinked at her in shock. No one had ever called me out for being rude before. And now I had been chastised twice in one week. I saw Alicia fighting back laughter out of the corner of my eye.

I swallowed my pride with great difficulty and shook my head. “No. Sorry. I’m probably just PMSing.”

“Okay great!” Alicia said with a brilliant smile. “I just know we’re all going to be the best of friends by the time this is over.

Gabi was wearing the same skeptical expression I was. At least we could agree on something.

An hour later, we had finished unpacking all of Gabi’s clothes into her closet and were sitting on the couch looking for something to watch on Netflix.

“You weren’t kidding when you said you didn’t have a lot of clothes,” I commented as she turned on The Office.

“I only brought a few non-maternity clothes from Texas. By the time I have the baby, it’ll be winter here so I’ll need to buy new clothes anyway.”

“I can’t wait for you to have this baby,” Alicia gushed, rubbing Gabi’s stomach lovingly.

“Do you know what you’re having?” I asked.

“Nope. Ryan wants to be surprised.”

Alicia rolled her eyes. “He’s so irritating. There’s no way I’ll be able to stand the suspense.”

“You’ll live,” Gabi said with a laugh.

They talked for a few minutes while I contemplated my next move in the search for my mother. I chewed on my thumbnail and stared out of the large window next to me.

“Penelope? Penelope are you okay?”

“What?” I shook myself from my thoughts and looked over to see Gabi peering at me curiously.

“Are you alright? You kind of zoned out for a minute there.”

“Oh yeah. Sorry. Just thinking about stuff from work.”

She nodded and turned back to the television. I looked around and noticed that Alicia was missing.

“Where’s Alicia?”

“She’s out on the terrace. She had to take a call.”

“Oh.”

“Are you sure you’re okay?” Gabi asked again after a moment. “I know I’m not your favorite person, but I’m a good listener.”

I hesitated for only a moment before divulging all of the events of the last week to my cousin’s girlfriend.

“That’s some serious shit,” she said, rubbing her baby bump. “What’s the plan?”

“Plan?”

“Yeah. How are you going to find your mother?”

“Uh, I haven’t really figured one out yet. We kind of reached a dead end with the case worker.”

“Not necessarily,” Gabi replied with a shrug. “What about a private investigator? It could be costly but could yield faster results.”

“Why didn’t I think of that?!” Alicia exclaimed as she walked back into the room.

I smirked at her. “I don’t know Leesh. Maybe you’re not such a good best friend after all.”

She stuck her tongue out at me as she slipped on her shoes. “Shut up Lupe.”

“Where are you going?” Gabi asked.

Alicia groaned. “Someone deleted the track I recorded yesterday so I have to go back into the studio and re-record. And right after that, I’m on a flight to Amsterdam to start shooting my next music video.”

“How long will you be gone this time?” I asked, trying not to be sad that she was leaving again.

“I don’t know. Could be a couple of days, maybe a few weeks. I’ll have some time off around the holidays for sure. It’s my first year as wife; I refuse to be off on tour and away from my family.”

“Not to mention the fact that your father’s getting married in November,” Gabi pointed out.

Alicia scowled. “I was trying to forget about that! Anyway, I really must be off,” she said leaning down to give Gabi a hug. “Are you coming Lupe?”

I looked over at Gabi with a timid smile. “I think I’d like to hang out here for a while longer, if it’s okay with you?”

Her face lit up. “Of course! I’m glad to have the company.”

“I knew you two would get along if Lupe could stop being a bitch for half a second,” Alicia said with a grin before heading out, leaving Gabi and I in a fit of giggles.

Before I knew it, Gabi and I had formulated a legitimate plan of action to find my long lost mother. We had done extensive research and found three P.I.s that looked like they could help me. I was going to call them the next day.

We spent the rest of the afternoon and into the evening getting to know one another and as much as I hated to admit it, Alicia was right; Gabi was great. After ordering pizza, we curled up on the couch together to watch a movie. The next thing I knew, Ryan was shaking me awake.

“Lupe? Why don’t you go lay down in the guest room?”

I yawned as I stretched and shook my head. “No, I’d better go home. I’ve got a long day tomorrow. But thank you.”

“At least let me take you home,” Ryan pleaded with me.

“I can just call my driver--”

“I’m taking you home, Penelope. And that’s final.”

I scowled at him as Gabi stirred on the couch next to me.

“Coño, Ryan. Let the girl call her driver if she wants to. She’s a grown woman.”

Ryan sighed resignedly. “Fine.”

Gabi sat up and smiled at her boyfriend. “Babe, can you get me a glass of water?”

He practically sprinted from the room to complete the task.

“Thank you, Gabi,” I said, quietly. “For everything. Can I ask that you don’t involve Ryan in this?”

Gabi snorted. “Don’t worry chica. I hadn’t planned on it. That man can’t hold water.”

I frowned. “I’m not familiar with that phrase.”

“It’s southern for ‘he’s a terrible gossip’.”

We both dissolved into a fit of giggles as Ryan came back into the room.

“What’s so funny?”

“Oh nothing,” Gabi said smoothly. “We were just making plans to meet up next week. Bye Penelope!”

“Will we not see you at the summer summit this weekend?” Ryan asked as he walked me to the door.

“I’m not sure yet,” I answered honestly. “But I’ll keep you posted.”

“Okay,” Ryan said with a smile wrapping me in a warm embrace. “Love you, cugina.”

“You too, Ry,” I replied.

I was just settling in bed when my phone dinged with a text notification.

Sorry to bother you so late Lupita, but we never agreed on a restaurant for lunch tomorrow. Let me know if you have a preference.

Brett

My heart skipped a beat, seeing his message flash across my screen and I replied quickly.

Why don’t we meet at my office and we can decide then?

Sounds good to me :)

Just out of curiosity, how did you get my phone number?

Wouldn’t you like to know ;p

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