“Fuck! This is not happening.” Another waste of perfectly good ingredients. No matter how much training she had undergone, she just couldn’t cook to save her life. And she had been practicing for months.
“Language, mi hija,” a beautiful lady beside her cluck her tongue in a motherly fashion.
Angelina grinned. “Sorry.” She mumbled.
“In Spanish, Angelina.” The woman beside her kept reminding her every damn time she switched to English.
Yeah. Right. “Lo siento, tia.” (I’m sorry, aunt.)
She nodded in approval. “Bueno.” (Good.) “Hacer otro lote de tortillas, por pabor.”
Okay. Make another batch of tortillas. “Si.” She had to make sure to repeat the words in her head several times to interpret them in English for her to understand.
The breezy air surrounding her made her shiver. It was early morning and she was up, ready to assist Juanita, a woman who took her in at her lowest point.
She and her husband, Tio, were the trusted caretaker of a vast hacienda. There were a lot of servants, field workers, and men guarding the beautiful fertile land.
Angelina had fallen in love with the place as soon as she set eyes on its majestic glory. Lush mountain surrounding a flat terrain with a natural water resource. Perfect for the countryside hacienda.
Though she was still recovering from a gunshot wound at the time, this place had become her haven. And the couple who took her in were her saviors.
Tia Juanita had treated her like a daughter. Teaching her all the ways to blend it. How to fathom her blending in with her burnished blond hair and blue-violet eyes, she didn’t know. She had developed a nice tan but she still stood out like a sore thumb.
No one had treated her differently though. As soon as her guardian announced she was her niece, under their protection, everyone welcomed Angelica with open arms.
“Siempre habla en nuestro idioma, Angélica. El Patron detesta a extrañas en su tierra.” (Always speak in our language, Angelica. El Patron detests strangers on his land.)
“Si, tia.” El Patron. Everyone she knew seemed to fear the old man. Fear out of respect. She had never met him and every day she was growing curious. Would he be like Tio? A fatherly figure? “¿Cuándo volverá a casa?” (When is he coming home?)
“No me corresponde decirlo. Quiero que te mantengas alejado de él. Por favor.” (It’s not for me to say. I want you to stay clear of him. Please.)
“Okay, Juanita.” But why? Surely, El Patron was a kind, old man. Angelica shrugged her shoulders. Better to heed her aunt’s warning. She didn’t want to get into trouble. All she wanted was to fully recover, along with her memories so she will know where to go. Her family must be so worried about her. She was too.
She needed to find herself. And as much as she had come to love this place, she knew she was in danger before the lovely couple had taken her under their wings. She didn’t want to bring trouble to their doorstep.
Angelica was waiting for the day to leave this place so she could search for her family.
“All I know is El Patron will be coming home soon. So we must be prepared. And it would be better if he didn’t see you.”
“What about his family?” Odd, no small children were running around the estate.
“He has no family. He wants it that way. No more question, si?” Angelica nodded. She knew it was none of her business.
All she had to do was recuperate, earn some money then go. It was not her place to be overly curious about the mysterious El Patron.
The mid-afternoon heat made her want to jump to the nearest and coolest river in the area. Or better yet the impressive sunken pool at the mansion. Its Spanish elaborate grandeur might have intimidated anyone but not her. She knew she had seen places, she was confident of that.
Angelica knew a lot of things except her true identity. Expelling an exasperated breath, she covered her unusual blue-violet eyes from the harsh glare of the sun.
This afternoon, all she wanted was to feel refreshed. Submerge in a cool crystal blue water and forget her anxieties.
But it’s forbidden, Angelica.
She grimaced. True. Juanita had explicitly forbidden her to explore some places inside the house. Especially, the El Patron’s wing. Never knowing the reason made her curious. No one was about. Maybe she could venture out to pass the time?
Nah. It’s not worth the risk. She bit her lips then shook her head. Nope, not doing it. Stop tempting me! Черт побери! (Damn shit!)
Stunned, she looked around. It was her. She actually cursed in her head in another language. Apparently, she could speak several of them.
Discovering her numerous abilities had given her hope. She couldn’t tell Juanita. They would worry and she didn’t want that.
French and Russian were easy for her. Was she KGB? When she had observed the men patrolling the premises, their stance, and their hidden strength, she also found out she knew guns. What year the rifles were manufactured, how deadly and accurate each design could be. And most importantly, she knew how to handle them. Big or small, it doesn’t matter.
A sennight ago, she had found a treasure trove, a gym near the outpost. It looked more like a training ground, so at dawn, she would sneak from her room, located at the back of the house, and took advantage of its amenities.
Imagine her surprise when she suddenly discovered she knew Krav Maga and mixed martial arts. And she had the strength to exercise for hours. Until her flesh trembled and she was gasping for breath.
Who had trained her? Maman? She could not remember. Maman. Mother.
If her instinct was right, she had left her mother and by now she must be so worried about her missing daughter.
Angelina blinked back tears, whoever Maman was, she missed her a lot. Does she have a sister? A brother? Bestfriends? A boyfriend?
There was this empty part of her brain that needed to be filled. She needed to know. Her name was not Angelina. Tia Juanita had baptized her the moniker because she looked like an angel. Her words, not mine.
She snorted her disbelief. Knowing dangerous things did not make her a warrior of God. She was borne for something else.
And she was definitely not an angel. Far from it. Restlessness consumed her. She craved an outlet or time would come she would scream out her frustrations to the heavens.
Looking at the horizon, she felt tears dripped down her cheeks.
Who am I? What is my name?
“I’ve been searching for you, hija.” Gentle admonishment clouded Tia’s voice.
Angelica knew she had been gone for hours. She had actually braved the few kilometers of thick trees and went swimming in the cold river. She even found a picturesque cottage.
She mentally reminded herself to clean the place to make it her own. It seemed years since someone occupied the place. “I went swimming.”
Switching back to Spanish was a bit difficult. Out of respect for Juanita, she did.
With a heavy sigh, her guardian looked at her. “Please tell me next time so I won’t have to worry. I was about to ask your Tio to assemble a search party.”
Her words placed a smile on Angelica’s lips. She knew how much they cared for her. “I won’t tell you all my secrets. Some things should be left in dark.” She answered cheekily. Wiggling her delicate eyebrows.
“Dios Mio! You and your teasing. Freshen up. We will have dinner in an hour. Go!” The handsome woman shooed her away with both hands. Giggling, the blond angelic beauty bussed her guardian’s flushed cheek before twirling away.
“Alright. See you in a few, Tia Juanita.”
Refreshed and in high spirits, wearing a comfortable off the shoulder pale blue blouse and a flowing white skirt, she glided cheerfully in the dining room.
Angelica stopped. Her eyes huge, she watched, dumbfounded at the heated argument coming from the table.
This was the first time she saw Juanita and Ramon arguing. “Que pasa? Tia? Tio?”
Silence. They looked like deers caught by the headlights.
“Nothing, hija!” The beautiful Mexican woman dismissed her question. And Ramon was bobbing his head in agreement. She might have amnesia but she was not stupid.
Something was amiss alright. There was a tense feeling around them. Swirling and tightening like a noose.
“You can’t lie to me. You should tell me now so I will know what to do.” Slowly, with enate grace, she crossed the room and sat on her usual place at the table. Though it was not the formal dining area nor the open space of the enchanting breakfast nook, the area they were currently using for their everyday meal was still an elegant vision. State of the art kitchen amenities, imported ceramic tiles, chandeliers, and a long mahogany table.
Her table napkin draped perfectly on her thighs, serene smile in place, she glanced at her companions. Waiting. Brow arched.
Angelica had no idea how much she had resembled her powerful Maman just then. “Well?” She prodded.
Juanita almost jumped from her seat. Her chocolate brown eyes darted from the angelic beauty and her esposo. “El Patron. He is coming home.” She announced in a trembling voice.
“Oh.” Черт побери! (Damn shit!)