The girls pawed at Leticia; the ring shimmered on her finger. Patrick looked on; pushed out of the equation as Luliana decided she wanted to be their flower girl. Any excuse to wear a pretty dress. Luliana wanted to feel every bit the princess to Leticia’s magical Queen. Daciana walked away, elbowed out by her sister. She was the less girlie of the two, but Patrick could see through the facade. Daciana loved dresses, preferring fewer frills and darker clothes. This style did not fit with how Luliana pictured her parent’s big day.
Patrick took Leticia’s hand, saving her from the questions they would soon discuss. He led the way through the thick undergrowth. The space before them was once a courtyard, with routes leading to the various parts of the kingdom. Patrick longed to see the temple but agreed with Leticia to take the girls to the temple’s baths. The swimming would need to wait a day as the weather took a turn. A dangerous foreshadowing of heavy black clouds blanketing the sky. Luliana pulled her coat around her, fearing the imminent attack of vampire bats. Daciana crept behind her sister, screeching. Luliana screamed, running in circles. She looked for the bats, who were, as Daciana reminded her, fast asleep. She stumbled back into the long grass, disturbing a snake. It slithered, perturbed by the intrusion. Daciana clutched her sides laughing, ignoring Patrick’s angry glance.
As Leticia pulled Luliana to her feet, drying the tears with a tissue, the first drops fell. Thunder rumbled, a reply to Daciana’s torment. It was her turn to be afraid; eyes peered up, shielded by her hood. Patrick zipped the jacket beneath her chin. Another crack splintered the sky, Daciana grabbed Patrick. He held her tight, rubbing her back.
Patrick settled the girls, tucking them into bed with tales of Selvadorada. They had arranged for a babysitter, allowing them to celebrate their engagement. Leticia squeezed his hand as they walked, sensing his anxiety at leaving them with a stranger. The bar was a few minutes from their lodgings, and the sitter came recommended by the friends they were to meet. Patrick took one last look back before nodding and focusing on the evening ahead.
There were two things Patrick did not do in public, singing and dancing. It had nothing to do with being unable to carry a tune; he could. What Patrick did not like was being forced to do this in public. Standing in the shower pretending he was a rock star was enough for him. The dancing would be something Luliana would wish to see at their wedding. Leticia shook her body to the Latin tunes possessed by the rhythm. While there might not be any awards for keeping to the beat, Leticia would win for enthusiasm. Patrick obeyed the summons; his moves were awkward, clumsy and standing on a few toes. He made a beeline for the bar, getting another round of drinks for everyone. Patrick kept glancing at the woman he was lucky enough to be marrying. The holiday with its stormy weather and Daciana’s mood swings was the best he had ever known.