Lourdes studied her. Dalia was pretty. Not as pretty as Lita of course. Black hair, a little past her shoulders. Round, cute face, dimple in one cheek. She seemed genuine, but it was too soon to tell.
"So what are we drinking?" Dalia asked, looking at the liquor that Lita had took out.
"Haven't gotten that far yet," Lita said, "but we were kind of hoping for some Mary...maybe a little Tina..."
"No T." Lourdes crinkled her nose, shaking her head.
"How about a little E?" Dalia pulled a mini plastic bag out of her pocket.
"Now you're talking!" Lita said snatching the baggie out of Dalia's hand. "Let's spike the punch with it!" She looked at them excitedly.
"No," Dalia said, "there's only enough for each of us to have a tab, I want the full effect."
Lourdes nodded her head in agreement. So Lita put the booze away and pulled out orange juice and water bottles.
Lourdes swallowed quickly, making sure not to let it touch her tongue, and washed it down fast with her juice, hoping to avoid the bitter aftertaste. Lita and Dalia did the same.
"You should deal with Pullo before you hit." Lita offered.
"He shunned me from across the room," Lourdes said, "what can I do-"
Lourdes didn't get to finish as Pullo and two guys came walking in to the room.
"Hi!" Lita smiled at all of them. "What's up?"
The two men with Pullo smiled, giving quick hellos and put their empty beer bottles on the counter. Pullo ran his fingers across Lourdes back, and planted a kiss on her cheek. Maybe he wasn't as angry as Lita had led on. She stayed on her guard anyway. Pullo went in the shelf and pulled out a bottle of bourbon, and three small glasses. "Cheers." He said to the girls, very coolly as him and the guys headed out of the kitchen.
"Pullo?" Lourdes said softly. "Can we talk?"
"Later." He said not even turning back to look at her. He went through the kitchen door and disappeared. Strike one.
So it was going to be like that, Lourdes thought to herself. She shrugged her shoulders and looked at Lita. "Can't say I didn't try."
"Try harder." Lita said kissing her on the cheek, as Dalia looked at the both of them confused. Lourdes rolled her eyes and moved away from the counter.
"Come on," Lita said grabbing Dalia and Lourdes' hand, "Jasp has Mary in his room, we'll go and have her out by the pool. She'll make everything better, especially when we peek." She looked at Lourdes. "Then you'll try again."
Lourdes and Dalia both followed willingly. Not many people were out by the pool. It was almost Christmas and too cold to swim. Lourdes and Dalia sat on the beach chairs, waiting for Lita to come with the goods.
"So you and Lita have been friends for a long time?" Lourdes asked.
"Bout five years." Dalia said. "How long have you two been hanging out?"
"Not that long. It's barely been two months." Lourdes wondered if Dalia knew about Lita's real profession.
"She's fond of you." Dalia said.
"Oh yeah? How can you tell?"
"Because she brings your name into the conversation, at least three times, every time I talk to her." Dalia smiled.
"I'm sorry, that must suck." Lourdes said. But she wasn't, sorry.
Dalia pulled her knees to her chest and wrapped her arms around them. "You did something to impress her."
Lourdes smiled. "She's just so easy to talk to. I guess we clicked right away."
"Well, welcome to the fold my friend," Dalia said, "all the girls want to meet you."
"It'll be my pleasure," Lourdes said, "I'm always up for a good time."
"Lita tells me your a writer. How's that working out for you?"
"Lita's, a liar." Lourdes said, a little too harshly. She was taken aback that Dalia knew that. That Lita had even mentioned this to somebody else. It wasn't that she was embarrassed or ashamed, she just didn't want anybody to read her newest work. And Lita, was in possession of Lourdes' latest chapters. She would just die, if anybody else got a hold of them. She would never publish it. They were sacred. And just for her.
Dalia was watching Lourdes. "I'm not a writer," she offered, "I dabble in some things here and there, but I do other things to pay the bills."
"Yep, you're a chef," Dalia smiled, "she told me that too. Culinary school after graduation right?"
"Sort of, I graduated early, then took a break before college, so I still ended up, aligned with my peers."
"Mm-hm," Dalia nodded, "she said that you've worked in restaurants, resorts, hotels, she even said that you worked on cruise ships and at a Hot Springs."
"Wow," Lourdes said, "I sound like a self-important ass."
"Not at all." Dalia offered. "You seem to lead quite the life." She paused for a moment. "To tell you the truth, until I just met you, I questioned if you even existed. I was starting to think that Lita made you up."
"Trust me," Lourdes said, "None of those things are as glamorous as they sound. I just try to do what I'm good at."
"You're lucky," Dalia said, "to realize your talents so early on in life. Not very many people have that luxury. Lita's right, you should make the most of it."
Lourdes was silent for a moment. She couldn't tell if Dalia was just making conversation or if there were few hints of jealousy there. She spoke softly. "Lita's just dazzled. Maybe even a little overwhelmed."
"She thinks your fabulous."
"I am fabulous," Lourdes smiled arrogantly, "but not as fabulous as she's made me out to be. Pretty soon, she'll see that I'm just like everybody else, even with the writing, then she'll come down to earth."
"Maybe," Dalia said, "but Lita says that you're quite talented as a writer, and could go pretty far if you really wanted to."
"She told you that?" Lourdes asked surprised. "She's my harshest critic, I can't imagine her ever saying anything like that!"
"She said it to me," Dalia said with confidence, "I think our girl, may have a crush on you."
Lourdes blinked. She pursed her nude lips, not sure what to say. "I like her too."
"There's nothing wrong with that!" Dalia laughed. "You know how it is when you meet someone and you can't get enough of them? You absorb each other, you want to be around them all the time. It's like being in love but for girls!"
"I think they have a word for that these days." Lourdes smirked.
Dalia started laughing. "That's cute, I like that."
"I try." Lourdes said.
"No but seriously-"
Lita slid the glass door open and came outside. She plopped down next to Dalia on the lawn chair. "Success!" She beamed as she lit up a blunt and passed it around. "What I miss?"
"Nada," Dalia said, "I was just inviting Lourdes over to girls night out, this week."
Lita looked up surprised.
"I accepted." Lourdes smiled.
"Great." Lita said. "You'll love everybody. It's kind of family night. Potluck dinner, music, booze and conversation."
"Right on." Lourdes nodded her head. She layed back on the beach chair, watching the lights flicker off the blue water in the pool. The glass door slid open again. Pullo came out and walked over to them. He stood over Lourdes' chair. Black Calvin Klein jeans, black Prada shirt. The man could dress. He was almost as much of a label whore as Alby. Lourdes liked that. There was nothing sexier than being around a man who knows how to clothe himself.
"Hey Pullo," Lourdes smiled, "sit down, have a toke." She sat back up, so she could share the seat with him. He sat down, saying nothing, and took the blunt that Dalia offered to him. Pullo inhaled, long and slow, then passed to Lita.
Lourdes looked at the two girls. Lita shrugged her shoulders.
Pullo exhaled. "Can we have a minute." He said very coolly, not really asking, but making it clear that he wanted them to leave.
"Sure." Lita said. She stood up with Dalia, and gave Lourdes a look, as if to say, good luck.
Instead of going back in the house, they went over across the yard, to the other end of the pool. Lourdes was pretty sure, Lita wanted front row seats, to what was about to go down.
"You got something you want to say to me?" Pullo asked.
"What could I possibly want to say?" Lourdes asked back.
"Turns out, you've been a busy bee," he said, "most girls are all about the questions, but you had none at all. That should have told me something."
"I did have questions," she said, "you never had any answers."
"You weren't asking the right questions." Pullo said looking straight ahead. Lourdes couldn't read him, he had gone cold on her.
"Sorry," she shrugged, "I didn't know that was the game I was suppose to be playing."
Pullo looked at her. His coldness had turned to anger, she could see it in his eyes.
"Hey man," one of Pullo's' friends came walking up, "the games are about to begin, are you guys coming inside?"
Pullo stood up and started walking away.
"Where are you going?" Lourdes asked, still sitting. "We weren't done."
Pullo stopped at the glass door. "We weren't?" He asked, then he turned and went back inside anyway.
Lourdes looked away, exhaling slowly. Strike two.
Lita came rushing over without Dalia. "What happened?" She asked.
"Nothing. We got nowhere. His friend came out and he blew me off."
"Just go get him. He's pissed, but he'll get past it."
"I don't care if he gets past this, I'm not going to chase him all over this party, just so he can treat me like shit."
"Lady," Lita said, "you have it coming. So butch up, be a big girl and take your punishment."
Lourdes tossed her head to the side.
"And make sure you exonerate me in the process." Lita demanded.
"Yeah yeah." Lourdes mumbled.
Lita sat next to Lourdes and kissed her on the cheek. Her long black hair grazed Lourdes' face. She smelled like strawberries. "If it helps, I still love ya."
Lourdes turned and looked at her as Lita smiled, rubbing her lower back. "Go on," she said, "he's waiting for you."
Lourdes stood up begrudgingly, and dragged her feet into the house. She made her way to the living room, scanning every face, until she found the right one. Bingo, she found him. He was off in a corner with some girl half his age. Surprise, surprise. From where Lourdes was standing, it looked as if they were flirting. Whatever he was saying to her, the girl was completely engrossed, not looking away for a second.
Lita and Dalia came up behind Lourdes. "Shit." Lita mumbled under her breath.
"Who the fuck is that?" Lourdes asked to no one in particular.
"Alright, so I was wrong," Lita said, "maybe he wasn't waiting for you to come after him."
Lourdes turned and glared at Lita.
"What?" She asked, trying not to smile.
"That's nice, real nice." Lourdes said. "Why the fuck did you even tell me to come over?"
"Don't be a chicken shit." Lita said. "I've never seen that girl in my life."
"What's your point?" Lourdes asked.
"If I may be so bold," Dalia cut in, "I think she's saying, go stall the bitch out and take what's rightfully yours."
Lourdes sighed loudly. That's exactly what Albear would say. All three of them turned to watch Pullo. He looked up from across the room, making eye contact with Lourdes, then he went back to flirting.
"Fuck this shit." Lourdes whispered to herself. She turned and kissed Lita on the cheek. "Bye babe. I'll see you later."
"No wait-" Lita tried to say, but Lourdes made her way quickly across the room and headed out the front door.
She was only a few paces from the house, when Lita called after her from the front door. "Lourdes wait! How are you going to get home? You shouldn't leave in your condition!"
Lourdes stopped and turned. She had forgotten just that quickly, that she had popped a pill, and Lita was right, she shouldn't go home like that. But she couldn't stay here. She would figure something out along the way. "I'll be fine!" She assured her, then kept going. She reached the end of the block. What to do? Call a cab, catch the bus, head back to the city and hang with Alby and the boys? She pulled out a cigi. She would contemplate while she smoked. Lourdes leaned against a stop sign, breathing in the cold night air. She should have stayed with Alex. She would be in bliss right now, instead of attempting, failed damage control with Pullo.
Lourdes turned around as she heard footsteps approaching. Pullo walked up to her. "Come back to the house." He said.
"No thanks," Lourdes muttered, "I'll catch up with you later."
"I'm not asking." He ordered. "We need to talk."
"Pass." Lourdes said dismissing him.
"I'm not going to chase you around," he said, "come back to the house, we're not talking about this on the street."
"We're not talking about anything," Lourdes said, "you keep blowing me off."
Pullo turned and walked away, expecting Lourdes to follow him. She did, reluctantly. Might as well get this over with. No time like the present.
Back inside the house, it was much warmer. They made their way past people and went in Pullo's bedroom.
Lourdes sat in a chair and crossed her legs, determined to remain calm, no matter what happened. Pullo sat on the edge of the bed, silently watching her.
"So talk to me." Lourdes said.
"Where do you get off invading my private life?" He asked.
"No really," he said, "what gives you the right?"
"Pullo, I don't have any excuses."
"That's not good enough."
"The only explanation that I can offer, is that I made a dumb decision, without thinking."
"What decision was that?" He asked.
"W-what? You know already." Lourdes said.
"No. I don't know, tell me exactly what you did."
"Are we going to go in circles like this? Or do you actually want to talk?"
"Don't sit there and talk at me, like you actually have a leg to stand on." His voice was deep and his tone was serious...kind of a turn on if she wasn't in such deep shit. "I'm not talking at you," she said, "fine, I'm busted, I admit that. What do you want me to do about it?"
Pullo stood up fast and walked over to Lourdes. "Get out of my room."
He opened the bedroom door.
"Leave." He said.
Lourdes stood up. "Okay," she said walking to the door, "have it your way." She walked outside the room and turned around. Lita and Dalia were out in the hallway, drinking and talking. They both looked in Lourdes' direction when she exited the room. Lourdes turned around to face him. "For what it's worth, I'm sorry." She said to Pullo. He slammed the door in her face. A few by-standers in the hallway looked to see what was going on.
"And fuck you very much." She said loudly, then turning and walking past Lita and Dalia.
"Didn't go so well?" Lita asked.
"How could you tell?" Lourdes responded sarcastically.
Pullo came out of the room and stormed up to them. "Have it my way?" He said angrily to Lourdes. "What way is that?"
Lourdes quickly cut her eyes at Dalia and Lita, then looked back at him.
"What did you just say, when I closed the door?" He asked.
"Pullo, don't do this-"
"Answer me." He said. Some people were looking at them, but music was playing loud in the living room, so most were oblivious.
"Pullo-" Lita tried to intervene.
"Shut up!" He said. "She's a big girl, let her talk."
"Hey, don't talk to her like that!" Lourdes looked back and forth between the two of them shocked. "Lita had nothing to do with this."
"So you say!"
"Don't bite her head off cause you're mad at me!" Lourdes yelled.
"You never once told her anything?" He asked Lita.
"I already told you no." Lita said calmly.
"About anything?" He asked again.
"Hey, I'm standing right here." Lourdes broke in. "She told you no, how many times are you going to ask her?" She said bitterly.
"Until you fucking own up to what you did!" He yelled in her face. Lourdes was starting to get angry, but she bit her tongue.
Now a lot more people were staring.
"Um, I'm going to get a another drink." Dalia said, scooting off as quickly as possible.
"Maybe we should go back to your room." Lourdes urged Pullo.
"Good idea." Lita added.
"No fuck that!" Pullo said. "You had your chance."
"You really want to do this?" Lourdes asked, starting to get upset.
"Right now, in front of all these people?"
"Yes!" He said even louder.
"No." Lita said. "Look, Pullo you had a lot to drink, we've all been partying, it's been a long day for everybody, let's just dial things back for a moment.
Pullo glared at both of them. He went back into his room, slamming the door shut.
"Fuck he's mad." Lita whispered. "Fix this."
"I'm trying," Lourdes whispered back, "but when somebody pushes my buttons, I see red. And I can't control my temper if he keeps coming at me like this."
Lita turned Lourdes around and pushed her in the direction of his bedroom. But Pullo walked out again. "I'm going to let you both know now," he said pointing his finger at the two of them, "whatever you been up to, it ends tonight."
"Pullo, Lita didn't do anything." Lourdes tried to explain.
"My life is not on the table for you to experiment with." He said more to Lourdes than Lita.
"Are you even listening to what I'm saying?" Lourdes asked. "She has done nothing to you! In fact, I did what I did because I couldn't get any answers out of you or her."
"Are you fucking kidding me?" He yelled walking away from them. "You must think I'm Mr. Old Gullible and stupid!"
Lourdes put her hands on her hips and choked back a laugh. This was starting to become ridiculous. "It's a shame," Lourdes called after him calmly, "cause I love 'em old and stupid."
"Lourdes what the fuck are you doing?" Lita whispered through clenched teeth. "Don't make this worse!"
"Go away," Lourdes said as Pullo stormed back up to them ready to spit fire, "I'll fucking deal with this."
"Lourdes!" She said again.
"Fuck off Lita, I said I'll handle this."
Lita turned and walked away as Pullo reached Lourdes. People were starting to gather around to see what all the commotion was. Pullo grabbed Lourdes' forearm. "Come here!" He said.
Lourdes jerked her arm away. "Take your fucking hand off of me." She said quietly. She moved past Pullo and headed outside towards the pool, trying to get somewhere quiet. She turned around as Pullo approached.
"Look," she started, "I said I was sorry, but you really gave me no other choice."
"You should work on your apologies," he said, "you're for shit at it."
"I'm sorry." She said.
"Don't feed me that crap. I don't believe you."
"It's not crap."
"Do you understand that what you did is an unforgivable, flagrant betrayal?"
"I think you're over-reacting." She said softly.
"You crossed the line!"
"I over-stepped, I get that."
"I made a dumb decision. I wasn't thinking."
"Stop feeding me this bullshit!" He yelled. The few people that were outside by the pool, quickly went into the house. "This whole time that we've been together, I've watched you analyze everything to a fault. I've watched you make calculated decisions every step of the way, so don't you dare tell me that you weren't thinking when you decided to do this."
Lourdes scoffed in the other direction. "Okay, yes." She said.
"Yes what?!" He asked.
"Yes I had you checked out. It was the easiest decision I ever made. For my own peace of mind. Suddenly you're back in my life, after being god knows where for so many years! We hook-up on a regular basis and I don't know anything about you. I think that's scary Pullo! You weren't talking, Lita wasn't talking, and Jasper's never here. I couldn't get answers out of anybody. I was left to my own defenses, and being in the dark wasn't good enough for me. You know these days, when you want to know something about a person, all you have to do is Google them."
"You more than Googled me!"
"Yes, I took it a step further."
"You accessed a confidential military personnel file. Something other military officers don't have access to. Now how did you do that?"
Lourdes shrugged. "I called in a favor."
"Who do you know that has that kind of reach?" He asked.
There it was. Some of his truth was showing through. Lourdes shook her head, refusing to answer. "I needed to know if I could trust you."
"Well I hope you're satisfied. Because now I don't trust you!" He said.
Lourdes sighed. "I guess that's fair and you're entitled to your emotions, but in all honesty...did you ever? I mean, obviously not, or else we wouldn't be in this situation."
"Don't try and justify your actions."
"I'm not justifying anything. I did what I had to do. Now it's your choice if you want to get over this or not."
"Not." He said. "I'm going back to the party. Get the fuck out of my house."
"Fine." Lourdes mumbled. She followed slowly behind him. Lita was lurking close with Dalia, trying to make sure that things didn't get too out of control. Lourdes reached the inside of the house, ready to leave, but Pullo wasn't done confronting her. "This is not even close to being over. Don't think that you're going to get away with this." He said.
"Why do you keep talking shit every time there's people around?" Lourdes asked. "If you want to talk about this fine, but I don't need an audience!"