NINE days to go before
First the disclaimer:
If you’ve read my books before, you know I tend to sprinkle Spanish words throughout my stories, usually in the dialogue where the parents are speaking. Most of my characters are Mexican American, born and raised here and, like me, their parents are originally from Mexico and mostly Spanish speaking. This story is a little different. This couple was born and raised in Mexico and their first language is Spanish, but obviously the book is written in English. However, to stay as true to the story as possible, I used a LOT more Spanish words in this one than any of my other books. I had fun cussing in both languages. LOL. I don’t do any translating, but I try to make the meaning of said words clear in the context they’re used. My beta readers said they didn’t have an issue, and most are not Spanish speaking. They also pointed out that, in their readers, they have the translate option, so in case there is a word you can’t figure out, you can always use that. ¡Espero que les guste!
The music was playing, the crowd was in good spirits, and all Alej could think was, What the hell had he been thinking? While his head reasoned that he deserved to have fun—deserved to let loose and the feelings of guilt were unwarranted—his heart said otherwise.
“¡Ándale, güey,” Cido urged. “You promised you wouldn’t be a downer. What’s the point in being here if you’re not even gonna try to mingle? See those two at the end of the bar behind me?” His friend took a swig of his beer, looking behind Alej all overly inconspicuous. “They been looking this way, and I’m pretty sure the guerrita is eyeing you.”
Alej brought his bottle of cerveza to his mouth and took a swig. He glanced over at the girls casually as Cido ordered two shots of tequila. Cido was right. The girl with the blond hair smiled sheepishly at him. Going against his better judgment and only because it felt like the polite thing to do, he smiled back, tipping his hat at her.
The bartender poured the shots and Cido paid him. “Come on.” Cido picked one up and handed the other one to Alej. “It’s New Year’s Eve, man. Snap the fuck out of it already, and let’s do this.” Clicking his shot glass against Alej’s, Cido lifted it in the air. “To moving on.”
Alej frowned but took the shot with him anyway. Feeling the burn in his throat and then his chest, he winced, chasing it down with his beer.
“Smooth,” Cido said hoarsely before taking another swig of his beer. “Hell yeah!”
Glancing at Cido, Alej watched as his friend lifted his beer in the air in the direction of the girls. When Alej turned to them, they were lifting their drinks at him as well and smiling big.
“I told you.” Still smiling big, Cido didn’t bother looking at Alej. Instead, he leaned in against the bar. “Hey, Chief, can I get four more of these? But I’ll take them down at the end of the bar.” Now he turned to an already panicking Alej and slapped a hand on his shoulder. “Let’s go. I’m done with your mopey ass. Enough of this shit. You’re getting laid.”
“Wait. What?” Alej started off his bar stool but hesitated. “I said I’d go out tonight. Never said anything about getting laid or even . . .”
“Well, you can at least have some fun.” Cido tapped him so he’d move, and Alej did reluctantly. “We’ll play it by ear.”
They walked over and introduced themselves to Patty and Aleida, the blonde batting her lashes at Alej. First thing they mentioned was being sisters, even though there wasn’t much of a resemblance.
“You girls here alone tonight?” Cido asked.
“Yeah, but we’re not staying all night. We just stopped by to get a few drinks before heading out to a party.”
“Party, huh?” Cido smirked as the bartender dropped off the four shots. “This place ain’t good enough for you?”
“It is,” Patty said, glancing around. “But we’ve had plans to attend this party for some time now.”
Handing them each a shot, which they happily took, Cido raised his, motioning for Alej to take the last one off the counter. Alej did, despite the knot forming in his stomach. He could only hope these girls would leave for their party sooner than later.
“Here’s to taking chances.” Cido clinked Patty’s glass. “Living in the now.” He clinked Aleida’s then turned to Alej, lifting a brow. “And no regrets.” With one more lift of his glass, Cido tipped his hat at the girls and they all downed their shots.
“Taking chances. I like that. Speaking of,” Patty said with a wince after sucking a lemon wedge. “How do you guys feel about coche anchos?”
“Coche ancho?” Cido asked.
“Limusinas,” Patty clarified. “Our dad is very overprotective. So, when we told him we were going out for the New Year, he rented us a limu.” She bounced her eyes at her sister, who chewed her bottom lip. “Live in the now?” After Aleida gave the go-ahead nod, Patty turned to Cido with a big smile. “What do you say we go drive around for a while and then you two can be our dates for the party? Limo’s fully stocked with liquor.”
“Hell, yeah,” Cido said without even consulting Alej. Patty started looking through her purse as Cido turned to a now completely panicked Alej. “Hear that?” he said in a lowered voice. “A pinchi limo.”
“Cido, I can’t, man—”
“You can and you will,” Cido huffed in an even lower voice now. “Stop with this shit already. You owe this to yourself, güey. It’s New Year’s Eve and two beautiful girls invited us to a party in a fully stocked limo.” He placed his hand on Alej’s shoulder and squeezed. “Don’t ruin this for me. For all you know, nothing will even happen.”
“Is there a problem?” Patty asked.
Both girls were off their barstools now, eyeing them in question. “None at all, hermosa.” He clapped Alej’s shoulder again. “My friend was just worried about leaving his car here.”
“Oh, we can bring you back to pick it up after the party,” Patty offered; then her smile went a little playful. “Or tomorrow morning if you’re not up to driving tonight.”
Alej pressed his lips together as Cido turned to him with an equally playful smile. “You see there? Problem solved.”
Swallowing hard, Alej placed his empty beer bottle on the counter as Cido slipped his hand in Patty’s and they walked off ahead of Alej and Aleida. Feeling rude but unwilling to do the same with Aleida, he walked alongside her, not holding her hand. As they made their way through the crowded club, Aleida began to lag. Alej turned to her and slowed. She must’ve taken that as an invitation to hold his hand because she slipped hers into his as soon as she caught up and smiled timidly. Alej glanced down at their now clasped hands, working his jaw. This night was just getting started.
No regrets, his fucking ass.