Wreaking Havyk - Faith Gibson
Mercedes accepted the glass of agua fresca her husband poured for her. “Gracias.” She removed her plastic sunglasses from atop her head and put them on. She didn’t wear expensive shades at the pool since the metal nosepieces tended to get caught in her hair.
“I have business to attend, so I will be away a few days.” Juan swirled the ice in his glass before taking a sip. Mercedes turned her head his direction, giving him her full attention. This wasn’t anything new. He often went away for days at a time.
“Te voy a extrañar,” Mercedes lied with a smile. She never missed him while he was gone. Those were the days she looked forward to most.
Juan reached out his free hand, and she took it. As much as she loathed her husband, Mercedes cherished the moments he was gentle with her because they were few and far between. She hated the man, but she was starved for affection. Blue eyes flashed in her mind, and Mercedes smiled for real. If Juan thought the gesture was for him, all the better.
“Yo también te voy a extrañar, Papá,” Mateo said in perfect Spanish. Her son would miss his father, and that hurt Mercedes in ways she tried not to think about too often. The boy loved the man he thought his father was. Then again, Juan had never been anything but wonderful to Mateo. Mercedes didn’t understand how one man could have two faces. Be two different types of man. The loving father who sold drugs to other people’s children. Did he not care that someone else’s child was getting hooked on the product Juan was selling? That he was enabling others to ruin their lives? All so he could live in a lavish home, drive expensive cars, wear thousand-dollar suits? Then she thought back to her own father. The man who raised her had never doted on her the way Juan did Mateo, but never in a million years would Mercedes have thought him capable of being another real-life monster.
“Y yo te voy a extrañar, Mijo. A ti y a tu Mamá.”
Mercedes didn’t think Juan would truly miss her. Mateo? Yes. But her? Juan didn’t spend much time with Mercedes when he was home, so his words didn’t ring true. She figured he was paying lip service so their son wouldn’t know his papa didn’t love his mama.
One of the guards approached, staying several feet away. “Sorry to interrupt, Sir, but there’s a phone call for you.”
Juan released her hand and stood. His phone calls always took precedence over family time. Juan wrapped his towel around his neck. He ruffled Mateo’s hair and told the boy to be good while Juan was gone. Mateo smiled up at his father and promised he would. Without a word to Mercedes, Juan strode into the house with the guard following. Mercedes let out a sigh and leaned her head back, turning it to look at her little boy. Her innocent child who had no idea the world he lived in.
One day, Mijo. One day, I’m taking you away from here so you can live a normal life. One with friends. With family not likely to get you killed someday.
Mateo returned to the pool, and Mercedes enjoyed these moments when it was just her and her son. And several guards watching them both. Mercedes did her best to ignore the armed men. After eight years, she should be used to their presence.
Almost an hour had passed when Ana Marie ventured out to the pool. The older woman was more than Mateo’s nanny and tutor. She was also Mercedes’s only friend in the world. Friend was a stretch because Ana was Juan’s employee first.
“Elena is serving lunch in the dining room. If you’d like, I’ll take Mateo in and get him dried off.”
“That would be perfect. Gracias, Ana.”
“De nada. Come along, Mateo.” Ana was like a grandmother to Mateo, and he loved the older woman. Without fuss, he climbed from the pool. Ana wrapped him in his towel, and the two of them made their way inside. Mercedes flipped over onto her stomach. She could enjoy a few moments of solitude before she joined them.
Heavy footsteps sounded on the wooden deck where her chair was situated. Mercedes assumed it was one of the guards. A shadow fell across her body, indicating the person was standing beside her blocking the sun. Hmm. Maybe Juan had come back to tell her goodbye. No one else would come that