Chapter Fourteen

Chapter 14

Asuncion is beautiful in the Fall, and the lights in the garden of the Montoya house along with the moonlight and the stars creates a perfect night.

Luján thinks that it is the best moment to reveal the last secret. But it is Miguel Ángel who speaks first.

“Many years ago my mother gave me this arrowhead necklace. She said that somebody very important in her life had given it to her for protection.”    He takes the arrowhead necklace off and hands it over to Arnold.  “Thank you for trying to protect my mother.”

“I didn’t do such a great job in the end,” Arnold says, overwhelmed with emotion.  “She mostly took care of herself.”

Luján takes a deep breath and then says quietly,  “You didn’t realize it at the time but you were really trying to protect two people.”

“What do you mean?” Arnold says.

Luján looks straight at Arnold and smiles.  “Three months after I moved into the Montoya house, I found out that I was pregnant.”

Everyone holds their breath.

“Miguel Ángel knows that Juan Carlos is not his biological father,” Luján says, “but I have never told him much about his real father.”  She pauses.  “Arnold, this is your son.”  Tears are in her eyes as she looks from Arnold to Miguel Ángel and back again.

Jane gasps, then stands up and runs back into the house.  Annie starts to follow her but Miguel Ángel interrupts her.  “No, I’ll go and talk to her.  Let me do it.”  He stands up and Arnold quickly stands up, too.

“Son?” Arnold says.

“Let’s just stick with first names for now,” Miguel Ángel says.  “Give it time to sink in a bit.”  He doesn’t look at Arnold nor, his father, Juan Carlos.  He walks quickly after Jane.

___________________________

Jane is putting her coat on and heading for the front door.

“Where are you going?” Miguel Ángel says.

“Where do you think?”

“You’re angry with me?”

She stands in front of the door facing away from Miguel Ángel and fidgeting with her hands.  She doesn’t say anything.  Then she opens the door and leaves the house walking quickly, trying to get away.

“I’m walking Jane home,” Miguel Ángel yells to the others but he doesn’t wait to find out if they heard him or not.  He runs down the sidewalk to catch up with Jane.

They walk together in silence and Miguel Ángel is wise enough not to say anything.  At first she walks hard and fast, but, after a while, her pace slows down and she sighs.

“I guess it was too good to be true,” she says finally.

“Yes, it was.”

She turns to him in surprise.  “You wanted this, too?”

“Of course,” Miguel Ángel says.  “I’ve never felt this way about a girl before and I like it.”  He pauses.  “I like you.  A lot.  I still do.”

“Well, it’s a bit complicated now, isn’t it?”

“Just a bit.”

They walk along together quietly for a while.

“I wonder what my Mom is going to do?”  Miguel Ángel says finally.

“What do you mean?”

“Well, she’s obviously still in love with your Dad.”

“Obviously.”

“But she loves my Dad, too.”  He stumbles over something on the street and then recovers himself.  “Well, I mean my other Dad.”  Then he laughs.  “You know what I mean.”

“Yeah, it’s complicated.”

They were quiet for a long moment.

“I think they will just have to learn how to be friends,” Jane says.  “I know my Dad loves my Mom but he also has feelings for your Mom.”  She looks at Miguel Ángel.  “I trust them.  Both of them.  They’ll work it all out and do the right thing.”

“I think you’re right.”  Both of them are quiet for a moment.

“We´ll have to learn how to be friends, too,”  Jane says.  Her voice floats softly in the night air like the promise of spring.

“I’d like that,” Miguel Ángel says.  Then he grabs her hand and they walk down the middle of the street together.

______________________

China gets ready for bed like she does every night, sitting in her armchair with a whisky and a cigarette.   It is one of her little secrets that she keeps from her family.  One of many.

Paraguay is a complicated mess, even today.  There is no way that she can ever go back again.  If her family ever finds out the truth, they will never speak to her again.

Beep!  Her computer is telling her that she has another message.  More photos from Jeremy probably.  She gets up from the armchair and sits down at her desk in front of her laptop.  Her grandkids don’t even know she has a computer.  They don’t know a lot of things.  In fact, her surveillance system is state of the art and she keeps tabs on everyone that is important to her.

She looks at the photos that Jeremy sends and the messages that go with them and surmises the rest.  Things are going well.  Miguel Ángel is the key.  He is the last of them but he needs to be handled carefully.

China looks out of her bedroom window into the darkness of the Chicago night, probing into the minds of her family in Paraguay.  What would they do next?  She takes a long drag on her cigarette and then snuffs it out in the ashtray.  She makes a decision.

It is time to go back to Paraguay.  She may not survive the trip but she has no choice.  Time was running out.

The End