Thanks for joining us for another Chica Lit blog tour. For the next ten days, you'll be treated to short stories from savvy Latina writers. And you could win a prize simply from reading the story and answering a question! How fun is that?
The winner from Misa Ramirez' excerpt from her upcoming novel, Living the Vida Lola, is Mrs. V.
Below is an excerpt from my novel, The Making off a Xicana Goddess. Answer the question at the end of the post and you’ll be entered into a drawing to win an autographed copy of any of my seven books. Your choice!
Follow the tour by clicking on the next chica in the lineup [at the end of the story]. Next you'll go to Julia Amante at http://juliaamante.blogspot.com/
Release the Butterfly
On the first weekend she didn't have custody of her son Keegan, Abby Moreno-Smith had no idea what to do with herself. Should she watch a movie? Go out to dinner? Sleep? Clean the house? Call her best friend Eva? Be alone? Work on her pottery? There were some postcards she could stick labels on to let people know about the next show. Maybe she should do that. She could put away the Christmas decorations or make a collage for the New Year.
Abby walked into her bedroom and smiled. She had only been in the Rock House, as an artist-in-residence, for a couple of days, but already she loved her new room. She loved that the color theme was warm terracotta to pumpkin to wine to coral. It was no wonder with all that first and second chakra work going on - a.k.a. security, sexuality and creativity. Still it's another thing for Abby to see it everywhere she looked.
The phone rang. Abby picked it up. "Hello?"
"I've decided for you," Eva says.
"What have you decided for me?" Abby asked plopping herself into a rocking chair covered with an orange tapestry with a large butterfly on it.
"You're not going to stay in tonight. We're going out."
"Have I told you how much I love my room? I burn incense every night without having to open the window so someone won't be offended by the smell. I feel strong here. It's like my little cocoon.
"You can't hibernate forever. Come on. It's a new year, a new start."
"I should go out. But I don't know. I'm scared with some wind beneath my wings, I might fly so far away that like my dad, I'll lose my way back to my kid."
"You'd never leave Keegan," Eva said reassuredly.
"I never thought I'd leave Scott," Abby said reflectively.
"You're not your dad. Aye dios, you haven't even seen him in years. And Scott hasn't been there for you for a long time. You said so yourself. Now, come on, close up shop on the pity party and get your groove on. I'll be there in ten minutes."
Abby hung up the phone and walked to her closet to debate her ensemble. When she went out with Eva it was easy to feel like "frump girl." Going out with friends, being true to herself, including dressing sexy if she wanted, was exactly the kind of freedom she had hoped to gain by moving into the Rock House. It wasn't officially separating, but it to Abby it was a bid for freedom and yet she still wrestled with the guilt and trepidation that comes with breaking up a family. The only way Abby ever knew how to shift gears was to fight fire with fire, so she pulled on her knee high black suede boots and a cute mini skirt.
In fifteen minutes they were walking in downtown Santa Cruz. Twinkle lights still adorned the fronts of quaint mom and pop shops. As they passed under a sign announcing "60th Annual International Street Fair." Eva said, "I thought we could got to the fair. I think the first time my mom let me out of her sight was here when I was 14." Banners representing countries from around the globe flapped in the evening breeze. Ethnic music played off each street. The crowds were bundled in sweaters and scarves to ward off the ocean chill.
"We came here a few times, 'member? Right after the Undie Run," Abby said wistfully thinking back to their college days and the night when everyone met at Memorial Hall just before dawn, stripped to their bras and underwear and ran to the center of town then back to school. The scattered clothes were later gathered up then donated to homeless children in Africa. Abby had fallen on the way back to campus and Ian had scooped her up before the crowds trampled her. She didn't know him, but he picked her up and helped her onto his shoulders. He was so big, more of a jungle gym than a college kid. And unfortunately, their start, with her first true love serving as the knight in shining armor hung around him like a permanent aura for their three years of dating. There was little he could do wrong until he decided he wanted to start seeing other people.
"Oh my God, the Undie Run! That was a blast!" Eva said. "Hey, this street fair was your first date with Ian, right?" Eva asked.
"Second date. We went to dinner first and that's when he told me about the family business."
"Corned beef and cabbage. He's Irish."
Oh yeah," Eva looked up to the banner to see the German sign with a dancing couple wearing green lederhosen. She scanned the signs for the orange and green Irish banner.
"He had earned enough money to buy a house at 22 years. I was just so damn impressed that I agreed to work with his family in a sweaty booth for two solid days. Ever since we broke up, I haven't been back. It's kind of his territory."
"Then he dumped you for his bank teller, right?" Eva asked.
"I thought he was the one," Abby shook her head thoughtfully. "I really did."
"Rat bastard. But you started dating Scott right after Ian, so what did it matter?" Eva spotted a red-haired man wearing a Guinness t-shirt and figured she could follow him to the Irish street. She casually grabbed Abby's hand and began tailing the redhead.
Abby aimlessly followed Eva, lost in her memories. "I cried buckets of tears for Ian. Scott was going to be my rebound guy." Her expression darkened. "We never had the chemistry that Ian and I had. I thought I'd date Scott for just a couple of weeks and get over my heartache. But Scott turned out to be safe and comfortable. We were a good team once." Abby sighed. "I figured Ian would see through me and realize I still loved him. I felt so transparent around him."
Eva stopped cold and looked at Abby seriously, "You don't still love Ian do you?"
Abby brushed away the idea with a wave of her hand. "No. I loved him for the first six months or so of dating Scott. But I got over it when realized I could never be anything much more than a housewife with Ian. I wouldn't have reached my potential. Not as an artist or a woman. He was the kind of guy that likes to take care of everything and there was always this underlying subservience he required."
"Oh good," Eva sighed in relief. "'Cuz guess where we are?" Eva pointed to the banner above them, ablaze in orange and green and white.
Abby looked up and her mouth fell open. "Oh, shit."
"Let's see if Ian is here," Eva said with a mischievous smile.
"No, I don't think it's a good idea," Abby shook her head. But her feet seemed to be glued to the ground. Passerbys needed to walk around them.
"Why not?" Eva asked incredulously. "You've got nothing to lose and you're looking hot." Eva glanced down at Abby's long legs.
Abby tried to protest, but no words came out. Instead she felt a dormant wild streak rise inside her. There was really nothing the matter with just seeing if he was here. Problem was, the likeliness of that fact took the impulse out of the risk. Ian and his brothers were as reliable as dirt turning to mud after rain, and almost that boring.
Except in the bedroom. That's when the manly man Ian allowed Abby's imagination to take over. Her favorite game was naked Twister with a bottle of baby oil and hot candle wax. Her innovation created sexual magic that was never in her relationship with Scott. Abby giggled at the idea and glanced wickedly at Eva who returned a devilish grin.
"Let's get a beer first," Abby said bee-lining for the beer stand. She whipped her leg up, rested her foot against a pylon next to the counter and dug into her boot for her money. Her miniskirt rose up, revealing a toned thigh. The man behind the counter almost fell over himself.
"Do you have any idea what you are doing to this poor man?" Eva asked. "Damn, you can turn it on when you want to."
"What?" Abby flipped her dark hair back and looked around bewildered and innocent. Her leg still propped up, showing the hard work of morning walks on the sand.
"Oh, just stop," Eva laughed, knocking Abby's boot off the pylon. "Just for that, you're buying."
"Two Stellas, please," Abby said to the main behind the counter. She gave him her best smile and had to stop herself from batting her eyelashes. She felt like she was coming to life. Abby paid for the beers and handed one to Eva. "Just shut up and drink with me." Abby took a long swig of her beer. She drank the rest of her beer and threw the cup into the trash. She walked around the beer counter and peered through the booths.
"Hold on. Let's get you some lipstick," Eva said handing Abby her beer so that she could look in her purse.
"Oh yeah," Abby agreed taking a sip of Eva's beer.
"I got it," Eva pulled the lipstick out and handed it to Abby. "Hey, give me that."
Abby stole another sip before exchanging the beer for the lipstick. "Just a little liquid courage." Abby applied the lipstick without a mirror then pinched her cheeks for color. Abby's eyes glinting with trouble. "It's been ten years since I've seen him."
"You look better now then you did then," Eva said.
"Okay, let's go," Abby walked cautiously toward the food tents. She spotted a man with bright green eyes, brown wavy hair and broad shoulders talking to an older couple where the rope created the boundaries under the pop up tents. That was Greg, Ian's older brother. Abby looked to the grill where she spotted Ian, diligently tending to the meat. He looked the same. Fucking gorgeous. His blond hair spilled out from underneath a Giants baseball cap. "He's there."
"Which one? Is he cute?" Eva asked.
"All the brothers were cute. Eva, don't you remember?" Abby asked.
"Did I ever date one?" Eva asked hopefully.
"No," Abby said. She stared at Ian's large barrel chest, recalling how she used to run her fingers through the hair across it. But Ian refused to look up. She looked over to Greg.
"Well, did I uh, ever go home with one?" Eva asked.
“No,” Abby said testily, losing her cool. Abby sidled closer to the booth, waiting for the moment she could interrupt Greg. She had about a nanosecond after the conversation ended and Greg turned to help his brothers. "Greg!" Abby called out, rushing forward. Greg turned to look at Abby but only stared blankly at her. "It's Abby."
"Oh yeah," he said. "You dated Ian."
"Yeah, um," Abby said. "I'd like to say hi to him," Abby replied as lightly as possible.
Greg gave Abby a once over, lingering just a second on her boots. He seemed to be fighting with himself. Almost like he didn't think it would be a good idea to call Ian's attention to Abby. As if she were a temptation he didn't need. Then finally he turned and yelled, "Ian!"
Ian looked up. His bright green eyes grew wide with joy. Without taking his eyes off Abby, he left the grill, thrust the tongs at Greg and strode quickly toward her. Greg watched Ian with definite trepidation.
As Ian neared, time moved in slow motion. Abby observed his thick chest and flat stomach to the muscular arms and graceful gait of an athlete. She had forgotten how beautiful his eyes were and hadn't remembered his grin being so boyish and adorable. And yet for all this magnetism that had her so enthralled ten years ago, once she looked into his eyes at close range, she realized something had changed. Something was missing.
As Ian loped closer to her, Abby was amazed to realize this man who held her heart no longer had the ability to make her a veritable puddle on the ground. In fact, his eager smile bolstered her confidence to an exorbitant height, a place she had not been in so very long. Mired as she had been in the quicksand of a failing marriage, it had been eons since someone had looked at her like this. Ian stared at Abby like he was drinking her in - a bit of incredulity, appreciation and fascination.
The blood pulsed hot and fast through Abby's veins. Her breath came in deep and slow like a predator cat waiting to pounce. She lowered her head and looked up at Ian through her eyelashes, feeling like an incarnation of the Goddess Venus, all aglow in her half shell.
Ian stopped in front of Abby, quite close, almost has if he was going to embrace her then suddenly stopped. For a very long moment, neither of them said anything. Ian continued to stare at Abby as if she were the most beautiful creature ever to walk the earth. Abby leisurely lifted her chin and looked directly, boldly into Ian's beautiful green eyes and let a slow, sensuous smile play across her lips.
Ian stepped back as if Abby had just sent a wave of fire at him. He looked Abby up and down and with nothing more to hide or protect herself from this man, Abby allowed her shoulders to spread backward and opened her heart to him, which also served the double purpose of causing her breasts to rise and make her ample cleavage just a bit more visible.
"Abby," Ian said slowly. He laughed nervously. "You look amazing."
"Thanks," Abby said in a velvety voice she didn't even recognize. She hadn't flirted with this much control since… never.
"How are you?" Ian asked.
"I'm good," Abby said. "I came here with my friend, Eva." Abby turned around but Eva was flirting with a couple of guys about ten feet away. "But, I guess she's busy." Abby turned back around again to find Ian still staring at her in that mesmerized kind of way.
"What?" she laughed.
"Nothing," Ian said, shaking his head as if to clear away the stardust from his eyes. "It's just really good to see you."
"Well, it's nice to see you too," Abby said resolutely.
"I read about your showing at the Artisans Gallery in the paper," Ian said impressed. "It said you should have your ceramics on display in France or something like that."
"You heard about it and didn't you come?" Abby gently pushed his arm. "Why not?"
"I don't know," Ian looked over Abby's head to the crowds behind her. After a long pause, he returned his attention to her. His expression was a bit pained, particularly his eyes which seemed to be filled with angst and loneliness, then as he studied Abby's face, his expression flickered to longing to be understood. "I just couldn't."
Abby waited for more of an explanation. He smiled and looked away again. Abby softened her approach. "I hear you got married. Do you have any kids?"
"Two. A boy and a girl: Trevor is 3 and Remy is 1," Ian said.
"I thought you'd been married for awhile - like eight years or something. Did you travel first?"
"No," Ian blushed. "It took awhile to get Danielle pregnant. I guess I have slow swimmers." He smiled sheepishly.
"Oh, that must have been hard on you," Abby said.
"Yeah," Ian said. "Marriage is tough you know."
"Oh yeah," Abby said. "But you can't allow it to keep you down."
"How about you?" Ian's mood brightened as the attention moved off of him. "You got any kids?"
"Keegan is eight," Abby dug out her phone from her boot and showed Ian a picture of Keegan. "He's the love of my life." Abby stared at the picture.
"Not your husband?" Ian asked.
"No," Abby said and closed her phone, setting it absent-mindedly on the table. "I moved into the Rock House for awhile as an artist-in-residence. I had to do it for me. I was dying in that relationship." It was remarkable that even though she didn't feel the sexual tension, merely fond affection, she still felt this level of intimacy with Ian where she could speak so frankly. Perhaps because there was nothing to lose. Or because of their shared history.
"You're so strong. I always admired that in you," Ian smiled at Abby.
Abby's mouth fell open, but nothing came out. She had never thought of him admiring her. In her mind, it had always been her who was deepest in the relationship.
"How's your family? I always like Grandma Adelia. She made the best tamales I ever had."
"The first tamales you ever had," Abby corrected.
"Yeah, but I've bought other tamales over the years and they just were never as good."
"You bought tamales? Where?" Abby asked astounded.
"I get around," Ian said with a defensive laugh. "Plus, once you have a good thing…"
"Abby," Eva joined them, linking her arm around Abby's elbow. "I'm ready for another beer. You ready to go yet?"
"Eva this is Ian," Abby said.
Ian and Eva shook hands. "You hungry? Here, let me get you some food." Ian grabbed two plates of corned beef from the counter and offered them.
"I'm a vegetarian," Abby said with her hands up.
"I'm not," Eva said taking a plate. "Thanks."
"I guess it's time for us to go," Abby said.
"Yeah, I should get back to work." Ian said regretfully. "It was really good to see you."
"It was good to see you, too." Abby waved and turned to leave.
"He was cute," Eva said. "Maybe he's the one you should hop back on the pony with? I know you haven't done it with Scott since October. I would have exploded by now."
"You know, he's married." Abby said.
"So?" Eva said.
"Ugh. It felt so good to be appreciated," Abby said longingly.
"Appreciated?! He was practically drooling all over himself," Eva turned back to look over her shoulder. "He's still watching you. Don't look. Keep him guessing."
"I don't know," Abby said. "It seems like his marriage is on the rocks. But it would be like going back into dirty bath water. And I don't know if I'm ready. But on the other hand, it really felt good to have someone drool over me." Abby smiled, then her face froze. "Shit, I left my phone." Abby turned and ran back to Ian's booth.
Ian was looking out for her and when he spotted Abby he walked over to where they had been talking and handed her the phone. "I put my number in," he said.
"Oh?" Abby asked incredulously.
"Call me," Ian said. "I'd like to stay in your life. In whatever way you want. I think you're amazing."
Where did Ian and Abby first meet?? Winner to be announced on Julia Amante's blog tomorrow