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LA FLOR MANOR CHAPTER 2
The flight was a breath of calm for her shattered nerves. As each minute passed, she knew she was much further away from the nightmare of home. Lost in thought, she did not realize they were already landing until she heard the commotion of exiting passengers. She left the plane in a daze, but was quickly snapped to reality, when the noise of the airport assaulted her ears. After retrieving her bags, she walked through the doors to the beautiful sun outside. She waved down a taxi and gave the driver the address of her destination. The driver was a very friendly young man, who spoke broken English, but tried to for her sake. She spoke a little Spanish, but not enough to be understandable to a native speaker. After they set off, she relaxed in the seat and enjoyed the view. The winding roads and beautiful landscape helped to occupy her mind. Arriving at the hotel, she realized she had not taken the time to exchange her money. She had nothing to pay the driver. Thankfully the hotel had a place to change money inside and she invited the driver to accompany her so he could get paid. After settling her debt and giving the driver a generous tip for his trouble, she headed to check into the hotel.
Her room was beautiful. The walls were a light-colored stucco with a hue of pink. The linens on the massive king size bed were crisp and vibrant with flowers of yellow and orange, with pillows piled high at the head. The bed was a dark mahogany sleigh bed, attributing the only dark element to the room. The room was lit from a large window with an amazing view of the mountainside that had brought Lizette to this place. There was a small writing table in the corner with an orange vase, full of orange and yellow hibiscus. The room was warm with a light breeze bringing in the fresh mountain air. The hotel did not have air conditioning however, Lizette found the warm air inviting. Being mid July, she had expected the heat to be unbearable, but was pleasantly surprised to find it comfortable and refreshing. A bit humid, but very acceptable, especially with the clean scent of the breeze. Exhausted she left her luggage by the writing table and lay down to rest a bit before dinner. When she awoke she was surprised to find her room dark and cool. How long had she slept, she wondered. Coming out of her sleepy haze she reached for her watch, fumbling a bit to find it on the table in the dark. Midnight. She had slept for nine hours. Turning on the lamp, she sat up in bed. Squinting, to adjust to the dim light, she found that it was just bright enough to illuminate the bed and path to the bathroom. The rest of the room was left in a myriad of shadows. Through the open window, she could see the light of the moon and stars dotting the skyline. Stars were a rare sight, for Lizette, coming from the big city where all the building’s lights made it impossible to see more then two or three at any given time. She rose and walked to the window. The stars seemed to multiply as they shimmered on the darkness. The moon illuminated a few clouds floating across the mountainside. In the distance Lizette, could just make out a massive form high in the mountain. She could see a flicker of light, but could not make out what the form was. She felt the pangs of hunger and remembered she hadn’t eaten since she left Colorado. She picked up the phone and remembered the time, and returned the phone to its base. Turning on the room light, she rummaged through her suitcase until she found the bag of granola she had packed. It would not fill her up, but it certainly would ease the pain until the kitchen opened. She sat at the table and munched on her snack staring out the window. She was mesmerized by the dark mass in the clouds. What could it be? She would have to look in the morning.
After her snack, with nothing else to do, she laid down and tried to sleep. She tossed and turned as she began to doze. Images of Bradley and Mr. Carmichael played in her dreams. Then they blurred into images of a mysterious man that floated on a cloud. He was tall, with dark hair and fine clothing, but no matter how hard she tried, she could not see his face. Shadows always covered its features like a vail. She reached for him, and just as she was about to touch his hand the cloud floated away and she found herself falling. As she plummeted towards the ground she saw flashes of her life, and knew she was about to die. The ground came closer and she landed with a thud. Lizette snapped awake to find herself on the floor net to the bed. Looking around her sun lit room, she began to laugh. Her laughter was soon replaced with tears as she remembered her situation. All the emotions she had bottled away the day before, came rushing out in tears that turned to soft proclamations of not caring and back to tears. She was so angry. Angry at Bradley for his betrayal, angry at Mr. Carmichael for overlooking her, angry at her mother for pushing her into law school (after all if she had not gone to law school she wouldn’t be here now, and that was a logical reason), but most of all she was angry at herself. How could she have been so blind? How did she not know what was going on? She tried to think of any signs she had missed. She need there had been many. She had always been so busy with cases and court, and Bradley was always there when she managed free time. He too was always working and very busy. Working late nights to prepare witnesses and interviews. Or may to prepare his love life somewhere else. Could it be that he never really worked all those cases? He used her own work ethic to have a romance with the bosses granddaughter. She felt so stupid and angry at the same time. She hadn’t noticed, because she hadn’t wanted to. All she ever wanted was to be successful and marry the man she loved. Now she had neither and was alone crying in the floor of her hotel room.
A light knock on the door brought her back to her room. She dried her face and struggled to rise from the floor. Another knock, louder this time caused her to hurry her efforts. When she opened the door, she found a beautiful woman looking at her with fear on her face.
“I just wanted to check on you mam. As you did not come down for dinner, when breakfast past and you still did not come down, I began to worry.” The young woman had a look of real concern on her face now.
“I am fine. I was so tired I slept most of the night and am just barely getting up now.” Lizette thought it was still very early, thus a little surprised she had already been missed at breakfast. “ I will be down shortly, if there is still time for breakfast.”
“The kitchen is busy preparing lunch, but I can offer you coffee and pan (sweet bread) if you would like something until lunch.”
The hispanic woman standing in at the door spoke english fluently with a beautiful accent. She was medium height and very slender. She wore a white cotton dress with red flowers embroidered on the neck and a belt of the same. She was, in Lizette’s guess around twenty-four or twenty-five (she later found the latter to be the woman’s age). “Pan and coffee sounds wonderful. I will change and be down shortly.”
“Yes mam. I will prepare a table for you.” As the woman turned to walk away Lizette inquired her name. “My name is Annamaria, but everyone just calls me Anna. My father is the owner of the hotel, and I am here to help with whatever you may need mam.”
“Thank you Anna and please no more mam. I am Lizette, but most call me Liz.” Thanking Anna again Liz closed the door and hurried to the bathroom to wash her face and change. Looking in the mirror she found herself a red-nosed, puffy-eyed mess. This must have been the cause of concern in Anna’s face. She decided on a quick shower. The cool water felt so good on her tear stained face. She longed to stay in the water, but remembering the young woman, she hurried to ready herself. Applying the last touches to her make-up routine (which consisted of eyeliner, mascara, and pink lip gloss), she glanced at her watch. Eleven-thirty. Was that right? She was unsure whether she had slept that late or cried that long. Recalling her reflection in the mirror, she decided crying was probably more accurate. Feeling pangs of anger sting her eyes, she willed herself to think of other things. She would not waste one more minute crying over the past, or a man that obviously did not love her. She resolved to be happy and enjoy this time away. The rest would wait until she returned to Colorado. Thinking of Colorado reminded her that she was in a different country. She checked her watch again and finally remembered to adjust the time. Twelve-forty. She was going to miss her pan and coffee if she didn’t get going.
Descending the stairs, Lizette was delighted by the smell of coffee and bread. It filled the small room that was the hotel’s sitting room. Anna looked pleased to see her out of her room. She motioned her to a high-back chair, in front of which the young woman had placed a tray with warm bread and a pot of coffee. A small blue plate and cream and sugar containers filled the remaining space.
Lizette sat in the chair, savoring the softness of its cushions. Adding a spoon of sugar and splash of milk to her coffee, she chose a piece of bread. Still warm, it seemed to dissolve in her mouth. The flavor was amazing, and with the coffee the snack made a comforting dent in alleviating the hunger pains that plagued her. Memories surfaced of the first time she visited Mexico. It seemed like a lifetime ago. She had travelled to Acapulco with her parents the summer she graduated high school. The trip had been a graduation present from her father, and the last truly carefree moment she had spent with her family. The last time she had lived in the moment and not for the future. When they returned home from that trip everything changed. The pressures to achieve and be successful began, and life was no longer carefree. She started college in the fall and had never looked back to the happy, carefree, adventurous girl she had been. She hadn’t realized until that moment how much she missed that girl. While she had achieved all she set out to do, she had forgotten to take the time enjoy her achievements.
“Mam.” Anna’s soft voice broke into her thoughts, crashing Lizette back to reality. “Lizette, are you okay?” Anna asked with sincere concern, bringing tears to Lizette’s eyes. She blinked rapidly to keep them at bay.
“ I am sorry Anna. Were you saying something?”
“ I was just asking if you were alright, and if you needed anything. You seemed so far away. Liz are you alright?”
“Thank you, I am fine. I was just remembering my first trip to Mexico with my parents.”
“So you have been here before?”
“Not here exactly. We were in Acapulco. We spent a month there when I graduated high school.”
“What brought you here to our town this time? Acapulco is so different, you might not like it here. They have beaches, people, all the sites. We have mountains, quiet, and seldom see tourists.”
“Oh Anna, it sounds like I am in the right place. I need peace and quiet, and nice friendly people right now. I just needed a break from so many people.” Lizette felt a bit weird talking to this stranger, about her life. At the same time though, she felt compelled to keep talking.
“We have a lot of quiet here. If you feel better later, we have horses and you can go riding whenever you like. How long will you be staying with us?”
“I am not sure how long I will be here. I would love to go riding, I haven’t been in years. Maybe, tomorrow if the horses are available. I haven’t ridden since I was…...well is has been a long time. I think it might be just what I need to clear my head and work some things out.” Riding sounded great to Lizette, but she still felt a bit fatigued from her restless night.
Anna looked at her as if she had a question, but was afraid to ask it. Taking a sip of her coffee Lizette asked if there was something she wanted to ask. Looking a bit nervous and feeling guilty, Anna finally asked quietly “I do not want to be rude mam. It just seems to me...well are you in some kind of trouble? Are you here to hide from someone?”
Taken aback Lizette found it hard to articulate the words in her head. This made Anna feel all the more guilty for her questions. Finally Lizette found her voice. “Good heavens no. I am not in trouble or hiding. Well maybe I am hiding a bit, but not the way you think.” And without reservation Lizette related her whole story to this new found listener. When she was done, Anna looked sad. Lizette had a sense of relief for venting all the pent up thoughts in her head, and embarrassment for the same. “I am so sorry Anna. I do not know why I just blurted all of that out. You must think I am out of my mind. I mean really who just tells their woes to complete strangers?”
“Not at all. I am happy you felt the confidence in me to talk freely. Not many here do, and it feels good to have someone confide in you.”
“Thank you, you have helped me more than you could know.”
“Liz if you need anything, I am here.”
“Thank you again. I hope we will have a chance to talk more. But of happier topics, instead of my troubled life.”
“Anytime you need a friend, I am here. Well I am always here, but you know what I mean. I need to be getting back to work. Would you like me to prepare your lunch?”
“No thank you. I am good with the bread. I think I am going to rest a bit. I will eat dinner later.”
“Okay, I will have your meal waiting in the dining room at six. If you need anything else before then, please let me know.”
“Again thank you.” Liz finished her coffee, wrapped a piece of bread in a napkin for later and returned to her room. Shutting the door, the full weight of her situation hit her. Looking through her purse for a pen she noticed her phone flashing. Checking it she found thirty-two missed calls and fourteen voicemails. There were two calls from her mother, one from her boss, and the rest were Bradley. The messages had her crying again. Again most were Bradley, all saying he was worried about her, he loved her, please baby call me, and more of the same. There were two from her mother informing her that Bradley was worried about her and that it was wrong to worry him so, and asking what Liz had done to mess up this time. The final message was Mr. Carmichael, inquiring as to how she was feeling and hoping she would be able to return soon. What hypocrites they all are, she thought. Bradley, was just covering his butt, her mother her daughter’s marriage and economic future, only Mr. Carmichael didn’t have an agenda. She turned the phone off and tossed it in the drawer. She un-packed her bags and made sure the phone was covered up. She was was determined to ignore her old world for awhile. To let this trip be the escape her mind had needed for so many years. It was time to consider herself, maybe even pamper herself. Everyone else be damned, she was going to enjoy herself.
She looked through her purse again, this time finding the pen and sat down at the table by the window. She couldn’t recall what she was had meant to write, so she just sat there, staring out the window. Remembering the massive object from the night before, she scanned the mountainside looking for it. She could only find a very old looking building, too far up to make out any details. From its size, she decided that must have been the source. She felt drawn to it for some reason. THough she could not tell for sure, she thought it might be a castle. She made a mental note to ask Anna at dinner. Returning to her paper, she decided to write a diary of her stay and her feelings while in Mexico. Maybe it would help her sort things out and to find her way again. It would also serve as a reminder of this time years from now, where ever the future took her.
I met a woman today named Annamaria. It is weird, but she made me feel like I mattered and didn’t expect anything from me. I found myself telling her things I probably wouldn’t tell my mother. I like it here very much. There is a building I want to explore. I feel a strange connection to it when I look through my window. Maybe tomorrow I will go find it…..
Liz put the notebook under her pillow and laid down. She drifted into one dream after another. Much like last night’s, these started with a replay of the events at her office. This time when she left her office, she was running through a forest of trees. Ahead of her was the dark stranger she could not see before. His face was still in shadows, and every step she took towards caused him to take a step away. She longed to reach him, to see his face, to know who he was. Why was he avoiding her? She followed him through the trees, never able to get closer. She heard a growl behind her, turning she found herself facing a hideous black creature, with its sharp white teeth bared and eyes glowing an eerie yellow. The creature growled again and lunged towards her. She opened her mouth to scream, but no noise came out. The creature was inches away from her when she jolted awake. She sat up in bed, her heart pounding in her head. She looked quickly to all sides of the room, half expecting to find the creature ready to attack her. Coming to her senses, she realized it was only a dream. She just sat in the bed trying to understand the meaning behind these dreams. Chalking both up to her current situation and her fear of what was going to happen, she decided to forget about them. She went to the bathroom, washed her face with a cool rag and returned to the room. Glancing at the clock, three o’clock. She had three hours until dinner and decided to explore the inn grounds. She needed a break from her room.
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