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LA FLOR MANOR II: RETURNING HOME
"Do you really think I do not see what it is you are trying to do, Lizette?"
"What are you talking about? I am not trying to do anything."
"I know you only married my son for his title and the possibility of being immortal. So you have immortality, but that does not mean I will allow you to take his money. I will find a way to dissolve this marriage. You will not win this battle child. I have been alive far too long to be outsmarted by someone as insignificant and you." Catalina glared at Lizette, with fumes rising. She had vowed she would not be fooled by this imposter, and she had no problem letting her know.
"Suegra, I assure you, I am only with your son for love. If you only knew all of the facts, you would think differently. But alas, you are too closed minded to understand." Liz heaved the grand door open and left her mother-in-law standing with her mouth agape at her words.
"Mom, calm down and let me explain."
"Lizette Janaye, you need to bring your butt home and make things work between you and Bradley. You do not know how worried he has been about you." Like always, her mother refused to listen to her side. Her words causing her the pain of reliving the scene at Carmichael's Law Firm, that had brought her to Mexico, to begin with.
"Mom, Mr. Carmichael told me that, Bradley has proposed to his granddaughter. They are getting married mother. There is nothing for me to return for." Listening to her mother rant about how she could make him change his mind and they belonged together, she butted in, "Mother, I actually called you, to invite you to my wedding here in Mexico. I have met a wonderful man named Feliciano and we are going to be married in just over a month. I would love for you to be here." She reveled in the silence she heard on the other end. She had waited her whole life to be able to leave her mother speechless. "So, will you come?"
"Oh, Lizette." Her mother softly whimpered. "Of course, I will be there. So tell me about this man. Who is he? Where is he from? What does he do for a living?"
"Mother, please. All you should need to know is that I am in love with him. But since you insist, I met him here in Mexico. He is from Spain, and he comes from old money. He is in line to inherit his family's business." Silence again. Lizette was beginning to enjoy this. She gave her mother the details and date for the wedding. Assured her that she would not have to pay for anything, that Feliciano, would not hear of it. "I have to go, mom. My friend is here to take me to look at dresses. I love you. Bye, mom." She hung up before her mother could start again.
Lizette, crumbled on her bed to contemplate the feelings her mother's words had left. She thought she had left Bradley and all of his drama back in Colorado. Her thoughts were a jumbled mess. When she had arrived here in Mexico, she had never thought for a minute that she would find true love. Nor did she think she would meet an immortal goddess, who just so happened to be her great-great-grandmother. She had not believed in immortality or goddesses, now she was on the verge of becoming an immortal goddess herself and her husband to be was already an immortal prince. Oh and to top it all off they would be returning to his home in Spain, in the year 1822, after they are married. "Oh no, I forgot to tell her that my grandmothers will be attending the wedding."
"You forgot to tell who?" She started at Anna's question. Her new best friend and the owner of the Inn where she was staying had a way of sneaking up on her.
"I forgot to tell my mother. She has not spoken to my grandmothers in many years. I have invited all of them, so this could be interesting." Lizette smiled, wondering what her mother and grandmother would think. They had not spoken to her great-great-grandmother Llesenia or her daughter Lanissa, since Leala, her mother's mother had turned her back on them. She had married Lizette's grandfather, a preacher who did not agree with anything outside his church and had refused to let his wife be a part of such ridiculousness. Lizette began to giggle.
"What are you laughing about? Have you completely gone mad?" Anna teased. She was so happy to see her so completely blissful. She had met Lizette only a few weeks before when she came to stay at the Inn. She had been a sad shell of a beautiful woman. She was lost and then she met Feliciano and she had blossomed into a constantly happy sister. "Did I tell you how happy I am that you are getting married, Liz?"
"Only about a thousand times. I am too."
"Are you sure you cannot honeymoon here in Mexico?" Anna had grown up with just her father and was relishing the new sisterly friendship she had with Liz. She was not ready to give it up yet.
"I promise that we will return, Anna. We are going to visit Feliciano's family for a while and then we will be back. I am going to miss you so much. Let us think of other things though. We are planning a wedding, remember? We should be shopping and decorating, making plans for the big day. Not standing around feeling sorry for ourselves." The women laughed as they walked to the door.
"You are right. I almost forgot, Javier, is waiting in the van, to take us into town." Anna's face lit up at the mere mention of her boyfriend. They had just started dating at the masquerade party less than a week ago, and it was all still so new to her.
"Well, I guess we should go. We would not want to leave, Javier waiting." She teased and bumped shoulders with her friend. The two walked to the van. Anna greeted Javier with a kiss, made apologies for making him wait, and climbed in behind Lizette. The ride into town was spent with Anna talking to Javier and Lizette thinking. Reliving the memories that brought her to this day.
Lizette, a successful attorney, had left her home in Colorado and escaped to Mexico. Her now ex-boyfriend had been given the promotion she rightly deserved because he was engaged to the boss's granddaughter. So, she packed a bag and left, telling no one. In Mexico, she had befriended the daughter of the Innkeeper. Anna had become her best friend and sister in the short time she had been there. She had also met Feliciano, his butler Pierre, and maid Francesca. Feliciano is now her fiance. They made it official at the masquerade party they held at the Inn a few nights ago. She had also met her great-great-grandmother Llesenia. Llesenia is the goddess of immortality and love. Through her, Lizette discovered she was heir to the powers of Llesenia and destined to be a goddess. If she was willing to accept her destiny. Which of course she was. Now she found herself engaged to a man she was madly in love with, with a family who showed her the love she had been denied growing up, and a sister who, though not related by blood, she felt closer to than her own mother. Mexico had turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to her.
"Liz, are you okay?"
"Sorry, Anna. I was remembering all that has happened since I came here. It really is amazing how my life has changed in these few weeks. So, much has happened, I am so glad this is where I decided to run away to."
"Me too. I have had so much fun since you came here. Plus, now I have a sister and a boyfriend. Who would have thought so much could happen in a few weeks?"
"Anna, I have not officially asked you, but will you be my maid of honor? I can not think of anyone else I would want by my side."
Tears began to sting Anna's eyes as she threw herself at the other woman. "I have been waiting for you to ask. Of course, I will. I have already started planning, hoping you would ask me. I have so many ideas. There is a dress shop on the edge of town, that has the most amazing clothes. I think that is where you will find your perfect dress. I also thought that since you seem to like them so much, we could make a bouquet of fresh hibiscus and roses. I will need to know what colors you want of course, so I can think about the decorations. I know my father would love to make your reception dinner." She continued like this until they arrived at the dress shop she had mentioned. Lizette could only smile and agree with her. She was not about to argue with her determination. Plus she had other things on her mind. It was nice to have someone think of the details and planning.
The three of them stepped out of the van into the morning heat. The sun was already hot, but the day was looking magnificent. The streets were just beginning to fill. The vendors setting up their tents and awnings. The aromas in the air were intoxicating. Fresh pan from one way and as the wind shifted, street tacos wafted in the air. The threesome grabbed a coffee and some pan. The fresh bread was still warm and the coffee was just the fuel they needed for the long day ahead. Snacking as they walked to see if the dress shop was open. The sign said they still had twenty minutes to wait, so they continued to walk and enjoy the sight of the various vendors setting up their stands. Lizette loved the colors that seemed to bloom in the street as the tents and awnings went up. She had not seen it like this. The other times they had come to town, the stands were already up and the streets had been packed.
"Do these vendors set up like this every morning?" Lizette looked curiously at the other two.
"No. Well not here. They do set up every morning but in other towns. They set up here on Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday. The rest of the days, they spend one day each in other towns. Allowing people from different areas to have a chance to buy without having to travel so far." Anna was the first to answer, with Javier nodding in agreement. Lizette noticed that Javier did not speak to her that much when Anna was around. Anna spoke English perfectly, with a beautiful accent while, Javier spoke broken English. He had always tried though, for Lizette's sake.
"That seems like so much work. They must love what they do, to go to all that trouble every day."
"They do love what they do, however, for many it is a matter of making a living and being able to feed their children. This is how they make their money and the more places they visit, the more they can make."
"I admire their dedication." Lizette walked thoughtfully down the street. She saw families with children that looked to be two or three, setting up their stands. Watching each member do their part had her smiling.
After walking to the end of the street they turned around and headed back to the dress shop. Reaching the door, Javier kissed Anna and said something Lizette could not understand and left the two women there. "He is going to be at the shop across the street. He said he has no desire to watch us drool over dresses." Anna laughed " I wonder what he will do when it is my turn to buy a dress?"
"Has he asked you already?"
"No, but we did just start dating a few days ago."
"Yeah, but you have been in love with him for years and from what I can tell, he has felt the same way. I do not know why the two of you waited so long to tell each other how you felt. You could be happily married with children by now." Her words had both of them laughing when the shop owner appeared asking how she could be of service.
"My sister here is getting married in just over four weeks and we need a dress fitting of a princess." Anna's words sent a shock through Liz. She had not told her about Feliciano being a prince and no one was supposed to know. She felt the blood leave her face and saw the shock in the shop owners eyes. She quickly found a seat and fell into it before she could fall in the floor. "Lizette, are you okay?" Anna was immediately at her side and the shop owner was handing her a glass of water.
"I am fine, I think the excitement is just taking its toll on me." She was becoming accustomed to these little white lies. "Anna, why did you say a dress fit for a princess?" She hoped she did not seem too anxious for the answer.
"Well, I just figured that every girl pictured herself as a princess when she gets married, so you need to look the part. I am sorry if I spoke out of turn." Her blush showed the embarrassment she was feeling.
"No, not at all. I just wasn't expecting that. I think that is a wonderful idea." She stood and hugged her friend. "You always have the best ideas. I am so happy you are my maid of honor. With you handling things, my wedding will be perfection." hugging her friend she turned her attention back to the shop owner. "I think I am ready to feel like royalty." The three smiled and began looking through the dresses on display. Anna was right, the gowns here were divine. Lizette found herself overwhelmed with the beauty.
"Señorita, what type of dress are you looking for? Do you have a preference or design in mind?" Lizette had not thought about what kind of dress she wanted. When she had been engaged to Bradley, she was sure she wanted a sleeveless mermaid dress. She wanted plain satin and nothing extravagant. This just did not seem right for a wedding to a prince. The shop owner just stared at her waiting on an answer.
"I do not know exactly what I want. I do have an idea though. I would like something that resembles dresses from the Victorian era." She suddenly had visions of the ball gown she had worn to dinner at Feliciano's home. Before she had known who he was and that he was from another time. She had thought it weird then, now it seemed perfect.
The woman, who introduced herself as Angelica, smiled and went to work looking for the perfect gown. She was a woman on a mission as she inspected each gown and either placed it on the rack she was pushing or shook her head and moved on. When she had five dresses on the rack she told Liz to try them on so she could get a better idea of what she liked and did not like. Anna followed her to the dressing room and waited in the sitting area for her friend to emerge.
The first dress had a form-fitting bodice with a full skirt. It was white with rhinestones covering the bodice. The stones started out small and got larger as they got closer to the waistline. Lizette was surprised by the weight of the dress. Tempted to ask Anna for help, she struggled to put it on. Finally ready she walked out into the waiting area and the full-length mirrors that waited.
"Oh, Liz. You look beautiful." Anna's eyes filled with tears as she looked at her friend. Liz walked to the mirror and turned to see the full dress. The back of the bodice was open down to the skirt. The skirt itself was satin and the bottom was trimmed with the same rhinestones that covered the bodice. "Do you like it?" Anna was having a hard time reading her friend's face.
"I like it, but I do not love it. I think I need to try something else. This one seems a bit too much on top and not enough on the bottom." She went back into the dressing room and tried on the next four. All very beautiful, but not one that made her fall in love.
Exiting the dressing room with the five dresses in tow she returned them to the shopkeeper. Explaining the parts of each dress she liked or did not like. Angelica went to work again. She took five new gowns and hung them in the dressing room. "I have one more in mind, I only need to find it. You try these and I will bring you the other when I find it." Trying on each dress, Lizette was becoming discouraged. She walked out in the fifth gown and looked in the mirror. Disappointment filled her face.
"Oh, Anna. I will never find the perfect dress. These gowns are all beautiful, but I do not love any of them. What am I going to do?" She looked in the full-length mirror and the white mess she was wearing. This one was the worst. It was full from the waist down with tulle ruffles. "This dress is hideous." Looking at each other in the mirror the two women began to laugh.
"It is pretty ugly. I do not know how that one made the pick. There has to be a perfect gown here somewhere, though. Do not give up yet. We have only started looking. If all else fails you could always order one from those magazines. I have several at home. You know just in case I need them one day" Anna winked at her.
"Yeah, I guess there is always that option. I wonder if Angelica found that last gown. I am getting hungry and want to go." Hanging the gown on the wall and reaching for her clothes there was a knock on the door."
"Señorita, I have the gown I was telling you about. Your friend tells me you are getting frustrated. Would you still like to look at this one?" Not wanting to be rude, Lizette agreed. She opened the door and took the dress from Angelica. She did not really pay attention to the dress, she just wanted to get this over with and leave. She put her arms in the sleeves and went to the door. She asked Anna to help her with the strings on the corset top.
"Anna, what is wrong with you? Why are you looking at me like that?"
"You have not looked in the mirror have you?"
"No, why? Is it that bad?" Dreading what she was going to see, she slowly turned and looked at the reflection. She immediately began to cry. She had never seen a gown as beautiful as this one and looking at herself in the mirror she had the same sense of looking at a strangers reflection that she had the night at Feliciano's home. When she had worn the gown from his guest room. This could not truly be her. The gown was a classic princess gown in white satin. The sleeves were an intricate lace pattern that reminded her of the abigoth that she had seen on her grandmother's robe. The top of the gown was corsetted tight accentuating her thin waist and showing the slightest hint of her breasts. Just enough to entice her groom to be. The bell portion of the gown was satin with a lace overlay. The most amazing part of the dress was the delicate pale pink hibiscus flowers scattered across the bell. They added a subtle hint of color that made the gown seem to glow.
"I take it you have found your dress?" Anna smiled as she hugged her from behind.
"This is definitely it. It is amazing. I have never seen anything like it. She turned around to find Angelica. "You were right. This gown is perfect. I am glad you found it."
"I am pleased. I thought a gown inspired by a goddess would be fitting of a queen."
"What do you mean by designed by a goddess?" Lizette and Anna questioned in unison.
"This gown is a replica of the one they say the goddess Llesenia wore on her wedding day. That is the reason the abigoths are on the lace and the flowers are hibiscus. Both of these are symbols of the goddess. You look so much like the statue of her in that dress."
The women's words had Lizette crying again. To wear a gown designed after her grandmother's wedding gown, was more than she could have hoped for. Here she was, dressed like Llesenia had been so many years before. She hugged the woman fiercely, surprising them both. "Thank you. This dress is perfect and the story behind it makes it all the better. I will take it."
"Let me take your measurements and I will have the dress ready for you in a couple of days." Angelica made quick work of measuring and pinning here and there. Promising she would have the dress ready for her to try on in two days, she walked the women to the door.
Lizette and Anna found Javier waiting on the bench outside. He was staring at a small box that he spun in circles. Not noticing the women he jumped when they approached. "Aye, Dios mio, Anna. Me asustastes."
"I am sorry. You just looked so cute sitting there like a child concentrating on his new toy. What are you playing with anyway?"
"I not playing." Javier tensed and stood up. "Let's go eat. I show you something on the way." Lizette could not help but smile at Javier's broken English and the childlike manner he had when he was around Anna. As they walked he took Anna's hand possessively in his. Like he wanted the world to know that she was with him. It was so sweet the way he made her a part of everything he did.
"Where are we going? The restaurant is the other way." Anna tried to pull her hand free.
"I show you something first. Por favor, Anna. Follow me." Javier was pleading with her and Lizette was beginning to understand.
"Just go with him. Do not make him beg, Anna." Lizette grabbed her other hand and helped pull her along.
Anna reluctantly followed her friends. Javier led them down several narrow streets. They came to a fountain outside antiquated church. The statue in the fountain was similar to the one at the Inn. In this one, though Llesenia was dressed in a wedding dress. Lizette looked closer, the dress was identical to the one she had chosen at the shop earlier. Javier led Anna around to the front of the fountain and took both of her hands in his. Lizette stayed back, not wanting to get in the way.
"Annamaria, yo te amo." He bent down on one knee and Anna began to cry. " I want to spend the rest of my life with you. Will you marry me, por favor? Amor quiero vivir mi vida contigo." Pulling the box out of his pocket, he opened it to reveal a pink heart diamond ring. With his hand shaking, he pulled the ring out and held it up to her. Anna only stared as if she was in shock. With tears running down her face she stuck her hand out for him to put the ring on her finger. "This is yes?"
Shaking her head up and down wiped at the tears. "Yes, definitely yes." Smiling he placed the ring on her finger and she threw herself into his arms. They spun around in a blur of laughter and tears, that left Lizette crying. Lizette walked away to let the two have some privacy. She wandered down the street they had just walked down. She stopped to admire pottery in a store along the path.
"You are blessed indeed, my dear." An elderly woman with greying waist length braids met her at the door. Her appearance was that of a very old woman but her voice was that of someone in their twenties. Liz stepped inside to speak with the stranger.
"What do you mean? How am I blessed?"
"I know who you are. I should also say I know who your grandmothers are. You have a great future ahead of you child. But you must beware of the darkness that will come. It will take you if you let it. Just like it took your mother."
"What are you talking about. How do you know about my family? And what do you mean by darkness will come?" Lizette was confused and realizing they were the only two in the small store she became worried for her safety.
"I mean you no harm child. I only want to help you. I am sorry if I scared you. It was not my intention. I am Sabina. I was a seer for your grandmother, Llesenia. I have lived here for many many years. Llesenia said I should stay here until I was needed, and here I have waited for one of her children to embrace their destiny and here you are. I thought that would be your mother, but the darkness took her from the beginning. You are stronger though, you have not let the darkness in. You must stay strong and not let greed and envy destroy you."
"I do not understand. You say my mother was taken by the darkness. What is this darkness?"
"I cannot tell you any more child. You must talk to your grandmother. She must tell you about the darkness. I only wish to tell you to beware and to take care of your heart. You will face many trials in your new world. Do not lose yourself. You are destined for the greatest triumph, but the road will be long and filled with heartache. Many will be the lies told to you and great will be the betrayal you feel. Your heart is the only truth you need though. Your heart will always be true. Always remember that." Sabina hugged Lizette and turned for the door.
"Please do not go yet. I need more information."
"You will have answers soon enough dear. Now your friends are looking for you. You must not keep them waiting." Turning to the door Lizette looked back to see Sabina disappear into an inner room. She walked out into the bright sun and found the light blinding after the darkness of the small store. Just as Sabina had said she ran into Anna and Javier as she got to the street.
"Here you are. We thought we had lost you. Javier was convinced we would have to tell Feliciano that we lost his bride. Liz, are you okay? You look pale, did something happen." Anna took hold of her and checked her for injuries.
"No, I am fine. I just got a little turned around and went into a store. Now here you are and we should head back." Anna knew something was wrong but did not want to push her friend. So she wrapped her arm around Liz and started down the street. "So, does this mean we will need to make plans for a double wedding? I am sure Feliciano would not mind."
"Oh no. We must have two very grand weddings. Yours first and later ours. That way I am sure you will come back from your honeymoon in Spain." the women laughed as they walked towards the van.
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