Sunday, March 18, 2007

Snippet - Best Laid Plans

After going to the trouble of planning a surprise party for a sick friend, Diana is surprised that her aunt won't allow it.

To Diana's surprise, Amalia put a stop to things almost before they had begun. "No," she said. “He's not so well that he can have all you girls down there crowding the sick room and fussing over him."

"Oh, he'll like it," Diana said. They were in their room getting ready for bed, and she stopped brushing her hair. "Macy says all men like it when women pay attention."

"And having you visit was enough of a distraction. He's supposed to be focusing on getting well."

"Maybe this will inspire him to hurry up about it." Diana began braiding her hair tightly so it wouldn't tangle.

"He's doing the best he can."

"What's it going to hurt if we take him a few presents?"

"You'll just give him ideas. In fact, I think you've given him enough already. I'm half-tempted to tell you that you can't go visit him any more."

"You've kept me away for more than two weeks. But you can't do it forever. I'm not a child you can order around."

"But Robert is my patient, and I can say who sees him and who doesn't."

"And you would keep me from seeing him again?"

"If you're going to insist on teasing him, you don't give me much of a choice."

"How do I tease him?"

Amalia shook her head. "You know, Diana, I really struggle to figure you out sometimes."

"Well, if there's anything you don't understand, maybe you should ask instead of making these vague accusations."

Amalia raised her eyebrows at Diana's impertinent tone. "Okay. Are you leading Robert on for a reason? Or are you really that ignorant of how he feels about you?"

For a moment Diana could only stare in surprise. "He and I are friends. He's never made so much as a leading remark."

"If that's the only thing that will convince you, you'll be waiting a long time. Just because a man treats you with respect doesn't mean he's not interested."

Diana dismissed the notion. "All I wanted was to have a party for my friend who saved your life and nearly died. And here you go trying to make something of it." She flung herself full length onto her blanket and buried her face in the pillow.

Amalia looked at her for a moment, nonplussed. Unbidden, Miguel's words came back to her about the need young people had to hurt themselves. What he had failed to mention was the way they needed to hurt each other, too. But Diana was nearly eighteen. To keep trying to protect her was insane, impossible, and would ultimately do neither one of them any good.

Amalia sat down. "Okay. I'll quit interfering. Just don’t let him misunderstand you. If you like him, fine. But if you don't. . . Well, it's easy to think you're just being nice to a man and then later you find he's been reading a lot more into it than you intended."

"He wouldn't do that," came the muffled voice from the pillow.

"And for God's sake, quit lying to yourself."

Diana was silent so long that Amalia wondered if she had fallen asleep. But finally she lifted her head. "So can we have the party for him?"


"Why not? You said you wouldn't interfere. We're already working on his presents."

"I was serious when I said it's too much excitement for him right now. You girls will just tire him out." She stood up and wandered over to her pallet. "Besides, SeƱora Varamendi is old and doesn't need all you young people raising a ruckus in her house."

"We're not going to raise a ruckus. We won't make any messes we won't clean up, and. . ." Seeing the determined look on Amalia's face, Diana stopped. "Okay. No party." She threw herself back onto her pillow.

"I'm sorry. You can still go see him. And you girls can go in pairs for short visits. But why don't you wait until he's well and comes up here to join us? You can have a party for him then."

"Okay," Diana said, refusing to look at her. She grabbed a blanket and pulled it up to her chin. "Please turn off the light. I'm going to sleep now."

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