I mentioned last week that I would be posting up some chapters of my next release (El Patron) due out next month. I hope you enjoy! I will be posting chapters throughout the month.
Emilio Espinoza traced the scars across the undersides of his wrists, now white with time, but still visible. Not like the ones that remained on his heart.
Moving to the ornate wooden armoire, he picked up a framed photograph of his brother Antonio and his lovely young wife Lydia. He stared at his brother’s face, his eyes becoming slits of hatred. He closed them, and threw the picture across the room, smashing the frame against the wall, his hands balling into fists as his vision clouded with tears. Glass shattered into small splinters across the adobe-tiled floor. Pulling the photograph from between the shards of glass, filled with rage and despair, Emilio ripped it into pieces.
Antonio was the reason the scars upon his heart never faded. What a fool his brother was! Antonio had no idea of his brother’s true feelings toward him and Emilio planned to keep it that way—for now. But when he struck, Antonio would know. He would feel nothing but pain, the kind Emilio felt everyday of his life.
Emilio’s plans were long term. They had to be. He knew the desired effect might not come to fruition for years, perhaps even a decade. But he had plans and they had been brewing for nearly five years, since he was merely a boy of fifteen. He had been patient for this long. He would be patient for as long as it took.
He remembered that day five years ago so very clearly.
Emilio came home early from school, ditching because he hadn’t studied for a test. He did not want Antonio to find out that he’d left school early, so he crept quietly up the outside back steps to the guesthouse, which was several yards away from the main quarters, a place where he knew he could hide out until the appropriate time.
He smelled the candles first. He smiled, knowing he was about to get a show from his Don Juan of a brother and some beautiful young thing. Antonio was known to bring women to the guesthouse and light a few rose scented candles, put on some soft music, and then, having set the mood, complete his conquest.
Emilio crawled along the balcony of the small villa, carefully rising up to peek into the window. The music playing--soft, low, romantic--the woman’s back toward him. Antonio held her close, stroking her long black hair, whispering something in her ear.
That hair, the lithe body. A shiver of delight slithered through Emilio as he watched in awe.
Antonio placed his hands on the woman’s shoulders and easily slipped off her dress, letting it fall to the ground. Emilio closed his eyes, ashamed to be watching. But curiosity and raging hormones opened them. The woman stood completely naked. Antonio swooped her up and carried her to the bed and laid her down on the red sateen comforter.
Emilio felt the first painful tug on his heart when he saw her face as Antonio put his hands on either side of it and kissed her. Emilio blinked his eyes, shook his head and looked again. Antonio pulled back, reached over to the nightstand by the bed and poured her a glass of wine. It was then, as Emilio watched her drink the velvet liquid that he saw, understood and learned of betrayal of the worst kind. There, drinking wine, falling under his brother’s seductive spell, lay Marianna. His Marianna. The girl of fourteen who was destined to be is wife, his lover. Emilio loved this girl and she’d sworn her devotion to him. They had been nothing but lies.
His body, which had shivered with delight watching the show, now shook with rage. The sweat trickling from his brow ran down his face and into his mouth tasting salty and bitter. He made himself turn back to the window and watch.
After he watched the two people he’d loved more than life do the worst imaginable to him, he ran into the cacao fields and vomited, ached and cried. His clothing wet from sweat created from his anger and the intense humidity sweeping across the overgrown fields. Finally, he stopped, and falling to his knees he threw back his head. “Marianna!” He bellowed her name over and over again in such agony that it silenced the birds across the valley set in between two mountain ranges.
How could she have done this? His Marianna? How could Antonio have done this? Emilio had loved Marianna since they were seven-years-old. Even as a child, he’d known that God had placed her here on this earth for him, only him. Seeing them together, watching as they grew into young adults together, Antonio knew this, and still, he had stolen her from him, betraying them both.
Brokenhearted and filled with vengeance, Emilio waited for her to leave the villa. He stalked her path until she reached the edge of the fields where he grabbed her from behind, covered her mouth with a hand stronger than even he realized. Knocking her to the ground, he wrapped his hands around her tiny neck and strangled her to death as she struggled, watching him with knowing and terrified eyes. Then, snatching her up, he carried her to the river where he weighted her body with large rocks and tossed her into the rushing waters. She was never been found.
Emilio had sobbed, distraught, filled with remorse, anger, and fear. His brother, unaware that Marianna lay at the bottom of the river, consoled him saying they’d find the lost girl and urged him to move on with his life. No. Emilio wanted no life at all. He was beyond caring for anything life could offer him. A few days after killing his love, filled with irrevocable guilt, desperation, and hatred, he slit his wrists.
Antonio found him lying in a pool of blood by the river, and frantically sent for the doctor, begging him to save his brother. Emilio lost a great deal of blood, but with time and care, was healed. When he was well enough and out of danger, Antonio screamed at him, “You are a fool! There is not a woman in this world whose life is worthy of taking your own.”
Now, many years later, he understood why he had watched the entire seduction take place. He now knew why he had not bolted away at the first glance of her beautiful face, and why he bore the pain of seeing her in his brother’s embrace. He had to completely fill his heart with his hatred of Antonio, fill it with the rage of betrayal. He’d succeeded, and he’d learned to hide that hatred. Emilio was as smart and conniving as his older brother. After all, it was his older brother who had taught him how to be evil.
As he looked out the large, paned window that faced the main house, Emilio vowed to seek revenge. He lived in that same dreaded guesthouse, the place where he’d watched his reality being pulled out from under him. But he didn’t mind. Living there meant he could never forget. And living there meant he had a good view of Antonio and Lydia’s bedroom, where he watched Lydia every morning as she took her coffee out onto the balcony. She dressed in sheer negligees, unaware of his watching eyes. She was gorgeous, truly magnificent. And she was part of Emilio’s plan.
The mountaintop fortress, surrounded by lush green jungle, palm trees, and armed guards, had been constructed to take in the Pacific Ocean views on the north end of Guadalajara. The only way to reach the villa was by a ponga, which took about forty minutes from the city’s harbor, or by one small dirt road that took hours and was an excruciating trip. It was the kind of place that caused outsiders passing by on pongas to look up at with awe and wonder at those who resided inside. It was only a vacation home.
The morning passed quietly and was uncharacteristically brisk as Javier Rodriguez sat out back on the veranda overlooking the steel-gray sea below him, where waves crashed hard against the ragged edges of rocks etched into the mountain side by time. Looking a little to the north, he spotted fishermen heading out off the white sand beach in search of the evening’s meal. The calming scent of orange blossoms and the richness of the jungle’s soil combined with the ocean breezes and would normally have eased Javier’s troubled mind. Despite the lack of humidity this part of the world was known for, beads of perspiration trickled down Javier’s back. He was drinking his second cup of coffee when Antonio, his long-time friend from Colombia, joined him in the idyllic setting. Antonio’s dark eyes were alert, his black hair slicked back, and he was dressed immaculately in a white silk shirt and khakis. He sat down at the wicker-backed chair next to Javier, a slight smile easing across his genteel face.
“Ah, good morning, Antonio. I take it you slept well?” Javier set his mug down on the breakfast table.
“Of course. I always sleep well when I visit your home. The sounds of the ocean lull a man to sleep. Everything is comfortable here, and your servants are always so charming and friendly.” Antonio raised his eyebrows, his smile widening. He rubbed his fingers together and then, with slightly longer nails than most men, began easing his nails back and forth underneath one another.
“I apologize that I could not greet you last night when you arrived. Cynthia and I were busy with my father.”
“No need to apologize. I settled in quite nicely. How is your father?”
“He isn’t well. Cynthia has been spending a great deal of time caring for him. He doesn’t have long. If you’d like to see him while you’re here, he’s in the west wing of the house. I can take you there later.”
“If he’s up to it. It troubles me to hear that his health is failing. He was very good to me after my parents passed. I wouldn’t want to disturb him.”
“No. He would be happy to see you, Antonio. He loves you like a son. You remind him of when your father and he ran things. His memories are the only thing that I believe keep him alive.”
Antonio sighed and nodded. “Those days are past. The old generation is nearly gone. When your father dies it will be only you and me to rule over our growing empire. And I’m here to tell you, in order to see it grow as we hope, we must rule with ferocity and wield an iron fist!” Antonio slammed his own fist against the glass table. He laughed raising his head up and staring into his friend’s eyes.
“You’re a vicious man, Antonio,” Javier replied teasingly, although he meant every word. Antonio was a ruthless man, had been since childhood when they’d grown up together in Colombia. After secondary school, Javier had gone to the university in Mexico City and then made the decision to move to Guadalajara and pursue politics. He and Antonio had remained friends through those years and recently had begun collaborating in business together. Javier’s fear of his compadre matched his love and respect for him.
“Yes and no. I prefer, my friend, to think of myself as a realist. My father is dead and yours is dying. You’re the ruler here in Jalisco, and I believe it is very clear to all that I am the patrón. With good planning, you could go on to become the president of Mexico. The PRI is going through a crisis. Diaz Ordaz cannot even control the people,” Antonio said, referring to the current president. “Together, my friend, we’ll go far. But we need to be very clear on that. For our survival, it is vital for us to always work together and never against each other. Don’t you agree?” Antonio lit a cigar between his manicured fingers and exhaled puffs of the acrid smoke into the morning air.
“Absolutely.” There was no choice but to agree with his old friend. Even though Javier was the governor of the state of Jalisco, and the idea of becoming president interested him, it was Antonio Espinoza who ruled much of South America. Of course, he was not considered an official ruler, but in effect, he was clearly seen as the ruler, especially to those that it mattered to.
Antonio was the head of one of the wealthiest and largest coffee plantation families in Colombia. He’d taken over the empire at a young age, following the death of both his mother and father in a boating accident. Antonio had expanded that empire by also dabbling in illegal businesses, in which Javier took an active role.
“Our families have known each other for a long time.” Antonio leaned back in the chair, stretching out his legs.
“Of course, since our great-grandfathers.”
Antonio arched his neck back, gazing up at the volatile skies. “That’s why we have always remained like brothers and our business together is so successful. And now we have opportunities like never before.” He smiled again. “I see something ahead of us that will make us far more wealthy and powerful than either of us ever imagined. You see, my friend,” Antonio started, leaning in closer to Javier, lowering his voice, “there is a new wave approaching. The Italian mafia has ruled in the United States and Europe now for a long time. What they do not know is that there is competition on the horizon. And that is you and me.”
Javier shook his head. “Come on, Cabrón. Do you really think the Italian mafia will allow us into their world?”
Antonio shrugged. “It doesn’t matter if they welcome us with open arms. I don’t think they’ll be pleased to have any kind of competition. We don’t need them.”
“Aren’t you afraid of death? They are ruthless men. The world knows this.”
“I fear nothing, my dear friend. If I did, I would’ve been dead long ago. Besides, what we deal in does not hold interest for the Italians. And by the time they do discover us and what we have to offer, they’ll want to do business with us because they’ll have to if they want to get involved. For now though, I have no intention on dealing with the Italians. I want to get ahead of the game. However, we must move quietly lest we provoke their interest and they learn of the amount of money there is to be made. Go about this the right way, and they’ll leave us alone. For now.”
Javier wasn’t so sure. He’d heard a great many stories about the mafioso, and regardless of what Antonio said, he knew that they did have an interest in the drug trade. But he would continue to do as he always did and follow Antonio’s lead, hoping it would all turn out as fruitful as his friend guaranteed him.
****Antonio poured himself a snifter of bourbon. He paced the floor of the guesthouse, and looked again at the clock. She was late.
He tossed back his drink, heat rising to his face, and he thought twice before pouring another. Dulling his senses was not what he wanted to do. No. Feeling every sensation, every nerve come alive as he touched her beautiful skin was his desire. Feeling was what he loved about being with Marta.
In an attempt to deny his need for her, Antonio stretched out on the downy sheets-- white, satin. Cynthia hadn’t missed a thing when putting a luxurious vacation home together for Javier. Even the guesthouse had the best that money could buy.
A faint tap on the door catapulted Antonio out of bed. He stopped himself. He had to regain his composure; never let her know exactly how much she meant to him. He straightened his black silk pajamas, casually turned the knob, and pulled the door open.
There she stood. So lovely. The jasmine scented perfume that he’d given her on a previous visit enveloped his senses. It was indeed heavenly, a seductive intoxication. He shuddered inside as his hungry eyes absorbed the vision before him. She was indeed beautiful, clad in a flowing, light pink dress that only emphasized her essential purity. He could barely control himself, wanting to take the dinner tray from her and toss it aside and devour her instead. “Come in,” he said, not liking the unmistakable anxiety in his voice. What kind of spell did this woman have over him?
She stepped over the threshold, moving to the coffee table where she set down his dinner and a bottle of wine. Antonio stood behind her and touched his lips ever so softly to the nape of her neck. It was useless continuing to try and control his passion. It was useless for her as well. She turned, her dark eyes hungry for him, she embraced him. Their bodies merged as he took her face in his hands and pressed his lips to hers.
“I’ve missed you, Antonio,” she whispered, her voice like dew on morning leaves, soft, gentle, sweet.
“I’ve missed you, too.”
“When can we be together? How much longer do we have to wait? And why do I have to wait? I do not understand this, Antonio. I know I am only a servant, but we’re in love. You’ve said so a hundred times, and you’ve promised me that we would be together.”
“It is far more difficult than you can understand,” Antonio replied, not ready to delve into the politics of their relationship. He had one desire here.
“I’m not a stupid woman, Antonio. I may be young, and therefore not wise in the ways of the world, as you’ve enjoyed reminding me.” She smiled coyly. “But I am far from ignorant, and I am very confused at the length of time it has taken for us to be together. I need you.” She pouted, her full lips making her completely irresistible.
He held her by her shoulders. “Soon, my sweet. All that I have will soon be yours.” He sealed this lie with a long, deep kiss, and all her doubts seemed to disappear as she smiled, her face relaxing, and trust for him filling her eyes. His heart beat hard against his chest, not only filled with passion, but with guilt and panic, as well. How could he continue this?
Marta accepted both his lies and his desire and let her dress fall to the floor, exposing her delicate figure. Antonio swooped her up into his arms and positioned her on the bed. Their touching became feverish, quickly establishing a bond of intimacy.
Like a panther that had captured his prey, Antonio’s passion was so intense that Marta could do nothing except surrender to his overwhelming sensuality. Starting with her mouth, he reacquainted himself with every inch of her. His tongue trailed past her neck, finding her breasts waiting. Quickly reacting to his touch, her nipples grew hard and she arched her back, aching for more. As his mouth devoured her breasts, Antonio’s hand worked its way with slow expertise between Marta’s thighs. She moaned when his fingers found her moist skin, and she dug her nails into his shoulders as he worked his hand against her. Then, when her arousal became overwhelming, Antonio heard the change in her breathing that signaled she needed more. He could tell by her trembling how much she needed the weight of his body pressed against hers, the feeling of him moving inside her, and the immeasurable pleasure he would bring to her. His firm masculinity replaced his fingers as he went on to sate both their erotic appetites. Later, when their desires were fully quenched, they clung together in the tangled sheets.
“I love you, Antonio Espinoza. I promise to always love you.”
Antonio didn’t have the heart to reply, knowing that any promises he had already made were futile.