Author Topic: In This Time-Ch 16 (start)-Political novel set in Peru (1233 words)  (Read 425 times)

Offline Sharon L

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Chapter XVI.

Ingrid came to the salon at one-thirty and Naoko invited her and her entire family to the house, explaining that Soledad had someone visiting from Huancayo.

"I have to go early today to make sure that our guest is not destroying my kitchen so get in touch with Lázaro and the others before that you finish up here today. If you don’t have many customers, shut down by four. Don't forget to turn on the lobby lights before leaving.”
   
"Thanks, Naoko." "We’ll bring something the drinks so you don’t have to bother."
   
"Alright then, I have no beer in the house, but don’t bring more than one or two large bottles. The Cusqueña brand will do."
   
"Chau, then. We’ll see you around five-thirty."
   
"Don't forget to bring Mateo. Your sister is already more than old enough to celebrate with us and shouldn’t stay home alone babysitting."
   
"She might be studying with a school friend this evening. Can we also invite Arturo if he doesn't have to go home right away?"
   
"Why not? More is more!"
   
Running to Vinos Ugareli, two blocks from her bus stop at Paseo de la República, Naoko knew she wouldn’t have much time to get ready after showing Rodrigo his way around the kitchen. Deciding not to take a shower because Rodrigo would only be a few steps away, she figured on dressing down instead of up due to the time crunch. If Rodrigo has not burned anything by the time I get there I think that this could turn out to be quite the party. I’ll give him the heads-up that we may have two or three more people at the table, including Mateo. The bus driver made a sharp turn which jolted another thought into her head: Do I warn this guy about Sonia? If Soledad does not bring enough alcoholic beverages to keep her content this could be quite the evening.
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Soledad called the house and Rodrigo answered once he found the phone’s receiver beneath the sofa. Doesn’t Naoko lock this up when no one is home?  She must really trust her tenants--and the guests who come to visit too. Not aware of the Díaz connection to the house, upon hearing Soledad’s voice, Rodrigo didn’t know how to appreciate the situation he was in. At the moment he was just focused on where to stash his backpack.
   
"Can I store my stuff in a room before you arrive? Which one is yours?"   
   
"For now just toss your things on the sofa. That’s been my space for a while now so I give you permission. When I get there I’ll ask to Naoko let you sleep there since you're not returning to the hotel."   
   
Will she be good with that?" Knowing that he would soon see Naoko, Rodrigo did not want to be in a bargaining position, negotiating before Soledad got there.
   
"You're practically my brother, Rodrigo. She won’t see you as an enemy."
   
"You still see me as a brother? Alright then, I'll have that do something special tonight to change that.” Smiling to himself, as he knew she hated being teased, he added, “Just know that the food is ready for the grill. I have not played with anything outside of the kitchen, as you directed."
   
"I’ll see you soon then. I have almost finished editing the section Fermín assigned me at the last minute, but as I see that many are taking off early I’ll check with him to see if I can cut out around three-thirty. There’s a particular purchase I have to make before I get back.”
   
"Just before hanging up the phone, Rodrigo heard someone coming up the back steps of the house quite loudly. Complaining about one thing or another, the voice that was making all the racket stopped suddenly in front of Naoko’s door so Rodrigo decided to bid her farewell just as she was about to warn him:
   
"It’s possible that Sonia will get in from her trip today. She’ll most likely be quite tired so don’t worry if you don’t get more than a word or two from her before she retires to our room."   
   
With that, the back door opened and Rodrigo faced Soledad’s current lover for the first time. Sonia, with suitcase in her left hand and a cigarette dangling from her lips, nearly fainted upon seeing a man with an apron on, but did not allow the fear she felt find expression in her face. The fierce look Sonia gave Rodrigo masked her surprise as well.
   
"And who the hell are you?"
   
The door, wide open now, made it easy for Naoko to enter with her purchases without having to find her key. Seeing Sonia and Rodrigo in the kitchen doorway she realized she was already too late. Sighing, Naoko said, "Sonia, this is a friend of Soledad’s who has just arrived from Huancayo. Looking at Rodrigo directly, Naoko asked, “How’s dinner going? I bought wine and some of that orange Sabore as we’ll have a younger guest present."
   
Noting the familiar way that Naoko spoke to the man, Sonia straightened out her travel suit and took her suitcase directly to the room that Soledad has just mentioned was the one they shared. Aloud, her back to Naoko, she asked, "Does this person have a name?"
   
Rodrigo figured it was time to break his silence and answered, "My name is Rodrigo, señora."   
   
Both he and Naoko heard Sonia turn her room key in the bedroom door’s lock. The click of metal hitting metal still resounded in the narrow hall as Sonia dropped her things and threw herself on the queen-sized bed. Shortly afterwards, a loud clamor came from that bedroom. Rodrigo was already back in the kitchen so he didn’t hear the din, but Naoko understood what was going on. Closing the door of that bedroom tight she thought to herself, miserable Soledad. She should have been here to deal with this. Well, this time Sonia will have to resolve this situation on her own as I don’t want to deal with these outbursts all night. Like what happened with that Violeta. I hope Rodrigo is ready to defend himself even though he has done nothing to merit this so far.
   
A strange odor emerged from the kitchen and upon entering, Naoko suspected that Rodrigo had found out where she kept her more expensive powders. “Lord!" she exclaimed, opening the small window next to the refrigerator. Naoko’s eyes were watering, but Rodrigo seemed unaffected by the amount of curry powder that permeated the air. Months later, Naoko reported that Rodrigo’s first culinary mistake in her house was committed this afternoon. Knowing that he would soon have other, more important things to work out that night, she grabbed the frying pan from his hand, dumped the curious sauce he had concocted into the sink, and set about taking back control of her favorite room in the house.
   
For her part, Sonia had taken offense to Rodrigo the minute she saw he was wearing her favorite apron. A gift from Soledad, it was always the one that Sonia placed around the two of them when they used the deck grill together. She didn’t like the look of it on him and would burn it in front of Soledad the next time they quarreled. Maybe that will happen sooner than she knows.
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 This chapter will continue with the next post. All feedback/edits welcome!