Sunday, November 1, 2009

It time for NaNo again...Ack!!!

Since I've been doing creative writing since cuneiform LOL I still have tons of old stories that I had put aside. Of course, I had to find them. I went straight to my nightstand where I had the latest two that I hadn't started. I certainly didn't want to do the 684 handwritten page one. That one will be broken at least in half, maybe thirds. I had one where I didn't like the Male Main Character, so I never finished that one. I have a scifi/adventure that might've worked, a fantasy/thriller about Selkies one I wrote in 79 and another I got an A on in college. They were in this humungous file that I had stuffed in the cellar. And because it floods, the edges of them all got a bit wet. If I have strange dreams that might make an interesting story, I write them down. Cuz you just never know...

This is a bit of background about LAST YEAR'S story:

I decided to use the one that was the most heartbreaking romance I had ever read, next to Knight in Shining Armour. It's based in the present day. The FMC(Female Main Character) is an orphan and the MMC(Male Main Character) is a reincarnated soul making up for pastlife misdeeds. It's based on a dream I had way back in 93 ish. The person that I based the MMC died soon after I started the story and when I put it aside he came to me and told me that he was disappointed in me that I hadn't finished it. Depression even hurts dead people. sigh. The FMC isn't based on a real person, not even me LOL

I even won a contest for the first week for having the most words at 15K. I won a sweatshirt that says "Renegade Writer". The head of the region where I am is really a writer for Silhouette. Lucky!

So here's a few excerpts from Last Year's effortfor your enjoyment:

Excerpt One:
Nila Olwen pushed back her newly hennaed hair and sighed. She was absolutely finished with people! She couldn't believe that after all hard work and complaining that she had had to endure with her last client that the woman had had the unmitigated GALL to paint the crappy 70's ranch PeptoBismol Pink with Mint Green shutters and Venous Blood Purple railings!

She was definitely a reject from good taste class! Nila had chosen a classic Barn Red with a complimentary Creamy White and it would've looked awesome! She almost wished that her mother hens, Esther and Sarah hadn't stopped by her cramped pigeon hole in the basement of Welcome Home Realty Company, but they HAD gotten her a lot of her work. Nila restored old houses and made newer ones look fresher and brighter. Her jobs were pretty seasonal and since she had a work force of one, she couldn't be THAT selective. She could tear down and put up drywall with the best of the guys and wielded a pretty effective paint brush. Her clients had always praised her use of colour and paper…except for this last one…She made it a matter of pride that she frequented the local Mom and Pop shops in Weymouth, Braintree, and Quincy for her supplies, sometimes wandering as far afield as Dorchester and Southie if need be for a special order.

Right now, since she had finished with Mrs. Taste-in-her-Ass's place,she had no new projects on the near horizon. But with the economy swirling the drain, everyone was hurting. Interest rates were bouncing like rubber balls, and no one was looking for a new house or were too busy trying to keep the one they HAD over their head. She could use that monthly mystery check right about now. They had been coming for as long as she could remember. They were always drawn on a big Boston bank and forwarded to her at Welcome Home. More than once she had been down to her last dollar and the check would show up and she'd be solvent once again. And it wasn't like she was an airhead when it came to money matters, but living in a tight economy was just very hard for a single girl on her own. Sometimes the check had been enough to cover her rent and other bills, sometimes leeway, and sometimes a little extra to treat herself to takeout at Panda Palace or La Paloma. Her parents had always made her save a part of the checks even though they themselves didn't believe in banks. Well they were around in the 60's and all…And Nila always thought it was strange that her brother Kenny never got a mystery check. She had always assumed that it came from grandparents that her parents had gotten into a fight with and never forgave, but had always been close to the little girl anyways. Thinking of her family always made Nila depressed…as strange as they had been, she knew that they had loved their children. And now that they were gone, she was extremely conscious of what she was missing.

As she pondered, the office manager knocked on the door.

"Hi, John, come in."

He was okay looking her books: brown hair and hazel eyes and he was always nice to her. They had gone out a few times, but Nila had made it clear that she wanted to be his friend and nothing more. He had readily agreed and things had remained pleasant between them.

"Nice colour, Nila, but was it in your budget?" He indicated her new hair colour.

"It was until my last client stiffed me her last payment", she responded bitterly.

"Taste-in-her-Ass woman, I presume."

"Yep. None other."

"Well then, I've got good news and bad news for you, friend. Which would you like first?"

"Neither" she thought.

"Then I will decide! Bad news is no spring off for you this year, my girl. And the good news is, da-da-daah! There's a registered letter in my office for a certain Nila Olwen, who comes highly recommended. The person wants their house updated over on Old Town Way."

Nila knew the one. It hadn't been lived in for years and Esther and Sarah couldn't even give it away!

"It hasn't fallen down yet?"

"No such luck, but that's the one. AND, they want you to start next week."

Nila dutifully consulted her ever present Witches' Date Book and said that she was clear until next year.

Nila spent the following two days closing the book on her previous client. She was debating take her to small claims court, but decided against the action. If the woman wanted to live in a house that someone could throw up on and not notice a change, that was fine. Besides, she could always write it off on her taxes as a business loss.

Saturday, Nila spent at the Town Hall, then at the Public Library, taking pages and pages of notes. There hadn't been an owner of record for 50 years, but the taxes had always been paid from an Estate account…

"Curious", she thought, filing the fact away. The last owner on the list had died during World War II in the Philippines and his body was never found…Lots of bodies were just left by the wayside during the Death Marches; 25% she recalled. The poor guy had been a philanthropist, and had never married or had children. There was a yellowed picture in the microfiched archives. He was handsome, but his eyes were sad.

"Bummer", she said out loud, looking quickly around to make sure no one heard her.

The house was over a hundred years old, she wrote in her notes, and the family had come from old, old, OLD Spanish money.

Excerpt Two:

Monday, she went to the office on Centre Street and got the key for the house. It was this huge, heavy, antique, filigreed monstrosity, but it was the only one for the place. It was at the foot of a dead end street, and looked just as bad as the last time she had made the trip out there. She had always preferred to work on old houses. In Nila's opinion, the newer models didn't have the potential of an Colonial or Victorian. She pulled her Piece of Crap K car wagon into the drive. She got out, grabbed her work bag with her digital camera and notebook inside, and climbed the stairs. Inserting the key into the lock, she was amazed that the door opened as if it had just been locked rather than 50 years ago. There weren't nearly as many broken windows as she would've thought, and it seems structurally sound, as she rapped on walls and stomped on floorboards. She decided to check out the upper floors first. With her foot on the first riser, she heard a sound, like that of a coin being dropped into a ceramic piggy bank. She took out her pepper spray, hoping she wouldn't have to use it, and went from room to room. The last place to look was the covered porch and she was humming the theme from "The Twilight Zone" as she she only saw HER footprints in the dust. She turned to go back into the house through the kitchen when, to her surprise, on a large wooden table that looked like it had come over on the Mayflower, was a clear glass bottle with a coin inside and a cork in the mouth.

"Alright guys! This isn't funny!" She yelled thinking that her buddies were playing a trick on her. She needed to get her preliminary photos done and the light was fading. She hurried upstairs and checked out the rooms. The largest room would be changed into a master suite with the adjoining bath. She had nearly fainted over the orgy-sized clawfooted tub and the high tank commode with the brass pull chain. The first floor den would have floor to ceiling bookcases installed. The new owner had insisted on that, so at least it was a possibility that they liked books…At the office they had tried to figure out the size of the family that would live in the house once it was finished.

On Friday, John met her at the house. Nila went in ahead. She smelled cigar smoke and the bottle was still there. She went to get her companion and it was gone! She couldn't figure out how he might be playing that trick, but figured if she ignored him, he'd get tired of baiting her. She did a couple of quick sketches of what she wanted to do upstairs and in the attic. The widow's walk needed a lot of work. An expert would be hired to do that. Blacksmithing wasn't in her repertoire. From there, she could see the tops of the surrounding trees and she felt as if she was walking on air.

"It would be nice up here in the summer" John remarked from behind her. "You'd just have to be careful of bats".

"Bats don't get in your hair, you dingdong. They like to eat the insects that you kick up."

"Speaking of that, how about lunch?"

"You buying?" When he nodded, Nila agreed. It was about time for a good meatball sub.

The weekend she spent writing the requisite report and suggestions for the property. Word processing wasn't her forte, but she managed to bang things out on her ancient Smith Corona paperweight. The owner had the contract written up and her first payment was safely in her bank account. She was to mail her report registered mail to the Sheraton. If they could afford that, Hell, they could afford a lot better house than the one she was working on. But that $1,000 would go a long way towards keeping her safely ensconced in her dinky in-law apartment for a while longer. Hopefully, this job would help her get out of it before her landlord got too much more "friendly". She had to run his gauntlet coming and going and she was getting tired of it. She wished that he might slip under the wheels of a T bus and she'd be rid of him for good. She still felt sick when she remembered the day that she had found him in her place supposedly fixing a place that was "leaking" with something that wasn't a pipe wrench in his hand standing over her underwear drawer. She immediately called the cops and a day in lock up hadn't helped matters. Nor had the restraining order made out at the same time.

Nila cooled her heels for a week, chewing her nails and pacing, until the owner got back to her. It was okay for her to start the work…In the middle of March, she was in the house to check colours for paint and paper. For some strange reason, she tried the door and found it was unlocked…but she clearly remembered locking it up and the girls hadn't been by because she had the only key.

"Okay, what gives?" She thought wishing for a rabid Tasmanian Devil in her bag. She pushed the door open.

"Hello? Anyone home?" She was tempted to beat feet back to the car when she smelled the cigar smoke again, but knowing there was the much needed money in her account made her mind up for her. She took a deep breath and went straight upstairs to work. She found nearly perfect matches for paper that was already hanging in 3 out of 4 of the upstairs rooms. The master bedroom was giving her a hard time, but she knew she'd get it right if she had to travel to Mars to get it. The floors throughout needed to be sanded down and refinished and did the chair rails and the banisters. The brass fittings in the closet sized first floor bath would take forever to polish up, but it would be worth the worn knuckles in the end.

She went downstairs to the kitchen again, to see what she could do there. And again, the bottle was sitting in the middle of the table! She decided to take the matter in hand. She carefully picked it up and shook it around so that she could see the coin better. It was a Piece of Eight that looked like it had been minted just this year, even though the date was 1521!

"Who would leave such an expensive artifact in this place?" She asked aloud.

"¿Este lugar?"

Nila spun around and dropped the bottle which shattered when it hit the floor. The coin rolled around her feet, under the table and right to the speaker, who picked it up and pocketed it.

Excerpt Three:

"What are you doing in my house?" she squeaked.

"Your house?" the man echoed. "I have bought this casa and you must be Mrs. Olwen. Me llama Senor Santiago Anastasio Diego Ab-del Hussein de Arcelay".

Nila was too busy looking her client over to come up with any words that might've made sense.

He stood just about six feet tall with dark wavy hair, graying at his temples. His dark eyes were magnified by the gold wire rimmed glasses he wore. He had on a charcoal grey double breasted suit that certainly wasn't off the rack, a white linen shirt and a silk tie, all of which set off his dark olive skin. He helped her outside and sat her down on the back steps. Nila was

rather glad of the help or she would've fallen down already. He sat beside her and lit another cigar. She noticed that it was also expensive…Obviously, he never went half way with anything. His baritone had just the trace of an accent, but she felt as if he could read a take out menu and have it sound like a Browning sonnet.

"I am sorry that I frightened you, but I was informed that I had to see the pretty Senorita who was in my house."

Nila vowed to kick her two matchmaking buddies. She hadn't had a man in her life since the divorce two years, three months, one week and 5 days ago, she mentally tallied. The shit head had left her for a younger woman!

"Since when is 32 so damned old?" she asked herself.

"I think it's a wonderful age, querida."

She was so embarrassed that she had spoken out loud that she did the most reasonable thing: She fled, leaving a rooster tail of gravel behind her, and the mysterious Mr. Arcelay sitting on the stairs with his cigar.

Nila went home, took the phone off the hook, got into some well-loved sweats and curled up in her battered LaZboy to get some paperwork done.

"Dammit!" she cursed. She had left her work bag back at the house. But there was no way she was going back there unless she KNEW that HE wasn't there. Maybe he'd be a REAL gentleman and drop it off at the office. Then to her horror, she realized that she had also left her wallet in it! What if he brought it to her house now that he knew her address? She would rather have a cage match with a pissed off kitty.

Nila awoke to a knocking at her front door. She stretched to get the kinks out of her back from sleeping in the recliner. She had fallen asleep with Japanese horror movies for company, with her popcorn bowl on her lap. She was disheveled, with stray salt clinging to her lips, as she stumbled to open it. Her grey eyes got so wide that she was amazed that they didn't fall out and roll around on the floor at the sight of her visitor. She grabbed her bag from his outstretched hand and slammed the door shut. It didn't latch and bounced open again. He poked his head inside, inspecting her living room. She had dumped the popcorn bowl on the floor so there were kernels everywhere.

"What if he thinks I'm like this all the time?" she thought in mortification. She threw on her favourite denim jumper over a white pin tucked shirt and a pair of leather boots. "Just a minute", she called running a brush through her hair before putting it into a ponytail.

"I prefer a woman's hair loose", he stated, examining her. Nila hoped he didn't find her too lacking in whatever he was looking for, then wanted to kick herself for even thinking that way.

"What brings you here, Senor?"

"I presume that you wanted to continue your work, no?"

"But I only work on unoccupied houses. It's not very effective to have to step over people when I'm working. And, besides, I left my job."

"Senorita, I have seen others' work and yours. And yours is the best and I would appreciate it if you would continue. I have taken the liberty of speaking with Mr. Sanders and he said that it's fine if you finish."

Someone was going to get a kick in the ass, when she went back to the office.

"How about if I give you your money back?" she offered.

"All I want is for you to do some work for me, querida, nada mas."

Anything else would complicate things. And Nila had been out of the dating scene for so long that she had no idea whether the rules had changed, but she had no excuses left. She sighed.

"Okay" and they shook hands to seal the deal.

"May I have your company for desayuno?"

Her stomach rumbled for an answer. She had planned on McDonald's drive through, but the restaurant that Mr. Arcelay named would've made Henry the Eighth stop in his tracks. Outside, she gasped in horror at the mint Cordoba that was parked in front. Thank the Gods she hadn't hit it. Mr. Arcelay drove the classic car with a leisurely grace that would've made him seem equally at home on horseback. It's white leather interior was immaculate and the wine body was perfect. Rust was the only thing holding HER car together.

Once at the restaurant, the Maitre d' looked down his nose at Nila's casual garb and she was sure that she wouldn't be let in, but one look at her host made him change his mind.

She could've rolled out of the restaurant when they were done. Mr. Arcelay hadn't even let her leave a tip, which would've bankrupted her for the week, but put the meal on his charge. He slipped the waitress an extra $5 for her service along with the 20% that was already added to the bill. Once again, Nila was reminded of how nice it would be to have money to throw around.

Mr. Arcelay opened the car door for her, and shut it once she was settled and belted in. He turned the key and adjusted the stereo. It was like being on the 50 yard line at Carnegie Hall. She could feel the music flowing over her like a wave of honey. The album playing was something called "Thunder Drums" and her feet couldn't help, but keep time to the rhythm.

"You like this?" he questioned.


"I am glad. It reminds me of old Spain before the Inquisitors."

"Is Spain where you're from?"

"Yes and no", he replied, and changed the subject. "You can be at the house at 8 on Monday?"

"Yes, and thanks for breakfast."

"No, querida, the pleasure was all mine."

After Mr. Arcelay dropped her off, she noticed that it was after 2:30! They had spent over 2 hours at the restaurant! Nila was disconcerted. Had she eaten too much? Did he like women that ate a grain of rice and said that they were full? Had he minded that she had 3 cups of coffee to his one? She promised herself to be more ladylike the next time…

"What next time, dunderhead?", she asked herself. Maybe he had done it out of pity for the airhead that left her things behind. But she was almost afraid to hope that he WOULD ask her out again, just because he was such a conundrum and he fascinated her.

Monday at 7:30 she was pulling into the drive at Number 5 Old Town Way. She had gotten up way too early, not having slept all that well. She took an extra long shower with her best soap which hadn't been used since her last date…Her mind stopped cold. It wasn't a DATE, she was working and was sure to be covered in wallpaper crumbs and dust by 10. After she dried off, she slipped on her favourite work outfit: winter camouflage pants and a special edition Gipsy Kings T-shirt that John had gotten her when he went to the concert. She hadn't been able to go. In that type of a mood anyways, she popped the live album, the Outback, the Los Lobos soundtrack of La Bamba, and the original Broadway recording of West Side Story into her bag with her headset. Earbuds gave her the willies…too many horror movies. She hoped that Mr. Arcelay wasn't going to be there, but if he was he wouldn't be too upset with her music choices.

His car was in the drive so she parked out front. Nila hesitated about going in the front with him inside, so she snuck around the back. He must've been waiting for her, because he called her name.

"Only servants go to the back", he explained. Today he was dressed in a burgundy velour shirt, navy Dockers and oxblood tassel loafers. Nila had always though that tassels were sort of "gay" on men's shoes, but he could carry it off. She dropped her gear in the kitchen, dragged her portable CD player and CD's out and started for the stairs.

"Have you eaten yet?"

"Yes," she lied. "But I could go for a cup of coffee."

"You are early so we may go out, no?"

Nila was torn between just running out to Dunkin Donuts or staying in the house with the mysterious owner

"Why can't you make it here?"

"All of my things are in a storage facility, querida. So we must go out. Beside's it is a lovely spring day. Should we not get to enjoy a small slice of it?"

"But shouldn't I be working?" he shot her a disappointed look.

"But I pay you, no?" What could she say to that? It WAS true.

An hour later, she was ready to begin work. And Mr. Arcelay insisted on helping! Nila was pleasantly surprised. In her experience, most of the clients ran for the hills. The rest hovered and complained or changed their minds halfway through the project. They bickered amiably over the width of the burgundy stripe for the master suite until she asked him if he would be able to stand living in a room that resembled a candy cane. They worked on taking off the old paper and gladly found that the former owner had been considerate enough NOT to have made an archaeological dig on the walls to make her job that much easier. In her little place, there had been six layers, each tackier than the last. In frustration, she had yanked down all the drywall and hung brand new sheetrock, then sponge painted the whole thing so that it resembled a beach. The slimy landlord had reduced her rent "just this once" and taken her security deposit "just in case" before "suggesting" that she do the same in his bedroom. Nila had wisely rebuffed the offer. She had feelers out for a new place, but the way things were, who knew? At least, Mr. Arcelay had money to burn, she thought spitefully. Redoing his house, even at her more than reasonable rates, would cost him a pretty peso. They worked all day and got all the old paper down, the walls washed with TSP and two coats of stain kill and basecoat .. Mr. Arcelay decided to call it quits. He had said that he was staying at the Sheraton until she was done. She couldn't even afford a cocktail napkin and he was going to be there for at least 6 months…Nila thought caustically.

"You are angry with me, querida…Why?"

"People with money suck!" She spat. "They act like the whole damned world owes them something. I work like a freaking dog to keep a crappy roof over my head and people like you just roll a C-note to light your stupid cancer sticks. You probably haven't worked a day in your life, inheriting your money from some old Inquisitor and are trying to spend it all before you drop dead yourself!"

These last words were muffled in a drop cloth as she angrily dashed the tears from her eyes. She hadn't noticed that Mr. Arcelay had gone dead white at the mention of the Inquisition, because her back was to him.

He crossed to where she stood, as rigid in her resentment as the walls they had been working on, and put a hand on her shoulder.

"Do you truly believe this, querida? That I have never worked a day in my life? Look at my hands, Nila. They have seen much work". She made note of the callouses and some disfigurement from writing.

"Come with me a minute".

They went out to his car and drove to his storage unit. He unlocked it and lifted the door. "This is my work, Nila."

She stepped around him and gazed in awe. NO WONDER he wanted built-in bookshelves! The whole space was filled with books, arranged in neat stacks as tall as she was. She examined some of the closest, fingering the fancy gold lettering on the spines. Mr. Arcelay's name, greatly abbreviated, was featured on at least 75% of them!

"You wrote all these?"

"Only the translations and a couple of the others."

Nila saw more than a couple. She scooped up a newer looking clump with a sheet of paper on top. It had a listing of ALL of the tomes that were contained in that storage unit. There were histories of Spain and the New World, the Inquisition, all the way up to Francisco Franco's death. But she was more shocked to see Carlos Castenada, Starhawk, Murry Hope, Sylvia Browne, and a couple of Fate and Archaeology magazines listed too.

"I thought you'd be too old for some of this stuff", she informed him.

"One is never too old to learn, querida. Will you inform Torquemada?" Nila winced as she recalled what she had yelled at him.

"Not even if I went through the Auto de Fe". He took her hand and gave her a quite Continental kiss on the back of it.

"We should get back to mi casa" Mr. Arcelay stated. "Can you be ready for dinner by 8?"

It was 6 now, but Nila already knew what she'd be wearing: her Gypsy outfit, velvet patchwork skirt, black velvet vest, plain white tux shirt (all from Pier One) and her totally out of her budget, but had to have black velvet "witch" boots. Mr. Jordan and Mr. Marsh were probably giving each other high fives over the sale.

She had almost convinced herself to say "No" to Mr. Arcelay, but she had enjoyed the man's company too much. No one she had dated before had ever made her feel so special and they weren't really even dating! He was her BOSS for the Gods' sakes.

Nila was dressed and made up by 7:15. She paced her apartment and waited…and waited. The minutes crept by at the speed of glacier. When the doorbell finally rang, she flew to the door to let him in.

"Goin' out tonight, are we?" It was her landlord who shoved past her into her sanctuary. She glanced quickly at her Marvin the Martian watch and prayed for a miracle. 7:25. "Come on, Mr. Arcelay, please don't be late!"

A car door closed and she sprang to the door again. Her landlord gave her boss a once-over, noting the 24 karat tie tack, Rolex watch and Burberry trench coat.

"Got yourself a sugar daddy, dontcha?" Nila ignored him and went to get her wool cape. "She's a real nice one, ain't she?" Mr. Arcelay followed her to the closet.

"I do not like this man. He is unclean." he muttered in Nila's ear. "Must you stay in this place?"

"It's all I can afford right now, Mr. Arcelay" she retorted. "If I could leave, I would".

"I am sorry to have upset you once again today. May I be forgiven?"

They both heard the fake vomiting sounds from the doorway and turned around.

"What the Hell do you want anyway?" Nila, snapped, feeling her wonderful mood flying out the window.

"I'll see you later", the landlord oozed. She had to check the urge to scrub the place clean with napalm after he left.

The night's restaurant Mr. Arcelay had chosen was excellent, of course. Nila found herself like the finer things that her boss was able to show her. They had a Filet Mignon that was so tender that you could've used a straw to eat it. Her salad had huge leaves of lettuce and tomato chunks you could've climbed like Mount Everest. He had chosen a rich burgundy to complement the meal and she felt it go straight to her head. The Senor was a wonderful conversationalist, regaling her with tales of Spain, the New World and the Caribbean Island countries she had once governed. He made it seem as if he had actually been there, but it had to have been all of the research for his writing. His parents had sent him to the best Catholic schools while praying he would find his calling with the priesthood.

"I'm glad you didn't", Nila blurted, covered her mouth, then giggled. The Senor smiled indulgently.

"I'm a fine catch, no?"

"No! Yes! Oh, Hell!" she giggled again. "I'm making such an ass of myself. I'm sorry Santiago." she peeped over the top of her linen napkin at him in dread.

"It is okay if you call me by name, querida. The sky will not fall on you."

"I apologize. I…It must be the wine. I don't usually drink." Nila lowered her gaze to her empty glass. She didn't drink because that was what had taken her family from her. They had gotten stuck at the Allston/Brighton tolls and some drunken asshole had smashed into them from behind. The Pinto had exploded into the fireball that they had been recalled for, and the only thing left had been ashes. The drunk had had a tooth knocked out, that was the extent of her injuries. It hadn't been fair to the 13 year old and it still hurt as much as the day it had happened. She had spent the next 5 years in foster homes and no one had appeared to adopt her. At 18, she had taken the insurance money and struck out on her own for college. She had done a double major of interior design and architecture and had 3.5's in both. The only side track had been her ill-fated marriage. When she had finally gotten tired of his women-on-the-side deal, Nila had tracked him down at the bimbo "du jour" and served him the papers. And that ended that! She had set up her little business at the realty office in exchange for helping Sarah and Esther wring a few more dollars out of each sale for "Potential Improvement Consultations".

"What an eventful life you have led, Senorita." The Senor uttered.

A horrified Nila hadn't realized that she had been speaking aloud.

"Shall we have coffee, now, and dessert?"

Their plates had long been cleared and the waiter hovered impatiently.

"Light, no sugar, and carrot cake please".

Mr. Arcelay ordered the same as Nila. Once refills had been waved away, the waiter brought the check. She gasped as he put it on his Platinum AMEX. It was over $100 for the both of them!

"Do they charge by the hour?" Nila queried, once inside the car. He laughed.

"I'll drive you home now. We have an early day tomorrow."

Hope you enjoyed these glimpses into the story of Nila and Santiago.

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