Cultural Diffusion Ch. 02byCoCoNiy101©
"I've been to America a few times." Marlennys said from the opposite side of the shelf. She and Kat were in a large vintage shop that sold everything you could think of. A medium height shelf filled with small pieces of jewelry separated the two women as they shopped and chatted simultaneously.
"What'd you think about it?" Kat asked while inspecting a bracelet she thought Patricia might have liked.
"It's nice. The people are very foreign and cold to one another, even though they are strangers." Marlennys said with a thoughtful look. Kat nodded in agreement. Wherever she went, someone always said good morning, good evening, goodnight or just gave her a warm smile.
"Yeah, I've noticed that."
"I'm sure Argentina is a big change for you... do you like it?" She said.
"I really do. It's almost as busy as the city, but in its own way its better."
"Very true. Although 3 months is a long time. Hopefully you won't get home sick." Marlennys said with a devious grin. Every emotion or expression she made still left her looking beautiful.
"I don't think I will." Kat said truthfully. She had a lot to work with in this new country and her business and excitement should stop her from reflecting on America. Her job was something she loved, she had great people to depend on and Alejandro had his own positive effect.
"Good. So Luis has sort of a thing for you hm?" Marlennys asked Kat. Kat looked up at her immediately with intentions on reading her face for any type of joking expression.
"No, I don't think it's like that with him—or for me." She said.
"Ay mama, I'm not sure. He definitely seems like he likes you. But maybe not. I don't know everything." She said with a chuckled.
"... Did he say something to you?" Kat asked. She really didn't want to hurt anyone's feelings especially someone who was so sweet and warm to her. The only person she could really consider as anything more than a friend, wasn't Luis.
"No. But he doesn't need to. Again, I don't know everything." Marlennys said. But Kat knew she wouldn't be able to get over the possibility of giving someone the wrong idea.
Kat could barely sleep the night before her date. She repeatedly let her mind wander toward the kiss she and Alejandro shared and it kept her on edge. She anticipated the next time their lips would be able to connect and it sent tingles down her spine. She had her outfit of jean shorts and a red strapless baby doll top that set her skin nicely, planned out on the dresser.
Kat enjoyed her coffee while watching the civilians outside and spotted Alejandro approaching the hotel. To clarify the time with herself she found it was 8:24. She smiled with her arms crossed while she watched him walk leisurely towards the hotel entrance below her. His curls were drenched and much longer than they were earlier that week; he must have just taken a shower. Kat waited just a few more minutes before heading down to meet him
He was sitting in the lobby chair reading a Spanish magazine as Kat approached him. He looked up at her and gave her a half smile. Kat smiled back in response as he got out of his seat.
"Where to first?" He asked her. He began laughing as they walked out onto the sidewalk when Kat gave him a disbelieving look. She couldn't believe her tour guide was asking her where she wanted to go. "I'm joking." He laughed. They walked out towards the street and Alejandro approached a black Camry. He began to unlock the doors and but noticed Kat's expression.
"What?" He asked.
"Do you mind if we take public transportation? I really don't know you too well..." She said bashfully. Alejandro laughed and nodded thoughtfully. He really couldn't blame her for wanting to be safe. He waved his hands to signal a cab and it stopped for him immediately. He held the door open for her and she thanked him quietly in sweet Spanish.
"Argentina museum." He told the driver. He nodded and pulled off back into traffic. Kat gave into the need to fully take in the scent of his hair; they smelled like the ripest mango to have ever existed. The scent swarmed in the enclosed space and she wished she could get a little closer to smell it. His hair dried quickly and it was now perfectly curled and giving him ultimate sex appeal.
"Where are your kids?" Kat asked.
"With their mama. They'll be home tonight. She has them on the weekends but she's doing something tomorrow and needed to bring them home early."
"Oh okay." Kat said nodding.
"You like museums don't you?" He asked sincerely.
"Okay great." Alejandro said in relief. He leaned back into his seat a little further and Kat silently admired his dark jeans and navy blue crew neck tee.
"You really like this stuff?" Alejandro asked. Kat noticed his blatant boredom with this museum. Kat quietly read off all the podiums and every time she had a question to ask him about some background history on the monument he was either looking around carelessly or watching her with dreamy eyes. She wondered what made him choose this place to begin with if he knew he wouldn't like it.
"Yes, it's interesting." Kat said, defending a museum on an area that wasn't even hers. She would expect him to hold a little more enthusiasm than he did. He rolled his eyes playfully and Kat had no other option then to laugh and smirk. She was really enjoying being around Alejandro and she didn't want to imagine their day together ending.
"You ever been to America?" Kat asked as they walked down a tribal wing of the museum. The white floors tuned into wood and the lights went dim to add emphasis to the jungle theme of the area.
"Yes, a few times to see some family in New York." He said casually. Kat was uplifted at the discovery and Alejandro watched her distractedly as her energy level grew.
"I'm from New York." She said with a bright smile on her face. Alejandro nodded as if he already knew and had some previous evidence to explain how he assumed it.
"I heard your accent, it sounded familiar." He said, focusing his attention away from her and into the adjacent glass case. Kat stopped in front of a podium to read but this time she read in her head silently. He stepped beside her, the closest he had been since their kiss. Kat could feel the electricity of his feather light breathing on the top of her head. She blinked a little longer than normal and his quiet voice startled her.
"Why aren't you reading out loud?" He asked in a bass voice.
"I just thought you wouldn't want to hear me talk about—"
"No." He started quickly. "Let me hear your voice." He whispered into her ear. Kat could've sworn she heard a smile in his accent, but she couldn't force herself to open her eyes and stop dwelling on his effect on her. She felt a little weak in her knees and she could tell Alejandro was still within touching space. She opened her eyes to see his own eyes on her powerfully. He looked so intrigued by her response as they continued to watch one another. He took another 3 seconds to gaze at her before he proceeded towards her lips. Kat closed her eyes in preparation to be pecked and felt the soft lips graze over hers just the most minimal amount ever possible to not be considered a kiss. She opened her lids and could only see Alejandro's bright teeth because his lips were curled into a laughing smile. His shoulders bounced as he snickered silently and when he pulled away was when his booming sounds began to surface. Kat narrowed her eyes on him before she began walking back down the museum's trail while Alejandro continued to laugh behind her.
"Mira, I'm sorry." Alejandro said while the two stood outside and waited on a bus. The sun was at its peak and Kat wished the bus would hurry.
"For what?" Kat asked with fake curiosity. She knew exactly why he was apologizing.
"For the false kiss." He said while laughing. Kat faced the street and dramatically flipped her hair over her bare shoulder as she spoke.
"Oh, well... I really didn't want it that badly to begin with." She said jokingly. Alejandro turned to face her with a deceitful smile on his lips. Kat didn't pay him any attention and she continued to look further down the street, hoping to see the bus.
"Is that so?" He growled in her ear. Just as he spoke the last word in his sentence and his hands reached to grip her hips, the bus pulled onto the curb. It halted with a loud creek on its breaks and Alejandro led her up the steps. When he paid the fare for them both, he looked down the aisle to discover it was filled to its capacity. Alejandro ventured as far into the bus as he could and was able to get within reach of an overhead railing.
Kat watched his arm classically flex before her eyes and his veins stretched through the skin. The bus lurched forward the slightest amount and she frantically looked for something to latch onto. The overhead railing was too far away for her to comfortably hold onto.
Alejandro watched her for another 3 seconds and when the bus came to a somewhat hard stop, he decided to take the matters into his own hands. He let his free hand stretch outward and coil around her waist. His hand was spread wide and firmly on Kat's midsection.
She stood with her back pressed hardly against his abdomen and Kat inaudibly sighed in contentment. They moved in synchronization and when the bus came to a fairly fast stop or turned too sharp, his grip tightened around her. Kat had no idea where they were going, but when his arms wrapped around her, she had forgotten to ask.
"Eva Peron was the wife of Argentina's president Juan Domingo Peron. She got the women the vote, won benefits for workers, founded schools, orphanages and hospitals. Unfortunately, she developed uterine cancer. She was the first Argentinean to receive chemotherapy." Their tour guide, Martin said. Kat and Alejandro were at the Recoleta cemetery.
It wasn't a typical cemetery. There were tombs lined up side by side as if they were town houses on a mainstreet. When you came to the end of the 'road' there was a new corner you could turn to—like a maze. Kat was somewhat freaked out since the 10 cats sat lazily around, but she was still fascinated by the information the tour guide gave her. He pointed towards Eva's tomb that was still covered in flowers even though she passed more than 50 years ago.
"Okay, there are some open tombs you can walk through. Meet back in 10—stay close and be careful!" Martin said from the front of the group of 15. The slowly walked around and silently read the words of love on the crypts. Alejandro had taken Kat's hand and led her through the streets of tombs. It was evident he knew where he was going and Kat allowed him to lead her until he stopped ahead of a tall grave. It was open but had stairs leading it deep into the ground right at the door. Alejandro began descending the stairs but stopped when he didn't feel Kat following. Kat was stuck at the top of the stairs with unnerving fear flowing through her that was preventing her feet from following him. The stair case was pitched black.
"Nothing's going to happen." He told her. The certainty in his words shook Kat to life. When the stairs ended, there was a small room at its stop. The room was small but beautiful. As soon as she entered, the only thing she noticed was the stained glass covering the whole surface of the ceiling. It pierced the floor with stunning colors and a pattern of a cross, surrounded by vibrant butterflies.
Alejandro however, was already across the room and focusing his attention onto the large cement block. Kat cautiously stood beside him and read the gold plate placed in the center of the block.
"Here lies Miriam Diaz, a wonderful mother, daughter, wife and grandmother. She will be eternally loved and forever an angel."
Kat sat in silence beside him for a moment while he spoke to her silently. He rested his hand on the inscription and shut his eyes in concentration. When he finally did open his eyes, he opened them in her direction. The force and emotion behind them was something that didn't give her the usual sensation of arousal. She wanted to comfort him.
"This is my grandmother. She passed 4 months ago." He said quietly.
"You have my condolences." She said. Kat reached a hand up toward his face to push a strand of hair away from his eyes, in a simple friendly action. The grief he was still trying to overcome sat boldly in his pupils and Kat knew he came to the small room often.
Alejandro had taken Kat to get some classic Hispanic food and they walked around embracing the bright Argentinean sun. Now it was nearing 8 o'clock and their cab ride was filled with obvious exhaustion. The cab stopped in front of her hotel and she opened the door to exit. Alejandro got out smoothly and walked to his car he had left early that morning.
"I'll see you later." Kat told him when they stood outside the passenger door. He smiled down on her in admiration.
"Alright chica." He said back. He quickly drove off down the street into the darkness and she took note of the urgency in his driving and figured it must have had something to do with his kids. Kat turned around and walked up to the front door of her hotel.
"Hola senorita! You dropped!" He said in a husky voice. Kat turned around and reached for the flap of her messenger bag. The flap was closed and the buckle on snugly. The man was large and bulky, with black hair gelled back to his nape. He moved towards her rapidly and she met him halfway. He gave her the bill and she received it warily.
"Gracias." She distrustfully said at the same time she began to turn back in the direction of her hotel. But to her surprise the man quickly took place in her line of vision.
"You tour tomorrow?" He asked in broken English. Kat knew this man had no connection with a tour facility at all. He was standing outside completely alone at 8 o'clock at night and he barely knew any English at all. Kat sensed the danger radiating off of him like body heat as he blocked her way and looked down on her with narrowed eyes. He swiftly looked behind her into the street and then back on her as if he were communicating something unknowingly.
"I give you deal." He said. Something about the way he phrased his words hinted something sexual and she was eager to get around him. Her fear was kicking in and she knew he couldn't be alone.
"In exchange for what?" A voice growled behind Kat in fluent, angry Spanish. Kat was too frightened to tear her eyes off of the man in front of her, in fear of what he might do. But her better judgment had a good idea on who it was defending her and she was truly grateful.
"Mind your business man." The man in front of her barked back.
"Kat, get in the car." She was certain it was Alejandro by the way he said her name. Without hesitation she quickly moved away from the man to get into Alejandro's car. Kat anxiously sat in the passenger seat as Alejandro took more time to make his way back to the car.
"Bye chocolate baby!" The man called, waving at her and Alejandro as he promptly drove down the street. Kat had never felt so sheltered yet so exposed in her life. She had left everything in her hotel room yet she didn't think she'd ever go near that place again.
"What was that?" Kat asked. His already manly jawbone was clenched tightly in anger and his joking demeanor was nowhere to be found. His hands tightened on the wheel and his face was flushed red.
"I'm so sorry Kat. I should've made sure you got in safely. I just wanted to get the kids—" Kat cut him off with a hand in the air.
"Understandable. Things happen and I know—" Kat was cut off by Alejandro, and his anger had shown through in his words.
"Things happen? Kat. Do you know what they wanted from you?" He asked seriously.
"Probably just some money." Kat said, but in all sincerity; she really didn't know. He didn't seem interested in money; he seemed more interested in her. But for Alejandro to say 'they', plural, it put a chill down her spine.
"No. They wanted sex. They wanted to keep you, and sell you. That's something you need to watch out for here. You barely know anyone and your disappearance could probably go months unknown, especially since you're visiting so long. You can't go back to that hotel. They'll be looking for you, especially since I defended you like that..." Alejandro said, trailing off towards the end of his sentence. Kat kept her eyes outside her window and she was overcome with horror. She had been so eager to visit this new territory but not even in her second week here she was already a wanted woman and a wanted participant in sex trafficking. She couldn't help the tear that fell down her eyes and the sudden gratitude she felt towards Alejandro. Who knows where she could've ended up without him?
"Ay, don't cry." He said much more delicately. He reached a hand out for hers gently. His thumb stoked the soft spot on the back of her hands."I'll go get your things tomorrow and you can stay at my house if you want. Or we could find you a new hotel close to me. But I don't want you too far away." Kat couldn't tell if it was for his own purposes that he wanted her closely or to protect her. But she was fine with either option he decided to choose.
They pulled up to an apartment complex. It was long and only had about 3 stories to it. Kat got out of the car and walked up towards the door that Alejandro unlocked with a key and held open for her. There were mailboxes along the walls and the smell was a mixture of deliciously tasting food and cigarettes. On the back wall was an elevator but on both sides of the elevator were two doors. Alejandro walked towards the one on the left and Kat realized it was the first row of apartments. He was fortunate enough to live on the first floor. He headed for the end of the hall and knocked on one of the doors. Kat could hear the faint chattering of children on the other side right before it opened. A small Hispanic woman released the door and wore a long night gown that show cased red hearts. Her skin was vibrant and her big glasses were too big for her face. 2 kids came running out to greet their daddy cheerfully. But Alejandro tried his best to quiet them down as he bent to their level to hug them.
Maribel had Alejandro's hair completely; it was wild and curly but only hers reached her hips. Her eyes were golden brown and her cheeks were flushed permanent pink. Diego had the same cheeks as Maribel and Alejandro but his eyes were dark brown. His hair was cut in an adorable bowl cut right above his eyelids. His hair texture allowed him to contain the haircut because it was thick and bone straight. He had a jawbone just like his dad but this feature made him more cute than sexy.
"I missed you guys." Alejandro said as he kissed each child on the cheek delicately. They hardly noticed Kat's existence and Alejandro made eye contact with her briefly.
"This is my friend Kat." Alejandro said. The kids suddenly faced her and she smiled lightly. She felt so edgy in front of the kids and she prayed silently that they liked her.
"This is your friend?" Maribel asked Alejandro and he smiled at her reassuringly.
To Kat's surprise Maribel approached her and took her hand in hers and silently admired her small gold ring with her ruby birthstone in it. Alejandro smiled at her as he rose from kneeling with Diego in his hands. Maribel kept her hand in hers and Kat knew they'd become good friends with time. Alejandro turned to the door right in front of the babysitter's and used his key to open it.
The inside of his apartment was warm and homely. It was scattered with toys and pictures of his family and kids. The couch was a big sectional and the walls were a deep grey. Kat could tell he attempted to style the living room but was overcome by the action to leave it the way it was. Maribel and Diego ran to their bedrooms and Kat stood admiring all the pictures. Alejandro watched her at the door's entrance with his hands in his pockets. Kat didn't notice him at first as she continued to look over the photos. She smiled at the picture of his two kids as infants in the hospital. Alejandro's footsteps on the hardwood floor walked passed her in a slow stride.