Love, in Spanish(7)

By: Karina Halle

“Besides,” Pedro adds, “it’s always good to mixthings up. With Diego leaving, we want to ensure thatthe players and the audience are riveted as always.Having a player like you back in the saddle, so to speak,would attract a lot of attention to the team. Especiallysince you’ve been in the public eye again this past year.”

I swallow and give him an uneasy smile. He doesn’tseem too pleased about that, how the paparazzi went alittle crazy over my divorce, and the scandal of dating ayounger, foreign woman. I wait for Pedro to bring upVera, but he doesn’t.

“You don’t have to give us your answer now,” hesays smoothly, his face going from stern contempt to oneof a crafty politician. “We have plenty of time. Howabout you let us know by the end of the week and we’lltake the next steps from there? This will no doubt changeyour life, Mateo, but only for the better.”

Lunch is served soon after and their talks turn to thesport, to films, to the weather. I smile and nod but I amtrapped inside my head. One part of me feels ready toburst from happiness, from the prospect of fulfillment,while another part is digging its nails in, afraid to let go,afraid of more change.

We leave the restaurant together, and I tell them I’llgive them a call on Friday. They wave me off as if theyknow my answer already. Perhaps I know it too. Still, Ishare my life with Vera and would not act without discussing it with her, even if I wasone hundred percent certain.

We get two steps down the cracked concrete stairsbefore a flashbulb goes off in my face. A slimphotographer with a long mullet is crouching down,taking our picture. I’ve seen him before, snapping shotsof me and Vera on our nights out but that was monthsand months ago.

“Why is Mateo Casalles meeting with Atlético?”the photographer asks but Pedro just smiles and raiseshis hand in a slight wave before turning to the left. I goright, and the photographer follows me, an easy target.

“Are you joining Atlético again, Mateo?” hepersists, and I turn slightly to give him a look.

“Don’t you have anything better to do?” I say, andkeep walking. He doesn’t bother following me beyondthe corner.

By the time I’m back at the apartment, the sun isoverbearing, and the streets, even in our neighborhood,the elegant Salamanca barrio, smell like garbage anddust. The building offers a cool respite, and when I openthe door to our flat, Vera is standing in the gleamingkitchen, stirring a pitcher of lemonade.

“Aren’t you a sight for sore eyes?” I ask as I put mykeys on the table, remembering the particular Englishphrase.

She turns to me and gives me a big smile. She lookslike a housewife from the 1950s with the eyes of afemme fatale. She’s squeezed herself into a fittedstrapless yellow dress that shows off her full breasts andwide hips, and has a silk patterned scarf pulling hervoracious hair off her forehead. But her tattoos and blackhigh-top sneakers remind me that she’s not like anyother housewife I know.

“Very good,” she says, always pleased when Iremember the idiosyncrasies of her language. She raisesthe pitcher. “Don’t worry, there’s vodka in it.”

I grin at her and wrap my arms around her waist,pulling her up against me. “Of course there is.”

She yelps as a bit of the lemonade splashes over theside and onto the floor but I don’t let go. She manages toput the pitcher down before I bury my face in her neck,nipping and kissing at her delicate skin. She tastes likesunshine and citrus.

“So,” she says breathlessly, and I can feel her pulsequickening beneath my lips. I run my hand over theslope of her ass and give it a hard squeeze as I pressmyself against her. “Do I have to ask how it went?”

“I will tell you all about it,” I murmur, “later. Butyou’re wearing that dress and making me drunkenlemonade on this hot day, and I’m afraid I’ll have to dealwith you first.”

I bring my lips to the space behind her ear whereher newest tattoo is. It says, in Spanish, Love, in Spanishis you, something I said to Vera back in La Albercawhen I was first falling for her. It remains true to thisday. I run the tip of my tongue over the words, and sheshudders beneath me. She can never resist that, thoughshe never seems to resist anything.

I love that about her.

I grab hold of the zipper at the back of her dress andslowly start pulling it down until her breasts are free. Icup them, my mouth grazing her nipples that puckerbeneath me. I take my time, wanting to enjoy everyminute with them in this bright light, this cool kitchen,this hot city.

She moans as I run my tongue around in deliberatecircles, and she starts to run her fingers through my hair,tugging on it gently. It ignites nerves that shoot directlyto my cock but I’m already hard as steel and strainingagainst my pants.

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