It is a lovely September day, not too warm but warm enough that the children are running around shirtless, bare feet chasing each other in a backyard full of aunts and cousins and nieces and friends and a few neighbors that became family a long time ago.
Andrea Reyes is carefully counting forks and spoons, making sure there’s enough for everyone, when the first chords of ‘La ventanita’ start blasting from the stereo, snapping her out of the task in hand.
She turns around to look at her husband.
- Oh Gaby, ¿escuchas? – she is beaming all of a sudden, the song clearly having some special significance for her.
Gabriel chuckles fondly, not taking his eyes from the barbecue’s burner he’s been trying to bring back to life for the last 20 minutes.
- Déjalo, ¡vamos! - she says, the cutlery now abandoned, while she lifts her arm towards him.
- ¡Mujer! – Gabriel looks up – Not if you want us to eat any time soon.
He is a good, loving man but he can come across as harsh if you don’t know him well. Andrea rolls her eyes at him, there is no point in pushing him, but she won’t be giving up just yet. She looks around and soon sees TK leaning on the edge of the table, mindlessly nursing an almost gone glass of her homemade iced tea.
Desde que me dejaste
la ventanita del amor se me cerró
She’s by his side in a few energetic strides. Surprised, TK turns to look at her, half a frown on his face, but she is taking his hand and leading him closer to the spot where the music is coming from before he can even grasp what’s going on.
- Come dance with me.
- Oh no, no I’m alright – he’s trying, very subtly, to stop her on her tracks but the woman is truly a force of nature.
- Come on!
-No, no, no, I… urgh…- but then she stops, looks him in the eyes and he knows she’s already won.
- ¡Será posible con estos hombres! – she huffs as she takes the glass still in his hand and leaves it on the grass and the next thing he knows, she is showing him the basic steps of merengue.
- Look, just like this – she takes his right hand in hers and settles the other one firmly on his shoulder- Just shift your weight from one foot to the other, and then we move back and forth. See? One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight. It’s very easy!
Tengo el alma en pedazos
Ya no aguanto esta pena
Tanto tiempo sin verte es como una condena
Turns out it is not that complicated. Andrea is moving smoothly and after a few beats, TK is actually enjoying it too. It is not like he would ever say no to this woman. She had warmed to him even before he was properly introduced to her. She cooks his favorite meals and gives him her bendiciones whenever they part ways. She makes sure he feels that he belongs to this family. All in. No hesitation.
Gabriel has been watching the whole scene with a smirk, feeling sympathy for the boy. He is about to make a move when Carlos drops the crate of beer on the floor at his feet.
- I hope you meant this one because I am not going back to that basement until we fix the… -Carlos notices that his father is not really paying attention to him. He looks very amused by something happening in the backyard, so he follows his gaze and then he sees it.
Desde que me dejaste
No hago mas nada que extrañarte, corazón
TK is lifting both of his mother’s hands up into the air. Andrea goes under her arms in a 360 degree turn, ending with her arms crossed. Then she turns back around in the opposite direction uncrossing them while laughing at TK’s sudden offhand movement.
Gabriel gives his son a knowing nod and starts walking towards the dancing pair. Carlos is biting his smile, his heart full of affection and gratitude and pure, untethered love. He watches his dad pat Andrea’s shoulders. She turns his head and gives him an obviously fake indignant look. TK laughs at whatever it is being said and lifts both his hands in defeat, gesturing for Gabriel to take it from there.
TK watches the couple swing to the rhythm of the next song as he starts to walk backwards when he feels two strong hands gripping his hips, followed by a familiar weight pressing on his back and a warm nose nuzzling behind his ear.
- Not bad, Strand – Carlos’ voice is low and teasing, but TK can feel the smile behind the words – I saw some sexy moves right there.
- Oh, shut up – TK objects, mortified. He turns around in Carlos’ grip so they are facing each other and just lets himself be hold close for a few minutes, his face buried in Carlos’ neck, inhaling the smell of his boyfriend’s aftershave. Carlos is intoxicating. TK can’t find a better way to describe it.
Summer will be soon fading into a distant memory. But on the other hand, that warm feeling in Carlos’ chest as he presses a lingering kiss in TK’s temple, well… that is certainly not going anywhere.