â€œSomeone murdered mis palomas,â€ Susan cried to John. â€œThey were found dead this morning. What am I going to do?â€
â€œTamara will be okay,â€ John assured her. â€œShe doesnâ€™t need doves to get married.â€
â€œWe have to find new doves,â€ Susan insisted with the determination of a general planning an invasion. A crash and then smoke erupted from the kitchen and she marched across the courtyard; ready to wrangle pigeons out of the sky and put out flames with her bare hands if thatâ€™s what it would take to give her one and only daughter a perfect wedding.
There would be no drugstore bouquet, no sleepy-eyed Vegas officiate, or a 24/7 all-you-can-eat buffet reception while slot machines clanged in the background for her daughter. Instead, rose petals would cascade on Will and Tamara as they danced to an eight-piece mariachi group at sunset.
Speaking of which, where the hell were those mariachis?
â€œMom,â€ Tamara hissed out the window of the hacienda they were renting for the day.
Susan flapped her arms at her. â€œGet back inside or heâ€™ll see you!â€
â€œCome up then!â€
Didnâ€™t Tamara realize what she was trying to do? Doves! Fire! Mariachis! Suddenly doves were spinning in her head, their wings flapping out all sound, round and round until two arms caught her as her legs gave way.
â€œMom!â€ Susan heard Tamara yell and she mumbled, â€œStay inside. Will canâ€™t â€¦ bad luck.â€
She knew without opening her eyes that it was John, his chest a warm, familiar haven. â€œSlow down, Susan,â€ he said.
â€œWhat happened?â€ she heard Will ask. Heâ€™ll make such a good father, she thought.
â€œSheâ€™s okay,â€ John answered. â€œSheâ€™s muttering something about doves, do you know what sheâ€™s talking about?â€
â€œI was told to rent my tuxedo, wash the paint off my hands and show up on time.â€
â€œLucky you,â€ John grumbled.
â€œI heard that,â€ Susan said, the wooziness fading away. She had to get up. So much to-
â€œMi vida thatâ€™s enough,â€ John said, catching her again when she failed to sit up. â€œDo you want Tamara to get married while youâ€™re unconscious?â€
â€œNo but John-â€œ She began to cry. â€œI want it to be perfect.â€
He sighed. â€œI love you, mi vida.â€ He then jerked his head at Will. â€œStay with her a moment. Iâ€™ll be right back.â€
She cried harder and Will told her it would be okay. But he didnâ€™t understand! Her husband had abandoned her in most desperate hour of need. He didnâ€™t want their daughter to have the wedding of her dreams. He didnâ€™t care that all those hours, all that planning and dieting would all come to nothing.
â€œIf you donâ€™t get two white doves down here in twenty minutes Iâ€™ll-â€ Johnâ€™s threats made Will tense.
But Susan peeked through her fingers. John stood, feet planted wide with a cell phone to his ear and his left wrist held out. Did his shoulders seem broader, his voice deeper? Her John, the young man she had pledged her life to at 2:37 a.m. on a wintry Vegas night, grew taller right before her very eyes.
She turned to Will. He was so much like her husband, her amor, her corazon. Even if the cake caught on fire or the food was cold, her daughter would marry a man who would comfort his mother-in-law; a man who would take command when her daughter couldnâ€™t go on, who would threaten bodily harm to a stranger over two white doves.
â€œMijo,â€ she said tenderly. â€œGo inside. Iâ€™ll be fine.â€
â€œAre you sure?â€ His intense eyes bored into hers.
â€œGo tell Tamara that her father and I have everything under control. Vamos.â€
A grin slowly stretched his lips. The two of them had been dying to see one another since Susan made Tamara spend the night at home.
â€œAnd tell her you love her,â€ Susan said before he let her go. â€œAlways tell her that you love her.â€