Love, in Spanish

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I am in love with a villain.

At least, she calls herself a villain. I’m not sure ifthe meaning is lost in translation—Vera does speak witha lot of English slang—or if she is being literal. But I donot see her as a villain. I see her as a girl, as a woman, asa friend, and as a lover. I see her as my star, one shethinks has burned too much for the both of us.

She is not wrong. We both have burned, and insome ways, gladly. There have been many risks thatwere worth taking and many times that we have fallen,but we always fall together. Our journey has never beeneasy. The only thing easy in all of this is my love for her.It is pure, it is simple, and it is true.

One would think that after all we have been throughtogether, the tears and the torment, the witch hunts andthe slander, at some point the path would become clear,smooth, and even.

But the road only twists and turns. It is foreveruphill, forever testing us.

Through it all we have each other, two exiled souls.We pay for our sins with each kiss, we feel our mistakeswith each touch.

And despite all that, I fear the day when it allbecomes easy.

I fear that’s the day when she’ll be taken away.

My lover, my friend, my star.

She can only shine for so long.

Until she is gone for good.

Chapter One

My dearest Estrella,

I am writing this letter in hopes you will one dayread it. I am not sure if I have the strength to place it inyour hand, or if you’ll read this from home in Canada.That is your home, is it not? Not here, with me inMadrid. I don’t deserve that. I would ask for you topardon my English but I believe you have pardonedenough of me so far.

All I can say is that I’m sorry. Lo siento, lo siento,lo siento. And it is not enough. I know it is not enough.To tell you how much my heart is bleeding with you goneis not enough. To tell you that you are my stars and mymoon and my universe…it is not enough. I don’t know ifanything will be enough to take back the pain I havecaused you. I don’t know if anything will be enough tomake things right.

I am wounded, my dear angel, and I fear you arewounded too.

I will not make excuses. But I will explain where Iwent wrong and why it happened. It doesn’t changeanything, but if you can understand the shoes I am in,maybe you will know…

I never wanted to hurt you.

I know you saw me and Isabel on the street. When Ilooked up, I saw you running away. You stand out on thestreets of Madrid like a sore thumb, but that does notsound very flattering, does it? Funny little phrase. Youstand out—always—to me. I feel as if we are connectedin ways I cannot even begin to understand, and whenyou are near, I know. My heart races. It is a peculiarthing, this heart, is it not?

I know that after the night before, seeing me kissher must have hurt like an arrow in your chest. Butnothing is the way that you see it. But before I begin, Imust go back. I must start from where I think the threadsbegan to unravel.

When we first parted ways in Las Palabras, I knewI would see you again. I knew I would do whatever I hadto in order to bring you back into my life. When I said Icouldn’t see the stars from the city, I was not kidding.The skies here are dark and grey, and so was my heart,so was my life.

Chloe Ann was the only bright spot in my day, andsoon I knew I had to make a decision. Do I stay withIsabel for my daughter’s sake? Or do I risk it for you?

As you know, I risked it. I figured, vainly perhaps,that if I stayed unhappy with Isabel, Chloe Ann would beable to tell and she would be unhappy too. Children aresmarter than we give them credit for, are they not? Andso I thought I had to end it. I was not happy. I knewIsabel was not happy. There was more to my black andwhite world than the path I was supposed to stick to.

You brought me colors and stars and cosmos andwonders. I wanted you so badly, craved you so much,that I knew I would suffer whatever bad things wouldcome my way. There would be repercussions for myactions—I knew this, and I knew no one but you wouldunderstand.

Life is full of hard choices.

I chose you.

Isabel could hardly believe it. I can’t blame her. Insome ways, I couldn’t believe it either. That I was doingthis, taking this step, and risking it all on you. You, Vera,were the unknown. You still are. But I had faith in whatwe had, that our connection was more than lust andromance…it was deeper and brighter than that.

No one believed me. Why should they? They see ithappen all the time, the man approaching middle-age,trading in his wife for a younger one. They said I wasthinking with my cock, that I was caught up in the sexand the shiny new thing that you were. Of course, I wasenamored with you, of course the sex was better than Icould have ever imagined. But they didn’t understandthe truth behind all of it. They didn’t believe I was inlove with you.

I don’t even think you believed it. But of course Iam, more now than ever. And love makes you do sillythings.

In what you would call hindsight, I see now that itwas reckless and impulsive of me to ask you to move toSpain. I should have waited until the divorce was final. Ishould have waited until you were out of school.

I was foolish and very selfish and very scared. Icould only see you, only think of you. I just wanted youhere so badly, and I was afraid that if I waited, youwould leave me. You would find someone better,someone your own age with less baggage. Sometimes itsurprises me that you could even want me at all.

But you did. You agreed to come here, and eventhough I knew deep down it would be better for everyoneif we waited until the dust settled, I risked it. I wouldhave walked over burning coals for you, just to have youin my arms. I would have put the whole world injeopardy just to be inside you again.

I should have been the adult here. I should haveknown better. But my heart got the best of me. I broughtyou here, right into the flames. I thought I could shelteryou from the heat, that I could protect you, that I couldride out the inferno with you safely under my arm.

But I was wrong. And because of my recklessness,you had to suffer. I had to suffer. My daughter had tosuffer. Everyone is suffering.

And you are gone.

The other night when Isabel showed up, that wasthe hardest night of my life, harder than the night wemade love at Las Palabras, knowing we had to saygoodbye the next day.

I never wanted it to happen that way. I neverwanted Isabel to see you, nor you to see her. I knew youwere already wrapped in guilt, and I knew Isabel wouldonly hurt. She is a beautiful woman and she is stillyoung. But seeing you—so fresh and shining so brightly,it would have only destroyed her, made her feel old, weak, useless. Those feelingswould turn to anger, and her anger is a sharp anddangerous object.

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