Even amidst the crowded nightlife on the riverwalk, people trained admiring gazes on Carlos. How could they not? Clad—much dressier than usual—in white linen pants and a black silk shirt that highlighted his glistening platinum hair, he was stunning. In a rare act of grudging capitulation, only to make me happy, he’d allowed me to buy the outfit, and I’d chosen well.
His extraordinary appearance combined with the romantic atmosphere—twinkling lights and mariachi music wafting on the gentle evening breeze—brought a swell to my chest, not to mention my cock. I, like the admiring passersby, couldn’t take my eyes from him. My Carlos, an elegant, dark panther prowling the San Antonio night scene.
The last time I’d been to the riverwalk had been with Jorge. Remembering that had been the night Carlos returned to my life, the date that marked this anniversary, the thought sparked an inward grin. Maybe Jesse was right. Maybe it was silly to celebrate the occasion. I didn’t care. I was happy.
The waiter seated us near the river’s edge, and Carlos eased into his chair, carefully placing a Walmart sack he’d been carrying on the table. He stared dreamily into the reflection of hundreds of lights dancing off the gently moving water.
I stared at Carlos.
Sensing he was being watched, he raised his gaze to me. He should have been used to my admiring him, but he blushed anyway. “You’re making me self-conscious. You know I don’t like dressing up.”
My fingers toyed along the thin line of grout between the tabletop tiles. “I’m sorry. You look very good, chico.
He tugged at the cuff of the shirt. “All dolled up, I feel so—”
“It pleases me.” The sincerity, the pleasure in my voice surprised me. “You’re so beautiful. My heart is happy tonight, bebé.”
Apparently it touched him. A tender smile filled his eyes, and he rested his elbows on the table, propping his chin on clasped hands. “You look pretty fucking good yourself, Candy.”
“You draw so much attention wherever you go.” He glanced around the busy sidewalk, the restaurant’s multicolored lights sparkling in his dark eyes. Returning his focus to me, he said, “That makes me proud.”
“If anybody’s looking, it’s at you, mi amor.”
“Sure. Whatever.” He blushed again.
Leaning forward, I murmured, “Can you not see how beautiful you are?” Every detail of his face, his body, which
I’d memorized since I’d first seen him, sent wonderful palpitations to my heart and warmth to my groin. “All day, every day, all I can see, whether you’re with me or not, is your face in my mind. And then all I can think of is touching you, making love to you. Me vuelves loco. You make me crazy.”
The smoldering brown gaze pierced me, roamed every inch of my face. “How crazy?”
Burning up under the intensity of his stare, I pulled back in the chair. “Crazy enough to think about forgetting dinner and… well…. There’s all the time in the world.”
Excitement flashed in his eyes, and he picked up the sack. “I have something for you.” He slid his hand into the bag and pulled out a CD. Holding it to his lips for a moment, he handed it to me, and the happiness in his face, so simple and boyish, melted my heart.
La Paloma. He’d bought a new La Paloma CD. Love swept through me, bringing tears to my eyes.
“Bebé.” My fingers lovingly brushed over the case. “Thank you, mi querido. After my baby-ass tantrum, breaking the other one, I don’t deserve this.”
Tucking his chin, he winked over the rims of his glasses. “No, you don’t.” He paused as the waitress placed menus in our hands.
The very pretty girl, her hands clasped behind her back, rested a genial—though somewhat coy—smile on Carlos and asked what we wanted to drink. I told her two Coronas. Nodding and throwing another bold, appreciative glance at my lover, the young lady thanked us and sauntered away.
Carlos hadn’t seemed to notice the flirty employee. He picked up the conversation where he’d left off. “Like I said, you don’t deserve a new CD. But you’re the only man who’s ever played music for me when he fucked me.”
I laughed hard. “Ah, chico, I think you’re trying to be romantic. But you make me sound very pathetic.” Funny thing, though. Carlos, in sharp contrast to his streetwise persona, was the most romantic man I’d ever known. His drawings, his poetic talk, just his pure sensuality.
Everything about him painted a picture of beauty, idyllic eroticism.
Fire blazed behind his wide eyes, and he lurched to touch my hand. “No. No. I… I love that you play your…song for me.”
“Thank you, then, bebé, for La Paloma.” I laid the CD on the table. “I can play it every night for you now,” I playfully threatened.
His tongue swiped, languorous, seductive, across his bottom lip. “And that means you have to fuck me every night.”
The little tease. The silky touch of his finger sent pleasure coursing through my veins like a powerful opiate.
“You think you can stand being fucked every night, chico?”
A brow shot up. “I’d give it my best shot.”
The cute waitress returned to place our beers on the table and take our orders. At the sight of Carlos’s hand on mine, the sex in both our eyes, she cooled considerably as she listened to our selections. When she headed back to the interior of the restaurant, I sucked in a deep breath and pulled the jeweler’s box from my pocket.
“I have something for you, chico.” Reaching across the table, I handed the box to him. How clumsy I felt. Romance ruled my heart but never showed itself very well in my actions. I felt I was too old-world for a contemporary man such as Carlos. Just as his fingers touched the lid to open it, I blurted, “You’ll probably laugh, Carlos. It’s… it’s…. You might think it’s silly.”
Upon opening the box, his hand shot to his chest, and he swallowed hard. “Candy….”
“It is silly, isn’t it?”
“Oh, no, no.” His mouth gaped open, and he brushed a hand through his hair. Shaking his head slowly, he whispered, “It’s… it’s… a dove. It’s the most—”
“Listen, you don’t have to—”
Carlos bounded from his chair and cornered the table so fast I didn’t have time to react. With his arms wrapped around my neck, he pulled me close, and I breathed in his spicy, earthy scent.
“You like it, then?” I wanted to cry, I was so happy that he was pleased.
Pulling back, his arms still circling my neck, he sighed. “I’ve never seen anything so beautiful in my life, Candy.”
His voice, so low, caressing, whispered close to my ear, “I love you so fucking much, Candelario Gonzalez. I love youso goddamn much.”
The sidewalk was crowded with customers, and they surely gawked at us, but I didn’t care. Love for Carlos gushed from my heart, and all I wanted to do, needed to do, was hold him, touch his lips. Although the thoughts that swirled in my soul were passionate and lyrical, the words that spilled from my mouth were idiotic. “So I don’t need to take it back? Well, it was custom made, and—”
“I love it, cariño.” Oblivious to curious gazes, he pressed his lips, which tasted of salty tears, to mine. “I love it so much.” He straightened and leaned back against the table.
“Then you’ll wear it for me tonight?” I rested my hand on his waist.
“I’ll wear it for you tonight.” Hunger darkened his eyes, softened his voice. “Let’s eat fast, then, so we can—”
“No?” He cocked his head to the side.
“Nah. I reserved a room at Mansion Del Rio.”
Excitement sparked in his eyes. “Ah.”
My sexual juices were stirring, my cock swelling, at the vision of making love to Carlos high above the river with the nightlife pulsing below us. “Would you like that?”
Squinting, he eyed me. “Can I order a banana split from room service in the middle of the night?”
How could he turn even the word banana split into an aphrodisiac? Dios, how my dick ached.
“You can order anything you want in the middle of the night.”
“Can I order you to fuck me in the middle of the night?”
“You can.” Resisting the urge to pull him onto my lap, I growled, “But by the middle of the night, mi amor, you may be begging me to stop fucking you.”
For a moment our gazes locked, and we said nothing, fucking each other with our gazes. As though coming out of a trance, he lowered to his haunches, resting his hand on the table to steady himself. “Put it in now.”
“Put… what… in now?” My mind lagged behind his, still writhing with him on an imaginary bed.
“The earring.” He reached to remove a silver stud from his earlobe. “I want you to put it on me.” Laying the discarded earring on the table, he snorted. “Sort of like getting engaged.”
“Getting engaged, eh?” I pulled the diamond dove out of the box, removed the back from the post, and bent to insert the earring. Each time I touched Carlos was like the first time, and the light stubble on his cheek, his smooth skin against my fingers, sent shivers through me. “You realize, bebé, in my old-fashioned world, that means I own you.”
As I put the earring on his lobe, he nuzzled into my hand and purred, “You already own me, Más Chingon.” His hand covered mine.
“Good.” I helped him to stand and scoured the restaurant patio. “Where the hell is our food? I’m ready to go.”
Carlos returned to his seat, and I stared, mesmerized, as the new diamond in his ear sparkled in the festive lights.
Cognizant of my gaze, he touched the glittering dove and caressed it. He mouthed the words thank you.
I took a tortilla chip from the basket and broke off a piece, putting it in my mouth. There seemed to be nothing to say, no need. All I wanted to do was stare at him, drink in his beauty. I just smiled and murmured, “Te amo, mi amor.”
Before I could say another word, my cell vibrated on my belt. I checked the caller ID. Jesse. I opened it and answered, “Qué?”
Jesse immediately blurted, “Before I tell you, you need to know that I didn’t go looking for this. It’s just a coincidence.”
Those words told me the call had something to do with Carlos, and my heart pumped hard, causing my throat to constrict. In a rusty voice, I asked, “What is it, Jesse?”
“Elias Rojas came by La Banda last night, and—”
“This is about Elias Rojas? You’re calling me about—”
“Shh!” Jesse hissed. “Don’t say his name where Carlos can hear you!”
“I thought for a minute you were going to bring up…well, you know… the subject you obsess over.”
Jesse advanced, cautious. “Jefe, it is about Carlos.
“I don’t get it.” Whatever it was, I didn’t want to get it.
“Rojas is looking for you. He insists you meet with him.”
I brushed my fingers through my hair. “You’re losing me, mi amigo. What does he have to do with—”
“He says, Candelario, that he has some information about your pretty amor Carlos that you will find very interesting.”
Closing my eyes tight, I tried to focus. “Jesse. Wait a minute.” I scrubbed my forehead hard. “What the fuck would he be talking about…. What would he….” The words jumbled in my head, and I tried to discuss this without Carlos hearing. “Why would he be discussing… this person?”
“It seems, Jefe, that Rojas knows… this person… your Carlos.”
Sweat broke out on my forehead. I swallowed hard and steeled my nerves, knowing Rojas might only want to tell me something I already knew—Carlos’s drug arrest, maybe.
“Tell him to fuck off.”
“No, really, Jesse. Tell him to fuck off. I’m not interested in his petty gossip. The fucking little snitch.”
Fingering the saltshaker, I added, “He probably found out about… well….” I stopped in case Carlos heard me. “And he thinks I don’t already know.”
“It isn’t about Carlos’s drug arrest, Candy.”
My pulse raced again. “Then—”
“Candy, he says he knows who your… boyfriend is.”