The man motioned toward the end of the bar with his glass of sangria. With a quick nod, Alejandro pulled me down toward a dark-haired woman.
“Theresa,” he said, kissing her on each cheek.
“Alejandro,” she exclaimed, returning the embrace. “I didn’t expect you so soon!”
I stared at the woman. She wasn’t what I’d expected. She had dark eyes and a round, friendly face, and she seemed at least ten years older than Alejandro. She smiled as she turned to me. “And this must be your wife.” A big smile lit up her face. “Your Lena?”
My lips parted. His Lena?
“Sí.” Alejandro put his arm around me. “My Lena.”
“I’m so happy to meet you at last!” she said with clear delight. “I told him he had to bring you here. Wait until you hear him play!”
“Play?” I echoed, looking at him.
He blushed. I swear he did. “Yes. I play a little guitar sometimes. No one cares I’m a duke here. They only care how well I play the guitar....”
“Are you that good?”
“Let him show you.” Theresa gave me a wink. “Drink orders always go up thirty percent when you sing, Alejandro.” She turned to me with a smile. “Go grab a table, if you can find one.... And what will you have?”
“Bourbon,” he said. “Rocks.”
She chuckled. “Light?”
“Isn’t it mostly juice with a bit of red wine?”
She gave a hearty guffaw and glanced at Alejandro affectionately. “Innocent little thing, isn’t she?”
“Very,” he said quietly.
She sighed, looking back at me, she suggested, “I’ll make you a tinto de verano. Dash of wine, sugar and a little lime with sparkling water. Trust me. It won’t go to your head.”
She was right. The delicious concoction was a mixture of tart and sweet and bubbles, with lemon and limes floating beside the ice. I had one glass, then another, then a third, then looked down at my empty plate and realized I’d ordered and eaten a whole plate of dinner without paying the slightest attention.
“What time is it?” My head was swimming. I put my hands to my temples. “She said this drink wouldn’t go to my head,” I said accusingly.
Alejandro gave a low laugh. “It wouldn’t, but you had four of them.”
“Four?” I looked with amazement at my empty glass. “They just taste so light. The most delicious wine cooler ever invented.”
“You should stop.”
I looked at him brazenly. “You should tell me who you really are.”
Time suddenly stood still.
“Don’t you know?” he said hoarsely. “Haven’t you guessed?”
“Don’t tell me you’re already having your first fight.” Theresa was holding out a guitar. “Fix it, pequeño. Play.”
“Sí!” the people around us clamored, pounding on their tables. “Play!”
Alejandro shook his head. “We’re leaving.”
But I didn’t want to leave. I wanted to see what everyone else apparently already knew. The other side of my husband. The one he’d never let me see. “Will you play?” I whispered. “For me?”
He whirled to look at me. Then he gave a slow nod. “For you, mi amor.” He slowly took the guitar in his hand, and there was a burst of cheers and applause. “This is just for you.”
Walking across the crowded tavern, past all the tables to the tiny stage, Alejandro sat on a stool. With his guitar in his lap, he said simply into the microphone, “This is for my bride. The mother of my child.” He looked at me. “The woman I love.”
My lips parted in a silent gasp.
Could he have said...
Surely he couldn’t have said...
How strong were those tinto de verano drinks anyway?
Exhaling, Alejandro strummed his guitar, and in a low, husky voice began to sing. It sounded very old, and Spanish. He was a good musician, I thought in amazement, really good, far better than any tycoon-slash-duke had a right to be. The music was so heartbreaking and pure that at first, I didn’t bother to listen to the words.