“Who’s there?” Brother David said. “Ah, it appears to be El Señor Salvador Tenorio. Are you playing explorer or spy today?” he said. The girl in the earrings peeked from the top of the landing. Sal got his first clear view of her face. Her brown skin glowed, smooth and beautiful. Her brows, raised in surprise, framed coal black eyes. He noticed she no longer wore the colorful shawl.
“¿Qué pasó? What’s going on here?” Sal said. He looked for an explanation, shocked to see Brother David and this lovely chica alone, together.
“I’ll ask the questions,” Brother David said. “Who guards the wagon while you chase young women?” He turned his gaze back to the chica at the top of the stairs. “Don’t worry, I know this fellow, you’re safe.” He spoke to her as if he knew her well.
Suspicious, but not knowing what went on between them, Sal acted the part of the Brother’s obedient helper. “I only came to tell you Blas feels ill. I’m looking for water,” Sal said. Why did memories of Brother Santana race through his head? Dark corners, secret meetings, his heart raced.
“¿Cierto, truly? You searched for water all the way across the plaza?” Brother David said. “What a loyal friend you are, Salvador. Why don’t you come here and make yourself useful to me?” Brother David led the pretty native chica toward the dark corner room away from the stairs. He looked nervous and called back to Sal, “K-keep your mouth shut. Guard the door. Understand?”
Sal sat on a rickety bench just inside the doorway. Stacks of dusty books were piled high on the floor. Could it be a school? There were no windows for light; shelves of papers cluttered the walls. As his eyes adjusted to the darkness, he strained to see what Brother David did with the chica in the corner of this stuffy little room. Sal could see the girl’s profile; her head bent low, she seemed to fumble with something, a sash, at her waist. He could see Brother David stood close enough to grab the loose end of her sash as she untied the binding. Sal’s heart pounded.
“What are you doing to her?” Sal said. Just another rotten Brother, he suspected David all along. “You are a fraud. You are not a holy man.” He had the proof.
“Cálmate, calm down Sal, no harm will come to her,” Brother David said. He seemed amazingly secure for a man caught in such a sin. The girl clutched her arms over her chest. She held on to something. Sal leaped from the bench. He could help her escape like he helped Blas get away from Brother Santana years ago. He reached out to push Brother David away from her but she pressed herself toward the Brother as if she wanted his protection.
“Allow me to introduce La Señorita Xichete, a true princess, the last of her tribe,” Brother David said. He turned the girl toward Sal. Closer now, Sal saw a woman, not a girl. The most beautiful woman he ever saw. Brother David spoke in the same low voice he used for saying mass.
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