The limo dropped off Emma and her parents at the front of the hotel. “I’ll take care of checking you in later, and don’t even think about paying anything. It’s just a formality we need to go through. You guys are Gloria’s guests this week.” She winked at her mom. Jimmy and Mori followed her into the lobby to see masses of people lined up at the front desk. Some of them were walking with their luggage, others were just plain looking confused. It was loud, and made Emma feel uneasy.
“Emma, is it usually like this?” Mori had never seen such a chaotic mess.
“Follow me to the elevators, and I’ll take you to your room to get freshened up. When I find out what’s going on, I’ll let you know.” She took them to the 21st floor, and showed them the beautiful suite she had ready for them. “My home is just above yours.” She beamed with pride as she gave them the tour. “And I’ve saved the best for last.” She flamboyantly opened the French doors that led to their terrraza overlooking the sea. Sit down and relax. What would you like to drink? I’ve stocked the bar for you, and this one time in your lives, I will be the bartender.”
“Emma, we’re so proud of you. You’re just so good to us, and so keen on making people feel good.”
She put her arms around her dad and kissed his cheek. “You two mean everything to me, Daddy. Now, what would you like to drink?”
Mori was worried about the scene they’d walked into down below. “I can do that, Emma. Why don’t you go where you’re needed? I think somethin’ is terribly wrong down there.”
“You’re right, but I want to do this first. Then I’ll leave you guys to enjoy your cocktails and the nice evening breeze out here. If you want to order something to eat, here’s the number, but I caution you to order light.” She patted her tummy, “Remember that Gloria is taking us to a late dinner. I’ll come get you so we can meet her in the lobby at nine o’clock. Oh, Mom. I almost forgot.” She pulled the little package out of her purse and handed it to Mori. “Just a little welcome gift to mark your first trip to México.”
Mori opened it and showed Jimmy. “Oh, Honey. Thanks, this is so sweet.” She opened the top and took a sniff of the pure vanilla. “Jimmy, get over her an’ smell this, wow.”
Emma mixed her mom a drink, and then pulled a chilly Pacifico out of the ice bucket for her dad. “Here you are, enjoy yourselves for a couple hours, love you!” She dodged out of the room, and ran to the elevators, frantically calling Gloria to find out where she was. “Ok, I’ll be there in two minutes, you should have called me to come back sooner. I can’t imagine what could have happened to cause the ruckus I saw in the lobby.” The elevator opened, and instead of going down to her office, she pushed the up button that took her to Gloria’s private home.
Gloria was already opening the door to let her in. “Let’s go into the kitchen, I’ve opened a bottle of that great chardonnay.”
Emma didn’t say a word, but followed her, and taking a seat at the bar, she let Gloria pour the wine into the heavily cut stemware from Germany. “Hmm, you know? I could serve a cheap wine in one of these fine works of art, and mark my word, it would taste expensive.” She studied the wine bottle for a moment, “But, this is the real deal, isn’t it? I was lucky to find it, but we need to order some more cases. Will you put that on your list, Emma?”
“Sure. Gloria. I don’t know what happened, but I did walk through the lobby. Whatever it is, the two of us can take care of it. We’ve made a great team for a year now, and you’ve conquered upsets for years by yourself. When you’re ready, tell me. And after you finish, we’ll figure out our execution to make it all better.”
There was silence from Gloria, and her eyes were wet. She put her hand on Emma’s shoulder and dug her fingers into her skin. “I love you not only as my assistant, but also like a daughter. I used to be empty in that area before you came here. Thank you for being with me now. I’m going to tell you everything, but some of it has to remain between us and the comandante. This is the way he wants it, so we mustn’t do anything to make his job harder than it already is.”
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