Character(s): Dr. Helm, Montoya, Grisham, Tessa, Marta, OFC
Summary: Dr. Helm and Tessa find someone quite unexpected on his doorstep, and Colonel Montoya plots to use her to his advantage.
Santa Elena Welcomes You
"You look damned happy," Captain Grisham observed as Colonel Montoya poured a measure of brandy into a snifter.
He didn't immediately reply, taking a seat on the small olive green upholstered divan in his office, contemplating the amber liquid in his glass. A sip first, followed by a self-satisfied smile, before finally agreeing with the other man's assessment. "Oh, I am, Grisham; quite happy indeed!"
"Okay then." He waited impatiently for an explanation of just why the military governor of Santa Elena was in such a good mood. When none appeared forthcoming, he drawled, "And.…?"
"Ah-ha! You met her then?"
"Dr. Helm was escorting her to dinner at the hotel, so I took the opportunity to become acquainted with the young lady." Another swallow of brandy, then he added, "Her Spanish is excellent, Capitán, perhaps she could tutor you."
Grisham narrowed his eyes in irritation. "Funny."
Montoya didn't reply, just smiled like a cat on the hunt.
"So besides her Spanish, what was she like? Mousy little thing, I bet."
"Quite the contrary; the Doctor's sister is in fact quite lovely."
"Now we're getting somewhere! I can turn on the charm, a little wine, a few flowers..." Grisham drifted into silence, obviously deep into mentally planning his conquest.
Montoya's sharp bark of laughter quickly brought him back to the here and now. "Ah yes, Grisham, you do inhabit your own special fantasy world, do you not?"
The captain looked offended. "Hey, the ladies like me! Why should Helm's sister be any different? And isn't that the plan? Get our hooks into the girl so her brother behaves?"
"Yes, the ladies of the pueblo do seem to readily succumb to your rather dubious charms... especially the married ones. However, Isabelle Helm, in addition to possessing a pleasing countenance, has a sharp wit and a keen mind. You, my dear Capitán, would have no hope of attracting the senorita's attention.
"But you would?" He seemed doubtful.
Finishing his brandy, Montoya placed the snifter on the end table. "Who else can offer her the trappings of civilization that she left behind in England?" He waved a hand at the room, with its extensive library, fine furnishings, and small, but tasteful collection of art. "And I admit that I will not find it an onerous undertaking in the least."
"I bet you wouldn't," Grisham muttered. "So, some music and poetry with the sister while setting up the brother to be stabbed in the back?"
The predatory smile was back. "Crudely put, Grisham, and yet... quite apt."
"For you, Senorita Helm."
Isabelle accepted the pink rose with a smile. "Why thank you, Senor Ramirez! It's lovely."
"I would like to welcome you to Santa Elena, and hope you will be very happy here." He bowed then nodded to her brother. "My Maria will be out with your coffee shortly."
"How very kind," Isabelle said as the owner of the hotel walked away. "Such a lovely scent."
"Oh, yes, very kind is Senor Ramirez," Robert replied with a smirk. "His wife died two years ago, and he has three children under the age of twelve." He paused, considering. "Though he is a very successful businessman. I suppose it wouldn't be half bad having a man like him in the family. I'd never have to worry about getting a meal again!"
"Robbie!" She rapped his knuckles with her fan. "Behave!" she ordered as Senor Ramirez's eldest child brought their after-dinner coffee. He was totally undeterred by her scolding and made an unsuccessful grab for her fan.
"Gracias, Maria," she said kindly as the girl set their coffee down. After she'd left, Isabelle tapped the end of her fan against the table. "Really, Robert, sometimes you act as if you're still twelve!" She sounded stern, but her lips twitched with suppressed laughter. She sipped her coffee, then asked, "His wife died?"
More serious now, he replied, "There was an epidemic, and there was no doctor then."
"How very sad." Death from infectious disease was a fact of life, but it didn’t make the losses any easier to bear.
“It was the impetus for Colonel Montoya to attempt to procure a doctor for the pueblo.”
“And he got you.” She looked at her brother curiously. Robert the doctor was something she was just beginning to adjust to. “What made you decide to accept the offer here and leave Texas?”
“New horizons.” He shrugged. “The idea of traversing the continent, the New World, was a challenge, I suppose.”
Isabelle just nodded. Privately, she thought Robert was still running from his demons. He didn’t think she understood what had driven him to forsake his life in England. But she understood more than he would ever know. Isabelle had her own demons, after all.
Senor Ramirez interrupted anything she might have said in response with yet another appearance. “I thought you might enjoy an after dinner sweet, Senorita,” he told her, placing a small plate in front of her. “My mother’s specialty, flan. I think you will enjoy it.” Before she could respond, he was gone.
“Don’t you dare!” she warned her brother, waving her fan menacingly.
He just looked at her with an almost pained expression before practically collapsing with laughter. “And now he’s trying to fatten you up!” he gasped.
Sighing in exasperation, she said, “I had forgotten what a dreadful tease you could be.”
“I have no idea how you could forget such a thing, dear sister!”
She resisted the urge to stick her tongue out at him. Instead, she pushed her plate towards him. “Have some flan.”
Part One ][ Part Two ][ Part Three ][ Part Four ][ Part Five ][ Part Six ][ Part Seven ][ Part Eight