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Ricky held the door open for Marta and entered the bar after her. There wasn't only a lone female patron in the bar and the bartender Miguel. Since he took Marta in, Ricky spent less time behind the bar and handled more of the business end of things. Ricky smiled at him and led Marta to the bar.

"Miguel, could you get this little girl a cola."

Miguel smiled andcomplied. Marta took the offered glass and took a sip. "Can I sit over there"

Ricky nodded, and Marta headed over to.the table. Enirique frowned. He had hoped that today would change things a bit, but he had to keep working on building her trust. Regardless, something had happened today. He had taken her to a zoo and despite not smiling, he had seen her eyes light up at seeing the animals. She even had a slight smile when they saw the baby pandas. It was slow going, but today gave him the encoiragemt he needed.

"How's that going?" Miquel said.

"Rough, but I think I'm making progress."
he looked over at Marta. She was sitting at a table by herself dirnking her coca cola. "Did you get it."

Miguel smiled and pulled out a small stuffed panda. Seeing the smile gave him an idea. Ricky paid the man back and headed over to the table. "Marta, I have a gift you.

She looked up and Ricky handed her the toy. The brief smile didn't retuen, but her eyes lit up momentarily. It was only a moment. Marta took the bear and put it on the table and turned back to her coke.

Ricky headed back to the bar. "It will happen man. If anyone can help her, you can."

Ricky smiled and then turned to face the female patron. "Can I help you with anything."
He kept his eye on Marta , however. Despite the struggles he was dealing with, the little girl had changed him for the better. He knew that deep don she was sweet and couldn't wait to see it.
It was early for her to be at bar, but she wanted a drink and a place to think. Unfortunately, there were few places that weren’t in the grasp of one or the other of the cartels. It was her first time at her current location and thus far, Camila had appreciated the solitude. It didn’t take long, however, for the doors to open and a man and child to walk in.

She watched them for a moment, unsure as to how to take the little girl’s demeanor. There wasn’t much of a resemblance that she could tell, but who knew, perhaps the kid took after her mother. Taking a sip from her bottle, Camila turned her thoughts to other matters. Part of her felt idle. Time had slipped between her fingers and nothing had really changed from when she first started getting at the cartels; at least not in any manner that would satiate her impatience. Damien had his plans, and for the mean time, she had her instructions.

Setting her cerveza down on the table Camila found her attention to the newcomer. From what she had seen, he seemed to have a close relationship with the bar tender. If he offered to help her, as he had, perhaps he was a little more than a mere patron to the place. “No, thanks. I’m fine with this. Your daughter?”

She glanced over at the little girl. Something about the child didn’t sit well with her, and Camila returned her gaze back to the man. “Not very fond of pandas?”

The woman was content with her drink. Before Marta, he would have flirted with her a bit, but now it just didn't seem right - especially considering Marta's past. She asked about Marta. His daughter? Hearing the word was good for him. Inside it made him smile, but her questioning partially worried him. What exactly could he say to her? What if she was a cartel informant? There were so many possibilities.

"Yes. She's my daughter. Adopted."
The woman had not seen her face light up at the zoo, so Marta's demeanor might be strange. He had to protect her though and being vague would help. "She has been going through a rough time, and wants some space."

Ricky looked at Marta again. She had started looking at the toy panda and picked it up. Every small step made him smile. He knew Marta had a long way to go though. He kept praying and lighting a candle for her everyday. He thought a phone call to his mother would be good too.

He turned back to face the woman. Marta seemed to be cheering up a bit. At least for now and he wondered what she was thinking. So far she had always been well behaved, but the distance bothered her. He wondered if counseling would help or if she would find it a betrayal on his part. He wish he knew what to do for certain.

"I hope you are enjoying your cerveza. Enrique Salguero. This is my establishment. If you need anything, don't hesitate to ask."
he offered his hand for shaking, but was distracted by Marta's approach. Marta hugged the soft bear.

"Could I have some water please?"
Ricky have her a smile and got her a glass.

"Of course honey"
Ricky said and handed her the glass.

Marta turned to look at the woman and sat down next to her. Marta always seemed more comfortable around women and the woman's presence had probably given her the courage to come over. "You're really pretty."
she said and Ricky smiled. It was nice to see her interact with someone.
Edited by Enrique, Jan 3 2015, 01:20 AM.
The concern she saw on the man’s face as he spoke of the girl eased some of the unease she felt concerning the child. The two of them looked on at the girl as the child appeared to finally take interest in the gift. For her part, Camila smiled. “I hope things get better for you both. It’s not easy to see a love one go through hard times. Specially one so young.”

She nodded his head in acknowledgement after he introduced himself. He wasn’t a bad looking man, and thus far he at least appeared to have some amount of kindness, at least where the child was concerned, but she didn’t trust any man enough to show more than cool acceptance. If the lot of them had to exist, then so be it. “Thank you, Señor Salguero. I’ll be sure to remember that.”

When the little girl made her way to them, Camila once again studied the way the two of them interacted. The observation was instinctive, and though she could sense that whatever troubled the kid had a big impact, the child was at least safe. The small compliment made the woman smile. “Thank you. So are you. That’s a nice bear you have there, looks just like the Pandas at the zoo.”

Marta smiled at the woman when she said she was pretty too. The gesture felt so weird. She didn't remember the last time she had really smiled. Vague memories of her brother Rafael came to her mind, but she couldn't really place them. She remembered he was kind though and always smiled and his eyes were really bright - kind of like Ricky's.

Rafael was gone though and so was mommy, and the friendliness from Ricky - well it was fake. She knew it. He would hurt her and then she'd get the pain in her heart and stomach too. Men just weren't nice anymore.

Marta wondered why Ricky had taken her to the zoo. Seeing the animals had been really fun. She remembered the pandas the most - especially the baby ones. She had actually been surprised when Ricky had given her a stuffed one. Inside she had smiled, but part of her was unsure. Ricky was hard to figure out.

Marta also hadn't known what had brought her to the woman. It was like some force just told her that this woman was okay. When Marta approached, she didn't know what to think, just that this woman would be nice - maybe even understand what Marta didn't understand herself.

Marta held up the bear and her smile widened. "We went to the zoo today and saw baby pandas."

Her tummy growled, and she looked up at Ricky who gave her a smile. What was he planning? He turned and came back with a couple pieces of chicken. "Which one do you want?"
He asked her, and she wondered why.

Marta pointed at the smaller one and Ricky began dicing it up. She was hungry and Ricky always made sure she was fed. The doctor had even said she was gaining weight.

[Image: Marta_zps1a4758b6.jpg]

Ricky started making dinner for Marta. She had gained quite the appetite recently. The doctor told him that she had been malnourished. Marta had put on some weight in the time she had been with Ricky and looked significantly healthier than she had when he brought her in.

Right now, Marta seemed happy, and it was a relief. Ricky took the two pieces of chicken and turned to his prep area to begin dicing the breasts. His mind was on Marta though. Seeing her smile like that really brought him joy.

Ricky said, censoring himself at the last minute as pain went through his hand.

During his daydream, his knife had slipped and he had a gash above his thumb. Inside, he cursed himself for his stupidity. Miguel said something about getting a bandage and headed off. Ricky turned his head to the woman at the bar. He had noticed she had not introduced herself or shaken the hand he had offered, but had shrugged it off. Some people were more guarded than others, but hopefully she could at least help him out.

"Excuse me, Señorita. There are some towels in the cabinet right inside the door of the bar. Could you get me one please?"
He hoped she would help - he didn't want to get blood all over his bar.
The man had merely sliced his thumb, and the likelihood of her getting anywhere near it was slim, but she didn’t like to let anything to chance if she could help it. Like many other cuts of its kind, the thumb looked to be bleeding more than was necessary; or at least that was her impression of it. Truth was, it was a minor and easily dealt with injury, but her gaze remained glued to the steady red trickle that slid along his skin.

The kid’s face lit up as she answered Camila’s question. The way her expression opened up almost turned the little girl into a different child altogether. Whatever tragedy had struck the little girl appeared to drain a lot out of her. “Baby pandas? I bet they were adorable.”

It was easy to smile to the child, but there was something lurking in the back of the little girl’s eyes that Camila felt familiar. “What’s your name?”
She asked while turning a little in her seat to better face the child, but the first thing she got in response was the sound of an apparently hungry stomach. “Oh oh… are you a bear? I think I just heard you growl.”

Movement from the corner of her eye forced her to look away from the girl and towards her father. She watched Salguero for a moment as he readied a meal for the girl and was returning her attention to their small companion when he spoke up once again. The failed attempt at censorship nearly produced a chuckle from her, but then she saw what had happened. Any merriment died in her throat the moment Camila spotted the blood.

Camila stared at him for a moment, nearly frozen in her seat before finally nodding and walking around the bar as he had directed. After grabbing a towel from the cabinet, she returned and handed him the towel, trying her best to act as normal as possible. “Not very handy with a kn—“

The whirlwind of images struck without warning. A snake slithered across the ground, making its way into the shadows, only to stop at Enrique’s feet and coil upon itself. It twisted and writhed furiously as it began to eat its own tail.

A blue gem, dangling from a chain.

Enrique holding a trembling Marta in his arms.

Blood dripping from the man’s hands. Limp bodies scattered at his feet.

Candles… so many candles… a sea of flames flickering against a dark abyss.

She was brought back to the bar with a sharp intake of breath. Blinking, Camila tried to regain her bearings. One hand rested on the counter for support, the other still held the towel out to the man. It appeared a drop of blood had splattered on her hand.

The things she’d seen couldn’t have taken more than a few seconds, but even that would have been enough to make people talk of her strange behavior. At least, as visions went, it had been relatively light. At least, at the end of it, she was still standing.

“I’m sorry, just got a bit of a dizzy spell.”
Letting go of the towel once the man had a grip on it, Camila hurriedly wiped her hand on her pants and took a step back. “I should go.”


She answered the woman quietly. Marta didn't know the woman's name, but she didn't ask. Instead she giggled when the woman asked if she was a bear. Marta found herself always looking at the woman's eyes. There was something there that Marta connected with. She didn't understand it, but it was there.

When Ricky cut himself, part of Marta was glad. Maybe now he'd get mad and send her away, but he didn't. Instead he asked the woman to help. The woman grabbed a towel and handed it to Ricky and for a moment, she seemed to drift away. Then she was back - and...wanted to leave!

Marta didn't want that. She wanted the woman to stay. Marta stood and as the woman took a step back, Marta grabbed her hand. "Please don't go."

[Image: Marta_zps1a4758b6.jpg]

Ricky took the offered towel and stemmed the bleeding. The woman now seemed faint and quickly decided she wanted to leave. It seemed really odd, but before he new it, Marta had taken the woman's hand and asked her to stay.

Confusion marred Ricky's features as Miguel arrived and bandaged his hand. Marta's tone had been different from when Jacinda had been there. When Jacinda had left at the brothel, there had been panic there. This time - it was just - different. This woman was different. Why had Marta connected with her so fast? Whatever it was - he was now seeing what Marta would be like when she healed - a wonderful, fun loving, social girl who could smile and laugh. That giggle had stirred something in Ricky - whatever reservations he had before about his decision had disappeared with that.

As Miguel left Ricky, he bent down a bit to look Marta in the eye and smiled. She was eleven, but seemed so much younger - likely from her past. She turned toward him as Eduardo's blue pendant slipped out from under his shirt. "Should we invite her for dinner?"
Marta nodded and Ricky stood up.

He faced the woman and scratched his neck with his left hand, revealing the ouroboros tattoo on his forearm. He had never asked a woman to dinner like this before. "I've never seen her like this before."
He looked from the woman to Marta and back again. "Will you stay? Please."
Ricky wasn't the type to beg, but anything for his little girl.

Edited by Enrique, Jan 6 2015, 02:48 PM.
Marta asked her to stay and Camila found herself unable to move. She was torn between running the hell away and the child’s captivating gaze. “I…”
Whatever she meant to say was not able to be finished. Instead, the kid’s stepfather spoke.

She watched from girl to man and felt cornered. The kid’s eyes pulled her in and the hopeful look in both father and child seemed to anchor her in place. The feeling was much to strange and though she felt like telling them no, her mouth said differently. “Alright”

Giving Marta’s hand a little squeeze, Camila smiled down at her. “I think I can stay a little longer.”

It was impossible not to notice the pendant the man wore once it was exposed, or the tattoo for that matter. She’d seen them in her visions. The fact that they were later exposed to her made her skin crawl. Her eyes went from the pendant to the tattoo then to the man’s eyes. There was something about the tattoo that worried her. She needed to stay as far away from it as possible. He would kill. He would kill as many as it took to achieve his goal… whatever it was. The only thing that allowed her to breathe was the girl. Whatever the man was capable of, the girl kept him grounded.

“I’m sorry, I just felt a little dizzy, that’s all. I’m Camila. Camila Muñoz.”

Edited by Camila, Jan 9 2015, 01:35 PM.
Ricky smiled when she accepted the offer and Marta gave her a hug. He was glad she was staying. She had had some sort of dizzy spell, but seemed to be okay now. Ricky handed her a glass of water. "A pleasure Señorita Muñoz. You have nothing to apologize for. If you need Tylenol or anything, just let me know."

He smiled and washed his hands before getting back to work on dinner. Arroz con pollo sounded good and he went to work preparing it, allowing Marta some time with Camila. He took a look and Marta was having the panda "attack" Camila. Marta was smiling and giggling. It was strange that Marta had 180'd like that, but he was glad to see his little girl without her armor on. His little girl - it was something that came to his mind often, but always surprised him when it did.

As dinner got closer to being done, he turned. "Marta, it's time to wash up."
Marta turned to him and looked, but she set the bear down and left for the bathroom to wash her hands.

Ricky turned towards Camila. "I'm sorry if this is awkward for you, but thank you for staying. I've been taking care of her for a week and this is the first time...well...I was encouraged to hear her laugh and see her smile..."
Ricky had gone farther than he wanted to and his voice trailed off. He remained silent for a moment and then decided this woman deserved to know - and somehow he thought he could trust her now. Maybe it was Marta's quick connection to her. "You see...last were paying to rape her at a Nuevo Leon brothel. That's why she is that way. It's been a really rough week for the both of us, but slowly, she's starting to heal. It was just with you - it seemed like those scars and memories went away for awhile. I don't know why she trusts you so quickly, but for the peace of mind you've given her today. I thank you - from the bottom of my heart I thank you."

Ricky's hadn't started to cry, but he felt like he was going to. He meant every word he had said to the woman. There was sadness and anger. Sadness for Marta and the girls like her and anger for the cartels that had raped his country. Unconsiously, his hand slipped to the pendant on his neck, reminding himself to not become Eduardo. He put his hand down and began to dish out the food.
After shaking her head at his offer, Camila’s attention was once again taken up by Marta. The playful little creature with the panda was a different version of the withdrawn girl she’d observed earlier. Laughing softly, something she’d not genuinely done in a while, the woman played a long until Enrique spoke up once again.

She watched Marta go and picked up the bear. Holding it up and turning the stuffed toy this way and that, Camila smirked a little then set the thing back down. As her host began to give his apologies, the woman shifted her dark gaze towards him. It made sense that matters were tentatively awkward if he had just adopted the girl so recently. She was about to ask if there was a Mrs. Salguero as well, and how she dealing with the adjustment period when what he continued on saying killed the words before they were ever uttered.

Nuevo Leon. The hate the words unearthed tightened her jaw. Unable to look at Enrique’s eyes any longer, Camila focused on the bear Marta had left, and in that moment her heart broke. She knew then, what it had been that she’d seen in the girl’s eyes. She understood.

Oh, the evil that was the Nuevo Leon cartel had plagued her for many years. She had seen plenty of young women and girls be used and slaughtered. The fact that Marta had been a victim shouldn’t have shocked her as much; yet, after hearing the girl giggle, the idea that the child had endured as Salguero said made her stomach turn.

“How did you get her out?”
She heard the gratitude, anger, and sadness in his voice, but all the emotion had been drained from hers. Of all the things she had expected from the day, her current conversation had not been one of them. Camila had been much older when Nuevo Leon came for her, and knowing that a kid had endured as she had threatened to send her mind to dark places. Where had she left her beer? Suddenly, a drink sounded a lot better than a meal. “She’s so young. Nothing is sacred to those perros, isn’t it?”

From what she could see, the gem from her vision had some importance to the man aside from bit being a mere trinket. It likely held some sort of sentimental value, but for him to grasp at it at that particular moment made Camila wonder just what the story behind it was.

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