• rbhayek

The Secret Thieves: The Wedding

March 9th, 1985


Eduardo sat in a chair at the Laguna Beach Club. He checked his watch. It read 12:13. There were still another couple of hours until the wedding.

Eduardo was a good-looking man with short, curly black hair that tailed off the edge. His mustache was thick, and a beacon of self-confidence. He was a tall man, standing at about six-foot-three inches.

The server appeared and stood before him. He was a tall, thin, white man with eyes as blue as the God of the Sea. Those blue eyes looked down on Eduardo with curiosity, possibly at the fact that a Mexican American man was staying in this expensive hotel.

“Hello sir, what can I get for you?”

“Uh, just water is fine,” Eduardo replied, with a smile on his face.

“Oh,” the server replied, tepidly. His blue eyes looked down on Eduardo with disdain and he walked away.

He fiddled with his napkin and stared off into the distance. His eyes locked onto the ocean waves. The waves crashed onto the shore in perfect symmetry. He looked on with admiration, smiling a little.

The server returned with his water and handed it to him. Eduardo nodded his thanks and the server’s eyes darted away, and he hastened away from him. Eduardo took a straw and inserted it into his glass of water and sipped.

Later, he saw on a folding chair on the beach, dressed in his suit. He checked out the invitation and his eyes scanned it.

You Are Cordially Invited to the

the Wedding of William Webb and Veronica Vasquez

Hotel Laguna Beach Club

425 S Coast Hwy, Laguna Beach, CA 92651

Laguna Beach, CA

March 9th, 1985

4 PM

His eyes peeked up and saw people gathering on the beach. He wrinkled a little in his chair and adjusted to it as best as he could.

A white man with short sandy brown hair walked down the beach, accompanied by a beautiful woman with long black hair and a perfectly symmetrical jaw.

“Jason, can you believe I didn’t get asked to be a bridesmaid at all? The nerve of her!” the woman said to the man.

“Christina, relax,” replied the man named Jason. “You’re not great friends with Veronica, anyway.”

“But she’s marrying my twin brother! I should be standing up there with him when he gets married!”

“Let’s just take our seats and get this over with.”

Jason and Christina sat in the folder chair opposite of Eduardo, and he looked upon them with curious eyes. He turned away and then watched more people arrive.

Another couple was arriving, and possibly the only other Mexicans here other than him. One was a large built bald man with a thick mustache. His companion was a gorgeous woman with curly brown hair and a light complexion.

“I’m worried about the baby, Jose,” the woman said.

“It’s our first time away since he was born, Vanessa. He will be okay, my mother is taking care of him.”

“Your mother doesn’t even like me,” replied Vanessa.

Jose shrugged his shoulders. “We will go home after the wedding if you are more comfortable with that.”

“Fine, I guess.”

The couple took their seats. Eduardo chuckled to himself.

“People are funny, right?”

Eduardo turned to his right, and his jaw dropped. A beautiful woman with dark raven-like hair and light brown skin smiled back at him. Her blue earrings shined in the sun, and her brown eyes sparkled.

“Yeah,” he replied, mystified, as he stared at her. “Yeah, they are.”

She smiled and then extended her hand. “Marianne.”

He returned her handshake and clasped hands with her. “Eduardo.”

Her hands felt smooth. His eyes looked down at them briefly and then back at her. They shook for what seemed like an eternity and both hesitantly released. She chuckled.

“You a friend of the bride or the groom?”

He listened carefully to her words and noticed she had a slight twinge in her voice, an accent. He could not place it, but it sounded like she might be from Mexico or somewhere else south of the border.

“Bride. Veronica and I work together.”

“Oh, you work with Veronica?” She asked and then pointed to herself. “I have known her since we were kids. Both of us were raised in Garden Grove.”

“Oh, so you’re from Garden Grove?”

“Originally, I was born in Mexico, but my parents immigrated to this country when I was eight. That’s when I met Veronica and she and her parents came from Cuba.”

“I was born in Mexico, too.”

“Really? Which part?”

“Guadalajara. You?”

“Acapulco. That’s so funny. When did you move here?”

“I moved to Santa Ana with my mom when I was six. My mother has raised me since I was little.”

“What about your father? Is he in the picture?”

Eduardo said nothing and Marianne looked at him with uneasiness. Then her demeanor changed and she turned apologetic.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t know―”

“It’s okay,” he replied. “I haven’t seen my father in years.”

An awkward silence filled the air between them, and the wedding began and Eduardo and Marianne sat there in silence as Veronica Vasquez walked down the aisle.

The reception was inside the hotel banquet hall and a band played music on the stage. The party organizers decked the room out in blue and gold colors, which Eduardo found odd. He found his seat at his assigned table and then his eyes loomed as he saw the nametag next to his. It read Marianne Rosario.

“Well, what do you know?”

He turned around and there she was, smiling at him. He was not sure what to say and just stood there for a moment. She took the initiative and grabbed two chairs and sat in one, and motioned for him to sit in the other. He did as she asked.

“Look,” she began. “I’m sorry about the awkwardness of earlier.”

“No, it’s fine.”

“No, it’s not. Listen. We just met, and I am over here prying about your parents. Let’s start over.”

“What do you suggest?”

Some salsa music started and her eyes gleamed. She extended her hand.

“Dance with me.?”

He shook his head and put his hands out. “I don’t dance.”

“Come on, for me.”

She batted those beautiful brown eyes at him, and his knees trembled, and he forgave her instantly. She extended her hand, and he took it.

The music roared, and he was on the dance floor with her. He followed her lead as she placed her left hand on his left shoulder and moved her hips. She extended her hips and shook, then pulled back and spun herself around.

She moved in front of him and spun around again and his hand awkwardly graced her back, and he felt her smooth skin for a split second.

Her left hand gracefully crawled above his back and thrust her hips close to his. Then she pulled her hand onto his hips and spun them both, her eyes not leaving his the entire time. He stared at her and smiled. His confidence grew.

They pulled apart, and she shook her hips and moved her feet in motion, and he did the same as her. They both vibed and danced to the music in unison, and she put her hand in the air and he followed her lead and then grabbed her back and spun her behind him, gracefully.

Now his right hand was on his back and both were moving on the same wavelength, and now he spun her again. They separated again, and each did their own move and motion.

When the song had ended three minutes later, it ended with Eduardo holding Marianne in his arms, faces inches from each other, eyes staring right at one another. Her eyes gazed at him, and her mouth twisted into a smile. The people on the floor dispersed and Eduardo and Marianne stood there together, lost in the moment.

Eduardo separated from her and she beamed as she looked at him.

“Thanks for the dance.”

“Anytime.”

She pressed her lips together and studied him for a moment and then touched him gracefully on the right shoulder.

“I am going to get something to drink, don’t leave.”

“I’ll be here,” he replied.

He watched her walk toward the bar and his eyes never left her, as he checked out her figure as she strutted off.

He turned away and almost stumbled right into a couple. It was Jason and Christina from the wedding.

“Oh, I’m so sorry,” he said.

“No, it’s fine,” replied Jason.

“Pretty great party, eh?” Christina chimed in.

“Yeah,” Eduardo said. He extended his hand. “I’m Eduardo.”

“Jason,” the man replied, and shook his hand.

“Christina,” she added.

“Friends of the bride or groom?” asked Eduardo.

“William is my twin brother,” Christina gushed. “I am so happy to see him get married today.”

“How about you?” asked Jason.

“Uh. Veronica. I work with her and she invited me.”

“Oh, cool.”

‘Footloose’ started playing, and Christina’s jaw dropped.

“Come on babe, I love this song!”

Christina dragged Jason away toward the dance floor and left Eduardo standing there. He turned and spotted Veronica sitting with her new husband. He ambled over to talk to her.

“Hey.”

Her eyes lit up. “Hey! Thanks for coming Eddie!”

Veronica stood up clumsily, attempting to not lose sight of her large wedding dress, and clamped her arms around Eduardo, hugging him tightly. His muscles tightened as she hugged him.

“No problem,” he replied. Then he peeled her off him. His eyes gleamed as he looked at her. “You look so beautiful.”

“Thank you,” she blushed. “I’m so happy you are here.”

“Me too.”

“Find anyone in the wedding you like?”

“What?”

“I saw you talking with Marianne. She’s pretty cute.”

Eduardo’s cheeks went pink. “Yeah. She is.”

Veronica kissed Eduardo on the cheek. “Go get her.”

She walked back to her new husband, who was speaking with a man Eduardo did not recognize.

Standing next to William Webb was a short, skinny Vietnamese man. His black hair strayed above his head, curved into a weave. His brown eyes briefly turned and glanced at Eduardo. He turned back to Webb and nodded his head and Webb smiled and returned the exchange.

The Vietnamese man walked over to Eduardo and grinned.

“What are the odds of a Vietnamese man and a Mexican man sharing a conversation at a rich white man’s hotel in Laguna Beach?”

“Excuse me?” Eduardo asked, befuddled by the comment.

The man extended his hand. “Sorry, excuse my weird humor. The name is Duc.”

Eduardo stared at Duc’s hand and then extended his hand and returned the shake. “Eduardo.”

“I assume you are a friend of the bride?”

“Yes. You? Friend of the groom?”

“Yes. William and I work at the same company.”

“Oh really? Which one?”

“Ford Aerospace and Communications Corporation. It’s a great company with great benefits. What do you do for work?”

“Orange County’s Credit Union in Santa Ana. I work with Veronica. I am a service desk representative. She works in accounting. You?”

“I am an engineer. William works in production. But between you and me, I think we both are capable of so much more.”

Eduardo smiled. “We all like to believe that, don’t we?”

“Someday Eduardo, we’re going to make our mark on Orange County and the world. You only have one life, and you have to jump at any opportunity you get.”

“Yes,” Eduardo replied, his eyes shifting toward Marianne, returning from the bar. “Yes, you do.” He turned back toward Duc.

“It was a pleasure meeting you, Duc. I am sure I will see more of you later.”

“Absolutely my friend.”

Eduardo walked away from Duc and headed right toward Marianne, who had two drinks in her hand. He put his hands out in bewilderment.

“What is this?”

She handed him a glass of liquor. “For you. Cheers to our friends and cheers to love.”

He took the glass from her and beamed. “Cheers.”

They clinked glasses and took a drink, neither taking their eyes off one another. Her eyes twinkled at this moment, and she gave a lopsided grin.

“I like you.”

“I like you too.”

“Then why don’t you do something about it?”

He leaned in. “I would like to take you out for dinner, sometime.”

“Sometime? That could be anytime or no time.”

“Tomorrow?”

“That’s more like it.”

She leaned in and kissed him on the lips. His eyes closed, and he got caught in the moment, his hand grabbing the back of her hair and caressing it ever so gently. Her hands moved around his face and gently nudged it as her mouth penetrated his mouth. Within a few seconds, she pulled away and smiled shyly.

She reached into her pocket and pulled out a pen and then leaned over the nearest table and took out a napkin and scribbled her number on it. Her brown eyes dazzled as she glanced at him.

“Call me tomorrow.”

“Definitely.”

The reception was fun, and Eduardo’s body grew weary. He headed back to his room after it concluded and took off his suit and got into his shorts and undershirt. He grabbed the remote and turned on the television.

There was a gray-haired anchor with a gray coat jacket and maroon shirt with a white undershirt. He was reporting breaking news.

“DEA Agent Enrique Camarena Salazar went to Mexico to fight international drug traffickers. Earlier this week, his body was found buried in a remote area outside of Guadalajara.”

Eduardo’s widened, and he turned up the volume and kept listening.

“Camarena was undercover in Guadalajara attempting to take down the cartel but went missing on February 9th. Authorities are still trying to piece together the events, and how Camarena was killed, and who killed him.

“His body is set to be flown back home to San Diego, where he will be buried with honors. ‘Kiki’ as he was known to everyone that knew him, was an American hero.”

Eduardo’s jaw dropped at the news, and he sat down solemnly and stayed silent for a moment. He pointed the remote at the television and clicked, turning it off. He laid down in his bed and rested his eyes, attempting to forget the horror he witnessed on the news.

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