Lady Moonlight

Free Lady Moonlight by Rita Rainville

Book: Lady Moonlight by Rita Rainville Read Free Book Online
Authors: Rita Rainville
call me." She opened the door and slid to the ground.
    Dane got out slowly on his side, watching as the children pressed close to her, clamoring for a hug, a kiss, a special touch. Carina, a variation of their word for love, affection. She had been well named.
    He turned his attention to the building before him.
    It was an adobe, thick walled and newly whitewashed. A large vegetable garden stood off to one side and extended behind the house. The area in front was dirt, carefully raked and very tidy. Everything, he noted, was as neat as the proverbial pin. As he turned to take in the rest of the grounds, Kara approached with the children and two adults in tow.
    "Dane, I want you to meet Carmella, Juanito and the rest of the crew."
    He looked at a large man with a neatly trimmed beard and steady eyes. A pretty, plump woman stood quietly beside him. After a moment of mutual regard, the three smiled and shook hands all around. Kara released a small sigh of relief.
    "This part," she said with a smile, "requires some concentration." She brought each of the older children forward, one at a time. Emulating the adults, they stepped forward and gravely shook hands. "This is Ruben, Benito, Carmen, Maria, Oscar, Alberto and Elena. And these munchkins are Juanita, Stella, Alonzo, Eduardo and Elva."
    Dane squatted down to be at eye level with the tots and, to his surprise, all but the smallest darted or staggered over, then reached up to hug him. The baby, still in Kara's arms, flirted with him, then buried her face in the curve of Kara's neck.
    "You've now been hugged and stamped with approval. Would you like a tour of the place?"
    "Yes. I thought you said there were ten."
    "The family has grown in the last few days. Let's go this way," she said, following Juanito and Carmella.
    "You should have seen this place when they bought it. It was a mess. I brought some of my hardier friends down for a weekend. We camped here and created miracles. And, of course, Juanito always works like a man possessed."
    Dane was shown through the girls' and boys' dormitories, Spartanly furnished with bunk beds and threadbare blankets. The cement floors were bare, but spotless, and there was a stall shower at the end of each room. The dining room had two long tables with benches and several high chairs for the toddlers. A massive gas stove stood against one wall of the kitchen. Open shelves were filled with loaves of bread and canned goods. The rest of the rooms were much the same: bare walls, cement floors and little furniture. By rights, Dane thought, it should have been dismal and depressing. But it wasn't. Carmella's optimism, Juanito's determination, the happy chatter of the children - not to mention Kara's eagerness to spread largess from the racetrack, he decided wryly - made the rooms ring with laughter, contentment and hope.
    Having shown off everything they possessed, the children began milling anxiously. "Trot out your Spanish," Kara directed Dane, "and assure them that we'll head for the beach in a few minutes. We just have to arrange the logistics."
    Everyone agreed that the children would be safer in Dane's high-sided truck. Within minutes, a large chest filled with iced drinks and boxes of food were transferred to Juanito's flatbed truck with homemade wooden sides. Carmella and Kara each held a toddler.
    "Okay." Kara grinned up at Dane. "We're ready.
    Tell the big ones that they're responsible for the little ones, and if even one of them stands up or hangs over the side, we stop and come right back."
    Before Dane had finished, kids of all sizes were crawling into the bed of his truck. The ones who couldn't make it on their own were handed in. The tailgate was secured and, within minutes, the two trucks were on the road.
    "If you can't speak the language," Dane asked with interest, "how do you communicate with the kids?"
    "Slowly, and with lots of body language. They don't seem very interested in the few words I know. Can't say that I blame them.

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