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Authors: Helena Rose

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BOOK: The Forbidden Promise
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“Say no
more. I forbid you to see that little up-start! Is that clear?"
"Yes, mother," he nodded.
I hope this ends soon ... my throat is
dry and I feel a terrible need to have a drop to drink.
Almost as if she had read his thoughts, Raquel dismissed him with a
“If you’ll excuse me," he said, leaving the studio.
Left alone, Raquel felt the beginnings of a headache.
Ah, my usual migraine.
Almost without thinking, she lit the white candles that stood in the silver
candlestick on the
Staring at the pale flames, she decided she would have to monitor Federico more
I must be careful, Federico alas is a real idiot, he could do something
stupid and everything would be ruined. I can’t let all these years of work go
to waste.

Lucas, waiting for the bank to deliberate on his loan
application, decided to contact again the seller whom he had already met
through the owner of the shipyard.

man, Enrique Gajardo, was staying in a seedy boarding house outside Tampico.
Lucas took him to a quiet tavern and offered him a hearty lunch. Enrique
pounced on the
as if
he had not eaten for some
, his
emaciated look merely confirmed this impression.
Enrique Gajardo, without any special administrative skills, was shy with few
had unexpectedly inherited the vast
from an uncle. At first, overwhelmed by his good
had given in to games of risk and vices
trying to make up for a youth spent in solitude and without enjoyment.
In a short time, he had squandered his uncle’s fortune; the creditors had
become insistent as had the miners that hadn’t been paid for long time.
Enrique told his life story trying to obscure or gloss over some particularly
incriminating points but Lucas had been able to read between the lines. From
when he was young, Lucas had found himself, against his will, meeting all kinds
of people, and he knew exactly where men like Enrique Gajardo were going to end
up: in debtors’ jail or killed by a creditor with very little patience.
On his part, Enrique could not believe his luck and tried in every way to
persuade Lucas how good the deal
by Lucas’
that money wouldn’t
a problem. Obviously,
there were problems with money and Lucas fervently hoped that old Guadalupe
Rodriguez did not play jokes and would grant him the damn loan.
“Of course I’d like to visit the property before deciding," Lucas said.
“You understand that I can’t buy the place unseen.”
“Sure, sure Don Lucas," confirmed Enrique. "That’s more than fair,
more than fair."
They organized to go two days later, Lucas would hire a cab and go with Enrique
Gajardo to see Zacatecas.
Happy and confident, Lucas walked to the harbor. One of the ships chartered by
his transport company had just returned from New Orleans loaded with cotton
fabrics. Unfortunately, he
that some of
material had been damaged.
"We met with some bad storms." Apologized the captain, "and
we've had some losses."
Lucas cut off the material ruined by salt
but still in good condition to take it to
La Virgen de la Caridad
Once the material was well washed, the good nuns could use it as sheets or
Then he called one of the boys who were playing near the harbor. Giving him a
small tip, he sent him to Marisol’s home with a note.
Could we see each
other tonight, before I leave for Zacatecas.
Satisfied, he took the material and headed for the convent.

Aurora got up early and put on a grey dress that was a little
worn but extremely comfortable. She
breakfast quickly and headed for the convent of
Virgen de la
Finally, I can practice as a doctor and all this thanks to Father Julian, I
will always be grateful to him.

She dismissed the servant who had accompanied her and knocked on
’s door. The concierge nun, a
small, plump woman hurried to the door. "Dear Aurora, I’ve been waiting
you. Come in dear child. We’re all
happy to have you with us to help our patients. We know all about your mother’s
opposition to you working as a doctor and we were very surprised by your offer
of help." Aurora smiled, despite being enclosed for years in the convent,
Mother Consuelo managed to know every rumor that was whispered in Tampico. And
the strangest thing was how the rumors spread like wild fire.
"I think the Mother Superior is
, where is she, in her study?"  Asked
Aurora changing the subject.
“Yes, I'll take you there,“ offered Mother Consuelo.

 "Thank you, but I know the way, don’t worry," replied
Aurora as she quickened her pace and outpaced the nun, who annoyed returned to
the guardhouse. Mother Consuelo had hoped to overhear some of the conversation
between Aurora and the Mother Superior. Some interesting news that would have
occupied her mind during the boring duty at the convent’s gate and would have
given her the opportunity to exchange a few words with the visitors.
The Mother Superior greeted Aurora warmly, "Welcome my child, Father
Julian has spoken to me of your wish to help treat the unfortunate people that
come to our convent. This is very commendable and only God knows how much we
need help. If it weren’t for the occasional visit from your father, we would
have to rely only on poor Dr. Peron." Said Mother Superior tightening her
lips with disappointment. Aurora knew Dr. Peron’s name. He was a doctor, who
had fallen out of favor due to alcohol problems. He was trying to rehabilitate himself
while working in the shelter of the convent.

“Although I must confess that I don’t think it’s appropriate for
a woman who knows so little of the world." Resumed the Mother Superior.

“I don’t understand you, Mother."

“How can you provide care to men when you are a woman and aren’t
even married? How can you help women give birth to their children when you
don’t have any?"

Aurora stood up from her chair in a shot. "I'm certainly
not the first woman who wants to follow this profession and I hope not to be
the last! A few years ago Matilde Montoya, despite the smear campaign
perpetrated by her male colleagues and the enormous difficulties encountered in
her path, graduated from the school "
Nacional de medicina
" due
to the direct intervention of our President Diaz and she has subsequently
proved to be an excellent physician.

Like Matilda, I too have studied. I'm a doctor. I've already
taken care of men and witnessed several difficult births. None of this scares
me and I won’t be swept aside due to the mere fact of being a woman. I’m as
good as any man!"

The Mother Superior made a quick sign of the cross and answered.
“Sins of a lack of humility and stubbornness, my child, be sure to talk about
them to your confessor. However, Father Julian gave you permission and I must
obey his will. I just hope we don’t regret it. You can go. Do you know where
the infirmary is?"

“Yes, Mother. Thank you." Replied Aurora as she gave a
quick bow and left.

The interview with the Mother Superior had greatly demoralized
. I can’t understand why women are the strongest opponents to those of
us who want to lead a life different from the one that society dictates. How
much talent is wasted? How many women have to settle for living their lives in
the shadows of mediocre and dull husbands, without ever being able to make a
real contribution with their work to the benefit of everybody?

I hope that one day women will be able to
free themselves from the simple roles of wives and mothers.

“Strength and courage Aurora, don’t be downhearted, show them
what you're worth," she muttered to herself, and with a sigh she entered
the infirmary.

A strong smell of disinfectant assaulted Aurora’s nostrils,
which was not annoying but rather familiar. Soft voices and moans of suffering
rose from the makeshift beds that were against the walls and from a group of
people who were waiting, the strongest standing, others sitting on the ground.

She was used to seeing pain, but what struck her was the poverty
and squalor of these poor folks and the despair in their eyes.

Only the unfortunate come here, those who
can’t afford to pay for care and must rely on the mercy of the sisters. Now
that I'm here, I hope I can make a difference to some of them.

Smiling she walked over to the waiting people and said "Hello,
I'm Dr. Aurora Vargas de Coronado, I'm here to take care of you. Who would like
to be seen first?"

A murmur of surprise arose from the group. "Behold, I knew
it couldn’t be true! We’re not even worthy to have a real doctor. They’ve
deceived us by saying that a doctor would come today, instead we are facing a
slut!" Barked a dirty and dangerous-looking man. "What a dirty joke
to play  right on us, we who are poor and sick! I'm going, let's go
Rosaria!" He grabbed a woman who was slumped on the ground and rudely
yanked her up by the arm.

"Wait, it’s not a joke. I'm a real doctor and I can treat
you!" Aurora eagerly replied.

"I want to stay, leave me!" Cried the woman, as she
broke free from the cruel man and reached out a hand towards Aurora who took it
with kindness. "Please, help my child, he doesn’t even have the strength
to cry." Only then did Aurora see that a bundle of rags that the woman was
holding actually contained a child so small and thin that he had disappeared
into the folds the fabric.

“Come, I’ll see him right away, tell me what's wrong." said
Aurora as she headed for an empty bed and laid the child down. "He has a
very high fever, is weak and dehydrated and he is having trouble breathing.
When did he last eat?" She asked

“A few days ago Ma’am, I don’t know what to do, he keeps
vomiting and ...”

“Yes, I see. He’s drunk some dirty water that has made him
sick." Aurora replied

Aurora called a nun who was bustling around the beds and explained,
“The child needs to drink, even just a small sip at a time but frequently,
water with sugar or salt for now, but you must always boil the water first,
only in this way the child will get better. We'll keep him here and hope that
we are in time to save him."

It was at this moment that the woman's husband intervened
violently. "No, come on, she's a witch, I prefer that he dies rather than
see him healed with the devil’s arts!" With an inhuman scream, he pounced
on Aurora, who stepped back in horror.

me alone, I'm not a witch!" cried Aurora. The man's heavy fist was about
to make contact with her face when a hand grabbed the fist, blocking it. Free
from the brute’s hold Aurora fell to the ground, the impact with the floor took
her breath away. Suddenly she felt herself being lifted up, frightened she let
out a scream. Two gentle hands passed behind her back holding her gently and a
warm voice whispered in her ear "Quiet, calm down, it's all over
now." Aurora looked up and was lost in a pair of deep emerald eyes.

Lucas snorted irritably,
Mother Consuelo is the most gossipy
woman that I know, and to think that she’s been locked up in the convent since
she was a child, I don’t care to know what the very distinct Miss Aurora Vargas
de Coronado has been up to. It's strange, it seems that everywhere I go I meet

"Oh, Don Lucas, how kind you are to bring this material for
the infirmary, heaven knows we need all the help we can get." Thanked
as she trotted after Lucas who strode towards the
infirmary carrying a large basket full of fabric.

“It was ruined during the voyage on my ship and is unsaleable,
I’m glad that at least it will serve some purpose.” Explained Lucas.

He opened the door with his shoulder and a scene that froze the
blood in his veins came into his view. A big brute towered over a woman who was
desperately trying to break free. Lucas dropped the basket and rushed towards
the two. "Stop coward, leave her alone!"

Lucas grabbed the man by the wrist and yanked him away from the
woman, then put an end to his madness with a well-aimed blow to the man’s jaw.
He turned and took Aurora into his arms.

"Thank you, you saved me," she said in a trembling

"It’s always a pleasure young lady.” Lucas said with a wry
smile. His hands moved down Aurora’s back in a slow caress, causing an unexpected

"It seems that I’m destined to support you," He

Aurora, feeling herself blushing, pulled quickly away from Lucas
and tried to regain control of her emotions.

“And you don’t miss an opportunity to take advantage of it, I
see," she hissed in a tone sharper than she would have liked.

Lucas, frowning, glanced at her with stern look.

“I don’t need subterfuge when I want to hug a woman." He
addressed her with a frown, "I see you’ve also recovered pretty quickly
and you don’t need me anymore."

BOOK: The Forbidden Promise
11.71Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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