Part 2: When Ramona gets to the St. James Tearoom and starts browsing the shelves, she has a less than pleasant encounter with a stranger. She meets with Felicia and both secretly wish that Lupe's friend skipped the date.
Felicia and Ramona were still waiting for Lupe and her friend to show up. They made small talk for a while, but felt a bit uneasy. Ramona realized that, though Felicia had originally approved the idea of the new member, she'd have rather had a regular meeting that day.
"I have a few personal things to share," she confided. "It will be difficult in front of a total stranger."
The "personal things" probably had something to do with Papacito, Ramona guessed. They always did.
Felicia's phone rang and she whipped a pink glitter case out her Kate Spade purse. Ramona chuckled silently. Felicia wasn't the girlie-girl type, or at least hadn't been in the pre-Papacito days.
"Yes, we are here," Felicia said into the phone. "Sure, no problem. Take your time, hon'."
She closed her phone and addressed Ramona, "Lupe thought she was going to meet her friend at Boots and Books, but it seems that she came on her own. In any case, Lupe is on her way and we'll be meeting the new gal soon."
Then she noticed Ramona's smile.
"Papacito and I have the same kind of phones" she explained. "It was a special from Verizon, a two-for-one offer. I got this silly case to distinguish mine from his."
Ramona nodded. Most likely, it was Felicia who had paid for the special, but she decided against voicing her thoughts for the second time that day. Instead, she directed her attention to the menu. The October fare included turkey and avocado sandwiches paired with scented black tea, small cottage pies, and chocolate-covered truffles. Ah, the calories! Ramona had always been slender, but a few extra pounds had found their way into her tummy and waist. She did her best to fight them and always fasted the day of the tea meeting. Until four p.m., of course.
Meanwhile, Felicia pulled a book out of her purse. She showed it to Ramona with a conspiratorial wink.
"Here, look at this," she said. "I want your honest opinion before Lupe's friend shows up."
"How to spice up your love life," Ramona read the title and shook her head. "Why, you shouldn't need that, with that hunk of a boyfriend that you've got!"
She was suddenly aware of the jealousy that her voice betrayed and the irony of her comment. She really didn't think of Papacito as a "hunk of a boyfriend," but a lazy moocher. Luckily, good-natured Felicia didn't take offense.
"That's right," she said. "Because Papacito is such a hunk I need to keep things hot. I don't want our relationship to become all lukewarm and boring, like the last one. Remember what that guy said when he left me?"
It hadn't been nice, Ramona recalled.
"I'm sure it'll be fine this time around," she hurried to say. "Papacito is lucky to have you."
Where is he going to go that he's worth more? She added to herself.
"You think?" Felicia smiled, pleased. "Well, I feel like the luckiest woman on earth."
Ramona would have liked to ask how an unemployed gym rat with the brains of a palmetto bug could make someone like Felicia feel "the luckiest woman on earth." She was still debating if it would show a great lack of compassion to just hint at the undeniable fact that the guy didn't have a job when her friend went on,
"But I don't want to look like I'm trying too hard, if you know what I'm saying. I am not sure if I should let him know about the book or keep it to myself and just … put the advice into practice."
Ramona wished Lupe were there already. She felt her cheeks growing hot. Since when was she a sex expert? What did she know about that kind of self-help book? She coughed and answered,
"Just try it and say nothing. Practice makes perfect, as the saying goes."
"Of course, I am the one who needs to learn a few tricks. Papacito has had enough experience for the two of us."
Ramona rolled her eyes. To each their own, she thought and shrugged. She looked in vain for something noncommittal to say, but couldn't find it. Fortunately, the velvet curtains parted and Lupe's round face appeared.
"Hello, chicas!" she said. "Sorry we are late. It was a misunderstanding, my fault. Anyway, here is my friend Carmen."
Behind her was the young woman with the long red nails. Ramona stiffened, but manage to hide her discomfort. Felicia, who had slipped the book back in her purse, stood up and kissed Carmen on the cheek.
"Welcome to our team!" she said with maybe too much enthusiasm. "We are so happy to meet you."
You and who else? Ramona wondered.
She waved politely at the newcomer from her seat. Carmen shot her a dirty look. This wasn't going to end well, and Ramona knew it.
Find the Spanish version of this story here.