Spring 2011 Joaquin is 29 and Gabriela is 26. Last update: Summer 2010

Soundtrack: Lauryn Hill – Tell Him

**warning: some sexy language and simulated nudity**

Gabriela erupts with laughter, the sound full and loud as Joaquin glides nimble fingers across her ribs. She throws her head back exposing her throat to his playful kisses and in that moment Gabriela is deliriously happy. This time last year she had wanted nothing more than to be back in their old home enjoying the Argentinian sun and beach but now she can accept that the move was benefiting the entire family.

She would gladly follow her husband to the edge of the world without complaint or regret; however over the last three months she has grown in a way she never expected. She never thought she would love working. Her parents raised her to find a husband who would take care of the bills and to channel her energy into community service and children but things change. She feels stronger now, more capable than she did a year ago when they first moved here. 

At times Gabriela misses being home with the girls, chasing them around the garden, but most days it doesn’t compare to seeing the stress lines melt away from Joaquin’s face as the bills become easier to manage. He tries to spoil her now through minor purchases for the house except she doesn’t need it, she just needs him and their children.

“I’ve missed that smile, querido.” Gabriela leans forward, brushing her hand against his beard lined jaw. She likes the new facial hair, it made him look more ferocious, more masculine. “It’s been a long time since I’ve seen it come so easily.” 

“It’s hard not to smile when I get a small bonus in my paycheck that allows me to take my very beautiful wife out to dinner for her birthday.” Joaquin grabs her hand and kisses her fingers slowly, carefully running each one over his lips. “ I never dreamed a woman like you would want to marry me, would want to build a life and have a family with an orphan but you did. Thank you.”

Her cheeks grow hot from the force of her blush and she places a lingering kiss on Joaquin’s lips. “Who could ever ask for a better husband that you? Come, let’s go inside before we miss our reservation.”

 

Joaquin knows he’s lucky, the happiness he experiences daily more than making up for the uncertainty of his youth and the things he keeps hidden to ensure his family’s contentment. He may worry constantly about how their next bill is going to get paid but those concerns can’t touch the joy he feels watching his twin babies walk around healthy and happy in their own backyard or seeing his wife proudly strut off to work everyday. 

Sometimes he feels guilt about the lies but most often its shame that weakens him during the quiet hours of the night when he can’t sleep. How is he suppose to steer his family in the right direction if he has to beg some bureaucrat once a month to please help him put food on the table?


They eat in companionable silence when their food arrives before Gabriela brings up a topic he didn’t expect to hear about tonight. 

“Mama called earlier to wish me a happy birthday and I finally told her about my job.” She speaks hesitantly, obviously choosing how to phrase her words. “I explained how much I love working with the children, especially the younger ones -”

Joaquin interrupts, his expression becoming grim.”But she wasn’t happy.”

“No, of course not.” Gabriela responds and small smile touches his lips at how exasperated she sounds. “I tried to explain that I’m working because I want to, that it’s to give us space for another baby but you know how she is. She thinks I’m placing too many demands on you.”

“No, not true. You don’t ask for enough.”

Her smile is instant and it does much to soothe the chafing feeling that always results when they talk about his in-laws. However something needles him and he doesn’t want to ask but he can’t seem to help himself. “And your father?”

Gabriela’s sigh is all the answer he needs and he clenches the spoon tightly in his hand. They’ve been married for 5 years and her father still manages to tie him up in knots. From hundreds of miles away he can feel the man’s disapproval, his disappointment that his beautiful daughter had married a man who had no name and couldn’t take care of her properly.

He can see the sneer on his father in law’s face even now and Joaquin fights the urge to down his drink while his wife continues to talk. It doesn’t matter how much he plans and proves himself, in Jacinto’s eyes he’ll always be the loser who dragged his daughter into poverty and forced her to work instead of being a real man and providing for his family. The urge to throw up is strong.

“Querido, don’t.” Gabriela touches his arm, the look she gives him knowing. “Today is my birthday and I want to be happy. What they think doesn’t matter, not really.”


 

They work hard to regain levity lost, the forced laughs and strained smiles slowly morphing into sincere grins and a rare full belly laugh from Joaquin. The memory of hurt feelings fade into the background and Gabriela lazily dances her fingers over Joaquin’s exposed forearm, a smile blossoming across her face at the sudden flare of lust in his eyes. 

Their laughter is light when the staff arrive to good-naturedly usher them out and for first time Joaquin notices the deserted restaurant, the chairs placed on top of the tables and a small group of waiters waiting to clean their table of plates, candles and small crumbs of cake. He leaves a generous tip and tugs his intoxicated wife outside on unsteady feet.

He watches her sway around the restaurant’s small playground, dancing to a song only she could hear and his heart aches with the amount of love he has for her. Gabriela twirls over to him and he gladly takes her outstretched hand, spinning her around the damp grass.

 

Joaquin pulls her close to him, enjoying the way her body goes plaint against his. When he first held her in his arms, he had been amazed at how perfectly they fit together. They had been young and her parents had hated him, and still do, but he hadn’t been able to let her go — they got married five months later. Gabriela had been hesitant, anxious but he made his case and each year he was proven right. With her body pressed against his, her fingers running along his spine and her breath warming his neck Joaquin knows he’ll brave anything to keep her happy, anything in the world.
 

He moves suddenly, changing the spin into a dip and his lips are gentle against hers. Joaquin relishes the way she kisses him back eagerly and the tempting way Gabriela pulls back only to softly slide her tongue against his bottom lip. He fights his desire to simple crush her to him and devour her roughly, instead pouring all his passion into the satisfying way their tongues dance together. 

They pull away and stare at each other for a moment, their chests heaving as they try to catch their breath before Gabriela speaks the only word needed. “Home.”

 

The walk home is quick, filled with touches and a few times they stop to kiss and caress each other like teenagers learning the joys of each others bodies for the first time. He doesn’t speak much to the baby sitter when they reach their house, simply handing her the money while his eyes trail Gabriela’s progress up the stairs. He waits until he hears the car drive away and the door to the nursery close before he makes his way upstairs. 

He opens the bedroom door slowly and his breath catches in his throat. He’s always known she was beautiful but there are moments when it hits him all over again. Joaquin takes him in her smooth dark skin and the generous curve of her hips. He stills her hands trying to remove her bra and the kiss he places on Gabriela’s shoulder is tender, lingering. Wrapping his arms around her, he cradles her close to his body feathering kisses from her shoulder to her ear and back again. She turns in his arms and he’s man enough to admit that the kiss she gives him makes his toes curl.

Things move quickly from there and its only a matter of minutes before they’re both naked and falling into bed.



They stay poised on the edge of a moment, staring into each other’s eyes while tension builds. Breathe in, breathe out. Joaquin inhales her sigh as he enters her slowly and he can’t help the grunt that escapes when Gabriela digs her nails into his back. Yea, he’ll brave anything to keep her happy, anything in the world.

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A.N: I am so relieved to see this thing finally get posted. It has gone through four different versions and I think I’m happy with this one. Heredon Cove is such a soap opera but I like to believe that everyone has a little soap opera in their every day lives. I hope this was a decent continuation of what I started with the Valdez family. I think they’re getting a nice fleshing out so far.

I love that Lauryn Hill song and yes I know its a song to God but for some reason I just felt it fit this update. ::shrug:: Who knows how the mind works. Happy reading!

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