"Where are you?" calls out Mauricia. She hears giggling in the background as she is playing hide and seek with Teresa. "I hear you but I cannot see you!" She yells in the patio looking around through the late afternoon sunlight shadowing the trees behind her. Again, she hears giggling and then a sneeze. "Bless you!" she responds, hoping to get her to say something else, but Teresa is no dummy, she's learned her mother's tricks. No answer. In the back of Mauricia's mind she's hoping Teresa did not go hide in the outhouse again, she almost fell in the hole the last time and that was a huge mess to clean up! As Mauricia passes the staircase she feels a little hand grab her ankle. "Ha! Did I scare you momma?" asked Teresa. "Of course you did!" Mauricia laughed as she picked up Teresa and walked back to the kitchen. Cipriana sat in the kitchen drinking hot chocolate, enjoying the night's cool breeze when they walked in. Cipriana said, "Mauricia, it's almost time for tonight's service and we musn't be late. Tonight's mass is dedicated to Benjamin for his birthday." Mauricia answered, "Of course, don't forget your cane, I don't want you falling down." As the ladies left for service they left Teresa with cousin Eduardo as she was getting over her cold.
The service was beautiful, and at the end of mass the names of the deceased were mentioned in the dedication. Cipriana sat there misty eyed. She missed Benjamin and his strange ways, as he always made her laugh. She prayed Mauricia would find someone that would love her and take care of her as she had been through enough misery. Cipriana pulled herself up to thank the Priest and give a donation to the church. Mauricia helped her up to her feet and she started to walk her way over to his office and asked Mauricia to wait for her outside. Regardless of her age, Cipriana tried to maintain as much independence as possible. Cipriana called on Mauricia only when she walked long distances such as that night.
The night began to get chilly and Mauricia hoped Cipriana could see the priest quickly. "All we need is for Cipriana to stand behind some long-winded woman or man that wants to talk about how much money they've donated to the church and how they outdo everyone else." The darkness brings out a sense of fear out of Mauricia after the attack. Mauricia prayed, "God forgive my awful thoughts, but you know why I'm in a hurry." Mauricia heard someone call out to her, "So what brings you back to church? You were in too much of a hurry the last time I saw you here!" She squinted her eyes and saw Francisco Alvarez walking towards her from a crowd. He carried himself differently than everyone else. He walked with such confidence it made her feel funny, as she caught her thoughts she started thinking "What is this? He needs to get away, why did I not bring Teresa to ward him off?" Mauricia always thought that men would be scared off by a woman with a child as she felt like damaged goods. Francisco stood there and asked for Teresa. "She's fine and at home." she responded as she looked away. "I won't bite you." Francisco assured her. "Look! My hands will be behind my back." She looked up and smiled. "I knew there was a smile underneath that frown of yours!" Francisco exclaimed as Mauricia stood in shock and said, "I don't always frown, do I?" He answered, "Everytime I've seen you around you look as if your angry at the world." Mauricia snapped back, "That's your opinion. Go bother someone else, remember I have a daughter and you don't want to be seen with me." Francisco responded curtly this time and said, "I will only say this once, anything that is hard to get is worth the work and wait, and that includes you! I noticed you years ago, and you were always busy with church or classes. You fell off the face of the earth and no one knew where you went. I see you again with your daughter and still my intentions have not faltered. I'm asking one more time, will you and Teresa take a walk with me?" Mauricia stood in shock as thoughts of her mother raced through her mind, the hurt, anguish, heartbreak and loss. Yet, Francisco stood there tall, tanned, and she sensed a strength in him that she needed. She answered, "Alright, I will accept your offer and Teresa will always be with me, remember that!" Francisco answered as he looked in her eyes, "You wouldn't be Mauricia without Teresa."
Cipriana called out for Mauricia as she made her way outside the church doors. She noticed Mauricia talking to Francisco as she said goodbye to him and began approaching her. She asked Mauricia, "So I take you have a suitor?" Mauricia grinned and told her about their conversation and Cipriana smiled but at the same time offered her advice. "Remember to always be a lady, command respect, and respect him, and please take your time, I don't want you to get hurt." Mauricia hugged her and whispered to her, "Thank you for your words Cipriana, they mean so much to me."
Francisco and Mauricia took many walks after service over the weekends. Teresa felt at ease around Francisco and within time their relationship blossomed into something more meaninful and stable. Mauricia was finally happy and felt like she was standing on solid ground. Francisco worked in the mines and that worried Mauricia but he promised he would quit soon, as luck around there was dwindling down. Mauricia did not know Francisco was gathering enough money to save for a house and put the rest in the bank to ask her to marry him.