First Impressions

First Impressions

BIANCA'S P.O.V

"Kayliee!" Bianca squealed into the phone.

"Hey," Kaylie replied half-heartedly.

Bianca couldn't really blame her best friend for the unenthusiastic response. While Bianca was going on an exotic trip to Mexico for Christmas vacation, poor Kaylie was left alone in their hometown of Vancouver, BC to endure an aggravating Christmas, dealing with her countless relatives. Her normally cynical behaviour turned into downright moodiness during this time and Bianca knew—from experience—not to get on her nerves.

Toning down her cheerfulness, she asked tentatively, "Have the relatives started flying in already?"

"First group of Langstons got here a little over an hour ago and they've already started getting on my nerves. The little twins just turned 2 last week and they're everywhere," Kaylie complained.

"Aww, the cute little ones from last year? What were their names again? Molly and Polly?" Bianca asked, amused.

"It's Molly and Holly. And like, seriously, you won't believe what they've been up to. They've already gone through half my drawers, emptied out the whole pots and pans cabinet in the kitchen, and broken Keira's new jewelry box. Keira's so mad—she's locked herself in the bathroom and is sobbing her puny 9-year-old heart out. And now, the little devils are thundering up and down the stairs, giggling like friggin hyenas so I can barely hear myself think around here!" Kaylie ranted.

Bianca stifled a laugh. "Come on Kayles. They're probably not that bad."

"Hmph, easy for you to say," Kaylie retorted. "You're not here, suffering through all this. You're tucked away into your nice, cozy little house with no miniature devils running amok nearby."

Bianca had the strong urge to burst into a fit of giggles. Kaylie's overdramatic, tortured-by-family act was one of her favourites, especially since Bianca knew that Kaylie really didn't mean it at all. Sure, all her relatives—in one house, for a whole week—irritated her to no end, but Kaylie still loved them, no matter what.

And to Bianca, whose only family was her workaholic father; Christmas always reminded her of a time. One where she had spent Christmas laughing along with the rest of her family, feeling all warm and fuzzy inside when her mother gave her that special smile that was meant just for her. It had been then years since she'd seen that special smile. Her mother's death had left a huge void in her seven year old heart, one that still opened up occasionally, like at Christmas-time. Suddenly, Bianca wasn't feeling so chipper anymore.

"Hey Bee, you there? What's wrong?" Kaylie asked noticing that her friend had gone quiet over the phone.

"Nothing," Bianca quickly replied.

"You're thinking about your parents aren't you?" Kaylie asked gently.

"Of course not, anyways, I need to, uhh, go do my homework—"

"Stop lying. You always were a bad liar," Kaylie said cutting her off.

"I am not!" exclaimed Bianca, offended.

"Are too! Who does homework on the last day before Christmas vacation?" Kaylie pointed out.

Oh! Bianca had forgotten about that.

"Well, I am not always a bad liar," She amended.

" Remember the first time we skipped school in grade 9? It was last block, so we came over to my house and were watching TV. And then like, Dad came home early for some reason and asked us how come we were back early and your face turned tomato red and you told him the school burned down so they let us all come home early!" Kaylie reminded her, laughing.

Bianca chuckled at the memory, her spirits rising. "Okay yeah, well that's when I was younger…"

"No! Remember the "walking the dog" excuse you came up with last week when we—"

"Okay, okay fine. I get it. I'm a bad liar. There, I said it. Happy now?"

"Very."

CRASH!

"What just happened there?" Bianca inquired.

"GO AWAY YOU LITTLE RASCALS!" Kaylie shrieked in the background. Bianca heard a door slam and then Kaylie was back. "Sorry about that. I just had to scare the twins away before they actually broke something," she explained, a bit breathlessly.

"I see. So how's shy little Benjamin doing with the mischief-makers around?" Bianca asked. Benjamin was the third, and last, child of the Langston household. The sensitive 6-year-old mirrored Kaylie in looks—with the same dark, thoughtful eyes and tousled blond hair—yet in all other aspects he was as different as he could get.

"Meh, hiding under his bed probably. It's ok, he'll be fine in another hour or so," she assured. "Oh hey, wait up a sec. I think I hear my mom calling me." Pause.

"Yeah, she is. Kay, I got to go help make lunch," Kaylie rushed.

"Okay, I better get back to packing anyway. Bye, Kayles! I'll miss you so much!" Bianca said, dolefully.

"I'll miss you more," Kaylie replied. "Don't have too much fun without me. And you have to tell me everything when you get back—and I mean everything. Oh and tell Jessica Parker I still think she got a nose job over the summer."

"I won't," Bianca laughed. "Merry Christmas, in advance."

"Merry Christmas to you too," Kaylie finished.

Bianca hung up. It was too quiet, all of a sudden, without Kaylie's voice ringing in her ears.

"Oh well, better get back to packing," Bianca sighed to herself.

The next day…

"Jessica!" Bianca called out to a slender redhead.

She turned, her red curls bouncing, and squealed, "Biancaa! Ohmygawd! I'm soo excited! Wow! Two whole weeks! In Mexico!" When Jessica got excited, all her phrases ended with exclamation marks.

"Calm down there, Jess, you're going to hurt yourself," Bianca laughed. "But yes, I totally agree. This is going to be one amazing trip!"

"Lounging on beaches, cute Mexican guys, and tons of shopping for Mexican umm... stuff" Jessica sighed. "Mmm, I'm in heaven."

"Already?" Bianca asked, grinning. "We're not even on the plane yet."

"Yeah, but we're at the airport and that's close enough," Jessica pointed out, refusing to let her spirits dampen.

"Alright, okay fine. I'm going to go check in with the teachers," Bianca said.

"Oh yeah, I think I saw Ms. Costello somewhere by the fountain," Jessica waved vaguely towards her right, her mind already clearly on something else.

"Thanks, I'll be right back," Bianca called out, walking in the pointed direction.

RICO'S P.O.V

"Leo, is it ever going to be possible for you to actually wake up on time?" Rico asked exasperatedly, his hazel eyes blazing.

"Chill, dude. We're only a couple minutes late. Hold on, just let me park," Leo replied smoothly, neatly pulling the car into an empty parking slot.

"A couple?! Man, more like 20! Dude, you know how worked up Flaggerty gets about this stuff," Rico exclaimed.

"Whoa, man, calm down. It's not like we missed the plane," Leo shrugged, stepping out of the car and slamming the door shut.

"Almost did. Come on man, you know this trip is important to me," Rico said.

"Yeah, I know. I understand," Leo said quietly. "Come on, let's go." He hitched his duffel bag up his shoulder, ran a hand through his tousled blonde hair, and started walking towards the Departures entrance with Rico following in pursuit.

A warm blast of air shot out of the automatic doors as they walked into the airport. Rico looked around, looking for his fellow classmates.

"Oi, Rico! Leo! Over here," someone called out. As they headed towards their group, Leo glanced at Rico.

"Relax, man. Get back to your normal cocky self or the girls will start coming to me," he winked, lightening up the tense mood.

Rico laughed. "Hey, man, no need to be jealous. It's not my fault the girls can't get enough of me."

"That's more like it," Leo chuckled, playfully punching Rico's shoulder.

"And once we board the plane, I don't want any horseplay or fooling around," Mr. Flaggerty droned on in the background.

"I think he gained 5 extra pounds for this trip," Leo murmured conversationally to Rico.

"It's kinda hard to tell with the rest of the fat hanging around his middle," Rico pointed out.

"Oh man, you know what I just realized?" Leo exclaimed. "We're gonna have to see that—in swimming trunks!"

"Ugh, gross. That's a nasty thought man," Rico shook his head, as if trying to clear himself of the disgusting image. "Hey, you know who else we'll be seeing in bathing suits though? All these hot chiquitas."

"You're right," Leo smirked. Simultaneously, they glanced around the room.

Rico's eyes swept over a couple of curvy blondes standing in a group to the far right. He caught the eye of one of them and flashed a confident grin. She grinned back toothily. Hastily, Rico moved on, scanning the room, and making eye contact with a petite redhead with a mass of curls. She blushed prettily. Yet, the slender girl to her left was the one who caught Rico's attention.

The brunette casually tossed her head, turning slightly as she did so. Their gazes met and instinctively, Rico winked. She, however, took him completely by surprise when she rolled her eyes and turned away. Intrigued, Rico looked her over more carefully. She had an athletic build—tall and slim. Her wavy brown hair tumbled past her shoulders, matching her light brown eyes. She had pretty nice features, a bit above average, with her full lips and smooth skin. Rico saw her tilt her head slightly down to hear what the redhead was saying, her hair falling forward. She smiled at what she was hearing and Rico noticed she had dimples.

Rico was suddenly interrupted in his thorough inspection of this girl by Leo's loud voice booming in his ear. "Snap out of it, Rico. They called us to board the plane."

Noticing the crowd of students bustling around him, Rico started. "Yeah, yeah. Let's go." He looked back, searching for the girl, but she was already gone.

BIANCA'S P.O.V

Bianca followed Jessica's mop of curly red hair down the narrow aisle, searching for her seat. The damn plane was so huge—it was taking forever!

"Oomph," Jessica grunted. She had suddenly stopped and from the sound of it bumped into something—or someone. A muscular, blond was standing in front of Jessica, looking down at her, his blue eyes crinkled in a smile.

"Sorry about that. I tend to stand as an obstacle in people's paths a lot. It's a little hobby of mine. Keeps them on their toes," he winked. Seeing Jessica's confused expression, though, he changed tactics.

"Can I help you?" he asked, with a politely concerned expression.

"Oh umm yeah," Jessica replied, slightly thrown off. "Do you know where seat C42 is? I mean, it's just that I'm kinda lost." She somehow managed to finish her sentence with a flirty smile.

"Well, not anymore you aren't," the cute guy replied smoothly. "We're right in front of it. See, here's mine, seat C41, and there's yours, C42," he said pointing to the two seats next to him.

"Oh! I probably would've totally walked past those," Jessica grinned sheepishly. "Thank you so much. What's your name?"

"Leo," Leo smiled. "And you are?"

"Jessica," Jessica happily replied. "Jessica Parker."

"Nice meeting you Jessica Parker," Leo chuckled. "Come on, let's sit down."

Jessica made to follow Leo to her seat but then stopped, suddenly remembering Bianca was still there.

"Oh gawd, Bianca, I'm sorry. Do you want me to help you find your seat?" Jessica asked apologetically.

Bianca laughed good-naturedly, knowing Jessica would be more hindering than helpful, and said, "No, it's okay. I think I'm fine. I'll see you later, Jessica."

"Kay! Bye!" Jessica exclaimed. Her phrases were ending with exclamation marks again. Yup, she was definitely excited at the thought of sitting with Leo for the entire plane ride.

"B48, B48," Bianca muttered to herself, as she continued her search down the aisle. "Aha! Found it! Finally," she sighed, plopping into her seat.

"Hi, I'm Rico," a deep voice said from her right. Darn it, he'd gotten the window seat, whoever he was. Bianca turned to face the guy and met a familiar pair of hazel eyes.

"Oh, it's you!" she blurted out, without thinking. It was the guy that had winked at her from across the room when that chubby old teacher, Mr. Flaggerty, was explaining the rules or something. Gawd, how lame could you get? Winking across the room was so clichéd.

This caused him to grin, "Why yes, it's me. Thanks for the introduction though."

Bianca rolled her eyes, this time with a hint of a smile tugging at her lips.

"So, as I think I've already mentioned, I'm Rico," he said. After pausing for a moment, he added, "And since I'm not going to get a voluntary response, I guess I'm going to have to ask. What's your name?"

"I'm Bianca," she replied. "Bianca Summers."

"Kinda like Bond, James Bond," Rico laughed. Seeing Bianca throw him a look, he backtracked, "Sorry, bad joke. Rico Mendez."

The words had no sooner left his mouth than they heard a loud THUD! Rico and Bianca turned around to see a man sprawled on the floor with his luggage lying on top of him.

"Wow, that's an interesting start to an interesting relationship," Rico said, turning back.

Bianca's eyes lingered on the poor man, but once she realized help was on the way in the form of his wife and two flight attendants, she turned to Rico, taking in what he had just said.

"Relationship?" Bianca asked, with a raised eyebrow. It had taken her hours of practicing in front of her mirror to get that expression right.

"Yeah. See, I have this theory," Rico explained. "We all go through life and we all live a story. And as we meet new people, their stories become intertwined with our stories. So no matter how long or short the meeting lasts, there's still a bond and a relationship is made."

As soon as the words were out of his mouth, Rico inwardly cringed. "Wow, I sound like a total dork, don't I?" he thought to himself.

"Wow. That's so profound," Bianca said, taken aback.

"Well, what can I say? I'm a deep guy," Rico laughed it off, a bit embarrassedly.

"No, really. I'm impressed," she insisted.

"Yeah, I tend to have that effect on people," Rico replied, back to his cocky self.

"Sure, sure. Whatever helps you sleep at night," Bianca said smugly, taking out a magazine and an iPod from her handbag.

"Okay, I get the message. You're one of those people," Rico taunted.

"What kind of people?" Bianca asked curiously. What was he talking about?

"You know, the ones who are not into sharing their whole life story with random strangers on long and extremely boring plane rides. So I'll take the cue and not disturb you for the next, oh I don't know, five whole hours!" Rico teased playfully.

"Aww, how sweet of you," Bianca cooed, turning back to her magazine and plugging her earphones in.

"Umm.. okay. You do that," Rico said, taken aback. "I'm just going to umm take a nap then."

"Mhmm," Bianca murmured, turning the volume up on her iPod.

RICO'S P.O.V

Five hours later…

"We have reached Mexico City, Mexico. We hope you enjoyed travelling with Mexicana de Aviacion. Have a nice trip."

Rico woke with a start. Sensing something on his right arm, he looked down to see Bianca's head lightly resting there, her eyes closed, and her mouth slightly parted.

"Mom… I need you…" Bianca mumbled, her eyes still closed.

Her deep breathing assured Rico that she was still sleeping. He gazed down at her for a moment, debating whether to wake her up. However, her redheaded friend came bouncing into view just then and made the decision for him.

"Ohmygawd! Ohmygawd! Ohmygawd!" she squealed shrilly near Bianca ear. "Bianca! Wake up! We're here! We're here! Ugh... how can you still be sleeping?! Wake up!"

Bianca slowly opened her eyes and lifted her head. "If you ever wake me up like that again," she said slowly after blinking rapidly to clear away the sleep, "I will personally chop you up into little pieces, Jessica, and throw each piece into a different ocean."

Rico covered up his snort of laughter with a coughing fit as Jessica mumbled, "Sorry. I wasn't that loud. I bet the people beside me didn't even hear."

"Trust me," Rico laughed. "The whole plane probably heard. Heck, they probably heard you all the way back in Vancouver."

Jessica threw him a dirty look. Beside him, Bianca let out an appreciative laugh.

"And who are you, may I ask?" Jessica questioned snottily, drawing herself up to her full height. Unfortunately, her 5 feet 2 inch frame did not seem very threatening.

"No you may not ask," Rico retorted amiably, and turned his attention onto Bianca. "So did you have a good sleep?"

"Yeah, it was okay," she replied, unsure where he was going with this.

"Course it was okay. It was more than okay. After all, my arm makes a very comfortable pillow," Rico winked, grinning smugly.

Instead of turning red as he expected her to, Bianca surprised Rico by calmly replying, "Thanks. I asked to use it and I took the snore I got in reply to mean yes."

"Hey, I don't snore!" Rico exclaimed, indignant.

"Umm.. how would you know? You were sleeping. You weren't aware of your actions," Bianca pointed out, though in reality, she had no idea whether he really snored or not.

"Mhmm.. just as you weren't 'aware' when you mumbled in your sleep," Rico lashed back, his ego a little bruised.

"Really now? I mumble? That's definitely news to me. What did I say?" Bianca asked. Behind her cool demeanour, Rico thought he saw a flicker of something, an emotion, but before he could interpret it, it had disappeared. Rico wondered if he had just imagined it.

"Now that, honey, I shall save for another time. Can't use up all the blackmail in one day, now can I? Don't worry, I'll tell you eventually—in private," Rico winked again.

Bianca rolled her eyes and said sarcastically, "Uh huh, sure, because right now soo many people are listening in."

Jessica cleared her throat. "Umm hello. I exist remember?"

"Oh Jess. I didn't mean—" Bianca started, but Jessica cut her off.

" And not that I am particularly interested in your well-being after being ignored for like five minutes straight, but like the plane has arrived already and we're in Mexico now so maybe you should get ready to get off the plane. Just a friendly reminder," Jessica huffed.

"Well thank you for that lovely reminder, niña," Rico said.

Jessica gave him a weird look. "Okay, whatever."

"Hey, where's your friend Leo?" Bianca asked Jessica. Rico looked at her in surprise.

"Oh yeah! Leo! I totally forgot. Aww, poor him, he's probably waiting for me. I should get back. Anyway, Bianca, ohmygawd! This is gonna be such an awesome trip!" With a final grin, Jessica hurried away.

"Split personality much? One second she's getting mad about being ignored, and the next she's all happy again," Rico mused, staring after her. "Weird, if you ask me."

"She's a redhead, it comes with the package," Leo said casually from the side.

"Huh? How'd you get here?" Rico asked.

"Easy, genius, I walked," Leo laughed.

"Well maybe it's time for you to walk back because she just went looking for you," Rico smirked.

"Yeah, I know. That's the reason I'm here. You try spending five hours straight with her. She'll drive you—"

"Watch it, that's my friend you're talking about," Bianca warned.

"Why hello there to you too, gorgeous," Leo grinned charmingly at her. "I'm Leo."

"I know. I'm Bianca, Jessica's friend. And I'm going to get off the plane now so if you'll excuse me…" Bianca said, getting up, squeezing past Leo, and continuing down the aisle.

"Wow, cool girl," Leo said. "Kind of icy, but hey, the pretty ones are always a bit snobby."

"Back off man, I found her first. Besides, she likes me better," Rico said smugly.

"Mhmm, sure, if she ever changes her mind though, I'll make sure I let her know I'm available," Leo grinned.

"Whatever, let's go," Rico said, climbing out of his seat. For some reason Rico couldn't figure out, he felt annoyed at Leo.

BIANCA'S P.O.V

The next day…

Apparently, all the students were to be put into groups of four. Bianca realized that she and Jessica were going to be paired up with a team of two students from another school.

"It'll be fun to meet new people," Bianca thought as she strolled into the hotel lobby, a practically sleep-walking Jessica right behind her. Jessica was not a morning person.

"Okay, everyone," Ms. Costello called out, as the sleepy students assembled in the hotel lobby. "We're going to be assigning you into groups of four. If you have formed a group already, please register yourselves with one of your teachers. If not, your teachers will assign you to a group. These groups may include people from different schools, so you guys can get to know each other better. For the remainder of your trip, you will stick with your group—you will be eating together, sightseeing together, and be responsible for one another. If there are any problems, you can contact either Mr. Flaggerty, Ms. Martinez, Mr. Cruz, or myself. We will be happy to address your concerns."

Everyone started shuffling towards their respective teachers and tried to sort out their groups.

"Wow, why is everyone in the hotel lobby staring at us?" Jessica asked quietly. It was true. Many people were staring at the large group of teenagers. Actually, most were glaring.

"It's not as if we're going to burst into a loud raucous party at any moment and ruin their vacation!" Bianca thought to herself.

"You're just so hot they can't keep their eyes off of you," Leo murmured in Jessica's ear.

Jessica blushed. Bianca rolled her eyes. Rico yawned. He had come along with Leo.

"Whatever happened to him being annoyed with her?" Bianca asked Rico quietly.

Rico shrugged. "That's Leo for you. He can never make up his mind about these things." He looked down at Bianca to gauge her reaction. Her disapproving frown gave him an odd pleasant sensation in his stomach that he couldn't explain.

Bianca looked up at Rico, about to say something, but was distracted when she caught Rico staring down at her with a little smile on his face.

"Why did they have to make us get up at freakin' 7 in the morning? We're on vacation," Rico complained, looking away quickly.

"So, Jess, I take it we're going to be in the same group?" Leo grinned.

"Only if you want to," Jessica replied coyly. Rico grinned and turned to Bianca.

"So, Bianca, I take it we're going to be in the same group?" Rico imitated, deepening his voice seductively.

"Only if you want to," Bianca mimicked in a girly voice, fluttering her eyelashes outrageously. They burst out laughing.

"It's going to be an amusing trip, that's for sure," Bianca thought before following the others to register their group.

BIANCA'S P.O.V

A week later…

"Okay, we've been to the Zocalo, Palanco, Paseo de la Reforma, Chapultepec Park, Plaza de Santo Domingo—" Bianca started checking off verbally.

"Which one was that one? The one with the people that read and write?" Jessica asked.

"The scribes," Rico provided. "Yes, it was that one."

"I know what they're called. I just.. momentarily forgot," Jessica finished lamely.

"Sure," Rico rolled his eyes, amused.

"Plaza Garibaldi, the one with the crazy bands and musicians," Leo drawled, continuing Bianca's list.

"Yup, Alameda Park, the Floating Gardens of.. what was it called?" Bianca asked.

"Xochimilco," Rico replied.

"Oh yeah, that's what it was. Okay, so where do we want to go today?" Bianca inquired.

"Shopping!" Jessica exclaimed.

"Again?!" Leo and Rico asked at the same time.

"Well, we have to finish Christmas shopping. Come on, Christmas is like the day after tomorrow!" Jessica argued.

"No way man," Leo complained. "I can't take another day of shopping. It was bad enough the first hundred times!"

"Oh stop exaggerating, it wasn't that bad," Bianca said.

"I don't think I can take another day of shopping either," Rico shrugged apologetically.

"Okay fine then. I know we aren't supposed to do this, but let's split up. Me and Jessica will go shopping and you guys can go to the beach or something," Bianca conceded.

"Sounds good to me," Leo said. "We'll meet back here in three hours and then we'll go out for dinner. How's that sound?"

"Perfect," Jessica purred. "Don't be late!"

"Wouldn't miss it for the world," Leo winked as they parted ways.

BIANCA'S P.O.V.

"I absolutely love the whole atmosphere of the marketplace," Bianca sighed deeply, drinking it all in. She loved everything about it; the crowd, the hustle and bustle, the smells, the noise. It drove away her feeling of being alone.

"Senoritas! Try this. It will look marvellous on you! We have the best quality…" a street vendor called to them from the right.

Bianca saw that the stand was filled with exotic looking jewellery. She pulled Jessica away from the cute vendor at the T-shirt stand and towards the jewellery stand. While gushing over all the exquisite jewellery and marvelling at the intricate designs with Jessica, Bianca spied a beautiful bracelet. It immediately reminded her of Kaylie. She decided that it would be the perfect Christmas present for Kaylie.

"How many pesos for this bracelet?" Bianca asked the vendor.

"Ahh, this is very beautiful senorita but no more beautiful than you. I give you best price: 50 pesos," the old vendor grinned charmingly.

As Bianca paid for the bracelet, her eyes fell upon a clock in the shape of a silver miniature sailboat. As she held the silver sailboat in her hands, she wondered why it had caught her eye.

"Oh yeah, Rico was talking about how he loved to go sailing during the summer," Bianca remembered. "This is perfect for him!"

With a small smile, Bianca decided that this was going to be Rico's Christmas present. She paid for it and turned to look for Jessica. Spying her by the t-shirt stand again, Bianca made her way over to her.

RICO'S P.O.V.

Meanwhile…

Rico wiped his toned chest off with a towel after a satisfying two-hour-long swim at the beach. His wet hair was plastered to his forehead and some of it had fallen into his bright hazel eyes. Pushing it away from his face, he noticed a nearby group of girls checking him out. He was aware of their obvious glances and, some other time, would have probably ended chatting them up but, for now, he had more important things on his mind.

"Hey Leo," Rico called out. "I'm going to go there now. Meet you back at the hotel in an hour?"

"Where? Oh, okay. Sure," Leo called back, turning away from a rather curvy blonde. "What do I tell the girls?"

"Don't worry, I'll be back by then," Rico assured and throwing his towel over his shoulder, walked away, subconsciously aware of the attention he was attracting from the female population on the beach.

Rico entered the cemetery grounds, clutching nervously at a bouquet of flowers. His grandfather was buried here.

Rico took two steps forward. Exhaling loudly, he started towards the row on his right, his eyes searching apprehensively for an Enrique J. Mendez. He continued through the path finally stopping as he found what he was looking for.

Taking a deep breath, Rico closed his eyes. A string of memories flashed before him. Little Rico curled up in his grandfather's lap, captivated by the stories of his grandfather's youth. A little older Rico playing card games and winning (of course, he didn't know then that his grandfather had let him win). Rico remembered the times his grandfather had taken him sailing, the times they had spent taking long walks along the beach, and the discussions he'd had with his grandfather, talking about anything and everything he could think of.

But that had all changed of course. Two years ago, his family had received an ominous phone call informing them that his grandfather had died of a heart attack. Rico hadn't been able to attend his funeral then, as it had been here, in Mexico. He had felt guilty ever since because he hadn't taken the time to come for a final goodbye.

Rico opened his eyes. Crouching down, he carefully placed the bouquet of flowers on the gravesite. His heart finally accepted that his grandfather was no more. A single tear rolled down his cheek in memory of Enrique J. Mendez, the most compassionate man Rico had ever met in all of his eighteen years.

Rico stood up, taking his time, his eyes taking in the site of his grandfather's grave. "Goodbye Grandpa," he whispered with a catch in his throat and with one final glance, he turned and walked away.