Carla Estrella was done. She was so fucking done with the hotel, with Lucho, and her four sisters. She was done with waking up at six in the morning every single day to deal with all the “urgent” hotel business while her sisters came and went as they pleased.
Okay, not every-every day, but some days, Carla conceded to no one in particular. The problem was Carla always ended up picking up the slack because her sisters were always too busy with their own drama to actually work in the boutique hotel their not-actually-dead-father left them.
How dare they?! Carla thought as she stalked up the stairs, not taking any chances with the elevator. It’s fucking eight in the morning and Miranda is out and Florencia is still in bed?!
Couldn’t they see how much hard work a hotel was? Of course they didn’t! Carla put her blood, sweat and tears in this godforsaken hotel. Well, maybe not blood per se, but she worked very hard. Unlike her sisters. At the very least, Virginia did some legal work for the hotel and Lucía brought business with her events and photo shoots, while Miranda and Florencia did little to nothing. They were the worst. They wanted the hotel the most and they did the least.
“Why did you do this to me, Mario?” Carla asked the heavens, knowing full well her dad was well and alive, traveling the world with Coki. “I don’t deserve this,” she muttered to herself. Well, it ended today. Florencia was going to shadow Carla all day whether she wanted to or not. Florencia was going to learn how to do everything Carla did and she was going to like it! As the older of the two by two whole minutes, Carla had right to be respected and obeyed.
Carla did not waste one moment, as soon as she was in front of the Tita room she opened it with the magnetic keycard, pushed the door open and stepped in, taking in a deep breath to yell at Florencia. She was prepared to see Florencia snoring away and having to shake her awake. She was prepared to drag her sister out of the bed. She was even prepared for Florencia cursing her out or having a fit of tics. She was not prepared to see what could only be a woman’s backside high up in the air, pointing straight at the door and where Carla was standing with her jaw hanging open.
“Oh my God, I’m so sorry!” Carla said, slapping both hands in front of her face in an attempt to block the image of a redhead woman turning to cover her bare butt and letting out a high pitch squeal.
“What the fuck, Carla! -Fried clams- Leave!” Florencia screamed, followed by a series of tics rattling off the hotel’s seafood menu. “We -moist clams- weren’t doing -tuna connoisseur- anything!”
She barely registered a rush of curses coming her way when she realized it was not Florencia in the bed. Or not just Florencia. It was Florencia with a redhead. Florencia under a redhead. Didn’t Carla know a redhead woman? “Wait,” Carla whispered, dropping her hands and looking straight at Jazmín Del fucking Río, redder than her hair and more naked than Carla had ever wanted to see her, attempting to shield herself with a tiny throw pillow.
“Leave, leave, -sweet and salty clam- leave!” Florencia screamed at her, hiding behind the other woman. “What are you doing in my room?!” Her right arm jerked up and down “-Coitus interruptus-! Leave!”
“Carlita--” Jazmín started to say, as if she was not still naked and doing a terrible job at covering herself.
“What the fuck, Florencia,” Carla screamed, pointing at Jazmín with an accusatory finger. “What the fuck, what the fuck, what the fuck!” She would never, ever be able to erase what she had seen from her brain. Never.
“Well, then,” Jazmín said, pressing her lips together. “Let’s not make a huge deal--”
“WHAT THE FUCK!” Carla repeated, losing her mind and wishing that Jazmín would either disappear or, at the very least, explode and kill all three of them. “You’re screwing the Sous Chef! My Sous Chef!! Who is a woman! Who is her!”
Jazmín nodded slowly. “Yes, I am--”
“-FUCKING CUNT- CARLA, LEAVE!”
“Wow, wow, what’s going on?” Miru said, rushing into the room and quickly closing the door behind herself. “What’s all the scream--” Her eyes went wide when she saw Jazmín and Florencia in the bed. She turned to look at Carla and then back at the other women and started to laugh hysterically.
“Miranda, how can you laugh at this?” Carla waved her arms in the direction of the bed, finally realizing that she could, in fact, look away from Jazmín’s annoying face and naked body. “She is naked! They’re naked! In bed! With each other!”
“I can see that,” Miru said between fits of laughter, clapping her hands like a dumb seal. She pointed at Carla, “And so did you!”
“Miru, please! -Traitor whore-,” Florencia screamed in hysterics, her body full of tics.
“Now, now,” Jazmín said in a soothing tone, throwing an arm behind her back to grab Florencia. “Carla is going to leav--.”
“Ohohoho, no, no! You are not going to tell me what to do--”
“She’s going to leave calmly and without making a fuss,” Jazmín said, giving Carla a very pointed look. “Because she’s your sister and she doesn’t want to make a big deal out of this. Right, Carlita?”
“Exactly! Right, Carlita?” Miranda nodded along to Jazmín's words.
Carla huffed and stared at Jazmín. She was not going to let Jazmín Del Río of all people throw her out of the hotel room. It was Carla’s hotel and Carla’s hotel room, and technically also Florencia’s, but the point was that no one bossed Carla Estrella around, specially Jazmín who always talked back and gave her attitude. Carla was the boss, not Jazmín. “Maybe you should leave, bitch,” she answered back.
Jazmín flared her nostrils like a bull and her face redden with barely contained rage. Oh, it was on and Carla was gonna give as good as she got.
“Carla -acidic vulva-, don’t talk to Jazmín like that,” Florencia said with a nasty glare, finally looking at her over the mess of red hair she had been using to shield her face.
“Okay, that’s it!” Miranda said with a forced laugh. “Bye, Flopi. Bye, Red,” she said grabbing Carla’s arm and dragging her to the door. “See ya! Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do!”
“Miranda,” Carla started to say, trying to pull back her arms, but Miranda was surprisingly strong.
“We’ve had enough funerals this year. Let’s go, Carla.”
Carla fought bravely against her younger sister’s grip, but Miranda was scrappy and twisted and turned until Carla was so dizzy she did not notice she was out of the room until she heard the door close behind her with a loud bang.
“Miranda, what the hell! What did you do that for? Where were you?”
“Having breakfast, like I do every morning, instead of walking in on my sister’s room unannounced, like you always do.”
“How the hell I should’ve known one of my employees was fucking my sister?”
“Carla, come on, relax,” Miranda said, rolling her eyes and walking to her own hotel room. “Let Florencia be happy for five minutes! They are so cute and pure. Let them be.”
“You knew? About them I mean,” Carla whispered horrified.
Miranda snorted and opened her door. “I have eyes, don’t I?”
“But they were---” Carla almost made an obscene gesture with her fingers before Miranda slapped her hands down.
“Making sweet, sweet love,” Miranda said.
“Love?” Carla said with her eyes wide open. “That looked a lot like fucking to me!”
“Well, both I guess,” Miranda said, scratching her head. “It’s the same thing, really. No biggie.”
“No biggie? I saw---” Carla made an attempt to gesture with her hands what she had seen before Miranda could stop her again. “So many-- They were like--”
“What did you see?” Miranda said in a conspiratorial whisper, leaning close to Carla.
“Jazmín was like on top with her perfect ass---”
“Oh my god, don’t actually tell me!” Miranda said with a squeak, giving Carla a disturbed look.
“You asked!” Carla said, rearing her head back.
“I was joking, holy shit,” Miranda said, still giving her that look. “You’re weird.”
“Me? Weird! Listen here, you brat,” Carla said, pointing a finger right into Miranda’s forehead. “I have been traumatized by Jazmín's ass and you should be helping me process this instead of making fun of me!”
“What’s the big deal,” Miranda said, rubbing her forehead.
“The big deal is that--” Carla stopped. What was the big deal? She thought for a beat, then two. “Is that…”
“You don’t know, do you? You’re so dramatic.” Miranda laughed at her, the smug bitch. “You’re worse than Elisa!”
Did Miranda just compare Carla to her mother of all people? To Elisa who was an afternoon telenovela and a high school production of Macbeth all rolled into one to create the most over the top person Carla had ever met? That was treason, that was a poisonous dagger stabbed into Carla’s back, that was a low blow and completely uncalled for. “Well, Jazmín is not even a natural redhead, so!” Carla dropped that truth bomb and turned on her heels to leave with whatever little dignity she still had left. It was not a lot.
Miranda’s screams of “I knew it” and her insane cackle accompanied Carla until about halfway down the staircase where the hotel’s actually decent isolation managed to stop the sounds from reaching the ground floor.
Carla had a feeling maybe sharing that little piece of information was a terrible idea, but she did not have time to think about any of that. Her brain was going a thousand miles a minute, mostly with images of Jazmín Del Río’s ass being unfairly shapely and muscular. Carla needed to talk about the insanity she just witnessed with someone. What she needed was someone cool-headed that would listen to her.
“Lucía,” Carla whispered to herself as she left the hotel and asked Lolita to drive her to her sister’s apartment. Lucía would help her make sense of all of this.
“You’re absolutely ridiculous, this might be the dumbest shit you’ve ever told me and, quite frankly, I couldn’t give less of a shit. Specially about anyone’s natural hair color. Leave and don’t forget your shoes,” Lucía said with her usual blunt manner as soon as Carla stopped speaking.
Why did I expect anything else? Carla asked herself. Why did Lucía have to be so herself? What is it too much to ask for to be heard and not judged just once? Carla needed a better sister. She had four and two of them just proved themselves to be absolutely useless in a time of crisis.
“Are you leaving or not?” Lucía asked, not even raising her eyes to look at her. As always, Lucía had her nose buried on her phone.
“No, I’m not! We have to talk about this,” Carla said, getting comfortable on Lucía’s couch. She wished she had brought something to eat so she could leave crumbs all over Lucía’s floor and table.
“Why?” Once again, Lucía did not look at her.
“Because!” A long beat of silence. “Because Florencia is our baby sister and we have to make sure Jazmín’s round ass is not taking advantage of her,” Carla finally said, almost believing her own words.
“Baby sister? Are you serious?” Lucía asked, finally looking her. “You’re the same age as she is--”
“I’m two minutes older!” Carla interjected.
“--And Florencia and you are older than I am,” Lucía said with her typical sardonic tone. “And Miranda is the youngest, so she is our baby sister, not Florencia.”
“And I still don’t believe you’re younger than me.”
“Not this again,” Lucía said with a pained moan.
“I don’t believe it for a second because I’m the youthful one that everybody loves and you’re the old witch that children avoid at the park,” Carla said, feeling quite smug when Lucía sent her a withering look, as if Carla was not completely immune at this point. “Don’t you care?”
“I don’t like or want children.”
“About Florencia, you egotist,” Carla snapped at her. “She’s screwing the Sous Chef. Jazmín might be unbearable and a complete bitch, but we can’t lose a chef as good as her. It could be a complete disaster for the hotel! Besides, what if Jazmín's perfect ass is using Flor for her money?”
“One, Florencia has no money,” Lucía said raising a finger. “Two, she can fuck her way through the hotel’s staff for all I care. Three, she’s a grown woman, unlike you,” Lucía said, rolling her eyes.
“I can’t believe you don’t care about Florencia,” Carla said, her tone as disappointed as she could make it. Maybe she could pull some heartstrings.
“I care about Florencia. I just don’t care about her sex life.” Lucía thought for a moment and then added, “hell, I didn’t think she had one before today.”
“Well, she does. With our bottom heavy Sous Chef.”
Lucía pursed her lips. “What is it with you and Jazmín’s ass?”
“I don’t know! Every time I close my eyes I can see it,” Carla said, her voice trembling as she recalled opening that door and seeing Jazmín bending over the bed. “It’s just there, right in front of me. So round,” she added, cupping her hands around an imaginary shape.
“Sometimes, I honestly don’t know if you’re a moron or if you’re very good at playing one,” Lucía said slowly. “You can take your ass to the hotel and deal with your trauma there.”
“Lu, come on,” Carla whined, grabbing one of Lucía’s hands. “I need you to help me out here.”
“God, help you with what?” Lucía’s tone was annoyed, but she did not move her hand. So those heartstrings had been successfully pulled.
“With just--- questions,” Carla said after a moment of hesitation. “How long has this been going on? Do you think it’s the first time? Is it a friends with benefits situation? Are they serious? Should we talk with Florencia about it? Does anyone else know?”
“How the hell should I know all of that?” But after thinking for a moment she said, “probably since Florencia’s civil marriage.”
Okay, that was news to Carla. Like everything else today.
“What? Are you serious? How do you know?”
“Remember Jazmín’s weird speech during the ceremony? She was being all mopey and dramatic and telling Florencia that all you need is love to be happy or some other corny bullshit like that,” Lucía said, waving her hand in a dismissive manner. “I bet it was a physical thing before that but then feelings got in the way, and that’s why Florencia couldn’t walk down the aisle later.”
“I think you’re right,” Carla whispered, her mind slowly going through odd moments she had thought nothing of back then.
“I’m always right. I told Florencia so many times she shouldn’t get married. So much of this could’ve been avoided if you guys listened to me,” Lucía said with smug satisfaction. “Don’t you agree?”
Normally, Carla would have told Lucía she was being bitter and lying to herself, but she was too busy trying to process all that happened around Florencia’s failed wedding.
There had been so many clues that Carla had been too blind to see, but now she had context and all those moments started to add up. How come she did not see it before? It was just so obvious. She remembered that weird fight Florencia and Jazmín had had during the modeling event and how unlike them it was to disagree about anything, let alone scream at each other. How Virginia had fired Jazmín because of something she did, and how neither Virginia nor Florencia wanted to say what it was. That strange speech Jazmín gave during the civil ceremony and how Florencia’s eyes had filled with tears. Jazmín being absolutely hammered during the reception and how she had been all over Florencia. Jazmín, in the middle of the hotel’s entrance hall, crying over canapés. And how Florencia had left Daniel at the altar and how she refused to explain why. Carla recalled that she had found Jazmín outside of Florencia’s room at least twice, and how every single time Florencia had been crying and hiding behind her door.
“Florencia was crying because of her,” Carla whispered to herself.
“What?” Lucía suddenly sat up, stiff as a board, her eyes flashing. “Florencia was crying? Jazmín made her cry? Why didn’t you tell me this before, Carla?”
“Wait, not today,” Carla said, suddenly a little worried for Jazmín. “I guess you do care,” Carla said with a smile.
“Not today? Then when? Stop smiling and tell me before I go to the hotel and kick that bottle-redhead’s perfect ass.”
“Aha!” Carla cried out in triumph. “You also think about her ass!”
“That’s it, you’re gone,” Lucía said, grabbing Carla by the hair and dragging her to the front door.
“Ow, ow, ow, stop!”
“No! I had enough of you today,” Lucía said with finality, grabbing Carla’s shoes. “You call me if Jazmín has been mistreating Florencia or making her cry.”
“But what if I need to talk with you,” Carla said, pouting as prettily as she could.
“Talk to Virginia or Miranda, or even Florencia,” Lucía said, throwing Carla’s shoes through her door and into the apartment building’s hallway. She did not even let Carla pick them up before pushing her outside too.
“But Lu--” Lucía slammed the door shut. Well, that had been a complete waste of time.
By the time Carla made it back to the hotel most of the day had been wasted away and she still was confused and slightly horrified with the whole thing. At the very least she did not feel the need to scream into the void any more. Mmn, maybe Lucía did help after all, Carla thought, making her way to the office she shared with her sisters. Surprisingly enough, when she opened the sliding door she saw Virginia typing away on her laptop and eating a box of chocolates. Now Virginia was the perfect one to talk about Florencia. No one knew Florencia like Virginia, and as the oldest sister and a lawyer, Virginia was cool-headed when she needed to be and did not let her emotions paralyze her or get the better of her.
When Carla closed the door Virginia turned to look at her and guffawed before Carla could even say hello.
“Nice,” Carla breathed out. “Very nice.”
“I heard you got a very nice view this morning!”
“Thank you. Thank you so very much, Vir,” Carla said with Lucía’s typical sardonic tone. “Are you done?”
“I dunno, are you gonna learn how to knock?” Virginia asked, happily chewing on a piece of chocolate.
“I always knock,” Carla snapped at her, sitting next to her sister to steal a handful of chocolate. Serves her right, Carla thought, shoving as much as she could into her mouth.
Virginia made a noise of disagreement that Carla did not dignify with an answer. “So, wanna talk about it?” Virginia asked gently after a few moments.
“No.” A long beat. “Of course, I do!” Carla whined, throwing herself dramatically over the desk. “I think I fucked up.”
“You think? Interesting, very interesting. How did you fuck up?” Virginia asked, awkwardly petting her hair.
“Maybe when you let yourself in Florencia’s room? Maybe by screaming at Florencia? By making Florencia feel judged? Or when you called Jazmín a bitch?”
“Okay, that last one is true,” Carla said, going for a hug and feeling relieved when Virginia accepted it without question. She really was a good older sister.
“Jazmín might be a bitch to you, but she’s so sweet and gentle with Flor,” Virginia said, still petting Carla’s hair. “You should see how she takes care of Florencia.”
“Are you sure about that? I know for a fact that she made Flor cry before,” Carla said.
“Well, who hasn’t hurt the person they love without meaning to? I know I have,” Virginia said, her tone morose and full of guilt. “She’s very good for Florencia. I promise. If Jazmín hurt Flor I would be first in line to kill her.”
Carla let out a long sigh. “Okay, if you say so.”
“I do say so,” Virginia said, sounding strong and sure of herself. “Now go and apologize.”
“Yeah, you’re right,” Carla said, having enough of acting like a child holding onto her mom. “Florencia deserve an apology.”
“I called her a bitch once. One time!”
“And you told Miranda and Lucía that she dyes her hair,” Virginia said, pursing her lips. “Which, by the way, is information I didn’t need in my life.”
“Ugh, fine, whatever,” Carla said, utterly defeated. Next time she had a crisis, Carla was going to go to Virginia first. So Carla went to the only place she could imagine Florencia would be, in the kitchen hovering around Jazmín like she always did.
How the fuck I didn’t see it before?
When she got to the kitchen, Carla pushed the door open very gently, reluctant to keep going to talk but knowing she had to. And there they were, sitting around the kitchen counter, their heads close together, their bodies angled towards each other, two cups of tea in front of them, and the most lovesick look in their faces Carla had ever seen. How many times I walked in on them like this and thought nothing of it? Carla wondered as she stopped to listen.
“She’s gonna come around,” Jazmín’s said, leaning over the kitchen counter. Why is her ass so round?! Carla thought, deeply annoyed. Jazmín’s tone was so soft and sweet she did not seem to be the same person who had been so cold this morning. Then again, this morning she had been talking to Carla, now she was talking to Florencia. It clearly made a world of difference.
“I’m not so sure - ball buster-,” Florencia said sadly, slapping her chest twice before Jazmín could grab her hand. “I think she’s really upset.”
“Honey, she was just surprised, you know how Carla is,” Jazmín said, rubbing Florencia’s hand with exactly the tenderness Florencia deserved. “She’s gonna run to Lucía, freak out and then realize she didn’t need to freak out about anything.”
“A chef and a witch. What can’t you do?” Carla said, fulling entering the kitchen.
“-Stealthy vulva- Carla, can’t you knock?” Florencia said, jumping on her seat but holding tighter to Jazmín’s hand.
“The kitchen door?” Carla asked with a smile. Florencia would always be Florencia.
“Want some tea?” Jazmín offered, getting up to grab a cup.
“No, no, I just came to do a thing,” Carla said, crossing her arms and feeling like a misbehaving child standing in front of the school’s principal.
“Do a thing? How mysterious,” Jazmín said, standing behind Florencia, her posture deceptively relaxed. She looked like a guard dog more than the hotel’s Sous Chef.
“I can’t deal with anymore surprised today, Carla,” Florencia said, blinking hard and twitching her shoulder.
“An apology thing,” Carla said, knowing full well Florencia could not deal with any more stress.
Florencia seemed so shocked she did not move for a few seconds. “Apologize? You? To me?”
Oh, this was so hard and painful. “To you and Jazmín,” Carla said taking a deep breath. “I shouldn’t have screamed at you this morning.”
“What about calling Jazmín a -tasty oyster- bitch,” Florencia said, her tics not taking away from the cold look she was giving Carla. “Because that was far the worst thing you said, honestly.”
“And I’m sorry for calling you a bitch, Jazmín,” Carla said, forcing the words out through gritted teeth. “That was uncalled for and not true.”
“Ahre, I think there was some truth there,” Jazmín said with a smile. Okay, so Jazmín wasn’t completely annoying.
“Maybe a little,” Carla said. “But I shouldn’t have said it. Or tell Lucía and Miranda you dye your hair,” she muttered.
Jazmín pursed her lips, either amused or angry at her.
“Carla!” Florencia cried out.
“What? I’m being honest!”
“My perfect ass and I accept your apology,” Jazmín said, shrugging her shoulders and laughing at Carla’s blushing face. She turned to Florencia, her eyes softening and filling with warmth. “Flor?”
“Come here,” Florencia said without a moment's hesitation, throwing her arms around Carla. “You’re so dumb and I forgive you,” she said, kissing Carla’s face. “But if you do that again I’m going to kill you.”
Carla held her tight. “We are Estrellas, we will scream at each other from time to time.”
“I meant when I was -lesbianing like crazy- in my room and you got in without knocking,” Florencia said, shaking her a little. “Don’t do that, again.”
Carla had to laugh at that. “I promise to try.” She let go of Florencia and poked her nose. “And you promise to work mor--”
“Okay, the nice moment is over -ball buster-,” Florencia said, turning around and grabbing Jazmín’s hand. “See you tomorrow.”
“Flor, I still have work to do,” Jazmín said, laughing and letting Florencia lead her to the kitchen door.
“Florencia! Let her work,” Carla cried out, stomping her foot. “The dinner rush is a few hours!”
Florencia turned to look at her, and without a single tic, she said, “and we’ll be back in a few hours. Please, knock this time.” And with that they left, giggling like idiots and leaving Carla all alone in the kitchen.