I'm lying in bed staring at the ceiling when Rosa enters my room. 'Senorita, Marcus, he here to take you - see your family.'
Marcus is the ranch hand assigned to drive me to Siempre. Since I can drive myself, I suspect he's there to keep an eye on me.
I can't seem to get out of bed. My head throbs, my eyes are burning and I just don't have the energy to stand up. 'Tell him, I'm not going.'
She takes in my swollen eyelids and blotchy face and strokes my forehead gently. Since she doesn't ask why I'm crying, I assume she heard my screams last night.
Without a word she leaves my room. I hear voices outside my door - hers and Diablo's.
Five minutes later she re-enters my room. Before she shuts the door, I catch a glimpse of Diablo standing outside my room, craning his neck to look at me.
Our eyes meet for a moment before I turn my face away.
Rosa sits on the edge of my bed and says, 'Your family, they will be worried about you, Diablo say.'
I stare silently at the ceiling. I don't even want to hear his name right now.
'I bring you coffee, you feel better,' she says, stroking my arm. 'Coffee and shower always make me feel better, 'member?'
I shake my head from side-to-side.
'You must go. Maybe Diablo change his mind then ...'
She's right. It might be the only chance I have of seeing my family.
'Come.' She takes my hand and leads me to the shower.
I do feel a little better after the shower. Just a little. The coffee helps too. I look at myself in the mirror - my face is puffy, my eyes are swollen but mere slits, my nose is bulbous and my head is pounding from all the crying. The last thing I want to do right now is to see anyone. But I force myself to dress, brush my hair, look presentable.
Before long, we are heading to Siempre.
We drive in silence and I psych myself into appearing cheerful and together for my visit. No-one really cares how I feel, so what's the use of crying in front of them. Crying will only blow my cover. I'm supposed to be fearless, angry, bad-ass Payton, remember? Not, shattered, depressed, suicidal Payton.
Marcus gives me two hours with my family while he hovers around waiting for me.
I see my family and fake it - I smile, laugh, crack jokes. Comes easy to me. I'm a big fat liar, remember?
Austin stares silently at me and I get the feeling he knows something is wrong.
The villagers hear about my visit and swarm in to see Diablo's obsession. They bring gifts and are relentless with their questions - how come I'm still alive? Has anyone bitten a chunk out of me as yet? IsDiago half-man half-beast?
I tell them about life at Tana-Mera - Christa is evil, Diablo seldom speaks more than two words at a time, Tongue is really a Troll, Maria and Rosa are great ladies and that I'm okay, just bored.
'They eat people?
'He's not half-man half-beast and they're definitely not cannibals,' I say.
Sighs of relief from some - looks of disappointment from others.
'I haven't been fed human flesh and they haven't bitten a chunk out of me.' I run my hands lightly over my body. See? But if they come to eat me; I'd suggest my nalgas first,' I chuckle and pat my butt.
They nod, but do not laugh.
Two hours fly, it's time to leave and my fa?ade slips - I fight back tears. I don't want to go back to the ranch and Diablo's unwanted visits. I guess it's obvious because the villagers are speaking words of comfort and trying to reassure me.
I desperately summon a smile, but fail miserably and a tear escapes. F**k! Why the hell can't I get my **** together?
People around me are aghast at my tears. What happened to sassy, smart-alecky, provocative Payton? Payton the prankster.
'Dad, you need to go back to America,' I say.
'Why? I'm happy here Payton. Especially since you're okay.' I'm okay? He my father; how could he miss my despair?
'Dad, Diablo - Christa is evil, dad. Diablo and Christa and everyone else there.'
'Relax Payton. I leave when I'm ready to. Besides, how can I leave when there are so many lovely Senorita's around, huh?'
I sigh and look at Elaine.
'I tell him that all the time,' Elaine complains, 'but he insists on staying here. Austin won't leave so Paris won't leave and I guess, well, I have to stay too.'
Saying goodbye to my family leaves me unhinged and depressed. Austin gives me a long hug and squeezes my waist really hard.
I cry all the way home. Marcus watches me though the rear view mirror but says nothing. When we arrive at the ranch, I walk straight to my room and crawl under the covers and cry into my pillow.
Through the depths of my despair, I decide to kill myself.
First, I need to write a letter to the only person I love - the only person who loves me - Austin. In spite of everything, in spite of him dumping me and marrying my beautiful step-sister, I'm certain he cares. My father cares because he is genetically programmed to love me. But Austin, he didn't have to, but he does. I see how he looks at me - the tenderness in his eyes, the way he slants his beautiful head to one side when he smiles at me, the way he squeezes my waist. I feel his secret love. I really do.