After we drink the amazing potion Rosa and Paulo concocted, we dance our asses off until we’re all glistening with sweat. It’s the best. Even though I know the alcohol was burned off when Paulo lit the cauldron of potion aflame, I feel like I’m buzzing on a high. We all are. Glazed eyes everywhere. High on life, we are.
When I can’t dance anymore, I get Shania’s attention and nod towards the door. The cool night air beyond would be perfect right now. It would definitely douse the drink of fire that banishes evil. Ha.
Shan gives me a thumb’s up and we make our way to the door. People are everywhere, dancing in a conga line, worming their way around the room like an electric current of wonder.
“Whoa,” Shania says as we explode out into the night. “Sweet. That was so much magic, Diego. I want to live here forever.”
I don’t know if she means in Spain, in Fonfría, or in this moment, but to be honest, I’m good with any of the above.
“What is that gorgeous scent? Do you smell it?” She looks around, tries to find the source of the fragrant scent that fills the night around us. She’s hopeless. The entire outside wall of the dining hall is buried in bougainvillea.
“Do you think perhaps it could be the miles and miles of bougainvillea right over there?” I ask. “I don’t know, I mean, it could be something else?”
“Anyone ever tell you you’re a smartass, mister?”
I smile, take her hand and walk her over to the wall of flowers. She’s right. Their scent fills the air. And the moon is still close to full. The clear sky out here still gives us an entire universe of stars.
I break off a small bunch of the flowers and offer them to Shania. She brings them to her face and inhales deeply into the purplish bouquet.
There’s a loud screech from inside the dining hall, followed by cheers, laughter, and clapping. Shania looks at me. “Paulo.” The conga music wafts out into the night. I’ve never felt so electric in my life.
“Dance with me,” I say. I take the flowers from her hand and tuck them in behind her ear. I hold out my hands and Shania laughs. “What?”
“Nothing, Diego,” she says. This is everything I want right now. Out here in the near darkness, half-lit by the moon and bubbling over with all these emotions. Conga beats spill out around us. “I’d love to dance with you.” We dance, and it’s glorious. Better than the heat of the potion, the theatrics of Rosa and Paulo, and the spectacle of the Queimada ceremony combined. I’ll never forget this moment.
THE CAMINO CLUB will be available on October 6th, 2020, from DUET BOOKS, the YA imprint of INTERLUDE PRESS.
About THE CAMINO CLUB: “After getting in trouble with the law, a group of wayward teens are given an ultimatum: serve time in juvenile detention for their crimes or walk the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage across Spain over the summer holidays with a pair of court-appointed counselors. Although they come from diverse backgrounds, the unlikely friends try to make the best of their situation. The pilgrims grow closer on their journey, but they may not make it to their destination–the Cathedral in Santiago. If they do, will they each find what they’re looking for, and will their newfound friendships endure?”