Prior to Maria's arrival
"Adios 'Suela! And thanks again for the earrings, Francisca!" shouted the tanned girl to her friends across the street.
"De nada." Francisca yelled back, as she walked down the street.
"See you at work tomorrow, Rosa!" Consuela added before linking arms with Francisca and leaving Rosalia all alone
Rosalia tugged her thin jacket over her shoulders and headed down the dimly lit New York street. She was already regretting her choice of shoes – sure the heels had been perfect for dancing and she had received plenty of compliments but now her feet were starting to rub. Why did she have to stay out so late? She knew she was silly walking home alone at this time but it was better than having to walk home with Indio after all if Consuela's tall tales were to be believed Indio wasn't "half as boring when you were alone with him as when he's with 'Nardo and the boys". Rosalia wasn't too sure what 'Suela meant by that but she knew she didn't want to find out.
Indio was another from her country and the reason she had been allowed to go to America – to marry Indio. In Puerto Rico the thought of going to New York all by herself thrilled her. She was going to live in New York, the city of dreams and opportunity, with her friends. But now in these cold and dirty streets she saw things differently. "This is what I left my country for?" she thought bitterly, "This is what I left mama and papa and Kiki for?"
"Ai!" she realised suddenly, "That is the drug store – I must have taken a wrong turning somewhere." She froze – 3 American boys were leaving the store. Were they some of the boys Indio and his friends were always fighting with? No they couldn't be! They were laughing and joking together and behaving, well, as the boys back in Puerto Rico – just without an accent.
"Momentito señores!" she called over to them – their head shot up like lightening, "I am lost – do you-"
But one of the boys, a taller one with messy hair and bright emerald eyes, cut across, "You sure are lost – the docks are just 'round that corner; why don't you head on back where you came from!" he said fiercely in a thick New York drawl.
"Cool Action!" the blond one commanded, their ringleader.
"Do any of you know how to get to the bridal shop down town from here?"
"Well sure we do, beautiful, why we'll take you now, right Action?" said the boy who hadn't spoken yet stepping forwards to her and putting his arm around her waist making the boy they called Action snigger. Rosalia pushed him off with all the strength she had, which just made Action laugh more. The blond boy rolled his eyes, bored, and glanced over his shoulder at the drug store where Rosa saw two extremely pretty blond girls in tight grey dresses step out giggling.
"You comin' Riff honey?" one of the girls shouted over.
"Gimme a sec Vel'!" he yelled back to the girl Rosa assumed was his girlfriend, "You guys get goin' – I gotta give this chica directions."
"Right daddio!" they chorused, snapping their fingers and running down the road. Over at the drug store she saw the two girls whispering to each other and glaring at her.
"OK señorita," Riff said, "You musta taken a wrong turn down 8th so ya gotta go down that sidewalk there and take a left at the lights and it'll be straight ahead of you, you got that?"
"Si," Rosa breathed, "Gracias señor and sorry, I didn't want to cause trouble for you I'm new here-"
He laughed harshly, "All you Puerto Ricans are buggin' new here! – why don't ya just…" Rosalia took a step back in alarm and Riff sighed, "Don't look at me like that you know it's true! Look you'd better get outa here and stick to your own side next time!"
"Si, si" she mumbled darting down the road, trying to get away from the blond boy and his American buddies as fast as she could.