Meanwhile, Vasquez's mad dash through the woods continues.
Breathless and dazed from being dragged after him, something inside Jes finally snaps and she stops dead in her tracks, shaking off his hand.
The fog in her brain suddenly clears and she feels more like herself than she has in weeks. Vasquez grabs for her, intending to resume his flight, but she has had enough and pushes him away.
"NO! Vasquez, ENOUGH!"
The old Jessy is back. She reaches behind her back and pulls her ever-present gun out of her waistband, pointing it at a very startled Vasquez.
"I said, ENOUGH! Put the baby down, Vasquez."
Astonished at the change in his normally quiescent lover and warned by the steely resolve in her expression, Vasquez gently sets the infant seat on the ground and carefully raises his hands.
"Now you will tell me what this is all about." Jessy's gun remains steady.
Vasquez's first inclination is to work Jes as he has always done and sex her back into her normal compliant state, but he is halted by the level stare and her obvious familiarity with the weapon in her hands. Some of the mocking defiance appears to ebb from his body as he visibly slumps, hands still pointed skyward. He sighs and closes his eyes momentarily, and when they reopen the sneering arrogance has faded from his expression. He returns her level gaze.
"Thee child ees mine, Jace."
Jessy's face registers first astonishment, then disbelief as her eyes narrow and her grip on the weapon tightens.
"Eet ees true." Vasquez pauses. "You know that I am Diego's hermano . . . brother . . . si?"
At Jessy's nod, he continues.
"When we were growing up in Puerto Rico, our neighbor and best friend was a girl named Ines."
Jessy's face registers recognition.
"Si. I see that you know thee name. From thee time we were cheeldren together, Ines has always been obsessed weeth Diego. She was determeened to marry heem. Ines was very, very angry when she found out that Diego had married your couseen. She moved to TEKveelle and stalked Diego, even while leeveeng weeth another man. She tried many theengs to break up Diego's marriage, but notheeng worked. Eventually she returned to Puerto Rico to fume and to scheme."
Here Vasques pauses, searching Jessy's face. Unable to read her, he sighs and continues.
"Ines was feelled weeth glee when she heard of Colette's amnesia, especially when Diego returned to Puerto Rico to leeve weeth our madre during Colette's eellness. There, in our madre's house, Ines seduced heem, assumeeng that Diego would turn to her for comfort and eventually forget all about hees blonde wife . . . who deed not even remember that she was married to heem anyway. Ines was eencensed when Diego rejected her. She had hoped to ensnare heem by becomeeng pregnant weeth hees child, but knew very queeckly that it deed not work." Vasquez looks embarrassed. "Ines returned to TEKveelle, but not before takeeng one final step to seal Diego to her."
He pauses again, but this still elicits no response from Jes, so he continues once more, jumping ahead without explaining his last comment.
"She tried on more than one occasion to keell Colette. When that failed, she came up weeth one last deetch plan to break them apart."
His eyes beg for understanding.
"She sent heem a peecture of herself huge weeth child. She wanted heem to believe that thee baby was hees, from their treest in Puerto Rico. Thee child ees not hees, Jace. She ees mine. Ines asked me to . . . to put a baby in her belly. She told my why. Thee child would steell resemble Diego, so he would be conveenced that eet was hees. I have always resented Diego for being thee 'good son', and besides, Ines ees a very beauteeful woman. So . . . I agreed." He shrugs.
Some of his old defiance reappears as he grins suggestively.
"And eet was not such a deeffeecult task, after all. Makeeng love to Ines . . . let us just say that eet was a labor of . . . lust."
His grin fades.
"But her plan deed not work. Diego ees so enamored of hees wife that he would not leave her, not even for the muy delicioso Ines. She became very angry. She deesappeared, and when she returned weeth a flat belly, she deed not have thee child weeth her. At first I thought . . . I do not know what I thought. But eventually een her anger she let sleep that the 'leetle bastard' was Diego's problem now, and thee light dawned. I came to TEKveelle at once to find my child."
Jessy's expression has softened, and the hand pointing the gun at Vasquez wavers. Noting this and hearing the far-off cries of the search party quickly nearing, Vasquez suddenly leaps toward Jes, grabbing her gun hand.
Regret in his eyes, he wrestles the weapon from Jes. Grasping her tightly in his arms, he looks into her face and says "I am sorry, Jace," then taps her none too gently on the temple with the butt of the gun.
Jes drops like a stone. Tucking the weapon into his own waistband, Vasquez snatches up the infant seat and resumes his flight through the woods.
To be continued . . .