Carmen brushed them away and returned to her prayer.
They even agreed to take care of the animals while Alex and Carmen took their first vacation.
Carmen and Alex hosted Thanksgiving Dinner for all the family they had in Arkansas.
In a way, Carmen and Alex had adopted a family.
Their daughters were almost grown when Carmen was born, but their son was her age.
Carmen had already spoken to Mums about it.
That idea was troublesome to Carmen as well.
When Josh died, Mary had indicated that she felt Carmen was at least partially responsible.
Carmen had given Josh no encouragement.
"Tell me, Carmen," Mary said as she dried a dish.
Carmen stopped washing the dish in her hand and stared at Mary in mute silence.
Carmen finally found her tongue.
Carmen rinsed a dish and sighed.
Carmen shrugged again, plunging her hands into the warm dishwater.
Carmen made a face.
"It's not a big deal," Carmen said, and launched into another subject.
Jonathan was playing cars with Destiny in the family room floor while Carmen straightened up the clutter left by so many people.
Random eyed Carmen silently.
Katie said that was because Carmen had been raised poor and had become frugal.
Destiny was watching them intently and Carmen touched her arm.
Jonathan came in as Carmen was setting the table.
Carmen glanced at Alex.
"Maybe we could get a van," Carmen suggested.
Jonathan grinned and Carmen glanced at Alex.
Carmen hurried over to Destiny.
"I'm sorry I didn't get up earlier," Carmen said.
Carmen, don't bother to cook.
With everything going on, Carmen didn't have time to worry about flying, but when they were all sitting at the airport, she finally had time to stew over it.
Carmen sat with her hands clutched together tightly as the plane taxied out to the runway.
Alex didn't look at Carmen, which was her first inkling that something was amiss.
When Señor Medena introduced the girl as his daughter, Carmen caught her breath and looked at Alex for an explanation.
Felipa looked to be in her early twenties and had a sunshine smile that made Carmen feel welcome.
Carmen accepted the hug and stepped back, startled to silence.
Carmen tried to focus on Felipa, but her mind was full of questions.
Carmen tried to hide her surprise.
Alex helped the man get the luggage into the trunk and then hurried to assist Carmen into the car before the man could touch her.
Alex climbed into the car beside Carmen and placed his arm protectively on the back of the seat behind her neck.
Carmen scooted closer to him, wondering if he heard Felipa.
Señor Medena was watching Alex, but from the corner of her eye Carmen could see Alex was looking out the window.
"Alex tells me you have some nice horses on your ranch," Carmen said to Señor Medena.
Carmen wrinkled her nose at him.
Carmen said, grabbing her hand and kissing the chubby little fingers.
His gaze sought Carmen and the sides of his mouth turned up in a warm smile.
Carmen met his gaze for a moment - long enough to reunite, and then they both turned back to the others.
Carmen glanced at her in surprise.
"Carmen," Señor Medena said.
Carmen refrained from looking at Alex or displaying the shock she felt at the introduction of two more siblings he had never mentioned - an entire family.
Like her father, the dark eyes that examined Carmen revealed little emotion.
Carmen held out a hand.
"Let me show you to your rooms," Felipa said, taking Carmen by the arm.