Home > Kiss Me, Catalina

Kiss Me, Catalina
Author: Priscilla Oliveras

 


Chapter One

This was huge!

Like, cue the trumpet section in her mariachi band and let out a celebratory grito.

Call her mamá to share that all the candle lighting at the Basilica had finally paid off.

Buy the bar a round of margaritas because this chica had finally done it!

Hot damn!

Satisfaction swelled in Catalina Capuleta’s chest like churro dough plopped into a pan of hot oil. Only this satisfaction was much sweeter than the cinnamon sugar sprinkled over the delectable pastry.

Her heart racing, Cat stared down at the contract George Garcia, an executive producer with Padua Records—sí, the Padua Records—had presented her with a week ago.

She had read over it countless times since then. Discussed the offer with her parents and sisters, hyperaware of a barely-there undercurrent of hesitation no one in her familia dared to mention. To be safe, she had asked Señor Porras, the aging lawyer who offered free guidance for parishioners, to review the document. The old man hadn’t found anything worrisome in the contract, and even though he’d recommended she seek out an entertainment lawyer for confirmation, she’d decided his thumbs-up would have to be good enough.

The clock was ticking here. Padua couldn’t—wouldn’t—wait for her if she took too long.

Eyes on the printed words—words that would effectively change her life—she twirled the well-known producer’s fancy pen through her fingers like a mini baton. The teen inside her, the one who’d sung her heart out into her round brush while standing on the double bed she shared with one of her sisters, screamed with excitement.

Flipping through the multiple pages, Cat pretended to scan the document riddled with legalese one last time. A stall tactic to give the teenager she’d once been, filled with dreams and raw talent, a few seconds for a celebratory, hip-shimmying cumbia before shushing her and getting back to business.

She had to keep her cool. Act like the consummate professional she prided herself on being. This was a major move. One that required her to bring her A game. All week she’d been channeling her older sister, aiming for Mariana’s calm focus instead of her own typical rash, storm-the-castle-and-pummel-the-patriarchal-system-that-had-long-ruled-the-mariachi-industry behavior.

“Is there . . . something else you’d care to discuss?” the executive producer asked. “I recognize that this is a big decision for you. Coming on tour to write new music for Patricio’s next album means leaving Mariachi Las Nubes. After having just won the Battle of the Mariachi Bands with your sisters, I’m betting you ladies are in high demand now. You pulled off quite a feat.”

Cat didn’t bother curbing her self-satisfied smirk at George’s praise. Pride for her sisters fed her confidence. The eight of them, who together comprised Mariachi Las Nubes, had worked hard, put in the long hours of rehearsal, and ultimately overcome the odds and naysayers, kicking ass on their way to being crowned the first all-female Battle of the Mariachi Bands champions.

“Gracias. You’re right. We definitely pulled off a feat,” she answered, her chin jutting at a haughty angle. “Though I never doubted we would.”

“Pfft.” The sarcastic huff came from the man lazily sprawled in the dining chair next to George.

The same man Cat was trying hard to ignore, determined not to let herself be intimidated by the internationally acclaimed mariachi singer, whose stellar career she idolized.

The same opinionated, too-sexy-for-his-or-Cat’s-own-good heartthrob she had spent a sizable chunk of the Battle rehearsals butting heads with.

“Patricio, por favor,” George grumbled under his breath.

Patricio Galán gave no indication that he heard or cared about his record producer’s plea.

Her interest piqued, Cat watched the silent interplay between the middle-aged man who occupied a place of authority within the singer’s record label and the multi-Grammy-winning megastar who also happened to be the only son of mariachi royalty.

Despite their differing personalities—one sharp-minded while gentle with encouragement, the other sharp-tongued and demanding—the two men had worked well as band mentors during Battle rehearsals. But today, and when she had met with them a week ago, here at Patricio Galán’s rental home in San Antonio, Cat sensed an undercurrent of . . . displeasure? Frustration?

It wasn’t necessarily directed at her, yet the air of discord tinted her euphoria. Had the tiny hairs on the back of her neck rising with suspicion over what might be going on behind the scenes. Most importantly, how it might somehow spill over onto her.

George cleared his throat and pointedly shifted in his seat to face Cat. Stretching forward, he splayed a hand on the table in front of the contract. “This affects everyone in Mariachi Las Nubes. Your entire familia, really. So, it’s understandable if you or they have questions. If there’s something you need clarified before signing.”

“Sí, I’d like—”

“I’d like to have this finalized sooner rather than later. Definitely before my tour kicks off after our concert here in San Antonio in two weeks.” A bored expression blanketing his angular features, Galán crossed his arms and leaned back in his chair. His broad shoulders and tall frame dwarfed the high-backed seat with intricately carved wood edges and bone-colored upholstery.

The insolent oaf didn’t even bother to apologize for interrupting her. Ha, he probably didn’t know how to apologize. More used to snapping his fingers and having his minions jump up, ready to do his bidding.

Bueno, she was not his minion.

If he hadn’t figured that out already, a reckoning was headed his way.

“Obviously, it only makes sense to have everything decided by then,” she agreed.

“At least we’re on the same—”

“But I won’t be rushed into signing something that impacts my career. No matter who’s involved.” Mimicking his arms-crossed stance, she didn’t bother hiding the challenge in her equally rude interruption. Two could play this chess game.

A sardonic brow arched. His chin tucked and he shot her that provocative “oh, you know you want this” stare that graced the cover of one of his many platinum albums.

Silencio, she ordered the fangirl swooning in her heart.

She had to approach this conversation as if they were industry peers. That meant her days of fangirling when it came to Patricio Galán were behind her.

So, too, were her days of managing her fledgling career along with gigs, promos, and musical direction for Mariachi Las Nubes. Going on tour with Galán meant her sisters would have to pick up the slack her absence created within the band. Plus, she wouldn’t be around to teach music classes at her familia’s community center on the west side. Not for the next few months anyway. Longer if things went as well as she hoped.

This contract with Padua Records and Patricio Galán put her on the fast track. The idea both intimidated and energized her.

She’d die biting her lips closed before admitting to the first emotion. And use the second as fuel in her bid to—as Beyoncé suggested—run the world.

“The last thing we want is for you to feel pressured or rushed, Cat.” George slid Patricio a side-eyed warning.

Once again, suspicion tiptoed across Cat’s shoulders in a goose bump–inducing trail.

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