Salsa with Me
“Your grandmother was injured doing the salsa?”
Marisol Acevedo felt herself flush as the emergency room
nurse stared at her in obvious disbelief. Even to her own
ears it sounded kind of crazy. A 70 year old grandmother
attempting to learn the salsa? And being stepped on by a
seventeen year old grandson?
“Yes,” she began, but her cousin Jose interrupted.
“It was my fault. I wasn’t being careful enough and I
stepped on her foot.” He shot their grandma a contrite look.
“It’s not your fault,” Grandma Margarita said staunchly as
she sat on the emergency room bed.
“We think her toe might be broken,” Marisol told the nurse.
“I was trying to teach her to salsa—“
“For Yolanda’s wedding,” Grandma rushed on.
“Uh…well...” The nurse made a note on the paper attached to
her clipboard. “Dr. Lares will be here in a moment to see
you.” She escaped from the small examining room as if she
was anxious to get away from a these loco people.
Marisol sent her cousin and grandmother a grin. “She thinks
we’re crazy. It does sound kind of funny, doesn’t it?” She
could just see the headlines: “70 Year Old Grandmother
Injured While Performing Salsa Moves.”
Something was nagging at her memory, though. Something about
the doctor’s name—where had she heard it before? She thought
about it, breathing in the medicinal smell of the hospital.
“Dr. Lares,” murmured Grandma, “a nice name…”
“Dr. Alejandro Lares?” Hearing the surprise in her cousin’s
voice, Marisol pivoted to look at him. He snapped his
cellphone shut and came forward. “I still can’t reach your
mother and father,” he said. “Or mine.”
Marisol sighed. “They must have turned off the cell phones
again. Mama doesn’t like it when they’re visiting friends
and the phone is always ringing. And Papa usually forgets
his anyway.” Curious, she went back to her cousin’s
question. “Do you know the doctor?”
“Everyone’s heard of Alejandro Lares,” Jose stated with
typical teenage assurance. “They still talk about him at
school, even though he graduated a long time ago.”
Then the name clicked in, and Marisol remembered why it
sounded so familiar. “Not that long ago,” she said dryly.
“Maybe five or six years before me? And yes, I heard stories
about him too.” About the kid who read the encyclopedia for
fun, when he’d finished his work way ahead of his
classmates. About Alejandro being the first Hispanic student
from their high school to be class valedictorian…and the
only one to go to an Ivy League school. About his
scholarships, his success on the soccer team, his getting
into a good medical school…the list went on and on.
She hadn’t known he’d come back to the Dover area once he’d
become a physician.
“He was on the soccer team—“ Marisol began, knowing how much
her cousin loved soccer, when the curtain to the examining
room was pushed aside and in walked the doctor.
The tag proclaimed him to be Dr. Alex Lares.
He might not be the standard “tall,” but the expression
“dark and handsome” certainly fit. Dr. Lares was medium
height, with thick, night-black hair and a classically
handsome face. Straight nose, nice cheekbones, eyes that
were a deep brown. His dark skin was smooth, and his
handsome features wore an expression that was all business.
“Mrs. Soto?” he asked, moving over to grandma.
Marisol realized with a start that she must be staring at
him. She quickly moved closer to her grandmother, turning to
Her grandmother was staring at him, too.
After a glance at the chart in his hand, he said “tell me
what happened,” in a soothing tone.
Grandma began in English, “I was learning the salsa with my
grandson Jose, and it was my fault, I got in the way—“
The doctor’s eyebrows shot up.
“No, Mamita,” Jose interrupted, calling her by the
affectionate term they used. “It was my fault, I stepped on
“No, no, it was my fault—“ Grandma overrode his voice. “And
it hurts a little—“
“—a lot—“ Jose said.
“We think her toe may be broken,” Marisol finished.
Dr. Lares turned and looked at her.
Their eyes met, and she felt a spark race down to her toes.
Then he turned back to grandma. His tone was kind as he
said, “tell me if this hurts.”
He prodded her toe, and grandma’s wincing was proof enough.
“It is not so very bad,” she added hastily, in Spanish.
“It may be broken, or perhaps it is a bad sprain,” he told
her in Spanish too, his accent different than theirs and his
wording more formal. He turned to look at Marisol again. “We
will need to take an x-ray.”
Marisol nodded, concern for her grandmother overriding the
instant attraction she felt towards the handsome doctor.
What a time to be feeling something like this!
“I’ll have someone here to take you to x-ray in a few
minutes,” he told Mamita. “Fortunately, we are not busy
tonight, so we’ll get you right in.”
He disappeared, and Marisol stared at the spot where he’d
stood moments ago.
Dr. Alejandro Lares was incredibly good-looking.
But she shouldn’t be thinking that now!
“He is handsome, si?” Grandma said in Spanish, echoing
“Si,” she replied automatically, then turned to look at her
“And not married either,” her grandmother said, winking. “I
checked. He wore no wedding ring.”
“That doesn’t always mean—“ Marisol stopped. She didn’t want
her grandmother getting any ideas. After tonight, the
good-looking doctor would be out of their lives. Did it
matter that she felt a compelling attraction to the man?
Moments later, an assistant parted the curtains, and with a
smile, he told them he was here to take grandma to x-ray.
While they waited, Jose went to the lobby to try Marisol’s
parents on his cell phone again, hoping to get better
reception. And Marisol was left to worry about her
grandmother and to try to push away any romantic thoughts of
the handsome doctor.
She glanced at her watch. Her young cousin Christina should
be home from her friend’s house across the street any
minute. She could call Christina and ask her to try and
track down her parents. Christina was living with them for
the rest of the school year and the next. Her dad had taken
a job down in Florida and she wanted to stay up here in New
Jersey to finish school, so it had been decided that she
would stay at Marisol’s family’s home.
Or maybe Jose would get hold of his parents, who lived
around the corner from Marisol’s, if he couldn’t reach her
mom and dad.
Marisol noticed she wasn’t getting reception in this room,
and decided to tell Jose to call Christina when he returned.
In the meantime she didn’t want to leave the room, because
she was hoping grandma would come back soon.
She was surprised and pleased when her grandmother was
wheeled in a few minutes later, her face still looking calm,
although Marisol knew she was in pain.
Jose returned. “I just got hold of them. They’re on their
Relief rushed through her. She might be 26 years old, but it
was still nice to have parents to lean on.
The curtains parted and Dr. Lares came in again.
“I have good news,” he said in a cheerful voice. “Senora,
you have a bad sprain, but your toe is not broken.”
Marisol felt another heady wave of relief.
“Just a sprain?” she asked, wanting to make sure she had
“Yes.” The handsome doctor turned towards her. “But a sprain
can sometimes be even more painful than a broken bone. I’m
going to give your grandmother some painkillers, for her to
take when she needs them.” He turned back towards Grandma
Margarita. “These could make you sleepy, so don’t drive if
you’re taking them, or do too much. Or,” he added dryly,
with a glance at Marisol and Jose, “don’t attempt the Salsa
while under the influence of these pills.”
Grandma grinned. “I won’t, doctor.”
Marisol found herself smiling too. “We’ll make sure she
doesn’t, but I’m afraid it was my fault. I was trying to
teach her so she could salsa at cousin Yolanda’s wedding--“
“No, it’s not your fault, I asked for a lesson,” grandma
interrupted. “Everyone’s learning for the wedding.” She shot
the doctor a glance that Marisol thought looked almost
flirtatious. “My granddaughter Marisol—“ she indicated
her—“is one of the teachers at ‘Bailemos!’ And she agreed to
“Assistant teacher,” Marisol corrected her hastily. “I just
help with an introductory class,” she told Dr. Lares.
The doctor raised his eyebrows. “That’s funny,” he said. “I
signed up for a Tuesday class at ‘Bailemos!’ that starts
Marisol felt her pulse speed up.
“My cousin Pablo is getting married in August and I’m the
best man. He insisted I needed to take this class with him
and his fiancÚ so I could dance at their wedding,” Dr. Lares
Marisol couldn’t help the spurt of excitement that was
shooting through her. Dr. Lares would be in the class that
she helped teach!
Grandma was practically beaming now. “Tuesday is when
Marisol teaches,” she told the doctor.
“It is?” He turned to regard her again. Marisol wished she
could decipher his expression. He seemed surprised—and
possibly, she thought, glad? Or was that her overly active
“I’m only an assistant teacher,” she said hastily. “My
‘real’ job is, I’m a children’s librarian.”
“Ahh.” She wondered what that meant. He turned to grandma.
“Of course, I never realized the Salsa was so dangerous,” he