|FRIDAY NIGHT CHICASPublisher: St. Martin’s Press
Genre: Women’s Fiction
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Whether they’re flirting en espanol, gossiping over mojitos, or dancing with their latest papi chulos, these characters prove that there is nothing quite like a night out with your chicas. Set in New York City, Miami’s South Beach, downtown Chicago, and L.A., these four flirty novellas explore dating, marriage, friendship, and sex, through the eyes of four different Latina women. Mary Castillo’s Friday Night in L.A.: Isela isn’t looking for a one night stand; she’s desperate for one last shot at saving her career. Her ticket is Hollywood’s director du jour Tyler Banks but one major mistake could cost her everything.Caridad Pineiro’s Friday Night in South Beach: It’s Tori’s thirtieth birthday and all she wants is a nice quiet night with her family and friends. However, Tori’s friends have other plans and during an overnight casino cruise, Tori finds herself taking the gamble of her life!Berta Platas’s Friday Night in Chicago: The once shy Cali has decided to attend her high school reunion. She slips into her slinkiest Donna Karan and puts on her highest Manolos. After all, she’s out to seek revenge, Latina-style. . . Sofia Quintero’s Friday Night in New York City: Gladys’s friends throw her a bachelorette party at one of NYC’s raunchiest male strip joints. They expected a party, but they didn’t expect the not-so-blushing bride to disappear with one of the strippers!
- BOOKLIST: “Following in the footsteps of such compilations as Living Large (2003), a set of four stories about African American women by four authors, Friday Night Chicas presents four novellas about four memorable Friday nights by four up-and-coming Latina authors. . . Caridad Pineiro takes readers to Miami’s South Beach, where a group of gal pals help their best friend celebrate her thirtieth birthday. . . All four writers spice up their stories with sexy scenes, but at the core of each story is a strong female bond. The successful, smart, and alluring women will hook readers, and the abbreviated format will have them wanting more. Hopefully, these authors will oblige.”
- LATINA Magazine: “In this Sex and the City-meets-chica lit collection, the authors offer you a seat at the coffee shop table for a glimpse into the lives of know-it-all Latinas.”
- Romantic Times Magazine: “A delicious recipe of flavorful characters and humorous dialogue mixed with comical action makes Friday Night Chicas worth reading … Tori, Isela, Cali, and Gladys prove that life is all about taking risks. Each story is unique, well-structured, and these Latina women exemplify poise, success and intelligence, a knockout combination.”
- TEMPO New York Post: “Discover how four super-Latinas encounter the dilemmas associated with dating, marriage, friendship and premarital sex as each tells her version of living la vida loca. Readers will have no problem enjoying these vicarious stories written by four writers . . . Could it be because these chicas take risks or possibly because they remind you of someone you know?
- DAILY NEBRASKAN: “This . . . has a twist at the end and . . . discusses the difficulty of being taken seriously as a Latina in the business world. Piñeiro’s narrative is quirky and funny and keeps the reader’s interest throughout. . . Each novella includes intelligent humor and plot twists that guarantee to please.”
Gravity and her breasts were still friends.
Victoria Rodriguez — Tori to her friends — stood before the mirror and took a long hard look at herself. Breasts. No sag. Downright perky. Had she just used the “p” word? Even as she told herself she was letting this whole birthday thing get out of hand, Tori turned to the side and perused her butt. No droop. No excess junk in the trunk, like J-Lo.
Tori released a breath she’d been holding and panicked for a moment. Was that a little belly that popped out? She sucked her breath back in then released it. Good news — still flat in the one place where it was good to be flat.
Get with it, girl! she chastised herself. What had she expected this morning — a total body meltdown? It was just another day. The sun was shining. Birds were singing. And nothing special was going to happen today.
Of course, poor Marie Antoinette had probably felt the same way on the day she uttered her infamous cake quote and turned her entire world — not to mention most of France — topsy turvy.
Tori swore there would be no topsy turvyness today, but she definitely planned on eating cake. After all, it was her birthday. Her thirtieth birthday. The Big Three-O. And the eating cake part would hopefully be free of any dire consequences. Other than maybe adding an extra ten minutes on her jog this morning.
But her friends had something else planned as well, Tori reminded herself as she walked away from the mirror and dressed in her running clothes.
Slipping on her jogging bra — best friend to perky breasts everywhere — then an over-sized ‘Canes T-shirt and fleece shorts, Tori considered her friends’ super secret plan for her birthday night.
She wasn’t supposed to know about the overnight excursion, but Tori had accidentally overheard Adriana confirming the reservations on the casino yacht when she had gone by Adriana’s restaurant to drop off some papers for a business loan. Tori had been tempted to put a stop to the plan right then and there, only it would have reinforced her friends’ belief that Tori was Ms. Uber Anal and unable to deal with a little spice in her life. And the last thing Tori wanted was to add any grist to her amigas’ mill. They managed to find enough on their own.
With a last little tug on the laces of her Nikes, Tori headed out of her apartment in what had formerly been a tourist hotel on Collins Avenue. The walls of the smallish rooms had been gutted to make more modern-sized dwellings, but a lot of the Art Deco touches had been preserved during the conversion. Those slightly garish highlights were more visible in the lobby and on the front of the hotel which still bore its former name in glaring pink neon.
A stiff sea breeze blew in off the Atlantic as Tori reached Ocean Drive, jogged across the street and toward the winding path that ran from one end of Lummus Park to the other.
The gusts pushed at her back as if to rush her along, but Tori didn’t want to rush. Not today. She wanted to enjoy this small stretch of solitude on her birthday morning. Few people were out, and what little noise there was came from the occasional screech of a gull or the rustle of the breeze-blown palms.
The headphones of her CD player were draped around her neck, but the CD of the tunes she used to pace herself wasn’t playing. She didn’t want to let the music intrude this morning.
She flew along, ponytail bouncing with the rhythm of her jog. Her pace as deliberate as she was. In no time she had reached the end of the path, but she continued down along Ocean Drive to where Adriana would be waiting for her in front of her pricey condo facing Fisher Island and SouthPointe Park.
From a block away Tori could see her friend, doing some preliminary stretching and bending. Adriana caught sight of her, waved and jogged to meet Tori.
“Buenos dias and of course, feliz cumpleaño,” Adriana said with a bright smile as Tori slowed her pace. At 5’2″, Adriana was a few inches shorter and it was hard for her to keep up with Tori’s longer legged stride. And being noticeably ample in a key area, more uncomfortable from the related bounce factor.
As their steps fell into sync, Adriana and Tori jogged back toward the main Ocean Drive strip and Lummus Park.
“How was last night?” Tori asked much as she did every other day except Tuesdays since on Mondays Adriana’s restaurant was closed.
In between uneven breaths, Adriana answered, “Busy . . . Thursdays are almost as . . . . crazy as Fridays . . . Lots of turistas.”
“The snowbirds savoring the South Beach sizzle,” Tori quipped, her breathing still as regular as when she had left the apartment.
A street cleaning machine approached just as Adriana began her reply. Its brushes whirred against the asphalt, picking up the debris of a South Beach night of merriment; obliterating Adriana’s words.
As the streetsweeper edged away, Tori shot a questioning glance at her friend. “What did you say?”
“I said that you should try some of that night life yourself.” It came out a little too loud and a little too harsh.
Tori gave an exasperated sigh. She and her amigas had been over this time and time again. Emphasizing the point with her hands as she ran, she said, “See the dictionary. Under the word ‘wild.’ Notice there is no picture of Victoria Rodriguez.”
“See the dictionary. Under the word ‘boring.’ Way boring,” Adriana said with a roll of her eyes.
“Sí. That’s me. Boring. Responsible. Connect the dots to successful.”
Adriana stopped dead in her tracks, hands braced on her hips. “Hello! Successful, too, only I have a life.”
Tori braked to a halt, turned and faced her friend. Adriana’s success was blatantly advertised by the tony FILA jogging clothes, the sparkling diamond tennis bracelet on her wrist that matched the large studs in her ears and the perfectly French manicured nails of the hands that were angrily tapping against her hips.
Tori didn’t want to get into it. Today was her birthday, and the last thing she wanted was to fight with her best friend. “Ño, my bad. I didn’t mean to imply that you aren’t.”
Adriana arched a perfectly waxed eyebrow and gave a regal nod of her head. “Apology accepted. But I want you to remember, especially tonight, that we’re supposed to have fun.”
“Right. Fun. Mucho fun.” Tori whirled and began to jog again. Adriana fell into step beside her once more.
As Tori received an exceptionally detailed run down of what they were going to do for dinner that night, seemingly to divert her from learning the real truth, Tori considered that her friends’ idea of mucho fun for tonight boded for mucho major disaster.
She imagined that her amigas would spend the bulk of the night trying to get her to be spontaneous as if spontaneous could somehow be planned. Maybe they would even get on their second favorite topic — Tori’s lack of a relationship and start pushing her to meet some guy on the boat. And miles out to sea, there would be little Tori could do to escape, except head to the gaming tables. Or pray that the boat sank.
She was sure that even if the latter were to happen, her friends would continue with their plan, certain that there would some eligible man on the Coast Guard ship sent to rescue them.
Funny thing was, none of them were “involved.” Adriana had her thing with Riley which had gone nowhere since grade school. Sylvia had a parade of handsome model types escorting her. Tori suspected it was a solely a business kind of arrangement — Sylvia wanted to look good and the wannabes needed access to the hottest events in town in the hopes of being discovered. Juliana . . . No, Juliana hadn’t mentioned a man in like forever.
So none of them really had “relationships.” But of course if Tori raised that, they’d say she was getting all lawyerly on them, trying to justify the rut that was her life.
So absent the boat sinking, it would definitely be the gaming tables tonight. Tori wasn’t normally a gambler — the idea of losing money just for the fun of it ran contrary to everything in which she believed. But she liked card games and was good at them thanks to an almost photographic memory and innate sense of mathematical probabilities. So at least there was that — a possible diversion to keep her well-meaning friends from driving her crazy all night long.
“Did you hear what I said?” Adriana pressed as they reached the end of the path, turned and headed back in the direction of SouthPointe.
Tori stumbled and fell off her pace, embarrassed that she had zoned out so badly. Recovering, she said, “Sorry, I didn’t. I was thinking about . . . stuff.”
Adriana blew out a harsh breath, sending an errant lock of dark brown hair flying, and shook her head. “Probably about work, right? It’s always about el trabajo with you.”
“Right. Work,” Tori lied.
“You know, amiga. I thought you were wiggy about work before becoming partner. I’d hoped it be a little different now.”
Great! Third favorite amigas’ topic of complaint. But maybe if she coupled it with talk about a man . . . “It will be, Adriana. I was just thinking about this other partner. The new man in the office, sabes.”
“The one you haven’t met?” Adriana motioned with her hand for Tori to stop and when she did, Adriana bent over and took a few deep breaths. When she rose, she said, “Sorry, I had a stitch. Don’t you ever get them?”
Yes she did, but she wouldn’t stop for one, she thought, but didn’t say it since it would be bitchy. “Sometimes when I first start out, but you always meet me after I’m warmed up.”
Adriana nodded and took a deeper breath. “Glad to know you’re human,” she said and started to jog.
Openmouthed, Tori stared after her friend’s retreating back for a moment before chasing after her friend. She told herself not to let Adriana’s comment bother her. Adriana could be curt and insensitive at times. She was just being Adriana.
For a moment Tori wondered why it was okay for Adriana to be herself when she couldn’t just be Tori. “I’m a little tired of all the Tori-bashing.”
Adriana didn’t miss a beat. Didn’t flinch or react. “Who’s bashing?”
“All of you. All the time,” she replied and stopped. Again. Which was so totally going to blow her time for today’s run.
Adriana turned, but kept jogging in place. “Come on, Tori. I know how important it is for you to keep the pace.” She moved down the path and Tori reluctantly followed.
“Adriana — ”
“Bien. So maybe we get a little carried away. But we mean well. We’re concerned about you,” Adriana began, took a deep breath and kept on going. “It’s what friends do. Worry about each other. Plan birthday dinners. Even tell their best friends everything, from the nittiest grittiest details of the latest blow-up with the boyfriend to the wild make-up sex after the fight. Verdad?”
“Right,” Tori agreed only it had been a long time since she had had anything to contribute in the tell-all department. No Mr. Right or Wrong or even Mr. Maybe. Just no time for it.
Ño! She stumbled again before picking up her steady pace once more.
Silently Tori admitted that maybe her friends, as annoying as they were at times, were a little right. Maybe she should listen to them, just this once. After all, who knew her better than her best friends? For fifteen years they’d been there for her and if they thought this big birthday event was what Tori needed to add a little excitement to her life, maybe they were right.
It was time for Tori to shake up her vida not so loca.
Tonight on her big Three-O night.
If the mood was right.
And the cards were running her way.
And the boat didn’t sink.
“Listen, Adriana. I promise that tonight I will be All-Fun Tori. No matter what happens — ”
“De verdad? You mean that? No matter what we plan?” Adriana questioned, clearly surprised about Tori’s sudden and clearly unexpected capitulation.
“Sí. I mean it. Whatever.”
They had reached Adriana’s SouthPointe condo again where they came to a stop for a moment. Adriana reached over and gave Tori a sweaty hug. “Gracias. I promise that you won’t regret it.”
Tori returned Adriana’s embrace and forced a smile. Despite her friend’s assertion, a slight trace of fear remained about their plans for the upcoming night. But she said nothing. Merely nodded, gave a little wave and turned to start the return jog back toward her place.
She had gone no more than a few steps when Adriana called out, “And por favor. No Talbots or Brooks Brothers, tonight!”
Tori gritted her teeth and shook her head, trying to ignore Adriana’s well-meaning but nevertheless bothersome parting words. After all, there was nothing wrong with Talbots, was there? And her friends couldn’t possibly expect her to fluff her hair, totter around on three inch heels and become some kind of brainless Barbie doll, could they?
A seagull swooped by, it’s screech sounding suspiciously like laughter.
Tori gritted her teeth and ran on.