Roni Rondell was radiant as she received her guests. She did her best to keep the long line
moving. A quick handshake, a peck on the cheek, a smile for the camera and she was ready for
the next people in line.
Guillermo "Billy" Stevens greeted Roni, who hugged him as she kissed his cheek.
"Roni," he said, "this is Kyle Kincaid. From Houston. It's her first visit to Acapulco."
The group of children alongside Roni recognized Billy and excitedly broke ranks. They
swarmed around Billy.
"Seor Billy! Seor Billy!"
A small girl wrapped herself around Billy's leg. Her face reached his kneecap. She looked up
at him with a happy smile.
Billy bent down, loosened the girl's grip on his leg and picked her up.
"Rosita," he said, "You have to stay in line like a good little girl."
Billy did his best to restore order. He said to the children, "You have to keep your places in
the receiving line. And sing very pretty when Seora Roni tells you to."
He kissed Rosita on the cheek and said, "I'll see you later, Rosita."
"When, Seor Billy? Tomorrow?"
"Not tomorrow, Rosita. But soon."
"Could we go swimming again?"
"Sure," Billy said. "As long as you're a good girl."
He took Kyle Kincaid by the arm and escorted her into the party. There were hundreds of
people already there. Kyle said, "Who were all those children?"
"They're from Padre White's orphanage. The proceeds from this party go to them. Roni does
it every year."
"They're really going to sing?"
"Oh, yes," said Billy. "They're quite good, too."
Sylvester Stallone came to them.
"Billy, you son of a gun! Good to see you again."
He shook Billy's hand and gave him a big abrazo, a Mexican hug.
Billy introduced Kyle and said, "I didn't know you were in town."
"Just got in this afternoon," said Stallone. "for a couple of days of rest. But I had promised
Roni I'd attend her big bash. That's why I'm here."
Stallone was gobbled up by a swarm of admirers. Billy led Kyle toward a corner of the huge
terrace. In a few short minutes Billy was greeted by dozens of people.
"I see what Don Martin meant," said Kyle.
"What's that?" said Billy.
"He said you knew everybody in Acapulco."
A waiter passed with a tray of glasses filled with champagne. Billy started to take two
"I'd rather have a soda," Kyle said. "Or a glass of mineral water, please."
"Sure," said Billy. "Wait right here."
She watched him cross the garden. He shook hands as he went. People clapped him on the
back. He returned with her drink.
"Salud," he said. "And welcome again to Acapulco."
"Salud," she said. "It's very nice to be here."
A woman with a long cigarette holder said, "Billy, love. How nice to see you again."
Billy pecked her cheek. "Countess, this is Kyle Kincaid. Kyle, this is Countess Irena di
"Kyle, my dear," said the Countess. "What a lovely shade of red." She was looking at Kyle's
"Thank you," said Kyle.
They smiled at each other. Kyle said, "I can't help but admire your necklace, Countess. It's
"Oh, this," said the Countess with a wave of her hand. "It's just something I picked up in the
She waved her hand again and hit a tray of drinks being carried by a waiter. The tray tipped,
spilling drinks and glasses onto the marble floor.
The Countess exploded. "God dammit! God dammit!"
Billy took her gently by the arm. "No harm done, Countess. It was just a little accident."
He had defused her.
Billy knelt to help the frightened waiter.
"Don't worry, Fernando," he said. "It wasn't your fault. It was just an accident. Take the tray
and the glasses back to the bar and bring a rag. No problem, Fernando. Go on."
During the next half hour, Billy introduced Kyle to no less than thirty people.
Kyle said, "Where do you know all these people from?"
Billy smiled. "Everybody comes to Acapulco."
"How did you meet Sylvester Stallone?"
"He shot a Rambo movie here. I supplied a lot of the props."
"From your store?"
"Yes. Casa Stevens rents out lots of things."
Matt McCoy approached them. "You two are becoming an item. This is the third party in a
Kyle smiled. "Fourth," she said. "But who's counting?"
Billy checked his watch. "The real fun will start soon," he said.
"Oh?" said Kyle.
"It's planned for the stroke of midnight. Let me get you another drink. Matt?"
"I'm fine, Billy. Thanks."
Billy said, "I'll be back in a few minutes."
They watched as Billy threaded his way carefully through the crowd and disappeared among