Aldonza surveyed the hoard that had recently arrived at the inn as they slumped off their respective donkeys and burros. Some carried knapsacks, others swords and slingshots. They had a collective griminess to them; they reeked of battle, of lust, of sweat and the lucrative yet tiring smell of pure man. She clutched the heavy pails of water closer to her sides as she tried her best to remain hidden in the shadows, away from their undressing eyes and prying questions of just how much it would take for them to receive.

A particularly built muleteer, teeming with large muscles and a scraggly beard that flirted with his jaw line, noticed her; their eyes met, his olive and questioning, like prying the seal of an envelope as though careful not to tear it, and hers narrowed, assuming slits.

"What's the matter, Pedro?" A fellow muleteer asked his friend who had stopped on his way into the tavern. He asked the question as if wondering who he could beat up who would dare mess with his comrade.

"Nothing, I forgot my whip, that's all." Pedro murmured, removing his eyes from hers and shuffling towards his donkey. "I'll be in in a minute."

"Good, but hurry!" an anxious comrade half-yelled as he ran past him as if on the way to a public hanging. "I hear they have women here!"

As the last of the mule riders entered the tavern, Aldonza shuffled along, grunting quietly from the laborious water hauling. Finally setting them down by the livestock, she patted one gingerly on the head before spitting on the ground and then promptly lowering herself onto it, her legs pointing in opposite directions as she examined a fairly deep gash on her shin. She bit her lip, the pink flesh expanding under the grip of her teeth like a meat pancake. Gingerly she tore off a part of her skirt and fashioned a tourniquet of sorts.

"Women, huh?" An amused voice asked her as his shadow fell over her, encompassing her in a realm of darkness. She squinted to make out a manly silhouette. He extended a hand towards her with the same damned grin on his face, as if he was caught at church with his genitals in full view of a nun. Aldonza huffed and pushed herself up, refusing his hand and moving on to the next burro, limping from her accidental injury. "You see, what I find funny is that my friend told me there are women here—and yet—" he placed a hand on her shoulder firmly enough to stop her in her tracks. "I see no women."

Aldonza shook herself free and glared at him, her snarled curls blowing across her face. She promptly spat on the ground. "You would know the magic of women if you would treated them as such."

"Ahh, but," Pedro exclaimed, never missing a beat and following her in an almost animated way. "I was taught to treat things as they are."

Aldonza leaned toward him, her cleavage working as an asset toward the starved man. "What do you want of me, hmm?" She placed a caressing hand on his neck and felt him instinctually tighten to her touch, as if sealing himself to it.

There was suddenly a loud cry from the inn, and six or seven muleteers came bursting through the front doors. "Oiy, Pedro! Come in here, they've got food and wine and—"

"Aldonza?" The husky form of the housekeeper barreled out, hysteria in her eyes and on her face. "Aldonza, you've got to take care of these raucous—"

"You mean are guests?" Aldonza questioned sweetly. She promptly brought a hand back and smacked Pedro across the face, watching his jaw tighten along with his clench on his whip. "These men that want food, and wine, and—"

"You!" A chorus of them cried out, surrounding her.

"Oh, get off it!" Aldonza cried out with frustration. "It's all the same."