Jayme’s mind began to drift. Maybe I’ll skip desert and coffee, and just review my tapes, she thought. The idea brightened than faded as she caught the end of the conversation that had continued around her.
“…. and The Reef Roamer said it was a really fabulous place to visit. Boy, was she right! We’ve never had so much fun!” Marge was explaining to Bruce.
“The Reef Roamer?” Jayme questioned innocently.
“You’ve never heard of The Reef Roamer travel tapes?” Jim questioned.
“Oh, sure! I just didn’t realize the tapes were in circulation way up in Alaska. I mean,” she stumbled, “I’ve only seen them in dive shops.” Well, a small lie wouldn’t hurt.
“Our travel agent swears by them,” Marge continued. “There’s some big speculation going on that The Reef Roamer is really a guy and he just has his girlfriend or an actress do the narration because a female sounds better,” she added in a conspirator tone with a twinkle in her soft brown eyes. Jayme liked this woman, and she seemed to have a touch of adventure about her, even at her advancing years, which Jayme guessed to be about seventy.
“Interesting,” Jayme replied thoughtfully. “What do you think, Marge, is The Reef Roamer a man or a woman?”
“oh, it’s a woman alright. No doubt about it in my mind. No doubt at all!”
“What makes you so sure, Marge?”
“Have you seen her tapes? The one on Cozumel in particular?”
“As a matter of fact, I have. I’ve seen quite a few of The Reef Roamer tapes.” Jayme knew she may be venturing too much, but it seemed to not matter at this point. Her curiosity was piqued.
“Well, did you notice the way she filmed the children during Mardi Gras? It was obvious she was fascinated by them and had a real feel for family, and what they felt for their children. I’d say that if the Reef Roamer wasn’t a mother herself, she wants to be. A man just can’t capture that essence. Do you know what I mean?”
“Yes, I see your point.” Jayme leaned back in her chair, now fascinated with this woman’s account of… her.
“Not only does she handle children with such care, there are other things that only another woman would notice,” Marge continued, a smile creeping into her voice.
“Such as?” but Marge needed no prompting as she kept on going as though she hadn’t heard Jayme.
“There is a finesse, a lady-like finesse, about the tapes and what you see. The shopping, the capturing of colors. And have you ever noticed the way some of the men smile at the camera? They aren’t smiling that way for another man, that’s for sure!” At this Jayme had to laugh. It came out rich and throaty, soothing and deep.
“I can see The Roamer has a fan in you, Marge! Where do you think she ought to go next?” Jayme challenged.
“I’d like to see her go back to Aruba,” Marge was so quick with her answer, it surprised Jayme.
“Why? Didn’t you like the Aruba tape?”
“Oh, it was very nice, but you could tell… I could tell, that it was her first adventure. The others have been much better, even when she wasn’t enjoying herself. Aruba should be re-visited, and she should find a boyfriend to take with her. The Reef Roamer is lonely,” Jayme was taken back by this woman’s perceptiveness. Did her loneliness really show on the tapes?!
“Why don’t you write to her, then, and tell her? Maybe she travels only to places her fans want her to go. And even if she won’t go back to Aruba, I’m sure she’d love to hear from you,” Jayme tried to keep some of the tenderness she felt out of her voice, but it was very difficult. “Have you ever tried diving, Jim?” she shifted her attention. But before he could answer, they were interrupted.
“Say, let’s dance,” Bruce slurred, as he reached for Jayme’s hand. He’d been pestering her all day and now she’d had just about enough of this guy.
“No, thank you,” she managed in a very steely voice, quickly giving her wrist a flick and reversing the hold. She slipped her thumb across his, pushing his backward in an unnatural position and moving their now joined hands just below the edge of the table so the Thomas’ couldn’t see what was happening. Bruce’s eyes widened, the pain was at a highly uncomfortable level. “But I would like some fresh air, wouldn’t you?” She stood, exerting a tiny bit more pressure on Bruce’s thumb to assure his compliance. He stood, sucking in air. Jayme leaned over the table toward the startled couple, “I’ll be back in less than five minutes. Stay, please,” and she guided a gasping Bruce to the nearest French door leading outside.
Jayme could feel the warmth of the cooling sand through her thin sandals. The bright moonlight guided her way from the noise and people behind them. She could smell the coolness of the salt water as the ever present breeze caressed her face. Under other circumstances, she would have relished the warm darkness, but Jayme hated situations like this and tried hard to keep them from getting out of hand. Guys like Bruce the Bore just wouldn’t or couldn’t take a hint. Jayme had found it best to confront them in private, where their flimsy male egos wouldn’t get bruised by an audience. It made them more cooperative, or more wary, the next time. If she could be sure she’d never see Bruce again, she wouldn’t care, but there was no guarantee on an island this small, and she’d be in the area for another two weeks. Word travels fast. Jayme couldn’t risk attention.
“Let go of me!” Bruce hissed between clenched teeth, as Jayme twisted her grip, sending him to his knees.
“Not until we understand each other,” she paused, making sure she had his undivided attention. “I don’t like you, Bruce, and I don’t want you to ever touch me again. If you do, next time I’ll break it,” she tweaked the pressure on his wrist and he moaned. “You’re an arrogant, pompous, rude and obnoxious jerk! So just stay away from me. Am I clear enough, now?”
“Yeah, yeah, just let go,” he looked up at her when she didn’t release him and added, “Please.” She dropped his hand, which he immediately cradled and began to massage.
“I hate sloppy drunks. Go back to your room and sleep it off. And you’d better put some ice on your hand tonight, it’s going to be pretty sore tomorrow.” Jayme stepped away from him, holding his eyes with her own icy green ones, her demeanor cold and hard. When she was sure he wouldn’t try anything stupid, she turned her back to him and disappeared into the restaurant.
Jayme eased herself back into her chair, and smiled, “Now, where were we?”
“Where’s that young man?” Marge asked hesitantly.
“I think he realized he’s had a bit much to drink and decided to go back to his room and sleep it off,” Jayme replied with a dazzling smile. “Have you ever been diving, Jim? I noticed you two were only snorkeling this afternoon.”
“No, we haven’t,” Marge interjected. “I’ve been trying to get him to try ever since we saw The Reef Roamer in Bon Aire, but I haven’t been too successful. Have you been diving long, Jayme?”
“Yes, I’ve been diving for years,” Jayme swallowed hard, then went on. “My husband died in a diving accident five years ago, but that didn’t change my love for the sport.” She looked the two of them over, assessing all the information she had so far learned about them. “There’s a dive experience called a Resort Dive, I think you’d like.” From there the evening was spent discussing the resort dive procedure, and all the pleasures to be seen under the water. When the talk shifted to each other, Jayme managed to dodge most of the question’s regarding her career, but was free with her personal life background. Some of the things she learned about the Thomas’ distressed her deeply and she frantically set her mind to right some of the harsh blows life had dealt them.
Dr. Mark Steele entered the restaurant late in the evening. He knew Anna would be serving her version of Key Lime Pie for dessert. Since it was one of his favorites, he made sure he was on hand every time it was on the menu, though he knew she would save him a slice if he was detained. Sitting by himself at a secluded table for two, sipping at his coffee, Mark watched with growing interest the unfolding drama at the table of the green eyed woman. Anyone with body language savvy could clearly tell she was highly annoyed with a certain table guest. No wonder, Mark thought, the guy was drunk, and a drunk rarely turned any woman on, much less a classy lady like Green-eyes. How he knew she was classy was instinct, and he relied heavily on instinct.
If he hadn’t been watching intently, Mark would have missed the move, it was that quick. The guy had grabbed her hand, but in a smooth and agile move, Green-eyes had him in a thumb-lock, their hands below the edge of the table, out of sight. Shortly, they walked out the patio doors into the night. It may have looked like they were holding hands, but Mark knew better. This lady is getting more and more interesting, he thought.
Mark had seen that move many times during his stint in Nam. He’d been assigned as a medic to the brig, to patch up the men who had had too much R&R. Too many times he had seen the MP’s bring disorderly soldiers in, either drunk or high or both, using the thumb-lock, a very easy and painful way to control trouble.
As he pondered this, Mark suddenly saw Green-eyes return, alone. She sat down, picked up her drink and continued as if nothing had happened.
‘So,’ Mark thought, ‘she got rid of him quietly, and without a scene. By why? Why by herself, even if she was capable, which it certainly seemed she was! Why take that kind of risk? It didn’t make sense. Unless, ‘ his mind raced, ‘unless she has something to hide, some reason to not draw attention to herself.’ The thought played and replayed in his mind all evening, and then all the way back to his home on the other end of the island.
Jayme locked her doors behind her. She’d always been a cautious person, but tonight it seemed extra prudent to double check the doors and windows. Although she was ninety-nine percent certain that she’d seen the last of Bruce the Bore, there was still that one percent chance he’d try something stupid. Incidents like this, though few and far between, thank goodness, unnerved her greatly. Jayme didn’t like the personae she had to don – it just wasn’t her, and she didn’t like doing it. She was really a kind and gentle person and hurting anyone went against her very nature. Right now, she felt unclean. Jayme quickly stripped off her brightly flowered sundress, leaving it in a heap on the floor by the closet, and headed for the shower.
As the hot water cascaded down her lithe body, soothing the tension away, Jayme ran the evening over in her mind, forgetting Bruce entirely, pleased with herself for getting the Thomas’ to consent to a resort dive.
Now, if she could only get Daniel to agree.