Chapter 5 – Part 1

“But, Daniel, you train people for resort dives all the time, don’t you?” Jayme was dismayed and confused at his reluctance.

“Yes, but not usually people as old as these two, Jayme. It’s one thing for someone to continue diving after they’ve reached sixty and beyond, but to start at that age is another story. He might be okay, but she’s not too healthy looking, if you get my drift,” Daniel argued, remembering Mare Thomas’ pale coloring and gaunt look, and most memorable, the way her fragile hands shook.

Jayme had sought Daniel out by 7:00am with her request on the Thomas’ behalf. Daniel was a good diver, a very good diver, and she trusted him. But she also had other observations about him besides trust that she might have to use, and now seemed to be the time. Although his skin was as honey gold as his curly hair, and his eyes icy blue, he was as native as one could be, born on the islands. And he had island pride.

“I know, Daniel, but Marge has been through a lot this past year. A lot of Chemo and radiation therapy.” Jayme let her words soak in a moment, then continued. “She’s dying, Daniel. The cancer is in remission right now and she’s as healthy as she’ll ever be. One of her dreams has been to dive, just once, Daniel. Marge is a very special person and I want to help fulfill that dream.”

“I don’t know, Jayme, the rules….”

“I’m not asking you to break any rules, just bend them a little.” Then seeming to change the subject, she went on.. “How long have you worked at this resort, Daniel?”

“Since it opened,” he gave her a quizzical look. That was the answer Jayme expected. She was a watcher, and she had seen a sense of pride in Daniel concerning the resort and his duties, which extended beyond the dive boats. She pressed on.

“How much financial interest do you have in the place?” Jayme knew it was a highly personal question, but she was counting on surprise for an honest answer. She figured he owned at least ten percent.

“Fifteen percent,” slipped out with pride. Jayme smiled sweetly while weighing her next words carefully.

“You would probably do anything – legal of course – to see the resort a success.”

He eyed her, but said nothing, for she didn’t give him the opportunity. Jayme was about to take a monumental risk, a major career risk, but she was counting on the integrity and honor she had seen in Daniel’s personality. She went on, capturing his eyes with her own.

“Listen carefully, Daniel, and keep in mind that this is strictly between you and I. Nothing, absolutely nothing must change while I’m here.” Jayme took a breath. “The Thomas’ have become very dear to me, for reasons I‘m not even sure about. But I’d like to video their entire dive experience, and present them with the tape before they go home. The final scene of that video will be a sunset,” she paused, lowering her already throaty voice, ready to tip her hand, watching for his reaction, “because the sunset in Holm Cay, there’s none like it anywhere else in the world.” Jayme finished in her best Reef Roamer voice, hoping Daniel knew the voice and what it meant.

Daniel’s blue eyes widened. “You’re….”

“… someone who wants to see the Thomas’ dive,” she cut him off. Daniel’s eyes were locked to hers. “I can also manage the same spectacular sunset shot – from Holm Cay – at the end of my next video,” Jayme knew that the closing sunset location was major advertisement for the resort chosen.

Daniel straightened his shoulders and lifted his chin defensively. “That almost sounds like blackmail, Jayme, a prime spot on a Reef Roamer video in exchange for a resort dive for a couple I find questionable.”

Jayme had been defeated. She’d lost to the integrity she’d counted on to win. “You’re right, Daniel, I’m sorry. It does sound like blackmail, and that isn’t my style.” She was staring at the sand between her toes, feeling embarrassed and dejected. She looked up and face him. “And don’t worry, Holm Cay will be given as much consideration as the other Abaco Islands I’ve been to, you’re decision will have no bearing on that. Grudges aren’t my style either. But please, keep my secret anyway, okay? If word got out I’m here, I’ll leave, and there’ll be no Abaco tape at all. That’s not a threat, Daniel, that’s just the way it has to be. I hope you understand.” Her face took on an unreadable quality to it. There was an aged, sad look in her beautiful green eyes that confused the young islander.

Daniel hesitated, weighing what she’d said. His expression changed as he made a decision. “When do you want to get started?” he asked with a boyish grin.

“9:00,” she smiled back, letting out the breath she didn’t realize she was holding. “One more thing, Daniel, do you know a dive master named Miguel?”

Jayme headed back to her room, mentally preparing a list of things to do with only an hour to do them in. She took her land camera, fitted it with a fresh tape and newly charged battery, and went back to the dock. Remembering the sight she had had of the hotel when she first arrived, Jayme felt it would make a suitable beginning the the tape for the Thomas’. She made a leisurely sweep of the beach area, then turned her attention to the resort itself.

After walking through the lobby, Jayme approached the main desk. The employees on duty recognized her, smiled and waved at the camera. After a week of her around always filming something, no one gave her a second thought anymore. ‘Interesting,’ she thought, ‘I’m going to have to remember to film first-shots during my visits, not at the beginning! Everyone comes across much friendlier to a familiar face!’ A sweep of the dining room and patio finished the inside hotel shots. Jayme zoomed the camera to close up as she recognized a certain handsome, dark haired man occupying a corner table. He was turned sideways to her and she took the opportunity to study his profile. His smooth features seemed to shift as the sunlight changed the angles of the shadows in the room. The intriguing stranger suddenly turned and saw her staring at him thru her lense. Jayme turned quickly, hoping to conceal her embarrassment, but not before she saw him smile. ‘Keep your mind on what you’re doing,’ she scolded herself.

Jayme was pleased with how quickly she was progressing with the new tape. ‘Now, on to the Thomas’ room and tell them the good news!’
Marge and Jim were delighted, of course, with Jayme’s arrangements. They were both skeptical over Daniel’s williness to take them on, considering the possible risks, and the fact that he had already turned them down once.

“Well, everyone is entitled to change their mind,” Jayme assured them, “besides, there’s really not that much risk. Our dive will be in 20-30 feet of water. If something were to go wrong, which it won’t, you can reach the surface in ten seconds. Twenty feet is not deep by dive standards, and there are beautiful things to see and experience at that depth. Also, your dive certification will be good only for this resort and this dive.”

“It seems like a lot of work for such a short duration,” Jim commented.

“Well, it is in a way. But the idea of Resort Diving is to give a person a thorough taste of what diving and dive training is like before they invest a lot of time and money into the training and equipment, only to find out they don’t like diving,” Jayme responded. Then she explained to them how she would do some ‘amateur’ video taping of their dive. “Now, before we go down to the docks where Daniel will be conducting your class, your private class I might add, I’d like to get a few shots of the two of you in your room. That way you can show the folks back home not only where you stayed but what it looked like!”

After agreeing to meet them down at the dock in half an hour, Jayme was off to find more scenic locations to fill the tape. Remembering the stretch of beach she walked her first day on the island, she quickly added beautiful panoramic scenes of abundant bougainvillea and colorful hibiscus. Oleanders and masses of wild orchids fell gracefully from the palm trees near the shore and added an exotic kaleidoscope of color to contrast the azure blue of the nearby ocean. Pleased with herself, Jayme now had to hurry to prepare of the upcoming dive.