Chapter 8 (Part 1)

Chapter eight

By 8:15 the next morning, Dr. Mark Steele was letting himself into the medical clinic on Marsh Harbor. Finding his way to the back offices where the old records were kept, he noticed a few changes had taken place. The exam rooms had been repainted, cheerier now, and some new equipment had been installed. In the back office, he opened a file cabinet, flipped through some files, closed the drawer and opened another.

A frown was forming across his tanned forehead when he heard footsteps in the hall. Mark looked up to see the surprised face of Dr. Sam Aubrey.

“Oh, hi, Sam. Say, where are the files on deceased kept? I can’t find them where they use to be.”

Dr. Aubrey slowly shook his head and smiled. “Hi to you too, Mark. You really startled me. I was catching up on some paperwork in my office, and suddenly I hear someone roaming around my clinic. I thought I had a rare burglar!”

“Sorry, Sam, I didn’t think anyone would be in so early. I needed to find an old file, so I just used my keys. Hope you don’t mind.”
“Of course not, Mark. You’re as entitled to these records as I am. We’ve moved the ones you’re looking for, though. Not much call for them, and they were taking up much needed space. Follow me.” The ebony skinned doctor led Mark to the small kitchen in the back of the clinic, where yet another bank of gray file cabinets stood.

“What’s the name?”

“Haller. A tourist. Shark attack five years ago.”

“Haller, Haller, “ Dr. Aubrey thought a moment. “Say, I remember that one! We don’t have many shark fatalities around here. We don’t have that many sharks, come to think of it, except sitting behind desks in the banks,” Sam chuckled at his impromptu joke. “Should be in that first file, second drawer. What’s the interest, if I might ask,” Sam poured himself a cup of coffee from the nearby pot.

“Just wanted to review the case. The widow is back, staying on Holm Cay. I ran into her a few days ago, took a deep sea fishing lure out of her arm, forty stitches,” Mark hoped he sounded casual enough, as he thumbed through the thin file.

“A lure? Ouch! Hmm, as I recall, she was very attractive!” Sam arched his eyebrows at Mark’s back.

Mark turned to him. “How could you tell back then? All I remember is that she looked like a half drowned puppy – with the most gorgeous green eyes.”

Sam laughed. “You hadn’t been in the islands long enough, Mark, to be able to see past the obvious. As I recall, she had dark hair, those gorgeous green eyes, great skin and a knockout figure. Quite young, too, I’d say in her mid to late twenties, but then, looks can be deceiving. Sound like her?”

It was Mark’s turn to raise his eyebrows in speculation, “you have quite a memory there, doctor.”

“She was a memorable woman. Want some coffee?”

“Ah, no thanks. I’ve got to get back. Delivered twins yesterday. Lana. A boy and a girl, all three were doing fine last night, but I need to check in on them. Thanks anyway.” Mark closed the file and put it back in its place, closing the drawer.

“Just remember, Mark, not only can looks be deceiving but you can’t believe everything your senses are telling you, and time has a way of blurring the edges of what has gone by. Especially when what has happened was not pleasant.” Dr. Aubrey paused, looked at Mark knowingly in the eyes. “She may not remember things happening the same way you do. Be careful.”

In the quick boat ride back to Holm Cay, Mark contemplated what he had read in the file. Donald Haller had bled to death before he had even reached Marsh Harbor, never stood a chance. He had died in Jayme’s arms. What edges could blur? From the side notes he had made at the time, Mark remembered Jayme had been covered in blood, and he had thought she had been injured too. There was also a final notation that she had had an intense reaction to the sedative he’d given her five years ago. So much for record keeping. But at least he was satisfied now. Jayme was indeed the same woman whose emerald eyes had plagued him for years and had unknowingly destroyed any personal relationships he had tried to have.

Mark docked his cruiser at his private pier, knowing it would be gassed up and ready to go the next time he needed it. Such were the perks of being the only doctor on that island, and one of the only two visiting doctors in the small chain of island. Someone always took care of his transportation, he rarely saw who came, and often it was someone different each time he did see, but it didn’t matter to him, as long as it was done.

Jayme awoke with a fluttery feeling in her stomach. Excitement? Surely going sight-seeing wasn’t causing it. No, she admitted to herself, but the prospect of spending the afternoon with Mark was definitely a possibility. She showered and dressed quickly. After massaging an extra few dabs of cream into her golden skin, she went in search of some fruit to feed the flock of butterflies that took up residence in her stomach.

Jayme made her way back to her room and by noon was settled into the lounge chair just outside her patio door. She felt lethargic yet restless. Conflicts raged was inside of her. The hot sun physically quieted her, but the undeniable fact that Mark was an hour late now, had her tied up in knots. She didn’t know if she should be angry that he was late, or worried, or just understanding because he’s a doctor that has patients that need him. Certainly a sight-seeing tour was not important, not at all. After what seemed like an endless discussion with herself, Jayme surmised that Mark had an emergency and he would be there when he got there. That’s all there was to it. But she couldn’t help but feel disappointed, and maybe just a little hurt. After chastising herself for such immature feelings, Jayme closed her eyes to the heat of the sun, preparing for a short nap.

“Are you asleep?” Mark gently touched Jayme’s shoulder, hoping not to startle her.

“Oh,” she yawned, “I guess I was! What time is it?” Jayme stretched her back as she stood.

“One o’clock. Look, Jayme, I’m really sorry I’m so late, but I had an emergency to take care of. One of the hotel guests slipped off the dock and fractured his wrist when he tried to catch himself. I should have called a message to you, but everything happened so fast. I’d rather have been here with you, honestly,” Mark looked deep into her eyes, drowning in pools of ever changing green. He drew in a quick breath, “honestly,” he repeated. He felt himself leaning closer to her, wanting to kiss her. Mark caught himself, embarrassed, shifted his gaze to her arm, and changed directions. “Ah, how does your arm feel today?”

Jayme, the consummate people watcher, took all that happened in, analyzed it, and filed it for later contemplation. She smiled, knowing he wanted to kiss her, yet didn’t, for it was too soon. Her heart thudded heavily against her rib cage, knowing she wanted that kiss, wanted it very much.

“Ever the doctor. Well, doctor, my arm is sore, as expected, but not overly so. I don’t feel any heat or unnatural tenderness, so I think I’ve escaped infection so far. Would you like to look?”

“I think that would be a good idea. I’ll redress it and then we can leave. That is, if you still want to go.” He waited for her assurances.

“Of course I want to go. The day is still young!”

Mark unwrapped the gauze from Jayme’s arm, and true to her assessment, there was no sign of infection. Pleased, he wrapped fresh gauze around and around her arm then taped it tight, his fingers lingering as he enjoyed the feel of her skin, the connection of touch. “I think it would be wise for you to wear this while we’re walking. Your arm will be under unnecessary stress with the movement,” Mark explained when he produced a sling.

“Only if you insist, Dr. Steele,” Jayme grinned, lighting up her eyes.

Their first stop was Man-O-War Cay, renown for its ship building. From large sailing schooners to small dinghies, families have been building boats on Man-O-War for more than 150 years. Jayme was fascinated with the many shops that busied themselves with repair, maintenance and storage of all types of boats. Nowhere else in Abaco, she was told, was there such a concentration of boats in such a small area. The pride of the island craftsman brought boaters from all over. Some, she discovered, had shifted their talents to carving and creating miniature ships. Jayme quickly learned, as she filmed them at their work, that they had waiting lists for their products that would keep them busy for years.

As Mark and Jayme strolled the narrow streets, stopping to peek into the many gift shops and boutiques, they chatted easily, comfortable in each others company. At one point, Mark took Jayme’s hand to guide her out of the way of a passing motor scooter. The driver turned and waved as he shouted his greeting to the familiar Dr. Steele. Jayme noted that Mark didn’t release her hand once the scooter had passed. It felt good and natural, holding hands like that. Such a simple gesture, yet so intimate. A smile crept across her face and stayed.

The afternoon passed quickly and too soon they found themselves back at the docks boarding Mark’s cruiser.

“We’d better hurry. I almost forgot that tonight is Rotary,” Mark started, not expecting Jayme to interrupt.

“Rotary! I forgot, too! I need to do a make up.”

Mark was stunned into momentary silence. “You’re a Rotarian?” Jayme seemed amused.

“Yes, I’m a Rotarian. Come out of the dark ages, Dr. Steele. The States have had female Rotarians for quite a while, ever since the Supreme Court ruled it was unconstitutional to bar women from the club just because they were women. In fact, I was the third female sworn into our club, just three months after the ruling came down.”

“Will you ever stop surprising me? Don’t get me wrong, I’m impressed, but then everything about you impresses me. It’s just that we don’t see many women Rotarians here, even for make ups. Especially not young, beautiful Rotarians.” Mark’s hands lingered much longer than necessary around Jayme’s tiny waist as he helped her into the boat.

There it is again – young. How young did he think she was anyway? Jayme shook the thought away, centering only on how nice his hands felt on her.

“Well,” Jayme continued, “I do make ups where ever I travel. Other clubs are interesting, and I’ve got four years of perfect attendance.”

“Four years? That’s some record. What’s been your most interesting meeting?” Mark was genuinely interested, as he maneuvered the cruiser out of the marina and into the open sea toward Holm Cay.

“Well,” Jayme chuckled over the memory, “I’d say, in Puerto Vallarta. At first, the Mexican members thought I was the wife of one of the other visiting Rotarians. When I got up, introduced myself, and gave my classification, the entire room went silent. Although they had had many visiting Rotarians from the States and from around the world, they never had a female do a make up there. After a short general meeting, in Spanish, the attention turned to me. Questions came right and left, in Spanish again, about why I wasn’t satisfied in the auxiliary and such. Finally, my interpreter gave up, and told the others to ask their own questions. They could all speak perfect English, but none of them wanted to address me direct! I found it highly amusing once I had a chance to think about it.”

Mark smiled over her story, then asked, “what is your classification?” Although he felt he already knew. Each Rotary club limited themselves to one person per classification, to bring the most diversified group possible together.

“Photography,” Jayme stated simply, with a shrug of her slim shoulders. “Can I come with you tonight? I’d really like to do that make up.”

Come with him? The chance to have her around for the evening… “Of course,” Mark tried to hide his pleasure. “It’s a dinner meeting, so we need to be there by 6:00. I’ll drop you off at the docks, if you don’t mind. I’m sure you’ll want to freshen up and I have to check on a few patients. I’ll be back for you at say, 5:15” These meetings are always casual, so don’t expect too much, okay?”