Chapter 9

Jayme awoke late, her head fuzzy from the restless few hours of sleep, her eyes red and puffy from hours of crying.

I should feel awful, she thought as she stood under the shower and let the water sluice over her body, and thought it odd that she didn’t. Using generous amounts of soapy creams, Jayme lathered herself, working up soothing mounds of foam. As the warm water rinsed the suds away, Jayme felt her tension rinse away as well. She smiled, and applied perfumed shampoo to her hair, working it all the way to the long ends. Each time the water took away the froth she’d created, Jayme felt lighter. Now sensing the washing as an interesting method of therapy, she applied a thick conditioner to her auburn waves and piled it atop her head to let it work, securing it with a plastic clip, and began to lather all over again. By the time she was ready to rinse the conditioner out of her hair, Jayme’s attitude had changed tremendously.

Toweling off, Jayme looked at herself in the foggy mirror. Leaning forward, she wiped the steam away with a dry washcloth, exposing the closeness of her own reflection. She stepped back and her naked body. Her breasts were full, but not overly large; her legs were long and firm, athletic; she had a narrow waist, accented by the slim lines that formed the contours of a figure unmarked by a difficult birthing. And that figure was striking, exceptionally so for her age. Jayme knew men found her attractive, but now only one man’s thought mattered to her. Would he still want her after what she did last night? She felt a sorrow filled embarrassment over her defensive reaction.

Jayme now studied her face. Only a few wrinkles, not bad for forty three years old, she thought as she dotted her face with a thick Aloe cream and blended it smooth. She looked at the jar, and re-creamed her face.

Dressed in a loose top and a pair of comfortable shorts, Jayme sat outside to brush her hair dry. While it was still slightly damp, she swept it up into a loose knot and pinned it securely to the top of her head. The style was becoming, yet very practical. It was cooling to have the thick hair off her neck.

It was almost eleven o’clock. Mark would be arriving in an hour. Jayme found she was not at all nervous as she had been yesterday. Her calmness was very comforting. Although Jayme felt in control of herself once again, she felt strangely light and … free. She sighed, then smiled, and headed for the hotel lobby to see if the message she was expecting had come yet.

“Hi, John! I’m expecting a wire from the states. Has it come yet?” Jayme leaned her elbows on the counter, in the same manner she’d seen the employees do.

“As a matter of fact, Ms. Haller, you do have a message,” John, a tall blond from Australia, reached toward a pigeon hold styled back board. “ ‘Ere ya go.” As he handed it over, Jayme noticed it was on hotel stationery.

“Thanks.”

The envelope Jayme held was not the one she’d been waiting for – the one from her son Alan, saying whether or not he’d been able to pull a few days leave and would join her. Jayme turned the letter over in her hands. The envelope was securely sealed, as though the sender wanted to be sure it wouldn’t accidentally com open. Opening it, Jayme saw it was a note from Marge Thomas.

“Jayme, Thank you so much for the video! We borrowed a VCR from the management and watched it last night. I’ll treasure it always. I always felt you were special, now I know you are. When I watched myself underwater, a line from my favorite musical kept coming to mind: “If they could see me now, that old gang of mine.” Well, thanks to you, they will!
I noticed the other night that there is something special between you and the young doctor, so you’re going to get a piece of advice from an old, and dying, woman, whether you want it or not: Don’t waste today on yesterday, or there will never be enough tomorrow’s. Even though they are few now, I have enough tomorrow’s. Make all of yours count.
See you in Aruba!
Affectionately, Marge”

At first Jayme was stunned, realizing the Thomas knew her identity before they left the island, but she was also sure they hadn’t said a word to anyone. Marge didn’t even mention The Reef Roamer in the note, surely as protection that it might be read by someone else. A warm glow blossomed in Jayme as she thought about Marge’s advice. Don’t waste today on yesterday. Very good advice. It made her think of her sister reminding her Donald was dead and that she wasn’t. Pieces began to fall into place. Jayme had felt free earlier, now she felt positively released, buoyant. She went back to her room to ready her equipment for the afternoon tour with Mark, feeling this would be a very special day. Very special indeed.

As Dr. Steele finished with his last patient, he wondered what the rest of the day would bring. Surely if Jayme didn’t want to see him again, she would have sent word, making up some lame excuse to cancel their afternoon. No such message had arrived. As he locked the doors behind Naomi, Mark recalled the look in Jayme’s eyes last night. Sorrow. Shame. She hadn’t meant to…. To what? Defend herself against a gesture she was trained to perceive as a threat? He couldn’t hold that against her. Conditioned reflex, that’s all it was. She’d been preoccupied and nervous. Hell, he had been preoccupied and nervous. Closing his eyes, Mark could still feel her in his arms, smell her perfume, taste her lips. He wanted her, and knew she wanted him too, but she was afraid … of something. He’d always bee a patient man, and he knew he could wait, forever if need be, to have the one he loved. Mark would wait until Jayme came to him, because she was the kind of person who didn’t do things half way, and she would come to him until she loved him as he loved her. Mark smiled. All he had to do was convince her of his love. Was it that simple?

Jayme was still wearing the cocoa colored shorts and the oversized tangerine top she’d put on earlier, but she’d belted the top with her fanny-pack purse and attached the camera strap. The sandals’ securely strapped to her feet were cool and comfortable, ideal for a day of walking. She found an empty table with a full view of the docks so she could watch Mark approach.

As she sat in the shade of the table umbrella, her arm resting across her lap, Jayme watched Daniel approach.
“Hi Jayme! How’s your arm feeling?” Daniel seemed concerned, but cheerful.

“Oh, it’s still pretty sore, but I try not to think about it. I wish I could say ‘all in a days work’ but I have to admit I’ve never had anything like this happen before,” Jayme smiled, trying to ease any guilt he might have. “By the way, did you ever find out who snagged me?”

“As a matter of fact, I did. I was on my way to your room when I saw you out here. You’re not going to believe this, but it was Marstead….”

“Bruce?” Jayme interrupted. She leaned back in her chair, amazed at the irony of it all.

“Oh, hi, Doc!” Daniel acknowledged the approaching Dr. Steele. Jamie looked up at Mark and seeing the doubt as his eyes met hers, smiled to ease him. “I was just telling Jayme we found out who hooked her the other day,” Daniel continued, turning back to Jayme. “Well, anyway, John, our fishing guide, was taking Marstead out for the day, and…”

“Bruce Marstead?!” Mark was suddenly angry.

“yeah, you know him too? So this Marstead thought he’d get some casting practice in while they were looking for a spot to fish. As soon as John saw the line in the water, he came down hard on him. Read him the proverbial riot act. They didn’t know what had happened until I started asking around later. I found Bruce and told him Jayme would be within her rights to press charges! I think he checked out early. Said something about a bum wrist.” Daniel just stared when Jayme and Mark looked at each other and burst out laughing.

“Did I miss something?” Daniel seemed truly perplexed.

As Daniel left, Mark turned to a now silent Jayme. He smiled down at her, “are you ready?” She nodded. He hesitated. “Listen, Jayme, about last night at the dock…”

“I hope you can forgive my reaction, Mark, and let it go. I have. A very wise person once said ‘don’t waste today on yesterday’ “, and she smiled warmly, touching his hand. “Let’s go!”

The boat ride over to Hope Town took almost forty minutes at the leisurely pace Mark set. Their conversation was just as leisurely, easy and friendly, the strain they both worried about was nonexistent. Mark tried to explain to Jayme what to expect at Hope Town.

“It’s really not much to see, Jayme, I hope you won’t be too disappointed. The Light House is the main attraction, and there is quite a history to it. Once you’ve seen it, you’ll never forget it, but that’s about it. There’s a restaurant on the other side of the island I’d like to stop at first: The Club Soleil, a great seafood and fried chicken place. I didn’t even have time to have breakfast this morning. How about you? Have you had lunch yet?”
“Now that you mention it, I had a late but very light breakfast. I feel like I could eat a whole Grouper!”

“A whole Grouper?”

“Well, being hungry enough to ‘eat a horse’ doesn’t sound quite apropos in the islands, and Groupers can get quite large!” she explained.

“I’ll see if they have Grouper on the menu,” Mark teased her.

After lunch, they moved the boat to a slip on the Light House side of the island, Jayme sat on the deck, cross legged, unpacking her cameras and loading film.

“That truly is an interesting case, Jayme. It looks custom-made,” mark hesitated, fearing it would sound like he was prying, knowing how private a person she was. Jayme beamed at his interest.

“It is. I do a lot of traveling, and my equipment can take a real beating. I designed this case three years ago after losing some very expensive lenses to the airline. This compartment holds exposed film, while this one has fresh. The cut-outs in the foam holds each of my three cameras securely, and these cut-outs hold different lenses, and one for the underwater strobe. The closure was the tricky par: it’s water proof. So even if the case accidentally ends up overboard, it floats!” Jayme explained each elaborate aspect of the compact case to Mark without hesitation. It felt wonderful to be so honest and open with someone, she reflected, and her pleasure showed in her eyes.

Climbing the steep stairs to the top of the 127 year old Lighthouse, Jayme was amazed as Mark related the recent work done to the old structure.
“Last year six painters and carpenters on the Port Authority team set to work at sprucing up and repairing this old gal. It took them more than four weeks to apply more than 200 gallons of red and white paint. They even accidentally dumped a can of red paint down one side of the tower, and at 120 feet high, that’s a long way down! Hope Town’s light house is one of the last kerosene powered , manned lighthouses left in the world, and is probably the most Photographed with its red and white barbershop type stripes. Most lighthouses are now automated and without keepers, running on batteries and propane gas cylinders. You’re visiting one of the last truly great landmarks in the world,” Mark was obviously proud of the structure and the service it provided.

“Well, I’m certainly impressed. This is a long walk up, and the steps are so narrow! Aren’t there many accidents? People falling on the steps, I mean.”

“Not that many want to make the long trek up. But you will be well rewarded for your tenacity, my-lady. The view from up here is like none other in the world,” Mark couldn’t resist using one of Jayme’s phrases, but was surprised when she didn’t respond. But Jayme had heard, with a slight shiver up her spine, and said nothing.

Once through the tiny hatch-like door at the top, Jayme gasped. “Oh, Mark…. What a view! I’ve got to film this,” Jayme began checking lighting and adjusting the meters on her video cam, while Mark leaned against the railing, content to watch her move. She was graceful and intent. Every move had its purpose. Mark was overwhelmed with unfamiliar yet wonderful feelings. Jayme leaned over the edge, looking down, then out. She brought her camera up to face level and began a very slow panoramic scan of the area. When she got to the area Mark was leaning, her heart skipped a beat when he smiled at the camera. Suddenly she stopped. Her face gone pale.

“What’s wrong, Jayme?” Mark was alarmed at her expression.

“Is that coming this way?” Jayme pointed over Mark’s left shoulder, out to the sea, her voice barely a squeak.

Mark turned to the direction she pointed, and stopped. His heart sank and his throat went dry. He lifted his face to the quickening breeze, feeling the direction and smelling the ozone. Blue-black thunderheads stretched to the south, lightning lashed within the clouds as the rumbling spilled out in muffled growls.

“If it isn’t, it’s going to come might close! It looks to be about thirty miles away, but moving fast We better get out of here,” he tried not to sound too worried, but Jayme could tell he was very concerned.

“How long?” she asked simply, letting him know she understood it could be bad, as she followed him back down the narrow stairs.

He let out a deep sigh after a moments thought. It would do no good to sugar coat the situation, he may need her help. “Half hour at the current speed, an hour if it slows a bit.” He stopped at the bottom of the stairs and turned to her. “We haven’t any time to lose, Jayme. We’ll probably make it back with only minutes to spare before all Hell breaks loose.” All she could do is nod.