The Pub Aftermath, Chapter 7
“The job is yours if you wish to take it,” the man told him. Jason stood and shook the hand of the executive director of The Secrets of Montego Bay.
“It would be a great honor,” he said, trying to conceal his relief. Months earlier, when he’d left Jamaica to manage The Pub, he’d needed to put distance between himself and certain nefarious events. He knew even then that he would ultimately return once things cooled off. In a transient place like this tourist town, it wouldn’t take long for the memory of his past deeds to fade, as they always do. A few months’ absence was all it had taken.
Jason had a sixth sense when it came to knowing when to leave. Having too many high-priced entertainers on staff at The Pub, feeding his drinking buddies on the house, and his tendency toward overspending had prompted an audit by the much-too-clever Ervin. Results of the CPA’s review of the accounting books would have ended his job there anyway. But the surprise had come when he’d been approached to take out the silent partner.
No one could prove he’d had any part in Ervin’s murder. His hands were technically clean. He had called in many favors to make it happen. Getting Chip to help had been easy. His doofus of an assistant manager seemed to have his own reasons for offing the CPA with the payoff like icing on the cake.
Jason knew that everything had a price if someone was willing to pay it. And those who’d helped remove the threat of exposure had been well paid. His take on the project netted enough to buy an enormous diamond. He smirked at his own cleverness. The beauty of it was the jewel would get little scrutiny on its way out of the country. A simple, easy way to move value that wasn’t cash, he’d had it made into a stunning engagement ring. He thought about his “sugar bear.” Once Melissa joined him, he was going to stay close to the ring and to do that he’d need to stay close to her.
Keeping it in the family. And what better place to start a new life than the tropical paradise of Jamaica? Looks like I’m back in the saddle, again.
The return flight to Jamaica those months ago had seemed like coming home. He smiled, pressed the button and lowered the back of his first-class seat, relaxing into a false sense of safety. His sixth sense had failed him at a critical moment. Someone from his past was along for the ride. Someone with an assignment of their own. Someone who hadn’t forgotten his past deeds.
The plane gently touched down at Sangster International making a smooth transition from floating on air to land on solid ground. The tires squealed once as the pilot throttled the engine, hit the brakes and brought the craft swinging toward the tarmac. A ping on the intercom triggered an announcement about baggage claim areas and personal belongings. The plane pulled slowly closer to the terminal. When it came to a halt, seat belts clanked, overhead bins snapped open and passengers began jockeying for space in the aisles.
Jason waited impatiently as the jet bridge snugged against the side of the craft and the cabin door slide was disengaged. There was an air of excitement on board at arriving in the vacation paradise.
Melissa had not joined him on the trip, promising to fly out in a few days. Before he left stateside, Jason’s proposal to her had not gone as expected.
“But Baby,” he whined. “It’ll make an honest woman out of you.”
“Since when has that mattered to you?” she asked.
“The boy needs a father figure,” he said getting down on his knees. “We could start over. Have a brand-new life in Jamaica.” He practically begged.
“Get off the floor,” she told him with a frown.
“Okay, but wait ‘till you see the ring I got for you.” He pulled a velvet box from his coat pocket and opened it up so it faced her.
“Whoa!” she said. “Is that real?” The two-carat, emerald cut stone glistened in the light. Melissa’s eyes lit up and she smiled.
“Well, alright,” she agreed. “But there’s one condition.” He quickly slipped the ring out of the box and onto her left hand.
“Anything for you, my sweet.”
“I won’t marry you on the beach as a side show for your drunken friends.” He looked stunned. “But you can ask my twin to pose for the pictures for, let’s call it a rehearsal ceremony.”
“We can get married later, in Vegas,” she said, staring at the beautifully cut diamond.
He grinned, struggled to his feet and pulled her into a bear hug. Behind his head, she wiggled her ring finger catching the sparkling facets in the sunlight.
Eager to disembark, he grasped his briefcase and sat poised on the edge of his seat. The hatch lock snapped open and he watched the flight attendants take their positions at the exit beside the flight navigator ready to smile endlessly at the crowd as they moved slowly out. Jason moved into the aisle by the galley assuring a quick departure ahead of the others.
The rather large woman who’d entered the First-Class lavatory before the final approach, had quietly set the door sign to “Vacant,” once she'd heard the announcement. The flight attendant, busy with last minute tasks, had seen the green indicator on her final walk-through and assumed the lavatory was empty. But Elise had not returned to her seat in the rear cabin, remaining quietly inside the tiny room.
Her disguise had been better than she imagined. When she’d walked past Jason earlier, he’d shown no hint of recognition. Not even her own mother would have recognized her deeply spray-tanned skin and her usually slim body concealed under the voluminous body suit.
She’d taken great pains to completely change her appearance in the weeks prior to the trip. She’d perfected an airbrush technique to apply tanner on her face, arms, legs and any exposed skin transforming it into a shimmering shade of bronzed mahogany. Her brilliant blue eyes now reflected a shade of burnished gold behind contact lenses. She’d carefully applied a prosthetic piece to widen and flattened the looks of her nose as well.
Once in the forward lavatory, she’d removed the enormous padded body suit she’d worn boarding the plane. Beneath the suit she’d worn a padded girdle that added a pleasant roundness to her rear end, something she knew from experience that Jason could barely resist. Dentures attached over her own perfectly straight teeth added a small protrusion at the front of her mouth. Rather than detract from her usual exotic beauty, it enhanced her appeal. She’d checked her appearance in the tiny airplane lavatory mirror her lips parting smoothly over her newly shaped smile.
The woman who emerged through the bi-fold door of the lavatory into the aisle behind the first-class passengers looked nothing at all like the woman who had entered. She carried an enormous canvas bag, bulging at the seams, in which she had stuffed the deflated blow-up body suit. Her shoulder length auburn wig accentuated by make-up and a fresh coat of bright lipstick was set off nicely by diamond drop earrings that swayed with her movements.
When the plane slowed to a stop, and passengers began to push forward, she’d positioned herself behind a hand-holding couple of newlyweds who stood in line behind Jason. She matched their progress as they traveled quickly down the air bridge toward the terminal.
Jason didn’t stop at the luggage carousel. Neither did Elise. Keeping him in sight, she watched him exit the terminal and signal to a taxi at the curb. She raised a hand for the next taxi in line. The cab pulled deftly into position into the slot Jason’s taxi vacated.
“Where to, Miss?” the driver asked.
“The Secrets,” she answered, “at Montego Bay.” He pressed down on the gas and moved seamlessly into traffic a few cars behind Jason’s cab.
“An excellent choice, milady,” he said. “You must try each of the nine restaurants during your stay. I hear the food is to die for.” He laughed merrily as the car moved along in the tropical breeze. The drive was short and uneventful.
She watched from the back seat of the cab as he pulled into the portico next to the glassed entrance. The doorman bowed as the man from the first cab entered the splendor of the enormous lobby and walked straight to the reservations desk. Elise waited for the driver to open her door, then, gathered her overstuffed bag, passed the driver a twenty and got out of the dingy yellow sedan.
“You are most generous!” he chimed, watching as she walked away.
She scurried past the doorman at the hotel entrance, crossed the lobby and quickly made her way down the hall where she found the lounge. Within seconds, she was seated at a table near the horseshoe-shaped bar. The waiter set a tall Rum Punch down in front of her. His departure was followed swiftly by Jason’s appearance.
“Can I buy you a drink?” the familiar voice asked. It had taken him less than three minutes to scope her out from among the patrons and thirty seconds more to make his move. She motioned to the chair across from where she sat and beamed a toothy smile.
Something In The Way She Moves
“You look somehow familiar,” he told her after the third drink. “But I just can’t place where I’ve seen you.”
“I get that a lot,” she told him in the ditsy falsetto voice she’d practiced.
It was less than two hours later when Elise guided the staggering man down the narrow hallway toward his suite. Having downed several doubles, he’d flashed his room key, hoping to impress the auburn-haired beauty.
“It’s a luxury suite,” he’d slurred, grinning. She’d grinned back.
There’d been a moment of tension as the elevator doors opened and one of her former musician friends was already inside. He’d barely looked up as he waited, his finger impatiently hovering over the control panel.
“What floor?” he’d asked. She held up four fingers, afraid he’d recognize her for sure if she spoke to him. When Jason staggered inside nearly knocking them both down, the musician spoke again.
“Looks like you have your hands full with that one.”
Elise nodded at him in the hazy, veined mirror and steered her charge toward the rear panel where they stood against the wall behind her musician friend. The elevator took off with a lurch jostling all three passengers as the car ascended. Upward motion stopped and a bell sounded. The number “2” light above the door lit up and her former friend got off without further comment.
Elise remembered, from her brief gig at the resort those many months ago, that musicians on staff were assigned rooms on the second floor along the interior wall of the complex. Their free rooms generally overlooked the rooftop’s air handling units with ocean side rooms reserved for paying guests or privileged members of the management team, like Jason.
She slipped her hand into his jacket where he’d stashed the card key. She swiped it through the reader and opened the door to his suite. He lunged at her, nearly falling over. She roughly pushed Jason inside the room as the door swished closed.
© 2019 Peg Cole