Claire opened her eyes on the third morning since her reunion with Jamie and smiled when she heard him breathing next to her. It touched her that he stayed in bed until she woke because Jamie was an early riser. He wanted to be her everything again and being there when she woke was a good place to start. To ensure he could sleep that long in the morning he slipped away and painted all night, which was just the therapy his soul was needing.
Claire rolled to him, feeling his arms pull her in and his lips whisper “good morning, love.” His cell phone was ringing and he pulled it to his ear while he kissed his wife. The bliss was over in an instant and he sat up muttering, “Jesus, on my way.”
“Did we forget something important?”
“We did.” He eyed Claire like he would pounce on her any second. “But there is still time for this!”
Claire shrieked with laughter when Jamie grabbed her for a tickle before jumping into his clothes to meet Darius and the engineer in the engine room. They would be hours down there and she made a mental note to sneak him a power bar or two.
Adso rubbed his face on her, purring loudly, and she stroked him absently while her mind turned the facts this way and that. During the last few days she felt different, like another person had moved into her skin. She was always aware now that she was Casper and narrowly escaped a tortured existence of a forced marriage to Frank followed by a short life as Hesser’s secret agent. Now she spent her day feeling grateful for being on this yacht, married to Jamie, with wonderful people around her. Jamie was right. They forgot who they were, lulled into a false sense of security when there was still so much to fear. Now, every touch, every smile, and every encounter with her shipmates felt like a miracle.
Claire poured a coffee and joined Maia and Danny at the table. Maia was searching the internet for party guests to help Danny remember them all and kept getting stuck on the celebrities, her research hijacked for her personal fascination with famous people.
“Ah, dearest Claire, you must come to the foredeck and examine the plants. The boxes have become overrun with bugs. Come.”
Danny looked stricken with the discovery of bugs and once outside Claire looked closely at each box bursting with colorful, healthy blooms.
“I’m sorry for the ruse. I have news from my attorney, Kevin. I’m afraid it is not good. Now that the money has been transferred and the doctors are involved, they have not found a suitable match for Jamie’s skin. Apparently, Caucasian skin is the hardest to find. I know Jamie is tense and ready to go at a moment’s notice. Please tell him to relax until we hear more.”
Claire knew Jamie would be disappointed. He was so focused on the procedure and the life they would have once it was done. Keeping an eye out for him she got caught up in the heightened energy on the boat. They were moving the yacht to the historic Newport Harbor to prepare for the party in two days. Everything was coming together except Danny, who acted stranger by the minute. Claire stared at her good friend and wondered if she was nervous about her date for the party.
“How will you have your hair done for the party, Danny?”
Danny looked pale when she turned to Claire. “I hadn’t thought of it.”
“Can we play around for a bit, just to try a couple things? Darius and Jamie will move the boat once done with the engineer, and Maia is hopelessly lost reading about movie stars, so why not, c’mon.
Claire tried several styles on Danny’s hair, scrunching up her nose and shaking her head before trying another. Danny told her any of the styles would be fine, wondering what Claire was hoping to do.
“This haircut and color are so great, especially with the sweeping side. It’s alluring… mysterious,” Claire cleared her throat, “sexy.”
Danny stared at Claire for a minute and then burst out in laughter that was uncontrollable while she sputtered the word sexy.
“My dear Claire, I haven’t laughed like that in so long, thank you. I am sixty-eight years old and sexy isn’t allowed at my age. It’s a sin against nature or something. I wasn’t sexy in my twenties, for heaven’s sake.”
Claire watched Danny’s nervous fidgeting, heard the edge in her voice, and saw her complexion pale. She was a mess, plain and simple. Claire needed to distract her for some pre-date therapy and ran to her rooms to scoop up her best hair combs. She asked Danny to sit back and relax so she could try the different hair ornaments, and she talked while she worked.
“So much has gone on recently, I haven’t been able to ask you about the gorgeous Sam Elliot. How is it you know him?” Claire kept brushing, knowing it was an anxiety smasher.
“We met at the annual Julliard fundraiser in New York, five years ago. He was seated next to me and kept me in the most delightful conversation. He’s very witty and charming. We went to dinner the next night and then he was back to California because he was filming a movie. We keep in touch, have dinner when we’re in the same city, and that’s it. I hear from him every few months.”
“So he really likes you, Danny! It is the only reason a man would keep in contact. That is exceptional! Do you like him?”
“Well, he’s a friend…”
“I have the hots for the man, I think”
Danny looked a little lost and Claire knew she needed confidence around this man so the real Danny would shine through. She would give that some thought. They chose the perfect hairstyle, pulled back on one side with a beautiful comb, allowing the side sweep on the other side.
During dinner, Claire felt bold and announced Danny had a date for the party with a handsome actor and needed some pointers because she was nervous. Danny dropped her fork loudly on her plate and stared at the excited faces around the table. It seemed they were all talking at once until Darius whistled through his teeth to claim the floor.
“If you feel nervous talking to him, just imagine you’re talking to one of us and then let it rip.”
“Practice poses that are sexy but not obvious.”
“Poses? Whatever do you mean, child?”
Maia got up and pretended to look at herself in the mirror, doing different poses while she giggled.
Jamie wiped his mouth with a napkin and took a sip of wine. “Stay in the moment and look directly in his eyes with your head up. Men love a confident woman. Touch his arm or hand as much as possible. When you introduce him, slip your arm around his back. If you’re getting on, show him the pool, or the garden, so he can kiss you. Have him take his shoes off and feel the warm marble. It is intimate to have your shoes off with a woman.”
Claire made eye contact with Jamie, wishing she could kiss him for that answer. The suggestions continued. Some were ridiculous, others funny, but when something resonated in Danny, she tucked it away. What started out as an embarrassment actually made her feel calmer about seeing Sam, and she wouldn’t complain about this to Claire because she had Danny’s best interest at heart.
Later, when the yacht was tied down at the new dock, Claire and Jamie were finally alone. She told him that the clinic could not find a suitable donor for his fingers. It would postpone the procedure until one could be found. He put on a brave face, but Claire could see he was upset about waiting. She scratched his back until he fell asleep.
Like Claire, Jamie felt like a different person after the recent revelations about their lifestyle. He spent time in his head, late at night, going over the many times he was careless and could have been discovered. Even a minor offense would result in fingerprints and his time would run out, quite suddenly. Trips to shore were out of the question now and he paced in the yacht when the others jumped in the tender for shopping, meeting with caterers, flower sellers, and liquor distributors. Jamie was always the one who pulled double the weight of the others, and now he hid from the world.
The next day, employees of the designer Baracci filed into the yacht, with the new dresses and cases of tools for any alterations. Danny went first, looking stunning in a floor length classic in black with sheer sleeves and upper chest. Next was Claire with a perfect fit, and then it was Maia’s turn. The door to the main head opened and Maia was holding the dress up, yelling it didn’t fit. Three people descended on her, examining the zipper and trying to pull it closed.
“Have you gained weight since your measurements, let’s see, five months ago?”
“No! You made it wrong, now I have nothing to wear!”
“That would be incorrect madam, we don’t make mistakes.”
“Everything else I wear fits me. Maybe I’m hormonal before my period, I don’t know, but you gotta fix this.”
Once the dress was off, the group of workers pulled the seam lines and decided there was just enough fabric to let out the bodice. Two women sat close on the couch and hand stitched the top of the dress back together.
When Claire heard Maia say she was pre-hormonal, she knew that wasn’t right. After living together for so many months, their period was now in sync and Claire was mid-cycle.
The dress fit perfectly after the alterations, and Maia was happy and excited to wear it. Claire caught her in the corridor and reminded her they just had a period two weeks ago. Maia blinked at her with confusion.
“No we didn’t.”
“We certainly did. Well, I did, but you didn’t, do I have that right?”
“My period is due any day is all I know.”
Maia started up the stairs to their rooms, end of discussion.
“Maia, stop. Could you be pregnant?”
“Of course not.”
“I have seen you drink during a party, which is fine, but not if you’re pregnant.” Claire climbed the steps to join Maia and speak quietly. “If you don’t want Darius to know until you’re sure I can go with you to the store and buy a pregnancy kit. I almost want to insist Maia. You didn’t bleed two weeks ago, meaning your pregnant or have some health issue.”
Maia’s face was losing color, and something in her eyes changed. “If you’re serious, please come with me, now.”
It was a lovely day, and Claire enjoyed stretching her legs. It took under five minutes to purchase a test but before they could leave the store Maia turned back, telling Claire she couldn’t wait. Five minutes turned into ten while Claire wandered around the store. She suddenly wondered if Maia had gone back without her. She jogged out of the store and back down the dock until she saw the tender and turned around to jog back. Still no Maia.
Claire knocked on the single-sitter bathroom door and called for Maia. She kept it up until the door opened and a tear-streaked face looked at her, white as a sheet. She clutched the test stick in her hand and cried. Claire had to pull her fingers apart to verify the results and felt an unexpected joy deep inside that she struggled to hide. She told Maia not to worry, she would support her no matter what. Claire almost pulled Maia down the dock to the tender and climbed behind the wheel.
“Maia, if you need to talk before we go back, I’m here to listen.”
Maia shook her head no and tried to get her crying to stop. When they entered the saloon, she went straight up the stairs and locked the door.
Claire sat down at the table feeling shell-shocked by the last thirty minutes. She looked up at Danny who was smiling like the Cheshire cat.
“Don’t worry so, Claire. Darius is quite up to the task and he will be such a wonderful father.”
Claire’s eyes were huge, as always, blown away by Danny’s gift. “I am going to lay down until things get normal around here.” Before she could get up, Darius breezed through on his way to the galley.
“What is that sound?”
“That would be Maia crying hysterically.”
Darius shot toward the stairs, taking two at a time because Maia’s crying sounded like someone died. Maia didn’t cry, she got mad, unless her world was really falling apart. He hit the door expecting the handle to open, but it didn’t and he ran smack into the wood.
“Maia open the door. What’s happened? Let me in, we will get through this, but you have to let me in.”
“But I sleep in there, with you, so you have to let me in.”
Darius looked at the door hinges and ran down four flights of stairs to get the toolbox. Running back up, he reached the door panting for his life. He took out a chisel and a hammer and started banging the pins out of the hinges.
“This would be a lot easier if you opened the door.”
“I don’t want you to see me, Darius.”
Darius grappled with the heavy teak door, and carefully leaned it against the wall. He saw Maia get up from the bed and run into the closet. He lunged for it before she could close and lock the door. The closet doubled as the captain's vault and panic room. No chance of getting her out of there. He pulled her out as she continued to cry. She wouldn’t look at him.
“Maia, baby, look at me. Tell me what happened.”
Maia looked in her purse, then patted her pockets for what seemed like five minutes. Darius patiently waited, wanting to be her calm port in the storm, whatever the storm was.
Pulling a plastic stick out of her back pocket, she looked at it, hoping it had changed. Fresh tears came gushing out and Darius was about to lose his composure.
“Here, this is what happened, and it’s not my fault, it is yours.”
Darius looked at the stick, trying to figure out why it made her cry. It took a minute, then his eyes and brain made the connection and he almost passed out. He pulled Maia to his lap and held her tenderly.
“This is most definitely your fault, Maia,” he spoke softly to her. “For being so beautiful, and sweet, and sexy, and so easy to love. If you weren’t all those things, this never would have happened. I feel like I’m going to explode with happiness!”
The crying stopped abruptly and wet, confused eyes looked at him.
“That is not a thermometer, Darius.”
“No sweetheart, it certainly isn’t. It’s a message from the gods that you and I are going to have a baby.”
The light shining from his eyes was unmistakable; he was overjoyed, accident or not. When he reached for her, Maia released her pent up fear and melted into him, letting him whisper his happiness into her ear. He lowered her to the bed and ran his hand across her abdomen, feeling a growing heat.
“Oh, God! Sorry, just getting to the bridge for my reports.”
Jamie passed by their room and got an eye full, wondering how he could get back downstairs without seeing them again. Darius started laughing uncontrollably, and a minute later it came bursting out of Maia as well. Jamie walked to the stairs and suggested they hang the door for some privacy and the two of them roared with laughter.
Darius brought a bottle of champagne and glasses to the dinner table and asked the crew to join them in a toast. He called Chef out and handed him a glass.
“I have an announcement. Maia and I are having a baby!”
Everyone congratulated them with big smiles, truly happy for their captain and his first mate. When they brought their glasses up, Maia put her glass of juice back on the table and ran upstairs crying with Darius right behind her.
“Maia, what’s happened, does something hurt baby?”
“No.” The tears were flowing again, and Darius wondered how she had any left to shed. “We aren’t married yet, Darius and I will be a fat bride with a child out of wedlock. My mother will never forgive me!”
He hugged her with relief, promising to remedy the situation as soon as possible, and led her back to the table.
After dinner, Jamie asked Claire to the studio to show her his latest paintings. There were two of them, partially completed. One of them was a study of himself with his back to the observer. He sat alone on a hill overlooking the ocean. Long grass swayed in the breeze all around him.
“It’s a beautiful painting, Jamie, but why does it make me want to cry?”
“I had to paint it, to get it out of my head. It was the future I thought I was doomed to when I had to leave you. I dream of sitting on that hill, watching the sea, hoping to get a glimpse of the boat. It wakes me up, like a nightmare, and then I can’t sleep, so I paint. It makes you sad because I am sad in that reality. I still dream of it, so the painting didn’t help in that regard.”
“Why not paint me into the picture, with a picnic basket or just leaning against you? Would that make a difference?”
Jamie had an excited smile on his face and reached for a small brush to paint in the form of Claire next to him, leaning against him.
“You are a genius, love. I can feel my emotion changing already, so this has to work.”
Jamie seemed relieved that adding Claire to the painting might stop his dreams. She watched him and it dawned on her that Jamie was traumatized by having to leave her. He made the decision; he made the plan, and he got all the way to the water’s edge before Danny intervened. Poor Jamie’s heart broke so deep and now it wouldn’t heal. It woke him up in a panic every night, and he was desperate to get over this. She put her arm around him and looked into his eyes. There it was, how could she not see the hurt that was still there.
“Are you ready for bed handsome? Maybe we can talk a bit about our future, where we might settle down when all this is over. If you’re up to it tonight.”
He pressed Claire into the wall with his body and lowered his head until his mouth was an inch from hers.
“Tell me, Sassenach, do you like the city or the country?”
“I don’t know,” she whispered.
“Do you want four seasons, or two?”
“I’m not sure.”
“What about tropical?”
“Yes, I like tropical.”
Jamie’s hand moved up her leg, “do you want to be close to a university and teach?”
“I haven’t thought about that.”
His warm hand caressed her butt, just the way she liked.
“So we start with a blank canvas and create our utopia, piece by piece. Is that what you’re suggesting?”
Jamie smiled at her face, eyes closed, so aroused, so beautiful. He pulled her toward the door, flipping the lights off, hoping he would have a dreamless night.
In New York City, Sebastian met with two men hired to investigate the key people around his mother. They were coaching her; they had to be. If he took them out of the picture she would crumble, he was sure of it. He buzzed his secretary to come in with the airline tickets. She picked up the trash can in the conference room and slowed her leaving by straightening up.
“I don’t care how you do it, but I want to know who they are. With luck, we find enough dirt to send them packing. He handed each of them a picture of a woman. You are going to the party as her plus one and it cost me a fortune to get those bozos to agree, so make sure I didn’t piss the money away. Here’s a pen for each of you.” Sebastian demonstrated how to take pictures with the pen and gave them copies of the newspaper pictures of his mother, Claire, and Maia.
“Your flight leaves early in the morning. You will have ample time to get a tuxedo and meet your date at the time and place on the back of the picture. You are now a part of the team that will ruin my mother, and I will pay millions in bonuses when I gain the remaining shares to take the company from her.”
One of the men looked at Sebastian like he was a monster. He had never heard anyone talk about their own mother that way.
“Don’t judge me, asshole, you have no idea. She is a lunatic, fuckin crazy. It’s called dementia and she will have the best therapy money can buy once I kick her out of here. Now get the fuck out.”
The door to the conference room was closing silently when they all stood up. The secretary made a dash for the elevator so he couldn’t detain her after the meeting. She waited too long to leave and her heart pounded thinking he might come up behind her. When the elevator doors closed, she exhaled and pressed her back into the wall to steady herself. She chastised herself for being weak and letting that psycho get to her. She needed to train and remind herself how good she was. Her only hope for this mission was an opportunity to kick the little fucker’s ass when it was over.
The day of the party, everyone was up early, helping the crew stow furniture from the saloon, clean the chandeliers, and polish until everything was gleaming. Maia sat on the edge of their bed, looking miserable while Darius paced the room in front of her. He was being overbearing to protect her, and it was not working for her.
“Darius! Stop moving, stop speaking, please. I am going to the party to stand next to Danny and give her information that she needs. I am too careful to drink alcohol and I’m very protected with Danny and Claire.” She smiled sweetly at Darius and spoke in a mild, ladylike voice at first. “Just because I am growing your baby, DOES NOT MAKE YOU THE BOSS OF ME!”
Claire was up on a ladder wiping the crystal that hung from the chandelier. She could hear Maia and laughed so hard she almost fell off. She scrambled down and was almost knocked over by two caterers bringing trays of food to the galley. She was used to the party-day madness and took it in stride. She watched for Jamie, eager to know if the dream came back last night. So far, he was in another part of the boat working with Ethan.
Danny walked through the saloon mid-afternoon, rounding up Claire and Maia to start getting ready. She sent them off to their bubble baths, making a face at such an indulgence. Claire ran to her room, grabbed her favorite bubble bath, and took the elevator down so Danny didn’t see her. She boldly entered Danny’s room and ran her a hot bath, pouring in the magic. On the way back to her room she told Danny there was a surprise in her bathroom but she had to hurry.
Who doesn’t love a surprise? Danny was shocked at the mountain of bubbles and the amazing scent. She couldn’t stop herself from shedding her clothes and stepping into the tub. It was thrilling to lower herself into the hot water and she groaned with pleasure. Her very first bubble bath was exquisite, and she laid in the tub longer than she should have. Loud knocking pulled her back to the present as two stylists came walking into the enormous bathroom getting set up to do hair. One of them was a man, and Danny wanted to evaporate with embarrassment.
“Oh, there you are, still in the tub. Time to get out so we can add the glamour, Miss Meyers.”
“What’s to be done with this?”
Danny lifted her arm that was encased in bubbles, trying to shake them off. The woman saw her deep blush and ordered the man out of the room until she was dressed. Grabbing a huge towel, she pulled it open and approached Danny, looking the other way until the towel was wrapped around her. She caught a glimpse of Danny cowering in the towel with large chunks of bubbles stuck to her legs, arms, and head.
“You just shower that off and wash your hair while I go out for the rest of our equipment. It will take me fifteen minutes at least, so just relax and enjoy your shower.”
Later, when Danny was comfortable in her robe, the makeup artist applied her makeup while her hair was being dried. He reached for the conservative fake lashes and was just about to press one to her lid when Claire walked in.
“No! Stop. Ah, please stop. She wants a fuller lash, like this one!”
Claire dropped into a chair and pulled the towel off her head. Danny shrugged at the man and he pulled the fuller lashes out.
Jamie and Darius were meeting with two men by the pool, partly for privacy and to avoid the chaos upstairs. They were hired by Danny for security and were being apprised of the information Danny had this morning. The men wrote the names of the two women who would bring Sebastian’s men into the party. Jamie and Darius would escort the women out of the yacht, forcefully, if need be, with one of the guards behind them to ensure a peaceful exit. The hired men were very sharp and understood every directive.
When the meeting was over Jamie looked at the sulking Darius and asked about the sudden change in mood.
“What’s wrong, happy daddy.”
Darius looked up and growled a warning.
“Come now, second thoughts?”
Darius’s face softened, and he smiled talking about the baby. The hard edge came back talking about Maia not doing what she’s told.
“So, it’s not fun anymore because Maia wants to live her life as a grown-up, like she’s done for the past how many years?”
“Fuck off Jamie, it’s a Greek thing.”
Jamie shrugged and left, thinking a nap might take the edge off of his anxiety. He was losing so much sleep it made him feel befuddled and clumsy, one more thing to hate about himself, one more thing to be cured in Switzerland.
Jamie heard Claire in the closet and got up to shower and dress. Claire had her foot up on a stool, attaching the straps of her heels, she looked up and smiled. Her hair was up with sparkling things in it and her elegant gown dropped to the floor when she stood up.
“You’re the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen, Claire.”
“Well, I’m waiting for my handsome prince to take me to the ball.”
She wanted light hearted banter but when she saw the fatigue in his face she had to ask him. “Are you alright Jamie?”
“Yes, Sassenach, just tired, sleeping poorly." They looked at each other for a minute. "Am I enough for you, love. I mean do you like the way I look?”
Her sparkling eyes met his and turned red with her emotion. “You are so beautiful it makes my heart hurt sometimes. I have never known a more handsome man, inside and out.” She offered a cheek for him to kiss and smiled at him with all the love she felt.
“Now get in the shower gorgeous, I feel like a princess and want to show off.”
That seemed to break the spell making Jamie laugh as he pulled his clothes off and turned on the water. Claire left to join Danny and Maia and the three women took their positions to greet the guests.
Claire saw him first. Such a handsome man, such a great mustache. She watched him move up the line of people until he saw Danny. His face softened, and he smiled to himself, watching her until he stepped in front of her.
“Sepora, you’ve changed some things and I approve.”
Danny looked up at Sam Elliot and smiled. He looked her over, quite overtly, making her blush. She introduced Claire and Maia to him, and they shook hands.
“You’re my first.” Maia blushed while shaking his hand.
“I beg your pardon?”
“I have never shaken hands with a famous actor before.”
“It is my honor then, Maia.”
He smiled at Danny; “I am going to the back of the line because I want to look at you longer.”
“I think I could move over a few feet and we will tuck you in between us!”
Claire moved to the side and kept smiling.
“Nestled between three beautiful women is my kind of welcome!”
Claire didn’t dare leave because she had to alert Jamie when the two women showed up with Sabastian’s men. Maia wasn’t speaking to Darius and hated Jamie by association tonight, so it was up to her.
The saloon filled with movie stars, stockholders, board members, and politicians. The kind of guest list one would sell their soul to attend. Later in the evening, Danny showed Sam around the lavish yacht while Claire and Maia watched the door. By eight o’clock, Sebastian’s men had not been identified, so Claire went out to the crewman who checked invitations. They were already here! She looked at the names after the women and decided they had been here for a while. She panicked and went looking for Danny.
Claire jogged everywhere she wouldn’t be seen, calling for Danny frantically. When she walked out to the foredeck she saw the couple standing very close, so she turned around and called to Danny, asking for her immediate attention.
“Sebastian’s men are here, have been for a while, we just missed them. You must walk through the saloon with me and look for the women.”
“Sam, my guests are asking for me, would you join us?”
One woman was spotted immediately, and Claire broke away to find Darius. It was taking so long to find the other woman and they started a second time around the crowded room. Danny pinched Claire, describing the dress and color. Claire broke away to find Jamie.
Jamie and Darius were perfect gentlemen when they approached the ladies, nodding to their dates.
“Miss Weatherbe, Sepora has asked me to find you for a word.”
He led the couple to the entrance and kept walking. The man figured out they were being thrown off the boat and turned around to get lost in the crowd. A giant security agent was directly behind him and physically turned him around with a not so gentle push.
They were asked to leave and warned not to come back or Sepora would have them arrested for trespassing. The female crewman who checked the guests in was replaced with Ethan, who had a micro-radio in the pocket of his uniform in case they came back.
The enormous side entrance to the yacht was wide open to provide fresh air and a way to access the side decks so guests could stroll if they chose to. It was the only other way inside. Claire pleaded with Jamie to guard that door. She was freaked out about people snooping their identity and wanted Jamie out of harm’s way. He reluctantly agreed and found a seat where he could monitor who was coming in and out.
Danny was so lost in her evening with Sam she hardly noticed the switch of crew members or Jamie walking in and out of the deck door, fighting the boredom. By eleven o'clock, he was losing his mind. He stared at his fingertips, hating them for betraying him when a shadow was picked up in his peripheral vision. He was on the man before he could make it to the crowd of people, and he dragged him back into the shadows of the corridor.
“I’m afraid you’re going to jail tonight, friend.”
The man was pleading to speak with Danny, saying he came back to warn her of something. Jamie alerted Darius and the two of them listened to the man begging to speak with Danny.
“You can haul me to jail after I speak with Miss Meyers!”
They took the man to the pool level by the elevator and five minutes later Danny walked up to them, followed by Sam. She looked at the man and reached out to shake his hand, even knowing he was the enemy.
“You came back at great risk, sir, go ahead, I’m listening.”
The man told her everything he heard from Sebastian, what his plan was, how much money he was promising those that helped him.
“I have never heard a person talk about their mother like that and I can see, clearly, you are not suffering from dementia. He is planning a hostile takeover of the company, ma’am. He is your son, so please pardon what I say. He is evil.”
The man turned to Jamie and said he was ready. Danny thanked him and shoved a check in his coat pocket for fifty thousand dollars.
“You risked going to jail to warn me. I appreciate that.” She touched his hand. “Oh! You are going to be a father, first time, isn’t that wonderful?” She looked at Darius as the man turned pale.
She reached into his pocket and tore the check in half. Extracting another from her clutch, she replaced it for double the amount. Danny was feeling miracles all around her and rewarded a good man.
Darius escorted the man to the street after asking him to turn out his pockets. He whistled for a cab and walked back to the yacht.
By one o’clock in the morning, the guests were gone and the big doors were closed and locked. Darius found Maia sound asleep and gently pushed the hair from her face, saying I love you and I am so sorry for being a brute. They made their way upstairs, and the crew took over cleaning and setting the boat right again.
Claire laid in Jamie’s arms in their dark room and felt sleep coming fast. She asked about his dream.
“Has the dream left you, sweetheart?”
“It will in time, love.”