Bobbette and her soon to be husband, Robert, were again basking in the afterglow of their lovemaking.
"Robert, we should save up some of our energies for when we go on our honeymoon, darling. I know you’re going to want a lot of lovemaking.”
"We'll be doing a lot of sight-seeing. There are so many islands in the Bahamas archipelago. We may even go into the casinos once or twice.”
"I can't wait for us to get married and for you and me to lie on our backs on those beaches.”
"Are you sure that all our plans are in place? What about the guest list, everybody says they’re coming? I want this to be big. It’ll be in the newspapers and several political heavyweights will be attending.”
Bobbette had a broad smile on her face. She would be making the society pages. Soon she would be sitting in the gallery at Gordon House wearing one of those fancy hats she had always seen those women wear.
"What happen to your friend, that clown, Stewart? Have you invited him?”
"Sure, I have but I'm not sure he'll be attending. You know that his old girlfriend, April, is back in town. I understand that she and Morgana are engaged in a tug of war over him. So I suppose he has to sort that out before he shows up anywhere with either of them.”
“That girl, Morgana, is a fool. They might well make it into the Guiness Book of Records as the longest engaged couple.”
Bobbette laughed, quite aware that she had been the main reason for Stewart’s refusal to get married to Morgana. Now with April back in town she was feeling a bit jealous. But that was a route that she had vowed never to take again as she would be formalizing those vows next Saturday.
"I have to get my beauty sleep and plenty of it too, because I want to look fresh and lovely for you, darling. Aren’t you coming to bed?"
"I'm just going to take off this thing," Robert replied, referring to the condom.
"Won't you be happy, after next week not having to use it. I bet you’ll get me pregnant the first time you do it without one.”
"I won't miss, you can bet on that," he told her before going into the bathroom.
"I can't wait."
When he returned, she was on her back and sleeping. He turned off the light and joined her in the bed.
Monique and Morgana were in the living room Wednesday evening. Bev had phoned to say that she would be coming home late from campus. Darren was studying in his room.
"I don't want to pry into your life too much, Morgana, but I have to ask about Stewart.”
Morgana folded her hands in her lap.
"We had a bust up over Bobbette. I just know he was sleeping with her all the time I was away and even after I returned. He has always denied it. We haven’t talked to each other for more than a week now.”
"Do you still love him, dear?” Monique asked. “Don’t forget that Bobbette may have gone out of his life with her forthcoming marriage to Robert but April is back in town. I just don’t want any more fights between you and her over him.”
"Mummy, I can assure you that nothing like that will happen again. Those things only happened because I was so young in those days."
"There are other guys quite unlike Stewart out there. If he’s behaving like a cheater, you’ve got it in you to make the right decision. I’m not going to stand by and see him break your heart or you become a laughing stock.”
"I'm going to give him one more chance and that's it.”
Monique stood up.
"I'm going by Sally, you know that Billy and Tania are coming in on Thursday with their families.”
"Oh my gosh, I can't wait to see my cousins," Morgana shouted.
"I'll see you later," Monique said as she went through the front door.
April and Stewart were relaxing in his living room. She had come down to cook for him and he had complimented her about her cooking. It was minutes to ten o’clock and they weren’t planning on going clubbing but just keeping each other’s company. His cell phone rang and both of them wondered who it could be. She told him that he shouldn’t answer it. He told her that it might be an important call and pressed the call button. Morgana was on the line.
"Hi, Stewart, I just thought I would give you a call. Can we meet to discuss our relationship?”
April was about to ask who was on the line when he put his finger across his mouth beckoning her into silence.
“Sure, anytime, you make the date and the time."
"I was thinking about tomorrow at Betty's Hideout," she said. “Make it around five thirty.”
"Okay, darling, I’ll be there and sweet dreams,'' he told her and ended the call.
"I can bet it was Morgana," April said.
"Damn her, here I am doing her work for her and all she wants to do is to meet you. I don’t know what you want to meet her for."
“It’s she who wants to meet me. I don’t want to see her.”
"Suppose she decides to check up on you one of these nights? If it was me, I would have caught you already. Anyway, I’m not afraid of her. Tell her that you’re sleeping with me and that I’m back in your life full-time now."
"I’ll do that and probably ask her back for my ring. I can remember this party her boss had for her, Rick and Brad and I invited Bobbette there. So I told Bobbette to leave before me. So when I told Morgana that I was leaving, she was looking all over the place for Bobbette.”
"I suppose you went to sleep with Bobbette. You’re too wicked. She’s daft not to have realized that once Bobbette was there without her boyfriend you would have gone to sleep with her. As for that Bobbette, I remembered when I used to confront her about you, how innocently she used to behave. I should have given her a real beating.”
“So you don’t believe what I told you about her.”
“Of course not, I’m not that naïve.”
"As I told you I only went with Bobbette after you left and Morgana was treating me real bad. She was only willing to spend evenings with me and some Saturdays and Sundays, but she wouldn’t overnight with me and most of the times she only wanted us to talk.”
“I’m glad you’re talking about her in the past tense, you have me now and before that you had Bobbette so what are you worrying about? The less I hear about Bobbette the better it is for both of us. Did you say that Rick and Brad are back in Jamaica?”
“Bobbette isn’t around again. As for Brad and Rick, yes, they’re back with big jobs in their dads’ firm. Morgana went out with Brad and Bev was pursuing Rick but apparently Celia scared her off. Dania and Celia went to fight Morgana believing that Brad was trying to romance her, but they ended up fighting a girl called Jenna. Dania and Brad broke up soon after and he’s now friendly with Jenna.”
"How interesting, I've brought a change of clothes so I’ll be spending the rest of the night with you.”
"No problem, it's always nice to feel your soft body beside me.”
"I wonder if every time Morgana came to look for you, she didn’t go through your drawers looking for women’s clothing,” she said, getting up off the bed and heading for the bathroom. When she returned, she said.
“I'm so tired that I wonder if I’ll be able to wake up in time to give you some good loving.”
` Stewart went and turned off the lights.
"I'll wake you up at the right time," he said.
But he doubted if she heard him. What the hell was Morgana phoning him about? He would threaten to embarrass her by turning up at Sally's wedding with Treena. After all, he had gotten an invitation to the wedding and was free to do as he pleased. Maybe she’d threaten to return his ring. So what, he could always take it to a jeweler and let them melt it down and he’d probably give it to Treena.
Maybe he would really take her to the wedding as he had been threatening to do. He would tell Morgana that he saw her coming to the wedding and gave her a lift. He would spend his time between them both.
But then with nobody knowing her they would know he was lying. But then people show up at all kinds of functions uninvited. Maybe he would try it just to make Morgana realize that Bobbette may have left him but there were still other women who cared for him. He would tell Treena that it was one of his social girlfriend’s aunt who was getting married and she had invited him. But what if Morgana wanted to monopolize his time on the dance floor? He wouldn’t let her. He would tell Treena that Morgana was the social girlfriend he was talking about and she was one of his friend’s fiancé but he was away on a three month training course. It was worth a try he thought.
Stewart was at Betty's Hide-Out for a half-a-hour during which time he drank a stout and smoked two cigarettes before he saw Morgana’s car drive in.
He was ordering a second time when she took her time and came over to his table.
She was dressed in her office uniform. This time she was wearing a gray pants suit with a pink striped blouse. The suit accentuated her curves. Her hair was straightened out and was down to her shoulders. He saw several men shamelessly ogling her as she swayed her lovely hips over to where he was seated.
"Well hello, Mr. Brown, how’s everything? It's ages since I’ve seen you,” she said as she sat down.
"So it's Mr. Brown now, how formal can we get?"
"I want us to start over and see if we can work things out between us. We can let bygones be bygones. I’m willing to forgive your indiscretions of the past if you’re willing to do the same for me though they pale in comparison to yours.”
"I won't comment on what you've said, but let's try not to ignite any fires. I’ll order something for you and we can drink to our reconciliation. Maybe we can even go to Corners to celebrate. At least I want to go, to show how happy I am that you’re willing to forgive me.”
Stewart ordered his stout and a canned soda for her.
"Are you coming to Sally's wedding?"
"I don’t think Sally would forgive me if I missed that wedding. I know she wouldn’t mind me being a part of your lovely family."
"You aren't showing much interest these days and what have you been doing all this time?” she asked as their drinks arrived.
"Remember, it's the night of our reconciliation. As to what I’ve been doing, I’ve been thinking about you. I didn’t want to call you because you were so angry with me the last time. But I was more than glad when you called. I’ve missed you honey, let’s not try to stay apart this long again.”
He drank some more of his stout. She drank some more of her soda. She looked at him and said.
"I thought you would have noticed that I’m no longer wearing your engagement ring.”
She showed him her bare ring finger.
Stewart could only stare at her finger.
"What have you done with it?''
"I have it in my bag," she replied, taking it out and putting it on the table.
"Why aren’t you wearing it?"
"Do you think I should continue doing that? People should only wear these things if they are in love and have clear intentions to marry.”
"So what did you mean by us reconciling if you don't want to wear my ring again?”
"I'm going to keep this ring and I'll only put it on again when I feel the time is right."
"So if you’re no longer my fiancé, what are you then?"
"I'm not even your girlfriend again. If you want to win my heart again, you’ll have to start all over.”
Stewart could feel his temper rising. April didn’t want him to meet her again. He had to keep them apart because he knew that April would fight her. April couldn’t tell him what to do. She just believed that Morgana had left him hence her pressuring him to cut all ties with her by asking her back for his ring. As far as Treena was concerned, she knew that he had a fiancé. He had told her that her name was April and he had also told her about meeting her to sort out some difficulties between them.
"What does not being my girlfriend again mean? Does it mean that other men can try to flirt with you?
"That's a stupid question. You know that not even a married ring will stop other men from trying to flirt with a woman.”
Stewart knew he had blundered. He remembered Belinda Martin. Belinda’s husband, Landon would drop her at work at six thirty in the mornings. Stewart would pick her up at seven o’clock. They would spend forty five minutes making love before he dropped her back at work. Nobody, except maybe a few enlightened co-workers suspected that she had a lover. Nobody, that was until one morning he dropped her at her office to hear her husband uttering one expletive after another. He had returned to deliver something his wife had forgotten in their sports utility vehicle and none of her colleagues knew where she was. Her cell phone was turned off and here was this stranger bringing her back to work.
Stewart had to beat a hasty reverse out of the parking lot and owed it to his driving skills and knowledge of side roads in eluding her pursuing husband. Then there was a host of other escapades that he didn’t want to think of what he had done to elude other women’s husbands after they caught him in bed with their respective wife or suspected him of being their wife or girlfriend’s lover.
"I would willingly marry you, but I have to make some more money.”
"I’m not pressuring you to marry me. Anyway, why would I want to marry you if I’m afraid to continue wearing your engagement ring?”
"Hey, why don't we go to Corners and try to unwind. I think too much tension is building up here and we might end up quarrelling with each other again.”
"Sure, I agree," she said. "Are you coming to Brad's little house warming party tomorrow night?”
"I thought Brad was still living at his parent's home. Where does he live now?”
"On Renford Avenue in Constant Spring Gardens."
"Sure, I'd like to come if you’ll be there.”
"It should be fun," she said as they got up and made their way to their cars.
As Stewart went to his car he thought that with Morgana no longer wearing his ring it had given him more impetus to take Treena to Sally’s wedding. That might make her do a re-think. In fact, he was almost certain that she would start wearing it after the wedding.
Friday afternoon Greg was having his farewell lunch with Celia. There were waiting on their lunches to arrive having finished their appetizers. They were at Dyce’s Restaurant on Ripon Road. Greg was having local curry goat and locally produced food while Celia was having stew beef and rice and peas.
"Celia, I'm pleased that you haven't heard from that guy, Teddy, again. You know, sometimes these guys use up a lot of drugs and it just messes up their brains. Trust me, that guy looks like a clear case of drug abuse.”
"He wasn’t like that when we started to talk."
"He's probably history now," Greg said as their food arrived and they started to eat.
"Up to now you haven't told me if you’re still seeing Sheryll?”
"No, we broke up long before I went away. I'm surprised that you didn’t know that. I understand she’s seeing one of those deejays. I can’t remember his name. I have a girlfriend up there, Lorrie-Ann’s her name; she’s Jamaican. We’re just going for the time being.”
"In other words, it's nothing serious. A guy like you, girls should be lining up to talk to you.”
"You know how it is. When you have a strong personality and is a no-nonsense type of guy like I am, lots of girls will shy away.”
"I know how it is. I certainly have some busy weekends ahead of me. Rick’s distant cousin, Brad, has this little house opening on Saturday night and the next two weeks after that I have weddings to attend,” she said.
"Then when is your wedding date?"
"That's a question I can't think about right now. Sometimes I wonder if I made a mistake in going to live with a man. Now he gets comfortable with me that the furthest thing from his mind is marriage.”
"Maybe you’ll have to give Rick an ultimatum."
“I certainly know of a few ways that a woman could use to get a reluctant groom to the altar, but as far as I’m concerned the success rate has been rather poor,” Celia replied as she finished her meal and pushed away her plate.
She put a straw into her orange juice. Greg was drinking a stout, he had also finished his meal.
"I suppose that Rick will sooner than later realize that he can’t do without you and put on the ring.”
"I'm not holding my breath on that one. So you’re still going to school over there?”
"You know that information technology was always my field. I want to do my Masters and return to Jamaica to set up a computer lab.”
"Wow, you'll be big that time."
"You have to aim for the sky. So what about you? I’m sure that you haven’t given up studying.”
"They have so many universities and colleges out here now, but since I’m in the insurance field I’m pursuing the Chartered Institute examinations. After that I might just do my Masters.”
“That's good. I’ll give you a call before I leave tomorrow. I have your number so when I go up I’ll call you from time to time,” he said as he paid the waiter for their lunch and drinks. Both of them embraced each other before going to their respective cars.
Friday evening Bishop was at his base when his telephone rang.
"Bishop, Duke on the line. What happen to the marijuana smoker? Your boys have been out there too long without catching him and time is running out. The reward runs out in another month.”
"I understand that he’s hiding out in St Catherine. We’re trying our best to locate him. He robbed a client of mine and we’re setting a trap for him.”
"Have you tried to locate the gun and are you sure that he still has it?”
"He has it, I'm sure of that. My men have been trying to locate the marijuana bases and some known dealers in an effort to find him but with no luck so far. We found the girl he was along with but she has no idea where he could be.”
“You said he robbed a client of yours. The best thing is to put a man to watch that client. As I said, time is running out. You check his dead brother’s records to find out if you can make a connection?"
"We’ve tried out that avenue but with no success. It appears that his parents died years ago and since he left the area he hasn’t been back. We have some of our guards watching the man he held up too.”
"We have to get him because people are complaining. You might not only lose a million dollars but also your freedom,” the Duke warned and hung up.
Bishop was awash with perspiration as the call ended, despite the room being air-conditioned. Stan had slipped through because of an error when his tail went to buy food and returned to find his car gone. He had cursed the man as a fool and promptly fired him. The marijuana smoker hadn’t turned up at his flat where there were operatives waiting to nab him. The more men he put out there the more it was costing him and the prospects of showing a profit on this particular operation were diminishing the longer Stan remained out in the cold. Sometimes he wondered if Stan was really as stupid as he had at first thought. He had to give him credit for slipping through the traps he had set for him. The only hope was that he would strike at that guy, Marsh again.
“All my friends are telling me that you and Beverly Simmonds are friends,” Leona commented as they sat in Edith Chin’s bar and grill.
“Bev is only a friend of mine. I don’t see what’s wrong with that.”
Glen was drinking a malt beverage and Leona was having an energy drink.
“Her boyfriend has left her and so maybe you make an easy target for her. One of my friends said that she saw you out with her.”
“So they did, I don’t see why anybody should go to you with that.”
“I suppose I could go out with any guy I please and you wouldn’t say anything.”
“I see you talking a lot to Duncan Sawyers and I’ve never asked you about him.”
“Duncan and I are just friends.”
“Just like Bev and I.”
He ordered another malt beverage for himself and another energy drink for her.
“Do you want us to continue with this relationship?”
“I know what you want. You want to leave me and be with your girlfriend. You wouldn’t mind if I tell you yes so that you can go to her.”
“Every time we meet you always find something to complain about. You wanted to live with me and I to support you and now you’re on the subject of Bev and me.”
“I can’t get over the fact that everywhere we go and you see her, the two of you are always playing around and you love dancing together.”
“That doesn’t prove anything. I’ve told you already that we’re just good friends. So I don’t see why you’re prolonging the argument.”
“You don’t have to shout at me. I won’t stand for it. I thought we were having a civil conversation, not a shouting match.”
Glen stood up.
“Listen, when you stop behaving like a child, then we can talk. Until then so long,” he said. He paid his bill, went to his car and drove off.
Leona sat there looking at the empty parking space which Glen had just driven out of. He had never behaved like this before. A few of her friends were telling her to confront Bev about their relationship. She saw a few men looking in her direction and not wanting to be the subject of any unwanted attention she went to her car, ignoring the catcalls and drove off.
The music was low at Brad's house warming party as most of the staff at Newman and Graham Limited came to celebrate with him. Some of his neighbors and former high school friends were also there. Surprisingly the pastor at his mother’s church, came to bless his apartment and to wish Brad a safe and fruitful life and friendship with his neighbors.
After the pastor left, several domino and card games were quickly put in place. Morgana, Maria and Jenna served as waitresses, taking out drinks and finger-foods to the guests. Jaimie and Kaileen ran up and down in the block playing with the children. Stewart came and he got involved in several domino games. Rick was there with Celia. She said hello to Morgana, but most of the time Morgana saw her drinking mostly fruit juices. Glen and Bev turned up but didn’t stay long.
Everybody knew that the festivities would end at midnight, so as soon as it came around to that time most of the guests started drifting away. Brad thanked them for coming. Morgana and Maria helped Jenna with the cleaning up. After all the guests had gone home, Brad dropped Jenna home.
Greg flew out Saturday afternoon. He didn't have time to call Celia as the vehicle transporting him developed a flat and they had to spend time changing the tire. Then they ran into a police roadblock and lost time again as the police checked the driver’s documents.
Linton and Kedija had come through another week where serious doubts were being cast about their relationship. Linton wasn’t coming up with the answers she was looking for. Some of her friends advised her to dump him. Others told her stick around and pressure him. Try to get things out of him. The apartment he rented was furnished. The same people advised her to let him get an unfurnished apartment, probably taking out a mortgage on it in both of their names. Finally, she should sell her car and let him help her to finance a new one.
Kedija wanted something out of the relationship and if Linton wasn’t prepared to give it, she would have to break off with him.
Stan lay in his bed relaxing. He had smoked and drank off all the cigarettes and liquor he had taken from the bar in Laughingale last week. Whenever he smoked the marijuana it always made him hungry.
He was tempted to buy some coke, but he remembered
that was what had messed up Talbert. He had given him thousands of dollars, but each time he saw him he was always broke. He had spent all his money on coke that he had to be hiding from him. Stan was always careful about buying his marijuana, making sure that they didn’t mix it with cocaine to get him hooked.
Linton was being guarded so to try to hold him up again would be almost suicidal. Tuesday night he had gone to Swallowfield and observed his former house and realized that new tenants lived there now. He didn’t ask any questions and he doubted if anybody who knew him would have recognized him. He drove away realizing that Bishop’s men might still make sweeps of the area believing that he might show up there to find out what had happened to his possessions. He knew that even if he found Natalie there was nothing that he could do. She would have realized that there was a reward out for him. She would probably have given her neighbors a description of him such as marks to look for on his face. These people would be quite willing to hold him and share the reward money. Everybody in Hepburn Grove knew him as Talbert Gabbidon. He was also sporting a bald head and he looked nothing like the pictures of him, they were displaying and offering a two million dollar reward.