As I came around a bend of the beach, I saw that the previously well raked sand was now riddled with the footprints of the hundreds of beach goers who had swarmed this tropical paradise for spring break. White beach chairs and colorful umbrellas dotted the landscape like the rainbow points to an exclamation mark of fun that seemed far removed from what I was dealing with. And there— lying like a gleaming goddess cooking in the bright sun— lay my best friend and the object of my search. Calling on a second or what felt like fifth wind to give me a last burst of speed to get to her, I sprinted to a skidding halt by her lounge chair.
Sand sprayed up from my abrupt stop, sticking to whatever she had greased herself up with. With frustrating slowness, one of her graceful and tan hands lifted to tilt the sunglasses that perched on her nose to peer at me from chocolate brown eyes. “Jamie, please tell me that what I think happened didn’t and you aren’t about to ruin a perfectly wonderful vacation?”
At her slow drawl, I shoved a hand into my ruffled and sweat filled blond hair and tried to catch my breath so I could speak. All I could get out was a painful wheezing. I wasn’t a runner, not in everyday life.
She tilted the glasses back into place and a delicate but long fingered hand flicked back her dark mane of hair in irritation as she sat up. Using a blanket to dab at the sand on her legs, she began to fill the emptiness that my inability to speak was creating. “You messed up what could have been a perfectly good meal ticket because of your oddball morals?”
Finding my voice I was quick to disagree. “Steve wanted me to invest in his money making scheme. Then he had the audacity to get drunker than a skunk and try to maul me. I can’t see how my oddball morals—“
Holding up one hand to stop me, she stood. “So now we have to ride on that cute little ship of his in a cloud of animosity because you said something you shouldn’t have?”
“No!” I bit my lip. “Now we have to get off the island as quickly as possible because I took this.”
Opening my hand, which had been clenched in a fist up to this point, a gleaming stone brighter than a drop of blood fell from my hand to dangle at the end of its golden chain. Diamonds encrusted the gem, leaving it looking like the gaping maw of some mythical creature.
Now, finally, Bette froze. “You stole the Gryffin’s Mask from him?”
I shuffled from foot to foot on the hot sand while wadding the necklace back up in my hand. “It belongs in a museum. I don’t care how that little toad found it, it isn’t something that should be sold on eBay or where ever else he would have thought to dump it. And I—“
“You,” she poked one finger into my chest for emphasis, “Are a soft hearted loon. He is going to come for that. We need to get back to the states and—“
“And there is another problem.” I grimaced and looked down at my sandy feet. “I don’t have my passport. I have no clue how we are going to get home without that.”
Coming toe to toe with me, she again tilted the dark glasses down to glare at me. “You are very good at making problems. Let’s get margaritas and see if I can wiggle us out of them.”