Linton had told everybody about his encounter with the hold-up man. Some persons warned him that he shouldn’t have gone to the automatic teller machine with the gunman. Linton had countered that the man had a gun and a knife on him and there was little more he could have done. He had thought of getting a license to carry a gun. Other people advised him that he would only be attracting more danger to himself as most times they came after the gun too, and was likely to kill you if they found out that you’re the owner of one. So that afternoon he sat opposite security consultant, Eric Bishop, in the Haining Road offices of his firm, Cardinal Security Consultants.
“I remember who that guy is. He’s Stan Lubsy. There were two brothers and they used to give a lot of trouble. I’ve checked around and heard that the other brother is dead.”
What Linton had just said was music to Bishop’s ears. He smiled.
“You said that the man boasted of having killed a banker and a Chinese businessman. I have an interest in those two cases as both men were clients of mine.”
“You gave me a description of the man. You also said that he had a car parked on St. Lucia Avenue. Can you give me a description of the car and do you know what direction he went after he left you?”
Linton was only able to give him the color of the car, but couldn’t give him the make, model or license number or the direction the gunman went.
“I’m thinking of applying for a gun license.”
It wasn’t the first time that Bishop was hearing a distraught hold-up victim vowing to get a gun to use on his attackers the next time they struck.
“I always advise my clients that they should have some expertise in using a gun before they start carrying one around. You said you were in the States. Did you carry one over there?”
“No, I never thought I would need one. Nothing like that ever happened to me.”
They agreed terms. Linton would phone Bishop’s headquarters any night he went partying and he would get two guards to escort him home. Once he was safely home they would do two or three sweeps of the area to ensure that everything was okay. A panic alarm switch was also to be installed in Linton’s apartment.
After they left Crystal's nightclub Friday night Brad and Jenna decided to take a night off from their almost nightly session of lovemaking.
"So, Brad, when are you moving into your new apartment?"
"This Sunday, aren't you coming to decorate the place for me? It’s a bachelor’s pad.”
"Who is going to cook for you and do your laundry?"
"Our helper, Miss Della, will continue to do my laundry and I suppose for dinner I could come by you in the evenings.”
"I can't believe you’d love my cooking. I could help out with the laundry. Tell you what, you get them washed and I’ll do the ironing.”
"I'm having a little house warming party. It’ll be mostly people from my office. It’s nothing big and we’ll just be talking and socializing. We won’t have any music as we don’t want to disturb my neighbours. You, Jenna, will act with me as co-host.”
"Me, I possibly can't, you know how shy I am."
"I can't believe that you are shy. You're my woman so I expect you to stand by my side.”
She laughed and said.
"I'm not your wife. Anyway, I'll come and get to meet all of your colleagues, friends and relatives.”
"I'd certainly like to see those two lovebirds, that tall guy and that girl. Are they still together?”
"I don't know. Come to think of it, I haven't heard her talking much about Stewart these days.”
"That girl is a fool to be involved with a guy like that."
"I think they have been together a long time. They’ll certainly have to work out things between them.”
"I want to go to bed now," she said getting up.
Brad went home in the early morning.
“Glen, I can’t let my mother know that I’ve gone out with you,” Bev said. They were at Reason’s nightclub. Both of them knew that they would have been sure to be recognized had they gone to any of the other venues like Corners, Ruddys or Crystals.
They were seated at one of the small tables and having a drink. Glen’s relation with Leona was on a downward spiral and although they still talked they hadn’t gone out for a few weeks now.
They got up to dance again. They stayed on the dance floor, dancing to several genres of music. Bev had agreed to go out with Glen for the first time. She had gotten tired of staying home and worrying about Rory and she still hadn’t heard anything from him. She didn’t anticipate any problems with Leona as they weren’t on a date or anything. As far as she was concerned, it was just two good friends who had agreed to go out.
For a Friday night the crowd wasn’t all that big at Reasons but that was the way it was as probably most of them were at the other more popular nightclubs. Nevertheless the fans were dancing to the music and soaking up whatever liquor was available.
Glen wanted to steer the argument away from Rory nor would he talk to her about Leona.
Bev tried to put her uneasy feelings out of her mind but just couldn’t. First she had been stealing love with Rick, who was Celia’s boyfriend. Now here she was with Glen who was Leona’s boyfriend. Although she and both women weren’t friends, she would feel guilty if she ever went to bed with another woman’s man.
“I know how you feel, Bev, but let’s enjoy the night. We’ve danced together before, but it’s the first time we’re going out together”
“I called Rick last night. Jovita and I were talking and then Justin Ford rode up and was telling us about Buddho’s birthday party over at Lobban’s Lounge. After he left, Jovita and I started talking about guys and I suddenly got this inclination to call Rick.”
“It was nothing. I was just being foolish.”
“Would you like to go to Buddho’s party with me?”
“I don’t know. I wouldn’t want Leona to feel that there is something going on between us.”
“She has always felt that way. You’ve told me that your whole family feels the same way.”
“We aren’t doing anything to stop them from thinking that way.”
“Let’s do some more dancing,” he told her and they went on the dance floor again.
When they were back at their table, she said.
“Oh, I forgot to mention that Brad has his house-warming party next Saturday. Are you coming?”
“I didn’t get an invitation. So Brad has gone on his own now. I can’t wait, it’s sort of stifling living with your parents.”
“You could go with me and I don’t feel like you,” she remarked.
“As for Buddho’s party, we could go too but don’t forget that we have exams.”
“If my allowance could afford it, I would get an apartment and don’t worry, I wouldn’t fill it with girls, but just me alone and you could come and visit me anytime you wanted.”
“I’m glad that you’ll go to Budhoo’s party with me and I’ll go to Brad’s house opening with you.”
They did some more dancing and drinking before Glen dropped Bev home and then drove home.
Stewart and April went to Crystal’s night club. People were milling about in the club that Friday night. He knew that April would want to go to the whole circuit of nightclubs. He didn’t fear Morgana seeing him out with April. That might make her return to him faster, though he doubted it very much. His new girl, Treena, was sure to return for more of what she got Tuesday morning.
“You enjoying yourself, baby?” Stewart asked as they sat at their table.
“You know I always enjoy myself, especially when I’m with you.”
This was how April was before she went away. He was glad that she was no longer holding him in a negative light because of what he had done to her.
He ordered some more drinks for both of them. When they had finished drinking they returned to dancing.
When they returned to their table, she asked.
“Are you still living in Morris Mews?”
“Sure, I can’t afford to move more Uptown.”
“Somewhere like the Canrieves. Those Simmonds are really millionaires.”
“Their old man died and left a lot of money for them.”
“You’d be in the money if you had married her. You’d probably get to live in the Canrieves where everybody has at least a car, a swimming pool and everything else.”
“After Byron’s death, they dumped up the pool.”
“Oh, I didn’t know that.”
“What about the boat?”
“They never found it.”
“I wouldn’t marry a woman for her money,” Stewart said.
“Will you come by me tomorrow evening to spend some time and then we can go out.”
“I don’t know. I’ve not been back in the island two weeks yet and I get caught up with the man I wanted to avoid. When I was in the taxi coming from the airport I said I would just take it easy and find out how things are before I made any moves.”
“Why didn’t you call me so that I could come for you?”
“As I told you before I wanted to slip in under the radar and probably catch you off guard.”
“I’ll get some champagne and some nuts.”
“I’ll come about ten o’clock,” she said and he nodded.
They returned to dancing not leaving the nightclub until after one o’clock.
Morgana felt confused as she lay on her bed thinking. She had confronted Stewart about Bobbette on so many occasions and he had always denied it. Now the girl was getting married to her millionaire boyfriend. She had heard of relationships where one party leaves and gets married to another person, but it is as if nothing has happened as they still maintained the status quo. Could it be possible in this case, but she doubted it. Bobbette was a very ambitious girl and she doubted if she would risk her marriage and the millions of dollars she was coming into for a few more nights in Stewart’s arms. Was he free now or was April returning? Would it be wise of her to tell him that she wanted to get married? Would being married stop him from having other women? She doubted it. In a way sometimes she blamed herself. Her mother knew that they were lovers so why had she been afraid to spend nights and weekends with him? That may have kept away Bobbette. But it may have driven him into other women’s arms and she wasn’t sure that he wasn’t sleeping with other women apart from the two of them. There was even the possibility that the more time she spent in his bedroom the more familiar he would have gotten with her and probably get tired of her, eventually leaving her for another woman.
On the other hand, maybe when she returned and got engaged to him she should have set marriage as a condition for having sex with him again. She knew quite a few girls who had only lost their virginity in the marriage bed. Maybe that’s what she should have done. Maybe it was her own eagerness to find out what sex was all about. Once she started, it was as if she needed it and Stewart kept pushing the lever and it was as if she was helpless to tell him no. During their Easter weekend he had told her that when she was away, he had gone to Mandeville to spend all the holidays with his parents. She hadn’t been fooled because he seemed to know his way around the hotel and some of the waiters were even nodding to him as if he was a regular visitor.Marriage would mean commitment, but as far as she was concerned, all it meant was that he couldn’t walk out of it as he pleased. Morgana lay there in the darkness in deep thoughts and didn’t even know when she dropped off to sleep.
Glen and Bev went to Buddho’s birthday bash over at Lobban’s Lounge on the Port Henderson Road. Justin was there with four girls. This time he was driving a 2005 Toyota Prado. Jovita and her boyfriend, Tim, were also there as were Melissa and Kirk. It was a night of clean lyrics as most of the performers were only too aware of a strong police presence at the venue. Bev, Melissa and Jovita got a chance to tease Justin about his girls, but he denied that anyone of them was his girlfriend.
Stewart was sitting on a sofa in his apartment. Treena had come to him earlier in the evening. He hadn’t heard from Morgana and wouldn’t be calling her anytime soon. He had gotten an invitation from Sally but wouldn’t be attending the wedding unless he and Morgana were reconciled before then. He went to take a stout out of the refrigerator and had taken the first swallow when his cell phone rang. April was on the line.
"Stewie, what's going on? I’ll soon be there. I’m going to take a taxi down.”
“Okay, I’ll be here waiting for you,” he replied.
She told him that she was going to get ready before ending the call. April had always been a hot girl and Stewart remembered some great times with her both in and out of bed. While she didn’t look as good as Bobbette, she could certainly hold her own. It was because he had this date with her why he had sent Treena away so early. He told her that his fiancé would be coming to look for him later on that night. She had left and he could see the sadness on her face, but he had already pointed out to her that he had a fiancé whom he had no intention of marrying.
He had explained to Treena about the circumstances under which he came to be engaged to his present fiancé. Both of their mothers were best friends. One day while he was a few weeks past his eighteenth birthday his mother had driven him to her friend’s home. In the car she had explained that her friend’s daughter had a serious crush on him and she wanted him to meet her. Stewart wasn’t overly impressed, but his mother and the girl’s mother begged him and he finally agreed to be friends with her. They were engaged for more than seven years now and he wanted to break off with her, but their mothers were again begging him not to hurt her. He had further explained to Treena that they weren’t in an intimate relationship at the moment, so he didn’t know why she was coming to look for him. He thought that she was probably spying on him, hence her coming to his house at this time.
He had been going it over in his mind as to why he should still be willing to continue with Morgana. He was still angry with her for her continued bantering of Bobbette’s character. The girl was getting married and would soon be out of their lives so why was she on this quest to find out if he had slept with her.
Stan was hiding behind a wall waiting to pounce on Linton and his woman. He wanted at least one hundred thousand dollars from them both. He looked at his watch again and realized that it was minutes past nine. He hoped that Linton and his woman came out alone as it would make holding them up much easier. He had taken Linton’s watch, chains and rings when he held him up last week. From his hiding place where he was watching to see them going into the club he couldn’t observe much because of the darkness. He hoped that Linton had replaced the things he had taken from him.
Three hours later Stan was shocked to see Linton exiting the nightclub with his woman and Eric Bishop! He pulled further into the shadows when two other men came out of the club and joined Bishop. Guards! Stan thought. A trap was being set for him and Linton was being used as the bait. He wasn’t sure that Linton was baiting up himself to catch him or maybe he would have come outside alone. He saw Linton and his woman go to their vehicle and drive off. Two other cars containing Bishop and his bodyguards drove off after them. Stan crept out of his hiding place and went to his car. He had better get out of here fast as Bishop knew the type of car he drove and there was a possibility that they could have circled back and were looking for him.
Linton and Kedija had reached home now. Linton was all too ready to sleep, but Kedija wanted him to hear some of her grouses. She kept asking him if he was going to stay in Jamaica and about his plans for the future. She also wanted to know how long they were going to continue going around together.
Linton was confident that Stan wouldn’t try anything again. He wondered if he knew that there was a substantial reward being offered for his capture or killing. He had told Kedija about his experience with Stan and so they had to be guarded whenever they went out.
"Linton, I want to know what I should do? If I move in here with you full time, I want to know about the future.”
"I don't know what you’re worrying about. Don't I show you a good time? Aren’t you enjoying yourself? You don’t have to move in with me if you don’t want to.”
"We've been going around for more than a month now. When my parents ask me about you I don’t know what to tell them. I’m not sure that you’re staying in Jamaica especially after that ordeal you went through with that gunman. I don't want to give three months, a year, two years to any man and then he just packs and is gone and all I have left are the memories of the good times we shared.”
"Come, let's go to bed, I'm sleepy; tomorrow we can discuss this some more.”
"I won't be waiting around too long for answers," she stated as she came into the bed. They hugged each other close, as they tried to get some sleep, grateful for some rest after a week of partying and some passionate lovemaking. After a while Kedija pulled away from him so as to show her feelings towards him.
Stan was passing a district called Laughingale when he spied a bar being opened. He stopped his car but didn’t get out at once. It was about five miles from Hepburn Grove. Two men were sitting on bar stools drinking while another man was talking to the barmaid. Stan didn’t see anybody else. He wondered why a bar would be open this time of the morning. He got out of the car and made his way into the bar and ordered a beer.
He wondered if robbing this bar would be worth his time. He had lodged most of the money he had taken from Linton but was was feeling really disappointed at not being able to get some more money out of him. He called the bartender over and asked her where he could get some marijuana to buy.
“Lady, give me all the money you have,” Stan shouted as he pulled his gun and pointed it at the barmaid. He was positioned so that the three other men were in front of him.
“You, men, empty out your pockets and take off your shoes.”
“We don’t have any money,” the barmaid protested.
“I’ll murder all four of you if I don’t get any money.”
The men did as Stan ordered and he thought he wasn’t going to be lucky until he saw one of the men having difficulty pulling off the shoe off his right foot. Stan dragged off the shoe and deposited the man on the concrete floor. He put his hand into the shoe and dragged out some money wrapped in plastic. Stan pocketed it and turned to the others. The barmaid gave him a plastic bag and told him that it contained ten thousand dollars. Stan took cigarettes, liquor and an assortment of other drinks and put in his bag. He pointed his gun at the man whose shoe he had taken the money from.
“Anywhere I rob I always kill somebody there as a warning. Know anybody else around here who has money or marijuana?” Stan asked and when no one answered, he said.
“I’m going away now, you’re all lucky I don’t kill one of you.”
Stan went to his car and just as he was about to drive off another car pulled up with two men in it. He didn’t drive off immediately until the two men came out of the car and went into the bar.
When he reached home he counted out the money amounting to almost twenty thousand dollars in all. He drank some of the rum and smoked some marijuana before he went to bed.
"Stewart, what’s the matter with you? You wanted to make love to me the entire night,” April shouted as Stewart rolled off her in the early hours of the morning. He flopped down on his back beside her naked body.
Stewart hadn’t been able to get the goodies as he had promised. Instead they had gone out to dinner at Lowe’s Café and then dancing at Ruddy’s nightclub before returning home to make love.
"It's just so long we haven't been together, that your body felt so strange to me.”
"The way you were behaving. I have to say any woman's body would seem strange to you. Maybe Morgana wasn’t doing her work. That’s why you had to hold on to Bobbette for so long.”
Stewart didn't want to get into any discussions about Morgana. Nevertheless, much of what April said was true. Before Morgana returned, he had several women to choose from to sleep with. He thought those three years abroad would have matured her into realizing that she was no longer a teenager just coming out of puberty. But she was constantly telling him that she wanted to save herself for her husband and that was why she wasn’t overindulging in sex with him. Except, of course, one or two Sundays or Saturdays when they had marathon sessions of lovemaking and of course the last Easter weekend but those were not enough to satisfy him. He had gotten angry several times, asking her about the amount of times she went to bed with the guy she was sleeping with while she was abroad. She had retaliated and told him that if he was dissatisfied with the amount of times she was willing to go to bed with him, he could always go elsewhere. It seemed ironic that she should be complaining about his friendship with Bobbette.
“What are you talking about holding on to Bobbette? I don’t understand you.”
“Let’s not fool ourselves anymore. I was away and you were hardly sleeping with Morgana. It’s easy to assume that you were sleeping with Bobbette.”
Stewart didn’t know what to say. Before April went away he had always denied that he and Bobbette were lovers. Admitting to it now might make him look like a liar.
“I only became her lover after you went away and Morgana was really treating me badly.”
"Hush, Stewart, I'm back for good, now. I love what you do to my body. I know that you are engaged to Morgana. I can’t stop that again. I want us to come to some agreement. I won’t get into any fights with her unless I come here and see her. Warn her not to come here while I’m around.”
“She hardly comes here again.”
“I won’t mind if she doesn’t come back.”
April knew that with Bobbette out of the way with her forthcoming marriage to Robert it was she alone dealing with Stewart. As far as she was concerned Morgana had already left him.
"What kind of bargain do you want us to strike?" he asked, getting up off the bed to dispose of the condom.
April stood up too, showing off her lush figure. She was well proportioned and her hair was cut low these days. April did lots of exercises to firm up her body and was in great shape.
"I'll tell you what I want in good time. I'm going to take a bath and then you can drop me home.”
Rick celebrated his birthday at his parent’s home with a dinner at which only his father, step-mother, Celia and his siblings were present. Later on all of them went for a swim in the pool and the adults drank champagne and Celia helped Rick cut his birthday cake which she had helped Marjorie to bake. Rick’s younger brothers and sister would have gladly partaken in the champagne, but had to make do with fruit juices. Later on that night he and Celia went clubbing at Corner’s to celebrate with some of their friends.
Jenna, her son and niece helped Brad move into his new apartment on Renford Avenue. It was an unfurnished one bedroom apartment. Brad had bought his furniture from Courts, the giant multinational furniture and appliance conglomerate, that Friday and was there on Saturday to receive it from them. He had bought a bed, dresser, whatnot and component set all for cash. He got a lot of coupons to write up in their monthly draw. Jenna helped him fill them out. For each item he bought he got a gift, which he gave to her.
Sunday he moved in with the rest of his clothes. His mother had come down too. He knew that she would miss him now that he was going to live on his own. His father had few regrets, after all he would see Brad almost every day plus he could remember leaving his parent’s home almost thirty five years ago to live on his own. It was also the first time they were meeting Jenna and her son and niece and while they had been disappointed over his break-up with Dania, they loved Jenna and her effervescence and glib tongue. By eight o’clock that evening, Brad was just settling down. Jenna had put up curtains and arranged bathroom furnishings among other things. They had also gone out that Saturday to buy kitchen utensils. Brad had also bought a stove and a refrigerator at the same store.
Brad's mother worried that he would forget about church. She was a devout Christian like Rick’s step-mother and when she could drag Russell away from his various sports to go to church, she was very glad. Brad now sat relaxing and drinking some champagne.
"Don't drink too much, Brad. Remember you have to drop us home.”
Brad laughed and said.
"I could never drink enough of this champagne not to know what I’m doing on the road.”
"I don't want anything to happen to you and you can't be certain these days. They have police speed traps in the most unusual of places and they might breathalyze you.”
"Okay, I hear you, madam, and I'll cut down on my drinking. I suppose I can celebrate the real house opening on Saturday night. But you haven't told me whether you like my pad or not.”
"Of course I like it, remember I was the one always encouraging you to get somewhere so I can get to spend more time with you.”
"What’ll you do with Jaimie and Kailen?"
"Kailen is a big girl, I'm sure if I told her that I'm going to look for you she’d be glad to stay with Jamie.”
Jenna had hardly stopped speaking when Kailen came knocking on the door.
"Jaimie says he wants to sleep, Aunt Jenna."
Brad dropped them home and spent some time talking to Jenna before heading back to his apartment.
Monday evening Sally came by Monique to finalize plans for her wedding.
"I've sent out the full guest list and nobody has said that they can’t make it,” she told Monique.
Morgana and Bev were listening keenly to her.
"Are Brad and Rick coming, Morgana?" Monique asked.
“I'm sure they are. Bobbette is getting married the following week.”
"That's something I want to discuss with you, but it can wait for another day. Let’s get on with your marriage plans, Sally,” Monique declared.
“We've been through our counselling sessions. Reverend Jamieson wouldn’t marry us until we’ve been through it even though we protested that this was a second marriage for both of us.”
"Vernon didn't want a church wedding, but I insisted. Of course, dear Morgan, has agreed to be my bridesmaid. Vernon’s brother, Altimont,
will be his best man,” Sally continued.
“Old Uncle Tony will give you away, Sally," Monique said.
“I’ve asked Brad’s father to toast the bride and he has agreed. Vernon says his former boss will speak on his behalf,” Sally said.
“Mrs. Whitelock from Cherry Gardens will do the catering. She makes lovely wedding cakes,” Sally continued.
"You seemed to have everything covered, Sally," Monique said.
"I always try to do that. This takes me back to when I married Sid. Girl, can you remember those days? We danced up a storm.”
"I wonder who’ll catch your bouquet of flowers when you throw it, Aunt Sally?” Bev inquired.
“I see three stunning young women before me, I’m certain there must be several men out there, dying to make one of them his wife.”
"Not me, at the moment I don't even have a boyfriend," Bev declared.
“And my fiance and I are hardly on speaking terms. So it must be mummy,” Morgana stated.
"Yes, mummy, Uncle Val will be feeling a bit jealous when he sees Aunt Sally and Uncle Vernon walking down the aisle," Bev opined.
"There you girls go again. May I remind you that a married man has to be divorced first before he can re-marry. As far as I know Val is still married.”
"I hope he’ll hurry up and get divorced," Morgana commented.
“I'm not sure I'm ready to get married again. Marriage is a tough decision, ask Sally,” Monique told her two daughters.
"I'm getting them involved in every aspect of planning this wedding. The experience will come in useful when it’s their time,” Sally said.
"Talk about Bev, I don't know when I'll be walking down any aisle, not for now anyway,” Morgana put in.
"I do declare, I've said it before and I'll say it again. Stewart is going to lose you if he waits too long. As for you Bev, I'm glad you're being sensible about this love thing. It will pay off in the end,” Sally advised.
"Aunt Sally, how long have you known anybody to wear an engagement ring for?” Morgan asked.
"I've known women to wear it for years and never finally gotten married, but the longest I’d wear one for is six months and yours has passed that time. So if I were you, dearest, I would give Stewart an ultimatum. Either he sets a date or I give him back his ring, the nerve of him.”
"I don't think she could get better advice than that," Monique agreed with Sally.
"I'm going now. Poor Vernon must be at home dying of hunger,” Sally remarked, taking up her bag and van keys.
Monique followed her to the gate and watched her drive off. Returning inside she saw only Morgana as Beverly had gone up to her room to complete some school work.
"I’m going to a function with Val but one day this week I want us to have a serious discussion. I don’t want any of what I see happening to you to go on any longer.”
"Mummy, I can deal with it. You don't have to worry."
"Think about this, I saw April on the Mall on Saturday."
"April is back in Jamaica, I didn't know that."
"I'm going to get myself ready. Val is coming for me at around eight o’clock. Don’t wait up for me.”
Monique went upstairs to prepare herself. Morgana was left to think on the subject of April English.
She and April were the same age and Morgana could remember their first encounter. It had been a school fete and she had gone there hoping to spend the night in Stewart’s arms only to find him in April’s. Morgana had returned home in tears. Stewart had come to her with a story the next day that April had forced herself on him. She had chased him away and didn’t speak to him for the next two weeks but they had finally reconciled. In June of that year she and April had nearly come to blows over Stewart.
With April back in town it meant that she had another fight on her hands in keeping Stewart. Was it worth it, she wondered? Stewart was good looking, fun to be with, good in bed plus he was making good money and drove a good car. He was well educated and she was never bored when she was with him. Should she go her way or try to reconcile with him? After her talk with her mother, she would give him a call and find out what was going on. She wouldn’t ask him anything about April.