Well, after a wonderful week with my wife, we finally returned home after enduring a 40-hr trek home thanks to a cancelled flight and multiple delays. (I was really happy to be back on U.S. soil) Add to that, yesterday morning, this stubborn Marine was smart enough to listen to his wife and go to the walk-in clinic where I promptly tested positive for the flu. The rest of the day I spent in bed shivering. Fun times that I don't recommend for any of you:)
But I'm on the mend and happy to get back to our story. I'll ease in considering my still fuzzy brain, but my deadline for January 31st still stands. I hope you all had a wonderful first quarter of January. I sense good things happening for 2015. Let's see how we can make it even better...
(CAUTION: The following contains unedited material that may be unsuitable for the grammatically inclined. Keep in mind that I don’t review what I write until after the first draft of the whole novel is done, so please keep your spelling and grammar fixes until the Beta Reader rounds.)
Montego Bay, Jamaica
1:34pm, December 7th
Rear Admiral Joseph Gower nodded to the Jamaican customs agent who looked as bored as anyone he’d ever encountered. It made him wondered how diligent their screening process really was. Then again, who was trying to bring illegal substances into Jamaica?
He grabbed his civilian passport from the counter and made his way to the Sandals lounge. A bubbly concierge named Martha greeted him and ushered him inside where she said he could have his pick of complimentary snacks, soda and Red Stripe beer on tap. He would’ve loved even a flimsy plastic glass of beer, but he opted for a bottle of water instead.
Five minutes later, his date arrived, taking in the lounge like a child seeing Mickey Mouse for the first time.
“It’s so pretty!” she exclaimed as she set her carry-on bag next to him and kissed him on the cheek. “I won’t even ask what you paid for all this.”
Gower shrugged as if it didn’t matter and that nothing was too good for her. In fact, he hadn’t plunked down a nickel for the trip. The man he was supposed to be meeting face-to-face for the first time had insisted he come.
The Navy admiral had at first refused, citing work as an excuse, when in reality he really just couldn’t picture himself on the impoverished island. Although he didn’t come from money, Gower appreciated the things that money bought. He believed that America was a shining example of that fact. Go to most U.S. metropolitan areas and you’d find clean street and a safe environment. It was one of the reasons he’d gone into the service, to preserve that way of life.
He had friends who paid ungodly amounts of money to visit places like Africa, Haiti and Vietnam. Gower had always preferred to stay in the continental U.S. enjoying the luxuries that his service to his country had bought.
But then he’d mentioned the proposed trip to his current girlfriend Nancy, a fifty-year-old administrative assistant who worked at the Pentagon. She was attracted to his position and he, well, he was attracted to the prospect of an occasional roll in the hay. The trip was all Nancy had talked about for the last week. He was sure it would lead to much hay-rolling.
Their names were called and a porter led them out to a waiting oversized van as he pushed a cart overflowing with luggage. Once he’d ensured his own bags were tucked neatly in the back of the vehicle, Gower boarded the mini-bus that was thankfully blasting cold air from overhead vents. He sat down next to Nancy who was gabbing away with another middle-aged woman a row back. He smiled and tried to seem sociable, but was glad when they started moving as it turned Nancy back to the task at hand.
Her hand rested on his leg and he briefly imagined her topless.
“Aren’t you excited, Joe? I swear if I hadn’t stopped by the ladies’ room that I might just pee in my pants.”
“I’m glad you like it,” he said. “Only the best for you.”
She kissed him on the cheek and then turned to look out the window with wonder. Gower imagined what she must be seeing. All he could take in was the contrast to the U.S. It reminded him of the couple times he’d visited Tijuana as brand new ensign. Trash littered the streets and natives just seemed to be hanging out for no better reason than they had now other place to be. There were even multiple signs advertising personal security services as they drove away from the airport. What did that say for the state of the small island nation? Gower was glad they’d soon be ensconced in they all-inclusive resort.
An hour later, they were over halfway to their destination in Ochos Rios. The driver asked his passengers whether they’d like to stop to use restrooms up ahead.
“Discovery Bay is just up the hill,” he announced. “It is where Christopher Columbus first discovered Jamaica.”
There were impressed murmurs from some of the other passengers, but Gower wanted to roll his eyes. He resisted the urge and raised his hand instead.
“I wouldn’t mind stopping for a quick bathroom break,” he said.
There was a barely concealed groan from someone in the back, but he ignored it.
The request didn’t dampen the driver’s spirits. “All good, mon. One minute.”
Two minutes later, Gower stepped off the bus and made a bee-line for the restroom. After relieving himself, he took a circuitous route back to his ride and found a spot overlooking Discovery Bay. It was nothing too impressive in his opinion. They’d made sort of any open-air museum in tribute to Columbus’s landing, complete with a replica wooden ship’s bow that allowed visitors to take in the view of the bay below.
He made his way there and was soon joined by another man who seemed consumed with taking pictures of the vista.
Without stopping what he was doing, the man said, “Look on the ground against the wooden railing.”
Gower did as instructed and found a small paper brown shopping bag. He picked it up and inspected the contents. There were a couple Jamaican baubles along with two bottles of water and an envelope.
He looked up from his perusal but the man with the camera had already moved on. Gower ripped open the sealed envelope and smiled at the stack of traveler’s checks. Under the money were instructions for the next day’s meeting. While he understood the need for the secrecy, he wondered if his host was taking things too far.
Gower wouldn’t question it though. The thousands in his hands were a tiny crumb compared to where things were headed. If his new friend wanted to play spy, so be it. As long as he kept his promises, the career Navy man would go along. After all, what were a few meaningless games and a trip overseas compared to millions flowing into your bank account?
I NEED YOUR IDEAS: I've commissioned by designer to come up with a cover for another Daniel Briggs installment to follow Adrift. The sample is below. I need your help to come up with a title, preferably one or two words. Premise is similar to Daniel's first book: in another small town, struggling with his demons when he stumbles on a local conspiracy. Give me your ideas in the Comments section below.
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