Julia Mason checked her watch. Ten minutes went by, then thirty, forty and then about an hour. She stopped and listened. Had she walked right by the place she was staying at? She stood bewildered. Her clothes were wet, and her hair hung in wilted strands around her face.
But no --, she began to hear voices, and familiar sounds. A car door slammed and voices echoed through the billowing gray. Cooking odors wafted from a restaurant's kitchen. Suddenly a familiar sign loomed just in front of her that read, Surfside Beach and Tennis Club! She was safe!
The next day dawned clear and Julia stood on the balcony of her condo and watched the sun come up over the ocean. For a few moments just then, the world was cast in pink. Tiny clouds formed a network of white lace in front of the glow. A long v-shaped parade of gulls glided by and gently tipped the white capped waves in their flight.
The island was twelve miles long and shaped like a high top shoe. The brochure had said one main street ran through the length of the town. No advertising or street signs were allowed to clutter the landscape except on each corner, a small discreet listing of the businesses was displayed on a subdued colored sign. The suburbs were called plantations with locked gates and twenty-four hour guards. Each area contained businesses, homes and golf courses, The colors were muted shades of greys, browns and blues, so as not to distract from the uniqness of the blazing plant life.
Julia decided to have breakfast first, on her way to explore the island. She dressed with care, wearing another of her new outfits. This time a long avocodo skirt with fringes on the botton, an overblouse cinched with a gold belt and gold and white sandals. She pinned her hair up in a knot on the top of her head and glancing at herself in a mirror, she now looked like a completely different person. Great, she smiled at her reflection. No one knows me here, I can be anyone I want to be.
She called Reno and his white limousine sped up to her door a few minutes later.
"Good morning Miss Mason. Where to?" He asked importantly and his eyes lingered on her as he held the car door.
"Reno," she said, "Would you take me to a nice restaurant please."
"The diner then," he remarked and they drove off.
"How was your first day," he asked and swung around quickly in his seat for a peek at her as he drove. "Do you mind if I call you Julia?"
He sure was getting friendly, Julia thought uneasily but went on. "Well, " she grimaced,"I got caught in the fog when I went out to walk by the water,"
"Oh no--," and he clapped a hand to his forehead, "I forgot to warn you, bad weather comes in fast here by the ocean. What did you do?"
"Julia," he said then, "I live near here right off the beach, Why don''t I come by and get you and go with you on your walks. I can keep you safe."
Her eyes met his in the rear-view mirror. He was young, and much too intense.
Not knowing how to get out of this situation, Julia replied, "well maybe--".
The Diner was in a upscale hotel. The host sat her at a table and placed a menu in front of her. The room was full and the air delicaately laced with the cool air-condioning and the expensive colognes from the people sitting around her. All were elegantly dressed and their conversations spirited.
Self-consciously, Julia tucked her Timex watch under on her wrist and was glad she'd bought her new clothes even if they'd been on sale. She took out the same pack of cigarettes she'd brought from home, but instead of using her old Cricket lighter, she reached for the book of matches on the table suplied by the resaturant. And then even though her fingers shook she dared take the long elegant cigarette holder she'd bought on a whim out of her purse and in inserted it over her Marlboro. Carefully taking a small drag of the cigarette so she wouldn't cough, she blew the smoke out and toward the ceiling. Damn she must look good, she decided.
She ordered an omelette, then jumped in alarm as a man's voice said "paardon me lady, may I join you for coffee?"
Julia looked up into the steely eyes of a tall stranger, dressed in white shorts, a white t-shirt. His legs were tanned and powerfull.
"Well--," she said hesitating as a chill moved up her chest, and not even waiting for her answer, he pulled out a chair and sat down.