Heyward and Quartermain chipped onto the green, then waited with Stonebridge as the Honorable Harold, who had been playing erratically, shanked, laughed, flubbed, laughed, and finally chipped on.
The four men made a diverse foursome. G. G. Quartermain, towering above the others, was expensively immaculate in tartan slacks, a Lacoste cardigan, and navy suede Foot-Joys. He wore a red golf cap, its badge proclaiming the coveted status of a member of Lordly Cay Club.
The Vice-President portrayed stylish neatness double knit slacks, a mildly colorful shirt, his golfing footwear an ambivalent black and white In dramatic contrast was Harold Austin the most flamboyant dresser and a study in shocking pink and lavender. Roscoe Heyward was efficiently practical in dark gray slacks, a white, short-sleeved "dress" shirt and soft black shoes. Even on a golf course he looked like a banker.
Their progress since the first tee had been something of a cavalcade. Big George and Heyward shared one electric golf cart; Stonebridge and the Honorable Harold occupied another. Six more electric carts had been requisitioned by the Vice-President's Secret Service escort and now surrounded them on both sides and fore and aft like a destroyer squadron.
"If you had free choice, By," Roscoe Heyward said, "free choice to set some government priorities, what would they be?"
Yesterday, Heyward had addressed Stonebridge formally as "Mr. Vice-President,', but was quickly assured, "Forget the formality; I get weary of it. You'll find I answer best to 'By.' " Heyward, who cherished first name friendships with important people, was delighted.
Stonebridge answered, "If I had my choice I'd concentrate on economics restoring fiscal sanity, some balanced national bookkeeping."
Big G. Quartermain, who had overheard, remarked, "A brave few tried it, By. They failed. And you're too late." "It's late, George, but not too late."
"I’ll debate that with you." Big George squatted, considering the line of his putt. "After nine. Right now the priority is sinking this."
Since the game started, Quartermain had been quieter than the others, and intense. He had his handicap down to three and always played to win. Winning or turning in a sub-par score pleased him (so he said) as much as acquiring a new company for Supranational.
Heyward was playing with consistent competence, his performance neither flashily spectacular nor anything to be ashamed of.
As all four walked from their carts at the sixth tee, Big George cautioned: "Keep your banker's eye on the scores of those two, Roscoe. To a politician and an advertising man, accuracy's not a natural habit."
"My exalted status requires that I win," the Vice-President said. "By any means."
"Oh, I have the scores." Roscoe Heyward tapped his forehead. "They're all in here. On 1, George and By had fours, Harold a six, and I had a bogey. We all had pars on 2 except for By with that incredible birdie. Of course, Harold and I had net birds there, too. Everyone held par on 3 except Harold; he had another six. The fourth hole was our good one, fours for George and me (and I had a stroke there), a five for By, a seven for Harold. And, of course, this last hole was a real disaster for Harold but then his partner comes through with another bird. So as far as the match is concerned, right now we're even."
Byron Stonebridge stared at him. "That's uncanny! I'll be damned."
"You have me wrong for that first hole," the Honorable Harold said. "I had a five, not a six." '
Heyward said firmly, "Not so, Harold. Remember, you drove into that palm grove, punched out, hit your fairway wood short of the green, chipped long and two-putted." "He's right," Stonebridge confirmed. "I remember."
"Goddamn', Roscoe," Harold Austin grumbled, "whose friend are you?"
"Mine, by Godl" Big George exclaimed. He draped a friendly arm over Heyward's shoulders. "I'm beginning to like you, Roscoe, especially your handicap!" As Heyward glowed, Big George lowered his voice to a confidential level. "Was everything satisfactory last night?"
"Perfectly satisfactory, thank you. I enjoyed the journey, the evening, and I slept extremely well."
He had not slept well at first. In the course of the previous evening at G. G. Quartermain's Bahamas mansion it had become evident that Avril, the slim and lovely redhead, was available to Roscoe Heyward on any terms he chose. That was made plain both by innuendo from the others and Avril's increasing nearness as the day, then night, progressed. She lost no opportunity to lean toward Heyward so that sometimes her soft hair brushed his face, or to make physical contact with him on the slightest pretext. And while he did not encourage her, neither did he object.
Equally clear was that the gorgeous Krista was available to Byron Stonebridge and the glamorous blonde Rhetta to Harold Austin.
The exquisitely beautiful Japanese girl Moonbeam was seldom more than a fey: feet away from G. G. Quartermain.
The Quartermain menage, one of a half dozen owned by the Supranational chairman in various countries, was on Prospero Ridge, high above Nassau city and with a panoramic view of land and sea The house was in landscaped grounds behind high stone walls. Heyward's room on the second floor, to which Avril escorted him on arrival, commanded the view. It also afforded a glimpse, through trees, of the house of a near-neighbor the prime minister, his privacy protected by patrolling Royal Bahamian Police.
In late afternoon they had drinks beside a colonnaded swimming pool. Dinner followed, served on a terrace out of doors, by candlelight. This time the girls, who had shed their uniforms and were superbly gowned, joined the men at table. Hovering white-gloved waiters sewed while two strolling players added music. Companionship and conversation flowed.
After dinner, while Vice-President Stonebridge and Krista elected to stay on at the house, the others entered a trio of Rolls-Royces cars which had met them at Nassau Airport earlier and were driven to the Paradise Island gambling casino. There Big George played heavily and appeared to win. Austin participated mildly, Roscoe Heyward not at all. Heyward disapproved of gambling but was interested in Avril's description of the finer points of chemin de fer, roulette, and blackjack, which were new to him. Because of the hum of other conversations, Avril kept her face close to Heyward's while she talked and, as on the airplane earlier, he found the sensation not unpleasing
But then, with disconcerting suddenness, his body began taking greater cognizance of Avril so that ideas and inclinations which he knew to be reprehensible were increasingly hard to banish. He sensed Avril's amused awareness of his struggle, which failed to help. Finally, at his bedroom door to which she escorted him at 2 A.M., it was with the greatest effort of will particularly when she showed a willingness to linger that he did not invite her in.
Before Avril left for wherever her own room was, she swirled her red hair and told him, smiling, "There's an intercom beside the bed. If there's anything you want, press button number seven and I’ll come." This time there was no doubt of what "anything" meant. And the number seven, it seemed, was a code for Avril wherever she might be.
Inexplicably his voice had thickened and his tongue seemed oversized as he informed her, "Thank you, no. Good night." Even then his inner conflict was not over. Undressing, his thoughts returned to Avril and he saw to his chagrin that his body was undermining his will's resolve. It had been a long time since, unbidden, it had happened.
It was then that he had fallen on his knees and prayed to God to protect him from sin and relieve him of temptation. And after a while, it seemed, the prayer was answered. His body drooped with tiredness. Later still, he slept.
Now, as they drove down the sixth fairway, Big George volunteered, "Look, fella, tonight if you like I’ll send Moonbeam to you. A man wouldn't believe the tricks that little lotus blossom knows."
Heyward's face flushed. He decided to be firm "George, I'm enjoying your company and I'd like to have your friendship. But I must tell you that in certain areas our ideas differ." The big man's features stiffened. "In just what areas?" "I imagine, moral ones."
Big George considered, his face a mask. Then suddenly he guffawed. "Morals what are they?" He stopped the cart as the Honorable Harold prepared to hit from a fairway bunker on their left. "Okay, Roscoe, cut it your way. Just tell me if you change your mind."
Despite the firmness of his resolution, over the next two hours Heyward found his imagination turning to the fragile and seductive Japanese girl.