Page 19 of The Firm

"Good. Neither do I. What would you like to do?" She rubbed her breasts on his biceps and gave her best seductive smile, only inches away.

"I don't plan to do anything." He removed her hand.

"Aw, come on. Let's have some fun. Your wife will never know."

"Look, you're a very lovely lady, but you're wasting your time with me. It's still early. You've got plenty of time to pick up a real stud."

"You're cute."

The hand was back, and Mitch breathed deeply. "Why don't you get lost."

"I beg your pardon." The hand was gone.

"I said, 'Get lost.' "

She backed away. "What's wrong with you?"

"I have an aversion to communicable diseases. Get lost."

"Why don't you get lost."

"That's a wonderful idea. I think I will get lost. Enjoyed dinner."

Mitch grabbed a glass of rum punch and made his way through the dancers to the bar. He ordered a Red Stripe and sat by himself in a dark corner of the patio. The beach in front of him was deserted. The lights of a dozen boats moved slowly across the water. Behind him were the sounds of the Barefoot Boys and the laughter of the Caribbean night.

Nice,he thought, but it would be nicer with Abby. Maybe they would vacation here next summer. They needed time together, away from home and the office.There was a distance between them - distance he could not define. Distance they could not discuss but both felt. Distance he was afraid of.

"What are you watching?" The voice startled him. She walked to the table and sat next to him. She was a native, dark skin with blue or hazel eyes. It was impossible to tell in the dark. But they were beautiful eyes, warm and uninhibited. Her dark curly hair was pulled back and hung almost to her waist. She was an exotic mixture of black, white and probably Latin. And probably more. She wore a white bikini top cut very low and barely covering her large breasts and a long, brightly colored skirt with a slit to the waist that exposed almost everything when she sat and crossed her legs. No shoes.

"Nothing, really," Mitch said.

She was young, with a childish smile that revealed perfect teeth. "Where are you from?" she asked.

"The States."

She smiled and chuckled. "Of course you are. Where in the States?" It was the soft, gentle, precise, confident English of the Caribbean.

" Memphis."

"A lot of people come here from Memphis. A lot of divers."

"Do you live here?" he asked.

"Yes. All my life. My mother is a native. My father is from England. He's gone now, back to where he came from."

"Would you like a drink?" he asked.

"Yes. Rum and soda."

He stood at the bar and waited for the drinks. A dull, nervous something throbbed in his stomach. He could slide into the darkness, disappear into the crowd and find his way to the safety of the condo. He could lock the door and read a book on international tax havens. Pretty boring. Plus, Avery was there by now with his hot little number. The girl was harmless, the rum and Red Stripe told him. They would have a couple of drinks and say good night.

He returned with the drinks and sat across from the girl, as far away as possible. They were alone on the patio.

"Are you a diver?" she asked.

"No. Believe it or not, I'm here on business. I'm a lawyer, and I have meetings with some bankers in the morning."

"How long will you be here?"

"Couple of days." He was polite, but short. The less he said, the safer he would be. She recrossed her legs and smiled innocently. He felt weak.

"How old are you?" he asked.

"I'm twenty, and my name is Eilene. I'm old enough."

"I'm Mitch." His stomach flipped and he felt lightheaded. He sipped rapidly on his beer. He glanced at his watch.

She watched with that same seductive smile. "You're very handsome."

This was unraveling in a hurry. Keep cool, he told himself, just keep cool.

"Thank you."

"Are you an athlete?"

"Sort of. Why do you ask?"

"You look like an athlete. You're very muscular and firm." It was the way she emphasized "firm" that made his stomach flip again. He admired her body and tried to think of some compliment that would not be suggestive. Forget it.

"Where do you work?" he asked, aiming for less sensual areas.

"I'm a clerk in a jewelry store in town."

"Where do you live?"

"In Georgetown. Where are you staying?"

"A condo next door." He nodded in the direction, and she looked to her left. She wanted to see the condo, he could tell. She sipped on her drink.

"Why aren't you at the party?" she asked.

"I'm not much on parties."

"Do you like the beach?"

"It's beautiful."

"It's prettier in the moonlight." That smile, again.

He could say nothing to this.

"There's a better bar about a mile down the beach," she said. "Let's go for a walk."

"I don't know, I should get back. I've got some work to do before morning."

She laughed and stood. "No one goes in this early in the Caymans. Come on. I owe you a drink."

"No. I'd better not."

She grabbed his hand, and he followed her off the patio onto the beach. They walked in silence until the Palms was out of sight and the music was growing dimmer. The moon was overhead and brighter now, and the beach was deserted. She unsnapped something and removed her skirt, leaving nothing but a string around her waist and a string running between her legs. She rolled up the skirt and placed it around his neck. She took his hand.

Something said run. Throw the beer bottle in the ocean. Throw the skirt in the sand. And run like hell. Run to the condo. Lock the door. Lock the windows. Run. Run. Run.

And something said to relax. It's harmless fun. Have a few more drinks. If something happens, enjoy it. No one will ever know, Memphis is a thousand miles away. Avery won't know. And what about Avery? What could he say? Everybody does it. It had happened once before when he was in college, before he was married but after he was engaged. He had blamed it on too much beer, and had survived with no major scars. Time took care of it. Abby would never know.

Run. Run. Run.

They walked for a mile and there was no bar in sight. The beach was darker. A cloud conveniently hid the moon. They had seen no one since Rumheads. She pulled his hand toward two plastic beach chairs next to the water. "Let's rest," she said. He finished his beer.

"You're not saying much," she said.

"What would you like for me to say?"

"Do you think I'm beautiful?"

"You are very beautiful. And you have a beautiful body."

She sat on the edge of her chair and splashed her feet in the water. "Let's go for a swim."

"I, uh, I'm not really in the mood."

"Come on, Mitch. I love the water."

"Go ahead. I'll watch."

She knelt beside him in the sand and faced him, niches away. In slow motion, she reached behind her neck. She unhooked her bikini top, and it fell off, very slowly. Her breasts, much larger now, lay on his left forearm. She handed it to him. "Hold this for me." It was soft and white and weighed less than a millionth of an ounce. He was paralyzed and the breathing, heavy and labored only seconds ago, had now ceased altogether.

She walked slowly into the water. The white string covered nothing from the rear. Her long, dark, beautiful hair hung to her waist. She waded knee deep, then turned to the beach.

"Come on, Mitch. The water feels great."

She flashed a brilliant smile and he could see it. He rubbed the bikini top and knew this would be his last chance to run. But he was dizzy and weak. Running would require more strength than he could possibly muster. He wanted to just sit and maybe she would go away. Maybe she would drown. Maybe the tide would suddenly materialize and sweep her out to sea.

"Come on, Mitch."

He removed his shirt and waded into the water. She watched him with a smile, and when he reached her, she took his hand and led him to deeper water. She locked her hands around his neck, and they kissed. He found the strings. They kissed again.

She stopped abruptly and, without speaking, started for the beach. He watched her. She sat on the sand, between the two chairs, and removed the rest of her bikini. He ducked under the water and held his breath for an eternity. When he surfaced, she was reclining, resting on her elbows in the sand. He surveyed the beach and, of course, saw no one. At that precise instant, the moon, ducked behind another cloud. There was not a boat or a catamaran or a dinghy or a swimmer or a snorkeler or anything or anybody moving on the water.

"I can't do this," he muttered through clenched teeth. "What did you say, Mitch?"

"I can't do this!" he yelled. "But I want you."

"I can't do it."

"Come on, Mitch. No one will ever know."

No one will ever know. No one will ever know.He walked slowly toward her. No one will ever know.

* * *

There was complete silence in the rear of the taxi as the lawyers rode into Georgetown. They were late. They had overslept and missed breakfast. Neither felt particularly well. Avery looked especially haggard. His eyes were bloodshot and his face was pale. He had not shaved.

The driver stopped in heavy traffic in front of the Royal Bank of Montreal. The heat and humidity were already stifling.

Randolph Osgood was the banker, a stuffy British type with a navy double-breasted suit, horn-rimmed glasses, a large shiny forehead and a pointed nose. He greeted Avery like an old friend and introduced himself to Mitch. They were led to a large office on the second floor with a view of Hogsty Bay. Two clerks were waiting.

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