Pat Ruger: Caribbean Shuffle

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Chapter 12

It was difficult to enjoy dinner with a murder to solve. In the old days, Jimmy and I would eat, drink and sleep a case like this until we broke it open or it broke us. To take this one on during vacation was okay for me, but Erin wasn’t happy about Jimmy’s commitment. She understood, and was probably used to it, but not happy about it.

My palate was enjoying dinner, however. The 16-ounce porterhouse was melting in my mouth. I could hear Jimmy moaning over his prime rib, and Erin’s chicken Alfredo seemed to be satisfying her to the same extent. We all had both white and red wine poured, but only Erin was taking advantage. Old habits do die hard.

We had a male and a female server, Marcial and Leta, both seemed to be Dominican or other beautiful Caribbean people. The luscious brown-haired girl was younger, maybe mid-20’s, but it was difficult to tell. Marcial was older, probably 30. When asked what his name meant, he unabashedly declared, “Intelligent, powerful!”

Leta leaned over the table to refill my red wine in such a way as to expose her cleavage to me, hiding it from other present company. She spent a few extra moments, longer than necessary to pour, and asked, “What do you think my name means?”

“Happy?”

“Close!” She stood back up and moved to Jimmy’s glass, not quite bending over as far. “It means ‘joy.’” She finished with his glass and switched bottles to the white for Erin. She hardly leaned over at all for her.

“You’ve got to be kidding me,” Jimmy said when Leta left the table. “What is it with hot women hanging all over you?”

“I don’t know, really …”

“I know,” Erin said with a smile. “Pheromones. Sorry, honey,” she aimed at Jimmy. “You don’t put them off any more, but Patty, here, obviously does.”

“I don’t know about that,” I replied. “But something weird is happening.”

“That’s okay with me, babe,” Jimmy told his wife. “I’m perfectly happy with what I have.” He leaned over and kissed her.

“Nice save …” she chuckled.

While waiting for dessert, which turned out to be a fabulous, flaming baked Alaska, we got the chance to talk shop. We filled Erin in on what we knew and didn’t know, and our plan to conduct a search in the morning.

“We won’t be getting into any ports until Monday morning,” I explained. “So we have all day tomorrow and then all night.”

“We have Denver P.D. and the FBI working on it, too,” Jimmy added. “We’ll get to the bottom of it soon.”

“No murder weapon, no witnesses, no victim history … yeah, piece of cake.”

“No,” I said, as dessert arrived. “It’s Alaska.”

Jimmy and I agreed to meet up at 7 in the morning and he led Erin off to make up for being missing most of the day. I decided to avoid all possibility of hooking up with anyone and went to my cabin to turn in.

As I walked in the door, I half expected to find a hot woman waiting. I sighed with relief when I found the cabin empty.

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