Sophia finished rummaging through her suitcase, and decided on a belted black and white Bond girl styled bikini and sarong. She was in a black mood especially since Cole’s little temper-tantrum last night. She could not believe his audasisty, accusing her of skinny dipping with those guys; those big fat loud drunken frat boys, who had taken the liberty of sneaking up and jumping in the water where she and Anna had been climbing in? After all, Cole had been the one who had been talking with them all night at the bar in the first place and then he just taken off to bed and left her and their new friend Anna alone.
Sophia should have realized that he was just setting the snare, secretly spying on them from behind a bush just waiting for trouble, but in that sense Sophia was blind to a fault. She was simply inclined to see only the good in people. Since the rejection Monday, Cole had been one big time bomb always ready to go off, blaming her for anything and everything.
She considered all of this carefully, mentally congratulating herself for turning Cole down as she unzipped the hidden compartment on her suitcase and took out her little hand carved rosewood jewelry box. Sophia had been in love with the gift ever since her grandmother Veronika had first showed it to her when she was just a child. The handmade wooden box had been created by a Punjabi carver during British rule in India and was decorated with beautiful ornate elephants on the sides and on the top was a statue of Buddha. Sophia popped open the box and gazed at the beautiful purple and pink jewels. A tear streamed down her cheek as she thought of the day her Gigi had given them to her. Passed down through generations, the beautiful purple sapphire gem and the pink diamond had eventually been made into a matching necklace, earring, bracelet and ring set. All the pieces were nice but she especially loved the snake bracelet. She had worn it only once in Paris on the day that she first met Cole. He had been entranced by the piece and had made several comments since she never wore it anymore.
The pieces were of course much too decadent to wear normally, except for the ring which was an average sized piece of jewelry. She fingered the ring mischievously smiling and decided today she would wear it to cheer up. After all Gigi wouldn’t have given it to her if she didn’t want her to enjoy it and perhaps even show it off.
She grabbed her oversized Valentino Semi Rimless Sunglasses to hide the slight bruising that had begun to show, along with her metallic bag and sandals and headed out the door, the picture of elegance as usual. Her toffee colored skin and exotic features were set off by the perfection of her out-fit. Her handbag and shoes were identical shades of light tanned leather.
She liked everything to match, everything to be in its place. Her closet was every woman’s dream with rows of matching organized clear shoe boxes. Her suits were arranged by color as well as fabric. Her handbags were tucked in individual slots in a custom built section given as a birthday present from Cole. He had given her some nice things over the years but he never really gave her what she wanted most, unconditional love and affection.
She had hoped a nice three week relaxing vacation to the Mayan Riviera would ease his stress level and improve his temper but so far she had only been disappointed and lonely. Not really that shocking a discovery but disappointing all the same. She had broken it off with him three times over the past few years but she always came back as soon as the begging and pleading began.
Like every other women out there, she always thought that she would leave an emotionally abusive man but it was definitely more complicated when you were the one in the situation. Each time he begged her forgiveness and professed his undying love and each time she cried as she prayed eventually coming to the conclusion that it must be her mission from God to help him. After all she used to mumble to herself, if it wasn’t meant to be, if she wasn’t meant to be with him than God would help her escape the situation, wouldn’t he? She had been raised in a Christian home and taught to believe that life wasn’t up to her to control. All things happened for a reason and it was imperative to learn from whatever situation you were in because you were in it for a reason. She had silently prayed and chanted her mantra in her head every week. She had given the wheel to God every Sunday in church and begged him to take control. So, the fact that she was still in the situation only confirmed that this was her lot in life for the moment and she would just have to wait for it to unfold. At least she hadn’t agreed to move in with him; that had been one smart move on her part.
She was just passing the fruit bar when she spotted him sitting in the corner chatting up one of the cougars who had been shamelessly flirting with him since their arrival two days ago. Women loved Cole so this was not an unusual scenario for her but her heart still ached a little. His gaze was glued to the woman’s ample bust which was squeezed into two tiny triangles.
“That’s a really nice top. Is that a playboy bunny? His fingers reached out skimming the women’s breast. “It’s nice to see a woman who can really fill it out.”
The woman leered at him licking her lips as the flush travelled from her breasts to her face.
“But I’m sure you hear that all the time.” Sophia overheard him say as he crassly fingered the tacky little charm that dangled between her breasts. Ugh, had he always been so creepy? Why was she with him again? She could hear the woman giggling and flirting back and it disgusted and infuriated her.
How many times had he been jealous over the silliest of situations, the latest one being the pool incident last night? She flashed back to him throwing her into the glass patio slider after dragging her to her room. She thought of him berating her and manhandling her for two hours, throwing water in her face and slapping her when she tried to go to sleep. He had never before been this physical with her and she knew it was now time to get out. This was God telling her that she had endured enough and this had never been about helping him but perhaps teaching her patience. The anger at Cole’s hypocritical nature surged through her whole body and she suddenly realized that she didn’t feel much like putting up with his bullshit at the moment. Nope, she had most definitely lost her appetite so she grabbed only a piece of pineapple that she had been fingering and a bottle of water and headed for the hiking trails. Let him screw her, she thought. Then maybe he’d stop asking her to marry him. Sophia glanced at the tree line; perhaps a nice fast paced walk would help her blow off some steam. Then she could settle down on the beach with a good book and relax until it was time for their planned snorkeling excursion. She would endure him until she could get the next flight home.
She was about 1 hr and 45 minutes into the hike and busy thinking how the beautiful scenery reminded her of her last solo trip to Costa Rico when she heard a piercing yelp. She made a split decision to go off the trail even though she had been heavily advised against that. Two minutes of jogging into the bush she came across a rusted beat up old pick-up truck. The driver’s side door was open and an elderly looking mulatto man was lying on the ground with his eyes closed. Sophia raced towards him, panic bubbling up in her chest. What could she do to help him? They were in the middle of nowhere. “Oh please help me God” she whispered as she felt for a pulse. The old man, probably startled by her hands and voice, opened his eyes and scrambled awkwardly to get up.
“Oh my goodness, are you okay?”
“I’m fine” he said swatting her away.
“You be tryin to give me a heart attack.” He hissed. Sophia chuckled at the irony of the situation. His voice was so deep it was almost inaudible.
“No I thought I heard you yell for help and I thought …well I thought you were dying when I saw you on the ground like that.”
Hernando Acurio was sixty years old and looked every year of it. Originally from Trinidad, he had moved to Jamaica at the age of ten and traveled the West Indies ever since. His jagged face was lined and wrinkled, his sunken brown eyes faded and heavily shadowed. A strong jaw line and booming voice gave hints of the fierce Obeah man he once was.
“I twisted my ankle kicking this piece of junk and closed my eyes to rest a moment. My house is right there Mon; you help me down the hill? Sophia wasn’t sure if it was a question or an order but she helped him to his cot which was actually in more of a shack then a house but she didn’t mention that. She took his bony arm around her neck and helped him limp down the hill trying to ignore the strong aroma of cigars and sweat that permeated her nostrils.
“Watcha be doing wandering out here in the trees alone? You from that big fancy resort over there?”
“Yes. I wanted some time to myself so I thought I’d try the hiking trails.”
“Well you’re a long ways off the trails, girl.” He muttered.
“It’s dangerous out here. Don’t ya know any better?”
Sophia thought that question was better left unanswered. She glanced around wondering just how far off the beaten track she’d gotten and she suddenly realized how stupid she’d been.
‘Well I guess I should be getting back” she said politely as she helped him sit down on his cot suddenly uncomfortable being inside his ramshackle bedroom/home.
“You know child, I was once the most feared and sought after man in all of the West Indies. Folk came to me from miles around for help with the evil spirits. Sophia hoped that this sixty year old man wasn’t trying to impress her. She got him a glass of dirty water and was feeling a little uncomfortable when he grabbed her hand and inspected her grandmother’s ring. He held it there and his eyes rolled back in his head. Sophia freaked a little at the strength of his grip terrified that he would steal her ring, she tried to pull away but he held tight.
“Don’t be scarit of me child, seems to be you got more to be scairt of at home. Since you helped me, I will help you. Sophia stood still partly out of fear and partly out of curiosity as he rummaged through his drawer.
“Take this talisman he boomed as he shoved what looked like the dried up head of a spider monkey into her other hand. He held her right hand tight still and began to chant something completely inaudible to Sophia.
“You have an evil spirit attached to you and it will need to be severed or else you will be thrown back through the revolving door before the year’s end. Take heed of the light circles for you are a number three and you cannot trust those closest to you. I do not know which one it lingers in.” Sophia felt the bile rise in her throat. As Hernando finished chanting once more, his eyes rolled back in his head again and his body convulsed. Sophia knew she had enough and took this as her chance to escape. Turning quickly on her heels, she ran back up the hill, fear nagging at her chest. She got there but she knew this wasn’t the direction she had taken; luckily she somehow made it back to the beach.