BY: CAROL J. MEGGE
Backpacking through Nicaragua with her boyfriend Tom, Jamie discovers her father has actually paid him to be her bodyguard. Furious, she wants nothing more to do with him—despite the attraction they feel for each other—but before she can storm off on her own, her uncle calls with a desperate plea for help. He’s a doctor working with primitives in the Amazon jungle. He needs her to send a helicopter to rescue him before an outsider-fearing neighboring tribe kills him.
Knowing she can’t pull the rescue off by herself, Jamie reluctantly forgives Tom, and he agrees to help. To get the money needed for the helicopter, she and Tom take a job delivering some heavy crates to a man on the other side of Nicaragua. However, they are not the only ones interested in the crates. Fighting off pirates and smugglers, Jamie and Tom will be lucky to survive the delivery, let alone the jungle rivers, alligators, and mosquitoes. Can Tom find the courage and strength to win Jamie? Can she rescue her uncle, earn her independence, and still keep Tom?
TAYLOR JONES SAYS: In Machetes for Two by Carol J. Megge, Jamie and her boyfriend Tom are backpacking through Nicaragua when Jamie discovers that Tom was actually hired by her overprotective father as a bodyguard. Jamie is furious, but she needs Tom to help her rescue her uncle who is stranded in the Amazon jungle. In order to raise money to hire a helicopter to fly her uncle to safety, Jamie and Tom take on a dangerous delivery job, taking crates to the other side of the country. They are told there are diamond cores in the crates, but Jamie and Tom are suspicious. Still, if they want the money, they have to deliver the crates. What follows is a harrowing adventure. Fending of pirates and smugglers, as well as dangerous animals, Jamie and Tom are putting their lives on the line. And they have no guarantee they will actually get paid if they make it to where they are supposed to deliver the crates.
Megge gives us an exciting adventure, full or twists and turns, vivid scenes, and intriguing characters, combined with a spicy romance. A great read.
REGAN MURPHY SAYS: Machetes for Two by Carol Megge is the story of a modern woman who can take care of herself, or so she thinks. Stubborn and fiercely independent, Jamie is furious when finds out the man she has been backpacking with in South American is not really her boyfriend but a bodyguard hired by her father. Tom insists that he really cares for her, but he went along with her father because he needs the money to help his own father who has cancer. Jamie is torn between going off on her own or sticking with Tom because she cares for him too. But before she can make up her mind, she gets a phone call from her doctor uncle who needs to be rescued from the Amazon jungle, and Jamie is his last resort. She knows she can’t do this by herself so she agrees not go off on her own if Tom will help rescue her uncle. Because they need to hire a helicopter, they are forced to take a job delivering some crates for a shady character all the way across Nicaragua, going by van and then by boat. It is supposed to be an easy job, but they are not told about the dangers—pirates, smugglers, alligators, jaguars, and mosquitoes big enough to carry off a small car.
Machetes for Two is a romance combined with an exciting adventure, foreign intrigue, fast-paced action, and enchanting characters, and the author’s vivid descriptions make you feel like you’re there.
Jamie balled her napkin, grabbed her pack, and marched out of the hostel breakfast room. She didn’t care that the other backpackers in the room were staring at her. She wouldn’t let Tom win this argument after lying to her all summer long. She still couldn’t believe it. Her father had paid him! Well, they’d be home in two weeks, and she wouldn’t have to put up with the “bodyguard” her father had chosen to “protect” her on this backpacking trip through Mexico and Nicaragua.
And the job didn’t entitle him to sex.
But I’ve been so tempted.
Well, Tom wasn’t really a bodyguard. He was only an anthropology student like her, who happened to have a lot of muscles. She had barely known him at the university, but after six weeks of spending every day together, he wanted the nights too.
He kept a secret from me. I won’t make love with him now. She crumpled against the wall. It hurts. If he’s in it for the money, then our whole relationship is a lie. She kicked the wall.
Biting her lip, she came out of the shadowy hallway into the heat of the morning sun, dumped her pack and settled on the front stoop of the Nicaraguan hostel.
Who am I kidding? I want him.
All those wonderful muscles. She wanted to lick them. She wanted to run her hands all over his skin. She wanted skin to skin that would make her let loose. Her insides tightened with that familiar ache. Her hand went out to touch the warm cement stoop that she wanted to be his warm body. He was her best friend, but he hadn’t told her.
Should I trust him? If I hadn’t found that agreement this morning with my father’s signature I never would have known.
The door opened behind her, and Tom’s hand landed gently on her shoulder. She shook it off.
Tom sighed and sat beside Jamie on the warm concrete. He didn’t want to lose her over this. He had to tell her. “Yes, your father hired me. I wanted to ask you if you were willing to accept me, but your father made me swear not to tell you. You wouldn’t like it.”
“Well, I don’t.” She looked up at him with a puzzled frown. “I thought I chose you. Dad asked me who I liked from my classes–someone who had the strength and intelligence to be my bodyguard, and I chose you.”
“Your father advertised in the school for a bodyguard, and I was one of four on the list of applicants. Thank god, you wanted me.”
“Advertised?” Her voice rose, and his hopes that she would get over this quickly fell. Jamie stood, her fists clenched. “What am I? His possession?” She wiped her eyes, as angry as he’d ever seen her.
What could he say to her? He had better get it all out now. “Maybe I did take the money because I needed it. Is that a crime? Your father picked me for good reasons. Number one, you chose me, whether you knew about the list or not. Also, I do have lots of muscular strength, because of my weight-lifting.” He hesitated and spit it out. “Also, I needed the money.”
“You already said that. Why? For graduate school?”
“Uh, no.” He didn’t want to explain, but she would keep bugging him until she got it out of him. He took a deep breath. “My father has multiple myeloma, a type of cancer they can’t cure yet. It’s not too serious, but he needs chemo treatments for several weeks every year. My mother died a couple of years ago, so he only has me and his brother.” He wanted her to love him, not feel sorry for him, but he couldn’t help accepting her arms around him. His lips crushed his smile into her cheek.
“It must have been so hard being away from him all summer, worrying. We’ll be home in a couple of weeks, Tom, and you will be with him.”
“Thanks for understanding,” he said. “I’ve worried about my father for a year now, and I was really glad your father asked me to protect you.”
“Let’s go finish breakfast,” she said.
Jamie slid in beside him in the breakfast room. After a few bites of the cold scrambled eggs, it struck her. She slammed her fork down. She pressed her eyes with the heels of her hands and straightened. “I’m still mad at Dad for hiring you. You should have told me that for sure, and you should have especially told me about your father. Now I wonder if there’s anything else you’re hiding. What else did Dad order you to do?”
“Take care of you, babe, because you need it. And I will.” He rubbed her arm, his hand warm and gentle. “I promise.”
Her anger faded a bit. He’d had a good reason not to tell her. “You did keep your word to my dad. That’s good.” After a long moment, she admitted, “My pride is pricked, but I guess I can still count on you.” Her voice lowered. “I’m sorry, Tom.” His brown eyes crinkled in his tanned face and his smile came back. She ruffled his light brown hair. “You look brown all over this morning with your tan and your brown shorts and tee.”
He chuckled. “I do? You look ravishing. Your hair’s still wet from the shower.” He leaned close and ran his hand through her black waves. His hand on the back of her head pulled her closer. He was going to kiss her in front of everybody.
She jerked back and spoke in a low monotone. “Not now. Let’s eat.”
He leaned back, giving her space. “Okay, Jamie.”
Gerta, the owner, approached with a coffee pot. She swirled the pot, offering the brown warmth. “You want some?”
Tom pointed to his cup. “Your place is really nice. This is a darn good breakfast for a twelve-dollar hostel: eggs, toast, an orange, and coffee. We’ll be back tonight. Today we’re going to explore Granada and look at the old statues in the museum.”
“It’s a nice city. You will enjoy the beaches by the lake. I will save a bed for you in the dormitory,” Gerta replied in her thick accent.
Jamie was about to ask her if her accent was Dutch or German when her phone rang, making her jump. This hostel must have Wi-Fi. Her phone had one of those new international sim cards. It would have to be someone from home in Virginia, or her dad and stepmom honeymooning in Europe. “Hello? Who is this, please?”
“This is your Uncle James. This is Jamie Patrick, isn’t it?”
“Oh yes, Uncle James, but I can’t believe you’re calling. Are you still in the Amazon jungle? Are you all right? Why are you calling me?”
“I’m so glad I got you, Jamie. I tried to call your father, but he’s got his phone turned off while he’s on his honeymoon. The maid at your house in Virginia gave me your number. Thank god for this satellite phone. I need help–soon.”
“Help? What kind of help? I hope it isn’t serious. Are you sick?”
“No, it’s worse than that.”
Jamie jerked back and turned on the speaker so Tom could hear.
“The Walaka tribe I’m staying with has been kind to me, teaching me all they know about their medicinal plants. I’ve been reporting quarterly what I’ve learned to the Indian Mission center in Ecuador, but now my tribe tells me I have to leave. I’m not sure if you know, but the local tribes have a reputation for violence. Still, despite all the warnings people gave me before I came here, I trust the tribal wise man.”
“Why did they tell you to leave?”
Jamie glanced at Tom. He bent close to the phone, listening intently. Her arm went around him.
“The wise man, Chimbi, told me the neighboring Sumolu tribe doesn’t like the Walaka tribe having an outsider living with them. They think all outsiders want them dead. They have seen other tribes disappear when foreigners change how they live. The Sumolus are coming to kill me after the camu camu harvest. I don’t want to go, but the wise man says if I don’t leave the Sumolus will come and kill all one hundred fifty of the Walaka, as well as me.”
Her eyes met Tom’s. “Kill you?” Her voice rose. “Good God, Uncle James, get out of there fast. You can only do so much.”
“That’s the problem. I called the mission in Quito. When I arrived here, the mission people ’coptered me over the Andes mountains to a town in the Amazon valley. Then I went by boat to the town nearest the Indians, Machazo. Then I walked about twenty miles into the Walaka territory. Well, the mission chief says they have a helicopter landing site at Machazo now, but their helicopter has a broken rotor, and can’t be fixed in time to get me out.”
Jamie grabbed Tom’s arm. “Oh my God, what can we do?”
“I need you to fetch me out of here in less than two weeks.”
Jamie pushed herself up from the table. Her throat tightened. “Me? I’m just a college student on vacation in Nicaragua.”
The three backpacking young men in the corner had their eyes on her again.
“I’ll tell you what you have to do. Fly to Quito in Ecuador. Hire a helicopter and fly to the village Machazo on the other side of the Andes mountains. I will hike the twenty miles to the village and arrive twelve days from now. That’s Wednesday, September third. The mission doesn’t have enough money to hire a helicopter, and I don’t either. Your father pays for my work here in the jungle.” His voice broke. “I depended on the mission and the helicopter. Anyway, the name of the company that rents them is Journeys into the Wilderness in Quito. Can you rent one and get me out of here?”
“Uh. Sure.” Her eyes swiveled back to Tom, and he nodded yes. “What’s the telephone number for the helicopter company?”
“I don’t know. Here’s the number for the Indian Mission. Call them and they’ll help you.”
She took her notebook and pen from her pack and wrote down the number as he recited it.
“You’re sure you can do this?” he asked.
The tightness in her chest sparked a quick reply. Uncle James needs me. “Of course. We’ll get you out before the Sumolu Indians come after you. I’ll call you as soon as we talk to the helicopter company.”
“Okay. I have to count on you. I can’t see any other way. Chimbi, the wise man, is getting desperate, even angry. He’ll be glad to see me leave.”
“Leave earlier if you can. We will come as soon as possible, maybe even before the third. What’s the name of the village again?”
“Machazo. Listen, I can’t talk much longer. My satellite phone needs charging and we have no electricity here. The nearest generator is in Machazo. Call me on Monday at six o’clock. I’ll keep the phone on for a half hour. You have my number on your cell, don’t you?”
“Hope to see you a week from Wednesday. Love you, ’bye.”
Jamie flopped into her chair again, a little scared.
One of the boys in the corner humphed. “You’re pretty brave to go into the Amazon jungle.”
“Thanks.” She gave him a thin smile and turned to Tom. “When my mom died when I was little, my dad took her to a hospital in California. He was gone for months. Uncle James took care of me.” Her voice softened. “He gave me ice cream every day and taught me to ride my bike.” She choked at the thought and tried to cover it with a cough. Tom gave her a squeeze.
Why doesn’t my father trust me or my judgment? I’m so emotional today.
Tom had out his notebook. “What’s the plan, darling?”
Oooh, she did love him. He was ready to jump right in and help her, even with his own worries. “It’s not going to be as easy as it sounds. Let’s figure out how much money we have.”
Tom shushed her. “Not so loud.” He leaned in and started counting. “I have fifteen hundred.”
Jamie pulled her wallet from her pack. “Five hundred,” she whispered. “Leave it to my dad to insist we manage our money and refuse to give us a credit card. He turned off his phone in Europe so I can’t call him to ask for more money. We have enough, if we don’t help Uncle James.” The seriousness of the situation sank in and her voice wavered. “If we don’t help him, the Indians might kill him.”
Tom gave her a tight squeeze. “What do we need?”
Jamie’s fingers flew over the calculator on her phone, checking the cost of tickets.
“About a thousand to get us to Quito from the airport in Managua. Another thousand, probably, for the helicopter. Then about fifteen hundred to get us all home to Virginia.” She groaned at the same time Tom did. Unthinking, she raised her voice. “Another two thousand!” She clapped her hand over her mouth. She wanted to cry. “What’ll we do? If we can’t get my dad, maybe we could get some temporary funds from his partners in his medical practice. Huh, rich doctor, and he can’t even help his brother escape from the jungle!”
“You don’t know that.” He paused a second. “I don’t suppose you counted the money in my bag when you found the receipt this morning?
Her head whirled. She waited.
He leaned in close. “Your father anticipated that you might overspend,” he said, “and gave me a thousand dollars for any emergency.”
Great. Dad doesn’t trust me at all. Acid tightened her throat and the words came out bitterly. “It’s not enough. We still need another thousand for the helicopter.”
“Maybe one of his partners has an emergency number to contact your father in Europe. If that doesn’t work, maybe we could fly back to Virginia, get a loan really fast, and then fly to Quito and rent the helicopter.”
“I tried for a loan once before and they wouldn’t give it to me unless my dad signed on it, so that’s out.” She grimaced with pinched lips and waved her hand in the air. She couldn’t figure out how to get to her uncle. She wanted her father to take care of this.
No. I have to take care of myself. I’m an adult now. Tom will help me, but I’m the one responsible for figuring out how to help Uncle James.
One of the boys from the corner walked over to them. “Sorry to listen in on your conversation. I think I can help. I’ve heard other backpackers who want a little cash, saying that Espinosa’s Delivery Service here in Granada hires people on the spot for deliveries they have to make.”
The skinny Dutch waitress plopped down beside them, coffee pot in hand. “He’s right. You don’t need a loan. You need a job. The delivery service is reliable. Go see him. The man who runs it is in his office after two o’clock.”
Jamie had never had a job. “Thanks. Do you think we could earn enough money to get to Ecuador and rent a helicopter within the next ten days?”
The Dutch lady shrugged. “You can only try.”
The backpacker went back to his breakfast and Gerta followed him.
Tom leaned closer. “I don’t see any way to earn a thousand dollars that fast, Jamie. I think we should fly back to Virginia tonight. One of your father’s friends will probably give us a personal loan.”
Jamie’s temper rose again. “No. Then I’d be obligated to my father’s partner.” I’ll show my father I can do it. “I’m responsible for this myself. I like the idea of working for some money. I want to get a job.”
Tom took her hand. “Okay. We’ll talk to that delivery service man this afternoon after two o’clock. We can fly home tonight if we think it won’t work.”
“I’ll make it work.” She took her bag. “I’ll be waiting on the front stoop.”
Tom shook his head and looked up at Gerta. “That’s my girl. And she thinks I’m not good with money. Actually, she has a heart that’s too warm. She gives money away everywhere she goes. She gave a hundred dollars to support a teen-age girl’s schooling in Managua, and she gave two hundred to a school for deaf kids.”
Gerta sat in Jamie’s chair. “Listen. I was serious about Espinosa’s Delivery Service. His office is right across the square from the cathedral, next to the bank.”
He took a sip of the fresh coffee, grinned, and shrugged. “Thanks. I don’t think I’ll convince her to ask her father’s friends for money.”
“Good luck with your girl.”
He slung his pack over his shoulder and joined Jamie outside.
Jamie grumbled something about him not trusting her.
He didn’t want another argument, so he ignored her.
She paused, picking at a weed beside the stoop. “Sorry again. I’m upset because you think I don’t know how to work, that I won’t be able to do the job.”
He snorted and walked toward the square. “You’re the one who thinks you might not be able to do a job. You finished your anthropology degree in three years. You know how to work.” She didn’t answer. “I promise we’ll go to the delivery service office after we visit the museum this afternoon. It will be our last chance to see the statues. Whether we get a job or not, we won’t be back in Granada.”
The large green central plaza had a big bank on one side with guards with machine guns at the door. He ignored them. He and Jamie entered the huge cathedral that dominated the other side. Jamie’s face softened and she slid onto a bench. He leaned on the back of the pew beside her and watched the birds fly in and out of the tall narrow unglazed windows. Iron bars crossed between the high arches. The birds perched and twittered. A few old women knelt in the pews.
My father will be all right, at least for the next few weeks until we get home.
Jamie said she wanted to pray for a while.
She was so beautiful with her hands folded and her black hair flowing over her shoulders. He ran his hand down her cheek, drawing a smile. “I’ll wait outside and enjoy the green grass of the square.”
He sat on a bench near the octagonal band stage in the center of the plaza, wondering what the Amazonian river jungles were like. Jamie was always up for new and different adventures. He wanted to help her uncle, but he wasn’t so sure he wanted this adventure. Too many unknowns in a jungle. He would protect her, keep her from taking too many risks.
When Jamie came out, they bought strawberry ice cones and a hotdog from a vendor on the square. They wandered through the vegetable market and bought a bunch of carrots. The seller washed the two that they wanted and took the rest back. They munched on them while watching a man repair shoes and a dentist, with his dental chair right on the sidewalk, pulling a tooth from a wriggling customer.
She’s not looking at me. Her mind is too full of how to rescue Uncle James to see me or the poor guy in the dental chair.
The museum was actually a home for some Catholic brothers and some nuns who took care of them. Tom paid the small fee and they passed through the back wall of the gift shop to a large central courtyard.
A dozen tall palms arched their umbrellas under an incredibly blue sky, surrounded by perfect white walls of rooms roofed with red tiles, and connected with wandering white sidewalks. He loved the peaceful postcard picture and ambled slowly, enjoying the calm before the storm that would come as soon as they decided what to do to save Jamie’s uncle.
Jamie looked around for the hall with the statues and pulled his tee shirt. “Over there.”
About twenty statues from four to six feet high lined a gallery open to the elements on the west side.
Tom followed Jamie down the length of the gallery, studying the statues.
“Three thousand years old,” she muttered. “They look like they were all done by the same stone carver. They all seem to be squatting and frowning, with those fantastic hats, crowns, on their heads.”
Every chief had an animal for his crown–turtle, fox, alligator, hawk. The animals enthralled him immediately. Why did these men choose the animals lying on their heads? For their power? What kind of power did a turtle on your head give you?
Jamie stooped down to run her hand over a statue’s hand. “The chiefs are all holding a sheaf of maize. That means they were food providers, or maybe the maize was the gift of the gods. They’re different from the Mayan statues. More static, stronger. Older.”
He stopped in front of a frowning chief with a jaguar on his head. The soft stone had weathered, cutting the ferocity of the animal and the chief. A stab of anxiety went through him, as if the chief were challenging him. What human instinct made him judge, even fear, the violent power of the jaguar this chief had once claimed? Because I still have those violent instincts in me. Well, at least I’m civilized enough to control them.
He shook off his reaction to the animal-man statues and found a shaded bench where he could sit and make notes. He wanted to remember this, even if he never took another anthropology class. Jamie seemed restless. She hurried him back out through the gift shop.
He was not as anxious as Jamie to get to Espinosa’s office, but he had promised.
They walked past the bank with the machine guns in front. Tom felt the men’s eyes on them, the foreigners. They have to make sure we behave. I don’t like it. I don’t like guns. Jamie should know. “Did I ever tell you about why I don’t like guns?”
She looked surprised. “I didn’t know you had any feelings about them at all. What happened?”
He pointed to the six inch scar on his calf below his shorts. “It was accidental, but I was angry. It kept me from being in track in high school. That’s why I took up weights.” He frowned and admitted, “I never forgave my friend.”
“That’s awful, Tom. Not the scar. Unable to forgive your friend is awful.” She looked into the window of Espinosa’s office. “Why are we talking about this now?”
“I just thought you ought to know.” He was a bit embarrassed. He was a little afraid to tell her that he’d been so angry that he wanted to kill his friend. Why had he brought it up now? Probably because of the adrenaline thrill the Indian statue had inspired. I’m civilized. I don’t need a jaguar crown to keep Jamie and me safe.
He opened the door for her.
Espinosa’s air-conditioned office relaxed Tom. The man himself was sitting behind a desk surrounded by cabinets and a safe. No computer in sight, but a cell phone lay prominent on the desk. A short, swarthy, mustached man, he seemed the iconic Nicaraguan, even with the glasses he wore. He put down his newspaper and asked in heavily accented English if he could help them.
Jamie cleared her throat. “I certainly hope so. We need a job. Do you have work we can do?”
The man laughed, showing a lot of white teeth. “You backpackers. You are not, uhh…” He struggled for the word. “Fidedigno. I no trust. If I give the job to you, you want the money before the work, and you will take the money and run.”
Taken aback, Tom thought about how to answer the man’s implications.
Jamie’s vehement reply made him smile. “We’re not like that.”
“Maybe. No se. I don’t know.”
Tom stepped in front of Jamie. “Sit,” he told her, pointing to a chair. She glared at him, but sat in the chair. He stepped up to the desk and put out his hand. “My name is Thomas Lee Kirk. Look, Senor Espinosa, we want a job or jobs that will provide us with two thousand dollars, not cordobas, in the next week. If that is not a possibility, just tell us right now, and we will leave.” He glanced at Jamie who sat on the edge of her chair, staring at him.
Espinosa jumped up, as if he might order them out. He snapped his mouth shut and walked around them, ending at Tom’s side, evaluating him. Tom pulled his hand back.
“Stop looking at me like a horse you wish to buy. Do you have a job or not?”
“Maybe.” Espinosa sat down again. “You need the job bad?”
“Yes. Look, Espinosa, if you have a job like that you must need us more than we need you. We both want to earn what we need. This lady is too proud to ask her family for help. She is very hard-working.” He searched his mind for the Spanish. “Trabajador. Admirable, don’t you think?”
Espinosa blinked. “You are a senorita, but you want to work?”
“Yes,” she snapped. “I am strong. I can carry things, move boxes, whatever you want me to do. I was on the rowing team for two years.”
Espinosa pinched his nose and moved his glasses up on his forehead. “Okay. I guess you want the work.” He pulled the glasses down and turned. “And you? Why you are here?”
Tom stood taller. “I’m stronger than she is. I worked in the coal mines with my father for two years before I entered the university. Her father hired me to protect her on this backpacking trip.”
Espinosa frowned and then sat forward, his toothy smile looking false. “This is fairy tale.”
Jamie picked up her backpack. “I can prove it.” She took her cell phone and passport from the inside pocket and put them on the desk. “My name is Jamie Ann Patrick, which you can see on the passport. My father is a doctor. If you look at the quick dial list on my cell phone, you’ll see that number two is labeled ‘Office.’ If you call that number they will answer, ‘Gerald Patrick’s Medical Practice.’”
Tom grinned. She is smart!
“I be damned.” Espinosa picked up the phone and punched in number two. “I be damned,” he repeated. Tom almost laughed. Espinosa shrugged. “Does not mean you can work.”
“Give us a chance to prove it,” Tom put in.
“You sit.” Espinosa pointed to a second chair. He steepled his fingers.
Tom sat. I think we’re in.
“I have the good job for two persons. You leave Managua manana. You deliver heavy boxes to San Juan del Norte. You know where is San Juan del Norte?”
“We tell you how to take the boxes to the town. Important thing, this job you need to run power boat. Can you?” he asked Tom.
He opened his mouth to answer, but Jamie beat him to it. Her eyes focused on Espinosa. “Does piloting my father’s race boat count? I never really raced it, but I piloted it on a three day trip on the intercoastal waterway in Florida.”
Tom laughed aloud when Espinosa repeated, “I be damned.”
Jamie looked utterly satisfied. “So, Senor Espinosa, how long will it take to deliver these boxes, and where is San Juan del Norte?”
The man frowned. “On Atlantic coast of Nicaragua. You will take six days if you make connections. Maybe more. Maybe nine days. You will get much money for the time–thousand dollars–each. Bueno, eh?”
Tom passed beyond the man’s difficulty with English. Espinosa knew what they needed. There must be a catch with that much money for a simple delivery. I’m scared. No I’m not. Jamie might think I’m a coward if I don’t agree to this job. I can do this.
Jamie opened her mouth to bargain. Tom put his hand on hers to stop her. In this part of the world, what she wanted didn’t count. “Plus expenses?”
Espinosa humphed. “Yes. Deal?”
“One more question.” Tom wasn’t sure what answer he’d get. “Senor Espinosa, that’s a lot of money to pay for six days of work. It must be very valuable product in the crates.”
“Very smart, Senor Kirk. The cargo is valuable.”
“Will I have to carry a gun?”
The delivery man rubbed his mustache a moment, dropped his hand to his knee to stop his foot from tapping. “No. Guns make people curious. No person can know the cargo in the boxes. We no want persons to know.” Espinosa’s face hardened. “You understand?”
Tom’s stomach lurched. It sounded like a threat. He was ready to walk out the door.
Jamie was on her feet, though, leaning over the desk to shake Espinosa’s hand. “What do we do, and where do we go?”
The stony face cracked and smiled at Jamie. He gave her hand a small shake and turned to Tom. “Take four-thirty bus to Managua. Go to the center of Managua, and take the taxi to the address I give you.” He scratched the address on a piece of paper and handed it to Tom. “Managua no has street numbers or signs. Tell the taxi driver to go to the place before nine o’clock.”
The paper said, Cortez Street two blocks north of Rivera, third building on left. Guards in front of iron gate.
Tom licked his lips.
The capital city of Nicaragua had no mailing addresses? It really was a third world country. For no apparent reason, his stomach tightened further.
“You see Roberto Estrella,” Espinosa continued. “He will give you the boxes, the directions and some money for the trip. You bring the signed papers back to him, and then you get the pay money. Clear?”
“As a bell.” With a big grin on her face, Jamie shook his hand again, thanking him profusely.
Tom swallowed hard and offered his hand too.
© 2017 by Carol J. Megge