Sunburnt

Greta hits rock bottom and trades in her Chardonnay for coffee. She moves to sunny Bombay Beach, Florida where she gets a new apartment in a quaint cottage, a new job and a new lease on life. She spends time at the beach soaking up the sun and reflecting on her past destructive relationships. She meets a mysterious married man Garth, who she keeps bumping into. Greta dates a local musician Jimmy, but after his untimely suicide she must find the cause of his death. She and her girlfriend Kat put on a concert with the help of magnetic club owner Sly and invite superstar Crash to perform all of Jimmy’s music. Will they discover why Jimmy took his own life?

Sly is a dazzling man, living the high life as owner of one of the towns hottest clubs, Voodoo. He has it all, wine, women, a beach house and a sister who has one of Hollywoods’ hottest cooking shows, Elvira! He cannot find love in his life, until he meets Greta. But is it too late to change his ways?


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13. Sunburnt

Chapter 40

 

Before I met my husband, I'd never fallen in love. I'd stepped in it a few times.

Rita Rudner

 

 

 

It was Monday morning again, back to the grind. Al was in his office on the phone. I was at my desk typing folders and sipping on my Dunkin Donuts coffee, I had so much work to do before my trip.

 

I sneaked a quick call in to Kat. “Hey, guess what?” I said.

“What?” she asked

“I’m going to Aspen for the weekend.” I bragged.

‘Wow, awesome…How?” she asked curiously.

“I’m going with Sly.” I breathed into the phone.

“Getting heavy.” Said Kat sarcastically.

 

It was getting heavy and I was enjoying it. Me, Miss solitude and privacy was now in love with a public persona. It was exhilarating.

 

“I hope you have all your snow bunny outfits for your trip.” Kat said.

“Snow bunny?” I asked

“Of course! You have to dress the part girl. I’ll meet you later at Bloomingdales.” She said.

“Alright, I’ll be there around six.” I said.

 

I went back to work. Later on Al came in with an anxious look on his face. “What’s wrong?” I asked. “I found this morning. Its a note from that psycho Beth chick.” He said glaring. “What does it say?” I asked. He read the letter in a serious tone.

 

“I’ve been watching you and that whore. You know who you belong to …Call me, Beth”

 

“Wow, sounds pretty crazy.” I said.

“Yes, she certainly is. I haven’t called the police yet but one more note like this and I will. I will not be held hostage that that insane woman.” He said

“I agree. Totally.” I said, to make him feel better. I felt sorry for Al. He was such a meek, quiet man. Why would anyone stalk him?

 

I drove to Bloomingdales and met Kat. We entered the store at the South entrance and sought out Ladies Sportswear. Merchandise bombarded us, racks of evening gowns and cocktail dresses beckoned. We feverishly scoured the racks and found Ralph Lauren sweaters, Donna Karan leggings, Bodywear gloves, Jones New York hats, Hermes scarves and Prada boots. I tried on combinations of clothes with Kat being my fashion guru. We finally decided on a black Mohair sweater, leggings and a Nylon jacket, and a cocktail dress for evening.

 

“You look like a million bucks.” Kat beamed. “Now you are a bona fide snow bunny.”

 I did feel the part. I took all my packages home and started to pack my suitcase.

 

I hadn’t felt this excited in a long time. Finally I was feeling happy about a relationship. It had been so many years of unhappiness, it sort of felt strange to feel any kind of joy again. I was like a giant icicle beginning to thaw.

 

All at once I felt the urge to go and surprise Sly at the club, maybe he was lonely in the office. I got in the car and drove over to Voodoo. It was dark and quiet. I went inside. The place was empty except for a bartender at the bar. I asked where Sly was.

“Sly? He’s off tonight sweetheart.” She said, her large white teeth gleaming in the laser lights.

 

I rode down Atlantic Avenue to AIA and drove along the ocean. The lights were on at the beach house. I turned the car off in the driveway and knocked at the door. It opened a crack. A tall blonde in bare feet wearing a mans shirt answered it.

 

“Is Sly here? I asked with a sinking feeling in my stomach.

“Sly went out. He’ll be home in awhile. Can I help you?” she said haughtily

“Who are you? I asked

“Natalie. I’m his girlfriend from LA.”she said quietly. ”Who are you?” she asked.

 

My heart sank. Of course I wasn’t the only one. How could I be? I stared to cry and left before she could see me. I backed the car out of the driveway, missing traffic and got home in a blur of tears and remorse.

 

I threw myself on the pile of clothes and cried. What a silly fool I was. What a dreamer. I went into the kitchen and uncorked my only bottle of Little Pengin Chardonnay. I drank a glass, then another, then another, then another. Soon I was giddy and weak, feeling bad about myself and for drinking again, bad girl.

 

I lay in front of the TV watching Jay leno and his guests. What kind of fantasy world did they all live in?

 

The weekend came and went. My phone rang, my cellphone rang. I just let it ring. I didn’t want any empty promises anymore. I didn’t want Aspen or Paris or The Bahamas…I just wanted some kind of truth that I could believe in. Sly wasn’t my man. How could I have been so dense?

 

Chapter 41

 

I envy people who can just look at a sunset. I wonder how you can shoot it. There is nothing more grotesque to me than a vacation.

Dustin Hoffman

 

Kat decided that I needed some major cheering up so she organized a trip to Sannibel Island. We drove across Alligator Alley into the very quaint and lovely island. The houses were large and well kept, with tall grasses and landscaping that made them seem at one with the tropical landscape.

 

We were staying at The Waterside Inn, a small beachfront hotel that was directly on the ocean. The resort was nestled in stately palm trees with a heated swimming pool, BBQ grills and tennis courts.

There were several cottages dotted on the property. There was the Blueberry Cottage, The Apricot Cottage, The Kiwi Cottage, The Grapefruit Cottage, The Raspberry Cottage and the Lime Cottage. We were given the Apricot Cottage.

 

Our room was done up in an airy island motif and bright apricot colors. There were matching bedspreads and curtains and a white kitchen equipped with all the cooking utensils we needed. Most importantly a screwdriver to uncork some red wine.

 

We unpacked all our stuff, clothes, sandals, suntan lotion, IPods, laptops. It was like a home away from home. Kat knew I was in a funk. She did her best to cheer me up but I was a bit despondent.

 

“Ready to go explore the island?” she said

“I guess so.” I said sadly.

“Come on girl, let’s get some bikes and ride around a bit.”she said.

 

We rode around the island checking out the beachfront and the shops. There were so many little shops with treasure and trinkets there. We stopped in one small store. It was called Island House. We browsed around awhile and Kat bought some postcards and I bought an inexpensive shell bracelet.

 

We went back to our room and got ready for dinner. Tonight we were eating at The Bubble Room. It was a magical place, reknowned for its fine seafood and authentic Floridian cuisines.

 

“I don’t know how you keep track of tall the men in your life.” Kat said.

“Well, I don’t have any now, so its pretty darn easy.” I told her.

“You had to figure a guy like Sly…” Kat said.

“Please don’t even mention that name again. Please don’t!” I pleaded.

“Alright, deal.” Kat said. “So what are you wearing tonight?”

“Black jumpsuit, with these earrings.” I held up two large hooped earrings fro her to see. I still had my shell bracelet on.

“I wish I had a boyfriend.” Said Kat wistfully. “I always meet such duds.”

“You must be looking too hard, one will come along right when you least expect it.” I told her.

“I am ready now…Come on universe, hear my plea.”

“Well, I am not. I just want to be alone.”I said.

“Come on, let’s get over to the Bubble Room” Kat said.

 

Dinner was a blast. A waiter in safari gear took our order. I drank plain cranberry juice  and Kat had a Coke. No drinking on this junket. We ordered steak and shrimp. Small toy trains on tracks made their way around us and our table top was made up of toy memorabilia under the glass top. It was a fun, playful atmosphere.

 

Then from across the room I saw her, the woman from the diner. It was Garths wife! She was here having dinner with another man. They were smiling and holding hands.

“Kat, look…Well, don’t look but look over there, in the corner…..” I said discretely

“What is it?” she craned her neck to see.

“In the corner, its Garths wife with another man.”

Kat strained her neck to see. Now the man was feeding her with his fork! This was very intimate. I wondered if Garth knew.

 

The woman and the man sipped their wine and talked. I fund it hard not to stare. I tried not to be rude, but I could hear snippets of their conversation drifting over towards us.

 

“So glad you finally broke free darling.” He said.

“Its lovely Sol, just lovely to be with you now.”she said to him.

 

Sol….Wow, I thought. This was pretty heavy duty.

The man saw me and Kat staring and said something to the woman. They both turned to look.

“Kat, I think we better leave now. “ I said. I got up and walked out of the restaurant with my head held high.

 

Chapter 42

 

I always say shopping is cheaper than a psychiatrist.

Tammy Faye Bakker

 

Beth turned on Channel 3. Amelia Gordon was on, her favorite morning TV personality. She watched every day to see what the fashion diva was wearing, what shade of lipstick she had on, if her makeup was too much or too subtle and to see if she would divulge any personal information and bout her love life. Today Amelia was in a grey silk dress, very chic.

 

Beth liked to keep track of celebrities, to be “in the know.” She religiously read the Enquirer and the star. She didn’t have much of a life of her own, just herself and the cat and of course, Mother. Beth also liked to keep track of Al. She had seen him one day at the grocery store. He had practically followed her down every aisle, snooping on what she was buying. Then she followed him back to his office.

 

That was where she had left the first note. It was a friendly note, she thought. Maybe he was lonely. He was a lawyer, Mother would approve. Not that her Mother approved of any man she had ever brought home, few though they were.

 

Then one day she called, just to see if he was in. His whore secretary said he wasn’t, what a liar. She had waited in her car to see if he was there. That was when she had left the second note.

 

Beth hated to be ignored. She would so some attention getting things soon if he didn’t respond and confess his love for her. That was obvious.

 

Today was Monday. She knew his schedule. He was in the office by eight. Around nine he would go out for a tall latte at Starbucks, taking his dog with him. Beth knew that sooner or later he would be hers. It was just a matter of time.

 

Chapter 43

 

You know, I have guys that are almost stalkers... it is very strange. I had this one guy that e-mailed me off my site, and thought we were boyfriend and girlfriend. He then came to my house in London, I do not know how he found it.

Caprice Bourret

 

Al unlocked the door to the office. There was some mail by the slot in the door, he reached down to pick it up. There were some bills and a plain white envelope. He tore it open, it read:

 

I’m sorry I missed you this weekend. Maybe we can get together soon,

 

Beth

 

Al was livid. Dammit! Another note from that crazy woman. When was this going to end? He put the note on his desk, he better keep it as evidence. The Police would need it to help put this case to rest.

 

Greta was due in about an hour. He was relieved that he had hired her, she was efficient and a good employee. Rather quiet but dependable nonetheless.

 

He jumped on the internet. His favorite website these days was a sportsbetting website. He placed his bets through the firm in Vegas on football, horses, fights. No one really knew Al or knew that he was a spectacular gambler. His  Dad had been involved in gambling, it was in his blood.

 

Al liked to go to Vegas and always stayed at The Sahara. It was an older hotel on the strip but he liked the casino in there, the dealers that knew his name and what he liked to drink. He liked the pool. He liked the young girls in their bikinis drinking all day, so easy to please. Al liked being treated with respect. In Vegas cash was king and he had plenty of cash.

 

Now he had this problem woman on his hands. He would soon wash his hands of this bloody mess.

 

 

Chapter 44

If you don't know the blues... there's no point in picking up the guitar and playing rock and roll or any other form of popular music.

Keith Richards

 

 

Sly sat at the bar and watched Twiggy Longhair. He was a bluesman from Austin,Texas and played one hell of a mean guitar. The club was packed tonight. He needed the business, the overhead was killing him. He owed his sister some cash, not that didn’t already have buckets and buckets of cash.

 

Some girls were at the bar. He looked them over, not bad…He wondered if they’d party with him later. He had the time,  the night was young.

 

Natalie sure had screwed up the deal with that Greta chick. No wonder she wouldn’t talk to him now. He told her the truth, he was dating, not exclusive, didn’t she get that? It was just like a chick to fall in love after the first night. He was tough. Emotional involvement didn’t come easy for him. Maybe  someday, but not right now. Now he was just sittin’ back and enjoying the ride.

 

He walked over to the girls. “A couple of drinks on the house. “ he said. The girls smiled and they toasted. “To the blues.”

 

Looks like it was going to be a good night….

 

 

Chapter 45

Even if you have $20,000 to buy an item, you still try to get a good price at antique stores. I collect furniture, rugs, paintings, frames. Its my hobby to go around to shops and markets.

Ursula Andress

 

Garth picked me up at ten. I was wearing jeans and an orange sweater and he was in beige pants and a golf shirt. It was a casual meeting. I knew some places we could go and find furniture, maybe get some interesting pieces for the bachelor pad.

 

“You look great.” He said

“Thanks.” I said

“Hope I’m not taking up your day off with this.” He said

“Please, I love doing it.” I said reassuringly.

“Ok, where to?” he said

“The flea market.” I said

“Really?” he said

“Its the best place to find really interesting antiques, we can hit the furniture stores later.” I said.

 

We cruised down to Dania Beach and walked around the flea market. There was a lot of old junky furniture but there were some gems strewn around as well. There were assorted lamps, armoirs, end tables and old trunks. We found a nice cabinet made of wood and tin and an awesome picture of a sailboat in an old wooden frame.

 

Garth was happy he was finally out with Greta. It was a relief having a casual friendship with a woman who didn’t constantly demand things from  him. He was going to take it slow.

 

“Want to grab some lunch?” Garth said

“Sure.” I said.

“There’s a diner around here.” He said.

“Sounds great.”

 

We packed the accessories in the car and headed over to the diner. It was an old 1950’s place, with a metal facades and leather booths inside. A hostess seated us.

 

I wasn’t sure how to approach the subject of his divorce. As if he was reading my mind he spoke up.

 

“Joanne and I are getting a divorce, as you know.” He said

“Yes, you told me…I’m so sorry to hear it.” I said

“Well, its a shame. I am really broken up about it…She was my life and we have 2 beautiful daughters…What can I say? I failed.” He said looking sad.

“No, don’t say that…Don’t be so hard on yourself….I saw Joanne in Sannibel you know.”

 

His eyes widened. ”Really?” he asked.

“Yes, it was her. She was with a man, they saw us looking at them.”

“That’s very interesting. That man would be Sol, my new boss.”

“Your boss?” I asked fascinated.

“Yes, he’s been romancing my wife for awhile now. I thought he was interested in me but apparently he had some other motives as well.” He said

“I see.” I said.

“So enough about my sad tales……Tell me about yourself Greta. What makes your world go around?”

 

That was a good question. I needed something in my life to live for and die for, a cause, maybe a child, maybe a passion. I had given up so much of myself to other, now I felt hollow inside, a shell. I was empty.

 

“Right now I’m trying to live a clean and sober life. “ I said. “I’m trying to get my life together again and stay away from relationships that are toxic for me. I said

“Really? Staying away from men in general?” Garth asked.

“No, I mean, yes, I mean…Its complicated….You see, in the past I’ve had some relationships with the wrong people and it kind of messed me up. Now I’m trying to get my life back on track. This time will be different.” I said

 

“Well, I’m pretty much in the same boat, I guess. Misery loves company.” Garth said. “Lets order shall we?” he said

 

We ordered two cheeseburgers and fries and cokes. The food was delicious and we talked for an hour and a half. We left the diner and headed to Fort Lauderdale to some furniture stores. We found a brown leather sofa and an ottoman and a spectacular bedroom set with an islandy feel to it, made of woven bamboo.

 

“I love it.” Garth said. “Do you think they’ll deliver it this week?”

 

We purchased the furniture and headed back up to Delray. The day was getting late and I was tired out. We stopped in front of my house.

 

“Thanks Greta, I couldn’t have done it without you?” Garth said. He gave me a small kiss on the cheek. He drove way and I went inside my apartment. It was small but it was mine. I turned on the TV and made a pot of tea, it was a great date today. Garth had opened up about his past and I felt he understood where I was coming from. I lay down and fell asleep.

 

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