“Why? You think the fisherman could be a psychopath?”
“Everyone’s a little crazy. Some people just hide it better than others.” I glanced at Jamie, who was smiling, before I offered to go with Stella. Honestly, I thought we should all go. I didn’t like the idea of splitting up.
She shook her head. “You’ve done more than enough. It’s fine, I’ll be okay. Just stay in the trees with Jamie, all right?” She waved at us and then stepped into the water. As she waded farther out, she yelled, “I’ll be right back.”
I REALLY, REALLY WISH SHE hadn’t said that,” Jamie said.
“?‘I’ll be right back.’ Now she definitely won’t be right back.”
“What are you talking about?”
“It’s the rules.” Jamie peeked through the mangroves as Stella swam toward the boat.
“She’s fast,” I said.
“Yeah,” Jamie said. “But a massive shark fin is going to appear behind her any second.”
“Don’t say that!” I punched him not so lightly in the arm. “Asshole.”
He was silent for a few minutes¸ and then he smacked my arm.
“You had a mosquito.”
“No, I didn’t.”
“Hey, look.” While we’d been talking, the boat had drawn nearer, the motor loud enough to drown out all our efforts at stealthy conversation. A grizzled, gray-haired old man was behind the wheel, or the helm, or the prow, or whatever it was. His hair hung down way past his shoulders, and a bunch of teeth from indeterminate animals dangled from a leather necklace he wore. He pulled the boat up much closer to the sand than I’d expected he would, and Stella hopped off it and into the water, wading toward the beach. Two guys in polo shirts and khaki shorts followed behind her. One of them wore a plastic visor. Both openly ogled her ass.
Stella motioned for me and Jamie. We walked out into the sun.
“Some friends you’ve got,” Grizzly Man said to us.
“Yeah,” Jamie said slowly. “Some friends, all right . . . ?”
“I told him about the practical joke,” Stella said smoothly. “About Wayne and Deborah leaving us while we camped here overnight, and taking almost all of our stuff.”
Ah. I got it now. “Total assholes,” I said. “I’m so pissed.”
“Can we, uh, get a move on?” Visor Guy said. “We have only, what, six hours left on the charter?”
“Hold your horses,” Grizzly said to him. “I’ll take y’all back out after we drop ’em off at the key.”
“We’re in town only until tomorrow,” Visor Guy whined, looking annoyed with the whole enterprise. “We don’t have time to go back out.”
“I’ll give you your money back,” Grizzly snapped. Visor Guy visibly cheered up at this. “You kids want something to drink?”
God, yes. I nodded fiercely. Jamie was nodding too. Grizzly looked at him a bit longer than he looked at me. “You’re not twenty-one, are you?”
Both of us shrugged at the same time.
“Well, beer’s all we got. Don’t tell no one.”
I smiled. “Our secret.”
Grizzly handed me a sweating can of beer. I was dying of thirst, so I popped the tab and guzzled it—then almost choked. Who would actually want to drink this? I looked over at Stella. I must’ve been making a weird face, because she was smirking at me.
It took us only about twenty minutes to get to No Name Key. Jamie chatted up Grizzly, whose actual name was Leonard, surprisingly, while the polo men tried to chat up me and Stella. She actually managed to be friendly. I couldn’t get there.
The boat pulled up to a small dock, and Grizzly-Leonard hopped off with us. Stella had put her jeans and T-shirt back on, and I looked down at what I was wearing. Jamie’s clothes would do for now, but not for long. They were sandy and sort of damp. And I badly needed a shower—a real one.
“Is there anywhere to get food around here?” I asked.
“No Name Pub,” Grizzly-Leonard said, pointing at a little bright yellow building ahead of us, shaded by palm trees and with an old-timey sign out front. “They open at eleven. The key shrimp pizza’s a winner.”
“And an ATM?” Stella asked.
At this, Grizzly-Leonard laughed. “The pub is powered by a generator. There’s no electricity grid on the island—the residents don’t want it.”
“You’ve got no cash on you at all?”
Stella shook her head. “It was in our things.”
“Which your friends ran off with.”
“Exactly,” Jamie said.
“With friends like that, who needs enemies?” Then Grizzly-Leonard called out to a woman at the far end of the dock whom I hadn’t noticed until just then. “Pizza’s on me, Charlotte—”
“No,” I said. “We couldn’t ask you to—”
“It’s no problem,” he said, grinning. A few of his teeth were missing.
“We really want to get back out on the water,” Visor Guy said. The other one was still staring at Stella. Gross.
“Chill your tits,” Grizzly-Leonard said. “You kids gonna be okay?” he asked me.
We said yes and thanked him, and he took his useless, middle-aged cargo back out onto the water to kill some trophies. My stomach growled.
“What time is it?” Jamie asked.
I pulled Jude’s Rolex out from the front pocket of Noah’s bag, where I’d hidden it. “Ten-thirty.”
“At least when we get to an actual city, we can pawn that thing,” Stella said.
Jamie shook his head. “No pawnshops. No credit cards. No ATMs. We’re going to have to figure out an alternative. But let’s wait till we get inside.”
The three of us basically watched the minute hand tick by as we waited for the pub to open. My stomach was downright angry. When the clock struck eleven, I practically dove into the pub, which was entirely plastered with dollar bills. They hung from the ceiling, papered the walls—every inch of every available surface was covered with them, except for the tables. The woman from the dock showed us to a table near the back.
“What can I do you for?” She handed us three menus. “Any drinks?”
“Water,” Jamie and I said at once. My mouth felt spoiled after the beer. Stella ordered water too, and the waitress disappeared.