Billy's Baby - Annie J. Rose

Chapter 1


“Plumeria and saltwater and something else, some hint of spice perfumes the air,” I dictate into my phone, and the glimpses of the sea I get during my brief taxi ride show not the generic turquoise water of the Bahamas, but a deeper, sapphire blue in places, that calls to me. “Unlike the stucco behemoths of other Caribbean all-inclusive resorts, my hotel, the Scallop Reefs, has an air of European charm in its exterior that calls to mind the rich wood and sun-drenched skies of a British West Indian style.”

The cab driver wasn’t bothered by my talking to myself on the ride. If he had asked, I would have told him I was a travel writer. But he didn’t seem disturbed, so I carried on narrating notes for my upcoming feature on this trip to St. Martin.

It was a pretty sweet job for a chick with a liberal arts degree in a recession. I wasn’t answering phones at a tech support call center like some of my former classmates were. I got to jet out every month to some new, exotic destination and immerse myself in the place for the fullest experience I could manage so I could describe it to my readers. I loved my job. Even if I’d make some changes given the chance—determine my own destinations and do some ecotourism, stay at more out of the way places and fewer huge resorts. Resorts had service and convenience to recommend them and gave a hefty discount to the publication for the exposure my articles gave them, but they sometimes lacked the authenticity and character I really wanted. It still beats troubleshooting someone’s checkout experience with an expired coupon code at a call center though.

When I checked in, sipping my complimentary flute of champagne—plastic glass, I noted, neither classy nor environmentally friendly—my room had been upgraded to a junior suite with a view of the ocean. That kind of ‘surprise’ upgrade happened to me all the time. No matter how I tried to convince the booking agents that I wanted the most authentic and economy-class experience possible, they continually tried to impress me. I didn’t blame them—a dazzling write up from me in Escapes Magazine was worth more than an expensive ad campaign and drove a lot of web traffic to them as well. I’d still rather see the free perks go to some couple who scrimped for a year to save up for an island honeymoon.

“A mahogany four-poster bed is swathed with romantic loops of white netting, the pristine comforter piled with down pillows. From the bed, I can hear the crash of waves on the white sands below my balcony, and the resort’s designers wisely faced the bed to the French doors and not towards a television as if it were a business hotel. The music of the sea and that intoxicating sense of exotic tranquility captures the romance of this destination perfectly as the sky is painted rose and tangerine by a blazing sunset.”

I checked out the bathroom, hung up some of my clothes, and called Maggie, my best friend.

“Hi, babe, I landed safely in paradise.”

“Again?” she said, faking a yawn, “your business trips are sooo boring. Where to this time?”

“St. Martin. It’s gorgeous.”

“Isn’t it always some gorgeous place with a beachfront resort and a glass of house champagne that’s worth about six bucks a bottle?” she said.

“You say that like it’s a bad thing. I’m going to eat at the poolside bar tonight. Just take it easy, try the fries with the duck fat and then go for a swim.”

“Stop saying duck fat. It’s gross.”

“Duck fat is excellent for frying things. It tastes amazing. Also, you don’t get to say anything is gross after you dated that guy who always smelled like fish.”

“He managed a sushi bar. It was his work!” Maggie countered.

“Yeah, well cats followed him. All the time. That’s not normal,” I said.

“I’m not with him anymore,” she reminded me. “You don’t have to give me crap about it.”

“But you didn’t even break up with him because of the smell. You’re so tolerant. I don’t see how you put up with all that crap. Guys are always more trouble than they’re worth,” I said.

“You are not even thirty. You’re not allowed to be that cynical yet. They’re not all losers. I promise,” she replied.

“My faithful little Jiminy Cricket. Name one guy you know personally who isn’t a loser. And your grandpa doesn’t count. No one over the age of seventy.”

“Now you’re just making Copyright 2016 - 2024