We woke in the early morning—I had set the alarm. I let Marta use the toilet first and I was going to wait until the room was free before using the toilet myself. However, Marta had other ideas. “Don’t tell me you’re shy, not after seeing me in the tub, and not after last night. Oh no, Mister—get in here and pee now.”
So I did—I peed while she watched. “Happy now?” I asked her. She shook her head “yes” as she brushed her teeth with my toothbrush. She was dressed quickly—I still had to shave, but we were done and ready to go in less than an hour. Once again we stopped at the deli for breakfast and lunch. This time I ordered a roast beef sub while Marta ordered chicken salad. I still had the worms from yesterday kept fresh in the refrigerator so we launched the boat and I parked in the first stall I could find. Again the engine started right up and we headed out of the harbor.
“It’s really beautiful,” Marta commented. “It’s much nicer on the water in this little old boat than it was on David’s big yacht. Why is that do you think?”
“You obviously like me better,” I joked, but one look from Marta told me I was right. I extended my hand to her while I accelerated through the inlet, following the GPS’s directions to the sunken yacht. I found it easily using the combination of the GPS and sonar fish finder. I anchored and allowed the boat to drift back over the wreck. I tied off the anchor line and made ready, working my way into the wet suit, checking my regulator, mask, and fins. I also took my light. I expected visibility of ten to twelve feet, but having my own light source would be really helpful in dark areas. I hung two fishing lines into the water so anyone passing by would think we were fishing. In reality the hook-less lines hung just below the surface. I tied the thin nylon line to my belt, instructing Marta. Finally I loaded the Glock and clipped the holster to my weight belt. I wouldn’t use a buoyancy compensator on this dive—too bulky to explore the interior of the yacht. I took my first breath from the tank and jumped over the side.
I finned down easily. The water was only thirty-five feet deep so the top of the yacht was less than twelve feet below the surface. It had sunk in a virtually upright position, making inspection of the hull challenging, but enabling an easy inspection of the boat’s interior. First, I checked the hull; it was exactly as I expected. So was the boat’s interior. Next, I found Marta’s purse, exactly where she told me it would be. Then I began my search; in less than ten minutes I had found exactly what I wanted to know; now to break the news to Marta.
I broke the surface right behind my boat. I called to Marta to help. I handed her the sodden purse, water dripping from the seams. I thought she might need her ID; almost everything else would be ruined, although it might be possible to dry out any cash. She took my fins and mask, placing them on the deck inside the boat. Next I removed the tanks and pushed them up into the engine well at the stern. Now I was able to climb up the ladder. I peeled off the wet suit and toweled myself dry. I placed the Glock in my bag, unloading it in the process. I secured the tanks and pulled in the anchor. We left the area in less than ten minutes. I anchored in a prime fishing area just off Crane’s Neck and baited two hooks, lowering them to the bottom; I handed one to Marta.
“Sorry, Marta, I wanted to get away from the wreck so others wouldn’t know it’s there. I know you’re curious so I’ll tell you what I found—nothing…absolutely nothing. There wasn’t a single bullet hole in the hull, deck, or anywhere, but the sea cocks had been opened. That’s what flooded the boat. Also, there was no sign of your boyfriend. Last night I was thinking—how did this other boat find you at night in the middle of the Sound? Believe me this is much harder than you think unless you want to be found. I think your “boyfriend” faked the whole thing. I don’t know for sure that you were supposed to die, but I do know he left that boat in good condition. Those guys were probably friends of his. I can prove it with a phone call.”
I pulled out my cell. Now that we were only a few hundred feet from shore I knew I’d pick up a cell tower. I called my childhood buddy Jimmy. He was high up in the Long Island mob through his father who was only a step or two below the Don, last time I’d heard. He answered on the second ring, ”Hey, Pete, how’s the teacher?
“Great, Jimmy, how’s…what the hell is it that you do, anyway?” We both laughed at that until I got to the point. “Jimmy, I need to know something. Did anyone from the city take out a guy named…” I looked at Marta for the name before continuing, “David Cartwright. I hear he’s a gambler who’s in the hole…big time from what I’m told. No, I can’t explain now, but I think I will be able to when you call me back.”
“OK, Petey, give me an hour or so and how about calling sometime when you don’t need a favor. Bye.” I explained who Jimmy was and Marta cringed in fear. “Don’t worry,” I told her. “This whole thing stinks. It’s not a mob thing. They don’t usually kill someone who owes them money—they want it too badly. I think this could be David’s attempt to disappear. You’re supposed to go to the police and tell them about the mob hit and how David is lost forever in the water. Then he’ll be in the clear to start over. I’ll bet he has some money stashed somewhere. Either that or he’s taken a big insurance policy on your life.”
Marta looked really down as she realized what a loser her ex-boyfriend was. I was just about to pull her chin up with my finger when her rod bent in two. She jumped up screaming, “What do I do? What do I do?” much to the amusement of the fishermen in nearby boats. I gave her some quick lessons and slowly the fish approached the boat. I was able to net it when she finally brought it to the surface. When I weighed it the scale read just over a very respectable three pounds. I put it into the live well, congratulating Marta on a job well done. That’s when she asked how big blackfish can get. “My biggest is a ten-pounder; the world record is twenty-five.”
“Oh God, it was all I could do to pull that one in. What will I do if I get a really big one?” I laughed at her expression before telling her she had to catch it first. That made her determined. She concentrated on fishing which was great—it took her mind off her asshole boyfriend.
We fished for about two hours, catching a few more fish, losing bait to a lot more. We kept four and threw three smaller ones back. They were big enough to keep, but we could afford to be generous. We were both startled when the phone rang. “Hi, Jimmy,” I began.
“OK, Petey, here’s the scoop. Some heavy guys are really looking for this guy…seems he owes more than a quarter mill, and that’s not including the vig (interest). Wanna tell me what this is all about?” I explained everything including my two theories while Jimmy listened patiently. Then he interrupted. “Listen carefully, my good friend, I’m sending a couple guys over to keep an eye out. Most people would never see them—they’re really good—but you probably will. I don’t want to open the paper some day and see that you’re a statistic. Don’t tell me to mind my own business. That’s exactly what I am doing. Bye.”
“We’re going to have some company—some of Jimmy’s boys. We’ll be able to sleep soundly. I have to go back to work on Tuesday, but I think you should stay. This way I’ll be sure you’re safe. You can stay as long as you want, and, to be honest, I’d like you to.” Marta put her head on my shoulder and was about to kiss me when some damned stupid fish took her bait. She jumped to her feet, playing the fish as she slowly brought it to the boat. She was really struggling. “It must be a big one, I can barely move it,” she managed to get out between gasps. It seemed that every time she made any progress the fish would pull line against the drag. I knew that, in time, she would wear the fish down, but I kept my mouth closed, allowing her to concentrate on the fish. It was almost twenty minutes later that I could see the fish about three feet below the water and it was big. I encouraged her by rubbing her shoulders and back. She had renewed energy and raised the rod, lifting the exhausted fish to the surface. I netted it immediately and brought it into the boat. I weighed it at just under eight pounds. Marta jumped up and down in excitement and threw her arms around my neck. She kissed me passionately as the other fishermen hooted and howled. However, Marta was not to be deterred; she patted my ass when she broke the kiss. The look in her eyes said it all. She’d be having her way with me as soon as we got home.
That was going to be sooner than I thought—we were out of bait. I pulled the anchor and we left, taking our time as we enjoyed the mild weather on the glassy sea. We took a half hour to reach the dock. I tied off the boat and we walked hand in hand to the truck. I spotted two of Jimmy’s boys lounging against a fence. I nodded as we passed. They ignored me, concentrating on Marta; they wanted to be able to identify her. I wasn’t a potential target; she was. It was their job to make sure she didn’t become one.
I was just about to winch the boat onto the trailer when some guy I never saw before asked if we’d sell him some fish. Marta was about agree when I said, “No, but I will give you one of the smaller ones.” I climbed into the boat and gave him a two-pounder in a plastic bag from Wal-Mart. Once we were in the truck I explained that the fine for selling fish without a license was $500 and I had no idea who that guy was, besides this way I’d have one less fish to clean.
We were home in minutes and I could see Jimmy’s men in the rearview mirror. They parked just up the road where they could see anyone who drove near to the house. I put the fish into a big galvanized tub and added a bag of ice, explaining to Marta that a cold fish was easier to fillet than a warm one. I emptied the boat, removed my diving equipment and electronics, and hosed down the entire boat, trailer, and all the gear; I hooked up the motor to a hose and flushed the interior, something I had learned to do as a kid. Then I pulled up a folding chair and covered half of the fish tub with a piece of plywood. I sharpened the knife for a few minutes on a whetstone until it was again razor sharp. Marta brought out a fork and two plastic bags—one for the fillets and the other for the racks--the skeletons.
I’ve had a lot of practice filleting going back to my days as a teenager. I filleted the four fish in no time, even removing the lateral bones that plague blackfish eaters and removing the skin by holding it with the fork and running the sharp knife against it, much like shaving. I ran some skewers through some of the thick meat. I’d add some tomatoes and peppers later for grilling. Now I was ready for a shower. I had installed an outside shower in the back yard especially for times like this. I led Marta to the back yard and began to remove my shirt and shoes. Marta got involved by removing my shorts and underwear over my “strong” objections. Then she joined me. “Good thing you don’t have any neighbors,” she whispered. We soaped each other, taking plenty of time with those special places on each other’s bodies. We were almost done when I heard the alarm. I pushed Marta to the ground and dove for my pistol. I looked up in relief—it was a deer! My heart was in my throat as we both sighed and laughed uncontrollably. I pulled Marta up and dried her carefully as she gave me that look again. I opened the back door, put the fish in the fridge, and walked hand in hand to the bedroom.
We had barely reached the door when the phone rang. I answered it—it was Jimmy. I thanked him for the bodyguards and listened while he asked a question. I turned to Marta, “What’s your surname? Jimmy says he’ll explain tomorrow. We’re going to a party.”
“Vanek,” Marta replied, “but, why…?”
“Jimmy,” I spoke into the phone, “Vanek…yeah, V…A…N…E…K, right Marta?” She nodded and I confirmed with Jimmy. “OK, two at Papa’s…see you then.” I sat Marta on the bed and tried to explain, “Jimmy and his dad have a lot of connections…things and people that you and I could never imagine. I think Papa had an idea why you were almost killed. I get the impression he doesn’t think it was an accident. Oh, I should explain—I spent so much time at Jimmy’s when I was a kid I always call his parents ‘Mama’ and ‘Papa.’”
Marta pulled me to the bed, “Now that you know my name, don’t you think I should know yours?”
“Oh God, you’re going to laugh...let me start by telling you the kids used to call me ‘Peter the Penis’ and it wasn’t because my organ was any bigger than anybody else’s. My name is…Peter Peter Manning. I have the same first and middle name. Isn’t that ridiculous? I’ve been thinking of changing it.”
“What would you change it to?”
I don’t know…anything would be better. Did you ever hear that nursery rhyme, “Peter, Peter, pumpkin eater? Well, the kids used to call me, ‘Peter, Peter, peter eater.’ Oh, come on, don’t laugh…not you, too?” I started laughing with her.
She fell back onto the bed, pulling me with her. We laughed for several minutes before she stopped, looked me in the eyes, stared for a few seconds, and pulled me into a sensational kiss. There was real emotion, and, if I didn’t know better I would have thought real love, in this kiss. Her lips ground into mine, her tongue sought mine hungrily, sucking it into her mouth and savoring it. Marta broke the kiss, moved to the center of the bed, and spread her legs, raising her ankles high. I moved between her legs, noticing how wet and glistening her pussy was. I leaned forward for a taste—she was fresh and clean and delicious. I climbed forward as she guided me straight into her waiting cunt. I entered her fully in a single thrust as Marta gasped and wrapped her legs around my waist. We began moving together—thrust for thrust, breath for breath. She leaned up as I leaned down; we kissed as our passion rose until suddenly we held our breath and exhaled a scream of ecstasy. We came and came; I knew I had never experienced anything like this before. Eventually, it ended and I whispered to Marta, “Wow!”
“Yes,” Marta agreed, “I think you drowned my poor pussy.”
“Speaking about drowning…should I be concerned about a little Peter?”
“Oh, Peter, you’re so cute. No, I had something put under my skin. It’s so much easier than taking a pill every day, besides I’m so forgetful. I could have it removed, if you want.”
I knew she was just flirting, but the idea had a certain appeal, so I replied, “Hmmm, not yet.” I kissed her again.
“Tell me about this party. I think I’ll need some new clothes. The things we bought are OK around the house, but not for a party. Now that I have my credit cards….”
“No, Marta, if someone’s out to get you using the card will be a dead giveaway. We can go out early tomorrow, but believe me you’ll be dressed fine if we don’t. Jimmy’s family is really down to earth. You know—slobs!”
“Oh Peter, that’s a terrible thing to say.”
“You haven’t seen us in action. I’m probably the only person alive who can get away with teasing and insulting Jimmy’s father. They’ll give it to me just as much, don’t worry.” I got up, pulling Marta behind me and dressed. I prepared the vegetables, quartering tomatoes, slicing green peppers, and parboiling onions. I added everything to the skewers, alternating fish with veggies. I started the grill—a Weber I had bought cheap from Jimmy. I frequently prayed that I wouldn’t be arrested for receiving stolen goods. I brushed the kebabs with extra virgin olive oil and set the timer. While everything was cooking I stripped and oiled the Glock. It was an expensive pistol and I might want to use it in the future; hell, I might need to use it in the future. I turned the kebabs after five minutes on very low heat, painted again with the oil, and returned to finish cleaning the weapon. Marta was all questions so I went out of my way to answer her. I had just finished when it was time to eat. I broke out two bottles of beer and we dug in. Marta told me that she loved fish but had never heard of blackfish before. I assured her she was in for a treat. Blacks caught in September and October always tasted like crab, their primary food all summer and fall; spring blacks weren’t quite as crabby tasting, but they were still delicious as Marta soon discovered.
We walked into Macy’s about five minutes after it opened. The women’s department was right on the first floor just inside the entrance. What does that tell you? Women obviously buy much more than men. Luckily for me Marta was a quick shopper—I hate shopping. She looked at maybe five tops and another five sets of black Capri’s before settling on the ones she liked best. I thought she was stunning in all of them, not that I was prejudiced. After the outfit came some costume jewelry and a new pair of matching sandals. It took us an hour.
We returned home, Jimmy’s men with us all the way even though they looked way out of place in the women’s clothing department. I made us a light lunch—a salad—and explained why. Mama would prepare enough food for feed a small third world nation even though there would be fewer than ten people there. We left at one. I stopped at the car to tell Jimmy’s men where we were headed. They just nodded and commented that they could use a little time off. Even the White House wasn’t as secure as Papa’s estate.
We drove west on the Northern Parkway; I hated driving on the LIE—the Long Island Expressway—disparagingly called the world’s longest parking lot by commuters almost every day. The government has made numerous improvements over the years including extra lanes, faster and safer interchanges, everything, but the traffic continues to grow. We exited in Dix Hills and drove north to Centerport. I pulled up to a wrought iron gate built into a high stone fence. I didn’t have to identify myself—I’d been a frequent visitor over the years. “Hi, Pete,” the gate guard, a man I knew as Marco, said, “so this is the mermaid, eh? You do have all the luck. You armed?” When I pointed to the car behind me he laughed, “No need, huh?” I laughed and he opened the gate.
We drove up the drive almost a quarter mile. I knew there would be a reception committee and I wasn’t disappointed. Mama, Papa, Jimmy and his wife, along with his sisters Marianne, and Celia were all there to greet us. I climbed out of the truck and opened the door for Marta who was obviously nervous. I made the introductions—we hugged and kissed everyone as I had told Marta to do-- as Jimmy shook his head, “You are one lucky S.O.B. Only you would find a model. Excuse me, Marta, but if you knew this guy like I do you’d understand. If he stepped in cow manure (he’d never cuss in front of Mama) it’d turn to gold when he tried to scrape it off. C’mon in. We have some news for you."
Marta and I joined Papa and Jimmy in Papa’s office—the women took no part in family business. First, Jimmy turned on the TV—a recording of an earlier CNN broadcast. There was Marta’s asshole boyfriend telling how he had fought off pirates in Long Island Sound, being thrown from the boat into the cold water. He had been lucky when some boaters off the coast of Mystic had heard him and picked him up, but by then his yacht and fiancé were gone. “Fiance? Since when?” Marta exclaimed.
“That, I’m afraid, is the good news, Marta,” Papa whispered. In all the time I’d known him I had never heard him raise his voice. I guess when you have the power he has there’s no need to yell. “James, please give this pad and pen to Marta. Please sign your name three times quickly.”
James brought the pad to Marta who was sitting close to me on a nearby loveseat. Marta shot me a questioning look, but I told her, “Do it, you can trust Papa and Jimmy.” She took the pen in hand and wrote. Her penmanship was exquisite, exactly what I would have expected from an artist. She handed it back to Jimmy who returned to his father’s desk. Papa looked it over and smiled. He nodded to Jimmy who left the room as Papa moved Jimmy’s chair in front of us.
“First, Marta I owe you an apology. I had to check your signature with the one on this paper—it’s not the same and that’s what I wanted to see. I needed to be sure you were everything my ‘son’ Peter says you are. My first obligation is to protect him, and now that obligation extends to you. Let me explain. Today is May 30th; on April 10th your David Cartwright and a woman who claimed to be Marta Vanek bought million dollar life insurance policies on each other at a Prudential office in Manhattan. Subsequently, they underwent physical exams because of the amount of the policies. Ms. Vanek—not you—is five feet seven inches tall and weighs 135 pounds. I venture you’ve never weighed anything close to that and you’re obviously taller. She had light brown hair and brown eyes. Yours are obviously blue. At the same time he told the Martucci brothers that he would be getting a windfall that would enable him to pay the debt he owes them--$264,000 at five percent interest.”
Papa hesitated for a second when Marta seemed to ask a question. “That’s five percent a WEEK,” I told her.
“Is that legal?”
“The Martucci’s do not operate a bank and it is also illegal to gamble with money one does not have as Mr. Cartwright did. It would appear that you were to be that windfall, my dear, especially if your body was never to be recovered. I’m sorry. We heard on the news that he has directed the authorities to the wrong area of the Sound. If the boat were taken as he has indicated it might never be found. No boat—no body—no discrepancy between the description and the actual body. For all anyone would know you could be deep in the ocean.” Marta hesitated only a second before crying into my chest. I placed my arm around her protectively as Jimmy reentered holding a cell phone. I recognized it as a cheap pre-paid and untraceable unit. No doubt it would disappear later this afternoon. “This will be Vincent Martucci who is, fortunately, a good friend of my son. Vincent,” Papa spoke into the phone, “how nice of you to take my call on your holiday. I have information for you in this matter we have been discussing. Your friend was involved in an insurance scam that would have raised him one million dollars. Luckily, he has failed. I say that because his innocent victim sits before me this very moment. I am placing her under my personal protection. I want to be sure you understand. There will be no further attempts on her life, or heads will roll. I suggest you find this young man soon. My step-son who is a civilian will contact the police sometime this evening and I doubt they will do anything until tomorrow morning, so that’s how much time you have. Be careful—I believe they will involve the Feds.”
After listening for a minute he continued, “I will have four of my best men—uniformed and armed guards—with her every second until I know this matter is over. Yes…yes…thank you, Vincent. Same to you and regards to your father and brother.” He hung up. “That’s done, let’s join the others.” He rose and pulled Marta up. He hugged her, telling her that he considered her a part of his family now. “Speaking of family,” Papa continued, “give me your address. I’ll have someone contact your parents. I’m sure they’re devastated.” She was safe. Marta hugged him back thanking him over and over for everything he had done.
We joined the others out by the pool. Marta asked why we didn’t buy a suit for her. “Because Mama and Papa always have a load of suits—brand new—in their cabanas; this way I can turn you over to Marianne and Celia—they’ll take care of you.” Celia came right over, took Marta by the arm and led her away. I went to the Men’s cabana, quickly finding my suit on a hook marked “Peter.” I returned quickly to speak with Jimmy, my lifelong best friend, when I heard a muffled, “…but I can’t wear that,” followed by some giggles and other indecipherable comments. Jimmy was facing the cabana when he suddenly gasped, “Un…f-ing believable!”
“James, get those eyes back in your head if you know what’s good for you, besides that’s Petey’s girl.” It was Andrea, Jimmy’s wife. I turned for find Marta wearing an incredibly tiny suit. The top was two small triangles of shiny black cloth held together by a golden circle and the thinnest gold straps I’d ever seen. It did a magnificent job of showcasing her already fantastic body. It clung to her hips like a second skin; I could just make out her camel toe. The sides of her breasts bulged out the sides of each triangle of what could barely be called a bra. I couldn’t help myself. I was drawn to her like iron to a magnet.
“You look incredible,” I whispered when I was at her side, “even more incredible than usual.”
“You haven’t seen the back yet,” she whispered sheepishly. Rather than walk around her I placed my hands on her shoulders and felt my way down all the way to her bare cheeks where my hands stopped. Marta looked up and laughed, “You’re even redder than I am.”
She was right I was blushing as I turned to a grinning Celia. “Celia,” I shouted in mock indignation, “What have you done to my…?”
“Go ahead, Petey, say it…girlfriend!” Then she laughed some more. I had to stop and think—girlfriend? Was Marta my girlfriend? I was sure she was grateful—she had told me that herself, but did it go beyond that? I looked down at her and I had my answer. “OK, Celia—what did you do to my girlfriend?” That’s when Marta turned my head and pulled me into a brief but passionate kiss. She broke it after a few seconds. “You know,” I whispered, “there’s only one way to hide that butt.” I picked her up, turned, and we fell together into the pool.
We surfaced a few seconds later, Marta still in my arms. “I’ll get even with you for that. Just you wait and see.” She pushed away demonstrating an outstanding stroke as she crossed the pool. I followed quickly, savoring the warmth of the heated pool. Soon Jimmy and Andrea joined us. Andrea spoke first, ”I’m really sorry for what happened to you, Marta, but if it didn’t we would never have had the opportunity to meet you. I’m glad we did.” She came over to her and hugged her as Jimmy and I grinned. I really loved Andrea; she was great for Jimmy. We chatted and joked and Mama, who never used the pool, brought over some cold beer. She sat nearby as she joined the conversation. They learned all about Marta, even some things she hadn’t told me. She was having a wonderful time, forgetting all about how her ex had tried to kill her. Then she decided it was time to get even. “I need some lotion or I’ll burn to a crisp.”
We climbed out of the pool and I helped her dry off. Celia produced a tube of Banana Boat, SPF 30. “OK, want me to do your back?”
“Among other things,” Marta replied, “actually, I want you to do all of it.” After I had turned red again she continued, “I told you I’d get even.” Now I may have been a little embarrassed but I could envision thousands of guys who would volunteer for this job, so I got to it. I began with her back, making sure to cover the sides of her breasts. When I moved down I rubbed the slippery lotion into each of her glorious ass globes before moving down to her silken thighs. I finished with her ankles and feet.
I spun her around and began again at the top with her face and neck. I stopped for a few seconds at her breasts, but it was mostly for effect. I especially enjoyed the space between—her cleavage. “You’re enjoying this too much,” she whispered to me just loud enough for everyone to hear.
“You got that right!” I almost screamed much to everyone’s amusement. We sat in the lounges and talked and laughed some more.
We left the pool around four when Papa called us. “I have news for you. Arthur just called—that’s Vincent’s brother, Marta. It seems they found Mr. Cartwright who was somewhat astonished to learn you were still alive. He tried to bribe them to dispose of you, but, of course, they refused. They will address the matter of his debt shortly before they leave him later this evening. Peter, when you go home tonight I think you should call the police. In fact, go directly to the FBI. Tell them….”