They made stops at three different banks. At each she had emptied accounts and filled up others. It was not a difficult process as the bank managers at each had helped her with the transactions. Pedro had helped two of them with their schooling and one had an outstanding debt so making time for Natasha Thomas was not difficult and her visit had been expected.
Ricky’s large frame was leaning against the door of the Mercedes and he was talking on a cell phone which was dwarfed by his large hand. Bolo and Junior were still sitting on the jeep parked behind them. Ricky hung up the phone when she got to the car.
“I think Deo down South. Might be in Moruga.”
“Are you going?”
“Chris them already left. I go stay up here till they find him.” He opened the door for her.
She saw his jaw tighten for a second then he relaxed and looked at her. She said nothing else so he closed the door and walked to the driver’s side.
Unlike the bank, the three men followed Natasha into the club at St Anns. It was closed since it was morning but they all knew where to walk to at the side and knock on the small side entrance. Ricky walked ahead of her while Bolo and Junior stayed behind. She was aware that they all kept looking around intently but she felt no fear. Pedro’s enemies would not be bothered with her and her family now.
Loud music broke the silence of the surrounding area when the club door opened. One of Gomez’s boys, a short bald man greeted them.
“Tell Gomez Natasha Thomas want to talk to him.”
The short man looked them over for a minute then turned back into the club. Roger came out with a white vest and jeans bottomed up and sitting low on his waist.
“Tasha girl. You eh call me first. I would have fix up the place.” He kept his eyes on her despite Ricky steady glare in him.
“I doesn’t matter to me Mr Gomez. It’s just a short talk anyway.”
“Well come let we go to the office.”
Natasha wasted no time when they walked through the door of the small room he called his office. There were two dilapidated chairs and what looked liked an old kitchen table. She had no plans to stay.
“I’m selling this place.”
He had ha lazy smile plastered on his face from the moment he saw her. Now it changed.
“Why you doing that?”
“That is what Pedro wanted. He said to get rid of it when he died.”
“What allyuh read a will already? You eh even bury the man yet.”
“I am the will Mr Gomez. I selling it for 800, 000 TT. You get first dibs but if you don’t have the money by next Monday I putting it on the market.”
He looked at her stunned and Natasha had to suppress the urge she had to smile. It felt good leaving him speechless. She moved towards the door and saw that Ricky already had it open.
“Wait. You give me a week for that kinda money?
“Is either you have it or not but Pedro say that that’s the amount you should have in the bank after stealing from him all these years.”
She was half way across the room and Ricky was practically breathing down her neck. She did not look at Gomez but his rage radiated across the room.
“Wha de……” Gomez did not finish the word or the thought because Ricky spun on his heel and looked back at the man.
“Don’t make that mistake Gomez. Doh play with your life today.” Natasha felt a twinge of fear then. The first she had felt since they came there.
The muscles in Gomez’s jaw worked back and forth as the two men stared at each other. They both knew that any fight between them would end with Ricardo ending his life but the anger was there, the pure hatred between the two men. The music and people around them all seem to become stagnant.
“Ricky leh we go.” Natasha knew better than to touch him but her face was so close to him that her voice seemed to stroke his skin. She felt him letting his anger dissipate but his eyes stayed on Gomez.
“Next Monday Mr Gomez otherwise I have a surveyor waiting to come by and put this place on the market.” She continued her walk towards the exit.
They drove in silence, neither listening to the broadcasters on the radio. She was waiting for him to unravel and settle back into his skin again.
“Where else you have to go?” he asked her
“No where else now.”
He pulled out his phone and called Bolo.
“Allyuh go back to the house….Yes….Later.”
Natasha said nothing as she watched the jeep over take them and head back to Beldon Trace. She just felt all the sleep she had not gotten the night before hit her. She leaned back into the seat and let him drive her to his house. It was a simple place. Three bedrooms, two bathrooms and a large kitchen and living room. He had built it himself and it basic shape and unfussy style suited his temperament. He was a simple man. Alot like Pedro except that Pedro liked the finer things in life. Ricardo was satisfied with food, water and a bed to sleep in. This house was simply a representation of what he had never had. Space and rooms and a house that was his own. The furniture and curtains and the carpet on the floor had all been Natasha’s doing. She had stepped into the house two years before and almost immediately added her touches. He was content to live with just a bed and a few utensils in the kitchen but she would not let him live that way. He let her spend his money and though he grunted at all her changes and suggestions he secretly loved the way all the angles he had constructed now had a look and a feel and a level of comfort.
Ricardo saw the sleep in her face when he followed her into the house. They still said nothing to each other but that was not unusual. They both liked the silence. He dropped the keys on the night table and watched her take off her shoes and her stockings and peel off her clothing bit by bit. Natasha dropped each garment at her feet and felt no sense of self consciousness about her nakedness. It was the first time that day he did not think about Pedro. He did not see him lying on the pavement with his blood staining the grey stone. He reached over and cupped her breast in his large palm and she looked up at him.
“Come let us sleep for a bit nah. I’m so tired.” She said.
He pulled his shirt over his head and watched her get into his bed. He knew that she would sleep as soon as her head touched the pillow and that he would wrap his body around hers and do the same thing.
The sun was not shining with the same intensity when she got up. Natasha looked at the clock on the wall and say that it was four thirty. They had been there since twelve. She was comfortable in her space between his chest and the bed, with her head lying on his forearm. It had become their natural sleeping position. She could feel him breathing against her neck and his free arm was wrapped tightly around her chest. This was the only time he let himself be so close to her. This and whenever they made love. If these moments did not exist she would not believe that he cared about her at all. This was her only evidence of his love.
Natasha had lamented the fact at she had chosen to fall in love with a man like him. One who existed in her father’s world and was the opposite to her in almost every way. His silences and dark mood used to irritate her to no end but somewhere along the line she had learnt to translate them. She knew what he was thinking or feeling at any given time by just looking at his face. She understood that smiling was just not part of his vocabulary and that he was selfish with his words. So she talked and she smiled and she made him feel comfortable around her because it was what he needed. Ricardo was not like any other man but Natasha had learnt to love that about him above all else.
She thought of Pedro then and felt for the first time what must be grief. She felt the emotion suddenly rising in her like flood waters about to slip over its banks. It shocked her and she sat up but felt the pain hit her like a punch to her chest. She covered her mouth and tried to come out of the bed but Ricky wide arm was still wrapped around her torso.
“What happen?” his voice heavy with sleep.
But she could not speak
“Tasha what happen?” he was pulling her back down but she still tried to get off the bed.
“Tasha?” he saw her face then and watched as she struggled to contain the wave but her face and neck was already wet with the tears.
He pulled her into him and held her tightly but her hand slipped from her mouth and he heard her groans of sadness.
“Oh God.” She repeated. “Oh God!”
Ricardo then thought of his mother. He remembered when he had to hold her like this once many years ago and listen to her bawl her heart out. He had had to bear it then but today with Natasha he could not.
He pulled her away from his chest and covered her mouth with his own. She continued to cry and tried to push him away but still he kissed her. He tasted her tears and felt her trembling with the shock of her grief but his mouth seduced hers until he felt her tongue and her lips matching the intensity of his own. He pushed her back gently into his bed until he lay on top of her. He teased her legs apart and entered her as gently as he could. She gasped and got perfectly still for a second but then she began to suck on his bottom lip and she wrapped her legs around his waist. He knew her. He knew how her body responded and what he needed to do to a make her exhale his name into his throat.
Ricardo made love to Natasha then for selfish reasons. It had little to do with how he felt for her at the moment. He did it for himself because he knew that the moment he let the reality of Pedro’s death hit her that his own weak resolve would evaporate. The one semblance of sanity he had been holding onto since the day before would all instantly unravel and then he would be no longer be rational. Then he would have to kill someone.