Read Smugglers 4 - South Beach Heat Online
Authors: Gerald McCallum
Sex, Cocaine and Murder
in the Florida Keys
Smugglers 1 Nikki ©2013
All rights reserved
This book may not be reproduced in whole or in part by photocopying or by any other means without written permission of the author.
Smugglers 1 Nikki is a work of fiction. The characters, incidents, and dialogues are products of the author’s imaginations and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
Nikki White was a walking advertisement for suntan lotion. Worn tennis shoes led up to fine tan brown legs that disappeared into a pair of cutoff jean shorts, blossoming into a top that hugged a pair of free breasts that bounced to the rhythm of her walk.
The hot Florida morning created a fine sheen of moisture across Nikki’s clear forehead and the breeze off the Florida Keys lifted her bleached blond hair from erect shoulders. The Harbor Marina she managed lay before her in brilliant splendor, and a sense of pride at what she’d built washed through her. Then she remembered that she was about to lose it all.
She stopped at an old fifty-footer with music blaring from the inside.
“Dave! Dave, turn that music down and come out! Your slip rent is past due. Dave, come on out now!” Nikki didn’t care if any or all of the other boat owners heard her demands. Slip rent was due and despite impending doom, she was going to collect.
Dave appeared at the door of the boat. He looked stoned, and it was obvious he and his girlfriend had been chasing each other around the cabin. He stared at her with bleary eyes.
“Do you have the rent?” Nikki demanded.
“No, I only have eleven dollars left.” His voice was muffled with sleep and too much pot.
“I’m not kidding. I want the rent, all of it, by tomorrow morning or you can untie and head into the sunset.” With one last glare, Nikki did an about-face and headed down the dock to where her soon to be ex-husband was slumming on the 100-foot yacht with old Cynthia, a chain smoker who drank Vodka like a Russian.
“Bill!” Nikki yelled, not caring if she woke up the entire marina. “Bill! Get your sorry ass out here!”
Cynthia stepped onto the deck, the sun striking mercilessly across her face, leathery and aging despite her declared use of expensive anti-aging creams.
“Whacha want?” Cynthia asked, shooting suspicion at Nikki.
“What do you think I want,” Nikki snapped. “My husband.”
“Not for long. He’s asleep. He’s very tired from last night.” Cynthia smiled with exaggerated satisfaction as she lit a cigarette, her meaning too obvious.
“When he gets up, if he hasn’t caught something lethal, have him come down to my office.” The words almost stuck in her throat. With one last look at the door to the yacht’s living quarters, she turned heel, focusing on collecting more rent.
One of her most reliable tenants who worked for her was already up and doing repairs on the dock tie-downs.
“Mornin’, Mark,” she called out. “Did you fix the cable TV connection on slip eight?”
Mark turned his vivid green eyes on her, and she could tell he knew things weren’t going well.
“You could hold off paying me for the rest of the month if it will help,” he offered.
“No, you work here, and you deserve to be paid on time. I’m just pissed that Bill took all the damn money, and now he’s living the life with that five-foot wrinkle just because she has more money than Estée Lauder.”
Mark growled, the sound menacing and sexy at the same time. Nikki wished she was attracted to Mark, because he was not only good looking with a muscular physique and thick salt and pepper hair, he was reliable and kind.
Women loved Mark, and the scuttlebutt said he was highly skilled in the bedroom, with the attitude that lovemaking was all about the woman’s pleasure. One of his girlfriends had confided in Nikki that Mark told his women he was not interested in a committed relationship, just a friendly, mutually beneficial and respectful one. She also hinted that Mark was in love with Nikki and that no other woman could live up to her.
Nikki knew that Mark would give his life for her, but she wasn’t about to take him up on his feelings. Their friendship was too precious to mess it up with sex.
“Take a look at the tie-down on six, too. And let me worry about the money,” she added. Mark put in twelve hours of hard labor at the dock, the handyman skills coming naturally to him. He was skilled at electrical work, mechanical work, tie-downs, and anything and everything that needed to be done. When hurricane season came around, Mark and Bill possessed a unique talent for knowing just how much rope to use and how tight each one needed to be. When he finished weaving his ropes in and out, the dock resembled a monster web. He definitely deserved his paycheck.
“Okay,” Mark said.
Nikki resumed her hunt for rent money, greeting people who ventured out on deck for their morning coffee and cigarettes.
Back at her duplex houseboat, Nikki met up with the upstairs renter, Glenn Carter, a thirty-something bachelor. His hair was thinning a bit, but he was still attractive and he always smelled good. Her heart picked up a beat as she felt his eyes admiring her breasts.
“Hey, Nikki, I heard you come in last night. I thought about asking you up for a barbecue with steaks and a bottle of wine or two, but you got on the phone and stayed there.” Glenn had been hinting at a relationship for years now, one that went far beyond renter and landlady.
“Give it up, Glenn. What’s it been what, two years now, that you’ve been giving me the eye?”
“All you gotta do is try it, Nikki. Besides, I know you need help. All you gotta do is ask.”
“When I really, really need money, I’ll come up with it,” she said, wondering where in the world she’d get extra cash if the rent didn’t come in.
“Let’s just have a drink,” Glenn said. “You’ll feel better.”
“It’s only nine!”
Glenn raised an eyebrow, making him look like a cute puppy dog. Nikki relented. “Okay, I’ll take a Blood Mary. But remember, no matter how drunk I get, no pussy.”
Glenn laughed as he turned to get their drinks. When they sat down on his tiny upstairs deck, she sipped at her drink and munched on the celery stick he’d added to her favorite drink. They chatted about the latest gossip on Marathon Key where they both liked to hang out when they had time off.
An hour later, Nikki saw Bill heading down the dock and toward his car. Waving goodbye to Glenn, she ran downstairs and onto the dock.
“Hey, Bill, where’s Cynthia’s rent?”
“It’s still half my dock, so the boat stays in the slip for free if I say so, and I say so.” He barely gave her a glance.
Anger bubbled up Nikki’s throat. “This is a business, our business that we built together over twelve years of hell. Tell that old bitch she pays rent like everyone else.”
Bill didn’t comment, he just kept on walking, making a beeline to a new Porsche convertible Cynthia had given him for what Nikki assumed was “services rendered.”
Nikki looked up at Glenn, who had obviously heard everything from the upstairs deck.
“What an asshole, huh? Maybe I should sleep with you, Glenn, just to make Bill angry. Then I’ll move on to all his friends.” First Glenn’s eyes lit up, but he scowled at the latter part of her sentence.
“Naw, you’re right. It’s too early.” With a wave, she headed back down the dock, spotting a boat coming down the inlet. It was about a 45-footer. “Yes!” she said to no one in particular. It would do for a first, last and a deposit.
Right on cue, the captain hailed, “Is that slip rented?”
“It’s yours!” Nikki called out.
“A dollar a foot per day, pay by the month, first, last, plus a deposit.”
“I’ll take it,” he said.
He backed the boat in with no trouble, and she could tell he’d spent a lot of time at the helm. He easily tied up, plugged in, hooked up to the water, sewer and cable, then came down the dock to give Nikki the money, twenty seven hundred dollars in hundred dollar bills. “Keep the change,” he said.
When Nikki finished collecting rent from all she could find, she checked the mail box nailed to the outside of her office just for that purpose. It was empty. She headed into town to the bank to deposit the fifteen thousand she’d collected in cash and checks. Now she was only about ten thousand short to make the bills.
She arrived back at the marina just in time to see the Major standing half way down the dock. He was in full dress Army uniform, yelling out orders to the afternoon air. No one was out to receive his orders. The Major was deemed by all as crazy and went off the deep end about once a month. Nikki refused to ‘Baker Act’ him, because he was of no harm to himself or others. Besides, he had a boat full of guns, had been at the marina for at least three years and paid his rent on time every time.
Nikki busied herself with the Major, getting him settled back on his boat. Certain that he was back to ‘normal,’ she stepped back onto the dock where a gay couple walked arm in arm toward her.
“Hi, boys!” she called out. “Do you have my rent money?” They hadn’t come on deck earlier, and she sure as hell wasn’t going to barge in on something personal.
“Hey, Nikki,” they said almost in unison. “We put the check for eleven hundred in the box.”
“Thanks, I appreciate your being on time. Headed for work?” The boys, as she called them, owned a thriving nightclub on Marathon Key.
“Yep,” they said and waved goodbye.
Nikki continued on her quest. She knocked on Slip Three’s cabin door where a quiet couple lived. The man opened the door and handed Nikki his check for eleven hundred dollars. “Don’t put it in the bank until Wednesday,” he said.
“You bet.” Next, Nikki went to Slip Two and knocked. No one answered. She didn’t knock at Mercede’s cabin because she knew the titty bar dancer, part-time hooker, or whatever she was, got in very late.
Nikki returned to her office, checking on the mail box once again. There was a check for nine hundred and fifty dollars from the cop down the way, and the boy’s check for eleven hundred. Now she was just seven thousand dollars short, and it was the first of the month.
Inside her office, she thought about the morning and her predicament. Everyone at the marina must know about her and Bill’s divorce by now. They also must know that Bill was shacking up with that bitch Cynthia who had more money than brains.
Then Nikki thought of something that sent her running out the door and down the dock to Cythia’s hundred-footer. Cynthia was working on her fifth divorce and third face lift. Just one of her divorce settlements would take care of Nikki for life.
Nikki banged on the side of the boat until Cynthia came up on deck. She wore a billowing caftan and heavy makeup. “It’ll be two minutes until the back of her face catches up with the front,” Nikki muttered beneath her breath, not caring if Cynthia heard or not.
“What do you want and why are you banging on the side of my boat.” Cynthia lit a cigarette.
“It’s the first of the month, and I want my rent, all two thousand, nine hundred and seventy dollars of it.”
“I gave three thousand dollars to Bill on Saturday to pay the rent slip.” Cynthia turned on her heel and went inside her cabin, smoke trailing behind her.
Nikki stared long after Cynthia slammed the door in her face. “That thieving asshole! He took my money.” She stomped back down the dock, thinking about how she was going to get the three thousand out of Bill’s hot sweaty hands.