Caribbean Rising Ch. 02byBajanBelle©
Making the Connection
Aliope Hyghet darted sideways through the narrowing gap of the elevator doors, making it safely into the lift just before they sealed shut and the lift began its ascent to the upper level of the arrivals concourse.
"Whew! That was close," she huffed out a breath, grinning broadly at the two men, the only other occupants of the elevator, smiling back at her.
"It's a good thing you're in such fine trim, Ali," the shorter, more portly one said, both dimples winking on his cherubic face. "Just think, if you had even another pound on you, back or front, there's no way you would've made it through that gap."
"Not like you, eh Bishop," said the other man reaching over to pat his companion gently on his protruding tummy. "You would've been squashed for sure."
"Knock it off, Mason," said Bishop, laughing as he shoved his friend's hand away. "You're just jealous that I get all the attention from the ladies. Women like to feel something of substance in their arms, something warm, soft and cuddly, not be poked by all those sharp bones like what you've got, Beanstalk."
Aliope laughed out loud, shaking her head at the antics of the two men. She had got to know them fairly well over the last couple of years since her brother, Damien, had taken up the position of Chief Health Officer at the airport. She was always struck by how much they reminded her of the main characters in the old black and white Laurel and Hardy films which she still loved to watch with her grandparents on Sunday afternoons. Their antics and colourful repartee never failed to make her laugh, sometimes until her sides hurt.
"You here to pick up Damien for your usual Night of the Gruesome Twosome?" Mason smiled at Aliope, as they got off the elevator and began walking along the corridor.
"You guessed it," she replied. "It's the end of the month and his turn to buy so I made sure I got here early. I wouldn't want him to get so engrossed in work that he forgets about our night out on the town."
"Knowing Damien, you were very right to do so, Ali," Bishop chimed in. "I've never seen anyone get so totally focused on work that they literally shut everything else out. Last week I went to his office to pick up some reports and he almost knocked me over at the door, rushing out with this pained look on his face. A few minutes later he came back and I asked him what was wrong. The long and short of it is that he'd needed to go to the bathroom, but had kept putting it off while trying to finish up a report. He'd suddenly found himself with a virtually bursting bladder and had to rush to avoid embarrassing himself. Well, you almost had to pick me up off the floor, I was laughing so hard."
Aliope and Mason laughed loudly at Bishop's description of the look on her brother's face as he'd recounted how he'd almost smashed a few people out of his way in his mad dash for the men's room.
"Believe me," Aliope gasped, holding onto the metal rail that ran along the length of the corridor, "I grew up with Damien and there's no one like my brother for getting so absorbed in everything else that he forgets himself. But I love him to bits and wouldn't change him for the world," she added, still chuckling.
"I can see why you wouldn't," agreed Mason, as he pushed open the door marked Airport Health Authority. "Say what you like, he's one of the best people I know."
Aliope walked into the reception area behind Mason, smiling and waving at a young woman behind the service counter. Aliope noticed that the woman was attired in a lab coat of the same sky-blue colour that Bishop and Mason wore. She flashed the woman a broad grin and a thumbs up as she passed through the door that led to the network of cubicles and her brother's office.
"Elise got her promotion, I see. That's great. She must be really happy."
"And not a moment too soon," said Mason, glancing back. "We've been terribly overworked since Gordon moved on last year. It's not that easy finding replacements because not many people are qualified in the botanical and agricultural sciences required to work as a Plant Quarantine Officer. Elise is very good and she has a way with the customers, so she has been a Godsend in many ways."
"I'm glad that's working out for you guys," said Aliope." Well, I'm going to go and see if I can get Damien to start packing up. We've got about half-an-hour before we have to leave so if I start now, we might actually make it to the restaurant on time. Thanks for the laughs you guys, as always."
"Great to see you, Ali. If you can't get him to move, you can always suggest that he might want to visit the men's room. That should give him a nudge," Bishop said, laughing as he walked away. Mason smiled and waved as she opened the brick red door that led into her brother's inner sanctum.
As always happened whenever she entered Damien's office, Aliope was immediately struck by the almost 360 degree view of what she had long dubbed as the back house and front house operations of the airport. Damien's office was constructed in such a way that as she looked to her left she could see into the immigration area and further out, to the airplanes on the tarmac. Looking to her right she could see the passengers as they exited the arrivals hall and converged outside to make their way to their various destinations. It was a colourful, constantly changing vista which she never failed to enjoy. The floor-to-ceiling windows here being of heavy, one-way security glass, she was free to indulge in her favourite pastime of people watching without being seen herself, in cool air-conditioned comfort and insulated from the noise, hustle and bustle of the lower level.
"Hi Dami," she called out cheerily as she dashed forward to kiss her brother. He was sitting at his desk, surrounded by piles of paper and tapping away on his computer keyboard.
"Hey Ali," he returned the kiss perfunctorily.
Damien went on tapping away for another few seconds before finally pausing and looking up as Aliope headed over to the view into the immigration area.
"What are you doing here?"
Aliope turned around slowly, regarding him with slitted eyes.
"Damien. It is the end of the month and your turn to treat. Surely you couldn't have forgotten that already. I just called you last night to remind you," she groaned.
Damien regarded her owlishly, long tapered fingers of one hand coming up to cover his mouth.
"Was that today? I'm sorry, Ali. I completely forgot!"
She was about to harangue him over forgetting something that was almost a tradition for them when she saw the telltale twinkling in his hazel-green eyes, a sure sign that he was laughing behind his hand.
"Oh, you!" she huffed out. "You had me going there for a minute, thinking you had forgotten our monthly get-together."
"Nope. I got it all right here," he said, holding up a gadget she recognized as one of the latest smart phones on the market. "It has a calendar that reminds me of all my appointments, meetings and dinners with you. I'll never forget a thing again," he added smugly.
"Now, if only we can make sure you don't forget where you put the darn thing," Aliope muttered beneath her breath.
"Sorry? What was that?" asked Damien.
Oh, nothing, nothing," Aliope said, hiding her smirk.
As if he were only now seeing her, Damien let his gaze drop to Aliope's feet where three-inch heeled, white strappy sandals brought her height to an even six feet, just five inches shorter than he was in his bare feet. He admired her long, gracefully muscled legs now encased in tight white jeans, following the lines of her body up to her gently rounded hips, tiny waist and halting for a few seconds on the twin globes of flesh that gave form to the midnight blue, shimmering V-necked blouse that offered stark contrast to the white of her jeans.
He smiled widely as he noticed the polished silver arrowhead pendant resting just at the top of her cleavage. It was a gift, along with matching earrings, for her birthday last year. He had not got the pendant put on a chain. Instead, knowing that Aliope preferred necklaces make of twisted leather and other natural materials, he had asked the young jeweller she frequented to come up with something suitable to hang it on. The young man had brought together thin strands of butter-soft leather in white, dark blue, forest green and yellow, twisting them into an intricate pattern that provide the perfect mount for the pendant.
Following the slightly pointed chin of her exquisite oval-shaped face, Damien was struck again by how much Aliope's skin matched the colour of his favourite café mocha, only a shade lighter than his own skin. As usual, she'd used her make-up so sparingly it was hardly noticeable. She'd touched her full, pouty lips with natural lip gloss so that their own dusky hue offered the perfect frame for the even white teeth that showed whenever she smiled. And that was often, he chuckled to himself. A subtle lining enhanced her almond-shaped, hazel-green eyes, the exact colour of his own. A barely-there dash of silver over her eyelids drew attention to the soft tendrils which framed her hairline before disappearing into the thick mass of mahogany brown dread locks that flowed from a short centre part straight down her back coming to an end just above her pert ass.
"You look beautiful, Ali, as always," he said, smiling warmly at her. "Mom would have been so pleased and proud to see what a beautiful person you grew up to be, inside and out."
"Oh Damien," said Aliope, walking over to her brother for a hug. "That is one of the nicest things you've ever said to me in a long, long list of very nice things."
"Now don't go blubbering and spoiling your make-up," he said gruffly, hugging her to his chest and feeling a little teary himself. Damien drew a deep breath as he savoured the few precious moments with his sister.
"Okay," he said, gently stepping back and dropping his arms. "If we're going to get out of here, I've got to get moving. Just let me tidy up my desk, then I'll go wash up and change and we can go, okay?"
"Perfect. I'll be over here checking out the stud muffins coming into the island," said Aliope, moving toward the view on her right.
"Sure. If you see any, let me know," chuckled Damien, sitting down.
Wrapping her slim arms around the chrome handrail that ran along the glass wall, Aliope propped one foot on the low step that kept objects away from the glass and gazed downward at the throng of people moving through the automatic doors as they exited immigration and customs. She watched the ground tour operators in colourful uniforms holding up welcome signs from the various companies they represented. They flitted to and fro, shepherding their charges on board the big coaches lined up to take the tourists to hotels along the south and west coasts.
Aliope's eyes drifted back to the exit as the doors once again swished open, this time discharging the airport manager. As a frequent visitor to the airport, she knew Harold Oxley on sight since Damien had introduced them soon after he came to work there. She stood up straight as she saw her boss, Cecil Montaigne, walking out just behind Oxley, both men chatting and smiling.
"What's Mr. Montaigne doing here?" Aliope wondered to hereslf. "I don't recall that he was due to travel anywhere anytime soon. Then again, I am on holiday so it's possible something came up in the meantime. Maybe I'll call Jeanine on Monday and..."
Aliope's thoughts drifted away as her eyes came to light on the gorgeous hunk of man walking out behind her boss. There's no way she could fail to notice the physical resemblance between the two men; she'd spent too many hours cataloguing Cecil Montaigne's many attributes with the girls at work not to recognize that the younger man behind him had to be some relative.
"Hubba, hubba," groaned Aliope, shaking her hand at the wrist as though she'd touched something hot. "Now that is what I call a stud muffin and then some."
"Who?" asked Damien coming up beside her and finishing the button on the cuff of his burgundy silk shirt. He had discarded his grey work pants in favour of a cream-coloured pair of corduroy slacks. Burgundy loafers and leather belt completed the ensemble.
"That man, walking behind my boss and the airport manager," she said, pointing through the glass. "He looks like a younger version of Mr. Montaigne."
"Wow, he is a hunk," said Damien. "I wonder..."
"Hands off! I saw him first," said Aliope, playfully poking him in the ribs with her elbow.
"Hey! Cut that out. You know I'm ticklish," said Damien, darting away from his sister. I was only going to say I wonder if that is the Montaigne grandson I heard Mr. Oxley telling the security chief about yesterday. Something about arranging courtesy of the port or something like that."
"Well, that would certainly explain the family resemblance," said Aliope, still studying the man. "He is absolutely gorgeous. But I can't remember Mr. Montaigne saying anything about a relative coming to Barbados."
"Maybe it is an unplanned visit. You've been off on holiday for two weeks, you know Aliope. I know you're Mr. Montaigne's right hand girl and all that, but he's hardly going to call you at home just to tell you his grandson is coming for a visit."
"I know that silly," she laughed, aiming for his ribs again. "I wonder which one he is. Mr. Montaigne has a ton of grandsons."
"Well, whoever he is, he sure looks sad," said Damien, putting his hands in his pockets and regarding the man intently.
"I know," Aliope said almost in a whisper. "He looks like he lost his best friend in the world and could use a good cry and a really big hug."
Just then the man raised his head and looked up towards the window. Aliope stepped back suddenly, as for one crazy moment she felt as if the man had heard her and had looked right at her through the thick glass.
"Did you see that, Damien? It's as though he heard me."
"How could he, Ali Goose," Damien answered, reverting to the pet name he had given her when they were children. "He would have to have the hearing abilities of a wolf to have heard you from where he is and through that cacophony down there. And what are you stepping back for? He can't see you through this glass," he giggled.
"I know... It's just that... I felt as though I could feel him touch me with his eyes. Just for one second there, I felt a connection."
"Well, if he's related to Mr. Montaigne chances are you'll meet him soon enough. You go back to work next Wednesday, right? I'm sure you'll find out all about him then. I expect that by the end of next week you'll be telling me all about how you solved the mystery of the Brooding Stranger. Now, they're gone and for once, I'm all set and ready to go. Shall we?" Damien held out his hand to her.
"Yes sir," grinned Aliope, taking her brother's hand. "I must say I'm very impressed with you for getting yourself that smart phone. As long as you don't forget where you put it, it could prove to be quite the lifesaver."
The two of them giggled as they headed out the door.
Cecil Montaigne was stunned.
Rocked back into his seat by the overwhelming onslaught of emotions rolling off his grandson, he could only hold still as wave after wave of longing, loneliness, despair and need battered against him like the surf against the rocks at high tide.
"Jiordi," he groaned, as tears sprung to his eyes. "Jiordi... Calm down, son. I'm here for you Jiordi." Cecil crawled across the carpeted floor of the limo to sit next to Jiordan, pulling the sobbing man into his arms. "Shhh... It's okay, Jiordi. I've got you, son. Just hold on. We'll get you to the house and get this sorted out. Shhh...
Jiordan allowed himself to be held, sobbing against his grandfather's shoulder. It took a while but eventually the whispered words of comfort soothed him as he held onto his grandfather, breathing deeply, trying to pull himself together. He felt like he was being broken into a million pieces. Feelings he had kept buried deep, deep inside suddenly began surging upward like water making its way unrelentingly up through a blow hole. Way, way deep down he could sense as the other part of him-self began to stir quietly. He was suddenly so tired; it was as though he hadn't slept in weeks. All he wanted to do was sleep, and sleep and sleep.
It was a few minutes before either man registered the persistent doubled-toned ring that signalled an emergency call to Cecil's cell phone. Easing back from Jiordan's hold and guiding his almost limp form to rest fully against the seat, Cecil pried the object from his pocket. Glancing quickly at the display, he darted a glance at Jiordan noting his closed eyes before pressing the button to engage the call.
"Hello, Duncan," he said quietly into the receiver.
On hearing his father's name Jiordan sat up and rubbed his fingers over his eyes, trying to remove all traces of his tears.
"Dad!" Duncan's frantic reply could be heard clearly in the silence of the passenger compartment. "What's going on? I just felt Jiordan connect through the bond. Dad, where is he? Is he with you? Is he alright?"
Cecil closed his eyes as fresh tears welled up.
"Yes, Duncan. Jiordi is quite alright... He's right here with me. We're in the car heading to the house. We'll call you back once we get there. He's not in a condition to speak with you just now," he added, watching Jiordan shake his head.
"Dad, I felt him." Cecil could hear the joy trying to break through the wonder and worry in Duncan's voice from 4,000 miles away. "I couldn't tell exactly what he was feeling, but I felt when he connected with me. We've been praying and waiting for that connection for 16 months. I'd almost given up hope."
"I know, Duncan. I know... However, I'm afraid that it is not just a reconnection with us that we have to be concerned about."
"What do you mean, Dad? I thought you said he was alright?"
"Oh he is," said Cecil. "That is, he isn't physically hurt or anything."
"Then what you mean the reconnection isn't all there is to be concerned about? What's going on?"
"Duncan. Son... Jiordan says his mate is here." Cecil struggled to find the words through his own worry. "Since he said that as we were leaving the airport I would say we have a bigger worry right now because I have no idea who she is, or if she is even anywhere on the island. I don't think I need to tell you what will happen if we don't find her and fast."
"Oh my God," Duncan whispered as the horror of what Jiordan would experience dawned on him. "His mate...? Oh my God..."
From the corner of the seat where he'd retreated Jiordan bolted upright as he registered the conversation between his father and grandfather. His wolf, long held at bay by his human half came fully awake and surged forward at the thought of not being able to find their mate.
"I've got to go, Duncan! Jiordi's wolf is awake and ready to take over!"
Hanging up before Duncan had finished speaking Cecil turned his full attention to his grandson. Jiordan was struggling to keep from shifting as his wolf fought him for control. However, it was not through little effort that Jiordan was able to keep the animal subdued for so long, and he was eventually able to shove him back down.
Taking a deep, cleansing breath Jiordan focused his burning eyes on his grandfather: "We have to find her."
Cecil nodded once as his cell phone began to ring, the double-tone signal alerting him to an emergency call.