One Year from Tuesday

Looking at the scene before her, Reisha felt as if she had been transported to an alternate universe. Just two hours earlier, the dignitaries in the room had been carefully dressed in perfectly tailored tuxedos and the latest evening gowns from Trinidad and St. Maarten dripping with jewels as they dined and shared pleasantries.

Now, the tables in the Antigua Grand Ballroom looked bare as everyone but Reisha seemed to be on the dance floor. Bow ties had been undone, high heels flung off and the dripping jewels were now matched by drooping hairdos as the executives and major shareholders of the Caribbean Business Group (CBG) surrendered to the music.

Reisha stood near the bar wishing she was bold enough to take her flirty red cocktail dress out on the floor without a partner. Tonight seemed all about couples and she almost regretted not borrowing a date for the evening. She shifted uncomfortably in her five inch heels, which accentuated her long legs but, made her calves ache now that she had been on her feet for so many hours. She longed to kick them off.

Reisha turned her focus back to the dance floor, and tried not to laugh when she spotted the host moving his hips in a poor attempt at the dollar whine with his wife. She spotted one of the region’s top surgeons hamming it up with his wife, the first female prime minister of St. Kitts & Nevis. She waved as the host caught her eye. He had spared no expense on the entertainment, food, drinks and security to make sure the guests had a great time. As one of the largest publicly traded companies, CBG had the who’s who of the Caribbean owning shares and most of them seemed to have found their way to Antigua to celebrate. The soca artist who’d worked them into a frenzy before handing off to the deejay, was now wrapped around a lovely young model. There wasn’t a dry outfit in the room except for the waiters and Reisha.

Reisha walked closer to the dance floor and used her phone to snap a few pictures of the dignitaries letting their hair down.

“These might be persuasive when I am looking for victims, sorry, volunteers for next month’s Children’s Charity Fun Day,” she thought mischievously.  The fun day was her annual fundraiser to benefit children’s homes around the region and she was always looking for new faces to collaborate with to bring attention to the charities.

‘A little motivation couldn’t hurt,’ she thought smiling.

 ‘Don’t you ever leave that thing at home?’

Reisha jumped, recognizing the voice of the man who’d come up next to her while she was snapping away.

‘The day I see you without yours is the day I leave mine at home too,’ she replied turning around as she saved the photos.

‘Guilty,’ he responded holding up his phone.

Jason Barnes, the son of the chairman and the one person she kept telling herself she hoped to avoid, looked his usual dashing self despite being dishevelled from his evening on the dance floor.  The tie from his tuxedo was missing and the first two buttons of the crisp white shirt were undone. The black jacket only served to outline his broad shoulders which sat on his six-foot frame. Her heels had brought her almost to eye level with him and he wasn’t bothered one bit. In fact, he took his time to admire her dress, which showed off her dark chocolate skin. The dress had been a bold colour choice considering she spent most of her days in conservative colours but she’d wanted to look different tonight and the look in Jason’s eye said she’d accomplished it.

‘You and I have some unfinished business,’ he said reaching for her phone and her hand.

‘That was just a wild promise to lighten a very tense moment,’ Reisha said trying to pull away.

‘I don’t remember laughing; and when it comes to making promises I don’t joke,’ he said, placing both phones on a nearby table. He dropped her hand long enough to take off his jacket and his assistant appeared out of nowhere to take it. Jason handed the phones to the young man as well and turned back to Reisha.

‘Seriously Jason, we don’t have to do this,’ she said, her voice faltering. She could tell from the look on his face that he was determined to have his way.  She should know better than to challenge him, he always won. Every negotiation she’d seen him work, he always got what he wanted and right now what he wanted was her…on the dance floor.

‘We had a deal and I intend to keep my end of it. Besides, that promise was my motivation to succeed in getting us out of there alive,’ he said and walked towards the dance floor. Nerves threatened to overtake her and she considered walking towards the exit, but the truth was she’d been waiting on this day for more than a year now.

‘I promise you, one year from Tuesday, you and I will be on a dance floor somewhere dancing until the sun comes up,’ he’d whispered to her on that fateful day.

Reisha and Jason had both been participants at a conference at the OECS Consulate in Brussels one year ago. She was one of the only protocol practitioners in the Caribbean region and CBG often used her for their negotiations. The fact that she spoke seven languages meant she was always in demand. She often crossed paths with Jason in various parts of the world and he was always reserved, calculating but downright amazing to watch when he was negotiating.

She had been hired to translate for the visiting Japanese ambassador and to make sure that protocol was recognised for the international gathering. Jason was at the event as the main negotiator for the Caribbean region’s leading technology group. He and Reisha had been inseparable for the three days of meetings with the ambassador and the team of techpreneurs trying to enter the Caribbean market. They had stood together on the sidelines rehashing the day’s successes when the first shots were fired in the banquet hall.

Gunmen had taken over the consulate and killed three people to prove they were serious about their calls for the Belgium government to release five political prisoners. Cowering in the corner, Jason extracted that promise of a dance. Reisha remembered nodding as her heart beat pounded in her ears, though not loudly enough to drown out the screams of the people dying around them. He squeezed her hands and then stood up with his hands in the air.

“Maybe I can be of service,” Jason had said stepping towards the leader. “I’m sure we can work this out if you let me speak to them on your behalf.”

Despite her fear, Reisha was awe-struck by his bravery as he offered to negotiate without an ounce of fear in his voice. The seeds of attraction that had begun to develop during the week took root that night. The terrorists had allowed him to act as the middle man between them and the government and the situation was resolved without more loss of life. Tonight, no one seemed worried about terrorists and the dignitaries gathered were simply in a party mood. However, security was tight and the party goers had come through a series of stringent security checks before entering the ballroom.

Reisha checked that her locs were still securely in a bun then rubbed her hands together nervously wishing she had her phone to use as an excuse to beg off from the dance. Jason had stopped at the edge of the dance floor looking at the crowd and waiting for her to join him.

She hadn’t danced with a man in a very long time. Three years, eight months and four days to be exact; ever since she’d flipped the proverbial sign on her protocol business and thrown herself headlong into work. It was also the day that the mental ink had dried on her divorce papers. Finally she was legally and emotionally free to live her own life. Too bad she hadn’t included dancing on the list of ‘must do’s’ she’d created for herself.

‘One dance,’ she told herself, ‘how hard could it be? Just one dance with the man I’ve secretly loved for the past year.’

‘Until the sun comes up,’ another voice whispered in her head.

‘That doesn’t sound too bad,’ she thought. It could be her only chance to be with him outside of a boardroom.

The music changed to a new groovy soca track and Jason turned towards her expectantly.

‘Might as well enjoy the music and the man,’ she thought as she approached Jason placing her hand in his. Without saying a word he headed to the dance floor. Everyone stepped aside as they neared.

‘Oh gosh,’ the words escaped like a breath from Reisha’s lips. He was leading her to the middle of the floor. She wished the lights were lower and … Reisha gave her thoughts a mental shake and put a smile on her face.

Jason stopped and turned to her, bringing her close with one hand on her back while he held her left hand to his shoulder. She could only stare and follow his slow movements. It was as if he had a different rhythm going on in his head. It was one beat to every three beats but somehow it still fit. He brought her even closer as she relaxed into the movements and then he picked up speed, gyrating as the deejay switched tracks.

His eyes never left her face and he held her with such confidence that she knew she could trust him to guide her.

The couple danced for at least an hour, stopping only once so she could remove her heels. Jason released her, not to rest or to get her a drink but to turn her around so her back pressed into his front. She blushed as she realised she could no longer hide in his shoulder but somehow it emboldened her and she gyrated more, pressing her hips closer to his.

Reisha blocked out everything but the beat of the music and the feeling of being held by Jason. She had no idea what time it was but knew that he had no plans to let her go until the last song was played. She was okay with that.

He eventually released her to get her a drink but even then he stood behind her on the edge of the dance area, moving slightly until she finished.

This was a side of him she’d never seen before. She’d had dinner with him on many occasions since that night in Brussels but she had always attended in the capacity of translator. They shared only one passion she thought, working to make sure the Caribbean got its fair share of international financing and that the countries were positioned to keep up with the rest of the world. Now, she found that they had another shared passion, music.

He let out a whoop as the deejay switched to the latest soca track. Reisha put down her empty glass and followed him back to the floor. This time he wasn’t playing it safe with her. He twisted, turned, dipped, gyrated and took Reisha along in every movement. It didn’t matter whether it was reggae, zouk, soca, old calypso, reggaeton or hip hop, Jason and Reisha danced like there was no tomorrow. He got silly and acted out one track, which got the entire crowd clapping along. Reisha had no choice but to fob off the advances of her suitor as the song suggested.

As the evening drew on, the crowd thinned and the music changed but her dance partner didn’t seem anxious to let her go.

The deejay eventually slowed things down and Jason now soaking wet brought Reisha close to his chest. She’d long stopped caring that her hair was now loose and she was as wet as he was.

‘Thank you,’ he said smiling down at her.

She wanted to say a million things but instead smiled and snuggled closer to him.

‘So what are you doing a year from Friday?’ he asked.

‘A year from Friday?’ she asked back raising her head to look at him. ‘What day is that, a Saturday?’

‘I think so,’ Jason answered. ‘But I don’t know for sure without my phone.’

They both laughed as they realised it had been hours since either of them had even thought about their phones.

‘Well if it’s a Saturday,’ she answered pretending to give it a lot of thought, ‘then I might be shopping in Milan or sunbathing on Barbuda. What will you be doing?’

He stopped moving but didn’t release her.

‘A year from Friday I hope…’ pausing as if to think. ‘I hope that I will be holding your bags as you shop in Milan, or rubbing suntan oil on your skin as you sunbathe in Barbuda,’ he said rubbing his thumb across her  hand.

Reisha searched for words and then settled on ‘So what will we do until then?’

‘Negotiate.’

‘Negotiate what?’

‘We need to negotiate, whether you will move to St. Lucia or I am moving to Montserrat. Whether we want two kids or four, whether you will take my name or keep yours, whether I will need to take you dancing every weekend or once a month and whether I can get the rest of my life to be your husband.’

Reisha knew her mouth mimicked that of a fish but she couldn’t think of anything to say. She turned and started to walk off the dance floor.

‘Hey, where are you going?’

She stopped and turned to him ‘I need my phone so I can record that in my schedule.’

Jason’s grin lit up the dim room as he whooped and lifted her into the air before bringing her down for a kiss.

Written By Nerissa Golden

Copyright goldenmedia Montserrat 2012. The author asserts herself as the creator of this fictional work, which cannot be published or transmitted without her consent.

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