You are reading: Ways to Skin a Cat

Written by Antagony on 11 Jun 2017 12:30.

Forty-eight hour ago, Nash had flown into Fiumicino. He did a little sight-seeing and dined alone before crashing in his hotel room. It was after the fact, when he failed to answer his wake-up call early that morning that he regretted having too much of the Chianti. And of having the bolognese at all. It was a stroke of luck that his connection to Catania had been delayed.

Since then, he’d had time to nap on the train, but was still tired. He mentally crossed off his bucket list: the jet-lag food poisoning hangover combo.

But he could handle it. He was a private detective. Made for long nights, Nash could cope with things trying to kill him. He was still well enough to take on a journey over water. That’s what he told himself.

Although a little grey, he was a handsome man. Short stubble on his chin, a prominent nose and blue eyes. Watchful eyes, which, now that he had climbed aboard, swept the lower deck.

Unfortunately he saw he wasn’t alone, but he suddenly felt too nauseous to hold it in any longer. So a tired, hungover James loped from one side of the lower deck to the other. Despite what people might think of him. He retched and retched as he doubled over the cold stainless steel of the railing. Nothing came up, just his hot breath, and the bitter taste of bile in his mouth.

Nash turned slowly around, wiping a bead of sweat from his brow and spittle from the corner of his lips. Then he slumped and squatted down; crossing his arms and hanging his head between his legs.

“Fuckin’ bolognese.”

He’d been the second to last to board; after the ship’s first mate but before another passenger. A very young woman whose passport was confiscated by the first mate and hastily taken to his superior. When Nash paused for a moment to look the woman over, she didn’t seem like the thieving type. More mysterious and perhaps a little aloof. Nevertheless, patiently waiting ashore.  

A voice called out from above him, and Nash looked up to see it belonged to the first mate scaling back down the companionway. He spoke in Italian so only the two deckhands, who seemed to have appeared out of nowhere, could understand him. But it was clear enough to Nash, a man with just the one language in his mouth, that the orders were to let the mystery woman aboard, and assist her with her bags. So mysterious was she, she immediately added to their instructions and issued a finger of warning.

Each man replied, “Sì, signorina.”

Among her luggage was an average-sized, plain black rolling suitcase with matching tote, and an ornately embossed wooden trunk, so large and heavy, the younger deckhands struggled to carry it up the gangway. The men quickly reddened and sweat while the woman smiled and strolled up the plank quite literally unburdened.

Up close, the woman was jailbait. She looked like she could be older, but Nash soon saw that wasn’t the case. She wasn’t so much a woman as she was a girl. She had a mature face, but he knew there was no way she was over eighteen. Seventeen was pushing it. So tempting was she to want to approach; to proposition even. She had the kind of crooked smirk that went hand in hand with promiscuity. He’d seen it his line of work countless times. He’d seen the young girls wearing the same black dresses as her. The ones with a hemline so low you could tell she wasn’t wearing underwear, in a single honest glance. But he knew better. On top of everything else, Nash was twice her age.

He scoffed and looked away as she kept on walking. The first mate and the deckhands meanwhile stared right at her ass. Not even discreetly. Nash tried to decide who was the most overt. And who was the most perverted.

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