“Why do you think Felicia and her father didn’t want us to come to Belize?” Aaron asked at breakfast the following morning. “This place is incredible. What’s not to like?” He gently speared a chunk of mango with his fork and dipped the fruit into his yogurt parfait.
Since they’d arrived at the San Ignacio Resort, they’d been treated like the royalty they were. But it was more than that. The people seemed genuinely kind and hospitable to all the guests. The rooms were spacious and clean, with more amenities than most typical hotels. The views from their private balcony looked out over the jungle canopy, the rolling foothills, and beyond. And if the dinner menu was as delectable as the breakfast, Aaron wanted to bring Felicia for a date. He just wasn’t sure he could drag her across the Mopan River.
“We have had a border dispute for a hundred years or more,” Joab explained. “The people in Belize think they should be their own country. Guatemalans feel they should be part of our country.” Joab had become a fourth member of their group over the course of twenty-four hours. He was like a local guide, providing valuable information most tourists didn’t receive.
“But why do they hate each other?” Aaron asked, setting aside his fork and steepling his hands. “Why did Felicia call the Belize ‘bad people’?”
“I don’t think the Belize hate the Guatemalans,” Joab said. “I think the Guatemalans hate the Belize because someone on the Belize side of the adjacency line has been kidnapping women and children from the El Pilar Mayan reservation.”
“Kidnapping?” Hayden’s eyes were wide. “Why?”
“Probably as slaves or sex slaves. Or both.” Joab shrugged as if that should be obvious to the brothers. “Human trafficking is a problem worldwide.”
“True.” Hayden nodded.
“Do you have a different car?” Aaron asked Joab, changing the subject.
“A different… car?” Joab cocked his head to the side and creased his brow.
“Yeah, other than your limousine.” Aaron was forming an idea.
“I have a sturdy Toyota Highlander,” Joab said. “Good for back roads and hills.”
“How would you like a job for the next few weeks?” Aaron asked. “As my driver and tour guide. I can pay for your nightly hotel room here at the resort, and you can drive us back and forth to Felicia’s and take us wherever she wants to go. I will continue to pay you double.”
“Are you serious?” Joab asked, his bite of cinnamon roll halfway to his mouth.
“Yeah, do you have any family at home? A wife? Children? Something that would keep you from being available over the next few weeks?”
“No, I live with my big family, much like your Felicia does. I am not married.”
“I really don’t want to take public transportation or hire a taxi every day. And I don’t want to rent a car and try to drive myself around. Once my brothers leave, you and I would just be friends hanging out, and a chaperone for me and Felicia so her father doesn’t follow us everywhere we go.”
“I will need to think about this,” Joab said. “And I would need to go home and switch vehicles and pack some clothes.”
“Take all the time you need,” Aaron said. “I’ll reserve your room for tonight in hopes you’ll return.” He took another bite of his eggs, seeing that the other guys were nearly done with their food.
“That’s very generous. Thank you.” Joab had been overcome with emotion upon seeing the regal accommodations the night before, but the brothers assured him money was no object.
The guys finished their breakfast and left the restaurant to return to their suites and prepare for the trip back to Felicia’s house. They had gone overboard with booking too many rooms and suites so that the brothers could each have their own bedroom within adjoining suites, and Joab was in a separate room down the hall.
Between the three living spaces they had a total of six beds and sleeping available for fourteen people. No wonder Joab had been overwhelmed. They would need to re-evaluate those arrangements, especially after Hayden and Owen returned to the States.
The drive back down from the beautiful mountainous resort would have been almost depressing slipping into the reality of city life below had Aaron not anticipated his reunion with Felicia.
Joab would be dropping them off at her house and heading back to Flores. He hadn’t confirmed yet if he was planning to return and take Aaron up on his offer to pay Joab for his continued service as their driver and tour guide.
Until they pulled up to the Cohen’s home and found Felicia’s slightly older aunt sitting on the front porch swing beside Felicia. The woman had to be at least twenty-five and a classic Hispanic beauty with dark eyes and skin, and long, brown hair. She rose from the swing along with Felicia and together they descended the porch steps. Joab turned to Aaron and said through the slider window between the front seat of the limo to the back, “If she’s single, I’ll return in a few hours with my Highlander.”
“Thank goodness,” Aaron said with a conspiratorial grin and reached over to Hayden and Owen for a quick fist bump. He may or may not have texted Felicia to ask if she had a single aunt or cousin to entice Joab to stay. With one quick text he had secured himself a driver. He hoped the rest of his vacation in Guatemala would be that easy.
A stand alone novella in the All's Fair in Love and Sports Series by Julie L. Spencer.