Max had been let down. Badly.
Some semi-pro idiot football player had hit on his new girlfriend and she’d dumped him, with only a week to go before their holiday. Unbelievable, especially since he’d paid for the tickets; all he’d asked was that she met him halfway on the hotel costs, which had seemed acceptable to her. Bitch!
He shuffled moodily along the high street, scowling at passers-by. Usually he was the one to end the relationship, and besides he’d invested time and money in this one.
Maybe he’d better not set his sights so high this time, given the limited time available to solve the problem.
His stomach growled, and spotting a hot dog stand he ambled across. As the girl behind the counter prepared his cheeseburger he gave her the once-over. She might fit the bill. She wasn’t attractive, but she wouldn’t scare horses either. All that frizzy red hair, pale green eyes, and god, those freckles everywhere. And furthermore, she was flat-chested; he liked them with a bit more up top. Still not to worry.
He read the name tag on her overall. ‘Jem’.
“How’s it going, Jem?” he said, winking at her, and she blushed. Not a good look with that hair.
It didn’t take long to chat Jem up, and Max didn’t have long. He took her out that night, and offered the air tickets the next day. Her eyes widened, and she leapt at the opportunity. Job done.
The holiday was better than he’d expected. Jem was reasonable company, didn’t rabbit on too much, and wasn’t bad in the sack either. Not red-hot in a bikini though. Max wondered briefly whether he should have risked waiting a bit longer, to find someone with a bit more up top.
Still maybe he was right to set his sights lower, on someone who wouldn’t catch the attention of others. He was still smarting from having been ditched.
By the end of the fortnight he’d decided he might continue seeing her when they got back to England. Always supposing that was possible, he thought briefly, before pushing the thought aside. This was no time to start losing confidence.
Jem was panic-stricken on the last day when, after they’d packed their suitcases and stacked them by the bedroom door, he suddenly bolted for the bathroom and locked himself in, moaning and retching.
He was still in there an hour later, groaning loudly.
“We’ll have to cancel the flight,” she said from the other side of the door. “Are we insured?”
“No,” he moaned, “and I can’t afford to pay for more tickets.”
“I’ll pay,” she said gamely. “I’ll borrow some money.”
“Can’t let you do that, hon,” he said, retching loudly. “Look, you catch the flight. I’ll ring my Dad and see if he can book me a ticket for later.”
“I don’t like leaving you when you’re ill,” she said.
“You’re a good kid, but it’s better this way. I’ll ring you the minute I get back and come round to your place. Take care now, and have a good flight.”
He thought she would never go, but eventually she reluctantly said goodbye, and after a few minutes he heard her wheeling her case out of the bedroom and down the hotel corridor.
At the airport later that day, Max strode jauntily across the departure lounge to catch the second flight of the day to Gatwick. He’d purposely deferred his arrival until the very last minute, and having checked his suitcase in, he hurried through security to the gate.
People were still waiting to board, and throwing himself down onto a seat, he picked up a newspaper.
Suddenly he became aware of a flurry of activity nearby, and looking up he saw Jem standing across the room with a group of armed police. He hid his face behind the paper, perspiration springing out on his forehead.
Something had gone seriously wrong; by now she should have been back inEngland, or in the local nick. Not standing around here in the airport, pointing at him.
A hand fell on his shoulder.
“If you’d like to come with me sir, we’ve a few questions to ask.”
A few minutes later, standing beside his opened suitcase, he saw to his horror the stuffed donkey he’d bought for her; the one he’d carefully filled with cocaine and sewn back up again before placing it at the bottom of her already packed suitcase.
How had it found its way into his?
Jem smiled sweetly at him, her green eyes crinkling at the corners.
Maybe, he reflected moodily as he was led away, he should have chosen someone with a bit less up top