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SHE SAID, Youre getting tired of me already.

What, because I said we ought to go out? Room service is okay, but its still room service.

I have to admit, George, youre a lot more romantic than I thought youd be.

I hear myself sometimes, Moran said, I sound like Im about seventeen.

She said, You dont look much older, except for the beard. I love your beard. I love your body.

Even after he had told her why he was here and she was fascinated and wanted to walk the streets of his war with him, they remained in the hotel for the next two days. They needed the intimacy of being alone together, to look at each other with no one watching now and realize, no question about it, they were right. Boy, were they right. Meant for each other. They could say it and it sounded fine. They could say, I love you, earnestly, though so far only in the midst of love, perspiration glistening on their bodies, and I love you sounded pretty good, too. They lay in the sun at the hotel pool, a breeze coming off the Caribbean. She touched him and told him he could be one of the winter ballplayers. He told her she was way better looking than any of the young baseball wives, looked around, realized it wasnt even a contest and widened the scope to include all the girl movie stars he could think of. He believed it. They talked, never having to think of things to say, and were at ease with each other in silence.

I remember times at the club Id see you staring off in space, Mary said, like you were planning to go over the wall.

They lay side by side at the deep end of the pool, facing the afternoon sun, their lounge chairs touching.

I got pardoned, Moran said. If I hadnt, yeah, I wouldve done it. I could feel it coming.

She said, Can we get a few things out in the open?

Its all right with me.

Okay. Whyd you marry Noel?

I think it was her heinie, Moran said. That high, insolent ass, like its got a personality all its own.

Are we going to only say nice things?

Well, you know her as well as I do. Sometimes the things that attract us are the things that sooner or later turn us off. I shouldve looked at her stuck-up ass and known.

He turned his head to see Marys slender body in the yellow bikini, the delicate line from armpit to breast, her belly a shallow basin between the small-bone mounds of her hips. He wanted to jump on her.

You asked me because you knew I was gonna ask you. Where you stand.

I suppose.

Okay, where are you?

Well, not too long ago I almost asked Andres for a divorce. I had the words ready, exactly what I was going to say

He was aware of his instant reaction: great. He didnt tighten, begin to feel trapped. No, he liked what she was saying.

But I chickened out.

How come?

Well I felt sorry for him.

Moran didnt say anything.

Or I felt sorry for myself-I dont know. I thought, if Im gonna leave, I should be going to something I want to do. But even if there was something, I dont want to just walk out. I want to talk to him, so hell understand how I feel. But we dont talk. In the six years weve been together-she turned her head to look at Moran-if theres a gale blowing out of Biscayne Bay in the hurricane season we might get in a good exchange about the weather. We dont even see each other that much. We have dinner together about three times a week. Half the time he doesnt get home till late, or we meet at the club.

Whatd you marry him for, his money?

I mightve.

I was kidding.

No, you werent. But that may be the real reason, security, Mary said. At first I was fascinated by him. General Andres de Boya. In a way I thought he was cute.

Jesus Christ, Moran said.

I did, at first. Mary pushed up on her elbow, getting into it. Usually-well, you know-hes very formal, hes the boss, you have to do things his way. But then when you see a vulnerable side, just a glimpse, you realize hes a person like everyone else.

Regular guy, Moran said.

No, hes not a regular guy. Thats what I mean. He was a soldier in the Dominican army, worked his way up to general, then lost everything. He came to Miami with practically nothing and did it all on his own.

I heard he escaped with a fortune.

You heard wrong. He put fifteen thousand down on an apartment house in South Miami and that was everything he had.

You stick up for him.

George, what do you want to believe? That story-he came with millions on a private yacht, thats baloney. He escaped with his life, very little else. But I know one thing, if he ever has to make a quick exit again hes gonna be ready.

He keep his money under the mattress now?

Mary paused. It sounds funny, but to Andres its real life. He thinks theres always somebody out to get him, so we have full-time security guards, armed. They never smile.

Well, I guess you were head of secret police for Trujillo, Moran said, and now youre sitting on all that dough

That was political, Mary said, were talking about the man now.

Moran could argue the distinction-the man was still responsible for a lot of people dying-but he let it go.

All right, youre telling me why you married him.

Im trying to think of a good reason, Mary said. I was twenty-eight and all the good guys were taken. And he talked me into it.

I hope you can do better than that.

I was ready to get married. I didnt like what I was doing. My dream, always, was to get married some day. She paused, thinking. Hes not bad-looking really, and hes very romantic.

Jesus Christ, Moran said.

Well, he thinks he is, but most of its in Spanish. Hes very, you know, serious, a heavy breather.

Im not gonna say anything, Moran said.

On the other hand hes extremely cold, aloof, Mary said. Sometimes smirky. If I want to see him I practically have to get an appointment. But hes a rock, George.

I wont argue with you there.

Hes absolutely reliable. If Andres says hes going to do something, believe it. Whatever it is.

He wants to buy the Coconuts, Moran said. He had told Mary about Andress sister and the piano player, without going into much detail. He came-I was gonna say yesterday, but it was three days ago. Anyway he made an offer and I said, You trying to get rid of me, Andres? Come on, whats your game?

It brought her upright. You didnt. Whats your game?

Listen, the other day I beat a guy playing tennis, a young hotshot, I said to him, Youre all right, kid. Im starting to say things Ive always felt like saying. But try to get anything out of your husband-I think you could punch him, he wouldnt make a sound, Moran said. Maybe when you married him you thought you could change him. Turn him into a teddy bear. Hes not at all cute, Ill tell you, but you thought you could make him cute.

No, youre wrong, Mary said. She eased back to lie flat on the lounge again. I was working in that law office typing one profit-sharing plan after another, pages and pages of figures, pension plans, trust funds, all due at five oclock, always, and I had to get out. Andres came along-it was his lawyer I worked for. Hed divorced his first two wives. He has four grown children, a girl whos married and lives in California, three sons in Madrid whore in business together-those are the legitimate ones. He let his mistress go I think. And I decided he was fascinating. I thought the difference between us might make it all the more interesting, maybe even fun. I thought, well, assuming theres a person under that cold, formal exterior, why dont I try to bring him out?

Howd you do?

Well, the only thing I can figure out, Mary said, he puts on the front so no one will know what a real asshole he is.

So walk away, Moran said. Whats the problem?

I told you, I want him to understand why Im leaving. I dont want him to think its for any other reason than we shouldnt have got married in the first place. We made a mistake and I want him to realize it.

What other reason is there? You dont like him, thats all.

Theres a good one, Mary said. I signed a prenuptial agreement. I didnt want to but Andres insisted. In the agreement it says if the marriage ends in divorce, for any reason, Im to be given a flat settlement of two million dollars.

Moran said, You didnt want to sign it?

I felt like it was an inducement. I didnt want to make a deal with him. I wanted to marry him. I mightve been dumb, but I was sincere.

Well, it was his idea, Moran said. But if youre worried about what he thinks-I mean you want to prove youre still sincere, then dont take the money.

Yeah, except that I like being rich.

Moran studied her face, the fine bone structure, the delicate line of her nose, knowing the face would change and he would still want to look at it for a long time to come.

You got a problem, he said.

They were silent now. His gaze moved past her to the shrubs that bordered the south end of the hotel grounds. After several moments he said, My first night here, I slept in a hole. Right over where that hedge is

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