Dominic Manos took the last sip of his martini and handed the glass back to Hanna. She was an excellent chef and an even better bar tender. His yacht, the Atlantis, was brought up north ahead of schedule, with Hanna, four young deck hands, and Captain Daniel Bering at the helm. The uniformed crew operated with seamless precision, the same performance he expected from everyone in his employ. Manos was looking forward to another summer in Traverse City. And he was looking forward to his date with Miranda.
He reached for his briefcase, pulled out a manila folder, and opened an envelope with her name on it. Relaxing in the salon with a stack of newspapers, he thought about re-lighting the fat cigar in the monogrammed ashtray, then changed his mind. Manos smiled at the photograph of a girl in a red snow suit being hoisted up the mast in a bosun’s chair. He liked her sense of adventure, wondered what she would be like in person. He knew she drank too much, which suited him.
Keeping an eye on Miranda during her winter stay in Charlevoix was not just to satisfy his curiosity. Living aboard can be dangerous any time of the year. For a girl to be alone on the dock during a Michigan snow storm was unheard of. Maybe that was part of the allure. Of course, his intention was not motivated by personal gain, or a desire to invade her privacy. His only concern was to provide help if she needed it– a warm hotel room, someone to shovel the walk, and cash if necessary. And also, for no wrong reason, to keep track of the people who spent time with her. It was a lengthy but necessary part of the screening process.
Another photo, and another. He liked the one of Miranda walking down the dock in her bare feet, carrying her good shoes so the heels wouldn’t get scuffed. He was happy for her when she landed the job with James Tiller. His interest in her only increased when he saw her desire to rise above the status of “arm candy.” She was pretty enough, but she also had grit. If things turned out as planned, she wouldn’t have to work another day in her life.
The surveillance reports arrived weekly at his winter home in Miami. Joe Ramano promised him a thorough and professional job, and delivered on his word. And while Manos had his doubts about Neil Lipman, Joe’s brother-in-law came through with flying colors once he figured out how to work the tiny camera. Dominic checked his tie in the mirror, walked down the gangway, and headed for Petoskey.
By now, Miranda had dating down to a science. She had little hope that #30 was going to be anything special. For all she knew, D.W. Manos could be a dock hand, or just another guy she met at a bar. And after finally being with Drew, her heart just wasn’t in it.
Miranda began what was, by now, her nightly routine, but with less enthusiasm than the nights before. She yawned, then went through the motions: little black dress from her vast collection, tall black stilettos, and red lipstick… Revlon Cherries in the Snow, an inexpensive brand, her old winter favorite. She finished with a light spritz of Chanel #5– she was tired of the same old thing, ready for something new.
She headed downstairs, spotted Drew’s University of Michigan ball cap on the sofa. She missed him already. Miranda would be glad when all this was over. She was sick of going on dates, tired of making small talk with boring strangers. Maybe it was a stupid way to find a husband. Maybe she didn’t even need a husband. Surely, she could get another job, make her mortgage payments, and hire a kid to mow the lawn. How hard could it be? She was feeling hopeful, thinking about her future in a different way when the doorbell rang.
She was speechless. Manos said, “Hello Miranda.”
To be Continued…
*This story is based on some true events, however, has been fictionalized and all persons appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real people, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
© 2012, Shoes for an Imaginary Life. All rights reserved.