Southern Cross

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My editing team is PapaKilo14, Dan, OldDave1951, GeorgeAnderson and Pixel the Cat. Harddaysknight is my mentor and gives me critical review. Sbrooks103x also gives me a pre-post read. Thank you, gentlemen, I love you all.

This is a story I have on another site, but I wanted it in here as I rebuild my library. If you have read it, thank you, and you need not read, vote or comment. If not, I hope you enjoy. It fits my nautical themed event.

I was working on my boat and the sun was beating down pretty hard. Some of the wood around a cleat had dry rot and I had found the mahogany to replace it. It’s getting harder and harder to find, but I got lucky and found some in the back of an old lumber yard. They had forgotten they had it, and I bargained them out of it. I don’t think they knew what they had.

I went to the cooler for a beer and I had just popped the top when a van pulled up at the end of the pier. It looked like a rental, and you didn’t see many of those at the pier in that part of Mexico. We tended to old, beat-up pickup trucks for the natives and black Mercedes for the drug lords.

A suit got out of the passenger seat and opened the side door. A stunning redhead emerged. She had on blue jeans and a white button-up shirt. Her hair was that orange flame you see sometimes back in the States, and it hung down past her butt. The two of them came down the pier, checking the names of the boats until they got to me. They saw the name on the side, Southern Cross and they stopped.

The man cleared his throat. “Are you Benson Davis?” he asked.

“No,” I lied. “I’m just a boat repair guy. I can give him a message, though.”

“Do you know where we can find him?” he asked.

“You give me the message and if he wants to talk to you, he’ll find you,” I told him.

The girl spoke for the first time. Her voice was low and husky and I wanted her to keep talking. It sent a thrill through me for some reason. She was drop dead gorgeous. She had a tan, which was odd for a redhead, but she had that kind of skin. She was tall and slender and she couldn’t hide the size of her breasts under that shirt. Her face was off the front page of a fashion magazine. She had huge green eyes and a dusting of freckles across the bridge of her perfect nose. Her lips were full and luscious and she had those high cheekbones that are the trademark of beauty. She was obviously very young, maybe eighteen, I guessed.

“When you see him, tell him that his daughter is in town and looking for him,” she said. “My name is Pendry. We’re staying at the Flamingo and I’ll meet him in the restaurant if he wants to talk to me.”

She turned away and they walked back to the van, leaving me standing there stunned. What the hell? I didn’t have a daughter. I’d been married once, but my ex got tired of being married to a guy that was only home two months out of the year. We never had any kids and I hadn’t heard from her in years. What the hell?

I wondered if this was some sort of scam someone was trying to pull. The problem with that was, no one knew I had money. I did, but I never spent it in the same place twice. The gold I found on that wreck off the coast of Peru had never been reported, and I had converted it into a dozen different currencies in a dozen different countries over a decade. I couldn’t even imagine how they found me. I try to make it hard to find me. I don’t use cell phones and I don’t use computers. I haven’t been in the States for fifteen years and I had changed berths twice this year. I must have slipped somewhere.

I sat down and drank my beer. The Southern Cross was a comfortable old tub. It was built for a Columbian drug lord back in the seventies and she was a mess when I got her. I had her in tip top shape. She had 120 feet of waterline and three nice roomy cabins. Her twin diesels could make 20 knots in a good sea, and I had a nice little 24 foot runabout I towed. I finished the deck work and put on a coat of spar varnish while I thought about what was happening.

When I was done, I had made up my mind. I would check the situation out and see what was up. Whatever happened, I knew I had to see that gorgeous girl again. I showered and put on khakis, a polo shirt and my best deck shoes. I sprayed a little body spray on and brushed my teeth. I got the little Glock 9mm auto out and put on a rig. I pulled on a black jacket and looked myself over. I was 40-years old. A life on the water gave me that deep-water tan and I had brown hair, bleached almost blonde by the sun. I kept it short and bristly. I had put on about five pounds and I knew I needed to take it off. It got harder the older I got. I was six four and weigh 240 pounds in fighting trim. I had an exercise room with a treadmill and lots of free weights that I spent a lot more time in than I wanted to admit.

I put on my Oakley’s and went down to the car. I had a 1969 El Camino Super Sport. It was red with the black Chevy SS stripes. It was a 396 stroker and it rumbled to life, turning a few heads in the parking lot. izmir escort bayan I drove to the Flamingo and checked the front desk. They didn’t have a Pendry Davis registered. I thought for a minute. They did have a Pendry Roberts. I called her room and heard that husky little voice over the phone. I told her I had contacted Benson Davis and he wanted to meet her. She agreed to meet in the restaurant in an hour. You needed reservations to eat at the Flamingo, so I made them for an hour later and went to the bar. I watched a soccer game, drank a beer and ate peanuts. I was waiting when she came down and she had the suit with her.

“Where’s Mr. Davis?” he asked.

“Who wants to know?” I asked him.

“I represent Reilly, Swindoll and Crouch,” he said. “We’re a law firm.”

“You should represent yourself,” I told him. “Dinner reservations are for two. If you want to make an appointment with Mr. Davis you’ll have to make your own. This one isn’t for you.”

He looked at her and she nodded. He disappeared and I offered her my arm. She took it and the guy at the desk seated us.

“So, you’re my father,” she said.

“I’d like to be, but no; I don’t think I am,” I told her. “Maybe we can just be friends.”

Any further conversation was interrupted by our waiter. I ordered us a bottle of wine and he left menus and went to get the wine.

“I’m not old enough to drink wine,” she told me.

“I don’t think they care,” I said. “I won’t tell anyone. We should wait until we order and then we can talk about this. Is that okay?”

“Yes,” she agreed. “I didn’t know what to expect. Was that really your boat?”

“It is,” I told her. “Do you like boats?”

“I’m from Nebraska. We don’t have much ocean in Omaha,”

“I don’t want to pry,” I said, “but do you mind telling me how old you are?”

“No, I don’t mind. I’m eighteen. I think you’re forty.”

I chuckled. “I’ll want to know how you know that.”

The waiter came back with our wine and poured us a glass. I ordered an appetizer and he went away.

“If you’re going to be around a few days, I’ll take you out and you can see if you like boats,” I told her.

“I’d like that,” she said. “I don’t know how long I’ll stay. We’ll talk more about it later. Do you live on the boat?”

“Yes, I like being able to move any time I want to. I’ve always loved the ocean and I spend most of my time at sea.”

“Don’t you get lonely out there?”

“Yes, but sometimes I take a lady. I like good books and good music. I have lots of both. I fish; take a smuggling job now and again and that’s how it’s always been.”

The waiter came back with our appetizer and took our orders. When he went away she sipped her wine and looked at me with those big green eyes.

“Why do you think you aren’t my father?” she asked.

“Well, one kind of knows these things,” I told her. “I was divorced when you were born if you’re eighteen. I was at sea somewhere in another hemisphere.”

“I know. Your wife was Lisa Jenkins. She was an elementary school teacher. She was my mother.”

I was stunned. “You’re Lisa’s kid? Why is your name Roberts?”

“Her third husband adopted me.”

“So what makes you think I’m your father?” I asked her.

“Mom told me you were six months ago,” she said. “She was pregnant with me when she divorced you. She told me she didn’t want her daughter to have an absent merchant marine father. She loved you, you know.”

“She loved me so she divorced me?” My world was crashing down around me.

“She divorced you because she knew your first lover was the sea. That’s what she told me.”

“I was willing to give that up,” I said. “I told her I would. I’d have shoveled rocks for a living to be with her.”

“She knew that, too, but she thought you would never have been happy. She couldn’t live with that. She wasn’t a strong person, Mr. Davis. She was just strong enough to set you free.” There were tears in her eyes.

“Hey, kid; don’t cry. Don’t call me Mr. Davis either. My name is Benson.”

“Okay,” she wiped away a tear.

Our food came and it was very good. The Flamingo was living up to its reputation. I poured her another glass of wine.

“I’m willing to take a paternity test if you want me to,” she said. “Mom never lied to me, though. I don’t think she was lying about this. I don’t know what her motive would be.”

“Well, the timing is right. We had a hell of a two weeks before I shipped out for Argentina. I guess that’s too much information. It’s possible, Pendry.”

“You can call me Penn,” she said. “Everyone calls me that.”

“I might sometimes,” I told her. “I like Pendry, though. I have to ask you, how did you find me?”

“I got Mom’s lawyers to hire the Pinkerton Agency,” she said. “I’ve been looking for you for six months.”

“You’re talking about Lisa like that’s a story that’s come to an end,” I said.

“She had ovarian cancer,” she said, choking back a little sob.

I couldn’t stand for this escort izmir beautiful girl sitting across from me to be unhappy. I didn’t know what to say.

“I’m very sorry, Pendry. She was a hell of a woman. I’ve never loved anyone the way I did her. Again, I have to ask you, why were you trying so hard to find me?”

She poked at the last bite of her steak with her fork for a minute. When she looked up her eyes were full of tears. “You’re all I’ve got,” she said. “I thought… I thought…,” she broke down.

I couldn’t stand it.

“If you’re through, let’s get out of here,” I told her.

She nodded and I paid the tab. I gave her my arm and we walked outside to the El Camino.

“Is this your car?” she asked.

“Yes, do you like it?”

“I love it,” she said. “I love the muscle cars. I have a ’70 Chevelle SS this same color.”

“Want to drive,” I asked.

“Really? I don’t let anyone drive my car,” she said.

“I don’t either,” I told her. “I’ve never had a daughter before, though. I let her drive my car.”

I handed her the keys and she fired it up. “What’s it got?” she asked.

“It’s a 396 stroker,” I told her.

“I know what a stroker is,” she said. “This is so cool.”

She punched it once we hit the street and the big Quadrajet howled as the secondaries opened up. It fishtailed a little as the fat tires grabbed for traction and she had it to sixty before she backed off.

“This is hotter than my Chevelle,” she said. “I’ve got a 350 with a radical cam and a Holley. It’s got Hooker headers and a FlowMaster exhaust. Mine sounds better.”

I laughed. “I’m going to fall in love with you, baby. Take a left here and this will take us to the boat.”

She parked and held my hand as we climbed aboard. “Want a beer?” I asked her.

“No, I don’t like the taste,” she said. “I did like that wine, though.”

I got her a glass and a beer for myself. We sat together on the sofa in the lounge and I put on Earl Klugh. The air conditioning felt good and she took her shoes off and put her feet on the coffee table. The mellow jazz guitar sounded crisp and clean.

“You were telling me why you wanted to find me,” I said. “Now don’t cry, it’s going to be okay. Just tell me whatever you want.”

“I can’t help it,” she said. “I was looking for you because I thought… I thought…,’ she couldn’t continue. She sobbed brokenly and I put my arm around her and hugged her.

“What, baby?” I asked.

“I thought you might want me,” she sobbed and buried her face in my shoulder. “I don’t have anyone else and I don’t know what I’m going to do if you don’t want me. I’m almost out of money and I’m desperate.”

“You’re not almost out of money,” I told her. “I have lots of money and it’s all yours if you need it. Forget about that. What did you mean when you said you thought I might want you?”

“I thought if I was nice to you and you thought I was pretty and a really good person you might want me to… stay with you,” she sobbed.

“Baby, baby; you’re breaking my heart,” I pulled her close to me and held her tight. “Don’t cry like this. You’re going to kill me. Let me just get used to having you for a minute.”

I gave her some tissues and she wiped her eyes and blew her nose. She stopped shaking so much and snuggled up against me.

“You’re the most gorgeous girl I’ve ever seen,” I told her. “I like everything I’ve seen about you so far. This is all new to me. Are you sure you want to stay with me?”

“No, but I want to find out,” she said. “I don’t know you except what Mom told me about you. Do you think you might want to get to know me?”

“More than anything,” I told her. “I didn’t even know I had you until today. My God, Penn; if I’d known I had you I’d have been part of your life all along. I’m not some dead beat dad. I didn’t know.”

“I know. Mom never wanted you to know for some reason. Should I call you Benson or Dad?”

“It doesn’t matter,” I told her. “You can call me crazy if you want. I just want to hear you talk. I just want to look at you and hug you and love you. Jesus, girl, you’ve turned my life upside down. Look at you! How did you turn out so gorgeous? You’re going to break hearts all over the world.”

She laughed and it was the most wonderful sound I’d ever heard. I was going to make her do it often.

“Who are you kidding,” she said. “I’m a wreck. I know my eyes are all red and puffy from crying. My makeup is a mess, too, and I feel like a fool.”

“You look beautiful to me,” I told her. “There’s a head over there that you can wash you face in. There’s makeup and girl stuff in the top left hand drawer if you can use any of it. Visine is in the cabinet over the sink.”

I could tell she would want to primp a little. She got up and went in. I watched her walk away, a tall willowy bundle of sexy. She had a fantastic butt under the little green sundress she was wearing.

Stop it, asshole, I told myself. She’s your daughter and she’s eighteen, for God’s sake.

She izmir escort looked like new when she came out. She came right back and snuggled up against me again. She sipped her wine and looked up at me with those emerald eyes.

“Tell me a plan,” she said.

“I don’t have one,” I admitted. “I don’t know anything about eighteen-year-old girls. Tell me what you want to do. I told you we have money. Do you want to go back to Omaha and finish school? I can make that happen. You have to tell me how you wound up in Omaha sometime. You could go to school here. There’s a large expatriate community here and they have a school. You could take some time off and hang out with me. You could start again next year. Do you like school? Do you think you want to go to college? If so, where would you like to go? See, I don’t know enough about you to make a plan.”

“I don’t want to go back to Omaha,” she said. “I do want my car, though. I want to stay with you, wherever you’re going to be. I do like school. I was third in my class in Omaha. I’ll go here if that’s okay. I do want to go to college and I want to go close to wherever you are. If I waited until next fall, could we take the boat and travel around for the rest of the year?”

“Yes, I was planning to do that, anyway. The school can wait as long as you want it to. I am in favor of you going. College, too. A person should have an education. I’m glad you’re smart. It will help you all through life. God, Penn, we’ve got so much to catch up on. Will you stay with me tonight?”

“I just need to get my stuff at the hotel and send the lawyer home,” she said.

“Why is he here?” I asked her.

“You have to sign some papers to take custody of me since I’m still in school,” she said. “You also have to sign as executor of Mom’s estate. She didn’t have much, but we have a little house in Omaha and our household stuff. I’m going to vote for selling it all. How do you think we can get my car?”

“I’ll hire someone to go and haul it down here,” I told her. “What’s this custody thing though?”

“I’m considered a minor child since I’m still in school,” she said. “You’re my father. If you don’t take me, I’ll become a ward of the state. You’re going to take me, aren’t you?” she began to tear up.

“Stop that, Penn. Of course I’m going to take you,” I told her. “How could you doubt it? What have we been talking about here? I just didn’t think about you being considered a minor.”

She smiled and the tears went away. “I’m going to be so good for you,” she said. “I won’t be any trouble, I promise and I’ll help you with everything. I’ll do everything you say.”

“No, you won’t, because I’m not going to tell you to do anything,” I told her. “That’s the rule for you staying. You’re an adult and you’re going to behave like one. You take responsibility for your own decisions. If they’re good, I’ll be your biggest cheerleader. If they’re not, you take the consequences. No whining or trying to evade responsibility. I’ll help you all I can, but I’m not exactly a paragon of wisdom and virtue, myself. You’re probably a much better person than I am. You’ll probably need to help me. I’ve never been a father before, you know. Deal?”

“Yes; it’s a deal,” she said. “Dad, I think I’m going to love you.”

I put my arm around her and walked her to the car. I knew I was going to love her.

We got her stuff and I signed the papers. She gave instructions to the lawyer and he asked me if that was okay.

“Just do what she tells you to do,” I told him. “What’s wrong with you, dude? I don’t know anything about this.”

“As executor…” he started in.

“Stop,” I cut him off. “As executor, I’m telling you to do whatever she wants to do. Got it?”

He did and we didn’t see him again. I made some phone calls from her room and got a trailer started north to pick up her car. She gave me her bags and we put them in the back of the El Camino. She drove us to the boat and I helped her unpack her stuff. She didn’t have much. I wondered how much they’d been struggling financially.

“Pendry, is this all your stuff?” I asked her.

“Well, I have a few more things back at home. Why?”

“You weren’t kidding about being nearly out of money, where you?”

She cried a little. “No, it cost a lot for Mom’s treatments. We were pretty pinched for a long time.”

I hugged her tight. “Come with me, baby,” I took her hand. She followed me to the bridge and I told her to open the safe. I gave her the combination and she knelt down and opened it. She gasped when she looked inside.

I knelt beside her. “You can use as much of this as you need,” I told her. “When you spend it all, we’ll go to the bank and fill it back up again. Memorize that combination. The documents that give you access to all my accounts are in here. I’ll set it up so that they’re all joint accounts with you. That way, if something happens to me, you’ll be fine. I want you to take five thousand dollars out right now. That’s your walking around money. I keep that much, too. When you spend some, you come back here and replenish your supply. I want you to always have money in your pocket. Some of the places we go, a bribe is the way of life. Money can get you out of a lot of jams.”

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