The man sitting by himself had to admit they made a striking couple.
The young man’s slenderness made him look taller than five feet, eleven inches. His black hair was worn on the longish side, and it and the slenderness made him look like a model. Twenty-four years old, and three Olympic gold medals. The hero of the famous cycling crash at the Athens Olympics, and celebrated around the world.
The young woman walking with him was a beauty. Golden brown hair, high cheekbones, and dark brown eyes that simultaneously suggested softness and strength.
Neither had yet developed a tan, but he knew they had been married less than a week and this was their first foray from the private house on the beach. They wouldn’t have been spending much time outside. He watched them as they walked through the restaurant, making their way to the resort’s general manager, seated at a prominent table on the terrace overlooking the ocean. He noticed everyone else in the restaurant seemed to be watching them as well. And a few people appeared to recognize the young man.
He watched without others noticing he was watching. The young Olympic hero with connections to wealth and the British royal family, who had chosen to become an Anglican priest. And his striking wife of four days, an artist already being written up for her work. He had seen the art magazine reviews. And she was all of twenty-two.
His server quietly appeared at the table, and the man glanced again at the menu in front of him. In flawless American English, he ordered a roasted fish and a glass of Chablis. He looked again toward the terrace, and saw the couple talking animatedly with the general manager. The Chablis, in a fine crystal glass, was placed in front of him, and he nodded his thanks.
When asked, he told people his great-grandparents had come to America from Spain, that he had inherited his almost tanned complexion and jet-black hair from his Spanish-looking mother. But his name was Thomas, Ted Thomas. Born and raised in Dallas. Attended the University of Arkansas. An MBA from Southern Methodist University. Based in Chicago and working for a Big 5 management consulting firm on mergers and acquisitions. Vacationing here on Kauai for a week of some needed rest.
And it was true. All of it. Except at this very moment Ted Thomas thought he was in Chicago, sound asleep in suburban Oak Brook. Ted Thomas was not registered at this rather luxurious resort on the Hawaiian island of Kauai.
He looked again at the table on the terrace. The general manager, a Swiss national, was laughing with the young couple.
He watched, and he waited. His instructions had been simple. Watch them, and wait for the phone call, a phone call which would come only when the time was right. In the profession he had chosen, patience was a supreme virtue.
The wine was good. The roasted fish was good as well. He looked over to see the couple and the manager eating their dinners.
He dawdled over his coffee as he watched the clouds and setting sun frame the threesome on the terrace.
Glancing at his watch, set to London time, he knew that this was not the time. He scribbled his name and room number on the bill and left the restaurant. He chose to walk back by way of the beach, allowing the sounds of the outgoing tide to remind him of home. His real home. The terrain was markedly different, but the sounds of the waves were much like those on the beaches near where he grew up in Beirut.
He felt the heaviness of the gun in his coat pocket.
No, the time had not come. But it would. And soon.
This story is a piece of new text I’m working on for A Light Shining, the sequel to Dancing Priest. It will likely change a few times and be made over, but it gives something of an indication of where the story is headed.
Photograph: Beach House Restaurant, Kauai.