Trevor had heard the unfamiliar voice and looked out the salon door, seeing the tall, muscular stranger, with a briefcase in one hand and the other reaching into his jacket, taking a step towards Joel. Perceiving a threat, Trevor stepped into the open doorway and said, “I’m Trevor, and you can get the hell off my boat.”
Jim withdrew the photo of Trevor that he’d been reaching for, and looked at Trevor, then at Joel, and then his gaze fixed on Trevor. He turned the photo so that Trevor could see it. “So you are. You and I need to talk, right now, and I’m not going anywhere,” Jim said, sitting down on the cockpit bench.
Joel and Trevor exchanged a worried glance. “Joel, go forward. I’ll see what he wants,” Trevor said, hoping that Joel would understand.
Joel hesitated, and then, his eyes narrowing slightly with understanding, he nodded, and after a glance at Jim, Joel left the cockpit, going onto the port deck and walking forward towards the hatch to Trevor’s crew cabin.
“I’ve come a long way to find you,” Jim said, looking around Atlantis’s cockpit, and then fixing Trevor in his steely gaze. “I am, amongst other things, your father’s attorney. What I need you to do is make a couple of phone calls. The first one is to the Fort Pierce Police, and you’ll speak to the officer who’s been trying to get in touch with you.”
Trevor shook his head. “Not until you tell me what’s going on.”
Jim stared at Trevor for a few moments, and then replied, “Your father has a warrant out for his arrest. It’s not a formal charge, yet, but one of the things he’s suspected of is your murder, a fact you’re already aware of. I want you to phone and confirm that you’re alive.”
Stalling, Trevor replied, “If he goes to prison, I can come home. I could have called the cops and told them he was trying to kill me, but I didn’t.”
Jim nodded, keeping his eyes on Trevor. “That speaks well of you. You need to know that there’s no reason for you to keep running. You can come home,” Jim said, as Joel hopped down into the opposite side of the cockpit, keeping the port helm between himself and Jim. Turning to glance at Joel, Jim said, “This is a private conversation.”
“He’s staying,” Trevor said firmly. “It’s you that’s going, unless you tell me exactly what you want, all of it.”
“I’m not going anywhere,” Jim replied, crossing his arms, only to freeze when he heard the unmistakable sound of the hammer being pulled back on a gun.
“Leave,” Joel said, keeping the .357 he’d retrieved from Trevor’s stash spot concealed.
Jim took a deep breath, and without moving his hand, told Trevor, “Please, hear me out. I’m trying to put things right and I’ve come a long way to do it.”
“How do I know you’re not here to take Atlantis? My dad tried to do that once already,” Trevor asked.
“Your father called me when he was taking her off you. He told me to find a place to berth her, and that he might have to keep her from you until your eighteenth birthday. I know he told you otherwise, but that was what he told me, and asked me to set it up. He wasn’t trying to take your boat away forever, just for a while. I’m not here to take her, no matter what,” Jim said.
“If you’re who you say you are, then that means you’re the asshole suing my friend Lisa’s father, to try to force him to tell you where I am, something neither he or Lisa know,” Trevor said, growing ever more suspicious.
Jim nodded. “Yes, I filed that suit on behalf of your father. However, if that’s what’s concerning you, I can guarantee that it will be dropped immediately. All we were after is your location, which I obviously now have, thus rendering the suit superfluous,” Jim said, trying to give Trevor a charming smile.
Trevor wasn’t buying. “You’ll drop the lawsuit against Lisa’s father? And I’m supposed to take your word for it?”
“How about putting that in writing?” Joel asked.
“That wouldn’t be valid, not at gunpoint,” Jim replied, turning to look at Joel, and then at Trevor.
“Are you armed?” Trevor asked.
Jim slowly pulled open his jacket. “No, and I don’t know where I could get a weapon in Italy.” Turning to Joel, Jim said, “You’d best hope no one saw you with that gun; they’re illegal here and it could get you in real trouble.”
Joel had kept the gun at the ready but out of Jim’s sight, concealing it beneath the towel, and now Joel slipped the revolver into a map pocket on the far side of the port helm station, still out of Jim’s view. Then, Joel picked up the microphone and clicked the transmit key and then released it, before saying, “What gun? I was just trying to make you think I had one.” Joel kept his left hand on the butt of the concealed revolver.
Jim stared at Joel for a few moments. “I know there is, or at least was, a chrome-plated .357 Magnum aboard. Take a wild guess who Dirk bought it from.”
“He said he got it at a trade show in Miami,” Trevor said, narrowing his eyes. “If you’ve been his lawyer for that long, how come he’s never mentioned you to me? I think the first thing I’d like to see is some identification, and then proof that you’re my father’s lawyer.”
Jim glanced at Joel, and said, “Mind if I get my wallet out?”
Joel shrugged. “Go ahead. I won’t click the microphone again,” he said, keeping his hand on the concealed revolver, but growing more confident that whatever the intruder wanted, violence wasn’t part of it.
Jim pulled his wallet and passport out, and then handed his driver’s license, along with the passport, to Trevor. “That gives you my name. Now, if you’ll call Robert Whitaker and ask him who the attorney is who filed the suit, you’ll see that it’s me. I can give you my office number as well. They’ll confirm who I am, but not the party I’m representing. They don’t give out that kind of information.”
“Trev, toss me the driver’s license. Lisa told me the guy’s name, and I think I’d remember it if I saw it,” Joel said.
Trevor walked over to Joel, handing him the license and passport. With Trevor’s body blocking Jim’s view, Joel quickly motioned with his eyes at the map pocket. Then he glanced at the documents and said. “Ainsworth. I think the lawyer’s last name was Ainsworth, same as this guy’s.”
Trevor handed the documents back to Jim. “Okay, so you’re my father’s lawyer. Why did he send you, besides getting me to call the police?”
Jim chose his words with care. “That’s my primary reason for being here. The other is to assure you that your father wishes you no harm, and that you can come home. The second thing I want you to do is to call him and just talk to him. If nothing else, at least tell him that you don’t hate him.”
“If he killed my mom, I will hate him,” Trevor said, and then, seeing a possible route to information, asked, “What about those divorce papers? Was that your work too?”
Jim shook his head. “No, I didn’t know your father then, but I know of them. I can’t answer any questions on that.”
Trevor crossed his arms. “Unless I get an answer about what happened, I’m not coming home for a while, and when I do, I’ll find the Ares, no matter what it takes. Something happened, and whether or not my dad killed my mom, I think he knows a lot more than he’s saying. He flipped out when he found out I was searching for the Ares, and he refuses to even discuss the divorce papers. Just how do you think all that looks, from my point of view?”
Jim was about to reply, as a lawyer arguing his case, but then he reconsidered. “I can understand that, I guess. You’re mostly wrong, but I can’t say why, not yet. All I’m asking is for you to call your dad and let him know you don’t hate him, okay? Or at least, that you don’t hate him if he’s not a murderer.”
“Okay,” Trevor said, with butterflies in his stomach. He’d planned to try calling, first from the Azores, then from every other stop, but every passing day had made him dread it more, and he’d put it off, time and again. Now, he was almost relieved at the prospect of getting the call over with. “I’ll call, and when you see him, you can tell him that I miss him, and I wish none of this had ever happened. That’s the truth.”
“Tell him that yourself, too. It would mean a lot to him,” Jim said, softly. “Okay, first things first; I’ll put it in writing that the suit against Robert Whitaker is no longer applicable. I’ll fax in a withdrawal order as soon as I get back to my hotel, but you’ll have it in writing, right here, if you’ll get me a pen and paper. Now, if I do this, will you call the Fort Pierce police and confirm that you’re still alive?”
Trevor nodded. “Yeah, and I’ll tell them what really happened with Atlantis’s engines when he sabotaged them; there’s no way that could have been an attempt to kill me. I’ll do that, even though him being arrested and charged could solve my problems by emancipating me.”
“Who told you that?” Jim asked, arching an eyebrow in surprise.
Trevor hesitated, and decided that he didn’t want to cause possible trouble for Lisa and Bridget. “I looked up the rules after all this blew up.”
Jim looked at Trevor for a few seconds, aware of the evasion. “Let me talk to Dirk when I get home. The law is complicated, and I’m not your attorney so I can’t advise you, but it’s not a good idea to believe everything you see or hear.”
Trevor ducked inside to the navigation desk, returning with a pen and notepad, which he handed to Jim. As Jim began to write, Trevor asked, “When do you want me to call the police?”
Jim didn’t reply until he had signed the document. “There, that’s proof in writing that I, as the attorney of record, will drop the suit because the requested information is already in my possession. I’d suggest you both sign it and write your names, as added proof that I was here.” Jim handed the notepad to Trevor, who signed and then gave it to Joel, who did the same after carefully reading it.
After the signing was done, Jim continued, “If you have a camera, have your friend, who I’m assuming is Joel Stiles, take a picture of me with you before I go, which will serve as further proof that I was here and thus know your location. The lawsuit is over, I can promise you that,” Jim said, relieved that the lawsuit, which he’d opposed from the start, would soon be a thing of the past.
“How do you know my name?” Joel asked.
Jim had been wondering if they would notice that, and continued his disclosure. “Lisa Whitaker sent a text message, to ‘Trev and Joel’, to Trevor’s old cell phone. I was able to get a copy, and Dirk told me who Joel is. That’s an admission in my part; I’m trying to show you that I’m on the level. There’s also something else you need to know; someone sent me an anonymous e-mail, apparently via a proxy server.” Jim reached into his pocket and handed Trevor a handwritten copy of the e-mail.
Trevor’s eyes opened wide. “So that’s how you found us.”
Jim shook his head. “No, that just confirmed it. I have access to your bank records, which led me to a charming girl at a marina, who told me you were doing a circumnavigation. I looked at a map and guessed that you’d have to probably pass through the Strait of Messina. That was me on the radio earlier, as Trieste, asking for a radio check.”
Trevor shook his head. “I haven’t had any requests for a radio check.”
“Uh, that was me, when you were in the shower,” Joel said, blinking rapidly as he realized what he’d done. “He hailed Atlantis by name, saying he was astern.”
Trevor, already under a lot of stress, glared at Joel for a moment, and then calmed down and admitted, “I’d have probably done the same; radio checks are common.” Trevor handed Joel the copy of the e-mail, and then asked Jim, “Any idea who sent that?”
Jim shook his head. “No, and that was my next question to you.”
Trevor glanced at Joel and asked, “I know I didn’t tell anyone we were heading for the straits, or when we’d arrive. Did you?”
Joel shook his head and answered truthfully, “I didn’t, I swear. When I was drunk, I slipped up and told Lisa we’d been in Pompeii, but we were already in Capri by then. I haven’t told anyone we were in Capri, and sure as hell not when we’d arrive at the straits, or that we were passing through them.”
Trevor looked in Joel’s eyes, believing him. “Then somebody is somehow tracking Atlantis, but the only person trying to find me is my father,” Trevor turned to look at Jim, “and you.”
Jim shook his head. “It sure wasn’t me, and your father knows a lot less of your whereabouts than I do. However, the police are looking for you too, though I doubt they would send me anonymous e-mail telling me where to find you, especially as they don’t know I’m here. From the look of it, it’s from somebody who wanted me to find you. I’ll let you know if I hear anything more.”
Trevor took a deep breath. “When do you want me to call the police?”
“Right now,” Jim replied, pulling out a scrap of notepaper, which held the number, complete with international dialing prefixes, for the Fort Pierce Police Department. Trevor retrieved his old cell phone from the navigation desk, and as soon as he was back in the cockpit, he stood next to Joel and dialed. Trevor waited until the switchboard answered, and only got as far as giving his name before the call was transferred.
“Is this Trevor Carlson?” Officer Gonzales asked. After receiving an affirmative reply, said, “The first thing I need to do is verify that you are who you say you are. Okay, first question, where are you, precisely?”
Trevor swallowed once, and decided to answer. “I’m in Scilla, a port on the north end of the Strait of Messina, Italy.”
“Thank you. Now, Lisa has shown me a picture of you with a monkey on your back. Where was it taken, and with what?” Officer Gonzalez asked.
“Near the middle of the top of the Rock of Gibraltar, about half a mile north of the aerial tramway station. Joel took it, using what used to be my cell phone, before we traded,” Trevor replied, slightly rattled by the rapid-fire, seemingly unconnected questions.
“Can the phone you’re on now take pictures? If so, I want you to have your friend take one of you, right now, and send it to my phone. I want the town in the background, along with part of your boat. I want this done right now, and I want you to have one hand on your head, held flat, palm down. Take the picture and send it immediately, okay?” Officer Gonzales asked.
Baffled, Trevor glanced down the dock and then replied, “Okay, we can do that, I’ll stand by the starboard rail, hold on,” Trevor handed the phone to Joel, who had heard the entire conversation, and climbed out of the cockpit to stand by the railing, with the town of Scilla in the background. Joel lined up the shot, and then put his hand on his head to remind Trevor to do the same.
A few seconds later, Officer Gonzales watched the photo appear. “Thank you. With this, I can verify that it’s really you, and by doing it so fast, there’s no chance it was faked. That’s why I asked you to put your hand on your head: so it couldn’t be faked in advance. So, now that we’ve verified that you are you, one other thing I do need you to clear up for me is; precisely what precipitated your father’s attempt to take your boat?”
Trevor, who had returned to Joel’s side next to the port helm, shuddered and looked at Joel for support. Joel gave Trevor a pat on the back, but didn’t try to tell him what to say. Torn by warring emotions, Trevor took a deep breath, and then another.
“Trevor, are you there?” Officer Gonzalez asked.
“I’m still here,” Trevor replied. “I just... don’t know what to say.”
Taking careful notes, well aware that the subject’s reactions were often far more telling than mere words, Officer Gonzales prodded gently, “What did Mrs. Bellevue tell you to say?”
“The truth, and let you get to the bottom of what happened to my mother,” Trevor replied, shaking slightly. “Okay... We had a fight after he found out I was off Bimini, searching for the wreck of the Ares. Later, we had a bigger fight, over that and the divorce papers I’d found, and that’s when he tried to take Atlantis away.”
Officer Gonzales wrote as fast as he could, and he began asking questions, focusing on the sabotaging of Atlantis’s engines. He was looking for a perfect match of stories, which would have been a clear sign of coaching and rehearsing; he’d interviewed more than enough eyewitnesses to know that real accounts always varied from witness to witness. “Have you spoken to Bridget Bellevue since the day after the sabotage?” he asked in an offhanded way.
Trevor hesitated, not sure how he should answer that. Deciding that there was no harm in telling the truth, he replied, “Yes, a couple of days ago and yesterday. She was with Lisa when I called.”
Officer Gonzales chuckled. “I know her well. I’ll bet she talked your ear off, giving you all kinds of advice, right?”
“Not really. She suggested I try the tiramisu and a type of cheese while I’m here,” Trevor replied, and then added, “Plus gelato, a kind of ice cream.”
“That’s it?” Officer Gonzales asked.
“Sort of... Most of what we talked about was me calling you, and all she had to say about that was just that you’d want to talk to me, mainly to confirm I’m still alive. She also told me to be honest with you.”
“She’s right on that. Now, are you all right? Are you safe?”
Trevor glanced at Jim. “I think so... my father’s attorney, Jim Ainsworth, showed up. He’s here now.”
“Are you under any duress?” Officer Gonzales asked quietly.
“I don’t think so. He insisted that I call you, and wants me to call my father too.”
“Did he tell you what to say to me?” Officer Gonzalez asked, offhandedly.
“Yes, kind of; he told me to tell you I’m alive,” Trevor replied, puzzled. Jim heard Trevor’s words, and smiled.
“Hand him the phone, please. I need to speak with him,” Officer Gonzales said. As soon as Jim was on the line, Officer Gonzales told him, “The first thing I want you to do is get off that boat and walk down the pier. Right now. You and I need to have a talk about your client, who is currently evading arrest.”
Jim told Trevor, “I’ll be back in a minute,” and then climbed down onto the pier. As he walked away, he said, “I’m off the boat. As for my client, how can he be evading arrest, if he’s unaware of a warrant?”
Officer Gonzalez chuckled. “Save the legal games, councilor. You and I need to have a talk, in person and in private. Trust me on this much; it’s in your client’s best interests that you do. I’ll even give you a freebie; now that I know that his son is still alive, your client’s warrant will be lifted within the hour. That will of course change if anything, and I mean anything, happens to that kid. Now, when will you be back?”
Jim tensed, and seeing the grave danger, decided to stall for time. “Probably a few days, depending on when I can get a flight.”
“That’ll do, just make sure you come see me when you get back. Have a pleasant trip, councilor,” Officer Gonzales said, and ended the call.
When Jim returned to Atlantis, he told Trevor and Joel, “The claim is that the warrant is being lifted. I still need to verify that. There’s still one more call for you to make, to your father, but it can’t be from any of our cells; the police could track it to the destination by running our records. I have a Telecom card that will work on the pay phones, assuming we can find one. Want to lock up and take a walk into town with me? I’ll spring for dinner.”
Trevor looked at Joel and said, “Do me a favor: grab us some shirts, lock up, and then catch up to us, okay?” Trevor’s eyes briefly flicked to the port helm station, and Joel got the message; ‘hide the gun’.
As Trevor and Jim walked to the aft stairs, Jim looked over his shoulder and told Joel, “Don’t forget to lock up the thing you said was a microphone.”
Joel cringed, but did not reply.
When they reached the dock, Jim began walking slowly towards town. He glanced at Trevor and said, “Speaking as a close friend of your father’s, my advice to you is to patch things up. He didn’t kill your mother, and he has sound reasons why he can’t explain yet. I know that’s probably hard to believe, but it’s true. He loves you and he misses you, don’t doubt that. I know there are other reasons why there are issues between the two of you, but you can get past that, if you’re willing to make the effort.”
‘He means try to be straight,’Trevor thought, his temper beginning to simmer. “I’m not changing, I can’t and I won’t, and if he can’t accept that, too bad.” Trevor replied with a scowl.
Before Jim could reply, Joel arrived at a run, two shirts in hand, and Trevor angled his head to indicate Joel. “He knows too.”
Jim could see the anger in Trevor’s eyes, and then Jim gave the two shirtless teens an appraising glance, deciding that he was unlikely to be able to convince them both, and a partial step would have to be good enough. “At least try to put that aside for now, okay?”
“It’s not me who has the problem, so I won’t be the one bringing it up,” Trevor replied crossly.
Deciding that was as good as he could hope for, Jim turned his mind to the problem of finding a payphone. Two blocks from the marina, they found their answer: a bus station with a payphone. Slipping the Telecom card – which was shaped like a credit card with one corner sliced off, and was made of thin plastic – into the phone, Jim began to dial.
When Dirk answered, Jim said, “You better be sitting down; I’ve got good news, and great news. First, your warrant should be gone within the hour, but stay put until I confirm it. I’ll get into detail later, but Trevor called and talked to them, which put their minds at ease regarding him being dead.”
Dirk breathed a sigh of relief. “Thanks... Any word on how Trevor is, or where he is?”
Jim glanced at Trevor, and then replied, “Yeah, I’ve got a pretty good idea where he is, that’s the great news: he’s standing right next to me.”
“When did he get back?” Dirk asked in surprise, and then quickly added, “Can I speak to him?”
Jim swallowed once. “Uh, he’s still in Italy, and yeah, here he is,” Jim said, handing the phone to Trevor before Dirk could reply.
Trevor took a deep breath. “Hi Dad.”
“Hi Trev,” Dirk said, feeling stunned and confused. “You’re still in Italy?”
“Yeah, I... Are you okay?”
“I’m a lot better now, thanks to you,” Dirk replied.
Trevor glanced at Jim, and then said, “I want you to know that I don’t hate you. I want to know what happened with Mom, but unless you killed her, I don’t hate you.”
Dirk shivered. ‘You might hate me anyway, once you know the truth about what I did,’ he thought, and then he said, “Trevor, I didn’t kill anyone, but I can’t discuss it, not without putting us at risk. If you’ll just come home, I promise I won’t try to take your boat away again, and in a few months, I’ll tell you everything. All I ask in return is that you stop going off Bimini, diving for the Ares; what you’re doing is incredibly dangerous. Can I trust you to stop?”
“No. I need to know what happened, Dad.”
Dirk sighed. ‘I guess that answers that.’ With a heavy heart, he said, “Could you give the phone to Jim for a minute? I need to ask him a few things.”
“I miss you,” Trevor said, and then handed the phone to Jim.
Before Jim put the phone to his ear, he asked Trevor and Joel, “Could you give me a few minutes alone?”
Trevor nodded, and with Joel by his side, walked away from the bus station. Joel glanced back, and then asked, in a voice barely above a whisper, “Does this seem as weird to you as it does to me?”
“Weirder,” Trevor replied. “He sent his lawyer all this way to find me, and he’s acting like it’s a surprise to him. Jim kind of played along, too. They’re up to something, sure as hell.”
Jim put the phone to his ear and said, “Hi Dirk.”
“Don’t ‘Hi Dirk’ me. What the hell are you doing in Italy?” Dirk asked, in a confused tone.
“I don’t suppose you’d buy it if I said I just had a sudden hankering for Italian food?”
Dirk began to relax, which was what Jim had intended. “Not really,” he said, with a weak chuckle. “Why didn't you tell me you were going?”
“I was operating on the proven fact that what you don't know can't hurt me,”Jim replied, with mirth in his voice. “I also figured you wouldn't say no if you had no idea I was going. As for what I'm doing here, I'm getting your warrant lifted, for one, and trying to put things right between you and your son, for another. You can’t handle flying so it had to be me. I know I’m supposed to be minding your store, but I should be back inside of twenty-four hours. I’d suggest that you stay the hell put until I’ve confirmed that the warrant is really lifted and they aren’t just laying in wait,” Jim said.
“Jim, I need to ask your advice, what do I do about Trevor? If I tell him the truth about what happened, I’m scared he’ll fly off the handle and end up hurting us all.”
Jim glanced at Trevor, who was standing with Joel, fifty feet away, well out of earshot. “Although you’ve never let me meet him before, my first impression is that he’s a good kid. However, he’s certainly inherited your volatile nature. My guess, and bear in mind that I don’t really know him, is that he would be furious, hurt, and lash out. Given the risk to both you and him, I think it’s safer for both of you if you keep him in the dark until Christmas.”
“Any news on the gay front?” Dirk asked, in a dejected tone.
Jim sighed. “About what you’d expect, but one thing he did say was he wouldn’t bring it up if you didn’t.”
“That’s a lot better than I expected, but the main issue remains; what the hell do I tell him about Ares? If he comes back, he’s going to keep diving out there and get himself killed, or at least spark interest that could cost him everything, including Atlantis,” Dirk said.
“Careful, I’m calling on a payphone with a prepaid card, but nothing is totally secure. Okay, if he does that, it’s a risk on many levels. What he wants is to be emancipated, and from his point of view, it makes a lot of sense. I know you want him home, but let me ask you this; what if he carries on? That’s a fine boat he’s got, and he’s one hell of a lot safer in it than diving in the shipping lanes off Bimini. Lots of people do circumnavigations, he’s got Joel Stiles with him, and his route is eastward, which would take him–”
“He’s doing a circumnavigation? Is he out of his mind?” Dirk sputtered.
“Like father, like son,” Jim quipped, and then in a serious tone, replied, “Look, you’re in the business so you know this even better than I do; lots of people do circumnavigations, dozens every year. Some even do solo circumnavigations, and Trevor isn’t alone. You tell me; on a boat like Atlantis, with Trevor’s skill, where is he in the least danger?”
“We're talking about my son, here, Jim! My only son!”
“What are your other options, Dirk? You probably can’t stop him, no matter what you do. Now ask yourself this; what's the best chance for Trevor?”
For several long moments, Dirk was silent, “Him going around the world, I guess,” Dirk said, in a defeated tone.
“If you want to start to patch things up, offer him what he wants: emancipation, but for when he returns,” Jim suggested.
“I’ll be lucky if he ever speaks to me again when he gets back, so yeah, I might as well. Okay, get him back on the phone, and I’ll talk to you in a few. Thanks...” Dirk said, choking up a little.
Jim waved, and caught Trevor’s eye, motioning for him to return.
When Trevor was back on the line, Dirk said, “I’m going to offer you what you want; emancipation, on one condition; you finish what you started and circle the world. I’ll sign the papers when you call me from the first port past the halfway point–”
“And just why am I supposed to believe that? You haven’t leveled with me yet, so why would you start now?” Trevor asked in a skeptical tone.
“When I sign the papers, I’ll give them to Lisa’s father, and he can verify that they’ve been filed and send you a copy,” Dirk replied.
“If I were you, I wouldn’t try delivering those papers to Lisa’s dad in person, thanks to that lawsuit you filed against him. You’d better have Jim or somebody else drop them off,” Trevor observed wryly.
Dirk sighed. “Fair enough on that. Now, money... As you know, I put a lock on your bank accounts. I’ll take that off in the morning, and beyond that, I’ll help you financially if you need it. One other thing; that trip to Australia we talked about; do it. Spend Christmas there, and meet your mom’s family. You might as well; you’ll be in the area.”
Engulfed in confusion and warring emotions, Trevor stood staring at the payphone. Finally, after several long seconds, one reply fought its way to the surface of his roiled mind. “I still want to know what happened. I have to,” he said, in a quiet, certain tone.
“You will, before you return. I give you my word. That’s the best I can offer, Trev.”
It was everything Trevor wanted, just not the way he wanted it, and the refusal to discuss the Ares or the divorce had Trevor vary wary. ‘Can I trust him to do what he’s saying?’ Trevor thought about it for a few more seconds. ‘What other choice do I have?’ Trevor took a deep breath. “If you’ll do that, that’s good enough for me. I love you Dad, and I’ll miss you.”
“I love you too, son, and please, stay in touch. I should be home soon. Be careful out there, Trev.”
“Bye Dad, talk to you soon,” Trevor said, his voice starting to break up.
Trevor handed the phone back to Jim, and while Jim and his father talked, Trevor walked away with Joel. “How much of that did you hear?” he asked.
“I wasn’t standing close enough,” Joel replied, seeing that Trevor was badly rattled.
Trevor stopped at a lamppost, and after a glance back at Jim, who was well out of earshot, told Joel what his father had offered.
“That’s fucking nuts, and totally fucked up!” Joel said, and then after a few seconds, added, “You’re still going to go around the world, aren’t you? Why don’t you ask if he’d just let you hang around the Mediterranean?”
Trevor shook his head. “You’re forgetting, I want to circumnavigate and I need to meet my mom’s relatives. Maybe they know something about what happened, something I can use to find the Ares and finally figure out how my mom died.”
“Do you believe him, that he’ll tell you what happened?” Joel asked.
With a sad shake of his head, Trevor replied, “No. I wish I could, but nothing makes any sense. I’m going to have to find Ares, and if he keeps his word on the emancipation, I can come home sooner, and there’ll be nothing to stop me when I get back.”
“To stop who?” Joel asked, crossing his arms.
Trevor smiled. “Us. There’ll be nothing to stop us from finding Ares. Thanks, man.”
Trevor saw Jim hang up, and walked over. “Is Dad doing okay?”
“I think he will be, now. In half an hour, I’m going to try checking on his warrant. I’m fairly certain that it will be lifted, but it’s always best to check. In the meantime, how about some dinner?” Jim asked, eying a restaurant across the street.
Trevor hesitated, but one look at Joel’s eager expression swayed him. “Sounds great, thanks, but I want to sail right after. That e-mail has me kind of rattled. Any news on that from Dad?” Trevor asked, as he and Joel tugged their shirts on.
Jim led the way into the restaurant, replying, “It wasn’t him, and he has no idea. He’s as perplexed as we are. I promise you, I’m going to do everything I can to find out. Before I go, I’ll give you my phone number and e-mail, so keep in touch.”
The little bistro served up homemade lasagna, which they all loved. Each for their own reasons, neither Trevor nor Jim broached the subject of Ares, or the divorce papers.
As they ate, Jim tried to break the awkward silence. “I’ll bet you two have had a blast, seeing all kinds of interesting places. What have you seen so far?” Jim asked, trying his lawyerly best to be charming.
Trevor and Joel exchanged a worried glance, but Trevor decided that there wasn’t much risk in disclosing where they’d been. “I stopped in the Azores, Lisbon, Gibraltar, Naples, then Marina di Stabia, then Capri, then here after sailing around Stromboli to see the volcano. While we were in Marina di Stabia we went to Pompeii, which was fantastic.”
Jim smiled and nodded. “I saw Pompeii when I was in college. I wish I’d have had time to have a visit there this time, but probably not; it depends on when I can get a flight home. Hey, I’ll bet you two have been taking advantage of the drinking age over here? Want some wine with dinner?”
Another worried glance passed between Trevor and Joel; wine to loosen their tongues was something they both felt like avoiding, and Trevor decided to voice a different, but equally real, issue. “We’re sailing as soon as we leave here, and in these high-traffic waters, we both need to be totally sober. I never drink when Atlantis will be at sea. But yeah, we tried the beer, which is great. We haven’t hit a bar yet, but we will.”
Jim chuckled. “Just be careful, and if you go to Greece, make sure to try the ouzo. It’s made with anise seed, and it’s a weird flavor, but it’s good to try it while you’ve got the chance. Don’t have more than one shot though; it kicks like a mule and it sneaks up on you.”
Trevor and Joel smiled awkwardly, uneasy with any mention of their future course ‘That’s a sneaky choice of words, but he’s a lawyer; that’s what they do. Either he’s digging for info, or it’s a prod... or maybe both.’ Trevor thought, as he took another bite of lasagna.
Joel decided to change the subject. “What’s it like driving over here? I’ve heard it’s crazy.”
Jim nodded. “Yeah, it can be, especially in the towns, due to the roads being so narrow.”
“Do you travel a lot?” Trevor asked.
Jim shook his head, choosing his words with great care. “Only on business, these last few years. Before that, I went on a few trips and singles cruises.”
Joel glanced at Jim’s ringless left hand in a moment of mild surprise, and then asked, “Trev and I can’t rent cars because of our age. Got any advice on that?”
Jim shrugged. “That’s a tough one. In some places, you’ll be able to rent mopeds. Another option might be to buy some used ones and keep them aboard Atlantis, that way you’ll have them in every port... but you’d need to check the local laws before using them.”
Trevor nodded. “That sounds like it could work, thanks. We could lift light ones on and off if we were tied up alongside, like we are here, and if they’re light enough to lift, they could go in the Zodiac too.”
Again the awkward silence returned, though just for a minute. Joel looked down at the linen tablecloth, and then back up at Jim. “How can Lisa’s father confirm that the lawsuit has been dropped?” he asked, in a quiet, serious voice.
“He can call my office in about an hour. He’ll receive written confirmation within forty-eight hours, no matter what,” Jim replied, and then asked, “Are you still on good terms with Lisa?”
“She’s my girlfriend and I love her,” Joel said, and then after a few seconds, he added, “I’ll be calling her right after we sail.”
The conversation shifted to talk of Gibraltar, and Trevor and Joel felt slightly more at ease, though the underlying feelings of suspicion remained.
After dessert, they emerged into the waning light, and Jim glanced towards the setting sun. “We’ve still got some pictures to take. Joel, could you take me and Trevor together?”
Joel nodded, and took a photo, with Jim and Trevor standing, arm in arm, with the port behind them.
“I’d better head back to my hotel. I’m going to check that warrant, and I’ll also fax in a withdrawal motion to my office. Give it until noon Florida time tomorrow, and the suit against Robert Whitaker will be over. I’m looking forward to seeing you two when you return. Have a safe voyage, and feel free to call me, anytime,” Jim said.
Joel blinked in surprise, but Trevor replied before Joel could speak. “Thanks. It’s been good to meet you, Jim. Please look after my dad, and we’ll see you when we get back to Florida. Are you parked close by?”
Jim chuckled. “I’m tied up at the dock near Atlantis. I rented a boat, intending to intercept you in the strait, but I trailed you back into port here instead. I didn’t need to rent the damn thing after all; this is where I rented it from – it’s the only marina near the north entrance to the strait. My rental car is in the parking lot, and my hotel is five minutes from here. I guess I’ll go turn the boat in now, might as well. Keep in touch, okay?” With a farewell wave, Jim headed for the rental office, while Trevor and Joel walked back to Atlantis.
Trevor helped Joel cast off, and then, on engines, Joel took Atlantis out at ten knots, on course for the Strait of Messina, just a couple of miles away.
“We should call Lisa; there’ll be cell towers all along both shores,” Trevor said, still thunderstruck by the strange events of the day, glancing back at Scilla as it receded into the dusk.