|Word count 1035
The sleek mega-yacht lay anchored off the coast of Sydney. Her whiteness dazzling against the cobalt blue of the Pacific Ocean.
Below decks, in the luxuriously appointed salon, a gathering of middle-aged men was in progress. It had been several hours since the meeting convened, the dining table now strewn with the remnants of an excellent lunch, cooked by the onboard chef.
The owner of the luxury vessel, Angelo D’ablo, was entertaining his guests with stories. His daughter, Sarah, had heard most of them, far too many times.
The meeting was a celebration; the drug cartel having had a successful year, financially. This lunch was a debrief, a mulling over the wins, and the inevitable losses.
“Gentlemen, raise your glasses. Let’s remember those who are no longer with us this afternoon,” Angelo stood with his hand on his heart.
In their line of work, deaths or incarcerations were inevitable.
Sarah lay on a long, white leather sofa, her eyes closed. She was thinking how bored she was, how she wished she was anywhere but here, listening to old men talking business.
“Sarah, my love, you should be taking an interest in the firm. One day it will be all yours.” her father called over to where she lay.
“I’m tired, Papa, and hot,” she answered.
Angelo appealed to his business partners, “Ah, what to do with the young these days? They don’t have the ambition we had.”
He turned to a fellow Italian man, sitting across the table, “Remember, Francis, the times we were dirty, hungry kids on the streets of Naples?”
Sarah grimaced, Oh, no, here we go again, I can hear violins playing.
Francis looked over at the beautiful young woman lying on the sofa, one arm draped dramatically over her eyes, and whispered to his friend, “I recall the day she was born. Poor Maria, God bless her soul, she never even got to see the child.”
Angelo nodded, “Yes, and she was so sure we were having a boy, I never even got to tell her about our daughter.”
Francis whispered, “It would have been easier for you if she had been a boy.” He glanced at Sarah.
“Yes, a son would have been more suited to our line of work.” he smiled, looking at his now sleeping daughter, “But she’s so beautiful, she reminds me of her mother, more each day.”
Although Sarah appeared to be sleeping, she was well aware of the conversation. She’d always known the circumstances of her birth. The shock of her mother’s death in childbirth had almost sent Angelo crazy with grief. However he’d not taken it out on the child, she knew how much she was loved. Without a mother to help raise her, he’d provided her with loving nannies and given her everything her heart desired.
She stretched and yawned. Swinging her long, tanned legs to the floor, she stood. The robe she wore to cover the skimpy bikini, fell open as she did so. The sight caused a stir amongst some of the guests, but they were careful not to show it in front of Angelo D’ablo.
“Where are you going, Darling?” her father asked.
“I’m going to get some air, its stuffy down here. Anyway you have business to attend to. I won’t be long.”
“Don’t go swimming on your own.”
“Stop worrying about me, Papa.” Sarah climbed the steps, and all eyes followed her.
Stepping out into the bright sunshine, Sarah gave a sigh of relief, pleased to escape the cigar smoke and the endless talk.
She let the robe slip to the deck, the black string bikini barely covering her beautiful breasts and buttocks. She leaned on the rail and looked out over the ocean to the horizon.
The sun beat down out of the cloudless blue sky and Sarah lay down on her flat stomach. She felt the warmth relaxing her shoulders, her long brown limbs soaking up the rays.
After five minutes the heat, and the sight of the cool ocean, became too much of a temptation and despite her father’s warning about not swimming alone, Sarah decided to have a quick dip, just to cool off.
Walking aft to the fishing platform, she prepared to dive, cutting the water with barely a splash.
It was as if she’d entered a different world. From the bright harsh sunshine into the blue cool water, the heat of her body dissipated, her long black hair spiralled above her head.
She sank deeper into the blueness. Opening her eyes, she could see the underside of the yacht.
Surfacing, she lay on her back for a while enjoying the peace and the coolness. A flock of seabirds flew overhead, Sarah envied them their freedom, feeling trapped in a future not of her choice.
Knowing her father would wonder where she was, she took a last deep breath and dived down into the water once more.
Far down in the depths a predator prepared to charge at speed toward his prey. At twenty feet in length, this giant of the sea, a great white pointer shark, opened his massive jaws, retracting his teeth ready to strike.
With one huge bite the shark decapitated his quarry, taking her body and half her legs. Sarah never knew what hit her.
Blood swirled, like red silk, but simply diluted to a dusky pink in the salty sea water.
As fast as it had appeared the shark left carrying its spoils. The turbulence settled, tranquility once again restored. It was as if nothing had happened.
The severed head turned slowly, the wide open, bright blue eyes, stared sightlessly before sinking into the dark depths
Below deck, the men were becoming more inebriated, Sarah’s father relating In detail things he’d done to a man for being too slow repaying a debt. The others laughed, hanging on every word.
“Gentlemen, a final toast,” Angelo rose unsteadily to his feet. “We live. We die. Our time here is short, none of us know how long. So let’s enjoy life while we can.” He held his glass aloft and declared, “To time. Salutè.”