Chapter 1

I stood on the balcony above the small parish. Through the palm trees I could see the faint lights of my neighbor's home. I could smell the aroma of chicken and dumplings being cooked and I smiled faintly. How long had it been since I'd come here? When was the last time I had truly taken in the exotic scents that Jamaica had to offer? I lit a smoke and inhaled deeply. Too long I thought in anguish. After all this time it took my father's funeral to will me back. It wasn't that I didn't love the beautiful estate my father lived on and it wasn't the fresh fruits that I could eat until my heart's content. No, being here was dangerous. I could lose my life so quickly just for being who I am.

I shuttered involuntarily as I crushed out my half cigarette. Why did such a utopias place hold such an unforgiving society? I thought about Jalen and her calming green eyes. I wished for moment that she was standing right beside me and soothing me. Jalen was more than just my lover and my partner; she was my best friend. Jamaica could never see passed two women who really loved each other so I was stuck dealing with my father's death alone.

Mr. Archibald came out to the balcony with his stiff briefcase and his even stiffer demeanor. "I have finished the paperwork Ms. Fox. All we need now is for the bank to authorize the transference of the title on the deed and everything on my end will be complete. Do you plan to stay long or will you be keeping this place as a summer home?" Mr. Archibald asked in his version of small talk. "To tell you the truth I don't even know if I will be keeping this place. It's beautiful but I don't know if Jamaica is for me." I replied. From the shocked expression on Mr. Archibald's dark wrinkly face I could tell that selling hadn't even occurred to him. "But- Well- your father built this home with his bare hands Ms. Fox. That sounds like such a waste." he said, fixing his tie. I tried to keep my frustration at bay. A man like Mr. Archibald would never understand where I was coming from so I merely smiled.

He mulled over his words for a moment then said softly, "I know that compared to America we seem backward in our way of thinking but... There is a place for you here Ms. Fox you just have to have the right eyes. I should be on my way now." With that he tipped his head and walked back into the house to let himself out. I starred at the spot he'd once occupied for a moment in shock then chuckled. Perhaps Mr. Archibald understood more than he let on. I knew that with my father's passing I was in no shape to make such a quick choice. Perhaps it was best I stayed for a while and think about it when I was a bit more level.

I got ready for bed and made a mental checklist for that week. First things first; I would have to call work and let them know I would need a bit more time. My boss Eddie had said "Take as much time as you need." but around the office we all knew that meant three weeks..tops! Second, figure out what I was going to do with the cattle my father had been herding. I'm a city girl we don't have much experience with cows. Third, track down someone named Rizah. It was the person my father had requested I give a large sealed wooden box to. As mysterious as this was I had to respect my father's wishes. Once those three things were dealt with I could then decide what do to with this beautiful estate my father once had called home. I crawled into bed and felt my eyelids closing at an alarming rate. I thought about calling Jalen but it was a fleeting thought before I succumbed to the power of exhaustion.