I was in no mood for drama. It was nearing the end of the season, the shop had started to look tired, and I needed a break. After four grueling months, I was still putting in 12-hour days, seven days a week, and the tourists were seriously getting on my nerves. They’d come into the shop, look around, maul the inventory, and ask stupid questions, all of which were irritatingly predictable. I’m no introvert, but I was sick of mandatory conversations with strangers who I’d probably never lay eyes on again.
Besides, the previous fall I’d had enough drama for a lifetime. One of my friends got involved in the illegal drug trade, and in an attempt to disentangle him, I’d exposed my dog to a life-threatening assault. Buster still limped, and I felt guilty every time I looked at him. Given all that, my priority was peace and quiet. If I’d had any idea what was coming I’d never have accepted my friend Claire’s invitation.
My name is Kristen Maroney, I’m forty-three years old and I own a Caribbean resort wear boutique in the seaside town of Placencia, in northern Costa del Oro. Costa del Oro uses Caribbean dollars, which are worth about 40 cents US, and we speak English, although Spanish is the official language. I’m happily divorced and living alone in a rented house in the hills above town, except for Buster, my Labrador retriever. I’m good friends with my neighbor Liz who sits on her veranda and writes all day long. When I’m not with my boyfriend Conrad, Buster and I eat dinner on my deck, which has a decent view of the ocean. Or we go see Liz for BYO dinners on her veranda. For his part, Buster’s in it for the handouts, but I don’t mind. It’s his nature.