- Published: 7 January 2020
- ISBN: 9781786091086
- Imprint: Windmill Books
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 560
- RRP: $24.00
Rich People Problems
HARBOUR ISLAND, THE BAHAMAS, JANUARY 21, 2015
Bettina Ortiz y Meña was not accustomed to waiting. A former Miss Venezuela (and Miss Universe runner-up, of course), the exceedingly bronzed strawberry blonde was these days the wife of the Miami auto-parts tycoon Herman Ortiz y Meña, and at every restaurant she chose to grace with her presence, she was always greeted with reverence and whisked to the exact table she desired. Today she wanted the corner table on the terrace at Sip Sip, her favorite lunch spot on Harbour Island. She wanted to sit on one of the comfy orange canvas director’s chairs and stare out at the gently lapping turquoise waters while eating her kale Caesar salad, but there was a large, noisy group taking up the entire terrace and they didn’t seem in much hurry to leave.
Bettina fumed as she glared at the tourists happily savoring their lunch in the sun. Look how tacky they were . . . the women overly tanned, wrinkled, and saggy, none of them properly lifted or Botoxed. She felt like walking up to their table and handing out her dermatologist’s business cards. And the men were even worse! All dressed in old rumpled shirts and shorts, wearing those cheap straw hats sold at the trinket shop on Dunmore Street. Why did such people have to come here?
This three-and-a-half-mile-long paradise with its pristine pink-sand beaches was one of the best-kept secrets in the Caribbean, a haven for the very very rich filled with quaint little wood houses painted in shades of sherbet, charming boutiques, chic oceanfront mansions turned into inns, and five-star restaurants to rival St. Barths. Tourists should have to take a style exam before being allowed to set foot on the island! Feeling like she had been patient long enough, Bettina stormed into the kitchen, the fringe on her crocheted Pucci caftan top shaking furiously as she made a beeline for the woman with a shock of pixie-cut blond hair manning the main stove.
“Julie, honey, what’s the dealio? I’ve waited more than fifteen minutes for my table!” Bettina sighed to the owner of the restaurant.
“Sorry, Bettina, it’s been one of those days. The party of twelve on the terrace showed up just before you did,” Julie replied as she handed off a bowl of spicy conch chili to a waiting server.
“But the terrace is your prime spot! Why on earth did you let those tourists take up all that space?”
“Well, that tourist in the red fishing cap is the Duke of Glencora. His party just boated over from Windermere—that’s his Royal Huisman you see moored off the coast. Isn’t it the most handsome sailboat you’ve ever seen?”
“I’m not impressed by big boats,” Bettina huffed, although secretly she was rather impressed by people with big titles. From the kitchen window, she surveyed the party assembled on the terrace with new eyes. These aristo British types were such a strange breed. Sure, they had their Savile Row suits and their heirloom tiaras, but when they traveled, they looked so painfully frumpy.
It was only then that Bettina noticed three tan, well-built men in fitted white T-shirts and black Kevlar pants sitting at the adjacent table. The guys weren’t eating but sat watchfully, sipping glasses of seltzer water. “I assume that’s the duke’s security detail? They couldn’t be more obvious! Don’t they know that we’re all billionaires here on Briland, and this isn’t how we roll?”* Bettina tut-tutted.
“Actually, those bodyguards belong to the duke’s special guest. They did a whole sweep of the restaurant before the party arrived. They even searched my walk-in freezer. See that Chinese fellow seated at the end of the table?”
Bettina squinted through her Dior Extase sunglasses at the portly, balding, seventy-something Asian man dressed in a nondescript white short-sleeved golf shirt and gray trousers. “Oh, I didn’t even notice him! Am I supposed to know who he is?”
“That’s Alfred Shang,” Julie said in a hushed tone.
Bettina giggled. “He looks like their chauffeur. Doesn’t he look like that guy that used to drive Jane Wyman around in Falcon Crest?”
Julie, who was trying to focus on searing a cut of tuna to perfection, shook her head with a tight-lipped smile. “From what I hear, that chauffeur is the most powerful man in Asia.”
“What’s his name again?”
“Alfred Shang. He’s Singaporean but lives mostly in England on an estate that’s half the size of Scotland, so I’m told.”
“Well I’ve never seen his name on any of the rich lists,” Bettina sniffed.
“Bettina, I’m sure you know that there are people on this planet who are far too rich and powerful to ever appear on those lists!”
* A slight exaggeration, but this island—known affectionately as “Briland” to the locals—is home to twelve billionaires (at last count, and depending on who’s counting).
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