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THIRTEEN
As the Redferns exited the Bella Varata hotel Leticia surreptitiously checked her watch and sighed. Just under two hours before her shift ended and she would be free to enjoy another twelve hours off before returning for her regular nine till nine shift. Assuming, of course, that Alicia made it to work on time.

Thinking about the Bella Vallarta’s rigid scheduling policy she sighed again, her eyebrows rising and falling as she grudgingly admitted that the hotel had an excellent plan to cover the front desk 24/7, one-hundred-sixty-eight hours per week with as few employees as possible, and yes, this system gave each of them a regular and predictable schedule with Wednesday being the constant variable.

Leticia’s regular work schedule was 9:00 p.m. until 9:00 a.m., Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays as well as every-other Wednesday. This dovetailed with Alicia’s nine in the morning until nine at night and was balanced by Roberto and Ricardo doing the same Sunday through Tuesday.

This schedule, with its alternating 36/48 hour work weeks, meant each of them had a set schedule and worked an average of forty-two hours per week. Everyone had three or four days off in a row to do as they pleased, no one worked more than four days and everyone had one weekend day off to spend with friends or family who worked a more regular Monday through Friday, nine to five. (Not that anyone seemed to do that much anymore!) Other than scheduling vacation time it was a good system that would be nearly flawless if the four of them obeyed the letter of the law more stringently, something Alicia did quite poorly.

Leticia, wondering what time Alicia would arrive today, again scowled as she checked her watch. “Your work,” she reminded herself under her breath, “is both relatively easy and allows you to enjoy your time off. Plus, you no longer sweat under the merciless August sun. Count your blessings.”

Leticia looked up with a start and forced a smile. “Good morning, Mister Brown! Forgive me! You startled me. I did not hear the elevator.”

“Good morning and there’s nothing to forgive. I took the stairs. And please, you may call me Zachary, or better yet, Zach.”

“Very well, Zach. I see you are up early too. I thought you said that you had hoped to sleep through breakfast?”

“I did, in both senses of that statement, but my body is very confused concerning the date and time. Back home I’d be sleeping soundly but somehow that isn’t translating here.”

“Ah, I understand. Where’s the rest of the crew? Bryan and your wife?”

“Sleeping! They seem to realize that it is relatively early on a Friday morning and that we should sleep away our jet lag. My body insists that with the sun peaking over the horizon that I should be up too, despite my circadian rhythm insisting that it is two a.m. Saturday morning.” Zach sighed. “I tried to sleep but gave up and came downstairs with my book before I accidentally woke them. You said there is breakfast beginning at seven, correct? That means I will find coffee?”

“I did. And that’s seven local time,” she said with a wink. “I’m sure everything is ready and you will definitely find coffee. So, they’re not up?”

“No, thank goodness. They both need their sleep. Mary has until Monday morning to get used to the nineteen hour time difference. She’s here working, Bryan and I are the ones on holiday.”

“Oh. How lovely. Your coffee and breakfast are just around the corner and past the elevator. If you are planning to read you may want to slip outside. We have very limited seating on the veranda where you will be less likely to be disturbed.”

“Perfect. Bless you!” Zach declared, waving his book in the air before turning to go.

“Sleeping soundly?” Leticia said under her breath as Zach turned the corner. “They were both down here not half-an-hour ago. What can that woman be up to?”