Chapter 9.

Maria and Pierce strike a deal.

After an uneventful flight, Jake Pierce landed at the airport of Lima, Peru. But he was not alone on that plane as there were other people who had an interest in him and where he was going, John Drake and Stewart Acton. After going through customs, Pierce collected his baggage’s and stepped outside the airport. There, in the sweltering heat and humidity he looked around; a sea of cabs surrounded him with cars coming and going towards the airport. He was looking for the sign of Maria. She had told him that she would be there to pick him up, but she was late Drake and Acton followed him outside, making sure not to lose sight of him. A car pulled near the curb and out came a woman with a sign that said “ Pierce.”

Pierce immediately saw it and advanced towards it. “There you are, thirty minutes late I would remark,” said Pierce. He was in a foul mood but one look at her and he immediately changed his attitude; she was beautiful and he fell under her spell.

“Sorry, but there was an accident on the way to the airport and that delayed me. Did you have a good flight?” Maria said, looking at him.

“Why yes, very good with little turbulence.” Pierce looked at her intently. He admired her curves and beautiful smile. She was lovely. He felt that it would be a good trip after all.

“Here, put your baggage’s in the back and let’s get going.” said Maria. She had noticed how he had looked at her, with an intense gaze. The car had seen better days but at least it would get them where they wanted, to the home of Maria.

“So, tell me, do we have all that we need for the expedition?” asked Pierce.

“Yes, of course. I did what I had to do. The various goods have been assembled and we are ready to go. But we must hurry before the rainy season hits us. If that happens before we are well on our way, it will make our progress very difficult.”

“How will we travel, by bus or horse”

“Not at all, the goods will be carried on mules and we will walk the various paths.”

“What?” exclaimed Pierce. He could not believe his ears. He really did not like walking, preferring a car or motorcycle. He liked going fast and what Maria said sounded like very slow progress to him and not at all what he had expected. He said so to Maria who sounded surprised.

“Now Mr Pierce, what did you expect, highways where you could motor along and be near the various places in a few hours? Remember, Peru is not a first world country but a third world country, with a lot of poverty everywhere and minimal infrastructures. In other worlds, this is not the United States. But we do have highways, just not enough of them.” Maria smiled at him. She thought that he was unrealistic in his expectations for the expedition.

Pierce was silent and pensive. He understood now that the project would be difficult, more difficult than he had imagined. He regretted not demanding even more money from Stevens.

Maria drove for several hours through a desert; there was virtually no one on both sides of the road and neither buildings nor people could be seen. Finally, after a couple of hours of solitary driving they arrived at the house of Maria that was to be the starting point of the expedition. Pierce got out of the car and began taking his baggage’s, followed closely by her.

“It is not much, but it will do as our resting place for now.” said Maria.

“Yes, of course, it will be fine. Much obliged to you for letting me stay at your place instead of a hotel.” Pierce silently agreed with her, it was not much of a house. But it would do. And of course he would save money.

“Well I always do that with my guests. As leader of the expedition I want to make sure that my guests are well treated. Especially my customers.” That was a lie. Maria never had the habit of having customers at her house. But in this case, she had to operate in a different manner. First, she wanted to keep an eye on Pierce. He could literally be her ticket to unimaginable wealth. She to have a healthy concern for his safety. And secondly, she thought he was good looking and she wanted to explore these feelings gradually.

The house was rather small and nondescript; simply four walls with a roof and nothing more. Nothing to crow about but then it was home to Maria. She settled Pierce in the guest room and after a good supper she proceeded to tell Pierce the plan for the next days.

“Tomorrow you will meet Jorge Vasquez and Luis Soro, the two other members of the expedition. They will assist us with carrying the goods and helping out with the food. Jorge is an excellent cook, you will see.”

“So in all, we will be four people right?” asked Pierce.

“Yes, it is enough. That and two mules to carry the goods or ourselves we will have to carry some articles that needed for this expedition. It will be fine.”

“Now, those two guys, am I paying them?” asked Pierce, weary of dilapidating his money before he even earned it.

“No, Mr. Pierce, I am paying them, so no need to worry. They are my responsibility.

“And how do you know that they will not speak to other people about where we are going and what we are doing?”

“Don’t worry, they will be silent. I have cut a deal with them, their silence for a small cut of the profits at the end of the expedition. In addition, that small cut will come from my own, not yours. By the way, we still do not have a profit-sharing agreement on what we might find. Shall we talk?”

At these words Pierce became visibly uncomfortable. He knew it had to be done and he knew that he was not in a strong bargaining position. He depended entirely on her for everything, including the knowledge of the area.

“Fine. Let’s do it now. I propose to you 25% of the profits.”

When she heard the numbers offered by Pierce Maria began to laugh. “Mr. Pierce, let me make this easy for you and quick for both of us. I will not accept anything below 45%. As you have the artefacts given to you by Stevens, I accept that you get more of the share as these artefacts are essential in our quest. Let’s put that on paper and sign our names.”

Pierce began to smile and think. Yes, she was right, she needed him as much as he needed her. Still, to give away 45% hurt him but in the end, it was not a bad deal.

“Alright Maria, it will be as you say, 45% for you and 55% for me. Let’s shake hands and sign the deal. And please, call me Jake.” He liked her more and more. He shook her hand and held it just a little longer than he should have, feeling the strength of her hand and the warmth of it. She simply looked at him and smiled back. Maria brought out paper and pen, wrote the statements about the 55-45% deal and the deal was done.

“Let’s drink to the agreement.” said Maria. She immediately took two glasses and uncorked a bottle of wine, pouring it into Pierce’s glass and then her own.

“Thank-you very much.” Pierce said. He took one sip of the wine and thought it tasted good, even if he was more of a beer drinker. “Tell me, do you live alone here, all by yourself?”

“I’m a big girl Mr. Pierce. I can take care of my needs.” Maria continued drinking the wine, and re-filled Pierce’s glass, looking at times at his eyes. They were sitting close to each other, side by side on the sofa when Pierce’s hand touched her shoulder slightly.

“I’m sure that you are but still, all alone you must be on your guards, no? Pierce continued touching her shoulder slightly. She responded by putting her hand on his knee.

“I’m always on my guards Mr. Pierce, especially with men.” said Maria.

“ Why don’t you call me Jake, all my friends call me by that name.”

“And your girlfriends too?” asked innocently Maria. She was trying to find out if he was unattached or if he had a girlfriend waiting in the wings.

“When I have one, she does too. Everyone calls me Jake.” replied Piece. His hand that was touching slightly her shoulder slid more to her neck. “You seem to be tense, let me massage your shoulders.”

By then Maria had drank several glasses of wine and she knew that she was weakening. She felt his strong hands massaging her shoulders and then her neck, brushing slightly her hair with his hands. “That really feels good Jake. But I know what you’re trying to do and it won’t work.”

“Do what?” asked innocently Pierce. He was still massaging her shoulders but by then he decided to hazard a kiss on her neck, followed by a nibbling of her ear.

She knew she was melting rapidly under his attacks. It was now or never; either she stopped everything or she continued and who knows where it would end. But she had been alone for far too long. She craved intimacy and she was not about to let this one slip away without tasting the goods, even if he was a paying customer. She suddenly swerved around and faced him directly, taking his face in her hands and kissing him passionately.

“There, I hope that you feel better as well!” she exclaimed. He reacted by falling over the sofa with her underneath. She tore his shirt off rapidly while he unfastened her bra. They were still kissing when she rapidly let her skirt fall by the side as well as everything else. She was stark naked while he held her by the hips, admiring her firm tanned body. Her breasts had noticeably perked up. She got up and helped him take off his jeans, leaving him in his briefs. The bulge he had there indicated to her that he was more than happy to see her.

“Why Mr. Pierce, you seem to have a problem down there. I think that something is stuck. Maybe I can fix it for you, how about if I take a look.” she said with a mischievous smile. He could say nothing except smile and close his eyes. She brought down his briefs and uncovered his erection. Cupping his genitals gently she then gave his penis a gentle kiss, just to arouse him even more. By then he had put his hand behind her head and was gently but firmly directing her to his throbbing engine. She resisted slightly but then gave in, taking in the whole enchilada and swallowed it with gusto. It slithered in and out until finally he could no longer contain himself and exploded in her mouth, leaving her gagging. Pierce was enjoying this mightily and he wanted her now. He took her in his arms while she uttered a small squeal of surprise and delight. They were about to go in her bedroom when someone knocked at the door. Both looked at each other with surprise.

“Were you expecting someone?” he asked.

“No, not at all,” she replied. “Let me down.” She collected her clothes rapidly and tried to dress herself back when there was another knock at the door.

“It’s me, Pedro.” cried the voice behind the door. Pedro she knew as the seller of mules. But what did he want?

“Just a second Pedro, I’m coming.” She was finishing putting her skirt back on and shooed Pierce in her room. She then opened the door.

“Hello Pedro, what are you doing here, so far from your ranch?”

“Well, I thought about your expedition and I wanted to offer my services. You are going deep into the territory and you will need someone like me who have gone previously in the area and know it well, don’t you think?”

Maria smiled at him, knowing that what Pedro was after was the gold that could be somewhere in the area of the ancient abandoned cities. He had a history of searching for gold, even panning for it in the rivers of the Sacred Valley. Whenever an expedition was on its way there he always offered his services and in that fashion became the eyes and ears of his wife Eliza. But he did not know to what organization his wife belonged. She had to leave him in the dark.

“Look Pedro, we are already four people going on this trek. Why add a fifth one?”

“Because an extra pair of hands is always welcome Senora. I know you hired two helpers, can you really trust them? At least you know me from the past dealings that we had in business. I am honest and hard-working, and I know my mules too.”

In the end, Maria accepted the offer but after consulting with Pierce. He was bankrolling everything and had to agree. All was settled, they would be five and the following day all would meet at Pedro’s ranch to begin the long trek. Pierce wanted to continue his exploration of Maria’s body but the moment had passed. Maria went straight to the shower and left Pierce in the guest room with his thoughts about her and what could have happened.


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