as if he owned the place. “Follow me. We can change in the men’s room down the hall.”
After changing, he picked up a couple of towels embroidered with the hotel crest and name. He tossed a towel to Ryan. “Dude. Throw that over your shoulder. Makes us look like guests.” They headed off through a set of double doors at the rear of the hotel opening to an adjoining terrace overlooking the grassy expanse of Windsor Lawn; the Pacific Ocean as the backdrop.
Just as Rex had promised, the broad white beach was “target rich.” They stood a minute in the sand and surveyed the area—doubles everywhere. “Dude, what’d I tell you?” Rex reached up and pivoted his sunglasses from atop his head to the bridge of his nose. “Follow me.”
After walking a few hundred feet, Rex stopped and put his hand on Ryan’s shoulder. “Now, buddy, I want you to forget about that chick in Florida…Carol.”
“Her name is, Keri.”
“Whatever, you don’t need her.” He turned and continued to plod through the sand toward the ocean. “Today is your day, and your life is about to change. I’m going to find you the hottest babe in SoCal.”
It didn’t take Rex long to spot his first two targets. “Over there…two o’clock…a blond and a brunette…late twenties. Watch the master work.”
Rex used his God-given attributes to his advantage: from his “pretty-boy smile” to his quick humor. But sadly, at times, Ryan would embarrassingly watch, as Rex teased the less-attractive girls with his flirtatious advances, simply for sport. The poor girls didn’t have a chance. Rex viewed it as human target practice, like a gunnery range for testing new ammunition. Masked with a deceptive facade, he fleeced the wavering emotions of his, not so beautiful, young victims, and left them violated and brokenhearted.
With each step closer, his heart pounded louder. What would he say? That’s when he found security in Rex as his lead-man. He was smooth. He had heard him use the same lines hundreds of times before, but only on rare occasion was he not able to have the girls eating out of his hand in a matter of minutes. Like a skilled magician, he captivated his audience with ease.
This particular time, Rex used what he called his “stealth approach.” With both girls on their backs “sunny side up”—as Rex would say—and eyes closed, he eased up close enough to block the sun, casting a shadow on their faces. He then stood quietly while looking out at some imaginary object in the ocean.
“Hey. You’re blocking the sun,” the blond said.
“Oh. I’m sorry,” Rex said, stepping aside. “I thought I saw a shark’s fin about a hundred feet offshore. It looked big!” The brunette sprang up, shading her eyes as she searched the surface of the ocean. Rex squatted next to the blond and pointed, trying to show her where to look.
“I don’t see it,” said the brunette. Rex stood and walked over beside her. Pointing with one hand, he placed his other hand on her shoulder and guided her to move over a few steps. A good head taller than the girl, Ryan could see Rex was more interested in his bird’s-eye view, than the imaginary shark.
“I still don’t see it,” she said.
“Maybe it’s gone. It was a big one. They’ve spotted great whites out there before. They love the cold water and the seals. I don’t think I’d go swimming.”
I don’t believe it , Ryan thought. As easy as that , and we’re in . How does he do it ?
“I’m Rex, and this is my buddy, Ryan.” The brunette returned to her towel on the sand.
The blond said, “Hi. I’m Emily and this is Kate.”
“You girls from around here or just visiting?” Rex asked.
“We live in the area,” Kate said. “How about you guys?”
“We just came out to the beach for a little sun,” Rex said. He worked his way over by Kate and sat down beside her on the sand.
“You work here in San Diego?” Emily asked.
“We’re Navy pilots. Based over at NAS
Blake Crouch, Douglas Walker