Baring Mia

By: Kallista Dane

“I really don’t know what you’re talking about. What ex-boyfriend?”

Patterson put on an obviously phony look of concern. “Maybe you haven’t heard? Alejandro Cabrera married his longtime sweetheart Marisol DeLeon over the weekend in Medellin. I’m told it was a lavish affair. Over six hundred guests. The happy couple is honeymooning at an undisclosed location, according to the society pages in Sunday’s paper there.”

Mia shook her head. Impossible. She would have known. Somehow. She wasn’t that stupid, that gullible. This FBI guy was lying, trying to rattle her just like they did on TV.

She reached for the phone again, and Patterson snapped his fingers. One of the other men, she didn’t know which was which, handed him an envelope. He opened it and dumped the contents on her desk.

Photos. Taken with a long-range lens. There was Alejandro in a white tux, arms around a stunning blonde wearing a wedding dress that must have cost thousands. There were other pictures. The happy couple cutting a four-foot-tall cake. Mingling with guests in formal attire.

She forced herself to stay calm. “Nice try. I may have my head buried in corporate ledgers, but even I’ve heard of Photoshop. I’ve been working with Alejandro for over a year, He never mentioned a fiancée.” She left out the fact that he’d led her to believe she’d soon have that title.

Patterson’s voice was pitched low. “Yes, we’re aware of just how closely you worked. But I wouldn’t expect him to discuss his wedding plans in Colombia with the woman he was setting up to take the fall here in Miami. Tell me, was the fucking you got worth the fucking you’re getting?”

Mia’s eyes flashed. “How dare you? Get out of my office. Now!”

“Okay. We’ll play it your way. See you soon.”

Patterson sauntered out without a backward glance, followed by the other two who still hadn’t said a word. He left the photos scattered across her desk.

Mia closed her eyes and willed herself not to throw up all over them. The situation she was in was her own damn fault. She’d turned a blind eye to the feeling in her gut, the one that left her uneasy. She and Alejandro had shared some great times. He took her salsa dancing in the hot Miami clubs. They spent weekends on his boat, cruising the Intracoastal down to the Keys. He was generous to a fault and seemed disappointed when she’d turned down his offer to pay off her condo.

Thinking back, she realized he’d never really confided in her. He was often evasive when she asked questions but she’d chalked that up to a typical male’s reluctance to share his feelings. She’d been too wrapped up in her own issues to give it much concern, grieving the loss of her parents who died shortly before she and Alejandro met.

Her folks had been celebrating their anniversary with dinner at a South Beach restaurant. On their way home, a drunken businessman who’d just closed a huge deal slammed into their Mazda. He was driving a big Yukon and walked away without a scratch. Even worse, he had the money to hire a crack legal defense team. They managed to convince the jury that her father had somehow been at fault.

Alejandro had been there for her through the trial, giving her a shoulder to cry on when she was hit by a wave of grief. Though he’d hinted at marriage, she hadn’t really expected to have a happily ever after with him. He was too interested in having a good time, not serious enough about his career or his future for her to consider him as a lifetime partner. But she never expected to be set up to take the blame for his massive fraud, ripping off influential clients to the tune of millions.

Mia steeled herself, put the useless reminiscing out of her head, and got back to business. She asked her secretary to hold all calls and began contacting law firms. Everyone seemed to be out to lunch or at a meeting. Legal assistants listened earnestly to the few details she felt comfortable sharing and promised she’d get a call back ASAP.

She was staring out the window, her mind thankfully blank for a moment, when she heard a soft knock. Without waiting for a response, the door opened, and Agent Patterson – – or rather Special Agent in Charge Patterson, she reminded herself – peeked in.

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