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Created by Diane Brown, Buena Beach is an online soap opera, giving up all the juicy details of some of the hottest guys and gals of Buena Beach, a small town in Southern California. Check back everyday for a new episode here on HelloBeautiful.com.

The Voice

He promised his wife that he’d take time off if he had another panic attack. So with his heart pounding like the beat at a rave party and his neck feeling hotter than a Southern Cali blacktop in July, Danny decides to try out the tips his doctor recommended: Slowly counting down from ten to zero, even descending down into the negative integers if necessary. Taking five long, slow breaths. Squeezing his stress ball while reciting in his head the lyrics to his favorite ballad. Whatever he had to do to put this impending episode in check, he was willing to try, as long as he could get to the mayor’s office just as she’d demanded over the phone – immediately and with answers. Unfortunately, he had no idea what question was on her mind. Danny had a feeling, however, that she wanted to discuss the upcoming Parks and Beaches Commission meeting. Or the latest Division budget. Hopefully, the “emergency” is simply some sort of an overreaction on the mayor’s part (wouldn’t be the first time) or a misunderstanding (wouldn’t be the first time). Packing up his briefcase, he dials his boss’s cell phone number, but it goes straight to voice mail. Looks like he’ll be completely in the dark about whatever situation is at bay; unless, that is, he’s able to hurry and catch her in the hallway before the two of them go in. Then again, if she knew the details, she would have called to prepare him, right?

Lucky for him, his symptoms seem to be waning by the time he collects himself, says farewell to Diane, and heads outside to his car. With an assigned space, Danny has one of the best spots in the lot, only able to get any closer if he were to pay his cousin Chuy $600 for a disabled plate. But as he tosses his briefcase onto the backseat, he catches a glimpse of the few cars scattered near the edge of the parking lot by the beach. Cumulatively in the U.S., there probably are thousands of bright yellow convertible bugs puttering around. But in Buena Beach, he’s only seen one – and it usually spends the night in his garage next to his wife’s hybrid Civic. His only conclusion is that his daughter Jen is here, hiding. Hiding because she’s up to no good. Hiding because she’s here instead of in school. She should have parked down the street.

Forgotten momentarily is the emergency meeting. He’s the one with the questions now. It doesn’t take him long to find her either, in the alley running along the back of the building next to the planters the staff have turned into ashtrays.

And as if Danny didn’t have enough drama for the day, he doesn’t find her alone. Mario is there too, sharing coffee, chitchat, and cigarettes with his child. Before they even notice him, his hot neck and heart palpitations are back, his breathing erratic. Counting backwards won’t help this time. The only thing that could improve Danny’s temperament is if he were able to wrap his hands around Mario’s tan little neck, squeezing tightly as he made the guy beg for air.

Danny catches Mario’s eyes first, horror taking over his face so quickly that Jen spins around and instantly drops her cigarette. “Dad!”

“Jennifer, go to your car and drive back to school. I’ll deal with you later,” he instructs, his intense gaze not leaving Mario’s.

Jen steps up to him in an attempt to use herself as a fashionably attired human blockade. “Dad, dad. Wait, wait, wait. This is not what it looks like.”

“Seriously, Danny. This is – ”

“You, shut up. You got some damn nerve, trying to take advantage of my daughter – my 17-year-old daughter – after I told you to keep your ass away from her.”

His breathing by now is wheezy at best, and beads of sweat have accumulated on his forehead. He can’t admit it to the pair, but he’s seeing four of them in all now, along with a few stars.

“Daddy?” cries Jen when Danny trips sideways, grabbing hold of the brick wall to his right and Jen’s arm on the left. “Mario, do something!”

Mario takes a final, long drag on his cigarette before stamping it out.

“Mario!”

“Okay, okay,” he says, stumbling over to help Jen shoulder some of Danny’s weight. His wheezing is now even more pronounced, though he’s still trying his best to show his disgust with Mario.

“Where’s your cell phone? Call 9-1-1.”

“No!” Danny chokes out, shaking his head.

“Now, Mario.” He takes heed, whipping out his phone while doing his best to keep from dropping Danny on the ground, although he might like to.

Jen, however, is feeling bad. Feeling guilty. So bad and guilty that she even risks ruining her favorite and most expensive t-shirt to wipe the perspiration off her father’s hair, calmly singing to him that everything’s going to be okay. “Daddy,” she then says softly. “Daddy, I’m really sorry. But, please believe me. There is nothing going on with me and Mario – I swear. He’s just helping me with an assignment for school, that’s all. And, yes, I was having a cigarette with him, but I promise you that I’m really trying to quit…I don’t even smoke that much anymore, honest. But, please. I really want you to relax because there’s nothing going on, okay?”

Danny’s nod is rather catatonic, but at least it means he’s coherent. Jen decides that the best thing she can do until the ambulance comes is smile. Smile and pray. Smile, pray, and pray a little more. Smile at her dad to keep him at ease; pray that he’s going to be alright; and pray a little more that the ambulance or police or her co-workers or anyone else who happens to join them in the alley won’t somehow find the two bags of weed she managed to quickly dump in the planter when her sale was interrupted by her father.

Check back tomorrow for the next episode of Buena Beach!

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