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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

In all honesty, Mario loves his wife. Although he’s disappointed and upset that she took the mayor’s offer to sit on the Parks & Beaches Commission, and has since declined to step down even after learning about the mayor’s betrayal of him, he still is hopeful for their eventual reconciliation. And he feels that he can’t be too upset with Cynthia anyways, considering he’s cheating on her.

In all honesty, Mario misses Sandy. He wants to go to her and tell her he’s sorry he’s been a complete ass lately, breaking things off and all; but he’s too stubborn.

In all honesty, Mario wants to kill the mayor. He can’t, of course, but he’s determined to do the next best thing – bring her down, just like she did him. Publicly. He just can’t figure out how.

All this self-examination propelled him to mass yesterday morning. On time. It was there, knees firmly planted on the padding, that he apologized for his recent screw-ups and screw-arounds, although not committing to changing his ways. Just sorry, even lighting a candle for good measure. He had, however, promised to make the eight-minute trip to Long Beach to visit with his folks, something he shamefully hadn’t done in over a month.

Today, trying his best to heed a lesson from the father’s homily at yesterday’s service, he arrives to work on time, makes eye contact with colleagues, and even stops in for coffee at the employee lounge, something he’s deprived himself of in order to limit contact with the human race. He enters and sees a familiar backside. Well, he’d been trying to figure out a good time to stop by for a chat with her – looks like there’s no time like the present.

“Hey, Sandy.”

She spins around, nearly spilling her fresh cup of coffee, instantly recognizing the voice as her former boss and lover. “Mario!” She’s initially thrilled that it’s finally happened, that he’s acknowledging her once again. But the anger from the last week and a half returns just as quickly, and she has to remind herself that she’s over him.

“Babe, I – ”

“Babe? No, I think that’s what you’re supposed to call your wife,” she says, pleased with herself that the words she considered so harsh actually came out as intended. She turns back around to stir her coffee.

He knows it’s a risk, but he steps right behind her, wrapping one hand around her waist and using the other to slide his fingers over the small of her back. Her instinct is to take the cup of piping hot coffee and dump it down his pants. The threat of a possible lawsuit isn’t what stops her – it’s the thought that her action might somehow disable him in certain…functions, and who knows? Maybe in the future – the very distant future – she might want that function to…function.

So instead, she entangles herself from his firm grip and walks to the other side of the room, crossing her arms and purposely leaving her coffee on the counter so that she’ll have an excuse to walk back towards him again when it’s time to go and retrieve it.

“Sandy…look at me.”

She counts to four, what she considers a long enough pause before turning to face him.

“Sandy, I know I messed up. I…I was just in a bad place. There mayor screwed me, and then…”

“The mayor?” she asks, truly concerned.

“Yah. Then she has Danny demote me. And then, she gets Cynthia all involved, seating her on the Commission. It’s all just a big mess.” He scratches his head, hating to hear himself admit all the crap he’s been going through.

“So then, everyone knows? About us, right?”

Mario frowns, not understanding where this question of Sandy’s is coming from. “No. Why would everyone know?”

“Well, isn’t that why you got demoted?”

“No, no. I got demoted because the mayor thinks my life is some sort of game that she can just play with and throw away. Like I’m one of her toys or something. She was just using me, all this time.”

Now it’s Sandy who’s confused. “Using you? For what?”

Mario shakes his head. “Only thing I can think of is to have me blow that whole Commission thing. You know, they’re re-doing that entire vote now?”

Sandy still doesn’t get it, but the Commission meeting and the mayor are not topics of interest to her at this particular moment. “I mean, I know about the Commission stuff. But I really thought it was us,” she says, contorting her face as if that helps her concentrate. “So then, that’s not why you got demoted?” she asks again, the question more directed to herself as she tries to make sense of his actions. “I figured that’s why you weren’t talking to me, because someone found out and you thought it was me who opened my mouth…”

Mario crosses the small room, gently holding on to her arms as an attempt at comfort. “No…no, babe. Really, it was all just me and all this b.s. I got myself into. I wanted to tell you, but I – ” Before he gets a chance to finish, he notices her expression is still somewhat discomfited. And it hits him. “Sandy,” he says. “You didn’t tell anyone about us, did you?”

Her eyes drop to the floor, along with her hopes for some sort of ceasefire between the two of them. She curses herself for crying that day, feeling as if she had no choice but tell the truth when Diane asked her what was wrong.

When she still hasn’t responded verbally, Mario decides to simply read her reaction instead. He releases her arms and returns to his spot near the counter, stunned. What else could go wrong? he wondered to himself. Perhaps he’ll get fired. His wife will leave him. Even worse, she’ll tell him she’s pregnant. “Who’d you tell?” he finally asks, not sure if he really wants to know the answer.

“Just Diane.”

“Just Diane” he repeats, nearly hysterical with incredulity. Sandy nods as if she really believes this news that “just Diane” knows about their affair should be a relief to him. “Well, Sandy. I’d hate to tell you but by now, I’m sure that everyone does know about us.”

It takes her a second to realize what he’s inferring. “No…no, Diane wouldn’t tell anyone.”

“Sandy, Diane is the self-proclaimed “de-briefer” of the office.”

“Yes – she debriefs. She gave up gossiping for Lent.”

“Yah, yah, I remember her whole speech. But Lent is over, and Diane’s not Catholic in the first place. Besides, it’s all just semantics, anyway.”

Sandy’s brow furrows, likely due to the word ‘semantics’, but Mario doesn’t have time to explain. “Look, Sandy. You need to talk to her and make sure she hasn’t spoken to anyone about this. And…and threaten her.”

She laughs, settling in to the ease of their usual conversations. “Are you kidding? I’d never threaten Di. She’d kick my ass. Besides, she won’t tell because I know a big secret of hers.”

This gets Mario’s attention. “You do?”

“Of course I do. She’s my girl like that.”

Mario sighs, not quite relieved, but feeling much better about things. At least this particular thing – the rest of his life still basically sucked. That’s why he knew he couldn’t give Sandy up. Not yet. Maybe not ever. It was in her presence and hers only that he could just be himself. Relax.

So he’s elated when, after a little nudging, she agrees to let him have lunch over at her place.

“Just lunch, though,” she says with a slight grin as she grabs her coffee and exits.

Yeah, right. Her smile said it all – with a little more work on her, he could expect lunch, dinner, dessert, and breakfast the next morning.

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