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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.

Sandy

Whoever thought I’d be bummed about going to lunch with Mario. We’ve been to lunch every day this week, a first in our book, and we ended up actually eating lunch a couple of times. This afternoon, however, we’re back to our usual high jinks, wrestling naked under the covers of my bed, each of us trying to lay claim to the remote control. Most times I let him win, leaving me forced to watch CNN. I fight a little harder today because the Friday episodes of One Life to Live are the best, always leaving me wanting much, much more.

Despite the fun we’re having, part of me wishes that, instead, I were out to lunch with the girls, Diane and Veronica. As far as I’m concerned, I’ve been replaced. Replaced by a skanky, slutty criminal named Veronica who somehow manipulated her way into a friendship with Diane just like she maneuvered her way into that Coordinator position of hers. I know she’s no good because her new buddy, Diane, ordered a background check on her and was careless enough to put it in my hands for safe keeping. Initially, I hadn’t planned on peeking inside the envelope that she’d asked me to hide for her, although I was both suspicious and intrigued. But once Di started hanging out with that loser, curiosity got the best of me. When she asked me to retrieve the envelope, I assured her that that I hadn’t looked inside. But before returning it, I ran all the documents through our copier, setting it to scan mode and having the machine e-mail the job to me.

Once I finally got a chance to read through it all on a quiet afternoon when most of the people in the office who mattered were either out at meetings or playing hooky, I was captivated. It was like an enthralling novel that I couldn’t put down, each page juicier than the next. Since my discovery, I’d been dying to tell someone about the file. But, I felt like doing so was a betrayal of Diane.

Until today, when it hit me that she’s really not my girl anymore. She doesn’t stop by to ask me to join her in the lounge to get coffee. She stopped smoking, so we rarely take breaks outside anymore. We haven’t gone out for drinks after work for over a month. She didn’t respond with her standard “LOL” when I sent a funny e-mail yesterday. And for the entire week, she didn’t bother asking me what I was doing for lunch. I’d just spot her backside as she exited the building, laughing and chatting with Veronica. The least she could do is spare my feelings and sneak away.

So as wrong as I know it is, this news has got to come out. And who better to share it with than my lover, who’s pinching my thighs in an attempt to knock me out of my daydream. “Hey, are you listening to me?”

“I’m sorry,” I tell him, feeling bad that I have absolutely no clue what he was just talking about.

“I said who are you gonna vote for?”

Boring. I hate these political conversations. “Obama.”

“Good girl. For a second, I thought you we’re gonna pull a Cynthia and call yourself a republican.”

“Heck no. Obama’s so much cuter than McCain. Plus, we need a brotha in the White House.”

Mario chuckles. “You’ve been hanging around with Diane too much.”

I pout. “Not really.”

“What do you mean?”

I straighten up and lean against the headboard, pulling my crisp white sheets over my crossed arms. “I don’t know. I don’t think she likes me anymore.”

“What is this…Kindergarten?”

“Well, the mayor doesn’t like you anymore.”

He pouts this time. “Ouch.”

“Just trying to make a point. Anyway, she’s just been hanging out with that Veronica chick all the time, which I don’t get because a month ago, Diane didn’t even like her. She was trying to get her fired.”

“What?” Mario asks, amused.

“Uh-huh. She even ordered a background investigation on her.”

Mario frowns, as if I’m making things up. Insisting that I have to be joking, he asks me for examples from Diane’s evil plot, noting that she often talked a good game but didn’t seem like the type to take action. So I tell myself that there’s only one thing left to do, and that’s to show him. I have him wait a second while I throw on a t-shirt and go over to my desk to grab my laptop. Propping the computer up on a pillow, I brighten the screen so he can see all the details clearly.

“What is this?”

“Veronica’s background investigation file.”

“What?” Mario asks in disbelief, eyes glued to the screen.

“Yup.”

“Where’d you get this? Ericka from H.R.?”

“Well, yes. Some of the files are from her personnel folder, but Ericka certainly didn’t give them to me. But look, there are a whole bunch of other documents here that aren’t discussed in her personnel file. See, right here,” I say pointing to a scanned copy of her employment application. “The City’s investigation found no reports of criminal history. But…” I click open a new folder. “Look. All this other stuff…drug possession, prostitution, petty theft. I mean, how could the City miss all this?”

“Unless someone worked things out for her. That’s the only thing that makes sense,” Mario replies, wheels churning. “Really, look at how quickly they were able to bring her on board. You know it takes at least three or four months for civil service positions to get filled. You know what I think? I think Danny set this whole thing up.”

Danny? I mean, I know he’s not always the sweetest man in the world, but Danny doesn’t seem like the type to do anything shady. “I don’t know.”

“So, how do you account for this?”

I shrug, sort of regretting ever showing him the file. I just thought it’d be fun to make fun of her. He wants to play detective. “And look at this,” I say, pulling up her mug shot.

“Damn! Baby’s not so fine right there, is she?”

Hold up a second. “You…you think she’s fine?”

He rolls his eyes, then smiles while he pinches my thigh again. “Not as fine as you, Sandy.”

That wasn’t the right answer. He probably realizes this now, tickling me to try to make me laugh. “Leave me alone.”

“Okay,” he tells me, taking the computer from atop the pillow in between us and setting it on his lap. He clicks around without my assistance, reading all the details from the files that I’d nearly memorized by now. Feeling lonely, I eventually drift over to his side of the bed to read along with him.

“Hey, can you put all these files on my USB?”

Shrugging, I say “Sure.” Why do I care? I’m sure he’s not gonna use the information in any way that will implicate me or reveal my involvement. It’s not like he has any ill will towards Veronica.

“Thanks, babe,” he says, kissing me and licking my lips before bouncing out of bed and heading for the shower. Smiling, I decide that any consequences from this Veronica investigation fiasco will be worth it; kisses like that accompanied by the pet name ‘babe’ don’t come very often.

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