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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

It was simple. Mario would meet Cheryl at the Buena Beach Café at exactly 10:25 a.m. at the square table near the restrooms. He’d be the Latino guy wearing a blue button-up shirt and black slacks. She’d told him to look for the “cute Filipino girl with short black hair and highlights,” although Mario already knew exactly what she looked like from the dozens of photos of her that Calvin flaunted all over his cubicle back in the day. With all the planning, it wasn’t too hard for the two of them to spot each other, with no one else in the cafe but Julio, the barista, when they both arrived within 20 seconds of one another. Mario had done his homework, making sure that Cynthia, Chris, Jen, or anyone else he happened to know wasn’t scheduled to work. He had business to discuss. Not work, but business. And there’s no way he could take care of business with everyone he knew being all up in his business.

He had, however, needed to call in a favor from an old acquaintance. Before Wednesday, Mario hadn’t spoken to Calvin since the day he’d been fired by Danny two months ago. The idea to contact him came to Mario over the weekend, after following up on the background investigation documents on Veronica that Sandy’d sent to him. After doing a little digging around on his own and coming up with nothing, he got the idea to bring on an accomplice, someone who despised Danny and the mayor just as much as he did.

Calvin was down right away, suggesting they involve Cheryl, although Mario wasn’t quite sure if they could trust the woman who’d been jilted just months ago by Calvin. “Nah, man. She’s cool. I worked a little magic on her, you know?” Calvin had joked, raising his arms in the air and moving his hips back and forth.

Mario had laughed, thinking to himself that enlisting Calvin as one of his buddies could be a lot of fun. The two worked with each other for several years before Calvin’s canning, but they’d never hung out much, Calvin seeing Mario as a sycophantic climber, and Mario, being the sycophantic climber that he was, dismissing Calvin as a pathetic, washed-up athlete and unmotivated civil servant. But their loathing for the powers that be in the City of Buena Beach had caused each to look at the other with new eyes. Not quite respect, but mutual admiration for the trouble they were both looking to cause.

Although he orchestrated the meeting, Calvin wasn’t able to make it over to join them, opting instead to drive up to LA for an audition. He was hoping to get a spot on a new reality show on ESPN where retired athletes reconditioned themselves to try out for the NBA, NFL, or MLB teams they’d left years before. It was a long shot, but an appointment with Cheryl and Mario at the Buena Beach Café surely wasn’t going to stop him from trying.

Mario takes a seat at their appointed table while Cheryl grabs her drink. Once she joins him, he stands to pull out her chair, playing the gentleman. “Thank you,” she says, wondering to herself what this encounter could be about. Calvin wouldn’t even give her a hint, just said that Mario was married to money, and that he’d probably “pay big cheese” for her assistance.

“So,” he says, slapping the table. “Calvin was telling me that you are pretty good at…research.”

“Well, yah,” she says, thinking what else Calvin may have said about her. Things had almost been back to normal between the two of them over the last few days, with her almost forgetting about how he’d ended things. He’d been begging for her forgiveness for over a month. She was impressed with herself that she’d resisted him for that long, eventually figuring that everyone deserved a second chance. “So, what do you need?”

Mario pulls out a large manila envelope and slides out several documents and photos. Cheryl sifts through them, smiling. “The mayor?”

“Sure. Why not?” says Mario, glad that she seems amused by the request. “Although my real questions are about these two.” He picks up separate photos of Danny and Veronica.

“Danny? Whoa. No wonder Calvin was so anxious for me to help you out. But, what about him? He seems like a pretty straight and narrow guy. It’s not like he didn’t have cause to let Calvin go.”

“Please, that was all political. They knew what Calvin was doing for years.”

Cheryl furrows her brow, a light bulb someplace inside her head trying to light. “So, what exactly are you implying?”

Mario gently waves the photo of Veronica. “This is Veronica. Calvin’s replacement.”

Cheryl takes the picture from his hand and examines it closely. “Really?”

“And get this,” he continues. “She was on board just two weeks after they let Calvin go. Two weeks! I’m sure you realize that things like that just don’t happen with the City. But, on top of that…” He takes a paperclip off of a thick stack of papers. “She’s got a record.”

Cheryl takes a moment to skim over the documents Mario’s handed to her. Mario can tell she’s intrigued. And he’s psyched, hopeful that very soon, he’ll have the last laugh. And his job back. And even better than that, Danny’s job. Mayor Certig taking a fall would just be icing on the cake. “What do you think?”

Mario’s relieved when she smiles. “Yah, it’s all very interesting. I’ll get started working on it right away.”

“Really? Aw, that’s great. That’s awesome. Thank you. And whatever it costs…”

She shakes her head. “Mario, I’m a journalist. I love writing articles about scoundrels, but I don’t want to become one myself. Besides, if I find something fun, this will make a great article. That’ll be payoff enough for me.”

Sounded good to him. With his plans to leave Cynthia falling into place, he had to make wise decisions with his spending, although getting dirt on Danny certainly would be worth it. “Alright. Well, I’ll get back to you soon. Probably by Monday.”

“Perfect,” he says, asking her if she wanted anything to eat. Time for a celebratory muffin. Or better yet, maybe he’d live dangerously and have one of Jen’s cupcakes before heading back to work.

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