Undercover Desire – Chapter 3

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CHAPTER THREE

Kelly looked at the scrap of paper that she had written the address on again as she sat in her vehicle. The cold air conditioner blew on her face, causing her hair to stream around the headrest.

1542 Rosemont. This was the place, but the building looked abandoned. Dirt—several inches thick in some places—clung to the bricks. Glass in the windows of the dilapidated building were smashed, shards laying below the panes. The unbroken windows were so caked with years of dust that they were completely opaque.

The houses—run down, falling apart buildings with rickety, cracked roofs—around the building weren’t in any better condition. This part of town housed the impoverished, the detritus of society; it was a blotch that the mayor wanted to hide, to pretend that it didn’t exist.

If it weren’t for the few vehicles parked outside, she would have determined that her lead was nothing but a wild goose case. It wouldn’t be the first time in history that a false tip was called into the station, and, if it were fake, it wouldn’t be the last time.

When she had just begun to cover her first story—a rash of bicycles being stolen in her hometown—she had people coming in to tell her that they knew where the bikes were held, but, in truth, they were only interested in the quaint reward being offered for their information. Kelly had thought the story was beneath her, and she would take any lead that came her way, but it would often lead her down the wrong path. She had inadvertently thought that an innocent person was stealing the bicycles because of false information.

While that was a harmless piece, this one was not. These men were not the type that liked people prodding into their business. If they made a senator look like he had overdosed, a low level, female journalist wouldn’t make them bat their eyes.

For a moment, she sat in the SUV and watched several men enter and exit the building. They were large men. Several had their stomachs hanging far below their belts. Sweat stains—and other blotches which Kelly didn’t want to know the constituents—blemished their gray shirts.

She pushed a button on the leather center console, pulled up the top, and retrieved her sunglasses from inside.

When she had just begun to cover her first story—a rash of bicycles being stolen in her hometown—she had people coming in to tell her that they knew where the bikes were held, but, in truth, they were only interested in the quaint reward being offered for their information. Kelly had thought the story was beneath her, and she would take any lead that came her way, but it would often lead her down the wrong path. She had inadvertently thought that an innocent person was stealing the bicycles because of false information.

While that was a harmless piece, this one was not. These men were not the type that liked people prodding into their business. If they made a senator look like he had overdosed, a low level, female journalist wouldn’t make them bat their eyes.

For a moment, she sat in the SUV and watched several men enter and exit the building. They were large men. Several had their stomachs hanging far below their belts. Sweat stains—and other blotches which Kelly didn’t want to know the constituents—blemished their gray shirts.

She pushed a button on the leather center console, pulled up the top, and retrieved her sunglasses from inside.

As she placed the glasses on top of her head, she continued to watch the men congregate at the side of the building. Her contact’s vague orders said that he would meet her in the parking lot, but she didn’t see anyone that showed interest in her.

Occasionally, they would look her way, talk amongst themselves, and turn their backs to her. She wondered what they said about her or the suspicious SUV that was parked there. Rosemont was not a good part of town, and this was close enough to the river that she had concerns about her safety.

Kelly rubbed her clammy hand down the soft, dark material of her skirt, the chiffon sliding beneath her fingertips.

Gooseflesh raised on her forearms, and her hackles raised nervously. She tried to swallow, but her mouth had become dry.

If I sit here too afraid to go after leads, I’ll never make anchor. She would agree with the decision too. An anchorwoman should be fearless when it came to pursuing stories. If she wasn’t, then the position should go to Cayce. She was sure her rival wouldn’t hesitate in chasing down this particular lead. Whether she was right or wrong, it didn’t matter. It was her perception that drove her.

She wrapped her hands around the steering wheel tightly, her knuckles whitening.

Kelly decided that if he wouldn’t come to her that she would just have to go to him. The problem with that was that she had no idea who it was that she was looking for, and she was sure that Paul wouldn’t approve of her decision. In the back of her mind, Kelly knew that it was dangerous to approach these people, but did Gloria Steinem—a journalist that Kelly idolized—get where she was by being a coward?

No, she did not.

Once more, she thought how this story would make her career. Not only would it secure her position as an anchorwoman, but she also reminded herself that Swinson would become a household name. The viewers would include her in their conversations as they did Cronkite, Couric, and Rivera. Everyone in her life would be proud of what she accomplished. She might even win an award.

Looking up into the rear view mirror, she plastered a smile on her countenance, but her dark eyes didn’t share that expression. She forced herself to be still, to not think about what could result if she went into the building, and repeat the affirmation that her yoga instructor taught her.

I always see opportunities, and I go after them.

The affirmation had given her the determination to land the job that she currently had. She placed a lot of faith in the saying, but she also knew that that alone would not be enough to secure her future.

Belief, a strong work ethic, and visualizing what you are after are what drives success, she thought.

Still, she couldn’t lose the emptiness that she felt in the pit of her stomach. She tried to remind herself that it would be okay and that a person couldn’t show fear before these types of people.

Nothing will happen, she told herself.

Kelly took a deep breath, removed her hands from the steering wheel, and left her SUV, garnering the attention of the men who were hanging around the entrance and the side of the building.

“I think it’s too late for that, Pedro,” another man growled from behind her. He placed his hand on her shoulder.

She struggled against his grip, but it tightened as she wriggled.

His breath smelled like cheap, Mexican beer, and her stomach turned over itself. “I think this little puta wants some fun.”

Kelly gagged, swallowing the fear rising in her throat, and tried to break away once more. Debilitating chills darted up her body, and she could not see a way to escape.

“You want some fun, puta?” His other hand brushed against her forearm, and she recoiled from his touch.

I’m going to die, she panicked. Her eyes widened as she knew what was going to happen to her.

“Cut it out, José,” a stern voice ordered.

Kelly’s eyes darted immediately to the source of the voice, and she had to do a double-take. Surely, the owner of the voice wasn’t standing there. This had to be brought on by her fear.

Standing in front of her, staring down her would-be assailant with intense dark eyes, was Anthony Velasquez.

She had gone to high school with Tony, even dated him. When she was the only Italian descendant in a school full of Latinos, Tony had shown interest in her early. He made her feel accepted, and, in return, she fell hard for him.

How did he become involved with these people? She narrowed her eyes in confusion, and his jawline hardened in response. The look that he gave her told her not to say anything about her familiarity.

“Let her go, José,” he said threateningly, the words hissing out between his clenched teeth. Strands of his short dark hair brushed against his forehead as he narrowed his gaze at Jose. Thick stubble blanketed his strong jawline.

As she stared into his dark eyes, she ignored the familiar tingle that his presence inspired. Iciness plunged deep into her core, freezing her thoughts as the shock reflected in her eyes.

“We don’t need the kind of heat this’ll bring,” he reasoned.

José released his grip, turning around like a whipped dog, and went back to his drink. “Pssh! Fine! Stupid puta wouldn’t be able to handle me anyway.”

Tony’s lips flattened, pushing tightly together. The corners of his mouth—the lips that she used to feel drawn to—wrinkled. “You should leave.”

Her breath hitched, and she found herself unable to move. What could she say to him? Her stomach felt heavy as her gaze locked with his.

Tony crossed his arms over his chest and continued to frown at her, “I don’t know who sent you here, but this is not a place for you.”

“Did you—”

“You should leave,” he insisted again. “Get in your car, and get out of here. If you know what’s good for you, you’ll stay away from this place and these people.”

The way he spoke scared her, and she again had visions of her own corpse washing up on the shore of the Rio Grande. It seemed more likely now than ever. Tony knew her, and, although he protected her now, she didn’t know his motives. She knew nothing about him or the people he worked for.

Kelly regretted going to that bar. She wished she hadn’t been so insistent on taking that story. Something safer may not have garnered the ratings, but she wouldn’t be so vulnerable, and she wouldn’t have known that Tony—the man that she compared all others to—was mixed up with the Cartel.

“I’ll leave.” Quickly making her way back toward the door, she glanced at the men that parted to allow her through.

What was she going to tell Paul? Kelly had spent too much time developing this story, and he would be both angry and disappointed. She was never going to make anchor now.

How has Tony gotten involved with these people, she thought again. As far as she knew, he was never into drugs in high school. In fact, he was the poster child for a student that wasn’t into drugs.

Tony was straight- laced, a star running back for the varsity team and the eldest son of eight siblings. His family was the most important thing to him, and it showed in the way that he treated his lovers. Even then, he showed her more respect than many boys their age.

After she had received her acceptance to Emerson, he had gotten a scholarship to the University of Nebraska.

I was stupid when it came to him. Kelly had thought that they were going to be able to survive the separation. Like every girl she knew, she followed his college football career—often coming to his games—but, after a lapse of his judgment, it didn’t last.
Before she slipped out of the door, she looked back at him once more, unable to mask the disappointment spreading across her face.

I always thought he would make something of himself. Disillusionment enveloping her, she stepped back out into the humid morning air, walking back to her SUV in stunned silence.

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Lydia
Think a romantic from WV who meets her soul mate when she was 20, becomes a stay at home mother for ten years before taking the plunge into the world of self-publishing has stories to tell? You bet I do. Lydia is available for author interviews, as well as blog tours.

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