I had accepted a new position in Colombia and today was my last day here. A change in scenery would be nice I thought as my life had become redundant. My family has never been supportive of what I do. Despite that I loved my job and there was nothing they could do about it. I didn’t know how long the job opportunity would last but although the thought of moving to Colombia was scary, I knew it was something that I could handle. The best person for the job was me and I intended to do it to the best of my ability.
“Maria why can’t you just stay home and settle down. You aren’t getting any younger!”
“Why do you always do that mom! You’re never happy for me. Just because I am not married and I don’t have kids doesn’t mean that my life is over. Can we just simply have dinner!”
I picked up my plate and headed straight to the kitchen. I slammed it so hard that it broke into pieces. Dad came into the kitchen and placed his arms around me.
“It’s ok mí niña. She just wants the best for you. We both love you a lot. We will be there for you though matter what happens. Give your mama some time, she will get use to it.”
“Oh dad!” My eyes welled up with tears. “I feel like I am not being the daughter she wants me to be. It feels like I can never do anything that she approves of.”
I pulled away slightly from his embrace. Mom was standing in the doorway near the kitchen. She was in tears as well. She came to me and hugged me tightly. This was the first time I really felt loved by her in a long time.
“I’m sorry Maria. You know I will always love you. I just want you to be safe.”
“It’s ok mom. I understand and I love you too.”
She gave me a kiss on my forehead. “How about some chocolate cake?” she asked.
The rest of the evening went well. For years I felt like a disappointment to my parents. I didn’t fit the status quo. I was my own person and I think my mother finally accepted it.
I left my parent’s house around 10 pm and headed home. I couldn’t hold a grudge against my mom. She’s an amazing mother. I just needed to sleep it off.
I woke up the next day and got ready for my flight. There’s no turning back now I thought. This was it.
My flight to Colombia was uneventful. Emmanuel met me outside the airport. He would be taking me to my new apartment.
“Bienvenido a Colombia!”
Even the air felt different and refreshing. I could see some parts of the ocean on our drive to my new home. This place was beautiful.
I got to my apartment and was fascinated by it. It was fully furnished with an ocean view. I unpacked my belongings and walked to a nearby restaurant for a late lunch. I sat at a table alone having some arepas. Tomorrow would be my first day on the job as Isabella.
Emmanuel came to pick me up around 7:30 am and drove me to the office. Alejandro met me at the door. He and I have been in communication over the past 5 months in anticipation of my arrival. I would be managing the finances at this new branch of our jewelry store called Colombian Emeralds. We were about to release a new line consisting of watches, earrings and necklaces. I had to be there to ensure that the launch would be successful.
We shared a building with a local company that was well known for their handbags. Their bags were hand crafted with the highest quality materials such as ostrich leather and crocodile due to their superior skin quality. It has been a goal of mine to find one but they were always sold out in the US.
I met Mario on one of my elevator rides. He managed that store. We met at the same time every morning and before I knew it we had become friends.
“Isabella will you be available for lunch tomorrow? Maybe we can check out that new Italian restaurant that just opened up.”
“I’ve been trying to get a reservation there for the past four days. I haven't had any luck.”
“The owner is a friend of mine so that won’t be a problem.”
“Oh really?” I asked in disbelief.
He got off the elevator and headed to his office. “Don’t leave me hanging,” he said as he walked away.
I went right back to work. The launch was a few days away. I had to ensure that everything was perfect. There was no room for error.
I met Mario the next day for lunch. The food was divine. We talked about work for a bit. I was eyeing the dessert menu when I caught Mario staring at me.
“What?…Do I have something on my face?”
He smiled and said no but that he was appreciating my beauty. I wasn’t good at compliments. Maybe he actually liked me. I quickly pushed that thought away.
Later that evening, I got a call that changed everything. Something had happened to our shipment and it wouldn’t get here on time for the launch. I was furious. My head was pounding and I couldn’t think straight. I couldn’t postpone the launch. Postponing it meant that I had failed. Failure wasn’t an option.
I discussed my dilemma with Mario. He would make a few calls and get back to me. I stayed up the whole night thinking about it.
Mario met me at the office. A friend of his would be able to help. I would be able to receive the shipment on time. Mario was a life saver.
Over the next few months Mario and I spent a lot of time together but as friends. He can be a little weird at times. There were days when he disappeared and I wouldn’t see him. He wouldn’t answer my calls or text messages. He constantly attributed it to his busy schedule but I knew something was up. I couldn’t put my hands on it.
He called me one evening.
“Isabella, I know we’ve been spending a lot of time together as friends but I think I really like you.”
I was caught off guard and didn’t know what to say. I did have feelings for him too but I didn’t have the courage to say it out loud.
“So you’re not going to say anything?” he asked.
“I guess I have feelings for you too,” I said finally. I felt relieved.
Mario decided that we needed a formal date. The times we spent together previously didn’t count. He would send his driver to pick me up at 7 pm. He told me that I would be in for a surprise.
I wore a white bodycon dress with an open back. It also gave me the opportunity to show off my legs. I had gotten the perfect lingerie to go with it. I was nervous but also excited.
I was dropped off at a private airport. Mario was waiting for me outside.
“Private jet huh.”
I thought it was posh.
“Where are we going?” I asked.
“We’ll be flying to Bogota and then having dinner at Harry Sasson.”
There was a bouquet of dahlias waiting for me once I boarded the jet. It had already been placed in a vase with water.
Mario placed his arms around me and whispered into my ear. “You look ravishing Isabella.” The waves created by the sound of his voice tickled me on the inside in a way that aroused me. He thought that my perfume was aromatic but a bit delicate and heavenly. I wanted to remain wrapped up in his arms. I didn’t want to let go.
The restaurant was absolutely beautiful. There was an atrium on the outside and the inside was just elegant. Mario escorted me upstairs. The ceilings were vaulted and chandeliers seemed perched into small indentations giving the room an auroral effect. It reminded me of the sky. I couldn’t believe that he had rented out the whole place for me. We would be having a candle light dinner up on the terrace. Mario helped me up the stairs and someone brought each of us a glass of Merlot.
I have never been wined and dined. I almost felt like I didn’t deserve it.
“This must cost you a lot Mario. We….”
“Don’t worry about it,” he interrupted. “You deserve the best.”
Mario asked the chef to prepare an array of appetizers and entrees so I had the opportunity to taste different things.
We sat in the eastern corner of the terrace. Mario sat right next to me. I loved the way he looked at me. It felt like there was a fire in his eyes that yearned for me. His hands caressed mine. They were warm and inviting. I felt safe.
After dinner, we took a walk around the atrium. Mario’s phone rang. He said that he needed to take it because it was about work. I returned indoors and sat on the sofa. I could see him pacing back and forth. He looked frustrated. I wondered if everything was ok.
“Hey Isabella, I am very sorry but we will have to cut our date short. I need to stop by one of our warehouses. It won’t be for too long and then we can pick up where we left off?”
He looked at me with a puppy dog face and I gave in.
“Sure Mario…that should be fine.”
When we got to the warehouse Mario asked that I wait in the car. He would be back soon.
I sat there for a few minutes but I couldn’t for much longer. I needed to pee.
“Do you know if there is a bathroom I can use?”
“Mr. Mario told you to wait in the car ma'am."
“I really do need to pee.”
“Ok let me drive you around the corner of the building. You can get out to pee right there.”
I got out of the car and strolled around the corner. I peeked through the window. I could see Mario and a few other guys. There was a man seated on a chair who had been badly injured. It seemed that he was being questioned about something but I couldn’t make out what they were saying. I saw an opening through one of the doors and I slid in. I could hear Mario’s voice. He didn’t sound like the sweet and caring Mario that I knew. He was livid.
“Miguel if you don’t tell me where you placed that shipment, you won’t be the only one who dies. I will kill your wife and your 5 year old daughter.”
“Please Mario. I don’t know where it is. Please!” he begged.
Mario turned to one of the guys and instructed that he be killed. The poor guy was shot one time in the head. He showed no mercy.
I couldn’t believe what I saw. I was trying to head back to the car but I almost tripped. Someone heard me.
I clenched my teeth, closed my eyes and inhaled deeply. I could hear footsteps. I needed to get out now. As soon as I turned the corner, I saw one of the men and he shot at me. I pulled out my gun and shot back.
It wasn’t supposed to go down like this. I pulled out my radio and called in.
“This is detective Maria. I am at a warehouse in the eastern corner of Manuel Street requesting backup.”
I heard Mario calling for me.
“Isabella where are you?”
I was definitely in way over my head. What do I do now?