The Betrayal of Lies Online - Debra Burroughs

Chapter 1

Oftentimes, it’s best just to rip the Band-Aid off in one quick motion. A little at a time only prolongs the agony. The same can be said of delivering bad news.

“Sorry, but there’s no other way to say it than plain out. Your husband is every bit the lying, cheating scumbag you thought he was, Mrs. Santori.” Emily Parker sat back in her chair, folding her arms across her chest, letting her salacious comments sink in to the client seated across her desk.

The woman was plump, likely somewhere in her mid-forties, with wavy black hair and dark Mediterranean features. She was not totally unattractive. She may even have been beautiful in her younger years when she snagged her well-to-do husband. But things had obviously changed since that time and the mister was now grazing in greener pastures.

In the year or so since Emily had taken over her late husband’s private eye business, she’d been hired to investigate a number of unfaithful spouses, both husbands and wives. In that time, she had learned to deliver the bad news quickly and unemotionally, then deal with the fallout.

“I knew it!” the woman snapped, her dark eyes widening as she pinched her red lips together. Yet as fast as she had become angry, her expression relaxed and she leaned forward, putting a well-manicured, bejeweled hand on the edge of the desk. She arched a brow and looked Emily in the eye. “So…are there pictures?”

Emily dragged a crisp manila envelope out of her side drawer and slid it across the desk to the wife. “That’s what you paid me for.”

The woman rifled through the stack of candid photos. “Oh my,” she said, pausing to closely examine a few of them. “She’s very flexible, isn’t she?”

Emily put her elbows on the desk and steepled her fingers. “It would seem so.”

The woman shook her head, seemingly incredulous at what she was seeing. “What on earth does a lovely young thing like that want with a balding middle-aged man with a paunch?”

Twisting a section of her blonde curls behind her ear, Emily kept her mouth shut, hoping that was only meant to be a rhetorical question. She’d hate to have to tell the woman that the girl in the photos was a call girl.

The scorned wife waved the photos at Emily. “This is all I need to make that man pay.”

“Divorce?”

“Heavens no,” she said, shaking her head. “We still have kids at home.” A wicked smile curled on her full lips. “There are so many other more creative ways to make that mid-life Romeo pay.” She tapped her finger to her chin and gazed upward. “I’ll start with a new wardrobe, I think. Then we’ll see where it goes from there.”

“Ah, blackmail.” Emily gave a slight nod. “That’s one way to handle it.” Certainly not the way she would have handled it if she had discovered her husband with another woman. Sending him on a trip to the emergency room sounded more like it, and by the time they released him from the hospital, her attorney would be delivering a second blow—divorce papers.

At least that’s how she played it out in her mind, if she found herself in Mrs. Santori’s shoes.

Emily checked her watch and rose from her seat. “I hate to rush you out, but I have another appointment I need to get to and I’m running late.”

“Another case?” Mrs. Santori looked up as she shoved the photos back in the envelope.

“Not today. I’m meeting with my wedding planner and some of my girlfriends to iron out all the details.”

“Well, congratulations on your upcoming nuptials, Emily.” The woman grabbed her purse and stood. “I sure hope your marriage works out better than mine.”

Colin’s handsome face popped up forefront in Emily’s mind—tall, dark, and handsome with the most amazing hazel eyes fringed with dark lashes. She wanted to reply I’m sure it will, but decided that might sound like gloating, so she settled for a smile and something more sympathetic. “Me too.”

Once Mrs. Santori was on her way, Emily gathered up her purse and bridal magazines then headed out. As she stopped to lock the office door, she paused, gazing at the opaque glass in the door. It still read Evan Parker, Private Investigator.

Months ago she had promised Colin she would change it from her late husband’s name, but life happens, she got busy, cases needed to be solved, friends needed her time—there was always some excuse. The latest one was that she was going to be changing