Where was the brooch? She hadn’t seen it since…her face turned pale when it hit her that she hadn’t seen it since the night she was at the cottage with…Ron. She got up from the desk and began to pace the room, trying to figure out what to do. She couldn’t go back there and look for it. What if she ran into someone? No, it was too risky. But what if someone found it? It was one of a kind. It was a 1948 gold and silver squirrel broach with a pearl which her grandmother had given her when she graduated with honors from university. People had seen her wear it in public. There were photos of her online wearing it. In a couple of interviews she had been asked about it. And now she would be appearing on television later today without it. What was she going to do?
She ran wrung her hands, feeling sick at heart. If only she had ended the affair when she planned to. If only she hadn’t gone to the cottage. If only…
“Ma’am, there’s someone here to see you.”
“Juanita, I can’t see anyone right now. I have to leaving soon for the office where I need to go over some notes before heading to NBC.”
“She said that she has something that belongs to you.”
The Mayor considered it for a moment and then, said, “Show her in.”
“Yes, Ma’am.” Juanita left and returned shortly with a petite and flashy dressed woman. She looked around her like she wasn’t used to such opulence. She looked out of place.
The Mayor observed her carefully. When they were alone, she asked, “Who are you?”
Instead of answering that question, the woman held out her clasped hand. “I believe this belongs to you.” She opened her hand to reveal the brooch.
The Mayor stared at it. She reached for it but the woman closed her hand and withdrew it. “Where did you find it?”
“I’ll answer your first question, Madam Mayor. My name is Helen Burns. I’m Ron’s wife. I suspected that he was two-timing me but I never imagined that it was with you, Madam Mayor. I found your brooch on the floor beside the sofa. I picked up and put it away for safe keeping. I guess it was lucky for me that you didn’t drop it in the lake and unlucky for you that I found it. I watched you as you called the police before you ran out of the cottage like a bat out of hell.”
The Mayor swallowed. “What do you want?”
“I want a hundred thousand dollars.”
The Mayor gasped. “For returning my brooch?”
“No, for my silence. You pay me the money and no one has to know that you were with my husband when he died.”
“A hundred thousand dollars is a lot of money.”
“You can afford it. It will cost you a lot more if you don’t pay up, Madam Mayor. I will be in touch.”
For the first time since they met, Helen Burns smiled. “I’ll hold on to it, if you don’t mind. You have a beautiful home, Madam Mayor. It would be a shame to lose it and all that you’ve worked so hard for. I’ll see my own way out. Good-day.” She walked out of the room, whistling and with a bounce in her step.
The Mayor went over to the sofa and collapsed. Her head was spinning. How she longed for a drink but she had the interview. Where was she going to get a hundred thousand on such short notice? Anthony Spinelli.
She got up from the sofa and took her cell out of her handbag. She quickly punched in a number. “Spinelli. It’s me. Remember that favor you owe me? Now’s your chance to make good on it. Meet me this evening in the parking lot.” She ended the call, put her cell away and grabbed her keys. “Juanita, I’m leaving now.” She stepped out into the sunshine. If anyone could get her out of this jam, it was Spinelli. She smiled. Things were looking up again.