"Fine. Congratulations on your marriage." Her husband was the biggest realtor in La Jolla. His smiling mug was on every bus bench in town.
Kim looked down at the table. "I didn't know if I should send you an invite."
"It's okay. I'm happy for you." I was. Even as I kicked myself, I was happy for Kim. I wouldn't be able to live with myself if I wasn't.
"I saw you on the news last year." She looked up from the table. "I almost called. I didn't know what to say. I'm glad you're okay."
"Thanks." I remembered hoping at the time she would call. And feeling stupid about it. "Why do you need a private investigator?"
"I hope I don't, really." Her eyes grabbed the table again. "I want you to follow Jeffrey."
"Your husband?" This could turn ugly.
"Why do you think?" She looked up, face tight.
I knew why, but she had to tell me. Not to make her feel bad, but because that's how I ran my business. Everything had to be spelled out. No surprises. When the truth came out hard and raw, I didn't want the client to try and turn the ugliness back onto me. Even if I was just doing a favor for a friend.
"It has to come from you."
"I think he's having an affair." Her lips pinched together and her nose twitched. "Did you have to make me say it out loud?"
"Yes, I did. I'm sorry." My cheeks blossomed heat. "Why do you think he's having an affair?"
"Things could have been different, Rick." Liquid collected in the bottom of her eyes. "You pushed me away. You never let me in."
Kim was right. She never understood that I wasn't good enough for her, and I never saw her as an equal to the idolized memory I had of my late wife Colleen. No one ever could be. Not even Colleen. But none of that mattered now.
"I'm asking these questions because it's my job. It's how I get to the truth. Sometimes people think their spouses are having affairs when there's an innocent explanation." Not often and sometimes it's because of some other deceit.
"I found a second cell phone."
"Some people have one phone for personal use and one for work."
"Not realtors. We're on call twenty-four-seven. And I found a text
message to someone named Sophia."
"What did the text say?" Kim's answer could make this an open and shut case.
"He asked this Sophia if everything was on schedule. She didn't reply."
"That could be about anything." Maybe not so open and shut after all. "Did you ask him about it?"
"No. I can't." She shook her head. "I've already caught him in a lie once. I couldn't stand to see him lie to my face again."
"What was the lie?"
"We were supposed to have lunch together at George's By The Cove a couple weeks ago, but Jeffrey cancelled at the last second because he had to show a property in Del Mar to one of our top clients." The unspent tears had dried up, but the angry flush came back into her cheeks. "I kept the reservation and went to lunch by myself. As soon as I sat down, I noticed the client Jeffrey was supposedly meeting sitting at a table twenty feet from me. I went over and asked him if he was meeting Jeffrey later. He said no. When I asked Jeff how the meeting went later that night he said it went okay."
"You're sure it was the same client?"
"But you didn't confront Jeffrey about it?"
"No. I stood there and let him lie to me. I've never felt so small."
"So, you'd rather I get you proof before you confront him? Wouldn't
it be easier to tell him about the phone and the lunch and hash things out? It will hurt, but trust me, it hurts less than getting a third party involved taking pictures in the dark."
"I can't. But I need to know right now."
"Okay. I'll look into it. Why the rush?"