HIDDEN HEART– Excerpt
“Victor said you need to stop by the office before you leave for Vienna. He said it’s urgent.” Eva poked her head in Tessa’s office and left the door open behind her.
“What is it now? My plane leaves in two hours and I haven’t even packed.” Tessa sighed and shoved a handful of files in her bag, then walked out of her office.
“Good morning,” Victor invited her in. “Have a seat.”
“Thanks, I’m good,” Tessa neared his desk but didn’t sit. “I need to be at the airport, so what’s the emergency?” When she looked at Victor she realized something was wrong. He avoided looking at her but got up and walked to face her.
“You know I’ve always been very frank with you, and I’ve to tell you something that’s very difficult for me,” Victor began. He sighed and loosened his blue tie. “Someone else will take over your projects and—”
“Wait! What? Tessa shouted. “Why?”
“I’ve been asked to suspend you,” Victor replied, dread in his voice.
“Suspend me? Weeks ago you announced I’d replace and now you’re going to suspend me? Is this a joke?” She clenched her fists ready to confront Victor.
He walked out of the room to ask his secretary something, then left the door open and came to the middle of the room to face Tessa.
“Our headquarters have sent someone to investigate your case.” He stopped and waited for the gentleman entering the room to join him. “Tessa, this is Mr. Alessandro Santinelli from the Alita Bank & Investments. As you remember, our company didn’t have the necessary cash flow to finalize the land acquisition. Alita Bank & Investments is the bank that loaned us the cash. He’ll conduct the investigation in your case.”
Tessa looked puzzled from one face to the other. The world crumbled before her eyes.
The man she abandoned in a hotel room after a passionate night?
Investigating her case?
She needed support for her wobbly knees and before she fell, Alessandro caught her and helped her sit. She looked into his eyes and saw nothing. No expression, no recognition, no emotion—nothing.
With the last sign of dignity left, she spoke in a calm tone, “I understand there is a case and I’m the suspect. May I ask what’s the nature of this investigation?”
Alessandro spoke in the same voice that reminded her of a lover’s whisper. “You’ve been accused of fraud.”
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