Chapter 31

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After Art closed his PI business and settled into retired life, he felt content, figuring he'd never have to do anything outside of his comfort zone again. Even with Ellen's passing, he didn't have to make many changes to his routine.

Until Natalya Henson burst onto the scene and turned his ordinary life into chaos.

Art admitted to himself he enjoyed the chaos she brought into his world. It had been a long time since he felt needed, which gave his life some meaning. She needed him to help her in her quest to find out what happened to her husband. Joey needed the attention Art showed him, and the little boy seemed to thrive in his company. Even Jen had benefitted from having Joey around. It helped her get over her loss and motivated her to want to try again for a child.

As far as Steven and Anya were concerned, well, he didn't know where that was going yet.

He had been working full tilt to help Natalya resolve her situation and was closing in. It would soon be over. When that happened, could he go back to the way he lived before Natalya?

Having so much time on his hands, Art pondering those things. He used to think a lot while on stakeouts hoping to catch some errant spouse in the act of committing an act of infidelity. Here he was again, on a stakeout, about as far from his comfort zone as he could imagine, sitting on a park bench in the middle of one of the world's most populated cities. A stranger in a strange land, unable to speak the language, and all alone.

He missed not having Natalya by his side, her quirky smile, the way she often looked at him in admiration, sharing breakfast conversation with her every morning. This time she had to remain behind while he journeyed solo to Mexico City, yet another expensive airfare with his bones aching from sitting too long in coach class.

Joey had medical appointments during the week, and Natalya also needed to take care of some other personal matters. The two of them continued to live in Art's house, and he was in no hurry for them to leave.

Art had everything he needed to confront and corner Carlos Santos and didn't require Natalya for this part of their mission, even though he wouldn't have minded if she were with him.

He thought about calling Santos and asking for another appointment but reconsidered, thinking the element of surprise would work to his advantage.

He sat on his park bench across the street from The Lobo Dorado corporate headquarters building. It was his third day on stakeout. He pretended to be reading a novel while he watched the building during the morning and afternoon rush. Art spent his downtime in his hotel room near the airport, one of the Hilton brands. The wait staff in the restaurant all spoke English, so he didn't need to wander around the city looking for a place to eat. The hotel was located close enough to the LODO building so he could walk.

Everyone he encountered seemed polite, welcoming, and law-abiding. The parts of the city he had seen were clean and squared away. Art considered how it resembled any big American city. He didn't doubt there were seedier parts of town and some degree of crime and corruption, but the same could be said for New York, Chicago, or LA.

But hells bells, the heat and humidity stifled him.

Art didn't know where Carlos Santos lived, but his stakeout revealed Santos had a driver drop him off at the front door in the mornings. Each afternoon at five sharp, he left the building and walked to a neighboring cantina where he drank a couple of beers and dined. Art didn't know if the man was married or had a wife and kids and hadn't bothered to find out. It wasn't important.

At six, his driver would pick him up at the cantina and drive off with him. Art assumed home, but again, it didn't matter. This afternoon, he would surprise Santos and rendezvous with the man. Time to finish things.

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