Tempted

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The elevator door slides open, and I'm in an all-too-familiar place: the hallway of a condominium I developed several years ago

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The elevator door slides open, and I'm in an all-too-familiar place: the hallway of a condominium I developed several years ago.

Like the others I've built in Miami, it's decorated in minimalist style, exactly what people here adore. Sleek, with polished concrete floors, stark white walls in the hallways, painted gray industrial doors on the units.

Christina's father had put money down on a unit in this building even before it was built. That was, what? I search my mind. Five years ago? Six? Yes. This was the fifth building I'd worked on and, at the time, the tallest.

I remember when Alberto Alonso approached me about buying into this building. He'd wanted it as a family vacation home, he'd said, as they lived in a modest house in Coral Gables because it was closer to the embassy where he worked. The unit with the stunning view on the twentieth floor would be for Christina when she graduated from school, Alberto had said.

Now it's for her and my child.

But according to what she'd told me in Madrid, her father got caught up in the exuberance of Miami's hot housing market. He'd lost the unit here, and I wondered why Christina was still in this building and the condo. How was she paying for this?

My footsteps echo in the hall, and with every step, I'm trying to push the day's events out of my mind. Trying not to worry about Justine, trying not to be angry about why she left, trying not to show that this is the last place I want to be today. None of this is the child's fault.

I glance at my phone for the hundredth time tonight. Justine hasn't responded to the message I sent a half-hour ago. Since there's no one else in the hallway, I swear out loud in Spanish under my breath.

I pause near Christina's door. Hunh. This definitely isn't the unit her father bought. That one was down the hall. Weird.

Will her family be there? Will the boy like me? Will I be able to control myself and not accuse her of leaking the information about the child to the Herald? As I take a deep breath, I softly knock.

I hear the click-click-click from the inside, the signature sound of a woman's heels. Then, the door swings open.

"Rafael." She extends an arm, and I give her the typical double kiss, customary for Europeans. She's wearing a softer perfume than last time. Something delicate. Roses, perhaps.

She leads me into the condo, sparsely decorated in soft tan seating and light wood furniture. Not what I would have expected from her. The city of Miami twinkles beyond the floor-to-ceiling windows, and I realize the other condo building I put up is so close I can practically see what the guy in the other building is watching on television.

"Didn't you used to live down the hall, or am I mistaken?" I'm trying to make small talk, trying to probe into why she lives in this building.

"Yes. That's the condo my father lost to foreclosure. The one I was telling you about. A friend of his owns this and is letting us use it for several months. It's so close to everything and I'm familiar with the building."

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