Blue Moon
thoughts spun through possibilities.
    Severino. I dropped the card in my lap, my fingertips flying on my keyboard. A pasta company, a doctor, a truck line… I kept skimming, clicking through page after page of search results until I hit an obituary. Sylvia Severino from Virginia. I snatched up the copies of real estate paperwork Madison had brought me from Goldstone Properties.
    Flipping through the documents, I stopped on a FedEx slip for his title deed paperwork. Damian listed a Virginia address. Interesting.
    I clicked on the obit. Chills started in my toes, rising up my legs. Sylvia was the right age. She could’ve been Damian’s mother. I read further. No mention of Nero, but she had been the principal of a private boarding school for girls. Brightwood Academy.
    Another search and I had their website. My excitement faded as I skimmed through their pages. The school was in New York, not Virginia, and it looked like any educational website. No top secret corporations or link to Damian Severino.
    I’d scrolled the mouse over to the upper right corner to close the screen when a quote at the bottom of the page caught my eye.
    “Hidden talent counts for nothing. – Emperor Nero ”
    “That can’t be a coincidence,” I mumbled to myself.
    There had to be a connection. Sylvia Severino had the right last name, and she worked at this school with a motto from Nero. It was the best lead I had. I clicked every available link I could find on the website, jotting notes until I found it. On a page about funding, in the middle of their fine printed list of donors…The Nero Organization.
    “Jackpot.” I grinned and scribbled a note on my pad.
    Why would a government defense contractor be donating to a boarding school for girls? And how did the dead principal fit into the puzzle with Damian Severino?
    I didn’t know yet, but I was going to find out.
    Opening my email, I crafted a simple ice breaker.
    Hello Mr. Severino –
    We met at the Goldstone Properties Masquerade. I’ve been working on a new story about the future of boarding schools in America, and noticed the Nero Organization is a donor for a school in New York.
    If you’ve got time, I’d love to ask you a few questions about your company’s involvement.
    Thanks for your time.
    Vivianna Lopez
    I hit send and hoped for the best.
    …
    I checked my email on my phone while I poured milk in my cereal. Nothing. Well shit. I sent the email yesterday evening. It was probably too soon for Damian to respond. At least the message hadn’t bounced back. There was still a chance he’d get it.
    Whether or not he’d answer my questions was another story completely.
    Madison came in as I munched my cereal. Her blond hair was pulled back in a French braid, and her dark gray linen suit fit her perfectly. I glanced at my stretched out T-shirt and sweat pants and sighed. A writer’s business attire was far from glamorous.
    She grabbed a breakfast bar and grinned. “So…you got to interview the Logan Reynolds yesterday. How’d it go?”
    “Catastrophic.” I stared into my peanut butter crunch, pushing the little balls into the milk. “We kissed.”
    “What?” She came over and sat beside me. “You weren’t busy working on finding Nero dirt last night, you were holding out.” She nudged my elbow. “Spill.”
    I lifted my head, hoping my expression wasn’t too sheepish. “We stopped and started the interview a couple of times, and for some unknown reason he kept dredging up the past until I let him have it…and then he kissed me.”
    “Holy crap.” She took a bite of her protein bar and shook her head. “You sucked face with the Logan Reynolds.”
    I rolled my eyes. “I used to do more than that with him.”
    Madison checked the clock and crumpled the wrapper in her hand. “I’ve got a few more minutes. Tell me everything. Was it gentle, passionate…was there tongue?”
    I laughed, kicking her under the table. “There was some tongue, and it definitely wasn’t

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