What Really Matters

Belinda Brown laid across the bed in her upscale apartment on Biscayne Bay thinking about how she would tell Gary that she could not let him borrow the money he wanted for an investment project he wanted to invest in along with a couple of his college buddies.

Gary Westin was a very handsome man and he knew it better than anyone else. He was charming and a smooth talker who was used to getting whatever he wanted. In addition, he was very intelligent with both academia and street smarts. He was certainly a force to be reckoned with and he never took no for an answer, not that he heard it often. He loved living in Miami which seemed like paradise after some of the harsh winters he endured living in the Midwest most of his life. He loved the sun, the beach, the balmy air, scantily clad women and the crowds which seem to include every ethnicity known to man. Ask his friends and those who knew him well and the only things they said were wrong with Gary were his extravagant ways and greedy lust for money.

Gary and Belinda had only been dating for about a year when he asked her to invest in a project he was working on with Jason and Harvey, his two best friends from college. While the two had been getting very close, Belinda did not think they were close enough or that they had known each other long enough for him to ask her for the $150,000.00 he wanted for the investment.

Belinda graduated from MIT with a degree in Electrical Engineering and was very savvy when it came to technology so she had no trouble at all finding out all the details she needed about Gary. One night after he came over for dinner and drinks and got a little too tipsy to drive home, she asked him to show her some of the details of the investment project. Thinking he was sure to get the money, Gary obliged and logged into several of his social accounts as a way to introduce Belinda to his college mates who came up with the project idea. Their proposal was to build a floating restaurant/nightclub that could also host a casino considering it would be off-shore. During this entire time, she continuously gave him wine until he finally fell asleep on the sofa. Belinda immediately went to work to check out his past history and soon discovered Gary’s ex-fiancée and also found out details about why he stood her up on the day of their wedding; apparently he wasn’t ready for that kind of responsibility. She confirmed where he went to college, who his best friend was and some of the places he liked to hang out. She also easily found his social security number on an account he logged into but forgot to log out of. Belinda was convinced she had more information than she needed so she woke Gary up, called a cab and told him she had to be in a meeting at 7:30am the next morning and thought it best that he left that night because she absolutely could not be late. Gary was in no condition to argue so he took the bait and soon Belinda was fast at work, checking his financial credentials. She was able to gain entry into all of his accounts because as she correctly assumed, he used the same password, his favorite football team, which he often talked about. Ironically, Belinda warned him about using the same password for all of his accounts earlier on in their relationship after hearing about a friend whose identity was stolen when her email was compromised.

After collecting Gary’s school and bank records, Belinda decided to also speak personally with his ex, Fiona. She thought there is nothing like a woman scorned for getting the run down on a man. Her plan was to be honest when she called up Fiona and let her know that Gary wanted to borrow a large amount of money and explain her discomfort given their short history.

The next day when she was supposed to be busy at the early morning meeting, Belinda called the cell phone number she found for Fiona and spoke to her honestly so that by the end of the conversation they had formed a bond and was looking forward to meeting each other to discuss more. To make everything seem normal, Belinda called Gary during her lunch break to let him know how her day was going and to find out about his. He told her that after work, he was meeting his friends to discuss the project and that he would call her later when he got home. This was to Belinda’s benefit because she wanted to meet with Fiona as soon as possible. Soon after hanging up with Gary, Belinda called Fiona to set up a time to meet after work over drinks at a bar near her office.

The rest of the work day seemed to drag for Belinda or perhaps she was too eagerly anticipating the meeting with Fiona. She was determined to concentrate on her work which she did and as it turned out, she had a very productive afternoon. After all, there was a promotion up for grabs and she did not want to let her personal life interfere with her career, not at this point. Soon it was five o’clock and Belinda headed for her car. As she drove the short distance to the bar, she tried to formulate the scenario she might soon find herself in as this was the first time she had ever been involved in something that seemed so sinister. In order to recognize each other, they each agreed to wear a pink flower in their hair. They immediately recognized each other and quickly found a seat near the back of the bar. Belinda normally did not frequent bars and did not want anyone she knew to see her there.

Belinda was stunned at how amazingly beautiful Fiona was and thought to herself if she couldn’t hold on to Gary what chance would a plain Jane like herself have. She became all the more interested in finding out if this man was out to get her money.

They each ordered pina coladas and before Belinda could ask any questions, Fiona started talking about Gary. She covered from the time they met until he left her standing at the altar. Fiona explained how they had known each other ever since Gary moved to Miami to take his first job with the Lady of the Sea ocean cruise liner as the manager of IT, nearly 4 years ago. Fiona worked for the same company as manager of operations. She thought it was incumbent of her to show the newbie around and teach him the ropes on the job as well as in his new hometown after all; she grew up in Miami and had worked for the company for more than 5 years.

Fiona and Gary dated for 2 years and lived together for 6 months before he popped the big question. He had taken Fiona home to meet his family on several occasions and he met all of her family in Miami. They planned to wait at least one year before starting a family and until both of them were very successful on their jobs. Fiona also told Belinda about Gary’s incessant spending sprees. He was addicted to having the best of the best in clothing and accessories and thought nothing of spending $300.00 on a shirt, $1000.00 on a watch or $500.00 on a pair of shoes. Even seeing how he had a spending problem, there were many other attributes about Gary that made Fiona fall head over heels in love with him. Gary was genuinely a kind person, he was very thoughtful and helpful; characteristics Fiona believed living in the Midwest taught him.

Fiona, like many women thought that she could live with these flaws until she could help Gary change them. Belinda thought to herself, perhaps Gary walking away at the altar was a blessing in disguise for her. Fiona, cried as she told Belinda about the engagement ring Gary bought her. Given that he liked really expensive things for himself, Fiona expected that he would buy her a really nice ring to express his love but to her surprise, Gary chose a ring and wedding band combo from Sears which cost less than $500.00. She was flabbergasted but still she stuck by his side even though she was embarrassed to show the ring to her family and friends.

By the time they finished their drinks and conversation, Belinda was feeling really sorry for Fiona, who seemed to be a very nice person. She realized that she could not give money to Gary, not now and probably not ever. Belinda was very conservative with the large estate left her by her late grandfather learned early on from her parents that she should save her money and invest wisely and given Gary’s track record with Fiona, she didn’t know if she should take the risk. The only problem was that she really was developing strong feelings for Gary so while she knew in her head it was not a good decision; her heart kept telling her something else. Belinda decided not to spend much time on the phone with Gary later that night when he called. She told him she had a really bad headache and just wanted to get some sleep.

Belinda called her father who always gave her good advice and he agreed that it was not the best thing she could do, certainly not at this point in their relationship. She also spoke with her mother who understood her desire to help him, however, she too cautioned Belinda to at least think about it long and hard before she made a decision.

Belinda decided not to think about Gary and his request for the rest of the night but instead she grabbed a pint of Haagen-Dazs butter pecan ice cream and settled in to watch her favorite movie, Anger Management.

Over the next few days, she kept her conversations with Gary short and on point promising that she would let him know soon if she could invest the money he wanted. They had plans to see each other for dinner on Sunday and she decided to make a decision that day.

When Gary arrived for dinner he looked so sexy and he was more charming than Belinda had ever seen him before. He was very kind and considerate and responded to her every whim, even massaging her feet while they waited for their dinner to finish cooking. Belinda made one of his favorite dishes too curry chicken and rice with a garden salad on the side. They were so happy that evening and because she missed seeing him those 3 days, the evening seemed exceptional. Gary who was getting very impatient with Belinda’s delays pulled out all the stops and made her feel as if she was the only woman in the world who ever mattered to him. Before they fell into bed together later than evening, Gary had a check in the full amount requested from yet another woman who could not say no to him even against her best judgment.

After the check cleared, Belinda never heard from Gary again. However, she did learn nearly 2 months later through his Facebook page that he married Fiona and bought a large home near the ocean. Belinda also saw several posts of his friends congratulating him on his impending fatherhood.