He leaned back in his chair, staring with a quizzical expression, trying to comprehend how someone of my gender, age, and size could take on one of the most difficult agencies in the city of New York and emerge virtually unscathed, and yes, victorious. I got the giggles then and he nearly giggled, too. He caught himself, so I stopped and asked him a question.
"Um, Ben? Having trouble wrapping your mind around how a southern girl like me deals with those big tough guys?"
"Well, now that you bring it up, perhaps I was . . ."
"Thought so. I do my homework. And, a southern female can be disarming, and once the enemy is disarmed . . . you see where I'm going here?"
"Yes, I do. That's why I handpicked you over all the other candidates for what I'm sure is the project you'll hang your career on."
"You're originally from Charleston, South Carolina, aren't you?"
"Uh, yes. Yes, I am." My eye twitched then so badly that I had to hold it still with my hand. How did he know that? I'd told everyone I was from Atlanta.
"Yes. Fine." No, I was not fine. I was mortified.
"Okay. Know the area well?"
"As well as anyone who's from there, I guess. What's this about?"
"Well, it seems that the state of South Carolina or some governing body cut a deal with a huge local land developer. They're to put up the most expensive gated community ever built on a place called Bulls Island. Ever hear of it?"
I sat up straight in the chair and my mouth got dry.
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