Richie told her he was on vacation in Hawaii, but they planned to meet up as soon as he got back.
A few days later, when he was supposed to pick her up for their first date, Richie was nowhere to be found, and he wasn’t responding to her texts, either.
He could be a little awkward, but Missi chalked that up to his inexperience—he told her he hadn’t been with a woman in eight years. Richie had a taste for nice things—expensive restaurants, four-star hotels—and he always insisted on paying.
He kept a motorboat docked at a nearby marina, and he’d take Missi and her daughters out for afternoons on the water. Richie mentioned that his cousin Vicki worked for the same airline as Missi. “One day we’ll show up together to some family event and surprise her; it’ll be great.”A few months into their relationship, she missed a shift at work and got fired. He told her that he’d take care of her bills for the next four months, that she should relax and take stock of her life and spend time with the kids.
When she finally did meet him in person, her relief was even more profound.
Richie was tall and charming, a good talker and a good listener who seemed eager for a relationship.
When Missi googled Derek Alldred, half a dozen mug shots of Richie—Derek—popped up, alongside news articles with alarming phrases such as career con man and long history of deception.
Missi sat down on the couch and slowly read every word of every article she could find: Derek Alldred had posed as a firefighter and scammed hospitals out of drugs.
The two women didn’t work together regularly, but they knew each other. Maybe he could put her and the girls on his university insurance.
Maybe, he told her, with the benevolent confidence of a wealthy man, she wouldn’t have to work.