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Inside the Case Files Of 'Cheating Season' - page5

The wife was lucky to get rid of this guy." The lunch hour on Valentine's Day is when private investigator Viola Russell works her best cases. "It's always between 11 and 2 that they take care of business," said Russell, who moonlights as a security guard from October to February, the dry period outside the "cheating season." "I can see it in my books. Business dies down around Thanksgiving, when they all have to spend time with their families. And Christmas and New Year's. That's when they can't cheat. They've got to put in time with the family," she said. "But here it is, Valentine's Day. For me, it's the first day of the cheating season." In 15 years of working cases, most of them unfold like the one a few years ago, when a woman discovered her man's cell phone records burning up with his old flame's number and found Russell's name in the yellow pages. "The wife wanted to stop by her husband's office for lunch on Valentine's Day. But he told her he'd be busy, he couldn't do lunch. He had a meeting," Russell said. "She knew what was up. She hired me to follow him." Sure enough, the meeting happened right at the lunch hour, not in a boardroom but at the Courtyard Marriott on Connecticut Avenue NW. The man left his office, picked up the woman at the Dupont Circle Metro station and headed to the hotel, where they walked past the green awning and into a marble lobby. They checked in under her name. Whirrrrrr. It was all on video. The "lunch" in the hotel lasted three hours, Russell said. Russell delivered the video to the wife and waited for the call from a divorce lawyer that usually follows these cases. "Turns out, it never came. The woman didn't want a divorce," Russell said. "See, she had a boyfriend of her own. She just wanted something in her back pocket, in case she ever got caught."

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