Blaire has never quite gotten over Jessie Beckett, the ex–NFL star whose kisses were hot enough to ignite the entire Eastern Seaboard. When he chose work over her, Blaire was left brokenhearted. Why else would she have married a skeezy two-timer, just to divorce him less than a year later?
Now Blaire is getting even by becoming one half of Dirty Exes, a PI firm fully committed to humiliating cheating jerks. If only the new jerk she’s been hired to uncover wasn’t Jessie Beckett himself.
Exposing Jessie isn’t going to be easy, especially when she still daydreams about his sexy smile. Further complicating matters is Colin, Jessie’s best friend. He’s gorgeous, a little bit cunning, and willing to help Blaire get the inside scoop on Jessie—for a price.
Now caught between two men—one totally right and the other totally wrong—Blaire will need to decide just how much she’s willing to risk…and whom she’s willing to risk it for.
“Blaire?” Abby moved to stand in front of me. “You okay?”
“Fine. Perfect,” I chirped. “Fantastic.”
She narrowed her eyes. “You look tired.”
I was thirty-five divorced, and my eggs were dying. I always looked tired, especially after losing sleep dreaming of my ex. I was tired the way she was perfect.
Why did we hire her again?
The phone rang, and she rushed over to her desk.
Ah yes, that was the reason. My phone etiquette. When we’d first started the company, my answering the phone led to shouting matches with the guys who wanted to sue us for exposing them.
Since I’d never yelled at Jason or had any closure regarding the end of our relationship, I may have projected my very strong feelings too many times over the phone. And that was bad for business—it was one thing to have a rant group for cheated victims that was private but quite another to yell at the guilty until they threatened to shut us down.
Apparently, yelling at people was frowned upon in society. Who knew?
I exhaled while Abby talked about our services in the background, her voice just as damn bubbly as the rest of her, and checked the group again.
“How many hits?” Isla stole a piece of licorice.
“Gah!” I jerked away from the computer. “You know I hate it when you read over my shoulder. When did you get here anyway?”
Isla just winked, gave our rescue calico Penny a pat on the head, and stole another piece of candy.
I hid my yawn behind my hand while Isla went over to the Keurig and made two cups of coffee, both for her. Sometimes I wondered if the woman consumed anything other than caffeine, ibuprofen, and sugar.
“What’s our lineup for new client submissions?” Isla placed her mugs on her desk and leaned against it while Abby made her way to her laptop and started clicking away with those perfect nails of hers. For some reason the tap, tap, tap made me want to pull my hair out. I didn’t run well on no sleep.
And I hadn’t slept well in a year.
Maybe that was my problem, lack of sleep.
Lack of sleep that had nothing to do with the fact that I slept alone.
I slumped, I didn’t even have a cat.
I eyed Penny.
She growled then jumped off my desk.
Maybe a goldfish?
This couldn’t be healthy—this insane amount of anger and aggression. I closed my eyes and repeated my mantra in my head.
I can control only myself. Not the others around me.
Take it out on the cheaters.
Make them pay.
“Hmm,” Abby let out a sigh. “Looks like we have a nanny-loving cheater, and a cheater who likes to dress up in … okay, I’m just going to skip over that one.” Abby’s cheeks fired red, and I fought the urge to laugh at her embarrassment. She liked to live in a protective bubble labeled Loving Family: two kids, five goldfish, a parakeet, and a husband who knows how to iron.
“Oh!” Her face lit up. “We have a socialite who wants to find out if her husband is staying true, though they’ve been separated for a few months. She’s hopeful for a reconciliation if he’s not cheating, hmm.” She kept clicking. “Apparently she found incriminating text messages and a hair.”
I sighed. It was always the text messages. Isla gave a thumbs-down in agreement.
“Damn it, men, change your passcode!” I threw my hands in the air. “It’s like they want technology to screw them.”
“True,” Isla agreed, biting her lower lip. “Remember the guy last month? Changed the other woman’s name in his phone to Pablo and didn’t know that his girlfriend’s dad’s name was also Pablo. She thought he had her dad’s number to ask permission to marry her.”
I burst out laughing. “Do your research, man, find the will to google.”
“You pick.” Isla pulled her black leather bomber jacket closer to her body and crossed her arms. “I picked the last one.”
“The socialite. This should be in and out, easy, a little hack job, a little spy-games action, and a big paycheck.”
“She wants the full package.” Abby grinned at both of us in triumph. “Which means all-out warfare.”
“Complete Dirty Exes rubdown.” My pocketbook did a little cheer. The full package always meant more money—I could count on money. Men? Not so much.
Isla made a face. “Ew, don’t say rub.”
“Rub.” I drew out the b and winked. “And since you were the bait while I fished, I get to be the bait this time.”
“Boo.” She gave me a thumbs-down and tilted her head. “Alright, bait, take your ass out of the LuLu joggers and put on something that’s set to catch this guy’s attention.”
I made a face. I wasn’t known for dressing up, and most days Isla was thankful I even put on ChapStick. Why go to all the work when nobody would even appreciate it?
“Abby, we got a name on this guy?” Isla asked.
“Does it matter?” I fired back. “Once a cheater…”
“Always a cheater,” Isla finished.
“Unless,” I pointed out in a disbelieving tone that probably had more bite in it than necessary, “he’s innocent.”
Spoiler alert: we’d yet to have an innocent spouse.
“May the texts prove otherwise or we don’t get paid the full amount.” Isla gestured at the door. “I’ll go through our client’s file, review his social media, and get all the dirty details for your first mission. We’ll have Abby make an appointment with the wife, say next Tuesday at noon? That enough time to get your stalk on?”
“Absolutely.” Adrenaline pumped through me. Sleep? Who needed sleep. This job was everything I needed to focus on so I didn’t lose my mind and mentally consider all the reasons why I was in that small office stalking cheaters and trying to find as much dirt on them as possible.
It was my vengeance.
It was also lonely.
“Wear something sexy!” Isla called after me.
I hesitated and winked at her over my shoulder. “I’m always sexy!”
Isla didn’t respond.
Abby suddenly found her computer screen more interesting than the conversation, and even Penny went and hid under my desk.
Really, universe? Really?
I full-on glared at Isla.
“What?” She smirked behind her coffee cup. “Okay, I’m just saying that if you want to be bait, you can’t wear the mom bun.”
I touched the top of my head and grimaced. “It keeps the hair out of my eyes.”
And I needed my hair out of my eyes so I could see.
Not because I was lazy.
Or because I’d given up on life.
“Right.” She nodded slowly, and the bangles on her arm clanged as she shifted on her feet. “And so do scrunchies and all the other things that make me want to die rather than let you put on your head.”
I blew out a frustrated breath. “Fine, no mom bun.”
“Lipstick,” she just had to add. “And none of that bullshit gloss, that’s fake lipstick and you know it. It rubs off in seconds, and if he’s a cheater he’s not going to want you to leave any evidence behind.”
The woman had a point.
“Real lipstick,” I repeated. “No mom bun, no joggers, anything else?”
She eyed me up and down.
I didn’t like that face.
I straightened my shoulders and stared her down right back.
“Nope. This isn’t Clueless, you are NOT going to do a makeover. I like my look!”
Abby jerked her attention to our conversation. “Makeover?”
I wanted nothing more than to kill the hope that lit up her eyes, run it over with a train, and set it on fire for good measure. No. No makeover. I looked fine! More than fine.
“Oh, it’s a good look,” Isla said cheerfully. “If you worked at a CrossFit gym I’d definitely ask you to be my trainer, but you don’t … you’re allergic to dresses, and guys like this, they like short skirts, leather, Gucci. They can tell if something’s off-the-rack or designer by the mere feel between their fingers as they slowly unzip the dress, as the silk falls down your back pooling at your feet, and wet heat pulsates between your thighs and—”
“No more coffee, Isla, and definitely no more late-night erotica novels. I mean it. It’s not good for your health. And I’m not sleeping with a client. That’s a hard limit contractually, and you know nothing pisses me off more than a guy who can’t keep it in his pants. Marriage is like finally moving into the house of your dreams: you get twenty rooms to sleep in, yet the guy ends up wanting to check out other rentals, you know? Rentals, for crying out loud, not even mansions!”
“Nothing. Nevermind. I’m tired.” I yawned and eyed her coffee before she poured it into a to-go cup, handed it over, and slapped me on the ass. “Ow.”
“You have the money, and even though nobody would know it—you also have the style. Use the Force, and the company card, to do some damage, and I’ll text you his whereabouts, ’k?”
About Rachel Van Dyken
Rachel Van Dyken is a Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and #1 New York Times bestselling author known for regency romances, contemporary romances, and her love of coffee and Swedish fish. Rachel’s also recently inked a deal for her Wingmen Inc. series—The Matchmaker’s Playbook and The Matchmaker’s Replacement—to be made into movies.
A fan of The Bachelor and the Seattle Seahawks (not necessarily in that order), Rachel lives in Idaho with her husband, a super cute toddler son who keeps her on her toes, and two boxers. Make sure you check out her site, www.RachelVanDykenauthor.com, and follow her on Twitter (@RachVD).
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