needs a fake husband. He needs to protect his best friend…
I caught my boyfriend getting hot and steamy with another woman, I’ve thrown
myself into my career. But now I’m ready to move from being the super-efficient
office manager to an operative with Quade Security and Investigation.
soon as I prove to my boss that I’m kick-ass enough to do the job.
grandmother asks for my help, there’s no way I can say no. Her former love has
a mission for Jayden—my
hot colleague and best friend—and me. What more could I want?
thing I want is for Isabelle to be is an operative. She’s my best
friend, and I hate the idea of her being in danger. Unfortunately, our boss has other plans.
and I go undercover at a resort for happily married couples. But forget
moonlight walks and hanging out by the pool. To maintain our cover, we have to
participate in activities that would make a nun blush.
come flying off, and we agree to temporarily be friends-with-benefits while
there. No strings attached. No complications. Nothing could be simpler. Right?
there’s another reason we’ve been lured to the resort. A reason that will put
our hearts to the test…and our lives on the line.
Marathoner. Early thirties.
run with him. Every day, rain or shine. Or as is so often the case during our
regular morning runs overlooking the bay and marina…the fog.
effortlessly eating up the distance—the opposite of how the run is for me. My
legs and lungs burn, beg me to slow down. Possibly even take a siesta.
them. You can do this. I mentally
break out the pom-poms and cheer my legs on while I keep an eye on my
surroundings, noting anything unusual for this time of day.
thugs and whatnots. But the number one rule of being an operative with Quade
Security and Investigations is to be aware of your surroundings. The people,
the location, the vehicles. Nothing is ignored. Nothing is considered
to be more than just an office manager.
the cool down. Even though the temperature isn’t exactly warm, sweat soaks
through my T-shirt and running shorts. I can thank the last round of fartlek
training—sprints that left my legs burning with resentment and resignation—for
helping to take down a Russian mafia crime boss.
sandwiched between two taller houses. Their exteriors are light blue. Mine is
rose pink—the color my grandmother on my mother’s side painted it many moons ago.
keep the colors as they were: warm and eclectic.
mountain dog, lumbers to his feet. His face shifts into his friendly doggy
size, Mojo sucks as a running companion. He doesn’t like to run. At. All.
Relaxing is his activity of choice.
owner. You’d expect something big and powerful—and a whole lot of scary—like a
German shepherd or a Rottweiler.
office? And maybe the guys will be finished with their mission today.” I untie
my sneaker shoelace and remove my front door key from it. Then I unlock the
door and let Mojo into my house.
table. Thinking it might be Jayden, informing me that he and the men are on
their way to San Francisco, I make a quick detour to the kitchen and answer the
phone without checking who it is.
she’s on speakerphone, and I know her routine, I add, “Good morning, Liza and
more excited than they typically are for this time of day. And normally their
voices are pretty damn happy.
seduced the trousers off many a man in her younger days, has shifted slightly
to the panicked zone.
you know, I have Mojo with me.”
excited than usual.
Jayden isn’t gay?”
doorbell. After a heartbeat, her housekeeper opens the door and lets Mojo and
grandmother’s employment for as long as I can remember. Because the elegantly
furnished estate home is too massive for her to handle on her own at her
advanced age, she mostly does the cooking and light cleaning. A gardener and
housekeeping company are also on Granny’s payroll.
“Now, don’t you get fur all over the place, young man,” she chastises him with
her typical warm and friendly smile.
time we were here.
Unless it’s cold and rainy, the trio always eats their breakfast outside.
heels click against the light, reddish-brown tiles.
always in their designer outfits. Henri sits in a matching armchair.
assortment of cut fruit and pastries, including my
favorite—strawberry-and-cream filled croissants.
stand. It takes him a minute to get to his feet, his movements not as spry as
they were twenty years ago. He’s wearing an expensive Italian-cut suit, the
jacket a checkered camel fabric. He also has on a burgundy tie, dark-brown
slacks, a fedora, and leather shoes that are worth a small fortune.
always, Buttercup. I can’t believe you still haven’t found a beau yet. Those
men are nothing but fools.”
lean down and kiss her powdery cheek. She pinches mine in return, with a
teasing gleam in her eyes. “Although if she doesn’t hurry up and find herself a
man, her eggs will be as old and wrinkly as mine.”
did mine. But Isabelle has no need to worry about that. Thanks to modern
technology, she can freeze her eggs now, so they are still youthful for when
she’s ready to settle down with Mr. Perfect.”
with a man. I’m too busy with my career.”
direction I had envisioned it would when I obtained my political science
follow in my grandmother’s humanitarian footsteps. She was a popular film and
stage actress in the sixties and seventies and then switched to focus on her
degree—corporate, not human rights. It was my father who strongly encouraged me
to follow in his footsteps.
men.” She fans herself.
Possibly two. But he’s been too busy to even consider candidates.”
not. Or at least not experienced at the level he’s looking for.
than some minor tasks, like interviewing persons of interest who were more
likely to open up to a woman than a man.
missions. Like when the government hires the team for operations that require
outside assistance, beyond what the FBI and CIA can do.
lack of one—I’m not looking to find my own happily ever after. My father
cheated on my mother when I was a little kid. Mom never remarried after that.
Dad did. Four more times. His marriages tend to last as long as a harvest moon.
anyway. I’ve had boyfriends over the years. But none—except for one—lasted
long. Richard was a fellow political science major. The love of my life.
my discovery was a double layer in the brick wall of disappointment.
sooner. Even before the situation with the other woman, I knew deep down that
he wasn’t the right man for me.
were purple back then). And he preferred that I didn’t speak my mind when I
accompanied him to the dinner parties his graduate school professors had
become a boring academic.
ear and bite into the yummy croissant. “So what was so urgent that I needed to
wearing to a gala for the opening of an art gallery. It was exhibiting photos
by famous photographers—both alive and dead—that showcased the movie stars of
the past—also both alive and dead.
encouragement. “I’ve got the perfect opportunity for you to prove to your boss
that you’ll be a great operative.”
was a director at the time, waiting for his big break. We dated for a few
years, but then he had an offer to work in Europe.”
of hot stuff can give him, Buttercup.”
mission. And Bernard agreed with me when I told him about you two.”
sensitive nature of what happened. But what I can tell you is that some
information might’ve been stolen from at least one guest while they were
staying at his resort. Bernard has several security guards employed there, but
he wanted to hire someone from the outside, in case it was an inside job.”
love the place. The five-star resort is supposed to be incredible.” She’s
positively beaming as she tells me this.
“But I’ll call Bernard, and he and I can discuss what he needs from us.”
paranoid in his old age. He wants to talk to the two of you in person about the
case. He’s willing to fly you both down for the weekend. If not this weekend,
then I’m sure he will be happy to wait until Jayden returns home.”
and Jayden’s best friend, I am more than familiar with his schedule. “But I can
easily fly down and meet with Bernard.”
will need to go undercover as guests at his resort.”
the kind of place a single woman goes to, hoping to find her soul mate. It’s a
place where married couples go. Together.”
couple.” For some reason, Granny looks almost pleased by this.
he is.” However, like Jayden, they’re also busy with other cases for a while.
your career at the firm. This would be the ideal way to demonstrate to him that
you’re more than capable of doing the job. Just think about it. But I really do
think you’ll agree that you don’t want to miss out on this golden opportunity
to prove yourself to your boss.”
case if he believes the mission is too dangerous—for me.
appear to be in on the joke, their lips pressed together as though stifling
Brighton England, Stina Lindenblatt has lived in a number of countries,
including England, the US, Finland, and Canada. This would explain her mixed up
accent. She has a kinesiology degree and a MSc in sports biological sciences.
In addition to writing fiction, she loves photography, especially the close-up
variety, and currently lives in Calgary, Canada, with her husband and three