Alex O’Hara wants to take her investigation agency in a new direction—background checks for potential spouses. She hopes this new case will do the trick when a high-powered executive asks for info on her new boyfriend. Is the man she met on a cruise her Mr. Right or is he too good to be true? On the same day, Alex gets another case—finding a deadbeat dad. And both women want to double her rates so she’ll give them highest priority. She can’t believe her luck. Her finances are on the upswing. If only Nick Palzetti was around to share her good news. He disappeared on Christmas Eve, and she hasn’t heard from him in almost three months. But glitchy phones and no internet bring everything to a screeching halt.
Dottie pursed her lips and gave her husband the evil eye. “We will talk later.” Then she turned that eye on me. “What are you doing here? I thought you were too busy to go anywhere today.”
My face burned. On our run yesterday, I told her I had to write a report. And again this morning when she begged me to go antiquing with her.
“I was busy. I mean I am. I needed a break. My eyes were coming out of my head from typing, my internet is on the fritz, and I need to ask you about someone.”
As I followed her into the kitchen, I stepped on something then hopped around. That’s what I got for leaving my shoes at the front door.
“James Andrew Matthews the Third, what did I tell you about leaving Legos on the floor? Auntie Alex could break her neck stepping on them.”
Trey, who with his father had been trying to slink away, scurried back. “Sorry, Mom. And she’s not Auntie Lex. She’s Princess Lex.”
“Princess? Ri-ight.” She rolled her eyes. “Jim, Emmy’s awake. Go get her.”
The woman had supersonic hearing.
Since we were all still in the hall, he edged past her, heading for the stairs with the dog following.
“And wake up Billy, though I don’t know how he could sleep through all this noise. And don’t forget to check Emmy’s diaper and make sure Billy goes potty before he comes down here.”
Jim saluted. “Will do.”
“Now.” Dottie whirled on me. “Who do you want to talk about?” Her gaze cut to Trey standing silently next to her taking in everything. “Wait for me in the living room, Alex. Trey, out to the family room with those Legos.”
I always felt like I was in the middle of a tornado at Dottie’s house. Talk about multi-tasking. Her mind—and mouth—went ninety miles an hour as she directed her household. A military chief had nothing on her.
Seeing her in action confirmed I could never be a good mother. I didn’t have the patience.
While waiting for her to return from the kitchen, I relaxed in the dark green wingback chair. With the new year, Dottie had declared the living room was her sanctuary. The kids and the dog weren’t allowed in. Sometimes, I wondered if Jim was.
Once we were settled with cups of hot tea—chai, my favorite—she asked again who I wanted to discuss.
“Stephanie Voorhees came to see me.”
“That girl. Her mother and mine are friends, so she thinks we should be, too. But all she does is talk about her ex. I got so tired of her complaining about him not sending child support I told her to talk to you to get her off my back.”
I took a sip of my now cooled tea. “Gee, thanks. A heads-up would have helped.”
“Sorry. I meant to.” She flicked her forehead. “Mommy brain.”
That was her excuse for forgetting everything from milk at the grocery store to mani-pedi appointments she set up for us.
“I tried to put her off.” I set my cup on a coaster on the lamp table. “She shouldn’t spend her money on an investigator when her kids need boots and winter clothes.”
Dottie choked on her tea. “Stephanie Voorhees has plenty of money. Why do you think they lived in Bloomfield Hills? Her ex didn’t make that kind of money. Daddy bought the house. She’s living with her parents here in Far Haven. And they have more money than God.”
That made me feel a little better.
“Did you say something’s wrong with your internet? What did RJ say?”
RJ, my tech guru, took care of all my electronics—computer, phones, internet.
“He isn’t answering his phone.”
Diane Burton combines her love of mystery, adventure, science fiction and romance into writing romantic fiction. Besides the science fiction romance Switched and Outer Rim series, she is the author of One Red Shoe, a romantic suspense, and the Alex O’Hara PI mysteries. Diane and her husband live in Michigan. They have two children and three grandchildren.
For more info and excerpts from her books, visit Diane’s website: http://www.dianeburton.com
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