An eternal bachelor convinced he’s finally found ‘the one’ vs. a woman scarred by her past. It’s gonna get messy…

Who’s ready for Wally’s love story?

Wally, sure is. He’s waited nearly sixty years for ‘the one’. Unfortunately, Chrissie isn’t interested in love. She’s too busy worrying about a stalker. Besides, she knows from experience love can burst into flames – literally. But Wally defines the word ‘persistent’. (And maybe stubborn, too, but don’t tell him I said that)

Can Wally, the confirmed bachelor, tempt Chrissie into giving him a chance?

Want a sample before you buy? No problem. Here you go:

Chapter 1

Why is it called the Secret Service if everyone knows about it?

“Welcome to You Cheat, We Eat,” I greet the woman entering the PI offices. “How can I help you today?”

The woman pauses for a moment before screaming like a banshee and launching herself at me. I sigh before getting to my feet and rounding my desk to meet her. I barely stop myself from rolling my eyes at her. Does she seriously think she can take me on?

I’m five-foot-ten, highly trained, and keep myself in shape by lifting weights a few times a week and jogging nearly every day. The woman ‘attacking’ me is approximately five-foot-three, dressed in cumbersome clothing constraining her movements, and is obviously untrained.

I say untrained because she’s flailing her arms at me like she’s a windmill. Does she think she’s Don Quixote? Snort. I know chivalry is dead unlike the knight errant who read way too many romances before deciding to revive the social code of conduct. Another reason to stay far, far away from romance.

I grasp her wrists and spin her around to pin them behind her back. The woman’s shoulders slump and her legs give out from her as she wails. I maneuver her until she’s sitting in a chair and release my hold on her.

“Hailey!” I shout because I can deal with danger, but I don’t deal with emotion and a woman bawling her eyes out qualifies as emotion even if she did ‘attack’ me mere moments ago.

Hailey is my boss at You Cheat, We Eat. As the name suggests, the PI firm specializes in finding spouses who don’t honor their vows. I’m nearly two decades older than my boss and I have the experience to work as a PI, but I’m not interested.

I’m done with wading through the filth of humanity, thank you very much. I’ll stick to accounting, invoicing, filing, and the other boring administrative stuff for now. Although, I do run background checks for all the investigators.

Hailey rushes out of her office, a 9 mm in her hand. Her hand drops when she sees the woman sitting in the chair sobbing her heart out. “Oh.”

I frown. “Yeah. Oh.” I motion my hand toward the woman. “You’re up.”

Phoebe, the other PI at the firm, peeks her head out of her office. She blows out a breath of air when she realizes there’s no danger. “I heard a scuffle, but the big guy wouldn’t let me out of the room to back you up.”

I raise an eyebrow and stare at her. Back me up? She’s hilarious. One, I don’t need backup. Ever. And two, Phoebe couldn’t back me up if she tried. The woman is Ms. Fashionista. Seriously. She’s currently wearing a dress that hugs all her curves and three-inch heels. I don’t know anything about fashion, but I do know enough to recognize expensive, and her clothes are definitely expensive.

I hear a grunt before her husband, Ryker, joins her at the door. Ryker is a badass bounty hunter. At six-foot-six, he’s a mountain of a man. I could still take him.

“Chrissie didn’t need your help.” He stares at me as if expecting me to respond to his statement with information about my background. He can keep staring because I’m not revealing any of my secrets to him or Hailey or Phoebe. I may consider the women my friends, but secrets are meant to remain private for a reason.

“It’s all your fault,” the woman screams and points at Hailey.

Hailey’s eyes widen. “My fault? What did I do?”

“You caught my husband cheating and now he’s left me for the other woman. He’s not supposed to leave me for the other woman! He’s supposed to fall to his knees and pledge his undying love to me.”

I keep my face passive, but inside I’m shaking my head in disbelief at this woman. Someone else who’s been reading too many romance novels.

Hailey’s head tilts to the side as she studies the woman. “Mrs. Winter?” At the woman’s nod, she kneels in front of her. “Why don’t you come into my office, and we can discuss this?”

Mrs. Winter rears back. “What’s there to discuss? Like you would know anything about betrayal with your perfect little life with your perfect little husband.”

She’s not wrong. Hailey married her high school crush, Aiden, at the beginning of the year. The two are still in their ‘honeymoon’ period and are disgustingly perfect. They can’t keep their hands off of each other, but if they think they can have nookie time while I’m in charge of this office, they’ve got another thing coming.

Phoebe raises her hand. “I know a lot about betrayal. Do you want to get a coffee with me?”

Phoebe’s not lying. I don’t know the whole story, but her first husband apparently was a complete and utter dick. In fact, he’s currently in prison for kidnapping her. He wanted to force her to have his children.

Gorgeous women always cause men to lose their minds and, make no mistake about it, Phoebe is gorgeous. She has exotic green eyes with a slight slant to them set in a heart-shaped face. And her body is a perfect hourglass shape.

Hailey is no slouch either. She doesn’t have curves like Phoebe, but she has the whole lithe dancer body thing going on. With her long brown wavy hair and dark brown eyes, she looks like she was the head cheerleader in high school. She wasn’t, though. Apparently, she was a bit of a drama geek and Aiden bullied her about it. There’s definitely a story there.

Mrs. Winter glares at Phoebe. “What would you know about betrayal? You’re beautiful.”

And beautiful people don’t know anything about betrayal? Trust me, betrayal is blind.

Ryker growls and stands in front of Phoebe. “You will not talk to my wife in this manner.”

Sigh. He had to say wife, didn’t he? Idiot. The word wife is totally going to set her off.

“Wife!” she screams and points at Phoebe. “You have no idea.”

“You’re done,” Ryker declares before approaching Mrs. Winter. He hoists her from the chair by her arm before proceeding to escort her out of the office and down the hall to the elevator.

Once she’s on the elevator with the doors closed behind her, he marches back to the office. He glares at me. “You should have handled her.”

I raise an eyebrow. “She wasn’t dangerous.”

“She was rude to my wife.”

“Rude doesn’t equal dangerous. You should know this.”

His nostrils flare as he stares at me. I fold my arms across my chest and stare right back at him. Does he think he can intimidate me? Silly man.

Phoebe tugs on her husband’s arm. “Leave Chrissie alone. Her job isn’t to keep me safe.”

Before Ryker can speak, I do. “You weren’t in danger, Phoebe. And I will make certain you’re always safe when you’re in the office.”

“Maybe we should get you a weapon.” Hailey’s nose scrunches as she considers the idea. “This isn’t the first crazy client we’ve had, and it won’t be the last.”

“I can deal with crazy.” And I can. “Crazy doesn’t equal dangerous, but I can deal with dangerous as well.” Because I already have a weapon.

Ryker grunts and spins on his heel to return to his office. This is his M.O. whenever he thinks the talk will turn to ‘women’s shit’. His words. Not mine.

Phoebe and Hailey sit in the chairs across from my desk. They appear to be settling in for a talk. Oh goodie. In case you missed it, I’m being sarcastic.

“We can get the uncles to teach you to shoot,” Hailey suggests.

The uncles aren’t Hailey’s blood relatives. It’s a group of four men who served with Hailey’s dad in the military.

“I don’t need anyone to teach me how to shoot. Certainly not the uncles.”

Phoebe waggles her eyebrows. “Not even Wally?”

At the mention of Wally, my belly flutters. The guy drives me absolutely bananas, but I can’t deny he’s one handsome man. I put his age somewhere in his fifties, but he doesn’t look a day over forty.

His black hair doesn’t have a hint of gray in it, although his beard is dotted with gray making him appear distinguished. Judging by his broad shoulders and strong biceps, he keeps himself in shape. And I do appreciate a man who takes care of himself. But it’s his eyes that get to me. They’re dark green and when he stares at me, it’s like he’s peering into my soul.

Wally and the rest of the ‘uncles’ retired from the Army ages ago, but I suspect Wally hasn’t completely retired, however. Not when I know he’s been digging into my past. He’s pissed off because he ran into a brick wall. A brick wall I have no intention of pulling down or letting him scale. Skeletons should stay hidden in the closet for a reason.  

“I can shoot.”

Hailey leans closer. “You can? How did you learn? When did you learn? Where did you learn?”

I don’t fill her in on the details. They don’t need to know the US government taught me to shoot nearly every weapon known to man. I shrug instead.

“It doesn’t matter.”

Phoebe giggles. “Wrong thing to say. Now, you’ve made her curious. She’s going to dig and dig until she finds out all the answers to her questions.”

Hailey frowns. “I think you have me confused with Suzie. I can allow my friends to have secrets.”

Suzie is Hailey’s business partner. She used to be the office manager until her brewery business took off. Now, she spends her days brewing beer and I do her job.

Phoebe snorts. “Yeah, right.”

The phone rings and offers me a reprieve. I know better than to dive on the distraction, though. Diving would pique Hailey’s curiosity more than it already is. She won’t find anything if she digs around in my past, but I don’t want to spend the rest of my working days evading her questions either.

“Are you going to answer the phone?” Hailey asks.

“Are we finished with this conversation? I didn’t want to appear rude.”

Hailey stands. “We’re done.”

Phoebe’s nose wrinkles. “We are?”

As I watch Hailey and Phoebe return to their respective offices, I think about how exhausting it is to be friends with people you can’t tell the truth about your past. This is why I’ve never had close friends outside people I met at ‘the office’ before. I should back off from their friendship for a while. I nod to myself. It’s for the best.

Decision made, I pick up the phone.

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