Fiance by Friday(9)

By: Catherine Bybee


“You’ll only find what I wish you to find,” he told her, his smile cocky.

It was her turn to lower her sunglasses and force his gaze to hers. “By the time I’m done, I’ll learn the name of your first lover. Some of our clients have bigger secrets than yours to keep. If you’re willing to open wide, I’m happy to help.”

“The media can’t find out that information. What makes you think you will?”

“The media wants a story. I want to protect my clients and make certain I’m not setting someone up for abuse. My goals are more personal, Mike.” She pushed her glasses back up and let him ponder her words.

“I like you, Gwen. Are you married?”

Gwen tilted her head back and laughed. “No, and no thank you.” Samantha had met her brother when she was hired to set him up with another woman to marry. But Blake had never met any other woman, and the two of them were nearing their third anniversary. She was not Samantha and nothing like her brother.

“Go ahead and look,” he told her. “It will be refreshing to have someone to talk to who knows all my secrets.”

“Your wife will know them, too.”

“I would assume so. How soon will I be hearing from you?” he asked.

“I already have a woman in mind.”

“Trustworthy?”

“All of our clients are that. This one in particular might be the only one who wouldn’t be…what do you call it, starstruck? With you. Your celebrity status might be news to me but not with any others in our database.”

“I understand that.”

“If the woman I have in mind agrees to meet with you, how soon can we set that up? And how quickly do you want to marry?”

“This is Hollywood. Everything, and I do mean everything, is carefully choreographed. I’d want a ‘chance’ meeting, a slow burn of a courtship, and then an undeniable attraction and undying love.” As Michael explained his needs, his voice lowered an octave and the charm Hollywood paid dearly for swept up her spine.

Too bad he’s gay.

“So one month…tops?” she asked with a grin.

“Yeah, that should work. I’ll time it as I’m finishing filming in New York. Do you think we can work within that time frame?”

As long as Karen agreed.

“Not a problem.”





Chapter Three



The sound of the shutter clicked as the camera captured image after image of the two leaving the restaurant. The man kissed the woman on the cheek and they went their separate ways.

From where he sat, he saw the make and model of the man’s car, snapped a picture of the license plate, and swung his lens to the woman. She removed her sunglasses while searching in her purse. She glanced around, as if aware someone watched.

“I’m watching,” he whispered to himself. “Get used to me.”

He lowered his camera as the man sped by, oblivious.

And when the woman pulled away…he popped a piece of candy into his mouth and followed.



Gwen dialed into the long distance call and waited through the double rings. After a quick cordial conversation with Tamara, the housekeeper at her brother’s estate, Gwen was put on hold while she went to find Samantha.

“Hello?”

“Oh, it’s so good to hear your voice. How is Albany?”

“Wet,” Samantha said, laughing. “How is Tarzana?”

“Hot and dry.”

“How is everything there? How’s Karen?”

“She’s great. In fact, she’s part of the reason I called. I need a background check on a prospective husband for her. Have you heard of a Michael Wolfe?”

“The actor?”

Why was it everyone knew the man but her? “Oh, good, you do know him.”

Samantha no longer took care of the daily activities of Alliance since her marriage, but she knew the people to contact for background checks. The higher the profile, the harder it was to find anything of substance. If there was any dirt to find, she’d find it.

“Everyone knows him, Gwen.”

“So Karen has told me. Do you have time to look?”

Samantha laughed. “You’ve lived here, you know I have nothing but time. There’s more staff on this estate than there are people on your block. If I leave a towel on the bathroom floor it’s picked up before I get out of the shower.”

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