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Dirty at 30

Cassandra Lawson

Copyright ©2016 Cassandra Lawson

Smashwords Edition

Cover by Cassy Roop of Pink Ink Designs

Proofreading by Kendra’s Editing and Book Services

This book is a work of fiction. All characters and events are creations of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual people or events is purely coincidental.

The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of a copyrighted work is illegal. Criminal copyright infringement is investigated by federal law enforcement agencies and is punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of $250,000.

Also by Cassandra Lawson

Love Without Batteries Series

Naughty at 30 (Book 2)

Sultry at 30 (Book 3)

Moon Virus Series

Raven’s Blood (Book 1)

Embrace the Heat (Book 2)

Seducing Death (Book 3)

Shattered Restraint (Book 4)

Impulsive Destiny (Book 5)

Untamed Winter (Book 6)

Psy-Vamp Series

Vampires and Vixens (Book 1)

Safe Hex With a Vampire (Book 2)

Vampires Prefer Blondes (Book 3)

The Vampire Will See You Now (Book 4)

Wanton with a Vampire (Book 5)

Vampire in Geek’s Clothing (Book 6)

Wicked Crazy Vampire Love (Book 7)

Spells That Bind Series

Sinfully Spellbound (Book 1)

Shamelessly Spellbound (Book 2)


Dirty at 30 represented a new challenge in my writing career. This was my first contemporary romantic comedy, and my beta readers, Amber, Andrea, Kari, Levenia, and Ria, really helped me work out the kinks in this book. I also really appreciate my husband and children who put up with me working extra hours as I wrote this book, which I squeezed in the middle of my existing release schedule. I want to thank all of my readers. You are all amazing, and I appreciate each and every one of you.

Chapter One


A blonde, a brunette, and a redhead walked into a bar. No, it’s not the opening line for a joke. It’s how my Saturday night started.

This particular Saturday was the one-year anniversary of meeting my two best friends, Chelsea and Delaney—the blonde and the redhead. For the last year, we’d gotten together almost every week. What we did depended on our moods and schedules. We’d done everything from lunch and shopping, to indoor skydiving, but the one constant in each of our gatherings was the discussions about the sex we should be having—the kind involving an actual guy. Our talks were purely hypothetical since none of us were looking to go down that road again, which was why our talks usually included discussions of book boyfriends and boyfriends requiring batteries. Many of our outings ended with a trip to the bookstore, and occasionally, we stopped at the sex toy shop. Our book boyfriends never let us down, and we could count on our battery powered friends to meet our needs without any complications.

We’d all met during a yoga class taught by a human pretzel Barbie, who barked out orders like a chain-smoking drill sergeant. I’d taken that wretched class for twelve weeks. Many might wonder why we’d all continued to attend the class when we hated it so much, but we’d each bought a nonrefundable package of lessons at a great price, and we were all too stubborn to drop out of yoga boot camp. At first, we’d just hung out to talk about our evil yoga instructor, but we quickly learned we had a lot more in common. Each of us had found Mr. Wrong and foolishly jumped into marriages doomed to fail. We’d each been hesitant to date since then for our own reasons. Chelsea was afraid of losing control of her life again. Delaney was afraid of being hurt again, not that she’d ever admit to that. As for me, I had an even better reason to avoid dating; I was still married to my Mr. Wrong, but not for long.

“I’m divorcing Rob,” I announced, watching the faces of my friends morph from shock to joy.

“That’s wonderful!” Chelsea practically screeched, her sassy blonde bob bouncing around her heart-shaped face, and her blue eyes sparkling with excitement. Chels looked like a pinup girl with her exaggerated curves and pouty lips. She also had a sweet voice that made people think she was the helpless little woman, which was far from the truth.

“You’re not joking, right?” Delaney asked skeptically, probably wondering if this was the four margaritas talking. As our designated driver for the evening, Delaney was the only one who wasn’t a little tipsy. Her long red hair flowed around her face, bringing attention to her elfin features and bright green eyes. She’d come from a small town in Texas, close to the Louisiana border, which gave her a drawl that men seemed to drool over when she spoke in that smoky voice of hers.

“I’m really doing it,” I assured them, but I understood why Delaney was skeptical. I’d been married to Tristan Robinson—or as everyone called him, Rob—for eleven years. Our anniversary had come and gone just two days after my thirtieth birthday, and that’s when I’d suddenly realized it was ridiculous to remain married to a man I hadn’t seen in nearly as long as we’d been married. The only reason I knew he was still alive was that all the bills for the house I lived in were still being paid every month. To be honest, I was somewhat amazed that he’d managed to pay the bills all these years. Fifteen years my senior, Rob had always behaved more like an irresponsible teen, and I was pretty sure that hadn’t changed.

“I gotta ask,” Chelsea began. “What brought this on?”

Luke, my stepson, had been my biggest reason for remaining married. I wasn’t going to lie and say he was the only reason I’d stayed married to Rob. It hadn’t all been selfless on my part. Having no rent or household bills for the last decade had allowed me to get a college education and start my own graphic design business. So, yes, I had gained something from remaining married to my absentee husband so long, but it was long past time to move on. I should have moved on as soon as Luke left for college, but I was comfortable in my state of limbo.

Delaney nodded. “Please tell me it’s something interesting, like a guy. Tell me you were having phenomenal sex with a hot guy, and he told you he can’t live without you, so you’ve decided to ditch dickhead Rob.”

“Oh, my!” gasped the elderly woman from the table close to ours.

Tonight, we’d met at a bar attached to our favorite Mexican restaurant. Since we were regulars here, they knew to seat us far from the main restaurant, and they did their best to encourage other patrons to sit at tables further from us. The gasping seventy-five-year-old with lime green hair was a regular who insisted on sitting close to us. To save her overly starched husband from being offended, she always turned down his hearing aid.

When I gave her a smile, she waved her frail hand with its long acrylic nails painted to match her hair. “Don’t mind me, dearie,” she said with a sweet smile. “I’m hoping Red’s right. I need a man at least five times a week. A girl your age shouldn’t be getting less dick than I am.”

Her husband looked over at us with a scowl before turning back to his wife. “She doesn’t look very domestic. Looks like a prostitute if you ask me.”

The senior spitfire wasted no time in reacting to her husband’s rude comment by tossing a drink in his face and storming out with as much spunk as a woman pushing a walker could manage. Her husband hurried after her, shouting about how he didn’t understand what she was so riled up about.

After we all got our laughter under control, Delaney pointed to them. “I want to be her when I grow up.”

“Does anyone know why she’s using the walker?” Chels asked.

“I didn’t tell you?” I asked.

“No,” Delaney replied.

“She was in here when I met Luke for lunch one day, and I stopped by her table to ask her what happened,” I began with a laugh. “According to her, they bought a sex swing after her husband’s knee replacement, and there was an accident.”

“No way!” Chelsea said over her giggles.

“She seemed dead serious,” I assured them. “Do you think I can talk her into adopting me?”

“Don’t forget that her husband is part of that package,” Chelsea reminded me.

“Good point,” I agreed. “Too bad.”

“Back to why you decided to get divorced after all this time,” Delaney pushed.

I might have been embarrassed admitting my reasoning to anyone else, but these ladies got me. There would be no judgment, mostly because we’d all confessed some pretty embarrassing things to each other. You couldn’t be shy around the women you shopped for sex toys with.

“It’s Rafael,” I began with a sad sigh.

Both of my friends looked thoroughly confused. They knew who Rafael was, but I could see why they would have trouble understanding how he could influence my decision to file for divorce.

“Please tell you haven’t started having long conversations with Rafael,” Chelsea gasped, trying to look serious but failing miserably. She ended up hunched over the table with her head resting on her arms as she giggled at the image.

“That would be a little weird,” Delaney agreed, having more luck looking serious. “Didn’t you once tell me Rafael doesn’t speak English?”

“Do you want to hear this story or not?” I asked my friends.

Chelsea got her giggles under control and sat up. “Sorry. We’ll be quiet.”

While I seriously doubted she’d be able to remain quiet, I continued anyway. “I was enjoying a quiet evening at home,” I began. “I’d opened a bottle of nonalcoholic wine and watched a little television.”

“What were you watching?” Chelsea asked, proving she couldn’t be quiet after four margaritas.

Game of Thrones,” I replied.

“You hate that show,” Delaney remarked.

“I don’t hate it,” I argued. “I’m just not crazy about it.”

They continued to look at me, waiting for the real reason I kept watching Game of Thrones.

“I was watching it for the hot guys,” I admitted with no shame. “Are you happy? Can we continue?”

“Go right ahead,” Delaney told me with a grin. “You were watching hot guys and drinking grape juice.” There was no mistaking the disdain in Delaney’s voice at my choice of beverage. Delaney did not approve of wine without alcohol.

“Naturally, I wanted to end the evening on a happy note, so I decided to take a bath with Rafael. Things were going great. Better than great. I was fast approaching the big O. It was within my reach, and then he died.”

Chelsea let out a quick giggle before reining in her amusement. Delaney’s head was resting on the table now, and her shoulders were shaking.

“You’re getting a divorce because the batteries died on your favorite vibrator?” Chelsea asked, before losing the battle to hold in her giggles.

“I’d just replaced the batteries,” I insisted. “Just in case I’d somehow managed to put old batteries in, I almost fell on my ass running out of the bathroom while dripping water across the floor. Even with two new AAs, he still wouldn’t work. He’s dead.”

“That’s the name of my favorite vibrator,” Delaney piped in.

“You named your vibrator Dead?” Chelsea asked.

“No. His name is Justin Case,” Delaney replied with a wicked grin. “I keep him just in case I’m horny.”

I snorted. “You’re always horny. That poor vibrator must get a good workout.” This was definitely a pot calling the kettle black situation, but I was willing to live with that.

Delaney flipped me off while letting out a contented sigh. “He’s the best I’ve ever had. You know what I’m talking about, Brook. You have several backups for Rafael, but you ran to get replacement batteries instead of the backup. Justin is the only vibrator who takes care of all my needs.”

“Perhaps, you should finish this story before Delaney gets too carried away fantasizing about her buzzing boyfriend,” Chelsea suggested. “Then, we’ll take you over to get a new friend. There’s no standard mourning period for battery operated boyfriends, so it’s acceptable to replace Rafael right away.”

Some might find our conversation strange, but it was talks like these that made our weekly gatherings so much fun.

“After Rafael died, leaving me with my orgasm just out of reach, I got to thinking it would be nice to have a man take care of things for me, at least part of the time, which is when I decided it’s time to file for divorce,” I explained. “I could argue that I don’t have a real marriage, so what’s the big deal with having a man while I’m still married, but this seemed like the sign I needed to get out of this relationship limbo I’ve been stuck in. So, on my agenda for the month are file for divorce and get a replacement for Rafael—a battery-powered replacement for now. I want to focus on getting this divorce moving first.”

“You gotta file for the big D before you can look for a big D,” Chelsea chirped happily.

“No more margaritas for the blonde,” Delaney called out to our waitress, which resulted in Chelsea flipping her off. “This is really exciting!”

“Which part is exciting? Me getting divorced? Or are you just excited about a trip to our favorite store?” I teased.

“I’m excited about the idea of sex with someone with a heartbeat,” Delaney replied. “Being an erotica writer, one would assume I get lucky sometimes.”

“Are you saying Justin isn’t enough for you?” I asked with an expression of mock horror.

“Never insult Justin,” Delaney warned. “What was I talking about?”

“Dick,” Chelsea replied.

“I can’t even remember the last time I had sex,” Delaney mused.

“Same here,” I began. “I do know it wasn’t very good.”

Based on the sighs from my friends, I wasn’t alone.

“It’s been far too long,” Delaney muttered.

“Are you really considering going polyamorous and getting a friend to play with you and Justin?” Chelsea asked with a gasp.

“As tempting as the idea of getting someone to join me and Justin is, I’m too busy,” Delaney insisted, before shocking us all when she added, “but maybe I should make time.”

That was a big change, and the table fell silent. Delaney had never even brought up the possibility of finding a man before. None of us had brought it up before today. While I’d expected my friends to be excited about me taking a chance, I’d thought they’d be resistant to taking a chance themselves.

I was the one to break the silence. “It’s time.”

“For what?” Chelsea asked. “Are we leaving already? I thought we were going to order dessert first.”

“We’ve all recently turned thirty and spent most of our twenties avoiding dating,” I began. “It’s time to start dating.”

“I’m not sure about dating, but I wouldn’t mind seeing if sex is better now,” Delaney added. “I write about good sex, and I can’t help thinking there must be a man out there who knows what he’s doing in bed.”

Chelsea began to shake her head wildly. “I’m still having trouble getting Jason to leave me alone. There is no way I am dating and ending up with another stalker in my life.”

“Fine,” I relented. “How about if we just agree to start having sex with actual men, instead of fantasizing about them with our electronic lovers? I’ve never had a wild affair, so maybe I should start with that, anyway.”

“I’m in,” Delaney stated with a decisive nod.

“You are?” Chelsea asked, mouth open and eyes wide. While I managed to avoid gasping in shock, it was hard, so I didn’t blame Chelsea for her reaction.

“We should make a pact,” Delaney continued.

“Didn’t you say you don’t have time for a man?” Chelsea asked.

Delaney flashed a wicked grin. “I’m sure I could make a little time to explore that threesome you mentioned me having with Justin.”

“Come on, Chels,” I urged. “You can’t continue to let Jason rule your life. If he sees you with someone else, he might get the hint and leave you alone.”

After considering what I’d said, Chelsea nodded. “You’re right. I’m tired of fantasizing about a hot alpha male walking off the pages of a book and making me scream. I need to get one of those for a night or two.”

Now that my friends were in it with me, I was actually excited about the idea of finding a man. Of course, I still had one major detail to take care of. “First, I need to get this divorce going.”

“Do you have an attorney?” Chelsea asked.

I nodded. “According to my attorney, I should be able to get the divorce finalized quickly if I can serve Rob with the papers. That is going to be the hard part.”

“Do you know where Rob is?” Chelsea asked.

“Not a clue,” I admitted.

Rob had packed his bags and walked out the door less than six months after we’d married. There’d been no big fight, and he hadn’t explained why he was leaving. Since then, I’d only spoken to him on the phone a couple of times. I’d never cried or hoped he’d return. In all honesty, I’d been relieved to see Rob go. I’d considered filing for divorce earlier, but Rob hadn’t just left me with the house, car, and a nice monthly stipend; he’d also left me with his thirteen year old son, Luke. At nineteen, I’d become more than Luke’s stepmom, I’d become the one constant in his life. I had no clue where his mother was, and Rob had never taken much interest in Luke, even before he’d left.

“What happens if you can’t find Rob?” Chelsea asked. “You won’t be stuck with that asshole forever, will you?”

“I can still get a divorce,” I assured her. “It will just take much longer, and I’d really like to put that part of my life behind me. Luke is an adult, and he’s also been pushing me to move forward. I think he feels guilty about the stuff with Rob, even though none of it was his fault.”

“You know what you should do?” Delaney asked, and something told me I didn’t want to know what Delaney thought I should do.

“I’m afraid to ask,” I admitted.

“You should ask Luke to fix you up with one of his hot young friends,” Delaney suggested.

I had just taken a drink, and I literally spit the contents across the table at Delaney, which served the bitch right.

“Brook!” Delaney screeched.

I shrugged. “You deserved that. Just be glad I’d taken a drink of water instead of my margarita. It would be totally wrong to go out with one of my stepson’s friends. I’m pretty sure it is a big no-no of the forbidden romance variety.”

“You’re only six years older than Luke,” Delaney argued. “I’m sure you were considered a total MILF by his friends during his high school years. You owe it to at least one of those poor young men to make his ultimate fantasy a reality.”

“I do not want to think about horny teen boys fantasizing about me,” I said with a shudder.

“She’s right,” Chelsea added.

“Chelsea agrees you should do it,” Delaney practically gloated.

“I meant Brook’s right,” Chelsea clarified. “Teen boys are pretty gross. I have a brother, so I know.”

“I am not asking my stepson to fix me up with one of his friends,” I insisted.

Delaney looked thoughtful for a moment. “Maybe he could fix me up with one of his friends. I might end up being inspired to write a story about the sophisticated older woman, teaching her young lover how to pleasure a woman.”

“That’s been done,” Chelsea pointed out.

“Done or not, it would still be fun,” Delaney argued. “Don’t worry. I was teasing you about fixing me up with one of Luke’s friends. Older men are my preference. You know, a man with more experience. I married a boy. I’m looking for a man to take care of business for me now."

“I suppose, I should be happy you didn’t suggest I fix you up with Luke,” I told Delaney.

“That would be awkward,” Chelsea agreed.

“I can’t believe we’ve never met Luke,” Delaney remarked.

“He just moved back to the area, so I’m sure you’ll meet him soon enough,” I assured them. “What I can’t believe is that we’ve never met Chelsea’s brother.”

“You’ve never met any of my family,” Chelsea pointed out. “It’s nothing personal. I just don’t invite them to any gatherings that might end in shopping for vibrators.” Her eyes suddenly lit with excitement. “Hey! I have a great idea. My brother can help you find Rob.”

I’d forgotten Chelsea’s brother, Tyler, was a private investigator.

“That would be great, Chels,” I told her. “My attorney recommended a private investigator, but they won’t be able to meet with me for another three weeks.”

“Tyler can help you sooner than that,” Chelsea assured me.

“Should I call his office to set up an appointment?” I asked.

“Nah,” Chelsea replied. “I’ll text him and see if he can give you a call. Do you mind if I give him your number? It’ll be better if you don’t go to his office.”

“Any reason I shouldn’t go to the office?” I asked.

“They’re doing some remodels,” Chelsea explained. “Plus, this will make it easier for Tyler to squeeze you in.”

“You think he can take care of everything without meeting me in person?” I asked.

She shrugged. “I’m not sure, but he can always meet you at a coffee shop or something.”

“Just let me know what he says,” I told her. “I can email him stuff, too.”

“Now that we have a plan, let’s finish our drinks and go find a replacement for Rafael,” Chelsea suggested.

Delaney raised her glass of iced tea. “A toast to making this the year we end our long stretches of celibacy!”

I raised my glass. “To getting a little dirty at thirty.”

“To getting a little naughty at thirty,” Chelsea added with a raised glass.

“To getting a little sultry at thirty,” Delaney finished with her smoky drawl.

Chapter Two


After surviving the week from Hell, I was looking forward to meeting my buddy Luke for drinks. It had been about six months since I’d seen him, which made me feel like a dick considering he’d been back in the area for over a month. In that time, I’d been busy with several cases, mostly involving cheating spouses. One in particular, I needed to have scrubbed from my memory. I’m not entirely certain it’s cheating when the spouse in question is into sucking the toes of women after they play tennis at his club, but his wife thought it was. I really hate my job. At twelve, when I first asked my uncle if I could work for him, I’d thought being a private investigator would be exciting. It wasn’t, but it was a family business, which is part of the reason I was still stuck in a job I hated.

Luke had moved down to San Diego right after high school to attend college with the intention of majoring in Marine Biology. That had been his plan for as long as I’d known him, even though he’d had no clue what he planned to do with that degree. Luke’s marine biology plans had changed shortly after arriving in San Diego, and he’d come back six years later with his teaching credential.

Looking at my friend as he made his way toward me at the bar, I was having trouble picturing him teaching biology to a bunch of middle school kids, but that’s exactly what he’d be doing in a few weeks. I suspected he’d be one of the youngest teachers there, and that might explain the beard and mustache he’d grown. Luke was a couple of inches taller than me, standing at six-foot-two. When we were younger, he’d worn his blond hair a little on the long side, and he’d usually had glasses covering his blue eyes. Now, his hair was neatly trimmed, and he’d gotten laser surgery shortly after high school, allowing him to ditch the glasses.

“Ty!” Luke greeted and reached out to fist bump me, something he only did because he knew it annoyed me.

Payback was a bitch, but Luke already knew that, so he didn’t seem surprised when I stood and hugged him. Luke wasn’t the touchy feely type, probably because his dad had been a complete dick while he was growing up. Don’t get me wrong; Luke’s dad didn’t hit him, but he’d definitely gone for the hands-off approach to parenting. The guy had rarely been home, usually leaving Luke with a nanny. That is, until his dad remarried when Luke was thirteen. After that, he’d gotten even more hands-off, and, to the best of my knowledge, Luke hadn’t seen his dad since before his fourteenth birthday. As hard as it was to believe, Luke’s mom was even worse. Thankfully, he’d had his stepmom through his teen years. Brook was. . . Hell, I didn’t even know how to describe Brook. Just thinking about her was enough to make me wish we were sitting at a table instead of the bar. As always, thoughts of Brook had my dick standing at attention, making me feel like some horny teen with his first crush.

I’d hardcore perved on Brook Robinson through most of high school, and I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that fantasies of her still played a big role in my solo sessions. It wasn’t just about her being gorgeous—which she was. With dark brown hair, hazel eyes, and a lithe frame, she was definitely beautiful. Brook was also loyal, funny, and kind. Embarrassing or not, I was a twenty-five-year old man with a chronic crush on his best friend’s stepmom, and I was pretty sure that contributed to my decision to avoid getting serious with any woman. I’d had my share of casual relationships and fuck buddies, but nothing beyond that. I made it a point to never get involved with any woman who was looking for more because I knew I couldn’t give it to her.

I’d told myself over and over again that I was not going to ask about Brook today, but that just proved I could be a dumbass when it came to Brook.

“How’s your stepmom?” I asked.

“Brook’s doing okay,” Luke responded after a brief hesitation. That hesitation worried me.

“What’s really going on?” I asked.

Luke just shrugged.

“Don’t be a dick,” I told him.

“You’re awfully concerned about my stepmom,” he remarked. “Any reason for that?”

“Again, don’t be a dick.” Luke knew all about my teen crush on Brook.

“She really is doing fine,” Luke assured me. “Between running her graphic design business and filing for divorce, she’s just got a lot on her plate.”

“What?” I asked, sure I must have misheard. “Brook is divorcing your dad?”

“Yeah,” Luke replied. “She’s gonna start dating again, too. I’m hoping she finds a nice guy. She deserves it after all the years she put her life on hold for me.”

“How are you handling all of this?” I asked, trying to focus on the conversation instead of on the fact that Brook would be single soon. The object of my decade long fantasy would be attainable, which brought me to the conclusion that I was an asshole who was still hardcore perving on his best friend’s stepmom.

“I’m happy for her,” he replied. “This is her chance to find a guy who appreciates her. Maybe she’ll even have kids of her own. She’d make a great mom.”

Silence stretched between us as I tried to decide how to ask Luke if he’d be okay with me dating Brook. For all I knew, Brook wouldn’t be okay with it, but I needed to clear this with Luke before I got to that step. “I need to ask you something.”

Luke met my gaze, his expression serious. “If you want to ask her out, I’m fine with it. Just remember how reasonable I’m being if the situation is ever reversed.”

“Dude! My parents are still married,” I told him. “Plus, you aren’t my mom’s type, and she’s old. Fuck! Don’t tell my mom I said that. I just meant she’s too old for you, not that she’s ancient.”

“First, your mom is totally hot,” Luke began. “Fifty is the new thirty, so she’s not old.”

“Stop!” I said with a hand up to ward off any more talk of how hot my mom was. At least, this conversation was curing the raging hard on I’d had from thinking about Brook.

“I’m just saying, the women in your family are hot, and your mom is proof they age well,” he continued.

“Are you punishing me for the hug?” I asked.

“Absolutely,” he replied with a grin. “You had to know I was going to make you pay for acting like a clingy bitch.”

Rather than taking offense, I blew him a kiss, to which he responded by flipping me off.

“Fine,” I relented. “You can ask my grandma out, but she’s going to turn you down.”

“Lies!” Luke insisted. “Your grandmother has always had a thing for me. She told me I was a sweet boy every time she saw me. We both know what that means.”

“She told me you’re too skinny and need to put on at least twenty pounds to get a good woman.”

“If I start dating your grandma, I’ll put on weight,” he remarked. “She’s a great cook.”

“Okay, we need to stop talking about you dating my grandma,” I insisted. “You can date any of my relatives under thirty. How’s that?”

“Make it under thirty-five, and you’ve got a deal,” he countered.

“Fine, any of them under thirty-five,” I agreed, even though I knew he was just messing with me. I didn’t have any cousins around that age. I just had an older sister, but Chelsea and Luke had never gotten along, so I knew he wasn’t talking about her.

I needed to know more about Brook. It had been six years since I’d seen her at Luke’s graduation. Since I’d graduated a year ahead of Luke, I’d been busy learning the ropes at my uncle’s firm during Luke’s last year of high school, so I hadn’t spent much time at Luke’s house that year. A lot of time had passed, and I was sure Brook had changed some. I’d certainly changed.

Before I could ask Luke more about what was going on in Brook’s life, my phone buzzed with an incoming text. “I need to check this in case my uncle is messaging me about something.” My uncle was currently mad at me for refusing to handle a repeat client of the firm. Actually, he wasn’t so much mad at me for refusing to help the client as he was about me suggesting the client was an asshole for wanting to find out if wife number four was cheating. The guy only cared because he’d already found potential wife number five and wanted out. He did this each time he got bored with his current wife. The rich asshole had prenups with each wife, allowing him to get out of a big payout in the divorce if his wife was cheating. Getting solid proof wasn’t important as long as we found enough to make his wife agree to his terms in the divorce. I knew for a fact wife number three hadn’t been cheating, but she’d agreed to his terms to avoid having her name dragged through the media. He was smart and always offered more than the prenup required, threatening them with less if they didn’t agree to his terms.

Looking at my phone, I was surprised to see a text from my sister, since I knew she had big plans with her secret girls’ club. They’d been hanging out for about a year, and I had yet to meet them. That was probably a good thing considering some of the stuff she’d told me they talked about.

CHELS: Hey, Brat! I need you to help my friend.

ME: I am not helping anyone move.

CHELS: Who said anything about moving?

ME: The only time you ever ask me to help one of your friends, I end up having to rent a truck and move a refrigerator.

CHELS: This friend needs help finding her husband so she can serve him with divorce papers. It’s right up your alley, and she’ll pay you.

ME: IDK. I’m considering taking some time off.

CHELS: Please!!!

ME: Fine. I’m out right now, but send me her info, and I’ll look into it for her when I can.

CHELS: You are awesome! She really needs to move on with her life. She hasn’t seen him in over ten years.

No. Fucking. Way. My sister could not be talking about Brook. I could not be getting a message asking me to help her right after Luke had given me his nod of approval for dating her. Chelsea had mentioned her friend, Brook, from yoga class, but I’d never made the connection. Then again, why would I? It’s not like Brook was an uncommon name.

“Are you going to keep staring at that phone like it’s some great mystery?” Luke asked.

“Is Brook having trouble finding your dad?” I asked. “What I mean to say is, does she know where he is to serve him with papers?”

Luke considered my question. “She hasn’t mentioned having any trouble finding him, but you know how Brook is. She never wants me to know when anything’s wrong. Do you want me to ask her?”

“No, don’t worry about it. Does she know my sister?” I asked.

Luke shrugged. “I haven’t met her new friends yet, but it’s possible. She’s been hanging out with some women she met at a crappy yoga class.”

Grinning, I texted Chelsea back.

ME: I’d like to meet with her in person before I do anything.

There was a long pause before Chelsea finally replied.

CHELS: Why don’t you call her instead of meeting in person?

ME: Any reason you don’t want me to meet your friend?

CHELS: Yes. You’re still a brat. I’ll ask her when we’re done shopping.

ME: Can’t you ask her while you try on shoes?

CHELS: We’re shopping for vibrators.

ME: Did not want to know that.

Actually, I was very interested in Brook shopping for vibrators, but the thought of my sister shopping for vibrators was enough to kill what was left of my erection.

CHELS: Do you think I should get a rabbit?

ME: I thought you didn’t want to get any pets.

CHELS: Still talking about vibrators. It’s a multitasking vibe. I heard turtles are good for that, too.

ME: Are you trying to make me go blind from reading these texts?

CHELS: Nope. Just getting even for the time you and Luke used my thong as a slingshot.

I chuckled at the memory of using Chelsea’s thong as a slingshot. That hadn’t gone over well.

“What’s so funny?” Luke asked.

“That was Chels,” I told Luke. “She was reminding me of the time we used her thong as a slingshot. Do you remember how mad she got?”

Rather than laughing along with me, Luke’s cheeks heated, which was an interesting reaction, but I decided to ignore it—for now. I’d definitely bring it up later. We’re friends, so it’s my job to fuck with him.

ME: If I help your friend, you have to promise not to talk to me about vibrators again.

CHELS: No deal. We both know you’re going to help her. I’ll send you her number, and you can arrange a time to meet up.

ME: See what her schedule is like, and I’ll meet with her at her home next week.

CHELS: Why her home? How about a coffee shop?

ME: I might need to ask her some sensitive questions, so it would be easier if we weren’t in public. I can call her if it’s too much of a hassle, but I figured it would be less awkward for her to arrange the meeting with you. I’ll text you the times I’m free next week.

I might have felt guilty about lying to my sister under other circumstances, but the last thing I wanted was Chelsea giving Brook an update on how I’d been these last six years. I’d either come across sounding like a man-whore or completely pathetic. It would depend on my sister’s mood.

“What was that all about?” Luke asked. “I know it was more than just talk about your sister’s underwear.”

“Chelsea asked me to help Brook find your dad so she can serve him with papers,” I explained.

Luke chuckled. “I guess you’ll get your chance to ask Brook out sooner than I expected.”

“Yes, I will,” I agreed with a smug grin. “First, I need to help her find your dad,” I reminded him. “Can you send me any information you have that might help me?”

“Sure, I’ll do anything to help Brook get completely free of my dad,” Luke replied with a shrug.

This was the first case I’d been excited about in more than a year. Then again, this was the first case I’d taken with a really big payout. I couldn’t wait to see Brook again. I’d spent years viewing her as an unattainable fantasy, but things had definitely changed. Every pore of my body was screaming that Brook was mine, and I was looking forward to convincing her of that.

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