Former child star Sofia Salgado is finally finding her feet as a trainee investigator at Maloney Investigations when they are drafted in to help thirteen-year-old Daniel find his birth father. There’s only one snag. According to Daniel’s mom, former Los Angeles party girl, Candy, there’s more than one candidate. A lot more!
The third book in this brand new, fast-paced, funny series from New York Times Bestseller Rebecca Cantrell and Sean Black.
Sofia Salgado had never felt quite so nervous on a stakeout. Which was saying something. Already in her short career as a trainee investigator with Maloney Investigations, she had been photographed dropping her drawers to take a leak, while conducting surveillance outside a Malibu rehab clinic, and with the bottom ripped out of her pajamas while escaping another rehab clinic with a rock star.
This morning’s operation was a whole other level of difficulty. Next to her, Aidan Maloney, senior investigator and son of the agency’s owner, Brendan, shifted uncomfortably in the driver’s seat of the car they’d hired specially for the morning’s operation. She knew something was high stakes when Aidan was antsy too.
No doubt covering his own unease, Aidan asked, “How’s your bladder holding up?”
Aidan could be a real ass sometimes. For several days after her public humiliation had gone internet viral, Sofia had come into work to find a package of adult diapers on her office chair.
“My bladder’s fine,” she replied. “How’s yours? The genito-urinary department here is pretty good if you’re having a problem.” She nodded toward the rear entrance of the UCLA Medical Center.
Aidan smirked. “Problem peeing is the urology department, Salgado. Genito-urinary would be if I had the clap or crabs. Anyway, it’s good to know you rate their services so highly.”
Damn it! Aidan was right. She’d meant to say “urology”. But she wasn’t about to concede defeat. “I knew that.”
Aidan’s smile widened. “Sure you did.”
With Aidan, the best form of defense was often attack. “So?” she asked him. “Still hitting Tinder?”
“Don’t try to change the subject,” said Aidan, scanning the parking-lot entrance for signs of their target. They knew his vehicle really well, so hopefully he wouldn’t prove too hard to spot. “For your information I deleted my Tinder account last week.”
“You mean you got banned for too much swiping?”
“Weird you’d know that would get you banned from Tinder but, no, for your information, I deleted it because I’m officially seeing someone.”
That stopped Sofia in her tracks. Not only was Aidan a serial dater, employing every dating website and app known to man, he also kept a rigorous checklist he used to dismiss women as potential partners on the flimsiest of pretexts. One potential girlfriend had been kicked to the curb because of how she held a fork.
Aidan had also ruled out a relationship with women he’d dated because:
1. They’d worn the same color outfit on two consecutive dates. Not the same outfit. The same color outfit. “Laziness. If a woman can’t make the effort to change things up on the second date, the relationship’s already doomed.”
2. Her mom’s BMI. Not the woman’s body mass index. Her mom’s. “The apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree,” had been his explanation. “I usually check out how Grandma looks too.”
3. For cutting her hair the week after he’d said how much he liked the style she had. “Totally passive aggressive.”
So the fact that he’d quit Tinder and was seeing someone came to Sofia as fairly major news. “Whoa, back up there, A-dog. You’ve quit Tinder?”
Sofia had picked up the A-dog thing from her niece, Violet, who had taken to calling pretty much everyone Dog (pronounced Dawg, like the rappers). Her first-grade teacher had not been amused and Sofia’s sister, Emily, and brother-in-law, Ray, had been called into the school to discuss it after Violet had asked her teacher, Miss Grace, “What’s up with all dis crazy class work, G-dawg? It’s da first grade, we should be stone-cold chillin’.”
Aidan shrugged, like his bombshell was no big deal. “Yeah. So? And stop calling me A-dog. You’re from Indiana, not Compton.”
He might have been playing it off like it was nothing, but Aidan had had a serious Tinder habit. At one point Sofia was sure he was risking a repetitive-strain injury to his index finger from all the left swiping. Left swipe meant he’d dismissed the person from further consideration. A right swipe indicated he was interested.
Aidan’s left-to-right-swipe ratio must have been about a hundred to one and was usually accompanied by comments like:
“Duck Face alert. Why do women do that?”
“SIF!” Which Sofia knew from a previous discussion with Aidan stood for Secret Internet Fatty.
She guessed it was better than the type of repetitive-strain injury usually associated with men spending too much time alone on the internet (that one was more wrist-based) but, still, Aidan ditching Tinder merited further inquiry.
Now he was staring at her, the familiar annoying smirk playing at the corner of his lips. “I just told you. I’m seeing someone.”
“That’s never stopped you before.” It was true that, even while Aidan was dating, he kept trawling Tinder, just in case someone who fit his checklist better than the person he was seeing happened along. He was like the Great White Shark of the dating world, needing to keep moving constantly or risk drowning.
Aidan shifted in his seat, Mr. Nonchalance. “What can I tell you?”
“So, it’s serious?”
“Huh,” said Sofia, still trying to process the news.
Aidan looked back at her. “What does ‘huh’ mean?”
“It doesn’t mean anything.”
“Then why say it?” said Aidan, not about to give up. He was a master at taking things off on a tangent, and directing the conversation away from what he didn’t want to discuss.
Sofia shifted round in her seat so she was more side-on to him. “Okay, I guess it’s surprising, A-dog.”
Now that she knew being called A-dog bugged him, it had gained extra appeal.
He rolled his eyes, an adult not about to rise to childish bait. “Why is it surprising?” he asked.
“I thought you were on a mission to bang every available female under the age of thirty in the 310 area code. You can’t be through ten percent of them yet.”
“That just proves how little you really know me. And bang? Really? Is that what the kids are calling it these days, S-dawg?” Aidan had suddenly assumed the moral high ground.
“In any case,” he went on, “can we just focus on what we’re here for rather than my personal life?”
Sofia was going to say something about being able to use her mouth and eyes at the same time, but she wasn’t sure she had the energy to keep arguing, and Aidan would only make some kind of crude joke of it. That was why he was impossible to argue with. He constantly shifted the terms. He’d chide her for having a potty mouth, and the next moment he’d be spitting out double-entendres like they were going to be outlawed. It was infuriating.
“Maybe he’s not going to show,” Sofia said, moving the discussion back to why they were there. “You’re sure this is where he’s been coming the past few days?”
Aidan answered, with a world-weary “Yes. I followed him here yesterday. And the day before.”
“You know, it’s probably nothing that exciting.”
“Easy for you to say,” Aidan shot back.
“Oh, come on, that’s not fair. I care about this just about as much as you do. I wouldn’t be here on my day off otherwise.”
“Hold up! That’s the car.”
Sofia got the briefest glimpse of the target vehicle. They both ducked as it drove toward them. Her head clashed against Aidan’s. Hard.
“You have a head like a rock. Anyone ever tell you that?” said Aidan, rubbing his scalp where Sofia had inadvertently butted him.
“Yours isn’t exactly made out of fluffy clouds and marshmallows. Well, not on the outside, anyway.”
They peeked up over the edge of the dashboard. Their target had already parked and exited his vehicle, and was walking toward one of the many entrances to the UCLA Medical Center in Westwood.
“It’s him all right,” said Sofia.
Aidan didn’t say anything. He just stared straight ahead for a moment, then gave a little nod. She could tell he was upset. Sofia was too.
Someone secretly visiting a hospital without telling their family was rarely a good thing. They watched as the double doors closed behind Brendan Maloney.
“Oddball and amusing, owing much to current headlines done with a twist.
Reading about a funny, gutsy heroine is a pleasure…looking forward to the next story.” — Deborah McGraw
“Lots of laugh out loud moments…can envision it on the screen. Loved this one! Can’t wait for the next one!” — The English Major
“If you’re in need of laughter and a quick little get away from the stresses of life, definitely give Malibu Mysteries a try! ” — Sunny AZ