Page 16 of Tripping on a Halo

“Yep.” I stared at my phone. “It’s right here. You have a friend invite from Declan Moss.” He has a cute Facebook photo. It’s him in a suit, standing in front of the Reinhart Theatre, which he designed. He’s all serious in the photo, as if he’s far too busy counting corbels to smile.

Every other part of his profile is private, only available to friends. It’s a good safety measure, one easily thwarted by me three months ago, when my fake profile of Olivia Sanchez was accepted by Nate, his business partner. It didn’t take much to break into Nate’s good graces—Olivia’s big boobs and Seminole jersey got her right in, her friend request accepted within four minutes. Olivia then sent friend requests to Nate’s sister and four of his female friends, all whom accepted and who—combined with 72 other complete strangers interested in Olivia’s big boobs—gave her enough validity to seem like an acceptance possibility for Declan. I sent Olivia’s friend request off with a prayer and celebrated with mimosas and a pedicure when it was accepted.

It had been a gigantic waste of effort. Declan’s Facebook page was the most boring place on the internet. He posted about his opinions on sports and architecture—nothing that could help me save his life. No posts about allergies, or health conditions, or plans to try skydiving or eat fugu which, by the way, is twelve hundred times more deadly than cyanide if it isn’t cooked exactly right.

And now, that super boring page is asking me—Autumn Jones—someone with absolutely zero friends in common and a no-cleavage photo—to be his friend.

“This is bad, right?” Ansley asked. “I mean, how does he know who you are?”

An excellent question. How had he found me? And why, once he did, would he ask me to be his friend?

I stared at the request for several minutes, weighing over my options. And then, before I had the chance to second-guess myself, I declined the request and then hit the next button that appeared.

BLOCK THIS PERSON

I let out a hard breath, the screen changing, Declan Moss’s adorable scowl replaced by a picture of a poodle with lipstick on.

Ansley was right. This was bad.

11

“It’s really not that big of a deal.” Nate munched on a cinnamon-dipped breadstick, one he’d sweet-talked the cashier into on their way out.

Declan ignored Nate, his irritation at a nuclear level. It took a lot to piss him off. When they’d lost the Huntington Park deal due to Nate screwing Mrs. Huntington, he’d gotten over it. When Nate dropped their master set of property keys somewhere on Bourbon Street, he’d shrugged it off. When Nate picked a fight with two steroid-enhanced bikers, he’d joined in with a curse and a scowl. But now? Nate had opened a door with this nut job, a door that could jeopardize their business and Declan’s safety. Hell, maybe even their friendship.

“Bridget says you can undo it. She said it takes two minutes.”

That possibility was the only thing keeping him from yanking Nate out of the Jeep and swinging a punch. Nate turned into Bridget’s complex and Declan reached for the door handle, grateful to see Bridget’s bright yellow convertible parked in front of her townhouse.

Her front door was unlocked, music playing, and they walked through the house to find her on the back porch, sunglasses on, toes tapping to the beat, a paperback in hand. She looked up with a smile. “Hey, guys.”

Declan shoved his phone forward without preamble. “Here. Fix it.”

“Oh…kay.” She swung her feet off the railing and stood, ignoring Declan’s phone and grabbing her frosted glass. “Let’s go inside and do it.”

“Nate said you can fix it.” Declan followed her closely, irritated when she went to the fridge and opened the door, pulling out a two-liter of soda and unscrewing the lid.

“Yep. I’ve done it before. Sent a friend request to that bitch next door. I had chatted with her down by the mailboxes, and she seemed pretty cool, you know. But then…” she lowered her voice as if she was about to share secrets of national security.

“I really don’t care,” Declan interrupted. “I need this fixed. Immediately. It is, literally, more important than your soda refill.”

She blew out an irritated breath and set down the bottle. “Fine. I was going to tell a story involving three dicks and a blow-up doll, but whatever.”

“Wait, what?” Nate stood up from the couch. “Is this the brunette? The one with the great ass?”

Bridget ignored him, flipping through screens on Declan’s phone. “What’s this girl’s name?”

“Autumn Jones.”

“Shit.” She mumbled. “I don’t see her in your friend requests list. How long ago did you invite her?”

Declan turned his head, glaring at Nate.

“Ummm… like two in the morning? Maybe three?” Nate shrugged. “Something like that.”

Declan closed his eyes, calculating the time that had passed. Almost twelve hours.

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