She opened a text message window and typed a message to Luke.
All confirmed for tonight. Felicity Sommers will meet you at seven at the Peninsula Society fund-raiser in Atherton. I told her this is a callback for the community-
giving job, and you want to meet her there so the two of you can discuss best practices.
Danica had realized early on she needed a cover story for her search. She couldn’t tell the candidates up front they were being vetted as a possible wife for Luke Dallas—not if she wanted to keep the search out of the press. Therefore she told the women she was looking for a director to run Ruby Hawk’s community outreach and charitable giving. The job was open, so it wasn’t completely a lie.
The rest was up to Luke. Thinking of him walking down the aisle with his recruited-to-order wife caused her heart to do flips, and not the pleasant kind. The kind that ended with every surface bruised and battered.
Her computer dinged.
Consider this confirmation of my meeting with Felicity. Remove Jayne Chung from consideration.
Danica frowned at her screen. Jayne was the first candidate Luke had agreed to meet. On paper, she was perfect: Harvard educated, did a stint in the Peace Corps before receiving her master’s degree in urban planning and development, and currently worked for a nonprofit providing grants to create city gardens where none existed. Oh, and she’d paid for her education by modeling haute couture in New York and Paris during school breaks.
I thought the first meeting went well. What’s wrong? She didn’t start the second meeting by swooning at your feet?
I think kids these days say LOL.
He ignored her attempt at levity.
She’s not right for the position.
If Jayne wasn’t right...
More input, please.
A wave of heat settled deep in her belly at the memory of just how visceral his input could be. Help me help you.
No answer. She sat back in her chair. Usually he texted her back, even if it was just a curt Later.
She sighed and shut down the text window. There was a simple reason why he didn’t respond: he ran a billion-dollar tech company and she was a consultant hired for one task.
Speaking of, if his reaction to Jayne were any indication, she would need the third candidate sooner rather than later. Danica had liked Felicity, Luke’s current date, well enough when they met during the initial vetting period. But something had been a little...off. Felicity had set off a tiny warning light in the back of Danica’s mind.
She shook her head. All that mattered was Luke’s reaction to Felicity. Danica needed to stay focused, finish the assignment and concentrate on helping her brother. The kiss would eventually fade. Eventually. She absorbed herself in answering emails and chasing down promising leads online.
The phone rang, dragging her gaze away from her screen. She looked at the time. 6:45 p.m. Well, that settled it. No more texting with Luke tonight. He should be handing his car keys to the valet at the fund-raiser right about now. A vision of Luke in a tuxedo, the fine black wool jacket tailored to emphasize his broad shoulders, caused her to almost drop the phone before she could answer it. “Hello?”
“Danica! Thank goodness you picked up.”
“Aisha?” Her favorite investigator sounded panicked. And nothing panicked Aisha McKee. “What’s wrong?”
“Felicity Sommers. We have a problem.”
That tiny warning light put out a full red alert. “What kind of a problem?”
Aisha sighed. “I saw something today on her social media that made me ask around. Turns out she’s engaged. Has been for a month. But they haven’t told her parents, so they’re keeping it quiet.”
“What?” Danica’s stomach dropped somewhere near her knees. “That’s bad.”
“It gets worse.” Aisha audibly inhaled. “Her fiancé? Cinco Jackson.”
“Cinco Jackson—wait. I know that name.” Danica opened a browser window to the Silicon Valley Weekly website, clicked on the top story and then shut her eyes, tight. “He’s the journalist responsible for the recent Ruby Hawk stories.”
“Yeah.” Aisha sighed again. “I’m sorry it took me until now to discover the relationship. Turns out her parents are dead set against it because one of his previous stories was an exposé that took down a friend of her father’s, so they keep it very low-key. One of Felicity’s former sorority sisters filled me in.”