I’d thought I would be flattered she was checking in on me so much. Now that it was reality, it was just plain annoying. I knew what I was doing and didn’t have to be handheld the entire way—with a Ten as a Target or not.
I didn’t have a chance to issue my usual not-so-usual greeting.
“You’re leaving Seattle.”
I cinched the tie of my robe. “When?”
“The first plane out you can catch. Let’s see . . . you’re at the Four Seasons, thirty minutes give or take traffic from the airport. Shall I book you for the ten or ten-thirty?”
“G, I just flew back today, and you want me out again tonight? You know I’m willing to do whatever it takes, but can’t it wait twenty-four hours until I close the Hendrik Errand? What’s the rush anyways?” I flopped into the chair outside the bathroom and eyed my suitcase. At least I hadn’t unpacked yet.
“I don’t care about the Hendrik Errand. We’re dropping it. Right now, I need you giving one hundred percent to the Callahan Errand.”
I’d officially heard it all. “Could you repeat that because I swear I just heard you say we’re dropping an Errand. Since we’ve never dropped an Errand, since I’ve never even considered dropping an Errand, I know I must have heard you wrong.”
Eves didn’t drop Errands. Hell, we rarely failed an Errand, let alone burned the file and ran, and damn if I was going to be the first to do so.
“You heard me right, Eve. Dispose of the file, check out, and get your ass on a plane.”
“Mr. Callahan just left to fly halfway around the world. He’s probably just landed, and for some reason, you think he’s going to hold a two-minute meeting in the airport then fly back in time for lunch tomorrow?” I wasn’t upset about the Callahan Errand taking up so much energy; I was upset G had just ordered me to hightail it away from another Errand. In my book, that was unacceptable.
We remained in business because of our reputation, and if word got around that we were ditching out on Errands, the Eves would go from dining on filet one week to ramen the next. I’d dined on enough ramen in my lifetime to put an entire college to shame.
“Mr. Callahan is still expected to be out of the country until the day after tomorrow. Right now, my concerns aren’t about him directly.”
“Would you care to share your concerns with the Eve you’ve assigned to the Errand?”
G stayed silent long enough for me to know I was deep into faux pas territory. As rule, her Eves did what she said, no questions asked. She said march, and we didn’t stop until she said so. She said wag your tail, and we faked it until we made it. The only reasons I could get away with testing that rule were because I was one of her favorites and I was assigned to the biggest Errand to ever fall into her lap.
“No, I wouldn’t care to share my concerns with you at all,” she started. I could feel her glare through the phone. “But since I know you’re going to make this hard on me until I tell you, I’ll get it out of the way.”
I would have thanked her if I wasn’t positive it would have only pissed her off more.
“I’ve heard through what you might call the grapevine that Mrs. Callahan is shopping other I Clause agencies. She doesn’t care who or how someone lures her husband into bed, just as long as it’s soon.”
“Whoa, G, hold your I Clause horses.” I got up to pour myself a glass of wine. From the sounds of it, alcohol was a good idea. “Did you just say other agencies? As in agencies like the Eves?”
Two long seconds of silence, and then, “Precisely like, other than the name.”
Good thing the wine glass was big, because I just kept pouring. “How long have you known about these other agencies?”
“Sweetpea, what do you think gave me the brilliant idea to get into this line of business? I didn’t wake up with this brilliant plan to bring the philandering husbands of the United States to their financial knees.”
I don’t know what it was, or that it was intelligible, but something must have come out of my mouth because G kept going.
“I’m a business woman, Eve. Not an inventor. I took something I knew was already on the market and made it better. Plain and simple. Did you really think we were the only ones out there doing something like this? You and I both know there are enough cheating bastards out there with wedding bands on their fingers that ten thousand women could be working simultaneous Errands, and we’d still be understaffed.”
I suddenly felt rather stupid. Like a naive little girl. I’d always assumed that we Eves were the only ones because . . . well . . . because we were the only ones. Who else would be up to the task of dealing with the world’s filth?
Apparently, according to G, there were plenty of us willing to deal with the filth. Even I wasn’t naive enough to believe that was all due to the ultimate payout and not to the actual job details. “I guess I never even considered it . . .”
“That’s fine. Your job isn’t to consider it; that’s mine. Your job is to do what you’ve been trained to do, what you know you need to do, and what I tell you to do.” G exhaled slowly. “How about a little more doing and a little less considering?”
“So what exactly would you like me to do if another Eve”—I had no idea what to call the girls who worked for those other agencies—“has been assigned to Mr. Callahan? Stick my tongue out at her? Pull out her recent weave? Compare breast size?” I cut it short only because I knew I was past pressing it with G. Long past.
“No, I want you to show her what she’s up against. I want you to prove that you are so far superior to whatever shadow of a woman she is and make her doubt herself so badly, she either flies back to her employer and hands in her resignation or decides to jump out the window of her top floor suite.”
Well, I’d asked for it. “Anything else?”
“Yeah. I want you to put a bullet in her brain if she refuses to be intimated by your superiority. If she doesn’t want to play nice, then neither do we.”
Okay. After working for G for over five years, I knew she was a bitch. I just didn’t know she was a . . . bitch. “So when I’m not seducing men, you want me whacking the competition? Come on, G, get real.”
“I think you’re the one who needs to take that advice.”
Think, Eve, think. You’re smart. Maybe not conniving like G, but smart nonetheless. You can put together a logical argument that will appeal to her bottom-line ideologies.
“I need to finish the Hendrik Errand, G. Not for me, but for you,” I added when I heard her ready to break into her rebuttal.
“For me? And why is finishing some run-of-the-mill Seven all about me and not you? Because when we look at what you make compared to what I make in a year—and believe me, Eve, I look every day—you’ve got a lot more to lose proportionately dropping this than I do.”
I didn’t need the reminder than I made close to seven figures a year, and G cashed in what I guessed was closer to eight figures. “I’m doing this for you, G. You don’t have to believe me, but you and I both know that if word gets around that your Eves are ditching out on Errands, your competitors will gain a larger portion of the market share.” Thank you, Econ 101, for making me sound moderately intelligent. “Plus, I texted the final S to Mrs. Hendrik right before you called. I’m afraid we’re past the so-called point of no return.”
White lies. They weren’t only a part of real life; they were majorly a part of our business. Had I texted Mrs. Hendrik the final S, along with the time and address of her husband’s upcoming demise? No, I had not. Did G need to believe I had so I could save her, my, and her entire business’s reputation? Yes, she did.
“And you neglected to text me the same because . . .?”
“Because you called about one hot second before I hit send.”
“Eve, I don’t like this. I don’t want our biggest Target ever to slip through our fingers because we were so worried about cutting a Seven loose.” G’s voice sounded just as harsh, but I could tell I was wearing her down. She was close to caving.
“Well, I don’t like it either, but it’s too late, G. The Client has been sent the final message that I’m closing the Errand tomorrow night. For all I know, she could have already arranged it all with her Contact. I can’t just give her a ring and say, oops, not so fast, I’m off the case. Oh, and by the way, good luck with your cheating ass husband.”
G almost groaned. “Dammit, Eve. Why does your timing have to be so terrible?”
“Bad luck, I guess. But good thing for you I’m one of the best at what I do. You don’t have to worry about anything going wrong with either the Hendrik or Callahan Errands. I’ve got them both.”
G was silent.
When G finally did reply, her answer kind of creeped me out. Maybe it was her tone, or maybe it was her words, or maybe it was just because I knew G wasn’t the kind of person I wanted to get on the bad side of. “I hope that’s a promise you intend on keeping.”
BASED ON JUST the hours I was actually in Seattle, that Errand was probably a record. Not that it was closed yet, but I didn’t doubt it would be closed in the next hour. Although it had been expedited, it had been a cut-and-dry Errand. Actually, it had been almost too easy, but when it came to the likes of Ian Hendrik, I’d take “too easy” because that meant spending as little time with him as possible.
It was safe to say I hated the guy. Sure, I didn’t know all of his backstory, insecurities, or the things that make a person the way they are, but one of the luxuries of my job was that I didn’t have to. I didn’t want, need, or have to know if his mommy had ignored him or if his daddy had packed his bags one night and never seen him again. Backstory wasn’t my job unless it directly related to me closing the Errand. Backstory, more times than not, created sympathy, and that was an emotion I didn’t want anywhere around one of my Targets. That was part of the reason I’d stopped Henry from explaining what had happened that night. I didn’t want to have any smidgeon of sympathy for him. The other part of the reason was exactly what I’d admitted to him: It didn’t change a damn thing. The whys of what had happened couldn’t go back and change history. Backstory was a no-no. Backstory didn’t get an Errand closed in record time.
I sped into Sound Speedway just before eight, and I already knew Ian was waiting for me. The anticipation of banging a girl made a guy eager . . . overzealous even. Ian tipped more that overzealous scale. Then, of course, there was that sixth sense I had when it came to his type. They basically emitted a run-in-the-other-direction frequency; they were that vile. But I was an Eve, and that meant I didn’t run in the other direction. That meant I didn’t even flinch when I was neck deep in vile.
Which was exactly where I was about to go.
Ian was waiting for me at the start line, as expected. Leaning against the driver’s door of a different car than he’d driven last night, his arms were crossed and his expression smug. One of the worst parts of my job, other than having to sleep with those types of guys, was witnessing their expressions ranging from smug to all-out gloat on Sheet night.