Conflict of Interest

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CHAPTER 52

“Man, she can really kick a night in the balls. I’m exhausted. How does she always stay up this late? And still, get up at five in the morning?” Casey sank low in her chair from weariness and a bit of a wine buzz to go with it.

Amused, Aimeé polished off the last drop from her own glass.

“If you want to be impressed, meet me back here at three with an apron on.”

“Three!” Casey’s eyes filled with disgust. Finally, appreciation fell over her, “Thank goodness my computers can run themselves overnight. I love computers. Computers love me. What more does a girl need?”

“Sex.”

It was stated as fact, but Rachel laughed at Aimeé’s nonchalant reply and followed up to be more precise.

“With a man. Or a woman, I suppose.”

“Really?” Rachel questioned.

“Sure. Not me, but in general.”

“I’m going to remain faithful to Russel,” Casey said in a boozy slur as she sank even lower.

“Russel?” Rachel mused.

“Russel. My computer. He always listens, takes my commands, is always on time, talks to me, doesn’t talk back to me, backs himself up so he never forgets anything…I could go on. He’s truly perfect.”

Aimeé and Rachel watched Casey drift off into a daydream. Silly grins plastered their faces.

“Never will I understand what, or how, you do things in your office in your tiny apartment, or your other office with all of those screens, but I’m sure it’s fascinating.”

Rachel turned to Aimeé, addressing her as if Casey wasn’t there at all, “Our friend is in a relationship with a computer. Incredible.”

“Ha. Ha.”

The exaggerated monotone laugh from Casey caused a bubble of laughter from the girls.

“So I like computers. They are easy. They make sense. I can find out anything I need by hacking wherever I want. And I’m a millionaire many times over because of it.”

The immediacy of the girls’ facial expression changes was impressive to say the least. Both went blank, their jaws nearly hitting the table.

“I knew it,” Aimeé said, the only one to remain calm.

“Don’t get weird,” Casey rolled her eyes.

“Unbelievable.” Once again, Rachel addressing Aimeé alone, this time making light of the situation. “To think, all this time we’ve been paying for her drinks. And I’m poor.”

“That’s how you stay a multi-millionaire.” Casey defended herself.

Rachel reached across the table and grabbed Casey’s hand, “That’s incredible. I am so proud of you for building something so wonderful and taking such good care of yourself.”

“Another round!” Aimeé declared.

“No! Death will follow. But seriously,” Casey leaned forward and gave Rachel’s hand a squeeze before letting it go, “We have to tell Grace about the blind date.”

“Of course,” Aimeé agreed. “When will you do it?”

“Me? Why me?” Casey pouted.

They simply stared.

“Okay, I know. But they matched. They matched big time. Do you know what they scored on my assessment? Ninety-six. Ninety-six! That’s like, Mickey and Minnie status. Or, Romeo and Juliet.”

“They died.” Rachel reminded her flatly.

“You know what I mean.”

“Don’t you find it strange,” Rachel began, “that you don’t believe in relationships, yet you have created the perfect dating site?”

“I had a lot of time watching with a front-row seat of how it doesn’t work. It left little room for error on the other end. Besides, people pay lots of money to find love. It’s just good business.”

“Casey,” Aimeé said, “you said we need to find who the number belongs to. It is Luke, is it not?”

“It was. But it would have shown up on Grace’s phone when she entered the number. You know, when you type it in, if the number’s there it will just pop up? So, it can’t be Luke.”

“We have to find out who it is,” Aimeé went on. “Perhaps I could reach out to that red-head. Travis was his name.”

“No.” Casey would put that fire out before it started.

Rachel smiled suddenly. “We need Maggie. Grace found it at work, right? Maggie knows everything. Can you two get up there and grill her during lunch next week? I don’t think I can get out, what with the children I enlighten all day.”

“I can.”

“Me too.”

Aimeé and Casey nodded to each other, then to Rachel.

“Just to make sure, Luke hasn’t said anything to either of you, right?” Casey inquired.

“No.” Looking visibly disappointed Rachel sighed, “I’ve only met him once, before the Grandma weekend.”

Aimeé shared the frown. “He hasn’t been back here since earlier this week when he picked up a coffee to bring to Grace.”

“Can I go home now?” Casey pleaded, with exaggerated exhaustion.

“You did really good.” Rachel got up and stroked Casey’s cheek before placing a motherly kiss on her forehead.

Casey moved the corners of her lips upward without opening her eyes.

“Thanks. Bye. Love you. Sleep is good.”

With that, they were on their way late into the night.

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