Home > Handsome Flirt (Handsome Devils #8)

Handsome Flirt (Handsome Devils #8)
Author: Lori Wilde

Chapter One



Travis Walker listened to the voicemail and then listened to it again. A woman had called his phone and asked for help with grandma's curses.

Her curses?

He took off his Stetson and glanced around the barn on his brother’s ranch. What was this? Some kind of joke?

He honestly didn’t know when it came to the folks in this town. He’d moved to the small town of Honey, Texas, three months ago and had been working on the ranch, trying to decide if he, too, wanted to move to the country.

Prior to coming to here, he and his brother had been private investigators and security consultants. Definitely not curse busters.

Had he really sunk to the level of helping cursing grandmas? If his brother wasn't away on his honeymoon, Travis would dismiss this as another of Max's jokes.

But the lucky devil was in the Bahamas experiencing the joys of wedded bliss. No, this phone call might be the handiwork of the new helper, Elvin Darwin, aka The Favor. Travis had been dating Elvin's aunt at the time he'd agreed to hire the young man. Heck, he’d known he would need help on the ranch with Max gone, and Elvin seemed like a capable young man. It was a job anyone could do. Heck, an armadillo with a pitchfork could probably do a fairly good job if properly motivated.

Besides, at certain times, a man would agree to just about anything. Elvin was that anything.

Unfortunately, the sexy aunt with amazing legs was long gone, but now Walker Ranch still had Elvin. Travis had to admit the current situation had convinced him not to make decisions with his heart instead of his head.

Well, to be perfectly honest, he hadn't made that decision with his heart. Another part of his anatomy had been the main influencing factor.

Sure, he could fire the kid, but come on. How fair would that be? The kid was likeable. Uncoordinated, unfocused, and a real chatterbox. But likeable. How did you fire someone who was so genuinely cheerful? It would be like pink-slipping Santa Claus.

Even he wasn't that low.

“Elvin,” he hollered, not wanting to scare the horses but needing to find out what was going on. “What does this voicemail mean?”

Elvin popped his head into the doorway of the barn. A sandy-haired, all-American-looking kid, he was currently grinning that same grin he always grinned, regardless of the occasion. “What voicemail, boss?”

“I got a voicemail from a woman named Danielle saying she was stopping by today to ask about hiring me.” Travis frowned at the young man. “She said a young fella had told her I did investigations. Would you be that young fella?”

Elvin bobbed his head and said in his usual rapid-fire manner, “You bet. I was in town, and I ran into a lady looking for you. She’s a real nice lady. She lives in Dallas and has three little dogs that are all rescues and way cute, and she often stops by the library to get books about dogs, and she loves to walk so she can get her steps in. Plus, she—”

Travis held up one hand. “Elvin. Let me stop you there before you get to her Social Security number.”

Elvin blinked. “Why would you want to know that?”

Travis bit back a smile. “I don’t. I just wanted you to stop telling me everything about her. Background checks aren’t as thorough as you are when it comes to the people in this town.”

Elvin seemed more than a little confused. “All she wants is for you to help with her grandma's cursing.”

Travis was starting to feel like he’d dropped into a foreign film and had no subtitles. “What does that mean? Did you ask this woman for more information?”

Elvin kept grinning while he shook his head. “Nope. I took to heart what you and Max said about not offending folks in town and didn't ask a thing.” He glanced around, almost as if he thought someone would overhear him, then said softly, “I don’t know Danielle very well, but I think her grandmother may talk like a sailor. Mine used to. Could curse the sky blue, as my mom always said. Maybe Danielle thinks you can help.”

“I wish you’d found out a little more,” Travis said, mentally thanking fate that at least Max wasn't here to witness this. Max had made it clear that Elvin was Travis’ problem, but, of course, like any brother, he took great joy in pointing out the major flaws in the hire-by-your-hormones approach to running a ranch.

“I'm really not good at finding out information. Besides, what more could I ask without prying?” Elvin blinked and looked sincerely baffled. “You just said not to ask for her Social Security number.”

Blowing out a breath of frustration, Travis realized this was a discussion he couldn’t win. Instead, he said slowly, “Please don’t tell anyone else in town that Max and I used to be private investigators. We aren’t anymore, and I don’t want to have to hurt people’s feelings by turning down cases.”

“You’re going to turn her down?” Elvin’s expression made it clear he thought this was horrifying.

“Yes. I don’t do this anymore.”

“Seems kind of rude. My mother always says you shouldn’t say no to someone when you’re perfectly capable of saying yes.”

Travis opened his mouth to refute the statement, but the sound of a car pulling up in front of the house stopped him. Elvin scurried out of the barn like a puppy lured by the smell of a cheeseburger. Travis rubbed a tired hand across his forehead and then slowly followed.

Elvin had sprinted over and now was standing next to a fairly new blue SUV. When Travis got closer, he realized the young man had a dopey look on his face as he stared at the woman. Yeah, real nice. Ogle the poor woman.

“Elvin, open the door so she can get out,” Travis said. Man, Elvin made him feel older than dirt. Now he was giving out lessons on manners.

Elvin gleefully did as asked, opening the door with a flourish. “Welcome,” he said, waving one hand as if he were leading her to a red carpet. “My lady.”

Oh, for the love of— “Elvin. Thanks. That’s fine.”

A woman slowly climbed out of the car, her expression one of bewilderment. Still manners took hold of her, and she said, “Thank you, Elvin.”

Travis looked at her and drew in a deep, purely male breath. Okay, so maybe Elvin had something of an excuse for how goofy he was acting. The woman was a tall, gorgeous brunette, the kind that came into private detectives' offices in the movies, but absolutely never showed up in real life.

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