Chapter 1

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A man walked into the bar.

He wore a suit and tie, and he was dripping wet.

He looked like the type who didn't dishevel himself all that often-one of those New York City business types whose polish always made Allie feel aware of her general rumpledness. But this man had lost his polish. She could only see a bit of its faded shine in the way he carried his body, and in the dissatisfied creases at the corners of his mouth.

Frowny mouth aside, he wasn't a bad-looking man. He was tall, with expensive-seeming close-cropped hair of an indeterminate color. Easy to look at. The kind of man who could be flirted with and bring roses to your cheeks. It had been a while for Allie, but she could still spot second-date material. He was doing that sort of middle-distance halfway squint people adopted when they entered a basement bar and wanted to take a look around without actually meeting anyone's eyes.

The problem was, Allie wanted him to meet her eyes.

The problem was, additionally, that Mr. Second-Date Material wasn't here to be her first date. Possibly he was looking for his real first date somewhere in the bar. It didn't matter. Whoever Ms. First Date was, Allie needed this guy to look at her more than Ms. First Date did.

"Psst!" She rose a bit from her chair in the corner. "Hey!"

He continued his slow survey of the room, taking in the crowded bar, the bartender, the tables along one side. No doubt appreciating the Packers-themed decorations, the televisions tuned to ESPN-2, the signed black-and-white headshots arranged between mirrors behind the tables.

Pulvermacher's was a cool bar, she'd give him that. But if the dude skimmed his eyes right past her one more time she was going to brain him with a beer stein.

She rose all the way to standing and tried to beckon him without seeming like she was beckoning. "Hey! Wet guy! Over here!"

It was a tricky thing, whisper-shouting. Not a move she'd ever had any reason to master. At the bars back home in Wisconsin, she just shouted.

Tonight, though, she had two excellent reasons not to attract attention-both of them seated at the far end of the bar. Or they had been, and presumably still would be once she managed to maneuver this guy out of the way.

She didn't want to think what would happen if she lost them.

Don't think. That was her motto on this particular adventure.

But the wet businessman had materialized in the precise exact wrong spot for her not-thinking plan to keep working for her, and now he'd taken his phone out. He was going to stand there all night. He would never move, and she would die.

A woman laughed. The laugh made it necessary for Allie to see what was going on at the bar.

She didn't want to. She needed to.

"Hey, guy with the phone?" Allie pitched her voice a little louder this time-a calculated risk.

He looked up, squinting.

"Yes! You. I'm talking to you."

He swiveled, and she gave him a frantic, low wave.

"Hi. Could you come over here for a sec?"

He did. Just like that.

Sadly, it turned out he was, if anything, more impossible to see through close up than he had been from eight feet away.

"May I help you with something?"

He had an accent-British or Australian, maybe-which made his offer sound extra surreal. Like it was coming from a villain, or maybe a spy. A real spy, instead of a fake spy like her, with her rain-frizzed hair and extra-long midwestern vowels, hiding in the corner of a New York City bar that was trying to be real Wisconsin even though men walking into it with British accents and suits definitely meant this was fake Wisconsin.

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