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The Hook-Up Scam

by Jeff Soloway

About the Author: Jeff Soloway is a past winner of the Robert L. Fish Award from the Mystery Writers of America. His stories have appeared in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, and a number of anthologies. He is the author of the Travel Writer mystery series from Penguin Random/Alibi, the most recent installment of which is The Ex-President.


She could be anyone—a ballet dancer, a short-order cook, a car thief. Or all of the above. He imagined her, afterwards, pirouetting to the kitchen, whipping up a vegetarian omelet with whatever she found in the fridge, and later, while he was distracted by the meal’s deliciousness, snatching up his car keys and making a run for it. Patrick knew only 1) what she looked like, 2) how she liked to pose in pictures, and 3) which number she preferred to give as her age. They had exchanged a total of four direct messages, in the third of which she had described herself as “down to.” Patrick hoped he was guessing correctly what that meant.

In the last 15 years, Patrick had had sex with exactly one person, the one he married. But that life was over. It was time to move on and escape his comfort zone. Why anyone would abandon a perfectly good comfort zone was initially beyond his comprehension, but as soon as he fired up the app, he began to understand its appeal. Every one of the app’s users was eager to meet another stranger. Many of them were beautiful. All of them were smiling (in at least one of their profile photos). To expose his most intimate parts and predilections to a stranger was just about the most terrifying thing Patrick could imagine, but to earn that level of trust from someone new was potentially glorious, perhaps more so than anything he’d done in, well, 15 years. He was nervous, hopeful, and ready.

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