The Honeytrappers 

Cheating spouse? For a price, Butler & Associates will ping 'em and sting 'em.

Page 3 of 7

Andrea views her current work similarly, but keeps it under wraps. She fears some of the people close to her won't understand, and that her PI work could hurt her gig as a freelance consultant for nonprofits. These days she mostly works behind the scenes doing surveillance and helping Butler plan stings and other operations. But tonight she's bait. With her thin five-foot-two frame, curvy hips, classic features, and wavy dark hair, she's the sort of woman the client thinks her husband might go for. The wife suspects he's been sleeping around, but has no evidence of any one, drawn-out affair — a classic player.

Lisa, a thirty-year-old who manages a nonprofit by day, will play Andrea's pal, aka the Control Girl — "We never send in a girl by herself," Butler says. Lisa's role is to ensure Andrea's safety and videotape the infidelity with a hidden purse-cam.

And my role? Third wheel.

"Want to see our guy?" Butler asks, entering the conference room with a manila folder. If the PI resembles an ex-cop, it's the type you might see in some TV drama: short brown hair and groomed goatee, boyish features, muscular body. He's dressed in dark jeans, a black sweater, and black sneakers crisscrossed with Velcro. With eighty-hour workweeks, comfort is key.

He passes Lisa a photocopied snapshot of the target, along with a description of his car. "He's a big guy," Lisa remarks.

"He is," Butler says. "I hope he doesn't go sideways on us."

He shows Lisa a photo of the client. She's pretty, unsmiling, early thirties. She resembles Andrea.

The honeytrapper zips up her spike-heeled boots and extracts two narrow blue bottles from her Kate Spade tote, aromatherapy potions made by an Oakland company. She rubs a dollop of Love Spell lotion onto her shoulders. Butler plunks a Toshiba laptop onto the table and the girls crowd around. He'd installed a GPS on the guy's car a week earlier. Now it's time to locate him.

Butler logs on and a simplistic area map appears, indicating a dozen or so suspected cheaters being tracked. "The black triangle means our guy's stationary," he explains. Butler checks the tracking log — the car has been in the same spot for more than an hour, but he's not certain what's there. "He's close to where we get our business cards printed up," he says. "I'll Google Map it and see what comes up."

"There are a couple places he might be," says Lisa, who lives in the city in question. "There's a pool hall near there."

Butler opens Google Earth, the satellite mapping program, and types in the address. "This is so cool," Lisa says as the image zooms from a bird's-eye view of the planet down to a grainy view of a street lined with large gray buildings. Every few seconds a car slides slowly in and out of the picture. "I never tire of this part — it's amazing," Andrea says.

"Do you recognize any of this?" Butler asks. "The car is here," he points at the screen, then at a squat structure. "Is this the pool hall?"

Lisa squints at the screen. "Yes."

"Okay, I'm going to keep this on so you can just run it in the car, in case he leaves."

The evening's goal is simple: See if the client's husband will ask for Andrea's phone number. That's really what the wife is paying $125 an hour for — although any video footage is helpful.

"Expect the unexpected," Butler reminds his crew. "He could leave ..."

"... with someone else," Andrea finishes. "It's happened before."

Butler nods. "In that case, we'd switch over into surveillance mode. But if it goes as planned, whomever he ends up picking, it's the same plan. If he hits on Andrea —"

"Then I'll say my boyfriend's coming," Lisa says.

"And you'll call me. That way I can get close enough to where we can film them."

Andrea has prerecorded a voicemail greeting at a phone number she'll give out to the target, but if the guy hits on Lisa instead, the girls will duck into the bathroom and change it right away. "Sometimes the guy will call before we leave to confirm it's not a dial-a-prayer," Andrea says.

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