The Cinderella Deal(10)

By: Jennifer Crusie


Linc jerked back. “A thousand?”

 

“That’s what I need.” Daisy smiled at him, the smile that had probably sunk a thousand ships in her lifetime. “I’m not really going to be Cinderella unless you rescue me completely, you know.”

When she smiled at him like that, it was hard to think. Imagine what that smile could do in Prescott. M

ake a note to have her smile a lot in Prescott, he told himself, and gave in. “All right. A thousand dollars.”

She stuck her hand across the table, and he took it. Her grip was firm and warm. “It’s a deal, then,” she said. “A Cinderella deal.”

“Great,” he said through clenched teeth. Just what he needed, a child bride who still believed in fairy tales. “Are you free tomorrow afternoon about one so we can rehearse this story?”

Daisy nodded. “For a thousand dollars, I can be very free.”

“Good.” He stood up and patted her on the head. “I’ll see you tomorrow, then.”

Daisy was still glaring at the door when he’d closed it behind him. A cat kicker. An elbow grabber. A head patter.

“This may be a Cinderella deal,” Daisy told the cats, “but trust me, he’s no prince.”



When Linc picked Daisy up at one, he’d been having qualms all morning, and the sight of her outfit didn’t help relieve them. She was swathed in a short-waisted bright yellow eyelet dress that hung down to her ankles and hid completely whatever shape she had, and her hair was mashed under that damn blue velvet hat. Where did she get those huge clothes? She wasn’t that little; she had to be five eight at least. She’d look smaller if she stood next to him though. Make a note to tell Daisy not to stand next to Booker, he told himself. She’d look like a Valkyrie next to a gnome. He held the passenger door open for her, and she looked at his car as if it were roadkill.

“What?” he asked her. “What’s wrong now?”

“This car is evil,” she told him in a thrilling voice. “This car needs an exorist.”

He looked at her dumbfounded. “This car is a Porsche. 1 rebuilt it myself. This is a great car.”

“It’s black and long and low and it looks like hell on wheels.” Daisy shook her head. “I can’t believe a college professor would drive something like this.”

This wasn’t a new thought; everybody who saw the car started from the same place, which was that it wasn’t his type of car and how the hell could he afford it. The truth was, Linc had found the car while he’d been working in a scrap yard during grad school and, in a moment of absolute insanity brought on by his disbelief that anyone could have thrown away something that beautiful, bought the frame by promising to work off the debt. And that, of course, had been only the beginning. It had taken five years and more money than he wanted to think about to get the car running again. And now that it was his proudest possession, this woman was sneering at it.

 

“After Friday, you’ll never have to ride in it again,” he told her. “Get in.”

“Yes, but I’ll have to look at it. It’s like living upstairs from Beelzebub.”

“Thank you,” he said, and when she got in the car, he slammed the door. Some women had no appreciation for the finer things in life, and Lord knew it was no surprise she was one of them.

“Where are we going?” she asked when they were on the road. He fished in his jacket pocket and handed her a note that said “Ring. Dress. Lunch.”

“We need a ring,” he told her, used to repeating everything to his classes even though they had a syllabus in front of them. “And a dress. And then we’ll have lunch so we can talk about this.” He looked over at all her yellow and blue fabric and winced. “We’ll get a white dress.”

Daisy scowled. “I like color.”

Linc looked back to the road. “For this weekend, you’re wearing white.” He shot a glance at her for her reaction and caught her scowling harder. “And quit doing that. You could curdle milk with that face.”

She sighed and smoothed out her frown. “I’m beginning to regret this.”