The Cinderella Deal(8)

By: Jennifer Crusie

“But they do know,” Guthrie said. “Dr. Blaise knows. He’s right here.”

Daisy turned to look at the cat kicker. He was as tall and broad and threatening as she’d told Annie, his hair thick and blue-black and his eyes dark and intense. He leaned on the car watching them, and he didn’t look angry, he looked calculating.

Daisy went for it. “Do you mind, Dr. Blaise?” She hit him with her smile in the best tradition of her ancestresses.

He blinked. And then he grinned at her. It wasn’t the usual feeble smirk that men gave her after she’d 

blasted them, it was a wide-awake grin. He had a great mouth for a thug. “I don’t mind at all, Miss Flattery. It’s an honor to have an Alizarin Crimson in the building.”

Daisy felt uneasy, but she wasn’t about to look a gift jerk in the mouth, even if he did kick cats. “Thank you, Dr. Blaise. That’s very sweet of you.” She smiled at him again, and his own smile widened. Strange man.

“I’ll have the rent for you soon,” she promised Guthrie, and he went off, shaking his head. Daisy scooped up the kitten and turned to go, but the cat kicker called her back. “Could I have a word with you, Miss Flattery?”

I knew it, Daisy told herself. It was too good to be true. She took a deep breath and turned back, smiling her brains out, prepared to do whatever she had to do to keep Annie from becoming an orphan again.


He came out from around the car, dressed only in black sweats and incredibly old white sneakers. His broad body was beautifully proportioned, but it didn’t matter. Daisy knew about proportion from art class, but she knew about men from life. Yes, he’s pretty, but forget it, she told herself. He kicks cats. He drives an evil black car. And Julia says he has track lighting. Definitely not somebody she wanted to spend time with.

Still, she did need to be nice to keep her cat. She hit him with her megawatt smile again. He grinned back, immune. Oh, well. “Thank you so much for saving my kitten, Dr. Blaise. If there’s ever anything I can do in return…”

“There is. I have a business proposition for you.” His smile disappeared. “Strictly business.”

Daisy snorted mentally. It would be strictly business. He probably didn’t have the imagination to make a pass.

Which was a relief, because when she turned him down, he’d probably kick her cat. “Business, Dr. Blaise?”

“Linc.” He stepped closer and took her elbow. “Why don’t we go in and talk about it?”

Oh, great. He was an elbow taker. A steerer of women. Daisy removed her elbow from his grasp.

“How about my place? Herbal tea?”

He closed his eyes, said “Wonderful,” and followed her into the house. Linc stopped inside the apartment door. The place looked as though it had been ransacked. There were 

drawers open, papers everywhere, lampshades askew, books on the floor, and a huge black cat sprawled out in the middle of the mess, doing an excellent impression of death. Linc waited for Daisy to scream and call the police, but she just dropped the little calico cat into an overstuffed chair full of yarn and clothes and stepped over the black cat to move toward the kitchen. It must always look like this. How could she stand it?

She pulled her bright blue velvet hat from her head, and her thick hair fell down in tangled little kinks, dark curls with deep glints of red against the bright, bright blue of her loose hip-length sweater. Under the sweater she wore an ankle-length skirt checked in hot rose and electric blue. Linc winced at all the color. Then she opened the refrigerator and got him a bottle of beer, and her approval rating rose. He took it gratefully. “No herbal tea?”

Daisy grinned at him, a nice, cheerful grin with none of the dazzle of her earlier beam. “I thought you’d prefer this.”

“I do. Do you have an opener?”

Daisy took the bottle back and looked around absently for an opener. Not finding one, she hooked the cap on the edge of the counter and smacked it with her hand to pop it. Then she handed the bottle back. Linc checked to see if there were glass chips on the top. Remember, you need her. Be polite . “That was very efficient. Thank you.”