Linc liked dignity the way he liked calm and control and quiet. It had taken him a long time to get all of those things into his life and into one apartment. She wore long dresses in electric colors, and since she was tall they were very long, and she was always scowling at him, her heavy brows drawn together under that dumb blue velvet hat she wore pulled down around her ears even in the summer. She looked like somebody from Little House On The Prairie on acid, which was why he usually took care to ignore her.
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Linc liked dignity the way he liked calm and control and quiet. It had taken him a long time to get all of those things into his life and into one apartment. She wore long dresses in electric colors, and since she was tall they were very long, and she was always scowling at him, her heavy brows drawn together under that dumb blue velvet hat she wore pulled down around her ears even in the summer.
She looked like somebody from Little House On The Prairie on acid, which was why he usually took care to ignore her. But now, staring down at the card on her mailbox, appropriately back lit by the apocalyptic storm, he knew there was a possibility he might actually have to get to know her. And it was his own damn fault. The thought gave him a headache, so he shoved his mail in his jacket pocket and went up the stairs to his apartment and his aspirin.
It had been something between a creaking door and a cat in trouble. She looked over at Liz to see if she was showing signs of life, but Liz was, as usual, a black velvet blob, stretched out on the end table Daisy had rescued from a trash heap two streets over, basking in the warmth from the cracked crystal lamp Daisy had found at Goodwill for a dollar.
The three made a lovely picture, light and texture and color, silky cat and smooth wood and warm lamp glow. Unbelievably, fools had thrown away all three; sometimes the blindness of people just amazed Daisy.
You have the gooniest look on your face. Where was I? Oh, yeah. The lamp was another find: blue, green, and yellow Tiffany pieces with a crack in one that had made it just possible for her to buy it.
The crack had been the clincher for Daisy: with the crack, the lamp had a history, a story; it was real. Blunt, paint-stained, no two nails the same length. Julia, as usual, had missed color and pattern completely and was still on words. I should eat so good. This is new. Make some tea to go with these cookies. Tell me a story. She was pretty sure the tea bags were in one of the canisters on the shelf, but the kettle could be anywhere.
She opened the bottom cupboard and started pawing through the pans, books, and paintbrushes that had somehow taken up housekeeping together.
I just may have moved too fast. Never mind. Constant Comment or Earl Gray? Daisy felt her head pound. Like water on a rock; that was what the edge of poverty did to you. Do you hear anything? Daisy poured the hot water over the bags and said, "Pretty," as the tea color spread through the cups. Oh, the jewelry. What about the jewelry? Julia frowned at her. To keep the wolf from the door, I mean. That would get me to the jewelry money and then maybe something else would turn up.
Blow on yours first. I love your paintings. All those details. I need. Liz rolled to her feet and meowed her annoyance, but Daisy ignored her and leaned out into the storm. Two bright eyes stared up at her from under the bush beneath her window.
Whatever it was had vanished, and Daisy got down on her hands and knees in the mud to peer under the bush. A kitten peered back, soaked and mangy and not at all happy to see her. Daisy reached for it and got clawed for her pains. You rescued a rat. Another mouth to feed," Julia said, and the kitten screeched at her, too. She took down the can and called back to Julia. I just came over to bring you the cookies, and then I got distracted.
Liz was so enthusiastic about the tuna, she sat up. Daisy put the yellow saucer in front of the kitten and stopped to admire the violets on her plate next to the complementary color of the Fiesta ware.
Color and contrast, she thought. I want to loan you a thousand dollars. Julia stood beside the table in the light from the stained glass lamp looking fragile and cautious and sympathetic, and Daisy loved her for the offer as much as she was angry that the offer had been made. I can make it. You know how I feel about the Lizzie Borden painting. Let me—" "Julia, you already own three of my paintings. And I—" "No. I can cut this in half. Eat the tuna, and you can stay.
The kitten licked the tuna and then took it carefully in its mouth. Little Orphan Annie. Daisy pushed her the unruly fuzz of her hair back behind her ears as she watched the kitten, and then she began to eat her pita.
And from the guy upstairs, too. Big dark-haired guy in a suit. No sense of humor. Flares his nostrils a lot. He kicked Liz once. He looks like he has cats like you for breakfast. Now the next chapter would be her paintings finally selling, and maybe her story-telling career suddenly taking off, too.
And a prince would be good. Somebody big and warm to keep her company. It had been seven months since Derek had moved out—taking her stereo, the creep—and she was about ready to trust somebody with a Y chromosome again. Look at her mother. The thought of her mother depressed her, but Annie abandoned the empty plate and began to lick the dampness from her fur, and the scratchy sound brought Daisy back to earth.
Forget the prince. Nobody was ever there when you needed someone. Remember that. Now think of something to get yourself out of this. Annie curled up and went to sleep. Liz licked up the last of the tuna and fell unconscious with pleasure.
Daisy sat silently for a long time, staring at the patterns in her stained glass lamp. Upstairs, Linc stretched out on his chrome and black leather couch, bathed in the cool light from his white enameled track lighting, his headache receding but his troubles intact. Linc winced. Linc closed his eyes. None of that mattered. The memory of his interview came back in painful detail. Crawford, dean of humanities, and Dr. Booker, head of the history department, had interviewed him.
Crawford looked like a retired Southern cop: big, beery, genial, with a overall air of stupidity. He wore a bow tie in what Linc thought of as a feeble attempt at an academic look. Booker needed no such camouflage. He looked as if the moisture had slowly seeped out of him over the years, leaving only a dried-up little shell behind horn-rimmed glasses. And things had gone well at first. And now the only question was, would they think he was good enough?
The question that Dr. Crawford, his fat lips pursing, had asked was, "Are you married, Dr. Old-fashioned values. Booker had sniffed.
The Cinderella Deal
I picked it up because i just wanted a nice, fast read to just "cleanse" my mind for the next "earth shattering" story that happened to come my way! So yes, i just wanted something fluffy to read! Something that would just leave me with a stupid smile on my face, and that i would mostly forgot in the following week But, no, apparently it was written in the end of the twentieth century, em !! The main characters are card board stereotypes, worst that most of the harlequin characters books that i read about two decades ago!!
The Cinderella Deal: Chapter One