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Jacob Elliott flipped his left-turn signal on and patiently waited for Mrs. Moyer to pull out of her parking space. He knew it was Mrs. Moyer because her dog, Harold, was frantically clawing at the back window of her station wagon. Jacob Elliott was not especially good at remembering people, but he never forgot a dog. He was debating the merits of this peculiarity when a gleaming, cherry-red sports car zipped around the corner and beat him out of Mrs. Moyer's spot.
The red car door instantly flew open. Two shapely legs extended themselves from the driver's side, and a delicate blonde emerged. She threw her hands into the air in a gesture of furious exasperation and gave the door a thunderous slam, catching the hem of her swirly pink skirt in the jaws of the powerful machine. She glared at the skirt contemptuously, gave a yank, and tore herself loose...leaving half a yard of pink material held hostage by the car. Without even so much as a backward glance she flounced off to the supermarket, fists clenched, eyes narrowed, nose defiantly tipped upward.
Jacob Elliott sat wide-eyed and slack jawed in disbelief as the glossy blond curls disappeared behind the automatic glass doors. He felt a smile creep into the corners of his mouth and a disturbing rush of heat burn across his belly. He was in love.
Life, Amy Klasse fumed, was not fair. You do all the right things, and bam! You get kicked in the teeth. It made her furious, especially since innocent children were going to be among the hapless victims.
Wrenching a wire cart out of the cart stack, she viciously pushed it toward the vegetables. She glared at her shreddedskirt. Of all the lousy luck; now, on top of everything else, she'd ruined her favorite outfit. Darn that car. And it wasn't as if she could afford to buy another pink skirt: She was unemployed. She'd been unemployed for twenty minutes. She looked at her watch. No, make that thirty-five minutes. All because of a chicken. A chicken, for crying out loud! She muttered a well-chosen expletive and indiscriminately grabbed a grapefruit from a huge display. "A chicken!" she exclaimed, thunking her fist against her forehead.
Jake watched in absolute astonishment as his newfound love flung a grapefruit into her cart and took off in a blind rage. The remaining grapefruits hesitated for a moment in precarious limbo, and then hurled themselves onto the floor like so many lemmings making the final, fatal, migration. Jake stopped a grapefruit with the side of his foot and flipped it into the air, like a soccer ball. He scooped up several more and carefully lined them up in their bin.
From the corner of his eye he caught the infuriated blonde heading for the fresh eggs. "Oh, no," he said, groaning, "not the eggs."
In silent horror, he watched as she chose a carton and in some magical way managed to grasp only the top lid, spilling the entire dozen eggs into the immaculate glass case. The eggs instantly exploded on their companions, oozing across gleaming shelves, sliming into pristine crevices.
The blonde stared at the eggs as if they were aliens. She shook her head and muttered something indiscernible while Jake doubled over his own cart in an attempt to abort the laughter that was rising in his throat.
In his entire life he'd never come across a female who was that outraged, that clumsy, and that sexy. She wasn't sexy by centerfold standards, but there was definitely something about her that increased his heart rate. He liked the way her short blond curls bounced when she walked. He liked her peaches-and-cream coloring and her wide cornflower blue eyes, and the way she carried her slight frame. And most of all, Jake was intrigued by the intensity of her fury, the way she could muster her pride and walk away from disaster. She was not a woman whose life would be ruined by a broken fingernail.
A stockboy appeared with a mop and sponge. "Don't worry about it," he told Amy. "Happens all the time."
Amy nodded numbly. Lord, what a mess. Those eggs were like her life...scrambled. She decided she didn't want eggs anyway. Eggs reminded her of chickens; and you know what chickens do...they steal people's jobs!
She proceeded down the aisles at a much more cautious pace, selecting fixings for a spaghetti dinner. She intended to go home, brew up some of her fantastic spaghetti sauce, and eat until she burst. Then she would sit in front of the TV and make the most of feeling sorry for herself. She hefted a bag of cat litter into her cart and continued on.
Jake saw the tear in the bottom of the litter bag. He could have told her. He could have introduced himself and explained that she was leaving a trail of cat litter that wound its way through the bulk-food section and staunchly marched through sanitary products, but he didn't. It was much more fun to observe her at a distance and follow the granules.
Besides, he knew when he would make his move. Calamity Jane didn't have a purse, and there were no pockets that he could see in her bedraggled skirt. His guess was that she'd gone off in such a huff that she'd left her money behind. He pursued her at a leisurely pace, selecting a bottle of burgundy to accompany her spaghetti dinner and adding a frozen pie for dessert.
He lined up behind his quarry at the checkout, feeling an unsettling surge of affection for her while his anxiety ran amok. What if his plan didn't work? What if she was married? She didn't have a ring on her finger, but that was no guarantee. Maybe she lost her ring this morning when she was bathing the baby.Foul Play
. Copyright © by Janet Evanovich. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.