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The Rocky Road to Romance
Daisy Adams was an enterprising twenty-six-year- old graduate student. She'd written a cookbook called Bones for Bowser, and somehow, through sheer tenacity, she'd managed to turn a gimmick into a five-minute slot on WZZZ every Monday morning. She filled her airtime with dog stories and gave detailed directions on how to make homemade dog biscuits, dog soup, and dog stew. She'd become the darling of the morning DJs on the FM stations, who made her the brunt of their jokes, referring to her as the "Dog Lady of Snore," hitting on a tender subject for Steve Crow and his unfortunate luck in call letters.
A few wisps of bangs straggled over her forehead, tortoiseshell combs held her blond hair swept back from her temples, and big, loose curls tumbled in a luxuriant mass down the back of her head and neck to an inch below her shoulders. Her eyes were big and blue, her nose small, her mouth wide. She had a gamine quality to her face that was completely misleading because there wasn't an ounce of gamine in her personality. Her ex-boyfriend had compared her to Attila the Hun, but most people thought she was more like the human version of the Little Engine That Could.
At ten-fifteen Daisy swung into the newsroom. She waved hello to the anchor in the glass booth and gave the Capitol Hill correspondent a bag of experimental snacks for his beagle. She adjusted the strap on her oversized shoulder bag and dropped into a seat beside the editor. "What happened to Frank? I heard him giving the traffic report while I was driving in. He said a rude word and that was the last of him."
"Rear-ended a garbage truck and got buried under half a ton of Dumpster droppings. He's okay except for a broken leg."
Daisy pulled a five-by-seven card from her pocketbook and glanced over a recipe for dog granola. "That's too bad. Who's doing traffic?"
"Nobody's doing traffic. Steve's offered double Frank's salary plus a year's supply of Girl Scout cookies, but nobody'll take it."
Daisy felt her heart jump. Double Frank's salary! "I could do it," she said. "I need the money."
"You need money that bad?"
She bit her lower lip to keep herself under control. This was the chance of a lifetime. She had enormous school expenses, a big rent payment due, a live-in little brother who was eating her out of house and home, and a car that drank a quart of motor oil a week. She was determined to make it on her own. Besides her dog lady job, she worked as a school crossing guard, a cab driver, a waitress on the dinner shift at Roger's Steak House, and delivered newspapers. She'd written Bones for Bowser to give herself additional income, but she wasn't due a royalty check for three more months. If she took the traffic job, she could drop waitressing. Maybe she could even give up the newspaper route. She was doing the dissertation for her doctorate, and she could work on it at night.
She swiveled in her seat and looked across the room at Steve Crow. She'd always been a little frightened of him. With his jet-black hair, dark, piercing eyes, and slightly aquiline nose, he was an intimidating figure. His complexion was dark, his shoulders broad, his hips narrow. The scuttlebut at the station said his father was pure-blood Native American; his mother was Hispanic.
Nervously, Daisy waved at him with just the tips of her fingers. He scowled back and immediately averted his eyes to some pressing piece of business on his desk. She sighed. Stubborn, she thought. She'd nagged him for a month before he gave her the five-minute Bowser spot. She wondered what she'd have to do to get the traffic job.
Nothing ventured nothing gained, she told herself, pushing the hair out of her eyes. She might as well give it a try. "Excuse me," she said, knocking on Crow's open door. "I'd like to talk to you about the job of traffic reporter. I'd like to apply for it ... just until Frank's leg is better. I wouldn't want to steal his job. Even if I was wonderful, which I'm sure I'll be, I still wouldn't expect you to keep me on. Actually, the timing is perfect because I'll get a royalty check in three months and then hopefully I won't need so many jobs."
Steve looked beyond her, to his secretary eavesdropping through the glass window. He watched Charlene mouth the word "perfect" to him, watched her eyes fill with suppressed laughter. He lifted an eyebrow, and she scuttled away.
Perfectly awful, he thought. Putting Daisy Adams in the WZZZ traffic car was like committing broadcasting suicide. The woman was cute, but her specialty was baking dog biscuits, for crying out loud. True, she received more fan mail than everyone else combined, but that was one of those freak things. She was entertaining. Kind of earnest and goofy all at the same time. Unfortunately, he had no other option. He'd gone through six traffic reporters in the past year trying to find a backup. At least she wouldn't be doing rush hour, he told himself. How bad could she be?
Without waiting for his reply, Daisy added, "And don't worry about my Bones for Bowser spot. I can do it on the road!"
He managed a small smile. "Terrific."
Ten minutes later they were in the Shulster Building parking garage.
"Wow!" Daisy said, looking at the station's auxiliary newscar. "It's got enough antennae to get Mars. This is going to be incredible. I think I'm going to like this." She cracked her knuckles, looked up into Steve Crow's face, and felt a shiver run along her spine. She wasn't a shy sort of person, and she wasn't usually uncomfortable with men ... The Rocky Road to Romance. Copyright © by Janet Evanovich. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.