Home > Mr. Perfect(13)

Mr. Perfect(13)
Author: Linda Howard

"Oh, come off it," Dominica said, still grinning. "Like men haven't gone for big boobs since their knuckles still dragged the ground. It's nice to see a little payback." Oh, great. A battle between the sexes. Jaine could just imagine the conversations going on around the building. She forced a smile as she handed back the newsletter. "I guess we're going to hear about this for a while."

"Are you kidding?" Dominica asked, grinning. "I'm going to frame my copy and hang it where my husband sees it first thing in the morning when he wakes up and last thing at night when he goes to bed!"

As soon as Jaine got back to her office, she dialed Marci's extension. "Guess what I just saw in the newsletter," she growled, keeping her voice low.

"Oh, damn." Marci groaned aloud. "How bad is it? I haven't seen a copy yet."

"From what I read, it's pretty much verbatim. Damn it, Marci, how could you?"

"That's a quarter," Marci said automatically. "And it was an accident. I don't want to say too much here in the office, but if you can meet me for lunch, I'll tell you what happened."

"Okay. Railroad Pizza at twelve. I'll call T.J. and Luna; they'll probably want to be there, too."

"This sounds like a lynch party," Marci said mournfully. "Could be," Jaine said, and hung up.

Railroad Pizza was about half a mile from Hammerstead, which made it a popular place with the employees. They did a booming take-out business, but they also had half a dozen booths and about that many tables. Jaine got the back booth, where they would have the most privacy. Within minutes, the other three arrived and slid into the booth, T.J. next to Jaine, Marci and Luna across from them.

"God, I'm sorry," Marci said. She looked miserable. "I can't believe you showed the list to someone!" T.J. was horrified. "If Galan ever finds out – "

"I don't see why you're so upset," Luna said, puzzled. "I mean, yeah, it'd be a little embarrassing if people found out we're the ones who made the list, but it's really kind of funny."

"Would you still think it's funny six months from now when guys are still coming up to you offering to show you that they measure up?" Jaine asked.

"Galan wouldn't think it's funny at all," T.J. said, shaking her head. "He'd kill me."

"Yeah," Marci said glumly. "Brick isn't what you'd call sensitive, but he'd get pissed that I said I wanted ten inches." She gave a weak smile. "Guess you can say he'd come up short."

"How did it happen?" T.J. asked, burying her face in her hands.

"I went shopping Saturday, and I ran into Dawna what's- her-name, you know, that Elvira look-alike on the first floor," Marci said. "We got to talking, went for a late lunch, had a couple of beers. I showed her the list, we had a good laugh, and she asked for a copy. I didn't see why not. After a few beers, I don't see why not about a lot of things. She asked a few questions, and somehow I wound up writing down everything we'd said."

Marci had an almost photographic memory. Unfortunately, a few beers didn't seem to affect her memory, just her judgment.

"At least you didn't give her our names," T.J. said. "She knows who we are," Jaine pointed out. "Marci had the list, so any idiot can figure out she's one of the four friends. Take it from there."

T.J. covered her face with her hands again. "I'm dead. Or divorced."

"I don't think anything will come of it," Luna said soothingly. "If Dawna was going to spill the beans on us, she would already have told her pals on the first floor. We're safe. Galan will never know."


Jaine was on edge the rest of the day, waiting for the other shoe to drop. She couldn't imagine how nervous T.J. must have felt, because if this ever got out and Galan found out about it, he'd deal T.J. misery for the rest of her life. When it came down to the bottom line, T.J. was the one who had the most to lose. Marci was in a relationship, but at least she wasn't married to Brick. The thing Luna had going with Shamal King was on-again, off-again at best, without commitment.

Of the four, Jaine was the one who would have the least difficulty if their identities became known. She wasn't in a relationship, having given up on men, and she answered to no one but herself. She'd have to endure the teasing, but that was all.

Once she analyzed the situation and came to that conclusion, she stopped worrying so much. So what if some office clown tried to show off his wit? She could hold her own with any bozo.

Her improved mood lasted until she got home and found that BooBoo, in an attempt to impress on her how upset he was at having to stay in a strange house, had completely shredded one of the cushions on her sofa. Tufts of stuffing were scattered all over the living room. She closed her eyes and counted to ten, then to twenty. There was no point in getting angry at the cat; he probably wouldn't understand, and wouldn't care even if he did. He was as much a victim of circumstance as she was. He hissed at her when she reached for him. She usually left him alone when he did that, but in a moment of pity she scooped him up anyway and burrowed her fingers into his fur, kneading the limber muscles of his back. "Poor kitty" she crooned. "You don't know what's going on, do you?" BooBoo snarled at her, then ruined the effect by lapsing into a rumbling purr.

"Just hold on for four weeks and five days. That's thirty- three days. You can put up with me that long, can't you?" He didn't look as if he agreed, but didn't care as long as she continued kneading his back. She carried him into the kitchen and gave him a treat, then put him on the floor with a fuzzy toy mouse to battle.

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