Foul Play - By Janet Evanovich
In a previous life, before the time of Plum, I wrote twelve short romance novels. Red-hot screwball comedies, each and every one of them. Nine of these stories were originally published by the Loveswept line btween the years 1988 and 1992. Sandwiched between these books were three originally published under the Second Chance at Love banner. All twelve went out-of-print immediately and could be found only at used bookstores and yard sales.
I'm excited to tell you that those stories are now being re-released by HarperCollins. Foul Play is the ninth in the lineup, and it's presented here in close to the original form. I've done some editing to corrrect some embarrassing bloopers missed the first time around.
When I was writing romance and my kids were little, we had a beloved beagle named Kathy, aka Beans. She was the world's sweetest dog but she ate everything ... lint off the carpet, underwear, loose change, houseplants, whole hams stolen off the table. You get the picture. And it wasn't as if we were negligent pet owners. This dog was a genius at finding trouble. Fortunately, we had a fabulous vet who extracted socks from her intestines, agonized over strange, mysterious objects in her stomach via X-ray, and patched her liver together after she got into chemical run-off from my neighbor's lawn service. This book was inspired by and dedicated to him.
The story itself is pure fiction and tells a tale of love at first sight and a woman's struggle to overcome losing her job to a chicken.
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 shredded skirt. 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