Lizzy Goes Brains Over Braun - Jasinda Wilder


I was cruising through Malibu, on a hands-free call with the owners of a home I’d just finished showing to prospective buyers.

“Tell me you have good news about the showing, Lizzy.” This was Gerry, the owner.

“The best news. They’re offering eight-point-two-five, with a thirty-day close. Furnished.”

A breath of relief. “You are pure magic, Lizzy Stephenson.”

“I don’t know about that, Gerry, I’m just good at my job. It’s why you hired me after all.”

“Is this a formal offer?”

“I’m on the way to the office to write it up as we speak.”

“I’ll be waiting for your email, then.” His relief and happiness at my news were palpable. They were mortgaged to the hilt, and this sale at this price was going to free up a lot of cash flow for them.

“You should have it in half an hour or so.”

We exchanged goodbyes, and I made it to my office. Pulled into my named, personal parking space behind my adorable little Malibu storefront office. Inside, there were six desks, a white leather couch, a coffee and tea station, several large TVs playing a sequence of nature stills. Four of the desks were occupied: Zoe, Autumn, Teddy, and Kat were all at their desks doing what I presumed was somewhere between working and perusing social media. Laurel had back-to-back showings today and was due back in an hour or so.

Zoe and Autumn were sisters, separated by a little less than a year and a half, what some called Irish twins, and often were mistaken for identical twins. They looked up at me in unison.

“Well?” Zoe asked.

“Spill!” Autumn said, immediately afterward.

Teddy was more laconic about her curiosity, leaning back in her chair, content to wait and listen, while Kat feigned disinterest, pretending to be just totally absorbed by her computer screen.

I decided to draw it out. I sauntered in, purse hanging from my elbow, and fixed myself a cup of coffee. I took a ridiculously long time to add sweetener, nearly going grain by grain, and then almond milk drop by drop, and then stirring it with excessive care.

“OHmyGOD!” Kat exploded. “Just tell us already! Did you sell it?”

I held my mug in both hands, keeping my face straight for as long as I could. Which wasn’t long. “EIGHT-POINT-TWO-FIVE, BITCHES!”

There were friendly groans from Kat and Teddy, with whom I had an on-going three-way competition, and squeals of delight from Autumn and Zoe.

“You suck,” Kat muttered. “Just wait till I sell the Frasier place.”

“There’s no way the Frasier house is going for anywhere close to eight-two-five, Kat,” I said, stopping to pat her on top of her head. “Sorry, babe, but if you get even a full eight, I’ll be surprised. Seven-nine-five is my guess.”

She held up her middle finger without looking at me. “Sit on it, Lizzy.” She said it with a smirk, though. “Because guess what—I just listed Calder. It’s at nine-point-three, it’s been up for less than four hours, and I’ve already had a call to schedule a showing.”

I snorted. “Nine-point-three is stupid for that. It’s got a shit view, it’s under six thousand square feet, and it’s got no wow. It’ll sit for six months and you’ll get seven.”

She added another middle finger. “You just hate me. Admit it.”

I mussed her long, glossy black hair as if she were an adorable toddler. Or something. I don’t know kids. “I don’t hate you. I just like to challenge you. That’s why I gave you the Calder house: to test your skills.”

She batted at my hands, shot to her feet, and scurried to the ornate mirror on the wall. “Of course you know, this means war,” she said, fixing her hair strand by strand.

Then, acting as casual as can be, she walked toward me, revenge in her eyes.

“If you touch my hair, Katja Spears,” I said, backing away, “I swear I’ll give you all the worst listings for the rest of the year.”

“Yeah, because you’re more of a priss about your hair than I am,” she said, still angling for me.

I backed myself into a corner, and then picked up the first thing my hand found: a red Swingline stapler. “I’ll staple your face,” I snapped, “and then what will you do?”

I was bluffing, though, and she knew it, because she advanced with a grin, hands up, clawed…lunged, and when I moved to block her, she faked one way and then the other, and then her hands shot through my defenses and pawed roughly at my hair.

“Revenge is a bitch,” she said, satisfied, “and