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Текст книги "You've Got Male"


  • Текст добавлен: 21 марта 2019, 20:18


Автор книги: Elizabeth Bevarly


Жанр: Современные любовные романы, Любовные романы


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The unthinkable was happening!

Andrew—the smart, witty, creative, articulate man with whom Avery had fallen passionately in love—was cheating on her.

A month ago she’d known their first encounter must have been destiny. Fate. Kismet. It was simply Meant To Be. What difference did it make if they’d never actually met in person? Who cared if they’d never actually spoken to each other? Their cyber relationship was a meeting of minds, a melding of souls, a blending of hearts.

Until now.

Now he was typing nauseating pop-culture-infested lines to some cheap bit of cyberfluff with the screen name Tinky Bell. A brainless ninny who said things like “ur 2 kewl.”

The hideous massacre of the English language aside, Avery couldn’t believer her Andrew was talking about TV shows! He didn’t even watch TV!

But the clincher was Andrew using with Tinky Bell the same words that won Avery’s heart.

Well, she’d fix Andrew. Not only would she dump him, but she’d give him something to remember her by. Oh, yes. She’d create just the right farewell gift…one he and his precious computer system would never forget.

You’ve Got Male
Elizabeth Bevarly

www.millsandboon.co.uk

For Mom, with love.

Because it’s been too long since I dedicated a book to you.

Thanks for so many things. You’re the best.

CONTENTS

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

CHAPTER ONE

CHAPTER TWO

CHAPTER THREE

CHAPTER FOUR

CHAPTER FIVE

CHAPTER SIX

CHAPTER SEVEN

CHAPTER EIGHT

CHAPTER NINE

CHAPTER TEN

CHAPTER ELEVEN

CHAPTER TWELVE

CHAPTER THIRTEEN

CHAPTER FOURTEEN

CHAPTER FIFTEEN

CHAPTER SIXTEEN

CHAPTER SEVENTEEN

CHAPTER EIGHTEEN

CHAPTER NINETEEN

Acknowledgments

I have many people to thank for this one.

First, thanks to Liz Bemis of Bemis Web Design for helping me get all the technical jargon and equipment right, thereby enabling me to make Avery the computer whiz and Webhead that she is. Some of the technology and equipment that both OPUS and Avery use I made up myself, but it’s okay, because making up stuff is my job. If I did get anything wrong with the real stuff, it’s my fault, not Liz’s.

Thanks to Wanda Ottewell, my fabulous editor, for helping me buff the rough spots and see the gaps, and make everything in the story nice and neat. Thanks to Tracy Farrell and HQN Books for giving this book such a wonderful home. Thanks to Steve Axelrod for helping me find that home.

I’d also like to thank the incredibly nice, patient, generous David Dafoe, of Pro-Liquitech, whose lovely donation to Turning Point for Autism won him a brief appearance in the book. For more information about all the great things Turning Point does, visit their Web site at turningpoint1.com (don’t forget the 1!). It was great fun being able to invite a real person to the party at the Nesbitt estate.

Thanks, too, to good friends (you know who you are) for daily support and camaraderie and laughter that goes above and beyond the call of friendship. Without you guys, I’d be like Avery at the opening of chapter four.

And finally, as always, thanks to David and Eli, my lifelines. My life. Without you guys, I’d be lost.

I love you both bunches. Hug. Kiss. Pat.

You’ve Got Male

CHAPTER ONE

AVERY NESBITT WAS IN LOVE. Madly, passionately, wildly in love. She was besotted. She was bedazzled. She was befuddled. She was in love as she’d never been in love before.

And it was with a man who went beyond dreamy. He was smart and witty. He was creative and articulate. He was handsome and sexy. He always said what she needed to hear, right when she needed to hear it. He knew her backward and forward, just as she knew him inside and out. And he loved her exactly the way she was. That, more than anything else, had sealed her fate and ensured that her love would last forever. Andrew Paddington made Avery feel as if nothing in her life would ever go wrong again. He was just perfect in every way.

The bastard.

Theirs had been a whirlwind courtship, had come at Avery out of nowhere and swept her into a fantasy worthy of an epic romance. Andrew was in her thoughts and her dreams, in her plans and her performance, in her ego and her id. He filled her days with delight and her nights with pleasure, imbued her with joy that made her downright giddy. And that was no small accomplishment for a woman who was normally pragmatic, cynical and down-to-earth. Although Avery had only met him a month ago, she’d known after that first encounter that their meeting must have been destiny. Fate. Kismet. It was simply Meant To Be.

Bastard.

What difference did it make if they’d never actually met in person? Physical trappings weren’t what love was about. Love was a meeting of minds, a melding of souls, a blending of hearts. Besides, they’d exchanged photos, and the ones he’d sent to her depicted him as a sandy-haired twentysomething with the eyes of a poet, the mouth of a troubadour, the hands of an artist and phenomenal pecs. He was an utter, unmitigated masterpiece.

Bastard, bastard, bastard.

Who cared if they’d never actually spoken to each other? Vocal avowals of devotion were as nebulous and inconstant as the wind. Avery had Andrew’s love for her in writing. In the loveliest prose she’d ever read, words—feelings—wrought so tenderly, they would move a despot to tears. After only four weeks, she had a file filled with his e-mails to her and she’d logged every chat-room exchange they’d shared in a special folder titled Snookypie. On those nights when she was alone and feeling dreamy and lovey-dovey, she lit candles and opened a bottle of wine, then read over his words again and again, pretending he was right there in her Central Park West condo, murmuring them into her ear.

Bastard squared.

But now the unthinkable was happening. Andrew was cheating on her with another woman. And Avery was finding out about it just as women did on those bad made-for-cable movies. She’d walked in on him and found him in bed with another woman.

Well, okay, figuratively speaking. What had actually happened was that she’d stumbled upon him online, blabbing away with some cheap bit of cyberfluff in, of all places, a Survivor: Mall of America chat room. This after Andrew had assured Avery that he loathed popular culture as much as she did. But what really toasted her melbas was that the cyberfluff he was chatting with, who went by the screen name of—Avery had to bite back her nausea when she saw it—Tinky Belle, was clearly an idiot. But Andrew was agreeing with her that the music of Clay Aiken could, if people would just open their eyes and ears and hearts to it, bring peace and harmony to the entire planet.

Bastard cubed.

Unable to believe her eyes, Avery felt around until she located the chair in front of her desk and clumsily pulled it out. Then she nearly missed the surface of her desk when she set her bowl of Cajun popcorn and the bottle of Wild Cherry Pepsi on top of it. She tugged at her electric-blue pajama pants spattered with images of French landmarks and numbly sat down, adjusting the oversize purple sweatshirt boasting Wellesley College as she did. Then she wiggled her toes in her fuzzy pink slippers to warm them, adjusted her little black-framed glasses on the bridge of her nose, pushed one of two long, thick black braids over her shoulder and studied the screen more closely.

Maybe she was wrong, she thought as she watched the rapid-fire exchange scroll by. She shouldn’t jump to conclusions. Surely Andrew wasn’t the only guy out there in cyberspace who used the handle Mad2Live. It was a phrase from On the Road, after all. And there were probably lots of Kerouac fans online. Andrew loved Avery. He’d told her so. He wouldn’t cheat on her like this. Especially not with some brainless ninny who said things like, “ur 2 kewl mad.”

Please, people! she wanted to shout at the screen whenever she saw message-board shorthand. Speak English! Or Spanish! Or French! Or German! Or some legitimate language that indicates you’re at least halfway literate! And capitalize where necessary! And for God’s sake, punctuate!

Even though she was a computer geek in the most extreme sense of the word, Avery couldn’t bring herself to type in anything other than the language she’d learned growing up in the Hamptons. Tony private schools could mess with you in a lot of ways, she knew, but at least they taught you to be well-spoken. That shouldn’t change just because your language of choice was cyber-speak.

She watched Mad2Live and Tinky Belle—gag—swap warm fuzzies for as long as she could stomach it and ultimately decided there was no way that this Mad2Live could be Andrew. Andrew would never, ever concede that the Survivor series was, as Tinky Belle claimed, “qualty educatnl programing u cn wach w/ the hole famly.”

Oh, yes, Avery thought. It’s definitely mus c tv.

She was about to leave the chat room to visit another—she was, after all, supposed to be working—when Mad2Live posted something that made her fingers convulse on the mouse: You, Tinky Belle, are a dazzling blossom of hope burgeoning at the center of an unforgiving cultural wasteland.

Acid heat splashed through Avery’s belly when she read that. Because those were the exact words Andrew had used to describe her that first night they met in a Henry James chat room. Except for the Tinky Belle part, since Avery’s screen name—at least that night—had been Daisy Miller. There was no way there could be two Mad2Lives on the Internet flirting with women by calling them dazzling blossoms of hope who burgeoned in cultural wastelands. That was Andrew—her Andrew—through and through.

After that it was impossible for Avery to ignore Tinky and Mad’s conversation. And as she watched the lines of dialogue on her screen roll past, she read more and more from Mad2Live that was pulled verbatim from some of the e-mails Andrew had sent to her. And she should know, since she’d practically memorized some of them.

Had she mentioned he was a complete bastard?

Eventually Tinky bade farewell to Mad and evaporated from the chat room, and Avery watched in astonishment as he immediately began to flirt with another occupant, this one calling herself Deb2000. But Deb wasn’t impressed by any of Mad’s cajoling, so, obviously disgruntled, Mad signed out of the chat room.

And Avery followed him.

Luckily she had dozens of screen names she used for her work and she could log in to rooms under several that Andrew would never recognize. And luckily, too, she knew the online community better than she knew even her own Manhattan neighborhood. Because the Internet was where Avery worked every single night. And it was where she played after she knocked off work. It was also where she shopped, where she learned and where she socialized. It was where she found her music, her books, her entertainment and her dinner selections. Hell, she pretty much lived on the Net. And she knew Andrew almost as well as she knew the online community.

Or at least she’d thought she knew him that well. But now she was beginning to think him a complete stranger. Because he flitted from one chat room to another, all of them themed around shallow pop-culture subject matter—everything from Pilates to low-carb cuisine—and in every one of them he waited long enough to identify which of the room’s inhabitants were female and which seemed to be the least, uh, bright. And then he chose one and began to work on her in exactly the way he had worked on Avery that first night he’d encountered her. And shame boiled within her when she realized that she had capitulated to his pretty words as easily as had women who thought deep-fried pork flesh was an essential part of good nutrition.

How could he do this to her? How could he think she was stupid? She? Avery Nesbitt? She wasn’t stupid. She was a criminal genius! Even Time magazine had said so! And even if the criminal part was debatable, once a genius, always a genius. How could he cheat on her this way? And be so obvious about it? He knew how good she was. He knew what she did for a living and how much time she spent online. He knew everything about her. She’d even told him about her past transgressions, and he hadn’t flinched. He’d told her her past didn’t matter, that anything that had happened before the day he met her wasn’t important because he didn’t start living until the day he met her.

Oh, he was such a bastard.

Well, she’d fix Andrew. Not only would she dump him faster than you could say, “Survivor: Up Yours,” but she’d give him something to remember her by, too. She’d blow off work and stay up all night if she had to to concoct just the right farewell gift.

Of course, being up all night wasn’t exactly a sacrifice to Avery, since she pretty much lived her life at night anyway. Nighttime didn’t have rules or expectations the way daytime hours did. So when most people were coming home from their jobs and starting to wind down, Avery was rising and revving to go. And when most people’s alarm clocks were going off and signaling the beginning of their workday, Avery was pouring herself a scotch and popping a DVD of a Cracker mystery into the player and trying to wind down. Unfortunately, she’d never been as good at winding down as she was at revving up.

Because Avery Nesbitt was what some people—those who claimed an ounce or two of compassion—called “a bit neurotic.” She was what other people—those who didn’t give a damn about compassion—called “totally whack.” Hey, what else could you call a woman who lived in her pajamas on the Internet and never left her apartment unless it was to take her cat to the vet, and even then had to load up on half a bottle of scotch just to get herself over the threshold? What else did you call a woman who bought into the tripe men like Andrew Paddington fed to unsuspecting morons?

But Avery didn’t care what anyone thought about her these days, any more than she’d cared when she was a kid. She especially didn’t care tonight. Tonight and tomorrow night—and all the hours in between—she had other things on her mind. Her gift for Andrew would take the better part of the next forty-eight hours to create.

Fortunately for Avery, she was totally whack and had nowhere else to go.

“HEY, HOW’S IT FEELING OUT there, Dixon?”

“Like Antarctica. Only without all the warm toastiness.”

“Well, we’ll see if we can’t get you something closer to Greenland next time you’re in the field.”

“How many times do I have to remind you people—I’m not supposed to be in the field!”

Because the field was cold and harsh and unforgiving. Even with a laptop and a decent cup of coffee.

Dixon tugged the zipper of his leather jacket higher, curled his hands around a quickly cooling cup of espresso and pulled his backward-facing driver’s cap farther down over inky black hair that was badly in need of a trim. But that did little to warm him below the waist, and faded blue jeans, though normally his favorite garment, weren’t all that effective in warding off the cold.

Even the cold found in the back of a van that was insulated with high-tech surveillance equipment.

He was infinitely more suited to the great indoors, he thought as he switched his attention from the laptop monitor to a television screen that offered a three-hundred-and-sixty-degree view of the area outside the van. Yeah, indoors he could get a hot shower and a hot sandwich and some hot coffee. Life didn’t get much better than that. Unless maybe you substituted warmed brandy for the hot coffee and added a hot woman with hot hands to the hot shower. Preferably one with a hot name like Lola or Mimi or Fritzi or—

“Dixon?”

No, that wouldn’t work. That was the name he was going by himself these days. It would get way too confusing. So maybe he could just call her—

“Dixon?”

“What?” he said, grinding the words out irritably as his hot shower/hot woman fantasy receded to the back of his brain, leaving him even colder than before.

“You need anything?”

He bit back a grumble at the question that came through the earpiece of his headset. Hadn’t he just been thinking about that when the other agent rudely interrupted him?

“No, Gillespie,” he muttered into the microphone below his chin to the newly minted OPUS agent who’d been assigned to shadow him—more to keep Gillespie out of trouble than anything else, Dixon knew. “I don’t need anything.” Except for his usual partner to get back from her leave of absence so she could go into the field instead of him, the way she was supposed to. That way Dixon could go back to collecting the information she sent him and find the missing pieces. Indoors. Where he normally worked. Where it was warm.

Because that was standard operating procedure at Dixon’s employer, the ultrasecret Office of Political Unity and Security. Agents worked in teams of two, with one in the field collecting information and the other behind the scenes analyzing it. Assimilate, evaluate, articulate. That was Dixon’s three-word job description. He was the one responsible for making sense of the intelligence, not the one who gathered it. He was the one who analyzed and scrutinized, calculated and estimated, and then put everything together. He wasn’t the one who sat on his butt in a cold van waiting for something to happen. At least, he wasn’t supposed to be.

“Oh, there is one thing, Gillespie,” he said, picturing the other agent in his head. Blond, Dixon recalled. Too blond to be taken seriously, really. His dark blue eyes—cool and sharp and distant—were the only thing that had kept the guy from looking like some gee-whiz, what’s for-supper-Mom, all-American high school football hero.

“What’s that?” the other man asked.

“Stop calling me Dixon,” Dixon said. “That’s not my name.”

Gillespie snorted—or something—at the other end of the line. “Yeah, well, my name isn’t Gillespie, either, but you have to call me something.”

Oh, stop making it so easy, Dixon thought. “I keep forgetting your code name. What is it again?”

“Cowboy,” the other man said.

Yee-haw, Dixon thought. He just hoped he could say it with a straight face.

“Besides,” Cowboy added, “nobody at my level knows your name. Except for your code name. And you told me never to call you—”

“Okay, Dixon is fine,” Dixon hastily amended.

“—that,” the other man finished at the same time. “What? You thought I was going to say your code name out loud? Are you nuts? I’m not nuts. From what I hear, the last guy who spoke your code name out loud is still in the hospital. You’re a dangerous man.”

Damn straight, Dixon thought. And he wouldn’t have it any other way. Except that he’d be a dangerous man out of the cold. Literally if not figuratively.

The only thing worse than being in the field—where he wasn’t supposed to be anyway, in case he hadn’t mentioned it—was being in the field in New York City. Mostly because there were no fields in New York City. Except for those in Central Park, which, okay, were very nice, but they were nothing compared to the rolling green hills surrounding the Virginia farm where he’d grown up. And even though Dixon was currently parked right next to Central Park, he had to be focused on the big tidy building across from it instead. The big tidy building full of outrageously expensive condominiums that only people with more dollars than sense could afford to call their own.

The big tidy building where Daisy Miller lived.

Of course, her name was no more Daisy Miller than his was Dixon. But he’d had to have something to call her, just as he’d had to have something to put on his phony driver’s license, in case one of New York’s finest wandered by and wondered what a nondescript white van was doing parked in front of a Central Park West address for hours and hours and, oh, look, is that a dead debutante in the back the way there always is on Law & Order?

It was a pain in the ass trying to do surveillance in New York City. Yeah, he was good at what he did—quite possibly the best—but it would take an übergenius to clear up some of the audio crap he’d been trying to weed through all evening. Between the lousy weather—which the first week of November was way too early for—and the incessant cell phone use of millions of people and the twenty gazillion satellite channels beaming down from space and the simple proliferation of car and pedestrian traffic, listening in on Daisy Miller’s residence this week had been next to impossible. Though Dixon had gotten some decent info about a certain mutual fund when some stockbroker’s cell phone conversation had overlapped with Daisy’s frantic call to the veterinarian about her cat’s digestive problems. Not to mention a very nice tip on the seventh race at Hialeah tomorrow from some guy named Sal who seemed to know what he was talking about.

Fortunately except for that call to the vet and a follow-up the next day—her cat, thank God, was just fine once it passed that button—Daisy’s activity in her apartment was limited to the point of being nonexistent. But then, so was her activity out of her apartment. In fact, in the week that Dixon had been keeping an eye on the place, he was reasonably certain she hadn’t left the building once. And that bothered him a lot on some level he couldn’t even name. Yeah, there was a definite cold snap going on in the city, and lots of people worked at home these days, but to not leave one’s house one single time in a full week? Not even to go to a movie or pick up a gallon of milk or buy a lottery ticket? That was just…weird.

He wished he knew more about her. Which was a strange feeling for him, because anytime Dixon—or anyone else he worked with at OPUS—had wanted to know more about someone, it had taken less than a day to find out everything about that person. That was a big part of his job, after all—to find out whatever he could about suspicious characters. And thanks to all the sophisticated equipment and arcane networks he had at his fingertips—not to mention his superior brain—Dixon never had much trouble doing his job. With Daisy, though…

She was good. Better than he was, Dixon had been forced to concede reluctantly. Not only did she have some kind of screening device on her phone he couldn’t figure out, but she had a firewall on her computer unlike anything he’d ever seen before—both of them homemade and high-tech and very, very effective. He’d managed to chip a few chinks in the firewall through the course of the week, but only enough to be able to keep track of her when she was online with her desktop. And even then it was more because he’d been able to tap into her wireless server and track her from there. Her ’puter just thumbed its nose at his efforts. And her laptop—forget about it. Luckily for him, she rarely used that. Even so, Dixon hadn’t been able to fish any pertinent information out of her computer files. Not even her real name. He didn’t even know which apartment in the building was hers, only that she did live in this building. And he’d only been able to trace that much of her because, before this week, he’d been surveilling her online boyfriend, Andrew Paddington, and had intercepted some of the e-mails he’d sent to Daisy.

Not that Andrew Paddington’s name was really Andrew Paddington, either. Him, Dixon knew well. Too well. And he was a rank bastard. Of course, everyone at OPUS knew Andrew Paddington. Only they all knew him by his real name: Adrian Padgett. And they all thought he was a rank bastard, too. Because once upon a time they’d all believed Adrian was one of them and then had discovered, too late, that he was nobody’s man but his own. And a very bad man, at that.

It had been years since they’d heard from Adrian after he went rogue from his position at the Office of Political Unity and Security with millions of dollars in ill-gotten gains and a formerly secret network hanging out to dry. Then suddenly a year and a half ago he’d re-surfaced in, of all places, his hometown of Indianapolis. He’d been trying to pass himself off as a legitimate businessman by the name of Adrian Windsor, but there was nothing legitimate about Adrian. If he’d surfaced after years of being underground, it could only be because he was up to no good. OPUS had discovered his activities and deterred him in time to prevent him from doing any real damage, but they’d never quite figured out what exactly his activities were leading to, and he’d slipped away before they’d been able to find out. Something illegal, though, that was for damned sure. Because Adrian didn’t know how to operate inside the law.

They’d lost track of him for nine months after he’d left Indianapolis, in spite of making him their number-one priority for apprehension. Finally, thanks in large part to the efforts of Dixon and his partner, OPUS had unearthed Adrian again a few months ago, living in New York City…where he seemed to be doing little more than joining online dating services and chatting up young women on the Internet.

Oh, he was definitely up to no good. The bastard. Dixon just wished he knew what it was.

But Adrian’s OPUS code name hadn’t been Sorcerer for nothing. He could make magic when he wanted to. He could make himself invisible. He could make himself be anyone—or anything—he wanted. And he could mesmerize other people—ordinary, decent, moral people—into thinking they were doing the right thing by helping him out. Other people like, oh…Dixon didn’t know…Daisy Miller.

Who the hell was she anyway?

Not that she seemed ordinary in any way. Or decent, considering what Dixon had read in some of the snippets he’d been able to decrypt from her e-mails to Andrew/Adrian/Sorcerer. As for moral, well…the jury was still out on that. Could be she was just another one of Sorcerer’s clueless pawns. Or she might be someone as illicitly inclined as he was. Whoever she was, Dixon could see why Sorcerer wanted her. Not just because if she was living here, she had a bundle of money, but if her homemade phone screen and firewall were anything to go by, she also knew a thing or two about communication technology and software. And since Sorcerer’s last incarnation had been as a high-level executive for a computer software company in Indianapolis, it was a safe bet that whatever he was up to had something to do with that particular medium.

Although Dixon was fully prepared, and able, to break into Daisy’s apartment and bug the hell out of the place if she ever left long enough for him to manage it—and if, you know, he ever found it—he hadn’t had the opportunity to do so because she never went anywhere. So he’d had to make do with industrial-strength microphones that caught every other damned thing in a half-mile radius, too, and try to filter out what he could. And he’d had to intercept what he could of her online activity through the airwaves. But her firewall made even that hard to do.

Tonight Daisy seemed to be especially active, darting from one chat room to another without even posting in any of them. Not that that was so unusual, since she seemed to be following Sorcerer. Plus, she just spent a lot of time in chat rooms—enough so that Dixon suspected she was a bit neurotic.

But what he’d come to view as her regular haunts were a lot more esoteric than the ones she was visiting tonight. In addition to the Henry James site, she liked the Libertarian Party home page, the Ruth Gordon Fan Club, the Mo Rocca is a Total Babe site, one headed up by the words Love Animals Don’t Cut Them into Pieces and Ingest Them, several Magic: the Gathering sites and the Cracker Mysteries site.

That last was where she had declared on the message board that she wanted to have Robbie Coltrane’s love child and name it Clem. Dixon had tried to reassure himself that she must have been drinking pretty heavily that night. Somehow, though, that had brought little reassurance. All in all, had he met Daisy Miller at a cocktail party, he could safely say he’d want to keep his distance.

Nevertheless, she was very intriguing. And he couldn’t say he hadn’t enjoyed some parts of this week. Just not tonight, since it was so friggin’ cold and her activity online was so friggin’ weird. He was supposed to be on duty until daybreak, when Daisy’s activity generally started to ebb, whereupon he’d be relieved by another agent, whose job would be even more boring than his was, because the daylight hours seemed to be the time when Daisy shutdown.

He was about to contact Cowboy and tell the other man he was calling it a night when suddenly, out of nowhere, Dixon got his big break. Because right when he was thinking this was pointless and he might as well pack it in, Daisy Miller picked up her phone and made a call. When he picked up the sound of a man’s voice evidently answering the phone at the other end of the line with a cheery, “Hello, Eastern Star Earth-Friendly Market,” he quickly looked up the address on his laptop and saw that it was an all-night market three blocks away.

More satisfying than that, though, was when he heard Daisy—whose voice was very familiar by now—say, “Hi, Mohammed, this is Avery Nesbitt. I need some things delivered.”

Dixon picked up one of the more primitive tools he had at his fingertips—a pad and pencil—and listened as Avery Nesbitt, aka Daisy Miller, ticked off a list of essentials that she needed delivered to the very building where Dixon had parked his van. And then Mohammed confirmed that those should go to apartment number—Oh, yes, there is a God—7B, right? Yes, thanks, Mohammed, and please charge it to my account, as usual. And add fifteen percent for the delivery boy, twenty if he can deliver it tonight, ’cause I’m really running low on milk. He can? Great. Thanks again, Mohammed, you’re the best.

Avery Nesbitt. Dixon smiled at the words he’d scrawled on the pad of paper before him. Not Daisy Miller. And this week, from the market, Avery Nesbitt needed coffee, bread, peanut butter—the biggest jar you have, please, Mohammed—Froot Loops, Cap’n Crunch, a box of Chicken in a Biskit crackers, a six-pack of Wild Cherry Pepsi, some of those red-chili pistachios, a mondo bag of M&M’s, Sausalito cookies, tampons (she’d said that without an ounce of hesitation) and lots and lots of other stuff that had the nutritional equivalent of a big bag of lint.


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