The Harder They Fall

The Harder They Fall by Trish Jensen Read Free Book Online

Book: The Harder They Fall by Trish Jensen Read Free Book Online
Authors: Trish Jensen
Tags: Fiction, General, Romance, Contemporary, Businesswomen, Restaurateurs
    Her smile vanished as she nodded curtly. “By the way, if you’d have had to pay for this meal, it would have cost you—” she closed her eyes, her mouth moving silently “ —seventy-five dollars and twenty-eight cents. Twenty percent of that is . . . fifteen dollars and six cents.” She slapped a small black tray on the table. “You can leave the tip here.” She walked away.
    Michael stared at the tray, then looked up at Ed. “How’d she do that? She didn’t even ring it up.”
    Waving, Ed said, “She’s pretty good with numbers.”
    “Does she have a calculator in her head or something?”
    “One of her favorite games growing up was to have Jeannie and me rattle off numbers at her. As fast as we could say them, Darcy could add, subtract, multiply and divide. When she was thirteen years old, she corrected my tax return. Probably saved me from an audit.”
    Michael shook his head. This was the woman he’d thought of as a ditz?
    Ed smiled at him. “You might do well to change tactics, you know.”
    “Excuse me, sir?”
    “You might try a little charm. Get her to like you. Then maybe she’ll listen a little more reasonably to your offer.”
    “Why would she have to listen to our offer?” Michael asked, dreading the answer.
    Edward didn’t surprise him. “Because much as I’m anxious for this deal to go through, to begin my retirement, I’m not signing one page until Darcy gives the word.” He took a bite of pie while Michael silently fumed. After a sip of water, Edward added, “Switch tactics, Davidson. You’ll never change Darcy’s mind by antagonizing her. She’s stubborn like her mama that way.”
    Michael closed his eyes and thought his options through. He apparently didn’t have any. The key—the only key—to acquiring Welham’s was through Darcy. Opening his eyes, he smiled grimly. “Have any suggestions?”
    Ed shrugged. “Darcy’s used to people running away from her before they really get to know her. Can’t imagine how she’d react to someone wanting to know her. Really know her. I honestly don’t think the restaurant business holds that much interest for her. I think in the back of Darcy’s mind, she has other goals and dreams. Maybe you could get to know her and learn what those goals are.”
    Michael swallowed again, and pushed away his pie. Getting to know Darcy sounded dangerous to him.
    Extremely dangerous.
    He rolled his sore tongue around his mouth. Physically hazardous.
    His mind conjured up the image of Darcy’s dazed gaze as he’d kissed her. Emotionally lethal.
    A sense of dread sank through him. The battle lines were clearly drawn, but Michael realized his tactics needed some revising. Glancing at Darcy’s father, he waved weakly. “Get to know her. Right.”

    It didn’t take a genius to know Michael had a daunting task ahead of him. Considering the way he and Darcy had started out, he almost needed a miracle. He’d spent a restless night, listing his options. And the very next day he started working on them.
    He waited until Darcy entered Welham’s back kitchen before popping a forkful of coconut cheesecake into his mouth.
    “Mmmm,” he moaned, closing his eyes. “Delicious.”
    He took another bite, then addressed his comment to one of the assistant chefs. “Whoever created this recipe is gifted!”
    “Hope you choke on it, Davidson,” Darcy said under her breath as she passed behind him.
    He gritted his teeth, pretending he hadn’t heard her. As soon as she clocked in and left, he shoved the half-eaten pie at the dishwasher. Picking up his clipboard, he slapped at the pages of his legal pad until he came to the page titled The Darcy Dilemma.
    Sweeping his gaze down the list, he came to item number three: Try flattery. He crossed it out with a vengeance, then wrote beside it, Flattery won’t work.
    Two days later, Michael strolled up to Darcy as she punched in an order on the computerized terminal. He eavesdropped on her

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