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The Mating Game: Big Bad Wolf(7)

By´╝ÜGeorgette St. Clair

But cement head or not, her son was going to marry a nice girl and provide her with grandcubs.

She was sick of sitting around twiddling her thumbs and waiting. She wanted a baby to bounce on her knee again. Harriet Harrison was a very good seamstress, and excellent at crocheting. She wanted to sew little outfits and crochet little booties – but not until there was an actual baby to sew and crochet for, because that would be just weird, crocheting booties for someone who didn’t exist. She wanted to sneak her famous home-made fudge to her grandcubs when their parents weren’t looking, and then look at the parents with wide-eyed innocence and denial.

And the girl her brother-in-law Walter had talked about sounded perfect. School teacher, did volunteer work, loved to bake, and the fact that she wasn’t into sports was actually a big plus. It meant the girl would love Ryker for his big, stupid self rather than his fame. She and Walt had planned everything out. She’d even given him hints as to what he should say when he called up the Mating Agency pretending to be Ryker.

And now Ryker was about to blow everything, because he was the opposite of smooth when it came to women.

Of course, Lem had been the same way. She’d had to chase him and chase him, all the while pretending that he was the one chasing her.

Well, Harriet Harrison was not about to let the perfect woman slip through her son’s paws. Daisy Bennett wasn’t going to get away so easily. Ryker would woo her, and charm her, and coax her down the aisle, or Harriet would nag him until he prayed for a merciful death.

She quickly texted her son.

Answer the phone NOW if you know what’s good for you!

* * * * *

Why the heck was Ryker following her in his car? Daisy wondered in a mixture of bewilderment and anger. She glanced in her rearview mirror again. Following her, yelling at someone on his cell phone…that wasn’t safe, talking and driving like that. She was driving by the City Center Greenway, the city’s largest public park. She pulled over, just so he’d stop being a menace to other drivers. Ryker quickly parked behind her.

She got out of her car and stalked off, passing by a concrete fountain of dolphins spitting water in huge, graceful arcs.

She could hear Ryker calling her name, and she ignored him. She was in no mood. Her feet hurt in her high-heeled shoes, she was starving, and she was exhausted to boot. She’d stayed up late the night before filling out grant paperwork for the proposed Wildwood Recreational Center. Typical exciting Friday night at Chez Bennett.

“Daisy! Wait!” Ryker yelled. She turned around, just as his cell phone started ringing loudly. He pulled it out of his pocket and tossed it into the fountain.

“What?” he said, as Daisy stared at him. “I can just buy another one.” Daisy remembered the days when she’d had that kind of luxury. Not any more – and her freedom had been worth giving up every penny.

He walked up to her, and she tipped her head back to look up at him. He was almost a foot taller than her, and he had eyes the color of faded denim.

“Listen,” he said. “We got off on the wrong foot.” His voice was deep and rich, with a twang of country to it. As he stared into her eyes, his lips curved in a slow smile – the same slow smile that had probably melted the panties right off many a groupie.

Well, she wasn’t a groupie and she’d dated enough jerks lately; she didn’t need to add another one to her score-card, not even one who made her whole body tingle deliciously with just a curl of his sexy mouth.

“Wrong foot? All four feet,” she said, taking a step back.

He looked disconcerted. “Well, my mother just called me and tore a strip off my hide for scaring off the perfect girl. She said I had to at least apologize to you for being rude, so, ah—”

“Ryker Harrison?” a girl squealed, running up to him holding out a pad and pen.

The girl was tanned, toned, and had perfect blown-out hair. She wore a stretchy dress that fit her bony body like a glove; Daisy could see her hip-bones poking out. Daisy had seen enough episodes of Shifter Entertainment News to know that was the type of girl Ryker always had on his arm.

Daisy felt a stab of self-consciousness at the way her own dress clung to her every roll and ripple. She thought about sucking her stomach in, but she was too tired to make the effort.

“Apology accepted,” Daisy said, and turned and walked quickly away from him, into the park. Anywhere that Ryker wasn’t – that was where she needed to be.

Her ex fiancé Frasier had been handsome and smooth, just like Ryker. He had rolled over her like a tidal wave, showering her with gifts and compliments from the first day he’d met her. She wasn’t falling for another sweet-talking playboy.