Heiress for Hire

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There were some things money couldn’t buy.

For everything else, there was her father. Since Brett Delmar couldn’t- or wouldn’t- provide Amanda Delmar with love, affection, or respect, at the very least she figured he should foot the bill for a few of life’s necessities. And luxuries.

“Daddy, just two hundred. That’s all I need.” Amanda checked out her manicure and grimaced. If he could only see how godawful her nails looked, he would understand that this was an emergency.

“Why not make it two thousand? Why not make it ten thousand?” Her father’s sarcasm came crackling through her cell phone. She decided to ignore it.

“That’s so sweet of you! And it’s not even my birthday.” That wheezing was probably the sound of his blood pressure going up. She felt a momentary twinge of guilt. She didn’t want to give him a heart attack. She just wanted a manicure.

“Amanda Margaret.” Ouch. Trotting out the middle name was never a good thing.

Amanda set the swing on her front porch swaying. She ran her fingers idly through the lilac bush that hugged the porch as she rocked back and forth. She was enjoying her summer in Cuttersville, Ohio. It was quaint and different and full of fawning men, eager to pay court to the rich girl from Chicago.

But it had its drawbacks in that there were actually establishments that only accepted cash, as unbelievable as it seemed. And her father with his many mountains of money was back in Illinois, getting cranky about her spending habits. Which was ironic since he had created those spending habits, nurtured them in her. He had praised her beauty and her style as a child, and scoffed at her attempts to use her brain. Now he found those very traits he had fostered in her annoying. All her attempts to please him had failed, and around about her eighteenth birthday she had stopped trying.

“Yes, Daddy?” If he could use sarcasm, surely he would recognize it.

“Have you heard of Tough Love?” Amanda stopped playing with the tips of her hair extensions and frowned. Maybe she had been in the country too long ogling brawny farmers and getting back to nature.

“Is that a new designer? Did P. Diddy start a line of street wear? Why haven’t I heard of it?”

He snorted. “No, it’s not a goddamn clothing line. It’s what I’m about to do for your own good, because I love you and you need to get serious, Amanda. You’re almost twenty-six goddamn years old. When I was your age I was making half a million a year already.”

Amanda moved her mouth in a silent, “blah, blah, blah.” She had heard this speech before. Could recite it backwards and forwards and in French.

“You need to work for your money.”

She was. Listening to him blather was hard, painful work, and she had to endure it every time she needed cash. It was as bad as flipping burgers at McDonald’s would be, she’d bet. Maybe it was time to get a job. Not that she was qualified to do anything, given her degree in Art Appreciation. But it was getting a little old to beg for money all the time, and the childish satisfaction of spending her father’s fortune no longer had quite the same charm.

My God, maybe she was actually maturing. There was a scary thought.

Amanda reached down and scooped up Baby, her teacup poodle, and stroked her downy head. She was getting stressed out, and Baby was soothing, her fluffy fur poofing around Amanda’s fingers. Baby’s devotion was simple and uncomplicated, and Amanda appreciated that.

“So, this time, I’m serious, Amanda, I’ve had it. I’m instituting Tough Love. In the end we’ll both be happier this way.” Amanda heard herself sigh. She really was getting too old for these circular arguments. There was no fight left in her. That’s why she was nesting in the country, to relax.

“What are you talking about? What does Tough Love actually mean?”

“It means I’m cutting you off. No more money.”

“What?” The words didn’t make sense. They were unintelligible to her. Daddy was money, money was Daddy, and he couldn’t possibly mean…

“No. More. Money. Ever. That’s what I mean. You’ll have to fend for yourself from here on out. I know your rent is paid for the duration of the summer, so you’ll have plenty of time to look for work. There’s the two thousand I gave you last week. That should hold you over until your first paycheck.”

“It’s gone already! Baby needed dog food.” And she had needed a new handbag, one better equipped to handle the dust of the country.

“What the hell is the dog eating? Beluga? Christ, Amanda, give me a break. That dog is the size of an egg. It probably eats a can of dog food a month.”

Amanda felt the beginnings of panic, followed by pure anger. How absolutely like him. He gave, and he taketh away. Her father had a serious power trip going on. He just loved being the one in control, holding the cards, manipulating her life. Well, she wasn’t going to beg. Not this time. She’d just run to the money machine instead and make a large cash withdrawal on her credit cards. All six of them. “Well, if you’re really serious about this…” she paused, giving him time to regain his sanity.

“I am.”

“Then I have to go. I have to find a job before I die of starvation and exposure.” Or worse, her cell phone ran out of minutes.