Excerpt from If Looks Could Kill by Kate White, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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If Looks Could Kill

by Kate White

If Looks Could Kill
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  • First Published:
    Apr 2002, 320 pages
    May 2003, 405 pages

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I forced myself out of bed and stole a look in the mirror above my dresser. I'm fairly attractive, I guess you could say, but lookswise the morning has never been my finest hour. I'd gotten all my makeup off last night, so there was none of that streaky "Bride of Chucky" horror, but my short blondish brown hair was bunched up on top of my head and it looked as though I had a hedgehog sitting there. I swiped at it with a brush a few times until it lay flat and then pulled on a pair of jeans, a white T-shirt, and a black cotton cardigan.

As I headed toward the kitchen I could hear K.C. splashing water in the bathroom. I put on the teakettle (I make my coffee in a French press) and walked from the living room out onto my terrace to see what the weather had in mind today. I live in the Village, Greenwich Village, at the very east end of it before it becomes the shabbier East Village, and my view is to the west, toward an unseen Hudson River blocked by gray-and red- and sand-colored buildings and nineteen shingled water towers scattered over the rooftops. It was cool, and the sky was smudged with gray.

"How'd you get this place again?"

K.C. was standing in the doorway, all dressed, ready to split. There was something downright roguish about him, a quality that was kept almost at bay when he dressed in one of his navy banker suits, but came through loud and clear as he stood there in slacks and a shirt rumpled from having been tossed in a heap on the floor in my bedroom. I was torn between the desire to swoon and the urge to heed a tiny voice in my head that was going, "Run, Bambi, run."

"I got divorced, and this was part of the consolation prize."

"Ahh, right."

He took three steps toward me. "I used your toothbrush, Miss Weggins."

"Then I look forward to using it next," I said. I nearly cringed at the sound of myself saying it. I'd once written an article about a woman with fourteen personalities, including an adolescent boy named Danny who liked to set five-alarm ware house fires. Maybe that's what was going on with me.

But he smiled for the first time that morning and leaned forward and kissed me hard on the mouth.

"Have a good day."

"Oh, I'm sure I will. I'll be scouring New York for the no-show nanny."

"I hope she's worth it," he said.

"You want to come along?" I asked in a burst of imagination or stupidity.

"Can't," he said. "I'm supposed to go sailing today."

I walked him to the front of the apartment, flipped the locks on the door, and opened it. He spotted The New York Times lying on the mat and picked it up for me. Then he flashed me this tight little smile with raised eyebrows and turned to go. No "Call you later." No "That was the most awesome sex I've ever had." I felt a momentary urge to hurl the newspaper at the back of his head, but I just closed the door and begged the gods to keep me from falling hard for him.

Twelve minutes later I was in a cab heading uptown. I'd brushed my teeth, made coffee, and then poured it into a Styrofoam cup. I'd tried sipping it in the taxi, but the driver was going too fast, so now I had the cup on the floor, squeezed between my shoes.

There didn't seem to be anyone on the sidewalks at this hour, just people walking their dogs, and cabbies hurrying out of delis with blue-and-white disposable coffee cups. The last time I'd been outside on a Sunday this early was about a year ago and I'd been coming home, doing the walk of shame in a black cocktail dress. At 23rd Street we turned right, drove all the way to the end, and picked up the FDR Drive. As we sped alongside the East River, the sun burned a small hole through the clouds, making the river water gleam like steel.

I tried to read the front page of the paper, but I couldn't concentrate. I kept wondering if I'd totally blown things with K.C. by tossing him out for the sake of some silly nanny who'd most likely spent the night in a shagathon and would soon be returning home with a major case of beard burn. I'd actually met Heidi on several occasions. She was a stunningly pretty and aloof girl from Minnesota or Indiana who'd been imported to take care of Cat's two-year-old son, Tyler. In fact, I had just seen her on Thursday night when I'd been at Cat's house for a party and she'd appeared briefly in the front hallway to rifle through a closet, searching for Tyler's jacket. She had looked through me as if we'd never met before. I was certain that by the time I got to Cat's house Heidi would have surfaced and I'd be back in a taxi, spending another $15 on a ride home.

Copyright © 2002 by Kate White

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