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Authors: Judy Baer

The Cinderella List

BOOK: The Cinderella List
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“I didn’t decide to be single. A good man just hasn’t come along yet, that’s all,” Marlo told Jenny.

“What about the Cinderella List?” her sister pointed out. “Does a man with your requirements even exist?”

“It was just a
Jen….” Though Marlo wondered when it had turned into something more in her mind.

Jenny slipped out of the room, and returned some minutes later with a piece of folded white typing paper in her hand. “Here. I jotted this down. Maybe it will clarify things for you.”

What was Jenny up to now?

The Ideal Man According to Marlo Mayfield

  • Handsome (dark hair preferred)
  • Good teeth, great smile
  • Well educated, intelligent
  • Good manners
  • Earns a decent living
  • Looks good in jeans and suits
  • Thoughtful, compassionate, intuitive
  • Sense of humor
  • Faith in God

Could love be far behind?

Books by Judy Baer

Love Inspired

Be My Neat-Heart

Mirror, Mirror

Sleeping Beauty

The Cinderella List

Steeple Hill Single Title

The Whitney Chronicles

Million Dollar Dilemma

Norah’s Ark


“Angel” Award-winning author and two-time RITA
Award finalist Judy Baer has written more than seventy books in the past twenty years. A native of North Dakota and graduate of Concordia College in Minnesota, she currently lives near Minneapolis. In addition to writing, Judy works as a personal life coach and writing coach. Judy speaks in churches, libraries, women’s groups and at writers’ conferences across the country. She enjoys time with her husband, two daughters, three step children and the growing number of spouses, pets and babies they bring home. Judy, who once raised buffalo, now owns horses. She recently completed her master’s degree and accepted a position as adjunct faculty at St. Mary’s University, Minneapolis, MN. Readers are invited to visit her Web site at

The Cinderella List
Judy Baer

He who finds a wife finds a good thing, and obtains favor from the Lord.


For Tom, who fulfills all the requirements
for my Prince Charming!

Chapter One

r. Hammond was very explicit that he wanted us there on time. Successful men are like that.” The catering van took a right turn so sharply that Marlo Mayfield grabbed the handle above her door and hung on tightly. Marlo and her business partner, Lucy Morten, rushed to set up tonight’s catering job.

“Stop signs are not a suggestion, Lucy. They are an order.” Dressed in a pale blue blouse, with a Dining with Divas logo on it, Marlo tentatively let go of the handle and hoped for the best.

She studied the neighborhood through which they were driving. Lucy was right about their client’s success. No one lived in a neighborhood like this without a thriving business, a spot on a professional sports team or a hefty trust fund.

They drove up to a huge, castlelike English Tudor home. Sloping lawns led away from the house toward a maze of low shrubbery and a man-made pond. Statuary fountains of maidens carrying jugs were pouring water into the pool. There were seating-area vignettes scattered around the velvety grass, teak chairs and tables with brightly colored umbrellas and wrought-iron sets decorated with vases of flowers.

This was her dream home, Marlo marveled, the one she’d drawn sketches of in the backs of her notebooks as a child. Of course, in
drawings, a knight in shining armor always stood guard at the front gate. And she’d always depicted herself entering at the front of the house, not the service entrance, where they were headed.

“Are we serving outside? The lawn looks like a movie set.” Marlo expected F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Gatsby and his gang to stroll by any moment.

“No. The party is on the main floor of the house. Not every yard is a lawn ornament graveyard like yours,” Lucy commented absently.

Marlo had inherited a plaster donkey pulling a cart full of fake geraniums, and a windmill that tipped over in every breeze, from her great-aunt Tildy, who didn’t like them well enough to leave them in her own yard.

“You must really love your aunt a lot,” Lucy commented. “I wouldn’t keep that stuff around, even for my own grandmother!”

“She’s like a second mom to me,” Marlo said.

Marlo didn’t mention to Lucy how flattering it had been to be told that she resembled her aunt Tildy when she was young. That was the highest compliment someone in Marlo’s family could receive. Tall, slender, gorgeous, and with a figure anyone in senior living would give a molar to have, Tildy was the classic independent spirit. Marlo, her father often said, was the mirror image of his sister when she was young. Tildy, according to family lore, had more than once literally stopped traffic with her looks.

“Aunt Tildy has flair. She marches to no one’s drummer but her own.”

“She sounds a lot like you.” Lucy spied the door she was looking for and made a sharp left, nearly pitching Marlo into the driver’s seat. Then she slammed the brake to the floor and
the van stopped with a shudder by an open wooden door. Ivy crept up the bricks around it and through the screen Marlo could see the stainless steel accoutrements of a professional kitchen.

As they carried the first trays through the open door, Marlo stared at the commercial quality appliances, granite countertops and the glass doors on the Sub-Zero refrigerator.

There were really only five things in life that Marlo longed for—a close relationship with God, a life partner, a successful business, to make a difference in the world—and a kitchen like this one.

But this was no time for daydreams. She immediately began to organize multitiered platters of finger foods, tarts and hot trays for wings and sausage-stuffed mushrooms. Lucy finished the dessert buffet.

“Can you imagine what we could do if we had this kitchen?” she asked rhetorically, not expecting Lucy to answer. “The business we could generate?” She loved making new plans for their catering business. Some worked, some didn’t. Offering a dessert buffet was a hit with their clients. The sushi to go? Everyone loved it. Fiber-rich chocolate cake? Not so much.

She walked across the room to where a series of framed black-and-white photos hung over the banquette in a small sitting area on one side of the kitchen. That and inviting, red, upholstered wing chairs, plush red, black and cream area rugs and stately porcelain horse sculptures seemed to be waiting for the master to arrive home after the hunt. An open Bible—obviously well read—lay on a mahogany end table, a sight that warmed her heart.

She moved gracefully into the niche, running a finger over the soft leather of the banquette. “I’d sit here to choose recipes for the night’s dinner—scampi maybe, or a nice tortellini with red sauce….”

While Marlo drifted into her Barefoot Contessa fantasy, Lucy
stared at the photos on the wall. “Magnificent,” she breathed. “Absolutely magnificent.”

Lucy usually saved that kind of praise for cakes with rolled fondant icing, so Marlo was surprised to peer over her shoulder and realize that she was looking at the black-and-white portraits of gleaming, powerfully built—and, yes, magnificent—horses.

There were horsey things subtly scattered elsewhere: a needle-point pillow on one of the chairs boasted a muscular black horse; embroidered delicately onto hems of the luxurious red-and-cream curtains was a stylized rendition of the head of a stallion.

“I always wanted a horse,” Marlo said wistfully. “But we lived in the city and there was never any money to board a pony back then. My bedroom was papered with pictures of horses I’d cut out of magazines, drawn or colored. Mother said I preferred whinnying to talking and wanted to eat oatmeal three times a day after I learned horses ate oats. Can you imagine?”

“You must have been a very odd child.”

“My sister and I were
odd children, if you ask me. When I wasn’t thinking about horses, which I knew little or nothing about, we lived in a world of pink castles, party dresses and charming princes. We were the most girly girls you’d ever want to meet. We played dress-up and walked around on the arms of imaginary princes.”

Though she didn’t admit it, those childhood fantasies had made a lasting imprint on her view of the world. She still believed that handsome, gallant princes did exist—somewhere. Unfortunately, she hadn’t run into any of them yet.

“In a six-year-old mind, what qualities does a good Prince Charming have?”

Marlo grinned and her eyes sparkled. “Mine always smelled like oatmeal-raisin cookies.”

Ever since Marlo and Jenny had seen the movies
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,
they’d played a private little game about the traits they each would require of their own future Prince Charming. In their tween years it was things like a driver’s permit and playing on junior varsity. It was a silly childhood joke that she and her sister still occasionally revisited, tongue in cheek. To the list of requirements for their ideal man, they’d since added a 401K and health insurance.

“We called it ‘the Cinderella List.’” Marlo smiled at the memory of those two little girls, pencils in hand, somberly devising the List. “It’s changed a lot over the years. When I was a kid, my Prince Charming had to have enough money to buy me candy, be able to ride a two-wheeler and wear a baseball cap.

“As a teenager, I wanted him to have a cool car, play football and get along with my parents. As I matured, so did my list. I still remember the last list Jenny and I concocted. It was pretty good, if I remember correctly.”

“And you’re still looking for a man with the qualities on that list?”

“Like I said, it was a good list. Too bad I didn’t use it a few years ago.” Marlo obliquely referred to her former Prince Charming, who turned out to be a royal toad. “By now we’ve refined the list so much that a man doesn’t exist who can fulfill it.”

“I’m going to ask Jenny about this.”

“You’ve got better things to do, Lucy, like figuring out where to place the ice sculpture. By the look of this house, we should have ordered one in the shape of a horse. Most people have pictures of their children on their walls. Makes you wonder, doesn’t it?”

Marlo sank onto the arm of one of the big chairs. Her expression grew pensive and her large blue eyes unfocused. “I like daydreaming about the people who own the houses in which we work. What are their interests? How did they get where they are? Are they happy?”

“You spend too much time with your head in the clouds.” Lucy grabbed a dish towel and began to wipe the counter. “Still, that creative part of you comes in handy. It amazes me how you can toss the most unlikely foods together and make them taste so good. It’s an art.”

“I imagine a taste on my tongue, and then I work backward until I find the right combination of food and spices to make it happen, that’s all.”

The expression on Lucy’s features implied that it was a strange gift Marlo enjoyed.

Marlo ignored her, to concentrate on dishes of olives and pearl onions. Then the door opened and suddenly the fantasy man, the personification of the List she and Jenny had imagined for her all these years, walked into the kitchen.

BOOK: The Cinderella List
4.06Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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