Read an Excerpt
Married to a bully? Have you had enough? Emotional abuse leaves no bruises, breaks no bones, still the damage runs deep. Think it's impossible to prove? Think again. A tape recorder or hidden camera can be a girl's best friend.
-excerpt from The Modern Woman's Guide to Divorce (and the joys of staying single)
She was going to seduce him.
Miranda Reed sat in the shadows at the back of the hotel lounge, sipping her apple martini, eyes on her prey. He sat alone at the bar, his attention on the football game, unaware that he was being watched. His suit jacket lay draped on the bar stool beside him, and he'd rolled the sleeves of his shirt and loosened his tie. Even in this casual, relaxed state he stood out from the other businessmen. Everything about him was slightly and subtly exaggerated.
At six-two, Zackary Jameson stood a hair taller than most men, with a physique toned to perfection, dressed in a suit and shirt that were obviously tailor-made to accentuate every one of his assets. She was especially impressed by the "asset" resting on the bar stool.
She did so appreciate a man with a nice rear end.
He somehow managed a perpetual tan, without ever looking leathery or sun baked, and any signs of age on his face made him look more distinguished than old. His short dark hair had that sexy, mussed look, as if he'd just run his hands through it wet, but in reality probably took hours in front of a mirror to perfect. His mouth was wide, his smile warm and genuine, and his teeth just white and straight enough. Caps, she was guessing. No one had teeth that perfect naturally.
He carried himself with casual authority, an ease and male grace thatmade people stop and watch.
She'd never met a man who radiated such confidence, who was more comfortable in his own skin.
Too bad he was an overopinionated male chauvinist pig whose ideologies fell out of fashion with covered wagons and hoop skirts.
When asked to do the radio show with the renowned relationship guru, a man who had built an empire around the principles of traditional family values, her publicist assured her the promotion for the book she cowrote, The Modern Woman's Guide to Divorce (and the joys of staying single), would be invaluable.
He'd argued so logically and twisted her words so skillfully that by the end of the show her message had been lost and she'd come out looking like a radical feminist man hater.
She couldn't forget the way he'd watched her with those piercing blue eyes, eyes deep enough to swim in, with not a hint of the superiority and satisfaction he must have been feeling for discrediting her. In fact, as she'd become angrier and more aggressive, he'd stayed calm and reasonable, the drivel he preached pouring out of him, smothering her every point like hot fudge over cold vanilla ice cream.
Call it petty and uncivilized, but she was in the mood for some good old-fashioned revenge. Even if she would be the only one who knew.
She was going to put his high ideals to the test and see if he really believed all that garbage he spouted about marriage and family. Specifically, his views on intimacy. The slightly updated version of no sex before marriage. The idea that a man and a woman should be committed, preferably with plans of marriage, before consummating a relationship.
They would just see about that.
Miranda watched as the waitress delivered the drink she had ordered him, saw the look of curiosity on his face. The waitress pointed in her direction, and when he turned, she pasted on an alluring smile and waggled her fingers at him. One of those heartstopping grins curled the corners of his mouth when he recognized her.
He tossed a few bills on the waitress's tray-a man like him would of course be a generous tipper-grabbed his jacket and drink and headed to her table, his eyes never leaving her face. She'd worn her hair down and let it fall in silky waves over her shoulders, its dark color bringing out the green in her eyes. It was a little unnerving the way he stared with such intensity, as if the world around them no longer existed. As he drew closer she even felt a little breathless, as if he'd sucked all the air from the room and there was none left for her.
This night could definitely prove to be satisfying, in more ways than one.
"Mr. Jameson," she said as he stopped beside the table.
"Ms. Reed," he replied, with an affable tip of his head. He had the voice of a radio DJ-deep and mesmerizing. A voice that held captive auditoriums full of his loyal supporters for hours on end. "May I join you?"
She gestured to the empty seat, taking care to make the move look as gracefully seductive as possible. If there was one thing she'd learned on her journey to becoming a modern, independent woman, it was how to seduce a man. "Please."
He set his drink on the table and hung his jacket on the back of the chair before he slid into the seat, casual yet so controlled, as if he thoroughly planned each and every move before executing it. "Are you enjoying your stay in New York?"
"It's been-interesting." Not to mention frustrating and humiliating. "Between the book signings and the interviews it's been an exhausting couple of days. I'm looking forward to getting back to Dallas."
"I had hoped to have time to speak with you after the broadcast." "So you could rub the victory in my face maybe?" she asked, keeping her tone sweet.
He smiled. "No, so I could tell you what a pleasure it was to meet you. I enjoyed our discussion. I was impressed."
She shot him a disbelieving look. "Could have fooled me."
He just smiled. "Do you still practice law?" "Not recently, no. The book seems to have dominated my life."
"I take you're not a litigator."
"Gee, what tipped you off?"
He relaxed back in his seat and sipped his drink, studying her for a long moment. "I could tell you exactly what you did wrong during that interview. How you lost control."
She folded her arms and leaned forward, resting them on the table, giving him a nice view of her cleavage, thanks to her very-low-cut, scoop neck silk blouse. "This should be good."
His eyes didn't stray from her face. "You attacked me. You spent all of your time trying to convince me that your way is better. That your opinions hold more credibility."
"Isn't that exactly what you do?"
"Quite the opposite. I never once said that what you believe is wrong."
She opened her mouth to argue, then paused, trying to remember a single thing he'd said to debunk her. But damned if he wasn't right. Not once had he directly challenged her opinion or disagreed with her. While she'd been quick to accuse him of being old-fashioned and closed-minded he'd simply stated his point of view logically and calmly.
She hadn't lost control. She'd never had it. "It is not my goal or intention to persuade people to live a cardboard-cut-out lifestyle," he said.
She let out a very uncouth, unsexy snort of disbelief. "That is exactly your goal."
"I disagree." He was so damned calm and rational. It was as annoying as it was fascinating. "What I do is give people options.A very basic principle of family dynamics. Whether they choose to adopt that lifestyle, or how they integrate it into their own lives, in whole or part, is entirely up to the individual."
As much as she hated admitting she was wrong, and hated being wrong even more, in his books, which she'd grudgingly skimmed, and the seminar she'd rented on DVD, she couldn't recall a single incident when he'd said his way was the only way. Maybe that was what made people so receptive to his ideas.
She tried a different angle. "You're not married. In fact, I read that you've never been married." "Not yet," he agreed.
He shrugged. "I guess I just haven't met the right woman."
"Maybe that's because the kind of woman you're looking for doesn't exist."
"I don't believe that. Everyone has a soul mate. I just haven't met mine yet."
"Considering your views on sex before marriage, you must lead a very-lonely existence."
"I believe in waiting until the relationship becomes exclusive and committed before sex. And though I've never been married, I've been in several committed relationships." He leaned forward slightly, flashing her a playful, sexy look that had her toes curling in her spiked heels. "Very satisfying committed relationships."
Oh, boy, who was doing the seducing here? Or maybe he was just a tease. Either way, she was having far too much fun. And he had no idea who he was messing with. Considering his conservative views on relationships, she could only assume he would be equally conservative in the bedroom. Given her preference to be in charge, the arrangement would work well for her. Maybe she could teach him a thing or two.