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Good To Be Bad
By Debbi Rawlins
Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.Copyright © 2004 Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.
All right reserved.
Chapter OneKARRIE ALBRIGHT LOOKED AROUND the crowded living room of the impeccably decorated SoHo brownstone and wondered again what the hell she was doing here. Another Friday night, another party with meaningless chitchat, vague passes from men who'd sell their own mothers for a decent day at the brokerage and scathing looks from women who wouldn't be caught dead in anything less than designer labels.
The saving grace was, of course, that she was here with Madison. Karrie had never quite figured out why the two of them kept getting invited to these soirees, given that neither of them were terribly hip, they preferred jeans to Dolce & Gabbana, and they weren't in the same hemisphere when it came to income, but about two years ago, they'd hooked up with marvelously witty book editor Nancy Kragen, and they'd been included ever since.
It was great to have a regular social outlet, and they'd met some terrific women and a few nice men, but lately, the parties had been, well, getting stale.
"You don't believe in this nonsense, do you?" Madison asked, her gaze focused on the door to Sonya's bedroom.
"Of course not."
The door opened and Karrie ducked to get a look at the infamous Madam Zora. Last month, one of the girls had had a candle party, the month beforethat, Madison's friend Elizabeth had thrown a roll-your-own-sushi night. But this had to be the weakest get-together of the year. A psychic? Please. "Are you going to sign up for a reading?"
Madison rolled her eyes. "I'm not wasting my time."
"As if you have anything better to do." Karrie cast a dismal gaze around the room. Women outnumbered the eligible men by three to one. She loved Manhattan but this was getting old. "Come on. We're here. I can't bear to go home yet. You know what night this is, right?"
"Ah, yes. The ever-popular Mr. Warzowski's night for screaming at his wife as he goes through two cases of Rolling Rock beer."
"You've gotta love three-floor walk-ups with paper-thin walls."
"That are more expensive than most five-bedroom houses in any other state."
"But at least the heat doesn't work in the winter and there's none of that noisy air-conditioning in the summer."
Madison nodded and had another big sip of martini. "Girlfriend, it's tough for us young, gorgeous career gals."
Karrie's eyebrows rose. "Gorgeous?" It was true for Madison, of course, with her willowy figure and stunning blond hair. Karrie herself never considered her own looks to be anything more than passable. Her saving grace was that she didn't have to fight the weight battle too much, and that her hair wasn't a disaster, but her mouth was too big, her eyes not big enough, and of course, being around the professionally beautiful women in New York could bruise anyone's ego.
"Hey," Madison said, "if we can't play pretend, I really am leaving."
"Which is exactly why we're going to see Madam Zora."
"Oh, yes. You and I. Together."
Madison shook her head. "I don't know what Sonya was thinking."
"Probably trying to take our mind off the fact that we have a better chance of winning the lottery than we do of getting lucky tonight." Karrie sipped her peach martini and watched a tall woman with dark waist-length hair and red lipstick emerge from the room. Her dramatically made-up eyes widened when Nancy, who looked ravishing, damn her, in a Prada wrap, asked her what happened with the psychic.
"She's amazing. Totally awesome." The woman, who'd never been to one of the regular shindigs, shook her head, her expression a haze of disbelief. "She knew everything about me. Even that I'm engaged."
Madison poked Karrie in the ribs, then nodded at the rock on the woman's finger.
Karrie hid a smile. "Come on, you chicken. What can it hurt?"
"Don't make me do this. I hate this kind of stuff. You know I break out in hives when I'm exposed to too much schlock in one evening."
Karrie laughed, but she wasn't about to ease up on her friend. "Madison, don't be such a wet blanket. Who knows, maybe she's going to see a tall, handsome stranger in your future."
"Okay, so she won't. But do it anyway. Please?"
Madison caught a passing waiter and exchanged her empty glass for another martini.
"You're really not nervous about this?"
"Of course not. It's all nonsense."
Karrie grinned. "Good. Because I put our names down an hour ago. We're next."
Madison glared at her at the same time the door opened and Camilla, of candle party fame, emerged, her face flushed, the sparkle in her eyes an odd mixture of fear and excitement. Which was strange, because Camilla wasn't the type to be snowed by a con game.
Karrie suddenly had second thoughts. Maybe this wasn't such a great idea. What if Madam Zora predicted something bad about Karrie's job? Like that she wouldn't get promoted to Public Relations Director when her boss retired at the end of next year? Or that she'd lose the apartment on Sixth, even though she'd been on the waiting list for over a year.
Her thoughts suddenly turned to her brother, stationed in Germany. If Madam Zora ...
No, it was all twaddle. Pure guff. Nothing but the science of watching people and playing the odds. Psychics kept things so general the facts could fit hundreds of people. Even if Madam Zora guessed Karrie had a brother, she wasn't going to know anything real about him. Now that she thought about it, she hadn't called him in too long, and that was her bad.
Regardless of psychic predictions, his job as an air force pilot wasn't without risk. Like her, he'd been desperate to leave Searchlight where they'd grown up and he'd joined the service the day he was eligible.
Karrie had used a college scholarship to escape the small desert town, and since their mother had remarried and left five years ago, neither of them had returned to Nevada, or the shabby trailer that had provided no privacy, only a lot of shame.
She swallowed and turned back to Madison, who was busy nibbling a blini with a dollop of sour cream and a smidge of caviar. "You don't think she'd predict anything bad, do you?"
Annoying amusement lifted Madison's eyebrows. "Like what?"
"I don't know. Like a death, or something."
Excerpted from Good To Be Bad by Debbi Rawlins Copyright © 2004 by Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd. . Excerpted by permission.
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