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The sequel to In Love with a Younger Man.
A fateful encounter with a savvy young producer lands aspiring writer Olena Day the role of America's bachelorette on the new reality show The One. There are just two problems: Olena despises reality TV, and technically she's not single. What could she possibly hope to gain? A book deal? But Olena's made it clear; she won't resort to the stereotypical antics often portrayed by women on reality TV. But ...
The sequel to In Love with a Younger Man.
A fateful encounter with a savvy young producer lands aspiring writer Olena Day the role of America's bachelorette on the new reality show The One. There are just two problems: Olena despises reality TV, and technically she's not single. What could she possibly hope to gain? A book deal? But Olena's made it clear; she won't resort to the stereotypical antics often portrayed by women on reality TV. But ratings rule and the producers have plans of their own to assure the show's success even if it means exposing some of Olena's long-held and most embarrassing secrets.
Jason Nix is a former NFL superstar turned TV sports commentator. He's been dating Olena off and on for almost a year. Financially, he's set for life, but he isn't happy. When Olena's preoccupation with reality show stardom puts their relationship on the rocks, he meets a young woman from Dallas who captivates him in ways no other woman has. There s something about the makeup-free, Bible-toting Texan that Jason can't seem to get enough of, and soon makes him wonder whether she's too good to be true, or if the real problem is she's not Olena.
Step behind the scenes of the highly competitive and unique world of reality dating shows, in this relationship-driven page-turner that keeps delivering surprises.
It was two-thirty in the afternoon. Godiva Hart was in downtown Atlanta seated at a large oak desk in her office on the thirtieth floor of the Georgia Pacific Tower on Peachtree Street. She'd just finished plucking a Ferrero Rocher chocolate from the cone-shaped shrine inches from her reach, removing the gold foil wrapping and plopping a delicious, cream-filled crunchy wafer with a whole hazelnut in the center into her mouth. At seventy-three calories a pop it was surprising she could maintain her slender figure with as many of the chocolates as she consumed throughout the day. But she needed something to calm her nerves and keep her energized because running a production company was not an easy task. Godiva and her husband Smith had started the company in their hometown of Atlanta seven years earlier. She was just twenty-two and he twenty-three. Together, they didn't have much, but as the cliché goes they had each other and their dreams. His dream was to become a lawyer, the next Johnnie Cochran. Hers wasn't to model herself after anyone, but to become a trailblazer in the ever-popular reality TV genre. As she studied the plans for the six-bedroom, seven-bath French chateau that she and Smith were building in Chastain Park, the north-central Buckhead neighborhood named after the largest city park in Atlanta, it was finally starting to sink in just how much they'd achieved in such a short time. She'd set an hour aside to deal with something personal for a change—their house plans—so that builders would finish on schedule, and she could finally move out of the Rosewood Hotel and into the house her dreams built. A woman burst through Godiva's open office door.
"Deanna, I'm calling the police. You need to leave right now," said Honey, Godiva's personal assistant, as she trailed in after the woman. "Call them. I don't care. I have every right to be here," said Deanna, who was so frail her collarbone popped out like handlebars. She'd had too much work done. The fish lips, Botox, mounds of blond hair extensions, and double-D cups that were too large for her tiny body. Godiva looked up from her house plans.
"I don't have anything to say to you, Deanna. We've already spoken over the phone."
"I was with you from the beginning, and I do mean the very beginning, before anyone even knew who you were. When you only had one show, and you were working out of that tiny apartment on Fairburn. Now, you think because you've moved on up, you can treat me like shit."
Godiva stared right through her and didn't say a word.
"You caught a lucky break," Deanna said, "and that's all it ever was. You used to be a flunky on a music video set, running errands and kissing everybody's ass."
"Are you finished, because I have business to take care of?" Godiva said in a monotone voice as she plucked another piece of candy from her tower of Ferrero Rocher. "I'm the flunky that ended up signing your paychecks."
"You ruined my life! There wouldn't even be a Real Beauty in any other city, if it weren't for me. You got ratings because of me. I was the star, and instead of giving me the spinoff you promised, you decided to crown Gwen Meyers the new Media One reality-show whore."
"Things change, Deanna. No one should live their life on promises."
"You promised me that new show, not Gwen. I was supposed to be the bachelorette, and now I hear that Gwen's not even going to do it, and you're going to recast, for what? It was mine to begin with so just give it to me or at least let me come back to Real Beauty next season. It's the least you can do."
"No one wants to see you fall in love. No one wants to see you, period. Have you checked your Twitter page lately? How many followers have you lost as of today?" "I closed down my Twitter page, but before that, I had over three million followers."
"You closed it down after you lost more than half your followers. Coincidence? I think not."
"You ruined my fuckin' life," Deanna said in tears.
"You ruined your own life, sweetie, with that attitude of yours and the way you treat people. I feel sorry for that man you manipulated into marrying you. Media One paid for your wedding—that elaborate affair you insisted on having. Not only did we pay for it, but we aired the mess, and you divorced him in four months. I should have put a clause in the contract that if the marriage didn't last for at least five years we could get our money back. Do you honestly think America cares about who you fall in love with after that? You and your love life are both jokes. The key to reality TV is believability. When viewers can tell it's fake, you've lost them. And, unfortunately, you've lost them and us. We're tired of dealing with your drama."
"I still have plenty of fans, and I can go on another network."
"Good, that's what you should try and do."
"People still want to know about me. The media contacts my manager every day with interview requests."
"The media," Godiva exclaimed. "You treat the media as if they're you're best friends. You went to them with lies and said we scripted all your drama, and arranged your marriage, after you started reading the nasty comments that viewers wrote on blogs about you. Our writers are good, but not good enough to pen the mess you came up with every season. Don't blame the end of your marriage and popularity on our show. That was all your doing." Godiva turned her attention back toward her house plans. "Now, if you don't mind, I have a French chateau to build."
"Look at me, look up from that stupid paper, and look me in my eyes," she said as she lunged toward Godiva, knocking over her twenty-story Ferrero Rocher tower and clawing for her house plans, which she narrowly missed. Two men from Godiva's production company who doubled as security rushed in to restrain Deanna.
"Still acting for the cameras, I see," Godiva said as one of the men from her security held Deanna around her waist. "Well guess what, Deanna, they're not on, and if they were it wouldn't even matter because viewers are tired of seeing that from you. They're tired of a forty-year-old woman acting like a fifteen-year-old high-school bully. Every week you're in the news talking trash about reality shows, suing a cast member. Either you go, or they go, and we can't have a show with one person, especially one person that no one likes. Now, that's the truth, so deal with it, but don't deal with it here. Go home and deal with it the best way you know how." Godiva dismissed her with a swipe of her hand, and returned to looking over her house plans.
Deanna wiped the tears from her eyes.
"I don't have any money," Deanna said in a near whisper.
Deanna cleared her throat and repeated. "I don't have any money."
"Why don't you? Seasons three and four you made a hundred thousand dollars an episode. Ten episodes, two other seasons where you were paid almost as much, you do the math. I don't know what you did with all your money, but I don't even care."
"I needed it to run my salon."
"Don't you have clients coming through the door?"
"I don't have to explain anything to you—you don't care, remember? I spent it."
"You spent it on a big house and that Bentley, and all the vacations you rush off to. You did that. I didn't. The show didn't."
"I just need another season, one more and that's it. It'll give me a chance to get myself together financially. One more season and put me back on The One like you promised. You owe me that much. I'm begging you," Deanna said as she struggled to kneel down on the floor while being restrained and clasped her hands together as if in prayer. The man removed his grip but stayed close by. "If you have a heart at all, please give me one more season."
"Get off the floor and go get some help, another season is not going to help you. Do you want to go to rehab? Maybe you can get on Celebrity Rehab. Call Dr. Drew."
Deanna struggled to rise, grabbing hold of the pointy end of Godiva's desk. "I'm not on drugs, you fuckin' bitch!"
Godiva darted her hundred-dollar pen, a gift from a studio executive, across the room and stood up.
"Listen to me, you washed up, Botox-injected, bobble-headed bitch. You don't know me. You don't know where I been, or what I been through. You don't even know where I'm from. The fact that I've entertained you this long in my office is a reflection of my kindness and goodwill, but I suggest you leave before I call the police and have them arrest you for trespassing. Unless you want to get on TMZ—in that case, stay."
"I still remember the first time we met to discuss the project. We were at Starbucks. Yep, I still remember that. I guess you don't," Deanna said in a calmer tone. "Let's go," one of the men acting as security said.
"I bet you don't remember that," Deanna yelled as she was led out of Godiva's office, "but I'm going to do something you'll remember. Something you won't ever forget. Watch me!"
Godiva didn't bother to look in Deanna's direction while she was being escorted out of her office. Instead, she plucked up one of the Ferrero Rocher gold-wrapped chocolate-hazelnut balls that had rolled by her foot and started eating it.
"Do you want your door closed?" her assistant asked as she stood clutching the knob.
"No. She won't be back."
* * *
Godiva's day, which started just after six in the morning, ended at ten that night. She was driving north on I-85 when the phone rang. It was her husband, Smith, calling. "Did you hear the news?"
"What did we get the green light on this time?"
"Deanna killed herself."
Godiva's heart fell into her stomach.
"Killed herself, when? I just saw her today—"
"I don't know when it happened, but it was breaking news at ten. She died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. I knew the girl had problems, but damn, I never thought she'd do something like that, you know?"
Go home and deal with it the best way you know how, Godiva thought about the last words she told her.
"Baby, are you still there?" Smith asked.
"I'm here." Her other line clicked. It was Remy, one of the producers of Real Beauty Atlanta, calling about the same thing she was sure. But she didn't want to talk. "I was going to call her tomorrow and offer her The One."
"You were?" Smith asked. "I'm surprised to hear that."
"I was going to talk to you tonight about it, but I was going to offer it to her."
"Well, that's out now. What was she talking about when you saw her earlier?"
"A whole lot, but I wasn't listening to most of it." She didn't tell Deanna to kill herself, but she didn't try to listen to anything she was saying, either. It was done now, and there was nothing she could do to bring her back. "Not to sound insensitive, but who's going to be our bachelorette now?"
"Honey, I wasn't even thinking about that. Deanna's dead. I'm in shock."
"I guess we can talk about it tomorrow then."
"Yeah, let's do that," her husband said, dragging out the words.
True Deanna was dead. But Godiva wasn't. And life still went on.
Excerpted from The One by Cheryl Robinson Copyright © 2012 by Cheryl Robinson . Excerpted by permission of Rose-Colored Books. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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