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JANE LANGSTON WAS eight years old when she first understood the biological advantages of being skinny and blond. Neither particularly thin nor fair-headed, she saw her place in the world that day, upon observing the astounding differences between herself and her Barbie doll. She'd been enacting a romantic tryst between Barbie and Ken when the realization struck that she and her longlegged plastic companion could hardly be the same species of female, and that Jane, with her tomboy figure and wiry brown hair, was the less desirable of the two.
Even now, at the supposedly enlightened age of thirty, sitting in a room next to two outrageously proportioned blond porn stars didn't exactly soothe Jane's ego. It was only a slight comfort that both women claimed to be lesbians.
How she'd found herself here in the waiting room of The Jax Reed Show was a longer story than Jane cared to recall. Jax Reed was Dallas's crude, loudmouthed, lesbian-loving shock jock, and Jane was about to be interviewed to promote her book, The Sex Factor. Her publicist claimed she was the one woman who could put Jax Reed in his place, but Jane, sitting near four of the largest breasts she'd ever seen, had her doubts.
A producer wearing headphones appeared in the doorway, pointed to Jane, and said, "You're up in three minutes. Come on into the studio."
With her stomach clenched into a tennis ball, Jane rose and followed. Gina Lynn and Mona Rivers wished her luck as she left the waiting room.
The radio show was playing live over speakers throughout the building, and Jane listened to Jax introduce her as his next guest after the commercial break.
"She's the author of that crazy book chicks everywhere are reading, The Sex Factor. So listen up, guys, if you've got a bone to pick - no pun intended - with the woman who's single-handedly ruined the sex lives of men across America, here's your chance to call in."
Oh, joy. As if she hadn't taken enough criticism, now she'd get to do it on live radio.
Jane had never intended to become the guru of bornagain virginity. Until a few months ago, she'd simply been a normal writer with a largely anonymous existence. Sure, some people knew her as the infamous tell-it-likeit-is advice columnist for Excess magazine. But her infamy had been limited mostly to readers of her column, and the occasional angry letters she received had always been good for a laugh.
The readership of Excess - a magazine devoted to pressing men's issues like who the hottest starlets are, which cars are the fastest and how to improve sexual performance - was made up of enough boneheads to inspire any woman to write The Sex Factor. She'd simply written a book that told women exactly how they were screwing up their lives through sexual relationships, and how to remedy the problem.
The Sex Factor had touched a nerve among twentyand thirty-something women, and it had encountered dizzying success, spawning a nationwide movement of women saying no to sex with their boyfriends. That might not have been so disturbing if it weren't for the legion of angry boyfriends left alone in their beds.
Jane had heard from more than her share of them. In fact, her hate mail rarely caused her to laugh these days.
She entered the studio and sat down in a chair across from Jax Reed. Twenty pounds overweight, with long, greasy blond hair and perpetual sunglasses, he was the epitome of a guy with thwarted rock-star dreams.
He nodded a greeting while an assistant talked to him about upcoming segments, and Jane adjusted the headphones the producer had given her until they were comfortable.
"Today we're talking to Jane Langston, columnist for Excess magazine and author of the controversial book, The Sex Factor. Hey, Jane."
"Hi, Jax." Jane tucked her hands between her knees to keep from fidgeting, and reminded herself to breathe.
She could handle this guy. Although she didn't admit it often, Jane listened to The Jax Reed Show while she was reading her e-mail in the morning. And she'd imagined a thousand times how she'd respond to him if she were ever on the show herself. He loved to turn everything into a conversation about sex, the raunchier, the better. Jane knew the trick to handling Jax was never to let him shock her, and to play along with his game.
In his usual fashion, he skipped over the pleasantries. "Okay, given the message of your book, I gotta ask - are you a lesbian?"
"Not last time I checked."
"Hmm, too bad."
"Sorry to disappoint."
He looked her up and down. "You're pretty cute, you know. Ever thought about having sex on the radio?"
"What makes you think I haven't already?" Jane said, hoping she sounded braver than she felt.
Jax snickered. "Touche, but anyway, go ahead and give us a summary of your book, just in case there's some hermit out there listening to the show who hasn't yet developed a case of blue balls thanks to you."
"If any guy has blue balls, he has himself to thank. The Sex Factor is simply a realistic look at sexual roles. I think I'm just the first person in a long time to be honest about how sex can ruin a relationship."
Jax wiggled his eyebrows. "Baby, I can show you how sex will make a relationship."
"I'll bet you could." She laughed. "But seriously, since the sexual revolution, women have learned to believe that we should behave like men with regard to sex, that we should want no-strings-attached sex, that we shouldn't use sex to gain power in relationships, and I argue that the opposite is true.
"Given that men are led around by their penises, a woman's number-one strength in any romantic relationship is her ability to give or withhold sex, and if we give sex freely, we essentially give away our greatest power."
Jax burped into the microphone. "Okay, I'm not disagreeing with you there. Problem is, my listeners aren't getting laid. What're they supposed to do about that?"
"Um, get over it?"
"Ooh, harsh. I'd like to hear what some of my listeners have to say to that. We have a caller on line one. It's Carl from Fort Worth. What do you say, Carl?"
"Yeah, Jax. I love your show, man! And I just gotta tell this Jane chick, what're you thinking? My girl says she can't have sex with me any more until I start meeting her emotional needs or some garbage."
Guys like Carl were what had led Jane to decide celibacy wasn't such a bad idea.
"So find out what her emotional needs are and meet them. How hard is that?"
"Damn hard when I'm not getting any action in bed."
Jax cut in. "Carl, you're boring me. Next caller is Tom in Dallas. How's it going, Tom?"
Excerpted from What A Girl Wants by Jamie Sobrato Copyright © 2003 by Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.. Excerpted by permission.
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Posted March 19, 2012
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