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"YOU SMELL LIKE a summer garden. All sweet and sultry and made for love."
Calder rolled her eyes. For weeks, Milo Prendergast had tried everything he could think of to get her into bed. Groan-inducing lines he probably culled from an old movie wasn't the key. She knew by now he wouldn't get what he wanted. But he kept trying. And because she was in a dating rut, she let him.
"Today is April 9."
"The season is spring. Not summer."
Milo was a smart man. He graduated near the top of his class at Harvard law school. Calder's sarcasm wasn't lost on him. Especially when she used a big dose to practically hit him over the head.
"I'm aware of the season. You were supposed to take my words metaphorically, not literally." Milo's arm tightened around her waist. "In spite of what you might have heard, romance isn't dead, Calder."
Right. If Milo had an ounce of romance on his mind, Calder's opinion of him might have thawed — a fraction. If was the operative word. As they danced around their tiny segment of the crowded floor, she wondered if he realized how ridiculous he sounded.
Through her eyelashes, Calder glanced at Milo's handsome profile. Years of careful breeding had gone into his genetic makeup. The result? A classically sculpted profile that screamed upper class. Unfortunately, his ancestors had been so focused on how they looked, something was lost from generation to generation.
Milo and the entire Prendergast family lacked a very important trait. Anything that resembled a sense of humor.
"Haven't I proved how much I want you?"
Calder shivered with revulsion when Milo's wet breath washed over her ear. Naturally, he chose to interpret her reaction as passion.
"Why don't we get out of here? Get a hotel room and enjoy the rest of the evening in private. Or we could go back to my place."
Like Calder, Milo still lived in the Upper East Side mansion where he grew up. She stayed to be near her sisters. His reasons were more financial than familial. Either way, the idea of sex with his mother just down the hall wasn't the most effective aphrodisiac.
What Milo didn't know but was about to discover, he could have offered Calder the top of a cleared-out Empire State Building, and she still would have turned him down.
Most of the men she knew — Milo included — believed sex and romance equaled the same thing. A few candlelit dinners. An off-hand compliment or two. And boom. He expected her to fall at his feet.
Calder was tired of the game. She wanted more. What, she wasn't sure. But she knew she wouldn't find the answer getting sweaty with Milo Prendergast
"No to the hotel room? Or my place? I suppose I can borrow Bridge Manfred's apartment for the night. He's out of town a lot." As Milo lowered his voice, he waggled his brows. "Drugs."
Her interest piqued, Calder briefly delayed her need to dump Milo for good.
"Drugs? As in, he takes them? Or he deals them?"
"Both." Milo shot her a toothy smile. "How do you think a man with his lack of education and connections can afford the penthouse in that fancy new mid-town apartment complex?"
Honestly, Calder never thought about Bridge Manfred. Or what he lacked. On the few occasions they'd met, he gave her the willies. An edge of danger was one thing. Handsome in a lanky, stringy haired sort of way, unsavoriness practically oozed from the man's pores.
"He's your friend?" Calder couldn't form a picture of Milo and Bridge hanging out.
"Hardly," Milo scoffed. "In exchange for a few goodies, Bridge gets invited to parties. We call him our recreational advisor."
Milo seemed to find the moniker hilarious. Calder found the entire situation sad. Sad that people she'd grown up with needed illegal substances to have fun. Even sadder, Bridge Manfred was like an unpopular little boy who could only get friends if he let them play with his bigger and better toys. Or drugs, as the case may be.
"Hey. Your mom's here. And looking hot."
The change of subject was abrupt. But Calder couldn't say Milo's declaration was unexpected.
"Mom is a social animal. If there are people, she will come."
"Hmm. Tight black leather skirt. Low-cut blouse. She knows how to get a man's attention."
Billie was a perpetual flirt. And she considered any male to be fair game. A fact Calder and her sisters learned at an early age. Their mother never willfully attempted to seduce her daughters' potential boyfriends. She simply couldn't help herself. Like breathing in and out.
"Wow. Billie hooked herself a big fish."
Without turning to look, Calder had to smile. A new man? What else was new?
"I've been angling to meet Ingo Hunter for over a year. Maybe your mom will introduce me."
Calder's mouth went dry.
"Did you say Ingo Hunter?" She prayed she'd heard wrong. She craned her neck around. Well, crap. No such luck.
"Why don't we invite them to our table for a drink?"
Not in this lifetime. Or any other. Ingo Hunter was a sleazy creep in a five-thousand-dollar suit. Money and a veneer of charm couldn't hide the slime. Of all the men in New York, why did Billie have to date him?
As soon as Calder asked herself the question, she knew the answer. Because after almost fifty years of man eating, wealthy, socially acceptable men were harder and harder to come by.
"Calder? Shall we invite them over?"
"Okay." For once, Milo was smart enough not to push. "What did you decide? A hotel room? My place? Bridge's?"
"None of the above. I'm done. Tonight. Tomorrow. Forever."
Calder left Milo on the dance floor, the song still playing. She weaved her way through the crowd toward the exit, stopping just long enough to grab her jacket. The trouble with hotspot nightclubs, she decided when she finally inhaled a breath of fresh air — or as fresh as the city provided — too many bodies. Not enough square footage.
"What are you talking about, Calder?" Milo grabbed her arm before she could hail a passing cab. "You're done? Done with what?"
Annoyed when someone else grabbed her ride, Calder tried to tug her arm free. Milo held firm, the grasp of his lily-white hand surprisingly strong.
"I left you alone on a dance floor. Left the building. How much clearer do I need to make myself? We don't suit, Milo. In any way."
"I don't like you."
"What the hell does like have to do with anything?" Milo's smile became predatory. "I want to fuck you, not be your friend."
Milo had dropped all pretense of charm. Which was fine with Calder. The ugly truth was always better than prettied-up lies.
"I don't want your hands on me. Ever again. Let go." Calder glanced at her arm. And his white-knuckle grip. "Now."
Before Calder could respond with a swift kick to his nuts, his hand fell away. A bouncer from the club held Milo by the front of his tailored shirt. Tall, a black t-shirt hugging his well-muscled torso, and with the bluest eyes she'd ever seen.
The man didn't raise his voice, but the tone — deep and commanding — sent a shiver down Calder's spine.
"When a lady tells you to let her go, you better do as she asks. Understood?"
"Do you know who I am, you Neanderthal?" Milo struggled to get free — to no avail. "I can have your job before you blink."
One side of the man's lips quirked upward.
"You want my job?" he chuckled without humor. "Be my guest. But I warn you, what I do is more often a headache than a pleasure."
"Listen, Jackass —"
The man tightened his hold, turning Milo's insult in to a high-pitched squeak.
"The name's Adam."
"Jesus Christ. Why the hell would I give a fuck what your name is." Despite his precarious situation, Milo's chest puffed out with self-importance. "I could buy and sell you in a heartbeat. Asshole."
"Last time I checked, slavery had been abolished. Though guys like you seem to think the rules don't apply if your bank accounts are fat enough. You think money makes you invincible. Above the law." An expression of disgust on his face, the man pushed Milo away. "Leave. Before I ram your peroxide-whitened teeth down your throat."
Shoulders back, Milo straightened his jacket as he gathered what pride he had left — which wasn't much in Calder's estimation. He raised his chin and held out his hand.
Stunned by the man's gall, Calder's brain searched for a scathing put-down.
"I don't think so."
Hardly the burn she would have liked. She wished she had her sister's ability to turn a phrase. If Bryce was here, she'd have something pithy, to the point, and memorable to send Milo on his way.
Oh, well. Since Calder doubted anybody planned to record their exchange for posterity, I don't think so would have to do.
"You heard the lady. Evening's over. Be on your way."
"Calder." Milo took a step toward her only to find his way blocked by a much bigger, much fitter body. Frustrated, he ground out his words through clenched teeth. "If I leave without you, we're finished. Understand? When you come crawling back, I won't do anything but step over your pathetic body."
"For the love of ..." Calder sighed. She had to start dating a better class of men. "I broke up with you, Milo. And for the record, I don't crawl. Ever."
"Why you ..."
Calder would have decked him. Honestly. With blood in her eyes, fist clenched, she would have slipped off her four-inch heels and run him down. Probably for the better, her rescuer grabbed her arm before she could take chase as Milo wisely skittered away like the cockroach he'd turned out to be.
"Not worth the effort." The man dropped her arm, apparently convinced Calder had figured out the same thing for herself.
Adam, Calder recalled. He said his name was Adam. Even in heels, Calder had to raise her gaze to look the man in the eyes. She swallowed. He was kind of pretty for a tough guy. His features fit together in a pattern designed to make a woman's pulse spike by a couple dozen beats.
Silly, since he was a stranger. Yet, Calder wondered if he felt the same attraction.
In her experience, men found her appealing to look at. Dark hair liberally laced with natural auburn highlights. Deep, chocolate-colored eyes. A tall, slim body that since she hit puberty never crossed over into skinny. Tonight, she wore a silky teal-blue dress designed to show off what she considered her best features. Long, toned legs.
Yes, men tended to give her a second glance. But the man in front of her didn't seem the least bit impressed.
"Do you want to call somebody to pick you up? Or should I hail you a cab?"
Mildly disappointed to discover her case of instant attraction didn't flow both ways, Calder slid her arm into the sleeve of her beaded evening jacket. To her surprise, Adam reached out to help.
"Thank you. For everything." Calder smiled. If she expected a response, she was sorely disappointed. His lids narrowed slightly over his intensely blue eyes, but his expression remained neutral. Not even a twitch of his lips.
"Phone call or cab?"
"Cab. But I'm perfectly capable of getting my own."
Without a word, Adam raised a hand. As if by magic, a cab stopped at the curb out of nowhere. Handy trick, Calder thought. And under the circumstances, slightly annoying. He opened the door and motioned for her to enter.
Calder was perplexed. The last thing she expected was for every man she met to drool over her. Heaven knew she'd experienced a case or two of unrequited attraction. Her ego had survived quite nicely. So why did this man's lack of interest rankle when others were so easily forgotten?
Once in the cab, Calder turned, ready to thank Adam again.
"About Milo? I want to —"
"You should rethink your taste in men." Adam, one hand on the roof of the car, the other on the door, leaned in until their eyes were level.
Calder's back stiffened, more with surprise than anger.
"You don't know me well enough to judge my taste. Good or bad."
"Is Milo a typical sample size?"
"Well ..." Unfortunately, Milo was all too typical of the men Calder dated.
As her back went from stiff to rigid, surprise morphed into anger. Of all the nerve, Calder fumed. Giving her unsolicited advice. Self-important jerk. Though she had to admit — if only to herself — he was right. She needed to rethink her taste in men. Starting with him. Arms crossed, she swiveled her gaze to the back of the cabbie's head.
"Good night. Adam," she said in her best screw you tone.
"Good night. Calder."
He shut the door but not before the unmistakable sound of his deep chuckle filled the cab. Stone faced through most of their encounter, he chose to leave her with a mocking laugh? What the hell? Who did this man think he was?
Sexy only masked so many sins. And in Calder's book, Adam's appeal had all but disappeared in a puff of arrogance.
"Where you headed, lady?"
Calder rattled off her address. And proceeded to fume from Tribeca all the way uptown.
CALDER STUMBLED OUT of bed — hardly an unusual occurrence. She wasn't a morning person.
Once, in her younger days, she tried to change her sleep patterns. Early to bed, early to rise — and all that nonsense. Her good intentions lasted exactly two weeks. She could have stuck to the routine. And been miserable. Instead, she gave into her true, night owl nature, happy to stay up, rather than get up, to watch the sunrise.
After she brushed her teeth and washed her face — an absolute must before she could function — Calder slipped on her robe — a match to the blue silk nighty she'd donned before falling into bed. Without a glance in the mirror, she piled her hair into what barely passed for a topknot, and padded from the room.
Funny thing about living in a genuine, bona fide Manhattan mansion since birth. As much as Calder loved the building, cherished the memories, luxuriated in the comfort? Most days, she didn't notice the little details.
Purchased by Calder's great-grandfather, Orville Benedict, in the late nineteenth century, the building sported six floors. The elevator — added after World War II — serviced a library, several offices, eighteen bathrooms, and enough bedrooms for a small army — or at the very least a platoon.
Near the top of a long, winding staircase, Calder stopped as the light from a large stained-glass window bounced off her hand. When she was little, the different colors fascinated her. As an adult, they still did. However, always on the go, she rarely stopped long enough to admire the effect.
The polished Brazilian Cherry floors covered every inch of the mansion. Top to bottom. Except for the tiled bathroom. And stained cement basement where nobody but the maids and handymen spent much time.
At the bottom of the stairs, Calder's bare toes dug into the plush Persian rug. Woven over a century ago, the muted blues and greens fit the size of the foyer as if made specifically.
Mind bogglingly expensive pieces of art, painted by long-dead artists, hung on every tastefully painted wall. Sculptures. Prized pieces, small and large, decorated antique tabletops.
Immaculate and perfectly maintained, at a glance, a casual observer might think they'd entered a museum. However, to Calder and her sisters, the brick and mortar, marble and glass, and everything inside, was simply home.
Then, unbidden, she remembered the man from the night before and the words he spoke to Milo.
You think money makes you invincible. Above the law.
Said with such contempt, Calder wondered if Adam would spew the same words at her if he could see her now. Probably. But, damn it, he didn't know anything about her. How dare he judge? How dare he —?
Calder groaned. She'd convinced herself she'd put her encounter with Adam out of her head. Seemed he and his piercing blue eyes were harder to forget than she could have anticipated.
"Jerk," Calder muttered. Unfortunately, for a house with so many rooms, somebody — and their big ears — always seemed to lurk around the corner.
"If you mean Milo Prendergast, I concur. Wholeheartedly."
Andi, her burnished gold hair fashioned into a perfect French twist, entered the foyer from the direction of the downstairs office. Spiked heels clicked her arrival as her long legs quickly ate up the distance across the room.
From her fall fashion line, the outfit Andi wore was perfect for the working woman who insisted on the latest in haute couture. An immaculately tailored coral-colored pencil skirt, silk blouse, and jacket in a slightly darker contrasting shade showed off the best of her svelte figure.
Excerpted from "One Way or Another"
Copyright © 2018 Mary J. Williams.
Excerpted by permission of Brook Publications.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Wonderful This was a great beginning to this story. Can't wait to find out what with the rest of the sisters. But I think the love story between Calder & Adam is really great. Just have to get rid of mom's boyfriend.
What a great way to start a series I just love these sisters and this author. I would hate to have people only care about me for what I am worth. The train wrecks parents I have no trouble relating to them since mine was one as well. Even in a normal life you still don’t know who likes you for who you are, who will turn on your and you will use you. For me this was a touching read as I read how the sisters handle their issues dealing with people and learning to see the ones they can trust from the ones they can’t. I really enjoyed this book the characters are wonderful the plot is great it pulls you in taking you way. Calder and Adam lives have been so totally different from their home life to their friends. They both come together through a charity that Calder runs. I love the unique way the author writes this bring the characters to life making you feel their emotions. The read is hot and the steam is hotter, the chemistry is fanatic. They are so different but so much alike. I enjoyed the buildup of the romance, getting to know all the sisters and how they support each other. You can feel their love. I didn’t care for their mother at all once you read it you will understand. But you aren’t supposed to like her. Just shaking my head at how she deals with life. The story is hot, sexy, and loving. These characters stole my heart with a story I could not put down. I can’t wait for the next one in the series. You don’t want to miss one single part of this outstanding read.
This book is the first that I have read from Mary J. Williams. I was definitely no disappointed. This book was full of fun, love, excitement and romance. It also had some twists and turns and suspense. Everything that kept you wanting to not put the book down. I really enjoyed the 4 sister’s relationship and the bond they had with each other. I would definitely recommend this book and I am waiting impatiently for the second book to come out.
The first novel in a new series – The Sisters Quartet- One Way or Another sets up the characters, plot and theme for future titles in the series. The four Benedict sisters share the same mother, but all have different fathers. Raised by a self-absorbed mother in the family mansion in New York City, the sisters are dedicated to each other. One Way or Another is the story of Calder Benedict and Adam Stone. While they grew up in totally different environments, they both are drawn to authentic honest people. Calder runs a charity she began called Annabelle’s Angels to help children in need. Adam is a “facilitator” of sorts. Both are highly successful in their fields. Billie Benedict, mother of the Benedict Sisters has a new love in her life. Ingo Hunter is a fortune-hunter who has previously propositioned each of the sisters. The sisters and their love for each other is endearing. Some of the book is very stereotypical of novels with wealthy main characters, yet I was hooked into the story. The characters show unique traits. I’m looking forward to other books in the series. The stories of the other Benedict sisters should prove interesting.
I am so glad this is book ONE in this new series, One Way or Another (The Sisters Quartet Book 1). The Benedict family is rich and you might expect the daughters to be spoiled. This is the furthest thing from the truth. All four of them, Calder, Andi, Bryce, and Destry Benedict, are looking to make a difference in the world. They are a very close knit group since they had to depend on each other as they were growing up. Their mom seems to be the furthest thing from a nurturing parent. They do have Mrs. Finch, their housekeeper and mother figure, to keep them grounded. Calder meets Adam and he gets the impression that due to her wealth and her affluent background, they have nothing in common. Not true, and what transpires is a great love story. Adam doesn't only have to win Calder's love, he must show her sisters that he's the one for their sister. Good plot and you learn much about the family history and how the girls were named early on. Add in a bit of biological intrigue and you get a very interesting book!
A Review of One Way Or Another by Mary J. Williams Calder and Adam - 5 Stars This is the first book I have had the opportunity to read by this new-to-me author and I absolutely LOVED it. The fact that it is the first book in a series of four, one for each of these four sisters, has me really excited. These four girls may have money, but they really didn't have much luck in the parental lottery. There are twists and turns, vicious manipulators and possibly a love beyond belief. You really want to pick this one up at your earliest convenience. Hopefully the next book will be out soon! **Honest review voluntarily provided from a Complimentary Copy**
Wow! Another wonderful new series by gifted author Mary J. Williams! This is the first in a series of four books: each book is about one of four very close, loving, fiercely loyal sisters. One Way or Another is Calder's story. Calder is independent, successful, rich-- and wary of uncaring, gold-digging men. She has good reason, her father is one. Thank goodness for the love of sisters, because she gets none from her fluff of a mother. Calder is not looking for love, never thinking she'll find it. But then she meets Adam. Adam comes from a poor, difficult past. He has worked hard for the money he now enjoys. He has no interest in spoiled, rich women. When they meet, there is attraction. As they spend time together, fun and attraction becomes more. Could this be love? Does he feel the same, or is he just after her money? Can she trust her heart, can she trust him? I loved this story and can't wait to read all of the other sisters' adventures in love! I was gifted this book and wrote this review of my own choice.
Early on, I kept thinking this is Pride and Prejudice meets Gossip Girl. It’s perfect for someone who likes the language of a historical romance, but the conveniences of the modern world. But it is not a stand-alone novel in my mind (well Calder’s story ends, but it merely sets up a longer story), so if you like a story that moves along and wraps up at the end, this is not the book for you. I loved the origin story of the sisters’ relationship and names, and would have liked that to play more into the plot. If you’re looking for boy meets strong, independent girl; they have lots of sex; girl totally acts out of character by suddenly not trusting boy; but everything ends happily ever after – this is the book for you.