The Man Tamer

By Gordon Sims,2014-11-04 18:25
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Product `desc`riptionThere's not a man Rachel Westover can't tame. Or at least transform from a sloppy, sports-loving, self-absorbed male into the perfect mate. Then she meets Garret Kelly, aka The Wild Man. Talk about a challenge - in a gorgeous package, no less. Can her behavior-modification techniques take on a guy this set in his rumpled and surprisingly irresistible ways? Rachel's hormones, er, ambitions, are jumping at the chance. If she succeeds in domesticating Garret, she gets her own TV show. If she fails...well, failure isn't an option. Sure, he's more resistant than she expected. And withholding pleasure as punishment affects her so much, she's abandoned that strategy. But she's determined one of them is going to their knees. She just hopes it Published by Harlequin on 2007/04/30




     CHAPTER 1

     Why Man Taming Works?

     Dear Man Tamer:

     You are so full of it! I can't believe you're telling all these women they can train a manlike a dog. How could you ever believe your so-called methods would work on a real man? A Real


     Dear Real Man:

     The Man-Taming principles work because they're based on tried-and-true methods of BehaviorModification. Behavior modification has been used successfully for decades for everything from,yes, dog training to helping people quit smoking. And it works for helping men break the badhabits they've developed over the years, too. I have hundreds of letters from satisfied readers

     to prove it. The Man Tamer


     Rachel Westover's second-most favorite thing in the world was chocolate-covered strawberries.

     favorite thing wasn't something she could do in public, she was happy toSince her most

    see the strawberries prominently displayed on the buffet table at Denton Morrison's annual bragparty. The media mogul and all-around rich guy made it a point to throw a party for himselfevery year to celebrate his accomplishments and to show off his latest project for the press.

     Rachel's plan for the evening was to corral Denton at some point and ask him—again—abouther proposal to fill the vacant slot in the afternoon local programming block of KTXK, thetelevision station he owned. After all, as the most popular columnist in the history of Belinda magazine—another Denton Morrison holding—it was time she expanded her audience totelevision. Chocolate-covered strawberries were the perfect fuel to prepare her for herencounter with "Mr. Money" Morrison.

     Anticipating that first luscious bite, she transferred three of the largest berries to herplate. They were the size of eggs and coated in dark chocolate. Yummmmmm .

     "Have you talked to him yet? What did he say?"

     Rachel looked up from the strawberries to her best friend, Moira Stapleton, who was hurryingtoward her from the other end of the buffet table. “Did he say yes? Did he give you theafternoon time slot?" Moira asked as she skidded to a stop in front of Rachel. Five foot twoinches, with a cloud of dark curls and Barbie eyes, Moira reminded Rachel of a nervouspoodle.

     "I haven't talked to Denton yet. I'm working up the nerve." She nodded to her plate.

     Moira's eyes widened. "Oooh, those look yummy. And fattening." She pressed her lips

    together, resisting temptation. Moira lived off black coffee, water and sushi, and itshowed. She wore a size zero. If she weren't so much fun Rachel might have been tempted to snapher in two like the twig she was.

     Moira rose up on tiptoe and scanned the crowd. 'Have you seen David? He was supposed to meetme here."

     "I haven't seen him, but I just got here myself." David Brewer was an accountant at MorrisonEnterprises and Moira's erstwhile boyfriend.

     "You don't think he's going to stand me up again, do you?" Deep worry lines formed aboveMoira's nose. "He's so absent minded. He'll get to working on his car or watching a game andthe next thing you know, he's forgotten all about me."

     Rachel thought a man in love ought to be more considerate than that. What did it say aboutthe depth of his feelings if replacing spark plugs or counting touchdowns could make him forgethis soul male? “Have you been trying any of my techniques?" she asked.

     The worry lines deepened. "I tried, but I guess I'm not very good at discipline. I mean, helooks at me with those big brown eyes and I melt. I just want to be with him, you know?"

     "I know." Rachel patted her friend's shoulder. "But remember, you're the woman. It's up toyou to set the tone for the relationship. And those techniques have been proven to work. Do youstill have the list?"

     "Yes." Moira opened her purse and began digging through it. She came up with a crumpledcomputer printout. "One, teach by example," she read. "Two, praise good behavior. Three,distract from bad behavior. Four, substitution—replace bad behavior with something else. Five,reprimand bad behavior. Six, withhold affection until he behaves properly. Seven, punish badbehavior. Eight, restrict unwanted behavior. Nine, reward good behavior, and ten, acceptance—alast resort." She looked up at Rachel. 'Maybe I'm at number ten. I mean, you can't reallychange people, can you?"

     "Behavior modification isn't about changing him," Rachel said. "Only the way he acts."

     "Isn't that the same thing?"

     "Of course, not. He'll still be the man you love, only better."

     Moira stuffed the list back into her purse. "I don't know. I mean, this man-taming stuff maywork for some of your readers, but maybe every man doesn't respond to this kind of thing."

     Rachel shook her head. "I don't believe that. You just have to keep working at it."

     "No offense, but if they work so great, why are you still single?"

     Rachel had heard the question so often now she didn't even flinch. "You know why. Since myMan Tamer column became so popular, I can't find a man who'll risk dating me." If she was luckyenough to find a guy who hadn't heard of her column, after a date or two one of his friendstipped him off and he disappeared.

     Not to mention so many of the men she met were so, well, bland. They were handsome,

    professional, with money and manners and plenty of opinions, but with no real spark. Where werethe debonair, charming and sophisticated men with polish and personality?

     The last guy she'd dated had even accused her of being too cool—but what did he expect whenhe did nothing to raise her temperature?

     "Men don't want to be tamed," Moira said. She grinned. 'They're all afraid of you."

     "It's just the name of my column. It doesn't mean I go after men with a whip."

     Moira giggled. "You might try it sometime. Some guys really go for that sort of thing." Sheleaned in closer and lowered her voice. "Your sister's here."

     Rachel flinched. "Where?” Rhonda Westover Mac-Millan—Mrs. Harrison MacMillan—could neverforget her role as big sister, which to her way of thinking gave her carte blanche to runRachel's life.

     "Over by the door to the terrace. With that group of men."

     Of course Rhonda was with a group of men. The hairier sex had panted after her ever since shewas a toddler in ruffled panties in nursery school, where she would bat her eyelashes andlittle boys would vie to share their afternoon animal crackers with her.

     Rachel studied her sister now as she held court over five men in black suits, like somelounge singer with her backup group. Clinging close to her side was Harrison MacMillan himself,fifteen years older and many times richer than Rhonda. But of course, all that money wasRhonda's now, and Rhonda made sure plenty of it was spent on keeping up her fabulous face andfigure, not to mention endowing numerous charities and throwing lavish parties, all of whichserved to keep her name in the paper as one of Dallas 's most famous socialites.

     Which explained what she was doing at Denton 's big shindig. The two ran in the samecircles, though they weren't exactly friends.

     What would Rhonda say when little sister had her own television show? Rachel wondered. Thefirst time a member of the public recognized Rachel before Rhonda, big sister would have to buyout Nieman Marcus to assuage her wounded ego.

     Frankly, Rachel couldn't wait.

     "Are you going to go over and say hello?" Moira asked.

     Rachel shrugged. "I wouldn't want to interrupt." Besides, Rhonda was sure to seek her out, ifonly to offer some bit of sisterly wisdom. Last time they'd met, Rachel had endured a lectureon the evils of cheap shoes. Never mind that they were at a backyard barbecue. Rachel had worna pair of funky flip-flops, decorated with rhinestones and feathers. Rhonda, teetering onsilver high-heeled sandals, swore her little sister was going to ruin her feet or—worse—get areputation for being tacky. "I'm sure we'll bump into each other sooner or later." But notif Rachel could avoid it.

     Moira was no longer listening. She was staring toward the door, her expression lightened."There's David. I'll catch up with you later."

     She darted off after her man, leaving Rachel alone with her strawberries. The chocolate hadsoftened a little on her plate, but that would mate them all the more decadent.

     She lifted a fat berry by the stem and shut her eyes. Her mouth closed over the treat and shetook the first bite, sweet juice and velvety cocoa mingling in her mouth. She moaned alittle at the positively orgasmic mix of luscious strawberry and rich, smooth chocolate.

     "Excuse me, waiter," said a masculine voice at her elbow. "I'll have what she's having."

     Rachel's eyes snapped open and she stared at the man who'd interrupted her moment ofindulgence. Tall and muscular, he managed to look rough-around-the-edges in spite of histailored blue suit. His gold-streaked brown hair needed a trim and the stubble along hischiseled jaw testified to the fact that it had been a few days since he'd used a razor. Hesmelled of expensive aftershave and leather, an intoxicating combination even though heobviously wasn't Rachel's type. She preferred someone more sophisticated, less...rugged.

     Of course, right now rugged didn't sound so bad. She was a woman who hadn't had a seriousrelationship in fourteen months, two weeks and three days. But who was counting?

     "Don't let me stop you," the man said in a definite Aussie drawl. "I'm quite enjoyin ' theshow."

     Rachel managed to swallow the rest of the bite of strawberry and looked for somewhere tostash her plate for safekeeping. Whether it was the warmth of the room, or the heat that hadswept through her upon locking eyes with the gorgeous Neanderthal in front of her, chocolatehad melted all over her fingers and was running down her hand. "Where are the napkins?" sheasked.

     "Don't see any," the hunk said, not bothering to look around. His blue eyes telegraphed hisamusement at the whole situation.

     "There have to be napkins somewhere!" She looked around, frantic. The chocolate was in dangerof dripping either onto her white silk dress or the white Berber carpeting. But of course therewasn't so much as a cocktail square anywhere in sight.

     She was debating wiping her hands on the white linen tablecloth when the hunk spoke up again."Might be I can help."

     Before Rachel could protest, he took hold of her wrist and brought her fingers to his mouth.As she gaped at him, he began licking the chocolate from her fingers.

     She froze at the first touch of his tongue and stared at him, heart pounding. Was this guyfor real? They didn't even know each other and he was taking these kinds of liberties.

    Worse, as his tongue caressed her skin she began to feel weak in the knees and seriously turnedon.

     How pathetic was it that a total stranger could make her this hot? Granted, he was a gorgeousspecimen who practically oozed testosterone, but if she hadn't been so socially deprived oflate surely she would have told him where to get off instead of melting into a puddle at hisfeet like this.

     In the meantime he kept licking the chocolate from her fingers. Hot velvety tongue glidingover sensitive nerve endings, sending sparks of sensation traveling through her until her wholebody practically quivered. She wanted to steady herself with her free hand on his broad,muscular shoulder, but she was powerless to do anything but breathe hard.

     When all the chocolate was gone he released her and they stood staring at each other. Helooted almost as dazed as she felt, and as his gaze continued to bore into her she becameaware of a warm flush washing over her cheeks. Here was a man who had definitely raised hertemperature—too much. She had important business to think about this evening. She couldn'tafford to be distracted by a good-looking stranger—no matter how lust-worthy.

     "I—I can't believe you did that," she stammered, tearing her eyes away from him andattempting to regain her composure.

     "Must be the champagne." He took a step back and rated a hand through his hair, onlysucceeding in adding to his sexy, just-rolled-out-of-bed look. "Where's a decent beer when youneed one?"

     Rachel eyed the plate of strawberries, wondering if she dared risk finishing them. She really

     needed chocolate about now. Maybe when Mr. Gorgeous left.... "I think there's a keg in thecorner," she said.

     beer." He made a face. "Not that American piss. I mean a real

     The conviction in his voice almost made her laugh. "Let me guess—you mean an Australian


     "Accent gave me away, did it?" He grinned. His middle upper tooth was slightly crooked, as ifit had been knocked loose at some point and never quite fixed in place. Rachel's stomachfluttered. Since when had crooked teeth been sexy? Obviously, since now.

     "Who are you?" she asked. Despite the suit, he didn't remotely resemble the usual cadre ofexecutives associated with Denton Morrison.

     "Name's Garret Kelly." He offered his hand. A large, warm hand that engulfed hers. Hisgrin widened. "Oops, feels l ike I missed a spot." He held up her hand for inspection."There it is, right by your thumb."

     Before she could protest, he bent his head low and drew her thumb into his mouth. This time,she did brace herself with a hand to his shoulder. She was dimly aware she was losing itbadly—losing her dignity and focus and all those things she prided herself on. But shecouldn't seem to help it. Brash, brawny Garret Kelly—and his amazing tongue—had positivelybewitched her.

     He was doing more incredible things to her with his tongue when an all too familiar voiceboomed in her ear. "I'm glad you two are getting to know each other, but do you think you couldcontain yourselves until you're alone?"

     Rachel jerked her hand from Garret's grasp and jumped back, bumping into the buffet table,china and crystal chiming. "Mr. Morrison! This isn't what you think!"

     With his shaved head, single gold earring and suit tailored to hide his paunch, DentonMorrison resembled a genie turned corporate kingpin. Now he was grinning like a genie wacked out on fairy dust. "I think it's perfect!" he chortled. "The press will love it."

     Rachel's stomach sank to somewhere around her knees. Not a good sign that Denton was sogleeful. The only thing the billionaire liked better than money was publicity. She didn't wantto think what kind of angle he'd play with her and this Aussie Adonis. She glanced at the plateof strawberries longingly. What she wouldn't give for another chocolate fix—alone.

     Garret kept a grin fixed on his face while stifling a groan. He could blame his impulsivebehavior on the champagne, but he'd only had one glass. Part of the credit had to go to the sheila in front of him. If she could be that passionate about a strawberry, imagine what she'dbe like in bed.

     What could he say? He was a man who had a great appreciation for the female sex. Particularly females with long tanned legs and abundant blond hair and curves in all the rightplaces. Women who tasted of chocolate and smelled of expensive perfume, whose skin slid likesatin against his mouth.

     He shifted his stance, an inconvenient hard-on making him glad he'd worn fuller-cut trousers.

     He glanced at the woman again and noticed the worried look she was shooting at Denton .She was exactly the kind of woman Denton went for, he realized with a frown. He hoped thisone wasn't another of Denton 's trophies, though since she was at his party, odds were shewas. She certainly looked guilty enough over being caught with him.

     "Rachel Westover and Wild Man Kelly—why didn't I think of it before?" Denton slappedGarret on the back. The billionaire was grinning like a manic clown. Garret's bullshit meterwas pegged all the way to the right. What was Denton up to?

     "Wild Man Kelly?" The woman—Rachel—had regained her poise and now studied him with a newskepticism in her green eyes. Garret's frown deepened. He detested the nickname Denton had

    saddled him with, but it had already caught on with the press, so he was trying to learn tolive with it.

     "You're looking at the star player on the new Dallas Devils lacrosse team," Dentonannounced, slapping Garret on the back again.

     Garret glared at Denton . Try that one more time, mate. ...

     "Lacrosse?" Rachel looked puzzled.

     "Indoor lacrosse," Denton said. "Fastest growing sport in the country. The speed andhigh scoring of basketball, the rough stuff and athleticism of hockey."

     "And your newest acquisition," Rachel said.

     "Lacrosse is going to be big in Dallas ,"Denton said. "And Wild Man is going to help make

     number oneit that way. He was number one in scoring last year, number one in assists and

    in time in the penalty box. He's a wild man! The fans love him, and so does the press."

     Garret wished he'd lay off. Denton made him sound like some kind of degenerate. "How doyou know Denton ?" he asked Rachel.

     "She works for me," Denton said before Rachel could answer. "I tell you, the two of youmeeting is just perfect."

     Perfect for what? Garret wondered

     "Speaking of the press," Rachel put her hand on Denton 's arm. "I wonder if I might have afew words with you—alone." She shot a look at Garret.

     No one ever said he couldn't take a hint. He nodded to Rachel. "Pleasure meeting you, MissWestover."

     "I'm sure you two will be seeing each other again soon," Denton said.

     "Oh, no doubt of that." Garret could still taste the chocolate on his tongue, stillfeel the satin of her skin against his mouth. He had every intention of looking her up againwhen they could be alone and really get to know one another.

     Teach by example, praise good behavior, distract., substitute... reprimand... withhold...punish...restrict ... reward... accept. Rachel's advice played over and over in Moira'shead like a bad radio jingle. By the time she reached David she was sure the smile she gave himwas strained. "Hi, sweetie," she said, standing on tiptoe to kiss his cheek. "I’m glad youmade it."

     "Yeah, well, I figured I’d better put in an appearance."

     “You look great," she said, brushing a bit of lint from the shoulder of his sport coat. Thefabric stretched across his muscular body. Though not too tall, he still had the stocky buildof the football lineman he'd been in high school. A little heavier around the middle, but stillvery attractive, she thought.

     He accepted a glass of champagne from a passing waiter and started across the floor towardthe buffet table, Moira in his wake. “Let's grab some food and mingle a little, then we canbug out. The Stars drop puck at eight. I'd like to at least get home in time for the secondperiod."

     Hockey. Moira rolled her eyes. Lately, David's idea of a hot date was an evening on thesofa watching sports. They could cuddle during commercials, but otherwise interruptions werenot welcome.

     At the buffet, David filled a plate with food while Moira tried to figure out which ofRachel's principles to use. She'd already praised him for showing up. Distraction?

     "I thought maybe tonight we could do something different," she said. "There's a new club overin Deep Elum . The band is supposed to be great. I know you like discovering new music."

     "Yeah, but not on a hockey night." He scowled at her. “You know me better than that."

     Did she? When they'd first started dating, David had been a fun, attentive companion. Hecould always make her laugh with his dumb jokes, and he'd proved to be a sensitive lover. Butlately he'd taken her for granted. As if he'd grown so comfortable in her presence he no longerhad to make any effort to improve their relationship.

     "Hey, is that Garret Kelly?"

     "Who?" She looted up to find David pointing across the room. "Where?"

     "The big guy over there by the keg. That is him. Let's go meet him." He grabbed her

    hand and tugged her across the room.

     "Who is Garret Kelly?" she protested, dragged along like a dinghy towed by a yacht.

     "Only the best indoor lacrosse player in the country. Led the league in goals last yearwhen he was with the Denver Mammoth."

     Sports again. Moira groaned.

     They reached the group by the keg. “Hey, I'm Dave Brewer." Dave stuck out his hand. "I'm abig fan of yours."

     "Pleased to meet you, Dave." Garret turned his smile on Moira. "And who is this lovelylady?"

     Moira stood straighter and resisted smoothing her hair. Talk about a gentleman...."That'sMoira," Dave said. He scarcely glanced at her before turning his attention once more to Kelly."I heard the Dallas Devils signed you. That's terrific. I can't wait to see you play."

     "I'm looking forward to it," Garret said. He smiled at Moira again. He had a nice smile. Sexy even, if you liked the big, brawny type. "Moira, do you know everyone here?" he asked.

     She shook her head. None of the people in the circle looked familiar to her.

     "These are some of the other players on the team. This chap on my left is Bud Mayhew. Next tohim is our goalie Tate Maguire and his wife Leslie. Then Guy Clifford, Slate Williams andPeter Rutherford. And of course you know Dave."

     Right. Dave who was all but ignoring her. The others smiled and murmured hello.

     "Love those shoes," Leslie Maguire said. "You'll have to tell me some good places to shoparound here."

     "Don't do it, I beg you," her husband said. I’m already reduced to one little section of thecloset."

     "There's always the spare bedroom," Leslie said meaningfully.

     "Fine, shop all you want," Tate conceded. "Just don't make me go with you."

     "I know what you mean." David inserted himself in the conversation once more. "Moira's alwaysafter me to take her to the mall. Why women think men would be interested in that kind of thingis beyond me."

     Moira frowned at him. She almost never asked David to go shopping with her. In fact, shecould think of nothing worse than having a whining man tagging along while she was trying onshoes. She turned to Leslie once more. "I’d love to go shopping with you one day," she said."And you should meet my friend Rachel. She's about your size and has great taste in clothes."

     "Rachel Westover?" Garret Kelly froze in the act of raising a beer to his lips. "You knowher?"

     "Sure. She's my best friend." Moira braced herself for yet another comment about Rachel's mantaming column.

     "Just met her tonight. Over by the buffet table. "He took a sip of beer. "Interesting woman."

     "Yes, Rachel is very...interesting." And she must have made quite an impression on GarretKelly. Moira subtly checked him out. Nice suit, but no tie. Definitely the rugged, athletictype. Definitely not Rachel's preferred sort of date, but there was something to be said for

a man's man.

     Was he man enough to stand up to the Man Tamer? Moira chuckled to herself. Could be Rachelwould finally meet her match. No doubt the battle would be fun to watch—from a safe distance.


     CHAPTER 2

     Men and Sports , Dear Man Tamer:

     My boyfriend loves sports. Sometimes I think he loves them more than he loves me. He isalways going to games or watching them on television. Our entire social calendar is planned

     football and basketball season. Now he's talking about taking uparound baseball, hockey,

     golf! What can I do to save this relationship? Hales Sports

     Dear Hales Sports:

     This is a tough one. For many men, sports are like a religion. They identify with teams andplayers and are invested in the outcome of games. But these are only games and the trick is toshow the man in your life how much he is missing of real life—i.e., a relationship withyou—by being so involved in sports. I suggest you start by attempting to distract him byplanning fabulous evenings alone. Favorite foods and hot sex are usually winning distractions.

     in learning to love sports and sharing them with their men, butSome women have had success

    if you do this, I suggest insisting he meet you halfway and learn to love movies or ballet orwhatever your passion is. After all, a relationship is a partnership. You shouldn't do all thework. In the end, you may have to confront him with an ultimatum. Does he choose sports or you?If he chooses sports, your heart may be broken, but at least you won't have wasted your life on

     someone who couldn't give you the love you need. Let me know how it goes! The Man Tamer


     Rachel watched Wild Man Kelly's departure. Her fingers still tingled from the touch of histongue. Her breasts felt heavy and aching, and the dull throbbing in her groin testified to howfully turned on she'd been within mere seconds of first laying eyes on him. He'd had her sounder his spell that if he'd suddenly laid her back on the buffet table and begun stripping offhis clothes she wouldn't have protested.

     She shifted and squeezed her thighs together, breathless at the thought of herself laid outamong the chocolate tarts and cream puffs, a half-naked Garret looming over her.

     He'd certainly lived up to his nickname so far. If she didn't have serious business todiscuss with Denton , she wouldn't have minded getting to know Garret better. Not that hewas at all her type, but he would probably be fun for a fling—provided he didn't get toowigged out by her occupation.

     "What did you want to talk to me about?" Denton asked. "I haven't got all evening."

     Denton's prompt pulled her back to the present. "Have you made a decision on the afternoonslot on KTXK?" she asked.

     "No. I've got a chance to buy the rights to reruns of Space Cadet Coeds."

     "Space Cadet Coeds?" Was he for real? "I've never heard of it."

     '"Number one in Japan last year," he said. "I think it'll be a big hit."

     "Who's going to watch a Japanese import when they can have a hometown star?" She drew herselfup to her full five feet six inches. "The Man Tamer is the number-one relationship column inthe state," she said. "A Man Tamer television show would draw the coveted twenty to forty-year-old female demographic, plus it would increase readership for my column."

     Denton waved away her words as if he was brushing off a pesky fly. "I’m also thinkingabout filling that slot with a show all about lacrosse. It would be a great way to buildinterest for the team."

     "You said yourself lacrosse is already hot. Why would you need a show about it?"

     "Lacrosse is something that appeals to both men and women. Especially with a star likeWild Man on the team. Who's going to watch your show but a bunch of women with man troubles?"

     Only every woman in the city, if you put it that way, she thought. In her experience,every man was some kind of trouble. "So what if the show mainly appeals to women?" sheasked. "That's a lot of viewers. Not to mention with my training in psychology and the strongfollowing I already have with the magazine, I could be the next Dr. Phil."

     Denton looked pained. "Rachel, you apply dog-training techniques to handling men. It's acute concept for a column, but I just don't see it translating to television."

     "It's not dog training!" she practically shrieked. Noticing half a dozen people turn to lookat them, she sucked in a deep breath and tried to remain calm. "My columns promote the use ofproven behavior modification techniques."

     "Dog training," Denton repeated.

     "Call it what you want, but it works. I have hundreds of letters from satisfied readerswho've tried my man-taming techniques and transformed their relationships."

     Denton looked thoughtful. "So you're telling me you can take any man and turn him into the

     boyfriend using your techniques?" perfect tame

     "Of course."

     "Even someone like Wild Man Kelly?"

     She glanced toward where Garret was standing by the keg, surrounded by half a dozen admiringmen and women. He stood with one hand in his pocket, the other holding a plastic cup, a casual,slouching pose. The too long hair, beard stubble and general demeanor spoke of a quintessentialbachelor who didn't care much about his appearance. No doubt his apartment was a sty and hisidea of a balanced meal was a slice of pizza in one hand and a beer in the other. Hundreds of women had written to her about similar men in their lives.

     "I've seen worse." Of course, none of those men had managed to reduce her to a

    whimpering mass of hormones within two minutes of meeting her.

     "Then maybe we can make a deal."

     "Huh?" She blinked at Denton , coming out of her lust-induced fog.

     "I'll make you a little bet." Denton actually rubbed his hands together, a gesture she hadnever seen outside of a B-movie. "You apply your man-taming principles to Garret Kelly to tame him and if you succeed, you can have your show."

     "That's fantastic!" In her elation, she almost hugged Denton , but restrained herself justin time. "This will be the easiest bet I ever won."

     “Don't count on it," Denton said. "Kelly's got way too much testosterone in his system totame." He chuckled. "I don't call him Wild Man for nothing. And from what I hear, that appliesto both on and off the field."

     She glanced toward Garret again. A short brunette was beaming up at him, her expressiontelegraphing the message, Take me, I'm yours. So maybe Wild Man wouldn't be a pushover. No

    one ever said she didn't like a challenge.

     "I can handle the Wild Man," she said, a thrill running through her at the thought. Okay, soshe'd like to handle him in more ways than one. All in good time....

     "Denton, how marvelous to see you!" Rhonda, her timing impeccable as always, descended onthem in a perfumed cloud. She offered her cheek to Denton , who obligingly kissed her.Rhonda made a show of just now noticing Rachel's presence. 'Hello, Rachel. I didn't know youwere here."

     "Of course not. Why would you notice little old me?" She took a step closer to Denton ,in an attempt to keep him from being completely lured away by Rhonda's black-belt charm."Denton and I were just discussing our plans for a television show based on my Man Tamingcolumns."

     She ignored Denton 's frown and kept her gaze fixed on her sister.

     Rhonda's smile vanished, replaced by an expression more appropriate for funerals and firingsquads. "Oh no! Please tell me you aren't going to embarrass yourself—not to mention therest of the family—by taking these ridiculous ideas of yours public."

     "Hello? I write a monthly column with a circulation of over two hundred thousand. I'd saythat's pretty public."

     "The Man Tamer is one of Belinda magazine's most popular features," Denton said. Hisdefense of her pleased Rachel, though she suspected the billionaire just liked pitting thesisters against each other. The socially acceptable equivalent of female mud wrestling.

     Rhonda's expression didn't lighten in the least. "I suppose reality television and daytimetalk shows prove the general public has a taste for sensationalism," she said. "Still, it'sdifficult to accept that a beloved family member would lower herself so."

     Only Denton 's presence and fear of making a public scene saved Rachel from slapping hersister. She forced a saccharine smile to her face. "Just think of it as my way of helpingpeople to get the most out of their relationships," she said. "I know how interested you are inphilanthropy." Rhonda was on the board of half a dozen Dallas charities—not because she wasso interested in the underprivileged, but because it kept her name and face in the spotlight.

     "Speaking of charity..." Rhonda latched onto Denton 's arm and fixed him with a dazzlingsmile. Rachel thought about telling her to lay off the teeth whitening. It was starting to looka little scary. "I wanted to discuss the upcoming fund-raiser for the Children's Hospital...."Ignoring Rachel, she steered Denton away, a determined tugboat towing a not-so-reluctantbarge.

     Rachel headed back toward the buffet table and a fresh plate of strawberries—and a pile ofnapkins. She was going to drown her frustrations in chocolate and plot her next move withGarret Kelly. A positively evil smile shaped her lips as she pictured herself, on Garret's arm,introducing him to Rhonda. "This is Wild Man Kelly," she'd say." The star of the DallasDevils and my very good friend." One older husband—no matter how wealthy and sociallyprominent—wasn't a match for a muscular hunk with a sexy foreign accent. Rhonda would bepositively green. A good color on her, Rachel thought.

     "Men like Garret Kelly think they're happy living the way they do, but that's only becausethey don't know what they're missing." The following Monday, Rachel stirred sweetener into hericed tea and eyed Moira across the cafe table. "I can show men like him how to improve theirlives."

     "For your sake, I hope it involves regular sex," Moira said. "That's something that's beenmissing from your life for awhile."

     Rachel ignored the dig. "I can't let myself get distracted by my personal desires," she said."This is serious business. If I can prove my man-taming principles work on a he-man like GarretKelly, I can have a whole new career in television."

     "That's a big if" Moira added pepper to her salad. "A man who goes by the nickname 'WildMan' might not respond well to taming."

     "I'm not going to fail." No matter what Denton or Rhonda or anyone else thinks. I'm

    going to devote all my energy to this project. I will have that television show."

     "I guess there's nothing that says you can't enjoy yourself while you're at it," Moira said."After all, Garret Kelly is awfully sexy. If you like the big, brawny type."

     The memory of Garret's mouth wrapped around her fingers made Rachel squirm in her seat."Yeah. He's all right."

     "A// right? Girl, you should have seen the women drooling over him at Denton 'sparty. And he asked about you."

     She blinked. "He did? What did he say?"

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