for Two was initially a stand-alone book. I tacked on the epilogue hoping
that the editor would be curious enough to offer me a two-book contract (It proved
unnecessary. Most publishing houses offer two book contracts nowadays).
Anyway, those of you who have met Adriana and Eric know they are definitely
not Cassie and Drake. I found the change refreshing, but wondered if
they were too different to get along. As I got to learn more about them I discovered
that at the core they were more alike than different. Then I wondered ‘How
am I going to convince them to get together?’ They certainly wouldn’t
do so on their own. And ‘What would be that one main area of conflict?’
I searched my mind and asked myself, ‘What do most couples fight about?’
I soon got my answer: Money. How someone perceives money tells you a lot about
them (about how they see themselves, how they were raised (or reared for you Southerners)
etc…) and two differing viewpoints would cause a lot of tension--Adriana
grew up well off; Eric did not. At last, I had my story.
Henson listened to the loud crack of a tree snapping, its limb an unfortunate
victim of the harsh October weather settling over the city and slapping a crisp
wind against his office window. The tree’s destruction echoed in his ears.
He had to remind himself that the sound wasn’t his patience snapping in
He stared at Adriana Travers across the broad mahogany desk. She didn’t
meet the disbelief reflecting in his serious, speculative gaze. She was too busy
buffing her nails, casually tapping her foot. He wasn’t angry, he reminded
himself, letting his gaze fall to his desk. He didn’t let himself get angry.
She had obviously misunderstood his suggestions.
It was perfectly understandable that she be confused about his recommendations
regarding her finances. She didn’t seem the type to take much interest in
financial matters. The dreadful state of her books was a good indicator of that.
He wanted to help her, but doubted he had the fortitude to do so.
Most times he hoped he would glance up and she would disappear like a bad dream.
However, she was real and in his office looking as out of place as two commas
in a tax return.
She had the color and vibrancy of a hummingbird and was completely incongruous
with the serene gray of his office. Her curly black hair fell around her face
in a crazy array that seemed to suit her carefree personality. A long purple skirt
draped her legs while thick-heeled black boots peeked from underneath. A shimmering
jacket completed the look, but her silver earrings caught most of his attention.
They constantly twirled and he couldn’t understand what law of physics allowed
their constant motion.
He pulled his gaze from them and focused on the problem at hand. He was a professional
and needed to handle the situation in a calm and tactful manner. He would not
insult her intelligence and put her on the defensive. He was used to her type.
He’d met a few in his line of work and knew they required a patience his
other clients didn’t need.
He sat forward and clasped his hands together, ready to address and dismiss any
of her concerns.
“Did you hear what I said?” she asked, clearly annoyed by his
“Yes. What do you mean by ‘no’?” His voice was soft,
laden with a hint of steel. Usually
his tone gave a person pause. She, however, presented him with a brief, disinterested
caramel glare and continued to buff her nails.
“It means that I disagree with you,” she clarified. “It means
that I think your suggestions are poorly thought out and most of all illogical.”
Eric adjusted his glasses, a small bit of temper beginning to claw around him.
He prided himself on being logical. He was always logical. What did she mean he…He
loosened the grip on his pen and took a deep breath. She did this on purpose to
provoke him. In the three years he had known her they had never been able to speak
without annoying each other. He had thankfully seen her only a few times since
her best friend had married his brother. They were usually spared the aggravation
of being in each other’s company. Until now.
When he had heard she needed financial counseling, he had wanted to help. So
for once in all his practical years he had—in a moment of temporary insanity—done
something he never did. He’d been impulsive. He had called her up and offered
his services. To his surprise she had accepted. He glanced at her now as she wiggled
her fingers in front of her. He was too tired to kick himself for that brief lapse
“What did you find…” He searched for words. “Unacceptable
about my suggestions?”
She leaned forward, took the budget from the desk, and tapped each item. “No,
I will not eat regular nameless foods, cut down my visits to the salon, stop my
cable, or put my cat to sleep.”
He blinked. “I never suggested that.”
“You probably would if you knew how much I spend on cat food and kitty
He sat back and folded his arms. Patience, he reminded himself. “I
think your cat is a necessity, an essential part of your life. You probably consider
it a family member as many pet owners do.” He paused thoughtful. “Ultimately,
the cat likely serves some purpose. I’ve read that it’s healthy to
have a pet. Usually they refer to dogs because they force you out on daily walks,
but I’m sure cats offer some sort of health regime.” He shook his
head. “No, I would never suggest you get rid of your cat.”
Adriana crossed her legs and tapped the buffer against her knee. “How
generous of you,” she said in a dry tone. “I was completely unaware
of my cat’s many benefits until I met you. She’s not just a beautiful,
friendly, and furry companion, but she’s also a good health investment.”
The brown eyes flickered. “There’s no reason to be sarcastic.”
Adriana hid a tiny grin. She was beginning to get to him. She didn’t
know why the thought cheered her, but it did. It was nice to know the unflappable
Eric Henson had a temper. Perhaps he had a heart as well.
He was eerily too much like his office. Cool, elegant, and intimidating. There
were no pictures on the wall, not even a plant to give color to the gray décor.
Just a pathetic vase of plastic lilies that sat high on a bookshelf, turning gray
from the gathering dust. She measured him in one quick glance, wondering how often
he needed dusting. The dark blue of his tie and shirt complemented the brown of
his skin. It was an unremarkable light shade with all the dimension and warmth
of a piece of cardboard.
She would not call him handsome. His face was too serious for such a clichéd
label. His features were firm, undeniably male in structure with eyes as warm
as petrified wood, offset by round, gold-framed glasses. He didn’t have
a mouth that entertained a smile or laughed very often and his hair was pitch
black and cut almost cruelly short.
She didn’t know why she was here. She inwardly groaned. That was wrong.
She did know. She had been impulsive. It was a terrible fault of hers and usually
landed her in trouble. She remembered when Eric had called her on late afternoon
while she was flipping through a Victoria Secret’s catalogue. After overcoming
the shock of hearing his voice on the other end, she heard herself saying yes
to his seemingly reasonable offer, forgetting whom she was saying yes to.
The beginning of the meeting had been cordial until he started taking charge
of her spending habits like an overzealous hospital nurse. He had angered her
by treating her as if she had no common sense. She knew his type—a pulse-free
intellectual who thought he had the sole monopoly on brain function. Yes, she
liked to tease him. She wanted to show him that he was human and emotional like
the rest of the ordinary world.
“Do you have a pet?” she asked.
“Not even a cold, dull goldfish swimming dizzyingly around in a bowl
on your windowsill?”
“Remind me to get you one. A tiny one so that it won’t be too much
of a bother to you.”
“He glanced at the window. “As I was saying, your cat Elena-.”
Elissa is part of regular household expenses. However, the other items I listed
are easily dispensable. For example, you could do without going to the salon.”
“No, I could not.”
“He met her gaze. “Then go to a cheaper one.”
“Would an owner of a Mercedes send his car to a Saab dealership for repairs?”
“We’re not talking about cars.”
“No, we’re talking about me. My skin, my body.”
Ah, hell, now why did she have to mention that? He tried to keep his
eyes from the satin beauty of her dark coffee skin. He knew she thought of him
as an automon, but he was a male automon.