Night after night, Dr. “Love” urges listeners of his popular radio show, The Sin Club, to ‘sin’ – that is, to break the rules holding them back and go after what they want…what they need…what they truly desire…
“Today is the day to ‘sin,’” Alyssa James said as she plopped down onto the lime green micro-suede chair in her best friend’s office. She stared at Shannon, waiting for her response.
“You’ve got to stop listening to that garbage on the radio,” Shannon said absently, not bothering to look up from whatever she was doing on her laptop.
“The Sin Club is not garbage. Dr. Love has successful sinners on his show every night. Today is my day.”
“You’ve said that every day for the last 30 days.”
“It’s the power of positive thinking. I feel that today is going to be different.”
Shannon shook her head. “How would you even know if you’re sinning, Alyssa? You already break all the rules on your online blog.”
Shannon had a point. Alyssa had started her blog, Sex in San Francisco, as a joke—she’d grabbed her camera and hit the streets of San Francisco, looking for interesting occurrences to write about. In a park in Pacific Heights, she’d snapped a photo of two dogs—a perfectly coiffed Jack Russell terrier and a scruffy mongrel of unidentifiable heritage—in flagrante delicto. Afterward, she’d blogged about how opposites attract, even in the animal kingdom.
How was she to know that Fifi belonged to a prominent politician’s wife? And how could she have guessed that the wife would call every radio and television station demanding that Fifi’s photo be removed? Alyssa hadn’t removed the photo, instead encouraging visitors to participate in the fracas online.
Sex in San Francisco was proof that all publicity was good publicity. Alyssa now dished the scoop on the private lives of San Francisco’s rich and beautiful. But at a price. Hanging out in bushes and crashing parties left little time for a life of her own. So, while she did, indeed, “sin” for Sex in San Francisco, she had no time for personal sinning.
“I’m talking about sinning in my personal life.”
“What personal life?”
“The personal life I’m about to have. I hired an assistant.”
“That just means that you’ll find more work for both of you to do.”
While Alyssa didn’t blame Shannon for her skepticism, a little best-friend humoring would’ve been nice. The negative energy rolling off of Shannon in waves was starting to put a dent in her conviction that today was the day.
She sighed. Loudly.
Shannon finally looked up and asked with resignation, “So what personal sin are you finally going to commit today?”
Alyssa grinned. “I’m glad you asked. I’m thinking about sex. After all, shouldn’t the blogger of Sex in San Francisco be having sex?”
“Umm-hmm.” Shannon’s gaze returned to her computer.
“Yeah, I know. I’ve always been a commitment gal—”
“An understatement,” Shannon said. “Three years with Phil, four years with that loser from high school, four years—”
“Well, now I’m thinking, the heck with that. I can’t afford the time for a relationship.”
“Especially,” Shannon muttered, “with the emotionally needy guys you get involved with.”
Alyssa ignored that. “But I have time for a fling. If I’m willing to sin. That is, just go up to a hot guy and proposition him.”
Shannon snorted. “Now, that I’d like to see. In fact, I’d pay to see that—you propositioning someone.”
“Very funny.” Alyssa decided to change the subject. “So how’s business at The Perfect Date?”
“Slow. You know how tough startups are.”
“If I don’t get a burst of business soon, I’m afraid . . .” Shannon sighed. After a minute, she beamed, instantly transformed into the poster child for positive thinking. “But I got a new client today.” Once again, she tore her eyes away from her computer screen. “You won’t believe who called me to hire a corporate escort!”
Alyssa smiled. Shannon always emphasized the word “corporate” lest anyone think she dealt in sexscorts—a term she coined for the less reputable escort services.
“Barney,” said Alyssa.
“Barney Gaffney? Why would he need my services?”
“No. I meant Barney, from television. And I can think of one hundred reasons as to why he’d need your services.
One, he’s dull. Two, he lumbers around—”
Shannon sighed heavily.
Alyssa smiled. “Okay, okay. I’ll be serious. Who?”
Before she could answer, the phone rang and Shannon answered. Nanoseconds later, she grinned. “Please send him in, Charlotte.”
Shannon stood up.
Alyssa gathered her purse and prepared to stand.
“No. Don’t go. I want you to see this.”
Alyssa shrugged and settled back into her chair.
The elation in Shannon’s face suddenly faded and she directed a stern look at Alyssa. “You cannot put this on your gossip blog.”
Indignation rumbled in Alyssa’s stomach. “I do not deal in gossip. I deal in facts and—”
“Of course I won’t. You know I never write about personal or confidential—”
The soft whoosh of the office door opening, coupled with the ass-kissing grin spreading across Shannon’s face, stopped Alyssa in mid-protest. Alyssa turned toward the door, desperate to see who could bring such an abomination to the mouth of her no-nonsense friend.
“Mr. Brooks. Please come in,” Shannon gushed behind her.
The Mr. Brooks—as in, Tony Alfonso Brooks . . . as in, owner of Flush, The Gilded Cage, Bubbles, and a dozen other upscale bars . . . as in the very single, very sexy, Antonio Banderas clone whose private life was a mystery.
And here she’d been given a glimpse into that mystery . . . That the most eligible man in The City apparently had to pay to get a date. Priceless. Glee bubbled up inside her. What a great story this would—
Damn. There was no story. She’d just promised Shannon she wouldn’t write about him.
How could Shannon do this to me?
Just last week, Alyssa had written a piece speculating on the likelihood that Tony Brooks and supermodel-turned-restaurateur Chantelle Dubois had eloped to Sarlat, France.
Obviously that wasn’t true, since he was standing in front of her. So putting Mr. Brooks within touching
distance but saying she couldn’t write about him was like . . . like . . . putting a fudge sundae in front of a child and saying, “don’t eat it.”
As Tony glided into the room in a navy Versace suit, Alyssa’s racing heart, fluttery stomach, and rise in body temperature told her that he was like a fudge sundae in other ways—delicious, decadent, and deadly.
“Shannon, thanks for seeing me on such short notice.” Smiling, he extended his hand to Shannon.
“My pleasure. Before we begin, let me introduce you to Alyssa James.”
No, no. Don’t introduce me.
“. . . Alyssa, this is Mr. Tony Brooks.”