'But what?'

'Maybe Fuller has potential. That's up to you to discover.'

Micki shivered at the prospect.

Meanwhile Roper fidgeted in his chair, glancing at his watch when he didn't think she was looking. 'Hot date?' she asked.

“Would you be insulted if I said I had to eat and run?'

She rolled her eyes. A free night during the season didn't happen often. 'Of course not but you need to promise me you'll behave. No more antics or giving the press cause to speculate on anything, okay?”

'You drive a hard bargain,' he said, as he cocked his head to the side. 'How about we make a deal? I won't get the earring I wanted if you promise to consider my advice-you step up a little and see if Fuller notices you' He winked, then rose, collecting their plates and placing them in the sink.

The man was a true find. 'Some woman's going to be lucky to land you, Roper.'

'I'm nowhere finished sowing my wild oats.'

She stood and walked him to the door. I'm afraid Damian isn't either.'

'You'll never know until you try.' John wrapped a friendly arm around her shoulders. 'Remember Roper's word to the wise-life is nothing without risks.'

She laughed. 'I'll remember.'

He kissed her head and took off.

Alone in her apartment, Micki rinsed their plates and dried them, her mind preoccupied with Roper's words. He was right about a lot of things but most importantly about her feelings for Damian. She did have the hots for him and had since this past New Year's Eve. Damian's kiss, planted on her in a drunken stupor, had been a prelude. One taste hadn't been enough and he'd whetted her appetite for more. When his full lips had been on hers, and his hard body against hers had warmed her in the cold winter air, she'd realized how much she desired the man.

Micki wanted to feel the excitement of a home run with Damian. Unfortunately he didn't even remember reaching first base.

THE NEXT MORNING, Micki stood in front of the mirror in the restroom of the Hot Zone. She eyed her standard look-her blond curls hastily pulled into a ponytail and her white button-down shirt tucked into a pair of black slacks- and frowned at the lackluster sight.Was it any wonder that when she strode into a locker room full of naked men, none of them 'stood at attention'?

She was sick and tired of being considered one of the guys, especially by Damian, and Roper had made it perfectly clear why the man failed to notice Micki. Last night's conversation was fresh in her mind and she couldn't help but be frustrated with the status quo. Though her practical side understood that being treated as an equal was what female reporters and publicists had been fighting for years, the female side of her had been ignored too long and demanded recognition.

'Micki? It's meeting time.' Her middle sister, Sophie, called from the hall.

'I'm coming, I'm coming.' Micki turned away from the mirror just as Sophie stepped into the ladies' room.

Her gaze scanned Micki's face. 'Okay, what's wrong?' Sophie nailed Micki with the knowing stare she'd perfected as a child.

The desire to reveal all was strong until Micki's gaze raked over her beautifully dressed sister. Not a stray hair fell from Sophie's sleek chignon, and her purple tweed suit was the height of fashion. Probably Chanel. No quick, off-the-rack shopping run for Sophie or Annabelle, Micki thought.

Her insecurities rose full force and any thoughts Micki had of admitting her recent bout of uncertainty fled in the face of Sophie's perfection. 'What makes you think anything's wrong?' Micki asked, lifting her chin a notch.

Sophie turned the lock on the company restroom door, shutting them in the small lounge area alone. 'You're my sister and I know you. Since Annabelle married Vaughn and got pregnant, you haven't been your usual spunky self.'

Micki placed a hand on the white sink, aware of the cold porcelain beneath her hand and the intensity of her grip. 'I'm not jealous.'

Sophie raised an eyebrow. 'Did I say you were? Listen,' she said, approaching Micki slowly. 'I know that Annie's marriage and move has changed the dynamic of your relationship.'

Micki acknowledged that truth with a nod. Annabelle used to live across the hall from both Micki and Sophie until she and Vaughn had relocated to his lodge in Greenlawn, a small town in upstate New York. Though the couple had kept Annabelle's apartment, they didn't spend much time there. Even Sophie's presence and Roper's visits didn't ease that loss.

'I know we've never been as tight as you and Annie, but I miss her, too,' Sophie admitted, the uptight armor she normally kept around her softening as she spoke. 'And maybe this is a good time for us to…' Her voice trailed off.

Could confident Sophie be hesitant, too? Micki wondered.

'Maybe we could get closer?' Micki met her sister halfway and hoped she hadn't misread her intent.

Sophie nodded and relief filled Micki. Apparently, despite their very different personalities, she and Sophie really had formed a bond, even if they'd drifted for a while. Annabelle's life change offered the perfect excuse for them to forge a new beginning of their own.

Micki knew just where to begin. 'Soph?' Micki asked tentatively.

'Yes?' Her sister sounded just as wary.

With Roper's suggestion that she 'step up' and capture Damian's attention ringing in her ears, she turned to her feminine, perfect-looking sister. 'Can you teach me how to be more of a…girl?'

Sophie's eyes sparkled with surprise and excitement at Micki's words. 'It's about time!' she said, practically salivating at the idea of making Micki over.

Together they headed to the conference room to meet with Uncle Yank and tried not to rush him too obviously through the weekly meeting. They didn't have to worry since their uncle was overly grumpy thanks to Lola's appearance last night at a charity event.

Lola had been a surrogate mother to the girls. She'd also been Yank's assistant until she'd finally taken a stand. She'd told Uncle Yank to admit his feelings for her or else she was walking away for good. He hadn't believed her- why would he when she'd spent the better part of her fifty-eight years at the man's beck and call?

She'd sacrificed her youth and deserved more from her life and the man in it. So Lola had quit and gone to work for Spencer Atkins, Yank's biggest business rival and ironically his closest friend. She'd also begun dating him while Uncle Yank gnashed his teeth-and did nothing about it.

Everyone from her sisters to the office staff knew all Uncle Yank had to do was admit he was ready for a committed relationship and Lola would willingly return. At least they thought she'd come back, but lately she and Spencer seemed to be spending more and more time together while Uncle Yank grew ever more stubborn.

With Annabelle at a doctor's appointment and Uncle Yank in a surly mood, he'd dismissed their meeting early and demanded they all show up again the next morning. With the afternoon free, Micki and Sophie left the office for the day with the shared goal of making Micki over.

Now Micki sat on Sophie's bed, her knees curled under her, while Sophie made frequent trips to her bathroom and closet, creating separate piles on her dresser.


'Ready as I’ll ever be.'

'Then let's get started.' Sophie handed Micki a pad and pen to take notes on what she would need to purchase to put Sophie's lessons into action. 'This,' she said, picking something up from behind her, 'is a blow-dryer.'

Micki rolled her eyes. 'Tell me something I don't know.'

'Okay, this red thing is the on/off switch. You have gorgeous hair but you hide it like you did when you used to pitch Little League.' Sophie pulled out the elastic holding Micki's hair in place and yanked out a few strands in the process.

'Ouch.' Micki rubbed her scalp.

Sophie ignored her. 'A little light gel and some blow-drying and your hair will fall around your face in soft waves.'

As she spoke, Sophie played with Micki's hair like she'd seen her do to Annabelle when they were younger.

'Are you getting all this down?' Sophie, the organized one, asked. 'Blow-dryer, hair gel, soft styling spray.

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