Uncle Yank. Everyone knew it.

Everyone except Uncle Yank. Neither was over the hill and Annabelle felt bad for Lola. After all, the other woman had wasted most of her life waiting for the ultimate bachelor to notice her as something more than a prize assistant and a surrogate mother for his nieces.

'First order of business. Our annual summer party is scheduled for the third Saturday in July. Does everyone have it on their calendar?' Lola asked.

All nodded. Annabelle already had the date jotted on her agenda. The annual Hot Zone party was as much a family event as a business one.

'Okay then. On to the clients,' Lola said.

'Micki? What's going on with Roper?' Uncle Yank asked of their star baseball player. Even when he was questioning the girls about their social lives, Uncle Yank always started with Micki, the youngest and worked his way up to Annabelle, the oldest.

Her youngest sister rolled the pen between her palms. 'I'm trying to counter some bad media. He'll be fine. He just needs to watch what he says to the press,' she said in a soothing voice. With her blond, curly hair and deliberately casual dress, Micki always presented the epitome of relaxed confidence.

'Admitting to having his nails done and a full body wrap at St. Lauren's spa on his day off will definitely put a kink in his reputation as a ladies' man,' Annabelle murmured.

'He isn't gay, he just likes the finer things. He needs to learn discretion,' Micki insisted. 'I'll stick by his side for a few weeks and he'll learn how to handle the media. We' 11 spin things in his favor,' she assured them.

'He'd be better off pulling a Hugh Grant than acting the part of a sissy boy,' Uncle Yank said. 'Handle him, Mick.'

Sophie snickered and Micki shot her a dirty look. 'Don't worry. I will.'

Annabelle had no doubt her sister would accomplish her goal. All three of them usually did. Although each took on a client as their own, they worked as a team, brainstorming and formulating a PR plan together. The only division occurred in how they assigned clients.

As every guy's friend, Micki preferred to tackle the difficult athletes. She enjoyed cultivating trust, smoothing ruffled feathers and keeping an athlete looking good to the media. Sophie, the brains in the family, thought, dressed and acted above it all. Her hair was always perfectly set, either professionally blown-dried or pulled into a conservative updo and her designer suits complemented the appearance she sought to present. Not surprisingly, photo shoots and an athlete's upscale ventures were more her terrain.

Annabelle preferred the guy's guy. The sweat-soaked, masculine football player who made a female look and feel feminine in comparison to his size, bulk and scent. She enjoyed being on the field and in the company of jocks, a weakness that tended to land her in trouble, starting with the high school captain of the football team who'd dated her, but then broken her heart when he'd cheated on her with her best friend.

Her bad luck with men had continued with the star quarterback at the University of Miami, who it turned out had only screwed her in order to have a pretty woman on his arm, and get closer to her uncle Yank at the same time. After her first real broken heart, she'd decided since men desired arm candy, she'd darn well give them arm candy and enjoy herself at the same time. With her emotional walls firmly in place, she'd graduated with honors, received her MBA and come home to New York. Expanding the agency had been a real accomplishment and she took pride in working in its luxury offices with views of the East River, located in the heart of Manhattan.

Life had been great until Randy Dalton, linebacker for the N.Y. Giants, had slipped past her defenses. For the first time since college she'd allowed herself to think a man could care for more than what he saw on the outside, more than what her family business connections could bring. She'd indulged in an affair, knowing her heart would likely follow, and it had.

Since Randy was one of the wealthiest, most eligible bachelors in New York City, their romance had played out in public, dominating the media. When he'd moved on to a younger actress, Annabelle had been left behind, her heart hurt once more and the gossip rags only too eager to report the story in their unique way. In the six months since, Annabelle sometimes wondered if her ego had taken the bigger hit, but the end result was the same. She was finished with men. She was going to focus on her job, period.

'Sophie?' Uncle Yank barked, snapping Annabelle out of her daydreaming, philosophical funk.

'What's on your agenda?' he asked, moving along to the middle sister.

All the information was on the pages in his hands, but since he seemed to want more frequent face-to-face meetings, the sisters agreed to humor him.

'I'm just trying to keep the peace between Dalton and O' Keefe,' Sophie said, of Annabelle's ex and the Giants' new owner.

Randy was the type of jock client Sophie would normally avoid, but after Annabelle's public breakup, Micki had been tied up so Sophie had been all too willing to take over representing Randy Dalton. Annabelle didn't envy Randy.

'Like I told Dalton, he's too stupid to understand discretion and the fact that he's got contract negotiations coming up,' Sophie said, confirming Annabelle's hunch that her middle sister enjoyed making the man feel like an ass day in and day out. 'He's also too much of a jerk-off to remember that he broke Annie's heart and nobody in this family cares about anything more than the bottom line,' Sophie said, defending her sister.

'Mouth, Sophie ' Uncle Yank muttered. 'Watch the mouth.'

All three sisters rolled their eyes. 'We learned our words from you,' Annabelle reminded him. 'And thanks for treating Dalton like the jerk he is, Soph.' Still, Annabelle understood that business held sway and The Hot Zone would continue to represent the louse until either Dalton fired them or they could contractually cut him loose.

'Annabelle? What's going on in your end of things?' her uncle asked.

Annabelle looked forward to the twinkle in his eye when he glanced at her. Despite his grumbling, Annabelle knew just how much he adored her. 'I just wrapped up overseeing Ernesto Mendoza's Nike commercial and put him on a plane back to Dallas. Last night I accompanied the chairman of NYCT's son to a charity gala. I made sure they know we've got the stars they want to support their cause. They'll turn to us before they look to Atkins for sponsors,' she said, winking at her uncle.

Despite his long-standing friendship with Spencer Atkins, they were business rivals of the deepest sort, Annabelle knew. And she always looked out for Uncle Yank's best interest.

'That's my girl,' Yank said in a voice infused with warmth and pride.

'Did you wear the Louis Vuitton dress?' Sophie asked, referring to Annabelle's newest acquisition.

Annabelle grinned. 'You know it, sister.' The dress, with its low vee in the back was perfect for keeping a man's attention on her, especially when his hand lay on the small of her bare back.

The banging gavel startled Annabelle and she jumped in her seat.

'Back to business,' Uncle Yank grumbled and all three sisters laughed.

'Well besides all that, I've got the usual insanity waiting for me in my office,' Annabelle said, wrapping up her summary.

'Micki?' Uncle Yank asked. 'Got any openings for a new client?'

Micki shot her uncle a regretful glance. 'Not right away. My schedule's booked. Armando's got the United Way shoot coming up and he made me promise I'd be there myself. And until the Post backs off the gossip and innuendo on Roper, I'm busy 24/7.'

Uncle Yank rolled his eyes. 'Hire him a hooker and book a photographer to take pictures of him in the act,' he muttered. 'Sophie?' Uncle Yank asked.

She spread her hands wide, also indicating there wasn't much she could do. 'My schedule's pretty tight, too. Besides I'm not sure I can deal with another dumb jock ogling my boobs and trying to get into my pants while I'm attempting to book him for charity work.'

'You need to lighten up,' Micki said, offering her usual refrain. 'You're such a stick in the mud, it's no wonder you haven't had a decent date in ages.' She ribbed her sister and Annabelle awaited the fallout.

Sophie scowled. 'I've dated plenty. Just not someone who rather smack another guy's behind than a woman's.'

Micki let out an exaggerated sigh. 'There's no way I'll ever buy that those intellectual types you go for do anything for you,' she said as the two sisters launched into their typical bickering.

'Would you two save the personal stuff for after work?' Annabelle asked.

'Annie's right.' The sound of the gavel broke the argument. 'No sex talk in the boardroom,' Yank said, his face

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