Even if Colin did light megawatts of electricity inside her every time he walked into the room. Those arresting blue eyes, that thick black hair, his distinctive masculine scent all set off heavy-duty sparks of desire. Instant sexual attraction, she thought. And female intuition, plus the fact that she'd often caught him staring, told her he felt the chemistry between them, too.

Emma narrowed her gaze. 'Silence is an answer in itself.' She patted Rina's arm, rose and headed slowly back to her own desk.

'Come on, Emma. Pick on someone your own age,' Rina said.

The older woman laughed. 'You're a challenge, Rina. I thrive on challenges and I live to matchmake. What exactly do you live for, dear?'

'Until lately, not much,' she admitted. After her husband's death, guilt had consumed her. He'd been rushing home from a business trip in the pouring rain, coming to be with her instead of sensibly spending the night at a hotel.

For a long while after, Rina hadn't thought life had much to offer. But after some soul-searching, she sold the New York City penthouse she and her husband had shared, and decided it was time to live again. Financially secure and free to do whatever she wanted, Rina had had no desire to return to her job as a legal secretary. It had been a decent means of earning a living, but it didn't satisfy her.

She'd asked herself what would, looking inside herself for answers. She'd always been curious about human nature, drawn to people and relationships. Like Emma, she'd even indulged in matchmaking with her brother, Jake, and his wife, Brianne. She'd decided to use her people skills and her childhood habit of writing and documenting ideas, and put them to good use.

And now she had her column. 'But my outlook is fresh and new since moving to Ashford,' she said, meaning every word.

Emma nodded. 'Good thing you packed up and moved on.' She studied Rina with eyes full of wisdom.

'Amen, sister.' Rina grinned and hit Emma's hand in a high five, laughing at the older woman's spunk.

Rina had no doubt Emma had seen a lot in the decades she'd lived, and she'd obviously learned how to get the most out of every person she met and opportunity she saw, a philosophy Rina had adopted too from the minute she'd decided to sell the penthouse and move on. So what if she'd had to pull a few strings to get this job?

Corinne's father lived in the same retirement community as Rina's parents. Of course, Corinne's father was much older than Rina's parents, but in Florida, if a man had teeth and the ability to walk upright, golfing and bridge buddies formed. When Rina learned that Corinne had taken over her husband's newspaper, she picked up the phone, the two women hit it off, and Rina had herself a job. One she wouldn't hold on to if she wasn't successful.

But she would be.

'Ah. More silence. You're thinking. That's okay. As long as you speak wisely to yourself, that's what counts.' Emma broke into Rina's thoughts. 'But if you should want to share your thoughts, I'd be more than happy to listen.'

'You're so nosy.' Rina glanced at Emma with all the warmth she felt toward her. 'Not to mention perceptive.'

'Live as long as I have and you'd better have learned something,' Emma replied with a wink. 'Now, I want to hear more about your upcoming series. Did I mention that I admire your gumption?'

'Not lately,' Rina said wryly.

Ignoring the writing implement tucked behind her ear, Emma picked up a pencil and tapped the eraser against the desk. 'Catching a man is so much more complicated today than in my youth. Instead of pinching cheeks for color, you swipe on blush, and in place of tissues, I hear the water bra is all the rage now.' She paused for an obvious inspection of Rina's attributes. 'And though you're a natural beauty, it would help you with the competition if you used some enhancement, too.'

Rina shook her head. The older woman was unbelievable.

'What do men want? Pfft,' Emma said. 'You'll never know because they'll never tell.' She waved a regal hand in the air, dismissing the notion out of hand.

'I don't want them to tell me, I plan to use my powers of observation to figure it out. Methodically.' Rina pulled out the list she'd compiled from the folder on her desk. 'And it's not just appearance. It's also in how a woman acts, walks and talks.' She swiveled her hips for effect.

'More movement,' Emma suggested.

Rina sashayed her waist and ended with a rendition of Britney Spears that would do any twenty-year-old proud. From across the room, one of the remaining layout editors, who was just putting on his jacket, applauded.

Rina grinned and bowed. 'You see? Attitude makes a difference,' she said with a nod. 'The question is, what's more important? Attitude or intellect? Wouldn't a smart man want a woman with whom he can carry on a breakfast conversation?' she asked Emma.

'No. Men want arm candy.'

Rina cocked her head to the side. 'Come on. They can't be that shallow a species.'

Emma rolled her eyes. 'Get with the program, Rina. All men want a woman they're proud to display on their arm. It's the male ego, dear.'

'That's true.' Much as she hated to admit it. Take her deceased husband. After their marriage, he'd ostensibly fired her as his legal secretary, giving her a life of luxury most women would die to live. In exchange, he'd wanted a stay-at-home wife, one who was comfortable entertaining guests and who dressed well so he was proud to have her by his side. 'You do have a point.'

'And trust me,' Emma said. 'The reason you're still flying solo after being in this town for three months is because you're doing nothing to enhance your appearance.'

Rina put a hand to her unflattering bun and grinned. 'I know.'

'Forgive me, but I simply don't understand.' Emma shook her head, her look of confusion obvious. 'I can see your potential. I've offered to have my limo driver take us to Bloomingdale's for a clothing makeover, offered to have my stylist come do your hair. You refuse. Care to tell me why?'

'Corinne hired me to bring life to the paper with my series idea. I can only do that by giving my readers personal experience. So I started by establishing myself in town as a quiet, inconspicuous woman.'

Emma pursed her lips. 'Go on.'

'I've been researching from day one here. Recording men's reactions to this Rina.' There hadn't been much interest in the woman who wore baggy clothes and no makeup, one who possessed a mild-mannered personality. Although Colin's heated gaze more than made up for the other men's lapses. 'So now I'm going to alter my appearance and actions, and see what kind of changes men react to. So I can impart firsthand wisdom to my readers.'

'You're going to strut your stuff.' Emma grinned. 'I like that.'

'You would.'

'Can I help it if I've got my finger on the pulse of male-female relationships? Why, just look at Logan and Cat,' she said, referring to her wealthy grandson and his beloved wife.

Rina knew Emma credited herself with that pairing.

'Then there's Grace and Ben. If only they didn't live in New York,' Emma said wistfully. 'You'll meet Logan and Cat at the Christmas party Saturday night, but you'll have to look up Grace next time you return to New York for a visit.'

The older woman also took responsibility for her granddaughter Grace's marriage to the detective Emma had hired to look out for her in New York City. Rina suspected that both of her grandchildren would have succeeded without their grandmother's help, though Rina had to admit, they wouldn't have met without Emma's meddling.

'So we're talking a random sampling of men?' Emma asked.

Rina nodded. 'Anyone and everyone, including the deliveryman. And the pizza guy is particularly cute.' Not that he'd been attracted to Rina and her plain, unflirtatious side, but the time had come to change her attitude. Because not only was this series her journalistic debut, but it also marked her return to the social scene.

She was ready to begin flirting again, testing her wiles on the opposite sex. The best part was that she'd been able to use her daily life as research since she met men at the coffee shop next door and at the bar favored by her downstairs neighbor, Francesca. Frankie, for short. They both rented apartments in a Cape house Rina had heard

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