June 1, 2010
A Match Made in...Secret
Melanie Harte's exclusive matchmaking service--The Platium Society--can
help any soul find their ideal mate. Because when love is perfect,
it is a match made in heaven.
Can true love spark from a little white lie?
Melanie Harte's latest matchmaking assignement comes with a catch.
Her client, Jaxon Landon, can never know that his grandmother hired
Melanie to find him a woman of substance--someone more interesting
in making the handsome banker happy than in spending his money.
With Melanie's help, Jaxon meets Zora Campbell, a former model whose
thriving agency proves she's just as brilliant as she is beautiful.
For the first time Jaxon is falling for a woman who is his equal--and
their combustible chemistry proves the feeling is mutual. But the
hotter their relationship gets, the more Zora worries about what
will happen when Jaxon discovers the ploy behind the passion. A
simple lie brought them together--but will it also tear them apart?
when are you gonna stop teasin' and go out with a brotha?"
Zora Campbell looked up from her script and flashed Todd Brady
a smile. Though her supermodel days were behind her, it was still
a boost to her ego that men continued to go out of their way to
try and impress her. "C'mon, Todd. You know the rules. I don't
date men I work with."
"All right then. I quit," he said, shrugging his mountainous
shoulders and then spreading his LL Cool J-looking luscious lips
into a wide smile. "There. That solves everything."
"You can't quit. I need you." She poked out her bottom
lip and fluttered her long lashes up at him.
Todd clutched a hand over his heart and sighed. "Ahhh. If
only that was true."
Zora laughed at his silly antics. "It is true. You're the
best PR man in the business. Without you I would've just been another
washed-up supermodel being a guest judge on a reality show."
Todd's chest expanded with pride as he strolled confidently over
to the vacant director's chair. "Don't be silly, Zora. You
have the face of an angel and a body designed for sin. You will
never be washed-up because you'll never go out of style."
She laughed and shook her head. "With you around, my ego will
never be deflated." She returned her attention to the thin
"Surely you know that thing backward and forward by now. It's
our tenth infomercial."
"I do. I just get nervous before going on," she admitted.
"I'm always afraid that I'm going to forget something."
"Relax. The Zora skin-care line is flying off the shelves.
As well as the hair care line, perfume and jewelry line. America
can't get enough of you."
"We both know this industry is fickle. There's a thin line
between can't get enough and 'Damn, girl. We're starting to get
sick of you.' If you don't believe me then go ask J. Lo and Beyoncé."
"I would rather we ask Oprah and Tyra."
"They have their fair share of haters, too," Zora reminded
"Of course they do. You're nobody until somebody hates you."
"That's an interesting way of looking at it." "In
this biz, it's the only way to look at it." The familiar ring
of his BlackBerry interrupted the conversation. "Excuse me
for a moment." He held up a finger and then reached inside
his tailored Armani jacket and pulled out his phone. "Talk
Zora returned her attention to the ten-page script and didn't look
up until Todd was gone and the makeup artist was rushing over.
"You're here early this morning, Ms. Campbell." "I'm
always early, Beatrice. Force of habit." Beatrice beamed. "I
didn't think that you'd remember my name. This is only my second
time working with you."
"I also never forget a name." Zora's smile widened. She
had impressed the young lady. Even that feat she counted as an accomplishment
because she knew that most people expected her to be a certain way.
Pretty but not too bright. It was far from the truth.
Zora came from a long line of accomplished academics. Her mother,
Billie Campbell, was a Pulitzer prize-winning author and economist,
and her father, Elliott, had been a Rhodes scholar. Zora was well
on her way to following in their footsteps when she was discovered
studying at an off-campus coffee shop. Deciding to sign with the
Ford modeling agency had upset the family. Her parents didn't approve
of the lifestyle associated with modeling. Admittedly at that time,
Zora had been seduced by all the trappings of fame. Easy money,
VIP treatment and the possibility of the world knowing her name.
Upon signing, Zora had experienced a meteoric rise to the top six
months after her first magazine spread. She made outrageous money
for just smiling and playing dress up. It was fun while it lasted.
But like all things, there was some bitter with the sweet.
For all of Zora's book smarts, she wasn't and probably could never
have been prepared for fame's dark side. There was the endless supply
of drugs and alcohol at photo shoots and wild, over-the-top parties.
She had seen other girls become addicts and fall victim to abusive
relationships. Some managed to pull themselves together, some died
and some were just plain lost.
After ten years in the biz, Zora took her bow and allowed the next
generation of beauties to take the stage. She returned to college,
collected her business degree and then readied herself for the next
chapter in her life. Not until Todd Brady came along did she think
that stage would still include her selling her face and name. Turns
out there were millions of women who were dying to know her beauty
secrets. So she packaged them into a jar, slapped her name on it
and set it at a price point that even Walmart-going moms could afford,
and the rest was multimillionaire history.
The assistant director popped his head into the room. "We're
taping in ten minutes, Ms. Campbell."
"Thank you, Henry." Zora drew a deep breath and steadied
her nerves. It didn't matter how many times she'd done this, she
still got a little nervous being in front of a camera.
Beatrice finished working her makeup magic and gave Zora the last
five minutes alone before she went out on set. However, thirty seconds
in, there was a knock on the open door.
Zora glanced over her left shoulder and then laughed. "Well,
I'll be damned."
Melanie Harte beamed from the doorway. "I want to go on record
that you have to be the hardest chick to find in Manhattan."
"Apparently not too hard." Zora stood up from her chair
and met Melanie halfway across the small room for a tight, heartfelt
hug. "How have you been doing, girl?"
"Fine. Fine. Like you. Busy as ever." Melanie, a fashionista
herself, rocked a cute off-white pantsuit and a sharp pixie cut.
In the fifteen years Zora had known Melanie, the woman didn't look
like she had aged a day. Zora had the stray thought that maybe Melanie
should get into the business of selling her beauty secrets.
"I dropped by hoping I could take you to lunch."
"Today?" Zora blinked, trying to think what she had on
her schedule. Most likely she was loaded down with meetings and
appointments. Mainly because that was how it was every day.
"C'mon. Say yes. It's been months since we've gotten together
and just girl-talked."
Henry reappeared in the doorway. "Two minutes, Ms. Campbell."
"I'll be right there." Zora glanced back down at her
friend and felt the tug of playing hooky.
"Don't front. You know you want to," Melanie pressed.
"All right. All right." She glanced at her watch. "It's
going to take about two hours to film this twenty-minute infomercial.
I can call—"
"How about I wait here on the set?"
Zora blinked. "You want to wait?"
"Sure. Why not?"
Zora's eyes narrowed suspiciously. "What are you up to?"
"Huh? What? Nothing." She tried to cover with a bright
smile, but it only made her look guilty.
"Ms. Campbell, we need you on set."
"I'm coming." She moved toward the door, but then stopped.
"I'll go to lunch with you, Mel, but don't think I don't know
you're up to something."
"Who? Me?" Melanie batted her long lashes at her friend.
"Please. You ought to know better. That's my signature move."
She wagged her finger. "You're definitely up to something."
Melanie pressed her lips together in order to remain mum.
Zora laughed. "All right. I'll go to lunch with you but whatever
else you have in mind, my answer is no." Zora winked at her
friend and rushed to the set.
Melanie stayed behind with a huge smile on her face. "We'll
just see about that."
"You know you're going to hell for lying to that sweet old
man," Kitty Ervin warned with a wave of her finger. She softened
the admonishment with a smile. In the three years she had known
Jaxon Landon she couldn't remember a time she could ever stay mad
at the sexy multimillionaire. In fact, it was hard enough just to
be in the same room without having the impulse to rip off his clothes
and try to screw his brains out.
"Sweet old man?" Jaxon Landon chuckled as he sat down
behind his office desk and pulled out his checkbook. "You can't
possibly be talking about my grandfather."
"Of course I am," Kitty insisted, leaning a hip against
his sturdy mahogany desk. "Despite your efforts to inform your
family of my lucrative career choice, every five minutes, your grandmother
was nothing but kind to me the entire time I was there."
"My grandmother, yes. Carlton—that's a horse of another
color." Jaxon's rich laughter filled the large office. At six
foot four and caramel candy-coated, Jaxon Landon managed the impossible
feat of being both pretty-boy fine and alpha-male rugged at the
same time. He was always immaculately groomed from head to toe,
and the way he walked exuded a certain wild and dangerous grace.
And his voice! His voice alone had the power to weaken the strongest
"Besides, old money is nothing if not civil. It's what is
being said behind closed doors that really matters. Trust me. My
grandmother is likely crying to everyone who'll listen that her
mother is rolling around in her grave—no—rolling around,
keening in her grave at the very thought of me marrying a stripper.
I love her dearly, but she does tend to be overly dramatic from
time to time." He laughed, shaking his head.
Kitty's back stiffened. She wasn't ashamed of her profession. It
was the idea that someone thought it eliminated her from landing
someone like Jaxon Landon. Just because he was the new "Prince
of Wall Street" and was cloaked in money, power and respect
didn't mean that he was out of her league. It just meant that she
would have to step up her game.
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