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Authors: Sylvia McDaniel

The Relationship Coach

BOOK: The Relationship Coach
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The Relationship Coach

By

Sylvia McDaniel

 

 

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Table of Contents

Copyright

Chapter One

 

R
elationship coaches are no more than glorified witch doctors making money off people’s emotions.

Reed Hunter stepped into the back of the glitzy, hotel ballroom in Austin, Texas, to catch the last few moments of relationship coach Lacey Morgan’s
Twelve Steps of Dating Seminar
.

Reed received a lot of satisfaction from protecting underdogs who are unable to defend themselves from the many scammers in life. Like a crime fighter, he focused his camera on swindlers and cheats, revealing how they stole hard-earned cash from innocents. Con artists like Lacey Morgan.

A beautiful, professionally attired, longhaired blonde, wearing a short skirt that exposed boundless legs, owned the stage. Despite the fact she was going down, two things impressed him. Her Miss America smile and her mystifying ability to screw with people’s relationships-first his boss’s and now his.

She strode to the edge of the stage. “Today, we’ve learned to recognize your expectations in a mate. You’ve learned you need to find someone who matches your lifestyle. Someone who challenges and makes you think about life differently. Someone who likes to do the same things you do, but encourages you to try new experiences.”

Reed coughed to stifle the sound of laughter rumbling deep within his chest. People bought into this psychobabble crap?

Lacey Morgan, dating guru, had convinced his girlfriend, Blair, to end their convenient sexual relationship. Since he wasn’t promising her a ring, a honeymoon or his last name, she’d decided to move on. And she had. Packed up, moved out, and left with a
so-long-sucker
text message.

 

“I know many of you were dragged here by a friend, coworker, or the significant other in your life. However you got here, I hope you learned something today that will help make your relationships stronger.”

Waving to the crowd, she strode from the stage. The audience stood and cheered, paying homage as if she were a rock star, not a therapist.

Blair’s leaving had brought Ms. Morgan to his attention. And he enjoyed nothing more than exposing shysters like Ms. Morgan who earned their often opulent lifestyles by feeding off people’s emotions. After he exposed Ms. Morgan’s devious ways, Blair would probably return and thank him.

Shaking his head at the number of gullible people who believed her spiel, Reed stepped into the hallway, leaned against the wall, and stared as the audience streamed out of the door. Most of the women stopped to purchase a book or CD or DVD. He watched her assistants take their money with a mobile card reader. If the cunning cheater had a cash register, the
cha-chings
would have echoed through the hall.

Yes, she was stealing from the lonely and vulnerable.

Ten minutes later, her assistants began packing up the merchandise while he stood waiting, waiting, waiting.

A door opened.

There she was, Lacey Morgan. Charlatan. Chiseler. Cheat. Her gorgeous face and knock-me-to-my-knees body sent the air in his lungs packing for a short vacation, leaving him gasping like a man in need of a ventilator.

Per her online bio, she was in her late twenties and only had two letters behind her name-not psychologist, psychotherapist or counselor, just a B.A. And he was living proof any dumb schmuck, that goofed off for four years, could still get a Bachelor’s degree.

Reed moved away from the wall and stepped in front of Miss-I-Know-Everything. “Excuse me.”

She turned and he switched on his best trust-me-I-want-to-help-you smile.

One of her assistants, a short brunette, stepped in front of him. “Can I help you?”

“I have a question for Ms. Morgan.” He completely ignored her employee and averted his eyes from the swell of Lacey’s breasts that were no longer hidden by her suit jacket.

Lacey laid her hand on her employee’s shoulder and locked stunning blue eyes on Reed.

Any other time, those lovely blue eyes would have had him in full pursuit of the hot Ms. Morgan.

“Yes?”

He held out his hand and used a deep timbre that always scored him a woman’s number. “Reed Hunter. I’d like to discuss your business over dinner.”

“Sorry, I’m not available.” Her response was quick, cold, concise, and held no consideration.

This could be a tough sell.

“I’m producing a film. A documentary on relationship coaches, and I’d like your business to be the main focus.”

Few people could resist being on camera. Few people realized the power of film. Few people knew Reed Hunter’s skills to expose imposters with a camera.

“Why would you want to include me?” she asked, her voice direct, her gaze cautious, like she might be immune to his charm.

“I want you,” he said, upping the charisma. “You’re the best relationship coach in the country.”

Her face visibly relaxed and her scrutiny morphed into at least consideration and at last earned him a smile.

“Thank you. Who else is part of this film?”

He named two other relationship coaches he’d found on the internet, never intending to film either of them.

“What other films have you produced?” she asked.

“I’m not as well known as Michael Moore, but I won an IDA for my film on the Russian sex trade.” He left out the other films he’d done on people who conned and cheated their way through life.

“The IDA?”

“The International Documentary Association. It’s the industry’s best film award.”

“Nice.” A soft sigh lowered her shoulders and the tiny tension filled lines around her eyes relaxed. The barriers she’d erected between them slid down a notch.

“Within the documentary film arena, the IDA’s are as prestigious as the Oscars.” Some day he’d win that golden statue, but not with a film on dating.

“Tonight, we return to Dallas.” Lacey glanced at the woman standing beside her before she returned her attention to Reed. “Amanda is my marketing rep. Send me a DVD of one of your documentaries. Call her and make an appointment. We can discuss your offer,” she paused, “after I see one of your films.”

Success pumped like a narcotic through his veins, swelling his chest and head. Lacey Morgan was no different from all the other women he’d coerced over the years. Once she signed the release, Reed would reveal this scheming swindler and save men’s sexual arrangements from the likes of this relationship coach.

His camera would reveal how she made a living off susceptible, defenseless women with unrealistic promises.

Amanda placed a business card in his hand. “Our office hours are on the card. Call me.”

His jilted boss, Graham was right. Reed would film the lovely Ms. Morgan as a crusader for dating and then reveal her as a fake using people for their money.

“Thanks, ladies. See you soon.” He strolled away, the familiar pursuit of the hunt spiking his heart rate faster than running a marathon.
Game on, baby. Game on.

***

Lacey watched Reed stride down the hall, his walk confident, determined, and oh, so masculine.

“He wants to do a documentary!” Amanda’s voice rose a notch away from a full squeal, her eyes wide, as an oh-my-God smile spread across her pixie face.

Lacey cautioned, “Documentaries can make us paupers or millionaires. We need to know how Reed intends to film Mate Incorporated, before we make a decision.”

She wanted to join Amanda in a fan girl squeal while jumping up and down like they’d seen a rock star, but there was a certain decorum she had to maintain, and she didn’t know enough about Reed Hunter to make a decision.

“But it would give us lots of free publicity!”

“It could.” Lacey’s business had come a long way from that first meeting with her friends in the university library three years ago after she’d watched them make horrible dating choices.

“This documentary could propel Mate Incorporated right into television.” Amanda could hardly contain her enthusiasm.

Best friends since college, together they’d built Lacey’s small practice into a growing business that finally paid the bills.

“Your meeting with the television producer is next week,” Amanda reminded her.

“I’d rather do the television show. Besides, there is something about this guy. For some reason, my internal alarm is shrieking danger, danger, danger.”

Amanda frowned. “Maybe it’s not alarm bells. Maybe your body isn’t shrieking danger, but rather hunk alert.”

“Doubtful.” Lacey pursed her lips. “Google Reed Hunter and see what you find.”

“You haven’t seen Dean in a while.”

Lacey smiled at the idea of seeing her nerdy lover again. His image triggered a zinger of excitement, anticipation and stimulation, straight from her heart to between her legs. “Dean’s coming home tomorrow night. I can’t wait to pick him up at the airport.”

“How long have you guys been apart this time?”

“A month.”

Amanda’s hazel eyes narrowed in disapproval, and she reached over and grabbed Lacey’s arm. “How can you tolerate him being gone so long?”

“Dean’s job involves a lot of traveling. He loves what he does.” Lacey had already gone over every danger, playing out every scenario in her head a million times.

“What happens if you get married and have kids?” Amanda released her arm and gave a little shrug as they walked down the hall towards the door of the hotel. “Sorry, kids. Daddy missed your birthday because of work. He was off in the Congo, searching for a rare species of plants.
Risking his life
,” she drawled.

Lacey tried to be pragmatic, but she was growing tired of him being gone so much. A month was a long separation for a couple dating. “Dean’s job is important. His company finds new plants to use in pharmaceuticals and they need him to explore the jungle.”

Part of her hated his job. Hated him risking his life and feared for him every time he got on a plane.

“Girl, I just hope he doesn’t get kidnapped or sick in one of those God-forsaken countries.”

All the fear she’d kept carefully locked away, now lay exposed and bleeding in her mind. Amanda had catalogued all Lacey’s fears, except for the one that had Dean finding another woman. For some reason that wasn’t a concern and she didn’t understand why. “I try not to think of the danger he might be in, and instead, I concentrate on the positives. He’s doing what he loves.”

“Tomorrow, I’ll mark my calendar-do not call-Lacey while she’s getting laid for the first time in a month.” A smile lit her heart-shaped face.

Warmth chased the fear away, spreading through Lacey like sunshine at a fourth of July picnic. She couldn’t restrain the smile that filled her face at the thought of seeing Dean-her dark-haired, handsome, geeky guy who fit all her criteria. The man was her perfect match. “It’s been a while. I’m looking forward to spending time with him.”

“Have you told your mom and sister you’re apartment hunting for you and Dean?” Amanda asked, her forehead scrunched into an oh-crap expression. “Your mother is known for her strong opinions.”

Lacey loved her mother, but there were times when facing the woman could be like walking into a blizzard, dark, dangerous, and dreadful.

“Oh God, Mother will be horrified we’re living together. Her philosophy is if you love them, marry them. And she’s got five marriage licenses as proof.”

“Your mother is a weird character,” Amanda said, her eyes wide as she shook her head. “I’m just saying.”

“Character? I’d say character is a mild description of a woman married that many times. A woman who still believes in true love and is fixated on finding husband number six.” Lacey loved her mother, but her childhood had been more like a rerun of
Eight is Enough
with a revolving Dad door.

“Wow.”

BOOK: The Relationship Coach
11.1Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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