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Authors: Sylvia McDaniel

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BOOK: The Relationship Coach
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“Because you’re not sure you want to buy the bull.”

Lacey grimaced at Amanda. “Funny. I’d rather find out before I go down the aisle than after.”

“Amen. If the meeting with the producer doesn’t go well, are you going to be okay with your decision not to do the documentary?” she questioned.

Lacey squirmed as turmoil ripped through her. Her gut instincts seemed to have gone on vacation. The idea of doing this documentary had been exciting, yet frightening at the same time. Turning Reed down had been gut wrenching. But his last responses to her questions had shown her he didn’t believe in what they were doing.

“I don’t know. The company is growing, though slower than I had anticipated, and I want Mate Incorporated to be successful. I just think television is our next venue, and we need to do whatever we can to get there. The bottom line is I didn’t trust Reed Hunter.”

***

“Did she take the deal?” Graham Turner, owner of Graham Productions, asked, sitting behind his big desk, making deals, creating story ideas, and changing or destroying lives.

Reed’s stomach plummeted; his lungs no longer sucked air as he sat down across from his boss. He sighed. “No, she turned me down.”

“Crap!” Graham said.

“But, I can still film most of it without her. And I’m going to see if I can convince a couple of employees to speak with me on camera. I think we can still do this without her help.”

Reed didn’t like doing individual, emotional subjects for films. He enjoyed taking down dictators and exposing unfair trade practices.

“I’d rather she was in there helping us, and then we slammed her with the information. But you do what you can. Just put this bitch out of business.”

He especially didn’t enjoy filming something so malicious toward a woman. Something that if not done properly could create a backlash that could ruin someone’s career or make their life a living hell.

“Agreed. And the next film, I can choose any subject I want.”

“You are in total control of your next film,” Graham promised him.

How could he turn down the opportunity to pick and choose his next documentary subject?

“Ruin her, Reed. I lost Juliet because of this woman. Make the bitch suffer.”

 

 

Chapter Four

 

R
eed glanced at his production schedule. He’d been refining it for several weeks. Now with Lacey Morgan out of the picture, he was revising it once again. Still he intended to show the folly of using a “Coach” for anything other than sports. There were life coaches, spiritual coaches, wellness coaches, career coaches, you name it and they were out there. But what credentials did these people have?

Ty stuck his head in the office. “Hey man, how’s it coming?”

“Almost done. We’re still going for the same approach. I want to show how these people are making large sums of money on innocent people. It’s a sham,” he said with vigor. Plus, it had cost him a girlfriend and more importantly his boss a girlfriend. Damn, he missed sex. “How did the meeting go?”

Though Ty was the cameraman, they worked together, and when Reed couldn’t get to a meeting, Ty would step in and take over. They had a great business relationship and worked everything out between them. Except the editing. Reed did all the post-production work. This kept their costs down and their profits higher.

“I didn’t have time to listen to Graham’s Christmas list of what he wanted in the film.”

“It’s lengthy.”

“Knowing Graham, I’m sure it is.”

“Are you okay with changing the focus?” Ty asked.

What choice did Reed have? He may not be able to film Lacey’s corporation, but if he had enough interviews with dissatisfied members, then he would say she refused an on-camera interview to tell her side.

“I’m flexible. But I’m still going to show ‘Mate Incorporated’ with its leader Lacey Morgan. Two disgruntled members have agreed to on-camera interviews, and I’m hoping an employee will come forward.”

An uncomfortable moment of silence stretched between them, alerting Reed that something bothered his friend.

“In the past, you were more interested in showing the world something you thought was morally wrong. But what’s the harm in what Lacey’s doing?” Ty asked. “Yeah, your girlfriend dumped you because of Lacey, but her reasons were legit.”

For a moment, Reed was stunned, and he fairly exploded. “Why is a relationship coach telling women how to choose a partner? She has a certificate. Big whoop! A piece of paper, not a degree in psychotherapy.”

Ty rubbed his chin and frowned. “I don’t think what she’s doing is all that wrong. There are a lot of dating services that offer the same or even less than her company, and they don’t give you any guidelines on choosing the right person.”

Ty stepped into his office, and Reed whirled in his chair to face him. It wasn’t often they disagreed.

“Good because I’m going to compare this ‘coach’ crap to a dating service and show how what she offers is a glorified dating service where you pay more. And dating services, who needs them?”

Ty glanced away and shrugged, his face relaxed. “Fair enough. But I have a buddy who met his wife on one of those on-line companies.”

Reed rolled his eyes. What kind of man used a dating service? “I consider those places man-bait shops. They provide the hook, the bait, and the reel. Your friend was a sucker. He got caught.”

“He’s happy,” Ty said, leaning against the door frame. “He’s married and getting sex every night. That’s more than us.”

“He’s trapped.”

Ty shook his head. “Sometimes I think being trapped has its advantages.”

“You just need to get laid,” Reed said, laughing at his cameraman.

“Definitely,” Ty said with a sigh and changed the subject. “When do we begin production?”

“I’m working on the shooting schedule now. Our first meeting with the crew should happen next week. And then we begin.”

Reed wanted to get this film completed, so he could begin a documentary he had longed to do for several years. He longed to shoot a film comparing European and American tax structures.

“This is our fifth documentary together,” Ty said, his voice raising, “and I’ve been excited about working on all of them, but this time, I have a bad vibe, man. I don’t know. I hope this project doesn’t blow up in our faces.”

There was only one thing about Ty that got on Reed’s nerves. His bad vibes. Every film had a vibe, and at the beginning, they were always catastrophic. Every film he was certain would be their last film. Every film would be a disaster.

“You’re always nervous in the beginning. Remember when we were shooting that dictator in Africa? You were so afraid you threw up three times before we even got on the plane.”

Ty’s brows raised, his eyes widened. “Hell, yes, I was afraid. If he didn’t like you, you’d face a firing squad. I kept envisioning my brains splattered on the ground.”

Reed shook his head. “And when we went to Russia to film the sex slave trade, I thought you were going to skip town on me before we finished.”

Throwing up his hands, Ty said, “When some guy threatens to cut us up into fish bait, it kind of freaked me out.”

“You get freaked out every single time before we start shooting. You should be thankful this time we’re staying here in the good ole USA and not traveling to some third world country,” Reed said, blowing off his friend’s concerns.

Filming Mate Incorporated would be the easiest documentary he’d produced.

“Ruining someone’s life in my own neighborhood means nothing?” Ty asked, his voice rising. “What if they have a father or brother who doesn’t appreciate our talent? I don’t mean to sound negative…”

Reed gritted his teeth, tension ricocheting like a tennis ball inside his body, bouncing off his organs. The urge to grab Ty’s camera and film him, just so he could play back this nonsense after they were finished, consumed him. “Then shut-up. We start production in a week, and we’re going to show how relationship coaches are nothing more than high-priced dating clubs.”

“Dating clubs have some great looking women.”

Reed gazed over at his cameraman, not certain he understood what Ty was trying to tell him. “Have you tried a dating club?”

Ty nodded. “My date was a smoking hot babe that never returned my phone calls.”

Reed stared at Ty in surprise. “Really?”

“Yeah, I also tried online dating. But it sucked.”

“Then find girls the old fashioned way. Go to a bar!”

***

Lacey glanced around the exterior office of Chimney Rock Productions nervously while she tried to appear interested in a gossip magazine. She couldn’t tell you who graced the cover.

She had worn her best looking cream slacks with a peach tailored shirt and cream heels. The shirt accentuated her slender figure and made her complexion glow. Amanda had said she looked professional this morning.

Pictures of the different productions Stan Whitaker had been involved with hung on the walls. He’d done everything from comedy to reality TV. Nerves whirred in her stomach like a blender on high. Someday her show could be displayed on that wall.

“Ms. Morgan, Mr. Whitaker is ready for you,” his secretary said, waiting to escort her to his office.

Lacey stood, her knees quaking, her stomach whirring, her heart jumping like she’d run a red light. Her body reflected DEFCON 1 on the anxiety front.

She smiled and followed the secretary, focusing on deep, calm, steadying breaths. She’d prepared a kick-ass proposal, and now the show was in fate’s hands.

Entering his office, she spotted a picture of her client Linda Whitaker, sitting on his desk. Because of Lacey’s work, Linda had met Stan, and the two of them had married over a year ago. So in a roundabout way, Stan was a product of her coaching.

As he talked on the phone, he motioned for her to sit down. “Listen, I have to go, but I need those numbers faxed to me today before five o’clock.” He paused to listen to the other person. “Okay, thanks.”

He hung up the phone, stood and walked around the desk to grasp her hand. “Hello, I’m Stan Whitaker.”

“Nice to meet you, Stan.”

“Linda told me all about how you worked with her to find the right guy and look how that turned out. We’re celebrating anniversary number two next month in Hawaii.”

“Congratulations.”

“Thanks, I’m a lucky guy.”

“Linda was one of my brightest clients. She learned quickly.”

Enough of the chit-chat, she wanted to rush him to the nitty-gritty. She wanted to know what he thought of her proposal. Did she have a chance at a television program of her own?

He walked around his desk and returned to his chair. “Tell me about your business.”

“I’ve been a relationship coach for five years. Currently, I have about twenty-five people I’m working with. I give one to two lectures a week on dating. In my matchmaking division, I have over three hundred clients searching for a mate. Last year was our best year ever, even in a down economy.”

His face was blank of emotion, and all her training of reading people failed her.

Then he sat back and gave her a smile, his brown eyes gazing at her. “Impressive. I went over your proposal, and I must admit I’m intrigued. Your show idea is sound.”

Lacey’s heart did a little mambo dance of excitement, and her knees joined in the steps, shaking. She pressed them together. “Great.”

“I took the liberty of showing your proposal and DVD to several networks I work closely with, and they expressed interest. We even discussed a pilot program to see the audience reaction.”

He took a deep breath, and she sensed a “but” coming.

“They liked the idea, but they didn’t recognize your name or the name of your business. They kept asking about your credentials. How long had you been in practice, etc? In this economic climate, no one is willing to take a chance on an unknown,” he said, his voice all business as he placed his hands on top of the desk and clasped them together.

She frowned, her excitement plummeting like an elevator in free fall. “But my practice is growing. I thought the show would make me well-known and increase my business.”

Aargh, how could she become well-known without working even harder? This would mean more seminars, more traveling, and more time spent working one-on-one with couples. Seven days a week appeared to be her future.

“Yes, it would, but they want you to have a certain amount of fame, name recognition, before they spend several hundreds of thousands of dollars producing a television show.”

Lacey wanted this so bad she would have put up her own money for the production, if she had enough.

“How can I increase my notoriety enough to make them want to do this show?” Lacey asked, wanting him to confirm what she already knew.

“Your bio says you’re doing seminars in multiple cities,” Stan said.

“Yes,” she replied, grasping at ideas like a cat in a fish bowl. Her chest tight with disappointment.

“You’ve got to grow your audience in every city. Maybe even expand the number of cities in which you hold seminars.”

Like a lightning bolt, Reed Hunter’s face appeared in her mind. “What if I told you I have a filmmaker interested in doing a documentary on relationship coaches and wants to film my business?”

“Who?”

“Have you ever heard of Reed Hunter?”

She watched the name recognition appear on his face and sighed, knowing she’d made a huge blunder.

“God, yes. He’s done several documentaries for PBS, and his last one, the collapse of the financial system, got him nominated for a film award.”

“I turned him down,” she said. Stupid, stupid, stupid, she thought, despair wrenching her insides into a pretzel.

Stan’s eyes widened.

“I wasn’t certain about the angle he intended to show my business. It wouldn’t be good if he destroyed my business. And I wanted to use my time on this show, not on a documentary.” The words poured from her mouth like a flash flood.

“Can you contact Mr. Hunter and tell him you’ve changed your mind? I can almost guarantee I’ll have a network interested in buying the show once they find out about the documentary.”

BOOK: The Relationship Coach
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