When successful millionaire businessman Ben Radford first met Rowena, he thought her frosty and uptight. But once Rowena started designing his garden, he was determined to discover why she'd put up such steely barriers--by taking them down, layer by layer....Discovering the beautiful, sensual woman underneath was a revelation! It was just as he hoped; he would help her overcome the past and then he would move on. After all, his divorce had taught him that he couldn't offer more than a temporary affair.But Rowena had come along way from mousy wimp she'd once been. She decided that she could help Ben believe in love again: she'd give him the makeover of a lifetime!
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April 30, 2008
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Excerpt from The Millionaire's Makeover by Lilian Darcy
Rowena gritted her teeth and held her clipboard more tightly, as if attempting to get a literal and physical grip on her fast-disappearing patience. "And one final question..." she said.
"Final? Really? Thank heaven for small mercies," muttered the man who stood beside her.
Without so much as a glance in her direction, he reached into the inner jacket pocket of his perfectly tailored business suit and brought out a cell phone. Apparently empires might crumble if he didn't have it pressed to his ear within three seconds.
And apparently he'd already dismissed Rowena as the slightly prim, conservatively dressed, uninteresting academic type that she was--which, actually, she was quite comfortable being most of the time--and didn't look at her for long enough to revise this impression. His steely gaze missed the region of her face by at least two yards.
She ignored his rudeness and persisted, "Do you like barbecues?"
"Do I like what?"
"Um, when you have friends over, there are salads and beer, you cook outside on a grill...? Bar-be-cues," she articulated clearly and helpfully, as if speaking to someone who'd begun learning English yesterday.
"I know what barbecues are, Dr. Madison." He favored her with a quarter-second gaze, at last. "Listen, I'm a very busy man--"
"Yes, and you're exactly the kind of man I don't like," she cut in. The words spilled out before she'd consciously decided to speak them. Her tone sliced into the balmy Southern California air like an icicle splintering onto a concrete driveway.
"I understand very well that you're busy. And seriously, radioactively important. And that I'm not. Please don't feel that you have to parade the fact, with your cell phone as a prop, in order to get it through to me. I'm not stupid, and I don't appreciate being treated that way."
Feeling the angry heat creep into her cheeks, she threw the clipboard onto an ancient wooden workbench that had been abandoned for no discernible reason on the adobe brick veranda. The clipboard's attached pages, covered in her neat blue handwriting, fluttered. Ben Radford dropped his cell phone into his trouser pocket in surprise at her frank speaking and took a shocked step back.
The mouse had roared. Who knew?
His reaction almost made Rowena laugh out loud. His well-shaped mouth had fallen open and then snapped shut again. He was wiping the back of his neck with his lean fingers as if he'd begun to itch or sweat. He was sinfully good-looking and dressed for unquestioning success, and there was something quite shocking about seeing him out of his depth, even for a few seconds. some more or creep back into her warm, familiar mouse tailored jacket flapping open at the front like two gray bird's wings and the black fabric of her synthetic-blend trouser legs catching at her calves and generating megawatts of static cling, thanks to her haste.
There was no point in going back through the magnificently restored house. She could take the side exit from this overgrown mission-style courtyard and proceed directly to her car. She would invoice Ben Radford for her travel expenses today, regard their short-lived business relationship as over, and, just by the way, she would never wear these horrible, clingy trousers again.
No, she decided, she wasn't sorry that she'd spoken the way she had. She'd defended both her own professional worth and the worth of Mr. Radford's neglected and unloved piece of ground, and she was proud of having spoken her mind.
It was a huge personal milestone, and her whole body still tingled with the triumph of having reached it.
Two years earlier she would have burst into speechless tears, paralyzed by the very thought of a confrontation with a forbiddingly arrogant and successful man like this, no matter how much justice was on her side.
She would have rushed home to hide and not answered the phone for a week, in case it was Mr. Radford calling. She'd have relived the encounter over and over, exaggerating it in her memory until it froze her completely and stopped her from leaving the safety of her home.
This time she'd actually said what she really thought. She felt a little dizzy, bubbling over with the need to share the victory and to celebrate it somehow. Putting the clingy trousers into a charity rag bin wouldn't be celebration enough. She decided to call Rox--her identical twin--with a full report as soon as she could. Rox would probably send her champagne.
Losing the chance to work on such a fabulous garden restoration gave her some regrets, true, but it couldn't be helped. If Ben Radford was this difficult to deal with at their first consultation, he'd be a nightmare further down the track. She should consider this as a lucky escape.
"Wait a minute, Dr. Madison!" he said beside her, just as she was about to push on the rusty iron gate that led out of the courtyard.