Decadence. Sinful pleasure. It"s all I want. Until I see her.
After taking over my family"s business, all I care about is the bottom line. Sure, we sell sugary, fat filled heart attack snacks by the trillions, but people love them. After all, that"s what life is about " pleasure.
All I want is a night of pure sin with no sticky entanglements, so I hire an escort. But Juliana isn"t who I think she is. And vice versa.
She"s not only my date, she"s my blonde, vegan, lethally sexy enemy.
Now, I need to keep my hands off her. Stop thinking about her. Stop wanting her. But I can"t.
Damn. How can a blind date go so wrong … and so deliciously right"Books by Author:Alice Ward Books
Some days, following my passion was easier than others.
I loved the days when I was able to get a former couch potato to turn their life around and realize that healthy eating and moderate exercise wasn"t a death sentence. I relished whenever a client came in and told me that not only were the numbers on the scale down, but they had more energy than ever before or could finally walk up a flight of stairs or run a block without getting winded. It always brought a tear to my eye whenever I got an unexpected hug from someone who finally "got it" when it came to nutrition.
Today was not one of those days.
I sat on the overstuffed sofa in my office at the Healthy Steps Nutritional Center, part of the Children"s Hospital of New York. Across from me was my newest client, a sullen thirteen-year-old named Emily who"d just been diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes.
"I don"t know, Miss Hurley." The girl"s voice was shaky, less than a whisper, and she hadn"t been able to make eye contact with me since I gave her the news that if she wanted to shake this diagnosis, she would need to change her relationship with food.
"Call me Juliana," I offered, trying to make her feel more at home. "Or Jule."
"Juliana." She tested the name shyly. "I"m sorry, but I love to eat. I just can"t help it."
I didn"t let any discouragement show on my face. "What"s your favorite foods""
Her eyes flicked up to meet mine, but only for a moment before they fell to her twisting fingers again. "I"m not giving up my Heigh-di-Hos. I honestly don"t think it"s possible for me to have the willpower to do something like that. I love them too much."
Ugh, Heigh-di-Hos. Enough sugar and carbs to kill a week"s worth of dieting as well as rot every tooth in a person"s head. Plus, you could practically taste the chemicals in them. Not to mention that to some people, like Emily, they were as addictive as crack cocaine. Simply the worst, number one offender on the nutritionally empty Foods to Avoid list I"d just presented to her.
Emily"s mother, Mrs. Aker, a skinny nightmare of bleached blonde perfection, crossed and uncrossed her legs. "Oh, yes, you are certainly going to give them up, young lady!" She huffed and leaned in my direction. "We told her that she can"t eat anything she pleases," she whispered, as if her lowered voice couldn"t reach the girl sitting just inches away. She takes after his"" she snarled the word, "mother, if you know what I mean. They"re all big-boned, hefty people. They so much as look at a cake and they put on weight. I told her she might never have the metabolism of the rest of the family, and she needs to make accommodations. But does she" No, I can"t keep her hand out of the sweets drawer."
Why do you even have a sweets drawer"
I inhaled a deep breath. "Have you tried keeping the temptation out of the house""
She looked at me as if I"d lost my mind. "I have two other children. None of us has a weight problem. Why should all of us suffer because one person does""
I frowned as the girl, cheeks pinking, looked at her lap. Not at her lap, probably, but at her thighs, which were spreading out of the daisy duke short-shorts all the young girls were wearing. She winced and covered them with her hands.
I knew that dangerous, self-loathing look very well because I"d been there, sitting with that same posture, and what I"d thought then was far more dangerous than thinking about Heigh-di-Hos. I wish I had a knife" I"d cut all the fat right off me.
"Emily," I said gently, reaching over to touch her hand. "What about other activities to fill your time, instead of eating" Are you active""
She shook her head. "I used to dance, but not anymore."
Mrs. Aker sighed and whispered, "All the girls make fun of her."
I looked down at my clipboard. Emily Aker, seventh grade. Just turned thirteen. Five-one, one-hundred and eighty-nine pounds. She"d been steadily putting on weight since she was nine years old, and after ruling out all kinds of disorders, her doctors had finally diagnosed her with type 2 diabetes.
As a chunky teen who loved nothing more than filling my stomach with Heigh-di-Hos and Twinkle Toes and all kinds of packaged deliciousness, I"d been there.
"Girls can be cruel at that age," I acknowledged, tapping my pen on the hard surface of the clipboard. I looked directly at her mother. "Or any age, for that matter."
Mrs. Aker didn"t even blink. It was because she didn"t see herself as being critical, I knew. I"d seen it before. Heard it before. They just offered "tough love" or "constructive criticism." They refused to acknowledge that their verbal wounds were painful.