Thursday, March 28, 2013


No sooner do I post an excerpt from my 2nd Figure Skating Mystery, On Thin Ice, below, then I learn that the entire book is available for free, illegally, here.

What can I say?  It's big Internet, and there's nothing I can do to keep my work from being stolen, so... enjoy!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013


In honor of The Young & the Restless' 40th Anniversary, take a trip down memory lane via interviews and video clips from my book, Soap Opera 451: A Time Capsule of Daytime Drama's Greatest Moments with:

* Victoria Rowell talking about Dru accidentally sleeping with Malcolm... and Lily's eventual discovery of her paternity (click here)

* Michael Corbett on David's reign of terror, including the breathtaking masquerade ball and his rather ignominious demise down a garbage chute (click here)

* Linda Dano praising the bravery of Jeanne Cooper's (and Kay's) on-camera face-lift (click here)

Monday, March 25, 2013


Listen to Erica Levy Klein, author of "SKINNY SPICES: 50 Nifty Homemade Spice Blends That Can Turn Blah Healthy Eating Into Flavor-Rich Delicious Dining" explain how you can transform your life - via spices! - on The Transformed Traveler Show, below!

Listen to internet radio with Lessons Learned on Blog Talk Radio


"Rachel thinks the compound is responsible for Carl and the children’s disappearance.  And Lorna’s, too.”  The look in Lucas’ eyes was enough to encourage Donna to guess, “That notion has crossed your mind, as well, hasn’t it?”

“Impossible for it not to,” he mumbled.  “Carl made some dangerous enemies.  Sure, he tried to pin all the blame on Spencer, but, despite his being convinced of it, Carl is hardly the cleverest game-player on the board.  He’s been outsmarted before.  It’s conceivable he was, again.”

“Rachel thinks it was a two-pronged revenge.  That taking Lorna was a way to make you suffer.”

“Mission accomplished then.”

“And that it’s possible they’re all still alive.”

“I’ve put out some feelers,” Lucas admitted.


“Nothing.  Not a peep from the usual suspects.  If Carl is alive somewhere, he’s got a hell of a network protecting him.”

“Or holding him,” Donna noted.

Lucas smiled grimly.  “You’ll forgive me if the image of the great Carl Hutchins shackled in a dark room somewhere, deprived of foie gras and Shakespearean sonnets fills me with a certain amount of satisfaction bordering on glee.”


Donna attempts to do as Rachel ordered while Russ attempts to put Rachel's mind at ease.  Iris attempts to make Dennis see the truth about Marley, Frankie attempts to give Charlie what she wants, and Kevin and Amanda attempt to go on with their marriage.

Who will succeed on today's AWT at:

Thursday, March 21, 2013


We have a Passover family tradition at our house. Every spring, whenever the holiday happens to fall (seriously, 2013? End of March?), a few days beforehand, the kids and I watch “The Prince of Egypt.”

This DreamWorks animated film released in 1998 is one of my favorites for bringing the annual story to life in a–more or less–accurate manner. Did rebellious teens Moses and Rameses really drag-race their horses and chariots around the pyramids and drop watermelons off of balconies? That answer, alas, is lost to history. (Though I was surprised to learn that watermelons were, in fact, mentioned in the bible as a food eaten by Israelites while they were in bondage in Egypt, and that watermelons are also depicted in ancient hieroglyphics. Who knew?) But, a rabbi friend did tell me that, because the bible says God spoke to Moses in his own voice, that’s Val Kilmer playing both Moses and God in the movie. Cool, huh? (Said the geek with the Masters in Media Analysis.)

I’m also a musical theater geek, and I happen to love the score to “The Prince of Egypt.” Here is a tip: Don’t listen to “Through Heaven’s Eyes” while postpartum and hormonal. You will cry. And scare the kids.

There are other things about this movie that might scare the kids, too. Or at least upset them. Pharaoh sobbing alone on the banks of the Red Sea after the Israelites–including his one-time “brother”–have crossed is a poignant image that might be too much for sensitive children (and postpartum mothers). And the plagues, including the Death of the First Born, are not glossed over, but dramatized about as graphically and realistically as a children’s cartoon can get (this isn’t Wile E. Coyote style violence; it’s pretty real). It prompted my then 4-year-old daughter to ask, “I thought God was supposed to be the good guy in this story?”

Read my entire piece (also featuring Rugrats that look like Nazi caricatures and using "The Ten Commandments" to learn English) at:


Rachel said.  “Spencer, Carl and Lucas all tried to bring down the compound two years ago.  Spencer was killed, Carl has been kidnapped, and Lucas… well, what could possibly hurt Lucas more than the knowledge that his daughter was now suffering exactly the way he’d suffered?  Because of him.”

“The compound has been disbanded," Donna reminded.  "Their Canada site was compromised.”

“You expect me to believe there was only one site?”

“This isn’t Club Med.  They weren’t a franchise.”

“And here I thought you didn’t know anything about it,” Rachel smirked.

“You think I know what’s happened to Carl?”

“No,” Rachel admitted.

“Well, thank goodness for that.”

“But, I think you can find out.”


Rachel demands that Donna help her find Carl, Iris attempts to convince Sarah of Marley's true intentions, Kirkland has some advice for Grant, Charlie makes a confession to Frankie, Jen encourages GQ, and Olivia has a risky proposition for a shell-shocked Matt.

Not a single sensible decision is made by anyone on today's AWT:

Wednesday, March 20, 2013


Another review and giveaway for "Skinny Spices: 50 Nifty Homemade Spice Blends That Can Turn Blah Healthy Eating Into Flavor-Rich Delicious Dining” by Erica Levy Klein, previously published by Surrey Books in 1993, now re-released as an enhanced ebook by Alina Adams Media!

This book is interactive.  You can look through many different spice blends which are categorized by different styles of food.  For example, I chose from the all American spice and herb blends section which had 15 different blends to choose from.  Once you choose a blend, several recipes containing that blend are presented.  I chose the poultry blend. We eat a lot if chicken dishes in my house and it seemed a perfect option for me. You may enjoy the fish haters blend which I plan on trying in the future, or the classic pepper quartet blend...

It was very easy to find the spices I needed at my local grocer.  The mix and amounts you need will stretch far if you are on a budget which, again, was perfect for me. The recipe I chose was the Sexy Sirens Chicken. It sounded like something fun to say when my husband asks what this dish is called. It was such an easy recipe to follow too. When I was going through the other recipes, I noticed that they all seemed easy with minimal ingredients needed.  I was amazed at the nutritional information as well. It seemed too good to be true. It wasn’t!

Enter to win your copy at:

Tuesday, March 19, 2013


It's got soaps!

It's got skating!

And I'm sure the show-tunes are coming.

It's got everything I'm into.  So what aren't I watching Dancing With the Stars?

Monday, March 18, 2013


The March 2013 issue of Big Apple Parent ran an article where a pair of child psychologists wrote:

Let's imagine the kid who doesn't want to go to wherever it is he's supposed to be headed.  A best-case scenario for insisting your son go is that he discovers, to everyone's surprise, that he likes this or that sport more than he thought he would, or that he is better at it than he had believed.... All of which will evaporate in the wake of a parent saying something along the lives of Hey, I told you you'd like it! or See! You just had to stick with it!  Parents are often surprised to hear this - What's wrong with saying that? They challenge.  What?  Am I just supposed to say nothing?

No, not nothing - but certainly not that.  Because as brief and well intentioned as the remark is, it is still going to offend the child.  It says to him, You see, I knew it all along that this would happenYou should have listened to me in the first place.  Which says, I know what the outcome in these situations is going to be, which is just another way of saying, I really do know better about these things.  Maybe you do - but that's not what matters here.

I had not read that particular piece when I wrote my latest for Kveller, which included the following conclusion:

I know that current parenting philosophy dictates reason over bribery, and insists that children’s opinions should be given equal weight with adults as a sign of respect for their agency and in the interest of cultivating strong self-esteem.

Here’s the thing, though: My child’s opinion is not worth the same as mine. I know more than they do and, more often than not, I know better than they do. I knew that they would enjoy performing at this concert. And I was right.

In a related corollary, I am of the opinion that self-esteem comes from actually achieving something great, rather than constantly being told that you simply are great–without a periodic demand to stand up and prove it. Singing on stage with three professional cantors and a full adult choir before a few hundred people is not an easy thing to do. It’s intimidating and scary and getting past your fears in order to sing–and dance–is a major achievement. It warrants praise. And feeling good about yourself.

I wanted my children to have that experience. To feel fear and overcome it, and to be commended for it afterwards. I knew that it would teach them valuable lessons not just about Russian-Jewish music, but about any challenge they might face in life.

Read the complete article at: and let me know what you think!


“My husband was not a stupid man,” Rachel said.

“Neither was mine," Alice reminded.

“If Carl found out what Spencer was planning, of course he’d protect himself by making sure that he struck first.”

“And do you have any evidence for this theory of yours?”

“Carl, Elizabeth and Cory may still be alive,” Rachel said.

“I hope they are.  For your sake.  But what does Spencer….”

“If Spencer gave the order to have Carl held against his will, that order may not have been cancelled following Spencer’s death.  The compound might have still gone through with it.  Last summer.  They might have snatched Carl and the children.”

“Rachel,” Alice struggled to keep her tone civil, which was not an easy task under the circumstances.  “Is this really the narrative you’ve chosen to embrace?  Have you truly convinced yourself that not only was Carl’s betrayal of Spencer actually nothing less than an act of justifiable self-defense, but that his latest atrocity, making off with your children and your son’s wife – “

“We don’t know that.”

“ – That’s somehow Spencer’s fault, too?”


Rachel turns to Alice for the truth about Carl, while Felicia asks Lucas for some of the same.  Jamie is on to Olivia's game... somewhat, and that goes for Iris and Marley, as well.  Kirkland reels from Charlie's rejection, and Frankie makes a dangerous choice where her daughter is concerned.

Who is right and who is wrong?  You tell us at:

Thursday, March 14, 2013


“I’m sure in Marley’s mad mind it’s all perfectly rational.  She is Donna’s daughter, after all.  That whole family is utterly demented.”  Iris dismissed her son’s denials with a wave of the hand in order to move onto the true point of their discussion.  “I need you to do something for me, Dennis.”

“What’s that?”

She hesitated, realizing how absurd she was about to sound and hoping Dennis would at least allow her to explain.  “I need you to seduce Marley.”

“Excuse me?” The words came along with a choked laugh of disbelief.  For a multitude of reason.

“Oh, please, darling, it isn’t as if you haven’t done it before.  And for far, far less noble reasons and personages, may I remind you.”

“I’m sorry, Mom,” he was still laughing.  “But is there a problem on this Earth that you don’t believe a well-timed seduction couldn’t solve?”

“You’d be surprised,” she told him dryly.

“And why would I be doing this, exactly?”  He couldn’t wait to hear the answer.

“Because if Marley is smitten with you, she’ll leave Grant.  Which means she won’t have anymore access to our Daisy.”


Iris reverts back to her old ways (not that she ever really left them), Rachel comes to a horrifying realization, Dennis takes action where Marley is concerned, Jen reassures Steven while Chase puts Kevin on notice, Jamie calls Olivia on her games and Charlie stuns Kirkland.

Lots going on today at:

Wednesday, March 13, 2013


In honor of the World Figure Skating Championships currently going on, I use my experience as a researcher for ABC, ESPN, TNT and NBC to peel back the curtain and reveal what really goes on behind the scenes during an event - and just how much of an influence television has on sports and their results.

This excerpt from Murder on Ice: Enhanced Multimedia Edition takes places as the American Ladies champion, Erin, skates against the Russian Champion, Xenia, for the gold at Worlds.  Our heroine, Bex Levy, sits in the broadcast booth with announcers Francis and Diana Howarth as they call the event....

"Did we just witness a world championship performance, Francis?"

"I'd bet my Olympic gold medal on it!"

"Hey, you be careful! That's our gold medal you're gambling with there!"

"Do you disagree?"

"Oh, no, not at all, my dear."

Bex's tolerance level for cutesy dialogue reached gag proportions. Meanwhile, from the booth, Gil cheered, "Excellent, guys, excellent! Keep it going! We'll go to commercial before the marks come up; that'll really keep the tension high!"

Bex gritted her teeth—and not just to hold back nausea. Holding the marks for commercials was a practice she hated. Whenever television bought the rights to an event, they also bought the right to keep the scores from being announced until the time was convenient for them. To Bex, it didn't seem fair to make an athlete who'd worked their whole life for this moment wait an extra five minutes to find out if they'd succeeded or not, all in the name of ratings.

And Erin Simpson didn't seem to think it was too hot of a strategy, either. As soon as she dropped her closing pose, she was looking at the scoreboard. She was looking at it as she waved to her standing ovation. She was looking at it as she skated around to pick up the teddy bears and flowers thrown on the ice. She was even looking at it as she jumped off the ice and into the arms of her nearly hysterical with ecstasy mother.

And still, there were no marks.

The wait whipped the crowd into even a greater frenzy.

As Erin sat in the kiss and cry, waving her arms above her head and grinning even more broadly than usual, the fans began chanting, "Six! Six! Six!"

Patty joined in the chant, then hugged Erin, then looked at the scoreboard.

But they were still in commercial.

Patty hugged Erin again. Erin hugged her back. They kept hugging tighter and tighter, until, at risk for suffocation, both awkwardly let go and, running low on patience, looked around as if the scores might be playing hide-and-seek with them. Starting to get pissed off now, they looked down at the ground, then up again at the scoreboard. Erin jiggled her knees. Her mother put one hand on her thigh and shook her head. Erin quit it and chewed on a cuticle. Now Patty's knees started jiggling.

Finally, Gil Cahill told the referee, "TV's good. Release the scores."

The scores came up: 5.8s and 5.9s for technical.

Erin and Patty hugged again. The fans screamed.

And then the presentation marks: 5.7s, 5.8s, and a 5.6 from the Russian judge.

Erin's perky grin turned into a furrowed brow. Her mother's brow furrowed, too.

The ordinals came up. A five-four split. Four votes for Erin, five votes for Xenia.

Xenia Trubin was the world champion.

"Impossible!" Francis sputtered.

"It's a travesty!" Diana almost beat him to the punch.

"This makes no sense." Francis's finger poked the monitor in front of him. "Both skaters landed the same number of jumps, but Erin had a triple-triple combination!"

"She seems to have lost this event on the artistic mark!"


"I agree! Her program was lovely. Youthful and joyful and carefree, it's everything one can hope for in a skating performance."

"You know what the problem is." Francis was peering closely at the marks now. “Take a look at this panel, Diana. We have one, two, three, four judges from America, Canada, France, and Australia giving the win to Erin, and four judges from Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and Latvia giving the win to Xenia. The interesting decision is right here, by the Italian judge. By all rights, she should have voted with the West."

Bex's mouth dropped open. Was Francis saying what she thought he was saying? Was he honestly going live on national television and explaining that Western judges were obligated to vote with their Western counterparts?

"You're right, Francis," Diana concurred. "The Italian judge seems to have voted with the ex-Soviet bloc. That doesn't make any sense."

"You know, Diana, as a citizen of the world, it was my sincerest hope that with the dissolution of the Soviet Union we would finally see an end to block voting. And yet, here we are again, the ex-Soviets all voting together and, clearly, somehow swaying the Italian judge, too."

Bex's mouth could no longer drop open. If it dropped open any further, she would be licking her shoes, and in this booth, there was no room for it. What the heck were Francis and Diana saying? Could they even hear themselves? Could they hear what they were suggesting? What can of worms were they opening?

"Gil," Bex whispered into her headset. "Gil, we can't let them say this. Stop them, please. We have no proof. It's libelous. And it doesn't make any sense—“

"Be quiet, Bex, it's good television," Gil flicked on his switch to the announcers. "Great chatter, you two, keep it going, keep it going."

"I wonder how they did it," Diana mused. "I wonder what they offered the Italian judge to ignore that beautiful performance by Erin in favor of that avant-garde mess of Xenia's."

"This is horrible. Just horrible." Francis's voice had dropped to funeral dirge mode. "I offer my sincerest apologies to everyone watching at home, but, for the life of me, I can't think of any way to explain this decision. I am embarrassed for our sport, Diana. I don't know what to say. Poor Erin Simpson. Poor, poor, lovely Erin Simpson. She won the world championship tonight. And the Italian judge stole it from her as surely as if she'd ripped the gold medal from that sweet, brave child's neck….”

Jordan Ares was the last skater of the night. She skated well and won the bronze medal. But, by that point, nobody cared. Even before the competition was officially over, the local radio station was announcing: "Corruption at the world championships!"

By the time Bex followed Francis and Diana out of the announcer's booth, the media, both print and television, was camped outside like a salacious throng, demanding that the pair comment on the travesty that had just occurred.

“Travesty," Francis said. "That's the perfect word for it. It's a travesty. Obviously, some sort of fix was in, some sort of deal was made, to keep our beautiful and talented, dear American champion from winning the gold medal."

"It's the Italian judge,” Diana repeated. "Look at her marks. She voted for Xenia over Erin, and there was no reason for her to do that. The Italian judge isn't part of the Soviet bloc. Clearly, she had to have been coerced."

"How can you say that?" Bex waited until she'd sequestered Francis and Diana in their 24/7 dressing room before unleashing all the comments percolating in her mind earlier. "Don't you realize that by suggesting there was a conspiracy on the part of the Soviet bloc, you're also implying that there was a conspiracy on the Western side? I mean, yes, all the ex-Soviets voted together, but so did all the Western countries. How is that not a conspiracy on both sides?"

Francis and Diana looked at each other.

"Hmm," Francis said, "I never thought of it that way."

"What an interesting point you've made, Bex."

And then they refused to say another word on the subject.

Read what happens next (and how the Italian judge somehow ends up dead) in:

Tuesday, March 12, 2013


I love soap operas, and I was lucky enough to have worked for ABC Daytime, the Daytime Emmy Awards, and P&G Productions on As the World Turns, Guiding Light and Another World.

I love figure skating, and got to work as a writer, producer and researcher for Nationals and Worlds on ABC Sports and ESPN, the 1998 Olympics for TNT, and NBC for StarSkates.

I love musical theater and... I am never going to get a chance to work in it.  Because I am, how to put this... not any good at it.  So while I own the cast albums to practically every show Stephen Sondheim ever wrote, not to mention a good collection of Rodgers & Hammerstein, Lerner & Lowe, et. al.... I harbor no expectations of ever joining them.

The closet I've gotten to working in musical theater is producing the enhanced e-book for Dan Elish's "The Worldwide Dessert Contest: Enhanced Multimedia Edition."  It's a middle-grade fantasy novel with its own original musical score right there in the book.  Just click a button and listen to songs about Apple Ketchup, Rollerskating Apple Pies, and more!

Want a preview?  Then check out this interview Dan did earlier this week (with music!) thanks to Jim Farley and his MusicalWorld Podcast, here!

Monday, March 11, 2013


News that Marcy (now Emme) Rylan is the new Lulu on General Hospital made me think that this will be her third daytime role as the scion of a major legacy soap family.  I think she's now caught up with Jacob Young, who used to hold the record.

Check them both out in the clips below:

Emme Rylan

Guiding Light (Lizzie, daughter of Philip and Beth, granddaughter of Alan and Lilian):

The Young and the Restless (Abby, daughter of Victor and Ashley - and Brad, too):

Jacob Young

The Bold and the Beautiful (Rick, son of Brooke and Eric)

General Hospital (Lucky, son of Luke and Laura):

All My Children (JR, son of Dixie and Adam - and Tad, too):


Felicia’s unexpected arrival served to temporary pull Rachel out of the trance she’d been in ever since receiving the mysterious phone call that may or may not have been from Cory.  That may or may not prove her family was still alive.  Somewhere.

“I’m sorry to barge in like this,” Felicia said.  “But I needed to speak to you.  It’s important.  It’s – it’s about Lorna.”

Rachel’s breath caught in her throat and, for a moment, she believed that Felicia might have gotten a similar phone call.  Which meant that Rachel wasn’t imaging things, her husband and children were still alive.  And, for some reason, Lorna was with them.  The hope Rachel felt at receiving confirmation was followed almost instantaneously with dread at the prospect of finally learning just what precisely had happened to them all.

“Chase Hamilton came to see me,” Felicia said.

And those first inklings of dread turned into a monsoon.

“What now?” Rachel asked through gritted teeth.

“He’s come up with a different approach.  Chase went to Jamie and asked him to press kidnapping charges against Carl.  This would open new avenues for the investigation into Lorna’s disappearance – “

“How could he?” Rachel seethed, cutting off the rest of Felicia’s explanation.  “How could he do this to me?  After everything I’ve done his way, after the way I’ve bent over backwards, ignored my own feelings in favor of his?  How could Jamie throw in with that despicable man over me?”


Rachel and Felicia reach the heart of the matter in Lorna's disappearance, Grant offers Lila a new way to look at his situation, while Lila asks Chase to do the same with Kevin.  Cass and Frankie shatter Charlie's world, Matt reaches the end of his rope with Donna, and Sarah nearly breaks down in front of Iris.

All on today's AWT:

Thursday, March 07, 2013


Grant looked down at the infant with such naked adoration in his eyes, Marley almost reconsidered everything she’d decided to do.  But she steeled herself, reminding that Marley had her reasons and that it would all work out in the end.  As long as she didn’t lose her nerve.  That’s where everything usually went wrong.  Whenever Marley lost her nerve.

“Thank you, Marley,” Grant said.  “Thank you for being so…” He trailed off.  “I can’t even think of the word for it.”

“You deserve this,” she indicated Grant and his baby girl.

“So do you.  Well, not this situation,” he faltered, realizing what he sounded like.  “But, I mean….”

“I know what you mean.”

“I know if our situations were reversed, I could never….”

Marley pointed out, “When you and Vicky were together, you accepted Steven, even though he wasn’t yours.  And you’ve been terrific with Bridget and Michele.”

“It’s not the same.”

“No.  It’s not.  But, this way, you have your daughter, and your daughter has you.  And I have you.  So everybody wins.”


Marley promises to teach Sarah - and Grant - a lesson, Rachel reels from the implications of her mysterious phone call, Matt wants to know Olivia's intentions while Morgan makes his crystal clear to Amanda, and Cass and Frankie try to get answers from Charlie.

A lot of eyes are opened in:

Wednesday, March 06, 2013


Here in New York City, whether it's a winter storm or a summer heat wave (or vice versa), Lonnie Quinn is usually on the scene to tell us what's going on right outside our windows.

I'm sure that, to most people, he's just the CBS weatherman.  I, on the other hand, always feel like I'm getting my updates from All My Children's Will Cortland (and Will wasn't exactly the trustworthy sort).

Watch a classic clip of him in action below:

Now do you see why I don't trust him to give me the time of day?  Or the temperature?

Monday, March 04, 2013


My experience writing tie-in books for As the World Turns and Guiding Light, as well as developing Another World Today, where readers guided the story week by week, inspired me to write Counterpoint: An Interactive Family Saga, where what happens next is up to you.

Want to help me create a new kind of soap opera, not to mention have some say in where the romance you're reading is headed?  Good news!  Counterpoint: An Interactive Family Saga is now only $.99 cents at Barnes & Noble!  Just click this link to learn more!

Plus, here's an exclusive excerpt from Chapter #7:

On a tethered yacht, inside a harbor along the French Riviera, Nicole Simonge was enjoying the perks of being Mrs. Robin Cooper -- when Mr. Robin Cooper was, characteristically, nowhere to be found.

She wore a strapless vermilion dress with a plunging neckline, slit up both legs to her thighs, and strung from thousands of ruby beads. Not beads threaded into cloth, but beads held together by silver, silk string and clinging to every curve of her body for a sheer, almost see-through effect. A man tilting his head just the right way, could get quite an eyeful between the beads. Which was what the fifteen year old nephew of her Moroccan tycoon host was trying to do as he pressed his sweaty palms against Nicole's bare back and ground his pelvis into her hip, pretending to dance while, from the waist up, he leaned further and further back, hoping to leer down her cleavage.

Yet, his kiddie attempts to cop a feel or, at worst, score a cheap thrill, didn't bother Nicole in the least. Although barely a decade older than her juvenile pervert, she'd worked this circuit for so long that such clumsy pawing barely registered. She let him do whatever he wanted because she refused to make waves in front of his uncle, a man whose income equaled that of several medium-sized nations. She was having too much fun at his soiree, mingling with men and women who, only six years ago, barely noticed her as she escorted them to their tables inside a Monte Carlo restaurant and groveled for the change they deigned to pitch her for a tip. Now, these same men and women had to at least pretend to tolerate her.

Because she was Mrs. Robin Cooper.

Till death do them part.

Nicole gracefully wriggled out of the teen's slippery clutch, remembering to offer him a dazzling smile as she went, to insure no hard feelings in either him or his uncle, and stepped straight into the arms of the next waiting customer, a cousin, or perhaps another nephew, but definitely older and definitely interested in more than a playful ogle. The music being played was heavily Middle Eastern, reminding Nicole of a snake slowly being charmed out of its basket, and prompting her dance partner to writhe in what she presumed was supposed to be a lithe and seductive manner. She attempted to keep up with him, but, just when she thought she'd finally decoded his unusual rhythm, the cousin passed her to another, equally gyrating, relation.

It seemed to be a game of some kind, the men gathering around her in a circle, all of them clapping, trying to over-shout each other and gesturing for Nicole to dance in the middle.

She obeyed their summons, fully aware that every woman on the yacht was looking at her in a combination of disgust and I-told-you- she-was-nothing-but-a-whore smugness. Nicole didn't care. She was in her element. Those stuck-up, frigid bitches were probably just jealous of the way Nicole could steal any man's attention. It was a skill she'd cultivated since she first ran away from home at the age of thirteen. A skill even trust-fund money couldn't buy.

Of course, it didn't hurt that nature at least, had been kind to Nicole, gifting her with luxurious mink-black hair, a mouth made for pouting, smoke-filled, gray bedroom eyes promising all sorts of pleasures, and a body guaranteed to deliver. But, Nicole had known girls almost a gorgeous as she was, who still couldn't generate her level of attention. Because they didn't know the secret. Or maybe they knew it, but just didn't have the guts to follow through. The secret to being the girl who, at the end of the night, every man's balls throbbed to go home with, was to be... nothing. To have no thoughts, no desires, no needs. To be a blank slate. No man could resist a woman whose every smile, every wink, every gesture, broadcast her willingness to do anything she was told.

Nicole laughed, flitting from man to man inside her Moroccan cage, her movements quickening to keep up with the music, spinning gaily, oblivious to the subtle change of temper in the room, until the musicians abruptly quit playing, and a voice she could identify even in sleep sliced the subsequent hush to inquire sarcastically, "Am I too late for your dance of the seven veils?"

Robin stood in the doorway, dressed casually in slacks and a tan, vicuna sweater; ounce for ounce, the most pricey cloth on the planet. He walked towards her, parting the suddenly still revelers with no more than a glance, and stopped short in front of the two-inch, elevated stage that made up Nicole's dance floor. His eyes swept from the men who, only moments earlier, had been grabbing at his wife, and then over Nicole. From the day they met, he'd had a way of looking at her that made Nicole feel like she was wearing a layer of sewage. Or, worse, like she was wearing nothing at all.

Robin reached into his pants-pocket, and, withdrawing a wad of bills, stuffed them down the open front of Nicole's dress, two tens slipping out and crumpling by her feet. "Is that enough to buy me your attention for a couple minutes, darling?

Read more in Counterpoint: An Interactive Family Saga, where what happens next is up to you!


“What do you think?” Graciously allowing Sarah to carry Daisy up the stairs, Grant bringing up the rear, Marley proudly displayed the new nursery.

“It’s… beautiful,” Sarah admitted.

She didn’t know how Marley did it but, in the space of a few days, she’d managed to transform what had once been an adult’s office into the perfect little girl’s room, the walls painted in a pattern of delicate daisy chains, the furniture, the chairs, even the lamps, all in yellow and white.  There were flowery sheets on her crib, several teething rings in the shapes of daisies and even a music box that played Bicycle Built for Two… otherwise known as Daisy Bell.

“You kind of made it easy to come up with a theme,” Marley complimented Sarah.

“Marley really worked hard to have this all ready in time for Daisy’s visit,” Grant said.

“I’m sure her room at your house is equally as nice,” Marley said.

“Well… actually, I haven’t had a lot of time yet…”

“Of course not,” Marley patted Sarah on the shoulder, managing to slip Daisy from her at the same time.  “And who can blame you?  You must be dead on your feet, taking care of a baby all by yourself.  Have you gotten any sleep at all this week?”


Marley makes her intentions towards Grant and Sarah perfectly clear... just not to Grant and Sarah.  Chase refuses to quit and makes his offer to another of Lorna's loved ones, Frankie realizes that Cass went behind her back regarding Charlie, Matt confronts Olivia, and Rachel gets a phone call that just might change everything.  But only if YOU want it to at: