A dead-end career. A love life that’s DOA. When fate sends her on a wild goose chase, can she land the deal of a lifetime?
New York City realtor Lauren Bent is desperate for a break. Five years after earning her license, she’s still looking for a major sale and an escape from the shadows cast by her more-fortunate brother and pushy mother. So, when her estranged great-aunt passes away and her wealth comes up for grabs, the struggling property broker sees her shot to turn everything around.
Forced to compete in a contest to prove worthy of the riches, Lauren finds herself in a war with her greedy, self-absorbed family. And between accidentally setting fire to an apartment, lying siblings, and a poodle mistaking her for a hydrant, the beleaguered young woman fears she has no chance to win after Johnny, the bane of her high-school days, is named the tournament’s judge.
Will Lauren’s star-crossed chase for fame and fortune come with a longer-lasting prize?
Splitting Heirs is the lighthearted first book in the Empire State of Mind chick lit series. If you like laugh-out-loud humor, relationship drama, and zany characters, then you’ll adore Diane Michaels’ fast-paced story.
From Chapter One of Splitting Heirs:
You can have your Colin Firth emerging from Pemberley’s lake, his sheer shirt clinging to his manly chest. You can have your men in uniform, too. Neither vision is enough to ruffle my petticoats. But ruffle they do when a man of no more than forty approaches me.
With each stride, he commands my heart to accelerate until it matches his pace. The fabric of his bespoke suit rustles in the rhythm of a military tattoo. His fingers plunge into his glossy, black locks, but they rake a diffident path. His footfall grows hesitant as he draws closer to me. With a shy grin, he bites his bottom lip. Does he doubt his power of seduction?
Cocking his head to the side, he stutters through his introduction. His green eyes glitter with hope. As words tumble from his plump, red lips, I hold my breath until my chest tingles.
He captivated me the moment I noticed him, but I don’t want to give the impression of being too eager. Silent and still, I savor my dominance over him, waiting for him to form his question, the very proposition lying at the core of my deepest desire. He pauses for a moment, teasing me. My self-control falters. A second before I leap toward him in a burst of lustful impatience, he asks, “Would you agree to list my four-bedroom, three-bath penthouse on Central Park West?”
It goes without saying that his kitchen boasts state-of-the-art appliances, that the ceilings soar twelve feet above the original wood floors, that the dressing room is larger than the size of the average one-bedroom apartment in New York City, that—
“Lauren!” my mother screeches. I pull my feet off the top of my desk and rearrange a pile of paperwork next to my laptop. I hope I appear too busy to endure interruptions issued from the kitchenette of our family’s real estate office. Put a different way, I don’t want my mother to catch me in another daydream.
“What?” I yell.
My mom returns to her desk, clutching a mug of coffee. Purplish-red lip prints cling to its white rim. “No need to shout. I’m right here.” She lowers herself into her chair, bracing her heels against the floor protector. With a bend of her knees, she scoots the chair into position at her desk. The chair squeaks when she swivels toward me. “When are you leaving to meet with your new client?”
“I told Mrs. Ramos I’d meet her at four-thirty. And after our appointment, I’m going to Emma’s.”
My mom checks her watch. “You should leave soon if you’re going to walk. Unless you were planning on taking a cab? I hope you don’t waste your money on a cab. You haven’t made your commission yet.”
Or any commission in seven months. I should don a pair of fairy wings and prance my way to 72nd Street since I may finally have a listing. Even the potential to sell an unrenovated, four hundred and fifty-square-foot studio apartment should thrill me. But five years after earning my real estate license online, I continue to wait for the big kahuna.
I make a show of flipping through the files on my desk, pretending I would be tearing myself from a vital task were I to heed her advice and leave now. I tap the file folder on my desk to neaten its contents. “Everything here should keep until Monday. Maybe I will head out now. I’m in the mood for a walk.”
My mother pushes herself away from her desk, the wheels of her chair clattering against the plastic. Pressing her hands on the armrests, she rises. “Come here. Let me fix your bow.”
I stand stock-still while she fiddles with the oversized bow at the neck of my blouse. She and I are practically twins, bows and all. Her blouse is royal blue, whereas mine is bright pink, and both of us are wearing simple black pantsuits.
I peer at my phone, checking my lipstick with my camera app. “Any final tips for me?”
She flicks the hair from my shoulders. “Put Mrs. Ramos at ease. She needs to trust you with her baby. You’ll do fine. I have faith in you.”
“Thanks, Mom!” I give her a quick squeeze goodbye.
Her cloying Black Opium perfume, still clinging to me when I leave the office, engages in a head-to-head battle with the blast of fetid steam venting out of a manhole. As if I needed any reminders I don’t yet work in my dream version of New York City.