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Authors: Bonnie Hamre

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Sweet Discipline

BOOK: Sweet Discipline
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SWEET DISCIPLINE

An Ellora’s Cave Publication, August 2004

Ellora’s Cave Publishing, Inc.

PO Box 787

Hudson, OH 44236-0787

ISBN MS Reader (LIT) ISBN # 1-4199-0016-1

Other available formats (no ISBNs are assigned):

Adobe (PDF), Rocketbook (RB), Mobipocket (PRC) & HTML

SWEET DISCIPLINE © 2004 BONNIE HAMRE

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. This book may not be reproduced in whole or in part without permission.

This book is a work of fiction and any resemblance to persons, living or dead, or places, events or locales is purely coincidental. They are productions of the authors’ imagination and used fictitiously.

Edited by
Briana St. James..

Cover art by
Dawn Seewer
.

SWEET DISCIPLINE

Bonnie Hamre

Bonnie Hamre

Chapter One

“All it takes is discipline.”

Norris Brownell studied her friend Kendra who’d spoken so emphatically. Since she’d last had dinner with Kendra and her husband Paul, Kendra had dropped out of sight and reemerged looking svelte, chic and twenty-five pounds thinner. “I can’t believe it,” Norris said. “Between the two of us, we’ve tried every diet known to man, and then some.”

Kendra’s eyes sparkled. “Not
every
one.”

“So tell me.” Norris twirled spaghetti carbonara onto her fork as she leaned over the restaurant table. “How did you do it?”

“I can’t tell you. I promised I wouldn’t divulge any er…trade secrets.”

“Not even a hint?” Norris coaxed though a glance at Kendra’s salad of mixed greens and raw vegetables gave her a huge hint. Before Kendra’s spa experience, they both would have been eating pasta, drinking wine and anticipating a slice of tiramisu.

Kendra glanced around, scoping out eavesdroppers. “It’s not the usual diet program. It’s demanding, tough and I cried a lot,” she whispered. “But it was worth it.”

“Whatever you had to do, you look fabulous.” Kendra’s skin looked soft and lustrous. Her eyes were clear and bright, shining with confidence. “How does Paul like your new look?”

“He adores it. He can’t keep his hands off me.” Kendra leaned closer. “And the sex is terrific! You wouldn’t believe some of the things we’ve tried. I never dreamed sex could be so wild, so…” She rolled her eyes.

Norris got the point. In fact, her imagination could supply any number of fantasies.

She was glad for Kendra, of course she was, but hearing hints about her friend’s fantastic sex life wasn’t easy. Not when she wasn’t getting any. Not as much work as she wanted, either.

Very few people wanted to hire a consultant to advise them about management practices if she couldn’t manage her own weight. When she’d branched out on her own and started her consulting practice, she’d worked such long hours, she’d had no thought for food. It hadn’t been necessary to watch her weight, but as her practice grew, and she hired staff and associates, her schedule was less frantic and there were a satisfying number of successes to celebrate with wine and food. The pounds had crept back, so stealthily she hadn’t noticed until her clients and associates started giving her disapproving looks. Business was still good, her long-time clients were loyal, but new ones were harder to attract. Her business wasn’t growing. And she had ambitions, 4

Sweet Discipline

dreams and goals she wanted to make happen. She needed more work, big-name, prestigious clients, to make that next move up that slippery success ladder.

If she had to change herself to make that climb, then she would. Once she was slim and bolstered her willpower, she’d have no trouble convincing clients she could make their problems go away, too. And when she was slim and sexy, Jack Rodriguez would do more than nod when they met around a conference table. Eat your heart out, Jack.

“How can I get into it, too?” she asked eagerly. “What’s it called?”

Kendra toyed with her salad. “It’s not for everyone. They’re discreet, they don’t advertise and they don’t take everyone. They’re very strict and you’ve never liked anyone telling you what to do. I’m afraid you’ll either quit or be asked to leave.”

“To look like that,” Norris gestured at her friend’s sleek figure. “Add sex and I can take anything!”

“I don’t know.” Kendra looked dubious. “The first few days are very hard. I didn’t think I could do it.” She dipped her fork in her dressing, then shook most of it off before spearing an arugula leaf. “You won’t be able to. You get ticked off at something and then—”

“C’mon, Kenny. I’m not that bad.”

“Sure you are.” She eyed Norris speculatively. “Look, you’re my friend and I think the world of you. You’ve got a loving heart, but you’re obstinate. It’s a good thing you excel at what you do or your clients would go somewhere else.” She softened her critique with a smile. “You can’t stand not doing things your way.”

“That’s why I’m a consultant. I tell my clients what to do. Whether or not they implement my recommendations, they have to pay me.” She grinned, then turned serious. “I’d get more business if I lost some weight.”

Kendra nodded. “I know. It stinks.”

“So help me out. Please.”

Kendra chewed a bit of salad, swallowed and sipped at her water while she studied Norris. At last, she said, “I’m not kidding you. It’s
hard
, physically and emotionally.”

Norris wavered. She had compelling reasons for wanting to get skinny, but her professional drive always seemed to drain the energy from her personal life. This time, she had to stick with it. She took a deep breath. “I promise. I’ll do whatever it takes.”

“That’s what you said last time.”

Norris shrugged. That chic New England spa offered exercises, classes in nutrition, weight training, outside activities, Tai Chi, hikes and lovely massages. She’d timed her visit to be a leaf-peeper, taken long walks in vibrantly colored woods and lost several pounds. She’d gone home exhilarated and in a few weeks, gained the weight back.

“This time, I’ll do it.” She swallowed hard. “I have to. So how do I get into…what’s it called?”

Kendra flicked a considering glance over Norris. “I’ll ask, but it may take a while.

They take people only on referral, and only a few at a time.”

5

Bonnie Hamre

“Are they very expensive?”

“Absolutely. But look at it this way. With what you save on junk food, the program more than pays for itself.”

“Chocolate? Recent studies say it’s good for you.”

“Forget it.” Kendra laughed at Norris’ horrified look. “After learning some new habits, you won’t want it.”

She doubted that, but hey, she had no choice. She had to get down to a smaller size.

“How do they work? Drugs? Weird food like wood shavings and dandelion leaves?”

“Nothing like that, promise. They have a great chef.” Kendra looked mysterious.

“So what is it?”

“Behavior modification same as any other diet program. You’ll have to give up bad habits and learn better ones.” She looked down at herself then gave Norris a satisfied smile. Yes, beautiful, thin and definitely mysterious. “It has its rewards.”

“That’s it? “ Norris tucked a stray lock of hair into the clasp at her nape controlling her long hair. Lately it had been lusterless and wouldn’t keep a style. It needed help, too. “How soon can we make this happen?”

“The program’s not for everybody,” Kendra said again. “It’s tough. Maybe you’d better think about it.”

“What’s to think about?” Why was Kendra so reluctant? What was she hiding?

Norris had to grin despite herself. Under that slinky wrap dress, there wasn’t much Kendra could hide. What she’d give to wear something like that rather than her figure-forgiving suits. “Please. I’ve got to lose…well, I won’t say how many pounds. I’m desperate, Kenny!”

* * * * *

Several weeks later, Norris entered the reception room at the top floor of an elegant high-rise. If she hadn’t had an invitation card, written in exquisite calligraphy, she’d never have gotten past the lobby.

She looked around her with a great deal of curiosity. There were no windows, but none were needed. The lighting was soft, recessed, giving the lush ivory and taupe furnishings an inviting yet calming look. She released an uneasy breath and moved over plush carpeting to the Queen Anne desk where an underweight receptionist regarded her pleasantly. “I’m Norris Brownell. I’m here to register.”

“Of course. We’ve been expecting you.” The receptionist stood up. “If you’ll have a seat, I’ll tell the director you’re here.” Gliding away, she disappeared behind a door.

Norris sank into an overstuffed chair, immediately regretting it. The seat was too narrow for her hips. She pried herself loose.

6

Sweet Discipline

She’d had dinner with Paul and Kendra last night, and when she and Kendra had excused themselves to go to the ladies’ room, Norris had tried to pump Kendra for more details.

Kendra was surprised she’d been accepted so quickly. “I had to wait six months for my reservation,” she complained.

“I got a call last week,” Norris said. “They had an unexpected cancellation and could fit me in.” She shook her head. “I’ve been running like crazy to get everything organized.”

“Why not wait?”

“No. I want to get this over with.”

Kendra frowned. “Are you sure you’re not being too impulsive?”

“Strike while the iron is hot, and all that jazz.” Norris turned away from the mirror.

“C’mon, Kenny, I’m starting tomorrow. Tell me what to expect.”

“I wish I could.” Kendra eyed her thoughtfully. “There’s still time to back out.”

“Why would I want to do that? “

“I’m worried about you. You may be starting, but how soon will you quit?”

That hurt. So she had an iffy track record when it came to sticking to a diet. She could do it if she wanted to. And this one, she really wanted to do.

Kendra took a second look at her expression. “Okay, sorry. I should be encouraging you.” She propped a trim hip on the counter. “It’s going to be hard. No kidding about that. Really hard, but if I got through it, you can do it, too.”

Norris nodded, still uneasy with Kendra’s half-hearted support. If she’d found it hard, could she herself stick with it?

Kendra liked getting up at the crack of dawn and running. She relished every moment under her comfortable down duvet.

Kendra didn’t mind eating rabbit food. She lived by the motto,
Life is uncertain, eat
dessert first
.

Kendra enjoyed hours at her gym. She’d rather have a massage.

But all that was going to change. She’d made up her mind. “If you can do it, so can I.”

Kendra slid off the counter. “That’s the spirit. I’ll buy lunch in six weeks and we can compare notes. How’s that?”

Norris blew out a breath. “You’re on.”

They’d hugged. Norris had gone home, feeling good about herself and now she felt her pulse pick up when the inner door opened.

“The director will see you now.” The receptionist spoke courteously, but Norris detected the sneer thin people reserved for anyone two ounces over perfect weight.

She followed her down a hall decorated in soothing earth colors, with framed artistic black and white photographs of thin women arranged at eyelevel along the 7

Bonnie Hamre

walls. Norris slowed to look more carefully. None of the faces were visible, just backs of heads, profiles and all those perfect, slender nude bodies.

“Our clients,” the receptionist explained.

Norris nodded. Her photo would be there, too. Thin and sexy, strutting her stuff.

She entered the door the receptionist held open for her and took the indicated seat before a long, pale wood table. The door closed behind her.

Alone, Norris felt free to look about the room. After the luxurious reception area, this one was a study in expensive minimalism. Apart from the table and the executive desk chair behind it, the side chair she occupied, and a flourishing fern in one corner, the room was bare. She squirmed on the uncomfortable seat.

“Ms. Brownell.” A tall, thin woman in a severely cut black suit entered the room.

“Welcome to
Sweet Discipline
.” She extended her hand. Norris took it and cut the handshake short. Cold fish repulsed her.

The director opened a drawer on her side of the table and pulled out a folder.

Opening it, she scanned the top page, then leafed through the remaining sheets. She raised cold eyes to Norris. “You were recommended by one of our clients?”

Norris gave her Kendra’s name.

“Just so.” The director studied Norris. “Did she tell you about our program?”

“Just enough to make me want to try it for myself.”

“If you sign a contract with us, there is no backing out. No ‘trying’,” the woman warned in a dry voice. “We guarantee results, Ms. Brownell, but once you enter the program, you must stay to the end.”

Norris hesitated. “I like to know what I’m signing before I commit myself.”

“You saw the results with your friend? You read our brochure? You saw the photographs of satisfied clients on the walls?”

“Yes, but—”

BOOK: Sweet Discipline
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