[chapter three]

Disclaimer: If you've heard of them, I don't own them. Everything else is mine, so no stealing, pretty please. ;-)


"So, Alana." Jay said easily. "Tell us a bit about your new book."

Alana smiled confidently and took a deep breath. "Well, Jay, it's part psychology and part relationship help. I focus on the women's role in male-female relationships, and the concept that women are no longer subordinate to men in relationships. It's about taking control of who you are before committing to a relationship with someone. It's about not compromising who you are or your beliefs to satisfy someone else. It's about not feeling forced to be in a relationship. Mostly it's about being strong and independent."

Jay took a breath. "Wow. Tall order."

Alana shook her head with a smile. "Times have changed, Jay. Attitudes about relationships should too."

Junior scoffed, unable to mask his horror at this woman's rant. "Something to add, Junior?" Jay asked with a wide grin.

"Since when are women deciding if a relationship happens or not?" Junior spat out without thinking. "Chicks are always all about commitment, and the guys are about being hands off and free agents. That ain't independent - you're just waiting for a guy to decide he wants you."

Alana's jaw dropped slightly, but she quickly regained control. "First of all, us 'chicks' being at your beck and call went out with bustles and powdered wigs. Men and women have more parity than ever before in relationships, and the way you make it sound like a committed relationship is something you can pick up in a department store is demeaning and insulting. You may think you're superior, Mr. Earnhardt, but the world is slowly proving that you aren't."

Junior's eyes glowed with anger as he turned to face Alana on the couch, forgetting about cameras or Jay Leno. "I'm the man. I decide."

"You're the man, you decide?" Alana parroted. "Were you born in the dark ages? Look around, Mr. Earnhardt. Women are more independent and powerful than before - they are CEOs, career women, multitaskers, mothers, wives, free thinkers, professors and often are single. They balance it all - but on their terms. Maybe the reason you are having so much trouble 'getting a chick' is because any woman with half a brain or worth her salt wouldn't put up with your chauvinistic and backwards ways."

Jay interrupted just as Junior was mounting a comeback. "That's all the time we have for tonight. Thanks to Alana Bickley - be sure to pick up a copy of her book to find out more. And thanks also to our other guest, Dale Junior. See you tomorrow!" Jay burst out laughing as the camera turned off. He turned to his guests, who were still glaring at each other. "So much for a love connection. Do I need to call security?" He joked.

Alana stood up and absently ran a hand over her tight bun to ensure her hair wasn't standing on end in frustration. By insulting Mr. NASCAR, she'd probably blown a billion dollars in book revenue, but she couldn't stand that patronizing smile or that backwards thinking. How could he honestly believe that women were at his beck and call?

Looking at the way the audience was staring at Junior with a mixture of awe, lust and desperation, she began to see a glimmer of understanding.

Because he'd never known anything else.

chapter four