First date: Oxford Circus, London...When cautious Fern Chambers is challenged by a friend to say yes to every question, she never expects to spend four days with dreamy Josh Adams doing a charity treasure hunt. First dance: Covent Garden...Daredevil millionaire Josh never stays in one place--or with one woman--for long. But Fern is challenging that rule.... First kiss: Trafalgar Square...Josh realizes the treasure he's been looking for may in fact be the beautiful Fern. Can he persuade her to say yes to his final question, the most important one of all?
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June 09, 2008
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Excerpt from Saying Yes to the Millionaire by Fiona Harper
'No, I can't. I don't think I can do this!'
Solid ground was a distant memory. Fern glanced down past her feet and a tidal wave of nausea crashed in her stomach. The Thames glittered in the June sun and London politely carried on about its business one hundred and fifty feet below her. Someone behind her muttered, 'Is she going to jump or not?'
Not. Definitely not. Surely, if God had meant us to do this we'd have been born with lengths of elastic attached to our feet.
She gulped. Every muscle in her body had tightened itself into a dozen knots. She closed her eyes, but that just made things worse. The darkness magnified the dull roar of the traffic and the flap of the bungee cord as it swung in the faint breeze. Her body swayed.
No. She was not going to do this.
Her eyes snapped open and she twisted her head, opening her mouth to tell them it had all been a horrible mistake. But, before the sounds emerged from the back of her throat, a warm pair of hands steadied her on either side of her waist.
'She's all right. Aren't you, Fern?'
Fern shook her head, but the squeak that finally made it out of her mouth sounded an awful lot like yes.
She caught a faint hint of aftershave as he moved closer, felt his breath as it tickled the fine tendrils of hair that had worked their way out of her ponytail and now curled in front of her ears.
'You can do this.' The voice sounded so warm and reassuring. 'You know that, don't you?'
For a second, Fern almost forgot where she was, high on a crane on the banks of the Thames. Almost forgot the crowd of onlookers and charity event organisers looking up at her from the hard concrete below. She recognised that voice!
Josh was here.
And he was right behind her, whispering words of encouragement into her ear. Her pulse didn't know whether to speed up, slow down or stop altogether. But, bizarrely, she felt safe with him there, so close she could feel the beat of his heart against her back.
'Yes,' she whispered. This time, she half-believed her answer.
'So...I'm going to count to three, and when I say go, you just allow yourself to fall.'
He had the most delicious voice. It seemed to curl and roll inside her ears. She got carried away just listening to the sounds, the individual syllables, forgetting the meaning of the words. And then suddenly she realised he was saying three.
He didn't shout; he said the next word so gently it was almost as if he'd just breathed out. 'Go.'
And then she was falling, falling--the breath sucked so hard from her body that she couldn't even scream.
Three days earlier...
'No, thank you.' Fern shook her head once, firmly, hoping Lisette would get the message. She should have known better. Her friend waved something slimy-looking on a fork in front of her face, so close she was going cross-eyed trying to focus on it.
'Go on! Try it.'
'Really, Lisette. No. I don't like seafood.'
'It's squid. Hardly tastes of anything.' The fork swayed in a hypnotising motion. 'We've been coming to Giovanni's once a month for the past year and each time you order exactly the same.'
Fern fended the squid-loaded cutlery off with her hand. 'I like Pasta Neapolitana. It's my favourite.'
Lisette threw her fork down on her plate. 'It's boring, that's what it is.'
'It's nice. And I don't run the risk of food poisoning if it hasn't been cooked or stored properly.'
'Spoken like a true Health and Safety specialist.'
Fern stabbed a pasta bow with her fork, put it in her mouth and chewed, all the time staring defiantly at her friend. Lisette was always poking fun at her job. She swallowed her mouthful and took a sip of wine. Not everybody could have an outlandish job like Lisette's. And besides, her job might seem routine, but she helped people, kept them safe.
'Talking of jobs, what are you up to next week?'
Lisette popped the squid in her mouth and swallowed, wearing a playful smile as she gulped it down. 'Guess.'
Fern rolled her eyes. Lisette's main work was being a professional 'extra'. She could end up sitting in a pub in one of the weekly soaps or dressed up in tin-foil for a sci-fi series. Variety might be the spice of life, but Fern couldn't understand how Lisette tolerated a job with sporadic work, long hours and four o'clock in the morning starts.
'Lis, I haven't got a clue. Why don't you just tell me?'
'I've got a spot on a new police drama. Next week my uniform will be fishnets, high heels and a wicked glint in my eye.'
A small crease appeared between Fern's brows. 'Since when did police officers wear fishnets?'
Lisette grinned at her. 'Come on, can you really picture me in big clumpy heels and a neat white shirt? I'm going to be "Hooker Number Three". Cool, huh?'
Fern nodded, perhaps a little too hard. Lisette gave her a knowing smile.