Featuring love-at-second sight romance and a fast-moving plot, Michael's fizzy latest about illegal experiments on humans is farfetched but entertaining. Peter Kelly and Lily Madison regret choices they made in 1986 as impoverished college students when they first met outside a sperm bank and its adjacent fertility clinic. Years later, Pete's a software mogul and Lily's a successful clothing designer, and they happen across one another at an airport, where they see a news broadcast about a massacre at the California Academy of Higher Learning. Featured on the report is Josh, a survivor and dead ringer for Pete. Soon, Peter and Lily are on a quest for answers about some sinister dealings at the sperm bank and fertility clinic, Josh becomes a suspect, and a colorful cast of crusaders and villains gets sucked into the fray. Michael makes the wild search a roller-coaster ride of serendipitous fun. (May)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Mr. and Miss Anonymousby Fern Michaels
College senior Lily Madison is on her own and desperate to pay for her last semester of school. With nowhere to turn, she makes the difficult decision to donate her eggs to a fertility clinic. Peter Kelly is also a penniless student who supplements his tuition money by visiting a sperm bank. One day, Lily and Pete meet at the clinic and talk about their secret. They agree the clinic gives them an odd feeling, as if all is not as it seems. Despite their obvious attraction, Lily and Pete go their separate ways.
Nineteen years have passed and Lily often wonders if she has a child somewhere in the world. She also thinks a lot about Pete. Now a wealthy entrepreneur, Pete never forgot Lily either, and when he sees her in an airport one day, he falls for her all over again. But while they enjoy their unlikely reunion, a story on the news has them riveted. Two teenage boys are missing and their disappearance may be linked to the fertility clinic Pete and Lily visited in college. In a shocking twist, one of the boys looks exactly like Pete.
Lily and Pete are now determined to find out what really went on at the clinic all those years ago. When the whole story comes out, the truth will be more than they bargained for. But they will discover that letting go of their secrets from the past is the best way to build a future worth fighting for…
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Mr. and Miss Anonymous
By FERN MICHAELS
Copyright © 2009
All right reserved.
Chapter One Peter Aaron Kelly looked around his suite of offices and grinned. He'd done it. He'd made it happen. And he'd pulled it off right on schedule. He patted himself on the back as he made his way into the private lavatory that was as big as his family's living room back in Idaho.
Pete, as he liked to be called, stared at his reflection in the huge plate glass mirror that took up one entire wall of his private bathroom. He straightened the knot in his tie. Not just any knot but a Windsor knot. He loved Windsor knots because they looked so neat and finished. The suit wasn't half-bad either. Custom-made Armani that draped his lanky frame to perfection. Not that he normally wore such attire, but it was a special day, and he owed it to his people to look his best. If he showed up in his jeans, a washed-out, ragged Berkeley T-shirt, and his tattered baseball cap, no one would take him seriously. The power suit and the Windsor knot shrieked, PAY ATTENTION.
The eight-hundred-pound gorilla and founder of PAK Industries continued to study himself in the mirror. No one would ever call him handsome. Nor would they say he was cute. Articles, and there were hundreds of them, said he was "interesting." One even said he was "chameleon-like," whatever the hell that meant. Those same articles then fast-forwarded to his financials and more or less said he could be ugly as sin because no one cared, and with all that money in the bank, he was the CIC. His secretary had to translate that for him. CIC, she said, meant Cat in Charge. If he wanted to, he could start purring right then. He laughed at the thought.
"Hey, Pete, you in here somewhere?" his longtime motherly secretary shouted from the doorway.
Pete ran a loose ship, and as long as the work got done, he didn't care who wore what or who said what. Familiarity in the workplace worked for everyone's comfort zone.
"Just checking my tie, Millie. Do you need me for something?"
Hands on her plump hips, Millie stared at her boss. "Well, would you look at you! You want some advice?"
"No, but that isn't going to stop you. Spit it out."
"You look silly. Ditch the duds and go back to being you. You only get dressed up like that when you go to funerals. Did someone die, and you forgot to tell me? We always send flowers or a fruit basket. By the way, some personal mail just came for you. I put it on your desk earlier while you were getting dressed. I think it's the third request for your RSVP in regard to your alma mater's fundraiser. You might want to take care of that."
Pete walked over to his desk to see a large, cream-colored square envelope with the return address of his alma mater. Millie was right, he needed to get on the stick and make a decision one way or the other.
"Well? So, who died?"
He was off-balance. Just the sight of the cream-colored envelope and the return address rushed him back to another part of his life. A part of his life he didn't want to deal with just then. "No one died. I'm dressed like this for the ten o'clock meeting. Then I have that photo op with Senator what's-his-name. I still don't know how I got roped into that."
His voice was so cool, so curt, Millie drew back and closed the door. She rushed around the floor warning everyone that the boss had his knickers in a twist and was all dressed up. Something was going on. The entire floor huddled as they tried to understand why the boss would attend a meeting in a suit and tie even though he was going to have his picture taken later. Peter Aaron Kelly didn't give a damn about suiting up for photo ops. Everyone in the whole world knew that.
"And," Millie said importantly, "the boss is wearing Armani and not his regular hand-stitched HUGO BOSS funeral attire. Something is definitely going down this morning. He's chipper, though, so it must be a good thing. Well, he was chipper until the mail came," Millie muttered as an afterthought.
While Pete's staff whispered among themselves, he was busy ripping open the envelope Millie had left for him. She was right, he had twenty-four hours to say yea or nay. Even at that late date they were still willing to have him as their guest speaker if he would commit. "Well, boys and girls, I don't see that happening anytime soon. I'll send you a check, and we'll call it square." To make himself feel better, he scribbled off a sizable check and tossed it in the top drawer along with the two previous invitations. Millie would take care of it. He'd have her send off an e-mail or overnight letter nixing the speaking gig.
Screw it all. Now he was in a cranky mood. He flopped down on his custom-made chair, whose leather was butter soft, and propped his feet on the desk. He had fifteen minutes to, as his mother used to put it, woolgather. He made a mental note to ask her if she still used that expression.
Pete opened the drawer again and reached for the invitation. He twirled the cream-colored square in his hands. Maybe he should go back. So what if he'd made a promise to himself never to do so. People broke promises all the time, especially when the person made the promise to himself.
As the minute hand on his watch crawled forward, Pete slid the invitation back into the drawer. Maybe he'd think about it later. Not too much later, he cautioned himself. The reunion was across the country in two days.
What the hell, he had a corporate jet. But getting that baby all fired up with a pilot was a whole other ball game, especially on short notice. Then again, maybe he wouldn't think about it. He blinked when a vision of a young girl in a floppy hat with a big sunflower on it appeared behind his eyelids. Lily. Lily something. He took a minute to wonder where she was and what she was doing. She was probably married with four or five kids and a doting husband. He corrected that thought immediately when he remembered the last time he'd seen her and the sad look in her eyes. No, he'd bet PAK Industries that Lily something-or-other wasn't married with kids.
Pete looked down at the calendar on his desk. He had a busy day. After the photo op with the senator, he had an appointment with his shrink. Maybe after his appointment he would be in a better frame of mind to make a decision about attending the fundraiser.
The pricey TAG Heuer watch on his wrist chirped. Time to head for the boardroom so he could make his announcement. Fifteen minutes, tops. Five minutes to get downstairs to meet the senator and smile pretty for the cameras. What the hell was the senator's name? Then off to the shrink. After that, he was on his own time. The thought left him light-headed.
Precisely three minutes later, Pete entered the conference room. For some reason, the room always amazed him. It was half the size of a football field, with wraparound windows for light, and was dominated by a long teak table whose shine was so bright he could see his reflection. Twelve leather chairs surrounded the table. Off to all four sides of the large room were private groupings of chairs, small sofas, tables, and tons of greenery. In the center of the teak table was a magnificent silver coffee urn, with fine china cups and a crystal decanter of orange juice as well as four trays of assorted pastries.
"Hi, people," Pete said, taking his seat at the head of the table. He looked around at all the people who had worked at his side for years and years to make it all happen. He owed them all big-time. He nodded to Millie, who was trotting around the long table, placing in front of each person a snow-white envelope with the PAK logo in the corner.
"A show of my appreciation. Look, there's no easy way to say this other than to come right out and say it. I'm taking some time off. A year at the least. Maybe longer. You can run this place without me. There are some things I need to do. Personal things. So, having said that"-Pete tossed a set of keys to his second-in-command, Marty Bronson-"the keys to everything, Marty, and you get my parking space. Before you can ask, no, I am not sick, no, I am not getting married."
Pete pushed back his chair and stood up. "Oh, there is one other thing. Every one of you in this room has my cell phone number. If you call me, you're fired. I'll check in from time to time so you can hear my cheery voice. I want to walk out of here knowing I didn't make a mistake when I hired you all. Just make me proud and let me get out of here before I start blubbering. Don't get up. Sit there and plan how you're going to spend those checks I just gave you. See ya!"
Outside in the hallway, Millie stared at him, tears rolling down her cheeks. "That was a really shitty thing you just did in there, Peter Aaron Kelly. You should have prepared us, given some kind of warning. Everyone's in shock. What are you going to do now, watch television?"
It was the worst thing Millie could have said to her boss. Pete never watched television; he hated it with a passion. Every day his staff tormented him with what they'd seen on the tube that he'd missed. Pete turned away, too choked up to reply right away. When he finally got his tongue to work, he said, "Call Berkeley and tell them I might or might not attend. There's a check in my top drawer you can forward by overnight mail. Give my regrets about not being their guest speaker, say I was flattered, yada, yada, yada. I'm going to forget that crack you just made about me watching television. C'mere, give me a big hug so I can go meet that senator. What the hell is his name?"
Millie wiped at her eyes. "His name is Hudson Preston, the senior senator from California. You didn't mean me, did you, when you said you didn't want any calls from here? I'm sorry about my television comment. I was upset. I am still upset, Pete."
Pete squared his shoulders. "Sorry, Millie, it means you, too. I need time and space. I'll call you. I promise."
"Go on, get out of here, you big schmuck. Shame on you for making an old lady cry," Millie said, wiping at her eyes. She did her best to summon up a smile to send Pete on his way.
"I love you, Millie. Keep your eye on things. I'll be back, I just don't know when." Pete waved airily as he headed for the elevator. He was glad no one was looking at him when he swiped at his own eyes with the back of his hand.
Pete stepped out of the elevator to see the senator and his entourage milling about the spacious lobby of his building. He realized in that one second that he did not like the senator, had never liked him.
An aide approached him, a young guy with his share of zits and spiky hair. "It would be so much better if we could do the photo op in your corporate offices, Mr. Kelly. This lobby is so cold and sterile-looking. It really isn't the kind of warm and fuzzy image the senator wants to convey. This," he said, waving his arm about, "is so ... corporate."
"Sorry, rules are rules," Pete said briskly. "Can we get on with it? I have a meeting, and I don't want to be late."
The aide looked horrified at Pete's words. He started to sputter. "But ... but the senator cleared his calendar for an hour. We came all the way from Washington."
"It's a forty-five-minute shuttle ride. A letter went out to your offices explaining all this. Now, let's get on with it, or I'll leave you all standing here to suck your thumbs."
Before the aide could reply, the senator approached Pete, his personal camera crew right behind him. "Ah, Peter, nice seeing you again."
Pete extended his hand and gave the senator a bone-crushing handshake. "Guess it's that time of year again. I hate to rush you, but I have a meeting I can't be late for."
The senator's eyes narrowed, but he didn't lose his affability. He smiled, knowing he was being captured on film. "I understand, we allotted only fifteen minutes ourselves. I appreciate your agreeing to the op at all. I know how busy you corporate types are."
Pete bared his teeth in what he hoped was a smile. "Good, that means we're on the same page."
When the allotted fifteen minutes were up, Pete looked pointedly at his watch.
Senator Preston threw his arm around Pete's shoulders. "I have a limo out front. Can we drop you off somewhere?"
Pete shrugged off the senator's arm, and replied, "Thanks, but I'm walking." He was through the revolving door within seconds and on his way down the winding walkway. He had a bad taste in his mouth. Later he would think about the fact that he didn't like Senator Preston. He wondered if it had anything to do with the few visits he'd made to the shrink. The last thing Dr. Myers had said last week when Peter was leaving his office was to think about the "why" of everything. Why didn't he like Senator Preston? Peter didn't have a clue.
The trees were dressed for spring early that year. As he exited the PAK Industries campus and walked on out to the boulevard, Pete started shedding his clothing. He yanked at the power tie and stuffed it in his pocket. The only reason he knew it was a power tie was because Millie had bought it and told him so. Next came the Armani jacket. He slung it over his shoulder as he maintained his easy gait while at the same time rolling up the cuffs of his pristine white shirt. Ah, now he could breathe. He wished he'd had the foresight to jam his baseball cap into his hip pocket. He always felt undressed without it.
Thirty minutes later, Pete arrived at a six-suite brick medical building with ivy growing up the bricks, all the way to the top of the second floor. He liked the look because there was something homey about it. The plaques attached to the brick weren't the standard polished brass but chunks of driftwood that were sanded, then shellacked. Dr. Harvey Myers was on the first floor.
Pete looked at his watch. He was one minute early. He felt proud of himself when he opened the door to the waiting room to find Harvey Myers waiting for him with a cup of coffee. Harvey handed it over. Pete laughed. "You're spoiling me, Harvey."
The easy familiarity between doctor and patient went back years and years. Harvey had once coached the PAK Industries softball team until the demands of his practice required cutting back on his outside activities. They made small talk, Pete sipping the strong black brew and Harvey drinking decaffeinated herbal tea.
Together, the two men moved toward the doctor's private office. As always, Pete eyed the chaise lounge, then moved to a recliner that tilted backward and had a footrest.
Harvey set aside his herbal tea and picked up a pad and pen, but not before he turned on the portable recording machine. Pete sipped his coffee as the doctor recorded the date, the time, and the patient's name.
"So, how's it going, Pete? You sleeping any better?"
"No. I prowl all night long. No, I don't want any sleep help. You know how I feel about pills of any kind. When my body is tired, I'll sleep."
"Did you do it?"
Pete didn't ask for clarification. He knew exactly what Harvey was referring to. "As a matter of fact, I did, about an hour ago. I thought it went well. I'm a free agent. Nice feeling. Well, I think it's going to be a nice feeling once I get used to the idea."
"No, not really. I haven't decided if I'm going to California or not."
Harvey put down the pen and pad and leaned forward. "Let's cut the bullshit right here, Pete. You've been coming here three times a week for a month. I can't help you if you won't open up to me. Whatever past relationship we had, inside this room, we're doctor and patient. The fact that you actually decided to make an appointment-and kept it-tells me something is bothering you. Having said that, I want you either to tell me what's bothering you or get the hell out of here so I can help someone who needs and wants my help."
Pete looked around the comfortable office. For the first time he could hear soft music coming from somewhere. He thought he heard water trickling in the far corner. He wondered if it was something new. He asked and blinked when Harvey said the music was always on, and the trickling water went into a fish tank. "Am I that obvious?"
"Well, yeah. I am a psychiatrist, Pete. You came here to unload, so will you get on with it?"
Pete jerked at the handle on the recliner and bounced upright. He, too, leaned forward. "I made a promise to myself, and I didn't keep it. Well, I kept the first part but not the second part. I want to know if that kind of promise counts. You know, when you make it to yourself. I didn't even make an effort to keep it. I think I know why I didn't, but I'm not sure. By the way, no one knows about it. Well, that's not really true, someone does know. A girl I told way back when. At least I think I told her. It was a lifetime ago, Harvey."
Excerpted from Mr. and Miss Anonymous by FERN MICHAELS Copyright © 2009 by Fern Michaels. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Meet the Author
FERN MICHAELS is the USA Today and New York Times bestselling author of the Sisterhood series, Mr. and Miss Anonymous, Up Close and Personal, and dozens of other novels and novellas. There are over seventy million copies of her books in print. Fern Michaels has built and funded several large day-care centers in her hometown, and is apassionate animal lover who has outfitted police dogs across the country with special bulletproof vests. She shares her home in South Carolina with her four dogs and a resident ghost named Mary Margaret.
- Summerville, South Carolina
- Place of Birth:
- Hastings, Pennsylvania
- High School
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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In 1986 needing money while attending college, Lily Madison and Peter Aaron Kelly donated at a fertility clinic where they met. Both are attracted to one another but neither is comfortable pursuing it since each hides what they are doing at the clinic.----------------------- Two decades later at an airport, clothing designer Lily and software CEO of PAK Industries Peter run into each other. They chat but are shocked when a newscast discusses a mass murder at the California Academy of Higher Learning with the lone survivor Josh, who looks like a younger Peter. They agree to team up to learn what happened and just who Josh is.------------------- Although over the top of the Sierras with the human experiments fans will enjoy this exhilarating romantic suspense thriller that never slows down for an instant. The story line is fast-paced from the moment Peter and Lily see each other for the first time in twenty years; both remember each other as they always wondered whether different circumstance might have made it perfect. Readers will cherish the lead couple as they fall in love while trying to survive their amateur sleuth investigation.---------- Harriet Klausner
I usually love Fern and am in fact re-reading another one of her books, but this book was all over the place. I didn't bond with the main characters and didn't like their fast-paced romance. I enjoyed the 2nd tier characters much more!!
this book was written like a grade 6 novel. it had some good points, but not great
I was instantly immersed into this fantastic, believably written story.
I love Fern Michaels books. But this is the worst book I've read in a long time. Depressing, unbelievable!!
This book was very unrealistic even for Fern Michaels. Would not recommend wasting your money on this book.
This is the first Fern Michaels book I have read, and it is very likely the last. The Premise of the story was great, but I found the develop of that story lacking. There were many problem with the book ~ the main characters came to conclusions that should not have been possible for them with the information that they had; many of the character's situations were unrealistic/unbelievable; the introduction of ghosts was just plain silly and unnecessary; and although Pete found some closure, Lily didn't seem to mind in the end that she hadn't. On top of all this, at times it wasn't even easy to read, often with very little and/or no smooth transition from one event to another. It was even difficult to tell who was speaking at times. This could have been a great book, but instead, it was a lesson on how NOT to write a story!!
I thought is was a very good read
This book was HORRIFIC. First Ferm Michaels book i have ever read and im not sure i will be reading anymore. Easily one of the worst books ive ever read
The writing was terrible... i couldn't even finish the book. I tried, but the writing and scenarios were so out of touch with the reader I finally gave up. It was like a 5th grader wrote the book. It read like a first draft that the author was just trying to get out the main idea of the story and then never looked at it again. The dialogue was boring and unrealistic and annoying. I did not care what happened to the main characters at all. Sorry to be harsh, I have a lot of respect for authors to put themselves out there, but seriously, the editor who let this through the cracks should rethink their career.
Preposterous plot! Unbelievable characters! We are to believe a billionaire and a multi-millionaire go sleuthing behind the FBI's back! Silly.
This is an extremely poorly written book. The premise is screwy and the characters are so badly drawn as to be almost laughable. I read lots of books and have seldom read one so bad. I read it through, hoping for something to come of it, but nothing did. Do yourselves a favor and re-read an old favorite or try something totally new, but don't waste your time on this book. I think this is the first Fern Michaels book I've read and it will definitely be the last.
I have read many Fern Michael's books over the years. I didn't feel this one was up to the standard of most of her other books. It was very predictable, but also not very realistic. It seemed like it ended pretty abruptly, with several isues left unresolved. Maybe that was on purpose to set the stage for a series, but I'm not sure I would read more.
Loved the characters plus the story was great. Couldnt put it down. I really connected with her characters and had to see where things would lead to. This one book has made me a fan for life.
This was an easy read. Wonderful author. Will be reading more of these book
The writing of this book, the metaphors, the ghosts...just crazy. I hated this book. It was a complete waste of time to read it. Here is one of the sentences...he hummed the Lyrics of the lasted rod stewart song. Good Grief. I am afrain that Fern is losing it. Sorry. sad but true.
This is yet another of Fern Michaels great books, it is a very quick read, hate to put down kind of book. I highly recommend this to those folks who have read her books in the past. I anxiously await her newest novel.
This book was in a bargain book selection and I was looking for something fast to read. I was very surprised at the content of this book and all the twists and turns it took Loved it more than I imagined. A good book, with a good plot and twists. Kept me interested and entertained.