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The Weeding Adventure
By Melissa McClone
Harlequin Enterprises Ltd.Copyright © 2003 Harlequin Enterprises Ltd.
All right reserved.
Chapter OneThe house was too quiet.
Sitting in his library, Henry Davenport tapped his Mont Blanc pen against the top of his mahogany desk, but the floor-to-ceiling bookcases absorbed the sound. He dropped the pen and glanced around the room looking for something to do.
Dickens, Hawking, Clancy, Gardner ... He wasn't in the mood to read any of the books on the shelves. His housekeeper had placed all his magazines in the recycling bin. A fire hazard was what she'd called the stack he kept by the library door.
TV wasn't an option. He'd surfed through all the cable channels and over 500 more on his three different satellite dishes. He had no shows left on his TiVo to watch. He was all caught up. And he'd already seen all his DVDs and videos.
Music. That would do the trick. He touched the play button on the CD remote. The jazzy strains of a trumpet filled the air.
Nice, but Henry wasn't in the mood for jazz. He hit another button. Vivaldi. Classical wouldn't do. Easy listening. Forget about it. Blues. Not today. Hard rock, folk, alternative, country. He made his way through the one hundred CDs stored in his player. Not one would do.
Tomorrow he'd have to buy a hundred different ones. Obviously his musical tastes had changed.
But what about now?
His Portland, Oregon, estate was deserted due to the annual retreat he sponsored for his staff. The silence had never affected Henry before, but tonight ...
The quiet was a problem. He needed ... something.
One phone call and he could fill the house or a club with more friends than he knew what to do with. But that wasn't what he wanted, either. It had to be something else.
The plans for his upcoming birthday party were nearly completed. All that remained was the escrow closing on the private island he'd purchased. So why did he feel as if something were missing? Something important.
Henry stared at the neat stacks of files in front of him. The invitations, the party arrangements, even the adventure. He opened the top file and studied the guest list. He'd checked and double-checked who would be joining him for an all-expense paid trip to Hawaii to attend his birthday bash on April Fools' Day. No one had been left off. He'd made certain.
The next file was about the party itself. From the catering to the live entertainment, no detail had been ignored. This year's traditional luau/tropical paradise party at one of Hawaii's most exclusive resorts was several steps up from last year's tacky wedding theme in Reno, Nevada.
Tacky or not, that party had been his best. It would be difficult if not impossible to top Reno's success. But Henry had to try.
Each year, he threw himself a birthday party and sent two of his guests on an adventure. Every year got better, more elaborate, more fun. He thought the participants enjoyed it, too.
Maybe that was the problem. He didn't want to let his guests down. They'd come to expect certain things from him. Though none had expected him to act like Cupid.
Last year, he'd tried something new and played matchmaker with the adventure participants. The result - two of his best friends, Brett Matthews and Laurel Worthington, had fallen in love and married for real. Henry was now godfather to their almost three-month-old beautiful baby daughter, Noelle.
He stared at the half dozen pictures of Noelle on his desk and warmth surrounded his heart. He still couldn't believe someone so tiny could fill him with so much love. He couldn't wait to watch her grow, to be a part of all the milestones in her life. He already had a roomful of presents waiting for her. Everything from a life-size rocking horse to a strand of Mikamoto pearls. Bringing Noelle's parents together had been the right thing. Not only for Brett and Laurel, but Henry, too.
And that's when it hit him.
Something was wrong with this year's party and adventure. Something enormous. He couldn't go back to his old way of allowing fate to pick the participants. He might not be one for marriage, but he'd seen how happy Brett and Laurel were together. Henry wanted all his friends to experience the same happiness. And if he ended up with more godchildren, he wouldn't complain. Not one bit.
Excitement rushed through him. This was the feeling that had been missing. With a grin, Henry picked up his pen and studied the names on his guest list.
Who would be the next two to live happily ever after?
Excerpted from The Weeding Adventure by Melissa McClone Copyright © 2003 by Harlequin Enterprises Ltd.
Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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