Dream Date With the Millionaire

By: Melissa McClone

CHAPTER ONE




Blinddatebrides.com is running thirteen chat rooms, fifty-six private IM conferences, and 7828 members are online. Chat with your dating prospects now!

Private IM conference #25 (3 participants)…

Englishcrumpet: Who would have thought I’d meet the man of my dreams at an online dating site? I still can’t believe it!



DANICA BENNETT blew out a puff of air. She couldn’t believe it either.

Alone in her neatly organized cubicle in the otherwise cluttered and messy San Francisco office of Hookamate.com, she reread the purple words written in a funky font on her computer screen. Englishcrumpet, aka Grace Marlowe from London, deserved to be happy. Dani sincerely hoped her friend would find happiness and wedded bliss with her new husband, Noah. Especially with a baby on the way.

But Dani wasn’t so sure living happily ever after was possible. She glanced at the photograph of her family—her mother, her three younger sisters and herself. Winning the lottery seemed more likely. Though she’d never say those words to her newly wed friend. Dani typed, the letters appearing in green—the color of money. Too bad her life couldn’t be as rich and bold as her computer font.

Sanfrandani: It is pretty amazing.



Grace had only known Noah a short time before marrying the bestselling thriller author and then found out she was pregnant.

More words, rust-brown in a plain but strong font, appeared on screen. Kangagirl, their friend Marissa Warren, from Australia.

Kangagirl: Amazing, yes, but not that rare. Apparently one in eight people meet their spouses online.



Dani almost laughed. Marissa sounded like a commercial for online dating. Or like a happy bride. Which she would be in a few months. She’d fallen in love with her temporary boss, not someone she met on Blinddatebrides.com like Grace. Though it wasn’t for Marissa’s lack of trying to meet a guy online.

Sanfrandani: Well, it’s a good thing for me. Or I’d be out of another job.



Even this crappy job, she thought to herself and stabbed her fork at her lunch, a limp chicken Caesar salad leftover from last night’s dinner.

Englishcrumpet: What do you mean?

Kangagirl: You’ve lost me.



The two messages popped up on Dani’s screen at almost the same moment.

Oh, no. She dropped her fork. Distracted by her friends’ happiness and her own bleak prospects, she’d revealed more than she intended. The three of them had grown so close over the past six months she’d almost let her secret slip out.

Time for damage control.

Sanfrandani: Nothing. I’m just so glad you guys joined Blinddatebrides.com. I don’t know how I would have survived these months without your support and friendship.



But typing the words gave Dani a funny feeling in her stomach. What kind of friend was she? Keeping the truth about what she was doing at Blinddatebrides.com from Marissa and Grace.

Englishcrumpet: You’ve been through a lot, Dani. Losing your dream job and getting used to your new one. Things will turn around. Just watch.

Kangagirl: And then, when you least expect it, you’re going to meet him. That one special man.



Dani hoped not.

Snores drifted from the engineers’ cubicle a few feet away. Someone must have pulled an all-nighter.

She needed to get her career back on track first. She’d spent the last six months trying to find another job with no success. Distractions, especially men, weren’t allowed right now.

Kangagirl: The only question is…how do we make it happen?



We. Unexpected tears stung Dani’s eyes. She ran her fingertips over the bracelet—silver with crystal beads—Marissa had sent her after a trip to Hong Kong. These women, even though they’d never met in person, truly cared about her.

Sanfrandani: Please. No one needs to make anything happen. I’m doing fine. No worries.

Englishcrumpet: We’re not really worrying. We just want to help. You joined this site for a reason, Dani.



But not the same reason as Marissa and Grace.

Guilt welled up inside Dani.

It was time to come clean. To stop lying.

Her fingers flew across the keyboard with lightning speed, in case nerves and fear got the best of her. Or her boss showed up.

Sanfrandani: I didn’t join Blinddatebrides.com to meet men.

Kangagirl: Then why did you join?

Sanfrandani: Because



The cursor blinked, waiting for her to finish. Dani swallowed hard. Her online friendship with Marissa and Grace was the only thing in her life going well these days. Did she want to risk that?

But what kind of relationship did they have, really, if she couldn’t be honest?

Dani took a deep breath and typed.

Sanfrandani: I was forced to.



She stared at the screen, her heart racing, her hands sweating.

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