Pacific islander Molly Cooper has house-swapped her way into London's exclusive Chelsea. It's her dream to explore Britain...and meet a perfect English gentleman!
Patrick Knight is finding Molly's chatty emails strangely compelling. The onetime city banker thought swapping his London pad for Molly's idyllic cottage would help him write his first novel—but it's not quite working out...
What do you do when you realize the one you want is half a world away, living in your home, sleeping in your bed...?
From the book
'This is my favourite part,' Molly whispered as the glamorous couple on her TV screen walked sadly but stoically to opposite ends of London's Westminster Bridge. 'He's going to turn back to her any minute now.'
Molly was curled on her couch in a tense ball. Karli, at the other end of the couch, helped herself to more popcorn.
'Don't miss this, Karli. I cry every time. Look. He hears Big Ben, and he stops, and—' Molly's voice broke on a sob. 'He turns.' She hugged her knees. 'See the look on his face?'
'Ohhh...' Karli let out a hushed breath. 'You can see he really, really loves her.'
'I know. It's so beautiful.' Molly reached for tissues as the gorgeous hero stood alone on the bridge, stricken-faced, shoulders squared, waiting for the woman in the long fur coat to turn back to him.
Karli grabbed a cushion and clutched it to her chest. 'He'll chase after her.'
'No. It's up to her now. If she doesn't turn back, he knows she doesn't love him.'
On the screen, a red double-decker London bus slowed to a stop and the movie's heroine, in her ankle-length, glamorous coat, hurried to catch it.
'No,' Karli moaned as the bus took off with the woman on board, and the camera switched to another close-up of the hero's grimly devastated face. 'Don't tell me it's a sad ending.'
Molly pressed her lips together to stop herself from speaking. The camera tracked upwards to a bird's eye view of London, showing the silvery River Thames curving below, and the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben...the solitary figure of the hero standing on Westminster Bridge...and the red bus driving away.
Karli was scowling. Molly hugged her knees tighter, gratified that her friend was hooked into the tension.
The camera climbed higher still, and the London bus was matchbox-size. The sounds of the city traffic were replaced by music—violins swelling with lush and aching beauty.
Molly had seen this movie more than a dozen times, but tears still rolled down her cheeks.
And then...at last...
The bus stopped.
The tiny figure of the heroine emerged.
The camera swooped down once more, zooming closer and closer as the lovers ran towards each other, arms outstretched, embracing at last.
The credits began to roll. Karli wrinkled her nose. 'OK. I admit that wasn't bad.'
'Not bad?' Molly sniffed. 'I suppose that's why you practically bit a piece out of my sofa cushion? Come on—admit it's amazing. The look on Christian's face when he thinks he's lost Vanessa is the most emotional moment in cinematic history.' She gave a dramatic sigh. 'And London has to be the most romantic city in the world.'
Shrugging, Karli reached for more popcorn. 'Isn't Paris supposed to be the most romantic city?'
'No way. Not for me. Paris is—Paris is...Oh, I don't know.'
Molly gave a helpless flap of her hands. 'Paris just...isn't London.'
'Admit it, Mozza. You have a thing for English guys. You're convinced that London is full of perfect gentlemen.'
It was best to ignore her friend's sarcasm. Molly wasn't going to admit that it held a grain—OK, maybe even more than a grain—of truth. Her love affair with London was deeply personal.
Pressing the remote to turn the set off, she went to the window and looked out into the night. The moon was almost full and it silvered the tall pines on the headland and the smooth, sparkling surface of the Coral Sea.
'One thing's for sure,' she said. 'Nothing romantic like that is ever going to happen to me. Not on...