If he got his way, no woman would say no to…. Dr. Yes.
Dr. Alan Archer didn’t seem evil. With his boyish good looks and shy demeanor, he seemed more a mother’s fantasy than every woman’s nightmare. But Rachel Calais knew the insidious truth: The doc was in Nepal seraching for the lost city of Yonam — and a plant that, when properly refined, would have every female in the world on her knees… or her back.
Rachel had a mission: Stop Archer at any cost. B.L.I.S.S. — an international organization fighting such dastardly villains — had given her a kit to help, as well as Harrison Wiles — a dangerously sexy man who knew how to watch a woman’s back. With a stun gun, infrared goggles, and other less conventional forms of nighttime protection, Rachel was a regular Jane Bond, ready to face danger wherever it lurked. What she didn’t know was that playing spy could make her pay the ultimate price: her heart.
“It’s going to be hard to say good-bye,” Fritz said in his German accent, holding her hand and stroking its back.
“It always is,” Rachel said, affecting her best Ingrid Bergman, Casablanca stance. Fritz was a middle-aged member of the tour group she had just led on a two week trip through Nepal: two weeks during which she had had to deflect his frequent amorous advances without offending him.
In every group, there always seemed to be one person who made it their goal to sleep with the guide. A sort of souvenir experience, she supposed. A little notch on the old passport.
He wasn’t a bad-looking man, and she might have considered taking him up on the offer this last night of the trip, but he smelled funny and never cleaned the wax off the hair in his ears. Even horny girls had standards.
“My flight isn’t until tomorrow afternoon. We have many hours,” Fritz said, not quite willing to give up the battle.
“You see, the problem is,” she said, lowering her voice and leaning close to him, “I’ve got two boyfriends here in town, who’ve been waiting for my return. I already don’t know how I’m going to handle both in one night, and if I throw in a third — you — well, I’m afraid I’m going to get terribly worn out, and I’ve got a lot of paperwork that’s due in the morning. Have you ever tried to do paperwork after a night like that? It’s not easy, I promise you.”
Fritz stared at her, as if not trusting his comprehension of her English.
“You do understand, don’t you?” she asked.
“You are joking?”
She raised her brows. “About my stamina? It’s embarrassing, I know, at my age. I should be able to handle three, four times a night. Maybe I need to eat more protein.”
He choked out a laugh, looking at her with a mix of wariness and disbelief. “You are a good joker. Ha.”
She patted his arm. “I’m sure you’ll find others who aren’t already booked up for the night. The club stays open until 2 a.m. — drink, dance, have fun!” She smiled and sidled away, quickly engaging a Danish girl in conversation.
This was the farewell party for her group of ten, held at a noisy restaurant and jazz club that called itself “New Orleans.” The restaurant served jambayala and blackened catfish, a fact that never failed to amuse her. Who would ever expect to find Cajun food on the edge of the Himalaya?
Then again, one would not have expected Internet cafZs, either, in a land where goats, chickens, and water buffalo were routinely sacrificed to the gods, and foreigners had been forbidden to enter until the 1950’s. The modern world’s hold on Nepal was firmest here in Kathmandu, but she need only wander away from the tourist district and the main thoroughfares to be reminded how close to the past Nepal truly still remained. Neither electricity nor plumbing were things to be taken for granted.
Her group ate and drank at a table on a wide balcony, looking down over the crowd of Western tourists in the open air portion of the restaurant. Strings of small lights drooped in catenaries above them, but if she tilted her head back she could see the real stars twinkling in the black night sky above, barely dimmed by the low-voltage streetlamps of the city. The stars reminded her of chilly nights with her father, stumbling out onto the lawn in bathrobes and jackets to look for meteors or the fuzzy blob of a comet. A wave of sadness washed through her at the memory, bringing a sting of tears to her eyes.
“A toast, to our leader!” lecherous Fritz declared, standing with a glass of Chinese beer in his hand. “One more lovely, we could never have hoped to have — pink hair, nose ring, and all!”
Rachel lowered her gaze from the heavens and forced a smile, just as she forced away thoughts of her father and mother.
“Nor one more resourceful!” a British girl added.
“Wily as a dingo,” an Australian man said. “Like how she dealt with that hotel manager in Pokhara. I thought he’d be offering the rooms for free, when she got done with him.”
Rachel smiled sincerely this time, as they all raised their glasses and drank to her.
“Here’s to a great group, with remarkable powers of endurance,” Rachel said, raising her own glass and feeling a fleeting fondness for the lot of them. “Only three of you got lost, eight ill, one bitten by a dog, and I give special honors to Annette, for sitting with the goats on the bus from Pokhara.”
They laughed, and drank.
As every group did on their final night together, this one started retelling the best of their travel horror stories from the past two weeks. Rachel listened with one ear, a half-smile on her lips, feeling as she always did as if she were on the outside looking in, somehow immune from their excitement, and from the connections they had made with one another.
Kathmandu had been her home base for a year now. She lead tours for Courageous Adventures, an Australian company that catered to young travellers with more spirit than dollars. She was hoping to be transferred to Malaysia soon, but Courageous Adventures seemed oddly reluctant to move her. She didn’t understand why they needed her here so badly, when tourism was doing poorly in Nepal.
Nepal had become like an old friend — an old friend from whom one needs a break. She was growing restless and a bit bored, and that left her with too much time to think.
Even if she wasn’t transferred to Malaysia, she wouldn’t quit her job and go back to her life in the States, though. The merest thought of walking the familiar byways of home, empty now of those she had loved most, wrenched at her heart with a pain she could not face.
No, it was much better to wander unknown Asia, where little touched upon memory, and where she could skate along like a waterskipper on the surface of a black pond of grief, safe from the drowning depths.
A touch of envy lay against her heart as she looked at her tour group. They seemed so happy, so easy in each others’ company. So apart from her.
She tried to shake off the melancholy. On the bright side, hanging out in Kathmandu nightclubs beat the grind of graduate school, and at least she no longer had her nutflake older sister Pamela lecturing her on how to live her life. She was free to do as she wished: and to do it whenever, however, wherever she wished. Curiosity, whims, and fancies were her only commanders.
Her attention was caught by a waiter down below, pointing up at her group. The remnants of her morose mood dissipated when she saw Beti standing next to him, nodding. The small Nepalese woman moved through the restaurant, headed for the stairs up to their balcony.
Curious, Rachel excused herself from the group and went to meet the woman at the bottom of the stairs. Beti was no more than 4’10, slender as a child, but hidden inside that tiny package was a wealth of knowledge and intelligence. She had an advanced degree in history, and was a teacher, but the economy of Nepal forced her to earn extra money as a local city guide. Rachel had often hired her to lead walking tours of Kathmandu.
“Beti, what a surprise! Everyone will be so happy to see you again.”
“Forgive me if I do not go to say ‘Hello.’ It was you I came to see,” she said, unsmiling. Beti was naturally reserved, but she and Rachel had built a small friendship over the year Rachel had lived in Kathmandu. Her serious tone was unexpected.
“What is it?” Rachel asked, a flutter of worry starting in her chest. “Is something wrong? Has something happened?” There were so many possibilities. A few years ago half the royal family had been massacred. Maoist rebels routinely killed members of the police and army. Bombs went off in the city, organized strikes and marches sometimes led to violence in the streets. It was rare for foreigners to get caught up in the country’s strife, but it was not unknown. She might have to move her group back to the relative safety of the hotel, quickly.
“Nothing has happened,” Beti said, betraying now a trace of tension in her voice, “but there is someone who needs your help.”
“What? My help? Who?” Rachel’s disquiet went up a notch. As a foreigner in a strange land, she was the one who usually asked for assistance, from the locals.
“Can you come with me?” Beti asked.
“Do they need first aid? I left my supplies back at the hotel.”
“No, no, it is not so urgent as that.” Beti’s smile was small, and she nervously pushed her glasses higher up the bridge of her nose. “No one is bleeding, no broken bones.”
Rachel hesitated, and glanced up the stairs towards her group. She shouldn’t leave them so early: they were still her responsibility. “But you do need me right now?”
“Within the half hour?”
Rachel nodded. She could get away by then.
“The Nepalese Kitchen. We will be in the bar.”
“We?” Rachel asked.
“You will come?”
Rachel nodded, more puzzled now than worried. She sensed Beti did not want to be pushed further for details, though, so she would have to hold her curiosity. Impatience never got you anywhere in Nepal.
The narrow, dust-covered street was quiet outside the centuries-old Newari house that was the home of the Nepalese Kitchen. Lantern light flickered on either side of the wooden door, and glowed orange from inside the upper windows, persuading her for a moment that she had stepped back in time. The facade of the building was red brick and dark wood, the windows carved bays and grills that had graced the house for hundreds of years.
Rachel stood for a moment, listening to the distant sounds of motorcycles and cars, and the barking of a dog. There was never silence in Kathmandu, and one learned to appreciate different degrees of relative quiet in this city that was struggling to find its place between the medieval and the modern world.
The owner of the restaurant, Rajendra, greeted her from behind the foyer desk as she entered. He was a handsome Nepalese man, tall and broad-shouldered.
“Your friends are waiting for you upstairs,” he said, coming round the desk. He was gorgeous, his features more Asian than Caucasian, his skin a perfect, poreless, warm-toned brown.
Rachel had been here many times, and considered seeing Rajendra as big a lure as the food. He figured regularly in her sex-starved fantasies. Pity he was married.
“It’s only Beti that I know,” Rachel said, letting him guide her up the narrow, rickety wooden staircase. She knew better than to say she could find her own way: Rajendra was nothing if not courteous, and would insist upon escorting her. Who was she to protest?
“Ahh,” he said.
There was something to that “Ahh” that gave her pause. She cast a look over her shoulder at him. He was smiling. “What is it?” she asked. “Why do you look so amused?”
“I think your friend has plans for you.”
“What sort of plans?” she asked, suspicious.
“Very nice ones.”
“Everyone is being very mysterious tonight,” Rachel muttered.
He only smiled, and gestured for her to continue up the stairs. At the top landing she bent down and removed her sandals, leaving them with the other shoes shoved against the wall, noticing a pair of black men’s dress shoes, expensive and dust-free, set neatly amidst the worn, dirty footgear of others.
The “bar” was an attic room, low tables scattered far apart, cushions round them for customers to sit upon. She felt the embrace of the warm light cast by the oil lamps, the dark wood of the roof beams and lattice windows adding to the sense of quiet, relaxed comfort. It was late in the evening, and only a few tables yet had customers.
Rajendra led her to the far corner, his broad back blocking her view until she was standing right in front of the table where Beti sat… with a man whose beauty made all thoughts of Rajendra vanish from her lusting head.
Rachel stood and stared, gape-jawed, at the male anomaly who was climbing to his feet, his hand held out to shake hers.
Where the hell had he come from? A European perfume ad? Good God. He couldn’t be human. He looked like he should be driving a convertible down a seacoast highway with a long-haired blonde in the seat beside him. He was even wearing a tuxedo, for God’s sake, the bow tie undone and hanging round his open collar.
“Rachel Calais?” he said. “I’m Harrison Wiles. It’s a pleasure to meet you.”
Rachel put her hand in his, still incapable of speech. Glossy black hair, light brown skin, Caucasian features, tall, lithe, graceful… and he had a British accent, indecently seductive when spoken in such a deep voice. His ancestry could have been anything from Indian, to mixed Asian, Spanish, Italian, Arab, or even a Frenchman with a tan.
His hand was warm and dry, engulfing hers. A faint scent of cologne came off him, just enough that she wanted to lean forward and breathe more deeply.
She saw his dark eyes quickly take in her pink hair and the small gold disc on the side of her pierced nose, then come back to meet her gaze. He was still smiling, but he couldn’t completely hide his dismay at her appearance.
He was the sexiest man she’d ever met, and she immediately felt her own beauty lacking in comparison. Fluorescent hair suddenly seemed gauche next to such practiced suavity. She felt the heat of a blush burning her cheeks, then spreading up over her forehead. A sick mixture of desire and inadequacy made her gut churn.
Even in the soft lamplight Harrison Wiles would be unable to miss her blush, and the knowledge embarrassed her anew. It annoyed her, as well: she was already at a disadvantage, without even speaking a word.
Wiles released her hand, and she looked away, feeling awkward and at a loss for what to do with herself. Rajendra’s familiar voice broke into her dazed state.
“I will bring you your usua , yes?”
She looked at him, grateful, wishing that he could stay and be her safety blanket. “Yes, please, the usual.”
The amusement in Rajendra’s eyes and the bare hint of a smile at the corners of his mouth told her what he thought: that Beti had brought this man as a prospective husband for Rachel. Rachel widened her eyes at Rajendra, and shook her head.
He winked at her, a big, slow wink that he had learned from his foreign customers, and that was as obvious as a drunk elephant sitting on the table singing Madonna tunes. Her blush deepened as he left her to her fate.
“Please, sit down,” Wiles said, genial and at ease, and gestured to the cushion across from where he had been sitting. He went round to take his own place again, failing to look silly without his shoes on.
He should have a hole in his sock. Lint on his pants. Something. And for God’s sake, he should button his shirt to the top. Men like him shouldn’t leave that hollow at the base of the throat exposed. It was indecent.
Rachel glanced at Beti, looking for clues to what this was all about, but the Nepalese woman was looking even more nervous than before, refusing to meet Rachel’s gaze and playing with the edge of her glass of mineral water.
Rajendra hadn’t been right, had he? This man could not be her date. It would explain his faintly detectable disappointment upon seeing her, though.
She sat down with a conscious effort at grace, folding her legs neatly to the side, and arranging the long skirt of her silk tunic in a smooth drape over her legs. This past year she had taken to wearing shalwar kameez, the long tunic and loose trouser outfit that was as popular in Nepal as the sari.
She would compose herself, and pay no attention to the indecent good looks of Mr. Wiles. She may not have ever met anyone as sexually appealing as he — was the man exuding some unnatural level of pheromones? — but good looks did not a superior man make.
“Thank you for coming on such short notice, Ms. Calais,” he said in his luscious accent. “Beti tells me you had to abandon your tour group to do so.”
“They’ll manage to get toasted just fine without me,” she said, with a quick smile. “Most will probably even find the hotel again. I doubt that more than two or three of the most drunken ones will sleep on the streets tonight.”
“Are you sure it is safe to leave them alone?” he asked with concern.
She made a face. “I was kidding.”
“I see.” He didn’t smile.
God’s sake, did Mr. Gorgeous really take himself so seriously? Maybe he was stupid. Yes! That would make her feel better.
A waiter appeared with Rachel’s “usual,” a bottle of Sprite. He popped the top off the small green bottle and poured the contents into a glass of ice, the three of them waiting silently for him to finish and leave. Rachel pondered reaching under the table to fondle Wiles’s knee.
“So. What’s this all about?” Rachel asked, smothering a giggle as she imagined his look of shocked offense at a pawing hand. She sipped from her glass to cover her grin, looking over the rim at first Wiles, and then Beti.
Beti made a murmur in her throat, and then sat up a bit straighter. She glanced at Wiles, then at his nod turned again to Rachel. “Before I begin, may I have your promise to keep what is about to be said in confidence?”
What the? She lowered her glass from her lips. This didn’t sound like the beginning of a romantic introduction. “Of course.” She hoped she wasn’t about to hear about something illegal.
“Thank you.” Beti pushed her glasses up her nose and fixed her gaze on Rachel. “We have a job for you. We need you to lead a trek into the Himalaya, to search for the legendary city of Yonam.”
Rachel’s lips parted as her eyes widened. She set her glass on the table with a thud. “You what?”
…..to be continued
Reviews :: Dr. Yes
“Fast-paced and just this side of silly, Dr. Yes is great fun.
“…the chemistry between Rachel and Harrison is terrific – there’s a real spark there, and when it finally ignites, well – let’s say Lisa Cach knows how to write a hot love scene.
“Dr. Yes is just the thing for the midwinter blahs…. this was a snappy, sexy romance. Check it out.”
The Romance Reader
“Cach beautifully distills all the vivid colors of Nepal into a wonderfully exotic setting for her contribution to the B.L.I.S.S. series, and her sharp, humorous writing is the perfect counterpart for this splendid story of a stubborn modern-day heroine who finds romance with a sexy, surprisingly old-fashioned hero.”
“Lisa Cach’s spoof of James Bond movies is a riot…. As usual, Lisa Cach’s Dr. Yes is thematically nothing like her previous books – in fact, nothing like most of the books out there either. It offers a nice road trip of a romantic adventure.”
“Those who like James Bond but admire his gutsy female counterparts even more will savor this smart, humorous send-up from Cach (George & the Virgin, etc.) Not many romance heroines have pink hair and a nose ring, but sassy Nepal tour guide Rachel Calais does, and her individuality and wry wit are what make this such a delight…. Cach paints both the vibrant beauty and blemishes of Nepal with a fine hand, but the exotic locale never outshines her charismatic characters.”
“The characters are witty without seeming like they’ve sprung fully-formed from a sitcom-banter generator, and their humor underscores the protagonists’ personalities and their deepening relationship in a very realistic way.
While not an overly suspenseful novel, there is a bit of mystery involved, and Cach manages this with a deft hand. There are just enough twists to make the non-romance portion of the plot interesting, and few enough that it doesn’t steal the show, or detract from space better spent in relationship building.
…Readers who like betas and the sort of plotline where the hero realizes his love before the heroine does will enjoy this book best, but there’s something in it for the rest of us, too: a pleasant love story between two people who desperately need love in their life, and a fun background mystery, too. A worthwhile read.”
Heidi L. Haglin
All About Romance
“The second B.L.I.S.S. espionage romance is an entertaining high adventure… The dynamic duo struggles with magnetic heat that can melt the snow of the Himalayas if they are not careful… readers of humorous satirical romantic intrigues will say yes to Lisa Cach’s latest thriller.”
“The exotic adventure continues in this second installment of the outrageous new BLISS spy series. Exotic locations and dangerous events make Dr. Yes a truly fun and thrilling read!”
Romantic Times Magazine
Background Notes with Photos :: Dr. Yes
In October of 2001, I took off for Kathmandu, Nepal, intending to do research for an historical adventure novel about a ‘living virgin goddess’, known as the ‘kumari’. By the time my three week stay in Nepal was up, my kumari notes were out the window and I was instead eyeing an Australian tour guide as a possible model for Rachel Calais, pink-haired BLISS super spy.
So what happened?
I arrived at night at the chaotic Kathmandu airport and had my bags snatched and dumped into a taxi before I could say ‘yea’ or ‘nay’. The beat-up little Datsun — with two cheerful men in front (why two? did they need two to better overpower me?) — took me down dark, pot-holed dirt streets as narrow as alleyways. I was certain I was going to be robbed and dumped in a bad neighborhood, for this could not be the way to my hotel. Could it? I mean, these weren’t really the roads. Were they?
It was a pleasant surprise, twenty minutes later, to find myself being deposited at the front door of a wood-panelled, marble-floored hotel, and being greeted by a young Australian woman with a pierced lip and pink hair. She was a tour guide for the same adventure company with which I would be travelling, although she was not going to lead my specific tour — a tour, by the way, for which only one other person, a British woman, had signed up. Everyone else had been scared off by 9/11, the massacre of the Nepal royal family earlier in the year, and the continuing threat of Maoist rebels in the hills.
The following night I had dinner with the pink-haired guide, the Brit, and our male guide, at the same restaurant where Rachel Calais first meets Harrison Wiles, in DR YES. Dinner conversation was filled with joking speculation by the two guides about what type of romance novel a person could write about Nepal. Some of the super-fit Nepali trekking guides were mentioned as possible heroes — apparently it’s not uncommon for brief love affairs to spring up between them and foreign tourists. Pink-hair confessed that the handsomeness of Nepali men sort of snuck up on you, and pointed out the owner of the restaurant as an example. No sneaking necessary! Oo la la, what a babe, even if he was drunk on the local rice liquor!
But no, I was looking for information for my historical novel about the ‘kumari’, the living virgin goddess. I wanted history! Yaks! A glimpse of the present kumari, ensconced in her palace in the center of Kathmandu!
I did get a glimpse of the kumari, 4 yrs old, giggling during her brief appearance in a window high above. Huh. A singularly unimpressive goddess.
I saw no yaks. I saw plenty of ancient buildings, but learned little history. Instead, I headed out on a week-long trek into the foothills of the Himalaya. “Foothills,” I learned, is a relative term. We climbed to 15,000 feet during this march, I got altitude sickness, couldn’t eat, and lost about three pounds.
On a hike to a cave, I got leeches on my legs.
On a river rafting trip, I picked up the bugs that later gave me both the runs and viral laryngitis.
I was once again unable to eat, lost another three pounds, and while coping with the laryngitis had to stay alone at a hotel on the edge of Chitwan National Park, a nature reserve in the lowlands near the border with India. The rest of my small group went traipsing off overnight through the brush to a tiny village, leaving me in the care of concerned hotel employees, one of whom would follow me around with deeply worried eyes. He made me drink hot tea with honey, and woke me from my naps if I was late for meals.
I was happy enough to stay behind from the trek, and to spend part of the afternoon in a tiny, sweltering Internet cafe, watching elephants herded by outside the door, and waiting for the phone lines to connect me to the rest of the world (it took 45 minutes to get a connection, that day). And it was while I was there, unable to speak, sweating, hoping the Imodium would hold, that I got the e-mail from my editor announcing his ideas for the BLISS line.
“You can still set your next book in Nepal,” he said, “just tweak it a bit. Instead of an historical, make it a contemporary spy spoof. Oh, and the title has to be DR YES.” Just tweak it a bit! Sure! That’s all it will take! But just like that, the kumari was gone, and the pink-haired Australian guide was creeping into my thoughts.
When we returned to Kathmandu, I saw the pink-haired guide again, and told her that she might end up a heroine in a romance novel. She groaned in embarrassment. Which reminds me: I have her e-mail address hidden away in my notes. It’s about time I let her know that her fictitious self is about to hit the shelves across four countries. Good thing she’s an ocean away and can’t get her hands on me…
Ah, but don’t we all secretly want to be the heroine of a romance novel? I do.
You can see more photos of my research trip to Nepal.