Sneak Peeks

He’s finally met The One … and she’s dating his brother. Read a Sneak Peek from While You Were in the Country


He’s finally met The One … and she’s dating his brother. Read a Sneak Peek from While You Were in the Country

‘A charming story about finding love when and where you least expect it. Eva Scott’s loveable characters and modern twists on rural romance are simply delightful.’ Australian Author Penelope Janu

He’s finally met The One … and she’s dating his brother.

Ant Murphy has spent his life picking up after his AFL star brother. So when he gets a phone call telling him that Jed has ended up in hospital after a drink-driving incident, he’s far from surprised. He’s not even shocked by Jed’s manager’s wild scheme to have him spend the next six weeks living in the country with a girlfriend Ant didn’t even know about. All par for the course in his brother’s crazy life.

In fact, Ant isn’t thrown by anything … until he turns up at the new girlfriend’s farmhouse and discovers that he already knows her. Intimately.

Frankie Fox has dealt with a lot over the last few weeks. She’s turned thirty, lost her roof in a storm, been ghosted by someone she thought could be The One, and is now somehow dating her longstanding celebrity crush, THE Jed Murphy. But none of these comes close to the blow of having the guy who ghosted her turn up on her doorstep after weeks of silence … and for him to turn out to be Jed’s brother.

With a secret she’s forbidden from revealing, growing feelings for her boyfriend’s brother, two Murphys living in her home and her future happiness on the line, Frankie must ask the most important question of all: is all this trouble really worth a new roof?

Inspired by While You Were Sleeping, this rural romantic comedy asks what happens when The One isn’t quite who you expected …

While You Were in the Country


The big night

‘That ring belongs to me.’

All heads in the casino ballroom turned as one towards the impossibly thin woman dressed in a silver Grecian-style gown. The jewelled collar, from which her dress fell in elegant folds, sparkled in the kinetic lighting, throwing her razor-sharp cheekbones into relief. Her hair, swept upwards in an intricate chignon, only heightened the sense that an ancient Roman goddess had arrived on the scene.

Danica Pavlovic couldn’t have timed her accusation better as far as Frankie Fox was concerned. She looked magnificent standing there in a high rage, ready to fight for her man. Frankie imagined dragon-like spikes rising along her spine, her long silver nails only adding to the image. What on earth was she going to do next?

Every detail of the ballroom stood out in technicolour detail: the expectant faces, the way the white floral centrepieces bloomed on the tables, the geometric pattern of the lush carpet and the opulent chandeliers glittering from the ceiling. Everything was momentarily suspended in a soft, rosy glow. Frankie thought she’d remember this moment for the rest of her life.

The room held over fourteen hundred people, all of them looking her way. The casino staff were only allowed on the floor during commercial breaks and Frankie wondered if they’d make an exception for the fight that was about to kick off.

Caught in the blazing lights of the television crew, cam-eras poised to capture every nuance, Frankie considered her options carefully as the seconds stretched out. Whatever she did next would be analysed by keyboard warriors across the nation for weeks.

On one side there was Jed Murphy, football legend and all-round bad boy. On the other side stood Danica, super-model and vengeful ex-girlfriend, shaking with righteous anger and clutching a plateful of cream profiteroles. Seated all around them were the Australian Football League community, players and their partners.

And Frankie was stuck in the middle.

Suddenly, a perfect ball of cream-filled pastry whizzed across her eyeline. She blinked in startled disbelief as Danica picked another profiterole off her plate and took aim. The situation had just got real.


Nine weeks earlier

‘I don’t have the money.’ A gnawing feeling plagued Frankie’s stomach at the very mention of dipping into her meagre savings.

‘Come on!’ Adele threw her head back like a teenager pro-testing at her parents, complete with eye roll. ‘You don’t need money. This is your thirtieth birthday party. We’re buying the champagne.’ She gestured to the people surrounding them, all impossibly pretty and shiny. The Coolangatta pub, with its sun-kissed patrons, provided testimony to the Gold Coast lifestyle.

‘But I don’t know half these people,’ Frankie stage- whispered. She might have met one or two in passing although she couldn’t remember their names. She had the feeling they were using her birthday as a veneer-thin excuse to party.

‘So what? They know you through me.’ Adele cocked her head to one side and grinned. Frankie had a flashback to when her sister was nine years old and up to the kind of mischief that Frankie would have to clean up later. ‘I’ve told them all about you and they adore you already.’

Now it was Frankie’s turn to roll her eyes. She’d never understood Adele’s ability to flow in and out of social situations, taking what she wanted, leaving what she didn’t. Frankie had become wary of letting people close. She liked to be selective about who she allowed into her life. She’d lived in Kalbar for a few years now and was still working on building close friendships. Letting strangers buy her champers for her birthday gave her the awks.

‘Yeah, still doesn’t make it right.’

‘You spend all your time stuck on your farm in little ol’ Kalbar, so it’s no wonder you feel weird being back in civilisation.’

‘I wouldn’t call the Gold Coast civilisation exactly.’

She’d never been here before. The Coolangatta pub provided a lively, casual setting for a Saturday session and the energy buzzed with youth and enthusiasm. With the beach across the road, the whole place hummed with a holiday vibe. The coast felt so different to the country.

‘Nevertheless,’ Adele dismissed her as a hayseed with a flick of her wrist, ‘I’m not going to let you waste away out there. You promised me you’d have a good time. I even brought you somewhere you can watch the footy so you wouldn’t miss out.’

‘Not the same when Jed Murphy isn’t playing.’ Her team, down their star player, had lost their match, a result sure to send them tumbling down the ladder, all dreams of winning the premiership swept away in a series of fumbles and missed goal opportunities. If only Jed had been playing, things might have turned out differently.

‘Agree. That is one sweet piece of man candy.’

Frankie raised her eyebrows.

‘Okay, okay. I’m sorry I commoditised the crush of your life.’

‘Thank you,’ said Frankie. ‘Get your own man candy.’

‘You know I like a different kind of sweetness.’ Adele smiled and held out her little pot of strawberry lip gloss. Frankie took it for what it was, an olive branch. Adele always knew how to get around her. These small gestures of sisterly camaraderie always managed to defuse the tension.

She dabbed some onto her lips and pocketed the lip gloss as Adele leaned in to fluff up Frankie’s short blonde mop.

‘There we go, look how pretty you are now.’

‘Gee, thanks.’

A stunning blonde woman slipped up behind Adele and whispered something in her ear, sending Adele into peals of laughter. Frankie watched her sister sparkle and glow, turning her magic on the people around them. They circled about Adele as if she were the sun. How did she do that? How could the two of them be so different?

They’d been very young when their parents had drowned in a boating accident while trying to cross the Jumpinpin Bar. Adele, only eight at the time, had become a scrappy kid who took what she wanted from life. Her preferred approach to the world was to rugby tackle it to the ground. She hadn’t been changed by grief as much as amplified, becoming a larger-than-life version of herself.

For Frankie, well, things had gone in a very different direction. She’d retreated within herself, refusing to entertain new relationships in her life. What if those people up and died too, or worse still, just left?
Intellectually, she knew this was ridiculous, yet those barriers she’d erected at ten had been reinforced with steel and refused to be breached. She’d preferred to live in the shadows, where it was safer. While Adele had become the belle of the ball, Frankie had turned herself into the princess in the ivory tower. A tower that, so far, no prince had shown any interest in scaling.

The big TV screen she’d been mindlessly gazing at changed from sport to music videos. A Powderfinger classic blared out across the pub—‘My Happiness’.

Of course.

Suddenly, she was utterly fed up with herself for always being so guarded and cautious. Always so scared. Watching Adele, free and happy, Frankie wondered why she couldn’t be the same. She had been the same before her parents had died, before her life had split in two. That day had sent her spiralling down a different path of destiny. The girl she was originally supposed to be had been left back there at the crossroads. Was it possible to go back and find her?

Today Frankie turned thirty, which meant she’d been the shadow version of herself for twenty years. What an anniversary! She wanted sunlight and laughter back. She wanted spontaneous dancing and love. If she didn’t take what she wanted from life now, when would she? Her ten-year-old self deserved a better future than the one she’d created for her. Frankie needed to somehow go back in time and reclaim her.

‘We need more champagne.’ Adele clapped her hands and Frankie couldn’t be sure if it was in delight at the idea of a drink or if she had been summoning a minion.

‘No more champagne for this little duck until she gets something to eat.’

The first thing she was going to reclaim? Her childhood love of hot chips, preferably with chicken salt.
Frankie leveraged herself out of the couch she’d been sit-ting on. The room, with its vibrant handpainted murals and wood panelling, tilted for a second before returning to its regular level.

‘Eating is cheating,’ Adele sang as if quoting a nursery rhyme.

‘Good on you, Adele.’ Frankie straightened her vintage Bananarama T-shirt and took a steadying breath.
‘We’re all going on to Koi Kamui soon. Why don’t you wait a bit and come with us?’

The last thing Frankie wanted to do on her birthday was eat overpriced sushi at a bougie restaurant with people who were not her friends.

Watching the footy on the big screen with fellow fans had been a bunch of fun. She knew Adele had indulged her there. Now it was time to get something to eat. The reclamation of her life needed some contemplation. Call it her quarter-life crisis.

‘I really, really need some hot chips and then I might go home.’

‘Do you though?’ Adele pouted. ‘The fun is just beginning.’ Frankie leaned over and planted a kiss on her sister’s cheek. ‘You go on and have fun. I think that Valkyrie chick likes you.’

Adele looked over her shoulder at the tall ice-blonde who winked suggestively. ‘Well, only if you’re sure. I hate leaving you on your birthday.’

‘Adele, I’ve had fun but I’m done. I need to think about my life. I need to find the old me.’

‘The old you?’ Adele frowned. She wouldn’t remember how Frankie used to be as a kid. She’d been so young when Frankie had changed.

‘I’m good, Adele. Really. Go.’ And with one last squeeze of her hand, she did.

The noise had reached astonishing levels in the pub as footy fans, with their game over, turned to the serious business of drinking, some in triumph and others in commiseration. Frankie could see why the place appealed to her sister.

‘Excuse me.’ She tried to slip amongst the groups of tall, loud men that stood in clumps between her and the bar like giant muscular trees blocking her path.

If she could just make it there, she could ask about food. Her mouth salivated at the thought while her tummy fizzed with too much champagne. She never drank the stuff as a rule because the bubbles seemed to go straight into her bloodstream and before she knew it, she was doing some-thing really dumb. Usually in public.

‘Ouch!’ Some big oaf stepped back on her foot, throwing her off balance and sending her reeling.


Ant leaned against the bar and drained the last mouthful of his beer. He was done. If he knew what was good for him, he’d go home. It had been a long day, beginning with a dawn surf, then a couple of quotes for customers wanting to put in pools before Christmas, and finally a Saturday arvo session at the pub.
He’d come here for his mates, not the footy. Well, not this particular game. Didn’t mean his love for the sport wavered, only for certain teams. The decibels had risen and with it the level of drunkenness, as if the two things were intrinsically entwined. It was definitely time to exit the scene.

He placed his empty glass on the bar and turned to go, just in time to see a blonde go flying into a giant of a man, causing his pint of Guinness to upend all over her. He hadn’t seen what had caused the woman to become a human missile but he certainly heard the fallout loud and clear.

‘You clumsy bitch,’ roared the leviathan, as if the woman had deliberately careened into him. ‘You owe me a beer.’

Ant stepped forward, instinct on alert. He couldn’t be sure if this was a domestic argument about to go down or not. Either way, the big guy’s aggression was going to be a problem.

‘I owe you nothing.’ The top of Blondie’s head barely reached the guy’s nipples yet this didn’t seem to intimidate her one bit. ‘If you want a fresh beer, talk to the idiot that stepped on my foot and pushed me backwards.’

While You Were in the Country

While You Were in the Country

by Eva Scott

Release date: 2022-08-03

Find it here

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