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Read an Extract: Home at Last by Meredith Appleyard

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Read an Extract: Home at Last by Meredith Appleyard

Home At LastFlying solo can be harder than it looks … A warm-hearted rural romance about finding your way home.

Flying solo for the first time had been the greatest high of Anna Kelly’s life. So when the chance of a dream job as a pilot with the Royal Flying Doctor Service comes up she takes it, even though she has to leave her home in Adelaide and move to remote Broken Hill – a place she had hoped she would never see again.

The bad memories the town provokes remind Anna why she keeps men at arm’s length but as her work proves fulfilling, her housemate becomes a friend and a warm community grows around her, Anna is surprised to discover that Broken Hill is starting to feel like home.

But there is no such thing as plain sailing and with errant mothers, vengeful ex-patients and determined exes on the prowl, life is becoming increasingly complicated. More than that, the distractingly attractive Flight Nurse Nick Harrison seems keen to get to know her better, and he has a way of finding a path through her defences. But will he still want her if the truth comes out?

Find out more

 

Chapter 1

It was spring. Warm, lemon-blossom-scented breeze wafted in through the window, lifting the lace curtain. Three fat, lumbering blowflies bumped aimlessly against the glass. The kitchen clock ticked.
A blood-curdling scream rent the air. Anna jumped, knocking over her cup. Milky dregs puddled on the tabletop. She surged to her feet, grabbing for the dishcloth on the sink.
An ashen-faced man appeared in the doorway. He looked rough, unshaven, with dark circles under his eyes. They’d met briefly when the station hand had ferried them in from the airstrip. The husband. Brad, Brett—she couldn’t remember which. His Adam’s apple bobbed as he swallowed.
‘Nick, the nurse, says can you come,’ he croaked, and then his hand flew to his lips. He grunted and disappeared as suddenly as he’d appeared. Moments later a door slammed somewhere followed by muffled retching.
From the front of the house another shriek, this one ending in a sob. Anna flinched. More retching came from the direction of the toilet. Louder this time. She lobbed the soggy dishcloth into the sink and, although it was way outside her job description, she took off in the direction of the scream.
As a Royal Flying Doctor Service pilot, her job was to fly the aircraft and keep everyone safe while they were onboard. If flying conditions weren’t optimum, it was her call whether they flew or stayed on the ground.
For everyone’s sake it was best if the pilot didn’t know anything about the condition of the patient. Then any flight decisions the pilot made wouldn’t be influenced by a rapidly deteriorating trauma victim or a critically ill child.
But working in a small team in a remote location made it nearly impossible not to know something about the patient. Anna got that and Nick Harrison, the flight nurse, would know the rules too. He would only ask for her help if he genuinely needed it.
She found them in a bedroom at the front of the house, where an overhead fan was stirring the fetid air. A young woman, her eyes squeezed shut in a blotchy tear-stained face, lay on a single bed covered by a plastic sheet. Blood congealed against her bare buttocks.
Nick, dark head bent, was focused intently on what was happening between her splayed legs. He looked up as Anna entered the room. Their eyes met and she saw relief in the grey-green depths.
‘Anna,’ he said to her, ‘this is Rachel. Her baby has come early. Brett had to leave suddenly. I’m sorry, but could you—’
Anna’s throat constricted. Instinctively, she moved towards Rachel, reaching for her hand. Rachel’s grip was vice-like.
Sweat plastered wispy blonde hair to her forehead. A plastic bag of IV fluid dangled from a hatstand beside the bed and Anna traced the transparent tubing to Rachel’s arm.
Anna held on to Rachel’s hand, looking everywhere but at what Nick was doing further down the bed.

The room’s walls were painted a soft yellow with a colourful mural of farmyard animals at eye level. With a jolt Anna realised this room was the nursery. She squeezed Rachel’s hand. Rachel’s eyes remained shut and tears coursed down her cheeks faster than the fluid running into her vein.
Nick stood up. Rachel opened her eyes, dropped Anna’s hand and wordlessly reached for the small, ominously still bundle cradled in Nick’s large hands. Her tears didn’t stop as she hugged her baby and pressed a trembling kiss to its cool forehead.
‘Anna, thanks, and can you please find Brett, see if he’s good to come back,’ Nick said calmly, although his expression was strained. There was blood all over his gloved hands.
‘Sure,’ she said and sped from the room, wanting desperately to cover her ears and block out the sound of Rachel’s keening.
Anna found Brett in the shade on the front verandah. His eyes were red-rimmed; a large, calloused hand trembled as he stroked the head of a black-and-tan dog, its muzzle grey with age.
‘Brett, Rachel needs you.’ Anna’s voice was clogged with unexpected tears. He paused, gave the dog one final pat and stood up. ‘I’m so sorry,’ she said, overwhelmed by the need to say something.
He nodded, sucked in a shaky breath and trudged inside.
The old dog smiled, tongue hanging out, but his brown eyes were sad. His tail thumped half-heartedly. Anna understood how the old boy felt.
Walking to the edge of the wide verandah, she glanced at her watch, squinting in the mid-afternoon brightness. She needed to clear her head, block out the sights, sounds and smell of that tiny bedroom. She contemplated the scene in front of her.
A narrow strip of patchy lawn and several straggly lavender bushes bordered the cracked cement path leading to the homestead. In the distance there was an assortment of shabby sheds, a water tank and a rusting tractor. A willy-willy swirled dust and debris in its path. In a nearby gum tree a flock of corellas wailed mournfully.
The ute with the stretcher from the aircraft on the back was parked under the gum tree. Anna wondered where the station hand who’d driven them in from the airstrip had disappeared to. Would he reappear when it came time to take them back to the aircraft?
Returning home to Broken Hill base after a routine patient transfer to Adelaide, their flight had been diverted to Elder Creek station. The station property was in South Australia, closer to Adelaide than Broken Hill. Anna guessed that as soon as Nick was satisfied the patient was stable, they’d be flying Rachel back the way they’d come. In that case she’d have to amend the flight plan.
If Brett travelled with his wife, they’d need to refuel in Adelaide. She went inside to wash her hands and rustle up another cup of tea. She crossed her fingers, hoping Nick wouldn’t need her again in that front bedroom.
‘Right for taxi?’ Anna’s lips brushed the microphone. They were homeward bound again, their distraught patient dispatched to the Women’s and Children’s Hospital in the capable hands of ambulance paramedics. The sun was low in the sky.
‘Cabin secure,’ came Nick’s tired reply.
Waiting for instructions from air traffic control, Anna watched as a Jetstar Airbus took to the skies. Eventually it was their turn to taxi into position for take-off. With the familiar surge of adrenaline, Anna pulled back on the control and they were on their way.
When they’d reached the top of their climb, no sooner had she let her shoulders loosen than Nick’s voice crackled through the intercom.
‘You know, I’ve been racking my brains and I’ve finally worked it out,’ he said. ‘Broken Hill High School, early noughties.’

Even with a voice thickened by fatigue and distorted by the King Air’s tinny intercom, Anna couldn’t miss the smugness in his tone. Her fingers flexed on the control.
‘You were in the same year as me?’ he said, enough uncertainty in his voice to make it a question.
Anna rolled her lips together. She had no intention of helping him out. Then with more confidence he added, ‘Your old man, Max Kelly, was the principal. He replaced Gary Fielding when he left—very suddenly, I might add.’
With a sinking feeling Anna realised he didn’t need help; he’d worked it out all by himself.
Nick laughed. She repositioned her headset, backed off the volume. ‘They reckoned it was us Year Twelve boys who finally pushed the poor bastard over the edge.’
‘Really?’
‘It wasn’t us … I swear. Gary Fielding was sleeping with the Year Ten history teacher. She looked a bit like Cameron Diaz. His wife found out and their marriage was history.’
‘You don’t say,’ Anna murmured, aiming for disinterest, but powerless to prevent the memories flooding back.
She remembered her horror the day her dad had come home from school and said they were moving to Broken Hill, the heated conversations between her parents when they thought she wasn’t listening. Tina, Anna’s mother was comfortable in suburbia, and objected vehemently to yet another uprooting. In her eyes a transfer to Broken Hill was tantamount to banishment, regardless of her husband’s promotion.
Max Kelly, a perpetual assistant principal, had embraced the windfall. Anna had been easily mollified with the promise of flying lessons. By then her older sister Teresa was married with a young family of her own. She’d barely raised an eyebrow.

‘So,’ Nick said, his voice propelling Anna back to the present, ‘what did you do when school finished? From memory, Max Kelly stayed on as principal for the next five years or so, but I don’t remember seeing you around.’
‘He stayed for six years, actually. Then Mum threatened to go back to the city, any city, without him if necessary. And haven’t you got a good memory.’
‘What I had was a younger brother who was always in trouble. So, where’d you go?’
‘Away,’ she said. It had been a turbulent time in her life. Her stay in the rural city had been short and shattering and something she didn’t like to dwell on.
‘Yeah, we all go away, but many of us bounce right back.’
‘Mmm,’ Anna murmured.
Returning to Broken Hill in March for work had been one of life’s little ironies. This time Anna had chosen to come, telling herself it was a stepping stone in her career and she’d stay as long as it took to get where she really wanted to be. Anna wasn’t sure yet where that would be, only certain that it’d to be closer to Adelaide, where she’d come from.
‘Why’d you come back?’ she said.
She waited, heard the hiss of indrawn breath. He said, ‘Not a day goes by that I don’t ponder that very question.’
Nick didn’t say anything more and Anna was happy to leave the memories in the past. She glanced over her shoulder back into the cabin. He was staring pensively out the tiny round window, his large, capable hands resting on solid thighs. He looked exhausted.
It was after her days off the previous week that Neville Abrahams, the senior flight nurse, had introduced her to Nick Harrison, relieving flight nurse. He’d started at the beginning of November and although he was new to the current team, he wasn’t new to Broken Hill or the RFDS, if the grapevine was to be believed.
When they’d been introduced, there had been something vaguely familiar about him. But then his eyes were memorable—not green, or grey, rather somewhere in between, and framed by thick, dark lashes lush enough to make a girl jealous. Any hint of femininity was lost in the distinct masculinity of his other features.
Ten seconds was all the time she’d squandered trying to place him. Now she knew. Who’d have thought it’d been that fateful year at Broken Hill High School.
Nick didn’t initiate any further conversation and forty minutes later, the sun a whisper away from kissing the horizon, they began their descent. Anna shifted her focus from the unwanted memories to the instrument panels and air traffic control. The refueller would be waiting when they landed. The onboard oxygen needed recharging. She emptied her mind of everything and concentrated on the job at hand.
Post-flight tasks and paperwork dealt with, Anna was in the staff carpark, unlocking her red, ten-year-old Holden Commodore when Nick caught up with her.
‘Buy you a drink?’ he said.
‘No, thanks. Long day, and I have stuff to do.’ Buy cat food, put on a load of washing, really urgent stuff.
‘That’s a shame. I wanted to say thanks for what you did today with Rachel Carmichael. You were terrific, stepping in when Brett lost his lunch. I know asking you to do it was above and beyond.’
‘I didn’t do much, only held her hand.’
‘Don’t underestimate hand-holding, Anna. In my experience, sometimes that’s all anyone can do.’
‘Sure,’ she said.

He tipped his head to the side. ‘And you’re all right with it? It was a bit in your face. A lot to take in.’
‘You’re right. It was a lot to take in.’ Anna tossed her leather satchel onto the back seat and shut the door. ‘But I wasn’t in there very long, and I have been in a labour ward before. A proper one, that is.’ But not one where the baby was premature and stillborn. She didn’t say it out loud but the words were there any way.
‘Have you?’ he said, with obvious curiosity.
She hesitated, uncomfortable with the direction the conversation was going. ‘My sister has two children, and her partner wasn’t the most supportive of men,’ she said briskly, wrenching open the driver’s side door. Divorcing him was one of the smartest things her sister had ever done.
‘Ah, so you’re an auntie.’
‘I am. They’ve grown up and live away from home.’
‘You sure you don’t want to go for a drink? Coffee? Talk some more?’
Anna shook her head. Nick folded his arms. It was almost dark and she could feel more than see him staring at her.
‘What?’ she said, fisting one hand on her hip.
‘You wanna know why I remember you from high school?’
‘Not really.’
‘I’ll tell you anyway … I thought you were hot,’ he said and leaned closer. ‘Your hair was longer, not as curly. I used to watch you play hockey.’
His smile was a flash of white in the gloom. He was attractive; she was attracted. As far as she knew he was unattached. She’d been single forever. It could have been simple, but it wasn’t. She said, ‘No-one knows I lived here when I was a teenager. If they remember a high school principal called Max Kelly, they haven’t made the connection.’

He raised his eyebrows and pushed his hands into his pockets. ‘Well, your secret’s safe with me,’ he said. ‘And if you ever change your mind about that drink, you know where to find me.’
Anna watched him cross the carpark and climb into a late-model 4WD dual cab. She’d noticed it earlier, a shiny new addition to the staff carpark. It was a metallic grey-green colour, not unlike his eyes. With a roll of her eyes she dropped into the sagging driver’s seat of her Commodore.
Anna didn’t remember Nick from school. She tried not to remember anyone. Not hard to do because at school when her contemporaries realised she was the principal’s daughter, they avoided her like the plague. Anyway, that year she’d been preoccupied with her first flying lessons, and her first flight instructor …
The car interior was warm, bordering on uncomfortable. Anna opened the windows and by the time she reversed out of the park Nick Harrison’s vehicle had disappeared.
It was several kilometres from the aerodrome and Royal Flying Doctor Service base into town. Low scrub gave way to the city limits. Street lights twinkled. Traffic was sparse, the roads wide. The evening commute was over, but the Coles supermarket, open until late, was a hub of activity.
Anna joined the people hurrying up and down the supermarket aisles picking up last minute supplies for late dinners or lunch the next day. She grabbed the cat food and a frozen dinner, filed through the self-serve lane and was home ten minutes later.
Home was a circa 1970s double-fronted brick veneer on the northern outskirts of the city. The floor plan was simple: three bedrooms and a bathroom on one side, separated by a wide passageway, with the sitting room, kitchen-dining and laundry on the other side. An archway provided access to the dining area through the sitting room.

Anna shared with Beth Samuels, a midwife from the hospital. Beth was as blonde as Anna was dark. Size-wise they’d never be able to swap clothes or shoes, and Beth’s bubbly personality was the perfect foil for Anna’s quiet reserve. Anna’s rent helped Beth pay the mortgage. They were both shift workers and it was an arrangement that worked well.
The cat, an ageing Siamese called Albert, belonged to Beth, but it was Anna who remembered to feed him.
When she let herself in, the house was silent. Beth was on afternoon shift. Anna turned on lights, opened windows and flicked on the overhead fan in the sitting room. It was November; the nights could be pleasantly cool but daytime temperatures were pushing well into the mid-30s.
In the laundry the over-sized cat flap rattled and Albert sashayed into the kitchen, yowling.
‘All right, all right,’ Anna muttered, unpacking the shopping bag. Spooning food into his bowl, she screwed up her nose. ‘Don’t know how you can eat this stuff, mate.’ His tail flicked. She put the bowl down on his placemat. He sniffed it and snuffled up several mouthfuls. Licking his chops, he wandered off.
‘And thank you too,’ she called after him.
It wasn’t until later when Anna was in the shower, lathering shampoo into her hair, that it struck her: maybe Nick Harrison had needed to debrief about the day. He’d had an awful time.
Delivering a stillborn baby, and all that blood; dealing with the distressed mother and the monosyllabic father. And then the flight back to Adelaide with the traumatised mother and her deceased baby.
She rinsed off and hopped out of the shower. After a cursory towelling dry, she pulled on faded denim cutoffs and a T-shirt over her still-damp body.

‘Move, Albert,’ she said, toeing him in the rear to shift him out of the doorway.
When she located her staff phone list, the call went directly to Nick’s voicemail.
Resisting the impulse to hang up, she left a message. ‘Nick, hi, it’s Anna. I’m sorry about earlier. You’d had the day from hell … If you need to talk …’ Then she felt ridiculous, muttered, ‘Oh, never mind,’ and stabbed at the phone with her finger to disconnect.
Of course he’d have friends to debrief with: other flight nurses, people who’d understand better than she did what he’d been through. He was probably doing that right now and that’s why his phone was off.
She nuked the frozen pasta dinner. It was tasteless, a little less so after a liberal lacing of butter and parmesan cheese.
Afterwards, propped against the cupboard, she ate raspberry-ripple ice cream straight from the carton. Albert watched through slitted eyes, tail slashing from side to side.
Anna was flicking through an aviation magazine, the television a low murmur in the background when the doorbell pealed. She rubbed her eyes, stretched and padded barefoot to the front door. At this time of night it’d most likely be Scott, Beth’s boyfriend. If he was in town he’d probably had a few beers and couldn’t find his key. Anna flicked on the front light and reached for the door handle, a gentle rebuke on the tip of her tongue.

 

Chapter 2

The door opened and Anna stood there, backlit by a light from the hallway. Judging by the look on her face it wasn’t him she’d been expecting. Nick waved a bottle of wine in his hand, holding on to his smile. ‘I know it’s late, but—’
‘How did you know where I lived?’
He raised his free hand in a defensive gesture. ‘Beth is a mate. I’ve known her for years. You know how she gossips.’
‘She’s still at work.’
‘I know she is. I came to see you, to take you up on your offer.’
Her expression wasn’t exactly welcoming. His forced cheerfulness flagged. He felt sad, wrung out and lonely. Broken Hill might have been his home once, but that had been years ago.
‘You were right, Anna,’ he said, sighing. ‘It was a bitch of a shift. But it’s late. I should have called first.’
‘I thought you’d be debriefing over a few beers with your colleagues.’
‘Nah, they’re all tucked up in their cosy little lives.’
Anna pushed open the screen door and stood back to let him pass.

‘Thanks,’ he said, making for the kitchen. Anna followed through the sitting room and on into the kitchen.
‘You seem to know your way around.’
‘Yeah, Beth had a physio living here, way back when she first bought the place. We, that is the physio and I, spent a fair amount of time together. She, er, gave a great massage.’ Nick put the wine on the bench and started opening cupboard doors looking for glasses.
‘No wine for me, thanks,’ Anna said. ‘But you go right ahead.’
‘But I brought it for you, to thank you. I took a punt on you liking dry white.’
‘Thanks, but no thanks.’
He regarded her for a long moment and she met his appraisal head on. She wasn’t going to change her mind. He returned the wine glasses to the shelf.
‘Would you have preferred beer?’
‘I’m on roster in the morning so it wouldn’t have mattered what you brought. Do you want tea? Coffee? Water?’
‘Water is good.’
Anna opened the fridge, filled two glasses with cold water and handed one to him.
‘What happened to the physio?’ she said.
He followed her around the breakfast bar to the dining table, noticing the way her denim shorts hugged her backside. He pulled out a chair and sat down facing her.
‘Nicole? She decided she hated the place and moved back to Mildura.’
‘Shame. Bet you were disappointed.’
Nick lifted the glass to his lips taking a slow sip. At the time he had been disappointed, but he’d moved on quickly.
‘So, I remember you saying you’d been in a labour ward before,’ he said, changing the subject because he didn’t want to discuss the women in his past life. ‘But have you ever experienced anything like you did today?’
‘No, but because of my gender I’ve occasionally been asked to do things that the flight nurses wouldn’t ask of the male pilots.’
‘And being a bloke, a lot of people don’t expect me to be the flight nurse. More often than not they think I’m the pilot or the doctor.’
‘Yeah,’ Anna said, and he felt a rush of warmth when her lips tipped up in a smile. ‘Funny how in an age of such political correctness, gender stereotyping is alive and well. I’ve noticed it’s more pronounced in the country.’
‘Could be. I’ve never really thought about it.’
Anna picked up her glass, wiping away the condensation ring on the tabletop with the side of her hand. ‘How do you reckon Rachel’s getting on?’ she said. ‘I’m no expert but she looked a bit fragile. Beats me why her husband didn’t go with her. She could have done with the support.’
‘I don’t know why he wouldn’t go. I tried to change his mind but he was adamant. And to answer your first question, Rachel struck me as the type of person who, with support, will slowly work her way through this and get on. My instinct tells me he’s the one to watch.’
‘What do you think happened to make her go into labour so early?’
Nick considered the question. It’s one he’d asked himself a time or two. ‘Hard to say,’ he said. ‘I’ll leave that up to the doctors to decide. But—’
Anna lifted her eyes, meeting his. ‘But what?’
‘I don’t know for sure,’ he said, frowning. ‘There was something else going on. When we first arrived at the homestead and I was assessing Rachel, she was quite open with me, but then Brett came into the bedroom and she clammed right up. From then on her answers to my questions about when she last felt the baby kick, when her waters broke, when the contractions started, were very vague.’
Anna went to the fridge for the water, refilling Nick’s glass and then her own.
‘Thanks,’ he said and leaned both his elbows on the table. ‘How did Brett seem to you?’
‘Anxious, upset, not much to say. Like a lot of men. I heard him throwing up in the toilet … When I went to get him, after you’d handed Rachel the baby, his eyes were all red, as if he’d been crying.’
Nick dropped his head onto his hands. ‘It was a girl. Rachel called her Matilda. I tried to resuscitate her,’ he said, slowly massaging his temples, trying to forget the tiny, lifeless body. ‘I was wasting my time and we both knew it, but I had to try.’
‘You don’t think he hurt Rachel, do you?’
‘Who, Brett? What makes you say that?’
‘I don’t know. Nothing in particular, but same as you, things felt a bit off to me.’
He shook his head. ‘Between you and me, she had some recent bruising on her left hip and buttock. When I asked her about it, she got all vague again, said she’d been clumsy. My best guess? In the last couple of days she’d had a fall of some kind … Where? How? I’ve no idea, but maybe it’s what started it all.’
‘Maybe she fell off a horse.’
Nick’s mouth turned down. ‘Nah. Why would she even have been on a horse in the first place? She was going on thirty weeks pregnant. She wouldn’t put herself at such risk.’
‘She’s a station manager’s wife. They’re expected to do things. And there was a stack of photos on the fridge of her on a horse, camp drafting and stuff. Looked like she was pretty skilled at it.’
‘Yeah, but that doesn’t mean she’d been on a horse recently.’

‘Only a thought. Maybe she’ll tell the doctors at the Women’s and Children’s Hospital.’
Anna sat back, lacing her fingers together behind her head. She rocked back on the chair and stretched. ‘Not that it’s any of my business.’
‘You were there so of course it’s your business. Though I’ve documented everything, and then some, it’s probably best if we keep our speculations to ourselves,’ he said.
‘I won’t say anything,’ Anna said. She dropped her arms and sat forward in the chair.
‘Tomorrow I’ll give Brett a follow-up call. He might have changed his mind and driven to Adelaide to be with Rachel. In my opinion it’s where he should be.’ He finished off the water, contemplating the empty glass. Anna startled when he pushed himself to his feet.
‘It’s later than it was. I’d better get going, unless there’s anything else you want to talk about?’
She shook her head. ‘And you’re okay?’ she said, tilting her head to look up at him.
‘I’ll be fine,’ he said, and hoped he would be after a solid night’s sleep.
‘Anything I can do?’
Nick gazed down at her, her brown eyes wide and guileless. ‘It wasn’t my first stillbirth,’ he said, ‘but it was a new experience to have no back up, to feel so helpless. On top of being powerless to change the outcome.’
‘I thought you were awesome. From what I observed, and a layman’s perspective of course, no-one could have done any more, or any better.’
‘Maybe,’ he said, shrugging. ‘It’s the downside of this type of health care. In a hospital help is never far away. It brought home again how there’s only so much one person can do when you’re miles and hours from getting any help. My only consolation is that the duty doctor said he wouldn’t have been able to do anything more than I did. And even if they’d sent another plane with a doctor, the outcome wouldn’t have changed. At least we were in the vicinity and they could divert us. We got there quicker than if we’d been coming from Broken Hill.’
‘Some consolation I suppose,’ Anna said and stood up.
‘Some,’ he said, suddenly feeling awkward. If it had been Beth, or any of his other female colleagues, after an experience like this he would have hugged them. With Anna, he wasn’t so sure.
‘Here, take the wine with you,’ she said, brushing past him to grab the bottle from the bench.
‘Keep it. I brought it to thank you. If you don’t drink it I’m sure Beth will see it doesn’t go to waste.’
‘You’re right,’ she said, her throaty laugh sending tingles down his spine. ‘She will enjoy it.’
Nick blinked, realising he was staring at her mouth, a tsunami of lust suddenly surging through him. Ripping his gaze away from her, he forced himself to move in the direction of the front door.
At seventeen she’d been hot. Attractive, self-possessed and just like now, totally oblivious to the effect she’d had on him. When the senior flight nurse had introduced them, he’d recognised her instantly. She hadn’t a clue who he was.
Now, a lifetime later, she was a knockout. The years had added a luscious ripeness to her, along with a quiet maturity.
‘Good night,’ he said, letting himself out.
‘Night,’ she said, stepping out onto the verandah behind him. ‘Thanks for dropping by. Sorry I was bit rude earlier, but I thought you were someone else.’
A man, he’d bet. Envy twisted like a corkscrew. In the shadows her expression was unreadable.

 

 

Read more from Home at Last by Meredith Appleyard 

Meredith Appleyard lives in the Clare Valley wine-growing region of South Australia. As a registered nurse and midwife she practised in a wide range of country health settings, including the Royal Flying Doctor Service. She has been an agency nurse in London and  a volunteer in Vietnam.

When a friend challenged Meredith to do what she’d always wanted to do – write a novel, she saved up, took time off work, sat down at the computer and wrote her first novel. Meredith lives with her husband and border collie Lily, and when she’s not writing she’s reading! Home at Last is her fourth novel.

www.meredithappleyard.com.au 

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