Reece Weston had never held a baby until the night he saved pregnant Jess Cassidy during a raging storm and delivered her tiny daughter
Single mom Jess has never forgotten her rescuer. So, when her baby is a few months old, she seizes the chance to repay the favor.
Cattleman Reece is usually content with the silence of the Outback--shutting out emotions, distractions. But with the woman who's been haunting his dreams in his homestead, and her adorable daughter uttering Da as her first word, his resolve starts to crumble....
From the book
Jess squirmed in the passenger seat as the car sped along the lonely outback road, windscreen wipers thrashing madly. At thirty-seven weeks pregnant, she would have found this journey tedious under any circumstances.
Tonight, in the inky, rain-filled darkness, with the wrong music playing and the monotonously annoying swish, swish of the wipers, the journey was definitely too late and too long and far too uncomfortable.
Beside Jess, her husband contentedly chewed gum and tapped the steering wheel, matching his rhythm to the latest hit from his favourite band. Alan was pleased with himself. Today he'd landed a new job managing an outback pub--a chance, at last, to earn regular wages. Jess had to admit she was pleased about this fresh start, away from the city temptations that had caused them so much trouble.
This morning, they'd travelled out to Gidgee Springs to view the pub and to settle the agreement, and in a few months, when their baby was old enough, Jess would probably work in the kitchen, so they'd both be earning again. Fabulous.
Admittedly, life in a tiny outback town wasn't quite what Jess had envisaged when she'd made her wedding vows, but she'd been pretty naive the day she'd married Alan Cassidy on a romantic tropical beach at sunset. Now, three years older and wiser, she saw this new job as a much-needed chance to start over, to get things right. Finally.
As the car sped on Jess peered ahead, worried that the headlights seemed too feeble to fight with the rain. They barely picked up the white dividing lines on the narrow road and she was grateful that the traffic in the lonely outback was so sparse.
She closed her eyes, hoping she might nod off, found herself, instead, remembering the terrible day she'd almost walked out on Alan after he lost the last of their money on yet another hopeless business scheme. Jess had made the tough decision even though she'd known firsthand that single-motherhood was a truly difficult option.
She'd never known her own father, instead had grown up with her mother and serial 'uncles', and it wasn't the life she wanted. But she'd realised she had to leave Alan even though it would mean the death of her dreams of a proper, two-parent family. Those dreams had already crumbled to dust on the day Alan lost their entire savings.
Single, she would at least regain control over her income, and she would have found a way to keep a roof over her baby's head. Then, at the last minute, Alan had seen an ad for this job as manager of a pub. It was another chance. And Jess had stayed.
Years ago, her mother had warned that marriage was a gamble, that very, very few lucky souls could ever hope for a happy ending. Now Jess was taking one last gamble, praying that after today things would be different.
Surely they should be different.
Oh, please, let him be different.
They would finish this interminable drive back to Cairns. Their baby would be born in a few weeks' time and then the three of them would start their new life in Gidgee Springs.
She would give her marriage one last chance.
Reece Weston almost missed seeing the car in the ditch. He was about to turn into his cattle property when the headlights picked up the rounded hump of a dead kangaroo lying in the rain at the edge of the bitumen, and then skid marks veering off the road. Driving closer, he caught the gleam of white...
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