Irish in the Outback
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by Joanie MacNeil
Description: Outback temptation or man of her dreams? Reilly Jacobson was the kind of man who'd make a woman tremble at the knees. Will Maura's encounter with the rugged Australian stockman tempt her to change her life forever?
eBook Publisher: DiskUs Publishing,
eBookwise Release Date: January 2011
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [31 KB]
Reading time: 15-22 min.
So this was the Never Never. The middle of nowhere. Maura watched the small Cessna as it climbed to the heavens, disappearing into a patch of fluffy white clouds against a perfect blue sky. She thought the flight inland from Derby on the north West Australian coast had been rough, but it was nothing compared to the bone-jarring ride in the battered old Holden Ute.
The rough red dirt track stretched out ahead. A glance in the side mirror showed clouds of choking red dust mushroom behind them. Bull dust. The pilot had warned her. Red dust, heat, flies and isolation were all part of life in the Kimberley region. But Maura didn't care. So different from her native Ireland, this was a new experience and one she intended to enjoy. If she'd been afraid of the unknown, she wouldn't have risked everything that was familiar to her and travelled half way around the world.
Through the open window of the Ute she turned her attention to the sparse vegetation of green trees and small bushes that dotted the landscape and wondered how anything managed to grow in the Outback.
"This is so exciting. I'm so pleased to be here, you've no idea," she exclaimed, glancing across to the driver. His strong masculine presence seemed to fill the cabin. Maura had never seen anything quite like him in her life. He was just like the pictures she'd seen in glossy magazines and brochures--rugged, tanned and tall, dressed in time-worn boots, dusty fitted jeans and checked shirt. An authentic Australian stockman.
Her gaze wandered up to the battered Akubra hat and she smiled to herself. She had one just like it in her luggage--well, not quite like this one. Hers was a little more trendy, of the squashable variety, and brand new. She hoped she looked half as good sporting hers as Reilly Jacobson did wearing his.
He looked like the kind of guy who haunted her dreams, the kind of man who'd make a woman tremble with just one glance. The Aussie equivalent of a knight in shining armour--her Outback hero. Inwardly she chided herself. She'd been reading too many romance novels. That kind of thing didn't happen in real life. But it was fun to daydream.
"What are you smiling about?"
"Nothing," she said promptly, startled that he was aware of her observations. She was tempted to reach out and touch him to make sure he was real, feel the heated flesh and sinewy strength beneath the tanned skin of his forearm, exposed by the rolled back shirt sleeves.
Excitement filtered through her and her thoughts ran rampant until she reminded herself why she was here. Not to fall for the first Aussie hunk she'd laid eyes on. Her plan for the immediate future didn't include romance.
"I can tell you're pleased to be here," her companion commented, his tone soft and easy, at odds with his rugged appearance. "You haven't stopped bouncing around since you got in the Ute. Were you like that on the plane from Derby?"
Maura looked at him in surprise. In the cosy confines of the Cessna, the pilot hadn't complained. "If I did, I didn't realise it." She knew she was trying to take in every bit of scenery at once. She wondered if she really was behaving like a child in a sweet shop. Did her exuberance show that much?
"Just as well you're a lightweight," he bantered. The richness of his voice curled around her and she realised how much she liked its resonance.
She wasn't sure whether to take offence or not. No one had ever described her skinny straight figure as lightweight...at least not to her face. "It's not me who's bouncing," she said, a slight defensive note in her voice. "The suspension in your truck is shot. It isn't any wonder with these rough roads."
Right then Reilly hit a large pothole and Maura bumped her head on the door frame.
"Ouch." She rubbed her head, sure she could feel a lump forming. "See what I mean?"
A hint of a smile played around his chiselled mouth. "I didn't do that on purpose, you know."
She frowned at him, sensing a hint of stubbornness about him. Well, she could be just as stubborn when she chose to be.
His smile grew to an impish grin, robbing her of the retort that had almost formed in her mind.
"You'll find living out here a far cry from the kind of life you're used to," he said. "I just hope you can handle it."
"I have brothers. I'll manage. I'm tough," she said tongue in cheek, fanning herself to try to keep cool. The heat was getting to her already. How would she cope? Fine particles of dust settled all over her, adding to her general sticky grimy feeling. What she wouldn't give for a long soak in a fragrant bath. So much for being tough.
"Others tougher than you don't always last the distance. The work is hard, the days long. And you being a woman, well, some of the men don't think it's a woman's place to be doing men's work...especially out here. Working conditions aren't the greatest. And blokes like to be blokes...you know how it is."