Working as a nanny for the rather gruff, yet extremely good-looking Luke Armstrong's spirited daughter seems like just the challenge Gaby Michaels needs to kick-start her new life!
Arriving at the Old Boathouse on the rugged coast of Devon, Gaby can see that the rift between Luke and his daughter can only be bridged if Luke allows himself to be healed, as well. But in helping to fix this family, Gaby realizes she wants to be more than just the nanny--she wants to be a mother to Heather...and a wife to Luke.
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March 13, 2007
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Excerpt from Her Parenthood Assignment by Fiona Harper
Gaby stood on the deserted quay and cursed herself for being on the wrong side of the river. She reached through the open car door for the map book and squinted at it. Then she turned it sideways and squinted again.
David had always said she was useless at map-reading. Mind you, her ex-husband had said she was useless at most things. She'd spent the last year doing her utmost to prove him wrong and it rankled that one of his thousand-and-one reasons to leave her had some foundation.
She slammed the car door and looked back across the river. Lower Hadwell was only a quarter of a mile away as the crow flies, but it would take her at least an hour to drive to the nearest town with a bridge and navigate her way back to the little village.
Botheration! Her first prospect of a proper job in almost a decade and she was already late for the interview. And not just fashionably late. She was all out, start-calling-the-hospitals late.
David's mocking face filled her mind. "Shut up!" she said out loud. Stupid, but it made her feel better.
She looked down at the map and a slow smile crept across her face. A little line of blue dashes. There was a ferry! Not so useless after all. Hah!
On one side of the quay a steep ramp led down to a shingle beach exposed by the receding tide. How on earth was she going to get the car down there without it rolling into the river? She blessed her sensible driving shoes and walked halfway down the ramp to get a better look.
The gravelly voice that came out of nowhere almost had her speeding back to London on foot. She put a hand over her stam-peding heart and faced the stocky man who'd stood up from in-specting a rather unseaworthy-looking boat. He was so much a part of the scenery she hadn't noticed him before. She half expected him to be covered with the same vivid green weed and barnacles as the ailing boat.
"Oh, good afternoon.'She smiled. "I was wondering about the ferry. Do you know what the timetable is?"
"This time of year it don't have one.' "Oh."
He went back to examining a broken bit of wood and she waited for him to continue, hands clasped in front of her. When it became apparent that he believed their conversation to be over, she crunched her way across the shingle towards him and stopped a few feet away.
He looked up at her again, his face crinkled against the February sun. She had no idea how old he was. The tattooed skin of his arms was smooth, but his face was etched like an old man's. He looked as if he'd spent most of his life scrunching his face against the reflection of the sun on the water, and the salt and wind had weathered it into deep furrows.
He didn't speak, but nodded in the direction of a large post in the car park. A brass bell crusted with verdigris hung from it. There was a sign, but she couldn't read it from down here on the beach, so back up the ramp she went.
Underneath the brief timetable was the following information: "30th October to 30th March--Please ring bell to call the ferryman."
Great! South Devon was obviously still operating on medieval principles.
She took hold of the frayed rope that hung from it and flung the clapper hard against the brass. The salty-looking boatman boat, maybe fifteen and wooden benches flight of steps.
that on the next visit to her parents. Especially when they sighed and exchanged glances.
She knew what they thought. She must have been a terrible wife if she couldn't keep a "catch'like David happy. Her husband had traded her in for a newer, more compact model and it must be her fault. Nothing to do with the fact he was a self-centred, tyrannical little,
She turned her face into the wind so it blew her long brown hair behind her and stuffed her hands into the pockets of her fleece.