Likes: coffee shops, nice shoes, London
Dislikes: spiders, the Outback, Hal Granger!
Dislikes: cool, unflappable, distracting city girls
Likes: one city girl in particular...
Meredith's been forced to take a job on a remote cattle station, with a boss she can't stand! It should be easy to keep things professional--except their office is under the blistering Outback sun, and Hal's work attire is a bare chest and thigh-hugging jeans! Although they're worlds apart, it's getting harder to keep things strictly business...
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August 31, 2007
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Excerpt from Outback Boss, City Bride by Jessica Hart
"That's the man you want."
Meredith's dubious gaze followed the pointing finger across the road to where a grim-looking man was just getting out of a battered truck. Not your typical Australian, was her first thought. He was very dark, for a start, and while everyone else out here seemed to radiate a kind of laconic good humour, his face was set in severe, almost intimidating, lines.
As she watched from her vantage point on the pub veranda, he jammed a hat on his head and slammed the truck door. He looked as if he were in a very bad mood.
"Are you sure?" she asked doubtfully. 'Course I'm sure."Bill, owner of the pub and self-appointed guide to Whyman's Creek, hoisted his trousers up over a substantial stomach. 'I know everyone round here,"he pointed out proudly. 'We don't get many strangers passing through."
Meredith could believe it. Whyman's Creek appeared to consist of a pub, a store, an airstrip and not much else. There were a few houses set in dusty, treeless yards dominated by water tanks and a road that ran straight through the town--if you could call it a town--its tarmac wavering in the brutal heat.
And that was it. Meredith knew, because she had explored every inch of it. She had been in Whyman's Creek for eighteen hours, and that was seventeen and a quarter hours too many in her book.
"This guy works at Wirrindago, does he?" she asked Bill as the man turned towards the store.
"He does more than work there. He owns it," said Bill. 'All one thousand square kilometres of it."
Meredith tried to imagine a thousand square kilometres, but couldn't do it. Not that it mattered; she had got the point. Wirrindago was a lot bigger than the backyard of her tiny terraced house in London. You'd think if you owned all that land you'd look a bit happier, she thought, eyeing Hal Granger critically.
Still, she didn't need him to tell jokes. She just needed him to take her to Lucy.
"Thanks, Bill," she said. 'I'll go and have a word with him." But before she could decide how she was going to approach him, Bill had put his fingers in his mouth and produced a piercing whistle that made her flinch. 'Hal!" he called. 'Over here, mate!"
The man called Hal stopped with a hand on the screen door of the store and Meredith could feel his exasperation from the other side of the road. 'What is it, Bill?"he demanded irritably.
Not at all put out by the ungracious response, Bill beamed and pointed at Meredith with his thumb. 'Young lady here wants you," he shouted back, not that there was any need to raise his voice, Meredith reflected. There wasn't exactly a deafening roar of traffic.
Meredith couldn't actually hear Hal's sigh, but it might as well have boomed out over the outback as he turned and headed across the road. He stopped at the bottom of the steps leading up to the pub's veranda and frowned up at her, just in case he wasn't looking intimidating enough already. 'Yes?" he said. 'I'll leave you two to it," said Bill comfortably. 'Hal'll see you right," he added to Meredith, blissfully unaware of Hal's obvious irritation, or perhaps too familiar with his scowl to notice. With a final hoist of his trousers, he disappeared into the gloom of the pub, leaving Hal and Meredith regarding each other.
Neither was impressed.
Meredith felt at a distinct disadvantage. It was perfectly obvious that Hal Granger was in no mood to grant favours. Beneath his hat, his eyes were a startlingly light grey and very cold and the dark, frowning brows did nothing to alleviate the impression of barely leashed temper she had sensed when she'd watched him get out of the truck. With that fierce scowl, beaky nose and stern mouth, he could hardly be called a good-looking man, but there was no denying the force of his personality.
Hal Granger, she guessed, was someone to be handled with care. It would have been much better if she had gone over and introduced herself, rather than let Bill whistle him over like a dog.
On the other hand, at least he was there. She couldn't do anything about it now, and if she dithered any longer about the best way to approach him, he would get even more cross. Putting on her best smile, Meredith took off her sunglasses, with the vague idea that it might make her seem friendlier and more approachable, although not wearing them didn't seem to have that effect on Hal Granger.
"I'm so sorry to interrupt you," she began, absurdly conscious of her English vowels. She had never realised that she sounded so like the Queen before. 'But Bill was telling me that you own a cattle station called Wirrindago."
Hal ignored his cue to ask her what he could do for her. 'Yes," he said again unhelpfully.
Meredith kept her smile fixed in place and ploughed on. 'I'm Meredith West. I believe my sister's working for you...Lucy," she prompted and the strange light eyes narrowed slightly.