A mousy music teacher, Maisie's hardly a seductive siren. But her lack of worldliness turns her life upside down, and, abandoned and alone, she knows she has to confront the man who deceived her....
Rafael Sanderson is rich, successful and a master of marriage avoidance. He's never seen Maisie before, but she seems to think she knows him. And even though it's his rule never to get involved, this time he's compelled to make this waif his wife!
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February 29, 2008
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Excerpt from From Waif to His Wife by Lindsay Armstrong
Maisie Wallis seldom admitted defeat but on a late winter's day, not long after her twenty-second birthday, she came close to it.
She was a petite redhead with green eyes, but she presented to the world two rather different personae. Her real name was Mairead, although she'd been Maisie for as long as she could remember.
It was as the unexceptional Maisie Wallis that she taught music at a strict private school. She wasn't greatly experienced as a teacher yet, but she was passionate about music and she loved children.
It was as Mairead Wallis, with her cloud of red curls released and teased out, in stage make-up and a glitzy dress, that she pursued her second job, back-up pianist on weekends for a band that performed at upmarket receptions.
Of course, within, she was the same person. The only child of doting parents, she was a little strait-laced, she was a little unworldly, she had to acknowledge with the painful help of hindsight, although as Mairead Wallis she mightn't look it.
Then she'd lost those doting parents in a freak accident six months ago, and now she was on her own.
Well, almost, she thought as she flagged down a taxi because her car had developed a mysterious knock overnight and was in for a service; because the thought of taking a bus was nauseating and her feet were killing her, anyway.
But, as he drove her home, the taxi driver must have caught her air of despair and, as he dropped her off, he said, 'Cheer up, love! Things can't be that bad.'
She handed over the fare and was about to say that they couldn't, actually, be worse. But she stopped as she noticed a blind man walking along the pavement with a white stick and a seeing-eye dog, and she grimaced. Of course they could.
And maybe it was time to get mad, maybe the time for tears and recriminations and despair was past. She wasn't, after all, a redhead for nothing.
Moreover, Rafael Sanderson might be a high-flying, multi-millionaire with the means to keep outsiders at bay, she might have pounded the pavements in search of him today to no avail, but she refused to be treated like this.
Home was an old wooden Queenslander in Manly, a bay-side suburb of Brisbane. But it had only become home fairly recently. Her father had been in the army, so a lot of Maisie's life had been lived on the move on a variety of bases, including some overseas postings.
She'd done her music degree in Melbourne while her father had been based at Puckapunyal. Then he'd retired and her parents had fulfilled a dream; they'd moved to Queensland, the Sunshine State, they'd bought a house and a boat.
Maisie had come north as well, quite happy to move back home and be able to help her mother, who had suffered from arthritis.
The one downside, though, to being the only child of only-children parents and having moved around so much was the lack of really good friends. Not that she didn't have friends but they were scattered far and wide and when her parents died she hadn't been in Brisbane long enough to make the kind of friends one could really confide in.
The house itself was comfortable although her father had had great plans to renovate it. It also had lovely views down to the foreshore and out over Moreton Bay to its twin guardians of Moreton and North Stradbroke Islands. And it had a garden Maisie loved pottering about in--she'd inherited her mother's green fingers plus a cooking gene from her father.
She made herself a snack and a cup of tea. She took them to the veranda, determined to hammer out her new resolution, but the view captured her for a few minutes as she watched the forest of masts in Manly Harbour, one of which belonged to her parents' yacht, the Amelie, still moored in the Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron marina.
Then she looked out over the bay and the setting sun was laying a living carnation pink with misty violet shadows on the steely-still waters, and it was all so lovely it brought tears to her eyes.
She dashed them away impatiently and remembered her resolve in the taxi. No more tears and, somehow, she would track Rafael Sanderson down.