Sienna Torrance is used to helping people get back on their feet. But she's finding rugged billionaire Finn McLeod an impossible patient! Spending every day with him is confusing for Sienna--not least because of the searing attraction that flares up between them. Nevertheless, Sienna's amazed when Finn proposes! How could someone so powerful and charismatic want her--an inexperienced little mouse--as his bride?
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September 08, 2008
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Excerpt from The Cattle Baron's Virgin Wife by Lindsay Armstrong
Sienna Torrance packed her bag and prepared to farewell her patient for another day but Finn McLeod had other ideas.
He watched her out of dark blue moody eyes.
They both wore skin-tight stretch track suits and they were both drenched in sweat. But whereas she bent to zip her bag and straightened to wring out her honeycoloured pony-tail with lithe movements that showed off a compact, leggy figure with delicious hips, he was confined to his wheel chair.
That wasn't entirely true. On his better days, since a car accident had seriously injured his left leg, he could get about with a walking stick. But Sienna, his physiotherapist, always insisted he use the chair after a session with him. She even made a practice of ceremonially wheeling him out of his private gym back to the house and handing him over to Dave, his nurse, although the chair was motorized.
Not, for that matter, that he needed a nurse now, but Dave was also a trained masseur and he doubled as his valet and driver.
'Come in and have a drink,' he said abruptly as she started to push him.
'Oh, no, thanks, Finn, I do need to be off,' she replied--she had a fascinating, rather husky voice.
'Where to? Another patient? It's nearly six o'clock. A boyfriend?'
Sienna hesitated. 'No, but it's been a long day.'
'Or do you have something against fraternizing with me?'
Sienna grimaced as she manoeuvred the chair down a ramp and outside to a path that ran between thick, rich green lawns and riotously colourful flower beds. There were bees humming, birds calling and butterflies hovering.
It would be hard to find a lovelier property than hilltop Eastwood, she thought as they approached the main house. It followed the Queensland tradition of wide, covered verandas, steep roofs and double outside doors to capture the breeze, but rather than being wooden it was built of honey-coloured sandstone with a sage-green roof. It also had marvellous views down to the Brisbane River.
'I don't fraternize with patients,' she said carefully. 'Nothing personal!' she added on an upward beat. 'I'm also a working girl with a million things to do.'
'If you don't come in for a drink and a chat,' he said ominously, 'I'll put this chair on auto and drive myself into the river.'
Sienna stopped pushing and slammed a brake on. 'Finn,' she said quietly, however, after taking a deep breath, 'don't be silly. Look, I know how frustrating this must be. But you've done so well, I'm full of admiration for you! And the end is in sight now.'
It was true, she did admire Finn McLeod for his pain-filled perseverance towards regaining his mobility after the tragic accident that had claimed the life of his fianc�e.
She'd rarely seen such will-power, and she had seen him often with his knuckles white and his teeth almost driven through his bottom lip as he'd doggedly pursued his rehabilitation.
She'd also acknowledged that through all this, he was still dynamically attractive even when he could be cutting and moody. Not that, for professional reasons, she'd ever allowed herself to dwell on it. Anyway, she regarded herself as fireproof when it came to men.
'Silly?' he reflected. 'I've got a business proposition to put to you, Ms Torrance, so I don't see anything silly about it at all.'
Sienna stared down at the top of his head. His thick dark hair was tousled and damp. She frowned. 'What kind of a business proposition could there possibly be between us?'
'You're going to have to wheel me on to find out.'
Sienna clicked her tongue in annoyance. She was used to humouring men, she often turned down outrageous propositions with a kind but funny retort, but it was the last thing she'd expected from Finn McLeod. What else could it be, though?
'Tell me now, Finn, then I'll be the judge of whether I have a drink with you or not,' she said coolly.
She saw his shoulders lift as if he was laughing inwardly.
Some minutes later, she was sitting on the veranda with a soft drink in a tall glass in front of her and he had his longed-for beer. There was a silver dish of olives and nuts on the table between them.
The drinks had been served by a middle-aged man he'd introduced as Walt the butler. They were now alone.
'Let me get this straight,' Sienna said. 'You want me to come out west with you so we can continue your treatment on a--on a cattle station?'She blinked several times, she had grey eyes and naturally dark lashes.
'Yep.' Finn McLeod sipped his beer.
'But why do you need to bury yourself--' she broke off and bit her lip because he hadn't that long ago buried his fianc�e, '--uh--need to be on a cattle station out west anyway?'
He eyed her, then looked around. 'I'm going crazy up here. I need a change of scene. I was born out there and I like it.'
'Has it occurred to you that I only spend a couple of hours a day with you? That I might go insane on a cattle station for weeks on end? Or, that you most probably don't have any of the equipment needed? Not only that but you'll be away from your doctor.'
He shrugged. 'I've got his go-ahead and I can fly him out if necessary. Ditto all the equipment--there's already a gym and there's a pool.'