An only child, Shanni Jefferson doesn't do family. But temporarily homeless and jobless, she jumps at the offer of a live-in nannying position. How hard can it be to look after one little baby?
Pierce MacLachlan has been economical with the truth--instead of one child, there are five! He's out of his depth with the unruly yet lovable brood....
But every night, once the children are all safely tucked in bed, Shanni wonders whether family life-- with gorgeous Pierce--might suit her after all....
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August 07, 2007
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Excerpt from His Miracle Bride by Marion Lennox
She'd psyched herself for farm terrors--but not for this.
Shanni steered her car onto the verge, but she didn't drive in the gate. No way.
Shanni wasn't a farm girl--in fact her best friend had burst out laughing when she'd divulged her destination. But Jules had grown up on a farm, so she'd talked Shanni through what she might face.
"Cows will ignore you as long as you don't interfere with their calves. Calves are curious but harmless, and most modern farms employ test tubes instead of bulls. Check if a cow has a dangly bit, and if it does don't go near it. Horses... Big doesn't mean scary. Say boo to a horse and it'll take itself off. Most farm dogs are all bluster. Look them in the eye and shout "sit." Oh, and watch for cow pats. They're murder on stilettos."
So she'd left her stilettos at Jules's chic Sydney bedsit. She'd rehearsed her "sit' command and she was ready for anything.
Anything but this.
There were kids sitting on the gate. Multiple kids. One, two, three, four.
They were watching her. Well, why wouldn't they? Shanni's car might well be the only car along here in a week. The meandering gravel track followed a creek that came straight from the snow melt. Distant mountains were capped with snow, even though spring was well under way. Undulating paddocks were dotted with vast red gums. The beauty of New South Wales's high country was world renowned.
The cows looked safely enclosed in paddocks. She couldn't see a horse or a dog. What she saw was far more terrifying. Girl, boy, boy, girl, she decided, running down their ranks. Matching grubby jeans, T-shirts, sensible boots.
Siblings? Maybe, though there was a redhead, a blonde and two brunettes.
Forget the hair. They were sitting on the gate of the farm where she'd agreed to work.
She'd stuck her Aunty Ruby's letter on the dashboard so she could read the directions. Ignoring the kids--who were clearly waiting for her to do something--she reread it now, holding it like she was handling a scorpion.
Aunty Ruby's letter read like she talked--so fast she hardly paused for breath.
Pierce won't let me help him. He was always the sweetest boy. I'm sure you thought so, too, and he's had such a bad time. And now this. His wife died six months ago. His wife! He didn't even tell me he was getting married, that's how much he doesn't want to bother me, and now she's dead. And the boys are worrying about him. They say he's falling behind in his work. He's cutting corners, the boys say, and there's a huge contract he's risking losing. Mind, I think losing a wife makes any other loss irrelevant, but the boys won't talk about that. No one will. They treat me as if I'm ancient, not to be bothered.
Anyway dear, I know Michael broke your heart--at least your mother said he did though how you can love a man with a ponytail...but worse, you've lost your sweet little London gallery. If you were thinking about coming home... Could you bear to help with a baby for a few weeks until Pierce gets this contract sorted? He's been looking for a housekeeper but the boys say he's having trouble. I could go...but of course they won't let me.
Ruby's frustration sounded through the letter. Beloved Ruby, who'd spent her life helping others, was being held at arm's length by her foster sons, but she could no sooner resist sticking in her oar than she could breathe.
If she couldn't help, then she was sure that Shanni could. And Shanni just might.
Housekeeper to a sort-of-cousin and his motherless baby? On a farm on the other side of the world from her life in London? In the normal scheme of things, she'd laugh at the suggestion.
But this was Pierce MacLachlan...
Pierce was one of Ruby's many foster kids. At any family celebration, there'd always been three or four of Ruby's waifs.
There were three things affecting Shanni's decision to help him. Number one was sympathy. She did remember Pierce. Twenty years ago, Pierce had been fifteen to her almost ten. She'd met him at her Uncle Eric's wedding and she'd been shocked. Ruby had just taken him in--"for the fourth time," she'd told Shanni's mother. He'd looked far too skinny, far too tall for his clothes, far too...desolate.
And now he'd lost his wife. That was awful.
Shanni was a soft touch.
And, okay, admit it. Twenty years ago she'd thought Pierce had the makings of...gorgeous. Her hormones had just been waking up. Pierce was a tall, dark and mysterious fifteen-year-old, all angular bones and shadows. In truth he'd probably just been excruciatingly shy and malnourished, but he'd run rings round the rest of her rowdy cousins. So added to sympathy was...lust?
Yeah, right. She was a big girl now. Pierce was probably a five-feet-two midget with a pot belly. And she was supposed to be broken hearted.