Josie was touched that her brothers had arranged a holiday for her--she certainly needed one. Only, the location isn't the lively resort she'd expected, but a rustic cabin in a beautiful but isolated Australian idyll....
Her only neighbor for miles is the taciturn, if incredibly attractive, Kent Black. Following a family tragedy, Kent cut himself off from the world. Josie can't help but be intrigued by this solitary man, and with her bubbly, warm personality, she's determined to pick away at the iron padlock around his heart.
There are no customer reviews available at this time. Would you like to write a review?
April 07, 2008
Number of Print Pages*
Adobe DRM EPUB
* Number of eBook pages may differ. Click here for more information.
Excerpt from The Loner's Guarded Heart by Michelle Douglas
Josie Peterson bent down and called her greeting into the half-open window before knocking on the door again.
No movement. No sound. Nothing.
Chewing her lip, she stepped back and surveyed the front of the cottage--weatherboard, neatly painted white. A serviceable grey-checked gingham curtain hung at the windows.
Grey? A sigh rose up through her. She was tired of grey. She wanted frills. And colour. She wanted fun and fanciful.
She could feel the grey try to settle over her shoulders.
She shook herself and swung away, took in the view about her. The paths were swept, the lawns were cared for, but there wasn't a single garden bed to soften the uniformity. Not even a pot plant. At the moment, Josie would kill for the sight of a single cheerful gerbera, let alone a whole row of them.
Six wooden cabins marched down the slope away from the cottage. Nothing moved. No signs of habitation greeted her. No cars, no towels drying on verandas, no pushbikes or cricket bats leant against the walls.
Fun and fanciful weren't the first descriptions that came to mind. The grass around the cabins, though, was green and clipped short. Someone took the trouble to maintain it all.
If only she could find that person.
Or people. She prayed for people.
The view spread before her was a glorious patchwork of golden grasses, khaki gum trees and a flash of silver river, all haloed and in soft focus from the late-afternoon sunshine. Josie had to fight back the absurd desire to cry.
What on earth had Marty and Frank been thinking?
You were the one who said you wanted some peace and quiet, she reminded herself, collapsing on the top step and propping her chin in her hands.
Yes, but there was peace and quiet and then there was this.
From the front veranda of the cottage, there wasn't another habitation in sight. She hid her face in her hands. Marty and Frank knew her well enough to know she hadn't meant this, didn't they?
Her insides clenched and she pulled her hands away. She didn't want the kind of peace and quiet that landed a person so far from civilisation they couldn't get a signal on their cell-phone.
She wanted people. She wanted to lie back, close her eyes and hear people laughing and living. She wanted to watch people laughing and living. She wanted--
Enough already! This was the one nice thing Marty and Frank had done for her in...
She tried to remember, but her mind went blank. OK, so maybe they weren't the most demonstrative of brothers, but sending her on holiday was a nice thing. Did she intend spoiling it with criticisms and rank ingratitude?
Some people would kill to be in her position. Lots of people would love to spend a month in the gorgeous Upper Hunter Valley of rural New South Wales with nothing to do.
She gazed about her wistfully. She wished all those people were lining the hills of this valley right now.
She dusted off her hands and pushed to her feet. She'd make the best of it. According to her map there was a town a few kilometres further on. She could drive in there whenever she wanted. She'd make friends. She was tired. That was all. It had taken too long to get here, which was probably why her landlord had given up on her.
She wondered what kind of people would live out here all on their own. Hopefully the kind of people who took a solitary soul under their wing, introduced them around and enthusiastically outlined all the local activities available. Hopefully they'd love a chat over a cup of tea and a biscuit.
Josie would provide the biscuits.
Impatience shifted through her. She rolled her shoulders, stamped her feet and gulped in a breath of late-afternoon air. She didn't recognise the dry, dusty scents she pulled into her lungs, so different from the humid, salt-laden air of Buchanan's Point on the coast, her home. Her stomach clenched up again at the unfamiliarity.
She didn't belong here.
'Nonsense.' She tried to laugh away the fanciful notion, but a great yearning for home welled inside her. The greyness settled more securely around her. She hastened down the three steps and back along the gravel path, hoping movement would give her thoughts new direction. She swung one way then another. She could check around the back, she supposed. Her landlord could be working in a...shed or vegetable plot or something.
In her hunger to clap eyes on a friendly face, Josie rushed around the side of the house to open the gate. Her fingers fumbled with the latch. Need ballooned inside her, a need for companionship, a need to connect with someone. The gate finally swung back to reveal a neat garden. Again, no flower beds or pots broke the austerity, but the lawn here too was clipped and short, the edges so precise they looked as if they'd been trimmed using a set square.