Nobody but Him

By: Victoria Purman



His breath was heavy, his face just a whisper from hers. He spoke low and rough.

‘What say we just stay as far away from each other as possible.’

The wind teased her hair, blowing a strand across his cheek. It snagged on his stubbled jaw, connecting them. She couldn’t move, didn’t want to.

‘Let’s pretend we don’t even know each other,’ she murmured, her eyes wandering the face that was once so familiar to her. Her fingers, with a will of their own, reached up to trace the scar on his check before settling on his lips, parted slightly, pale from the cold. He moved closer still and leaned in.

He was going to kiss her. And boy did she want him to. She wanted to feel his hard body up against her, needed to have his hands tugging her hair, burned for his lips on hers.

But he suddenly stopped, let go of her as if she’d turned into a burning match. He took a step back and pushed a hand through his windblown hair.

‘We shouldn’t have any trouble with that. We don’t know each other, Julia. Not anymore.’ With a few quick strides, he jumped the small brick fence that separated Julia’s front yard with the glass mansion next door.

Ry fished around in a pocket and Julia couldn’t believe her eyes when he jammed a key in the front door of the ugliest house in Middle Point.

‘Don’t tell me …’ Her voice trailed off in the wind, her nerves too frazzled to do anything else but stare open-mouthed at what she was seeing. Ry turned, a flash of fury in his dark eyes.

‘Yeah,’ he spat. ‘I own this too.’

And he slammed the door.





CHAPTER

4


What say we just stay as far away from each other as possible. Julia screwed up her face at the memory of her ill-tempered outburst and stared out to the distant horizon. The water was a light grey, harmonising with the sky above, and great puffs of white clouds decorated the atmosphere to the horizon and beyond. She tightened her black pashmina around her neck while she waited for Lizzie to bring two steaming mugs of coffee out onto the deck. Lizzie lived a couple of blocks back from the beach on a rise behind the coast, so although she wasn’t beachfront, she still had spectacular views.

It was such a serene outlook, but Julia was pent up like a taut rubber band. She couldn’t believe she’d lost her cool with Ry. She made a living out of maintaining her calm when people all around her were losing their heads. What was it all around him that made her so crazy and ill-disciplined? And why was it that certain parts of her body didn’t seem to agree with her decisive plan to stay away from Ry Blackburn? Certain parts of her body were still thrumming with sensation, hours after their confrontation on her front doorstep.

So he wanted to pretend they’d never met. That would be for the best. With the past erased, the boundaries for the present became very clear. Boundaries that she would respect. Especially the one about putting your hands on someone else’s husband. Pity he didn’t have as much respect for his wife. Mind you, if she was shackled to The Princess she might act like she regretted it too. No, she could make sure they stayed as far away from each other as possible. Easy. That firmness of mind would make it so much easier to do what she had to do and head back to Melbourne as planned.

Lizzie emerged with the coffee on a small bamboo tray and closed the sliding glass door behind her with a clever backside manoeuvre. Julia reached out for a mug and Lizzie sat down opposite her in a deep wicker chair, took a sip and regarded her friend with a beaming smile.

‘Jools, have I told you how nice it is to have you home?’

Julia nodded, breathed deep and tried not to let the tears well up in her eyes. She was still riding the crazy emotional wave of her encounter with Ry and the tears came from nowhere fast.

‘Oh Jools.’ Lizzie reached over to hold her hand, ‘I know the circumstances are crappy. Beyond crappy, even. I’m here to help you with whatever you need, you know that.’

‘I know it and I’m grateful.’

‘Good. And now that you are fully caffeinated, relaxed and grateful, spill your guts sister. What is the deal with you and my boss?’

Julia turned away from Lizzie, staring out to the sweeping views. She knew she owed her friend an explanation. At least, half an explanation.

‘Remember when you took off to London after we finished high school? I’d just had my eighteenth birthday and I was here all on my lonesome that summer before I went to Melbourne for uni?’

‘I still haven’t forgiven you for not coming with me.’

‘Well, when you were chasing all those pale-skinned English boys, I met Ry, here in Middle Point.’

Lizzie’s mouth dropped open in shock. ‘You. Are. Kidding. Me.’

‘Not kidding. He was fresh out of uni, one of those rich city boys pretending to be a beach bum for the summer before the family firm snatched him up.’

‘And by ‘met’ you mean … ?’

Julia nodded. ‘Yes. With your boss. Well, he wasn’t your boss then, obviously. Your future boss.’

‘Ooh, an older man. Lucky you. Not that he’s my type.’ Lizzie winked. ‘Too blonde.’

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