His Outback Nanny(2)

By: Annie Seaton


“It does. I feel about eighteen again. Prickle Creek Farm,” Liam read the words on the sign before he turned to her. “Why did you stop?”

“Because I need confidence and war paint.”

He huffed an impatient sigh when she reached for the makeup bag on the floor of the backseat and proceeded to make up her face before brushing her long blond hair and putting it up with a clip. She finished off with a bright red lipstick and a light spray of perfume.

“Gawd, Jemmy. I’ll stink too. Give it a break.”

“Jemima, and it’s Chanel No 5.” She looked at him as she started the car again.

Liam shook his head. “Do women really think that stuff makes a man look twice?”

“Oh, button it, Liam.” Jemima took a deep breath. “If you want the truth, I’m nervous as hell about going home. I can hide behind it. Jemima Smythe, aloof model who doesn’t do emotion.”

Liam grinned at her. “Well, if you did, I think your face would crack with all that gunk on it.”

For that, he copped a punch on his upper arm.

“We’re not all as confident as you are. And don’t you even think about saying a word of that to Gran or Lucy,” Jemima said.

“Don’t worry, sis. We’re all in this together. Solidarity. Okay?”

Despite his teasing, Jemima knew her brother was also nervous about coming home. Why had they all jumped to Gran’s summons so readily? From all over the world? Maybe it was because she’d never asked them for anything before.

Maybe it was because they wanted a new start in life?

“Solidarity,” she murmured quietly.





Chapter One

Twelve months later

Jemima Smythe’s gaze was fixed on the red, dusty road as she walked down the long driveway to the mailbox. It was mid-January, and the brown snakes were active out here at Gran and Pop’s farm in the Pilliga Scrub, and Jemima couldn’t go off into a daydream. Keeping an eye out for movement in the tall grass was a must if you walked along the road in summer.

The sun was bright, and Jemima squinted as she opened the flap on the mailbox and pulled out the Prickle Creek Farm mailbag. There was a sheaf of letters, advertising brochures, and the local weekly paper. She took the newspaper and slipped it beneath her arm as she flipped through the letters.

It seemed almost a lifetime ago since she had received that phone call from Gran. After she’d collected Liam from the international airport in Sydney, they’d come home, and Gran had revealed that she wanted each of them to spend some time at Prickle Creek Farm. Her grandparents were considering selling the farm, but they wanted to give the grandchildren a chance to work it and see if any of their futures were here in the Pilliga Scrub. For eight months, Jemima had fulfilled her contractual obligations in New York at the Eileen Ford Agency, but her heart hadn’t been in it. She’d been home now for a couple of months, helping Liam—Gran and Pop had toured the UK and now were on a bus trip through Europe—and Jemima was ready to start a new job doing something she wanted to do, something that was worthwhile and she enjoyed.

Yes!

There was a letter in an official-looking envelope—from the school. Her hands were shaking, and Jemima pulled out the letter, her eyes scanning the words. She let out a loud whoop, startling a murder of crows high up in the trees above the gate. They flew away with a couple of loud and cranky ark ark calls.

She read the letter aloud as she walked along. Reading out loud made it seem so much more real.

“Dear Ms. Smythe, Please report to Spring Downs School office at 8.30 a.m. on Monday, 29th January to be interviewed for the position of kindergarten teacher.”

Yes! She had an interview! The first step towards getting her dream job was underway. Lucy had asked her about it when she’d come over with baby James a couple of days ago.

“Jemmy, I can’t understand you. You had a job that many girls dream about. You’ve got enough money saved to live off for years, a snazzy little sports car, and yet you want to go and work in a primary school?” Lucy had screwed her nose up in disgust or confusion. Jemima hadn’t been sure which.

“I do. It will be so satisfying. I’ll be making a difference. Helping the children to learn. Teaching them to grow into responsible citizens. In my hometown.”

Lucy had shaken her head. “And wiping runny noses, and putting Band-Aids on cut knees, separating fighting children. Not for me.”

“You’ve got your own little boy to love.” Jemima’s voice was soft. “I want someone to need me, Luce.”

Lucy had married Garth McKenzie from the farm next door, and their baby, James, was now three months old.