His Outback Nanny(3)

By: Annie Seaton

Lucy reached out and squeezed her hand. “I’m sorry, love. I’m so happy. I get caught up in my little world with Garth and James, and I don’t think of others. I so hope it works out for you.”

“Oh, Lucy. I’m going to love it. It means so much more to me than being a clothes horse. Going from city to city, having makeup plastered all over my face became so hard towards the end. I hated it. Even in New York, where everyone wants to work. I’m so happy to be home in Spring Downs. But I need to make my own way and find somewhere else to live.”

“What did Liam say about you teaching?”

To everyone’s astonishment, once his six months had been up, Liam had decided to stay at the farm. He was also involved with an alliance that was fighting the introduction of coal seam gas and doing some casual reporting for the local Spring Downs paper. Liam had also reunited with his former lover, Angie, the local veterinarian in town.

Jemima was now living with Liam, and he’d done nothing but complain about her cooking since she’d arrived.

“I haven’t told him or Angie yet. I didn’t want to jinx my chances, telling too many others. But you know, that’s the reason I need to do something. I’m happy for them, but I feel like a third wheel here. Once their house is built, it’ll be better, but I know when they head off into town some nights, it’s because they want some privacy. Once I get the job at the school—and I’m trying to be positive—I’ll find somewhere to live in town.” She’d giggled. “Liam certainly won’t miss my cooking.”

“That’s for sure, love.” Lucy had laughed along with her. “You certainly missed out on Gran’s cooking gene.”

When Jemima was almost back to the farmhouse, she glanced at the newspaper, and her buoyant mood deflated in an instant.

“Oh no.” She groaned as she read the lead article on the front page. Who the heck talked to the paper?

As she scanned the text below, her mood worsened. Not only was the content incorrect, they had spelled her name wrong.

Jennina Smythe! She walked heavily up the front steps as she read. From the New York Catwalk to the Country.

Everyone in Spring Downs would know her business by nightfall. Just what I don’t need. She hoped the principal of the primary school didn’t read the paper this week.

Liam didn’t look impressed when Jemima fronted him with the newspaper as soon as he walked in from the paddock.

“Are you responsible for this?” She knew her voice was shrill, but damn it, she was still angry.

He raised his hands and stared back at her. “At least let a man have a shower and clean up before you’re into him. And I have no idea what you’re on about.”

“This.” She shook the paper at him, and he took it from her. He held it up and read the headline, and a smile tipped her brother’s lips. At least Jemima was sure she saw one before he answered.

“Don’t go blaming me. I didn’t tell them a thing.”

“You work there.” Her voice was full of accusation.

“I am a casual journalist, on staff, submitting occasional political articles about coal seam gas mining in the district. Why the heck would I want to write an article about you?” Liam chuckled and held up the paper. “And the proof is there. I think I can spell my little sister’s name properly.”

“I’m cross.” Jemima pouted.

“I can see that.” Liam crossed to the window and looked up the driveway. “I hope Garth and Lucy aren’t too much longer. I’m starving.”

Jemima went into the kitchen, turned the oven on for the pizzas, and bit her lip. She was still angry about the stupid article. She opened the dresser and took out a tablecloth, ready to set the table.

“So what’s so bad about being in the local paper?” Liam asked.

“I was going to tell you tonight when Lucy and Garth were here, but I might as well tell you now.”

“So spill,” Liam said with a curious glance at her.

“I’ve got a job interview.” Jemima shook the tablecloth and spread it over the old wooden table in the centre of the kitchen. “The farm’s under control. You and Angie need some space. You’ve hired a cook to look after the contractors this year, which means I’m certainly not needed here.”

“So where’s the job? Back in Sydney?” Liam asked.

“No. At the primary school in town.”

“You finished your teaching degree?” Liam ran his hand through his hair.

“I did. And now I’m worried about this stupid article.” Jemima crossed to the sink. She watched as Garth drove through the gate and brought the SUV to a stop. Lucy spotted her at the window and waved.