His Outback Nanny(4)

By: Annie Seaton

“Why?” Liam frowned. “Surely that won’t affect your chances of getting the job?”

“I guess it’s a confidence thing. I wanted to slip into the school quietly, get the job, and just be Miss Smythe, the new teacher.” She held out her hand for the newspaper, and Liam passed it back to her, and she read it again. “What credibility is a ‘famous international catwalk glider’”—she shuddered—“going to have in the classroom or with the parents at Spring Downs Public School?”

“You’re a local girl made good, Jem. The kids—and parents—will love you.”

She grimaced. “I am. This is where I grew up, and this is where I want to be. But the first step is getting the job before I can show them anything. And then I can focus on showing them I’m a hometown girl.”

“I wonder who gave the information to the local paper?” Liam crossed to the door and held it open for Garth as he came in loaded with pizzas on one arm and a drinks cooler in the other. Lucy was close behind him, with baby James on her hip. “It wasn’t me.”

“I saw the front page of the paper when I was in town this morning,” Lucy said. “Everyone was talking about it in the grocery store. I was surprised to see it, Jemmy.” Lucy put the baby on the soft rug on the floor, and he gurgled contentedly. “Did the paper interview you?”

“No. I’ve got no idea who gave all that guff to the paper. A catwalk glider, for goodness sake!” Jemima shook her head. “And listen to this. They make me sound as though I’ve been living the high life. ‘New York, Monte Carlo, Paris…our local town has a celebrity in its midst.’ And I’ve never even been to Paris!”

Lucy walked over to the oven. “So who else knew you were in the fashion industry?”

“One of the librarians at the town library asked me what I’d done in Sydney the other day, but—”

“Well, there’s your answer then. Maisey Sykes is the biggest gossip in town.” Lucy unwrapped the pizzas that Garth had carried in and put them into the large gas oven.

“I suppose it’ll be a ten-minute wonder, but I so wish it hadn’t been before my interview on Monday.”

“Oh, cool! You got an interview?” Lucy walked over and hugged Jemima as the guys headed out to the verandah. “You’ll be fine, Jemmy. A whole new career for you. I’m so happy you’ve moved back home for good. All we need now is for Seb to return—and stay!”

“Whoever would have thought?” Jemima smiled and nodded to the driveway. “Speaking of love, here’s Angie.” They both watched as Liam hurried out to greet her. He swooped her in a hug, and Lucy smiled. “Ain’t love grand!”

“If that’s what you want out of life.” Jemima kept her voice light; just because her love life was nonexistent didn’t mean she couldn’t be happy for her brother.

Lucy pulled a bottle of champagne from the cooler that Garth had carried in as Liam held the screen door open for Angie. “Hi, Angie. Perfect timing. Let’s toast a new career. Miss Smythe, soon to be the best school teacher in Spring Downs. Good luck, Jemmy!”

Jemima and Lucy giggled at the surprised look on Angie’s face.

Chapter Two

Ned McCormack tripped over the two school bags sitting plum bang in the middle of the hallway as he raced towards the kitchen. The smell of burning toast filled the old farmhouse, and smoke billowed from the toaster to the ceiling. Four-year-old Ryan was sitting at the table banging his car on the tabletop. Next to him, an iPad was churning out nursery rhymes at full volume.

“Kelsey? Gwennie? Who’s watching the toast?” Ned yelled as he stopped at the kitchen door. As he spoke, the smoke alarm in the kitchen came on, and the high-pitched squealing covered his son’s muffled reply.

“What?” Ned grabbed a tea towel and flicked it at the alarm until it finally stopped.

Ryan stopped banging his car on the table just long enough to answer his father. “Kelsey put the toast in, and then she ran outside. ’Cause Gwennie’s in the shed, and she screamed for us to come see.”

“God, what now? Come see what?” Although Ned was well used to his drama queen daughter and her screams.

“Rosie’s got her kittens.” Bang, bang, bang.

Ned took a deep breath and crossed to the back door. He stood and concentrated on keeping his voice pleasant as he called across the yard. “Kelsey, Gwennie. Come and have breakfast, please. You’ve got ten minutes before I drive you to school.”

There was no way he would let them catch the school bus on their first day at a new school. Even though Kelsey had stood there last night, hands on hips—just like Cathy used to stand—and insisted that she could look after Gwennie. Even though it meant he had to drive into town twice today, the afternoon trip to town was the important one. The appointment with the bank manager was crucial. And that’s what had been doing his head in.