Her Outback Surprise(10)

By: Annie Seaton


Angie thought for a moment before she spoke. She’d already seen how gossip travelled in this small town, and she didn’t want the fact that she and Liam Smythe had been—had been what?—to get around.

Lovers? Live-ins? Almost engaged?

More like friends with benefits. She was the one who had read more into their relationship.

More fool me.

“Hi Helen. Um, I told Cissy I’d get a progress report on Lucy Mackenzie. She couldn’t come in and I said I’d swing by on my way home.” She crossed her fingers behind her back to make up for the little white lie.

Helen’s face settled into a sweet expression. “Why don’t you go and see for yourself? Lucy’s already back in the ward. Her family’s with her.”

“So no baby today?” God, she felt like she was a part of the family with all these personal questions.

“A sweet little boy. Seven pounds! Fastest labour we’ve had for a long time and a great weight for an early baby.”

“Oh, that’s lovely. I’ll let Cissy know everything is all right.”

The phone rang and Helen picked it up. Angie gave her a wave as she turned for the door.

“Angie. Wait!”

She closed her eyes as Liam’s voice reached her from the end of the corridor leading to the wards. Reluctantly, she stopped and waited for him to catch up.

“Did you come to make sure I didn’t dump the dog on you?” Liam reached for her arm but Angie pulled away and headed for the main door. He followed her as she opened the door and stepped out into the car park.

“No. I didn’t. I knew you’d come back.” Truth be known, she just couldn’t stay away from him, and disgust at her weakness curled in her stomach.

“So what did you want?” Liam’s eyes were shadowed in the dim light. Angie rummaged for her keys in her deep handbag; it was hard to see in the quickly fading light.

God, she was losing it. Her car wasn’t here. It was parked in her driveway where she left it every morning because she walked to work. The sun had slipped behind the horizon and the sky was almost dark. A lone white cockatoo flew over, its raucous squawk breaking the silence.

“I wanted to make sure Lucy was okay. And you seemed so worried before about Willow.”

God, that sounded weak. It would have been the last thing on his mind.

“Worried?” Liam stopped and gently took her arm.

Angie’s voice was quiet as she lifted her eyes to those deep green ones that she had once loved so much. “I came to tell you Willow—the dog—is okay. If you want, you can take her home tonight. I thought it might save you a trip back into town tomorrow. Cissy told me you live out at Prickle Creek at your grandparents’ farm.” She said the words as a statement and kept any sign of a question from her tone.

Liam ran his hand through his hair. “Ange?”

“What?” The diminutive of her name from his lips sent a shaft of longing through her, but she pushed it away.

“Look, this is crazy. Let’s go and grab a drink or a meal or something. I’m starving.”

“I…can’t.”

His gaze narrowed. “Don’t tell me your new man expects you to cook his dinner. You never cooked for me.”

“Don’t be an arse, Liam.”

“I’m sorry. Seeing you here has thrown me.”

You and me both, boyo. But his words, no matter how cutting, had given her a lifeline.

“No, I don’t have to cook because”—Angie tried to remember the name of Jenny’s boyfriend that week, the guy who had answered the phone the last time Liam had rung.

Greg? Gavin? Gareth? Grant?

That was it. Hugh! She remembered how much Liam disliked the actor Hugh Grant in that last movie they’d watched together, and she’d smiled as Hugh had chatted to him that night. If she’d known Liam was going to make such a huge assumption, she would have taken the phone from him sooner.

“Hugh doesn’t live here. I don’t have to cook for anybody. In fact, Hugh is not—”

“So come and have dinner with me. I’d like to catch up with your news.” His face lit up in that old familiar smile and Angie knew she was in trouble. Any thought of explaining about Hugh fled as she stared at Liam.

Deep trouble. Black-haired, green-eyed trouble.

“And I’ll show you a picture of my brand new nephew. I’m sure your Hugh won’t mind old friends catching up.” Liam’s eyes crinkled and she was a goner. Back to where she’d been eighteen months ago.

She tried to recall the feelings that had held her numb when she’d said good-bye to Liam in their small flat in Notting Hill. Her flight from Heathrow back to Sydney was departing late at night, and she’d insisted that he not take the night off to take her to the airport. Instead, they’d said good-bye on the small porch as she’d waited for the taxi. Two years of living together, sharing their lives, and they had talked about the bloody weather. He didn’t love her and she had to accept that.

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