Her Outback Surprise(6)

By: Annie Seaton

“Smythe. Liam Smythe from Prickle Creek Farm.” Cissy frowned at her. “Are you sure you’re okay? You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”

No! Liam Smythe was in London. He couldn’t be here in Spring Downs. He was not Liam Smythe of Prickle Creek Farm.

But he was. He was sitting out there in the bloody waiting room. Panic, joy, hope, and despair marched through her until Angie couldn’t think straight. She took a deep breath and tried to inject some calm into her voice. The way Cissy was looking at her gave her the push she needed to calm down. Cissy would be calling the men in white coats to cart her away if she carried on any more.

“Yes. Yes, I’m fine,” she said as she leaned over to look through the door again.

This time her heart skittered up a dozen extra beats. Her ears buzzed and her mouth dried.

It was Liam. Just like Cissy had said.

Now Judy’s voice pulled her out of her thoughts. “Thanks, Angie. We’ll see you when he’s due for his next vaccination.”

Angie stood back as Judy led Brutus to the door, closely followed by Lily. “Give me a call if you have any concerns.”

“We will. Thanks, Angie.”

The door closed behind them and Angie hurried across to the sink. The moment couldn’t be put off any longer. She stared at herself in the small mirror. Her normally fair cheeks held a high flush and her blue eyes were shadowed. She reached a shaking hand up to her hair and tucked the stray blond curls behind her ears.

Deep breaths. Total composure. Deal with this like an adult, not like a moonstruck teenager. She welcomed the anger that was firing in her chest. If she was cross, she could deal with Liam Bloody Smythe firmly and calmly.

The man who had broken her heart when he’d let her leave England without him. The man who wouldn’t leave his precious newspaper career and come back to Australia with her.

Translation: he hadn’t loved her as much as she’d loved him.

What the hell is Liam doing here in the Pilliga Scrub?

The door opened and Cissy poked her head around, a frown wrinkling her brow. “Are you ready for Liam and the pup?”

Angie turned to Cissy with a huge fake smile. “Absolutely, let’s get him through quickly so we can get home. It’s way past time we closed.”

Cissy’s eyes were wide. She stepped into the examination room. “Angie, what’s wrong? Are you getting sick? One minute you’re pale and now your cheeks are really flushed.” The older woman reached over and put her hand on her forehead. “Have you got a temperature? Maybe you’re coming down with the flu?”

“I’m fine. It’s just been a long day, and it’s really hot in this room. I’ll have to take a look at the air conditioner now that the weather’s warming up.” Angie injected confidence into her voice. “Send Mr. Smythe in. Then we can call it a day.”

The look Cissy flashed her dispelled any notion that she’d convinced the nurse she was calm. “Are you going to spill?”

“Okay.” Angie shook her head and sighed. In the two months since Angie had arrived at Spring Downs, Cissy had not only welcomed her and shown her around town, she’d also proven herself to be one of the best vet nurses she’d ever worked with. They were beginning to forge a friendship. “I know Liam Smythe from way back. It’s just rattled me a bit to see him out there.”

This time Cissy’s look was one of sympathy. “Oh, I get it. He is a looker.”

Angie nodded. “Yep, you got it. But I’ll be fine.” She rubbed her hands together and stood straight. “Send him in and I’ll cope. Let’s get this over and done with.”

“I have to,” she muttered beneath her breath after Cissy closed the door quietly. Angie moved to the middle of the room to stand by the stainless steel examination bench. Her breathing was deep and slow, and she let the anger build. At least she had the advantage of surprise. Well, she hoped she did. She doubted Liam would have waited out there so long if he’d known she was in the examination room.

No way, she thought. He would probably have run a mile. For the first time, Angie was glad that the signage around the veterinary practice still showed Rod Rogers as the veterinarian. Cissy had ordered the new signs saying Angie Edmonds, Veterinarian Surgeon but they hadn’t arrived yet.

The door opened and Angie inwardly congratulated herself as she looked up with a professional smile. For a brief moment, she had the advantage of looking at Liam before he saw her. He was struggling to hold the small pup with the shiny brown coat as he muttered beneath his breath. A grin tugged at her mouth when she noticed the wet patch on the thigh of his work trousers.