Her Outback Surprise(7)

By: Annie Seaton


When Liam looked up at her, the expression on his face almost made her laugh aloud. It helped the calm flow through her.

I can do this.

Liam’s mouth opened and closed like a goldfish and his eyes widened. Angie looked down as he almost dropped the puppy onto the examination table. She was careful to avoid brushing his hand when she reached out and moved the small brown dog closer to her.

Finally she looked up and her voice was dry and steady. “Close your mouth, Liam. You look like you’re catching flies.” The smile on her face was making her cheeks ache.

“Angie?” His voice came out in a squeak, like a teenage boy. He cleared his throat and the second time he spoke it, her name came out in the deep tones that had once sent delicious shivers down her back. In the heady days when they’d spent more time in bed together than out of it. In the days when things had been fine and she’d been foolish enough to think it would last forever.

Nothing lasted forever. She’d known that since she was a child but she’d let herself forget it. Time to remind herself.

“Angie?”

“Yes, I’m Angie. That’s my name.” Her voice was calm. “You haven’t forgotten me then?”

“Of course I haven’t forgotten you! What the hell are you doing here? You’re supposed to be in Melbourne.” Liam ran his hand through his hair, and Angie took a good look at him. His hair had grown and the slight curls hung over the collar of his khaki work shirt. A work shirt tinged with red dust. She let her gaze travel down stained—and damp—work trousers and settled on a pair of scuffed Blundstones.

“I’m about to examine your dog. And no, I’m not in Melbourne. What’s her name?” Angie leaned down and caressed the ears of the small pup, her professional eye taking in the back leg that the pup was protecting.

“Um…Willow. Yeah, Willow will do. She was in a culvert near some willow trees.”

“Willow will do?” She glanced up at him from under her lashes as she held the pup still. “Not the sort of dog I would have picked for you, Liam. In fact, I wouldn’t have picked any pet for you.” The room was deathly silent for a few minutes until the pup gave a short squeak as Angie probed gently along her leg. “I’ll x-ray it, but I don’t think it’s broken.”

She sensed rather than saw the moment Liam regained his composure. He leaned forward and she stared back as his eyes held hers.

“I asked what the hell you’re doing here in Spring Downs.” His voice was terse.

“I heard your question. You can see what I’m doing. As I told you already, I am examining your dog. That’s what vets do.” She spoke slowly, as though he were a child. “You know? You have a sick animal, you bring it to the vet, and we fix it.” This time she stared at him. “I’m the vet at Spring Downs. This is my practice.” It gave her great pleasure to say those words. She stood straighter and held her head high. She’d worked hard to get to this point. The extra hours of work that had helped her cope with the loneliness when she’d come back alone to Australia had also helped her save enough for a deposit to buy the practice. On top of what Mum had left for her.

“But I thought Rod Rogers was the vet here. He has been since he finished uni.” Liam stared back. Angie tried to ignore the pull of the dark green eyes that she’d always thought looked a bit Irish. The whole Liam package had attracted her that first night in the pub at Euston. Funny, the things you remembered at the most unexpected moments. The Prince of Wales Feathers pub, that’s where she’d met him. The girls had dragged her out on a pub crawl. A hen’s night for the receptionist at the practice she’d worked at when she’d first arrived in London. She’d been reluctant to go out, but they’d persuaded her, said that she had to experience London by night.

Angie could close her eyes and still remember how she’d compared the small beer garden on the top of the old building in the inner suburbs of London with an Aussie pub. Dirty brickwork with exposed electrical connections running above the door. Weatherworn, chipped furniture crammed into the small outdoor space, and a cold London breeze that carried in the constant noise of the Friday night traffic. But the atmosphere—warm beer and all—had been great fun and she’d soon begun to enjoy herself.

And then Angie had looked up to meet cheeky eyes that were blatantly checking her out. Gorgeous deep green eyes surrounded by long lashes, high cheekbones that gave him a fey look, and lips that were too lush for a guy. Lips that drew the eye once you could look away from the depths of his gaze. Jet-black hair, fair skin; Liam was brash, confident, and beautiful. She’d fallen hard. And fast.

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