She was wearing white, for crying out loud.
Jack Lewis grimaced as the elegant figure descended from the tiny plane while
clouds of red dust slowly settled on the airstrip. The same red dust covered
his ute, his riding boots, and practically everything else in the Outback, and
yet Senator Elizabeth Green had chosen to arrive on Savannah cattle station
dressed from head to toe in blinding, laundry commercial white.
Her elegant sandals were white, her crisply ironed trousers, her matching
linen top and even her floppy brimmed hat. The only non-white items were her
accessories – swanky dark glasses and a pale green leather shoulder bag that
clearly held a laptop.
Where did she think she’d flown to? The flaming Italian Riviera?
Jack muttered a soft oath, audible only to Cobber, the cattle dog at his
heels. ‘I suppose we’d better go and say g’day.’
Shrugging off an uncomfortable sense of martyrdom, Jack set out across the
stretch of dirt, moving with a deliberately easy amble, his faithful dog close
He was mad with himself for allowing his boss, an eighty year old widow, to
bully him into hosting this visitor. Kate Burton regularly tested Jack’s
patience by directing her business via long distance phone calls from her
top-price-tag retirement home in Melbourne.
‘I owe Lizzie a favour,’ Kate had told him breezily. ‘She won’t be any
trouble, Jack. She just wants to rest up and take in the country air, and she
needs to retreat from the public eye for a spell. You understand, don’t you?’
After a lifetime of getting her own way, Kate hadn’t given Jack the chance to
protest that no, he didn’t understand, that he was managing her cattle station
not a hotel, that the mustering season had started and he was planning to join
For her part, Kate made no attempt to explain why a high profile senator, the
darling of the Canberra media, was suddenly diving for cover in distant North
Kate had left Jack with no choice but to send out the mustering team while he
remained behind at the homestead. This morning he’d dutifully rounded up the
horses grazing in this paddock, and he’d flattened the anthills that had
popped up on the airstrip since the last time a light plane had landed here.
Now, as he approached his guest, she straightened her shoulders and lifted her
chin – her very neat and determined chin.
Her shady white hat and dark glasses hid the top half of her face, but Jack
sensed her surprise, as if he wasn’t quite what she’d expected.
He was having the same problem – madly readjusting his assumptions. Up close,
Senator Elizabeth Green was a bombshell.
He’d seen photos of her in newspapers, of course, and he was aware of her
classic Italian good looks, but he’d expected the real life version to be
closer to Iron Maiden than Sophia Loren. Surely this woman was too soft and
sensuous to be a federal politician?
Jack could see curves beneath her crisp white linen clothes – old fashioned,
Her dark hair was tucked up under her hat, but silky wisps had strayed onto
her nape, drawing his attention to her super-smooth, pale skin with a dusky
hint of the Mediterranean.
As for her mouth…
Whoa. Her mouth was wide and full and soft and sultry, quite possibly
the sexiest mouth Jack had ever met.
Her mouth moved. ‘Mr. Lewis?’
It took Jack a second or two to get his brain on the right track.
‘Good morning, Senator.’ He spoke a little too loudly. ‘Welcome to Savannah.’
He wondered if she was going to offer her hand. Her big hat and sunglasses hid
so much of her that he found it hard to pick up clues, but he sensed she was
still checking him out, trying to make as many correct assumptions as
When at last she offered her hand, it was cool and slim, her grip firm.
‘I have luggage.’ Despite the faint Italian accent, when the senator spoke,
she was Iron Maiden through and through.
Reassured that he knew what he was dealing with, Jack waved to the pilot.
‘I’ll get the luggage, Jim.’
In the hold, he found two large and perfectly matched green leather suitcases
– Louis Vuitton, of course – and a matching leather holdall
filled with books. When he hefted the strap over his shoulder, the books
weighed a ton.
‘I see you plan to do a little light reading,’ he said, offering her a grin.
The senator gave a slight shrug as if it was obvious that she’d have little
else to do out here except improve her mind.
Reducing his grin to a resigned smile, Jack waved to the pilot, then picked up
the suitcases. Hell, judging by the weight of them, she planned to move in to
Savannah for six months. Or longer. Kate Burton had been vague about the
length of this visitor’s stay.
‘We’d better get going before Jim takes off and creates another dust storm.’
Jack nodded in the direction of his parked ute. ‘The limousine’s this way.’
Again, Senator Green didn’t acknowledge Jack’s attempt at a joke. Instead, she
looked over at the vehicle covered in dust and then gazed slowly about her,
taking in the wide and empty red plains dotted sparsely with clumps of
grey-green grass, and at the sky, huge, blue and cloudless. Boundless.
A lone crow’s cry pierced the stillness. Ark, ark, ark!
Watching his guest closely, Jack saw her take a breath as if she were bracing
herself for an ordeal. He had no interest in her problems or why she’d come
here, yet to his dismay, he felt a faint pang of sympathy.
They set off for the ute and by the time they reached it – a matter of a sixty
metres or so – Senator Green’s sandals were filmed with red dust and a faint
red rim showed at the bottom of her pristine trousers.
Her mouth pursed with sour-lemon tightness as she watched Jack set her
glamorous luggage next to bales of fencing wire in the tray back of his
‘Hope you weren’t expecting anything too flash.’ He opened the passenger door,
saw dog hairs on the seat, and despite an urge to leave them there, swept the
seat clean with the brim of his Akubra hat.
‘Thank you,’ the senator said in a princess speaking to the footmen tone.
Jack wished he hadn’t bothered.
‘How far is it to the homestead?’ she asked.
‘Not far. A couple of kilometres.’
She nodded, but chose not to comment.
‘In the back, Cobber,’ Jack ordered, and his dog obediently jumped up beside
the pale green luggage. ‘And you’d better fasten your seatbelt,’ he told his
passenger as he swung into the driver’s seat. ‘It’s bound to be a bumpy ride.’
By: Barbara Hannay
Mills and Boon Romance
ISBN: 978 0 263 20830-6
Copyright: © Barbara Hannay
® and ™ are trademarks of the publisher. The edition published by arrangement
with Harlequin Books S.A. For more romance information surf to: http://www.eHarlequin.com