The sports car was very low,
very bright and shiny. Very red. It growled to a throbbing halt right in front
of Bella, and the driver killed the motor.
‘Morning, Bella.’ His
faintly amused gaze dropped to the overnight bag at her feet. ‘Are you going
Back in Willara after ten
Damon… with the same wild,
dark hair and brooding, bad boy looks she’d fallen in love with in high
No, not now. I can’t deal
with this now.
She had seen him many times
on TV, of course, in a flak jacket reporting from a war zone, or poised
precariously above raging floodwaters in South America, playing the ultimate
But it was a very different
matter seeing him again in the flesh, especially on this morning of all
Bella felt as if she’d been
snap-frozen. She couldn’t have smiled even if she’d wanted to, and she had to
swallow before she could speak.
‘Hello, Damon. I’ve come
straight from the hotel.’ Last night had been her hen’s night. ‘I’ve had a
call about my grandfather, Paddy.’
She nodded in the direction
of the sign for the Greenacres Retirement Home on the stone wall behind her.
Then, with businesslike briskness she picked up her bag, dismissing Damon
Cavello with a coolness that she hoped matched his. ‘Sorry I can’t chat. It’s
important family business.’
About to hurry inside, she
was dismayed to hear the driver’s door opening.
‘Hang on a minute,’ Damon
called as he got out.
With the flashy sports car
as a backdrop, he should have looked cocky or faintly comic, but he looked
Unfair. He was dressed in a
faded T black shirt and jeans, and in these clothes, with the added advantage
of darkly lashed, grey eyes, and rumpled dark hair, he was as disturbingly
sexy as ever.
‘I said I can’t talk, Damon.
I have to go. Paddy’s disappeared.’
‘Take it easy, Bella. I can
tell you what’s happened.’
Dumbfounded, she gaped at
He said, ‘Your grandfather
has run away with my grandmother.’
A wave of dizziness
threatened Bella. Her knees sagged. She really couldn’t deal with this now.
A mere hour ago her fiancé,
Kent, had left her hotel room with her diamond engagement ring in his pocket
and a new lightness in his step. Minutes later, she’d received a phone call
from Greenacres with the news that her grandfather had apparently disappeared.
She’d assumed the old
trickster was simply playing hooky. It had happened before. Any minute now
there’d be news that Paddy had been found at the Bowls Club, or on the banks
of Willara Creek, fishing. She’d never dreamed –
‘The Greenacres people rang
me an hour ago and I’ve been checking it out,’ Damon said. ‘From all accounts,
Paddy and Violet took off from here last night in Violet’s car.’
‘For heaven’s sake. A joy
‘I’ve spoken to the fellow
who runs the servo on the outskirts of town. He says they woke him up some
time past midnight and begged him to fill their tank. They told him it was an
emergency and they were heading north.’
‘An emergency?’ She frowned.
‘It’s not a joy ride then. How far north?’
‘That’s the burning
question. They could be heading anywhere up the coast, possibly all the way to
Cairns, and that’s at least two day’s drive. An elderly couple might take
longer. The guy at the servo reckons they were on some kind of mission, and
they were headed north-east, for the coast road.’
Bella rubbed at her brow as
she tried to take this in. ‘But – but that’s crazy. They’re too old to just
take off like that. They’re in their eighties for goodness sake. Paddy has a
‘And Violet has high blood
At this, she looked up, and
without warning, her gaze locked with Damon’s. For a fraught moment, she
forgot everything as she reconnected with the silvery grey gorgeousness of his
So many memories…
No. Heavens no, she mustn’t
start remembering now…
‘This is ridiculous,’ she
snapped, deliberately shifting her gaze and letting out an audible sigh. ‘It
would help if we could ring them, but Paddy doesn’t have a mobile phone. When
he moved into Greenacres, he said everyone knew where to find him – he didn’t
need a mobile.’
‘It was the same with
Violet. Last thing she wanted was her phone going off at the hairdressers or
in church. If people wanted her, they could wait till she got home.’
‘So… what can we do? Call
‘I don’t think there’s any
need to panic,’ Damon said carefully. ‘Actually, I’ve got it sorted.’
‘I’m going after them.’
‘Oh.’ Bella drew a deep
breath, let her gaze travel over the flashy red sports car. ‘In this?’ She
raised a critical eyebrow.
He almost smiled. ‘Yes,
Bella. In this. And yes, I know it’s a bright red phallic symbol, but it was
all the hire car agency in this tin pot town could offer me. And it’s fine.
It’s a hell of a lot faster than the car our grandparents are driving.’
Damon turned to leave.
Having dutifully informed her, he was clearly in a hurry to get going. ‘I’m
glad I saw you, but if I’m going to catch this pair, I should hit the road.’
She almost called, ‘Wait!’
This was all happening too quickly – yet another surprise in a very surprising
morning. But if she called Damon back, she wasn’t sure what she would say.
As if sensing her dilemma,
he looked back at her with a frown. ‘How did you get here? Do you have a car?’
She shook her head. ‘I came
straight from the hotel.’ All her friends, including her bridesmaid Zoe, were
back at the hotel sleeping off the hen’s party. ‘I was lucky enough to grab
Willara’s one and only taxi.’
‘Let me give you a lift
then.’ He said this politely, but without enthusiasm as if he was as cautious
and tense and she was. ‘Are you going back into town?’
‘Actually, I should go to
Blue Gums to see my father.’ She had to tell her dad about Paddy’s
disappearance as well as the news that she and Kent were no longer getting
married. She wasn’t looking forward to delivering either message.
‘I can drop you off. The
farm’s on the way out of town.’
Bella hesitated. Getting
into a sports car with Damon Cavello, her high school sweetheart, was too much
like a blast from the past.
It felt ridiculously
dangerous – very Red Riding Hood and the Wolf.
This man had always been the
haunting “what if” in her life.
From “Runaway Bide"
By: Barbara Hannay
Mills and Boon Romance
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