Release day for WITH MURDEROUS INTENT.
My contemporary romantic suspense is set in the Australian outback at a cattle station. 0.99 for a limited time!
She fled Ireland because her life was in danger, now her troubles are worse…
To escape a murderous stalker, Caitlin Fitzgerald flees her home in Ireland and takes a governess job in the top end of Australia, determined to guard her heart against further hurt. In her chosen safe haven, she has poisonous snakes, wild boar and crocodiles to contend with. She learns to deal with those. But there are two men at Tall Trees cattle station who test her resolve. The very handsome and moody station owner, Jake Monterey, who has issues of his own, and Harry Phillips, the big, easy-going station hand.
Jake has two adorable children, and Caitlin loves her job, but when danger follows, must she flee again?
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The children fidgeted and pulled away as Caitlin attempted to spread sunscreen on their limbs and faces. “One would think you’d never been in the dam before,” she said.
Elizabeth’s small body stilled under her hands. Surprised at her sudden surrender, Caitlin turned Elizabeth around to look at her. “What’s the matter, Elizabeth?”
Elizabeth opened her mouth to speak, as William began to jump around saying, “Hurry up, I’m hot.”
“Elizabeth?” she asked again, waiting.
The little girl glanced away. “William and I are really good swimmers, aren’t we William?”
“Daddy taught us,” William said solemnly. “After our mummy died.”
Elizabeth grabbed William’s hand. “Come on,” she said crossly to Caitlin.
They walked along the worn path through the field. Angela had told her that the dam was a long walk from the house over the next hill. Caitlin had no idea how long, Angela’s description of “long” was. Despite their hats, the sun beat cruelly down on them. Perhaps she should have waited for Jake to return. He could have taken them in the SUV. But he might not return until dusk and she wanted to keep her promise to the children.
“Keep to the path, please,” she said. She carried the forked stick Jake had given her in her hand and kept a wary eye out for snakes. Goodness knows what she would have done with it, had one confronted her.
“It’s too hot,” William complained fretfully.
“Let’s go to the waterhole,” said Elizabeth. “It’s much closer.” She pointed towards a track that led off into the bush. “That’s where Daddy would take us. I’m awfully hot.”
“Let’s go to the waterhole,” William repeated, running across the grass.
“Wait, please,” Caitlin called after him. “I haven’t discussed this with your father.”
“It’s cool there.” Elizabeth frowned up at her. “And you can see right down to the bottom.”
The sun burned viciously on Caitlin’s shoulders. She knew it would be wise to get the children into the shade. “Very well,” she said. “We’ll have a look. If I don’t think it’s suitable, we’ll go to the dam.”
Elizabeth led them along a well-trodden track which led them down into a gully. It was cooler in the shade. Caitlin heard the sound of running water. A few minutes later, they emerged into a glade. Water trickled down over the rocks sending ripples across a large water hole. A rope dangled invitingly above the water from an overhanging branch. It was obviously a favorite spot for the family. Elizabeth had been right. In the shallows, the water was clear as glass.
“How lovely,” Caitlin said, wondering why Jake hadn’t mentioned it. “I want you two to stay right on the edge, please.”
She settled on the sandy rim with the children. The fresh water washed over her like cool satin. William cheekily splashed her and stumbled away laughing.
“Look at the pretty lights on the water, Elizabeth,” Caitlin said. The sun’s rays shone through the filigree of leaves, sparkling as they touched the water. Elizabeth put her hand on Caitlin’s knee and smiled up at her.
“Look, there are some Banksia men, too.” Elizabeth pointed to the bristly flowers on a bottlebrush tree. Caitlin held her breath as the little girl’s eyes filled with joy. “I think gumnut babies live in my tree,” she whispered.
“What tree is that?” Caitlin asked.
“A big, old dead one up in the top paddock. If you sit very quietly, you can hear them.”
“William!” Caitlin called. “Don’t go too far in, please.”
“I’m a champion swimmer,” William responded with dignity.
“You can show me, but not today.”
Even in the dappled shade, the sun was burning them. “Time to go back for lunch.” She picked up towels and jammed hats on heads. “Then lessons before your afternoon ride.”
At the mention of the afternoon ride, the children meekly followed her along the dirt track. As they emerged from the bush, a horse and rider cleared the fence in the top paddock and raced towards them. It was Jake, with a thunderous expression on his face. He reached them and jumped down from his horse. “What the devil do you think you’re doing?” he roared at Caitlin.
She blanched. “I took the children for a swim at the water-hole.”
Jake’s blue eyes looked icy. “Why didn’t you tell me you were going there?”