Someone Like YouBy: Victoria Purman
Thank you, thank you, thank you to all my lovely readers who said they loved Nobody But Him and asked for more.
To my many male friends who read it - big hugs. This one is set over summer, so I’ve thrown in some cricket action for you all. You’re welcome.
To Jessie Byrne for reading the first draft and providing excellent advice and guidance.
To Stephen. And to our boys - Ethan, Ned and Clancy – for being the best sons in the world.
Once again, to Emma and Vilma for being my biggest fans.
To my editor Jody Lee. Thank you for your middle of the night revelation about that extra scene – you were SO right. Once again, you’ve made this a much better book and I thank you sincerely.
To Sue Brockhoff, Cristina Lee and Lilia Kanna from Harlequin Australia. My heartfelt thanks for your continuing support, encouragement and reassuring words of wisdom.
And finally, to everyone else at team Harlequin. Thanks for everything you’ve done to help make my wildest dreams come true.
Lizzie Blake gripped her fingers into a tight fist and raised her knuckles to the salt-scarred front door. She stole a quick glance over her shoulder, looking across the esplanade to the sparkling water of Middle Point behind her. She tried to imagine the hot sand sizzling her feet, the cool of the waves washing over her limbs and the roar of the Southern Ocean in her ears.
She straightened her back, lifted her chin and muttered to herself. ‘For God’s sake. Just get it over with. This is not brain surgery. Man up. Or…should that be woman up?’
She halted, hearing a scraping noise from inside the house. He was definitely in there. The man who’d moved in months before, when the wind off the water had blown cold and the skies started out grey in the mornings, hanging low until sunset. Time had passed. The weather had turned; summer was only a few weeks away.
But the mystery man of Middle Point remained a recluse.
Lizzie felt a trickle of sweat slip down between her shoulder blades. The sooner she got this over with, the sooner she could be back at work in the air-conditioned cool of the Middle Point pub. She wasn’t even sure what she was doing here. Here being the not-so-welcome mat of a modest, mint-green painted beach shack. It was weathered and worn, its windows opaque with gritty streaks of sand, the yellowed grass in the front yard resembling strewn hay instead of lush green.
It was a good question and she wasn’t entirely sure she had an answer that made any sense. In a moment of sentimental weakness that morning, she’d promised Ry Blackburn she would make a delivery to his best friend, Dan McSwaine. Ry was Lizzie’s boss at the pub. And her best friend Julia’s fiancé. And Dan’s next-door neighbour. Yes. Middle Point was a small town.
She felt the weight of the calico bag in her hand, heavy with food: kangaroo rendang, a crisp Asian salad and still-warm naan bread from the specials menu. The spicy aromas teased her and she had half a mind to tiptoe away and take it home for herself instead.
But no, she was on a promise to a friend and she wouldn’t go back on it. After three firm knocks, she planted her hand on her head to stop her straw hat from blowing away in the north wind and waited. There was another scrape of noise from inside, then footsteps and the door jerked open in a whoosh.
What the hell’s happened to Dan McSwaine?
Dan stared back at her. His lips were pinched into a tight line and his jet-black hair hung over his forehead, pushed aside just enough so she could see one washed-out green eye fixed directly on her.
Four months before, when she’d met Dan for the first time, he’d worn a shit-eating grin, a cocky-as-hell attitude and a black leather jacket. She did a quick stocktake of the man who was standing there, half-hidden behind the door, glowering at her. He looked like he’d been dragged eight ways through a blender. A faded blue T-shirt hung from his shoulders and he appeared to be wearing – Lizzie glanced down to confirm her suspicions – track pants.
Could this be the same man?
‘What do you want, Elizabeth?’
At least she recognised the voice. It was deep with a rasp that she’d thought sexy, once upon a time. Now he just sounded annoyed.
‘Ry wants you to have this.’ Lizzie lifted the calico bag between them. ‘It’s a dinner delivery direct from the Middle Point pub. On the house.’