After all Melanie Porter has been through recently, it's time to put her dreams first. And she starts by opening a vacation retreat outside of Melbourne. As she considers her next step, the unexpected happens. One of her guests--a friend--the very attractive Flynn Randall makes it clear he's in pursuit.
Mel is definitely tempted. Who wouldn't be?
But Flynn comes with strings that could derail her plans. First, he's part of the world she eagerly left behind. Second, he's ready for a commitment, while she's still embracing life on her own.
A resolution seems impossible until Flynn proves that she's still in the driver's seat!
Mel Porter glanced up as she exited her house. A smile spread across her face as she took in the clear blue sky.
Despite the fact that it was barely June, Melbourne had been in the grip of winter for over a month--including overcast skies, rain, bitterly cold wind, overnight frosts--and it had been particularly bad here on the Mornington Peninsula, where her turn-of-the-century farmhouse was located. Today, however, the weather gods had granted the huddled masses a reprieve. The winter-bare liquid-amber tree in Mel's front yard stretched its branches toward the sky as though worshipping the unexpected warmth. She wondered what the neighbors would say if she did the same.
She settled for turning her face to the sun and closing her eyes.
She'd never been a winter person. Summer was what it was all about as far as she was concerned. Long days at the beach, barbecues, zinc on noses and the smell of coconut-scented sunscreen...She couldn't wait for the warmer weather.
Rubbing her hands together, she walked down the porch steps and across the driveway to the letterbox to collect the morning's mail. She pulled out a number of smaller envelopes with transparent windows--bills, hip hip hooray--and one larger, thicker envelope. Curious, she turned it over.
Everything in her went still when she read the words typed across the top left corner. Wallingsworth and Kent, Lawyers.
She stared at the envelope for a long beat. Then she started walking to the house.
Strange, after waiting and waiting for this moment, it had snuck up on her.
She waited until she was standing at the battered wood counter in the kitchen before she tore open the envelope and pulled out its contents.
There was a short covering letter, but she didn't bother reading it, simply flipped to the next page. Divorce Order, the heading said in crisp black font, accompanied by an official looking seal from the Federal Magistrates Court of Australia.
Mel's breath rushed out in a woosh.
There it is. It's over. Finally.
Her knees felt a little weak and she rounded the counter and sank into one of the oak chairs she'd inherited from her grandmother.
Six years of marriage, gone. At thirty-one, she was single again. Free.
She blinked rapidly and tried to swallow past the lump in her throat. This was a good thing. She'd had a lucky escape. There could have been kids involved, it could have been so much messier and uglier. No way was she going to cry.
This was a good thing.
The urge to call her mother or her sister gripped her, but she resisted. She'd leaned on her family and friends enough in the past few months. They'd comforted her, held her hand while she negotiated to buy the old farmhouse and holiday cottages that now constituted her combined home and livelihood, pitched in whenever she needed help...
It was time to start standing on her own two feet.
Her gaze found the clock on the kitchen wall and she gave a little start. She needed to get moving--she had guests arriving before lunch and she needed to clean Red Coat Cottage in preparation for their arrival.
She grabbed the keys on her way out the door and took the scenic route via the garden path to the first of the four cottages on her four-acre plot of land. The property had once been part of a vast orchard that had stretched along Port Phillip Bay from Mount Eliza to Mornington. The land had been broken up and sold off years ago for residential development, and Mel's plot included the old manager's residence as well as four of the compact workers cottages that had once housed the pickers and other laborers....