The last person Mardie Rainey expects to see on her doorstep is her childhood sweetheart, Blake Maddock. Fifteen years ago, Blake Maddock had walked away, leaving her teenage heart sore and broken. But now--with a thunderstorm raging overhead--she can't turn him away, nor the injured border collie in his arms....
Blake Maddock spent his life running from one tragic mistake... Now the frightened boy has become a formidable man--and he's coming back for the woman he has never forgotten....
It was a dark and stormy night. lightning flashed. An eerie howl echoed mournfully through the big old house. The lights went out.
She had to stop watching Gothic horror movies, Mardie Rainey decided, as she told Bounce to cut it out with the howling and groped to the sideboard for candles. She especially had to stop watching horror movies on nights when a storm was threatening to crash through her roof.
Bounce, her twelve-month-old border collie, was terrified. Mardie was more irritated than spooked. The vampire had been sinking his fangs when the power went off. Now she'd never learn what happened to the fluff-for-brains heroine who would have been a lot more interesting with fang marks.
What a night. The wind was hitting the chimney with such force it was cutting off the draw, causing smoke to belch into the room. She was down to a few candles and a flashlight.
There was a leak in the corner of the room. She'd put a bucket underneath. Without the sound of the television, the steady plinking was likely to drive her crazy.
She should go to bed.
A crash, outside. A big one.
Bounce stared at the darkened window and whimpered. The hairs on the back of his neck stood up.
'It'll be one of the gums in the driveway,' she told him, feeling sad. She loved those trees. 'That's for tomorrow and the chainsaw.'
There wasn't a lot she could do about it now.
Bounce was still whimpering.
She took his collar and headed for the bedroom. 'It's nothing to worry about,' she told him. 'We don't have trees close enough to hurt the house. Lightning and thunder are all flashy show, and I warned you about watching vampires.'
Bounce whimpered again and pressed closer. So much for guard dogs.
Normally he slept in the kitchen. Not tonight.
It really was a scary night.
Maybe she did need vampire protection, she conceded as she headed for bed. Bounce might be a wuss but the only alternative was garlic. A girl couldn't sleep with garlic.
'Bed's safe,' she told him. 'The sheep are in the bottom paddock and that's protected. The house is solid. Everything's fine. At least we're not out in the weather. I pity anyone who is.'
Blake Maddock, specialist eye surgeon, should have stayed the night in Banksia Bay, but he wanted to be back in Sydney. Or better still, he wanted to be back in Africa.
He'd wanted to leave Banksia Bay the minute he'd discovered Mardie wasn't there.
What sort of stupid impulse had led him to attend his high school reunion? Wanting to see Mardie? That had been a dumb, sentimental impulse, nothing more. As for the rest, he'd turned his back on this place fifteen years ago. Why come back now?
Nothing had changed.
Or...it had a little, he conceded as he drove cautiously through the rain-filled night. But not much. There'd been births, deaths and marriages, but the town was just as small. People talked fishing and farming. People asked where he was living now, but weren't really interested in his answer. People asked did he miss Banksia Bay.
Not so much. He'd left fifteen years ago and never looked back.
Three miles out of town was his old home--his great-aunt's house. He'd been sent here when he was seven, to forget Robbie.
Ten years ago, sorting his great-aunt's estate, he'd found a letter his father had written to her after Robbie's death.
We don't know where else to turn. His mother never warmed to the twins, to boys. Now... They were identical, and every time she looks at him she feels ill. She's drinking too much. Her friends are shunning her. We need to get the boy away. If we can tell...