New Boss New Year Bride

BOOK: New Boss New Year Bride
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Joss found it difficult to move for a second. The smile Melissa had just aimed in his direction had been a bright and trusting one, and had made her brown eyes sparkle with delight.

Something stirred within him—a sensation he hadn’t felt for such a long time. Whatever it was, he didn’t want it. He just wanted to do his job, to live his life….

Melissa was jostled from behind, and a purely protective instinct made him put his arm around her. Once he steadied her, Joss let his arm stay exactly where it was, admittedly glad of the excuse to pull her a little nearer to him.

“Three!”

“Two!”

She turned to look up at him.

“One!”

His arm tightened, drawing her even closer.

“Happy New Year, Lis.”

“Happy New Year, Joss.”

And with that, he bent his head and brushed his lips across hers.

Dear Reader,

New Boss, New-Year Bride
was a lot of fun to write. Melissa was a character who had really been put through the wringer—life just never turned out the way she planned. When she discovered she had a biological brother, it was as though some things were starting to go right. Heading to the Outback town of Didja was an adventure, but she was a woman with a mission—to get to know her little brother, Dex. What she didn’t count on was Joss, the handsome owner of the town’s clinic.

Joss had also been through a lot in the past, but instead of looking forward, he had hidden himself away in the middle of nowhere, eventually discovering that Didja was the place he was meant to be all along.

The people in the town of Didja were a pleasure to create. Brothers Nev and Kev, though lovable, always seem to get into mischief somehow, even though they’re both adults. Bub, the nurse who is the backbone of the hospital, Stiggy, the Italian chef, and Wazza, the bartender at the pub, help round out my cast of characters.

So please sit back and enjoy Melissa and Joss’s journey to happily-ever-after. It all begins with a New Year’s kiss!

Warmest regards,

Lucy

NEW BOSS, NEW-YEAR BRIDE
Lucy Clark

NEW BOSS, NEW-YEAR BRIDE

To Lisa and Brenton—who inspired the
pigmy blow-gun dart! Cheers!


Romans
15:1–4

CHAPTER ONE

T
HIS
was it. Melissa Clarkson took a deep breath and looked up at the building which seemed to stand in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by rich ochre dirt.

This was it?

‘What a dump,’ she mumbled under her breath. How could her brother work in such a place? She frowned, then realised she wasn’t here to judge him. She had come to Australia’s west to meet her brother—for the first time.

Dex Crawford was the biological brother she’d been told about just over two years ago, and it had taken her quite some time to track him down. Now, today, she was finally going to meet him. He knew she was coming. He knew she was going to be working alongside him for the next twelve months as part of the Didja medical team, providing medical care to the community and the workers at the large industrial mine which was situated not too far out of town. Melissa also knew her brother hadn’t been too keen at the prospect of meeting her, and she could understand that. When a complete stranger told you that you were biologically related it was bound to come as a shock.

She’d been travelling for what seemed to be for ever, but after taking a plane from Tasmania to Melbourne, and another
plane from Melbourne to Perth—with a quick three-hour stopover in Adelaide along the way—she’d made her way to the ‘Outback’ train station and boarded just before midnight. She hadn’t slept much, whether due to the heavy rocking of the train or to apprehension at the brand-new adventure staring her in the face. Either way, when she’d arrived in Didja hope had mingled with excitement at the thought that Dex might be there to meet her.

The hope had dwindled as she’d slung her carry-on luggage across her shoulder and gathered her two suitcases, never more thankful that they were on wheels. She’d trudged out into the almost noon sun and studied a very old town map in the hope that it would show her the way to the medical clinic.

And now she stood in front of this dilapidated building, excitement at her new adventure being sucked up into the dry heat. ‘This can’t be it,’ she murmured, not wanting to take another step further lest the building fall down right before her very eyes.

‘Excuse me?’

Melissa turned at the rich deep tones and shielded her eyes as she looked up and then up some more into the face of the rather tall man who now stood next to her.

‘Are you Melissa Clarkson?’

‘Yes. Yes, I am.’ Hope flared once more. Was this him? Was this tall, handsome stranger her brother? ‘Are you Dex?’

‘No, I’m Joss,’ he corrected, and held out his hand. ‘Josiah Lawson.’

‘Ah.’ Melissa tried not to show her disappointment as she shook his hand. She also tried to ignore the way her hand, which was warmly enveloped within his, felt safe and secure. Perhaps it was because she was so incredibly out of her comfort zone at the moment, and any remote sense of security would be bound to cause her to react to a simple handshake
from a handsome stranger. Josiah Lawson was her new boss. The owner of the Didja clinic and the man who had offered her not only a twelve-month contract but the opportunity to take her time and really get to know her brother.

‘Were you expecting Dex to pick you up?’

‘I was…hoping.’ And he was still holding her hand.

Unlike him, she was not wearing sunglasses—nor a hat—and when he looked into her deep brown eyes he could instantly see the family resemblance. The deep red sun-dress she wore highlighted the fairness of her skin and complemented her blonde hair, which had been swept back into a single ponytail. Joss knew she’d been travelling for well over twenty-four hours, yet somehow she’d managed to look as fresh as a daisy.

It was clear she’d been hoping her biological brother would pick her up, would show an interest in her arriving in town, but he hadn’t. Dex didn’t seem to care one way or the other about his new ‘surprise sister’—as he called her—and it had been Joss who had needed to point out the benefits in at least meeting Melissa. Still, she didn’t need to know all of that.

‘Dex is in clinic, so I volunteered to come and meet your train.’ He smiled politely at her. ‘I apologise most profusely for being late, and then, I confess, I couldn’t find you.’ He gestured to the building in front of them with his free hand. ‘What are you doing in this part of town?’

Melissa was a little puzzled at his words. She pointed to the building in front of them. ‘Finding the clinic.’

‘The clinic? You think this is the clinic?’ His lips twitched into a small smile and she wished she could see his eyes, but they were hidden behind dark sunglasses and the bushman’s hat planted firmly on his head.

‘Isn’t it? I read the town map at the train station and it said…’ She shook her head and sighed. ‘I am relieved, though. How anyone could practise medicine in this old…building—’

‘For want of a better word,’ he interjected.

‘—is beyond me.’

‘Well, Dr Clarkson, allow me to escort you to the real Didja clinic.’ It was only now that he dropped her hand and in turn picked up both of her suitcases. ‘This way, if you please.’

What on earth was he doing? He’d been holding her hand for too long—like a complete moron. She was a colleague. She was here to work and that, as far as he was concerned, was all there was to it. The fact that she was a bit of a looker meant nothing, either.

He led her down the side of the old medical centre, her suitcases proving to be no effort for him whatsoever. Melissa watched as he walked a few steps in front of her, admiring the length of his back, the broadness of his shoulders and the flexed arm muscles which were almost straining to break through his short-sleeved cotton shirt.

He wore thick socks with a pair of well-worn work boots, and a pair of long khaki shorts which provided her with the view of just enough tanned leg covered in dark curly hairs. Very nice, well muscled legs. His butt was firm from what she could see, as the cotton shirt was untucked. Combined with the hat, he looked nothing like a doctor—or at least nothing like the doctors she was used to working with in a pristine hospital setting. She had to keep reminding herself that this was, to all intents and purposes, the Outback of Australia, even though she wasn’t in the Northern Territory, or Far North Queensland, where most people equated the Outback to be.

She had landed herself in the inland Western Australian Outback, and judging by the vast contrast with Tasmania’s lush greenness she knew she was most definitely a very long way from home.

They’d rounded the old clinic and were walking down
what Melissa realised was a small side street, although it appeared to be no more than a clearing in the never-ending dirt. Joss then turned right down an even smaller clearing. A lane, perhaps? Within another minute, Melissa found herself walking through what she belatedly realised was someone’s front garden. There were plenty of green gum trees and bright flowering bottle brushes around the house, and the green of the leaves and the brown of the trunks blended in a picturesque way with the ochre ground. There was the odd patch of grass, but it wasn’t a vibrant green—rather it was dull and brittle as they walked over the scattered tufts.

‘Uh…’ She couldn’t help feeling uncomfortable. ‘Joss?’

‘Yes?’

‘Are you sure this is the right way?’

He stopped and looked at her, his lips twitching a little. It was on the tip of his tongue to come back with a witty comment, but at the tired, confused look in her eyes he decided she’d probably had enough for the time being, and wanted nothing more than to lie down in a bed beneath a cooling ceiling fan and sleep.

‘I’m sure.’

He continued on, seemingly not at all perturbed that he was walking through someone else’s garden. They continued on down the side of the house and into the backyard, which boasted even more of the withered grass and native evergreen gum trees, although these trees had been decorated with bright coloured tinsel, reminding Melissa that Christmas had been just a week ago. Why did it seem like months had already passed? The New Year began tomorrow, meaning that when the clock struck midnight the beginning of the next phase of her life would really begin. Her year in Didja, working alongside the man before her and her brand-new brother, would commence.

Her stomach churned at the thought of finally meeting Dex, of coming face to face with him, of being able to touch him. Her little brother…And the moment was drawing closer and closer with each step she took.

Melissa snapped out of her reverie as Joss called a cheery greeting to a woman pegging out washing on the line.

‘This is the new doctor at the clinic,’ he remarked, putting her suitcases down for a moment so he could perform the introductions.

Melissa had pasted on a smile and was ready to shake hands and be polite. She was most certainly surprised when the woman dropped the pegs and wet clothes back into the basket and flung both arms around Melissa, squealing with delight as she did so.

‘Oh, Doc Joss. You said you’d do it. You said you’d do it and you’ve done it.’

The woman was exuberant as her strong arms kept squeezing Melissa. Melissa stared with wide-eyed astonishment at her new colleague. Joss merely chuckled. Melissa mouthed the words ‘help me’, but it was a good five seconds later that Joss decided to do just that.

‘All right, Minerva. Put her down. Let her go.’

‘You did it, Doc Joss. She’s here. She’s here!’ Minerva was now past the point of excitement.

‘I take it my arriving in town is a good thing?’ Melissa straightened her clothes as she spoke.

‘You could say that.’ Joss dropped his tone and stepped closer, the spicy scent of whatever he was wearing winding around her with a very pleasing effect. ‘I’ve been trying to get a female doctor to come to Didja for quite some time.’

‘Hence why I’ve been locked into a twelve-month contract?’

‘Hence,’ he agreed with a smile, and dipped his sunglasses down his nose to look at her.

Melissa tried not to gasp out loud as she stared into the most gorgeous and hypnotic pair of blue eyes she’d ever seen. No wonder he shielded them. Not to protect them from the bright sunlight, but in order to make sure life continued on its merry way—because she was certain that many women could simply sit around all day staring into those gorgeous depths, sighing whilst they did so.

‘Oh, Doc Joss. I’m very happy. And you, Doc Melissa. You’re here. You’ve come. Us sheilas—we need you. Honest we do.’

Minerva’s bright interjections were enough to force Melissa to look away from her new boss’s face. What had she been doing? Staring at her boss? Being highly unprofessional. Minerva was heading towards her again, arms outstretched for another hug, and mentally Melissa braced herself.

‘Leave her,’ Joss remarked kindly, and placed both hands on Minerva’s shoulders, keeping her away from scaring off his new colleague.

‘I’m gonna go call everyone. This is a happy day. Happy day,’ she repeated as, without a hint of farewell, she turned and went into the house.

In another second they were alone again, and Joss picked up the suitcases, indicating they should continue on their way.

‘Well, if this is the reaction you’re going to get, I guess it means your clinics are going to be nice and full for quite some time.’

‘I guess.’ So long as she still had time to get to know her brother, she was fine with her work load. Making friends and being liked by the community were all important, but they weren’t her top priority, and Melissa was the type of woman who found it easier by far to keep things in order of priority. Life seemed to work better that way, and it also led to less heartache.

At the bottom of the garden they turned right onto a concrete footpath, and there before her was the main street of the town—Didjabrindagrogalon—known affectionately to its inhabitants as Didja.

‘And there’s the clinic.’ Joss waved his hand with a flourish and Melissa stared at the building. Now,
this
was what she had been expecting. ‘We have a little ten-bed hospital out the back, and a small surgery—usually only used for emergencies.’

‘And you have nursing staff?’

‘Quite a few of the women in town are nurses, or retired nurses who are willing to do a few days here and there. Bub’s the only nurse employed full-time. She’s in charge of the hospital and rules it with a heart of gold and a rod of iron. You’ll like her.’

‘I have no doubt.’ They headed further down the footpath towards a pedestrian crossing. ‘And you’re a qualified general surgeon, correct?’

‘I am.’

‘And Dex is the A&E specialist.’

‘He is.’

Melissa nodded, but could feel Joss watching her. ‘Something wrong?’ she asked.

‘No. I’m just wondering whether you’re going to voice the questions which I can see running around in your mind.’

‘You can see into my mind?’ Melissa raised her eyebrows in teasing as he stopped by the kerb. There wasn’t a single moving car on the road, but still both of them stood there, waiting and looking at each other.

‘I can see that you’re wondering what on earth could have brought Dex and I all the way to the middle of nowhere.’

‘I assure you I was wondering no such thing. Besides, I can’t talk. I’m a qualified OB/GYN, and I know exactly what’s brought me to the middle of nowhere, as you term it.
Everyone has their own reasons for doing things, Joss. Despite whatever they may be, Didja is a fortunate town to have such highly trained doctors and a group of dedicated nurses working for it.’

Joss frowned slightly as he looked down at her, his shoulders squaring as he took a deep breath, filling his lungs. ‘Wow.’

‘Wow, what?’

He shook his head. ‘It’s been a long time since I’ve heard anyone talk like that.’ Joss checked again for cars, but still didn’t move. He was impressed with what she’d said because the few locum doctors who had previously come out to Didja had been snobbish and prejudiced against anyone who chose to live in such a place. ‘I think you’re going to fit in just fine here, Dr Clarkson.’

‘Even though my main motive for coming here is so I can get to know my brother?’

‘Even though,’ he agreed with a slight nod.

BOOK: New Boss New Year Bride
4.81Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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