Authors: Suzanne Brandyn
© 2015 Suzanne Brandyn
by Sally Odgers
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A sexy jackaroo and a sultry
jillaroo. Will fate take over from where they left off?
Zoe Montgomery's life changed
overnight, the night her family and their property, Montagreen, went up in
flames. The incident and her previous memories are wiped from her mind. Whisked
away moments later by an unknown aunt, Zoe learns to grow up fast and learns
the value of hard work.
Fifteen years later, after
overhearing her aunt's whispers about Montagreen, and a girl called Zoe
Montgomery, the name on her bracelet, Zoe's suspicions increase. She flees the
only life she has ever known, and escapes her aunt's bitter lies and abuse, to
return home to find answers and rebuild.
However, returning opens not only
the devastation she'd left behind, it reveals the torment her childhood
sweetheart suffered which almost destroyed his life.
As Jordan works on the
restoration of Montagreen, can they battle their way through a mountain of
obstacles and take over where they left off, or is it too late?
I'm delighted to bring you a
Rural Romantic Suspense story, after receiving emails inquiring about upcoming
books similar to my first Rural Contemporary Romance, Heat in the Outback.
2015 is going to be an exciting
year, as I'm looking forward to bringing you more Rural Romantic Suspense novels.
I would like to thank you for
your continuing support and feedback. I'd love to hear from readers through Facebook,
Twitter or my Website.
The strike of a match can change a life.
Jordan figured he'd doused enough
flames in one lifetime without having to extinguish another, although by the
looks of things, the early signs were smouldering on the opposite side of the
Jade sat at a rustic table, alfresco style, with a woman he'd never met. For
some reason he squinted, trying to zero in for a better look, but tore his gaze
away hoping he hadn't been spotted.
the better of him, and he took another pleasurable view at long slender legs
crossed at the ankles. He shook his head and set his body into escape mode, but
as usual, Jade honed in on him before he had time to flee.
Jordan. Over here.' She shot a hand in mid air and waved him over, accompanied
by that cheeky grin he'd known all his life. He'd been through this scenario a
couple of times now. Her idea of pulling Cupid’s love bow was over the top, but
he had to admit, she tried hard.
He sucked back
a breath, stepped off the kerb and sauntered across the street toward them,
praying for a quick getaway. Drawing closer, he regarded the woman under the
shadow of his Akubra. A hint of recognition tapped at his senses. His stomach
muscles clenched and sweat beaded across his brow.
looked up, snagging him in her line of vision. His heart tripped over a few
beats when her cursory glance suggested he was a mere stranger. There wasn't a
sign of recognition or something to indicate they had a past together. He felt
mighty out of sorts, and turned his attention toward Jade.
'Do you want
to join us? I know you can't do without your coffee.'
He found it
difficult to articulate his thoughts. The blood in his body thrashed about in
his veins. Could he be mistaken?
'This is my
brother Jordan...um' Jade glared at the woman sitting opposite her. 'I'm
shocked.' She placed an open palm to her chest. 'Here we are chatting like long
lost friends, and we haven't even introduced ourselves.' A light chuckle
escaped her lips. 'I'm Jade Townsend.' Jade reached across the table and they
exchanged a brief handshake.
only realised.' The woman smiled. 'My name is Zoe Montgomery. I've recently
moved here. My family used to live in the area.'
know if Zoe had noticed his sister's face pale, and he wondered if she could
sense the galloping of his heartbeat.
my parents’ property, Montagreen. I'm going to rebuild and I'm looking for a
fabulous,' Jade said and took a quick gulp of coffee. She cleared her throat. 'Um...Jordan
is looking for work. He's a great carpenter.'
temperature upped a few degrees and his mind slipped back to when Zoe was
thirteen. Overloaded with memories, his chest tightened. Jade gave him a
glance, trying to signal him in sign language and for the life of him, he
couldn't figure out what she was going on about. His little sister was in the
matchmaking arena once again and she enjoyed every minute of it.
narrowed, and she shot him a scolding look. 'Jordan. Have you heard anything
we've been saying?'
He took off his Akubra, held it in his left hand and angled his body slightly,
facing Zoe. 'It's good to meet you, Zoe.'
She smiled the
smile he'd treasured for years, forcing cute dimples to indent her cheeks.
her hand and they exchanged a light handshake. He tried to swallow and made the
connection brief. Talk about feeling out of sorts. He expected her hand to feel
soft but instead, he felt calluses at the base of each finger.
What in the
hell had she been up to for the last fifteen years?
'Hi. It's nice
to meet you Jordan. So you're looking for work?'
Her green gaze
coolly assessed him, and the hairs over his skin prickled with unease.
more work the better, I always say.' He anchored his boot on the step in front
'I guess you're
familiar with what happened at Montagreen?'
'Yeah, we sure
are. It was a rough time for a lot of people.'
everything that night, including my memory. It went up in flames along with the
house. I don't remember a single thing or anything else before.'
'Me too Zoe. I
don't know what to say.' Jade added, 'I hadn't realised.'
I'm hoping by returning to Munna, to Montagreen, it may jolt my memory. Pick up
the pieces.' Zoe's lips thinned.
'I hope it
helps as well...um...about building. Jordan's an excellent carpenter. He also
helps out on Mum and Dad's cattle station as a jackaroo. He's the best you'll
find around these parts,' Jade said.
exaggerate. I do a lot. Renovated my parents’ place and I've started on my own
'He could go
to the site this afternoon, couldn't you Jordan? Have a look.' Jade made hand
signals when she spoke, flapping them about in mid air as though she was in
laughed but bit his tongue.
Zoe nodded. 'I
don't know what needs doing. I haven't been out to Montagreen. Does one this
afternoon suit you?'
her coffee, and stood. 'I'm sorry. I do have to go. I have to pop into the
solicitor's office, make sure it's all mine before I make a start.'
everything will go your way,' Jade said. 'It was great to um...meet you.'
'I hope we see
each other often.'
'You can count
on me. There're not many females our age around here. Most of the girls I went
to school with hightailed it to the city.'
'Perhaps we can catch up for another coffee. I'm staying in town for a while.'
great. Where are you staying?'
motel over there.' She nodded in the direction of a small white weatherboard
home with attached motel style rooms. A white fence divided it from the street.
'It's clean and the owners are friendly.'
Motel. The people who own it are lovely,' Jade said. 'How about we exchange
mobile numbers? Then when you want to go for a coffee or just chat you'll know
where to reach me.'
women exchanged numbers, Zoe flicked her gaze in Jordan's direction. 'I'll see
you at one, Jordan.'
'I hope I
haven't put you out too much.'
'Not at all. Mum
and Dad live half an hour from your property. I was heading out that way later
I'll see you, then.'
As he watched
her leave, his body locked in freeze mode. He couldn't move.
Zoe acted as
though their past was just that, a past. He'd never forgotten her, yet it was
obvious she'd forgotten him. His gut churned.
'Are you okay,
down.' Jade tapped the seat beside her and Jordan dropped onto it.
back.' He watched Zoe wander down the street. 'I feel as if I've been kicked in
'You look like
it too.' Jade hesitated, and stared at her brother.
'It's okay. I
didn't think I'd react that way, this way, like I'm doing now if I ever saw her
'Are you sure
shock, that's all.'
'I didn't mean
to do this to you. I had no idea who she was. I’d have thought you'd be pleased
to finally see her, though.'
pleased.' He was more than pleased, but at present, his insides were partying
hard, as though he was running barefoot through a paddock full of bindies with
a bull charging behind. 'What did she have to say?'
Only just what you heard. Her mind has blocked it all out. Imagine that.'
why she doesn't remember me.'
'I wanted to
ask her questions, but didn't want to pry.'
recalled the last night he'd seen Zoe, as though it happened just months ago.
'Where has she been for the last fifteen years? She seemed as though she was
managing things, whatever happened to her.'
'I'm not sure
about that. I sensed something was bugging her. She kept looking over her
shoulder as though she was expecting someone to sneak up behind her. It's like
she's hiding from someone or something.'
Jordan ran a
hand around the back of his his neck, and gave it a rub. 'She didn't seem too
impressed to see me.'
'Give it time.
She doesn't remember you. We don't know where she's been or what she's been put
through. I think I'll see Matt, let him know she's shown up. She's lost her
memory and after fifteen years it's not back. Pretty weird if you ask me.'
happen. Sometimes people remember after a year, and some people never get it
back. I can't get over it, even now, after so long. On the night of the fire, I
watched that woman drag Zoe away. I stood there, frozen stupid while a crime
was committed right in front of me and I didn't do a thing to prevent it. I'll
never forget it. It's haunted me all my bloody life.'
you getting the nightmares?'
think they'd be gone years ago. They pop up from nowhere.'
'I'm sorry. I
know how much you cared for her. It wasn't your fault she went missing. You
were only a kid. How would you know what was happening? And it wasn't your fault
the fire started either.' Jade rested her right hand over the top of his on the
table, and gave it a few pats.
what everyone thinks.'
'Don't be so
hard on yourself. Are you going to tell Zoe what happened that night after she
believe me.' He raked splayed fingers through his thick-cropped hair.
'I wonder if
she already knows and didn't want to let on.'
Jordan let out
a groan. 'I don't think she'd be sitting with you having a cuppa or speaking to
me if that was the case. I didn't think I'd see her again, ever.' He rubbed his
chin in thought.
here. It's strange. No news for all those years and she suddenly makes a show.'
to stare after Zoe.
'When it's all
out in the open perhaps...you do still like her. You never know what's around
the corner. I think—'
'Jade, I don't
want you to think anything. Okay? God, she's not a girl anymore...she's a
woman. A woman I hardly know.'
'You could get
to know her all over again. Wouldn't that be nice? I saw the way you looked at
her. You haven't looked at a woman like that since Michelle died. You even told
me you were going to marry Zoe one day.'
'I was bloody
fifteen for cryin' out loud. It was kids’ talk. A lot has changed since then.'
'She left and
I grew up.'
'And it's been
six years of being by yourself. Michelle wouldn't want you to go on alone
through life. She wouldn't want you to punish yourself. Her death wasn't your
fault either.' Jade shook her head, sending her dark hair swirling about her
He shot her an
intent gaze. 'Leave it alone, will you? Zoe would hardly fall for me,
especially knowing what went down the night of the fire.'
gnawing at the lining of his gut. 'It was in a different lifetime.'
one o'clock this afternoon.'
'I don't think it's a good idea.'
silly. Besides, you promised her you'd take a look at the house. You can't back
'Why did you
bring up the subject?'
'Fat lot of thanks
I get. It was only yesterday you said you wanted more work, to do something
with your hands.' She grinned, and her pixie face lit up.
you ever think of anything else?'
'Yeah. My kids
and my husband.' She chuckled.
'So you didn't
talk about that night?'
'No. I just
met her. I only found out who she was when you arrived. Besides, how do you
talk about something that's so sensitive? I wouldn't know where to begin.
She'll eventually find out, either from you or someone else, the solicitor perhaps;
but I know the cops will want to know what happened. I'm going now. I'll pop on
down to the police station, see Matt.'
'Let him know
she's back in town. That's all. Okay?'
Jade stood and ruffled his hair.
'Get out of
it.' He tried to duck out of her way, and heard her fading laughter as she
headed in the direction of the police station.
At least his
sister had handled something with a bit of tact. She was lucky she didn't bring
the subject up, especially not knowing who Zoe was. He swiped a hand over his
He did need
the work, but didn't think it was a good idea. He'd go over and see what Zoe
wanted to rebuild, and then decline...What was he thinking? A small town like
Munna didn't have that many job opportunities available for a carpenter and he
had to take what he could get. The problem was; how could he put his body
through whatever he went through moments ago and survive? He'd never reacted
that way when looking at the female species.
ready for this. He wasn't ready to face his past, to drag up old memories. Or