Authors: Victoria Purman
Tags: #Fiction, #Romance, #Contemporary
Someone Like You
When Victoria Purman woke up one day and realised she’d spent most of her working life writing for other people, she decided it was finally time to tell stories of her own. She’s now thrilled to spend her days creating dialogue and happy-ever-afters for her imaginary characters. Her
Boys of Summer
trilogy is set on the south coast of her home state of South Australia, somewhere she feels compelled to do a lot of research. When she’s not writing, Victoria spends time with her husband, three sons, a disobedient dog, her loving, extended family and dear friends. She keeps promising to buy herself surfing lessons.
To Stephen. For making sure our house is always fully-stocked with author must-haves such as wine and chocolate. And for absolutely everything else
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.
I’m thrilled to be welcoming you back to Middle Point for book two of my
Boys of Summer
Someone Like You
is the story of Dan and Lizzie, the two best friends from my first book
Nobody But Him
. When we first met them, they were doing everything they could to make sure Ry and Julia found love. This time around, they’re not so sure they want it for themselves. Both of them have some difficult history to overcome before they can find their own happiness and they think that hiding away from the world in the sleepy coastal town of Middle Point is the best way to deal with their problems. But I couldn’t let them wallow. They had to find love – with each other, of course!
As a debut author, I’ve been overwhelmed at the responses I’ve had from readers to
Nobody But Him
. Thank you from the bottom of my heart to everyone who’s taken the time to let me know how much you loved it. I hope you enjoy
Someone Like You
just as much.
I love to hear from readers, so please find me at the following:
Facebook: Victoria Purman Author
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.’
Dan didn’t move. There was no sweep of his arm to invite her inside, out of the still blazing early evening heat and the whipping wind. No smile of welcome or acknowledgment. And he wasn’t so much looking at her, as through her, barely any recognition in his face that they were acquaintances.
, she corrected herself.
Not a bad match
, she realised. He didn’t want her there and she didn’t want to be there. Perfect.
‘Here. Take it,’ she said. ‘It’s food. Really good food.’
He wasn’t to be tempted.
Lizzie pulled off her sunglasses and tipped her head back to take a good look at him. Dark bags under his eyes were smudged like fading bruises and his cheekbones anchored hollows where flesh should have been. And, while beards were currently
in European fashion magazines and on the skinny faces of alternative musicians, Lizzie decided his grey-flecked version looked like he’d been stranded on a desert island for three months.
Which was exactly how long it had been since his car accident.
. A wave of remorse at her rush to judge him rose up in her throat and she swallowed it away.
And then she wasn’t quite sure what to do. Dan had been through so much in the past few months that it felt selfish to be annoyed with him. How should she handle this stranger? For that’s what he seemed to her now. Her tongue tripped into jumpy overtime.
‘Just take the food, Dan. It’s really delicious. Or so the chef tells me. It’s been our most popular dinner order, which is crazy considering it must still be thirty-five degrees out here. You’d better eat it while it’s hot, so here you go.’ Lizzie looked down at the bag and held it further towards him to indicate he should take it from her, but still he didn’t react. His tall body slumped against the doorway and his big hand gripped the doorknob as if it was the only thing keeping him upright.
Lizzie noticed a passing glance at the food before his eyes travelled slowly up her body in a lazy trawl. Well, there was something about him she did recognise. He’d looked at her like that before. And damn it if it didn’t have the same affect on her pulse.
‘Take it away. I don’t want it.’ Dan reached up to his chin and rubbed his beard.
Lizzie clenched her teeth. Keeping her promise to Ry wasn’t going to be quite as straightforward as she’d imagined.
How many kinds of stubborn was Dan McSwaine anyway
, she wondered. God forbid. What man in his right mind would knock back a free meal?
She bit back her frustration and tried another approach. ‘Well, now I’ve got a problem. My boss – and your very stubborn best friend – wants me to leave this with you since all you can cook is toast, apparently.’
Dan’s eyes flashed and, for the first time, met hers.
‘Ry thinks I’ve been living off toast?’
She didn’t blink. ‘Ry seems to think you’re fading away.’ Lizzie checked for evidence. She hadn’t quite noticed before that the faded blue T-shirt was stretched tight over his broad shoulders and strong arms, clinging to the muscles of his chest – and lower – as if the shirt was wet. Fading away may have been a slight exaggeration.
‘Tell Ry to back off.’ Dan’s voice was tight in his throat, as if it hurt to share it with anyone else. ‘No, fuck it, I’ll tell him myself.’
And then he took a step in retreat and slammed the wooden door in Lizzie’s face. The force of it rattled the windows all along the front of the little house.
Lizzie stared in disbelief. Asked herself if what had just happened had actually just happened. Her first instinct was to push the door open and unload every curse word she knew in response to his rudeness. She’d worked in pubs a long time and had a ready supply of true-blue Aussie expressions to choose from. Each of them quite satisfying.
But when that rush of blood to the head faded, and it only took a few seconds, she decided to trust her second instinct, which was to leave him alone.
She left the food on the front door mat and walked away, back along the esplanade to the pub.
Dan pushed aside the sheer curtain from the sea-sprayed front windows, just enough to watch Elizabeth Blake’s arse as she walked down his driveway and onto the street. Her swaying curves were covered with a simple white T-shirt and sand-coloured skirt and he knew the hat was hiding hair cut short like a pixie’s. It was blonde, he remembered, but not the kind you got from a bottle. It was a kind of a golden blonde. Maybe it was the southern sun that had given it that shiny glow.
And then he pulled himself up.
Why are you thinking about the colour of her goddamn hair, McSwaine?
Hell, he might be a sorry-arse excuse for a man at the moment, but he wasn’t dead.
She was walking off into the distance with a spring in her step, her arms swinging by her sides, the late spring sunshine all around her like a spotlight. She looked like she didn’t have a worry in the world and part of him envied her. Dan tried to remember how long it had been since he’d felt like that. Too long. So long that he’d begun to distrust the memories of his other life, figuring they were coming back to him through a distorted lens.
There would always, from now on, be the time before the accident. And everything after. And the stuff that came after, the reality he was living now was, for the most part, shit. The only bright spots in the past three months, besides getting out of hospital, had been leaving his old life behind and buying the beach house. Just as he’d hoped, it had given him a place to escape. A place to hide.
When he took a final glance at Elizabeth and realised she was empty-handed, he shook his head. She’d left the damn food. His spine stiffened and he scratched his jaw. Since when did Ry and Julia – or Elizabeth for that matter – think of him as a charity case?