Alinta Bay #4
by Iris Blobel
She loves the feel of his skin beneath her hands …
Lexie Marshall packs up and moves 3,000 km east with her daughter Zoe, to forget and move on. Now, all that matters is her daughter and her new job. She tries hard to stay focussed, but the sexy and extremely kind park ranger, Jesse, is not making it easy. And when her husband shows up in the small coastal town creating chaos, all she can do is hang on and trust her new friends.
After his last girlfriend walked out on him, Jesse Parker is doing just fine on his own. Until his accidental meeting with single mother Lexie, when he rescues her and her daughter from getting lost in the forest. But when her past catches up with her, he is right in the middle of it all and it might ruin his career.
Will returning to her old life be the only chance to save his career?
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Lexie Marshall looked around, seeing nothing but trees. Worry crept into her mind. It’d been a while since they’d seen another soul. The old farmer on the tractor had warned them, but she’d been certain she had known the way back to the car.
“Mum, are you sure you know where you’re going?” Zoe asked.
Loosely circling her shoulders to rid herself of the kink in them, Lexie replied, “Sweetie, I’m sure we’re almost there. It can’t be far.”
“Such a stupid idea to go for a bushwalk.”
Lexie stopped and turned, looking at her daughter, undecided whether to be annoyed or feel guilty. “I thought it was a great idea. We’re stuck in that small house seven days a week with the walls closing in on us.”
Zoe met her gaze, tears shimmering in her eyes. “Not my fault we moved here.”
Massaging the temples, she took a deep breath. “I hope we’re not going through the separation discussion again. Your dad and I drifted apart. Nothing I can do about it.”
The girl lifted her shoulder in a shrug. “That didn’t mean you have to drift all the way to this godforsaken place.”
“This godforsaken place is giving me a chance to work in my profession as a lawyer during school hours only so you’re not on your own at home.”
Zoe shrugged again. “I miss my friends.”
“Well, so do I, but I am trying to do the best in a bad situation. How about we try to get out of this jungle of trees and next weekend we’ll check the real estate agent for a bigger house?”
“We had a big house in Perth—”
Lexie looked into the distance and then back at her daughter. “Look, I get it that you’re not happy with the current situation. But I’m trying my best here.” She inhaled a long breath to calm herself. “I don’t really think this is the right place to have this discussion, but maybe the right time for you to ponder about the alternatives. Perth, big house, your mother working massive hours to afford it, which would mean you’re in after care, or Alinta Bay, small house, hopefully we’ll find something bigger soon, and I can drop you off and pick you up from school, plus we will have enough money for two holidays a year.”
Without waiting for an answer, Lexie turned again, but didn’t move. Cursing under her breath, she conceded that they were lost. And it scared her. A lot.
Lexie whirled around again. “What?” But as soon as she saw her daughter’s timid look in her eyes, she apologised straight away. “I’m sorry, sweetie. But—”
Zoe shook her head. “Mum, listen,” she said just above a whisper.
Lexie focussed and followed the girl’s gaze.
“Look! A car.”
“Hallelujah,” Lexie murmured.
“Can you run?”
Hands on hips, Lexie said, “I’m old, but I’m no geriatric.”
“Well, duh, Mum. Run.”
“Wait,” she almost shouted. “We can’t just—”
“Mum, just run. You’re not wearing your glasses, are you? It’s the Park Ranger vehicle.”
Shaking her head at her own embarrassment, but also at her clever daughter, she rushed after Zoe through the forest, literally over sticks and stones. Worried about her daughter stopping a stranger’s car, Park Ranger or not, she screamed, “Wait, Zoe. Wait for me!”
Without looking back, her daughter replied, “No way I’m letting this guy drive off.”
When Lexie stopped a couple of minutes later in front of the Ranger’s truck, she placed her hands on her knees, trying to catch her breath.
“Mum got us lost.”
The Ranger came around the car and placed his hand on Lexie’s arm, “Ma’am, are you okay?”
She straightened. “I’m okay. Embarrassed, my ego dinted, and having aged by about ten years, but I’m okay.”
His deep chuckle invaded her senses with its warmth and did something to her. And it’d been a while since a man had stirred something inside her, not since … she pushed the thought of her husband away, as well as the flutter in her stomach, trying to deal with the problem at hand.