The Outback Cattleman's Hired Wife

BOOK: The Outback Cattleman's Hired Wife
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The Outback Cattleman’s Hired Wife
Natalia Elder

 

 

Published by Elderrat Publishers 2016

ABN
19789677583

Copyright
Natalia Elder

The right of
Natalia Elder to be identified as the author has been asserted under the
Copyright
Amendment (Morals Act) Act 2000.

This work is
copyright. Apart from any use as permitted under the
Copyright Act 1968
,
no part shall be reproduced by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying,
recording, scanning or otherwise, without prior written permission of the
publisher.

A catalogue
record for this book is available from the National Library of Australia.

Book Cover
Design by Mitch Mottley

Formatting by
Tim Edler

First Edition
2016

Publisher’s
Address:

Elderrat
Publishers

P.O. Box 3385

Loganholme
Queensland 4129

Author
Contacts:

Email:
[email protected]

Website:
www.nataliaelder.com

ISBN: (pbk)
978 – 0 – 9925554 – 2 - 9

(ebk) 978 – 0
– 9925554 – 3 -6

Dear
Lovely Reader

I’m delighted to bring you my first romance novel set in
the majestic, rural Darling Downs located on the western side of the Great
Dividing Range which amazingly runs down the entire eastern side of Australia.

After watching many seasons of an Australian Television
Show,
A Farmer Wants a Wife
and often seeing many countrymen fail to
attract someone into making a life with them on their farms, I began to think
what would it take for a woman to stay long enough to fall in love with these hunky
farmers?

Having had many farm stays in the lush countryside
west of Toowoomba, the City of Flowers, I figured she would need to be
burnt-out and had her heart broken. She’d need to slow down and have the three
ingredients for a happy life – something to do, someone to love and something
to hope for. Along came Kirra who was in need of those things but she’d become
a workaholic and needed to learn to trust again after a hapless marriage.

Jared is patient and kind and also heartbroken. He is doing
his best to look after his aging mother and young son after his wife died in
dubious circumstances. He is so used to doing everything, so he’s had no time
to think about himself.

With the help of well-meaning friends, family and the
tempest of Mother Nature, these two fiercely-independent people learn to rely
on each other. When sparks fly and chemistry between them becomes concentrated
by isolation, these two have no choice but to work through their demons and
learn to love again.

I hope you enjoy Jared and Kirra love story as much as
I did writing it. Please feel free to leave a book review on Amazon.com and I
would love to hear from my lovely readers on Twitter or my website:
www.nataliaelder.com.

Until next time,

Happy reading!

Love Natx

 

 

Dedication

To my husband, Shane for being my lover, friend and
champion sharing this wonderful life of ours. It isn’t easy living with a
writer whose head is often in the clouds. I’m so glad you love tinkering in
your man cave!

Acknowledgements

This book has been a long time coming. A finalist in the
RWA 5 Day Intensive, I was lucky enough to spend five glorious days at Griffith
University home and work commitment free to concentrate on polishing The
Outback Cattleman’s Hired Wife to publishing standard for reader’s enjoyment.
My huge thanks goes to Marion Lennox, my Script Editor who brought more depth
to my stoic hero and upgraded my dairy farm knowledge, having been raised on
one herself. My 5DI Writer’s Group, most of whom are now famous romance authors,
also deserve an honourable mention for their support and encouragement in this
solitary profession.

I’d also like to acknowledge my Gold Coast Writer’s
Groups with their generous patron, Helen Bianchin who taught all of us the
craft of romance writing and more importantly, the art of re-writing!
‘10%Talent/ 90% Perseverance,’ was one of her many mantras. Thanks for decades
of friendship and support, amazing ladies.

To my fabulous Script Editors, Roger Dunn and Luke
Valais for their continuous fine editing skills and insight into heroic
behaviour.

To my wonderful Beta readers, Penny Wilson, Luke
Valais and Vanessa South for their generous amounts of time, wise counsel and
ability to pick a plot hole a mile away when I was too close to the story.

To the talented team at Elderrat Publishers, thanks
heaps - Mitch Mottley (Graphic Designer) and Tim Edler (Software Engineer).

To my long-time friends, The Pocock Family for opening
their home and dairy farm for many enjoyable Farm Stays and for the inspiration
you provided in this book, especially the wonderful singalongs around the
Pianola.

Last but not least, I like to thank my awesome family.
Without their constant support, this book would not have been possible. Thanks,
Shane, Timothy, Joel and dog, Penny for all that you do. I love you all.

Prologue

‘HEY KIRRA!’ ELISE, Kirra Whitely’s best friend and
colleague chortled as she bounced with excitement on her chair across the aisle
of the Brisbane Bulletin newsroom.

‘I don’t want to know,’
Kirra snapped, focused intently on the climax of her controversial article
about High-Rise Property Investments impinging on Brisbane suburbia. ‘I’m
busy!’

Elise ignored her protest
as always. ‘Another one of those outrageous personal ads just came in,’ she
prattled on. ‘I think he might be the one for you.’

The bombshell dropped and
landed on her exhausted mind. ‘Huh?’

‘He’s a Capricorn. You’re
a Virgo. They get on famously and the sex is amazing!’

The explosion came and she was forced to tear her eyes
away from her computer screen. ‘What are you talking about?’

Elise’s eager face brightened. ‘I knew sex would grab
your attention. You’ve buried yourself for too long in your work. I think it’s
time you met a new man.’

Kirra rocked back on her swivel chair and gave her
piercing stare. ‘Do you now? Zac’s only been gone a year and a half. I’m not
through the grieving process yet.’

Elise dropped her shoulders. ‘Oh come on, just listen.
It can’t hurt.’

Old excuses ran through her head. How many times had
Elise tried to set her up on a blind date? Well-meaning, of course, but
unwanted. She sighed wearily. Nothing fresh came to mind that she hadn’t said a
dozen times before. She reluctantly gave Elise her undivided attention.

‘Great!’ Elise grinned. ‘Here goes . . . Capricorn
gentleman, thirty-five, tall, dark and handsome with young son requires
attractive, intelligent lady, twenty-seven to thirty-three for wife and mother.
Must want to settle down on a farm. Genuine ladies only need call for
interview. Phone -   And I’ve just checked out the number.  It’s
Jared Glengarry!  You know how rich that guy is? Why’s he advertising for
a wife?  Even if you’re not interested, it’s the story of a lifetime!’

Kirra laughed. ‘Oh come on, Elise. He can’t be
serious. Who advertises for a wife and mother in a

newspaper like
it’s a job?’

A cheeky glint lit up Elise’s eyes. ‘Why don’t you
find out?’

Kirra’s investigative mind stirred. ‘I might just do
that. Give me the ad.’

Chapter One

‘YOU’RE DOING BEAUTIFULLY, girl,’
Jared soothed, as he gently pressed his boot on the tractor’s accelerator.
‘I’ll soon have your calf delivered safely.’

The standing cow’s
girth shuddered in the throes of another contraction and she lowed tiredly and
in obvious pain.

Jared’s heart went
out to her. The cow had been in labour for several hours. Earlier in the day,
he was glad he’d made the decision to steer her into the barn out of the
now-torrential rain which beat like a thousand hens tapping out a River Dance
on the tin roof.

Jared kept one eye
on the cow and the other on the ropes that were tied around the hind hooves of
the larger-than-normal calf. A difficult birth, the calf in breach position was
hard enough, but to manage alone took all of his Veterinarian skills. A
C-Section was out-of-the-question, using the tractor was his only option now to

pull the calf out and save them both.

Wrenching on the
handbrake, Jared jumped down and edged slowly towards the rear end of the cow.
The back of the calf’s head was crowning. He slid his hands into the birth
canal and eased the head and ears out. Taking the weight of the calf in his
arms, the fore hooves were ejected from the cow on one last contraction along
with the after-birth.

Laying the calf
down on hay, he scooped the fluid out of its mouth and removed the sac around
it. Relieved, he breathed in deeply and massaged the black and white heifer,
while he quietly muttered, ‘She’s alright, girl. Come see.’ And with that, he
stood back and gave the mother some privacy to clean and nurture her newborn.

Birth was always
miraculous to Jared and he grinned to himself as he boarded the tractor and
drove to the far end of the barn where he parked it. It was only then that he
registered the hunger pangs gurgling in his stomach. With his two farm hands
off sick today, he’d had his work cut out for him since dawn and he vaguely
remembered feeding Jesse and grabbing a crust of bread on his way out of the
homestead.

He was glad of the
solitude. Glad that his mother and son had gone to the beach for the last week
of the school holidays. He’d miss them of course, but having some down time
would give him a chance to reflect on the best way forward for him and his
small family.

Maybe it was time
for him to marry again. The

nagging thought at the back of his mind had taken
shape ever since his friend, Harry had mentioned it at the last barn dance. But
he’d been out of the dating game for so long, he didn’t even know where to
begin. And then, an even deeper thought surfaced. Did he actually deserve a
second chance at love after what had happened to Heather?

Clearing his mind,
Jared washed his hands thoroughly in the sink inside the barn. After slipping
on his oilskin coat, he jammed on his leather hat. Once he’d seen to the calf
and mother, food was his next priority.

Grabbing the
leather reins, he swung up easily into the saddle of his grey stallion. He
cursed himself for not taking out the utility truck this morning. From the look
of the murky water seeping into the edges of the barn there was quite the
possibility of snakes swimming about. Still if he stuck to the gravelled road,
slightly higher than the pastures, he should make it back to the homestead
alright.

Licking his lips
and lost in the thought of a big and very late continental breakfast - eggs,
bacon, grilled tomato, sausage, tea, toast and maybe a little marmalade - he
rounded the back of the barn and spied an unfamiliar car parked out the front
of the homestead.

Who’d be silly
enough to come out here in this weather? The thought hammered on his weary
mind. Without another thought, he clicked his tongue quickly

to encourage his horse to pick up speed. Well whoever
it was, he’d hoped they’d eaten because he wasn’t about to share his meal. He’d
get rid of them quick smart, he decided and down his meal-for-one before the
cows wandered in for the evening milking session.

 


Where is the cattleman?

Kirra Whitely sighed with impatience even though
staying power and tenacity made her the most head-hunted journalist in South-East
Queensland.

She glanced at her watch for the third time in so many
minutes. Jared Glengarry was already an hour late for his interview. Honestly,
how did he expect anyone to take his ad for a wife and a mother for his son
seriously if he couldn

t even be bothered turning up?

A vet-cum-dairy farmer, he belonged to the Billionaire

s Club through shrewd investments on the short-term
money market. Oh she

d done her research. He was a widower of two years.
There was an eight year old son, Caleb and controversy over his wife

s death by drowning. He

d made the newspapers then.

She

d had the notion
that she could offer him empathy, as she’d lost her husband not that long ago.
Guilt continued to torture her. Could she have done something - anything to
prevent his death? Maybe, Glengarry also had a tortured soul.

Her leather ankle-length boot tapped out a rapid

tattoo on the
varnished, timber verandah where she sat on a white wicker chair out front of
the sprawling Queensland colonial-style homestead.

The Australian, rural area of the Darling Downs was
majestic. Green pastures and crops were spread across the landscape, vibrant
against the purple hue of the Great Dividing Mountain Range. Normally it would
have a calming effect on Kirra, but today, her nerves were on edge. If he didn

t show up soon. . .

What a goose she felt leaving her mobile phone on the
charger this morning! She wanted to ring her editor and share her annoyance,
but instead she

d have to wait two hours to give him

what-for

.

It was spitting before, but now the rain was bucketing
down.  She didn

t relish the thought of driving back to Brisbane
especially on the winding roads through the mountains.

How could the events of last Thursday have landed her
in this impossible position?
 

When Kirra had rung the house, she hadn’t even spoken
with the man! It was his mother who had answered and told her that he was out
tending the cattle. His mother had painted her son to be a wonderful father.
She’d been intrigued as to why a wealthy man hadn’t remarried and was working
on the land but couldn’t bring herself to ask her. She knew she needed to find
out first hand. In the end, Glengarry’s mother had offered her

a two-week stay to
see if she’d like living on a farm and give them time to get to know each other. 
‘I’ll be here,’ she’d said.  ‘You can be my guest.’

Her editor had said, ‘Go for it!’ He’d practically
ordered her out the door. She’d packed a couple of suitcases. But wisely, she’d
left them in the boot of her Subaru four-wheel-drive when she’d arrived.

What a complete waste of her time! She was about to
leave when she spotted movement. The vision appeared almost like a movie scene,
expert rider and courageous steed galloping towards her parting the mist that
rolled down from the mountains in billowing great clouds.

It was winter in sub-tropical Queensland. Cooler than
expected, a breeze chilled her to the bone. Her linen skirt suit and silk
blouse weren’t anywhere near warm enough and shivers coursed down her spine
like someone had just walked over her grave. An ominous feeling gripped her and
she shifted uncomfortably in her chair. Maybe, jeans and a t-shirt would have
been a better choice of clothing and she kicked herself for not taking her
jacket out of her suitcase before leaving Brisbane. It was definitely warmer on
the coast, but she couldn

t worry about that now she was here and he was almost
on the doorstep.

Her keen eyes widened at the man whom she

d assumed was Glengarry, but looked like a colonial

bushranger. Clad
in oil-skin coat, leather hat and boots, he looked more intent on storming the
homestead than someone about to conduct an interview.

Water splashed under the hooves of the huge, grey
horse that galloped at lightning speed, expertly controlled.

Stone-faced, Jared reined the horse into an abrupt
halt under the rolled aluminum awning.

If today wasn

t testing
enough, now he had to deal with this unexpected visitor. He really needed to
treat the several cows with foot-rotted hooves he

d noticed this morning. The evening milking was about to start. In this
weather, how on earth he was going to get three hundred cows milked in under
three hours with the Miller boys off sick?

Somehow, he

d manage.

He swallowed hard and tightened his grip on the
reins.  In one smooth action, he levered his body off the horse and landed
on the ground, muddy water splashing his knee-high boots.

Kirra took in the narrowed, steely-blue eyes, the
ruggedly-handsome, tanned face and the determined set of his jaw.  His
leather hat was jammed tightly on collar-length dark hair. He certainly wasn

t going to win any hearts if his temperament was grim.

She stood and strode over to the wooden railing. Her
eyes were drawn to his large, leather-gloved hands

as he tethered the
horse to one of the vertical posts.

The breeze strengthened as he straightened and turned
towards her. His coat flapped open to reveal a blue-checked shirt and
well-worn, hip-hugging jeans. His jeans fitted his strong, solid body with a
snugness that accelerated her heartbeat and started an unwanted curl of heat in
her belly. Sexy Capricorn! Dammit Elise …

Kirra folded her arms across her chest to brace
herself against the cold and to unconsciously prepare her for the widower in
question she was about to meet.

‘Hi!
I

m Kirra Whitely,

Kirra said, with a confidence of being well-rehearsed
in meeting strangers.

I

m here for the
interview. It was for two o

clock and I

ve -

she stopped when
his eyes met hers with a sceptical stare.

To her surprise, he bounded up the steps, removed the
soft leather glove from his right hand and held it out.

Kirra thrust out her hand and saw it disappear in his
firm, but brief handshake. She pulled her hand away as if it had been scorched
and a spark of sexual awareness feathered through her blood.

Kirra blinked, the shock of her body

s traitorous reaction warred with her sensibilities.
Her mouth went dry and her tongue felt swollen. Desperately trying to calm her
thoughts, she eyed him levelly and waited for his introduction.


Jared Glengarry,

he said,
his tone deep and

matter-of-fact.

I

m afraid mother left this morning. Aunt Joyce, her
sister has taken another turn. Her rheumatoid arthritis has flared up again.


I

m here about the
ad.  Did she tell you I was coming?


No. What ad?

  He sighed
and wiped his face wearily with his hand. 

Okay, another one. Fine.

A wave of anger rose in the back of Kirra’s throat,
but the consummate professional she was, she dampened it down.
   


Mother

s memory isn

t so good anymore,

he told
her in a more even tone.

She

ll be back by the
end of the week.

Kirra

s mouth fell open.

End of the week!


Mm, that

s been the
norm for the past few bouts.

His tall, solid
form turned around. He strode over to the double glass-panelled front doors and
pushed them open.

Come in out of the wind. You look cold.


I am,

she said. A
bone-chilling shiver racked her body and she wondered if fear of the unknown
wasn

t part of its intensity.

I have a leather jacket in one of the suitcases in my
car,

she croaked out breathlessly,

but the rain is now relentless.

BOOK: The Outback Cattleman's Hired Wife
10.48Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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