His Ring, Her Baby

By: Maxine Sullivan

One




We’ve sold the motel.

Vanessa Hamilton was still reeling from her cousin’s news when she looked up and saw a luxury Range Rover pull up out front of the Jackaroo Plains Motel.

She groaned, wishing she could go think about her situation without interruption from either telephones or guests. Her son was taking his morning nap right now so the timing would have been perfect. She was pleased for Linda and Hugh, of course. It was what they wanted. But she’d only been here three weeks and had planned on staying at least six months.

And right now she had to put all her worry aside as she watched the man push open the glass door. Lord, he was certainly handsome enough to take any woman’s mind off her problems.

Or create one.

No one had taught her about these three Rs in school.

Rich.

Rugged.

Red-blooded.

He epitomized everything she imagined a wealthy outback male to be. From the tips of his brown leather boots, to bone-colored trousers and the light blue polo shirt a woman was tempted to rub against, to his wrist where an expensive Rolex glistened in the light.

He stopped in front of the reception desk, his blue eyes filling with masculine appreciation. “You’re new here,” he drawled.

She lifted her chin, annoyed with herself for finding him attractive. “Are you looking for a room?” she asked in her best no-nonsense voice, already knowing they had nothing suitable. The Plaza Hotel in New York was more his style.

Those blue eyes narrowed on her. “No.”

“If you’re looking to eat in the restaurant—”

“I’m not.”

“You’re not here for the gardener’s job, are you?” she said, knowing it sounded ridiculous but one never knew.

His low chuckle resonated with something inside her. Something she didn’t want to acknowledge.

“No, I’m not here for that, either.”

Suddenly she noticed his gaze dart to her left hand, noting her bare fingers. Uneasiness fluttered inside her stomach that he might think her single and available. It had been weird taking off her rings, but the heat had made her fingers swell a little and the alternative had been to have the rings adjusted. She hadn’t wanted to do that, seeing her fingers would return to normal once she returned to Sydney.

Just like she would return to normal, she had promised herself, realizing now it might happen sooner than expected. Oh, God, she didn’t want to go back to the city where her wealthy parents-in-law doted on her one-year-old son, Josh.

More than doted.

Smothered.

“I came to see Linda and Hugh,” the man said, drawing her back to the present.

The penny dropped. He was the new owner of the motel. Oh, yes, that explained him. Her cousin said he was rich, predatory, and sucked up failing businesses like a vacuum cleaner, then got rid of half the staff under the guise of modernization.

Well, officially she wasn’t on the staff.

She gave him a cool look. “They’re not here.”

“Where are they?”

“Dubbo.”

There was a moment’s pause. “When will they be back?”

“No idea.”

One brow lifted, a questioning light in his eyes. “Are you always this helpful?”

“Only when it’s part of the job,” she said with a politeness that was nothing more than lip service.

His jaw set. “Look, I’m a friend of Linda and Hugh’s and—”

Her heart thudded. “A…a friend?”

“Yes, Hugh and I went to boarding school together.”

“Oh, I thought—” She stopped. Perhaps Linda and Hugh didn’t want it known yet that they were selling.

“Yes?”

“It doesn’t matter.” It all made sense now. She could easily see the two men being friends. Hugh’s parents owned a cattle station, but Hugh had been more interested in business than the land and had bought the motel for him and Linda.

Did this man own a cattle station, too? He certainly looked like one of the wealthy landowners.

“The name’s Kirk, by the way,” he said, snapping her from her thoughts. “Kirk Deverill.”

His name flowed over her. Why couldn’t he be called Bruce? Or Darryl? Something that didn’t sound so masculine or make a woman think about him as a man.

She let out a shaky breath. “I’m Linda’s cousin. Vanessa Hamilton.”

He paused, as if putting the name to her face and liking what he saw. Then his eyes fell to her lips. “I didn’t know Linda had such a beautiful cousin.”

She gave a soft gasp. Why did this man’s words make her knees weak when almost every available male in town, and some not so available, had said the same thing since her arrival?

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