The strip of bitumen stretched ahead through the late afternoon gloom, fringed with the straggly trees that were common in this part of the country. Between the trees Joanna could catch glimpses of empty paddocks but there’d been no sign of the red mailbox she had been told to watch for, and she was starting to get anxious. What if she’d missed it?
Where was the piece of paper with Chris’s mud-map? In her handbag, maybe, or somewhere among the clutter of shopping in the back seat. She couldn’t remember what she’d done with it. Should she stop and look for it? No, better keep going. This had to be the right road. But what if she’d misunderstood his directions? She could imagine herself marooned on this lonely road, hungry and cold, in the growing darkness. Would Chris come searching for her? How would he know where to look?
Joanna glanced at the little girl strapped in beside her and took a careful breath, stifling her fears. ‘Mm?’
‘Mummy, has Chris got a pony?’
‘A pony?’ The question came as a surprise, but Joanna tried to answer lightly. ‘I don’t know, lovely. He hasn’t mentioned one to me. I guess you’ll have to wait and see.’
Mia nodded, apparently satisfied. Joanna concentrated on the road again. She eased her grip on the steering wheel, straightening the cramped fingers of one hand, then the other, then lifted her left foot away from the clutch, flexing her ankle.
Two hours ago she’d been waiting for the school bell to signal the end of term. Eager to get on her way, she hadn’t waited for Marshall’s speech and the dreaded sticky cake that Mollie had warned her was an end-of-term ritual. But Mia had been slow coming out of the primary school, and loading up the car and collecting last-minute shopping had taken far longer than she’d expected. If she didn’t find the red mailbox soon, it would be too dark to recognise Chris’s place.
What would happen if she drove straight past? Where would they end up? How much petrol was there in the tank? If she broke down, how far was she from anyone who would help her?
Mia was reading, quite oblivious to her mother’s fears.
Had it been such a good idea to agree to come to the farm? When Chris had suggested it, the visit had seemed like the natural next step in their relationship. It was only now, in the fading light of this autumn evening, that grey doubts were creeping into her heart.
Mia stirred, looking up from her book. ‘What’ll we do on the farm?’
This was a good question, and Joanna tried to answer it, but in truth she wasn’t sure. She’d never visited a farm, let alone stayed on one. ‘Chris will be there.’
Mia considered this. ‘Chris is nice,’ she said.
‘Yes, he is.’ Joanna went on. ‘I’ll be cooking for the builders. And Chris.’ She managed a smile for her daughter. ‘And us, of course.’
Mia smiled back, and resumed reading.
The realisation that she had no clear idea what she was letting herself—and Mia—in for was beginning to frighten Joanna. They were travelling into unknown territory, to be with a man she hardly knew, miles from anywhere.
Still hurting after a painful divorce, Joanna leaves the city, moving with her six-year-old daughter Mia to a country town. She’s looking for a better, happier life, and when she meets farmer Chris Youngman, she discovers the possibility of a future as a farmer’s wife.
Joanna is at first dismayed by the unexpected isolation of the farm, but Chris’s affection helps her to adjust. Then the unexplained death of a young farm worker brings complications she could never have imagined, and Joanna has to fight for her happiness, her family, and even her own life.
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Genre - Contemporary Romance, Thriller
Rating – PG
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