The Unexpected Husband(9)

By: Lindsay Armstrong

She’d returned to this room and this single bed after a year of marriage, and some days it was hard to believe she’d ever left it.

She and Brad had met at university, he’d been studying economics, and the first thing to draw them together had been their common although unusual surname. But the attraction had been almost instantaneous, and mutual. It had also been a revelation to Lydia, because he’d been her first serious boyfriend, and to find someone she clicked with so completely had been totally unexpected.

To fall so much in love when she’d expected to spend

her university years working hard to achieve her career goals had also been disconcerting, but that had been another wonderful part of their relationship. They’d been quite happy to allow each other the space to study.

So, after two years, and before she had graduated— although he had, and had joined an eminent firm of stockbrokers—they’d got man-led, got themselves a small flat and had a year of idyllic happiness.

It had been a matter of surprise to many, her family included, that she should have been the first sister to marry, and so young.

He’d been such fun, she thought sadly, the night be fore she went—not to Queensland, although via it to the Northern Territory. Not that you’d necessarily have known that behind his glasses and his computer-like brain there had lurked a delicious sense of humour. And he’d handled her growing ardour with surprising passion for a man who had always been able to tell you how many points the All Ordinaries or the Dow Jones had gained or dropped overnight.

It wasn’t fair. She’d thought it so many times, when her body had ached physically for him, and her mind had yearned for the warmth, tenderness and laughter they’d generated together.

She’d also suffered the growing conviction it would never happen for her that way again. So that, despite their good intentions, she hated it when people told her it was time to think of failing in love again—even her

own sister.    I

She brushed steadily for a few minutes, trying to com pose herself, and finally found some relief from her sad thoughts coming from an unusual direction - . .Joe Jordan and his hints that she was not as feminine as her gorgeous sister.

She put the brush down and studied herself in the mirror. What would he have thought, she mused, if he’d known that under her suit she’d been wearing—these?

‘These’, beneath her velvet robe, were a midnight- blue silk camisole deeply edged with lace and a match ing pair of panties.

She stood up, opened her robe and, putting her hands on her hips, twirled slowly in front of the mirror. True, she conceded to her image, she was not like Daisy, who had an hourglass figure, but—how had Brad put it? Beneath her clothes she was slim, sleek and surprisingly sensuous, and her legs were to die for.

Of course, she told herself as she sat down again and grinned at herself, what appeals to one man may not appeal to another! And although her clothes were some times mannish it was only for comfort, and they were beautifully made. She also had a passion for shoes and bags and the finest lingerie.

So there, Mr Jordan, she thought, and was tempted to stick out her tongue at a mental image of him.

Then she sobered and wondered what on earth she was thinking. Only minutes ago she’d been consumed by sadness and the unfairness of fate—how could she be thinking of another man? A man her sister might be in love with—might even have slept with, moreover.

She closed her eyes and clenched her hands until Brad came back to her in her mind, and she remembered how he’d loved to cook, but had been quite hopeless at clear ing up after himself...


SEvERAL days later she was winging her way to Katerina Station in the Victoria River District of the Northern Territory, five hundred kilometres south of Darwin. She’d flown first to Townsville, to spend two days with Brad’s parents in North Queensland, then on to Darwin to spend a day in the veterinary science department of the Northern Territory University.

The vet she was filling in for, although not precisely as a vet, was a friend from university, Tim Patterson. They’d kept in touch over the years, and several months ago he’d written to tell her that he was taking a break from his practice and doing something he’d always wanted to do—joining a mustering team on a cattle sta tion where not only his horsemanship but his veterinary expertise would be useful.