Someone Like You

By: Victoria Purman

Dan didn’t move. There was no sweep of his arm to invite her inside, out of the still blazing early evening heat and the whipping wind. No smile of welcome or acknowledgment. And he wasn’t so much looking at her, as through her, barely any recognition in his face that they were acquaintances. Distant acquaintances, she corrected herself.

Not a bad match, she realised. He didn’t want her there and she didn’t want to be there. Perfect.

‘Here. Take it,’ she said. ‘It’s food. Really good food.’

He wasn’t to be tempted.

Lizzie pulled off her sunglasses and tipped her head back to take a good look at him. Dark bags under his eyes were smudged like fading bruises and his cheekbones anchored hollows where flesh should have been. And, while beards were currently au courant in European fashion magazines and on the skinny faces of alternative musicians, Lizzie decided his grey-flecked version looked like he’d been stranded on a desert island for three months.

Which was exactly how long it had been since his car accident. Bloody hell. A wave of remorse at her rush to judge him rose up in her throat and she swallowed it away.

And then she wasn’t quite sure what to do. Dan had been through so much in the past few months that it felt selfish to be annoyed with him. How should she handle this stranger? For that’s what he seemed to her now. Her tongue tripped into jumpy overtime.

‘Just take the food, Dan. It’s really delicious. Or so the chef tells me. It’s been our most popular dinner order, which is crazy considering it must still be thirty-five degrees out here. You’d better eat it while it’s hot, so here you go.’ Lizzie looked down at the bag and held it further towards him to indicate he should take it from her, but still he didn’t react. His tall body slumped against the doorway and his big hand gripped the doorknob as if it was the only thing keeping him upright.

Lizzie noticed a passing glance at the food before his eyes travelled slowly up her body in a lazy trawl. Well, there was something about him she did recognise. He’d looked at her like that before. And damn it if it didn’t have the same affect on her pulse.

‘Take it away. I don’t want it.’ Dan reached up to his chin and rubbed his beard.

Lizzie clenched her teeth. Keeping her promise to Ry wasn’t going to be quite as straightforward as she’d imagined. How many kinds of stubborn was Dan McSwaine anyway, she wondered. God forbid. What man in his right mind would knock back a free meal?

She bit back her frustration and tried another approach. ‘Well, now I’ve got a problem. My boss – and your very stubborn best friend – wants me to leave this with you since all you can cook is toast, apparently.’

Dan’s eyes flashed and, for the first time, met hers.

‘Ry thinks I’ve been living off toast?’

She didn’t blink. ‘Ry seems to think you’re fading away.’ Lizzie checked for evidence. She hadn’t quite noticed before that the faded blue T-shirt was stretched tight over his broad shoulders and strong arms, clinging to the muscles of his chest – and lower – as if the shirt was wet. Fading away may have been a slight exaggeration.

‘Tell Ry to back off.’ Dan’s voice was tight in his throat, as if it hurt to share it with anyone else. ‘No, fuck it, I’ll tell him myself.’

And then he took a step in retreat and slammed the wooden door in Lizzie’s face. The force of it rattled the windows all along the front of the little house.

Lizzie stared in disbelief. Asked herself if what had just happened had actually just happened. Her first instinct was to push the door open and unload every curse word she knew in response to his rudeness. She’d worked in pubs a long time and had a ready supply of true-blue Aussie expressions to choose from. Each of them quite satisfying.

But when that rush of blood to the head faded, and it only took a few seconds, she decided to trust her second instinct, which was to leave him alone.

She left the food on the front door mat and walked away, back along the esplanade to the pub.

Dan pushed aside the sheer curtain from the sea-sprayed front windows, just enough to watch Elizabeth Blake’s arse as she walked down his driveway and onto the street. Her swaying curves were covered with a simple white T-shirt and sand-coloured skirt and he knew the hat was hiding hair cut short like a pixie’s. It was blonde, he remembered, but not the kind you got from a bottle. It was a kind of a golden blonde. Maybe it was the southern sun that had given it that shiny glow.

▶ Also By Victoria Purman

▶ Last Updated

▶ Hot Read

▶ Recommend

Top Books