by Cathryn Hein
A compelling rural romance, with a healthy sprinkling of suspense and family drama.
Jasmine Thomas should feel safe in her cosy cottage at Admella Beach after finally putting an end to an ill-advised romance. But her perfect sanctuary is shattered with the arrival of hand-delivered threatening notes. Someone has discovered her secret.
When the notes escalate to vandalism, Jasmine’s anxiety rises. But in such a small place, telling the police would mean the whole town finding out.
Digby Wallace-Jones is stumbling through the motions of life, wrapped in a fog of grief since his fiancée Felicity died. Withdrawn from his family, Digby doesn’t care about anything beyond his loss. But in a chance meeting with Jasmine, his sister’s best friend who he’s known forever, even he can see the tension she carries. Worried and feeling protective, he continues to drop by, but it’s more than that. Jasmine soothes him; and, unlike the rest of his family, he can talk to her about his pain without fear of judgement. But as much as he likes Jasmine, Digby’s enduring love for Felicity means he has nothing left to give and he pushes Jasmine away.
Jasmine knew they were supposed to stay friends ‘with excellent benefits’ but she can’t help her wayward heart from falling for this tortured, kind and sexy man. How can she ever loosen the grip Felicity’s memory has on Digby’s soul and remind him he still has a life ahead of him?
Excerpt from Wayward Heart by Cathryn Hein
‘Can I ask you something?’
Digby eyed her, then looked away, shrugging.
‘If I wanted to put a lock on my gate, what would be the best way to do it?’
Digby swung back. ‘Why would you want to lock your gate?’
This time it was Jasmine’s turn to avoid his gaze and shrug. ‘Just a question.’
He kept up his study. Jasmine was his sister’s best friend. She’d been a fixture at Camrick and the Wallace property at Rocking Horse Hill since he was a boy, invited to all but the most intimate of family events. He knew her. Jasmine was fun, warm and welcoming. Locking her gate? That didn’t fit.
What also didn’t fit was the fatigue showing on her pretty face. Her normally healthy pink skin was pale, making the bruised circles under her eyes appear even darker, and her shoulders had a defeated sag. Jasmine had always been proudly large-chested and never shied from showing her assets off, plus years of riding show horses had given her a straight-backed posture. Today her body was so hunched it was as if she were in hiding, or protecting herself.
Digby felt a stir of worry. ‘What’s up, Jas?’
‘Nothing. Nothing at all.’ But she refused to look at him.
He observed her for a few moments longer and let it go. What did he care about her secrets? He had enough of his own to worry about. He leaned forward as though to press himself to his feet, and felt a hand on his arm.
‘Stay? A bit longer?’ She waved her half-eaten sandwich. ‘At least until I’ve finished this?’
Digby frowned at the need in her tone and nodded, but there was tension now. The tension of his unspoken questions and the puzzle of what she was hiding.
‘What sort of latch is it?’ he asked after a while.
‘Hook and eye. I was thinking just a padlock over the hook would do.’
‘Probably. You could also fit a bike chain, running from the gate around the strainer post.’
She chewed on that. ‘That might be easiest. One of those ones with a combination lock so I don’t have to worry about a key.’
‘Won’t stop anyone climbing the fence though.’
‘No,’ she said softly, staring at the lunchbox rested on her lap, ‘it won’t. But it might be enough.’
‘Enough for what?’ When she didn’t answer he prodded again. ‘Jas?’