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Authors: Victoria Purman

Tags: #Fiction, #Contemporary Women, #Romance, #Contemporary

Nobody but Him

BOOK: Nobody but Him
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Nobody But Him

Victoria Purman

About the Author

When Victoria Purman woke up one day and realised she’d spent most of her working life writing for other people, she decided it was finally time to tell stories of her own. She’s worked as a speech-writer, a television and radio journalist, a public servant, a publicist, a communications consultant and a political adviser. Not to mention mum, chef, taxi driver, volunteer and problem-solver. She now very much enjoys creating dialogue and happy-ever-afters for her imaginary characters. Her
Boys of Summer
trilogy is set on the south coast of her home state of South Australia, somewhere she feels compelled to do a lot of research. When she’s not writing, Victoria spends time with her husband, three sons, a disobedient dog, her loving, extended family and dear friends. She is still determined to learn how to surf.

Acknowledgements

Not only does it take a village to raise a child, it takes one to write a book.

Sure, I did the typing and was forced to stare at pictures of

handsome men all in the name of research, but I feel as if I’ve had a whole mountain of people holding my hand along the way.

To all the amazing friends with whom my family has shared good times, million dollar days and wine down on the Fleurieu Peninsula, especially Peter and Debbie Oag. Here’s to many more glasses of champagne on the beach at sunset.

To my partner-in-writing Jessie Byrne. Thank you for your honesty, encouragement and friendship, but especially for the laughs.

To the Australian romance writing community and the many new friends I’ve made. What unconditional support and encouragement I’ve received from you all.

To my number one fan Emma Purman, and to my mother-in-law Vilma Halliday for your friendship and shared love of books.

To my editor Jody Lee. You made this first-time experience way less nerve-wracking than I thought it would be. I’ll always remember your words of encouragement and thank you so much for waving your magic wand over the manuscript.

To Ethan, Ned and Clancy. For putting up with me when I’m grumpy. For the title suggestions (that’s you, Clancy) and for your love, hugs and jokes. Guys, I hope Mum’s adventure has inspired you to find out what you really love and go for it.

To my husband Stephen. Over the years, whenever I’ve lamented, “Why isn’t
my
book on the shelves?” he would always reply, “Because you haven’t written it yet, honey.” You were right. So I did! Thank you for the gift of time that you’ve given me to pursue this dream.

Finally, I’d like to sincerely thank Haylee Nash, Cristina Lee and Lilia Kanna from Harlequin Australia for loving this book and wanting more. I’m sure you’ve all heard it more than once, but you can’t know how much that meant to me. Thank you for welcoming me to the Harlequin family.

Dear Reader

Who hasn’t harboured a secret fantasy about running away from it all to a sleepy beachside town, where summers never end and the coastal air blows
the cobwebs from your mind, taking the stress and problems of city life with it? The fresh air, the long walks, the sun, the relaxed mood, that feeling that you’re on holidays all year round?

What’s not to love!

That’s something I wanted to explore in
Nobody But Him
. My characters are at a point in their lives where they have to make some big decisions about who they want to be, where they want to live and whether they’ll open their hearts to love.

My fictional town of Middle Point is set on the very real and stunning coastline of South Australia’s Fleurieu Peninsula. It’s a place I know and adore and I hope I’ve captured just what makes it so special. As you turn the pages and get to know my characters, I hope you’ll let yourself be whisked away to the beach, smell the salt in the air and feel the warming sun on your face.

This is the first book in my
Boys of Summer
trilogy and I hope you’ll enjoy the first story of Ry and Julia, who meet for the first time in fifteen years back in the place they found love one summer.

I may be a writer, but I’m also a reader, and I know how hard it can be to find some precious time to escape into reading, so
thank you
from the bottom of my heart for choosing
Nobody But Him
. The fact that you are holding a book in your hands with my name on the cover is still a miracle to me. The fact that you want to read it? A double bonus!

I would love to hear from readers so please find me at www.victoriapurman.com, on facebook at
Victoria Purman Author
or on twitter @VictoriaPurman.

Happy reading!

Victoria

 

 

To my mum Emma Purman who, if it’s possible, is more excited
about this book than I am.

Contents

About the Author

Acknowledgements

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

Chapter 27

Chapter 28

Chapter 29

Chapter 30

Chapter 31

Chapter 32

CHAPTER
1

‘Excuse me waitress!’

Caught between two dining chairs with a tray of half-empty glasses perched precariously in the air, Julia Jones stopped, drew in a breath and rolled her eyes towards the ceiling.
Honest to God, I might be new at this hospitality game, but if I hear that one more time.
She had a vision of tipping the slurry of warm beer all over the patron’s designer-denim-clad arse.

Instead, Julia caught her temper in her throat, created a sickly smile and turned.

‘I’m
so
sorry to have kept you waiting.’

One look at the table of diners in front of her had her stifling a giggle. They appeared to have stepped straight out of the pages of
Country Life
magazine. There was lots of tweed and corduroy and was she imagining it, or was that a designer trench coat draped on the back of an empty chair? She knew their type instinctively. Adelaide people, down in the South Australian coastal town of Middle Point for the weekend, who figured a trip out of the capital meant they had to dress for the part. Unfortunately for them, they got the wrong memo.

This was the beach, not the country. Julia knew their wallets would be bulging from trust funds and successful jobs. Not that she was into crass generalisations or anything. They just saved time.

Scanning the table she wondered which of the women sitting there had called her
waitress.
She figured it was the younger of the two, natural blonde hair, of course, pert, pretty, privileged, perfectly symmetrical features.
The Princess.

Julia hardened her smile. ‘I’ll just take these empties back to the bar and I’ll be right with you.’ She bumped her way from chair to chair through the crowded Saturday night dining room, taking care to steady her tray as she went. The happy and relaxed conversations of the other diners in the century old pub weren’t enough to drown out the hoity-toity complaints from what looked like Lord and Lady Muck and The Princess.

‘Can you believe the service here? That waitress was positively rude. Mum, did you see the look on her face?’

Julia could hear The Princess winding up for a full display of outraged condescension but gritted her teeth and kept walking. Blowing badly behaved tendrils of curly brown hair from her eyes, she approached the bar, behind which stood her best and oldest childhood friend Lizzie Blake, pouring a round of drinks.

Lizzie’s wry smile revealed she’d heard everything. ‘Don’t let ’em get to you, Jools.’ Lizzie reached behind her for a chilled bottle of water. ‘You’re doing a brilliant job.’ Lizzie threw her a huge grin and a dramatic wink and handed her the tray of drinks she’d just prepared. ‘Here. Back you go.’

Julia narrowed her eyes and leaned on the bar. ‘This is all your fault, you know.’

‘I know, I know, you are doing me a massive favour. If my regular waitress hadn’t come down with the
worst flu of all time
,’ Lizzie mimed quote marks in the air, ‘I wouldn’t have begged you for help.’

‘If you weren’t my BFF, there’s no way I would’ve taken this gig serving drinks and food, however delicious, to wankers like the people at table thirteen.’

‘I owe you, Julia. Big time, obviously. What say I cook good old spaghetti bolognese tomorrow night? Would that make it up to you?’

‘You’re playing dirty now.’ Julia managed a smile but couldn’t hide the tears welling in her eyes at the mention of her mother’s favourite recipe. She reached across to squeeze Lizzie’s hand. Lizzie squeezed hers right back.

‘Give me those drinks, you slave-driver.’

‘You know how grateful I am for this, Jools. You’ve got me out of a really tight spot.’

‘Yeah, yeah.’ Julia arched her eyebrows and smiled as she picked up the tray. ‘And I promise to be super careful so I don’t accidently drop them all in the lap of that pretty young thing over there.’

‘Good girl,’ Lizzie smiled in reply and hurried off to take orders.

The beachside pub was really humming. The winter long weekend had brought more people than usual to the town, everyone relishing the chance of an extra night away from suburbia to relax and take in the sea air. Half the tables were filled with local families in their jeans and warm jumpers, corralling their boisterous children. The regulars propped up the bar, their glasses leaving watery rings on the counter like signatures, while the weekend visitors dominated the end of the dining room closer to the fireplace.
Julia took a second to glance around before asking herself for the tenth time:
what the hell am I doing here?

Two weeks before she’d been sitting in a stylish and dimly lit bistro in Melbourne with her work colleagues, drinking the finest Australian wine. Now she was serving it to the sort of people who’d made her life hell as a teenager in this town. People exactly like Lord and Lady Muck and their Princess, city people with enough spare cash for a holiday home and a couple of European cars. People who were increasingly snatching up every spare piece of land in the beachside strip, sucking up all the nice weather and the good times and fun on holidays and weekends, then leaving when the season turned. She’d spent every summer trying to avoid people like them. And now, here she was, their maidservant. She couldn’t deny that it grated. Big time.

Julia glanced down at her prim white shirt, the boring knee-length black skirt, her black-stockinged legs and sensible black flatties. Black had always been her signature colour. It was
so
Melbourne. It was so
not
Middle Point.

A cackle of laughter pulled her out of herself and snatches of conversation floated above the crowd to her as she made her way back to table thirteen.

‘Country service, honestly.’ The Princess’s voice was like fingernails down a blackboard. ‘I knew we should have gone into Victor Harbor.’

So why didn’t you?
Julia said under her breath as she gripped the tray.

‘Really, Amanda, that’s enough.’

What was that? A male voice, a deep, interesting, admonishing male voice cut right through the complaining. Julia’s ears pricked up.
Sexy guy
, she decided. She manoeuvred to the table and tried to find the possessor of that growl. One look at Lord Muck, with his tan corduroy jacket complete with professorial leather elbow patches, enormous grey eyebrows and sagging cheeks, and she decided it couldn’t be him.

There was another option to choose from.
Mmm, maybe this guy?
A very tall, very broad-shouldered man had moved in front of her and was heading back to his seat. Julia craned her neck to take in his full height, then let her eyes wander down the strong planes of his back, which was barely disguised under a fine knit black jumper. And, oh yes, there was a tight arse and long, long legs covered in dark denim. Eye candy. At last, she thought, and she let herself enjoy the view for a moment longer.
Whoever he was, he was a way better alternative than most of the other blokes in the bar; the check-shirted, baseball-capped locals.

Julia heard another harrumph of annoyance from the table and she snapped out of the perve fest real fast. Her defiance meter cranked up and, on a scale of one to ten, she was going
Spinal Tap
: the full eleven.

‘So sorry to keep you waiting, ladies and gentlemen.’ With perhaps a little too much ironic emphasis on the
ladies and gentlemen
, and maybe a tad excessive in the fake English accent department, Julia lowered the tray onto the edge of the table, using her butt to wedge herself between the two women.

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