The Fearless Maverick. Robyn Grady
the painkiller kicked in and the screaming in his shoulder became more a raw groan, Alex closed his eyes and eased back against the gurney.
When his shoulder was popped back in and those initial tests were out of the way, he’d set his assistant, Eli Steele, on the case. He needed to find the right physiotherapist for the job. And he needed to find her fast. He’d lost far too much in his life.
God help him, he wasn’t losing this.
AS HER car cruised up a tree-lined drive belonging to one of the most impressive houses she’d ever seen, Libby Henderson blew the long bangs off her brow and again spooled through every one of her ‘I can do this’ and ‘There’s nothing to be nervous about’ affirmations.
As her stomach churned, Libby recalled how not so long ago she’d been a supremely self-confident type. Nothing had frightened her. Nothing had held her back. That verve had propelled her to dizzy heights—a place where she’d felt secure and alive and even admired. Twice Female World Surfing Champion. There were times she still couldn’t believe that fabulous ride had ended the way it had.
From an early age she’d taken to the surf. Libby’s parents had always referred to her as their little mermaid. Growing up she’d trained every minute she could grab—kayaking, swimming, body surfing, as well as honing her skills on a board. Nothing had felt better than the endorphins and burn she’d got from pushing beyond her limits.
Being a world champion had been the ultimate buzz—fabulous sponsors, high-end magazine spreads, the chance to speak with and even coach youngsters eager to surf their way up through the ranks. Out ahead, for as far as she could see, the horizon shone with amazing possibilities. Her accident had changed that.
But, thankfully, there’d been a life after celebrity and elite athlete status, just a different life. When she’d overcome the worst of her accident, she’d thrown herself into the study she’d previously set aside and had attained a Bachelor of Health Sciences in Physiotherapy at Sydney’s Bond University. She was beyond grateful her determination and hard work was paying off—today better than she’d ever dreamed.
As she swerved around the top end of the drive now, Libby recalled this morning’s unexpected phone call. None other than Alex Wolfe, the British-born motor racing champ who’d come to grief at the weekend, had requested her services. Mr Wolfe’s assistant, an efficient-sounding man by the name of Eli Steele, had relayed that he and Mr Wolfe had researched specialists in her profession extensively and had decided that her credentials best suited Mr Wolfe’s current needs with regard to the shoulder injury he’d sustained. Libby had to wonder precisely what credentials Eli referred to.
She worked almost exclusively with injured athletes but she’d never treated anyone near as renowned as this man. Perhaps Alex Wolfe, or his assistant, was aware of her former life, Libby surmised, slotting the auto shift into park and shutting down the engine. But had they dug deep enough to unearth how the final chapter of that part of her life had ended?
After opening the car door, Libby swung her legs out. Pushing to her feet, she surveyed the magnificent ultra-modern home as well as the surrounding pristine lawns and gardens. Rendered white with ultramarine and hardwood trims, the Rose Bay double-storey mansion spanned almost the entire width of the vast block. She imagined numerous bedrooms, each with their own en suite and spa bath. An indoor heated pool would provide luxurious laps during winter while an Olympic-size outdoor pool with trickling water features and, perhaps, a man-made beach would be the go during Sydney’s often scorching summer months.
Straightening the jacket of her cream and black-trim pants-suit, Libby craned her neck. A grand forecourt, decorated with trellised yellow-bell jasmine and topiaries set in waist-high terracotta pots, soared around her. Her eyes drifting shut, she inhaled nature’s sweet perfume and hummed out a sigh. In her sporting heyday, she’d earned good money but nothing compared with this unabashed show of wealth. Of course, the lucrative runoffs from the Alex Wolfe range of aftershave, clothing and computer games would contribute handsomely to his fortune. Charm, money, movie-star looks. Hell, Alex Wolfe had it all.
A thoroughly sexy voice, with a very posh English accent, broke into her thoughts.
‘I agree. It’s a cracking day. Perhaps we ought to chat out here.’
It started in her belly … a pleasant tingling heat that flooded her body in the same instant her eyes snapped wide open. On that extensive front patio, directly in front of her, stood a man. The man.
An embarrassing eternity passed before her stunned brain swam to the surface. Frankly, she’d never experienced a sight—a vision—quite like the one openly assessing her now. His lopsided grin was lazy, carving attractive grooves either side of a spellbinding mouth. His hair was a stylishly messy dark blond, the length of which curled off the collar of a teal-coloured polo shirt. And what about those shoulders! Mouthwateringly broad. Ubermasculine.
And let’s not forget, Libby warned herself, sucking down a breath, the only reason she was here.
Stopping long enough to think about which foot to put forward first, Libby pinned on a warm but businesslike smile and moved to join her newest client, whom, she noticed now, also wore a navy blue immobiliser sling.
‘I believe you were expecting me. I’m Libby Henderson. I was just admiring your home and gardens.’
He surveyed the vast front lawns and nodded as a gentle harbour breeze lifted dark blond hair off his brow. ‘I always enjoy my stints in Australia,’ he said. ‘The weather’s brilliant.’ Gorgeous soft grey eyes hooked back onto hers as he cocked his head. ‘I’d offer you my hand but …’
‘Your right shoulder’s giving you problems.’
‘Nothing too serious,’ he said, stepping aside to welcome her in.
Entering the foyer, which gave the modest size of her Manly apartment a decent run for its money, Libby considered his last comment. If Mr Wolfe’s injury had been enough to land him in hospital and warrant subsequent intensive treatment ordered by his team doctor, clearly it was serious enough. Her job was to make certain that full range of motion and strength returned and, despite any downplaying on his part, that’s precisely what she intended to do. Men like Alex Wolfe wanted to get back to it, and now. She understood that. Unfortunately, however, sometimes that wasn’t possible.
Forcing herself not to gape at the storybook multi-tiered staircase or the mirror-polished marble floors, Libby instead turned to her host as he closed the twelve-foot-high door. She suppressed a wry grin. Must be the butler’s day off.
‘Can I offer you a refreshment, Ms Henderson?’
As he passed to lead her through the spacious white, almost austere vestibule, Libby’s thoughts stuck on what should have been a simple question. But his tone implied that rather than coffee, any refreshment he offered might include something as social as champagne.
‘I’m fine, thank you,’ she replied, unable to keep her gaze from straying to the fluid style of his gait in those delectable custom-made black trousers as he moved off. Would he detect any peculiarities in her stride if their positions were reversed—she in front, he behind? But surely a man who’d dated supermodels and at least one European princess wouldn’t be interested enough to notice.
‘We’ll talk in the sunroom.’ Stopping before a set of double doors, he fanned open one side and she moved through.
After he’d closed this door too, he headed for a U-shaped group of three snowy-white leather couches. Beyond soaring arched windows sat that magnificent outdoor pool she’d imagined as well as a glamorous spa and stylish white wicker setting. A pool house, which mimicked the main building’s design, looked large enough to accommodate a family of four as well as friends. Positioned beyond the pool area was a massive storage block—she suspected a huge garage. All the world knew Mr Wolfe liked his cars.
He gestured to the closest couch.