The Nanny and the Millionaire. Линда Гуднайт

The Nanny and the Millionaire - Линда Гуднайт

Скачать книгу
a moment Marissa was desperate to shed tears. Instead she answered calmly, ‘I have you. I’m going to continue where Daddy left off. In a few years time I want to send you to Daddy’s old school. You’ll find his name on the honour board. He was a brilliant student at school and at University where he won a medal. You know I’m hoping to get work as a governess on one of the stations?’

      ‘You’ll get it,’ Riley said as though it were a certainty. ‘You’re a really good teacher and kids love you.’

      ‘A lot of the stations would already have a governess,’ Marissa warned him.

      ‘Some might be leaving. You never know. Station children are educated at home until they’re old enough to be sent off to boarding school, aren’t they?’

      ‘That’s right. Usually that’s around ten. The Channel Country is the home of the cattle kings. It’s actually a vast depressed tract of land called a riverine desert on the fringe of the desert proper. The actual rainfall might be low but the great network of channels bring down the monsoonal rains from the North where you were born.’

      ‘I know all about rain and the Wet Season.’ Riley grimaced. ‘Daddy and I got marooned once when the flood waters rose. Ugh, the mud! We had to wait for days in the truck before we could cross the bridge. Do you suppose Wungalla needs a governess?’ he asked hopefully. He sounded the word out in the soft musical lilt of the station aborigines he would have come to know as a small child. Woo-oon-gah-lah.

      ‘I shouldn’t be a bit surprised!’ She wasn’t about to worry him. ‘Now what about we try the café across the street. It looks clean and cheerful. Beats me why they called it the River Café. There isn’t a river in sight.’

      ‘Must be a joke. What about Dusty?’ Riley immediately thought of his pet.

      ‘We’ll do what we usually do. Tie him up outside. Don’t worry, I’ll get him a hamburger.’

      ‘With lots of tomato sauce. He loves tomato sauce.’ Riley grinned. ‘He’ll even drink it!’

      ‘That your dog outside?’ the woman inside the café queried when she had been watching them tie Dusty up.

      ‘His name’s Dusty!’ Riley answered, his beautiful little face lit by a friendly smile.

      ‘Best dog in the world the Australian Cattle Dog,’ the woman pronounced, wiping her hands on the spotlessly clean apron she wore over a floral dress. ‘You didn’t forget to give ‘im some water?’

      ‘Oh, no.’ Riley shook his head. ‘Ma and I look after Dusty. We love him. We’re going to get him a hamburger with tomato sauce. Do you make hamburgers?’

      ‘Make everything, luv,’ the woman said, giving him a wink. She was as short and stout as a barrel with a pleasant face, sharp blue eyes full of a dry humour, deep sun seams fanning out from them ‘Is that what you and your mum are after? Hamburgers?’

      ‘With chips?’ Riley asked hopefully.

      ‘With chips.’ She nodded. ‘Sure.’

      ‘Gee, thank you,’ Riley said politely.

      ‘Where you goin’, luv?’ The woman flicked a kindly glance that masked more than a touch of sympathy, at Marissa.

      Marissa smiled, responding to the woman’s motherly aura. ‘We should introduce ourselves. I’m Marissa Devlin. This is my little brother, Riley.’ Marissa extended her hand and the woman wrung it enthusiastically.

      ‘Nice to meet yah, luv. I’m Deidre O’Connell. I own this place.’

      ‘It’s very nice!’ Riley, ever the diplomat piped up. ‘Why do you call it the River Café?’

      ‘I thought it was kinda witty.’ Deidre gave a spurt of warm, raucous laughter.

      ‘It is,’ Riley agreed.

      ‘My, aren’t you a sweet talker and a real little gentleman. Mum brought you up well.’

      Why bother to say again Riley was her little brother? ‘I’m hoping to get work as a governess on one of the stations,’ Marissa said. ‘You must be a community leader, Deidre. Would I have a chance?’

      The newly elected community leader threw up chubby hands that were surprisingly smooth and delicate. ‘Heavens, luv, you’re too good lookin’. So’s your boy. If you were the Missus on a station would you hire a real looker to take care of yah kids?’

      Riley’s blue eyes focused on Deidre with deep puzzlement, but Marissa answered firmly. ‘Yes, I would. If she were a young woman of good character and proven qualifications.’

      Deidre ran her thumb down over her dimpled cheek. ‘Struth, luv, governesses fall in love with the boss the whole time.’

      ‘I won’t be doing that!’ Marissa shook her shoulder-length, curly hair emphatically.

      ‘No, they’ll be fallin’ head over heels in love with you,’ Deidre retorted. ‘But you need work, luv?’

      ‘I do.’ Marissa’s expression was very serious. ‘I am—was—a school teacher, a good one. I have references. I need to keep Riley with me for a few more years yet.’

      ‘Reckon you do, luv.’ Deidre nodded sagely, as if there was no need to explain. ‘What then?’

      ‘He’ll be ready to go to boarding school.’

      Deidre’s mouth fell open in awe. ‘Struth! That’ll cost money, luv.’

      ‘I have some set by.’ Marissa said.

      ‘Brave lass!’ Deidre gasped in admiration. ‘But some won’t stretch far, luv. Happen to know it costs a fortune sending a kid away to boarding school. You’re not on the run from anyone are yah? Like a hubby or a boyfriend? You’re okay here. Ransom isn’t even on the Atlas.’

      ‘I’m not on the run, Deidre, but thank you for your concern. I don’t have a husband or a boyfriend.’

      ‘Yah soon will!’ Deidre cackled. ‘I’d like to help yah. I recognise class when I see it. Obviously you’ve fallen on hard times. Don’t we all! Now there are stations all over the South West as you know. The closest one to Ransom is Wungalla.’ She, too, pronounced it aboriginal fashion. ‘Don’t reckon Holt would be lookin’ for a governess, though. That’s Holt McMaster. His little girl, Georgia, is six or thereabouts. Right sharp little kid but real homely, not that I should be commenting on such things. But Holt is plain magnificent! His wife, ex-wife, I should say, Tara—they’re divorced—was mighty glamorous but as hoity toity as they come. She made me feel like I’d just rolled out from under a rock. Little Georgia doesn’t take after either of them. Aunty Lois has been staying on Wungalla for quite a while.’ Deidre let her eyes roll heavenwards. ‘That’s Tara’s sister. As I understand it, she supervises Georgia’s lessons. You won’t get your curly little head in there, sweetheart, if you know what I mean?’

      ‘Oh!’ Marissa let the full implication of that sink in.

      ‘Better get those hamburgers goin’.’ Deidre announced cheerfully, realigning her stout body. ‘Little fella looks hungry. He wants a bit o’building up, Mum. No offence, luv. I bet you’re a great little mother. Now, what would you like to drink, son? Don’t say any sort of fizzy drink. Rot yah teeth.’

      ‘An apple juice would be great!’ Riley wisely settled for the healthier alternative.

      ‘Right! Go and sit over there,’ Deidre instructed. ‘Take the weight off your feet. This won’t take long. Bettcha like ice cream?’

      Riley’s smile broadened. ‘Chocolate chip? That’s my favourite.’

      The older woman laughed and waved a hand. ‘Say no more.’

      They sat across from one another at a window table. They could have spread out anywhere. There were no other customers.

Скачать книгу