Breaking the Playboy's Rules [NOOK Book]

Overview

The emptiness of the Outback couldn't be more different to London, yet isolation and solitude is just what heartbroken nurse Emma Matheson needs from her Australian escape. But flying medic (and notorious ladies' man!) Harry Connor can't put his undeniable attraction to Emma on autopilot. The chemistry between them is hotter than the Australian sun, and as their feelings grow stronger, Harry finds that he's not following procedures….

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Breaking the Playboy's Rules

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Overview

The emptiness of the Outback couldn't be more different to London, yet isolation and solitude is just what heartbroken nurse Emma Matheson needs from her Australian escape. But flying medic (and notorious ladies' man!) Harry Connor can't put his undeniable attraction to Emma on autopilot. The chemistry between them is hotter than the Australian sun, and as their feelings grow stronger, Harry finds that he's not following procedures….

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781460307458
  • Publisher: Harlequin
  • Publication date: 2/1/2013
  • Sold by: HARLEQUIN
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition description: Original
  • Pages: 192
  • Sales rank: 831,461
  • File size: 196 KB

Read an Excerpt

Emma!

When are you coming to visit? You know I'm serious—I'm actually taking time to sit down and write!!!

Use some of your inheritance and get your butt on a plane. You can hang in Sydney with the olds until you get over your jet lag and then fly out to me. You'll love it out here—remember when we were teenagers and you loved everything Australian? Do you remember watching that television series about the flying doctors? (How could you forget—you took all the videos back to England with you©!) Well, this is where the real ones are! Come on, you HAVE to come and visit.

I promise you, the minute you see the Outback and I introduce you to some real Aussie men you'll forget all your worries. It'll give you a chance to get some distance and perspective and get what's-his-name OUT OF YOUR SYSTEM!!!!

Don't think about it, Em, just do it! See you soon, Love, Soph xx


Sophie's letter read exactly the way she talked and lived. Her words, like her speech, were peppered with exclamation marks. Everything she did she did quickly and with passion. She never seemed to stop and her enthusiasm had been the prompt that had got Emma on this plane. Without Sophie's cajoling Emma knew she'd still be sitting in England, feeling depressed and wondering if she could really make this trip on her own. Without Sophie's insistence she might not have booked her ticket. But now she was almost there.

Emma folded the letter and slid it back into its envelope, taking care not to tear the paper. She'd read it every day for the past month and it was beginning to show signs of wear but even though she knew the words verbatim she couldn't bring herself to put it away permanently.

Sophie's letter wasn't the reason she'd packed her bags and said farewell to her stepmother and half-sisters in order to fly halfway around the world but it had been the catalyst. Emma needed the letter. It was her anchor. It kept her tethered to reality. It helped to make this whole adventure seem real—even when she could scarcely believe she had actually made it Down Under.

Thinking back to the events that had led her here was upsetting so she focussed again on the landscape beneath her as she tried to think of happier, more positive things. But as she looked out the window at this strange land she felt a trace of unease. She'd had a few moments of trepidation over the past month, although not as many as most people seemed to expect her to have, but looking at the vast, dry, red land beneath the plane's wings she questioned the wisdom of leaving the familiarity of England to fly to the middle of nowhere.

But you were miserable in England, she reminded herself.

Yes, but you might still be miserable here.

At this point she wasn't sure which was preferable—being miserable in familiar surroundings or being miserable in a strange, new world. She hoped Sophie was right and a change of scenery would keep her too occupied to notice she was miserable. Sophie had promised her that it was hard to be depressed in a place where the sun was almost always shining, and because Emma had long wanted to come back to Australia she chose to believe her. And now she was here. Almost.

As Emma felt the plane start to descend she slipped the envelope between the pages of the novel she was reading and stowed it in her handbag. She took a deep breath. It was too late to turn back now. She let her breath out with a long sigh.

'Are you okay?'

It took Emma a moment to realise the girl in the seat beside her was talking to her. And another moment to realise she was asking because she'd sighed out loud.

She turned to face her. They hadn't spoken to each other during the flight; they'd smiled a greeting when they'd first sat down but then Emma had pulled her book from her bag and started reading. She didn't like striking up conversations with fellow travellers as there was always the danger that they'd talk non-stop for the entire trip and Emma then found it difficult to politely excuse herself from the contact. But looking at her now she wondered if she'd seemed rude. The girl was about the same age as her, in her mid-twenties, and she did look genuinely concerned.

'Yes, I'm fine, thanks,' she replied. 'Just thinking.'

'You're English?'

Emma nodded.

'Are you here on holiday or for work?'

Emma wasn't really sure how to describe her visit. She wanted to make herself believe it was a holiday, although it felt more like an escape. She knew she was running away from her old life, just temporarily, but she didn't want to admit that out loud. Not to a stranger, not even to herself. 'I'm visiting family,' she said. That was the truth, even if it wasn't the whole truth.

'Are you staying long?'

'I'm not sure yet,' she replied. She hadn't planned any further ahead than getting to Broken Hill. Her life tended to move in cycles and she'd found, on more than one occasion, that things seemed to happen without her input. Sometimes she was happy with the way events unfolded, sometimes not, but she had always had a sense that there were some things she couldn't control so sometimes she didn't bother trying. More often than not, too, her plans, when she did make them, went awry so she avoided making them whenever she could. Right now her only goal was to get to Broken Hill. Once she was there there'd be time enough to work out what she was going to do next.

Emma was certain the girl beside her was going to continue the conversation but she was too caught up in her own thoughts to find the energy to chat to a complete stranger. She turned back to look out of the window as the noise of the plane's engines changed. She searched for signs of life beneath the wings in the red dirt.

Where was the town? The pilot was obviously planning to land somewhere but as far as she could tell only miles and miles of nothing lay beyond the windows. When she'd visited Australia before she'd never travelled away from the coast and the landscape beyond the plane window looked so alien.

The country wasn't completely flat. She could see undulations in the earth, but from this height she only got a sense of their size from the shadows they cast onto the red dirt. There wasn't a speck of green to be seen—even the trees and bushes looked faded and grey. They'd long since left the ocean and the mountains west of Sydney behind and the world she was entering now looked untamed and hostile.

The land was vast and barren and it looked as though it could swallow people. It was no stretch of the imagination to think of people disappearing out here in the back of beyond, never to be seen again. Was she going to survive this?

A sudden wave of homesickness swept through her and the feeling took her by surprise. Although she'd been born and bred in England she'd always longed to really experience the Australian way of life. After all, she was half-Australian, and this was her chance to really immerse herself in the culture, her chance to experience life here as an adult as opposed to the self-absorbed teenager she'd been when she'd last visited.

As a teenager she'd existed on a diet of Australian television, everything from suburban settings to beachside settings to the Outback, but now it seemed that fantasising about the Australian Outback was one thing; actually experiencing it might be something else entirely.

She hoped this trip would give her a chance to heal, a chance to recover from what had been a terrible twelve months and a chance to work out what made her happy, but looking at this foreign landscape she was beginning to think that she might not find the answers here at all. It might take all her strength just to survive. She hoped coming here wasn't going to turn out to be a mistake.

The plane continued to drop lower in the sky and Emma felt the undercarriage of the plane open as the pilot prepared to lower the wheels, but a minute later the plane was levelling out and she heard the flaps close again. She looked out of the window at the red dirt and the greenish-grey, almost leafless trees and stunted bushes. They weren't getting any closer.

The plane's undercarriage opened a second time, before closing again just as rapidly. Emma frowned and watched as the plane began to circle. As the plane turned she could see the airport buildings below them. At least she knew now that there was civilisation out here. That was comforting. But the next words she heard, however, were not.

'Ladies and gentlemen…' The pilot's voice came through the plane's audio system. 'Due to an unforeseen technical problem with the landing gear, I would like to inform you that we will be carrying out an emergency landing.' He paused momentarily and there was complete silence in the plane as every passenger waited to hear what he had to say next.

'However, there is no need to be alarmed. Please remain in your seats with your seat belts tightly fastened. Your cabin crew will pass through the cabin, demonstrating the brace position and landing procedures.'

His tone suggested this was more of an inconvenience than a problem but Emma did wonder how he intended to land the plane. She could only assume he'd been trained for this sort of thing. In her experience pilots were trained for all sorts of emergencies but the pilots she knew flew for the air force, and she had no idea what experience pilots in Outback Australia had. Surely they'd have to return to Sydney? But even as she waited for the pilot to make that announcement she realised it was ridiculous.

Returning to Sydney wouldn't miraculously resolve the problem. The landing gear would still be stuck. It couldn't be fixed in mid-air. So what was he going to do? They couldn't fly around indefinitely. At some stage they'd run out of fuel and then they'd drop out of the sky.

As her fellow passengers also put two and two together she could feel fear building up around her. Like a living breathing presence in the air it moved from one person to the next, wrapping its icy tentacles around each and every one of them, binding them together in a potential tragedy.

Everyone was silent. Were they thinking about crashing or were they too terrified to utter a sound? Whatever the reason for the silence it was there and it was complete and there was nothing to distract anyone from the pilot's next words.

'This is going to make landing difficult but not impossible. The airport has a dirt landing strip, which we can use in this situation, but I ask you all to assume the crash position as directed by our cabin crew.'

His last sentence succeeded in breaking the silence. There was yelling, there were tears and there was screaming. It seemed as though everyone had found their voices at once and the cabin reverberated with noise. Emma's heart leapt in her chest and she felt it seem to lodge at the base of her throat. Nausea filled the empty space in her ribcage where moments before her heart had been.

In the commotion the crew moved calmly through the cabin. They opened the window shades and instructed the passengers to put their heads into their laps or brace themselves on the seat in front of them. Surely they couldn't be as calm as they sounded?

But gradually, as the plane continued to circle, the cabin crew managed to quieten the passengers and the noise was reduced to a less frightening level.

Emma put her head in her lap. She knew the plane was circling in order to give the emergency crews on the ground time to get into position. She could picture the fire engines and ambulances racing to the edge of the runway and she wondered whose services would be required most.

This was crazy, she thought as she hugged her knees. She'd flown halfway around the world searching for peace but she hadn't expected it to come in the form of mortality. This was why she should never make plans. They always went wrong. She was going to die at twenty-seven years of age. Just like her mother had.

No. Thinking like that wasn't helpful. She had to believe that the pilot was as confident as he sounded. She took a deep breath and crossed her fingers as the overhead lights were switched off and the cabin was plunged into semi-darkness. The afternoon light bouncing off the desert and coming through the windows was only just bright enough to take the edge off the gloom.

Emma closed her eyes and waited for the moment that everyone talked about. She wasn't waiting for her life to flash before her eyes but for the moment of regret for things she hadn't yet done. But it wasn't things left undone that sprang to mind. It was things she'd lost. Her mother had died when Emma had been a toddler and she barely remembered her, but her father had died recently and Emma felt his loss keenly. She and her father had shared a close bond. For many years it had been just the two of them, and she wished more than anything that he was still part of her life.

She'd tried to fill the void left by her father's death with other relationships but her choice of Jeremy, her last boyfriend, had been disastrous costing her both a place to live and her job.

That was something else she missed, she realised. Her job as a nurse, which she loved. But maybe it was time to put that behind her. Jeremy had said and done some cruel things that had made her question her nursing skills but she shouldn't let him dictate her path. Not any more. She wasn't about to ask for her old job back, she knew she'd never want to work with Jeremy again, but that didn't prevent her from nursing altogether. There were plenty of other hospitals that would love to have her.

Her career was something worth living for and she promised herself that if she survived this landing she would set about returning to nursing.

She had just started running through a mental list of which hospitals she should apply to when her head bounced and her chin slammed against her knees, jarring her teeth as the plane hit the ground and slid on its belly. The collision with the earth took her by surprise as she hadn't realised they were that close.

She could hear the screech of metal as the fuselage complained about being thrown at the ground and she waited for the sound of metal tearing as the plane was ripped apart, waited for the smell of fuel, the roaring heat of flames.

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