Kirsten finds herself a long way from home when she takes a job in the idyllic Marlborough Sounds, caring for a seven year old girl who lost her mother when she was a baby. Sarah is a bright and bubbly child, but her overbearing Grandmother, rich and sophisticated, has ideas for her grandchild that Kirsten does not agree with.
To make things worse Kirsten is faced with the challenge of Sarah's commonly absent father Jamie and her roguish uncle Tyler. Two strangely different people, they tolerate each other only to be close to Sarah, the only remnant left of Brook, a woman they both loved.
Drawn in by this eclectic family Kirsten soon finds there is more to their story than meets the eye. She finds herself turning to the only person who is willing to answer some of her most pressing questions, Brook herself.
|Publisher:||Bluewood Publishing Ltd|
|Product dimensions:||5.00(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.51(d)|
Read an Excerpt
Another tunnel plunged the train into darkness. The steady rhythm of the steel wheels against the tracks echoed back from the concrete walls as Kirsten momentarily caught her own reflection in the window. This was most off putting. One minute she was gazing at the raging ocean of the South Island's East Coast and the next minute all she could see was her face, complete with an unruly mop of flaming hair, staring back at her.
She sighed and looked around at the other passengers. It had been four hours now, surely they must be near their destination. However she suspected it would be at least another hour before the train stopped in Blenheim, for they had to travel inland before they got there.
Kirsten unfolded the letter she had tucked into the back pocket of her jeans and read the words again. The creases in the page were dangerously close to ripping from being taken out so many times. Everything had happened so fast that she had to keep looking at the letter to remind herself it wasn't a dream.
I have much pleasure in announcing that you have been chosen for the position of Nanny with our household.
Needless to say Sarah is excited to meet you. We hope you will be able to join us in no longer than two weeks. This, we feel sure, will give you time to get acquainted with our family before Sarah resumes her lessons.
As I previously explained, when we met in person last week, the room we have for you is fully furnished, but please feel free to bring your own comforts. The days of work as I have also explained will be Monday to Friday, but I hope you will be flexible with these to fit in with our busy lifestyleshere.
I have enclosed enough funds for you to get as far as Blenheim on the train (the bus is so uncomfortable) and I will meet you personally once you confirm your date of arrival.
If you have any questions then please feel free to contact me directly.
Kirsten curled the letter back into her pocket as the train whipped from the end of the tunnel, into daylight once more.
She had applied for the job online about a month ago. Not long afterwards she had received a call from a very well spoken woman who called herself Beth. She wanted to come straight away and interview Kirsten. The application had been made on a whim. Kirsten was desperate to forget a bad experience with a past employer, so the opportunity to flee to the other end of the Island was very inviting.
Now she wasn't so sure. She was also leaving behind fabulous parents and two younger sisters to go and live in a house full of strangers. She had not met Sarah, the little girl she was supposed to be caring for. For all Kirsten knew she could be the demon brat from hell. From what Mrs. Ainsley-Frampton said, Sarah's mother had died when she was very young. What type of issues did a child bear, having lost her mother at such a tender age?
Kirsten puzzled over the we that Mrs. Ainsley-Frampton referred to. In the interview she had mentioned other family members only briefly, Sarah's father Jamie and Beth's own son, Tyler.
Kirsten had also picked up that Beth was originally from England and had moved to the United States to marry a rich Texan. How she ended up single in New Zealand with two children Kirsten did not know, neither was it her business, but the history of the eclectic family members intrigued her to no end. If nothing else the job would be interesting; a challenge she was looking forward to.
Nevertheless a storm of butterflies rose in her stomach as the train propelled itself closer to her destination.
A small boy in the seat behind her, who had been quiet for most of the trip, but was now obviously bored, poked his smiling face around Kirsten's seat. His little fingers on one hand gripped the edge of the foam seat from behind. Brown vegemite smears dotted his cheeks, while his other hand clasped the crusty remains of a sandwich.
Kirsten smiled back at him. "Hi."
"Hello," he whispered.
"Are you having fun on the train?"
He nodded his cherub head. Soft brown curls bobbed over his baby blue eyes. "Yep."
Kirsten twisted in her seat so she could get a better look at him. "You've been a good boy."
He smiled and seemed pleased she had noticed his manners. "Yep. We get there soon?" He screwed his nose up in comic frustration as he slid forward to get closer to Kirsten.
"Pretty soon." Kirsten smiled. "Are you bored?"
The boy nodded his head and pouted. "Mummy's sleepy." He pointed a tiny digit in his mother's direction. Kirsty turned and looked back over the seat. A pretty woman about the same age as Kirsten, her head bent back and eyes close, sat slumped into the corner of the seat. Her arm was curved protectively around her pregnant belly.
Kirsten held one straight finger over her lips. "Shhh. Do you have a book to read?"
"Uh-huh." The toddler held up a wire bound book with brightly coloured pages.
Kirsten beckoned for him to sit on her lap. "Come on, mum won't mind. I'll read it to you."
Delighted, the little boy took the book with both hands and clambered onto the seat next to Kirsty.
As she opened the cover of the book smells of sweet no tears shampoo mixed with baby powder and left over yeasty vegemite spread wafted over her.
The infant was a pleasant distraction from her otherwise uneventful trip. She never tired of watching the ocean as it pounded down on the sand, white foam beating layers from the rocks around the coast, but there was only so much you could see in four hours.
The young boy's name was Toby, and he sat with Kirsty for the next hour while his mother slumbered behind them. Three books later, and after a one sided conversation about the seals on the rocks down below as the train softly continued it's rhythmic strum on the endless tracks, his mother woke. The train blew its whistle as they crossed a large rail bridge. Toby wriggled with joy against Kirsten's legs as he peered down through the window. His breath created little circles of steam on the glass, which he promptly smeared into tracks with one finger.
"There you are Toby." His mother appeared from behind them, looking very tired, and Kirsten smiled at the heavily pregnant woman. "I told you to sit quietly and not bother anyone while mummy had a sleep."
"Oh, he's no bother." Kirsten held the boys arm as he scrambled down from the seat and joined his mother once more. "We were reading books weren't we Toby? It's my fault. You looked like you could do with a rest and we were both so bored."
Toby nodded and took his pile of books from Kirsten. "Yep." He looked back at his mother. "We nearly there yet Mum?"
"Yes sweetie, we're nearly there. We've just left Seddon now, so I guess it's another twenty minutes." She smiled at Kirsten. She had pale skin and full lips painted with pink gloss. "Thank you so much for entertaining the rat bag here. I hope he wasn't too much of a pain."
"Not at all. He's a perfectly pleasant wee man." She looked down at Toby, who quietly sucked his thumb now he had his mother's leg in his grasp. She held out her hand. "It was nice to meet you Toby. You look after your mummy, won't you?"
The child seemed happy to be treated with a gesture that only adults exchanged and he grinned. He offered his clammy hand to Kirsten and she shook it gently.
"My mummy's having a baby." Toby lifted his hand and patted the protuberance in mention.
"I know." Kirsten let her eyes widen for effect. "Does that mean you're going to have a brother or a sister?"
Toby frowned, obviously unnerved at the prospect of a baby. "No," he shook his head, "it's a puppy."
The two women laughed as they exchanged glances.
"Toby, remember we talked about this?"
The little boy nodded somberly, as if his heart was set on having a dog instead of a tiny sibling.
Kirsten opened her mouth into a big o and put her hand over it in imagined awe. "Baby sisters and brothers are so great. I have two baby sisters. You're going to have so much fun."
The boy seemed to brighten a little and glanced at his mother for reassurance. She nodded and smiled in confirmation.
"Okay." He hid his face against his mother's legs and yawned.
"I'm Jennifer by the way." She held out her hand for Kirsten to take.
"Kirsty, it's nice to meet you."
"You're wonderful with kids. Do you have any of your own?"
Kirsten shook her head and smiled. "I'm a nanny."
"Oh how interesting." Jennifer smiled. "Well, you're certainly in the right profession. This one seems quite taken." She stroked the fine hair on Toby's head. The little boy responded by humming a familiar nursery rhyme from one of his books.
"Well it was just as much fun for me. I was getting a little tired of the trip myself."
Jennifer and Toby returned to their seats and Kirsten gathered her thoughts together. She had about ten minutes to herself before she deposited herself into the hands of a woman she had met only briefly. Was she really doing the right thing? She could have stayed in Christchurch; could have easily gotten another job. There were plenty of vacancies in the area, why the hell was she traveling five hundred kilometres away?
She was pretty sure her parents had not wanted her to take the job. They hadn't said as much; she was twenty-three and quite capable of making her own decisions, so they had let her do just that. She had never lived away from her home town before, especially in some backdrop remote part of the country she had not even visited.
However she had heard the Marlborough Sounds was beautiful and now that she was actually on her way she couldn't wait to find out.
Jennifer had said she was good with children. She just had to focus on that right now. For she was about to be put in charge of a seven year old girl she had never met. Not only was she the Nanny, she was also responsible for the correspondence schooling of this little girl. Obviously Mrs. Ainsley-Frampton thought she could do it. Why else would she have chosen Kirsten over all the other applicants? If nothing else it was a challenge. And that was just what Kirsten was looking for right now. Something to keep her so busy she didn't have to think about what she had left behind.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Reviewed by Janelle Fila for Readers' Favorite Beside The Brook by Paulette Rae is a contemporary romance about two men who loved the same woman, a woman who is now dead. Brook's daughter Sarah is the only thing holding the two men -- her father, Jamie, and her uncle Tyler -- together. The men barely tolerate one another to stay close to Sarah, the last connection they have with a dead woman they both loved and lost. When Kirsten is employed as Sarah's nanny, she is dumped right into the strange family dynamics. She is determined to learn more about the situation so that she can rectify what she can, but no one is talking. Least of all Sarah's overbearing grandmother. To get the answers she needs to help this troubled family, Kirsten turns to the only woman that can help her. Brook, the dead woman herself. This story has everything a romance reader wants: a gorgeous setting with beautiful descriptions of the wildlife and sea at Marlborough Sounds, a wealthy but complicated family with many layered secrets, and two handsome and hurting men who loved the same woman. The drama between the characters and their complex relationships are authentic and expertly written, especially the intense hatred between Jamie and Tyler which is disguised as love of Sarah. This story is well written, has a very good pace, and moves quickly to a dramatic conclusion that readers will enjoy to make this a very interesting and entertaining read.