Long Game

Long Game

by Catherine Evans

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Overview

Long Game by Catherine Evans

I'm following one of my dreams … but do I dare to follow my heart? 

Cress Kennedy

One thing everyone in Grong Grong knows about me: it's always been my dream to play Aussie Rules Football. And now the Sydney Sirens are signing me for the new Women's Aussie Rules competition. I'm headed to Sydney. To stay with my brother's best friend. Quin. But here's one thing no–one in Grong Grong knows about me: how much I want Quin to see me as a woman, and take him for myself… 

Quin Fitzpatrick

I knew as soon as she got a chance to play in the Women's Aussie Rules competition that Cress would be a star. I knew it made sense for her to come and stay with me, where I could protect her, show her the ropes–Watercress from Grong Grong, the little sister I never had. I never expected Cress–gorgeous, generous Cress–to shake me out of my rut. Now how am I ever going to go back to life without her around.

Other books available in The Women of W.A.R. series:
Game On by Nicola Marsh
Fair Game by Amy Andrews

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781489255174
Publisher: Escape Publishing
Publication date: 02/01/2018
Series: Women of W.A.R. , #2
Sold by: HARPERCOLLINS
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 150
Sales rank: 487,142
File size: 458 KB

About the Author

Catherine Evans is a city-born throwback to country genes. After completing an environmental biology degree, she desperately needed to move to the country. A job in agriculture was the perfect escape. After spending eighteen years in agricultural research and gaining a Masters degree in Agriculture, Cath has a passion for rural life.

Now living on the south coast of NSW, a large part of her heart belongs across the mountain ranges in the red dust.
If you want to know more, please visit Catherine's website www.catherineevansauthor.com

Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

'Watercress!' The bellow echoed not just in Cress's mind but also throughout the cavernous area of Central Railway Station. That rich, deep baritone she knew, and loved, was calling her from the opposite end of the concourse. She was heading for the suburban trains, and he was here.

She should cringe at having her nickname shouted out like that, but bubbles of excitement rode her bloodstream. She stopped and searched through the crowd for Quin Fitzpatrick. Only he and her brothers ever used the stupid childhood nickname, and her brothers had all waved her off when she left Wagga Wagga hours ago.

Finally, she spied him and made a dash towards him. Her heavy kitbag and an overnight bag hampered her legs but when she reached him, she let them go and launched herself at his chest.

She'd do this to any of her brothers. Especially if she hadn't seen them in ages.

Quin was similarly built to her brothers: tall, big chest and well-muscled shoulders. Nothing about this hug should feel different, yet it did. It always did. She took a few seconds to soak up the scent of Quin — musk, citrus and a hint of good honest sweat — and bask in the strength of his arms around her, his chest against her, and his face brushing her cheek. Then she walloped his shoulder. 'Put me down this second. You're making a scene.'

He laughed as he plopped her to the ground. For a moment she wished he'd let her slide slowly down his body, but she brushed away that longing. Quin Fitzpatrick was off limits. He was her fifth brother. She needed to keep him in that place or she'd never be in Sydney, never be able to have a crack at her dream.

'I'm so glad to see you, Quin. I thought you wouldn't be able to get away and I didn't want to bother you with driving into the city to pick me up.' Cress grabbed for the handles on her bags. 'I hope I haven't put you out?'

'No, Watercress. Nothing like that.' He took one bag before he slung his arm across her shoulders and gave her a squeeze. 'I'm stoked you got picked for this side. I couldn't believe it when Tris rang me.' They began walking out the way he'd entered.

Cress still had mixed feelings about her brother organising Quin to take her in. Of course they'd organised it before telling her; before she'd even thought about accommodation. She shouldn't have been surprised, but it left her living with the man everyone thought was like her brother, when she'd loved him her entire life.

Laughing to hide any other emotion, Cress elbowed him lightly in the ribs. 'I'm awesome, why couldn't you believe it?'

Quin shook his head, grinning at her with that same grin he'd given her from the moment she could remember him. The one that turned everything inside her into something that jittered and squirmed. 'You still can't just say thank you?' Fighting the jitters, she poked her index finger just above his heart. 'You still can't say congratulations?'

His eyelids flickered momentarily and then he took a step back, pulling away from her reach. 'Cressida Kennedy, congratulations on being selected to play for the Women's Aussie Rules team, the Sydney Sirens.'

Beaming so big she thought the skin might peel off her face hadn't yet become old. The same dopey grin appeared again. 'Thank you, Quin. That means a lot.'

He hugged her again, tight and close, before pulling away. 'Let's get your stuff in the car.' He waved his hand towards the exit.

Getting outside the terminal into the fresh air was, well, not exactly fresh, but better than the over-scented air she'd had for hours. Used to working outdoors, with machines, plants and animals, she wasn't overly keen on cleaning product scent or air-freshener. The mix of fast food, burning coffee, and over-scented bodies wasn't a great smell either. Here was traffic, pollution and that smoky, ozone train smell. They weren't her usual smells either, but were as close to home as she'd be sniffing for a while yet.

'You'll get used to it,' Quin said as he dropped her bag to the ground and popped the boot.

She wasn't sure she would. 'I can't believe I have the opportunity to even try to get used to it. It's still sinking in. I'd heard they were doing this comp but never in my wildest dreams did I think I'd be asked.' She tossed in her overnight bag and then swung the backpack off and slid that in, before Quin tossed in her kitbag. Once done, he slammed the boot.

'Yes, you did.'

Staring at him, she wasn't sure what he was talking about. 'Huh?'

'You may not have told anyone, but you dreamed it, Cress Kennedy. You've always had big dreams. Dreams bigger than any girl in Grong Grong. Probably bigger than any person in Grong Grong.'

She laughed. 'Says you.' He'd had the same dream and years earlier had left town for the city and the male team of the same club she was playing for. She hadn't consciously followed in his footsteps; she just loved Aussie Rules as much as he did. And just quietly, was almost as good as him. Not that she'd tell him that. It was another secret she held close.

Abruptly stopping as she moved down the car, her hand rested on the metal as her brain replayed his words. Traffic created an incessant buzz, broken by the wail of a siren in the distance, and the cacophony of voices as people roamed past. Quin's car bipped and the body shook briefly as the interior light flared and extinguished. It broke her from her thoughts and she hurried to jump in.

She brushed her fingers along Quin's thigh, forgetting herself. His muscles contracted at her touch and she whipped her hand away, covering the touch by murmuring, 'You remember my dreams?'

He didn't start the car. He looked across and gave her a lazy smirk. 'Easy task, Watercress. Mine weren't much different.' His eye roll made any romantic notions she'd harboured vanish.

Covering herself with a snort and smacking his shoulder, she said, 'Hey, I didn't copy you, promise. I applied for Melbourne teams.'

Quin covered his chest with his huge hands. 'Wound me, right where it hurts.'

Cress groaned and did up her seatbelt. He started the car. 'I wasn't thinking about you when I tried out. Dad poked and prodded until I went down.'

'You didn't get in?' Quin's question held a touch of disbelief and she almost preened.

'The Sydney Sirens rang before I heard.'

Quin laughed. 'That doesn't surprise me.'

A niggly thought chased through her mind. 'Did you tell them to?'

'No.' Quin shook his head and the frown he gave her was genuine. 'They have scouts down in the Riverina.'

Her lips itched as she held in a grin. 'So you knew they were wanting to put together a girls' team and you didn't put my name forward?' She faked a huff.

He muttered a curse under his breath and his fingers clenched on the wheel. She began to snigger because she couldn't hold it in any longer. He was so like her brothers.

'Sit there and shut up while I concentrate on getting us out of this place.' His growl was just like her brothers' too, however the depth of his seemed to have some accord with her body. When he growled, her body tingled. Like she was a freaking tuning fork. There was no defence to that. None that she'd found anyway. She sat quietly, while her entire body strummed to the echoes of his growl.

Focusing her attention outside the car helped her regain control. It looked like they were in the city. Big sandstone buildings, dazzling lights even though the sunset was an hour away, an incredible number of cars and trucks, buses and people swirled past and around them. When they stopped at a red light, she said, 'Are we in the city?'

'Right in the heart of it, Watercress.' A little grin as he glanced at her made her heart speed up. 'You going to survive this?' He waved his fingers, then moved off as the light changed.

There was a question. She'd barely survived quick, footy or family, trips to Sydney and now she was living here. At least for four months, or almost four months. If they made the finals, it would be four months. The whole of summer; mid-November to mid-March.

She'd stayed at home for as long as she could, working the harvest with Dad, but he still had weeks to go. She had a team meeting tomorrow and the start of a new gardening job. Her brothers promised to help Dad out, but knowing Tris, Ollie, Damo and Gar, she doubted they'd be much use, or even remember. They all had their lives to live.

Although they never broke promises, and they had promised.

She sighed. Dad would hire someone if things got tough. She hated leaving him in the lurch. No matter how many times he told her she was his employee and employees leave, especially when chasing their dreams, it didn't make her feel any less guilty.

Quin snapped his fingers. 'You here, Watercress, or sleeping?' She spun towards him, wondering what she'd missed. He was still concentrating on the traffic. There were still cars everywhere. Who could imagine this much traffic after eight pm on a Sunday night? She looked beyond the cars, and up ahead loomed something familiar. Big stone pylons and steel. A multi-lane roadway they seemed to be driving on.

She glanced around faster, her stomach tightening and squeezing, sweat breaking out on her palms. She gasped. 'Quin, is this the bridge?' Her voice was so high-pitched it was hardly recognisable. 'You're taking me on the Sydney Harbour Bridge? On my first night.' Her voice dropped. Her heart swelled to almost bursting. 'Wow. You're amazing, Quin.'

'I'm lost, Watercress. Lost. Don't go getting all starry-eyed.' He sounded grumpy, but underneath she was sure he was gratified, and that he'd done this deliberately.

She'd raved about the bridge. It was the only thing she loved about Sydney. Sure, the harbour was beautiful, and the beaches, but there was water out of Sydney that had fewer people. There wasn't another 'coathanger' and the beauty of the structure had always attracted her. Grey steel should never look beautiful but the construction of this was always mesmerising. The straight lines intersected by the zigzag-filled arches were exquisite. Those four huge sandstone pillars, plonked in pairs at either end, should look misplaced and awkward; it worked to be breathtaking.

She'd welded a rough imitation in high school and it was the farm mailbox now. But she hadn't come close to the exquisite detail of the real thing.

Those huge steel arches were right there ahead of her. On the left and the right, across lanes of traffic, were the huge sandstone pillars. And she, she was on the most beautiful monument in the whole city. Words couldn't describe how she felt right now.

She poked at buttons until the window came down and then she squished in her seat, angling her head so she could drink it all in. Her first glimpse of the bridge and she was on it. The lighting was enough so she could see the incredible crisscross of metal. Sun from the west illuminated the length of the bridge, and she wished she was a bird so she could fly around it, marvel at it. Heck, if she was a bird, she'd roost here, spend every day flying around her favourite place in all the world. Not that she'd seen the world. She'd only seen parts of Australia. Very few parts.

But the bridge. She wanted to hang her head and shoulders out of that window, stretch her arms wide, and feel the wind rush her face as they drove beneath the beautiful arches.

Except they weren't moving.

And she was on the bridge.

She dug her phone out of her pocket and took photos while they were stuck, even managing to get her hand and some of her head out the window to try to get a shot of the structure above them.

'Quin, can I take one of both of us, please?' She waved the phone in front of him. She wanted to get a shot, no matter how bad, so she'd always remember that he brought her here on her first night in the big smoke.

He finally looked at her, an exasperated grin lurking on his quite delicious lips. She blinked, and looked at his chest instead. Much safer. 'If you must.'

She turned so she could be nearer to him, flipped the camera and then took a couple of shots. 'Thanks,' she murmured as she went back to looking out the window and craning her neck to see more.

'We'll be stopped here for a bit. There's an accident up ahead.' He waved to his GPS system, which must have real-time information. Another city thing she hadn't realised. 'You can probably stick your head out if it makes it easier. Just keep an ear out for motorcyclists who might knock your head off.' His grin was evil, but she didn't care because her head was out the window in a flash.

With her phone in front of her face, she snapped as many photos as she could. Mostly of the bridge structure, but she grabbed a few of the traffic and a train on the bridge, and the sun setting down the shining river way off in the distance. There was so much to see, her phone got shoved away while she soaked it all in. A tap on her thigh had her drawing back into the car.

'Sorry to break the gawking, but the traffic's on the move.'

Cress grinned as she seated herself properly inside again. 'Thank you. This has been the best fun. I'll have to send a few pics back home.' But they'd wait until her trip across the bridge was over. She wasn't missing a minute.

Words were hard to come by as she drank it in. She couldn't see too much of the view of Sydney but she didn't care. It was the structure that kept her gaze, and she wouldn't be getting bored of that in a hurry.

Quin's tapping against the steering wheel made her glance across. 'You okay?'

'Traffic. I hate being at a standstill, or crawling along like this.' Quin gave her a quick glance. 'But I know, it's the best thing ever in your whole life, and if there wasn't traffic, you'd have missed it all.' Those huge steel arches were right there ahead of her. On the left and the right, across lanes of traffic, were the huge sandstone pillars. And she, she was on the most beautiful monument in the whole city. Words couldn't describe how she felt right now.

She poked at buttons until the window came down and then she squished in her seat, angling her head so she could drink it all in. Her first glimpse of the bridge and she was on it. The lighting was enough so she could see the incredible crisscross of metal. Sun from the west illuminated the length of the bridge, and she wished she was a bird so she could fly around it, marvel at it. Heck, if she was a bird, she'd roost here, spend every day flying around her favourite place in all the world. Not that she'd seen the world. She'd only seen parts of Australia. Very few parts.

But the bridge. She wanted to hang her head and shoulders out of that window, stretch her arms wide, and feel the wind rush her face as they drove beneath the beautiful arches.

Except they weren't moving.

And she was on the bridge.

She dug her phone out of her pocket and took photos while they were stuck, even managing to get her hand and some of her head out the window to try to get a shot of the structure above them.

'Quin, can I take one of both of us, please?' She waved the phone in front of him. She wanted to get a shot, no matter how bad, so she'd always remember that he brought her here on her first night in the big smoke.

He finally looked at her, an exasperated grin lurking on his quite delicious lips. She blinked, and looked at his chest instead. Much safer. 'If you must.'

She turned so she could be nearer to him, flipped the camera and then took a couple of shots. 'Thanks,' she murmured as she went back to looking out the window and craning her neck to see more.

'We'll be stopped here for a bit. There's an accident up ahead.' He waved to his GPS system, which must have real-time information. Another city thing she hadn't realised. 'You can probably stick your head out if it makes it easier. Just keep an ear out for motorcyclists who might knock your head off.' His grin was evil, but she didn't care because her head was out the window in a flash.

With her phone in front of her face, she snapped as many photos as she could. Mostly of the bridge structure, but she grabbed a few of the traffic and a train on the bridge, and the sun setting down the shining river way off in the distance. There was so much to see, her phone got shoved away while she soaked it all in. A tap on her thigh had her drawing back into the car.

'Sorry to break the gawking, but the traffic's on the move.'

Cress grinned as she seated herself properly inside again. 'Thank you. This has been the best fun. I'll have to send a few pics back home.' But they'd wait until her trip across the bridge was over. She wasn't missing a minute.

Words were hard to come by as she drank it in. She couldn't see too much of the view of Sydney but she didn't care. It was the structure that kept her gaze, and she wouldn't be getting bored of that in a hurry.

Quin's tapping against the steering wheel made her glance across. 'You okay?'

(Continues…)



Excerpted from "Long Game"
by .
Copyright © 2018 Cath Evans.
Excerpted by permission of Harlequin Enterprises (Australia) Pty Ltd..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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