Outback Thunder(7)

By: Ann B. Harrison

Jonas dropped the cases and turned to her, that knowing smile of his almost doing her in. "I live here."

"Why? What's wrong with living in the city like you usually do and commuting? Seriously, I don't mind if you don't adhere to the rules you put in place for me and Bran. You could easily bunk out with the guys in the sheds, you know if you have to stay here. I'm sure there is plenty of room for you."

"I love it here. Always have as well you know, Zoe." He raised an eyebrow at her. "How do you know where I spend my time anyway? Stalking me, are you?"

"No bloody way!" She crossed her arms and pointedly looked at her brother standing behind Jonas with a big grin on his face. "Thanks for the heads up, bro." Putting on her best nonchalant pose, she continued. "Actually, Jonas, I read the papers, especially the Sydney Morning Herald. It's how I keep in touch with what is happening in Australia while I'm overseas. It's hardly my fault if you always seem to be squiring some starlet around town and make the news hounds happy, is it?"

"You say that as if it mattered to you, Zoe."

"Hardly. What you do stopped being important the day I found you in the hay with that little slut."

"It might been to your benefit if you'd actually let me explain what happened. But it was easier to run wasn't it, than to get the story right?" Jonas's eyes were dark and stormy.

"Okay, enough you two," Brandon said stepping in between them. "Look guys, if we're going to pull this company up and improve it, we have to let personal issues slide."


Jonas pursed his lips and nodded his head. "You're right Bran. It's been years and we were stupid kids in love with love so I really don't see the validity of that statement now, Zoe." He took a deep breath and looked over at her. Zoe was no longer the plump little tomboy he'd fallen in love with. She was lithe and supple, her cheeks now defined where once they’d full. He admired the muscles in her arms, not over the top but a subtle show of strength. Years of being a personal trainer and then the owner of a chain of gyms had been kind to her body. The geeky little tomboy had turned into the svelte swan he never would have imagined.

She had paled and was holding her arms across her stomach. She still had the ability to make him want her. That hadn't changed in the years that she had been away.

"So, maybe we need to set a couple of ground rules then if we are all going to be living together. What do you think, Zoe?"

"Um, yeah I guess so." She looked over Jonas's shoulder to her brother.

"Okay by me," Brandon said.

"Alright then," Jonas said. "For starters, the past is just that, past. If I can let it go, so can you. Also my private life is my own."

"Fair enough. Goes for me too then," Zoe agreed.

"Bran?" Jonas turned to him.

"Sure, as if I care anyway. It was always the two of you who were lusting after each other, no one else."

He ducked when Jonas playfully swiped him on the shoulder.

"So, which is your room, Jonas?" Zoe looked at him with wide eyes.

"The guest room. No one has touched your folk's room, if that was what is worrying you."

"Thanks." She bowed her head but not before he saw the pain in her eyes and the unshed tears.

"I'll just take your suitcases to your old room. Then I have to go and see the boys about getting the muster roster sorted. See you out there, Bran." He picked the bags up and walked down the hallway, leaving brother and sister together. Jonas listened to Brandon talking to Zoe in a calm voice, no doubt soothing her ruffled feathers. It had never taken much to get her going, even as a kid. Little-Miss-Fly-Off-the-Handle-Zoe.

He dropped her cases inside the door. The room hadn't been touched since Zoe had fled after their break up. Jonas gazed around the room. The feminine bedspread was the same one she had as a teen. Patchwork print squares in pink and green. Not frilly but certainly girly enough. He gazed at the French doors that opened onto the veranda where she used to sneak out at night to meet him. It didn't look that was on the cards again the way she was firing up being around him. But by the same token, he knew her body reacted to his when he picked her up. There might be a chance yet he could win her over. He would give himself until his move back to the city to woo her and if he didn't then he would have to let go of his childish dream of a reconciliation.

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