Authors: Victoria Purman
Only We Know
Boys of Summer
Nobody But Him
Someone Like You
Our Kind of Love
Victoria Purman loves books, wine, chocolate, sad country music, hard rock songs, love stories, her family, her friends and especially her readers. She writes books set in the beautiful locations of her home state of South Australia.
In 2013, Victoria was selected as a Writer in Residence at the SA Writers Centre. In 2014, she was named a finalist in the Favourite New Author 2013 category by the Australian Romance Readers Association. She also made the Top 75 in Booktopia's Favourite Australian Author 2015 poll.
She was also thrilled to be named a finalist in the RuBY Awards â the Romance Writers of Australia's Romantic Book of the Year Awards â for her first book,
Nobody But Him
Victoria has been a featured author at 2014 Adelaide Writers' Week and the SA Readers and Writers Festival and, most days, considers herself the luckiest woman in the world.
Calla Maloney just wanted it to stop.
Not the ferry, although that would be good too, but the swirling, simmering seasickness. Her gut was treacherously pitching and rolling in perfect rhythm with the swell of the ocean. There was a dull ache behind her eyes and the nausea was crashing through her like the waves pounding and spraying against the hull of the boat.
This trip had seemed like such a good idea two weeks earlier.
Calla wrangled her glasses off her nose, pushed her auburn curls off her forehead and squeezed her eyes closed. She tried to sit still, sucking in and releasing her breath slowly and rhythmically. Deep and complete breaths. The kind she'd learnt at yoga in her first and only lesson. She'd quite liked the breathing part, the way it had relaxed her and made her feel calm and serene. It was the twisting her body into impossible pretzel shapes that she'd hated. She waited a few moments, then tentatively pried one eye open to see if it would make her feel any better. The answer was a big nope. She sighed a swear word with the next exhale. She was wearing her pathetic sea legs so obviously that she might as well have been waving around a sign on a stick that said,
About to hurl
Calla planted her palms flat on the table in front of her, hoping the breathing and the attempt at relaxing would settle the sickness. One minute at a time, she told herself. She simply needed to make it through the next sixty seconds, then another sixty and then another. Ten more lots of sixty and the boat would be pulling into the dock at Penneshaw on Kangaroo Island. She'd been told that the sixteen-kilometre journey from South Australia's south coast in a straight line across Backstairs Passage â and yes, she'd snorted at the name of the waterway â was only supposed to take forty-five minutes. It felt as though she'd been on the ferry for three or so years.
Calla pressed a palm to her stomach. She could feel sweat beading on her forehead. Now her heartbeat had picked up and was thudding loud in her chest and in her ears. Wasn't sitting upstairs supposed to help? She'd heard once that keeping your eyes on the horizon was a good way to ward off seasickness. But looking out the rain-splattered windows and seeing the sea rise and fall was only making things worse.
She chided herself for her cowardice but had to acknowledge the obvious: this wasn't just seasickness. The truth was she'd felt uneasy since planting her first nervous step on the gangplank back on the mainland and, by the time the terminal and the rounded green hills of Cape Jervis had faded behind them, she was borderline hyperventilating and entirely wishing she were comatose.
No one else in the cabin of the ferry seemed bothered by the rollicking of the boat. An old couple sat a few metres away from her, across from each other at a fixed table. He was reading a detective novel, blood dripping from the steely knife on the cover. She was quietly feeding crackers to a perfectly behaved little white dog nestled on her lap, half hidden inside the folds of her jacket. At the next booth to Calla, a group of young people sat laughing and joking with each other, smatterings of German and maybe Italian falling from their lips as they shared a packet of potato chips and snapped photos of each other on their phones. The thought of eating sent another wave through Calla. She averted her eyes and tried to keep breathing. In front of her, a young woman sat with a baby strapped to her chest, snuggling peacefully in its sling. The mother gently stroked her baby's head and shared a smile with Calla.
Two tables up, a man was sitting alone at a table. Dark brown hair, cut short. He looked as relaxed as if he were reading his book in a city cafÃ©, enjoying a strong coffee. Calla watched distractedly as he shifted, straightened his back, and lifted his arms high above his head, stretching as if he'd stiffened up sitting there for so long. When he glanced around the cabin, she turned her eyes back to the window.
She might have been able to relax a little more if this were a holiday, but there was nothing whatsoever recreational about the trip. She was on a mission, and one her little sister, for one, had thought ill-fated from the start. Rose was a high-school English teacher: being overly dramatic came with the territory.
She tried to distract herself by wondering about the passengers and their stories, these strangers on the boat. Who were they? Why were they making the crossing to Kangaroo Island? Were the old couple locals? Or visitors travelling across the water with a caravan to see the island's famed wildlife and rugged coasts? Maybe the young woman was taking her new baby home for the first time? Calla huffed at the realisation that the baby was coping with the journey better than she was. And, at that moment, swallowing back the vomit that was rising in her throat like the tide, she wished she'd let Rose talk her out of it. God knows she had tried hard enough, but Calla wasn't the older sister for nothing.
When the boat suddenly pitched to one side like a seesaw, Calla gripped the edge of the table until her knuckles went white. She pinned her desperate gaze across the cabin to a window to try and find the horizon but all she could see were waves. Then grey sky. Then waves again.
She had to get out of there fast.
Sam Hunter saw a flash of red-gold out of the corner of his eye.
He looked up from his book. A tall woman, dressed like a backpacker, was standing at the end of his table. Masses of wild red hair, a face as pale as white smoke, faint freckles on a straight nose. She was looking frantically around the cabin, one hand clamped firmly over her mouth. When she squeezed her eyes shut, Sam knew there wasn't a second to lose.
This was no time for polite conversation with a retching tourist who probably didn't speak English. He stood up and tugged at the loose arm of the denim jacket she'd knotted around her waist and she opened her eyes and stared right at him. Pale green. Her shoulders heaved and she swallowed.
He took her firmly by her shoulders and turned her towards the door to the viewing deck, five metres away across the cabin. âOver there,' he said with a gentle push in the right direction. She got the clue and bolted; she jerked the cabin door open against the wind and then flew outside. Sam stood for a moment, wondering if she'd made it to the side before losing her lunch. He hoped she was sensible enough not to puke into the wind.
He checked his watch. Only a few minutes more and the boat would be docking. Then he could head down to the hold, start his car and drive off onto the island. He turned back to the table. His book had flipped closed. He grabbed it, flicked through the pages, trying to remember what he'd been reading before the redhead had appeared. It didn't matter. The words had been a jumble before his eyes. He tossed it back on the table with a frustrated flick of his wrist and it slid across and bumped into his rucksack.
Sam glanced over to the door. He could see her through the porthole. Puking Girl's hair was whipping around her face and she was trying to pull it to one side as she leant over the rail. He knew she'd feel better once they hit dry land.
People struggled more with seasickness on the crossing in winter when the seas were pounding and the swell was huge â even seasoned travellers had been known to lose it. It was a dangerous stretch along that part of the South Australia coast, where the shallow waters of Gulf St Vincent met the ocean-deep Backstairs Passage. The large swells were constricted by a narrow channel as they swept up from the south, creating a hell storm for boats when the weather was bad. He'd been sick a handful of times when he was a kid, making the crossing with his family to visit the big smoke, but he'd grown out of it years back. And anyway, in recent years he'd mostly flown over instead of taking the boat. It saved hours of travelling time â and his time was short.
Sam shoved his book into his small rucksack and looped it over his shoulder. The familiar views of Penneshaw, homes and holiday houses built into the rise above the beach, told him that they were about to dock at Hog Bay. Curiosity and sympathy â maybe even duty of care â got the better of him and he took one last look out the window to see if the redhead was still leaning over the side. He crossed the cabin and opened the door. The strong wind hit him, forced him to suck in a breath, and it was spitting with rain. The horizon to the west was indistinct in the distance, sheets of rain smearing it into a blur. It was so familiar to him, the big grey pulsing sea and the mirage of the island appearing ahead in the distance, but it may as well have been a postcard on the fridge at the fire station. He'd stopped looking at it twenty years before.
Sam walked outside. He looked all around the walkway that lined the deck and then down into the open hold, where cars and trucks were parked tightly against each other.
The redhead was gone. Maybe she'd found her way back inside the cabin through the door on the other side. He shrugged his coat tighter against the wind. As he turned to head back into the cabin something caught his eye. On the deck, almost under his feet, was a crumpled piece of clothing. He picked it up and shook it out. It was a denim jacket. The redhead's. He took another look around but there was still no sign of her. As he draped it over an elbow, he noticed something pinned to the flap of the breast pocket. It was a brooch, or badge, or whatever: a white ceramic disc with tiny brush marks creating an intricate peacock feather. It looked one of a kind. Precious, maybe.