Outback Ghost

By: Rachael Johns
To my fabulous readers


Welcome back to Bunyip Bay for the final installment in my ­Outback series. Thank you to everyone who has emailed me or posted messages on Facebook and told me how much they’ve enjoyed Outback Dreams and Outback Blaze. I’m excited to give you Outback Ghost, Adam and Stella’s story, but don’t worry if you haven’t read the first two as this book also stands on its own.

I hope by now you all know and love Adam and are itching to see him getting his own Happily Ever After and also find out some answers to the question of what happened to his sister who went missing twenty years ago.

I must confess I’m more than a little bit in love with Adam and so I had to find a heroine who truly deserved him. Enter Stella, who has been simmering in my mind for a long time waiting for her hero to turn up. She’s a strong and courageous young single mum and her daughter happens to have imaginary friends. Although I never had an imaginary friend myself while growing up, I kinda always wanted one, so it was fun to bring this topic into the book.

Although Outback Ghost has been one of my favourite romances to write, like my other books, it also deals with some more serious issues such as parenting a special needs child and learning to recover from grief. Once again I hope I’ve dealt with these issues in a realistic and empathetic way.

The Bunyip Bay books are the first series I’ve ever written and I hope you’ve enjoyed reading them as much as I enjoyed writing them. Remember I love to hear from readers either via my website (www.rachaeljohns.com) where you can keep up with my latest news or on Facebook or Twitter.

Happy reading.

X

Rach!





Acknowledgements


I love reading acknowledgments in other authors’ books but to be honest writing them is a little terrifying. I’m always scared I’ll forget someone crucial. So, here goes…

Once again I was able to write Outback Ghost because of a whole host of people who support me in one way or another.

As always thank you to the team at Harlequin – you are all wonderful and it’s fabulous to be working with such a great group of people. Also to my agent, Helen Breitwieser, for being such a great champion of my writing. To Jody Lee who edited Outback Ghost and said she cried every time she read it (I think in a good way), thanks for your hard work.

A book is a bit like a baby. It is a long time between conception and birth so when the book is finally out there, it’s awesome getting feedback from readers and reviewers. Big hugs to all of you who have taken the time to send me an email or leave a review somewhere stating how much you’ve enjoyed my books.

Thanks go to Bec and Tanya who let me pick their brains re missing persons and homicide investigations. You both gave me such good information and I wanted to use so much more than I could.

It’s been said that writing a book is a lonely experience but thanks to awesome writing friends I do not find that at all. Cathryn Hein, Beck Nicholas, Janette Radevski, Amanda Knight and Alissa Callen, thanks for your emails and phone calls and, in the case of Amanda, chauffeuring.

And last but never least to my mum, my hubby and the most patient boys I could possibly ask for. Thanks for putting up with my endless hours at the computer, my travels away from home and the fact you always have creases in your school uniforms because I don’t iron. Love you all.





Dedication


Best friends know how crazy you are and still choose to be seen with you in public. I’m lucky to have six women in my life I can call such friends and I want to thank them all for the support they’ve given me over the years.

Amy, Holly, Kirsten, Kristen, Leigh-Anne and Penny (alphabetical order girls) I’m so blessed to have you in my life and this book is for all of you.





CONTENTS


To my fabulous readers

Acknowledgements

Dedication

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Twenty

Chapter Twenty-one

Chapter Twenty-two

Chapter Twenty-three

Chapter Twenty-four

Chapter Twenty-five

Chapter Twenty-six

Epilogue





Chapter One


Twenty years ago Adam Burton had been playing in this very spot with not a care in the world on his shoulders. He’d been making mud pies out of the sludge in the bottom of the nearest dam, piling them up high and then shooting them down with his handmade catapult. His sister had been helping him – he remembered her girly pink T-shirt had been soaked with mud – but then…

He didn’t understand what had happened next. He vaguely remembered his catapult breaking and the focus it took to fix it. Could barely have been five minutes though and when he looked up, she was gone. Even now, whenever he thought of it, his heart thudded exactly as it had done that day.

He’d searched the area surrounding him, screaming her name and running faster than his legs had ever carried him before. There was barely any water in the dam but he ran all around it anyway, peering in desperation into the middle. But it was like she’d gone ‘poof’ and vanished into thin air. She could have gotten bored and walked back to the homestead, but even then something in his gut, in his heart, told him something real bad had happened.

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