Return To The Outback.
Official Release Date: January 20th 2021. Yah... I can't wait. Woo Hoo!


She rolled her eyes. ‘Yes, Brian. When I can.’ She pressed the button to disconnect the call. Gathering herself, she headed down the hallway into the kitchen.

‘Dinner is almost ready,’ her mother called.

‘I’ll set the table.’

‘Thanks love.’

When she finished, her father was the first to sit.

‘You must be hungry.’

‘Famished.’ His jovial laughter warmed her insides. Considering the number of years her parents had been married they were blessed with happiness.

Her mother carried a dish to the table, and returned to collect some warm bread from the oven.

Ella recalled one of her mother’s sayings; “the way to a man’s heart, is through his stomach.” She grinned at the memory but she wasn’t sure if she agreed and she kept her thoughts to herself.

She chose a seat beside her father and her mother returned, sitting on his right.

‘There’s one thing we haven’t told you, Ells.’

She looked up, holding onto a fork. ‘What’s that, Dad?’

‘A lot of folk are saying Grant Mitchell is a cop. He’s been back for well over a month.’

Her heart pumped overtime. ‘He’s investigating the case or should I say, cases.’

‘I thought you’d know by now. He’s a Senior Detective Sergeant with Homicide. He was recently transferred from Melbourne to Sydney.’

‘What?’ Surprise washed over her father’s previously cheerful face. ‘That’s the first I’ve heard that he’s a cop.’

‘I was sent up here to join him in the investigation.’

‘Oh love. Do you think that’s a good idea considering what happened when you were young? You don’t want to go through all that emotion again, all that pain. You’ve come so far.’ Her mother picked up a piece of garlic bread.

‘I didn’t have a choice, Mum. Brian asked me to assist in this case and I couldn’t refuse him. He’s helped me a lot over the years with my career. He’s been good to me and we’re pretty close mates. I’ve been to his house several times and his wife and I get along well. Besides, I can handle Grant. It was a long time ago.’

‘It’s taken you so long to be…well, to be yourself once again. I know it was tragic. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think about it, but we have to get on with life as best as we know how. We’re lucky we have you. I hope you know what you’re doing.’

Ella hoped she knew what she was doing as well. She couldn’t imagine how she’d react when she set eyes on Grant again, but she’d find out soon enough.

‘His mother is a highly regarded citizen in this area.’ Raymond’s face filled with concern.

‘Why do you say that, Dad?’

‘He’s a decent man. Up until his father died, he used to visit his mother frequently. I heard he was taking time out. We thought he was a jackaroo and had been working away.’

Ella eyed Avonlea in the rear vision mirror as she took a right turn to head towards River Glen. She had fifteen minutes until the briefing.
Her nerves hiked up and her heartbeat increased. Setting eyes on Grant after all this time wasn’t something she thought would ever eventuate. After that tragic day she walked out of his life for good and if he wasn’t at the scene, it would have never happened.

She braced herself as she pulled up in front of the house, noticing several vehicles parked ahead. After a quick inspection of the area, consisting of a two-storey home which resembled a castle flanked by paddocks and sheds, she stepped from the vehicle and admired an impressive statue of a bronzed eagle centred in the middle of a turning circle.

After gathering a folder from the back seat, she headed towards the front door. Ivy snaked its way upwards, above large double doors, decorating the centre of the building. The home was almost as grand as Avonlea, but on a much larger scale with large pot plants set at intervals along the portico.

She pressed a buzzer located on the architrave and slid a few steps backwards. While she waited, she ran a hand over her navy pants, pressing out a few creases.

The door swung open and a tall man, around six feet one with wide shoulders filled the door frame. His unruly dark hair was tousled with light brown highlights, and curled just below his collar. He dressed in a black pair of pants and a crisp white shirt, with the sleeves rolled up to his elbows. He was more attractive at thirty-five than he was at twenty-one. She swallowed a lump forming in her throat. The strong urge to turn around and hightail it back to Avonlea seemed a good idea, but impossible. Brian had put his confidence in her and she couldn’t let him down, although this was going to be much harder than she anticipated.

‘Detective Hardy. It’s good to see you after so long.’ His voice was curt. ‘I hope the years have been kind to you.’

‘Yes. They have, thank you.’ Her stomach muscles tensed and she could scarcely breathe as his stunning emerald gaze roamed from her face to her light blue shirt, and down over her pants, only to return to rest on her face.

‘This is a surprise. I mean, that we’re on the same case.’ She baulked when he put out his hand, initiating a hand shake but she finally accepted his gesture and placed her palm in his. When his fingers relaxed, she slipped her hand to her side, hoping he hadn’t noticed the tell-tale sign of redness which usually marked her throat whenever her nerves got the better of her.

‘Come in. We’re using the southern wing. The operations room is set up in the office downstairs. Get used to it; you’ll be spending a lot of time here. There’s an entry door at the side of the… I suppose you remember the place.’

‘Yes. Um…I do.’

‘The others are waiting.’

Setting eyes on him rattled her insides, and tore all logic from her mind. He’d knocked her resolve and her usual confident manner slowly deteriorated.

Until then. Enjoy and be happy, for the simple things in life are the most wondrous. 🙂 x