Chapter One

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Propped up against the back doorway of the three-bedroom house I rented with my best friend, Anna Martin, I gazed up into the darkening, late afternoon sky. Dark grey storm clouds were looming across the horizon, making their way directly towards Hobart. The brown, brittle grass in our tiny backyard was the result of a dry winter and we were in dire need of some rain.

Off in the distance, a flash of lightning illuminated the sky, and the rumble of thunder soon followed, stirring up the neighbourhood dogs. I tucked my hands under my armpits, feeling the wind increase and temperature drop.

It had been a quiet Friday for me; shopping in the morning, lunch, then procrastinating about writing my novel for the rest of the afternoon. I found my lack of motivation to write increasing lately, and my editor was expecting a first draft soon. My first historical romance novel was published nearly two years ago and she was pressuring me into finishing this one as soon as possible. Hard to do when you've hit a brick wall.

I couldn't use lack of inspiration as an excuse. Having lived in Tasmania all my life, I was surrounded by history, and my interest in genealogy sure helped. My family tree alone could write a hundred stories.

So what was it going to take to cure my writer's block?

If only I could go back in time, I thought. That would certainly motivate me. It would sure make researching a lot easier.

The clouds were moving fast and the rain started to fall. I loved rain but was not a huge fan of storms, so I turned and went inside, pushing the heavy, creaky door closed behind me. It was an old house, but after living in it for five years, I had gotten used to its creaks, cracks and groans. Anna, on the other hand, preferred houses that didn't sound like they were about to cave in any minute. Being a real estate agent, she also claimed older houses were harder to sell - and were haunted. I laughed when she told me that and told her that could be a good selling point. She didn't agree.

My stomach grumbled, outdoing the thunder outside, and I checked my watch - 5:28. I hoped Anna would make it home before the storm - and bring takeaway, of course. Although, takeaway on Fridays was our weekly tradition.

It was as though Anna read my mind, and seconds later her car pulled into the driveway.

I made my way down the hallway to the front door and peered through the screen. The rain had well and truly arrived, making up for the previous months where it was almost non-existent. As I swung open the screen door, a cool, fresh breeze engulfed me, and the pleasant earthy scent of newly fallen rain permeated the air.

Was it wrong that I found it amusing to watch Anna get drenched as she struggled out of her car with a briefcase, handbag and a couple of takeaway bags? While I stood in the dry doorway in my warm track pants and fluffy socks? We only had a one car garage and because Anna used her car more than I used mine, hers had to be left out on the driveway. Which, unfortunately, meant getting caught in all sorts of weather.

With her hands full, Anna skilfully slammed the car door closed with her hip and made a dash for the front door. I stepped out of her way as she dove inside.

"Ugh," she groaned, as she dumped her briefcase and handbag on the floor. She ran her free hand through her damp, waist-length, blonde hair. "Apparently the storm's going to be a big one. But we're prepared if we lose power," she said, holding up the takeaway bags.

"Ooh, Chinese!" I exclaimed excitedly, plucking the two bags from her hands. I spun on my heels and hurried through the hallway to the dining room, placing the bags on the timber, rectangular table. The food smelt delicious.

Anna's giggle echoed through the hallway, followed by, "Someone's hungry."

Stepping into the kitchen to grab some plates and utensils, I called over my shoulder, "Starving. How was your day? Aside from getting drenched, that is." I stifled a laugh.

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