Her Aussie Holiday - Stefanie London Page 0,2

away from the drama and having a beautiful location to work on achieving her dream: producing a novel worthy of publication.

Right now, that was the only thing that mattered.

Cora’s nose wrinkled at the smell of something unappealing and, with horror, figured out it was her. Looked like her grand life reset would have to wait until after a very long, very hot shower.

Trent Walters’s ute navigated the winding, overgrown road to his sister’s house. Although calling it a road seemed a little generous. More like a root-infested, teeth-rattling, wild, life-dodging driving “experience.” Why his adorable, social butterfly baby sister had chosen to purchase a home so secluded was beyond him.

But Liv had her own house and he didn’t, so who was he to judge? Being a builder by trade and a general handyman by hobby, Trent wanted the perfect house with the perfect view. Unfortunately, despite securing the ideal block of land upon which to build his dream home some time ago, he’d yet to make a start. Too many other commitments kept getting in the way.

To make matters worse, his best mate had decided to move his girlfriend into their shared house, and the nightly squeaking bedsprings and cries of “yes baby, do it harder” had finally become too much.

All of that was to say, Trent’s living situation was…fluid. For now, he would camp at his sister’s place while she was away. It was the perfect opportunity to get some extra work done on her renovations without her standing over his shoulder. First up: fix the shitty plumbing. The old pipes rattled like that angry, chained-up ghost in The Muppet Christmas Carol. It was like the Ghost of Bad DIYs Past. How Liv put up with the sound, he’d never know.

So he’d taken the plumbing apart earlier that morning in the hopes that he’d get it all fixed up by lunchtime tomorrow. Then he could finally have a shower without the walls moaning and groaning.

Never mind that Liv had told him to pause the work while she was away—that was an advantage. The less she suspected, the more impact the surprise would have. He was already picturing the big smile on her face when he did the “grand reveal” like he was on some home improvement reality show.

Trent eased the ute around the sharp corner to where his sister’s house was nestled among the bushland. Warm, salty air washed over him as he pushed the door open and hopped out onto the ground. He was covered in grime from spending the morning on a construction site for a new home overlooking the Patterson’s Bluff shoreline. It had an amazing view. They could see the smooth, calm waters of Port Phillip Bay and on a good day, the view would stretch endlessly, as if they could see all the way to the edge of the world.

Trent’s heavy steel-capped boots crunched over the path, crushing gum nuts and twigs as he headed toward the house. From the outside, it didn’t look like much, but by the time he was done with the inside…well, it would be an oasis for his little sister.

He kicked off his boots before heading inside. It was hot and stuffy in that typical late-summer way, with the kind of heat that could feel oppressive if you hadn’t grown up with it. Especially if you were inside with no air conditioning. Feeling sticky already, Trent pulled his T-shirt and socks off and dropped them into the hamper by the laundry. A funny feeling settled into his gut as he padded barefoot into the kitchen.

Something was off.

For starters, the kitchen window was closed. That would explain why the house felt so warm. The new air-con unit wasn’t due to arrive until later that week, so leaving the windows open was the only way to keep the place cool. He’d planned to fit the flyscreen after work so he could leave it open overnight without getting eaten alive by mozzies.

Maybe he’d accidentally closed the window without thinking. Shaking his head, he wrapped his hand around the refrigerator door. But something froze him in place. A sound. More specifically, a sound he should not be hearing.

Running water.

“What the…?” Trent abandoned his plans for a cold beer and headed toward the master bedroom.

Liv’s tiny en suite bathroom had the worst pipes Trent had ever seen. Whichever bozo had built this house originally had no idea what he was doing, Trent was sure of it. Not only were many elements not up to