More Than One Night - By Sarah Mayberry Page 0,1

friendly face and a temporary place to stay had been as good a reason as any to pick Sydney as the site to start the next phase of her life.

She shut the bedroom door behind her. The room was small but bright, with a vase of flowers on the bedside table, a snowy-white quilt and a colorful rag rug on the floor. Her overnight bag and the mall purchases lay on the end of the bed, but instead of unpacking her meager belongings, she closed her eyes and took a deep breath, absorbing the reality of the situation, allowing herself to catch up with everything that had happened.

She was in Sydney. For the next little while she would be living with Gina. And soon she would have a home of her own.


She tried the word out in her mind. It sounded…odd. Surreal, almost. For the past fourteen years, home had been wherever the powers that be chose to send her. She’d moved six times while enlisted, but not once had she allowed herself to call anywhere home. It was pointless to get too attached to anything or anyone when you knew you’d soon be moving on to the next posting.

Not anymore, though. Now she was in charge of her own destiny.

There was a tight feeling in her chest as she crossed to the window to inspect the courtyard garden outside. She’d die before she admitted it to anyone, but rather than being excited by all the choices and possibilities that lay ahead of her, she was feeling more than a little overwhelmed.

Everything was so open. So unpredictable. So possible. Which was great—in theory. In practice, it was a bit like standing on the high diving board, staring down, down, down at a pool that seemed far too small. She knew she had to take the plunge—but that didn’t stop her from feeling pretty damn intimidated by what lay ahead.

Embarrassing when she considered some of the situations she’d dealt with during her time with her country’s defense force. As a highly trained communications engineer with the Royal Australia Corps of Sigs, or R.A. Sigs, as it was more commonly known, she’d served as the vault custodian in Iraq, handling all the cryptographic material for the Australian forces, and she’d been deployed to East Timor as part of Operation Astute in 2006, helping to preserve peace and stability in the region. Over her years of service, she’d gained a reputation for being cool under pressure, a force to be reckoned with.

She wasn’t sure where that coolness was right now. Maybe it was with her luggage, winging its way to an unknown destination. Or maybe she’d forgotten to pack it altogether. Maybe she’d left it behind, along with her khakis and a way of life that had constituted the entirety of her adulthood.

Stop freaking out. You can do this. How hard can it be? You find an apartment. You buy some furniture. You start a life. It’s not rocket science.

It only felt like it.

Clearly, more champagne was called for. But first she would shower, in accordance with Gina’s instructions. All part of being a good guest.

Her thoughts fixed firmly on the here and now, Charlie made her way to the bathroom.

“OKAY, MR. WALKER. You’ve got twenty minutes and then I’m due on a plane. Make them count,” Dieter Hanson said as he strode into the room.

Rhys Walker tried not to let the smile slip from his face as he shook hands with the tall, balding CEO. Rhys and his business partner, Greg, had been waiting for Hanson for nearly an hour past their appointed meeting time, cooling their heels in the hotel chain’s vast boardroom. The CEO’s assistant had popped her head in twice to assure them Mr. Hanson was “only five minutes away,” and both times Rhys had suggested they reschedule. But the woman had been adamant that Mr. Hanson wouldn’t be much longer.

Now Rhys eyed the man who had the power to change his life, irritation and adrenaline waging war in his bloodstream. He didn’t like having his time wasted, but he and Greg had been wooing various executives at the Gainsborough Hotel Group for over two months, and they finally had been bumped to the top. Like it or not, Dieter Hanson had the power to say yay or nay to the contract Rhys had negotiated with the man’s underlings. Which meant it was time to put his tap-dancing shoes on and sing for his supper.

“We’ll keep this short and