The Bridal Bargain

By: Emma Darcy


Job day!

Hannah O’Neill rolled out of her bunk in the youth hostel, collected the necessities and raced for the shower block, needing an early start this morning. She had to prime herself up for the interview which would win her the job she wanted. Of course, there were probably other jobs she could get, and certainly her financial situation demanded that she snag one this week, but chef on board a luxury catamaran doing day-trips to The Great Barrier Reef was definitely a plum position.

It was to be hoped that whoever was doing the hiring had been so impressed by her brilliant resume of previous experience, they hadn’t checked every minute detail. Not that she’d actually lied. Kitchen hands did assist chefs so saying she’d been an assistant chef was a perfectly reasonable statement. And a take-away fish and fries shop was a seafood restaurant—more or less.

All she needed was the chance to talk her way into being given the opportunity to prove she was as good as her word. It was her one great talent—convincing people she could do anything. Lots of zippy energy and confidence—that was all it took. Plus being a nice person to have around; cheerful disposition, ample tolerance, ready smile, never too proud to appeal for help.

On her two-year journey of discovery around Australia, these well-developed qualities had won her work whenever she had needed to replenish her bank balance. There was only the east coast left to explore now. She’d come across The Top End to Cooktown and down the Bloomfield Track to Cape Tribulation. Next stop, Port Douglas, where she hoped to stay for the main tourist season—May to November—provided she got a job.

The job, if luck was with her.

As she showered and washed her hair, Hannah gave herself the pleasure of remembering the wonderful days she’d had here at Cape Tribulation; hiking through the fantastic Daintree Forest which was as primeval in its own way as the ancient Kimberley Outback, then the incredible contrast of Myall Beach, surely the most beautiful beach in the world with its brilliant white sand and turquoise water.

It was sad to be leaving, but needs must, she told herself. Her shoestring budget was running out of string. Besides, Port Douglas and The Great Barrier Reef would undoubtedly prove a great new adventure. And it was time to get in touch with her family again to let them know she was still alive. Not that they worried overmuch about her. All the O’Neills had been brought up to be resourceful. But it was always nice to call in and catch up on the family gossip.

It would be interesting to find out if the faithless Flynn was still happily married to her ex-best friend, for whom he’d virtually jilted Hannah at the altar.

Two years on...the honeymoon period would definitely be over by now. Some darkly malevolent thoughts skated through Hannah’s mind. It was easy to say forgive and forget, move on. She’d certainly moved on, and on, and on, but forgiving and forgetting... not easy at all!

Nevertheless, today was a day for looking ahead and that was what she was going to do. The past was gone. No changing the Flynn-and-Jodie blot on the landscape of her life but it was a long way behind her now and she’d enjoyed a lot of bright and shiny days, weeks, months, since then. And if she got the job on Duchess, that would be as good as being a duchess.

Having towelled herself dry, she pulled on her clean jeans and the stretchy, no-wrinkle midriff top striped in green and blue and black and lipstick pink. It was a brilliant little top. Not only did it go with everything she carried with her, it showed off the great tan she’d acquired and picked up the green in her eyes.

Her long, crinkly blonde hair always took ages to dry, but the road trip to Port Douglas would probably consume the whole morning. She would have plenty of time to put it into a neat plait before the interview, which wasn’t until three o’clock this afternoon. Couldn’t have lots of hair flying around if she was to look like a professional chef.

Having checked that she’d packed everything into her bag, Hannah said goodbye to her fellow backpackers and headed off to The Boardwalk Cafe, needing to pick up some breakfast and hoping to beg a lift from someone going her way. One good thing about being on the tourist track. People were usually generous about giving help. It was fun chatting about where you’d been and what lay ahead.

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