It’s the Queen’s Birthday long weekend this weekend on the East Coast of Australia, which is an extra special time of year for my re-published novella, The Goodbye Ride. Not that I’m an avid royalist or anything, it’s just that I chose to set the book on the Queen’s Birthday holiday, in gorgeous Hahndorf in the Adelaide Hills, and write about a boy, a girl, and a Ducati bike. If you fancy taking a fun sweet ride on the back of a classic old bike, this may be the perfect escape read for you 🙂
Here’s how the story starts:
Olivia Murphy had brass in pocket. One thousand dollars’ worth of brass to be exact—all hers and all hard-earned. Technically, the money was in her handbag not her pocket, but Liv wasn’t about to split hairs. The sun—for the moment at least—was shining, she’d given herself the day off tomorrow, and her parents were in Melbourne. She had the house to herself for four whole days.
The Langs’ place wasn’t far—just another few hundred metres’ walk out of town along the Hahndorf main street. She couldn’t see the glint of red, not yet. There were too many hedges in the way, too many neat brush fences, and her prize was set back from the road. Luke’s bike. Her brother’s Ducati Pantah 650. The bike she was about to pay Dean Lang ten thousand dollars to buy back.
If there’s one oak leaf stain on that paintwork, Mr Lang, you better get ready to knock another few hundred off your asking price.
Liv checked over her shoulder, just as she had every thirty seconds since she’d left the bank carrying ten hundred-dollar notes crisply folded in a plastic bag. The odds of getting mugged in Hahndorf weren’t high, unless by a Japanese tourist who wanted his photo taken. But why tempt fate?
She quickened her pace.
Her handbag bumped her hip. Liv clutched it close with her elbow and concentrated on where she put her feet. Rotting autumn leaves made slimy passage underfoot and the pavement was a twisted roller-coaster of treacherous roots.
On the opposite side of the road, ahead near the sixty sign, a bright red utility pulled to a stop. The driver braked hard enough to grind shining Mag wheels through the roadside slush.
It was one of those big, bristling testosterone-fuelled boy toys—one with more aerials than a radio station, mudflaps the size of a swamp, spotlights everywhere. A bull bar covered in RM Williams stickers snarled across the front.
Liv figured the driver must be heading up to camp in the backwaters of the Murray River for the Queen’s Birthday long weekend—some choice spot where he could shoot pigs and suck beers. He’d probably stopped to change CDs, throw One Hundred Best Beer Songs of All Time into the stacker.
‘Neanderthal,’ she muttered under her breath. He looked like the exact kind of arsehole who’d made her brother’s life hell.
The driver-side door opened and two feet eased out. Two feet clad in thongs. Thongs! Liv pulled her jacket tighter across her chest. Didn’t Mr Muscle Car know it was June and freezing?
No sense. No feeling.
Those feet were attached to a muscular pair of legs in black cargo shorts, and from there to a sculpted torso in a T-shirt that looked a half-size too tight.
The driver shoved his sunglasses to the top of his head, checked left and right, and his weight edged forward.
Fear iced Liv’s spine.
The brute had parked opposite Dean Lang’s house—directly opposite her bike—and now he zeroed in on the Ducati like a heat-seeking missile.
Guys like that don’t want 650 Pantahs. Guys like that drive utes! Utes with a cabin for bonking their bimbo girlfriends. Utes with a tray in the back so they can throw in a swag at the end of a big night.
Where was a Greyhound bus when a girl needed one? Not to hit him, mind. Just to slow him down a little. Okay, maybe wing him.
How far will Liv go to make the motorbike hers? Can a viticulturalist fall for a man who prefers beer? And will a romp on the Queen’s Birthday long weekend among the grapevines be long enough for Owen to convince Liv he’s interested in more than just a holiday fling?
The Goodbye Ride is a fresh, funny and poignant novella set in the beautiful Adelaide Hills. Enjoy it this Queen’s Birthday weekend, perhaps with a glass of your favourite wine.
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