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Secret Words

By´╝ÜMiranda P. Charles

CHAPTER ONE


"No, no, no!" Jasmine Allen cried softly as she stared at the bold handwritten 'Out of Order' sign stuck to the door of the ladies' bathroom. Hoping against hope that a prankster put up the notice, she twisted the knob. Locked. Damn it!

Had she known that the car trip to Sydney's Royal National Park would take more than two hours, courtesy of the broken-down truck that created a traffic jam on the main highway, she wouldn't have drunk all that lemon and ginger tea for her sore throat before they left her sister's home.

She squinted at the map someone pinned to the door showing the directions to the nearest available ladies' room. It indicated it was about a five-minute walk away. But with her bladder close to bursting, she didn't have five minutes.

Well, there's the men's room, she thought desperately.

She walked around the small red brick building that stood amongst gum trees and chirping birds, hidden from the view of the picnic area where her sister Jessa, her fiancé Rob, and their friends were gathered for Rob's birthday.

She tried to listen for sounds from inside the men's restroom but couldn't hear anything. With fingers crossed that no one was inside, she cautiously placed her hand on the door to push it.

She let out a short yelp as the door was yanked open from the inside. Her eyes opened wide as they landed on a dark-haired man whose blue eyes stared back at her in horrified surprise.

Jasmine's mind went blank, forgetting for a moment why she was there. There was no other way to describe the man in front of her. He was a total hunk. She gaped at him for a long second, until her body reminded her she needed to go. Now.

"I think the ladies' room is around the corner to your right," Mr. Hunk said, seemingly recovered from his shock.

"It's out of order," she squeaked as she shoved him out of the way and ran for one of the cubicles.

Relief flooded her as she let go, followed by a sense of acute embarrassment. Did she just rudely push someone so she could go to the toilet? In the men's room? She felt her face burn. The fact that the guy she jostled was mega-hot and attractive didn't help her dignity and sense of femininity.

She finished her business and crept out of the cubicle, relieved that no one came in while she was there and disappointed that Mr. Hunk was gone. Well, what was she expecting? That he'd wait around for her?

She thought of blue eyes that belonged to a handsome face as she washed her hands. Maybe he was here on a picnic, too. If he used this particular bathroom, he must be hanging around close to her group's spot. Didn't her sister say they chose this part of the park because it was a lot quieter? A smile formed on her face at the possibility of bumping into him again.

The sound of male voices coming from outside prodded her to hurry up and leave the room she wasn't supposed to be in. She hastily turned towards the door, eager to get out, when she felt her left foot slip from underneath her.

"Oww!" She landed on her butt awkwardly, her arms thankfully managing to stop her upper body and head from hitting the floor.

Gingerly, she braced herself up and tried to stand. Pain shot up from her ankle and her face contorted in an ugly wince just as the door flung open. To her delight and chagrin, there he was again. Mr. Hunk. How freaking embarrassing!

"Are you okay?" he asked.

"Uh, I think so. I didn't notice the puddle."

"Here, let me help you up." Her knight in sexy blue jeans leaned down to give her a hand.

She smiled her thanks as she accepted his assistance.

"Ahem," a voice intruded, causing her to look away from Mr. Hunk's handsome face to find a middle-aged man poking his head inside the restroom.

"Excuse me. May I go in now?" the man asked.

"Yes," Mr. Hunk answered. "Thanks for waiting."

She gave her new friend a quizzical look.

"I told him not to go in until you came out," he explained.

"You were guarding the door for me?" she asked in disbelief.

"Yeah. I thought you might need a little privacy while you invaded the men's room," he said with a teasing grin.

"Thanks. That's very kind of you."

"No worries. There's not many people around in this part of the park and a pretty girl like you shouldn't be found in the men's room. It always pays to be careful," he said quietly, then turned his head towards the cubicles. "Not that I think you're dangerous, sir," he called out loudly to the older man.

"I understand," the other guy responded.

"Aahh," she cried softly as she put weight on her left foot.

"Your ankle?" her knight asked.

"Yes, I must have sprained it." Her eyes watered from the pain and the predicament she found herself in. She prayed her ankle wasn't too bad. Her sister's wedding was next week and she didn't want to be a limping bridesmaid on the day.

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