Double Exposure

Eden has fled to the beautiful high country in the Victorian Alps to escape her domineering family and to enjoy her greatest passion – photography. When she happens on a very attractive man swimming in a river, she can't resist snapping a few shots of him for her portfolio. Adam Blackstone is an undercover cop living locally to infiltrate a gang of bikies suspected of drug trafficking. He soon realises the beautiful stranger in town has been photographing him and has to find out why. Adam is a man who can't trust anyone. He's intense, damaged, jaded. Eden is a woman who has spent her life wrapped in cottonwool, protected by controlling parents. They must both open their hearts and learn to trust one another if they are ever to be together. But first they must survive the danger that threatens to tear them apart. Double Exposure is an intense and thrilling romance that offers a blast of fresh alpine air in a pristine landscape.


1. Chapter One

Chapter One

There was a flash of colour, red streaking through blue-green. Eden's gaze followed as it danced through shining gum leaves. She stepped on dried twigs that cracked underfoot and dodged a low-hanging branch. The rosellas settled on a large tree fern and nibbled the unfurling fronds. She heard crackling sounds as they snapped through the delicate young leaves.

Eden carefully focused the lens, and a rosella filled the viewfinder. She'd set the shutter speed and aperture for the current lighting and was able to capture a series of shots. She studied the birds, lost for a second in their beauty and glorious colouring. If only she could get a close-up of one of them, with the others blurred in the background.

She walked silently into the forest of tree ferns. Dappled sunlight glowed between tiny leaves. She squinted up into the delicate branches at the flock of colourful birds. A noise startled them and the rosellas took off, screeching indignantly. She cursed under her breath but, not wanting to give up the perfect shot, jogged in the direction they'd disappeared.

The most difficult photos were often the most amazing, and this would be the ammunition she'd need to make her portfolio not just great, but outstanding.

She needed those birds.

She heard them chirping in the branches of a tall gum. Fibres of brown bark curled lazily to the ground, stripping the huge trunk naked. A ghost gum; the bones of the bush. Eden studied the tree through the viewfinder, looking for the dynamic angles she trusted her eyes would find.

The birds flew on. She glanced over her shoulder and gnawed her bottom lip with neat white teeth. There was just a glimpse of the little blue rental car she'd pushed as far up the dirt track as she dared. She hadn't told anyone, most importantly her parents, where she was. They thought she was at an IT conference in the middle of the city. Eden shuddered at the thought.

She couldn't risk getting lost, but she needed to make every day count. Just because this was the first it didn't mean she had time to squander. She moved to the ghost gum and tied her black woollen scarf to a low branch as a marker. Taking a steadying breath, she stepped around the tree and purposefully strode deeper into the bush.

The air was frigid. The damp undergrowth trapped moisture against wet leaves and trunks. Although the sun shone, it did little to warm the ground. Clouds shut out any warmth and the temperature dropped by several degrees. Typical snow weather. Eden made a mental note to visit Mount Buller. Views from the snow-capped mountain would add a striking series of photos to her collection.

She adjusted the bags that held her gear on her slight shoulder, watching where she stepped. Although she was from the city, she was well aware of the dangers that might be lurking in the undergrowth. Largely her parents were homebodies, preferring to stay around the house on holidays, catching up on their reading of the Financial Review, so her infrequent trips to the bush were burnt into her memory. Eden's travel aspirations had been fed by annual subscriptions to Australian Geographic and adventure internet sites. Although her feet were

cold and wet and her damp clothing was becoming increasingly uncomfortable, she was having the time of her life. She was living her new motto: Take a chance.

Her eyes were trained on her feet, so when she came to a rocky border she stopped abruptly. Then she looked up. Her breath caught.

The view was exquisite.

Her gear dropped to the ground as she lost herself in the valley. Mountains stretched to heaven, clutching the grey sky, cotton-wool clouds swirling at their apexes. Mists were pocketed on jagged slopes, lazily rising upwards. Tops of trees carpeted the mountains in the varying hues of a eucalyptus haze. Lighter in the distance, the tones became dark and lush at the drop in front of her. A sleek black river meandered around the ankles of the mountains. It swelled where it elbowed the base of the cliff, hooked by the natural flow of the land.

She'd seen these types of landscapes in the travel magazines she pored over, but had never come face to face with such a postcard view. Every sense screamed that this was going to be her big-ticket shot.

Eden carefully snapped her camera to the tripod and adjusted the legs on the uneven rocky ground. She chose the wide-angle lens she'd bought with last month's pay and attached it to the camera. She looked through the viewfinder, deciding on the angle.

Movement snagged her attention. There was a swimmer in the river below. Although the river was at the base of the mountain, she could clearly see his body gliding through the water. In such cold temperatures – astounding. He must have something seriously wrong with his temperature gauge.

She adjusted the lens and brought the swimmer into focus so that she could see him in close detail.

He cut through the water with expert, measured strokes. His head angled as he took a breath; an arm reached over his head and sliced the surface with barely a splash. He swam towards the bank, stopped, then stood waist-deep in water. An efficient flick of his head sent drops scattering, then he raked his fingers through his hair.

His chest shone with water, which accentuated broad shoulders, toned pecs and a stomach made from hardened ridges. A sleek furrow ran down the middle of his torso, from mid-chest to below the water line. His biceps tensed and Eden saw bulges where they bunched beneath smooth skin. He was incredibly fit and intensely masculine.

Eden focused the lens, magnifying his face. His hair was so darkened with water it looked almost black. Even brows were set above eyes that she was sure wouldn't miss a thing. As she studied him, he looked around, gaze darting into shadows. His nose was a straight line that perfectly sectioned his rather angular face. His cheeks were shadowed, highlighting the rigid plane of his sharp jawline. Stubble darkened the skin. His mouth was thinner at the top, fuller at the bottom and flattened into a stern line.

He looked a little older than her, but still young enough to touch his thirties. The set of his shoulders and firmness of his mouth made her feel as though he carried the weight of the

world. He scooped up water and splashed his upturned face, keeping his hands there until the water had run down his chest. It seemed to her a cleansing gesture.

Maybe he was as weary as he looked.

And it was an opportunity she couldn't miss. A semi-naked man swimming in a bush paradise, photographed with decorum, would set her folio apart. She took several shots as he rubbed his face with his fingertips. She adjusted the lens, taking tasteful close-ups, then more panoramic shots of him.

He walked towards the bank until the water was mid-hip. She gasped out loud as she realised he wasn't wearing anything. His hips were angular and well toned. Muscles bunched and pulled as he moved. He reminded her of a panther, body and mind honed in unison, made to hunt; each movement was measured, unconsciously graceful.


His next step would be the most revealing.

Her pulse fluttered, feeling like tiny butterflies at her wrists. Her hand shook slightly, positioned over the shutter button, not knowing whether she should take the next photo. Her brain told her to stop watching him, that she was being completely voyeuristic, crouching on a cliff watching a man in a private moment, but she couldn't find the will to pull her eyes from the viewfinder.

The world was just him.

She was entranced.


He stepped out and she gasped. He looked directly at her. Chilled blue sliced through the lens. She jerked backwards. The tripod toppled. She fumbled, trying to catch it. The flash flipped up and went off. A bright spark against the gloom of the overcast sky.

She held the camera to her chest, eyes darting back to the man in the water. He was a distance away, but even so, she knew he must have seen the flash.

Eden gathered up her gear, nerveless fingers fumbling with straps and bags. She stumbled, tripping on rocks and twigs. She fell onto her backside and scrambled away until the safety of overhanging branches protected her.

She sat, gasping. Her heart thumped. Body numb, she stared at nothing until her brain started working.

She cringed. He had to know she'd been watching him. Anyone with eyes as quick as his would put two and two together in a second. Setting off the flash was as good as a neon sign advertising 'voyeur here'. She hoped she was far enough away that he didn't get a good look at her, although a woman toppling over with a camera held against her chest was hard to miss.

She'd never done – anything – like that in her life. The mainstay of her day was her small cubicle, a mere cavity, in a city building that didn't allow much of a view.

Her first day on the road and she'd become a stalker.

She'd been unable to tear herself away from the sight of him. Physically, he looked as though he could take anything on and win, but she'd seen something broken inside. A grim weariness that even a swim in a cold river in the middle of winter couldn't wash away.

He'd thought he was alone. His guard had been down. He didn't look like a man who showed much to the world, but the brief glimpse she'd had was intriguing. It was all she'd be likely to see, though. The chances of finding him again were slight. Thank goodness. She peered below a leafy branch, but he'd gone.

She was safe.

She sighed, retrieving her camera from where it had fallen beside her. She went to pack it away but hesitated, then turned on the review button and flipped through some of the earlier shots she'd taken.

His image filled the little screen. His imposing physique was utterly devastating: ripped, toned and sinfully handsome. The quintessential bad boy. She studied each captivating image for a moment before scrolling to the next. Pain, exhaustion, weariness masked his features. His expression told an intriguing story.

One that had her wanting to read on.

She came to the last image. Her breath whooshed out. She didn't think she'd taken it when the camera had fallen.

He looked directly at her, his sharp gaze searing. Even though she knew it was a photograph, there was no denying the intense frost in that stare. He'd transformed in a nanosecond. She quickly turned the camera off and packed it into its case with shaking fingers. The photograph of him was raw enough, but seeing him up close and personal in the flesh would push her to an edge she didn't want to find.

Luckily, there was no way he'd ever know who'd taken it.


Format: eBook

ISBN: 9781742536569

Published: 15/09/2012

Length Category



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