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As soon as Paige laid eyes on Will McCrossin she knew he was not the man for the job. She didn't know what her business partner, Dan, had been thinking when he had recommended this guy. She knew that the two of them had served in the Australian Army together in Afghanistan a number of years back, but Paige could see nothing of the competent, professional soldier that her partner had described in the slumped figure before her. His head was propped up on the bar next to an empty glass tumbler that she guessed had been refilled a number of times. Paige brought the glass to her nose and sniffed. Scotch. His unshaven face was only just visible under the wide-brimmed hat pulled down over his eyes but it was obvious he was out cold. Paige sighed, pulling off her glasses to rub the bridge of her nose. A drunk. That was just what she needed right now. Thanks a lot, partner, she thought.
"Mr McCrossin?' she said. There was no sign of movement from the unconscious man. She said his name again-‘louder this time. Still nothing. Paige tried to suppress her rising panic. Time was getting away from her and she really needed this guy to wake up. Now. She slammed the glass back down on the bar right next to his slack jaw with a sharp thud. The few other dozy residents of the pub jumped at the sound, as did the flies that swirled around her head in the hot heavy air. But Sleeping Ugly kept right on sleeping.
Paige wasn't one to mess about even on a good day-‘and this was anything but a good day. She motioned to the bartender to refill the glass. He looked curious but did as she asked. Without ceremony, Paige tipped back the sleeping man's weathered brown hat and poured the contents of the glass all over his face.
That did the trick. The man who just minutes earlier she had foolishly hoped would be able to bring sense back to a world suddenly gone crazy snorted and sat up. Paige watched the amber liquid trickle down his stubbled jaw and under his shirt. If he was surprised or angry at being woken in such a way he didn't show it. He used the back of his sleeve to wipe over his face and then looked up at her, his eyes dark and piercing. "What can I do for you, sweetheart?' he drawled.