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A twenty-acre farm in New South Wales wasn't a very big legacy, but it meant a lot to Kim and she was determined to go and live there. She was certainly not going to sell the place to the local big landowner—however attractive he might be!

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Summer Rainfall

Kerry Allyne


Patsy Abbott lifted her eyes from the newspaper she had been reading so avidly to gaze at the empty doorway to the lounge of the small flat, her head on one side, listening intently. Yes, that had been the front door she'd heard close. Excitement made her voice sound a little higher than usual as she called out hurriedly: ' Hey, Kim, come here quickly! There's something in the paper about your mother!'

it's more likely some unknown relative has died and they want me to come up with a million dollars in death duties! Besides. more to" herself than in any expectation of Patsy being able to answer her question. I'll have to give them a ring in the morning when I get to work. rising gracefully to her feet and walking through to the small kitchenette at the far end of the room. her head bent low in an effort not to miss any of the words that had caused her so much surprise when she had first read them. 'My mother!' she exclaimed. it's too late now. and if it's not. I don't know of any relatives. 'What on earth are you talking about?' Patsy nodded her head in assurance even as she patted the seat next to her on the old chintz-covered settee. http://www. wasn't it? And you used to live in North Sydney. ' That we'll have to wait until the morning to find out.' But these ads always refer to wills of somebody or other. what other reason could they have for wanting to get in touch with you?' Again Kim shrugged. or her family. Sydney. ' But why would they be wanting to get in touch with my mother. It was all there exactly as Patsy had said.' Patsy continued in an excited tone. 'Who cares why?' Patsy bubbled irrepressibly. and stabbed one small finger at the dark print as Kim sat beside her and looked over her shoulder at the appropriate column. ' the office will be closed. Although I really can't think of any reason why they should want to get in touch with Mum. turning it to dark fire. didn't you?' Kim nodded her head absently as she took the paper from Patsy's unresisting fingers to scan the advertisement herself.processtext. Solicitors.' She turned enquiring eyes to Kim. as one of her descendants?' she queried softly. 'That was your mother's name.Generated by ABC Amber LIT Converter.' .' she murmured aloud as her eyes followed through to the last of the printing. shaking her head.' she ordered.' 'Maybe some rich old relative has died and left you a million dollars. don't they? I or anyone knowing the whereabouts of any of her descendants. then I'll have managed to put it off for one more day. Suddenly Kim laughed. smiling at the girl next to her. then. Neither Mum nor Dad had any brothers or sisters. 'McBain. where she picked up the electric kettle and held it under the water tap.' If it's good news it will be all the better for having waited. George Street. and that will put us on our way to clearing the mystery?' Kim shrugged good-naturedly.' she answered over the sound of running water. they were both the only children of their respective parents.' she answered after taking a quick look at the small watch that encircled her slender wrist. conceding the point. ' It says they want to get in touch with one Moira Elizabeth Forsythe of North Sydney. her hazel eyes wide and serious.' Patsy suggested with a grin. there it is.html There was utter silence for a moment before a tall and attractive young girl appeared in the doorway. Her russet-coloured hair caught the light from the late afternoon sun streaming through the open window. ' But they don't put advertisements like that in the paper unless there's a very good reason for it. or me for that matter. ' Well. while her deep blue eyes stared at her friend in open disbelief. 'Come and see for yourself. 'Knowing my luck.' Look. Hyde and McBain. Why don't you ring up and make an appointment to see them. I guess.

' It must be this red hair of mine—at least that's the excuse I always give myself. please.' Kim broke off laughing to say.' ' Okay. and it wasn't until some hours later.' Kim smiled after her friend before beginning to arrange the salad on two plates which she had taken out from an overhead cupboard.' Both girls went into peals of laughter. but...' ' No more. Believe me.Generated by ABC Amber LIT Converter.processtext.' ' I know.' Patsy sobered immediately and glanced towards the clock on the kitchen wall. I know. As now. Don said he might be early tonight too. http://www.' ' Thanks a million.' ' Don't worry. 'Yes.. is that it?' 'Something like that. laughing. ' How on earth can you stand there so complacently as if nothing has happened? If it had been my mother they were after I'd be tearing my hair out with curiosity—I'm almost doing that now.' Kim interrupted ruefully.' I'll get the dinner ready and then all you'll have to do is shower and dress.' ' But you're not planning to lose your cool because your mother always told you that well-brought-up young ladies didn't do such things. But I must admit that keeping one's emotions under strict control is occasionally very helpful. Kim was seated on the tiny stool that stood in front of the rather dilapidated dressing table that had been provided as part of the furniture for the flat she now shared with .'' Kim started laughing too. 'Although I sometimes think Mum despaired of me ever learning the lesson. Fancy me forgetting—it's all this excitement over that ad in the paper. already halfway to the bathroom. Kim.' Kim reassured her. ' Don't remind me!' ' Like the time when that chap you were going out with wasn't satisfied with a cup of coffee and a kiss goodnight and you hit him over the head with your umbrella. I have. Showered and ready for bed. and it's your mother they want to contact. ' It's just as well it had been raining and the umbrella was handy.' Patsy called over her shoulder. just let him know a little more forcibly that I wasn't interested in furthering our relationship to that degree. but. that Kim was left with the solitude necessary to allow her tumbled thoughts to return once more to that unexpected advertisement in the afternoon's paper. ' I'll do the same for you one day.' she added truthfully. I'm just as curious as you are and I can hardly wait until tomorrow morning.' ' And then there was that time when . and I didn't want to completely massacre the poor man..' Kim turned twinkling blue eyes to her. 'otherwise the only other thing within grabbing distance was that ghastly china vase.html Patsy rose quickly and crossed to stand beside her friend as Kim plugged the kettle into the power point. your mother wins this time. after Patsy had only just managed to be ready on time to greet her current boyfriend. ' I can remember the times since she died that you forgot the lesson. 'But—changing the subject—haven't you got a date tonight? You're going to be awfully late if you don't watch out..' I'm just refusing to let it get to me. and I'm going to have to fly if I'm going to make it on time.' Patsy wagged a finger at her.' Kim grinned. for instance. opening the fridge door and taking out some salad and sliced meat.

At the time Patsy had been living with relatives in Sydney because her family lived in a western country town where her father had his own chemist's shop. ' And. the same flat that they now her mother's ingrained teachings would assert themselves and she would determinedly clamp down on her sometimes tempestuous emotions. as the saying went. it was just that they had become too set in their ways and hadn't had the necessary patience to adjust to the fact that they now had a young child to care for. not that they had ever referred to her as such. Or a Mr McBain. The added burden had caused her mother to become even more strict than ever. as this afternoon. dangerous teenage years. 'Well. wrinkling her nose scornfully at the slightly frowning reflection opposite. Try as she might Kim could recall no reason whatever for that request in the paper. or that she had ever envisaged.Generated by ABC Amber LIT Converter. her mother had returned to work in order to support herself and her small daughter. as always.. ' on the wrong side of forty'. which Kim had readily complied with. Kim had mourned her mother's passing quietly—as Mrs Forsythe would have wished— then had moved into the fiat with Patsy. realising that her mother was becoming too old to work for much longer and that it would soon be her responsibility to bring the money into the little household. undoing her short jacket and hanging it on the back of the door. She had no doubt that she had been a 'mistake' on the part of her parents.' she gasped on a rush of breath. when Kim had finished her schooling. In time. to be exact. not seeing in the mirror the wide-set blue eyes with their long dark lashes. so much so that at times it had been all she could do not to kick over the traces and rebel loudly and clearly. but her efforts had brought vividly to mind her early childhood and adolescent years with parents who had been.' Kim replied. Hers had been a very formal and strict upbringing. so her father had contacted his married sister and her husband with whom Patsy had stayed until she could earn enough to be able to afford a flat of her own. her straight brown hair bouncing merrily on her shoulders and her lively eyes questioning. ' Did you see them?' ' Yes. the dainty little nose or the softly curved mouth. Three years ago Kim's mother had softly and.processtext. to her mother's mind. before she came along. but every so often. her mother had firmly insisted that she take a course in secretarial work. with dignity. http://www. especially when Kim had entered those. and found that she had more freedom than she had ever had in her life before. thereafter. and moving from the stool slowly made her way over to the bed. Thoughtfully and slowly she allowed the hairbrush to tingle through her shining and riotously curling shoulder-length hair. Kim heaved a sigh and replaced her hairbrush on the dressing table in front of her. It was a wonderful feeling and one that Kim thoroughly enjoyed.?' . given up the will to live and passed away during her sleep one wild and stormy winter's night. Her father had died when she was ten years old from a not unexpected heart attack and.html Patsy. but Patsy had wanted to come to the city to live and work. Kim had hardly had time to put a foot in the door the next afternoon before Patsy came rushing down the short hallway. I saw them.. It was at secretarial college that Kim had first met Patsy and they had soon become firm friends. what happened? For goodness' sakes tell me.

' I don't think or her descendants—that's where I come in—but there could be complications . How could he have found out so soon that they'd found you?' A sudden thought crossed her mind. ' But you'll never believe it. but it seems that after it had . ' It seems that this Mr O'Sullivan was the one who was entitled to inherit under the later will. with prices being what they are. but as they couldn't locate it he requested Mr McBain to get in touch with him immediately they found the inheritor under the previous will.' ' Complications?' Patsy echoed. ' How come?' ' Well. ' You'll tell me now.' she explained slowly.processtext. ' What won't I believe? What.' Kim took pity on her.' The bald answer came with an abruptness that left Patsy gaping. 'Is there something on this place that makes it valuable?' Kim swept her hair back from her forehead with a slightly nervous hand. apparently my mother had an uncle who was still living up until a couple of months ago and he had this property up north that he left in his will to my mother. what?' ' That I've been left a property on the north coast. They've been searching for it for the last few months.html ' Let's go into the lounge and I'll make a cup of tea while I tell you. or I'll go out of my mind before you get around to doing it! I've already been roused on twice today by my boss for not paying attention—and all because I've been dying to get home and find out what's going on. but to no avail. ' No. a frown crossing her forehead. ' A big one?' Patsy finally managed. but even so.. all right. http://www.' ' All right. How come it goes to you? Did you have a wealthy relation after all?' ' From what Mr McBain told me. 'That sounds mighty peculiar to me.' ' And who says there was a later will? This Mr O'Sullivan? Is there any proof that there was another will?' 'Apparently another solicitor from Lismore—which is the nearest town—has been in touch with Mr McBain also and he has confirmed the fact that he witnessed a later will.' came the aggravatingly evasive answer. because—' she paused to give greater emphasis to her following statement.' ' True. so now they're having to go through with this one. it seems as if there should have been a later will than this one that left everything to Mum.Generated by ABC Amber LIT Converter. while Kim extracted a cigarette from her handbag and lit it before the other girl could comment. just to make it all legal and above board. what. 'he wants to buy the property from me!' 'A buyer already?' Patsy looked incredulous. But that seems a lot to me when my family never even had enough money to own their own home. twenty acres anywhere isn't to be sneezed at these days. but Mr McBain has asked me to go back to his office tomorrow afternoon after work because there's a Mr O'Sullivan coming down from the coast tomorrow and he wants to have a word with me in the solicitor's presence.. only twenty acres.' Patsy broke in exasperatedly.

I was thinking on the way home that I might even go up there for a while and have a look over the place. .com/abclit.. oh..' Kim's eyes flashed angrily at the thought.' ' You're not!' burst out Patsy in disbelief. It's the first time any of my family have ever owned any land and I think I would like to keep it. ' It sounds okay in theory. As I've said. Joseph Phillips— that's the name of Mum's uncle—-wouldn't leave it with them for safe-keeping but said that he knew a safe place for it. and I don't really have anything to keep me in Sydney.. ' It'll be okay. making her bright curls fly attractively. he apparently didn't trust anybody else to keep it for him.' Kim explained.'' ' Yes. then smiled wryly. don't know.. you'll see.Generated by ABC Amber LIT Converter. I wouldn't be too hasty. I suppose I could always sell the property to Mr O'Sullivan later.' agreed Kim with a rueful grin. 'Well. I think I would like to go up there.' Mr O'Sullivan's bad luck has become your good luck. ' I'm not sure Patsy. 'In that case he might find he's going to be sorely disappointed if I don't decide to sell—at least. ' but I thought it would make a nice change. or farming!' ' No. there might not even be a house on the property.processtext. what's a few more months or so?' She spread her hands wide enquiringly.' commented Patsy thoughtfully. then shook her head indecisively.' conceded Patsy unwillingly. except that I'd have to give up the flat with you. stubbing out her cigarette in a glass ashtray that lay on the bench in the kitchen.' 'That's of secondary importance. a worried look on her face. I've given it quite a lot of thought—they must need secretaries up there as well as down here. so that now they have no option but to continue with the old one. not at the moment. ' I don't know that I really care what he offers me. but. ' It's just that. Mr McBain told me that they'd checked all possible avenues of location and the solicitors have advertised time and time again. if I were you. http://www. ' But I wonder what your Mr O'Sullivan will think about it all? I expect he thinks he only has to come down here and offer you some money and you'll jump at it. I guess. fancy that. If he wants it that badly. her eyes clouded with thought. and I've still got most of the little amount of money I received after Mum died—and then. From what I can gather Joseph was pretty old and was going a little bit senile towards the last. I know I don't.html been made out and signed. settling back more comfortably on the settee. if the worst comes to the worst. What are you going to say to him tomorrow? Will you sell?' Kim hesitated for a moment.' she amended quickly. In fact.' Then seeing the worried look on her friend's face. Why not wait until you've seen this Mr O'Sullivan and heard what he offers you for the place?' Kim shook her head vigorously. Mr McBain told me there was this afternoon. there is. That's where old Joseph was living—so I suppose if he could live there then there's no reason why I can't do the same.' stated Patsy emphatically. ' but hadn't you better wait for a while and find out more about this place before you go careering off up there? I mean to say.' Patsy commented lamely. I.' ' And now they haven't been able to find it?' ' So it would seem. ' What would you do up there? You don't know anything about the land. but with no result.' ' Yes.

not quite in the middle. on their side boundary.' chuckled Kim.' confessed Kim with a husky laugh. I asked Mr McBain that myself.' ' Well. The only trouble is that there isn't a road on that boundary—it joins on to someone else's property.' and .' I can give as good as I get.' ' Come on.html Patsy moved towards the kitchenette and began slowly preparing the food they would be needing for their evening meal. I could refuse to sell it to him—and apparently it happened when the people before the O'Sullivans owned the land. out with it. ' Don't you bet on that!' she asserted with a half-laugh.' admitted Kim with a reluctant grin. ' Actually. but. more or less. But. He said that none of his family had been farmers and that they wouldn't be interested in running the place as a going concern.' Kim's eyes twinkled with devilment. your piece of property is stuck in the middle of theirs. showing pretty white teeth.. since the O'Sullivans have owned the main property they've been systematically re-purchasing the other properties. In the new one he left the property entirely to this Mr O'Sullivan.. and if you tell them you don't want to sell I can imagine that there might be a few fireworks when you see Mr O'Sullivan tomorrow afternoon.processtext. I gather. But however did that happen?' ' Oh. so they decided to sub-divide some of the land and sell it.' demanded Patsy. ' seeing that the O'Sullivans have some thousand acres or so. to cut a long story short.' Patsy stopped what she was doing and looked at her friend ruefully. ' Oh. http://www. I gather that my place is behind their homestead and. and that was what the new will was about. saying thoughtfully: 'But if the property isn't valuable. so perhaps Mr O'Sullivan had better watch out if he tries to browbeat me!' CHAPTER II . ' I come from the country and I know! The fact that one of them is coming down tomorrow is proof that they want that piece of land back—and I can't really say that I blame them if. anyway? It doesn't add up to me!' .Generated by ABC Amber LIT Converter. why does this Mr O'Sullivan have to come to see you in such a hurry to buy the place? Why should he want it so much. I can't see why they have to have my twenty as well—they won't miss it. no! You can't refuse to sell it to him if that's the case. intrigued.' Kim tossed her head defiantly.' ' I can understand why they want to buy it back. They weren't doing too well.' But I do have an access road across their land and from the rough drawing that Mr McBain did for me. ' What's the reason?' ' It's—it's in the middle of his property. but old Joseph Phillips wouldn't sell. as you say.

So good of you to be here promptly. an emerald green linen fitted tunic with short sleeves and beige top-stitching which she teamed with a pair of beige shoes and shoulder bag. In consequence she put on a dress that she hadn't worn before.Generated by ABC Amber LIT Converter. Kim was nervously aware of the fact that Rafe O'Sullivan could. she presented herself to the receptionist at the offices of McBain. she withdrew her own hand as quickly as possible and hurriedly seated herself in the chair that Mr McBain had. Miss Forsythe. deeply tanned skin. Kim swung her eyes away from the stranger to face Mr McBain as he came towards her. brought forward. The other man had his back to her. But. he might just not be quite so successful this afternoon in his attempts to obtain her twenty acres—she didn't intend to be a push-over by any means! Suddenly aware that the man under her scrutiny was holding a hand towards her and that Mr McBain had mentioned her name. ' er—interested in your new-found property.html The following morning Kim dressed carefully for the coming interview. http://www. It wasn't only because the man was so much younger than she had expected—not more than thirty-two at the most—nor the fact that he was probably one of the most devastatingly attractive men she had ever seen. in the meantime. the other and was immediately ushered into the same office in which she had been told the surprising news of her inheritance the day before. hair curled slightly towards the spotlessly white shirt that could be seen just above the collar of his jacket. a mouth that curved with humour and eyes that were almost a pure green. something telling her that the confidence she could gain from any source whatsoever would be a help when there was a man making a five-hundred-mile journey with the sole purpose of persuading her to sell her inheritance. whom Kim had met yesterday. responsibility and success—but. Kim's mouth tilted slightly with inward amusement and pleasure at the idea. his eyes never wavering from her face. so as to almost appear black. watching her intently the whole time she listened patiently to Mr McBain's rather dry voice . saying brightly: ' Ah. nor even was it the combination of dark hair. As he stood towering over her. As the young receptionist left the room and closed the door behind her. Kim could see that there were two men in the rather damp and musty office. but added slightly more make-up than usual—just to give that little extra boost to her morale! Throughout the day Kim found herself becoming progressively more nervous about the afternoon's meeting and her eyes seemed to stray to the office clock a hundred times each hour. Kim came back to reality with her face flushing becomingly and mumbling something appropriate in response to his greeting and allowed him to shake her small hand with his own strong one.' he smiled self-consciously. rather it was the expression in the eyes—an alive glint that Kim could only describe as devilish! Here was no country hick come to town—rather he had a worldly air about him that bespoke authority. She had brushed her hair until it shone like the morning sunshine and left it curling around her shoulders. Conscious of him as she had never been of any other man before. promptly at a quarter past five. and was.processtext. Hyde and McBain. Kim felt her stomach do a rapid somersault before dropping with a jolt that left her feeling quite breathless. after he resumed his own seat.' At this the dark-haired stranger turned slightly in his chair before rising to his feet in a measured movement that had Kim thinking of a coiled spring. Mr McBain. was facing her and rising from his chair behind a littered desk. his well-cut dark suit fitting extremely broad shoulders perfectly and his dark. I'd like to introduce you to Mr Rafe O'Sullivan.

Mr O'Sullivan. took a deep breath and dropped her bombshell. ' But. http://www. If I were you. ' And just what type have you so arbitrarily decided that I am.' ' But you're not me. I don't see why I couldn't!' His ensuing laughter at this remark was definitely mocking. and though I know that in some instances the facilities available in the country are .' he accused. ' I know. ' and I certainly didn't envisage anyone doing any of my work for me. when I explained the situation to you yesterday there was no mention made of your wanting to keep the property. but immediately dragged her gaze away again after confronting those very penetrating eyes. although I may not be country born and bred. staring at her in pure astonishment. Mr McBain.' Kim's eyes flashed at this description and she glared at him in annoyance. The solicitor had now finished his lengthy discourse and was waiting expectantly for her to answer. then. I would stay right here in the city with all your mod cons and forget about that idyllic little picture you have in your mind of gracious country living with other people on hand to do the hard work for you. I do happen to be able to read. before giving herself time to consider the sense of what she was saying. blurted out. and feeling the warm colour flooding into her cheeks again. Mr O'Sullivan. Mr O'Sullivan?' she demanded haughtily. ' And just what are you planning to do with the land? Farm it yourself?' Goaded into antagonism. Miss Forsythe?' he answered laconically.Generated by ABC Amber LIT Converter. belied by the tensely clasped hands and rigidly held head as Kim attempted to keep her volatile temper in check. lazily crossing one long leg over the other before answering. and I'm sorry if it's caused any ' I'm sorry. And one who also thinks that living in the country is exactly the same as living in the city except that there are fewer people. ' you're certainly not the type to be wanting to run a farm. ' Don't you. Kim turned around angrily and. Rafe leaned back comfortably in his chair. A deep and somewhat scornful voice came from somewhere close to Kim's right ear. while Mr McBain jerked upright. my dear Miss Forsythe.' Kim apologised softly.' his eyes slid over her new outfit appraisingly. ' Farming isn't a game you can play if you suddenly feel like it—and from where I'm sitting. ' I might just give it a go.html explaining for the second time the circumstances surrounding her inheritance and Rafe O'Sullivan's offer for the property. ' But I've thought it over carefully and—and that's my decision!' she ended a trifle defiantly.' came the sugary sweet reply. When he actually mentioned the sum involved Kim gave an audible gasp and involuntarily swung her head around to look directly at the man beside her. keeping her eyes on the figure in front of her.processtext. 'One who thinks she can look after herself no matter what happens. Miss Forsythe. You needn't think you can scare me off so easily with your innuendoes of no conveniences because. but who hasn't really had it put to the test yet. his look faintly amused. but I don't want to sell the property!' She could feel the man next to her tense as he moved forward on his chair. made up her mind impulsively. Kim cleared her throat. or even look capable of so doing. challenging him with a stormy glance.

'How dare you suggest that I'm angling for a larger bid— nothing was further from my mind. and I really do think it would be wiser if you. I was not. her expression defiant. but as farming land it really only has value to the O'Sullivans. I doubt if anyone else would be all that interested in it—situated as it is.html considerably less than those in the city. Mr McBain. I am also very much aware that the north coast of New South Wales isn't the same as the middle of the outback. 'I do not want to sell the property!' Mr McBain opened his mouth to remonstrate with her.' He smiled in a conciliatory manner that only served to strengthen Kim's resolve not to let go of her inheritance—at least. Mr McBain now scraped his chair forward. http://www. but I thank you for your efforts on my behalf. her only emotion one of desire to put this self-assured man well and truly in his place. I really feel I must add my own warnings in this matter. Mr McBain. but my mind is quite definitely made up. ' No! Miss Forsythe has made her decision.' and at his sardonic raising of one expressive eyebrow.Generated by ABC Amber LIT Converter.processtext. gave a little more consideration to Mr O'Sullivan's extremely generous offer. 'As Mr O'Sullivan has warned you. . ' But. Mr O'Sullivan! And if the land is so valuable then even if you don't make another offer I can see no reason why I shouldn't sell it to somebody else!' That should really set him back on his heels' Unfortunately Kim had underrated her opponent. I feel I wouldn't be doing my duty towards you if I allowed you to dismiss it as lightly as you appear to have done so far. not at this juncture. Miss' ' And what's that supposed to mean?' Mr McBain once more hurled himself into the breach in an effort to bring some sort of order back to the proceedings. Out loud Kim replied firmly.' She glanced directly at the man on the next chair. ' Let's just hope that Miss Forsythe has no regrets regarding her impetuous rejection of my offer when she actually takes up residence and discovers that it isn't a place for a female to live alone—let alone one from the city—and is consequently disappointed when I don't make a higher offer. ' and as indeed my own colleague has informed me. as old Joe found out to his cost after he bought the place. Miss Forsythe. With this thought in mind Kim was in no mood to listen to what he had to say with an unbiased ear. at least. she added to herself. and all your hints at the lack of amenities aren't going to make me believe that it is!' Having worriedly been aware that he was rapidly losing control of the interview. ' I'm sorry to disillusion you.' He glanced at Rafe in what Kim could only describe as a conspiratorial manner as if joining forces to convince a rather stupid female of their superiority in the knowledge of such matters. ' Once again I can only say I'm sorry for any inconvenience caused.' His glance in Kim's direction was mocking.' Mr McBain continued. but Rafe held up a well-shaped hand.' At this piece of effrontery Kim turned on him scornfully. a look of unconcealed exasperation on his face. harumphed in a rather pompous manner and broke in. the property has been allowed to run down considerably over the last few years. ' no.

' Once again. and was brought up. He lost his whole harvest of small crops which. Miss http://www.processtext.' . feeling quite benevolent under the charming smile being given him.' Kim murmured softly. as to when I shall be at liberty to claim my inheritance in situ?' Now also on his feet. just about sent him bankrupt. Mr O'Sullivan?' ' We have never been flooded out. coming on top of the virus that had gone through his crop the year before. and Kim found herself wondering what he was thinking— that she was an ignorant. a brief smile curving the corners of her soft mouth. ' But as you no doubt know. only to find that he was closer behind her than she had realised.Generated by ABC Amber LIT Converter. you understand. Miss Forsythe.html ' I—hmm—understand that quite a large proportion of the acreage has been known to suffer flooding—not in every heavy downpour. she rose to her feet and proffered an outstretched hand in the direction of the solicitor. Her voice seemed very small and stilted as she said good-bye. and therefore anyone knowing the area well would be extremely dubious about purchasing such a property. only too aware of her limited knowledge of the area where her great-uncle had chosen to buy land and the natural hazards associated therewith. and I wish you every success with your decision.' Again that look of self-assured superiority that set Kim's teeth on edge. ' Most of ours is high ground.' Kim looked suspiciously from one to the other before finally addressing her next remark to Rafe. ' Oh. Mr McBain.' ' But my great-uncle managed to live there. probably! But what did she care what he thought of her? The property had been left to her. Mr McBain clasped her hand in a warm. when he became too ill to do much work at all.' he hastened to assure Kim. a later will notwithstanding. ' How did he manage if it's as bad as you're trying to make out?' Rafe's eyes narrowed at the implied insinuations in Kim's words and his following remarks were made in an ironic tone. ' After the last big flood. suddenly with her nose practically pressing into that very well-cut jacket he was wearing. he didn't make out. that's quite correct. but she certainly didn't intend for the annoying creature next to her to be in a position where it was he who broadened that knowledge. I can only apologise for any trouble I may have caused you. fatherly manner. With a challenging lift to her chin Kim decided that no interests could be served by her staying any longer and that it was time the interview came to an end.' Kim thanked him prettily and turned reluctantly to Rafe. ' And how long has it been since you were flooded out. the northern rivers area of New South Wales is subjected at various times to heavy flooding. and she had every right to five there if she wanted to! . A rosy flush of embarrassment covered her cheekbones when she was forced to take a step backwards in order to look up at him. while those daring eyes of Rafe's glinted over her upturned face speculatively. but I thank you most sincerely for the time you've taken with me in this matter. Catching a firm grip on her shoulder bag with one hand. troublesome female. Miss Forsythe. as was Rafe O'Sullivan.' Kim argued. and I take it that I shall be hearing from you. and from then on he completely lost interest in his land and began taking odd jobs about the district until the last years of his life. ' Yes. It stood to reason that when the previous owners decided to split the property they would sell the worst areas first. in due course.

how did it go?' she demanded instantly. he just said. fighting a cigarette before answering her friend's rapid questions. No. She shook her head wonderingly as she started walking towards the station.' she replied vaguely. as I've been thinking you might.. slim fingers and she now dragged them from his grasp to slip around him towards the door. and when she looked up at him with a frown of non-comprehension. causing some passers-by to look at her strangely and bringing hot colour to her face once again that day when she intercepted some of their odd glances.' Kim's face cleared magically—for a moment those first words had sounded distinctly threatening. down the rather rickety old stairs and out into the bustling throng of George Street pedestrians. Kim made a wry face. he laughed softly and explained. still mulling over the interview that had just taken place and still trying to come up with some idea as to why Rafe O'Sullivan hadn't seemed more upset and put out when she had finally made it clear that she had no intention of parting with her property. Now she paused to catch her breath. but after making some extremely disparaging remarks about my ability to do anything with the land. he was there before her holding the door open with a graciousness that was belied by the laughter dancing in his green eyes. Even by the time she arrived home Kim hadn't come up with an acceptable answer to that problem—unless—unless he figured he could obtain it for a cheaper price once she had moved up there and seen the place for herself.. put Mr O'Sullivan duly in his place by informing him that you want to keep the place? Tell me all!' Kim started laughing and plumped down on the old chintz settee.' interrupted Patsy wryly.processtext. http://www.' She raised her shoulders perplexedly and enquired of Patsy: ' What do you make of it?' . Kim made her way down the steps into the cool caverns of the underground station. her bright eyes dancing. and dropping her gaze from his she sped away through the outer office. yes. then grinned. with gentlemanly courtesy. otherwise why had he rushed down to Sydney so quickly once a legatee had been discovered? Some few minutes after Kim had reached the flat. " I'll see you later. ' In fact. Mr O'Sullivan seemed almost as though he couldn't care less about it. that couldn't be it. one at a time! First of all. although he had made some pretty scathing remarks to her.. ' Oh! Oh.html With a start Kim realised he still had hold of her long.' 'I can imagine. Hurrying' he murmured quietly as she passed in front of him. ' One at a time. of course. it came as quite a bit of a shock to both Mr McBain and Mr O'Sullivan when I said I didn't want to sell at all.' concluded Kim. ' When you take up residence. Patsy bounded in on a wave of exuberant curiosity. ' Well. when he had bade her farewell he hadn't appeared in the least put out by her failure to allow him to purchase the land. However. at the end. having forgotten for the moment that when she moved to the north coast this man would be one of her neighbours. * Did you agree to sell the property? Or did you." and laughed. ' I'll see you later. deep furrows creasing the smooth skin of her forehead.Generated by ABC Amber LIT Converter. '. The striking Rafe O'Sullivan had been a complete surprise from start to finish and..

' He's in his early Patsy! Of course there isn't—I only met the man for a short time this afternoon and we were barely civil to one another. ' Goodness only knows. not like that at all. ' I would say that Mr O'Sullivan knows exactly what he's doing—I just didn't expect him to give up so—so easily.' Patsy gurgled. extremely capable. her interest really aroused now. my love?' Kim put out her cigarette in a rush before answering with a slightly self-conscious laugh. he's not my type!' ' Come off it.' .' ' Why's that?' enquired Kim. but a calmness of tone of which she was proud. ' What's he like.' ' Okay. so he is attractive and maybe—I said. http://www.' she made a few circles in the air with her forefinger next to her temple. '.' Patsy sat forward in her chair. What was the rest of him like?' 'Big and strong and tanned to a deep bronze. heavy-set and an " I rule with an iron rod " manner?' guessed Patsy. her thoughts returning involuntarily to that first moment of disbelief when he had turned to greet her. changing the subject completely with her next statement. ' No. startling green eyes and.' She looked at Kim puzzledly. Anyway.' Patsy agreed. Kim. ' No.' Kim owned with a rueful grin. ' Oh.' came the somewhat flat reply. I would guess. this Mr O'Sullivan? He's not. no doubt. but it does sound rather strange. shaking her head. and he's beginning to get too serious for my liking.' Kim enlightened her absently.. 'I'm going to make the dinner—are you joining me. I'm cutting down on our dates..' was the dry suggestion.Generated by ABC Amber LIT Converter.' But I don't love him.html Patsy shook her head. or are you going out for your meal with Don again?' Patsy joined her friend at the kitchenette doorway. looking down at the shorter girl closely. starting to search in the drawer for cutlery. it's an early night for me tonight.' supplied Kim with a laugh of pure enjoyment at the thought. Besides. very dark hair. and that self-confident way of his—well. doesn't it? First he rushes down here in order to buy you out.processtext. ' Better and better! And do I detect a slight quickening of the old heartbeats on your part. eyes gleaming. I suppose. I'm not ready to settle down just yet—there are still quite a few things I'd like to see and do before I find my Mr Right. but glancing over her shoulder at Kim. don't be ridiculous. ' Dark hair and green eyes sounds rather dishy to me. Maybe he has a younger brother somewhere in the background who isn't married. is he?' ' No! Definitely not that. he's just not on my wavelength.' ' What was he like then? About fifty-ish. he's not round the bend a bit..' ' No need to sound so forlorn about it. he's probably married and got a handful of children as well. you're incorrigible!' Kim burst out with a wide smile as she rose to her feet and headed for the kitchenette. Patsy. that's all. her head tilted to one side. just maybe—I might have been a little interested in other circumstances. ' Oh. and then isn't worried when you won't sell.' 'I do. ' By your description he'd be any girl's type—yours included. ' But after the way he spoke..' I thought you liked him.

Still. might consider the idea harebrained. She only had a few more miles to go now before she reached Lismore and then. the country had started to broaden out and she began to feel as if she really had left the city behind. but she was still unattached. It had been fortunate that she'd learnt to drive. which was apparently only another few miles or so further. she would at last have reached her destination. when that girl's parents had bought her a small car after she had completed her secretarial course. In all two months had passed since that inauspicious meeting with Rafe O'Sullivan in Mr McBain's office. after a few enquiries as to how to reach Diamond Downs.Generated by ABC Amber LIT Converter. She hadn't realised that there would be so much to pack and so much that would need bringing. partly because she doubted if the car could have made it in one day. It hadn't helped at all either that the sun had been blazing down like a great golden ball ever since she had started on the road early that morning. as it had also done for the whole of the previous day.processtext. she couldn't complain.html Kim nodded her head. . She had left Sydney early the previous morning after tearful farewells to Patsy and extracting a promise from her that she would come and spend her holidays in the north. Kim had just about all her worldly belongings stowed in the small luggage compartment and packed tightly on the back seat. as well as covering most of the front passenger seat Don had been good enough to go round with her to dozens of used-car sales yards in an effort to find a reliable vehicle for the small amount of money that Kim had to spare. not mentioning any names. Two months in which there seemed so much that had to be contended with—not the least of which had been the purchase of the little old Mini that she was now driving northwards at what seemed to Kim a deadly snail's pace when measured against the flashing speed of the other cars on the highway that skipped around her effortlessly. and once she had travelled the rather uninteresting first hundred miles to the industrial city of Newcastle via the tollway. Kim had decided to make the five-hundred-odd-mile journey in two days. Some. completely in accord. so why shouldn't she do exactly as she pleased with her life? CHAPTER III Kim pulled at the collar of her open-necked shirt in an effort to let a little of the cool breeze that was fitfully penetrating the hot interior of the car circulate around her hot neck. and partly because she had wanted to enjoy the scenery on the way. She could understand how Patsy felt—it was partly similar thoughts that had given her the idea of going north and living on this property that old Joe Phillips had left. along with Patsy. http://www. even had she wanted it to. and consequently there wasn't much room for the air to move around in the vehicle and Kim was finding it extremely hot and tiring.

thus closing out the slight breeze that Kim had attempted to enjoy on her drive. she found perspiration beading quickly at her temples and tendrils of curly hair clung damply to her forehead. She had dearly wanted to stop and cool off by that gleaming stream of water. These she brushed backwards with an impatient hand as an attendant came towards her. vegetables or livestock that might be bringing with them the death-dealing cattle tick. Some time after leaving Coffs Harbour and the pretty little motel where she had spent a contentedly restful night. and liked what she saw—except that as she drew closer it appeared to be getting hotter and hotter. but knew that. Her arrival. after a few false turns which Kim knew were wrong when she eventually came to a gateway . to say the least. Past Grafton there had been another set of tick gates and then the small tree-lined town of Casino set out in the middle of the plains after a long road punctuated at intervals by signs telling drivers to beware of kangaroos on the highway. and after a long. but rather that Kim had an extremely difficult time in piecing together his directions. in the town of Grafton had filled Kim with a feeling of wonderment as she travelled down wide streets lined on either side by giant jacaranda trees that were masses of dark blue blooms while the streets beneath them were covered with a thick blue carpet of fallen blossoms. as she pulled in at a service station in order to ask directions-for the final leg of her journey and to stretch her legs a little.html The towns she had passed through had all been quite new to her and. they had successfully managed to stop the menace from invading the whole State. Here she arranged for her mail to be forwarded and also gained rather indefinite directions to her new home. It was confusing. http://www. the blues and greens of the water shining and sparkling under the rays of the brilliant sunshine. and now here she was at last entering the outskirts of Lismore. had she done so. By these means. That had been Coffs She had fallen in love with Nambucca Heads where the river ran right alongside the highway. The young couple who had shared a table with Kim in the motel dining room the evening before had explained that the cattle tick had come down originally from Queensland. with its long jetty thrusting deep into the winking blue sea and its multitude of verdant banana plantations running down almost into the ocean itself. therefore. and now. slow drive through the heat of the day she wasn't at her best for navigating strange areas. caught her attention. later that morning. after having collected a few groceries to tide her over the first few days and having ascertained the right road and direction from the attentive young garage employee.Generated by ABC Amber LIT Converter. The steepness of the slopes needed for the successful growing of that delicious fruit left her feeling sorry for those who had to harvest the great bunches as they neared ripening. but that New South Wales had managed to contain it within the northeastern corner of the State by the judicious use of tick gates and dipping controlled by the Pastures Protection Board. but it also happened to be right at the bottom of a large semi-circle of hills. Kim had been through the first of the tick gates where all the southern bound traffic had to stop so that the vehicles might be inspected to ascertain whether they were carrying any fruit. Once over the hill she found to her relief that the going was a lot cooler and without too much trouble she found the little post office and general store that was all that consisted of the local township of Diamond Downs.processtext. Not that the little old postmaster didn't know where it was. Like all old towns of the day Lismore had been sited on the Richmond River for obvious reasons. whereby any living matter that came out of the area had to be dipped. Some time later she thankfully wound her way over those breeze-defying hills. However. she would never have made it to her planned resting place for the night. She just wasn't used to roads that looked like dirt tracks and that had no means of identifying them. Kim looked about her with interest at the town which would be the nearest large collection of homes and people to her new abode.

com/abclit. she could see before her that the track forked in the near distance. she smiled wryly—perhaps it was as well that Don had compelled her to listen while he had explained the procedure for changing a wheel. that was impossible. Straightening. she glanced down towards the little house—if it had been a sealed road she might have been tempted to chance a very slow drive down there but. by now. a ready smile on his good-looking features as he pushed his bush hat to the back of his head. With a despairing shrug of her shoulders she . if anything. realising that she wasn't alone any more. Kim could see that some distance away on her left there was a house. she was acutely conscious of her creased blue and white check blouse which. except that this man had dark brown eyes. and the other leading down towards a small house set by a clear-running creek. but it was clearly evident that they were closely related. A young man in his middle twenties emerged from the vehicle and strode towards her. the postmaster had told her— finally she breathed a sigh of pure gratitude when she at last drew up beside an old tin attached to a wooden stake with the name " J. After five successive attempts to undo them Kim sat back on her heels and swept her forearm across her perspiring forehead in a gesture of defeat.processtext. http://www. The newcomer came to stand beside her. Shading her eyes from the sun. but it didn't help her much when the attendant at the garage had tightened them so securely that she was sure it would take someone with the strength of Samson to get them off again! Abruptly she looked up. his likeness to Rafe was uncanny. thought Kim passionately—it would be wonderful to sit with her feet in that heavenly looking water.Generated by ABC Amber LIT Converter. querying: ' In trouble?' Kim nodded silently and pointed to the offending tyre. Every so often she could hear a heavy thud as a larger stone than usual was thrown up by her wheels and hit the undercarriage of her car with a force that surprised her considering the slow speed at which she was moving. Turning in the gateway and thumping across the cattle grid. however. was sticking to the middle of her back with perspiration. but then she was scraping and crunching forward again until. and that an old and battered utility had pulled up in front of her stranded Mini. Slowly and laboriously she dragged out all her carefully packed suitcases and sundry packages and finally succeeded in locating the heavy toolbox. she was almost there. She groaned again —there was nothing else for it. Dislocating the hub-cap. Phillips " blazoned across one side in thick black paint. all the tools that Don had insisted that she needed to go with the car had to be at the back. as she topped the brow of a small hill. its roof glinting in the afternoon sun. only to stare despairingly at the now flattened tyre. the track that she now followed was even worse than the roads she had just traversed and she needed all her concentration to follow in the deep wheel ruts that had already been traced across the deeply grassed paddock. With a groan of sheer dismay Kim stopped the car and stepped out quickly. Only one more gate to go and that must mark her own boundary! She put her foot down a little harder on the accelerator and as the car jumped forward in response she felt it sway and then came an ominously lopsided feeling from one of the back wheels. Thank goodness. Unfortunately. and she wondered fleetingly if that was where the O'Sullivans lived. cool-looking trees. Her interest in the house was short-lived. and the crumpled state of her blue cotton slacks. Now what was she going to do? It was all very well knowing how to change the wheel. she would have to change the tyre! With dragging feet she took the keys from the ignition and unlocked the luggage compartment. one turning leading straight on past a gateway. for.html or a large post box with the wrong name on it—her turning had a large four-gallon drum as a post box beside the gateway. With a shock Kim deduced that he must be an O'Sullivan. what he hadn't foreseen was the fact that she just wasn't strong enough to loosen the nuts securing the wheel to the axle. with the road as it was. surrounded by dark. Of course.

Rafe O'Sullivan had made more of an impact on her than she cared for. And never likely to be either! As she had told Patsy.' Nonchalantly brushing some of the dust and dirt from her hands.' ' Are there many of you in the family?' Kim put her interest down to wanting to know more about her new neighbours. If he had he might have been a little surprised at the look of intense interest that was on Kim's face. whoever she might be! In no time at all Rick had the spare wheel on. except Mona. but they're holidaying in Europe at the moment. or are most of you married and living in your own homes?' There. At the same time she also had to admit that if the two members of the group that she had met were any measure for the rest of the family.' Rafe reckons he doesn't intend to ever get married. and she now reasoned that if she could make them out to be just an ordinary family then some of her uncalled-for interest might dissipate.' Kim owned with a pretty smile of her own. ' You'd better make sure you get into town tomorrow and get that tyre repaired. the car back on the ground and the hub-cap in place once more. Intent on what he was doing. As it was he imparted the facts casually. that is. ' you're very alike. only Rose is married. he grinned. aren't you?' ' I guess we all are. although I sometimes have my doubts if he ever will.' There wasn't much that Kim could say in answer to that statement.' ' I thought you must have been a close connection. plus Mum and Dad. it was out! Ever since Patsy had brought the matter up that particular question had buzzed its way around Kim's brain for too long not to have it answered at such a golden he wasn't her type—too sure of himself and too used to getting his own way! Good luck to Beth Turner. or you might really find yourself in trouble next time. there was a niggling doubt in her mind that this mightn't be quite true. I guess. Dad's planning to retire when they return. but at the same time.' A grin. She took after Dad —the only blondes in the family. but half-turned to inform her: 'There's six of us. What was Rafe O'Sullivan to her anyway? Nothing1. but that was as far as I could go—the wheel nuts are too tight for me to shift. 'There's always a chance of punctures on tracks like these. then ordinary wasn't quite the right description! Having effortlessly loosened the nuts that had been so stubborn for Kim. but I figure young Beth Turner might have something different to say on that score.processtext. but they do have a house on the beach front some miles further-north of here where they reckon they'll retire to one day. With more energy than Kim felt she had left in her he rapidly disposed of the troublesome wheel in its proper place and had stowed all her luggage and accoutrements back into the car. ' No. 'I'm Rick O'Sullivan—Rafe's brother.html enlightened: ' I managed to get the hub-cap off.' Turning his head back to Kim.Generated by ABC Amber LIT Converter. Kim asked innocently: ' And do you all live at home. Rick didn't turn as he replied to this last query. The rest of us still live at home. http://www.' He nodded comprehendingly and as he bent to the wheel brace he surmised: 'You'll be Kim Forsythe. but at least she had found out what she wanted to know—although she berated herself for wanting to know in the first place.' He looked down at the rough road with a grimace. Rick was now preparing to jack the wheel off the ground.' .

com/abclit.' he laughed again. Lifting the heavy fall of curly hair from the nape of her neck in an effort to cool herself. and she was pleased that when Rick had first come upon her he had used the shortened version and not the formal Kimberley. Kim found herself wanting to know more about the O'Sullivans. that is. What with all the luggage and so forth I can see piled in the back of your car. they're only eighteen. Besides which. http://www.' With a rather wistful look in her eyes Kim decided that it must be nice to belong to a large family with a mother who liked to use pet names for her children. ' They're both Spanish names. we just have to make sure we use our second initials when writing our names. Wiping one arm across his forehead and settling his hat more firmly forward. besides which the name O'Sullivan definitely was not Spanish! He started to laugh. Her own mother had been so formal with her own name that it had always had the effect of keeping Kim at a distance and. that's all. ' No.' Rick shrugged good-naturedly. have a habit of doing too. you'd like a hand to get it all into the house? And there might be something down there . Raoul.' A small crease of puzzlement appeared between Kim's eyes. ' Oh.' ' Goodness.html ' That I can well believe. Rosalia. although her grandmother was. as you'll probably find out when you get to meet her. when meeting strangers she had never used her full name but had always shortened it to the familiar Kim. Mum just thought that in keeping with the modern trend for a greater variety of christian names she'd have some that were completely different— so we have Raphael. Mum rarely calls any of us by our names anyway— she's a great one for using nicknames and pet names—something all of us. his brown arms folded across his chest.' Yes. I'm not sure what I would have done if you hadn't come along when you did. especially with mail?' 'Not really.' and I thank you very much for your timely help.' A hopeful smile followed. Mum isn't. we've all got Spanish names. aren't they? Is your mother Spanish?' That would account for the dark colouring which couldn't have come from their father because Rick had already mentioned that his father was blond-haired. If it hadn't been me then I expect Rafe or one of the twins would have come along eventually. After his rather scathing comments in Sydney upon her capabilities she didn't relish the idea of meeting him again in circumstances that could only put her at even more of a disadvantage. it will take you the rest of the day to get yourself settled in. Raoul and Ruy are younger than I am. ' all with different letters this time. but no. ' Unless.' a bow of the head before the next name. Isn't that confusing. ' Ricardo. ' and all starting with the same letter. Rick issued a regretful sigh and moved away from the car. except Dad. ' I guess I'd better not keep you any longer.' Kim began with a grin. which found an answering look of admiration in Rick's eyes. We all have English second names and.' laughed Kim. she commented: ' The twins? Are they older or younger than you?' Rick leant back comfortably against the door of her car. of course.Generated by ABC Amber LIT Converter. With an engaging smile. for that reason. Ruy and Ramona.' Kim digested this thoughtfully—apparently she wasn't quite as isolated as she had first imagined—but she was glad all the same that her rescuer had been Rick and not Rafe.processtext. this road usually always has one or other of us going up and down it.

that's okay. ' I'm sure I'll find this a lot more enjoyable than the work I've been doing all day. and that's enough for me.' ' Didn't you?' Rick looked amazed. it's the most densely populated rural area in Australia and a few miles down the road they've begun subdividing.' he grinned infectiously.' As he returned to his utility Kim looked at him thoughtfully. I prefer the life out west—the wide open spaces and all that—it's getting too congested around these parts for my liking. only just making out a couple of homesteads in the distance. 'but Lismore's growing all the time. but she hesitated before committing' again that appreciative gleam.' Rick walked forward to open the steel gate. ' You're sure I won't be keeping you from your work?' ' Oh.' Deciding that she was going to like Rick O'Sullivan with that easy manner of his. Admittedly. Too easy-going. I guess.and fifty-acre lots. 'and last one in closes the gate!' Kim smiled her compliance and a short time later after the gate had been duly shut they started bumping . Dad's just bought a property in the south-west of the State and I'll be moving down there in the New Year to begin preparing the land for grain-growing. and started to laugh. it doesn't worry me. The twins or Rafe can handle anything that might come up—besides.html that needs attending to—it's been empty for a while now.' ' Maybe not. http://www. at the moment they're mostly forty. and with a lightening of his expression. we didn't exactly hit it off when we met in Sydney.' Kim nodded her head gratefully. but it's started.' Good lord.' Kim looked around her quickly. her head tilted slightly to one side. Kim accepted his offer with alacrity. In fact. ' I guess it's all a matter of what you're used to. He and Dad have got quite a thing about recovering this particular property—it's the only one left now of the subdivisions that they haven't been able to buy back. it wasn't a job that she had been looking forward to on her own. ' That is. answering over his shoulder. I wouldn't have thought Rafe would be averse to having a good-looking girl like you coming to live next door. I prefer growing crops myself. no! Why should he?' ' W-e-ll.' Kim flushed slightly at the compliment.processtext. commented: 'Seeing as I'm already in front of you I'd better go first.' He closed the door firmly after Kim had slipped into the driver's seat. ' I can't imagine why not.' Rick smiled with her. ' I think your brother was averse to anybody coming to live here. Rick shook his head and opened the car door for her. but to my mind I wouldn't exactly call this a built-up area. only then pausing to query diffidently.' No. but said with rather a wry smile. if you're certain your brother won't mind?' ' Who? Rafe?' came the surprised question as Rick looked at her closely. 'You could be right there.Generated by ABC Amber LIT Converter. at least about cattle.

' answered Rick cheerfully. although Kim decided ' master ' wasn't really the appropriate word—it wasn't large enough to be endowed with such a description. although at first sight this one wasn't very prepossessing.' Moving around her. he tried the door handle and when it turned he stood back to allow Kim to walk into the darkened hallway before him.' ' Doubt if there is one. looking around her interestedly as she did so. let alone a cow! Bringing the dusty Mini to a halt behind Rick's ute. been scratched and battered so many times that it now no longer resembled the . ' I never thought of it. As they drew nearer Kim could indeed see that the building had known better days—the once white paint was now peeling dejectedly from the weatherboards and the waist-high paling fence surrounding the house gave the impression that it couldn't withstand a determined onslaught from a crow. once more pushing his hat to the back of his head. it was amazing just what wonders a good coat of paint could bring. but she was pleased to note that at least it had a double wardrobe and a large chest of drawers. But having reached the front door she turned to Rick with something like dismay. A concession Joe Phillips must have made to the times.' she gasped. It was the first time in her life that she had ever been to a country home and. ' Should I have got a key from the solicitor in town? Mr McBain never mentioned one. even smaller this time. with a laundry-cum-bathroom attached. Adjacent to the first room there was another bedroom. and Kim hugged the thought to herself excitedly—she didn't really care much what it looked like—it was all hers! After preceding Rick along what once must have been the footpath but which was now overgrown with knee-high grass and rather nasty-looking thistles—as was most of the rest of the small garden—Kim mounted the three slightly uneven wooden steps that led on to the wide verandah that appeared to surround the old house completely. but a second or two later she began walking down the dark lino-covered hall. The windows were hidden by a plastic blind in the same dampening grey as the bedspread and the side curtains were just a plain fall of decidedly tattered-looking lace. but fitted out in much the same style and period as the previous one. Kim decided wryly. The table was covered in what must have been a sunshine yellow laminex but which had. and that was all she needed for the time being. http://www. After this there was only the kitchen. No one in the country locks their doors anyway. this room was also covered with a rather dark lino with one small scatter rug by the side of the bed which was covered by a chenille bedspread of a rather depressing grey colour. The furniture wasn't modern in style and definitely wasn't new. which was fitted out with a suite that was faded and a trifle worn in parts but still able to be used. Kim noted that there was also a little old-fashioned desk in one corner upon which there stood a green telephone—at least it wasn't the old faithful black—and across from the sofa there stood a small television set. but from where she was standing it looked serviceable. At least the kitchen was a large room—actually it was the largest in the house—but the furniture here was also rather the worse for wear.Generated by ABC Amber LIT their way slowly down towards the house. over the years. as though it had only been added as an afterthought. Further down the hall on the left-hand side they passed the lounge. fitted out with a single bed. As with the hall. The first room she came to opened off the right-hand side of the passage and was obviously the master bedroom. 'iDr if there was it was probably lost years ago. It was.processtext. Kim joined him slowly at the entrance gate. quite a small room. After the glare of the sun outside it took Kim some moments before her eyes became accustomed to the sudden gloom. in fact.

that's the spirit. Over one shoulder she enquired: ' How does it work?' Rick moved forward.' it's home.' ' Used one? I've never even seen one!' Kim exclaimed in dismay as she moved closer to inspect the monster under discussion.' This had the effect of making Kim feel perplexed and at a loss to understand why Rafe should have been so thoughtful. The fuel copper and cement tubs Kim quickly skipped over in an effort to forget. Kim noticed sorrowfully.' he obligingly opened one of the front doors. 'A combustion stove.' 'Atta girl. blackened contraption which had a large pipe disappearing from the middle of it into the ceiling above Kim's head. and underneath the window there was an old bench cupboard which had been fitted with.' ' At least it's clean and tidy.' he supplied brightly. but.' He indicated a row of knobs set along the front. a grin on his face as he saw her expression of consternation. that would have been Rose's doing.' agreed Rick warmly. I was most surprised that it wasn't all covered with dust and cobwebs after having been vacant for so long. at least it would serve its purpose. There was also a small wash-basin huddled in one corner. She would have been more able to understand his attitude had he left everything as it was and made it more difficult for her. a stainless steel sink! A very modern innovation for Joe Phillips! But in one corner stood a heavy. over which hung a mirror-fronted shaving cabinet. http://www. . 'That's the inlet pipe and then it goes through ' What is that? Kim asked Rick in amazement.' Kim backed away from the wood-burner and gave it one last dour glance.' pointing to a pipe along the side of the stove. and you won't know the place.' and when it's good and ready you can set the heat how you want it with these knobs here. She hunched away from thoughts of Rafe O'Sullivan and was relieved when Rick broke the sudden silence by telling her that he would show her round outside. especially when he hadn't wanted her there in the first place and had been so insistent that she wouldn't fit in.processtext. Don't tell me you haven't used one before. Just to think she and Patsy had complained about the old washing machine that had been provided with their flat—she'd consider it a boon if she could only have it now! Back in the kitchen Kim looked up at Rick with a wry grin. seeing as you intended to move up here. He seemed somewhat taken aback by her question and looked at her from beneath a furrowed forehead. ' Old Joe used to have a pile of split logs out the back for it. usually.Generated by ABC Amber LIT Converter. ' As the saying goes—it may not be much. 'A few bits and pieces here and there.' indicating once again. and there was an old wooden dresser leaning against the opposite wall which had sliding glass doors at the top.html bright unit it must once have been. of course. ' When Rafe came back he asked Rose if she'd clean the place up a bit. a coat of paint. and they go in here. Another concession to the times stood against one wall in the form of a dilapidated fridge which had no freezing compartment. ' It also heats your water for you. ' and out into the storage tank outside. of all things. Apparently Joe Phillips hadn't been that up-to-date in his ideas and changed to an electric stove—but oh. the like of which she had never seen before in her life. how she wished he had! She wasn't looking forward to the time when she would have to use that device! The bathroom had obviously had some alterations made to it in the years gone by. and even if the old claw-footed bath wasn't bright and shining with new enamel.' she shrugged her shoulders lightly.' Rick informed her. The chairs too had distinctly had much use and were vinyl-covered. ' On wood.' ' Oh.

mangoes. at the time. ' but I think I'd better start to unpack the car first and start settling in before the light begins to Some were left in the first bedroom and some taken through to the kitchen.processtext. mandarins.' 'After the heat of the car on the way up there's nothing I'd like better. although not in fruit at that time of the year. Even so. On the way back to the house Kim noticed with delight the number of fruit trees dotted around the garden.' Kim admitted. When Rick offered to get the stove going for her so that the water could be heating for the bath she no doubt craved after the trip. http://www. At the knock Kim had jumped in surprise. one of which had doors and the other which was open to the weather. the place had a rather chaotic look.' he nodded towards a stand of gum trees on their left. Kim took him up on it gratefully. and when Kim made her way out to the kitchen found that he had laid out two cups and saucers and that a teapot stood on the table snugly encased in a knitted woollen cosy. as was the passion-fruit vine that had wound its way along the length of the back fence and was now drooping lethargically under the weight of its crop of large purple globes. Kim found the cake she had bought in town and which. which was filled with parts of machines that Joe had apparently collected over the years and were now covered in rust and cobwebs. lemons. They were almost to the back door when Rick broke off his discourse to ask: 'Would you like to see the creek? It's at its best down the back there.Generated by ABC Amber LIT Converter. looking up at him. She hadn't realised she would be having a visitor so soon. she had been doubtful about purchasing but was pleased now that she had. but most she left in the second bedroom in order to try and alleviate the mess that always accrues from moving house. Searching through her packages. furious with herself for letting him have such an effect upon her.' Rick nodded in agreement and together they made their way to her car where he began taking the heavier luggage into the house while Kim carried in all the smaller cases and parcels. He was dressed in well-worn jeans and a pale blue denim shirt with the sleeves rolled up past the elbows to display well-muscled brown arms. had the fire burning brightly in a very short time. but when she realised who it was she felt herself becoming annoyingly breathless. once all her goods and chattels were inside. then the hen house and the machinery shed. In the meantime Rick was finding places for the groceries she had bought in town while Kim began unpacking some of her clothes and hanging them in the wardrobe. and . She had only just finished pouring the tea and was laughing at a remark of Rick's when there came a peremptory knock on the fly-screen door and a man strode into the room.html In the warmth of the sun once more. Nervously she jumped to her feet. ' We used to come here a lot when we were kids and use the swimming hole—it's sandy on the bottom there instead of filled with rocks as you find further along. after rummaging in the cupboards for some old paper. oranges. with Kim deciding that it didn't look quite so difficult to operate after all. Rick kept up a running commentary as he pointed out the store sheds. 'Tea's ready!' came Rick's voice only a short time later. With a chuckle of pleasure she located a black-bottomed kettle under the sink and having filled it with water set it on the Move to boil—at least they would be able to have a refreshing cup of tea in a short while. which he told her he had found hidden away in the dresser. but the peach and nectarine trees were. and while she was sorting out things in the kitchen. he found a pile of wood ready for the stove and.

' broke in Kim. ' Jamie is Rafe's horse. I had expected him some time ago.Generated by ABC Amber LIT Converter. Aghast. ' Well. How could she have forgotten such a thing? Of course. it's getting too late.html in a voice as calm as she could make it enquired if he would also like some tea. ' I'll get down to the house right away and give them a ring.' ' Probably because I came with Jamie.processtext.' And did he also get in touch with the Council and the P.G. http://www.M.' ' Oh!' Kim felt all manner of a fool and flushed scarlet with embarrassment. but Rick's been very helpful since I arrived. to make sure that you had the electricity and the phone reconnected?' Rafe questioned laconically. 'Yes. Swallowing his last mouthful of cake and brushing the crumbs from his hands. anxious to be hdspitable to anyone who was likely to be a new neighbour. ' I would have been surprised if Rick hadn't stayed to help.' With a short nod of approval Rafe glanced at the watch encircling his strong tanned wrist.' finally Rick replied. the power would be off—the house had been unoccupied for some time now. Kim could only stare at him with wide disbelieving eyes. Upon Rafe's affirmative answer she hurriedly gathered another cup and saucer from the dresser. One dark eyebrow rose. ' I don't think so. ' You'd better bring a few things and stay up at the house for tonight—you can't stay here when there's no electricity. Rick enquired of his brother: 'How did you come up? I didn't hear the car.' 'Perhaps he'd like a cup of tea too. so decided to let it pass—she was only too pleased that Rafe apparently wasn't going to take it out on Rick for wasting his time. I never gave it a thought!' Rick smote his forehead with a broad hand.' A keen glance at Kim followed. ' Good grief.' Rafe gave a lazy smile that had her pulses racing erratically and she picked up her cup with a hand that was none too steady. . In an endeavour to change the subject she blurted out how good Rick had been in lighting the stove for her.' A swift glance at Rafe and Kim rushed on: ' I'm sorry if I've put you to any trouble. you do that. still grinning wishing she'd kept her mouth shut. but I doubt that they'll be out today. ' and wondered whether he was having any trouble. It's not often we have neighbours like you move in. stammering: ' I—I hope I haven't been—haven't been keeping Rick from his work.' he drawled.' .' Kim wasn't too sure just how to take this remark.' With an amused glance in his brother's direction Rafe swung one of the kitchen chairs around with one hand to sit astraddle with his arms lying crossed along the back of it before answering. Rafe and Rick looked at each other and grinned while Kim looked from one to the other suspiciously.

his eyes dancing as if he guessed at her sudden volte-face regarding names. It was a long trip and I'll be having a very early night in any case.' Kim didn't think that would ever become a possibility—her getting used to Rafe—but she didn't voice the sentiment. that's most generous of you.' Mentally Kim wholeheartedly agreed with this remark—de-finitely preferring to keep the undeniably attractive Rafe O'Suliivan at a distance—but with a streak of perverseness brought about by his high-handed attitude. Mr O'Suliivan. I did see some candles in one of the cupboards. and to there's a good girl. or anyone else.' Rick joined in. her chin slanted defiantly. 'You're a sarcastic devil. In seeming exasperation Rafe ran a hand around the back of his neck.' she challenged the darkening look on Rafe's face.Generated by ABC Amber LIT Converter. ' but thank you all the same. ' I rather think Miss Forsythe would prefer it that way with me. ' It doesn't matter which cupboard. I can. ' Why.' Rafe inclined his head gracefully. 'Miss Forsythe! Why so formal. You have my permission to address me by my christian name if you so wish.' ' You will not. Instead she queried: ' In which cupboard did you see the candles. Kim.' ' No. 'Take no notice of him. Rick?' With leisurely grace Rafe rose to his feet. you'll get used to it in time like the rest of us. Rafe? Her name's Kim. 'Miss Forsythe will be coming with us.' A sardonic twist of the lips followed this statement. Tonight you'll be staying up at the house with us.' ordered Rafe coolly. ' and Joe used to have a hurricane lamp around here some place. she now said demurely: ' Not at all.' Rick laughed. I will not.' He quirked an eyebrow in Rick's direction. http://www.html Immediately reversing her thoughts from being horrified at having no power.' 'I will not!' came the emphatic answer.' she added as an afterthought. ' Yes.processtext. must call me Rafe. Kim could now see nothing at all wrong with it. Rick. And you. You can look for them some other time. ' Stop arguing and do as you're told. thank you. to stand with his hands resting lightly on lean hips—completely at his ease but deeming to Kim to be the embodiment of latent power and strength.' Rick stared in astonishment. of course. . his eyes holding Kim's against her will.' That better?' he asked. fixing his brother with a determined look. I'll have a look for it out in the sheds.' ' Well. so there's no need to look for it. I won't be ordered around by you.

' Her thanks were cut short by Rafe's. that was one of the . Rafe turned and spoke dryly.' ‘ Y-yes—that's right.' A salute of the hand followed this.. perhaps not—but in the meantime. Nervously she dropped her hand from his arm..' Okay. 'Good God. making her feel distinctly uneasy and vulnerable.' with an attractive grin.' don't forget it's also your turn to do the milking this afternoon. http://www. there's a hundred and one things that could happen tp a young girl living alone miles away from anywhere. ' So you're quite capable of taking care of yourself. See you later. 'Hadn't you better be going. once and for all. If you care to cast your mind back. 'Okay. and go and make those damned phone calls. is there?' Rafe's eyes rolled upwards.Generated by ABC Amber LIT Converter.' was Kim's uneasy reply. Kim. remember? And. I mean. When the sound of the ute had died in the distance Rafe turned his penetrating gaze back to Kim.' then to Kim. or else Miss Forsythe will be without lights for tomorrow as well. and being without electricity won't hurt me for one night.' Rising to his feet too.' I seem to remember you saying something to that effect when we met in Sydney.processtext.' Perhaps we should put that to the test some time. ' Right. ' Don't you? Well. not quite sure just what was coming next. there's nothing that could happen to me. I'm off I'm staying here. His well-shaped mouth tilted as if in amusement.' He had only just closed the fly-screen door when he put his head back inside again and winked at Kim. I really appreciated it. Rick jammed his hat on to the back of his head. 'I'll make those calls for you directly I get home.' Now Kim was distinctly wary and licked her somewhat dry lips quickly. Rick? After all.. but managing to give her the feeling of impending danger all the same. I'm going.' As he strode towards the corner Kim rushed madly around the table and made a grab at his arm. so don't worry about it. are you?' he murmured lazily. ' Just don't let Rafe here bully you into doing anything you don't want to— his bark's worse than his bite—and I can always come up and give you a hand with anything you need. please understand that I'm not leaving here. I'm quite capable of looking after myself. She wasn't all that sure she could get it going again! ' And. ' Get out of here. okay. you do have a couple of phone calls to make. Catching the amusement.' She was very close to him and more aware of him as a man than she had even been with anyone before. a broad grin spread over Rick's face.' ' I meant what I said. feeling the corded muscles rippling beneath her fingers. Rick.html As he watched the two of them challenging each other. you go and pack your things and I'll put the stove out. Kim. ' I-I'm not Sure I know what you're getting at.' was the easy-going answer.' As he moved to the door Kim called after him: 'Thanks for being so much help. ' Thank you for the tea. ' Don't you dare put that stove out!' she ordered spiritedly..' she managed confusedly. Rick.' and they could hear him cheerily whistling between his teeth as he went down the side of the house.' ' Think nothing of it.

gleaming chestnut horse. I would remind you that we do have more to do than play nursemaid to a wilful slip of a girl from the city!' Wilful! Just because she wouldn't immediately fall in with his plans. first she had baulked him with the sale and now this. And he considered that wilful on her part. http://www. very funny. if that's okay with you. ' All right. 'By the way. my cows? What sort of cows? And how many of them are there?' Rafe's expression was completely bland as he looked down at her.' ' You didn't offer—you ordered. and keeping a safe distance from the horse—she'd never had anything to do with horses before—she valiantly tried to keep her voice from shaking.' Kim pointed out determinedly. I haven't asked you to play nursemaid. did he? Kim's voice was shaking with suppressed emotion when she finally spoke.' Send her cows up? What cows? And what was she supposed to do with them? Mr McBain hadn't mentioned any cows! By this time the fly-screen door had closed and Kim raced hurriedly through it and after Rafe. if that's what you're thinking.' .' ' I shall act any way I please in my own house and I'll thank you to remember that this is my house and I'll stay here when I please!' The shrug of his shoulders showed a cool indifference. but Kim had the decided impression that he was amusing himself at her expense. For a moment she could have sworn that his green eyes were gleaming with laughter before he turned towards the door. and without wishing to let the idea of country hospitality go down the drain. her hands clenched into fists as though she would have liked to strike him. She was just in time to reach him as he swung himself lithely into the saddle on a I'm—I'm sorry I took Rick away from his work this afternoon—I'll see that it doesn't happen again. She wished she'd never come after him. ' And I can assure you that I intend to be fully independent while I'm here.Generated by ABC Amber LIT Converter. ' House cows. I'll send your cows up in the morning. ' That's not what I meant. I didn't suppose they were. tilting her head to one side. I'm sorry I offered. If you don't like being called wilful then stop acting like it.' meant nothing to her and she frowned slightly. as you put it. all right.processtext. ' And just what on earth are house cows?' 'Not cows that are house-trained.' ' Oh.' she finished haughtily. but his next words were only casually said. ' What do you mean. and you know it.html reasons why I advised you against moving up here. your point's made—you're staying here tonight. The insouciant answer. but it was too late to stop now. Feeling horribly at a disadvantage having to look so far up to him.

then with a cursory look at the sheds wandered down the well-worn path towards the creek where she ambled along the bank until she came to the lovely little waterhole that Rick had mentioned earlier. Reflectively she wandered back into the house. making a mental note to thank Rose when she met her for having cleaned through so thoroughly. It couldn't possibly be just the country hospitality he had mentioned—there had to be more to it than that! With her brow still creased Kim walked into her bedroom and mechanically finished putting her clothes away. washed up. Kim sat down on the sand and allowed the water to swirl over her feet. a deep attractive sound that had Kim's nerves tingling. that's all. he wheeled and cantered with the ease of long experience towards the boundary gate. loath to hear the answer that she had a premonition would be coming. and touching his heels to the sides of the now restless animal. one was bad enough! Nevertheless. one of them will have to be milked.' 'And who used to milk them?' Kim enquired slowly.Generated by ABC Amber LIT 'It's just a name given to cows that are milked solely for the household. the other of churning worry as to what she was going to do on the morrow when her cattle arrived. It had certainly made her job of moving in so much easier. It was heavenly just sitting there—and so peaceful—the only sounds disturbing the total tranquillity of the scene being the chattering of birds . ' Joe! Who else?' ' But—but I don't know how to milk a cow!' she cried on a rising note of panic.processtext. now that she had arrived he almost seemed concerned about her welfare.' A great feeling of relief swept over Kim at this piece of information. Kim's eyes deepened in dismay. Surely she wasn't supposed to milk all six of them? But Rafe seemed to take pity on her and added calmly: 'And at least. as opposed to one in a herd. 'Normally it's done by hand.' he told her in a tone that was definitely amused. http://www. Taking her sandals off. one part grudgingly conceding that he looked at one with the beautiful horse. After enjoying a light meal she cleared away the dishes. In Sydney he had tried to discourage her from coming north. Of course she had guessed that it was done by hand—what did he take her for. although she still glared at him belligerently for having allowed her to believe that she would have to milk the lot. her thoughts revolving around Rafe O'Sullivan with a tormenting obstinacy. bringing the first signs of cooling relief after the heat of the day. its sandy bank shelving gently down to the crystal clear water so that she could see the bottom with ease. She'd never even touched a cow before.' he told her dryly. enjoying her discomfort. Even so. let alone milked one! ' Then I suggest you learn in a hurry. There was even a large green weeping willow trailing fronds languorously in the softly running water. because you'll have six cows and four calves delivered tomorrow morning. she had to bury her pride again as she asked pensively: ' But how do I milk her?' 'A house cow?' Rafe laughed. a fool? Or wasn't that just what he had made her look? She stared at the steadily receding figure —her thoughts a decided mixture. Back in the kitchen she cleared the tea things from the table and completed putting all the groceries away. Kim could feel' a burning anger growing inside her at his last remark.html He grinned annoyingly.

com/abclit. As far as her eyes could see there were rolling green hills. All in all it had been a quite momentous and tiring day. soon become accustomed to it. The clouds in the still bright azure sky were now becoming tinged with a golden rosiness as the sun began its slow descent behind a hill in the distance. . still—Kim squared her shoulders determinedly—if that was all that was different she would count herself lucky and would. She didn't want to be stumbling around in a strange house in the dark if she could help it and. had always been well known for their rich pastures and plentiful dairy produce. luxuriating in the feeling of some of the tiredness seeping out of her aching muscles. both north and south of Sydney. feeling very much refreshed after her sleep and ready for whatever the day might bring. she couldn't even see to the edge of her own verandah! Closing her eyes and preparing for sleep. dotted here and there with stands of shade trees. This must be one of those city amenities that Rafe had told her would be missing. Later. and was gratified to discover that it wasn't too uncomfortable. she fully intended getting into bed early. used as she was to permanent street lighting. she marvelled again at the utter silence surrounding her. While she was running the water for her bath she mused rather ruefully that the water pressure wasn't quite what she was used to—being a very slow and laborious trickle from the tap—but she decided that the bath would seem all the more pleasant for having had to wait so long for it. CHAPTER IV The next morning was clear and full of sunshine when Kim awoke early. http://www. It was a far cry from the usual picture of the Australian countryside with its vast dry and dusty stretches of land.processtext. she was amazed at just how black it was outside. and far in the distance she could just make out the indistinct shapes of cattle browsing contentedly amidst the long grass. she donned a pretty pair of lemon shortie pyjamas and climbed thankfully into her bed. but then the coastal plains. no doubt.Generated by ABC Amber LIT Converter.html gathering in the willow on the opposite bank. only occasionally broken by the soft lowing of a cow somewhere in the distance. after she had lain for some time in the warm water of her well-earned bath. as she had told Rafe. and reluctantly Kim rose to her feet and began walking bare-footed back to the house. but immediately she turned the hot water tap on in the bathroom she remembered she had forgotten to bank up the stove the night before with the obvious consequence that she now had extremely lukewarm to cold water. A trip outside the back door provided her with some more logs and gathering up some of the paper that had been wrapped around her parcels she tried to faithfully emulate what she had seen Rick do to the stove the day before and was very pleased with herself when she finally managed to get the fire going. It was just on dark now and.

if they're okay where they are. Rafe twisted around again and pointed out a golden Jersey cow with an obviously full udder. Rafe had already worked that out and that was why he had taken the trouble to bring them himself.' he told her sparingly. except for Aster. 'she's the one that needs milking. she wasn't even quite sure just where the . will come tomorrow some time. http://www. she was taking the plates across to the sink when she heard the soft whinnying of a horse coming from the direction of the front of the house. wasn't it? Especially when you hadn't a clue what to do with it! ' Rick asked me to tell you that a chap from the Council will be out this afternoon to re-connect the power and that the P. The others have still got their calves on them. but not before he added blithely.' ' Springing?' Kim couldn't help herself just to spite her! ' Well. but this time her anger succeeded in drowning out all other emotions.processtext.' he said. 'In calf. and touching one lean hand to the brim of his hat he brought Jamie's head round.M. The muscles in his legs showed plainly against the taut material as he sat. But. 'That's Clover over there. or do you want them moved into another paddock?' Kim looked towards the cattle helplessly. Once again Kim watched him go with mixed feelings. but this time accompanied by a red-coated cattle dog. Why couldn't it have been Rick to bring her cows? She could have asked him any questions she liked about milking and had no qualms about so doing either! But.' 'Thanks!' Kim retorted bitterly. One was enough. ignoring the reproachful look in Kim's eyes. I'll be off. 'They all right there. she thought with a malicious kind of delight. making no move to dismount. she emerged on to the front verandah to confront Rafe. and she's springing. her eyes clouded with indecision. Today he was wearing crisp drill trousers and shirt and had a bush hat seated squarely on his head. With a mocking expression he turned to indicate a mob of cattle beginning to spread over the grass in the paddock behind him.' and began heading down the track at a swift canter.easily in the saddle. no doubt. 'Just call her by name and she'll walk into the bails. still mounted on Jamie.Generated by ABC Amber LIT Converter. her mouth taking on a tender droop at the corners.' ' Oh!' What else could she say? 'But she's been allowed to dry off. not knowing what she should do with them. so you won't have to worry about her for a while yet. bringing her mind back to her most immediate problem.html Breakfast of toast and coffee over. What did she care about the electricity and the phone now—she had enough worries at the moment with Rafe being so unhelpful. What sort of a man was he that he could leave her like that when he knew only too well that she'd had absolutely no experience with cattle of any kind? It would serve him right if his horse shied and threw him. Hurrying through the hall.G. That all right with you?' Kim nodded miserably.

Her frustration now turned to uncontrollable anger—that he should come back and gloat was just too much to bear! ' Get out of here and leave me alone!' she shouted at him.' a deep voice drawled lazily from behind her. Kim ventured a trifle closer to the animal. calling: 'Clover. girl!' This time the cow condescended to raise her head question-ingly. she immediately backed straight out again. she guessed. girl!' in still louder tones. She gave it a thorough wash.Generated by ABC Amber LIT Converter. his expression not mocking now but one of glittering anger. or what she supposed must be the bails. Probably made by handyman Joe. but when she tried her weight against them they seemed firm enough With a fatalistic shrug she went back to the house looking for an appropriate bucket and dragged one out from the cupboard where she had noticed it nestling the night come on. They didn't look very strong. A few minutes later she felt a hand sink into the curling hair at the back of her head and she was yanked to a halt by a not very gentle hand. as it was obvious that the cow knew where she was going as she headed unerringly for the shed with Kim trailing happily behind. Cheered somewhat by this small reaction. With quickening strides she walked back to the sheds looking for the elusive bails and found them at one side of the open shed. . Nervously approaching the cows. she urged her on by calling her name once more.processtext. and before she realised what she was doing she had hurled the bucket at his taunting figure and turned on her heel to stalk back towards the sheds without waiting to see what his reaction might be. Who would have thought a lumbering cow could move so quickly.html bails were that Clover was going to walk into. Kim saw Rafe heading across the paddock towards her. she attempted it a little louder. swinging the bucket in one hand vigorously to give herself confidence. 'And just who the hell do you think you're throwing things at?' Rafe grated out. There was a definite result then as the cow actually took a couple of steps in her direction and. Kim looked at the bails puzzledly—there was nothing in there to frighten Clover that she could see—and the cow had obviously gone there to be milked. seeing you were the only other person in the paddock. and promptly went back to her grazing. or turn in such a small space? After another three attempts to get Clover into the bails. only to be neatly outmanoeuvred by the cow just when she thought success was within her grasp. I hope. and when Kim attempted to urge her forward once more the cow turned right around and headed back down to the paddock. and spinning around.' Clover—here. http://www. Kim was hot and sticky and muttering dire prophesies against the animal under her breath while she fought the hot tears of frustration that were beginning to prick at her eyelids. ' Not having any trouble. glanced round. she called out timidly: 'Clover?' When there was no response forthcoming. so why had she backed out again? With a sigh of confusion she followed Clover down to the paddock and began herding her towards the shed again.' Kim retorted sarcastically. Now that Clover was actually on the move she brightened considerably. This wasn't so hard after all! The only trouble was that as soon as Clover entered the bails. ' I should have thought that was obvious. filled with a sense of success. then valiantly went back into the paddock.

at that!' ' Never!' There was another tug of her hair. ' Very nicely done. I'll have your apology for the bucket throwing anyway. http://www.' His mouth curled engagingly. 'You heard me!' She could feel the breath expelled forcibly from his body before he answered sardonically: ' Gracious too! As well as wilful and quickly followed by a mumbled. ' Won't I? Have you ever had your backside tanned? Because I reckon it's about time someone beat some manners into that stubborn little body of yours. but it wasn't until he actually caught her to him that she fully realised that Rafe meant what he had said.' ' And you won't get that either. ' I'm sorry. no. ' No.' With slow deliberation his hands moved from her shoulders to cup her face.' she finished on a rising note. and began pulling her towards him. Rafe's expression was enigmatic. for throwing the bucket at you. 'Don't you bet on that.' was the quick return. 'Okay. * I didn't ask you to come back here to gloat. don't!' she cried.' she defied him. unaware of the reproachful look in her blue eyes. but she was certain she hadn't been mistaken in thinking she had. if you want help you're going to have to ask for it—and ask nicely. seen a glimpse of that irrepressible laughter in his eyes. She chanced a rueful half-smile.' I'm— I'm sorry. ' What was that?' he demanded. ' No.' ' You wouldn't dare!' Kim flared heatedly.Generated by ABC Amber LIT Converter.' Kim bit at her lip anxiously and risked a quick look at him through the dark fringe of her long lashes. sweetheart. without success. you'll always get a favourable reception. Kim struggled fiercely to prise his hand loose from her hair. But in the meantime. for a split second. and I would be very grateful if you could please show me how to get that unreasonable cow into the bails and how to milk her.' Kim could feel her cheeks becoming pink under his intent regard and she twisted away from his hands . I will not. ' And what was I supposed to do?' Rafe demanded. ' Make another offer of help so that you could throw it back again? Oh. making her feel extremely weak in the knees at the contact. ' If you ask like that.html 'Is that so?' came the dangerously silky reply.' Rafe threatened menacingly.processtext. hadn't you?' He gave her hair another painful tug in emphasis. You know I don't know what to do with the cow and you—you left me with them deliberately. and she grasped at his arms frantically.' against his shirt front. I only fall for that one once! From now on. if that's the way you want it. Rafe. 'In that case you'd better apologise right now.

html abruptly.' she returned indignantly.. but Rafe apparently hadn't finished with their conversation..processtext. passing of her nervousness under cover of a light sally. I've got work to do. ' But I thought you said in Sydney that I shouldn't expect to have my work done for me. I'm a female. waiting for him to tell her what to do next. aware that she had said too much in allowing him to know that he had annoyed her. he said gruffly: 'Come on. ' You know you did.' She was interrupted by Rafe's amusement. I haven't got all day to stand here talking. That was when you informed me that you intended to farm the land yourself. ' Good feminine logic! I must remember that for future reference—if someone annoys you. is that it?' Kim nodded silently. but. there was no need for you to be so scornful about it!' Stooping to retrieve the bucket. hard look of appreciation at her cool lilac ribbed sleeveless top and darker hipster slacks that showed off her curving figure to perfection. ' But I don't have to conform. saying: ' But you don't always react that way. that's right.' With a knowing smile he took the bucket from her unresisting fingers. http://www. ' But you just said ... '.. you're likely to say anything..Generated by ABC Amber LIT Converter. And have you decided yet just what sort of crops you plan to raise?' A black eyebrow rose enquiringly. Kim wasn't too sure how she could extricate herself—she could hardly admit that it was only Rafe that seemed to affect her that way! ' I know what I just said.' she began uncertainly. Kim swung lightly away and began walking towards her discarded bucket. no matter how improbable it may sound. remember?' Rafe gave her a long. sweetheart. only pausing long enough to say over one shoulder with a grin: ' I only said that because you annoyed me.' Then.' ' Did I say that?' She cast him a piqued glance.' ' And can you?' Reluctantly Kim confessed. ' I don't think it's likely I'll ' Ah.* ' Why? What did I do?' ' You insinuated that I couldn't run a farm.' he commented a trifle sardonically. she swung it in one hand. 'No.' He smiled reminiscently. thankful that he had come up with an acceptable reason.. ' That sounds like good logic. then gave a vivacious grin.' .' Feeling entrapped by her own thoughtless confession. as if angry at his own words.. ' but.' ' That's not true.

' What's it made of?' she asked. but she won't be milked without it. it would be okay if you had a large family.' Rafe laughed. viscous-looking liquid. Again Kim had to put her ignorance to the fore as she enquired lightly:' And what's that?' A knowledgeable grin crossed Rafe's face as he held the slatted door open for her to precede him into the bright sunlight. Some cows become so partial to it that directly they see you with a bucket or a bowl in your hand they'll nearly knock you over in the rush to see if there's any meal in it.' Putting her hand into the bowl. maize. but what . some of which he diluted with water in a smaller bucket after explaining that it was an udder wash used mainly for hygiene purposes. Not bad for a house row. but not any more.' ' Oh. et cetera.' Kim lifted wide and rather anxious eyes to his face. However. Kim allowed the fine particles to sift between her fingers.' 'Two and a half gallons!' Kim exclaimed in dismay. http://www. 'What urn I going to do with that much milk? In fact. and she found herself thinking once again how devastatingly attractive he was. ' No. ' Uh-huh! Joe used to give it to her all the time. he couldn't have bought it from us because we're not allowed to sell raw milk privately—we used to be able to. does she always have it?' exclaimed Kim in sudden comprehension. Kim followed meekly when Rafe began walking back towards the house. In fact. et cetera. There are no milk deliveries out here.Generated by ABC Amber LIT Converter. what did Joe Phillips have a house cow for? Couldn't he have bought his milk from the milkman. He indicated the bowl with a short nod of his head. we're not even allowed to give it away! Consequently everyone out here who doesn't have a herd keeps a couple of house cows or else buys their milk in town each day. ' I told you this wasn't the city.' ' And how much milk will I get from Clover each day?' ' About two.html Feeling very squashed and put in her place. although she did wonder why they were going that way and not to the bails.' I hope Clover isn't one of those. ' That's the reason Clover wouldn't come into the bails—no meal there for her. It helps in increasing milk production. giving a nervous smile. vitamins.processtext. Clover's not that bad. Back at the shed once more he left the buckets next to the bails before entering the next shed where he discovered a battered old bowl which he proceeded to fill with a powdery-looking substance from a half full sack. I think it would be slightly unrewarding to be trying to sell milk when just about every second property is a ' It's a mixture—there's barley. And no.' ' But what do they do with that much milk? I mean. it soon became apparent once Rafe had searched for a while in the laundry until he came upon a large container filled with some dark brown. or two and a half gallons. lucerne meal. or from you?' Again that look of wondering exasperation. sorghum. Besides which.

html did Joe do with it all?' ' Feed it to the animals. ' We have about a dozen or so hens of yours down at the house that we've been looking after until it could be decided what was going to happen to the property.' was the lightly sarcastic rejoinder. fowls. 'Except to say that I know that's where eggs come from. http://www. Didn't your parents ever keep a few hens down at the end of the garden?' Again Kim shook her head.' His eyes glinted wickedly as the sunlight slashed across them.' he flicked a lean finger at the end of her straight little nose. still not looking at him. ' Not that I can you do.' 'Then. just as a matter of interest.' Rafe replied shortly.' you've got an awful lot to learn.' ' I suppose that's a start.' Kim wasn't sure whether he was referring to farm life or something else entirely different. Joe always used to keep a couple of pigs for fattening. ' and saved yourself a lot of worry and trouble at the same time.' was the surprising reply. 'Now don't tell me you know nothing about fowls either?' Kim gave a wry smile. causing her to look at him quizzically. ' but I really did want to come and see what it was like. ' but I am glad I came all the same. I guess we all do things on impulse from time to time.' It—it was p-partly that. Clover eventually made it to the bails. going in without hesitation when she saw the bowl in position. he placed the .' ' But I don't have any other animals. sweetheart. would you mind telling me why you were so determined to come up here to live. This completed. tipping her head back so that she had to look at him.' But knowing what a shock it must have been to Rafe and his father when they realised that the last will couldn't be found and that someone else would inherit the property. and they'll take whatever excess of milk you have.processtext.' ' I know. but lowering her gaze immediately she noticed the tightening of his mouth. when it's plain that you have absolutely no idea whatsoever about anything even remotely connected with farm life?' An eyebrow rose suspiciously.' wailed Kim plaintively. ' Okay. pigs. What's done is done. ' No.' A cheeky grin followed.' she owned unwillingly. cats. Kim's eyes fell before his and she made a vague gesture with her hands. Ambling along at her own pace. Kim concluded lamely: ' I—I'm s-sorry. but it was enough that Rafe wasn't going to hold her actions against her for her not to try and analyse his last remark. ‘ Or was it perhaps a streak of perverseness because something I said happened to annoy you?' With colour mounting steadily in her cheeks. dogs. but.' Suddenly a brown hand was under her chin. After placing the bowl of meal in the bails Rafe called to Clover down in the paddock. yes. Rafe. I'm afraid I don't.' 'You could have done that on a holiday trip. shaking her head dejectedly. taking a quick glance at his expression from beneath her thick lashes.Generated by ABC Amber LIT Converter. ' There could be hope for you yet. a call that she responded to with a willingness not evident when Kim had done the same thing. An old milking stool was dragged up and seating himself upon it Rafe proceeded to wash down Clover's udder. and the lazy smile that tugged at his mouth had her heart thumping so wildly she was sure he must be able to hear it.' she murmured softly. forget it. ' Oh. and began munching contentedly on her ration of meal.

her forehead resting against the warm flank of Clover.' When the first spurt of warm milk hit the inside of the bucket Kim swung round quickly. and was rewarded by an absolute absence of milk splashing into the bucket.' Kim accepted gratefully. Now squeeze your thumb and fingers together and slide downwards. and she stopped in confusion. . until. Clover appeared overwhelmingly large from where she was now sitting and Kim didn't know whether she would appreciate a learner trying to extract milk from her.' which he proceeded to demonstrate. with a sigh of relief. For one thing. In no time at all he had Clover completely stripped and was giving her a smack on the rump as she backed out of the bails. and then you can have a go. an understanding look in his eyes.html milking bucket between his feet and began to milk the cow with an ease and rate that Kim was sure she would never be able to copy. sweetheart. removing his hand from hers. but watched intently as he demonstrated in as slow a motion as possible. A few seconds later he stopped and turned to her. with a start. smiling happily. With a smile he sank down on to his haunches beside her and putting forward one bronzed arm his hand closed over hers and Kim could feel the pressure that he exerted over her fingers as. His eyes were travelling over her face slowly. With a self-conscious laugh and her heart hammering violently against her ribs. It looked simple enough and Clover was quiet. straight into Rafe's arms which closed around her midriff protectively. she attempted to explain: ' I'm sorry. it didn't seem quite so easy any more. felt her body moulding itself to his hard. with a gasp of surprise.' he said. As those tantalising green eyes came to rest on her softly parted lips. she realised what she was doing and with a hurriedly gulped breath she tore her eyes away from his face and. frightening Kim out of her wits as. ' Come closer and I'll do it slowly so you can see what I'm doing. With a tentative motion she put out her hands to the cow's soft flesh. but as she prepared to rise Clover coughed abruptly. 'I'll take over now if your arms are tired. his muscular body hard against her back and giving her an unexpected feeling of security. This time there was a thin trickle of liquid forthcoming. 'I rather think that for the present you'd better try the old finger and thumb method. She moved quickly away to stand by Clover's head—not looking at Rafe again until she heard him move on to the stool and the thick gushes of creamy milk once more began streaming into the bucket. Rafe rose leisurely to his feet. She tried twice more with the name result before turning enquiring eyes to Rafe. She turned back to the job in hand willingly. masculine frame. but.processtext. her great stomach shaking and heaving forwards. although after only a short time her fingers and forearms began to ache intolerably and her slow trickles became even slower.Generated by ABC Amber LIT Converter.' She turned her head to smile at Rafe. squeezed. he suggested dryly. okay?' Kim looked dubious. keep at it!' had her basking in the unexpected praise. but she gave me such a start. he tightened his grip. only to find his face disconcertingly inches from her own. felt his arms slip from Kim felt herself beginning to relax against the powerful arms enclosing her. and put her hands to the cow's udder again. she leapt backwards. although once Kim had replaced Rafe on the stool and was ready for her first attempt. feeling an indefinable tension in the atmosphere. ' Good girl. 'Thank you. and his. asking: ' Is this right?' 'That's the idea. making her only too aware of the dangerous magnetism that this man held for her. http://www. only too happy to let him do so. Kim leant forward. with a slight downward movement.

making Kim wonder whether the tension and attraction had only been a figment of her own imagination. before you go?' Rafe shook his head negatively. He also was dressed in the characteristic garb of the country. During the afternoon. Rafe bent and picked up the almost full bucket and began striding towards the house with Kim doing her best to keep up with his fast movements. With a deeply drawn breath she enquired tentatively: 'Will you have a cup of tea. and then Kim happened to see him approaching on a shining brown stock horse from her bedroom window. http://www. If they were going to be neighbours she was going to have to learn better-control over her own emotions or she'd be a nervous wreck before a month was out. thanks. across the paddock.' So saying. while at the same time she was annoyed with herself for feeling that way. Rafe. Kim managed: 'Thank you. faded jeans and shirt. at a hard gallop. ' No. she lifted the milk bucket from the verandah where Rafe had deposited it and walked through to the kitchen where she strained it into a lidded container before placing the milk in the fridge. you must have enough of your own work to do. I wouldn't have been able to do it alone.' he replied in a seemingly indifferent voice.' ' I don't want to put you to any bother.html Clearing her throat and desperately trying to speak in a normal tone. With an inward sigh. The twins are bad enough. Kim.' she murmured deprecatingly. It was going on for five o'clock before anyone else came to call.' 'That's okay. Whatever was the matter with her? Just because he'd been pleasant and easy-going for a change.' Kim gave a half-hearted smile of understanding and watched as he swung into the saddle of the patiently waiting Jamie who had been tethered in the shade of a large mango tree and made off. I'd better be on my way and see what Rick and the twins have been up to while I've been gone. The deep breath she had just taken she let out and an outward hunch of the shoulders. Most of the day she spent pottering around the house. They're supposed to be renewing the southern fence. So much for milking the cow! She'd nearly made a fool of herself leaning back against Rafe like that. ' There's four men at home—we'll manage. as promised. putting things away and sorting through cupboards to find out just what she did have and what would have to be purchased on her next trip to town. She felt tongue-tied and unsure of what she should do. there was no need for her to fall on her knees in grateful capitulation! Look how he'd immediately dropped the ' sweetheart' after her disgraceful exhibition—she burnt with humiliation—now he probably thought she was an overgrown schoolgirl reading far more into a casual word than he had ever intended! No doubt Rafe O'Sullivan already had as many ardent admirers as he could manage—he didn't need her to be added to their numbers. but with Rick there to egg them on you never know what's likely to be the result. ' I'll try and see that one of us comes up this afternoon to give you a hand. You'll probably find that your hands and arms won't ache so much after a day or two and you'll soon get the hang of it. but get those three together and you've usually got trouble. . or coffee. the man from the Council arrived and re-connected the light and power supply for her.Generated by ABC Amber LIT Converter. elastic-sided boots and a bush hat pulled resolutely down to shade his eyes from the glaring sun.

http://www. have the same appeal for women that his eldest brother enjoyed. Kim felt sure she did a little better with her milking this time. he took off his hat and slapped it against the side of his leg. Coming towards her. Raoul looked down at his stock boots. and looking more than ever like his eldest brother.' she offered.' he greeted her openly.' Raoul agreed easily. Don't forget.' He pushed back a lock of black hair that had fallen across his forehead. Rafe sent me up to give you a hand. his grey eyes glinting in much the same manner that Rafe had and making Kim all too aware that Raoul would no doubt. showing even white teeth.Generated by ABC Amber LIT Converter. ' but when Rafe was a kid and Mum and Dad were only just starting the dairy. grass hanging from the side of her mouth as she chewed patiently. He laughed loudly. we all started when we were about eight years old. we've been milking since we were kids. making dust fly around him as he did so. they used to milk the herd by hand. ' It will be the same for you once you've been doing it for a while.' Wasn't that a bit young?' . Before he could say anything else she changed the subject.' Kim gave a had I? If you like to walk around the back I'll meet you there.' ' Right-ho.html Kim was waiting on the verandah by the time he had made it to the house and tethered his horse under the same tree that Rafe had used for Jamie only that morning.' she acknowledged with a broad grin. Admittedly they didn't have as many cows then.' By the time he and Kim had made it to the bails Clover was already waiting. I guess you must be Kim Forsythe because Rick said I couldn't mistake you—you were the best-looking girl to be seen around here. ' I'm Raoul.processtext.' ' But haven't you got machines for milking?' ' Sure. deeming it best not to pursue that particular line of conversation.' ' And how old were you when you started milking?' ' Oh. when he was older. ' Hi there.' ' Well. ' I'll give Clover a hoy as I go past. It wasn't fair. ' but I'm not so sure about the rest of it. watching him at work. 'I don't think I'd better—they're pretty muddy. ' Mum would half scalp me if I did that at home!' ' In that case. although her feeling of success became a little tarnished when Raoul took over and finished for her in double-quick time. we have now.' He grinned boyishly. she mused. She was positive there were more outlets for the milk to flow through when they milked—the stream was five times as thick and heavy as the meagre dribble that was all she managed to obtain from the cow—and she said as much to Raoul.' he agreed. I am Kim Forsythe. but even when I first began milking—and we had machines then—we used to have to stimulate them first before putting the cups on them and then strip them out by hand afterwards. but it wasn't always like that. Nowadays it's easier because all we have to do is wash them down and the machines do the rest. I'd better not encourage any bad habits. I'm inclined to think your brother was exaggerating for your benefit. shaking his head. ' If you'd like to come through I can get the bucket and the wash.

' At this he caught hold of her arm.html ' Young?' Raoul echoed disbelievingly.' Kim smiled at his vehemence.' came the prompt reply. Just for once she'd like someone to mention something that she knew what they were talking about! ' For ticks. I nearly forgot. 'It's just all so different from the city.' Especially not after the way he'd reacted when she'd said she knew nothing about hens. 'Heck. sarcastically. Didn't you notice them on Clover? She's got a lot of them just above her udder. http://www. saying: ' See. not even when you ask him something you should have known in the first place. Didn't you see it as you came over the grid?' She didn't like to say she'd been too busy looking across at the O'Sullivan house to notice anything else. Raoul gave her a strange look. 'And where is the dip?' she asked.' Kim couldn't quite agree with this assessment. 'Just a few hundred yards down on the right from our place.' 'Oh!' Kim had never considered that Rafe might have university qualifications. and that's the only part of it that I'm not looking for-ward to—living in the city. I didn't like to ask Rafe about something else. She'd bet he could apply that same statement to women too! On their way back to the house with the milk Raoul broke off their conversation to say hurriedly: ' Oh.' ' I did wonder what they were.' she acceded equably. ' Just like Rafe.' One of Kim's delicately arched eyebrows rose slightly. You can just see them over the . I thought I'd leave that one for some other time.' ' Too right it is!' He eyed her speculatively. and bending his head close to hers pointed towards the main roadway. so she answered quickly: * No. you know. moved her closer. yes.' he told her thoughtfully. then making a movement with her hand to include the surrounding countryside. almost as if he was trying to figure something out. Rafe asked me to tell you that your stock have to be dipped the day after tomorrow.' Is Rafe a vet?' 'My word! A darned good one too. ' Rafe wouldn't mind. she had to admit that Rafe hadn't really lost his temper. 'And what course are you taking at the university?' ' Veterinary science. they're on the left from here.Generated by ABC Amber LIT Converter. almost as if he can read their minds.processtext.' ' Dipped? What for?' Ever since she had arrived Kim seemed to have been asking endless questions. I'm going down to Sydney next year to start my university although to be strictly fair. not when all this is here waiting. 'He's always very patient with anything like that. He never loses his temper. He's got a real way with animals. She decided to revert to their original subject. I suppose. no! I was driving the tractor at ten. ' I can't see how people could prefer to live there. I didn't notice them. Farming's a family business.' ' I guess so.' admitted Kim with a wry look. ' but having asked so many questions today.

say. But if you ever want those lessons.' she explained dolefully.' But I can't ride. You'll get used to it after you've done it a few times.' he explained on seeing Kim's questioning look at the strange name. Really! I used to do a lot of it in Sydney and I can have a good look round the countryside as I go.. Once a year wouldn't have any effect at all. but she wouldn't even be able to have that consolation with a horse.' ' Okay.' answered Raoul with energy. I suppose you do have a problem there. ' After all.' Raoul conceded with a grin at her dismayed countenance. otherwise there'd be chaos down there trying to sort out everyone's cattle.' ' No fear.' ' I will. he's your neighbour on the other side. I don't mind walking.' Joe used to borrow one of our horses and ride down after Maybe later. ' They have to be dipped every twenty-one days from October through to February. but—but I don't think so at the moment. she was too ashamed to confess that horses frightened her! It was bad enough with the cows. ' In truth I've never been on a horse at all. 'I thought it was only going to be a once-a year affair. Can I take them over at any particular time?' ' My word. It looked a long way from her place and she asked wonderingly just how she was supposed to get her cattle there.' Following the direction of his outstretched arm. but she couldn't accept his offer. Raoul. but at least she stood taller than they did which gave her some slight feeling of control.m. Kim could just make out what appeared to her to be a jumbled collection of rails in the distance. ' It's all pretty well organised—Fred Robertson. and then we come after you at seven-forty-five. you have to get a clearance certificate from Jack first or they won't accept them at the sales yards.' Not knowing quite how to avoid his offer. ' I could give you some lessons. Jack Carter's the tick inspector for this area. Joe used to take them down at seven-thirty a. just let me know. thank you. well. or that after seeing the ease with which the O'Sullivans rode. if you're thinking of selling any of your stock. you wouldn't even have to break into a trot.' . smiling at him: ' That's all right. And. when I've settled in more.. if you're sure.' A few times?' echoed Kim.' he interrupted his own thoughts.' Raoul now offered enthusiastically. so I guess Jack will be expecting you at the same time.. I know.Generated by ABC Amber LIT Converter. no! We all have our alloted times. ' Yes. ' why don't you borrow my horse like Joe used to do?' Kim didn't like to dampen his pleasure at having solved the problem. the only thing you'd need to know for taking those cows to the dip would be how to sit in the saddle. She answered gaily. But—back to the dipping. but she had no choice. goes first around seven. Kim stammered: 'That's—er—that's very kind of you. Raoul.html rise in the hill there.' she added as an excusing afterthought.' She didn't also add that she had never in her life even touched one. followed by you. She would hate him to guess at her real reason and she shuddered at the idea of the sarcasm that Rafe would come out with if he ever knew.. thank you. but.' he protested. Kim thought he sounded a little disappointed. http://www.processtext.. ' But it's a long way to walk.

It had an unrelenting record of paralysis and death among the many pet animals in that city. It seemed a crime that she might end up having to throw a lot of it away. I suppose there's still time for improvement as she's only sixteen. She had almost finished her breakfast cup of coffee when she first heard the sound of a vehicle approaching and she hurried out on to the verandah to see . 'Don't let it worry you. 'Well. it's advisable to be on time for meals. Mona's attempts are distinctly a let-down.' this spoken with the superiority of a further two years. and that's all there is to it. if you're sure there's nothing else you'd like me to do I guess I'd better be getting home.' This last one Kim had heard of. and if it's got to be eaten it's best done while it's hot.' After Raoul had departed and Kim was storing the fresh milk away in the fridge. she'd be the first to agree with me. wondering what she had let herself in for. ' And what do I do with them once I've managed to get them to the dip?' ' Jack'll take over there for you. We normally only get a variety of grass ticks. otherwise it tends to become completely inedible. like— where did your cattle come from? How long have you had them? Where have they been grazing?' He grinned at Kim's expression. http://www. ' but after Mum and Rose's efforts. ' That's hardly a gentlemanly thing to say. but very brotherly. although she had to cut it short once she found she was becoming the target for every hungry mosquito in the area. I mean?' ' In that case you'll find yourself inundated with tick inspectors and research officers asking all sorts of questions. ' She's no great shakes as a cook.html ' Goodness!' Kim exclaimed. but what else could she do? She couldn't possibly drink that much! That night she had another pleasant walk down by the creek in the dusk after tea. his eyes poor Mona!' Kim found herself laughingly defending the absent girl.' He made it sound all very easy and uncomplicated.' He gave that slow smile that was so like his brother's. Raoul brushed back that lock of hair from his forehead again and settled his hat comfortably. as it was extremely prevalent in those parts of Sydney that had large surrounds of native bushland. But at least tonight she didn't have to hurry and be in bed by the time the light faded. but Kim wasn't so sure that it would turn out that way! 'And what if they have got any—cattle ticks. The following morning she awoke to find the sky overcast and a light but continuous rain falling.Generated by ABC Amber LIT Converter. and she spent a relaxing couple of hours in front of the television. ' Mona doesn't mind. ' in fact. is our Mona.' Raoul told her hastily. The far hills were obscured in a fine swirling mist that seemed to emphasise the silence. and for the first time Kim came to realise just how isolated was her position. What with Mum being away and Mona doing the cooking. I suppose.' ' Oh.' she conceded with a dry smile. she found herself staring anxiously at the amount of milk she was accumulating. He'll have a look over them to see if he can spot any cattle ticks—maybe take a few samples or so—and then put them through. finding that she was actually more interested in the advertisements than the programmes as they induced her to purchase articles and equipment which she had never seen before and which would all be of use to the 'man on the land'. I don't think they've found cattle ticks around this particular area for years. but occasionally we do get some dog ticks.processtext. If she only had one of those black iron monstrosities to cook on then she could sympathise only too well with her. There was still three-quarters of the morning's milking still sitting there and she could see that it was going to be some problem in finding ways to use it all.

and everything's so new and strange to me that I haven't had time.Generated by ABC Amber LIT Converter.. She wasn't quite sure what to do with them. ' in this condition I find I just have to put limits on myself and I couldn't ask Rafe or Rick because. Maybe she would get the hang of this milking after all! Later in the morning she was surprised to hear the sound of another vehicle pulling up and when she went outside to find out who it might be. and placing the water-filled kettle on the hotplate.' she said with another smile.' I've got some more of your livestock here.html Rick pulling up in the utility. I was only too pleased to be able to help.' with a brown hand ruffling the dark red hair of her son. explaining: ' When they've eaten down all the grass in their run you can let them loose to free-range. so far.' confessed Kim with a shake of her head after introducing herself. I'm not.. 'Hello. http://www.' ' Actually. They'll go back into the coop to lay—that's what Joe used to do with them. she turned to her visitor.. with a bright smile and a warm glow in her dark brown eyes. Rick. ' I must thank you for all the cleaning you did before I arrived. With as much resignation as she could muster at once again having to show her ignorance. 'Don't worry about it. ' this is Jason.' Kim had already decided that she preferred the hens to the cows—they were so much smaller and more manageable—but she was pleasantly surprised that morning when it came to the milking and she coped infinitely better with Clover than she had on the previous occasions. but. and. I'm just sorry I couldn't have done more in the way of clearing up the garden. she caught hold of the little boy's hand and they hurried up the steps and on to the verandah out of the rain. I'll just drive it round the back and unload them for you.processtext. My one and only . warm from the heat of the darkly glowing stove. I'll just put a coat on and meet you round by the shed. 'I'm Rose Gillespie.' Rose waved her thanks aside the twins and Mona were still away at school. He called out to her through the open window. attractive woman in her late twenties helping a small boy out of the back seat of a mud-covered station wagon. discovered a tall. I thought we'd come over and let you know what's going on around here in the way of entertainment—I expect you'll find things a bit quiet after Sydney. When she turned towards Kim it was clearly apparent that she was expecting an addition to her family in the very near future as. she enquired what she should feed them and Rick hunted in the store shed until he came across the appropriate sacks and showed her the necessary amounts of feed to give.. they were having quite a lot of trouble with the calving. at the time.' she looked down at herself with a wry grin. and it's only been in the last week or so that conditions have started to return to normal.' It was only then that Kim noticed he had some crates in the back of his vehicle and surmised that they must be the hens that Rafe had spoken of yesterday. I hate to think how much work it must have made for you after the place had stood empty for so long. but called back easily enough: ' Okay.' Leading the way through into the kitchen.' A few minutes later she had joined Rick by the old hen-house and watched happily as he turned the birds loose in their run where they immediately began scratching and pecking with great fervour at what seemed to Kim to be non-existent objects. I've come to introduce myself. at the moment.' .' There's been so much happening. It made moving in so much easier.

' At this Jason put down the glass of milk he had been drinking from. ' I'm not used to one of those and I haven't quite been game enough to try anything out in that line yet. then his eyes widened and he took a deep breath before adding impressively: ' His is 'normous!' ' What's 'normous now. fabulous or stupendous! Jason can't quite get his tongue around the last one. 'And I look like my daddy. my pet?' enquired his mother as she swept into the room triumphantly holding a cake tin aloft in one hand.' ' It's amazing the words they pick up. a three-tiered sponge cake that looked as light as a feather and covered with thick mouthwatering cream and dark red luscious-looking whole strawberries. isn't it?' ' And usually it's all those you'd rather they hadn't.processtext. licking the white froth from his top lip inexpertly. and piped up: ' Mummy's got a cake—in the car. ' I'll just slip out and get it—I won't be a moment. ‘ Everything for her is either enormous.' she spread her hands wide to encompass the old fuel stove. ' And what does your daddy do? Is he a farmer too?' Jason nodded rapidly. together with the teapot and a plate of biscuits for which she apologised: 'I'm sorry I haven't any cake to offer you. but we're getting a lot of 'normous with a few fablous thrown in for good measure.' she explained for Kim's benefit.' While his mother was away Jason turned his attention back to his milk until Kim asked him how old he was. but. But it's not as big as Uncle Rafe's.' She rose from her seat with a grace and energy that was a credit to her in view of her advanced pregnancy. ' I made it especially to bring over and then I go and forget the darned thing—that's what comes of rushing in out of the rain. I certainly appreciated it.Generated by ABC Amber LIT Converter.' came the obviously proud answer as he tilted his head to look up at Kim.' ' Let me get it for you.' His little freckled snub nose wrinkled appreciatively. With his deep auburn hair.' Kim broke in quickly. olive-skinned side of the O'Sullivan family. It was a scrumptious-looking confection.' Kim told her over one shoulder as she took cups and saucers from the dresser and placed them on the table. ' otherwise I feel as if I'll never be able to get back to my feet.' Rose gave a dismayed gasp and clapped a hand to her mouth. I can get it. he obviously hadn't taken after the dark-haired. Kim could almost feel her mouth beginning to water! . ' He's got a dairy wiv lots of cows.' Rose put a hand to her back and her eyebrows rose. ' I have too!' she cried.' This was said with such an air of authority that Kim was hard put not to openly smile at his sober sincerity. http://www.' This was said in a very wistful tone.' It's got strawbries on it. ' It's been his favourite word ever since Mona came home from school.' came Rose's laughing answer while she removed the cake from its tin and placed it on the plate that Kim had provided. guessing correctly that it was an observation that young Jason had heard many times in his short life. ' Is it in the front or the back?' ' Don't worry. light blue eyes and fair skin with its already generous sprinklng of freckles.html ' Well. ' I'm As a matter of fact I prefer not to sit for too long at a stretch.

but everyone. and I'll give you a ring between now and then to see how you're making out and to let you know what time we'll pick you up on Friday.M. and rather desperately wanting to find some ground where she could feel she was holding her own amongst these self-assured farmers who knew all there was to know about the land and its foibles. 'and that shouldn't be too hard—there's a dance on at the local hall next Friday and everyone. she had a phone that was usable. 'I'm afraid I'd better be on my way or I'll never have Hugh's lunch ready in time. 'I know it's shockingly fattening.' she shook her head. Kim. but. and if it's been a hot day. 'The ladies all take something for supper—a cake. Rose grinned conspiratorially. Is the hall very far away?' 'No. she had to admit that since moving in she'd had far more visitors in the space of a couple of days than she would ever have received in the city. .Generated by ABC Amber LIT Converter. or whether so-and-so's product actually gets rid of lice like they say it does.html Catching her expression.' Rose glanced down at her watch and gave a reluctant sigh. Having a connection with what she now termed ' the outside world' made her feel a little less isolated— http://www. her eyes dancing expressively. At least on the dance floor she wouldn't be at a disadvantage— not like she was when she had to be continually showing her lack of knowledge with anything connected with farming! ' What do I wear? Anything fancy?' she wanted to know. walking out to the verandah with Rose and waiting as Jason collected his toys together carefully and placed them in his miniature suitcase before waving goodbye to them as Rose expertly backed the station wagon around and proceeded down the bumpy track leading to the gate.' She paused for breath before continuing. 'Just about anything you like. I've no doubt you'd rather not face a hall full of strangers on your own.' ' Umm. you'll find yourself thinking you're suffocating for the want of a breath of cool air—but we all thoroughly enjoy ourselves.processtext. please.' Rose began. but the men mostly take their own and if we're not careful they all end up congregating outside drinking beer and discussing anything from the state of the weather to the price of cattle. You'd think I would have had a surfeit of it by now. but paid a volume of compliments to the cook. having supplied Jason with his matchbox toys and seeing him engrossed with his game on the front verandah.' I haven't!' Drawing their chairs up to the table.' 'I'd love to go. something like that—but the hall provides the cups for the tea and they have a fridge well stocked with soft drinks. or some sandwiches. only a couple of miles on the way to town.' enthused Kim. her blue eyes shining.' 'It sounds fun and I'm looking forward to it already. but cream has always been one of my weaknesses. I have enjoyed meeting you. Most of the girls wear summer frocks—usually the coolest one you own. in what appeared only a matter of minutes. it gets pretty crowded up there some nights. or a wet one. to be strictly truthful. I know I wouldn't. and though the band may not be up to city standards they play practically non-stop all night and manage to bang out a pretty good rhythm all the same.' Kim agreed gratefully.G. called to connect the telephone and.' You'll run the whole gamut of fashions from lounge suits to jeans. the three of them proceeded to demolish half the cake in a period of time that might have said little for their etiquette. They usually hold them about once a month. I warn you. Afterwards. and my doctor would have a coronary on the spot if he could see me. No sooner had Kim finished her own lunch than the technician from the P. having lived on dairies all my life. the two girls came back into the kitchen to enjoy their hot tea. turns out for those.' Rose quickly put her on the right track. ' I must introduce you to all the young people in the district.

' In my opinion. in my opinion. 'There's nothing wrong with it that I can see. She was putting away the washed and dried utensils that she had used on the failure when there came a sharp knock on the fly-screen door and. '. she muttered fateful imprecations at the stove as she wrapped the remains in some paper and disposed of it into the merrily licking flames—only to wish speedily that she hadn't been so impetuous.' thinking he was about to confirm her own thoughts on the matter. go on. ' You know what they say—it's a bad workman who blames his tools. Rafe strode into the room with an ease of movement that was peculiarly his. then grimaced..' Kim had to smile in return and watched interestedly when he went down on his haunches in front of the stove and began turning knobs and opening and closing vents. ' I can cook!' she snapped indignantly. ' Would you like me to have a look at it for you?' Kim's first thought after his previous comments was to tell him not to bother.. http://www. It only seems to have two temperatures—cold or red hot—and there's not much you can cook when those are the only two you've got to work with!' He tut-tutted. If only she had some instructions as to how to operate it! She really was coming to dread every time she had to use the thing. but her cooking was usually quite passable. aware of Kim's rising colour.. ' Go on.html Directly the technician had gone she resigned herself to the knowledge that if she was expected to help provide the supper at the coming dance.' Disgruntled at the time. 'Well. without waiting for an answer.Generated by ABC Amber LIT Converter. this time her good old standby chocolate cake definitely could not be called a success. ' That's better. and Kim urged.' he allowed the sentence to trail off insinuatingly. However. but once it had been taken from its tin she found the bottom had been baked solid. sniffed.. you must have a heavy hand on the controls.' But at her look of heaving a thoughtful expression on his face. Rafe's lips now quirked approvingly. please.' As if he had known exactly what she had been tempted to say. while the top had promptly collapsed into a gooey mess which had the regrettable resemblance to a puddle of mud. and commented dryly: 'Been doing some cooking?' Kim felt humiliated and snapped back quickly: ' Don't be so sarcastic! It's not my fault I've never seen one of those contraptions before.' ' But there must be! It surely can't all be me!' . effort and ingredients that had gone into the making of such a hideous disaster..' He grinned exasperatingly. of help. Never knock back an offer. It's archaic—goodness knows how anybody can cook on them!' 'A lot of women swear by them—-wouldn't have anything else.' he began leisurely. as the fumes now gave off a shockingly.' he smiled. Without uttering a word he looked at Kim intently. But I suppose if you can't cook.. It had looked perfectly all right when she removed it from the oven.' I just don't know how to work the blessed thing. then she had better practise her cake-baking on the combustion stove. When he was finished he rose to his feet slowly. but after an inward struggle common sense prevailed and turning demure blue eyes in his direction she answered meekly: ' Yes. strong odour of burning food. She was no Cordon Bleu. he laughed and relented.

that she had never felt such an attraction as she did for this dynamic man. during which she could see that the flow of milk was steadily becoming slower. she turned and rummaged in the cupboard before turning back to him.' Indecision was written plainly across Kim's face—one half of her telling her that it would be better for her peace of mind if Rafe wasn't such a regular visitor. Could I?' Kim disclaimed ruefully. in spite of the coolness of the day. ' From the number of times that you've told me how busy I must be. some of her fingers had pins and needles while one forefinger was decidedly numb.' he owned. Without warning she felt hard hands grip on either side of her waist and she was lifted bodily from the . 'And you'll see that I'm right. she would never credit the change in her friend.' 'You think so?' was his only comment as he followed her from the kitchen. smoothing a long forefinger over her palm and giving her icy shivers down her spine. Resolved to show him that she didn't need help. his hands thrust into the back pockets of his jeans. He took one of her slim hands with his own.Generated by ABC Amber LIT Converter. Clover wasn't waiting to be called these days.' His eyes were gleaming with devilry as he watched the attractive face turned to his colour embarrassedly before Kim precipitately dragged her hand from his grasp. 'Independent little thing. yes. But after ten minutes. ' even though Rick was telling me at lunch that you did very well this morning. aren't you?' he drawled slowly. With Rafe in a mood like this she felt almost claustrophobic standing so close to him and in an effort to get the situation back on to a more stable footing. mockingly. conditioned enough to strip Clover right out. Her wrists and arms ached leadenly and. Then it came to her. the milking bucket already in her hand. then with more spirit as she looked at him determinedly. across the now soggy grass. 'Why not? Are you that good?' ' No. thank you.' his mouth curved. ' I wouldn't have thought so. ' I—I beg your pardon?' Kim stammered vaguely. If only Patsy could see her now. not quite out of her musings.' She paused for breath and then rushed on: ' But I think I should be able to manage on my own from now ' Shall we put it to the test?' Rafe interrupted her thoughts.' she agreed faintly.html His dark brows rose sardonically. http://www. ' but I do know from personal experience that it throws a pretty mean bucket. He was talking about her milking Clover by herself. And to think that it was only a few short months ago that Patsy had been complaining that she was too successful in keeping her emotions under control! Well. Rafe watched her closely. I just meant that I couldn't have that heavy a hand. the other half telling her that she wanted him to come. she thought. and said hurriedly: ' I mustn't hold you up—I know how busy you must be and I'm only too grateful for you sending someone up to help me each time. turning it over and carefully inspecting the soft skin.' With his eyes an intense green. there were beads of perspiration appearing at her temples as a result of her tenacious effort. she set to with a seriousness that put creases in her smooth brow as she laid it against the wet hide in front of her and tried to will her hands and wrists to stand the pressure. ' Oh! Oh.processtext. to the bails and the waiting cow. As for you being able to manage on your own. I didn't mean it like that. that was something she'd not been able to do ever since her first meeting with Rafe O'Sullivan. as yet. I'll soon start feeling guilty for not being busier than I actually am. I hardly think those small hands of yours are.

unable to keep silent any longer. and continued the milking. honey. some distance away. just because you say so!' Suddenly he laughed. Clover munched contentedly on. You expect me to bow down to your every command. She tossed her head at him defiantly.' But as you're so fond of saying—I do have some work to do. don't we?' ' You mean you'd hit me back?' She couldn't keep the surprise from her voice. and planted on her feet. heading towards the house with a long ground-covering stride that soon left her behind.Generated by ABC Amber LIT Converter. a deep amused sound. With only a narrowed. or I'll—I'll slap your face!' Kim declared incautiously.' she flared. and I'm not likely to get it finished if I have to stay here half the day watching you do something that. she felt an almost overwhelming desire to hit out at him—anything to disturb that self-assured complacency! Hardly had he finished and sent Clover on her way than Kim spoke up. Kim let-out an angry breath and started to run. only stopping when she reached Rafe's side to dart in front of him and stand in his path.html stool with a simplification that left her gasping. ' I don't think so. hands clenched into fists at her sides. Rafe seated himself on the stool that Kim had left so expeditiously a moment earlier. I'd rather not stand out here catching pneumonia. but you expect me to. his expression cold. http://www. with nothing to do but watch. ' Sure you could. and now that her fingers had returned to normal completely banishing from her mind the numbness they had experienced such a short time ago.' he spoke the words slowly. just because you've taken it into your head to prove how self-sufficient you are!' Tight-lipped. ' I'm sure you are! I bet you never ask for help from anyone. With his back to her and his head turned away. quite heavily this time. her feet slightly apart and her hands on her hips. She really wouldn't have been surprised if she couldn't have moved them at all! But as each further minute passed she could feel her temper rising at Rafe's high-handed usage and she took a couple of deep breaths in order to keep it under control.' Now that would be something to see!' 'And don't laugh at me. deliberately. angry gaze as an explanation for his treatment. 'And what's wrong with wanting to be independent?' she demanded imperiously. Knowing that if she wanted to say anything more on the subject she was going to have to catch up with him. Left standing. even if the—er—view is decidedly appealing. And if it's all the same to her eyes daring him to contradict her. the milk bucket hanging loosely from one large hand. none too gently. should only take fifteen minutes at the most. his face inscrutable. and that her clothes were starting to get wet. 'That wasn't what I said.' . honey. Rafe O'Sullivan. uncaring that it had begun to rain again. her breasts heaving against the thin material of her shirt. He rubbed a hand round the back of his neck and gave an exasperated sigh. ' I could have done it.' I could have finished it!' His eyes travelled slowly over the small quivering figure in front of him. she stretched her aching arms and flexed her cramped fingers experimentally.' he taunted ruthlessly. ' because we both know who'd come off worst from an encounter like that.processtext. he brushed past her.

Generated by ABC Amber LIT Converter. So he's for company and. 'Come on.' the word hung in the air like a rifle shot until a hand deep in her hair swung her around to face him and that well-shaped mouth came down on hers. he watched silently while Kim hurried about putting the milk away. whereupon it proceeded to launch itself at the front steps with more courage than ability and finally came to rest licking. Kim glanced down at her clothing and saw that. I don't think it will.' he invited. shut up!' Immediately she was free Kim sped into the house. The smile he gave her was filled with a masculine knowledge that she could only guess at hazily. furry bundle hurled itself uncaringly into the shower where it ran around undecidedly for a few moments before espying the dry verandah. ' That's right. Don't look so worried. As she closed the door of the fridge his long. She could sense him close behind her and angling him a quick glance from the corner of her eye she decided that she wasn't going to allow him to have the last word. her back stiff and haughty.. she bent and picked up the sandy-coloured little puppy and hugged him close in her arms.' She gave him a mischievous look from under her dark lashes. he's gorgeous. and she mouthed a small ' Oh!' of embarrassment as she turned on her heel and marched in front of him towards the house. With a sharp yelp of pleasure a small. taking her breath away for the short time it lingered. but I love him already just the same. It wasn't as if she'd never been kissed before. 'I could have finished the milking. to open the door. With a cry of delight. If he had wanted her quiet. How old is he?' . '. the bare skin of Kim's ankles that showed beneath the hem of her jeans. http://www. it was very revealing the way her shirt was plastered to her curving figure. She wasn't quite sure why a kiss should affect her so—making her insistently aware of the rapid beating of her heart and a wilting feeling in the region of her knees... in truth. I told you this was no place for a young girl to be living on her own. but when she glanced at him he only gave her that slow. bending his head low against the now teeming rain. pulling her towards the front verandah. ' Well. Rafe left her standing on the verandah while he hurried across to the ute. I can't really agree with you for those reasons. lazy smile that had such a calamitous result upon her nervous system and she looked away again quickly.. hard and commanding.html Taken unawares. and she was annoyed with herself for letting Rafe see that it had affected her at all. Leaning indolently against the dresser. ' Kim . Rafe! Is he really for me?' she smiled up at the man again standing beside her who was shaking the rain from his hair. with a wet and sticky pink tongue. then he had chosen the most effective way of achieving when he's older. He should make a good watchdog. it won't bite.' ' For me?' ' Uh-huh. you know. At least. her eyes flicking away quickly whenever he chanced to come into her vision. lithe body came into her range again and she started with confusion when his warm hand caught at one of her own.' At that a frown crossed her face. 'Oh. sweetheart. keeping her gaze averted from Rafe when he followed her into the kitchen and stood the bucket in the middle of the table.' she told him stubbornly. ' I've got something for you.processtext. protection.

html 'Three months. ' he can have as much milk as he can drink. No. 'I'll call you Bounty. dashed towards the hen house so that she could feed them and collect the eggs. she really wasn't looking forward to her first attempt at herding cows. Okay?' She nodded her head dolefully. The rain was still steadily drumming on the roof and spilling over the gutters in many places when Kim donned her coat and pretty rainhat and calling to the puppy to follow her. You do know how to feed one of those!' Kim buried her face in the soft. 'Rafe!' Kim called after him urgently.' she told him excitedly. slightly damp fur of the wriggling little body in her arms. Rafe put his head through the open window to adjure: ' Don't forget the dipping tomorrow. By this time the small bundle in her arms was squirming in an effort to be free so. In the kitchen she took down a bowl. Thinking this was some new game. I. 'Actually. and having thrown out the amount of wheat that Rick had shown her. She took off her hat and coat by the door. and it wasn't even as though it had meant anything to Rafe—he'd only been indulging himself in a brief moment of amusement at her expense. for example— she'd gone all lightheaded and nervous after one brief kiss.' she confessed in muffled tones. she set the pup down and he trotted happily after her when she made her way through the house. by the way?' 'Not yet—that's your department.' A look of laughter crept into his eyes and his mouth tilted. no.' came the sudden pleased thought. they at least knew what they were supposed to be doing. Does he have a name. filled it with thick. and at his look of enquiry. creamy milk and stood it in one corner. I haven't. http://www.' She broke off what she had been about to say when she saw the audacious glance he cast in her direction and he murmured provokingly: ' Remind me at the dance on Friday. she definitely would not be reminding Mr O'Sullivan on Friday that she owed him her thanks for his gift! Slamming the door of the ute behind him. the puppy lolloped along behind her on his gangling legs. ' I haven't thanked you properly for him yet.' Not on your life! Not after that disturbing look he had sent her.' Rafe answered lightly. Rafe O'Sullivan was coming to have too great an influence on her life altogether. If she wasn't careful she could see the day coming when she would have no defence whatsoever against his brand of persuasive havoc. especially if it was still raining.. After the first exploratory sniff and lick. Seven-thirty. once more hurried back through the rain with her bounty. and. and only hoped that. her new household addition set to with a will that belied the fact that he had only been fed a few hours before.Generated by ABC Amber LIT Converter. having seen Rafe drive off with a casual wave. 'I know what I'll call you.. but added with a happy smile. ' I suppose you have had a dog before. ' although I have seen enough ads on TV to have a general idea of the dog foods available. but clearly enjoying the romp.processtext. Kim was thrilled to find that she had half a dozen lovely brown eggs awaiting her in the nests. shaking the rain from them before going down on her haunches beside the puppy and fondling one silky little ear. Because you're just like these .com/abclit. This afternoon. Kim. not stopping until the bowl had been well and truly cleared. at times almost tripping over his own feet. as the cows had been there before. making for the steps and the waiting ute.

' Although he obviously hadn't understood a word of what Kim had said. you're a benefit from having moved out of the city. It really wouldn't do for a girl to take them at face value! Hardly had she had time to change into a pair of stout walking shoes—if it was as muddy as Rick implied then she'd better add a pair of boots to her shopping list—than he was back with a brimming bucket.' No.processtext. She replied cheerfully. so I'll just do the milking and run. Kim was up early again next morning and dressed in her usual jeans and a checked cotton top. however. love. but I thought I'd better milk Clover for you before she's dipped. She couldn't put it off any longer! So. There might be nothing to it for those who had been bred on the land.' he approved.' Cutting short her thanks. I'll be okay. it was just as obvious that Bounty had approved of the tone in which she had said it. As they drew near Bounty gave a few sharp barks then sat back on his rump to watch Kim do . she nearly jumped out of her skin when there was a sudden knock on the back door and Rick pushed his head in. The door slammed shut again and Kim was left feeling quite out of breath after Rick's rush. having given vent to a despairing sigh.' That was a downright lie if ever there was one! Rick. while his new mistress busily began preparing them both a meal. I'm rather looking forward to it. ' Good girl. but having just come from the city it was looming large on her horizon like some giant obstacle course. but her smile was a little forced.' he teased her with a smile and a wink as she went to change her shoes after handing him the bucket. ' Got the bucket.' Kim didn't give voice to the grimace she felt inside. she knew that if she didn't set off soon she would have no hope of reaching the yards by her allotted time. ' Would you like me to give you a hand to take your stock down?' she put on a brave front. if you don't mind? Don't come out with me. she started tramping across the paddock to where the furthest cow was grazing. With a laugh Kim held open the door for him and taking it as his due Bounty padded into the room and rapidly proceeded to curl himself up in the most comfortable place in the room. as a matter of fact. calling Bounty to her side. I'll be quicker without you there to distract me. At his. http://www. the mat in front of the stove. she couldn't convince herself of this fact! Some time later. She smiled to herself at the easy way in which the O'Sullivans used casual endearments. my boots are in a mess. Not expecting callers at that hour. thanks. pleased to find that the rain had stopped during the night and that the sun was bright and clear in the sky overhead and that puffs of white cloud were the only reminders of the miserable weather of the day before. Perhaps it would be easier than she was expecting. knowing that he had plenty of his own work to do this morning and that Rafe was no doubt chafing at the bit for his return. Rick. The ground outside is a soggy mire. he explained: ' I'm in a bit of a rush. 'There's really nothing to it. but at the moment." She hurried through her own breakfast and gave some milk and cereal to Bounty before shooing him outside while she tidied up.Generated by ABC Amber LIT Converter. The twins did the milking this morning and Rafe and I are doing the dipping. love. except that it takes time. Kim? I won't come eggs .here. for he promptly gave her fingers a sloppy lick and handsomely showered her with whatever water he could dislodge from his fur. took it as said.

Finding nothing to fascinate him in this way. It was a glorious day and the sun shone down on Kim's head. Jack Carter. watching Jack— apparently no one in the country used surnames—inspecting her stock while they stood one behind the other in the dip race. All this time Bounty had stayed close to Kim's heels. turning her hair to sparkling copper. The grass had taken on a deeper colour and flashed with an icy glitter where the sun slanted its rays across the droplets of water still clinging to the long blades. which. With a grin of sheer pleasure she bent and fondled Bounty's head—it wasn't going to be so bad after all! Once through the gate the herd turned the right way of their own accord with Kim and Bounty following happily behind. he sized up the now quiet cattle consideringly and decided he would emulate the dog he had just seen and have a good game on the way home. she noticed. Whereas the cattle dog had known what he was about and had been carefuly taught the correct way to round up cattle with as little fuss and energy as possible. Bounty now threw caution to the winds and galloped straight into the middle of the ungainly cows. the curling ends to gleaming fire. Kim rushed to cut her off and finally had her heading towards the rest of her small herd. Pleased with his mistress's efforts. http://www. grudgingly turned and began walking in front of her towards the boundary gate. though they looked doubtful at the first glance. which. whether from a desire to be obedient or from plain fear of the loudly indignant cattle. and had the herd milling in the mustering yard in a few minutes. flew in chattering flocks from tree to tree. and forcing them one by one. and lorikeets with their predominantly green feathers. but generously splashed with purple. the tick inspector. She gave him a bright smile. but perhaps that had been because of the interest she had taken in her surroundings and she hadn't noticed the time passing. It was a morning to make one feel glad to be alive and she quickened her pace to make sure she wasn't late. The track was badly rutted and extremely slushy in places ' after the rain so that she had to watch where she was putting her feet. Having first got the lumbering cow setting off in the wrong direction after a lot of shouting and hand-waving.Generated by ABC Amber LIT Converter. barking delightedly and deciding that one small calf near the front looked the best bet for a playmate. crimson and orange. Kim wasn't sure. They had only travelled a couple of hundred yards over the first rolling hill before Bounty had recovered his customary buoyancy and was making his normal forays into the bushes alongside the track in an effort to find something of interest. but he was very pleased to be on the move again once she had said her farewells to Jack—with his reminder that he would see her again in three weeks' time— and the stock were headed back for home at a trot that plainly showed their desire to be gone from the yards. however. to jump into the murky grey water to emerge the other side with dirty-looking hides that gradually began to steam when the sun's rays penetrated them.html the work. Bounty came bounding towards her to congratulate her by jumping up and down on her legs. made a few darting runs around Kim's cattle. accompanied by directing barks. feeling rather pleased with herself as they neared the rest of the cows. a dark red-coated animal with the pricked ears of a fox and glittering yellow-hazel eyes. Rick had helpfully left blue. By the time the yards came into view Kim was astonished mat it had taken such a short time. but she took great pleasure in looking around her at the gently rolling green hills. It was fascinating this first time for Kim.processtext. . came out and introduced himself and while they stood talking his cattle dog. The trees had a 'just washed' look as they stretched heavy branches towards the blue sky. The calf didn't reciprocate his feelings. With relief she saw that no other cattle were present—having got her own moving she wasn't any too sure that she could stop them on command.

'I don't fancy doing it on foot in this weather—it's too hot!' ' You should get yourself a horse.' She shaded her eyes from the glare with a slim hand as she looked upwards at Ruy with an appreciative smile. once he's older and starts to roam more. http://www. I couldn't do that. and it was only when he had finally exhausted himself by scattering the herd in all directions across the O'Sullivans' paddock that Bounty obligingly. She was hot and sticky—the air being very humid as the sun vaporized the day before's rainfall—and for his efforts she gave Bounty a sharp slap on his rump. This proved to be correct when he introduced himself. and waited for her to catch up to him.' gathering up the reins in one hand with the expertise of long use. only to find that she was being outdistanced with every step she took. With a gasp of dismay Kim began to run too. in time. ' would you like me to round them up for you?' He nodded his head towards her scattered herd. whereupon she picked him up in her arms and gave him a consoling hug. he'll start on everybody else's cattle. 'you could have any number of irate neighbours pounding on your front door demanding his head. 'You can't slap him and then hug and. his tongue hanging out pantingly. I can do without another one.' Ruy gave an infectious grin.' Definitely she would not be getting a horse! .' ' Oh. His small pleased expression died and turned dismal. ' And what did you mean when you said.processtext. ' Would you? I would be grateful. brushing some clinging curls from her damp forehead.html and after one terrified look Bounty's way. but she found herself looking at another dark-haired. and if you let him get into the habit of chasing cattle you'll find.' said a young voice from somewhere behind her in an amused tone. She could just imagine what Rafe would have to say if he ever found Bounty chasing his cattle! She shuddered to think of it! ' However. and pushing the inevitable stockman's hat to the back of his head.' a hint of a smile appeared at the corners of his mouth.' Heaven forbid! Kim's eyes widened with anxiety at the thought. " I'll never train him that way ". She hadn't heard anybody approaching. Ruy gave a shrug of broad shoulders. easing forward in the saddle on a gleaming grey horse.' I've got enough livestock now that I can't handle. Also.' she enquired quizzically. making Kim feel a distinct spoilsport. By the time she did so she wasn't in a very good frame of mind. He'll never know what he's not allowed to do that way. no. That would make it a lot easier for you. grey-eyed member of the O'Sullivan family. giving Kim cause to wonder whether he was of as serious a mind as his words implied. kicked its heels high in the air and broke into a run. surprised. causing the rest of them to panic as they sought to escape from the noisy little bundle that insisted on jumping at them.Generated by ABC Amber LIT Converter. They're not the most surefooted creatures and they could easily go down with a broken leg. lay down. whom she surmised could only be the twin she hadn't as yet met—Ruy. that it's well nigh impossible to break him of it—unless you want to keep him chained all day. making the girth leather creak and the bridle jingle. ' in the meantime. Kim whirled.' ' Uh-uh!' Kim shook her head. 'You'll never train him that way. That's cruel!' 'It's cruel to let him chase your cows too.

. dim.html With an acknowledging smile Ruy settled his hat forward. but even so. it would still be no bother to call in. She supposed she would have to have another try at making some sort of cake to take with her to the dance. Hugh's mother always looks after Jason for us—she loves the chance to have him to herself for a while—so there's no problem there. but she really didn't . She had forgotten completely about it being re-connected. saying that he was wanted back at the house.' her voice became agitated.processtext. Rose. We'll see you then. kicked his heels to the horse's sides and moved off across the paddock. Kim. she gave Bounty another large bowl of milk. Hugh and X will pick you up about a quarter to eight. ' oh. It was going to be an extremely hot day! Inside. that's settled. she not until we were on our way home again. Kim? It's Rose here. a quarter to eight will be fine. Rose chuckled. yes. and poured herself a long cool drink of lemonade. slowly now that the sun was climbing steadily into the sky and was burning its way through the thin material of her top and into the skin of her back.' ' Right. A lot of us pick up others on the way— saves having to take too many cars—the parking area isn't that large and we can get more in this way. 'Bye for now. Kim replaced the phone and went back to the kitchen and stared long and hard at the stove complacently commandeering a large area of room space.' a voice said once Kim had lifted the receiver. ' Too late! At his age his aim's none too accurate and instead of pouring his drink into.. Kim. ' Jason—Mummy'll get that for . With a start she realised that her phone was ringing. We're only on the other side of the family's property.. That okay with you? Or we can leave it till later if that doesn't suit. will you? Jason's got hold of a . lounge room.' the phone went quiet and then Kim could hear. ' well.' ' Why? What happened?' She laughed. and after he had gone she walked to the house. keeping a close eye on Bounty's whereabouts.' ' In that case..' With a disconsolate sigh.Generated by ABC Amber LIT Converter. I expect. I wanted to check that you were still in favour of going to the dance tomorrow night. so we have to go right past the end of your track in any case.' ' No.' and when Kim answered enthusiastically in the affirmative. Placing her glass on the table. http://www.' Kim replied. hang on for a minute. ' Never mind. out of it. ' Hello. he'll grow. she hurried through to the small. and explained to Rose what had occurred. What I really rang about is whether.' Rose's voice became clear again and she laughed. Kim. ' at least. ' How did you go with the dipping this morning? Okay?' ' Not too badly. Watching how easily Ruy herded the cattle together and through the gateway on to her own property with the aid of a horse beneath him made her realise how useful they were on a farm...his mug we now have it all over the floor.' She laughed again. remembering Bounty's joyous delight. I'd better go now and clean up Jason's mess before he tramps it all through the house. Now where was I? Ah. Ruy refused her offer of a drink. led the way back to the boundary gate. As long as you're sure I'm not taking you out of your way by calling for me?' 'Of course you're not.. giving Kim the impression that Rose took this sort of accident all in her stride. I'll be ready and waiting when you arrive.. '. And even if we didn't have to. glad to see a way of usefully disposing of her tremendous excess at last. she couldn't foresee the day when she could bring herself to actually mount one.

but Kim was sure it would only be a short time now before she could manage completely on her own. He took over to finish stripping Clover.Generated by ABC Amber LIT Converter. http://www. when she began walking down the street. she automatically made sure that all the windows were up and the doors locked before she left the car. . if it didn't turn out she could always buy a cake in town tomorrow. thank heavens. Oh. It wasn't until she returned to her own vehicle with her first load of purchases that she realised why. especially during the summer months. tomorrow was another day— she only hoped that they sold a nice selection in town. and she came to understand that with the temperatures that were reached in this part of the State. When she opened her own door the blast of hot air that reached out to her was suffocating. She would have to go in to stock up on her groceries in any case for the weekend.processtext. he didn't try to follow her. her feet in open white sandals and her hair caught into curly bunches on either side of her head in order to let some air reach the nape of her neck. well. There was a lovely early morning breeze blowing through die vehicle as Kim bumped and lurched her way along the track and then more enjoyably joined the surfaced roadway to Lismore. As she reversed the car and prepared to drive off she could see Bounty sitting on the verandah looking miserably at the departing car but. that all the other cars already parked appeared to have their windows open and the doors unlocked. It was only a short journey and by arriving early she found a parking space without too much trouble after having first dropped off her punctured tyre for repairing.html fancy it—it was so disheartening when she just couldn't seem to set the temperature properly. it just wasn't realistic to shut up a car completely. but an hour later she sat facing another dismal failure. Putting Bounty outside to give herself a clear go. Coming from the city as she had. CHAPTER V Friday morning dawned to brilliant sunshine again and Kim was thrilled to see that she had at last reached the stage where she had almost finished the milking before Raoul arrived to help her. well. and the tyre still needed repairing and her list of necessaries was growing daily. Raoul didn't stay for long when he found that Kim planned to drive into town that morning and by eight-thirty she was dressed in a cool lavender and white candy-striped cotton shift with a square-cut yoke. she tried to cheer herself weakly. she began with a look of concentrated determination on her face. but was surprised to but there was no way in the world that she'd be taking that effort to the hall! Oh. Perhaps it wasn't quite as bad as her previous attempt.

and the water seemed a trifle murky. although the image of Rafe's heart-leaping smile kept appearing in her mind. collected her groceries at the supermarket's drive-in pick-up section and her tyre from the service station. The sun that had been so brilliant all day was just beginning to fade and turn the horizon a dusky pink when she began running her bath after tea. purchasing an appetising apple cake and a peppermint frosted chocolate chip cake as she did so. at the moment. it didn't seem feasible. she didn't give it another thought as she slid into the warm. rushing out onto the verandah. Kim noted that the time was moving on and she made her way back to her car. window-shopping and discovering her way around the town. She had her lunch in a small quiet coffee shop overlooking the Richmond River and couldn't for the life of her comprehend how that sluggishly moving body of water. rather it was that she didn't think she was capable. could possibly flood into the town with the ease with which it apparently did. It was getting late and she didn't want to keep Rose and her husband waiting when they called for her. the general shops were bright and cheery and. She was putting the finishing touches to her make-up and adding an extra coat of a light pink lipstick when she heard the car pulling up outside and. she had been inclined to dismiss all towns outside the metropolitan area as not worth bothering about. Glancing at the small watch encircling her tanned wrist. Kim. It wasn't that she didn't want to become one.. http://www. which she found was a lot larger than she had expected.processtext. and after some considerable thought finally decided upon an eye-catching printed organza in swirls of blue and.' Rick was away as quickly as he had come and she was left to get on with her own preparations. With a.Generated by ABC Amber LIT Converter. and was again part way through the milking when Rick put in his appearance. she deliberately tried to set it aside and dismiss it as the cause of the unwarranted quickening of her senses. so were the helpful assistants. ' I'll see you up at the hall. called out hurriedly: ' I'll just get my bag and the goodies and I'll be.' Her voice trailed off in amazement when she saw Rafe . every year. but the boutiques were up-to-date with their fashions. as the sun shimmered and danced carelessly off the tiny waving ripples. green that was both cool and comfortable to wear.html For the rest of the morning Kim spent her time leisurely. Nothing more! She would be all sorts of a fool if she tried to imagine that it might be anything else! With these ideas in mind she hurried through the feeding of the hens and Bounty. there was so much that she would have to learn. With the typical reaction of a Sydneysider. Once the car was unloaded and her purchases put away. She found she was becoming unconsciously excited about the coming evening's entertainment and. After all. it was only just a dance at the local hall —a meeting place where she could get to know a few more of her neighbours and have an enjoyable evening at the same time. relaxing depths of the old-fashioned Bounty's welcome when she got out of the car was exuberant in the extreme and his little claws scratched at her legs unmercifully as he jumped at her in his endeavours to show her how pleased he was to see her again. Kim had to smile at this.. which. for it was common knowledge that Lismore flooded just about once. and then drove home. at least. He was very approving of the progress she had made and reckoned that they'd make a country girl of her yet. On that sunny early summer's day. and don't forget to save me a few dances. must have been at least some twenty feet below the top of its banks. and although the tap was giving queer choking and spluttering noises towards the end. Kim went to her wardrobe to select a dress to wear to the dance that night.

' he paused significantly. http://www. I haven't wrought any havoc to your emotions. ' Hugh had trouble with a cow calving late this afternoon.' So that puts you right back in your place. She gave herself time to recover a little of her equilibrium before gathering up her two cake-filled tins and resignedly walking back to the verandah and her ' escort'. After all. ' Oh.. Kim peered past him into the night. apart from the fact that you happen to be living on a certain twenty acres he wants to get his hands on.' he taunted lazily. If he could get hold of those he wouldn't be paying any special attention. so Rose asked me to step into the breach and escort you to the hall. to you— you can bet your life he's not pushed to find a female willing to keep him company! She roused herself from these disquieting thoughts and hunched her shoulders in a depreciatory gesture. but whatever he was thinking wasn't apparent in his voice when he replied in his own easy. That hadn't been a very bright comment to make—if she wasn't careful she could end up with a reaction from him that wouldn't be to her liking.Generated by ABC Amber LIT Converter. She made no attempt to indulge in any light conversation on the way to the hall but sat in silent contemplation of the ribbon of roadway that snaked before them in the gleam of the headlights. They'll be along later. alluring. I'm—er—I'm sorry if it's put you out at all.. I see. As Rafe opened her door for her Kim could feel butterflies jumping nervously in her stomach at the . almost as if he could read her mind. my girl! You're an idiot if you think Rafe O'Sullivan has any other interest in you. inimitable way.processtext. making Kim wonder if by chance it had been his own idea. so why should I to anyone else's?' Bitterly regretting her choice of words. 'I wasn't intending to cause a sensation. open at the neck to reveal with startling clarity a length of strong brown neck.' Kim snapped. Well.' 'You mean you wouldn't have gone at all. ' and that would have been a pity. I wonder what sort of a sensation you'll cause amongst the males present tonight?' 'None at all. ' Where's Rose?' she enquired. followed by Rafe's genuinely amused laughter. Apparently Rafe felt no need for speech either. '.. unable to keep her quivering nerves under control. Obviously they weren't amongst the first to arrive as the small grounds were rapidly filling with a variety of vehicles and people were making their way towards the large open doorways of the hall in twos and threes as well as larger groups. she spun around and headed down the hallway. her hands held tightly together in her lap. trying to keep her voice light even as she felt her nerves start to tingle.' he drawled slowly. 'I'm deputising. You look very. don't you.. I expect. If you'd rung and let me know I could have driven myself up there. ' Isn't she coming?' Rafe took his time in and she could only suppose that it was because he would rather have been escorting someone quite different. scrutinising her appearance slowly and deliberately with a narrowed look.html appear out of the darkness surrounding the car and into the ray of light shining from the front doorway—a Rafe who looked too masculine and potentially dangerous for any girl's peace of mind in a pair of tan pants that hugged at slim hips and a creamy white silk knitted short-sleeved shirt. After a few miles they turned off the main road to town on to a smaller roadway and in a matter of minutes were turning in through a narrow gateway set in a fence of brightly painted wrought iron that surrounded the rather imposing white-painted-building.

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thought of meeting so many strangers, and it was with an indolence that was completely foreign to her nature that she retrieved her offerings from the back seat of the car before giving a small laugh and tritely remarking on the unexpected size of the building. Rafe leant his dark head low, his eyes a darker green than Kim had ever seen them as the moonlight failed to penetrate the luxuriant fronds of the palm tree under which they had parked. 'The quicker you get it over with, the less nerve-racking it will be,' he murmured reassuringly, 'and then you can get back to being your normal bewitching self,' he added with a hint of tantalising mockery to his tone. Kim cast him an indignant glance but forbore from answering him in kind. With his being the only familiar face in sight, she didn't feel like alienating him at this juncture by picking a quarrel and being left to enter the hall entirely on her own as she suspected might happen. With a sinewy brown arm thrown casually across her shoulders, of which she was only too aware, Rafe shepherded her across the grass and up the low concrete steps into the mingling crowd congregated in the brilliantly lit entry. Noticing a newcomer in their midst, some of the crowd turned to Rafe expectantly, offering greetings to which he replied informally before introducing Kim to the Robertsons, the Slaters, the Maxwells, the Hintons, and many, many more, until her head was spinning with names and faces that refused to make the right connections in her mind. She shook her head wonderingly and said in an aside to Rafe: ' I'll never remember them all. Do they all live around here?' He gave a nod and an understanding grin.' You'll get to know them all in time. After a few more of these get-togethers you'll be able to put faces to names—they won't be expecting you to remember them all straight away;' ' I'm glad of that,' she put in a heartfelt sigh, ' otherwise they would have been very disappointed.' By now they had managed to make their way across the hall floor to a doorway set in the middle of one long wall which led into the kitchen. This was a long, somewhat narrow room that ran the entire length of the hall and which was set with long , trestle tables and form seats, while at the end nearest the door there were cupboards containing china and glassware and cutlery, an electric stove of uncertain vintage, a stainless steel sink and a huge hot water urn. The cupboards were quickly becoming piled high with cake tins and containers together with napkin-covered baskets filled with the evening's offerings, and Kim deposited her tins along with the others. Once more back into the hall itself with Rafe's arm again provocatively holding her close to his side, she took stock of her surroundings. The building was entirely made of wood; the inside walls and even the ceiling made of close-fitting painted pale green lining boards, which formed a complicated but attractive design on the roof. The large windows were set high in the walls, while down the furthest end there was a small raised stage upon which there stood a rather worse-for-wear piano. On one wall there was a large, highly polished Honour Roll with gold lettering, complete with scrollwork and painted flags, naming those from the area who had given their lives in the two world wars, and overall from a position high above the entry doorway looked down a benign portrait of the Queen. The floor space was becoming more and more congested as groups came in calling greetings and

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stopping to speak to friends and acquaintances, and the children congregated in laughing, whispering huddles. There were chairs and benches lining the walls, and it was to these that Rafe finally managed to usher Kim after having been greeted and stopped at least a dozen times in their effort to cross the floor area. Kim's gaze took in the whole scene, noticing Rick talking to a young brunette in a coral-tinted dress who appeared to be hanging on his every word as if it were a revelation, and the twins together with some four or five other young men of their own age who were obviously casting their lively eyes over the female members of the assembly. Feeling safe and secure with Rafe's presence close beside her, Kim let her eyes wander on, seeing the members of the band now move on to the stage and begin tuning their instruments, until she was rudely brought back to the realisation that Rafe had only undertaken to be her escort at Rose's request and not from choice, when a young girl in a pretty dress of blue and white georgette came across and asked to be introduced. Rafe having acceded to her request, Kim found herself studying the face of Beth Turner with interest. This was the girl Rick had mentioned. She estimated Beth's age to be around her own, perhaps a little younger. Her face was attractive through animation rather than prettiness, although she had beautiful long, silky light brown hair which brushed her shoulders jauntily. Her eyes were a warm hazel, but her mouth was her best feature, with its curving corners and implicit expressions. At the moment her mouth was smiling at Kim with engaging candour as, with her arm tucked confidently around Rafe's, she asked: ' And how do you like living way up here, Kim? A bit different from the city, isn't it?' Kim answered her questions in a friendly tone, including those that Beth made regarding what she did for a living, whereabouts she had lived in Sydney and why she had decided to come north to live—although she could feel her cheeks grow warm as she encountered Rafe's laconic twist of the lips when she replied to the last one. Now the hall was full of chatter and laughter and it took a little time for the multitude to realise that the band had begun playing in earnest, but it wasn't long before the groups that were only standing to talk moved away from the dance area and allowed the more energetic of their number to begin the dancing. In a matter of moments the floor was once again full, this time with couples enjoying the first dance of the evening, but Kim now felt embarrassed, sure that Rafe would prefer to be dancing with Beth rather than sitting on the sidelines, and it was with relief that she saw Rose threading her way between the dancers in their direction. No sooner had she said her ' Helios,' and apologised for not being able to call for Kim than Beth jumped to her feet, pulling at Rafe's hand. ' Come on, Rafe. Come and dance with me,' she exhorted. With an indulgent smile at Beth's request Rafe excused himself to the other two girls—confirming Kim's previous thoughts --and followed Beth into the moving throng. Rose's eyes followed them fondly. 'She's mad about him—always has been,' she murmured quietly to Kim. 'Ever since she was in school it's been the same.' Kim gave the smile that was expected of her and forced herself to ask evenly: ' And does Rafe feel the same way about her? Or is it all one-sided?' She found she was holding her breath waiting for a reply, but Rose only shrugged her shoulders and laughed. ' Your guess is as good as mine. Rafe's always been a cool one when it comes to girl-friends. I

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do know he's been seeing quite a lot of her lately, but then I also know he's been seeing one or two others as well.' She smiled again. ' He'll be a hard one for any girl to tic down. In fact, I'm beginning to think he's a confirmed bachelor.' Her next words were wry. 'That's the trouble with good-looking men. They manage to get what they want from women without having to resort to marriage. Dreadful, isn't it? Although I think I blame our own sex for that. If we didn't all fall over ourselves for some attention directly a handsome male appears on the horizon, then they'd have to conform with the rest of us, wouldn't they?' Kim couldn't refute this argument, but with her feelings as confused as they were over Rafe O'Sullivan, it cost her quite some effort to laughingly agree. Especially since she was mentally pushing the points home. He's a confirmed bachelor! He doesn't have to resort to marriage! Forget him, Kim Forsythe! He's trouble with a capital T! What was it that they used to say in days gone by? Oh, yes... gird your loins.' She only just saved herself from laughing out loud. The expression might have gone out of date, but maybe the sentiment hadn't. Something of the old tried and true recipes, perhaps? Suddenly Rose raised a hand and beckoned to a tall, red-headed man talking to a couple Kim knew she had been introduced to but wasn't sure whether they were the Slaters or the Maxwells. With a nod of his head the man finished what he was saying and approached the two seated on the bench with a friendly grin. Rose explained. 'Kim, I'd like you to meet my husband, Hugh. Kim Forsythe,' she told her husband. Hugh shook Kim's hand warmly, giving her a welcoming smile, while she immediately perceived the likeness that everyone apparently had commented upon when seeing his son, Jason. There was the same auburn hair, the same blue eyes and fair skin with freckles, but most of all there was the same sincerity of expression. It said as plainly as words that here was a man who was solid and dependable—one to rely on in a crisis. Again followed the inevitable questions regarding how she liked country life compared to the city, and Kim only had time to give a short answer before they were joined by a petite young girl, her long blonde hair tied back into a pony-tail with a chiffon scarf, and wearing a cool aqua linen shift. She had a honey-toned creamy skin and her eyes were a deep blue, surrounded by long dark lashes. Her happy smile embraced all three of them. 'Hi, everybody! It's a great turn-out tonight, isn't it?' Seemingly she didn't really expect anyone to answer because she immediately went on, looking at Kim, ' I know who you are— you're Kim. I've heard a lot about you. And in case you hadn't guessed, I'm Mona.' She laughed and indicated her blonde hair. ' The odd one out in the O'Sullivan family!' Kim acknowledged her quaint introduction with a smile and wondered just what, and from whom, Mona had received her information. She only hoped that Rafe hadn't regaled them all with the full facts regarding her ignorance of all things rural! The band was taking a breather and soon the little group was joined by the four male members of the family. Rafe—minus Beth Turner, Kim noticed with a funny little spurt of pleasure.. She shook herself mentally for allowing such petty feelings to penetrate her guard and strove to keep a cool and reserved exterior in the face of Rafe's overpowering virility. This was somewhat hard to do in the light of theconversation that followed—it was very difficult to appear cool and calm when laughing. Ruy set the ball rolling with his, ' And what do you think of our country dances, Kim?'

' Well..' Give her a chance. you hadn't. they're always like this—at home too.' here a sly grin at his older brother. They're shocking teases. I—I'd . ' I can remember when I first started going out with Hugh—even if I hadn't been in love with him I think I might have married him just to get away from them.' 'Hey. laughing. Did he?' to Kim. more than anyone.' protested a smiling Ruy while catching Rose's hand and drawing her to her feet. ' Well. Mona enlightened her with glee. Just make certain they never get a chance to pick on you. ' I'd already made arrangements with her for the first dance a few days ago. ' Well. ' Don't mind them. ' No. and I bet. Rick.' ' Poor Ruy—but he can certainly ride a horse. ' Oh.' 'There.' This was more of an accomplishment in Kim's eyes. what did I tell you?' grinned Rick with no little satisfaction. Rose leant towards her to whisper out of the side of her mouth.' burst in Mona with a delighted grin. 'Look who's talking! You sure cut me out once I said I was going over to see Linda Rushton. because they will if they can when they know you better. for he was laughing back at Rick.Generated by ABC Amber LIT Converter. and I wasn't going to be cut out by this young squib here. just what sort of punishment Ruy can dish out to your toes.processtext.. I don't think so.' Rose's expression was one of mock alarm. She knows. She .com/abclit.' was the rushed retort.' For that. but no help was forthcoming there.html Before she had time to reply Rick had broken in. you can come and have the next dance with me. His ' young squib' was at least six feet tall with a build that couldn't by any stretch of the imagination be called slight. 'Johnny Ridley? Adam Spencer? Terry Killian?' Rick suggested. Ruy! She's only been here for five minutes. ' because Linda only asked me yesterday if you were coming to the dance. Kim looked from one to the other.' She laughed evocatively and said in a normal tone. 'No. you're casting aspersions on our saintly characters.' At this there was a gasp from Raoul. so you couldn't have!' Rick gave in with good grace and a rueful grin. ' Rafe didn't go out of his way to introduce Kim to any of the eligible bachelors around here. ' Ruy's a terrible dancer. 'Trust Rafe to try and commandeer all the best looking females'.. http://www. None of the names ring a bell.' He gave Raoul a playful thump in the ribs. I'm not sure . But her pleas went unheeded as Ruy drew her remorselessly on to the dance floor as the music began again. it's a case of " be quick or be left" at these do's. wondering why Ruy should have decided upon a dance as a punishment.' She looked to Rafe for guidance. Kim shook her head. no.. He looked sheepish. You couldn't get there fast enough!' Now it was Rick's turn to be on the receiving end. Kim couldn't contain her laughter. anything but that!' she cried.' ' Yes? You'd what?' came Rafe's deep voice. He's got two left feet and Rose has just about given up ever being able to teach him.

' Don't let them worry you. given the chance. I know that. I enjoyed listening to them. then?' she demanded. ' that the last comment wasn't too wide of the mark.' ' Hmm. ' Yes. But I couldn't help thinking. his eyes twinkling.' A deep sound of laughter issued from Rafe's throat. 'Enjoying myself. No one appeared to be paying them any undue attention. lowering his head until their cheeks touched.' In the lull that followed Rafe held out a hand to Kim. Rafe spoke first. I wasn't teasing.' ' Oh. ' Come and dance with me.Generated by ABC Amber LIT Converter. and the more she tried to fight it the more unconquerable it became. while his hand on her back began to move caressingly down her spine. Kim could feel Rafe's undeniable attraction assailing her senses once more. you'd be the worst of them. only managing to drag her head away from his to glance round quickly to see if they were being observed. little cat?' he murmured lazily. feeling the warmth of a strong hand against her back through the thin material of her dress.' They don't allow horses in here. Rafe.' came the bland reply with a hint of a smile. Kim resisted the almost uncontrollable impulse to lean against that broad chest and twisted in his arms ineffectively. 'He's the worst if he gets the chance. ' Stop teasing me!' ' Oh. 'And is this rubbing your back the wrong way. ' You're a beast.html could dance. 'Look who's talking!' followed by. ' What would you call it. She would have to keep her brain cool to compensate for the physical magnetism. In his arms. Rafe! I'll never dance with you again. 'I like that!' and.' .processtext. but never in a million years would she be able to ride a horse like Ruy and his brothers could.' she giggled. It's all in fun. Kim's face flamed. Mona didn't see it that way. or you'll go round the bend before the evening's half over listening to this lot back-chatting each other.' she ordered through taut lips.' Moving on to the floor at Rafe's side.' before they danced out of hearing.' she glanced up at last through the thickness of her lashes. but that's not much good to him on the dance floor. ' Stop it. 'And what makes you come to that conclusion. Kim heard a chorus of. http://www. his head so close to her own.' ' And what was that?' ' That. It was as though she had lost complete control of her emotions and she kept her head lowered in order to make some sort of effort at rejection. ' Because I know from personal experience that you like rubbing people's backs the wrong way. Is that so?' He pulled her closer into his arms.' And he brushed a feather-light kiss across the top of her forehead. they don't mean anything by their ragging. I wonder?' His look was faintly more from his words than his action.

Hugh's got all their drinks in a cooler in the boot of our car. her face averted. Kim. Where had that ladylike restraint that her mother had drummed into her gone? For the rest of the dance Kim held herself rigidly in her partner's arms.' ' I wouldn't say that.' Do you know where they are?' Rose tilted her head in the direction of the darkened parking area outside the building.' came Rick's voice from the background with a laugh. once again. Recognising the sound of Hugh's voice. ' Rose asked me if I'd come and get you and Rafe. a knowledgeable smile on her lips. He didn't come near her again. followed by gales of unrestrained laughter from the attentive audience.' she said. she didn't have time to dwell on her problems with Rafe. Rick had introduced her to the three young men he had mentioned and between them. ' Probably out there. Kim? Supper not ready yet.html 'That's up to me. to set up more trestles in the kitchen. and see if you can find Hugh and Rafe. sandwiches displayed appetisingly and cups laid out waiting for the tea to be poured into them. She wouldn't like to have walked up unannounced to a party of complete strangers.processtext. together with Hugh. didn't throw any water on the fires of Kim's temper.' he drawled slowly. ' No. but it was also extremely dark. We're never going to fit everything on to the ones already erected. I'll see if I can round them up. That he was right. as well as the other male members of the O'Sullivan family. if I know them. rather it had the opposite effect in making her angrier than ever. ' Be a love.' Kim nodded compliance and tried to look through the doorway into the hall.' laughed Kim.Generated by ABC Amber LIT Converter. isn't it? I might not ask you again. 'There's more food in there than we know what to do with. but gradually as tins were opened. Kim had just finished adding another plate of delicious-looking cream roll to the already groaning trestles when Rose caught at her arm. is it?' Kim shook her head. or a couple of the boys. or a couple of the others. she approached the gathering a little more confidently. to come and set up two more trestles.' She smiled at the general gathering. It was going on for eleven o'clock before a halt was called for supper and most of the women present adjourned to the kitchen to begin the preparations. When would she learn to keep a tight rein on her tongue? All too often it ran away with her and left her in an extremely invidious position.' ' Okay. though she had espied him dancing with Rose and Mona. not yet. Hugh was the first to see her coming and called out: ' What's up. obviously not perturbed in the slightest by her remarks. although she was well aware that Rafe had noticed her aloof withdrawal. but mostly it seemed to be Beth Turner in his arms when they passed in the crowd—a Beth who was patently happy to have him almost exclusively to herself as she snuggled closer to that warm body in the manner of a small kitten having found the cosiest niche in the sun. http://www. although he did slacken his hold a little. cakes sliced and set out on plates on the now cloth-covered trestles. a neatness became visible that hadn't been there for the last quarter of an hour. Outside it was a pleasure to drink in deep breaths of cool night air after the confines of the crowded hall. and Kim picked her way carefully towards the muted sound of men's voices coming from the far end of the car park. For a time Kim wondered how on earth order could be regained from the chaos that enveloped the kitchen area. 'We certainly know where .com/abclit. For the rest of the evening until supper Kim didn't lack for partners.

' chorused the twins in unison. sweetheart? Still as sure of yourself?' Determined not to let him see just how affected she was. The other groups she had passed on her way down to the car had now returned to the throng inside. http://www. and she knew it immediately that glint appeared in his piercing green eyes.' He glanced at the can of beer in Rafe's hand. I'll give Hugh a hand.' she declared stoutly. but all that she succeeded in doing was to redden the skin of her wrist and afford him some entertainment.' he offered. challenging. .processtext. ' I'm sure there are plenty of others more than anxious to do that. ' You stay and finish your drink. ' So what now. ' you can stay and keep me company. we might be able to get a head start on the cats if we give a helping hand. even if only by look. With a short laugh he pulled her hard against him. that's right. taking gulped breaths in an effort to steady her breathing.' He took a long draught from the can. and trying again to extract her wrist from his ringers. ' Hardly. ' Especially since the place is full of people. I said once before that maybe we should put it to the test some time. giving him the haughtiest look she could manage.' It was a statement rather than a question in that soft voice.html to put it. You're the girl who can take care of herself in any circumstances. She could feel her heart thumping erratically against her ribs.' Rafe told her impassively. pearly with while Raoul added: ' You never know. With a final drink. ' Oh yes. She should have known better than to attempt to defy Rafe. her head high.' Her tone was cool. ' I wouldn't exactly say that. chattering people. but he was far too alert and had caught hold of it before it could find a target.' she retorted scornfully. ' Me too.' Why? Scared?' he gibed.' Rafe's glance encompassed the whole of the parking area before coming back to rest on her wide-eyed face. What now? There's plenty of willing help inside. However. ' And you're not. Rafe tossed the can into an empty carton in the car and brushed the back of a tanned hand across his mouth. Partly from fear. I'm not frightened of you. trying surreptitiously to ease her wrist free from his grasp. imprisoning her arms to her sides. Kim eyed him warily. ' Of course. she and Rafe were alone in the darkness of the deserted car park. then tipping her head back and immobilising it with a forceful hand at the nape of her neck. Rafe. although the hall was full of laughing. before she had taken a step a firm hand caught her around one wrist. His eyes taunted mercilessly.' The gleaming look of devil-may-care amusement that swept his face had Kim's nervous system doing somersaults and she sought frantically now to prise his grip from her arm.' A quick look over her shoulder convinced her that. Kim held her head even higher.' The four of them began making their way up towards the hall and after a moment's hesitation Kim turned to follow them. she swung her free hand in an arc towards his head. and partly from temper.Generated by ABC Amber LIT Converter.

proceeded to .processtext. his eyes never leaving hers until his dark head lowered and his shapely mouth claimed hers determinedly. moving persuasively until. ' Uh-uh. You couldn't if—if . If you don't get out of my reach right now I'll have you in that bed before you know what's happening!' ' Oh!' she gasped.' ' Oh. and bit at her lip. 'You'd better get going while you still can. His lips became more passionately possessive as they moved across the smooth. sweet-smelling skin of her face. with a soft sigh of submission. Much to her relief her reappearance went unnoticed and she slipped quietly into the group of women still taking plates and dishes across to the new trestles. little one.. yes. and if you stand here any longer. ' I w-wouldn't let you. Rafe. smoothly quelling her feverish battle for freedom. She fled to the doorway of the hall where the light was spilling out into the night like a welcoming beacon. to her disgust. I could. Right now!' The expression that came over Rafe's face had her stepping backwards rapidly.' she stammered.html His mouth curved in a slow.' she ordered in a voice that. http://www. Now enormous teapots were being filled and . Or weren't these the sort of circumstances you had in mind?' Kim pulled futilely away from him. Kim's lips parted willingly and she stopped straining away from him. and let me go. ' After your response just now. deliberately. sounded weak and unsteady.Generated by ABC Amber LIT Converter. out of arm's reach.slide of its own volition around his back where she could feel his warm flesh through the silk of his shirt. her body straining to avoid the contact that she knew from previous experience could produce such disastrous effects upon her senses. the lean. ' before I succumb to the temptation to drive you home and finish making love to you in the manner I'd like to. One of her hands made a movement in mid-air as if seeking a lifeline.' A gentle finger traced the outline of her soft mouth. allowing him to curve her even closer into his rugged body and responding with a desire she had never even guessed lay dormant within her. be told. sweetheart. His eyes were dark and completely serious for once as they ranged over the slightly languorous-looking face holding his gaze. His hand left her neck and slid lovingly along the side of her jaw. ' I like you just where you fascinating smile. With a sharp pang of regret she felt him raise his head at last and the warmth of his arms fell away from her to leave them both breathing deeply as they faced one another in the pale light of the moon. throat and shoulder before claiming her mouth once more until she yielded completely. ' I—I might have something to—to say about that.' he advised in a deeply husky tone. I'm glad you said " might have". And you've been asking for this for a long time.' He drew her closer to his muscular chest. ' You don't seem to be doing very well at the moment.' he shook his head slowly.. ' Sweetheart. I'll show you. ' Stop baiting me.' Kim blushed fierily at his remarks. Kim. sweetheart. Get going. but only encountered the taut muscles of his upper arm and. revelling in the feel of his hands as they caressed her and his lips that demanded her surrender. lingering for a moment. strong fingers more gentle than Kim would have believed possible. but felt she had something to add in the matter too.

' Did you two have one of those?' Two heads nodded together and all three of them laughed. cream-covered morsel which disappeared in a couple of minutes. precariously balancing an overflowing plate in one hand and a brimming cup in the other.' came Mona's unrepentant reply. Stop embarrassing Kim. ' Which is more than can be said for me. The two sisters went into peals of laughter. what do we need them for?' ' So the girls next door can marry them and take them off your hands?' suggested a masculine voice. because I haven't been able to cook a thing decently on that monstrosity of mine. Somebody called out. you can have your choice. that makes two of us. all she could manage was. thanks very much.' said Rose.' perhaps? Out loud. it's a pity they're taking so long about it with mine.processtext. 'No. Her attention turned to Kim. sticky.. ' He says mine are made of lead. and I always make a beeline for her cakes.' she accused Hugh with a grin. so she said lightly: ' Well. 'Sure did. How about you taking one of them off my hands?' Her grin came into play again. 'you're old enough to know better than that. 'You took my only sister away and left me with the four of them. ' It hasn't been used for ages. I can't use that as an excuse because Rafe checked it out for me. that was fabulous!' She peered over at their plates. helping herself to a large. 'Come on.. ' . ' I don't mind which one. I see you two got out quick smart. 'In that case. ' Umm.' she proposed liberally. Seating herself next to them.' was Rose's exasperated' She grinned. has it.’ 'It was only a thought. An arm touched Kim around the waist and she jumped nervously. She's a wizard at the stove. I've got an idea. and Raoul reckons I shouldn't be allowed within twenty feet of a kitchen! Brothers! I ask you. Kim wasn't quite sure what she was supposed to say in answer to that suggestion. ' Well.' ' For goodness' sake.' she owned with a grin. Kim. we'll grab a couple of cups of tea and a plateful of goodies each and take them back to the hall. I—er—I'm.' Mona offered generously. Feeling colour mounting her cheeks. There's more room in there. Mona. 'Jennie McDonald made them. I'm a lousy cook. You're the girl next door now.Generated by ABC Amber LIT Converter.' ' Maybe it's not working properly.' No sooner had they taken their seats and began eating than they were joined by Mona. ' Supper's ready!' and everyone began helping themselves. http://www. she put down her load and waved a hand in front of her face. Something like. Rose?' Kim shook her head ruefully.html spaced at intervals among the piles of food. Kim felt it would be tactless in the extreme if she mentioned that Raoul had already informed her of this fact. He reckons I've just got a heavy hand.' retorted Mona with feeling. and they turned to find Hugh standing beside them. but she followed it with a smile and a gracious. but on turning her head she found Rose smiling at her. 'I'll have Rafe. 'Just like Rafe! Complimentary to the last.' Mona pulled a face.' said Rose.' she explained for Kim's benefit. while Mona added. accompanied by a frown at her younger sister. 'Say. 'Phew! It's hot in there with that crowd.

His eyes were a faded blue but twinkled disarmingly. She liked Adam. either Tuesday or Wednesday. being somewhere in his early thirties. it was only a short time before the room was as clean and sparkling as it had been before the supper began. With so many helpers to do the washing and drying up.html I'm sorry. my finances won't hold out for long if I don't. ' Well. I know I'd kill one of my girl friends if they ever did that to me. Kim was glad when Rose changed the subject completely by asking her husband. after a slight pause.' She stood up. I sometimes wonder why we bother to dignify them by calling them dances—conferences would be more apt. ' What will you be doing? Getting a job in town?' 'I hope so. then.' she replied with a laugh. his brows and lashes were a light brown. as well as the clearing away.Generated by ABC Amber LIT Converter. ' No. She guessed he would have been one of Rafe's contemporaries. but I bought the paper this morning and had a look through the Positions Vacant column. Kim? Just for a couple of weeks. 'And how long are you up here for.' 'If you like receptionist-cum-secretarial work. were deep in some engrossing conversation. http://www.' sighed Rose. I've come to stay. Another dance was already in progress when they re-entered the hall and within a few seconds Adam Spencer had claimed Kim as his partner. ' Go and talk some more business.processtext. believe it or not. The kitchen had begun to empty of people and Kim was amazed to see that there was very little in the way of food left on the tables. He was tall and fair-haired but had the tanned skin common to all those who lived in country areas. grinned wryly and said over her shoulder to Hugh. 'I know. He'll be coming out to start on it some time next week. his eyes glowing as he surveyed the attractive picture his wife made. A horde of locusts couldn't have done more justice to it. while we get on with this. on holiday?' He broke in on her appraisal. ' And where did you get to after you'd set up the extra tables?' ' Rafe and I were talking to Jack Forbes about the new dam. At the rate I was spending today.' Hugh reminded her gently.' ' Have you got anything lined up yet?' Kim shook her head.' ' But the dam is important.' The apology then. I know where there's a good position waiting. He was wearing a pair of navy blue pants topped by a light blue knitted shirt. Kim. I shouldn't have said it. 'Not yet. ' That's great. I know.' Rose's eyebrows rose expressively. While they whirled around the floor she surveyed him unobtrusively. by the concentrated looks on their faces. love. . There were a couple of vacancies for secretaries that I thought I might apply for on Monday. 'I should have known! You men always use these get-togethers as a chance to discuss business.' He was enthusiastic. I'm thinking. I expect we girls had better get started on clearing away all this mess.' Adam told her.' Hugh laughed and made his way over to a group of men clustered in the entry who.

Miss Forsythe.. The fact that.' he joked. but she felt sure they wouldn't mind dropping her off. Apparently this aspect of the matter didn't bother him. actually. very much so. as Rafe had brought her. She didn't intend to become a member of the ' one or two others' that Rose had spoken of. saying that Rose and Hugh expected her to go with them.processtext. laughing people began heading for home.' ' And what's the name of the place? I might look them up if the other posts have been filled before I get there. he had been fully engaged with other partners. 'J. but. he might also be reasonably expecting to take her home she pushed resolutely to the back of her mind. then gave Kim a sheepish glance. http://www. She was only just beginning to realise what a difference there was on the expense side when comparing flatting to actually owning a residence. After tumbling gratefully into her bed earlier that morning.. This wasn't quite true. He hadn't come near her again. He started the business off. You know what I mean?' She tilted her head questioningly to one side. but he's what you might call semi-retired now and spends most of his time on the family property up here at Diamond Downs. ' Spencer?' Kim laughed and gave him a close look. she had thought that the excitement over the prospect of a job. . ' Your family?' ' Umm. Adam shrugged wide shoulders. The remainder of the evening sped by on wings for her and it was the early hours of the morning before the band finally called a halt and happy.' he told her diffidently.' he let the words trail away invitingly. ' I am. but she had refused.html ' What sort of office is it?' 'A stock and station agent. I hire and fire all the staff these days. 'I wouldn't like people to think I only got the job because I happened to meet you. She wasn't interested in any casual love affairs! As it was. ' Well. so. and when their glances had happened to meet she had held her head high and her gaze aloof. friendly people who were willing to welcome her into their midst like a long-lost relative. Rose and Hugh had expected to take her home with them.. The few times she had seen him since the supper break. A. Adam had asked if he might drive her. together with the disquieting memories of Rafe's kisses.' Adam hesitated for a while. and after the relaxed. to whom Rafe had deigned to pay a little attention.. It's interesting work. ' How about ten o'clock on Monday? That suit you?' Her delighted smile was answer enough for Adam and Kim's relief was very real at the thought of having some money coming in once more.' Now Kim hesitated before committing herself. if you're interested . My father. short journey through the night she was well able to say that she had thoroughly enjoyed her evening—mentally blocking out that interlude with Rafe in the car park—and had met a host of warm. The sun had been long over the horizon before Kim awoke the next day.Generated by ABC Amber LIT Converter. Spencer & Co. if you like that kind of thing.. for which she kept telling herself she was very thankful. but no sooner had her head touched the pillow than all such thoughts vanished from her mind and she had slept deeply and—now looking at her bedside clock—for too long. would have precluded sleep for a long time. if you'd prefer it. I suppose you can bring me in your references and I can check them thoroughly to make sure I'm getting what I'm paying

the water pipes didn't see it that way. and she frowned. spluttering gurgle and then absolute silence. she wouldn't be surprised if he refused point-blank to give her any more help anyway. already strained into its right container. Besides. followed by a choked. but with her luck she would probably get Rafe on the line. after the warmth of the sun beating into her skin. She didn'i understand how they could be—but the tanks were empty all the same! What was she supposed to do now—wait until it rained again? An idea came to her when she was clambering down from the stands as she caught the glint of sunlight reflected from the water in the creek between the trees. surely she couldn't have used that much water in so short a time? Some ten minutes later. after her walking out on him without any explanation whatsoever. On the sandy edge she kicked off her thongs and dabbled her feet in the water. She could ring Rick and ask him to come and have a look.processtext. after having scrambled onto the tank stands and peered into the gloomy depths of the two tanks. and it was signed.html Now the golden rays were bursting through the bedroom curtains. and she didn't feel up to asking favours of him after last night. Perhaps she could still have her bath after all? That was one thing to be said for the isolation of her position—there was no chance of being overlooked! Armed with soap and a towel. spilling across the end of her bed in beckoning brilliance. Kim heaved a despondent sigh. Unfortunately. She scratched her head with one finger perplexedly. ' What were you up to last night that made you sleep in so late? I thought you went home with Rose and Hugh? I fed the hens. See you later. she rapidly stripped off her clothes and plunged to find that. To her heated body the creek felt like ice! She swam back to shore. whimpering Bounty into the kitchen where he licked her bare legs warmly before ploughing into the large bowl of milk she'd placed on the floor for him. she hurried down to the shining waters of the creek.' the note read. but she'd have words to say to Rick O'Sullivan when next they met. she came to a sudden halt. On the lid rested a piece of paper. the water felt extremely cold. She came up shuddering. All that emerged from the taps when Kim turned them on was a first rush of dirty brown water. but still nothing issued forth. After reading through it Kim began to laugh. her teeth chattering. and by the time she had finished soaping herself her flesh had cooled down sufficiently so that the water now felt very pleasant as it swirled silkily around her skin. Cheeky wretch! She put the milk away and let a lonely. plus a pile of clean clothes. helped herself to the soap. ' Rick. With a wry grin she mused that she'd .Generated by ABC Amber LIT Converter. put a quick brush through her hair and thrust her feet into rubber thongs. Then she decided upon a nice cool bath to freshen herself up before enjoying a leisurely breakfast and reading yesterday's newspaper from front to back. A complacent shrug of the shoulders dismissed that minor obstacle and with a quick look in all directions to satisfy herself that no one was within sight. There in the middle of the table stood her milk. But it had only rained the other day. http://www. Now what was wrong? She tried the taps again. Speeding through the kitchen on her way to milk Clover. She found the taps in the kitchen offered the same lack of co-operation when she tried them in desperation before the idea burst into her brain like a thunderbolt! Of course! She wasn't on town water—the tanks must have run dry! She frowned again.' Bless him for having milked Clover and looked to the hens. Hastily she threw back the bedclothes and grabbed the first pair of shorts and top that came to hand.

' And he slid) down on to the bank to begin pulling at one dusty stock-boot. hat pushed to the back of his head. 'Would you please leave so that I can get out and get dressed?' ' Leave?' He sounded dismayed. she brought her hand across the top of the water. I always think it's more fun to have someone to swim with. with a desire to feel the sun warm on her head and shoulders again. It wasn't hospitable and it wasn't friendly.' Now that's one hell of a greeting. With one hand resting lightly on his hip he looked lazily down on her. her temper rising with each passing second. Kim knew her face just had to be scarlet and only hoped and prayed that the water in the middle of the creek where she was was deep enough and dark enough to cloud her from Rafe's view. Rafe O'Sullivan!' she shouted agitatedly. ' You just stay right where you are. 'Don't you dare. quickly sending a shower of spray in Rafe's direction that set Jamie to dancing nervously but. With a sigh of satisfaction she sank beneath the surface to rinse off the soap and watched as the bubbles bounced and frothed their way downstream.' Don't let me stop you. there'd be no reason for me not to join you. It was cool in the shade of the large willow tree and.processtext. With a gasp that nearly choked her when she took in a mouthful of water with it. you thought wrong! I don't want any company! I don't want any fun! And I don't want an audience either!' she stated categorically. taunting voice. Even the brief bikinis that she normally wore couldn't compare to this as her body slid through the water smoothly. ' Well. All she wanted was for Rafe to go away! He replied with a lazy grin. ' Now would you please let me get out?' Rafe waved a negligent hand towards the bank. Are you always so touchy after a late night?' One eyebrow rose innocently above wicked green eyes. for she knew only too well from her own vision that it was clear right to the bottom nearer the shore. 'And this is one hell of a way to be making any missing Rafe completely. but Rafe rose lithely to his feet. showing gleaming white teeth. but right at the moment she couldn't have cared less. Now she was finding it a very refreshing and relaxing experience. http://www." I was just thinking how pleasant it would be to join you. I'll just sit here quietly enjoying the scenery. would there?' he pointed out in an amused. Jamie could do with the rest' ' I'll bet!' muttered Kim beneath her breath.html heard a lot about skinny-dipping but had never been game enough to try it before. to her chagrin. but didn't look it. swung into the saddle and gathered in the reins. ' I shouldn't do that if I were you.Generated by ABC Amber LIT Converter. She put back her arm to repeat the process. If I was wet enough. A sense of exploration prompted her to swim to the other side and she revelled in the feeling of complete freedom that swimming without the encumbrance of a costume provided. gracefully and so easily. laughing. ' What do you want?' she snapped impatiently. She'd show Mr O'Sullivan! Turning sideways. she thrust herself out from the shadows and into the middle of the stream—only to stare aghast at the figure leaning indolently against the trunk of a tree. before putting his heels to Jamie's gleaming .' His mouth broke into a wide smile. and Jamie standing quietly close.' Kim snapped back with unladylike haste. Kim glanced round frantically as if she expected him to materialise beside her at any moment. a half-burned cigarette between his fingers.' 'But I thought you might like company.

If he wanted it casual. opened the kitchen door and made a small. ' Back to square one. Kim?' The curving mouth tilted sardonically.' Couldn't it just be because I felt like it? That it was such a glorious day that I wanted to sample the pleasures of skinny-dipping?' ' It could have been.Generated by ABC Amber LIT Converter. was it?' For the moment she was tempted to tell him an outright lie. Even if she managed to get Rick or one of the twins to help fill the tanks. staying where she was until the last sounds of creaking leather and crackling underbrush had died away. She towelled her hair as best she could and wished she'd thought to bring a comb with her.processtext. ' Only this morning. She was damned if she'd let him think those kisses had meant any more to her than they had to him. Rafe would be sure to find out about it and then the repercussions would really resound. With a mumbled excuse. ' And all because of a few kisses. she put a hasty comb through her hair. With a last pat to keep her hair in place she returned to the kitchen and went straight to the dresser where she fumbled a cigarette out of a packet and put a light to it. Kim eyed them warily as man and horse disappeared amongst the and a hand to her turban. then casual he could have it! .' She pulled her chin angrily away from his hand. As she neared the back of the house she could see no sign of Rafe and. ' Oh. brushing back the slightly curly hair from his forehead in an exasperated gesture. pleased to see that it started curling into place immediately. not knowing whether she was pleased or disappointed at this discovery.' she confessed almost inaudibly.html hide. She wasn't sure that she trusted him! When the silence became complete she hurried for the shore where she dried herself cursorily before donning a pair of green shorts and a green and white striped V-neck nylon top and pushing on her thongs. eh. Feeling a little more sure of herself now.' of surprise when she saw him sitting astride one of her chairs—obviously waiting for her. she turned and leant back comfortably on the small cupboard and faced the man on the other side of the table.' he admitted. but his eyes were too clear and penetrating for that and she'd be bound to give herself away by colouring furiously. She dragged her gaze from his and concentrated on the view of the green hills visible through the window.' 'Are you going to explain why? Or am I supposed to guess?' ' Does there have to be an explanation?' She waved an arm to indicate the sun streaming through the kitchen window. She hadn't heard Rafe move and jumped nervously when a hand touched her chin and tipped her head towards him. Rafe's eyes held her glance intently while he queried: ' How long have you been bathing outdoors?' Kim took a deep draw on her cigarette before answering nonchalantly. Kim side-stepped around him and raced into her bedroom. Dropping the towel on to her dressing table. http://www. Instead she wound the towel turban-wise round her head and collected the rest of her clothing. ' No. ' But it wasn't. and dashed a bright lipstick over her lips.

html ' Don't be ridiculous. it was becoming increasingly clear that she couldn't afford to antagonise Rafe too far. her life on her inheritance could become distinctly unsatisfactory. In an effort to hold his temper in check. She had no doubts that. I'm beginning to think that maybe I should have let you buy the place after all.' Kim turned her face to his enquiringly. 'That's better. and draping an arm casually along her shoulders pulled her with him towards the door. ' My God!' he exclaimed in wonderment. ' You know as well as I do that your water tanks are empty and that was the reason for the sudden desire for bathing in the creek.processtext. He wanted to be a free agent and so did she. 'Then why scuttle home with Rose and Hugh last night like a petrified rabbit seeking safety in its burrow. 'And kindly stop telling me what I mean before the idea ever crosses my mind. http://www. decided Kim. and the lack of communication this morning?' The lazy sarcasm was back in force.' It could have been icy anger that flashed into his eyes but it was gone so quickly that Kim couldn't be sure she'd seen it. if he so wished. don't you?' She shifted away from him uncomfortably and stubbed out her cigarette. ' I'm not that bad. there was no reason why that remark should annoy Rafe. ' Why should that bother me? It wasn't the first time I've been kissed. that she would indeed have been in a lot of trouble without Rafe's assistance. ' I know absolutely nothing about this sort of life. ' Show more of my ignorance. ' Stop feeling so sorry for They don't mix really well with the traffic.' Rafe grated out savagely. you really wouldn't want to deprive Rick of the privilege of telling all and sundry that we've got the best-looking girl in the district living next door. Besides. and. and if I'd stayed where I was I would have saved myself. ' I'm sorry. and ask for help in filling them?' Kim ignored his first questions and picked him up on the last one.' she said with a light sarcasm of her own. So why not admit it. ' when you apologise you really go the whole way.' . With her eyes downcast and her fingers twined together tightly she made her apology softly. would you? With your looks you're not likely to run out of willing helpers.' she scoffed indignantly. I guess I must be an awful pain in the neck. he could put an end to not only his own assistance but his brothers' as well. let's go see what we can do about replenishing that water supply of yours. ' Come on. Rafe. you mean. even if you don't know the front from the rear end of a cow!' An unwilling smile hovered at the corners of her mouth. If I feel like emphasising your ignorance I certainly won't be waiting for your invitation before I do so.' she protested. you know.' she glanced at him provokingly. don't you?' His grin was teasing. ' But how did I run out in the first place? It only rained three days ago. then why don't you? I'm in no position to stop you!' ' You would be the most infuriating female I've ever come across. his arms folded tightly across his chest. honey.' She hunched her shoulders dejectedly. having no one else in the area whom she knew well enough to turn to. and then.' He bent over and peered into her clouded blue eyes intently.Generated by ABC Amber LIT Converter. a whole lot of trouble. 'I doubt if it will be the last. and all of you. or you might find the consequences decidedly not to your liking!' It was a grudging admission that Kim made. Rafe. ' If you want to rub it in. Stop trying to cross me.' he approved of the lightening of her expression. Whether she liked it or not. ' It's just that it's been some years now since we had cows wandering down the Sydney streets.

This remark had the effect of a sharp barb in the region of the pit of her stomach.' That eyebrow rose mockingly again. saying he was expected at the Turners. And he would know that too! It didn't make sense! That evening she rang Patsy in Sydney—she needed to talk to someone who could look at the situation objectively. So he was still hopeful that she would sell! He still considered it was only a matter of time before it became one with the rest of the O'Sullivan holding.' She hesitated. ' I was pleased about it—I thought it meant that there was too much for it all to go into the tanks. From then on it was only a matter of time before the gutters were freed of their collection of leaves and sundry twigs and Rafe had the pump near the creek chugging away at full bore refilling the tanks. otherwise with the next fall of rain you'll have it overflowing and the ground at the back of the house will become a quagmire. . Patsy however. but it also had the effect of stiffening her resolve to take Rafe at face value only and not to let her emotions become too deeply involved. With the prospect of starting a new job next week she ignored the inroads into her dwindling finances that such a long-distance call would make. ' Mr O'Sullivan will probably let you in on the secret when he's good and ready.' he indicated the tank closest to the house. it wouldn't be very long before she decided she'd had enough of country life and return to the city post-haste.Generated by ABC Amber LIT ' about half full. she couldn't contain any longer the question that had been worrying at her. not because of the amount of rain falling. her thoughts elsewhere. if that was the case. Remember. if he withheld that. with an ignorance such as hers.' It was obvious Rafe found it hard to keep a straight face because she could feel him shaking with suppressed amusement against her side.' He shook his head in mock despair. But. As he was about to ride off. nodding his head in confirmation. Patsy also said that she hoped to be getting her holidays around Christmas and would come north to stay for a couple of weeks. which she refused to accept as jealousy.' which did nothing for Kim's peace of mind.' Kim expressed her thanks gratefully. saying. ' I've left that one. ' The gutters were probably running over because they were full of leaves. seeing that Kim didn't intend leaving. Kim watched his retreating figure abstractedly.html ' Was it running over the gutters?' ' Yes. only seemed to be able to make a joke of the whole thing. ' Just why did you come up this morning. She knew enough now to know that. I do have a vested interest in the property. Rafe?' ' Just keeping an eye on things. almost the whole way round. but when she asked if he would care to stay for lunch—that was the least she could do in repayment—he refused. why should he give her any aid? Surely. Another short step and he was on the roof. you might say. there would be no hope of her living on the property if there wasn't a capable man around. 'You're beautiful. It wasn't even that heavy a fall!' At the first stand he heaved himself to the top of the tank in a couple of agile bounds which had Kim's lip curling disgustedly when she remembered the ungraceful scrabblings which had been her attempt to do the same. She looked at him reproachfully and he couldn't avoid letting a smile escape.processtext. sweetheart—you really are. http://www. then admitted.

Spencer & Co. too late to start worrying about that now. Kim remembered his name as Bob Walters. and wondered why. Adam. http://www. ' I'd like that very much.' she replied with a smile that brought an answering look of pleasure to his features. As they turned to leave. to celebrate?' He waited tensely for her answer. Adam took hold of her arm and she faced him expectantly. if that's okay with you?' ' Yes. A wry smile touched her mouth. A. ' I'm looking forward to it. because he immediately came out of his office and. ' Excuse decided Kirn. and Adam must have been keeping a watch out for her. She noted that it was all a case of first names and was glad—she had found informal offices far easier to work in. that'll be fine. It did seem laughable. Bob—I'll be right with you. Patsy had thought of it as a good laugh.Generated by ABC Amber LIT Converter. That she could have been so innocent of what she was walking into? Oh.' Adam smiled again at Kim. almost as if he expected her to refuse. it hadn't been a very profitable conversation. thought Kim. ' See you tonight. after an admiring look at her attractive cream and bronze linen shift. Adam.processtext. ' Will you have dinner with me this evening. but I'll have to go. She was here. but you're wanted on the telephone. ushered her inside.html All in all. A Mr Jessop. the furniture the usual functional kind found in offices.' she said. well. Kim presented herself to the offices of J. ' I'm sorry.' he said reluctantly. ' About seven o'clock. Afterwards.' A young man came out of one of the offices and tapped Adam on the shoulder. Perhaps Patsy was right! Looking back now and seeing the confidence she'd had when she first started out. "and she was going to stay! CHAPTER VI At ten o'clock promptly on Monday morning. which were cool and spacious. The interview was only a formality and in no time at all Kim found herself readily accepting the position. Adam took her on a tour of the offices. then introduced her to the rest of the employees..' 'Thanks. Having got a job so easily I feel as if I have something to celebrate. when later that evening she had clambered into bed and lay v staring at the chipped and peeling paint on her bedroom ceiling. eh?' She nodded and watched him hurrying back into his office before walking down the steps and into the . in Lismore.

Adam arrived early. while her hair flickered and burned with a copper fire as it curled silkily around her ears and shoulders. cosy atmosphere. it turned to more personal matters. which. generously covered with whipped cream.' Kim's answer came promptly with a smile. She knew she would enjoy an evening spent in Adam's company— he was nice and easy to be with and uncomplicated in his manner.' she laughingly protested. flamboyantly patterned in gold.' Their dishes were collected by an attentive waiter and their cups filled with steaming. Adam grimaced dryly. They're on in Lismore on Thursday. dressed in a dark grey suit with a light coloured shirt and matching tie. then. and the candles set in miniature candelabra on the individual tables were all.html warm street. 'And it will give you an insight into the auctioneering side of the business. I haven't had all that much time to do anything except settle myself into the house. aromatic coffee before Adam spoke again. not yet.' He looked at her quizzically. over the last week.Generated by ABC Amber LIT of course. and his appreciative comments when Kim opened the door gave a decided boost to her morale. had received some very deflating pinpricks.' ' I expect it'll be a bit strange at first.' Adam declared airily. ' Oh.' ' We'll have to take you. For the first two courses of their meal their conversation was mainly centred around general topics. ' Have you been to the sales yet?' ' No. I never did ask you this morning when you'd like to start work. but I think you'll find we're an easy crowd to get along with and I'll help you all I can. ' Tomorrow! My bank account tells me the sooner the better. a glittering. the lashes lengthened and darkened a little with mascara. green and apricot. The decor was completed in tones of gold and flame. winking gold. ' How are you getting along with the O'Sullivans? I expect there's always one or the other of them up there giving you a hand. I think we can make an exception for once. Her eyes sparkled beneath the silver-blue shadow on her lids. with a touch of pristine white. ' You know.processtext. Wednesdays and Thursdays are our busiest times because of the cattle sales. ' Is it common knowledge that I'm in need of . http://www. You knew exactly where you were with him—not like some others she could mention! The more she spoke to him.' 'But that isn't what I'll be paid for doing. but over a delicious dessert of raspberry meringue tart. It will make it easier for you to see what's going on behind the scenes. She dressed with great care that evening and knew she was looking her best in a sheer caftan. which swung smoothly around her ankles when she moved. Her mouth was soft and inviting under its cover of matching apricot lipstick. as the name implied. The ' Golden Candle' restaurant was a blaze of light when they arrived and the hum of subdued voices gave it a warm.' Kim pouted reproachfully and wrinkled her nose at him. the more she liked him—he would be easy to work for.

Beth spoke gaily. I didn't mean it that so much assistance?' He laughed..' Hearsay is not admissible. until her gaze fixed on two figures standing by the doorway and she experienced a strange dropping sensation in her stomach. Kim. or I'll put you over my knee. Adam. but not her head! * One look at him and I knew exactly what type he was. and you couldn't find a better friend. she managed to smile politely.well. ' You don't have to warn me.' It was a comfort to Kim when the conversation veered to more impersonal subjects as Adam offered her a cigarette and they smoked cbmpanionably over their coffee. is otherwise occupied . but. violence. but as you can see. you two—enjoying yourselves?' This was followed by a telling glance at Rafe.!' A furrow creased Adam's forehead before he turned and saw Rafe and Beth walking towards them. as much to herself as to Adam. or amusement. I'm in no danger of losing my head over Rafe Her heart maybe. but thanks for the advice. She leant towards Adam and whispered out of the corner of her mouth: ' Talk of the devil.' she moved her shoulders irritably.' Beth went on to advise with a grin.' Adam laughed good-naturedly. didn't we. Rafe? Not after all his attentions to you at the dance. ' but as for the other—I think the twins are a little young for me. Rose had said much the same too. young lady. ' Watch out for him. Kim couldn't decide.Generated by ABC Amber LIT Converter. and partly from the fact that she couldn't see any of the O'Sullivans making a play for her! They all had other fish to fry! 'Well. He's got quite a reputation with the women and I reckon every single girl around the district has had a go at tying him down.' Kim laughed too—partly from relief that the extent of her ignorance hadn't yet spread over the whole area. no. however unnecessary. He reached out a hand across the table and caught one of her own in a warm clasp. her hands held in front of her face in the grand tradition of melodramatic silent movie heroines. ' I'm glad. I wouldn't like to think of you being hurt. I have the feeling after the dance last Friday. I meant. ' No. with their luck in having you move in next door.' he's a bit of a wolf. but failing to see any sign of it on Beth's face.' she told him honestly. and Rafe . Kim. ' We guessed Adam wouldn't be letting the grass grow under his feet.' Kim wondered whether she had caught the sound of a tiny streak of maliciousness in that remark. yet!' Beth put on an exaggerated expression of fear.' she ended decisively. He's not my type. when he rose to his feet and they exchanged greetings. .' Kim gave her head a shake. a half-smile touching her soft mouth. http://www. Rick.. he's still footloose and fancy free. Although I've been friends with Rafe for a good many years. ' we don't hit it off all that well. for all the world as if she were in an express elevator. they've all been very helpful. which had them all laughing. and stop maligning my character.' Adam appeared surprised at this latter revelation and she hastened to add: ' No doubt the fault is all mine. although Rafe's only answer was a quirk that tipped one corner of his mouth—whether from contempt.. though. there would always be one of them making a play for you. Rafe and I just don't see eye to eye on a lot of things. . ' Hello.' ' Goodness.

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'Come on, minx,' Rafe now adjured, tucking her arm through his, and with a mocking glance at Kim. ' Leave these two to their stargazing. I'm hungry.' ' Yes, take her away, Rafe,' concurred Adam, ' before she has Kim believing her defamation.' ' Oh, I wouldn't do that,' put in Kim in his defence, and received another sardonic look from Rafe's green eyes for her efforts before Beth broke in incorrigibly: ' You should believe me—it's all true,' and chuckled when Adam raised a hand in assumed anger to her. Gauging that she had gone as far as she reasonably could, Beth now waved a hand freely at the two of them. ' We'll see you later—have fun,' while Rafe inclined his dark head briefly, and with their arms still entwined, he and Beth made their way over to their own table on the opposite side of the room. Seated once more, Adam smiled freely at Kim, then shook his head in despair. ' Take no notice of Beth. As Rafe said, she's a minx!' For the rest of their time in the restaurant, Kim was annoyingly aware of Rafe's presence in the same room, but the few times she had managed to flash a surreptitious look in their direction he had displayed no such awareness of her own presence, seemingly to be wholly engrossed with the animated Beth. It was late when Kim and Adam finally arrived home and even later by the time they had enjoyed another coffee in her homely kitchen. When he was leaving Adam took hold of one of Kim's hands and traced a pattern over her palm with a broad finger. ' I- hope you've enjoyed this evening as much as I have, Kim, I'd like a repeat performance if you're free one night.' ' I'd very much like to, Adam,' she agreed. ' I thoroughly enjoyed myself and the meal was delightful.' 'That's good. How about Friday, then?' came the quick question. ' I'll be ready and waiting,' she smiled. With a warm look in his blue eyes, Adam pulled Kim closer into his arms and kissed her softly on the mouth. Kim responded with a pressure of her own for she found herself liking Adam more each time she saw him and she looked forward to their next date with pleasure. He may not cause the same heightened excitement of the senses that Rafe could, but he was a pleasant companion and a relaxing person to be with, which made for a much more serene existence.

The next day—Kim's first back at work—went wrong from the very beginning. For a start it was grey, dismal, and pouring with a steady drenching rain. Going to and from the bails and the hen coop that morning—she was able to manage completely on her own now—she was soaked, even with the purchase of her boots. They might keep her feet from getting muddy, but the rain, as it streamed from her plastic raincoat, dripped with unerring accuracy inside her boots instead of outside of them. Bounty also looked wet and miserable, but after scolding him for putting dirty paw marks all over the legs of her jeans, Kim allowed him to curl up in front of the stove to dry himself out. A rushed breakfast and wash followed and then she was dressed in a simple lime green crimplene dress

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and dragging on her already dripping raincoat, suppressing a shudder as the damp material enclosed her warm body. She blew a kiss to Bounty, who acknowledged it by stretching himself more comfortably on the mat, picked up her tooled leather shoulder bag and jamming a sou'wester type rainhat on her curls, raced for the Mini, breathing a sigh of relief once she was safely ensconced inside with the door slammed shut. Minutes later she was jolting, sliding and side-slipping her way along the track to the road while the windscreen steadily steamed up in front of her eyes. The rain was so heavy as to make the wipers practically useless, and it was some consolation when she realised she only had another two hundred yards or so to go before she could escape from the water-filled mud-holes that her car was sliding through with a reckless disregard to the direction in which she turned her steering wheel. Suddenly the vehicle gave a heavier lurch than usual before continuing on its way with' a decidedly uneven action. Kim pulled up and bowed her head onto her hands resting on the top of the wheel. Oh, no!. Not today! Not in this weather! Not another flat tyre! She felt like crying! On a deeply woeful breath she opened the driver's door a fraction and took a look to the rear, then closed her eyes. When she opened them again the wheel rim was still resting complacently in the water and she slammed the door in disgust. Wouldn't you know it? Today of all days! Clapping her hat back on to her head, she drew the keys from the ignition and reluctantly stepped out into the rain. The ground squelched sickeningly around her nice clean shoes and the rain, aided by a strong wind, beat into her exposed face, making her long lashes cling together spikily. Gingerly watching where she trod—not that it seemed to make much difference to the amount of water that was seeping through the leather of her shoes—she unlocked the boot and after much struggling and fumbling eventually had the spare tyre on the roadside, together with the tools that had proved so useless, to her at any rate, the last time. Some fifteen minutes later she knew she had arrived at the same impasse; Rick had left the wheel nuts no looser than the garage attendant before, him. As well as that, she had managed, in the meantime, to successfully dig a large chunk of flesh from her shin when the wheel brace had slipped from her wet hands during one of her many attempts to loosen the nuts. With tears of pain and anger beginning to prick at her eyelids she finally let go of her tightly held temper and with a released, 'Damn!' of frustration she stamped her foot, hard. She knew immediately that she shouldn't have done it! It wasn't necessary to look down to see what was happening, she could already feel the fat globules of watery mud as they slithered slowly down her legs and mingled readily with the small lake taking over her shoes. She was still standing there with a look of dismay on her face when the ute pulled up alongside the Mini. Raoul's exuberant, ' Having fun?' as he and Rafe joined her in the rain did nothing for Kim's frayed temper, and it was some time before she could force herself to reply in anything that remotely resembled a civilised tone of voice. ' No, I am not,' she corrected him shortly, watching as he went down on his haunches beside the wheel and with one effortless twist had the nut releasing its hold. ' And what's more, I'm going to be late for work. On my first day too,' she added with a plaintive wail. Rafe gave her a quick look from beneath narrowed lids. 'I didn't know you had a job,' he said. ' Well, I have, and today's my first day. And now look at me!' she spread her hands wide and gazed down despairingly at her messy legs and shoes.

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The side of Rate's mouth twitched in amusement, while Raoul turned his head and openly smiled. ' I guess you're not going to be voted one of the best dressed women in town today. Not looking like that, anyway,' he offered with a supreme disregard for her feelings. ' Thanks!’ retorted Kim bitterly, pulling a face at him, but Raoul only laughed and turned back to the drooping wheel. The next thing she knew, Rafe was behind her urging her into the utility. 'Come on, I'll run you back to your place so you can get cleaned up, and by the time we get back Raoul will have finished here. You won't lose so much time that way.' It was with reluctance that Kim admitted the sense of what he said, but after thankfully climbing in out of the pouring rain she made sure she kept well over to her side of the scat. She didn't want, or need, a closer contact than was necessary to the unpredictable Rafe O'Sullivan—she preferred to keep him at a distance. As if aware of her thoughts, Rafe gave her one lazy smile, but didn't speak again until they had reached the shelter of her house. They were hardly inside the door before the inevitable question came that she had been dreading. ' Who are you working for?' Kim hesitated for only a moment—after all, what business was it of his who she worked for?—before slipping quickly through the open door into the bathroom and calling back lightly, ' Adam!' while she surveyed her muddy wet feet, now that she had removed her shoes. The door was thrust wide open savagely and Rafe fixed her with a darkening glare. ' Who did you say?' he demanded. Feeling distinctly at a disadvantage in her bare feet, Kim curled her toes defensively into the bathmat and stammered: ' Ad-Adam Spencer.' ' Well, well,' Rafe drawled contemptuously. ' You certainly appear to have made good use of your time last night. Was he very hard to convince he needed a little redhead like you in the office?' Kim's breasts rose and fell rapidly beneath the smooth material of her dress and she glared at him furiously.' No, he wasn't,' she burst out, and then realising what she had implied, ' I mean, he wasn't convinced,' and at his scornfully questioning eyebrow, * I mean, I didn't have to convince him! He'd already offered me the job at the dance. So there!' she pouted at him childishly. ' How very—convenient!' ' And just what do you mean by that?' ' I mean—there you are dancing around the floor with Adam gazing longingly into those beautiful big blue eyes of yours, and suddenly he wants to know if you'd like to work for him! Come off it, sweetheart,' he drawled sarcastically. ' It wasn't like that at all,' she retaliated spiritedly. ' First of all, he wasn't gazing longingly into my eyes. Secondly, I said I was looking for a position in the paper, and then he offered me the job. Thirdly, it's not my fault if he happens to be wanting a secretary at the same time as I'm looking for work. Fourthly, I went for an interview yesterday morning just so there could be no speculation of, the sort that you're making right now. And fifthly,' she paused for breath, ' I don't know what business it is of yours in any

Generated by ABC Amber LIT Converter.' ' So I did. ' I get the message—don't go getting yourself all uptight about it. Did he really think . She back-paddled as fast as she could. ' you did introduce the idea. and we'll see what we can do for that leg of yours.' ' Good!' muttered Kim beneath her breath as she bent to let some water into the bath.' she confessed grudgingly. No doubt he meant her to understand that he had no desire to kiss any of her hurts better and it was his way of telling her not to take Friday's incident seriously. not a little nervous. in a huff.' he grinned.' Kim replied evasively. ' Maybe. A disquieting look.' ' Are you going to?' she dared to ask. After an initial stifled yelp of pain she rounded on Rafe unfairly as the reason for all of her problems. his green eyes dancing.processtext.html case!' Rafe held up a hand in surrender. I'm reading you loud and clear. honey. ' When did you do this?' he asked after a careful scrutiny. In a few strides he was at her side and inspecting the broken skin. causing the blood to begin flowing again. After all. ' Are you asking me to—or trying to tempt me to?' had her feeling she was heading for deeper water than even that imp inside her could navigate. before some imp of mischief prompted Kim to ask provocatively: ' And would you?' He laughed. http://www. ' Neither. She had already noticed that he had removed his before entering the bathroom and was wearing dark blue jeans belted around slim hips and a cream denim shirt. 'That's more like it. ' Okay. the same imp pushing her further without thought for the consequences. "Well. ' Just now. Or I might think you expect me to kiss you better.' . ' I was only wondering.' she pointed out reasonably. She shrugged one shoulder off-handedly. He looked at her steadily. little one. ' Just now?' he queried softly. but in so doing knocked her already painful shin against the side of it. He flicked a long finger towards her nose. studying his expression intently.' she murmured.' Wide eyes were lifted to his face. followed by. I wonder why?' There didn't seem to be any answer Kim could return to this enigmatic question.she had been attempting to invite his kisses? She squirmed inside at the thought and turned away from him irritably to drag off her raincoat. ' Sit on the edge of the bath. Now. maybe not just right now. saying. showing fine white teeth. patiently. ' Now look what you've made me do!' she cried.

Then.processtext. but was given no time to dwell on the thought. The determined look on his face precluded her from remonstrating against his action. ' All you need now is another pair of shoes and you're on your way again. She had never felt that way about any man before and it immediately caused her nerves to tauten while she berated herself ruthlessly for allowing her imagination to run away with her. Rafe's head was close to hers as he bent to the matter in hand and she found herself studying his profile closely. Kim put a hand to his arm as they neared the front door. for. . the slightly curling black hair that still glistened with drops of rain . Could he have known? Kim stared at him perplexedly. it wasn't Rafe's fault that she had allowed such tantalising ideas into her mind—he certainly hadn't encouraged her. he swung to face her enquiringly. for he immediately ushered her out through the front door and then they were through the deluge and into the dry interior of the ute. from somewhere deep within her. unexpectedly. After all.' she snapped. then dried the water from her legs with a soft towel.' He tipped her head up with a hand along her jaw and she could see his eyes glinting devilishly green. ' I can do it myself. Now was definitely not the time for resistance! His hands as they washed away the mud and blood from her bruised and battered leg were incredibly light and gentle—probably as a result of experience in having to deal with intractable animals in the course of his veterinary work. her feet resting in the warm water. you'll do as you're Within a few minutes he had applied the antiseptic and covered the broken skin neatly with a piece of sticking plaster. his shoulder. the long black lashes and straight nose above that humorously curving mouth and strong chin. ' What for?' 'You know—for being so—so ungrateful.' ' That's a change. thought Kim wryly.' he drawled lazily. his arm. Dressed and ready the second time. Just so that she could feel that masculine strength and warmth beneath her hand.' she apologised with eyes downcast. ' You don't say.' Rafe taunted sarcastically.' I know what to do. ' but nevertheless. It didn't really hurt.' and ignoring her protests he picked her up bodily and sat her on the side of the bath.html Knowing herself to have been the only one affected by her provoking questions made Kim less than polite. only asking patiently: ' Have you any antiseptic here?' Slightly ashamed of her unfounded accusation.Generated by ABC Amber LIT Converter. 'I'm sorry. http://www. Rafe. She could sense the colour rising in her cheeks and to cover her confusion muttered crossly: ' Ouch! That hurt!' Rafe gave her a sharp look but didn't comment on her complaint. she didn't look up but merely waved a hand towards the cabinet on the wall over the basin. came the almost uncontrollable desire to reach out a tentative hand and touch him—his head.' he said calmly. But some of her tension must have communicated itself to Rafe.

The steadily drumming rain was now accompanied by brilliant flashes of lightning that split the heavy dark skies asunder with impunity. Safely seated behind her steering wheel once more. Surely there couldn't be much more rain left in those sodden-looking clouds? She had never before encountered such continuously heavy rain. After having been extremely apologetic to Adam for being late and been told. and with no let-up overnight Thursday morning dawned to another wet and miserable daybreak. but often amusing. not like any other work she had done before. It was all very strange and different. pawed and charged their way around the enclosure. You okay?' crackled the voice at the other end of the wire when she put the receiver to her ear. It was only the shrill summons of the telephone. and she was pleased to see that Adam treated her no differently from any other employee and that he didn't intend carrying his private life into the office. and Kim again resolutely pulled on her raincoat and hat and. As promised. There were buyers there for large butchering chains and small ones. patter of the auctioneers. There was an easy camaraderie amongst the other members of the staff that made it easy to fit in. hurriedly made her way to the car park. some buying young beasts to be taken home and fattened before being sold again at a later date. After lunch they changed their venue to the ring containing the beef cattle. http://www. individuals preferring to buy their own meat live and have it despatched to local abattoirs. Kim called her thanks to both of them through the window and gave a wave of her hand. That night there was the most awesome wind blowing. It was still pouring when it was time to finish for the day. Feeling she was becoming a decidedly regular customer. and Kim was amazed at the size and weight of some of the steers offered for sale. on the hoof. At nine o'clock there came another sound that she jumped at involuntarily before grinning wryly to herself in relief. while the majestic thunderclaps almost directly overhead had Kim flinching instinctively even though she was in the comparative safety of the house. But there was more rain to come and it kept up its torrential drenching for the whole of the next day. ' Rick here. Luckily she had a quiet day in which to get to know the ropes—it being too miserable a day for people to be out of doors unless it was an absolute must. It was a completely new experience for Kim and one in which even the dampening weather could not sabotage her interest. ' Don't worry about it.Generated by ABC Amber LIT Converter. the spare tyre ready in position and the rest stowed away. sending small and large animals alike scurrying for cover. Kim. . and many others just looking and considering. with her head bent low against the driving rain. which both men acknowledged with casual salutes.' she settled down to her first day in her new position.processtext. the meat that would shortly be for sale in some of the local butchers' shops. She spared a moment's pity for the cattle left to find their own shelter as best they could. bringing down old and broken branches from the trees with loud thuds and disturbing hangings as some hit the roof before ricocheting to the ground. but by lunchtime she had come to the conclusion that she was very much going to enjoy working there. and to realise that she was actually seeing. as she began to draw away. Kim collected her repaired tyre on the way home and heaved a sigh of relief after traversing the muddy track and finally pulling up outside her own home.html Raoul was waiting patiently in the Mini when they drove up. It was fascinating listening to the men discussing the probable dressed weight and boned weight of the various breeds as they Adam and Bob Walters escorted her down to the sales yards where they spent the morning high in the stands overlooking the covered ring to watch the dairy cattle sales and listen to the rapid. Rafe parked alongside Kim's car so that she and Raoul could change places with as little exposure to the elements as possible.

causing her to wonder what was coming next.' said Kim.' Rafe had. Ruy almost lost the ute over the edge of the culvert in front of the dip yards on his way home this afternoon. then you've got trouble. Rick. Rick's calmly given information wasn't allaying her fears in the ' slightest and she now found herself listening to the rain on the roof with some trepidation. We'll get a few more of these before summer's over—this one is the backwash of that cyclone off the coast of Queensland. of course. that's all.' he told her plausibly.' ' But—but—what shall I do if it does break its banks?' ' Breaking its banks doesn't automatically mean it will reach the house. ' But I didn't think it happened every time we had a storm!' ' It doesn't. ' It's a beauty. ' Well.' Rick interrupted her thoughts. surely. but now she'd a more personal reason for wishing it to cease. The creek was already to the top of its banks when we crossed it this afternoon in the back paddock. Now she owned reluctantly. and it won't take much from here on to have it spilling over.' Then in an accusing tone. too scared to take the car out in case she crashed it and too scared to stay in the house unless the creek invaded it.' she laughed nervously. but this was the first time she had experienced one of such a prolonged intensity and magnitude.' ' Thanks. Rick. ' Just keep a close watch on it. ' And—er—if it's still like this in the morning?' she enquired timidly.' Rick explained patiently. With only Bounty for company she quivered at every thunderclap and recoiled from every flash of lightning. comforted a little by the sound of a familiar voice. Surely that won't cause any problems?' 'Sweetie. ' Don't forget we're summer rainfall country here.processtext. Anything else?' Kim laughed uneasily. If it comes twenty feet over its banks and it's still raining. isn't it? Do you have many storms like this up here?' ' Quite a few. ' Also.' This statement did nothing for Kim's already jittery state of nerves. She had thought the warning was more in the nature of an obstacle to make her accept his offer to buy the property. he did. Nothing to worry about unless it's still coming down as hard by morning.html ' I think so. Before it hadn't meant all that much for it to have rained for so long. for a start you'd better take a close look at that creek at the back of you. Not like down south where you get most of yours in winter. not knowing quite what else to add.' he told her laconically. ' but this isn't normal rain either.' was the disturbingly nonchalant reply. but she hadn't paid much attention to the fact at the time. thanks.Generated by ABC Amber LIT Converter.' 'The creek!' she exclaimed in surprise. 'Rafe must have told you that when he saw you in Sydney. There's not much gravel on the track there and the wheels can't grip in the deep mud. She wasn't usually afraid of storms. http://www.' ' Oh. At this rate he'd have her a mess of quivering nerves before morning. ' Well. She didn't actually fancy either alternative! . the next time that creek swirls into your house in all its muddy glory won't be the first.' But that's yards away. ' you'd better watch yourself driving down the track in the morning.

a few moments later. Don't hesitate. hadn't disappeared by the time Kim awoke next who had rung to enquire if she needed any aid. in the meantime. as usual. and this time it was Adam wishing to know how she was making out. They continued talking for some time and when the conversation was concluded Adam also added his offer of assistance to her should she need it if the rain continued. Rick. She shrugged resignedly.' With a soft. she decided.processtext. been quite ungracious. He had warned her that it might happen but she had disregarded his advice with a blithe insouciance that only highlighted her complete unaware-ness of such matters.' Rick laughed. mulling over the offers of help she had just received. in front of the stove. and she was pleased to be able to report that the storm had now passed over her property and was dealing out its spite on some far-distant neighbours. No sooner had Kim made herself a hot drink than the telephone rang again. CHAPTER VII The rain. Rafe was probably tired of coming to her rescue. think it served her right if the house did flood. ' 'Bye. then in a more serious vein. Whereas. 'No. I think that's the lot for now.' Kim was warmed by his obvious concern. Kim. or the creek does rise too quickly. not Rafe.' she replaced the phone and walked out to the kitchen where Bounty was stretched out. The storm appeared to have lessened considerably during the space of their telephone conversation— although the lightning was still visible. during the height of the storm he had been huddled into a quivering little ball. She noticed that it had been Rick. especially since she had. get in touch with us straight away. ' but if you're worried about anything. It was coming down as steadily as it had on the preceding days and the overcast sky gave no hint of a break in the serried banks . the thunder was only rumbling in the distance now—but the rain still continued to pound the roof with a monotonous velocity. however.' ' That's okay. There wasn't much she could do about it now—she was here—the creek was rising and she would.Generated by ABC Amber LIT Converter.' she agreed gratefully. love.html At least there was one thing to be thankful for. there's a good girl.' and thanks once again. My pleasure. He would. Once Adam had rung off. on many occasions. he now obviously appreciated the passing of the noise and was contentedly sleeping. http://www. fall back on the old custom of praying and keeping her fingers crossed that the rain would be gone by morning. no doubt. 'All right. she sat back to enjoy her coffee.

html of weighty clouds. its trailing branches dragged this way and that by the maelstrom that surrounded it. mused Kim. ' Of course you won't. Before. even though the safety of those walls might only be for a short duration as she thought of the encroaching menace she had left behind. ' Joe used to stay here when it flooded. The gentle willow tree was half submerged. That completely disposed of her idea of moving to a hotel or motel in town. 'Where? In town?' Mona gave a short laugh. She wasn't sure she really fancied staying under the same roof as Rafe. while torrents of extra' water. Give me some moral support. should I go in—or what?' 'No. although now probably was not the time for a show of pride. you can keep me company. intent on overpowering all that might hinder its progress as it surged and tumbled its way over its banks. It was Mona who answered. and I'm the one with the house that floods! ' But are you sure I won't be putting you to a lot of bother if I stay at your house?' she had to ask. . Kim was both worried and frightened.Generated by ABC Amber LIT Converter. The earth had drunk as much water as it could and the excess was lying deeper and deeper upon the surface in ever-increasing pools of water. Kim wasn't without a shivering apprehension when she set out that morning to do as Rick had advised and check on the level of the creek. she couldn't even hazard a guess as to where the original banks were under those reddish-brown frothing waves. It'll be over the road outside the Post Office in another quarter of an hour. What did one do when one's home was threatened by flood-waters? She turned her back on the awesome sight and hurried back to the confines of four walls where some of her fear left her. ' But—but what about work? If the river's flooding. but this morning it bore absolutely no similarity whatever to the friendly clear stream that she had bathed in. It was the first time she had encountered the effects of uncontrolled nature. Besides. where else would you go?' Kim hunched her shoulders. for.' Mona chuckled delightedly. ' To a hotel?' she suggested tentatively. http://www. Everyone knows exactly what to do except me. while the water from her now overflowing tanks at the back of the house was insidiously creeping closer and closer to her back door. 'Haven't you been listening to the wireless this morning? The river's up to thirty-six feet now with no sign of the rain letting up. if you know what I mean? There's no point in your going to work. The whole of her front garden resembled a lake with the grass struggling vainly to keep its offshoots from drowning. Whether it was twenty feet over its banks or not Kim couldn't have said with any certainty. She knew that it had been rising constantly during the week. ' It'll make a nice change from being the only female in an all-male household. told Kim that all the men were down at the yards at the moment and proceeded to give instructions quickly and concisely. you know!' Kim digested this in horrified silence. and when Kim explained her reason for ringing the younger girl quickly grasped the situation. It's rising pretty she had read about it in the newspapers and felt sympathy for those involved. Overnight it seemed to have turned into a ferocious foaming monster.' came Mona's quick answer. but they never call on the female staff. sweeping branches and logs before it with an alarming disregard for weight or size. Her fingers shook as she fumbled with the telephone dial. but it had never reached out its sinister fingers and touched her personally as it was doing now. forging into new streams. Most of the firms have been sending messages over the radio since early this morning for the male employees to help move stock and so forth. to her inexperienced eyes.processtext. rushed down the sloping paddocks to enlarge the widening expanse of water.

with a despondent Bounty trailing at her heels. They were rather a tumbled mess by the time she had snapped the locks shut and moved the cases into the hallway near the front door. I'll call in and see you tonight at the O'SuIIivans'.' Adam apologised sincerely. Adam—it's Kim here.' Mona pointed out. and the creek's about to move in.' she hastened to assure him. so you may as well make sure you've got everything under control at home. This time. http://www.' she said upon recognising his voice at the other end. All the equipment's been stacked as high as we can get it —now it depends on how high the water comes. You pack all your gear into the car and drive up here and when the boys come in I'll let them know and they can take care of the rest for you. Kim.' ' That's okay.html If the town's going under. ' don't worry about it. She only hoped the O'Sullivan family didn't mind her inviting guests to their home! Once she had replaced the phone she set about packing her clothes into the suitcases from which she had taken them only a fortnight before. although she didn't tell Adam that. everything under control. it's a good place to stay away from.' It just seems as though I should be doing something to help. How are things your end?' ' I'm about to move out. and it was when she put her head into .Generated by ABC Amber LIT Converter. ready to load into the Mini. ' I was wondering if there was anything I could do to help?' ' No.' Kim could hear someone calling his name in the a background. Kim.' she told him dryly. okay? Or had you forgotten our date?' With a guilty start Kim realised that she had indeed forgotten all about it.' agreed Kim a little indecisively. thanks. I'm sure I can manage—others have to!' ' Yes.' A puckered frown still creased Kim's brow when she replaced the phone and. They shouldn't be long. on impulse. Adam. He knew something was afoot and he was making sure that nothing had the chance to separate him from his mistress.processtext. good lord! I'd forgotten all about that blasted creek rising with the rush down here. as well as staying with them?' ' Yes. to both questions.' she concluded rationally. or where she put them. ' Hello. we've just about . She then wandered from room to room in an effort to make sure she had forgotten nothing. ' It's been so long since it's flooded that I clean forgot the damned thing. I'm sorry. knowing he had had more pressing matters on his mind with the likelihood of the office going under. but agreed to see him that evening at the house. won't you.' she laughed. she wasn't so careful as to how she folded them.' ' You've got enough problems of your own. ' and there wouldn't be much you could do in town. I really am sorry about that creek. well—that wasn't quite the point was it? But as long as Rafe is there he'll see that you're all right and I won't feel so bad about it. ' Hell. ' Oh. but I'll have to go. she picked it up again and dialled the office number. ' I—I guess so. Kim. In the kitchen she began moving the stores from the lower cupboards and stacking them on the top of the dresser. but I expect you'll be getting help from the O'Sullivans. ' I'm sorry.

How about it?' Kim burst out laughing while Raoul looked at his brother with something like admiration in his eyes. Kim put a hand to her head in despair. in the State of New South title and hereditaments to one Raphael Andrew O'Sullivan of Tarmaroo. and giving the excuse to herself that she would deliver it to Rate's solicitor when she was good and ready. It was dated well after the one that left the property to her and it designated the disposal of the estate exactly as Mr McBain had said: the right. in appreciation of. It was as simple as that! However.' she told them in relief. Diamond Downs. This is the Last Will and Testament of With a shudder of dismay Kim read through the document. and that the old man had given him the only thing in his possession of any worth in gratitude for that support. 'Nothing! We'll be moving most of the furniture. Raoul's call.' He tilted his head to one side engagingly. if you'll keep an eye on Mona tonight when she's cooking dinner so we can have a decent meal for a change. and spreading her hands wide. ' Don't look so worried. ' We'll get everything damageable out of reach of the water. that if she disclosed the discovery of the will then she would have no legitimate excuse for staying. but she discarded the thought almost immediately. that's a good idea! Why didn't I think of that?' He also looked at Kim. and I think that might be a bit heavy for you to tackle. would take care of it in their own ruthless fashion. She groaned wearily... but she supposed it could have been a distinct possibility! ' I'm very grateful for you coming down. other than that she didn't want to leave the property—no other reason! Raoul was quickly followed into the room by Ruy and hanging their dripping oilskins on the back door Raoul gave Kim a consoling grin. if they came that high. but at his words Kim's eyes opened wide and her fingers twisted together nervously.html the cupboard to ensure that she had completely cleared the shelf that something white caught her eye and she saw the long envelope taped to the bottom of the cutlery drawer that slid into the top of the clipboard. She had never even given that a thought.processtext. and the house isn't likely to be swept away. putting mattresses on top of wardrobes and so forth.' he advised. She refused to accept the idea that kept pushing itself to the front of her mind. What was she going to do now? For a moment she was tempted to replace the document in its envelope and return it to its hiding place in the hope that the floodwaters.' What can I do to help?* Ruy shook his dark head with a smile. http://www. She sat back on her heels. feeling her stomach muscles start to tighten. or anything like that. 'We'll swap this work for you. They used to build 'em strong in the old days!' That hadn't been the reason for her worried countenance. staring at it for some time. 'Say. ' Will you do it?' . She didn't need to read it all again to know that Rafe was entitled to the property— that he had done all he could for a sick and ailing old man in his last years to make him more comfortable.Generated by ABC Amber LIT Converter. She had never been dishonest before and she didn't intend to start being so now! The property legally belonged to Rafe and she had no claim to it. She had a horrible feeling that she knew what it was even before she had released it from its hiding place and opened the enclosing envelope. ' Anybody home?' before he entered the kitchen had her scrambling to her feet and thrusting the will and envelope deep into her handbag resting on the table.

' she told them with a deadly straight face. 'How about with an electric oven?' he wanted to know.' 'You won't have to be—anything'd be better than Mona's efforts. I'm no high-class chef. 'That wasn't too complimentary either. ' W-e-ll. ' Can't you cook. I like that!' Raoul retorted immediately.html She stopped laughing long enough to say. ' I'll see if I can help Mona—just don't expect too much. ' I guess I'd better shut up. ' Can we have it tonight? Please?' he entreated. while Raoul put his hands together in a praying attitude and turned soulful eyes upon her. ' Oh. So will we all. and that was with an electric oven. Didn't you. http://www. leaning towards them mock-secretively. Raoul's expression took a subtle turn.' ' Yes.' Mona'd be only too pleased to have someone—anyone—take over in the kitchen. trying not to smile. 'You beauty! Success!' shouted Ruy.Generated by ABC Amber LIT Converter. even if you didn't.' Kim looked at Raoul steadily. you can. 'From that I gather you don't have one of these?' Kim pointed meaningfully to the fuel stove. She'll welcome you with open arms. no! Not another one!' they cried in unison. I'd like to know? Kim knew what I meant. ' I was once known to have won first prize at school for my lamb goulash. Ruy gave his twin an exasperated look. okay. ' Rafe says I must have a heavy hand because the stove works okay.' Kim broke it up with a laugh. and Ruy lifted one eyebrow significantly in his brother's direction.' Both boys looked at each other graphically and then back at Kim. and when Ruy shook his head happily. I can see I'm coming down with a good dose of " foot-in-mouth " disease. 'I haven't been able to cook a single thing properly in that since I arrived. before all three of them began laughing. 'Whose idea was it in the first place to suggest swapping this work for Kim helping Mona in the kitchen. if you can cook!' ' But not if I can't?' Kim teased.' Raoul said unequivocally with a grin.processtext. I can't just walk into your house and take over.' Kim drew out the word suspensefully. seeing their chances of an enjoyable meal fast disappearing.' But you don't know that I'm any better at cooking than Mona is.' she waved a delicately slim-fingered hand at them.' 'Well. either?' Ruy enquired woefully.' She indicated the stove with an expressive look. ' but Mona may not like me interfering with her cooking. ' Not on one of those I can't.' .' was Kim's cheerful rejoinder. 'Trust you to put it like that! Now Kim'll only think she's welcome if she does the cooking. Kim?' He turned to her for confirmation and when she smilingly nodded he gave his brother a triumphant: ' See!' ' Okay. was it?' Raoul admitted with that slow smile that reminded Kim so much of Rafe that she caught her breath. that's all.

Some three-quarters of an hour later. Raoul. that's quite all right. of course. At least.' ' Who on earth planned it that way?' she wanted to know in disgust. The house was long and low and painted white. Obviously someone who didn't know what they were doing. the other. Ruy—you'll keep. ' The house floods.processtext. Kim. Kim?' he asked.' She turned to Ruy in sudden remembrance. They could see the never-ending rain through the open doorway when Raoul returned from depositing her luggage in the Mini. and one of us can come up each day and do the necessary for the hens. Someone who had picked the most attractive site for the house without stopping to consider the consequences. ' They were already built when we bought the rest of the property.' he threatened with a grin over his shoulder. a red kelpie. that's the lot. and Bounty peered through the clouded windscreen at his temporary home with an inquisitive air. it was nice to know that someone in the past had been as ignorant as she was of country know-how.' But what shall I do about the cows and the hens?' ' Oh. http://www. you'd rather herd her up yourself. ' You'll keep.' he laughed. that is. and the store sheds don't?' ' Don't look at me.' Raoul headed down the hall towards Kim's cases.' he finished with a teasing grin. before returning to the object of their arrival. Kim surmised ruefully.' Ruy fixed his brother with a gleeful look. lazy half-hour's herding on such a glorious day—I'm sure you'll be able to do it so much better than 1 could. ' Anything else to go out to the car with these. Only this morning he had refused to be parted from her side . decided Kim with a smile. Except for Bounty and myself. although the roses hung their heavy heads with a dejected look. Fickle creature.' she answered with a deliberate grin of her own. ' No. ' it'll make a nice change.' he advised.' Ruy denied emphatically. the rest of them will be okay. The minute Kim and Bounty set foot out of the car they were greeted interestedly by two cattle dogs. * I wouldn't want to deprive you of a nice. The gardens below the wide verandah which surrounded the building were neat and well kept. ' No. but the vermilion-tinged frangipanni had withstood the continuous rainfall remarkably well for such fragile-looking blooms. Kim halted with a thankful sigh in front of the O'Sullivan homestead. whereupon he gave a joyous bark and bounded gaily after them when they disappeared around a corner of the building. ' You might as well get going. having negotiated an increasingly difficult and dangerous drive down the slippery track. ' We can manage here and we'll bring Clover with us when we come back. we'll take Clover back with us and she can be milked at the dairy. thanks Raoul. one. Unless. brushing the water from his hair Bounty stood his ground warily while the other two dogs gave him a full inspection until he realised he had been accepted. no. that's for sure!' Someone like me.' agreed Ruy smugly to Raoul's suggestion.Generated by ABC Amber LIT Converter. with touches of a dark green around the door and windows. The hen house and the sheds don't flood. a blue heeler. in a somewhat backhanded way.html ' Good idea. ' She'll fit in well at home—she's got you taped already.

she was pleased to find that. sipping at it experimentally. It was set into the wall—its black glass door winking invitingly—while the four hotplates were recessed into the formica bench top of one of the teak finished cupboards.' and you can leave your boots and coat in the laundry to dry. Stepping over four curled cats of multi-parented heritage. ' Come on round the back. silently at attention like soldiers on parade. ' Sit yourself down. I've been waiting ages for you to arrive. Glancing covertly from the corner of her eye. she padded silently on bare feet after Mona into the warm and cheerful kitchen.' In the laundry Kim hung her dripping coat on a peg and stood her muddy boots in line with the other footwear already there. It was nothing like she had imagined—nothing at all like her own kitchen with the black monstrosity taking pride of place.processtext. gay with its orange.' On reflection. I'll show you around now. then we can have a nice hot cup of coffee.' Mona bade her. while under the window opposite her.' She pointed to the doorway by the fridge-cum-freezer. she could at least make a very nice cup of coffee. She took a longer mouthful and relaxed a little. and far better cared . the colour being echoed in the sliding drapes on either side of the venetianed window. http://www. However. At the other end of the room there was an enormous two-door refrigerator and freezer combined. ' Then I'd better see about getting something for lunch. ' If you've finished your coffee. 'That's the dining room in there and that's where we usually eat dinner. the house was a great deal larger than Kim had supposed. There were two bathrooms—one at either end of the long hallway—and five bedrooms. ' while I pour out the coffee. its formica top of a lot later vintage. green and white cafe curtains. The carpet was of a deeper blue. but we have breakfast and lunch in here. where she stopped in amazement.' she offered. than the one she had inherited. with pale blue and white patterned wallpaper. white-painted furniture and softly quilted covers of pale blue on the beds. This was rapidly followed by the dismaying thought that it wasn't her house any more—it was his! Mona's voice came through her musings. if what they said was true and Mona couldn't manage to cook a meal to their satisfaction. it could have been anybody's guess. but now that he had companions of his own kind he had no compunction about leaving her to her own devices. The room Kim was to share with Mona was extremely pretty. She was still apprehensive of the long periods of Rafe's company that must occur during the time she stayed there—she shook herself with scorn—it was ridiculous letting it get on top of her like this. dressed in faded jeans and a checked shirt. she espied the electric oven that the twins had mentioned. she mounted the stairs and reached the shelter of the verandah.' Kim did as suggested and accepted a steaming mug of coffee from Mona. She wasn't too sure what she was expecting. The front door was flung wide open and a lively Mona.' she greeted Kim eagerly.Generated by ABC Amber LIT Converter. bounced happily on to the verandah. each one individually furnished and decorated. In the centre of the room was a large octagonal shaped table. With an inward quake of trepidation. she should be worrying about the possible and probable damage the flood could do to her house instead of the effect Rafe would have on her. The boys can bring your cases in when they get back. was a long double-bowled stainless steel sink. This room was like something out of a magazine with its shining stainless steel and gleaming paintwork. surrounded by deep green leather covered chairs. then I'll show you around. but after the twins' comments.html for fear of being left behind.

Last on their round came the dining room with its deep-piled olive and oatmeal-toned carpet.Generated by ABC Amber LIT Converter. I wouldn't mind. I think I'd thoroughly enjoy it. with all the equipment you've got here.' ' Truly?' Mona turned. I can't ask you that—you're supposed to be a guest. from Mona's comments the other night at the dance. and was fitted with a long low settee of brown leather with cushions in muted tones of orange. I will. Kim hid a furtive grin that was threatening to break. Back in the bright kitchen. Here too there reposed a tall vase filled with immaculate gladioli. ' Actually. Kim! Thanks a million!' She drew back and laughed. and a highly polished three-in-one unit housed beneath the wide sliding glass windows. adding lettuce. Oh.' she concluded despondently. comfortable-looking armchairs with reading lamps close by. No doubt this was used as a " get away from the rest of the family" room. Apart from the office chair in front of the desk.' she put forward helpfully. ' I don't suppose you'd . yellow and chocolate.. its drawers and doors decorated with intricately cut gold filigree handles. She could see which way Mona's thoughts were leading. ' Won't the boys be surprised to see how much I've improved?' Not as surprised as you think. The buffet that extended almost the entire length of one wall was cut from the same wood as the dining suite. Mona.' 'Would you really?' Mona sounded amazed and she looked at Kim consideringly. and threw her arms around Kim enthusiastically. apart from the kitchen. radishes and spring onions to the water. I quite like it. upon which stood a vase of delicately coloured gladioli and two mammoth sized pottery ashtrays. there were also a couple of older. There was a large desk along one wall. their colours glowing purely against the neutral-coloured background of the wall. an expression of near joy on her face. She glanced round the room quickly. as well as being used as the family office. The study was a comparatively small room. speculated Kim to herself.. complete with overflowing magazine racks underneath it. long oatmeal linen curtains at the windows and satin matt gleam of the teak dining table and chairs with thickly padded olive-coloured leather seats and backs. Although. to be really honest. In the middle of the room was a maple coffee table. Kim offered to give a hand in preparing lunch which was gratefully received by a Mona who declared emphatically: ' I hate preparing food. celery. but quite another for someone else to inform you of it. ' If you'd like me to give a hand with the cooking. she doubted whether it worried Mona greatly that her brothers thought she was a hopeless cook—she had been only too ready to agree with them! . ' Gee! That'd be stupendous. there was a smaller television tucked away in one corner and the bookshelves were lined with a variety of tomes which ranged from The Cause and Effect of Helminths in Ruminants to a copy of Tolstoy's War and Peace. There were also four small occasional tables placed strategically at the side of the armchairs. There was a glass-fronted cocktail cabinet along one wall. or maybe.processtext. not after all their pleas and conniving! She only hoped that in their brotherly candour they didn't go boasting about their idea—it was one thing to know oneself bad at something.' replied Kim with a consoling smile.html The lounge was apparently the most used area in the house. over which was scattered sundry papers and envelopes. don't you?' as she carelessly tossed some firm-skinned tomatoes into the water-filled sink. ' In fact. Kim suspected.' At least let me do something for my keep. that was only the impression given by the amount of books and paperwork that had found their way into the room. as well as four matching chairs on wooden swivel http://www.

html By the time the first pair of heavy footsteps could be heard mounting the verandah steps the table had been laid and the food was ready and' he cried. dishes of coleslaw with finely chopped capsicum. It's not fair!' 'What's not fair. ' I only said I'd tell everyone she was. adding a few sniffs for good measure. little one?' he enquired. his arms and face still damp from the cursory drying they had received after washing in the laundry. not a whit put out by her brothers' remarks.' 'And don't you start on me either. poking a finger at Rick's chest. ' That we're expected to eat what you provide?' ' Oooh! I should have known better—you're as bad as they are!' Mona pulled away and landed a none too gentle kick in the middle of his left shin. ' It's written all over your face. stupid!' ' Not when you've prepared it!' came the promptly taunting retort. lazily. laughing.' If you promise not to prepare my food I'll promise to tell everyone you're the best cook in the world. potato salad and onion. ' That's what you're supposed to do. I think it's very nice of you to say that—especially after all the things they've just said to you. radish rosettes and chunky cut tomatoes on a bed of crisp lettuce.' Raoul advised irrepressibly while they seated themselves at the table. http://www.' Mona interrupted. ' she appealed to him in a woebegone fashion. 'These two. together with wedges of hard-boiled eggs. How's that?' ' What's he telling lies about now?' queried Rick with a grin as he and Ruy came in together. I expect you're a better cook than any of them.' she indicated Raoul and Ruy. ' Never mind. while his three younger brothers roared with laughter when he limped across to the table. Raoul was the first to enter the kitchen. no! Don't do that.' Raoul defended himself. and crusty bread with dishes of golden butter curls.' . you know. Kim was laughing too as she caught at Mona's arm.' Say. twisted curls of crunchy celery. slices of succulent beetroot and cucumber. ' You'll be sorry. Rafe bent and rubbed a hand along his now throbbing shin.processtext.' ' Well. There were bowls of finely grated cheese and carrot. pulling a face at him. There were platters of sliced cold meats and chicken. ' they're picking on me again. ' I'll make sure I personally supervise all your meals if you're not careful!' Raoul's expression changed to one of mock pleading.Generated by ABC Amber LIT Converter. ' You don't have to. Mona. seeing her eldest brother follow the rest into the room.' ' Don't put any money on that. ' He's right.' She put on a doleful expression. ' They're not bad when they turn their hands to it. 'Oh. draping an arm protectively across Mona's shoulders.' are bad enough!' ' Me? I haven't even said anything yet!' protested Ruy innocently.' Mona rounded on him.' chanted Mona. anyway.. 'That hurt!' he accused his sister. ' Rafe .' Mona grinned at Kim. ' I didn't say she was the best cook.. that looks good enough to ear!' Mona stood back and giggled at him.

com/abclit. 'No trouble—everything that could really suffer any damage is packed up out of danger level. ' Does that mean then that you consider we're superior? That one woman is worth two of the opposite sex?' Kim enquired. 'because they should have brought your cases in for you!' ' Sorry about that. . two spots of colour appearing high on her cheeks. I think it'll come higher than that. thought it would. http://www.' with a grin. and Kim waited expectantly for the answer. a couple of feet?' Rick asked.' Rick grinned at her home thrust.' ' Between men and women. and we brought Clover back with us—she's in the home paddock. but his eyes were on Kim's anxious face when he did so. only cover the floor as Rick had suggested. 'We also turned off the power at the mains.' ' Thank you. You were doing fine! And if you haven't got any shoes then it's their fault. ' I'll get them straight after lunch.' Ruy added his piece. grimacing at her brothers.html Ruy's head lifted slowly and he eyed Kim and Mona closely. ' They're in my case—out in the car.' Rafe now paused in his meal to look questioningly at the twins. Rafe. ' Oh. brown eyes and two pairs of grey eyes fixed on to the two girls sitting next to each other. Rick.' she stammered.' We'd better watch this one. ' That's just Rick's way of turning the tables on you. She hadn't realised that the creek would completely take over—she'd. Ruy.' ' Ignore them. and four on the other.' Besides. 'And—and h-how soon before the water reaches the house?' she forced herself to ask. no!' Kim hastened to assure them.' she stared at her brothers jubilantly. more or less. 'That's generous of you to say so.' 'How high do you think it will come in the house. and from behind the back of his hand. 'And how did you two manage at the house this morning?' Raoul moved a negligent hand.' Kim gave a choked gasp and swallowed hastily. from the look of the creek this morning. 'Brothers!* he announced with a glance of devilish enjoyment. Kim. Rafe appeared to think over the question for a moment or so before replying to Rick.Generated by ABC Amber LIT Converter.' he cautioned. 'Oh.' even if she doesn't wear shoes. that would make the sides about equal. I'd say more like three or four feet.processtext. ' I hardly think it would be fair with two on one side. I'm s-sorry—I f-forgot.' said Rick sagely.' recommended Mona.' Kim jumped guiltily and curled her toes round the bar of the chair as everyone took a quick peek under the table at her bare feet. continued in a stage whisper. ' I think we're in for trouble—they're taking sides!' Green eyes. sweetly guileless.' Ruy apologised immediately. ' No.

The combination of the flood. It was a saddening thought! Kim was brought out of her reverie by the sound of scraping chairs as the men moved away from the table and. A short nod of her head was Kim's outward response. although she was sure that.' he agreed with a disarming smile. To think that only this morning the house had been home and security to her. and now it was partly under water— it had all happened too quickly for her to really assimilate that floods did happen to people like her—not just to unknown numbers of people living some hundreds of miles away. and in the same breath. ' Any particular reason why I shouldn't?' ' I guess not. Once she breaks her banks with rain like this. but with Joseph Phillips' last will in her possession. if you don't mind?' ' Me?' She looked at him in surprise.' warm hands clasped her shoulders while his thumbs caressed the faint lines of her collarbones beneath the soft skin. ruthlessly dragging her thoughts back to the present. Rafe's hold on her shoulders tightened and he pulled her close to his wide chest. but she was having trouble in formulating a reply and her breath was coming in shallow.' Kim replied. but. her brain working feverishly in an endeavour to discover the reason for his request. Kim. don't forget those cases. http://www. turning her towards the hallway. she allowed the. for the rest of the meal. she also knew that even without the flood her little house would soon be gone from her for ever.' The movements of his hands against her skin were having a curiously hypnotic effect upon Kim's reflexes. you'll hardly know it's been there.' Look. jerky gulps. It wasn't only the flood that was upsetting her—it was the knowledge that even when the water had disappeared she wouldn't be moving back into the house. As it was. softly. had it been at any other time. He came straight to the point. sweetheart. uneasily aware of his forceful presence as he followed her into the study and closed the door with a definite click. She knew this to be a mental exaggeration. His words had registered. one arm enfolding her . ' Yes. Once the rain stops it will be gone very quickly It wasn't hers any longer—it never had been! At the moment the creek had claimed ownership. she might at least have been able to put forward some intelligent questions. I'm sorry it came as such a shock to you out there that the water would come into your house so rapidly and so deeply. The men were discussing matters of farm management that she knew nothing about in any case. 'Ruy. you.processtext. the only thing Kim could see in her mind was a picture of that little house slowly but surely disappearing beneath turbulent waves.' Kim knew he had tried to break the news as gently as possible. with the walls and floors washed down.' Rafe reminded him. she began automatically clearing the table with Mona and stacking the dishes in the sink. ' It's probably there already. the will and Rafe's disturbing hands had a disastrous effect—to Kim's utter mortification she put her hands to her face and burst into tears. she spreads fairly rapidly. ' I'd like a word with you in the study.html Rafe answered slowly.Generated by ABC Amber LIT Converter. but once that had returned to normal she would have no excuse for not handing over the will. talk to flow around and over her while not taking any part therein.' but don't let it worry you too much. but that didn't completely erase the sense of shock she was sustaining.

and set his mouth to hers in a kiss that obliterated all thought from her mind..' Oh. ' Because—because I. you can tell me why you won't be living back at the house when the flood moves on?' Kim wasn't about to be caught again.' The tears began falling again. sweetheart. In a few years' time you'll be as used to floods as the rest of us and'll think nothing of it.' Apparently the fact that the will had been found was enough for Rafe. yes.' Whatever reaction she had expected from Rafe. At last he released her. her head held high and her eyes holding his bravely. this time she determined to keep a tight rein. it's not as bad as all that.' What did you do that for?' she sniffed. if you like. don't bother. it wasn't the expelling of a deeply held breath and the heartfelt. She felt disgusted with herself for allowing her emotions to so easily get out of control. for his reply was quite offhand. Had the property really meant that much to him? Had he really wanted to get rid of her to such an extent? She couldn't believe it! Or could it be that she didn't want to believe it? It was a great effort for her to offer casually... ' It's in my bag. 'You'll be home in a few days and. stop crying. didn't it? You've stopped crying!' Oh. 'No. In an almost savage movement he dragged her hands from her face and stared at the downbent head before him. I'll go and get it for you. And now what would he think of her after she had responded so eagerly to his advances which.' she sobbed on a choked breath.' You were right—the place belongs to you— it was never mine. to him.Generated by ABC Amber LIT Converter. His ever-ready smile was to the fore again.' Kim shook her head again. and Kim turned reproachful eyes upwards.. and she shook her head vigorously and cried all the harder.' he pleaded softly. 'No.' For God's sake.processtext. 'Don't cry.. ' Why won't you?' he demanded on an angry note.' . She lifted tear-drenched eyes to his at last and bit at her bottom lip to still its trembling. ' Thank God!' that followed http://www. I'll get it from you later. but it was some moments before she realised to just what degree she was responding so avidly. had only been a means to an end. Rafe let go of her hands and took her face between his gentle hands.' he groaned in despair.' Knowing that she wouldn't be there that long had the opposite effect than what Rafe desired. ' And now. God . I won't. it had done that all right. conceded Kim miserably. 'Because I found Joseph Phillips' latest will this morning. She gazed at him in deepening dismay.. Her arms hung limply at her sides and she had no notion of attempting to pull away.' It had the desired effect. The attraction this man held for her was almost magnetic in its intensity. Kim.' she told him. perhaps. His arm held her shaking figure closer.html slim body comfortingly while his free hand stroked her hair in a soothing motion.

. It was a strain for Kim to force herself into giving a light laugh to this remark. ' See. with promises of greater heights to come as the waters from further inland began making their way to the sea. there's a break in the clouds towards the east. together with messages that first one road. searching the sky.. two could play at that game! From now on she would make certain he had no such outrageous effect upon her emotions—she would treat him exactly as she did the others for the short time left to her. I blackmailed Rick into giving me a hand.' That's all right—I enjoyed doing it.' She waited patiently.' Outside in the hall she pulled the door to behind her and leant back thankfully against it. It was a very nice lunch. She moved around him towards the door. She couldn't understand Rafe—the kisses he had given her obviously meant nothing to him compared to the " Thank God " he had uttered when he found she would have to move from his property. and then another were now impassable.html Kim didn't know what to make of this. thanks for giving Mona a hand in the kitchen. Rafe was deep in his own thoughts. ' I'm sorry. Oh. The river was still rising. not hers—she had done the right thing in confessing that she had the will. but then.' The younger girl set her apologies aside with a grin.' she exclaimed excitedly. but she was pleased when it sounded almost natural. ' and. it was up to Rafe to take things from there. She had to get things back into their proper perspective. little one. http://www. that was his problem. let alone her. in a firmer tone. well. Kim . All she had to do was malqe sure that the rest of her goods were cleared from the house and that it was clean and tidy when the time came for him to claim his property. but not knowing which direction was east from where she was standing. '. Told him I'd make the dinner all by myself if he didn't.' she explained. 'I think it's starting to ease off.Generated by ABC Amber LIT Converter.. she would have thought he would have wanted to get the document into his possession as soon as possible. ' That's okay. The information being relayed didn't sound encouraging. because it was a while before he answered: ' Okay.' Kim went to stand beside her to see for herself. giving Kim the impression that soon the whole district must submerge beneath the water. Mona was peering through the window. pale blue gap in the heavens that Mona had commented upon.' she said slowly. It didn't make sense to her. To cover her lack of spontaneous conversation she bent her head to the transistor radio Mona had on the table..processtext. not wanting to look at him. hoping against hope that one of the others wouldn't come past until she had rallied herself. but she held on to it valiantly. After his obviously great relief when he heard that the will had been located. and to Hades with him and his light lovemaking! She would show him it meant as little to her as it apparently did to him! Mona was putting away the last of the dishes that had been used for lunch when Kim entered the kitchen. She had been a fool letting him have such an effect on her—she had been right all along in thinking that he had had too much success with the opposite sex for his feelings to become seriously involved with any girl.' in a rather distracted voice. I should have helped you—there was a lot to do on your own. her eyes down.' Her smile when she replied was only a weak one. ' If that's all. Mona. had to scan the whole horizon before she chanced upon the slight. I'll go now.. then another. She hunched her shoulders perplexedly.

in some cases. isn't it?' Kim mused. 'I guess we've just had too much experience with them. to enable the present shop-keepers to buy other land elsewhere? Everyone knows it floods regularly.' ' Where to?' came the masculine question as Rick entered the kitchen and poured himself a mug of coffee before going down to the machinery shed.' He waited for her nod of comprehension. there's transport.Generated by ABC Amber LIT Converter. 'Not really. In fact. the whole area's not exactly high-density housing. is it? There must be somewhere above flood level where it could be relocated. as you well know at times Mother Nature has a distinct tendency to treat with a terrifying contempt man's puny efforts to keep her in check. but not really frightening. and somehow I don't imagine the Government would be overly keen on spending the amount of money that would involve. That means the railway lines and the highways have to be diverted. They give out constant bulletins regarding the safety of roads. it's been found that they're downright dangerous. http://www.html 'Thank goodness for that!' She looked at Mona. ' Then who's going to buy the land that the shops and offices now stand on. perhaps. Would you be prepared to pay good money for such a site?' Kim gave a reluctant acknowledging shake of her head at his point.' conceded Kim in defeat. reinforced concrete.' She grinned. and that helps to some degree. ' But last of all. as well as often carrying an enormous amount of debris with it. holus-bolus as it were. surely. And I believe there are plans under way to consider building canals to bypass Lismore and empty the floodwaters directly into the sea. 'How long once the rain stops before the water goes down?' 'Not for some time—even if it stopped right now. ' Well. 'They're continually dredging the river. even if we manage to get over the first two hurdles. we end up with what's commonly called a "land boom". and putting it down elsewhere. There's very little left to chance these days. the river wouldn't peak until some time tomorrow morning. can you imagine what the land prices would be like? The money they would make would give land developers instant retirement—they'd make a fortune!' ' I suppose so. Kim made an expressive movement with her hand. but levees aren't always suitable. but I think there's more to it than picking up the town.' ' But why?' 'Because a river under flood moves very fast and has extremely strong currents. First of all. ' You make it sound easy. that's why we have the radio on all the time. the time the river will break its banks. it would save an awful lot of trouble. and all the rest.' ' But couldn't they move the town? I mean. and if a levee breaks—and they quite often .' But couldn't they do more to alleviate the possibility of floods? Like building a levee. or something?' Rick pondered this while drinking his coffee. The Emergency Service has things pretty much under control.' ' It's a rather frightening chain of events. probably. ' inevitable. the rate the water's rising and the expected height of the peak. Even though it might be built of' replied Mona with the off-handedness of one who has been raised with such things.' Rick stirred sugar into his drink and sat down at the table before answering. When the new site for the town is finally decided upon.processtext.

' By the way. Good thinking. you don't!' laughed Kim. it was girls who giggled incessantly. ' And don't forget to feed Kim's hens and collect the eggs this afternoon. The girls spent the rest of the afternoon unpacking Kim's cases and hanging her clothes in the wardrobe that Mona had cleared for her use. And they could have built reservoirs. then lifted herself on to one elbow and eyed Kim with an inquisitive grin. highways and built all their towns on their banks so that we could reap the consequences.' She eyed the ceiling mischievously. and was treated to a sketchy salute in lieu of a reply. but us workers . ' Adam Spencer said he'd call in here tonight to see me—I hope no one will Kim was glad to note. the same as we do. and rumpled his hair on her way to the sink with his now empty cup. fellers!' ' That's hardly fair. ' He's a friend. although she did also at times revert to a giggling teenager.' They had to have water —how else could they have survived?' ' From what I've read. I guess. rising to his feet and replacing his chair under the table. http://www.' Kim pointed out. Kim found her to be an easy companion. still laughing. ' Don't be daft.' Rick agreed. ' It's good for some.' But for some. with the attitudes at times of someone of more years than Mona could lay claim to. But only. that's long enough. chicken. At least this way all we have to do afterwards is clean up the town—that way. ' No more suggestions.' he smiled and left the sentence unfinished. I can assure you that's not the case with Adam and me.' ' Of course they won't. ' Do I smell a romance?' she wanted to know.' Mona wagged a wise finger. heading for the outside door. It was during a lull in the conversation that Kim had a flash of remembrance. ' No? Well. Kim also made sure she had a pair of sandals on her feet directly her shoes were taken from their packing place. they drank more rum than water in the early days of the colony anyway. couple of months' time that they've been living together for years and have a couple of kids as well! Some friends!' 'Well.html do—then instead of the river overflowing its banks at ground level.' spoke up Mona. ' Okay.' smiled Kim. that's all. Then you find out in a. with nothing to do..' ' I know. While this was taking place Mona lay comfortably on her bed and kept Kim amused with her running commentary on her life at school and hilarious anecdotes concerning some of the other girls who boarded with her. I've heard all that " we're just good friends " bit before—all the Hollywood stars use it. ' I only met him for the first time at the dance. ' No. I know.Generated by ABC Amber LIT Converter.. you have a wall of water roaring into town like some hideous tidal wave carrying all before it.' she turned to Mona. ' I wonder what my brothers would say if I told them you were having a romance with Adam?' .' Rick grinned in response. infrequently.' Mona assured her complacently. If there was one thing she had never been able to abide.processtext.' ' I surrender.' he concluded with a facetious look.' Mona adjured her elder brother. let's just have three minutes' silence for our ancestors who used the rivers as their.' Mona called after him. we'd still be searching for half of it weeks later.

com/abclit. In the bedroom she slipped into a pair of mint green flared slacks with a matching safari-type. I guess.' ' Ah-hah!' Mona pounced on her words. her chin on her knuckles. ' Though it's not to be wondered at with the teachers you've got on hand. Rick and Ruy also had some very ego-boosting remarks to make when they came in. then. ' But I promise. but she thought that it was the least she could do if Adam was calling to see her that she be wearing something a little more dressy than an old shirt and jeans. horrified at the thought of what Adam's reception might be should Mona's teasing take her that far. Forgiven?' ' Forgiven. and.' 'Umm! It's a real case of "if you can't beat 'em. contrary to what you might think. and don't you dare say a thing. but Rate's recognition of her change of clothing came in the form of one lifted eyebrow.' Kim ordered.' The preparation for a ragout of veal. Kim smiled in return but said nothing—they would find out the reason for her change of dress quickly enough as it was. They'll know soon enough. although the men always had their showers beforehand and changed their clothes.' she suggested brightly. jumping into a cross-legged position.html ' They'd give me hell. then her feet were slid into a pah of open white sandals and after a quick inspection in the mirror she was back in the kitchen. Mona. that I won't tease you about it any more. ' And if you say one more word about romance. only to bounce upright again a second later. short-sleeved jacket.' She held up one hand with her fingers extended close to her temple. ' I know! He's forcing his attentions on you.' ' You'll do no such thing. in what was to . ' Mona!' She jumped off the bed with a cheeky grin.processtext.' she agreed. ' Wow! Where are you off to tonight?' was Raoul's comment as he passed through on his way to the bathroom.' assented Kim with a smile. ' Okay. join 'em" around here. ' my lips are sealed regarding your affair. then I'll—I'll refuse to help you any more in the kitchen. ending with the application of a bronze lipstick and a vigorous brushing of her hair. tonight.' there's no need for you to start them off any earlier than you have to. elbows resting on her knees.' Then there is a romance!' ' No.' Kim reiterated in laughing exasperation. http://www. 'I didn't say " romance ". on Scout's honour. ' I've been out with Adam once and we were supposed to be-going out again tonight.' . two dates do not constitute a romance!' ' Oh!' Mona sounded disappointed and flopped into a supine position once more. were well under way before Kim found time to slip into the bathroom and have a shower before dinner. She hadn't realised she'd missed having a shower so much since making do with her old bath and enjoyed the hot water beating on to her skin in tingling needlepoints with the aid of a pressure pump connected to the system.Generated by ABC Amber LIT Converter. or Adam. Mona had already told her that they didn't really dress for dinner. Kim. A light dusting of make-up followed. to be followed by a frosted banana mousse.' I could tell them that. there is not.' Kim spoke ruefully.' Mona gave in with a loud sigh.

the other three were more than grateful to be given a respite from Mona's apparently tasteless efforts. Raoul. come on in. Kim let out her breath on a relieved note and held out her hand to Adam. but fortunately said nothing. The first course had only partly been disposed of when the telephone rang and Rafe left the table to answer it. he was gone. ' You're looking very beautiful tonight.' A quick look encompassed them all as. bending his head to hers.' he explained for their benefit. ' I'll see you later. I keep expecting to find that I'm not alone any more.' she whispered. She allowed him to kiss her briefly before turning her head away nervously and glancing round as if she expected to find an audience watching. but they had been firmly banished to the nether regions as being ridiculous and not worthy of consideration. had crossed her mind during the preparations.html Kim's mind a rather derisive manner. ' I'm sorry.' they heard Adam reply. to her way of thinking. especially when it was her own first day there—and the ticking of the kitchen clock had assumed deafening proportions by the time the door bell finally rang.' she apologised quickly.' By the time Kim had finally decided to do as Mona said. Fred Robertson's mare is in trouble having-her foal.' he murmured softly. The idea that she had taken such pains over it. I think I can guess. she had strongly convinced herself that it was only due to the splendid facilities available that had prompted her to go to such lengths—besides. ' Go on. but the younger girl only grinned and gave her a friendly push in the direction of the doorway. which he took in one of his own. Kim. http://www. Kim's in the kitchen with Mona. with a brief. He was only gone for a few minutes before he returned with a somewhat rueful expression. then: ' No need to tell me. I'll find her. merely to prove to him that she could cook. She wrinkled her nose at his look and turned away to begin laying the cutlery on the table.' . Kim hesitated and looked at Mona helplessly. As it was. squeezing it affectionately. Kim finished the rest of her own meal in a thoughtful silence.Generated by ABC Amber LIT Converter.' but I'm not used to living in a house with so many people around. It's you he's come to see. very relaxing. Raoul was just turning back to the lounge and gave her a teasing grin when she passed him. but I'll have to leave—my presence is urgently required elsewhere. with less laughing and more serious topics of conversation to be followed. one of the twins had already beaten her to it. Adam.' I'm sorry. A wry smile touched the corners of her mouth when she turned back to him. for they heard Raoul's voice saying: ' G'day. ' you answer but I'll have to forgo the pleasures of your culinary aptitude until some other time. Kim swallowed hastily and stepped out into the hallway. Rick disappeared into the study and the twins settled themselves down in the lounge to watch the news on television. This was followed by another remorseful glance in the direction of the remainder of his meal. What brings you out on a night like this?' There followed a significant pause. While Kim and Mona tackled the washing up. Let him think what he liked! Dinner was a more reserved meal than lunch had been. and deeming that she couldn't stay hidden in the kitchen for the whole of the evening. Kim found herself becoming extremely nervous waiting for Adam to arrive— entertaining a friend in somebody else's home wasn't.' 'Thanks.' and a blast of cold air when he opened the back door. 'I'm sorry. not me.processtext. She hoped that Rafe didn't imagine she had gone to so much trouble with the meal solely for his benefit.

' chuckled Ruy. I wasn't sure what was going on. whispering in her ear: ' I'm sorry Rick took up so much time back there. Or perhaps they just didn't think they knew her well enough yet? Kim had the presentiment that this was nearer the mark—it was all very well ragging a member of one's own family. but soon found themselves eyeing the set for longer and longer periods as the story being relayed unfolded before them. they had both returned to their contemplation of the flickering screen before them. knowing full well the men would be thoroughly engrossed in their discussion for some time to come. there had been no teasing references. ' It'll only be biscuits and cookies. Kim lit a cigarette and while only half listening to the men's conversa-tion.' offered Kim. finally bringing the topic to a close. but within minutes of Ruy offering his greetings.' A puzzled frown creased his tanned forehead. I didn't know you were here. and rose to her feet reluctantly. I think I might put in a bid on those heifers after all. Adam wrapped his arms around Kim and pulled her against him gently. That clearing sale over at Pilgrim Creek that you advertised the other day—I wanted to know what you thought of those springing heifers that were for sale. after giving Kim a sly wink. curled up cosily in one of the large chairs and proceeded to give the transmitted programme her undivided attention as well. mulled over the evening in her mind.' said Rick. ' I'll give you a hand.' he explained.' she announced to everyone in general.' His lips brushed lightly down the side of Kim's cheek and she could hear the smile in his voice at his next . I liked the sound of the bloodlines.' The girls exchanged raised eyebrows and with knowing smiles left the room. Kim. http://www. catching him across the side of his head and making them all laugh. Apparently whatever was showing had completely captured their interest.processtext. ' It's not like Rick to be so slow in making a decision. In fact. I'm afraid—I didn't bake a cake and half the questions he asked were repeats of what he'd asked me earlier. but quite another thing when it came to doing it to a comparative stranger. the dishes once more washed and put away. The twins both looked up when Kim and Adam entered the room. thereby excluding any chance the others might have had of steering the discourse into more lively channels. After laughing apologies had been made. and the twins and Mona had said their adieux and gone to bed. ' I'll get some supper. and I'll see you on Monday. All in all. I'm for bed. ' Hey. She didn't feel quite so much the outsider with Adam present. Adam. and began walking towards the doorway where she collided with Rick coming from the other direction. Apart from Raoul's taunting grin in the hallway. and his. ' I'll see you in the morning. and unsuccessfully tried to duck when his sister threw a cushion at him with deadly aim. Adam. it hadn't been as bad as she had thought it would be. Kim and Adam gave each other conspiratorial grins. stretched.html Adam laughed understandingly.' ' That's good. wondering whether the avid interest being shown by the three other occupants of the room was genuine or assumed. they were still involved in the same dissertation when supper was finished. eh?' A rapid nod of the head was Kim's grateful response to that suggestion. we'll find somewhere more private next time. Mona. ' Shall we put on a brave front and confront the rest of the family?' had her smiling in agreement.Generated by ABC Amber LIT Converter.' That's okay. ' You're just the man I wanted to see. and Rick had dominated the talk at supper-time with questions relating to the clearing sale.' Standing in the darkness of the hall once Rick had left them. re that sale. Rick seemed surprised to see Adam in the room. ' Well. It was ten-thirty before the film finished and Mona yawned. A little while later Mona slipped into the room and.

' but it was obviously about time somebody did. From the way you're carrying on.Generated by ABC Amber LIT Converter. old son? I meant to ask Kim earlier where you were. Adam appeared the least perturbed of the three. ' It wasn't a secret assignation. ' It stopped raining about half an hour ago—if you leave straight away you'll probably be able to make it home before it starts again. Rafe. how dare you treat this house like some cheap little backroad motel! If you intend to make love to Adam. ' How goes it. ' Good idea. ' See you. I'll be in touch. Kim. and found him plugging in the percolator and rummaging in the cupboard for a mug. Kim hurried after him. ' But if I do. for your information. hurt by his unfounded accusations and wanting to strike back. pulled her towards him and planted a lingering kiss on her soft lips.' were his last words before he opened the front door and let himself out. leaning back easily against the wall. her hands clenched at her sides in an effort to control her temper. ' I thought he was never going to bed. her face flaming at what Rafe had seen and the interpretation he might put upon it. I certainly don't make secret assignations to meet in someone else's home and conduct the torrid little affair in a darkened hallway!' he retorted with a contemptuous sneer. though. 'How dare you tell Adam when to leave!' She came straight out with it.' .' Rafe replied quietly. And.html words. And. Kim spun guiltily out of Adam's embrace. didn't you?' Before she could frame a reply the hallway was abruptly flooded with light and Rafe stood by the kitchen doorway.' Kim drew in a sharp breath at this deliberate attempt to remove Adam from the premises and glared at Rafe indignantly. his eyes glittering with an icy kind of anger of his own. How dared he presume to tell Adam when he should leave! He might be in charge of the house with his parents away.' Kim shot back haughtily.' and. ' I wasn't aware that I had. but I guessed you must have been dispensing medication somewhere. Rafe turned slowly. her eyes flashing blue fire. ' I don't have torrid little affairs!' ' No? Well. but he certainly wasn't in charge of her friends! Adam obviously didn't see it that way. he turned and marched back into the kitchen. ' Mona knew Adam was calling to see me tonight. he was the first to break the silence. for.processtext. immediately the door had closed. Rafe evidently had no more to say on the matter. you'd have us believe that the great Rafe O'SulIivan doesn't even kiss his girl friends goodnight!' she flung at him scornfully. 'Look who's talking! I bet you wouldn't have been so averse to the idea if I'd agreed to go with you on the night of the dance. while we're on the subject. I suppose you know best what you call them.' he returned softly. saying. for he acknowledged the hint with a wide grin.' she continued coldly. a thunderous seowl slowly descending over his face replacing the momentary look of surprise when he had first seen them. ' Not too bad at the moment. but her eyes flashed defiance as she stood her ground at Adam's side. kindly do it elsewhere!' ' Motel? Make love?' gasped Kim furiously. dangerously. ' Goodnight. intent on having her say. Lousy night for it?' Suddenly the scowl changed to a bland expression.' but before Kim knew what he was about he had grasped her by the shoulders. angrily.

Inside she bent her head to the towel rail and. Did you honestly think that a little ignoramus from the city like you could change the course of things?' her brain gibed again. 'And for saying you had no right to tell him when to leave— you had every right. His cool indifferent sounding. Her unsteady fingers turned the taps on over the pale coffee-coloured enamel wash-basin and she scrubbed at her face with a soapy sponge with more energy than was necessary to remove the amount of make-up that she had applied earlier that evening. With eyes downcast. Her own personal form of masochism? she mused wryly. ' You've known all along that he's got a " love 'em and leave 'em " reputation. She hesitated. and then moved onwards. when she heard an exasperated. but she couldn't help it.' She took in a large breath. She could hear Rafe moving around in the kitchen when she turned towards her bedroom. What was the matter with her? Anyone would believe she was in love with Rafe. although she tried desperately to stop them. faltered. only to stop after a few steps had been taken. she quietly opened the bathroom door and stepped into the deserted hallway. One thing was for certain—she wasn't going to give Rafe the satisfaction of having made her cry! She opened her mouth to pithily condemn his last fallacious remark but then closed it again without having uttered a word. causing her mind to reel at this devastating revelation. what was the use? He had no intention of changing his mind regarding her behaviour—let him think what he liked! She would never see him again after the next week or so—what did it matter to her? This had the effect of making her feel more despondent than ever.html The disparaging head-to-toe scrutiny that followed this statement had tears of injustice and frustration biting at her eyelids and she blinked hard to keep them at bay. she swung out of the doorway and hurried down the hall and into the bathroom. This wasn't going to be easy. no matter what he thought of her. Kim stammered on. but. 'Damn!' issuing forth. Sweeping the damp curls back from her face. 'What for?' didn't make her feel any better. Her shoulders slumped dejectedly. and with one last resentful glance at the tall man before her. But by the time she had concluded her ablution she felt distinctly better and more in command of her emotions At least her reflection told her that she didn't look quite so taut and strained as she had. ' For—for not t-telling you that Adam w-would be coming tonight. The sobs made her throat sore and with a determined gesture she threw back her head and brushed her fingers across wet cheeks impatiently.Generated by ABC Amber LIT Converter. the way she vibrated to every nuance in the man's voice and actions! A slow drumming of shock coursed through her body. Rafe's eyes swept over her inscrutably when he saw her standing beside the table and Kim found herself apologising waveringly before she was even aware of what she had intended to say. She looked at her own reflection in the wide wall mirror with distaste—the wide shimmering tear-stained eyes. Squaring her shoulders valiantly. she entered the kitchen and caught hold of the back of one of the chairs for support.' she conceded the trembling lips. 'That you were the one Rafe would give up his freedom for? That's a laugh!' She shut her eyes tight in an endeavour to block out her agonising thoughts. . she found she wanted to spend as much time as was possible in his company before the time came for her to leave.processtext. slowly at first and then more quickly after their initial success. apparently absorbed in the chair beneath her hand. Oh. Perhaps having admitted to herself that she loved Rafe made the difference. reversed the direction in which she was heading. What a fool she had been not to have realised—what a stupid fool! Of course she was in love with him! ' And where now is that cool restraint of yours that Patsy used to joke about?' her mind jeered at the pale-faced girl in the mirror. and after one deep shuddering sigh had left her lips found her breathing returning to normal and her subconscious subsided to a low rumbling in the fathomless reaches of her psyche. her damp cheeks drained of all colour. the threatening tears began to fall. http://www. She knew she should have left well enough alone.

ladling golden and white eggs next to the tomatoes. and her fingers tightened on the unsuspecting chair.. ' Okay. ' How did it go tonight?' she asked tentatively. I won't forget it. that's a shame!' ' Just one of those things. ' And I hope it chokes you!' she added as a parting shot while she stormed down the hall and into the bedroom she shared with Mona. .com/abclit... She glared at him heatedly. ' Isn't there anything you can do?' she asked innocently.' Rafe wheeled to face her. I guess.' she shouted over one shoulder. Soon Kim had the steak hissing gently under the griller and the eggs ready to break into the frypan.' A finger absently traced around the rim of the mug. that's for sure!' ' Well. I only meant. a spark of anger showing in their depths. a hand running wearily through tousled black hair.' Yes. like a good little girl?' ' ' Because I thought I might be able to help.processtext. ' Oh.' Rafe exploded irritably.. I. She cut some tomatoes into wedges and began slicing the bread. what did you think I'd been doing? Romping in the hayloft?' 'There's no need to be sarcastic! I didn't mean you hadn't.' At this uncaring answer her eyes flashed upwards.' A wry smile crossed his mouth.. Fred left it too late before ringing me—didn't want to call me out unnecessarily in the rain. ' No.. The foal suffocated and now the mare's extremely weak as well.' Kim paused in the act of breaking the second egg and her eyes darkened with pity and concern. ' No good. Rafe had his back to her as he extracted a large.' He lifted wide shoulders. be my guest..' and moved away from the bench with his mug of coffee in one hand and pulled out a chair to sit at the table. forget it!' Kim broke off to slap the sizzling steak on to the platter and thumped it down on the table in front of him. http://www.Generated by ABC Amber LIT Converter. ' what the hell do you think I've been doing all night? Not necking in dark corners.html ' Forget it.' Do you really want to?' Kim answered quietly but clearly. With a chanced enquiring look at Rafe. Kim. So why don't you take yourself off to bed. 'Look. ' For God's sake. 'The foal died and it's quite on the cards that we'll lose the dam as well. ' And you don't have to start on that again either! I've heard all I want to from you on that subject for one night!' ' Well. oh.' she began steadily. you don't have to snap my head off. to be supplanted by a resigned sigh. succulent steak from the fridge and Kim mentally marked a spot in the middle of his broad back where she would have liked to score a bulls-eye if only there had been something at hand to be thrown. It's also late and I'm in no mood for carefully polite conversations.' Kim turned the steak and placed the tomatoes ready on the platter. 'I'm tired and I'm hungry.

How was she to know there wasn't anything else to be done for the mare? Rafe knew better than anyone just how little she knew about animals! Her eyes strayed across her handbag lying on the end of the bed and she rushed towards it and extracted a long envelope. With it clutched in her hand she hurried out of the bedroom and marched belligerently into the kitchen. and was rewarded by an annoying roar of laughter echoing after her. she presented herself in the kitchen. Kim slept very badly that night. ' Why. ' Perhaps that will improve your disposition!' she stormed at him before flouncing back down the hall. She looked across at the other bed and saw that Mona was evidently up and dressed.' Kim put forward in an attempt to ward off any questions that might ensue as to why she hadn't. CHAPTER VIII When Kim at last awoke the next day it was to find the sun streaming into the bedroom through the chinks in the Venetian blinds with a strength that surprised her and discounting the idea that the preceding days had been so overcast and full of rain. tossing and turning restlessly until the early hours of the morning when she finally fell into a dreamless sleep. ' There!' She slammed the envelope on to the table next to an inexpectant Rafe.. Kim hurriedly got to her feet and padded over to the dresser to pick up her watch. http://www. washed and dressed in dark brown flared slacks with a lemon and white motif cotton top.html She leant back against the closed door breathing swiftly.' she admitted with rueful recollection. ' Hi. did you sleep well?' And before giving Kim a chance to answer. greeted her with an engaging smile. 'And Heavens. Of all the.Generated by ABC Amber LIT Converter. Mona. and dressed similarly to Kim in flared jeans and striped top..processtext. busily laying the table. judging by the frilly shortie pyjamas tossed carelessly on to the crumpled bedclothes. ' Were you still up when Rate arrived home?' 'Actually. what happened?' she wanted to know with eager curiosity. ' Don't tell me you had words?' . her fingers ringing an angry tattoo against the smooth wood. I was up when Rafe arrived. Half an hour later. I didn't sleep all that well—perhaps it was the different bed. was that really the time? She pulled open a drawer and began pulling out clothes. Mona perceived the change in her tone of voice immediately.

.' and I hardly think they would appreciate returning from their trip to find an unknown female ensconced in their home for an indeterminate period. seemed to be completely taken up by the studied survey of his dusty stock boots. You could stay here with us.. heading for the cutlery drawer. 'There's plenty of room. What will you do now?' ' Go back to Sydney.Generated by ABC Amber LIT Converter. ' She found that other will of Joe's and now she'll have to leave. no! That means you don't own the place any more. so I disregarded that fact entirely—to my own detriment as it turns out. but I don't think it would work out quite so well as you expect. then?' was the next doleful question.' ' Oh. ' Well! Fancy that.' speculated Mona with a happy grin. ' I know.processtext. but hadn't that been a swiftly covered grin that had disturbed Rick's mouth a moment before he had lowered his head? Her lips parted in dismay.' Mona thoughtfully placed the cups and saucers on the table.' replied Kim with a light shrug. She looked towards him covertly. ' I hope you ended by kissing and making up.' Not that one they couldn't find? The one that left the property to Rafe?' ' The very same.?' Her face was puzzled for a moment. but she didn't voice them aloud. There was no opportunity for Kim to reply before the twins and Rick followed each other into the room. I threw Joe Phillips' new will down in front of him and stormed out of the room. that's tough luck.html ' And please don't you remind me of it. then her face cleared. Kim had her doubts about that. Kim.' were Raoul and Ruy's contributions to the conversation. and you do seem to fit in so But I just wanted to prove how independent and adventuresome I was. Instead she managed to grin and say lightly.' After last night's brush with Rafe. 'Who's leaving? For where?' were Rick's first thoughts. She had thought of Rick as a friend—now it seemed that he .' and at Kim's affirmative nod. ' Gee. Mona.' Mona glanced at her brothers in turn and grimaced dramatically. I am sorry. you were getting on so good too. as realisation came. because I was warned that another will had been made.' and ' What a pity.' she suggested brightly. and began placing the knives and forks around the table. ' Not after all the trouble you must have taken to come up here to live. Kim. then.' including at least one other member of the family.' ' I've nobody to blame but myself. ' Not exactly.' replied Kim with feeling. I suppose. http://www. looking from one to the other of the girls. and all that. It's not fair!' she repeated her previous protestation. but Kim noticed that Rick had made no comment whatsoever. ' Oh. 'But that's not fair!' protested Mona with the fervour of her youth.' ' When will you be leaving.' ' Good for you!' cheered Mona. but his attention. Thanks all the same. Her eyes narrowed—she wasn't sure. 'I rather think your parents might have something to say about that idea. But what new will are you talking about. as he leant back against the cupboard. ' I wish I'd seen it.' Kim's expression was wry. 'Kim is—for Sydney.

the water gets away quicker. but she merely looked down her nose at him coolly and turned her back.. ' The creek drops a lot faster than the river.' 'We're on the coastal side of the catchment area.' she trailed off.' explained Rick. enthusiastically informative. This time it would appear her mother had been right! When Rafe came in for breakfast his eyes flicked across Kim with an amused look. ' I was just thinking. seeing to the eggs. Mona was aghast at the idea and said so in no uncertain terms. as if remembering her outburst of the night before. that's right. hut she refused to give him the satisfaction of facing him and studiedly bent to her task of slicing the bread. We had twenty-seven inches of rain in twenty-four hours.' was Rafe's short reply. I mean.' she objected. ' Rafe! Kim wants to leave right away!' . if you wouldn't mind sending them on once you're able to get into the house again . http://www. She was pleased when the men had finished their breakfast and disappeared outside. ' You should have been here last year. but her thoughts were really elsewhere. Beware of acting on impulse.. but blowed if she would look at him while he did it! For the rest of the meal the conversation centred around the flood and how soon life in Lismore would return to normal. 'Did they say on the radio this morning what time they expect the river to peak?' Rick enquired of Mona as he polished off steak and eggs with an amazing promptness. ' Yes. ' We should be able to start rnopping-up operations tomorrow. Mona nodded and swallowed a mouthful of bacon before answering.. it should be around three or four this afternoon.. The river came up so fast it caught everybody on the hop. Besides. Oh. of course. Whilst doing the dishes with Mona ideas kept chasing each other through her mind and finally Kim plucked up the courage to voice one of them. ' How long before the creek goes down?' she enquired quietly. of nobody in particular.' A figure passed the open window of the kitchen and she called out loudly. and Kim had the clear feeling that he was watching for her reaction as he said it. ' so.processtext. playing with the food on her plate. She knew it for certain now—she should never have left Sydney—she should have accepted Rafe's offer for the property when he first made it— but she had been so certain she was doing the right thing. putting down the plate she had been washing to give greater emphasis to her words. boy! That was some flood. He could gloat if he wanted to. pouring milk into the bowl of cereal in front of trying hard to appear casual. ' Umm. ' that I might just as well get going straight away.html too would be pleased to see the last of her. ' Is it true that Kim found Joe's last will?' asked Ruy some time later. ' you've only just arrived. bacon and steak as though he wasn't there.' Kim looked duly horrified. She didn't feel much like eating and it was an effort to appear as if the discovery of the will had made little difference to her. Raoul picked up the question.' Kim nodded thoughtfully. uneasily wondering what Mona would think of her reasons for such a suggestion. Also the creek doesn't collect as much as the river either.' he replied cheerfully. There's not really all that much of my gear left down at the house.Generated by ABC Amber LIT Converter. her mother had always advised. ' You can't go yet.' She turned to Kim.' she began slowly.

' she challenged him. Kim—they're under water.Generated by ABC Amber LIT Converter. ' That's only a formality. She opened her mouth to deliver a withering retort to this uncalled for piece of perverseness. ' What's the hurry?' he queried in a soft voice. you don't. She had wanted to present Rafe with an almost fait accompli —her bags all packed and everything settled. and making Kim's temper rise. Typical! ' And are you going to explain to him just how you'll be leaving?' he now asked. although Mona did go a little further. ' There's nothing to keep me here now.' Kim flared angrily.' she .' he pointed out evenly with a trace of a smile lurking at the corners of his mouth. ' I haven't even passed the will on to my solicitor yet.' she came back promptly. an enigmatic look crossing his face. and that'll only get you into the Pacific Ocean. She spread her hands wide. It was none of Rafe's business what she did regarding Adam. 'I don't think—I don't understand you. ' No.' he returned with infuriating calm. 'Nope!' was Rafe's unfeeling and unhelpful reply. ' I will not.' she faltered.' You can't use the Pacific Highway' because it's cut north and south of Lismore.' she returned quickly and could have kicked herself for allowing the slightly bitter note to enter her words. but before she could get the words out Mona broke her silence to expose the logic behind her brother's announcements.' agreed Rafe. The only way is east. and you know it!' ' And what about Adam? Are you going to leave him to find out that you've flown in his own sweet time?' ' I'll ring him and explain. and only tell him as she walked out through the door. Legally the property's still yours. ' Surely there must be some way out?' she pleaded hopefully. This wasn't how she had planned it at all. http://www. A frown creased her forehead and she eyed the man in front of her warily. 'The' she explained with a telling grin. When he came into the kitchen with a long lithe stride. taking in her pale face with narrowed watchful eyes.html Kim sagged visibly. He'd only mentioned Adam in the first place so he could place another obstacle in her road. This had the effect of stopping Kim in her tracks.processtext. ' But you can forget all about leaving in any case. with a decided smile curving his lips. She looked from one to the other in dismay. she felt her courage beginning to desert her and it was only with a tremendous effort that she was able to look at him squarely. her head held high. That was something she had never even considered.' These were statements Kim did understand. ' Not this time you can't. and you can't go west because you can't get through Lismore. ' I have my own transport and I can please myself when I leave.

She blinked hard to steady her vision and with creditable calm drew deeply on her cigarette. and walk in through the front door. ' Looks like you're here to stay—at least for a few days yet. Bounty was less restrained. Kim sighed for what she had lost and extracted a cigarette from her bag in the car.html ended on a laugh. It was nearly too much to credit that she couldn't drive her car down to the house as she had many times before. Let's go and see what the water's done to our home. potholed roadway and the little car was liberally coated with red mud by the time they had climbed the crest overlooking Kim's small homestead. Ruefully removing the dirty paw marks from the leather. Kim decided to drive down the track and have a look at her short-lived home. as his next words proved. He flew towards them uttering sharp cries in an endeavour to produce a startling effect. shall we?' she enquired brightly and was rewarded by a sticky tongue happily slurping over her fingers in agreement. and returned to the front of the car where she hoisted herself up on to the wing. and if it had been in other circumstances she possibly would have done. lit it. That afternoon Mona wanted to wash her hair and. for he was snuffling his nose deep in the grass exploratively and chasing unsuspecting birds with shrill excited barks. but he was doomed to disappointment. She shook her head to stabilise her although it did enable her to succeed in controlling her emotions to the extent where she could view his retreating back as he headed for the door with only the strong desire to poke out her tongue at him. resting her feet on the bumper bar. Except that that lake wasn't supposed to be there. Rafe eased himself . She parked the car by the gateway and. even though the once ferocious waters were now still and shining in the clean air. the sun was bitingly warm on her shoulders. stood silently viewing the scene. it was no use pretending—the lake was there. It was also obvious from the look on his face that this didn't afford him any worries in the slightest. The first intimation she had that they were not alone was the soft whinny of an approaching horse and.processtext. This idea almost made her laugh. ' Come on. for Jamie completely ignored him with the supercilious attitude of the well trained stock horse and came to stand beside the car in quiet acquiescence.' he drove home his victory with a lazy smile and a mocking inclination of his dark head which had Kim clenching her fists in an effort to refrain from lashing out at him. left him in no doubts that she considered him to be the personal perpetrator of these distressing hindrances. but at the moment she had more disquieting things to cope with and she allowed the childish urge to pass.' and she would be leaving the area for good in a few days! Bounty couldn't have cared less. getting out. swivelling around quickly. Kim seated herself behind the wheel and rumpled Bounty's ears affectionately. The whole scene was almost unbelievable. and gazed out a little blurry-eyed over the restful valley. As she opened the car door a muddy Bounty careered around the corner of the house and. It" took some time for the Mini to safely negotiate the water-filled. The sky was a clear azure with hardly cloud in sight. impulsively. sweetheart. she saw Rafe and Jamie moving slowly towards them across the paddock.Generated by ABC Amber LIT Converter.' You're well and truly stuck!' The look Kim cast in Rafe's direction as the full impact of Mona's information hit her. As if he could read her thoughts a dancing gleam appeared in Rafe's eyes but he shook his head slightly in a warning that did nothing for the state of Kim's temper. the house wasn't hers any longer. feller. without waiting to be asked. and the rest of her cattle were grazing peacefully in the long green grass. bounded across the seats to sit panting expectantly on the floor. http://www. It was hard to believe that only yesterday morning she had been living in that small pathetic-looking house down there which was now sitting in the middle of a dirty-looking lake.

isn't it?' he remarked conversationally.' Not in its present form. sweetheart!' Did he have to be so blunt about it? Kim knew the hurt she was experiencing at his words showed plainly in her but she thought she'd carried it off quite well. and. she could picture their black-haired children laughing and playing in the waterhole. some poor unsuspecting girl from the city should inherit the property. ' One was enough. she won't find it quite so—so overwhelmingly different from what she's been used to. but she hoped that she had hidden the expression successfully before he had seen it. then.' Of course he and Beth wouldn't want the old homestead as a blot on their scenic panorama. I can vouch for that!' Rafe laughed down at her tauntingly. I became quite attached to the old place. http://www. ' I hope you have ail the mod cons installed so that if. turned her head away again and jumped to the ground where she stubbed out her cigarette firmly. instead of a practical one. ' Just wondering. ' Somebody built with an aesthetic eye.' she excused herself embarrassedly. It's well above flood level and you get a better view from that side. no. I suppose. ' Because I want to build a house on that rise on the far side of the creek—near the stand of eucalyptus. and followed the direction Kim's eyes had taken to the little house. 'I'm sorry.' 'There won't be another city girl inheriting. .' ' I didn't say that—I asked you why you wanted to know. ' Why not? What's going to stop it?' 'The house not being there will stop it. in the far distant future. keeping her eyes trained on the view before her.' ' But not to the creek?' A reluctant smile touched her mouth and she shook her head again. it won't get another opportunity to invade that house. 'Why?* The question took her by surprise and she turned to look at him quickly.' ' Well. Kim nodded her head slowly. ' What will you do with the place?' she forced herself to ask as carelessly as possible. Pretty spot.' It's none of my business. just as rapidly. I'll be making arrangements to have it demolished.html forward in the saddle. lit it. I didn't mean to pry. causing Kim to turn again and this time hold his gaze with a puzzled one of her own. Kim decided gloomily. She didn't for one second doubt that they'd be black-haired—it was an automatic assumption! She closed her eyes hard to shut out the happy scene—the only thing she could be thankful for was the fact that she wouldn't have to be there to witness it! It was a strain for her to reply in a light voice.' Rafe prompted softly.' Why?' she just had to ask. even now.' ' Oh!' She dragged her eyes away to concentrate on Bounty's antics when he uncovered a grasshopper and couldn't decide what to make of it.Generated by ABC Amber LIT Converter.processtext.' were the next determined words. took out a cigarette of his own. She lifted her shoulders and pulled at a straying lock of hair that was being blown by the gentle breeze.

' she offered a little perplexedly. ' With your experience of all matters rural. This was going to be worse than even she had anticipated! .' she muttered defensively. ' I—um—I've never been on a horse before.' ' And they cost money. We've settled that one—you didn't have the money to be able to afford to ride. why not? I'm not planning to abduct you!' ' In that case. Before she could open the car door. I'll have to give it a' she immediately fired back and gesturing to the surrounding countryside. Rafe's head tilted to one side engagingly. then with an encouraging smile held out a lean. 'The track's too muddy and the grass too slippery. ' I can follow you in the car. Rafe bent and rubbed out his cigarette on the sole of his stock boot. He evidently wasn't going to take no for an answer. ' What is it that you're afraid of? The horse—or me?' For a second a flash of anger crossed her eyes that he should dare to guess at her fears. ' but I didn't have a place like this to learn.' ' There are riding schools.' Kim suddenly capitulated sarcastically. that was a foregone conclusion. but she'll never climb back up again until the ground's drier. Rafe shook his head discouragingly. bronzed hand towards her. she was pulled up and seated in front of him. So are you coming with me now.html With a low whistle she called Bounty over to the car. ready to return to Mona. This didn't help her nervousness at all and she drew in a deep breath to sit rigidly straight with her hands gripping clumps of Jamie's mane and her eyes glued to a spot somewhere between the horse's ears. I'll come. and something very like fear showed in her worried expression. won't I?' ‘ I don't see why—Jamie can easily carry two down there and back again. 'It's all right for you. ' Do you want to come down with me and have a closer look?' he asked.' Just the idea of being on a horse had Kim backing nervously away.' ' In that case. His left arm encircled her waist securely and she could feel the warmth of his chest against her back.Generated by ABC Amber LIT Converter. or not?' 'No!' One hard hand slapped down on to a muscular thigh.' ' Okay. http://www. You'll probably get her down okay. so she might as well make the best of it and hope her fears wouldn't be too much in evidence. while added to that came the thought of the calamitous effect on her nerves that such a close proximity to Rafe would provoke. Placing one foot in the now empty stirrup iron. ' For God's sake. and with one hand held in a strong grasp.' he laughed. okay. She frowned and looked around her as if expecting someone else to materialise.

' she mumbled. Come clean. Rafe swiftly pulled the horse to a halt. ' Well.' then promptly proceeded to wonder if she had only said it in self-defence after his last remark. you're not there yet. but Rafe's arm kept her firmly in place.' she offered impudently. and—and you take them so much for granted. I'd better get down and walk back.processtext. Kim felt her heart start its erratic thumping against her ribs and her muscles beginning to go limp.' 'I don't think I'll have much use for riding once I'm back in 'What made you gasp like that?' Now that Jamie was at a standstill she was annoyed for allowing her cowardice to show.' he pointed out with an understanding smile. her confidence was returning. 'What's wrong?' he demanded. ' And is that also the reason you're sitting here as tense and straight as a prisoner awaiting the verdict?' 'I am not!' she lied scornfully. eh?' The thread of amusement in his voice made Kim's temper rise and.' she decided.' she denied stormily. He laughed. moving restlessly under his close scrutiny. 'Nice thought.' he admonished while he tipped her face to his with a finger under her chin. sweetheart. without quite knowing what she was going to say.' With him sitting so close and his face only inches from her own. ' If you keep looking at me like that. * Nothing's wrong. She bent her head dejectedly. his breath warm against her smooth cheek. 'There's nothing wrong.' Rafe's voice when he replied to that statement was almost brusque. sweetheart—what's troubling you?' She lowered her head to look at him provokingly through her lashes.' ' Why wouldn't we? We've been raised with them. 'Aren't you?' was his laconic reply. young . with Jamie still at rest. but you're still evading the question.html Rafe clicked Jamie into action and Kim's hands gripped even tighter to the mane and she closed her eyes apprehensively. At that moment Jamie broke into a canter and she couldn't suppress the audible gasp of pure fright that escaped her.' Kim came back to the matter in hand with a start and. She waited for the inevitable laughter she expected her childish terror to arouse. ' Maybe it's your so charming presence making me nervous. little one. I refuse to accept responsibility for the consequences. ' I've decided not to go down. ' But the best way to overcome your fears would be to learn to ride.Generated by ABC Amber LIT Converter. but it never came. ' Whoa there! Not so fast. 'But you are evading the issue. watching her gently. that's all!' ' Is that so?' he grinned lazily. ' Why didn't you say so before? I did ask you. her blue eyes daring him to prove otherwise. and made to slip from Jamie's back. ' Now just what's wrong with you. ' I'm frightened of horses. blurted out the truth. http://www. ' it's just me. until he murmured huskily. Instead his green eyes darkened softly.' ' Because I know it's stupid—but I can't help it.

. was it?' ' No. and catching one of her hands in his he pulled her along with him beside the water. so you may as well make full use of the time you have left. As Rafe had said. ' Why can't you tell me now?' ' Because I don't want to. I suspect I'd have an entirely different opinion if I had to sit up there on my own.processtext. ' Remind me to tell you some time. his hands still touching her around the waist.' 'Oh!' She moved one shoulder huffily. by the time they had reached the water's edge. now that she was free. ' Yours—because you're the present occupant. I don't expect I'll still be here when you finally get around to letting everyone in on the secret.' she replied in kind.' A teasing smile entered his eyes that had her heart turning somersaults. ' That wasn't too bad. that was only due to the extreme closeness of the man on the horse with her.' ' Would you? But then you don't know the reason for my having said that. 'You'll be here. I would have thought you'd be more anxious than you are to claim ownership. But. ' Come on.' Kim admitted slowly.' and with that she had to be satisfied. http://www. I'll have you you know. ' Of course. so with a resigned breath she let out a sigh and relaxed against the broad frame behind her. she found herself reluctant to leave her newly secure position until Rafe lifted her down and stood looking at her. .' Let's have a truce and call it ours. but perhaps. then she would do so. do you?' He grinned down at her teasingly. They would make another link in the chain of memories that she had already collected during her stay on the north coast..' she tossed him a carefree grin.' I think I quite liked it. ' in fact. This time when Jamie began to canter she knew herself to be nearly liking the sensation. whatever the reason.' She couldn't doubt it. urging.' 'Maybe. she mused wryly. He gave a sigh of mock exasperation.?' he teased quietly.' was all that Rafe would vouchsafe in answer. and mine—because I'm the future owner. shall we?' he suggested dryly. you'd find it much easier. let's have a look round this property of yours. eyes gleaming wickedly. to be taken out in the years to come and inspected with loving remembrance. 'In that case. ' After your "Thank God " when I said I'd found the new will. ' If you leant back against me and stopped holding yourself as taut as a drumstick.' she had to tell him.Generated by ABC Amber LIT Converter.' ' Only think . and it is yours. Will that satisfy you?' ' But it wasn't really mine.' ' Yours!’ she corrected immediately. she might as well make full use of the days left to her.html lady. and if that meant taking pleasure from his company when she had it.' Kim's curiosity was aroused. That look was enough to send her colour high and with an unsure laugh she pulled away from his hold to stand in safety some feet away.' Rafe just laughed and said. ' I'm not that easily won over to riding.

'you threw yourself off. She dropped the reins and made a grab for the pommel.. you will! You're going to get right back on Jamie and finish riding him back to your car. still holding her high in his arms. I was not. kicked her feet free of the stirrups. ' You didn't fall off. He was right.' She went wide-eyed at the thought and began struggling to get down. but it didn't work out that way and she ended by tumbling ignominiously into Rate's arms as he rushed forward to catch her. Rafe! You knew I'd be scared on my own. Having felt his load disappear in mid-stride. intending to slide gracefully from Jamie's back. Jamie came to an abrupt halt of his own accord. ' and I'll never get on another horse again in my life.' Kim came back reproachfully. All would have been well had she not chanced to turn once more to speak to Rafe and found that he wasn't directly behind her as expected but was walking slightly to the rear of the horse. You frightened yourself. they moved off at a decorous pace with Bounty racing ahead of them. Kim didn't feel quite so secure for Rafe was further away from her and once. Not that it would have made much difference since Rafe intended pulling the place down. not being able to sense him near. She panicked. although they didn't take kindly to Bounty's attempts at herding. even if it's only to prove to yourself that you can do it and that there's nothing to be scared of. .processtext. and the stirrups were shortened appropriately. so it wasn't as if you couldn't manage on your own. she had turned her head quickly to glance behind. but turned back again with her fears subsiding—he was still there! A few more minutes at the gentle rocking pace and she began to relax a little more and enjoy herself when she found she didn't have to concentrate quite so hard on what she was doing. This time. facing him defiantly.' she impressed on him resolutely.' 'You were scared at the thought of being on your own. When the time came for them to leave Rafe suggested that Kim take the saddle and the reins this time. yes. I left you some two hundred yards back.' he laughed down into her indignant face. but considered that while he was there with her she would be safe enough. but Kim wasn't going to admit it meekly.what he intended. he had gripped her around the waist with both hands and literally tossed her on to Jamie's back. ' Oh. and she threw her arms around his neck desperately. 'You beast. albeit reluctantly. still laughing as he set her down on her feet. and checking as far as they were able from such a distance that the house had suffered no structural damage. ' I think you will!' and before she could guess .' amended Rafe with a shake of his head. seeing that the hens were faring well. however.' I was scared of being on my own..' ' I will not!' stated Kim categorically with her hands on her hips.' she ended dramatically.' ' No. The answer was just as unequivocal. I knew I'd fall off if you left me on my own.' he corrected her. while he positioned himself behind her. She agreed.Generated by ABC Amber LIT Converter. 'What did you do that for?' Rafe asked with a grin.html They spent the best part of an hour looking over the Once he had demonstrated how the reins should be held and the basic instructions had been given. ' Two hundred yards back. http://www. 'You were doing nicely as you were. but it would make the removal of the rest of Kim's possessions much easier if the building was still safe to enter.

thrust her feet into the stirrups. With such a crowd in the kitchen she. She was still smiling to herself when she drove up to the O'Sullivan home and let Bounty out of the car. while the three left in the kitchen made short work of the washing up and clearing away. don't I?' ' You think so?' She nodded positively and grinned back mischievously. even to city dwellers.processtext. Your time is coming. You might find future encounters very different— after all. As soon as dinner was finished Raoul departed quickly before any more quips could be thrown at him. ' If I remember correctly. Rafe was drawing closer by now. With the bright lights and chatter she couldn't have felt more safe and secure from retribution. so she opened the car door for Bounty. and Rafe and Rick vanished into the study armed with sheafs of official-looking papers and documents. aren't we?' he laughed down at her. by the time she reached the boundary gate. that lone animals are easy prey for wolves and such. it was some minutes before she fully realised that. Miss Forsythe. http://www.' Kim knew he was referring to the night of the dance and pulled an expressive face. instead of it always being the other way around. Kim and Mona were still discussing what they would prepare for a dessert that evening when the men finally traipsed into the kitchen once the milking had been done and all the animals fed. . 'You'll pay dearly for that one. she had forgotten to be frightened of the horse and. and heeled Jamie forward into a trot. For once she had managed to score off Rafe. ' I hardly think it's fair to bring up the past. Under cover of the banter Rafe moved next to Kim and bent his head close to hers. she was actually relishing her ride with the breeze in her hair. without who had kept pace with the horse all the way up the slope. Raoul came in for much ragging as he intended visiting one of their neighbours' daughters that night and Mona left Kim's side to join in the general fun. Still muttering dire imprecations against Rafe. she gathered in the reins. Mr O'Sullivan. She gave a laugh of sheer pleasure and rounded the corner of the house heading for the kitchen. little cat. I know what to expect now. you weren't quite so sure of yourself the last time we put it to the test. but before getting in herself she gave Rafe an exaggeratedly cheeky curtsy. I don't intend straying from the herd—it's a well known fact.' he told her silkily. ' I haven't forgotten your disrespectful exit of this afternoon. 'I'll be ready and waiting any time you like to try.html Kim's temper soared at this high-handed treatment and.Generated by ABC Amber LIT Converter. or could.' ' Very confident amongst a crowd and from a safe distance.' Rafe flicked a long finger towards the end of her straight little nose. In the noisy crowded room she felt safe enough to give as good as she got. but Kim had no intention of waiting around for his arrival.' he whispered with a grin. She gave an excited laugh as she dismounted —normally this time—and tied Jamie to the gatepost. in her anger. be called upon to account for her provoking words. ' Besides. She even plucked up enough courage to give the horse a few gentle pats on his satin-smooth neck and was treated to a warm nose nuzzling into her shoulder.was full of confidence and found it hard to imagine that she would.

' Or did you.' he laughed again. ' you can look after your own interests. I'm buying out of this one!' The words didn't make much sense to Kim and she jumped guiltily when she realised she had been eavesdropping and quickly knocked loudly on the door before the two inside had time to start speaking again. I only came to tell you that Rose and Hugh have arrived and Rose wanted to know if you two were going to join us.. and after a meaningful glance at Rafe he started down towards the now muted conversation to be heard issuing from the kitchen. ' Here I am. looking forward to an evening of scintillating and heady conversation. How exhilarating! It fair boggles the mind!' She turned to Kim with a look of mock seriousness. or Rick's voice to be more exact. http://www. and I couldn't stall any longer. Rafe and Rick are in the study going over the agricultural census forms.processtext. '. ' Go and drag those two out of their huddle. It was Rick who answered." to a request for them to join the family fun.' piped up Mona with an infectious grin. still laughing. ' Come on in. You're more likely to have success in that regard than any of us. she's now got one gigantic water inlet. ' I asked so many inane questions I'm sure Adam thought I'd gone completely off my ' the creek!' ' In fact. actually. ' And just how many acres did you sow to sunflower seeds this year. ' Hi. but on her arrival she found the door slightly ajar and could hear quite plainly the voices coming from inside. Rather a case of " now you see it—now you don't.' ' Wouldn't you know it?' Rose's face look on a wry grimace. and no property. Kim. Next time.. ' though it wouldn't have very regular hours for use." but when it's there. Rick. Nobody stands on ceremony round here. we'll be right out. Greetings disposed of.' ' Okay. .' Ruy added his thoughts on the matter.' Rick started laughing. it's a beauty!' It was some time before they had all recovered from the hilarious thoughts this idea brought to mind and Rose spoke to Kim again with a grin. ' Raoul's out—gone to see Anita Maxwell—but the rest of us are here holding the fort.' ' That's all right.' and Kim made her way down the hall towards the study. love. ' add one extra water outlet to your property?' ' One large inlet. " When we're finished.' Wouldn't you just love to see official faces if they got a return made out like that? They wouldn't know what was going on!' 'You could always say it was a community project—like a local swimming pool.' was his reply. I'll give it a try. it was left to Mona to answer her sister's enquiry.' answered Kim.Generated by ABC Amber LIT Converter.. is everybody at home?' heralded Rose and Hugh as they entered the room with broad smiles for all present. We'd only get a.html Suddenly the back door opened and. perhaps. my dear?' she asked in an impeccable voice which had the rest of them dissolving into laughter. and those two are filling in forms.' Rose half-closed one eye interrogatingly.' ' Good-ho..

and silently agreeing with her. she didn't intend straying from the herd. had been carried into the lounge where Kim took a seat on the settee between Rick and Ruy as Hugh struck up a conversation with Rafe on the other side of the room. in due course. Why would Rafe have anything to say about her moving to town? There was no disputing that the document she had discovered was legal and that. We lost the foal and thought the dam would follow. How's she making out now?' ' On the mend I'm glad to be able to report. ' What will you do now. 'That's a good idea. I wouldn't want another place that went under so easily. but. 'she's a handy mare. ' All right. ' Rafe can come over in the morning and you can discuss it to your heart's content then. This experience has been quite enough for me.' laughed Rose. http://www.' ' That's good.' he turned back to Rafe. She gave a shaky laugh and her brow cleared and she attempted to pass off her confused musings lightly. sidestepped and hurried on ahead of him after Rick. but it looks as though she's managed to pull through.' then I'm going home right now. ' Well..html When he drew level with her. but she only laughed nervously.' Her threat to her husband was robbed of much of its sting by the smile that accompanied it. Rick had taken great delight in making the remark. As she had already told Rafe once that evening. thanks very much!' ' You could always come back and stay with us..' approved Hugh with an appreciative nod of his head.Generated by ABC Amber LIT Converter. and Kim lifted startled eyes at the interruption to find she was the centre of attention.' Mona offered eagerly once again.. Kim found him scowling good-naturedly at his brother. knowing his wife's aversion to business becoming the sole topic at social outings.' Hugh acquiesced readily. ' I rather think Rafe might have something to say about while one of Rafe's eyebrows crooked enquiringly and Rick went into chuckles of subdued laughter at what was. That'll be soon enough!' she told them mock-authoritatively.. ' What's this I hear about you finding Joe's will? Did you really?' and after Kim's confirmation of the fact.' from a smiling Rick as he sat gazing at the ceiling.' and Mona's. ' the morning will do—but there is one thing I wanted to ask . 'Jack Forbes came out today to begin work on the new dam. . ' I hear Fred had some trouble with his mare the other night. Rafe put out a hand towards Kim.' ' If you two intend talking about work all evening. Her brow creased in deep thought—obviously Rafe wasn't happy with Rick's comment. my love. and chancing a swift look at Rafe from the corner of her eye. a private joke. She was considerably improved when I went over to see her this morning. He . Kim? Move into town?' Under cover of Ruy's. along with the necessary accoutrements. Kim could only presume. Pity about the foal. the property would become Rafe's possession—so what more could he have to say on the matter? ' I didn't think my simple little question would require so much concentration. though.' Rose interrupted rapidly. 'Why didn't I think of that?' Kim picked up a lightly murmured.' In the small lull that followed Rose queried across the space between them to Kim. just as obviously.processtext. There was safety in numbers! The coffee had already been made and.

'Because you're the first girl I've ever heard him call " sweetheart". 'I think I'll return to the city. that! But you all use endearments casually—you do yourself. then shrugged. love. you mark my words. you two seem to hit it off so badly.' Shut up. ' Nothing to run from. or you might find yourself in trouble tool' ' Who with—you? Or Rafe?' ' Most probably both if you don't watch it. ' Oh.' she told him coolly. She managed a scornful smile. which he accepted and .' She pulled a disbelieving face and accepted a cup of coffee from Rose with appreciative' he taunted flagrantly. admittedly one that faded fast. She gave him a straight look from dark blue eyes. This had Kim swinging her head rapidly to look at the others in the room and she was exceedingly grateful to find that they were busily sorting cups and saucers and paying no attention to Rick and herself. ' That's right. ' In fact.' 'You're imagining things—he's fed up with his usual repertoire. and for no apparent reason. http://www. Rick! How on earth could you think that?' He lowered his voice pseudo-furtively.' ' What? You two on the same side for a change? Now that would be something to see!' he laughed.' she protested at last.' Rick laughed again with clear amusement.processtext.' he goaded. ' there's more to come. that's all! Take my word for it. 'Don't be ridiculous.' he impressed on her. but that's a new one for Rafe. ' and stop stirring. ' Don't you believe it.html ' No. but a smile nonetheless. Rick leant towards her with a wide smile on his good-looking face.Generated by ABC Amber LIT Converter. that I find myself thinking there might be more to you two than meets the eye.' ' Sure we do. Doubtfully Kim looked across at Rafe—she couldn't imagine it either—but Rick hadn't finished yet. You tell him. Rafe surely had all he wanted from her—the property and the stock would soon be his—what else was there to come? A few minutes later they all heard the back door bang closed and the expectant hush that followed was soon broken when Adam walked into the room looking very attractive in dark brown pants with a light cream short-sleeved shirt. deliberately dismissive. I had something he wanted and now that that's been settled.' A challenging glance was issued to Rafe before she continued. Rick. but Rick's words stayed in her mind and she found herself dwelling on them. Rafe will be only too pleased to see the last of me. ' I know what I'm doing there and I'm not likely to show my ignorance quite so readily!' ' Running away?' Rafe retaliated with a sardonic twist to his lips.' She gave a relieved laugh.' she hissed at him with a laugh. for one thing. Kim wrinkled her nose at him and dug her elbow backwards towards his ribs. no. Everyone seemed to begin their greetings at once.

Adam. 'No. and it wasn't a game I was playing either! I am not hankering after the city lights. Kim. http://www.' was Rafe's imperturbable reply. it's not even as if your family are there.' you don't have to tell me.Generated by ABC Amber LIT Converter. couldn't you stay up here. ' You shouldn't try and force Kim to stay against her will. was surprised to see him watching them closely.' How did you find out?' then she grinned and sighed. and she could see his eyes dancing at her predicament. you insist on saying that you are leaving.' At this Rick leant across her and spoke to Adam. I suppose—I don't have all that much choice.' He was quick to reassure her on that point.' she returned spiritedly. as you put it. 'I think I fit in better in the city.processtext. ' I moved on to the property because I . ' What will you do now?' Kim's eyes widened in surprise. ' Take no notice—she was doing real good up there on her own. they can. in the same breath. but I appreciate your offer of help.html returned with friendly smiles before seating himself between Kim and Ruy on the settee. beginning to see her way clear at last. If the truth were known she's no doubt been missing the bright lights for some time and is only too happy to have found a way to get herself back to the city with her pride intact and without appearing to have given up. but live somewhere else? You could get a flat in town—I'll help all I can. his mouth tight and Adam. you've already told me you have no ties in Sydney.' She put a hand apologetically on his arm.' I'm sorry about the job. ' You keep telling us you don't want to leave and yet. so why was he trying to head her into a corner all the time? She couldn't understand him. ' Don't worry about that. I can guess— the grapevine! But as to what I'm going to do—go back to Sydney. ' I hear Rafe's dispossessing you of your property. 'I think it would be wiser if I left.' Kim glared at him exasperatedly—what was up with Rick tonight? He knew she had already made up her mind to leave. but I'll be sorry to see you leave. Both statements can't be true!' 'Yes.' were his first words to Kim once Mona had produced another cup and saucer and provided him with a brimming cup of coffee. ' Because I—because the property—you know very well why!' she all but shouted at him confusedly. Do you have to go? I mean.' She fiddled with the spoon lying on her saucer absently and gave a rueful smile. Rafe's voice cut into her thoughts laconically.' Unconsciously she looked to Rafe and. I'm sure it was only a spur of the moment decision that made her come and now she's tired of the game. You couldn't expect a girl like Kim to incarcerate herself in the country for good. I don't know.' He gave Kim a cool infuriating glance that had her curling her free hand into a tight fist and wishing for some other form of retaliation besides words. Adam. but she protested hotly: ' That's not true. and I had no intention of leaving until I found that will!' 'Then why do so?' came the quietly spoken question which had her wondering if Rafe were trying to get her to commit herself in some way too. After all. She turned hastily back to the man beside her. and she stared at him in some puzzlement. but I think you'll have to look round for another receptionist. while the others watched enthralled at the battle of words going on before their eyes.

' I'm very sorry.' Adam. until she came up with an idea that should quell all questions. ' Well. http://www. is he?' she queried a trifle sarcastically.' ' Well. Too bad if he had heard her—it might do him good if he occasionally found people who weren't willing to accept his word as law. ' if I have to live in town then I'd prefer to do so in the city.' Rick replied with a bland nonchalance. although her mind was revolving in rapid calculations.. Adam. If she had had more time it was one she would. defiantly. He evidently was reading more into their dates than she wanted. ' If that's all that's stopping you from staying.' spoke up Adam on an enthusiastic note. she faced Adam contritely.' had her brain working feverishly to devise a method of politely declining his invitation and still keeping to her original plan of leaving the area altogether.' She paused dramatically and raised eloquent eyes. I really didn't want to have to tell you like this. Adam. ' We've plenty of room since my two brothers have married—you can stay with us! We're even more isolated than you are here and 1 know Mum would be pleased to have another female in the house. but I wasn't sure I'd ever hear from him again. ' Besides.. at the moment. Her look was indifferent.Generated by ABC Amber LIT Converter. I wouldn't say that. you see. we . Kim? Would you like to move in with us?' Kim sat quietly. and saw a muscle twitch at the side of Rafe's mouth which had her wondering whether she had spoken loudly enough for him to overhear. and this one should do the trick.' ' Not to mention yourself. Now she had Adam to contend with as well as Rafe.' chortled Ruy with a knowing grin which brought forth more comments in a similar vein from the others.' and had the pleasure of seeing Rafe's eyes glitter fiercely at her remarks before Adam claimed her attention once more.. at least.. In the immediate talk that followed. have discarded because she didn't like using it. ' That's okay. took her sudden disclosure extremely well and smiled reassuringly. and. eyes wide and stricken in her worried face. Kim... I . then there's no problem. and Rick's grinning aside.' she retorted.' she lifted her hands expressively. I. she was frantically trying to grab at any straw. and he was moving too fast for her liking—apart from the fact that she didn't want him labouring under the wrong impression.html wanted to live in the country. I don't intend to prevail upon him to do anything. ' What'll I do?' she pleaded for advice anxiously. ' I wouldn't want his assistance—there would probably be too many strings attached. but. Adam—I'm very sorry—but. ' I rather think you could prevail upon him to do so. His laughing. he's not likely to help me out of it.' That should stop him. ' But now he's written to me again.' she lifted her chin challengingly.' she didn't consider to be of much assistance. but. This was becoming complicated! Adam was still occupied with sidestepping the laughing sallies being flung at him—Ruy and Mona were having a field day— and Kim bent covertly towards Rick. while Kim sat back aghast at the turn the situation was taking. allowing her words to trail off into any manner of insinuations. she decided triumphantly. ' Now see what you've gone and done.processtext. there's somebody in Sydney.. ' In which case. no doubt. She lowered her eyes selfconsciously and fumbled for words with painstaking deliberation. ' Oh. ' Why not ask Rafe? He got you into this.' she spoke a little ' What about it. we had an argument and broke off our engagement.

processtext. but she had had to produce a satisfactory reason very quickly for returning to Sydney and. she hadn't. 'Why. I don't know. ' Gee. followed by an oblique moue. However. She was still too young to admit to female intuition and firmly believe it. She pulled herself up sharply and answered quickly.' was the younger girl's indecisive reply. wasn't I?' Kim ducked her head swiftly to pretend she was searching for something in her drawer in order that Mona shouldn't see her warmly colouring reflection in the mirror. especially when Rick's muttered.Generated by ABC Amber LIT Converter.t her words. Mona nodded thoughtfully. it's John. http://www. She watched Kim brushing her hair in front of the mirror from her cross-legged position on the end of her bed. but. ' but I daresay we will be once I get home again. 'Just the way Rafe looks at you sometimes. I thought for a while there that you and Rafe might have been keen on each other. that had appeared the most logical for everyone's immediate acceptance.' You know. before giving herself time to think of the consequences.' Kim cringed inwardly at having deceived Adam in such a way and had immediately regretted yet another of her impulsive actions. but Rafe's curt.' laughed Kim nervously.' she breathed dreamily. but it was a name that was so frequently used as an alias that one quite often tended to disbelieve its authenticity. ' I'm not really at the moment. of course. or more like thousands. most important of all. 'His name?' as if she'd never heard of it— Mona's ensuing.John Smith!' she told them brightly. strictly truthful to her story. already imagining herself into the same blissful state and thus unaware of the wary look that cut across Kim's features a. Romance explained and excused many things! It was with a heartfelt sigh of relief that she now collected the empty coffee cups and placed them on the tray.. Kim. and Rick's subdued grin—she already knew his thoughts on the subject—the others appeared to accept the name readily. True. there was no sign of any suspicion on Adam's face.' I hope everything works out well for you— he's a lucky guy. Kim was grateful for this fact—she liked Adam Spencer and had no wish to hurt his feelings unduly. although Ruy couldn't resist a rib or two. 'What's he like?' and Rose's.html should have known someone like you would already have been spoken for. 'How long have you known him. ' Heavens! What gave you that idea?* Her voice was faintly husky at the thought of what Mona might say next. ' Liar!' behind smiling teeth did nothing for her guilty conscience. That her sudden explanation might have done so to some degree she was sorry for. apart from Rafe's dark eyebrows arching sceptically. .' she added for good measure. fancy you being engaged and not telling us. Kim?' were almost easy to answer as she began describing Patsy Abbott's boy-friend. even while she cursed herself for coming up with such a commonplace name. in the heat of the moment. who unfortunately wasn't prepared to go to sleep until she had uncovered the whole romantic story. and especially so in these circumstances. ' Silly. For the remainder of the evening Kim was on tenterhooks lest either Rafe or Rick made some taunting remark concerning her ' fiance ' and was comforted when their guests finally departed and she could seek the solitude of the bedroom she shared with Mona. too quickly. ' Oh. then grinned. there must be hundreds.. Don.' she told Kim confidingly. hearing the conversation turn to more mundane matters as she took the carefully balanced china out to the kitchen. although the indignant look she bestowed upon him in return certainly wasn't faked.' He gave her a rueful look. however. 'What's his name?' had Kim stupidly repeating. of legitimate John Smiths in the world. A Mona.

' She shrugged lightly and grinned again. without mincing words. be nearer the mark! Although— her hand slowed its strokes musingly—Rick had made much the same sort of comment earlier that night. that one like me up here was quite enough. The ' or something' would. for Kim had her expression tightly under control.' Mona accepted the amendment with an understanding smile. finding it hard to put her ideas into exact words.' Kim answered in quelling tones.' corrected Kim with a smile.processtext. ' Oh.html and the way you answer him back. her head to one side as she picked up the hairbrush again and began long calming strokes through her curling hair. That way only lay humiliation and heartbreak! She knew better than either of them just what Rafe's ideas were regarding herself—he'd implied them often enough! That she was an ignorant city slicker playing at farming and expecting the work to be done for her. and the ownership of that had now been resolved once and for all. followed by a hesitant. Once—years ago—he told me that some pet names were only for special people. '" been with " always seems to contain a completely different connotation. but Kim steadfastly refused to put any credence to their beliefs. 'Like I've never seen him look at another girl. ' And how does Rafe look at me?' she enquired with an assumed insouciance. brushing swiftly in time to her jumping heartbeats.' Mona began again. while Kim switched the brush to the other side of her head. but that there was something between them —strange that both Rafe's brother and sister should think that. ' And he calls you "sweetheart" I've heard Her hand picked up speed again. She sat upright excitedly. ' Would he?' Kim padded over to her bed and smiled consolingly at the other girl's puzzled frown. and I can't remember him using that one before. so I doubt that Rafe will be at all sorry to see the last of me!' Mona's face fell disbelievingly. But Mona wasn't prepared to rest until she had put forward all. no matter how hard her heart tried to persuade her to. a flush covering her cheeks. her eyes gleaming. even though her thoughts were racing erratically.. even while her pulse increased its tempo rapidly in anticipation of Mona's reply. http://www.' Kim swung around in amazement. or something. Rick had again said the same thing.' She giggled self-consciously and flung herself flat on the bed.' ' Been out with.. ' Sounds stupid put like that. Not about the way Rafe looked at her. No—the look of enjoyment that Mona had perceived in her brother's eyes had only been at the idea of Kim trying to run the property and eventually in having lost it altogether—nothing more! With a quick shake of her head Kim saw that Mona was still waiting for a satisfactory answer to her suppositions and she sought wildly for a convenient explanation. 'Rafe wouldn't say a thing like that. no doubt. I don't know. ' It was only a thought. Almost as if. as if he enjoyed it.' she protested vigorously. ' Sorry to disappoint you. but I think it's just that he considered I should have a distinct category. that's all. Kim did know the look that Mona was referring to—it was usually called ' the look of love'! But Mona must have been mistaken if she thought that was how Rafe had been looking at her. doesn't it? But you must know what I mean—you've been with more men than I have. ' because he definitely told me. and I'm positive that was one of them!' If she was eagerly awaiting Kim's reaction to this startling piece of information then she was doomed to disappointment. the evidence.Generated by ABC Amber LIT Converter. ' Don't worry . casting these dangerous thoughts aside—the only thing between Rafe and herself had been Joe's property.

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about it, Mona—I'm not,' she lied convincingly as she slipped under the covers. ' It's just that I can't believe Rafe would say anything like that. He's always so thoughtful and kind-hearted that I can't imagine him saying anything so nasty and hurtful—especially to you.' ' Maybe I bring out the worst in him. It sometimes happens that way without people quite knowing the reason why.' ' Perhaps,' conceded Mona dismally as she too pulled the bedclothes over her slight form. ' But I'll ask him tomorrow why he did say it.' Now it was Kim's turn to sit bolt upright. 'Don't you dare, Mona!' she ordered in horrified awareness of Mona doing just what she said. ' Why ever not, Kim? Don't you want to know the reason?' ' Not particularly. I'd rather leave sleeping dogs lying, if you don't mind.' Kim rolled over on one elbow and switched off her bedside lamp.' Forget it, Mona, and go to sleep,' she urged. There was another click from beside Mona's bed and the room was plunged into darkness. ' You're not mad at me, are you, Kim?' the young voice questioned falteringly. ' No, I'm not mad at you, Mona—just tired.' ' Okay, I'm sorry.' Mona's voice was becoming drowsy. ' G'night, Kim.' Kim smiled into the darkened room at the patent relief in her tone. ' G'night, Mona,' she replied softly. But it wasn't a good night for Kim. She rolled and tumbled endlessly, reliving conversations and parts of conversations that, in her dreams, became muddled and confused and hopelessly twisted together until they were completely unintelligible. Just before dawn she awoke suddenly and lay exhausted—sure she had pieced together something of great importance—but, whatever it had been, it now refused to be recalled to mind and, with a despairing thump of her pillow, she slipped into sleep once more—this time quietly and deeply.


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Mona was still sleeping when Kim dressed in old faded jeans and a navy and white check shirt the next morning in readiness for the cleaning of her one-time home, but she hadn't reached the door before Mona opened her eyes and smiled. ' I'll be with you in two shakes,' she said. Kim smiled back, ' No rush, I think I know where everything is by now,' and slipped out of the room, closing the door behind her. Everything was quiet in the house and Kim guessed that the men must all be down at the dairy still, although by the evidence of the used coffee mugs piled in the sink, they'd had an early morning drink before venturing outside. She had the coffee merrily perking by the time Mona made her appearance and they sat down companionably to enjoy a mug of the refreshing brew. ' What will I need for cleaning the house now that the water's left?' Kim opened the conversation. ' Usually a hose is a help, but with you having no pressure pump it wouldn't be much good, so I guess it'll be a job for buckets, mops and brooms,' grinned Mona over the rim of her mug. 'Just keep your fingers crossed that it was a clean flood and not a dirty one.' ' Is there any difference?' questioned Kim dryly. ' My word, yes! Some leave hardly any mud behind, but others...!' Her expression told Kim far better than any words could have done just what the others left behind, and Kim did as she was told and kept her fingers crossed that this one hadn't been too bad. 'I suppose there won't be much point to making the place spotless if Rafe is planning to pull it down, will there?' Kim spoke offhandedly. Mona put her mug down with a definite thud and stared at her in astonishment. ' Is he? That's the first I've heard of it. What for?' she asked to be told. ' He said he wanted to build a house on the far side of the creek and that one would be in the way.' ' Did he now?' Mona leant back in her chair, her thumbs dug into the waistband of her jeans, her mouth tilting slowly. ' Fancy that! Maybe I wasn't so wrong after all.' ' About what?' ' Uh-uh! That's not for me to tell, but for you to guess,' she answered, aggravatingly secretive. 'That Rate's going to marry Beth?' Kim took a shot in the dark in an attempt to breach Mona's mystery. ' Beth?' Mona went into a peal of hilarious laughter. ' Whatever made you think Rafe would want to marry her?' Kim moved uneasily, not wanting to appear too interested in whom Rafe intended to marry, and lifted her shoulders carelessly. 'Well, she's the only girl I've seen him with since I arrived, and Rick said something of the sort the first time I met him.'

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' Rick! What would he know?' Mona snorted in sisterly contempt for her brother's knowledge. She wagged a finger at Kim slyly.' I know somebody else he's spent far more time with these last few weeks, and,' she chuckled delightedly, ' whenever he sees her with someone else, he glowers—like this...' and she pulled such an exaggerated form of dark grimness that Kim couldn't help laughing, despite the fact that Mona's unthinking words had caused a shaft of burning pain to spear through her at the idea of a girl being lucky enough to have the power to make Rafe jealous. For that was all it could be to cause a man to look even a little like what Mona had just depicted when he saw his girl with another man. It was a supreme effort, of which she was justifiably proud, that Kim was able to comment coolly: ' In that case, I probably haven't met her.' Mona nodded understandingly, her irrepressible smile just below the surface. 'No, I don't think you would have been formally introduced.' And that was apparently as far as she was prepared to go, for in answer to Kim's expectant look for a name to ensue, Mona would only shake her head and dimple, ' That's not for me to say.' Kim brushed this aside lightly, not really desirous of knowing the fortunate girl's name in any case, and leaving the table she moved across the room and opened the cupboard door in order to take out the necessary plates for breakfast. The first half of the meal was mostly taken up with questions to Raoul concerning his night out, but then came the disclosure of Kim's supposed fiance, at which Raoul looked deservedly surprised, though Kim noted that he looked closely at the suave faces of both Rafe and Rick on the opposite side of the table before commenting obscurely, "That puts things in a different light,' but he fully ignored the faintly puzzled looks Kim directed at him with a light grin and a shrug, then changed the subject completely. ' Want any help in cleaning up the house, Kim?' he asked. 'Ruy and I are at your service. The water's out of the house now—it's going down very quickly this time.' ' Of course you can help,' spoke up Mona immediately, 'it'll make a nice change to see you two doing some honest work.' ' Oh, yeah? Look at you?' scoffed Ruy in return. ' Now that Kim's taken over the cooking, I suppose you sit in your room all day listening to that damned transistor of yours!' 'I do not!' Mona fired back indignantly and looking to Kim for support.' I help you, don't I, Kim?' Mona might not have been a very good cook, but she was a very willing helper and Kim defended her staunchly. 'Yes, you do, Mona. You're a great help.' Mona wrinkled her nose triumphantly at her brothers and Ruy laughed, ' I told you they'd take sides,' and Raoul added with a grin, ' Regular little mutual admiration society, aren't they?' as they both pushed their chairs back from the table and rose to their feet. ' If you two are going down, just keep your minds on the job and watch what you're doing,' Rafe warned when he joined in with a knowing look at the twins, before turning to Kim and adding, ' It still won't be safe to take your car down to the house. You'll have to leave it by the gate—unless,' he paused significantly and his lips quirked suggestively, ' you all plan to ride down.' Luckily Raoul saved Kim the bother of replying to this piece of provocation. 'Can't do that, Kim doesn't

Bounty spent his time sniffing around experimentally.' he stated unwittingly.' Within minutes the twins made their appearance and all four of them sat on the edge of the verandah. Kim sat back on her heels and brushed the back of her wrist across her perspiring forehead.' said Ruy. The muddy streaks left on some of the furniture came away fairly easily as the girls applied the elbow-grease willingly and the pieces began drying quickly in the hot air outside while the burning sun climbed higher into the cloudless sky. making Kim grateful that she had bought boots when she did. we can all pile into the Mini—a walk at the other end won't hurt us. However. commenting with feeling: ' Phew! That's hot work. Rafe eyed Kim quizzically. The ground was still soggy and sank with sickening squelches beneath their feet. The twins promptly began unpiling the furniture they had so painstakingly stacked only a couple of days ago and carried it out on to the grass in front of the house where Kim and Mona took to it with brushes and cloths to clean it down and leave. the twins returned inside and began the business of washing down the walls and floors. she was pleased it hadn't come to pass. ' 'The others can ride if they like. Kim. legs dangling comfortably over the side. and swiftly despatched four large mugs of cool fruit juice before turning their attention to the appetising food that Kim and Mona had packed for their lunch. How about we knock off for a cold drink and have some lunch?' ' I couldn't agree with you more. easing herself slowly to her feet. after Rafe and Rick had left to see Hugh regarding the new dam. not knowing quite what to expect. The twins were evidently enjoying the break from routine work and soon had the girls in fits of laughter over their antics as they carried all the paraphernalia from the car down to the house. and did the same. having just rubbed her cloth for the last time over a now shining kitchen chair. Upon reaching the verandah she moved gingerly forward and started down the dark hallway. grinned. This finished. the other four climbed into the car along with all the cleaning implements—Bounty squeezing himself between Mona's feet in the front—and set off cautiously along the still treacherous muddy track. but she refused to be drawn and answered lightly. causing Rafe to openly smile at the small show of relief that flickered over Kim's face when she realised that his trap had been successfully skirted.' said Kim with a grin of her own. She looked expectantly at the sides of the house thinking that there should have been some indication there as to the height that the water had reached. all except Mona.processtext. and the girls could hear them ragging each other mercilessly as they wielded heavy brooms and mops. and I'll take all the gear with me in the car. and she let out her breath.' ' That's all right. Two hours later. there didn't appear to be any particularly noticeable damage done. She wasn't sure just what she had been expecting but. who hadn't as yet succumbed to . Mona gave a perfunctory wipe to the table she had just finished. the meal http://www. apart from a heavily musty wet smell and some small pools of muddy water lying on the floor.Generated by ABC Amber LIT Converter. Very little was said for once while they were eating and. a definite smile now hovering at the corners of his firm mouth. but on seeing no water marks hopefully surmised that this might have been a clean flood after all. for the sun to dry out completely and the fresh air to dispose of the faintly unpleasant odour. ' Give the boys a yell and I'll start taking the food out of the basket.html ride. An hour or so later. they spread out contentedly with more fruit drink and leisurely smoked a welcome cigarette. trying to distinguish familiar smells from more recent ones that were strange to his nose. whatever it was.

http://www. they offer. it doesn't mean you can criticise us. ' Just because we haven't seen yours and can't judge how you've been going.' Mona made a face at him scornfully. ' Now we've done the hard part. 'We have so.' So you admit you've got the easiest job?' 'No. I didn't.' he told Kim with a comforting 'A likely story!' she gibed. She was putting out the food for the dogs when the men returned from their day's work. apart from the remnants left along the banks and trapped in branches of some of the closest trees.' ' What about the cupboards in the kitchen?' Raoul demanded with a slow smile that had Kim catching at her breath. Typical. Kim nearly found it impossible to believe that it had all happened. It was late in the afternoon by the time all the cleaning was finished and the furniture restored to order inside the house. though now a dark muddy colour rather than the crystal clearness it had presented before. The twins merely exchanged telling glances and grinned aggravatingly at their sister before setting off inside once more.' 'All right. 'Ah-hah!' Mona picked up the words as soon as they were out of his mouth. there was really very little to show for its foray into the surrounding countryside. bringing with . we'll swap jobs after lunch.html the habit and vowed that she had no intention of so doing either! Ruy ground out his cigarette on the sole of his boot. but the creek was now safely back within its own boundaries and. and. 'That's only one—we've got loads!' ' Huh! Doesn't look much to me. while the two girls gratefully made use of the showers to clear away the last vestiges of their day's cleaning. whistling cheerily as they went. the twins headed in the direction of the dairy to search out Rafe and Rick.' she retorted resentfully. During their changeover into clean clothes Mona had the inevitable transistor going from which issued a news bulletin informing them that the river was now dropping rapidly. flicked the butt under a now sickly-looking azalea bush and stretched lazily.' but having finished the hard part. but didn't doubt that those people actually living in town viewed it in a completely different light.' and it shouldn't take us long to finish it from here. twigs and other assorted debris. Yours is all straightforward—around the walls and the floors— not like ours with all the corners and the fussy bits. isn't it?' Ruy queried of his brother. then.' suggested Mona.' Mona couldn't let that pass.' Ruy defended himself with an exasperated grin. On the way they could see where the rising waters had coated the fences with grass. but this was immediately followed by a request that the general public stay out of town until the following afternoon in order to give the townspeople time to mop up before the city centre once more opened for business.' The grin widened teasingly. we reckon we're entitled to complete the easier half. ' It wasn't too bad inside. After unloading the car when they returned to the house. having fed the hens and collected the day's supply of eggs.processtext. the four of them wandered along the pathway to have a look at the creek. ' You two don't seem to have done much.Generated by ABC Amber LIT Converter. The water was moving smoothly and silently.

' It doesn't belong to me. and . '.' ' You don't feel any qualms about going back to a man with whom you've already had such a strong disagreement that you considered it necessary to break your engagement?' One eyebrow rose dubiously.' The old place seems to take everything in its stride. isn't it?' Kim coloured furiously and stammered: ' Y-yes. is there. but thought better of it. doesn't it?' Kim grinned. ' Hardly!' She pulled an expressive face. that's correct. weren't there? ' But not one that you are.' Rick nodded in acknowledgement and moved through the doorway with the twins close behind. so why should she tell Rafe that she wasn't the type of girl that. wasn't it for that very same pride and self-respect that she was hurrying to leave the north coast? Coolly she faced him. There were loads of them in the world. let alone proven. ' Does it matter who called a halt.' 'Ah. I must admit. yes. once having been thrown over. Kim?' 'Well. I think you said his name was. who had stopped beside her and who now pushed his hands into the back pockets of his jeans.. or were. I—um—I'm looking forward to seeing him again..html them a pail of milk for use in the house. ' Going to move back into the old house soon?' he asked. ' It must be more used to it than I am—but. . She had more pride and self-respect than to let that happen—after all. That he was a handy idea on the spur of the moment. the effects weren't as bad as I thought they would be.' 'And I keep telling you that I have already decided. 'But then Rick reckons there never was any fiance at all. at her uncomprehending frown. ' I suppose that's one way of looking at it. remember?' 'The will hasn't even been handed in yet.' and. as long as we're both willing to give it another try?' Rafe shrugged indifferently. ' I hear you got on well today. It'll be good to get back together. it was he who broke the engagement in the first place and you've only been biding your time in the hope that he says all is now forgiven. leaving Kim to face Rafe.' A lazy smile. ' the ex-fiance.. There's no rush. http://www. That's right. 'I would have thought such a decision would need a great deal of careful contemplation—unless. could no more wait hopefully to be condescendingly picked up again by the same man..Generated by ABC Amber LIT Converter. of of course there is!' she retorted scornfully. There is no John Smith.' he prodded with a slow grin.' he paused deliberately. I expect you want to get home as quickly as possible now. engaged to?' he pressed. I'll be leaving in a couple of days now that the roads are clear again. than she could break the four-minute mile. I'm inclined to agree with him.' remarked Rick as he passed her on the way in. her eyes holding his steadily. eh?' Kim was about to reply in very strong terms to this suggestion. It was all a sham anyway.processtext. 'John Smith. You may as well use the property until you decide what you'll be doing.

'Very shortly.' he laughed. ' Not yet. Rick set the ball rolling with an innocent smile and an irritating.' was the surprising interruption from Rafe and. you reaily intend to get cracking.' ' And I doubt that. ' Can't miss the top forty. Why was Rafe so insistent that she wouldn't be leaving soon? Did he know it would take longer than that for the roads to become passable and wasn't telling her. of course. ' Will you be getting married soon. What was going on between those two? ' That's lovely. if there wasn't?' 'Now that is a good question. unless. because I'll be gone by the end of the week. comfortably relaxed. going all dreamy-eyed. for Mona called out worriedly the moment she saw her. reason? She was given no time to deliberate on what might have prompted Rafe's remark. you know. little one. as yet unforeseen. she replied bravely. Kim?' After a glare that should have dropped him in his tracks. give him time. causing her to study them perplexedly.* Raoul had his head buried in a book on animal husbandry. and still take part in a conversation. as was Kim herseif.' sighed Mona.html 'That's none of your business. her discourse with Rafe had been pushed from her mind and didn't return again until the meal was over and the whole family were enjoying their coffee in the lounge room. ' Oh. Rafe. had her transistor plugged into one ear. http://www. Still. Kim intercepted a devilish grin on its way from Rick to his elder brother.Generated by ABC Amber LIT Converter. ' I wish I could see it. come quickly! I think I've done something wrong. 'I doubt that. and she explained to Kim with a self-effacing grin.' she found herself blustering and edging towards the open doorway and safety. I love weddings!' Rick's ironic. turning quickly. Ruy was watching the news broadcaster. listen to the radio. The sauce has gone all lumpy and it's sticking to the bottom of the pan. but Rafe's quietly spoken.' By the time Kim had decided that the once smooth and creamy cheese sauce was now beyond repair and had set about making some more. Kim answered as airily as she could. at the same time. I'd say. or was there some other. while Rafe and Rick had just concluded their discussion regarding when to begin the fertilising of the top and south paddocks and were now sitting back. ' Had any more letters from your fiance.' Feeling more secure with the distance between them. ' Maybe you will.processtext.' Mona now entered into things and Kim could only hazard a guess as to how she could watch television. leaving her to stare at him warily and not quite sure of . I don't doubt that all will be revealed in good time. Mona was watching television but. Kim?' she asked curiously. Kim. 'What reason would I have for saying there 'and I have some ideas of my own on that particular subject.1 was the obscure rejoinder that put creases of concentration in Kim's forehead when she continued on into the kitchen. 'Tell me a woman who doesn't?' brought an unwilling smile to Kim's lips.' took it away again.

' 'He doesn't sound very reliable if you don't know whether or not he'll marry you.' put in Rick with a maddening artlessness. that's how. with a simmering eagerness.' It was as much as Kim could do to keep the consternation she was experiencing from showing on her face. ' but I will write and let you know the date and send you an invitation. Both Rick . Pack was smiling hugely and as their glances locked he gave Kim a slow. that lets out practically the whole of the male sex. exaggerated wink that set her chaotic thoughts surging into other. ' Because I mean to make sure she is.html what was likely to come next. and Kim felt herself the cynosure of all eyes in the room—even Raoui had lifted his head from his engrossing book at this last statement. so he wouldn't be referring to the mythical John Smith. Could I.' 'Well. http://www. Kim? Could I come to your wedding. only half-formed channels. even had he been interested enough to make sure they married when she returned —which he couldn't do in any case as he had no control over either of them! She moved her head dazedly and took another look around the room in order to rally her thoughts. please? I really would love to see it. Kim? You know. That is. Rafe was watching her closely.' but on seeing the young girl's crestfallen expression. then her face cleared magically... doesn't it?' Kim fired. ' But how could I?' queried Mona despondently. Ruy must have had his ears pricked. Kim sat stunned. Rick burst out laughing. gazing at him wide-eyed. 'Kim will be married before the summer's over.processtext. ' Are you making unkind remarks about our sex again.' Well—I'm not sure when it will be. She swallowed hastily before replying vaguely. 'You mean you might just decide to live together instead?' enquired Rafe with a laconic twist to his mouth.. won't you.' commented Rafe with a bright glint to his green eyes.' I mean I—I meant we . and not knowing what to think. 'No! That's not what I meant at all!' she hastened to assure them. rashly desperate. a light smile playing round the corners of his well-shaped mouth.' ' And I'm beginning to think that wouldn't be such a bad idea either!' she riposted. if we do decide to eventually get married. you mean when I'm back at school in Sydney. How could he make sure she married? He already suspected that there was no fiance waiting for her in Sydney. you really will have to * change your views or you could end up an old maid. ' Oh.' was the even more surprising and enigmatic answer.. You— a little old maid!' ' Highly little one?' ' How do you know?* questioned a surprised Ruy before Kim could voice the same sentiments. for he now turned from the television and laughed. Mona. sweetly caustic.Generated by ABC Amber LIT Converter. promised.' Now that I would like to see.' she finished on the defensive with a self-conscious laugh. ' I should pick someone else if I were you—someone you know you can depend upon. Kim.

I can't hear the radio!' Kim hadn't been able to make out Rafe's voice in the general hubbub that broke out when she left the room. supplanted by. ' Previous fiance or not. and rushed out of the room without any preconceived ideas as to where she was going.' . he must go round with his eyes closed. for now he gave her that lazy look that played such havoc with her emotions and. 'What's going on?' was Ruy's confused subscription.html and Mona had only said last night that they thought there was something between her and Rafe. She still couldn't quite believe it was happening. ' And where do you think you're going?' Rafe drawled softly. but she could see through the thickness of her lashes the humorous tilt to his curving mouth. what was it that she had overheard Rick say to Rafe in the study? That Rafe could look after his own interests? Could he have been referring to her? Was that the reason Rick had stayed talking to Adam for so long that night? Even Adam had thought it strange! A glimmer of hope began to struggle upwards from deep within her. you lot. ' God.' from Raoul. Kim could hear questions and answers flowing freely as the occupants of the lounge room tried to bring themselves into the picture. and coupled with his last statement that he meant to see that she was married before the end of summer. desperately attempting to recall words only half-remembered. and the reason why not became evident when. 'Perhaps I was going to write to my fiance!' ' The once-rejected John Smith? More like you were planning to hide. while Mona announced grandly. even if the joyous singing of the blood in her veins told her it was. ' In Then the other day.' she said with as much coolness as she could gather. before she could reach her bedroom door. have to prove something— they just had to. Shut up. she wasn't going to be another of his easy conquests—at least. http://www. Could it possibly have been jealousy? Could it? A tight feeling of bubbling excitement banded Kim's ribs as her mind rushed on. without knowing why that smile should make such a difference—but quite positive that it did— Kim jumped agitatedly to her feet. 'Heaven help us. Kim gulped a deep breath to still the heavy thudding of her heart. spun her around and pinned her against the wall. not quite meeting his gaze. didn't they? It was almost as if Rafe had followed her mental processes step by step. Rafe had been unwarrantedly furious that night when he had found her with Adam. Added to all this were Rafe's almost unequivocal remarks that she wouldn't be leaving in a few days. and he had scowled—not quite as badly as Mona had depicted—but a scowl all the same. you're slow. Behind her. I'd say we're about to get a new addition to the family—and I'm not talking about Rose's expectation either. and she determined not to let Rafe see how much she loved him. not on the surface she wasn't! He was going to have to work for it! She replied to his question with an indicative nod towards the bedroom door. Ruy!' Plainly this last remark had the desired effect of opening Ruy's eyes and more muted comments followed. two warm hands grasped her by the shoulders. receiving from Rick a delighted grin as she did so. Don't you read the signs?' from Rick. ' Oh. All this time and he'd never given her so much as an inkling as to how he felt! Well. ' Running away again?' Kim turned her head and slanted him a gleaming look.Generated by ABC Amber LIT Converter. now I've missed my favourite record. and. lastly succeeded by a plaintive wail from Mona.processtext. his eyes roving over her lightly flushed features.

' There was the click of a door opening and when they had passed through into the room and Rafe had pushed the door closed behind them.' Where are you taking me? Rafe! Put me down!' ' All in good Rafe's smile widened. before Kim could guess what he intended. 'Put me down. but when he started to laugh she knew her temper to be slipping out of control and. and the arm clasped around the back of her legs kept her imprisoned there. Rafe's head was no longer there. a hand planted flat on either side of her head.' he smiled ruefully. ' Your kisses don't affect me. ' So you've said before.Generated by ABC Amber LIT Converter. I thought you might be doing the running first this time. ducked beneath the swinging arm and. Suddenly.. ridged muscles beneath her sensitive fingers. but Rafe wasn't prepared to let her go and smiled infuriatingly at her ineffectual efforts. The warmth and weight of his body against her own filled her with a desire she had never before experienced and she arched even closer to him while her hands moved exploringly over his back. with a brief hard kiss pressed to the base of her throat.' With a soft flush steadily mounting her cheeks she struggled to pull away. he had moved towards her. Rafe! Put me down!' And when he began walking further down the hall. but God . moving against it gently and persuasively until her lips parted and she slid her arms around his neck. He brushed her hair back from her wide forehead with a slightly shaking hand and twisted one shiny curl around his finger. Kim turned her face away breathlessly. She couldn't hold on to the muffled gasp of surprise that escaped her before she began pummelling at the muscular back below her. ' Shall we see how much my kisses don't affect you now?' he taunted softly.. so we'll go in here. for he had released his left hand from her shoulder. pulling him down towards her. She had no time to say anything before Rafe had tumbled her flat on to her back on the bright orange and black woven bedspread that covered the wide bed and he was leaning over her. but it was a futile gesture.processtext.html ' From you?' ' From me!' 'Why should I do that? You don't scare me!' she stood her ground valiantly. more in self-defence of her heightened emotions than from any desire to actually hit him. but you still run for cover each time I kiss you. savouring the feel of taut. By the time her hand would have reached its target. ' yours sure affect me!' . Rafe lifted his head and Kim let loose a sigh of disappointment as she opened her eyes to gaze into the warm and glowing ones above her. Kim raised her head and recognised it from when Mona had shown her around the house as being Rafe's own bedroom.' was his amused reply. eyes dancing. As his broad shoulder came into contact with her middle she was lifted over that shoulder. Kim's breasts heaved and she lifted her head in a direct challenge. http://www. sweetheart.' she told him recklessly. she swung her right arm towards that proud head. for his mouth found hers easily. ' My kisses might not affect you. sweetheart. ' but I don't intend to have Mona interrupting with some trumped-up reason of wanting something from her room. and his head lowering with each passing second.

' he promised. http://www.' He gave a wry grin. 'Okay. we'll just stay here until you do admit it.Generated by ABC Amber LIT Converter. ' You might have let me in on the secret. if necessary. her heart overflowing at the thought of living the rest of her life with this man. 'Not after what you and Rick put me through. whenever you want me to. ' Knowing ' will you marry me before the summer's gone?' Of course she would—she'd marry him tomorrow if that was what he wanted—but did he have to dismiss her imaginary fiance quite so carelessly? ' I am already engaged. although. I'll marry you.' She pouted reproachfully at him. His kisses not affect her! If only he knew! His mouth lowered again to the corner of her lips. ' And are you going to admit that you love me too?' This made her grin mischievously and she shook her head slowly. I can. but not at the moment. ' In that case. ' I love you. but definite. you know. weren't you?' ' Of course I was. And there never was a John Smith. sending shivers of delight down her spine. yes.' Now it was Kim's turn to smile wryly.' she agreed happily. Rafe.' he assured her captivatingly.' 'I would have done in due course if you hadn't found that damned will so precipitately and insisted on leaving town almost immediately thereafter. yes. she might not have cared about examining his reasons too closely. ' It didn't give me much time. ' No man fortunate enough to be engaged to you would make the idiotic mistake of letting you escape. if she was strictly truthful.' he murmured huskily against the softness. sweetheart. ' All night. He bent his head and slid his mouth sensuously along the side of her neck. Kim.' ' You were relieved when I found it. You were supposed to have been once. ' No. you'd have thought I was only doing so to get my hands on the property. She probably would have thought exactly that way. was there?' ' You can't be that certain.' A ready smile played over her lips at these complimentary words and she willingly gave up the vague idea of insisting on the validity of one John Smith.html She smiled lovingly upwards and shook her head in silent refutation. but Rafe's eyes told her he was devising some audacious form of retaliation.' .' He traced the outline of her mouth with a gentle finger. will you now tell me you love me?' Again she shook her head provocatively.' she reminded him innocently. Rafe's reply was softly spoken.' ' Oh. you're not. if I'd asked you to marry me before you discovered it. though. 'And having cleared that up.

' A worried look tugged at Kim's mouth and she followed the pattern on the bedspread with one slender finger. ' All right. touching his lips with her own feather-lightly.' . ' I'm glad. perhaps now you'd better kiss me to prove it. Rafe. because you've inundated mine too!' A long smouldering look of desire entered his eyes at this disclosure and Kim could see that it was only the strongest self-discipline that enabled him to forbear from taking her in his arms again. His hands moved caressingly from her hips to her breasts and she had not the power.' With a throaty laugh she confessed.processtext. moving them temptingly across his mouth with the lightest of pressures.' he smiled crookedly at her.' ' Uh-huh!' agreed Rafe with a tantalising smile that set her pulses racing afresh. ' Why.' she protested weakly.' Rafe groaned huskily as he pushed her back down against the bed.' he admitted freely. and she was feeling thoroughly vulnerable at the moment. to stop him.' he said at last. her head propped up by one hand as she rested on her elbow and looked down at the man beside her. ' I'm agreeable. God. Rafe. 'I love darling. she was sure that these weren't the most suitable of circumstances. his green eyes making love to her without his ever having to touch her. ' How about we make it the end of next week instead?' Kim rolled on to her side.' 'As it's taken me so long to make you say it. if you're not going to play fair. while her own hands slipped under the neck of his shirt to linger lovingly on the warm hard flesh beneath. ' You couldn't do that. ' Maybe your parents won't like me. his arms folded behind his head.. nor the wish...' You're gloriously enticing .' Outrageous thoughts slipped through her mind and with a deceptively sweet smile she lifted her head to his.. ' You little cat . With a relaxed sigh she capitulated and gave a smile of surrender.a height of desire that threatened to anticipate the joys of wedded bliss..html Kim gave a nervous laugh. Rafe? Would you? Keep me here all night?' ' Quite willingly. ' I'd forgotten clean about them. waving a hand in the direction of the lounge room. ' And they might not be wrong either!' 'You wouldn't.' Her voice deepened tenderly.. http://www. but wouldn't your parents be disappointed if you didn't wait for them to return first?' ' Oh. and rousing them both to. and I'm only human. Suddenly a shudder escaped Rafe's taut frame and with a smothered exclamation he lifted his head and rolled away from her to lie on his back. ' All right. they might think— they'd think we . As much as the idea appealed. then. look what you're doing to me already after only two weeks?' He ran a hand distractedly through his rumpled hair. ' the folks return in three weeks' time—another week for them to get to know you— and we'll be married in exactly one month's time. I'll admit it. You're the only thing I have on my mind these days. ' I don't think I can wait till the end of summer. his mouth now passionately demanding a response Kim was only too willing to give.Generated by ABC Amber LIT Converter.' he breathed against her softly parted lips. with all my heart.

and that could explain why Adam had been so diffident about asking her out after she had been to his office for her interview. ' What can I say to him? I mean.' ' But I know nothing about rural matters. ' Nothing much. but apart from that. She only hoped that Rafe's 'nothing much' had been exactly that—nothing much! 'Stop worrying. The fiance you conjured up last night might well have thrown him some. you didn't? What on earth did you say?' A complacent smile pulled at Rafe's darling. As I've already told you. 'Impossible for them not to like you. but I think Adam got the general idea that you weren't as unattached as you appeared.' ' Poor Beth. but the fact that he hasn't come to.' Rafe gave an exasperated look as if all the talk was keeping him from something else he would rather be doing. You've fitted into this family as if you were made for it. Rafe. and raised hopeful eyes.' he laughed away her fears.' ' Beth? A fair go with Adam? But Rose said she was in love with you!' ' Rose did? I thought she knew better than that.processtext.' ' Then there's Adam. sweetheart. Perhaps that's why he accepted your story of a fiance so readily. Adam had a fair idea of the way things were heading. ' Who knows that better than I do. but I still think Adam can only see her in school uniform with pigtails. that she isn't a school kid any more really sets her going. hence the use of me as a partner.' . ' Beth has been trying to get Adam to realise she's not a little girl any longer for the last six months or more. ' After the dance.' ' I did. and with you out of the running maybe Beth can now get a fair go.' ' How could he? I certainly didn't say anything to him. ' I don't expect Adam will be quite so surprised as you seem to think.' Kim hesitated doubtfully.' It was pleasing to Kim to know that Rafe had been attracted to her so early in the piece. They'll love you almost as much as I do. Beth reckons she wouldn't mind so much if Adam did notice her and wasn't interested.' ' Oh. http://www.Generated by ABC Amber LIT Converter. ' When?' she demanded to be told. Won't he think it's peculiar if I suddenly turn around and marry you?' Rafe sat up and brushed a kiss across her warm mouth. he thinks I'm engaged to some man in Sydney. even yet.html A tanned hand turned her face gently back to his.' 'You don't have to tell me that. and I thought you were in love with her.' ' What about him?' 'Well.' Kim's eyes widened in startled amazement. I rather suspect he knew exactly which way the wind was blowing.

'..html 'You thought I was in love with Beth?' Rafe started laughing and couldn't refrain from pulling her back into his arms 'There's only one girl I'm in love with—have ever been in love with—and she's next to me right now. http://www.Generated by ABC Amber LIT Converter. Give me something else to think about?' ' Now that's an idea worth working on.. linking her arms around his neck. but if she doesn't stop talking and worrying about other people who should be well able to look after their own affairs. then I'll.' ' You'll what.' agreed Rafe deeply before his mouth covered hers possessively and he proceeded to do exactly what Kim had and keep her mind on matters closer to hand.. .?' questioned Kim with a smile.

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