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 Respite Down Under By: Lois Lane

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loislane
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PostSubject: Respite Down Under By: Lois Lane   Sun May 17, 2009 5:36 am

RESPITE DOWNUNDER
Written by Lois Terrans Bradbury

Tracey was sitting at her computer checking out a website for the concert dates for a singing group she had come to like over the past few years. IL Divo. This was the night after seeing them perform in Sydney. Sydney, Australia that is. Tracey had taken a girlfriend along to see the show and was now seeing if she could get tickets to any other concerts before the group left the shores of the great sun burnt land she called home. The reason? That was her friend. One concert and she was besotted with the group and had proclaimed this fact to all who would listen as they had walked through Darling Harbour, past HOME night club to have some supper while waiting for the lines for taxis to thin out the very night of the concert. Those who had been to the concert gave her a knowing look. Others just smiled. It was at this point that Tracey realised her friend was very, very serious about following the group around the country. So now she sits glued to the computer screen. What struck her was not the fact that they would never make it to Brisbane for any of the concerts even if they did get tickets or that the Melbourne concerts were not to far behind. What struck her was the amount of concerts in such a short space of time. Tracey looked back over the web site and it did not take a genius to work out that this group had been on the road for a long, long time. Looking at concert dates etc it also seemed that they had not had a decent break in a long, long time. Tracey herself had been to their concert in Sydney just 11 months before. For some reason this information seemed to get under her skin. Without realising it she mumbled something under her breath which brought her friend Nat out of the kitchen were she had been making a pot of tea.
“What was that? Don’t tell me you can’t get any tickets anywhere. I don’t think I could get enough time off to head to South Africa.”
Tracey replied without moving. Just beckoned Nat to the computer by waving her hand. “No. look at this. This is ridiculous.”
Nat had no idea what she was supposed to be looking at. “What is?”
“The amount of concerts they have done in the past 2 years. I am surprised they haven’t fallen down in a heap by now. I can just bet they are not getting looked after….”
Nat cut Tracey off before she went on one of her healthy mind, body and soul talks.
“For heavens sake Trace. They have private chefs, five star hotels, and I am sure they get plenty of rest on their days off.”
“What days off! I don’t considered 22 hours in a plane a day off. I have to do something about this….”
Nat was getting tetchy. She knew what Tracey was like when she got hold of something. She could just see her tickets to any concert flying out the window. “But what about another concert. You promised you would look for me. I’ll pay for the plane tickets” She pouted at Tracey knowing this would make her friend feel guilty.

“Oh man Nat. You sound like a teenage groupie. Are you sure about this?.”
“One hundred and ten percent. Besides I need a break.”
“OK.” Tracey typed away at the keyboard clicking the mouse now and then. “Ok, Melbourne in three nights, 4 rows from the front. Are we happy now?” Tracey turned to see Nat with the biggest grin on her face.
Nat replied almost gushingly “ We very happy now.”
“Well I suggest you go do your thing and book the flights cause I’m not buying tickets we can’t use.”
With that Nat forgot about the tea brewing and headed up the hall with her mobile phone chiming as she feverishly text her contacts.
This left Tracey at the computer doing some of her own brewing. Maybe brooding would be more correct. The thought of these fine men being exploited began to consume her.. What could she possibly do to help them? Between her and them was a barrage or people, powerful people who would not hesitate to try and un-rail any plan she did put together. The feeling that she needed to do something just would not go away. For her own sanity she decided to try.
“All done.” Nat came back down the hallway. “I got us some cheap seats there and back and a fifty percent discount on the hotel. Start packing.”
“Nice to have friends in the right places.”

Chapter 2
By the time Tracey got back to her own home after not one but 2 nights in Melbourne she was tired. Happy but tired. She knew her doctor would not be happy with her but right now she did not care. Nat was the craziest friend she had and at times that is exactly what she needed. But an unexpected trip to Melbourne to see two more concerts had not settled that brooding feeling. In fact it had become stronger. She was convinced that one of the group, Urs, was not doing to well. The same thought had crossed her mind in Sydney. They had been 2 rows from the front and it just seemed like he was so sad and lost. It seemed more so in Melbourne. Why worry about someone she didn’t even know? It was ridiculous. But there was that feeling and she knew if she didn’t put something into motion. Whether anything came of it or not. She would never settle. Tracey knew herself well enough to at least do what was good for her.

She plonked herself down at the computer and even before she read her emails headed straight to the Il Divo site. Found a place were she thought she might be able to leave a message. There were places to leave messages for each of the members of the group individually so she did that. She also left a message on several other pages and before logging off got the address of the music company and wrote the group a letter via them as well. She got the addresses of every concert venue that the group would be performing at once they left Australia and wrote to them. She also managed to hook up with a few fans that would be at concerts and arranged for them to give the group messages if they could. The one thing that seemed to brighten her up was the amount of care and devotion these fans had. There were still nice people in the world.

Tracey could have just as easily picked up her phone or sent a few well placed emails and within hours could have had exactly what she wanted. She could have used all her corporate muscle to bully people into doing the right thing but that is not how she wanted it to be. In some twisted section of her brain she was leaving it up top fate. If her plan was meant to be then it would happen.

Chapter 3
David, Sebastian, Urs and Carlos had just come back stage to do a very quick wardrobe change. Amongst the mayhem and flurry of black jackets Urs stood motionless in the corner, staring into nothing. David noticed first.
“Hey Urs. Get a move on or we’ll stuff up the timing.”
Nothing. Urs just stood there. By this time the others had turned around, Sebastian had Urs by the shoulders and shook him. “Come on, we only have 2 more nights to go. You can make it that far can’t you?”
Sebastian’s words seemed to unlock the trance Urs was in. He looked at his friends. They were horrified to see the tears gently rolling down his face. He gave them a weak smile and collapsed.
The back stage manager started screeching orders and people began to run in all directions. Those on stage got the order to keep going. Someone shot off for the paramedics. Meanwhile David, Sebastian and Carlos carried Urs to his room. He was unconscious. Carlos got a cool damp cloth and placed it on his forehead; David checked his pulse and frowned. “I am no medic but I think this is a whole lot slower than it should be.”
Sebastian looked on. “But isn’t that a good thing?” He looked from David to Carlos for reassurance. They had no answer for him. They were all afraid. They all knew that the tour had hit them hard. It had hit Urs the hardest. They had noticed first about halfway through their UK leg of the tour. He wasn’t sleeping, wasn’t eating, had become very sombre, and didn’t laugh anymore. The one thing they had thought would get him through was being on stage. He always seemed to get it together, never missed a beat. He had said that it was the fans that had got them this far and he never wanted to let them down. So on stage he gave his all.
Right now, as they looked down onto his pale face it seemed that he may have given too much.

The paramedics pushed through the room and knelt beside Urs. The others backed away a little. They could hear the crowd stamping their feet. They knew many of them had been to many concerts and would have suspected that something was up. Carlos ducked his head out the door to have a closer listen. “We need to do something or we will have a riot on our hands.”
Sebastian was shaking a little as he looked from Urs to Carlos. “But what?”
David raced passed them “I have and idea” Sebastian and Carlos looked at each other. They knew that David had reached the stage when they heard a mighty roar from the crowed. They could not hear what he was saying from where they were so their attention went back to Urs, Still motionless.

David was on stage alone, his heart pounding. The music had stopped. “Ladies and gentleman. I am so sorry for the delay but we have had a bit of a hiccup back stage. So if you could be patient just a little longer we…” He never finished. A young lady from the front row shouted. Normally she would not have been heard but in the silence her voice seemed to echo and everyone heard. “Its Urs isn’t it. He’s collapsed?” There was a combined groan from the audience.
David was mortified at her words and was unable to hide the shock on his face.
“Please tell him it is all right we all understand.” She turned to the rest of the fans. ‘We understand don’t we?”

With that the fans began to sing out his name over and over again. Clapping their hands. Urs, Urs, Urs.
David had no idea what to do. He stood on stage watching, listening. These fans were not shouting in anger. They were singing Urs’ name in love. Their faces showed their concern. He walked over to the side of the stage where the young lady had been seated and called her over. David bent down. “How did you know?”
She smiled a knowing smile. I’ve been following you since the start and I am not travelling to well myself. And you only have to look at him. He’s been sick for ages.” She held his hand. “You all need to rest.”
David was about to say something when she handed him a note. “I think you need to read this and take up the offer.”
David nodded as the music onstage started up again. He looked up to see Carlos and Sebastian come out on stage and Urs. He looked at them all for an explanation. But the music had given them the cue and they began to sing. Urs got thunderous applause and they went on to finish the show with one exception. They did not come back out at the end and sit on the edge of the stage as they had done time and time before. The fans sensing the seriousness of the situation drifted out of the venue in silence. Some stayed around in the hopes that they would see the group as they left but it was not to be.

Once they had all gotten off stage. Carlos and Sebastian helped Urs to his room He was exhausted. He sat on a sofa with his head hung low and hands clasped together. David sat down beside him, Put his arm around him. “I don’t know how you did it but I am glad you did.”
Urs lifted his head. “I heard them; I heard them calling my name. I thought they were angels at first and I was dead. But their voices brought me back.”
David was alarmed at this statement. “Brought you back from where?”
”A very dark place.”
Carlos butted in. “Come on we‘re getting out of here. The doctor has given him something to help him sleep. Time we left so he can take it. No rehearsal for you tomorrow. You turn up at the concert, you sing and then it is over.”
They left the venue in silence.

Chapter 4
What ever the doctor had given Urs to help him sleep had worked. The others had made sure he was settled before they went to their own rooms. It had not taken Urs long to drift off to sleep. Throughout the night, one by one they all looked in on him. He never moved. When David checked on him around 3am he got close enough to make sure he was still breathing. Sebastian had done much the same at about 2am. Carlos wandered into Urs’ room about 5am, sighed and said a little prayer. They were all tired and knew it could have been any one of them laying there. They meet up in the private lounge of the hotel suite about 11am. It was the central point with the bedrooms jutting off at angles. They were quiet and sombre. Sebastian stared out the window but didn’t see a thing, his mind was else where. Carlos made himself some coffee and David just seemed to be devoured by the over stuffed sofa. Still looking out the window it was Sebastian that spoke.
”So what do we do now? If Urs can’t go on tonight what happens?”
David raised himself from the sofa. “We do what we do every night. We sing. We go to rehearsals and make sure we can sing without Urs if we have to.”
“But you know the fans wont be happy about that” Carlos was a little over zealous in his reply and almost lost his coffee.
David exploded “Don’t you think I know that. But if we don’t go on at all what do you think will happen!!”

“Hey guys. Settled down. This will do us no go.” Sebastian’s voice was weary. ‘Right now I wouldn’t mind changing places with Urs”
Carlos and David looked at him in stunned silence. “I am serious guys. He’s finished, done. We have one more concert to do and I feel like it will be the hardest one we have ever done.”
David moved over to Sebastian, wrapped his arm around his shoulder and gave him a hug. “I know how you feel.”
They heard Carlos mumble something. When he realised they where looking at him he spoke. “Just saying a prayer for us all.”
Just then there was a knock at the door. A voice from the other side announced that it was time to head for the venue for rehearsals.
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PostSubject: Respite Downunder chapter 5   Sun May 17, 2009 5:36 am

Chapter 5
Because they’d made so many changes to their routine, rehearsal had taken a big chunk out of their day. It was almost 6.30pm when they finished and they were expected on stage at 9pm and back at the venue by 7.30pm. Carlos and Sebastian elected to stay at the venue while David returned to the hotel to check on Urs and grab a few things they needed for the night.
When David entered their hotel room what he saw surprised him. Urs, sitting up at the table. It looked like he has just finished a meal. There was a very official and tall looking woman standing at the opposite end of the table to Urs. Urs smiled weakly at David. “Hi, this is Leslie.” He woman nodded. “She’s a nurse. She wouldn’t let me get dressed until I had eaten.”
David was astonished. “Get dressed. Where do you think you are going?”
Urs looked a little hurt. “We have a concert to do don’t we or did I sleep longer than I thought?”
”Yes WE do.” David made the emphasis on the we. “You have to rest.”
Urs made a move to stand and the nurse got between him and David.
“I have my orders gentleman. And they state that this man.” She points to Urs. “Is to be well enough to go on stage tonight. I take my job very seriously and that is exactly what is going to happen.”
“I wouldn’t argue with her David. I already tried that when she made me eat the brussel sprouts.”
David had to smile at that. Anyone who could get Urs to eat those horrible little green monsters was not one to be tangling with.
“Don’t worry David. Leslie will be with us all night and the doc came by and gave me and injection of something. I will be ok. Its just one night.”
David looked from Urs to the nurse. It didn’t matter which one he picked he was never going to win.
The nurse smiled. “Now that is all settled shall we go.” She ushered Urs to his room.

David walked back stage followed by Leslie the nurse and Urs. Carlos and Sebastian jumped to their feet when they saw Urs. But instead of being able to hug him they got broadsided by Leslie. She was indeed a formidable woman. Standing at least 6’2”. A slender but solid build. She prevented anyone from getting near Urs. Carlos and Sebastian stepped back.
“Merde, That’s a big girl” Sebastian was feeling just a little uncomfortable as she glared down at him.
Urs got out from behind her and explained that these where his friends and they meant him no harm. The four of them moved off together leaving Leslie guarding the door.
“Lord have mercy.” Spluttered Carlos. “Where did she come from? And how are you my friend?”
Before Urs could answer Sebastian regained his voice. “Are you sure you should be here?”
Urs nodded towards Leslie. “How would you like to tell her you didn’t want to do something? I am ok. Another few hours and it will be over. I cannot let my fans down.”

The music to the final song of the night and indeed the tour danced through the building. Fans shouted and clapped and cheered. To them it had been a wonderful night. To David, Sebastian and Carlos it had been nerve wracking. Keeping a watch on Urs the whole time. And for Urs, he had no idea how he had made it through the last three songs. He felt sure he had missed his cue a few times. And now he could feel his strength slipping away. All he had to do was get off stage.. At last the final notes. The group made a quicker exit than normal, Urs going first. No sooner had he reach backstage when his head began to spin and he collapsed. Straight into the arms of nurse Leslie. She scooped him up effortlessly and made her way through the crowd. Hot on her heels were Carlos, Sebastian and David.
David shouted at her”Where are you taking him?”
Nothing. She kept moving, never once showing any sign that Urs’ weight was a hindrance. As they burst outside into the night air they were greeted by several paramedics and an ambulance. Leslie placed Urs straight into the back of the ambulance and began to shut the doors as the paramedics jumped in.
Carlos, David and Sebastian began to shout urgently. Leslie looked at them and spoke with a voice so sweet it could have belonged to an angel. “’There’s a car waiting for you. The driver knows which hospital we are going to. Don’t worry. He will be ok. We will see you there.”
Leslie was indeed a good nurse. She had pre empted what the night might bring. Her own medical opinion was that Urs should never have left the hotel. But the powers that be would not listen. So she did the next best thing. Be ready. Ambulance ordered. Car ordered. Considering how the night had turned out she was glad she had.

In the hospital waiting room Sebastian rocked back and forth from one leg to the other, Carlos sat tapping the edge of a small table next to his chair with his fingers and David paced up and down the corridor. He shoved his hands in his pockets more for the fact he needed to do something with them than for any other reason and pulled out a crumpled piece of paper. It was the note he had been given the night before. What he read stopped him in his tracks. The note read….
Dear IL Divo
I have no idea whether you will get to read any of the messages I have tried to send. But it is from a worried heart that I send them. I am very worried about you. Especially Urs. He’s not well and this tour is taking its toll on you. If you should need a place of rest and tranquillity at the end of it all I am offering it to you. Here in Australia. A place so private your own mothers would not know where to look for you.
Check out you website I am there. Tracey Coleman.

David walked back to the others. “Hey fellas I got a note from a fan last night.”
“So what else is new?” Sebastian said sarcastically.
“No, you don’t understand. Last night when I was out there by myself. She gave me this note after she announced to the whole place that Urs had collapsed. That’s why they started to sing his name. Look.” He handed the note so Sebastain and Carlos could read it. “I think we should check this out.”

“Er David..” Sebastian’s tone changed. “I’ve seen this before.”
“Me too” echoed Carlos.
They looked at each other and spoke in unison. “The web site”
David stared at them “what do you mean the web site?”
“You now the message board they have for us were fans can leave messages. This is on my individual site.” said Sebastian
“Mine too’ Said Carlos.
“You mean the exact same thing?” David was a little worried. “Sounds like a crank to me.”
“Whether it is a true invitation or not it shouldn’t be too hard to find out” Carlos let one of his cheeky smiles slip out. “Besides I reckon no one would look for us back in Australia.”
David sighed. “So if this turns out to be genuine you want us to think about it?”
“No’ Carlos said “I want us to go.”
“Me to” Sebastian jumped in. “I know it is another long plane flight but it might be worth it, How about we ask Urs when he wakes up.”
“OK. But I think it is a mistake.” Said David with a gloomy tone.
“So if it is, we go to the Bahamas for a few weeks. I could certainly use the time to work on my tan.” Carlos injected.
Both Sebastian and David groaned.
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PostSubject: Respite Downunder chapter 6   Sun May 17, 2009 5:37 am

Chapter 6
The phone rang and startled Tracey into consciousness. Up to this point she has been peacefully sleeping. She grabbed the phone next to the bed before it rang anymore and looked at the clock as she answered. It was 3am.
“Hello”
“Er hello. Can I speak to Tracey Coleman please?”
Tracey sat up in bed and rubbed her eyes. “This is Tracey.” She did not recognise the voice on the other end of the line. Reaching over she switched on her lamp.
“Hi. This is David. David Miller. From…”
Now she was cranky. “OK bud who put you up to this. Was it Nat?”
“No I don’t think you understand. You sent us a message.”
“Yes I know about that and I’ve been getting crank calls ever since. Try to do something nice and this is what I get?”
David was beginning to worry that she would hang up. “Please listen to me. You were right Urs was very ill.”
Something in his voice made Tracey listen but she was still defensive. “So, everyone knows that.”
“I need to convince you that I am who I say I am.”
Again his voice. Tracey had the sick feeling that this really was David Miller. “Ok, convince away.”
“Ok. Just a minute.”
Tracey could here shuffling of sorts at the other end. Next minute there was another voice on the phone.
“Hi Tracey, this is Sebastian.”
And another
“Hello Tracey, this is Carlos”
And another
“Hello Tracey, this is Urs.”
It was Urs’ voice that convinced her they were the real thing. David got back on the phone.
“Now do you believe me?”
“Yes Mr Miller I do. Urs is still not very well is he?”
“No he isn’t and he doesn’t seem to be getting any better. Is your offer still open?”
“OH my goodness of course it is, for as long a you need. I’ll need a couple of days to get things sorted. Please don’t tell me you are at Sydney Airport.”
“Heavens no. In the Uk. Are you sure about this?”
“Of course I am sure about it. I wouldn’t have sent the message if I did not intend to follow through.”
There seemed to be some relief in David’s voice this time. “I am so pleased to hear you say that. What would you like us to do?”
“Get yourselves to Melbourne and I can do the rest.”
“But didn’t you just say you were in Sydney?”
“I did. But Melbourne is closer for you to get to where we will be going. Look, I will give you my email address and we can do things that way.”
“I think we have it from the web site.”
“Not this one you don’t.”
“You don’t perhaps work for a security company do you.” David said, not expecting a response.
“Maybe something like that. So now, if we are going to do this we need to set down some ground rules.”

Tracey spent the best part of an hour on the phone with David. She had some very specific rules they needed to abide by. All of which he said they would. The biggest was that no one and she meant no one was to know where they were going. All they knew was that she would meet them at Melbourne airport and to bring warm clothes. Before she hung up she asked David to talk to the people that ran the web site and have all her messages and profile, in fact anything that related to her taken off.
She checked the web site a few days later and true to his word they were all gone.
During those days she had made phone calls to her friends Sue and Simon, arranging for the group to be booked in for 8 weeks. David originally had said 4 to 6 weeks and Tracey had explained that they would need time to get their strength back and 8 weeks would be better. And if they wanted or needed more time they could have more time. She won that discussion.

After David had gotten off the phone with her he mused over the fact that he thought Tracey and that nurse that had looked after Urs could have been related.

So it seems that Il Divo will be heading back Down Under unofficially.
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PostSubject: Respite Downunder chapter 7   Sun May 17, 2009 5:38 am

Chapter 7
It was 7am in the morning. It was coolish but thankfully not too cold and not raining. Tracey was waiting at the arrivals lounge of Melbourne Airport for Il Divo. Their unofficial visit. She had thought about trying to get them straight from the airport to the Abel Tasman. The ferry that left for Tasmania, but thought better of it. They were booked into a hotel for the day and would be leaving on the night crossing which got them into Tassie (Tasmania) at 7am. As she had not told them about Tasmania she was assuming that they thought they would be staying in Melbourne. There was a reason for the double handling. They could have just as easily transferred flights in Melbourne for Tassie but Tracey wanted to make sure that no one knew where they had gone.

Through the door of the arrivals Tracey spotted David first, then Sebastian, Carols and Urs. Her heart sank. Urs was bringing up the rear like a little lost puppy. He looked awful. His eye were sunk, he was pale. It seemed that he was stooping when he walked as though he had the weight of the world on his shoulders. No life, no excitement. What on earth had they done to him?
It was then that David spotted her and he waved, picking up the pace and dragging his bag behind them. Tracey smiled and waved back, all the while looking through the crowd to see if anyone had recognised them. Pretty safe at the moment. She approached the barrier and shook his hand. “Glad you made it.” She looked passed him to Urs. “David. He’s…….”
David just shook his head. “I know, He slept all the way through the trip. I can’t tell you how worried we all are about him.”
By then Sebastian and Carlos had caught up. They introduced themselves. Carlos by kissing her hand and Sebastian by a gentle kiss on each check.
Tracey looked around the crowd again. There were flickers of recognition in a few faces so it was time to get them moving. “I think we better keep moving. Don’t want to give people enough time to figure out who you are.” She looked passed them all and into those lost eyes of Urs. He smiled weakly; subconsciously she brushed a wayward curl from his face and back into place, placed a gentle kiss on his forehead, tucked her arm in through his free one and silently guided him out to the waiting car. The others followed.
It was a stretch limo with and equally stretched driver. He was 6’10”. David was thinking 6’8’ but Tracey new. She had asked him once.
Tracey guided Urs into the back of the limo. “Ok the rest of you. Jimmy will take care of the bags. Quickly before anyone sees you.”
They all scrambled into the back of the limo. Tracey waited for Jimmy to fix the bags and got in herself. As they drove off Tracey divulged the rest of the plan. After a few initial grumbles they agreed that it was for the best.
“So I booked you a fully stocked suite. There is a gym, entertainment area.” Carlos gave her a cheeky smile. Tracey cleared her throat and continued. She held up a finger at Carlos “Not one word…”
The others all laughed. Sebastian slapped him on the shoulder. “She’s quick my friend. Too quick for you.”
The all laughed that was except for Urs. Silent Urs. Tracey looked at David. He just shrugged his shoulders.

Tracey had arranged for them to by pass reception. They could get to their room straight from the hotel underground garage. Jimmy was to take care of everything else.
True to her word the room had everything. Big screen TV. Internet access, fully equipped gym, I pod stations. “I figure you techno nerds better get a last hit before we enter the twilight zone.”
They all looked at her. “Remember the rules. No mobiles, no TV, nothing.”
“Sounds like we are heading for deliverance country.” David said a little concerned.
Tracey smiled. “Who said we weren’t” She walked around the room and opened the doors to each bedroom. “We are all bunking together for the day. So if you want to catch a few zeees we leave at 8.30pm.” Tracey turned and looked at them standing in a row and walked towards Urs, took his hands and guided him to his room. “You, I think need to put your head on a pillow and dream sweet dreams for a while.”
Urs said nothing just followed her.

When she returned to the main room the guys were seated at the table and Jimmy had brought up their bags. She sat down between David and Carlos. Her tone was stern. “Why on earth did people let him get this way and you three don’t look much better either. Its no wonder no one recognised you at the airport.”
They all looked at her a little hurt. “Oh please. You have done a valiant job of putting up this false wall to the rest of the world. Well I am here to tell you that it stops here and now. For the next 8 weeks it is all about you” She looked straight at Sebastian “And you” She looks at Carlos “And you.” Looking at David. “And that poor wounded soul lying in there.” Pointing to the room Urs was sleeping in. “Your manager should be shot.”
Both Carlos and David where about to interrupt when Tracey stood to her feet. She was on a roll and they knew it.
“What are they thinking? That pushing you all to a nervous break down is good for the bottom line.” She was pacing as she talked and spun around to address the three of them as they sat in silence not daring to interrupt. “ We all know it is about the money and for those corporate types it is always about how much, how fast. They don’t give a flying fig about the music, the art or the artist.”
Carlos wanted to find out what a flying fig was but thought better of it. A question for later.
Tracey was still pacing around the room. “And when you are of no use to them anymore because you don’t bring in enough of that money they just discard you like, like a piece of rotten meat. It makes me mad.”
The guys had thought she was finished, how wrong they were.
“And what makes me madder is you let them do it to you.”
David had had enough. “Now hold on a moment” He rose from his seat to confront and intimidate her. He blew it.
Tracey stepped closer to him as defiant as ever poking him in the chest and making him sit back down. “No. I get it. In the beginning you all realised you have this great opportunity to see your dreams fulfilled. But that is no reason to give up you rights and freedom.
Carlos sprung to his feet but soon sat down again when Tracey glared at him “We gave up nothing, we….”
“Oh really. Then tell that to Urs. You don’t get it do you. It is because of their greed that you have the power now. The power to do things on your terms. Now is the time to set things down how you want them. Now, when your star is the brightest in the sky. I have no doubt that you will shine for a long time to come but you need to be the ones that make this happen.”
Carlos mumbled something under his breath to Sebastian. Tracey shot him a look but it was Sebastian that answered.
“He said you sound like his wife.”
“She’s a smart woman.” As the words came out of her mouth Tracey realised she had done what she swore not do. Cyclone Tracey had hit again. Taking a deep breath she began to apologise. Her voice was calm and soothing. Quite a contrast to a few moments ago. “I am so, so sorry. I promised I wouldn’t do that. It’s just that it gets my wick when I see what has happened.”
Now Carlos is very confused and Sebastian is not far behind. “Flying figs and wick? I don’t understand.”
Tracey smiled at Carlos.” Just means it makes me mad”
“OH THAT. That I understand. Passion, I understand.
As she walks behind him she taps him gently on the top of the head. “Yes, we ALL know you understand passion Carlos.”
They all laugh.
Tracey heads to the door. “Well, I have a few things to sort out I will be back later. Make yourselves at home.”

The room was silent for a while as the three of them watched her leave. It was Sebastian that spoke first. “I wonder if all Australian women are that passionate.”
Carlos Absentmindedly adjusted the collar of his shirt. “Oh I hope so….”
“ Carlos…” David interjected. “You’re a married man”
Sebastian put his arm around David’s shoulder. “I guess it is up to us to find out then”
“No.” Said David. “It is up to me. You already have your Diva from Down under. So I guess all that hard work is left up to me.”
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PostSubject: Respite Downunder chapter 8   Sun May 17, 2009 5:39 am

Chapter 8
It was about 5.30pm when Tracey heard stirring coming from David’s room. She had used the time on her own to check in with Nat. Who was probably the most jealous woman on the planet. But Tracey had placated her by roping her into helping with a few of her plans. Nat had used that wide net of friends in the right places to keep track on the travel itinerary of certain people that Tracey did not wish to be any were near Australia let alone Melbourne. It was via Nat that she kept tabs on the group as they made their own travel plans. She probably knew what flight they were getting before they did. Mind you, when Nat realised they had not booked first class she did it for them. Just her way of making things better. So far so good. No reports from Nat to be concerned about, but it was early days yet. Tracey switched off the computer as David entered the room. She smiled. His hair was tussled and it looked like he had slept in his clothes. David caught her gaze.
“I must look a sight.” Said David, desperately trying to make his hair behave.
Tracey just sighed. “mmmmmm But it is a sight I could stand to look at for a while.”
David shot her a look and blushed all at the same time. Not knowing whether he should go back into his room.
Tracey broke the tension. “You want a coffee?” She knew she had embarrassed him so making light of it seemed the best way to overcome the awkwardness in the room. By the time he answered she was already in the small kitchen.
“Yeah that would be good.” David sat at the table and sighed. “I feel like I should be doing something.”
“You should be.” Tracey raised her head to look at him. “You should be sitting there waiting for your coffee.”
She came back to the table with two mugs and a plunger of coffee, milk, sugar and a plate of sandwiches on a tray. Placing the sandwiches in front of David. “I asked room service to send some up just in case.”
“They look good. I didn’t realise I was hungry.”
Just then Sebastian appeared looking more dishevelled than David had.
“mmmm another sight to behold.” Tracey winked at David.
David beckoned Sebastian to join him at the table. “The coffee is good. “
Sebastian was eyeing off the sandwiches. “Can I have one of those” reaching for David’s plate and getting his hand slapped by Tracey.
“No you can’t, but you can have a plate all of your own. How about that?”
“Oh yes please.” Sebastian sounded like a gleeful school boy and Tracey let out a little giggle as she returned to the fridge for more food.
Carlos stepped out of his room and David pointed to him. “How does he do that?”
They all looked. Carlos was immaculate. Not a thing out of place, looking like he had just stepped off the front page of HQ.
It was Tracey that spoke as she brought another plate of sandwiches to the table. “He hangs from the roof so his clothes don’t crease.”
David and Sebastian laughed. Carlos was not so sure. “No I don’t. I…”
It’s alright Carlos, She’s joking.” Sebastian giggled.
Tracey bent down and whispered in David’s ear. “No. He just spent 45 minutes at the mirror before he would leave the room.”
David gave in to the belly laugh, something that he had not done for a long, long time.
Carlos and Sebastian knew they were out of the loop. It looked like Carlos was pouting.
“You make fun of me I know it.”
Tracey entwined her arm in Carlos’ and moved him to the table. “Yes I was, but in the sweetest way possible.”

The party of 4 sat around the table for sometime talking about things in general, teasing each other. Tracey picked up a few words of French and Spanish and watched them slowly relax. They could have been four friends catching up over afternoon tea. That is until they heard the cry. It was a cross between a wail and a cry. Tracey’s heart sank. The 3 guys were on their feet in a second. They all raced to Urs’ room. David swung the door open so hard it hit the wall. There was Urs sitting bolt upright in bed, He was drenched and looked terrified. For some reason his eyes fixed on Tracey. She moved forward and sat next to him on the bed. If she could have traded places with him she would have.
“It’s ok my lost one. We are here.”
Urs stammered as he spoke. “It, it was so dark and cold. I couldn’t get back…I…There was nothing, I felt nothing.. I….”
Tracey once again brushed his curls from his forehead. She turned to his concerned friends. “Can you fellas leave us alone for a while?”
Silently they left the room, David closing the door behind him.

Tracey positioned herself on the bed so that she could hold Urs’ hands. He was shaking, his head was bowed. “You want to talk about it?”
Without lifting his head he spoke. “You wouldn’t understand?”
“Mmmmm, Understand the blackness, That deep ,deep empty blackness that goes on forever consuming all your thoughts and dreams and turning them into more never ending blackness. Or maybe it is the cold I won’t understand. Being so, so terribly cold and alone that you think your bones have frozen, but then waking up to find yourself covered in sweat. Scared to go to sleep and scared to be awake because you can’t tell the difference between the two anymore.”
Urs’ eyes had fixed on Tracey’s as she spoke. She smiled at him sweetly and squeezed his hands. “I’ve paid a visit. Not a place I want to go back to. But if I can find my way out so can you.”

Urs shook his head and squeezed her hands this time. “I don’t know, I feel like I have been consumed, swallowed up by and evil monster and it won’t let me go.”
“And that might be true. But Urs.” Tracey touched him gently under the chin so he would look at her again. “You can make it let you go, you can get back. You know why?”
He shook his head.
“Because you have a guide, someone who has been where you need to go, someone who has seen the road, someone who won’t let you do this all on your own. I promise to be here for you for as long as you need me to be.”

Urs looked into her eyes. What he saw was a soul full of love and compassion. A deep pool of tenderness. But oddly enough he also saw a sadness. He knew at that moment that Tracey was telling the truth. She understood all to well where he was. “Do you promise, I mean really promise to stay with me even it if takes forever.”

Tracey shuffled up the bed a little so she was close enough to feel his breath on her face and gaze straight into his eyes, still holding his hands. “I promise as God is my witness that I will stay by your side until my last earthly breath if that is what it takes.
Urs sighed and gave her a weak smile.
”My sweet lost one. I know you have been hurt so badly and it makes this feel so much worse. It’s ok to hurt and I promise you won’t be lost forever.”
Tracey kissed him gently on the cheek and stood up. “Now I think maybe you should have a nice long shower and I should have a chat to those three mother hens out there. What do you say? Then maybe something to eat.”
“No brussel sprouts.” Was his reply.
Tracey shook her head. “Whatever makes you think I would make you eat those horrible little things. Demonic food that they are.”
Urs had to smile at that, if nothing else they had that in common.


Tracey rejoined her three very concerned looking companions. Who had taken up their same brooding positions as the hospital. Carlos tapping on the table, Sebastian starring out the window, rocking from side to side and David wearing a hole in the carpet from his pacing. They turned in unison when she entered the room. Tracey put her hand up to stop the barrage of questions before they started.
“He’s ok, having a shower. Am I right in saying this is not the first time this has happened?”
Sebastian piped up. “No, no. But we thought he was getting better as he doesn’t have as many nightmares.”
“But that’s not the case is it?” Said David
“If anything he was getting worse. He’s in a very dark place right now and I think it has only been the fact that you have all been together that has kept him from slipping from us.”
Carlos was mortified. “What are you saying…”
Sebastian had the start of tears in his eyes when he answered for her. “She’s saying the he could have died.”
Carlos shot a look at Sebastian and then back to Tracey. “No, that is not possible.” He to was choking back his emotions.
“I am afraid that it is very true.” Tracey’s voice was calm but you could hear the concern. “We could have lost an angel.”
David was standing at the window. Through its reflection you could see the tears rolling down his face.
Sebastian went to stand next to him. “How could we have been so blind?”
His question was not aimed at anyone in particular but Tracey answered. “Because you are all so very tired and trying to fight your own battles. It has taken all of your strength to keep yourselves going.”
David swung around from the window. His face was flushed and damp from the tears.
“That’s not good enough. We should have been there for him. He would have been there for us”
Carlos and Sebastian nodded in agreement.
Tracey walked over to David and touched him tenderly on the arm. “In a way he was.” They all looked at her. “I am guessing that when you realised just how ill he was you began to pay a little more attention to yourselves, unconsciously maybe.
Urs has made sure that no one else followed him. David… You took a big chance to get here, you have been there for him the whole time” She turned to look at the other two. “You’ve been there for each other. I can see it. In my heart I know you have.”

The door to Urs’ room opened and out stepped their angel, pale and broken but alive and a small smile on his face. Something that the other three had missed for such a long time.

David could not put his finger on it but something had changed. “How you feeling Urs?”
“Better.” Urs voice was weak but again David heard a change. He wondered if the others had.
Tracey waved a plate of sandwiches under his nose. “Not a brussel sprout in sight.”
Urs laughed a little and David shot Tracey a look. How on earth did she know he didn’t like those beasties? “Well fellas I need to check us out and get things sorted for tonight. Do you think I can leave you alone for just a little while without you getting into trouble?”
Carlos answered in his oh so flamboyant style. “We do not get into trouble. We are Il Divo.”
“Sweetie. You could get into trouble just standing still.” With that she left David and Sebastian laughing, Even Urs had a smile on his face and Carlos was standing there looking at a loss but knowing she had done it again. Made fun of him and he had no clue how.
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PostSubject: Respite Downunder chapter 9   Sun May 17, 2009 5:40 am

Chapter 9
David, Urs, Sebastian and Carlos found themselves standing on the ferry dock at Devonport on the Island of Tasmania in the cool crispness of an early morning, grateful in a way. The night crossing had not been the roughest but it has not been the smoothest either. They had tried sleeping which had worked for a while but they all found themselves on deck at about 5am.
It seemed to them that wherever they went Tracey had friends she could call on to do some extraordinary things. Last night they had been given permission to board early. Not only that, Tracey had them all decked out in outfits that the ferry crew wore. Just a precaution she had said. And now standing on the dock, they were the last to leave. All except the Captain and he and Tracey seemed to know each other well. Jimmy had accompanied them and was busily loading their things into the back of a four wheel drive just up the road a bit. He was heading to Hobart to see his sister for a few days before heading back to Melbourne. He wandered back to the guys to say goodbye. He shook their hands one after the other. “You fellas take it easy. Sue and Simon are nice people. They’ll look after you.”
“Jimmy” It was David “Do you work for Tracey?”
Jimmy had that knowing smile. “No mate, worked with her back a few years. She calls from time to time. See if I can help out, with special projects that sort of thing.”
Carlos injected. “So, we are a special project?”
“Mate you are a VERY Special project. Don’t know what you did but something got her all fired up and incensed and when Cyclone Tracey gets moving you either go along for the ride or get out of her way. So far I have found the rides she has taken me on to be interesting.”
It was David again. “You’re not a chauffer are you?”
“It’s something I do.” With that a car horn sounded. “Best be off, don’t want to keep my ride waiting. See you next time you are in town.” And he was gone, all 6’10” of him.
Sebastian watched over David’s shoulder. “What did he mean? It is something that I do.”
Carlos joined them. “It means that there is much more to our new Australian female friend than meets the eye, is that not so?”
David just nodded.
The whole time Urs had been watching Tracey as she talked to the Captain and to Jimmy as well as the two men now waiting next to the four wheel drive that he had loaded with their gear. These were not just casual acquaintances. These were friendships. They did not shake hands, they hugged and kissed. There was an air of safety and trust to their body language. As if to prove a point to him, Tracey hugged the Captain and gave him a gentle good bye kiss on the cheek. She saw Urs as she came off the ferry, Smiled and stroked his back gently when she approached. “How are you doing this morning cowboy?”
“Stomach’s a bit tender after last night.”
“Yeah, I did order a smooth crossing but I guess they didn’t get the message. Sorry about that. So how about we get the others and get this caravan on the road?”
“How much further?”
“Only a few hours and I promise not a big wave or a brussel sprout in sight.”
Urs laughed. It was only a short laugh but it was a laugh, it was audible. He felt it. It seemed to stir something in him.
Tracey heard it too. It was a small step in his recovery but it was a step in the right direction.

They joined the others. Tracey kept walking. “Come on then. We don’t want to keep Simon waiting. Sue is probably waiting for the supplies he has.” The two men smiled as they approached. Tracey kissed each one in turn. “So, Simon. You stay in town last night?”
“Yeah. Suzzie sent me down at lunch time to get a few more things. You women always need a few more things”
All the men surrounding her smiled.
“Ar but Simon it is for the men in our lives that we need these few things. Anyway I expect it was not a total loss. You catch up with some of your buddies?
“Sure did” Simon looked at the group. “How about we get your friends back to the property, get settled? Two with me, three with Darrel?”

Carlos and Sebastian jumped in with Simon, David and Urs headed for the other car.
David sang out. “I’m riding shot gun.”
“That’s fine with me because I’m driving.” Tracey smirked
And Darrel headed for one of the back doors with Urs. “I knew I should have gone with Simon.”
Urs looked at Darrel a little puzzled. “Is there something we should know about her driving?”
“Nope, not a thing.” Darrel quipped as he got in the back and fastened his seat belt. “Not a thing.”
As they drove David picked up the conversation. “Simon’s south African isn’t he?”
“Don’t tell me you have a problem with that?”
“No, no, no. It’s just that you seemed to be surrounded by a diverse and interesting bunch of people. I was just curious.”
After that they settled into casual conversation. Tracey told David and Urs all about Simon and Sue, there reason for coming to Australia, the reason they had started the guest house. Carlos and Sebastian were getting pretty much the same pitch from Simon himself in the other car.
David and Urs found out that Darrel had a very dry wit and that Tracey was a maniac behind the wheel. A very good driver but still a maniac. And she seemed to enjoy terrorising her passengers. At one point Urs leaned over to Darrel. “These roads do have speed limits don’t they?”
“Yep”
“But she doesn’t care does she?”
“Nope.”
“I’m guessing the police don’t get down this way to often.”
“Nope, mind you I think she is taking it a little easy on you guys. Should see her on a quad mate.”
“You call this easy.’ Urs caught Tracey looking at him through the rear view mirror. She had the cheekiest, biggest grin on her face. All he could do was hold on and smile back. He had to admit that he was having fun.
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PostSubject: Respite Downunder chapter 10   Sun May 17, 2009 5:40 am

Chapter 10
The 2 hours to the guest house seemed to fly by. For David, Urs and Darrel it literally had in a few places. More than once Tracey got all four wheels off the ground. It was obvious to David in the front seat she was having a wonderful time. As the boundary gate to the property appeared Both Urs and David expected her to slow down. She didn’t. David didn’t’ know about is friend in the back but he was trying with all his might to punch the invisible brakes on his side of the car. Tracey giggled with glee when she saw what he was doing. Darrel piped up from the back. “Orrr Trace, don’t bend the gate again it’s a devil to get unbent.”
Urs shot Darrel a horrified look and then watched through the front windscreen as the gate seemed to get larger every second and Tracey hadn’t even started to apply the brakes. David already had his eyes closed. Then it happened. She punched the brakes, the car swerved just a little in the dirt road. The back end just nudging to the left then to the right, then straight again, then it was quiet. They had stopped. David opened his eyes and Urs craned his neck from the back seat to see where they had stopped. They both swallowed hard at same time. Neither one of them could see the gate but they had not hit anything either.
“See Darrel.” Tracey said with a slight hint of Cheshire cat in her voice. “No unbending required”
Muttering to himself, Darrel got out of the car and opened the gate so she could drive through. Once through she stopped to let him back in.
“I’ll catch the next shuttle if you don’t mind, should be here in oh an hour and a half.”
Tracey drove off.
Urs watched Darrel from the back window as he perched himself on a fallen log next to the gate. “What’s he going to do just sit there until Simon comes along?”
“Yep.”
Thankfully the rest of the drive up to the guest house was a little more sedate.
As they pulled up, a slight, energetic woman in her fifties ran down the steps to greet them.
They knew how old she was, Tracey had told them that the guest house had been her 50th birthday present. For sometime Simon had wanted to retire from the mining industry and Sue was itching for a new protect. Over the past few years Sue had been involved in a few ventures. All very successful financially but not rewarding enough for her personally. So when she came upon the idea of the guest house Simon went shopping. What stood in front of them was the result.
So bounding down the steps towards them was this woman who looked more like a 30 year old and certainly did not act like she knew she was 50. Tracey and sue fell into each others arms. “Oh give me a look at you girl. It’s been too long. How’s the gate?”
“Aw Suzzie Q. No unbending this trip.”
“Darrel will be pleased.”
David interjected. “I think we left him examining the gate inch by inch back there.”
Sue looked at Tracey “Tell me you didn’t. Poor Darrel was in your car? You little minx. One of these days you are just going the plough straight through the thing then where will you be?”
“At the other side and Dazza will have a lot of unbending to do.”
“Oh I have missed you Ace” Sue looked at David and Urs. She knew by Tracey’s description who was who. But Urs looked far worse than she had expected. “Well, come on in boys and we can get you settled.”
Tracey and Sue let the men go before them and followed arm in arm. Sue’s voice was full of concern and she spoke quietly. “Ace, I’ve seen corpses that have looked better than your friend. He’s been in a bad place hasn’t he?”
Tracey squeezed Sue’s hand. “They have all been there to some degree but he really got lost. I was so scared when I saw him. I really think that if someone hadn’t gotten to him he would have just waisted away. I am sure if the others had not been around he would have died. Oh Suzzie Q. What would have happened if they had not got my message?”
They were almost at the front door. ”Well we don’t have to worry about that now. They are here and you know how good this place is for people.”

David and Urs stood just inside the front door awe struck. The room was massive, completely made of wood. With the most beautiful cathedral ceiling they had seen. The support beams themselves were a work of art. To the left end of the room was a huge open fire place and an equally huge solid wood table that could have sat 18 people with ease. Looking down to the right was a lounge area. Again it could have accommodated a large number of people. This being the case it was curious how warm and inviting the house was. It seemed to beckon you with its love and caress you with its tenderness.
The girls just let David and Urs soak in the house for a few moments. Each wall of the room was decorated with photos and artefacts. Many they would come to find out came from South Africa. Some from the trips that Sue and Simon had made around the world, some that people who had stayed at the house had sent to them. David looked at a few of the photos on the wall nearest to him. He was surprised to recognise a few faces. Sue smiled knowing which photos he had seen.
“So, you fellas up to breakfast?”
Both David and Urs turned at the sound of Sues voice.
“Yes please Ma’am”. It was Urs.
David echoed his words. “That would be very -nice Ma’am”
“OOO don’t they both just have the cutest accents and I would love to hear you talk all day but this Ma’am business has to stop. My name is Sue. You can call me Sue, Suzzie. Whatever suits you” She pushed her way between the two of them, entwined herself in their arms and guided them to the table. Tracey followed.

David was on his second stack of the best pancakes he had tasted in a long time and Urs had managed to eat a home made English muffin and egg when they heard the other car arrive. The smell of brewed coffee had permeated the house when Carlos and Sebastian walked in. Their reaction was the same as David’s and Urs’ had been, right down to the surprise at who was in the photo on the wall. Simon and Darrel had done what Sue and Tracey had done, left the boys to soak up the house.
Simon was always in awe of this little introduction that seemed to take place. It was the same every time. It seemed that the house was scrutinising her guests. Making sure it approved. On the rare occasion that this did not happen, guests had not stayed long. A while ago Simon had plucked up the courage to say something to his wife about his concern for this somewhat unusual phenomenon. He should not have been surprised at her reaction. She was neither surprised nor unduly worried about it. Had told him it was the reason she had said yes to buying this particular house.

David beckoned the new arrivals to join them. Sebastian eyed the last pancake on David’s plate and his stomach growled, he blushed and everyone laughed.
Sue beckoned him to sit. “You must be Sebastian?”
He looked up at her. “You can tell that by the noise my stomach made?”
She smiled at him. “Oh precious. I know I am smart but no. This sultry fellow over here.” She points to Carlos as he sits at the opposite side of the table. “That is Carlos so you must be Sebastian. But now that you have spoken, how could I not know who you are. So I am guessing you would not mind a few pancakes for breakfast?”
Sebastian was about to answer when Sue stopped him. “Before you say anything, I will tell you what I told the others. My name is Sue. Not Ma’am. You can call me Sue, Suzzie. We don’t put on airs and graces here. We’re just plain people. Ok”
Sebastian nodded his head. “Does that mean I still get my pancakes? Ma…. Sue?” Everyone laughed and Sue bent over Sebastian and pinched both his cheeks at the same time. “Oh you are just too dreamy. Of course you can have pancakes.” Standing up she addressed Carlos. “And you my fine Latin lover any special requests?”
That cheeky grin appeared on Carlos’ face and the other guys knew he would say something that would most likely get him into trouble. “Special request, yes, but I don’t think I can have it for breakfast.”
Sue let out such a laugh it surprised the guys. “You never know, you never know.” With that she left for the kitchen.
Carlos looked around the table. “I think I didn’t order breakfast. Maybe I should tell her.”
Tracey waved for him to sit back down. “Yes you did. You ordered the special.”
“So what is that?”
Tracey shrugged her shoulders and again the others laughed.

While this was going on Simon and Darrel had been shuffling between the car and the house with the bags. They had not taken then up to the first floor where the bedrooms were located but left them waiting just inside the door. Once this was done they joined the others at the table. Tracey poured them a cup of coffee each just as Sue came back out of the kitchen. She placed a stack of pancakes in front of Sebastian. “Mer… Thank you” Sebastian changed his French to English in his own sweet way being polite.
But all eyes were on Carlos’ breakfast. Sue put the plate down in front of him. He just starred at it. The others all smiled. He had a pancake but Sue had cut it into the shape of a heart and surrounded the plate with rose petals. He looked from his plate to Sebastian’s. “This is very sweet but only one.”
Just then Sue put another plate on the table. There was a stack of 6 which she had pushed a rose through so that it stood up and covered the top pancake with petals.
They all laughed.
“Touché” Said David.
Urs had been quiet throughout. He had given weak smiles at times and Tracey guessed it wouldn’t be long before he needed to rest for a while.
The group sat around the table for a little longer while Sebastian and Carlos finished their breakfast and David did a fine job of convincing Sebastian that he really did not want his last pancake. He grinned as he devoured it.
It was a nice place to be just that moment and Tracey really did not want to spoil it. Sensing her reluctance Sue came to the rescue. “Ok Fellas we need to get you squared away..”
Carlos jumped in before she could finish. “But I am not square. I don’t want to be square” He patted his chest.
The other fellas rolled their eyes and Sue smiled. “No Carlos you are just the right shape for cuddling” He seemed pleased with that answer. “It just means we will get you settled into your rooms.” He nodded that he understood. “So you need to hand them over”
Now they all looked puzzled. David spoke for them. “Hand what over sue?”
“Your mobile phones, I pods, blue tooth, blackberries, palm pilots, portable DVD players, CD players, wireless computers. In fact any technology that requires satellite, solar, batteries or any kind of power to run it. They will get locked up for the length of your visit”
“But how do you know we have any of that stuff?” Quipped Sebastian
Sue pointed to the door. “Better than any Airport scanner.”
The all shot a look at her. She was deadly serious. “Why do you think it took me so long to make the pancakes? I had to keep checking the scanner every time Simon brought in a bag.”

Tracey was finding it very, very difficult to keep a straight face. “I told you we were headed into the twilight zone and you better get your fix at the hotel in Melbourne. Besides there’s no mobile phone signal out here. If I had wanted you to be glued to computer screens or TV’s we could have stayed in England. You all agreed to the rules.”
David stood up first. “Yeah, Yeah. Come on guys we better get all that technology out of our bags.”
They all shuffled over to their respective bags and began to unload the offending items.
By the time they were finished it was a sizeable pile. It looked like the guys were a little shocked at just how much they had between them.
Sue and Tracey had been standing side by side watching this.
“Tell me Q. Has anyone ever challenged you to see that scanner of yours?”
“Na. I think they are all to frightened to just in case I am telling the truth.”
“So you lied to them?”
“No. That door is better than any airport scanner. Never said it was a scanner.”
Tracey nudged her friend playfully.
Simon began to pick up all the equipment. “Well I guess we know where all the excess baggage was.”
The four men watched in silence as their 21st century life disappeared along the hallway and out of sight.
Sue began to walk in the same direction. “Come on then grab you kit and we’ll get you set up.”
Each one grabbed his bags and followed Sue. They really did look like a line of pack mules. David made a sarcastic comment as he passed Tracey. “What no bell boys?” and got a playful smack on the back of the head for his troubles.
When they got back downstairs the place was empty. Sue had told them that lunch would be at twelve and they were free to wander around the property. Slowly they separated and began to scope out different parts of the house. David was not sure how he was going to cope without his x box and had found himself at the other end of the room per oozing the range of CD’s in the racks. He was amazed to find Wolf Mother next to Bach next to Credence Clear Water. The collection was extensive and extremely varied. David lent on the wall to take a closer look and it began to move. He had pushed an invisible button and the wall slid back to reveal a large TV with and even larger rang of DVD’s. Again, the subject matter was very wide from Fred Astare to Vin Diesel. It seemed that they had every genre of music and movie covered. He smiled when he saw that Il Divo had not been forgotten. Live at the Greek and Encora where among the collection. Maybe he wouldn’t get withdrawals after all.

Sebastian and Carlos had both found the Kitchen and were annoying Sue as she prepared for lunch. In the nicest possible way of course. She set them to work chopping up vegetables for the salad and preparing the garlic bread. Nothing like some down to earth home duties to mend the soul. David smiled at their laughter as he left the house.
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PostSubject: Chapter 11   Mon May 18, 2009 8:35 am

Chapter 11
Urs had wandered down the path for no particular reason except that it was there. Just next door to the guest house was Sue and Simons residence. Depending on how much care or help their guests needed or wanted this is where they lived. Very independent guests may rarely see them. Except for the weekly call to replenish supplies, or to take up the offer of the fishing and other activities on the property. Those guests who really wanted to be pampered had every opportunity to do so. Both Sue and Simon would accommodate as much as possible.
The track kept going until it came to a folk in the road. Urs stood there for a moment thinking which way he would go. Straight or to the right. He decided to take the turn to the right. Not to far down this track he came across a small wooden cottage. He stopped thinking that he had heard the sound of a cat meowing. He listened and was about to move off when he heard it again. Moving closer to the cottage he could see in the window. There was Tracey cradling a very large tortoise shell cat in her arms. Much as you would a baby. The cat was on its back nestled into her arm while she stroked its stomach but being very vocal. Urs smiled as he listened to Tracey talk to it. “I know I have been away for a while but mamma’s back now. Do you forgive me?”
As if the cat knew what she was saying it reached out a paw and gently touched her on the cheek. “See, I told you when we first came down here that this was the place for you and you weren’t very happy were you?” again the cat meowed. “Suzzie Q tells me you are happy to play Queen of the manor in the big house.”
Tracey nuzzled her face into the cat’s fluffy belly before putting it down on the floor. “Promise to be nice to our new guests Baby Girl. No using them as a human tree if they stand still too long.”
Urs heard a long meow and Tracey laughed. He had been so mesmerised by their interaction and did not realise that Tracey was heading out the door straight for him. By the time he did it was too late.
Tracey stopped in her tracks when she saw him. “Oh dear. I can see the headlines now. Mad bush women found talking to cats.”
Urs felt a little awkward like he had intruded on a very private moment. “No, it was very sweet. The cat seems to like you.”
“So you don’t think I am that a crazy cat woman that has 50 cats you read about in the paper?”
“How many do you have?” Urs asked a little perturbed.
“Only Baby Girl.”
“You call her Baby Girl? She’s a very big cat”
“I guess. You want to come in for a cuppa?”
Urs looked confused.
“A cup of tea. Or would you prefer something stronger?”
“No, Tea would be very nice.”
“Well in you come then. Take a load off.” Tracey could she he was not all that sure about what she had just said. “Take a set, make yourself at home.”
Urs nodded he understood.
Tracey busied herself making the tea. In time Urs would want to talk about things but she was not about to push him into a conversation he was not ready for. She was going to let him choose the pace. So their conversation was casual to start. They sat on the sofa as a gentle crisp breeze floated through the windows. They had been talking for about 20 minutes when Baby Girl jumped up on the sofa, looked Urs up and down and promptly made herself comfortable on his lap. Absentmindedly Urs began to stroke the cat as they talked. In response to this affection Baby Girl purred.
Tracey smiled. Baby Girl was a very good judge of character.
Urs and Tracey had been through several cups of tea but had fallen silent. Urs was tired but he did not want to go back to what might be an empty house and his room. He sighed. Baby Girl moved a little on his lap and he played with her ears. “I think the life of a cat is a good life. Especially this cat. Knowing there will always be someone there to hold you.”
In silence Tracey put her arm around him and he rested his head on her shoulder. After a little while his hands stopped moving through the cat’s fur and he was asleep. Baby Girl looked up at him and then to Tracey. Tracey put her finger to her lips to make the gesture to be quiet. The cat just put her head back down on Urs’ lap and went back to sleep. There they all sat. Tracey running her hands through Urs’ hair like her own grandmother had done when she was a child to comfort her. Baby Girl sleeping securely and Urs emersed in the peace and quiet that surrounded him. It would be the first time in a long time that he could remember having a dream that did not terrify him but gave him a feeling of safety.

While Urs slept. Tracey had two visitors. The first was Simon. As he approached the front door Tracey looked up and in silence smiled. Simon gave her a wave and retreated. Nothing needed to be said.
The second was David. He like Urs had found the cottage and was curious. As he approached the front door he was just about to knock when he saw Tracey, Urs and the cat. Urs looked so peaceful. But in his heart David wished it was he that Tracey was holding.
Tracey beckoned him to come in but he shook his head and left continuing his walk. He found Darrel a little later muttering to himself as he was fixing a fence. “Mind if I watch?”
Darrel looked at David” Yes I do, but you can help if you like”
“OK”
The two men started out in silence except for when Darrel gave David some instruction on what he wanted him to do.
“Darrel can I ask you some things?”
“Sure but if you get too nosey I’ll let you now.”
“Fair enough. Sue and Simon…’
“Great people.”
“Yeah…’
“Brought me over from Perth to help with this place.”
“Really.”
“Yep. Called up one day, offered me a job and a week later I was her, never looked back. Knew them before that though, when we all lived up north.”
David was beginning to think he would never get to ask his question. “So is that how they and Tracey met.”
“Cant say. They knew each other before I lobbed onto the scene. Trace and Sue used to do catering together. You know weddings, functions that sort of thing. I think that is how they hooked up. Not that Trace ever had to work. Ironic really.” Darrell stopped.
David could see that he was thinking about something. “What’s Ironic?”
“Mmmm, Ironic… oh yeah. Well the fact that the one person I know who really does not need to work is also one of the hardest workers I’ve ever known. She can get very passionate about things.” Darrel shot David a look. “I guess that bit you already knew?”
David smiled and nodded. It was obvious that he was not going to get the answers he wanted. They would have to wait for a later time.

It was close to an hour before Urs stirred. As he did Baby Girl moved sensing that her resting place was about to change. Gently she jumped from Urs’ lap just as he opened his eyes. It took him a few moments to realise where he was and who he was with. When he was fully awake he got very nervous. He sat up and looked into Tracey’s face. She smiled a sweet harm smile that melted his heart. There was no need to be afraid or nervous. Never before in his life had he been allowed just to be. Just to be Urs. Never before can he remember feeling this safe. And he was with someone he hardly knew.
Tracey smiled again. “Feeling better cowboy?”
Urs smiled and nodded. “I am so sorry. I never intended to fall asleep.”
Tracey ruffled his hair as she stood up giving him some space to himself. “Well Baby Girl didn’t seem to mind. She’s been on your lap the whole time. If she doesn’t mind neither do I. Besides you look kinda cute when you are asleep.”
Urs blushed a little and Tracey giggled as she walked out the front door leaving him standing in the room. Until she popped her head back in. “Well, are you coming? I reckon Sue has lunch ready.” And she was gone again. It took Urs a couple of seconds to realise he needed to follow her.
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PostSubject: chapter 12   Mon May 18, 2009 8:36 am

Chapter 12
Urs and Tracey arrived back at the house, just as David and Darrel did. They smiled at each other. David’s heart fluttered just a little as Tracey gave him a small kiss on the check. “So Dazza’s been putting you to work?”
“I don’t think I was much help really.” David looked at Urs as they entered the house. He was going to ask him about his afternoon but Sebastien and Carlos beat him to it.
“There you are.” Said Carlos exuberantly. “We’ve had a wonderful time in the kitchen with Sue.”
“Yes, yes she is a very funny Lady.” Said Sebastien.
As if on cue, Sue and Simon came from the kitchen laden down with plates of food.

The group spent a nice time over lunch but through it all Tracey kept an eye on Urs. He ate but he did not eat allot. David was watching the two of them with a little jealousy. He had no idea why. Tracey had not made any advances to either one of them and it did not seem that Urs’ little knap had changed that. But still he felt cheated somehow.
Tracey caught him looking at her and she winked and blew him a kiss. Moving from the table she walked behind Urs, letting her hand glide over his shoulders as she passed. Urs tapped her hand gently. As she got to David she bent down and whispered something to him and kept going out the front door. As the others talked and laughed around the table David followed her. Urs watched and sighed. She was? What was she? Urs could not put his finger on it. It was like he did not know her but he knew her. He felt like he should be jealous as David left with her but he wasn’t. Had she cast some spell over them? What ever it was, Urs was glad that they had met. Somehow he knew that he would be alright now.

As David caught up to Tracey she took hold of his hand and squeezed. “So what’s up big fella?”
They kept walking. “What’s up?…..I…. Oh this is ridiculous.” David was frustrated that he couldn’t just tell her how he felt.
Tracey walked a little further and sat herself on an out cropping of bedrock poking out from under the bush. She pulled David down beside her. “What’s ridiculous?”
“The fact that I have only known you a short time and I am jealous about the time Urs spent with you… And…. I know that is what he needs. But,” David looked her straight in the eyes and took hold of both her hands. “But that’s what I want” He let go of her hands and let out a sigh, pleading with his eyes.

Tracey was taken aback by his comments and the passion in which he had delivered them. It took all her strength to remain calm on the outside. While inside, well that was another matter. Yes she did find him rather alright and given a different set of circumstances may have let him peruse her. She may have even done the pursuing. But deep in her heart she knew she could not let this happen. She did not want to break his heart, even if it broke her own. So what she was about to say would be the hardest thing she’d done in a long while. She moved a little closer to him and smiled, gently touching his face. David closed his eyes for a moment at her touch. “Oh David, as much as I would love to spend all my time with you and I don’t just mean here in this place. It can’t happen.”
David cut her off. He had heard that glimmer of hope.” But why not? It is because we are musicians, because I’m a yank?” Tracey smiled at that but let him continue. “Sebastien has an Australian, Aussie girlfriend. I can make it work, I promise.”

Tracey could feel the emotions boiling up inside her. How easy it would be to give in and accept his idea. “No, my sweet prince. It is none of those things. It’s me; I can never give you what you want. As much as I would like to try.”
Again David cut her off. “You don’t know what I want.” He had become a little upset. “I want you to try; I want us to spend the rest of our lives together trying to figure out what we want.” He pulled her to her feet and gave her a kiss, holding her close.
For a moment Tracey was engulfed in the love and passion of this man. Something she had not had in her life for a long, long time. It would be so, so easy to give in. For a split second that’s what she almost did. ALMOST. She pushed him away gently, there was a tear running down her face and pain in her voice when she spoke. “Oh David. I truly wish I could be that person for you. I can’t explain why but, I can’t be her. Not for you, not for anyone. I am so sorry.” David was about to speak but she begged him to be quiet. Tracey swallowed hard. Her tears were flowing freely now. “I know this sounds cruel, but I would rather hurt you a little now than devastate you later. Even if it means you hate me”
David pulled her close again. “Hate. Every fibre of my being is telling me you are the one for me, and you are telling me I can’t have you. Yes I should hate you.” He had hold of her by the shoulders, looking down into her face. Tracey’s face filled with pain as she listened to his words. “I should walk away and never look back, let you know how it feels to loose someone you love.” He was yelling now, shaking her a little but Tracey did not protest. This was going to end on his terms not hers. She just let her heart break and the tears flow. Had this been a mistake? If it was it was all too late. David’s voice filtered back to her. “I want to scream it hurts so much.” He looked into her eyes and she could see the genuine anger and pain. But at that very moment David also saw her pain. He stopped shaking her, stopped yelling. For a few seconds they stood in silence just looking. Tracey needed for him to understand, but how could he understand something he knew nothing about. She would have to live the rest of her life with the outcome of the next few minutes.
David still had hold of her shoulders but his voice was soft and tender. “There really is something in your life that you think would hurt me that much?”
All Tracey could do was nod her head.
“And you can’t tell me can you?”
Again Tracey only shook her head.
David pulled her close, so her head rested on his chest and he stroked her hair gently as his own tears flowed. “I am so sorry. I don’t want to loose you.” He kissed her tenderly on the top of her head.
Tracey closed her eyes and held on to him. She wished she could hold onto him for eternity. Her voice was broken and quiet, torn with her tears. “Be my friend.”
David hugged her tighter. “I will always be your friend”
David hoped and prayed that by being her friend, one day she would trust him enough to let him know; let him see what it was that made it so hard for her to be able to love. One day he hoped to be the one she would love.”
Tracey and David spent the rest of the afternoon together. Not saying much but saying so much.
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PostSubject: chapter 13   Mon May 18, 2009 8:37 am

Chapter 13
The guest house was quiet. Sebastien and Carlos had tagged along with Simon as he went to check on a few things and Urs had taken himself off to the back veranda of the house. He had settled into a rather comfortable wooden lounge with the intention of reading. The scenery and wildlife caught his eye but before long he was asleep.
Sue had returned to her own house just next to the guest house. Tracey’s rules for the guests may have been no phones, no computer but that did not mean that the property resided in the dark ages. They had satellite phones, broadband. Even gps tracking on the quad bikes and horses just in case guests got into trouble. Simon, Darrel and Sue all carried pagers. So did Tracey but for this trip she has declined.
Sue was checking the emails for the day when she frowned. Making a mental note to tell Tracey as soon as she got back. She checked the weather, news, ordered a few things from Devonport which Simon could pick up next week. Tracey had asked her to keep an eye out for e mails from Nat. None today.
Normally Sue would let her guests decide how they wanted to live while at the guest house. But Tracey had wanted her to look after the boys for the first week then see how things progressed. She had to admit that she liked the idea of looking after them for a while. She missed having the whole family around to mother hen over. So once the paperwork was done she headed back to the guest house to work on dinner for that night. The boys had insisted that they all eat together. Simon, Darrel, Tracey and Sue.
There was a chill in the air so before she did anything Sue got the open fire going. Standing back watching her handy work it was then that she sensed more than heard anything. She looked around the room, nothing seemed out of place. Sue was about to dismiss that little voice and head to the kitchen when she thought better of it and let her feelings take over. She walked to the rear of the house. The door was open, she stopped dead. There on the floor lay Urs, curdled up in the foetal position, trembling. Sue knelt down beside him, shaking him, trying to wake him up. Urs moaned but did not wake. Sue pulled her pager off her belt and tapped in a message. It would come up on Simon and Darrel’s pagers as Sue 911. Once that was done she went back to helping Urs. Not able to get him off the floor she cradled him in her arms.

The four men were together, walking back to the guest house when the beeping interrupted their conversation. Both Simon and Darrel looked at their pagers and without a word started to run down the path. Leaving Sebastien and Carlos in stunned silence.
“I think maybe we should follow.” Said Carlos.
Sebastien just gave him this quizzical look and shouted sarcastically as he started to run “Tu Crois!”
Roughly translated he said “You think”
Simon ran into the house shouting for Sue.
“I’m down here!!!”
The all ran to the back of the house, Sebastien and Carlos bringing up the rear. David and Tracey had seen Sebastien and Carlos running down the path in front of them and without a word they both began to run. By the time they got to the house Simon, Darrel, Sebastien and Carlos were carrying Urs to the sofa. Tracey’s heart sank. He looked so pale. She pushed her way to the sofa and knelt down. As she ran her fingers through his hair, his eyes opened for a moment.
Sebastien’s voice trembled with apprehension “He won’t wake up.” He looked at David. “We don’t know how long he has been like this.”
Tracey barked a few commands at them. “You three go and sit over there.” Pointing to the other sofa. “Darrel, stoke that fire up we’re gonna need it. Simon…”
Simon interrupted as he started to walk away. “I’m on it Trace. Blankets.”
She nodded. “Q.. you think?”
Sue replied. “Yes I can handle that…” With that she was off into the kitchen.
Which left David, Sebastien and Carlos wondering what she was going off to handle.
Tracey stayed with Urs. She whispered to him as she stroked his hair. “You come back to me you here. I told you we would travel that road together. Remember I have the map. Urs….My sweet Swiss cowboy don’t leave me behind. You need to get out of the blackness.”
Simon arrived back with the blankets and draped them over Urs. Sue came back with a damp cloth for his forehead. Darrel eased up beside Simon. “You reckon I should call the doc?”
Simon shook his head “Let’s wait and see, Trace should be able to get him to come round.”
The other three sat watching. Not knowing what to do. David wanted so much to be by Tracey’s side. As if she knew what he was thinking, Tracey beckoned him over. “David can you come and pull him up the sofa a bit.”
Silently he did what he was asked then knelt beside her.
Tracey kissed him on the check. “He will be ok. You all will be in time.”
She began to talk to Urs again. This time he responded by screaming “No!!Nicht sie!!! Not her!!!” and trying to get off the sofa. David held him down and the others rushed to help. Simon, Sue and Darrel let his friends help him.
Tracey kept talking to him. “We’re here Cowboy.”
With that word spoken Urs stopped struggling, looking from Tracey to David to Sebastien to Carlos and back to Tracey, tears streaming down his face. “They took you. I couldn’t find you!!! You died….”
Tracey held his hands tight and smiled. “I am here. Living and breathing. I promised to stay with you and here I am. We’re all still here” She wiped his forehead and brushed his curls from his face. “But you can’t go off fighting demons on your own. You’ll keep scaring the stuffing out of everyone.”
Darrell spoke up. “Too flippin’ right mate.”
Urs sat up and his friends gave him space. David sat beside him. “You Ok?”
“I thought they were over. The nightmares. I had such a lovely dream when…” He stopped.
“When you were with Tracey? Yeah she kinda gets under your skin a bit”
“But it’s not over.”
“But it will be. We’ll make sure it is.”
Urs patted David on the knee. “Don’t take this the wrong way but you look as bad as I feel”
David smile. “I think we both had a rough afternoon emotionally. Time for some of Sues’ good cooking. What do you say?”
Sue sprang into life.” Oh my god the roast!!!!” and she was off, Simon and Darrel traipsing behind her.
David’s words had not gone unnoticed by Sebastien and Carlos. This begged for a deeper explanation.
Carlos was the first to raise the question. “David, Your afternoon it was not good?”
The all looked at him as he looked to Tracey and back to his friends. “Let’s just say I learnt something about myself today and I found a very good friend.” With that he took Tracey by the hand and squeezed.
But her attention was still on Urs. “You think you can make it to the table? It will be warmer there until the fire gets going.”
Urs nodded and got to his feet but wobbled just a little. Sebastien and Carlos jumped to his aid. He tried again and with their help remained standing. David stood behind him. He was like a new born calf finding its legs. Still wrapped in a blanket, Urs made it to the table and sat to one end. “My head is spinning.”
Tracey’s voice was soft and soothing. It affected the others not just Urs. “Well cowboy if you insist and chasing demons on an empty stomach I would expect it would be spinning. And don’t think I didn’t notice how much you didn’t eat at lunch time. As apposed to how much you ate Sebastien.” She turned to him, got him in a gentle head lock and ruffled his hair. The others laughed and she let go. Sebastien shook his head. “I think we may have to put you on an exercise program if you keep devouring Sue’s food like that.”
“Oh Cherie. You make fun of a man who likes fine food.”
“At least she is not making fun of me.” Shot Carlos.
The dinning room exploded into thunderous happy laughter. This is what they needed. Lightness, peace, serenity, fun and tranquillity. A place they felt safe to be themselves. Even if it was just for a short time.
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PostSubject: chapter 14   Mon May 18, 2009 8:37 am

Chapter 14
Once again the house fell into silence as the four men drifted off to sleep listening to the nocturnal sounds of the Australian bush.
It had been a very long and hard few days for Tracey. If her own strength faltered she would not be able to help those who needed her. She had intended to keep watch over Urs through the night but Simon escorted her off the first floor and promised that he and Darrel would take turns. In a way she was grateful she would have the chance to sleep and recuperate.
As she walked down the path passed the residential house Sue came out to join her. They linked arms and walked this way back to Tracey’s cottage.
“Tracey. Are you holding up ok?
“Yeah. Just a little tired that’s all.”
“How is the pain?”
“I’m coping, honest.”
“I would say you are a bit more than a little tired and I am not sure about the coping. You need to pace yourself or the doctor will have a hissy fit. Flying straight through from Bangkok to Melbourne to meet them is not what I would call pacing yourself young lady.”
Tracey smiled at her friend. “Couldn’t be helped, if I hadn’t stayed and negotiated with those greedy shysters you know those kids would never have gotten those operations they needed.”
“Yes I know but what happens when you are not around.”
“Then you get to do it.”
The two women walked in silence for a while before Sue spoke. “Tracey. What Urs said back there about you dying?”
“It’s ok Sue. I haven’t told any of them. How do you think they could relax and get better knowing something like that? They don’t need to know. They may never know. It was just a nightmare for him. That is all.” Tracey stopped and took a deep breath. “I know it is such a burden for you to carry knowing I am dying but..”
Sue stopped her. “My sweet girl. It is not a burden. You are an inspiration. With all the things that have happened I don’t know how you keep going. If life depended on guts and determination you would be immortal. I am just glad that we are the ones you have chosen to be with. We will be here for you any time you know that?”
Tracey nodded. Just then Baby Girl appeared from the bush and ran up Tracey and straight into her arms. Both women laughed.
“I guess that is my cue. She wants some attention.”
“Not too long mind you, you need your rest” Sue hugged both Tracey and the cat and got a nuzzle from Baby Girl for her trouble.

Sue had decided not to tell Tracey about the email. It was about Bangkok. Those shysters as Tracey had put it were playing games and she knew if Tracey got wind of it she would have wanted to deal with it then and there. No, this could wait until the morning. No, tonight she wanted her new adopted family to sleep and have sweet dreams. At that her thoughts turned to Urs. Would he be able to sleep without drifting back into the blackness? She decided to check on him before retiring herself.
Perched on a chair outside Urs’ door was her husband Simon, asleep. She had been married to the man for over 25 years but it was a wonder to her how he managed to fall asleep anywhere he happened to be. Bending down she kissed him on the top of the head. Then opened the door to Urs’ room. He was sleeping on his back, his breathing was steady and she was happy.
Tonight would be a good night.
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PostSubject: chapter 15   Mon May 18, 2009 8:38 am

Chapter 15
The next day brought the rain. Its gentle rhythmic tapping on the roof kept the four men in slumber far longer than any of them expected. Darrell had stoked the fire earlier that day so the house was bathed in its warmth. Through the change of shifts during the night Simon found himself on sentry detail. He was itching to get to work but Sue had read him the riot act and pronounced that he was to stay at his post until Urs woke. He checked his watch for the umpteenth time in the last hour. It was almost 10.45am Thunder could be heard rumbling in the distance. A door opened. It was David.
“Morning Mate.” Simon murmured
“Don’t tell me you have been there all night?” David was a little stunned at the thought of Simon out in the hall all night while he slept in what had to have been the most wonderful bed on the entire planet.
“Nope. Took turns with Darrell, happens to be my shift now. Boss said don’t move until he wakes up.
“The Boss, meaning Sue?”
“You catch on quick. If you head for the kitchen she’ll be happy to make you something to eat.”
Soon after, Carlos arose and by noon Sebastien had appeared. Simon was getting a little tetchy and hungry. If Urs didn’t get up soon he would completely miss any chance of a bite to eat. He popped his head in Urs’ room again. He was still sleeping soundly. Just then he felt a hand on his shoulder, it was Tracey.
“Sue’s got a fresh pot of coffee on and I think there are a few muffins with your name on them. I’ll take over here.”
“You get Bangkok all sorted?”
“Yep. Cost and extra 12 thousand dollars but all sorted. I think the threat of me getting on the next plane over was the decider.”
“So how many operation this time?”
“8 children, Cleft palettes, open heart surgery on a few and some bone reconstruction.”
Simon smiled at his friend. She amazed him. He had thought of it before but he was positive that she had been born with the sole purpose to help others. Even while still at school she was already there for who ever needed her. She took the younger students under her wing and protected them form the bullies. Sometimes that required a physical altercation. Simon did not seem to recall her ever saying she lost a fight either. The jobs she had taken seemed to lean towards helping people. Even her time with The Defence Department. Not that they talked about that much. It did not matter where she was Tracey would find someone to help. Or they would find her. He smiled because she could have just as easily had the good life. Her family had been blessed with a sizeable fortune and when her parents died it all went to her. He knew this was why he liked her. She had chosen to do something for others with all that money. It only saddened him that she could not help herself.

Tracey sat on the edge of Urs’ bed and watched him sleep. He was not as pale as yesterday and seemed peaceful. Tracey would never know it was her argument with Simon outside his door the night before that had given him the confidence to go to sleep and not worry about the nightmares. Urs had heard her trying to win the argument about who was going to stay and watch over him.
Urs sighed a little, moved a little but did not wake. Tracey could hear laughter from downstairs and it made her happy. She lay down beside Urs. He seemed to sense her presence and moved closer, placing his arm in such a way so he could cradle her in it. Tracey did just that, with her head on his chest. “Keep sleeping my Swiss Cowboy. Keep sleeping. Together we will chase the demons away.”
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PostSubject: chapter 16   Thu May 21, 2009 5:53 am

Chapter 16
Simon had given up any hope of work for the day. The big house was cozzie and David had found the cupboard with all the board games in it. They were playing a very raucous game of trivial pursuit. Between the Aussies, the French and the Spanish interpretations with a bit of South African thrown in for good measure it had become hysterical. Everyone was in fits of laughter. Carlos could not remember when he had laughed so hard at such simple things.
Sebastien’s face hurt. “I thought this was a serious game. Like chess. That is how we play.”
Even this comment brought gales of laughter from the others.
“Oh Sebbie…You French take everything too seriously.” Said Sue as she wiped the tears from her eyes.
Sebastien jumped from his chair. “Thank you Cherie. I have a nick name!”
The others all looked at him. “I wanted a nick name. You Aussies make names for everyone. If you cannot shorten them, you lengthen them or change them completely. I wanted and Aussie nick name. I am now Sebbie.”
The others completely lost the plot.
“You know we don’t all have nick names.” Simon interjected.
Sebastien raised his hand in protest. “But you do. Sue, she is Suzzie Q, and Darrell you call Dazza. Urs is Cowboy, Carlos is.”
At this point Carlos jumped in to introduce himself. I AM …. The Latin Lover….if you please.”
Again everyone broke into fits of laughter. Carlos had stood up as if declaring the fact to the world. It just made it all that more amusing.
Sebastien continued. “See.”
“No. Carlos I think you are more a Papa Smurf.” It was Sue.
Carlos looked at her bemused. “What is this smurf?” Simon, Darrel and David tried to hide their smirks as he explained.
“You know. The little blue cartoons. The Smurfs”
That was it. It was all over, the look on Carlos’ face was priceless. Even Sebastien caught on and sunk his head into his hands as he tried so hard not to laugh. It wasn’t working.
Carlos was not happy. “Blue.... I am not blue.. Yesterday you think I am a square now I am blue. A blue square” He threw his hands up in the air and slumped back in his seat sulking. This just made it all the worse for the others. Sue got up from the table and went to him. She lent over and kissed him on the check.
“But I like blue Smurfs, They are sooooo cuddly.”
“Well in that case.” Carlos jumped up and took Sue in a hold to do a dance dip much like you would do in the tango. It did not work. They over balanced and fell to the floor in a crumpled laughing heap. The others were laughing so much they were useless. No immediate help was at hand.
David finally found his feet and helped Sue back up. Carlos he left to his own devices.
“You know you haven’t given me a nick name yet” He said.
“I beg to differ with you there mate.” It was Simon “Just because you haven’t heard it doesn’t mean you don’t have one.”
“So I do have a nick name?”
“You sure do but I don’t know if I want to tell you.” Sue smiled cheekily at him.
“As long as I am not another smurf”
Again everyone laughed.
“No. You got yours because we heard Tracey say you where a sweet prince. So we thought, King Arthur, Camelot, Knights of the roundtable. Came up with Lancelot.” David was smiling “And you ended up with Merlin”
Sebastien and Carlos were again in fits of laughter. David was lost. “I don’t get it. How did I get from one of the Knights of the Round Table to Merlin for heavens sake?”
“Just magic I guess.” Said Sue blowing him a kiss.
“Don’t stress about it Dave. That’s what happens when females get hold of things.” Simon was trying to help David see the logic in the female thinking. Maybe he would have better luck at understanding it than he did. “Whole other universe. If it was up to me you’d be called Dave, Davo, Davey, maybe Davey Crockett. But no. We get Merlin”
“So. Let me get this straight.” Sebastien said.” We have a Merlin, a Papa Smurf, a Cowboy and Sebbie?” Pointing to himself.
“But you can’t forget the other names you have.” Sue reminded them.
“And what might they be?” Sebastien asked, not really sure if he wanted to know the answer.
“Well there is Maple syrup, French toast, Spanish fly, and Swiss roll just to mention a few.”
Simon rolled his eyes. “Told you, let the females get involved and it’s a whole new game fellas.”
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PostSubject: chapter 17   Thu May 21, 2009 5:53 am

Chapter 17
As the others laughed the afternoon away Urs slept and he slept and he slept. Tracey had only intended to keep him company to make sure that he did not become restless but she had fallen asleep under the comfort of his arms.
Urs did dream and the blackness did cast a shadow over him, but it seemed that it was not as strong. The few times he had become restless and thought that he would fall into the deep pit of nothingness, hurt and fear he felt something, someone, just at the edge of his dreams and it seemed he was no longer alone. So he slept and he dreamt and he fought his battles.
He did wake and smiled as he found Tracey cradled in his arms fast asleep. This was who was at the corner of his dreams. She has been there the entire time. Urs watched the gentle methodical rising and falling of her chest as she breathed; He inhaled the sweet smell of her perfume and smiled. He kissed her gently on the head and sighed. He had no desire to leave this safe haven just yet. So settled back into his pillow and drifted off to sleep.

Tracey too had found a safe haven for a few hours. Just as she drifted off to sleep she had wished it could have been David. But Urs needed her more right now. Her breathing may have been gentle but her dreams where not. In her dreams is where Tracey fought her own battles with the traumas that life had thrown at her. Maybe it was because she had been through so much herself, she understood the battles others faced. Was this why she needed to help them win their battles because she knew deep down there was one of her own that she would eventually loose. Was it knowing this that gave her the determination to continue, to keep going, to try and make a small part of the world a better place before she left? Or was she just running from her destiny? These where the battles she fought while she slept.
If Urs could have tapped into her dream he would have comprehended just how completely she understood his.
Tracey stirred a little and began to make her way back to the land of the waking. For a moment she forgot where she was. But then felt the warmth of Urs at her side. She patted him lightly on the chest and he sighed. She dare not move, not wanting to wake him. She watched him sleep much in the way he had watched her sleep earlier.
The rain was still beating down outside and the smell of Sues’ cooking had drifted up from the ground floor. No other sounds, no laughing, but the house was serene, harmonious, tranquil and content.
Urs sighed again, turned his head and opened his eyes focusing on Tracey’s face. She was smiling tenderly at him. “Welcome back my sleeping cowboy.” She uncurled herself from his arms and shimmied onto her elbow. Urs mirrored her movements.
“You have some very strange counselling techniques Down Under I think.”
“Everyone needs something different. This is what you need.” She paused a little. The next question could send him into a tail spin if he was not ready to answer it. “I need to ask you something, but you need to tell me if you don’t want to answer it ok. I’ll back off.”
Urs nodded in silence having no idea what the question would be. It hit him like a Mac truck when it arrived.
“Who was she Urs? How did she manage to hurt you so much that it tipped you over the edge?” Tracey waited for his reaction.
Urs was stunned. How could she possibly know? He hadn’t even told the others, no one knew, not even his family. He just starred at her.
Tracey was beginning in to think it was be too much for him when he began to speak in a small frail voice and a tear rolled down his face.
“How, how do you know this? I have told no one. It breaks my heart to think of it.”
“No Urs, She broke your heart didn’t she?”
He nodded and shut his eyes trying to hold back the tears and the pain.
“You want to tell me?”
He held her free hand and opened his eyes. “I… I don’t have the words. I…kept it hidden for so long I don’t know if I can.”
“You can. You are in a safe place. No one besides me will ever know what you say. I can promise you that. I am here to help Urs. If you can start to deal with this one thing, other things will not seem so bad.”
Tracey let Urs be silent for a while, giving him time to put his thoughts in order.
“It was, it is so hard to sing those songs when your heart is broken into so many pieces and you cannot fix it. Each word of each song just making it hurt so much more. I have to smile and pretend that everything was ok and all I wanted to do was scream. The tour was so long and there seemed to be no end.
I know, deep down if I had told the others they would have understood, but the expectation of everyone. We are this group who sing love songs and having a member of that group going through some emotional crisis because of a woman just didn’t seem right. I could have ruined it for everyone.” He looked at Tracey. “You do understand don’t you? I couldn’t tell them.”
Tracey nodded. Urs had no idea just how completely she understood.
“I thought I could deal with it on my own…” His voice trailed off.
Tracey did not want him to stop. He needed to deal with the facts. Get them out in the open. The wound was open now and it needed to be cleansed before they could close it up again.
“How did she hurt you so much?”
“I loved her with all my heart and soul. I gave her all of me. We had been together before Il Divo took off. She even took time off her work to travel with us that first 18 months. I would spend every spare moment I had with her. We where happy, I thought. I even asked her to marry me. I was so sure that we would spend the rest of our lives together. She said she would marry me. Then…..” His eyes watered up again and he began to tremble a little. Tracey squeezed his hand. “Then, I get to go back home for Christmas only to find she is married to someone else. I felt like such a fool. She played me. And I loved her so completely.” Urs was now crying freely. “Oh God Tracey it was like the very essence of my life had been sucked out of me. I didn’t want to go on, but the tour. I hurt so much; I kept going for the guys, for the fans but……”
Urs let all the pain and hurt out. You could hear it in his cries. He curled up on the bed with his head in Tracey’s lap and just cried and cried. That deep, soul aching cry, which comes from the very depths of your being. Urs’ whole body shook as he held onto Tracey and cried. She held onto him as he let go of his pain.
David had been sent upstairs to check on them by Sue since dinner was ready. All be it a later dinner than usual considering the time the guys had risen. So he was standing at the door to Urs’ room about to knock when he heard that first heart breaking wail. It penetrated through the very core of his body like thousands of shards of sharpened glass. He steadied himself by leaning against the door, clenching his fists and shaking his head. He’d had no idea his friend was in so much pain. He imagined that none of them did.
David composed himself before going back downstairs to let the others know that Tracey and Urs would not be joining them for dinner.
Sue picked up on the change in him. “I’ll put some aside for them…David would you help me in the kitchen?”
David followed her in silence. Sue waited until the door to the kitchen closed. “What is it my sweet boy?”
He looked at her with a pained expression. “Oh, Sue, I’ve never heard anyone cry like that. He’s in so much pain how could we not have seen.”
“Because he didn’t want you to that is way.” She paused. “Tracey is with him. She knows what he needs. We best leave her to it.”
With that they returned to the table and the others.
Urs was quieter now but still sobbing. Tracey was gently stroking his hair. Not a word had been spoken. He still had his head on her lap. His eyes were closed and he was rocking just a little. The monster that had consumed Urs for so long had been conquered. Tracey knew he would be much better now. He still had a few things to talk about but for the most part the worst was over.
Sometime later Tracey heard the other three as they made their way back to their rooms. It was late. She guessed around midnight. There was a gentle knocking on the door. It opened and David stuck his head in. Tracey beckoned for him to enter the room. Sebastien and Carlos followed in silence. Urs was still in her lap, sleeping. David was extremely worried about his friend but seeing him their again his own ache rose up. How he wished it was he that Tracey was looking after. His whispered quietly. “How is he?”
“Much better. Now, you three off to bed. I’ll see you in the morning.”
They all said good night and left.
Outside in the hall the three men talked. It was Carlos with a concerned tone in his voice. “What did she do to him?”
David wished he could tell them what he had heard. “She helped him Carlos, in a way that he needed to be helped.”
Sebastien had been thinking about Tracey. “There is far more to Mademoiselle Tracey I think. She runs very deep. She seems to know things about us we don’t know ourselves.”
“If it means that Urs gets better that is fine with me.” David tried to make his voice uplifting.
Both Carlos and Sebastien nodded and they each made their way to their own rooms.
All but David and Tracey slept well in the house that night.
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PostSubject: chapter 18   Thu May 21, 2009 5:54 am

Chapter 18
Tracey left Urs to sleep; he was physically and emotionally drained. As she got to the top of the stairs her head began to spin, she grabbed hold of the balustrade to steady herself. She held her free hand out in front of her. It was shaking. “Damn it! I need to eat.” Being diabetic was the least of her worries but it seemed to be the one that caught her off guard. She had spent most of the afternoon and night with Urs and had missed the meals she should have eaten. Not meals really. Tracey had figured out that if she ate her three main meals and three light snacks a day her sugar level stayed within rage. But, if like now she neglected to do this, the consequences could linger for days. She knew that Sue would have left something in the fridge for her.

Entering the dining room Tracey stopped. Sitting at the other end of the table was Sue.
“Mmmmmm, I expect you don’t feel the best right now do you young lady?”
Tracey smiled and shrugged her shoulders. There was no use lying to Sue. It never worked. “A bit out of kilter.” Tracey sat down and Sue pushed a plate in front of her. She had made sandwiches, a gesture that Tracey appreciated. Though she did not think that she had caught her blood sugar levels in time, they would help.
Sue let her eat in silence for a while. After talking to David she understood just how draining the afternoon had been for her friend.
“Would you like another?”
Tracey shook her head
“I’ve made some hot chocolate, I’ll be right back”
Sue made her way to the kitchen and Tracey sat thinking about the day’s events. Had these four precious men only been with them such a short time? She was happy that Urs had confided in her so early, it meant he would recover a lot faster. But her heart sank as she thought of David.
Sue returned with two cups of steaming hot chocolate. “With a dash of caramel just how you like it.”
Tracey sipped the chocolate and sighed. I think Urs will be okay now.”
“I am sure he will Ace. And we will be here for him for a while if he needs us.” Sue faltered “But what about you? You need to look after yourself. You know how quickly you get run down.”
“I know. But I think today was the big day. The others all have things they need to deal with but they weren’t as bad as Urs. Give them time and they will heal while they are here.”
“What about David?”
Tracey looked at her friend with a dreading feeling in the pit of her stomach. “What do you mean? What about David?”
“Don’t you think you have been too hard on him? Ace he adores you, he would do anything for you.”
“Don’t you think I know that! I would give anything to spend the rest of my life with a man like that.”
“Then why don’t you?”
Tracey shot her friend a surprised look. “You know why.”
What neither of them knew was at the start of the conversation David had come downstairs. He couldn’t sleep. He had stopped just down the hallway when he heard their voices.
“Ace, I love you with all my heart and I know you are trying to protect him but shouldn’t it be his choice?”
Tracey shook her head. “I can’t be responsible for putting someone through so much pain. You and I both know I may get a whole lot worse before the end.”
David was confused. Before the end of what? He strained to hear the rest hoping for a clue.
“Yes I do. But don’t you think he deserves a chance at happiness?”
“Of course I do. That’s why he has to be with someone else. Someone who will be around to make him happy, give him the life he wants.”
“But Trace. What if you are that person and because you won’t let him into your life he misses out. You of all people should know just because you find the someone you want to love you don’t always get to keep them for as long as you want, things happen we have no control over.”
“Don’t bring Kevin into this. We had no idea that would happen. But I know I am dying Q. I know I won’t always be there for him. It’s not fair to ask someone to love me knowing they will have to watch me die. I can’t bear the thought of David being torn apart like Urs. I can’t do that do him. I just can’t.”
“And are you willing to live what ever life you have left without his love?” Sue smiled and held Tracey’s hand across the table. “I know you Ace. And don’t forget I believe in love at first sight. Worked for Simon and me. You adore him as much as he does you. I can see it. Your eyes light up when he walks it the room. Your breathing changes when you try to keep your feelings under wraps. You maybe spending a lot of time with Urs but your heart already belongs to David. Doesn’t it?”
A small tear escaped from Tracey’s eye. “Oh God Q this hurts so much. I never expected to love anyone ever again. Why now? After Kevin I spent the best part of my life putting myself into situations where it was impossible to fall in love. Why now? All I wanted to do was help them. That’s all, give them a safe haven. I don’t want to die Q but I don’t want to hurt anyone either.”
Tracey cradled her head in her arms before putting it on the table and cried.
David was still standing in the hallway stunned, his own tears rolling down his cheeks.
This was the thing in her life she wouldn’t tell him. This was what she was protecting him from. He thought about it. Now he knew her secret, did it change the way he felt about her? Could he walk away from her and never look back? Continue with his life like she meant nothing to him? It did not take him long to realise that he could not walk away. He wanted to be with her, even if it meant only a few short months. He would trade all his new found fame for those months. He had to find a way to make her understand. But how?
David returned to him room. He never did sleep that night.
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PostSubject: chapter 19   Thu May 21, 2009 5:55 am

Chapter 19
David, Sebastien and Carlos were surprised to see Urs already sitting at the table when they came down for breakfast. He had finished his breakfast. He smiled at them, a smile that came from his heart. They had not seen this smile in many months. Even his fans had not been able to bring it to life. But now there it was, David was sure his eyes were brighter as well.
As if on cue. Sue floated out of the kitchen with a plate of pancakes in one hand and a plater of eggs, bacon, hash brown, sausage, tomatoes, mushrooms and toast. The three men sat down eager to dig in.
It was David who spoke. “No one else joining us then Sue?”
“No sweetie. So don’t worry I think there is plenty to go round. Simon is looking after the horses. Thought you might want to go exploring and Darrell is. Well doing Darrell things.” She looked to David. She knew this was not the answer he wanted.
Sebastien asked the question anyway. “And Tracey? Our wonderful nurse and counsellor? Urs did not scare her off I hope?”
“No, no. She had a few errands to run. I expect you will see her tonight.”
Sue had told a little white lie. Tracey was in her own cottage recovering. Between the plane trips and her diabetes she had become run down and the virus that threaten her life was making itself known. She would be better in a few days but right now she needed to recover. The rest of the world would have to wait a while.

After breakfast they decided to take the offer of a horse ride around the property, all except David that is. He wandered around the house for a little while. Settled to listen to some music, tried to read but all the time his thoughts went back to the conversation he had heard the night before. He was not convinced that Tracey had gone to run errands, he headed for her cottage. Making sure that Sue did not see him.
Quietly he approached, standing at the front door for a while, even thinking of turning back when he felt Baby Girl at his feet. He was about to pick her up when she raced up his body and settled on his shoulder. Gave him a bit of a shock but he smiled. Well the cat obviously wanted in so he would have to do the right thing and let her in. David opened the door, the cat sat on his shoulder until he got to the door of Tracey’s room when it jumped down, pawing at the door. Again David hesitated, she was really away and the cat just wanted to be in the comfort of the cottage. Opening the door he saw her lying there, sound asleep. His heart raced just a little as he stood watching her. She looked like and angel surround by pale blue clouds. Baby Girl jumped on the bed and David held his breath. If she woke what would he say to her, how could he explain why he was there?
Tracey never moved. The cat settled at her side. It was then that David noticed her breathing. Tracey was breathing even slower than Urs had been that night back stage. This made him anxious but as he watched it seemed to be natural and the cat did not seem to be upset. It had gone to sleep. David watched Tracey for a little while longer then the rest of her room came into focus. There were photos and pictures on every wall, some with Tracey in them, some without. A few took his attention. One with Jimmy in it for example: There would have been at least six men in this photo all dressed in military uniforms standing next to a very large plane. David thought to himself a cliché. The kind of photo you saw in movies. But this one had Tracey in the middle of it. Next to it was a photo of cargo plane unloading equipment. Again, Tracey was standing next the plane. This had been a casual shot as it looked like she was directing the action. There were other photos of her and children from all over the world. There were other pictures of people who had written inscriptions on their photos. Many of them just said thank you and not all were in English. There was a photo of Tracey and a young man on the bed side table. The young man looked familiar but David could not put his finger on it. On the opposite wall was a map of the world with little red dots all over it. If these where all the places that Tracey had been there was not a lot left to see.
Tracey stirred a little in her bed but nothing else. David knelt down beside her. “How do I tell you that if tonight was all that God gave us together I would take it? How do I get you to let me into your life?”
“Be my friend.”
David jumped at the words. He had not expected her to answer, not expected her to wake up. She hadn’t.
David left her room as quietly as he could, leaving the door open a little for the cat.
As he left the cottage Tracey stirred a little, feeling down the bed her hand came upon the cat and she scratched it unconsciously and drifted back off to sleep. She dreamt of David.

Heading back to the house David met up with Sue. She had her suspicions as to where he had been but kept them to herself for now. “You look like you are moping. Want to talk?”
They walked back to the guest house and David wondered if Sue would give him the answers he needed. “Sue, I adore Tracey. I would spend every minute I had with her if I could but she won’t let me in. She said there is something in her life that would hurt me. That’s why she can’t be with me. How do I get her to see that it is ok to let me know?”
By now they had reached the house and Sue took up a position on the front steps. David sat beside her.
“David. I can’t tell you everything but maybe if I tell you a few things you might change your mind about her.”
David began to protest but Sue stopped him. “Let me finish. She is not what you think and yes she has been through a great deal .More than any one person should have to endure. David, she’s a widow. Her husband was killed in the first Gulf War just three months after they were married. He was a Yank like you. He never knew he had a son.”
David looked at Sue and she smiled. “Have you done the maths yet? She’s older than you think she is David. She’s older than most people think she is. You’re what 33, 34?”
David nodded.
“Well add about 10 years and you come close. Her son is a grown man.”
Now the picture on the bedside table made sense. It was Tracey and her son.
Sue continued. “She is protecting you. I can just see the headlines. Young rising star swept off feet by much older woman.”
David could not hold his tongue any longer. “Sue, none of that changes the way I feel about her, I can’t change the way I feel about her. I wouldn’t care if she was 50 years older than me….”
“David you need to be realistic. There are things that she has probably done and lived through that you haven’t even tried yet. What then? A partnership like that can put a lot of strain on a relationship.”
“Then we find things we like doing together and we do them. Other times we can do our own thing.”
Sue realised he had put a lot of thought into the situation. If she had known he had heard them the night before things may have been different. At the same time, David was busting to tell her that he knew that Tracey was dying and he would be there for her but he couldn’t. He had to play along.
Sue continued, as much as she wanted Tracey to give David a chance she wanted to be sure he was ready for the turmoil that Cyclone Tracey could bring with her. “Her life might look simple from the outside David but it is very complicated. She oversees several global projects.” Sue caught the surprise in David’s eyes. “She won’t tell you. She comes here to get away from it all. To be at peace. That’s why she knew this place would be good for you all. When she is here she tries to leave the rest of the world behind. It doesn’t always work. But we try to keep as much out as possible.”
David recalled all the dots on the world map. Maybe they where the projects sue talked about. “I would love to learn what she does and maybe I could help. That’s if she would have me.”
“And she can be a handful. When she gets a hold of something it is almost impossible to get her to let go. Are you willing to end up playing second fiddle when that happens?”
David shifted slightly and took hold of Sue’s hands. “I would gladly be relegated to bag carrier if that’s what it would take. I would be there when the cyclone passed.”
Sue smiled. He picked things up fast.
David squeezed her hand. “I have a confession to make….. I know Tracey’s not running errands.”
“I figured that when I saw you walking back to the house. She’s very tired David. She’s diabetic and yesterday she spent all that time with Urs and forgot to eat. It takes its toll. So far we have been able to control it with diet but she must eat on a regular basis.”
“It’s more than the diabetes isn’t it?”
“David. You know when she met you at Melbourne airport?” David nodded. “She had flown straight in from Bangkok. Her flight got in about 2 hours before you. You thought she was in Sydney didn’t you?” Again David nodded. “So add the two together and it wipes her out. You have to promise not to tell the others. Tracey would hate the fuss and would be devastated to ruin your stay because of it.”
“I promise. Is there anyway I can get her to see that my heart is hers?”
“Be her friend.”
David smiled. “That’s what she said.”
The conversation ended when they heard laughter a little ways down the path. The others had returned form their day out. As they got closer it was obvious that there was something amiss with Sebastien. He was filthy, muddy and wet. He looked as sight and by the sounds of it the others had given him a hard time about it as well.
Sue jumped up.
“Lord have mercy Simon. What did you do to our beautiful Sebbie. He’s a mess?”
“Me, nothing. Sebastien and his horse had a falling out.”
Carlos and Urs where in fits of laugher. Through it all Urs tired to explain. “The only one falling out was Sebastien. He wanted to go one way and the horse wanted to go another. They had a disagreement and the horse rode him into the branch of a tree. Off he came into the damn.”
Sue had put her arms around Sebastien, he was not laughing. His legs where chaffed from the saddle and having to walk back in wet clothes had made it worse. He just knew he would have bruises in places you just shouldn’t get bruises.
“Come on my soggy little piece of French toast. We’ll get you into a nice hot bath then into some nice warm clothes and sit you by the fire and things will be much better. Would you like that?”
Sebastien nodded silently as Sue took him away leaving the others to explain the whole thing to David.
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PostSubject: chapter 20   Thu May 21, 2009 5:56 am

Chapter 20
David never pushed the issue with Tracey and their friendship grew. Urs recovered well, this little piece of Tasmanian paradise had renewed his heart and soul. They all were healing nicely in their own ways. And life was good. The days turned into weeks and they settled into a routine. Carlos had proven himself to be an excellent TA (trades assistant) and spent much of his time with Simon and Darrell as they worked on the property. Sebastien had continued to annoy Sue in the kitchen. He was an excellent cook and had taken over many of the culinary duties of the house. David spent as much time with Tracey as he could. She showed him some of the nicest parts of the property, they walked, and they rode horses, they had picnics. On more than one occasion Urs had joined them. Their days were filled with laughter and happiness. Urs had wrestled Simons 35mm camera away from him and had become quite the photographer. He had taken shots of them all at work and at play. A few of which had found their way onto one of the walls in the guest house.

Each night they would come together for dinner like one big happy family. When the weather did not permit outside adventures they would spend time playing board games or just talking. They found things out about each other, they laughed and they cried and their friendships grew. Even Baby Girl had adopted the boys as her new upright friends.
Tracey had left the property for only a few days at a time. Knowing what he did David guest she was off to attend to her global duties or medical check ups. He was right in both respects. Tracey herself had never felt as good as she did for a long time. Having them around even seemed to make her physical pain hurt less. But it was still there, lurking waiting to attack.
It was as if they had stepped out of time and were living in their own private Utopia.
But a storm was brewing and it was an email from Nat that alerted them to it. Tracey knew it would only be a matter of time before someone at the music company wanted to know why Il Divo had dropped off the radar. It had taken 5 weeks. One more week than the boys had told them they were going to the Bahamas. Nat’s contacts had been true to their word and she knew that Il Divo’s manager was waiting at Heathrow Airport to board a plane to Australia. That gave them a few days. Tracey figured he wouldn’t fly all the way out if he had no idea where the group was. Tracey, Sue, Simon and Darrell knew that Jarrod West was coming. They did not tell the guys. Tracey was definitely not happy. She got in touch with a few people. The first one being Jimmy.
Tracey had been absent for the few days preceding Jarrod’s visit. Everyone assuming it was one of her trips. So she was not at the house when Jarrod arrived. Neither was anyone less. The guys had gone quad biking. It was the sound of the bikes coming down the path that alerted Jarrod. He stood on the steps of the guest house and waited. David saw the car and Jarrod before the others and slowed his bike. In turn Carlos, Sebastien and Urs did the same. They pulled up outside the house and alighted in silence, no one said a word.
Sue had heard the bikes from her own home, she knew Jarrod had arrived and sent a page to Simon and Darrell and headed for the guest house. By the time she got there everyone was inside. Jarrod was yelling at the guys and in return they were shouting back. The tension was volatile, emotions where high as the guys defended their actions. Something they should never have had to do. Sue was trying to bring things to order but she was not being heard. They were all so engrossed in the altercation that no one heard or saw Tracey at the front door. If they had they may have realised just how angry she was. Standing at the threshold of the house was Tracey, with rage in her eyes and a shotgun in her hands. She shouted once for them to be quiet, twice, then raised the gun and fired. The sound was deafening, everyone ducked, and Jarrod spun around to face her finding himself looking down the barrel of the gun. The guys were stunned. Jarrod was about to release another verbal explosion. Tracey beat him to it. Her voice was cold and stern. She did not raise it. She did not have to. “That will be quite enough Mr West. You utter one more word without my permission and you’ll leave in a body bag. Nod if you understand?”
Jarrod nodded keeping his eyes on the gun. The rest of the room was silent.
“This is private property Mr West. I don’t recall inviting you. Considering what you are responsible for I am surprised you came at all.”
Jarrod went to speak but Tracey moved the gun and he remained silent. “Thanks to you and your corporate buddies Urs nearly died and the others were on the edge of their own nervous break downs. I am here to tell you that things are going to change once they get back to the mainstream. Now Mr West you may speak. BUT be warned. You raise you voice, swear or in any other way tick me off I will shut you down.”
It was as if Jarrod had not heard her words. He launched into a barrage of abusive language.
Tracey cocked the gun and the others all yelled. David being the loudest.
“Tracey No!!!!!”
She stepped forward so that the barrel of the gun rested on Jarrod’s stomach. There was no mistaking the rage in her eyes. This is the scene that Simon found as he entered the house.
“Oh Lord Tracey. What are you doing?”
Jarrod looked from Tracey to Simon and back to Tracey. “I don’t like him very much Simon. He hurts people.”
“That maybe so but you can’t shoot him.”
“Why not?”
There was a silence as the others looked on nervously. It almost looked like Simon was trying to think of a reason.
Urs spoke up. “My sweet nightingale, because this is not who you are. It might have been once but not now.”
Tracey took a deep breath. “He needs to leave.”
“Ok.” Said Simon. “I’ll….”
“No, My way.” Tracey adjusted the gun, everyone got a little nervous but all she did was place her fingers to her lips and gave and ear piercing whistle.
Jimmy, accompanied by three other men entered the house. They all recognised Jimmy and David recognised the rest from the picture on the wall in Tracey’s cottage.
“Officer Marshall will escort Mr West off the property and make sure that he gets back on a plane headed for the northern hemisphere.”
Jimmy and his friends were not dressed in a uniform but they were dressed alike. Dark pants and pale blue denim shirts. There was no escaping their presence.
Jimmy and one of the men came forward and took Jarrod by the arms and removed him from the house, Jarrod left in silence, too shocked to say a word. The party of five walked down the road past Jarrod’s car and disappeared around a bend. It was then that Sebastien had the courage to say something. Tracey still had the gun aimed down the road.
“Are they going to make him walk all the way to the airport?”
Without moving Tracey spoke. “Nope. Just to the next town.”
“Aw Ace that’s ten k’s away.” It was Sue “He’ll be exhausted.”
Urs came and put his arm around Tracey. She lowered the gun and he felt the tension leave her body. “You Aussie girls do get passionate about things don’t you?”
Tracey turned and threw the gun at Simon. She had the biggest grin on her face. “You didn’t really think I would have shot him do you? Too messy.”
David, Sebastien, Carlos and Urs laughed. It was a nervous laugh but it did lighten the mood.
“So those where some of Jimmy’s chauffer buddies I take it?” said Sebastien.
Tracey gave him a wiley smile as she passed. “Golfing actually.”
“But seriously, what are they going to do with him Tracey?” There was a little concern in David’s eyes.
“Like I said. They will walk him to the next town. Jimmy’s got transport from there to the airport. I figure it will give him time to reconsider some of his actions of late. Don’t worry. Apart from a few blisters I expect he will be unharmed. Unless of course he gives the boys a hard time.”
“So what do we do now?” Carlos was still a little shaken by the whole ordeal. It was a side of Tracey none of them had seen. “He will be after our heads when we get back to England.”
“I don’t think so my Latin lover. There will be a boardroom full of legal heavy weights for him to contend with when he gets back. I meant it when I said that you needed to take your future into your own hands. I’m just giving you a little push is all.” With that Tracey left them to return to her own cottage.
David went to go after her but Simon stopped him. “Not a good idea to chase a cyclone mate.”
“Well I think I will put the kettle on.” And Sue drifted in to the kitchen.
“I reckon a cold beer would be good about now.” And Simon winked at the others. They all agreed.
Just then Darrell came in. “I heard shots…..What’d I miss?”
They all laughed.

Jimmy and his friends had indeed marched Jarrod West to the next town. Once he had regained his composure Jarrod had demanded that he be taken back to the property. They kept walking. At one point he turned around and began to walk back himself only to be stopped by two of the men. They kept walking. After a while Jarrod stopped shouting and they kept walking.
Just on the outskirts of town the group took a small road off the main one. Although he never spoke Jarrod was a little nervous. He was under no illusion that the men he was with could hurt him in ways he’d rather not think about. As they came round a bend he saw it, a helicopter. Not the usual commercial helicopters but a military one. One of the men made a signal with his hands and it fired up. This was how they were going to get him back to the airport.
Again in silence they all boarded. Apart from the raging noise of the helicopter it was a very silent and icy trip.
It occurred to Jarrod as they landed on a specific site at the airport, where others waited for them, that this would have all been pre arranged. Someone knew he was coming and were going to make damn sure he was leaving. He was escorted from the helicopter across the tarmac, through a small building and found himself boarding and international plane via the catering lift. Still surrounded by his five companions plus the two new guards that had just joined them. He was escorted through the empty plane to first class and Jimmy pointed to a seat. Jarrod sat. Well at least it was first class. All but Jimmy left the plane. He sat next to Jarrod.
“You coming with me? Make sure I don’t try and get back.” Jarrod said a little too venomously for Jimmy.
Jimmy’s steel, dark eyes unnerved Jarrod. “No mate. My part of the assignment ends here. But we do have others on the plan that will be keeping an eye on you.”
Jarrod protested “That’s outrageous, you can’t do that. I have rights.”
Jimmy was calm in his reply “Now you see. You went and upset Tracey. That’s not a good thing to do.” Jimmy handed Jarrod a business card. “Call him when you get back to the UK. He will be happy to let you know just who you upset. And I am sure Tracey will have already put a few things in motion. All waiting for you. Mr West, From what I saw of those lads when they arrived, you’re lucky their families are not suing you. Now, sit back and enjoy your trip.”
“Who are you? Some secret arm of the SAS?”
Jimmy smiled “It’s something we do.” He left, but one of the others took his place along side Jarrod.
Jarrod was silent.

Jarrod West did make a phone call when he got back to his office. How was it that Tracey Coleman could circulate through some of the most influential circles in England and the world and he had never heard of her? He had been speaking to the CEO of one of the largest international banks doing business on the shores of England. Jarrod hung up, remembering Jimmy’s words. The CEO had referred to her as Cyclone Tracey and told Jarrod it would be a good idea to put things right or she could make life very unpleasant for him. He’d seen it happen, Tracey did not like injustice and she would do her best to fix it.
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PostSubject: chapter 21   Sat May 23, 2009 5:20 am

Chapter 21
After Simon and Sue had explained the whole situation to Il Divo including what was going to happen in England. Although they guys were overwhelmed by it all. They understood why Tracey had done what she had. Now all of them not just David had a deeper understanding of her passion, her reasons for wanting to help them. The four of them sat on the lounge while Simon answered their questions, gave them his own version of why he thought Tracey did what she did.
Having spent a great deal of time with Tracey, Urs had a better insight into Tracey’s heart and soul than most. It warmed his heart to know that such a person had come into his life. No strings, all she wanted to do was help and she had in more ways than she probably knew. “If the world had more people like Tracey it would be a better place.” Urs’ eyes drifted as he was lost in this own thoughts.
Carlos and Sebastien agreed with him and they fell silent. It had been a lot to be involved in.
David drifted, but he drifted out of the house and found himself walking towards Tracey’s cottage. He stood a little way off just looking at it when he noticed the cat. She was wondering in and out of the front door and it sounded like she was crying. Baby Girl saw him, ran to him and then ran back to the house. Waited for him to join her, when David didn’t move she ran back to him and pawed his leg. This time he followed her and entered the cottage.
Tracey was lying on the sofa, curled up, rocking back and forth, shaking. It was obvious she was in pain. She had her eyes shut tight. David knelt down beside her, not sure if he should touch her. He gently stroked her brow and she opened her eyes. Tracey was mortified that David had found her, she tried to sit up.
“No… What can I do? Tracey tell me what to do?”
Tracey began to cry. She didn’t want him to see her like this. The virus came in waves and cycles. Sometimes it was not so bad. But this attack was the worst for a while. There really was nothing he could do for her. Tracey had taken her medication before the attack started. It helped but the pain wracked her whole body.
David pleaded with her. “Tell me what to do?”
Another river of pain gripped Tracey’s body. “Hold me.”
David pulled her up so he could sit and rest her head on his lap. She was boiling up. Her whole body was on fire.
“You’re so hot. We need to get you some help”
“No…..” Tracey gasped. “Just hold me.”
So David held her, he talked to her and each time a wave of pain hit her he cradled her closer. It seemed like an eternity for the attack to be over, in reality it was only 15 minutes. Slowly David could feel Tracey’s body relax, start to cool down. She sat up and in a weak voice spoke. “I’m so sorry you had to see that. You were never meant to.”
David was dumbfounded as to how pale she was; even her eyes seemed to have lost their colour.
“Tracey, this in not a diabetic thing. You were in so much pain. What happened?”
“It’s not drugs if that is what you are thinking.”
If David had not known she was dying he may have thought that. “No, I know that, but there must be something they can do.”
Tracey smiled and traced the outline of his face with her forefinger. “You’re very sweet. But the best thing you can do for me now is help me to bed. An attack like this takes a lot out of me.” She did not want to have to explain to him. She was still wrestling with idea of letting him know all about her. Too weak right now. She just needed him to be a friend.
David helped her to her feet, were Tracey steadied herself. “How did you know I was here?”
David looked around the room until he saw Baby Girl sitting at the front door. “She told me.”
Tracey looked at her four legged furry companion. “Snitch.”

Sue had just finished reading e mails and was on her way to let Tracey know that Nat would be at the property by night fall. The girl had decided she was missing out on too much and wanted to be where the action was. Sue had tried to convince her that all the action was over but she was coming anyway. As she got to the front door of Tracey’s cottage she could hear muffled voices. “Trace, you ok Girl?”
Sue was stunned when it was David that walked from her bedroom. At first she thought all the wrong things. But one look at him and she knew. “How bad is she David?” Sue had already started to walk towards the bedroom.
David followed her. “She was in so much pain Sue, I felt useless, I couldn’t do anything, and I couldn’t make the pain stop.”
“None of us can my sweet.” Sue looked him straight in the eyes. “Now do you understand just what you would be taking on if she ever let you?”
David was about to answer when Sue gently placed her hand over his mouth.
They both went to Tracey’s side. Sue sighed. “You know this is exactly why you are supposed to wear your pager.”
Tracey smiled weekly at her friend. “Sorry boss. I think I may have frightened our guest just a little. It’s a bit daunting the first time you see it.”
David did not say anything, she was right.
“Ok missy let me see your wrist.”
“I am fine now Sue honest.”
“The wrist…..”
This conversation had lost David but Tracey pulled her arm from under the sheets. On her right wrist were 4 coloured bangles. He could see by the look on Sue’s face that she was not happy about it.
“Trace, you haven’t eaten. How am I supposed to keep you healthy if you won’t eat?” Sue turned to David. “There will be milk in the fridge and on the bench is a silver canister with a cream coloured powder in it. I want you to put two heaped dessert spoons of powder in a large glass of milk and stir and bring it in.” David left in silence and did what he was told.
How did bangles on her wrist alert Sue to the fact that Tracey had not eaten. It was funny that considering what he had just been through this was the question he most wanted answered.
By the time he got back into Tracey’s room, Sue had her sat up in bed. Some of the colour had returned to her face and Tracey smiled weakly at David as he handed her the drink.
“She can be bossy when she wants to be can Sue.”
“I have a good mind to confine you to quarters.
“Like that ever worked.”
Again Sue turned to David. “See what I have to deal with. Well I guess I should tell you that Nat will be here in time for tea.”
It was David’s turn to get a word in. “Nat the friend who dragged you to Melbourne to see us again? That Nat?”
Both Sue and Tracey replied. “Yes”
Sue took the empty glass off Tracey. “So that means you need to rest young lady if you want to have any more visitors today.”
Tracey did not argue, just slid herself back down the bed, she was tired. She never did remember David and Sue leaving her room.
After a few moments Sue took David by the hand and escorted him out of the cottage. They had a slow walk back to the guest house.
“I guess you have a few questions?”
“What’s with the bangles?”
Sue smiled, it was not the question she was expecting but it was one she could answer. “Arr. The bangles. Well, Tracey can’t wear a watch.”
“Can’t or won’t?”
Sue smiled. “Can’t. She fries them. Something to do with the electricity in her body. They just stop working. The longest she has ever had a watch is 18 months. But with the diabetes she is supposed to eat every 3 hours. I know what you are thinking. Crazy idea. Right, but it works. She starts off the day will six and takes one off for every meal. Her body pretty much tells her its time anyway but this is just a reminder. And before you go into all the other things we could do. Been there, done that. I even tried to get her pager to beep every three hours but the damn thing gets confused.”
David just shook his head. “Let me guess, the electricity right?”
“Yep. I can tell which horse or which quad bike Tracey is on because the GPS goes nuts. Same with her pager. So we are back to the bangles. It’s cheap and she doesn’t cheat. You saw that. And as crazy as it sounds it works. It just gives her that little reminder she needs.”
David was amazed. With all the high tech gizmo’s in the world, plastic bangles.
Sue waited for the other questions. Ones she was not sure she wanted to or could answer for him.
“Sue, I know that wasn’t all due to her being a diabetic. There is more going on. How often does something like that happen to her?”
“It’s complicated David and I am not sure I should be the one to tell you.”
David turned to Sue with pleading in his eyes. He wanted so much to tell her he knew but held his tongue. He gave her the chance to think it through.
“Please Sue, All I want to do is help, anyway I can.”
By this time they had reached the guest house but Sue elected to keep walking. Not knowing if the others where still there. So she took David off down one of her favourite walking tracks.
“It’s a virus David. Once you get through all the medical mumbo jumbo that’s what it boils down to. Something that was dormant in her body and may well have never woken up but it did. She got very ill while she was overseas about 6 years ago. Got a nasty case of the flu and then pneumonia. Somehow in the middle of all that, this virus woke up. It took a while for them to figure it out. Test after test. Its arthritis, its lupus, no it’s this, no it’s that. It went on for ages. It’s a virus that attacks a healthy body. Thinks it needs to fix something that doesn’t need fixing. Being diabetic doesn’t help. Well that’s the user friendly explanation. And as you saw it can get pretty intense.”
“You mean to tell me that a virus gives her that much pain? How often does she have to go through this?’
“It seems to come in cycles. But they are not always severe and the symptoms are not always the same. Sometimes she gets what she calls a flutter. Pain in her chest and she needs to concentrate to keep it under control. That makes her very tired. But unless you knew what to look for you probably would never know it was happening.”
“But you know all the signs don’t you?”
“We’ve been friends for along time. We know things about each other that we will take to the grave.”
“And this one today..?”
“I thought she may have had a bit of trouble earlier what with the travelling and worrying about you four.” Sue saw David’s startled look and continued. “Oh dear, it’s not because of you she is like this. She had so much going on as well. She does that from time to time. Trying to prove to the universe she can still do it all. But each year she gets a little weaker. Not that an outsider would know this.”
“But you thought she was going ok?”
“I did. I guess she was hiding it pretty well for me not to see it. She’s good at that as well.”
David had got to the point where he thought he could ask the question that would give him the answer he was looking for. “So what is her prognosis? If this has been going on for 6 years it is not getting better.”
“No, not getting better and her prognosis is that she should take better care of herself and slow down. But she’ll tell you that God put her on the planet to do a certain number of things and she is not finished yet.”
“That’s crazy.”
Sue just smiled. “That’s my Ace.”
David took a deep breath. “Sue… is she dying?”
There it was, the question Sue was dreading. The words came easier than she had thought, so did the tears. “Yes David she is.”
They stopped walking and David put his arms around her and pulled her close. He had not expected her to answer. He certainly did not expect the tears. For the second time that day he felt useless.
Sue looked up to see were they where. They had stopped at a small billabong, surrounded by trees, a tranquil place.
“I guess it is only fitting you found out here. This is where she told me.”
They sat at the edge of the water for a while in silence, each in there own thoughts.
David wondering what Tracey would do when she found out he knew. Sue wondering what would happen now that on outsider knew the truth.
David had a thought. “Does her son know she is dying?”
“No and Tracey wants it kept that way. He is off exploring the world. She doesn’t want him running back here to play nurse maid and miss out on life.” She looked at David.
“It’s ok my sweet, When the time comes he’ll come home. They both will.”
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PostSubject: chapter 22   Sun May 24, 2009 10:21 pm

Chapter 22
David and Sue arrived back at the guest house just on dark finding Sebastien, Carlos, Urs, Simon and Darrell engaged in a very unorthodox game of trivial pursuit. It did not seem to matter what they played it ended up in chaos. Hearty, side aching, belly laughing chaos and they all loved it. However Carlos refused to play monopoly anymore. He seemed to spend all his time in jail or bankrupt. He never did figure out that the others had a pact and it happened on purpose. They all refused to play uno with Simon once they found out how much he cheated and it looked like trivial pursuit was going to get struck off the list pretty soon as well. Only this time it was Urs who had managed to bring the game unstuck. Just when they thought they had him, he would know the answer to some ridiculous question.
Sue and David smiled at the noise. It was like watching school boys and it lightened their hearts. Just then all the pagers went off. By now the boys had their own. Sue looked at hers. “Nat has landed. I should go and get her.”
“Would you mind if I went?” David smiled sweetly at her.” I think she would get a buzz out of one of us going to pick her up.”
Urs piped up. “Why don’t we all go then?”
Carlos and Sebastien agreed.
“I guess that settles it then. You boys be careful on that road at night and under no circumstance let Nat drive back” Sue was about to finish when Darrell spoke up.
“Please, please don’t let her drive she crazier than Tracey.”
“I take it you would rather not have any unbending to do?” Chuckled Sebastien as the others smiled. Over the weeks they had been out a few times on the quads with Tracey. And they had all come to the same conclusion very early on. She was nuts!! So if this Nat was crazier than Tracey she must be a handful.
Between Sue, Tracey, Simon and Darrell the guys had seen every inch of the property from land and air, in a hot air balloon no less. . It was big, but the only things you could really see from the air were the helipad and the swimming pool, most of the buildings were hidden. It amused the guys to know that Tracey had made Jarrod West walk all the way to the next town when there was a perfectly good helipad right on the property. The same helipad they were headed for right now. It had also not gone unnoticed by all four that Tracey could just as easily have flown them straight to the property from Devonport when they had first arrived.

The four of them chatted casually as they drove. They looked nothing like the polished, elegant men that performed on stage night after night to adoring fans. They had all let their hair grow, and each one was exhibiting varying amounts of facial hair. Urs really looked like a wild Swiss hippie with his curly hair almost falling in ringlets in places it had grown so long. Together with a full beard he could have been mistaken for Grizzly Adams. David was much the same, only in the middle of his beard was a small ginger patch about the size of a twenty cent piece. The others had begun to call him Blue on account of the fact that Aussies called anyone who had red hair, Blue.
Carlos, although he had let his hair grow was only sporting a moustache and even though it was the winter months had managed to work on his tan. He was more bronzed than ever.
For some reason everyone thought Sebastien looked like a pirate and his nick name had gone from Sebbie to Sparrow to Jack after the character Jack Sparrow in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies.
So it was this motley crew that arrived to meet Nat at the helipad. No wonder she did not recognise them at first. It was when they all stood in line and greeted her in English, Spanish, French and Swiss and her eyes adjusted to the natural camouflage her heart skipped a beat and she had the widest grin on her face.
“My, My. It does a girls heart good to be meet by not just one adorable male but by four of the most wonderful men on the planet. How the hell are you guys? You look great.” She marched up to each one of them and planted a kiss smack on their lips. This took them all a bit by surprise. Yep. She was definitely a wild child. “It was so nice of you all to come and get me. So come on lets get back to the house I am starving. I need to eat before I see my mate.”
It was not until Nat got herself into the four wheel drive that they noticed the pilot. They smiled and Jimmy gave them a casual salute. He was standing next to the helicopter and next to him where a few bags.
“Reckon she may need these later.” Jimmy kicked the bags lightly with his foot.
David shook his hand. “Just another one of those things you do Jimmy, being a pilot?”
Both men smiled. “Must be.” Jimmy thumbed at the helicopter. “Get to fly this baby back to Hobart, gives me a chance to check up on my sister and her kids. Not a bad gig when you can get it.”
“Tell us Jimmy, Who is the wildest, Nat or Tracey?” Urs was eager to find out.
Jimmy laughed. “Close call fellas. But I reckon you put those two together in the right situation and you are gonna have your hands full.”
Just then they all heard the horn sound and the engine of the four wheel drive fire up.
“Merde.” Sebastien muttered. ”She’s in the driver’s seat!”
They all looked, Jimmy laughed. “Now you are going to find out first hand”
Nat shouted from the car. “Well are you lot coming before I start dinning out on the upholstery? Don’t forget my bags.”
Sebastien grabbed the bags as the others headed for the car.
It was apparent by the way the car came to a stop outside the house, who was driving. Even more so when the guys followed Nat into the house, they had been stunned into silence.
Urs shook his head. “Never knew you could get a four wheel drive on two wheels.”
Darrell shot a look at them and headed for the door.
“It’s ok Dazza no unbending tonight” Nat was in fine form. She hugged Sue and Simon. “That was a lovely reception Suzzie. I might go away just so I can do it again”
“We might have to put the four of them back into therapy before you try that again Nat my girl. I really wish you two would stop scaring people like that.”
Simon had motioned to the boys to follow him to the kitchen were he handed them each a beer. “Figured you could use a cold one. Whose idea was it to let that maniac drive?”
They all started to talk at once but it was Urs who cornered the conversation. “Hers, she jumped in while our backs were turned. She would have driven off without us, no way were we going to get her out of the driver’s seat.”
“Merde. I think I have aged 50 years” Sebastien took a long drink of his beer.
Just then Sue and Nat entered the kitchen. “And you still look so cute, my French pirate.”
With that they all laughed. Sebastien was miffed. “See. Even she calls me a pirate and she’s only been here five minutes. I’m having a shave in the morning.”
“Oh don’t do that you all look so wild and woolly. It’s WONDERFUL, so free.” Nat threw her hands up in the air and did a 360 degree twirl.
The guys just looked on in amazement.
Sue had told Nat about Tracey so the rest of the night was spent eating, drinking fine wine and Nat sharing with Il Divo her part in the Jarrod West story.
By 1.ooam they were all ready for bed. All that is except Nat. She explained that she never did sleep much. Pretty much survived on four hours sleep or less. And that pretty much clinched it for Il Divo. They still were not sure who was the wilder of the two Aussie girls but one thing was for sure. Nat was a wild child, a wild child that did not sleep. That did not bode well for the rest of the world.
What would she get up to while the rest of them slept? If David had known he may have tagged along.
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PostSubject: chapter 23   Sun May 24, 2009 10:22 pm

Chapter 23
After Tracey had an attack it was like her body rebooted to some extent and she would end up wired…all hyped up and unable to sleep. Even though her body needed to recover it was like she would get super charged. She would still be in pain but never stayed in bed, there was no point, and she didn’t sleep. So at 2am Nat bounded into the cottage in her own state of nocturnal hyper activity and flopped down beside Tracey on the sofa.
“Hiya kiddo. Heard you had a rough time of it lately. So? Ready to get into some mischief?”
Tracey adored Nat. She knew all about her condition but never dwelled on it. She was more interested in living and this was one of the things about Nat she loved so much. She always made her feel better.
“I am guessing you have been here more than five minutes so there has already been some of that. Am I right?” Tracey tried to give Nat her stern mother look but it didn’t work. Nat just laughed. “Yeah, I guess. They let me drive back from the helipad.”
Tracey smiled and shook her head. “Who ever they were, I know they didn’t volunteer to do that. Who picked you up anyway?”
Nat could not sit still any longer and began to dance around the room. “All four of them. Wasn’t that really sweet.” She continued without taking a breath. “They are all so, so gorgeous, especially that Urs. He’s out of this world dreamy.” Nat shot Tracey a concerned look. “You don’t have dibbs on him do you?”
“No honey, you can torment him all you like.”
Nat bounced back onto the sofa and became serious. “He’s ok now isn’t he? I mean…”
“He’s just fine, everything back in the right place, broken heart mended.”
“How could anyone possibly want to break his heart Trace? He is so pure, so angelic.”
“Nat! You hardly know him, you don’t know him and he is far from angelic. There’s a rebel in him he lets out every now and then.”
Nat had a big smile on her face. “Maybe he will come out and play! I think breakfast would be a good time to find out.”
The two of them spent the rest of the early morning chatting, catching up on things one did not say in e mails. And before long the sun was up and it was time for breakfast.

The four guys entered the dinning room to the sweet sound of female laughter, the smell of fresh brewed coffee and cooking bacon. Nat saw them first and bounded out of her chair. “Well, here are the sleeping beauties.” Urs just happened to be the closest one to her; she grabbed his hand and pulled him towards the table. “Time you lot got a feed so we can get the rest of the day started.”
After she wrestled Urs into a seat she did the same with David and Carlos. Sebastien escaped by heading for the opposite side of the table. She made him nervous.
Nat disappeared into the kitchen. David gave Tracey a knowing smile and she smiled back. Urs saw this little transaction, there were questions he would need to ask David later.
Sebastien had been sitting there thinking about something and in a flurry announced it to all. “I know who she reminds me of. That cartoon, you know the one where it whirls around, some monster that caused havoc wherever it goes?”
“You wouldn’t mean the Tassie devil by any chance would you?” Tracey shot him a look.
“Ironic don’t you think?” David said and they laughed.
With that, their own Tassie devil arrived loaded down with food.
He wasn’t sure if the others had noticed, but Nat was still in the same clothes as she’d worn the night before. Urs deducted that she had been up all night and was still over flowing with so much energy. He found himself warming to her in a quirky kind of way. He thought he might have some fun with her.
“So Nat. You just wear the same clothes until they wear out or is there some religious reason for not being able to change?”
Nat felt a challenge; she was going to like this. “Well Mr Buhler if you don’t like the way I am dressed we can fix that straight away.”
Nat began to unbutton her top, while at the same time kicking her shoes off. At first the guys thought she was joking but one look at Nat and they changed their minds. Urs couldn’t believe she would go through with it.
Sebastien couldn’t take it any more, he rose from his seat. “Mademoiselle, please, no. It is not fitting.”
Carlos also pleaded with her. “My lovely lady.” His smile could have melted ice burgs, but she kept going until Tracey spoke her name.
“Nat.” This was all Tracey said, quietly, everyone heard it. It may not have been her stern mother look but it was the voice.
“Well he started it.” Nat shot Urs a cheeky look. She got the same cheeky look in reply.
“Now that the entertainment is over can we eat? I’m starved.” David said as he helped himself to bacon and toast.
“Well I guess I better go and have a shower and CHANGE.” Nat shot Urs another look. “Want to join me?”
Urs blushed but he began to get up from the table. “Love too.”
Sebastien almost choked on his coffee, Carlos dropped his toast and David forgot to swallow, his folk poised in mid air.
It was that stern mother voice they all heard again. “You’ll do no such thing cowboy. Sit down.”
Urs sat, silently grateful.
“And you, young lady stopped teasing. Go and get ready.”
Nat went to protest. “Now or I’ll put you on the first plane back to Sydney.”
Nat headed for the kitchen pretending to pout. The next thing they knew was her shirt sailing through the air towards them. It landed on Tracey’s shoulder. “Not my colour really.”
David regained his senses. “She’s not shy is she?”

They ate breakfast and discussed what was on the agenda for the day. David noticed that Tracey did not eat much but she ate. He checked the bangles on her wrist, one was missing.
Urs finished his coffee and asked Tracey if they could have a chat. Each of them had gotten used to the others needing time with either Tracey ,Simon or Sue over the weeks they had been at the property so, even though it had been a while they thought nothing strange of his request.
“Sure thing Cowboy. Feel like a walk?”
David noticed that Tracey stood from the table just a little slower than normal. He wanted so much to be there for her. He had no idea if Sue had told her that he knew the whole story and he didn’t want to do anything that would alert the others that something was amiss.
Tracey caught his gaze and winked at him. Urs entwined her arm in his and they walked out that way. David was grateful for this gesture even though Urs had no idea what he had done.
“So what’s on your mind Cowboy?”
Urs sighed a little. “Your friend Nat.”
“Oh, I see. So you wouldn’t have minded following her for a shower after all?”
“No.. Yes…I mean. I wouldn’t have done that, honest Tracey. I don’t know what I would have done if you hadn’t stopped it. She called my bluff.”
“Word of advice. She will always call your bluff so you better be prepared to back it up when the time comes. Anything else?”
“I think I like her. Do you think I would have a chance with her? I mean, she seems so over flowing with life, would I be enough for her?”
Tracey smiled and squeezed his arm. “My sweet, sweet cowboy. I’ll let you in on a little secret. She has already set her sights on you.”
Urs stopped walking and just looked at Tracey.
“For what it is worth I think you will be good for each other. You will calm her down and she will be there to boost you up when you need it. She’ll drive you crazy at times. I can vouch for that but she will love you with all her heart and she will never break yours. What you have to ask yourself is if you can give her the same in return. That is what she will want.”
Urs was silent and Tracey gave him this. Knowing what he had been through she wanted to make very sure he knew what he would be getting into.
Urs smiled. “She likes me too?”
Tracey laughed. “Do me a favour and don’t make this too easy for her. She needs to know you can keep up with her. Are you very, very sure you want to do this?”
“Yes Ma’am.” Urs was very sure.

Just as Tracey had asked, he did not make it too easy for Nat. Their relationship blossomed over the next few weeks. It was amazing to behold. They seemed to feed off each others energy; at times the two of them exhausted the others. It seemed they had morphed into one Tasmanian devil. They were unstoppable together.

David and Tracey’s relationship had been somewhat stilted over those same weeks. Sue had told Tracey that David knew everything not long after Nat arrived. Even though David had seen Tracey at one of her worst times she was not sure how she felt about him knowing. Giving him his dues he had not spoken a word of it to the others. They had many conversations, David always willing to give her the time and space she wanted. He was so desperate to be with her it hurt but he didn’t want to give her any excuse to lock him out of her life. He wanted in forever, not out.
Slowly and with sound advice from Sue and Simon, Tracey bit the bullet so to speak and opened her heart to David.
David allowed her to set the pace.
Their happy family was changing shape and one night while watching a movie with them all Tracey realised that Carlos and Sebastien were without their other halves. She slipped away and made a few phone calls and sent a few emails.
Four days later they all heard a helicopter fly over as they were having lunch. Tracey had asked Jimmy to do it on purpose. Normally the helicopters flew in from the other direction. As its passing did not seem to raise the interest of Sue, Simon or Tracey the guys thought nothing of it. That is until Sebastien heard the sweetest sound in the world.
His girlfriend speaking is name and Carlos saw the most beautiful sight in the world, his wife. Darrell walked in behind them and Jimmy was hot on his heals.
Sebastien and Carlos hugged their respective partners. Sebastien was crying. “How can this be? I have missed you so, so much.”
Jimmy was the one to answer that question. “Think Tracey may have had something to do with it.”
Tracey was nestled under David’s arm smiling at the reunion taking place. “Well it is a little difficult to have a family gathering when some of the family are missing.”
David kissed her on the top of the head. “You did a good thing.”
“Just the right thing.”
Urs spoke to Jimmy. “So Jimmy, off to see that sister of yours again?”
“No. Got to catch up with some of my golfing buddies. Got a few games to play. But not before I get some of Sues home cooking down me. I hear we are having roast tonight.”

Carlos and Sebastien showed their partners to their rooms, David and Tracey finished watching the movie, Nat actually fell asleep under the watchful eye of Urs, Darrell and Jimmy went next door to annoy Sue and see if she would give them a snack to tied them over until dinner. Which left Simon out in the shed giving the last of the quad bikes a service.
It had been a harrowing six weeks at times, especially in the beginning; it had also been the best six weeks he could remember spending with people in a very long time. It did his heart good that he had been a part of the healing process, not just for the guys but for Tracey as well. After so many years of holding people at arms length she had let David in. Simon was so happy for her. But he had to wonder how long they would have together.

The last two weeks of their stay was sprinkled with love and laughter, energy and passion, a few over the top games of twister. Crazy quad bike rides with Tracey and Nat and a knowledge that they all had grown much, much closer to each other. They were indeed a family.
The time was drawing close and Il Divo would have to leave the shores of Tasmania and Australia, returning to the world that had almost been their undoing. However, this time they would return stronger and better than before.
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PostSubject: chapter 24   Sun May 24, 2009 10:22 pm

Chapter 24
The day had arrived much too fast for them all. Bags were packed and waiting at the front door. The guest house seemed to echo of emptiness already. The gang had gone for one last walk around the property. They had started out together and then drifted off on their own courses. Carlos and Gillian had been like newly weds all over again and had vowed to return to the property when they next got the chance. Sebastien and Reba had discussed finding a place like it for themselves, a place were they could be themselves. Whether it was in England, Europe or Australia, they had decided it was right for them.
Urs and Nat’s friendship had bloomed into a romance and love that was deeper than either one of them had known before. For all her extreme ways, Nat had a gentle heart and soul; she had a sweet tender way about her when they were alone that melted Urs’ heart. He never wanted her to leave his side. Nat felt the same way about Urs. This being the case she had arranged to take leave from her position for 12 months to give their relationship the chance to deepen and become what she wanted it to be. This little piece of information she had not told Urs. Not till they were on their own that morning. When she did tell him Urs howled, actually howled like a dingo. Nat thought it was so funny she joined in. Further down the path David and Tracey stopped to listen. They knew who it was, they both smiled at each other and howled back and laughed.
“I think those two are contagious don’t you?” David squeezed Tracey’s hand as they walked.
“I think Urs is just a little bit more out there than we gave him credit for. I think he is ready to take on the world and win this time.”
“With Nat at his side I don’t think he could loose. You have done so much for him, for us.”
Tracey stopped walking and stopped David before he could go any further. “David, I don’t want you to be with me because you feel you owe me a debt or you feel you need to help me. I can’t have that. You know that!”

It was David’s turn to stop her. He placed his hands on her shoulders and looked deeply into her eyes. “My sweet, sweet princess. I am with you because my heart has found a home. For the first time in my life I know what true love feels like. I only wanted to say thank you for sending that life line to us. If God has angels on earth to help us then you must be one of them. But I would not stay with you just because of that. I stay because I love you. I stay because I want to hear your soft gentle breathing as you lay beside me at night sleeping, I stay so that our love can grow and we become one, I stay not because I have to or need to. I stay because I want to. Tracey, you are the light that shines in my life and I want to be that for you.”
David’s words had settled into her heart, stirring up the love she had for him. He allowed her to find that gentleness in herself once again and she had given herself permission to love again. But as always there was that dark shadow of knowing one day she would have to leave him behind. “And when I am gone David. What then?”
“Then I will cry and I will weep, I will mourn, I will get angry and I will feel alone without you but I will also have the memories of us to hold onto. And I will keep breathing for us both.”
David had figured out from the beginning that it was best to be upfront and honest with Tracey. She seemed to have a sixth sense that could seek out your inner most thoughts and bring them to the surface. This could be painful; it was easier just to speak from your heart. “Tracey, I have no idea what the future will bring when you are not in my life but I want to find out what my life is like with you in it. You said yourself you don’t know how long you have. So let me live it with you. The good, the bad and the ugly. Just like it is supposed to be and as God is my witness I promise not to leave you at the first sign of a bumpy road.”
“That’s a very hard promise to keep David. Don’t say it if you don’t mean it.”
David took his hands off her shoulders and let them travel gently down her arms until they reached her hands. He took hold of them as he knelt down on one knee and looked back up into her face. “Tracey Coleman. I do solemnly swear to stand beside you through every battle you must face, to be your champion, to be the one you will know is always there, to be your lover and to be your husband if you will consent be my wife.”
Everything stood still, time stopped. It was as if someone had hit the pause button. David held his breath.
Tracey ran the words through her head again, consent to be my wife. He had said them.
“David are you asking me to marry you?”
“Tracey Coleman……. Will you marry me?”
David could feel her shaking, he dared not move in case he broke the spell, tears ran down her face and she did something unexpected. Tracey knelt down in front of him.
“Yes David Miller I will marry you.”
“You said yes.”
“I said yes.”
They hugged each other still kneeling and then David took a page out of Urs’ book and howled. Tracey laughed and howled as well. Off in the distance they heard not one but three replies and they howled again.
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PostSubject: chapter 25   Sun May 24, 2009 10:23 pm

Chapter 25
Il Divo had been back in England two weeks before Tracey could join them. She had a few things she needed to take care of before moving her operations to the UK. Like Nat she was going to stay close by David. Not giving up on her own work but allowing herself time to be with him. There were no concert tours schedule but the guys would be busy with recording a new album. They had a few special projects and weddings seemed to be in the mix there as well, two weddings. After David and Tracey had announced their engagement Urs got up the courage to ask Nat to be his wife. He almost got a broken rib out of it she threw herself at him so hard when accepting.
Since finding out about Tracey’s global projects David had been studying up on her work. He had told her that he wanted to become involved, help make a small part of the world a better place and not just by singing. He floated a few ideas with the other members and they thought it would be a good idea to get involved as a group. So between recording sessions they accompanied Tracey to boardrooms for meetings, got to see her work first hand. Those that had worked with or been involved with Tracey before never under estimated her. Those that did usually found themselves way out of their depth.
Coleman Enterprises was a very vast benevolent company with interests in just about every area of business you could think of. David was amazed that Tracey could retain so much information about all its projects. She did have an army of people working for her but that did not mean she wasn’t aware of what was happening.

They also made a few trips into the field to see how some of the projects where changing lives. They went to Africa. Coleman Enterprises had several projects on this continent but they had gone to see the opening of a hospital funded by the company. Il Divo was good for publicity. Tracey had not pushed them into coming on board, she already knew the benefits for the company if they did and she was right. But there had been benefits for the guys. Their knowledge of her company had grown, They had a better and deeper understanding of the business world, they had gained a respect in that world and Tracey knew that if their singing careers ended tomorrow they would go on to be successful in other fields.

Life was good and everyone seemed to have settled into a rhythm. Even though Nat had taken time off work she was till busy. Couldn’t help herself. It had only taken 3 months and she needed to be doing more. So she did. It had never occurred to the guys that Nat actually worked for Coleman Enterprises and Tracey was her boss. There were still a few things about these Aussie girls that the guys just did not know. Sometimes they wondered if they really wanted to know.
Jarrod West had not been a problem for them. The very opposite, when they arrived back things had changed. Little did they know that Coleman Enterprises now owned 51% of the music company he worked for. Jarrod West had no idea how she made it happen but it happened. And Nat now kept an eye on the all things Il Divo.

It had been decided to have a joint wedding in England in June. Tracey had organised for family and friends to be flown over and accommodated in a Hotel the company owned in the north east. She let Nat, Gillian and Reba fuss over the wedding. She did however manage to stand still long enough to get fitted for the wedding dress.
The weddings would be held in the gardens of the hotel, the reception in its ballroom. It made perfect sense to Tracey. Everyone in the one spot. Simon, Sue, Darrell and a few others were coming from Australia. Other family and friends where flying in from all over Europe, and a few from the USA including Hayden, Tracey’s son. He had been visiting his father’s family. Although he never knew his father Tracey had made sure that they had kept in touch with his family. Hayden was the only grandchild.

The day was fast approaching and all of the members of Il Divo had been awed by the fact that no one outside their circle had an inkling about what was happening. David had been concerned that family or friends may let something slip. Tracey had told him not to worry it would all work out. It was not until later he found out that Jimmy and a few of his golfing buddies had been hired to hand deliver the invitations.
A week before the wedding the four ladies arrived at the hotel. Nat, Gillian and Reba had made a few trips to the hotel to sort out decorations, table settings, the logistics of organising the actual day. The hotel concierge was a wonderful man in his late sixties who knew everyone you needed to know in the hotel and so it seemed the wedding business. The three ladies had come to rely on him and Nat was over the moon when he accepted her proposal to be coordinator on the actual day. Four days out from the wedding all the civilian guests had left. Only hotel employees and the four ladies remained. Tracey gathered all the employees in the ballroom. Some of the longer standing employees knew Tracey. Her reputation preceded her. She was a tough but fair employer, did not suffer fools, thieves or bullies and she paid well.
“Ladies and Gentleman for those of you who don’t know my name is Tracey Colman. My company owns this hotel and in a few short days as you may have suspected there is to be a special event to take place here. I have called you together to inform you of a few things. The first. If everything goes well over the next 4 to 5 days there will be a 500 Pound bonus for everyone.” There was a murmur through the crowd and Tracey waited for them to settle. “However, if one word of this event is leaked to the media, or talked about with anyone who is not in this room that 500 pounds will vanish and not just for the person who leaked the information. I mean everyone will loose the bonus.
The second. Guests will start to arrive tomorrow, I would ask that you treat them well and please help make this a special time for all involved.”
Tracey saw a young man about four rows back put his hand up. “Yes Phillip, you have a question?”
Phillip was stunned she knew his name. “Miss Coleman can I ask what is happening?”
“A double wedding Phillip of some very special friends of mine and I want to make it as nice and memorable as I can.”
“So do we know these people if we are not suppose to talk to the media?”
“I have know idea if you know them or not Phillip but talking to anyone about this event would not be a wise move.”
Tracey looked around the room. “Ok. Everybody has the rest o the day off. Back on normal shifts tomorrow.”
Tracey left the ballroom. People began to talk and Phillip heard a conversation just in front of him. “You know what they call her don’t you? Cyclone Tracey. She’s an Aussie and that Cyclone that wiped out Darwin in 75’ was called Tracey. I am telling you if she says don’t talk, you don’t talk. And I sure won’t be happy if someone snitches and blows my 500 pounds.”
People began to arrive by hire car, by helicopter, mini bus, taxi and Hayden arrived on a motorcycle. The hotel staff had been briefed on who was to be placed in what rooms and the front desk had a detailed list. Tracey and Nat were on hand to greet their guests. Tracey did not recognise her son as he rode up the driveway. His face was shielded by the dark glass of his helmet. It was not until he got off the bike and began to walk towards her she knew who it was. He walked so much like his father. He threw his helmet on the ground and hugged his mother. “Hiya Mum. Been a while.”
Over the past six years they had only seen each other once, maybe twice a year. “Did I tell you how much I love you?” Tracey tussled his hair.
“Yes mum. Last week via web cam and by text if I remember. So, the lucky fellas here yet?”
“No. shouldn’t be too much longer. Why don’t you go and get settled.”
Tracey watched her son disappear into the hotel as she heard the faint murmur of a helicopter in the distance. This sound seemed to bring more staff out in the hopes of seeing someone they knew. Tracey knew this arrival may just spark the interest of a few. As the helicopter came to a rest David was the first to step out, then Carlos, then Sebastien and then Urs. Nat was half way across the field and jumped straight into Urs’ arms, wrapping her legs around his waist. This was something he had become accustomed to. Gillian and Reba had been a little more gracious and waited for Carlos and Sebastien to reach them before giving them a small kiss each. Tracey and David locked arms and headed for the hotel.
“I think we might have stirred things up.” It was apparent to David by the looks they were getting from the hotel staff that some of them knew who they were.
“Just a little, but I think at the moment they may have you down as the entertainment. I thought about having a walk around later see if I could pick up any gossip on the tipping competition.”
David shot her a look. “You mean they are taking bets as to who is coming?”
“Yep, and who is marrying who.”
The next few days was a flurry of people arriving and getting to know each other. The hotel ran much as it would have on any other day. Guests taking advantage of all that was on offer. Sue and Simon had arrived and it was like old home week for everyone. It took them quite a while to get from the hotel foyer to their rooms as they guys had heard they had arrived and greeted them, Hayden was on hand to pick Sue up off her feet and plant a kiss on her check. Nat and Tracey joined the rabble. For the hotel staff on duty that day it seemed a little odd. The only people they knew where the members of Il Divo. Even when they looked up the registration of names, Sue and Simon’s did not ring any bells. But it seemed that this group were very dear friends. They all marched off together.
That night in the restaurant they all sat together. Simon, Sue, Tracey, Nat, Hayden, David, Urs, Carlos, Sebastien, Gillian and Reba. They had purposely made sure that Nat and Urs, nor David and Tracey sat together. Just making sure that no one got the right idea. As the rest of the guest was family and friends this little group seemed to be very relaxed. People smiled as they heard the genuine laughter coming from the table.

The night before the wedding Tracey had trouble sleeping. Everything was organised, so it was not that. She had been feeling a little unwell but had that under control. She tossed and turned in bed for a while. When she realised what was wrong she sat up in bed and just laughed. No way, she had cold feet. The thought made her laugh even more. After everything she had been through in her life, it was her own wedding that was giving her the heebee gee bees. She needed to settle a few things so she called David’s room. It was 3am and he answered much too quickly for someone who should have been asleep.
“Hello”
“You’re awake?”
“I am now sweetness. What’s up?”
“We need to talk.”
“What, right now?”
“Yes… right now. I am coming down there ok.”
Tracey hung up before David could answer. He was waiting at the door for her when she arrived.
“You’ve got me all nervous Trace. What is the matter?”
She paced around his room a little before settling on the 2 seater sofa near the window.
“Tell me we are doing the right thing?”
David smiled and knelt down beside her, resting his hand on her knee. “What does your heart tell you?”
His voice was tender, his eye smiled with kindness and his hands held a gentle warmth that seemed to soothe her soul.
Tracey smiled. “It tells me, I love you.”
“Then we are doing the right thing. Tracey, I love you and tomorrow I want everyone to know how much. I will ask you again… Tracey Coleman, will you be my wife?”
She flung her arms around him. “Yes David Miller, I will be your wife.”

The entire hotel was a hive of activity the day of the wedding. The weather had been kind to them and the wedding would take place in the garden as planned. Gillian spent the morning with Tracey and Reba with Nat. The guys had managed to sneak away unnoticed. Hayden said he had a gift for them. They met him near the horse stables. Hayden and Il Divo had become fast friends, he felt like he had gained four brothers, one soon to be his step father, something that he liked to joke about with David. In the beginning David was not at all sure how Tracey’s son would react to their engagement, the difference in their ages. Hayden put him at ease the first time they met, jokingly calling him Dad. As far as he was concerned as long as David was what his mother wanted, he didn’t need to know anymore. Now, David kind of liked the fact that Hayden called him ‘D’.Sure beat Merlin………
Hayden was resting against the barn door when the guys arrived. He pushed it open to reveal four quad bikes, each one with their names painted on the side. Urs was the first one to see the other names at the back of the quads. He pointed to the small number plates attached to the back. “I think you better take a look at the back of your bikes guys.” Urs was already standing behind his.
The others came around to see what he was pointing at. Hayden was grinning. David let out a belly laugh; Carlos just shook his head, “What happened to Latin Lover?”
Sebastien just stood looking. “I would have preferred Sebbie.”
Each bike had been named for each member of the group.
David’s had Merlin on the back
Urs had Cowboy.
Sebastien’s was Jack.
And Carlos had Smurf written on his.
“Mum said that you like to ride them so asked me to get you one. The paint job was her idea. I take it you know what it means?”
David spoke for them all. “Oh, most definitely. So guys are we going for a ride?”
“But we have a wedding to go to” Urs was not at all happy about taking off on quad bikes the morning of the wedding.
Sebastien put his arm around Urs’ shoulders. “We have hours yet. It is the girls that need all this time to get ready. We shower, shave and get into a tux. Done. 30 minutes tops.”
“Ok but you promise we will be back in plenty of time?” Urs was still not convinced they should go.
Hayden laughed. “My mother would skin me alive if you lot didn’t get back in time. I have strict instructions to have you back at the hotel by noon.”
David was already on his bike ready to rev it up. “So let’s go then.”

Tracey did not like to be fussed over and it took some doing for Gillian to get her into her room to get ready. Sue had been commandeered to assist. Nat on the other hand was over the moon with all the preparations and poor Reba was almost totally exhausted. The two ladies had undergone manicures, pedicures, hair styling and make up. Sue had threatened to tie Tracey in her seat if she did not sit still and let the people work. Reba had threatened Nat with the same if she didn’t stop trying to help.
Tracey was watching out her window when she saw the five guys ride their newly acquired quad bikes towards the hotel. All seemed so happy, she smiled. Sue came and stood at the window with her. “You‘re doing the right thing Tracey.”
The two women hugged as they watched the five men enter the hotel.
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PostSubject: chapter 26   Sun May 24, 2009 10:24 pm

Chapter 26
There was a 4 piece string quartet playing in the garden as family and friends were seated waiting for the ceremonies to begin. Sebastien and Carlos were giving their friends the last touch up just out of site before allowing them to take centre stage and wait for their brides. All the guys looked stunning. Dressed in a shimmering semi grey long tailed tuxedo, with lapels outlined in a darker shade of grey with waist coast and shoes to match. They seemed to glisten in the sun.
Everyone beamed at them when they stepped to the front to await the arrival of the girls. As they did the music changed. This was the cue for Tracey and Nat to make their entrance. Carlos and Sebastien were acting as best men and Gillian and Reba had taken their seats at the front of the guests. Nat appeared at the far end of the aisle first. She was stunning in a simple yet elegant silver grey satin halter full length dress. She was on the arm of one very proud Simon. As she walked down the aisle Urs stood in awe at the angel he was about to marry. He knew there was a wild child underneath all the elegance but she took his breath away. He was speechless; he could not take his eyes off her. The other three felt much the same. Just then David caught sight of Tracey as she started to walk down the aisle; he caught hold of Sebastien by the arm making him look to see what was the matter. Tracey made her way down the aisle on her sons arm. A very proud son.
“Oh my Sebastien. She’s…….” David could not finish the words.
“She is beautiful my friend. Today many see what you have known all along.” Sebastien smiled at his friend as they both watched Tracey approached.
She, like Nat was dressed simply but elegant. Looking like she had just stepped out of King Arthur’s castle. Her dress was full length and flowed and swayed as she walked, high waisted with a scooped neckline, Long sleeves. It was a deep burgundy. The colour setting off the small red flowers in the simple wreath she had in her hair.
Urs looked at David. “We are marrying angels my friend.”
Both women smiled at their soon to be husbands as they joined them.
The ceremony, or ceremonies were simple each one vowing to love and behold until death. The couples were announced to the world as Mr and Mrs Urs and Natalia Buhler and Mr and Mrs David and Tracey Miller. Everyone stood and clapped. Tracey looked to Nat. David and Urs knew that look in the girls eyes to know something was up. When they started to howl, realising what the girls where doing the boys joined in. Nat jumped into Urs arms, wrapping her legs around his waist. Tracey laughed and snuggled herself under David’s arm. A place she felt very, very safe. This is how they left their guest to have a few photos taken while the reception got under way.
As they returned to the ballroom they passed Phillip, the young man who had asked questions a few days before. Tracey smiled at him “So Phillip did you win the bet?”
At first he looked horrified. “Miss Cole … errr Mrs Miller.”
Tracey so loved the sound of that. “It’s ok Phillip. So how did you do?”
“Well you had us all stumped. I did make good as I picked two of the group to be the grooms. Urs and Sebastien. But no one even placed a bet on you. How did you manage to keep that a secret?”
“Magic” And with that they all made their way into the reception.

Outside the ballroom Jimmy and what looked like a battalion of his friends waited for the newly weds. They were all dressed in their military best, standing at attentions. Tracey was shocked, she had no idea this was planned.
Jimmy stepped out of formation when they arrived, a big grin on his face. He hugged Tracey and Nat and shook David and Urs’ hands.
“Before you go all cyclone on me Trace. This is our little wedding gift to you, no arguments. You may out rank me but on this occasion…”
Tracey had tears in her eyes. “Oh Jimmy, you are such a wonderful man. Thank you.”
With that Jimmy barked an order and his men entered the ballroom, it immediately fell silent. They made a guard of honour from the entrance to the bridal table, swords held high in the air to make an arch. Jimmy escorted the four of them to their table. David and Urs were speechless. As Jimmy sat Tracey in her seat he bent down to say something to her. “I think this could be your toughest assignment yet.”
Tracey squeezed his hand.
David and Urs had the same thought. Again Tracey had surprised them. She out ranked Jimmy???? David smiled to himself, as Sebastien had said, there was more to his wife than they knew. His heart warmed to that thought, HIS WIFE. He was married. He looked across the table. Tracey winked at him, lent in and gave him a kiss.
"No one out ranks anyone when it comes to you and me my sweet, sweet Merlin."
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PostSubject: chapter 27   Sun May 24, 2009 10:25 pm

Chapter 27
Twelve months down the track, Honeymoons over and things for everyone had settled back into a routine. Nat and Urs spent every chance they could hiding out in the Swiss Alps. After attempting to show Nat how to ski. Urs decided that it was far too dangerous to give her two long sticks with pointy ends and it was much safer to keep their activities indoors, sauna and spa’s. Nat had found the games room of the hotel they liked to stay in and had become a master of their motor racing virtual games. Urs was convinced that both she and Tracey were totally insane when it came to anything with wheels. But he loved spending the time with her. She had so much energy and was willing to give just about anything a try. Urs was teaching her how to play the drums. (Well at least these sticks didn’t have pointy ends) and Nat was teaching him how to live and love life.

David had become more involved in the business side of things with Tracey. As had all the members of Il Divo. But David to his surprise found he had an aptitude for business and he enjoyed the challenge. Not that he had given up on the singing. NEVER. There was a new world tour in the works. But this time David was much more involved in the logistics of it all. This time the tour would finish in Australia so they could take advantage of the hospitality of their Tasmanian friends.

Tracey had seen more of Hayden this past twelve months having a sneaking suspicion that David was behind it all. She was glad. He was a grown man and she did not want to be a mother who stopped him from reaching for his dreams. But she was very glad for the extra time. And it burdened her so that she had not told him she was dying. A few times she had come close and she was almost sure this was the reason that David had made sure they had time together. Tracey had asked him a few times and David had told her that in her own time it would happen. Mind you, he figured a little push in the right direction couldn’t hurt.
The day came when she found the courage to tell her son that she was dying. Hayden smiled at his mother and gave her a good long cuddle before letting her know he had known almost from the beginning. She and Nat were not the only ones with friends in the right places. Tracey was so proud of him. Hayden did confess however, that he was a lot more comfortable now she had David in her life.

Most days David never thought of the fact that his new wife was maybe dying. When he was with her, he found himself drowning in her sweet tender love, She was kind and gentle, had a sixth sense about his own emotions and feelings, and was so easy to talk to about anything. No matter how ridiculous he thought, she always listened; she always heard what he was saying even when he never said anything. She knew when he needed time to himself, when he just needed to be with the other guys; she also knew when he needed a good kick up the rear end. He would catch himself thinking about her during the day and smile.
Tracey did the same. David’s face would flash into her mind and she would smile to herself. When she was with him his presence enveloped her, she felt safe and alive, and she felt loved. Something she thought would never happen again. He would do little things. Like leaving sweet poems on her mobile phone, leaving the last biscuit in the barrel just in case she wanted one, gently holding her hand and checking her bangles to make sure she had not missed a meal, not making a big deal out of it but appearing with suitable food or whisking her off for a coffee. His excuse to spend some time together. Some days she would find a daffodil (her favourite flower)on her pillow, or on her desk at work, in the car, even in a hotel room. Always one and always from David. He was attentive, romantic, made her laugh and she felt like she was home when she rested in his arms. Her Merlin made the whole nasty world go away.
That is why when she slipped on the stairs a few days before they were due to start the tour she did not make a big deal out of it. Tracey had noticed a few things over the past few months. Her left side was weaker; the strength in her hand was less. Not enough so anyone else would notice but enough that she would. Her nights had become much more restless. David was used to her getting up or not sleeping a lot but now it seemed that she could not sleep. The doctor had increased her pain medication and changed others but the cocktail that once helped her live a relatively normal life was no longer strong enough. She tired much easily now. Her little fall was another sign, her leg would just give way, she never knew when or where and most times she managed to counter the weakness by shifting her weight onto her right leg. The pain in her chest had intensified and soon she would no longer be able to hide just how much it hurt. Thankfully she had only had one other attack like the one in Tasmania and she had been in Japan at the time. David did not know about it. Although when he met her at the airport she could see the worry in his eyes. But he never pushed her to talk about her illness and she loved him for that.
As the tour was going to end in Australia they had started in the north, England and Europe. They were in their US leg of the tour when Tracey could not hide her ill health any longer. It happened backstage just as the group were finishing on stage. Tracey had known she was not having a good day but had expected to last until they got back to the hotel. She had been waiting in David’s room when it hit. But it was not David who got to her first. Urs swung the door open and raced in. He’d been sent to grab the video camera. He was half way into the room when he saw Tracey on the floor, Urs came to a screeching halt in front of her and for a moment thought she was asleep, until he really looked at her. He knelt down beside her and touched her on the shoulder. “Tracey!!!.” He shouted her name again “Tracey!!!”
Tracey was shaking and doubled over in pain. Urs felt just how hot she was. “My God Tracey what is wrong?!!”
Tracey managed to open her eyes and caught hold of Urs’ hand, in a weak voice she spoke. “Get Merlin for me Cowboy.”
Urs was on his feet and out the door in a flash already shouting David’s name at the top of his voice. Other people back stage got a bit of a shock as he flew past them. “DAVID!!!!” Urs rounded a corner as he shouted David’s name again almost knocking the other members of the group down.
David just looked at Urs and then began to run. He knew it was Tracey, leaving Urs to explain to the others.
Both Carlos and Sebastien watched as David ran out of sight. Urs had begun to rush back towards the room while he explained to the others. The more he explained the faster they walked. When they got to the room David had moved Tracey off the floor and was holding her on the sofa. Urs was first in. “What happened David? Is she sick?”
Sebastien was over come with the way Tracey looked. “Dear Lord David she looks terrible.”
David shot Sebastien a look that chilled him to the bone. Before David could say something he would regret Carols stepped in by placing a reassuring had on Sebastien’s shoulder. “David what can we do?”
David held Tracey closer as he felt another wave of pain hit her body. “Nothing. It will pass.”
Urs was not so sure. “But David how can you know? She is in so much pain.”
David had tears in his eyes as he answered. “I’ve seen it before.” He looked down to his wife and ran his fingers through her hair and then looked back to his friends “She’s dying.”
His three friends were dumfounded, the shock and realisation of what he had said registered on their faces, the room was silent for a few moments, no one knowing what to say. Sebastien’s voice was almost inaudible as he spoke. “How can you be sure David?”
“She told me.” David looked down at Tracey “Shut the door till this is over and then help me get her back to the hotel.”
Carlos shut the door as Urs pulled out his mobile phone and began to send a text. “Calling Nat.”
Sebastien went to kneel down beside the sofa. “There must be something we can do?”
David was about to answer but Tracey spoke. “Be my friends.”
“We will Mon Cherie we will.” Sebastien began to cry.
Urs sat in the corner with his head in his hands, Carlos had rested against the door he was saying a silent prayer.

Later that night the four members of Il Divo sat in the lounge of David’s room as Tracey slept in the bedroom. David knew they needed answers. He had talked it over with Tracey and now was the time to let them know the whole story. So David talked and they listened.
Urs was the first to speak, he was hurt and angry. “So she has been ill the whole time we have known her and you didn’t tell us. You married her and you didn’t tell us.” Urs was upset and they others could tell “All this time we could have helped you and you never said anything.”
David was distraught and shouted back at Urs. “Don’t you think I wanted to? But I promised I wouldn’t, for Gods sake she hasn’t told Hayden yet. Back off Urs.”
Urs was about to launch into another shouting match when they all heard the ear piercing whistle from Sebastien. “Enough!!!” He moved so that he was between Urs and David. “Urs, if it had been you she had told would you have kept it a secret?”
Urs’ expression changed and softened. Sebastien continued “I thought as much. So now we know we must help anyway we can.”
Carlos turned to David. “How do we help my old friend?”
They all turned to the bedroom when they heard Tracey’s voice. “By being exactly who you are”
David could see that she was holding herself up against the door. He went to help her.
David took her to the sofa and the guys gathered around, they looked like little lost puppies. Tracey smiled at each one of them. “Don’t be like that. This is exactly why I didn’t want David to tell you. Why I wouldn’t marry David.” She smiled and held his hand. “But he wouldn’t take no for an answer and you three…You have been such a wonderful blessing to me. I don’t want you to feel sorry for me.”
Sebastien’s voice strained with emotion. “But Trace…”
Tracey placed her fingers over his lips to stop him from speaking. “I think it is time I went home for a while. Let you boys have some fun without me”

They all went to say something when Nat burst into the room. She went straight over and sat next to Tracey, gave her a big hug and pulled her to her feet. “Time you went back to bed.”
Again the guys went to protest but she stopped them. “I’ll talk to you lot in a minute.” Nat turned her attention to her friend. “Come on then.” Nat took Tracey back to her bed returning to the fellas a few minutes later. She shut the bedroom door and rested against it, letting the tears roll down her face. Urs made a move to comfort her but she stopped him. “Stay…So you all know the truth now. The next step is up to you. Are you going to treat her like a leaper or are you going to be her friend. She needs you to be strong for her now, be yourselves.”
Carlos spoke. “We will do what ever she wants.”
“She wants you to keep going. Finish the tour.”
They began to protest but did not get far. Nat turned her attention to David. “You knew this day would come David. She gave you enough reasons to walk away, she gave you every chance. But she’s not done just yet. She’s tired and can’t do the rest of the tour with you but we’ll be waiting for you.” Nat could see the looks on their faces. “I’m going home with her” Nat smiled at Urs. “Right now she needs my energy Urs. Do you understand.?”
Urs smiled and walked towards her, they touched foreheads and he kissed her tenderly. “I do. She has been looking out for us since before we knew her. She saved my life.”
“We have six weeks off at the end of this U.S leg of the tour.” It was Carlos. “We will be coming to our Tassie hideout then for a little while.” He stamped his foot on the floor.
“No arguments, just arrangements.”
The others smiled; he would get no argument from them.
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PostSubject: chapter 28   Sun May 24, 2009 10:26 pm

Chapter 28
So Tracey and Nat headed for Tasmania as the group continued their tour. Sue and Simon where happy that she was back with them and Baby Girl made it known she had been missed.
Although the attack had been a bad one it was not enough to keep Tracey down for long. Being back in Tasmania seemed to help her recovery. Gillian and Reba joined them a few weeks before the guys arrived. The girls had a wonderful time doing everything from quad biking, when Tracey got her strength back to bush walking, to taking over the kitchen of the guest house, which is where the members of Il Divo found them when they arrived. Well, not so much found but heard them. As the guys entered the house they could hear screeching and shouting coming from the kitchen. At first they thought something was wrong but in amongst the noise they heard laughing. Urs made a bee line for the kitchen door, pushed it open and promptly got hit in the head with a piece of cookie dough. This took him by surprise, not as surprised as the girls were to see him. They all stopped in mid motion. Urs stood at the door with his hand on his head, the others joined him to see what had happened. In the kitchen looking very much like naughty children who had just been caught red handed where the girls. They were covered in flour, there was cookie dough all over the kitchen and each one of them was armed with the stuff. The room was silent, the girls looked at each with mischievous grins and it was at this point that the guys suddenly realised what was about to happen and it was too late for a defence. Nat raised the war cry. “Let’s get em girls!!!” and each girl ran towards her man throwing the cookie dough at him. The guys had no chance. Urs was still recovering from his initial hit when he got hit again and then Nat jumped into his arms. He was covered in flour.
Sebastien had tried to retreat back into the other room but Reba had taken a page out of Nat’s book and pounced, so much so that both she and Sebastien ended up on the floor. A floor that was covered in flour and other assortments of cooking ingredients that never would see the inside of an oven.
Carlos was desperately trying to wave off Gillian, it did not work, he too was over powered, a puff of flour exploding into the air as they collided.
It seemed that the only one who would escape this massacre would be David. Tracey had walked up to him slowly, smiling, face and hair covered in flour. David thought he was safe, until they got closer and she pounced on him. He went to protest and Tracey shoved a piece of cookie dough in his mouth. Again he was about to protest but changed his tune.
“Hey this is not bad you know.”
The place exploded into laughter and for the next 10 minutes the cookie dough wars between male and female was fought. At the end they were all sitting on the floor quite happy, very messy but very happy.
Sue walked in “Magtag!!!!” (roughly translated Oh my goodness) She was horrified as she looked around the kitchen and then to the culprits all sitting on the floor.
“Hi Suzzie. We were just making cookies.” Tracey had no sooner got the words out of her mouth when the others laughed, trying very hard to keep it under control.
Sue shot them all a look. “Well if you think I am cleaning up this mess you are sadly mistaken.”
David jumped to his feet. “We’ll clean it all up Sue, don’t worry about a thing.”
Sue looked from David to the room to the others. “Spotless, I want this place spotless. I’ll be back just now to check.” And with that she left.
The others got to their feet. “What does she mean she’ll be right back to check? Doesn’t give us much time. Look at this place.” Sebastien was dismayed.
“It’s ok Sebbie, Just now means she will be back in a while.” Tracey patted him on the back. “Took me a while to figure that one out. Mind you, if you ever hear her say Gatuol, run. Means she REALY has had enough.”

The group got in and did indeed make the place look spotless. Not the job the guys had expected to do first thing but they all had fun and even managed to save some of the cookie dough and made a batch of cookies. When Sue returned a few hours later, the kitchen was clean, the marauding cookie monsters peacefully watching a DVD(de floured) and the smell of fresh baked cookies was in the air.

Tracey and David wandered off for a walk. David was eager to make sure she was ok. They had kept in frequent contact but now the he saw her he felt much better.
“I’m not at all sure it is a good idea to leave you alone with Nat. Here was I expecting to find you perched on the sofa reading but no you have to have a food fight. Tell me the rest of the time you have spent here has not been like that.”
Tracey smiled that smile that melted his heart and pulled him closer. “Well I had to keep my mind off the fact that you were so far away didn’t I? Actually, it has been great having all the girls together just to do girly stuff.”
David looked at her. “I hate to think what that would be after today’s performance.”
“Oh, just simple stuff like stalking yowies, sky diving, white water rafting.”
David stopped in his tracks. “Trace…What the hell is a yowie?”
Tracey giggled.. “Mmmm just think of big foot with an Aussie accent.”
David’s laugh boomed out across the property “I love you Ace.”

Urs and Nat had done a similar thing and taken themselves off for a walk in the opposite direction. Nat did not so much as walk but skip, she was so happy to see Urs and Urs had not realised just how much he missed his crazy over energetic wife until then, he couldn’t keep the smile off his face. His heart warmed at the sight of her, even the simple things she did like brushing his hair from his face brought him such joy. He wondered at the miracle that had brought them together. He would never have thought that someone who was so spontaneous and sometimes just plain crazy would affect him so. He would have expected her to drive him insane. He smiled to himself, maybe that would still happen, Urs finally understood what true love meant for him. He was willing to be dragged into the mayhem that the Tassie devil he had married could cause.

Carlos and Gillian had found themselves on the back veranda to the guest house, not far from where they had found Urs that night on their first visit. They sat side by side, Gillian with her head on Carlos’ shoulder, arms locked together.
“She is an amazing woman Carlos is Tracey.”
Carlos hugged her “You, You are an amazing woman my sweet. I adore you more now than when we first met. You make my life complete. You have shown me what true happiness really is.”

Sebastien and Reba had stayed in the guesthouse. Sebastien was lying on the sofa while Reba sat with his head in her lap, gently running her fingers through his hair. He took her hand and kissed it fondly. “Each time I am away from you I think I miss you more. I worry that you are alone and I could not forgive myself if I made you sad.”
Reba continued to stroke his hair. “Seb, I will admit that I wondered about our relationship and if I was willing to take on such a life.” She could feel his body tense up “But I am very happy and having come to know the other girls I feel like I am part of a family. I have gained three sisters and three brothers I never knew I had. Tracey has given me strength, Nat energy and Gillian, contentment seeing her with Carlos.
We have become fast friends and I know I can count on them for anything.”
Reba stopped herself before she spoke her next thoughts out loud. All she wanted now was for Sebastien to ask her to marry him and her life would be complete. She had thought that the double wedding may have spurred him on and she had spoken to the others about it. They had all been very supportive and promised to be by her side no matter what he finally decided or when he finally decided to do something.
Little did Reba know that Sebastien had come so close to asking her on more than one occasion but as much as he loved her he was worried that he would not be enough for her. He had been terrified that her answer would be no and somewhere deep down he knew he could not take that so he did not ask as if this would solve the problem.
Little did either of them know that something else would solve the problem for them and very soon.
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Respite Down Under By: Lois Lane
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