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 Respite Down Under By: Lois Lane

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loislane
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PostSubject: chapter 29   Sun May 24, 2009 10:26 pm

Chapter 29
The group spent the weeks much as they had done the first time they at been to the property. Bush walking, quad and horse riding, fishing, and yes, some very rowdy games of trivial pursuit, uno and monopoly. The girls had become very adept at cheating and they ganged up on the guys time after time. Try as they might the guys never seemed to be able to get back at them. Most nights were spent playing one of these games; everyone laughed and enjoyed the lightness and freedom to be silly. Nights were rounded off with mugs of hot chocolate.
During a break in one of these night games Tracey asked Sebastien to join her outside. They sat on the front steps to the guesthouse.
“What is it Cherie? Can I help you with something?”
Tracey smiled at Sebastien. “I have something very serious I need to speak to you about my sweet prince.”
Sebastien became very nervous thinking Tracey was going to ask him to help her with something in regards to her health. He swallowed hard before he spoke. “What is it my angel?”
“How long are you going to wait before you ask Reba to marry you Sebastien? How many more hints does she have to drop?”
Sebastien was dumbfounded; he just looked at Tracey unable to speak.
Tracey smiled sweetly at him and kissed him gently on the tip of his nose. “She adores you Sebbie but she won’t wait for ever. What are you so scared of? Are you afraid she will say no?”
A small tear began to run down Sebastien’s face and he nodded his head. “I’m afraid I will not be able to give her all she needs. When this fairy tale is over, what will I have to give her?”
“Sebastien do you really; really think that is why she is with you? If you do then you don’t deserve to have her.”
Sebastien was shocked at what Tracey had said. His heart broke, he could not bear to think of life without Reba and yet he did not want to hurt her. Tracey’s voice broke through his thoughts.
“My sweet prince, If all you had were the clothes on your back she would love you forever. She loves you Sebastien Izambard, not the lifestyle, but you. Don’t you think you should give her the chance to show you just how much she loves you? Don’t you both deserve to be happy?”
Sebastien was overcome with emotion. “Like you and David?”
Now it was Tracey’s turn to feel the turmoil in her heart. “Yes my sweet. David has given me a life I thought I would never have. He’s a brave man who I cherish and love with all my heart and like you I don’t want to hurt him but unlike you I don’t have a choice. Sebastien… You’re far braver than you think. Be her knight in shining armour. I promise, you won’t look back.”
Sebastien smiled. “Be her Merlin?”
Tracey leaned in close to Sebastien. “Be you.”
Tracey left him to sit alone and she returned to the house.
David joined Tracey as she came inside, putting his arm around her shoulder. “Everything ok Trace?”
Tracey looked back towards the door. “I think so babe. I think so.” Tracey folded her arms around David’s waist and kissed him. “Time for bed I think.”
About 40 minutes after they had settled down for the night they heard a howl. A human howl, a Sebastien type howl. Tracey smiled to herself and cuddled closer to David.
“I am guessing you know something about that Missy?”
“Maybe.”

Reba was up early the next morning. She was glowing and couldn’t stop smiling, couldn’t wait to tell the others. She had already woken her parents up with the news. Sebastien lingered in the room waiting for all the others to get up. He wanted Reba to share her news with them in her own way. Sebastien was amazed at just how wonderful he felt. The woman he loved had agreed to marry him and he couldn’t think of anything more beautiful in the world than spending the rest of his life with her.
Sebastien heard a communal howl drift up from downstairs, he smiled. It seemed that this howl was now their call sign. They all knew when they heard it that something good had happened and they each had tuned into the slight differences in their individual sounds. So hearing the communal happy wail he decided to join the rest of them for breakfast.

Tracey was sitting at the far end of the table when Sebastien walked in. She gave him a smile and a wink. David caught her winking and lent over to talk to her. “You did have something to do with this didn’t you?”
“Just gave him a little push.”
Reba and Sebastien were in each others arms, not sure whose smile was the widest. Nat was perched on Urs’ lap, Gillian was in a similar position with Carlos and everyone was so happy.
Reba kissed her sweet prince. “I was beginning to wonder if you were ever going to ask me Seb. I am so glad that you did.”
Sebastien returned the kiss. “I don’t know why I waited so long.”
The three other guys sent up a cheer and the day progressed, the girls talking about wedding plans and where and when, what to wear. The guys finally escaped just after lunch, but not until it had been decided it was going to be an Aussie wedding.

The rest of their vacation weeks swept by fast and it was time for Il Divo to head back on the road, a few more months to go before the end of their tour. Tracey stayed in Tasmania, Gillian had work commitments in Italy but both Nat and Reba went with the group. Between e mails and voice mail and text messages and mobile phone calls this little group managed to keep in touch with each other very well. Without really knowing it they had become a family, brothers and sisters. Considering the diversity in their characters it was amazing just how well they all got on.
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PostSubject: chapter 30   Sun May 24, 2009 10:27 pm

Chapter 30
Over the next few years their friendships grew stronger and stronger and their love for each other also grew. The paparazzi where hard pushed to find one without the other. Where Urs was, Nat was not far behind, if he was without Nat you could guarantee someone else from their merry band would be there, either one of the other members of Il Divo or one of the wives. Even when they had things that took them away from each other and the press tried to start a scandal, it never worked. If things did get into the papers this little group would have fun with it. Nat was photographed one night coming out of a night club with someone other than Urs. The photo hit the tabloids with captions such as “Natalia Petrovich Buhler, ‘Wife of famed Il Divo star Urs Buhler, seen with mystery man. Has the fairy tale crumbled?’
The mystery man happened to be a business associate of Coleman Enterprises who was in town for a short while and was not about to let his partying get waylaid by business. Nat had closed a very lucrative contract that night. Before she left the night club she had sent Tracey a text and Urs a photo. To keep the tabloids happy Nat’s mystery man agreed to meet Urs at the same night club a few nights later. This time it was Urs who walked into the firing line with him. The rest of the team had a good giggle about the joke. They all knew these things would happen and early on they all decided not to take it seriously and always, always talk to each other and when they could, win one for their side.

As the guys were somewhat lax in posting things to their official web site the ladies had decided to do it for them, Nat and Reba in particular. Once a week they would post updates of what was happening in the world of their men, answer questions about rumours that had been started, and made sure that the guys read things from the web site to keep them in touch with their fans. It was a job the girls loved.

The members of Il Divo where still having fun performing together and they had pursued a few single protects as well, including starting their own music company. All of them where now involved in some way with Coleman Enterprises benevolent projects and David had taken on a big roll as an executive of the company. As he had taken on more responsibility Tracey had lightened her role.
For the next five years life was good to them and they were good to each other. David had kept a close eye on Tracey’s health and except for a few bad days here and there she was doing well. Little changes had crept in that they both noticed but thankfully not to noticeable to others. She was weaker, it was harder to write now, and her legs hurt all the time, sleep did not come easy. All things they had agreed to keep from the others. For the most part Tracey led a normal life, even getting to spend much more time with her son Hayden.
David had asked him on board Coleman Enterprises after he found out he was as smart if not smarter than his mother. Hayden spoke several languages including Swahili, had a double degree in law and medicine which he finished in record time, was a qualified chef, and well versed in the activities of the corporate world, had travelled the globe and been to places David could not pronounce. David and Hayden had cemented a great bond over the years which made Tracey smile. It was good to see them working together. They did not speak of Tracey’s illness much and that is how she liked it. There were too many wonderful things happening in her world. She was free to love the man of her dreams, free to help change a small part of the world for the better through the company and often found herself the resident counsellor for the members of her extended family.

When Nat had completely exhausted Urs and he was at his wits end as to how to keep up with her, Tracey would find herself looking into his deep hazel eyes and smiling, giving him some advice on how to cope with all that energy. He really didn’t need help; he was still completely besotted with Nat. But living with a Tasmanian devil can be tiring.
Sebastien would call from time to time just for a chat but they would end up in a deep and meaningful conversation. It was always the same, something he had been struggling with and he wanted to hear what his Florence Nightingale, (as he called Tracey) had to say.
Carlos, even with all his bravado would call on Tracey, especially when it concerned his lovely Gillian. He always wanted to make sure he did the very best for her and he always did.
Tracey loved being part of their lives.
The four girls had grown to be great friends and confidants. In the beginning Gillian had some concerns about being left out as she was the only non Aussie but that was so far from the truth. Tracey, Nat and Reba loved her; she was their sister now and for always. After the initial apprehension, Gillian felt comfortable with the other girls. They had fun together, whether it was shopping, cookie dough wars, (Yes, they still happened) or just hanging out together while the guys were off doing their own thing. Gillian too would come to Tracey at times for a little one on one.
Tracey loved it when they got together for a family meal, all eight of them plus Hayden. These nights were filled with fun and laughter, joy and happiness and of course plenty of howling. Something an outsider would not understand. Tracey was happy and content. If she was ever concerned that she had not done the right thing by marrying David, nights like these where her confirmation that it had been her destiny. He was younger than she and Tracey was convinced it was his youth and energy that had given her the strength to continue even when the specialists kept saying she should be much, much worse than she was. Love and happiness had been the best medication to ever come into her life. She was no longer afraid to die. Really she had never been afraid to die but now Tracey was not afraid to live and live like she had something to live for. Deep down she knew God had given her more time, time to spend with the man she loved so completely.
Il Divo had rescued her.
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PostSubject: chapter 31   Thu May 28, 2009 6:04 am

Chapter 31
Tracey had elected to join Il Divo towards the end of their tour. This one was going to finish in the USA and then everyone would be heading for Tasmania for R&R before heading back to the UK, were most of them lived.
She smiled as she watched them perform. Nothing had changed since the first time she heard them. Except that they were better, more passionate about their music and seemed to have such a wonderful time on stage performing and interacting with the audience. There was no doubt that this is were they all loved to be.
So with two weeks to go Tracey stood just off stage with Reba, Nat and Gillian so very proud of their men. She would have liked to have travelled the whole tour with them but these days the virus she had battled for so long was making her take life a little slower and she knew when they got back to Australia she would need to rest.
The guys had two more songs to do and they would be finished for the night. All of a sudden Tracey felt the pain begin. It came more frequent now and gave her less warning. Silently she got hold of Nat’s hand and squeezed it. Nothing was said but the two women made their way back to David’s dressing room.
“How bad is it this time Trace?” Nat was concerned at the frequency of these last attacks. The pain did not seem to be so intense but she had noticed that Tracey was not fully recovering from one before another would appear.
Tracey had her arms folded around herself and was rocking back and forth as she sat on the sofa. “Not so bad this time.”
Nat felt her friend’s forehead, she was extremely hot and the perspiration had already started to run down her face. “Liar. No more going all day and to concerts at night for you. You need to rest. Do you want to go back to the hotel?”
Tracey shook her head.
Nat had asked the question but she already knew the answer. Tracey would wait for David.
The guys had seen the girls waiting at the side but about half way through their last song Urs noticed that Nat and Tracey were missing. He managed to get David’s attention. Both Gillian and Reba blew them kisses and motioned that everything was ok. This tight little family were very protective of each other and although they both wanted to go with Nat and Tracey they stayed knowing if they all left the guys would panic a little.

Once they were off stage David smiled at Reba and Gillian but kept walking. Followed by Urs. Sebastien and Carlos gave their wives a small kiss on the cheek.
They all knew that Tracey was unwell. Sebastien squeezed Reba’s hand. “How is she?”
“I think the travelling is all too much for her these days. It seems to take a lot out of her and longer for her to recover. Sebastien, I’m worried for them.”
The four of them walked in silence to David’s room, it seemed that the dark cloud they had all hoped would never arrive was hovering on the horizon.

David knelt down by the sofa and gently brushed his hand across Tracey’s cheek. She was cooler and had stopped shaking but very tired and weak. “Hey kiddo, you know if you don’t like the songs we sing you just have to say so.”
Tracey gave David a weak smile. “I’m sorry Merlin; I didn’t think the trip would take this much out of me.”
“That’s ok, how about we go back to the hotel. I can tuck you into a proper bed?”
Tracey nodded her head and without hesitation David scooped his wife up in his arms and began to carry her to the waiting cars. The others followed them down the hallway. As David placed Tracey in the back of the car he turned to his friends. ‘Don’t worry guys we’ll be ok. You go off and have dinner like we planned.” With that he got into the car beside Tracey and they left.
Urs was standing behind Nat with his arms around her. “I don’t feel much like going out. Would rather stay in with you.”
The others all felt the same so they too went back to the hotel. They rode in sombre silence. In ways Tracey’s illness had made them all value each other more and they did not take each other for granted.
Sebastien sighed as he looked out the window. “How is David going to cope when she is gone?”
Reba squeezed his hand. “He has us to hold onto Seb. We need to be there for him, we need to be there for each other. Knowing that someone is going to die is not going to make it any easier.”
Carlos spoke up. “How long? She seems to be much weaker.”
Nat spoke up. “If I know Trace she’s not about to go without a fight.”
Urs had tears in his eyes. “But she has been fighting for so long already. I worry that she will not have the strength to go much further. I worry that I can’t be there for her like she was for me when we first met. She saved my life and…” He never finished. Nat held his hand as he looked back out the window and tears fell down his face.
Urs felt like he owed Tracey so, so much. She had rescued him from his depression so many years ago. She had brought Nat into his life, he had a soul mate and now there was nothing they could do but watch her die. Urs did not know if he had the strength to go through that. He did know however that for Tracey’s sake he would be as strong as he could for her. He had always thought of her as an angel. A tough angel but and angel and now God wanted her back.

David cradled Tracey in his arms as they lay on the bed together and Tracey drank in his scent. She loved the way he smelt, it was strange but being able to smell him she felt safe. Some days she would come home and he may have left not long before but his scent would linger. Just knowing he had been there made her smile; she was content knowing they had shared the same space. Now she nestled under his arm and drifted off to sleep with ease and peace.
David watched her and listened for her breathing to change; knowing she was sleeping he gently placed her head on the pillow and covered her with a blanket. He went into the lounge room and looked out the window, not really seeing anything. He had made a vow that he would be strong until the end but it seemed that the end was creeping up much to fast. Tears flowed, he loved her so very much and prayed everyday for a miracle he knew would never come. He had known as soon as he had collected her from the airport that things where much worse than she was letting on. It had only been two months since they had seen each other but over the years he had learnt how to read all the signs. They did not and could not hide anything from each other. The others may think she was just a little more warn out than usual but David and Tracey knew it was more than that. Silently they grieved for each other.
There was a quiet knock on the door. David dried his tears and answered to find Nat and Urs standing there. Nat Smiled, she could tell David had been crying. “She sleeping?”
“Yes. Been a long couple of days.”
David beckoned for them to come in. “You guys should be at dinner.”
Urs smiled at him and patted him on the shoulder.” Like you said, long couple of days.” He continued. “The girls have decided to for go the rest of the concerts, that way Tracey wont feel like she needs to be there and they want to make sure she gets plenty of rests.”
David smiled at Nat, Draped his arms over her shoulders and placed his forehead on top of hers. “You know she’ll make a fuss.”
Nat kissed him on the cheek. “You just leave Ace up to me. We have girl things to do.”
Both Urs and David smiled. When it came to their four girls, Girl things took on a whole new meaning, cookie dough wars sprang to mind. But David was grateful that Tracey had such good friends.
“Thanks guys. We just need to make sure she can make the trip back home.”
It was the first time in a long time that David had referred to Tasmania as home and the meaning was not lost on the others.
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PostSubject: chapter 32   Thu May 28, 2009 6:05 am

Chapter 32
Morning came to find David on his laptop replying to e mails and checking things that had been sent by his office. Being the CEO of Coleman Enterprises took up a lot of his time but it kept him busy and he liked the idea that they were doing things to help others. Once when he had become over whelmed with the amount of people that needed help, Tracey had told him not to look at everything and see what he could not change but look at what he could change and change it. This helped him in his corporate life but when it came to Tracey he was lost. He looked at something he wanted so desperately to fix and could do nothing about it. But she always smiled at him and said that she had been given extra time so she could be loved by him and love him, she was always grateful that she had met him and her life had been wonderful. Tracey said she could not ask for anything more. David wanted it to last for eternity.
David felt her gentle touch on his shoulder as she bent over to kiss him. “Working hard I see.”
He stood and engulfed her in his arms. “I love you so much Ace.”
“I love you to my Merlin.”
They held each other for a few moments then David bent his head and kissed her sweet lips with tender lover and gentle passion. Tracey took hold of his hands and guided him back to the bedroom. “I think it is time you took a break.”
David smiled as he followed her. “Are you sure?”

When they had first been married David was in awe and wonderment of their love making. They spent hours wrapped in each others sensual, seductive magic. Tracey may have been the older but she certainly kept David wanting more. At times he wondered if she really was ill, she used to leave him so exhausted.
Now as the time had passed and they new each others bodies their lovemaking was gentle, rhythmic, and all consuming. David cared so much for Tracey that if giving up this part of their lives meant she would live a little longer he would have gladly done so. But as in the past it was more often than not Tracey who initiated their interludes. As she had become weaker David had worried but Tracey had told him she would let him know when enough was enough. Apparently today was not that day.

Once again David lay listening to his wife’s breathing, he smiled, her face was calm, serene, no hint of the pain she carried. She had told him once the only times she did not feel the pain was when she was sleeping or making love to him.
Knocking at the door meant he would have to leave her, something he was finding harder and harder to do.
Nat stood there with an Urs smile on her face. It was never very hard to know when those two had been together. “Hi sunshine, Trace finished with you yet?” and she walked in as David stood in stunned silence. Apparently it was easy to tell when he and Tracey had been together as well.
“She’s still asleep.”
Nat pointed to the bedroom door. “Are you sure”
David turned to see Tracey stood at the door smiling at them. “Time I had some breakfast. Morning Nat. Thought I might see you. So what plan have you three devised to try and keep me out of trouble?”
Nat pouted but David had to smile. He never under estimated that sixth sense she had about people. Probably what made her so good at her job and the reason the Coleman Enterprises were able to be as benevolent as it was.
With a cheeky tone to her voice Nat answered. “Not telling. Get dressed we are going to breakfast first.”
Tracey winked at David and went back into the room to get ready.
David wanted to make sure that Tracey was not going to take on too much. “Nat. Nothing to strenuous you here. I..” He never finished.
“It’s ok, we go for breakfast and then I have a friend who owns a day spa so we are taking her to get pampered. You know, nails, hair, and massage. That sort of thing.”
David laughed. “And you think you will get her to sit still for all that?”
The smile dropped from Nat’s face. “These days she doesn’t get as restless, but I am betting she gives them a hard time. We have lunch planned as well. So you can just relax for the day before tonight. Go back to bed.” She touched his arm gently. “I know how hard this is for you. I know she is a lot sicker than she is letting on. David, I promise I will look after her. But you need to look after yourself as well.”
David choked back tears and just nodded as Tracey appeared.
Nat put herself into Tassie Devil mode, grabbed Tracey’s hand and began to drag her to the door.
“Hey! Don’t I get a kiss?” David laughed just a little.
Before anyone knew what had happened Nat kissed David, Tracey laughed and he looked surprised. Nat stood there with her hands on her hips. “Happy now, can we go?”
David went to say something but Tracey pulled him close and gave him a very long kiss.
“Mmmm. That was much better.” He looked into Tracey’s eyes. “You be good. I know being with the girls that is asking a lot. But I would rather not have to bail you out of gaol ok.”
They all laughed and the girls left.
David went back to work until lunch time when Sebastien, Carlos and Urs turned up to drag him out for something to eat. They seemed to be at a loss without their girls. They had figured a lazy lunch and they would head over to the concert hall for the sound check.

The girls did spend a great day getting pampered and true to form Tracey was none too pleased about being fussed over. But she knew what they were trying to do. Their hearts were in the right place.
For the two weeks Tracey spent it letting the girls look after her and she had to admit that she was having fun. But the day that Nat had organised for them attend the matinee session of the Chippendales Tracey was speechless, thinking they were going to a movie. It seemed that Gillian had been out voted but again it was a scream. To watch Nat and Reba and the rest of the female audience get into the swing of things. Tracey smiled, she indeed had been blessed. As they headed back to the hotel once the show was over the girls all decided that their own private Chippendale show with their own men was far, far better. Tracey guessed that all the guys were in for a nice surprise that night after the concert.
As the trip home got closer and the tour came to an end Tracey had made it clear that she was going to attend the last couple of concerts.
They were fantastic, it would be close to ten years since the group began and the fans had never wavered. They were still as loyal and dedicated as they had ever been. They guys did not tour as much these days but when ever they did you could be sure it was to sell out crowds of adoring fans. Tracey loved to be at the last nights, the atmosphere was electric and the guys gave a hundred and ten percent. But then again they always did.
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PostSubject: chapter 33   Thu May 28, 2009 6:06 am

Chapter 33
Sue and Simon were waiting at the helipad as they landed, Sue waving frantically even before the helicopter had touched down. Jimmy once again was flying them home. When he had picked them up from the airport he had known that it would be the last time that he would fly Tracey anywhere. She looked so very, very tired. Even behind her brave face there was no denying that she had come home to die. They did not speak of it and it broke his heart to know this was the reason they were home. Jimmy got so mad when he thought of all the people in the world who did not deserve to live and yet Tracey would be taken away from them. Initially he was going to stay for a few days but as tough as he was this was not something he could handle. Give him terrorists, and international operations but the death of his friend was already tearing him apart.
David was the first one off the helicopter, helping Tracey. Even over the past week she had deteriorated, her strength was failing; her legs had become so weak that at times she could not hold herself up. Sue gasped when she saw her. She was so much worse than she had expected. Simon squeezed his wife’s hand. “We need to be brave for her Sue, for all of them. This is going to be tough. We’ve always known that.”
Sue nodded, smiled and went to hug her friend. “About time you came home young lady. I’m out numbered here or did you forget.”
Tracey smiled at Sue. “Nice to see you.”
By this time the others were off the helicopter. Simon waved to them all.
“Darrel says hi. He said as long as Nat or Tracey didn’t do the driving we could have the jeeps.”
Tracey laughed. It was a good sound to hear. “But Simon there’s no gates between here and the house. He won’t have any unbending to do.”
“No but last time Nat and Urs were here she managed to buckle the steering column and rip the speedo cable out of the jeep. He was not impressed.”
Tracey looked over at Nat who just shrugged her shoulders trying to keep the innocent look on her face.
Sue broke up their little talk. “Well come on lets get you back to the guest house. It’s all fixed up so you can all stay together.”
Nat jumped at Urs wrapping her legs around him, so he had to catch and hold her. He never knew when she was going to do this and over the time they had been together she never seemed to loose her zeal or energy. “Great. I loved it when we are all together. I promise not to drive anything this time.”
Urs looked at her with a quizzical expression. “Ok, I’ll try very hard not to.”
As David passed Sue she got hold of his arm. “How you doing?”
“I’m scared Sue.”
She hugged him. “I know. We all are. She’s been so very strong for so long I guess we just never expected her to loose the fight. Even the doctors say she had been living on borrowed time for the last 5 years.”
David once again choked back his tears as they drove back to the house.

Sitting on the top step when they arrived was Baby Girl. A little thinner and older but still so very big. Sue had told them that her sight was not so good these days but she got around just fine. Spent most of her time with Sue.
Tracey got out of the car and called her. They had not seen each other in such a long time. “Hello Baby Girl.”
The cat stood, stretched and then waited for Tracey to get to her. Tracey was just about to pick her up when the cat stretched up her paws as she used to do. Tracey picked her up and she rested on her shoulder just like old times.
Sue Smiled. “She hasn’t done that in a long time.”
David was standing next to Tracey. Baby Girl meowed and touched his face with her paw.
He smiled and tussled the top of her head. “Wow she must remember me.”
As if to answer his question the cat meowed again.
Urs was smiling, he remembered the first time he had met Baby Girl.
Tracey carried the cat into the guest house but feeling the strength wain in her arms she placed her on the ground. Tracey took a deep breath. “This is the second best smell in the world.”
David embraced her from behind. “What’s the first?”
“Tracey took hold of his arms as they lay over her chest. “You are Merlin, You are.”
David tightened his hold and kissed her on the top of the head.
The others all made their way into the house. It had been along time since they had all been there together. They had managed to get back as couples; a few times a number of combinations of couples had been at the property together. Not planned, they had just decided they needed time back in Tasmania and they would always arrive with in days of each other. Sue was amazed at the phenomenon. The last group had been Urs and Nat followed a few days later by David and Tracey.
Now she smiled, the family was home all together. She smiled but her heart was sad, the reason they were all home was indeed a tough pill to swallow.
As always Carlos and Sebastien were drawn to the kitchen. Carlos was the first to say something as he inhaled. “I smell freshly baked scones.”
Sue laughed.” Well I don’t know how. I cooked them at my place. But you are right. A nice fresh batch of scones, cream and jam await. Take a seat, I’ll put the kettle on.”
So this family sat around the table working their way through Sue’s scones and freshly brewed tea and coffee and taking about the last few months of the tour and bringing Sue and Simon up to speed on the events in their lives.
Mid afternoon arrived and it seemed that jet lag had finally caught up with them all. They each drifted off to have a sleep before dinner.
Tracey, David, Sue and Simon were the only ones left at the table.
Tracey was very tired but did not want to stay in the house. “I think I would like to spend some time at the cottage. David would you mind?”
He smiled at her. “No. I think that is a great idea.” He looked at Simon. “Can I borrow the jeep Simon? The walk is a bit too long.”
“Sure Dave, just keep the keys away from Nat.”
They all watched as Tracey got up from the table, slowly, testing her legs. She gave a quick glance to David and he was at her side in an instant to hold her up.
Tracey tried to make a joke of it. “The old sticks are a bit wobbly these days.”
Holding onto David they walked to the waiting Jeep.
Once on their own David turned all his attention to his wife. He had felt the heat coming from her body, a sure sign that another attack was in progress. “How bad?”
Tracey was trying to hide the fact that she knew this one was going to be bad. “Just get me to the cottage Merlin. I don’t want Suzzie to see me like this.”
David drove as Sue buried her head into Simon’s chest and cried. “Dear Lord Simon she’s…”
Simon had no words to comfort his wife so he just held her as a few of his own tears fell.

By the time David had Tracey at the cottage she could not walk, she was trembling, burning up and trying to do battle with the pain in her chest. He carried her to the bedroom, laying her on the bed; Tracey curdled up and began to rock. All David could do was sooth her brow and talk her through until it was over. “I’m here baby, Just hold onto me.”
Tracey cried through the pain and her tears mingled with the perspiration covering her face. “It hurts so much.”
David tried hard not to cry but is tears flowed. “I know baby, it will be over soon.”

In the early evening Urs had come to find his friends for dinner. He found David curled up on the sofa asleep. Tracey’s attack had taken a lot out of him emotionally.
Urs knelt down and tapped him gently on his arm. “Hey David. Rise and shine.”
Urs smile disappeared when he saw David’s eyes. It was obvious that he had been doing a lot of crying. “Hey, David you ok?”
David sat up and nodded. “Yeah, just tired.”
Urs knew that was not the truth but chose to ignore it. “How’s Trace?”
David sighed.” She’s sleeping, had another attack. Urs, she’s so weak. I feel so helpless.”
Urs sat next to his friend. “We all do David. She is such a strong person, has been for so long it’s hard to see her like this. You want to talk?”
David shook his head. He did want to talk but had no idea where to start.
“You know we are all here for you, anytime.”
The men smiled at each other. “You want me to get Sue to send some supper down for you?”
“Yeah that would be good. Need to make sure Tracey eats.”
Again Urs smiled at his friend. “We need to make sure you eat.”
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PostSubject: chapter 34   Thu May 28, 2009 6:07 am

Chapter 34
David was sitting next to Tracey’s bed when he heard a familiar voice call out hello; a small relieved smile crept across his face as he walked into the lounge room.
“Hayden, when did you get here?”
“Just in time for dinner.” He handed David the tray he had brought with him. “Compliments of the chef.”
David put the tray in the kitchen; he would warm it up later when Tracey was ready to eat. “Your mum’s still asleep. Would you like to sit with her a while?”
Hayden nodded and they walked back to the bedroom. “How are you holding up D?”
“Ok, but I don’t think Tracey should have made the trip to the US. She’s so tired and weak.”
Hayden put his hand on David’s shoulder. “You and I both know that when she had made up her mind to go she was going. Nobody was going to stop her.”
David sat on one side of the bed and Hayden pulled up a chair and sat at the other.
Tracey stirred a little, opened her eyes and smiled. “My two favourite men. What more could a girl ask for.”
Hayden bent over and kissed his mother. “Hiya mum.”
“Let me guess, got here Just in time for dinner.”
Both men smiled. “You know me. I can smell one of Sue’s lamb roasts from three continents away. I brought a doggy bag. You up for eating yet?”
Tracey pulled herself up the bed with help from David. “Not just yet but I would kill for a cup of tea.”
Hayden squeezed her hand. “One hot brew coming up.”
As he left her eyes fell on David. “Promise me you two will look after each other?”
David had no words; he was too afraid to speak in case he broke down and cried. He only nodded.
Out in the kitchen as he waited for the kettle to boil, Hayden felt the tears run down his face. He had not planned on coming home for a few more weeks but the whole time his mother was in the States, he was restless and knew the only thing to stop it was to book the flight and get to Tasmania. Seeing his mother he understood why. She was so much worse than he had expected.
David was right, she was so very tired. No more supercharge and wanting to get on with life after an attack. Hayden could see it in her eyes. That shine, that spark that he was so used to seeing was fading. He was going to loose his mother and like David was so angry that he could do nothing about it.

This small portion of the extended family sat together and talked about many things. Tracey wanted an update on Hayden’s life, how things were going for him at Coleman’s. She so loved to hear about David and he working together, they had the same kind of passion and if she could get them started talking about a new project they were involved in this passion would take over. They obtained energy from each other; it was a good partnership in more ways than one.
David made sure that Tracey ate but Hayden noticed that David had not touched any of his food. As they left Tracey to sleep for the night he mentioned this to him.
David smiled. “I’m not hungry mate.”
“I know that D but unless you want the rest of the female clan down here spoon feeding you I suggest you at least try. If I don’t go back with empty plates they will know something is up. You, not hungry. They will not believe me.”
By the time Hayden left David had consumed about half of the meal Sue had sent for him and he had to admit he felt better for it.
Once he had let a hot shower wash away some of his torment he joined Tracey in bed, holding her all through the night.

David woke to a slight breeze whispering through the open window and Baby Girl sitting on the end of the bed. At some point during the night she had made the trip from the guest house. He would find out later that the cat did not venture that far from the big house theses days. He smiled at her. “Come to check on your mother have you?”
Baby Girl stretched and walked David his full length, starting at his feet she walked up his legs until she was close enough to his face to touch nose to nose, which she did and then meowed. David in return scratched her behind the ears and got another nudge from her as a thank you. Then she settled between Tracey and David and went to sleep for a little while. David spent the time watching his wife. As Tracey stirred so did the cat and out of habit Tracey put her hand down and scratched Baby Girl. David lent over and kissed Tracey on the shoulder. “Morning.”
“Three in this bed is one to many my furry friend.”
As if it knew what she was saying the cat jumped down and headed out the door. Tracey turned, smiling at David. “Morning Merlin. What adventure do you have in store for me today?”
David brushed some wayward hair from her face. “Oh I thought maybe a little bit of yowie hunting, followed by some bungee jumping and then just to relax maybe some white water rafting.”
“Guess I better get ready then.” She kissed David and swung her legs over the side of the bed holding her breathe as the pain danced in her chest. Tracey knew her legs were weak but until she tried to stand did not know just how weak. She did manage to stand for few second but then her legs gave way and she fell to the floor. David flew out of the bed and to her side, picking her up and putting her back on the bed. “Ace. You ok?”
She had tears in her eyes. “They have no strength.” She rubbed her legs. “I can’t stand up anymore Davey.”
David’s heart ached so he almost forgot to breath. Before Tracey had always gotten her strength back. This time it was different and they both knew it.
He smiled at her. “I would carry you to the moon and back if I had to.”

As it was that morning David carried her to the shower, holding her while they washed and then to the sofa in the lounge. He made breakfast at the cottage instead of going to the guest house.
“I should head up to the house and let the others know you are still resting.”
“Merlin, Will you send Urs down for me I want to talk to him.”
“Sure.”
David thought about her request and it took all his strength not to let his tears flow again. She was saying good bye.
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PostSubject: chapter 35   Thu May 28, 2009 6:08 am

Chapter 35
Urs knocked on the door before he entered. “David said you wanted to see me.”
Tracey patted the sofa next to her. “Come and sit.”
He did and Tracey took hold of his hand. “You are an amazing man you know that don’t you Urs? So many people have no idea what lies just under the surface. If David hadn’t stolen my heart I think maybe you might have.”
Urs smiled and squeezed her hand. “I’m dying.” Urs went to say something but she stopped him. “It’s ok. This is going to be so much harder for all of you than me. But I need you to be strong for just a little while longer. For all her energy and craziness this will hit Nat hard, harder than even she thinks. She’s a tough girl but she is going to need you. I am going to need you to take care of her Urs. If you do that then she will be able to take care of you.”
Tears fell down his face and Tracey gently brushed them away. “I need to thank you.”
Choking back more tears Urs spoke. “For what Tracey? I don’t understand?”
“For bringing David into my life. If not for you, and me getting a bee in my bonnet about your health in the beginning we would never had met. You brought him to me Urs and because of that I got to love and live a life I never thought possible. If it had only been for six months I would have been grateful but I got so, so much more.”
Urs could no longer hide his own grief, unable to speak he hugged Tracey and she held him until his tears had stopped. “Don’t be sad my Swiss Cowboy, Live a good and full life for me, cherish the time you have with Nat and you friends.”
“I already do Trace. I already do.”
Urs left Tracey with instructions to send Sebastien down to see her.
As she had with Urs, Tracey made Sebastien sit next to her. He had seen the pain on Urs’ face but all he had said was Tracey wanted to see him.
“What is it Cherie? Is there something I can do for you?”
Tracey smiled, every the caring soul, always looking after others before himself. “Don’t be afraid to live Capt’n Jack.”
Sebastien smiled, these days only Reba and Tracey called him Jack. In the beginning he was not at all sure he liked it but his new nick name grew on him and it had been useful. Sometimes when there were out and wanted to remain anonymous Reba would call him Jack.
Tracey continued. “And when that first baby is born give it a good strong name. I know you are afraid that you won’t make a good father Seb but you will. You will be outstanding. I know you. You would love nothing more than to spend time with good friends, good food and a brood of your own running around the back yard.”
Sebastien had tears in his eyes. “I have told no one of this dream Cheri, even Reba says someday we will have children.”
“She only says that because she is giving you time. Sebastien do you remember when you proposed to her?”
Again he smiled. “It was the happiest day of my life.”
“Mmmmm, but you needed a little push. Well I am giving you another push okay. Tell her it is okay, you’re ready and you will make her the happiest woman on earth. I promise.”
Sebastien took her hands. “How is it that you know all these things?”
“In your heart you know them to.”

Tracey’s next visitor was Carlos. He waltzed into the cottage in his own sweet flamboyant way, giving Tracey a bend at the waist bow. “A private audience with our Florence Nightingale.” Carlos held out his hand. “Mrs Miller, could I have the honour of this dance?”
Tracey smiled; she still so loved to hear that name. “I am so sorry Mr Marin but just now my dancing legs are a little tired.”
“You sound like Sue, but when she says that she means later. You really mean now don’t you?”
Tracey nodded.
“Then I will be content to sit by your side and drink in your beauty,”
“Oh Papa Smurf, I don’t think I could qualify as beautiful.”
Carlos took her hands and kissed them. “You shall always be a beauty Tracey; your heart could not let you be any other way.”
Tracey gently brushed her hand across his cheek. “Thank you Carlos, that means a lot.” She sighed. “I have a big favour to ask of you.”
Carlos remained silent only looking into her eyes and waiting. “I need you to be Papa Smurf when I am gone.” Tracey felt his grip on her hands tighten just a little. “The boys will all need you to help them get through it. The girls will rally around each other; they will talk to each other and in their own ways will help each other move on. But the boys, Carlos you need to help them talk about their grief, their pain, their anger. You will need to be a father and a friend to them. Let them know you are truly there for them when they need to talk.”
“But Tracey. We are there for each other, we always have been.”
“I know Carlos and I know I am asking a lot but you will need to show them, really show them they can talk to each other and to you. I don’t want them to bottle it all up. I don’t want them to make the same mistake I did. Especially David.”
Carlos got down on one knee in front of Tracey, still holding her hands. “As God is my witness I will try my hardest to do this for you.”
“I know you will Carlos and I love you for it.”
Tracey had fallen asleep on the sofa and it was David’s gentle touch that woke her. She smiled, looking into a face of the man she loved so much. He kissed her. “Sue sent down some sandwiches for your lunch. Would you like a cup of tea?”
“Yes please. Where are the others?”
David answered as he busied himself in the kitchen. “Urs and Nat have gone off horse riding; Sebastien and Reba have gone for a walk. Sebastien had a very serious look on his face. You didn’t give him another little push by any chance did you?”
Tracey smiled to herself. “Maybe.”
“Just as I left Carlos was heading out with Darrel and Simon and Gillian and Sue.” David paused bringing over the sandwiches and tea on a tray and placed them on Tracey’s lap.

Sebastien had indeed taken Reba for a walk. Tracey had given him the courage to talk to Reba about a family, their family. As they walked he told her of his desire to have children and not just one or two but maybe six or seven.
Reba Laughed. “And who is going to have all these children my sweet Prince?”
Sebastien was horrified, thinking he had done and said the wrong thing. “No Cherie, this is only if you want to have children. I will be happy with how ever many you want.”
“Well how about we see how we go with the one I am carrying and take it from there.”
Sebastien almost fell over his own feet he stopped so fast. He just looked at Reba bewildered. “D’enfant? You’re pregnant. But how?”
“Well Seb if you don’t know how we need to have a major talk.”
Sebastien blushed a little. “I mean we took precautions.” He grabbed Reba and hugged her. “We are going to have a baby. How long have you known?”
“Three weeks, I was so worried. You never talked about children. I didn’t know how to tell you and with Tracey being so ill. I wasn’t sure if this was the right time.”
Sebastien was amazed. “You have not talked to Tracey about this?”
“No Seb. I have not told a soul why?”
“Just this morning she told me that when our first child was born to give it a good strong name.”
“So I take it you are happy we are having our first child.”
To show how happy he was Sebastien howled, loudly.
Off in the distance Tracey heard that howl and smiled.
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PostSubject: chapter 36   Thu May 28, 2009 6:08 am

Chapter 36
Hearing the howl, David smiled at Tracey. “You did give him a little push. What I want to know is about what?”
“I think Capt’n Jack just found out he is going to have a little pirate to care for in about 8 months.”
David’s eyes grew wide and the smile exploded from his face. “Are you serious, a baby, a little Sebbie baby.”
“Well I think Reba had a little to do with it as well you know.”
David hugged his wife and then he too howled. Tracey had to laugh, she so loved to see him this happy.
“With news like this Sebastien is never going to be able to keep it a secret. Do you think you could manage a trip to the guest house for dinner?”
“In your arms dear Merlin I can travel anywhere.”
These days Tracey’s words were literal. They had both been surprised at how fast her legs had become weak expecting it to be her arms as she had always struggled to keep the strength in them. David did carry her, they used the jeep to get back to the guest house. The others were sat at the table as David walked in with Tracey in his arms and the room fell silent, the smiles on their faces disappeared. Even before David put her down in a chair Tracey knew she had to get them to relax. “Oh don’t look at me like that. So my legs don’t work so good. Just means I get to be carried everywhere by the most wonderful man in the world.” She gave David a kiss before he sat her down.
Hayden left his own seat and came over kiss his mother. “Yeah and I bet D has no need to go to the gym anymore.” His words seemed to lighten the mood and everyone laughed.
Sue and Simon brought the beginnings of their meal out from the kitchen. All through dinner Sebastien was like a cat on a hot tin roof and Urs could take it no longer. Just before dessert he asked what everyone else was thinking. “For heavens sake Sebastien what ever it is will you spit it out. You are giving me indigestion.”
The grin that appeared on Sebastien’s face was priceless; He took hold of Reba’s hand. “We are going to have a baby.”
Everyone sat in amazed silence until Nat, Gillian and Sue raced over to Reba to congratulate her, making a fuss as only females can.
As Simon was the closet to Sebastien he shook his hand. “You kept that secret well mate.”
David smiled as he heard Sebastien’s response. “Actually I didn’t. Reba kept it very quiet. I only found out this afternoon.”
Urs, David and Carlos gathered around him, patting him on the back and shaking his hand.
“A bambino. What joy my friend. This calls for a celebration.” Carlos was so happy for his friend. “We need champagne.”
Sue was already headed for the kitchen. “I have just the thing.”
Tracey sat at the table watching them all make a fuss of the parents to be. Hayden glanced over and came to sit with her. “You knew didn’t you? But how?”
Tracey squeezed his hand. “Magic.”
“I love you Mum, Have I told you lately.”
Tracey did not reply just tussled his hair and blinked back her tears. She was going to miss him.
They were a very merry little group by the time Sue and Simon had decided they needed to call it a night. They congratulated Reba and Sebastien once more before they left. Their departure spurred the others to make their way to their own rooms leaving David, Tracey, Sebastien and Reba. Sebastien sat next to Tracey on the sofa. “Tracey, you knew this morning when we talked didn’t? How. Reba said nothing.”
Tracey looked over at Reba. “You just need to know what to look for. Do you feel better now that he knows Reba?”
“Oh yes. He will make a wonderful father.”
Sebastien teased David. “And David will make a great uncle.”
David smiled. “An Uncle to little Sebbie I like that.”
Sebastien kissed Tracey on the cheek. “We shall say good night.”
Reba came over and gave Tracey a kiss as well. “Thank you for his little push. I am very happy now.”
Tracey rested in David arms as they sat together in the silence for a while. It had been a good day; there was a new life on the way. After a while David noticed that Tracey had fallen asleep. He picked her up in his arms and took her out to the jeep. As he placed her in the seat she spoke part asleep, part awake. “Thank you Merlin.”
David kissed her, not saying a word.
At the cottage he did the reverse. Taking her out of the jeep and putting her onto the bed. This time she did not wake, so David tucked her in before he got himself ready for bed. It had been along day and he was very tired. Sensing that he was near Tracey moved to cuddle up against his body, David in return placed his arm under her head, a small tear escaping as he wondered how many more times like this they would have.
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PostSubject: chapter 37   Thu May 28, 2009 6:09 am

Chapter 37
The next few weeks were spent in horse riding, and fishing and quad bike races and Sebastien having turned into an over protective husband to the point were Reba was ready to ship him back to England. It was very cute to see. Tracey did not get out much, she spent a lot of the time sleeping these days. In a curious way she felt like her batteries were powering down. A side effect had been that the pain was not as intense anymore. She was more comfortable, Not able to walk very far and having to hold onto the furniture if she did try to move. Sometimes she was just too weak and David would have to carry her. She had made peace with the fact that she was going to die and this thought did not bother her anymore. What did worry her was how David, how Hayden, how the others would cope went it happened. She had tried to prepare them for it and if she could have been certain when it was going to happen she would have gone to a hospital. At times over the past few years she had been able to have some very deep conversations with them all about her health and her death. It had been hard at first but they had each other and she knew that they did bring the subject up from time to time.
This morning she sat outside her cottage waiting for David to bring back a horse. She had wanted to go riding so David had decided that he would take her, both of them on the one horse. Tracey liked that idea, so very close and romantic. She smiled as she saw him riding down the path. He looked so natural and if being on the back of a horse could make him look taller then it did. He was indeed a handsome man and Tracey never got tired of drinking in his beauty.
David dismounted and helped Tracey on to the horse, getting back up behind her and taking the reins. They took a slow peaceful walk down many of the tracks that snaked their way through the property. The day was perfect, the sun shone and yet there was a gentle breeze to stop it from becoming uncomfortable.
On a few occasions David had just let the horse wander where it desired while he hugged Tracey. The animal seeming to sense that this was a special time.
They had been gone for a number of hours when David thought it maybe time for them to go back.
“Think it was time we headed back, don’t you.”
“I suppose. This has been lovely day but I am very tired. I guess you are right.”
David turned the horse towards home and they rode in silence for a while.
Tracey took hold of one of his hands while he guided the horse with the reins. “I love you very much my sweet Merlin.”
David bent down and kissed her on the top of the head. “And I love you Ace. I always will.”
Again they rode in silence as Tracey fell asleep in David’s arms.
Not to far from the cottage David sensed that something was not right. He pulled the horse to a stop and as he did Tracey’s hand slipped from his and her arm gently fell to her side.
“Hey sleepy head. Wake up, you’re getting heavy.”
David got no response so he shook Tracey a little. Still nothing. As she was sitting in front of him, he could not see her face so he moved himself and Tracey in such a way that he could. He went pale and shook her again. “Tracey, wake up baby.”
Again nothing. The realisation of his situation hit like a bolt of lightening but he did not want to acknowledge it. He pulled Tracey from the horse, falling to the ground and cradling her in his arms. He washed the hair way from her face. “Not now, not like this. You can’t go like this. Oh God Tracey.”
David pulled her to his chest and began to rock as the avalanche of tears broke free and the sound that echoed from his depths as he wailed was full of pain, anguish and hurt. He heard that sound flow over his lips as his soul was torn and his heart was shattered. He had only heard a similar sound once before. That night so long ago when Tracey had cradled Urs in her arms.
“Please dear God please not now.” David cried to Heaven. “I want her back. I want her back…” His words drifted off as he wailed and then moaned and then sobbed. His big wide shoulders rumbling with each new cry he made. And still he held Tracey to him unwilling to let her go.
David had no idea how long he had been there but the horse was gone. He knew he could not stay where he was, he had to get back to the cottage at least put Tracey to bed so she was comfortable.
He struggled to his feet and carried her down the path. Unbeknown to him the horse had turned up at the stables just as Urs and Nat came back from their own ride. Urs pulled the horse into the stable and looked it over. “Seems to be ok. This was the one David took.” He handed Nat the reins. “Can you look after them, I want to go and check make sure everything is ok.”
Nat was worried “Cowboy.”
Urs kissed her. “I am sure everything is ok. Knowing David he probably did not tie it up properly. I’ll meet you back at the house.”
Urs drove one of the quad bikes to the cottage but found it empty. He was just about to head down the track when he saw David walking towards him with Tracey in his arms. His heart sank. David was crying and Tracey hung like a rag doll. Urs ran towards his friend as he got closer it was as if David lost the last ounce of his strength and his knees began to buckle. Urs Caught hold of Tracey as David sank to the ground. He looked at Urs. “She’s gone. Urs she’s dead. She just went to sleep she…. Oh God Urs what am I going to do.”
David cried even more. Urs had no words for him, he had no idea what any of them would do. He went to take Tracey from David but he refused. Getting to his feet David carried her all the way to the cottage. Urs walked by his friend’s side unable to comprehend was he was seeing. His own heart ached and his own tears welled up in his eyes. He pulled his pager from his belt and sent out a message that would have the whole family at the cottage with in minutes.
David took Tracey to the bedroom but was unable to release her. He sat on the bed and again rocked while he cradled her.

Urs was standing at the front door when the first to arrive were Nat, Reba and Sebastien. One look at Urs and they knew something was wrong. Reba squeezed Sebastien’s arm. “ Dear Lord. No.”
Sebastien looked from Reba to Urs and he understood. His words choked in his throat and he was unable to speak.
Nat had reached Urs by now. “What is it Urs. Is Tracey sick?”
Urs could not say anything he hoped that Nat would understand as his tears fell.
She looked into his deep, deep eyes and the shock sent her reeling. “No… No…NO!!!” She went to fight past Urs but he stopped her, holding her while she struggled. “Let me go.!!!!” Urs held her until she collapsed into his arms crying uncontrollably. He held her tight fearing he would be washed away in his own grief.
Sebastien was holding Reba as they walked toward the cottage. “David.”
Urs just shook his head and pointed inside.
Carlos and Gillian arrived with Hayden. As soon as they saw the others they understood. Hayden ran down the path, Urs moving out of the way so he could get inside.
They all heard his cry, it was too much for them all to bear.
David put his arm around Hayden’s shoulders and the two men wept over Tracey. “Were you with her David?”
David could only nod. Hayden dried his tears. “Thank you. I never wanted her to die alone.”
David was unable to speak he just pulled Hayden towards him and their heads touched.
“You want some help putting her to bed?”
With Hayden’s help David got Tracey into bed. She really did look like she was just sleeping.”

Outside Sue and Simon came upon the others all sat on the front steps of the cottage each couple trying to console each other. Sue grabbed Simon’s hand. “She’s gone Simon.”
Simon put his arm around his wife. “We always knew this day would come. Damn it, it still hurts.”
Urs Stood up. “David… David. Carried her back. She….” He never finished.
Sue hugged him. “He inside?”
Urs nodded “So is Hayden”
“Ok. You guys go back to the guest house with Simon.”
Urs went to protest but she stopped him. “For me. Gather the others ok.”
Sue turned to her husband. “You’ll need to call the doc. Tell him to bring a bucket load of sedatives with him.”
Nat protested about going back but Sue persuaded her that it was for the best. They needed to help David right now, so Sue watched them all head back to the guest house. Taking a beep breath she entered the cottage.
She found David sat in the corner of the bedroom, head on his knees. She could see his body quiver as he cried. Hayden was sat at the side of the bed holding his mothers hand. He looked at Sue with big questioning eyes the pain in his voice was heart wrenching. “She’s gone.”
Sue was finding it hard to hold back her own tears as she pulled Hayden to his feet. “I know baby.” She could not say anymore just hugged him.
Hayden dried his eyes and looked down at David. “We need to help him Sue.”
Sue bent down in front of David and placed her hands over his own. “David, David…Merlin.”
At the sound of his nick name he lifted his head and Sue almost lost her own strength, he was so despondent, it was so very, very heart breaking to see.
“Come on Dave.”
Without a word David stood and Sue guided him to the door, gently pulling Hayden by the hand as well.
“Hayden, Take him back to the house. I’ll look after your mum until the doctor gets here.”
Neither man spoke, walking back to the house in a numbed cacoon of unbelief.
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PostSubject: chapter 38   Thu May 28, 2009 6:10 am

Chapter 38
The next few days were a blur to David and to the rest of them as well. Ever efficient as she was Tracey had organised her own passing, made all the arrangements even the permission for her to be buried on the property. She had made Sue promise not to open the letter until it was time. Now Sue sat at the table with the others, holding David’s hand as she read Tracey’s instructions.
“ My sweet, sweet adopted family. I am so sorry that you are sad. Writing this I do not know when or how I shall have to leave you but I do know you are all now back home and most likely sitting around that big wonderful table where we had so much fun.”
This brought a few small smiles to their faces.
“I know it is hard but I want you to remember those times. You guys had a song you sang and one of the lines says, I don’t want to change the world. Well you changed my world. I have had such a wonderful life since you all showed up. You gave me more than I could possibly imagine or have every dreamed for.
You showed me what it was like to live again. I know if you had not entered my life I would have continued to be totally absorbed in my work until I could no longer cope and my life would have been so much shorter. But I found out that I could live and be happy.
David, my sweet, sweet Merlin.”
David smiled a little.
“I remember the day you got your nick name. That little pout. But you have truly been my Merlin. You put the magic into life. You loved me even when I tried to push you away knowing someday I would have to leave you. But my precious David you have been so much more to me. You have been my knight, my lover, my friend, my guardian angel, my prince, my strength and my champion. I asked God to send me someone who was excellent and he sent me someone who was perfect.”
David’s tears flowed again and as he dropped his head Urs squeezed his shoulders. Everyone had tears in their eyes.
Sue continued. “I had such a wonderful life with you David, more than I could have ever hoped for. I am so sorry that now I have made you sad. Made you all sad but please don’t be sad for too long. Don’t weep for me. I want you all to go and live life, take chances, go on adventures.
Hayden. What can I say but that you have grown into an amazing young man. You have made me very proud to be your mother. I know if you continue to follow your dreams you will have a fulfilling life. I know I was probably not the usual or traditional mother but I hope that you know I love you very, very much.”
Hayden wiped the tears from his face. “I know mum. I always have.”

Sue took a deep breath as she continued to read. “Cowboy. Sweet, quiet, deep thinking charmer. You certainly gave me a bit of a scare the first time we met. But look at you know. You’ve tamed a Tassie Devil no less.”
Urs hugged Nat at those words.
“In a way I need to thank you for getting so ill back then. If not for you, David and I would have never met. I am glad that you found that you could be yourself around me. Your real self, it has been an honour to be called your friend.”
Urs buried his head in his hands and Nat pulled him close so he could rest on her shoulder.
“Dear Jack, Capt’n Jack. How that suits you, you always did remind me of Errol Flynn. Did I ever tell you that?”
Sebastien shook his head.
“You and Reba have been so good to me, just seeing the way you look after her, those little things you do for her when you think no one is watching. The little gifts in her suitcase, the poems you would e mail. Sebbie thank you for being the man you are. Never loose that youthful optimism and wonder.
Papa Smurf. Now Carlos don’t sulk. You know we love you very much. I need you to be strong for me, for the others. Be that father figure they will need for a while.”
Carlos had no idea when Tracey had written the letter Sue was now reading but he did remember their talk.
“I have always admired your strength, you passion and your devotion to Gillian. Do not be sad or angry Carlos. My life was much better for knowing you.
My dear sweet Nat. You are the craziest person I have ever met and I thank you for it. You kept me sane at times when I thought that was impossible and then again drove me insane at other times. But your energy always surrounded me and I knew I could count on you to make me smile and laugh. Once you have finished being mad at me for leaving go and do something crazy just for me ok. I’ll be watching.

Rene and Gillian. Thank you for allowing me to be part of the sisterhood, it has been very special, you are both very special women, so elegant and poised. Something this little Aussie bird was never able to pull off.”
Both Reba and Gillian shook their heads.
“I just want to say thank you for being my friends.”
Sue took a deep breath and looked at them all. “She has something to say to Simon and myself but you don’t need to hear it.” Then she looked at David, handing him an envelope. “Tracey said to give this to you.”
David took it and opened it. A single dried rose petal fell out as he pulled the letter out, it was a poem. David read the first few lines aloud but could not continue, letting the paper fall to the table. Urs picked it up. “Do you want me to read it David?”
David nodded and Urs began to read the poem as David held the single petal in his hands.


A SINGLE PETAL
A single petal from a single rose
Is all that remains in memory of the time we had.
A single jewel,
Holding onto the past.
Wishing time had stood still,
Wanting to be at your side once more.
Hold your hand,
See you smile,
Hear you laugh,
Catch your tears,
Be consumed by the miracle that is your life.
To be veiled by your passion,
Engulfed by your love
And travel through life on the wings of your tenderness.
Eternity is but a moment in time that will last forever,
And forever I shall remember what we had,
Forever I will carry the gift you gave.
That gift was you.
Do not grieve at my passing,
Because of you I lived.
You were the magic that held me.
You will always be my Merlin.

(I will love you forever David. Tracey)

Urs was choking back tears as he finished, looking around the table everyone was crying, including Sue and they had joined hands. Tracey had touched their hearts. Urs looked at the petal in David’s hand. “I thought you always sent her daffodils?”
In a quiet voice David spoke as he gently glided his finger over the petal. “This was from the very first flowers I ever sent her. The only roses I ever sent her.”
This knowledge seemed to send the girls into a deeper grief. Sue needed to finish what Tracey had to say.
“There’s just a little bit more ok.” She continued. “I know you all think you want to say good bye so I have asked Sue and Simon to organise a small gathering for just us. But I rather you all get drunk.”
This announcement shocked them. But Carlos smiled. “Good idea Tracey. We shall lift a glass to celebrate your life.”
Sue put the letter back in the folder. “That’s about all. I have organised with the pastor of the local church to come out and do a little ceremony tomorrow where she wants to be buried if that is ok with you.”
Everyone nodded.
No one really knowing what to do next they all sort of drifted off in pairs. Leaving Sue, Simon, Hayden and David at the table. David folded the poem and returned it and the petal to the envelope and put it in his pocket.
Simon had remained silent through the whole proceedings, trying to be stoic. “How you holding up David?”
“She never wrote me a poem before. I had no idea she could write such beautiful words.” He looked at them both as the pain shadowed his face and he began to cry again. “I can’t breathe without her.” He dropped his hands and his head onto the table and sobbed.
“D, I think it is time we all had a bit of a rest.” Hayden stood by David waiting.
Sue spoke. “He’s right David. I’ll call you all when I have tea ready.”
Hayden took David up stairs to the room that would have been his and Tracey’s if they had not elected to stay at the cottage.
David sat on the end of the bed and Hayden handed two small pills and a glass of water. “Help you get some sleep.”
David did not argue just swallowing the pills. “She was an amazing woman.”
Hayden smiled weakly. “Yes she was D, Yes she was.”
Hayden return to his own room, taking his own pills, curled up on the bed and cried until they took effect and he fell asleep.
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PostSubject: chapter 39   Thu May 28, 2009 6:11 am

Chapter 39
Standing at the grave site David thought to himself that it was a Tracey kind of day. Sun was out; the sky was that particular colour blue that she liked and a gentle breeze to keep the temperature in check. Yes she would have approved of this day. David could not remember much of what the preacher had said, he was numb, thinking that he had cried so much over the past few days that there were no more tears. The others got up to say their good byes but again he could not really remember what was said. That is until Hayden began. “I don’t have the words so I want to play this song.” He pulled a small recorder out of his pocket. The music began and not only did David crumble but it affected the others. Hayden had picked one of Il Divo’s songs to say his good bye. He had picked ‘Mama’.
Once the service was over David just stood looking down at the coffin as it was ready to be lowered into the ground. He placed a single daffodil on the top. “I Love you Ace.”

As they walked back to the guest house David asked Sue where Darrel was. She tucked her arm round David’s. “He finds it hard to deal with this sort of thing. Doesn’t know what to say to people so he takes off. He won’t be far away but he loved Tracey very much, you know that?”
David squeezed Sue’s hand. “Yes I do.”
“Seems a lot of people loved her.”
David gave Sue a questioning look.
“I have had quite a number of e mails from people wanting to know if they can come to pay their respects. Seems the news travelled fast. I think Tracey had an idea this may happen. She’s planned everything down to the last detail I just have to implement it if need be.”
David was curious. “How many e mails Sue?”
“So far over a hundred. And Reba says the web site is full of condolences and offers of help.”
Again David squeezed her hand. “After all these years and we still have fans like that. When we got married. ..” David stifled a cry. “We were worried that it would hurt the fan base but most of them seemed to be genuinely happy for us.”
“As they are genuinely grieving with you now. David this memorial service, it is up to you. If you don’t want it just say so.”
“I suppose it would not be right to stop others from paying their respects but I can’t deal with it. Where are we going to have it?”
“Here on the west paddock just passed the dam. That way we can control who comes and goes. If you want to go ahead with it leave it up to me ok. But David. You need to be here. You can’t leave yet.”
David looked at her shocked.
They stopped walking and Sue took hold of both his hands. “I know it is hard for you to be here without her baby, I understand, but you need to stay for two reasons. For the memorial service and for your friends. I know you just want to get on the first plane out of here but they will feel like you have abandoned them.”
“But I can’t do anything for them Sue. I can’t.”
“Yes you can. Be here for them. Just for a little while. Promise me this.”
Again David’s tears fell but he nodded his promise. In reality he wanted so much to just run as far away from the property as he could. He and Tracey had spent so many happy times here it just hurt. He wasn’t sure that when he did leave if he would ever be able to come back.

The others had gone back into the guesthouse and this had been David’s intention but once he got to the steps he changed his mind, he could not bear to see he friends in so much pain, and he didn’t know what to tell them. The love of his life was gone and he felt like a part of him had been taken. There was an empty space that only Tracey could fill and it hurt so much. He continued to walk and walk, finding himself at the same billabong where Sue had told him Tracey was dying. David stood gazing into the water. “Why now Tracey? I need you so much, we were made for each other, we fit so well together.” He began to pace up and down the shore of the billabong. “I know you warned me, in so many ways you warned me this time would come and it would hurt. Oh God Ace I can’t so this without you.” David sunk to his knees, letting his arms fall limp at his sides and with his head bowed let out a soul wrenching, heart breaking, almost inhuman cry. It consumed him and it wanted to be released. It seemed that he was only breathing to give his cries life; he bent his head back and wailed to the sky as they tore at his chest every time they fought to be heard.
Some of the shine and sparkle left David’s eyes that day never to return. His companions saw the light disappear and worried for him. They had busied themselves helping with the preparations for the memorial service, Darrel had returned but would not speak of Tracey and each morning David would be up and gone before the others even woke. The first few days they thought he may have gone back to the cottage but there was never any sign and Baby Girl seemed to have decided to stay by his side now that Tracey was gone and the cat never left the guest house. She did however always seem to know when he was coming back. She would be waiting on the front steps for him. It seemed that David had shut down. He would not talk; there was no emotion, nothing. The only hint that their David was still in there somewhere was the interaction between him and the cat. He would greet her and ruffle her fur and even make sure she was fed. He would even allow her to sit on his lap and he would tenderly scratch her ears just how she liked but he did little else.
There were only a few more days to go until the memorial service and they all wondered just how David was going to cope.
As David sat on the front step with Baby Girl in his lap Carlos came to sit with him. He had done this each night, never saying anything just sitting but tonight would be different. “David my friend, Please talk to us about how you feel. Let us help you; we all miss her as well. We cannot bear your silence my friend it hurts so very, very much.”
David sighed and uttered the first words he had spoken in over a week repeating what he had said to Simon. “I can’t breathe Carlos.”
Carlos bit his lip before answering. “Then let us breathe for you. Come inside, have a meal with us, for Tracey.”
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PostSubject: chapter 40   Thu May 28, 2009 6:12 am

Chapter 40
People had begun to arrive for the memorial service as David watched the procession from the privacy of the guest house. There were so many people and the sound of a helicopter flying over head, not the first one to arrive for the day. David recognised some faces from his dealings with Coleman Enterprises, some faces from the music industry, even Jarrod West had made the trip but there were so many that he did not know. All in all there would be 300 people at the service. And as many again had sent condolences as they were unable to attend. David did not have it in him to mingle and make small talk before the service started so he had decided to wait until everyone else had made it to the site. Urs, Sebastien and Carlos waited with him. They would do this together as they had done so many other things together. As they waited together, if it had been any other time they could have been waiting to go on stage, but their faces told a different story. Urs had been watching the parade of people and noticed that many of the faces also belonged to people in the pictures hung through the guest house. Tracey had indeed touched many people in her too short a life.
He looked skyward as he heard the sound of another helicopter but this one was different, had a different sound to it. It was military; he knew it would be carrying Jimmy and a few of his golfing buddies. Soon it would be time for them to make their way to the service. Urs patted David on the shoulder. “Ok David lets do this for Tracey. Show the world how much we love her.”
The four men walked down the path, past the cottage, around the dam and onto the great open space that Sue called the west paddock. Large marques had been set up to shelter people from the sun and the chairs arranged in such a way that they could enter from the back and not be seen. Normally family would sit to the front but they did not feel like they wanted or needed too. So the four men took up their seats in the back row. Reba, Nat and Gillian had played host along with Sue and Hayden and deflected many of the questions about David and Tracey and indeed why he was not present. Why none of them were present. David looked around and his eyes fell on the section of the marque that seemed to be full of people dressed in uniform. So many uniforms. Just as he was thinking this he was tapped lightly on the shoulder. David turned to see who it was. Standing behind him was Jimmy. He stood to shake his hand and Jimmy smiled wearily. “The fellas just wanted me to say how sorry they are. She was a good sort was Trace. All I can say is you are the best thing that ever happened to her.”
David just nodded and Jimmy shook his hand again and left.
The service started and again David was lost in his own thoughts and never really heard very much of what was said. In later years as his friends recalled the day from time to time he would be able to put all the pieces together and know that so many people had been touched by his one true love.
But for now, David drifted in and out of his thoughts coming to the surface to hear one of the songs that Tracey had requested be played and be played for the five special men in her life. The preacher spoke a few words that Tracey had asked. “This is for Hayden, Carlos, Sebastien, Urs and my ever beloved David. I want you to be taller, stronger and better. I want you to go on living and do amazing things.” The preacher nodded to his assistant and the song began to play. It was Taller, Stronger, Better by Guy Sebastien.
The words hit them hard and it was all that these men could do to keep themselves composed. Sue warped her arms around Hayden, Reba, Nat and Gillian left their seats at the front and joined their men at the back of the marque. Reba but herself between Sebastien and David and held both of them and Nat put herself between Urs and David and held both of them. As the song ended everyone seemed to relax just a little but then Jimmy got up to speak.
“Ladies and Gentleman. I worked with Tracey for many years, so did most of the officer you see here today and we would like to give her a small tribute. It was because of her strength and courage that many of these men are alive today. She was an inspiration, she was tough, did not like injustice and to her credit dedicated her life to helping people” Jimmy finished and a lone officer in full dress uniform stood in front of the crowd. All the other officers stood in their seats and saluted. The lone Officer played the Last Post and there was not another sound made for the duration of the song. , No birds sang, no one coughed, no one moved, it was stunning and it broke David’s heart.
Once the song had finished every single officer turned to the back of the marque and saluted to the four members of Il Divo.
None of them could really remember the rest of the service it was like walking in a fog. Every now and then you could see something but it would disappear again. David remembered shaking so many hands and pretending that he cared how these people felt. He smiled politely and wished he was somewhere else. Looking around he could see his friends doing the same thing. Nat tucked herself under David’s arm as he was talking to yet another person. She smiled her sweetest smile and interrupted. “Do you mind if I steal David away for a minute?” She did not wait for an answer just pulled him behind her. “Come on, we are getting out of here.”
David complied and followed in silence, seeing this, the others broke away from their own little groups and they all walked back to the guest house together.
Once inside they stood just looking at the large table they had gathered around so many times before. It was covered in food and Darrel was standing over near the fire place with a glass in his hand.
“About time you lot showed up. I don’t expect you to understand but this is my way of letting Tracey know I will never forget her. I’d like you to join me.”
David was the first to walk over to the table. He smiled as he saw the daffodils neatly lying in a long line down the middle surround by all of Tracey’s favourite food. Tim Tams and columbines, macadamia nuts, pecan pie, spicy chicken wings, Darrel had even made some of her favourite sandwiches. Peanut butter and banana as well as curried egg, no doubt with the dash of Tabasco sauce she liked so much. There were also blueberry muffins, bonoufie pie, caramel mud cake, hot chocolate, earl grey tea, fresh strawberries, and cherries. Many of the foods on the table Tracey had long given up eating only indulging on the rare occasion. David was happy that Darrel had found a way to say his good bye and even happier that he had known just what would have brought a smile to Tracey’s face.
“Thank you for inviting us Darrel, this means so much. Tracey would have loved this.” David shook Darrel’s hand.
“Oh she would have given me a right serve and a lecture about all the unhealthy food I put together.”
“But then she would have smiled and I know she would have eaten a Tim Tam at the very least.”
Darrel smiled and held up his glass. “I know Tracey did not like champagne very much but I would like you all to take a glass and toast her with me.”
The others walked over to the table and took up the glasses Darrel had already filled. “To the most amazing woman I have ever known. Cyclone Tracey.”
They all echoed his words and drank.
“I put a bottle of Tracey’s favourite drink in the fridge nice and cold just how she liked it if anyone is interested.”
Carlos raised his eyebrows as only he could. “Bit strong don’t you think?”
David was already heading for the kitchen. “I think we should toast her with her favourite don’t you.”
He was back in a moment with a bottle of very cold tequila and shot glasses in his hands.
“Down the hatch everyone. For Tracey.”
It seemed that David was the only one not coughing or trying to catch his breath. Urs stamped his foot on the floor and shook his head. “What happened to the salt and lemon?”
David smiled remembering what Tracey had told him the first time she had given him a shot. “She said it was a waist of resources. Spoilt the taste of a good tequila. More anyone?”
Most of them shook their heads and declined but Seabstein raised his glass. “Oh Hell why not.”
Reba gave him as stunned look. “Sebastien!!!”
He just shrugged his shoulders as David filled his glass. Just as he topped it up Carlos held his own glass out. “Well if you are up for it so am I amigo.”
Without a word Urs held out his glass. The girls just looked at each other and smiled. Nat spoke for them all. “Nothing doing fellas, you’re not leaving us behind.”
So all except Darrel had their second shot of tequila. David counted to three and they all drank. There was much coughing and spluttering and then a moment of silence, then they all laughed.
Without even knowing it Darrel had given this little group the tool they needed to take the next step. They spent the afternoon around the table eating Tracey’s favourite food, consuming Tequila, beer and red wine. However after her second shot of Tequila, Sebastien made Reba stick to the soft drinks.
They talked and amazingly laughed at stories of their times together since meeting Tracey. Darrel had a few they had not heard and it felt good to be able to talk about her without crying.

As the shadows of evening began to cover the house Sue and Simon joined them. They had spent the day hosting the wake but thankfully all the guests had now left. Not too long before Sue and Simon had joined the others they had heard the helicopters flying over. They had all looked up as they heard Jimmy’s helicopter pass over the house. David raised his glass. “Thanks Mate.”

Sue smiled as she saw her family, as she liked to think of them, sitting around the table. It could have been any normal day. “I think you will be needing some strong coffee very soon by the looks of things.”
Sebastien was rather drunk by this time. “Cherie. I think that coffee it is too late for me. I am drunk.”
David smirked. “I think we all are Jack.” He looked at Sue. “Coffee would be good.”
Sue headed for the kitchen and Simon sat at the table, picking up a few of the empty bottles. “You lot really did a number on these didn’t you.”
Urs went to stand and say something but then fell over his chair and landed on the floor. “I forgot what I was going to say.”
The others all laughed.
The only one missing was Hayden. David asked Simon.
“He’s gone for a ride David. I think he needed time to himself. He’ll be back.”
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PostSubject: chapter 41   Thu May 28, 2009 6:14 am

Chapter 41
It was close to midday before there was any stirring in the house. David rolled over in bed and found Baby Girl sleeping on the spare pillow. He had not wanted to go back to the cottage. As he moved to stroke the cat, his head reminded him of what he had consumed the day before. He vaguely remembered seeing several empty bottles of tequila and was hoping that someone other than himself had emptied them. However the pounding in his head and the ache at the back of his eyes suggested that he had drank a considerable amount of the beverage all by himself. He slowly sat on the edge of the bed with his eyes closed willing himself to stand. It was going to take more than a shower to help him feel any better.
Urs was in much worse condition than David. Not used to drinking tequila he had spent a good deal of the night in the bathroom with his head over the toilet. He had only just managed to get to sleep when Nat, far too happily announced it was time to get up. He was amazed at the amount of alcohol his wife could consume with no ill effects what so ever. He buried his head under the pillow. “Oh dear, you’re not feeling to well are you?”
All she got was a muffled grunt. “Come on then, have a shower and you’ll feel better.”
Again the grunt but he did stick his head out from under the pillow. “How can you be so cheery? You drank more than I did and you don’t even have a hang over.”
“Just lucky I guess. Tracey and I have that in common.” Nat bit her lip and a tear appeared in the corner of her eye. “Had in common.”
Urs sat up and hugged her. “It’s ok Nat.”
“She was right, I’m mad at her for leaving.” Nat took a deep breath, straightened her shoulders and stood. She was not going to break down, Tracey wouldn’t so Nat decided neither would she. “I’m having a shower, want to join me?” Urs found he was struggling with much the same side effects as David but he did join Nat in the shower, the water soothing away his aches and pains. But his heart ached when he saw Nat’s face. She was sobbing, he pulled her close and she wrapped her arms around his neck. ‘Oh God Urs, She’s really gone.”
Urs cradled his wife as she sank to the floor and her tears mingled with the water flowing over them. He could not say anything so he held her as she cried.

Carlos was already complaining about how he felt even before he opened his eyes and no amount of gentle persuasion from Gillian was going to get him out of bed. “No I am staying here until it all goes away.”
“But Carlos my sweet, it won’t go away unless you help it along some.”
Like Urs, Carlos grunted. Gillian lent over and kissed him and gave him the same offer that Nat had given Urs. Carlos squinted as he tried to look at her. “Shower, with my sweet. A medicine I think I would like.”
Slowly and with a good deal of groaning Carlos got out of bed and followed his wife into the bathroom. He was very pleased with the outcome.
Reba had been up for sometime but had elected to stay and watch Sebastien sleep rather than leave. She did not want to be alone and had no idea if anyone else was up or indeed in the house. Perched on the window sill she smiled as he slowly began to wake.
Sebastien’s eyes opened and as his gaze fell on his wife he smiled but a slipt second later the smile was replaced with a crumpled up face and a groan as he put his hands to his head and shut his eyes again. “Arrr, Pas mal. What did I do?”
Rene went to the bed and kissed him on the forehead. “You mixed Tequila with red wine and you ate the worm silly boy.”
Sebastien turned onto his side. “I feel horrible.”
With a cheeky look Reba replied. “You look worse.”
Sebastien looked at his wife hoping for some sympathy, he could see there was none in the offering. Sitting up he bowed his head. “Cyclone Tracey strikes again.”
Reba kissed him again. “That she did my hung over pirate.”
The females of the clan seemed to have fared much better than the males, even after they had showered and shaved it was a sight to see. Sue had been busy in the kitchen but Simon and Darrel were nowhere to be seen, They were still sleeping off yesterday. So the rest sat around the table, the men giving each other silent recognition of the pain they felt for each other and a little envious of their wives who seemed to be able to just shake off their hang overs, if they had ever had one to start with.
David’s voice croaked. “So who ate the worm then?”
Quietly and slowly Sebastien put up his hand.
“So did you eat both?”
Sebastien shot a look at David and then to his wife who was nodding her head.”
“I ate two worms? Oh my.”
David smiled . “Seems that way. We have three empty bottles and only one worm.”
Urs and Carlos laughed a little at a very despondent looking Sebastien. “Why didn’t someone stop me? I feel horrible.”
Urs spoke. “You seemed to be enjoying yourself.”
“I don’t even like tequila.”
Carlos patted him a little too hard on the back. “Could have fooled us”
Sue brought some food out for them and eventually they did eat, picking at little bits here and there but mostly they drank coffee, lots of coffee and lots of water and spent a lazy afternoon just talking. Sue had given them a few of the phone and e mail messages from the media all wanting a story. David had decided to let Coleman Enterprises own media department handle it with instructions that none of Il Divo or any of Tracey’s family or close friends were to be disturbed. If the press couldn’t live with that too bad. He felt it was too soon and there was enough archive information about Tracey for them to forage through. But it had stirred him into thinking it was time he went back to work, back to London. Il Divo would not be doing another tour for over twelve months so they could each concentrate on their own projects. David realised it would be the first time he would take the helm of Coleman Enterprises without Tracey. Admittedly she had not been so involved over the past years, but she had always been there to listen to him, to bounce things off, just to be there with a smile at the end of a long day. In his wildest dreams he never thought he would be the CEO of a multi million dollar company. But he was grateful to Tracey, she had found that hidden jewel within him and neutered it until it was fully formed. Not only was he a CEO but he had fulfilled his life’s dream of performing and signing. He had been lucky. Il Divo had given him so much including Tracey.
He smiled as he looked around the table. “I’m going to head back to London in a few days guys. Need to get back to the office. Anyone else got plans?”
Reba spoke. “We hoped to stop in to see my family in Sydney, tell them the news about the baby.”
Sebastien jumped in. “And then to Paris to tell my family.”
David had a big grin on his face. “That’s a brilliant idea.”
It was Urs’ turn. “Nat and I were thinking about going to check on the project we have going in Rwanda. We had planned on doing it after the tour anyway.”
David smiled. “Thanks guys but I can get someone else to check it out if you want.”
They both shook their heads but Nat replied. “No, I need to do this David.”
He did not need to say anything he understood completely.
“David if it is ok with you. Gillian and I would still like to check in on the orphanage in Madrid.” Carlos sighed. “We promised the children we would be back.”
“Tracey really knew what she was doing when she got us all involved didn’t she?”
No one spoke, it was true and all their lives had been better for it.
David stood. “Well better get myself sorted then, see if I can’t wrangle a lift to the airport via Jimmy’s sky taxi.” He wandered out of the guest house and over to Sue’s home to tell her he would be leaving. He found her and Hayden sitting on the steps.
Sue could see it in his eyes. “You’re leaving.”
David nodded. “In a few days. It’s time.”
“Hayden has been talking about the same thing.”
David looked at the young man. “You doing ok?”
Hayden nodded. “Mind if I hitch a ride back with you?”
“Sounds like a plan. I could do with the company on that long flight.”
David hugged Sue. “Thanks for everything Q.” and he walked off down the path. Both Sue and Hayden knew he was going to the cottage, maybe for the last time.

David stood outside the cottage for a long time before he finally went in. He stood in the lounge room with his eyes closed. Listening, feeling, letting the room speak to him. Tracey’s presence was all around him. It was as if she was covering him like a blanket. He could smell her fragrance, with his eyes closed he felt he could just reach out and touch her, expecting to feel her warm lips on his, her gentle touch as she brushed her hands through his hair. David stood so very still just drinking in all he could of her even if he came back to the property he would never come back to the cottage.
As he was about to leave he noticed the small statue on the coffee table. It was the gift that Tracey had given him on their last anniversary. It was a small silver statue of Merlin. David picked it up, put it in his pocket and closed the door.
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PostSubject: chapter 42   Thu May 28, 2009 6:14 am

Chapter 42
The six months after Tracey’s passing had been the hardest for David and he suspected for the others as well. Once people stopped asking him how he was things seemed to get better. But he still caught himself going to do little things and having to stop. Like thinking it had been a while since he had sent Tracey any flowers and he would be halfway through phoning the florist before he would remember.
Going to call her for advice or opinion about something or other and only when he got the recorded message to say the phone number was not available would he realise what he had done.
Even watching TV and turning to talk to her and finding he was alone.
Even when they had been discussing another Il Divo tour he had made mention he would have to check with Tracey first.
He felt a little uncomfortable knowing he had said it out loud to his friends. Nat smiled at him from across the table. “I talk to her all the time David.”
Urs coughed. “Me to.”
Sebastien and Carlos both put up their hands. “Me to.”
In Silence Reba and Gillian did the same.
It warmed David’s heart to know that Tracey was still a part of their lives after all this time. “That means a lot to me guys. So this tour, you think she would approve of what we are going to do?”
Nat laughed. “She’d pay us out for trying to make a fuss about her. You know what she was like but then let us do it because she would know so many people would benefit.”
They all agreed.
David’s voice was light and happy. “So the official name for the tour will be Il Divo. The Tracey Coleman Benefit Tour. I guess we better hire some studio time and get rehearsing.” David looked at Sebastien. “Has that darling daughter of yours inspired you to write any songs?”
Sebastien beamed, every time he got a chance to talk about his daughter his whole face lit up, he couldn’t help it. “Indeed. My precious little Nicole has done just that.”
Urs slapped Sebastien on the back. “Are you ever going to wipe that silly grin off your face?”
Again Sebastien grinned and they all laughed. “Never. I am very happy to be a Papa. You’ll see when your time comes Urs; you’ll have a silly grin on your face as well you’ll be so happy.”
David caught the sheepish grin on Nat’s face as she tried to hide it. “Oh my Nat, really.”
Nat shot David a look as the others looked on confused. She nodded and lent over to whisper in Urs’ ear.
Sebastien almost knocked everything off the table as he jumped up and pointed to Urs. “See there’s that look. You’re going to be a papa Urs.”
This time it was Urs with a beaming smile across his face as he hugged Nat and the others all got up to congratulate them both.
Of course the girls wanted to know all the details how far along was she? when was the baby due? How long did she plan on keeping it a secret? There was laughter and tears. By the time they all sat down again they were already planning the nursery. The girls sat together, it was as if the guys had become invisible as they chatted about what they could do, the baby shower, the shopping. Reba offered to pass down some of Nicole’s clothes if they had a girl.
They guys just sat, listened and watched, every now and then pushing Urs playfully. This was indeed good news. “So Urs, how do you think you will cope with another Tassie Devil in your life?” David poked him in the arm.
Urs shook his head. “If this child is anything like its mother I am going to be permanently exhausted.”
The other three all laughed.
So the plans for the next tour included provisions for children and pregnant wives.
David sat back in his chair and thought about his life. Tracey would have been over the moon hearing the news. Suddenly David remembered something. “Hey guys, we have such good news but we forgot something.”
They all looked at him for a moment in silence not understanding. So he repeated himself. “Good news guys, remember.”
At once they all understood what he was going on about and in unison they howled. Loud and long they howled.
Yes, definitely, Tracey would have loved it.
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PostSubject: chapter 43 The end   Thu May 28, 2009 6:16 am

Chapter 43
Nat was very pregnant towards the end of the tour and feeling every day of the last few months. Apart from the seemingly endless trips to the little girl’s room and the back ache her pregnancy had gone without any trouble. They had hired a nurse to help with little Nicole and be there if Nat needed any assistance. But apart from her normal neo natal checks ups the nurse was out of a job.
The Tour had been good for them all. Back on stage singing together once again, they knew each other so well and performed so well together, it was like magic. No matter what they did on their own being a group again seemed to lift them to places of excellence they would never have dreamed they could attain. The four of them loved performing in front of a live audience and Il Divo audiences were more than willing to be carried along on the magical ride that they took them on.
It was on one of these nights that Nat realised her little bundle wanted out. She was sitting off stage watching the concert as she felt the contractions. She had been getting little pains through most of the day but had not thought much about it. She still had three weeks to go, however this last one was well and truly a contraction. As her husband sang the last song for the night she called for the nurse. “I don’t think we can wait for the end of the concert.”
Without a word they began to leave. It was only that Reba had turned around to see how Nat was doing she saw them leave. Running after her friend. “Nat. It’s time? Do you want us to come with you?”
Nat grabbed hold of Reba’s hand as another contraction hit. “No . Just get Urs to the hospital ok. And no spoiling the surprise.”
“No worries kiddo. We’ve kept it a secret for 8 months. No blowing it now.”
Urs was a bundle of nerves as he entered the deliver room. Everyone else was milling around outside. They had come straight off stage and Reba and Gillian had practically man handled the men into the cars. So they all stood waiting as Urs went to his wife to be at the delivery of their first child.
Thankfully for Nat her labour was not to long, three hours before the head of the baby began to crown. Urs was ecstatic. Even through the pain Nat had to smile.
When the nurse handed Urs his Son he melted and that silly grin appeared on his face.
Nat looked over at him. “I wouldn’t get to comfortable with him just yet Daddy.”
Just as Urs looked at her she went into another contraction and the doctors helped Nat deliver their second child, a girl.
Urs was dumbfounded. He had no idea what to do. He looked from Nat to the baby in his arms to the baby that was now in the nurse’s arms and shocked the life out of everyone in the delivery ward except Nat as he howled. A long strong Tassie Devil howl. When Nat joined him the doctor had no idea what was going on.
Outside in the waiting area the others heard Urs and smiled. “Guess he likes being a dad.” David sent out one of his big booming laughs.
Both Reba and Gillian smiled at each other. It was Reba who let them in on their little secret. “Hey Fellas. That’s not all. He’s a dad twice over. Nat’s been carrying twins.”
David, Sebastien and Carlos looked at each other. There was only one thing they could do. They HOWLED.

The end
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