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 Jenny's Justice

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Join date : 2009-04-03

PostSubject: Jenny's Justice   Sat Nov 13, 2010 4:06 am

Not an Il Divo story but you can replace the main character with the Divo of your choice if you like.

Jenny's Justice
Jenny, astride a beautiful Rhone gelding looked across the land she loved so much, Stretched as far as the eye could see was the dust swirled outback plains that she called home. At first glance the only hint of life was the ageless gum trees sparsely dotted along the horizon but to an outback born and bred girl like Jenny, the land was teeming with life.
She sighed, smiled to herself with a twinkle in her eye that could have been tears – but there was no time for tears. She sat daydreaming, her long brown hair wisped gently under a battered Akubra. Below, her blue cattle dog, Gully played between the horses legs. Not barking, just bounding in and out and around. Undaunted the horse stood calmly bearing its mistress.
Jenny’s trance was broken as the noise of cattle sifted through her daydream. Taking one last look at the horizon she gathered up the reins and cantered, Gully by her side around the edge of the cattle. There was probably a hundred steers in all but this was not the extent of the herd. The Norman Station was large and all of it used – thirty thousand this year and the men to handle the back breaking work. The small group of steers that were very ineffectively trying to stay clear of the dog were ‘Jenny’s Own’. She picked the new family as she called then every year. It was day three of gathering the cattle for the trip to lusher pastures a little closer to the main grounds of the station for the muster. Although her family, Jenny had no emotional attachment just familiarity. Something that permeated through the rest of her life and relationships.

Giving quick, loud commands while she circled the herd, Jenny watched Gully do what he knew best. Barking here and there all the time moving, watching, pushing the herd closer and closer together. A few tried to break free but Gully was fast, nipping at their heels. Before long it was calm and all heads were accounted for and Gully fell into stride with Jenny’s horse, it had almost looked like a game.

The cattle caught the smell of water and Jenny let them run, stumble towards it knowing that this night at least she would have no worries of loosing any of them. Jenny shouted affectionately to her dog as she held the reins of a horse eager to join the cattle. “Come on Gully.”
The dog barked happily, charging past Jenny, around the Spinifex covered hills towards the billabong the cattle had already plundered.
Feeling the anxious horse beneath her Jenny dismounted and ungirthed the beast, letting it gallop the rest of the way. Gully ever obedient but desperate to enjoy the pleasure of the warm water stood his ground watching the cattle and waited for his mistress to give the command. Jenny clicked her fingers and the dog rushed to the waters edge.
Jenny smiled, walking slowly towards the billabong, always a welcome sight. All senses seemed to tingle as the smell of water lifted on the evening breeze to settle in the soul. Stood with hands on hips Jenny looked over the land to the shadows playing along the outcrop called ‘Satan’s Jaw’.
Jenny had always lived in this hard heartland of Australia. She knew more about the hostile land than most city folk wished they knew about their own streets. These people did not interest her, they did not understand or appreciate the land or love it enough. Jenny had yet to find someone who loved the land as much as she did.
Having left her cattle to graze Jenny turned her horse towards home and smiled. This was the part of the trip she enjoyed, pushing her horse on faster and faster Jenny galloped for home with Gully barking and keeping time with the horse. Hooves pounding into the hard sunburnt earth as exhilaration seemed to overtake them. Jenny sinking lower into her saddle in preparation for the boundary fence, white knuckled the world seemed to silence for a split second, as the horse was airborne and all breathing stopped until its hooves once again could be heard under foot. They had cleared the fence with millimetres to spare. It was all Gully could do to keep up and the dog scrambled more than hurdled the fence and was pleased to be on the other side.
Once inside the boundary fence that segregated the house from the rest of the property Jenny dismounted, beating the dust and the dirt from her clothes with her hat and shaking it from her hair. She led the horse to the large pen next to the barn, taking great care with the gelding, bathing and brushing it down before allowing it to retire for the day.
Gully on the other hand had taken straight for the birdbath in the middle of the front yard, chased the birds and drank his fill. Unseen by Jenny but none the less heard the dog darted around the side of the house as she shouted at it.
Satisfied that her horse was comfortable Jenny walked the patch of dirt between the barn and the house, flashing a quick look at the patch of Eden in the middle. The birdbath was surrounded by a small circle of lush green grass and miniature roses. It looked quite out of place but her grandmother had insisted upon it. Even the house looked dramatically out of place with fine Georgian lines and stately columns and French windows on the top floor. Inside were grand hand grafted wood banisters and footsteps echoed on finely polished wooden floors, muffled at intervals by imported rugs. The house shone of pride and perfection but none of this seemed to matter to Jenny. She wandered down the hall to the kitchen at the back of the house washing her face at the sink and looking out the window to a sight that always brought pain to her heart.
Off in the distance on the only hill around, blanketed by the dull evening sky were six crosses in a small graveyard. Every time Jenny looked through that window she would see a part of her life that tore at her soul, never leaving her alone, always watching her, the ache catching in each breath she took.
Gully barked at the kitchen door bringing Jenny’s thoughts back to reality. She smiled at her four-legged companion as he greeted her with dinner dish in mouth. She laughed a little and went to fill the dish for the not so patiently waiting dog. Only when the bowl was on the ground did Gully move to devour the well-earned meal and lap up the cool crisp water supplied by his mistress. The dog looked from his meal not to Jenny but to a shadow that had come around the side of the house. Before he could bark to warn of an intruder Jenny had already sensed the presence. She stood straight, her body rigid. She did not turn around as she spoke, her voice hard, stern, sharp and very chilly. “Yes Mr. Weston what can I do for you?”
A man in his fifties stepped out of the shadows now clearly visibly by the porch light. Tall and strong his hands and face weathered by years of hard work in the bushland they called home. The lines on his face showed the heartache and burden of such an existence. Though a strong man he seemed to cower when Jenny acknowledged him. His voice was soft, almost trembling, not that of a hard man. “Miss Jenny, being as it is Friday the boys and I will be heading into town.”
Jenny still with her back toward the man replied. “As you wish. Your pays are in the usual place.”
“I’ve already taken care of that.” Mr Weston paused slightly. “Miss Jenny one of the younger jackaroos would like to know if he could have his full pay this month…”
Jenny cut him off whirling around to face him, eyes intense and menacing, thunder rolled behind them. She lashed out with an abrupt tone to her voice. “Jeff, you of all people should know better than to ask such a question. You’ve been on this station longer than I have. They were my father’s rules and I think them fair. Each man has a third of his wages withheld until the end of the season or until he decides to leave. I don’t take kindly to the squandering of money on gambling and alcohol. Who was this man?”
Jenny had again succeeded in making Jeff Weston feel inadequate. He shuffled his feet uneasily, for thirty-two she had a lot of fire in her. “Young Eric Butler, his wife is having a baby and he wants to send something special.”
Jenny’s response was as he had expected. To the point and painful. “No! He should have thought about that nine months ago. He can pick up his termination pay if he wishes.”
“I’ll be letting young Eric know.” He hesitated and Jenny looked at him coldly. “Is there anything you want from town Miss Jenny?”
Her answer was polite but unemotional. “No thank you.”
Jeff found Jenny to be harder than her father ever was but to this day she had never been unfair to the men.
Slowly Jeff walked towards the waiting men and a young man jumped from the back of the Ute, his emotions showed expectancy but when Jeff placed his rugged hands on his shoulders they sank. Even Jeff’s sympathetic voice could not hide his disappointment. “Sorry mate, she wouldn’t budge.”
They both got back into the Ute. Although there was over a dozen men heading into town for the weekly repast the silence was deafening. They had all known it would have taken a miracle for any other outcome.
Dismissing the incident Jenny walked to the room that was her study, pulling Eric Butlers files out of the cabinet. The study was olde worlde with a large mahogany desk being the main attraction. She flicked through the papers in the file and then replaced it. With Gully at her side she climbed the stairs to the lavish bathroom and turned on the steaming water. Like everything in the house, although not opulent no expense had been spared. Her Grandmother has insisted that if she was to be dragged to live in the middle of nowhere she was going to do it in style and she did.

Chapter 2
Jenny rose early, the way she did every day. Being Saturday was no reason to be lazy. Little did she know that this day’s events would shake up her neat little life. Gully stirred at the foot of the bed as Jenny dressed, threw back the curtains and drank in the warm morning air.
Thousands of kilometres away at Broken Hill the events that would force Jenny into a situation not unlike the one she was trying to forget were unfolding.
Garrick Rowe, an American was helping the pilot load a single engine Cessna with his photographic equipment. After a trek through New South Wales he was headed to Queensland. Garrick with his fair hair, dark eyes, strikingly tall but slim build was a vast contrast to the barren airport that surrounded him. He stood out like a polished stone among the locals. His hands did not show the signs of hard labour, they were soft and smooth. His face, although tanned from months under the Australian sun, still looked fresh and soft. He had city written all over him.
Strapped into the plane he happily took aerial shots as the land spread out below. The pilot flew disinterested; he had seen it all before.

The station was quiet with the men gone for the weekend. It was a time that Jenny cherished. A time to tend to her grandmothers garden, a time to unwind and let down the wall that protected her just a little.
As she tended to the roses Gully barked and bounded towards the gate and a young boy on a pinto mare. The dogs’ barks were one of greeting not warning and Jenny smiled watching the boy let himself through the gate. He waved to her as she went to sit on the steps of the front verandah to wait. Having dismounted and giving Gully a greeting the child marched up to Jenny and gave her the biggest hug a boy of nine could manage. She hugged the child tightly, running her fingers through his short sandy hair.
“Miss Jenny.” The child gasped excitedly. “Do you have a story for me today?”
“Sure do Bobby.” Jenny’s voice was sweet and warm. Her love and tenderness carried in every word. “What story did you give your mother this time?”
Bobby replied with a chuckle in his voice. “Told her I was staying over at Darren’s, she never checks. He’ll be here soon.”
“Would you like to help me in the kitchen until he does?”
“Oh would I just.” Bobby nearly fell over Gully in his rush to get to the other end of the house.
Jenny smiled and her eyes came alive when she heard the excited yells from a boy who had just found what she had left for him in the middle of the kitchen table.
Jenny halted at the kitchen door so the boy could savour the moment a little longer. Among the freshly baked biscuits was a brand new pair of riding boots.
Bobby squealed with excitement when he saw Jenny standing at the door. “Miss Jenny how did you know?”
“Darren told me you had been saving since your birthday for them. Hope you like them?”
“Like them!!” Bobby dropped the boots and ran around the table hugging Jenny around the waist. “You’re the best.”
“Well a guy who can save and work as hard as you have deserves a little help.”
Jenny patted him on the head and pulled his arms from around her looking seriously into his eyes. “But..”
“Yes Miss Jenny.” Bobby stepped closer to his new boots to make sure he wasn’t dreaming.
“You can keep them provide you leave your own money in the bank and keep saving.”
“No worries Miss Jenny.”
While Bobby frantically changed into his new boots Darren’s voice could be heard in the front yard. Gully had darted from the house and the dog was running around the boy as he bounded up the stairs. He was just about to place one very dirty shoe on the floor when he heard Jenny’s voice from the kitchen.
“Darren Bradley you put one dirty hoof mark on my clean floor and I’ll tan you till you are raw!”
Darren immediately backtracked, stamping and rubbing his shoes on the mat. At the same time Bobby ran down the hall to greet him. He knew that Jenny would probably shout at him for doing so but he was so excited he could not contain himself.
Darren’s eyes fell to the boots. Not a word was spoken but the youngsters performed some kind of dance ritual. Hands clasped on each other’s shoulders; they jumped and yelled into the front yard with Gully bouncing around on his hind legs trying to get in on the act.
Jenny smiled, watching from the verandah, allowing them to dance a few moments longer before letting loose with a high-pitched whistle that brought all three to a standstill. “Darren put your bike in the barn. Bobby put your horse in the holding pen and we will take a ride out to the west end and I will finish the story from last week.”
Each boy ran in a different direction to collect their respective charges. Their actions were natural, like a daily routine and in a way it was. The boys had been coming to see Jenny and listen to her wonderful stories for as long as they could remember. Darren’s father, the local doctor would drop his son off on a Saturday morning before doing his rounds of part of the region. Bobby’s mother used to drive him from town on her weekly visit to her sister some three hundred kilometres away. Just over two years ago it had all stopped and the boys had been given strict instructions not to return to the Norman Station. Only young the boys had been offered no explanation but they knew it had to do with Jenny’s family. Since then both boys had found ways to sneak back every Saturday. Dr Bradley had given in only a few months after the curfew hoping that the visits would help Jenny. Neither boy asked Jenny for an explanation though they sensed she had changed in some way. They knew the crosses on the hill had grown in number but it was her stories and the piles of freshly baked biscuits and cakes that kept then coming back. They also knew they were learning but Jenny made it so much fun it never felt like it. Thanks to Jenny, Darren had learnt to ride a horse and Bobby had taken a keen interest in cooking of all things. For a nine year old he was very good. Both wanted to show off their new talents to their parents but as their visits were shrouded in secrecy, especially were Bobby’s mother was concerned they had to be content to keep them a secret.
As they waited for Jenny to lead three horses out of the barn they understood the relationship they had with her was very special.
“Well boys mount up.”

The trio covered a large distance of the property lazily and happily with the boys laughing and listening to stories of past times and of people that wandered the land before their own ancestors had arrived. They pulled up under a large gum tree, a special spot the boys had picked out a few years back. As Jenny took a deep breath and looked out over the land from speckled hilltop to sandy bottom dried riverbed the boys unpacked the picnic basket.
Jenny could sense their anticipation as they fidgeted behind her. Turning she smiled as she began to take the food out of the basket. These were the days she liked the best. They brought back happy memories.
With her permission the boys devoured the food eagerly and without complaint. As they ate Jenny listened while they gave her an account of their week. Stories of school, family and friends and a few confessions neither one would have dared tell anyone else. Jenny laughed along with the boys as they relived their glory.

The boys so loved their weekends because in Jenny they had found and ally, she listened to them as intently as they listened to her. She never chastised them for their antics but kept a motherly hold on their exuberance making sure they knew where their boundaries were. Nestled in the shade under the old gum they listened as Jenny weaved her magical adventures until the sun began to sink beyond the hills. Jenny looked into the sky with a little sorrow knowing the day was coming to an end. The boys knew it too and without a word began to pack up the remains of their picnic.
Just as they mounted their horses they all heard an unusual sound coming from the darkening sky. All three looked in the same direction; a small plane was headed their way. Jenny sat ridged in her saddle watching and listening to the increasingly erratic sound. Her face was pale and shadowed in fear and her body trembled as the plane came closer. The boys looked from the plane to Jenny. They began to realise with horror themselves that something was happening.
Jenny’s heart pounded as she watched the crippled plane streaking for the ground much, much to fast. All of a sudden the world was silent and the plane plummeted lifelessly to the ground.
Jenny’s voice quaked as she spoke more to herself than to the boys. “Dear God, not again, please not again.”
The boys, like Jenny had not taken their eyes off the crippled aircraft as it tried desperately to regain some hold over its destiny. They gasped and jumped in their saddles as it hit the ground, running recklessly through the scrub until a wing clipped a tree. Jenny screamed in horror, putting her horse into a full gallop. “Noooooo!!”
The cry she made was shrilling, bringing the boys out of their own numbed trance. Seeing how far Jenny had travel they too kicked their horses into action. By the time they reached Jenny’s horse she had dismounted and was running to the now smouldering plane. Pulling back the door she found two men bleeding and unconscious. Looking into the pilot’s eyes it was obvious he was dead; part of the window had broken, piercing his chest. She closed her eyes and hesitated before checking the other man.
Garrick was bleeding badly from a gash on his forehead, his left arm was at such an angle it had to be broken and he had another serious gash on his side. Jenny pulled a large piece of glass away and could see the blood seeping through the rip in his shirt. Nervously she placed her fingers on the side of his neck to check for a pulse – Life. Her relief was only momentary as she scrambled to release him from his seatbelt. She could smell the leaking fuel and had no desire to become another victim.
All this time Gully stood by Jenny’s horse watching and waiting. The boys on the other hand rushed to try to help Jenny with her heavy bundle. They stopped and watched amazed as she carried Garrick from the plane unaided. Her knees buckled under the weight but Jenny was a strong woman. She placed Garrick at the boy’s feet and ran back to the plane as Gully pawed at Garrick’s limp body. Back for the second time Jenny had retrieved two metal boxes from the cockpit. One was instantly recognisable as the first aide kit, they other just a plain metal case. One more time Jenny ran back to the plane when there was an earth-shattering explosion sending Jenny reeling back with its force and she hit the ground hard. The boys had screamed even before Jenny hit the ground and Gully went to the aid of his mistress.
“Miss Jenny you okay?” Darren was trying to be very grown up and in other circumstance she may have acknowledged his eagerness to enter the adult world but she had other matters on her mind. Kneeling down next to Garrick she systematically called orders and requests to the boys as she checked his injuries.
“Darren, Can you drive as well as you ride that bike of yours?”
Darren almost stood at attention as he answered. “Better.”
Jenny’s hands raced over Garrick’s wounds as she attempted to stop the bleeding. “Then ride back to the house and get the Ute. Put your foot down!!! Go!!!!”
Darren turned on his heels and dashed away without another word as Jenny turned her attention to Bobby.
“Bobby head back into town and tell the Doc you saw the plane go down. This guy is going to need more help than I can give him.”
Bobby was already mounting his horse as he answered. “Yes Miss Jenny.”
Jenny rummaged in the first aide kit until she found a suture set. Threading the needle she looked into Garrick’s face. “Just as well you can’t feel this.”
Placing the needle into the gash above his right eye Jenny winced from the pain that shot though her own arm but it did not affect her work. The stitches were small and neat. So were the ones she placed in the wound on his side once she had cleaned it. Next she placed his broken arm in a splint made from the supplies in the kit and a few branches. A few broken ribs were apparent but not so easily detected would be any internal bleeding. She was about to clean the rest of Garrick when Darren came charging over the horizon, sliding to a halt in the dust. Jumping from the Ute he flashed a look at the still burning wreck and with adrenalin pumping he bounded towards Jenny. She handed him the first aid kit and the metal case. Darren tried valiantly to stop his shoulders from sagging under the weight, feeling a little embarrassed as he watched Jenny carry Garrick to the back of the Ute. He sheepishly struggled to put the cases in the cabin.
“He going to die Miss.?”
Jenny flashed a look of terror at the boy whose surprise and shock showed in his eyes.
“Not if I have anything to do with it.”
Jenny covered Garrick and cushioned his head against a rolled up swag. Kneeling next to him this was the first time she had really seen his face. Even through the caked on blood and dust his features were soft, different. He was not a local. Taking his hands to place them under the blanket she held them for a little while. They were soft, un-calloused. Jumping from the back of the Ute she spoke to Darren. “Take my horse back to the house and then you better get on back into town.”
Darren was about to protest.” But Miss Jenny!!!”
Jenny looked at Garrick and placed a loving hand on the boys shoulder. “It will be a slow ride but I think he will make it. Once your Dad takes a look at him we will know for sure. You and Bobby try and come back tomorrow.”
Darren’s eyes lit up knowing that Jenny had not forgotten them. “If I see Dad I’ll let him know you are headed to the house.”
He gave Jenny a small, soft kiss before he left.
As Jenny watched the boy disappear into the dusk a hard expression changed the contour of her face, clicking her fingers the dog jumped into the back of the Ute resting its head on Garrick’s stomach.

The drive back to the house was indeed very slow and as she approached the boundary gate Jenny could see the lights of foreign cars and the shadows of people she knew to be the doctor and his assistants and the town’s only police officer. She was not impressed at the fact that they had left the boundary gate open, annoyance darkening her eyes even further.
As the Ute passed over the grate Gully jumped from his resting place and ran feverishly towards the men barking aggressively making them all step back. Gully treated strangers to his domain the same way he treated the cattle. The dogs barking intensified as the doctor moved forward just a little. Dr Bradley was a rugged man, standing just over six foot. Only in his late thirties his eyes were already tired and old. He looked from the dog to Jenny as she drove up to the house. Rather than risk injury to himself or those that had retreated behind him they waited for her to call off the dog.
Jenny alighted from the Ute seemingly not paying any attention to the commotion that Gully was making. Rather, she checked on her charge in the back. Garrick had not stirred and only after she had checked him did she acknowledge the gathering that Gully had so neatly cornered. Dr Bradley put on his bravest face and smiled as he met Jenny’s gaze. She did not, her expression remained hard and unemotional. She clicked her fingers and Gully ceased his devilish barking coming to rest at her side. None of the men moved until Jenny looked the doctor square in the eyes and spoke abruptly.
“He’s in the back.”
Dr Bradley and his two assistants rushed to the back of the Ute leaving Jenny staring at Sergeant Russell. The Sergeant had dealt with Jenny before but like others he felt inadequate around her. He stuttered just a little trying to regain his composure and block out Jenny’s intimidation. He was good at his job and in his thirty years had come across most types of people but Jenny was different. He had known the Norman family most of his life but the last two years had seemed like a never-ending battle. Jenny had changed, no longer the sweet, compassionate girl he had watched grow up. It hurt and saddened him to see what she had become.
“What happened Jen?”
Her eyes seemed to burn right through him. “The plane crashed, pilot’s dead, he’s alive” She pointed to the Ute. “Plane exploded out in the west section.”
The Sergeant stepped a little closer to Jenny and was about to put his hands on her shoulders when she not so much backed away from his gesture but side stepped it. He gave up on this tactic and with friendly authority tried again. “I know this must be hard for…”
Jenny cut him off with a remark of her own that was as aggressive as his had been soft. “I’m f- i -n -e” With that said she walked passed him with Gully by her side and retreated into the house. All Sergeant Russell could do was stare after her.

Dr Bradley and his staff had placed Garrick on a stretcher and shuffled hurriedly across the dusty yard but stopped short of the house. Dr Bradley looked past the Sergeant to Jenny who was just visible in the shadows, her eyes as intense as ever. The doctor said nothing as everyone waited. It was Jenny’s commanding voice they all heard. “You can use a room upstairs.”
“Come on Doc before she changes her mind.” The Sergeant quipped.
They all followed Jenny up the stairs and into a bedroom. She allowed them to go in and left but not before giving Gully a silent command that made the dog plant himself at the door to the room.
“Guess she doesn’t trust anyone.” The doctor’s remark had been general but it got everyone’s attention.

Jenny made a pot of tea and placed four cups with a plate of biscuits on the kitchen table. She was standing at the sink looking through the darkness at the crosses when Gully brushed up against her leg. She looked tired and dusty, her clothes were splattered with blood, her hair hung down in thick sweat mattered strands. Jenny had not noticed that she also had a large gash on her left arm, just below the shoulder. Her blood seeped out to mingle with that already covering her sleeve. She just continued to stare; fighting the anger she could feel birthing inside.

Sergeant Russell entered the kitchen first followed by the doctor and his two male nurses. They were all quiet and sombre. Jenny turned but did not look at them just pouring the tea and handing each man a cup.
Dr Bradley embarked on a conversation he hoped would bring some insight as to what had happened. “Did you stitch him up Jenny?”
“Yes.” She stated, not wasting words in her reply.
Dr Bradley was about to reply when one of his nurses piped up with what amounted to a misguided show of enthusiasm for her work. “It was a great job Miss Norman. Even the doc said so.”
Both nurses coward behind the Doctor as Jenny flashed them a look of disdain. The friction in the room was suffocating but the Doctor continued. “I’d like to know who taught you.”
Not even a flicker of happiness or relief showed in Jenny’s face. No answer was forthcoming either.
“Jen. I know having him here will be hard for you but I would prefer not to move him until he regains consciousness.”
“Fine.” Jenny took the Doctors empty cup as she spoke. That was when he noticed her arm. Without thinking he grabbed hold of her arm quickly to examine it. Saved from a swift punch by the fact that Jenny had hold of his cup but as she tried to pull away Jenny grimaced as she felt the pain for the first time.
Gully was barking madly at the doctors feet until Jenny stamped her foot.
Sergeant Russell decided it was time for him to leave. “Well if you have things under control here Doc I’ll be off. Got plenty to do before the sun comes up.” He looked to Jenny. “I’ll be back tomorrow okay Jenny?”
There was silence; he was not going to get any response from her.
“I’ll be off then.”
He nodded and began to leave, the nurses followed him.
Dr Bradley still had hold of Jenny’s arm, Gully watching him intently as he sat by her feet. “You know you will need stitches in this Jenny.”
Dr Bradley moved to the opposite side of the table and dug around in his bag. Jenny silently placed his cup into the sink and waited. Only when he produced a small vile and a needle did she react. “No!!!! No drugs.”
The Doctor was astonished, looking at her waiting for an explanation. None was forthcoming. He put the vial and needle back in his bag and took out the suture set. “This will hurt. I wish you would let me give you something.”
Again no reply, the Doctor sighed cleaning the wound and sewing the torn flesh expecting a cry or a flinch. Jenny did neither, standing motionless until he had finished.
The Doctor looked into her eyes, no tears. All he saw was anger and pain. Placing his instruments back into his bag he spoke softly and tenderly to her, not sure what to say. “Are you sure you don’t want something for the pain. It could be worse in the morning.”
Jenny shook her head silently.
“Okay I’ll check back tomorrow.”
He was a little sad at her toneless reply. “Send Darren, he can let you know if you are needed.”
Dr Bradley knew better than to argue with her. “You did a great job on him Jen. His arm is set and I have taped up his ribs. Just keep an eye on him, his temperature could spike.” The Doctor pulled a small bottle from his bag and handed them to her. “In case either of you need them.”
When Jenny did not take them he just placed them on the table and began to leave only stopping when he heard her voice. Still toneless but seeming softer. Her gratitude took him by surprise.
“Doctor Bradley….”
“Yes Jenny.”
“Thank you.”
“Thank you Jenny, I think you may have saved his life.” Jenny’s exterior may have appeared hard and brutal but Dr Bradley knew that the girl he had once known was still there, hiding, protected. He stepped a little closer. “Jenny you know if there is anything I can do…. Anything.”
Jenny did not answer, turning to look out the window. Dr Bradley smiled as Gully escorted him to the front door.

The Doctor and his entourage could be heard driving away, as Jenny heard the gate close tears slowly cut a path down her still red-dusted face. Gully scampered back to her side and rested his head on her foot. His affection seemed to seep into her. Jenny sighed, washed her face and then made her way up the flight of stairs to the first floor,
standing quietly next to the bed she looked down on Garrick. Although he had been cleaned up a little by the nurses he was still a mess. Dried blood and dust clung to the remainder of his clothes and blood matted his hair. Jenny sighed leaving him to sleep as she walked along the hall, her bloodstone boots echoing on the hardwood floor to the closet to retrieve an enamel bowl, disinfectant and a flannel. Walking back she passed Garrick’s room and headed to the bathroom where she filled the bowl with warm water adding the disinfectant and soaking the flannel. Slowly and quietly she placed the bowl on the beside table and watched only by Gully she began to undress Garrick, taking a quick glance at his body but just as quickly dismissing it. Any other woman would have found the temptation to linger in their gaze more than tempting but Jenny was not like any other woman. Over the past two years she had changed, harder, less trusting. However; looking down at Garrick something moved ever so slightly, a small stirring with in, nothing visible, just a flicker of feeling. Maybe in his unconscious state this stranger had found the place in her that she saved for her two young friends.
Jenny washed away the blood and dirt and Garrick began to appear human. Jenny was thorough, like a well-trained nurse she worked methodically, turning Garrick to clean his back, laying him back down again to do his legs and feet. Once satisfied that his body was clean she began on his hair. The task was taking a lot out of her, her arm ached but Jenny continued until finished. She gathered the bowl of soiled water and stepping over Gully, rinsed them in the bathroom and left them to dry while she collected fresh, crisp sheets returning to Garrick to change the bloodied sheets that had covered him since his arrival.
With the blood cleaned up and Garrick dressed in a pair of her fathers pyjamas, Jenny took a seat on the chair next to the window watching him for a few minutes before the pain in her own arm broke her trance. Sighing at herself in disgust, looking worse than Garrick did Jenny stood, gathered Garrick’s discarded clothing, bundled them with the dirty sheets, stepped over Gully and made her way down the corridor at which time the dog rose to follow her. Jenny stopped; her voice soft, sweet and gentle as she looked affectionately at the Gully. “Stay and watch him boy.”
Without another word Jenny continued and Gully wandered back into the bedroom placing himself strategically so he could see Garrick’s face from his resting place.
Down the hall Jenny ran the rejuvenating water for a long soak in the bath. Peeling off her clothes and sinking into the steaming bathwater her body seemed to give in all at once. Tears streaming down her face, her heart weighted with painful memories. Images flashed through her mind of that day, the day she had watched helpless as her father’s plane had plummeted to the ground. The day she lost four generations of her family, the day Jenny changed.
She had wept long and hard that day, as she did now, the vibrations of her weeping sending ripples shimmering across the water. No tears had washed her face since that day and although her heart ached she was angry with herself for letting them run now.
Jenny thought she has managed her life well. Keeping out all the emotions that had betrayed her all too often in the past. She had always been good at managing the station, so she began to change, running her life like she ran the station. No nonsense, efficient, diligent with no room for frivolity or love. The only hint of the Jenny she was trying to hide; to protect was the love and affection she showed to her ever-faithful companion Gully and her two young friends.

From an early age Jenny had reasoned it was adults that caused her the most pain and apart from family she had always treated strangers coolly. To those who knew her it was different, she was different, compassionate, loving, caring. Until that day. That day the change in her had been instant and dramatic.
Now standing looking through the steamy mirror at her red tinged eyes Jenny once again buried her feelings, her very soul behind a cold, hard, unyielding wall.
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PostSubject: chapter 3   Tue Nov 16, 2010 5:16 am

Chapter 3
In the next room Garrick slept restlessly, his own mind running through his last memories. As a fever burned through his body visions of the crash sent flames rushing through his mind. Gully watched intently as Garrick mumbled. However as his words became clearer and louder Gully stood to attention with ears pinned waiting for something to happen. Garrick screamed, Gully let out one sharp bark running down the hall to find his mistress. Jenny had heard them both from her room and rushed down the hall, with her long pale pink nightgown and hair flying out behind her she looked like a vision from heaven. Looking down into Garrick’s face Jenny gently placed her hand on his brow as he tossed and turned. Stroking his forehead softly her words were almost a whisper when she spoke. The only thing they carried was compassion. “Now, now. Calm yourself, you’re safe.”
Her words seemed to have the desired affect, Garrick’s body relaxing as he let go of the visions that tormented him.
Jenny continued to stroke his head and cheek tenderly with the back of her hand like a mother with a sick child. Just as she was thinking to leave to get a damp cloth Garrick opened his eyes. Quickly she removed her hand from his face and stood silently, watching as Garrick tried to focus his eyes on her. In his dazed state it felt to Jenny like he stared at her for an eternity. But what she did noticed even in his fevered state were his eyes. So very dark, so very deep, so very blue. Hesitantly but with tenderness she slowly placed her hand back on his forehead, brushing her fingers through his sweat drenched hair. “Go to sleep……I’ll be here.”
Maybe because he was injured he did not seem to be a threat; Jenny did not feel that oh so familiar loathing creep over her when it came to strangers.
Garrick closed his eyes and this time drifted off into a peaceful sleep.
Jenny waited a few more minutes before going to retrieve a bowl and cloth and without a command Gully remained at Garrick’s bedside only looking away from the stranger to acknowledge Jenny’s return. She set about washing Garrick down to lower his temperature and making sure that none of the Doctor’s work had been undone by his restlessness. Satisfied that her patient was resting comfortably Jenny took up vigil in the chair instead of retiring to her own room. She sat patiently watching until near dawn before finally falling asleep. It was close to eight in the morning before she stirred, woken by Gully pulling gently on her gown. Jenny heard the sound of the boundary gate and looking out the window she saw Bobby and Darren headed toward the house. Darren had a large bungle tied to the back of his bike. So while the boys led their charges (horse and bike) to the barn Jenny quickly checked on Garrick before leaving him to meet the boys at the front door.
The two boys had been talking about the plane and last night all the way from town and continued their conversation as they crossed the front yard. That was until Jenny appeared at the front door, they stopped, stunned into silence. Neither boy had ever seen Jenny in anything but her work clothes. Even to these young boys her beauty was apparent.
Jenny spoke to them as she always did, no hint of coldness in her voice. “Well don’t just stand there with your mouths open. Wipe your feet and get in here.”
Silently the boys followed Jenny down the hall to the kitchen and it was Darren who found his voice first as he placed his bundle on the table. “Dad sent some things.”
Jenny did not bother to examine the bundle having a good idea what the good Doctor may have sent knowing her appearance was making the boys a little nervous. She smiled at them, kissing both on top of their heads before leaving the kitchen making both boys blush. She paused at the door. “You can raid the fridge while I get changed. I want you to look after our patient today.”

With Jenny gone the boys regained their composure. They did not go to the fridge but instead to the pantry where Jenny kept all her home cooked goodies. The boys settled down at the table with a barrel of biscuits. Darren spoke with a mouth half full. “See I told you he wasn’t dead.”
“Yeah but he didn’t look real good last night.”
“You see the stitches on Jenny’s arm?”
“Yeah, so?”
“Sooooo, Dad said she didn’t have any anaesthetic or anything!!!”
The boy’s discussion carried on much the same way between stuffing their faces with biscuits until Jenny reappeared dressed as she always did in jeans and a shirt. The boys rubbed the crumbs from their faces and Bobby replaced the barrel in the pantry without being asked. After swallowing his last morsel Darren picked up on their earlier conversation. “Dad said if you need him call the Base.”
Jenny smiled. “Well why don’t we take a look at what he sent first. Then check our guest.”
By this time Bobby was back at the table stuttering over his words just a little. “Is…is… he okay Miss Jenny?”
“Yes Bobby. I dare say he will be a little sore for a while once he wakes up but he will wake up. He should be fine.”
The boys watched Jenny unpack the bundle that the Doctor had sent. A bundle that contained all the first aid supplies she would need and indeed already had. With over twelve men on the permanent pay role her own first aid kits was always in use. Garrick was not her first patient to need stitches.
Jenny repacked the box expertly and the boys followed her up into Garrick’s room. To the boys Garrick was somewhat of a disappointment. He looked just fine all cleaned up. Oh he had bandages on but somehow they had expected him to look worse.
Gully let his vigil lapse seeing the boys and went to greet them, getting a pat on the head by both for his trouble.
Jenny checked Garrick watched over by her three closest companions. She replaced the soiled bandages around his head, arm and ribs, giving him another bed bath with soap that filled the air with the fragrance of eucalyptus. The boys looked on in wonder a few times wanting to step forward and help but not knowing how they could. For boys who were hard to impress, in their eyes Jenny was amazing, she was not an adult, she was more than a friend, she was…….she was Miss Jenny.
Garrick had not stirred and once she was finished Jenny stood back and inspected her work. Picking up the bandages and bowl she turned to the boys. “Your turn next fellas.”
Jenny had to smile at their reactions. Bobby was almost too overcome to get his words out while Darren just stood stunned. “But!!!! But Miss Jenny We can’t do that!!!!” Bobby retorted.
“Of course you can. Now I want you to sit down and watch for any changes.” Jenny looked at the still dumbfounded Darren. “Come with me Darren, get another chair.”
Darren moved a little closer to Jenny ready to follow as she spoke one word to Gully.
Immediately the dog parked himself at the foot of the bed. Both the boys and the dog knew who he was guarding. There was a stranger in the house and it was Gully’s job to keep an eye on him, so like the well trained dog he was that is exactly what he would do. Watch and wait, be alert for anything unusual.
Darren returned with a chair putting it next to Bobby and they both sat like soldiers silently watching as Garrick slept.
They stayed this way until Jenny retuned with a tray of sandwiches for their lunch. The boys were eager to dig in but gave their status report before considering their stomachs.
“He’s okay Miss Jenny. We checked a little while ago.” Darren was overwhelmed with pride and eager to please her.
Jenny smiled at their enthusiasm. “You know the hardest part is the watching and waiting.”
It was Bobby’s turn to speak up. “We don’t mind Miss Jenny. Really.” His gaze dropped and he began to shuffle in his seat a little before continuing. “But do we really have to do what you said. You know before?”
Jenny laughed lightly and knelt down in front of the two boys. “Well. You don’t think I would let you two loose on your own first time out do you. Even if the patient is unconscious.”
The boys looked at each other silently then back at Jenny as she continued. “Besides you will need to know what to do while I am gone.”
Bobby’s yelp surprised even his young friend. “Gone!!! Where are you going?!”
Jenny patted his shoulders. “I have a station to run and tomorrow is a busy day. I know you can handle it.”
Darren spoke up, all be it timidly. “But what if….” He never finished, He didn’t feel so brave anymore.
“Boys, listen. He will be fine. He just needs to rest. And Daren your father is just a call away.” Jenny paused then added sarcastically. “You do know how to use a radio?”
Jenny tussled their hair as she stood and the boys giggled.
“Well then let’s get to work. You can have lunch after you have finished.”
Jenny taught and the boys learnt quickly. They only bandages they did not change were the ones around Garrick’s ribs. Jenny saw no reason to make extra work for herself or her young apprentices.
Again Garrick was given a bath but this time Jenny sat at the window and watched as Bobby and Darren gently completed their task. Finishing Darren turned to Jenny with a very serious look on his face. “What about you Miss Jenny?”
“What about me?” Jenny quizzed.
“Your arm, can we look at it, make sure it is okay?”
Jenny smiled at them a little cheekily as they approached. “You do realise I will have to take my shirt off.”
Leaving the boys dumfounded Jenny walked out of the room to return moments later dressed in a sleeveless shirt much to their relief. They had not spoken or moved since she left and both looked rather pale much to Jenny’s amusement. Once again she sat herself next to the window and waited for her young doctors to make their diagnosis.
The bandages she had been wearing since the night before were soiled. Jenny knew the wound underneath them would need cleaning. She also knew it would be a good experience for the boys, she was conscious, Garrick was not. Timidly the boys began to work on her arm. Jenny herself was surprised at their gentleness. She drank in every feature of Garrick’s face as the boys worked. As if he knew he opened his eyes, turned his head and tried to focus on the activity around him. Jenny gave no indication to Bobby or Darren that anything had happened all the time keeping her eyes on Garrick. Tiredly Garrick drifted back to sleep as the boys finished working on Jenny’s arm unaware that the stranger had woken. Still with her eyes on Garrick it was a few moments before Jenny realised that the boys were waiting for her inspection. Looking from her arm to the boys she smiled. They had done a wonderful job.
But something disturbed her. Some fleeting thought, a feeling that she could not catch had fluttered through her, stirred something in her. What was it? Jenny sighed. No matter… It was gone.
Jenny smiled at the boys wrapping them in a hug. “Wonderful. Now all you have to do is be as gentle with our patient when he wakes up.”
Bobby and Darren smiled with overflowing pride.
“Now, eat your lunch and back to work. Darren, I am calling the Base. I want you to stay over.”
As Jenny’s eyes fell on Bobby the shine left his face. She was going to tell him he had to go home. “I want to stay as well Miss Jenny. Please don’t make me go home.”
Again Jenny put her hands on his shoulders. “I should you know. Your mother will have a right wobble when she finds out where you are. You do know that don’t you?”
The shine and smile reappeared on Bobby’s face. “You mean I can stay.”
“Well you are going to have to go home and leave her a note, bring back some clothes for you both. We’ll just have to deal with your mother when the time comes.”
The boys looked at each other both knowing just how explosive Bobby’s mother could be.
“Okay boys. I will be out at the east water hole but back before dark. What do you do if you need me?”
They answered together. “Send Gully!!!”

Jenny’s transmission to the Regional Base Hospital was short and straight to the point. Dr Bradley had been available so she spoke directly to him. Much to the relief of the nurse on duty, Jenny scared him. Dr Bradley was not overly concerned about his son’s welfare, knowing Jenny would take good care of him. In a way the Doctor had hoped that his son and Bobby would help Jenny regain some trust in her fellow man. As yet this had yet to happen. Apart from the stories his son would tell him of his times with Jenny it seemed that she would allow no one else that close to her. However the more immediate concern for the doctor was his patient. He did manage to tell Jenny that he would be out at the station later that evening to check. The message was received as he had expected, coldly.
Bobby and Darren watched from the bedroom window as Jenny rode her horse, gliding effortlessly over the boundary fence. The fence was not at its highest point near the gate but high enough to make the boys hearts race with excitement at what they saw. Each boy’s reaction was the same. “Wow!!!!”
Gully gave a little bark and the boys finished their lunch.
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PostSubject: Chapter 4   Fri Nov 19, 2010 7:18 am

Chapter 4
Jenny did not head straight to the east waterhole but rather guided her horse in the opposite direction. There was no reason to go back to the crash site but something was pulling her, dragging her back to a place she did not want to be, a place she did not want to see. It was with little relief that she found the site vacant of the plane. The police van stood at the edge of the scorched and blackened earth where the plane had been the day before. Sergeant Russell looked up from his notes surprised to see Jenny when he had heard the horse.
“You didn’t have to come out Jenny.”
Jenny’s voice was hard and matter of fact. “Where’s the plane?”
Wasn’t much left. Those city fellas got here early this morning, took it back into town mumbling something about forensics.” He could see the questioning look on her face. “I know, I know usually takes a month of Sundays to get anything done around here but seems these fellas got pulled out of some conference they were going to when the call came in. Not so good for them, better for us.” Sergeant Russell paused undecided about his next move. “I will need to talk to the guy you pulled out. Will need to talk to you as well Jenny.”
“You can talk to me now. He’s still unconscious.”
With in a few short minutes Jenny had relayed her version of events to the Sergeant, nothing more, nothing less. When he asked her to come into town to sign some papers he got the reaction he had expected. He was hoping for another but in his heart he already knew. Jenny flatly refused and rode off to check the waterhole leaving the Sergeant looking wearily after her. Even though she intimidated him, he couldn’t help feel sorry for her and he knew his last question had been ill timed but like Dr Bradley he had hoped for a little ripple, a small change, anything that would show him the real Jenny was still in there somewhere.
Jenny had not ventured into the town since she had lost her family. Sergeant Russell had hoped the current situation may have changed that. He was wrong…… if anything it had made matters worse.

While Jenny rode across the station checking the waterhole, the cattle and the food supply, she came across something she hated more than people……Traps.
Someone had set traps on her property to catch rabbits. That someone probably gambling because the property was so large they would not get caught. That same someone who, if Jenny did find them would realise the error of their ways. By the time Jenny dismounted to check the trap she was furious. More often than not it was not rabbits but her cattle, native animals and sometimes a wild brumby that would be caught and if not found; die a very slow and painful death. As she inspected the trap it was obvious that it had been set very recently. This meant there was a good chance of tracking down the trespassers. Expertly she disengaged the trap and followed the almost invisible trail like a bloodhound. Before too long she had found and dismantled several more and as she tinkered with the last one voices filtered over the rise. Jenny stiffened, her eyes dark with anger she pulled her rifle from her saddlebag covering the remaining distance to the rise on foot leaving her horse to rest under the only tree for miles in any direction.
Standing on top of the rise with the rifle resting in her arms across her chest Jenny looked down into the small valley below her. There she saw two men standing over a newly set trap. Without a word, without warning Jenny cocked the riffle, firing a bullet between the two men setting off the trap. Both men swung around to see where the shot had come from, one of them bringing his own rifle to his side ready to fire. Before he had a chance to focus and take aim Jenny fired again, the riffle flew out of his hand. Jenny fired two more shots and both men fell to the ground yelling in pain. Her bullets had grazed passed their legs enough to make the warning real and painful. With a deadly look Jenny approached the men as they tried desperately to scramble backwards to their truck. Jenny fired another shot over their heads as she got closer….They stopped.
Peering down at her quarry Jenny’s expression was fixed and severe, her voice detached. “This is my property. If I find either of you here again you’ll leave in a coffin.” To make her point undeniable she pointed the barrel of the rifle at one man and then the other. “Now leave before I change my mind and put a whole through your chest.”
With miss-guided bravery one of the men went to retort only to find a bullet flash passed his face far to close for comfort. Without hesitation the men scrambled to the truck and sped off. Only then did Jenny lower her rifle as she watched the dust plume dance across the horizon knowing they were headed straight into town.
Jenny mounted her horse looking back in the direction of the house, knowing she should return to her two young friends but also needing to check for more traps before she did.
Darren and Bobby spent their time checking on Garrick and telling stories, trying to piece the mystery of the night before together. They wanted to know who the man in the bed was, where he had come from, what he was and like any boy of their age their imaginations were well equipped to supply them with the most hair raising adventures. Upon Jenny’s return they had decided that Garrick was a spy, that someone had sabotaged his plane and that he needed interrogating but…. They would wait to see what Jenny had to say about it.

Gully was the first to sense Jenny’s return, standing at the bedroom window with his front paws on the sill, Bobby and Darren behind him all watching as Jenny cleared the boundary fence much the same as she had done when she had left.
Bobby ran out of the room and down the stairs to greet her leaving Darren to watch from the window and keep an eye on Garrick. Gully gave his mistress a sharp loud bark but remained at his post next to the stranger in the bed.

Helping Jenny rub down her horse Bobby regaled her with their discoveries. She had to laugh as Bobby almost tripped over his own tongue he was so excited about telling her of their adventures into the dark world of spies and counter intelligence. Back in Garrick’s room Jenny could see that it was not only Bobby who had been infected with the spy bug. Darren was equally excited. That was until Jenny had to dash their hopes of an interrogation. “Boys… I hate to put a damper on such imaginations but our guest is a photographer. Nothing more.”
The boy’s shoulders dropped as reality swept away any hope that Garrick was a spy.
“But what would you have done if he had been a spy and he had woken up?”
Darren puffed out his chest. “Stuck Gully on him!!!”
Jenny’s laughter echoed through the still house, her young friends had thought of everything.
“Well I suspect you pair of super sleuths are hungry. You ready for tea?”
In unison the boys nodded.
“Then outside with you both and get some fresh air while I fix something.”
At her words the boy’s expressions changed to ones of gravity and concern. Jenny smiled at them as she glanced quickly at Garrick. “He is fine. You both did a great job. Now outside before it gets dark.”
Darren darted out of the room but Bobby hung back watching as Jenny checked Garrick one more time she gave him the answer to his unasked question. “Yes Bobby if you have them with you, you can wear your new boots.”
That was all he needed to hear. Bobby flew down the corridor like a miniature cyclone with Gully following close behind once Jenny had released him from his duties with her silent command.
Jenny , happy that their patient was resting comfortably made her way down to the kitchen and began to prepare a meal for her newest employees and, as was the custom for a Sunday she also prepared a meal for her men. Setting their own dinner to cook, Jenny carried several rather large roasts over to the men’s bunkhouse where she placed the tray in the oven and set them to cooking. It would be ready for the men when they returned from town. Jenny always timed it perfectly. The meat would be ready by eight, she would return at seven to start the vegetables. All the men knew if they were late it was up to them to figure out what to do. The meal had been a tradition started by her grandfather and only once in her life could Jenny ever remember the men being late. Even in the outback a man’s stomach rumbled at the thought of a home cooked roast dinner.

Jenny had completely disregarded the afternoon’s events as she listened to Gully and the boys yapping and yelling in the yard. Her heart was light with the sounds but also a little sad. Jenny turned from the stove and looked out through the window, up to the hill and out to the crosses that burdened her soul.
With the table set and an array of fresh, piping hot vegetables in the centre, Jenny gave an ear-piercing whistle that brought all three bounding up the front steps. Gully continued out through the kitchen door to where Jenny had placed his dish. The boys had stopped momentarily at the front door to stamp their feet clean. This accomplished they tried hard to walk down the hall to the kitchen but being excited and hungry this seemed impossible. They bounded into the kitchen to see Jenny placing a large jug of gravy and a plate of roast beef next to the vegetables. Just as they were about to sit Jenny sounded out a command. “Hands….”
Darren and Bobby raced to the sink and washed up, back in their seats before Jenny had finished serving up the meal.
With the boys happily digging into their food Jenny excused herself and made another check on Garrick. He was sleeping soundly and she felt sure it would not be long before he was fully conscious. This thought unnerved her a little. It meant that she would have to deal with his intrusion until he was well enough to travel into town, which she hoped would be sooner rather than later. Looking down at him Jenny decided that he would be treated with the same distance as all the other adults in her life, why take the chance on being hurt again.
Returning to the kitchen to find the boys now on their second helping had been gracious enough to serve up her meal before devouring the remains.
Over dinner, with a little pleading from both boys Jenny began a new story for them and once more captured their interest and imagination as she immersed them into the world of spies. Eager to find out what happened in the end Bobby and Darren waded through their dessert as Jenny sat opposite weaving the plot deeper. The boys were transfixed. Leaving the last mouthfuls of frozen yogurt to melt away when Jenny stopped mid sentence and rose from her chair. “Sorry boys but we will have to finish this later. We have company.”
The boys, so engrossed in her telling of the tale had not heard the boundary gate nor realised that Jenny was already on her way out of the room.
There had been a knock at the front door. Dr Bradley stood with medical bag in one hand and an ever-watchful Gully by his side. He was somewhat apprehensive not wanting to enter the house just in case. Dr Bradley had never known Gully to attack but did not plan on being the first to find out. Jenny greeted the Doctor like anyone else, coolly. He glanced passed her and smiled when he saw Darren and Bobby standing at the door to the kitchen only then did he relax a little.
“I’ve come to have a look at the patient Jenny.”
Jenny nodded her head and stood aside so the Doctor could pass. “You know the way.”
The boy’s immediately picked up on the change in the tone of Jenny’s voice and both came to stand beside her taking her hands affectionately in their own.
Dr Bradley smiled at his son. “You haven’t been getting in the way have you?”
Darren gave his father a small disapproving scowl as Jenny gave the Doctor his answer squeezing Darren’s hand gently. “Both Bobby and Darren have been a great help. They will be staying until the patient recovers enough to move to the Base Hospital.”
The Doctor was surprised when Jenny released the boy’s hands and put her arms around their shoulders, pleased that the boys were receptive and seemed to cuddle into her side. Maybe he had been right to allow Darren to visit Jenny. Maybe with more time to heal Jenny would once again show others the affection she kept for the children. Maybe in time she would allow others to once again get as close to her as his son and Bobby seemed to be.

Jenny let the Doctor enter Garrick’s room ahead of herself and the boys. She stood at the door, arms folded as the boys watched, eagerly wanting to learn. Dr Bradley changed the dressings commenting on a job well done to Jenny.
“Your thanks should go to the boys. It is their work not mine.”
Dr Bradley looked in astonishment at the beaming faces of Bobby and his son. “Who taught you how to do this son?”
Darren could not contain himself, his voice full of pride. “Miss Jenny did Dad……Today.”
The Doctor again felt inadequate and was unable to voice his surprise; he had no idea that his son was capable of such deeds. Jenny’s voice engulfed him. “They are very capable young men Dr Bradley and should be treated accordingly.” Not leaving time for him to comment she continued. “How is he?”
Dr Bradley regained his professional composure knowing this was the best way to handle Jenny, unfortunately this meant dismissing the accomplishments of his son and his friend. This in turn making the boys feel somewhat deflated. “He is fine, the fever is down, the wounds look okay. I would expect he will come around in the next twenty-four hours or so.” The Doctor looked into Jenny’s eyes for a glimmer of compassion. “I think he will need time to adjust once he does. It would be better if we left him here.” He waited for her reaction and saw the anger swell with in her, comsuming her as her body stiffened. The Doctor was very glad of the boy’s excited deflection.
“Please Miss Jenny!!!!”
Jenny looked at Bobby and then to Darren. “Please Miss Jenny we would learn a lot.!!!!Honest.”
As Jenny looked back at the Doctor he felt sure the answer would be no, her eyes were dark and menacing, he could feel the cold frosty hands of her intimidation right through to his bones. “Very well. I will leave it up to you to explain to Bobby’s mother.”
At her words the Doctor felt those cold frosty hands take hold of his heart. Jenny was willing to have Garrick stay but she had also given the Doctor a burden he would rather not have had to carry. Bobby’s mother was……..This was going to take some tact if he wanted the boys to remain with Jenny.
Just maybe with the boys around and a conscious patient to deal with there was hope for Jenny. Maybe Garrick could break through the fortress she had built around herself?
“Fine Jenny. I will leave him in your capable hands.” Then he looked at the boys. “I will expect a full report in the morning.”
Darren looked at his father and smiled. “Sure thing Dad.”
Jenny stepped aside and the Doctor knew that was his cue to leave or rather that he had been dismissed. He packed his bag and left the room in silence while Jenny remained upstairs as the boys followed him to his car.
The Doctor turned to look at his son.
“Miss Jenny, she’s not always like that honest.”
Dr Bradley smiled at the boys but got into his car in silence and drove to the boundary gate. Watching the car leave the station Bobby turned to Darren with a very serious look on his face. “What’s wrong with Miss Jenny?”
“Maybe she is mad about something.”
They boys returned to the house hoping that is was not something they had done. They could hear Jenny in the kitchen and found her clearing away the dinner dishes. She smiled at them warmly not a trace of that darkened whirlpool in her eyes; her features were soft and her voice tender and her manner calm. “You two had enough to eat?”
Bobby and Darren stood uneasily at the door to the kitchen while Jenny continued to clear away the remnants of dinner from the table. Their attitude prompted a reaction from her. “Something wrong?”
Bobby walked over to her and placed his arms around her waist. To an outsider it would seem like she was his mother. “We’re sorry?” he whispered.
Darren with a quiver in his voice added his own apology. “Me too Miss Jenny.”
Jenny looked from one boy to the other almost as confused as they were. “What makes you think you have done something wrong?”
As she looked into their eyes she realised that the friction between her and Dr Bradley had unsettled them. Jenny tugged Bobby’s arms from around her and beckoned for Darren to join them. Holding both their hands Jenny opened up her soul. Not since the accident had she shown so much of herself to anyone. It would be quite a number of years before the boys would come to understand what they were witnessing now, just how much trust Jenny had in them.. “Sometimes I have trouble with grown ups just like you.” Before the boys had a chance to comment she continued, changing the topic. “I think it is time we checked on the patient before you went to bed.”
The boys shouts of protest brought with it lightness that settled in Jenny’s heart, scaring away the darkness that had threatened to weigh down their own hearts.
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PostSubject: Re: Jenny's Justice   Tue Nov 23, 2010 4:46 am

Chapter 5
With her two helpers bedded down for the night and surprisingly asleep, Jenny’s thoughts turned not to Garrick but her other duties. Sitting in her study Jenny’s eyes scanned across the files on her computer as the screen came to life. As her fingers glided over keys she methodically determined the coming week’s extra duties. There was no need for her to check on the daily running of the station. It was Mrs Weston’s place to keep her abreast of any peculiarities that may occur. Jenny smiled a little to herself as she continued to take care of bills and the like. If truth be told Mr Weston could very nearly run the Norman Station much better than she could. So as was her way, late on Sunday she was preparing the list for the monthly trip into town. Not for herself but for Mr Weston. Jenny may have logged onto her computer each Sunday to update the supply list but it only required the once monthly trip. All this could have been accomplished on the Friday night when the men went into town but experience had shown Jenny that sober men were much better at their jobs. So the trip was always made on the Monday. This Sunday Jenny sighed as she added the extra supplies she knew she would need for their new guest. Deep inside she had already resigned that Garrick would be staying more than a few days, even before Dr Bradley had asked. Toying with the computer mouse Jenny’s eyes changed, became softer for a moment as her thoughts drifted….. yet moments later she was back to her work, professional, methodical. With her tasks completed for the day Jenny hit the print button, stood, stretched and waited for the machine to spit out its prize. Almost mystically Gully appeared at the door. Jenny smiled down at her faithful companion as she left the house with her list for Mr Weston in her hand. wandering across the yard once more her thoughts drifted to Garrick but this time the painful, violent, visions of the plane crash tried to invade the peace of her mind. As she had done a few nights before she stood, staring into the darkness towards those unseen crosses. Gully sat silently by her side responding to the pain and anger that sometimes totally engulfed his mistress. There they stood until the laughter from the bunkhouse broke through the silence bringing Jenny back into step with the rest of the world.

As always the bunkhouse fell silent when Jenny entered with all eyes on her, watching, waiting for her to change the routine….. She never did. Not a word was spoken, Jenny gave Mr Weston the list and left. Month in and month out the men watched this same scene unfold, always the same. Jenny did not hate the men, in fact some had been on the station as long as she had but she wanted no attachments, it was easier that way.
As she walked back across the yard Jenny’s blood seemed to freeze in her veins hearing the chilling scream coming from the house. Mr Weston and the men appeared at the door to the bunkhouse. If not for Jenny’s sobering effect on them they would not have head the screams. Stone like they watched as Jenny and Gully raced across the yard. Those screams, those she knew to be Garrick’s had woken up demons she wrestled with in her own life. She had heard such screams before, sounding from her own lungs not so long ago.
Rounding the corner to Garrick’s room Jenny’s intuition had been right, stood at either side of the bed clad in their pyjamas were Bobby and Darren, desperately trying to stop Garrick from hurting himself as he thrashed wildly in the bed.
Jenny swooped in next to Darren pulling on Garrick’s arms, trying to pin them to the bed. As she placed the rest of her weight on him she barked orders at the boys. “Darren fetch Mr Weston and one of the men!!!! Bobby grab the bowl out of the cupboard and some cold water now!!!!”
Both boys disappeared hurdling Gully at the doorway. Moments later thundering steps could be heard pounding up the stairs Darren had met Mr Weston and another man as they raced up the stairs. Jenny held Garrick as tightly as she could as he bucked and rambled incoherently through his tortured sleep. Mr Weston was the first to enter the room followed by Jake, a solid man standing over six foot five. Darren was lost in his shadow. Jenny raised her head, not giving anyone a chance to speak. “Jake grab his legs and hold him!!!”
Jeff Weston was already at the other side of the bed, leaning over to take Garrick’s arms from her. Last time he had done this Jenny had been the one in the bed. Suddenly Garrick lashed out, catching Jenny off guard and knocking her across the room as he swung. Mr Weston caught both of his arms and once more pinned them to the bed while Darren and Gully rushed to Jenny’s side as she landed hard on the floor holding her cheek where Garrick had made contact. Mr Weston tried to apologise as Darren helped Jenny to her feet.
“Sorry Miss Norman.” He almost let his grip on Garrick slacken as she smiled just a little.
“No need Jeff.” Jenny looked from him to Jake and then to Bobby who was standing speechless at the door, then back to Mr Weston. “You think you can hold him?”
Jeff spoke for himself and Jake. “For as long as you need.”
Jake looked like he could have done the job all on his own. His muscle flexed a little as Garrick struggled and kicked under his grip but it seemed effortless to Jake.

Bobby placed the bowl of cool water on the table next to the bed as Jenny left to return with the first aide kit. She produced a small bottle and needle but sensing their apprehension she answered the unasked question. “Sedative.”
Bobby and Darren watched on in awe as Jenny gave Garrick the sedative. With in minutes Garrick had calmed down drastically. The thrashing stopped, his ravings ceased and his breathing became regular and peaceful once more.
Jenny watched Garrick for a few moments. “You can let go now.”
Mr Weston and Jake let go of the patient but stood their ground not sure if they should leave or stay. There was no smile on Jenny’s face but for the first time in a long time Mr Weston did not feel uncomfortable.
“Thank you both, I think we can manage from here.”
Both men nodded and left in silence. As they reached the bunkhouse the murmurs of the other men could be heard drifting on the still night air.

Without asking Bobby began to bath Garrick’s fevered brow while Darren checked his other wounds. They both smiled sheepishly as she took the cloth from Garrick’s face. “You both did a great job. He will be fine. Now off to bed with you both.”
Disappointment showing in their eyes the boys stood motionless.
“I’ll need you tomorrow. Now off you go… Good night.”
Bobby went to his room but Darren hovered just a little longer watching as Jenny cooled down the heat from Garrick’s body. “Miss Jenny…How did you know what to do?… I mean …… the needle.”
“Someone taught me when I was about your age.” She smiled cheekily. “But don’t tell your father he might get a bit upset.”
Darren’s eyes lit up; once again Jenny had surprised him.
“Now off to bed you go.”
With Jenny’s last warning ringing in his ears Darren bounded out of the room and a few seconds later Jenny heard a ‘wow’ as Darren relayed his story to Bobby.

Jenny sighed and went back to checking Garrick over; luckily not too much damage had been done. Satisfied that things were once again in order Jenny settled herself in the chair next to the window for another long night, Gully wandered into the calm and sat by her feet. Jenny listened to the noises of the night change as the warm breeze washed over her face. Watching Garrick sleep he looked more like a cherub calmly sleeping away the darkened hours of the night, not an injured man. While he breathed steadily, peacefully Jenny wondered what he dreamt. Before long she was overcome by the beckoning powers of her own dreams.

Hours later, stirred not by Gully but by the sounds of the men preparing for the workday Jenny awoke, her joints and muscles stiff. Standing she stretched, looking out the window to the activity below. Jeff Weston caught her movements from the corner of his eye. Looking up towards her, she smiled and he gave her a causal salute then continued with his work knowing he would get no response. But she had smiled.

Jenny turned her attention back to Garrick, knowing that the sedative would have worn off. After checking his pulse she tenderly placed her hand on his forehead to check his temperature. Garrick stirred, mumbled, his eyes flicked open for a moment then once again he drifted back into sleep.
Jenny left him making her way to the boy’s room which was empty and surprisingly the beds were made. She smiled, continuing down the stairs to the sound of childhood whispers coming from the kitchen. Both Boys smiled proudly as Jenny entered and saw the feast they had prepared. Bobby had indeed been busy, pancakes, fresh fruit, and fresh orange juice. At one end of the table was a small try already prepared with a small bowl of fresh fruit, a glass of juice, toast and eggs. Jenny could hardly contain her overflowing satisfaction at their achievements. “Well you two have been very industrious this morning. I expected to find you still in bed.”
Darren’s explanation was peppered with excitement. “We wanted to surprise you.” He looked to the tray. “You were asleep. Bobby reckoned we could help by making breakfast. “
At this point Bobby jumped in. “We fed Gully too.”
Jenny was touched. “I guess since you have gone to so much trouble I better eat.”
Jenny joined them at the table and over breakfast they persuaded her to finish the spy story that had been interrupted the night before. It was a lovely way to spend the early hours of the morning, not at all Jenny’s usual routine. This morning saw her relaxed, unperturbed almost cosy and Jenny was as dismayed as the boys when it had to come to an end.
“Boys we have work to do. Darren contact your father and tell him how we are. He will no doubt be here later today.”
Darren stood at attention behind his chair and saluted cheekily before bolting from the room.
“And Bobby, after such a wonderful breakfast do you think you can come up with something for you and Darren for lunch? If our guest wakes up you can give him some soup.”
“I’ve already got the stock on. I used the bone from the roast. Gully won’t mind will he?”
Jenny laughed and her eyes glistened with gladness. Bobby would grow up to be a fine young man, Darren to with the right kind of guidance. “No Bobby. I don’t think he will mind. I won’t be back till later, I am sure you two can manage.”
Bobby smiled after her a little pride birthing in his soul. He was yet to understand why Jenny was different to the other adults he knew but he was glad that she was.
Passing her office Jenny could here Darren talking to his father over the two-way radio, giving him a very vivid explanation of the past nights events. Continuing to the front door Jenny was greeted by Gully, ready for work. The yard was quiet, still, empty, the men had left much earlier.
Dr Bradley tried in vain to get his son to slow down his chattering. The nursed looked on intrigued when they realised it was Darren calling from the Norman Station. It had not taken long for the news of the crash to reach town, especially since people had heard or seen the plane overhead not long before it went down. But the nurses were more interested in the strangers who had been pulled out, listening to every word in the hopes of hearing something.
“Slow down Darren, what happened last night?”
“That man, he had a fit or something. Me and Bobby had to hold him down until Mr Weston came. He knocked Jenny across the room.”
“Mr Weston!!!!” Gasped Dr Bradley in disbelief.
“No Dad, the spy.”
Dr Bradley looked at the faces around him as he talked to his son. “What Spy.”
“The man in the bed Dad, Jenny says he is just a photographer but….”
Dr Bradley had to smile at his son’s vivid imagination but could tell by the look on the nurses faces that it would be hot gossip in the pub that night. “Darren…Is he alright?”
Finally his son calmed down a little but his mouth stilled raced. “Yeah he’s okay Dad. Jenny fixed him up real good. Gave him a needle and everything, stayed with him all night. Bobby and me made breakfast this morning.”
Between his son’s exuberant ramblings Dr Bradley managed to sift out the information he needed. “Okay Darren as long as things are fine. I will be out later on today.”
“Yeah okay. Miss Jenny said you would.” Darren paused, his voice slowed and he tried to sound as serious as he could. “Does Bobby’s mum know?”
Br Bradley stared at every staff member standing by as he answered his son’s questions. “No Darren not yet.”
Everyone knew what that look from the Doctor meant. ‘Keep your mouths shut’.
Darren finished the conversation with his father and began to run down the hall. That is until Bobby shouted at him from the kitchen. “WALK”
Darren did stop initially until he realised who had barked the order at him then continued to run into the kitchen with a smile on his face. Bobby was methodically cutting up vegetables and throwing them into the soup pot on the stove. None of this was of the slightest interest to Darren except that it was food. Bobby bit the tip of his tongue as he continued to chop while Darren wriggled on the spot watching his friend.
“I’ll go and see how he is doing.”
Bobby nodded without looking up. “Miss Jenny said she will be back tonight.”
“Dad said he’s coming to.”
Their exchange finished Bobby continued to concentrate on his vegetables and Darren headed up stairs.
Once he had checked Garrick’s temperature and bandages Darren settled himself on the chair by the window and watched his patient intensely as the morning sun moved overhead.

Jenny rode across the station more to calm her own thoughts than to survey the property. She was headed for a very special place. Gully romped alongside, playing his dangerous game between the horse’s legs. Once they got to the top of the incline Jenny let her eyes wander over the east waterhole. Below was a green, lush valley, an oasis, an unusual phenomenon for this place at this time of the year, at any time of the year. It was as if God had cupped his hands together, scooped out the dry, parched earth and replaced it with a Garden of Eden. The surrounding hills trapped this garden of beauty, a sanctuary for all the animals on the property and beyond. In the midst of tall gum trees and high grasses was the reason for such a haven. A body of water too large to be called a billabong and too small to be called a lake but that was how it was seen, as a lake. The lake was fed by an underground stream that no one as yet had found the origins. The water was always warm and clear and although there was a taste of minerals it was safe to drink. The local aboriginal tribe believing that the waters had healing powers. Jenny had been coming to the valley since childhood. There was only one entrance via a chasm, a crack in the solid walls that protected it from the outside world. Her grandfather had shown Jenny the valley long before the local tribe had bequeathed it to her as a gift for saving the life of one of their own and she guarded the valley with as much secrecy, if not more than the local tribe. Only one scar had been created on the landscape. The chasm was too narrow for cattle to be driven through and although the valley effectively belonged to Jenny, and was on the Norman Station, during a bad drought her father had asked the permission of the local tribe to pump water from the valley for their herds. Legally the Norman’s could have done what they wanted with the water, after all it was on their property but Jenny’s father and grandfather understood the deeper significance it had for the locals. So after many fireside talks it was decided, the way to keep the valley’s secrecy and allow the water to be available in times of drought was to build a pipeline so that water could be pumped away from the valley. The Norman’s laid a pipeline, buried under the red, dry earth. For the past five years the pipeline had laid dormant, as too had the pumps, hidden from view by large gum trees at the end of the valley. Maintenance of the pumps was a quarterly affair only carried out by the Norman family or Mr Weston.
Plenty of people knew about the valley, it was visible from the air but the one major fact that kept it safe was the fact that it was on the Norman Station. Trespassing was just looking for trouble.
Jenny knew by the weather patterns that if they needed the water it would be this year. Pulling on the reins of her horse they made their way across the top of the ridge. Gully knew their destination and raced ahead. Her horse was a little more wary picking its way across the rocky terrain.
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PostSubject: chapter 6   Fri Nov 26, 2010 6:59 am

Chapter 6
Back at the homestead both boys were now watching over Garrick. Bobby had made a tray of sandwiches for them, enough to feed a dozen men but then again spy watching was hungry business.
Garrick lay on his back, so motionless, looking so very peaceful, it was hard to believe what he had been through in just a few short days. Except for the stitches on his head no other injuries were apparent. All else covered by the sheets which rose ever so gently as he breathed.

Outside the day moved on quietly, the rising heat seeming to intensify the atmosphere and the boys could sense that something was going to happen. Their young bodies tensed as the hours rolled by, even as night began to engulf the land and the temperature dropped they did not relax, remaining glued to their seats, periodically sneaking a look from Garrick out the window and across the station hoping to see Jenny on the horizon.
Through the day they had both come to realise just how much responsibility Jenny had bestowed on them. They were proud that she has so much trust in them but as the hours wore on they became less confident in their own abilities. As they continued to watch Garrick, part of them hoping his condition would not change, part eager for him to stir. They both still held the belief that Garrick was a spy and their imaginations had come up with plenty of adventures for Garrick to explain away once he woke. But this time they did not have Gully to protect them and so far neither the men nor Jenny had returned.

Gingerly and with great effort Garrick moved on the bed letting out a soft groan. The boys gasped and held their breath waiting for another sign. Again Garrick groaned and moved under the sheets. The boys tried very hard to sit closer together, shoulder to shoulder. Any closer and they would have become one.
Opening his eyes, through the haze and blur Garrick could just make out the silhouette of the ceiling fan as it slowly made its journey through the air. His head hurt and his mind was confused. As he watched the fan come into focus he realised it was not just his head that ached, his whole body throbbed with pain, his throat was swollen and dry and his ears rang. Still looking at the ceiling Garrick took note of the parts of his body that cried out, trying to move his arm it felt heavy, too heavy. He heard voices through the haze and turned his head in their general direction.
“Don’t do that Mister. You’ll hurt yourself.”
Garrick blinked a few times trying to focus on the boys as they sat silently watching. Garrick slowly let his eyes follow the design of the room taking in as much detail as he could. It was not until his eyes fell on the unfinished tray of sandwiches that he realised her was hungry. Bobby had been watching and before Garrick had the chance to say anything he was on his feet, picking up the tray. “Miss Jenny said you can have soup.”
Bobby left Darren to watch the patient. The young boy not feeling very brave at all but he did manage to smile when Garrick spoke.
“Where….” Garrick’s voice crackled. “Where am I?” Garrick coughed and his chest as well as his side exploded in pain.
Darren was not backward in offering Garrick answers as he rapid fired explanations at him. “You’re at Miss Jenny’s, your plane crashed, you’ve got some broken bones, Miss Jenny stitched you up out there.” Darren pointed out the window and Garrick’s gaze followed the boys raised arm as Darren continued his rapid fire of words. “My Dad, he’s the Doctor, he fixed the rest. He’ll be back later.” Darren only stopped long enough to take a breath. “You a spy mister?”
Garrick, still trying to organise the information he had just been given was stunned by the boys question but it did make him smile. “No, sorry. Disappointed?”
Darren did not answer; it was Bobby standing at the door with try in hand. “Miss Jenny said you weren’t.”
Bobby walked over to the table and placed the soup down looking over at Darren who immediately went to the other side of the bed.
Garrick looked up into their faces. All grown up but still children.
Darren sighed. “Miss Jenny said you have to eat but this next bit is gonna hurt.”
Bobby and Daren lent over the bed putting their arms around Garrick’s body just under his shoulders. Garrick realising their intention tried to help. All he succeeded in doing was crying out in pain as they moved him into a sitting position. Once the tracks of pain around his body subsided Garrick opened his eyes and tried to breathe again. Regaining his composure Garrick looked at the bandages around his middle, the cast on his arm and touched the stitches on his head. Darren spoke while Bobby fetched the soup. “You okay mister?”
Garrick nodded his head unconvincingly and Bobby placed the tray on his legs, dragging the chair next to the bed and began to feed him. For three mouthfuls Garrick tried to intervene without much success but finally before Bobby could get any more soup in his mouth Garrick managed a few words. “I can manage on my own thanks.”
Bobby and Darren looked at each other as Bobby held another spoonful of soup in front of Garrick’ s closed mouth. Bobby tried to make his voice sound as authoritarian as possible. “Miss Jenny said to feed you and make sure you did not get out of bed.”
Garrick went to talk but found his mouth once again full of soup and had to swallow before continuing. “Who is this Miss Jenny, Your teacher?”
The boys laughed and Bobby filled Garrick’s mouth again. This time Garrick surrendered he knew he would have to finish his meal before any more conversation took place. Just as he took the last mouthful Garrick’s head began to pound and the room began to sway. Garrick looked straight ahead trying to control the urge to faint. Both boys took immediate action pulling him back done the bed so he was again prone. Darren felt his forehead. “He’s not hot.”
Bobby moved the tray which had fallen to the floor as Garrick tried to hold onto consciousness. Garrick could sense that something was happening but he was in another world, his eyes still open but his vision blurred. Suddenly the ache in his head subsided and all was silent.

Darren watched Garrick feeling helpless as Bobby darted out of the room to return with a damp cloth and placed it on Garrick’s forehead. Both boys were as white as their patient. “He okay?” Bobby asked meekly.
“Suppose, he is breathing.”
“Darren, I reckon you should call your dad.”
It was Darren’s turn to dart out of the room heading for the study when he heard the boundary gate. Darren stood on the front verandah waving to his father as he drove up. The smile on Dr Bradley’s face disappearing when he saw the worried look on his son’s. “What’s up?”
“That man, he woke up, we fed him…….. I think he sort of fainted.”
Dr Bradley was now alongside his son. “How long ago?”
“Just now. I was about to call the Base.”
Father and son entered the room to see Bobby trying to push Garrick on to his side all by himself. The boy looked up; his fright and apprehension bleeding from his eyes. “He might choke.”
Dr Bradley smiled, taking out his stethoscope to listen to Garrick’s chest then checking his temperature. Satisfied he replaced his equipment eagerly watched by the boys. “Dad?”
“He’s fine boys. I am very proud of you both.” Dr Bradley handed Darren a small bottle of tablet. “Give him one of those next time he wakes up. They should help.”
They all turned to the open window hearing Gully’s barks. With baited breath the boys watched to see if Jenny would hurdle the fence, she was barely visible cloaked by the shadow of the ensuing night. As she rode closer their hearts seemed to keep time with the pace of the pounding of the horse’s hooves on the sunbaked ground.
Darren pipped up excitedly. “Wonder when she is going to teach us?”
He had forgotten that his father was still in the room. Dr Bradley wondered what they were talking about when the night silenced as Jenny’s horse leapt the fence landing gracefully on the other side. The boys darted out of the room while Dr Bradley continued to watch from the window as they greeted Jenny with a hug and then helped her lead the horse to the stables. As the trio disappeared out of sight Dr Bradley realised he was smiling. Shifting himself into action Dr Bradley checked Garrick one more time before leaving being met by Jenny and Gully at the bottom of the stairs. If he had not known better Dr Bradley could have sworn the temperature had dropped to match the coldness penetrating from Jenny’s eyes.
“They boys are looking after Shamrock. How is he?” Jenny’s tone was flat, cold, unemotional.
Dr Bradley shivered as he tried to look through her loveless eyes. “He is fine. I think he maybe able to venture out of bed tomorrow. Maybe a shower, although that might be painful.” The Doctor pondered on his next question before asking it. “Jenny how is your arm? I would like to check it.”
As he moved Gully moved to put himself between the Doctor and his mistress. Jenny’s answer was icy. “I am fine thank you.”
Dr Bradley knew it was pointless to argue with her, keeping this in mind he dreaded his next assignment. “Bobby will have to come back to town with me tonight Jenny. His mother, she knows he is here.”
Jenny was annoyed and the Doctor was not prepared for her barrage of words. “If Bobby’s mother wants the boy home she can come and get him herself. If Bobby wants to go back with you Doctor I will not stop him.”
From behind her Bobby’s answer was swift. “I don’t want to go home.” The boy was dejected and on the point of tears.
The boy’s flanked Jenny on either side and instinctively she put her arms around their shoulders. It was Darren’s turn to make a stand. “Me either!!!!” Darren stood as tall and straight as he could, looking his father squarely in the eyes. He wasn’t at all sure if he would have felt as brave had Jenny not been so close.
“I think you have your answer Dr Bradley.” Jenny turned, leaving them to watch after her as she climbed the stairs. The boys knowing she would check on Garrick. A few moments later they heard a door close and the sound of water running. Jenny would take a bath.

Gully still sat between the doctor and the boys as they tried to persuade him to get Bobby’s mother to change her mind. “But Dad!!!! Cant you tell her something?!!!”
“Sorry boys….I already tried.” Dr Bradley placed his hand on Bobby’s shoulders but removed them just as quickly when Gully let out a small growl. “I think it would be best if you came back with me tonight Bobby.”
It would be the first time Darren had raised his voice to his father. “Dad!!!!”
He never finished as Bobby jumped in with his own answer. “No!!!!....I’m not going.” Bobby sauntered down the hall leaving father and son to walk to the car. Dr Bradley stepped off the verandah bringing him in line with his son’s height. Darren asked his father a question and he wanted answers. “Dad…. Why is everyone scared of Miss Jenny? She really is very nice.”
Dr Bradley looked at his son and realised that Jenny was right. His son was growing up. He felt the lump in his throat where his reply stuck like a painful needle. “I think Jenny should answer that.” The Doctor started hesitantly. “She changed Darren when….” He could no longer look at his son, letting his gaze drop to search the dusty ground. “When David died.”
The Doctor stood shocked, eyes clouded with tears at his son’s next statement. “So did you Dad when mum died.”
Darren stood watching is father for a sign. What he saw was the colour drain from his face and the start of a small tear in the corner of one eye.
At that moment Dr Bradley knew just how much his son understood. Darren moved even closer to his father and draped his arms around his neck patting him gently on the back while their foreheads rested together. “I love you Dad.” Darren said softly as if he were afraid someone else may hear.
Dr Bradley too overcome to speak just ruffled his son’s hair and held him tightly.

Jenny let the bath water soothe her heart and soul as well as her body. As the bubbles floated freely on the water Jenny’s mind floated through all the events that crowded her memories. She wondered about the man recovering down the hall. She felt no pain when she thought of him. He was just another person whom she would have to keep at arms length. However when visions of the plane crash emerged they wrenched at her already heavy heart. To stop herself from crying she thought about her boys and of another story for their next outing.
Gully’s barking at the return of the men and the chill in the water told her that enough time had been spent pampering herself. Standing and reaching for a towel Jenny winced just a little at the pain in her arm. Her suntanned skin glistened as droplets of water ran down the rest of her lithe body. Looking at her reflection Jenny wondered how something that looked so soft on the outside could be so cold, hard and lonely on the inside. Wrapping the towel closer around her she needed no one to tell her as Jenny felt the ache grip her heart once more.
Dressed in a fresh shirt and clean jeans she wandered down the hall to check on Garrick. Darren gave her a quick smile as she went to sit next to him. Silently Jenny took in all the features of Garrick’s face, he looked more peaceful than before a sign that the nightmares were not shattering his sleep. “Where’s Bobby?”
Darren did not take his eyes of Garrick as he answers. Neither did Jenny. “He was pretty upset. He headed for the kitchen.”
“I think I should have a talk to Bobby don’t you?”
Jenny did not see Darren’s soft smile as she left the room.

Jenny found Bobby in the kitchen clearing away his pots and pans and checking the timer on the oven. He tried desperately to smile as she entered. “I made a salad for dinner and there are scones in the oven and there is plenty of soup if he wakes up.” Bobby had looked everywhere but Jenny when he spoke so she sat at the table and beckoned for him to do the same. He obeyed quietly.
“Thank you Bobby, I am sure that dinner will be perfect.” Jenny let the silence permeate the kitchen for a few moments. “You know your mother will be here soon, she won’t be in a good mood either. Are you ready for that?”
Bobby nodded his head at her.
“You and I both know it would be a waist of time trying to explain to her.”
Bobby looked at her sadly. “I know Miss Jenny, I already packed.”
“We still have the weekends…..Bobby; your mother just doesn’t understand you yet. Give her time. You would give me time wouldn’t you?”
Again the boy nodded.
“She’ll come around in the end, you’ll see.”
Jenny waited for Bobby to look at her as she held her arms out across the table. “Can I have a hug to last until the weekend?”
Bobby moved around the table and gave Jenny a tender hug until the timer on the oven chimed. Jenny held him close and kissed him on the nose. “You know I love having you here Bobby. You and Darren make things better for me. Now, go check your scones before they burn.”
Jenny left the kitchen by the back entrance and stood in the darkness looking out; up to the hill she could not see but always felt. Silently Gully appeared at her side, watching with his mistress as always.
Dinner that night was one of the quietest that Jenny and the boys would ever spend together. All three contemplating their own individual thoughts as a heavy cloud hung over the kitchen. Jenny was scratching Gully on the top of the head when she felt his body tense and he darted down the hallway to the front door. Hearing the boundary gate the boys looked at each other, not moving as Jenny followed her dog. Bobby and Darren just sat and looked at each other. They both knew who it was……Bobby’s Mother.
Jenny was already at the front door waiting as the station wagon rolled to a stop. With a silent command from his mistress her four-legged friend went back down the hall to the kitchen. Jenny did not want Gully to intimidate Bobby’s mother. Not that she could not handle the woman on her own. There was a good deal of rage and anger in the woman’s eyes as she sprang from the car. Jenny had visions of a snake rearing to attack. A red headed cobra. But she stood with her arms folded across her chest and met the woman’s angry gaze with her own cold, steely stare. Mrs Owen’s anger and verbal abuse were matched by the fire of her short-cropped red hair. “Miss Norman I have come for my son!!!!.” Though her words were terse and loud Mrs Owen had not moved from the driver’s side of the car, keeping the vehicle as a shield between her and Jenny. Jenny’s reaction was so completely different to the one that Mrs Owen had been expecting it caught her very unaware. Although Jenny’s voice was not sweet it was tempered with a light softness that Bobby’s mother had not expected.
“Your son is in the kitchen Mrs Owen.” Jenny said no more but stepped aside, in effect giving Mrs Owen permission to enter the house. All at once Bobby’s mother stormed up the steps. She should have continued down the hall but made the mistake of stopping and eyeballing Jenny. The chill and hate from Jenny’s heart escaped through her eyes and Mrs Owen knew then she has met her match. Her only escape was to call down the hall to her son.
Slowly the two boys came from the kitchen, Bobby with a small bundle under his arm. Seeing her son Mrs Owen almost forgot about Jenny, almost. She made her second mistake by scolding the boy in front of her. “Young man, you have no right to be here now get in the car!!”
It was not Bobby that answered but rather Jenny. “He has as much right to be here as he has for you to leave him alone weekend after weekend.” Bobby’s mother remained speechless as Jenny gave her a lesson in emotional bantering. “You spend every weekend travelling to your sisters and not once have you taken the boy. Nor do you take any interest in his hobbies. You have no idea what they are, do you?!!! And you have no idea how many weekends he had spent with me. That Boy!!!” Jenny finally moved to point her finger at Bobby. “Needs to know you care!!!”
Seeming to be embarrassed by the whole affair Bobby slipped between his mother and Jenny. “It’s okay Miss Jenny.”
Jenny looked down at the boy and some softness returned to her eyes as she pulled him to her and cuddled him under her arm much to the chagrin of his own mother.
“Do you even realise that your son won the poetry competition at school last term?”
By the look on her face it was evident she did not. Jenny continued without giving the woman time to protest. “Without the help of these two our guest might not be alive. I suggest before you chastise the boy for being here you ask yourself why he comes. He knows he is needed, he knows he is cared about and not ignored.”
Mrs Owen opened her mouth to retaliate but never did, instead grabbing Bobby’s hand and dragging him through the front door. Gully who had remained out of site began to bark furiously at this point until Jenny gave him a silent command and he stopped. Bobby’s mother flashed a look of hate from the dog to Jenny as she continued to drag Bobby to the car. It was all the boy could do to shout a good bye to his friend before he was bundled into the front seat.
Darren walked up behind Jenny and put his arm around her waist and they watched Bobby leave together. “I think Bobby’s in for a belting when he gets home.”
Jenny looked down into Darren’s worries eyes. “Oh I don’t think so Darren.”
Smiling at him they walked back down the hallway in silence and Darren felt her squeeze his hand ever so gently.
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PostSubject: Chapter 7   Sat Dec 04, 2010 12:19 am

Chapter 7
Neither the morning sun nor the action outside had woken Jenny from her slumber; it was Darren’s gentle shaking of her shoulders that brought her through the haze. For one more night she had stayed by Garrick’s side, pulling herself straight in the chair Jenny could feel her muscles complaining, she rubbed her arm; it to complained. Jenny smiled as her eyes fell on the young boy standing next to her, glass of orange juice in hand. “For me?”
Darren nodded handing her the glass as his eyes wandered over Garrick.
Jenny stood and stretched but not a full stretch she still had some aches and pains that would not allow this. “Can you keep an eye on him while I see Mr Weston?”
Darren nodded and sat in the chair that Jenny had vacated, in return Jenny tussled his hair before she left. Darren took a quick glance at Garrick and then decided to finish off the half glass of juice that Jenny had left behind and watched out the window for her to enter the bunkhouse, only then did he give his full attention to the man in the bed. Without his friend he did not feel quite so sure of himself but as Garrick stirred he put on a brave face and waited. After all Miss Jenny thought he could do the job. Darren took in a silent deep breath as Garrick opened his eyes.
It took Garrick a few moments to realise where he was but it all began to come back. He did not immediately look at the boy but somehow he knew he would be there, instead he studied what he could see. Being a photographer he was tuned to pick up the little things that someone else might miss or deem to be unimportant. The first thing he noticed was the warm breeze as it washed through the open window making the lace curtains dance gently in his peripheral vision. Gully’s playful barking caught his attention then he began to separate the noise from outside into individual sounds. Gully, the sound of men in general conversation, a vehicles engine spark into life and a strange noise that was the boundary gate being open and closed, the sound of the Ute as it drifted off. It was only when all things settled into quiet that Garrick turned his attention and his head towards the boy. Darren had been sitting silently watching and only spoke when their eyes met. “You okay Mister?”
Garrick smiled weakly. “I guess.” He paused. “You where here before with another boy.”
Darren nodded eagerly. “Yeah, his mum come and took him home.”
At least now Garrick knew that one of the boys was not a resident but he still had questions. “What time is it?”
“About eight o’clock. Miss Jenny’s outside. She won’t be long.”
Once more Garrick looked around the room and when his eyes fell back on the boy the questions continued. “Before, you said the plane crashed?” Darren nodded and Garrick continued. “What about the pilot?”
Darren went pale and he swallowed hard before answering. “He was in the plane when it exploded. Miss Jenny, she dragged you out. I never seen something explode like that.”
Now it was Garrick who went pale and Darren wondered if he should have told him when he hit him with another question. “Anything left?”
“Just you.”
It seemed to Darren that Garrick sank further into his pillow as he closed his eyes and sighed. For Garrick it was hard news to take. Twelve months work gone. Twelve months of shots he would never get back. Garrick looked back at Darren and the boy knew there was another question on its way. “How long have I been here?”
They both looked in the direction of the door as they heard Jenny’s voice. “Since Saturday, it’s now Tuesday.”
Garrick looked down the bed at her and knew he had not been dreaming the other day, it was her, she was real and she was as beautiful as his dreams had made her. Though in his dreams she did not have a black eye. However, her voice, void of any emotion and as cold as ice cut through his thoughts sabotaging her beauty, he actually shivered.
As Jenny spoke to Darren, Garrick could have sworn that her voice in fact her whole countenance softened. “Darren run down to the kitchen and fix Mr Rowe some toast and juice would you.”
Without argument the boy left in silence and Jenny moved to the side of the bed. It was then that Garrick noticed Gully. “Nice dog.”
He got no reply; Jenny just bent over the bed, pulled back the sheets and began to check the bandages around Garrick’s ribs. He winced a little as she gently pushed to check his injuries. Without changing her expression Jenny continued to check Garrick and all he could do was look at her astonished by her beauty, even with a black eye and wondered what could make someone so cold. As Jenny checked his broken arm she asked him to wiggle his fingers, Garrick complied never taking his eyes off her face. Garrick stiffened and winced again as Jenny gently ran her fingers across the stitches on his forehead. Satisfied Jenny stood looking back down into Garrick’s face. “Can you sit up?”
The hurt and anger that Garrick saw in her ever so blue eyes shocked him, unnerved him. He was not sure what to say to her so he struggled to get himself into a sitting position. After several moans and groans and puffs he did manage to shuffle himself up the bed, a little miffed that Jenny made no attempt to help him except to put several pillows behind him. “You a nurse?”
“No.” Jenny gave no explanation and Garrick resided himself to the fact that she would not be coerced into idle chitchat. Just as Garrick got settled Darren arrived at the door, tray in hand. Garrick winked at the young boy. “Hi Sport.”
Darren smiled but turned his attention to Jenny. “You want this on the table?”
“No, I am sure Mr Rowe is ready for it.”
Darren placed the tray on Garrick’s knees like Bobby had done the day before and stepped back.
Garrick looked down at his meagre meal. He was hungry and what was on offer was not nearly enough. As if she has read his thoughts Jenny’s voice cut through the silence. “If you can keep this down you can have something more substantial for lunch Mr Rowe.”
“I don’t think I will have any trouble. How can I ever thank you for all you have done for me?”
Jenny’s voice was sharp and icy as she turned to leave the room. “Don’t.” Jenny gave Gully a silent command and the dog placed himself at the door.
Garrick looked to Darren as he sipped his juice. “What’s her problem?”
Darren shrugged his shoulders as he went to sit back in the chair. “She doesn’t like grown ups.”
The boys answer had astounded Garrick. “You’re kidding right?”
“No, I don’t think she likes any of them since….” Darren’s eyes fell to the floor as he changed his mind about what he was going to say. “You’ll have to ask her about that yourself.”
Once more they both looked to the door as Gully got up and moved to one side to let his mistress pass. In her arms Jenny had clean sheets, a towel and clean clothes. She put them on the bottom of the bed before she spoke. “Dr Bradley suggested you get up for a while, take a shower.” She directed her next remark to Darren. “If you need me send Gully, I’ll be in the study.”
“Yes Miss Jenny.”
Again Jenny gave Gully a silent command and once more the dog sat at the door to the room. Jenny was gone before Garrick could say anything. He made a mimicking shiver. “God that woman is cold.”
Darren shot a look of anger at Garrick and raised his voice in defence of the only adult he knew understood him. “Don’t say that!!! You just don’t understand her…Nobody does!!!”
Garrick was amazed at the affection the boy obviously had for Jenny and apologised straight away. “Hey I’m Sorry.”
Garrick finished his breakfast in silence with Darren looking out the window, Gully watching Garrick and Garrick watching the dog wondering what kind hell he had fallen into?
Sitting behind the large mahogany desk her grandfather had imported from England so many years ago, Jenny pondered over papers while listening to Garrick and Darren hobbling along the hallway above her. She heard the water running in the bathroom and Garrick’s cries of pain as well as a few well placed barks by Gully. Knowing full well they could manage without her she returned to the work at hand, continuing to open letters that Mr Weston had brought back from town. The first two were from the same publishing company to inform her that a sizable amount of money had been deposited into her bank account. The combined amounts of the letters added up to thirty thousand dollars. Jenny placed the letters in the pile on her desk to be filed without the slightest bit of enthusiasm. What she did do was turn on her computer and check her account to make sure that the funds had arrived. They had. Darren’s knocking at the door got her attention. Smiling at the boy warmly Jenny beckoned for him to enter. “You having fun up there?”
Daren smiled. “He’s heavy. I got him into the shower and got his bandages off.”
“What about his cast?”
Darren’s smile widened to a full-teethed grin. “Plastic bag.”
Jenny laughed and Darren giggled as they walked down the hallway to the bottom of the stairs, the boy looking up them and then back to Jenny. “He said he would like to stay up. Is that okay?”
“I suppose so.”
Darren took her hand and looked up at her with all the seriousness a boy of his age could muster. “He’s okay Miss Jenny.”
Jenny gave him a smile and ruffled his hair as she sighed. She knew what he was trying to say.
They both heard Gully’s barking from the top landing. “I think you better go and rescue our guest don’t you?”
Darren bolted up the stairs and for once did not hear a reprimand for running in the house.
He found Garrick in the middle of the bathroom trying to defend himself with a towel while trying to placate the dog. Gully was barking and bearing his teeth backing Garrick further back into the bathroom not about to let him out.
Darren laughed and Garrick shot him a look of dismay. “What’s with him?”
“You’re a stranger. Jenny told him to watch you.”
Darren patted Gully on the head and the dog sat down like nothing had happened.
“All I wanted to do was get to the door.” Garrick did not take his eyes off the dog.
“You ready to get dressed. Miss Jenny says you can stay up for a while if you feel up to it but don’t get in her way.”
Garrick frowned a little. “How could I with Brutus here watching my every move.”
Darren helped Garrick dry himself off and get dressed. “This is going to hurt.”
Garrick moaned. “Thanks for reminding me.” He waited for the flashes of pain to hit as Darren helped him on with the shirt and trousers that Jenny had given him. Once Garrick was dressed the boy looked at him gravely. “You’re gonna have to take the shirt off.”
“What!!!” Garrick was beside himself. “What the hell for?!!!!”
“No bandages, we didn’t strap you up. Miss Jenny will have a fit if I don’t.”
“No way!!! You are not putting any bandages on me.” Garrick wasn’t sure if he was more afraid of the pain the whole exercise would entail or the fact that a child was going to try and wrap him up.
Darren looked dejected and his feeling echoed in his voice. “Why not? I put those on you.” He pointed to the discarded bandages in the sink.
Garrick looked into the sink even more stunned. “What!!!!”
“While you were asleep. Miss Jenny showed me how.”
Garrick knew he needed strapping up but was not about to trust a child to do the job. “No thanks I’ll….”
He never finished as Darren shouted over the top of him to Gully to fetch Jenny. The dog darted from the room then Darren left and went to his room. Garrick was the last to leave. He had to hold his side as he walked and was having second thoughts about not having Darren strap him up. Entering his room he found the bed made and a pair of boots on it. The sound of Jenny’s cold, icy voice from behind made him shiver.
“Is there a problem Mr Rowe?”
Garrick winced as he turned to face not just Jenny but Darren and Gully. “The kid wants to strap me up I just….” Again he did not get to finish his sentence before Jenny cut him off.
“Darren is quite capable.” Jenny pushed the boy forward; he had bandages in his arms. “Take off your shirt Mr Rowe.”
Painfully Garrick complied, it was then he came to understand just how intimidating Jenny could be, she had made him submit, he had done so and it was too late to stand his ground. He knew it and Jenny knew it.
“If you are not happy with Darren’s work the Doctor can fix it when he arrives.” Jenny took Gully and departed leaving Garrick and Darren alone. Darren just stood and stared at Garrick waiting not sure what to do or whether Garrick was going to let him do anything.
“Okay sport. The boss lady says’ you can do it so I suppose you better get to it.”
Darren worked silent and unsmiling while Garrick tried to keep his mind off the pain by looking out the window. As he did he saw Jenny on horseback fly over the boundary fence with Gully hot on her heels. The lack of pain made Garrick look to see what the boy was doing. He was taken aback at how gentle Darren had been and above all how good and thorough a job he had actually done. Garrick had to admit that the boy knew what he was doing and he did feel much better with his ribs strapped.
The boy had not said a word feeling rejected. Garrick understood and after replacing his shirt he put his good hand on the boys shoulder. “Sorry sport. You can strap me up anytime. That’s a damn good job you did. How about you tell me how you learnt all that?”
The look in Darren’s eyes told Garrick that all was forgiven as he chatted away about what Jenny had taught Bobby and himself. He continued his spiel as they slowly walked down the stairs and out to the front verandah where Darren helped Garrick into a chair. The boy sat on the steps and enlightened Garrick on the finer points of his adventures with Jenny.
It was obvious that the boy adored Jenny and no doubt so did Bobby. It was this adoration that made it hard for Garrick to understand why this same person could be so cold and heartless. Garrick let his gaze wander across the horizon as Darren rambled on and wondered if living is such a place was the reason, surely not….. Garrick had covered a large part of Australia in the past six months; mostly the larger coastal cities and he hoped with all his heart that Jenny was not a result of outback rearing. He would be bitterly disappointed.
After a while Darren began to talk about the town. It was from listening to him that Garrick found out that Jenny’s house was on the very edge of the property about fifteen kilometres from the town. Garrick asked the boy how big the station was and all Darren could do was bulge out his eyes and stretch out his arms as wide as he could. “Big!!!! One of the biggest.”
Garrick happily spent the next few hours listening to the boy. He was a wealth of information that never seemed to dry up. He learnt that Jenny was not married, not that it surprised him, that Darren did not have a mother and that Bobby was almost fatherless, his father being away more than he was at home. He learnt that Bobby had made the soup he had eaten, about the birthday boots. It was not until Garrick spotted a dust cloud in the distance that Darren stopped talking. They both watched as it got closer and Darren recognised his father’s car. “It’s my Dad, come to check on you.”
Darren ran to the boundary gate and held it open for his father. After the Doctor had driven through his son ran back to the house and waited by Garrick.
Garrick saw the emblem on the side of the car and recognised it as the Flying Doctors. He had seen a few in Broken Hill. Garrick attempted to rise from his chair but his ribs gave him the very definite impression that they wanted him to stay right where he was. Dr Bradley smiled at his son but once he realised what Garrick was trying to do stopped him. “Stay right where you are. It is going to hurt enough without any extra effort.”
Garrick gladly slumped back down holding out his hand to greet the Doctor. “Nice to meet you Doctor Bradley.”
The Doctor was a little surprised but then looked to his son again. “I suppose he has been talking your ear off.” The men shook hands. “Nice to see you up and about so early Mr er….”
Garrick smiled. “Garrick Rowe but most people call me Rick.”
“Okay Rick, let’s have a look at you.”
While Darren looked on his father checked Garrick from head to foot, taking a keen interested in the fresh bandages and then looked at his Son. “You?”
Darren nodded. “Yes Sir.”
Dr Bradley smiled. “Good Job.”
The smile that appeared was so big and wide it threatened to crack Darren’s face. His father’s acknowledgement of his work was almost more that he could bear. He felt warm and happy inside.
Garrick threw in his own opinion. “You son has done a great job of looking after me.”
The Doctor stepped back as he finished with Garrick. “Thank you Rick, he’s a good boy but I dare say it is Jenny who has taught him more than I have.” The Doctor then looked to his son. “She’s not here is she?”
Darren shook his head.
“Yeah didn’t think so, didn’t get attacked by that dog of hers. Usually you can’t get passed the gate before he is on you.”
The all stared out across the yard as the Doctor sighed brining his home visit to an end. “Well I best be on my way. When you feel up to it drop in at the Base Hospital and see me. But….. I want you to take it easy for a while. Your body has been through a lot.”
Dr Bradley turned to his son as he stepped off the verandah. “I think you should come home tomorrow.”
Darren was about to protest but thought better of it. Instead his head sank to his chest as he answered his father in a quiet voice. “Yes Sir.”
“I think Jenny would want you to catch up on your school work don’t you?”
Darren nodded his head.
“Besides, you have to plan away to get Bobby out of town next weekend don’t you?”
The last remark brought the smile back to the young boys face. Doctor Bradley said his good byes to Garrick as Darren darted across the yard to open the gate.
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PostSubject: Re: Jenny's Justice   Thu Dec 09, 2010 5:26 am

Chapter 8
Darren and Garrick were enjoying a late lunch or rather afternoon tea when Gully’s barking announced Jenny’s return. It took all Darren’s control to subdue his urge to go running from the room and meet Jenny in the stables, so he sat restlessly at the table waiting. It did not take Jenny long to appear with Gully by her side. Garrick still found her presence unnerving and indeed Jenny was her usual frigid self, no cracks having appeared in the wall she had put up to hold the rest of the world at bay. Her cold, dark eyes fixed Garrick in his seat. “I see you are happy with Darren’s work?”
Garrick shuffled uneasily, her coldness gripping his heart as he tried to sound cheerful. Yet something in his voice betrayed him. “Yes, he’s a bright kid.”
Jenny gave Darren a kiss on the top of his head as she walked passed which made him blush. Running the water in the sink to wash her face she spoke to the boy for the first time. “I think it is time you got some fresh air.”
Even though he had been sat on the front verandah with Garrick most of the day Darren sensed the request behind Jenny’s remark and left the room taking Gully with him. The dog had hesitated for just a moment watching and waiting for his mistress to give him the signal it was all right. As soon as she did he joined his young friend out the back of the house.
Jenny closed the kitchen door, turning to find Garrick staring at her.
“Yes Mr Rowe?”
Garrick’s voice almost as stern and cold as Jenny’s had been. His words trembling behind the anger he was trying to hold back. “What is it? What the hell have I done that you would hate me so much!!?”
In defence Jenny’s words were venomous. “I haven’t known you long enough to hate you!!!!!”
Garrick rose from his seat a little awkward and just a little too fast, setting the whole world spinning. His knees weakened and buckled beneath him, his head rang out in pain. As his eyes rolled upward he could feel himself slipping, falling and all he could do was wait for the inevitable impact with the kitchen’s hardwood floor. Instead he found himself in Jenny’s arm. She had caught him on the way down, cushioning his fall with her own body. Without a word she hoisted his good arm around her shoulder and bore the rest of his weight on her hip. Garrick groaned letting the air escape from his lungs as the pain gripped his ribs.
“Can you walk?”
Even before he could answer Jenny had started to drag him up the hall, up the stairs and into his room. She did not utter a word until she had him on the bed.
“You’ve done enough for one day.” Jenny continued as she settled him on the bed. “I’ll bring you dinner later, you need to rest.”
With his world still spinning Garrick grabbed hold of her arm. Jenny neither moved nor protested, she just waited calmly. Garrick thought that maybe she softened a little but the ringing in his ears made it hard to concentrate, to think or to see clearly. He spoke as softly and tenderly as he could. “Thanks.”
Jenny patted his arm gently before removing her arm from his now weakened grip. Garrick either fainted or was overcome by his exhaustion and Jenny stole an uncharacteristic look into his peaceful face and a small smile crossed her lips.

The next thing Garrick remembered was the feel of someone gently stroking his cheek. It felt like a feather brushing over his skin. Opening his eyes he saw Jenny looking down at him. Tray in hand. He wondered if he had been dreaming about her touch. Seeing the tray he struggled to sit up. “I could have come down for dinner.”
Jenny placed the tray on his legs and stood back stiffly. “So that I could carry you all the way back up. I think not.”
Jenny paused at the door just before leaving. “Darren will be up later to collect the tray.” She had not bothered to look at him as she spoke.
Garrick looked from the space where Jenny had been standing down to the tray of food. Closing his eyes and taking as deep a breath as he could without hurting his ribs, Garrick inhaled and let the aroma of the food soothe him. Neatly arranged on the plate was broccoli, carrots and potatoes all covered with a white sauce. Next to them sat a perfectly cooked rib eye streak. Beside this was a bowl of freshly made fruit salad for dessert. Garrick wondered if he was up to eating his main meal in order to get to the dessert. He smiled at his own thoughts, his mother’s voice echoing through his mind as he remembered her scolding as a child for not finishing his meals. Putting his thoughts aside Garrick slowly ate his food while he listened to the noise of the night and the muffled laughter coming from the bunkhouse.
With his meal finished, plates empty and the tray on the bedside table, Garrick looked out the window into the night. Besides the light from the stars and those that shimmered from the bunkhouse there was no other, as the evening breeze rustled the leaves of the trees Garrick listened to the sounds. Listening hard, trying to arrange them into some kind of order. Those he knew, those that were new to him. As he felt the night air wash over his face he closed his eyes waiting for some relief from the heat. There was none. The wind was dry and hot. Although he had been in the country for over twelve months Garrick still found it hard to adjust to the extremes in the weather. He had come to expect them but it seemed the pain and ache in his body made it that much more unbearable.
Darren’s voice startled him and Garrick flinched and gasped as the pain gripped his ribs.
“Miss Jenny’ll go crook if she finds you out of bed.”
Garrick’s eyes landed on the long cool glass of beer that the boy was carrying. “For me?”
Daren handed the glass to him, its cool feel as his hands wrapped around the glass seemed to bring some small respite to the heat. Garrick took several long swallows and handed the empty glass back to Darren. “Thanks.”
As Darren placed the empty glass on Garrick’s discarded dinner tray. “She’ll go crook if she finds out you drank it that fast as well.”
Garrick could not help but smile at the boy. “So you think I am safer up here?”
“Uh huh. Miss Jenny said I got to go to bed. You look kinda tired Mister maybe you should go back to bed.”
Garrick did feel tired and although he wanted to continue the conversation he had started with Jenny he thought he would stand a better chance with a nights sleep behind him. Again he smiled at Darren. “I guess I will turn in then.”
“I’m just down the hall if you need anything.”
As the boy left Garrick’s attention was drawn to the window, looking out he took a deep breath, probably not a good thing as the pain in his ribs made him wince. Garrick sighed and gently persuaded his body onto the bed. Again he closed his eyes and listened to the sounds of this strange land he had found himself in. Somewhere between his own thoughts and the quiet humming of the ceiling fan he fell asleep. His last waking memory was that of Darren’s soft footsteps along the hall as he went to his room. Darren had in fact poked his head into Garrick’s room hoping he was still awake. He had told Jenny his father wanted him home but still feeling a little down he wanted someone to talk to. He looked back down the hall for a moment, knowing he could go back and talk to Jenny but decided just to go to bed. It would be the weekend soon enough.

Downstairs Jenny sat in the study at her computer. Even as she punched on the keys her manner never changed, she sat straight and stiff, feeling like she was being watched. The only softness that was allowed to surround her was her hair as it hung loosely over her shoulders, swaying gently with the movements of her arms. To Jenny she did feel like she was being watched all the time, by her father, her family. She still felt like she had to prove to them that she could run the Station as well as her father, her grandfather would have expected her to. It did not seem to matter that for the past two years the Station had done better than it had ever done before despite the drought and the trouble with trappers. Jenny knew that Mr Weston could run the Station and probably better than she did. She stopped typing as she thought of the gruff jackeroo, even smiling as she remembered the first time her grandfather had sat him down in the same chair she was using to teach him all about the other side of running the station. Mr Weston had been terrified and this had been before the age of computers. He could handle the toughest jobs and men around but simply quivered at the thought of doing paperwork. Far too much responsibility. Jenny threw a look across her desk, she understood his fears. Indeed the paperwork, the files, the hard drive held a great deal of responsibility with in them. Responsibility that Jenny wished she could sometimes walk away from, knowing full well that she never would.
The chime of the phone broke her thoughts. Jenny stood and stretched listening to the long distance beeps before a rather high pitched and excited female voice broke the silence.
“Can I speak to Miss Jenny Norman Please?”
Jenny’s answer as expected was formal and business like. “This is she.”
“Miss Norman…” the high pitched voice was apprehensive. “My name is Samantha, Samantha Butler.” There was silence as Jenny waited. “I know Eric said not to call except in emergencies but could I speak to him?”
Jenny relaxed and smiled as she sat back down behind her desk, her voice soft and caring as she spoke. “Is there something wrong Samantha?”
Samantha seemed to compose herself just a little as Jenny’s caring manner filtered down the line. “Oh no. Everything is fine. It’s just….”
Jenny cut her off. “This call will be costing you a bit, give me your number and I will call you back Samantha.”
“Oh no I couldn’t.”
“Nonsense, what’s the number?”
Samantha relinquished the number and hung up. With in moments Jenny had dialled and the two women were talking once more. “Now that was not so bad was it? Just think of it as a gift for the baby. You talk as long as you like Samantha just hold on while I fetch your husband.”
Jenny left the office and Gully came out of his sleeping hole under the desk to follow her. As they entered the bunkhouse all fell silent as she knew it would. Mr Weston rose from his seat at the table where he had been playing poker with some of the other men and by the look of the money in front of him he was not doing to badly.
Jenny flashed her eyes around the room until they fell on young Eric. All other eyes fell on him as well. Her voice was cold as she spoke. “Your wife is on the phone……My office.”
Eric knew the rules and thought the worst. Without hesitation he ran passed Mr Weston, passed Jenny, out of the bunkhouse and across the yard.
“Jenny is everything alright?” Mr Weston’s voice sounded the concern that was reflected on the other men’s faces.
“Yes.” Jenny left the men to query over the situation but did not immediately go back to the office, rather walking to the back of the house and sitting outside looking into the darkness until she heard the front door fly screen bang as Eric left. Only then did she return to the office, dialling Samantha’s number. “Samantha it is Jenny Norman again? Is everything alright?”
The two women talked for a while and Samantha informed Jenny that the baby was due in two weeks, explaining some of the mother’s anxiety. They chatted about the baby and Jenny gave Samantha strict instructions to let her know when the baby arrived. When Jenny finally put the phone down she felt warm inside. Children seemed to warm her soul when nothing else could. Deciding she was finished for the night Jenny went to close the front door, glancing over at the bunkhouse as she did.

In the bunkhouse Eric Butler was a mess as he tried to explain the conversation he had just had with his wife. As he revealed each detail there was raised eyebrows, nodding of heads and murmurs of disbelief. “I tell ya Sam said that Jenny paid for the call, even asked how the baby was doing.”
As the others murmured Mr Weston look out across the yard to the main house a small knowing smile creeping across his face.
Eric continued to ramble. “But that’s not the worst part. Sam was mad at me for not sending anything for the baby.”
One of the older men spoke up. “You mean she rang to give you a belly full!!!!”
“No, no!!!! That is just it. She called to say thanks for all the stuff I sent…..The cot, the blankets, the clothes. All sorts of baby stuff. But I didn’t send any of that.” He looked around the room. “I didn’t tell Sam that but she swears it all arrived addressed from me.”
Mr Weston made a slow turn from the door. “You better make sure that Jenny doesn’t dock your pay.”
“What!!!!” It was Eric that shouted but all the other men looked at Mr Weston with surprise.
“Jenny sent the stuff. Who do you think paid for old Mac’s funeral and headstone? His lot sure’s hell didn’t.”
Another man spoke up. “Well, well, seems the Ice Queen does have a heart after all.”
Mr Weston looked sadly back across the yard. “Not that it shows.” Sighing he gave his men a quick look. “Mind you, she’d cut yours out if she thought you deserved it.”
The room fell silent; every man in it knew he was right.

It was late by the time Jenny finally climbed the stairs with her ever-faithful Gully. Reaching the bathroom she stretched and rubbed the arm where the stitches were but ignored the pain. After showering and changing Jenny walked down the hall to her room, ready to shut out the world for a few hours. Instead she opened the door wider and walked down the hall to Garrick’s room looking every bit like an angel as her nightgown flowed out behind her. Jenny did not find him sleeping but sitting in the chair staring out the window into the night. Her voice like Darren’s startled him a little. “Is there anything wrong Mr Rowe.”
As he turned to look at her she could see his face was flushed and it was not just from the night’s heat. Sweat dripped from his brow and his body was trembling every so slightly under his clothes. As Jenny looked into his eyes she could see a change, she was convinced he was frightened of something.
As Garrick looked at Jenny, the winter behind her eyes brought him back to reality but he could not ignore her beauty.
“Bad dream.”
Jenny could hear his ambiguity as he spoke and her reaction was not the one Garrick had been expecting but he was glad of it.
“Would you like to talk?”
“I could do with some company for a while.”
Jenny crossed the room and held her hand out for Garrick to take. Garrick looked at her a little bemused. “You should get back into bed.”
Garrick obeyed and was grateful as his body was cocooned by the mattress. How could he tell her what he really needed was for someone to hold him, tell him everything was going to be alright. He still did not understand how she could be so cold, so distant, so guarded and yet he had seen signs of another person when she was with the boys.
Just as he was adjusting his thoughts Jenny did something he really did not expect. Instead of sitting on the chair she sat on the edge of the bed and took his hand gently in her own. Her eyes gave away no secrets, nor did her smile. Garrick didn’t care, she was close and he needed someone.
He squeezed her hand “Thanks.”
Jenny’s expression did not change but she did not pull away either, sitting calmly by his side. Garrick did not know it but it was taking all she had. “Sometimes it helps to talk.”
Garrick sighed before he spoke again. “The pilot, he died in the explosion.”
“No.” Garrick looked at her questionably as she continued. “He was dead before the plane exploded. There was nothing anyone could have done.”
“I feel like it was all my fault. If I hadn’t hired the plane.” Garrick sank further into his pillow and closed his eyes.
“It was no ones fault, especially not yours.”
Garrick looked into her eyes for a flicker of a feeling to be carried on the words that sounded so right. Jenny was still matter of fact in the rest of her reply. “If you had been coming in any faster you both would be dead.”
Jenny sat patiently listening to Garrick, more patiently than she had thought possible. At first it had felt so unnatural but as the night continued it became less so and his voice seemed to touch something in her. Ever so gently, however that was as far as she would let her feelings drift.
Sitting quietly she waited for his speech to falter and his eyes to flicker for the last time as he finally fell asleep. Prying her hand free instead of finding comfort back in her own bed, Jenny settled back into the chair. She watched him sleep; the gentle contours of his face, the slow rise and fall of his chest, the way wisps of his hair seemed to float as the breeze from the ceiling fan caught them. Suddenly Jenny realised what she was doing, turning her head to gaze out across the blackness trying to race her thoughts to some far off place. In time she did, drifting off to sleep.

Hours later with the sun casting its first morning shadows over the station a murmur woke Jenny from her slumber. She was stiff and ached from her unusual sleeping position but her joints were all but forgotten as she looked at Garrick. He was restless, his whole body twitching and trembling. Visions of the other night rushed through her mind as Jenny sunk to her knees at the side of his bed. Tenderly she ran her fingers across his damp forehead while she tried to keep his body still with her other hand. Garrick’s mumbles intensified turning into shouts and screams. Gully, who had been watching silently from the door barked and with in seconds Darren was by his side, his voice nervous “Miss Jenny????”
Jenny gave the boy a command but her voice was not harsh. “Take Gully out side and make sure he stays out.”
All the while Garrick had been fighting a battle in his dreams, a battle of fire and pain. With the boy and dog gone Jenny began to talk to Garrick again, quietly, lovingly, soothingly in the hopes that he would do no more damage to his already battered body. His cries grew as he tried to ward of the invisible foe thrashing with his arms. Jenny held onto him with all her strength pinning him to the bed. Garrick jerked his head as he opened his eyes and let out his last tortured cry. “Noooooooooooo.”
Dazed and confused Garrick had no idea where he was, all he could see was the angel before him, her sweet voice the only thing he could focus on.
Listening to her Garrick brought his breathing under control, wiped a hand across his forehead to stop the sweat from running down his face and began to relax. As soon as she felt this Jenny released her grip but continued to talk to him. Garrick closed his eyes and listened to her sweet tones as she gently brushed his wet hair from one side of his face and smoothed away droplets of sweat that had gathered under his eyes. Her touch was soft and tender, so to was her voice.
“I think you should do something about those dreams.”
Opening his eyes he stared at her with a little apprehension. As they made eye contact Jenny stopped her hands gentle journey across his face and rested them on the bed. Garrick’s voice was a little hoarse. “How long have you been here?”
“Long enough to try and stop you from screaming the place down.” Jenny’s voice had grown colder as she finished her sentence. “I think you should make a trip to the crash site when you are up to it, see for yourself how it ended.” Jenny paused. “You up to having a shower. It might help?”
Garrick was struggling with his dreams, they felt so very real, had Jenny touched him softly or had that been a dream as well? Garrick shifted himself into a sitting position. He had slept in his clothes and they were wringing wet, his ribs hurt and his arm throbbed.
Jenny rose to her feet and waited for an answer. It was obvious that he had not heard her. “Mr Rowe… Do you fell like having a shower?”
Garrick nodded his head as he stood to face her but his words were full of hurt and confusion. “How can you be so damn cold hearted! You have no compassion at all do you?”
Garrick got hold of one of her shoulders and Jenny fought hard to squelch the urge to knock him over. Her body tensed and she waited for the explosion of words that were to come. “Jesus…you can’t even show a sign of concern for me, for the pilot….anything!!!.” Garrick was frustrated, he wanted to get through to her but he had no idea how to do it. She just stood glaring at him so coldly it made his shiver. He had known almost before he had started to rant that it has been a mistake.
Jenny pried his fingers from her shoulder and spoke slowly and coldly. “Mr Rowe, my emotions or lack of them are none of your concern.”
If it was possible Garrick saw her eyes get darker, her body tense. Even though she was talking in an even tone he could feel the rage she was keeping trapped inside. “As for the pilot…He’s dead. And you…. You have just demonstrated that you are well on your way to a recovery. I will have Mr Weston take you to the west boundary after breakfast.” Jenny left the room in a gush of fiery silence.
Garrick mad at himself more than Jenny pounded the wall with his good hand.
To Jenny, Garrick had just re enforced her feelings towards and about others. No matter who they were they always would hurt her in the end. Her heart ached but not for Garrick because of Garrick. She had let her guard down, she had been weak. It would not happen again.

By the time Jenny got to the kitchen she had composed herself, no sign of what had just taken place, her smile was bright and her manner cheerful. Darren smiled up at her from behind a jug of freshly squeezed orange juice and Gully darted out the back door to chase a bird.
“Been taking lesson from Bobby I see?”
Daren acknowledge her question by a smile but he his own question concerned Garrick. “He’s alright isn’t he?”
“He’s just fine but I think he would like some of your juice.”
Darren deftly poured a large glass of juice and headed out of the kitchen. Just as he got to the door her turned, smiled and blushing a little looked into Jenny’s eyes. “Miss Jenny you look very pretty…Honest.”
Darren bolted out of the room faster than she could think. It was then that Jenny realised she was still wearing her nightgown. She made her way back up the stairs to the sound of running water and Darren sitting on the floor outside the bathroom. “Said he’d call.”
“I see.”
Jenny returned to the hall a short time later dressed as she always did. Looking down at Darren, her hair settled over her shoulders. “I’ll be back on Friday and I expect to see you sometime over the weekend.”
Somehow knowing that Jenny would not be at the Station made the prospect of having to go home easier.
“Make sure Mr Rowe has something to eat and there is a silver suit case in the study. I want you to give it to him before you leave.” Jenny kissed the young boy on the top of the head. “Thanks for all your help.” She left him to contemplate what could happen over the next few days. Moments later his thoughts broken by the muffled, painful groans coming from the bathroom and he went in to help.

Garrick was finishing off his breakfast when there was a knock at the rear entrance to the kitchen. Mr Weston took off his hat and stepped over the threshold. He smiled at Darren and held his hand out for Garrick which he shook across the table. “Miss Jenny said you wanted to check out the west side today.” He looked down at Garrick’s empty plate. “You ready mate?”
It was obvious that Mr Weston was not a man to stand around when there was work to be done and Garrick had a sneaking suspicion he was costing him time. He was about to answer when Darren jumped from his seat. “Wait!!! Miss Jenny said she had something for you.” He darted from the room leaving the two men alone.
Mr Weston cleared his throat. “You look better than you did the other night mate. Gave us all a fright.”
Garrick’s stunned look gave him away and Mr Weston knew he had no idea what he was talking about. “Jenny never mentioned it?”
“Mentioned what Mr Weston?”
“Name’s Jeff. You were pretty strung out. Took two of us to hold you down. Mind you Jenny did a bloody good job before we got to you. I’m surprised that shiner on her face isn’t worse after the way you flung her across the room.”
Garrick was mortified. “What!!! I did what??!!”
Garrick did not get his reply as Darren walked back into the kitchen carrying the silver case that Jenny had rescued from the plane. Garrick’s heart jumped and a smile cut across his face at the sight of the case. He ran his fingers through his hair in anticipation as he watched Darren put the case on the table amongst the breakfast dished. He touched it like it was alive. Opening the case it revealed his cameras, in tact and his film cards. He looked from Mr Weston to Darren. “I don’t understand. I thought I had lost the lot in the explosion?”
Darren just shrugged his shoulders and Mr Weston began to shuffle his feet. “We’d best be off then.”
Garrick pulled a camera from the case and followed Mr Weston who had already disappeared out the back door; turning back he smiled at Darren. “Catch you later little buddy.” And he to was gone.
Daren cleared away the breakfast dishes and hearing the gate he knew that soon he too would have to leave. His shoulders dropped a little at the thought.

Garrick’s ride in the Ute was less than comfortable; he shuffled uneasily in his seat trying to adjust his posture to cope with the throbbing pain that caught his breath. As they drove across the Station Mr Weston was very aware of Garrick’s struggle, even driving like he was, quite a bit slower and less recklessly than normal there was not much he could do to help him. A rough road was a rough road. It was obvious by his silence and the expression on his face that Garrick’s ribs were none to happy about this little trip. Garrick wondered if this had been Jenny’s way of getting back at him for his little out burst earlier.
Mr Weston slowed the Ute down a little more and paid attention to trying to miss the roughest patches in the road. Not an easy task. “If you want to head back she’s right with me mate.”
Garrick held on to the open window with his good arm and pondered the thought for a moment before giving his reply.
“No Mr West….Jeff I’m okay.”
“You sure mate? No skin off my nose.”
Garrick still experiencing the lingering pain could only nod his head and clench his teeth. He was not going to give Jenny the satisfaction no matter how bad he felt.
They both watched the road more intently from then on.

Travelling through the landscape Garrick tried to absorb the scenery before him as a photographer to keep the pain from tugging on his mind. The vast expanse of the station overwhelmed him. The mere thought that one property could be so large and hold so much contrast. The vast red plains sparsely covered with Spinifex, odd-looking plants that he had never seen before, then to see gum trees extending themselves majestically into the piercing blue sky as if they were praying for rain. As they got closer to the hills the landscape changed ever so slightly, reds and orange sang their song between browns and greens, a harsh land that Garrick had a hard time believing people volunteered to live in where life seemed to be a constant battle. He looked across to Mr Weston who was concentrating rather deeply on his driving not that it was helping to miss any of the bumps in what little road there was. “Jeff.”
Mr Weston shot a quick look at Garrick before returning his eyes to the road. “Yes mate.”
“Why do you live out here?” Garrick washed his hands over the scenery before him. “It seems so……” He could not find the words he wanted.
“You a city fella?” Mr Weston did not take his eyes of the road.
Which to an untrained eye looked like it had all but disappeared. Garrick thought it had. “I guess you could say that. Spent the best part of the last ten years in L. A.” Garrick saw Mr Weston’s puzzled look. “Los Angeles.”
A smile crept across Mr Weston’s face but it was gone a second later when they hit a hole neither one of them had seen until it was too late. Garrick winced and Mr Weston apologised continuing with the conversation. “Sorry mate. You city fella’s never understand the bush. You got to be born into it. Most times anyway. I tried the city once. Everyone push’n an shuv’n, no time for each other, depressing place. Now out here, plenty of room, plenty of time. It takes a city fella a long time to see the beauty behind it all.”
Garrick smiled as Mr Weston educated him on the finer points of bush living, something he did with deep love and affection. Garrick found it hard to believe that a man who looked so hard, worn and weathered could talk about his home like it was a beautiful woman. In spite of himself Garrick was intrigued by Mr Weston’s philosophy. A very simple formula for life. He liked it so he stayed. Garrick let Mr Weston ramble on for the rest of the trip happy to listen as it kept his mind off the burning pain in his side.
As if on cue Mr Weston came to the end of his story as they rounded the tree that Jenny and the boys had picnicked under just a few days before. Until his eyes fell on the blacked patch of earth where the plane had been Garrick had forgotten what the trip was all about. His heart sank. Slowly getting out of the Ute Garrick eased his body into a standing position not wanting to cause himself any unnecessary pain but all the while his eyes were locked on to the scorched earth.
Mr Weston had already wandered over to the edge of the burnt ground, his hands dug deep into his pockets looking like he was lost in another memory. “Looks like one of those UFO things people reckon the keep seeing.”
Garrick stood next to Mr Weston with his good arm thrust into his jean pocket. His face pale and mournful. Even without the remnants of the plane, which he assumed would still be there; the thought that he could have been part of the ashes was a very sobering. The situation was more disturbing than he was willing to admit.
“Don’t know why you wanted to comeback.” Mr Weston looked at the camera slung over Garrick’s shoulder. “You want to take photos?”
Garrick did not move, just stood looking down at the barren, burnt earth as disjointed memories flashed through his mind he understood why Jenny had wanted him to come. Before him lay the ending to his nightmares, the final chapter. Garrick knew then that he would no longer wake up in a cold sweat wanting to know what the end to his dreams would bring. There it was.
Garrick did not know it at the time but the crash site was as disturbing for Mr Weston as it was for him or he may have understood why he was in a rush to leave. “You ready to head back?”
Garrick shuffled his shoes on the edge of the ashes before turning towards the Ute. Smiling weakly at Mr Weston and patting him on the back before both men silently walked back to the ute.
Mr Weston turned on the ignition but not immediately head back for the homestead. “Wasn’t your idea was it…coming here?”
Garrick tugged on his camera strap. “No.”
“You up for a detour mate?” Mr Weston’s question seemed to change the mood just a little.
“Sure I think I could handle a small detour. What’s up?”
“Got to check one of the choppers. It’s been a bit crook lately.”
“I didn’t see any choppers.”
Mr Weston chuckled a little to hide his inner feelings. “No, Jenny wont have them near the house. They’re hauled up far enough away so she can’t hear them.”
“That’s crazy….Why would she do a thing like that? Doesn’t it just make more work for you?”
“Jenny has the answer to that. But don’t expect one. She’s not much into answering questions.
“So I’ve noticed.”
Mr Weston got a little defensive. “Don’t get me wrong. She’s a great kid deep down. He paused a little. “She’s had a rough time. You’ll find some of the answers you want on the hill behind the house.” Mr Weston changed the topic of conversation before he was pulled into something he would rather forget. If the crash site had upset him so much he had to wonder what it was doing to Jenny.
“You are welcome to join the blokes while Jenny’s away, keep you company.”
Garrick was surprised at the invitation, he had no idea that Jenny would not be at the house when they returned. “How long will she be away?”
“Oh, she’ll be back late Friday early Saturday always is.”
Garrick was no closer to finding out where Jenny had gone and knew it was a waste of time trying to pry anything out of his chauffer and hoped that by accepting the offer the other jackeroos could be more forthcoming with information. “Well if she is going to be gone until Saturday I would like to join you and the men. Thank you Jeff.” Garrick winced as they hit another bump in the road and tried to focus on his surroundings to once again stop the pain but this time a different pain invaded his senses, a sorrow as well as a wanting. Wanting to understand this woman they called Miss Jenny.

They were several hundred metres away from what Mr Weston had affectionately called the garage when Garrick spotted the building. A huge galvanised building with three of its walls missing. It was more like a tin roof suspended on steel posts with a single wall at the rear. It was deserted except for a single helicopter in the middle of the vast space.
Mr Weston pulled the Ute in under the shade of the roof next to the helicopter. Once again, in slow movements Garrick got out of the Ute. He was beginning to wonder if he should have just gone back to the house not sure if the heat that assaulted his body was coming from with out or with in. The only sounds he could here were the creaking of the tin roof, a humming he could not place and the deafening silence of the heat. He certainly hoped that was the case. That the dry, still, hot heat was the reason he was finding it hard to breathe, finding it hard to extract the oxygen he needed from the air. Garrick could feel the sweat trickling down his body under an already perspiration soaked shirt. His arm throbbed and his head ached. Watching Mr Weston wandering over to the helicopter it seemed as though he was not affect by the heat in the least and for a split second Garrick worried that, he was actually burning up with a fever.
On the back wall of the shed was a workbench that ran almost the full length of the building. On it sat an array of tools and machine parts. Garrick had no idea what the parts were for; the only mechanics he knew were those concerned with his camera. He could dismantle and re assemble a camera faster than most people can tie their shoes. That was the extent of his mechanical experience, he knew at home if something went wrong with his car he would have to call for help. Looking around he wondered whom you called out in this vast space of emptiness? The situation so amused him he decided to take a few shots. He looked very clumsy as he pawed the camera with his cast arm.
Hearing the unfamiliar sound of the camera Mr Weston’s attention shifted from the work that had so engrossed him, he had completely forgotten that Garrick was with him. A big beaming smile crept across his face. “You better not let the authorities see those. Burst a blood vessel they will. I’m not a mechanic.”
“You seem to be doing okay.”
Mr Weston already had his head stuck back in the engine compartment. “Nah. I’ve been tinkering with stuff since I was a lad. Jenny’s Granddad taught me about these brutes. Even got my licence.” He chuckled. “But old Terry Norman reckoned I was safer on the ground and if I could keep his old heap of a car going I could do the same for these.”
Garrick was still snapping away. “Must be pretty rough working out here?”
Mr Weston banged and tinkered with the engine. “Never had a problem we couldn’t fix mate.” He looked off into the distance for a split second. His last comment was not entirely true. There was Jenny.
Mr Weston strained with a bolt. “There that should do it. Other choppers will be here when we need em.”
Garrick watched intently as Mr Weston climbed into the pilot’s seat and brought the helicopter to life. It shuddered and groaned a few times then the propellers started to move. Garrick saw the smile on Mr Weston’s face before he cut the engine and jumped down. “I think I should get you back. Didn’t want to say it but you look pretty crook mate.”
Garrick half smiled. “Thanks….”
“Reckon I shouldn’t have stopped here. The heats not helping you at all is it. I got something should fix us both.”
Mr Weston walked half way down the shed; Garrick had expected him to return with medication but smiled when he saw the two cans of beer in the old man's hands. “Get that stuck into ya. Better than any blood pills.”
The surprise crossed Garrick’s face as he grasped the beer. It was cold, very cold. Mr Weston answered his unspoken question. “Generator for the lights. Helps keep the beer cold too.” Mr Weston’s laugh boomed around the shed as he raised the tin to his lips. Garrick had to smile. “Here’s to the wet season.”
Mr Weston raised his now half-empty can in the air and knocked it gently against Garrick’s. “I’ll drink to that.”
As the cold beer slid down his throat, Garrick did feel a little relief and was pleased for the small mercy. However, he was not looking forward to the ride back to the house. If they had not stopped at the garage Garrick would have had to ask Mr Weston to pull over.
By the time Mr Weston had finished drowning Garrick in beer they had consumed a slab between them. Mr Weston did not look any worse for wear and although Garrick did not look any better than he had a few hours ago, he felt no pain. His legs were having a hard time understanding the commands his brain was sending and his headache had turned to fuzz.
They literally poured themselves into the ute and although Mr Weston tried hard to keep to the road it really did not matter. They joked and laughed all the way back to the house. Garrick was so drunk he had not winced or felt any pain the whole trip back. Even his laughter had no painful effect on his body. Not yet at least. The effects of the large consumption of alcohol had not even started to wear off as they got to the boundary gate. Mr Weston pulled the ute to a rolling stop. Both men sat silent looking at the gate before them. Mr Weston took a deep breath. Opened his door and planted his feet firmly on the ground before he stood. Taking another deep breath, he slowly stood. Instantly his legs buckled underneath him, Mr Weston hit his chin on the door handle as he fell to the ground swearing. “Shit….”
Garrick laughed but dared not move. He watched with amusement as Mr Weston stumbled back onto his feet, momentarily balancing himself against the ute. Then tried very hard to walk erect the few paces it was to the gate. If Garrick had been sober he would have taken the opportunity to take some very candid shots. On this occasion however it would have been right to say his brain was functioning less adequately than Mr Weston’s. Garrick closed his eyes and watched as a kaleidoscope of colours and shapes exploded beyond his eyelids. It only took a few seconds for his world to start revolving a break neck speed. His eyes flew open and he tried to concentrate on Mr Weston as he stumbled back to the ute, feeling the nausea trying to escape up his throat.
Mr Weston was back in his seat by the time Garrick had composed himself. They drove through the get when Mr Weston lurched over the steering wheel and whimpered. “Oh God I gotta close the bloody gate.” He put his hand on the door handle without looking. “Bloody Hell!!!!”
Garrick could only watch. He was in no state to help and was more worried about how he was going to get from the ute to the house then up all the stairs to his room. He had not even considered staying on the ground floor.
Mr Weston staggered back into the ute. “If Jenny catches us like this she’ll tan our hides in the summer sun with us still in em.” He shot a quick look at Garrick as he put the ute into gear. “You feel no pain right?”
Garrick answered from his own world of turmoil. “Not yet.”
“Oh shit mate we’re gonna be crook.”
As they pulled up outside the front of the house neither man moved.
“Come over to the bunk house when you are up to it mate.”
Garrick was still looking ahead out the front window wondering how he was going to get out when he felt his knees connect with the door. Somehow a message to move had made it through but Garrick had no idea he was actually moving. It took him a few goes to get his hand round the handle to open the door. He felt like he was standing outside his body watching not actually participating. He did manage to get out of the ute and stayed on his feet, swaying just a little, his cast shifting his centre of gravity so he felt lopsided. Pushing his shoulders back and holding his head too high in the air he bid Mr Weston fair well, turning slowly to take the few steps to the verandah. Garrick thought he had done very well until he got to the front door where he swayed a little too much to one side and had to hold himself up by the doorframe. Watching the hallway swimming in front of him did not boost his confidence that he was going to make it to his room.
Mr Weston smiled to himself before driving off to the bunkhouse to sleep off the rest of the afternoon. With any luck he would be right as rain before the other men got back. He was not at all sure about Garrick.
As Garrick held onto the banister half way up the stairs Mr Weston’s invitations was the furthest thing from his mind. Step by slow stumbling step he managed to get to the top floor without to many halts. Leaning against the wall next to the door to his room he took a few deep breathes, big mistake. His next mistake was lying on the bed. Garrick had no idea that the world could spin at such a rapid rate but he was too drunk and too exhausted to even contemplate getting back up. So there he lay until sleep saved him from any other nasty experiences. Garrick slept through the heat of the afternoon waking to the thunderous pounding in his head, an ache in his body that seemed to be gnawing at his very soul and an overwhelming urge to throw up. Lurching from the bed, his ribs screaming in pain as he made his way down the hall to the bathroom knowing what he was about to do next would hurt him more than his ribs did. Leaning over the basin Garrick emptied his stomach of the beer he had consumed earlier. He gripped the edge of the basin with his good hand white knuckled as the pain shot through him. He felt like his body had been shattered into a million pieces and someone had tried unsuccessfully to put him back together. Humpty dumpty came to mind. He caught the image of the shower in the mirror and thought a good long shower was what he needed. This however presented a completely new set of problems. He had to undress. Knowing how much it would hurt Garrick stood and pondered his situation for a few moments. Either way it did not looked good. So with huffs and puffs and groans and a few loud and colourful curses thrown in he managed to get undressed.
Garrick stood in the shower letting the cold water splash his face, it felt so good, brisk and refreshing. Hitting the back of his neck as he dropped his head forward the water seemed to wash away the day’s pain. That was until he moved. The cold water had done wonders for his fuzzy mind but absolutely nothing for his sore and aching muscles. Even so he stood under the stream of cold respite for a long time, his cast arm held above his head so not to get it wet, the bandages from his ribs discarded in the sink and his thoughts wandering back to his trip to the crash site. Having made the trip Garrick knew or thought he knew he was capable of a trip into the town to see the doctor, maybe finding a place to stay until he was well enough to continue with his work. Then his thoughts jumped to Jenny, he wanted to stay on the station. That woman infuriated him yet intrigued him at the same time. She fascinated him and he wanted to get to know her, really know her. If Garrick had realised what he was thinking and how much trouble it was going to cause he would have packed his bags that very afternoon. He now had a subject to study and he’d be damned if he would give up without a fight. He remembered what Mr Weston had said about the hill behind the house. After the shower that was going to be his next stop.
Trying to dry himself after his shower was another painful experience but it was only painful by half thanks to the unrelenting heat. After drying his top half he had no intention of bending in the middle to do the bottom half of his body. Looking down at his legs he smiled. They were dry. The heat had done his work for him and for the first time since getting to Australia he was glad it was so hot. Knowing that there was no one in the house he wondered back to his room naked, the only part of him still damp was his hair, the bruise from his damaged ribs clearly visible now he was not wearing his bandages to protect them. The stitches on his forehead were also exposed, they were small, delicate and neat. Jenny had supplied him with a range of clothes which hung in a small wardrobe in his room. Standing with the door open he chose a shirt and trousers not unlike the ones he had been wearing only the colour was different. The other clothes had been cream in colour. Garrick had chosen a shirt with red flecks running though its checked pattern and a dark blue pair of jeans that looked like they had never been worn. That was the easy part, putting them on was not going to be fun. Garrick’s head was now clear enough to feel the full impact of the pain coursing through his body. He sighed a little as he sat in the chair but then yelled as he put on the jeans. Waiting to catch his breath before putting on the shirt he looked out over to the bunkhouse and saw Mr Weston on the verandah smoking. Garrick made his mind up, he was going to get Mr Weston to re bandage his ribs before he went any further. Garrick has seen his own sandshoes in the wardrobe so instead of fighting with the boots he slipped his feet into them not bothering to do up the laces.

Mr Weston smiled beyond the smoke of his cigarette watching Garrick slowly make his way across the yard. Looking at the bundle in his arms and the naked top half of his body it was not hard to understand what he was going to ask. Those bruises said it all. Mr Weston was surprised at how well Garrick looked considering the morning they’d had. But as he got closer the old man could see that Garrick was struggling with the pain as well as a hangover.
Garrick smiled from the side of his mouth. “Mr Weston.”
Mr Weston took the last drag of his cigarette before throwing it on the ground to stamp out its life. “Jeff, Just plain Jeff.”
“Sorry Jeff.” Garrick held up the bandages in his good arm. “Would you mind it hurts like hell.”
Mr Weston smiled. “I reckon your head hurts just as much about now. Want another beer to kill the pain?”
Garrick shot him a look of disgust handing him the bandages. “Very funny…..”
Mr Weston patted him on the back a little too heartily while guiding him into the bunkhouse. Garrick held his breath and gritted his teeth as they passed through the door.
“Take a seat and we’ll fix you up in no time.”
Even before Mr Weston had finished Garrick felt better, even his headache seemed to have eased. Garrick also noticed that Mr Weston looked none the worse for their exploits and wondered if he did that sort of thing very often. Mr Weston let go with a booming laugh as he replied. “Every chance I get mate. Every chance I get. We head into town on a Friday and don’t come back till Sunday night. What do you think we get up to?”
Garrick shook his head amazed at how quickly Mr Weston had recovered but then if he’d had the experience of the old bushman he may have recovered just as well. Truth was he did not have the experience and he had not recovered nearly as well.
The two men talked and exchanged stories for a while when Garrick remembered the hill. He needed to look at it while Jenny was away. Excusing himself he told Mr Weston he would be back when he heard more signs of life. Mr Weston watched Garrick disappear around the side of the house. “I hope you know what you are getting into Rick my boy. There’s a lot of pain up there on that hill.”

Garrick stood on the outside of the small white fence that surrounded the small cemetery holding onto the top of it with his good hand. In front of him were the backs of six marble crosses that looked down on six neatly kept graves. He had half a mind to turn around and go back down the hill but when he saw the small gate he knew he had to go in. The gate did not creek as he had expected when he pulled it open. The only sound was that of the latch as it settled back into place as he shut the gate behind him. Slowly he walked to the front of the graves peering down at six small head stones nestled at the foot of each cross. The first two he saw seemed a little different to the others, a little older maybe. The first cross had the name Julie M Norman engraved in it and her stone read.
Beloved wife, mother and daughter
You gave your life to give life to another
Julie had died thirty three years before going by the date. The next cross and stone read.
Bernadette Norman
Beloved wife, mother and grandmother
Her passing had been seven years after Julie. Garrick’s eyes fell on the name on the next cross. Matthew (Matt) Norman. His epitaph simply read ‘I loved you and lost you’ and the date. Garrick’s eyes flashed from Matthew’s stone to the next and the next. All four stones had the same inscription on them only the names were different.
Trevor Norman, Grandad. I loved you and lost you
Simon Norman, Brother. I loved you and lost you
David T.M Norman, aged 7, Son. I loved you and lost you.
Garrick’s stomach turned as he realised that they must have all died together just over two years ago and if his assumption was right Jenny had lost most, if not all of the members of her family in one horrible moment. Garrick tried to put himself in Jenny’s shoes, tried to imagine how it would feel. He couldn’t, all he felt was sorrow. A deep aching sorrow, an aching that had Jenny’s name written on it.
From talking to Mr Weston Garrick knew that Julie had been Jenny’s mother and died given birth to her. With the information he had from the stones he understood who the others were but David T.M Norman he was unsure about. Pushing the information around in his mind he came up with three choices. David was Matthew’s child or Simon’s boy. His last choice worried him. Could he possibly have been Jenny’s child? Looking back at the crosses and stones this was the choice that began to make a home and one Garrick didn’t want to believe. He stood on the hill for a very long time trying to sort his emotions. It was only the shadows of darkness heralding in the coming night that broke his trance. Closing the gate Garrick took one last look back at the crosses before walking slowly back to the house. How could he blame someone who had lost so much for being angry at the world but Jenny was holding so much of that anger inside. His thoughts shifted to his own family. His parents, grandmother and three sisters were still alive. He wondered how he would feel if they were suddenly taken from him. He shuddered involuntarily and realised he had not told anyone of his accident deciding to call his mother once he got back to the house. Garrick shuddered just a little once more. It had been the first time he had any pangs of home, never felt homesick, never worried about the what ifs when he travelled but the headstones had rattled him more than he was willing to admit, understanding that just a few short days ago he could very well have been taken from them and there was so much he had not told them, so much he wanted to tell them. He quickened his pace to the house taking purposeful strides towards Jenny’s office. While waiting for his call to go through he let his eyes lazily washed over the papers on Jenny’s desk, a few bills and receipts. A bank statement for the deposit of $30,000 intrigued him. He smiled as his mother’s sweet voice struck the question from his mind.

As always she was happy to hear from him but furious that he had left it so long. Oh she loved to log on to facebook and see what he was up to and enjoyed getting his e mails but she so did love to talk to him, hear his voice, Know that he was alright. So he was not surprised that she asked how he was before he had a chance to tell her about the accident. Once he had convinced her that he was doing all right and his arm was healing he filled her in on where he was and promised that he would update his facebook as soon as he could. They made general chit chat about family and more than once he told his mother that he loved her. Something he would not normally do.
After he hung up Garrick felt much better, lighter. His mother on the other hand was a little confused with his sentimentality. It was very unusual for her son to show his love when he was not at home. She knew he loved them all but it had been along time since he had actually said it…………………
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PostSubject: chapter 9   Thu Dec 16, 2010 4:52 am

Chapter 9
Garrick could hear the noise drifting across the yard from the bunkhouse and guest rightly that the other men had returned. He dismissed the papers on Jenny’s desk and wandered out to the front verandah. Mr Weston greeted him at the front door of the bunkhouse with a can of beer, which Garrick quickly denied. One of the other men pipped up that Garrick was trying to get into Jenny’s good books; it was then that Mr Weston explained that Jenny did not like alcohol to be consumed on the station. It had been one of her father’s rules. Garrick gave Mr Weston a strange puzzled look as he remembered the glass of cold beer that Darren had given him. Mr Weston continued. “Every now and then while she is away the boys play up a little. Mind you the penalty for getting caught is instant dismissal.”
After the initial once-over by the men Garrick was accepted into their fold, given a ribbing about having to live in the house with the Ice Queen of the outback, his accent, lack of suntan and numerous other attributes that the men took great delight in mocking him about for the rest of the evening. After joining them for a meal, a simple and well-cooked meal that surprised Garrick and listening to tales of places with names he could not pronounce but would love to visit, the day caught up with him. After saying good-bye to his new friends he stood on the front steps of the bunkhouse with Mr Weston, a question on the tip of his tongue and shimmering in his eyes, his voice tempered with seriousness as he spoke. “Jeff. David Norman… Who was he?”
Mr Weston had been waiting for the question all night knowing that Garrick had been up the hill. He sighed heavily before giving the answer. “He was Jenny’s little boy.”
Knowing the truth did not make it any easier and now Garrick was convinced the reason for the anger that consumed Jenny was on that hill behind the house. Without another word the two men exchanged glances and bade each other good night.

As tired as Garrick was, with his body throbbing with pain it took him a long time to fall asleep that night. He thought about Jenny and her family, about how it had happened, what had happened, why Jenny was the way she was, had she always been so hard or had the last two years changed her that much. He had questions and no answers, he didn’t like that and he wanted to know the story. He didn’t like his chances of finding out, Mr Weston, even Darren had made it clear that the topic was off limits. However, it was the boy’s affection towards this heartless women that the men called the Ice Queen that made him wonder. Garrick thought on his situation some more, finally drifting off to sleep as he decided to take a ride into the town in the morning.
He slept long and hard not even stirring when the men made a thunderous racket for his benefit as they left. It was after nine before he woke. Getting up from the bed his body still sent out sharp pains reminding him he was injured. He was stiff and he ached but at least his headache had subsided. As he got dressed Garrick thought it hurt less than the day before but it still took his breath away. Once the pain settled back into a controllable hum Garrick headed for the kitchen to rummage around for something to eat for breakfast. He settled for some fruit and a few pieces of toast, washed down with some fresh orange juice. Now the problem was getting into town….He had seen the Ute parked next to the bunkhouse the night before and hoped it was still there. He had no desire to ride a horse all the way and reasoned with himself that if that was his only option he would ask Mr Weston for a lift on another day.
Rather than walking through the house to the front door Garrick went out the back door, taking a long, long look at the crosses and the hill. As he rounded the side of the house and saw the Ute Garrick smiled, His smile grew as he read the message Mr Weston had stuck under the windscreen wipers. ‘Tank’s full bring it back full…Jeff.’
Garrick got himself into to the driver’s seat with a few choice words to go with the pain. He still couldn’t get used to sitting on the wrong side of the car to drive. He guessed it would not matter until he got into town, which gave him a little while to practice.
The country he travelled was much the same as that he had seen while with Mr Weston, except for the sun he could have been heading in any direction, it all looked the same.
The Ute was a manual but with some experimenting Garrick managed to settle into a good rhythm, however the ride was a bumpy one and he did a worse job of missing the holes than Mr Weston, his excuse was the fact he was trying to drive one handed. His ribs grabbed at every bump and Garrick wished he had taken the painkillers that Jenny had left for him. He’d had the bottle in his hands but decided against it reasoning that once he was in town he could see Doctor Bradley about enough to see him through the day. As another wave of pain accosted his body Garrick saw the town loom like a beacon off in the distance.
His dirt track changed to a tarred road just a few hundred yards from the town, leading onto the main street at right angles. Garrick had to stop at the intersection to allow a very large, very long road train to amble on its way. By watching the road train Garrick figured out that the main road through town must have been tarred for a good distance, the road train did not kick up a dust cloud as soon as he had expected.
He parked the Ute outside the pub, learning from experience in some of the other small towns he had visited that this was the best place to gather information, next to the police station and not all country towns had one of those but they all had a pub.
Garrick did not go directly into the pub, instead choosing to wander up and down the main street soaking up the local culture so to speak. There was a service garage that looked like it had been time warped from the 1950’s, a mixed business shop with a sign in the window boasting they could deliver anything from anyway in just seven days. Garrick smiled as he passed a dress shop that served as a shoe shop, men’s clothing, maternity, children’s clothes as well as a tailor and a seamstress. Garrick guessed correctly that these more likely were the same person. The Police station , Hospital and Flying Doctors base was at the opposite end of the street to the pub and Garrick nodded politely to those people would stared at him warily as he made his way up and down the street. No one said a word but he knew that they knew exactly who he was. Finally back at the entrance to the pub Garrick walked in, more to get away from the stares of the people than the oppressive morning heat, however he felt just a little uncomfortable as he was met with the same stares. Quiet suspicious stares from the patrons, though the bartender did smile at him as he placed himself on a stool at the bar. He was a man that looked to be in his fifties and like Mr Weston also looked like he had seen some hard times in his days but he was a cheery chap. “ Come to pay the doc a visit have ya mate?” Without being asked the bartender placed a cold glass of beer in front of Garrick and waited for a reply.
Garrick had been a little surprised at the question but could see no harm in answering it. “Yes Doctor Bradley.”
The atmosphere in the pub seemed to lighten as other patrons relaxed and went on with their own conversations but not so in depth that they could not pay attention to what Garrick had to say. The bar tender stretched his hand out over the bat and Garrick shook it as he took a sip of his beer.
“Name’s Ted, Ted Wingate, I own the place.”
“Garrick….” Garrick never got to finish as Ted stepped in to help him with his name.
“Yeah Garrick Rowe, Right….You’re the fella stay ‘in at the Norman place. You heal up pretty fast. Reckon the poor sod of a pilot didn’t stand much of a chance. You were kinda lucky that Jenny was around. Weren’t ya…..”
Garrick went to answer but all he could do was shakes his head and take another drink of his beer as Ted continued.
“Then maybe not, she’s pretty hard to get along with, her boys are in here every Friday night to forget, runs her life like she does that station, with and iron fist. I seen a few fellas get in her way it aint pretty. Two of em came screaming into town the other day; reckon she was out to kill em. The Sarg eventually got the true oil. Seems those deros set a few traps on her property and she gave em a few barrels of her shot gun to think about.” Ted could see the look in Garrick’s eyes. “Didn’t hurt em, well just a bit. They don’t know how close they came to an early grave.”
Seeing that Garrick had emptied his glass Ted gave him a refill while more information flowed over his lips. “Bobby’s mum did her cork when she found out the kid was out there. Well… nearly everyone in town knows those two tearaway’s head out to Jenny’s any chance they get. It took my Val ages to calm her down. You gonna stay at the station or come into town where it is safe?”
Garrick almost lost his chance to answer as he saw Ted’s bottom lip begin to quiver with what was undoubtedly another question. “Stay I guess. Miss Norman is away for a few days.”
Again Garrick never got to finish what he intended to say to Ted. “I hear it gets pretty chilly out there.”
Garrick was surprised that Ted had stopped talking but followed his gaze to see what had caught his attention. There was a policeman silhouetted by the doorframe making him look larger than he actually was. He smiled at Ted and looked directly at Garrick. Garrick smiled back.
You look a hell of a lot better than the last time I saw you Mr Rowe. Ted here been chewing off your ear with all his yapping?”
Behind Garrick Ted was about to protest but thought better of it.
“I’d like you to come down to the station and make an official statement if you wouldn’t mind.” Garrick got up to leave. “No rush Mr Rowe, any time.”
Garrick did not turn around to look at Ted but the Sergeant could see the relief on his face and guessed that Garrick had taken about as much of Ted as he could for one day.
“No officer, now is fine might as well get it over and done with.” Garrick turned to Ted thinking he had made a clean get away. “How much do I owe you?”
Ted smiled. “On the house mate. Anyone who can stay at the Norman place and come out unscathed is okay by me.”
Garrick followed the Sergeant out into the bright sunlight.

The day outside had grown older and the heat intense. Again Garrick felt the burning in his lungs; those ever so cool beers seemed like a lifetime away. Garrick squinted, watching the sergeant walk along the street in front of him back to the police station. Garrick was in half a mind to drive and caught himself smiling at his thoughts as he quickened his pace to fall into step with the large man that looked after this strange little town.
The Sergeant offered no conversation as they walked and Garrick supposed it was to conserve energy. It was taking all he had to keep up with the sergeant’s stride.
At the police station the sergeant held the door open for Garrick and as he stepped over the threshold his whole mood change. A gentle wall of cold crisp air settled around him. Garrick took a deep breath to cool his lungs but flinched just a little. Sergeant Russell smiled knowing exactly what kind of response the air conditioning would get; it was the same every time. A very clever physiological tactic on his part. It has taken him over twelve months to convince his superiors that the installation of a cooling system was in the departments best interest and in return Sergeant Russell had done a very good job of convincing his guests it was in there best interests to co operate in the cool air of the police station rather than outside in the heat of the sun.
Sergeant Russell moved out from behind Garrick and took his place on the other side of the desk gesturing for Garrick to take a seat. The distraction on his face as he did made it clear that his ribs were giving him enough trouble not to be taken lightly. Sergeant Russell smiled just a little. “Reckon it will be a while before they leave you alone.”
“I never knew I had so many things that could ache all at the same time.”
The sergeant let out a laugh which made them both feel more at ease.”
They talked for quite a while with Garrick relaying as much of the accident as he could remember and the sergeant filling in those that he could not. Garrick liked the Sergeant, not like had expected at all. Except for the uniform he could have been talking to any one of the towns people. No fuss, no hassles but he did get all the answers he wanted or needed and Garrick had to give him credit for that. He was almost too reluctant to leave the police station once they had finished talking. The company was good but Garrick knew just how hot it would be outside.
Sergeant Russell had told Garrick he would be in touch when the city fellas had finished with the plane and also offered Garrick the spare room in his own house if things got a little COLD at the Norman Station. Garrick noticed that look when the Sergeant talked about Jenny. Like Jeff something seemed to stir deep inside that would never surface. For a moment Garrick thought about asking the sergeant his own questions but decided it was probably not the time, instead saying his good-byes and slipping out into the bright afternoon sun. The temperature had not dropped, nor had he expected it to. Shading his eyes he looked up and down the street. As he had already started to perspire he thought about heading back to the pub for another beer but knew if Ted got his hooks into him he would never get to see Dr Bradley, the main reason he had driven into town in the first place.
It was a short walk to the hospital but Garrick found it hard to breathe. He was very aware of the movement of his chest and struggled with the pain in his lungs. He side with relief as he walked through the doors of the hospital to again be washed with cool air. It was not as cool as the police station but it was still cooler than outside.
The young man on reception looked up from his work and smiled at Garrick. He had been with Dr Bradley the night that Garrick had been attended to.
The hospital was homely and the atmosphere felt safe, The walls had been painted in a pale apricot, the floor tiles a cream, not white or grey. Nothing shouted out to be seen, it was peaceful. Pulling his eyes way from the long corridor Garrick faced the young man as he spoke. . The nurse had stood holding his hand out over the counter for Garrick to shake. “You look better than you did the other day mate. I didn’t think you would make it.”
Garrick shook the nurses hands with a puzzled look on his face.
“I was with the doc when they brought you in.” The nursed paused a little. “You here to see the doc I guess?”
“Garrick nodded his head. “Yeah if he is here.”
“Yeah, just down the hall, third door on the right.”
Garrick thanked the nurse and made his way down the corridor. The door was open and the doctor was seated behind his desk. He looked up as Garrick gave a gentle knock a little surprised to see him. “Well I never expected to see you this early. How are things?”
The doctor offered Garrick a chair and watched as he took it. He already knew how things were. He got up from his own seat and closed the door. “Well I guess we better take a look at things.”
The doctor fussed over the stitches on Garrick’s forehead then checked his cast to make sure it was not rubbing or too tight, talking to Garrick the whole time.
“You were very lucky that Jenny was around, she did a good job of patching you up. Not that I would have doubted that she could. Strong as an ox, can’t figure out where she gets all that strength from, puts most of the fellas round here to shame.”
Garrick jumped just a little as the doctor removed the bandages from around his ribs and had a little prod.
“I’d like to get some x rays done on those ribs just to be on the safe side, your arm as well. It won’t take long.”
Garrick could not contain himself any long he had to ask his questions. He looked at the doctor as he went to sit back down but Dr Bradley saw Garrick expression and spoke first. “You want to know about Jenny?”
“Is that so wrong?”
As Garrick struggled to put his shirt over his shoulder the doctor answered. “It is not the best subject in the world. Jenny is a very complex woman.”
“And very cold.” As soon as the words were out of his mouth Garrick knew he had said the wrong thing but again he saw that look in the doctor’s eyes.
“Look Garrick don’t get me wrong Jenny is a hard women, she’s had to be. With all the things that have happened to her it is the only way she knows how to handle things. God knows we have all tried to get through to her since the accident but except for the boys it’s no use.”

The doctor proceeded to describe to Garrick the accident that had taken the lives of her family. Garrick was to find out that Jenny had seen the helicopter go down and burst into flames. She had risked her own life to try and save them. If it had not been for Mr Weston she probably would have died as well.
Garrick could hear the concern and care in the doctor’s voice as he continued the story. Mr Weston had to physically knock Jenny out to stop her from going back to the helicopter.
The accident is when Jenny had changed. She had been a sweet loving girl, full of life and always had a smile on her face and a story for any of the children she met. She was often in town to help with the School of the Air. She would spend days with a sick child in the district. Everyone in the district knew of the Normans but all the children knew and loved Jenny.
The doctor paused and looked at Garrick as if looking for an answer. It was then that Garrick found out something that really shook his idea of who Jenny really was.
The doctor was convinced that the Jenny they all had known and loved was still locked away inside somewhere; his own son had proven to him that she could be reached and she was still writing her stories.
Garrick sat up a little and paid more attention to what the doctor was saying. The doctor in return realised he had lit a spark and smiled a little. “After your x rays I will show you something that may surprise you.”
Dr Bradley shuffled Garrick down the corridor a few more doors to the X ray department and left him in the care of a very friendly nurse in her forties, whose face was one big smile. Garrick could not help but smile back.

After the x rays and being bandaged back up Garrick walked back to the doctor’s office but it was empty. The nurse on reception had seen him and waved. “Doc said to meet him at the pub.”
There were a few people on the street and Garrick got the same looks as before. He tried his best to smile and be cheerful and was grateful to be back inside the pub. Ted beamed a smiled at him and Garrick gave him a small salute while he looked for the doctor to rescue him from another ear bashing. Dr Bradley rose from his table and called Garrick over just as Teds bottom lip began to quiver. “Over here son.”
The doctor looked to Ted whose thunder had been stolen. “Can we have a few more over here please Teddy. Thanks.”
Garrick sat down at the table covered in books, children’s books. Dr Bradley picked one up and handed it to Garrick who turned a few pages and read them.
“Darren’s got the whole lot. Most of the kids in the district could tell you these stories with their eyes closed.”
Garrick looked from the book he was holding to the others on the table and back at the doctor.
“Jenny wrote them, all of them. That one you have is the newest. Most of the kids are still buzzing about it.”
Garrick looked for the author’s name. The book was called, The Billabong that wouldn’t bend by J Norman. He turned the book over to look for a picture but there wasn’t one. He read a few more pages before he realised that the doctor was talking to him.
“Jenny doesn’t need to run that station; she could live comfortable for the rest of her life on what she has made on those books. They sell all over the world. Most of the stations around here owe the banks money. Not Jenny.”
Garrick remembered the bank statement he had seen on her desk and found himself thinking of the women the men called the Ice Queen. The tenderness he read between the pages of the book was impossible to trace back to the woman who seemed so heartless. Then again Garrick remembered the boys and the affection they had for her. There had to be something… The doctor was right.
It would be so simple to walk away from this town and Jenny but Garrick had decided that somehow he was going to stay and get to the bottom of it.
The doctor tugged on his shirt and held out a small bottle of painkillers. “Take a few before you head back.” He paused. “You sticking around for a while?”
Garrick nodded and the doctor gathered his books leaving Garrick with the one he was reading with strict instruction not to let Darren know it was missing or he would never hear the end of it. Garrick promised to return it safe and sound as soon as he had finished it. He did not hear the doctor leave as he began to read the book. Jenny was a wonderful writer and he could understand why the children loved her stories, they brought everything to life.
Even Ted sensed that Garrick was not just reading and left him alone until his wife appeared with a hot meal. Ted excused himself for interrupting but explained they would not send him back to the station without a proper meal under his belt. Garrick was grateful for the wonderful food, it was not until he began to eat he realised how hungry he was. By the time he had finished his meal he had finished the book. It left a pain inside like nothing he had felt before. The Jenny he knew could not possibly have written the words on those pages but he knew she had. Garrick left the pub subdued not even noticing the warm night air that had settled on the town, dropping the book back at the hospital before going back to the station.

When he arrived back Mr Weston was sitting on the verandah to his quarters smoking and Garrick suspected waiting for him. He parked the Ute in the same spot he had taken it from. The painkillers had made the trip bearable but the day had taken a lot out of him.
The house was completely dark and felt eerie as Garrick walked past it and sat down with a little difficulty next to Mr Weston.
Mr Weston nodded his head. “G’day, thought you’d shot through. The doc tell you all you wanted to know?”
Garrick shot a look at Mr Weston but the old man just kept staring into the darkness, smoking. “You don’t want to mess with Jenny mate. She needs time and….” Mr Weston looked right at Garrick this time with fire behind his eyes. “She’s like my own you know so don’t go hurt’n her more than she already is.”
Garrick’s voice was a little unsteady as he hoped that Mr Weston had not heard it. “You sound like you know what I am going to do?”
“You’re staying that’s all I need to know.”
The two men sat in silence. Garrick listen to the noise of the other men in the bunkhouse behind him as his eyes wandered to the outline of the hill while his mind tried to machinate a way to get through to Jenny, at the very least get closer.
He knew playing the invalid would be of no use, he needed to get fit, prove to Jenny he was capable of holding his own. Mr Weston had already told him once he was well he would be happy to have him help out around the station, if Jenny approved. If that did not work he would have to find another way.
Mr Weston stubbed out his cigarette and patted Garrick on the back. “Night mate.” As he got off the step to go back into the bunkhouse he stopped and looked at Garrick. “Make sure you know what you are doing.”
Garrick winced as he turned to look at Mr Weston but he had already gone. He turned back to look at the house wondering what life had been like on the station before the accident. From all accounts it had been a happy family to be a part.

As he lay on his bed waiting for sleep to enclose his mind Garrick’s thoughts carried him into his dreams, or rather the nightmares he had thought were finished. His restlessness stirred his body into a sweat as his mind played through the crash site. As explosions thundered through his head he woke with a start, hurting his already tender body. He spent the rest of the night in limbo afraid to sleep but too tired to stay awake.
It was a long hot night in more ways than one.
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PostSubject: Re: Jenny's Justice   Sun Dec 19, 2010 6:13 am

Chapter 10
Garrick was glad to hear the sounds of life coming from the bunkhouse in the early hours of the morning. It was still dark but from his vantage point at his window he could see the shadows of the men as they prepared for another days work. Garrick did not attempt to shower, instead giving himself a birdbath of sorts deciding that he did not want to spend the day alone. By the time he headed to the kitchen the sun had started to show herself and Garrick grabbed and apple from the fridge and went to the bunkhouse where he found Mr Weston sitting on the steps waiting for him.
“So you reckon you are up for a day out with the boys do you?”
Garrick looked from Mr Weston to the Ute and the men in it, most of who were trying to egg him on with taunts about his heritage and lack of bush experience.
Mr Weston stood and stretched his body. “You better ride up front with me.”
Garrick had been awake enough to bring his camera and take his painkillers and bring the bottle along on the trip. He did not say much as they travelled to the garage and Mr Weston guessed he was involved in some deep thinking and was smart enough to leave the process alone. Indeed Garrick was doing a lot of thinking, his normal agile eyes just stared off into the distance and it was with some surprise that he recognised the garage. His camera had been sat on his lap never once being used to take shots of the countryside that passed by. It was the first time in his life that Garrick could remember not watching everything as he travelled. He had convinced himself it was the painkillers but deep down he knew that was not the case. Jenny had devoured his thoughts completely. Even if Mr Weston had tried to have a conversation Garrick would not have heard the old man.

Mr Weston pulled up behind the garage and the men scampered out each one knowing exactly what had to be done. Garrick walked to the helicopter that Mr Weston had been working on a few days earlier amazed at what he saw. There was not one but six helicopters resting in the shed and it made him realise just how big the place was. Some of the men had begun to pull the helicopters out in to the clearing when Mr Weston popped his head up from under his helicopters and smiled. “Garrick we’ve got a heard to roundup today…You ready to leave the ground?”
Garrick was a little shaken by the question, the thought of flying had never surfaced but now it had it seemed very disturbing, His stomach churned as the engines of several helicopters fired into life and their rotors began to dance in the sky. Garrick watched them hover and take off much faster than he had expected all the time holding his breath.
Mr Weston had walked up behind him also watching, also knowing this would be the test for his new friend. Getting back on a horse was one thing. Getting back into a plane or a helicopter so soon after the accident was all together something entirely different. He patted Garrick on the shoulder as the rest of the helicopters fired into action. “You can stay here with Ed if you like.” Mr Weston pointed to a man who was working on one of the twelve trail bikes that occupied a section of the shed. “He’s got heaps to do on those bikes before tomorrow.”
Mr Weston waited for a sign from Garrick as the last of the helicopters left. Garrick swallowed hard before he gave his answer. “I’m with you Mr Weston….Jeff.”
A couple of the men helped Mr Weston pull his helicopter clear of the shed and as Garrick stood next to it his guts were telling him to stay where he was. The first step up and into the passengers seat was the hardest he had ever had to take and not just because of the pain in his ribs. Within a few months he wouldn’t think so with all the new ground he was going to cover. If only he had known what he really was getting himself into?
As the helicopter travelled through the air Garrick’s nerves failed him for a few moments while he got used to being off the ground, flying once more.
It was the scenery as it flew by that helped Garrick focus on something other than his fear. As they skimmed treetops to catch up with the others Garrick found himself in a zone he was very familiar with….. Taking photographs. Capturing amazing footage of the land and wildlife as it passed below them. Then through the lens of his camera Garrick caught sight of something he had never seen before, the other choppers hard at work rounding up the cattle. Not hundreds like Garrick had expected but thousand. As he took photo after photo he was almost sure he could hear the thunder of the heard above the drone of the choppers as they raced across the earth and wondered how the choppers kept from colliding. As Mr Weston turned his chopper to help in the round up Garrick had to smile. The old bushie whooped and hollered like he imagined an American cowboy may have done so many years ago and Garrick took a few candid shots of the old man by his side before returning his attention to the round up.
Though to Garrick the situation looked chaotic there was a method and a strategy to all the noise and thunder around him. It had taken Garrick sometime to figure it out but they were herding the cattle in a particular direction. He had assumed that eventually they would be headed back to the station house or the garage, in fact they were not. Through the dust Garrick was surprised to find he was flying over the roof of yet another large shed. Within minutes all the choppers were on the ground and refuelling. The trill of the morning had a hypnotic effect on Garrick, he had not thought about his fear of flying but it was not until he climbed from the chopper that he felt all the pain as it surged to every corner of his body sending him to his knees as he tried to step down. The smile on Mr Weston’s face disappeared as he saw Garrick fall face first to the ground; he had passed out. Mr Weston pulled him to a sitting position next to the chopper as he barked orders to one of the jackeroos. Within seconds the jackeroos was by Jeff’s side with a cooler of water. Jeff threw a good amount over Garrick but it had no effect, he didn’t even move. The two men began to wash Garrick down while the other men gathered and watched in silence. Mr Weston looked at Garrick, his tough face full of concern.
“Too bloody early for you mate……Jenny’ll eat you for breakfast.”
Garrick moaned and opened his eyes just a little, his world still swimming and he felt a little confused. Mr Weston helped him to sit up a little more. “Reckon I should get you back home.”
Garrick looked around at the hardened faces of the other men and knew if he was to be treated like an equal he would have to prove he could handle what was dished out; by man, by nature or by his own stubbornness. He struggled painfully to his feet with help from Mr Weston before he spoke. “No, you have work to be done.”
It seemed to Garrick that all the men had been waiting for his answer as the tension in the air evaporated. Mr Weston smiled and patted Garrick on the back. “You got no sense but I like your style.”
Mr Weston shouted orders and the camp broke into yet another hub of activity.
The cattle had stopped their thundering dance while Garrick had been unconscious and now seemed unusually quiet to the ears as they happily feed on the new pasture available. The trip had rattled Garrick more than the cattle and he fished in his pockets for the painkillers, taking several out of the small bottle as Mr Weston re appeared with a cool drink. He handed Garrick an old soft drink bottle full of water. “No cold tinnies at this stop. Got to keep the boys in line.”
Garrick threw the pills to the back of his mouth and took a long swallow of the cold water. It dived down his throat like a steel knife.
Although Mr Weston had been smiling he was concerned and lowered his voice as he spoke. “You know you don’t have to put on a show for these blokes, you’ve done alright by them. It’s a hell of along day out here if you’re not used to it.”
Garrick handed the empty bottle back to Mr Weston as he felt the lake of coolness settle in his stomach. “Don’t think I would stand much of a chance with the Boss Lady if I wimped out now.”
Mr Weston roared with laughter much to Garrick’s surprise, the old bushie really knew how to laugh and thoughts of sitting around a campfire listening to him tell stories made Garrick’s inner spirit settle just that bit more.

The men were busy setting up equipment that Garrick knew nothing about and therefore made no attempt at helping them. Instead he weaved in and out of the action taking shots. He would find out latter the equipment was for re banding the cattle before transport but for now Garrick was engrossed in the daily torture that the men put themselves through. The men worked hard and fast and Garrick spent a lot of time sheltered in the shade from the merciless heat oozing from a sun that seemed far to close. Even under the shelter he could feel her working on his body, baking him slowly. He was at a loss as to why men would work under such conditions. He had assumed that Mr Weston being what he thought of as a foreman would have found less work to do than the others. If anything he seemed to be doing more while his crew worked on, uncomplaining. For all their grumbling about Jenny back at the station they looked all together happy. Garrick at this point did not know that working on the Norman Station meant hard work but twice as much pay as any other station would offer.

Garrick turned his attention to the garage; it was larger than the first one he had seen. At one end was a door that led to another room. He opened it to reveal a fully equipped bunkhouse; double bunks lined the walls enough for forty men. In one corner there was a kitchen and the middle of the room was occupied by large tables. In another corner on a smaller table was a radio (two way) and several docking stations for satellite phones.
Mr Weston’s voice was so close it startled Garrick as he turned, wincing at the pain in his side. “Comes in handy when the others arrive.”
“Others?” Garrick had not considered the fact that there would be others.
“Yeah trucks should arrive in a couple of days. You think today was fun just wait for the show.”
“Show? What show?”
Garrick had no idea what Mr Weston was saying and Mr Weston took great delight of informing Garrick as they walked back to the other end of the bunkhouse. “Yeah, Jenny has a contract with the drivers. They haul all the flesh to market.” Mr Weston pointed in the general direction of the cattle. “Instead of loosing meat on the long drove to one of the towns she gets the trucks to come here. Upset quite a few people the first few years I can tell you. Most of the drivers are jackeroos at heart so we get extra hands at a good price, they get a better deal for hauling and I reckon Jenny doesn’t do to bad out of it either. We put the word out a while back we were looking; first fifty should arrive soon. We stagger the arrival, you’ll see empty truck passing full once on the road.” Garrick just shook his head. He had the feeling that what he had just been told was anything but ordinary. The more he learnt about the station the more it and Jenny intrigued him, it was a hard life for anyone and maybe Jenny stayed back at the station and let her men handle the cattle. Garrick caught his thoughts. Jenny was not the kind of woman to sit back and watch and if that was the case then where was she? Where had she gone?
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PostSubject: chapter 11   Thu Dec 23, 2010 5:36 am

Chapter 11
Jenny sat in the twentieth floor office of her publisher, except for the dust of home that would have clung to her clothes and the lack of her akubra she looked the same, her attire had not changed. It was not the first time Jenny had made the trip to Brisbane. A trip that would have taken a hours by plane, yet Jenny chose to drive and it had taken days. She had told her business associated that she would arrive on a certain day at a certain time, that was all they needed to know.
Jenny sat straight and rigid in her chair, she did not like being enclosed, feeling like her control could be challenged, never once did she relax or allow her eyes to drift and take in the very modern officer she now felt confined in; instead she kept her eyes on the man behind the desk. Patrick was close to fifty-five but did not look it; in fact he had never looked his age. A strikingly fit man with dark wavy hair resting gently on his shoulders. Jenny neither approved nor disapproved, it was Patrick and Patrick Nelson was part of her life that had been born many years ago.
Patrick was a cheery man but Jenny’s visits always made him uneasy, she was the only female he could not charm and the only female that made him fidget. He played with his pen, flipping it through his fingers until Jenny’s gaze rested on the object; she never had to say anything to get her point across. Patrick put the pen in the draw but before long had found a paper clip to replace it.
“Well Jenny, your last book was a great success, the American market went through the roof. ‘The Return of The Bunyip’ will be on shelves in less than four months.” Patrick smiled and waited for a reaction from Jenny, she remained silent and feeling a little uncomfortable Patrick continued wondering if the change that had come over Jenny in the past two years would ever leave her. She was much, much harder than she had ever been; she never seemed to smile anymore. “Things are going very well. All I need is your signature to continue your relationship with the company for another five years at three books per year.”
Patrick handed Jenny the papers hoping against hope that she would just sign them and hand them back. He sighed a little as he saw her settle back into her chair to read every single page and he waited and fidgeted like he always waited.

As the papers landed back on his desk just out of reach Patrick looked into Jenny’s cold steel eyes and waited for the amendments she would request. He began his routine quibbling to see if for once he could get her to change her mind. It really was more of a ritual with the outcome always the same, Jenny got what she wanted. If he did not give into her amendments she could have walked two blocks and been snapped up by another publisher before the afternoon was over so popular had her books become. It had been easier in the first few years of their partnership but as Jenny got to know the business it had been almost impossible to sway her. If he really thought about it Jenny never asked for anything unreasonable, Patrick was more upset he never won anymore. After ten minutes of Patrick becoming less controlled and Jenny simply sitting coolly in her chair he gave in and sent the contract out to be adjusted.
Patrick sat back in his own chair. “Well that is enough hard work for one morning. I would be honoured if I could take you to lunch while the changes are being made.”
He had expected a rejection like all the other times so Jenny’s answer took him by surprise.
“I would like that very much Mr Nelson.”
Jenny stood and waited for Patrick to regroup as it were, pulling his jacket from the back of his chair Patrick smiled and guided her to the door, holding it open for her to step through and hoping that somehow he had broken through. Little did he know that the only reason that Jenny had accepted the invitation was the fact that she did not feel comfortable in the city, she did not want to spend anymore time in it than she needed to and she felt like she needed to be with someone so she would not loose her self control. If she was with Patrick she would have to keep her feelings harnessed.
Once in the outer office Patrick told his secretary they were going for lunch. Immediately the secretary gave Jenny a disapproving look. Patrick was most particular about whom he took for lunch and Jenny certainly did not LOOK the part. The secretary soon dropped her gaze as she caught Jenny’s eyes, the intimidation seared right through her. Jenny knew what the woman was thinking; she had seen the same look that morning when she had arrived. The two women had fought an unspoken battle and Jenny had won.

As Patrick guided Jenny through the lobby of one of Brisbane’s larger hotels to his favourite restaurant, he as well as Jenny noticed the stares that other people gave them. He entwined his arm through Jenny’s and pulled her just a little closer, walking just a little straighter; letting all who watched that he was proud to have her on his arm. Patrick was well known but his notoriety was no match for the icy stare that Jenny cast back at those who looked down their nose at her.

Noticing Patrick before he entered the restaurant the concierge was ready with a practiced smile and all the polish of a man who had been at his job for many years and if Patrick saw fit to bring his unusual guest to lunch so be it. He would treat her as though she was of noble birth. The concierge bowed gently. “Mr Nelson how wonderful to see you again.” Before Patrick could say a thing he had taken Jenny’s hand and kissed the back of it. “And who is this enchanting lady?”
The concierge’s actions had been so swift Jenny had no time to react and he had dropped her hand back to her side just as her defences engaged. The concierge saw the subtle change in her eyes and chose to ignore it probably saving himself from one of Jenny’s intimidating stand offs. Patrick found he was holding his breath and quite relieved the only thing Jenny did was return the concierge’s bow with one of her own.
“This enchanting lady is Miss Norman Jasper. I do hope the chef is in fine form today.”
As Jasper showed them to a table and chatted with Patrick Jenny had to smile at his act, it was flawless. It stirred up thoughts of a character she might like to add to her next book. “I’ll send Terry over to take your orders soon Mr Nelson.”
Jenny and Patrick sat in silence each reading their own menus, Patrick very thankful when Terry appeared by his side. “Afternoon Mr Nelson.” Terry was about to say something to Jenny but she caught him in one of her hard stares and he felt his whole body shiver. He was under no illusion that even if she did not look it; Jenny was a very powerful woman so he turned his attention back to Patrick. “Can I get you something to drink?”
Patrick ordered straight away. “Scotch would be good.” He looked to Jenny intending to ask her what she would like in time to hear her answer. “Orange juice please.”
Patrick swallowed hard. “Better make that two Terry.”
Terry was a little stunned, he had never seen Patrick drink anything other than spirits, he was even more stunned as Jenny’s commanding voice reached his ears. “Mr Nelson will have a scotch thank you.”
Terry swivelled on his heels and made a hasty retreat to the bar wondering what he should do. Two orange juice or one scotch and one orange juice?
He returned to their table with one orange juice and one scotch and took their meal order.
Patrick took a long drink of his scotch and was about to ask Jenny a question, instead cringing as he heard his name shouted from across the room. He did so hate it when people did that and by the look on Jenny’s face she was none to happy about the intrusion.
Jack Martell slapped Patrick on the back as he approached not giving him a chance to stand. “Been a while Pat, How the hell have you been?”
Jack Martell’s question was left unanswered as all his attention was now focused on Jenny; thrusting his hand out across the table for her to shake.
Jenny took his hand and held on so tight he could feel the bones in his fingers moving under her grip. Jack Martel tried twice to remove his hand from her grip unsuccessfully. Jenny only let him go when they both knew it was what she wanted.
Nervously Patrick blurted out the first thing to come to his mind, which was an invitation for Jack to join them. An invitation he expected Jack to decline having just been the victim of Jenny’s silent test of character. Patrick had encountered the same test the first time he had met Jenny and now unconsciously rubbed his hand at the memory of the pain she had inflicted, knowing full well that Jack Martel’s hand would throb for several more hours.

Jack Martel already seated at the tale between Patrick and Jenny seemed to be recovering from her intimidation nicely. Again he smiled and again Jenny gave no response, Patrick doing his best to continue as if nothing had happened.
“Well Jack, how is the investment business?”
Jack Martel settled back into his chair knowing it was going to be a three way split; he just needed to be patient. His muscling tactics had worked on Patrick in the past, his female companions responding on cue. The final outcome being that Patrick always left on his own. Even Jack Martell realised that Jenny was different and this conquest might take some time. He beckoned to Terry while answering Patrick’s question. “Its very well Pat, getting better all the time.” He looked to Jenny, her cold eyes making him a little unsure of the ground he was contemplating walking. “What business are you in Miss Norman?”
Jenny’s eyes remained unchanged, Patrick squirmed a little and by this time Terry was standing at the table ready to take Jack Martel’s order. Everyone heard her reply and the utter contempt at which she served it. “My own Mr Martel.”
Jenny diverted her eyes to Terry, it being the sign that the conversation was over. When she looked back to Jack Martel it was with satisfaction, he had been defeated.
Jack Martel ordered a drink and carried on a worthless conversation until the meals arrived. Jenny was not interested at his attempts to impress anyone with in earshot. She was so disinterested that her thoughts had wandered. While her eyes blankly sailed around the room she found herself thinking of Garrick and her heart began to beat a little faster. Jenny caught herself just as Terry placed her meal in front of her. She smiled uncharacteristically and thanked him in a tone of voice that she usually reserved for Bobby and Darren.
Patrick looked at her stunned into silence.
Terry beamed a smile back at Jenny almost missing the table with Patrick’s meal. “You want anything else Miss you just have to ask.” He had completely misconstrued her smile and she knew it. Today it did not bother her.
Jack Martel had also misunderstood; this at least would stop him from snaking around her. He was more upset that Jenny could be interested in an under paid waiter than himself. By the look on his face Jenny knew his ego had been bruised, however she had one last dart to fire. “Investments come in all shapes and sizes Mr Martel.”
Jack Martel was too stunned to rally any thought of a counter attack, instead he looked at their meals and made a feeble excuse about not wanting to interrupt and left.
Patrick relaxed a little as he swallowed a piece of steak. “So Sorry Jenny, He’s……”
Jenny intercepted his words without missing a beat or taking her eyes of her plate. “A snake.”
Patrick almost choked as a booming laugh surged from his depths. He rose his almost empty glass to Jenny. “Touché.”
Jenny made no comment but at least Patrick was afforded a small smile.
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PostSubject: chapter 12   Tue Dec 28, 2010 11:46 pm

Chapter 12
The day had grown into the usual hot breezy night however the men were still hard at work. Floodlights engulfed the darkness. Garrick impressions of an uncivilised outback had been quashed. Helicopters, generators, night-lights, satellite phones, air conditioning.
He had not been a great deal of help during the day and had been content to do what he did best and take photographs; the painkillers making life more bearable. Just the same the day had been along one and as the night closed in Garrick’s strength began to wain. He had fought it over the past few hours but now he knew he was loosing the battle. Wandering back to the bunkhouse unnoticed or so he thought Garrick laid his aching body on one of the bunks, giving in and feeling all the pain. The room swayed his breathing erratic as he clutched his camera like a lifeline and once again his world became dark.

Mr Weston stood over Garrick with a concerned look on his face, checked his pulse and put a cool damp cloth on his forehead. Walking back to the entrance of the bunkhouse he gave up and ear-piercing whistle that brought all the men to a sudden stop. Without a word from the old bushman the men gathered knowing by the look on his face that it was something serious. “Call it a night boys. I need a couple of volunteers to help me take Garrick back to the house.”
Every available hand shot into the air, Mr Weston smiled wirily and pointed to the two closest men.
“Someone call the Doc and tell him we’re on the way.”
As his recruits followed him back into the bunkhouse Mr West gave them instructions as to pick Garrick up carefully and place him in the chopper. The men carried out their task in silence arriving at the chopper to find others had refuelled and checked it ready for flight. All they had to do was load their precious cargo. They had to strap Garrick into a seat, as the chopper was not designed to carry passengers that were unable to sit. Once this was done Mr Weston scrambled into the pilots seat. All the men stood in silence as the chopper roared into action, hovered for a few seconds then raced across the darkness. Eric darted into the bunkhouse headed for the two-way radio. He did not make a routine call but placed one through emergency channels. If that did not work he would get on a satellite phone and call the hospital. The rest of the men drudgingly began the task of clearing up after a days work, some to the bunkhouse to finish preparing the nights meal; they all listened to young Eric.

In the chopper Mr Weston concentrated on his night flying. Not something he was fond of doing. That did not mean he was not capable. In fact knowing the land as he did the trip back to the house was no big deal. It was just a quirk. He did not like to fly at night no matter who the pilot.
Garrick groaned and tried to open his eyes. “Crickey kid for both our sakes don’t wake up now.”
Garrick’s eyes did open but he never focused before slipping back into unconsciousness. Mr Weston kept a nervous watch on his passenger until Garrick’s eyes closed.
Instinctively the chopper started to descended, Mr Weston landing not far from the first garage. He scrambled out and over to the fuel tanks. By rights he should have left the chopper there and driven the rest of the way back to the house…Jenny’s rules. Mr Weston only gave himself time to fuel up for the flight to the house. In his heart he knew he did not have enough fuel on board t fly his bird back to its rightful nesting place.

Even before the call from Eric was finished Dr Bradley had enlisted the same two nurses as before and was headed for the Norman Station at break neck speed, arousing some very colourful language about his driving from the nurses. His other passenger, Darren remained quiet sat next to his father. He had heard the transmission and the Doctor had tried to get him to stay behind. Darren settled the argument by running out to the vehicle and strapping himself in, arm crossed over his chest.
He was being jostled as much as the others were by the potholes his father insisted on finding but seemed immune. So much so that when they reached the boundary gate Dr Bradley had to ask his some twice to open it.
Mr Weston saw the headlights of the car as Dr Bradley pulled up in front of the house. Dr Bradley’s passengers were stunned at hearing the chopper; they had all assumed that he would have made the last part of the trip by land.
Don (Donno) the only man to remain behind raced out of the quarters even more startled at the sound of the approaching chopper. Donno had only just manage to wrestle on a pair of jeans and stood barefoot staring into the darkness like the rest. Heads craned in the direction of the thundering sound of the blades. Mr Weston turned on the choppers lights just as he was about to land not far from the barn. Everyone sprang into action running to the chopper, all except Darren. He ran in the opposite direction, towards the house, scrambling up the front verandah and switching on lights including those that light up the courtyard. Darren stood silhouetted in the door until he was pushed aside as the men carried Garrick through the house to the kitchen, not upstairs like he had expected. They laid Garrick on the table with his legs dangling limply over the edge from the knee. Again Darren watched in silence from the doorjamb, Mr Weston stood next t the Doctor as he worked, Donno backed himself against the kitchens back door not sure whether he should stay or leave.
Garrick’s shirt was once more soaked in perspiration. Although his face looked peaceful little rivers of sweat trickled form his forehead and down his neck. Dr Bradley managed to rip all the buttons off Garrick’s shirt as he tore it open. His first stern as he directed his question to Mr Weston. “What the hell was he doing out at the round up?!!!”
Mr Weston answered trying to temper his tone with apology. “Not much Doc. Took a few pictures.”
Doctor Bradley was far from happy. “The trip alone should have finished him off. His little escape into town the other day was ridiculous. I should have kept him there.”
Mr Weston jumped in. “He didn’t get crook until just before we called you.”
Dr Bradley glared at the old bushman but his orders were directed at his nurses. “Get him comfortable for the trip to the first floor.”
One of the nurses brushed past Darren only to return moments later with a stretcher. Donna helped them get Garrick settled onto it.
Dr Bradley started in on the old bushman again. “Jeff you of all people should know better than….”
Mr Weston cut the Doctor off and was about to let fly with some colourful bush language when he caught sight of Darren as the stretcher passed him. He was angry at the Doctor, he was angry at himself. “Look Doc…….You wouldn’t understand. He’s hurt’n in ways you can’t fix!!!” He threw a glance at Darren then looked back at the Doctor then left the kitchen by the back exit without another word.
Darren had not moved, he’d wanted to go with Garrick, now he wished he had. His father was quiet, very quiet as he packed up his medical kit. Darren only had to take one small step to place himself in the kitchen but he did not move. His voice not at all as grown up as he had wanted. “Dad….”
Dr Bradley looked up ready to dismiss his son until he saw his face. The boy was nine but those eyes shone with older years.
Darren continued. “He’s a grown up Dad. Sometimes they don’t get better.” Darren’s eyes flickered lower for a second then he looked his father squarely in the eyes. “Miss Jenny she’s.” He couldn’t finish and his father needed no further explanation.
Walking to his son he cradled hi under his arm and they walked the hallway together.
“I dare say that you understand Jenny better than any of us.”
At the front verandah they stopped, Dr Bradley placing himself a few steps lower than his son so they were eye to eye. “Garrick will be okay. Just too much too soon.”
Dr Bradley looked over to the bunkhouse. “I suppose I should go and apologise to Jeff before that becomes something I can’t fix. “
He smiled back at his son. “Yes I figured you’d want to stay the night.”
They smiled at each other then departed in opposite direction in silence. Darren to Garrick’s room meeting Donno and the nurses on the stairs. Dr Bradley to see Jeff.

As Garrick slept under clean crisp sheets his mind wandered. Firstly to vision so the plane crash and Jenny and her cold, cold eyes then to images of others. The men, Bobby and Darren, the town, the country he had seen as if his mind was trying to get all the pieces to fit.
Darren sat silently by Garrick’s bed looking out across the darkened land wishing that Jenny was close by. Darren was not so sure he could be as brave as he may need to be. His thoughts were disturbed by the noise of the boundary gate and the young boy watched until his fathers car was out of sight.
Mr Weston knocked gently. “You need anything just cooee, we’re just across the way.”
Darren smiled a little and nodded his head.
“He’ll be right Darren. Almost as stubborn as Miss Jenny. Take more than a rough road trip to knock him down for too long.”
Not getting a reply the old bushman left the boy to his thoughts.

The early morning silence was shattered by the booming of chopper blades as they pushed through the air and Mr Weston headed back to the garage. Rubbing sleep form his eyes Darren walked to the window to see the chopper disappear in to the horizon. It was by the window feeling very much alone that he heard Garrick stir and once more Garrick found himself looking up into the young boys face.
Darren smiled but said nothing.
Garrick’s first words croaked form his throat. “I guess I blew it?”
“Dad’s real mad at you Mister, thought you were pretty stupid to go out to town on your own as well.”
Stunned, Garrick edged his way into a sitting position. Perched on the edge of the bed holding onto his ribs and forcing down the urge to vomit Garrick wondered if he should have just stayed where he was. “You father never said anything to me.”
Darren shrugged his shoulders. “I wouldn’t go near him for a while.”
“Talking from experience?”
Again Darren shrugged his shoulders.
After sitting for a while Garrick conceded. He would not be taking any more trips long or otherwise for a while. Even a trip down to the kitchen that very morning was out of the question. Garrick settled himself back into the bed as best he could while Darren potted around the kitchen doing his best to come up with something edible. After burning two lots of toast beyond recognition he decided on a bowl of cereal, a banana and some orange juice.
Upon re-entering the bedroom Darren found Garrick asleep and sweating again. Instead of feeding him breakfast he cooled his brow. The coolness of the cloth eased Garrick back into the world.
Darren replaced the cloth with the breakfast tray and waited for Garrick to take it. While he ate Darren sat quietly by the window; a sombre mood casting its shadow over him.
Through mouthfuls of cereal Garrick tried to lighten the situation. “You don’t have to stay. Know kids have things they like to do.”
Darren would have liked nothing more than to be back in town with Bobby. “No, I’ll stay till Miss Jenny gets back. She’ll be mad if I leave.”
“Meaning she’d rather I was not here on my own.”
Darren did not answer right away but understood that Garrick was correct. “No….You’re not real good.”
“Don’t you worry about Miss Jenny. I have a few plans of my own once I’m mobile.” Garrick winced as he moved and Darren although a little stunned giggled. “You’ll loose Mister.”
“Maybe not.”
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PostSubject: chapter 13   Fri Jan 07, 2011 4:43 am

Chapter 13
Jenny stood at the reception desk of the hotel with Gully close at her side. The dog was not at all easy with his surrounding mirroring his mistresses own nervousness. Neither acknowledging the stress they were attracting. Jenny on her own commanding her share but a dog in the hotel!!! Jenny did not listen to the whispers she was pre occupied with checking out and getting to a place she felt comfortable. A place that was coloured with freedom, a place where she could look up and breath in the sky to its horizons rather than the shattering claustrophobic scene of the city.
As her transaction with the receptionist came to and end the young man looked over her shoulder to see and irate gentleman heading their way, eyes burning with rage as he looked from Jenny to Gully. Jenny turned her back on the reception desk and watched as the man verbally abused herself and the young man for allowing a dog into the hotel. She stood and watched as Gully took a step forward and growled loud enough for all to hear. The man stopped in his tracks as Gully took another step forward and bared his teeth and Jenny stood silent.
“You have no right to bring a vicious dog in here.”
With two long strides Jenny stepped forward bringing her along side Gully. Even before she spoke the man knew he had taken on too much. Her voice was quiet and intense, through her eyes the man saw her strength shine. “The dog will only attack on command.”
Jenny clicked her fingers still staring at the man and immediately Gully sat next to his Mistress. Jenny smiled sarcastically. “I suggest you take your verbal pollution outside before I loose my temper.”
With another silent command Gully placed himself between his Mistress and her aggressor and Jenny turned her back on the man placing another booking with the young man for six months time and walked to the exit the dog never moved. Everyone watched Jenny leave in silence, their display had stunned the audience in the lobby. No one seemed to breathe, the only sound Jenny’s footsteps on the marble floor. As she got to the exit Jenny put two fingers to the corners of her mouth and let loose with a thunderous whistle. Gully scampered to her side and they disappeared.

Saturday was almost over and no sign of Jenny. Young Darren busied himself with preparation for what he called dinner. If Garrick had known what he was in for he may have escaped to the bunkhouse. The young boy may have been a deft hand behind the wheel of a car but the kitchen….That was another story. Even young Bobby would have gasped at the odd assortment of culinary delights Darren had prepared. Three rather well done sausages, a mound of mash potato that was just a little softer than Ayers Rock, baked beans ( at least they were in their original state.). Next to them lay two woeful looking fried eggs, their whites not quite set and mingling with the sauce from the beans. The stream of ooze was seeping its way through the cracks of the potato so by the time Garrick bravely confronted his meal Ayers Rock was in dire need of surgery.
Looking down at the meal he obviously was supposed to eat he did not have the heart to tell the young boy what he thought of it. Gingerly he poked his folk into the potato, it was harder than it looked though he did manage to scrape a little off and reluctantly swallowed. “I’m not sure I can manage all this Darren.” Garrick was desperate for an escape knowing the boy probably would not leave until he had eaten.
“That’s okay. I wasn’t sure how hungry you would be. Just eat what you can.”
Garrick looked back down at his meal, prodded a sausage and tried to separate the beans from the egg. His stomach churned…No matter how hurt his young companion might be Garrick was not going to eat anything. He placed his folk beside his plate and looked Darren in the eyes. “Sorry, I can’t.”
Without a word or a hint that he was hurt Darren left his seat near the window and took the tray.
“Though I wouldn’t mind a drink so I can take some pain killers.”
Darren stood over Garrick holding the tray. “Sure you don’t want anything?’
Garrick shook his head.
“Miss Jenny says it’s not good to take medication on an empty stomach.” Darren paused as he thought of something then smiled. “I know. I’ll get you a glass of milk.”
As Darren left the room Garrick groaned a little. “Milk…..I need something a little stronger than milk.”

The radio in Jenny’s office crackled into life. Even before the message was through Darren had begun to run down the hallway. About halfway down he came to a sudden stop, shook his head and laughed. Visions of Jenny telling him off for running in the house didn’t stop him for long.
Dr Bradley’s voice echoed through the house. “Darren are you there?”
Darren picked up the receiver and answered his father. “Yeah Dad I’m here. Everything’s is alright.”
“How is the patient?”
“Fine but he’s not hungry he didn’t eat dinner.”
“Is Jenny around?”
Darren knew his answer would concern his father but he answered with the truth. “No Dad. She’s not back yet.”
“Right. I’ll be there in an hour.”
Darren was relieved to know his father was not far away.

Garrick woke to Dr Bradley’s gentle shaking. Father and son standing side by side both faces carrying the same anxious look. With the Doctors help Garrick struggled to sit up noticing the glass of milk on the table. “Guess I wasn’t thirsty either. What’s the verdict Doc?”
Dr Bradley checked over Garrick’s ailments. “The verdict is that you are one lucky man with strict instructions to rest before you decide to go off on any more adventures.”
“I know Doc. Darren told me you were not impressed with my recuperation tactics.”
“Going out to the crash site I can understand. “ He saw the change appear on Garrick’s face and continued. “ I said I understood not approved. It’s partly my fault. I should have kept you in the hospital they other day. I had at least expected someone to drive you.”
“Why didn’t you?”
Dr Bradley flashed a quick look at his son answering with uncertainty. “Bad call on my part.”
Instantly Garrick knew it was more than a bad judgement call but did not push the Doctor for an explanation.
Dr Bradley wrapped his free arm around his son’s shoulders. “Since the lady of the house has yet to return I think I will spend the night.” Darren’s eyes lit up and Dr Bradley smiled. “Well someone has to keep an eye on the two of you.”

The Norma station was unusually quiet for any morning not just Sunday. No clattering of the boundary gate, none of the early morning revelry from the bunkhouse. It was peaceful, serene, it seemed that not a single being stirred in the morning breeze as it slumbered across the land. Garrick slept peacefully, down the hall father and son shared the same room. It would be a day to rise late. In way they all needed the extra time. The events of the past few days had taken more out of them than each could have known.

As the hours passed and the noon sun set herself high upon her throne it was Garrick who stirred first and only because he had tried to roll over on his side in his sleep. The sharp pain from his ribs sending a stifled cry over his lips.
Instincts more than the heat of the day woke Dr Bradley, opening his eyes the moment Garrick had stirred. He stole a few moments to look at his son, tussling his hair before leaving the room. Dr Bradley had slept in his clothes and upon meeting Garrick in the hall it was apparent to both men they were in need of some work. They smiled at each other, Dr Bradley patting Garrick gently on the shoulder. “How’s the patient this morning?”
“Getting there Doc.” Garrick’s voice quivered just a little, clearing his throat he tried again. “Looks like we need to put the iron over you?”
Dr Bradley looked down at his clothes, pulling on his shirt and then ran his hand through his hair. “I’ll fix it after breakfast.”
Garrick cheered up at the mention of food. “Breakfast sounds like a damn good idea.”
The men walked down the stair together as they continued to talk. “Darren said you had lost your appetite?”
“No offence Doc, he’s a great kid but if you had seen what he tried to make me eat last night you’d have lost your appetite as well.”
Dr Bradley laughed, all Garrick could do was shake his head.

The two men talked over a leisurely, respectable breakfast of eggs and toast. Their conversation taking them into a variety of topics, from major surgery to life in L.A. Garrick was surprised to find that Dr Bradley had spent a large proportion of his youth in the city. It wasn’t until leaving university as a fully fledge doctor that he had travelled to the outback. All for the love of a woman or lack of it.
Dr Bradley had been smitten by one of his fellow students. They had spent five years together and most people including Dr Bradley assumed they would be married on completion of their studies. It was not to be. Dr Bradley was devastated to learn that the women he loved and he thought loved him was embarking on a medical career in England and was to marry another man…..No explanation. With his heart in pieces and his ego shattered Dr Bradley had applied for and accepted a position as a bush doctor. His only thought to get as far away from the city as possible, to leave behind his heartache and never to be hurt by a woman like that ever again. Falling in love was not even in his realm of possibility but it did happen. It had taken time, his wife to be had healed his heart and restored his faith in the opposite sex. It had taken her three years of perseverance and she finally won his heart. They were married and nine months to the day being the only doctor for hundreds of miles he had the pleasure of delivering his own child in to the world. At this point in his story Garrick noticed the sadness creep into his eyes and voice. “I lost her.” Dr Bradley choked on his words. “Its been twelve months and it still hurts.”
Garrick was feeling uncomfortable and was about to change the subject but after a sip of his tea Dr Bradley continued. It had been the first time he had been able to talk about his wife’s death at length without becoming too emotional, he knew it was cathartic.
Garrick was happy to listen to the doctor paint a picture of the history of the man that sat across the table and wondered how much suffering this community hid behind brave faces. His thoughts turned to Jenny, her pain was not hidden, she had turned her anger and rage on the world. Although Garrick had travelled all over the world he was coming to the conclusion that he knew very little about the people in it. Their culture yes, their languages… Some but where it mattered, to know a person, really knowing a person. This was part of his education that had been overlooked. The two men had been sat at the table for quite some time when the Doctor stood announcing it was time that Garrick went back to bed. Garrick stood ready to protest but the pounding in his head and the stiffness and ache of his body quickly made him change his mind. “You’re the Doc, Doc.”
Outside his room Garrick gave the Doctor a serious look. “You think Jenny will let me stay?”
Dr Bradley shrugged his shoulders. “If she does are you up to it?”
“Give me a straight answer Doc. I’m not a genius but she couldn’t be as cold hearted as she makes out.”
Dr Bradley did not give Garrick the scolding he has expected, instead his voice was tempered with empathy. “Jenny changed a lot after the accident. Can you blame her but other things she had kept close to her chest all erupted under the stress. It was all too much. She was one of the warmest, caring people I knew. She was always cautious with strangers but never impolite. The kids adored her…..They still do.” The Doctor paused. “She hasn’t been into town since the accident. If you are up to the challenge stay. Maybe you will be the one to bring her back to us.”
Dr Bradley walked back into his room to wake his still sleeping son. Best to wake him or there would be no getting to sleep that evening.
Laying on top of his bed watching the fan on its endless journey Garrick wondered about his own. What would have happened if he had left Broken Hill a day earlier, a day later? If he had travelled south instead of north? Was he up to the battles that Jenny would certainly wage and did he have what it would take to keep going, to be her equal, to overlook her harshness? Garrick’s thoughts shifted to the books she had written, Bobby and Darren’s adoration, the small scraps of information he had gathered that contradicted the mask that Jenny wore. Garrick’s curiosity had been stirred too much to let the challenge pass.

Darkness once again engulfed the homestead as Garrick, Dr Bradley and Darren sat at the kitchen table the remnants of their meal in front of them when they heard the familiar sound of the boundary gate. Darren bolted from the table but did not run until he reached the front verandah as Jenny’s four-wheel drive rumbled passed and Gully jumped out of the passengers’ window greeting Darren with happy barks and yelps.
Garrick and Dr Bradley walked down the hall in silence. Gully seemed to pay them no mind happy to play with his young friend until Jenny appeared from the side of the shed. Gully sat silently as she approached and although Darren wanted so much to run and hug Jenny he held back knowing it was not the time. He may have only been young but he understood the tension of the adults around him.
Dr Bradley stepped off the verandah, even though it was a hot windless night he shivered. “Pleasant trip Jenny?”
Dr Bradley was at a loss as to how to handle Jenny’s icy stare as she replied. “Productive Doctor Bradley, productive.”
Her footsteps never slowed or faltered but she did smile at Darren as she passed the boy. That was all he needed.
Garrick standing just outside the door rated neither a word or a smile. Jenny simply did not acknowledge him continuing into the house leaving the three looking to each other and Garrick feeling the full force of the human blizzard that had arrived.
Upon seeing his Mistress go into the house Gully bounded up the steps after her.
“I’ll go see her Dad.” Darren was already heading for the house.
Once his son was out of earshot Dr Bradley joined Garrick on the verandah. “You sure you are up for this?”
Garrick shrugged his shoulders, his stomach churning and it was not his medication as he looked back into the house and wondered the same thing.

By the time Darren made it to the kitchen Gully and Jenny were already out the back door. He could hear the dog lapping up a well earned drink but no Jenny. The young boy was about to re enter the house when he caught her silhouette as she walked to the top of the hill where the crosses she bore so deeply were planted.
Jenny stood with her hands resting gently on the fence, her body tense and stiff. Slowly her grip tightened her knuckles white with the increasing force. It was the first time in six months she had walked the path to the small graveyard, her heart willing her to release it from the pain and sorrow it contained. The only evidence of her inner struggle was a small tear escaping down her cheek. Wiping the moisture from her face pulled Jenny back into reality. Standing even straighter she defiantly walked back down the hill.
Darren cried his own tears, his cheeks moist with his own pain though he tried valiantly to be brave as Jenny walked across the backyard smiling at him. Her smile turning to concern as she saw his face. She opened up her arms and Darren ran to her, hugging her around the waist, letting his tears fall. She knew how her young friend felt. “I miss my mum to Jenny.” The boy sobbed, his whole body quivering under her gentle touch so she held him tighter, cradled him closer. It was all she could do to hold on to her own self control. “It’s okay to cry Darren. We love you.”
Darren turned his teary face upwards to look into Jenny’s kind, loving eyes and held her for a while longer.
Jenny pulled his arms from around her waist and knelt down so she was looking straight at him. “Don’t ever think that nobody loves you. Your father is a dear sweet man Darren but he has suffered.”
“I know Miss Jenny.” She brushed the tears from his face. “Miss Jenny.” He paused ever so slightly before continuing. “What about you?”
Deflecting from the true answer Jenny clicked her fingers and Gully came running. “I have someone too.” She smiled at Darren and patted Gully affectionately. “Now don’t you think we should dry your eyes before the others begin to wonder where you are?”
They walked back into the kitchen hand in hand. “I could tell your father you have gone to bed if you like?”
Darren smiled up at her in appreciation, she always knew what to say and do. “Thanks Miss Jenny.” He gave her one last hug and made his escape.

Dr Bradley was not particularly worried about his son both he and Garrick happy to remain outside discussing other matters, anything to get their minds off Jenny’s cool reception.
It was her steel cold voice that sent shivers down both their backs, neither man hearing her walk down the hall to the front door where she now stood with her arms folded across her chest. “I am assuming as the doctor is here there has been a problem?”
Garrick opened his mouth to confess but the good Doctor beat him to it. “No, not much just thought I would check on our patient.”
If it were possible Jenny’s eyes darkened and Garrick could have sworn the temperature around them dropped. “Your patient Dr Bradley…. Your son has gone to bed. I suggest you do the same.” Jenny shot Garrick a look that almost unravelled him. “How long are you intending to stay Mr Rowe?”
It took all of Garrick’s resolve not to just concede defeat and withdraw but his curiosity won out. “I was hoping to stay on a little longer than my recuperation, to scout the property for pictures. I’d be more than willing to pay board…Maybe if I stayed in the bunkhouse I…”
Jenny cut him off. Garrick actually surprised he got out as much as he did. “You’ll stay in the house. ..... Good night gentlemen.” Jenny turned on her heels leaving two bewildered men looking after her. “Well you got your foot in the door. Frankly I never thought she would let you stay.”
“Me either Doc. Me either.”

Jenny was angry with herself for not throwing them both out on the spot. Garrick unsettled her control and she did not like that but there was something else, something that had stopped her from making him pack his bags. She sat very still and very quiet on the end of her bed. She felt it, a strange, disturbing yet welcome stirring. No sooner had she acknowledged this feeling she buried it deeper than all her other emotions. Once again she was the person she had chosen to be.
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PostSubject: chapter 14   Sun Jan 16, 2011 6:00 am

Chapter 14
Garrick stirred having the sense that he was being watched but upon opening his eyes he wasn’t so sure. Probably just the remnants of his dreams.
Jenny had been standing at his door for more than five minutes watching him sleep only departing when he had started to stir. All Garrick heard were footsteps as Jenny descended the staircase. He manoeuvred himself out of the bed, surprisingly easier than he had expected. Before making his way to the bathroom for a shower Garrick walked in the opposite direction and looked in on Dr Bradley and his son. Dr Bradley looked uncomfortable but content, sleeping as they shared the same bed. Garrick could not help but smile returning to his room to retrieve his camera. He took a picture that he would come to cherish.

After unwrapping his ribs Garrick spent a long time, a long time under the hot water of a soothing shower. Once finished he was hot but refreshed. His body was healing, the bruises around his ribs told him his recovery was advancing. He no longer wore the bandage around his head, deciding to let the Australian air get to his cuts. Looking in the mirror he admired the hands that had so delicately sewn him back together, the stitches so very fine. The cast on his arm was cumbersome and his arm ached from time to time but now it was his ribs that were in need of attention. He knew he would not survive long if they were not wrapped. Garrick wandered back to his room, towel around his waist with the intention of at least dressing the bottom half of his body before asking Jenny for assistance. He stopped short at the entrance to his room. Jenny stood at the window her back to him, arms folded. There were clean dressings and clean clothes laid out on the bed.
Hearing him enter Jenny turned and Garrick could have sworn her features softened just a little. Maybe they had. Seeing him like that, stood at the door half-naked Jenny could feels that stirring begin. Once she realised a small frown crept across her face and Garrick saw the softness disappear and Jenny continued in her business like manner. “I’ll wrap your ribs.”
Jenny bent over to pick up the dressings and although it sent a dagger of pain through his side Garrick also reached for the dressings, touching her hand as he did.
They both stood together. Jenny’s expression did not change, she neither relaxed or became angry and even though there was so much Garrick wanted to say the only words that left his lips were “Thank you.”
Jenny masterfully dressed his ribs as Garrick looked on. She infuriated him, he wanted to like her, know her. He drank in her beauty wanting to run his hands through her air and gently touch her face. His mind raced. There had to be a way to break through, to reach her. He was alone……… Jenny had left. When had she left?

Darren and Dr Bradley found Garrick in the kitchen finishing off a cup of tea. The all smiled at each other.
“You look better Mister…Where’s Miss Jenny?”
Garrick again smiled at the doctor while he sat at the table and spoke to his son. “Don’t you think you should eat something first?”
He was surprised to see his son return from the pantry with a large peach and two nectarines then his eyes fell on Garrick. “I have no idea Doc, she strapped me up and I haven’t seen her since.”
Darren tried to talk with a mouthful of fruit. “If her horse is gone she’ll beheaded for the water.” Both men looked at the boy as he continued. “She always checks the water when she gets back from one of her trips.”
Indeed the boy was right.
Garrick looked to the Doctor. “ The choppers gone, Jeff must have made it back to the first garage.”
“I hope so. Jenny will not be forgiving if he didn’t. She’ll be out at the muster in a few days no doubt.” Dr Bradley could see Garrick’s mind ticking over. “No…..You’re not going anywhere until I give you the all clear or I’ll make sure you spend the rest of your recovery time in the Base hospital.”
Garrick smiled and saluted the Doctor with his good arm. “Yes…Sir.”
Darren almost lost his mouthful of fruit as he stifled a giggle.
His father grinned. “Bloody Yanks. All the bloody same.”

Gully lay quietly next to Jenny as she perched on the edge of the bluff looking over the valley. Her horse happy to pick on small splashes of bush grass. Jenny had been there for a few hours, unmoving, never stirring, still. Her heart hurt, she felt things she thought she would never feel again and it made her angry. Why had this man come to them? Why had she let him stay? Why could she not dismiss him like she could others? He was bound to cause her grief. Her thoughts were disturbed by a noise behind her. Jenny never moved only her words drifted gently on the breeze. “Hello Jakala.”
An aboriginal sat down next to Jenny with Gully between them. The dog placed its head on the man’s lap and Jakala patted him affectionately. Jakala was the same age as Jenny, they had know each other before either of them could talk. Jenny’s Grandfather and Jakala’s people had always had a good relationship and it was taken as a sign of understanding and a bond between them when at the age of five the two young ones had wandered off together only to be found in the valley they were now looking at three days later unharmed.
Sometimes Jenny and Jakala would not see each other for years but it was always the same when they united.
Jakala had been educated through university with the help of Jenny’s grandfather. He was now a teacher, although he had left university with a PH’D in psychology and theology an unusual undertaking for a man from dreamtime. Jakala was also a vet. He was brilliant by anyone’s standard and could have worked anywhere but he chose to return to his people to teach their children. So there he sat dressed in the clothes of a bushman, his sleeves rolled up over his toned muscled arms. The darkness of his skin making them prominent. A more handsome man it would be hard to find and his face shone with the kindness in his heart. A face that would not grow old with the passage of time, standing just under six foot it was fare to say he was most agreeable on the eyes.

Neither he nor Jenny looked at each other but rather down into the valley. Jakala took hold of her hand and rested it on the dogs back. “You have hurts Jenny that I can sense though thousands of miles away.” Jakala’s voice was deep yet tender. “Something recently has brought back memories you thought dead.”
Jenny looked at him with tears in her eyes. Jakala continued to look at the valley below. “Why cry now Jen? Is it so hard to show others what I already know?” Finally turning to her he smiled, cupped her face in both his hands and kissed her tenderly on the forehead. “Your words are few Jen but you say so much.”
Gully sensing he was in the way moved to the opposite side of his Mistress allowing Jakala to cradle her in his arms. Allowing his Mistress to cry in silence.
“This time I will stay.”
Jenny lifted her head and kissed him on the cheek.

Dusk was closing in on the homestead when Darren recognised Jenny and her horse as they came down the path to the gate. She was not running a race like he had expected and there was someone else on the horse with her. He ran to the gate and opened it waiting for them to reach him.
Jakala could feel Jenny tense up the closer they got to the gate. Like others he could feel the chill within her unlike others he was part of her, felt everything she felt. He squeezed her around the waist.
Gully bounded through the gate giving Darren a playful bark before heading for the bird bath knowing this day he would get away with his little game. Darren strained his eyes and a smile spread across his face when he realised who was with Jenny. He jumped up and down, waving his hands in the air and Jakala gave the boy a hearty wave in reply, jumping from the horse and running to meet him . Jenny smiled as the two friends met. Jakala scooping Darren up in his arms like a rag doll and hugging him.
Darren with his arms wrapped tightly around Jakala’s neck. “You came back….You came back. Miss Jenny will be alright now you are here.”
Putting Darren back on the ground he turned to see the smile on Jenny’s face but even Jakala was not sure if too much damage had been done.

Garrick and Dr Bradley watch the reunion from the front verandah. “Extraordinary man. The children love him as much as they do Jenny. You should talk to him. If anyone knows Jenny it’s Jakala.”
Garrick watched as Jenny dismounted and Darren scampered off to the barn with her horse. Jakala rested Jenny under his arm and they walked slowly to the house. Again he felt Jenny’s body tense next to his. She straightened her back just a little more and threw her head just a little higher in the air. Jakala looked at her eyes, even he was amazed at the change. The love he has seen in them just a few moments before was gone, dead, replaced by the shadow of a soul cased in stone.
Jenny walked up the steps and passed between the two men. “Gentlemen.”
With that she was gone.
Jakala rested himself on the bottom step, smiled and held out his hand for Garrick to take. “Pleased to meet you Mr Rowe I’m…”
Garrick jumped in as he took his hand. “Yeah Jakala right? The Doc here has been filling me in.”
Jakala smiled passed Garrick at the Doctor and for a moment nothing happened. Then all of a sudden in one quick move he bounded up the rest of the steps and had the doctor in a bear hug before he could protest. “Easy Jakala, easy.”
They both laughed, stood back and looked at each other. “It’s been a while D.B.”
Dr Bradley laughed again. “No ones called me that in a while. Welcome home.”
Jakala’s eyes clouded. “She’s bad D.B.”
All Dr Bradley could do was nod his head. Jakala turned his attention to Garrick. “And you might just be the person to bring her back to us.”
Garrick looked like he had seen a ghost. He went pale.
“You and I need to talk. You need information and Jenny needs help.” Jakala hit Garrick just a little too hard on the back. “But first I need some of Jenny’s home cooking.”

The house was quiet except for the slow whirring of ceiling fans in each of the bedrooms. Jenny slept peacefully for the first time since Garrick’s arrival. Dr Bradley and Darren again shared a room but this time Dr Bradley had managed to secure a bed all to himself. Gully was stationed at the foot of Jenny’s bed, eyes open and alert. Jakala rested on top of his bed in one of the other rooms. Hands behind his head. Sleep was not something that came easy for him nor was it something he needed a great deal of to function.
Garrick stirred, once again sweat plastering his hair to the sides of his face. He moaned and instantly Gully was by his side. Jakala stood, not leaving his room only listening. Garrick moaned again a little louder and unexpectedly a chilling blood curdling scream vibrated thought the house. Jakala was already out of his room when he saw Jenny running down the hall. He gave her enough time to enter Garrick’s room first. Jakala, Dr Bradley and Darren met at the door. Jenny was already on her knees soothing his brow gently with her hand talking softly to him.
Garrick settled under her comforting touch. “He’s alright Dr Bradley you can go back to sleep.”
Dr Bradley was about to protest when Jakala stopped him. “Sure know how to wake a fella up Jen?”
Jenny smiled. “Back to bed with you all. We’ll be alright.”
Jenny spent the rest of the night sitting next to the window watching over Garrick. However as hard as she tried to stop them, memories of that fateful day when her own life had been sent into a tail spin weaved their way to the top of her thoughts. She shuffled in her chair as visions flashed through her mind. The noise that no one else would ever hear that taunted her, the pain, the fear that she was alone. Ironically it was the fear of loneliness that had triggered the change in Jenny. No one would have suspected that Jenny Norman was afraid of anything.
Jakala’s gentle touch brought a smile to her face and the memories faded for a while. “He sleeps Jen. Your pain will not subside by denying yourself the rest you need.”
Jenny was about to say that she would stay a little longer when he squeezed her shoulder. “Those that walk in dreamtime Jenny will not steal him from you.”
If it had been another other to speak those word they would have been given a very sever rebuff. As it was, Jenny stood taking Jakala’s hands and holding them to her heart. “I am glad that you are home. I feel as though not all the life inside of me has died.”
Unbeknown to Jenny; Garrick had woken to hear her sweet loving voice trying to remain still as not to be detected at first he thought it had been a dream…… Such a voice belonged to an angel. The words filled the air with a sense of caring and calmness that only love could bring. When he realised he was not dreaming it was all he could do to stop himself from opening his eyes. The change in Jenny since Jakala had arrived was miraculous. In a way Garrick was jealous. It was like listening to lovers pledging their souls to each other. Garrick’s thoughts raced at the prospect that maybe Jenny and Jakala were more than just childhood friends.
Jakala’s voice whispered through the air. “Do not speak of death Jen when you hold my life so close. We are like twins. Your pain is mine and my life will be yours until another comes.”
“No other comes. No other could take your place Jakala. No one understands me like you or can love me like you.”
Jakala pulled her close. His advances were not born of passion but of pure innocent love. “Though in time you will find it in your heart to share your love with another.” Jakala could see the questions in those sweet tender eyes he knew so well. How many times had he almost drowned in them? “You will not be sharing our love with another Jen. You will find other love. Love that you have yet to let go of.”
Jakala kissed her gently as he had done near the valley, scooped her off her feet and carried her back to her own room placing her gently on the bed before kissing her again. “Rest; for the journey has just begun.”
Strangely Garrick was not surprised when Jakala walked passed his room back to his own. He had given him insight to the woman Jenny must have been, could still be.

All but Jakala slept soundly until the light of day. Again he lay on the top of his bed. One small tear running down the side of his face. Gully lying beside him with his head on his stomach.
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PostSubject: chapter 15   Wed Jan 19, 2011 5:30 am

Chapter 15
The weeks passed on the Norman Station much as they did any other year. Jenny commanded the very best of her workers and they were more than happy to oblige. Most of the men that worked for Jenny would have waisted away had they needed to find work away from the land. The work was hard but the rewards for working f or the Norman’s far out weighed any hardship.
Jenny’s duties to see that her cattle arrived at market had ceased some weeks before and most but not all of her men were taking a well earned break. Young Eric Butler had flown home to see his wife and newborn baby son, thinking the plane ticket was a gift from Mr Weston. It had in fact been from Jenny. Mr Weston and a few other men stayed on, maintaining the property in the quiet time they had.

Garrick was fit and healthy, his cast removed, his arm ached from time to time and his ribs gave him a little trouble now and then but for the most part he was fully recovered.
Jakala was right, Jenny’s cooking was magnificent, Garrick had dined in some of the finer restaurants around the world and had never tasted food as glorious as that served at the Norman Station. Garrick had been Jakala’s constant companion since the day he arrived and Jakala had taken him to places of immeasurable contrasts. From outback shanty towns where people had given up hope of a better life, to a small station run completely by people from Jakala’s tribe. He confided in Garrick that Jenny kept an eye on the place but for the past three years they had held their own. Some of the cattle the Norman Station had mustered had been theirs. Garrick saw country that boggled the mind, through his camera lenses he saw the brutal beauty and slowly began to understand why the people who lived, who belonged to the outback loved it so much.
Spending so much time with Jakala, Garrick found the man to be an enigma living in a chameleon’s skin. It seemed that he could adjust his character, his ways to suit any particular situation. While he was with his own people, though he commanded respect usually reserved for elders, there was no doubt he belonged. The children were drawn to him like the pied piper. It was only the colour of his skin that made him standout in the arena of the ‘white fella’. Garrick had listened to Jakala carry on a half hour conversation with Dr Bradley including medical terms he later had to look up. He had also been with Jakala when they had come across a jackeroo and his dog. The man had been fixing a boundary fence when the dog had been caught in the bailing wire and given itself a deep gash across the neck. As they arrived the man was preparing to shoot the dog being too far away from help. Instead Jakala tended to the dog, suturing the neck and giving the jackeroo instructions in caring for his four-legged companion. Garrick was never without his camera and many of the shots he managed to get while with Jakala he would cherish for years to come.
The days melted into one long continuous lesson in experiencing life and Garrick almost forgot the reason he was staying in the first place…..Jenny. Every time Garrick asked Jakala about her somehow he would manage to peel Garrick away from that particular train of thought. Jakala was preparing Garrick for a deeper understanding of Jenny, he hoped.

This latest trip with Jakala had taken them three weeks and it was on this trip that Garrick realised what a stress it was to be around Jenny but he could not tear himself away. He would never be able to just walk away without solving the conundrum that was Jenny. It was as if her very essence was the drug he needed. The harder she pushed him away the closer he needed to be.
Watching the effect that Jakala had on Jenny only deepened his resolve to find that part of herself she had kept hidden, protected…….. Out of reach.

Jenny’s attitude towards Garrick had not changed, he was not given special attention, however every chance he had Garrick attempted to break through the armour that surrounded her whether that be a conversation over breakfast or dinner and each time his attempts failed. Jenny never offered any idle chit chat nor expected to have to put up with it from her house guest and she was very good at making Garrick feel like an outsider.
If Jakala was not with Garrick he was with Jenny and this night was to be no different. They would finish dinner in silence, Garrick would compliment Jenny on the food and retire to either the bunkhouse to spend some time with the men, to the small room Jenny had consented to set up in one of the outer buildings for his photography or to his own room. This night he slipped quietly to his room.

As always Jakala helped Jenny clear up and then they would take a walk around the yards of the homestead physically as close to each other as they could get. If they did not walk hand in hand, Jakala would cradle Jenny under his shoulder as his arm folded around her back with Gully happy to tag along. Some nights they just walked and not a word was spoken, there was no need. Other nights a strange noise would filter through the night air, Jenny’s laughter and as always Jakala was tormented by the closeness he could share with Jenny knowing he would never be able to show her, give to her all the love he had for her and it broke his heart to see how hard she had become.
They walked arm in arm until coming to rest on the front verandah, Jakala gently ran his hands through her hair as she rested her head on his chest, closing her eyes on the world as she sighed just a little. Jenny never felt alone with him, some slight portion of the emptiness in her filled with life when he was near. It didn’t seem so hard to breathe when he was close.
Jakala did a little sighing of his own knowing he was to break the magic of the moment. He kissed her once on the top of the head. “It is time to let go Jen.”
Jenny rose and sat so she could see his face. Jakala could see no anger or animosity in her gaze just pure raw pain and sorrow.
Jenny held his hands, her voice uncommonly soft and tender. “Let go of what Jakala? I have no one, they were all taken from me, no one to love but you, I have nothing left for anyone.” Jenny pulled her hands away from his and stared off into the darkness.
“You have nothing left for anyone to love is that it Jen?” He took her hands back. “There are people who do love you if you would just let them in. I love you more than you know.”
Jenny turned and smiled. “You and I both know that is different.”
Jakala wanted to scream, wanted her to know just how wrong she was but pushed his own anguish further down. “Maybe…. But you must have something or the children would have deserted you like you have deserted life.”
Jenny looked away. “I have nothing.”
Jakala pulled her close and once again cradled her under his arm. “Your pain is dangerous, it has covered your heart and darkened your soul. It is time to let it go before the Jenny I know is consumed forever.”
They sat in silence, Jenny with her eyes closed knowing that Jakala was right, she could feel herself slipping away. Jakala waited, his whole plan rested on what Jenny decided. Feeling her take a deep breath he took one of his own. “Where do I start?”
Jakala smiled. “By making a friend. You and he have something in common and he needs to talk to someone who understands what he is going through.”
Jenny stood up to leave, her body tense, thunder rumbling behind her eyes. “No!!!”
Jakala caught her hand stopping her from walking off. “One step at a time Jen, Take him with you tomorrow, nothing more.” He pulled her closer making the mistake of looking into her eyes. Even though she was still angry he could feel himself drowning, being drawn into her. “Let it go Jen……For me.”

Jakala knocked gently on the doorframe to Garrick’s room. Garrick had been laying on his bed reading and beckoned Jakala in to sit next to him.
As he swung his legs over the side of the bed he patted the top. “Take a seat.”
Jakala sat down next to his friend but rather than look at him gazed out the open window to the darkness. “Can you ride a horse Rick?”
Garrick thought it a curious question but was a little unnerved as he had never seen Jakala quite so serious. “Yes, why? What is this all about?”
“You are going with Jenny tomorrow.” Garrick sat stunned he could only watch Jakala leave not knowing what to say.
Returning to his own room Jakala would find no comfort in slumber this night. This night he would not sleep. This night he had started something only Garrick could finish. This night he had let go of the only woman he knew he would ever love. Jenny had only unleashed a small portion of her love for him to taste. Taste it he had and no other would ever be good enough. This night Jakala wept tears for his own pain but unlike Jenny he let the tears wash away the pain. He let it go.

Garrick slept fitfully, no nightmares or dreams just endless tossing and turning watching the ceiling fan in the hopes that is would mesmerise him to sleep. It did not.
Only once did Jenny stir thinking of Jakala and what he had asked her to do. In the darkness it did not seem to anger her so much and she settled the way to handle the situation before drifting back to sleep. She would handle it like everything else….Business like.

Moring arrived to find Jakala gone, his room had been empty for hours. Garrick had wanted to make a good impression on Jenny and was hoping to be ready and waiting. As he entered the kitchen he knew his plan had failed. Jenny sat quietly sipping on a cup of tea. Garrick said good morning willing to for go breakfast if it would appease her. Her cold, uncaring tone dashed any hopes he had. “I suggest you have some breakfast Mr Rowe while I tend to the horses.” Jenny rose making her way to the back door but stopped just before leaving. “You can ride can’t you?”
It was not so much what Jenny said but how she said it that almost sent Garrick into an explosion of angered words. He knew if he said too much it would be a mistake so he answered with a single word. “Yes.”
Jenny slapped her hat on her thigh before resting it on her head as she left the kitchen. “We shall see.”
Gully darted out form under the table after his Mistress while all of Garrick’s frustration was unleashed when he slammed his fists on the table. It was going to be a long day. What had Jakala been thinking? It was very obvious to Garrick that Jenny wanted nothing to do with him. Now he wondered if he had made the right decision in staying.

Jenny on the other hand had thought long and hard about Jakala and Garrick. Not once in the whole time that they had known each other had Jakala hurt her, in fact he had gone out of his way to protect her, guide her. So why was he so very determined that she involve herself in a situation where she would get hurt? She trusted Jakala, now she would trust what he wanted her to do not even knowing how she could possibly help Garrick. Thinking of Garrick she did not realise that her anger had receded and she could think of him without a scowl on her face. To be fair he had found himself thrust into her life through no fault of his own and while he had been on the Station he had been courteous and considerate, Bobby and Darren liked him, the men had taken to him quickly and really Jenny could only remember one time when he had shown any anger towards her though she had given him plenty of excuses. Her heart ached, Jakala wanted her to let someone new into her life, why Garrick? Was it just because he had been through a plane crash? Was this Jakala’s way of helping her cast away the ghosts that had haunted her?
As she finished up with the horses Garrick tentatively knocked on the shed, their eyes met and for a split second Garrick saw that pool Jakala found himself drawn to. A deep, warm, loving pool. A split second later it was gone.
Jenny handed him the reigns to his horse and mounted her own once she was outside and waited. Garrick knew this was to be his first test, probably the first of many Jenny would challenge him with if they were to spend the day together. Garrick could ride but it had been quite some time since he had been atop a horse so he took a deep breath and prayed that nothing went wrong. His movements were smooth and co-ordinated and although she remained silent Jenny was satisfied with his qualifications and the fact that she would not have to babysit him all day. As the day progressed Garrick relaxed into the saddle belaying any worries Jenny had of his horsemanship. Garrick’s second test for the day came a lot sooner than he expected as he watched Jenny glide over the boundary fence. Jenny slowed her horse down a little once on the other side but did not look back, only listened and smiled when she heard Garrick’s horse pick up its pace and the silence as it too glided over the fence. This was going to be an interesting day indeed.
As he came along side Jenny, Garrick adjusted his camera over his shoulder having almost given himself another concussion with it as he had jumped the fence. He looked down hearing Gully barking as he played his usual game under their horses. They rode for a time in silence, Garrick not sure what he should say, even if he should speak. He busied his mind and his hands taking pictures, instinct told him they were headed for someplace new, some place special to Jenny. Jakala had dragged him to many locations on and off the Station but for some reason Garrick understood this was a place he had not ventured to as yet and he dare not ask Jenny, the silence was comforting.

Just after the lunchtime rush, if you can call four jackaroos a rush Jakala walked into the pub, waved at Ted but headed towards the corner table where Dr Bradley was just finishing his meal. Looking from the shadow that had cast itself over his food to the man doing the casting Dr Bradley began to smile but then stopped. He recognised the look in Jakala’s eyes. He motioned for his friend to be seated as Ted arrived with two fresh, cold glasses of orange juice. Jakala waited for him to return to the bar before he spoke. “It has started. Garrick and Jenny are riding together today.” Jakala’s expression did not change, his sadness attached to every word he spoke. “But I am afraid there is a storm that could jeopardise Jenny’s healing.” He paused for just a second. “Dean Farmer is back.”
The doctor almost choked on the mouthful of orange juice he was trying to swallow. “Dear God Jakala! if Jenny finds out and she will….She’ll kill him!” Jakala only nodded his confirmation. “Where is he and how long before he gets to town?”
“The Andersen’s, he’ll be here soon.”
Ted being the good publican he was had heard enough of their conversation to put the pieces together and before the end of the day Jeff Weston would also know of the impending storm. A storm that could very well end in tragedy.

As they travelled Garrick kept and eye on Jenny for any visible change, he saw none but noticed her voice. It was not the same tone she used for the boys or for Jakala but it was most definitely different. It still held its strength and dominance but the icy bite it usually carried was gone.
Jenny did not make eye contact when they talked and Garrick found it a little disconcerting and Jenny knew it, the very reason she would not look at him until she wanted to. “Jakala seems to think we have common ground to stand on Mr Rowe.”
“Rick, call me Rick.”
Jenny continued as if he had never spoken. “Do you know what that common ground is Mr Rowe?”
His fist instinct was to deny any knowledge but it was reasonable to assume that Jenny knew what information he had about the crash that had killed her family so decided to tackle the subject head on. “Plane crash……. but I didn’t loose anyone.”
Jenny had not expected him to be so direct and it caught her off guard thouhg her retort gave Garrick no indication. Jenny struck with the speed of a snake, swinging her head around and pulling her horse to a halt all at the same time. The anger in her eyes was frightening and her one word reply pierced Garrick’s heart like a knife forged of ice. “Exactly!!!”
Jenny’s automatic reaction was one of defence and defiance, glaring back at Garrick waiting for the reaction she had seen so many times before in others. Again Garrick surprised her, his voice soft and hurt, he did not lower his gaze though he wished he could. “I don’t deny that I could ever understand how you feel, what it has done to you. I don’t think anyone knows just how much you have suffered…” Garrick paused. “With one exception…” Jenny waited for his assumption to be wrong, it was not. “Jakala…He knows you like no other. Jenny…. I don’t want to take anyone’s place, not your families, not Jakala’s. I just want to be a friend. I’m lonely too Jenny, have been for a long time.”
Jenny had heard all she wanted. He had said all the right things, picked up on her inner feelings, exposed his own soul yet she was afraid to hear anymore. She kicked her horse into action and raced away, it was all Gully could do to keep up with his Mistress. Garrick shouted after her as he spurred on his own horse. As Jenny rode even faster it was time for Garrick to find out just what kind of horseman he was.
Jenny’s emotions collided within her, She had no idea if she wanted to scream and shout, cry or just disappear; once more her wounds were raw. The horse sensing her will pushed itself to the very limits, giving her all it had. Garrick had been gaining ground but he watched in shock and horror as Gully came to a screeching halt barking and yelping while Jenny disappeared from his view. Both Garrick and his horse were breathless as they pulled to a dead stopped next to Gully. Garrick was on the top edge of a very steep rock face and half way down Jenny was still riding like her life depended on it. He screamed down at her knowing she would not hear. “I’ve done some crazy things in my life but this has got to be the craziest.” Garrick spurred his horse again and over the edge they went. Not nearly as fast as Jenny but he intended to get to the bottom in one piece and alive. His heart raced, his head pounded and he broke out into a sweat, He could her Gully barking in the background not realising the dog had followed him. Garrick dared not look to see how far ahead Jenny was. If he had he would have seen her dismount, slowly walking her horse to a small waterhole. By the time Garrick reach the bottom somewhat dishevelled Jenny was once again in control of her emotions and wiping down her horse after its hard ride.
When Garrick finally reached her he more or less fell off the horse rather than dismounted. Jenny gave Gully a pat on the head as he darted passed and into the water. Out of fright and built up adrenalin Garrick grabbed Jenny by the shoulders and pulled her close. Even Jenny was not sure if it was anger or fear she saw in his eyes. “Jesus Jenny you could have got yourself killed!!!! What do I have to do to prove to you that I just want to be your friend? Get myself killed as well!!!!?”
His last statement had enraged her so much the force in her was overpowering. Before he knew what had happened Garrick found himself on the ground holding his chin. Jenny had delivered a very fast, very hard and very accurate right hook sending him reeling. He stared up at her to find himself looking up the barrel of a rifle. He froze feeling real terror for the first time in his life. Her eyes were black as pitch and he had no idea if she would pull the trigger.
The echo of the gun blast shattered the silence, the horses jumped and Gully raced from the water to be at his mistress’ side. Garrick was visibly shaken, the marks the bullets had made as they had travelled along the ground next to him were far to close. He was trembling from head to foot as he stood and Jenny’s voice was unnatural as she spoke. “Death is never far away.”
Garrick was mortified, too shaken to even contemplating trying to reason with her. All he could do was watch as Jenny replaced the rifle in her pack and mount her horse. Garrick took a few steps toward his own horse with the intention of mounting, he pulled on the reigns but the shock had been too much for him, he let the horse loose and just stood where he was. It was at this moment Jenny realised what she had done. She had never intended to kill him; she was angry and retaliated to his kindness with pure hate and vengeance. For the first time in a long time Jenny felt ashamed of herself, what she had done. She dismounted and walked back to him seeing the fear in his eyes and the sweat on his ashen face. The solid cage that surrounded her heart cracked. A part of the stone chipped away as the full force of what she had done registered. She took another step closer to Garrick but he backed away. “Rick I’m sorry. I never… forgive me I…..” She did not finish only watched Garrick for a response, something , anything but he just stood. A small tear began to run down her face as she turned to walk away.
When he did speak his voice trembled with the fear that still flowed through him. “Why?” was all he said.
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PostSubject: chapter 16   Thu Jan 27, 2011 6:32 am

Chapter 16
Dean Farmer looked like the kind of man that followed trouble just to wrestle with it, all of his six foot oozed with self assured cockiness. From his sun baked leather skinned face to his very walk. Dean Farmer was a man that got what he wanted when he wanted. His reputation more often than not preceded him but he also had the reputation of a very hard worker. Although he could have been classed as a transient by many he had never been out of work. He looked like he lived from pay cheque to pay cheque and in many cases that was true but there always was a pay cheque. It was also no coincidence he was near the Norman Station, he planned to call on Jenny. The woman he had left almost ten years ago. It was not very often he would admit to making a mistake but leaving Jenny had been a mistake; a big one. He had promised to marry her and walked out two days before the wedding on the arm of a very attractive but not very bright young girl. As he lay on his bunk Dean thought about that very thing. He had called her a girl and Jenny a women but there would have only been a year’s difference in their ages. He wondered if Jenny had forgiven him, would forgive him or had just forgotten about him. He knew she had gone against everything she knew to be right when she had made love to him that night. He knew full well that Jenny intended to stay a virgin until she was married. He had broken her. In most cases that kind of conquest would have brought great satisfaction. Not that one, even now after ten years it still brought a well of pain from his depths. He had realised far too late just how much Jenny must have loved him to do such a thing. Dean Farmer was to find out that he left more behind than an abandoned bride. Far, far, more. This time he was to find more trouble than he could handle.

Jakala sat on the front verandah while twilight cast her shadow across the station as Jenny and Garrick approached. Their slow approach to the gate told him more than it would others and the fact that Jenny dismounted to open the gate and did not jump over the fence made his heart skip a beat. There was a story to be told and his instincts told him he would need all his whits. As they passed he stepped off the verandah. Jenny smiled at him weakly, almost child like. Jakala looked to Garrick as he passed he looked tired, his eyes full of….Jakala could not pinpoint the look that Garrick had given him. Jenny stayed in the shed tending to her horses, giving her time to compose herself. Things had changed between her and Garrick but that did not mean the rest of her world was about to change.
Garrick walked slowly back to the house. “She almost put me in my grave out there.” His voice still rattled with latent fear.
Jakala slapped him on the shoulders as he guided him into the house. “No Rick. If that was the case you wouldn’t be standing here.”
Garrick turned to his new friend. “If you could have seen the look in her eyes just before she pulled the trigger. I thought I was done for.” Garrick smile wearily. “If you don’t mind I think I will call it a night.” With that he made his way upstairs leaving Jakala in the hallway. Hearing Gully in the back yard Jakala made his way through to the kitchen and stood at the back door watching Jenny returning from the shed after bedding down her horses, terrified at finding out the answers to the questions Garrick had left. Jakala knew that it had been Jenny’s decision to miss Garrick when she had fired.
Jenny’s smile was tired and weary; her voice also had the same mist of weariness about it. “Did he tell you?”
Jakala sighed. “Some…You tried to kill him Jen.” It was more of a statement than a question and now that she was close enough to touch he took her gently by the shoulders and looked lovingly into her eyes. “Not the usual way to make friends. Is your pain so great?”
Jenny dipped her head so Jakala could not longer see her face, he was about to say something when she raised it again. “I very nearly put a bullet through his chest Jakala, it would have been so easy.”
“I think not so easy. Jenny we need to talk about this”
Jenny sighed and let Jakala guide her to the front of the house where they sat much the same as the night before. Jenny outlined her day with Garrick, everything. Knowing her as he did Jakala wondered if Garrick had realised just how close to the grave he had been.
Although her act had been terrifying for both sitting with her Jakala sensed a change. She did not seem as tense when talking about Garrick. He wondered if the day had finally brought compassion to the surface where all other tactics had failed.

Mr Weston lay on his bunk wondering about the days’ events. The news of Dean Farmer would not take long to make it to the Station. The Andersen’s, although over several hundred miles away were in fact the Norman’s neighbours. He knew them well enough to know that they would not mention Dean’s arrival but the deed had already been done. Ted was better or worse than any bush telegraph depending on how you thought about it. Mr Weston’s one hope was that Jenny never ventured into town. He rolled scenarios around his head trying to find ways to keep the news from Jenny but he knew better. She would find out. Even if she did not go to town Dean was sure to find his way to the station eventually. At least at the station there was a hope of containing the situation, maybe Jenny wouldn’t kill him.
Mr Weston walked to the bunkhouse door to take the last drag of his cigarette, nodding to Jakala as he stubbed out his cigarette. Jenny had her eyes closed. If any kind of normality was to be retained the news of Dean Farmer needed to come from Jakala. If Mr Weston had known about Garrick’s little adventure that day he would have been far more anxious as to Jenny’s reactions.

That night the Norman Station was not a place of peaceful slumber. Jakala rested on top of his bed with Gully once more nestled next to him, Jenny tossed and turned while old and new nightmares mingled inflicting a new kind of pain. Every time Garrick closed his eyes all he could see was the barrel of the gun and the look in Jenny’s eyes. His sleep was fitful at best. Mr Weston did not dream but his sleep came late and he rose early the next morning.

Boyish laughter and the noise from the boundary gate brought a smile to Garrick’s face. The weekend was upon them. Somehow Bobby had convinced his mother to let him make the trips back to the Station. It had been a case of being a world-class brat until he got what he wanted more than anything else. The young boy had done everything he could think of to make his mothers life a living hell, from frogs in her bed to green dye in her white washing. To climbing up onto the police station roof to fly his kite and then deposited back home by a very unhappy Sergeant Russell. To pleading with her to take him on her next trip to see his aunt and then doing nothing but complain all the way there and all the way back. It had taken some doing but in the end Bobby had won, by the time he had finished with his mother she was happy to get rid of him for the day.
Dr Bradley had of course been informed of the boy’s antics by his own son and was rather proud of the boy’s tenacity but warned his own son not to bother even trying. Darren knew his friend’s ways would not work on his own father, he knew his father, he had other ways.
So, it was two young boys full of life that Garrick watched from his window. They both waved as they passed the house. Jenny greeted her young friends at the stable with a motherly hug and kiss. This was the same woman who had pointed a rifle at Garrick just a day before.
Horses ready the boys mounted. Garrick could tell by the pack on Jenny’s horse they were going for a picnic. Jenny’s movements as she mounted her horse were like a ballet, smooth and precise. All of a sudden Darren spurred his horse, boy and beast headed for the boundary fence with no intention of stopping to open the gate. Jenny laughed and clapped giving the boy encouragement. Until then Bobby had not even considered jumping the fence but it would not do to be out done by your friend so he took a deep breath, yelled at Garrick to watch him as he followed Darren nearly falling as they landed at the other side. As the boys congratulated each other Garrick smiled and waved at them then looked down at Jenny who had not moved. She was staring at him, for how long he did not know and his smile disappeared. Jenny had seen his reaction and almost fell back into her usual cold bitter recoil.
Garrick felt the waves of shock through his entire body as she spoke with a pleasant, calm voice. “Would you care to join us Rick?”
Here was a chance to take another step closer to her. Though after their last outing he began to realise that closeness could mean danger. “Maybe next time.”
Jenny nodded and spurred on her horse meeting her two young friends on the other side of the fence. Garrick got another surprise when all three turned and waved to him.
“You should have gone.”
Garrick turned to find Jakala standing at his door. “Next time, I need to work on my riding skills.”

Mr Weston met the two men next to the Ute. Garrick found the conversation between Jakala and the older bushman interesting and stimulating. Mr Weston treated Jakala like a son. Garrick knew like any other country Australia had its racial problems but he would not find any between these two men. They egged each other on like father and son. Over the course of the day Garrick would be pleased with the photos he managed to get of the two men, working, laughing and living side by side. He would also come to know more about Jenny. Jakala’s outings over the past several months had not been in vain, now they fell into place. Jakala also told him about Dean Farmer, every detail. It was quite obvious that Mr Weston did not like the man, though harder for Garrick to read Jakala, if he had any hate for him it did not show. If it could be said that Jakala hated any man or beast the man would be Dean Farmer. Jakala would have been happy to stand by and let Jenny kill him for what he had done to her but over the years he had brought his hate under control. It was not his feelings they needed to worry about. Jakala explained to Garrick how he expected Jenny to react to the news. Garrick just could not understand why they just didn’t let her know, keep Dean Farmer away from the Station.
Mr Weston smiled a little. “You still gotta lot to learn Rick. Jenny will know, there is a sense about her. Twelve months ago she said we would get no rain, we’ve had no rain. She knew about old Bazza’s death before anyone and the day Jakala came back she knew.”
“As I knew she needed me.”
Garrick turned to Jakala, saw and heard the tenderness, the same tenderness he had heard that night they had spoken in his room, love splintered with pain. Jakala smiled back at his friend. “She was not always lost Rick. When the healing is done she will be a woman you will love forever.”
Jakala’s statement shocked him. “I don’t love her Jakala I…..”
Jakala stopped him by silently raising his hand. Garrick’s thoughts drifted to Jenny. She scared him, frustrated him, angered him, he did not love her. Then why was he still around? The initial idea of getting to know her more had faded and if he was truthful with himself had faded months ago. There was something about her the held him, kept him from leaving but it was not love.
Jakala’s voice washed through his thoughts. “She will need your tenderness when I am gone.”
This time both Garrick and Mr Weston looked to Jakala who continued to look straight ahead out the front window of the Ute. “I said I would stay until the work was done. Jenny’s healing has begun. You will have to show her how to love again.” Jakala’s face was covered with an expression somewhere between love and concern. “Jenny showed you on your ride yes?”
Mr Weston drove in silence; all Garrick could do was nod his head. Jenny had shown him her own private nightmare. After the incident at the waterhole they had ridden in silence, a different silence than before but silence all the same. A silence only broken by Jenny’s few words. “They died here.”
Garrick had scanned the immediate area and it all looked the same until he spotted a small white cross like the ones on the hill behind the house. There was no reason to get closer to read it, he already knew what it would say.
“She has not shown that place to others Rick.”
“Maybe it was an appeasement for trying to shoot me.” Garrick’s voice was not filled with anger but sadness and a glint of understanding.
“You up for a detour into town later? D.B wants to see you.”
Garrick nodded at his friend.

Jenny and the boys had a wonderful day. Bobby and Darren sensed the change in her. Their instincts told them without the wisdom of age that their Miss Jenny was happier. They had even returned to their favourite tree. The first time since Garrick’s plane had crashed. Jenny regaled them with her stories and Gully romped around freely.
The wreckage sight was invisible from the trio’s position under the tree but in one of their quiet moments Jenny found herself staring in its direction, unseen but knowing it was there. Nature had done a wonderful job of rejuvenation over the months. Tufts of hardy Spinifex splashed new life around the once blackened land. Jakala had been right….. Garrick and Jenny did have something in common apart from their loneliness. Like her, Jenny knew that no matter how overgrown the crash site became Garrick would always see it the way she saw hers. The way it was the day of the crash.

Mr Weston parked the Ute outside the hospital and wandered down the street to the pub.
Dr Bradley smiled as both Jakala and Garrick entered his office. “Well Rick you look no worse for wear after your little adventure.”
“Scarred for life Doc.” Although Garrick had but some humour into his words they all knew how serious it had been. Emotionally it would not be something that Garrick would soon forget.
Garrick saw the expression on the Doctors face change and the tension rose in the room. “Okay what it is? What is so bad it is going to take the two of you to tell me?”
Dr Bradley looked to Jakala who only nodded and the Doctor launched into his concerned about Dean Farmer and wanting Garrick’s support in keeping him and Jenny apart.
“Serious Doc. I am sure we can persuade this guy not to come near the Station and Jenny doesn’t come into town.”
Jakala exchanged looks with Dr Bradley before he spoke. “She will for him. I know Jenny and although her healing has begun she still……” Jakala stared at Garrick in silence.
“Are you telling me she would actually try and kill this guy? Jakala, she wouldn’t.” Garrick listened to his own words; even to him they were unconvincing. “Jakala you know you are going to have to tell her. Sooner rather than later, give her time to calm down.”
“I shall talk to her tonight.”
Garrick was a little unnerved at the immediacy their situation had suddenly taken. Tonight was not more than a few hours away. It seemed that all things did not move slowly in the bush like he had been lead to believe.

Just as Jakala and Garrick were about to leave the doctors office Mr Weston showed up somewhat out of breath. Jakala caught the emergency in Mr Weston’s eyes before the old man had a chance to speak, his words hitting them like a tidal wave. “He is here, is he not?”
Mr Weston nodded. “In the pub with a few of his mates.”
Jakala left the room without another word. All knew where he was going and what he had to do.
Garrick nervously ran his fingers through his hair. “I guess we better keep an eye on this guy Mr Weston. How about you shout me a drink?”
Dr Bradley shook his head astounded at how suddenly the future had become the present. All of a sudden he was unsure as to how well he really did know Jenny, how well Jakala knew her. If he had known what was to come he may have acted on those instincts that were grabbing at his insides. Then another thought hit him. Bobby and Darren, they were with Jenny and he was supposed to pick then up from the station that night. He was going to be drawn into the tempest sooner than he had hoped.

Garrick and Mr Weston arrived at the pub to fine Dean Farmer and his two mates making up for lost time. It was apparent they had consumed a large quantity of beer with no intention of stopping. Ted was doing his best to keep their noise down and his request for lower voices was adhered to but only until they found something else to laugh or shout about. Garrick and Mr Weston took up position at the opposite end of the counter, Ted thankful for the opportunity to serve someone else. As he moved along the counter he made one mistake, he called Garrick by his name. Mr Weston went ashen as he saw the look on Dean Farmers face, he knew who Garrick was. Garrick had his back to him turning when his name was called. “Hey Ricky.” Garrick hated that. “You the fella been shacked up with Jen?”
Dean Farmer’s two mates cackled and Mr Weston prayed that Garrick could maintain his composure. Garrick’s voice was flat and his face expressionless. “No Sir.”
Dean pushed back his shoulders, pushed out his chest and took a large swallow of beer finishing off the drink. “Oh no…..Talk is that you’ve been shacked up with her since you.” He smiled from the side of his face. “Since you dropped in.” Dean joined his friends in their taunting laughter while Garrick kept a tight hold of his anger as he spoke. “No, your information is incorrect.”
Garrick had no idea how he had managed to make Dean Farmer so angry so quickly but once more he found himself on the receiving end of a right hook when Dean swung at him without warning. Garrick managed to stay on his feet with the help of the counter and Mr Weston. Ted was getting a little anxious and even more so when Dean pulled out a gun. “I reckon you’ve been mess’n with Jen.”
Holding his chin Garrick’s voice was no longer controlled, dripping with anger. “I’m not the one who left her with a baby to feed, I’m not the one who wasn’t there when her son died. That was all you!!”
Garrick braced himself for another attack sure that Dean Farmer was going to shoot him. Instead he swung his rifle around intending to hit Garrick across the face, however Garrick was ready and moved in enough time so he took the force of the blow on his shoulder but he still ended up on the floor again looking down the barrel of a gun. Not only had Dean Farmer turned his gun on Garrick but his two mates had done the same. Mr Weston and Ted were pleading with them just to leave it be. Garrick’s whole arm not just his shoulder sang out in pain and for a moment he was convinced that Dean Farmer had broken the same arm that had been in a cast for eight long weeks. Thinking about moving to make sure he caught the look in Dean’s eyes. He had a better chance of staying alive if he remained motionless. Dean Farmer was an angry man who had consumed far too much alcohol to make any rational decisions. Garrick watched as Dean slowly put more pressure on the trigger deciding that Garrick had been shacked up with Jenny and all he had said was crap. Garrick held his breath as Dean pulled the trigger. The explosion of gunfire ricocheted like thunder around the room. Ted dived for cover behind the counter, other patrons scuttled for cover under tables as Garrick instinctively grabbed at his chest but it was not his own screams of pain that chilled his blood.

Dean Farmer collapsed on the floor next to Garrick holding his leg. Garrick found his explanation as the night air silently washed over him, in the doorway to the pub stood Jenny, the door gently resting on the heel of her boot. Although she had not uttered a word her intentions were obvious. Her face was taught with anger and those eyes…….Garrick had seen Jenny’s eyes as the anger and hate seeped from them but to see what he saw in them now was so much more. Even he wondered if her healing had really begun as Jakala had assured him. Before him stood a woman emanating a force of hate and rage so powerful the whole atmosphere in the room crackled on the verge of exploding and her rage was directed to one man…. Dean Farmer.
Garrick rose to his feet, Ted came out of hiding and one of Dean’s mates made the mistake of his life. He tried to fire his own gun at Jenny…Tried too. Without taking her eyes off Dean who was still whimpering on the floor Jenny fired, wrenching the gun from the man’s hand with several of his fingers still attached to it. He screamed and his partner got the message placing his rifle on the bar and backing away. Garrick took a step towards Jenny and it was only then she look at him. He shuddered. Her eyes were savage…no fear, no remorse, no love. He never got the chance to say a word before Jenny’s gaze once again dropped to Dean. “Move away from him Rick.”
Dean tried to steady himself against the counter while still holding his leg watching his blood mingle with that of his mate now passed out on the floor beside him.
Garrick pleased with Jenny. “He’s not worth it Jenny.”
Her response was to turn the gun on him and Garrick saw that same look. The look she had given him that day at the waterhole. He also knew that this time if she pulled the trigger she would not miss.
Something inside tugged at him and Jenny was the only one to see the change. His eyes darkened, went from a colour of pleading to defiance, he was going to stand his ground and she knew it. He would live or die depending on what she did next.
With the gun still pointed at him Garrick took a few more steps closer to her, the softness of his voice contradicting his show of strength. “Are you ready to kill me Jenny? He’s no good, he’s not worth the bullet. It will do you no good to kill him Jenny the pain wont leave because you have. Are you ready to watch me die at your feet? Because you will have to shoot me this time, I won’t let you do it.”
Garrick moved closer placing himself between Jenny and Dean and the barrel of the rifle rested ever so gently on his stomach. All the time he watched her for a flicker of change, anything.
Jenny never blinked or moved, only her grip on the gun got tighter and there they stood strangely transfixed in each others stare. Garrick wondering if he knew Jenny well enough to keep himself alive, Jenny wondering why the hell she could not pull the trigger and be done with it all.
Once again Garrick felt the night breeze as if wafted through the door. He dare not take his eyes off Jenny to see who it was, knowing she would take it as a sign of weakness.
Behind Jenny stood Jakala. In silence he placed his hands on her shoulders feeling the tension oozing from with in. He wondered if the others realised just how perilous their situation was, particularly Garrick. If Jenny let go of the small amount of control she still processed they would all die. “My dear Jen.” It would be the last time he said those three words together. “I cannot allow you to waste your life like this. To loose you completely would be to loose the very spirit of my own life. Please Jenny don’t do that.”
Garrick caught it, it had been quick and if he had not been looking right into her eyes he would have mist it. A slight quiver. Jakala’s words had penetrated her rage. What Garrick had seen Jakala had felt. Garrick stole a quick look at Jakala as Dean Farmers voice filtered through his nightmare. “Damn it Jenny, I’m hurt, probably crippled for live isn’t that enough!!!!”
Still with his hands on her shoulders Jakala felt her tense up once more as she stepped sideways so she could point the gun at Dean. “For a victory Jenny you must let him live or kill us all.”
Garrick and Ted along with the rest of the patrons listen in disbelief; surely Jakala had just sealed their fate.
Jakala had not time to warn the others of what was coming, there was no time. The counter next to Dean Farmer exploded, splinters of wood flying in every direction as a bullet embedded in what remained. Jenny threw he gun at Garrick with such force he stumbled backwards, she turned and flung Jakala’s hands back to his side before storming out into the street only to be met by the stares or Dr Bradley and his medical team. All they could do was watch her walk away.
Garrick was determined to follow her when Jakala stopped him just short of the door. “Not this time my friend.”

The colour drained from Dr Bradley’s face as the scene in the pub unfolded before him. Dean Farmer and his unconscious mate were still on the floor now joined by the third who was trying desperately to help both but without much success. Dr Bradley looked to Garrick. “What the hell happened?”
Garrick pointed to the two men on the floor. “They’re still alive.”
As though it was an invitation Dr Bradley made his way towards the two men with Garrick and his team right on his tail. No one had noticed that Jakala had slipped outside. Ted and Mr Weston stood at the other end of the bar quietly watching while other patrons slowly appeared from their hiding places. Dr Bradley looked up to the small crowd that was gathering while he worked on his two most critical patients. “I want the lot of you down at the hospital right now.”
In stunned silence most obeyed, filtering out the door. The doctor turned his attention to Ted and Mr Weston. “That goes for you two as well.”
For a split second each man was about to protest but only ended up walking silently out of the pub to join the others at the hospital.
Dr Bradley did the best he could for Dean Farmer and his mate, sending one of the nurses back to the hospital to return with the ambulance to transport the men. He knew that neither of them would stay long, their wounds would need specialist treatment. Treatment not available at his small outback hospital no matter how well equipped it was. Dean Farmer’s knee was a mess of shattered bone and muscle, he would be very lucky to keep it. The other would be lucky to keep his fingers.
Garrick’s question was aimed at the doctor but it got the attention of the rest of the medical crew. “Jenny doesn’t miss does she?”
“Not unless she plans to.” Dr Bradley looked straight at Dean. “I’m not going to make it out any better than it is Dean. You could loose your leg. You’re lucky Jenny didn’t finish you off like a weak calf.”
The painkillers had started to take effect so Dean was somewhat subdued as he looked to Garrick. “She had my kid?”
There was no need for Garrick to answer Dean’s shattered leg was answer enough.

Four nurses, three male, one female swept into the room wheeling two stretches with them. Garrick and Dr Bradley walked to the door. The night’s events taking the toll on Garrick and it was noticeable as he spoke. “Jakala never had time to get back to the Station let alone explain things to Jenny.” Dr Bradley looked back at his team to make sure they had everything under control as he pulled Garrick outside. “He never talked to her?”
“What the hell happened?
“I found Bobby and Darren waiting for me at the Station. Jenny never went back with them. The boys had not seen Jakala either. Some how he knew she was going to town and tried to head her off. You know the rest. Jakala only beat me back by a few minutes.”
“How did she find out? If she left the boys to come alone she must have known this morning. But how?”
“I don’t know Rick. My guess is Jakala knows where she is. I have my hands full at the moment.” The doctors eyes drifted down the street to the hospital. “Sorry mate but you’re on your own for a bit.”
Dr Bradley left Garrick standing alone in the street, very much alone. Where did he go from here? Where did they all go from here
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PostSubject: chapter 17   Sat Feb 05, 2011 6:06 am

Chapter 17
In the shadow of darkness Jenny sat on the edge of the bluff, tears silently running down her face. The pain, the anger, the hate, the loneliness she had buried so deep, camouflaged so well for so long had exploded, had ripped through to the surface. The thought of throwing herself off the bluff to the valley floor below did not seem so unreasonable, a just punishment for what she had done.
“Fighting the past is not the way Jen.”
Jenny was startled; she had not heard him approach. Jakala gave her a small smile and held out his hand for her to take. As she did he pulled her to her feet then wiped the tears from her face. In the moonlight they looked like tiny diamonds.
When Jenny spoke it was not the voice of a strong defiant woman. “What have I done? I almost killed him.”
Jakala pulled her closer, made her look at him, his eyes telling her he understood. “You have given the devil time in your life, now you must allow God to take you back.”
His words made her a little angry. “Why? God took away everything I ever loved.”
Jakala’s voice was so tender it was disarming. “Did he Jen?”
Jenny sank back down to the ground crying as Jakala cradled her under his arm. “I love you Jenny and he did not take me. He has not taken the love you have buried so deep inside, it is still there. Bobby and Darren are proof of that. You don’t have to change Jenny just be the woman I know you are, be the woman the children see and love.”
Jenny turned to face him. “I love you very much Jakala you know that?”
Jakala could only smile as she kissed him tenderly on the cheek before settling back at his side. His whole body ached, every fibre, every molecule desperate to give her love, love her the way he wanted to, they way she needed to be loved. It was impossible and it was an agony he carried with him always.
They spent the night atop the valley, Jakala never once taking his eyes off her face as she slept with her head in his lap, Gully by their side.

Both Garrick and Mr Weston looked forlornly at the dark, empty housing knowing that Jenny was not there. Mr Weston sensed Garrick’s heaviness. “You’re welcome to bunk with us tonight mate if you like.”
Both men were out of the Ute and walking back to the bunkhouse before Garrick spoke. It was the voice of a defeated man that Mr Weston heard. “I’m through. First thing in the morning I’ll move into town, catch the first ride out.”
“Don’t quit on her now.”
Garrick stopped in his tracks to face the man he had come to like and admire. “Damn it!! She never wanted me here in the first place! She tried to kill me and God only knows what she will do next. I’m leaving in the morning!!!”
Garrick’s steps faltered at Mr Weston’s words but he kept walking to the house. “Will you stay if she asks you to?”

Garrick sat on the end of his bed wrestling with his thoughts. Cementing his conviction to leave he packed what little he had into a small back pack, checked his camera and equipment making sure it was secure in the silver case and looked out the window seeing Mr Weston in his usual place on the steps of the bunkhouse smoking. Garrick smiled to himself, he would miss the old man. His thoughts dragged through the time since the crash, visions of the Station and Jenny taking over. He tried to think of others he had met, the Doctor, Jakala, Bobby and Darren but each time his thoughts brought him back to Jenny. Jenny, Jenny, Jenny, it was always Jenny. Garrick glanced at his bags forcing him to deal with his decision.
Physically and emotionally drained Garrick gave in to his bodies cry for rest and soon fell asleep.

In the hospital Dr Bradley curled up on an empty bed in the ward where Dean Farmer and his mate has been until they could be flown to Adelaide for treatment. He had stayed with the men doing what he could for them but he knew that both had a long rehabilitation ahead of them. The duty nurse saw him and simply covered him with a blanket.

Bobby and Darren were to spend the night with Ted and his wife Val. She was a lovely grandmotherly type who fussed over the two boys until it was time for bed then made sure they were settle in for the night. All this time Ted had been waiting to tell her the full story and as she returned with a cup of tea for both he began. Unbeknown to the adults the two boys has slipped out of their room to listen and listen they did to every detail.
Once they were sure Ted was finished they scurried back to their room.
“Bobby what you reckon will happen to Miss Jenny, she shot someone?”
“Yeah but he didn’t die did he.”
“But the Sarg will be hopping mad when he gets back tomorrow.”
“So…he’s been mad before….Go to sleep.”
Bobby turned away from his friend with tears in his eye. They were both very worried about Jenny.

It was not the morning breeze or the early morning light that stirred Garrick from the depths of his dream but the sound of the boundary gate as it closed. Standing at the window Garrick watched as Jakala guided Jenny atop her horse to the shed. Neither looked up. Jenny’s whole body slumped into the saddle, defeated. As if he knew Gully walked silently by their side, no barking at the birds this morning. As he watched them disappear into the shed some of Garrick’s anger dissipated but not enough to change his mind about leaving and since he was up that was what he was going to do deciding to meet Jenny and Jakala at the front of the house, let her know what he was planning on doing. He waited for them on the front Verandah as they walked across the yard hand in hand. Jakala and Garrick made eye contact and nodded to each other. Jenny did not look at him until they were face to face. Immediately the speech he had prepared was forgotten, the eyes that looked at him were not those he had seen the night before they were dull, lifeless, the fire behind them had died. It seemed to Garrick that Jenny’s very soul had been driven from her. Her voice was that of a crushed woman, even her actions took him by surprise.
She took hold of one of his hands and squeezed it gently. “Please stay.” She kissed him softly on the cheek before going into the house leaving the two men alone. Neither saw her tears.
“How did she know I was going to leave?”
“Are your bags not packed….Your mind made up?”
“Yes but…..”
Jakala slapped him on the shoulder and guided him through the house to the kitchen. “By coming here you changed your life. By leaving now you will never know the answers and your lifetime will be riddled with uneasiness…..She loves you Rick.”
Now in the kitchen Garrick just starred at his friend. He was so sure, so calm, he had bundled up all of Garrick’s confusion.. “Jakala how can you say that? Besides I don’t love her.”
Jakala was looking out the kitchen window up to the crosses when he answered. “Are you so very sure?”
Garrick was about to answer when Jakala turned, the look on his face shocked him. It was despair and sorrow; such a very deep despair. “She will surely die without your love Rick. For as much as I love her I cannot stop her from dying. Her and I are of one spirit and the part of my spirit that is Jenny has begun to cool.”
Jakala’s statement had stunned Garrick, angered him. It was unrealistic to think that by leaving he would be the cause of her death. No…It was too mystical but rather than lash out at Jakala Garrick went to check on Jenny.
Alone in the kitchen Jakala looked back out to the hill. Even with all that had been said the night before he knew he could still loose her. Indeed her healing had begun but last night Jenny had taken it upon herself to speed her healing to a definite and final conclusion. She would not take a gun but all the same she would kill herself, slowly wasting away until she was dead. He also knew that none of his learning would help. For all that it was worth her anger and pain had given her a reason to live. With that gone there was only one other reason to stay alive and Jakala was not sure if Jenny even knew it. Even Bobby and Darren would not be enough. The small flicker from their candle would not be enough.
He left the house by the rear door and walked and walked until he could walk no more, his pain and tears taking over dragging him to his knees. Surrounded by nothing but nature Jakala let all his pain rumble from his chest as an earth shattering, mournful cry.

Garrick stood outside Jenny’s bedroom door wondering if he was brave enough to knock
expecting a cold command of dismissal after his quiet knock echoed through the house. Instead he only just heard her telling him to come in.
She was standing looking out the window and as she turned Garrick gasped, Jakala’s words taunting him. ‘She loves you.’ Jenny was indeed a beautiful woman and with all the layers of her protection stripped away she looked even more beautiful but her eyes did not tell the same story. Garrick could have sworn she had given up, her eyes sad, empty yet somehow at peace.
She gave him a weak smile, no confidence, no defiance riding on its tail. “Was I so very wrong in what I did?”
“You saved my life.”
Jenny turned back to the window she could not look at him. “Yet I tried to kill you.”
Garrick took a few stops closer to her. “I have it on good authority that if that had been the case I wouldn’t be standing here.”
Garrick’s heart ached for her, she seemed so distant and unattached. “I suppose you are right.”
He took a few more steps getting close enough to touch her and placed his hand on her shoulder. “Then why did you let me live Jenny?”
Garrick had readied himself for just about anything she could throw at him including another right hook but Jenny simply turned and looked at him unblinking while a steady flow of silent tears carved a stream down her face. Garrick drew closer and began to tenderly wipe the tears much the same way Jakala had done only he let his finger trace the contour of her face until it reached her chin.
Their eyes had not left each others. Jenny was strangely aware that she was not afraid to have him so close. Garrick found his feelings for her stirred not with frustration or rage but with compassion and dare he think it ….love. Ever so slowly he dropped his head the short distance between them and gently caressed her lips with his own. Jenny did not move, did not protest, did not object and Garrick kissed her one more time before resting her head on his chest, hugging her and rocking from side to side as he did.
Jenny closed her eyes and held him tight. Garrick whispered in her ear. “I will stay.”

Dr Bradley could see that Sergeant Russell’s blood pressure would need some attention. He had spent the morning rounding up and questioning eyewitnesses to Jenny’s little altercation. Dr Bradley sat quietly through the interrogations amused at how many different accounts one could hear about the same subject. Though people’s recollections were varied and not all together accurate there was one underlying fact for which Dr Bradley was grateful. Every witness in their own way, in some form had agreed that Jenny’s actions had saved Garrick’s life.
Sergeant Russell was a good police officer, diligent in his duties and he knew the time would come to talk to Dean Farmer. He could make a case for self defence but he knew if he did not interview Dean Farmer there would be questions. Dr Bradley accompanied him to the hospital, their subdued natures reflecting that of the town. The afternoons were always the quietest part of the day but this day a heavier silence cloaked the town. The few people they did pass gave them silent recognition, unwilling to be drawn any further into the situation.
The atmosphere in the hospital was no better, it was too quiet.
Dean Farmer was sleeping and instinctively Dr Bradley checked his chart before waking him. Dean Farmer stirred a little as Dr Bradley shook him lightly on the shoulder. Sergeant Russell stood quietly at the other side of the bed waiting. As his eyes fluttered open it was Sergeant Russell that Dean Farmer focused on but Dr Bradleys voice that filtered through the fog of painkillers.
“Dean, Sergeant Russell would like to talk to you.”
Dean Farmer tried to alter his position in the bed shuddering as the pain from his leg grabbed hold. Dr Bradley eased his patient back down. “It’ll be a while before you should try that again.”
Dean seemed to ignore the Doctor, focusing back on Sergeant Russell. “Suppose you want all the details?”
Sergeant Russell nodded.
Dean Farmers first few words were a little shaky. “Jenny put me in my place, I reckon I’ll be in hospital for a while.” He looked to the Doctor. “That right Doc?”
“I’ll get you something for the pain. The Doctor left in silence.
“The Doc hates me.”
Dean Farmer was a little surprised to get an answer from Sergeant Russell “ I’m not going to put on a bed side manner like the Doc. You and I both know how close you came to wearing a body bag. I want the full story Dean and let me remind you I have already talked to the others so no bull.”
Sergeant Russell had expected a barrage of accusations but what he got was completely unexpected. Dean closed his eyes. “Things got a little out of hand, we all had too much to drink and when that yank said….” Dean paused just a little. “I never knew I had a kid Sarg. If Jenny hadn’t come in when she did you’d have arrested me for murder.”
Dr Bradley returned with small needle and injected it into Dean’s IV only then did he speak. “Not long Sergeant , he’ll be out for the count soon.”
“Only one more question. The sergeant looked back to Dean. “Do you want to press charges?”
Dr Bradley tensed and waited for Dean’s answer.
Dean looked down at his leg. “ No…… I….No she doesn’t deserve that.” Dean looked at Sergeant Russell as the pain killers started to take effect. “ No, no charges.”
As Dean Farmer drifted back to sleep Sergeant Russel followed the Doctor out into the hallway. “That is not the same Dean Farmer that gave me a mouthful of cheek when I saw him on the road the other day.”
The Doctor sighed. “Are any of us?”
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PostSubject: Chapter 18   Sat Feb 12, 2011 8:41 am

Chapter 18
Jenny sat at her desk wading through papers and discarding inappropriate letters and mail that had found their way to the Station, briefly looking at e-mails confirming delivery of her stock to market and deposits into her bank account. As she worked an e-mail arrived from Patrick. Over the years he had learnt it was easier than phoning. His email was crisp and concise.
‘Bunyip Run released through all major cities Aust/Asia. UK and USA two weeks. Patrick.’
Jenny printed out the e-mail and filed it, there was only one file left on her desk. It held her will. At sixteen when her father had made her write one it seemed like such a morbid thing to do. Now older and wiser Jenny understood her father’s reasons. No matter how hard you tried you could never hold a steady course; life dealt a cruel set of cards. Jenny allowed herself the small privilege of a single tear as images of her past enveloped every memory. The last, most vivid memory, that of the crash sent a shiver through her. It was only when she reached for her pen that she realised she was trembling. Taking a deep breath Jenny managed to scribble a few amendment on to her will, then scanned it before sending it to her solicitors. With her business concluded Jenny looked to the notes on her computer in regards to another children’s book and for the first time in a long while she broke with her routine. Instead of spending several hours weaving colours into a new adventure for her young readers Jenny simply left the office and walked up the hill. Gully appeared from under the desk and followed his mistress.

Garrick and Mr Weston sat on the steps to the bunkhouse discussing recent events. With his back to the hill Garrick did not see Jenny, Mr Weston did and stopped talking mid sentence. Garrick swung around to follow his gaze to find Jenny standing at the fence to the little cemetery. Mr Weston’s voice was cocooned in heaviness. “If there is a scene to rip your heart out your chest that is it.”
“What are you getting at Jeff?”
“Jenny’s a tough kid but these last …..This thing with Dean Farmer broke her.”
Garrick turned to the old bushman not sure what he was alluding too. “Broke her….Shook her up like it did the rest of us?”
Mr Weston sighed. “No, I mean broke her.” He pointed up to the hill. “Up there you don’t see a woman coming to terms with recent events but a girl coming to the realisation that she is very much alone and has been for a long time.”
Garrick had so many questions but just watched Jenny as she stood, silent and unmoving by the fence.
The sound of a car approaching gave both men a reason to escape the heaviness that had surrounded them. Mr Weston stubbed out his cigarette. “I reckon that’s the Sarg.”
Both men waited for him to pull up outside the bunkhouse, Garrick the first to speak. “You want a statement from me?”
Sergeant Russell shook his head. “Maybe later, I need to talk to Jenny things haven’t panned out the way I expected.”
Garrick shot a worried look at Mr Weston stuttering just a little. “What do you mean?”
“I saw Dean Farmer, his legs’ a mess should be getting shipped out any day now but he didn’t want to press charges. His mate just wants to get out of town, seems he and Jenny have crossed paths before. She caught him setting traps, gave him a nasty scar on his leg as a reminder.
Garrick sighed. “Then why do you need to talk to her if nothing is going to come of it?”
“Procedure mate. I need to make sure Jenny’s not going to try anything else.”
Garrick could feel his pulse thundering through his body as his temper ignited. “Try what damn it! She thinks she is going to gaol!”
Mr Weston put a hand on Garrick shoulder as Sergeant Russell continued. “Steady on Rick. It needs to be done. I’ve dealt with Jenny before she’ll give me straight answers.”
Mr Weston interjected. “You’ll get you answers but take it easy. She’s……” Mr Weston was at a loss as how to explain to Sergeant Russell deciding it was better for him to find out for himself. “Just take it easy.”
“Okay Jeff. Where is she?”
Garrick moved from the step. ”I’ll go get her.”

Jenny never acknowledged that she knew Garrick was with her as he stood behind her feeling as if he was intruding and just wanting to touch her, hold her, tell her that things would work out.
“If I died would my father be proud of what I have accomplished Rick?”
He gave her a single word answers as he stepped closer and took her hand. “Yes.”
Jenny turned to look at him her eyes red from many tears. “Proud of everything I have done?”
“Everything, you have nothing to be ashamed of.”
Jenny sighed. “I’m not so sure.”
Garrick pulled her into a hug. “I am.”
Standing on top of the hill with Jenny in his arms Garrick wished the moment could last forever. Now he knew what his heart had been trying to tell him all along. He did love her. If something was to happen to her he had no idea what he would do. He gave her a gentle squeeze before releasing her. “Sergeant Russell wants to talk to you.”
“I expect he does.”
They walked in silence to the house, Gully sensing he was not invited headed for the birdbath.
As they got to the entrance to her office Jenny sighed and let Garrick’s hand drop. “I’ll see him here Rick….Alone.”
Jenny understood the look Garrick gave her, it was one of concern. Only a short time before she would have dismissed his concern as misguided if in fact it had registered with her at all. Now that her wall, the mask that she wore was gone she began to see things as though the blanket of darkness that had impaired her vision had been dissolved and the true colours of life had escaped its grasp. Jenny could feel the change, her feelings. They had been crippled for so long by her insistence to be strong but now, now that she could feel again she was not sure that she wanted to.
Jenny gave Garrick a sad smile and entered her office. Solemnly he showed himself out the front door and beckoned the sergeant. “She’s in the office.”
Sergeant Russell patted Garrick on the shoulder as he passed him. “She’ll be right.”
Garrick pondered on the Sergeant’s words. Would Jenny indeed be all right? The change in her had been sudden. Garrick had never seen anyone change so dramatically, so quickly, the stories of Jenny’s change due to the accident up to that point had been just that…stories. His first hand involvement unnerved him. Even more so as he remembered Jakala’s words. If he was to be Jenny’s life line how did he carry out his responsibilities? He understood what Jakala had seen in her and he could not stand by and watch her die yet had no idea of how he was going to get her to live if she had already made up her mind.

Waiting for Sergeant Russell to reappear Garrick and Mr Weston once again sat on the steps to the bunkhouse. Mr Weston chain-smoked while Garrick wrestled with his thoughts. When the Sergeant did appear they rose and met him in the middle of the yard. “That’s the second time today I have been prepared for a battle and not had to fight. You think maybe she’s in shock? I mean she was pleasant.”
Garrick didn’t answer just asked his own question. “So where to from here?”
“Pretty cut and dried, might need some papers signed.” The Sergeant eye-balled Garrick. “I’m no expert but I reckon she needs to get away from here for a while….Maybe the Doc should take a look at her.”
Mr Weston spoke up. “We’ll look after her. You tell the Doc if we need him we’ll call.”

Garrick had sat on the edge of Jenny’s bed until she had fallen asleep, now he sat in the darkness on the front verandah. The bunkhouse was also in darkness, Mr Weston finding the days events mentally exhausting.
The air was silent, no animal stirred; even the breeze has laid itself to rest. Garrick felt like the whole world was holding its breath. He jumped hearing Jakala’s voice so close to him not even knowing he had arrived.
“Your heart beats but you hear it not my friend.”
“Where the hell have you been? Jenny needs you.” Garrick rose to his feet realising he was angry with Jakala for leaving.
In response Jakala answered without raising his voice. “I cannot give her what she needs. I have not left, Jenny knows I am with her.” Jakala settled himself on the step forcing Garrick to do the same. “Jenny needs to be in a place where she feels safe, a place that holds life, a place where she can recover without the torment of death seeping into her dreams.”
“But there is no place on earth like that I…” He never finished.
“We all have our own place Rick. Jenny has such a place on this very station. We shall take her tomorrow and stay for as long as it takes.” He turned to Garrick. “Get some rest my friend we shall both need your strength before this is over.”
Garrick slept restlessly that night while Jakala remained at Jenny’s side smiling at her whenever she opened her eyes. Gully not content with his usual place at the bottom of the bed made himself a niche close enough to Jenny’s hand so she could pat him without stretching.
The Norman Station resonated with heavy silence that night.

Garrick stood by his open window watching Mr Weston and the few men who had remained behind disappear past the boundary fence. The day was still young yet he felt an uneasiness that had nothing to do with the weather. He wondered if he was strong enough to keep the nightmare that had been Jenny’s life from devouring him.

Entering the kitchen Jakala smiled at him over a cup of coffee. “Sleep did not come easy for you either?”
Garrick shook his head and poured himself a coffee before sitting across from Jakala. He took a sip before speaking hoping it would give him extra strength. “I’m worried about her Jakala. She’s changed like…”
“Like she is dying. She has touched you, you no longer feel anger or frustration when you think of her. Your spirit sees what your eyes did not.” Jakala paused. “You love her.”
Garrick took another sip of his coffee. “It just doesn’t seem right, we have not known each other long.”
“I have known her all my life yet I cannot give her the kind of love she needs….You can.”
Garrick stared at Jakala as he remembered how they had been that night in his room. “You love her too, don’t you? Not just as a friend but as a man loves a woman. I’ve watched you with her Jakala you…”
Jakala cut him off. “Yes I do love her. Do you have any idea how I ache being so close and knowing I will never be able to call her my own…Never.” He stood to look out the kitchen window. “Knowing that I will spend my life alone because I cannot love another woman. If God had given me different coloured skin don’t you think I would have married Jenny. Dean Farmer would have had no claim on her.”
Garrick was surprised by Jakala’s openness. “Jenny doesn’t care about the colour of you skin, surely you know that?”
When Jakala turned Garrick could see that he was just holding on. “Of course I know that. Don’t you see that is what makes this so much more difficult. I know she accepts me but I love her too much to tear down all the Norman name stands for, I can’t.” Jakala sat back down at the table and spoke in a calmer voice. “Rick you love Jenny. I am glad for now I can be at peace in a way; you will be the one to give her my love. Garrick, Jenny thinks of me as her brother, she does not know how deep my feelings run for her and there is no reason why she should ever know.”
Garrick nodded, in their silence their fate sealed.

Through the night Gully had nuzzled at Jenny’s face and it was the warmth of his breath that woke her. She stroked his head as silent tears welled up and flowed. Her heart seemed so much heavier than it had the day before. Images raced through her mind as pain chased the ache through her body. She was still crying as she got into the shower her tears mingling with the water as if they too were trying to escape from her.

Garrick stood at the entrance of the shed taking candid shots while Jakala skilfully tended to the horses. While his hands worked with the saddle he answered Garrick’s silent questions. “Jenny needs nature to help her heal. We need no reminders of the world.” He looked right at Garrick’s camera. “No camera Rick please.”
Garrick turned the camera over in his hands and nodded his understanding. As he walked back to the house he took the strap from around his neck. Even if he did manage to secretly take it with him he knew the temptation to use it would be too much and Jenny was too important.

Jenny’s voice startled him as he walked passed her office. He smiled but the smile soon disappeared, she was so very pale. Her eyes had ceased to sparkle with fire or life. Garrick understood she was dying. Sitting behind her desk she looked so very fragile not the commanding woman who ran a cattle station. Garrick had the feeling that if he looked away she would simply vanish and his voice was barely above a whisper. “Maybe you should try and get some more sleep.” The inane statement floated around the room before Garrick could stop himself.
Jenny stood and Garrick thought he saw a small smile as she got closer and looked into his eyes his breath choked in his throat, her eyes were vacant like her soul had been stolen, like the very essence of her life had evaporated. Jenny touched his hand gently. Her touched shocked him, she was so cold. Garrick waited for her to say something, instead Jenny kissed him softly on the cheek and walked away leaving the house through the kitchen door.
“Dear God don’t let her die.”

After securing his camera back in the silver case that had so intrigued Bobby and Darren, Garrick returned to Jakala who was standing with the horses watching Jenny up on the hill. As much as Garrick tried not to look he found himself drawn to the scene. “She looks terrible Jakala. Not just tired or sick but…” Garrick could not force the word over his lips.
“Dying.” Jakala voice resounded with passion and love and sorrow. “Your prayers may not be enough. She is part of me Rick and she is fading. We need to go.”
Garrick was just about to offer to go and get her when Jenny turned to walk down the hill as if Jakala’s words had reached her.
Jakala mounted his horse. “You may see things you cannot explain Rick. Are you up to that?”
Garrick settled into his own saddle. “I guess we are about to find out.”
Jakala turned his horse and pulled Jenny’s horse behind him to meet her at the rear of the house. “That we shall.”
Jenny mounted her horse and rode between the two men, eyes cast down and for the first time Gully did not follow just sat on the stop step of the verandah watching them leave.
In the days to come Mr Weston would feed the dog in this same spot, Gully refusing to leave the homestead. He would not go with men as they left each morning and each evening Mr Weston would sit with the dog for a while. Some nights Mr Weston contemplated what the future winds would bring to the Norman Station. Uneasiness stirred with in him and it would not be laid to rest until Jenny returned.

Jenny, Jakala and Garrick sat at the edge of a ridge looking down in to the most spectacular sight Garrick has ever seen. He reached for his camera realising he was unarmed. There below sheltered from the hard land that surround it was a lush valley, a utopia.
They all dismounted and Jenny wandered off over a small rise. “We walk from here Rick. My people will need to know you mean this place or them no harm.”
Garrick looked around; as far as he was concerned they could have been the only three people on the planet.
Jakala smiled. “They have been with us for sometime. You would not have been allowed to get this far on your own.”
Garrick looked to the valley below. “How do we get down there?” He had assumed correctly that they would be descending to the valley below.
Jakala followed Jenny and Garrick followed Jakala and found them standing at what he thought was a sheer rock face, Jenny’s horse was nowhere to be seen. Garrick was about to speak when several of Jakala’s people seemed to materialise from the bush. Garrick heard Jakala greeted them in a language he had not heard before and they spoke for several minutes before two more men approached and took the horses from Garrick and Jakala leaving as quietly as they had arrived.
“They shall return, we shall need their knowledge before we are through.” Jakala looked to the rock face, “Shall we?”
Jakala took Jenny’s hand but as she looked at him the emptiness in her eyes made his very soul ache with sorrow, even her voice had begun to die. “Why here?”
Jakala stroked her cheek gently and like Garrick found her to be cold under his touch. “Your spirit is strongest here. We will live or die in this place you and I.”
Hand in hand they walked through the chasm into the valley. Garrick followed knowing he would never have found the doorway on his own, also knowing it was meant to be. The raw beauty of the valley took his breath away, again he reached for his missing camera.
Sitting Jenny under the shade of a large tree Jakala returned to Garrick. “Apart from the Norman’s you are the only white man given permission to enter.
Garrick was well aware of the under current in Jakala’s voice. “Now what? Jenny needs help and…”
“I know my friend and here.” Jakala waved his hand across the valley. “Is the only place she will find it.”
Garrick’s frustration in his inability to help roared like a fire a he shot words of anger at Jakala. “How the hell are we supposed to help her in the middle of nowhere!!!!”
Jakala pulled Garrick away from Jenny’s resting place. “Did I not say you would see things you would not understand! Do you think a doctor can help her Rick do you?”
Garrick looked back to Jenny and shook his head, his shoulders dropping with the weight of the knowledge.
“Here with my people is her only hope. I do not understand all their ways but I trust them, she is part of their family as she is part of me.” Jakala grabbed hold of both of Garrick’s shoulder to get his point across. “Help me bring her back before the darkness covers us all.”
Jakala walked back to Jenny and made her lay down, kissing her on the forehead, it was as if she was already dead.

The valley sank into eerie silence as night closed in, the crackle from their small fire seeming to make too much noise. Jenny was nestled under Jakala’s arm and slept, Garrick had been gazing into the fire for the past few hours throwing the odd stick in when needed so it was quite a surprise to find himself surrounded by at least a dozen of Jakala’s people; he never heard them approach. He did not move only watching the silent transaction that took place between Jakala and a man who was clearly an elder. The elder motioned with his hands and from behind the rest of the group the only woman stepped forward, bending down she touched Jenny’s closed eyes, her cheeks, gently laid her hand on Jenny’s chest watching it rise and fall as she breathed. It was then that Garrick realised that Jenny’s breathing was very, very slow. The old woman stood mumbling something to Jakala. His reaction was immediate and Garrick did not need to understand their language to understand Jakala’s body language. It was in his eyes, in his voice, he was pleading with the old woman. Unable to contain himself any longer Garrick jumped up with the intention of getting some answers only to find himself back on his knees with his hands restrained from behind with other heavy hands resting on his shoulders making sure he could not move. He shot a look at Jakala. “Damn it Jakala tell me what the hell is going on!!!”
That is when he saw the tears rolling down Jakala’s face. Garrick looked from Jakala to Jenny still resting in his arms then back to his friend. “No!!!!” His scream came from the very depths of his soul echoing around the valley. “She can’t die!” Garrick looked to the old woman. “Tell her I’ll do anything!”
With those words the men released Garrick and he scrambled to Jenny’s side. Jakala released her, leaning her back against the tree. The woman stood in front of them all, Garrick on one side of Jenny, Jakala on the other his voice trembling. “You would do anything Rick?”
Garrick shot his friend a fierce look grabbing at his arm. “I’d tear out my own heart if I had to. Tell her!!! I love her, I don’t know how it happened but it did, she can’t die not now, not like this, she can’t just give up!” He cradled Jenny in his arms. “Not like this!!”
The old woman spoke in English. “If the only way for her to live is for you to die…You die?” She knelt down in front of them taking one of Jenny’s hands into her own. Without taking her eyes of Garrick she took one of Jakala’s hands in her own and cupped them all together. Her eyes never flickered, she never blinked as she mumbled something to the men in her own tongue. Before Garrick could react one of the men bent down and picked a burning branch from the fire and drove it into Jenny’s side. Jenny never moved, never cried out, it was Jakala that screamed and sank to the ground in agony. As two men attended to Jakala the old woman spoke directly to Garrick. “Jakala, Jenny are one. She die in this time both die. Now…You ready to die? Take place of him?” She pointed to Jakala.
Garrick looked down into Jenny’s face before giving the old woman his answer. “Yes.”

Darren sat bolt upright in bed yelling at the top of his lungs. It didn’t take Dr Bradley long to get to his son’s side and hold him. “It was just a bad dream.”
The young boy was sobbing and shaking uncontrollable in his father’s arms. “She’s dead, Miss Jenny. Dad she’s dead!!”
Dr Bradley pulled him further into a hug. “No. She’s okay. It was just a bad dream Jenny is fine.”
Truth be told Dr Bradley had no idea how Jenny was, he had gotten little out of Mr Weston when he had been at the Station the other day to find Jenny missing.
Dr Bradley cradled his son for a while longer waiting for him to calm down. When it was all right to leave him Dr Bradley left returning with a sedative he gave to his son. He settled him back into bed and stroked his forehead until he fell asleep. Just as he was about to settle himself back into bed the phone wrang. Glancing at the bedside clock told him it was three in the morning. Dr Bradley had expected the call to come from the hospital, it was Mr Owen, Bobby’s mother.
“You need to come over right away Doctor Bradley my son is hysterical.”
Dr Bradley tried to calm the woman down and get some answers.
“He woke up screaming that Jenny Norman was dead. I’ve tried everything and he won’t calm down. He insists that he has to find her. what do I do?”
Her words sent shivers down his spine. “I’m on my way. Just sit with him, hold him.”
Dr Bradley quickly slipped his track pants over his shorts and pulled on a T-shirt, still trying to get his arm through the hole while he looked in on his own son. The sedative would keep the boy asleep until morning. Dr Bradley grabbed his medical bag as he darted for the front door.

He heard shuffling of feet as he knocked on the front door to the Owens’s residence. Mrs Owen looked pale and drawn. “He’s in his room Doctor, follow me.”
Dr Bradley followed her to the back part of the house to find Bobby wedge in the far corner of his bed up against the wall, legs folded under his chin and his hands clasped around them like he was trying to keep himself together. The boy was shaking as he stared off into the distance. Dr Bradley knelt at the side of his bed gently resting his hand on the boys leg. “Hey Bobby it’s Darren’s dad. I’ve come to see how you are.”
Bobby looked at the doctor and began to cry. “I saw them burn her. She’s dead. Miss Jenny’s dead!” He flung his arms around the doctor’s neck much the same way his own son had done and all Mrs Owen could do was watch on helplessly. Dr Bradley gathered the boy up and laid him on the bed.
Listen to me Bobby. Jenny is just fine. She is with Jakala and Garrick. Do you think they would let anything happen to her?”
Bobby dried his eyes while looking at the doctor trying to make up his mind his he would lie to him.
“It was just a bad dream Bobby. Lots of things have happened around here and it is just your minds way of dealing with it all. I promise Jenny is okay,” Dr Bradley stole at look at Bobby’s mother before continuing. “My Darren had a bad dream tonight as well. That is all it was though a bad dream. That is all you had. Now I am going to give you something to help you sleep.”
With in minutes of giving Bobby the injection the boy was asleep and Dr Bradley tucked in his sheets and gave him a small kiss on the forehead. Closing his bag he followed Mrs Owen back to the front door. “He’ll sleep through the night. Send him to the hospital tomorrow and I’ll check on him.” Looking closer at Mrs Owen. “Would you like something to help you sleep?”
She shook her head. “No I’ll be fine.”
Just as Dr Bradley was about to leave she spoke again. “You said Darren had a bad dream. This bad?”
“Yes it was. The boys are very close to Jenny. It is only natural that all that has happened would affect them. I think it would be good for the boys to get together and work through it with each other. I’ll keep an eye on them for a while.”
“Thank you Doctor.”

Dr Bradley sat behind the steering wheel of his car for a while wondering how the boys would cope if something did happen to Jenny. Her whirlpool had dragged them to its very edge and threatened to devour them completely.

Somewhere in the haze of the night Garrick had fallen asleep. Upon waking he found himself alone and immediately his heart began to race then he saw them. Jakala, Jenny and the old woman, all three in the water. Garrick did not take his eyes off them as he stood, stretching the sleep from his body before walking to the waters edge not sure if he should say anything. Jakala held Jenny in his arms and Garrick took a quick look around the valley. No one, everyone else was gone. Though a fleeting thought made him look again, maybe they were still close by but he was not aware of their presence.
Jakala looked to him and handed Jenny to the old woman walking towards Garrick. He was naked except for the tradition dress of his people but it was not the way he was dressed that shocked Garrick, it was the wound on Jakala’s side. Jakala nodded his head as he reached Garrick. “She is burning up Rick, please come and help.” That was all he said before returning to the cool, crisp water.
Garrick pulled off his shoes and socks then without undoing the buttons pulled his shirt over his head, flinging it to the ground. He was at Jakala side by the time they reached the old woman. Jakala was about to take Jenny back into his arms but Garrick stopped him. “Let me.”
They stood in the waist high water for a long time, Garrick’s lower limbs numb from the chill. His arms ached and he shivered with the cold. Jakala had offered several times to take Jenny but he had refused to let her go. The old woman chanted and mumbled over Jenny, Her chants intensifying each time Jenny stirred and thrashed in the water as she cried out from her fitful sleep. Through it all Garrick held her, looking down into her face he knew one thing…He loved her and he would give up his life for her.
After his arms had cramped more than once Garrick conceded and handed Jenny back to Jakala. Her fits and ravings had become less frequent and as the sun dipped behind the ridge of the valley they left the water. Jakala placed Jenny on a blanket next to the fire as Garrick built it back up again and the old woman busied herself making a paste of berries and leaves and other bush bits and pieces. Garrick could see blood seeping from the wound on Jakala’s side. “How long has it been like that?” At first he did not get an answer so he moved to the other side of the fire, placing his hand on Jakala’s shoulder. “How long Jakala?”
Jakala gave him a response but not the one Garrick had expected. The pain in Jakala’s eyes went so very deep.
The old woman shuffled between them discarding Garrick like a piece of dead wood pulling Jakala to his feet, slapping the paste substance on his wound. Jakala winced before giving the old woman a kiss on the cheek.
Turning to Garrick with fire in her eyes the old woman got hold of him with more force than he thought possible for someone so small, so old. Mumbling something he did not understand she pounded her hand palm first onto his chest with such force that Garrick almost lost his footing. The paste that had been on her hand left and impression on his chest. The old woman knelt beside Jenny and did the same while Garrick looked to Jakala for an explanation. “You have been marked. You could not leave Jenny now even if you wanted to.”
Looking down at Jenny he did not want to leave though he did not understand how he had come to love a woman whose initial reception had been so cold it had made his skin crawl. He did not see that woman any more, now he saw the person that Jakala had always seen in her.
The old woman’s voice broke his concentration as she beckoned both men to join her.
Again the old woman put her hand on Jenny’s chest and watched it rise and fall. Garrick noticed that Jenny’s breathing was more regular. The old woman took one of Jenny’s hands and placed it on her stomach, she did the same with Jakala and Garrick’s hands before shuffling around, sitting crossed legged and placing Jenny’s head in her lap. The old woman began to mumble again stroking Jenny’s forehead like a grandmother nursing a sick child.
The change had not been instant, more or less creeping up on him so Garrick was surprised at the discomfort in his chest, finding it increasingly hard to breath. When He looked at Jakala he could see that he was also finding it hard to breath. Garrick could hear his heart pounding in his ears as his lungs felt like they would explode, he began to panic trying to remove his hand from Jenny. Jakala held him down with his free hand. Both men were expending all their energy into breathing but somehow Jakala remained calm, there was a peace about him, no panic. With his free hand Garrick was clawing at his own neck in a futile attempt to help himself. As his vision blurred and his mind became foggy his own words came back to haunt him. He had said he would die for her. His last vision before he sank into unconsciousness was that of Jakala already slumped over Jenny.

Mr Weston return to the homestead that night to find Gully in the same spot only this time the dog was howling and by its distressed state had been doing so for some time. Mr Weston spoke softly to the dog as he sat beside it and stoked its head. After several minutes the dog stopped crying, placing its head on Mr Weston’s lap.
Mr Weston was a tough old man with no time for tears but this night silently they fell. Neither was he a praying man but with Gully by his side he prayed for Jenny, prayed for them all.

Bobby and Darren were more inseparable than they had ever been and for his own piece of mind Dr Bradley kept them under close observation. At the moment the two boys sat shoulder to shoulder watching a movie and when bobby had arrived instead of throwing his stuff in the spare room as was the routine the boys had insisted that the bed be moved into Darren’s room. The boys had arranged the room so they could be as close as possible without getting into the same bed.
In tandem the boys looked at Dr Bradley tears running down their faces. Neither boy had said a word for the past few hours but the pain in their eyes made the Doctor shudder.
“What is it boys?”
Darren voice trembled. “Can we go to the church Dad?”
That had surprised the Doctor; he had not been inside a church since his wife had died. “I suppose I could take you tomorrow.”
It was Bobby’s turn to speak with an urgency in his voice, “No….We have to go now.”
Dr Bradley knelt before the boys about to explain the rational reasons for leaving their trip until the next day but one look into their faces told him there was no point. “I’ll call the Pastor make sure it’s okay.”
Dr Bradley spent several minutes on the phone to Teran Parker, the Pastor of the only church for over 800 kilometres. Who was very happy to oblige once he heard why. There was no one in town that did not know Jenny or had not heard of the events of the past few weeks. It seemed the Pastor was no exception. Dr Bradley returned to the boys with the news expecting it to bring a smile to their faces. The only response he got was when both boys stood.
The boys had sat at the very front of the church, where as Dr Bradley was standing almost at attention at the back. Ps Teran also stood at the back of the church. He had intentionally let the boys pick their own spot. Standing next to the doctor it was not hard to notice his apprehension.
Ps Teran Parker was a mild man in his mid forties, who like many had come to the outback with the intention to returning to the city once his indenture was complete and like many had remained. His light sandy hair fell in curls to his shoulders, he wore a checked shirt much the same as Jenny wore and moleskin pants. His flock were an eclectic group and today that included two young boys . He patted the doctor on the shoulder with a reassuring hand. “This is my operating room Doc lets see what I can do.” He walked quietly down to the front of the church and even more quietly sat behind the boys listening to their conversation. Seemed that now they were in the church they had no idea what to do. Both boys jumping as Ps Teran spoke. “What ever it is you want just ask boys.”
Bobby spoke up. “We don’t know how.”
Ps Teran smile at the boys helping them relax a little. “You ask your parents for things all the time right?”
The boys nodded.
“Well try it like that.”
The boys looked at each other then back to the Pastor. “Would you like me to leave you alone for a while?”
Both boys shook their heads not sure if they could do what they had to. Darren spoke up. “Can you stay…Make sure we get it right?”
Ps Teran smiled at the boys as only he could. “Sure. I’ll even start you off if you like.”
The boys nodded.
The trio stood in the isle as Ps Teran began to pray and the boys bowed their heads and closed their eyes. Dr Bradley said a silent prayer of his own.

Jenny, Jakala and Garrick sat hand in hand encircling a small fire watching the flames lick at the night. Garrick looked to Jenny, the flames making her eyes, her whole face come alive. An excruciating pain thundered through his chest and Garrick let go of her hand….Instantly the blackness engulfed him. He could hear the mish-mash of voices and the sound of his own lungs gulping for air. He coughed, trying to breathe as deep as he could. Garrick dare not open his eyes until he was sure he was capable of breathing normally. The confusing sounds arranged themselves into recognisable voices and he heard his name over and over again. He understood it was Jakala and the mumbling was the old woman. As he opened his eyes to focus on the dark smiling face of his friend the woman fell silent. His words scratched as they escaped from his throat. “Am I dead?”
Jakala pulled him into a sitting position, up until that point he had been laying under the same tree that had shaded Jenny. Jakala’s words unnerved him. “For three days now you and I..”
“What!!” Garrick almost fell face first into the dirt as he tried to stand. His body was weak and he sank back onto his knees.
Jakala had not moved but by the look of his had tried the same thing. “It will be a while before your land legs return.”
Garrick held his head low trying to come to terms with reality. “Jenny’s gone….”
Jakala touched his friend on the shoulder before pointing to the water. “ No..She is with us once more.”
She stood with her back to them waist high in the water. Garrick wanted to run to her, put his arms around her, make sure it was not all a dream but his body resisted. All he could do was sit and watch in wonder, drinking in her beauty. Garrick glanced around the valley, except for the three it was empty.
Jakala answered his unspoken question. “She has gone back to her people. Her work is done.”
The men sat in silence. Jakala knowing that Jenny would be safe with Garrick, his instincts had been right all along. He could not be with Jenny but Garrick would love her almost as much, he would make her happy. Jakala and Jenny had a bond that would never be broken but now there was another.

Garrick’s thoughts flashed through his life since arriving at the Norman Station. Jakala had been right, he had experienced things he could not explain, seen things that had dazzled, amazed and shocked him and realised that he and Jenny were not so different. For years he had been hiding from people, hiding behind his camera, running from assignment to assignment, from country to country. Jenny had been running and hiding though it was her emotions that travelled further with in her. Garrick had never loved anyone before; he never thought he would fall in love. Scared that he would not be able to commit to such a relationship, scared of what would be asked of him. Sitting under a tree he did not no the name, in a country he did not understand, he understood he loved Jenny. Understood what love was and what it would ask of him. It would ask for his life fully and completely with no compromise. It was a love that bound souls for eternity and it had bound him to Jenny and Garrick had no wish for it to be any other way. However love could be cruel, he loved Jenny but did she love him? Love had cast a ray of hope towards his heart only to have it lost in a storm of despair if she did not feel the same way.
Garrick sighed realising that things may not have changed all that much. Jenny was still Jenny. His personal revelation about his love for her did not change the fact that she was the woman that had chilled his blood. Yes love was cruel; Garrick had made himself so very vulnerable to Jenny’s power. He was willing to die for her and not at all sure that he hadn’t but he needed to know whether it was time for him to leave, start running again knowing full well he would always carry the pain with him.
“Jakala I need to ask her something. It’s important.”
Jakala smiled at his friend. “She loves you Rick. In her own way she really does. Give her time. Her heart, her soul will heal and you will see the Jenny I have known for so long.”
“How do you know she loves me, If anything she should hate me for turning her world upside down.”
“You still have much to learn. You have changed her life for the better. I know she loves you because I love her. We have been one for many years. We think, live, breathe as one.” Jakala looked into the ashen face of his friend with calmness and serenity. “The circle has widened for where there was two there is now three.” His gaze fell on Jenny as she walked towards them. “She is a creature of beauty, of passion, of tenderness, of insight, of love. Treat her well my friend.”
Garrick also watched Jenny gracefully glide from the water, her body glistening as droplets sang in the sunlight. Her lingerie hugged her body yet paled against her natural beauty. Even the scar that she carried on her arm from his rescue did not seem out of place yet it was her eyes that transfixed him. They shone with life and love. Dare he think that they even smiled. Could the darkness that had wrapped itself around her soul actually have gone?
“A creature of passion.” He heard Jakala’s voice beside him but dared no take his eyes off the angel that walked towards them. He tried to stand and again his body let him down.
Jenny knelt down in front of the two men, her hair framing a face that told of the change that had taken place. Gone were the lines of despair and pain only a smooth landscape of peace remained. No one spoke. Jakala because he did not need to. Garrick because he could not.
Tenderly Jenny ran he fingers around the contours of Jakala’s face before bringing her face as close to his without touching. For several moments they looked at each other, breathing in each others life and then they kissed. It was not a long kiss but it made Garrick’s heart sink just a little. He looked away then felt Jenny’s hand on his own. Looking up he found her as close to him as she had been to Jakala. He could feel her breath as it ran like sweet honey down his throat. She smiled. This was not the same woman Garrick had met on his arrival. First she kissed him softly on one cheek, then the other pausing to look him straight in the eyes. His whole body trembled but this time it was not with fright. Jenny kissed him….It was not a kiss he would soon forget and as if afraid that she would vanish Garrick wrapped his arms around her. Feeling the coolness of her body against his he got his answer. She did love him. For a moment he held onto the woman Jakala had known all his life, the women Bobby and Darren loved so much.
Jenny sat back on her haunches and like she had done with Jakala she ran her fingers across his face, across the scar left by his injuries. Her touch felt like silk against his skin. Jenny did not speak only smiling as she stood and walked away.
Garrick’s reactions where somewhat slow and by the time he had thought to call her name it seemed unnecessary. He watched as she clothed herself, waved and began to walk to the other side of the valley.
“Where is she going Jakala…I thought?”
“She still has much thinking to do. There are things she needs to come to terms with. Some old….Some new.”
Garrick went to take a deep breath when the pain shot through his chest.
“It was not a dream Rick. I have the wound to prove it.” Jakala lifted up his shirt and on his side Garrick saw the evidence of their first night in the valley. Jakala bore the remains of a dreadful burn.
“But that’s impossible!!” Garrick was about to continue when he remembered something. “I asked you if I was dead before and you said.”
“Three days. The impossible is sometimes more attainable than the possible.”
“But Jenny. I feel so weak yet she has more strength than the two of us put together right now.”
Jakala, all be it a little unsteady stood with the aid of the tree to keep his balance. “Jenny has walked these three days as we have slept.”
Garrick was unable to let the challenge slip by and stood as well. Needing far more help from the tree to steady himself. “Wouldn’t exactly call it sleeping.”
“What would you call that part of eternity between life and death?”
“Jakala!!!” Garrick was in no mood to play games. “I want an explanation. What the hell happened?”
Jakala sighed knowing it was not going to be easy. “A full explanation will take time and you may still not understand. I have grown up with the stories of dreamtime. I have lived as both white man and aboriginal. I understand the concept of God but somehow my ancestors still have hold of my soul.” Jakala sank back down to the ground and Garrick followed. “Jenny took life from us so that she could live.” As he doodled in the dirt from the corner of his eye he saw Garrick shuffle a little uneasy. “As we slept she gained strength, our strength. Your word for the old woman would be witch doctor and the truth is yes, you could have just as easily died as returned. You told her you would die for Jenny, she already knew my answer. In a way we both died a little to save her.”
Garrick felt cold and shuddered. What part of him had died? Would he notice any change? Had he actually died or was Jakala speaking spiritually?

Jakala’s own feelings were in need of silent contemplation. Soon it would be time for him to leave. A chore he did begrudgingly for he knew it was for the best. A chore he had done and would continue to do all his life. He would come as his heart stirred when she called and he would leave when the waters were once again calm.

Dr Bradley had called the Norman Station every day since Jenny, Garrick and Jakala had left hoping for news. Each time Mr Weston’s reply was the same and the doctor had expected as much but today was different. The old bushman began babbling on about Jenny’s dog and the doctor’s heart sank. He knew the dog had been pining for Jenny and knew it was a possibility that the animal would mourn until it died and the last reports from Mr Weston had confirmed the doctor’s suspicions. However Mr Weston was reporting that for the first time in almost a week the dog was barking, eating and chasing the birds from their bath so he could drink. Mr Weston was convinced that Jenny was on her way home. Dr Bradley thanked Mr Weston for the update and asked for Jenny to call him when she did get home.
Had Dr Bradley realised what kind of surprises were in store for him that day he may have armed himself with more than a cup of coffee for breakfast. He could hear children playing outside his office window. Not an unusual thing for the hospital. What was unusual was the fact that Dr Bradley was looking at Bobby and Darren, a dramatic contrast to the past few days and too good an opportunity to pass up. The doctor joined the boys for some fresh air.
Seeing his father Darren ran to him with a smile on his face, Bobby not to far behind. All the doctor could do was return the smiles. “I am glad to see you two are feeling better.”
Darren hugged his father. “Miss Jenny is coming home can you take us to see her?”
Dr Bradley was a little taken back. “How do you know? No one knows where she is.”
Bobby stepped closer to the doctor. “Dr Bradley please. We asked Go to bring her back.”
A lump rose in the doctor’s throat, a knife stabbing at his heart. He had asked for such a miracle once but God had chosen not to listen. How did he explain to these boys that Jenny may never come back? He released himself from the boys standing very tall and looking very official but Darren saw the look in his father’s eyes. “It’s okay Dad. God needed Mum, He doesn’t need Miss Jenny yet, she can stay with us for a while longer.”
Dr Bradley sank to his knees and grabbed both boys. How children could see through all the masks we wear.
“Okay….If you believe she is coming home I will take you to the station but…”
The boys looked at each other. There was always a BUT….
“You have to promise to do as you are told. Jenny is ill and she may not be able to see you.”
The boys looked at each other and the doctor got the feeling they knew something he did not.
As the boys darted towards the doctor’s station wagon a rather flustered nurse appeared. “Doctor you are wanted on the radio.”
Dr Bradley followed the nurse back inside the hospital. “Is it Kelly Douglas from Hopeton Station? That babies been giving her hell of late.”
The nurse kept walking as she replied. “No… Jeff from the Norman Station, Babbling about Jenny being home.”
The nurse had to stop fast as Dr Bradley came to a sudden halt. “Jenny’s back?”
The nurse nodded and almost pushed him over the reception counter to the radio.
It seemed that Mr Weston was anxious about Jenny’s health. Through his almost incoherent waffling Dr Bradley got the gist of the one sided conversation. Jenny looked fine, Garrick looked dreadful.

Jenny’s return had been an event in itself. Mr Weston had been sitting on the steps of the bunk house watching Gully chase birds when all of a sudden the dog stopped dead, cocked it’s head as if listening for something then bolted for the boundary fence, scrambled through it and up the road. Mr Weston ran after it realising once he was at the fence what all the fuss was for. Three people on horseback approached; Jenny’s outline unmistakable. Mr Weston flung open the boundary gate his heart racing, his hands sweaty.
Once Gully had reached Jenny’s horse he played his usual game between its legs and the old bushman thought his ears were playing tricks on him. Not only did he hear laughter from the men but that of Jenny as well.
It had been a long time, her laugh like a sweet opera to his ears. Jenny whistled and Gully bounded, leaping onto Jenny’s lap. This was how the trio entered through the gate. Mr Weston dare not look at Jenny but once the boundary gate was closed he had no more excuses. Turning to face them he found Jenny dismounted, standing smiling at him. It had been such a long time since he had seen that smile but as uncomfortable as he was with her cold hearted stare, he was far more uncomfortable only just mustering the courage to speak her name. “Miss Jenny.”
Her reaction astounded him. “Oh, Jeff.” Jenny flung her arms around the old bushman hugging him with all her strength. Mr Weston looked to Jakala and Garrick for an explanation, They just smiled at him. Realising that a hug should be returned in kind Mr Weston put his limp arms to good use, giving Jenny a tentative hug of his own. Jenny kissed him on the cheek just missing his ear and whispered something no one else would hear. “Please forgive me Jeff.” Kissing Mr Weston once more Jenny pulled the reigns to her horse and raced Gully to the shed.
The three men followed. “What you fellas do to her out there? She’s.”
Jakala cut him off. “Yes she is.”

Garrick lay on his bed conscious of the fact that both his body and mind were exhausted. The last few days draining him of much of his physical and mental energy, Jakala had been right; he had been witness to things he did not understand. As sleep overcame him his thoughts were happy thoughts. The familiar sound of the boundary gate hovering as he slept.

The boundary gate had been opened and Gully sensing the arrival of someone before the others darted from under the kitchen table. Hand in hand Jenny and Jakala walked down the hall to the front verandah.
Dr Bradley had seen the dog as he closed the gate and smiled with relief as he also saw Jenny and Jakala appear. He was not about to give the dog an excuse to attack and waited in the car until Jenny gave her silent command and the dog scampered back into the house. Although stunned by what he saw the doctor’s heart warmed to see Jenny volunteering an outward sign of affection for someone other than the two boys for she still held Jakala’s hand.
Upon reaching the house the doctor gave the boys strict instruction to remain in the car until further notice. Neither boy spoke but it was very clear they were not happy about it. Dr Bradley mounted the verandah and shook Jakala’s hand. “Nice to have you back.”
Jakala shook his hand. “Never left D.B, never left.”
Dr Bradley took a deep breath turning his attention to Jenny expecting her usual chilling reception and was taken aback as she offered her hand, looked him in the eyes and spoke not with pain or malice but with gratitude. “Thank you for coming Dr Bradley. I expect Mr Weston called you…… Please come inside.” Jenny smiled again, stepping aside to let the doctor enter. So overwhelmed by the change in Jenny he almost forgot the boys. “The boy’s….. They’re in the car.”
He turned to go and get them but Jenny stopped him with a gentle hand on his arm. “I’ll get them. We’ll meet you in the kitchen for a cool drink.”
Jakala patted the good doctor on the back and guided him down the hall to the kitchen listening to the sounds of two very happy boys coming from the front yard.
Dr Bradley sat, all be it a little stunned at the kitchen table with a large glass of cold fresh orange juice in front of him while Jakala waited silently for him to collect his thoughts. “What happened? Where did you all go? What happened to Jenny?”
“D.B, do you believe in God?”
That was not exactly the answer Dr Bradley had been expecting and it took him by surprise. Jakala waited for him to answer. It took Dr Bradley a few moments to decided that he did believe in God even if it was only so he had someone to blame for the death of his wife. “Yes Jakala I believe there is a God.”
“Then believe he brought Jenny back to us.”
Dr Bradley thought of Bobby and Darren. “Faith like a child.”

Dr Bradley spent a few hours at the Norman Station not about to leave until he had checked everyone. Several things took him by surprise. Firstly, Jenny’s health. Although she was tired the doctor hazard a guess that if he had run the same checks on himself Jenny would have been the fitter of the two. Second, Garrick was so exhausted he slept right through his exam. Dr Bradley even checking his old wounds. Thirdly, Jakala refused to be examined until Jenny intervened. Once Jakala removed his shirt the doctor understood his reservation. The wound had been healing for a few days but it was evident that it had been a very serious burn. Dr Bradley and Jakala stared at each other, the doctor wanting answers, Jakala unwilling to accommodate again until Jenny intervened. She placed her hand gently on Jakala’s shoulder and smiled. “It’s okay, I know how it happened.”
It took a great deal to surprise Jakala but this would be one of the few times. He looked at Jenny bewildered. “How?”
Jenny brought her face closer to Jakala and gave him a kiss answering him in a whisper. “The same way I know how much you love me.” She gave him another kiss, a long, passionate kiss full of her love. As she pulled away she traced the outline of his face with her fingers. “For all the times we will not get to share.”
Dr Bradley felt like a fifth wheel but Jakala had ceased to notice anything else other than Jenny and the pounding of his heart. How long had she known of his love for her? Jenny smiled at him a little sadness clouding the sparkle of her eyes. “I understand Jakala. I may not have always but I understand.” Once again she leaned in and kissed him. Realising the doctor was a little uneasy she changed the subject. “He rolled into the fire.”
The doctor knew better than to press for the truth and Jakala understood by her actions that Jenny would keep his secret close to her heart. He took her hand and gave it a squeeze not daring to look into her eyes for fear of loosing himself completely.

Bobby and Darren had spent enough time with Jenny when she first arrived to convince themselves that she had not changed while she had been gone except that maybe she loved them more. They had played with Gully while Dr Bradley had attended to his patients but now it was time to invade the house, both their stomachs yearend for nourishment. Both boys ran around to the back door coming to a screeching halt just inside the kitchen. Jenny smiled automatically at them and the doctor gave them a quick look as he finished dressing Jakala’s wound. Jenny pointed to the pantry and both boys disappeared for a few second before returning with several pieces of fruit and a handful of homemade biscuits. After taking a bite from his apple Darren spoke. “Can we stay the night Miss Jenny?’
Dr Bradley spoke before he knew what he had done. “I think Miss Jenny, Jakala and Garrick could do with a rest.” He looked to his son but his eyes had never left Jenny. When Dr Bradley looked to her he was expecting a very severe rebuttal but Jenny surprised him. “I think that your father has made a wise decision Darren. I expect the town will want a first hand report and who else can I trust to give an accurate account then my two spy catchers.” In one swoop Jenny had put the boys and the doctor at ease. Happy with the outcome Darren and Bobby disappeared out the back door.

Dr Bradley repacked his medical bag signifying he was done, Jakala squeezed Jenny’s hand silently letting her know he needed time to himself. He left the kitchen in silence only patting the doctor thankfully on the shoulder as he passed.
The doctor understood that Jenny and Jakala had a special bond but he sensed at something far deeper. The change in Jenny had been dramatic but then again three years ago it had been equally dramatic. “I won’t ask you what happened Jenny.”
She smiled. “Thank you Doc.”
The doctor’s heart skipped a beat. It has been the first time in such a long time that Jenny had called him Doc. Somehow Jenny had won the war she had been fighting for the past three years and as hard as he tried to keep his happiness hidden it was written all over his face. “It’s nice to have you back with us Jenny.”
Dr Bradley picked up his bag ready to go and collect the two boys when Jenny’s tender voice stopped him. “Doc…..Thank you for being there for me and letting Darren visit. I know it was a hard decision for you to make back then. I really do appreciate it.”
Unable to speak, Dr Bradley simply smiled and left.
A new chapter in the life of Jenny Norman was about to unfold.
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PostSubject: chapter 19   Sun Feb 20, 2011 6:43 am

Chapter 19
Garrick’s exhaustion had taken him on a dreamless journey, not waking to the familiar early morning sounds of the station, nor too Gully’s barking as he chased birds. The blazing stillness told him he had slept past the early morning hours. The world may have been still but Garrick sensed something. Opening his eyes he found Jenny by his bed and immediately shivered when fragments of a nightmare flashed through his mind.
Jenny had been standing looking out the window when she heard him stirring now he waited for her to turn. Silhouetted by her hair it was the face of an angel he saw, a familiar face and he remembered the night he had thrashed around in a fever. It had been Jenny who had wiped his brow and stoked his face. Back then he had thought he had seen an Angel….It had been Jenny, she was his angel. He smiled weakly at her.
Jenny’s smile was disarming and no matter how he tried Garrick could not control the passion, the love he felt for her. Their eyes met and Garrick held out his hand to her and Jenny drew herself closer to him, kneeling by the bed until their lips met. Every fibre of his being consumed by her passion and Garrick forgot the hate, the pain of their first encounter understanding what Jakala had meant when he warned that Jenny’s love could be far more dangerous than her hate. Garrick only pulled away allowing himself to breath but would not let her go afraid that she would disappear like the angel in his dream.
Jenny kissed the scar on his forehead, smiled and pulled his arms from around her, leaving the room in silence only to stand at the doorway to take a long, long loving look at the man who had saved her.

Once showered, shaved and appropriately dressed Garrick found Jenny sitting on the front steps of the house watching Gully chasing birds for her amusement. He sat beside her not looking into her eyes for the same reason Jakala refused. When she spoke it was not with a harsh voice but rather a voice tinged with sorrow. “I expect Sergeant Russell will want to talk some more.”
Garrick sighed. “That can wait. It will work out.” Garrick heard his words but they did not sound very convincing, even though Dean Farmer had not pressed charges that did not mean he couldn’t. “I’ll go into town with you.”
Still watching Gully Jenny spoke. “No need. Sergeant Russell is on his way here. I called him this morning.”
Garrick looked into the deep ocean of her eyes and his shock turned to love. Jenny smiled and Garrick drowned, their lips meeting as she pulled him closer. Jenny was indeed a creature of passion and had total control of his life, Garrick knew he could not live without her. He could have walked away from the cold heartless woman Jenny had been, no remorse, no looking back but now…….now his life belonged to her and he was beginning to understand the lessons that Jakala has subtly taught him. Understand why Jenny was so much a part of his life…She consumed you.
As they separated he found it very hard to concentrate but that did not stop her question ripping at his heart like a lightening bolt. “Do you have the strength to go through this? To love me?”
Garrick held her hands. “If I have to give up my very soul I will never stop loving you.”
Again they kissed and Garrick sealed his fate.

Jenny’s call to Sergeant Russell had come as quite a surprise, she had been the last person he expected to hear from. It had not taken long for the gossip to escape the corridors of the hospital and he knew that Dr Bradley had been out to the station. However, he had not expected a personal invitation by the woman herself and a very cordial invitation it had been.
As he drove to the station it was times like these he was glad that Jenny’s grandfather had built the house on the boundary closest to the township. The trip did not give him too much time to think and wonder but all the same it gave him time to become uneasy. It never failed, ever since the accident each time he had to deal with Jenny his stomach knotted so tightly he wondered if he would ever eat again. Sergeant Russell let himself through the gate and drove to the house to find Jenny and Garrick still sat on the steps. Gully sat next to Jenny allowing her to run her hands through his fur only opening his eyes to check the new arrival. Sergeant Russell bid them all a good day.
Garrick rose and the two men shook hands all the while Sergeant Russell keeping a watch on Jenny and the dog. It was Jenny’s eyes that stunned him; they smiled. It was the only way he could think to describe how she was looking at him though he still felt a little uneasy as he spoke. “Nice to see you are doing okay Miss Jenny.”
He stepped back instinctively as she rose. “Much better Sergeant though I gather I have caused you some concern.”
The sergeant stood dumfounded unable to comprehend the complete change in her, so overwhelmed that he almost missed Jenny’s invitation to join her in the office. Again he was equally surprised as Garrick kissed Jenny at the entrance of the office before offering to make them all a cool drink and disappearing into the kitchen.

Knowing this was something that Jenny needed to do alone Garrick left the glasses on the kitchen table compelled by what he did not know, found himself on the top of the hill looking down upon the graves of Jenny’s family. David’s grave taking his full attention while he tried to imagine what her son had been like. Simple maths showed that he would have been around the same age as Bobby and Darren had he lived. Garrick tried to visualise the three boys playing in the yard. He wondered if all the boys had been friends of if it had been a case of Jenny adopting Bobby and Darren to fill the void left by the death of her own son. His thoughts were swept to the back recesses of his mind by the soft touch of Jenny’s hand in his, herself looking down at the grave. “He was just like my father. Used to get that same look in his eyes when he was up to mischief.”
Garrick stood, silent, helpless, unable to find the words that would comfort her. Little did he know that the tears she now cried were cleansing, she was allowing herself to feel the pain not the anger. “Oh Garrick I miss them all so much!” Her whole body shook as she sobbed. Garrick pulled her close, cradling her in his arms feeling the pain she was releasing with each new cry. He stroked her hair and held her. He would have stayed like that for eternity if that is what she had needed.
Jenny closed her eyes but this time did not see the nightmare of flames or hear the screams but she saw the cherub sweet face of her son. He smiled and blew her a kiss.

Over the ensuing months Garrick took great delight in observing Jenny rule over her roost so to speak. Although she had changed it was obvious that when it came to business Jenny had always been a hard women, she was ruthless, did not give an inch and always got what she wanted. He had taken copious amounts of film of Jenny, from working behind her desk, playing with the boys, to pitching in and helping the men. He had even stolen a shot while she had been on the phone to Patrick Nelson, the expression on her face told him Patrick had lost yet another battle.
Garrick also saw small changes in Jenny. Sometimes her darker side revealed itself as she brooded but he knew she was winning her battles. The pressure of official charges was no longer a threat and Jenny had paid for the repairs to the Pub. Ted in no way held Jenny responsible and explained this to Mr Weston in exasperating detail when he had arrived to deliver the cheque. The reason why Ted would not accept the cheque until Mr Weston told him he was not about to return to the Station to come under Jenny’s scrutiny for not fulfilling her wishes. Ted and Jeff sealed their contract with a cool glass of beer.

Jenny had been keeping tabs on Dean Farmer and at first Garrick had been a little worried but when she once again dispatched Mr Weston into town with a cheque he understood. She had found out that Dean Farmer would require extra treatment and she aimed to pay for it. She could have just as easily transferred money and instructions to the hospital in Adelaide but did not want Dean Farmer knowing of her involvement so she sent the cheque to Dr Bradley instead. He was also to make sure that any further medical expenses for Dean Farmer came to her directly. Jenny could not change the past but she was trying to make amends, heal the wounds.

Jenny and Garrick had transformed the old barn from a garage for her four wheel drive (which was now relegated to living next to the horses) to a wonderful studio for Garrick. It certainly was better than the small leaky roofed shed she had given him earlier. This was a real studio and Garrick had festooned the walls with photographs taken all over the station and beyond. There were photos of the men at work and play, of Gully, of Bobby and Darren, even a few candid shots of Mr Weston. However the large portion of the walls was taken up with photos of Jenny. Of her smiling, giving orders. The room was a catalogue of her transition from angered caterpillar to a beautiful butterfly. Standing in the midst of them all Garrick realised there was one picture missing from the collection. Nowhere was there a photo of Jakala and Garrick was determined to get a photo of the three of them together but he had not seen Jakala since they had returned. He had questioned Jenny and she had explained that he was not far away. She knew inside he was close and would return when the time was right.

Garrick and Jenny spent hours talking about their lives, putting the pieces together and it was through these talks that Garrick got to understand Jakala, understand the bond he had with Jenny, understand that Jenny loved Jakala with more love than any man had the right to ask for yet she also loved him in a way he knew was for him alone, complete and total.

The days that he did not spend with Jenny or Mr Weston and his men Garrick would take himself into town to catch up on the gossip. Ted would have made a great reporter, though he never seemed to move from his place behind the counter in his bar he knew everything there was to know about anything that was important and that was usually everything. Garrick enjoyed his talks with Ted, mostly because Ted did most of the talking and Garrick gained a very colourful education on a wide variety of topics. This particular day Ted was enlightening him with new information about the trappers that Jenny had sent scrambling back into town. After leaving the area they headed north and hooked up with others to poach crocodile and shoot kangaroo. Garrick sat amused listening to Ted tell his story. “It seems they stumbled on to a station up there and the owner was far less kind to them than Jenny.” Ted’s eyes were like saucers as he described the trapper’s misfortune. “He broke every finger on one blokes hand and smashed the anothers jaw. Then dropped then off at the end of the stations airstrip for the Flying Doctor to pick them up. Just left em there. Radioed for the Doc and left.” Ted smiled. “Reckon our Jenny’s not that bad after all.”
It was Garrick’s turn to smile wondering if Ted had just conveniently forgotten what Jenny had done to Dean Farmer and his mate. Garrick could tell by the now recognisable quiver of his bottom lip that Ted was about to launch into another tale, instead he gazed passed Garrick to the door. Garrick felt the warm breeze as the door opened and turned.
Standing just inside the pub were two men looking very much out of place and too much of a good opportunity to pass up. Garrick clicked off several shots before Ted regained his manners. The smaller of the two by about six inches was Patrick Nelson. Garrick would have recognised him anywhere by Jenny’s description. The other man was tall, dark hair, dark eyes, dark clothes. It was clear to everyone he was not impressed by his situation dusting the dirt from his very expensive suit.
Ted’s voice echoed from behind Garrick. “Can I help you fellas? Looks like you could do with a cold one.”
It was Patrick that took the initiative, both men walking up to the bar. “You read my mind Sir.” Patrick took a seat next to Garrick and smiled at him. “Is it always this hot around here?”
Garrick opened his mouth to answer but as usually Ted was quicker. “No mate, gets hotter…You passing through?”
Garrick cringed, Ted looked stunned and Patrick just seemed to shiver as the taller man boomed out an answer. “No!!! We’re looking for the Norman place. It’s around here isn’t it?”
Ted looked to Garrick and they exchanged glances. The man was an American, the kind of American other Americans did not like. Loud, aggressive, pushy, all round intolerable. When he did not get a response he slammed his hand on the bar making all the glasses shake. “Well man is it? I don’t intend to spend anymore time than I have to in this hell hole. I’ll get what I want and leave.”
Patrick took a long drink of his beer while Ted regained his composure and just a little bit of fervour. “And just exactly what is it that you want out at the Norman’s?”
As the man boomed out the fact that what he wanted was none of Ted’s business Garrick had a more civilized conversation with Patrick. “He a friend of yours Mr Nelson?”
Patrick gulped hard on the beer half why down his throat he was so surprised to hear another American and even more surprised that he knew who he was. “How did you know who I am?”
Garrick smiled and held out his hand. “Jenny’s description was perfect.”
Hearing Garrick’s accent the other man stopped bombarding Ted with questions he just refused to answer thinking he would get further with a fellow countryman. He towered over Patrick trying to extract information from Garrick. “Nice to her a sound from home. Can you tell me what I want to know.?”
Garrick stayed silent just long enough for it to be an irritation to the other man. “Sorry mate, didn’t catch your name.”
“Name’s Beaumont, Robert J Beaumont.”
“Well Mr Beaumont I suggest you change your attitude before you have any dealings with the Norman’s.”
Garrick’s last statement had indeed irritated Mr Beaumont and once again he slammed his fist on the counter. “Damn it!! Do you know where this place is or not!!!!?”
Garrick was about to explain where he would like to take him when Patrick intervened. “I would be very much obliged.” Patrick shot a pained look back to his companion. “It is very important.”
Garrick looked back to Mr Beaumont. “Excuse us for a moment.”
Garrick and Patrick moved to the end of the counter but before Garrick could speak Patrick had already started . “Coming here was not my idea.”
Rick looked over Patrick’s shoulder to Mr Beaumont.” I gathered that much but why are you here? You know what Jenny’s reaction will be if he confronts her.”
Patrick raised his eyebrows. “Listen. I’m Jenny’s publisher but the company just got taken over by our American counter part and they want some changes. Jenny is one of their more profitable authors and they have decided her books need new marketing. I faxed Jenny but she refused the terms. So here we are. He’s here to change her mind. I had a choice; come with him or loose my job. Jenny’s contract is up in twelve months but you and I both know if she wants out she will find a way and once she has met him she’s going to want out.”
“What are the terms Mr Nelson. Jenny’s changed since you saw her last, she might agree.”
Patrick shook his head. “No, they want a book tour of the States.”
Garrick face was covered in surprise. “You’re right she won’t go for it but why don’t we let Jenny deal with Mr Beaumont. I’ll take you to her.”
Patrick shoulders sagged as he patted Garrick on the back. “Thank you.”
Garrick showed the two men to the Ute before ducking back into the pub to have a quick word to Ted. “Not a word of this to anyone Ted. Not till I have had time to get them back to the Station, not one word. I don’t want Jenny to get wind of this, no radio chatter, no phone calls, no e mails, Facebook, nothing.”
As hard as it was for Ted he agreed and kept his promise.

As they drove back to the station Patrick was sullen and quiet seated between Garrick and Mr Beaumont. The loud mouthed American on the other hand had done nothing but complain. Complain about the dirt, the heat, the road, his treatment since he had arrived. Garrick had to bite his tongue to stop himself from fuelling the fire. In a way he was happily anticipating the man’s downfall as Jenny went to work on him. Yes Jenny had changed but this was business and when it came to business Jenny was ruthless.
The boundary gate loomed close, Patrick sighed and Mr Beaumont slapped him all too hard on the leg. “Don’t worry Pat. We’ll be out of here in an hour, papers signed.” Garrick could hold his tongue no longer as he got out of the car to open the gate he stuck his head back through the open window. “You better be prepared for a long stay or leaving empty handed. I know Jenny and she won’t like you.”
Mr Beaumont glared at Garrick. “She’s just a woman, it won’t be hard to changer her mind.”
Garrick and Patrick looked at each other knowing just how hard it was going to be.

Gully hearing the boundary gate open and close bounded from under Jenny’s desk to greet Garrick like part of the family. Garrick stopped the Ute in front of the house instead of taking it around the side of the barn. Which is what came to Jenny’s attention. That and the change in Gully’s bark, maybe it was not Garrick, but she was sure it had been her Ute.
Mr Beaumont had one foot on the ground not heeding Garrick’s warning to stay in the Ute and Gully was on him in a flash. Mr Beaumont retreated back inside the Ute slamming the door. “Call that damn mutt off !!!”
“Can’t. Not my dog.”
Without warning Gully ceased barking and ran to the verandah. Garrick smiled as he pointed through the car. “It’s hers. She don’t like you the dog gets you for dinner.”
Patrick swallowed hard at this point not sure what scared him most, Mr Beaumont, Jenny or the dog.
Jenny and Garrick exchanged affectionate smiles that did not go unnoticed by Patrick but did nothing to calm his nerves. With a silent command Jenny sent the dog scuttling inside while Garrick told his passengers it was safe to get out. He was about to explain to Jenny when she put her fingers to his lips. “It’s okay, I know who it is. Patrick’s e mails have been…shall we say somewhat braver then usual. I have been expecting them.” Jenny met Patrick on the steps smiling and giving him a hug surprising the poor man. “Bring the mountain to Mohamed is that it Patrick?”
“Jenny I…”
“No need to apologise Patrick I know full well this was not your idea. Shall we see how long it takes the mountain to crumble?”
Patrick stepped on to the verandah next to Garrick and waited. Jenny’s voice was cold, her eyes grew darker. “And you must be the person too ashamed to sign their own name to their letters.”
Mr Beaumont shot Patrick a fierce look. “I thought since…”
Jenny cut him off which did nothing to change his abrasive attitude. “You thought that by using one of my oldest and dearest friends I would submit and agree to the changes you expect to make. You stooped too low.”
“Now wait a minute sister.” Mr Beaumont took a step closer to Jenny and she mirrored his move. It was not Mohamed that would meet the mountain it was mountain to meet mountain. Jenny’s skin crawled being so close to such an individual but her defiance would not allow her to back down. She fired her first shot. “My name is Jenny Norman, in future I expect you to use it.” Jenny turned to Patrick knowing it would aggravate her opponent. “And your friends name Mr Nelson?”
Jenny felt Mr Beaumont grab her arm trying to swing her back to look at him. “Beaumont…” was the only word he spoke before Jenny freed her arm and swung a punch that surprised all three men, especially Mr Beaumont who had found himself on the ground holding his jaw.
Garrick whispered to Patrick. “I think that was the end of round one.”
Jenny knelt down next to Mr Beaumont with one of her knees and almost all of her weight resting on his chest. There was no denying the threat carried in her voice. “If you don’t want to conduct business lying in the dirt DON”T ever touch me again. Do I make myself perfectly clear Mr Beaumont?”
Mr Beaumont nodded shell-shocked.
Jenny still had her knee buried in his chest. “I am sure Garrick would be willing to show you where you can clean up. I’ll be leaving in half an hour I expect you to be ready. You can ride can’t you?” She did not wait for a reply just stood but as she passed Garrick and Patrick she winked.
It was Patrick’s turn to whisper to Garrick as Mr Beaumont picked himself up off the ground. “The only thing he can ride is a mobile phone.”
Garrick laughed and Patrick smiled for the first time in days. Entering the house Garrick knew he was going to like Patrick. Mr Beaumont followed knowing he had lost and he needed to gain his position back. After seeing him knocked to the ground by a woman he also knew he had lost his hold on Patrick. He had expected to use Patrick to appeal to Jenny’s softer side now l Patrick was just excess baggage. He had warned him that Jenny Norman was like no other woman but Robert J Beaumont was arrogant enough to think that she was just a woman and he would eventually get what he wanted, it would just take a little longer. After all they always gave in, always.
Jenny sat at her desk privately gloating. She had an opponent worthy of her full attention, Jenny knew that most people she dealt with were too scared of her or too scared of loosing her business to confront her head to head. This man was different. He was ready to do just that, ready to lock horns and fight to the bitter end. Jenny smiled, she was going to enjoy Mr Beaumont’s little visit.

It was nearing dusk when Jenny and Mr Beaumont returned from their ride. Garrick and Patrick had struck up a friendship, comparing notes on Jenny, filling in missing pieces for each other and discussing life in general. Once they had witnesses Mr Beaumont’s rather inept departure they had settled back into a lazy afternoon both knowing Mr Beaumont’s disagreeable nature would be no better on his return. Jenny had insisted on jumping the boundary fence and when Mr Beaumont had followed it almost ended in disaster as once more he found himself in the dirt.
Hearing Gully, Garrick and Patrick took up good viewing positions on the verandah. Gully scrambled under the fence and ran to Garrick. Jenny casually opened the gate and waited and waited. They all waited. At last Mr Beaumont appeared, dishevelled, exhausted, mentally and physically drained.
Garrick nudged Patrick gently in the ribs. “Looks like he lost round two as well.”
Patrick kept his eyes on Jenny and Mr Beaumont. “Did you really expect him to win?”
“No. Maybe we should go back inside so he can retain a small portion if dignity?”
Patrick had a big grin on his face. “No. I am not about to miss out on what is turning into an absolutely marvellous experience.”
Mr Beaumont dismounted as soon as he was through the gates, his horse happy to see itself back to the stables. Jenny just smiled as she passed them.
Mr Beaumont stood at the bottom of the steps glaring at the two men. His shirt torn, his shoes scuffed beyond repair, he was covered in dirt caked on by sweat. He pointed to Jenny as she disappeared into the stable. “That woman tried to kill me out there!!!”
Garrick’s voice was soft. “No, If Jenny had wanted you dead Mr Beaumont you’d be very dead.” He was still looking at Mr Beaumont but directed his next remark to Jenny who was now standing behind him. “Isn’t that right Jenny?”
Mr Beaumont swung around. Jenny’s eyes were black and cold, frozen and her voice was stained with venom. “Yes…”
His initial reaction was to retaliate with a wise remark but seeing the look in her eyes he stayed quiet. Jenny held him in her cold glare long enough to make it uncomfortable before making her way into the house. She kissed Garrick and Patrick on the cheek as she did. Mr Beaumont broke the silence. “She’s a damn witch.”
Patrick had expected Garrick to come to Jenny’s defence, what he said next surprised both he and Mr Beaumont. “Dragon actually. Dragon Queen to be precise. If you live long enough ask around see why they gave her that name. I’m surprised Jenny didn’t leave you out there.” Garrick waved his arms across the horizon. “You better get cleaned up for dinner. Jenny will not be impressed if you are late.”
Garrick and Patrick left Mr Beaumont alone, smouldering, angry; ego deflated but still determined to get what he came for.

Garrick found Jenny in the kitchen preparing the evening meal, they smiled at each other and he kissed her on the cheek as she worked. “What did you do to him? He looks like he’s been to hell and back.?”
Jenny’s voice was disarmingly sweet. “We just went for a ride.”
“You forget I have been on one of your rides. Did you have to be that hard on him?”
Garrick saw a hint of what she was capable off flash across her eyes before Jenny controlled her feelings. It was obvious she disliked Mr Beaumont far more that she had shown. Garrick swallowed hard as he realised just how close she had come to leaving him out in the bush to fend for himself. “You were, weren’t you. You were going to leave him out there.”
Jenny carried on with her preparations for dinner. “He deserved it.”
“Jenny!! He wouldn’t have lasted ten minutes. Okay he’s a complete and utter bastard.
Jenny cut him off, stopping her work to give him her full attention. “He’s a prick and an idiot. Why do you think I took the time to bring him back?” A cheeky look crept across her face while her voice sang impishly. “Besides I haven’t finished with him yet.”
All Garrick could do was smile and wrap his arms around her waist as she continued her preparations.

Robert J Beaumont was not smiling, not in the least. He stood under the shower eyes closed and tense, the day’s events unfolding. The boundary fence had been the least of his worries; Jenny had taunted him for most of the day. He realised far too late that Jenny had a very definite purpose to their little outing. He had been so engrossed in their battles he had know idea where he was. Jenny had in fact taken a large circular route and they were no more than ten kilometres from the house when she bluntly announced she was going to leave him to find his own way back. By this time Mr Beaumont had suffered enough. First the fence; than a heart stopping ride down one hell of a cliff. He had foolishly followed Jenny before realising the danger. Thankfully his horse had dislodged him about halfway down and although he was battered and bruised it had more than likely saved his life.
As she had done with Garrick in the same spot Jenny rested her horse and waited.
Even as he was confronting Jenny Mr Beaumont knew it was the wrong thing to do. He was letting her get the better of him; he knew it, so did she. The ache in his muscles brought him back to reality but the water rushing down his body did nothing to cool the anger boiling with in.

Jenny opened up the formal dinning room for the first time since the accident. Not that the room had been locked away, it was just not used. Garrick had wandered through it trying to picture the whole of the Norman clan sitting down for a meal. The room was a statement of elegance and refinement a vast contrast to the land outside the door. Jenny’s grandfather had imported only the best to keep his wife happy from the antique mahogany dinning table and chairs that would have easily accommodated fourteen people to the crystal, silver and china housed in the equally impressive matching wall cabinets. Jenny ushered her three male companions to one end, seating Garrick and Patrick together at one side and placing Mr Beaumont on his own at the other side of the table. Jenny took a seat at the head of the table. Dinner was subdued, the conversation taking on a general tone as Garrick discussed some of his work while Mr Beaumont sulked never attempting to join until Jenny laid out her challenge. “Do you have nothing to say Mr Beaumont? Or do you find our ways to uncivilised for your liking.”
Mr Beaumont fought against all his instinct to remain calm though his eyes betrayed him not only to Jenny but to Garrick and Patrick. “I…have tried my best to conduct our business in the appropriate manner.”
“You have tried to coerce, bully and intimidate.” Jenny’s eyes fixed on Mr Beaumont, her voice chilling the room. “The only thing you have succeeded in doing is annoying me to the point where I would take great pleasure in placing a bullet between your eyes and leaving you for the dingos.”
Patrick almost choked on his food and Garrick was so shocked he recovered too slowly to be of any help. Mr Beaumont slammed his hands down on the table much the same way as he had done in the pub, rising to tower over them, his eyes full of rage he practically hissed at Jenny. “You’re a damn witch!!!!”
Garrick rose to meet him. Jenny might be willing to take such abuse but he was not. “That’s enough!!!!!”
Both men stared across the table at each other as Jenny gently touched Garrick’s hand as her sweet voice filtered through the tension a complete contrast to the atmosphere that surrounded them. “Rick, sit down.”
Rick took his seat still eyeing Mr Beaumont involuntarily shuddering as Jenny’s voice chilled and razor sharp rang through the room as her attention reverted back to Mr Beaumont. “SIT DOWN!!!!”
He flashed a look of hate towards her but he did take his seat.
“I have made my decision.”
“Well what is it woman!” his tone was surly and truculent.
Garrick clenched his fist and poor Patrick just wished he was somewhere else.
Jenny’s next statement astonished them all. This time Patrick did choke on his food. “I have decided to sever my ties with your company.”
Mr Beaumont smiled thinking he had the upper hand answering a little too smugly. “I think you will find that you can’t, you are under contract Miss Norman.”
It was Jenny’s turn to smile. “Oh I think that you will find that I can.” Without looking at him directly Jenny directed her next questions to Patrick. “Patrick is it true that I have twelve months left on my contract?”
“Yes Jenny.”
“Is it also true that if you have a closer look at my contract there is a clause stating that I can sever my ties with the company for the cost of thirty thousand dollars or ten percent of the gross profit of my first book whichever is the smaller debt to me?”
Mr Beaumont glared at Patrick. “Don’t tell me you agreed to something like that you idiot!!” Patrick’s smile was all the answer he needed to give. “Who the hell let you do that!?”
“Your predecessor.” The smile that swept across Patrick’s face was a sight to see. “I was told, actually it was more of an order to get her to sign at any cost. Jenny’s price was being able to buy back her contract.”
Garrick could not remain quiet. “Looks like you loose.”
Mr Beaumont pointed to Garrick. “YOU!! Stay out of this and you!!” He turned his attention back to Patrick. “Why didn’t you tell me this before, I could have…”
Jenny raised her voice. “You could have done nothing. At the time the company got exactly what they wanted. Mr Weston will drive you back to town.”
Mr Beaumont rose from his seat once more screaming and Jenny matched his moves and his mood. “I’m not finished with you yet!!”
“But I am completely through with you MISTER Beaumont. You’re like a contemptuous brat always expecting to get what you want. Well this time you got what you deserved!”
Mr Beaumont raised his hand to strike Jenny so was his rage, both Patrick and Garrick reacted lunging across the table to stop him. They need not have bothered, Mr Beaumont screamed and sank to the floor as Gully sank his teeth into his leg and refused to let go. The dog had been under the table the whole time forgotten by all. Jenny watched unmoved as Mr Beaumont tried in vain to get the dog to let go. “Damn it get him off me!!!”
It was then that Garrick realised Jenny had no intention of calling of the dog. “Jenny!!” when she did not respond he grabbed hold of her arms. “Jenny call him off.” Still she did nothing. “Damn it Jenny call him off!”
Patrick was beginning to panic at the damage the dog was doing to the leg when Jenny gave the command and Gully released the leg. Garrick rushed to Mr Beaumont’s side to check the wound…… It was bad. He pulled several linen napkins off the table and bound the wound. Mr Beaumont glared up at Jenny. “You’re the devil!”
Jenny’s voice chilled Garrick to his very soul and he wondered if she was slipping back into a world from which he would not be able to rescue her. “If I was you’d be dead.”
Garrick sprang to his feet grabbing Jenny by both arms feeling every fibre of her body tense but he refused to let go. Her eyes were so very cold and dark. Garrick shouted out of fright for he was the only one in that room who realised what may happen. “Why does everything with you have to be so final!!!! Why do you have to take everything to the very edge!!!” Garrick squeezed her arms and shook her gently. “Did it ever occur to you that one day you may find someone willing to push you as hard as you push them!!!”
There was a flicker in her eyes that only Garrick saw and he released her immediately, her voice barley above a whisper. “I already have.”
They stood looking at each other for what seemed like an eternity while Garrick took on board her words. Jenny had meant him.
Jenny made one last comment to Mr Beaumont before leaving the room to fetch Mr Weston. “Next time do your homework before you pick a fight.”
Mr Beaumont was in too much pain to reply, he was watching Gully who had stayed under the table when Jenny left.

Mr Weston’s grim face appeared at the door to the dinning room. He looked to Mr Beaumont still sat on the floor to Garrick. “Jenny said someone needed a lift into town?” He had questions but thought it would be best to leave them until later. “You coming Rick?”
Garrick shook his head. “Where is she?”
Mr Weston shrugged his shoulders as he knelt down to help Patrick pick up Mr Beaumont. As he leaned back against the table Mr Weston undid the napkins to have a look at the wound. “Crickey mate you really must have set her off. It’s a long time since Gully sank his teeth into someone. You know Jenny could fix you up instead of going to town.”
“I’m not letting that witch anywhere near me!!” Mr Beaumont shot a look to Patrick. “You’re fired.”
“I would have thought that was fore gone conclusion.”
The room fell silent as Mr Weston rebound the leg before leading Mr Beaumont out to the Ute with Garrick’s help. Garrick stole a look at Jenny as they passed her office and Gully went to lay by her side. Garrick only returning after he had shut the boundary gate. He was surprised to see Patrick with her and he was laughing. His laughter dying as he saw Garrick standing at the door hands thrust into his pants pockets, his voice sombre and disapproving. “You sent a man to the hospital again, probably cost Patrick his job…….Jenny do you always have to win?”
Once more her voice was unnaturally disarming, Garrick could feel it warm his heart, his anger dying with each enchanted word she spoke. There was a glimmer of sadness in her eyes as she drew him closer, casting her spell, each word binding his life to her just a little stronger than the last. She was so close he could feel the warmth of her breath on his face as she spoke. “Loosing is painful Rick, I’ve lost too much. Would you want me to give up and loose you as well?”
Garrick stood unable to move, lost in her stare wanting to wrap his arms around her never to let go. Patrick’s well timed cough brought him back to his senses. Jenny’s mood shifted to one with a playful attitude as she went to stand by Patrick. “Anyway. Patrick now has a far better job.”
Patrick laughed at Garrick’s puzzled expression. “Jenny’s my new boss. Take a seat we’ll explain.”

Dr Bradley had just finished with a young boy from one of the stations who had thought super gluing his brother’s favourite toy to his hand was a good idea when Mr Weston arrived. The stranger with his arm wrapped around Mr Weston’s shoulders for support, blood running down his injured leg was obviously the one Ted had been so happy to tell him about. He acknowledge Mr Weston in silence and did not speak until they had Mr Beaumont settled on a bed in one of the emergency cubicles. Dr Bradley removed the blood stained napkins. “Anything I need to know Jeff?”
“Gully had a go at him.”
The Doctor looked from the wound to Mr Weston.
“Why bring him into town Jenny could have looked after this?”
Mr Beaumont spoke through clenched teeth. “She’s a witch. That dog attacked me for no reason.”
Dr Bradley stopped working on the wound. “I doubt that, Gully is one of the best trained dogs I have ever come across. He would have only attacked if he thought Jenny was in danger.” He looked to Mr Weston for an answer.
The old bushman shrugged his shoulders. “Wasn’t there Doc but last time Gully sank his teeth into someone they had intended to hit Jenny.”
Both men looked to Mr Beaumont who was about to protest his innocence but thought better of it.
Dr Bradley began to work on the wound again. “You’ll need stitches.” With that he sank a needle into the leg making Mr Beaumont wince. “Still don’t understand why Jenny sent you in to town. Garrick was far worse. She’s a good nurse.”
Mr Weston gave the patient a quick look before he spoke. He laid on the bed with his eyes closed. “I reckon Jenny don’t like this fella much. I think she was hoping the ride into town would cause him more pain.”
Mr Beaumont’s eyes shot open. “How can you work for that witch. She’s mad! She would have let that dog tear me apart if the others had not been there.”
Dr Bradley stopped his needle work to watch Mr Weston’s reaction, he didn’t want anymore things to stitch up. “Jenny’s a fine boss, pays her men well. You play by the rules things run smoothly.” He looked at Mr Beaumont’s leg. “Well….. you found out what happens when you don’t.” Mr Weston turned his attention to the doctor. “He going to stay with you tonight Doc?”
Dr Bradley nodded as he wrapped the newly sown wound in a fresh bandage. “You’ll be fine to travel tomorrow.” His eyes moved from the wound to Mr Beaumont’s face. “Some advice. ..Leave tomorrow, Jenny gave you a small warning.”
Mr Beaumont was astounded. “You call this a small warning?” and pointed to his leg.
“You’re still alive.”
Dr Bradley smiled and turned hearing Jakala’s familiar voice from behind. Standing he grabbed Jakala’s hand and gave him a friendly welcome.
Mr Beaumont was not so accommodating. “Who the hell are you?!”
Jakala walked to the side of the bed holding out his hand but dropped it when Mr Beaumont did not accept. “I am the one who knows that if you intend to leave the shores of this country in a plane not a coffin you should heed the warning for you will not get another.”
Mr Beaumont threw his arms up in the air. “What is with you people? Does living out here fry your brains or what?”
Dr Bradley was about to protest when Jakala continued so calmly flashes of Jenny crossed Mr Beaumont’s mind. “Survival is an art in which you need much study. Jenny needs no such study, she lives, her roots are deep and her branches reach for beyond what you comprehend. Do not think for a moment you would survive a confrontation with Jenny unless this is her wish.”
The room fell silent each man taking in Jakala’s words when the Doctor cleared his throat. “Okay let’s get you settled into the ward for the night.”
“So you will be leaving tomorrow?” Jakala gave them a statement more than asking a question.
Mr Beaumont sighed. “Do I have a choice?”
The silence was enough for him to think if he could have left then and there he would have.
While the nurses settled Mr Beaumont for the night Mr Weston had wandered down to the pub and Jakala and the doctor back to his office. “How long will you be with us Jakala?”
“There is a wind of change blowing across our paths D.B. I shall be leaving. Calmer waters settle with in Jenny.”
There was a sadness in Jakala’s eyes that the doctor could not read and it unnerved him.

The story that Patrick and Jenny unfolded for Garrick was not what he had expected. In his hand he held copies of e mails from a publishing company called ‘Jurgen and Hanzy’ that confirmed that Jenny’s plans had been well advanced even before Mr Beaumont had shown up. Jenny had sought an agreement from them to publish her books as long as Patrick continued as her agent. The email was in part their agreement to this but Garrick was not at all sure he could handle another stranger arriving, not so soon. A man by the name of Gerard Tinnion was on his way to introduce himself and no doubt bargain with Jenny. As if to stir his thoughts Jenny’s computer beeped with an incoming e mail from Mr Tinnion, he would be arriving in the next forty eight hours.
Jenny sensed Garrick apprehension, walking over to where he was sitting she kissed him. “Don’t worry Rick. Patrick assures me the Mr Tinnion is a reasonable man and will not need as much persuasion as Mr Beaumont to see things my way.”
Garrick did not see the sly smile on her face as she walked away. Patrick slapped him on the back. “Don’t worry. Jenny will handle the situation adequately.”
Garrick flashed a look at the publisher. “That’s what I am afraid off.”
Wandering down the hall listening to the noises filtering from the kitchen they found Jenny clearing away after dinner both men willing to help. Gully pricked up his ears at a sound he had not heard in the house for a very long time. The sound of adult laughter, the happy sound drifting through the night on a wave of a silent breeze.
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PostSubject: chapter 20   Fri Feb 25, 2011 4:27 am

Chapter 20
Jakala stood outside the boundary gate inhaling all before him. The hour was early, the sun only just stretching her burning arms towards the earth bringing forth a new day to dry the land to its very heart. There would be no rain to satisfy her thirst, no rain today, no rain for months. Jakala stood a little longer knowing that these few precious days he spent with Jenny and Garrick would be the last. The last time he would return to a place he had come to know as his home, the last time he would see the woman he loved so very much, the last time his skin would tingle as her fragrance coloured the air, the last time he would be swept into the pools of love that were her eyes. His last chance to hold her close. His last chance to say his thanks to Garrick the man who would take his place, the man who loved Jenny enough to give up his life for her.
A small tear ran down his face, he would not have to explain to Jenny, she felt what he felt, it would hurt but she would not stop him from leaving just as he could not hide from his destiny.

Jenny stirred under the slight whisper of the ceiling fan wondering what had knocked on the door to her dreams when his name washed over her lips. “Jakala.” Jenny sat up as soon as the boundary gate rattled into life and Gully scampered from the room to meet the early morning visitor. Without slowing the dog bounded into Jakala’s arms, licking his face and nuzzling his nose into his neck.
Jakala was halfway across the compound when Jenny appeared at the front door still dressed in her night gown. Ache gripped his heart as he soaked up her beauty. Framed by the doorway she looked like an angel, her hair sailing gently on the morning breeze, the silhouette of her body just visible through her gown. To Jakala, Jenny was the earthly spirit of his eternal companion. He placed Gully back on the ground never once taking his eyes off Jenny afraid that the vision before him would vanish. In silence he mounted the steps, taking her hands, bringing their bodies together. Jenny’s voice was soft and tender. “ Jakala…Why do you come to torment me with your presence knowing you…..”
Jakala raised his finger to her lips to stop her words. “It is for that very reason that I came. How much would you hate me if I had not?” He kissed her on the forehead and brushed his fingers through her hair until they rested on her waist. In return Jenny’s gentle touch glided along the outline of his face while tears ran down her own. Jenny’s voice catching in her throat as they hugged. “I would never hate you…Why does it have to end?”
Jakala closed his eyes trying to protect himself from the pain he felt. “We shall never end Jenny. You and I are one; have always been one. For eternity I shall watch over you.” He separated them so he could look into her eyes. “You need to help him understand. He loves you more than he is willing to admit. He has things he needs to tell you Jenny and you need to give him the time it will take.” He pulled her close again. “Knowing you will not be alone makes my journey easier to bear.” He unravelled himself from Jenny, taking her hand as they walked to the kitchen. “Now I am in need of some of your fine cooking. A memory I can take to the city to sustain me when the university food can make a man an avid believer of very long fasts.”
Both their spirits lifted as they laughed, Jenny had not noticed Garrick on the stairs and although Jakala had felt his presence he did not acknowledge his friend.
Garrick for his part sat on the stairs and tried to comprehend what he had heard. Gully made his way up to sit next to him and Garrick unconsciously began to stroke the dog as he thought.
Jakala’s words had been true he did love Jenny more than we wanted to admit. If he was brutally truthful with himself Garrick knew what he had found scared him. He was afraid of being in love and yes there were things he needed to tell Jenny but first and for most he had to find the courage to tell her, show her just how much he did love her. There was something he had to tell her, something he had kept hidden that he would need to reveal if their relationship was to be built on trust and a strong foundation. In his heart he knew he did not want to keep secrets from her but he was worried that after he told her she would walk away. Even now the thought of a life without her tore at him. Then Jakala’s words drifted through his mind. Where was he going and for how long? This was one question he could get answered over a cup of coffee and some of Jenny’s breakfast cooking.

Mr Weston sat at the counter of the pub sipping his beer and watching Ted’s lips quiver as he listened with delight to the story that unfolded before him. Only a few days before Jenny had sent a man back to town ego shattered, tail between his legs and now Mr Weston was in town to pick up another lamb for the slaughter. Ted’s imagination ran overtime with thoughts of what Jenny would do.
Mr Weston’s snippet of information had been enough to gain him a free beer as he well knew and he drank it assuring Ted that if he heard anything else he would be the first to know.
Mr Weston left the pub smiling to himself and wandered to the airstrip the town called an airport where he had left the Ute. He had promised Ted he would bring the ‘lamb’ by for a drink before heading to the Station. Standing in the noonday sun waiting for the plane to arrive Mr Weston was hoping this Mr Tinnion would agree. Hearing the familiar drone of an approaching plane Mr Weston shaded his eyes looking into the skies to see if he could see it. The plane made a wide circle of the strip before it made its final approach. Mr Weston was a little surprised at the size for some reason he had expected a smaller plane but what was taxing in had to be at least an eight seater. Even with the heat of the day Mr Weston shuddered, maybe he was about to meet another Mr Beaumont. He tensed as the door to the plane opened then shook his head as a man stepped out. Immediately his common sense was apparent. Unlike Mr Beaumont who had arrived in a frenzy this man stood on the top step calmly surveying his surroundings. Mr Weston had been told to expect a businessman and Mr Gerard Tinnion had the air of such a person about him, he oozed with confidence even dressed how he was. Short sleeved casual shirt, top buttons undone, no tie, casual yet expensive cotton trousers and smart causal shoes. A large brief case held in one hand rounded off the scene for Mr Weston. Mr Tinnion acknowledged the old bushman with a smile and a wave as he descended the steps. Mr Weston had started to walk towards the visitor but stopped in his tracks as they got closer. “Struth, Jenny could have warned me.” Mr Weston’s shook the man’s outstretched hand looking up into his smiling face. He was very tall, owning shoulders more befitting a body builder than the pasty faced city fella he had been expecting. Mr Weston knew that this fella could have crushed his hand without so much as flinching. All of a sudden Mr Weston felt very, very small. “You must be Mr Tinnion?” There was a slight pause. “Crickey mate what the hell did your mother feed you? I didn’t think anyone could grow so tall!!”
Mr Tinnion’s laugh boomed across the airstrip as he planted a large hand on Mr Weston’s shoulders. “There’s a few out there a bit taller than me. I’m only six foot eleven.”
Again Mr Tinnion’s laugh echoed through the noonday silence. “You know what they say. If Mohamed won’t come to the mountain…” He let the rest of the saying trail off. “You must be Mr Weston. Jenny described you perfectly.”
“Yeah well I wish I could say the same for you and call me Jeff.”
“The names Gerard. Any chance of grabbing a cold one before we head out to see Miss Norman? I hear she is not too partial about having alcohol on the Station.”
Mr Weston looked at Gerard stunned but pleased. “I think I’m gonna like you. I know Ted’s mouth won’t stop for a week after he sees you.”
As they walked back to the Ute Gerard questioned Mr Weston about Ted. “Well we mustn’t let the poor fellow down. I would hate to think I had deprived him of a little gossip.” With that Gerard unceremoniously threw his case in the back of the Ute. As they were about to get in Mr Weston looked back to the plane. “What about the pilot, he staying?”
Gerard answered as he coiled his bulk into the Ute. “Yep he’s staying.” He winked at Mr Weston. “You’re looking at him.”
Instantly the smile left Mr Weston’s face. “Don’t worry Jeff. I’m not here to talk planes or flying. I know how Miss Norman feels about such things. Besides no one believes I am a publisher let alone a pilot.”
Mr Weston drove them the short distance to the pub. “I see you’ve done your homework but……….She’s not like anyone you have ever met. Your size will not intimidate her.”
“It’s okay Jeff I wasn’t sent because of my size. Not that it hasn’t helped in the past mind you.”
Both men laughed Gerard’s frame rumbling like an earthquake.

After Ted’s initial shock at the sight of Gerard things had gone as Mr Weston had predicted. Gerard played Ted for everything he was worth. Not only getting their beers for free but a free room if he needed one. Mr Weston had said that Jenny may allow him to stay at the Station but Gerard said he would see how things worked out. After all he may only be here over night. With their free beers drank and gossip dually delivered it was time to head for the Station. The afternoon had worn on but there was still heat in the day. Gerard took a deep breath and closed his eyes as they walked out of the pub. “I forget just how different the heat is out here compared to the coast.”
Mr Weston looked at him with some surprise. “You been bush before?”
Gerard put his hand in his pockets and looked across the town. “Spent many a school holiday working on stations all over the country. I think it was my father’s way of trying to discourage my fascination with the land. I think he figured all the hard work I would have to endure would show me I was more suited to life in the city. All it did was make me pray my next holiday would arrive.”
“Then you made a choice to stay in the city?”
Gerard’s shoulders seemed to sag just a little. “No that is a choice I never got to make. I made a deal with my father that I would go to university, after I graduated that was where his responsibility for me stopped. He agreed I could choose my own path after that.” Gerard looked out across the sky feeling the land tug on him once more. Mr Weston stood silent waiting for him to pick up the story as he knew he would. “Anyway my father died, my mum not to long after and I have six younger brothers that needed looking after. Riley, he’s now thirty four, a doctor. Matthew is thirty one, a pilot. James is twenty eight an engineer, somewhere in Asia at the moment. Grant is twenty six, a teacher. Then there is Aaron and Caleb, they are still in uni. It was my job to keep the family together and I still have an obligation to get the youngest boys through their studies. Once they are on their way maybe I can come back to the bush.”
“Once you’ve had a run in with Jenny you might change your mind.”
Gerard smiled at him. “I doubt even Miss Norman could stop me Jeff.” He slapped the old bushman on the shoulders. “Now shall we get the games started?”

Gully appeared from some sheltered hiding place as the boundary gate rattled. His actions stirred Garrick and Patrick into action. They had been sitting on the front steps. Jakala joined them and they waited for the Ute to pull up. Gully planted his front paws on the passenger side door barking several times at Gerard while Mr Weston tried to aid him. “Just stay in the Ute till Jenny calls him off. I’ll go see what’s keeping her.” Mr Weston’s mouth dropped open at Gerard’s next move. Unafraid of the dog he opened the window and rested his hand on the edge allowing the dog to sniff at him. He was not afraid of the dog and Gully knew it sniffing Gerard a few more times he gave one last bark before jumping down and going to stand next to Jakala.
“Well I’ll be buggered.” Was all Mr Weston could say.
Jakala smiled. “I think Jenny will have some fun with this one.”
As Gerard stepped out of the Ute uncoiling to his full height Garrick shot a look at Patrick who was wearing sly smile. “Well I didn’t tell you everything.”
Jakala patted both men on the back as he passed between them. Smiling he shook Gerard’s hand. “Welcome Mr Tinnion. You seemed to have made a friend already?”
Gerard returned the smile. “I hope you will make another. Name’s Gerard by the way.”
Gerard’s attention was drawn to the verandah as Jenny silently stood behind Garrick and Patrick. Though it was Mr Weston who spoke. “Miss Jenny….I got a few things to do. I’ll be back just after dark to take Ger….Mr Tinnion back into town.”
Gerard noticed that Mr Weston seemed a little uneasy and he himself felt a little unsettled as Jenny’s eyes moved to him with a questioning look. Mr Weston had been right; she was indeed like no other woman he had met. Not a word had been spoken but her strength was very evident. There were not many people in the world that took him on, that could intimidated him but standing looking up at her he knew his height would give him no advantage. Without a single word she had arranged the pecking order and he certainly was not at the top. Confidently he stepped towards her. “I thought it would be prudent to intrude on your routine here as little as possible.”
Jenny stepped forward as Garrick and Patrick stepped back, Jakala leaned against the Ute with Gully by his side and Mr Weston at the other side all waiting.
Jenny took Gerard’s hand holding his stare as she spoke to Mr Weston. “After dinner please Mr Weston. About nine.” Her tone altered slightly. “You don’t mind staying for dinner Mr Tinnion?”
Gerard knew as did the others it was not a request. “I would be delighted Miss Norman and the name is Gerard.”
Jenny dropped his hand “Very well Mr Tinnion. Once you have been introduced to the others Garrick will show you to the office. I am sure you are keen to get started.”
Before returning to the house Jenny winked at Garrick and Gerard pulled his brief case from the back of the Ute allowing Mr Weston to make his escape. Patrick could contain himself no longer. “I can’t believe I am working for the opposition.”
Gerard shook his hand. “You know we would have welcomed you anytime Pat.”
Patrick shot a look at the disappearing Ute. “Bet you gave Jeff a little surprise.”
Garrick stepped off the verandah to greet Gerard. “I would say more of a big surprise. Name’s Garrick…Rick.”
Gerard had done his own research on Garrick. “Miss Norman may not want to call me Gerard but that’s the name. Maybe we could get together, I’d like to see some more of your work.”
It was Jakala’s voice that made them all turn. “There will be no work to look at if you keep her waiting.”
Jenny smiled sweetly at Garrick as he showed Gerard into her office. Gerard just a little stunned at how quickly that sweetness disappeared to be replaced with a cold hard exterior , her eyes growing dark as she imprisoned him in her glare. Jenny seated herself back behind the desk beckoning Gerard to be seated. Feeling out of his depth was unnatural for Gerard but Jenny made him edgy. He just hoped that it did not show.
Jenny handed him several pieces of paper before she spoke. “These are my terms Mr Tinnion. Some we have discussed. No doubt you will want to argue over some of the details.”
Gerard flashed his eyes from the papers to Jenny, she held his stare for longer than he had expected but he refused to be drawn into a discussion before he had read everything.
Jenny smiled as he read, she liked him. Patrick’s advice had been good; this was going to be a good partnership once they ironed out the wrinkles.
When Gerard looked back to her she was still looking at him and he understood why people would be afraid of her. He placed the papers back on the desk and took several more from his brief case. “I had foreseen most of your requests Miss Norman and took the liberty of drawing up the contract. As you can see most of your proposals have been fulfilled.
Gerard knew by the dark shadow the crept across her face to where she had stopped reading. She dropped the contract back on the desk, standing. Gerard mirrored her moved. “I don’t do book tours Mr Tinnion.” Moving from behind the desk to stand directly in front of him she began to poke him in the chest until he had to sit back down. “I am very disappointed in you Mr Tinnion. I had expected more from you. Did you expect me to agree to a six month tour of the United States ?”
His answer surprised Jenny. “No.”
Jenny rested herself on the edge of the desk, arms folded across her chest. “No….Then why risk my wrath Mr Tinnion?”
Inwardly Gerard was smiling. “Because I would like to discus a proposal with you that I think will appeal to you.”
The next hour was the most intense of Gerard’s life. He had brokered million dollar deals all over the world yet Jenny took him to the very edge of his ability. She was a fast thinker, never gave away a point, knew exactly what she wanted and she got it. By the time they were finished Gerard looked rather dishevelled and tired. On the other hand Jenny looked quite calm and collected. He admired her, she was indeed brilliant. Jenny signed her name to several pages of the new contract and rested back in her chair. Gerard was placing his hard fought for contract back in his case when she spoke his given name for the first time. “Gerard….Don’t ever do that again. Ask the question next time….Now go be a nuisance to someone else for a while.”

Gerard wandered out to find the other three men sitting on the verandah. A smile was not the expression they expected him to be wearing. Patrick was the first to speak. “Well do I still have a job?”
“She’s tough but I got what I wanted.”
Garrick laughed a little. “Are you sure about that?”
Gerard shook his head. “Well just say I am happy with the outcome. Jenny has agreed to a book tour.”
His words stunned everyone, especially Patrick. “You’re kidding right? She’d never agree to leave this place for too long. It was hard enough getting her to come to the office every few years. What’s the catch?”
Gerard smiled putting his reassuring arm around Patrick’s shoulders. “The catch my friend is that Jenny is not going to the world, the world is coming to Jenny.”

Gerard Tinnion made a welcome guest at the dinning table. Patrick and Garrick sat together as they had before, Gerard and Jakala sat opposite and Jenny took the head of the table. Gully placed himself under the table between Jakala and Gerard.
Though the conversation was tilted towards business it was light hearted and enjoyable, Jenny at ease with her four male companions. Each time Garrick happened to look at her she smiled and he could feel himself slipping further under her spell wondering if anyone else knew how he felt. Gerard’s voice brought him back to reality and he saw Jakala smile. He knew.
“Well Miss Norman how do we get word out to the good people of the district that a carnival is headed their way?”
The others laughed in unison and Garrick’s voice crackled with mischief. “Ted!”
Jakala placed his hand on Gerard’s shoulder. “This is something people need; they need time to forget their troubles for a while. You will find no lack of volunteers once they know their small part of the world will be the focus of a documentary. Gerard…. You may not understand what you have done.” Jakala paused looking to Jenny. “But you will.”

Gerard and Patrick left that night, Patrick more than happy of an offer of a ride back to the city. Before they left Gerard secured Garrick’s services as the photographer for the project; taking copies of some of Garrick’s prized photos of Jenny and the Station with him.

Jenny, Garrick and Jakala sat on the steps with Gully at their feet as the prevailing stillness washed over them. Jenny sighed. “I’m not sure I am ready for this.”
Jakala and Garrick both reached out and took hold of her hands. Jenny pulled them both to their feet as she looked into the darkness. “Things are changing.” She dropped Garrick’s hand and took hold of both of Jakala’s. “And you are leaving me.”
Garrick silently slipped into the house. “You are not going to stay to watch Gerard turn the town upside down?”
Jakala placed his fingers gently on her lips and pulled her into a hug. Jenny rested her head on his chest and did not see his tears and for the last time he ran his hands though her hair.

Purposefully that evening Jenny used the radio to make the call to Dr Bradley about the impending invasion knowing full well that Ted would be listening. Garrick stood at the entrance to her office smiling, consuming all he could, the click of his camera drew her attention towards him. She smiled as she said good night to the doctor deliberately leaving the frequency open to listen for chatter. Even before she got to Garrick Ted’s voice rang out.
Garrick let his camera drop and hang from his arm as his whole body burned with a fire he could not contain. As Jenny brushed stray wisps of hair from his face he closed his eyes surrendering to her touch. Their lips met and nothing but the spell she had cast on him existed.

Mr Weston stood at the front door, seeing Jenny wrapped in the arms of another human being was almost enough to make the old bushman cry. Instead he coughed realising that things were going to get embarrassing if he did not let them know of his presence.
Garrick and Jenny unlocked themselves from each other. “Yes Mr Weston what is it?”
Her voice surprised them both. Still soft and tender but with a hint of intensity at the edges. Neither man could have known how much control it was taking for her to suppress just how she really felt.
“I’ve taken them city fellas back to the town and being Friday thought I would check to see if it is okay for the men to head there as well but being so late I…..”
Jenny waved her hand in the air. “Of course it is all right Mr Weston just don’t leave until I have had a chance to talk to them.”
“You want to talk to them about Ger…er Mr Tinnion’s plan?”
“Exactly. I’ll be over in a few minutes.”
Mr Weston left and Garrick came up behind her placing his hand around her waist. “What are you up to?”
As she turned Garrick saw the impish look on her face. “Why don’t you go over to the bunkhouse as well. I’ll give Jeff enough time to fill them in. I am sure that Patrick and Gerard did a lot of talking on the ride into town… I still have a few surprises of my own.”
“That…Miss Norman is something I have no doubt about.” He kissed her before following Mr Weston across the courtyard.
Jenny went back into the office and switched off the radio. By morning most of the surrounding district would know of the impending invasion.

As was usual when Jenny entered the bunkhouse silence settled, all eyes fell on her. Garrick was seated at the back but still could not comprehend the hold she had over people. Only seconds before the men had been like excited school boys as Mr Weston unfolded the plans Gerard had for the town but now, a complete and utter stillness only Mr Weston moved tipping his head to acknowledge Jenny.
Jenny picked each man out one by one, looking them squarely in the eyes for a few seconds before she spoke. “I know you are all eager to get to town so I shall make this as quick as possible.” Her voice was commanding yet softer. Garrick was not sure if the men had picked up on it, it was too hard to tell. “I gather Mr Weston has made the situation clear. Some of you men have families you have not seen in a while.” Jenny’s eyes fell on the Butler boy and his gaze dropped to the ground. “If you wish you may invite them to this rather unusual event.” No man spoke but a few did look to each other. Garrick smiled as nobody was watching him except Jenny. “Arrangements have been made for their accommodation. Mr Tinnion will provide whatever is required. I want names and numbers by the end of next week”. Jenny half turned to leave. “Butler.”
The young man almost jumped to attention at the sound of his name. “You wife and child will stay in the main house.”
Without another word Jenny disappeared leaving them in stunned silence. Garrick watched their reactions from the back of the room. It was if they all let out a collective sigh of relief. Poor Eric Butler had gone pale and Mr Weston grabbed the young man around the shoulders. “I guess that means you better invite them. Jenny will skewer you to the closest tree if you don’t.”
By now most of the men had composed themselves and were talking through Jenny’s invitation as Mr Weston noticed Garrick watching and smiling from the back. “You coming into town with us tonight Rick?” Even before the words where out of his mouth the old bushman knew the answer.
Garrick stood. “Not tonight but I dare say the town will be a buzz this weekend.” He looked out the open door to see Jenny enter the house meaning that she had stoped in the courtyard and listened to the cacophony coming from the bunkhouse. “Besides; I have things I need to talk over with Jenny.”
As he began to walk to the door Mr Weston gently touched his arm and spoke so only Garrick heard. “You take care of that girl Rick.”
Garrick smiled. “It’s okay but after what I have to tell her she might not let me.” He saw the darkness flash across Mr Weston’s face. “Something about me she needs to know before things go any further.”
“Crickey you’re not gay?!”
Mr Weston’s reaction shocked Garrick and got the attention of every other man in the bunkhouse, the room once more completely silent. Garrick managed to keep his composure the calm tone of his voice even surprising him. “No Jeff, it’s just something she needs to know.”
“Well we all know it is best to be up front with Jenny.”
One of the men cut Mr Weston off. “Yeah just ask Dean Farmer.”
Mr Weston flashed him a look that said more than any words. Dean Farmer was not a subject of discussion.
Garrick reassured Mr Weston again before he found himself in the courtyard wondering just how he was going to explain a few home truths about himself to Jenny. Taking a deep breath he walked towards the house.

He stood for a few moments at the entrance to the office and watched Jenny as she punched away on the keyboard. He could tell by the way she sat and they way her fingers glided across the keys she was writing another story. She looked up and smiled at him without stopping. In return Garrick moved behind her and began to massage her shoulder as he read the screen. “Silver case and a foreign spy…. Bobby and Daren are going to love it.”
Jenny’s fingers stopped their dance as she turned her chair, standing to face Garrick. As her lips touched his Garrick felt himself slipping further under her spell but somewhere in his mind a warning sounded and he remembered why he had returned to the house. He pulled away and stepped back from her and Jenny did not miss the hesitation or uneasiness in his voice. “Jenny there is something I need to tell you.”
Jenny smiled sweetly though her keen sense told her that Garrick was not all comfortable so she tried to make it easier for him. “You’re not going to tell me you really are a spy?”
Garrick drove his hands into his pockets and turned away not being able to look at her. “No. It’s…It’s…I have to tell you before we go any further.”
He felt her presence engulf him as she placed her hand gently on his shoulder, her voice like warm honey, soft and soothing. “If it’s that important maybe we should sit down while you explain.”
She dropped her hands from his shoulders, taking his hand and in silence guided him out of the office into the family room. Garrick followed like a lost child. He had been in the room many times before. It was more like a mini library every wall except for the one that looked out into the courtyard lined with shelves filled with books. It was out fitted with a large sofa and several large armchairs that he had found very conducive to reading for long periods of time. This time he saw none of it, his mind raced trying to find the right words and he was already seated on the sofa beside Jenny before he knew it. Jenny had sat herself in the corner with one leg drawn up underneath her, the other resting on the floor. “Maybe if I ask you some questions that would help. Would you mind?”
Garrick shook his head. “Okay here goes.” Jenny was probably more anxious about what he had to say than he realised. She loved him but the seriousness that covered him was unsettling. “Are you married?”
Garrick shook his head.
“Have you been in gaol?”
Again a silent shake of the head for an answer.
Are you gay?”
Jenny was amused that it was this question that managed to acquire a verbal and most emphatic answer.
“No! I am Not.”
“Well you are not married, not a felon and not gay. Most of my questions head down hill from there. Do you want to put me straight or wait for my over active imagination to have you in all sorts of undesirable situation?” Jenny had tried to be cheeky but the hurt she could see on his face cut her very deep.
“Jenny! How could you make fun of something so serious?”
“Garrick I have no idea what I am making fun off. I can keep guessing but don’t you think it is about time you told me what is worrying you so much.”
Nervously Garrick ran his hands through his hair and dropped his head a little so that Jenny could no longer see his face. Somehow he found the courage to start talking. “Jenny….This is so hard for me. I’ve only had a few relationship with women and they all ended before it got……..serious.” There was a slight pause as he looked straight into her eyes and saw the love while she saw all his pain. “I love you very much Jenny. I don’t know how or why. I do know my life would be empty without you as part of it.”
Jenny knew better than to interrupt and waited patiently for Garrick to get to his point but his words had sown a wonderful seed in her heart. With those words she knew she was willing to give her love, all her love to him no matter what, no matter what he said, she didn’t care.
Garrick stammered, struggling to get his words out. “Jenny..It’s like this….I mean….I …Oh damn it!!! Garrick got mad at himself almost screaming out the words. “I’m a virgin!!!” He slumped back into the safety of the sofa waiting for Jenny’s response the silence between them unbearable but he was not willing to look at her waiting for the laugh, the wise crack.
Jenny moved slowly from her end of the sofa slipping her body over his, feeling him trembling under her as she kissed him. “I only wish I had the same gift to offer you…but I don’t.”
Garrick just stared at her, in a single moment she had turned the major torment of his life into a gift. He no longer felt lacking or afraid of what she would think. She thought it a gift and he suddenly had a deeper understand of what she had lost at the hands of Dean Farmer. “You do have a gift Jenny, It’s you. I love you. I don’t care what happened before. If you’ll have me. Jenny as in experienced as I am I want you to be my wife.”
Jenny answered in surprise. “What?!!”
“I’m asking you to marry me.”
“Even knowing what you do about me you want me to marry you?”
“Yes….” Garrick became very serious. “Jenny Norman I am asking you to be my wife, what is your answer?”
The silence cast a shadow over his heart as he waited for her response.

Garrick popped his head into Jenny’s room but found it empty, smiling he knew she would have been up early. Turning to make his way downstairs he came face to face with Jakala. “I am glad to see that you asked her Rick. I was beginning to wonder about you.”
Garrick was a little taken back by Jakala’s remark thinking that maybe he had already talked to Jenny that morning.
“Asked Jenny what?”
Jakala smiled as the two men walked towards the stairs. “Her answer was yes?”
Garrick answered without thinking “Yes.” Then short a startled look across at his friend, his only defence was to smile back at Jakala’s beaming face.
Half way down the stairs Jakala stopped, a serious expression crossing his face. “Only a man that is willing to exchange his life for hers will be able to cope. Are you willing to do that Rick?”
Garrick’s tone was also sober. “I told you once before I would die for her. Then I did not understand why. I will not let anyone or anything harm her Jakala. Never.”
“I fear that you may need to call on all your strength and courage Rick, it is your strength that Jenny will draw from you and you will let her and one day she may need to take too much. Are you that strong Rick? When another storm threatens her will you be ready? ”
Jakala descended the stairs, Garrick trailing after wondering what Jakala was trying to say to him. Jenny was a strong woman, stronger than any person Garrick had met, yet he had seen what the devastation of loosing her family had done to her.
He stood at the kitchen door watching as Jakala gently kissed Jenny on the forehead before resting his hands on her shoulders. “He is a good man Jenny, a very good man, do not be afraid to trust him, do not withhold your love from him and he will make you very happy. I am glad that you have been granted the wish of your heart.”
Jenny took him by the hands. “My wish, my wish is for you to stay, to know that we all can be a family.”
Jakala felt his presence. “Come, both of you. It is time to give you my wedding gift.” He departed from the back door and Garrick took his place brushing his lips gently over Jenny’s before asking his question “When did you tell him?”
Jenny smiled. “I haven’t.”

Jakala’s gift was indeed a surprise for standing in the yard at the back of the house was a beautiful jet-black horse with the most amazing sandy, almost blonde mane and tail. Next to her stood a colt with the same distinctive markings. Jakala stood holding the colt, scratching under its ear. Jenny gasped. “Jakala! Where on earth did you find such wonderful animals?” Jenny wound her way around the mother, gently running her hand down the horses back talking to it all the while. As she reached the colts she knelt down and looked the little horse right in the eyes. In return the colt gave a neigh and nudged Jenny playfully then nuzzled its nose into her neck. Jenny laughed as did Jakala.
“It seems my choice of owner has been approved.”
Jenny stood still unconsciously stroking the little horse. “You mean? ” She never finished the sentence flinging her arms around Jakala’s neck. “He’s beautiful. I’ve never had a colt of my own.”
Over Jenny’s shoulder Jakala looked at Garrick. “The mother of this little beast is yours Rick.” Garrick began to shake his head but Jakala had not finished. “If you are to remain here you must have a horse of your own.”
Jakala walked over to the mother and Jenny knelt back down next to her new colt. “She is a very fine animal Rick, smart, intuitive and holds great courage under her beauty. I can think of no man that deserves her more.” Jakala handed the reigns to Garrick who took them hesitantly looking to Jenny thinking it far better that she should own such a horse and said so.
Jakala smiled. “Jenny has her horse. One of them would have to die before they parted, they are as one. You will see in time. “
Garrick watched Jenny with the colt, it was like watching her with Darren and Bobby and it brought a smile to his face and warmed his heart. “Take care of both ladies Rick and they will treat you well.”
Garrick shook his friend’s hand. “Thanks, thanks for everything.” Turning to his new acquisition Garrick pulled the horses face closer to his. She did not resist, nor seem shy or afraid of him. “Well Midnight, shall we get you settled into your new home?”
As Garrick guided the larger horse to the stable Midnight raised her head and let out a distinctive neigh. Immediately the young colt sprang into action running to his mother’s side. Jenny laughed as the colt almost knocked Garrick off his feet you get closer to its mother. Catching up to the trio Jenny slipped her hand into Garrick’s free arm. “Oh Rick aren’t they wonderful? I’ve never seen anything so perfect yet so different.” Jenny tuned to say something to Jakala. Her face went ashen and her grasp on Garrick’s arm became tighter. Garrick stopped and looked behind him and shouted. “Jakala.”
Silently Jenny began to cry.
It was as if a silent wind had carried him away, no goodbye, no last hug, no final kiss….Jakala was gone.
The colt seeming to sense Jenny’s distress returned to her side and gently brushed its face across her leg. Garrick held her closer unable to comprehend the emptiness that Jakala’s leaving had placed on him. If he felt this way, how did Jenny feel? Looking down at her tear streaked face he pulled her even closer.

Bobby and Darren played with Gully and Tinsel, Jenny’s colt in the scrub while Jenny and Garrick relaxed for a while under the boy’s tree. It was their special place but for the past several months Garrick has joined Jenny and the boys on their trips and at times enjoyed Jenny’s stories just as much as the boys did.
At first the boy’s had been a little stand offish at Garrick’s intrusion into their weekends but Jenny in her own way had brought them all closer together and having the small colt along the last few weeks had proved to be a brilliant idea. The boys would eat up Jenny’s stories and her food and then spend time with the small horse. It gave Jenny and Garrick time to themselves away from the station away from the buzz that Gerald Tinnion’s book tour had caused. Sitting in the shade of the tree, embraced in Garrick’s arms it seemed very far away.
Garrick sat silent, his back propped up against the tree with Jenny in front of him, his arms folded around hers, his chin resting on her head, eyes closed. A year ago he would not have imagined he could be as happy as he was. His mind raced though his adventures since arriving in Australia. None of them came close to what he was feeling right now. Garrick took several deep breathes and Jenny shighed a little and he opened his eyes.
Tinsel was still playing a horses version of tag with Gully and the boys. Jenny turned her body towards Garrick coming to her knees, silently smiling she kissed him.
Garrick washed his hands across Jenny’s cheeks and through her long her until they rested on her shoulders. “What was that for?”
“Because I love you and I don’t ever want to loose you.”
Even though her words were quiet they stirred Garrick’s heart and soul. Sometimes he still had trouble coming to the realisation that this was the same woman who had threatened to kill him. He held her gaze with his own. “You’ll never loose me Jenny. I promise.” With those words he pulled her even closer and right at that moment Gully decided he needed to be between them both breaking the tension they could both feel. Garrick and Jenny laughed and spent the rest of the afternoon cavorting with Bobby and Darren.
The sun was well on her way to warm another part of the world by the time they had taken care of their horses. Bobby and Darren could be heard laughing as they took care of their horses while Jenny and Garrick walked hand in hand to the kitchen entrance. As was her manner Jenny dusted of her clothes with her hat and washed her face but for the first time in many months she stood looking up towards the hill. Garrick come up behind her cradling her waist in his arms. “Your father would have been very proud of you Jenny.”
“I only wish he could see the place now….See us.”
Garrick’s voice was tender. “I’m sure he can, I’m sure he can.”
The slamming of the front screen door and Darren running along the hallway got Jenny’s attention. Her booming authoritarian voice brought Darren to a screeching halt and Bobby time to understand it would be far better to contain himself and walk. “Darren Bradley! Young men do not run in my house!!” By the time Jenny had spoken she was standing at the internal door to the kitchen looking down at Darren. Bobby bringing up the rear a little slower while Garrick stood at the kitchen sink with a smile on his face. A smile that disappeared as Jenny aimed her words at him without turning to look at him. “You can stop smiling Rick.”
He did stop smiling but not before he winked at the two boys making them smirk until they looked back at Jenny. She was not amused. “What is so important to make you come flying through the house like a jumbo jet?”
Darren pointed back the way they had come but it was Bobby who spoke. “Miss Jenny, Gullys’ caught a snake. A big one.”
Calmly Jenny walked passed the boys and out the front door. Garrick as well as the two boys followed at a safe distance, they stopped on the verandah as Jenny continued into the front yard. Gully had indeed caught a snake, its neck in its mouth. The dog seeming to know that if he let go he would be bitten. Garrick watched as Jenny bent down taking the snake from the dog and just before it could wrap itself around her arm she broke its neck. Garrick did not realise until then he had been holding his breath. “Please tell me that is not poisonous?” He was looking at the now limp snake hanging from her hand. It was almost five feet long.
Jenny smiled but as she got to Garrick she stopped. “I could but then I would be lying.” She kept walking making Garrick chase after her. “What are you going to do with it?”
Jenny stopped half way down the hall. Looked passed Garrick to the boys before looking back at him and with a very straight face spoke. “Cook it for dinner of course.”
Jenny continued back down the hall to the kitchen with the boys hot on her heals leaving Garrick dumbfounded. He pushed his hands into his jean pockets and looked down at Gully who had been sitting by his side. “She wouldn’t would she?”
As if to answer Gully gave Garrick a bark and scampered down the hall to the kitchen. Garrick also went down the hall shaking his head. “I don’t care what she says. I’m not eating snake.”
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PostSubject: chapter 21   Fri Mar 04, 2011 8:28 am

Chapter 21
Jakala stood behind the pulpit of one of the larger lecture halls of The University of Newcastle in the Hunter Region of New South Wales, looking up at the rows of terraced seats that would soon hold three hundred, he hoped eager students. He was to give a serious of lectures over the next five days before moving on further south to take up a twelve month teaching position. Jakala’s thoughts on the matter were very detached. For him one city, one university were all very much the same. He always felt cold and isolated, far from home. No matter how much time he spent in such places the feelings never left him, his hunger was for the land and his thoughts drifted to Jenny. He had left her not able to bring himself to say the words that he knew would cause them both so much pain, knowing that if he had held her one last time he would have gone with his heart and stayed as Jenny had asked. How hard it had been not to say yes. Jakala knew his destiny was laid before him and leaving the Norma Station, leaving Jenny was part of that destiny. His senses told him he would never return and he sighed with the knowledge that Garrick was now a part of Jenny’s life, would take over his duties to look after her, watch over her and be there for her. Yet the fact that he would never see Jenny or his home again rested heavy within him.

The echo of a booming voice in the still empty lecture hall wrenched Jakala out of his thoughts. A man in a white dust jacket with bundles of papers stuffed under one arm and a laptop computer in the other approached Jakala with a smile beaming from his face. “Jack I thought it was you. How the hell have you been? I never expected to see you in these parts.” The man rested his computer on the bench and shook Jakala’s hand.
Jakala returned his smile and handshake. “Adam….Only here for the week. Have some empty minds to fill before I leave. I thought you were still in Melbourne? City life not what you expected?”
Adam’s laugh rang around the room. “You know me Jack, Always go where the money is. The university dangled a carrot too good to refuse. I have a grant to continue my research for the next five years.”
Jakala let a small smile curl the side of his mouth; he knew the rules as well as the next man. “What’s the catch Adam?”
Adam sounded like a giddy schoolboy as he answered. “The catch…..get this. I give three lectures a week, have my own office and lab and can choose up to five assistants. Can you believe it five. I have two of them working already.”
As students began to filter into the hall Adam picked up his computer. “I have a lecture now as well, if you are free later we can catch up?”
“Yes I’ll be done in about three hours.”
Adam looked to the steady stream of students taking their seats. “Have these poor guys got any idea what they are in for? I seem to remember you are rather brutal.”
Jakala gave a little shrug of his shoulders. “No more than I need to be.”
Adam took a quick look at the bench. “I see you still teach without notes, then again you always were the brightest in the class, in any class as I recall.” Adam left calling over his shoulder. “See you at the coffee house in three.”
Jakala waved goodbye to his friend and calmly began to draw a detailed diagram of a horses reproductive organs on the white board, freehand. It had the desired affect. As the students came to realised what he was drawing and how, the now full room fell silent. With his back to the class Jakala smiled, he loved this part. As in times past when finished he turned to face the students and received applause. The student’s admiration soon turned to dismay when Jakala told them he expected them to be able to do the same by the end of the week. It was so hard for him to keep such a stern face while having so much fun. He never intended for them to be able to master the feat he had just performed but while they thought so they would study harder, work harder and accomplish more in the week than any of them dreamed.
He was away from home but times like this helped just a little.

Ted was in a flap when Garrick arrived at the pub. His mouth had not taken a rest since Gerard Tinnion’s news had swept across the region. Through the mayhem Ted had managed to put a fresh coat of paint over his establishment starting a chain reaction of renovations in the town. There was not one building in town except for the police station that had not been attacked in some way. At the very least most had been painted inside and out. Garrick stood outside the pub and watched amused as Ted gave instructions for the raising of a new sign above the entrance. It was obvious the workers were paying him no attention what so ever. Sergeant Russell stood next to Garrick silent for a while.
“No, no, you got it wrong. It has to be a little further to the left. No…..No….now it’s crooked.” Ted wiped the back of his hand across his forehead.
Finally Garrick spoke up. “Ted….any chance of getting a cold beer before the end of the century?”
Ted shot an angered look at Garrick then back at the workers while Sergeant Russell smirked but remained silent. Ted’s voice sounded of defeat as he escorted them both inside. “I can’t see what is so hard. They just have to take down the old sign and put up a new one.”
Now back behind the counter Ted seemed to relax. Pouring a beer for Garrick and a lime and soda for Sergeant Russell. The Sergeant half emptied his glass before he spoke. “Seems when Jenny is involved things tend to get a little…..”
While the Sergeant fumbled to find the right word Garrick finished his sentence for him. “A little intense.” Garrick took a drink of his beer. “I wonder how the town is going to handle the invasion once the trucks start turning up?”
The thought of trucks set Ted off into another panic. “Trucks…What trucks?”
“Easy Ted they wont be here for a while.”
Sergeant Russell interrupted before Ted’s bottom lip had a chance to quiver. “That’s what I came to tell you. They’ll be here this afternoon.”
Ted went positively pale as Garrick carried on the conversation. “The TV crew I take it?”
“Yep. Coming to set up. They want to film from the very beginning. Other trucks with the prefab accommodation as well. I expect Jenny will be hearing from Mr Tinnion any time now.”
“She already has, he arrives today. That’s why I am in town to play chauffeur.”
Sergeant Russell caught Ted in his gaze. “What’s the matter Ted? Cat got your tongue.”
Apparently it had; Ted was mute, his lips trembled but no words were forthcoming.
Garrick finished his beer. “You off on official business?”
Sergeant Russell shook his head. “No, thought I would drop in on Dr Bradley. After the hospital board decided they could not leave well enough alone he’s been a man on the edge. You know that place was painted not more than 18 months ago. Again the Doc’s been band from his own office, only has one operating room that is fully functional and the smell of paint is driving patients and staff up the wall. The Doc even threatened to take the 6 weeks leave he is owed.”
The Sergeant’s statement surprised Garrick. Maybe I should pay him a visit, give him an excuse to get away for the afternoon.”
Garrick took an involuntary breath as they stepped into the heat of the day and both men looked up into the sky hearing the sound of a plane.
Sergeant Russell’s tone was matter of fact. “Looks like you are going to have other things to do.”
Garrick nodded but his eyes diverted to the road that led into town. Off in the distance was a dust cloud. “Think you might be in the same boat.”
Sergeant Russell turned and squinted looking down the road. “The invasion has begun.”
“Just out of curiosity where are you going to put them all?”
Garrick caught the mischievous twinkle that flashed across Sergeant Russell’s eyes as he left. “Why in all that lovely open space behind the police station of course.”

Garrick did not have to wait long at the airstrip, Gerard had already landed and parked his plane and the two men shook hands like old friends.
Gerard threw his briefcase unceremoniously in the back of the ute and squashed his own frame into the seat. “How is Ted coping with all this?”
“Ted….Ted is not coping. He’s just about got the whole district in a flap.”
Gerard laughed. “Guess I better try and smooth things over after I’ve had a chance to check on the arrival of the trucks. I saw them as I was flying in.”
Garrick shot him a look. “Not yet Jenny’s expecting you at the Station. Has a few things to discuss.”
Gerard began to protest but as they turned onto the road leading out to the station he knew it was a waist of time. Looking back he caught a glimpse of the first truck to roll into town. He knew Jenny well enough not to keep her waiting, his inspection would have to wait.

Gully raced around the ute as Garrick and Gerard pulled up outside the house. Once he unwound himself from the ute Gerard greeted Gully with a smile, kneeling to pat the dog. In return Gully licked his face affectionately. Smiling Garrick walked passed them and received his own welcomed kiss from Jenny as she came to stand on the top step. Gerard feeling her presence more than seeing her ceased his playful antics with Gully. As their eyes met he sensed a change, Jenny was different, more relaxed? more human? Even so Gerard made a mental note that it was no excuse to let his guard down. Indeed before he could even deliver the little speech he had been working on Jenny let him know exactly where he stood.
“Well Mr Tinnion, Gully seems to think you are a welcome addition to our community. I certainly hope you can live up to the expectations.” Jenny motioned to the front door. “Shall we get down to business. I am sure you are anxious to get back to town and inspect your troops.”
Gerard followed Jenny into the office thinking he had been wrong, it was just his imagination; she had not changed at all.
As Jenny sat behind her desk she relaxed and a small smile escaped from her lips as she spoke his name, his first name. “Well Gerard how does it feel to have the heartbeat of a whole community in your hands?”
Gerard was quite taken back by the softness in her eyes and the genuine concern in her voice and it took him a little while to answer. “To tell you the truth this project has grown to mammoth proportions.”
Jenny’s eyes sparkled with mischief. “Then maybe we should just call the whole thing off.”
Gerard was up, out of his seat in a flash pacing back and forth in front of Jenny’s desk. “Oh no you don’t! You’ve signed on the dotted line. There is no way you are going to back out of this now. You’ve got my whole company in a turmoil.”
Jenny was trying her hardest to keep a straight face but looking passed Gerard to Garrick it was impossible and she let out a laugh that had been straining to be free.
Garrick laughed as he patted the other man on the back but Gerard was not amused. “What’s so funny?”
Jenny got up from behind her desk and went to stand next to Garrick, slipping her arm around his middle as she did. “I wouldn’t dream of backing out, the town would never forgive me.”
Gerard moaned collasping back into his chair. “Jenny, you’ll drive me to an early grave. Just when I think I have you figured out ….”
He stopped in mid sentence as Jenny placed a small kiss on the top of his head. “Poor Gerard. I thought you would have figured out the best way to understand a woman is as simple as not trying to.”
Gerard moaned again. “Jenny you are absolutely impossible.”
Jenny answered as she left the room. “Yes I know.”
Gerard looked to Garrick. “What the hell did you do to her? At least before I knew where I stood.”
Garrick’s face was a little more serious as he answered. “When it comes to business you will be in no doubt as to what she wants or where you stand. She’s still ruthless.”
Gerard came to his feet. “I never thought I would see the day when I said this but I am glad. Though you must admit there is something different about her. Do you have any idea what it is?”
Garrick smiled. “Yes I do.”
“Well don’t keep me in suspense what is it?”
“Jenny and I are getting married.” With that Garrick left Gerard stunned as he went in search of his bride to be.
Garrick’s parting statement had sent Gerard’s brain into a spin and his body into a static response, he literally couldn’t moved he was so shocked. Married……The word spun through his mind. Suddenly Gerard reigned in his emotions and began the calculations, smiling as he walked through the house to the kitchen. It would make a great ending to the documentary…..A wedding.

Gerard found Garrick and Jenny at the table, a chair and a hot cup of coffee waiting for him. “Do you two have any other surprises up you collective sleeves I need to know about?”
Jenny and Garrick flashed a smile between themselves and answered in unison. “No.”
Gerard sat, taking a sip of his coffee. “You realise this changes everything?”
The alarms began to chime for Jenny and her attitude changed instantly and the moment she removed her hand from Garrick’s he knew Gerard was in trouble.
Jenny’s voice was cold and piercing as she spoke. “Gerard….You are not going to turn something as precious as a wedding into a vile media event. You should be content with the fact that I allowed you to do this book tour. Don’t even consider messing around with my life more than you already have.”
“Damn it Jenny!!” Gerard thumped his hand on the table. “This angle would be worth a great deal. I….”
Jenny cut him off. “And how much would it be worth if I pulled the plug on the whole tour?”
Garrick stepped in seeing the old flame in Jenny’s eyes he knew she was ready for war and if Gerard was not careful he was going to loose more than he bargained for. “How about a compromise?”
Jenny and Gerard shouted their answers out together “NO!!!”
“Fine, then we won’t get married.”
Garrick headed for the kitchen door praying for all he was worth that Jenny would take the bait but it was Gerard’s hand that grabbed him and pulled him back into the room. “Hold on a minute mate. Sit down.”
The look on Jenny’s face was enough to stop time itself for Garrick. Her face wet with tears, her eyes spoke of pain and he body rigid with betrayal. Looking into her sad, sad face the words he had spoken, the promise he had made her echoed back to stab at his heart. ‘You will never loose me.’ In his attempted to play their game he had hurt the one person in the world he had vowed not to. Jenny had taken their love and their marriage deeper into her heart and soul than any human should be capable. Garrick pushed the chair across the room and knelt by her side. “Dear God Jenny do you really think I could ever leave you.? How could I possibly live without you now?” Garrick held her hands as he watched the tears fall knowing he would sacrifice his own soul for her if she asked him. “Jenny we’ll forget the whole damn tour, walk away if that is what you want. All I know is that I want to spend the rest of my life with you and I don’t care where. Please Jenny forgive me. I was just trying to make sense of all this and I made a mistake. Please Jenny.”
Gerard wanted to say something, he could see the whole tour evaporating before his eyes along with his career but he waited. Garrick waited still holding her hands, hoping. If she fell back into her old ways there would be nothing he could do to undo the damage, he would loose her forever.
Jenny gave Garrick a small smile and gently stroked his cheek, it was only then he felt like he could breathe again. “People are entitled to one mistake in their lives. I think that was yours. Don’t ever hurt me like that again Rick, what you get in return maybe more than you can handle.”
Garrick was going to say something but Jenny stopped him with a kiss so tender he almost forgot her last words…..Almost.
In a spilt second Jenny shifted her attention from Garrick to Gerard. “Well Gerard what are you still doing here? I imagine the horde that arrived earlier today will need some guidance. Do we or do we not have a show to put on?”
Gerard straightened up his shoulders and saluted “Yes Mamm!!!” As he turned on his heels to leave he realised he would need a lift.
Anticipating his thoughts Jenny spoke while still looking into Garrick’s eyes. “Take the ute Gerard. I’ll have one of the boys pick it up tomorrow.”
With Gerard gone the room fell silent and Garrick enveloped Jenny’s body with his arms. “ Don’t ever let me be that stupid again Jenny.”
“You shouldn’t involve yourself in things you don’t understand.”
“I’m involved with you and I certainly don’t completely understand you.”
Garrick could not see the small smile creep across her face as Jenny hugged him a little tighter. “I guess people are allowed two mistakes in their life.”
Garrick raised her head gently from his chest so once again he was staring into those eyes that seemed to grab at his very being. “You are no mistake Jenny Norman.” He kissed her tenderly and Jenny wrapped her arms around his neck accepting his love, allowing herself to be carried by the love he had for her.

With in two days Gerard’s contingent of workers had established themselves behind the police station. Prefabricated living quarters had been assembled, generators had been put in place, supplies and equipment stored and the command centre was up and running with the help of solar power and satellite dishes. This is where Gerard stood looking over the makeshift town relieved that the whole thing had come together….so far. However he still had an uneasy feeling he couldn’t shake when it came to Jenny. He knew that if any of them set a foot wrong she could make their lives, his life a living hell.
Gerard had already despatched several film crews into the field to gather information for the documentary. At that very moment they were crawling all over the town and surrounding region. He had given them a list of colourful characters to interview and of course top of that list was Ted. The film crew interviewed a very proud Ted behind the counter of his Pub, Dr Bradley, now back in his own office even if the paint was not quite dry and other station owners who were in town to pick up supplies. The film crew who had the job of interviewing Jenny were still waiting patiently beside their trucks for their orders. Gerard had hand picked the crew, briefed them as best he could about Jenny Norman and he hoped like hell they were up for the task if Jenny proved to be difficult. Gerard stepped down from the command centre over to the waiting crew. It would only be a matter of a few short weeks before the carnival arrived, literally. Sideshow alley, rides, stalls, even a fireworks display for the last night. He smiled to himself as he waved the crew into action. Jenny had indeed made the mountain come to her.

Gully lay contently under her desk as Jenny waded her way through work she had neglected. She had put the finishing touches to her lasted book and a copy sat on the corner of her desk. She had every confidence that Gerard would manage to get the book released to coincide with his documentary. She smiled as she thought of the hurdles she had put up in an attempted to slow him down. She was, in her own way proud that he had been able to withstand her tactics and although she would not admit it to anyone Jenny was rather looking forward to the towns little diversion from the real world for a while. Things had been very, very tough for many in the region and in her heart Jenny knew it was just what many of them needed.

She sighed looking back at the pile of rsvp’s, there was still work to be done. Several public officials had accepted even if it was only to publicise themselves, The Flying Doctors Service had agreed to set up an exhibition after Jenny had convinced them it was a good way to increase their profile. As well as these was the list of family members expected to arrive. Jenny had taken a personal interest in her employees families making sure the trip was not a burden, taking a special interest in those that had not replied or had not been told of the carnival. In all but two cases the problem had been financial and as Jenny was well acquainted with getting her way money was no longer the issue and few more of her men were in for a surprise when the planes began to role in. One wife was in her last 6 weeks of pregnancy when Jenny had called. The women disccused children and marriage and Jenny promised to have her husband shipped back home in the next two week for an extended stay. After all it was quite obvious what had transpired the last time. Which left Mrs Geena Micheals, wife of Samuel or so Jenny had thought until they talked. Samuel had filed for divorce and Geena had moved back to Brisbane six months after they were married. Jenny found Geena to be a very kind, warm hearted person who had realised that she was not cut out for life as a Jackaroos wife. She held no malice towards Samuel but Samuel had promised to help Geena out financially until she was back on her feet but had stopped sending money three months ago. Jenny did not mention anything to Geena but she intended to have a little chat to her jackeroo. It would be a chat that Samuel would not soon forget.

Gully raised himself from under Jenny’s desk well before Jenny herself heard the vehicles approach the boundary gate. The dog’s barking and antics had the usual effect on the visitors, especially the cameraman who had volunteered to open the gate. Seeing Gully in full flight the cameraman came to the conclusion that he could not close the gate and make it to the safety of one of the trucks before the manic dog got to him and he was right. He had hoped that the dog’s attention would be on the vehicles instead Gully flew past them, scrambling over the gate knocking the cameraman off is feet and flat on his back in the dirt. Gully stopped barking now seated on the man’s chest breathing heavily staring down at him. The cameraman was too terrified to move, waiting with eyes clenched shut for the dog to finish him off.
Jenny by now was on the verandah and as he alighted from the first truck Gerard nodded her a greeting before looking back down to the gate. “Jenny do you suppose you could call off your dog. I really do need that man fully functional for a little while longer.”
Jenny answered casually. “Well if he is that important I suppose I could arrange something along those lines.” Jenny put her fingers to her lips and let loose with a high pitched whistle that made Gerard cringe. Immediately Gully released the cameraman, quietly and calmly walked back towards the house. No one else had ventured outside the safety of the vehicles, though some had stuck their heads out of windows they all waited and watched as the cameraman gingerly got to his feet ,shutting the gate while watching Gully as the dog sat obediently at Jenny’s feet.
“Any other surprise I need to know about Jenny before we get started?” Gerard knew it had been a mistake as soon as the words left his lips.
Jenny’s own lips curled into a mischievous smile. “Why Mr Tinnion I thought you were an educated man. Don’t you know that life is full of surprises?
“Jenny please …..We have a great deal to get through I….”
Jenny shot him a look he wished he had not seen. “Would you like to go on another horse ride Mr Tinnion?”
Gerard shook his head taking in the full meaning of her words and was about to answer when one of his men foolishly spoke. “Hey Gerard that sounds like a great idea, get the two of you riding around the property.”
Jenny glared at Gerard then at the man who knew he had made a mistake just by the look on Jenny’s face as she approached the truck. “Seems we have a volunteer.” Jenny wrenched the door open and with his head still poking out of the window the man almost fell to the ground. “Out…The horses are that way.” Jenny pointed to the barn as the man went to speak. “Don’t be an idiot and try and argue with me.”
Gerard was very nervous, knowing what Jenny was planning and knowing his crew knew very little about horses. Watching the man make his way to the barn Gerard approached Jenny hoping to see some glimpse of compassion, even mischief. “Jenny, alive at the end of the day would be a good thing.” His heart sank with her answer
“That all depends on him then doesn’t it. Shall we get going?”

Jenny walked to the barn with Gully in tow leaving Gerard to answer unspoken questions. “Better get the cameras rolling boys this is going to be one hell of a ride.”
Gerard walked to the driver’s side of the truck and ordered the driver out. “She’ll come out like a bullet and expect us to keep up. I’ll do the driving.”
Gerard was horrified at what he saw when Jenny and her uncooperative student broke from the barn. She had tethered the horses together and already seemed to be speeding away from them. He punched the truck into gear and tried to keep up with them as a cameraman poked up through the sunroof trying to catch everything on film. What he did manage to catch was several very bruised ribs in his attempted to keep focused on Jenny.
Jenny’s student on the other hand screamed and floundered trying desperately to hold on to his horse, any part of his horse. He thought his life was over when Jenny guided both horses over the boundary gate. Several of the men in the trucks swore watching them race away as one of them jumped out to re-open the gate.
Jenny pushed the horses to their limits heading towards the ridge. She had no intention of taking the crewman down the slope but was sure his stop at the top would make a point.
Gerard pushed the truck to its limits terrified of what Jenny would actually do. “Jenny, you’re insane, you’re gonna kill him.”
His passenger gave him a grave look. “You know what she’s going to do?”
Gerard shot him a quick look before returning his concentration to the chase. “Jenny, never but I do know where she is going and I know what is out there. Radio the others I want the other camera up and running when we stop.”
Already ahead of Gerard the cameraman in the other truck was already taping the chase.
They were all moving fast and Gerard could see the outcrop approaching, much too fast. It looked like Jenny was actually going to take them over. Then it happened….Jenny let the second horse go and she kept riding. The second horse continued on its thunderous course and Gerard was positive it would follow Jenny over the edge when Gully turned on the horse barking and dancing and to Gerard’s relief turning the horse away from the slope. In that instant the cameraman fell off and Jenny disappeared. Gerard pulled the truck to a fast dusty stop at the top of the outcrop and everyone scrambled to the edge of the slope expecting to witness a tragedy. Gerard could not take his eyes off Jenny as he watched her careen down the slope. “Tell me we have this?”
The cameraman closest to him replied. “No problem Boss. If she kills herself we’ll have the footage.”
“She won’t.”
They all watched Jenny finish her trip down the cliff, dismount at the bottom as if she did it everyday and escorted her horse to the water. From behind a tree Garrick appeared kissing Jenny on the cheek before both of them looked back up the precipice and waved. Again the cameraman spoke still filming. “How the hell did he get down there?”
Gerard answered his question rather subdued. “Same way she did.”
“Man and I thought the city was extreme. This is going to be one hell of an assignment Boss.”
As he walked back to the truck Gerard answered. “You have no idea.”
Down below Garrick pulled Jenny into his arms. “Don’t you think that was just a little over done?”
“Quite possibly but I have no doubt that they will behave for the remainder of the assignment. Besides I still have a few more tricks up my sleeve.”
They touched foreheads. “Jenny Norman… I can see my life with you shall never be dull.”
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PostSubject: chapter 22   Sat Mar 19, 2011 4:11 am

Chapter 22
Only three days before the big day and Gerard was at his wits end. Jenny never said that she would make things easier for him but he never expected her to go out of her way to make them harder. Sitting at the bar holding his third schooner of cold beer Gerard wondered why he had put himself through so much to make the book tour happen. Jenny had pushed him and his crew to their limits and beyond. He smiled to himself having to admit that many of her suggestions had worked. A voice crackled through his thoughts. Garrick had been listening to Gerard for sometime well aware of what he was going through, knowing what Jenny had put him through. “She’ll drive you insane if you give her half a chance. You’ve accomplished an incredible thing here Gerard. Just take a look outside. Don’t you realise that even if it all fell apart tomorrow you have won.”
Gerard flashed him a frozen look. “Don’t even think that.”
Garrick smiled. “I’ve watched you two from the very beginning, even tried to help. You’ve stepped up to the mark each time she has thrown out a challenge, She sees that, she knows and she respects you. Don’t think for a minute she does not. Look… right now you have one of the countries most renowned interviewers up at the Station having a heart to heart with Jenny. Do you really think she would be doing this if you hadn’t fought for it?”
Gerard sighed. “Have you any idea how hard it is for me to just sit here not being able to keep control? She won’t let me anywhere near the place until the interview is over. I just hoped to hell he doesn’t say the wrong things and Jenny tries to put a hole in him.”
Garrick took a long drink from his glass remembering the night she had held a gun to his own stomach. “And do you realise how hard it is for her to open up to the whole country? Have everyone know of her past, her pain. Why do you think I am here with you instead of there with her? She will find it easier with strangers. Trust me Gerard, you won’t be disappointed.”

If either man had any idea of what was transpiring at the Station they would have been surprised. Jenny was holding Eric Butler’s baby in her arms, bottle feeding him as the interview took place and to the onlooker quite happily divulging information about herself; the good and the bad. When asked about her family she answered but it was taking all of her strength to control her emotions and holding the baby seemed to be helping her. Eric and his wife where standing just out of camera shot watching, Eric speechless.
When the subject of Dean Farmer arose everyone who knew of it tensed, expecting Jenny to stop the interview. Instead she dispelled the rumours and quite straightfowardly told the interviewer the truth of the incident, every detail. The crewman who had been for a ride with Jenny was in no doubt that the story was true. Jenny saw him looking at her and winked making him feel very self-conscious.
The interview took many turns, however when Jakala’s name cropped up it was the one time that Jenny could not hold up her defences. To help she rose from her seat and gave the baby back to its mother. “Would you like to see the wedding gift he gave us?”
Jenny did not wait for an answer; it was obvious by the looks on everyone’s face they knew nothing of the impending nuptials. The state of shock gave her time to regroup as they walked to the barn where the rest of the interview was conducted as Jenny’s pride and joy nuzzled as close as he could to her. The colt was much larger though he still liked to be close to his Mistress and Jenny always felt closer to Jakala around the colt.

Jenny and Gully stood at the gate watching the TV crew disappear up the road back into town. She smiled to herself. At first she had not known whether she was capable of pouring out her life before the cameras but in the end she had found the interview a healing process. She had been very honest, maybe too honest but then again it was up to the editing team to decide what stayed and what got cut. However Jenny had made it perfectly clear that she was to see the end product before it went to air. Gerard would arrange for a very private screening of the whole documentary as soon as it was finished. He knew better than to try to get it passed Jenny.

Mr Weston was sitting on the bunkhouse steps as Jenny walked back to the house so she drifted over and sat beside him. “Enjoying the interlude Mr Weston?”
“It will be nice to have a normal routine once again. Been pretty confusing at times with having family around I’m not getting much work out of the men.”
He had expected Jenny to berate him about shirking his duties so her reaction was not one he expected.
Jenny placed her hand on one of his knees and patted it gently. “Mr Weston, I am beginning to believe that a break in the routine every now and then is not such a bad thing. It is nice to see the men with their families. Anyway, we’ll have them back to work after the big show in town this weekend. Only a few more days and things will be back to normal.”
Mr Weston was not sure what to say to that. Things on the Norman Station were anything but normal and Jenny’s next statement almost made him choke.
“Mr Weston what do you think of my impending marriage?” Jenny looked straight ahead and stroked the top of Gully’s head so that the old bushman could gather his thoughts.
Mr Weston swallowed hard before answering. He had seen the changes in Jenny but this was personal and he was not sure what he was about to say would get him fired. “Well Miss Jenny, I think it is a very good thing. Rick is a nice chap, little soft around the edges but we all can’t be bushies now can we?” When he got no reaction from Jenny he continued. “He loves you very much. I have seen the two of you together and I know you love him. It would have made your father very happy. It makes me very happy to see you with someone who is willing to do almost anything for you. It’s not very often you find someone like that Jenny.” He tried to lighten the mood with his last statement. “Why do you think I am still single after all these years?”
As Jenny turned to face him he saw a small tear escape down her cheek. “Do you really think Dad would be happy?”
Mr Weston could feel the lump in his throat “Jenny I love you like you were my own and I am very happy. How much happier do you think your own father would be?”
“You are such a sweet man Mr Weston. I knew I was right when I decided it was going to be you to give me away. I hope you don’t mind?”
Mr Weston beamed with pride. “Me!!!!!!.” Then his expression changed.
“What is it Mr Weston?”
“I won’t have to wear one of those silly penguin suites will I?”
Jenny gave him a good slap on the arm before laughing and kissing him on the cheek. “Do you seriously think I would make you wear something like that?”
Jenny left Mr Weston sitting stunned on the steps as she walked back to the house to put a call into the pub to let Garrick know it was safe to come home. For the first time in a long time she could actually tell herself she knew what it was like to be happy……Truly happy.

The stationary book tour come carnival had a definite impact on the town with a make shift campsite set up on its outskirts to accommodate those unable to find lodging with Ted or other towns folk. That left many, most arriving on the Friday afternoon. At Jenny’s request Gerard had spared no expense with generators brought in for those who had travelled by motor home, banks upon banks of portable facilities including toilets, showers, even a camp kitchen fully equipped in case any one should feel the need to cook. The portable pre fabricated cabins which had been trucked in where air conditioned. Many of the locals who had watched this small city seem to birth itself right out of the red earth were so impressed they had thought about moving in and renting out their own homes for the duration. Gerard had even supplied an extra demountable to the police department, hoping it would stay unused.
By Saturday morning the town was literally flooded with people and as the day wore on Ted was run off his feet being the only place in town allowed to sell alcohol and loving every minute of it.

Sergeant Russell was a little disappointed that he already had two people locked up and it wasn’t even lunch time. A couple of the hands from a far off Station had been caught trying their luck at being pick pockets. Not a smart career move as the intending victims had been plain clothed police officers brought in for the event. All in all there were ten extra police officers mingling with the locals for the weekend. Sergeant Russell smiled as he allowed a thought to scuttle through his mind. He could always let Jenny know what his two gaolbirds had been up to, let her deal out the justice; it would certainly be less paper work for him.

Garrick was happy to be capturing shots of the goings on. Gerard had hired him as the official photographer and again had spared no expense at shipping in anything Garrick needed including all the equipment he would need to develop his photos. Thanks to this equipment Garrick had a small sideline taking photos of people who wanted something to remember the occasion. He had promised to have the photos developed and ready the following day and could see that it was going to be a very long night indeed but like Ted he was happy. He looked down at his arm now free of the cast that had imprisoned it for so many weeks and although it had been free for a while it still ached. Garrick ran his hand up and down the arm from the wrist to his elbow watching the still darkened hairs surrender to his touch. Of all his injuries this had been the one thing that seemed to amuse him, the fact that when the cast was cut off he was left to look at an arm not coated with his usual fair hair but covered in dark almost black hairs. This change in his appearance had made him the butt of many jokes in the bunkhouse and even now after being out in the harsh, scorching outback weather there were still a few dark streaks running along his arm. Spotting Gerard, Garrick hoisted the camera back to his face returning to the job of the day and caught a few shots of the tall man before he wandered into the pub and snapped off a few shots of Ted which in turn earned him a free and welcome ice cold beer.
By mid morning the once quiet airstrip looked like a car park as planes had been landing since very early in the day harbouring celebrities and other folk within their steel stomachs.

By late afternoon Garrick was exhausted, children had eaten too much junk food and parents had spent too much money but no one seemed to mind. People were happy to see each other, catch up with old friends. The atmosphere was a buzz with joyous electricity much the same as Garrick remembered his own childhood trips to the local fair. He was still nourished by this happy feeling when he returned to the Station even knowing he had a lot of work still in front of him.
Jenny had elected not to go into town until the Sunday but Garrick was hoping to convince her to return that night and attend the dance that Gerard had organised. He had to go back to photograph but that would not take all night and he wanted to spend some time with Jenny in the presence of others. It was his way of showing the world he was really serious about marrying her, showing people the Jenny he had come to know and love, show them there was more to Jenny than the hard task master she had become to protect herself.

He found Jenny in the kitchen once again with the Butler’s baby in her arms, it was such a natural scene he could not help but take a photo. For all her hardness Garrick knew she would make an excellent mother. Jenny smiled up at him as she heard the now familiar sound of his camera in action.
“How many would you like?”
“How many what?”
“How many children would you like?”
Garrick looked from Jenny to the baby in her arms and then back to Jenny knowing in that very moment that he wanted to be a father. He had visions of a full house. Kissing Jenny gently on the top of her head he gave her his answer. “As many as you can handle, one, two, six , a dozen.”
Jenny laughed. “Are you sure about that? I would like maybe four. I think that would keep us busy don’t you?”
Garrick guided her to her feet, baby in arms and cuddled them both. “Four or forty four as long as I don’t have to change all the diapers.”
“Nappies. Here we call them nappies.”
Garrick squeezed them just a little bit more. He was going to be the happiest man alive. He had finally stopped running and found a home.

Garrick spent the rest of the afternoon developing photos, uploading them to his computer and sending those he thought best to Gerard. However the one he had taken of Jenny and the baby he kept for himself. He had just enough time to change and eat before heading back into town after one more try at convincing Jenny to join him but she had made her self official babysitter and quite content to remain at the Station promising to spend the whole day with him on Sunday.

Garrick stayed at the dance long enough to get the appropriate shots, if a fight broke out later he was sure there would be enough amateurs with cameras, phones and Ipods to capture anything. Gerard’s own team were wandering around with a video camera so he managed to slip out of town at a reasonable hour.

The sound of a baby woke him the next morning. Wandering down the hall into the room the baby had been given he found no tears but a babies giggles and a wonderful smile as he lent over the cot. Picking up the baby Garrick made his way downstairs to the kitchen where Jenny sat with the Butler’s. Everyone smiled at him as he entered the room with baby in his arms though Eric’s wife quickly got to her feet taking the baby from him.
“I’m sorry Mr Rowe did the baby wake you?”
“No, just talking to the teddy bear so I thought it might be time to come downstairs.”
Jenny smiled such a warm smile Garrick felt it enter his heart taking up residence never to be dislodged. She had captured him heart and soul and he had pledged his life to her like he was some kind of champion knight from a David Eddings novel.
Again Jenny smiled as she walked passed him. It was a smile that gave him second thoughts about going into town. “I have a few things to do before we go into town. Why don’t you have some breakfast? I should be ready by ten.” With that Jenny disappeared down the hall.
Garrick made himself comfortable at the table and chatted with the Butlers until they too decided it was time to get the day started.
Garrick spent the time he had organising and compiling his photos. As was his way he took some of the shots and placed them in his own private album and scanned his way through those that were already in the file. Garrick’s photos traced his life but those that started with his introduction to Jenny and the Norman Station would forever hold a special place for him. With the sound of Gully’s barking at the door he shut down the computer and headed for the main house.

The sight that invaded his senses as he got closer to the house was absolutely breath taking, so much so his steps faltered and he completely forgot he was holding his camera.
Jenny stood on the front verandah dressed in a simple but elegant pale apricot floral dress that flowed effortlessly to her ankles. The morning breeze gently playing with the long, delicate sleeves as it did with her hair. That too was different…Instead of just letting it hang Jenny had brushed the sides back and secured them behind her ears with small combs the same colour as her dress. She had finished the ensemble with a pair of flat soft shoes in a slightly lighter shade of apricot than her dress. No Hat, no work shirt, no work pants. She was utterly, perfectly radiant.
“My God Jenny, you look wonderful. How can I possibly take you into town looking like that? I think I should marry you before we leave.”
“Oh stop it Rick, it’s just a dress.” Jenny was not about to tell him it has taken her almost two days to decide what to wear. Nor was she about to tell him that at one point she had decided just to wear what she did everyday until Eric Butlers young wife had convinced her that the dress she was now wearing was perfect. “Besides, except for you and Jakala every other man for a thousand miles is too scared of me for you to have to worry.”
Garrick guided her from the steps, pulling her into a hug and swinging her around the yard as Gully barked and danced around them.

As expected Jenny turned more than a few heads when they arrived in town. Garrick watched for the moment when at first people did not recognise Jenny then all off a sudden their eyes would light up as they came to the realisation of who she was. Gerard’s reaction had been similar, walking towards Garrick and Jenny a little slower than normal giving himself time to adjust to the vision of beauty before him. How could this possibly be the same woman that had tormented him for months?
The children had not been so slow to realise that Jenny had arrived. As Gerard shook Garrick’s hand Jenny was mobbed by, it looked like the entire regions childrens population. Each one with a copy of her last book in hand and each one wanting her to sign it.
Jenny calmly sat on the small rounded fence that fronted the towns only school and began signing the books as they were thrust at her, talking to the children as she did. It was not long before Bobby and Darren where sat either side of her on the small fence. It was the first time that Gerard had seen Jenny’s effect on children. Garrick of course had seen her with Bobby and Darren but it still made him smile to see the conundrum that was Jenny being viewed by so many. Dr Bradley walked up behind the two men silently watching for a while before speaking. “I don’t know how she does it. She seems to feel safe and comfortable with the kids and they certainly adore her.”

The children did not wander off when their books had been signed as the three men had expected, instead making themselves comfortable on the ground around Jenny. They wanted a story and that is what Jenny delighted them with. However Gerard was horrified when Jenny began to reveal the beginnings of her next book. He should have known better. Jenny left the children wanting more and the story was far from over. As she finished Jenny noticed a young girl on the fringe of the small crowd, she was crying. “Darren, go and get that girl for me please.”
“Yes Miss Jenny.” Darren went to the child and gently picked her up, walking her back to Jenny.
As Jenny held open her arms the young girl sat on her lap. “What is the matter little one?”
Through sobs and sniffles the young girl answered. “I don’t have one.” Then she looked at the other children still protectively clasping their books.
Jenny sighed and smiled a little. “Oh I see and would you like one?”
The young girl nodded.
“Would you read it?”
The girl gave a negative shake of her head as Bobby jumped in to answer for her. “Miss Jenny she can’t read yet but she loves too look at books. I’ve seen her with her mum.”
Jenny smiled at the young girl. “How old are you sweetie?”
Shyly the girl answered. “Five.”
“Well then I think it is time you started to give reading lessons Bobby.”
Bobby was dumbfounded. “ Me Miss Jenny!!!”
“Yes you.” Jenny looked over to where Gerard was in conversation with Garrick and Dr Bradley. “You see that mountain of a man with the silly look on his face?”
At that point all the children turned to see who Jenny was referring to. “I want you to go over there and tell him I want a new book, I know he has a stash somewhere and tell him I want it in a hurry.”
Bobby was not about to argue with Miss Jenny so off he went ever grateful his friend Darren had tagged along for support. Trying to remember everything Jenny had said he delivered his message firstly by pulling on Gerard’s shirt sleeve to get his attention. Dr Bradley was about to question his own son but Bobby never gave him the chance. “Mister….. Miss Jenny said she wants one of her books right now. She knows you got a pile of em somewhere and I have to take it back to her so you better do what she says okay…..” By the time he finished the young boy was shaking but he had not backed down.
Gerard smiled as he knelt down in front of the two boys. “Well I guess if Miss Jenny wants it I better get it for her. I’ll be right back.”
Bobby nodded in silence, he didn’t like to talk to adults at the best of times and this one was huge. Miss Jenny of course was different.
On his return from the command centre Gerard found the boys in exactly the same spot as he had left them. Garrick and Dr Bradley smiling at them both. As soon as he handed the book to Bobby both boys shot off back to Jenny.
Gerard made a remark that echoed Garrick’s and the Doctors thoughts. “Now there is two young men that would do just about anything for that lady of yours Rick.”

Garrick did not think it was possible to love Jenny anymore than he already did but in those moments, watching her with the children it seemed that he could. Jakala’s caution about Jenny consuming him rang truer in that moment than ever before. He did not realise he was smiling at her until Jenny caught his gaze and replied with a soft sweet smile of her own. They were literally surrounded by hundreds of people yet it felt like they were the only two in the universe, the chaos and noise of the day slipping into some vortex as they drowned in each others eyes. At their own behest Garrick’s legs carried him towards her. As he reached her the young girl sitting on Jenny’s knee scrambled off to join the other children still sitting watching, waiting to see what was to happen. Garrick gently guided Jenny to her feet and without thinking of where they were pulled her to him and kissed her. His actions brought cheers from some, stunned silence from others and joyous claps from the children at their feet. It was these claps that brought Garrick back to his senses thinking that Jenny may not have approved of such a public show of his affection for her

It was Jenny’s turn to guide Garrick through the carpet of children at their feet and he followed obediently. It was not until they were standing in front of the pub that she stopped to face him. Garrick was stunned, instead of a smile there were tears. He grasped her other hand as they faced each other. Jenny what is it? I’m sorry if I ….”
Jenny stopped him by shaking her head. “No….I miss them so much Rick.”
He could see that she was trying so hard to keep her emotions under control. It had never dawned on him that Gerard’s carnival would open up old wounds and by Jenny’s reaction Garrick assumed that she had not thought of it either. Now all he wanted to do was get her away from the crowds, somewhere quiet. He pulled her into a hug and she hid her face on his chest, Garrick’s eyes darted furiously looking for a place of refuge when he saw Gerard notion to him and point to the tent where Jenny was expected to sign her newest book later on that afternoon. Garrick nodded his thanks and with Jenny tucked under his arm made his way passed the pub and into the tent.
Jenny sat behind the table, taking a deep breath she gave Garrick a weak smile. “I’m sorry Rick, I’ll be okay in a minute it just took me by surprise.”
Garrick was about to kneel beside her when Gerard entered with a concerned look on his face. “You okay Jenny, not ill?”
She shook her head but it was Garrick that answered. “Overwhelmed.”
Gerard frowned concerned, over the past months he had worried about many things but the thought of Jenny not being able to cope had never entered his mind. She was so strong, so tough, so sure of herself, so in control and he couldn’t believe what he was about to say. “Do we need to cancel the book signing?”
His words had the desired affect. Jenny stood, squared her shoulders, taking another deep breath. “Certainly not. I will not disappoint all those children.” She gave Garrick a sweet smile as she gently ran her hand down his arm. “Something to deal with at another time.” She looked back to Gerard. “You have plenty of books I take it Gerard?”
Gerard gave her a cheeky smile as he answered. “Yes Ma’am!!!!”
With the mood now lightened the trio talked about things in general until Gerard’s mobile phone chimed. Jenny and Garrick waited in silence until he had finished his conversation. “Seems I am need elsewhere; scone judging I think he said. See you back here just before three then?”
In unison Jenny and Garrick nodded and smiled as Gerard left to fulfil his judging duties. Garrick placed his arm around Jenny’s shoulder. “You think he knows what he is getting into?”
Jenny rested her head on his chest. “ As long as he places old Mrs Blackburn first he’ll be okay. If he doesn’t…..”
One more time Garrick moved Jenny so he was looking directly into her face. “Are you okay really?”
She sighed. “I would be lying if I said yes.” She could she the concern creeping onto his face. “But….but for now, yes I am okay. I know I need to deal with the grief Rick, I know that. You and Jakala have shown me that but.” Again she sighed. “I have to deal with things with my head not my heart right now. Do you understand? Once…”
Garrick stopped her by giving her a tender kiss on the lips. He looked deeply into her eyes so that she would know how he felt. “When it is time, we’ll deal with it together. You don’t have to do it alone Jenny.”

There quiet moment was shattered by an argument outside the tent. Jenny frowned pulling her self away from Garrick and before he could stop her she was outside. The next thing he heard was the chill, authority and menace of her voice as she shouted above the fight taking place. “Gregory John Waters!!!!!!”
As Garrick stepped from the tent it was as if the world had been put on pause, everyone fell silent. A tall man in his mid twenties had another smaller man held by the front of his shirt while his other arm was raised in the air, fist clenched ready to deliver a nasty blow. Jenny’s voice cut through Garrick’s heart, any hint of tenderness was gone. “Gregory!!!”
The young man that Jenny was glaring out turned to face her, slowing putting his hand down by his side and releasing his grip on his victim. There seemed to be at least five men included in the argument and now all were staring back at Jenny who gave them each a cold look before she returned her gaze to Gregory who could not hold eye contact dropping his own gaze to the ground speaking sheepishly. “Sorry Miss Jenny.”
Jenny was not impressed. It was obvious by the way all the men where trying to keep their balance they were drunk. She had no interest in what the fight had been about only that it had happened. “Not good enough Gregory. I suggest that you and your friends make yourselves available at the police station and explain to Sergeant Russell why you are there. I’m sure he will be happy enough to give you a place to recuperate.”
Gregory as well as his friends stared at her for just a few seconds but they all knew she meant business. “Now Mr Waters !!!!! or do I need to take matters into my own hands?”
Garrick saw the scared looks cross each mans face, two of them already turning and starting to walk through the silent crowd towards the police station. Jenny did not say another word, her presence was enough to make sure that Gregory and his two remaining friends did the same. Gregory had walked a few paces when he turned back. “I am sorry Miss Jenny.” Gregory looked even more dejected when Jenny did not reply. Garrick watched the men walk down the street until they were out of view. “You think you should check to make sure they get to the police station?”
Jenny’s voice was still a little cool as she answered. “They would not dare go anywhere else.”
Garrick knew she was right, in their shoes he would have made Sergeant Russell lock him up.

Several plain clothed police officers had watched the altercation between Jenny and Gregory Waters, they also kept an eye on the young men as they made their way to the police station very surprised that they were actually doing exactly what Jenny had told them to do. As they walked the length of the street one of the officers radioed Sergeant Russell who was waiting at the entrance to his station as Gregory and his friends arrived.
“Bit too much to drink Greg? You father will not be pleased.” Sergeant Russell looked past him. “Seems you’ve been in a bit of a punch up as well.”
Gregory tried to stand straight without much success swaying as he answered. “Yes sir. Miss Jenny says you gotta lock us up.”
Sergeant Russell tried not to smile. “Did she now. Maybe I’ll just pack you back off to your fathers.”
Sergeant Russell as well as the other police officers could see all the men beginning to get a little agitate as Gregory continued “Yes Sir, Sergeant Russell but first you gotta lock us up or Jenny will be after us; she’d skin us alive if we don’t do what she said.”
All five men jumped hearing Jenny’s voice, Gregory tried to shelter behind Sergeant Russell “Maybe I would.”
Sergeant Russell sighed. “Well off you go then you all know the way, you’ve been guests enough times in the past.”
None of the men needed a second invitation and bolted to the safety of the police station as Sergeant Russell shook his head. “You get fed up of running that Station Jenny you can have a job with the police. I’ve never had volunteers like that before.”
Silently the other police officers mingled back into the crowed, other onlookers slowly did the same. Garrick placed his arm around Jenny’s waist as he spoke to the sergeant. “How is Business?”
“Oh got a few sleeping off too much too soon and a couple that probably should be down at the hospital getting seen to but they can sulk for a little longer. Haven’t had to use the overflow cells but the day’s not over yet.” The Sergeant eyes showed concern and compassion as he spoke to Jenny. “How are you holding up Jenny?”
She surprised him by leaning in and giving him a gentle kiss on the cheek. “I am alright, a little unnerved at knowing that my every move maybe filmed but thank you for asking.”
He smiled and nodded at Garrick as he pulled her a little closer. “Well I better lock these fellas up. No good having them in a cell if it’s open. See you later.”
“Rick can we get away from the crowds for a while?”
Without questioning why Garrick simply took her hand, leading her down the street towards the hospital.
He gently guided Jenny around the side of the hospital and into a small courtyard used by the patients. There were a few single wooden chairs and several larger wooden benches bordering a patch of grass desperately trying to hold on to its colour and failing. Garrick sat them on one of the larger benches before pulling Jenny closer so she could nestle under his arm with her head resting on his chest. “This better?”
The noise of the main street drifted on the breeze but Jenny felt calmer away from everyone and everything. “I’d like to go home after the book signing.”
She sat up and looked Garrick in the eyes, they glowed love and tenderness. “You will have to stay, take photos of……”
Garrick stopped her by bending over and kissing her gently on the lips. “No, I’ll be coming home with you. Apart from photos of the book signing I have no more commitments today.” He smiled at her questioning look. “Gerard and I had a talk.” Once more he leaned in and kissed her. “I am coming home with you.” He hugged her back to his chest. “I know Jenny, I miss Jakala too.”
Jenny sighed knowing that Garrick understood, she did not think she could speak her thoughts without tears and he had understood her silence. For sometime that is how they sat, entwined in each others arms, in silence, no need for words.

Jenny had not realised that she had fallen asleep until she felt Garrick’s gentle nudge. “Time to go sleepy.”
Garrick begrudged having to wake her, not wanting to disturb the peace between them. Every time he thought of how much Jenny trusted him, he was overwhelmed. Their journey to this point had not been an easy one but now she trusted him enough to fall asleep in his arms, to let him be her guardian, her protector. The weight of such a responsibility was not lost on him and in those quiet moments while she rested in his arms he made a silent vow to never give her reason to doubt her decision.

Jenny stretched and smiled up at him, stretched a little more so that her lips could touch his. “Thank you.”
Once they parted Garrick returned her smile. “I like the way you say thank you but what for?”
Jenny pulled him to his feet. “For knowing who I am and still loving me.”
Garrick pulled her close. “I think I loved you even before I knew who you where and now I do how could I not love you. Never doubt my love Jenny, I will never give you reason to.”
Jenny pushed herself closer to him; that was a big promise to keep and she prayed that she would be worthy of such love.

As they turned the corner back into the main street the chaos of Gerard’s book tour assaulted all their senses. Garrick felt Jenny’s body tense against his own and once more he took her hand and squeezed it. Before he could reassure her with words she was surrounded by children all eager for her to sign her new book. They took hold of her hands beginning to drag her along the street, pleading and begging her not taking any notice of Garrick what so ever. Garrick smiled as he heard Jenny’s gentle laugh drift back to him, the children where like a tonic…..Jenny’s tonic.

The front flaps of the large tent had been pulled back and Gerard guided Jenny to a seat behind the desk, leaning in to whisper to her as she sat. “I’m sorry Jenny. I had no idea this many children would turn up. This is going to take a few hours.”
They both looked out to the large sea of eager young faces waiting to buy her new book and who should be at the front of the queue but Bobby and Darren. Jenny gave them a big smile. “You two front and centre.”
Both boys immediately ran to the desk. “Yes Miss Jenny?”
Your books are already done, they are back at the house all signed so I want you to do something for me.”
Both boys nodded.
“Keep an eye on the younger ones for me. I don’t want them getting pushed aside or bullied. You see anything like that you bring them straight to me you hear.”
Simultaneously the boys looked out into the crowed. Darren spoke their concerns. “What about the adults Miss. I mean.”
Jenny stood and beckoned the boys to stand at her side. Gerard stood back making room and wondering what Jenny was up to. “Ladies and gentleman thank you for coming, thank you for allowing your children to attend. It seems the numbers are somewhat larger than Mr Tinnion expected and I shall be here for sometime. If you wish to continue to enjoy the carnival and return later I assure you no child will leave today without a signed book.” Jenny diverted her gaze to the mass of children who seemed to be parentless. “Children, I expect you to be on your best behaviour.”
Gerard had to smile as he heard the small murmur rise from the children as they agreed while Jenny continued. “I expect you to look after each other, no pushing, no fighting, no trying to get in front. I will be sending Bobby and Darren here to keep an eye on you. I don’t want any bad reports.”
Again a murmur as the children all spoke her name “Yes Miss Jenny”.
Jenny smiled. “Now it is going to be a long afternoon so all of you sit down until you are called by these nice people.”
Without any further persuasion every child in the crowd sat down. Garrick was amazed at the effect that Jenny had on them all. He watched as the children settled and indeed helped each other by shuffling along so others could sit, some of the older children sitting younger ones on their laps. He took some candid shots then turned his camera back to Jenny taking a few more shots as she spoke. “Very good. Now remember if you want to leave and come back later you can.”
Not a single child moved all their eyes glued to Jenny.
Jenny put her arms around the shoulders of Bobby and Darren as she looked out to the eager audience. “Just walk through them boys. Keep and eye on them and back to me if there are any problems okay.”
They answered together. “Yes Miss Jenny.”
Garrick got a perfect shot as Jenny sat back down and the boys both kissed her on the opposite cheeks at the same time before sprinting off.
“Mr Tinnion.”
A little shocked to hear Jenny use his last name as she had been calling him Gerard for months he stepped closer to her. “Yes Jenny?”
“I appreciate the comfort of the portable air-conditioning Gerard but there are a lot of children in this tent.”
Gerard smiled and nodded. “And you would like me to make sure they stay comfortable.”
“As well as those children that are waiting outside. Thank You Gerard.”
As Gerard walked through the sitting children to the tent exit to see about another air-conditioning unit and drinks for the children he witnessed a new phenomenon. Gerard had grown used to the effect that his size had on the children in his life, usually seeing fear in their eyes but this day all the children sitting in the tent watch him as if they were one creature with a thousand eyes silently scanning his every move. Jenny may have taken her strength from the children and it seemed to Gerard the children also found their strength when they were around her. For some reason is unnerved him. She may not know it but Jenny had an army ready to do anything for her. Even though he had stepped out into the afternoon sun a shiver ran down his spine. In that moment Gerard understood, really understood Jenny’s power. If she had commanded Gerard knew his size would not save him from a charge of so many children. Now he understood her speech to them. As he made his way to the catering truck scenes from William Golding’s Lord of the Flies flashed through his mind.

As well as Bobby and Darren walking through the crowd of children several nurses kept an eagle eye on the proceedings stationed either side of the entrance to the tent. Two other nurses were surveying the scene on the outside where a large crowed waited protected from the day’s heat by the shade of a temporary gazebo. Inside the tent was air conditioned, outside the nurses had no such luxury and were quietly pleased when Gerard returned with several of his minions to hand out water and ice blocks. Once he was satisfied that everyone waiting on the outside had been offered drinks he ordered the men to following him into the tent. It took several trips back and forth to the Ute they had parked outside but they managed to give every child a drink and an ice block. Garrick took photos as children received their small gifts with silent smiles and a verbal thank you. The men had started to hand things out from the back but this did not mean those children that where ready to leave missed out. After having their book signed by Jenny they received a drink and ice block as they left, again surprising the adults with their excellent behaviour. As Gerard wandered through the town it appeared as though many of the children waited until being reunited with their parents before allowing their excitement and exuberance to engulf them. He smiled at each new outburst of childish joy he heard caught by the breeze.

Back in the tent however it seemed to Garrick that for every child that left two more arrived. It would be almost three hours before the last child left clutching a newly signed book to his chest and he an Jenny were alone once more. Garrick let his camera hang from his neck as he rubbed his arm and wondered if he would carry the invisible scar for the rest of his life.
Standing and stretching Jenny smiled at him looking no worse for wear; tenderly she ran her hand down his arm. “It still hurts?”
Garrick smiled. “Just aches now and then…It will be fine.” He looked down to his camera. “As much as I would like to go back to the station with you I guess I still have some work to do. You want to be my TA?”
Jenny smiled up at him before gently brushing her lips over his. “That sounds lovely but there are a couple of children down at the hospital. I’d like to go and see. Would you mind?”
Garrick shook his head. “Sounds like a great photo op to me. Okay if I tag along?”
Jenny pushed his camera to the side as she pressed her body against his, once again kissing him but this time it was a kiss that made his knees buckle and his heart race. Just when Garrick thought he would not be able to contain himself Jenny broke their contact. He took a deep breath wanting a distraction, any distraction from the fire of passion that Jenny had ignited in him, a fire that threaten to consume him. Grabbing her hand he practically pulled her towards the exit of the tent. “Come on then a few shots at the hospital and then time to go home.”
Jenny smiled as he dragged her along the street, she loved the way the word ‘home’ rolled off his tongue, a soft, velvet resonance, its melodious tune engulfing her heart making her feel safe. She looked down at the hand clasping hers; Safe and loved.
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PostSubject: chapter 23   Tue Apr 26, 2011 4:24 am

Chapter 23
It had been several months since Gerard Tinnion’s assault on the town and except for the fresh coat of paint the buildings has received there was no trace of what had engulfed the town that weekend. Most people passing through did just that, passed through without giving the town a second thought. Some stopped to fill up with petrol, food and drink, maybe a cold beer smilingly served by Ted. Curiosity had not made them stop, need had and it was a need to get to wherever they were going that kept them moving. Just the way the locals liked it. Now, however they seemed to be bonded together just a little stronger with the small secret they all shared. The secret of what had happened in their town a few short months ago and the realisation that when their secret was televised throughout the country curiosity may very well give people a reason to stop a little longer in the future. A topic frequently discussed over a beer at the pub.

On the Norman Station Mr Weston was glad that things were back to normal, families dispatched in every direction and the men had finally settled back in to a routine. Jenny and the Station were the other topic up for discussion more often than not. If people had thought the book tour would have changed Jenny’s mind about visiting town they were mistaken. She felt no need to change her ways, they worked well, had worked well and would continue to work well. It was only those close to her that were privy to the small changes she had allowed. The small smile that creased her face when she thought of Garrick, the way she let her hands linger on his shoulder whenever she walked passed him or the new shine in her eyes that contradicted her brooding strength. Something she added to her arsenal of tactics when dealing with others who made the mistake of under estimating her.
As for Garrick, he had well and truly stopped running in awe of the fact that it had taken a place like the Norman Station and a person such as Jenny to give him the reasons to stop running. Until he had come up against the challenge that was Jenny, seen his own life through her he had not been willing to confront his own fears. With Jenny he found he had no other choice. He realised that if he wanted her to be honest with him he needed to be honest with her but this firstly meant he needed to be honest, brutally honest with himself. The plane crash, his subsequent rehabilitation, the simple harshness of the land he now found himself in gave him no other choice but to strip back the layers that had protected him for so long and look at Garrick Rowe in all his raw agony. This journey, although painful had brought with it some unsuspected surprises. Not only did he come to understand himself and become comfortable with who he was he also found that he understood Jenny at a much deeper level and no longer fought with the question of why he loved her and had loved her almost from their first meeting. He may not understand the hold Jenny had over him but he now understood that it did not matter. He loved her and wanted to spend the rest of his life with her. He also knew that meant giving up the life he had known before. Garrick Rowe’s past, his foundation may have been laid in America but his future, his life with Jenny spread out before him in the vast expanse of outback that she called home. That he now called home.
Garrick smiled and sighed as he stood on the top step of the front verandah looking out to the bunkhouse now devoid of life as Jenny quietly walked up behind him, squeezing his shoulder gently before she gave him a tender kiss on the cheek as she came to stand by his side. “You’ll be back soon enough. I am sure Gerard is grateful you agreed to meet him in Brisbane.” Jenny gave him a cheeky smile and he pulled her close.
“I promise to make sure he does not lead me astray.”
Jenny’s honey coated laugh took flight on the simminering summer breeze and Garrick’s heart soared. He would have been content to stay on the Station and never leave but Gerard Tinnion had seconded him as his principal photographer on several projects and Garrick had found himself leaving the Station more than he had expected due to work commitments and each time he left he could feel Jenny’s pull on his soul until he returned and each time he wondered if this was how Jakala had felt while he was away from her. It was as if Jenny had birthed in him a primal need to return to her, as if he was not complete without her. Garrick pulled himself back to the present at the sound of Jenny’s voice. “Don’t forget you have a wedding to plan when you get home.”
It was Garrick’s turned to laugh. “Remind me again how I happened to volunteer for such a task after all isn’t planning a wedding a no go zone for us mere males?”
Jenny nestled her head just a little more onto his chest. “Well you were the one that said you wanted more than a preacher and a witness.”
Garrick hugged her closer as he saw the tell tale swirl of dirt indicating his ride to town was not far away. “Me and my big mouth.”
Gully appeared from some hiding place and bounded to the gate. Dr Bradley had offered to take Garrick back into town to catch his flight to Brisbane after he dropped Darren and Bobby at the Station for their weekend with Jenny. The dog yelped and barked at the car as it approached but they were not warning barks, they were sounds of joy and excitement. Gully was always happy with the arrival of his two young playmates. It usually meant a good time was to be had by all.
Jenny and Garrick waited for Dr Bradley to pull up in front of the house but it seemed that the car had barely stopped moving before both boys had sprinted up the steps to encase Jenny in a twin hug of affection. Garrick was given as smile and a quick nod from both boys before they, Gully and Jenny disappeared into the house, leaving Garrick to give the doctor a handshake of acknowledgement. “Morning Doc. Thanks for the lift into town.” He looked back over his shoulder as they both heard the boys laughter drifted down the hall. “I know if Jenny had taken me the boys would have been a little disappointed.”
Dr Bradley joined Garrick on the top step. “Seems some things never change.” He sighed before making his next statement. “You good to go? The plane was landing as we left town.”
Once more Garrick looked down the hall. “I guess, Just give me a minute.”
By the time Garrick got to the kitchen the boys and Gully had disappeared out the back door leaving Jenny standing by the window. Garrick knew where her eyes would be fixed…… on the hill; though these days the sight did not seem to haunt her as much as it once had. As Garrick approached she turned and pulled him into a hug wrapping her arms around his neck and pushing her lips onto his. Her kiss filled with such sensual power it made Garrick weak at the knees. In return his own kiss was as equally consuming the two soul mates only pulling apart with the need to breathe. “Jen you keep that up and I’ll never get out of here.”
Jenny moved in to kiss him once more but Garrick knew if he let her the good doctor would be waiting much longer than expected and the plane may very well leave without him so he stopped her by placing his finger gently on her lips. “I have to go, earn my keep.”
Jenny sighed just a little “I know but don’t you let Gerard talk you into any extravagant wedding ideas. Simple is what I would like Mr Rowe.”
Garrick pulled her into a hug resting his chin on her head. “I’ve changed my mind, I just want a preachers and a witness. We can get married tomorrow.”
Jenny pushed him back so she could see his face. “As much as I would love to do the same I think your mother would be shattered. Besides I already asked Jeff to give me away.”
“I know you are right. You still happy for us to have the wedding here at the Station?”
Jenny gave him a quizzical look. “Yes……Why? What plan have you started brewing and do I need to be worried? Maybe I should take over the organisation.”
“No, no brewing but you know Gerard is going to try and get you to make the trip to the city. I just want to make sure I am armed with the right ammunition when the time comes.”
“Well you can tell him from me to get any ideas like that out of his head or I will un-invite him.”
Once more Garrick laughed and hugged her. “I love you Miss Norman.”
“I love you Mr Rowe.”
There was no need for any more words between them.

The doctor probed Garrick for any information on the up coming wedding as they drove back to town in the hopes that he would have a morsel to feed Ted at the pub that would earn him a free beer.
Garrick shrugged his shoulders saying there was not much to tell but he let the doctor into how the planning was going so far and it seemed he had not done very much at all. This trip was two fold, business and to get some help from Gerard. He wanted to make the day a special one for Jenny but like she had said not too fancy. Garrick wanted it to be simple but elegant, something that would appeal to Jenny, yet something she would remember for the rest of her life and something that would show her just how much he did love her.
Dr Bradley brought up the subject of the brides dress and Garrick just shrugged his shoulders. It was the one thing that she was going to look after which had surprised him and by the look on the doctors face had surprised him as well. He laughed. “I’d half expect her to turn up in her work clothes until I saw her in town. Rick I can’t remember the last time I saw Jenny in a dress until that day. She looked divine.”
Garrick just nodded though he still had a little doubt in the back of his mind that Jenny would do just that on the day if she thought she needed to.
“You heard from Jakala?”
Garrick shook his head. “He’s in Sydney I know that but I have the feeling he wont be coming back for the wedding.”
This piece of information had so stunned the doctor that the car started to slow down. “Surely he would come back Rick, for you, for Jenny.”
Garrick began to shake his head. “No…. It was how he left and something that Jenny said. I don’t think they expect to see each other for a long time. Don’t ask me how they know, I have no idea and I am sure that is why he gave us those horses when he did. Jenny told me he is with her in spirit and that is all she needs. She can feel him and she does not seem to be upset that he will not be here.”
“But you are still going to try and find him?”
Garrick nodded. “Yes.”
He knew Jakala was teaching in Sydney, he knew which university. He was flying to Brisbane to meet up with Gerard Tinnion but what he had not told Jenny was that both men were then continuing on to Sydney to have a face to face with Jakala. Plead with him to come back for the wedding. Garrick had even thought about flying Jenny and Mr Weston to Sydney for the ceremony if there was some reason why Jakala could not leave but his gut told him that was not one of his options. He wanted to tell the doctor his plan but besides Gerard no one else knew and he felt it best to keep it that way. If he succeeded well enough……If he did not???? He was still brooding when they arrived at the airstrip. It was not the doctors nudged that brought him out of his thoughts but the surprise that waited for him beside the plane, Gerard Tinnion.
The doctor looked to Garrick for an explanation. “Did you know?”
Garrick only shook his head as he unfurled himself from the car. As the two men met they shook hands. “Jenny gets wind that you are here she’ll never let either one of us leave.”
Gerard laughed. “Why do you think I stayed with the plane.”
“Is there a problem?”
“No just thought it made more sense to fly straight to Sydney rather than have to stop off in Brisbane when you really don’t need to. We can talk while we fly. Jenny still has no idea?”
Again Garrick shook his head. “No one else does either.”
Both men walked back to the waiting car and Gerard shook the doctor’s hand. “You keeping everyone healthy doc?”
“Best I can. Nice to see you again Gerard. I take it that Jenny has no idea you were going to drop in?” The doctor could see the frown growing on both their faces. “It’s ok. She wont hear it from me.” The doctor stole a quick look in the direction of the town. “Or anyone else. Your secret is safe.”
Gerard patted the doctor on the back a little too hard while Garrick got his bag from the car. “See you in a week Doc.”

Garrick sat in cockpit with Gerard and although he had been on several flights, done several trips, he had never been this close to the pilot since that fearful day of the plane crash. His first plane trip had been a little daunting as he had not realised he would need to deal with the fact that he was flying again. He had just assumed that because he had been up in the air with Mr Weston that he had conquered any doubts so the knot that was growing in his stomach surprised him. His apprehension must have been showing as Gerard made a comment. “You ok Rick. Look like you’ve seen a ghost.”
“Just thought I had dealt with all the nerves.”
“So what’s got you rattled? You’ve been up in the air since the …..” He didn’t finish his sentence not wanting to add to Garrick’s obvious stress.
“Yeah, I know and trust me being in a chopper looking down at the ground screaming past underneath you is a bit unsettling at first. That’s why I thought I was over all this.”
“You want to go sit back in the cabin?”
Garrick shook his head. “No. If I can get a woman like Jenny to marry me I can get over a fear like this.”
Gerard was glad that his friend could make a joke and hope that it would help. “Still if you need to.”
Again Garrick nodded and both men were silent for a while. Gerard keeping a watchful eye on his friend as he worked his way through this new dark reality.
Garrick’s body ached with the tension as he tried to find a way to overcome his unforseen dilemma and he actually smiled when he found the solution. It was Jenny…….. He closed his eyes and concentrated on her image listening as her sweet voice tenderly guided him through his anxiety. He listened as she took him on a journey, showing him that he was not alone, she was there with him, and he was safe. Without knowing Garrick had allowed Jenny to relax him so much he had fallen asleep.
Gerard had smiled a few times at his sleeping friend when he realised what had happened and he had not simply fainted. Garrick slept through the decent and it was not until the wheels touched down that he woke. Again Gerard smiled a him. “That must have been some dream Rick.”
Garrick looked at his friend a little confused.
“We’ve landed. We’re here. How ever you figured out to conquer your fear it seemed to work, you’ve been asleep for the past hour.”
Garrick uttered one word as he straightened himself in his seat. “Jenny.”
“She’s some awesome woman.”

While the two men where flying south Jenny, the two boys and Gully had headed out to their favourite spot for the rest of the day, picnic basket in hand, imaginations in peak condition and Jenny with a story to tell. Little did the boys know but she was going to launch her newest story on them, see how they liked it before she committed to writing it. After all they had been the inspiration for her newest adventure.
While they munched their way through the food Jenny unfolded the adventure that held them captive from the very beginning. When they realised where it was going both boys yelled in delight. Bobby forgetting his food for a moment and giving her a hug. “You’re writing a spy story for us!!!!! Are we in it Miss Jenny?!!!”
Jenny smiled at both boys, Darren still had a mouth full of chicken, chewing and swallowing as fast as he could so he could talk. “That would be awesome Miss Jenny. What are the characters? Are we spies? Do we catch the spies?”
Jenny could do nothing but laugh. “Boys, you’ll have to wait to find out. So you think the other kids will like the story as much as you two?”
Both boys now with full mouths nodded in earnest and Jenny laughed again.
So much had happened in her life since Garrick had arrived, so much had changed, yet her relationship with her two young friends had weathered the storms for which she was grateful. In a way she was glad that as young as they were they had understood who she was through it all and in their innocents had found the real Jenny although hidden they had found her and never let go. So she allowed a little of her own excitement to escape waiting to see their reaction to what she was about to ask them. “Okay boys before we go on with the story I have something I need to ask you.”
Knowing Jenny as they did the boys gave her their full attention.
“You know that Garrick and I are to be married?”
Each boy nodded in silence.
“Well I was wondering if you would do me the honour of being page boys on the day?”
The two boys looked at each other in silence then looked to Jenny still silent which was not what she had expected when Darren spoke a little nervously. “Miss Jenny, exactly what would we have to do? We wouldn’t have to wear any of those fancy clothes you see on TV weddings would we?”
Jenny’s laugh put them both at easy before she spoke. “No….. but I would like you to be ring bearers, look after the rings for us, hand them to Garrick and I when the preacher tells you to. Would you do that for us?”
Their beaming faces warmed Jenny all over just before they crash tackled her into a hug with Gully jumping around the giggling human mound of happiness.
Jenny was surprised at the boys interest in the wedding leaving the spy story discarded wanting to know all the gory details of her up coming nuptials. As she described what little she could for the first time she felt her own excitement about her wedding bubble to the surface overtaking her anxiety. However riding with the excitement came a little doubt. Had she been wrong to let Garrick plan their wedding? Maybe she should have done the traditional thing and been planning it the whole time. The boys sensing the change in her mood nudged her for an explanation.
Bobby sat with his back straight against the tree; his legs folded in front of him and took a deep breath. “No Miss Jenny, you let Garrick sort it all out.”
Jenny gave him an amused look as he continued. “My cousin Amber got married last year. Mum reckons it was the most stressful six months for everyone involved and almost caused a few bust ups before they even got to the church. My Aunt Edith, Ambers mum came to stay with us for a few days she was so stressed.”
Jenny smiled. “So you think I should just turn up on the day and say I do?”
Both boys nodded and Jenny let her laugh fly in the breeze. She was still a little concerned that the whole thing was in someone else’s control but then again it was Garrick, she trusted him with her heart, she could trust him with their wedding.

Garrick and Gerard stood outside the building of animal science watching students file out, waiting for Jakala to do the same. Both men stood a little straighter as they saw him approach and for his part Jakala gave them a beaming smile. “Rick, Mr Tinnion it is so good to see you. How is life back home?”
Garrick answered as he shook Jakala’s hand. “Well my friend. How is the teaching going?”
Jakala gave them a smile and a sigh. “You know the young, think they have all the answers and get a little upset to realise they do not.”
All three men laughed when Jakala looked to Garrick. “You have made Jenny very happy Rick I am grateful.”
“Then please come home for the wedding. It would mean so much……to both of us. Stand with me on the day.”
“Don’t you have family you would rather give the honour to?”
“You are family Jakala, Jenny’s and mine.”
As much as Jakala wanted to be there for them both he was not sure it was the right thing to do. He did not want to be the reason for Jenny to second guess her decision to marry Garrick. “Thank you for asking me Rick but ….” Garrick put up his hand to stop Jakala from finishing his sentence. “At least think about it …Please.”
Gerard was starting to feel a little uncomfortable. “So Jakala do you have time to join two friends for a drink?”
“Sadly I have several more lectures to give. Dinner would be better.”
He gave Garrick a cautious look.and Gerard nudged Garrick. “Yep we are here for a few days. The mighty wedding planner here has a few details he needs to iron out before the big day.”
Jakala laughed, pulling his wallet out of his pockets and handing ten dollars to a puzzled Garrick. “Then I owe Jenny ten dollars. She always said if she ever got married she’d have someone else organise the whole thing and she would just turn up on the day.” Again he laughed. “I never thought it would be the groom.”
Garrick held the ten dollars up trying to hide his anxiety. “I’ll put this towards the cake shall I?”
A serious mask crept over Jakala’s face. “You do know what she wants don’t you Rick?”
Garrick nodded. “No fuss, just family and friends but I want to make it special for her as well. I have asked Mrs Ellis to make the wedding cake.”
At the sound of this news Gerard frowned, one of the reason they were in Sydney was to look at cakes but Jakala smiled once more. “Excellent Rick, you have been paying attention. Can I ask what kind of cake or is that a secret.”
Garrick looked to Gerard. “From Jenny yes but I have asked Mrs Ellis to make the vanilla sponge cake with the passionfruit icing that Jenny likes.”
Jakala Nodded. “Good choice. Jenny will love it.”
The topic of the three men’s conversation had made more then a few heads turn and once more Gerard tried to steer them on to other subjects. “So Jakala, Dinner, what time and where?”
“About seven would be good. Where are you staying?”
Gerard told him and they arranged to have dinner at the hotel later that night. Jakala gave them a parting wave as he headed back into the building and the two men walked back the car park and Gerard’s company car, Garrick wishing he had not left his camera back at the hotel.
“So Rick when were you going to tell me about the cake?”
“Don’t you start. I was getting to that, besides there is enough on my list to keep you busy.” With that it was Garrick’s turn to pull out his wallet and produce a piece of paper with said list written on it.
As he handed the paper to Gerard and he read it he whistled. “I thought you said Jenny wanted simple?”
“Yes she does and you are just the man to turn that list into a simple, elegant, no fuss wedding right?” When Gerard did not reply straight away Garrick asked again feeling just a little nervous at the fact that he had bitten off a little bit more than he could chew. “Right??!”
Gerard slapped him on the back before putting the list in his pocket. “No worries at all mate, no worries at all.”
For Gerard it was simple, he had a team behind him that could create the most extravagant over the top event anyone could think of and Gerard knew he could trust them to deliver a simple but elegant wedding with the same eye for detail and perfection. He did also know that to do it he would need to for warn a few of his suppliers. His reason for being in Sydney. However it seemed the wedding cake was to be a local creation in the capable hands of one Mrs Ellis. Gerard had been a little worried to hear this news until Jakala placed his seal of approval on the choice. After all he knew Jenny better than anyone.

Garrick and Gerard did visit a few of his suppliers that afternoon to put the personal touch to things and by the time they arrived back at the hotel to meet Jakala for dinner Garrick’s lists was beginning to become a reality. Wedding invitations designed and approved, place and table settings approved, Suits for Garrick, Mr Weston and Jakala ordered. However when it came to the entertainment that is where things stalled. Gerard insisted that he wanted to do something as a gift for them and once again Garrick got nervous. “I promise Rick, elegant, tasteful. No need to worry.”

Jenny sat quietly at her desk now that Bobby and Darren where sleeping peacefully a floor above her and she began on her newest book. She was ahead of her deadline for Gerard by two books and was looking forward to being able to write a book dedicated to her two young friends. Their enthusiasm for her book as well as her wedding had somehow birthed a new enjoyment in her for writing. Jenny sat back in her chair thinking about her life, about Garrick and small tear escaped, running silently down her face when she thought of Jakala. As happy as she was his absence left a small ache in her heart. They had always been connected to each other, felt each other even when they were apart, even now, knowing how far away he was she could sense him with her. It helped but she still ached. Finally able to shake the feeling she got down to the task at hand and did several hours of writing before going to bed.

Over dinner Jakala aired his reasons for his apprehension about attending the wedding. Gerard knew that Jenny and Jakala’s friendship was a strong bond but as he listened to Garrick and Jakala discuss why he did not want to go to the wedding he became acutely aware of the underlying relationship between the three of them…. Jenny, Garrick and Jakala. Aware that Garrick was now trying to convince the only other person Jenny truly trusted, truly loved to his wedding. He wasn’t sure he could have done the same.
Garrick’s voice invaded his thoughts. “Jakala, you know Jenny better than anyone then tell me that she would have agreed to marry me if she was not totally sure. She would not have let things go this far if she was not sure.” Garrick sighed. “Jakala I know how you feel about Jenny. I know that if things were different.” Jakala went to stop him but he kept going. “You asked me to step up and do what you have not been allowed to do. Jakala I know how you feel because that is how I feel about her. Jenny knows that, she knows you and she wants you at her wedding. I want you there. Jakala If you don’t want to be there because it is too much I understand but don’t stay away because of me or Jenny.”
There was an intense silence while Gerard and Garrick waited for Jakala’s answer. “If you are sure Rick.”
Garrick nodded. “I am.”
“Then I shall be there.”
Garrick stretched his arm across the table to shake Jakala’s hand. “Thank you. I can go back knowing Jenny will be very happy.”
Gerard Tinnion had brokered some intense negotiations in his life but what had just transpired had him looking for the waiter so he could order a stiff drink.
Several hours later Gerard and Garrick said goodbye to Jakala not knowing they would never see him again.
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PostSubject: chapter 24   Thu Jul 28, 2011 6:00 am

Chapter 24
Over the ensuing weeks there was a procession of locals to the Norman Station and Jenny began to wonder if putting her wedding under Garrick’s charge and ultimately into Gerard’s hands had been such a good idea. The Pastor had been out twice, Ted had managed to pry himself away from his pub, over the moon at being asked to be involved. However the day that Gerard had organised for the stylist to measure the men and boys for their suits, not tuxedos…suits was an exciting, exasperating and exhausting ordeal depending on the role you played.
Jenny was quietly amused as she watched the three stylists come to terms with the fact that they were no longer in the city, neither had they heeded Gerard’s warnings about suitable attire for their assignment. Two men and one female stood in the middle of Jenny’s lounge room a total contrast to their surroundings, extreme and flamboyant.
Alex, who seemed to be the one in charge made Jenny laugh, Garrick nervous and Mr Weston shudder. His language was flowery; his movements exaggerated and more than once he had Darren and Bobby in fits of uncontrollable giggles with his effeminate gestures. Jenny seeming to be the only one with enough authority to get them to stand still long enough to get measured. Joseph or Jo Jo as Alex called him was just a little more subdued than his boss but not by much. Both men were tall and slender, both sporting pale complexions. Though where Alex’s hair was dark, straight and short, Joseph’s was blonde with a slight wave long enough to dance on his shoulders. Before their assignment was over his blonde locks would be tide back with a bright red ribbon much to the amusement of Bobby and Darren. The trio rounded off by the only female Alley or Alley Cat or just Cat, almost as tall as Joseph and Alex and the only one of the three that did not seem to be afraid of the sun having a golden tan a vast contrast to the men’s pallid tones. The fact that Joseph and Alley were in similar clothes helped with the gender confusion garnering stares from Alex and more giggles from the boys.

Once the trio were happy they had done all they could for the groom to be Garrick was free to escape their clutches finding Jenny sitting on the front verandah, giving her a gentle kiss on the cheek as he sat down beside her. “I don’t think Jeff is too happy he was muttering something about penguins.”
Jenny laughed. “Gerard sure knows how to stir things up around here.” The look in her eyes as she stared at him made Garrick’s breath catch in his throat. It never ceased to amaze him that she could paralyse him with just a look, so much so he almost did not hear what she said next. “Thank you.”
“You don’t mind. It just seemed easier this way….captive audience so to speak.”
Just then they heard Mr Weston’s not so pleased voice echo down the hall followed by youthful giggles before Alex rushed past them and out into the yard in a flourish of waving arms and words explaining that he could not work in such conditions. Jenny and Garrick stood wondering what was to come next when Alex went silent, suddenly bounding back up the steps when he realised he was in the sun. It took all Garrick had to hold back his laugh. All Jenny did was stand in front of Alex, catch him in her gaze and utter two words, but in such a way that no one could mistake the meaning behind them. “You done?”
Garrick was sure he saw Alex shiver before he nodded his head and silently headed back into the house. As he took her hand he felt the tell tale tension leave her body. She had been ready to take control, full control. “How about we go for a ride?”
Jenny smiled. “Bobby and Darren wont be happy to be left behind.”
Garrick lent in and kissed her. “Next time. This time just you and me.” At these words Garrick looked down to find that Gully had nudged his leg. “Yes you to mate.”
Jenny laughed once more and pulled Garrick closer pushing her lips onto his leaving him in no doubt as to how much she loved him.

Mr Weston and the boys managed to escape the claws of the stylist together. The old bushie heading for the bunkhouse, Bobby and Darren once they realised that Garrick and Jenny were not around saddled their own horses and went in search a little disappointed to get to their favourite spot to find it deserted.
Jenny and Garrick had gone to the ridge where Jakala and Jenny used to meet. The couple sat in silence for a long time, no need of words. Garrick cradled Jenny under his arms content to feel the warmth of her body travel along his own. Content in knowing that soon the woman that sat by him this day would soon be his wife.
He sighed as if breathing in his future.
“You okay Rick?”
“Yeah…Just wanting the day to be here already.”
Jenny smiled cheekily without looking at him knowing what she was about to say would get under his skin. “You know we could always…”
She never got to finish as Garrick sat up straight pulling her with him. “No way! As much as I want you to be my wife we are not eloping.”
Jenny chuckled and Garrick knew he’d been had. “Jenny!!!!”
Before Garrick could protest anymore she covered his mouth with her own feeling the groan vibrating in his chest and his arms around her body, exactly where they should be. Once their lips parted it was Jenny’s turn to sigh. “I guess we better head back before it gets dark.”
“Afraid of the mess Bobby will have your kitchen in?”
“Bobby leave a mess…No, but Darren eat everything he cooks before we get home Yes.”
Garrick laughed and it lightened Jenny’s spirit as it always did. It had taken her some time to realise why… She could be her self with Garrick, she did not have to protect herself, guard herself while she was with him. The only other person who had allowed her that freedom had been Jakala. Some how it was different with Garrick, like Jakala she felt like part of him, loved them both, would die for either. The only why she could explain these feeling to herself…To understand them was to separate them. Her connection to Jakala was like been connected to the earth. Her connection to Garrick was like being connected to the sky…. He made her feel like she could fly, he gave her a freedom she had never felt before. She really did feel like she could just stretch her arms and fly when she was with him.
As they road back to the station Garrick was a little startled to see her do just that. “What are you doing?”
He could only smile at her answer “Flying.”

It was just on dusk as Jenny and Garrick returned to the house, Gully making his usual dash to have a drink out of the birdbath before Jenny could shout at him then scampered around the side of the house to the kitchen door barking playfully as the two young boys greeted him. By the time Jenny and Garrick had settled their horses Gully had been fed and the kitchen table had been set.
Bobby had made spaghetti bolognaise more for the fact that Darren had pestered him to do so than any other reason with a nice tossed salad. As they entered the kitchen Jenny commended Bobby on his exploits then turned her attention to Darren as Garrick headed for the kitchen cupboard. “And how many biscuits are left in the barrel?”
Darren looked sheepish as he answered. “A few.”
Just then Garrick returned with the said barrel in one hand, its lid in the other and a knowing smile on his face. “A few is right. Correct me if I am wrong but wasn’t this full last night?”
Darren bit his bottom lip looking at Jenny to see if he was going to be the recipient of a reprimand but it was Bobby’s voice that echoed around the kitchen. “I told him he would spoil his dinner.”
Darren jumped to his own defence. “No I haven’t. I’m still hungry. Besides we didn’t know when you would be home Miss Jenny and I……” His voice trailed off as Jenny placed her hands on his shoulders.
“Well we are here now so let’s eat.” She looked back at Garrick still holding the biscuit barrel. “Tell me he at least left me one?”
Garrick and Darren answered together “Yes” and Darren continued. “I did, your favourite, two of them.”
Jenny laughed. “Oh well that makes everything alright then.”
Everyone laughed as they sat down to one of Bobbies fine meals.
Jenny smiled to herself as Garrick helped himself to a good portion of bolognaise without a thought as to who had cooked it. It had taken Garrick a little while to come to terms with the fact that Bobby was such a good cook at such a tender age. His memories of his own cooking exploits at the same age where of burnt pop corn and his mother chasing him out of the house after he had destroyed yet another one of her pots.

As with many things that happened on the Norman Station since Garrick’s arrival it would be some years before both boys realised or fully understood just how special their time with Jenny had been.

Several hours later the house was quiet, the boys asleep, Jenny working in the office and Garrick in his studio. It never ceased to amaze him at the different shots he could capture from the same place. Today had been no different but the photo he most loved was the one he had captured of Jenny upon her horse with her eyes closed and her arms stretched out at her side. This was the Jenny people rarely got to see…. His Jenny. Garrick smiled at the thought……. His Jenny. Soon they would be husband and wife. This strong formidable women whose exterior armour was almost impenetrable had agreed to be his wife. She had shown him what she had been protecting for so long, what she had been guarding. Her tenderness, her passion, her warmth, her affection, her trust, her ability to love and most importantly to be loved. With time and his love he hoped that Jenny would allow the rest of the world to see her as he did, as Bobby and Darren did, as Jakala always had. A gentle knock on the door brought him out of his thoughts and there she stood, the woman who had captured his heart, his very soul. In silence he drifted over to the door enfolding her in his arms while placing a warm and gentle kiss on her lips.
“You okay Rick?”
Garrick smiled lovingly at her as they walked to the house. “You asked me that this morning…..Tell me again that you will marry me.”
Jenny stopped their pace, faced him and took both his hands. “Yes Garrick Rowe I will marry you and if I have to I will tell you every day until our wedding day.” All of a sudden a cold, sharp pain shot across her heart and her voice quivered. “Unless?”
Garrick saw her eyes darkened, gripped her hands more tightly and pulled her closer. “I have never wanted anything more than to be able to call you my wife, don’t ever doubt that.” Once more he dipped his head so their lips met. “Forever Jenny. I want us to be together forever.”
Jenny’s voice was barely above a whisper as she answered and a single tear rolled down her cheek. “Okay.”

With the weekend over Bobby and Darren were back in town and the Station routine continued. Mr Weston was out checking over a few of the choppers, Jenny back behind her desk fulfilling her writing obligations and Garrick would be away for the day on assignment for a European magazine impressed with his previous work. Little did they know events that night would change many things.

Jakala had settled into life at the university and apart from a few early minor altercations with some racially intolerant individuals life had been good. He had made some good friends over the years of being in the city and it was these friends he socialised with and he counted Peter among his oldest and dearest city friends. Both men had enjoyed a drink at the local tavern before meeting up with a few more academic friends for dinner. Jakala enjoyed these nights of discussion among his peers it seemed to feed that part of him that always hungered for knowledge. His skin colour and race had never been an obstacle, in fact the men around the table had come to his defence more than once. As he did when at the Norman Station Jakala felt like a part of something and he hoped his companions felt the same way.
Peter let the last of his port slide smoothly down his throat before he spoke. “As much as I would like to stay here all night and discuss Schrodinger’s cat with you Mick it’s late and I have a wife at home.”
All the men laughed but Mick looked to Jakala as he also made a move to leave. “Not you too Jack?”
Jakala placed his hand over his heart as he stood. “I am a humble vet Mick and as much as I like animals talk of quantum mechanics and Schrodinger’s cat always gives me a headache.”
The other men at the table sounded their agreement but Mick took their friendly taunts in his stride shaking Peter and Jakala’s hands before they left. “Same time next week then?”

Peter and Jakala had only walked a few blocks before they were set upon. Surprised by the attack neither man had time to react. Peter found himself on his knees gasping for breath before feeling the blow to the back of his head that would lead him to be unconscious.
Jakala had also been hit from behind but the punch had not rendered him useless as his attackers had expected. Eight against one was never going to be a fair fight but Jakala gave as good as he got for a few moments leaving several of his attackers with broken limbs of their own. However the attack was vicious and relentless and soon Jakala found himself on his knees with a broken arm, trying to protect his head from the continual kicks and punches he was receiving all the while having to listen to the cries and taunts of his attackers. Like Peter it was a kick to the head that left him unconscious. Jakala could have survived the attack if one of the aggressors had not plunged a knife into his chest, straight into his heart before running down the street. It was several minutes before someone came upon the two men and called for help….By then Jakala was dead, his life spilling out onto a city street, no red earth to soak up his essence.

Jenny sat bolt upright in bed yelling out a single word. “Jakala !!!!!!” Her eyes darted around her room as she brought her breathing under control realising where she was. She’d had her share of nightmares but this one left her unnerved and she could not shake the foreboding feeling that something was wrong, terribly wrong. Thinking to calm her nerves with a class of hot milk she headed downstairs to the kitchen. Once on the ground floor instead of the kitchen she turned to walk to the front door, something compelling her. It was as if the whole world stood still and silent as she opened the front door to find the old woman who had helped her at the watering hole standing in the yard. Jenny began to tremble and shake her head as she walked towards the old woman. “Please no…..You can’t be here to tell me that.”
As she got closer the old women said something and Jenny let out a heart wrenching cry of utter desperation and grief. It was this cry that brought Garrick out of his slumber to look out his window in time to see Jenny sink to her knees. Immediately he scrambled down the stairs sinking to his own knees next to her, looking up to the old woman with rage in his eyes. “What the hell did you do to her!!!!”
The old woman said nothing.
Jenny was crying and shaking, rocking back and forth repeating the same word over and over, “No, no, no, no.”
Garrick held her by the shoulders. “Jenny what is it? What happened?”
As their eyes met Garrick felt his heart splinter with the pain he saw in Jenny’s. “Jenny!!!!! Tell me what is it?”
It took Jenny several tries at letting his name flow over her lips. “Jakala’s dead. He’s Dead!!!!”
Jenny collapsed in his arms and continued to cry while once again Garrick looked up to the old woman. “How? Is it true?”
She nodded once and began to leave with Garrick shouting after her until she was out of sight.
Garrick scooped Jenny up in his arms and returned to the house placing her on the sofa in the lounge room. Brushing the hair way from her face he tried to console her. “Jen, Please. We don’t know anything. It could all be a mistake.”
Jenny shook her head. “No, no mistake.” She pounded her chest. “I can’t feel him anymore. He’s gone.”
Garrick could do nothing but hold her and that is what he did until she finally fell asleep in his arms.

The official call came through early the next morning. Jenny had been listed as Jakala’s next of kin. Sergeant Russell’s stomach ached with grief as he finished the call with the city police. Slumping back into his chair he wondered how he was ever going to break the news to Jenny. How many tragedies was she to face? He worried that the news would send her into such a depression they would never get her back.
Taking a deep breath he made his way to the hospital, this was news he did not want to deliver alone and he guessed once he had Dr Bradley’s services would be needed.

The smile disappeared from the doctor’s face once he saw Sergeant Russell’s. “What happened?”
As he had done in his own office. The Sergeant slumped into a chair before he answered, worrying the doctor even more. “Jakala’s dead.”
The Sergeant’s statement hit Dr Bradley like a charging elephant. He had been expecting bad news but not that. The two men just stared at each other until the doctor found his voice. A voice that trembled with pain and anguish. “How? When? Jesus does Jenny know?”
“Bashed and stabbed, left for dead, last night, no she doesn’t.”
“You heading for the Station?” Sergeant Russell nodded and the doctor stood. “Just let me get some supplies then we can go.”
Sergeant Russell sighed. “Thanks Doc. If it was any body else I’d go it alone but Jenny.”

As the two men walked past the nurses station neither one acknowledging she was even there she knew that something major had happened. There had been no emergency calls on the radio, nor any gossip from Ted. The last time she had felt the same atmosphere engulf her a jackeroo had been caught under a tractor, lost his arm and had died . The nurse called the pub forgetting that it was still early for Ted but once she had told Ted her news he was wide awake. He’d heard nothing but it did not take him long to call around and still nothing and that was exactly the way that Sergeant Russell wanted it for as long as possible.

Both Doctor Bradley and the Sergeant knew something was amiss as soon as they had made their way through the boundary gate and no sign of Gully, no warning barks just silence. As they got closer to the house the men looked at each other, the same questions dancing around their minds. Garrick sat on the front steps, head dropped, shoulders stooped. It seemed to take him a moment to look up and realise they were there. The doctor spoke to him first. “Hey Rick, you okay?”
Slowly Garrick stood, the two other men shocked at the utter pain in his voice. “You better come in.”
No one spoke until they were in the kitchen where Garrick took a quick glance up to the hill before looking at the others. “Jakala’s dead.”
Sergeant Russell was shocked he was under the impression that the city police where going to leave giving the message to Jenny up to him. “How’d you find out?”
“Jenny.” Was all he said before he turned back to look out the window.
The Doctor could remain silent no longer. “Jenny, then how did she find out?”
Without turning back Garrick spoke. “She had a visitor late last night, that old women. She told her.”
Sergeant Russell swallowed hard. He’d been a bush cop for a lot of years but it still rattled him how Jakala’s people knew things. “How much does she know?”
“Only that he is dead.” Garrick turned back to face the men. “He is isn’t he? The old woman was right.”
Sergeant Russell stepped a little closer to him. “Sorry Rick but yes.”
As much as he did not want to hear it Garrick new he would need to. “How?” was all he could say.
Sergeant Russell retold what the city police had told him minus a few of the more graphic details. “Seems that they were after Jakala. Put his mate out of commission but pretty much left him alone after that. He’ll be off work for a while but looks like he will recover.” The Sergeant waited for Garrick to say something and when he didn’t he continued. “Jakala took a pretty bad beating the city fellas reckon even without a knife in the heart it would have been touch and go and if he did survive they were not sure if he would have any brain damage. Officially have to wait for the autopsy” Sergeant Russell did not tell Garrick that the beating had been so bad Jakala’s skull was not just cracked but split so badly that they had to wrap his head before they could move him.
Garrick turned back to the window and held onto the edge of the kitchen sink while he tried to hold onto his rage. “Do they know who….Why?”
“They have a few leads. Told them to call as soon as they knew anything. Look Garrick….Jenny.”
Dr Bradley could see the torment in Garrick as he turned back to face them. “Rick, we need…..”
Garrick cut him off. “I’ll tell her Doc. I only just got her back to sleep.”
The doctor sighed. “Rick you didn’t see her after the …..”
Garrick exploded. “No I didn’t but I saw what the result was !!!! I’m not going to let her go back there!!!! I’m not!!!! She can’t go back there!!!! I can’t loose her!!! I cant!!” It was as if all the fight left him in an instant. Garrick slumped to the floor. The two men knelt by him. Garrick trembled as he spoke. “What if I can’t stop her from leaving?” He looked to the doctor. “She’s so much stronger than me.”
Garrick turned feeling the Sergeants hand on his arm. “Rick if anyone can save her it’s you. We’ve all seen how you have changed her, brought her back to us. Don’t give up on her when she needs you the most. Stay no matter what she throws at you…….. just stay.”
The doctor smiled weakly at him. “You look exhausted. You want something to help you sleep?”
Garrick shook his head as he stood. “No. I need to make sure I know when she wakes up.”
“Fine. But I’ll leave these.” The doctor placed a small bottle on the table. “Just in case either of you need them.”
Garrick tried to smile. “Thanks Doc.”
The Sergeant placed his hand on Garrick’s shoulder. “You want us to stay until she does wake up? Be here when you tell her?”
Again Garrick shook his head. “No.” Then looked at the Doctor. “The boys will know by now. I think you better see to them.” The Sergeant was as shocked as the Doctor as Garrick continued. “They knew last time she was in trouble, they know now.”
Just then, along the hall in Jenny’s office the radio crackled into life and a child’s voice echoed through the house. It was Darren wanting to know if his father was there.
The three men walked down the hall no one wanting to say what needed to be said over the radio. Just as the doctor was about to reply Garrick stopped him with a hand on the arm and a pained smile. “Hey buddy.”
Darren almost tripped over his words to get them out. “Garrick, what happened, is Miss Jenny alright? Is my dad there?”
“Yes Darren your father is here but don’t worry false alarm he’s headed back to town okay?”
“But miss Jenny.”
Dr Bradley took over the radio. “Darren like Rick said false alarm. Now off the radio in case a real emergency comes through.”
The boy sounded dejected but did what he was told.
As the room went silent the two men noticed they were alone. The Sergeant patted Dr Bradley on the shoulders. “Come on. We have to round up those two boys and tell them about Jakala.”

Garrick heard the boundary gate open and close as he sat next to Jenny’s bed. Gully had not left her side only lifting his head slightly when Garrick entered the room. “How the hell do I tell you what happened and keep you with me?”
Exhaustion finally overtook him and Garrick fell asleep in the chair only stirring when Jenny did.
It took Jenny a few moments to remember where she was and as soon as her eyes focused on Garrick’s face her grief returned and her tears flowed.
Garrick climbed onto the bed beside her, pulling her to his body. Jenny clutched at his arms as they tightened around her. “Oh Rick….”
“I’m sorry Jenny.” Garrick had no idea what else to say, dreading having to tell Jenny exactly what had happened when she finally asked.
“Why rick?”
“I don’t know Jen.”
Jenny turned around to face Garrick. “I can’t breathe.”
Garrick pressed his lips onto her forehead. “Let me breathe for you . We’ll get through this together.”
Jenny closed her eyes, resting her head on his chest but it did not stop the tears. Once more Garrick held her until she slept only to face her grief yet again next time she work and adding to it when he had to answer her question. As he told her some of what Sergeant Russell had conveyed to him Jenny remained silent, too silent for Garrick, her eyes boring through him as he told her about Jakala’s last moments.
Once he had finished Garrick waited for some reaction, his own stomach tightened as he saw the dark shadows wash over her eyes and the tension return to her body. The cold, venomous sound of her voice frightened him and flashes of the day she had shot at him raced through his mind. “I swear Rick I will make sure who ever they are will pay for what they did.”
Garrick kept her close. “We don’t know very much Jenny.”
Jenny pulled herself off the bed and stood looking out the window with her arms folded.
“We will.”
Garrick sat on the end of the bed hoping against hope that he had not lost her to her rage and need for retribution. His voice tempered with his own pain when he spoke, probably the only reason Jenny listened to it. “Please Jenny……We’ve lost Jakala, I can’t loose you to.”
Jenny swung around and Garrick could see she was ready to release all her anger in a flurry of spiteful words but to her credit she reigned herself in. “We didn’t loose him Rick. He was taken and I plan to make sure those responsible pay for that.”
Garrick stood but as he took a step closer she backed away, turning to look out the window and Garrick’s heart splintered one more time. He left the room in silence, crestfallen. Was he going to have to battle with the old Jenny all over again to save her, to save them?

Once the story of the death of a prominent professor at the university made the city news it was not long before the bush telegraph was a buzz. Many in the district knew Jakala and many felt the same anger that Jenny felt. Gerard Tinnion was one of the first to call the Norman Station hoping against hope that the news was incorrect. Once Garrick had confirmed the news Gerard was all set to fly out to the Station. “Thanks for the offer Gerard but you’d help allot more if you stayed in the city, see what you can find out. Jenny’s after blood. If we can show her that things have been taken care of…..”
“I’ll have a few people snoop around see what I can find out.” Gerard paused for a moment before asking his next question. “How is she?”
“Angry.” There was no reason for Garrick to say more, both men knew the unspoken meaning behind that single word.
“Rick if you need help with the funeral. With anything you know you just have to call.”
Garrick sighed. “Thanks but the university it taking care of things at their end and then He is coming home. Mr Weston has been to see Jakala’s people, get permission to have him buried with the Norman family here on the station. Not sure when. I can let you know.”
“Okay. Rick……Are you alright?” Gerard was truly concerned for the man who had become his friend.
“Yes. Just seems I have to organise a funeral now instead of a wedding and before you ask. I have no idea if we are still going to be married. Jenny’s so consumed with pain and anger I don’t think she even realises the wedding is on hold.”
“Rick I know it is hard to see it now but she does love you. She might just need a bit more time.” When Garrick did not respond he continued. “I’ll do my best to see what I can find out though. Give Jenny my condolences.”

Garrick finished the conversation without telling Gerard he had not seen Jenny for three days. Earlier that morning he had been ready to head out and find her until Mr Weston informed him that he knew where she was and that Jakala’s people were watching over her, they would not let anything happen to her. She would either come home on her own or they would bring her home. “She needs this time on her own Rick. If you go chasing after her all it will do is give her a reason to resent you, push you away.” The old bushman sat heavily on the steps to the bunkhouse and Garrick followed. . “I’ve seen her shine with true happiness since you arrived. I pray that because she has you she wont….”
Garrick stared off into the distance. “I don’t know if loving me will be enough Jeff.. She’s so angry, if she puts that wall back up I don’t know if I will ever be able to get through again.”

Jenny had spent three nights at the billabong where her first healing had begun, Gully her silent, watchful companion. The first night was consumed with wails and cries of anger and grief. She had cried and shouted at God, blaming him for taking away her dearest friend. She had walked along the waters edge for hours planning what she would do to those that had taken Jakala once she found them, no doubt in her mind that she would find them. Her second day was spent much the same way as her first until she collapsed firstly onto her knees and let the tears of sorrow flow and then she laid on her side curled up like a child; sobbing. This is when Gully came to her, gently placing himself by her side so that their faces were almost touching.

It was past midnight when Jenny awoke to a strange sound, feeling a warmth along her back as she watched shadows dance across the trees. It was the sound and heat from a fire. As Jenny sat up she turned to see the old woman at the opposite side of the fire staring back at her. Jenny tried to smile her appreciation but she only had tears.
The old woman’s voice was coarse and unrefined yet cocooned in a calming tenderness that contradicted her almost masculine tones. “It is good that you cry for him. Not good that you did not cry for own people. Not good….. leave you like it did. Not good for you to go back there. You cry some more and more then you breathe again make his spirit happy not sad. Picture man he hurt bad too but you do not see. You go back he cannot follow. He will be lost to you then you will have no Jakala, no picture man. So we stay here till you ready to breathe.”
The old woman said no more just sat watching while Jenny allowed her sorrow to pass over her lips and her tears flow. It would be another full day before all her sorrow had been purged, before Jenny was ready to return to the world. In her heart she knew this time it would be different, she could feel it.
The old woman kicked out the fire and pointed to the water. “Now you swim. Wash off old skin.”
Jenny did not argue. A cleansing bath seemed like the right thing to do. The old woman watched her from the waters edge and when Jenny emerged wrapped her in a towel she had not seen before. “You remember this cold. No more cold in your heart; It bad.”
Jenny only nodded realising what the old women was telling her.

Mr Weston and Garrick heard Gully’s bark before they saw Jenny. Both men standing, walking to the middle of the yard to watch for her, wondering what they would see. The fact that she jumped the boundary fence instead of taking the time to open the gate made them both smile. Though Garrick was a little apprehensive, it could just be a show for their benefit. He needed to look into her eyes to be sure he had not lost her.
Jenny reigned her horse to a halt in front of the men. Once dismounted she gave Mr Weston a small kiss on the cheek then she did the same to Garrick before she gave him a chance to look at her; really look at her. As their eyes met she smiled, it was a sad smile but it was a smile and it was genuine. “I’m sorry Rick. I had no right to make you go through this on your own.”
Garrick took her hand. “Are you alright?”
“I mean….”
Jenny stopped him. “Yes Rick. I’m here. I am not going anywhere, not without you.
Garrick squeezed her hand just a little tighter. “You promise?”
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PostSubject: chapter 25   Thu Jul 28, 2011 6:06 am

Chapter 25
An eerie, claustrophobic silence engulfed the town. Nature herself seemed to understand the importance of the day, no bird song, no wisp of wind to protect from the suns harsh tendrils of heat, just silence.
The shade of the aluminium shed that housed the Flying Doctor plane afforded Garrick very little comfort. The reason he was there weighing as heavy on him as the weather. He sighed at the sound of an approaching plane, silently several other men that worked on the Norman Station emerged from the shadows to stand at his side. All waited, watching the skies as the drone from the plane increased.

Among other things Gerard Tinnion was a pilot and as a pilot he had clocked up many hours of flight time. As he landed once more on the outback airstrip he realised that this flight had been one of the hardest he would ever have to endure. Not because of weather or last minute changes to flight plans but simply because of the cargo he was carrying…….. He was bringing Jakala home. It had been hard enough attending Jakala’s funeral in Sydney, then waiting at the airport for the casket to be loaded but looking out the cockpit window down at the waiting men he wasn’t at all sure if he had the strength to face Jenny. Even though Garrick had promised him that she was coping Gerard was pleased that she was not part of the contingent who now waited for him.
He gave his co pilot a silent nod as he left his seat and like Garrick had done he sighed heavily before opening the door but unlike Garrick , Gerard did not seem to notice the heat. He did however notice the sombre mood of the men. Gerard and Garrick shook hands, wordless, both men feeling each other’s distress and grief. Gerard nodded to the rest of the group. “Pull the Ute up to the plane then we can load up.”
Again in silence several of the men headed for the side of the shed to retrieve the Ute while the rest walked towards the plane. Garrick and Gerard falling into step behind them. “How was the trip?”
Gerard’s voice was tinged with sadness. “Alright…. Wished I was coming back for other reasons.” He gave Garrick a piercing stare. “How’s Jenny?”
“I thought I was going to loose her…..I’m not sure I still wont, she …….She’s hurting Gerard.”
Gerard was about to ask Garrick more questions but they had reached the plane and the others and he thought it best to leave his questions until they were alone.
Silently the men loaded Jakala’s casket into the back of the Ute, covered it up with a blanket and secured it with a tarp before they all began to walk back towards the town. Gerard was a little perplexed. “Where are they going?”
“The other Ute is parked at Ted’s; they’ll meet us back at the station.” Garrick looked up to the plane. “The co pilot coming?”
Gerard shook his head. “No, he’ll be back to pick me up in a day or so. This is a round trip for him.”
“Okay. Then I guess we better get going.”
The two men had driven for sometime before Gerard spoke. “How are you doing Rick?”
Garrick shrugged his shoulders; keeping is eyes on the road. “Okay.”
“What about the wedding?”
Garrick shot his friend a quick glance before turning his eyes back to the road. “I don’t know. We still have the muster to get through. I know that was always the plan. Muster then the wedding but now…. I haven’t talked to her about it. I can’t Gerard…What if she says no.”
“Surely she wouldn’t. Maybe just give her a bit more time. Postpone things for a while.”
“Let’s get through the next few days first then take it from there.”
Again the men rode in silence until they reached the Station, the boundary gate open and a small crowd already gathered in the yard, a mixture of towns people, Jakala’s people and a few that Garrick did not recognise. As they got closer everyone turned, watching, no one smiled. Garrick and Gerard continued around the house and up to the hill via an access road expecting to find Jenny; instead they found Mr Weston waiting for them. No sooner had they got out of the Ute did the other men arrive behind them. Once again in silence they got about the job of getting Jakala’s casket out of the back.
Mr Weston waited until only the three of them where left, watching as Garrick’s gaze drifted down to the house. “She’s down there Rick and She’ll know you have arrived. Why don’t you head back down. Tell those people we are ready for them and get Jenny.”
Once Garrick was out of ear shot Mr Weston’s attention went to Gerard. “I’d be grateful if you could stick around a few days.”
Gerard was shocked and it showed. “Things that bad?”
Mr Weston shrugged his shoulders. “He’s doing it tough, tougher than he will admit. He’s gonna need help…You.”
It was Gerard’s turn to look back down the hill seeing the crowd begin to make their way up. “If Jenny calls off this wedding he’ll be gutted wont he?”
The look that Mr Weston gave him was enough.

The crowd settled themselves in and around the small graveyard, the Pastor standing at the foot of Jakala’s casket and again they waited.
Only a few minutes passed before Jenny with Bobby and Darren by her side stepped out of the house from the kitchen exit. The boys held her hands protectively and would do so through the whole service never leaving her side. Garrick and Dr Bradley followed.
When this small group was halfway up the hill the old woman seemed to appear from nowhere. Both boys startled pushed themselves closer to Jenny. The old woman stood in front of Jenny just looking at her for a moment then took a step closer, kissing her on both cheeks before stepping back. “Jack…...he would not want you to follow the darkness.” The old woman’s eyes fell on Garrick which made him feel uncomfortable. “So you follow the light.” Her gaze fell back on Jenny. “You do this, his spirit be at peace.”
Jenny gave the old woman a slight nod and a frail, closed lipped smile before she moved out of the way and let them continue.
As Garrick passed the old woman she grabbed his hand in a grip that contradicted her age, pulling him to a stop. Garrick tried to pull his hand away but she only held on even tighter mumbling something in her own language then in English. “Keep your promise.”
Garrick’s mind raced back to the night at the waterhole. He had said he would die for her. Searching his heart he knew that it was a promise he would not, could not break. If it meant her life, then yes he would die for her.

Standing next to Jenny he looked down at Jakala’s casket. He had made her the same promise. A cold shiver ran down Garrick’s back, had he just sealed his fate? It did not matter; he would stay by Jenny’s side for as long as he was given. Garrick made a promise to himself that day. ‘Never take Jenny for granted.’

The service was not a long one though some may say a little unusual; then again the Norman’s had never been ones to do things the usual way. As the Pastor finished Jakala’s people offered up their own sermon. As far as Jenny was concerned it was the right thing to do. She felt more a part of Jakala’s people than she did her own in many ways. She was grateful they had given her permission to bury him with her family, it meant far more to her than most realised.
As the service came to an end Bobby and Darren had their arms wrapped around Jenny’s waist, tears of grief washing their cheeks, women with tissues to their faces, tough, thick-skinned outback men choking back their own tears while Jenny stood unmoving, looking out over the land she called home, radiating a quiet calm giving those that had gathered permission to make their way back down the hill.
Dr Bradley pried Bobby and Darren away from Jenny wondering if he was going to have to give both young boys something to help them sleep that night. He knew at the very least they would spend the time together. However his son’s remark as they walked back to the house stunned him.
“She’ll be okay Dad. It’s gonna hurt for a while but she’ll be okay.” Darren took his fathers hand in his own. “We will too.”
Darren had rendered his father speechless. Dr Bradley knew if he tried to utter a word he would breakdown, all he could was squeeze Darren’s hand.

The crowd moved off, some going home, some heading back into town for a meal provided by Ted, even Gerard and Jenny’s men had gone back into town somehow knowing this was a time she needed to be alone.
As an unusual quiet settled over the station Garrick stood behind her, waiting, watching. The only evidence that she was actually alive the very slight rise and fall of her shoulders as she breathed. Garrick wondered how long she would stay on the hill determined not to leave her. Wondered what she was thinking or was she listening to something only she could hear, seeing something only she could see.
Garrick did loose track of time, the ache in his legs telling him they had been standing there for quite some time when Jenny sighed, uttering two words. “Good Bye” before she moved.

As time marched forward the routine of the Norman Station hummed back into life. Garrick took more of a hands on roll around the Station as well as with the exhilarating yet exhausting work of the muster earning him the right to work along side the other jackeroos.

Not long after Jakala’s death he had accepted a photography assignment thinking to give Jenny some space to help her heal but Garrick could not stay away long, so far seven days had been his limit. He had turned down or postponed several assignments to make sure that he could spend time at the Station, close to Jenny, completely blocking out his calendar for the muster.
One assignment led to another and if Garrick had ever worried about having to hang up his camera for lack of work, he had the opposite problem.

Garrick smiled from his vantage point on the verandah as he heard the tell take noise of the boundary gate open and close and Gully ran past him from some hiding place to greet Bobby and Darren. He had been glad when the two young boys had returned to their weekend routine. It had brought a spark of life back into Jenny that had been missing.
Garrick stood, resting casually against one of the verandah support beams and smiled as Darren spoke. “You coming with us today Rick?”
“If that is okay with you two or do you want Jenny all to yourself.”
Both boys smiled, shaking their heads. It had been a while since it had just been the three of them. Jenny, Bobby and Darren and at first they had been uncomfortable with Garrick’s intrusion into that part of their world but now it was as if it had always been that way. They liked having Garrick along and sometimes tried to enlist him into ganging up on Jenny.
As both boys faces broke out in beaming smiles Garrick knew that Jenny was standing behind him. She placed her hand gently on his shoulders. “You boys fetch the food from the kitchen while we ready the horses.”
The boys answered in unison. “Yes Miss Jenny.” Before heading down the hallway with Gully in tow.
Garrick turned, pulling Jenny closer to him by the waist and placed a tender kiss on her lips. “I can take them out if you are not up to it.” Jenny frowned slightly as Garrick continued. “You had a rough night”.
She knew that meant he had sat by her bed and watched over her until he was certain she was going to be okay. “You stayed?”
Garrick brushed a wisp of her hair back over her shoulder. “I did.”
“It helps.” Jenny lent in and gave him a kiss before taking his hand and guiding him off the verandah towards the shed that held the horses. “I can go for days and I will be alright but then something will trigger a thought of him and…..”
Jenny never finished, she didn’t have to. Garrick’s squeeze of her hand told her he understood completely. “He would have been proud to see how well Midnight handled his first muster.”
“Yes he would.” Garrick wanted to change the subject. He knew well enough if he let Jenny keep heading down the track she was it would just lead to her settling into a melancholy mood. She was strong and had kept herself from falling into a deep depression after Jakala’s death but from time to time he would only have to look at her, see her silent tears roll to know where she was. More often than not those times were preceded by nights like last night when she had been restless, dreaming.
“How is the new book coming along?”
“Hopefully resting in Gerard’s in box.”
Garrick laughed. “The boys have no idea you’ve finished have they?”
Garrick saw the cheeky glint in her eyes. “They will after today.”

Jenny was not sure that her two young friends had any idea of just how much input they’d had on this most recent story, however when she recited the scene that they had suggested their excitement was clear. Bringing a smile to Jenny’s face and a hearty laugh from Garrick. By listening to Jenny cast her spell over the boys Garrick understood why her books were so eagerly waited for and so well received.
Resting his head back against the tree as the boys settled down to listened to the rest of the story Garrick had no idea that he had drifted off to sleep until he found himself woken up by Gully’s rough, moist tongue sliding over his cheek. Pushing the dog away Garrick stood to find Jenny holding the reigns of their horses and the two boys riding back to the Station in the distance.
As he settled into his saddle Garrick gave Jenny a wistful smile. “Suppose I’ll have to wait till the book comes out now to find out how it ended since I dropped off?”
“Maybe.” Garrick heard the slight change in her tone and prepared himself for what was to come. “Rick will you come into town with me tomorrow afternoon?”
“Of course. Any particular reason?”
What Jenny said next so shocked him it was as if he had forgotten how to breathe. “So we can get married.”
Garrick pulled both horses to a stop and took one of Jenny’s hands. “Really? Are you sure? I mean…….”
Jenny sighed. “Would you mind? The Pastor said we need two witnesses. I was going to ask Mr Weston and Dr Bradley.”
Garrick was still a little shocked. “Tomorrow?” Jenny dropped her gaze thinking that the whole idea was too much for Garrick but when she looked back at him again her eyes sparkled with love and her smile lit up her face. “You do realise you will have to ask Bobby and Darren, they will be devastated if they missed out.”
Jenny afforded herself a small laugh. “And we need to make sure they get to wear their suits before they completely outgrow them.” She paused just a little. “You don’t mind do you with all the preparation you and Gerard have done.”
Garrick stopped her with a slight squeeze of her hand. “I would marry you right here and now if I could.”
Again Jenny sighed just a little. “Thank you.”
“For agreeing?”
“For being patient.”

Garrick had expected Jenny to inform Mr Weston and the boys about what she had planned as soon as they returned to the house….Jenny had others ideas. There was not point in telling Bobby or Darren if she didn’t want the whole district to know by morning. Garrick had to agree wit h her on that point. However he was sure that Mr Weston could be called upon to be discreet. Jenny explained that it was not Mr Weston’s integrity that was in question, it was his nerves. He would surely fuss and fidget knowing what was expected of him and the other men would know he was trying to hide something……Something big. Again Garrick had to agree with her. “So how do we get Jeff to the church in his new suit without spilling the beans?”
Jenny gave him a cheeky smile and Garrick knew had he just become more involved in her plan. “ I’ll get Mr Weston to the church, you bring his clothes.”
“And Doctor Bradley?”
“Rick it will be okay, He will either be at the Base hospital or at home.” Jenny sighed.
“ I’m sorry, I’ve taken over haven’t I?”
As they walked from the shed to the house Garrick folded his arm around her shoulder and pulled her a little closer. “It’s fine Jen, though Gerards’ going to be pissed, he was planning on giving a big speech at the reception.”
Jenny threw her head back and laughed. “Figures.”
Bobby and Darren appeared on the verandah smiling at Jenny’s laugh and Jenny gave Garrick a sly side on look as they reached the boys. “ I need you two to come into town with me tomorrow.
Garrick saw the shadow cross both their faces as they glanced at each other and Darren spoke. “Did we do something wrong Miss Jenny?”
Jenny laughed. “Heavens no. I will need your help with something.”
At this news both boys became overly excited, firing questions at Jenny as fast as they could think of them, which Jenny refused to answer. Once they were in the kitchen the boys turned their attack on Garrick in the hopes of gaining a small piece of information. To Jenny’s amusement Garrick held up his hands in surrender. “Fellas….I know as much as you do….Sorry.”
Jenny whistled bringing the kitchen into silence. “Okay, you’ll find out everything tomorrow. Now go and get cleaned up.”
There was a few moments of hesitation before the boys headed down the hallway, their conspiracy theories beginning as the clumped up the stairs to their room.
Once more Garrick pulled Jenny into an embrace. “You do realise they will never sleep tonight. ….”

Bobby was adamant that it was something serious and Darren tried to reassure his friend that it was not the case. “Nah… If it was Miss Jenny would have told us. Make sure we knew exactly how important it was. I think it is something fun.”
Bobby’s eyes widened. “A surprise?”
Darren nodded. “So we better be good till then.”
It was bobby’s turn to nod.
All through dinner the two boys entertained Garrick and Jenny with their attempts to out GOOD each other.

Later that evening Garrick and Jenny sat on the front verandah listening to their boyish giggles as the boys tried to muffle their excitement mix with the noises of the night. “ I might look all cool and calm on the outside Jen but inside I think I am as excited as those two boys.”
“Yes really. I get to marry you tomorrow. “Garrick leaned into Jenny placing a gentle kiss on the lips that began to grow into much more before he pulled away, standing at the same time.
Jenny also stood, looking deeply into his eyes. “I know the waiting has been hard for you but you could have given me no better gift. It means a great deal to me …Thank you.” Jenny gave him a small kiss on the cheek before leaving him to his thoughts. She was fully aware of Garrick’s situation and more than once she had almost given in and asked him to her bed. Garrick had never mentioned sex or the lack of it since they had talked about it that day. Not once had he pressured her into giving in to those feelings even when he knew she was vulnerable. His patience the reason she did not want to wait any longer. Jenny had settled her grieving for Jakala in a place where it did not darken her thoughts on marriage. Once she knew this she realised it was time to move on. To become Garrick’s wife and hope that she could bring him. Like Garrick she was excited, happy to be getting married but also apprehensive. Would she be able to satisfy his physical needs? Would she be able to make love to him in a why that showed him that she was completely his? Would her relationship with Dean Farmer all those years ago spoil what she so desperately wanted to be so perfect with Garrick.

At some point in the night Garrick had fallen asleep and was surprised that it was the sound of the boundary gate that had woken him. As he swung his legs over the side of the bed the melody of the morning’s activities began to registered. Once they did his stomach tightened a little for several reasons. Firstly it was his wedding day, secondly if Mr Weston had been in the Ute; how were they going to get him back into town?
Dressing quickly, he stepped out into the hallway to find Gully positioned across the entrance to the boys room. Garrick had to smile at the scene, both boys sound asleep. Then again they had talked well into the night and Garrick had remembered them touching on the topic of a wedding and dismissing it as a possibility before he had fallen asleep.
Garrick bent over and scratched the top of the dogs head before making his way to the kitchen. If Gully was in the house, then Jenny was not far away and indeed she was not. Seated at the table holding a cup of coffee she gave Garrick a sweet, heart-warming smile. “Morning. Sleep well?”
Garrick poured his own cup of coffee as he answered. “Once Bobby and Darren settled down. Did you hear them discussing a wedding? I thought your secret was out for sure.”
Jenny’s musical laugh danced around the room. “No. I think it is safe for now. A wedding just doesn’t hold enough interest for those two.”
“At least until they get involved. Mr Weston didn’t leave with the other men did he?”
Jenny smiled, taking a sip of her coffee. “No we had a little chat earlier, probably why he is keeping out of sight. He’ll be ready when we are.” Jenny nodded. “Would you like some breakfast in the peace and quiet before the storm?” Saying that she looked up to the ceiling in the direction of the boy’s room.

Jenny had decided to come clean with Mr Weston to stop the old man from worrying and now he was trying to keep himself busy and like Jenny had suspected out of sight until it was time to leave. He was so very pleased that the wedding was to take place after months or wondering if it ever would, happy for them both, happy that Jenny had someone to share her life with and in a way glad that it was to be a small affair. He was still nervous about his part in it all and his nerves would surely be his undoing if anyone saw him so Mr Weston had taken himself off to a secluded spot on the Station not trusting himself to be able to hold his tongue, not even around Bobby and Darren. He had been thankful to hear that the boys would be going into town with Jenny and he and Garrick would travel together.

Over breakfast Jenny informed Garrick of the slight change of plan. She would be taking the boys with her but Garrick was now in charge of getting their suits to the church along with himself and Mr Weston. Seeing the small frown appear on his face she continued. “I’ve checked everyone’s outfits Rick. Clean and pressed. Just get them to the church and it will be fine.”
Garrick’s frown turned to a cheeky grin. “Do I get to see your outfit?”
Hearing noises from above Jenny moved over to the stove to start cooking for what she knew would be two very excited boys. “Who said I have one?”
Garrick gave her such a dumbfounded look she could to nothing but laugh.
Having dealt with Jenny over the years the Pastor had made very sure not to leave any notes or information laying around that made any mention of her wedding. Even his diary entry only made mention of lunch with a friend. He did not have a full time secretary but Sara Stewart came in twice a week. She was responsible for bringing the parish into the 21st century with upgrades to software and programs The roof of the church now home to a satellite dish of all things. The Pastor had more than a few discussions with Sergeant Russell about Sara as she also worked at the police station twice a week. Both men singing her praise, both men admitting they would probably not cope without her. So the fact that Sara was so proficient the Pastor made sure his dairy entry was very ambiguous. It was not unusual for him to be invited for a meal yet Sara had quizzed him on the entry knowing he had the bi annual district ecumenical meeting the next morning.

Sitting quietly in the church waiting for the wedding party the Pastor sighed and sent a pray towards heaven. Jenny had said she did not want anything done with the inside of the church, as far as she was concerned it was fine just the way it was the rest of the year, however he had arranged some flowers at each side of the pulpit and draped under several of the windows along the side of the building. As Sara had mentioned the church had smelt a little musty after the service that morning he had also placed some scented candles, vanilla, in strategic places to catch the breeze, if there was one. It had been that mornings service that had almost brought the wedding secret out into the open. Thinking that everyone had left he was headed back to his office to retrieve the flowers when Sara had surprised him, being a truthful man he almost told her what he was doing. Thankfully his quick thinking had stopped a disaster for surely if Sara had found out, Ted would have been the next and then……… The thought made him shiver just a little. Checking his watch he unlocked but did not open the door to the church. He did not expect Jenny to be late even if she was the bride to be and he was not disappointed. Her arrival announced by Gully’s barking and two very excited boys now fully aware of the surprise Jenny had in store for them. Pulling the church doors open was like welcoming in a tornado. Dr Bradley trying hard to bring the two boys under control without success as they circled the Pastor shooting questions at him faster than he could answer with gully barking and dancing around them. Jenny was the last to enter the church and gave her two young friends a few moments before pulling them into line with one click of her fingers….nothing more. Gully heard his mistress’ command and immediately stopped coming to a sitting position, unmoving, his eyes on Jenny. It had the desired affect as both boys took one look at the dog and also stopped, standing very straight and very still next to the dog. The Pastor shook his head. “That is a trick you will have to teach me for my Children’s group.”
Jenny smiled at the boys. “No trick… With me you two. Garrick will be here shortly with your suits.” Then she turned back to the Doctor. “You’ll bring the suits when they arrive Dr Bradley?”
The Doctor nodded and watch as his son, his best friend, and a dog escorted Jenny down the aisle to one of the anti rooms to wait for their change of clothes. “Please tell me she has a wedding dress hidden somewhere.”
The Pastor laughed. “She does and let me tell you it was not easy keeping that hidden from my secretary this past week.”
The Doctor shot him a surprised look. “She’s known she was going to do this for a week. I only found out five minutes ago I’m a witness.”
The Pastor patted him on the shoulder. “She dropped her dress off a week ago. She asked me about booking the church a month ago.”
Again the Doctor gave him a surprised look. “You’ve known about this for a month, a whole month!!!!”
The Pastor sighed heavily. “Believe me it has not been easy.”
Just then Garrick and Mr Weston walked into the church, Garrick smiled at Dr Bradley. “I see Jenny’s asked you then?”
Dr Bradley beamed at Garrick, shook his hand vigorously then pulled him into a hug. “I suppose you’ve known about this for a month as well?”
Garrick shook his head. “Yesterday. She told me yesterday.” Garrick looked to the Pastor. “She’s had this organised for a month?”
The Pastor shrugged his shoulders and looked to the clothes that Mr Weston was carrying. “Doc I think it is time to make sure those boys get dressed.”
Dr Bradley took the boys suits from Mr Weston as the Pastor explained to Garrick and the old bushman that they could use his office to change.
As all four men walked down the isle Garrick questioned the pastor. “Jenny does have a dress right?”
“Would it matter if she didn’t?”
Garrick’s answer was quick. “No.”
As Garrick, Mr Weston and the Pastor walked towards his office Dr Bradley went in the other direction only to find the door locked. Knocking he announced himself before he heard the lock move and his son’s face peer out. “Just making sure Garrick is not with you, you know bad luck to see the bride before the wedding.”
Darren only just gave his father enough space to enter the room. When he did the only thing the doctor could do was stare. The sight before him was so breath taking; he could actually feel his throat tighten as he choked back tears. Jenny was stunning, so strikingly beautiful the good doctor forgot where he was for a moment; placing the boys suits over a chair he stepped closer to Jenny, took her hand in both of his and kissed her on the cheek. “Jenny you look gorgeous. The most elegant, graceful bride I have ever laid eyes on.”
Jenny was a little taken back by the doctor’s words and the sincerity she could see in his eyes feeling her own cheeks getting warm. Thankfully Darren came to her rescue. “Awww Dad!!!!!! Come on we gotta get ready.”
The spell broken, Dr Bradley helped the two boys get dressed while Jenny and Gully watch on in silence.

There was a gentle tap on the door and Mr Weston poked his head in to say that everything else was ready. Dr Bradley nodded to Jenny and ushered the two boys out into the church. As Mr Weston got his full body into the small room his breathe caught in is throat as his eyes settled on Jenny.
Jenny smiled at the old bushman dressed in what she thought was the first suit he had ever worn. Mr Weston and the boys were dressed in a similar colour and style. A very deep, dark grey with small flecks of silvers that picked up the light giving the suit the look of stardust. Unlike the boys Mr Weston had elected to do away with the matching tie as Jenny had expected he would. His shirt, a few shades lighter than his suit blended perfectly. “You would look right at home in any boardroom Mr Weston.”
Jenny’s words hardly registered with the old bushman so taken was he with her appearance. He had not expected her to turn up to her own wedding in her work clothes but Jenny’s transformation in to a goddess had completely astounded Mr Weston he felt his knees begin to tremble. “Jenny, you look absolutely radiant, as if a star had journeyed from the heavens to lend you its light. I have never seen such beauty.”
It was Jenny’s turn to be stunned; she had never heard Mr Weston speak in such a way. “Do you really think I look pretty?”
As the doctor had done Mr Weston stepped forward and took one of her hands in his own. “Jenny. You are more than pretty, you are exquisite.” Mr Weston gave a small cough feeling a little uncomfortable and tried to make light of the situation. “I bet you thought I didn’t’ no any of them fancy words? You sure do scrub up well though.”
Jenny smiled and hugged him. “I hope Rick thinks so.”
Mr Weston entwined his arm around hers and walked to the door. “Don’t you worry, he already thinks you are an angel.”

The dress that Jenny had settled on had been one she had seen while doing research for one of her books. The original was a two-piece medieval dress with a corset top and a long skirt, in white. However, Jenny had change the outfit to a red, one piece in material more befitting the Australian climate. The dressmaker she had sought out to complete the dress was in Brisbane the only city she was likely to visit before her wedding. Many emails sent describing exactly what she wanted and the fact that the poor dressmaker would have exactly one day for a final fitting as Jenny would be expecting to return home with her dress after her meeting with Patrick. Jenny got what she wanted. She had finished off the dress with some simple accessories all designed around butterflies. This is the surprise that had besotted all the men in the church.

Not t be outdone Garrick had a surprise of his own. Standing at his side was Gerard. So as not to spoil the privacy of the wedding he had flown to the nearest landing strip to the town which happened to be on the Patterson Station, a five hour drive in the Patterson’s ute with their promise not to broadcast his arrival to anyone.

Jenny caught Gerard in her stare and he knew there would be questions to answer but they would have to wait.

As Mr Weston guided her towards Garrick she became self-conscious knowing that Garrick’s eyes had never left her for a moment. Mr Weston felt her body tense up and whispered to her. “Relax; it’s not just Garrick who can’t take his eyes off you. You are beautiful Jenny; that is what they all see.”
As she came to stand next to Garrick he took her hand and gave her a tender kiss on the cheek, looking so deeply into her eyes the world around him disappeared.. “I really am going to marry an angel.”

The Pastor ushered them all a little closer. Mr Weston stood behind and just to the side of Jenny while Gerard stood next to Garrick with Dr Bradley and the two boys watching on next to him.

It was a short ceremony; even so Garrick would not remember what was said hypnotised by Jenny’s beauty, having to be prodded in the side by his best man when it was his turn to speak. He was afraid that if he took his eyes off her she would vanish.

Again when the Pastor asked for the rings Gerard had to nudge his friend into realising it was….. that time. Jenny gave him a gentle warm smile seeing and feeling his hands shake just a little as he placed the ring on her finger. He was still shaking when it was her turn to place the ring on his finger, much to the surprise of all she lent in and kissed him, lips to lips, heart to heart, soul to soul. Garrick was almost sure his knees buckled under her enchantment. Hearing the two boys giggle he was sure of it. With the Pastor’s closing words he was a husband and Jenny was his wife. The Pastor never got the chance to ask them to kiss each other as Garrick pulled his new wife towards him, held her tight around the waist, kissing her and only releasing Jenny when he needed to breath. Bobby and Darren did some kind of celebratory dance around the front of the church while Garrick received pats on the back and Jenny hugs from the four men.
Jenny and Garrick walked the aisle to the front doors hand in hand with the others trailing behind. As Garrick placed a hand on the door to push it open he squeezed Jenny’s hand with the other. “Shall we let the rest of the world in on the secret Mrs Rowe.”
Garrick’s knees buckled again at the smile she gave him. “Why not Mr Rowe, why not.”
Opening the door they came face to face with Ted, surprised to meet someone coming out of the church but he recovered enough to bid them all a good afternoon. Ted looked from Jenny, to the Pastor and then the Mr Weston, Gerard, the two boys back to Garrick and finally back to Jenny as the small band of wedding conspirators stood silently waiting for him to connect all the dots. Once more Ted’s eyes danced between Garrick and Jenny before he spoke. “You got married?”
Jenny smiled but it was Garrick that answered as he put his arm around her shoulders. “We sure did.”
For only the second time since Garrick had met him Ted was he lost for words. His mouth moved but nothing came out, his eyes darting from one person to the other finally landing on the two giggling boys. “You both knew?”
The boys shook their heads in unison and Gerard laughed. “Don’t be too put out Ted, she surprised us all. Garrick didn’t know until yesterday.” Hearing this news the two boys immediately went into interrogation mode until Dr Bradley brought them under control and Gerard continued. “I didn’t find out until last night, I am guessing about five minutes after Rick here realised who had the rings.”
Gerard’s reply answered Jenny’s questions at least and Garrick shrugged his shoulders. “I didn’t want to marry you without a ring Jenny. I actually rang Gerard to see if there was anywhere I could get one until he could send the ones I had picked out.”
Jenny gave Gerard a sly look. “And you decided it would be easier to come yourself?”
She got a beaming smile in return. “Well I am the best man after all.”
By now Ted was fully recovered. “Best man……..But I didn’t hear any plane, when did you get in? where’s the plane? What about the honeymoon?”
Again everyone laughed as Jenny stepped closer to Ted. “Well Ted if you would let us leave we’ll get started on that.” Her words had made the old man blush so she touched him gently on the hand as though she had not noticed. “Ted can I ask you to put the word out about our marriage. It would be a great help.”
Ted puffed up his chest. “Of course, you just leave all that to me.”
As Ted left to attend to his new duty Garrick moved closer to Jenny. “You do realise by the time we get back to the Station the whole district will know?”
“And you do realise that Gerard has already sent a message to his boss.”
Everyone looked at Gerard who was trying unsuccessfully to look innocent as he held up his mobile phone. “Jenny how could you possibly know? I only just sent it.”
Jenny gave them one of her sly smiles and Gerard knew he had been out manoeuvred.
Garrick looked at her in surprise. “How did you know?”
“Same way I know your camera is hidden somewhere close and you are just dying to take some pictures.”
Again the small group erupted into laughter as Dr Bradley darted back into the church only to reappear holding Garrick’s camera. “My question dear husband is how are you going to take photos and be in them at the same time?”
Gerard stepped a little closer and Garrick handed over his camera. “I’m not too shabby with the old camera and Rick has given me a few lessons.”
All of a sudden the expression on Jenny’s face darkened, everyone sensing her tension and Gerard in no doubt at how serious she was being when she addressed him by his surname. “These are not for publication Mr Tinnion.”
Garrick took her hands and stepped in front of her blocking her view of the others. His voice calm and peaceful. “No Jenny, just for us. They were always going to be just for us. That is why I asked Gerard to handle to photography for the wedding right in the beginning, why I have shown him how to use my equipment, so that we could keep it just for us. It’s okay.”
It took a few moments but he felt the tension leave her body as she smiled back at Gerard. “I apologise Gerard.” Then her eyes fell on Bobby and Darren who had stepped back behind there father. “I would like a few shots with just me and the boys if that would be okay?”

Garrick smiled and took his camera back beginning to take candid shots of their little group while they got organised. This way at least he had some hope of shots with Gerard in them. As Jenny and the boys got ready Darren lightly pulled on her dress to get her attention. “I just wanted to say that you really do look like a princess Miss Jenny, really.”
Hearing his friend Bobby chimed in with his own appraisal. “Just like in the books Miss Jenny.”
Jenny put her arms around both boys as she laughed and this was the shot that each boy would cherish well into his manhood. Each would compare their latest girlfriend to Jenny’s picture until they found a woman that had everything it would take to steal their hearts away from their first love.
Now that they were home Garrick was a little apprehensive as he followed Jenny up the stairs. Jenny felt the tension in his arm as he stopped at the entrance to her room. She turned and smiled. “It’s ok Rick we can wait if you want to. “Garrick sighed and stepped over the threshold to her room. “No but…..”
Jenny pulled him to her and placed a gentle kiss on his lips. “I promise Rick, we will take things as slow as you like. How about we just sit and talk for a while?”
Garrick’s head was nodding but he had already closed the gap between, firstly running his fingers through her hair, dislodging the butterfly comb while being drawn into the deep pools of love that were her eyes finally kissing her.
Jenny brushed her hand across his cheek as she took his lips to hers. This was territory they had explored before and she wonder if once they got to the point of nor return wether Garrick would take the next step or is she would have to wait to consummate their wedding. Jenny knew she would wait for as long as she had to but feeling the warmth of his body on hers it would be one of the hardest things she would have to do….wait.
As they pulled apart Garrick looked into her eyes once more. “Be my wife.”
Jenny smiled pulling him towards the bed. She was gentle, taking her time, making sure that Garrick did not feel like he had to perform. Also aware that this was Garrick’s time to find and enjoy the force, the drive, the potency that came with pure animalistic pleasure. She did not have to wait long.
Garrick collapsed at her side and once he could breathe and talk, lent on his elbow, kissed Jenny and thanked her before collapsing on his back once more.
Jenny rolled on her side, resting her head on Garrick’s arm as she brushed her hand across his stomach watching it ripple as his muscles tensed at her touch.
Garrick sighed. “I need to return the favour.”
Jenny laughed a little. “When you are ready.”
Garrick rolled so that he was now straddled over Jenny, looking down at her. “I am ready.”
This time their love-making was slower as they explored each other and through the passion, the delight grew to know each other soul to soul forever. Becoming one, truly becoming husband and wife.

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PostSubject: chapter 26   Sat Sep 17, 2011 2:39 am

Chapter 26
Once the wedding news had stopped buzzing thought the district life on the Norman Station settled back into its familiar rhythm, a heartbeat that everyone understood.
Jenny enjoyed her weekends with Bobby and Darren, especially those when Garrick joined them. Something that did not happen as often as she would have liked, not that she would admit it to anyone.

Thanks to his association with Gerard Tinnion Garrick had found himself in demand as a photographer and had spent the past three weeks in Asia on assignment for an American travel magazine. He was looking forward to being home in a week but according to his calendar he would only be home a month before leaving again, this time a six week assignment in South Africa. He would have cherished Jenny by his side on these assignments, to see the world through her eyes not just his camera. He also knew it would never be, her responsibilities kept her on the Station, her fear of flying kept her on the ground. Though she would make his world light up when he showed her the fruits of his labour and she pointed out small delicate details of his pictures that many missed, giving him praise for capturing such exquisite scenes, understanding the more ethereal shots, laughing at some of the more unusual; most of the those being the ones involving human subjects and ultimately in her own way helping him decide which shots to place in a portfolio.
A few more days and he would be home.

Jenny rested her back against their favourite tree, eyes closed thinking it would only be a few more days before Garrick was home, her thoughts interrupted by Darren’s pleading that she finish the story she had begun some weeks before. Both boys were as eager to find out the ending as Jenny was at Garrick’s return.
She smiled to herself, twisting her wedding ring around her finger. If anyone had told her a few years ago that she would be married and love someone as much as she loved Garrick she would have dismissed the thought as ridiculous. Now………It was the pain of separation that tugged at her heart, not the pain of past hurts. It felt different….It was different.
Jenny felt a slight pull on her arm as Bobby tugged at her shirt. “He’ll be home soon Miss Jenny.”
Jenny smiled at her two young companions. “Is it that obvious?” Bobby scrunched up his face and Darren just shrugged his shoulders making Jenny laugh. “Okay where was I up to?”
Both boys shouted together. “The ghost in the water !!!!”
Hearing the telling tones of his mistress’ voice Gully made himself comfortable at her side knowing he would be rewarded with gentle strokes of her hand down his back as she captured her two young friends with her words.

It was just on dusk as Jenny returned from her three day trip to check on the movement of the herd while collecting and moving her own little family closer to where the muster would take place. As per his usual stunts Gully scampered under the boundary gate heading straight for the bird bath as his mistress atop the horse that Jakala had given her glided effortlessly over it. Jenny smiled to herself as she passed the house, knowing that Garrick was home. However this did not detract from her duties, Midnight would need to be washed down and fed before she could allow her own feelings to rise to the surface.

As she walked across the yard, the peaceful quiet of the station seemed to wrap itself around her with each step, bringing her closer to the house. Her heart warmed knowing what she would find. It seemed silly but Jenny enjoyed finding the little gifts sitting on her desk once Garrick had returned from a trip. To others it would seem unimportant, inconsequential but to Jenny it was not the actual gift that Garrick brought home for her but the fact that he had thought to do it at all. So it did not matter what the gift was, still she did so love unwrapping them. This night she would not be disappointed, walking into her office she could already see the small package waiting for her, gently running her fingers over the red satin ribbon entwined around the small black box that contained her gift. Tenderly releasing the knot that held it in place and opening the box she sent a wonderful, almost child like laugh dancing around the room as she held her gift in her hand. A small jade dragon with the most intense red eyes she had ever seen.
Jenny left her newly acquired creature in the middle of her desk as she hurried down the hall and then up the stairs to find Garrick.
Hearing the shower running meant one of two things, he had not long arrived home or slept most of the day and was freshening up, Jenny did not care which, she was just glad that he was home. With a cheeky smile on her face and as quietly as she could; opened the door to the bathroom. Not sure how far she would get before Garrick realised he was not alone Jenny calmly and steadily pulled back the shower curtain and had one foot in the shower before Garrick sensed the change. He turned a little surprised to find Jenny with a big smile on her face, in his shower fully clothed. “Jenny, your clothes!!!!!”
Jenny laughed as she pulled him to her. “They need washing.”
Garrick threw back his head and laughed before placing his lips over hers and showing her how happy he was to be home before helping her undress. “You like the little fella I picked up in Bangkok?”
Jenny answered as she pushed her clothes to the end of the bath. “Yes, he’s adorable.”
Again Garrick laughed. “I’m not sure that is the right way to describe a dragon but…” His words cut off as Jenny once more pulled him to her, this time covering his lips with her own.
Once they parted Garrick wrapped her in his arms, resting his chin on the top of her head as Jenny rested her head on his chest. “Welcome home Mr Rowe.”
“Glad to be home Mrs Rowe.” Garrick tipped Jenny’s chin up gently with his hand, looking lovingly, longingly into her eyes. “Can I show you how very glad I am to be home?”
Jenny just nodded as Garrick twisted his body enough to be able to turn off the water before guiding Jenny out of the bath and sweeping her up in his arms. For her part Jenny nuzzled her head into Garrick’s neck as he carried her to the bedroom. Jenny had found Garrick to be caring and surprisingly perceptive when it came to their love making. Seeming to understand Jenny’s initial hesitations and overcoming his own reservations that he would not be good enough for her. He took his time, never rushing, never expecting her to feel like she had to perform, keep up. He had said from the start he would do whatever he could to give her whatever she asked for. Jenny found that she did not need to ask for much as Garrick engulfed her in pleasures that she had only dreamt off.

Hours later Garrick found himself smiling down at his wife as she slept cradled in his arms, knowing she would not be happy about how her hair had dried, all frizzy but for now he was happy just to be able to take in all her beauty and wonder how he had managed to be so blessed. He chuckled a little and Jenny stirred but did not wake. She looked like an angel, even with the unruly hair and his mind went back to the first night he had seen her and thought that she had been an actual angel. What a contrast to what others thought of her, knew of her. She scared people….Yet she had just made love to him in a way that broke his heart because it could not contain all the love she had to give him. He was not sad, it was not that kind of broken heart but Garrick could find no other way to describe to himself what she had done to him. She had told him that he was tender and gentle, to Garrick she was the same. He shivered just a little as he remembered her fingers as they glided down his back. He wanted the world to see the Jenny he saw but then again he wanted to keep her all to himself. He lent over and gave her a small kiss on the forehead; again Jenny stirred but did not wake. Garrick liked these moments, moments with no agenda, no responsibilities, just the two of them, alone in the quiet…. just being.
That quiet interrupted by a small bark and a scuffle as Gully pushed his food bowl over the threshold into the bedroom. Garrick shook his head wondering how long the dog had been standing at the door before deciding he was too hungry to wait any longer.
Jenny woke looking up into Garrick’s smiling face. “Hey.”
Bending over a little Garrick kissed her. “Hey yourself.”
Before Jenny could reply Gully barked just a little louder and Garrick nodded to the door. “I think someone is hungry.”
Jenny sat bolt upright. “Oh God I forgot to feed him when I got home. How long has be been sitting there?”
Garrick shrugged his shoulders as Gully just looked from one to the other. “No idea but he only just made himself known.”
As soon as Jenny jumped out of bed Gully retrieved his bowl and waited while she kissed Garrick . “Can’t keep him waiting. You want some coffee?”
Garrick nodded as he watched his wife dress and leave the room before looking at his watch. “It was almost one in the morning. No wonder to poor dog was hungry. Dressing in clean jeans and a t-shirt Garrick wandered down to the kitchen to find Jenny already making the coffee and decided he wanted her more than the coffee. As he came up behind her, he wrapped his arms around her waist and nuzzled his chin into the side of her neck. “It’s to late…or too early for coffee. Come back to bed.”
Jenny turned herself around in his embrace. “You sure?”
To answer her question Garrick kissed her.

They woke to find the sun well on its daily journey and the distance crackle of the radio in Jenny’s office. Even before she was fully awake Jenny knew something was wrong. As if to answer her unasked question Gully appeared at the bedroom door baking anxiously. Jenny jumped out of bed pulling on her jeans and shirt and was out of the room before Garrick could get his thoughts in order.
Garrick stood at the doorway to the office listening to Jenny trying to understand what was going on. It did not take long for all the pieces to click into place.

There had been an accident including father and son, the flying doctor plane was already on a call and it would be three hours before it could make it back and it was a five hour drive to the base hospital. The Patterson’s Station manager was friends with Mr Weston and well aware of the Norman’s helicopters. It was this call that Jenny overheard Mr Weston replying. “Take it easy Pete, of course Miss Norman will allow ….” Mr Weston stopped mid sentence as he felt Jenny’s hand on his shoulder.
“Go.” Was all she needed to say for Mr Weston to hand her the radio. He heard the beginning of her conversation with Pete as he dashed for the Ute. “Pete. It’s Jenny Norman. What can we do? What needs to be done?”
“It’s the Boss Lady Miss Norman she’s frantic, the Boss and Travis are hurt pretty bad.”
“Can you take care of them until Mr Weston gets there?”
“Yes Ma’am.”
“Then do it and put Mrs Patterson on the line.”
Jenny knew that Pete could handle whatever came his way and usually Mrs Patterson would be right there as well but hearing the frantic stress and torment in the woman’s voice Jenny knew she had to keep her on the line until Mr Weston arrived at the very least.
When Jenny heard the thumping of the helicopter over the radio as Mr Weston landed at the Patterson Station, only then did she allow Mrs Patterson to disengage from their conversation. Through most of that conversation Garrick had stood behind Jenny with his hands placed reassuringly on her shoulders. “I’ll get the other Ute.”
While Garrick headed for the shed Jenny put a call through to Dr Bradley, giving him a brief yet concise report of the current situation then a call to the Base Hospital. Although they would have been monitoring the call Jenny made it perfectly clear she would be arriving soon. She may have softened a little since Garrick arrived and a few people had made the mistake of thinking that softness would flow into other parts of her life, finding out quickly and painfully that was not the case. The staff at the Base Hospital had never been deluded into thinking that Jenny was anything but the tough Station owner she had always been. Her announcement that she was on her way sent them scurrying to make sure everything would be the way she expected much to the amusement of some of the patients. Even Dr Bradley did not afford the whirlwind of activity taking place. One nurse, having had enough heckling from a bed ridden jackeroo informed him as to what Jenny had done to the last person to make her angry…..Dean Farmer. The jackeroo kept his comments to himself when the nurse told him she would be happy to explain to Miss Norman exactly why he was taking up a bed. The fact that his injuries had been self-inflicted due to his drunken state at the time would hardly shine a favourable light on him and Jenny was just as likely to turf him out of the hospital.
The head nurse had just made her way back to the reception desk as Jenny and Garrick walked through the entrance with Sergeant Russell in tow. She nodded to the all but addressed Jenny. “They have not arrived yet.”
“Clearly. There is not enough room in the chopper for the patients and Mrs Patterson. I think she would like to know that someone was here for her son and husband when they arrived.”
Garrick still shivered involuntarily when he heard the cold, hard steely tone of Jenny’s voice. Giving Sergeant Russel a quick glance he knew he felt the same.
The nurse swallowed hard and continued. “Doc Jenkins is on his way in from his sister’s place, he’s been visiting for the past month. He heard the call, should be here before the chopper.”
Jenny’s icy voice echoed through the hospital. “Then we wait.” Without another word Jenny walked towards Dr Bradley’s office, no one speaking until they arrived and it was Sergeant Russell. “How bad is it Jenny?”
Jenny answered him while looking out the window. “Looks like Travis didn’t put the break on the tractor well enough. It rolled over him. His dad managed to pull him part way out of trouble but he might have lost his arm in the process.”
Sergeant Russell looked to Garrick for confirmation, Garrick only nodded. He had heard the Patterson’s station manager describe the injuries to Jenny and he knew the only reason that Mr Patterson was still alive was the fact that they had been working on the tractor close to the house. Both men looked back to Jenny as she continued. “The best that Doctor Jenkins can do is patch him up for a trip to Adelaide.”
“And Travis? How Bad Jenny” Sergeant Russell was hoping for better news.
“Crushed leg. Not sure how bad.”
They all turned to look to the door of the doctor’s office as someone cleared their throat. “I’m Doctor Jenkins. Any news as to how long they will be?”
Both Garrick and Sergeant Russell moved closer to shake the doctor’s hand. Jenny remained where she was and the doctor did what most people did when they first met Jenny, he shivered. Only when they all heard the thumping of the helicopter as it flew over the town did Jenny move. “I think that is your answer Doctor Jenkins.”
The three men followed her back down the hallway in silence, the doctor giving Garrick a pleading look.
“Just do what you can for them Doc. It may not be as bad as we have heard.”
Doctor Jenkins may have been a city doctor but he had spent enough time with his sister to know that more often than not bushies downplayed the seriousness of situations. On his visit a few years back he had dropped into see Dr Bradley when one of the station hands walked into the hospital with a ‘bit it of nick’ that turned out to be a six inch long gash in his arm from barb wire. So he was expecting to see much worse than had been reported.
By the time the four of them had reached the main street they were running for the airstrip. Jenny and Garrick had left the Ute there prepared for the short trip back to the hospital. Pete was already out of the chopper by the time they arrived. The look on his face telling the story. “The Boss has been unconscious most for the trip.”
They loaded Mr Patterson into the Ute. Next came Travis who looked like he had been crying for most of the trip, his leg in a makeshift sling. As they bundled him onto the back of the Ute next to his father he pleaded with the them. “Look after my dad first please.”
Pete reassured the boy as he felt Jenny’s hand on his arm. “Go back to the station with Mr Weston, his mother is expecting you, we’ll look after things here.”
Pete nodded.
The chopper had taken off even before the Ute had made it onto the main street. Garrick had driven back to the hospital with Dr Jenkins at his side, it was only once their cargo had been unloaded he realised that Jenny and Sergeant Russell were missing. Looking back up the street he saw them calmly walking towards him. Some how watching Jenny helped to calm his own nerves, as their eyes met and she gave him a small smile and his heart began to beat just a little slower; he felt just a little less stressed. As they got closer he was going to ask his own questions when Ted scurried out of the pub intent on getting the up to date news almost knocking the Sergeant over in his haste to get to the hospital. “Take it easy Ted, where’s the fire?”
Jenny saw his bottom lip begin to quiver and knew they were in for a barrage of questions so cut Ted off before he could get started. “Ted, great….. just the man I need. Mrs Paterson will be arriving shortly and I expect her to be leaving for Adelaide with her husband but until then she will need a place to stay. Can you make ready one of your nicer rooms for her and while she is with you makes sure she does eat. I would really appreciate it.”
Ted shot a quick look at Sergeant Russell desperately wanting to ask questions; however when his eyes returned to Jenny all that came out of his mouth was. “Yes, Sure.”
Jenny smiled and let Ted squirm for a few moments before rewarding him with some information. “You can tell your patrons that Mr Patterson is being cared for and being prepared for surgery as is his son Travis. Mr Weston has returned to the station to collect Mrs Patterson. Ted, if there is anymore news I promise you will be the first to know.”
Ted smiled. “Sure thing Miss Jenny, I’ll go and check on the room. It will be ready when ever Mrs Patterson needs it.”
By now Garrick had joined them and watched amazed as Ted rushed back to the pub. “Are you seriously going to keep Ted in the loop Jenny?”
She smiled back at him as they walked towards the hospital. “Won’t have to. Ted is quite capable of keeping himself in the loop.”
Both men chuckled knowing she was right.
They reached the hospital and stopped just outside the entrance. Garrick sighed. “What now?”
“We wait.”
“Jenny what if the Flying Doctor plane does not get back in time, what if this is too serious to wait?”
Jenny smiled weakly as she took a step closer to the hospital. “Gerard’s on his way just in case.”
All Garrick could do was shake his head. His wife was indeed a remarkable woman.
He was even more in awe of his wife later as she devoted all her time to Mrs Patterson, reassuring her, calming her down, answering her questions as they all waited for Dr Jenkins to update them with news.
When he did appear Jenny could tell by the look in his eyes that all his news was not going to be good. She squeezed Mrs Patterson hand. “What ever he has to say Adele, We will be here for you.”
The two women stood and waited for the doctor to get closer. Garrick, Mr Weston, Pete and Sergeant Russell hanging back just a little but still able to here what the doctor had to say.
Dr Jenkins smiled wearily. “Mrs Patterson, your son’s leg was badly damaged.” He saw the colour drain from her face so he continued as quickly as he could. “But he will not loose it. Don’t get me wrong it will take a lot of healing. He will still need to go to Adelaide for major surgery and probably have pins in it for life.”
Jenny felt Mrs Patterson squeeze her hand as she asked the Doctor about her husband. “And Bill? What about Bill?”
Jenny steeled herself for the news she knew was coming, Pete had told her about the injuries to Mr Patterson’s arm. Garrick had seen the slight change in her body and his own reacted, tensing and waiting.
“I won’t beat around the bush. He lost a lot of blood. “Dr Jenkins looked over to the Station Manager Pete. “But thanks to the quick action of your staff he didn’t loose too much but his arm is a mess, torn right through the muscle and tendons, some nerves.” The doctor took a deep breath before he continued. “Mrs Patterson you need to be prepared. Even if they save his arm I am not sure if it will be much use to him.”
Jenny could feel Mrs Patterson trembling so instead of holding her hand wrapped her arm around her shoulders. “What else Doc, spit it out. We want to know what we have to deal with. All of it. Adele needs to make plans.”
The Doctor was about to berate Jenny for her abruptness and insensitivity when he made the mistake of looking directly at her. She caught him in her glare and any strength he had in him for a fight deserted that moment. “I’ve done all I can here. He’s comfortable but he will need to go to Adelaide. I can’t tell you wether he will loose his arm or just the use off it.” Dr Jenkins looked to Mrs Patterson. “I wish I could Mrs Patterson but only when the specialist take a look can you get that answer.”
Adele Patterson placed her hand over the doctor’s and with tears washing her face she thanked him. “I appreciate your honesty Doctor, thank you. Does Bill know?”
The doctor shook his head. “Not yet, he is still heavily sedated. We will tell him when he is awake.”
“Can I see them, Bill and Travis?”
“Of course, they are both sleeping but if you would like to sit with them.”
Mrs Patterson was half way down the hall when she turned back to Jenny. “Jenny….”
“It’s okay Adele. We’ll take care of anything else.” Jenny turned on her heels to face the four men standing behind her. “Pete, Mr Weston will get you back to the Station. You need anything you get in touch; anyone gives you problems you let us know. Adele needs to know that you are looking after the place while they are gone. This is going to be a long recovery for them even if Mr Patterson’s arm is all right.”
Pete nodded. “Thank you Miss Norman. Thank you for looking after the Boss’ Missus. I don’t reckon I’m cut out for that sort of female thing.”
Jenny gave him a smile. “You just look after the place Pete.” Jenny turned her attention to Sergeant Russell. “Can any question you have for Adele wait a while?”
“Sure thing Jenny. Pete gave me pretty much all I needed anyway. I really need to talk to Bill and Travis.” He saw the cloud begin to darken her eyes and put up his hands in defence. “But that can wait.”
“Good. Now we need to sort out transport, hotels. Garrick would you mind waiting for Gerard. He should be here soon. I need to have a talk to Dr Jenkins.”
Jenny was about to turn on her heels once more when Garrick caught her by the arm. “I love you Mrs Rowe.” Then he placed a feather light kiss on her lips.
Jenny smiled back at him. “I love you too.”
It was a nudge from Sergeant Russell that brought Garrick out of his haze and he realised that Jenny was no longer in the hallway.

Jenny knocked gently on the door to Dr Bradley’s office as she had found Dr Jenkins seated with his head back, eyes closed and wondered if he was sleeping. He gave her a weary smiled as he beckoned for her to enter. “Are you okay Dr Jenkins?”
Again he gave her a tired weary smile. “Not what I expected to be doing when I woke up this morning. I haven’t done that kind of surgery in a long time.”
Jenny had noticed the gaunt look of past horrors in his eyes and guessed right that the days events had brought back bad memories. “Where were your nightmares born?”
The Doctor was a little stunned at the question and how directly Jenny had asked but in a way relieved that she understood. “Nam.”
“If this had been Nam Travis would have lost his leg and Mr Patterson his arm right?”
The doctor nodded unable to articulate his words.
“But it’s not and they didn’t. You gave them a chance. So Travis gets stuck with a few pins in his leg but he’s young, he’ll be fine. His father comes from tough stock’ as long a people are honest with him he’ll cope. Right now we need to help them through this. How long before you can move Mr Patterson to Adelaide?”
Again Jenny had shocked him with her directness. “As soon as the plane gets here.”
“Have you contacted the hospital in Adelaide?”
“Next on the list.”

Jenny and Garrick stood watching until both planes were out of sight grateful that Gerard had agreed to fly Mrs Patterson to Adelaide. As she had expected Dr Jenkins had done his best to clean the wounds but it was going to take more than their outback hospital had to offer if Mr Patterson was to keep his arm.
Garrick took Jenny’s hand gently in his own as they both continued to stare into the now empty sky. “You okay Jen?”
“Yes…Why do you ask?”
Garrick uttered the two words he was not sure would earn him at the very least a scowl. “Dean Farmer.”
He did feel her grip on his hand tighten but her voice contained no anger or malice. “I made my peace with that.” Jenny turned her attention to the man standing at her side and once more Garrick felt himself slipping under her spell as he stared into her eyes. “I have you to thank for that Rick.”
Garrick pulled her into a hug. “Do we need to do anything else in town or can we go home?”
“We can go. I need to make a few calls when we get back.”

Once back at the Station her first call was to Mr Weston for an update as to how things were at the Patterson place. Mr Weston informed her that Pete had called the Patterson’s eldest son in Sydney with what they knew, that everything else on the station was under control except for the two youngest children Claye and Laurie, eight and nine years old missing their parents and still upset and nothing he or Pete did seemed to make a bit of difference. Mr Weston was worried about the two young boys and Jenny could hear the uncertainty in his voice. She asked him to put the oldest, Laurie on the line. “Hello Laurie. Do you know who this is?”
She heard the child take a breath before answering. “Yes Miss Jenny.”
“Do you understand what has happened?”
Through a muffled whimper Laurie answered. “Dad and …..and.. They got hurt.”
“Yes they did. Laurie your mum went to Adelaide with them but don’t you worry. She will be alright, she will look after you dad and Travis. Laurie who looks after you when Mum and Dad go away together?”
“Ummmmm Aunty Luna. She comes to stay.”
“That’s good. Would you like me to come and stay until Aunty Luna arrives?”
There was a pause and Jenny could hear the young boy trying to compose himself. “Please Miss Jenny. I’m trying real hard but I am scared.”
“I know you are Laurie and I am very proud of you looking after Claye like you do. I promise I will be there when you wake up for breakfast tomorrow okay.”
“Kay.” Was all the young boy could muster.
“Now put Mr Weston back on the line will you.”
Jenny explained what she had planed and asked Mr Weston to track down Aunty Luna, also see if the Patterson’s had any sedatives in their first aid kit and give the two boys a small dose before they went to bed.
“You sure about coming out Jenny it’s a long drive?”
“Yes, very sure Mr Weston. I will be there later tonight.”
Mr Weston felt the force and power of her words. He knew better than to try and change her mind. “We’ll be waiting.”

Jenny made a few more calls, one to the Patterson’s eldest son Malcolm who rattled off a flurry of words before he seemed to take a breath. “Thank you so much for looking after things Miss Jenny, I can’t get hold of Mum and, and, I don’t think I can get a flight home until tomorrow. I can’t leave Claye and Laurie by themselves.”
Jenny stopped him as he took a breath. “Malcolm….. Your brothers are not alone. Pete is there, Mr Weston is there and I will be with them tomorrow. We are arranging for your Aunt Luna to come and stay. Your mum is probably still in the air so I am not surprised you cannot get hold of her. But Malcolm…” She paused to make sure he was listening.
“Yes Miss Jenny.”
“I think you should go to your Mum. She is there all on her own, she will need you. We can take care of anything that comes along here okay?”
“You sure?”
Jenny gave him a very definite “Yes.” for an answer. “How are you off your money? Air fares? Time off your studies?”
“We are on a break. I was going to come home in a few days. I can probably swing a cheap flight to Adelaide.”
“Which means you might have to wait. Give me your bank account details and I will transfer some money.”
Malcolm cut her off with an emphatic no but Jenny was equally emphatic. “No arguments Malcolm. Just book whatever flights you need. Mr Tinnion has organised accommodation for your mother, I will let him know to expect you.”
Several minutes later Jenny hung up satisfied that she had done all she could and that Mrs Patterson would have the company of her eldest son most likely by the end of the day.

Garrick had been leaning against the door jam quietly listening. “So I guess we need to pack a few things then.”
Jenny looked up from her desk and gave him a sad smile. “You don’t need to come. I should be back in a few days.”
Garrick walked over to where she was sitting and pulled her from her chair into his arms. “I’m coming. I’m not going to miss the chance to spend time with my wife.”
Silently Jenny was glad that he was going to be with her, glad that he had not suggested they fly. She tightened her hold on him and pressed her head a little harder into his chest. “Thank you.”
Garrick pushed Jenny back a little so that he was looking down into her face. “You do know how much I love you don’t you?”
This time Jenny’s smile was not a sad smile but rather a knowing smile, each word she spoke coated with the love she had for him. “Yes I do.”

By the time they were ready to leave night had already fallen. Garrick threw their swag into the back of the Ute he’d left near the house when they had returned from the hospital and walked to open the boundary gate while Jenny finished packing a few provisions in the kitchen. Being a Station owner’s wife Mrs Patterson would have a well stocked cupboard but Jenny wanted to make sure she was not missing anything. She had also packed a few supplies for the boys in the way of some of her own home cooked biscuits and cakes.
As she hoisted the basket into the back of the Ute Jenny let out an ear piercing whistle and Gully ran from around the side of the house jumping straight into the back of the Ute without missing a step, settling down for what he knew was going to be a long ride.

Garrick had not even thought of suggesting he drive knowing Jenny would need this time to feel like she was in control so after closing the boundary gate he got into the passengers side, stashing his camera under the seat.
Earlier in their relationship Jenny had questioned his reason for bringing his camera on every single outing they took but now even to Jenny is was second nature, automatic. She would have been more surprised to see him without it.

They had been on the road a few hours slipping into a contented silence when without warning Jenny pulled the Ute onto the road shoulder and shot out before Garrick had time to ask her what was wrong. By the time he joined her at the back of the Ute he had his answer. There was Jenny bent over, throwing up while Gully looked on nervously from his spot on the Ute.
Garrick frowned, there had been no hint that she was ill, nor had Jenny mentioned that she felt sick. “You okay?”
Once she was sure she was done Jenny stood straight. “Must be the stress and an empty stomach. I’m fine.”
Garrick’s brow crumpled into a frown not buying a word of what she was saying. “Jen…..”
She smiled at him as she pulled a bottle of water out of one of the packs in the back of the Ute and patted Gully on the head to re assure the dog. . “I’m fine…… really. Do I look sick?”
Garrick had to admit that she looked all right. “You look fine but still maybe we should stop and have something to eat.”
Jenny laughed which made him feel better. “We are stopped. You want to eat you better dig in now. There is nothing between us and the Patterson’s but night, bush and road.”
Jenny threw him a sandwich that she had packed. “At least let me drive for a while.”
Again Jenny laughed as she walked to the passenger’s side. “Just don’t hit any roo’s.”
Garrick gave her one last look before they got back into the Ute. He never got to ask his question before Jenny answered. “I’m Fine.”
Once back on the road Jenny drank her water and opened her sandwich but never ate it. If she was honest with herself, she was not hungry and had been feeling a little under the weather for a few days.
A few hours later she woke with a start not realising she had fallen asleep. Garrick was calling her name and shaking her leg gently. “Jen, Jenny….Wake up.”
A little groggy at first it took Jenny a few seconds to get her bearings when she noticed they had stopped again. “Something wrong?”
Garrick smiled at her. “You fell asleep a while back so I just kept driving but now….”
Jenny still wasn’t sure what the problem was. “Now????”
Garrick smiled a little sheepishly. “I’m at a cross roads here….. literally.” He pointed out the window. “And I have no idea where we are going. A little help please.”
Jenny burst out laughing and got an indignant look from Garrick for her trouble. “Well I am glad you didn’t decide to just keep on driving. We need to go left but I need to do something first.”
Garrick’s indignant look turned to a worried frown. “You sick again?”
Jenny just shook her head as she moved closer to him and gave him a kiss. “Ooooh.”
“You want a spell as a passenger?”
“I’m okay if you are happy for me to keep driving. But….do I need any special instructions?”
A cheeky grin appeared on Jenny’s face. “Maybe, but not while we are driving.”
It was just as well Garrick was not driving or he may have run them off the road he was so shocked. “JENNY!!!!!!!”
Their combined laughter filled the air as they drove on.

The sun rose on the Patterson Station the next morning to find Gully laying across the doorway to Claye and Laurie’s bedroom, Pete and Mr Weston already out working knowing that the boys were in good hands and Jenny and Garrick in the kitchen enjoying a coffee having had their breakfast.
“I thought the boys would have been up by now?”
Jenny smiled at Garrick. “Usually they would be. Mr Weston said they gave them something to help them sleep last night so it is probably for the best.”
As if her words had stirred something in the air they both heard Gully give a small bark, then a louder bark which was joined by the happy cheers of the two boys who smothered the dog with cuddles before it escaped to the kitchen followed by his new friends.

The brothers came to a sudden halt at the entrance to the kitchen ball eyes on Garrick who in turn tried to ease their trepidation by smiling. All that seemed to do was make the two boys try to stand closer together. Jenny rose from the table.
“Boys, where are your manners. You can’t tell me you do not remember Mr Rowe.”
Timidly both boys bade Garrick a good morning.
It was Garrick’s turn to rise. “Morning boys.” He stepped a little closer to them but did not reach them as he held something in his hand for them to take. “I thought you might like a copy of the photos that I took of you in town at the carnival.”
The brothers simultaneously took a step into the kitchen so they could take the photos from Garrick. Laurie was first to speak. “Thanks Mister.”
Claye looked down at the photo he now held. “Yeah Thanks.”
Jenny worked her way around so she was standing behind the boys and shuffled them closer to the table. “Would you like some breakfast?”
Each boy sat and nodded at the same time. Garrick managing to get them to smile when he mentioned pancakes.

Through breakfast the boys relaxed and warmed to Garrick but became serious as Laurie asked about their father and injured sibling.
Jenny’s answer was straight forward and Garrick thought a little insensitive but the boys took it in their stride. “We will know more after the doctors have operated. Your mum is fine, she’s with them and your big brother will be with her soon, if he is not already.”
Laurie took a deep breath. “We heard the men talking. They said dad could loose his arm….Is that true?”
Jenny flashed Garrick a soulful look before she answered. “Yes boys, he might. I don’t know. What will you do if he does?” Again Garrick thought the question inappropriate but Jenny obviously knew these children.
Again it was Laurie that answered for both of them. “We’ll help mum look after him then we’ll help dad when he gets better.”
“I promise as soon as we hear anything I will tell you…… How about you get changed and head out and play with Gully for a while.”
The two boys politely excused themselves and left the kitchen once more with Gully in tow.
Garrick caught Jenny in an embrace. “That is two very brave young men.”
Jenny sighed. “I just hope they don’t have to grow up any faster than they already have.”

For the rest of the day Jenny busied herself in the kitchen, cooking and baking to make sure they family and men had enough food prepared. She had no idea what Aunt Luna was capable of or even if she would take on the stations responsibilities not just look after the boys when she arrived. It had not gone unnoticed that the boys even though they were happily playing with Gully had not gone far from the homestead, every now and then Jenny would catch one of them looking to see if she was still in the kitchen. Each time she would wave to reassure them that yet another adult in their life was not about to disappear.

Just as Jenny placed the last batch of cooled scones into the Patterson’s large freezer she received a text from Adele Patterson. All it said was that the operations had gone well.
Immediately Jenny dialled Adele’s number knowing her two youngest boys would want more information as did she. Jenny noticed how tired Adele sounded but at least some of the tension had left her voice.
Her son’s operation had gone well. He would need rehabilitation but it looked like he would have the full use of his leg. Her husbands operation had also gone well, he had not lost his arm but it was going to be a while before they knew if he was going to get back its full use.

Jenny informed Adele that her two youngest were doing well and at the very moment outside playing with Gully. Information she knew would put Adele’s mind at ease, one less worry. Jenny smiled when she got a small laugh from Adele as she told her that Aunty Luna would be at the Station in two days. “Oh Jenny that is wonderful news. That means I can stay here with Bill for as long as I need. How on earth did you know to call her?
“Your boys.”
“Thank you Jenny. Luna’s probably forgotten more about running a station than I ever learnt. She ran the place with Bill. I begged her to stay when we got married but she said I had given her the chance to spread her wings. She’s a treasure. Scares the stuffing out of the men but adores the boys. Does she know about Bill?”
“Yes Adele she does and I will call her with an update. She basically told me her brother would need her at the station not wasting time sitting in a hospital waiting room.”
Again Jenny heard Adele laugh just a little. “Yep that’s Luna. Jenny how can I possibly thank you?”
“Just look after those men of yours and keep in touch.”

Several days later Jenny was waiting at the stations airstrip watching as a plane approached for a landing. After Adele’s description of her sister in law Jenny was a little taken back at the women who appeared in the doorway of the plane. Dressed in an ankle length free flowing tie died skirt that seemed to have captured every colour possible, a macramé belt at the waist and an equally free flowing cheese cloth shirt. The woman looked more like she was on her way to a hippy commune than an outback cattle station. To complete the sceptical Luna’s bright ginger, waist length hair flowed freely behind her.
As the women’s eyes met Luna broke into a smile, bounding down the stairs, grasping Jenny’s single hand in a two handed shake. “Jenny, so pleased to meet you.”
Jenny was impressed with the power behind Luna’s handshake but still a little weary as to why Adele had said that Luna could run the station.
For her part Luna must have picked up on Jenny’s hesitation as she unceremoniously grabbed her bags from the plane than threw them into the back of the Ute and waved to the pilot to say she was done. “Don’t let the clothes fool you. This is for the benefit of all those artsy fartsy types in the city. My work sells a hell of a lot better if they think I am a flake.” Luna’s laugh bellowed out across the landscape before she reigned it back in and gave Jenny a serious look. “How are my nephews?”
Jenny liked the idea that Luna had gotten straight down to business. “Holding their own but I am sure they will be much better now that you are here.”

As they drove back to the homestead and without waiting for Luna to ask Jenny gave her all the latest information on her brother as well as what was happening at the station. “If you want Mr Weston to stay on for a little longer I’d be happy to arrange it.”
“I’d appreciate that Jenny. Pete’s a great foreman but until I get a lay of the land I think it might be wise.”
For the rest of the trip the women talked cattle, stock prices, being the boss cockies and a woman and working with men. Jenny learnt that Luna made a very good living as a painter and sculptor but had already made up her mind that if her brother was no longer able to run the station she was staying. “You would do that Luna…. give up your art?”
Luna gave Jenny a good long stare. “You didn’t have to give up your writing. I think maybe I can still do both. Yeah my nephews rave about your books.”
Jenny nodded. It seemed the two women had a great deal in common. “So Luna, Adele tells me the men are a little scared of you.”
Luna’s laugh echoed around the cab of the Ute. “Bloody oath they are. Only way to keep em in line. I expect a few have done the bolt to the further most boundaries of the station knowing I’m on my way. Wont do them any good.”
Jenny could not help herself, she had to laugh.

Garrick had been dubious in letting Jenny meet Aunt Luna after listening to Pete talk about her. He had visions of clash of the titans with no survivors so was some what surprised to hear female laughter as the Ute approached the house, even more surprised when he spotted Luna as she sprung from the Ute looking every bit like a human rainbow.
As the boys darted from the house to embrace their Aunt, Garrick joined Jenny by the Ute. “I think the boys and the station are in goods hands. We can go home tomorrow.”
Garrick gave Jenny a shocked look. “Really????”
“They need to figure out how to do this. Luna knows what she is doing.”
Garrick hugged Jenny around the shoulders. “But you’re still going to keep an eye on things right?”
“For a while and from a distance.”

It was close to lunch time when Jenny and Garrick arrived back in town. Jenny pulling the Ute to a stop outside the base hospital. “I might as well stock up on medical supplies while we are here. Why don’t you drive down to Ted’s we can have a meal before going home. I won’t be long.” Jenny motioned to Gully to stay in the Ute.
“In other words you want me to handle Ted right?”
Jenny gave him a cheeky smile, leant through the open window and gave Garrick a kiss that made his knees weak even though he was sitting down.
“Not just a pretty face.”
Jenny watch Garrick drive the short distance to the pub before entering the hospital and asking the duty nurse if Dr Bradley was available.
Unbeknownst to Garrick, Jenny had already ordered the supplies; all she had to do was pick them up. She had another reason for visiting the hospital; she needed Dr Bradley to give her a check up. She had not started to feel better at the Patterson’s like she had hoped; in fact Jenny thought things may have become worse. She had hidden the fact that she had thrown up at least once each day, sometimes more and the nausea had not abated.
Dr Bradley did not seem too concerned when she described her symptoms but gave her the blood tests and said he would have answers in a few days. Jenny declined any medication for the nausea until she knew what is was and a few more days was not long to wait.
Before she left the doctors office she caught him in a cold stare. “You are not to mention the tests to Rick. If need be that is my job.”
Dr Bradley physically shivered but tried hard not to show that Jenny had unnerved him. “Oh course Jenny but I am sure everything is fine, just a bug. A few of the local children have one.”
“I’ll be back to pick up the supplies after we have had lunch.”
As he sat in his now empty office the doctor felt like he had been dismissed. Jenny may have softened but she was still a damn tough woman.
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