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‘Here she comes,’ Martin saidsotto voce. ‘Ready for her?’

Will grimaced, then forced a smile as Joy reached them.

‘Hello again, Will.’ She smiled in delight. ‘And who’s this?’ She batted her eyelashes at Martin, who almost choked.

Will stifled a grin. That would teach Martin. Maybe he wouldn’t be so quick to tease him in future. ‘This is a friend of mine, Martin Cooper.’

Martin held out his hand, but before he could say anything, Joy trilled, ‘Martin Cooper the travel photographer? Oh, I just love your work.’

Martin visibly cringed.

Will knew how much his friend hated this sort of sycophantic praise.

‘What are you drinking?’ he asked.

‘Oh, I think I’d like a glass of bubbly.’ She smiled at Nate who appeared amused by the entire conversation.

‘Coming up,’ he said with a grin.

They took their drinks out to the deck along with a menu for Joy. Will and Martin knew what they wanted to order. They always had the burger and chips when they ate at the club. Joy perused the menu carefully, then decided on a lamb salad with ‘dressing on the side, please’.

During the meal, the conversation was stilted on Will and Martin’s part, but Joy didn’t appear to notice as she chattered on about what she’d been doing in Bellbird Bay and how much she enjoyed surfing ‘with this lovely man’. She nudged Will who rolled his eyes.

Martin coughed, and Will knew he was trying not to laugh.

They had finished eating when the door from the club opened and another woman walked through onto the deck. Martin’s eyes were immediately drawn to her. ‘Ailsa,’ he said with obvious relief as she joined them.

Will gave a sigh of relief, too. ‘Hello, Ailsa.’

Joy’s eyes widened in surprise. She looked from Will to Martin and back again.

‘This is my partner, Ailsa McNeil,’ Martin said, grinning, and looking over her shoulder to where Nate was bringing over a glass of white wine.

‘Your wine, Mum,’ he said.

‘Thanks, sweetheart,’ Ailsa said, then turning to Martin added, ‘Sorry I didn’t manage to make lunch. How are you, Will?’

‘I’m good.’ Will was struck dumb. How had Martin managed this? He snuck a glance at Joy who was looking annoyed at the arrival of another woman.

‘I wanted to talk with you about this protest our respective sons are planning,’ she said to Will, and the conversation, which had been flagging, moved to a discussion about the threat of the eco resort, and how the youngsters could be persuaded out of their plan to mount a protest at the council meeting. It was a topic which left Joy completely out of the conversation and, before long, tired of being ignored, she rose to leave.

‘How did I do?’ Ailsa asked, as Joy sashayed her way across the deck and into the club.

‘You were brilliant, honey,’ Martin said, giving her a kiss on the cheek. ‘Don’t you think so, Will?’

‘You mean you engineered this?’

‘Called Ailsa as soon as I read your text. She was tied up but said she’d try to make it. Glad you did, sweetheart. It was getting a bit sticky.’

‘Thanks, Ailsa,’ Will said, bemused.

‘Any time, Will. She definitely has the hots for you, but I think you can do better than that, don’t you, sweetie?’ She looked up at Martin.

‘Don’t ask me. I’m no expert. But perhaps you can suggest how Will can manage to stay out of her clutches.’

‘Oh, it’s simple.’

‘It is?’ Will looked at Ailsa.