Font Size:  

She watched her tall, beautiful daughter finish her breakfast and wander off to take a shower, and was about to reach over to turn off the radio which had been playing in the background while they ate. Suddenly the announcer’s voice sounded loud in her ear.

‘Another local girl has been reported missing. She was last seen walking home from Bellbird Bay surf club. Anyone with information as to the recent movements of Rhana Sutton should contact police on…’ Cleo turned it off, her stomach dropping.What if it had been Hannah? How could she keep her safe if she didn’t live here anymore? How reliable were these two boys she was planning to live with? Couldthey keep her safe? How could she be sure?

Cleo’s stomach churned as she envisioned losing Hannah. Her parents had died, then Stan. Hannah was all she had left. A kaleidoscope of frightening images were flashing behind her eyes when the voice of her daughter drifted into the kitchen.

‘Mum, I’ve just got this weird message on Facebook from someone called Kerri-Ann. She says she’s my sister.’


‘You’re sure about this?’ Will Rankin dragged a hand through his sun-bleached hair and stared at his son who reminded him so much of himself at his age. He took a mouthful of coffee, his first that morning.

‘Yes. Dad. Nate and I have talked about it. And there’s this girl who’s keen to move in, too, so we’ll have to toe the line. She’s a teacher.’ Owen grimaced. ‘Just think, no more of my junk lying around, getting under your feet, and you’ll be free to bring people home if you want.’ He winked.

Will hid a grin. Owen knew perfectly well he’d never looked at another woman since Dee died of breast cancer, never wanted to, probably never would. ‘There is that,’ he said to humour him. Owen was the one who’d no doubt relish the freedom to bring girls home, something he didn’t dare do at his dad’s place. Owen tried to remember what it had been like to be twenty-one with raging hormones, when he and Martin Cooper had vied to be surf champion and to compete for the favours of the girls who flocked around them like butterflies.

‘So, when is this going to happen?’ He leant back in his chair. Although pretending to be annoyed, he was really pleased his son was showing signs of wanting to become independent. It was what Dee and he had hoped for him, and he was sorry she wasn’t there to see it, to celebrate it with him.

Will still missed her, but most days he managed to hide it by burying himself in his work and the charities he chose to support. When Dee was diagnosed with cancer only a year after they lost their older son, Evan, in a surfing accident, he thought he’d never recover. But life is strange. He had to put on a brave face for Owen who had lost both his beloved big brother and his mum, and in doing so, had found a way to go forward, to start his life over. It was a different life from what he’d anticipated, but he and Owen managed pretty well. It helped that the boy was a mad keen surfer, complementing Will’s business of the local surf school and board hire.

‘Nate and I are having a look at a couple of places today. Han wants to get settled before school starts.’

‘Who is she – this girl who’s prepared to put up with the two of you?’

‘Hannah Johansen. We were in years eleven and twelve together, then she went away to uni. Her mother runs that café in the garden centre.’

Will knew who Owen meant. He didn’t know the woman himself, but the garden centre and the adjoining café was owned by the sister of his old mate, Martin Cooper, and Nate McNeil was the son of Coop’s new partner. That was small towns for you. Everyone was connected in some way or other. It was one of the things he loved about Bellbird Bay, one of the reasons he’d never wanted to leave.

‘Does she know what she’s letting herself in for, sharing with the two of you?’ Will chuckled. Owen never did a hands-turn around the house, and he expected Nate wasn’t any better.

‘We’re not that bad, Dad, and it’ll be good to have a woman around the place again.’ He flushed realising what he’d said. ‘I mean…’

‘It’s okay, son. I miss her, too. But we’ve done okay, haven’t we?’

‘Sure, Dad. I didn’t mean anything. It’s just… Nate thought…’ His voice trailed off before he could say anything he’d regret and upset his dad.

Will grinned to himself. Owen was a good lad. It had been a rough time for both of them when first Evan, then Dee had passed away, but they’d got through it, and it had brought them closer together. There weren’t many fathers and sons who had such a strong relationship as they did. ‘Sure,’ he said. ‘What have you on today – apart from house hunting?’ he chuckled. ‘Sure you don’t want me to come with you?’

Owen shuddered. ‘No way, Dad. We’re seeing the real estate guy at eleven. Nate’s helping me out at the workshop till then, if you’re sure you don’t need him, then he has a shift at the surf club. Han and I are going there for lunch. You can join us if you like.’

‘Thanks, but I’ll pass, though I may see you there. I’m meeting Coop. He wants to discuss some shots of old surfers for some magazine article he’s been asked to illustrate. I had a journalist snooping around a couple of days ago. Old!’ he sniffed.

‘You’re not that old,’ Owen said, chuckling. ‘Who else has he in his sights?’

‘Not sure, but I don’t expect Ted Crawford will escape. He was a local champion a decade or so before me.’

‘Ted Crawford? He’s the one on the wall at the surf club, isn’t he?’

‘The mural. He is. Coop and I looked up to him. I think it was his example that forced us to keep going some days when things got tough.’

‘Well, give my regards to the other old guy.’ Owen ducked out of Will’s reach.

‘Watch it.You’renot too old for a cuff around the ear,’ Will warned.

Owen only laughed. He stuck the remaining piece of toast and vegemite into his mouth and pushed his chair back. ‘See you,’ he muttered.

Will shook his head and checked his iPad while he finished his own breakfast. He had his regular eight o’clock surf lesson, then a few individual ones booked this morning. If he hurried, he could catch a wave himself before any of his clients turned up. Despite what Owen had said about Nate, Will knew the lad would be there to help get boards hired out to any holidaymakers who needed them before he headed over to help Owen out.


Articles you may like