‘Wow,’ Ailsa exclaimed when Cleo had finished telling her what she’d discovered about Stan and Kerri-Ann. ‘It’s like something you’d read about. Have you heard anything more from this girl?’
‘No.’ Cleo shook her head. ‘But I’m not so naïve as to believe we’ve heard the last of her.’
‘Do you think she might just turn up here?’
Cleo looked around the room, then realised Ailsa didn’t actually mean here in the surf club, but in Bellbird Bay. She nodded. ‘That’s what I’m afraid of. Do you have a solution for me, too?’ she joked. But she was half in earnest.
‘Let me think about it.’
Will and Martin joined them before they could say any more.
‘Ready to go, ladies?’ Martin asked.
They nodded, and all four left the club together. Outside, they stood in a huddle for a few moments before Will said to Cleo, ‘How did you get here? Can I drive you home?’
Surprised, Cleo agreed. Unsure how much she’d be drinking, she’d taken a taxi and had intended to get home the same way. As it turned out, she’d only had two glasses of wine and had noted Will only drank one schooner of beer.
They didn’t talk much on the way home in Will’s van and, to her relief, Will didn’t suggest coming in with her, nor did he make an attempt at any show of affection. Beyond suggesting they should do it again sometime soon, he could have been the taxi driver she’d intended to drive her home.
So why, as she fitted her key into the lock and turned on the hall light in the empty house, did she feel a sense of disappointment?
Will savoured the salt spray on his skin and the scent of the ocean as he sat waiting for the next wave, all his worries erased from his mind in the familiar thrill of which he never tired. When he grew too old to surf, he might as well lie down and die, he thought, as he felt the swell and rose to meet it.
Last night had been good, better than good. It had been a bonus when Joy appeared to see him with Cleo. Ailsa had been delighted her plan was working. But Will had the suspicion Joy wouldn’t give up so easily.
He was right.
It being Saturday, he had several surf lessons booked – families who were visiting Bellbird Bay for the weekend and a young couple on their honeymoon who thought it would be romantic to learn to surf together. The family lessons were fun, though there was one boy who decided to repeatedly annoy his brother to the point where Will was tempted to box his ears. The hapless parents were watching, so he managed to stifle his irritation and continue as if nothing had happened, while sympathising with the victim.
The honeymoon couple were a different matter. They were so obviously in love, laughing at each other’s fails and high-fiving their successes; they were a pleasure to work with. It brought back memories of how it had been with him and Dee when they first met and in the early days of their marriage.
But, strangely – and for the first time – the memory of his life with Dee didn’t make Will sad. Instead, it was as if he was remembering the scenes of an old and well-loved movie, one which he liked to dip into from time to time and enjoy the warmth of the memory it prompted.
He was farewelling the couple and looking forward to taking a break, when a now familiar voice hailed him and, looking along the beach. His heart dropped when he saw Joy Taylor making her way towards him.
This morning, she was dressed more appropriately, wearing what, from this distance, appeared to be a loose shirt over one of those swimsuits many women chose to wear for his lessons. As she came closer, he could see how the red lycra outfit sheathed her body leaving nothing to the imagination. On the face of it, the garment was modest, reaching as it did right up to her neck, but it clung to every curve – all of which were in the right places. There was no doubt the woman had a good figure, but it wasn’t one which Will found attractive.
Unbidden, the image of Cleo Johansen forced itself into his mind. Now, there was a woman who would look good in such an outfit – and one he’d find attractive, too.
‘Good morning, Will.’ Joy’s voice brought him back to the present. ‘It’s time I had another lesson. You haven’t been answering your phone, so here I am.’
‘Joy.’ Will felt a shiver run through him.
‘It looks as if I’ve come at the right time.’ She gazed around the empty beach. ‘A surf lesson,’ she prompted, slipping her shirt off and smiling coyly.
‘A lesson. Right.’ Will knew he couldn’t refuse without being rude – and that wouldn’t do his business any good, nor would it get rid of the woman who was standing beaming at him, having now dropped her shirt to the sand.
The next hour was a nightmare for Will as Joy made every attempt to induce Will to touch her, and he did his best to ensure he made no physical contact. At the conclusion of the lesson, she pouted as she produced her card for Will to swipe.
‘Surely I deserve a free one by now?’ she asked, adding when Will ignored her, ‘Who was the woman you were with last night? You were with her, weren’t you?’
‘A friend,’ Will said, hoping she’d accept it and leave. It was almost lunchtime, and he had no intention of going to the surf club while she was hanging around.
Joy pouted again. She hesitated, but receiving no further comment from Will, tossed her head, plastered a smile on her face and said, ‘I’ll see you soon, Will,’ before walking off.
Will watched till she was out of sight, then closed up his van and headed to the club for a bite of lunch.