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Served with their beers, the pair moved to a table by the window to wait for their meals.

‘Any news?’ Martin asked. ‘You were going to have a chat to the guy you know on the council.’ He spun a beermat on its end.

‘Not really. He couldn’t tell me much, only that the proposal is with the development committee. I was at the beach yesterday. It only reinforced my opinion it would be a sin to put a resort there.’

‘The tourist bods wouldn’t agree with you,’ Martin sighed, ‘but Ted Crawford would. Saw him this morning and he bent my ear about it. He’s been volunteering with TurtleCare, and evidently Dolphin Beach is one of the spots the turtles come in to nest each year. He doesn’t know what the little creatures would do if they found themselves in the midst of the sort of thing that’s being planned.’

‘So, what’s the next step?’

‘Thought I could use some of my media contacts – get some shots of the beach in a few magazines, alert the local television channel. I made a few useful contacts when I had the exhibition atThe Bay Gallery.’

‘Good plan. And the kids might have the right idea. We should get the locals galvanised to protest.’

‘Thought you were against that sort of thing?’

‘I was… I am… But nothing else seems to be having an effect. And if, as you say, the turtle volunteers are worried too, then we can get all the environmentalist types on board, make a fuss. Council won’t like that. There’s an election coming up. It may sway them to reject the application.’

‘Here you are, gentlemen. Are you waiting for anything else?’ A pretty waitress delivered their meals.

Will shook his head. ‘No, thanks.’

‘Are you sure that’s all you want?’ Martin nodded to the bowl of salad sitting in front of Will. ‘Must have been a pretty goodbreakfast.’ He grinned, putting an emphasis on the word breakfast. ‘But you need to keep your strength up.’

‘Enough, Coop. I didn’t hassle you when you and Ailsa got together.’

‘Are you sure? I seem to recall…’ Martin winced as Will scowled at him. ‘Okay.’ He held up his hands defensively. ‘I’ll back off, but only if you’ll agree to bring her to dinner. Ailsa wants me to invite you both for a meal on the weekend. She’s talking about Saturday. What do you say?’ He grinned again.

‘Ailsa? You mean…?’

‘Women talk. Had you forgotten? She knows about you and Cleo seeing each other – for real.’

‘Give over.’ Will wasn’t sure how he felt about Cleo confiding in Ailsa. He’d thought she’d be more circumspect. Had he misjudged her?

‘So, dinner?’

‘I guess so.’

‘How’s the Joy Taylor thing?’

‘Don’t ask.’ Will groaned. ‘Now she’s bought one of Owen’s boards, she seems to think it gives her special access to lessons. She’s developed a tendency to pop up on the beach when I least expect it. Speaking of which…’ His voice trailed off as he caught sight of her entering the restaurant. ‘It’s time I was off.’

He rose and made a quick exit, managing to skirt the section of the room in which Joy was peering around, no doubt in the hope of seeing him – or was he being paranoid? Maybe the woman was just looking for a table.

As he headed outside, he was surprised to see several police cars heading along the road, sirens blaring. ‘What’s up?’ he asked a group of women who were standing in a huddle.

‘Another girl’s gone missing,’ one of them said with a shudder. ‘Didn’t arrive home last night after a late shift at the RSL. These things never used to happen in Bellbird Bay. It’s not the safe, peaceful town it used to be.’

And it’ll be even worse if the development goes ahead, Will thought as he made his way back to his van and unlocked it ready for his afternoon clients. They really needed to take a stand, and maybe he should seriously consider standing for council.


Delighted it was her day off work, Cleo set to making pancakes for breakfast. It was Shrove Tuesday, and it was wonderful to have a man to cook breakfast for, not to mention one who had filled her night with a passion she thought never to experience again.

She was dropping a spoonful of batter onto the pan when a pair of arms encircled her waist, and an unshaven chin nuzzled her neck. Cleo shivered with delight and, dropping the spoon on the surface of the stove, turned into Will’s arms. Since the previous Tuesday when they’d first gone to bed together, they’d spent the weekend with each other after dinner with Ailsa and Martin which had resulted in lots of good-humoured teasing. Then Will had surprised her by dropping by the previous evening with a bottle of wine and a weak excuse.

‘Happy?’ Will murmured, holding her tight and kissing the top of her head.


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