Font Size:  

‘No! And I don’t want you to contact her.’

‘How did she find you?’

‘It wouldn’t be difficult. When I was at Aunt Pat’s, I met some of her friends. I guess some of them may have known this girl or her mother.’ She shrugged. ‘It’s easy to find people on Facebook, Mum. But I don’t care how it happened. You’re not really thinking of contacting her, are you? I’d never forgive you if you did.’

Cleo wished she hadn’t brought up the subject. She should have known Hannah wouldn’t have changed her mind. Now it would be even more difficult to make contact.

‘How are you getting home?’ she asked to change the subject. ‘I can drive you.’

‘I’m walking. There haven’t been any more girls go missing. The last one was a false alarm. We can’t all keep living in fear of what might happen. I’ll be fine, Mum. You worry too much.’

‘It’s only because I love you, Han. I couldn’t bear it if anything happened to you.’

‘Nothing will. Thanks for dinner. I’ll just get those books I need.’ Hannah disappeared, only to reappear a few minutes later with an armful of books.

‘I picked up a few more than I intended,’ she said with a rueful grin. ‘Maybe I will accept a ride after all.’

Driving back home after dropping Hannah off, Cleo gazed out at the deserted streets, then up to the clear sky studded with stars, thankful she had come to Bellbird Bay. She had a nice home, a good job, a daughter who loved her – even though she often frustrated her – and had met a man for whom she was developing strong feelings. Life was good. What could possibly go wrong? But somewhere at the back of her mind was a small voice telling her not to count her chickens.


Will rehearsed his speech in front of the mirror. He hadn’t felt this nervous since he was in Year 12 and had been asked to address the entire school after winning his first surf championship. But then, everyone had been supporting him, eager to hear what he had to say.

Tonight, it would be different. Tonight, he was to address council, to speak on behalf of the surf carnival committee, to put forward his opposition to the development proposal for Dolphin Beach – and not everyone would be in agreement with him.

It was a week since he and Martin had met with one of the council members they knew to be sympathetic to their views, but Margaret Lawson had been reluctant to give them access to the actual plans. Her position on the development sub-committee meant she knew exactly what was proposed and she had described it to them. But, in order to demonstrate their opposition, and make their views public, she had suggested one of them address council.

They hadn’t needed to toss for it as Martin suggested. Will knew it was up to him. He was the one who’d stayed in town while Martin was still the guy who’d turned his back on Bellbird Bay, regardless of how famous he’d become in the meantime. Will took one more look in the mirror, decided his white shirt along with the tie and blue blazer he’d resurrected from the recesses of his wardrobe made him appear suitably respectable, and with a sigh, headed out to where his scooter was parked.

Martin was waiting for him at the council chambers, accompanied by Ailsa and – to his surprise – Cleo.

‘I didn’t expect to see you here,’ he said, accepting her hug. ‘You didn’t need to come.’

‘I did. You need all the support you can get. We can’t allow them to spoil that beautiful beach.’

Cleo’s words brought back the memory of their picnic on Dolphin Beach, their swim and everything that happened afterwards. It had been the turning point in their relationship. ‘Thanks,’ he said, returning her hug.

‘That’s enough, you guys.’

Flushed, Will and Cleo drew apart at Martin’s words. He was glad Cleo was here and, now he’d extricated himself from her hug, he could see there was quite a crowd making their way into the building. Among them, he recognised Bev Cooper, other members of the surf carnival committee, including Ted Crawford and John Baldwin, and several others whose faces he knew but had never spoken to. Martin had come to the party with his media contacts and the article in the local paper last week had done its work. Members of the TurtleCare group Ted Crawford belonged to were also there in force along with other local environmental groups.

Buoyed up by this show of support, Will entered the chambers with more confidence than when he’d left home.


‘Well done, mate!’ Martin clapped Will on the shoulder as they left the meeting to find themselves surrounded by supporters on the footpath.

‘Thanks, Coop.’ Will looked around for Cleo but couldn’t find her in the crush.

‘What’s next, Will?’ A burly member of the Bellbird Bay Environmental Lobby shook Will’s hand. ‘We’re all with you on this. Just tell us what to do.’

Will was embarrassed. It hadn’t been his intention to stir up this wave of support. But what else had he expected? He and Martin had discussed getting people galvanised. It seemed his speech to council had done just that. Now it appeared they viewed him as some sort of leader in the fight to save Dolphin Beach. He tried to ignore the swell of dissent which had also erupted at the conclusion of his speech. As he’d predicted, not everyone was opposed to the development. It would be a tough fight.

He managed to provide the groups surrounding him with enough to satisfy them by promising to hold a community meeting the following Tuesday, and they gradually drifted off leaving him with Martin, Ailsa, Bev – and Cleo. He was so pleased to see her smiling face, he almost forgot the others were there.

‘You were wonderful, Will,’ she said, beaming. ‘I was so proud of you.’

‘Thanks.’ He squeezed her hand, her praise meaning more to him than all the other comments he’d heard.