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SINS OF THE FATHERS

Cheree had been led to believe that her birth mother died giving life to her and that her father was a surgeon in North Queensland .  

On finding out that her father is also her lover’s father, her life turns upside down.  

Her life is once again thrown into turmoil when she finds out that she’s not whom she thinks she is at all. A complete stranger? She wonders who is she? Where does she come from? What happened?  

Do her adopted parents know the answers to her questions? If so why have they hidden all this from her?

In Store Price: $AU29.95 
Online Price:   $AU28.95

ISBN:  1 921118 80 6
Format: Paperback
Number of pages: 306
Genre: Fiction

 

 


Author: Natasha U. Jochim
Publisher: Zeus Publications
Date Published: 2006
Language: English

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About the author    

Born in 1943 into a country in turmoil and a family in even greater chaos, Natasha suffered severe abuse at the hands of both her parents, and consequently left home early.  

She wanted to become a writer but became a chef instead, believing one has to eat.  

She had two very short-lived marriages and three children, enjoying a colourful and interesting life.  

Arriving on Australian shores in 1967, she made and lost a fortune, and now lives in the Whitsundays with her two dogs for companions.

Chapter 1

1970      

Cheryl and Tom emerged from the sea after their early morning swim and ran along the beach. The sun rose above the sea, enhancing the bright blue sky with a touch of pink. The odd small cloud similar to a powder puff sailed along making strange patterns high above. The sandy beach stretched endlessly before them. In the distance the mangroves could be seen; the whole scenery was enclosed by green hills. The foliage on those hills was dense and lush. An absolutely perfect Queensland morning.

Cheryl, who had worked night shift for many months before coming here, promised herself to enjoy every minute of this idyll. Her olive skin glistened with drops of water and her long black hair tossed behind her in the breeze as she ran along the sand.

Tom ran a few paces behind. He was a tall man with a perfectly tanned body, his eyes a piercing blue in contrast to her brown eyes. His blond hair was bleached on top to an even lighter shade, from constant exposure to the sun. He had a sensuous face and a large mouth with full lips. His chin didn’t protrude as often happens with large mouths; rather it receded showing a certain weakness. He chased after her, trying to reach her with outstretched arms. She only laughed and increased her speed.

He yelled after her, ‘Stop, Cheryl! I want to talk to you.’

Slowing and looking back over her shoulder at him she replied, ‘No serious talking now. We just got here and I for one want to enjoy this morning. What’s the matter with you? It’s our holiday. Didn’t you tell me last night your parents don’t arrive till late tonight? That’s the time to be serious.’

Cheryl had awoken and got straight out of bed to go for a swim. When Tom finally awoke he had found her gone. He wanted to talk to her on this very morning; as a matter of fact he had searched all night for the right words to tell her and now went out after her. When he found her frolicking in the water he could do nothing else but join her.

She swung round as he finally caught hold of her. Noting his unsmiling face, she relented. ‘Okay, let’s talk.’

‘I wanted to discuss my parents’ arrival with you.’

Feeling uncertain of herself all of a sudden she asked: ‘Don’t tell me they don’t want to meet me.’

She felt inadequate for some unexplainable reason; meeting his parents might not go down as well as she imagined. After all she was a relative unknown. Tom was a well-known wealthy industrialist and entrepreneur. He caressed her face with his hands, kissing her lightly on the forehead and cheeks. It had been such a perfect night and now the promise of an even more perfect morning. He hated the thought of having to spoil it. They woke each other several times during the night with caresses which ended in frenzied love-making. Cheryl, waking up entangled in his arms, had slowly slid out of the bed so not to wake him and decided to go for a swim to invigorate herself in this beautiful cool sea.

‘I need to explain something to you. I should’ve done so a long time ago. If things were different, they would love you. But as things stand right now …’

‘What do you mean “as things stand right now”?’ she asked, rather impatiently.

He took her hand into his and they eased their pace toward the house. She repeated the question. He didn’t answer but continued to walk. She withdrew her hand from his and stopped walking.

‘Tell me – now,’ she demanded angrily.

He wanted to take her hand again. She wouldn’t respond, just stood there demanding an answer. If there were to be problems with his parents she’d rather know now.

Tom stood still in front of her, breathed deeply and looked at her with his shoulders hanging as if in defeat. Unable to delay the inevitable he said: ‘I’m married.’

Seeing her face change as comprehension dawned, he continued hurriedly, ‘They know my marriage isn’t exactly the happiest of unions but still they wouldn’t approve of us living here together. I simply had no idea they’d come up now. Otherwise I wouldn’t asked you to come too, you could have waited till later and followed me then.’

Again he recalled his thoughts from last night after the call from his parents.

Why didn’t I talk to her then? Because he hated confrontation of any kind, it always made him run. It had been such a romantic night and he wasn’t going to spoil that. It might put a damper on his plans. By the time his parents called he had poured the champagne and they both were in various states of undress. If only he could make her understand that. Understand why he delayed his confession. He wanted to elaborate now but couldn’t find the right words. By now, with his parents arriving tonight, there simply was no time to put off the inevitable any longer.

He cringed at the shock he saw on her face. He tried to take her hand again. She wrenched herself free from his grasp and raced to the house. He called after her but she continued to run. He tried to catch up. That wasn’t possible; she used to be a runner in the school sports team.

He on the other hand only had the look of a perfect body. High, soft living, sitting in the office without any exercise, had made him soft and out of condition. He called, ‘Cheryl! Stop, please. We have to talk about this.’

‘There’s nothing to talk about. You’re married!’ she screamed back over her shoulder.

For a moment, he wondered how she had so much air to spare for her voice during such a fast run.

Keeping a slower pace behind her, he cursed himself again for not bringing up the subject earlier. At least introduced it in a different manner. Should he have told her before they arrived here? Last night, when his parents announced their imminent appearance, even if it was only for a few short days, he knew his time had run out. Why now? he asked himself. Just as things were going so well!

In the meantime, Cheryl reached the house. On entering the bedroom, she hauled her suitcase out of the wardrobe then threw her clothes and toiletries, which she had only unpacked the day before, into it haphazardly. Tears were streaming down her cheeks.

Tom had reached the house. Lungs heaving, he plodded into the bedroom. ‘What are you doing, Cheryl?’ he asked.

‘What does it look like? I’m leaving.’

‘Look, Cheryl, let’s talk about this,’ he pleaded.

‘There is nothing to talk about,’ she declared. ‘You’re married.’

‘Let me explain, please.’

‘Explain what? I understood you the first time. No explanation can change the fact that you’re married. And now, if you please, I’m packing.’

He stared at her, then pleaded, ‘I really thought you knew. Otherwise I would’ve told you earlier. For Pete’s sake, listen to me. After all, your brother-in-law works for me, he might have said something to you about my marital state. You yourself told me after we met that you’ve seen my picture in some magazine attending this art show or whatever. My wife must have been somewhere nearby. So I really thought you knew,’ he repeated.

‘Well, now you know I didn’t. And besides, what were your plans? I come here to keep your bed warm, while the little wife waits at home? Did you really think I’d find a clandestine relationship acceptable? Just what was your plan?’

He found the expression ‘little wife’ amusing, although he didn’t say so. It all seemed so pointless now. Her case packed, she struggled to shut it. He moved towards her, trying to wrench it out of her hand.

‘Look, Cheryl, please sit down and talk about this, be reasonable. Besides, you’re not even properly dressed. Or did you want to go out like that, in your bikini? Look, we just arrived here. Since I asked you to come north with me, I can’t let you leave just like that. I feel responsible for you.’

‘You needn’t feel responsible for me at all. I’m a grown woman and quite capable of looking after myself.’

With that she opened her case to select a dress. Having done so, she was tempted to ask him to leave the bedroom while she dressed. She realised that would be hypocritical. They had explored each other’s bodies so many times in so many ways. So she dressed in front of him.

Tom tried reasoning with her again. ‘Where are you going, Cheryl? You don’t know a soul up here. I wish you’d listen to me. We need to talk about this now, we can make plans for later. Nothing’s changed, you know. I still want to spend my time up here with you. Once we work out what to do I can drive you to a hotel where you could stay until my parents have gone home again.’

‘You must be bloody joking. You want me to wait somewhere till your parents have gone? And what else would you like to talk about? Are you thinking of a divorce?’

‘Don’t be ridiculous. It’s impossible, my wife’s a devout Catholic. Besides, I don’t wish to divorce her.’

At this Cheryl started to laugh hysterically. ‘What a hypocrite. You’re quite wrong, though, about my not knowing anyone. My girlfriend lives in Brisbane , I’ll visit her. Now, if you please.’

She pushed past him, trying to leave the house.

‘And how the hell will you get there? Walk?’

‘There must be a bus, somewhere. I saw one yesterday evening drive past here.’

‘There’s no public transport here whatsoever. You must have seen a tourist bus. They charter them for sightseers on tour. But if you insist on leaving, I’ll drive you to your girlfriend’s. Then, in a few days, when you’ve had time to think it over and my parents have gone back, I’ll come back for you.’

She wanted to say, don’t bother, but thought better of it. It would be stupid trying to hitch a ride on such an isolated road or even ring a taxi.

Seeing she was resolute he dressed and, taking her case from her, they walked out together. He started the engine of his hire car to drive her to Brisbane . Their holiday house was well beyond the city, on a lonely spot near the beach. It was a typical Queenslander with a wrap-around verandah and partly hidden by trees. Ideal for secluded holidays, which was what Tom had in mind. The house belonged to his family. They in turn had inherited it from a cousin of his father who died years ago without having had children of his own or ever having been married.

Both were silent during the long drive, each wrapped up in their own thoughts. Neither of them took notice of the lush green surroundings, or the occasional glimpse of the sea visible from the winding road. They never saw the sea changing its colour from light green to dark blue. Nor did they notice the cottages along the road, which were mostly inhabited by fishermen and their families. There were little stands in front of many houses, offering locally produced vegetables, fruits, and some even offered fresh fish and prawns kept in cooling boxes. It was a gourmet’s delight just driving along here, but food was not on their minds.

Tom thought how different his life had been, only four short months ago, before he met her. He remembered the night he first saw her. It was a bucks’ night for Alex, his best friend. Alex and he went to school together, then university. After that, Alex worked for his father. Now he managed the plastics factory in Newport , a suburb of Melbourne .

Tom and his wife had their office there, too. Only Tom’s wife, Beatrice, actually worked there. Tom had branched out into other things so he visited his office only occasionally. First he opened a restaurant then an exclusive boutique. Later he became partner in an art gallery. He was a restless man. After starting something new, he would leave it to a manager to run the place.

Now he wanted to go to the Whitsundays to open a new resort. As well as the beach house, his father had inherited an old pub in the city of Brisbane , owning the building which housed the pub outright. The family, mainly Beatrice, and Alex decided after much discussion to branch into tourism, selling the house and pub and creating something at the higher end of that trade. It seemed to be still very much in its infancy, but now more and more tourists were evidently arriving on Australian shores.

Of course there was the attraction of the outback and Ayers Rock for most of the arriving tourists, but slowly they got to know Queensland too, with its beautiful beaches and the still abundant rainforest. Then there was the Great Barrier Reef, one of Queensland ’s main and most beautiful attractions. That was the place where Tom really wanted to go, providing the right spot was found. There was an absolute boom on the Sunshine Coast , with high-rise hotels being built and whole shopping malls erected almost overnight. Tom didn’t like it there, it was too built up, too overpopulated. Besides those places were mainly dealing with the Japanese tourists right now and Tom wanted to cater for the rich Europeans. Tom and Beatrice convinced the family to try the Whitsundays instead.

So, here they were, bucks’ night and nowhere to go, or so someone said in jest. They had hired the backroom of one of the better pubs, had their exotic dancer and the whole lot that goes with bucks’ nights. It all finished about one o’clock and now they lingered on the street, none of them wanting to go home. Alex, Tom and a few other buddies were hanging about in King Street at almost 2.00am and yet they still were ready to party. Alex suggested a popular nightclub and everyone followed the suggestion.

Alex walked on ahead by himself. All of a sudden he was attacked. It happened so fast nobody saw the culprit. Fact was, Alex now lay on the pavement, bleeding profusely. An ambulance arrived. Tom had no idea who called them. Tom insisted on going with him to the hospital. When they arrived he noted how pretty the nurse was in the emergency section; she didn’t tarry much longer in his mind. (Tom always noticed a pretty face.)

Two days later when they almost collided in the parking lot, he noticed her again. It was early morning. He had been on his way to collect Alex, whose injuries weren’t that serious after all, and was able to be discharged in time for his wedding to Susan.

Cheryl smiled at him when he drove his car into the spot just vacated by hers. Her car spluttered and coughed for a few seconds, then stopped altogether. Now it was motionless. Cheryl got out and stood beside it.

He therefore had ample time to approach her. ‘Thanks for the parking spot,’ he said.

She laughed. ‘That’s all right. You know you shouldn’t park there, but I won’t tell.’

‘How do you know I don’t belong here?’ he asked. ‘I might be new. It’s a big place, you can’t know everyone.’

‘You came to emergency with your friend two days ago. I was on duty then.’

He was flattered she remembered. She laughed again. That’s when he asked her for a drink at a more auspicious time and she accepted. He then started her car for her. That’s how it all began. After that, they saw each other regularly.

Later on in the relationship, Cheryl told him her brother-in-law, Bob Brown, worked for him. Tom wasn’t impressed. Of course he didn’t tell her that. Bob was the union representative at the plastics factory and Tom considered him a troublemaker. (Not that he told her any of that either.)

Somehow he always suspected she must know he was married but tried to ignore it. For one he never saw her at weekends. Then, she saw his picture in a magazine, or so she told him. He was named as a sponsor for a new art gallery. Its opening rated a mention in a women’s magazine. It was weeks later that he finally realised she didn’t know his marital state. Obviously his wife wasn’t in the picture she’d seen. The article didn’t even mention a wife but he didn’t know that. He made a point of not reading anything written about himself. Ever. It had not occurred to him that since Cheryl worked most weekends, she was far too busy to notice the absence of his visits or calls.

He wanted to tell her the truth at that time. But how? By now, he thought he was in love with her, or was it lust? He certainly had no intention of breaking it off with her. It suited him too much. When he thought about his wife he believed he loved her, Beatrice, too. Loved her very much even though she could be cold and distant at times. It was a different kind of love he felt for his wife, more a dependency on his part. Only he wasn’t aware of it; analysing his feelings never entered his mind.

Love with Cheryl was different, full of excitement, warmth and bursting with sex appeal. He enjoyed the secrecy of it, the forbidden fruit. Beatrice, he realised soon enough, did everything for and with a purpose. Even her sexuality was used for a purpose. She tried to be seductive at times, mostly when it suited her. Her sexual exploits felt like they came out of a book. How to keep your husband happy and don’t let him stray. It didn’t always work for him and at times he was amused by it. Otherwise she had a sharp mind. Running the house and office with the utmost efficiency, nothing was ever left to chance. Tom admired this trait in her. Only occasionally did he get the sneaky feeling she married him because of his money, and the power of his position. It didn’t really worry him if this was so. She satisfied his ego and therefore fulfilled her end of the bargain he considered a marriage. Beatrice was incredibly beautiful. Hers was a calm and cool beauty. Men admired Beatrice’s elegance, her style and poise, assuming there was a fire underlaying her cool exterior. That wasn’t the case at all, although only Tom knew that.

Cheryl was so totally different. Warm, receptive and sexy with large brown eyes, she had a high forehead, a full mouth with generous lips, an olive complexion and long black hair. There was something classical yet exotic about her beauty. Apart from having a very active sex drive she seemed devoted to her nursing job. She wasn’t interested in business, money, power, politics or anything like it. She didn’t even sound overly impressed by his position or finances. She never accepted or asked for much. When Tom finally made plans to leave Melbourne , he had asked her to come along. He lovingly described his plans to he to develop a resort. They would have a medical centre of some kind, most certainly. Of course, they needed nurses and other staff.

‘Picture yourself in paradise,’ he had said, trying to coax her. ‘Sunshine all year round. You can swim, see all the other islands, whales, dolphins; it’s all one big continuous holiday.’

He eventually charmed her into coming with him.

‘Your working in Emergency would bring so much experience to the place. It’s just what we need for a resort, someone familiar with accidents. You’ll have the best conditions, anything you ask for.’

So she came with him. Tom’s father had wanted to sell this holiday house quite a few years ago, when Tom was still young. Now it seemed a blessing he never did. From the sale of the house and pub they would finance part of their plans. And from that very house Tom wanted to drive north along the coast, exploring all the small towns on the way, but mainly having a look at the islands along the Great Barrier Reef before making a decision where they would start their resort. At the time of planning he didn’t actually realised that driving from Brisbane along the coast to the Whitsundays would be an extremely long drive. He’d been to Sydney , Adelaide and of course Brisbane by plane, but never further north. Most of his other travels took him to Europe and some of the Asian countries. Although born in Australia , distance wasn’t something he thought about, or realised the expanse of it. It hadn’t occurred to him to visit the outback, or anywhere he couldn’t get to in the comfort of a large plane.

So far, whenever he started something new it was always in Melbourne . A place where you could drive around to where you needed to be within an hour, unless there were traffic delays.

He was disappointed when he first asked his wife to come with him and she declined. She insisted that she was too busy in the company. Then there was their son, Nathaniel, whom she didn’t want to uproot, or so she explained. Of course he could have gone on his own. He was never short of female company; his good looks ensured that.

Should he ask Cheryl? he wondered to himself at the time. Would she imagine their relationship had become serious if he did? No, he thought, she was easygoing, so undemanding. First, they would holiday for a week or so, then he’d look around for what he wanted and thought suitable. She could have the choice of working somewhere up north for a time in another medical centre, until he was ready with his resort. Or if she wanted an extended holiday, well, he didn’t mind if she decided to indulge all her time with him.

They arrived by plane the day before, shortly after his father rang to say he and Tom’s mother were coming for a short rest too. He should have told Cheryl about himself straight after that call. Then he’d spoil the romantic night. He should have spoken, the minute he realised she presumed him to be single. Then she might not come, he told himself. Now she was going away, anyway. He hoped she would see reason and wait for him to pick her up again in a few days. He was sure she loved him enough to be convinced to do so. There was no reason for them not to be together up here, his wife being out of the way in Melbourne .

His mind lingered on to his wife. Beatrice and he had met at university many years ago. She was clever, ambitious and good looking. Tall, like him, blonde with blue eyes that sometimes took you seriously, sometimes looked at you sarcastically but rarely with a smile. She didn’t chase him. Most of the time she barely noticed him. Since he was used to being noticed, it became a challenge. So, he ask her for a date, unsuccessfully at first, then she finally relented.

Later he discovered she wasn’t at all promiscuous. Perversely, that excited him more. It wasn’t until after they married, he was brought to realise that she simply didn’t enjoy sex. To her sex was something you used to achieve or fulfil a purpose, not something you enjoyed. He realised that too soon into their marriage. Still, he loved the way she represented him. The company, the family. He especially liked the envious looks in other men’s eyes. His sexual needs were bound to be met elsewhere.

Even in different circumstances, he realised, he would always be unfaithful. He enjoyed the pleasure of the chase and the eventual conquest too much. Not until Cheryl came into his life did he know how much he missed out on the passionate intimacy of physical love that lasted a bit longer than a few days. Casual affairs didn’t always fulfil these rosier needs. Of course he still played around. Even with Cheryl in his life. These chance encounters happened less though.

He never considered a divorce after he met Cheryl. Both he and his wife came from Irish Catholic stock. Not that either of them took their religious beliefs very seriously. There just had never been a divorce in his family. Besides, it would be far too costly. And Beatrice, well, she complemented him, and the company. She was the personification of the ‘perfect wife’, at least as he visualised it in his mind. Besides, she was simply irreplaceable to all of them. Her drive, her ideas − she was a bloody miracle worker in his eyes and his parents’. Even Alex got on well with her. Only Susan, Alex’s wife, didn’t like her. As Susan didn’t work at the office, or anywhere in the company, they didn’t have to communicate too often, so Susan’s antipathy was not a problem.

It was actually Beatrice who first thought of buying a resort. It was also Beatrice who suggested Tom go north. Tom, and not Patrick, should go. Patrick wanted to as Tom was disinclined about the prospect at the beginning. Slowly, after she told him he would be going by himself, he got over his disappointment about her not accompanying him and began to warm to the idea of being a free man once more, even if only for a short time. He wasn’t totally free, of course, with Cheryl around. Not living with his wife would make enough difference.

He stole a glance at Cheryl’s face; she was looking straight ahead. Her mouth was set in a pinched line. Eyes still swollen and red from crying. He wanted to reach out. As he moved his hand toward her, she moved for the car door. I certainly screwed that up! He didn’t lose hope, though. The relationship could be salvaged, he thought confidently, being the eternal optimist.

Cheryl’s thoughts were also on the day they’d met. She remembered the day or rather, the night, so well. She was a nurse at the Emergency entrance. Tom’s good looks bowled her over that night. It impressed her that, despite his friend being splattered in blood, Tom ministered to him. Held onto him. Too concerned and protective to worry about what the blood was doing to his clothes. She noticed they were very expensive clothes. She thought he must be his brother or very good friend.

Seeing him again in the car park some days later, she was flattered when he came up to her and asked her out for a drink. Only after they met for drinks did she realise who he was, namely, Bob’s boss, Tom O’Connor. She’d only moved out of her sister Margaret and brother-in-law Bob’s place the week before. Not in a pink fit would she have been able to take Tom back there. Bob mentioned him a few times. Didn’t seem to like him. So Tom never got a mention from her to Margaret or Bob.

In hindsight, she should she have done so. At least she would have known then that he was married. How stupid of her not to realise earlier. Tom never took her anywhere near his place of residence. As a matter of fact, he mostly came to visit her in her little flat. He always claimed to feel comfortable there. He brought pizzas or Chinese take-away, sometimes he brought things she hadn’t even heard of, from a French restaurant or a delicatessen, and he always brought very good wine. So when he asked her to come with him to Queensland she thought the relationship would become serious. How foolish of her.

She had rung her girlfriend Jennifer Palmer only last week to announce her arrival. They had trained together, years ago. Jennifer married almost immediately after completing their nursing course. She had two little children by the time her husband died by accident on a building site. Even with that grim association, Jennifer stayed on in Melbourne . She could go back to work if Margaret did the babysitting. That was until Jennifer’s mother was diagnosed with MS. Now Jennifer had had to pack up after all and move back to Brisbane to be with her afflicted mother.

Cheryl missed her friend. So when Tom asked her to go up north with him, she rejoiced in thoughts of going to Brisbane and being near her best friend even for a short time. She knew Jennifer expected her within the next few days. Cheryl had rung to say she was bringing a friend, although she did not mentioned a name. She wanted it to be a surprise. Well, it would be a surprise all right.

She would have to tell Jennifer the truth, only her, no one else. She could never confess any of this to her sister or her sister’s husband. Bob would lose it and do something stupid with his volatile temper. His opinion of the O’Connor family was always unsavoury. Now he was primed to voice more than just that opinion.

How very foolish I’ve been, she thought. Well, that chapter in her young life had closed. Next time I ask! Not that she intended to have a next time soon, she simply hurt to much.

Sitting rigid in the car, staring at the landscape without seeing it, she promised to put all this behind her. She would stay in Brisbane , at least for a year. It just wouldn’t do to go back now. Her sister had the habit of asking pointed, searching questions.

                  

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