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
Arriving on Australian shores in 1967, she made and lost a fortune, and now lives in the Whitsundays with her two dogs for companions.
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
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
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.
yelled after her, ‘Stop, Cheryl! I want to talk to you.’
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.’
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.
swung round as he finally caught hold of her. Noting his unsmiling face, she
relented. ‘Okay, let’s talk.’
wanted to discuss my parents’ arrival with you.’
uncertain of herself all of a sudden she asked: ‘Don’t tell me they don’t
want to meet me.’
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.
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 …’
do you mean “as things stand right
now”?’ she asked, rather impatiently.
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.
me – now,’ she demanded angrily.
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.
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:
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.’
he recalled his thoughts from last night after the call from his parents.
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.
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.
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.’
nothing to talk about. You’re married!’ she screamed back over her shoulder.
a moment, he wondered how she had so much air to spare for her voice during such
a fast run.
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
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
had reached the house. Lungs heaving, he plodded into the bedroom. ‘What are
you doing, Cheryl?’ he asked.
does it look like? I’m leaving.’
Cheryl, let’s talk about this,’ he pleaded.
is nothing to talk about,’ she declared. ‘You’re married.’
me explain, please.’
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.’
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.
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?’
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.
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.’
needn’t feel responsible for me at all. I’m a grown woman and quite capable
of looking after myself.’
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.
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.’
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
be ridiculous. It’s impossible, my wife’s a devout Catholic. Besides, I
don’t wish to divorce her.’
this Cheryl started to laugh hysterically. ‘What a hypocrite. You’re quite
wrong, though, about my not knowing anyone. My girlfriend lives in
pushed past him, trying to leave the house.
how the hell will you get there? Walk?’
must be a bus, somewhere. I saw one yesterday evening drive past here.’
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.’
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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
course there was the attraction of the outback and Ayers Rock for most of the
arriving tourists, but slowly they got to know
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
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.)
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.
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.
therefore had ample time to approach her. ‘Thanks for the parking spot,’ he
laughed. ‘That’s all right. You know you shouldn’t park there, but I
do you know I don’t belong here?’ he asked. ‘I might be new. It’s a big
place, you can’t know everyone.’
came to emergency with your friend two days ago. I was on duty then.’
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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
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
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.’
eventually charmed her into coming with him.
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.’
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
far, whenever he started something new it was always in
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
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.
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
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
missed her friend. So when Tom asked her to go up north with him, she rejoiced
in thoughts of going to
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
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
rigid in the car, staring at the landscape without seeing it, she promised to
put all this behind her. She would stay in
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