Return to Riversleigh
Shannon’s adrenaline-junkie husband gambled away their security and his life. She believes her twelve-year-old son’s memories border on hero worship. Shannon’s decisions, including leaving Auckland and returning to her hometown of Riversleigh, upset her son. The tension between them reaches the breaking point.
Carefree adventurer Luke returns to the farm he escaped from years ago to raise his deceased brother’s children. Developing an adventure park might restore something of his previous life. His friend, Jase McEwan, introduces him to Shannon who is in desperate need of employment and a place to stay.
Reluctant to associate with another risk-taker, Shannon finds Luke’s blasé attitude and claims of unlimited finances worrying. Even with Luke encouraging Thomas to escape Shannon’s “mollycoddling,” a friendship develops and soon deepens to something more. But will any chance of a lasting relationship be destroyed when Shannon discovers Luke is also a gambler?
Shannon leapt up from her chair and stomped across to the window. Why did he have to spoil everything? She gripped the windowsill and leaned her head against the cold glass. Why does emotion have to infringe on such a great working rapport? If I’m going to keep working here, I have to do something fast.
With no idea where Luke might be, but suspecting he’d be somewhere in the house with Amy, Shannon spun around and stormed down the hallway. She found him sitting in the lounge flicking through a farmers’ weekly magazine while Amy watched cartoons.
He’s using television as a babysitter to limit his responsibilities. Shannon’s lips tightened even more at his lack of parental care. She marched in and stood between him and the television screen. Her fingers rolled into fists at the lazy, relaxed expression on his face as he looked up.
“I told you the day I arrived here, Luke. I’ve come to work for you, not to provide you with some plaything whenever you might become bored. If you’re unwilling to accept this, you can have my resignation.”
With a hasty glance toward his niece, Luke jumped to his feet. “Jeez, Shannon.” He rubbed an agitated hand around his neck. “It was only a kiss.”
Only a kiss? More an earthquake under my feet.
Her expression must have blackened as he thrust up a hand. “Okay, okay, whatever you say. I sure as hell don’t want your damned resignation.”
Shannon continued to glare at him for some moments before she turned and stomped across to the door. Remembering then what had started this angst, she paused. Without taking time to consider her words, she snarled across at him, “And keep away from my son.”
She stormed back to the office, her legs shaking as she dropped into her chair. Her arms sneaked around her and held her tight as a shiver ran through her. At her final shot his expression had changed from what she deduced as embarrassment to intense anger.
Thank God it’s Friday. I can survive until four o’clock. Shannon’s mind rushed through possible ways to avoid Luke for the next few days. Thomas and I can go away for the weekend.
On Marcia’s return, Shannon overheard Luke tell his aunt he’d be gone for the rest of the day. Shannon’s angry breath rushed from her as she slumped in her chair. She closed her eyes and slowly allowed her anger to drain away, leaving her oddly empty.
I need some space. She twirled her chair around and stared out the window toward the Takitimus. After a couple of days away surely things between her and Luke could return to normal.
After a dismal weekend with Johnny and his family, where Thomas made no effort to be polite, let alone join in with any of the family, Shannon reluctantly reported for work on Monday morning.
Luke was already in the office. A glance at the chaotic state of his desk suggested he had been there for some time.
He leapt to his feet the second she entered the room. “Are we talking, or still fighting?”
Shannon realized his woebegone expression was almost wistful as she read the worry in his eyes. She swallowed, and cleared her throat before words would emerge from her mouth. I’ve had a lousy weekend worrying about this moment. “I guess we cleared up our little disagreement on Friday.”