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Breaking Point

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Title: Breaking Point

Category: Long Fic

Main Characters: Kane, Kirsty, Dani

Rating: T (D, A)

Genre: Drama/Romance

Summary: When Dani Sutherland’s attacker Kane Phillips returns to Summer Bay to look after his widowed aunt, emotions in the town run sky high...

This is the very first H&A fic I ever wrote so some of the characters are from way back. When I wrote it, Kane hadn’t returned for his second stint and I felt the writers hadn’t dealt very sympathetically with Dani’s emotional trauma after the rape - so I decided to write how I thought she would react. Oh, and Kirsty and Jade were still twins back then! Hope you enjoy reading. There are a few shocks... :ph34r:

chapter 1

Dani Sutherland woke screaming from yet another nightmare. She stared warily round the darkened room, breathless, beads of sweat on her forehead, clenching and unclenching her fists the way her counsellor had taught her. Clara Denton was a nice lady, she reflected, as she inhaled deeply. Flynn had recommended her.

"It must be a woman, Flynn," Dani had said, wishing she could stop trembling. "And there are...things I can't talk to Mum about."

Dr Denton was a plump, middle-aged woman with two grown-up children and a new baby granddaughter. At first Dani thought she was too nice to be of any help, but she was soon proved wrong. The teenager found herself pouring out the whole story on her initial consultation, from the spark she'd felt on meeting Kane at the Drop-in Centre, long before it had all happened, to now he'd returned to the Bay to look after his aunt. At least, she thought she'd told the whole story.

They were sitting opposite each other without any desk to set barriers and Clara took both Dani's hands in hers.

"And now there are so many emotions, dear, constantly churning around inside you, that you can't deal with or explain?" she said gently. "You love Kirsty so much and want her to be happy yet you feel betrayed...Kane did a terrible thing yet he saved your Mum's life... always anger, confusion, guilt, hate, fear..."

Dani nodded through her veil of tears, sobbing.

She was crying again now and trying so hard to calm herself and do as Clara said when Kane's image wouldn't leave her mind - picture him as he was the last time she'd seen him, outside Summer Bay Hospital, pushing his aunt in the wheelchair, guiltily stammering out an apology. But it was no use. All she could see was how Kane looked that terrible, terrible day.


Kirsty listened anxiously from the bedroom next door. The scream hadn't woken her. She'd already been awake, worrying about Dani. She longed to comfort her but her older sister was adamant she wanted to deal with the nightmares by herself, finding her own inner strength.

Kirsty felt so alone, so responsible for Dani tonight. She looked across at her twin's empty bed. Jade was spending the weekend with a friend from school. Mum and Dad had gone to a day-time high school reunion in their childhood city and though they'd said they'd be back by ten they were now over an hour late. Since Kane's return they were never, ever late back from anywhere. That was worrying too, though it was her parents, not Kane, she was worried about. She had told them, over and over, he wasn't going to hurt anyone, but they'd still had strong words with her about how she was to have no contact with him and had even been down to Yabbie Creek to warn Kane off. They needn't have worried. The young couple had already decided themselves to do the right thing by everyone.

Flynn had passed her Kane's letter. He had one too, from Kane to Mr and Mrs Sutherland, though they didn't know it yet. Kirsty's envelope was unsealed.

"No more secrets," Flynn had said. "Kane asked me to read the letter first, Kirsty, so I know no-one's snuck round behind anyone's back. I'm sorry, but it's the way it has to be."

Kirsty had nodded, her heart thudding, and taken Kane’s letter down by the rockpool to read. Kane's Auntie Rose had been in a bad car accident. She dreaded spending months in hospital and had asked him if he could return to look after her till she was well enough to cope on her own. He felt he owed her. Of course he ached to see Kirsty again, but he didn't want to do any more damage and split up the Sutherland family and Kirsty. She needed her family. He knew they hated him, but they were good people and would always look out for her.

Kirsty wept as she'd never wept before that day alone by the rockpool. She had written back, leaving the letter open for Flynn as Kane had done. She loved Kane, she always would, but she didn't want to hurt Dani anymore either. She agreed they could never meet.

But the hospital was in Summer Bay and once Kane and Kirsty had met, while she was walking with Dani. They'd done no more than exchange glances. Kane had said sorry to Dani, for meeting, but only nodded to Kirsty before turning the wheelchair. She knew from his eyes that his heart was breaking as much as her own.


Kane Phillips sat on the porch in the back garden, taking in the cool night air, gazing up at the stars, thinking of Kirsty and wishing so much he could be with her. But this unbearable aching round his heart was the price he would always pay for what he did to Dani. To never again hold the girl he loved in his arms, to never share another kiss or just stroll wordlessly along the beach, together even in their silence. His life had never been easy. It seemed it never would be.

If Rhys Sutherland thought being a full-time carer was fun he was a total jerk. How the hell he'd kept his cool the day Rhys had come to the house shooting his mouth off he'd never know. He'd done everything by the book, writing to let them know why he was coming back, explaining he'd keep well out of the way of the family, he was here only until his aunt was better.

But Rhys had been like a madman. Even Shelley, waiting in the car, had squirmed. And then Shelley too, just before they'd left, had stared at him with undisguised hatred and disgust. Somehow that had wound him up even more than Rhys's belligerence. It was then the slow rage must have begun burning inside him, growing each time someone who knew his past made a remark or gave him a contemptuous look. He knew he deserved some kind of payback but...

"Kane! Kane, I need my medication! Where are you? Kane!"

His aunt had been in a lot of pain today and was cranky.

"Yeh, yeh, I'm just outside." He smashed his fist against the wall as he turned indoors. Five minutes time out, that was all he'd wanted, and he couldn't even get that.

"Are you...are you alright?" she asked.

He drew in a breath. She looked scared, like the times he remembered if his Dad had been drinking when she'd come to take him out when he was little.

"Yeh, sure. Just a headache. I'll get you your pills."

He got her to bed and asleep, but though he was exhausted himself, he couldn't rest. He was like a coiled spring. He needed a break but who the hell could he even talk to when everyone in Summer Bay despised him? Maybe Flynn? This anger was scaring him now because he hadn't felt like this since... well, he didn't want to think about his life before Kirsty.

He checked on Auntie Rose, making sure her specially adapted phone was close enough for her to simply punch in the single digit that would immediately connect her to his mobile, then made his way to the Drop-in Centre. Lights were blazing and, judging by all the yelling and noise, there was a particularly nasty fight going on. He could see Flynn's silhouette through the frosted window. He was remonstrating with someone but the other person was having none of it. Kane knew he had no chance of seeing him tonight. Yet his head was thudding fit to burst.

He had to find some way to release this pent-up anger, he thought, looking down towards the Sutherland's caravan park.

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I feel Home and Away tried to brush over Dani's rape, and tried to air brush it out of the viewers' minds

Ha, I know the reviewers are supposed to comment on the authors not the other way round but I LOVE that description! :D

Thanks for your nice reviews, guys. Kat, after I finish Sally Called! I doubt I'll be writing any more fanfics - I want to get back to original fiction - so I guess this, the first fanfic I ever wrote, is kind of like my swan song. :P

Chapter 2

Rose Phillips listened as the door slammed downstairs. She didn't know why she had feigned sleep tonight. Maybe it was because she felt her nephew needed to get out of the house for a while. Maybe it was because for a moment Kane had looked so much like his father. All she knew was that for the first time in her life she had been afraid of him. It had only lasted a fleeting second, that look in his eyes, but it had been enough to bring back so many unpleasant memories.

She realised she was shivering.


Hesitantly, Kirsty pushed open the door.

"Dani...?" she whispered uncertainly.

"I'm okay!" Dani spoke irritably. "Kirsty, I told you, I told everyone! I need to be by myself."

"But I can't stand seeing you like this." Kirsty’s voice was trembling.

She sat on the edge of the bed, wishing she could do or say something to make Dani's pain go away. She was hurting too, not just for Dani but for Kane too. Kane had so much emotional baggage from his dysfunctional family, yet take the time and patience to dig deeper and you found someone totally different. And yet what he'd done... how could she look at Dani now, see her in pieces, call herself her sister, yet love the person who had made her like this?

"Shove over. I'm staying with you," Kirsty said determinedly, lying on top of the bed and laying her head down on the pillow next to her. Dani gave a weak smile. Even when she was a kid, Kirsty had always known exactly what she wanted and got it. And it did feel better, knowing she was there.

"It'll be okay," Kirsty whispered, and Dani felt that one day it might, it just might, be.


"Rhys, it's no use shouting and swearing. We're stuck here till morning so we'll just have to make the best of it."

Rhys Sutherland slammed down the car bonnet. He'd tried everything he knew to start the engine and nothing would work. They were stranded in the middle of nowhere, on one of the many lonely, silent dirt roads that streaked the vast expanse of Australia.

"The worst thing is, Shell, we can't even get in touch with the kids."

His wife bit her lip. Too late now to admit their daughters were right and that mobiles were essential items. Too late for so many things. **

"Kane won't go anywhere near," she said. "It's been over a week. He's kept his promise so far and stayed away from Kirsty."

"Yeh, well, who knows what goes on inside that mongrel's head?" Rhys was tearing himself apart. If he had his way, he'd never have left Dani's side since Kane. But it had been Dani herself who didn't want that. Even when the flashbacks came she shunned everyone. Once he he had gone to hug her and she had flinched. His daughter's life was destroyed and he couldn't even hold her.

Shelley rested her hand on his shoulder, bringing him back to the present. "The rain's getting heavier, Rhys. We need to get some rest. No-one's going to come along this Godforsaken road till daylight at least."

Rhys nodded, angry and helpless. There was a rumble of thunder from somewhere many miles away. They could only get the blanket out of the back and settle down for a long, uncomfortable night.


Jade Sutherland and Bethany Mitchell leaned out of the window. The rain was sweeping in but neither of them cared. The day had buzzed. They'd been to the fair, gorged themselves on french fries and big macs, tried each other's clothes and make-up, discussed boys non-stop, especially their current boyfriends. The last thing they wanted to do was sleep.

"Wow, cool!" Beth said, as a particularly loud crash of thunder heralded a wild flash of lightning. She looked at Jade. Her friend had been strangely quiet these last few minutes. "Hey, you okay?"

Jade shrugged. "Remember me telling you Kirsty and me used to have like...a bond?"

"Has something happened?"

"I don't know. It's not as strong as it used to be. I just feel something's not right. Probably my imagination."

"Give her a ring in the morning. It'll be fine."

"Yeh." Jade turned back to the window. "You know, my sister Dani hates thunder and lightning. I hope she's okay."


It was a childish thing to be arguing over, Kirsty knew, but she and Dani stood by the bedroom door arguing just the same. The storm had unnerved them. One minute they were giggling together, reminiscing about stupid stuff from way back when they were kids. The next the thunderstorm broke and everything changed.

Fear was back in Dani's eyes. She had always been scared of thunder and her experience of being shipwrecked, when one of Summer Bay’s sudden storms had sunk the Mirigini, had made her even more afraid.

Kirsty was frustrated. She'd been so close to getting Dani to open up to her and now the moment was gone.

"No, Dan, I'LL go down for you for a cold drink..."

"Kirsty, I Will Be Okay." Dani added a capital letter to every word, like Kirsty was an idiot.

"I'm trying to help here!"

"Well, you're not!" Dani's voice was as loud as her sister's. She jumped at another crash of thunder and swallowed. Her tone was quieter now. "I know...I know I feel safer when it's thundering like this if I'm hiding under the duvet but I'm...I'm going to make myself overcome all my fears, even if it kills me. That scumbag Kane and everything."

Kirsty looked away. Like Dani, she thought of Kane constantly but for very different reasons. She loved him. She wished she didn't. She wished she could have fallen for someone different, someone who had never hurt Dani, maybe Seb or the boy she'd met on holiday last year and with whom she'd had a brief fling, but she couldn't help herself.

"Oh, Kirst, I'm sorry! I know you're making this huge sacrifice for me and..."

"So is Kane! It's not easy for him either!" Kirsty regretted snapping immediately. In the lightning, Dani looked so small and vulnerable, hurt and bewildered, shocked by Kirsty's outburst. She felt a hundred times more guilty when Dani said what she said.

"I realise that. I am grateful to you guys. I know Kane is sorry and I hate myself for not being strong enough to make all this pain go away ..."

"Dani, it's not your fault! It's never been your fault!" Tears sprang to Kirsty's eyes and she enveloped her older sister in a fierce hug.

"Hey, I need air!" Dani said shakily, trying to make a joke of it. "I guess this means it's okay for me to go down on my own then?"

"What do you think?" Reluctantly, Kirsty let go. Dani was right. Facing up to your fears was the only way to be rid of them. Apart from when she'd been with Kane, Kirsty had never run away from anything in her life. But it was so hard, knowing her sister was terrified, and having to let her go it alone. Mum, Dad, Jade, herself, they'd lived and breathed Dani's life falling apart and they so much wanted to protect her.


Dani's hands shook uncontrollably. The thunder seemed to shudder through her whole body and she wanted to turn and run back to Kirsty like she'd run to Mum when she was little. But she kept herself focused. She had survived a rape. Survived a shipwreck. She could surely get through something as harmless as thunder? Her mouth was dry. She had to head for the kitchen where...

Why, why, why must her mind keep playing over that day? Why did she have to torture herself? Her heart was beating so fast she thought she would die. She could do this. She had to. She pushed open the kitchen door and was puzzled to feel a strange breeze on her face.

Lightning lit up the kitchen for a few seconds. Enough to take in the scene of devastation - and the figure climbing back out of the window. Dani's terror was too great for her to scream. She froze.

AUTHOR’S NOTE: **Hmm, the mobiles probably wouldn’t have worked in the middle of nowhere anyway! :rolleyes:

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Thanks for your lovely reviews. :D Sunny Girl, I'll be ages writing Sally Called! anyway. I write slowly and I've only just managed to bring Lance back into it - plus I have yet to find out what happened with Kane and I still need to go back and check up on Kathy Murray and her sister... :P

Chapter 3

"Dani...?" Kirsty called anxiously

She went quietly down the top two steps then hesitated. Dani had gone so far back inside herself these last few months. After the two Kane mediation sessions she'd seemed to be getting her life back on track. Even finding out about Kane and Kirsty, that had been tough, but she'd coped, forgiven Kirsty, tried to understand how her sister could have fallen in love with her attacker when they’d bonded after being shipwrecked together.

And then suddenly, much, much later, came a whole rollercoaster of emotions. Clara Denton, Dani's counsellor, explained to the family that it was a delayed reaction to the rape because Dani had never fully dealt with what happened. She told them they needed to help her re-build her shattered self-esteem, encourage her to develop her own confidence.

Kirsty knew she should maybe wait until Dani said she needed her help. But it was too quiet and she was too worried. With sudden resolve, she ran down the remaining stairs, two at a time.



Kane jumped. "Oh, it's you. Hi."

"You're out late," Flynn said.


"How are things?"


"How's your aunt?"

"Yeh, okay." It was ridiculous. This was the guy Kane had wanted to talk to a couple of hours ago and now he couldn't think what to say. His head was all over the place these days. The storm had receded but the rain was still heavy and he was soaking. All he could think of was getting back, getting dry. "How did the fight go?"

"The fight?"

"I noticed there was a blue going on at the Drop-in Centre earlier."

"Oh, that. Something and nothing. All sorted."

"Yeh...well. See ya."

Flynn stared after him. He was on the road that led from Yabbie Creek to Summer Bay because he was walking back to his car after being called out to attend a distressed patient. Why Kane Phillips had been by the Drop-in Centre and therefore in Summer Bay remained a mystery.


Shelley woke from a fitful sleep and pushed Rhys' head from her aching shoulder. At first she couldn't think where she was, then gradual memory filtered back.

The high school reunion had been a wonderful, relaxing experience, exactly what they'd needed after all the stress of the previous couple of years. It had been good to catch up with some old classmates they hadn't seen in over two decades, to forget all their troubles, even if it was only for a little while. Then the car had broken down on the way home, spoiling everything.

A dingo howled somewhere. Shelley rubbed her neck and glanced at her watch. One o'clock. With any luck, the girls were fast asleep and not worrying.



"Yeh?" He looked in on his aunt, still busy drying his hair with a towel.

"You all right? Only I heard you gong out." She was still strangely wary.

"Yeh, sure. I just needed to clear my head for a while. Listen, I'm whacked. You need a drink or anything before I hit the sack?"

She relaxed. Wherever he'd been, whatever he'd been doing, it had helped. The anger had gone from his eyes and he was back to being himself.

"I'll be right. You look after me well. Thanks."

"No worries."

"I know it's not easy for you. Sometimes people think because I'm in a wheelchair I can't see or hear."

He shrugged. "I'm used to it. It was the same with my Dad. Well, not exactly the same. Nobody dared give Richie Phillips lip, they pretty much got out of his way." He smiled at the memory. "Used to make me feel real important when I was a kid!"

Kane was asleep the moment his head touched the pillow. Alone in her room, Rose stayed awake for a long, long time.


Jade padded across to the window again. It was too clammy to sleep and Bethany's snoring was getting on her nerves. She rested her head on the cool glass and fought back an urge to cry. Something was terribly, terribly wrong with Kirsty.


Kirsty had a cramp in her foot, but she didn't dare move. Not while Dani was like this. She had tried getting to the phone but Dani had clung on to her arm so tight. And it was a waste of time shouting, the nearest caravan wasn't exactly on their doorstep. She looked round yet again in shocked disbelief.

Food and drink had been smeared everywhere, plates were smashed, packets opened and their contents scattered. They hadn't heard anything, but the storm had been directly overhead, and she'd decided to put the radio on full blast to drown out the thunder for her sister. The Sutherlands had never thought twice about leaving downstairs windows open on particularly hot nights because you could trust everyone in Summer Bay...Except now you couldn't. Knowing what Dani had gone through - and everyone in Summer Bay did - you had to be sick to do something like this, really, really sick. It wasn't the break-in itself. Broken objects could easily be fixed. Broken minds ran far, far deeper...

A litre size bottle of milk had been turned upside-down on the dining table and Dani stared unseeingly as a river of milk dripped steadily, forming streams that zig-zagged across the uneven floor. Whoever had broken in could get inside her head any time they chose and rip her apart all over again. She felt like she had on the day she was raped. Not a person any more, angry, invaded and destroyed, empty, numb and dead.


Kirsty heaved a huge sigh of relief as she spun round. It was the first time Dani had spoken, though they'd been there ages.

"He...Kirsty...I..." Dani was crying so softly it broke Kirsty’s heart.

"Did he touch you?" Kirsty asked quickly, concerned.

"No, but...but...I...saw him. It...it w-was Kane."

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***CHAPTER 4***

First light was breaking in a blaze of golden glory across Summer Bay when the trucker dropped off the Sutherlands.

"Beaut place!" he said admiringly.

Shelley smiled. The man smelled of the sweat that stained his T-shirt and all she could think of was a bath and sleep, but, headed for a delivery in Yabbie Creek, he'd been their unlikely saviour when they could have been stranded for days.

"Mate, any time you and your family want, there's a free holiday at the caravan park," Rhys said gratefully, slapping his back.

"Thanks. You guys rock!"

Shelley and Rhys stifled laughter.

"Obviously he's somehow met up with young Max," Rhys whispered. It was an expression their nephew had over-used when he'd stayed a while back. Shelley pulled a warning face, but she couldn't help laughing too.

They stopped laughing abruptly when they saw what had happened.


White faced and frightened, Jade arrived home suddenly a few hours after her parents, dropped off by Bethany's bewildered father. She couldn't explain to her friend's family why she had to go home so early any more than she could explain it to herself.

She had run down the path and hammered frantically on the door, hadn't asked any questions although Dani's doctor Clara Denton was there preparing an injection. She had hugged Kirsty, stayed close to Dani, kept telling everyone it would be alright, though she felt it never could be again. All that mattered was the family being together.


Kane Phillips had one photo of Kirsty Sutherland. While his aunt dozed in the chair, he studied the crumpled snapshot, thinking back...

"Hey, babe!"

"Hey yourself!"

They had fallen easily into each other's arms, kissed for a long, long time.

"You're beautiful," he said, when they finally had to come up to breathe. The sun was sparkling on the blue water and sunbeams danced in Kirsty's hair. She smiled that pleased little Kirsty smile that made his heart turn somersaults, locked her fingers in his as they strolled along the wharf.

"I found something funny today. Promise you won't laugh."

"You found something funny but I can't laugh?" he was grinning at her, teasing her.

"You know what I mean."

"Are you allowed to laugh?"

"Nope," she said, joining in the game.

"And what happens if one of us laughs?"

"Umm...the forfeit is you have to kiss!"

So he'd tickled her and she'd tickled him back, and they'd had a pretend fight, tickling and pushing and shoving, till she slipped and he'd had to steady her. For a moment they stopped, time standing still, gazing into each other's eyes. Then it was Kirsty's turn to tease.

"Look!" she said suddenly, waving the photo, then snatching it back, so he had to catch hold of her wrist to see. "Dad took it a few months back when I didn't know. I'd just found Mum's old sun hat and was fooling with Jade, pretending I was a big movie star. Omigod, what DO I look like?"

"Beautiful, as usual," he said honestly, smiling at Kirsty's pose and the wide-brimmed straw hat.

"Creep!" she gently slapped his arm. "Hey! Who said you keep that?"

"Sorry, Kirst. You can't be trusted not to laugh," he said, putting the photo in his pocket.

"Give it back!"

"Make me!"

Laughing, she tried to grab back the photo, but he was too quick, and they ran, dodging people on the wharf, people who tried to look annoyed but who couldn't help smiling. When she caught up with him, next to a boat called Lucky Star she said it must be a omen. But it wasn't. Two days later her horrified parents found out she was seeing Kane.

Kirsty was just a phone call away. Kane had thought about it so many times. The Sutherlands' number, the number advertised everywhere for the caravan park, was ingrained in his memory. Shaking, his heart racing, he lifted the cold receiver and dialled...

Then he put the phone back down in its cradle. He couldn't do this. He couldn't drive a wedge between the girl he loved and her family, and he'd promised, and there was Dani, he had to remember what he’d done to Dani. He rubbed his eyes with the heels of his hands. Stupid, stupid, stupid, to cry.


"Mum, it wasn't Kane! I don't know what Dani saw, but it wasn't Kane! He wouldn't do something like this!" Kirsty's face was streaked with tears.

Impatiently, her mother slammed down the receiver - the caller had hung up before she could speak anyway. Thank goodness Dani wasn't around to hear this. Then she heard the shower running yet again, Jade calling something, Dani answering her in a jerky, tearful voice.

It had been the same ever since they had arrived home to find Kirsty rocking Dani in her arms, soothing and denying, like a mother chasing away her child's bad dreams. Dani had slept for hours after Clara Denton administered the injection, but, since waking, she'd showered repeatedly. Rhys was out, at a meeting to discuss what Summer Bay was going to do about Kane Phillips and Shelley was glad they'd decided not to tell the girls, especially Kirsty.

She looked now at the daughter who gave her most heartache. She was tired, far, far too tired, to argue.

But her eyes were enough. Ice cold with loneliness and despair, Kirsty staggered to her room.


Like a sleepwalker, Dani stepped out of the shower cubicle, looping the belt of her bathrobe.

"I can't get clean, Jade. No matter how many times I wash, I can't get clean."

"It's okay," Jade said, knowing it wasn't. Nothing made sense any more. Dani had been like this after the rape. But this wasn't a rape, it was their home being broken into, and yeh, that was scarey, but not scarey like rape, and, until this, Dani had been getting slowly bet...

"I don't know what to do anymore!" Sobbing, Dani sank down against the wall, covering her head with her arms.

"Kirsty, Kirsty!" Jade had always shouted for her twin when something deeply disturbed her. Kirsty was strong. The strongest of all the Sutherland family.

Kirsty ran in to them.

"She's hurting real bad, Jade," she said sadly, sitting down next to Dani and taking her hand. "The break-in...for Dani, it's sort of a lot more than that. All we can do is be here for her."

Nodding, Jade sat down beside Dani too. "We'll all get through this together, Dan," she said. "Kane won't win."

At the mention of his name an invisible hand gripped Kirsty's heart. Did Jade know of the icy loneliness inside her? Couldn't she herself love Dani enough to forget Kane...ever? Kirsty didn't belong anywhere any more.


Rhys Sutherland wondered how it had come to this. Not long ago anyone who knew him would have said he was a law-abiding family man. Now here he was, the loudest and most bloodthirsty of the vengeful group gathered in Alf Stewart's Diner.

Dani had begged her parents not to contact the police over the break-in. In Dani's troubled mind, though the police had been sympathetic and supportive after the rape, they were still irretrievably linked to the questions, the medical examination, the unreality of it all.

But something had to be done. Kane Phillips couldn't be allowed to escape justice yet again.

Rhys Sutherland was ready to kill.

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***CHAPTER 5***

"Nobody's safe in their own home anymore!” Colleen Smart declared.

"We need to do something pronto," Alf Stewart said. "Why are we wasting time pussyfooting around?"

Leah Patterson, busy providing soft drinks and coffees, looked uncomfortable. There had never been this much hatred in Summer Bay before.

"We don't know for certain it WAS Kane," Flynn added "We don't actually have any proof."

"How much more proof do you need?” Rhys yelled, his anger white hot. "Dani saw him. He already let slip to you he was outside the Drop-in Centre that night. Bill Langley from Caravan 9 saw someone running away from the house and his description sounded very much like..."

"Rhys, Rhys, it could have been anyone!” Flynn pointed out. "A disgruntled holidaymaker. An opportunist thief. The guy at the Drop-in Centre Saturday night was fighting the world, it could just as easy have been him."

"Well, I still reckon it was Phillips." Will Smith was back visiting his family in Summer Bay. At the time of the attack he'd been Dani's boyfriend and he'd never forget or forgive what Kane Phillips had put her through.

Irene Roberts, who'd brought Will up from a youngster, patted his hand. "I'm inclined to agree with Will. I know my Nathan ain't no angel but this is different. At best the Phillips boy is sick in the head."

The debate went on a while longer before Flynn turned to Rhys. The meeting had already over-run by an hour. "In the end, I guess it's your call, mate."

Rhys looked round. He'd been pleasantly surprised by the turn-out, including several friends from Yabbie Creek. One or two, like Jesse, had stayed away, but it showed there were still a lot of decent folk about. "We see him outside the hospital," he said.

Flynn heaved a sigh of the relief. Storming Rose Phillips’ house or having Kane Phillips bashed or telling him to get out for good...None of them were ever serious options, as some people seemed to think. Kane took his aunt to Summer Bay Hospital Wednesday afternoons. It meant they didn't have to involve Mrs Phillips and gave Kane a chance to tell his side of the story. If he was innocent, fine. If he was guilty...

It was all so ugly, so sick, Leah thought, re-playing in her head what her boyfriend Jesse had said last night. "I had some sympathy with Kane to start with. It's tough trying to make a go of things. But, hell, Leah, if he can break into the Sutherlands after what he did to Dani what else is he capable of?"

Jesse was right. Dani was a friend and she'd been hurt. Badly. Leah stacked the empty cups and turned away.


Dr Clara Denton rang the Phillips' doorbell, apprehensive about her reception. Dani Sutherland, who'd attended the clinic with her sister Kirsty on Monday, was causing her increasing concern. She'd been making slow, steady progress, but the break-in had plunged her on a downward spiral.

Though she'd been supportive of her sister, Kirsty was pale and tense. Small wonder. Clara had been shaken to the core when, at her first counselling session, Dani had told her of Kirsty and Kane falling in love.

Clara had last seen Kane when he was three years old, when she'd called on his father Richie Phillips to advise on a possible breach of probation. She had been struck then by the startling blueness of the toddler's eyes. His father's eyes were brown so Kane had obviously inherited the colour from his mother, but, whereas Mrs Phillips' eyes were an unremarkable blue, Kane's were bright and sparkling.

She remembered the coldness that Richie and his wife Diane had displayed with their two children, Kane and Scott, but particularly towards their youngest son, had disturbed her greatly, and she'd subsequently noted it in her report, and marked it "Urgent". Soon afterwards, however, she'd moved out to Perth, returning to Yabbie Creek only six months ago after the death of her husband, and Flynn Saunders had asked her to counsel Dani.

Strange how the wheel had turned full circle, Clara thought, as the door was opened and she noticed again the blueness of Kane Phillips' eyes.


Curled up on the couch, knees drawn up to her chin, Dani stared blankly at the TV screen.

She was dressed, as she always was nowadays, in baggy top and unflattering trousers. Anything to divert attention from herself. Before the break-in, Kirsty had sometimes done Dani's hair or the twins had gone shopping with her for new clothes. She was almost over her ex-boyfriend Josh, had begun meeting up with friends again, even, very tentatively, begun looking round at other guys.

It wasn't easy. The flashbacks still haunted her, which was why she'd consulted Flynn. But Clara, her new counsellor, seemed to understand, and Dani was, very slowly, very warily, beginning to piece her life back together.

Then the break-in happened and the rape was back inside her head. Back in every fibre of her being. Happening to her all over again.

Dad was walking in and out, getting things he needed for some caravan maintenance work, joking to Dani as he passed. Kirsty was out somewhere. Mum and Jade were chatting with her about the Drop-in Centre, about Jade's boyfriend Nick, Jade's homework assignment, a dozen and one other things. Dani heard herself answering from somewhere far away.

Everyone with a life and no-one knowing Dani was in prison.


It was a shock to Clara to find she liked Kane. She hadn't expected to. With his father, Richie “Gus” Phillips, she'd been constantly alert to the violence bubbling just under the surface. But Kane seemed different. Keen to re-start the mediation sessions if she thought it would help, understanding she needed to ask Dani too, worried about how Kirsty was.

Clara turned to Rose when Kane had gone out of the room with their dishes. "The Sutherlands rang me very early on Sunday morning. Dani was an extremely distressed state because the caravan house had been broken into."

Rose bristled. "And of course they think it's Kane!"

"I'm afraid so but I didn't see any point in upsetting Kane by telling him that. The police aren't involved and a colleague of mine is trying to calm things down so, hopefully, it will blow over. I know you'll stand by him. If it's any consolation I don't think Kane's responsible either." Clara thought it wiser not to add that, until meeting Kane today, she'd thought he was.

Rose shot Clara a sharp look. "He's my nephew and I'll always stand by him. He went through enough misery having Richie and Diane as parents and I can't say I'm sorry they're dead."

"How much have you told Kane?” Clara asked curiously, as she picked up her paperwork and car keys.

"Nothing. And I want it to stay that way."

The doctor slung her bag over her shoulder. "It will. A confidence is a confidence, Rose, no matter how many years have passed by."

Rose glanced at her but didn't answer. Dr Denton knew only half the story. Kane would never know. If he were ever to learn the truth about the family secret buried deep in the past it would destroy him...

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***CHAPTER 6***

Kirsty sat on the beach, turning Kane's ring round in her hands, wishing he’d never hurt Dani and they could be together. Blinking back tears, she stared up at the sky. Blue, like Kane's eyes. Blue, like the dress she'd been wearing when Kane had found her after the shipwreck, when she'd got to know who he really was. His favourite colour.

She had got into the habit of coming down here to the beach every day after school, just to be on her own and think. It was Wednesday and as usual she'd lost herself in schoolwork to escape. Everyone was delighted with how well she was doing and said she'd easily realise her dream of becoming a PE teacher...and no-one knew it was all because of Kane, who'd believed in her when no-one else had. Kane, who’d done something so terrible, so unforgivable, to her sister.

A shadow suddenly fell across her path and, annoyed, she folded her hand over the ring, shading her eyes to see who it was.

"Oh. Hi, Seb."

"Hey." Seb was disappointed by the flatness of her greeting. He slipped on some wet sand as he sat down, which, in spite of her mood, made Kirsty giggle.

"What?" she asked, suddenly aware of the way he was looking at her.

"You have the most amazing smile."

"Don't do this, Seb! You know I don't feel that way about you." She jumped up, brushing the sand from herself as if brushing away his words, and the ring slipped from her grasp.

"Because you're still seeing Kane?" Seb asked bitterly, staring down at the ring.

Kirsty retrieved the token of their love. "No. I'm not seeing him. Not because we don't love each other - we'll always love each other - but because we don't want to hurt Dani."

"Kirst, get real!" Seb couldn't help his anger. He loved Kirsty and she was totally wrapped up in a sicko. "He broke into the caravan house, that's how much he cares for your sister."

She glared. "That wasn't Kane."

"Well, he'll have his chance to prove it wasn't then." Too late he realised he'd said too much. Will Smith had told his brother Nick the outcome of the meeting and Nick had told Seb. But Kirsty wasn't supposed to know.

"What do you mean?"


"Seb, tell me!"

He shrugged. "Your Dad and some others are going to ask him a few questions when he takes his aunt to the hospital this arvo, that's all."

The tears she'd been blinking back sprang suddenly to Kirsty's eyes. "I have to go."

"Kirsty, he's not worth it!"

She didn't turn back. She loved her family, she always would, but Kane was all alone and needed her and she couldn't stand the pain of being without him for even a moment longer.


"Jeez, what is this!"

"Mate, calm down," Flynn replied. "We're just trying to get your perspective on things here."

"Yeh, sounds like it!" Kane hadn't thought anything of it when Flynn came into the hospital waiting room while Auntie Rose was attending her weekly check-up and asked if he could step outside for a quick chat. She'd be there a while and he was bored. It had been a shock to find Rhys Sutherland, Alf Stewart and a bloke he didn't recognise there too.

"If you're so flamin' innocent what were you doing in Summer Bay that night?" Alf demanded.

"I already told you. I went for a run on the beach."

"In a thunderstorm? In the middle of the night?" Rhys asked in disbelief.

"Yeh. In a thunderstorm. In the middle of the night. So I don't know who trashed your house, but I had more interesting things to do." Kane's answer was coated in sarcasm. He was burning to lash out at someone but this man was Kirsty's father and he would never, ever hurt Kirsty. Besides, he understood where he was coming from. You were always over-protective of those you loved. He hadn't known that till Kirsty, but then no-one had ever loved him till Kirsty.

"You think we've all got rocks in our heads? You're guilty as hell!" Dave Walsh, the man Kane didn't recognise, was probably the richest man in Yabbie Creek and his vast wealth could, and often had, make or break people and businesses. He'd amassed his fortune in land and property - dealing with Summer Bay Caravan Park had been how he'd met Rhys.

But land and property sales were not areas Kane Phillips moved in and he remained unimpressed by the pompous little man.

"Oh, yeh, and what would you know?"

"I know enough." His face was only inches away now. "I know what you did to Dani Sutherland and I know you're a sick, perverted..."

The blood spurted from his nose in a rich, dark red and Kane felt the satisfying pain in his knuckles before he was being pulled back.

"Mate, this isn't getting us anywhere!"

He angrily shrugged himself free of Flynn. "Forget it. You're no different to the rest."

"This wasn't meant to happen..." Flynn began, but Walsh, busy trying to stem the flow of blood, interrupted.

"That's it! You're only tolerated here because of your aunt. Don't even think of trying to get a job or a home in Yabbie Creek or Summer Bay. In fact, don't think of settling anywhere. I've contacts all over Oz."

"Yeh, yeh, like I care. Your poison's already spread to people in Yabbie Creek."

"Mr Phillips?" the young nurse hesitated in the doorway, realising too late she'd just walked in on an argument. "Your aunt asked me to look for you to tell you she's ready."

Kane gave the four men a final look of contempt and banged the hospital door behind him.

"Guys, this wasn't the deal," Flynn said. "The deal was, a warning."

Alf shook his head. "A warning wouldn't have been enough."

Dave was looking furiously down at the blood staining his expensive business suit. "I'm going to have to use the same hospital as that vicious b****** to get this injury seen to."

He was talking to Rhys but Rhys wasn't listening. He'd never particularly liked Dave Walsh, who seemed more interested in settling some old score with the Phillips family than what had happened to Dani, but his money made him useful. Rhys was thinking of how much Dani had been hurt and trying to tell himself this was justice.

Yet somehow this was all leaving a nasty taste. Poison, was what Kane Phillips had said. It seemed the right word to use.


Kirsty was frantic. She'd been to the hospital but was told the Phillips had already been and gone. The bus to Yabbie Creek was leaving and impulsively she'd jumped on board. But going to the house proved fruitless. Mrs Phillips kept yelling Kane wasn't in and why couldn’t everyone just go away and leave them alone?

And then Kirsty remembered their special place - the tiny, rock strewn cove on the rough Yabbie Creek beach, where, before they'd run away together, they'd meet, hidden away from a hostile world.

It was where she eventually found him, silhouetted in the sun, skimming stones on the water.

"Kane! Kane! Kane!" she shouted his name over and over, her voice competing against the roar of the wind and rush of the sea.

At last he stopped and looked around puzzled as if he'd heard something, not once thinking to look upwards.

Laughing at his confusion, Kirsty scrambled down, unaware the person who'd been stalking her for some time now was watching with great interest.

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***CHAPTER 7***

Scott Phillips, Kane's older brother, watched from his vantage point above the beach, confident he couldn't be seen. He was used to walking in shadows, sizing up situations to his own advantage. He had followed Kirsty from his aunt's house and it looked like it hadn't been a wasted journey. He smiled grimly, wondering how much the Sutherland chick would pay for his silence.


There is no time. Nothing but each other. She draws closer.


He turns and sees her. Laughing and crying, they come together. Two parts becoming whole. She looks into his blue eyes and knows he is her soul-mate. Electricity runs through him as they touch.

Without her he is nothing.

He is her breath, her reason for living.

"Babe, don't cry," he whispers.

Her tears mingle with his own when their faces brush. They listen silently to the music of the sea, holding each other close. They have each other and it is enough.


Rhys and Shelley were arguing again, their voices carrying through from the back room. Shelley thought Rhys had behaved like a thug and Rhys thought it had been the only way to get through to Kane Phillips.

The normally laid back Nick Smith tensed. A few minutes ago he and Jade had been laughing, fooling, on top of the world. Going to the Sutherlands these days was like walking a minefield.

"Fancy the diner?" he asked.

"I'd best check on Dani first. She might want to come too." Jade ran halfway up the stairs and shouted her a few times, but there was no response. She turned to Nick and shrugged, puzzled. "She must be out. Kirsty too. Wonder where?"

"You're about due to tune into Kirsty's mind, aren't you?" Nick grinned.

"Don't, Nick. It only happens when it's something bad and I don't want anything bad to happen to Kirsty."

"Hey, babe, I was only joking!" he gave her a reassuring hug.

Jade smiled. Without Nick she'd never have got through all this. "The diner it is. I need lots of chocolate. Chocolate mud cake and chocolate milk shake will do for starters."

The music crashed through Dani's earphones, drowning out all other sound. No more raised voices. No more being pulled apart. The plan came into her mind again and again she pushed it back. But still it persisted, promising and promising there was a way to end all the pain.


Never wanting to break free. Never wanting to be alone anymore. Their arms entwined around each other's waists, they sit gazing out towards the timeless ocean. She rests her head on his shoulder and feels safe and loved. He strokes her hair tenderly and wishes he could take away all her sadness.

"I'm sorry. About my Dad."

"Babe, he was only protecting his family."

"No. It's no excuse, Kane, and you know it."

"Kirst, what if I DID break in? Maybe being so tired all the time is making me crazy. I can't remember much about that night. Being tired. Walking all the way to Summer Bay to talk to Flynn only he's not available. Going down to the beach, running and running, then the storm, getting drenched, but just wanting to keep on running."

She turns to gaze up into his eyes. "I know it wasn't you, Kane. Because I believe in you. Because I love you."


Clara Denton didn't normally yell down phones, but she was furious. "Flynn, this has ruined everything! I was confident I could get Kane and Dani together to renew the mediation sessions. Now he won't trust anyone, least of all counsellors!"

"I thought I could stop things getting out of hand..."

With an effort Clara kept her temper in check. "I appreciate that, but where do we go from here? Yabbie Creek has picked up on the hatred and Kane is already on the edge. Who knows what will happen if he’s pushed too far? His aunt's fine about him going out, but it's still 24-7 care. I'd planned to discuss hiring a nurse to help out sometimes but Rose won't be in any mood to talk to me now."

"You want me to try?"

"No." Clara sighed. "Emotions are running too high and in my experience it's best to let the dust settle. It would get like this years ago when Richie and Joe Phillips caused some upset or other in the Bay, long before Kane or even Scott were born."

"Ah. Speaking of Richie. I looked up what action was taken after your report on him like you asked. Clara, there's no easy way to tell you this. The night you left there was a fire, no one hurt, but..."

Clara sank down in despair when their conversation ended. Her report had been careful not to betray Rose's confidence, but it would have made sure no harm came to Richie's two sons. It should have been duplicated several times and forwarded to various departments, but it was never even read... and two small children had been left to fend for themselves.


Sea spray falls with rain and a creeping tide touches their feet, but they are reluctant to move. To move will destroy their fragile world. Together they are strong. Divided they are lost.

"I wish," Kane says, "we could sail away forever. Just the two of us."

"You'd be captain of our ship. The wind in our hair and the sun on our faces."

"You'd be the most beautiful lady who ever sailed the oceans. They'd write songs about you for thousands of years."

A white-tipped wave breaks on to the shore, shattering the illusion. They are forced to stand, holding on to each other's hands to keep their balance, laughing, yet painfully aware reality is pushing down like a stone. Hearts beating too fast. The taste of salt from the sea and their tears as they retrace their steps. They hesitate at the top, trying to keep back time, and below the water is washing relentlessly over the rocks.

His voice is thick with emotion. "You know I love you too much to snatch you away from your family."

Crying softly, she buries her head in his chest, drawing strength from him. "I know. Dani needs me and I...and I...Kane, it has to be alright one day. I'll wait forever for you."

The traffic on Yabbie Creek Road was reaching its peak hour crescendo, horns blaring, windscreens swishing away rain, commuters driving home from the stressful city. One of the cars skidded to a halt. Rhys jumped out and Seb slowly got out of the passenger side, unable to meet Kirsty's gaze. It was over.

"Is that how little you think of your sister? You'd rather spend time with that mongrel?"

"Dad, it's not like that..."

"Don't play me for a fool, Kirsty. It's either him or your family. And if you choose him, don't come near any of us ever again."

She feels Kane squeeze her hand. Silently telling her he'll always wait for her. Telling her he'll always love her, no matter what. Her hand slips unwillingly from his grasp.

And so the rain falls steadily and the traffic flows on. Rhys gives Kane the look of hatred he's perfected, and climbs into the driver's seat. Seb keeps his head down. Kirsty looks back through the rain spattered window until the car is swallowed into the distance.

From the shop doorway, Scott Phillips watched the drama unfold, cursing his lost opportunity to make a fast buck. But there were other ways. His mind clicked into overdrive.

For a long time Kane stood alone, the scent of her light summer perfume still with him. Divided and lost.

And a family secret about to blow wide open.

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Thank you! I guess I get a lot of practice, because I do 90% of my writing in English :)

The present tense... the past tense... I feel really stupid right now, cause I know them so well, and still I wrote "from one time to another" lol :lol:

Actually, Eli, I prefer "from one time to another". It sounds much more poetic. :)

***CHAPTER 8***

"Yo, bro!"

Kane laughed in disbelief. "Scotty!"

The brothers could easily have been mistaken for twins until Scott stepped into the powerful beam of torchlight. Even then differences were barely noticeable. The elder brother was taller, his features sharper, his hair darker. But it was their eyes that most told them apart. Scott's were brown and secretive, Kane’s blue and trusting.

"What you doing sneaking round the back way? Auntie Rose thought we were gonna be murdered!" Kane laughed again as he dropped the torch to his side. It was so, so good to see a friendly face after the heartache of parting from Kirsty, after all the recent threats.

Scott shrugged. He'd been checking out the state of the house and whether or not Kane still had a car. There hadn't been time to do any of those things last time he’d been out on licence - he'd had to get back to meet the curfew deadline at the halfway house back in Pioneer Bay. But this time he’d swung it for pass for a few days “to visit his poor old sick aunt”.

"Habit," he replied, nodding at Rose. "G'day, Rosie!"

"What do you want, Scott?" she looked at him coldly. "If you've broken out..."

Scott pulled a pained expression. "What do you take me for? Got released all legit couple of weeks back. If anyone'd bothered visiting, they'd've known."

"Jeez, mate, I've been kinda busy..." Kane was guilt stricken. He'd barely given Scott a second thought since moving back from the city.

"No worries." His brother picked up the bag he'd rested on the porch. "Thought we'd crack a few tinnies by way of celebration."

"I won't have drink in the house." The statement was crushingly final, but Scott heard the quiver in Rose's voice.

He grinned sardonically as he tore open a can. "Fine. We'll drink out here then." He pulled a second can from the bag. "Mate?"

Kane hesitated. "Auntie Rose doesn't like it."

"We've a lot to catch up on. Three years without grog - and family - is a long time."

Family. This guy had grown up with him, fought with him, looked out for him. Survived with him. He took a beer.


They were sailing across a vast, moon-shimmering ocean under a star-lit midnight blue sky. Kane stood behind her, guiding her hands on the steering wheel, their faces cheek to cheek, gliding towards the brightness of the distant moon and forever.

Then everywhere went black and icy cold water was sloshing into the boat...

"Kirsty! Kirsty, wake up!"

"Jade!" She sat up in bed, waking slowly.

"You were shouting for Kane. I thought it was over?"

"It was. It is."

"No, it isn't. Don't you care about Dani?"

"Of course I care!" Kirsty blinked back the tears. "But I'm empty without Kane. I love him so much."

"You can't possibly love him. He's sick!"

"Jade, he's not like that. Not now. Please, I need someone to understand..."

"I'll never, ever understand." Her twin climbed back into bed and turned her back.

Kirsty wept softly into her pillow. She loved Dani. She loved Kane too. She didn't know how much longer she could stand this.


Scott inwardly cursed his luck. So the car was repossessed when Kane gave up work to look after his aunt. The house obviously wasn't worth much and Aunt Rose owed a packet in medical bills. He was determined that this wasn't going to be a totally wasted journey however. If he got Kane on side, they could become as powerful a force as Richie and Joe Phillips had once been.

"You owe me. Big time."

Kane looked queasily up at him. He felt he wanted to throw up but Scott was still drinking hard. "Yeh? Why?"

"Cos I'm still looking out for you. The Suthos should never have crossed my kid bro."

"What?" Kane's sickness reached a new level. A knot tightened in his stomach.

Scott grinned. "I was coming to visit you here in Yabbie Creek, but there was a sudden change of plan. See, the windows were open in the caravan park house. And it happened to be payback time. So I jumped off the bus."

"YOU trashed the place?"

"Yup! Made a real good job of it too! Then I shot through and lay low for a while. Now I hear the Suthos didn't get the cops in after all. Cool move."

"Jeez, mate!" Kane stood up. What was it with his family and their warped sense of loyalty? "What the hell'd you do that for? Dani must think I'm playing mind games."

Scott staggered to his feet, following Kane inside the house. He swung him round by the shoulder. "What's the matter with you? I do you a favour and this is the thanks I get! The Kirsty chick turn you down then? Maybe you should've put the hard word on her. She looks easy enough."

Nobody insulted Kirsty, nobody. "You want thanks? Here's your thanks, mate!"

Kane's fist caught him square on the jaw. He knew he wouldn't win. Even drunk, Scott was stronger. It was like the years rolled back, fending off the blows that rained down, head pounding, lights flashing before the blackness. Except this time it wasn't Kane's voice yelling at him to stop...

"You talk too loud when you drink just like Richie always did. I've told the Sutherlands everything. Now get out of here or I call the police." Rose was shaking in terror.

Scott moved towards her. Kane pulled his last ounce of strength from nowhere and blocked his path. "Leave her. Auntie Rose has been real good to us."

His brother laughed mockingly. "Oh, for Chrissake, she's been lying to you for years. She's not your aunt. She's never been your aunt. She's your Ma."


The tranquillisers made Dani drowsy and she'd fallen asleep on the couch leaning against Shelley till the phone suddenly woke her. She breathed a tear-swept sigh as Rose Phillips' quick, jumbled message ended and the answerphone bleeped. Rhys had pressed mute on the remote and the late night movie cast silent dancing shadows on the walls.

"I suppose we owe Kane an apology," Shelley said slowly.

"We owe him nothing," Rhys replied.

Dani sensed another row brewing. It was never going to be over. Never. Only sleep took her away from all this.

She wished she could close her eyes and sleep forever.


Kane fell back, catching hold of a chair, shaking his head in stunned disbelief. It made a peculiar kind of sense. The feeling he never belonged. The arguments. Dad locking him outside.

When he was nine, he'd had a meningitis scare and after that Auntie Rose, the widow of Dad's brother Joe, and a vague figure nobody ever talked about, abruptly appeared in his life, taking him on days out, buying him and Scott presents. For some reason Scott never liked her, but Kane often snuck off on his own to visit her, fare dodging on the bus or walking all the way to Yabbie Creek. Only for his father to eventually come banging on the door and order him into the car. He always paid with a bashing afterwards but he didn't care.

"Is it true?"

"Kane, I'm so sorry..."

A myriad of emotions were swirling round inside him. "Why? Why did you and Uncle Joe give me up?"

Scott guffawed drunkenly. "You're kidding me. You can't be that naive!"

Rose stared at him in dread, her weak blue eyes filled with fear. Only three people ever knew of the angry conversation in the Phillips' house that day. Herself, Diane and Richie. Kane had been in hospital recovering from meningitis. Thirteen-year-old Scott had been at school. Hadn't he? Nobody bothered whether the boys went to school or not. Vaguely she remembered she imagined she'd heard someone scurrying away when she'd stormed out of the room.

Scott's lips curled into a cruel smile. "Guess what, bro, I'm gonna tell you the full story..."

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*****CHAPTER 9*****

Clara Denton paced the room of her daughter's house in Perth, rocking her baby granddaughter in her arms. Lauren was teething and babysitting nowadays guaranteed interrupted sleep for both parties. But Clara's mind was filled with Dani, Kane and Kirsty anyway. It was eerie how in some ways their story echoed Rose, Richie and Diane's. Clara pushed back the years.....

.....Through the window the red evening sun is setting on the water and there is a smell of polish and a clattering of mop buckets as the cleaners begin their evening blitz of Yabbie Creek Medical Centre. Rose Phillips' face is clouded and she's been crying.

"Thank you for seeing me without an appointment. And so late. Only I noticed you were still open and I had to talk to someone."

"Rose, I chose counselling because I wanted to help people if I could."

"This must go no further. Promise."

"You have my word."

"It's his birthday today," she whispers, and is silent for a long time.

"Joe's?" Clara asks at last. She knew Rose only slightly, but it was widely known that three or four years ago Rose's husband Joe had died in a car crash and she'd since severed all links with the Phillips family.

"No. My son's. He's three. He lives with his father."

"Do you see him much?"

"No, never. I gave him up."

"You obviously miss him. You have a right as a mother..."

"I don't want to see him. Ever!"

Clara starts, taken aback by her vehemence.

"I'm sorry. I didn't meant to snap." She gazes beyond Clara towards the sunset over Summer Bay, sighing deeply before she begins, pouring out her heart as the evening shadows lengthen.

"His father is Joe's brother Richie. Joe and me, we hadn't slept together for several months. I was convinced he was seeing someone else and I still loved him so much. To get his attention I began flirting with Richie...but then things went too far. Kane was conceived the night Joe died in the crash. I didn't tell anyone I was pregnant, hoping if I ignored it all it would somehow go away - stupid, I know, but I didn't know what else to do. But I hated my child. Every time I looked at him all I saw was Richie, all I remembered was Joe dying alone. I wrote to tell Richie he had a son. He wanted Kane for no other reason than he likes to own things - people, property, it doesn't matter. His name was on the birth certificate so he claimed him. I didn't want Kane so I let him go. There was no problem with Diane. Diane's too frightened of Richie to go against him, too cowed by him to leave him."

"Rose, I'm leaving very, very soon for Perth. I'm due to see Richie before I go. Perhaps I could speak with him for you or I could arrange for you to see another couns..."

"No! It's for the best. I needed to talk and now I'm done. You must never tell anyone."

"Whatever a client tells me remains confidential."

Rose nods as she picks up her shopping and Clara is left with the feeling something important has been left unsaid.....

.....Lauren snuggled sleepily into the crook of her grandmother's shoulder, soft and warm, and light as a feather until laid gently down, leaving a delicious aching in Clara's arms.

It must be a terrible, terrible thing to lose a child. A terrible, terrible anger that made a mother walk away. Betrayal was a powerful emotion. Like Rose, Richie and Diane before them, Dani, Kane and Kirsty were struggling to deal with it all. There were some differences - Dani hadn't got pregnant, for instance - but so many of the similarities had shaken her.

Clara looked out on to the lights of the Perth skyline, thinking again of Dani, Kane and Kirsty, remembering again Rose looking out towards Summer Bay the day she told her secret and...Clara stopped dead as she suddenly realised the shocking truth...


"Who's my Dad?" Kane had long since stopped drinking, gone far beyond feeling sick or tired. He had to know where he fitted into this alien new world and, drunk or not, Scott was the only one willing to give him any answers.

Scott was a survivor because he'd grown up having to be. When they'd been kids Kane had been useful, smaller, easier to blame, wanting to do everything his big brother did. Sometimes they'd even been pretty good mates, united against Mum and Dad. But Scott was nothing if not resourceful. A snippet of information here, a whisper there, carefully stored to be used to his own advantage at some future date. He'd kept Auntie Rose's secret as an insurance policy. Now he knew there was no blackmail money in the pot and the insurance wasn't going to pay out.

He'd borne the brunt of his father's anger after Rose's first visit. Mostly it was Kane the olds picked on, but this time he was safe in hospital so Scott was the one yelled at, beaten, left to sleep outdoors. Other things changed. Mum drank more heavily, popped even more pills. Dad became more and more violent. Every time after her visits it was the same. Kane was always too full of Auntie Rose to notice. Scott took her money and gifts and despised her. Revenge would be sweet.

"You know what she says, bro? You know why she had you put out for the garbo?"

Rose tried to speak, to stop him, but her voice locked in her throat.

The drink was affecting Scott. He took another swig from the whiskey bottle and grinned. The room was spinning and everything struck him as funny, Rose's face, Kane's question, the blood on his shirt where Kane had caught him back in the fight. He was giggling like he'd never stop. "See, mate, Auntie Rose came to see the olds when you had the meningitis thing. Seems she'd suddenly decided she wanted to be a Ma to you."

"Who's my Dad?" Kane said again. "Richie? Joe? Who?"

Scott laughed hysterically. "Oh, Richie Phillips was your Dad alright. Betcha he'd've been real proud of you! Chip off the old block and all that. This is beaut, mate, wait'll you hear it! You know what she says? She says he raped her."

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*****CHAPTER 10*****

Rose knew Richie had only phoned after all those years, to tell her Kane was seriously ill in hospital in the big smoke, because he couldn't be bothered with it all himself. She had meant to visit Kane only once, but it tore at her heart to see how the other children were surrounded by visitors and gifts while he had nothing at all. After visiting the hospital, she'd gone back home, packed some things, and returned immediately to the city. There she booked into a hotel that she couldn't really afford and sat with him every day.

And now he was almost well, running round the ward, up to mischief, laughing almost as much as the other kids did. There was talk of his discharge and she was determined to set wheels in motion.

The journey from the city hospital has been long and hot and she gulps down the water Diane provides, her hand trembling as she returns the glass. If Diane is aware of anything, she doesn't show it. Richie drinks a beer and says nothing.

Finally Rose breaks the silence. "I want Kane back."

"No," Richie says simply, amused.

"He's my child!" she screams at him.

"You gave him away, Rosey." This is just a game to Richie. Small and skinny, Kane is a disappointment compared to sturdy Scott, but, now he's over the meningitis, he'll toughen him up further, indoctrinate him and Scott into the Phillips way of running things, fill the gap left by Joe.

"You know perfectly well WHY I gave him away."

His face darkens. Diane shrinks back, afraid. For all these years Rose has never admitted it, even to herself. She takes a deep breath. "You raped me."

He laughs. "Now I don't think so, Rosebaby. You invited me in, made me feel at home..."

"You raped me. You know that as well as I do. Kane was born out of that rape. And I want him back."

She swings round to Diane for support, but violence is nothing new to Diane and for her own protection she has retreated into herself, not looking at either. He walks towards Rose, touches her arm lightly and she flinches as if touched by red hot coals.

She'd thought she could do this. She'd thought she could be strong for her son's sake. But Richie has all the power and she crumples.

"Kane is mine," he says slowly, menacingly, his breath warm on her neck. "You'll never tell anyone what happened, and even if you did who would believe you?"

Rose backs away, shaking, knowing he's right. If she fights for custody of Kane the stigma of the rape might become public knowledge. And she's still not strong enough fo face that. Not even for a small boy with bright blue eyes.

She pauses by the door, imagines she hears footsteps, but it's only her heart hammering against her chest. "I WILL see Kane. You won't stop me from seeing him at least."

She sweeps from the house with her as much dignity as she can muster and collapses sobbing as soon as she is outside.


Scott had finally slumped into a drunken stupor. His words had been like a physical blow. It took Kane an age to catch his breath and when he did and looked again at Auntie Rose - he still couldn't think of her as anything other than Auntie Rose - she was shaking. Or maybe that was himself.

"What Scott said...my Dad...he did that to you? That makes me...part of both of you, part of everything..."

Rose wiped her eyes, tried to steady her voice. "It doesn't make you anything, Kane, other than my son. You're not to blame. You must never feel..."

"I don't know what I feel any more."

But he did. How Dani must have felt. Numb. Hurt. Betrayed. Guilty and dirty and ashamed. Like the world is sinking, like the world has ended. Like your skin is crawling with a searing heat that touches every part of you, outside, inside, deep in the furthest recesses of your mind. The part of you that is you, the part of you that you might share slowly, slowly, little by little, the part of you that you might keep, every secret hope and dream, all of it torn out and trampled.

"He really...he really did that...?"

Rose nodded, still crying. "Your Uncle Joe had died that day. I was distraught. He wasn't perfect. He'd been in and out of jail and we had our fights, but I'd always loved him. Richie called round to offer his sympathy. He'd been drinking. Heavily. But, like me, he was upset. We talked about Joe. Looked at old photos. Reminisced. I remember thinking Richie was pretty good company. And then things changed. He said now Joe was gone..." Her body tensed. "I told him no. I told him no over and over but he wouldn't listen."

She looked at Kane, wondering whether to continue. The tears were streaming down his cheeks. "I never wanted you to know this."

"It's gotta be in me, hasn't it?" he said. "There's gotta be somethin' real evil in me from my Dad."

"No! What he was didn't make you a..." she couldn't bring herself to say the word. "I understood better than anyone else what Dani Sutherland was going through, but I owed you. I owed you at the very least for the first nine years of your life."

He ran his fingers through his hair, took a swig of whiskey from the half-empty bottle Scott had been nursing.

"Don't," Rose said.

"Why not? I'm just like my Dad." But he slammed the bottle down anyway.

"Kane, Richie thought he had the right to do what he did. You did a terrible thing, but when Dani made realise that, you accepted the responsibility, tried to change. You're nothing like your father."

He wanted to believe that, he really did, but Richie had stained him. He needed air. He went out outside, surprised by the daylight. Last night seemed a lifetime ago.


"So you were right. It wasn't Kane," Dani finished.

"I knew it!" Kirsty flung her arms round her sister.

"I just thought you should know." Dani kept her arms folded and didn't return the hug. It was better this way. Don't get close to anyone and make it easier for them when the time comes. Let them remember you distant and cold when they turn back to their lives.

"What's going on?" Jade asked, sweeping into the room in a flurry of half-dress, looking for her ear-rings, catching Kirsty's look of relief and the unreturned hug.

Kirsty swung around, unable to hide her smile. "It was Scott Phillips who broke in. Not Kane! I knew all along it wasn't Kane."

"Big deal!"


"What do you expect me to say, Kirsty? So it wasn't Kane - well, bully for Kane! It doesn't matter what he does or doesn't do, he's still a monster, isn't he, Dan?"


Kirsty jerked her head up. Wordlessly, she walked over and sat on the bed next to Dani.

"So...you're going out with Nick?" Dani asked.

Jade brightened, relieved she was okay. "We're meeting Bethany and Adam. We're going to the fair Beth and me went to the other week."

"Nice. Have a good time."

"Thanks. We will."

"You know I'm always here for you, don't you, Dani?" Kirsty said, as Jade left.

"I know. I'm fine."

Unlike Jade, Kirsty didn't look fooled.


The blinding headache hit Rose suddenly. She tried to shout for Kane, but her thoughts jumbled together. There was a strange buzzing in her ears and a numbness down the right side of her body and finally a blackness.

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