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Spiral III: Mirror Image.

Guest Natasha

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Story Title: Spiral III: Mirror Image

Type of story: long fic

Main Characters: Morag, Josh West and Amanda

BTTB rating: A

Genre: Drama

Does story include spoilers: No

Any warnings: V/D SC L

Summary: What if someone looking exactly like you decides to take over your life? Will he/she succeed?


Summary: What if someone looking exactly like you decides to take over your life? Will he/she succeed?

Author's Note: this is part III of my Home and Away series. Please Spiral part I & II for more information. This is set about a month after the murder of Joshua West. May contain spoilers for overseas viewers-so read at your own risk.

Disclaimer: The Home and Away characters aren't mine; but Laura, Kath and Jacob are.


Previously on Home and Away….

" I love you Morag. I trusted you…and you betrayed me!" Laura stood up and threw the newspaper to the floor.

" I had to do it." Morag held out her hands pleadingly.

" Why?" Laura demanded.

Morag sighed again. This was it, the moment of truth was about to come out. " I did it….because I love you."

Laura glared, " You don't lie to someone you love." Laura said, ' Awhile ago you said you didn't want any secrets between us. Well Morag Bellingham, I believe that makes you a hypocrite!"

The words stung. " I also did it to protect you. To protect you and your son."

" Sam Tate could have gone after me or Jacob. So how can you call that protecting?" Laura took a few steps closer. Her eyes were wild, face red.

" I'm very sorry you had to find out about this. I never wanted to hurt you-"

" You've done more than hurt me." Laura snapped and what she done next stunned them both. She gave Morag a stinging slap on the cheek.

" I never want to speak to you again." She whispered fiercely, " Get out of my apartment."

" Laura-"

" I said get out!" Laura shouted. Morag picked up her handbag and left the apartment.

Laura slammed the door shut. She grabbed the paper and threw it in the bin. Then she sank back onto the couch and started to sob.

Two Weeks Later...

Laura Tate walked along the beach with her sandals in her hand. She saw someone walked towards her and she sighed. It was Irene Roberts. Irene was a nice enough woman but she didn't feel like talking right now.

" Hello Laura," Irene greeted the other woman.

" Hi Irene," Laura smiled politely. She might as well make small talk. " How are you?"

" I'm fine…" Irene trailed off and studied her. Laura was a newcomer to the Bay, having moved here almost four months ago. It had not been easy on Laura and Jacob. Laura's ex-husband had tried to kill her but he was now dead and they were more or less safe. Jacob was a good kid but he hung out with the bad crowd…not that Laura knew that. Irene often wondered if Laura is actually who she said she was-Irene once saw her on TV but as Katherine O'Neil. Laura had told her she was clearly mistaken but its been bugging Irene ever since.

Laura looked tired. There were dark circles under her eyes and they were puffy from lack of sleep.

Laura was the kind of person who kept to herself. It was at that moment Irene decided to invite her to a over 40s event at Noah's Bar.

" No thanks," Laura politely declined.

" Are you sure? If you don't mind me saying so…you look a little…depressed."

It's none of your business! Laura wanted to snap. She also wanted to scream. These small seaside towns are all the same; everybody knew everybody. They stuck their noses in other people's business and every small town has its resident gossips.

" I just haven't been sleeping well that's all…since my ex-husband was found dead near Stewart Point, when in fact, he should have drowned that day."

Irene nodded. Apparently a doctor had been covering for Sam Tate, Dr. Ian Middleton. Middleton had since been struck off the doctor's registrar, sacked from the hospital and declared bankrupt. Morag Bellingham had completely destroyed him. Middleton had been seen drinking himself into a stupor at Yabbie Creek by Colleen Smart.

" Are you sure you don't want to come? Alf Stewart will be there. You haven't met him since he was released from prison."

Laura stopped walking. " Alf Stewart? Will Morag be there?" she tried to disguise the pain in her voice.

" I don't think so."

" Oh. Then…okay, I'll think about it. When is it?"

" 7 pm." Irene smiled at her before walking away.

Morag. Laura's eyes filled with tears but she angrily brushed then away as she made her way back home.

Kath used her digital camera to snap some pictures of her sister walking with Irene Roberts. She watched as the two engaged in a short conversation.

It won't be long…it wont be long…she kept repeating to herself as she hurried back to her motel. Patience is a virtue. If you are patient, you shall get what you deserve. And I will get what I deserve.

A new life.

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Single-White Female-I haven't seen that movie in years.*goes out to rent it on DVD*.

Author's Note: All spelling mistakes are mine alone. Spell Check doesn't always pick up on mistakes. I so hate it...darn American spelling. :angry:



Morag entered the Summer Bay house. She had been staying here for sometime ever since her brother was put behind bars. Alfred had asked her to keep an eye on the kids and Sally especially. Sally had just lost her husband to cancer and Alfred had made it his responsibly to look after her.

Now after a few months of appeals, Alfred was free. Due to some hard evidence against the crooked Judge Gilroy.

" Morag, I don't want to go that thing at the bar," Alfred was telling her, " So you just ring up and tell them I won't be joining them."

" Are you sure?"

" I'm positive Morag. I'm not in the mood for socializing." Alfred sank down onto the couch.

" Do you want anything to eat…or drink?"

" I can get it myself." Alf snapped. Morag threw up her hands and left him to his own devices.

She went upstairs to her bedroom. She grabbed her mobile and called Irene. She told her Alfred wouldn't be joining them after all.

" What about you luv?" Irene asked.

" Um, no."

" Okay then." They said goodbye and Morag put her phone away. She did some work on her laptop and went to bed at ten pm.

She lay there, wide awake. Every time she closed her eyes, she'd think of her. She went back to that awful day when Laura discovered the deception.

And she'd never forget the look of pure hatred in Laura's eyes.

On Monday, Jacob Tate met his friend Timothy Morally and the others in front of the school. Tim had thought up a dare club, where everyone takes turns doing dares. Participation was mandatory. And Jacob was the first to do a dare. Figures.

I may as well get it over with. He told himself. The group gathered around as Tim opened his backpack. There were two cans.

" Spray cans." Tim said and Jacob had a sinking feeling.

" Tate, your dare is to spray paint the lockers in school."

" What? I'm not-"

" Like I said, participation is mandatory."

Jacob scowled, " I'll do it after school." He muttered as he grabbed the cans. He hid them in his own backpack, " No one breathe a word of this." He warned the others. He knew Tim's best friend David was a loud mouth.

" We all swore to secrecy the other night Jacob." Tim reminded him, " if anyone blabs, then they'll spend the rest of the school year regretting it."

Jacob stared at the rows of lockers. He only had to "decorate" the first row of lockers but still. It was graffiti, defacing public property!

He had waited until Barry Hyde left for the night. He broke into the school and was now about to do something incredibly stupid.

He still didn't understand why he wanted to be part of the stupid group. Tim has caused him a lot of grief and he still insisted on hanging out with him.

Maybe you're afraid. Jacob taunted himself as he took the lid of the can, you're afraid if you didn't have Tim as a friend, you'd have no one!

Jacob forced the thought out of his mind as he did a squiggly pattern on the first locker. He didn't know what he was doing and just did a lot of inconsistent patterns until he finally reached the last one of that row. He sighed with relief and stood back. He cringed, it looked totally awful. Ugly.

His phone rang, making him jump.

" Did you do it?" Tim's voice demanded him. He sounded loud.

" Yeah."

" Your phone has a camera. Take a photo and send it to me." Tim instructed before hanging up.

Jacob did as directed. Tim replied to the picture. Looks awesome! Cant wait to see the look on Hyde's face in the morning. Good job!

Laura opened the door and was surprised to see Detective Peter Baker. " Can I help you?" she asked.

" I need you to come down to the station with me."

" What for?" Laura asked tensing.

" I need to ask you a few questions about the death of the Mayor."

" You have already interviewed me."

" I'm just doing follow-ups." Truth be told, Peter did not believe in her alibi. There was something she was not telling him. She had admitted in going to the council chamber the night Joshua West died-only to get some photos back from him. He wouldn't give them up apparently. But Peter knew there was more to the story.

And somehow Morag Bellingham was involved too. It was possible she had hired someone to watch over Josh. He had found a check stub for five thousand dollars. He had queried Morag about it and she claimed it was for legal costs awarded to Bob Radcliff..

Peter took her to the station and turned on the recorder before starting the interview.

" Laura…where were you on the night Joshua West was murdered?"

Laura didn't answer. She had been with Morag for most of the night. They still hadn't told anyone about their relationship. Not that mattered now.

" Ms. Tate." Peter said impatiently, " It would help our investigation a great deal if you were honest with us."

" Just let me ask this first…if I told you….it won't leave this room?"

" Its all confidential." Peter assured her.

Laura took a deep breath." I was with Morag Bellingham-all night." She felt strangely calm as the truth slowly came out. " You see Detective, we've been in a relationship the past couple of nights. Or was." She added, " We've broken up since then."

Peter tried to comprehend this information. Morag Bellingham in a relationship with a woman? He never thought Morag….went that way.

" So you lied about your alibi."

" Only to protect our secret. Morag didn't want the whole town knowing about our relationship."

" And you are choosing to tell me now?"

" It doesn't matter." Laura said softly, " nothing does."

" I'll have to confirm with Mrs. Bellingham about this but otherwise thank you for telling the truth."

Laura nodded, " Can I go now?"

" Of course."

Laura turned to leave, " Promise me this stays confidential?"

" Absolutely." Peter assured her.

* * *

Morag didn't like it, but she had to go down to the station for further questioning. On the way, she got a couple of weird looks from two women. She glared back, wondering what on earth was that about? Maybe it had something to do with Alfred being back.

" I have just interviewed your alibi." Peter began.

" My…alibi?"

" Laura."

" Oh, yes." Morag sat primly in her chair.

" I know about her little trip to the council chambers. She also tells me she was with you all night. As long as you confirm this is true, then you two are off the hook."

Morag stared at him, her face going ashen, " She told you…what?"

" That you were in a relationship with her but since has ended. Is this true?"

Morag's blood went cold. She could not believe what was hearing.

" Morag?"

" Yes." She whispered, " It's true. But its over."

Peter nodded, " Thanks."

Morag left the station, stunned. How could Laura betray her like this? Maybe this was her way of getting revenge?

Morag set her jaw as she stalked back home. If she ever saw Laura again, there would be hell to pay.

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Thanks for the feedback everyone! It's really encouraging. I may even get my muse back and start writing again....


Laura glared back at a couple of women as she made her way to the diner. It was the following afternoon and lunchtime. Jacob was in school and she had the afternoon to herself.

For some reason she's been getting odd looks from strangers around town. She entered the diner and ordered a pasta salad from Colleen.

" Colleen?" she waved her hand in front of her face, " Earth to Colleen?" she had no patience for this woman. She was staring at her like the other people.

" What is wrong with everybody today?" she demanded, " I'd like a pasta salad. Takeaway."

" Of course. Coming up." Colleen said and hurried back into the kitchen. After awhile, Colleen returned with her lunch, Laura paid for it and headed out the door. On her way to the apartment, she saw Morag coming towards her.

Oh no. Laura sighed. She reminded herself it was a small town and she was bound to bump into her every now and then.

" We need to talk." Morag said to her tersely.

" I don't have time to-"

" You will listen." Morag interrupted. She looked furious. Laura winced. She knew what was coming.

" I cannot believe you told Detective Baker about us."

" I had no choice…I was being interviewed for a police investigation. I had to be honest." Laura defended herself.

" You've told him to punish me.-"

"Well, at least you know how that feels don't you?" Laura snapped. Then she turned on her heel and walked away.


Jacob watched the principal as he surveyed the damage. He whirled to face the students, " When I find out who did this, there will be an immediate suspension!" he disappeared into his office.

Jacob followed Tim into the boys bathroom. He threw the cans into the trash can.

" Oh my God, did you see the look on his face?" Tim laughed and slapped his knee in glee, " I really thought he was going to have a heart attack!"

" Ok, now its your turn."

" My turn for what?" Jacob leaned against the sinks.

" I was going to think up all dares, but decided whoever completes a dare, gets to come up with the next one...its more fun that way." Tim grinned.

" Do I get to choose who does the dare?"

" No, we stick to the format of picking our names out of a hat." Tim paused, " Or maybe we can draw straws."

The rest of the gang arrived and complimented Jacob about his "art"

They decided on drawing straws and to Jacob's surprise, he got the shortest.

" hey that's not fair." He complained, " I have to make up my own dare?"

Tim rubbed his hands, " When this happens, I come up with them."

Jacob sighed and threw down his straw. This sucks. He thought. He would have thought he'd have to do the second dare?

" Okay, what is it?"

Tim pulled out a packet of cigarettes from his back pocket. " I dare you to take a puff."

Jacob winced, he hated smokes. He hated the smell.

" Aw, what an easy dare." David complained, " For all we know, he might actually smoke!"

" Ah, but there's a catch." Tim said as Jacob gingerly pulled one out of the packet. Tim handed him a lighter.

" Of course there is."

" He has to smoke it-on the beach."

" But…its banned." Jacob pointed out.

Tim smiled wickedly, " That's the dare."

Jacob sat on the beach and lit the cigarette. It wasn't the first time he's tried them. His best mate from his old school smoked them and he's tried one and decided they were not for him.

He inhaled and immediately gagged and started coughing. After the first hurdle, he puffed away. Several beach goers walked by him without a second glance.

The cigarette tasted awful, he felt nauseous. He stared at the butt. It was still long…it felt like it was going to last.

" Jacob? What on earth are you doing?" a voice shrieked at him and he cringed. He actually thought the voice belonged to his mother. He turned and saw it was Colleen Smart.

Oh no. he groaned inwardly. One of the biggest gossips in town. He was really in for it now.

" Having a smoke. What does it look like? Wanna puff?" he held out to her.

Colleen waved it away, " Don't you know smoking on this beach is banned?"

Jacob stared back with an innocent look, " Actually I did not know that. I thought beaches are public places?"

" Well they are, but here in Summer Bay we banned smoking years ago. You could get quite a heft fine if you get caught." Colleen paused.

" That won't happen if we kept quiet now right?" Jacob smiled charmingly at her.

" I'll let you off the hook this once…because you are new here and didn't know the rules." Colleen's nose wrinkled, " But please put that thing out. You are far too young to be smoking them."

Jacob stubbed it out into the sand and showed her the wet butt. " Happy?"

" Yes. Don't let me see you with smokes again young man." Colleen gave him a warning look before toddling off. He stuck his tongue out at her but was glad he got caught. He didn't want to take another puff of that "filthy thing".

* * *

Kath sauntered along the beach after watching the exchange between her nephew and that old biddie Colleen Smart. She was quite surprised to her nephew smoking. She smiled when she caught him sticking his tongue out at the woman when she turned her back. He was feisty, her nephew.

It will be tough making him think you are his mother. Kath told herself as she held onto her hat when the strong sea breeze threatened to whip it off her head. Kids have a natural instinct when things aren't quite right. He's going to be hard to fool. She straightened her shoulders determinedly. But Laura's friends will be easy, they are so gullible and trusting.

It was time. To put her years of hard work and practice to the test. There was no room for any foolish mistakes.

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They drew straws again and this time David got the shorter one.

“ Ok, your dare is to…”

“ What?” David demanded. He knew Jacob didn’t like him and was dreading his dare.

“ To kiss Colleen Smart.” Jacob finished. It wasn’t a great dare but it was the only thing he could think of at short notice.

“ Ewww, gross!” Travis shrieked as the others laughed.

“ Aw, easy, I can just give her a peck on the cheek.” David shrugged, acting like it was no big deal, but deep down he was disgusted.

“ Not on the cheek…on the lips…and in front of everyone.” Jacob held up his phone, “ I’ll have my camera ready.”

Tim sniggered and slapped David on the back.

David made a face. Jacob was a dead man for making him do this.

“ I’m not doing it.” He declared, folding his arms suddenly.

Tim’s eyes narrowed, “ Dave, you know the rules.”

David sighed. He didn’t want out of the group. There was no way out of this. He glared hatefully at Jacob before marching up to the diner.

The group watched as David marched up to one of the tables where Colleen was serving. He tapped her on the shoulder. She turned around with a inquiring look.

He leaned forward and kissed her lips. She reeled backwards and stared at him.

“ What…what are you doing David?” she spluttered as he finished the kiss with a loud smack.

She heard kids laughing behind her. Jacob Tate was amongst them. She’s seen young Jacob hanging around with those troublemakers too often.

The kids left and she toddled towards the counter. Some other customers were sniggering and she ignored them.

Irene Roberts grinned at her, “ Tim Morally and David Young up to their old tricks again Colleen?”

“ Yes.” Colleen replied, “ Did you know Jacob is friends with them?”

“ Yes I did.”

“ Shouldn’t we tell Laura her son is involved with the bad crowd?”

“ They are troublemakers but I don’t think they are bad…”

“ Oh yes they are. I think they are the ones who vandalized the school lockers the other day.” Colleen sighed, “ I think we should let Laura know. Jacob has a good head on his shoulders.”

“ Its not our place to tell her Colleen. We should mind our own business.” Irene said with a pointed look when one of Colleen’s gossipy friends rushed up to them.

“ You’ll never guess what I heard!” June Walters exclaimed breathlessly.

Irene winced, she didn’t like June. She was a sixty year old widow who had nothing else better to do but to gossip and spread rumors about people. She was convinced she was bad as Colleen and Madge put together.

“ What?” Colleen asked trying to show she wasn’t interested, but she was all ears.

“ It’s about Morag Bellingham.” June whispered and Colleen looked up eagerly. Irene groaned. She looked like a puppy with a bone.

“ Morag has recently been in a relationship.” June went on.

“ She has? She hasn’t mentioned to us. I wonder who he is.” Colleen mused.

“ Morag wouldn’t mention it to us because its none of our business!” Irene snapped as she wiped the counter.

“ Its not a he.” June corrected Colleen.

“ Excuse me?” Colleen said, taken-aback.

“ Morag’s in a relationship with a woman!”

Irene stared at June. She had no idea Morag went….that way. Morag was very private about her personal life.

“ A woman!” Colleen exclaimed.

“ Keep your voice down.” Irene hissed. She felt sorry for Morag. It was no wonder Morag kept it quiet.

“ Who is it?” Colleen demanded.

“ I don’t know the whole details Colleen. Butt I’ll try and find out.”

When June left, Colleen turned to Irene, “ Now I know why Morag’s never been in a relationship since her marriage broke up.”

Irene nodded. Poor Morag. Her private life was going to be all over town within hours.

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" Who's the other woman then?" someone asked Colleen Smart. It was a few hours later and just as Irene has predicted, the news spread around like wildfire.

" No one knows." Colleen replied, " it could be anyone." She said, " but it's not me." She added quickly in case the stranger had the wrong idea. Then she noticed the woman was writing in a notepad and asked who she was.

" A reporter for Summer Bay newspaper. I am sure the readers would be very interested in hearing about Mrs. Bellingham's life. She's very high profile you know."

" Morag wouldn't like it you know." Irene appeared suddenly and glared at the reporter, " don't you have anything better to do than to report about someone's private life?"

The reporter opened her mouth to say something but Irene beat to it, " Unless you're going to order something, I want you to leave."

" I'm just doing my job." The reporter whined before leaving.

* * *

Morag was at home doing some paperwork for a recent court case when someone knocked on the door. She looked up to see a woman she's never seen before.

" Can I help you?" Morag asked walking to the door.

" I'm from Summer Bay Courier and was wondering if you'd like to talk about the recent news."

Morag frowned, " Recent news?"

" People are talking about your life Mrs. Bellingham. They would be interested in hearing about your recent relationship…"

Morag went white. So everyone knows. It only took a day.

" Get off this property before I call the police." Morag warned the woman, " I will not be answering any of your questions." She paused, " And if I do see anything about me in the paper, you'll have me to answer to."

The reporter knew Morag wasn't someone to mess around with. She left quickly.

Wonderful, this day keeps getting better and better. Morag thought.

* * *

Jacob arrived home and found his mother working on the laptop. " You'll never guess what I heard!" he greeted her, going to straight to the refrigerator.

" What?" his mother asked absentmindedly as she scanned an email.

" It's about Morag Bellingham. She was in a relationship with a woman." He told her. Laura's fingers froze over the keyboard. So now everyone knows.

" D…do they know who the other woman is?" she asked trying to sound nonchalant.

" Nope. We just know Morag was involved with the woman for a couple of months. Something happened and they now broke up." Jacob shook his head, " I never knew that about her. Did you?"

" How would I know?"

" Because the two of you were once friends." Jacob frowned, " Come to think of it, I haven't seen her over here lately."

" We had a falling out." Laura said and decided not to say anything more. In case he put two and two together. Jacob disappeared into his room and Laura leaned back against the sofa. She wondered how Morag was feeling.

She might not even know. Laura told herself. As long as no one realizes who the other woman is, I am safe.

* * *

Amanda Vale entered the apartment and surveyed the kitchen. It was still damaged by the fire Joshua West caused it. She grimaced, it looked terrible and wondered why she was still living here.

Because you can't afford anything else. She reminded herself and went into the study. She grabbed files that contained papers of the Project 56 and a manila envelope fell out of the stash and land at her feet. It had her name on it and she recognized Josh's handwriting.

She opened it and took out a few photos. Her mouth dropped open when she scanned them. They were of Morag Bellingham and some woman she didn't know in passionate clinches on the beach!

I'll get that witch of my back once and for all! Amanda thought stuffing the photos back into the envelope. Thank you Josh!

Morag sighed when she Amanda at the front door. " What is it Ms. Vale?"

" Aren't you going to invite me in?" Amanda asked. Morag opened the door and Amanda entered the house.

" I thought you'd be long gone by now." Morag said to Amanda.

" Why do you think that?"

" With the Mayor now deceased, Project 56 has gone under. What other reason do you have to stay?"

Amanda ignored this. Morag was correct, Project 56 has gone under but it didn't matter. She got what she wanted.

Amanda threw down the envelope, " From now on Morag, you're going to back off."

Morag raised an eyebrow and didn't say a word. " What's this?" she asked picking up the envelope.

" Just a little something Josh left me." Amanda said.

Morag opened it and pulled out the photos. Amanda smiled when the colour drained from Morag's face. But she collected herself and glared at her.

" There is no use in blackmailing me Ms. Vale. Everyone already knows about my private life." Morag said triumphantly.

" Ah yes, but do they know who the other woman is?" Amanda asked and Morag kept silent.

" I guess not." Amanda waved a photo in the air, " If you don't leave me alone, then these photos would be in tomorrow's edition of the newspaper. Do I make myself clear?"

Morag narrowed her eyes. She refused to let this woman intimidate her. She could not believe there had been spare photos all this time.

Amanda put the photos away, " Do we have an agreement?"

Morag stared back at her coldly, " Yes." And Amanda Vale left the house. Morag sank down onto a chair and sighed. Her life would never be the same again.

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Poor Morag. :( Things are going to go downhill now... :(

Update soon, please. :)

Hence naming this fic SPIRAL, I thought it was a good title to go with it.

Author: Here's the latest chapter to start the day off with....happy reading.

And thanks for the feedback. I may even get stuck into writing the fourth part which happens after this fic.


A couple of days later, Tim grabbed Jacob and pulled him aside. “ I hope you got rid of the evidence.” He whispered.

“ Sure. Why?” Jacob asked.

“ There’s gonna be a locker search for the cans used on the lockers. Hyde is still mad that no one has come forward so he’s organizing a locker search. I think its to punish us.”

“ He can’t do that!” Jacob exclaimed, outraged. “ Our lockers are private! He has no right!”

“ I’m as mad as you are but he is the principal. He’s got every right.”

“ But I’ve got things in my locker I don’t want anyone to see.” Jacob protested.

“ Then you better hide ‘em in your bag.” Tim said, “ Because he’s gonna check ‘em in about twenty.”

Jacob grumbled something under his breath as he opened his locker. His face went white when he saw the two cans stored on the top shelf. What were they doing here? He gotten rid of them days ago!

Someone’s trying to get you into trouble! Jacob thought. Only his friends knew he was the one who did the graffiti, no one else. So it had to be someone in the group who broke into his locker and put them there.

Who has it in for me? Jacob wondered as he hid the cans into his backpack along with a few other private items. He arranged his text books and Frisbee neatly before zipping his bag shut. The only person who truly hates me is David the Loudmouth.

The locker search begun and of course Hyde found no evidence. Jacob sighed with relief and during lunch time, threw the cans into the dumpster at the back of the diner.

He found David playing pool with two of his friends who weren’t members of the group.

He shoved David against the pool table. “ What’s the big idea?” David protested, almost dropping his pool stick.

“ You tried to have me caught out didn’t you?” Jacob hissed as anger boiled over.

“ I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“ You put those spray cans back into my locker.” Jacob said, “ If Tim finds out about this, you are a dead man.”

“ Go ahead and tell.” David said, “ You don’t have any proof that I did it.” His eyes narrowed, “ It could have been him for all you know.”

“ We both know it was you.” Tim snarled as his fist clenched. He raised it to take a swing at the loser but one of his friends grabbed his arm.

“ Back of mate,” he said.

David’s eyes glinted, “ Let go of him and see if he can take me.”

Jacob yanked his arm free and took another swing but David ducked.

“ Oi! No fighting!” Alf Stewart declared, rushing forward to break the squabble. He grabbed the shorter boy’s arm as he tried to take another swing at David Young.

“ You are a dead man David Young.” Jacob said his whole body trembling from anger. He then ran from the club.

“ Who’s that?” Alf Steward asked David, “ I’ve never seen him around here before.”

“ Oh he’s new. He moved here while you were…away.” David replied as he straightened himself. Everyone knew Alf Stewart was recently released from prison and didn’t like being reminded of that fact.

Alf decided to keep an eye on that new kid. David Young was really a good kid and he knew his father. He didn’t like newcomers arriving and beating up the locals. It just wasn’t on.

* * *

That night, Laura headed for Noah’s Bar. Jacob was at home studying for a test and he more than capable of looking after himself. He’s always been an independent young man.

She knew Morag wouldn’t be around. The rumors were still running hot and Morag would be in hiding for a while until it was old news.

Alf Stewart was working behind the bar. It was the first time she saw in him in person. She’s heard a lot about the man-from Morag and other locals.

She ordered her usual drink and went to sit on the couch and people watched. Beth Hunter came in and joined Alf at the bar. She was taking over his shift it seemed. Alf chatted to Beth while glancing her way.

Laura sent a text to her son making sure he was okay when Jacob walked in. She looked surprised to see him and asked what he was doing.

“ I need a study break.”

Alf looked up to see the woman talking to that kid. He had asked Beth if she knew her. The woman’s name was Laura Tate and she was the young bloke’s mother.

Laura sat down with her son. He was okay to be here because he was with a parent.

“ Oh no.” Jacob made a face when he saw Mr. Stewart walking over.

“ What?”

“ Mr. Stewart’s on his way.”

“ So?” Laura said, “ I’ve heard a lot about him…he’s probably just going to introduce himself.”

Jacob thought about earlier and winced.

“ Are you his mother?” Alf asked, nodding at her boy.

“ Yes I am. I’m Laura Tate.” Laura held out her hand but Alf ignored it.

“ Your son was at the surf club picking a fight with another kid earlier.” Alf said, “ I just want to say I don’t tolerate fighting at my club.”

“ Um, I think you have the wrong boy Mr. Stewart. My son doesn’t pick fights.”

“ I had to break it up before it got out of hand.” Alf said, “ Usually I don’t like to interfere, but this a caution.” He then went back to the bar.

“ Jacob is this true?” his mother demanded.

Jacob lowered his eyes. “ yes.” He mumbled and she sighed.

“ Jacob I’m surprised at you! What did this boy do to make you lose your temper?”

“ It doesn’t matter.” Jacob muttered, “ I’m sorry it happened and it wont happen again.”

“ You’ve got your father’s temper but you’ve always held in check.”

“ I’m sorry,” Jacob apologized again, looking ashamed.

“ You’d tell me if something is wrong wouldn’t you?” Laura asked him. He always did in the past.

Jacob nodded and fell silent, “ I’m going back home.” He murmured. He said goodbye and shuffled off. Laura thought he looked embarrassed at being caught out losing his temper.

I just hope he doesn’t grow up and become his father. Laura thought.

David Young walked along the beach as he glanced at his watch. He hurried his pace, he was late and his father would kill him for being late. Eric Young was a stickler for punctuality.

He didn’t make it far when someone grabbed him by his jacket collar and hurled him face first onto the sand.

He grunted but wasn’t winded, just surprised at the sudden attack. As he rolled over, his first thought was Jacob.

His attacker wore dark clothes and wore a cap that hid his face. His eyes widened with terror when he saw the knife in his hand. Jacob wouldn’t go that far would he?

“ Jacob, please.” He started to cry as Jacob advanced slowly forward, “ I promise I won’t hassle you anymore. Just don’t kill me.”

Jacob (or whoever it was) stood silently, holding the knife threateningly. David then did the only thing he could think of, he opened his mouth and screamed.

It was then his attacker lunged, the knife glinting in the moonlight.

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Beth and Tony heard terrified screams that pierced the night. They ran towards two people struggling in the sand. A black-clad figure ran off and as they approached, Beth saw it was David Young, trembling with fear, covering his eyes with his arm.

" Hey, mate?" Tony bent down to his student, " It's okay. The guy's gone."

David looked at them, his eyes wide. " A-are you sure?"

" He ran off…I think we scared him." Beth answered as they helped him up.

" He wanted to kill me…he had a knife." David shuddered.

Tony and Beth exchanged glances.

" Maybe we should take you to the police station."

David hesitated, " I won't be much help, I couldn't actually see him very well. I'd rather go home."

" But its in the public's best interests if they know a dangerous person is on the loose." Tony pointed out.

" I guess." David said and agreed to be taken to the police station.

* * *

" I didn't get a good look at him. He wore black clothes." David shrugged as Detective Peter Baker asked him some questions.

" How tall do you think he was?"

" About the same height as you." David said, " And I'm not even sure he was a he. The person could have been female."

Peter nodded, " and this person wore a cap?"

" Yeah but it was too dark to see what colour it was." David shrugged, " That's all I can tell you."

" I'll need you to call your father and ask him to come down here. Since you are under age, you need a guardian to sign some for you."

" Okay." The image of the knife lunching for him came flooding back. David tried to not cry.

" It's okay David," Peter assured him, " We'll get him."

" But I didn't give you much to go on." David whispered. They finished up and David's father arrived at the police station.

It was when they were filling out the forms David decided to bite the bullet. It might help the police.

" I think I may have some idea on who it might be." David declared, " but I might be wrong too. I don't want an innocent person go to jail."

" Just tell us anything that might help us. No matter how insignificant it might be."

David told him about his fight with Jacob earlier and how Jacob threatened him.

" All right thanks." Peter said. He knew it was very unlikely it could be Jacob. But Jacob has been through some things lately. It could never hurt to have him bought in for questioning.

It was almost nine am when Detective Baker went to the Tate's residence but no one was home. That's when he realized Jacob would be at school at this point of time.

So he drove to the school and went to the Principal's office to ask permission to speak to Jacob.

Barry Hyde looked very surprised and demanded to know what it was about.

" I'm sorry but it's confidential." Peter answered. Hyde asked his secretary to collect Jacob.

* * *

Jacob was in the middle of PE when Tony Holden pulled him aside, " Jacob, Mr. Hyde needs to see you."

He froze, dropping the ball, " But…I haven't done anything." He protested, swallowing. Hyde finally knows.

" Its not Mr. Hyde who wants to see you." Mr. Holden explained, " Go to the principal's office."

Right in front of the whole class, Jacob was escorted off the field and into the principal's office.

" I need to ask you a few questions." Peter told Jacob once the youth arrived.

Jacob stared at him and crossed his arms, " I'm not answering anything. I haven't done anything wrong."

" Where's your mother? She needs to be present during the interview."

" She's doing some errands. I can call her." Jacob said taking out his phone.

" Good. Tell her to meet us at the police station." Peter glanced at Barry, " You don't mind if I borrow him for awhile?"

Barry nodded and the they left for the station.

* * *

" You are where?" Laura was just climbing into the car after doing some grocery shopping. She had gotten a call from Jacob, he sounded a bit upset.

" At the police station. The police want to question me…Mum, I haven't done anything!"

" Then why do they want you?"

" I don't know." Jacob whispered.

" I'll be right over. Don't say a word til I get there." She hung up and stared at her phone. Perhaps they might need a lawyer? She dialed a number and a familiar voice answered.

" Morag Bellingham."

" Um…Morag. It's Laura." She stammered.

" Laura?" Morag sounded very surprised to hear from her. Laura did not blame her.

" My son's in some kind of trouble. The police want to speak to him and I think I may need a lawyer. Its short notice and…"

" That's quite all right. Are they down at the station?"

" Yes."

" I'll be right there."

" Thank you." Laura said and disconnected the call.

Morag drove to the station with mixed feelings. For the past few days she had been very hurt and angry with Laura…but she had struggled to hate her. Morag could never hate her. The truth was, she missed her and loved her more than she ever loved anyone.

Maybe we can patch things up and put our relationship back on track? Morag thought hopefully.

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Laura arrived at the police station the same time Morag did. They both looked at each other silently.

“ Laura...we need to talk.” Morag said finally.

“ Now is not the best time.”

“ I know…afterwards.”

Laura nodded, “ We need to clear the air between us.” She said. Morag opened her mouth to reply but Laura quickly added, “ We need to end things properly.”

“ End things? But I thought-“

“ You thought by helping me today I’d want to get back together with you?”

“ Well, no, but I was hoping we’d be able to-“

“ We will talk…later.” Laura walked inside the station and Morag followed.

“ Jacob, you ok?” Laura asked her son once she saw him. He nodded and she turned to Peter. “ Just what is this all about? You have no right questioning my son! He’s only fifteen years old!”

“ Age does not matter in a police interview.” Peter replied bluntly.

Morag put a hand on Laura’s arm and gave her a look that clearly meant, calm down. Don’t make things worse for Jacob.

“ Last night, David Young was attacked on the beach.” Peter began and looked straight at Jacob, “ Do you know anything about it?”

“ No, it’s the first time I’ve heard of it.” His mind whirled at the news. Someone attacked loudmouth David! But who? He was not very popular at the school. A lot of kids thought David was a snobby jerk.

“ He was attacked and he believes his attacker was you.”

“ Me?” Jacob stared at Peter, “ but why would he…I mean, he doesn’t like me and I don’t like him, but why would I attack him?”

“ He says you threatened him earlier. Why?”

“ I was angry…I got angry and I hit him…but I didn’t mean what I say.” Jacob’s hands felt cold and sweaty. He wiped them nervously on his jeans.

“ What was the fight about?”

Jacob thought quickly. He told them about the graffiti in the school and how David planted the cans in the locker to frame him. He lost his temper and hit him but that was all. He didn’t attack him on the beach.

“ And besides, I was at home last night.”

“ At 9pm?”

“ Yes.” He glanced at his mother, “ Tell him Mum.”

“ That’s right. Jacob was at home.” She nodded.

“ All right.” Peter paused, “ You must let Barry Hyde know that David was the one who vandalized the lockers at school.”

“ O-Okay.” Jacob said nodding.

* * *

After the interview, Morag and Laura went back to Laura’s apartment to talk. They chose her apartment for privacy.

“ Do you know?” Laura asked Morag, “ Do you know everyone…knows?”

Morag nodded, “ Yes, I’ve been laying low. Apparently I’m hot gossip.” She shook her head, “ I am thinking of going back to the city for awhile. “

“ I think that’s a good idea.” Laura agreed and for a moment, Morag looked hurt. Then the hurt look quickly disappeared.

“ There’s something I need to tell you….before you hear it from someone else.” Morag said, “ Remember those photos of us?”

“ How can I forget?” Laura sighed, “ Thank God we got rid of them before they circulated.”

Morag cleared her throat, “ Um, they weren’t all quite destroyed.”

“ W-what do you mean?” Laura stammered.

“ Apparently there were still some copies…and Ms. Amanda Vale has them in her possession…of all everyone in this town, she has to have them!”

“ How did she get them?” Laura knew Amanda Vale by sight but has not actually met the woman.

“ I think Mr. West gave her copies.” Morag said, “ Amanda blackmailed me…she warned me to back off or she’ll send them to the newspaper. Then everyone will know you are…were…the other woman.”

“ Unlike you Morag, I don’t care if people learn I was the other woman. I was all for telling people about us but you wanted to keep us quiet. “ Laura shrugged.

Morag opened her mouth to retort but held her anger in check. It won’t do any good to go off the rails now. She wanted to patch things up with Laura, not make it worse.

“ Unless the people in this town accept us, I think we may be in for a rough ride.” Morag took a deep breath, “ I also want you to know, I still care about you. More than I ever thought I would. I would like us to start over again…”

Laura stared back at Morag. “ I’m still hurt at what you did, but I realize I have to see things in your perspective. You were told Sam wouldn’t have ever woken up. The doctors had been wrong and it wasn’t your fault.” She trailed off before continuing, “ I see that now. Sometimes you have to lie to protect the ones you love.”

“ I’m glad you finally-“

“ I want us to start fresh. But on one condition.”

Morag nodded, not trusting herself to speak.

“ That we tell people about us. It may be hard and as you said we could be in for a rough ride. But if we stick together and commit ourselves, people may learn to be not so narrow-minded.” Laura then smiled and took her hand, “ and Amanda Vale can go to hell.”

Morag smiled at that last comment. Before she could say anything, Laura leaned forward and kissed her.

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The phone next to them rang and Morag disentangled herself from Laura's embrace. They were lying together on the couch and have been for at least a couple of hours.

Morag straightened her blouse and looked at the phones on the coffee table. " It's yours." She said as Laura sat up.

Laura answered it and talked with Jacob for awhile.

" He's going to be here soon." Laura said hanging up, " Do you want to stay?"

Morag glanced at her watch, " No, I have a few things to do so I better get home." She stood up and picked up her glasses and handbag, " I'll call in the morning."

" Don't forget what we talked about." Laura reminded her.

" I won't." Morag promised. They said goodbye and left.

* * *

Jacob was on his way home when he was shoved from behind. He managed to regain his balance before falling flat on his face. He whirled to face an angry David.

" Why did you tell them I was the one who damaged the lockers?"

Jacob shrugged, " Why did you tell them I was the one who attacked you?"

" Because you did!"

" You have no proof…and besides I have an alibi. The police checked it out and I'm in the clear."

" Well…you have no proof of me doing the damage to the lockers." David narrowed his eyes.

" Then I guess were' even." Jacob pointed out. " So what happened with Hyde?"

" He's having me clean up your mess. He's also given me a month detention. He's not suspending me. I can't believed that they took your word over mine without any proof." David was so angry and frustrated, he wanted to lash out. But it would just get him into more trouble.

" Just wait til Tim here about this."

" What do you mean?"

" Well, the rule is, if someone squeals on someone else, then they are out." David said, " I can't wait to see the back of you Jacob." Then he turned and marched off.

Jacob was going to go home but he had to get to Tim first before David did. He found him in the surf club arguing loudly with Alf Stewart. Alf gave him a threatening glare before leaving.

" What was that about?" Jacob asked Tim.

" It doesn't matter. What's up?"

Jacob told him everything.

" He actually thought that you attacked him?"

" Yeah. I had no choice but to tell the cops David tried to frame me. I didn't know what else to do." Jacob looked pleadingly at Tim, " I hope you don't kick me out…it's all a big mess."

" We'll let this one slide for now. No offense or anything but you don't have the guts to attack anyone…it must be someone else. David's not very popular you know. He's just trying to lay blame on you 'cause he hates you."

" I know." Jacob said, thankful Tim was being nice about it.

" Want to shoot some pool?"

" No…I told mum I'd be home in ten minutes. See you in school tomorrow."

" Okay. I'll be thinking about David and his future with us. And I'm also thinking of disbanding the dare club."

" Why?"

" I'm getting bored with it."

" Don't give it up…I think it's a cool idea."

" I'll think about it." Tim said then his eyes lit up, " Did you hear about Morag?"

" Sure. Everyone's talking about her and the other woman."

" I wonder who it is?" Tim's always had a vendetta against Morag. " I'm going to find out who it is…want to help?"

Jacob nodded, " You still thinking of ways to get revenge after what Morag did to your dad?"

" Yeah. And this news might be the answer. I'm going to hit her where it would hurt the most. "

" Sit down." Laura patted the couch and Jacob joined her. " There's something I need to tell you about."

" What?" Jacob asked nervously. Had she somehow found out about him and the lockers?

" I suppose you've heard about Morag?"

" Yeah. Morag and the mystery woman."

Laura swallowed, she wondered how Jacob would react. Would he even understand? After all, he was only fifteen. But Jacob was more mature than most fifteen year olds. She decided to just bite the bullet.

" The other woman Jacob…is me."

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Jacob stared at his mother, trying to absorb what she had just told him. Now everything made sense…he now realized why Laura kept seeing Morag even after the custody hearing was well and truly over. The late nights at Noah’s Bar, the phone calls, and the falling out between them.

And all this time…how could I have been so stupid? Jacob wondered. “ Mum…why didn’t you tell me?”

“ Because…I didn’t think you would understand.” She said slowly, “ that you would feel embarrassed-“

“ For goodness sake, “ Jacob interrupted, “ Give me a little more credit Mum! I am a city boy, not a narrow-minded hippie! I have a more open mind than any of the people here. I can’t believe you don’t trust me.”

“ Jacob, this doesn’t have anything to do with-“

“ Yes it does. If you trusted me, you would have told me you were in a relationship with Morag a long time ago.” Jacob stood up quickly, “ I finally know where I stand when it comes to us mum.”

“ Jacob, please-“ but he ignored her and headed for his room, slamming the door.

Laura sat back and took a gulp of her coffee-which had gone cold. She was surprised at her son’s reaction. She had thought he’d be too embarrassed to talk about her love life. But then again she’s always known he was more mature than most fifteen year olds.

What he said was right, you need to give him a little more credit. Her face burned with shame, you should have trusted him straight off the bat.

* * *

Morag sat at the table, finishing some paperwork for an upcoming court case when her brother walked in, holding a newspaper and a takeaway coffee.

“ I wasn’t expecting you home until late,” Alf said in surprise.”

“ The client cancelled on me at the last minute.” Morag explained as she stacked her papers in a neat pile.

“ Oh…well, just to let you know, the town is still gossiping about you.”

Morag slowly took off her glasses, “ Alfred, do I really care what other people think of me?”

“ I suppose not.” Alfred agreed, “ But you are worried about what it might do to your reputation as a high-profile solicitor aren’t you…you can’t fool me Morag.”

“ You’re right, it does concern me a little bit. But if my colleagues don’t care about my private life, then there won’t be a problem.” She scrutinized her brother for awhile and Alf knew what was coming.

“ And what about you Alfred?”

“ What about me?” he asked.

“ How do you feel about…the current situation?”

“ I was a bit surprised but afterward I got over it. Your private life is your private life. You can do what you like and if no one else likes it, then its their problem.”

Morag nodded, she knew this was going to be his reaction, she was merely testing him. She should have known he’d have an open-mind.

Unlike some other certain people she knew.

“ I think I might know who this other woman is.” Alfred said.

“ You…how did you find out?”

“ I kind of put two and two together and it all fits. Its Laura isn’t it?” he asked and she nodded.

“ Why did the two of you break up?” Alfred asked, surprising her with the question.

Morag told him what happened, “ I’m not proud of what I have done, but I did it to protect her.”

Alfred nodded. He could it see from both of their point of views.

“ And now?”

“ Now…we’re sorting things out.” Morag said, “ Taking one day at a time.”

Alfred then remembered the time Morag told him of her friendship with a woman named Laura…and how her eyes would lit up when she talked about her. Morag had been happy…happier than he had seen her in a long time.

Morag’s mobile rang then and she answered it as he disappeared upstairs.

“ You told your son?”

“ He took the news ok, but he was upset I wasn’t trusting of him in the first place.”

“ So…he accepts us?”

“ More or less, yes.” Laura paused, “ Listen, I have an idea that will put Amanda Vale in her place….”

Amanda got a surprise when she received an unlikely visitor. It was a woman named Laura Tate. Amanda didn’t know her but has seen her around.

“ I know you know.” Laura greeted her as she barged in.

“ Come in if you’d like.” Amada said wryly. This woman reminded her of Morag…they both deserved each other.

“ I know what?”

“ That I’m the other woman.” Laura said, “ Hand over those photos. Our private life has nothing to do with you.”

“ I do not care if you know….the point of all this, no one else knows.”

“ Actually, that’s not true. Everyone knows.” Laura smiled sweetly, “ So you might as well hand them over.”

Amanda sighed and went to get them. Before she did however, she asked, “ How do I know you’re telling the truth?”

“ Ring up Alf Stewart and find out for yourself. Or you can even ring my son.”

“ Your son knows?”

“ Yep.”

Amanda knew she was wasting her time hanging onto these photos. They would all be on Morag’s side anyway if she did try and circulate them. She handed them over.

“ Thank you.” Laura started to leave but turned, “ Oh and Amanda?”

“ Yes?”

“ Go to hell.”

Alf found Laura in the diner, having dinner on her own. Her son wasn’t anywhere to be seen so he took the opportunity to speak to her.

“ Listen…I know that you are Morag’s partner.” Alf said, “ And I just want to know…I’m glad Morag has finally found someone. Its been years since her divorce and you are the first one who has truly made her happy.”

Laura blushed, not knowing what to say.

Alf stood up then, “ That’s all I wanted to say. And if no one else the idea of you and Morag, then it them who ahs the problem.”

“ Thanks Alf.” She smiled.

“ Morag’s not one for sentiments and neither am I. But I do know this-that woman loves you. Don’t throw it away over a few tiffs.” With that parting show, he left the diner.

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