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Farewell to Love

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It wasn't a motif I was planning to revisit but when it became clear it was never going to happen I decided this was one story that needed telling.Forgive the indulgence.

Story Title: Farewell to Love

Type of story: Long

Main Characters: Belle, Geoff, Annie, Irene, Aden, Nicole and others

BTTB rating: T/A

Genre: Romance/Angst

Does story include spoilers: No

Any warnings: Sexual content:Moderate.Violence:None.Language:None.

Summary: When Belle discovers she only has months to live, she finds herself seeking comfort from an unexpected source.


“No, you must be wrong, there must be some mistake!”

The words echoed in Belle’s ears.They were the worst words she’d ever heard, filled with terror, with desperation.The thing that made them worst of all was the fact that the words had been her own.

Rachel had looked at her and Belle had seen how much of a struggle it was for her to stay in control, for her to maintain that calm, professional attitude, and realised that everything she’d said was beyond question.“Belle, I promise you if there was any other options I would tell you.”

She sat on the hospital bed, trying to compose herself for what had to come next, for the answer to the summons she’d sent out.The door opened a crack and Rachel peered through.“They’re here.”Belle received the information with a curt nod.“Do you want me to wait here while you..?”

Belle shook her head.“Just show them in.”She took a deep breath and watched as they all filed into the room, concern etched on each of their faces.Irene, Aden, Geoff and Annie.Probably the people she was closest to in the world.Definitely four of the top six.

“What’s going on, love?”Irene asked,“What are you doing in here?”

“I’ve…I’ve been having some tests done, Irene.I didn’t want to worry you all until I knew the results.” Belle swallowed hard.Saying the words would make it seem real even though she knew it was real already. “I’ve got bowel cancer.”

Silence.She could hear the beating of her heart and knew that all theirs were beating just as fast.Then Irene put on that comforting smile, the brave face that Belle knew was just as fragile as her own.“Well, don’t worry, love, I mean, doctors today can do marvellous things, they’ll have you well again in no time.”

Belle shook her head, wishing she didn’t have to dump all this on them at once, wishing it hadn’t been dumped on her, wishing…“It’s too late.It’s already spread too far for them to remove it all.”

It was Annie that broke the silence this time, her voice small, uncomprehending.“But…they’re not just going to let you die…”

“Annie’s right, love,”Irene agreed,“They’ve got radiotherapy and chemotherapy…”

“None of those are going to save me,”Belle insisted, not wanting to get angry but wanting them to stop, wanting them to stop feeling the hope that she’d already lost,“If I have them I’ll just feel sicker sooner.”She could see them preparing more arguments, more objections and cut in first.“Don’t you think I’ve already asked all these questions?Don’t you think if there was any chance I could beat this I’d take it?I don’t want to die.”The words were out and they just kept spilling out of her mouth as the tears flowed down her cheeks and she found herself thumping her legs in frustration, thumping the body that had failed her, that was slowly being eaten up from the inside.“I don’t want to die, I don’t want to die, I don’t want to die…”

And then Irene understood and did the only thing she could, put her arms around Belle, holding her, comforting her.Belle looked over her shoulder at the others:Annie, tears streaming down her own cheeks, turning and burying her head in Geoff’s chest as he hugged her, trying to be the strong and stoic one as always, and Aden, who hadn’t said a word since she’d first opened her mouth, who’d just stared at her looking like his world had fallen apart.She reached out a hand to him and to her relief he took it, allowed her to pull him over to them, his arms encircling her and Irene both as he added to her comfort.

Irene, Annie and Geoff were all gone, only Aden and Belle remained.He’d sat alongside her on the bed, both of them leaning back against the wall.“So what now?”he asked.

“I live,”she replied quietly, realising the irony of the statement,“For a while anyway.”

He looked at her, his eyes containing only the tiniest spark of life.“How long?”

“Maybe three months.”

She could see him trying to be strong, trying to be supportive for her.“It’s not fair.”

“No,”she agreed,“It’s not.On any of you.”

There was a gentle knock at the door before Geoff pushed it open, looking worried that he might be intruding.“I’m going to run Irene and Annie home,”he explained,“Un…unless you want us to stay?”

She smiled gently at the simple sincerity of the offer.“It’s okay,”she told him and held out her hand to him.

He looked shocked for a moment at the invitation but then he grasped it, holding onto that small contact. “Anything that we can do, you know you only have to ask.”

She nodded.“I know, Geoff.Thank you.”And she was surprised at how much better that simple offer made her feel.

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Thanks for the words of encouragement.It's kind of ironic that when I first came up with that opening I decided not to include a scene of Belle finding out because I thought they'd do that in the show... Anyway, hope you like this one.


Annie could see the light on downstairs so she knew she wasn’t the only one in the house who couldn’t sleep.She quietly made her way down there and caught sight of her brother, sat with his back to her. “Geoff?”she asked cautiously.

Geoff rubbed a hand across his eyes-wiping away tears?, she wondered-before turning to her and giving a welcoming smile.“Hi, Annie.”

Annie finished her descent of the stairs and went to sit beside him.“Are you all right?”

He waved a hand, as though trying to dismiss it.“It’s just…”

“Belle,”she finished quietly.

He nodded.“Yeah.”

“I just…I don’t know what to say or do.She’s like a sister to us.”Annie saw the doubtful expression flicker across Geoff’s face and looked at him in surprise.“What?”

Geoff chose his words carefully.“If it was you that was dying…I wouldn’t feel like this.I mean, I’d feel just as bad but…in a different way.”

Annie didn’t really understand what he was saying.“What do you mean?”

Geoff didn’t understand it himself.He didn’t even know there was anything to understand, not until Belle had said what she said and he’d suddenly realised what his life would be like when she wasn’t around.“I guess I mean…I don’t think of Belle the same way I do you.”

“Are you sure you’re going to be okay tomorrow?”Aden asked as they were about to go to bed.

The question took Belle by surprise.“What do you mean?”

“You said you were going to see your mum, tell her about…what’s happening.”

“I thought we were going to see her together.”

It was Aden’s turn to look surprised.“Belle, I hardly know your mum.”

“I know but…I could do with you there.This is going to be hard, Aden, for both of us.”

“Yeah and…your mum’s not gonna want some guy she’s only met a couple of times there.It’d be better off just being the two of you.”

Belle wanted to argue, to tell Aden that she needed him there, that she wasn’t sure if she could face going through it all again on her own.But something about the way he kept avoiding her gaze told her that such an attempt would be useless.

Geoff wasn’t sure what it was that drew him to the house.But he found himself walking up the drive just as Belle was getting into her car.“Woah, Belle, where are you going?”

Belle looked at him with the air of someone who had a difficult task ahead of them and wanted to get on with it.“I’m going to the city.To see Mum.”

“You’re going to tell her?”Belle nodded.Geoff looked back at the house, expecting to see Aden appear at any minute.“On your own?”

“Aden had to work.”

There was something about the way she said it that told Geoff there was more to it than that but he didn’t press it.Instead he grabbed Belle’s hand.“Come on.”

“What?”Belle struggled to break free as he dragged her down the street.“Geoff, what are you doing?”

“I’ll drive you.”


“I’ll go to the city with you.”

Belle pulled him to a halt and just stood there, looking at him.For a moment, he thought he’d done the wrong thing, that she was going to tell him to leave her alone.Then she nodded.“I’d like that.”

Amanda had shown Belle and Geoff into the living room when they’d arrived and insisted on making some coffee before coming through to join them.“So what’s the visit about?”she asked,“Not that you need an excuse to pop down here but you made it sound important.”

Belle shot a nervous look at Geoff who nodded his encouragement.She turned back to Amanda.“I’m ill.”

Amanda’s face froze in shock, as though she sensed what was coming.“Ill?”


“What…what are they doing?”Amanda seemed to compose herself, become businesslike.“What’s the name of your doctor?I’ll give them a call and…”

“They said it’s inoperable.”

“Well, what do they know, they’re just a small town hospital.Don’t worry, Belle, I’ll get you the best doctors in the country…”

It was happening again, Belle realised in horror.Amanda wasn’t listening, didn’t want to hear it.None of them wanted to hear it.She was having to sit through the same old litany of false hopes, of things that she knew couldn’t save her.

Then she felt Geoff’s hand encircle her own as he said quietly,“Mrs.Baker…we all asked these questions.”

Amanda stopped, looking at him.“And what were the answers?”

“That we just have to make the most of Belle.For as long as we’ve got her.”

Belle actually heard Amanda catch her breath, almost as though she was stifling a sob.“Oh god, Belle,”she whispered,“Oh god.”

She moved to sit beside Belle, putting her arms around her.And it wasn’t until Belle returned the hug, with her one free arm, that she realised Geoff was still holding her hand.

They drove back in silence.It had been evening before Amanda had let them go, making them promise to keep in touch and visit whenever possible while she promised to come to Summer Bay when…when he needed to.Belle held it together until they passed the city limits, until they were on the dark country road back to Summer Bay.Then she felt the tears beginning to fall.She sat in her seat, her body convulsing with more and more sobs until she felt they would never stop, that she’d be crying for the rest of her life.

She felt Geoff brake and ease the car gently over to the side of the road.They come to a stop and he looked at her with sad eyes.She buried her head in his shoulder and felt his arms around her, holding her, until she finally ran out of tears.

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Thanks for your comments, hope you like this.


Aden had stayed out as long as possible.He wasn’t entirely sure why he’d done so or at least if he was sure, he didn’t want to admit it.One thing he was sure of…he hadn’t expected to come home to find Belle standing there with her bags packed.“Belle?What’s going on?”

She hesitated for a moment and then she said it.“I’m moving back in with Irene.”

“What, just because of this morning?”

“I know why you didn’t want to come with me, Aden.It’s because you were worried you couldn’t cope. You knew that I’d be upset, you knew that Mum would be upset and you didn’t know if you’d be able to handle that.”He didn’t answer.Didn’t deny it.“And…I’m not sure if you could cope with me dying.That’s why I need to go back to Irene’s.So I’m with people that I know are going to be there.”

He couldn’t believe she was saying this.After everything they’d been through, this couldn’t be happening. It was even more incomprehensible than her dying.“One mistake and that’s it?You’re gone?”

“Aden, you couldn’t cope with seeing me going through withdrawal.Do you really think you can bear to see me dying?”Again, he found himself unable to deny the truth of her words.“In a few months’ time, I’m going to be so weak I can’t even get out of bed.I’m going to be throwing up because the pain in my stomach is so bad.And if you walk out on me then, I’m not going to be strong enough to cope.I need to do this now.While I can deal with it.Maybe I’m being selfish but I need to be selfish.”

She lifted up her bag, headed towards the door, but he caught her arm, stopped her.“Belle…this isn’t what I want.”

She was closer to him now and he could see she was close to tears.“I know.You want us to get married and have kids and grow old together.But I’m not going to get married and have kids.”Her voice caught for a moment.“I’m not even going to grow old.I need to do this.”

“So, what?You walk out that door and I never see you again?It’s like you’re dead already?”

“I hope not.I haven’t got a lot of life left, Aden.I hope there’s room for a bit more of you in it.”She paused and pressed her lips against his for what he knew was the last time.He didn’t respond.He knew if he did he’d want to hold her, keep her there.And he’d seen in her eyes that that wasn’t going to happen.

Irene had had to go out so Geoff had volunteered to wait in.He was pacing the floor for what felt like the umpteenth time, wondering what he was going to say to welcome her back, wondering if welcoming her was even the right thing to do, when Belle finally arrived.

Over the last few months, Geoff had seen Belle looking fragile on a number of occasions and had come to realise that underneath that aggressive exterior that had stunned him into submission when he first met her there was a very vulnerable person.But he’d never seen her looking as broken as he had done on far too many times these last few days, as if her whole world was falling apart.Which, he supposed, it was.

“Are you okay?”he asked, realising the stupidity of the question a moment later.

Belle shook her head, tears in her eyes.“I just had to tell the man I love that I can’t be with him.”

Geoff hurried over to her and puts his arms round her.He felt her return the hug, resting her head against his chest.

“This is getting to be a habit,”she said at last, sounding a bit more like the old Belle.

He tried to sound casual.“Well…whenever you need it.”

It wasn’t a sight Nicole had expected to see when she came into the surf club:Aden sat at a table on his own, a drink in front of him and several empty glasses to suggest he’d been there a while.“Has something happened?”she asked as she reached him.

Aden took a large gulp of his drink before replying,“Belle walked out on me.”

Nicole was stunned, everything had seemed to be going great between the two of them.“Well, you’ll patch it up,”she replied as she slid into the seat opposite him,“I mean, you two always do…”

He shook his head.“Doesn’t make any difference.She’ll be gone soon anyway.”

“What do you mean?”

It took another drink from his glass before Aden could answer.“She’s dying.”

The answer seemed so absurd that Nicole couldn’t take it in.“What?”

“She’s got cancer and she’s dying.And she thinks I won’t be able to cope with it.And you know what? She’s probably right.”For a moment Nicole thought he was going to start drinking again but instead he set his glass down.“I can’t believe that just two weeks ago, I was…You know what I was going to do.”

“You were going to ask her to marry you,”Nicole replied quietly.

Aden nodded.“Good job I never got my hands on that ring, hey?”He shook his head in disgust.“It’s like some sick joke.”

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You ended Adelle... :(

Yes.Sorry.It's kind of traditional.I like to think I've written a couple of pretty decent Adelle break-ups in my time...and at least one really bad one.

Hope you all enjoy this.


Annie had made it through the morning lessons somehow.She’d done the bare minimum of work in classes, saying nothing.The teachers hadn’t spoken to her, perhaps knowing what was going on and understanding that she just wanted to be left to work on her own.

She sat on a bench at the side of the school field, watching everyone else milling around, as if the world was going on without her and she was just left standing still.

“Do you want some company?”Jai asked.She hadn’t even realised he was standing there.

She gave him a slight smile, all she could manage, and nodded to the place next to her.“Help yourself.”

He slid into the seat, his face a mask of concern.“Nicole told me about Belle.”

Annie nodded.“I think it’s pretty much all around town now.”

“How do you feel?”Jai sighed.“Sorry, dumb question.”

“No, it’s not.I don’t know how I feel.”Annie looked at him, hoping for some answer that would solve all her problems.“Belle’s alive but…she’s not going to be for much longer.And it’s like we’re all in mourning already.And I don’t know what to do, whether to just pretend nothing’s happened, whether to try and do something special for her.I mean, would that just upset her, if I treated her like she was different?”

Jai swallowed hard.“Maybe…you could just try spending time with her?I mean, when I look back now and think about my family, I keep thinking of all sorts of time when I was out playing with friends or something and I think…‘Why didn’t I just spend time with them?’”

Annie nodded.“That makes sense.Thanks.And…thanks for listening to me spouting off.”

“Annie, I know we aren’t together anymore, but you can still talk to me.Even if it just means spouting off.”He smiled at her and, her worries forgotten for a moment, she found herself smiling back.

The last few days had been difficult.He hadn’t really known how he was supposed to react.He was glad to have Belle around of course, even though he knew that breaking up with Aden had been hard on her.But then there was the other reason for her being back.The fact that it was only temporary, that before long she wouldn’t be with them.Wouldn’t be anywhere.

When Martha had suggested she might be looking for help down on the farm, Geoff had jumped at the chance.Almost anything to get out of the house, to distract himself for a few hours from the fact that very soon he…they were going to lose her.She’d pointed him in the direction of one of the vegetable beds and told him to start weeding, then left him to his own devices.Which had been fine for an hour or two, until he ran into the problem.

The weed wouldn’t shift.He’d got rid of most of the others but this one was in a difficult place, wedged between two plants that he didn’t want to spoil.He’d placed the garden fork at the best angle he could, tried to ease it clear, to gently remove it from the crops it was spoiling.But it wouldn’t shift.No matter how much he tried he couldn’t move it, nothing he did was making any difference, he couldn’t do anything to change what was going to happen…

With a roar of anger, he pulled at the weed, yanking it out of the ground with brute force, taking the vegetables he’d been trying to save with it, he didn’t care.He swung the fork backwards and forwards through the trench, battering some of the plants, uprooting others as he shouted in frustration.

“Geoff!Geoff, stop!”Martha came running towards him, concerned both for him and for the target of his fury.“You’ll destroy the whole crop!”

Geoff stopped and looked at his handiwork, ashamed.“Martha, I’m sorry…”

“It’s okay,”she replied soothingly,“Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea, after all.”

“No, it’s good to take my mind off things, I just…”

“You just bottled everything up and ended up taking it out on the potatoes?”

He sighed.“Yeah, something like that.It’s just…every time I think about it, I just think about how much I’m going to miss her.I don’t know if that’s wrong…”

She put her arm round him and led him up towards the house.“Geoff, it sounds perfectly all right.Just take a break for a while and then we’ll see if we can’t take your mind off things without wrecking the entire farm, all right?”

Staying in the house was threatening to drive Belle mad so she’d decided to go for a walk.When she got back, she found Geoff had returned in her absence and was seated on the sofa.“How was the farm?”she asked.

“Yeah, fine.”There was something strange about his voice.Even stranger was the fact he seemed to be deliberately looking away from her.“Do you wanna use the bathroom or..?”

She took a couple of steps towards him.“Geoff.Look at me.”He turned round reluctantly and she was shocked to see the tears falling down his face.In all the time she’d known Geoff, she didn’t think she’d ever seen him cry before.“What’s the matter?”He looked ashamed and that was when she realised.She sat down next to him.“Is…is this about me?”

“I’m sorry, you shouldn’t have to deal with this…”

She felt the tears forming in her own eyes as she looked at him, doing his best to keep it together for her sake.They’d argued many times over the past two years, had so many disagreements about what the other person was doing, but whenever she’d needed him, really needed him, he’d always been there.“It’s okay,” she told him, reaching out and brushing a hair away from his face,“It’s nice to know you care.”

“I do,”he whispered, but with their heads as close as they were she heard it clearly,“I do care.”

She saw it in his eyes then, what he’d been hiding from her, from himself.And she felt something stir inside her, something unexpected.And then she kissed him.

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Thanks for your comments, hopefully this will answer a few questions...and hopefully you'll like the answers.


Belle’s face was streaked with tears and she wasn’t sure how many of them were her own.Given how up close and personal she and Geoff had just been, there’d probably been a fair amount of transference.“That was…unexpected,”she said at last.

Geoff was sat next to her, neither of them quite able to look at the other for any real length of time. “Yeah.”He shot her a worried look.“It was nice though, right?”

“Nice, yeah.”She nodded awkwardly.“Just…unexpected.”

“I’m sorry if I offended you or anything…”

“No, you didn’t offend me, we were…we were both very emotional and it made us do something that we wouldn’t normally do.”She swallowed hard.“I think I will use the bathroom after all.”

For some reason, she felt that getting away from him at that moment was the best thing for both of them.

Geoff’s behaviour was different than it had been the previous day but Martha was still worried.Before it had been a kind of frustration, barely contained anger at what was happening to Belle.Today…it was something else.He seemed even more withdrawn but not in a way that suggested he was about to blow his top at any moment, it was almost as if he’d failed in some way.“Geoff, is there something bothering you?” she asked,“Something new, I mean?”

He paused halfway through the watering job she’d assigned to him and looked at her for a moment before shaking his head.“It doesn’t matter.”

“Look, if you need someone to talk to…”

“I kissed Belle,”he blurted out,“Or she kissed me.Whoever started it, we were both doing it.”

It was the last thing Martha had been expecting.“Kissed as in..?”

“As in proper kiss.”

“Geoff, what were you thinking?”Martha had been prepared to offer him a sympathetic ear but this…this was just ridiculous.

“I think I like her.I mean, I didn’t know, I didn’t realise I felt that way but…it’s not like she and Aden are together anymore…”

“Geoff, she’s dying!”Martha reminded him,“Do you think this is what she needs right now, do you think it’s what you need right now?She needs a friend, not someone who’s going to jump her!”She saw his contrite expression and sighed.“Look, just go and get yourself cleaned up and then you can give me a hand with dinner.”

“So how am I doing?”Belle asked quietly.

Rachel paused halfway through repacking her medical bag.“As well as can be expected,”she said at last, “Your blood pressure’s low but your lung and heart function doesn’t seem to have been affected yet.You’re still taking those vitamins I gave you?”


“Any other symptoms?”

“I’ve been getting tired quicker than I usually do.And…and the stomach cramps seem to be getting worse.”

“Maybe I could arrange some painkillers for that?”

Belle laughed bitterly.“A few months ago I was doing my best to stop taking those things.Might as well not have bothered.”She let Rachel get back to her packing before asking,“Can I talk to you about something not medical?”

“Sure, Belle.What sort of something?”

“I kissed Geoff.”

The news surprised Rachel and she wasn’t quite sure how to react.“What was it like?”she asked at last.

Belle gave a reluctant smile.“It was kind of nice.”

“So what’s the problem?”

“The problem is it’s Geoff!It’s the irritating new boy at school, it’s my idiot younger brother!It’s not someone I’m meant to be having…those feelings about, someone I’ve spent half the night thinking it might be nice to kiss again.And what about Aden?Last week I was living with him, I was in love with him, I still am.How can I turn round and say I want to be with Geoff now?”

Rachel listened to the rant with interest.Despite how confused and frustrated Belle seemed, she hadn’t sounded so much like herself since she’d been diagnosed.“Do you?”she asked,“Want to be with Geoff?”

Belle sighed.“I don’t know.I mean, he might not even want to be with me.”

“Belle, the situation you’re in at the moment, there’s no right way or wrong way to react.Maybe in normal circumstances I’d be advising caution.But if you think that you can find something you need with Geoff, whether it’s a relationship or friendship or whatever, then maybe you should investigate that possibility.”

Belle stopped her car at the bottom of the long drive up to the farmhouse, seeing Martha by the gate.She swung the car door open and climbed out.“Is Geoff here?”she asked.

Martha nodded.“He’s up at the house.”

“Is it okay if I go up and talk to him?”

Martha was giving her a strange look, not quite disapproval but not supportive either.“He told me about the kiss.”

Belle looked away slightly, feeling a slight stab of shame.“I know it might seem strange…”

“Look, Belle, I saw Geoff yesterday.I saw how cut up he was.And I’m just worried about what both of you might be getting into here.”

“I don’t know if we’re getting into anything, that’s why I need to talk to him…”

“I saw how hard it was for Jack when I had cancer, Belle.I saw how much it hurt him to see me in pain, to see me trying to cope with the treatment and not being able to help me.And there’s not going to be a happy ending for you and Geoff.I just think…maybe you need to stop and think about what you’d be asking him to do.”

Belle stood there for a moment, her hand resting on her open car door.“Tell him I’ll see him at home,”she said at last,“Actually…don’t tell him anything.Forget I was here.”

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Thank you so much for all your comments, it really helps to know that people out there are enjoying this.


“Did Belle come by the farm earlier?”Rachel asked when Martha called round hers for an afternoon catch-up.

Martha nodded.“Yeah, she came by to see Geoff.”

“Do you know how it went?”

Martha shrugged.“She left without seeing him.”

Rachel sighed.“That’s a shame, I was hoping they’d sort it out.”

“You know about the kiss?”Martha asked.Rachel nodded.“Doesn’t seem to be much to sort out, they just need to forget about it.It’s not like they can really start anything now.”

Rachel suddenly began to get a worried sensation.“Martha…you didn’t say any of this to Belle, did you?”

“I might have said some of it.”Martha saw Rachel’s exasperated look and felt put out.“Look, what good do you think can come between those two getting together?”

“That’s up to them to decide!”

“No, it isn’t, because I know what it would be like.I don’t want Geoff to have to go through what Jack went through when he was watching me falling apart like that.Belle broke up with Aden because she didn’t want him to have to go through that, why should Geoff have to?”

“Don’t you think there’s another way to look at this?”Rachel suggested,“Jack died, Martha.”

There was a slight coldness in Martha’s response.“I haven’t forgotten.”

“What I mean is…if, when the two of you got back together, you’d known you were only going to have a few months, would you still have done it?”

“Yeah, of course, I mean, those last few months, being with him again, being his wife again, at least it means I’ve got some more happy memories of him…”She stopped, Rachel’s point sinking home.“Oh no.”

“Martha, if Geoff does care about Belle as much as we think he does, then he’s going to be upset whatever happens,”Rachel explained quietly,“But maybe there’s a chance they can make these last few months a bit happier for each other.”

There weren’t many places in Summer Bay for a person to be so it didn’t take long for Martha to track Belle down in the Diner, sat at one of the side benches, apparently waiting for her order.“I owe you an apology,”she told her.

Belle shook her head.“No, you don’t.You were right.What was I going to do, go down to the farm and ask Geoff if he minds taking on a dying girlfriend?”

“Do you think Geoff’s the sort of person to mind?”

“No, I think he’s the sort of person who’d try and do the right thing.So I’m going to as well.”

Martha sighed.“Just…just talk to him, Belle.Try and work out what it is you both want.”

Belle watched as Martha walked away.But no sooner had she done so than Kirsty was standing on the other side of her, placing a cup of coffee on the table.“Sorry it took so long,”she remarked.Belle didn’t answer.“Is there anything you need to talk about?”

“Just…life and how there’s never enough of it.And a guy that I’ve suddenly found myself looking at it in a certain way when it’s a bit too late.”She noticed Kirsty’s curious expression.“Geoff.”

Kirsty’s eyes widened.“Oh!Okay, I wasn’t expecting that one.”

“How exactly can I ask him to waste the next couple of months looking after me?”

“No life is a waste that brought joy to others.”Belle looked at Kirsty in surprise and she shrugged.“It’s something a friend of my cousin’s said.”

“Yeah, it’s easy to come out with things like that when you’re…”

“She was dying.”Kirsty paused, letting the statement sink in.“She had leukaemia.She was thirteen.”

“Oh god.”Belle thought back to herself at thirteen, the young tearaway rebelling against her adopted parents’ lifestyle while simultaneously longing for a love that they were never quite able to give.If she’d died back then, there were so many people she’d never have known:Irene, Aden, Geoff, Annie, Amanda, Ryan, Drew, Matilda, Lucas, Cassie, Ric…At least she’d had those years, at least she’d made a bit of a mark on a few more people’s lives and them on hers.“And your cousin, he was there throughout it all?”

Kirsty nodded.“And I think he felt that knowing her for a short time was better than not knowing her at all.”

Belle wasn’t sure what she’d been planning to say Geoff but as soon as she got home and saw him she crossed it all out.She couldn’t put any more pressure on him, ask him to shoulder more of her burden than he had done already.She’d told Aden she was being selfish for walking out on him, for finding someone who she knew could handle her illness more than he could, but how much more selfish would it be to find herself a new boyfriend for so short a time?

“Hi there,”she greeted him with forced cheerfulness.She turned away from him, towards the kitchen, began rooting in the cupboards.“Ah, I heard Irene and Annie are going to be out tonight so it’s just the two of us.Anything you fancy?”

She heard Geoff come into the kitchen after her even though she didn’t look round.“Martha said you came by the farm.”

Belle shook her head.“Well, Martha shouldn’t have done.I told her it wasn’t important.”

“I just thought…maybe you wanted to talk some more about last night.”

“There’s nothing to talk about.”

“Belle…these last two weeks have got me thinking.About what life’s going to be like when you…when you’re not here.And it’s just made me think just how precious the next few weeks are going to be.”

“Geoff, don’t do this to yourself,”she insisted.She could feel herself shaking, feel her façade slipping.She had to be strong, had to do the right thing.“We both know how this is going to end, hey?We both know that I can’t let anyone get close to me, it’s not worth it, not worth the pain…”

She heard him walk up behind her, place his hand on her shoulder.And even though she still didn’t turn round, she placed her own hand over it.She heard his voice, close to her ear,“Belle…do you want to go out with me?”

She looked at him then, saw the sincerity in his eyes.And even though she could feel her heart breaking, she smiled.“Yes, Geoff.I think I’d like that.”

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“Irene…could you do me a favour for tonight?”Belle had felt slightly nervous about coming to the Diner. The events of the previous day were still fresh in her mind and she still couldn’t quite believe that some of them had happened.But she’d told Geoff she was going to do this so…

Irene had barely looked round from where she was preparing the day’s meals.“Yeah, of course, love, what is it?”

“Could you let me have a table, sort of out of the way?For two, maybe with candles?For…”-she took a deep breath-“for a date.”

Irene looked round, a big smile on her face.“Are you and Aden patching things up?That’s great, Belle, you need all the support you can get right now.”

“No, no, it’s not for Aden.”Belle shook her head emphatically.“It’s…it’s for me and Geoff.”

Irene laughed and rubbed Belle’s arm.“It’s nice you haven’t lost your sense of humour, love.”She saw Belle’s uncomfortable expression and her hand flew to her mouth.“Oh my god, you’re serious.”Belle shrugged, almost apologetically.“How did I miss that?”

“I think we all missed it.I don’t know what it is, Irene.I mean, this is the worst timing ever, it’s completely crazy but…it feels like there’s something there.Something maybe worth exploring.”

Irene sighed.“Love, you know I want both you and Geoff to be happy.But this…”

“You think we’re going to regret it?”

Irene paused as though weighing up what she was going to say next.Then she put her arms round Belle, looking at her with gentle eyes.“I think that I’m going to get you and Geoff a table and make sure that you both have a night that you’re going to remember.”

Belle let Irene draw her into a hug.“I was hoping you were going to say that.”

Belle had chosen a blue dress with bare arms and a neckline just above her breasts, with a pair of black tights.Geoff was wearing a light blue shirt with dark trousers.They’d made an attempt to compliment each other on their appearance but unfortunately they’d forgotten something fairly important.Which was why they found themselves standing side by side in the front room, facing up to an interrogation.

“You two are going out?”Annie asked incredulously.

“Um, yes, we are,”Belle confirmed.

“As in boyfriend and girlfriend?”

Geoff looked at Belle, unsure if she was comfortable with the label yet.“Kind of,”he said at last.

Annie was shaking her head.“But that’s not what’s meant to happen, we’re supposed to be a family.It’s not meant to be about you two and…me on my own.”

Both of them went over to her, put their arms round her.“Hey,”Belle told her gently,“this has got nothing to do with how we both feel about you.You’re still our sister, right?”

“We just think that…maybe something’s going to happen between us,”Geoff added.

“Look on the bright side,”Belle teased,“Maybe this date’ll be a disaster and we’ll realise we’re completely incompatible with each other.”

Geoff looked slightly put out by that and his expression was so comical that both Belle and Annie laughed.“She’s joking,”Annie told him.

“Yeah, um, I knew that,”Geoff claimed.

Annie kissed him on the cheek and then kissed Belle on the side of the head.“Just ignore me.I hope you have a great time.”

“So, you kids having a good time?”Irene asked, as she sidled over to their table halfway through the main course.

“It’s great, Irene,”Belle confirmed.

“The food’s really nice,”Geoff added.

Irene gestured to them both.“And, er, everything else..?”

Belle smiled.“It’s going well, Irene.”

“Good.Well, I’ll leave you both to it.”Irene moved away from them, intercepting Colleen who seemed to be about to take her place at the table and steering her into the kitchen.

Belle shook her head in amusement.“Poor Irene, she really can’t get her head round it.”

“I guess it must be a bit strange for her,”Geoff agreed.

“I feel like everyone’s looking at us.”

“They’re probably just thinking how gorgeous you look.”

She reached across the table and took his hand, interlacing her fingers with his.“Thanks, Geoff.I mean, for everything.”

“I’m just glad you’re enjoying yourself.”

“I am,”she confirmed,“I don’t suppose I ever realised how comfortable I felt with you.”

He raised his eyebrows.“Comfortable?”

“Not the right word?Okay.”She smiled at him teasingly.“Kind.Gentle.And pretty handsome in your own way.”She stopped, her words sinking in, noticing the way he was looking at her.She let go of his hand and dropped her gaze, concentrating on her plate.“So, are we gonna finish this meal or what?”

“So, um, what do you want to do now?”Geoff asked once they got home.

Belle sighed.“Actually, Geoff, I could do with an early night.I’ve been getting tired a lot lately.”

“Oh!Okay.”He took a step back, giving her some space.“Um, what about tomorrow?”

“Well…I think I need to talk to Aden.Tell him that…that we’ve started spending more time together.I just don’t want him to find out from someone else.”

“Yeah, I guess you should do that.Do you want me to come with you?”

“No, I think I should do it myself.”They both hovered uncertainly, unsure how to take their leave. Eventually Belle turned towards her room.“Well, good night then.”

“Belle?”Geoff took hold of her arm and gently turned her towards him.Then he gently kissed her on the lips, letting it linger just long enough for her to respond to the contact.“I’ll, er, see you in the morning.”

As he left the room, Belle could feel her heart beating faster, for reasons that had nothing to do with being ill and everything to do with being twenty years old and just having been on a first date.And for the first time in two weeks, she went to bed with a smile on her face.

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Hope this doesn't disappoint.


“Can I come in?”

It felt strange to hear Belle ask the question.Even though she hadn’t lived there for that long, it still felt as though it was a house she should just be able to walk into when she felt like it.Aden just gave a nod and stepped aside, letting her in.It was only then, as he saw her standing in the living room, that he realised she hadn’t been back there since the day she’d moved out.

“Has something happened?”he asked,“The cancer…”

Belle waved a hand, dismissing the idea.“It’s doing what we expected it to.Don’t worry.Or do worry but…it’s not about that.It’s about Geoff.”She took a deep breath.“We’ve started seeing each other.”

“Seeing each other?”Aden didn’t like the sound of that.“As in..?”

“As in…he’s my boyfriend.”Aden felt like he’d been punched.This wasn’t supposed to happen.He was only vaguely aware that Belle was still speaking.“I mean, it’s still early days, we’ve only been out the once, only kissed a couple of times…”

“Kissed?”The word burnt itself into Aden’s mind for some reason, along with the mental images that went with it.“You’ve kissed him?”

“Aden, we’re not together anymore.”

“Yeah because you felt that we couldn’t be together when you had cancer.So how come you and Geoff can?”

“Geoff knows the score,”Belle reminded him,“He knows what’s going to happen, he knows how it’s going to end.This isn’t what you signed up for.”

“You could have given me a chance.”

“You’ve got a chance, Aden.Any support you want to give me, I could really do with it.But I’m not seeing a lot of it.”

Aden stopped, thinking back on the last two weeks.He and Belle had seen each other a few times, bumped into each other in the street, in the Diner.They’d exchanged a few words, he’d ask her how she was doing, she’d told him she was all right.Told him what he wanted to hear.He hadn’t want to get into anything else. “Does he make you happy?”he asked at last.

Belle nodded.“Yes.He does.”

“And you’re expecting me to give you my blessing?”

“Not expecting, no.But it’d be nice.”

He sighed.“He’s better than some of the losers you’ve hung out with, I suppose.”He looked at her standing there, hoping for more.But he couldn’t give her more.He’d had so many dreams about the two of them and now she was stood in front of him, shattering yet another one of them.“Thanks for letting me know,”he said at last.

She seemed to accept that that was it.She paused for a moment then kissed him on the cheek.“’Bye, Aden.”

Geoff caught sight of Belle standing by the school gate as he was about to head home.He said a quick goodbye to the boys he’d been chatting with and hurried over to her.“Is something wrong?”

She smiled at him.“Can’t a girl meet her boyfriend from school?”

It still felt strange to hear her call him that.It was two weeks now since that first date.They’d been on a couple more and they’d kissed quite a bit, usually when Annie wasn’t around to give them looks of disgust. “No, I guess not,”he replied.

She wrapped her arms around his waist and looked up at him invitingly.He kissed her softly, ignoring the cheers from some of his watching classmates.She smiled as the kiss broke and took his hand.“Walk home together?”

He laughed and let her lead him down the street.

They dropped down onto the sofa.She saw him looking at her carefully and knew he was wondering just how real the happy, smiling face she showed him was.She wondered if he’d believe that it was real, that these last two weeks she’d actually begun to feel better about herself.

“You’re not tired or anything?”he asked.

“Do I look tired?”she responded.

“No but…well, you have been…”

“Geoff, I’ve been taking my vitamins, I’ve had you and Irene making sure I’m eating three regular meals a day, Rachel checking up on me about four times a week…I’m fine.”Apart from the dying thing but she didn’t feel like mentioning that at the moment.

“It’s just if you are…”

“Geoff.”She placed a finger on his lips.“Shhh.”

She kissed him and felt him start to respond, relaxing into it.The kiss became deeper, more intense…and then she felt Geoff pull back.He didn’t stop the kiss abruptly, he slowed it down, brought it back to a safer level, one less likely to lead to anything else, before bringing it to its natural end.“Do you want something to eat?”He began scrambling to his feet.“Yeah, you need something to eat.Need to keep your strength up.” He kissed her gently before backing into the kitchen.“You just sit there.”

Belle didn’t do anything to stop him.This had happened a few times, him breaking off before they could…

Before they could what?She’d been aware in the past that she and Geoff had a few different ideas about relationships, a fact that didn’t matter until they were actually in a relationship with each other.But was that still the case?What were Geoff’s views on relationships these days?Given that he’d been sharing his room with Claudia not so long ago, all bets were off on that one.

And what about her?Did she really want that sort of relationship with Geoff?She thought about it sometimes, when they were kissing, what it would be like to take things further.When she was in bed, she thought sometimes about him lying next to her.But were they really ready to take that step?It had only been two weeks…but then how many more weeks did she have?

That was the thing.She knew, she’d always known, they both had, that they didn’t have long.Whatever bridges they were going to cross, they had to make a decision about it quickly.

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Thanks for keeping me motivated, Georgia.Anyone else that's reading this, opinions are welcome...


Belle dropped the pamphlet onto the coffee table and dropped herself onto the arm of the sofa.Geoff, sat in the seat to her right, looked at her perplexed for a moment before picking it up.“What’s this?”

“They said they’ve got this weekend free.If you want to go.”

Geoff gave the pamphlet a quick glance over.“This is for a holiday cottage.”

“Yeah, I mean, it’s pretty small.”She swallowed hard.“Only one bedroom.But if you want…I just thought we could go there.Spend some time together.”

There was a slight nervous edge to his voice.“Doing what?”

“Doing…whatever you want to do.”She waited for an answer but there didn’t seem to be one coming.“I mean, we don’t have to do anything you don’t want to, we don’t even have to go.It’s just, I don’t know, the two of us, together…”His silence was beginning to fray her temper.“Don’t make me spell it out, Geoff,”she snapped.

He stayed quiet for a moment longer and she worried she’d pushed him too far.“I do think about it sometimes,”he said slowly,“But me and a girl sleeping together, it never seems to end well and after what happened with Claudia…”

Belle shrugged.“Well, I guess there’s a bright side.If I do get pregnant, I won’t be around long enough to go to full-term.”She offered him a smile but it wasn’t enough to break his melancholy mood.“Do you still think about what happened?”

“Sometimes,”he admitted,“I think what I had been the father, what would be happening now, how far along she’d be…”

“She offered to stay in touch…”

“I’m not the father, so there’s no point.”He dismissed the conversation with a shrug and touched her knee gently.“Book it.”


“The cottage.This weekend.We’ll go.”

“And when we get there..?”

Geoff looked at her hesitantly before answering,“We’ll spend some time together.”

“Spend some time together?”Annie repeated,“What does that mean?”

“You know,”Geoff replied awkwardly, wishing he hadn’t told her,“As a couple…”

“Are you going to sleep with her?”

Geoff sighed.It was a question he’d been asking himself ever since he’d agreed.“I think so,”he said at last. He noticed Annie’s disapproving expression.“Don’t look at me like that, Annie.”

“It’s how you’d look if I said it.You used to want to wait until you were married.”

“What am I supposed to do, Annie?”Geoff asked,“If we had the time, I would.But I can’t ask Belle to marry me just so we can sleep together.I need to do it this way.”

Annie had caught something in the remark.She sat down on the sofa, looking across at Geoff.“Did…did you just say you’d marry Belle?”

Geoff nodded slowly.“If…if there was time.”

“Did you always feel like this?When you were with Nicole or Claudia, when she was with Aden?”

“No.”Geoff shook his head.“I guess maybe it was always there but I didn’t realise it.Not until it was too late.”

Annie looked at him with renewed understanding.“Then…I guess you’ll have to find another way to show her how much you care about her.”

Belle looked at herself in the mirror and wondered what she’d been thinking.It wasn’t like her at all, it certainly wasn’t like Geoff.But she’d been thinking about their weekend away and when she passed the shop it was just an impulse.She’d rushed in and bought it.A black lace negligee.It hung to her body, showing off every curve, ending a couple of inches above her knees and giving a good view of her legs.

Belle had never expected to win a beauty contest, she didn’t have that classic beauty about her that Cassie or Matilda had had.But she always thought she looked pretty damn fine and a few months ago, wearing this, she’d have been a knockout.But now…She looked in the mirror and saw the pale skin, the dark circles around her eyes from all the sleepless nights, the skin pulled taught against the bones…The cancer was beginning to take its toll.

She heard the knock at the door and before she could call out and ask who it was Geoff had pushed it open.“Belle, I was thinking, we should probably leave…Woah.”He quickly averted his eyes.“Sorry, I didn’t realise…”

She sat back down on the bed, sobbing, and instantly he forgot all propriety and sat down next to her, slipping his arm around her.

“Belle, what’s up?”

Belle gestured to the mirror.“I am.What do I look like, what did I think I was doing, buying this?”

Geoff picked up on the remark.“Is this for when we go away?”

“It was.”She sighed.“I just thought I’d, I dunno, show you what was on offer.”

“Belle, you know that sort of thing doesn’t bother me.”

“Good job, given what a mess I look in it.”

He turned her face to look at him.“Belle, you’re beautiful.And I don’t mean because of this, although you do look pretty amazing in it.I mean who you are.That’s what makes you beautiful.”

Belle was going to say that that was nice of him but she knew it wasn’t true.But she saw it in his eyes.He meant it.And in that moment, she caught her breath and then she kissed him, long and hard, her body pressed up against him.It took her a few seconds to realise how little she was wearing and how that must have felt for him.

She couldn’t help giving an amused smile as she saw him take a deep breath, slight embarrassment creeping across his features.“Okay, maybe it has a bit of an effect on me…”

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Hope you like this one.


Belle stood looking out the window.It was certainly a secluded spot, plenty of opportunities for her and Geoff to be alone together.Whatever that meant.She still hadn’t quite managed to tie him down.She looked out at the woods surrounding them and decided that whatever else happened it wasn’t a waste of time.It felt peaceful.

She heard Geoff come out of the bedroom and felt him slip his hands around her waist.“I’ve packed all our stuff away,”he told her.

“You didn’t need to do that,”she reminded him, as she had done when they first got there,“We’re only going to be here a couple of nights.”

“Oh, you wanted to live out of a suitcase, did you?”he asked teasingly.

“Hey, nothing wrong with a bit of disorganisation now and again.”She kissed him lightly and put her arms around his neck.“So…now that everything’s in its place, what do you want to do?”

“Well, there’s no-one else around so…maybe we could go for a walk?”

It wasn’t the answer Belle had either been expecting or hoping for.“A walk?”

“I mean, if you want to, I just thought it might be fun…”

Belle took his hand, forcing a smile.“Okay, Geoff.Let’s go for a walk.”

As it turned out, it wasn’t a bad idea.Belle took a deep breath of the clean air, feeling almost as though she was breathing in the peace, as if there was just the two of them in the world.Summer Bay might have been a beautiful place but at times it seemed like you couldn’t walk for five minutes without someone wanting to talk about nothing in particular.

“So how have things been?”Geoff asked.

Belle sighed.“If you mean have I been feeling any worse, it’s something I’d rather not talk about.”

“No, I didn’t…I mean…At home.Now that you’ve given up work.”

“Well, Irene’s agreed to let me keep doing one shift a week, which at least gets me out of the house.I think I’ve done more reading in the last couple of weeks than in the rest of my life.”She gave him an awkward smile.“I’d ask you how school’s going but that would only remind me I’m dating someone who’s still at school.”

“Well, it wouldn’t be the first time,”Geoff commented, a slight mischievous edge to his tone,“How long ago did Aden leave school?”

“He was repeating!”Belle protested.

“I just think you like the uniform.”

Belle couldn’t help smiling.“You know, I remember a time when you’d never have dreamed of making a comment like that.”

“I guess I’ve loosened up a bit since I was that Geoff.”

“Well, I liked him.”She thought back to some of the clashes they’d had when they first met.“Eventually.”

He grinned at her but then she staggered and fell against him.He caught her, holding her upright.“Belle, are you all right?”

“I’m fine,”she replied,“Just a bit dizzy.It’s okay now.”But he noticed she was still leaning against him.

He gestured over to a couple of tree stumps.“Look, let’s just sit here for a while and then we can go back.” She nodded and he helped her take her seat.“I’m sorry, Belle, I should never have suggested this, I should have known it would tire you out.”

To his surprise, she looked at him angrily.“I’m not an invalid, Geoff, don’t treat me like one.”

“I’m sorry,”he stammered,“I just…I don’t like seeing you like this.”

“It’s going to be hard enough for me to do anything for myself in a few weeks, I don’t need you treating me with kid gloves now.”She staggered to her feet.“I’m fine now, let’s go back.”

Geoff noticed she looked unsteady and put his arm round her, hoping she’d see it more as a gesture of affection than a sign that he thought she needed it.“I’m sorry, okay?Look, when we get back, you put your feet up and I’ll make a start on the food.Just to make it up to you.”

It wasn’t the most convincing of excuses.But she seemed to be too tired to do anything but nod.

Belle put her plate down on the floor.They’d been eating in the living room, sat crosslegged on the carpet with their plates on their laps.“When did you learn to cook like that?”

“What, did you think Pop did all the cooking at home?”

“No, I thought Annie did.”

He smiled reluctantly.“Well…okay, a lot of it.But I did some as well.”

“Oh, quite the house husband, aren’t you?”She kissed him gently.“What’s the time?”

He checked his watch.“Just gone half eight.”

“Well, it’s been a long day…You fancy an early night?”

She put on her most inviting smile but he just gestured to their plates.“We need to clean up first.”

“Geoff, that can wait till morning,”she protested but he was already on his feet, gathering up plates.

“No, you shouldn’t put things off if you can do them before you go to bed.”

He bustled through into the kitchen.Belle tried to keep the hurt and disappointment off her face.Maybe she’d been expecting too much of him, maybe she was a fool to think he was interested.Maybe being her boyfriend was just him doing a good deed.It wasn’t as though he’d have the job for long.

“I…I’m going to turn in,”she said at last,“Guess I’m more tired than I thought.”She paused.“There’s some blankets in the cupboard, you can make up a bed on the sofa if you want.”She thought he looked back at her but she didn’t want to see.Best to put it out of her mind.She headed towards the bedroom.“I’ll see you in the morning.”

She paused just inside the doorway, feeling her heart weighing heavy in her chest.What was wrong with her?Why had she had such high expectations for the weekend?She wasn’t a fool.She knew her life was less than perfect and so was she.

She didn’t realise he’d followed her in until he turned her round and kissed her.“I’m sorry,”he whispered.

She tried to think of a response then realised she didn’t need to say anything.She kissed him again, their hands roaming aimlessly about each other’s bodies.They moved towards the bed, undressing each other.

And as they made love, she saw it in his eyes, in the way he looked at her.The way she looked to him.And she felt beautiful.

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