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Breathe Me


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  • 3 months later...
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Chapter 10

Nic picked at the toast that her dad had put in front of her and sighed. She’d had a long phonecall with Stuart the night before and had somehow decided that it was a good idea to drink the contents of a bottle of moderately priced Chardonnay. Now her head was thumping and all she could think off was the way that Stuart had made excuses not to come to the Bay. Oh of course he would turn up before the wedding but she’d wanted him there this coming weekend. She’d wanted him there because….

Dammit, she groaned. Because seeing Geoff was stirring up memories that were better left alone.


Looking up she saw a puzzled expression on her Dad’s face and sighed. What had she missed now she wondered, lost again in her overactive thoughts?


“I was saying I bumped into Aden and Geoff at the diner.”

“Oh really?”

She gave him a nonchalant look.

“Yeah, Geoff mentioned that he needs to see you and Stuart. Didn’t I hear you say that Stuart won’t be here this weekend?”

“He has work meetings cropped up at the last minute,” she defended.

“Oh, well I guess Geoff could put it off….”


“Speaking to you about the wedding,” Roman said with a raise of his eyebrow.

“Well yeah, okay, yeah,” she muttered lowering her head briefly, “I better go get ready,” she announced and quickly left the room.

She didn’t see her Dad getting out his phone and sending a text message.

“Hallo Nic,” Geoff called from the front of the church when she came in.

“Geoff,” she murmured coolly.

He smiled as he walked over to her, “Is Stuart not here?”

“He had work commitments. Is that going to cause problems?”

“I do like to counsel both the bride and groom prior to the wedding,” he shrugged, indicating that it could be a problem and fixed her with a look.

“Well Stuart would be here if he could but …” she trailed off and looked down at her shoes.

He followed her gaze and frowned, Nic was wearing flat shoes. As far back as he could remember she’d never worn flat shoes.

“Nice er… shoes,” he commented before he could stop himself.

“What? Oh,” her gaze flicked to meet his gaze before she looked at her shoes again, “Stuart prefers me in flats,” she shrugged.

“I see,” he said, although he didn’t see at all. There was no way the Nicole of old would have changed anything for him. Or at least not for long anyway without having a major meltdown over it, she was practically famous for those meltdowns.

“Well anyway, Stuart isn’t here, can’t make it. So er…”

“Right then,” Geoff nodded and led the way out of the church and over to a small bench sitting in the middle of an equally small rose garden. He waited for her to sit first before he too sat down. “Marriage is for life, not until one of you gets a better offer,” he intoned in what he hoped was an official sounding voice.

“I know that,” Nic pouted.

“But it seems to me that with only seeing one of you I can’t judge just how committed you are to making a marriage work,” he added.

“Stuart would be here if he could, just work. He chose Summer Bay for us so we really want to make this work,” she muttered quickly, her words coming out in a rush.

“I see,” Geoff murmured inwardly grimacing at his repeat of what he’d said just moments earlier.

“He’s so nice, he makes me feel….” Nic stopped and looked down at her shoes again.

“I’m still going to keep this a provisional date until I’ve met him,” he said slowly.

“I suppose that is fair,” she bit her lip.

“So tell me about your relationship?”

He sat still and listened to the list of glowing tributes she assigned her fiancé and wondered if she knew that she rarely referenced herself instead only focusing on Stuart and what he wanted and he couldn’t ever remember Nic being totally absorbed with a man. Sure she had crushes, watching her being around Aden and later Liam had been strangely painful, although not as painful as now hearing her talk about Stuart with such absorption.

“That’s about it,” she shrugged, “I can’t think of anything else.”

“It’s understandable to be nervous, marriage is a deep commitment between two people but as vicar it is my job to ensure that the ceremony runs as smooth as is possible. I take it neither of you have been married before?”

Nic paused biting on her bottom lip again, “No….” the word seeming to drag out as she spoke it.

“You don’t sound so certain?”

“No, I know neither of us has been married before,” she muttered folding her arms across her stomach.

He frowned at the defensive body language before speaking again. “You understand that I was asking for legal reasons and that I wasn’t trying to pry.”

“Oh I know,” she said giving him a smile.

“Now I’m sure that at our next meeting we can start to discuss your dream wedding in more depth,” he said easing up from beside her.

“Oh are we done?”

“For now, usually with the couples I’m going to marry I see them three, four times as we go through requirements, plus a rehearsal so they know what to expect from the ceremony. Will you be doing your own vows?”

“No, traditional service,” she pouted.

“Dare I ask if you’ll be including ‘obey’ in your vows?”

Nic glared at him before she shot up from the bench and faced him. “No,” she said frostily.

“I meant for Stuart, obviously.”

She gave one of those tinkling laughs of hers before shaking her head.

“It’s been good to see you Geoff,” she murmured.

“Likewise Nic,” he said back.

She took a step back from him and half-turned before looking over at him, “Er… maybe we could get lunch?”

He consulted his watch like he hadn’t planned to suggest that himself, before he slowly nodded. “I have to lock up the church first.”

She followed him inside the church, pausing at the door as he walked down the aisle in front of her. They reached the altar together and turning looked at each other. She gave a little gasp as she looked at him and he had to fight the sigh that wanted to escape his lips. Did she have no idea how beautiful she looked with a halo of light shining behind her head?

“Wait here,” he murmured and moved through to the chantry. Forcing himself to keep calm he went around the business of locking up the church. He joined her after a few minutes and walked with her out to her car.

“I can give you a lift?”

He glanced around her car and nodded.

“What?” she asked with a pout catching his appraising look.

“Checking the car for dents before I got in,” he admitted.

“Huh,” she muttered climbing behind the wheel, “I’ll have you know Geoffrey Campbell that I haven’t had an accident for five years!”

“Five years huh? Is that a record?”

She narrowed her eyes and glared at him, “Carry on like that and you’ll be meeting your boss sooner than you think!”

He laughed as he climbed in beside her and they set off.

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  • 5 months later...

Chapter 11

Nic chewed anxiously on a fingernail as she looked at her ‘to do’ list. Somehow she’d managed to add things on to it rather that striking them off. She was all too aware that she’d spent more time with Geoff than planning her wedding over the past couple of days and now that meant she had a lot to do in a short space of time. Looking over at her Dad as he packed his bag ready to go back to his unit she felt a quiver of unease. Stuart still hadn’t managed to visit her, citing work commitments every time she asked.

“That’s about everything,” he murmured, “Don’t worry I’ve filled the fridge and freezer with food.”

“Dad,” she muttered before nodding gratefully. “Are you sure you have to go back?”

“Positive, but don’t worry I’ll be back in time for the wedding.”

“If there…” she broke off what she was about to say with a small gasp of horror. No there was going to be a wedding, she loved Stuart and he loved her. Just because they had to change the location didn’t mean that they weren’t committed.

“Nic?” Her Dad prompted.

“Oh nothing, just a little fed up with Stuart not making it that’s all. “

“Well I’m sure Geoff will keep you company whilst you tackle the rest of the wedding planning,” he said smoothly.

“Yeah,” she said feeling her cheeks warming. She knew then that she was blushing at the mention of the other man and forced herself to think of something else. Stuart was her fiancé. Even though he hadn’t bothered to visit her.

She flinched at the way she’d phrased the last thought inside her head. He was busy, she knew how busy he got and she didn’t mind because they had time to work on this, time to find compromises. Her design work kept her busy too, kept her working long hours before each showing.

She found herself looking down at her engagement ring and flinching once more as the massive stone caught the light and flashed at her. She’d always thought she wanted a rock this size for her ring but when faced with reality, when Stuart had placed the box in front of her and she’d opened it she had found herself slightly disappointed by it and she couldn’t work out why.


“Got everything?” She focused on her Dad.

“Yes,” he confirmed collecting his bag and reaching for his hat.

“Okay then, see you at the wedding,” she gave him what she hoped was a brave smile.

Roman nodded and moved over to her, and after giving her a hug goodbye he collected his stuff and was gone, back to his unit.

She watched as the door shut behind him and resisted the urge to phone Geoff and see what he was doing. Although it was tempting to rely on him; she had to make a start on those lists in her organiser. Her wedding wouldn’t organise itself.

Geoff sucked down the last of the coffee in his cup and looked out on the view. The sea was pounding into the shore today, that slight breeze from yesterday was threatening to turn into a storm. He remembered helping out Aden on his trawler and watching the weather turn threatening like this. The other man had returned to the city and he had to admit that rattling around in the vicarage by himself reminded him that he missed having people around.

“Alright spill it,” Irene muttered having appeared beside him whilst he was lost in his thoughts.

“Do you miss having people around Irene?”

She gave a sigh as she sat opposite him.

“I guess, never really gave it much thought. Don’t tell me you are missing Aden?”

“Not in that way thank you, before the rumours start up,” he flashed a grin at her, “no, it’s just that I never appreciated how big the place was before.”

“Maybe you need to get married?”

“Is that a proposal Irene?”

“Strike me,” she muttered before laughing, “No, maybe you need to start doing some straight talking with a certain blonde who’s around here these days.”

“I don’t think she’d appreciate that conversation right now,” he sighed and looked out on the shore once more. “But you know, maybe there is something I could do,” he stood up suddenly, pressed a kiss to her cheek and strode out of the diner.

As Nicole was in the middle of Yabbie Creek Mall on a mammoth shopping trip Geoff had made his way to the docks. He searched for familiar faces before finding Alf near his boat.

“G’day young man what brings you down here? Not still trying to get me to go to that church of yours are you?”

“Not today Alf,” Geoff grinned at the familiar routine with the elder man.

Alf let out a dry sounding laugh before he moved over to his side, “What can I do for you?”

“Can I take the boat out for a spin? Having Aden staying with me reminded me of how much I missed being out on the water,” he murmured quickly.

“Of course you can, she needs a run out,” Alf frowned, “Not planning on it today were you? Don’t like the look of that weather front coming in.”

“Well yeah, today if possible,” Geoff grinned, “but of course I’ll check the forecast first,” he added.

“Let’s go over to the bait shop and make a call,” Alf still looked sceptical.

Nic found herself walking unsteadily along the wooden deck searching for Geoff. She was wearing new high heels, having given in to an impulse to buy new shoes whilst she’d been out. Normally she deferred to Stuart, selecting shoes he would approve off but today she wanted something different, wanted to do something spontaneous so that was why she was wearing scarlet red 4 inch heels. The very pointed toes had patent overlay so that every time she looked down she could see her own reflection in them. That alone was worth the blister she could feel forming on her heel as she walked along.

“What am I doing here?” She muttered the question as soon as she reached Geoff’s side.

“I thought we could do with a break from the wedding stuff, “ Geoff announced, “Maybe a trip out could clear …”

“Oh no, I don’t do boats,” she announced cutting him off.

“Come on Nic, it’ll be fun…”

She allowed herself to be guided on board and frowned as she removed her shoes to stop those pointed heels from stabbing into the deck. Already she could tell that ‘fun’ was not a word she was going to use to describe the trip.

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  • 3 months later...

Chapter 12


Nic glared at Geoff for the hundredth time but he still seemed unaffected by her death ray.  Looking past him she saw sand.  Lots of sand.  And the sea.  And the boat moored just off the island.  Above that dark black clouds and finally rain. Oh yeah, she saw lots of rain, she thought as she shivered under the blanket Geoff had wrapped around shoulders moments ago.  She wanted to huddle closer to Geoff under the ineffectual waterproof cover he’d put up purely for the added warmth but she was so mad at him she couldn’t move.

“We’re stranded on this island again?” She said for the fifth time.  Because maybe his answer might change this time, a sarcastic voice inside her head muttered.

“Alf and I checked the weather before we came out.  There was a chance of this happening but not until later. I guess….”

“Guess? You checked? Great, just flaming great. I’m supposed to ring Stuart tonight and … and… and…” she couldn’t think of any words that would display just how mad she was and it didn’t help that he was grinning as he looked back at her.  “What?” She finally snapped out.

“Here,” Geoff offered her a clean handkerchief and she glared some more at him before realising that her very expensive mascara was probably not waterproof.  Snatching the white square away from him she wiped at her eyes and pushed her wet hair back from her face.  “Here let me,” he murmured after a minute.

She glared at him again before sighing and allowing him to take the handkerchief from her hands and wipe gently under her eyes. She blinked up at him seeing his face kissable close and sighed as she focused on his lips.

“IS there any let up?” She muttered after a minute trying for a frosty tone.

“Some, I think I’m going to try to light a fire,” he said slowly.

Nic pouted, “Wood will be wet.”

“Need to try, it’s going to get cold here tonight.”

“Tonight? Oh no, you’re taking us home now,” her voice so panicked that it squeaked out of her suddenly dry mouth.

“The storm was heading towards Summer Bay, if we head back we’ll go straight into it.”

She hated the reasonable tone he was using and cursed silently in her head, many of the swearwords having been picked up from attending footy matches with Stuart. Although one of two choice ones she’d heard from her mother.

“So what are we going to do tonight?” She asked eventually and blushed when her own head finished the sentence for her. 

“I think as soon as this clears we should sort out food and shelter.” He said before disappearing from view returning moments later with a pile of driftwood. He started stacking it in a circle, breaking off small sections as he moved it placing them in the centre. Adding some paper from his pocket he then took out a lighter and struck the flame to the pile. As it caught he added small pieces of wood to it that crackled and hissed as it dried out and then blackened before flaming.  The process was long and tedious, if he added too much of the wet wood it would die out but if he didn’t add enough there wouldn’t be enough fuel for the fire.

“I can look after it if you want to go see what else you can find,” Nic offered after a while.

Geoff nodded and handed over the bits of kindling to her before standing and moving away.  Luckily the rain had stopped which made visibility better.   First he scavenged more wood bringing back and stacking it so that the small fire stood a chance of helping it dry out and then he made other trips to the inflatable raft that had brought them ashore, dragging it further up the beach and closer to them making sure it was secured.  Taking out the backpack he’d managed to put in there he took that over to Nic. 

Inside there was more than enough food and water for a couple of days and he was grateful feeling thirsty.  Handing Nic a bottle of water before he took out his own he took a long swallow.

“Shouldn’t we be conserving supplies or something?”

“I told Alf where we were going, activated the homing beacon and sent a message to Irene.  I think it is safe to say we’ll be back in Summer Bay tomorrow. “

He told himself that he was imagining the disappointed look on her face.

By the time it was dark they had a roaring fire going and had fastened the tarpaulin from the raft to make a makeshift shelter, although the size of it would mean that they had to sleep close to each other.  He couldn’t help but remember the last time they were on the island and how they’d managed to keep each other warm.

“So are you hungry?”

“For food?”

Geoff did a double take, “Of course for food. What else did you think I meant?”

“I was just checking,” she blushed bright red but he knew if he mentioned the shade her face had gone she’d claim it was from the heat of the fire.

“What’s in the bag?”

“I think there are some apples,” she pouted.

“Maybe for breakfast,” he grinned at the look of relief she shot him.

Reaching for the bag their hands touched and held for the briefest of moments before she pulled her hand back.  He took out the bags of chips, handing one to her.

“Still my favourite flavour,” she sighed as she opened it.  With a childlike grin on her face she munched happily on the potato based snack.

“Still?” he chuckled.

Looking further into the bag he reached for the Tupperware box of sandwiches that Irene had provided for their picnic. Offering them to her she took a sandwich and daintily bit into it.

“So I guess being here brings back memories,” she murmured finally.

“It does, mainly remembering the look on your Dad’s face when he saw we were together.  I expected to be shot again,” he murmured.

They looked at each other before laughing.

“I think he was quite disappointed when we broke up,” she said quietly. “He thought you were a good influence on me.”

Geoff snorted before laughing, “You were a good influence on me Nic.  Taught me to stop taking myself so seriously.”

“That probably comes in handy now you’re the one they all turn to,” she muttered.

“I had…” he paused.

“What happened when you were away Geoff?”

“Mostly it was helping people. There were some moments when it was hard going,” he shrugged.

“Don’t you ever talk about it?”

“Not usually.  We were in a village setting up a clinic and a school. The local rebels came through and destroyed everything we set up.  Then the Australian government deemed the situation too risky for us to be there and we had to leave.”

“Soul destroying,” she whispered stroking her hand down his back. 

“It could have been.  As soon as the restrictions were lifted some of the volunteers went back and started again.”

“Why not you?”

“I was here by then, home in Summer Bay.  Sometimes we get to the place we need to be almost by accident.”

“That feels like it applies to me. Had the pap’s left us alone then I’d be marrying Stuart in the city.”

Geoff was looking at her at that moment otherwise he would have seen the expression of doubt on her face.  Instead he was focusing on the flickering flames in front of them so that he didn’t turn his head and kiss her.  When he felt her remove her hand from his back he did turn his head.  His eyes flicked to the lips and he saw her lick her lips. Suddenly fascinated by her he said a silent prayer in apology before leaning forward and pressing his lips against hers.  If anyone asked him he’d say that he was just kissing her as a friend.

Except friends didn’t kiss like this, he thought as she kissed him back. 

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