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Silver Age

Red Ranger 1

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So...a couple of years ago, I wrote a 90s-set fiction called Silver Couple and made some vague promises as to a sequel.It's been a while but this is that sequel.I've been writing it in fits and starts but hopefully the result will be coherent!

Story Title: Silver Age
Type of story: Short/Medium fic
Main Characters: Shane, Shannon, Selina, Paul, Frankie and others
BTTB rating: T
Genre: Drama/Family
Does story include spoilers: No
Any warnings: Mild violence and sexual content
Summary: A year on from the events of the first story, Shane and Shannon are navigating their lives together and run into a number of difficulties.  Sequel to Silver Couple.


A year.Shane had a hard time believing it had been a year.In fact, it had been a lot more than that.It was getting closer to two since he and Shannon had first started that awkward, impossible to define relationship, which had led to her getting pregnant with their daughter and moving in with him and the other children, and ultimately to this.

  He had been married to Shannon for a year.In the not-too-distant future, he’d reach the point where he’d have been married to her longer than he was to Angel.That felt strange.It wasn’t that he saw Shannon as second choice exactly.It was just that for so long it seemed like he and Angel were going to spend the rest of their lives together.And now she was gone and he was going to spend his life with Shannon?

  He was fine with that.

  The house was full of well-wishers, come to celebrate their anniversary.He bumped into Alf and Ailsa in the entrance, chatting with Donald.“Congratulations there, young fella,”Alf noted, raising a beer in his direction.

  Shane nodded politely, something he was just about getting used to doing.Looking around, he quickly found Travis and Rebecca.He thought that romancing Donald Fisher’s daughter was extremely brave of Travis, but they seemed to be doing okay so far.

  “How are you doing with the hosting thing?”Travis asked.

  Shane grimaced slightly.“Can’t wait for it to be over to be honest.”

  “Aww, people are just pleased for you,”Rebecca chided him.

  “Yeah, I know.I’d have just been happy with a quiet night in.”Shane looked around for his wife and picked her out, chatting to her best friend Selina, along with Irene and Marilyn.He waved over at her and she waved back.

  Her foster parents, Michael and Pippa, were there as well, along with their latest household:Liam, Tiegan and Sam.The former two were chatting with Irene’s house guest, Joey.And of course, Dylan and Angel had been allowed to stay up, with even their sister Katie just about managing to stand in a corner without falling over.

  Shannon seemed to sense Shane’s intentions and came over to him.Shane put an arm round here and cleared his throat.“I guess I’m expecting to make a speech.”

  “Talking was never something you had much trouble with as I recall,”Donald commented.

  “Thanks, Don.”Shane felt Shannon give him a reassuring squeeze, which cheered him up a bit.“The missus here and I just want to thank you all for coming…”Shannon gave him a playful slap at the reference, grinning all the time.“No, really, we’ve had some tough times over the last few years and you’ve all been a big support…yeah, even you, Sam…so, thanks, from both of us.”He gestured to the children.“From all of us!”

  Michael raised a glass cautiously.“To the first year of many?”

  “Cheers!”the others echoed.Shane kissed Shannon gratefully.


Later that night, with the house emptied of people, Shane was lying in bed.Shannon came back into the room and crawled in next to him.“Kids settled?”he asked her.

  “Yep,”Shannon confirmed,“Next time Dylan’s in ‘One more story’ mode, you can deal with it.”She thought for a moment.“Shane, can I ask you something?”

  “I guess so…”

  “Can we have another baby?”

  Shane was slightly bemused.“What, three kids isn’t enough for you?”

  Shannon looked as though she was considering her next words very carefully.“You know I love Dylan and Angel, right?”Shane nodded.“But they’re not mine.And when I got pregnant with Katie, we weren’t even together and I was so worried that I didn’t get a chance to enjoy it.I’d just like, one day, to be able to enjoy having a child with you.”

  Shane nodded slowly.“Yeah.Yeah, I think I’d like that too.”

  Shannon kissed him passionately.

  “You didn’t mean tonight, did you?”he checked.

  “No, but there’s no harm in getting some practice in,”Shannon answered as he rolled over on top of her.

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Thank you again for the comment, pembie, and I hope everyone likes this one!


The car had drawn to a halt but no-one was getting out.Shannon watched Shane, sensing his discomfort with what they’re doing.“If you’re not okay with this…”

  Shane tried to look relaxed.“It’s okay.I mean, we’ve been doing this for a year now.”

  “Well, yeah, but not for this long.”

  Shane didn’t say anything further.Instead, he got out of the car.“Okay, kids, come on.”

  Dylan jumped down straightaway, with Angel just a step behind.Shannon lifted Katie out of the back, carrying her as they followed Shane to the block of flats.

  Shane found the right flat and knocked on the door.The man who answered it gave Shane a brief nod of acknowledgement before looking down at Dylan with a big smile on his face.“Hey there, buddy!”

  “Hi, Dad,”Dylan answered simply.

  Frankie appeared beside Paul.Shane had never been entirely comfortable with the fact that his late wife’s sister was now the girlfriend of his stepson’s father.Shannon kind of wished it wasn’t the case too, but both of them had to acknowledge that the couple loved each other and had always been good with the children.Given Paul had once tried to kidnap Dylan, it had taken several months for them to be trusted alone with them.This would be a big test.

  “Hi, Shane, Shannon, come in,”Frankie invited.The family trooped inside.

  “We’ve got two whole weeks together, mate,”Paul was telling Dylan,“Isn’t that great?”

  Frankie settled Angel into a corner, then turned to Shannon, who was still holding Katie.“Do you want me to take her?”

  Shannon was cautious.“Are you sure you’re okay with looking after her as well?I can still ask Michael and Pippa…”

  Frankie shook her head.“She should be with her brother and sister.It’ll be all right.”

  Shannon handed her daughter over and in the process her gaze alighted on Frankie’s hand and the ring on her finger.“Is that..?”

  Frankie smiled and looked over at Paul, who grinned back.“We’re engaged,”she confirmed.

  “Oh, congratulations,”Shannon said, genuinely meaning it.

  “Yeah, good on you,”Shane agreed, sounding slightly less enthusiastic,“Have you set a date?”

  “We were thinking November,”Paul noted,“Anyway, what are your plans while the kids are here?”

  Shane thought for a moment how best to describe it.“We’ve got some old friends to look up.”


“Over there,”Shane noted, pointing.

  Shannon indicated and pulled into the drive he’d pointed out.It was a quiet neighbourhood in a country town.Probably just what the people living there had wanted.A familiar young man came out of the house and Shane immediately jumped out of the car to give him a hug and shake his hand.“Damo!How have you been?”

  Damian grinned back at him.“As good as you, I guess.”

  Shannon had got out as well and hugged her one-time foster brother.“So are you here on your own?”

  “Well, no…”

  His wife Sarah emerged from the house, carrying their baby son.“Look, William, Mummy and Daddy’s old friends have come to visit.”

  Shannon quickly bounded over to her.“Oh, he’s gorgeous.Can I have a cuddle?”

  “Of course, come out the back.”

  Shane waited until the two women had disappeared out of earshot before talking to Damian again.“I’ve got to say, this isn’t the way I expected you’d end up.”

  “No, me neither,”Damian admitted,“I thought I’d pretty much given up on this sort of life.But then Sarah got pregnant and…well, I guess the Lord works in mysterious ways.Becoming a Catholic priest didn’t really seem like an option anymore.”

  “How are you going with the Methodists?”

  “It’s an adjustment but turns out I can serve God and have a family.Who’d have thought, eh?”

  “Not me.I thought Sarah would always see you as her daggy surrogate brother.”

  “Yeah, well, I didn’t see you and Shannon ending up together.Guess we’ve both been surprised.”


Shane was sitting alone on the front porch when Sarah came back out.“You don’t want to come round and join us?”

  Shane sighed.“Sorry, I’m kind of ruining the reunion vibe here, aren’t I?It’s just…this is so familiar, except it’s not.”

  “I know what you mean,”Sarah admitted,“The three of us back together, I keep expecting to see Angel come round the corner.She’d be glad to see you happy though?I mean, she liked Shannon…”

  Shane gave a brief laugh.“Yeah, things went a bit wrong between them for a bit, after you left town, but yeah, at the beginning and the end, she liked her.”

  “Well, that’s good enough for me.And for her.”

  “So what about you?Married to Damo, did you ever see that happening?”

  Sarah laughed self-consciously.“I didn’t a few years ago, no.But once we took that step, it felt kind of right.I wasn’t expecting us to last but here we are.”

  “How did your dad take it?From what I remember of him, I can’t see him being that thrilled at you getting pregnant.”

  Sarah grimaced.“To put it mildly.But he couldn’t really argue with me marrying someone that was training to be a minister.”

  Shane nodded.“Well, I guess things have worked out for all of us.”


Round the back, Shannon was watching Damian with William.“I’m still getting used to seeing you as a parent.”

  “Well, I wasn’t expecting you to be one this quick either,”Damian fired back.

  “Fair point.”Shannon hesitated for a moment.“It could have been sooner for you.Do you ever think about..?”

  “About Maddie?”Damian completed for her,“Yeah, sometimes.I wasn’t ready to be a father then, but things could have turned out very different if she’d been born.”

  “I know Selina thinks about her too.”

  “How is she?”

  Shannon sighed.“I don’t want to guilt trip you or anything.You’ve got your life together and that’s great. And it’s not like Selina’s a completely hopeless case, she’s doing well with her nurse’s training and everything.It’s just, I dunno, I feel like she’s lonely sometimes.Ever since you, or maybe even before that, it’s like she’s been lurching from one relationship disaster to another.”

  Damian nodded.“I do want what’s best for her, you know that?”

  “Yeah.Hopefully she’ll get it soon.”


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Shane and Shannon had parked the car at the top of the beach and walked down.“They said they’d be somewhere around here,”Shannon noted.

  Shane gestured ahead.“I think that’s them?”

  Further down the beach they could see a couple dressed in wetsuits.A sandy-haired young man was playfully chasing a brown-haired young woman.He caught her and she gave a squeal of delight as he turned her and passionately kissed her…which didn’t look like it was going to end any time soon.

  “Sally!Curtis!”Shannon called out.

  The pair quickly disentangled, somewhat red-faced, as Shannon and Shane approached.“Hi there,”Sally noted awkwardly,“We weren’t expecting you this early.”

  “I hope not,”Shannon answered, giving both of them a quick hug and then grimacing,“Urgh, you’re both a bit sandy.”

  “You getting soft in your old age?”Curtis asked jokingly.

  “She’s just the way I like her,”Shane replied as he shook hands with Curtis and gave Sally a hug.

  “Sounds like you’ve both gone soft,”Curtis retorted.

  “So, what are the plans?”Shannon asked.

  Sally took her by the arm.“Come on, I’ll show you.”


The two girls went to a beach hut not too far away, where Shannon sat on the bed in what comprised the living area while Sally got changed in the bathroom.“Not quite where I imagined you’d end up living!”she called.

  Sally joined her, having got dressed in a t-shirt and shorts.She grabbed a blouse from a chair and pulled it on.“Well, it’s kind of temporary.Curtis has got a competition up the coast in a few weeks.”

  Shannon shook her head in bemusement.“I never thought when we first met that you’d end up as a surf chick.As Curtis’ groupie!”

  “I’m actually quite enjoying it,”Sally admitted,“I guess spending all those years in a seaside town, it’s rubbed off on me a bit.”

  “Yeah, but I’d felt sure you’d end up going onto uni.”

  “I might have done,”Sally accepted,“But Curtis was never going to want to go.”

  Shannon nodded, taking the point.“I’m amazed you got him through his HSC.”

  “It was tough but he’s pretty good at things when he puts his mind to them.But once school was finished, he just wanted to get out there.Anyway, it’s not like I’ve finished studying completely, I’m still taking the correspondence course.It might take me a bit longer but I’ll get there in the end.”

  Shannon looked wistful.“I should probably do the same.I’ve kind of accepted uni’s not going to happen. Being a full-time mum takes up too much time.”

  Sally gave a small laugh.“Who’d have thought that Shannon Reed, the ultimate rebel, would end up so domesticated?”

  “About as many people that thought Sally Fletcher, the ultimate model student, would end up so…bohemian,”Shannon retorted with a grin,“Anyway, I’ve been trying to get back into writing recently.”

  Sally nodded approvingly.“I guess we all just have to follow our dreams.”


Curtis and Shane were still on the beach outside.Curtis had also got changed into a shirt, t-shirt and shorts. Shane looked out into the sea.“You know, there was a time when I thought I might end up doing something like this.”

  Curtis nodded.“Yeah, from what I hear, no-one was really predicting you’d end up as a family man when you first came to the Bay.Did you really drive someone’s car into a lake?”

  “Oi, you had your moments as well,”Shane protested.

  “I guess we both had some growing up to do.”

  “Mmm, I think you ending up with Sal was probably even more unexpected than me with Shannon.”

  “She kind of grounds me.”

  “The best ones do.”

  “Is that what Shannon is?”

  “You getting the overprotective big brother on me?”Shane asked,“She’s the person I want to spend the rest of my life with, that good enough?”

  “It’ll suit me.”

  Sally and Shannon came back over to join them.“Sal says there’s a café in town where we can have lunch,”Shannon explained,“You guys want to come?”

  Shane put his arm around her, while Curtis did the same with Sally.“Sounds good to me.”

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Thanks for the comment, pembie!


“And then we went to the water park,”Dylan revealed, the latest in a string of similar declarations since Shane and Shannon had collected him and his sisters and brought them home.

  “Wow, sounds like your dad and Auntie Frankie really spoiled you,”Shane remarked with just a trace of bitterness.

  “But I missed you and Shannon,”Dylan added awkwardly.

  Shane instantly felt bad.He might not like Paul but he had to admit the man was doing his best to be a good father to Dylan, while still respecting the fact that Shane and Shannon were his family.“We missed you too, mate,”he confirmed, crouching down by him,“But did you have a good time?”Dylan looked at him uncertainly which only made him feel worse.“It’s okay if you did.We had a good time while we were away as well.”

  “Yes,”Dylan said cautiously.

  Shane ruffled his hair.“Good boy.”

  Shannon appeared from the direction of the bedroom.“Well, that’s Angel and Katie down for their naps. Everyone having fun here?”

  Dylan looked at Shane as if unsure how to respond.“I think so.”

  “Course we are,”Shane confirmed,“I can’t promise you a trip to the water park but how about a game of cricket?”

  “Race you!”Dylan declared, rushing outside.

  “Don’t forget that Michael and Pippa wanted us to come over,”Shannon reminded Shane.

  “Right, yeah.Are we taking the kids?”

  “No, I’ll get Selina to come and babysit.”

  Shane gave her a quick kiss.“I’ll only be ten minutes.Maybe fifteen.”


Shane and Shannon sat at the table in the caravan park house as Pippa brought some cups of tea over. “Sure I can’t get you anything stronger?”Michael asked.

  “This’ll do fine,”Shane confirmed.

  “What did you want to see us about?”Shannon asked.

  Pippa pulled a mock-hurt face.“Oh, what, I can’t just have my foster daughter over once in a while?”She paused.“But, actually, there was something.”

  “Did you enjoy your trip?”Michael asked.

  “Yeah, it was nice to see Damian again,”Shane confirmed.

  “And Sally and Curtis,”Shannon added.

  “Right.”Michael let the comment hang in the air for a moment before continuing,“Because we were thinking of doing the same.”

  “We haven’t really had a trip away together since our honeymoon,”Pippa noted,“But as long as it’s okay with you.”

  “It sounds great to me,”Shannon commented,“Why would you need our permission?”

  “Well, we’d be taking Christopher with us,”Pippa explained,“But we don’t want to take Liam, Tiegan and Sam out of school.”

  “Are you asking us to keep an eye on them?”Shannon asked.

  “We were actually hoping you’d move in here,”Michael told her,“And Dylan, Angel and Katie, of course.”

  “I know it’s a lot to ask,”Pippa began.

  “Sounds all right to me,”Shane replied.He looked over at Shannon.“What about you?”

  “Yeah, fine.After looking after three children, three teenagers will be no problem.”

  Michael gave her a rueful look.“I’ll remind you that you said that when we get back.”

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Selina looked around the living room of the caravan park house.“I still can’t believe this is yours.That’s even more grown-up than being married.”

  “It’s not exactly mine,”Shannon pointed out,“We’re just looking after it for Pippa and Michael.”

  “Yeah, I know, but you can pretend.”Selina wandered over to the mantlepiece.“You seem to have inherited the family photos as well.”

  Shannon suddenly looked awkward.“Um, yes,”she confirmed, attempting to position herself between Selina and the photos.

  Selina’s gaze drifted over them.“Hey, is this one new?”Then she noticed what Shannon had been hoping to keep from her.“Oh, right, yeah.Steven, Viv and the twins.”

  Shannon grimaced.She was aware how painful it was to see someone you’d once been in love with move on while you were left alone.“Sorry.”

  “Nah, I’m pleased for them.”Selina almost sounded like she meant it.“It’s just, you know…what was it that meant he’d settle down with her and not me?”

  “You know it wasn’t ideal,”Shannon pointed out,“He was your teacher.”

  “Well, what about Curtis?You saw him and Sal while you were away, right?”

  Shannon sighed, not liking the direction the conversation was going.“Yes.They seem happy.”

  Selina nodded.“I’m pleased for them, you know, they’re my mates and everything.It’s just…I broke up with Curtis ’cos I thought there was something more out there for me and turns out there’s less.”

  “You’ve got your career sorted,”Shannon attempted,“That’s got to count for something, right?”

  “Yeah, you’re right.”Selina didn’t sound too convinced.“I’d better let you get on.”


Shane pulled up outside the house and Liam, Tiegan and Sam all piled out of the vehicle:He’d just picked them up from Summer Bay High.“Can we head down the Diner?”Sam asked.

  Shane tried to think what Michael would say.“Do you have any homework?”

  “A bit…”

  “Then get inside until it gets done.”Shane was gratified to see Sam scrambling off, then turned his attention to the two older teens, who were looking somewhat downcast.“In.”

  Shane followed the trio inside and, as they headed upstairs, he noticed Shannon sitting on the sofa, her attention fixated on a piece of paper.He kissed her on the top of the head and sat down next to her.“I think I’m getting the hand of this parenting thing.”Shannon gave him a brief smile but seemed distracted. “What’s that?”

  “It’s from Mandy,”Shannon explained,“You know, that author that was giving me all that encouragement a while back.”

  “The one you had a crush on?”Shane asked.Shannon looked startled.“Hey, Alex and I talked, you know.”

  “Remind me to have a word with him some time.Yes, the one I had a bit of a crush on.She’s in the area soon and she was hoping to stay here.”

  “I’ll get a van ready for her.”

  Shannon seemed a bit put-out.“Is that all you’ve got to say?”

  “Well…do you still fancy her?”

  Shannon relaxed into a reluctant smile and cuddled up to him.“No, you’re the only person I’ve got eyes for these days.”

  “Right.Then I’m looking forward to meeting her.”

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Thanks for the comment, pembie!


Shannon came hurrying into the house.“Quick, she’s here!”

  The rest of the household slowly got to their feet.“Do we have to line up and curtsy to her?”Tiegan wondered.

  “I’m not curtsying to anyone!”Sam protested.

  Tiegan gave him a mocking look.“Awww, but you’d look so cute doing it.”

  “Will you stop it?”Shannon snapped.

  Before any of the teens could respond, a blonde-haired woman came through the door, prompting a cry of delight from Shannon.“Mandy!”

  Mandy gave her old friend a tight hug.“Good to see you again.And wow, who’s the welcoming committee?”

  Shannon gestured to the group.“I think you know Sam.This is Liam and Tiegan.”

  “Pleased to meet you, Miss Thomas,”Liam greeted her.

  Mandy laughed.“That makes me sound like a friend of your mum!Mandy will do fine.”

  Shannon continued with the introductions.“These are my stepchildren, Dylan and Angel, and that’s my daughter Katie.”

  “Yes, I think I remember you,”Mandy commented to Dylan before turning her attention to the last person present,“Hello, Shane.”

  “Hey there.”Shane gave her an awkward hug.“Good to get a chance to know you properly.”

  “Yes, our paths haven’t really crossed that much.I seem to remember you were at Disneyland for most of my first visit here.”

  “We saw Mickey Mouse,”Dylan recalled.

  Shane nodded in confirmation.“I wasn’t sure you’d remember,”he remarked to Mandy.

  “Oh, writers always remember things,”Mandy replied,“They make for a good story.”

  Shannon grabbed Mandy’s hand.“Come on, I’ll show you to your van!”

  As they went out, Liam and Sam sidled over to Shane.“I’m not sure you’re going to see much of Shannon during this visit,”Liam noted.

  “Yeah, I think she’s found someone else to talk to,”Sam agreed.

  Shane glared at them.“Well done on volunteering to do the dishes.”


Shannon and Mandy walked through the caravan park.“Would I be out of line if I said I didn’t imagine you ending up with Shane?”Mandy asked,“He just seems a bit…straightforward.”

  “He is a bit,”Shannon admitted,“His first wife, Angel, she was a bit like me.The artistic type.I guess someone straightforward appeals to us.I just really really love him.I feel happy and safe with him.”She noticed Mandy smiling.“What?”

  “I just don’t think I’ve ever seen you like this before.Happy.It’s nice.”

  “You mean I’m usually all angsty and brooding?”

  “I didn’t want to say it.”

  Nearby, Selina and Joey were approaching them.Selina gestured ahead.“Hey, that’s Mandy, Shannon’s friend.Let’s go and say hello.”

  “I’m meant to be meeting Tiegan and Liam,”Joey protested.

  Selina rolled her eyes.“Fine, run along then.I’ll go and be social on my own.”She headed over to the other two women.“Mandy, hi!”

  “Hi, Selina,”Mandy greeted her,“Looks like we’re going to be the two left on the sidelines now our friend’s got married.”

  “Guess so,”Selina agreed, trying to keep smiling.

  Shannon glanced over towards the house and noticed something that required her attention.“Er, Selina, can you help Mandy get settled in?It’s Van 7.”

  “Yeah, sure,”Selina agreed.

  “What are you going to be doing?”Mandy asked.

  “Greeting some less welcome guests.”Shannon headed towards the house.

  Selina gestured for Mandy to lead the way.“Shannon seems happy,”Mandy noted,“Comfortable with herself.”

  “Yeah, I think she is,”Selina agreed.

  “What about you?”

  Selina sighed.“I’m getting there.”


Inside the house, Paul was giving Dylan a big hug.“Missed you, champ.”

  “Missed you too, Dad,”Dylan answered.

  Frankie glanced over at Shane.“Thanks for renting us a van.”

  “It’s what they’re for,”Shane replied, trying not to sound as blunt as he felt.

  Shannon came hurrying in.“Paul, Frankie, hi!I’m sorry I wasn’t here when you arrived, I’ve just been showing another guest to a van.An old friend of mine actually.Do you know how long you’re staying for?”

  “We’re not quite sure,”Paul admitted,“Maybe a week, maybe more.”

  “We just thought it would be a good opportunity to spend time with the kids,”Frankie explained,“Rather than them just coming to us for a bit.”

  Shannon went over to the key box.“Well, you’re in Van 4.It’s the second one along on the left.”

  Paul held out a hand to Dylan.“You want to show me?”Dylan nodded eagerly.

  “Stay with your dad and Auntie Frankie until I come and get you!”Shane called after him as the trio retreated.

  Shannon gave Shane a cuddle.“You okay with this?”

  “Kind of have to be, don’t I?”Shane answered,“I just hope they don’t decide to stay too long.”

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Thanks for the comment, pembie!


“Everyone, dinner’s nearly ready!”Shannon called up the stairs.She went back through to the living area.

  Shane was wiping his hands on a rag, having been doing work out in the caravan park.“You want me to get cleaned up?”

  Shannon looked him up and down.“Nah, I don’t think anyone’ll notice either way.”

  Shane gave her a look of mock offence and chased her towards the sofa with Shannon giggling wildly. Juat then, Sam, Liam and Tiegan came in.“Grown-ups are so embarrassing,”Sam complained.

  Shannon coughed awkwardly.“Um, sit down all of you.I’ll get the food.”She headed to retrieve a pot of stew from the kitchen and dolloped a reasonable amount onto everyone’s plate.

  “So, have you decided if I can ride your bike yet?”Liam asked Shane.

  Shannon gave Shane a look.“Is this responsible parenting?”

  “Only around the caravan park,”Liam argued.

  “I kind of fancy teaching Dylan to ride one day,”Shane mused,“I guess this’d be good practice.”

  “What about if Katie or Angel wants to learn to ride as well?”Tiegan asked pointedly.

  “Well…I’d teach them as well.Good food, Shannon!”

  “Thank you,”Shannon answered,“And nice change of subject.”

  “I thought it was good as well,”Sam agreed,“Seconds?”

  Shannon shook her head.“That’s all there is.”

  Sam looked disgruntled.“Well, that’s no good.”

  Shannon’s attention was suddenly drawn to her husband.“Shane, are you all right?”

  Shane had suddenly started sweating profusely.He clawed at his collar.“I don’t know, I’m just really hot all of a sudden…can’t breathe…”He pitched out of his chair onto the floor, unconscious.

  Shannon checked on him briefly then ran for the phone and hammered 000.“Ambulance.”


Shannon sat on her own in a corridor.Selina and Mandy came hurrying towards her.Shannon looked at them with relief.“Did you check on the kids?”

  Mandy nodded.“Paul and Frankie offered to sit with them.”

  “Sorry I wasn’t on duty here,”Selina said awkwardly,“Of all the nights to have off…”

  “It’s fine,”Shannon assured her,“The staff here have been really good.It was just so scary, I wasn’t even sure if he was breathing…”

  Mandy patted her hand.“Don’t think about that now, okay?He’s in the right place and hopefully they’ll find out what’s wrong.”

  Selina’s friend Doctor Lachlan Fraser came over.“Shannon, can I talk to you for a minute?”

  As Shannon walked over to Lachlan, Selina turned to Mandy.“You were really good with her.Better than me and I’m meant to be training as a nurse.You’re a good friend to her.”

  “Well…I hope I’m friends with you too.”

  Selina hesitated for a moment.“Yeah, sure.”

  Lachlan was talking to Shannon nearby.“Your husband’s stable for the moment but early signs are he’s been poisoned.”

  “Poisoned?”Shannon struggled to get her head around it.“Was it something he ate?I mean, we all had the same thing.”

  “No, the early signs are he absorbed it through his skin.”

  Shannon thought for a moment.“He was wiping his hands on a cloth, I think he had it outside.”

  “Okay, well, the police will need it for analysis.Someone must have poured a pretty big amount on it to get this sort of reaction.”

  “You mean…someone hurt him on purpose?”

  “It looks that way, yes.”

  “He’s not going to die, is he?”

  Lachlan seemed to consider his response carefully.“We’re doing everything we can to make sure that doesn’t happen.”

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Thanks for the comment, pembie!


Selina was the one doing the driving as the car pulled up near the house.Shannon had sat next to her, mostly in silence, on the journey back from the hospital.They probably should have predicted the police would be at the caravan park.They would have been less likely to predict that they’d arrive to see someone being dragged to a police car or that it would be Paul.

  Shannon picked out someone she recognised among the police and called out to her.“Constable Gardiner?What’s going on?”

  Terri Gardiner checked that her colleagues had things under control then came over to the two younger women.“We searched Paul’s caravan and found a bottle of the poison used on Shane.”

  Shannon gaped.“Paul did that?”

  “Well, he denies it but that’s where the evidence is pointing at the moment.Hopefully we’ll know more after we’ve questioned him.”Terri went back over to the others.

  Selina took Shannon’s arm.“Come on, let’s get inside.”

  When they did, they were immediately accosted by Frankie, who had been looking after the children. “Shannon, you have to tell them he didn’t do it!”

  “What makes you so sure?”Selina asked caustically.

  “Because I know him,”Frankie insisted,“I know he was horrible to you when you first met, Shannon, but he’s changed since then, I know it.He wouldn’t hurt Shane or you.”

  “Well…the police aren’t going to let him go just because I tell them I don’t think he did it,”Shannon attempted.

  “But they’ll listen to you, they’ll lock him up otherwise.”

  Shannon’s temper finally snapped.“Paul isn’t the one that might die here!”she shouted,“Shane’s in hospital fighting for his life!He’s the one you should be worried about!”She ran upstairs.


“Do I have to have an apple?”Sam complained, as he looked over his packed lunch one morning,“I usually have cake.”

  Mandy shot him a sceptical look. “Well, how about I ask Shannon next time I see her and if she says yes, you can have cake next time.”

  Sam seemed to consider this for a moment.“Nah, it’s all right,”he decided at last before making a quick exit.

  Selina passed him in the door.She had come to the house to check on things before going to work, something she’d done quite a few times over the last few days.“Is it wrong that I’m a little bit freaked out about you being all domestic?”she asked Mandy.

  Mandy gave a slight smile.“It’s not very me,”she admitted,“But I felt I should help Shannon out.”

  “Hey, no judgement, I’m sure she appreciates it.But have you really been looking after this lot on your own?”

  “Well, Shannon’s still here sometimes.And Frankie’s been helping out.”

  Selina considered the last one.“I thought she’d still be spewing about everything that’s going on.”

  “She’s still very worried about Paul, like Shannon is about Shane.But she still really cares about the children.Is there no-one else we can call?”

  “Shannon said she doesn’t want Michael and Pippa knowing…”

  “Someone else then.”

  Selina paused, thinking.“Let me see what I can do.”


Shannon sat by Shane’s bedside.She’d been coming there a lot…perhaps more than she should, with three young children and three older ones to look after, but it had felt necessary.“Things are okay at home,”she told him,“Everyone’s pitching in, so you don’t need to worry about that.”She hesitated.“You need to worry about me, though.I miss you, Shane.I love you so much and I don’t know what I’ll do if you don’t come back.Please come back.”

  Selina took that moment to enter.“How is he?”

  Shannon sighed.“The doctors say they’ve flushed all the toxins out of his system, it’s just a waiting game.He could wake up any minute or not at all.”

  “Shan…non?”They turned round at the voice and saw Shane staring weakly at them.

  “I’ll get Lachie,”Selina offered, dashing out.

  “What…happened?”Shane managed.

  Shannon kissed him enthusiastically on the cheek.“You got poisoned,”she told him,“The police have arrested Paul but he says he didn’t do it and so does Frankie but that doesn’t matter now.”She smiled delightedly.“You’re awake!”

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Thanks for the comments, pembie!


Shannon helped Shane into the house.“Are you sure you’re all right?”she checked, not for the first time.

  Shane gave a small laugh.“No offence, Shannon, but if I wasn’t, I’m not sure that leaning on you would help much.”

  “Thanks a bunch,”Shannon retorted,“But I do take your point.”

  Liam, Tiegan and Sam appeared from the kitchen area.“We hope you’re all right, Shane,”Tiegan offered, “We’re sorry if we caused trouble for you.”

  “I’m sorry if they caused trouble for you as well,”Liam added, getting glares from the others.

  Shane managed a smile.“Thanks, guys, I don’t think any of you lot had anything to do with me getting poisoned but it’s nice that you care.”

  Sam looked at the other two.“Fancy a game of basketball?”They dashed out.

  “Well, that didn’t last long,”Shannon mused.

  “What’s happening with Paul?”Shane asked as he lowered himself into a chair.

  “Still in custody,”Shannon answered.

  “And Frankie?”

  “She’s still around but I guess she’s keeping a low profile now you’re back.”

  Shane pushed himself to his feet.“She still in the same van?”


Frankie opened the door to her caravan at the knock and stepped back in surprise.“Shane!”Shane walked past her into the van and took a seat, leaving her with very little option but to follow him.“I’m glad you’re all right.”

  “Are you?”Shane asked.

  Frankie hesitated.“I’m not sure what I should say about Paul.”

  “I get that you’re worried about him.”

  “Yeah, but are you?”

  Shane sighed.“Look, I don’t like him.But I do believe he loves you and I do believe he’s trying his best to be a good father to Dylan.”

  “Do you believe he poisoned you?”

  Shane shrugged.“I don’t know.He did some messed up stuff in the past.But as for you and me, after all that effort Angel went through to get you back in our lives, I don’t want that ending now.Okay?Don’t think you have to stay away.”


At the beach house, Mandy hung up the phone before turning to Selina.“I think that’s everyone.”

  “You’re sure?”Selina checked.

  “Well, I called all the numbers you gave me.With any luck, Shannon should be having a lot of help heading her way pretty soon.”

  They slumped onto the sofa together.“Good,”Selina declared.She looked over at Mandy.“Shannon is really lucky to have you as a friend, you know.”

  “Well, she’s lucky to have you too,”Mandy suggested.

  “Yeah, but I’m not just saying it.I really mean it.”Selina looked at Mandy for a long moment, as though contemplating whether or not to do something, then leaned in and kissed her.She let it become more intense, felt Mandy start to kiss her back…and then pulled back, wincing awkwardly.“Sorry.”

  “That’s okay,”Mandy said nonchalantly,“It’s not often I get a chance to kiss an attractive younger woman.Not really what you’re into though, is it?”

  “No.I thought maybe it could be but…sorry.”Selina sighed.“It’s just watching Shannon with Shane, and seeing guys I used to like happy and settled, I get the feeling my life isn’t going the way it’s supposed to.”

  “I know how you feel.Being like I am, it’s less likely someone you like’s going to like you back.”

  Selina pondered this.“Do you…‘like’ Shannon?”

  Mandy seemed unsure how to answer for a moment.“Yes,”she said at last,“It might be ego but I think, if circumstances had been different, she could have liked me back.A bit like some of the guys you think about.”

  “Yeah, maybe,”Selina acknowledged.

  “Don’t think it’s all about whether or not you’re dating someone, Selina.For me, it’s all about writing. Maybe there’s something that’s going to fulfill you as well.”

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22 hours ago, pembie said:

Yeah sorry hope you didn’t mind the unexpected comment thanks for your help I check them out 

Maybe you don’t like me trying too guess the outcome of your story 

Don't worry on either count! (And if you are interested in New EU, bearing in mind I haven't read any of them, either Aftermath or the recently-released The Princess and the Scoundrel seem to be good starting points.)

Thanks for the comment and here's another chapter!


Shane was sitting on the sofa and didn’t look too happy about it, especially with Shannon dashing about trying to get things ready for the kids’ trip to school.“Are you sure I can’t help you with anything?”he asked.

  Shannon shook her head.“You’re still resting.”

  “Well, I’m allowed to stand up occasionally.”

  “Thanks for the offer but unless you can rustle up a gang of elves to help me…”

  “Well, I don’t know about elves but will we do?”Sally asked as she and Curtis entered.

  “Sal!”Shannon explained, flinging her arms around her foster sister and then giving Curtis the same treatment a moment later,“What are you guys doing here?”

  “Selina and Mandy gave us a call,”Curtis explained,“They thought you could use a helping hand.”

  “Boy, could I ever!”

  “Did they give Damian a call too?”Shane asked.

  “No,”Sally admitted,“But we have got…someone else.”

  A young man around the same age as them came in after Sally and Curtis, looking about him.“Wow, the old place hasn’t changed a bit.”

  “Jack.”Shannon sounded slightly underwhelmed.“You decided to come and help?”

  “I know that might seem like a strange concept but I’ve had a bit of military discipline since I lived here. I actually know how to keep my room clean now.”

  Sam, Liam and Tiegan came down.“Wow, did I just go back in time three years?”Sam wondered.

  “Into the car, you three,”Curtis told them,“I’ll give you a lift to school.”

  Sally helped Shannon finish off the lunches.“Take these as well,”she added.

  Shannon smiled at her.“It is really good to have you back.”


Selina and Mandy were walking in the caravan park.“So, the cavalry all turned up okay then?”Selina asked.

  “Exactly as planned,”Mandy confirmed,“They seem to have taken a load off Shannon’s mind.”She noticed Jack sitting on his own outside the house.“Well…most of them, anyway.”

  “I think I need to go on a rescue mission again,”Selina noted,“See you later.”She headed over to Jack. “You not with the others?”

  Jack sighed.“I get the feelings they’re not as overjoyed to see me as they are Curtis and Sal.”

  “Well, to be fair, most of the time you lived here, you were more likely to be causing trouble than cleaning it up.”

  “That is fair,”Jack conceded,“But you know, since I left this place, I’ve done my best to put all that behind me.And Shane still sees me as that Year 10 that poured custard over him one time.”

  Selina sat down next to him.“I got to admit, you’re probably more sorted than I am these days.”

  “Wow, that really is an admission, coming from the old school captain.I thought you were pretty fixed up?I mean, you’ve got that whole nursing thing going on…”

  “Yeah but it kind of feels like I’m going through the motions there.I do want to be a nurse but there’s not much else going on in my life.”

  “Well, you could always do what I did.”

  It took a moment for Selina to realise what he meant.“What, join the navy?”

  “Yeah, why not?They have nurses in the navy.You could finish your training there and you’d have a purpose afterwards.”

  Selina looked at him as though seeing him for the first time.“Jack, I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I think you really have started talking a lot of sense.”

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