A Debt of Honour – Episode 01

Shauna and her children and Neil, the man she is searching for. The main characters from A Debt of Honour

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After living in Australia for nearly 30 years, Shauna had more reasons than most to be nervous about her journey home to Scotland and the search for a past love. Enjoy our new serial!

Mother and son stood awkwardly together at the entrance to Brisbane Airport’s International Departures.

The distance which would soon be between them made them tongue-tied and uneasy.

Shauna glanced at her son with a mother’s love for what she saw: a big, brash, sun-tanned Aussie lad, exuding health and confidence.

Just like his dad had been all those years ago in London. Shauna swallowed, her eyes prickling.

She was a proud, tough woman, as befitted her Scottish blood, and she didn’t do crying.

“Don’t do anything stupid while I’m away, Charlie,” Shauna said. “I would hate to see your face on the international news.”

Charlie grinned, his teeth white in a permanently sunburned face.

“No chance of that,” he said. “Unless our car wins Rally Australia next week at Coffs Harbour.”

Cars were his whole life. Cars and speed.

Thankfully, Charlie was a mechanic in the rally team and not the driver.

He had once taken her out in a rally car, and she had barely expected to live long enough to scold him for his driving.

She’d been too busy hanging on to her seatbelt even to scream.

“And how about you?” He smiled. “No wild parties. No climbing the Eiffel Tower and paragliding off!

“I don’t want to lift my paper and see ‘elderly Australian woman arrested for . . .’”

“I’m not elderly,” Shauna protested. “And the Eiffel Tower is in France, not Scotland.”

“Whatever.” He shrugged. “Tell Ellie that I wish I could be there to see her. But I’m needed here with the Coffs Rally coming up.”

“I’ll tell her,” Shauna promised.

“And tell her Ralph is free again – so if she wants to pick up where she left off, I  bet he’d be interested.”

“No way!” Shauna said. “I was glad when that great oaf chased somebody else.”

“He’s not an oaf,” Charlie argued. “He’s my best cobber.”

“I don’t care,” Shauna said. “I don’t want him back!”

“Ellie might.”

“Then that’s up to her.” Shauna glanced at her watch. “Charlie, I’d be better going through the gate – I don’t want to miss my plane.”

Charlie felt a wave of sadness surge through him.

“OK,” he said. “I got you here, Mum. But take care.

“Don’t get lost as soon as I let you out of my sight. Ellie would never forgive me.”

“I won’t get lost.” She smiled. “If they can pick up a parcel in the Outback and deliver it to Scotland, they can surely take . . .”

She swallowed hard. She wouldn’t cry. Later, maybe. Not in front of him.

“An old lady?” he offered helpfully.

“I am not old,” she said, outraged. “I’m still in my forties.”

“Only just,” Charlie said, with the smile which had got him out of trouble since he was a toddler.

Shauna reached up to hug her big son. She was so proud of him she thought her heart might explode.

She pushed him away, then turned to walk determinedly through the gate.

She had taken on bigger challenges than this in her life. Toughed them out. She must not crumble now. Or admit she was scared. Scared of the trip – and of the task she had set herself.

She looked back. Charlie was still standing there. One square hand rose to wave when he saw her face.

Shauna fought down the urge to run back to him, and waved instead.

Ellie waited impatiently outside the Tesco store where she had been working part-time since her final exams.

Normally if Calum was late it didn’t worry her – but there was so much to do today.

She had a tent and sleeping bag to borrow for the music festival down near Dumfries.

Her mum was due to be landing tomorrow, and she had to tidy up what Calum called “the lionesses’ den”, the flat she shared with four friends that usually looked as if a cyclone had raged through it.

Sure, her mum was staying at a nearby hotel, but she was bound to be tired and looking for a cup of tea before she settled.

Ellie frowned. Why was her mother coming over three whole weeks before graduation?

Ellie had been looking forward to kicking up her heels a bit after all the months of study and exams. Having her mum there to observe was not in the plan.

She loved her mum, she told herself fiercely. No matter how inconvenient.

To be continued…

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