A Sense Of Belonging – Episode 16

“Do you reckon the oldies think we haven’t noticed their match-making ambitions?” Walker asked as he paused to open the bottle of wine a short while later at Mooraburra.

As far as he was concerned, it was great that he and Susanne were finally getting some time alone. The past few weeks the kids had always been around, which had been fine except it meant he had been conscious of not giving away any signs of the attraction he felt for Susanne, nor had it been possible to talk candidly about his feelings.

Susanne threw him a wry smile from the wooden bench in the corner of Kate’s shaded orchid house.

“I did warn you that they were bound to get their hopes up as soon as we started spending any time together.”

“Bound to get their hopes up? You make it sound as though they’re desperate on our behalf.”

A small laugh escaped Susanne.

“I can only really talk about my own oldies, and considering they’ve managed to stay married for over forty years, my disaster of a marriage probably does make me look like a bit of a no-hoper to them.”

He uncorked the bottle and held her gaze steadily as he moved towards her.

“If you’re a no-hoper, what am I?” Walker filled the two glasses she was holding and then sat down beside her.

Susanne handed him a glass.


“Cheers,” he echoed softly.

He studied her closely and thought that with her long, gleaming chocolate-brown hair, hazel-green eyes and flawless, porcelain-like skin, Susanne was incredibly beautiful, and everything about her seemed perfect to him the way her eyebrows knitted together whenever she was deep in thought, her gentleness and her grit, and the innocence she’d somehow held on to. Being with her made him forget about the man he hadn’t become and, oddly, he just knew that with her in his life he’d find happiness, if the time was finally right for them.

Very slowly, he drank a mouthful of wine.

“At least you got married and had a child. OK, it didn’t work out, but you tried your best, didn’t you? Jess must give you good reason to be pleased with yourself. Look at what she did today. I’d say that’s because you’ve brought her up to believe in herself. You’re a wonderful mum, Susanne.”

“Thanks.” Her voice was a mere whisper.

“Definitely not a no-hoper.”

“Neither are you. You’re a gifted writer, Walker. You’ve poured yourself into your work.”

“Work’s not the be-all and end-all, though, is it?” he pointed out.

“Oh, I don’t know. You’ve landed yourself an amazing job as a senior business reporter at ‘The Times’ in London. I’d say that’s an achievement.”

“Yes,” he said, averting his eyes. “London . . . sometimes I forget I’m moving over there.”

“Aren’t you excited?”

Excited? No, Walker thought. That wasn’t the feeling he had about it now that the move was imminent. He wished he had the courage to confess to her that he’d only applied for the job as a means of getting out of a stale relationship.

He stared into his glass. A couple of months earlier, relocating to London had seemed like a dynamic solution to his aching discontent. But since he’d returned to White Rock and found himself reunited with Susanne, he’d realised that he’d always been in love with her, and leaving now felt like the craziest thing in the world.

“How well do you know London?” she pressed.

He turned to face her and they looked deeply into each other’s eyes for a few moments. His heart thumped fast and he wanted to kiss her, but didn’t know if that was what she wanted, too.

After another sip of wine, he cleared his throat and leaned back against the bench.

“I worked over there one summer holiday when I was a student,” he said. “Mind you, it’s freezing in London at this time of year so I spent the whole time trying to stave off hypothermia.”

Susanne’s mouth twitched with amusement.

“What about Scotland? Have you ever been there?”

“No. Why do you ask?”

“It’s a big topic at Emu Hill now that Mum’s discovered she’s got so many relatives over there.”

A thoughtful silence enveloped them.


Used to make posts more anonymous, eg a criminal case where you don’t want to expose the actual journalist.