Chapter Seventeen

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“Are you serious?”

“Very.”

“You’re actually going to do that?”

“Drive the camper van back to Darwin for Rose? Yes.” Mac senior sat at the kitchen counter and watched his daughter preparing the vegetables for dinner.

“Not that, the other thing.”

“Oh. Yes, that too.”

“You’re going to go out with the triplets, on horseback, and camp on, what was it? A swag?” Mac clarified her question, as if it needed it, and waggled her knife in the direction of her father who was sipping tea from his mug.

“Yes, yes, and yes. Plus, Felix is coming too.”

“I am?” From inside the laundry, Felix called out his query. Mac could hear the distinct rise of panic in his voice and pictured the gesticulations that would, undoubtedly, be going on behind the wall that separated the little room from the kitchen.

“You are,” Mac senior answered him decisively. “It’s going to be a man’s bonding trip. Back to nature. Just five boys and their trusty steeds.”

Mac stopped mid-carrot-slice and stared at her father, who had clearly taken in far too much fresh air recently. He and Laura had only just arrived back at the Homestead, not more than a couple of hours ago, and he’d already been for a swim, taken a shower, and arranged his next big adventure.

“Aren’t you tired?” She was, just from thinking about it.

“Not at all, I want to make the most of my last few days here, and besides, this place makes me feel twenty years younger.” He winked at Laura who was assisting with the dinner preparations by rubbing herbs into a huge chunk of cow that Lettice had left in the fridge for them.

Mac shuddered, and not in response to the bovine massage.

“When do we leave then?” Felix exited the laundry, dressed only in his shorts, and stood beside Mac senior, patting him on the back. He was obviously resigned to the fact that he had to at least feign interest, for a little while longer, in spending some quality time with his boss. Either that or, judging by the look on his face and the way that he was rubbing his washboard stomach with his free hand, he couldn’t wait to show him what a difference those twenty years really made to stamina.

“We’ll head out tomorrow, at first light.” Her father put down his mug and stood up from his stool, puffing out his chest.

Containing a giggle, Mac tried not to chop her fingers off as she turned her attention back to the dinner.

“Great,” Felix said. “Can’t wait.”

#

“Alright, let’s place bets on who will be first to fall off their horse and break something.” Lettice announced her arrival the next morning as she marched in the front door and threw her overnight bag down on the tiles.

“No thanks. You can count me out,” Mac answered from the table on the verandah where she was sat eating a late and leisurely breakfast whilst Laura completed her daily circular laps in the pool.

Having devoured enough meat last night to make Henry the eighth jealous, everyone had sat satiated around the television, catching up on the newsworthy goings-on around the world, until, one by one, they had all begun nodding off. Somewhere around eleven, Mac had woken with a start when she’d felt the drink that she had originally balanced carefully in her lap, begin slowly seeping its contents into her shorts. With everyone shooed off to their rooms, she had locked up and had only just managed to strip out of her wet bottoms before passing out exhausted on the top of her bed.

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