Chapter Thirteen

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They sat across from one another, the night wind blowing through her hair. The lights of a hundred yachts glimmered on the harbor, taking her back to a distant place in her past. A time filled with regattas and champagne and falling in love with a smooth talking sailor. The same sailor that now entertained her as they closed out the final hours of a very long day in the moonlight off Darling Point.

Dinner with Lily and Maks upon their return to Sydney had been quiet. Certainly not the constant chatter that surrounded the foursome just two nights before. Tessa could see the fatigue on Kelly's face in the way of dark circles under each brown eye. He shuffled his body with caution and she could tell that he was experiencing some type of pain. The hours spent roaming the Australian countryside had definitely taken a toll on him, though she knew he'd never admit it. Following dessert, she stated her need for a taxi and a hot shower, ready to end her ex-husband's suffering and call it a night. But Kelly wouldn't hear of it, announcing that the final nightcap of the evening would take place aboard his brand new luxury cruiser, Cashin' In.

They'd been together since dawn, traveling to and from the magical place he lovingly called Anembo. She could hardly believe her eyes when his helicopter touched down at Wigilopka Wildlife Reserve--two thousand acres of rugged beauty and Gloria Glass's final legacy. A labor of love she cultivated with her son and the place that upon Kelly's death, she learned, would be left in her care. They'd explored some of the vast terrain via Jeep while the head of the operations, Terrence McBride, played chauffeur and tour guide. Tessa watched with wonder as both he and Kelly narrated the various sites around the preserve currently under construction. The animal hospital and rehab center. The education and multimedia center. The aviary. Staff dormitories. A twenty-two room guest house for those who desired an extended stay to interact with hundreds of native creatures. It was more than Tessa could have imagined and she was touched by the pride she saw in Kelly's eyes.

He'd surprised her yet again as they shared a late lunch Out of Africa style at an elegantly dressed outdoor table before returning to the city. The weather was perfect and together with Terrance, they spent two hours discussing Gloria's vision and Kelly's desires for the reserve. She'd listened intently as he spoke with both passion and compassion, unsure how to respond. Words like preservation, safeguarding, and eco-responsibility flowed without hesitation from his mouth, prompting the same question in her mind. Who on earth is this man sitting beside me?

It was almost four o'clock when the Jeep delivered them back to the helicopter pad on the east side of the reserve. They'd traveled down the eight mile stretch of dirt road in silence as Tessa tried to process the enormity of her unexpected gift.

"Kelly..." She shook her head in disbelief, taking one last look as she climbed into the Bell Jet Ranger. "It's the most amazing place I've ever been in my life. I just don't know what to say."

"You don't have to say anything. The smile on your face says it all."

Now, hours later, her thoughts had moved on from wildlife reserve to the man seated before her. She watched as he played the remainder of the song minus his unique brand of vocals. Every few seconds his gaze bounced from his fingers on the strings to her face. Each look conveyed a peaceful sort of contentment that tugged at her heart. What happened to the man, she wondered, that refused to sit still and just enjoy a quiet moment?

"What on earth possessed you to start playing the guitar?" Tessa broke the silence. "You were never interested in music."

"Actually, it was Evelyn's idea...in a roundabout sort of way."

"Evelyn?" Tessa was surprised.

"She came to my rescue, I guess you could say--at a time when I really needed a friend."

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