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Authors: Rosalind James

Just Once More

BOOK: Just Once More
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Text copyright 2014 Rosalind James

All Rights Reserved

ISBN-13: 978-0-9909124-8-4

The Blues, Hurricanes, and All Blacks are actual rugby teams. However, this is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

New Zealand Map

Cast of Characters

In the Tunnel

Command Performance

Show Her More

Here Comes the Bride

True Confessions

Finn Gets His Way

Pak ‘n’ Save

Madam

Something of My Own

Marshaling My Forces

Back to the Coromandel

Poetic Justice

On the Mount

A Holiday Project

The Harder They Fall

A Bit Caveman

Morning Light

Meaning It

Quite the Interruption

In the Tunnel Again

Rubbish at Speeches

Epilogue

A Kiwi Glossary

NOTE: A New Zealand glossary appears at the end of this book

(In order of appearance)

Sir Andrew (Drew) Callahan (36), Lady Hannah Montgomery Callahan (35)
. Papamoa (suburb of Tauranga). JUST THIS ONCE. Drew: much-acclaimed longtime captain and No. 6 (blindside flanker) for the Auckland Blues and All Blacks; now retired from playing and head coach of the Bay of Plenty (professional) provincial rugby team. Hannah: marketing executive for 2nd Hemisphere clothing firm. Parents of Jack (4-1/2) and Grace (18 months); new baby due in two weeks.

Helen Callahan; Sam Callahan
, Te Kuiti. JUST THIS ONCE. Drew’s mother and father.

Liam (Mako) Mahaka (29), Kristen Montgomery Mahaka (32)
, Wellington. JUST MY LUCK. Liam: No. 2 (hooker) for the Wellington Hurricanes and All Blacks. Kristen: Hannah’s younger sister, and a buyer for a Wellington department store. Parents of a baby due in three weeks.

Finn Douglas (37), Jenna McKnight Douglas (33)
, Auckland. JUST FOR NOW. Finn: former No. 8 for the Auckland Blues and All Blacks; now retired from playing and serving as strength and conditioning coach for the Blues. Jenna: former Year 1 teacher. Parents of Sophie (10), Harry (8), Lily (2-1/2), and a new baby due in two months.

Hugh Latimer (29), Jocelyn (Josie) Pae Ata (31)
, Auckland. JUST NOT MINE. Hugh: No. 7 (openside flanker) for the Auckland Blues and All Blacks. Josie: TV star. Getting married in a few days; parenting Hugh’s half-siblings, Amelia (13) and Charlie (9).

Hemi Ranapia (36), Reka Harata Ranapia (35)
, Papamoa. JUST FOR YOU. Hemi: former No. 10 (first-five) for the Auckland Blues and All Blacks; now retired from playing and serving as backs coach for Bay of Plenty. Reka: former kindy teacher and mum to their four children: Ariana (11), Jamie (9), Luke (6), and Anika (2-1/2).

Koti James (32), Kate Lamonica James (31)
, Auckland. JUST GOOD FRIENDS. Koti: No. 13 (centre) for the Auckland Blues and All Blacks). Kate: accountant for the Blues team. Parents of Maia (20 months).

Dominic (Nic) Wilkinson (Nico) (31), Emma Martens Wilkinson (30)
, Auckland. JUST FOR FUN. Nic: No. 15 (fullback) for the Auckland Blues and All Blacks. Emma: knitwear designer for 2nd Hemisphere. Parents of Zack (8) and George (11 months).

Sarah
, Motueka. JUST FOR NOW. Finn’s sister.

Nate Torrance (Toro) (30), Allison (Ally) Villiers (29)
, Wellington. JUST MY LUCK. Nate: Captain of the Wellington Hurricanes and, for the past two years, successor to Drew as captain of the All Blacks; No. 9 (halfback). Ally: rock climbing and kayaking instructor/guide. Became engaged a week before this story begins.

George Wilkinson
, Tauranga. JUST FOR FUN. Nic’s father.

Arama Pae Ata
, Katikati. JUST NOT MINE. Josie’s mother.

Drew Callahan sat bolt upright in the dark, his heart hammering, his body wet with cold sweat.

“Shit.”

It was nothing more than an explosion of breath, but it woke Hannah anyway.

“Drew?” She struggled to heave her body up, and his arm went out reflexively to support her. “Is something wrong?”

“Nah.” He had himself back under control now, his galloping heart finally slowing. He lay back down, pulled her gently along with him. “A bad dream, that’s all. You OK, though? Baby not coming or anything?”

“What?” She still sounded sleepy. “Of course not. I’d have woken you up. Why?”

He shrugged, tried to shove the dream aside. Its dark tendrils lingered despite his efforts, sticky cobwebs of fear and dread brushing across his mind. “Just a bad dream. Sorry to wake you. I know sleep’s coming hard now.”

“What kind of dream?” She settled herself a little more comfortably on her side, put a hand onto his chest and stroked him there. The touch of her hand, the sound of her voice began to smooth the jagged edges left by the nightmare. His muscles released some of their tension, his body settling into the mattress.

“People who tell their dreams, gah.” He felt nothing but foolish now. “Anything more annoying than that? Never mind. Doesn’t matter.”

“Tell me. Because it scared you. Your heart’s still beating so hard.”

He tried to laugh. “Can’t hide anything from you, I guess. OK. It was…I was in this…tunnel. With you. And somebody was coming. I couldn’t quite hear, but I could tell. Somebody who meant to hurt us, I knew that.”

Because he had known. He’d known it for sure, and it had scared the shit out of him. Not for him. For her.

“I was waiting,” he went on. “Couldn’t stand up—too low. Too narrow. In this little space, with somebody coming. Crouched down in the pitch black, listening and waiting, seconds going by, holding my breath so I could hear him breathe.”

He stopped, forced himself to relax again, but the tension took hold all the same. “And then I felt him come, just this whisper in the air, and I was grabbing for his hair. Stabbing at his eyes, punching at him in the dark as best I could, trying to bang him into the rocks, and he was fighting back. Fighting so hard. He was so strong, and I was scared…” He swallowed, the fear gaining the upper hand again, tightening his muscles, shortening his breath even as he told himself it was a dream. Only a dream. “Scared that I’d lose. Scared that he’d get through me. That he’d get through me to you.”

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