Hakea Lodge, Harrington, south-east South Australia.
‘We should get drunk together one night,’ Sophie said to Aaron as they walked the horses along the firebreak. The pines seemed menacing today, as if bad things hovered in the forest’s dark depths. She wished she could shake off her despondent mood, but today seemed a day for unhappiness.
‘Because then for once you might tell me what’s going on in that handsome head of yours. It worked for Tess.’
‘Some things aren’t worth knowing.’
‘Everything about you is worth knowing.’
‘Stop it, Sophie,’ said Aaron quietly. ‘You’re only making it worse.’
She wanted to keep pushing but Aaron had that shuttered look, like he was keeping himself from the world. His jawline was rigid and his hands were tight on the reins. What was he hiding that was so bad he thought she wouldn’t love him any more if she found out?
‘Can I ask you something?’
He gave her a guarded look, and nodded.
‘What happened in the feed room… did I dream that or was it real?’
He glanced away into the trees. ‘It was real but it should never have happened.’ Suddenly, he reached out, grabbed her hand and clutched it tight, blue eyes concentrated on hers. ‘Sophie, listen to me. You’re gorgeous and sexy and funny and strong, and I care about you more than I can say, but you have to understand, I can’t be what you want. Not now, not ever.’
A lump formed in her throat. She tried to swallow it away but it wouldn’t move. ‘I thought -‘ She stopped, finding she couldn’t go on.
‘I know. I’m sorry.’
‘But you wanted to kiss me. You -‘
You said my name like you loved me.
He squeezed her fingers, eyes filled with sympathy and something her ever-hopeful heart thought might be regret. ‘Friends, Soph. Let us have that.’
‘It’s not enough.’
It would never be enough. Not for her.
He let her go. ‘It’ll have to be.’
Write What You Love
I was born horse mad and my reading has always reflected this. Mary O’Hara’s My Friend Flicka trilogy was followed by every single book in Walter Farley’s Black Stallion series, and the utter bliss of National Velvet and International Velvet. I can still remember clutching those books to my chest and sighing theatrically as my own romantic horsey dreams swirled in my head.
So it comes as no surprise that I wanted to write a book where horses featured in the plot. I’ve written on and off since I was a teenager, and always nurtured a secret ambition of being a novelist. Over the years I’d started many manuscripts, each time determined to reach my dream of becoming a published author, but I never managed to produce more than 10,000 words. Life, work, and love were wonderful distractions, plus I knew nothing about the craft of writing, nor did I have any comprehension of the time and dedication writing a novel takes. Mind you, I soon learned once I finally knuckled down to the job!