Disclaimer: I do not own this television show or its characters. I wish I did because if I had any say whatsoever it would have been shown in The United States long ago, thus garnering it and it's wonderful actors the accolades it/they so richly deserve. However since this is after the fact and it wasn't (nor are the repeats planned to be shown in the USA future) I will simply state that this fiction was written for entertainment purposes only. Thank you.

*NOTE* I'm feeling my way with this fiction. I had a thought, a thought that became an idea and an idea that typed its way into my PC. The rating on this fiction is currently PG but if it goes astray I will warn you.

Feedback is *always* appreciated.
Best, Beckers




TOTSS
"So Far Away"
By Beckers


She pulled a large garment bag from underneath her bed and tossed it, defeated, onto the mattress.

"You're leaving." His tone was low, so low she almost didn't realize he had entered the room right after her. "I never would have believed …" he began.

"What?" Isabelle Reed turned suddenly, her long-heavy hair tossing itself over her right shoulder, "That I would just give up, David?" Her tone was bitter and accusing. "It's gone! ALL of it."

"I know." he said lowly, lacking the eloquence to say what she needed to hear. He only wished he knew what to utter to relieve her anger and heartache. "You're going back to England?"

"There or somewhere. Maybe Australia."

"That's not too far away …"

"Far enough to forget. I hope."

The lawyers and their minions, had come for the last of the horses this morning. Isabelle had openly wept when her favorite, Dante, was pulled from her grasp. The horse had actually craned its long neck and looked back to her as if asking why she was giving him up to the rough hands of these unscrupulous strangers.

"I thought after the fire a month ago that things couldn't get worse, David." Isabelle whispered, her bottom lip trembling but out of sight of Captain Grief. "But they did."

The fire.

Grief remembered it well. She was with him during a haul to Fatovu. When returning to Matavai Isabelle had commented that the air around them seemed heavy and somehow polluted. It wasn't until they docked and saw Lavinia and Reverend Trent waiting on shore that Isabelle realized something terrible had happened. Tragedy was written all over their faces.

Isabelle's stable had burned to the ground, taking the life of her stable boy - Pui. Many of the horses had also been hurt and were ordered destroyed by the local board of health. Although Isabelle's living quarters had been spared, the bulk of her supplies, many vital to her on-going business, were damaged. Miss Reed was going to have to start from scratch if she wanted to continue her chosen business and livelihood.

Many thought the young woman would fall to pieces when hearing the news but those who knew Isabelle Reed best understood that it was merely another challenge. She was down but not out. She had a little money put away and could *start* building again -- but she would need more. That was where the mainland bank came in. They were more than eager to lend the lovely stable owner cash, especially when she was able to show proof that Reed Enterprises had been very profitable. She had only been set up in Matavai for eighteen months but was already a business to be reckoned with, showing impressive revenue, until her luck turned bad.

Two weeks after she and Grief's return, Isabelle made a request of he and Mauriri. "I know how much you two want sole ownership of The Rattler. I was never your choice for a partner, David …" she said and noted that he did not interrupt, " … so let's make a bargain. If you're willing to give me all the profit from the Pow Mir run, no matter how big or small it is, I'll write myself out of the partnership. The ship will be your own again."

Even now Grief debated the conflicting emotions that overcame him. Yes, The Rattler was his and he wanted her back as his and *only* his but Grief had to admit that having Isabelle about, tending to their books and making all the right business decisions, hadn't been so bad. For the first time in a long while he and Mauriri were making a profit and actually keeping some of their savings, which wasn't really something he could brag about when they were left to their own brand of haphazard bookkeeping.

Grief agreed and, at first, it seemed a wise decision. They picked up cargo from Pow Mir, a small but agriculturally wealthy island near Bora Bora, and it was a vast haul. Isabelle would have made a more than healthy yield once they delivered to Tuvalu.

But then the storm hit.

It was unexpected and viscous. The only thing Grief and Mauriri could do was drop their payload. If not, The Rattler would have been sunk, never to be recovered, in the deep water of the south seas. It was either their lives and the lives of the crew or the cargo.

The Rattler pulled in that evening and he would never forget, as long as he lived, the joy and expectation on Isabelle's face, the radiance in her expression. She had received their cable about the successful pick up. It nearly killed David Grief to have to tell her what happened but he did and he watched her gray-green eyes avert in disappointment. He thought she might scream and curse or even punch both he and Mauriri, but Isabelle merely nodded and asked: "Are you okay?"

When they both nodded she said no more. Isabelle merely looked like a woman who had to make a decision. She then turned on her booted heel and marched to her home, where the burned out stables used to reside.

The following morning Grief was called upon by a solicitor who informed him that Isabelle had signed over complete ownership of The Rattler to him. Grief, standing on the beach, looked at the official document then to the solicitor once again. "Did she say anything when the papers were signed?" he wondered, deeply troubled despite his own good fortune.

"No, not really." the dispassionate man had said. "She merely whispered 'A deal is a deal.'"

Not long after, he and Mauriri looked on as the bankers came to call. Isabelle could offer them nothing substantial. However, dressed stylishly in a light blue skirt and vest, her hair brought up behind her head in the smartest of business fashion, a small time piece attached to her white blouse, Isabelle promised that if they would have just a little faith in her she would bring the business back to its former glory and pay them back in full.

Grief almost smiled at the certainty in her voice. *He* would have been convinced and knowing Isabelle Reed like he did, she would have kept her word, at nearly any cost.

However, not swayed by either her beauty and business skills, making the odd comment about "a woman in a man's profession" Mister Peakston, the mainland banker, had other ideas. He looked at her remaining horses, all healthy and well taken care of, then turned to Isabelle with an almost triumphant expression on his spectacled face.

"Miss Reed," he said, "Weren't you once accused of murdering your French lover, Marcel Pinnet? Didn't it have something to do with stolen gold or some such?"

Grief had never seen Isabelle look so lost for words or any woman's face turn so white.

(to be continued)