I hadn't seen him for a couple of days. After yet another fight with him, Kate had taken off to ride in a rodeo, clear her head, get away from Coopers Crossing. Frantic with worry at not knowing where she was, Geoffrey paced the floor of the RFDS base.
"I love her too," I'd said to pacify him the best I could. "She'll be alright." And although he didn't acknowledge it at the time, he knew I knew. Geoffrey was head over heels for Kate but he wouldn't do anything about it. Kate refused to acknowledge it either. She just kept flying off the handle at everything he said to her and had stormed off in a rage to the rodeo.
As it turned out, it didn't do her any good and having been missing for a few days, Kate turned up safe but not exactly well, thrown from her horse and injured. She was now recuperating back at the house she shared with me and I wondered whether I should say anything about my conversation with Geoffrey from a few days before.
"Kate?" I called as I opened the front door. I'd just returned from the base and was looking forward to a quiet evening.
"In here," came Kate's voice from the living room. I pushed open the door and found my housemate lounging on the couch in her pyjamas, slippers and dressing gown. She smiled when she saw me.
"How are you feeling today?"
"Better. Good. I think I'll be ready to go back to work in a day or so."
I gave her a look. "Don't rush it Kate."
"Oh Chris, I'm alright." Kate was as stubborn as ever. "Besides, I'm going crazy around here with no one to talk to all day."
"Hmm," I said noncommittally. "Well, we'll see how you are tomorrow. And don't look at me like that" I said catching Kate doing her petulant child face. "You know I only want what's best for you."
"Oh I know," Kate sighed. "And you've been great these past few days. It's just so frustrating!" she added with a smile. "So, tell me what I missed today."
"Well," I began as I sat down on the couch beside her, and filled her in on all the goings-on at the base that day.
"How's Geoff?" she asked suddenly.
I smiled. "He's fine. He was worried about you."
Kate pulled a face. "Oh I'll bet."
"He was. He really cares about you, you know." I contemplated whether to tell her what I knew – what I thought I knew.
"Then why doesn't he tell me that?" sighed Kate.
I looked at her. "What do you mean?"
"Well, he's kissed me a few times and we're close, but…oh, I don't know. He's never come out and said 'Kate, I love you' has he? Or whatever else it is he feels. And then sometimes, I think he doesn't like me at all and we're fighting, and- that's why I took off like that. Oh Chris, you understand, don't you?"
I smiled at her and nodded.
"And," she looked at the floor. "This sounds so stupid now, but at one point, I thought it was you he was interested in."
At this I looked confused. "Me?"
"Yes." Kate paused and took a breath. "At the Bachelors and Spinsters ball we kind of promised each other the last dance. And then there he was on the dance floor with you. I thought it was happening again."
"Bachelors and Spinsters? Ah, I fear that may have been my fault. That young lad, the runner, remember him? He was coming on to me and I just sort of grabbed Geoff as a way to escape. I had no idea he'd promised the dance to you. I'm sorry. But wait – you thought what was happening again?"
Kate blushed. "I thought you were stealing my man again."
Now I was confused. "Stealing your man? When have I ever-?"
"Tom" said Kate softly. "I'd been in love with him for years and Liz Dreever had left and I was finally ready to make my move and then you came waltzing in and took him from me. Oh, Chris, it's fine now, I'm not still holding a grudge or anything," she said catching sight of my shocked face. "Tom and I would never have worked out anyway. I always got the impression he saw me as a little sister more than anything else."
I smiled ruefully. "Well Tom and I didn't exactly work out well either, did we? Oh, we're a hopeless pair aren't we? Tom leaves me to go to Africa, Mike turns out to be married-"
"I dated George Baxter!" Kate laughed.
"Yes, what exactly were you thinking going out with him?" I teased her, glad the mood had lightened. I knew that Kate's crush on Tom was in the past and that our friendship hadn't suffered because of it.
She punched me lightly on the arm. "I don't know. Can I call it temporary insanity?"
"Oh, it was that alright," I laughed. "But seriously, what about Geoff? Have you though about telling him how you feel?"
"No. Yes. Oh, I don't know. I thought I should go away, try to get over him as there's no future there."
"What do you mean no future there?! If you ask me, Geoff's head over heels in love with you Kate."
"Then why do we keep fighting all the time?"
"I don't know. It's not like I'm an expert on relationships am I? Perhaps I should have just married Tony or Jack when I had the chance."
"Oh, didn't I tell you about that?" I was sure I had. "Jack told me he had a thing for me a while ago. He even went to Sydney to get a divorce."
Wow, there really was a lot I hadn't told Kate.
"He was. I told him he should sort out a divorce in case he met someone one day and-"
"And he took that to mean you were interested."
"But seriously Chris, you don't really regret not settling for Tony, or Jack, do you?"
"Oh no, not really. But perhaps it would have been easier for me if I had. The whole Mike fiasco would never have happened for a start."
"I thought you loved Mike?"
"I did. That's what makes it such a fiasco. I fell in love with a married man."
"But you didn't know he was married!"
That's what I loved about Kate. She was always such a champion for other people's relationships. "No, but I didn't break it off when I found out, did I?"
"You did eventually."
"Yes. I think I realised that he couldn't give me the life I wanted."
"Not like Tom could have done."
"Who mentioned Tom?"
"Oh, you didn't have to. If he'd stuck around you two would have been married years ago."
"I expect we would. Is it tragic that I think of him as the love of my life? Five months, and he was the love of my life."
Kate gasped. "You still love him!"
I looked sheepish. "Yes," I admitted. "I do. But I don't let myself think about him too often or I'd never move on with my life."
"Maybe he'll come back one day," said Kate. She yawned.
I stared straight ahead. "Maybe." Personally, I didn't hold out much hope. It was over a year since I'd heard from Tom Callaghan.
I looked over at Kate and I could see she was getting sleepy. I stood up so she could swing her legs up onto the couch and I covered her over with a blanket.
"Thanks Chris," she murmured sleepily. "I'm glad I moved in here with you. I like having a housemate."
"Shh," I said. "You get some rest now. We'll talk some more later."
I left her to nap and walked into the kitchen smiling to myself. Kate was just as in love with Geoffrey as he was with her. She just didn't want to admit it yet.