Tess, Stevie Jodie and Kate are moving a mob of sheep down the road. Tess and Stevie are bringing up the rear when a man's voice calls. "Oi Get a move on will ya." Without looking Stevie waves her arm and says. "Yeah in a minute pal." Alex says "Come on cowgirl move em' along."

Stevie turns and a smile spreads across her face she dismounts, hands her reins to Tess and runs saying." Where in the hell have you been." She gently launches herself into his arms. Her heart is pounding, he's back she can tell him how she feels. He is very happy to see her and sweetly surprised by her enthusiastic welcome.

Before he has a chance to say anything she kisses him softly, deeply passionately. Without thought he responds his heart pounding. Then she gently releases him and slides to stand beside him, as she does her hand brushes his skin arousing something deep within.

Tess, Kate and Jodie have witnessed the kiss and aren't surprised at all. It's been a long time coming. The passenger side door of Alex's car opens and a woman steps out. Alex looks confused but smiles and moves over to her "Girls this is Fiona my fiance'."

Stevie draws her breath and is close to tears but holds it together long enough for him to introduce everyone. Stevie excuses herself remounts her horse and whispers to Tess as tears begin to fall down her cheeks. "I have to get out of here Tess I can't do this." Stevie clicks her horse into a gallop and is gone. The girls continue talking to Fiona and Alex until they drive away.

"Tess we have to find Stevie." Kate says. "I want to hit him he's such an idiot. Obviously he's not thinking with his head or his heart again bloody typical of him. " Jodie says angrily and continues "How could he do that to Stevie?"

Stevie is riding wildly, crying, not thinking about anything except that fact she's made a fool of herself. She shouldn't have kissed him, but she was so glad to see him and it just felt right. How could she ever look him in the face again? Engaged! He'd been only gone for five days.

Fiona is unaware of the kiss as she was sitting inside the car. Alex is confused and all he can think of is her lips and the softness of her body pressed up against him. Her beautiful smiling face and those wild red curls as she threw herself into his arms.

His best friend, she was always the one he could talk to, she knew everything about him, all his hopes and dreams. She even knew his faults but she liked him anyway. They'd kissed once, and he wanted more but she only wanted to be friends.

As Fiona and Alex are driving towards Kilarney a conversation begins. "All the girls seemed really nice Alex" Fiona offers. "Yeah they're a great bunch." He answers absently. "You didn't tell me they were all gorgeous though." Fiona laughs. "Oh are they? Fi I need to go back to Drover's I need to speak to Tess. Do you mind?" "No not at all but you'd best let Sandra know." He pulls over and calls Sandra then moves towards Drover's.

Tess and the girls have quickly moved the mob and put them into the paddock. "Where do you think she'd be?" Kate asks. "I have no idea Kate let's hope she's still riding. Because if we get back to Drover's first I'll grab the keys to the Ute so she won't run." Tess says. The girls ride quickly towards home and hope she hasn't gone already.

As Alex swings his Ute into drover's he hopes Stevie's here. Her Ute is here, that's a good sign. He pulls the car over and notices Tess and the girls are back. Fiona says she'll wait in the car assuming he won't be long.

As he walks towards the girls Jodie says "Come to inflict a bit more pain have you?" Tess chips her to be quiet. Alex looks at her and doesn't understand why Jodie is angry with him they're mates. "What is your problem Jodie?" Alex asks feeling annoyed.

Tess gives Jodie a look but Jodie continues regardless. "You're the problem Alex you're an idiot you shack up with some piece of skirt for 4 days and ask her to marry you? You're a bloody idiot." Before he has a chance to answer Jodie walks away and Kate follows but not before giving Alex the filthiest look.

Stevie has stopped riding and is sitting on a rocky outcrop. She is scolding herself for not telling him sooner about how she felt. Before Tess and Nicks wedding they'd kissed and it was like nothing she's ever experienced before but Alex had a reputation with women and she didn't want to be another notch on his belt plus she'd just split with Kane and her emotions were still raw.

His friendship meant the world to her, he was always there for her, to give advice and to comfort her and she didn't want to lose that. Now that was probably over. How could he keep her as friend when she'd kissed him while his fiancé was in the car beside them? What sort of a person had she become to do that to a friend?

"Alex I'm sorry the girls are a little upset at the moment." Tess says. "Tess I'm really confused here. I thought you'd all be happy for me? What is going on? I've only been gone for 5 days. Did I miss something? I've got the girls treating me like something on the soul of their boots and then Stevie?"

Tess smiles at him and says "Let's walk up here. I need to ask you a few things." They walk towards the windmill. Jodie has grabbed Stevie keys to her Ute so if she returns she won't run. Kate has checked the yards and Stevie's horse is still out so they hope that's a good sign.

"Alex what do you think and feel about Stevie?" Tess asks. Alex looks at her and laughs and says. "You know how I feel about her Tess. We're best mates." Tess looks at him and says" Is that all Alex?" His heart flips as he says "What do you mean Tess?" "Think about it Alex is that all you feel for her? If she moved away tomorrow and you never saw her again. Would that bother you?" Tess asks.

Alex looks at her and replies. "She only wants to be friends Tess. Stevie doesn't want more than that from me." Tess grins at him and says "Alex that wasn't my question? How do you feel about her?"She can see the sadness in him when he says. "I love her Tess and I have for a very long time. She doesn't want me like that though; she only wants me as her friend."

Tess puts her hand on his arm and says "Alex you need to find her and tell her that and you need to do that right now or she'll run and disappear from our lives." "Bloody hell what am I supposed to do with Fiona then?" "I'll take her for a cuppa and a chat any idea we're Stevie will be?" Tess asks. Alex grins and says "Yes I'm fairly certain I know where to find her. Can I take your Ute Tess?" "Yes you can Alex I'll tell Fiona you had to go and help with some cattle and you'll be an hour or so ok? But Alex this is the only time I'll lie for you." He leans and kisses her cheek and says. "Thanks Tess"

Stevie is sitting on the rocky outcrop Alex's favourite place and one of hers too. She hears a car and glances up to see the Drover's Ute. She smiles to herself looks like the posse has found me. Stevie doesn't move but stays looking out over this beautiful place.

"Hey Cowgirl can I interest you in a beer? " Alex says. Stevie's heart is racing she doesn't look at him and says "Yes thanks, I'd love one I'm a bit thirsty." He sits closely beside her and hands her a beer.

She can smell his cologne and it makes her want to cry. She wants to hold him, love him but he's engaged. Alex wants to take her in his arms he knows she's been crying but she won't look at him. "Cheers." He says moving his beer towards her. "Yeah cheers." She responds.

They sit for awhile in silence. Stevie says "Alex I'm sorry about before I was out of line. I didn't realize you were engaged." He grins to himself and says. "That's ok Stevie it was a beautiful welcome home.

So if I wasn't engaged would you still apologize?" Her heart is pounding why would he says that. "Alex please don't play games with me. I'm already embarrassed and upset."

"Stevie. Why did you kiss me?" He asks. Oh god she thinks, go away Alex this is too hard to do and say. "I just got swept up in the moment I guess. I missed you and you were there and..." She says but is unable to finish.

"Stevie do you think we can still be friends?" He asks. She bursts into tears she cries loudly, heartbreaking sobs escape from her and she can't stop it. She pulls her knees up and holds them resting her head on them. He places his arm around her shoulder and says. "Stevie please don't cry."

She can't speak for ages and finally when she gains enough control she says. "Alex please leave me alone I can't do this, and please don't touch me. I can't stand to be near you."

He says. "Oh well that's bloody nice I thought we were mates." She stands and yells. "Stop it Alex, you're an idiot. I'm in love with you and I can't stand to be near you because it hurts knowing I can't have you. She turns and moves towards her horse. "Stevie stop wait please I need to speak to you."Alex pleads.

Angrily she turns and spits out her words. "Why Alex you never waited or listened to me the day of the fire .You never took my call. Why should I listen to you? Then you come home 5 days later engaged. In five days you find someone supposedly fall in love and ask her to marry you, five days."

He looks puzzled and says "What are you talking about? What about the fire? You weren't even there! You never rang me, Stevie you never rang." She turns angrily and moves back towards him.

"How did you get out of the house Alex? Who did you think pulled you out? I came to tell you I was in love with you and the house was on fire you weren't breathing Alex. I had to help with Sandra and you drove off. I searched for you and Dave let me use the phone at Wilgul and I rang but you never answered. Tears are falling down her face and she's having trouble speaking remembering the day and the pain she felt at his departure.

"Oh God Stevie I'm sorry I didn't know. You said you only wanted to be friends. I have loved you for a long time but you didn't want me. I've had such a difficult time being near you and wanting you so much. I thought I had to move on and I found Fiona while I was in the city." He says sadly.

Stevie looks up at him and smiles and says "Alex what did you say?" He gazes at her and says "I love you Stevie and I have for a long time." He reaches down and kisses her softly, passionately and she responds.

As they move apart. He says "Stevie I have to fix this. I have a fiancé sitting at Drover's Run having a coffee with Tess. Please give me a few hours and I'll come back to the Drover's." He kisses her again and quickly leaves in the Ute.

As Stevie rides back to Drover's all sorts of things are racing through her mind. For one she wouldn't like to be him calling off an engagement. She wonders if he'll really do it.

Jodie and Kate are sitting on the veranda of the Shearers Quarters when Stevie rides in. "Hey Stevie are you ok? We've been worried about you." Kate says. Stevie smiles at them and says "No I'm fine, want to grab me a beer and I'll just give Banjo a quick rub down and let him go. I'll be back in five." She rides off. Jodie says "Wow I didn't expect her to be anywhere near that happy."

A short time later Stevie is sitting with the girls and Tess having a beer. Alex drives down the driveway in his Ute and pulls up to a stop. He moves quickly from the cabin walks over to Stevie takes her arm and pulls her to her feet into his arms.

He leans to kiss her and she stands on her tippy toes up to meet him, his lips brush hers and he says "I love you Stevie." Before she has a chance to say anything his lips are upon hers softly completely deeply. She hears nothing, sees nothing only him and his beautiful lips and his strong safe arms.

As they part, Jodie quips "Right Alex I forgive you." Stevie and Alex laugh and he replies to Jodie. "Righto get me a beer and we're even."