Kate, Jodie, Dave, Regan, Stevie and Alex have been sitting having a few beers and the conversations have flowed easily between the friends. As the night air brings a chilly breeze they all move inside and get comfortable. Stevie lights the fire and Alex helps to bring in some wood. The cottage is cosy and the friends continue with their revelry.

Jodie and Stevie move to the kitchen and put together some dips, crackers and chips. "Stevie what's going on with you and Alex?" Jodie asks. Stevie looks at her and says "Nothing what do you mean?" Jodie laughs and says. "Haven't you noticed him looking at you?" Stevie looks at her friend and replies. "No nothing out of the ordinary. We're just friends Jodes. You've been reading too many Mills and Boons." They both laugh and return to the others.

It's after midnight by the time they call it a day. Dave is staying over at Drover's with Regan and they head off. Kate and Jodie return to the shearer's quarters and thank Stevie for a great night." Just as well we don't have to work tomorrow." Jodie quips and adds. "I may need a sleep in I think." They all laugh. "Wanna another beer Steve's." Alex calls as he moves to the kitchen. "Yeah, why not. They're going down very well." She answers.

As he returns to the lounge he inhales as he passes closely to her and says. "Stevie you smell so good." She turns looking at him puzzled and says. "Thanks." "So what are you doing tomorrow?" Alex asks. Stevie replies. "I thought I'd go for a ride out to the wildlife corridor and maybe across the ridge to your outcrop." "Nice, we could take a picnic." He replies. She laughs and says" Well I didn't invite you Alex." He grins as he licks his lips and says" No you didn't but you know you want too." Stevie laughs and says. "Alex are you trying to flirt with me?" He looks at her and says "No Stevie I'm not trying. I am but you're not being very receptive are you now?" She laughs loudly and he grins at her.

"Steve's can I sleep here the night? I've had a few too many beers." Alex asks. "Yeah of course you can the couch is very soft and comfy to sleep on. I'll get some bedding when you're ready. Wanna another beer?" She says. "Yeah sounds good." He calls after her. As she returns and offers him the beer he reaches up and places his hand around hers but doesn't take the beer. He smiles at her and says "Steve's I didn't mean could I sleep on the couch." She looks shocked and moves away placing the beer on the table beside him.

He watches her she looks nervous she's drinking quickly sipping her beer deep in thought. "Alex what are you doing?" "What do you mean Stevie?" He asks. "We've been friends for years and you've never said things like that. Well you have but in jest and I kinda get the feeling you're not joking this time." Stevie offers. "Well I've always wanted too but you've always had the friend guard up so I didn't." He says seriously. She looks at him and smiles and says "The friend guard?"

He looks at her and asks. "Haven't you ever thought about what it would be like to sleep with me?" She blushes really badly and stands quickly, nervously and moves to the kitchen. She returns with two beers. "Stevie you're rattled I already have a full beer." She looks at him dazed and rises grabs the beer and returns them to the fridge. He smiles to himself.

In the kitchen she tries to gather her thoughts. What is he up to? Why is he doing this? She feels very uncomfortable. She returns to the lounge and says "Alex you are making me really uncomfortable. Please don't do this." Alex looks at her and says "You didn't answer my question Stevie." She grins and says. "Yes I have often but then I think of something else and move on. There are you happy." He smiles and says "Often? Nice. Why haven't you ever told me that?" He asks. "Because I'm not going to be added to your long list Alex." She says grinning at him. He puts his hand on his chest and says. "Oh Cowgirl you've hurt me now." Something changes inside her. "Cowgirl?" She says. He laughs and says "Suits you doesn't it." She smiles at him.

They have another beer and chat easily. "I love talking to you Cowgirl. I can truly be myself you know everything about me good and bad and you love me anyway." He says. "Right are you ready for bed yet?" She asks smiling at him. He rubs his hands together and says. "Finally." She stands and moves into the laundry and returns with two blankets and a pillow dropping them onto the couch she says smiling. "Sweet dreams Alex."

She moves to walk passed him and he grabs her around the waist before she has time to react he kisses her, it's a beautiful soft, gentle kiss and initially she responds his heart pounds when she does but then she pushes him away. "Alex please don't." She pleads. Stevie is confused by her feelings her heart is beating forcefully. His lips were so soft and warm and his arms around her felt right she wanted more but they're friends, anything more could ruin that, she's frightened she could lose that.

Alex is watching her she's beautiful and now she looks confused. He wants to kiss her, hug her, make love to her but he has to move slowly. He knows her so well and she's frightened. He can almost hear the conversation she's having with herself. She'll be adding up the pros and cons of moving forward but mostly she's worried about their friendship it was the same for him. He values her friendship more than anything in his life. She is the one he leans on and celebrates with all the good and bad in his life he shares with her. She is the woman in his life but she hasn't quite worked that out yet.

She stands deep in thought and as she does she touches her lips and smiles remembering the feeling. He smiles at her and says "It felt nice didn't it?" She looks at him blushes and is shocked he knows. "Oh you think you know me so well don't you?" She fires at him. He nods and says" You're weighing up the pros and cons and you don't want to risk our friendship because it's the most important thing in your life aside from Rose. I'm the one who you lean on and celebrate with. I'm the one who shares your life."

"Alex, why can't you just drop the subject? Aren't we great just the way we are?" Stevie pleads. He grins at her and says. "Stevie what if you're the meant to be the last on my list? How old are you?' She laughs and says. "You know perfectly well I'm twenty seven Alex." He stands moving towards her and says. "How many children do you want?"

She looks at him grins and starts to back away "Well I had hope I'd have another two or three." He continues to move slowly towards her and says. "Do the math beautiful by the time we get married and you have say one baby each eighteen months or so you'll be around thirty four by the time you have our last one." Stevie grins at him and continues moving around the furniture away from him and says.

"Why would I want to have babies with you?" He stops and smiles and says "Because we'd make beautiful babies Cowgirl." She stops, looks at him and then moves towards him and says "Really." He grins and says. "Oh yeah."

The lights go out in the cottage, folded neatly on the couch are two blankets and a pillow.