Alex was the first to woke up, still holding Stevie in his arms. He was surprised and carefully let go of her. He had a strange look on his face. Slowly he moved to sit up and rubbed his eyes. After yawning several times and looking around a bit, observing the animals, he softly poked her in her side. When he found out she didn't move, he leaned forward and gently touched her hair.

"Hey there, sleepyhead."

Stevie moaned and moved a bit. He tickled her cheeks and nose, just to tease her a bit.

"Morning cowgirl." He said with a smile when she finally turned towards him. She slowly opened and closed her eyes a few times. She looked very cute with her curly, messy, long red hair. She was quiet and just stared at him for a moment, feeling a bit dull. He stared at her too and thought she looked sweet. He enjoyed the moment, just like she did, waking up next to each other.

While she stretched her arms she yawned and softly said. "Good morning to you too." They smiled at each other.

"Want some coffee?"

She answered very slow. "Yeah sure. Is it still warm?"

Alex laughed. "Yep warm, not hot. You could use some strong coffee, don't ya?" He winked, looking very pleased.

...

It felt good spending some quality time with Stevie -and waking up next to her- She was one of the reasons why he would stay, but his thoughts of leaving were still on his mind. Maybe he should leave for a while, to find out how it would be.

He looked at Stevie again, who was sipping her coffee and glancing at him with a sweet -almost shy- look on her face. Such a strong, but sensitive woman. He loved that expression on her face. Stevie had became such a special friend, his best friend. They were always comfortable with each other, so comfy that he even kissed her. Alex had many moments when a certain feeling rose inside him. It made him want to hold her in his arms, but he was scared that it might happen again: Ending up kissing his best mate. He sometimes thought about that day and made not a big deal out of it, it wasn't a crime. He's a bloke and she's a pretty good looking woman. As a matter of fact she's gorgeous, but he kept that to himself.

...

She tried to get up, but had some trouble with that, not enough sleep. A few minutes later she was standing up straight. "Maybe we should go now." She stretched out again, rubbing her sore back.

Alex sighed and shook his head. "You can't ride like that Stevie."

That woke her up, she snapped. "That's not for you to decide."

Alex looked very serious and shook his head. "You should see yourself, still half a sleep. An idiot can see your back hurts really bad."

"Alex!? I'm perfectly capable to ride. Come on, let's go." She said and walked towards Banjo, but tripped. She immediately placed her hand on her back and moaned in pain. Stevie had some trouble to get up and looked disappointed when she saw Alex -still sitting at his sleeping bag- roaring of laughter. He just remained sitting there..Awaiting and watching her stumble back at him.

He gasped for air. "You must be kidding me...Just come over here and sit down." He finally did something to help and reached out his hand.

She refused his help and made it clear by putting her hands up. "Very funny Alex..Thanks a lot, I thought you were my best mate?"

He smiled and gestured her to sit in front of him. He teased. "I love it when you're angry. How about a massage?"

Stevie shyly smiled when she took a seat in front of him. "No thanks."

But he seriously carried on about the massage. "I gave you one before, you obviously liked it."

...

He smiled, remembering the day when he gave her that massage. The phone-lines were down on Drovers. Stevie had done to much that was good for her, her back was killing her. Alex started a massage right away, he hated to see her in pain. It took her by surprise, not only that he gave her a massage, but even more because he was surprisingly good at it. And the feeling of his warm and strong hands, touching her soft skin had felt more then just good, but she couldn't say it out loud. There was no need to say it, he already noticed. Everything suddenly became a little to close..And when things got to close, they always seemed to create distance afterwards. The opposite, from what most people would think of it, happened.

They were very close to each other that day, it felt so good. Stevie helped him too, when they had to move Nick's stuff into the main bedroom. Claire's bedroom. Alex had a hard time, but Stevie knew exactly how to help him. He had loved the way she called him and gestured him upstairs to show him the beautiful bedroom, which Stevie and the girls made possible for Tess and Nick...But Stevie had done it also for Alex..

...

They drank some more -almost cold- coffee and relaxed a bit. "You sure you don't want that massage?"

She finally surrendered. "Well..Maybe it's better if you do give me one."

He lifted his eyebrows and the expression on his face told her he couldn't wait to start. She was already sitting in front of him, she only needed to turn...And...

"If you really want this to help, you have to take your shirt of."

She quickly turned and gave him a look with her eyes wide open. He couldn't hide his smile.

"Come on, I saw you shirtless before."

"Yeah and we all know what happened after that." She seriously pointed out.

He teased. "Stevie? I promise you, I won't kiss you. Just take the shirt of." He chuckled.

She giggled and did what he said. It always was a trusted surrounding when he was with her, she was always safe when Alex was near her.

At first she shivered a bit when his hands touched her. She smiled satisfied when he started to move his hands. It wasn't painless, but the massage relieved the tension she was holding in those muscles. "Right there..." She softly said.

"I know." He seemed so confident, he knew exactly what he was doing. "You really got a problem, right here..."

"Ooaau! Oh, that can't be good, you sure you do the right thing?"

"Yep, just give me some time. I'll fix it for ya."

After a while he stopped massaging her and softly stroked her upper arms, one hand on each arm. Then he moved his hands on her neck and massaged her neck a little bit to finish the massage.

"That should be enough, hope it helps."

Stevie felt totally relaxed, she had closed her eyes halfway the massage. She took a deep breath before she said. "I think it already does. Thank you." She slowly turned her face towards him twiddling her hair. "Very much..."

...

For a moment it was like she'd forgotten she was only wearing her bra. They looked into each others eyes. After a few seconds he had trouble not to look at her breasts, he'd always thought Stevie was a very beautiful woman and as a healthy bloke he loved curves, especially Stevie's curves. She felt it again, that special feeling. His eyes were begging, he'd felt it too. It was time for some distance.

She cleared her throat and pointed at the horses. "Alex. We should get going." He couldn't help checking her out again when she stood up. He felt uncomfortable when he saw she noticed. She glanced at him behind her and quickly grabbed her shirt.

Alex stood up and walked towards his horse to get him ready. When they saddled up the horses and were ready to go, Alex chuckled, which made her give him a puzzled look.

She frowned her eyebrows. "What?"

"It's your shirt." He said as uncomfortably as he felt. She glanced at her shirt and noticed she was wearing it inside out. Great. Now she had to take it of again! Alex laughed, but wisely stopped looking at her and started moving the cattle.

Alex joked when he saw Stevie coming, ready to join him. "So what took you so long?"

She shook her head and smiled. As always they did a good job on working together. Hours later they decided it was time for another stop.

"How's your back doing so far?" He friendly asked.

From the look on her face it was obvious her back wasn't so well. "It's not my lucky day I guess."

"I guess you worked to hard lately. I reckon you should give Jodi her old job back."

She nodded. "Yeah...I know I should."

They ate some lunch, there wasn't much food left, but a few sandwiches had to keep them going for the day.

Stevie suddenly observed her best friend for a while. "And you know what you should do?"

He looked up and felt a peaceful feeling when he saw her giving him a special look -which said she cared a lot about him- their eyes locked on to each other. "Well tell me, what should I do, Stevie?"

"Stay." She insisted and added. "And...there is something you shouldn't do."

He looked interesting. She added. "Leave."

"Oh nice one." He smiled. "Maybe you're right."

How could he leave everything? How could he leave his friends...and his best friend? Was it even possible? He thought about it, he stared at the ground.

She was still looking at him. "So, still seriously thinking about leaving, are you?"

He mumbled. "Huhmm."

"Really?" She said, kind of disappointed. He turned his head to her and looked sure of himself, but inside he wasn't feeling sure at all. He looked at her face to discover how she really felt...He frowned his eyebrows.

"Would I hurt you if I left Stevie?" He directly pointed out. It gave her a scare and it made her look in another direction. She suddenly felt a knot inside her stomach and a little nervous all of a sudden. ...

Stevie cleared her throat "Well, yeah a bit."

He tried to make eye contact, but she didn't looked in his direction. "Stevie?"

She then looked at him. "Quite a bit actually." Honestly she admitted.

He smiled and grabbed her hand and said with a hoarse voice . "I would really miss you, you know?"

She moved a bit and shyly smiled. "Well I'd miss you too..." Then it got quiet for a while, they watched the cattle and enjoyed the beautiful view.