Dave held Regan lightly. He hadn't wanted to be anywhere near her. He was afraid that he would do something stupid and he had had a few too many glasses of wine. Her perfume wafted up to him and he remembered how she felt beneath him. Her red dress clung to her body, leaving little to the imagination.
The halter top left her shoulders bare. Her hair was pulled up in some complicated twist pinned back with a single red rose that heightened the colour and angle of her cheeks. Her brown eyes sparkled as she watched Tayler and Patrick dance.
Grace was still singing on stage and he tried to focus on her and not the warmth of the woman in his arms.
I give, I give to you,
All that I know is true.
And you give, you give to me,
All of your heart
And all of your soul.
And the promises we'll keep as we grow old.
This day, this perfect day.
Peace, peace at last.
Love blurs, love blurs my eyes.
And my heart is in your hands.
No more yearning, no more fears.
For you have brought me home.
No more yearning, no more fears.
Oh safe harbour of my home.
Oh safe harbour of thou own.
The song was over and Dave stepped back from Regan. "Well, I guess those dancing lessons paid off."
Regan smiled. "Yeah. That was a long time ago, Dave."
He nodded. "I know."
"And the whole Kate thing. I don't think I want anything more from you."
He shook his head. "I didn't think you did."
She frowned. "The way you were holding me when we danced, it didn't seem like nothing."
"Regan, I've had too much to drink and we were dancing. It's nothing."
"Good." She nodded and moved off.
Grace moved off the stage and took a baby from Stevie. She made her way over to Dave.
"Hello, Dave. I'm Grace McLeod."
"Hi, Grace." Dave held out his hand and shook Grace's. "Is this your little boy?"
Grace nodded and shifted the baby so Dave could see his face. "This is Channing."
"Another little McLeod?" Dave tickled the baby's cheek. "He's a real cutie. Who's the dad?"
"That's the million dollar question."
Dave saw a tall, blond haired man walk up. It took his brain a little long to remember the man's name. "Marcus. You're Alex's half brother."
"That would be me. You're that vet that went to Africa. Sorry, there wasn't much time to introduce ourselves earlier."
"That's okay, mate. Bloody plane was late." Dave turned back to Grace. "So you don't know who the father is?"
Grace shrugged and lowered her gaze to her son.
"Grace doesn't like to talk about it," a blond haired woman said, coming up and wrapping her arm around Grace's waist. "Come on, I have something I want to talk to you about."
"Who's she?" Dave watched the two women walk away. "Nice."
"That's Ingrid. She's my wife," Marcus said.
"Sorry, mate." Dave bit his lip and wandered off.
He was out of the loop. So many things had changed. There were more McLeods around the place, Alex was gone; there was a new owner at Killarney. The only thing that had remained the same was Regan. She was still as beautiful as she had been. Maybe she had a few more lines on her face, but she still had a body that made him want it.
He shook his head. It hadn't worked out last time and it was no good thinking about it now. He had had too much to drink anyway.
Stevie was sitting on a bench, talking to a little boy. Dave scratched his head, trying to remember the child's name. Xander, that was it.
"Stevie," Dave called.
Stevie lifted her head and waved at him. Dave sat down beside her and looked at her son. He looked like Alex.
"Stevie, tell me who's who," he begged. "I can't figure anyone out anymore."
Stevie laughed. "Better stop drinking the beer than, Dave."
He rolled his eyes and set the beer bottle down.
"Who do you want me to start with?" Stevie pulled Xander onto her lap and rested her cheek on his head.
Dave studied the guests and his gaze fell on one of the bridesmaids. "Who's the princess in yellow?"
Stevie laughed. "That's Regan and Grace's little sister, Jasmine McLeod. We call her Jaz. She married my cousin, Ben Hall, six months ago. She's twenty weeks pregnant."
"What's the story with Grace?"
Stevie shrugged. "Girl secrets. Anyway, you've met Marcus, right?"
"Alex's half brother." Dave nodded. "Made the mistake of watching Ingrid walk away and commenting on it."
"Yeah, Marcus is a little protective of his wife. She's beautiful and turns a lot of heads. She's ten weeks pregnant. They got married seven months ago."
"So Marcus is married to Ingrid, Jaz is with Ben and she's Regan's sister. Ben is your cousin. And Grace has Channing, father unknown, subject of father off limits. Got it."
Stevie laughed. "And this young man is my son, Xander."
"That's right. Yours and Alex's. I'm really sorry about Alex, Steves. He was a good mate." Dave rested a hand on Stevie's arm.
She smiled sadly. "Thanks, Dave. He was a good man. But I have Xander and I'll never forget Alex."
"Not when you look into those eyes," Dave said. "I think I have to go make my speech now."
He made his way to the porch where Regan stood, a mike in her hand.
"Are you going first?" she asked.
He nodded and took the mike. "Alright, you lot. It's been a long time since I stood in front of you and made a speech."
"Not long enough," someone called from the crowd.
"Nat, shut up." Dave grinned at Killarney's long time farm hand. "As I was saying, it's been a long time since I've been here and I want to thank you for this opportunity. As most of you already know, I'm Dave Brewer, the groom's older and may I add, better looking brother."
"I beg to differ," Tayler said, laughing.
Dave glared playfully at his sister-in-law. "You, shush. Pat, you need to learn to control that wife of yours."
Pat kissed Tayler and then grinned at Dave. "How was that?"
"It's a start." Dave cleared his throat. Where to start this bloody speech? "So, Pat is five years my junior which made me the boss. Something Pat resented and maybe still does. Anyway after our dad died things kinda fell apart for us, but about five years ago, Pat came back into my life and we worked the brother thing out. Pat, for me the past five years have been amazing. You are so different from me yet the same. My sense of humour is never lost on Pat and he can give as good as he gets. When I heard that my brother had fallen for a girl I thought, 'Oh no, not again.' But after talking to some friends and talking to Tayler herself, I knew that she was just the one for my little brother. Tayler, take care of my brother." Dave swallowed. Those beers where making him emotional.
"He's one of a kind. I've never met another like you, Pat. And it's not because you are my brother," Dave continued. "It's because you are kind, smart and willing to take a leap of faith. May the joy and love you each hold for the other continue through the many years you have together."
The crowd cheered and Dave made his way through the people to where his brother stood. Pat stepped forward and hugged him. Tayler smiled and wiped a tear from her cheek.
"That was beautiful, Dave," she whispered, giving him a hug. "Thank you."
Dave nodded and turned to listen to Regan.
She smiled at her friends and lifted the mike. "I would like to start by thanking Tayler for allowing me to stand up with her today. Who knew that three years ago when we met that we would be standing here together, best of friends? When Tayler and I first met she was about to incinerate my belongings. After a few misunderstandings we began to find common ground. Tayler became another sister to me. And I hope I became a sister to her. We confided in each other and I am proud to say that what she is today is because of who she always was, just couldn't see.
"Tayler, I've seen you grow from the sullen, angry teenager I first met to the beautiful bride you are today. You're charming nature draws people to you and now that you are more sure of yourself, I can see you going a long way in whatever direction you choose to go.
"Pat, you are indeed one of a kind. Take care of my girl. If you don't I know where to find you and I just want to let you know that I will fly to Africa and straighten you up.
"I love you both. May happiness and love reign in your life together."
It was late and most of the guests had left. Patrick had whisked Tayler away and Dave wandered Drovers, reliving old memories. Here he kissed Regan and here they talked just before he left.
He looked over the paddocks, dark in the night. It was somewhere in those distance hills that he first kissed Kate and realized that he loved her. As he stood on the edge of the yard he knew he still loved her.
Dave turned and found Regan walking towards him.
"Are you okay?" She laid her hand on his arm.
"Just reliving old memories," he sighed. "I had a lot of good times here. Times I don't want to forget."
"Yeah, Drovers has that affect on people." Regan lifted her head and closed her eyes.
The wind blew softly through her hair, releasing the aroma of her perfume. He leaned in closer and breathed in her scent. He pressed his lips to her neck. She froze and he softly moved up her neck and onto her jaw line.
Regan pressed a hand against his chest and Dave captured it in his own. She looked into his eyes and swallowed. He smiled and took her cheek in his other hand.
"Dave," she whispered. "What are you doing?"
"Just one night," he said softly. "Just one night."
She bit her lip and hesitated. He moved in and kissed her gently, possessively. She started to protest but he just pressed a finger to her lips.
"Let's go to your room," Dave said, taking her hand.
Regan nodded, lifted her skirt and followed him into the house. At the bottom of the stairs he stopped her again and kissed those lips, her hair, her neck. She moaned and ran her hands through his hair.
"Just one night."
He nodded against her skin. He felt her surrender and hurried her up the stairs before she changed her mind. In her room he closed the door and pressed her against it. Releasing the zipper of her dress he pulled the material away from her skin. He trailed a finger down her collarbone and onto her breast.
She fumbled to undo the buttons of his shirt and he took half a step back to give her more room. She tore open the buttons and ran her hands along his chest. He rested his head against her shoulder.
They didn't speak again as they tumbled onto the bed. Dave looked into Regan's eyes and saw that they were filled with passion. She was beyond the point of return. He shifted so they wouldn't fall off the bed.
Later he lay on the bed watching Regan as she slept. She was so beautiful and she didn't even know it. Her room smelled like her. All air and open spaces, roses and horses. It was a wonderful aroma that reminded him of what he had lost.
Tracing Regan's body with his eyes he smiled. The soft moonlight coming in through the window softened the sharp angles of her hips and legs. Kate was so much softer even without the moonlight. At least she had been. Regan was all muscle and bone it seemed. But while Kate was sometimes hesitant in bed, Regan had given all to him. Guilt seized him when he realized that this one night was all he could give her.
His phone rang and he picked it up. The number was from in country. He didn't recognize it.
He smiled. Rolling off the bed he grabbed his shirt and pants and hurried out of the room. "Kate, hi."
"Hello, Dave." She sounded tired. "I'm sorry I missed the wedding. How was it?"
Dave tiptoed down the stairs, pulling his shirt on as he went. "It was wonderful. Pat was glowing and Tayler was beautiful."
"Not as beautiful as you, Kate. I miss you. Are you okay?" Something wasn't right. He could hear it in her voice. He walked into the kitchen and leaned against the table. He tugged on his pants and curled his bare toes on the cold floor.
Kate sighed. "No, I'm not alright. I got malaria somehow."
"Kate," Dave moaned. "Didn't you take your pills?"
"I ran out," Kate said.
Dave frowned. "You never run out. Kate, what's going on?"
Kate's voice wobbled as she spoke. "I can't do this anymore. I'm so lonely. Dave, please come get me."
"Where are you?"
He heard her swallow. "Sydney."
"Sydney? Why didn't you tell me you were coming? I would have met you." He toyed with an apple.
"I just landed three hours ago."
"I see. I'll come to you tomorrow." He hesitated and then spoke the words he had been dying to say for two years. "I love you, Kate."
She sobbed and said, "I love you too, Dave."
He laughed. "When did it go wrong, Kate?"
"I don't know. But can we fix it?"
"Of course." He smiled. She still wanted him. "I'll leave tomorrow morning. I should make it there by eight or nine."
"Thank you, Dave. I love you."
"I love you. See you tomorrow, Kate."
He hung up and punched the air with a fist. He jumped as the floor behind him creaked. Grace stood in the doorway with Regan right behind her wrapped in a blue robe. Grace looked like she hadn't yet slept and Regan's hair was tousled and her eyes were swimming with tears.
"I think you'd better leave, Dave," Grace said quietly. "I get rather upset when people hurt my sisters."
He nodded and headed back to the stairs. "I'll just get the rest of my stuff then. I'm sorry, Regan."
She swallowed. "Just one night. Good bye, Dave."