as she made it to the passenger-side door. She swung aboard and he floored the accelerator. âWeâll take the shortcut across the paddocks,â he yelled. Swinging wide around the new corner post he hit the top of the driveway sideways and Tammy couldnât help but wonder if they were the ones who were going to need the ambulance. âSettle, Trav,â she said, instinctively reaching out to place her hand on the big one which was working the gearstick. He pulled away like sheâd jabbed him with a needle. The ute, in mid gearshift, clunked into neutral, sending the vehicle running full pelt down the hill. â Travis! â yelled Tammy as she flung herself forwards and rammed the gearstick into third. The engine speed kicked in, rapidly slowing the vehicle down. The motor roared its disapproval as both Tammy and Trav were thrown against their seatbelts. The motor was screaming its injectors out. Trav jabbed the clutch and moved up a gear while flexing the fingers of his left hand. Tammy couldnât help herself. âFor landâs sake, IÂ donât bite. Crikey, you could have killed us!â Trav threw her a look which was somewhere between agitation and fury. And here she was thinking she was doing the neighbourly thing. Sheâd spotted him trying to push that damned post into position and eye up the fence-line all by himself. Realised she could pound out her frustration and anger over Shon by walking towards Lake Grace, or use all that negative energy on something productive. Plus, if the truth be known, she just didnât want to be by herself. She was sick of spending so much time alone. Enter Travis Hunter and his blasted fence. So sheâd offered to help. What an idiot. Although, and the thought was grudging, the eye-candy factor hadnât been a bad side benefit. All those muscles, pecs and decs. Sheesh! Cords of them travelling down a tanned chest and disappearing into a pair of jeans that screamed everything in here is male ! The sheer animal attractiveness of the man was breathtaking. Shame his demeanour didnât match. He could do his own bloody fencing next time. She folded her arms and willed herself to stay calm. As the ute flew across the rough shortcut towards Joeâs place she wondered what the hell the old man had done.
The vision that greeted them wasnât good. Just below his verandah, the old man was face down in the dirt. Totally still. Wild, grey-white hair lay tangled over his head like a dish mop that had seen better days. A leg was cocked at a crazy angle. His arms were spread wide to embrace the earth he was kissing. Perfectly placed across Joe, a child lay prostrate. A boy with a shock of red hair. And the blood was everywhere. Spilling from the bodies to pool like beads of water refusing to soak into sodic soil. Mean soil which didnât encourage life meeting unforgiving human blood. The red claret was terrifying in its quantity. Macabre in its presence. Sinister in its intent. â Billy! â Hunter yelled as he flung himself from the ute, running towards the figures on the ground. â Billy! Joe! â Tammyâs voice caught in her throat. Oh. My. God . What had the old man done? Who had he shot? Billy? Himself? It was a bloodbath. She ran towards them. The ambulance siren screamed, coming up from behind. Two dogs danced around the bodies. Confused, they darted forwards then back, barking and yelping. The place was bedlam. Except for the two silent bodies. Just lying there. Hunter came to a halt, sliding the last few metres across the ground on his knees. âBilly!â Suddenly the boyâs head lifted. âDad?â âBloody hell! Are you all right?â Trav could feel his heart pounding so loudly he felt like it was about to explode from hisÂ chest. âYeah, IÂ think so.â The boy started to move, a little dazed, slightly wobbly. First one arm, then the other. His earnest face