All that I am I give to you...
When Jack left Australia a year ago, Tiffany thought she'd lost him for good. But in truth, Jack loved Tiffany too much to share the painful secret of his illness. He went away to cope the only way he knew how--alone.
Now seeing Tiffany again makes Jack long for the love he believes he neither deserves nor could ever return. Tiffany has different ideas, and sets out to prove she can love and cherish him--for better or for worse.
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March 10, 2008
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Excerpt from To Love and to Cherish by Jennie Adams
'And stay there while I get the rest of your friends under control!' Tiffany Campbell left two goats on the correct side of her family's goat farm fence and headed off further into council-owned creek land to grab the remaining two strays.
Some of the farm's fencing could do with improving, but until her adoptive parents returned from France Tiffany would have to make do with shoring this section up. She wanted things to run smoothly while Colin and Sylvia were away. Wanted them to see they'd been right to trust her with the responsibility of running the farm in their absence. She could do this.
Not that she was trying to earn their approval or anything. She just liked to do a good job of whatever she tackled. For now, that meant keeping Campbell goats away from Reid land, whether the creek appealed to the goats this warm summer's day or not.
Arms pumping, bushman's hat rammed down hard over her corkscrew brown curls, Tiffany stomped on booted feet towards the animals.
She did her best to make her five-foot-andone-quarter-of-an-inch frame appear large and intimidating. 'Hie, hie. Shoo. Towards the gate now, and I'll open it and let you both back through.'
One of the goats obligingly trotted forward.
'Good goat.' Tiffany opened the gate, and shut it again quickly once the goat had entered the paddock.
That left one goat, and Tiffany recognised this goat very well. She should, since she owned it. A personal acquisition bought in a fit of lonely insanity as it turned out.
'Right, Amalthea. I want you back in the paddock with the others.' Tiffany stepped forward.
With a loud maaaa and a look that seemed distrustful, disbelieving and decidedly goddess-like all at once, the goat bolted. Tiffany gave chase, but lost the nimble-footed creature when the goat disappeared around a bend in the creek.
Just beyond that bend stood the footbridge Jack Reid had always used to get from his place to hers. At least until her misguided actions had sent him clear out of Australia and to the other side of the world months ago.
Footsteps sounded on the bridge. Loud, stomping steps in a gait she would recognise anywhere. Tiffany froze to the spot in a mixture of hope and uncertainty. She had wanted a better resolution to her situation with Jack--a chance to truly deal with it rather than continuing to pretend everything was all right from opposite sides of the world. But was she ready to broach that resolution right now?
You'll just have to be ready, won't you?
'I didn't even know he was back from Switzerland.' Her muttered words indicated how far she and Jack had moved from their old, close and comfortable friendship. Would this sudden meeting make any difference to that? Maybe Jack hadn't even planned to see her during his visit here. Would he be sorry to have stumbled into her?
From somewhere nearby, the goat goddess let out a loud and annoyed bleat. A second later Amalthea trotted past Tiffany and disappeared into the brush.
Those swift human footsteps rounded the bend in the creek. And the time for questions ended--because there was Jack.
Solid, in the flesh, as wonderful and as gorgeous as ever. Tiffany wanted to see him only as best friend material--as he wanted to see her. Instead, her heart-rate picked up, her palms heated, and the skin on her arms and at the back of her neck began to prickle.
The reaction was embarrassing and unwelcome and infuriating. Hadn't she gained any ground since he'd left? She focused her efforts to ensure she revealed none of that unacceptable reaction when she spoke. 'Hello, Jack. This is a surprise.'
'Tiffany!' His head snapped up. Deep blue eyes churned with surprise, anger, and other emotions she couldn't define.
Fists clenched at his sides, Jack stopped in front of her. Muscles bunched in the tanned lean jaw, but something in his face softened, too. He clearly wasn't angry with her, as his stomping steps before he'd seen her had indicated. That left surprise, and that softening of his features. A warm feeling spread through her in response, despite all that had gone before.
'I thought I'd find you on the farm.' He spoke the words in that deep, delicious voice of his. 'I didn't expect to see you here.'
'But you did expect to see me?' At least that was a little hopeful...