‘He’s an amazing athlete. Really fast and strong.’ She smiled as she remembered the good days. ‘Seriously, there’s no sport he doesn’t excel at. When we were younger we spent every weekend at some swim meet or other, then basketball in the evening, athletics, cricket… He was the sun. Our calendars revolved around his events.’
He’d been so active. And the apple of their parents’ eyes. But after their father died her mum had immediately got into a relationship with one of Dan’s coaches and their lives had become even more sport-crazy.
‘Did you play too?’ Jack took her hand and walked her around the side of the apartment to the private turquoise pool, with the lush forest as its backdrop.
‘Oh, no.’ She laughed. ‘I wasn’t blessed with that same athletic physique or aptitude. He’s gifted, you know?’
And he’d worked so hard. It had been his everything.
‘So what did you do while he was playing?’
‘I tagged along and sat on the sidelines and started my lists. “The Five Best Cafés near the Melbourne Cricket Ground” or something. It was fun.’
She’d enjoyed taking her camera and seeing parts of the country she wouldn’t normally have got to. And she’d taken her bag of design books and her crafty things and got on with it.
‘So, has he been snapped up by a team? Or gone to university on a sports scholarship or something?’
She forced herself to nod, unable to speak. Because Dan had lost all those chances.
She turned and dived into the pool, escaping answering properly.
When she surfaced he was standing by the edge of the water and watching her with a frown in his eyes.
‘Your parents must be proud of you too,’ he said.
She laughed, unable to hide the bitter edge. ‘Why?’
She turned to float on her back. ‘Mum doesn’t really get it. She’s on her third marriage. She lives in France. She always needs a husband. She doesn’t like to be alone.’
She’d wanted a partner—not children. She hadn’t been able to cope with Dan once he’d lost his limbs. Hadn’t been able to cope with the moods and the depression. She’d found another man to whisk her away… put him before anyone else.
‘What about your dad?’
‘He passed away a few years ago,’ she said. ‘Cancer. It was very quick.’
‘So just you and your brother live in Australia now?’
‘And you blog full-time?’
‘I dropped out of university when the blog really took off,’ she said.
But it hadn’t been the blog. It had been after Dan’s illness.
‘What were you studying?’
‘Art history, design—some straight history papers as well.’
‘What were you wanting to do with it?’
‘Teach, I guess…’ She shrugged. ‘Or work in a gallery or something.’
‘But now you teach on your blog?’ he teased.
‘Hardly.’ She rolled her eyes. ‘I just write lists.’
‘You want to travel,’ he said.
He’d seen that? She shrugged, as if it wasn’t really what she’d always wanted to do.
‘You want to go and see paintings… you want to go to Florence and Paris and New York.’
‘Who doesn’t want to go to Florence and Paris and New York?’ She laughed, slipping back into Steffi Leigh. ‘Think of the shops, the fashion—’
‘And the art, the history.’ He waggled a finger at her. ‘You’re not as shopping-shopping-shopping as you pretend.’
‘I don’t pretend.’
‘No,’ he said thoughtfully. ‘But you don’t present all parts of yourself. Not on the blog.’
Of course she didn’t. ‘Some things should always remain private.’
‘A passion for art doesn’t need to remain private.’ He pulled off his tee and tossed it down by the corner of the four-poster daybed. ‘You filter everything you put online.’
‘Perhaps.’ He slowly unbuckled his belt. ‘You should trust yourself—you have more to offer than just lists.’ He shoved his jeans down and kicked them off. ‘You don’t want to go back and finish your degree?’
More than anything. But even more than that she wanted Dan to take up some kind of study—for him to envisage some kind of future beyond just sitting on the sofa. Her brother still had so much to offer the world… he just had to imagine it.
‘Maybe later,’ she breezed, brushing off the query. ‘I don’t have time right now.’