Episode Sixty

Avoid Spoilers! Read from Episode One


“I can’t be trusted with a baby,” Valerie Pickering cries.

Joanne Evans is startled awake by the screams of the woman in the room next to her. She pulls herself out of bed and steps into the darkness towards her aunt’s bedroom.

“Aunty Val,” Joanne whispers into the room. “Are you okay?”

“Joanne, honey,” Valerie cries. “I can’t be trusted with a baby.”

Joanne switches on the bedside table and lays down on the bed next to her aunt, putting her hands around her for comfort. “It’s okay, Aunty Val,” Joanne says. “It’s going to be okay.”

Joanne wonders when the side effects of the pain medication that her aunt is taking will end. She has seen her aunt struggle with hallucinations and paranoia ever since she had her operation to remove her kidneys.

“You don’t understand, Jo,” Valerie says, seriously. “Don’t give me your baby.”

“It’s okay, Aunty Val,” Joanne tries to hush her aunt. She is worried that the loud noise will wake her son, Ricky.

“I couldn’t look after my own baby,” Valerie continues.

“Your own baby?” Joanne asks. “You never had a baby, Aunty Val.”

“I couldn’t look after my own baby,” Valerie repeats.

Soon, Valerie falls back asleep. Joanne carefully gets up from the bed and turns off the lamp. She makes her way slowly through the darkness in the direction of her own bed. As she reaches the doorway to Valerie’s room, the room is suddenly filled with light.

Joanne looks around to see that her aunt has switched on the lamp.

“Don’t let me look after your baby, Joanne,” Valerie repeats. “I couldn’t look after my own son.”

“Your son?”

“I tried to get him back, Jo, I really did try.”

“What are you talking about Aunty Val?”

“My son. I tried, but I was a bad mother. Michael Anders has a bad mother.”

He throws a suitcase into the back of his car. On top of it, he throws in a pillow and sleeping bag.

“Where are you going?” Joanne asks.

“I need to go find her,” Sergeant Michael Anders says.

“She left with her family, Michael,” Joanne explains. “I think you need to let her go.”

“It doesn’t make sense,” Sergeant Anders says. “None of it makes any sense at all. Why wouldn’t she have told me?”

“Some people do some really strange things – trust me.”

“Besides, she left me this note.” Sergeant Anders reaches into his pocket and pulls out the piece of paper that his lover, Amber Harp, had left him.

It’s all a lie. I’m in grave danger. Please come find me,” Joanne reads the letter out loud. “What do you think it means?”

“I don’t know, but I have a feeling she’s in trouble.”

“Why did she leave then?” Joanne tries to make sense of the situation.

“I don’t know, Joanne,” Michael says, frustrated. “I don’t know, but maybe she does need my help.”

“Where do you even start looking?”

“I’m going to start at her place in Holgate. I’ll go check it out and see if anyone’s been there.” Sergeant Anders closes the boot of the car and walks around to open the driver’s side door.

“I wanted to ask you…” Joanne starts, but stops herself.

“What is it?”

“I wanted to ask you about your parents.” Joanne can’t help herself.

“Strange question,” Sergeant Anders says, looking at Joanne, perplexed.

“I know, sorry, it’s just that…do you talk to them?”

“Joanne, I was in foster care my whole childhood. I never had parents.”

“Oh,” Joanne is thrown. “You never met them?”

“No, Joanne,” Sergeant Anders huffs. “Where is this going?”

“Oh, it’s nothing,” Joanne suddenly says. She realises that it is not the time to tell him of her discovery. “I was just interested, that’s all.”

“Take care of yourself and Ricky, Joanne,” Sergeant Anders says, sitting in the driver’s seat.

“Please stay safe,” Joanne offers her friend as he starts the car.

“I’ll be fine, Joanne,” Sergeant Anders says. “I’m leaving Kyle Cook in charge of the police station while I’m away, so you’ll be safe until I return.”

Joanne smiles hesitantly at him.

With that, Sergeant Michael Anders heads off and begins his mission to find his lover.

“Over here,” Leading Senior Constable Kyle Cook motions. Joanne Evans walks up to the top of the cliff and looks down at the spread in front of her.

Kyle Cook is seated on a picnic rug located at the top of the cliff. On the rug she can see an array of food, plates and cutlery. Kyle points to the view of the small town below them. “Isn’t it beautiful?”

The sun, Joanne can see, is beginning to set over the trees in the distance. The sky is a bright pink colour. “Gorgeous,” she replies.

Kyle hands Joanne a glass of freshly poured champagne and she takes a seat on the picnic rug.

“Cheers,” Kyle taps Joanne’s glass. “To us.”

“To us,” Joanne repeats before taking a sip. “This is delicious.”

“Only the best for you, my love.”

Kyle notices that the sunlight is fading, so he lights a few candles.

“It’s been eighteen months, you know,” Kyle remarks.

“I’m sorry?”

“Eighteen months, Joanne, since we’ve been together.”

“Oh, yes,” Joanne acknowledges. “How could I forget?”

“What’s wrong?” Kyle reaches up and touches her face.

“Nothing,” Joanne lies.

Joanne can’t help but think about her late husband, Richard. He had been killed by Thomas Helling just over eighteen months ago. She couldn’t forget. She had been keeping a secret from Kyle, too. Her son, Ricky, was fathered by Richard, not Kyle, as she had lead him to believe. How she longed for Richard again.

She sighs heavily. She had been through so much.

She had been attacked by Thomas Helling.

Her husband had been murdered.

She had been kidnapped by The Poetry Predator.

She had hallucinations of The Woman in Red.

The real identity of her parents were revealed.

She had almost been killed in an explosion that destroyed her Aunt’s business.

She had lost one of her children.

She had almost lost her mind.

Joanne Evans wants life to be normal. She wants to love Kyle Cook. She wants things to be normal with him so that she can move on with the rest of her life. With Kyle. With her son, Ricky.

“I love you, Joanne,” Kyle says, taking a sip of champagne.

Joanne does the same and this time notices something in her glass. She squints beyond the bubbles and notices something gold on the inside. A ring.

“What…?” Joanne is unsure.

“Marry me, Joanne,” Kyle says to Joanne.

He takes her hand and squeezes it gently. “Kyle, I don’t know what to say…” Joanne stutters.

“Just say yes, Joanne,” Kyle says to her. “Make me a happy man and say yes.”

Final Episode – Thursday October 20

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