Authors: Iris Blobel
ECHOES OF THE PAST
~Fermosa Bay, Book 1~
ECHOES OF THE PAST
Copyright © 2015 by Iris Blobel.
All rights reserved.
First Print Edition: February 2016
Limitless Publishing, LLC
Kailua, HI 96734
Formatting: Limitless Publishing
No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to locales, events, business establishments, or actual persons—living or dead—is entirely coincidental.
To my friends ~ near and far.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Connor leaned against the window frame with his arms crossed as he watched the waves crashing against the rocks. In front of him, as wide as the horizon, was the ocean. With the clouds drifting in from the sea, the sky had turned grey and dark, and he knew there’d be even more rain coming later in the day.
He would’ve enjoyed the scene if it hadn’t reminded him of his changing life. He’d been back in Fermosa Bay for two days already, but the memories of the first seven years of his life he’d spent in this small Australian coastal town were tucked away in the back of his mind. Seemingly inaccessible. Nowadays, his life was in London and had been for the last twenty-three years. He took a couple of deep breaths as he looked towards the harbour in the distance, and the small town in the alcove with the hilly forest in the background where he’d spend the first seven years of his life. It was truly one very picturesque little place.
A noise from the other end of the house hauled him back from his thoughts, and he stepped away from the window. Over the last few weeks, since he’d decided to accept Jack’s invitation to Australia, he’d had visions of what he’d find here. His mother hadn’t told him much about the time she’d lived here, except about Jack owning a pub. Connor had been furious for her lack of memory, but in the end admitted to himself it’d probably not been a time she’d like to remember.
So he was surprised to find out that Jack lived in this massive house just outside Fermosa Bay, on the top of the cliffs, with a view over the ocean. The house had five rooms and a small study at the back. The lounge room, with a high pitched ceiling, had wood fire heating and a big window front. Connor had loved the house the instant he’d stepped into it.
When he entered the hall, he saw his father and said, “Good morning, Jack.”
The old man sighed sadly. “You still can’t bring it over your heart to call me Dad?”
Connor’s gaze wandered from his father to all the many framed photos along the wall. Jack was in many of the photos, but most them had people in them he didn’t know, except the biggest one, which showed Connor as a child in Jack’s arms. A wave of sadness shook him. No, it wasn’t in him to call him
Or to even think of him as his dad.
After a moment’s silence, he turned to his father and shook his head. “Sorry.”
Jack coughed, and Connor quickly rushed to his side, holding him upright.
“Another bad day?” Connor asked.
“Son, there will be no more good days. One day is like the other, until it will be the last.”
The words struck Connor deep enough to feel some emotions for his father. He knew time was running out, but hearing it made it sound final.
“There’s a front coming, but I think you’d be able to sit outside for a little while. At least until the nurse comes.”
Jack simply nodded.
Connor helped his father out onto the deck where the old man sat down on his swing seat.
Without a reply, Connor stepped away and watched the sea again.
“I couldn’t keep you away from the water when you were a child,” Jack said.
“What do you mean?” Connor asked.
Jack didn’t answer, so he turned around to look at his father. The old man stared into the distance, a withdrawn expression on his face.
“You were constantly in the water. Whatever opportunity you had, you grabbed your little board and spent most of the day there.”
“So what happened?”
His father shrugged. “You left with your mother.”
Sitting down on the chair next to Jack, Connor let out a long breath. “Something must’ve happened. I never go near water, let alone go in it.”
Still gazing into the distance, Jack said, “I still have the blue board. Ethan’s little son sometimes uses it nowadays.”
Not sure where the conversation was heading, Connor just went along. “Who’s Ethan?” he asked.
The reaction from his father wasn’t what he expected. With his shoulders sagged, Jack closed his eyes. He looked so old and frail. From what Connor saw in all the photos around the house, cancer had taken a lot of life out of his father, leaving behind a haggard body with no energy left. Initially, he’d been taken aback by their similarities in looks, with their dark brown eyes and dark blond hair, including the stubborn curl above the ears, but after all, Jack was his father.
“Ethan was your best friend when you lived here.”
Pain shot through Connor as he was again confronted with a piece of information about his past that he knew nothing about. What had happened all those years ago, that his memory blocked these recollections of his childhood?
“How is your mother?” Jack asked suddenly.
Was it a sign of his illness that the old man wasn’t able to hold on to one topic anymore, or was he out to annoy Connor?
“She’s doing well.”
Jack nodded. “She was beautiful when she lived here. So beautiful.”
Leaning forward to rest his arms on his knees, Connor asked, “Why did you ask her to leave?”
Finally, their eyes locked, and his father’s confusion took Connor aback.
“Son, what are you talking about?”
Their conversation was interrupted, though, by the ringing of the doorbell. Connor cursed inwardly, knowing he had to wait for his father’s response that little bit longer. So many questions about his past, a past he knew nothing about. He stepped back into the house and walked to the front door, making a mental note to ask his mother about Ethan. And why the hell did he like surfing as a kid when he wouldn’t go near the water now?
Still in thought, he opened the door and was momentarily taken off-guard by what he saw. In front of him stood a beautiful woman with a smile that had an effect on him right to his toes and back up his legs, pooling heat in his groin.
She held her hand out. “Hi, Connor. You don’t look anything like you did twenty years ago.”
He blinked, slowly taking her hand. “Thanks. And you are?”
“I’m offended,” she said with a laugh. “I’m Emily Bradshaw.” With an exaggerated sigh, she added, “The man who gave me my first kiss can’t remember me.”
As she shook her head, her curly red hair bounced around her face. Her green eyes were gleaming with good humour.
“Sorry, Emily. I’m—” He had no idea what he was. Speechless. Frustrated. Memory gone. Probably all of the above. “I’m still jetlagged. Apologies. Come on in.”
Emily walked past him, down the hall, and towards the stairs.
“Look, Emily. In regards to the,
, the jetlag, want to give me a hint what you’re doing here?”
She smiled and laughed again. “I’m your dad’s nurse.”
Nodding, he said, “Right. That makes sense.” He held her gaze and was absolutely mesmerised by her. It appeared he’d had good taste already as a child. He definitely had to find out about that kiss.
“Right,” he said again. “Jack’s outside on the deck.”
She looked up at him in surprise. The good-humoured face had lost its smile. “Jack?” she asked.
Connor raised an eyebrow. “My dad?”
She gave a slow nod. “Yes, he is,” she replied slowly. “Anyway, the deck’s perfect. He needs a bit of Vitamin D. It’ll do him good.”
Watching her behind, he followed her outside. The storm was closing in, and Emily shaded her eyes with her hand and looked into the distance across the ocean.
“Emily,” Jack said, and Connor could’ve sworn he caught a slight smile on his father’s face.
She turned to him. “How are you, Jack?”
The old man took her hand. “I’ve got Connor here.”
Connor was struck by the intensity of his father’s words.
I’ve got Connor here.
It was the way they were spoken, and the emotions behind them that confused him. Was there a bit of belonging or appreciation? Or did Connor read something into it when there wasn’t anything?
He watched Emily taking off the blanket. She waited patiently as Jack had another bout of coughing fits.
“Jack, did you take your medication this morning?” she asked.
The old man shook his head. “Nah, I’m sick of them. They’re making me drowsy and nauseous.”
“They don’t help,” Jack interrupted. “They delay the obvious. I wanna have a clear mind when I discuss matters with Connor.”
“You shouldn’t skip on the medication,” she persisted. “They help—”
“She’s not only as pretty as her mother, but just as stubborn,” Jack said with a grin.
Connor noticed the old man’s long sigh. It seemed even talking was an effort for him nowadays.
“He’s even taken on the pommy accent. My own son has a pommy accent,” Jack said to Emily as she checked his temperature.
She turned to look at Connor and smiled. “I suppose it’s been a while since you moved to England.”
“He was seven.”
Emily placed her hand on her chest and with exaggeration replied, “Oh, I remember. I was heartbroken for days.”
Connor cocked a brow. “Days?”
She laughed. “That’s when Niall showed me his secret spot at the beach.”
“I can’t believe you don’t remember Niall.”
“He can’t even bloody remember Ethan,” Jack said.
Emily stared at Connor. “You’re kiddin’, right?”
Suddenly the humorous expression on her face changed, but he couldn’t figure out what she was thinking.
She stared at him for a long moment. Although he wasn’t coy when it came to women, it made him uncomfortable, and he turned to look out across the ocean again. There was a big container ship on the horizon, moving along at snail’s pace. Closing his eyes, he once again wondered what had happened. Or why he was here, at the other end of the world, twenty-four flight hours away, about nine time zones ahead of his family back in England.
His father’s and Emily’s voice were distant as Connor tried his hardest to remember anything about this place. Remember somebody called Ethan or Niall.
But he came up with nothing.
Not even the mention of a kiss triggered any memories.
He’d been barely over seven years old when he and his mother had left Australia and made their new home in London. There were vague memories in the back of his mind about the first days in school in London. He’d been the newcomer and learnt quickly to adapt and make new friends. He and his mother had lived with his grandparents until she had found a job and had been able to afford a small apartment.
Squeezing his eyes shut, Connor was desperate for the slightest bit of memory.
But he came up empty.
“Your dad really appreciates that you’ve come here.”
Connor shot around and met Emily’s eyes. He had no idea how to answer that, so he turned back to watch the virga above the sea.
“How long will you stay?”
Letting out a sigh, he contemplated the question.
When he received Jack’s phone call, telling him he was his father, he’d hung up straight away, throwing words at him he’d immediately regretted. Thank God Jack had been persistent and rang again the next day. Consumed with curiosity, he listened for half an hour, making notes. Jack had provided him with all the details, date of birth, name, and even provided him with a copy of his birth certificate and a few photos via email afterwards.
Three hours later, his mother confirmed Jack’s claim to be his father. It’d been a tumultuous few weeks. They’d talked a couple of times on the phone, and finally Jack had told him about his terminal cancer and the real reason for finding him: he had invited him to Fermosa Bay to spend some time with him.
Jane, Connor’s mother, had said no, but something inside him yearned to find out more about his paternal family. At the same time, it scared the hell out of him.
He crossed one foot over the other and spread his arms wide on the railing. “I’ve taken a year off work.” With a shrug, he added, “I suppose a couple of months. See how I go.”
Emily stepped closer and when she placed her hand on his shoulder, an unexpected jolt went through him. “Are you all right?”
Wasn’t that the one million dollar question?
No, he wasn’t. Not even close. A couple of weeks ago, he’d said goodbye to the woman who’d cheated on him and a few days ago he’d said farewell to his mother and Duncan, the man he’d called father for the last twenty years. Embarking on a flight to the other end of the world, Connor had been determined to find out about the first seven years of his life.
With a smile, he replied, “Of course, I am. Just a bit tired.”
When Jack had told Emily a few days earlier that Connor was coming, her whole body had reacted. She’d laughed at herself for still having a crush on him, but even at the tender age of six years, he’d been the love of her life. They’d spent hours at the beach, searching for shells, building sand castles, or swimming in the sea. The famous five of Fermosa Bay, as they were called: Emily, Connor, Ethan, Niall, and Skye.