Synopsis: "Her Galahad"
by Melissa James
Jirrah McLaren has been declared dead - twice. He no longer legally exists. He did time for a crime he didnt commit, and his marriage was wiped from all records. His daughter is adopted out and he cant find her, because hes the FATHER UNKNOWN. For this nowhere man, getting his room trashed and his car bombed signals a time for vengeance. Though he believes she betrayed him for the sake of wealth and a handsome face, he finds his wife of one day - to help him escape from obsessed maniac Cameron Beller.
But Tessa Honeycutt isnt a rich mans wife, nor a leader of Sydneys elite, as he expected. A teacher at the tiny Outback town of Lynch Hill, she starts at the sound of a car and melts into shadows when men come near her. Tessas a woman on the run even bitter and angry, Jirrah can see that.
Blackmailed into marriage to a violent, obsessed man only weeks after Jirrahs death, Tessas lost her faith in men. Shes lost her only child, was tricked into committing bigamy and has been robbed of her dead mothers Native Canadian heritage. Labelled suicidal by her father and brother, she spent months in psychiatric hospital before her life on the run. Tessa no longer knows how to separate truth from lies, care from control, love from obsession. All she knows is she never wants to go back.
Yet she must go back to Sydney, to face her family and even Cameron Beller, the husband whose warped love includes stalking and terrorizing her. When Jirrah shows up at her door covered in blood, stating Camerons after them both, shes in shock. Jirrah is alive? Then she discovers her daughter Emilys also alive! Her father drugged her and tricked her into signing adoption papers. Her family had Jirrah imprisoned on false charges, declared dead, and still persecutes him now all to keep Tessa from discovering the stunning truth: her husband and daughter are alive!
So Tessa leaves the shadows and walks in the light of day, knowing that with every step she takes shes in danger. To find justice, she must face her family with the lies theyve told her all her life. She must help Jirrah find evidence of her familys guilt in his imprisonment and use that evidence to hold over them so they can find Emily. And she has to know if they orchestrated this whole campaign against Jirrah from plain, ugly racism the fact that hes Aboriginal or if a deeper reason lies beneath.
And its a race against the clock - for Cameron will kill them both rather than lose his wealth, status and the woman he loves.
This journey becomes much more than a time of vengeance and justice for both Tess and Jirrah, as they face their ghosts and fears. They overcome distrust, anger and abuse to find reluctant healing in each other. Healing with words, with their bodies; and passion rekindles to burning flame. Jirrah knows hes falling for Tess again, and falling hard; but lovers for a week is all shell offer him. She wont even tell him why, even after he sheds his darkest secret: his part in the death of the woman who loved him and bore his son. In a week shell be gone, and Jirrah will have only the memory of his mulgu, the black-haired wild swan who haunts his soul, allowing no room for another woman in his heart.
Yet her dark knight will protect his lady with his life: after car bombings and house fires, Cameron chasing them in rocky forests and when she faces her inner demons. He stands with her as she faces her family. Hes with her as she hears that her mothers alive, living in Canada and that her father Keith and brother Duncan used every legal avenue to keep Rachel out of her life. Jirrah gives her caring without demand, the respect to face her demons and grow as a woman and a passion that is as addictive as it is terrifying, for how can she live without him when he leaves her? and he will, when he finds out her deepest secret.
Finally they find their child. Tani is an orphan, living with her grandparents: a bright, beautiful child who wants a white picket fence family, a mummy and daddy who are married and love each other forever. Tessa tells her love isnt always enough, and Tani runs out. Tessa runs after her daughter, and finds her in the arms of Cameron Beller - and he has a gun aimed at Tani.
Facing Beller, fighting for their lives, Jirrah utters the words to unlock Tessas shielded heart: he loves Tessa as she is, even letting her go if she needs to fly. After he overcomes Beller Tessa tells him her secret: she probably cant carry another baby to term.
The one thing Jirrahs always wanted - six or seven kids.
Then he remembers his lovers pain because she was having his child but he didnt love her, an agony still in her eyes as she lay dying on a Sydney street. Then, after imagining the rest of his life without Tessa, he says two children are enough. That his son, Kalkara (storm bird), didnt die with Belinda. He tells her two children with her is better than a dozen with another woman, because hell never love any woman but her, his wild swan. He suggests to Tanis grandparents that they all live together in Lynch Hill as one family, for Tanis sake; and Tessa, after a lifetime alone, finally finds the family shes always wanted.
Thanks to her dark knight, her own personal Galahad.
Five years later, they all live together. Keith has become friends with Jirrah, though Duncan has not. Tessas pregnant, though due to complications shell never have another baby. Shes met her mother Rachel in Canada, and has learned her Canadian heritage. Cameron dies in prison, leaving Tessa seven million dollars and a Sydney mansion. Not wanting anything of his, she turns the house into a womens shelter and gives the money to a legal fund, to represent people in need. Jirrah wins an award for a wildlife carving, and they celebrate. They make love, and she teases him about being her Galahad, her knight in dark armour - still, and always, her hero.