She dug her phone out of her pocket and took photos while they were stuck, even managing to get her hand and some of her head out the window to try to get a shot of the structure above them.
‘Quin, can I take one of both of us, please?’ She waved the phone in front of him. She wanted to get a shot, no matter how bad, so she’d always remember that he brought her here on her first night in the big smoke.
He finally looked at her, an exasperated grin lurking on his quite delicious lips. She blinked, and looked at his chest instead. Much safer. ‘If you must.’
She turned so she could be nearer to him, flipped the camera and then took a couple of shots. ‘Thanks,’ she murmured as she went back to looking out the window and craning her neck to see more.
‘We’ll be stopped here for a bit. There’s an accident up ahead.’ He waved to his GPS system, which must have real-time information. Another city thing she hadn’t realised. ‘You can probably stick your head out if it makes it easier. Just keep an ear out for motorcyclists who might knock your head off.’ His grin was evil, but she didn’t care because her head was out the window in a flash.
With her phone in front of her face, she snapped as many photos as she could. Mostly of the bridge structure, but she grabbed a few of the traffic and a train on the bridge, and the sun setting down the shining river way off in the distance. There was so much to see, her phone got shoved away while she soaked it all in. A tap on her thigh had her drawing back into the car.
‘Sorry to break the gawking, but the traffic’s on the move.’
Cress grinned as she seated herself properly inside again. ‘Thank you. This has been the best fun. I’ll have to send a few pics back home.’ But they’d wait until her trip across the bridge was over. She wasn’t missing a minute.
Words were hard to come by as she drank it in. She couldn’t see too much of the view of Sydney but she didn’t care. It was the structure that kept her gaze, and she wouldn’t be getting bored of that in a hurry.
Quin’s tapping against the steering wheel made her glance across. ‘You okay?’ ‘Traffic. I hate being at a standstill, or crawling along like this.’ Quin gave her a quick glance. ‘But I know, it’s the best thing ever in your whole life, and if there wasn’t traffic, you’d have missed it all.’
She grinned before chuckling. ‘Took the words right out of my mouth.’ Then she poked his arm. ‘But stop interrupting me. I’m having a moment with the coathanger, and you’re not rating as highly.’
His mutter of, ‘Well, excuse me,’ had her grinning but she didn’t glance back at him, no matter how many fidgets or agitated tics he displayed. She didn’t tune him out, she found that impossible, but she’d spent years perfecting the art of pretending he wasn’t affecting her.
When they got off the bridge, she let out a sigh and twisted around to see it for a last moment. Quin chuckled. ‘No hanky-waving goodbye?’
‘Oh, hush. Just because you don’t have a monument you love.’
They drove in silence for a little bit and then Cress looked at the signs for the suburbs. They didn’t make sense. Her geography of Sydney wasn’t good, but she was sure they were heading the wrong way. ‘Aren’t we meant to be going west, and this is North Sydney?’
Quin flashed her a glance. ‘Yes, Watercress. We can slide up here a bit, then cut across and get home. Don’t worry. I’m not going to get you lost on our first outing.’
She chuckled. ‘Didn’t you say you were lost when we ended up on the bridge?’ The tugging across his forehead and the slight colouring of his neck gave him away. ‘Quinlan Fitzpatrick, you did that just for me.’
He frowned deeper and shuffled in his seat, but didn’t admit to anything.
Not that she needed his admission. ‘If you weren’t driving, I’d throw my arms around you and give you the biggest kiss.’ If only. She’d give him a smacking cheek kiss like she’d give her brothers. Only in her head did it get any better than that. Making sure she slotted him back into the right place in her brain, she added, ‘You’ve just motored up to the number one brother spot.’
Quin’s grin was easy, quick to flash at her, and exceptionally satisfied. ‘Can you text Tris and let him know?’ As her eldest brother, and Quin’s best mate while growing up, Tris and Quin had always kept up a steady rivalry vying for top brother position. After Quin left town, when she was thirteen, Ollie, Damo and Gar tried to push Tris out of top brother at various times. It was a fun bit of sibling rivalry that she’d miss now she was in Sydney without them. But if she could do it via SMS, that would keep them all still in touch.
Cress laughed. ‘I should. I’ll send them all photos.’ She buried her head in the phone and shot a couple of photos to her brothers and Dad. When she was done, the phone went back in her pocket and once again she marvelled at the number of cars, the people, the lights, and all the shops.
The congestion seemed to ease with the traffic flowing more smoothly when Quin said, ‘The Sirens guernsey has the Opera House sails. Did you try to get them to change that?’
Cress sighed dramatically, then shot him a smile. ‘I was shattered they didn’t incorporate the bridge, but sadly, I’m so low down the pecking order, I had no say.’ She waited a beat before she said, ‘I did wonder if I could hang back from signing until they put it on there.’
‘When Tris said you were signed, I kept expecting them to announce they’d been remiss and were now incorporating the bridge into their design.’
‘I figured that sometimes not everything can be perfect.’ She swallowed her chuckles and became a little more serious. ‘I have a shot at my dream. Not everyone gets to do that. I have to just be glad to be playing, and not stress about everything else.’ She took a slow breath. She had to say this before she chickened out. ‘Do you reckon you can remind me of that when I’m freaking out about some little minor thing, probably tomorrow?’
Quin’s chuckle made her sharing worthwhile. ‘I’ll remind you, Watercress. If you need a kick up the bum, I’m the toughest brother you’ve got, so believe me, I’ll give it to you.’ She glanced across as he shot her a wink. All her insides went smooshy.
Everyone in Grong Grong knows Cress Kennedy’s childhood dream is to play Aussie Rules Football, so when the Sydney Sirens sign her in the new Women’s Aussie Rules competition, she heads to the big city to pursue her dream. But no one in Grong Grong knows of Cress’s other dreams: the ones that revolve entirely around Quin Fitzpatrick.
Quin Fitzpatrick left Grong Grong as an eighteen-year-old to play Aussie Rules in Sydney, but after eight years the shine has gone from the lifestyle. When his best friend’s little sister follows in his country-to-city footsteps, he promises to look after her. She can stay with him and he’ll protect her as best he can. Besides, Watercress is the little sister he never had.
But Cress is all grown up now and playing Women’s Aussie Rules, and it’s about time that Quin sees her as a woman too…