For her, Christmas has always been about family, which is why it hurts so much not to have one of her own…
by Jenny Brigalow
The sky was bright with diamante light and a silvery moon. A sly breeze slid through a gap in the warped window frame. A curtain flicked and brushed across Jack’s face. He sat bolt upright in bed, senses on red alert. A cry of dismay slipped through his teeth as blackness spread over the window pane.
Inside his chest, his heart raced like a hot-rod. It was back! His teeth clenched at the sound of the moth’s frantic, desperate tap, tap, tap, tapping. On and on it went as the beast gyrated up and down. He felt as if its wings were in his head brushing across his brain. It drove him mental. Completely crackers. Then his mind conjured up his father’s gun. A flush of relief rippled through him. Of course. He would shoot the shite.
The moth froze. Jack observed it nervously. Was it his imagination or was it bigger? His eyes swept over the thick furry body, the groping, slender feelers and wide wings. The brilliant pink tip of its abdomen scraped over the glass, swollen, glistening and pulsating. Gross. It was bigger; the velvety wings extended past the glass and beat their crazy tattoo on the wooden frames.
And then it was gone.
Jack let out his breath and sagged down onto the bed. His whole body quivered like a spot lit wallaby. Then his spine stiffened as the moonlight blotted out. Like a cannon ball, the moth came back. It hit the window like a missile. The pane cracked.
“Shit!” Jack shot back and slithered over the edge of his bed. For one mad moment he considered waking his dad. But he swallowed the idea like an undissolved aspirin. That would be an embarrassing conversation. “Hey, Dad, will you just come and kill this scary moth for me please?” A man had his pride. No. He’d just have to sort this himself.
Before he lost his nerve he slid out the bedroom door, padded barefoot down the creaking boards and onto the back veranda. There he paused, senses probing the familiar landscape. All seemed quiet. Gum trees slumbered and cast long moon shadows. The only sound was his breath rasping in and out of his lips. A pulse hammered in his neck and Jack slapped a hand over the spot, scared the moth would hear. He nearly pissed himself when a soulful howl slapped the silence. Dingo. He forced his feet down the steps, leapt across the gravel path and flew inside the shed door. Too scared to switch on the light, he fumbled and stumbled until his fingers found the smooth comforting length of the rifle. He lifted it, broke it down, and peered down the sights. Loaded.
Jack stepped back outside and raced down the long length of the house. At the corner he paused, suddenly unsure. Maybe he’d just sneak back in and kip on the sofa. But then his ears caught the familiar sound of wings buffeting his window. Frustration and fury ignited in his belly and he set off with newfound determination. Rifle ready, he moved swiftly, circling around. With luck it’d never see him and he would blast it with both barrels.
And, for one deeply satisfying minute, Jack felt a wave of victory. The moth seemed insensible to all but its own frenzied quest. Smoothly, carefully, he lifted the rifle and took aim. But, as his finger squeezed the trigger, the moth dropped away and took flight. Jack swore violently. He lost sight of it. And then he spotted it silhouetted against the sky. He took off, racing across the garden and the paddock. At the boundary fence he paused. He peered into the forest. It was dark. The moth, if it was there, was hidden. As Jack turned to go, his eye caught a glistening thread of light upon the forest floor. Curious, he wiggled through the sagging strands of barbed wire and crouched down to see. It was a silk road. A long string of caterpillars moved sinuously along the silk strand away into the trees. Without hesitation he followed.
On and on it wondered, through clumps of lantana, down dry creek beds and across dusty dirt roads. A burned out shell of a house loomed like a cluster of broken teeth. The MacDonald’s old place. The old ruin was a long way from home. Maybe he should turn back. It was then that he realised that he no longer had the gun. He continued on. Finally, behind the ruined homestead, the trail ended. Jack looked up at the ghost gum that gleamed softly in the moon light. His eyes roved up its smooth skin and into the gnarled and ancient head, adorned with mistletoe and stag horns. Cicadas strummed a ghostly serenade and the wind whispered secrets into the ears of leaves. He looked down at the forest floor. At his feet the ground dappled. Half hidden in shadow, a shimmering metallic mound hugged the bole of the tree. Jack sucked in a lungful of eucalyptus air and stepped back, sweat bursting from his pores as the mound split apart.
His mouth opened wide as a dark shadow emerged from the cocoon. He waited, taut as high tensile wire. She stretched, and her feelers unfurled. Beneath the dark, downy skin her sinews flexed and rippled. On thin, bony feet she came. Jack could smell her. Like fruit and honey.
Sharp fingers flickered across his chest. Jack held his breath. Shadow fell across his face as her wings unfolded and wrapped him in a velveteen embrace. Jack looked up into eyes that glittered like wet coal. And he waited to see if this was heaven or if it was hell.
by Narrelle Harris
I invented this recipe this year with advice from my vegan niece in part so we could have a new family traditional food together.
- 250g pitted dates
- 1 dessertspoon coconut oil
- ½ cup almond meal (+ ¼ cup extra)
- ½ cup dessicated or shredded coconut
- 2 tablespoons raw cocoa powder (optional)
- Natural crunchy peanut butter, crunchy (should be fairly thin and easily spread)
- 1 punnet raspberries (or blueberries or whatever berry you like)
- Thick coconut cream (thickened, separated cream from an unshaken tin of coconut cream. I used a 200g carton of KanTong coconut cream)
- Blend dates and coconut oil in a blender until it is a thick paste.
- Add ½ cup almond meal and the dessicated/shredded coconut and mix by hand until it forms a dense, sticky dough.
- Roll the dough into small balls in the well of your hand and then flatten the balls into a disk.
- Use the extra ¼ cup of almond meal to coat the case of the disk, so the sticky base won’t stick to the plate. (Makes twenty bases)
- Lay disks out on a plate, almond-meal side down.
- Spread a level teaspoon of natural crunchy peanut butter on top of each disk.
- Add a few berries to the top of each disk.
- Add a dollop of coconut cream on top of the berries.
- Try to stop.
- Eat some more.
- Add 2 tablespoons of raw cocoa powder to the base mixture for that chocolately taste.
- Add goji berries, almond pieces or other dried fruits and nuts to the base for different textures and flavour bombs
- Add more almond meal to get a drier, more biscuity base.
- If the coconut cream is too thin, make it thicker by adding chia seeds to coconut milk/cream and letting it sit for a while until you have a cream topping of the right consistency.
Traditionally, leather is an anniversary gift. One couple is about to take that in a very non-traditional way…
In a waiting room? Got a short commute? Only half an hour before the kids come home? Desperately need an escape but can only hang out in the bathroom for so long?
Short reads. The busy reader’s best friend. And we’ve got a great collection of Australia-set, coastal romances that we think you’ll love. They’re flirty, they’re fun, they’re from superstar author Jenny Schwartz – and they’re available now.
Take some me time – get your romance fix quick. Short reads. They’ll change your world.
Travel coast to coast with five romantic tales from Jenny Schwartz, the master of Coastal Romance, now available as one digital volume.
In Mistaken Engagement, after a disastrous fake engagement, the Australia Day long weekend down at Grace’s family beach house is the perfect time to show everyone that Grace and Saul are friends, with not a broken heart between them. But can a fake engagement become life-changingly real?
In Memories of Love, when her family home burns down, it’s the final heartbreak for Rita Jorden. Her boss, Ivan Novak, steps in, offering her his home and his help. But Ivan has his own demons, and although he’s interested in Rita, there’s darkness in his past that could cause her harm.
In Second Chance Island, Laura Robertson is working at a tropical resort on the Great Barrier Reef, biding her time and nursing her wounds when her ex-lover Phil Cooper arrives on Topaz Island. She’s spent her whole life fighting to save the reef, and her time on Topaz Island fighting for her self-respect. Does she have enough left to fight for a second chance?
In Ice-Breaker, Kiara and Selwyn’s first encounter is dramatic, and their attraction instantaneous. But Kiara has commitments, dreams, and plans – and Selwyn doesn’t fit into any of it. But he’s not willing to give up on the chance at love, so he plans a second encounter just as dramatic. Maybe all they need for a chance at real love is a break from real life.
In No Rescue, after a tragic incident, Miri Blair has escaped to Sydney, and the anonymity of a friend’s apartment. Then, one day, she finds herself acting out a Romeo-and-Juliet balcony style scene with Sergeant Tad Robertson of the Water Police, who dares her to risk living again. Will she have the strength to move away from her past and towards a future with Tad?
New in the fresh, sexy world of The Seek: he can’t trust anyone, so why should he trust his heart?
Released today: come and get ’em!
The second saga in Scarlett Dawn’s bestselling, groundbreaking Forever Evermore series begins with Chosen Thief, where the life of a skilled lawbreaker becomes much more than she ever wanted…
and in case you missed it, the second-last housewife:
A dreamy earth-child, this housewife believes she can change the world through love and compassion (and that dragons still exist). She is serene and self-assured, but sometimes lacks in confidence. Underneath the sweet girl demeanor is a naughty girl who is just waiting to escape.
The Housewives Lounge – excerpts, behind the scenes details, chatter.
Which Housewife Are You? – take the quiz and find out!
Secret Confessions: Sydney Housewives – meet the other housewives, pre-order, links.
And don’t miss out on the amazing competition AusRomToday is running – five copies of each Housewife Title to win, and a fantastic, Sydney-focused major prize!
Looking for a little art-imitates-life action this weekend? We have two Valentine’s day short reads that are sure to put you in the mood for love! Take an hour to love yourself this weekend, and enjoy some happy-ever-after.
Brent had his chance to be Valentine’s date and he blew it. But loving his best friend’s little sister from afar isn’t working. When she calls him in tears Brent’s only choice is to come to her rescue. And now that he’s got her safe in his arms he’s going to make sure she stays there.
It doesn’t matter how much Vee tries to convince herself her feelings for Brent were destroyed years ago. He is still the first person she calls when she needs help. Breaking down in his arms wasn’t part of the plan. Neither was kissing him.
Forced to face their past, Brent and Vee must forgive each other – and themselves – if there’s any hope for the love still burning between them.
Soft-hearted Reese Ahearn is single for Valentine’s Day. Again. But that’s not going to stop her from spreading the holiday’s sentiment on the streets of Melbourne with short, sweet, anonymous love letters, left for strangers to find.
The last thing she expects, however, is a reply…
This housewife is bright, intelligent and loves her family, but she’s also sensitive and prone to worry. What she lacks in confidence however is made up in her artistic flair, charm and hidden sensuality. She is dedicated to her man and there is nothing she won’t try to keep the fire in her relationship burning.