Finding Hannah by Fiona McCallum

Chapter One

 

Hannah stirred and rolled over to face her husband. She returned his beaming smile and snuggled up against him as he held his arms out wide, then hugged her tight.

‘Merry Christmas, darling wife,’ Tristan said, kissing Hannah on the top of her head.

‘Merry Christmas, darling husband,’ she said, kissing his chest. Her heart glowed. She loved Christmas, just loved it! Always had.

The Whites had never been keen on spending huge amounts on presents, nor the religious side of it, but they had put on a big feast every year and opened up their house and welcomed everyone who didn’t have family or anywhere else to go on Christmas Day. It was always a wonderfully joyful and raucous affair, even with the majority of guests being around Hannah’s parents’ age. Sadly some were no longer with them – like dear old Pat who was appar­ently a teetotaller on every day except Christmas, and tended to get mischievous after just a few sips of champagne. Hannah and Tristan still laughed at the shock he’d got the first year when the old lady had caressed his bottom while he carried a tray of drinks.

Tristan and Hannah had only been going out for a few months and Hannah had been afraid he’d be frightened off. Instead, he’d put down the tray and drawn Pat into a haphazard waltz, and had instantly become a firm favourite with all. One of the things Hannah loved about Tristan from the get go was his ability to think quickly on his feet. No doubt that was one of the reasons he’d progressed so quickly up the career ladder. She figured the extra six years of life experience he had on her helped too. And his charm and broad, disarming smile and the twinkle in his big brown eyes.

Giving up the all-day, open-house Christmas extravaganza the Whites were well-known for had been one of the biggest things that had bothered Daphne and Daniel about downsiz­ing and moving into the retirement village. But for the past five years Hannah and Tristan had more than capably kept up the tradition, with Hannah’s parents always declaring each year’s celebrations were better than the last. Not that they would say anything else.

Hannah was lucky. In her view, she had the best parents in the world. They were generous with praise, encouragement and their love, were never controlling, and only gave opinions when asked. She knew how fortunate she was. So many of her friends had mother issues or father issues. Sometimes she even felt a little guilty when her friends quizzed her in tones of disbelief – did she really get on so well with her parents? ‘Yep, afraid so,’ she’d say with a laugh.

Hannah felt comforted by knowing that whatever happened she could talk to her parents and they would help her to put every­thing into perspective and sort through any problems. Not that much had ever gone wrong so far in Hannah’s thirty-one years of life, except the common angst that came with teenage hormones and discovering that boys and girls really were very different. But both parents had equally helped steer her through, and after a few bruises to her heart she’d found Tristan.

Dear sweet Tris, who was kind and gentle and encouraging and strong and capable – all the best qualities of her parents rolled into one. Except Hannah thought he was a little obsessed with playing golf and computer games. Both complete time wasters in her opinion. But at least when he was out on a Saturday she could do things around the house in peace or go shopping with friends. She understood how important networking on the golf course was in the business world. And if pretending to be some kind of fictitious character and shoot or hide from aliens in some pretend, online world was how Tristan unwound after a long day, then who was she to argue? He worked hard and was doing well in his career. So, each to their own, she told herself regularly – to the point that it was almost a mantra. Though she didn’t like that sometimes she was forced into the role of nagging wife in order to get him to help her with something or other.

The only other major criticism she had of Tristan was that he initially really wasn’t much into Christmas. But she’d managed to change that. When they met, Hannah knew that Tristan had thought she was nuts loving Christmas so much. Thankfully he was now almost as nutty about it all as she was.

Hannah still sometimes found herself mentally shaking her head at their first discussion about Christmas. They were out for a casual cafe meal and she’d been completely stunned – rendered speechless several times.

‘So, what does your family do for Christmas?’ she’d asked.

‘Nothing really.’

‘Don’t be silly. Nobody does nothing for Christmas!’ she’d cried.

‘We don’t. Not anymore,’ he’d said with a shrug.

‘But you at least put up a Christmas tree and exchange presents, right?’

‘I don’t even know if Mum still has any decorations. I can’t remember the last time I saw a Christmas tree up at the farm.’

Hannah had stared open mouthed. No way!

‘So you used to celebrate, then?’

‘Of course.’

Hannah had let out a slight sigh of relief. There was hope for him yet.

‘I guess Mum and Dad didn’t think there was much to cele­brate after Scott died,’ he’d added with another nonchalant shrug.

‘Scott who?’

‘My brother. He was fifteen – two years older than me. He got drunk, took the family car and crashed it.’

‘Oh god. I’m so sorry.’

‘Thanks.’

‘How come he knew how to drive at fifteen?’ Hannah said, frowning.

‘Oh, we were both driving from the age of eight – it’s normal when you grow up on a farm.’

‘You poor thing. How awful. And your parents, how sad for them.’

‘Thanks, but it was ages ago. Luckily no one else was involved. It certainly put me off drink driving, I can tell you. But please don’t mention it to Mum and Dad when you get around to meeting them. They blame themselves.’

‘Right. Okay.’ The last thing Hannah wanted was to upset anyone.

‘Anyway, I guess that was the end of Christmas as I knew it. Not that it was a really big deal in our house before then, anyway. Well, not that I remember.’

With wide eyes Hannah had watched him take a sip of beer. She could tell that Tristan found it hard – almost impossible – to talk about his brother, even though he tried to sound as if he’d got over the accident.

‘So, for Christmas Day,’ Tristan began, changing the subject, ‘do your parents prefer white or red wine – or should I take one of each?’ She was still too stunned to speak.

‘Hannah?’

‘Sorry? What?’

‘What wine should I take on Christmas Day?’

‘Oh. Bring both. Dad will want you to have any bottles we don’t open.’

In the years since, she’d learnt that when a member of the Ainsley family didn’t want to discuss something there was no making them. Tristan had inherited a clever ability to carefully deflect a conversation without appearing rude or even particularly defensive. The few times she’d tried to discuss Scott’s death Tristan had answered politely then carefully shut down the conversation.

‘Yes, we were close and we got on well. Of course I miss him. But there’s no point dwelling and being morbid about it. He made a stupid decision and now he’s not here. End of story. There’s really nothing more to tell, Hann. Honest. I’m fine about it. Really.’ He’d sealed the conversation with a kiss and Hannah was left feeling sad, right to the pit of her stomach – as much so in empathy for his loss, but also for his burden in holding it all inside. She couldn’t help feeling that if he really was okay with it then he’d be able to talk about his brother, sharing happy memories of him, laughing about their little boy antics. But she also knew that not talking about it, closing the door on it, was another way of dealing with something. If that was Tristan’s way – and it clearly was – then it was not for her to judge. She was only a bystander to his grief – which she hadn’t even realised until then he was carrying – and not actually living it. She might do it all differ­ently in his shoes, but then again, she might not. But what she did know was that she’d be there if at some point he did want to open up to her or if it did all catch up with him and he fell apart. Hannah was also left to silently wonder if the Ainsley family had really never been much into celebrating Christmas or if they had been and stopped the year of Scott’s death. She just couldn’t get her head around Christmas not being a huge deal – for anyone.

These days, since retiring, Tristan’s parents were rarely home for Christmas, anyway. In fact, they were away more often than they were at their Adelaide property.

They were currently making their way around Australia in their caravan – right now they were in Tasmania. Perhaps they did celebrate in their own way. She liked to think so. But it didn’t matter, Tristan had been welcomed into Hannah’s family as the son Daphne and Daniel had longed for but never been blessed with. And he had fully embraced the Christmas spirit. While Hannah was grateful, she sometimes felt a little guilty that it meant she got Tristan to herself every year rather than doing miles to visit with both families or having to miss out on spending time with her own parents due to distance, like some of her friends did.

Ah, Christmas, Hannah thought, enjoying the feel of Tristan’s strong arms around her and the smell of him. Even though she loved Christmas Day and all it entailed, Hannah also loved these precious moments of just being before they got up and set every­thing in motion.

‘Well, no rest for the wicked, it’s Christmas!’ Hannah said, giving her husband another kiss, and then a gentle, good-natured shove.

She leaned over to where the phone handset sat on its charger on the small bedside table.

‘Happy Christmas!’ she bellowed as soon as the call was answered.

‘And a happy Christmas to you.’ It was her mum, Daphne. ‘Dad’s here. I’ll put him on then we can have a longer chat.’

‘Good morning, darling heart. Merry Christmas.’

‘Hi, Dad, and a merry Christmas to you. Can’t wait to see you.’

‘What time will Tris be here?’

‘No changes. Eight-fifty, on the dot.’

‘Great. Well, we’ll see you soon. I’ll put your mother back on. No doubt you have things to discuss.’

‘Okay. Catch ya later.’

‘Now darling, should I pop in a few extra oven mitts too?’ Daphne White said.

‘No, I have plenty here, Mum.’ As always.

‘What about the vegetable peeler. You have one of the special ones, don’t you? You know my fingers don’t work like they used to.’

‘Yes. I know, Mum. I have two of the peelers – remember, you gave them to me.’

‘I wouldn’t remember my head if it wasn’t screwed on these days, dear. Anyway, that’s good. Peelers. And what about tea towels?’ Hannah heard what sounded like a pen scratching paper – Daphne ticking items off on a list – and smiled. As much as the Whites loved Christmas, they loved lists – making them and following them, Daniel not quite to the same extent as the women.

‘Good idea. Thanks, Mum. We can never have enough tea towels. And did you remember to get out a couple of aprons?’

‘I did. They’re right here. Oh, I know! What about sheer covers – it’s going to be warm so the flies will be out and driving us madder than usual.’

‘I’ve got yours already, remember? Everything is under control, Mum. We went through the lists together last week. It will all be fine and you don’t need to worry about a thing.’ As her mum grew older, the more long-winded and frustrating these conversa­tions became. But Hannah didn’t mind. She loved her mother and found her growing frailty and recently acquired slight ditziness quite sweet and endearing.

‘I know, dear, sorry, I don’t mean to sound like I don’t think you can cope, I just …’

‘You just like to help. I know. And just having you here to peel all the veggies and be my slave will help heaps.’

‘Yes, well, you just sit me at the bench and I won’t be any trouble at all.’

‘You’re never any trouble, Mum.’

‘I’d like to at least feel useful and helpful.’

‘You’re very useful and helpful, Mum. And you always will be.’

‘Well I would be if it weren’t for this damned arthritis and forgetfulness. You know, last night I put your father’s coffee in the fridge instead of the microwave. Dear, oh dear, some days I’m as silly as a wheel.’

‘I’m sure you were just distracted for a moment. Anyway, Mum, we’ll have nothing less than happy – it’s Christmas.’

‘Yes, golly, listen to me feeling all sorry for myself. I’m just being a nincompoop. So, that’s all, then?’

‘And the presents.’

‘Don’t worry, they’re in a box beside the front door all ready to go. We can’t leave the house without tripping over them.’

‘Good one, Mum. I’ll see you soon. Get ready to cook up a storm.’

‘Right you are. Ready and willing.’

‘Brilliant. See you soon. Love you.’

‘Love you too. Bye for now.’

‘How are they? All ready to go?’ Tristan asked, as Hannah wandered into the kitchen.

‘Yes. They’re well. Looking forward to the day. Did you call your parents?’

‘I did.’

‘How are they?’

‘Good. They send their love.’

Tristan made coffee while Hannah sat at the bench and read through her extensive to-do list, that was timed to the quarter hour and which she’d almost completely memorised. All Tristan had to do now that he had phoned his parents, was to collect her parents twenty minutes’ drive away.

Then, when they arrived, Tristan and her father would sit and chew the fat whilst eating their way through the nibbles Hannah had put out for them, and she and Daphne would retreat to the kitchen to get the cooking underway.

After Daphne and Hannah had done the vegetables and organ­ised the meal so it could be left to cook largely unattended for an hour or so, Tristan and her parents would sit around the tree with Hannah on her knees beside it handing out presents. They did it early, before anyone outside the family arrived. There had always been an unwritten convention about three presents being exchanged – nothing too expensive, but three gifts. Daniel, who hated shopping, regularly separated one present into three in order to make his quota. The year Hannah was twelve she’d received a remote-control car, batteries and the remote – all wrapped sepa­rately. She loved surprises and unwrapping a remote-control car sure had been a surprise!

‘Right, so it’s true, you really wanted a son,’ Hannah had ribbed.

‘No dear, he just wants someone to race with,’ Daphne had said.

‘Guilty as charged!’ Daniel had grinned as he’d proceeded to unwrap a present from his wife – his own remote-control car.

Father and daughter had had a ball racing each other on the concrete paths around the house for the next few months. Hannah loved that she had so many fond memories. She really had enjoyed a happy childhood and blessed life.

‘How’s it all looking? Anything you need me to get?’ Tristan asked as he picked up the car keys.

‘No, thanks, I think we’re good.’

‘Well, if you change your mind …’

‘Yes, I know, there’s always the Chans.’

This was another ritual – Hannah was meticulous in her planning and rarely forgot anything. She would start buying supplies weeks out from Christmas and only left the perishables until last thing – like a squirrel gathering its nuts and preparing for the winter. It was all part of the fun for her. She couldn’t under­stand anyone who moaned that Christmas was stressful. As far as she was concerned, with a bit – or a lot – of planning, it didn’t need to be.

The Whites hadn’t joined the seafood craze so thankfully she didn’t have to be out queuing early at the fish markets. No matter the weather, they always had the full cooked shebang – stuffed roast turkey and a leg of lamb, mountains of roast vegetables. Their cool offering was a leg of ham, which Hannah – and her mother before her – prepared on Christmas Eve.

Everything was closed on Christmas Day, anyway. Well, every­thing except the little corner shop at the end of their road run by the Chan family. Hannah wasn’t sure what religion they were or if they were just industrious and clever enough to cash in on the frenzy that was Christmas Day.

‘Good on them,’ Tristan had declared the first year he’d driven past and seen the queue outside the shop. ‘Successful business is all about demand and supply – supplying a demand.’

‘Okay, so how long do you think the line-up to buy forgot­ten batteries and last-minute vegetables will be this year?’ Tristan asked with a cheeky grin. After her parents arrived they would discuss the size of the crowd waiting for the Chans’ store to open at nine forty-five. They had even started taking bets on the length of the queue, which had been known to stretch right around the corner.

‘Just to the corner – no further,’ Hannah said. ‘Surely people will have learnt by now.’

‘Come on, no one will ever be as organised as you, my darling,’ he said. ‘Look, we even have a list of the lists we have,’ he said, picking up a piece of paper.

‘Cheeky devil,’ she said, dragging a tea towel from the bench and throwing it at him. ‘Be grateful, mister.’

‘I am. And I wouldn’t have you any other way, my love,’ he said, wrapping his arms around her and planting a kiss on her neck before nuzzling it. ‘I love your list-making obsession.’

‘Just as well. And there’s nothing wrong with being organised. Anyway, it’s not my fault – it’s in my genes. Blame my mother,’ Hannah said, pouting.

‘Oh no, she has my eternal gratitude,’ he said with a theatrical wave of the tea towel in his hand.

‘As it should be,’ Hannah said, catching the tea towel and putting it back on the bench.

‘Okay, so is that your final bet? I’m writing it down,’ he said, going to the fridge and holding up the whiteboard marker. ‘Last chance.’

‘Yep, to the corner. So, what say you, smarty pants?’

‘To the post box.’

‘Ooh, we have a bold prediction from Mr Ainsley this year,’ Hannah said, picking up a serving spoon and using it as a pretend microphone. ‘No worries, that’ll just be another ten bucks you’ll owe me.’

‘I wouldn’t be too quick to call it, Mrs Ainsley.’

‘Well, we shall see, Mr Ainsley.’

‘Yes, we shall!’

‘Okay, I’d better be off. See you in a bit,’ Tristan said, kissing Hannah.

‘Drive carefully.’

‘Always. You be careful with the knives. And no peeking at the presents,’ he said, grinning.

***

As she carried sprigs of rosemary for flavouring the leg of lamb in from the garden, Hannah glanced at the Weber kettle with its lid off and loaded up with heat beads all ready to be lit to cook the Christmas lunch. Where was Tristan? He needed to light it. She shook her annoyance aside. He’d be here. Tris was nothing if not reliable. Though, he did have her parents to contend with.

No doubt Daphne had put the house keys somewhere and forgotten where or lost her lipstick, or something. Hannah checked her watch, compared it to the schedule, grabbed the extra-long matches from the bench top and raced back outside to light the kettle.

Back inside, she sat for a moment at the bench to double-check her list. She frowned and tapped her fingers on the bench. They were meant to be opening presents by now. She thought about phoning Tristan, but then remembered she’d seen his phone beside the fruit basket earlier. She frowned. So much for being able to phone him to get something from the Chans’. Should she phone her parents? No, they’d be along any minute. They’ve just got caught up in the Christmas festivities, she told herself. Anyway, both her parents’ mobiles usually lived in the bottom of her mother’s handbag and were rarely heard. And, if they were, it’s unlikely her mother would pick one up in time.

Hannah found herself becoming tense at the thought that just being half an hour late would put her carefully planned schedule out completely. Oh well, in the scheme of things, no one would die if the meal was dished up at one o’clock and not twelve-thirty and people turned up while the lounge room floor was still strewn with discarded wrapping paper and ribbon, she decided. It wouldn’t be ideal, but it wouldn’t be the end of the world, either. She tried to relax but the feeling that something was wrong, something more than her precious schedule being disrupted, was creeping into her mind.

In an effort to keep herself busy and the unease at bay, Hannah took the vegetables out of the fridge. She missed her mother’s chatter beside her. The house felt strangely empty and echoing, even with the Christmas carols playing in the background.

Finishing the vegetables, she was shocked to find Tristan and her parents were now almost an hour late. Shit, she’d better get the meat on.

She shifted between worry and annoyance at struggling to hold the large, heavy tray whilst getting the meat safely onto the racks above the white ash-covered coals.

There had been a spate of burst water mains across some nearby suburbs recently. Perhaps that was the hold up. She hoped they weren’t stuck on a road the other side of a major incident, though a burst water main or malfunctioning traffic lights were more preferable to think about than the obvious …

Hopefully her best friend Sam would be here soon with her husband Rob and boisterous four-year-old boys Oliver and Ethan. The distraction would be good and depending on what mood the kids were in the three adults might even get to relax over a glass of bubbly. Better yet, Tristan and her parents would come bursting in, her father making his usual ‘dad joke’ about it being a ‘White Christmas’ despite it being the middle of summer. And then, after they’d all stopped groaning and rolling their eyes at him they’d explain about whatever had held them up whilst apologising profusely – her mother giggling from a bit too much egg nog. Hannah smiled. She really was very lucky to have family and friends she adored so much.

Samantha had been Hannah’s best friend since they’d met on their first day at university, standing in the quadrangle turning their maps around trying to figure out where their first classes were on the huge campus. Sam was also an only child, but one who had serious mother issues. Thank goodness Sam had such a lovely, supportive husband in Rob – who also happened to have become one of Tristan’s best friends. The two men hadn’t really had much of a choice when Sam and Hannah spent so much time together.

A sense of relief washed over Hannah as a triple honk of a car horn sounded. She rushed to see if it was Tristan and her parents or Sam and Rob and the boys. She tried to keep the disappoint­ment and concern at bay upon seeing Sam and Rob’s red wagon at the kerb. Hannah raced outside and across the lawn to meet them.

‘Merry Christmas!’ they all shouted. The twins, dressed in Superman outfits, tumbled out and began racing around the lawn with their arms spread out. It was hard to tell if they were pretend­ing to fly or chasing each other.

‘Boys! Stop! You need to take that noise out into the back garden. If it’s okay with Auntie Hannah.’

‘Off you go,’ Hannah said.

‘Quietly through the house,’ Rob called after them as they took off up the steps towards the front door.

‘Give me strength,’ Sam said, handing Hannah a large fruit and cheese platter before stepping out of the car. ‘Sorry, the boys are a little ratty this morning. They stripped the tree of candy canes,’ she added as they made their way inside. ‘I thought I’d managed to put them up high enough, but apparently not. I’m about ready to give them away if you’re interested,’ she said wearily.

‘Not exactly a great sales job there, Sammy. So, thanks, but no thanks,’ Hannah said with a laugh.

She liked kids, especially Oliver and Ethan. They were dear, sweet, well-brought-up little boys, if a bit rowdy at times. She wanted kids – she and Tristan were trying, well, not seri­ously trying; they’d simply stopped taking precautions to not get pregnant. Hannah loved the idea of being a parent, having someone else to love, a small person to raise, but she also quite liked the freedom of not having that responsibility yet. She saw far too often how frazzled Sam and Rob were.

At first she’d thought Sam being laid back about cleaning and domestic matters generally would have helped, but later she wondered whether being ordered and organised might hold the key. On one hand she was keen to put it to the test – not to compete with Sam and prove a point – but on the other she was terrified of parenting bringing her undone, not to mention changing her and Tristan’s relationship.

It was clear from watching Sam and Rob that despite them still being clearly devoted to each other, the twins required – and received – the most attention.

‘I’ll just go and check on the boys. I can’t hear them – and that’s never a good sign,’ Rob said after dumping an esky in the kitchen.

‘That’s the trouble,’ Sam said. ‘You finally get some peace, but then you have to go check and disturb them because, as Rob said, silence is never a good sign. Oh, I tell you …’

‘And you wouldn’t change it for the world,’ Hannah said.

‘No, I probably wouldn’t. They are dear little things most of the time,’ Sam said, smiling. ‘Now, enough about me,’ she said, suddenly serious. ‘What’s going on with you? Where’s your cheer and sparkle on this fine Christmas morning? A White Christmas, no less!’

‘Oh, ha-ha,’ Hannah said, rolling her eyes at the tired old joke, but smiling despite herself.

‘So, why so glum?’ Sam said, holding her friend away and scru­tinising her. ‘And don’t say you’re not, because I can read you like a book. Has something happened to Daphne and Daniel – where are they? Daphne’s usually installed here at the bench. And Tristan should be out standing over the Weber.’

‘No. I don’t know where they are. They should have been here over an hour ago.’

‘Ah, they’ve probably got caught up sampling all the egg nog. You know what those retirement village residents are like – mob of soaks, all of them. Tris would be overruled in a second.’

‘Yeah. I hope you’re right. You didn’t hear about any accidents or anything on the radio, did you?’ Hannah suddenly wondered why she hadn’t turned the radio on herself or logged onto the computer. But she’d been too busy trying to convince herself they were just a bit late, and trying to keep everything else on schedule.

‘Sorry, we had to have the Wiggles on at full blast.’

‘No worries. Lunch might be late, but it’ll be fine.’

‘So says the queen of impeccable timing.’

‘Yes, well, I’m trying to convince myself it’ll be fine. So don’t you go bursting my bubble.’

‘Don’t worry. I’m sure they’ll come bustling in here soon enough complaining about the traffic, or whatever.’

‘I hope so.’

‘Is there anything I can do to help? Perhaps I can be Daphne and peel the veggies until she arrives?’ Sam said, settling herself on a stool and looking around.

‘Thanks, but everything’s done.’

‘It’s okay,’ Rob said, coming into the kitchen, ‘they’re flat out on the lawn pretending to fly and pretending they’re not plum tuckered out.’

They shared a chuckle.

‘So what can I help with?’ he asked, looking around. ‘And where’s Tristan and your parents, anyway?’

‘We don’t know. You can pour us a drink, darling. God knows, we need one. Champagne, Hann?’

‘Yes, thanks, that would be lovely. I think I’m all done here for now,’ she said, casting her eye over her list.

They had just got settled with drinks in hand when Oliver and Ethan appeared.

‘Can we please have a drink?’ they said, both speaking at once.

‘Of course you can,’ Sam said, but stayed put.

‘It’s okay, darling, you sit there. I’ll deal with it,’ Rob said, getting up and putting a hand to his wife’s shoulder and a kiss on her forehead as he passed.

‘You’re the best,’ Sam said, and raised her glass to him.

A few minutes later Sam and Hannah cocked their heads at hearing the sound of car doors closing. Hannah took another sip of champagne as she resisted going out to give Tristan a small piece of her mind. But the last thing she needed was an argument on Christmas Day. They had a dozen more guests arriving in less than an hour.

They looked at each other quizzically when the doorbell sounded.

‘I’ll get it,’ Rob called.

‘Thanks,’ Hannah replied. She’d better ease up on the cham­pagne if she wanted lunch to be perfect. The few sips she’d had had gone right to her head and she felt a little too relaxed to be bothered getting up. If Tristan and her parents had their hands full of gifts Rob would help them, equally if it was someone who’d turned up early. The Ainsley house, which had been the White house before them, was known to be open and welcoming all day at Christmas. People often dropped in for a drink on their way to or from somewhere else.

Hannah was distracted from her thoughts by Oliver and Ethan sidling up to the Christmas tree.

‘Can we please have a candy cane, Auntie Hann?’ Oliver asked.

‘If it’s okay with your mum.’

‘Don’t you think you had enough at home?’ Sam said.

‘But, Muuuum, it’s Christmas,’ Ethan whined.

‘Just one,’ Sam said with a resigned sigh. ‘And then sit quietly on the floor to eat them.’

They carefully plucked a brightly striped piece of hooked candy from the tree and sat down.

‘You’ve got to pick your battles,’ Sam said as she and Hannah watched them in silence.


We hope you enjoyed this sample of Finding Hannah by Fiona McCallum - coming April 1st 2017!

Click here to find out more!


Fiona writes heart-warming journey of self-discovery stories that draw on her life experiences, love of animals and fascination with the power and support that comes from strong friendships. She is the author of eight Australian bestsellers: Paycheque, Nowhere Else, Wattle Creek, Saving Grace, Time Will Tell, Meant To Be, Leap of Faith and Standing Strong. Finding Hannah is her ninth novel.

More information about Fiona and her books can be found on her website and she can be followed on Facebook here.

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