CHAPTER ONE

 

This story isn’t about me. After all, there really isn’t much to say about someone like me. Lucy Runelli: short, skinny, dark-brown hair, grey eyes. The only person who reckons I’m pretty is my father. I’m not especially good at anything, except maybe reading – big deal. I’m half-Italian, half-Australian.

Luckily this book is about someone else.

I met Scott Allen in 1969. I was fourteen and as usual, I was spending the summer holidays at our beach house in Shoreham. My sixteen-year-old sister Gina and I were cantering our horses along the shoreline early one evening when a boy in tattered jeans sauntered across our path.

‘Shit! Watch where you’re going!’ he yelled as we just managed to avoid him.

Gina reined in her horse and shouted over her shoulder, ‘You’re the idiot who walked in front of us!’

Suddenly she swivelled around in her saddle. ‘Hey, aren’t you Rob’s brother?’

‘Yeah, so what’s it to you?’

It turned out that Gina had met Rob at a party in Melbourne a few weeks earlier. Scott had been there too. The way in which my sister leapt off her horse to talk to him was a sure sign that the brother was someone special. I hoped for Gina’s sake that Rob was better looking than Scott.

The two of them chatted for a while. I watched the boy take a cigarette from a crumpled Marlboro packet and light up, even though he was clearly far too young to be smoking. My sister made some ridiculous joke about his name, pretending to be confused about whether it was Scott Allen or Alan Scott. Ha! I was certain that she’d remembered Rob’s surname perfectly. Nevertheless, I was impressed by the way she kept the conversation going.

To my surprise, Scott strolled over to where I was still sitting on my horse and looked up at me. His cigarette finished, he ground the butt into the sand with a dirty bare foot and then, very slowly and suggestively, he winked at me.

‘What’s your problem?’ I asked, scowling down at him.

But he just winked again.

‘Gina, we have to go. It’s getting dark.’ Without waiting for a reply, I set off at a fast trot across the beach towards home.

I didn’t think much of Scott Allen, that first time I met him. Sure, his blue eyes sort of twinkled when he grinned, but basically he seemed to be a dirty, rough, rude lout.

Three days later, when I saw him again, my opinion didn’t change.