A Change Of gender And Beyond
Chapter 15
by F.W. Hinton
          The rain had  hardly  lowered  the  summer heat. The weather
          forecast, a line  of  thunder-storms  with  hail  and strong
          winds moving towards the coast.

          Shaun Maclaren sat  at  his favourite table in the side-walk
          cafe drinking coffee, watching the tourists take the air.

          They sauntered along  pavements,  some stared at him, others
          stopping  to  peer   in   gift  shops,  then  arguing  among
          themselves whether they should turn left or right to go down
          the Golden mile.  A few bought films from the chemist shops,
          searched through racks  of  postcards, perhaps with the hope
          of finding a cache of obscene ones near the back.

          The young and  not so young overflowed into the road, closed
          around traffic, like  water  round a boat. Angry bus drivers
          sounded their horns  as  they  drove  down  one-way streets,
          pulling up at  bus  stops  to  pick  up  fares.  Some of the
          tourists  sat  near   Shaun,  sipping  drinks,  munching  on
          hamburgers and chips and being stared at in their turn.

          Shaun Maclaren was back on the coast wishing Leah Wainwright
          was with him.  She  was  constantly  in  his thoughts. If he
          closed his eyes he could see her, almost touch her, feel her
          arms around his neck, see the glance of her eyes. He thought
          about the golden  afternoons they had spent together. He had
          a feeling that there was something absurd about their love.

          When he first  met her he fell for her. That first explosion
          of glory was  followed  by a nagging fear that came from the
          thinness of their relationship.

          He knew this  was a different kind of love---because she had
          been his nurse.  Perhaps,  he  thought, this was the love of
          Shaun Maclaren the man, for a woman.

          Everything Leah Wainwright  had done yesterday, the day, the
          week  before, she  had  done  with  someone  else.  He  felt
          excluded, an interloper.  His  only  claim  on  her was this
          spider's thread of  loving her. A delicate line. long, thin,
          without breadth. To  Shaun it was shimmering with excitement
          and promise, but he knew it was vulnerable. He knew it could
          be broken by the most trivial of accidents.

          He wished this  strand  of web, this line would gain breadth
          so that it  might never break. Breadth seemed all important.
          Every request for her help had to take precedence over their
          wanting to be together.

          Leah had sent  him  many  interesting  letters, nothing like
          Macia's.  Some of Leah's letters told of her work, others of
          the progress his  new  penis  was  making.  The  delight  of
          Professor Gaisford and  his laboratory team. That he thought
          Shaun's reassignment program  should be completed within the
          next nine months.  Shaun  was elated. The time when he would
          be a complete, whole man, closer than he had dared hope.

          There was still  pain  in  his  groin  from  the  testicular
          insertion. But he  was  used  to them now, these testes that
          hung from his  vagina.  Testes  he  examined  every day with
          pride. He no  longer  looked with envy at other men who used
          the urinals in  the  male  toilets. He knew he would shortly
          have a penis,  a product of his body. No artificial silastic
          implant  for  him.   With   a   little  Pethidine,  and  the
          encouragement he received  from  Leah's  letters,  the  pain
          became bearable. At this moment Shaun Maclaren was on top of
          the world.

          The assignments he  accepted  translating Asian into English
          were small enough  to  be  handled from the flat.  He turned
          down touring contracts,  believing  that  at  this  time the
          stress would be  too  great. The agency, not wanting to lose
          his services paid him a retaining fee.

          He ignored the  letters  Macia  sent  at  regular intervals.
          Although there were  occasions  when  he  felt  like opening
          them.  He managed  to  resist the temptation by tearing them
          into shreds and throwing them into the incinerator.

          Approximately six weeks  after his return to the coast Macia
          phoned.  It  was   just  after  midnight,  and  it  was  the
          relentless ringing that  woke  him.  Realising that it could
          only be Macia, in his half dazed state he felt concerned for
          her well-being, deciding to help her overcome whatever might
          be troubling her.

          " After all,"  he argued loudly, " it was Macia that started
          me on the  road to freedom." But when she reproached him for
          not replying to  her  letters  he slammed down the phone and
          went back to bed.

          A letter from Leah arrived asking if she could stay with him
          for part of her long-service leave.  Overjoyed he thought he
          should find a larger unit.  One closer to the beach.

          Half-heartedly he inspected  a  number of units.  There were
          the  usual  problems,   and   he  was  not  able  to  get  a
          satisfactory price for  his  flat. Eventually he gave up the
          idea, decided to  stay  where  he  was, hoping Leah wouldn't
          mind. It was  his  home,  his  haven the place where he felt
          secure, and according  to her last letter she was only going
          to stay for a few days. No longer than two weeks.

          Leah Wainwright looked  down  from  the window of the Boeing
          747 as the  coast  line  faded and the darkness of the ocean
          replaced the land. She tried reading the in-flight magazines
          to help suppress  her  excitement.  Shaun had only written a
          few short letters  in  answer to her many, nevertheless, she
          knew there was a magic between them.

          " It's fate," a close friend told her, when she spoke of the
          way she felt,  " one could say that whatever happens it's in
          your Karma."

          Leah closed her eyes for a moment hoping to sleep, it eluded
          her. She flipped  through the pages of a magazine. Picked at
          the air-line food,  pellets,  either  chicken  or  fish with
          salad and a glutinous matter masquerading as pasta.

          The passenger next  to  her, a friendly looking business man
          with gray hair cut short on a brick-coloured neck made a few
          comments.  Leah who  had  no  great  mastery  of  small-talk
          responded in a  dull  sort  of  way.  She  lost herself in a
          glossy magazine of  her  own, a world of models, a synthetic
          reality. She preferred  it  to  the  magazines  the air-line
          supplied.  The man  leaned towards her and tried again, Leah
          glared at him,  went  back  to her magazine. They were after
          all strangers with nothing to share.

          It was seven  a.m.  when  the  flight  reached the coast and
          circled the airport.  Outside  the lounge Shaun was waiting.
          He saw her,  wanted  to run to her take her in his arms.  He
          knew it had  to be different if the delicate strand of their
          love were to  remain intact. With tears of emotion streaming
          down his cheeks he waited for her to come to him.

          The strand was  beginning  to gain breadth. She had arrived,
          it was all  that mattered, and Shaun was happy, happier than
          he had been  in  a  long  time.  He  no  longer felt like an
          interloper, now he  was  part  of her life. They could spend
          days, weeks together,  even  the  rest of their lives, if he
          treated her with a gentle patience.

          Leah fell in  love  with  his  flat,  thought of it as being
          home. Tired after the long flight she slept for hours in her
          room which he had redecorated, especially for her.

          The following day  they  became  tourists,  sauntered  along
          pavements, ran barefoot  along  the  beach,  where all human
          activities were represented.  Where  a  gust  of  wind would
          twirl off a hat and send it out to sea.

          They were all  there, white bodies, light brown bodies, dark
          coloured ones, sleeping,  reading,  playing.   Some  hard at
          work building sand-castles,  only  to  sit  and  watch  them
          washed away on the incoming tide.

          There were more  subtle  activities.   Males, young and old,
          moving their positions with caution, so that their vision of
          angle would be  improved. Females, the object of their gaze,
          some staying as  they  were,  because they like being stared
          at, or were unaware of it. Others quickly closing their legs
          together to bring down the curtain.

          In the early  afternoon  the  tide was unusually high. Shaun
          and Leah clambered  over the rocks, stopping now and then as
          a particularly big  roller  marched  towards them, to strike
          and disintegrate against  the breakwater. The sea fascinated
          both of them, perhaps Leah more than Shaun.

          They walked along  the  sea  wall, where the land jutted out
          into the water,  and  watched the majestic fury of the surf.
          With the young  they  braved  the  elements.  As the rollers
          broke  then  receded  they  ventured  out  to  the  edge  to
          challenge the next big wave, racing back to avoid the spray.
          Sometimes they waited  too  long, or the force of the waves,
          stronger than they expected and they were drenched.

          A party had  been  arranged by the agency to promote tourism
          along  the coast.  Shaun  had  been  asked  to  attend,  the
          invitation including Leah.   All  the right people turned up
          for the promotion.   Agents from Europe, America and many of
          the countries in  the  Pacific basin.  There was nation wide
          television coverage, with no one objecting to the lights and

          The murmur of  voices, clink of glasses, cigar smoke mingled
          with expensive perfume,  were,  all a little foreign to Leah
          Wainwright.  Different, she thought, to the hospital socials
          and parties she  had helped to organise. But it was here she
          felt she really belonged.

          Shaun, his services  as translator in demand did his best to
          keep her by  his  side,  and  as  the  champagne flowed they
          mingled. He introduced  her  to his friends who nodded their
          approval, and agreed,  quietly  that Shaun Maclaren and Leah
          were most definitely an item.

          Leah became interested  in  Shaun's work. She tried to learn
          some of the Asian phrases, and although Shaun gave her every
          encouragement, she found the task a little beyond her.

          After their days  at the beach Leah took over the running of
          the flat, Many  evenings  working hard as hostess when Shaun
          brought his clients home.

          She originally decided that a week or two on the coast would
          be long enough,  now  in  her  fifth  week  Leah  was  still
          enjoying every moment.  It  seemed  that she was being drawn
          deeper and deeper  into Shaun's world of happiness. It was a
          feeling she liked, a happiness she had never known.

          There were occasions  when  she was left on her own. Usually
          no longer than  an  hour or two, or when an interview with a
          special client had been arranged by the agency.

          Without prior notice  the  agency  called a conference which
          Shaun had to  attend.   Knowing it would take up most of the
          evening, he tried  to  persuade  Leah  to  go with him.  She
          refused, wanting to  stay  at  home, even though she knew it
          would be lonely.

          " We need  a  few hours apart," she told him with a laugh, "
          might even do us good."

          When Shaun left she washed up and put away the dishes.

          The silence unbearable  she studied the television column of
          the evening paper,  and though no program interested her she
          turned on the  set  for noise.  The static, unusually strong
          made the picture  snowy.  She  played with the controls, and
          the  picture  vanished.    She   tried  switching  to  other
          channels. One of  them,  a  voice,  barely audible told of a
          cyclone approaching the  coast. Wanting more information she
          switched from channel  to  channel. Minutes later in disgust
          she switched the  T  V  off,  wishing  now she had gone with

          She walked round  the  room,  moved  a  chair  closer to the
          table, straightened a  picture,  then put it back the way it
          was. She studied  the  barometer that hung by the main door,
          saw that the  reading  was  low,  she  tapped  the glass and
          gasped in amazement  when  the  needle  fell even lower. The
          news of the  cyclone making her restless. She wanted, needed
          something to do,  and  wandered  from room to room searching
          for ideas.

          In her room she looked at the travelling trunk that stood in
          the corner covered with a cloth.

          " My old  service  chest," Shaun had told her when she first
          went to the  flat,  "  it's  filled  with all kinds of junk,
          throw it all out one day."

          Leah removed the  cover.  She  opened  the chest and ran her
          hands over the top of the things.  Knowing she had no right,
          it made her  feel  like  an  intruder  she  closed  the  lid

          " How would  you like it Leah Wainwright?" she asked loudly,
          reproachingly, " a  stranger  going  through  your  personal

          She stood by the window, gazed at the road that glistened in
          the steady rain.  As  the  light  began  to fade she saw the
          white caps on  the  sea  in  the distance, and thought about
          their walks along the shore.

          The coast held  a  fascination for her. She became lost in a
          world of her  own.   Running  barefoot  along the beach, the
          sand, thick between  her toes, then being washed away by the
          warm waters that rose and fell over legs. She slipped out of
          her clothes. Swam  in  the caressing sea. Turned on her back
          and floated for hours.

          She heard the  splash,  and saw the foam of another swimmer,
          knew it could only be Shaun, that he had come to her rescue.
          In the warm gentle sea he held her close as they made a slow
          heavenly love.

          Suddenly the room became bright as lightning lit up the sky.
          The crash of  thunder  brought her back to reality.  She was
          laying on the bed, with no idea how she got there.

          She sat up,  looked at the chest, her gazed transfixed. As a
          roll of thunder rent the air she ran to the chest and opened
          it. She knew  it  was wrong, but her hands seemed beyond her
          control as they  lifted  out  skirts, blouses, cardigans and
          jumpers all pressed  and  neatly  folded.  There was Shaun's
          service  uniform.  There  were  slacks,  dresses,  nighties,
          handkerchiefs and bras, which Leah lifted out and refolded.

          There was a  wedding gown, white satin and lace. She knew it
          belonged to Shaun. In a box near the bottom of the chest was
          a rich gossamer  headdress  and  veil,  Leah  held  the gown
          against her, looked in the mirror turning first one way then
          the other.

          " What if?"  she  said  excitedly  as she waltzed around the

          Hardly daring to  think  she  took off her dress and slipped
          the wedding gown  on.   It didn't quite reach the floor, but
          everything else was  perfect,  her  waist,  bust, all in the
          right places. In the antique cheval mirror for a few minutes
          she admired the  view,  turning  sideways  she ran her hands
          over her breasts and trim waist.

          " Will we  marry,  you  and I, Shaun Maclaren. Please let me
          wear this, your beautiful gown for our wedding."

          She turned away  from the mirror and went back to the chest.
          There was a  folder  filled  with  letters from printers and
          publishers.   Underneath  the  folder  the  book  Shaun  had
          written and another letter of rejection. She opened the book
          and began to read.

          The lights flickered.  The  flat in darkness Leah ran to the
          window, watched a  jagged  bolt of lightning tear across the
          sky and disappear  into the sea. The street lights were out,
          all the houses  were  dark.  Here  and  there a light danced
          behind a window as people lit their candles.

          Leah had heard about cyclones, and storms that began life in
          the gulf, then  raced  down  the  coast,  leaving a trail of
          destruction.  She stood  by  the  window,  mesmerized by the
          lightning, and thought about Shaun and his wedding gown.

          With the next flash of lightning she hitched up the gown and
          with Shaun's book under her arm made her way to the kitchen,
          stopping every time  there  was  a  roll of thunder. Waiting
          behind a door until it passed.

          In the kitchen  she  searched  for  a  light.  On top of the
          cupboard  she found  a  candle  and  matches.  Lighting  the
          candle, too frightened  to scream she dialled Shaun's agency
          number. There was  no  ringing, only a hum. She replaced the
          receiver, waited until the lightning had passed, and seconds
          before the next  clap  of  thunder  she  began  dialling the
          number again. There was a flash and the line went dead.

          Leah trembled as  the  storm  ran  wild.   She stared at the
          eerie  shadows  created   by  the  light  from  the  candle.
          Something touched her, soft like the touch of a feather, and
          as the storm raged she fell asleep in the armchair.

          When the storm eased and she awoke, Leah felt calm and safe.
          Her mind closed  to  the  noise  of  the torrential rain she
          picked up Shaun's book from the coffee table.

          She read how  he  had  floated above the operating table. Of
          the spirits he  had  seen and spoken to.  Of his thoughts on
          the rebirth of  the  soul in a new body, and his life before
          he was reborn Shaun Maclaren.

          Of his mother  who had told him that one day he would become
          a whole man  and  marry a woman called Leah.  She read about
          his guardian angel,  a never ending source of acceptance and
          love. Of the  times  when  he had faced great pain and loss,
          knowing that was  the  time when the advent of his spiritual
          learning occurred.

          The angels, Shaun had written, are always there, even in his
          past life they  were  there  to  guide  him. They bring many
          gifts, but the greatest gift they bring is love.

          Where there is  pain  there  is  hope.  Where there has been
          suffering, healing has  come.  Where  there  is mistrust and
          anger, there is  love.  Ask, and your angel will appear. For
          these are the foot prints of angels.

          Leah realised she  was still wearing his gown.  In her room,
          she took one  last  look  in the cheval mirror. She saw, not
          her reflection, but the mist of his mother.

          " Please," she  whispered, " you know how much I really love
          him.  Let me  be the Leah who will one day, wear his wedding

          Leah took off  the  gown  and  laid  it lovingly back in the

          Shaun Maclaren's book  '  The  Spirits  of  Parallel  '  was
          published by the  Hunter Organization. The book launch to be
          held in London.

          The Concorde dipped  it's  beak and began to roll. The plane
          gathered speed, lifted  it's  nose and leapt off the runway,
          Shaun and Leah loosened their seat belts, pushed their seats
          into  the  reclining   position  and  stretched  their  legs

          " Champagne Madame-  -Sir?'  the  pretty girl in a pale blue
          uniform asked.

          They declined, but  Leah asked for coffee, plain, white.  As
          the stewardess left  Shaun  grinned at Leah, although, there
          was a look  of  bewilderment  about him.  It had happened so
          fast. Leah had arranged every thing. She led, he followed.

          He remembered the  storm.   Worried about Leah he managed to
          leave the conference  early.  Driving back to the flat there
          were patches of  mist  that  the car headlights could hardly
          penetrate. As he  approached  his  home  the  whole area was
          dark, not only  the  houses, but the street lights were out.
          Although the storm  had  lessened  the  rain  continued in a
          heavy downpour, and he had been forced to park the car yards
          away. He remembered  walking up the steps, soaking wet. Leah
          was standing by  the  open  door, then slipping, hitting his
          head and laying on the tiled courtyard floor.

          He remembered the  pain, but only for a moment. He had tried
          to move. It was Leah who had knelt beside him in the pouring
          rain making him  lie  still.  There  was  the  sound  of the
          ambulance bell. Then  there  were  lights.  He  woke  up  in
          hospital with Leah sitting beside him.

          He remembered the  pain  in  his back, that he was forced to
          lie still. But that was days ago.

          Leah had sent  his script to the Hunter Organization, and as
          the jet slipped  through  the  sound  barrier and settled in
          it's flight plan,  he  remembered  telling Leah when she had
          visited him in  the  hospital,  about  all  the times he had
          tried to get  it  published.  Now Hunters had made an offer,
          which Leah had accepted on his behalf.

          At first it  annoyed  him to know she had succeeded where he
          had  failed.  He   felt  his  newly  won  manhood  had  been
          threatened. It was  his  script. He should have been the one
          to decide whether or not the offer would be acceptable.  Now
          he knew Leah  did  it  only  for him, and he revelled in the
          thought of becoming a published author.

          This was the  first  time  he  had  travelled on a Concorde,
          usually it was  a  Jumbo,  or  a 747. According to Leah this
          plane trimmed hours  off  the flight. It was more expensive,
          but there was  plenty  of  leg  room  and  the services were
          superior to many other air-lines.

          Around him music played, people talked. All the stewardesses
          smiled. As the  sky rushed by Leah gripped his hand and made
          him smile.

          " This is  wonderful  Shaun,"  she whispered, " and it's all

          The Concorde shuddered, dipped it's nose and began to slow.

          " This is  your  Captain.  I  hope  you've  had an enjoyable
          flight. We are  now  approaching  the English coast south of
          Dover. We are  beginning  to decelerate, and will be landing
          at Heathrow in approximately thirty minutes."

          London life and  the  mid-morning  traffic  seemed normal to
          Shaun, but to  Leah  it  appeared  to be in a state of utter
          chaos. As the limousine that picked them up from the airport
          raced towards the  city,  Leah's  right  foot was constantly
          trying to force it's way through the floor.

          The car turned  into  Portman Square and stopped outside the
          Churchill  Hotel. The  chauffeur  checked  them  in  as  the
          manager descended from  the gallery above the reception area
          to welcome them.   Leah  marvelled  at  the  air of gracious
          living, and on the way to their suite remarked to Shaun that
          if Hunters changed  their  mind about covering expenses they
          would both be broke for the rest of their lives.

          When the bell-boy  left  they  made  for  the  bathroom  and
          disappeared in a  fog  of  steam  and bubbling foam. An hour
          later Leah, wrapped  in a robe went into the bedroom.  There
          was a note  on  the  night table and a list of appointments.
          Hairdressers for Shaun  and  herself.   Tailors with fitting
          times for Shaun.   For  her a list of boutiques, dressmakers
          and tailors who  would  be  calling on them to discuss their
          wardrobes.  Unable to  believe  it  she  went  back  to  the
          bathroom and read out the list to Shaun.

          " Like being  back in the Army," he said with a laugh, as he
          heaved a wet  sponge  at  Leah, " anyone would think we were
          Prima Donna's. We're  only  here  to talk about the spirits.
          The  book  and  our  thoughts  and  feelings  on  the  fresh
          embodiment, and my favourite subject, the Angels."

          Two days later the book launch was held, and after breakfast
          with the editors  Shaun  and Leah went down to the ballroom.
          It  was packed  with  people  sitting  around  cloth-covered

          High above the  stage  was  a  poster  of Shaun's book.  The
          poster was huge.  It  showed a figure hovering over a table,
          on either side  sketches  of  angels, cherubs, famous people
          from the past.  People,  young  and  old, all appeared to be
          floating in space.

          A first they  were  stunned  by the impact of the poster. It
          was a frightening,  yet  calm,  heavenly  scene.  While Leah
          stared at it  in  wonderment,  for  Shaun  it  brought  back
          memories of his Vagus nerve operation, his days nights, with
          Maureen. At the  bottom  of  the  poster,  in the distance a
          cottage nestled near a beach, close to where the sky met the

          It was Leah  who  really amazed him. She was in her element,
          conversing with publishers, booksellers and editors alike, a
          few even seeking  her  attention.  He walked towards her. He
          needed a drink,  but his mouth was so dry he felt his tongue
          must be glued  to it's roof.  Someone offered him a glass of
          champagne.  Although he was desperate, he refused, convinced
          that nothing would  get  past his restricted throat muscles,
          that the liquid would run down his chin.

          He had been  in  front  of  people,  and  spoken  on various
          subjects many times as translator, tour guide. He was always
          in charge. It  was part of his life, his job. Now, suddenly,
          he Shaun Maclaren was scared to death.

          " Should have  put the bloody book in her name," he grumbled
          as he went to find Leah.

          Inching his way  through  the  crowd of writers, readers and
          booksellers, Shaun saw  another poster of his book.  Someone
          recognised him, asked  him  if  he  would  sign  their copy.
          Immediately there were  dozens  of people waving copies of '
          The Spirits of Parallel ' all demanding his signature.

          It was Leah who came to the rescue. She took him by the hand
          and led him towards the stage.

          Latecomers  were  still   straggling   into   the  ballroom,
          searching for a seat.

          " I wonder  who that is?" he asked Leah, his attention drawn
          to a statuesque blonde in a long black gown, one of the most
          glamorous women at the launch.

          "  Oh!  That's   Charlotte.    Charlotte   Hunter,  head  of
          publishing and their book-store chain."

          " A woman  -  that  glamorous, head of a world-wide chain of
          book-stores? That's a  bit  hard  to believe. Besides how do
          you know?"

          Leah laughed.  " she was a patient of Professor Gaisford, on
          a  special  reassignment   program  three  years  ago.   We,
          Charlotte and I are very good friends."

          Shaun stared at Leah.  " You mean----she ."

          " She is  a  very  nice person, I know you'll like her," she
          said squeezing his hand.

          Charlotte Hunter came  onto  the  stage from the side and as
          she walked up to the microphone, Shaun knew his time was up.
          He wanted to run, but Leah held onto his hand.

          Pulling back his shoulders he summoned all his courage, then
          wondered why his feet seemed glued to the floor.

          A hush fell  over  the  ballroom, the people absorbing every
          word  from  the   beautiful   blonde  that  commanded  their

          " It is  my  very  great  pleasure,"  she  was  saying, " to
          present to you  a  man who has a better understanding of the
          soul, the spirit and reincarnation than any one I know."

          The applause was  thunderous,  delaying Shaun's entrance who
          was busy being  scared,  and  trying to persuade his feet to

          " Shaun Maclaren," she continued, when the applause had died
          down, " has  travelled  the  world, is a leading exponent of
          Asian languages and an authority on traumatology.

          After an early  marriage  and divorce a year later he worked
          his way through university and has spent many years studying
          the influences of  the  Extraordinary,  having  had numerous
          experiences of his own."

          The blood was  pounding  in his temples.  He hadn't expected
          such a personal introduction.  How could this person, he had
          never met, spread  out  his  life in front of an audience of
          absolute strangers.

          The speaker informed the audience when and where Shaun would
          be giving lectures,  and  when  he  would  be  available  to
          autograph copies of his book.

          Even before Hunters had organized the launch 'The Spirits of
          Parallel' had produced  a  profit.   Now a campaign had been
          worked out, and a ten week tour arranged.

          " Now!" Leah whispered, giving him a gentle push.

          Vaguely aware of  the tables stacked with copies of his book
          he was too  intent  on  reaching the stage to notice all the
          welcoming smiles.

          His foot was on the first step. The microphone loomed before
          him like a  pitchfork  that  belonged  to the Devil. Poised,
          ready to spear  him.  He  managed to reach it, then realised
          people were clapping him. Charlotte Hunter grasped his hand,
          and as she welcomed him kissed him on the cheek.

          " I wish  all  my  duties  were  this  enjoyable," she said,
          moving aside to make room for him.

          " A lovely  reward,"  Shaun Maclaren quipped, taking hold of
          the  microphone. His  confidence  returned,  his  throat  no
          longer dry.

          He remembered to  thank  the  editors  and every one who had
          helped to organise  the  launch.  It was easy to express his
          appreciation of Charlotte  Hunter  who  stood to the left of
          him listening attentively.

          But it was  Leah  Wainwright he thanked most of all. He told
          of how, one  night in the height of a storm she had read his
          script. How hard  she  had worked to get it published, while
          he lay in hospital recovering from an injury.

          Amid a standing  ovation  Leah found herself on the stage by
          his side.

          " We'll always  be together," he whispered, " I'll never let
          you go."

          Taking her by  the  shoulders  he gave her a long, lingering
          kiss, bringing applause and whistles of encouragement.

          Leah knew he  had a gift of concentrating on one person, and
          even in front of hundreds of people she was alone with him.

          Was this, she wondered, his mother's spirit telling her that
          she was the Leah. The Leah he would one day call his own?"