A Change Of gender And Beyond
Chapter 6
by F.W. Hinton
          Maureen was waiting for Shaun as the red disc of the setting
          sun hung over  the  roof  of the railway station.  She stood
          watching the direction  in  which  her  cousin  would  come,
          caught sight of her and moved to meet her.

          Shaun, her dead-set  stare,  indicative of the determination
          which had driven  her  to  see  Maureen  raised her hand and
          touched her cousin's  face.  Unable  to control her emotions
          kissed her, a  long  lasting  kiss.  Neither  saying a word,
          knowing they had  to  be  together,  for  a  day,  a  month,
          forever. Arm in  arm they walked down the lane to the beach.
          Barefoot, they ran along the beach to their cottage.

          The bedroom became  their  haven.  It  was four months since
          they had seen  one  another.   Maureen  desperate  to answer
          Shaun's regular letters,  Knowing  she  dare not. Fearful of
          her cousin Pauline, or her aunt Rachel reading them.

          The moment Shaun  had  dreaded,  yet longed for had arrived.
          And as the  leaves  on the trees outside the window quivered
          in the breeze  their  eyes  met,  brimming  with quicksprung
          tears. Shaun, almost afraid to touch her cousin, in case, as
          in all her dreams she fade away.

          The barrier of  time  parted.   Fingers,  who knew, or cared
          who's tore at  zips  and  hooks.  Warm flesh melted to flesh
          equally as warm  and  soft.  Igniting  sparks  and dreams as
          touch-bred flames began  licking and yearning the lost hours
          and days.

          Shaun cried out with delight as all the old familiarity came
          rushing back. The  surge  to  belong  to  each  other.  Both
          seeking a desperate happiness.

          Maureen, murmuring, " I'll never let you go."

          Shaun, adoring, gentle,  even-reverend,  as  if  to  cup her
          cousin's  swollen  breasts  was  a  privilege  so  rare,  so
          precious that it  made  her  speechless with awe. They found
          the secret intimacy  of  making  love still the same earthy,
          shattering experience they had on that first night long ago.
          To Shaun, Maureen  was  a complete woman.  To Maureen, Shaun
          Maclaren her Prince,  who  inspired  her with star-bursts of
          colour, like Catherine wheels that spun in the night.

          Maureen, always very  close  to  her cousin, the days turned
          into months. Most evenings in the warm, friendly glow of the
          fire  they listened  to  their  favourite  records.  Maureen
          laying her head on Shaun's lap. Their soft kisses and tender
          caresses lasting long  into  the  night.   Occasionally they
          went for a  walk  that  ended  with  a special dinner at the
          Sandwood Hotel.

          Sundays they packed  a  picnic  basket  and  drove  to their
          favourite spot. Sometimes  they  walked through a paddock of
          green knee-high wheat.  At  the  far edge of the field Shaun
          spread a blanket  on  the  ground,  Maureen the table-cloth,
          then she prepared  their lunch. They both liked red wine and
          always took a bottle with them.

          Shaun loved to  wear  slacks and a soft linen shirt, it gave
          her a leisurely  feeling.  Maureen  always  happy  to wear a
          dress, or a  skirt  and  a  sleeveless top. After lunch they
          laid down, Maureen  watching  the  hawk  that  circled above
          them, wondering where and when it would dive.

          Fascinated by her  cousin's  tanned  legs  Shaun fondled and
          kissed them in  turn.  The hawk still circling above watched
          the two naked bodies entwine, then break away to dance among
          the wheat with the simple delight of living.

          Such simple events  last  lovers  a  very long time. Some of
          them, all of  their  lives,  hardly  one  of  them  able, or
          willing to turn  their  backs  on  the best things that ever

          Shaun and Maureen  remembered their wheat field and with the
          coming of summer watched and play in it as it grew.

          They made love  in  the car in daylight. In the pine forests
          on their trips  to the North, neither caring about the sharp
          pine needles that  stuck  to knees, backs and palms. To them
          it was a  sexual mystery that bound them together, a mystery
          that neither wanted to solve.

          Shaun bought her  cousin  a  pretty  blue  night  gown  that
          Maureen wore every night. There were nights when Shaun slept
          like a baby,  while  her  cousin  lay awake watching her. In
          sleep Shaun looked  contented,  in  love, not just with her,
          but with life,  and she realised that this was Shaun's first
          and only love that no one would dare to spoil.

          Maureen knew there  were times when Shaun suffered some very
          bad pains. It  was  more,  much  more  than  pains  from her
          periods, they were  normal  ones  she could easily bear. She
          had often seen her laying on the bed with a pillow under her
          stomach trying to  relieve  the  torment. When Maureen asked
          her about it,  Shaun  just  cried told her it was always the
          same.  Tears flowed  down  her  cheeks  as she watched Shaun
          pace the floor in the darkness trying to hide her pain

          There was no  Sarah Maureen could turn to. No Army nurses to
          help out. Desperate with worry she wrote to the Army medical
          board, pleading with  them to help her cousin.  A week later
          a defence department  doctor  ordered Shaun to report to his
          office regarding her  pension.   Shaun  groped  through  the
          layers of sleep to reach Maureen's soft voice.

          " It's late,"  she  was telling her, " you have to keep your
          appointment. Your pension is at stake."

          Dr Robert Duncan  scowled  as he studied the medical history
          of Shaun Maclaren. He read about the tests, the Barium meals
          and X-rays she  had  been given.  Of the results that proved
          she was not  suffering  from  ulcers.  His mouth set in hard
          lines as he  read the civilian doctors suggestion that Shaun
          was  psychosomatic  and  should  be  referred  to  a  mental
          institution. This was  the second year she had been examined
          for the grading  of  her  service  pension.   He studied the
          letter from Maureen  describing the pain and agony Shaun was
          suffering. Without waiting for further discussion he decided
          on an immediate operation.

          The thickset surgeon  in the theatre barely looked up as the
          tall figure of  Robert  Duncan in mask gloves and gown moved
          in opposite him.  He was aware of the nurses, assistants and
          interns who moved quickly, in an orderly fashion, their feet
          making no sound.  He glanced at the anaesthetist.

          " How is she Dr Fowler?"

          Falling slightly," the  anaesthetist  answered,  giving  his

          " Primary shock developing," Duncan observed. " Let's get on
          with it shall we?"

          He  studied  the  transfusion,  "  a  little  faster  please

          Duncan waited as  the  surgeon  opposite  traced the pattern
          marked in blue lines that ran from his patient's breast bone
          down to her navel.

          Shaun hovered above  the  table. She seemed to be floating -
          -close to the  ceiling. She watched the subaqueous ballet, a
          serious dance around  the  table  on which her body now lay.
          she looked down  at  the  operating  theatre, all porcelain,
          stainless steel, gleaming silver gray.

          There was no  pain-she  seemed  not  to  feel  anything. She
          touched the massive  overhead  lights,  trying  to make them
          swing. In her  lighthearted  mood she tried not to giggle as
          Dr Duncan looked  and  swore  very  softly. She put her hand
          over her mouth, hoping he hadn't heard, wondering if he knew
          she was almost able to touch him.

          Enjoying her new found freedom she glided down to the table,
          touched the green  cover  that separated her chest and navel
          from the remainder of her body.

          Fascinated, she stared  at  the profusion of tubes connected
          to her various  parts.  To  someone like Shaun Maclaren, who
          did not even  want  to  understand  them,  they  were just a
          tangle of tubes.  As  she watched she realised they were the
          weapons of this little army fighting to free her from pain.

          The excitement was unlike anything she had ever known.

          Shaun floated upwards,  found herself among explorers. There
          was Cook, Flinders,  Oxley  and O'Connell.  She thought they
          were smiling at  her  and  decided  that one day she write a
          book about the experience.

          She examined the  X-ray  picture  that  hung  directly in Dr
          Duncan's line of vision and gasped when she saw the arteries
          that turned and  curved  in  her body like so many vines and
          creepers. Panic seized her as she watched the doctor pick up
          a scalpel and  cut  the  frayed, eaten-away vagus nerve. She
          pleaded with him  not  to  hurt her, even though she knew he
          was not able  to  hear  her.  She listened as he agreed with
          the other surgeon  that  the nerve was the main cause of the
          problem, then sighed  with  relief  when he asked the suture
          Nurse to close.

          Shaun floated around  the room again. Felt a strange kind of
          happiness, being in  a  world without pain.  In a small room
          close to the  theatre  Maureen  was pacing the room. She saw
          her hovered next  to  her, heard the teardrops fall from her
          cousin's eyes. She  wanted  to  tell  her  not to worry that
          everything would turn  out  right.  Suddenly she knew it was
          time-to return to her body.

          Up the bare  steps  and  along  the corridor Maureen ran her
          shoes ringing on  the  white  tiled floor. She felt a sudden
          chill about the  hospital  and  prayed  that  her  Shaun was
          alive. Hours before  the  Matron  had sent her home. Telling
          her to come  back  in  the  morning,  advising she get a few
          hours rest.

          Maureen found a  nurse,  a  gleam of recognition crossed her
          eyes, replacing the  look  of  annoyance  at having her work
          interrupted. She showed her to her cousin's room where Shaun
          lay on a bed in a sea of white linen.

          Shaun opened her  eyes  and  stared at the ceiling. She knew
          she had been rolling her head from side to side and wondered
          what was happening.  The  sounds  she  heard  were  muttered
          words, broken sentences  that  seemed to come from her lips.
          Her head ached,  her  mouth  was dry and had an odd taste of
          something like cotton wool.

          Maureen's heart skipped  a  beat as she watched her cousin's
          face struggle, as  if to return from some far-away place. Dr
          Duncan  stood with  Maureen  beside  the  bed,  their  faces
          furrowed with tension.

          In the room  there  was  no  sound,  no rustle, not even the
          sound of breathing.  If only she hadn't written that letter,
          Shaun would be  safe  in  her  arms. Maureen knew she was to
          blame as the anger welled up within her.

          " Shaun!" Dr  Duncan whispered, " there's someone waiting to
          see you."

          She stared at  the  doctor, her eyes strained to understand.
          He stroked her  arm  gently then pressed it, hoping for some
          reflex. He watched  her  dry lips move, barely touching each
          other.  He glanced at her cousin. Maureen lent over the bed.

          " Shaun - you are going to get well," she told her doing her
          best to smile, " the doctor says you'll be free of pain."

          Maureen moved away  as  the  nurse came in to straighten the
          bed. She felt  suddenly  exhausted,  thought  the  room  was
          stifling. She shut  her  eyes  -  -opened them quickly, knew
          that the nurse  was  looking at her. She put her hand on her
          forehead, it felt  strangely  cold.  A sound, part sob, part
          laugh forced itself  from  her  throat.  Almost audible, the
          doctor still heard it, assumed it had come from the patient.
          He turned, looked  at  Maureen,  saw  that  the  colour  had
          drained from her face. As her knees buckled he caught her.

          The nurse took her into the waiting room and gave her a warm

          " Shaun!" she  said  to  the  nurse,  "  will she ever speak

          Robert Duncan examined  her.  When he had finished she asked
          about Shaun. He  explained  about something called the Vagus
          nerve, told her  it  was the cause of the pain. That it came
          from the base  of  the skull, down her neck and thorax, then
          down to her stomach. That acid had eaten part of it away.

          " She will  have  a better quality of life," he assured her,
          now that the damage has been repaired.

          " Of course  there  are  risks,"  he  continued,  "in  every
          operation there is  a  certain  amount  of  risk.  I believe
          she'll pull through.

          With your love and support she'll find the will to live."

          They went back  into Shaun's room. The nurse told them there
          had been no  change.   They watched, hoping for some form of
          expression, not one  of  them  daring to move.  At last into
          the uneasy silence came words, low, and very clear.

          " Maureen! Maureen.  I  do love you - I wouldn't have really
          left you."

          Maureen cried as  she  grasped  her  cousin's  hands.  Shaun
          smiled at her.  A  nurse  came  in, checked the machines and
          gave Shaun an injection.  She heard voices, soft and caring,
          saw the tenderness in her cousin's secret glances.

          Happy she had  decided  to  return to her body. Knowing that
          her cousin really  did  love  her,  Shaun  fell  into a deep
          contented sleep.

          She found that  the next few weeks passed in a confused way.
          She tired easily.   Even  though  Dr  Duncan had recommended
          that her service  pension be up-graded there still seemed to
          be a shortage  of money. She slept with her cousin as usual,
          but found the  strain of trying to satisfy her was more than
          she could manage, Maureen would often ignore her, pretending
          to be asleep.

          Maureen found a part-time job at the Sandwood hotel, leaving
          Shaun alone most  of  the  day.  For her life became boring.
          She became fed  up going for walks along the deserted beach,
          she longed for Maureen's company.  When her cousin came home
          from the Hotel  she appeared to be too tired to even talk to
          her, and most nights went straight to bed.

          Shaun wanted to  go  back  to  printing.  The  local  doctor
          suggested she should wait.

          " Perhaps next  year," he told her, " it is by far better to
          wait until you  are  fully recovered." She thought some form
          of writing might satisfy her, and began to use Maureen's old

          At first she  wrote about the bush and 'Luckham Downs', then
          came to a  block  when  she  thought  about  Casey Anne. She
          thought about her  experience  in  the hospital theatre. For
          hours she sat  at the keyboard, forgetting her troubles with

          The days raced  by.  Maureen's  old  typewriter  sung  every
          morning. In the  afternoons  Shaun  went  to the library and
          studied religious doctrine,  spiritual happenings. She began
          to understand her  feelings  at  the  Convent.  Knew why she
          wanted to become  a Priest and the reasons convention forced
          her to quash them.

          She threw herself  into  her  work.  Wrote with an intensity
          and fire she had never felt before. The images sprang to her
          mind as she  saw  with  a  sharp  perception the colour that
          flooded the scenes,  and  found it difficult to keep up with
          the impetus of  the  figures  bustling for life on the page.
          She  felt  the  harmony  of  the  poor,  the  deformed,  the
          unfulfilled and the pleasure of a friendly act.

          Shaun Maclaren loved again the sky and the beach, the rocks,
          the rolling surf.  She seemed to be touched with an ecstasy,
          a thrill of  intoxication,  and  felt  within  her  all  the
          confused desires of living things, and watched their spirits

          Maureen tried hard  to  ignore the tension between them when
          she returned from  her work at the Sandwood Hotel.  She knew
          they were desperate  for a change.  She was afraid to broach
          the subject, believing  it could make Shaun feel she did not
          love her. That she was not wanted, or needed any more.

          She came home  early  one  evening, persuaded Shaun to leave
          her book and  walk  with  her  along the beach.  The air was
          peculiarly still, that  eerie  interval after the birds fall
          silent. The pathway  to  the  beach was deserted. Their feet
          made no sound  on  the sand. all they could hear was the lap
          of the waves alongside them.

          They held hands  and  walked in silence from the path to the
          edge of the  cliffs.   Deep  in thought they turned and went
          back towards the  cottage.  In the pale moonlight they stood
          by  the  gate,   absorbed  in  contemplation  of  their  own

          " Thank you  for  all  the  love you have given me," Maureen
          whispered as she  held her cousin's hand, " you know we both
          need a break  from  each  other.  Our  love-  -it will go on

          Shaun placed a finger on Maureen's lips.

          "Its both of  us,"  she said very softly, " I know it's time
          for me to  leave.  I need space to finish my book. I need to
          see Mum- -I."

          Shaun wanted to  tell her cousin so much more - -the seeking
          in her heart.  Of floating in the hospital.  The dark empty,
          frightening places that  surrounded  her  whenever  she  was
          alone in the  cottage. That the most vulnerable moments were
          those  of triumphant  joy  when  she  found  she  loved  all
          creatures, living, suffering.  She wanted to tell her of the
          secret self that  the evil of the world wanted to destroy by
          exposing their love.  That even with lips on lips the secret
          self remained alone.

          They stood for  a  moment gazing at the moon. Overwhelmed by
          emotion they kissed,  a kiss that seemed to be never ending.
          When at last  it was over Maureen suggested they go into the
          cottage. With a  strength  that  came from deep emotion they
          made love, each  hoping it would go on forever, each knowing
          it was the end .

          In the morning  Shaun  Maclaren was gone.  Through her tears
          Maureen had a  strange  feeling  that perhaps she had caught
          some echo of  her  cousin's  heart and mind. She knew it was
          right to let  her  go,  and that Shaun needed to be with her
          mother. In her  heart  she  felt that their special love was
          stronger than ever  before,  that one day Shaun would return
          yet she found  it  impossible to rid herself of this feeling
          of despair.

          At first Shaun  thought  it  was humiliating that at her age
          she should have  a sudden longing for her mother.  She hoped
          and prayed that  she  might  give her a little encouragement
          and not treat  her writing with a similar hostility she felt
          Maureen had. She  knew her mother would not have any idea of
          how she could get it published.

          Shaun knew she  needed an older man, someone she could go to
          for help and  advice.  She thought about Sandy Highfield. No
          one had ever  mentioned  him,  or  seen  him  for years. She
          vaguely remembered 'Luckham  Downs',  made  up her mind that
          one day she would make her home in the North.

          She knew her  eldest sister Pauline had remarried someone in
          the publishing business,  wondered  if  he  might be able to
          help  - -  or  perhaps  her  sister  Jillian.   She  quickly
          dismissed the idea when she recalled the beatings, the lies,
          and treatment she  had  been  forced  to  endure  during her
          school holidays, and  how  they  continuously blamed her for
          the death of Casey Anne. The thought of them abhorred her.

          On the outskirts  of  the  city  Shaun  found  a  large  two
          bedroomed flat. Her mother, fed up with Pauline asked if she
          could live with  her.  Shaun was delighted and could find no

          By the end  of the year she had completed her manuscript and
          went in search of a publisher. Months went by without anyone
          making an offer.  There were many letters of rejection, most
          were kind, some sympathetic, telling her that the script was
          competently written. Others  told  her  it  not  suitable to
          their  present program,  one  or  two  said  they  could  be
          interested sometime in  the  future.   Determined to succeed
          she decided on self-publishing and invested all her savings.
          Six months later she found it was impossible to continue due
          to insufficient funds.

          Angry with her  failure, which had left her heavily in debt.
          Disgusted with her mother's criticism of her efforts she put
          the manuscript in  the bottom of her service trunk and vowed
          never to read it again.

          Shaun decided to  go back to printing. The huge presses gave
          her a feeling  of  importance, something she felt she needed
          after the rejection of her book.

          Bartholomew Carter welcomed  her  with  open  arms  when she
          arrived at Morris  and  Sons.  She  found the tedious job of
          collating was something  to look forward to, and it gave her
          time to think  about  Maureen.   They wrote to each other at
          least four times  a  week  and Shaun treasured every letter.
          The letters were  her  secret,  her  comfort,  one  that she
          guarded with a jealous care.

          Rachel noticed her youngest daughter was wearing only slacks
          and shirts and  wondered why.  Her concern became unbearable
          and she examined  the  contents  of Shaun's wardrobe.  There
          were no dresses,  skirts  blouses  or jumpers and only thick
          winter pyjamas for  night  wear. The following day she spoke
          to her daughter about it.

          Shaun explained that was the way she preferred to dress, and
          it was easier  for  her to work in slacks. Her mother became
          irate and told  her to go and buy some decent clothes. Shaun
          told her it  was  none of her damn business, that she had no
          right going through her things. It was her flat and that she
          was paying all the expenses.

          During the following  weeks  Shaun  felt that her mother was
          trying to run her life and on the rare occasion when she did
          mention Maureen, Rachel  became  upset,  telling  Shaun  she
          would not allow  that  person in the home, and that if Shaun
          continued writing to her she could leave.

          Her brother George  visited his mother at least once a week,
          and listened to  her complaints about his sister. One day he
          told Shaun she  was  behaving  more like a man than a single
          woman and thought it was time she was married. Shaun, unable
          to contain her  anger told him to leave, and when he refused
          contacted the local  police  who eventually escorted him out
          of the flat.

          Anxious as always  to  hear  from  her  cousin Shaun went at
          least twice a  week  to the post office to collect her mail.
          For some time  there  had  not been any letters not even the
          usual bills. Worried  Shaun tried telephoning her. There was
          never any answer,  and Shaun put it down to her working long
          hours at the Sandwood Hotel.

          " Mrs Maclaren's  been collecting the mail," the post office
          clerk told her,  after  she  made  inquiries  about  mislaid

          " For how long,"

          " The past  six weeks. She told us you wanted her to collect
          your mail. We have the authorization you signed."

          Her mother was  out  when  Shaun  went to the flat. She knew
          Maureen had written.  That  her  mother  had  either hid the
          letters or destroyed  them.   In every room she searched the
          draws, cupboards and  boxes.   At  last  she found a pile of
          letters.  Some from  friends,  some from the Service, bills,
          many demanding immediate  payment,  underneath, letters from
          Maureen.  In the  privacy of her room she opened them. Heard
          her mother return.  Too angry to find out why she had hidden
          her mail she continued reading her cousin's letters.

          The first one  was  filled  with  love and a tenderness that
          made her cry.  The  next  about  her  work  at  the Sandwood
          begging her to come home to the cottage.

          Shaun re-read the  letter  and  decided  to go to the coast,
          there love was  all  that  mattered.   She  glanced  at  the
          post-marks, saw they  were weeks apart. She read the letters
          from her friends,  and  the  one  from  the  Army  about her
          pension. She placed the bills to one side, knowing she would
          have to pay  them  later. Wanting to know why her mother had
          hidden them she went into the lounge room to confront her.

          " So you  found  them,"  her  mother said angrily as soon as
          Shaun entered the  room,  "  here's another I picked up this
          morning, and I know who it's from. Don't you dare bring that
          woman into this house."

          Shaun wanted to  tell  her mother that it was her flat, that
          she paid the  bills,  that she would bring home who the hell
          she wanted. If  she  didn't  like  it  then  move  back with
          Pauline. Instead she picked up the letter turned it over and
          over. She could  almost  see  the words inside the envelope.
          She put it  against  her  face, praying that her worst fears
          were not true.  Her  mother staring at her, her face flushed
          with anger.

          Her heart heavy  with  apprehension  Shaun  opened Maureen's
          last letter. She read it again and again. With tears rolling
          down her cheeks she learned that her cousin was going to get

          Shaun ran from  the  room,  blinked back the tears threw her
          few clothes into  a  suitcase  and  drove to the coast never
          wanting to see or hear from her mother again.

          At the Sandwood  Hotel  Maureen  was serving behind the bar.
          Shaun controlled her  urge  to rush up to her, waiting until
          she had finished serving.

          " Why Maureen?  Why  are you doing this to me?" she asked, "
          you know I  love you.  Please Maureen, please don't treat me
          this way."

          " There was  no  need  for  you to come down here. You never
          even took the  trouble  to  answer my letters.  Besides, I'm
          not getting married  for a few weeks. You can go back to the
          cottage and wait for me."

          " No!" Shaun  retorted angrily, " I demand an explanation. I
          don't ever want  to  enter  that  cottage  again.  I'll stay

          People were beginning to stare at them, others looked away A
          few of them  left  the  bar  disgusted with their behaviour.
          This was, after all The Sandwood Hotel, where incidents like
          this did not happen.

          " Don't bother," Shaun said loudly, " I'll be leaving in the

          She stared at  the  engagement  ring Maureen was wearing. It
          made the eternity  ring  she had given her months ago, still
          on her finger seem cheap and unimportant.

          It was just  before  midnight  when  Maureen  banged  on her
          cousin's  door. Shaun  was  sitting  outside  in  the  round
          balcony absorbed by  the moonlight, she had made up her mind
          never to see  her  cousin  again.  She was hurt and felt the
          need for revenge.

          She knew it  was  all  her  mothers  fault, but Maureen, her
          first love, her  only  love  had  no  right  to  get married
          without an explanation.   She  knew  her  cousin could never
          love anyone else.  The  banging  continued.  Shaun, left the
          balcony, determined not to let her cousin in.  Maureen stood
          in the doorway. The deep gold dress she was wearing clung to
          her every curve,  lending her hair a rich burnished hue. The
          vee  of the  neck  line  exposing  her  deep  cleavage,  the
          slim-heeled sandals gave  her  that  touch of elegance Shaun
          had never seen before.

          A delicate tinge  of pink crept over Shaun's cheeks. She was
          powerless to stop  the tears that welled behind her eyes. It
          seemed as if  someone  had  taken  control of her voice. She
          wanted to shout  at  her  cousin, tell how much she had been
          hurt. The silence between them interminable.

          " I'm sorry  Shaun,"  Maureen  offered, " you must know that
          it's you I really love."

          Shaun desperately wanted  to  take her in her arms, tell her
          she had forgiven her.  She drew away from the door, ran into
          the bedroom, hurting,  deep  inside.  Crying with tears that
          flowed from already  swollen  lids.  She  turned to slam the
          bedroom  door,  but  Maureen  was  there  before  her,  arms
          outstretched to keep it open.

          Instead of falling into each others arms with regret for the
          months they had  been  separated, her behaviour had poisoned
          Maureen's intentions. Shaun  knew  it was all her fault, and
          turned her back  on her cousin as she sat on the edge of the

          " Shaun! -  Shaun!" Maureen pleaded, " please turn round and
          look at me.  You must know I have to get married. I need the
          security. The Hotel will only employ me now until the end of
          the  month.  This   is   my   only  chance.  Please  try  to

          She felt her  move close to her.  She kissed her forehead as
          her hands stroked  her  back. Shaun still refused to look at
          her cousin even  as  she  drew her round onto her back.  She
          lay with her  eyes  closed,  head  turned away, aware of the
          tears that flowed  down  her  cheeks  and her cousin's soft,
          warm caressing hands.   Maureen unbuttoned her shirt, gently
          removed her slacks  as she soothed her through the material,
          drawing her into  a  deep  pool  of  relaxation.  When  they
          kissed, even with  her  eyes  closed  tight Shaun was not an
          unwilling partner.

          The slow, enthralling  movements  of Maureen's hands and her
          warm soft lips on her neck and arms began to melt her anger.
          Even in their  most  tender  embrace it was always Shaun who
          led the way,  her  cousin content to follow. Now Maureen had
          taken over.

          There was a  sense  of  urgency  in  her  every movement. No
          waiting for Shaun  to  fondle  her breasts and thighs as she
          had in the past. This time she seemed desperate to reach her
          climax. Panic forced  Shaun  to  open  her eyes as Maureen's
          hands became suddenly still. She wanted to show her how much
          she could love her if only she would wait.  From the look of
          contentment and her  half  closed  eyes,  Shaun knew she had
          surpassed her.  Out  of  love,  despair,  disappointment she
          cradled Maureen in her arms.

          Her mind began  to  race.   If her cousin was going to marry
          this elderly farmer,  then surely there was no harm in their
          making love. They  could  meet at the cottage, even here, at
          the Hotel, perhaps  once  a  month,  -  once a week. Minutes
          later she dismissed the idea knowing it would not be fair.

          Maureen opened her  eyes  and  told Shaun how much she loved
          her. It was  the  words  she  really  wanted to hear. In the
          dimly lit bedroom  they  talked of their special love, which
          they knew could  go on for ever.  It was the reason, Maureen
          told she was still wearing her ring. While they talked Shaun
          believed it was true.

          Shaun stared into  the  darkness,  she  had tried so hard to
          find sleep. She  looked  for  a  long  time  at  her  cousin
          sleeping like a  child. The rise and fall of her chest, fist
          curled under her  cheek,  hair  spilled over the pillow.  In
          her sleep her  mouth  was  curved  in  a  smile,  a smile of
          content, of being  fulfilled. Shaun drew the covers over her
          shoulders and kissed her on the cheek.

          She tip-toed to the balcony, opened the curtains and watched
          the clouds passing  over  the  moon.  She  knew  that things
          between them would  never  be  the same, and listened to the
          voice inside her  that  had  told  so many times that a love
          like  theirs was  doomed  from  the  start.  There  was  she
          thought, no such thing as a love that lasted forever.

          She dressed, hurriedly  scribbled  a  loving note of goodbye
          and drove back to the city.

          Weeks later Maureen  sent  her  a  wedding invitation, and a
          note pleading with  her to attend. On the day of the wedding
          Shaun burnt all  her  cousin's letters, never wanting to see
          her again.