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Beanie’s Café in Malibu, Los Angeles.

SHAE’s phone bings and she mutes it and zips it into her bag.

HARPER: Ignoring your texts? Is it Drew?

SHAE: No. It’s Symbol. Sending more photos of Drew and Sienna. Drew says Sienna’s around for Finn’s sake—keeping him company.

HARPER: But still. Why doesn’t Drew make himself scarce?

SHAE: Finn’s stuck with a broken leg. Drew wouldn’t tell him he can’t have visitors—and Sienna’s taking advantage. Besides, Drew’s at work most days.

HARPER: Next time I’m in Sydney I’ll be having a word with that girl.

SHAE: Half the time the photos are nothing—Drew and Sienna happen to be in the same space. Symbol’s just torturing me.

HARPER: What’s this about Drew announcing your ‘un-engagement’?

SHAE grips a fist in one hand: Like he officially announced our engagement, he’s using the media to tell Symbol we’re not together.

HARPER: Will Symbol buy it?

SHAE: I guess he will. Drew’s been in Sydney without me for a while now…and will continue the charade for—

ANTON walks over with a notepad to take their order: Same as usual?

SHAE: What happened to your face, Anton. Are you okay?

HARPER: Unsatisfied customer beat you up Anton? Rude to the wrong person were you?


ANTON: Go where the pepper grows.

HARPER giggles: I’m right, aren’t I? Can’t say I’m surprised. Had to happen sooner or later.

{ANTON’s shoes squeak as he spins away from them}

SHAE: Poor guy. He’s harmless.

HARPER: Harmless and misunderstood. I know. But also rude and hateful.

SHAE: Got to say, with Drew and me being apart for so long, and Sienna hanging around. What if she wins him over? What if she has already?

HARPER: That makes no sense. He’d be putting her into danger instead of you. Nothing’s going to happen.

SHAE: Good point.

HARPER: When’s this friend of yours arriving anyway? Is she always so late?

SHAE: Yep. Pretty much.

ELLIE: Shoeless Shae! Mon Dieu! You look like shit.

SHAE: Well you don’t. Still my Ellie.

HARPER: Shoeless Shae?

ELLIE: Shae was always slipping off her shoes in school and getting in trouble. I’m Ellie. And you’re Harper. God, I need caffeine. Waiter!

HARPER grimaces: Anton won’t like that.

ELLIE: Like what? Hello darling boy. Can I get a lactose-free, double-shot cappuccino with the sugar on the side? And be an angel and make it extra hot.

ANTON: No need to pace around the hot porridge like a cat.

{ANTON stalks away}

ELLIE, mouth gaping: Did I say something wrong?

HARPER: No. It’s him, not you. When he comes back, be careful he doesn’t put the coffee in your lap though.

ELLIE: So Harps. What’s news? Where’s that gorgeous hunk of a man of yours?

SHAE: In Sydney still. Where he plans to stay.

{HARPER’s phone pings. She reads the text, her eyebrows getting higher with each word}

ELLIE: Work keeping Drew busy?

SHAE: Something like that.


HARPER: It’s done. The announcement. Colt just texted me a headline from the Sydney Morning Herald. Do you want to see it?

SHAE: Nope.

ELLIE: What’s going on?

SHAE: I’m officially not engaged anymore.

ELLIE: You split up? Why? No way. Not after everything you two have been through. You nearly died for each other on the Pacific, like 10 times.

SHAE: I don’t really want to talk about it right now. It’s complicated. But what’s up in your life?

ELLIE: You know—hating college, loving Charlie, hating living at home still. Talking of which—how’s your mom?

SHAE: Not good. She’s been diagnosed with bi-polar. She’s in a treatment centre.

ELLIE: That’s so not good. I’m sorry, Shae. Bit of a tough time for you, eh? Don’t worry—Auntie Ellie will save the day.

SHAE: And how do you plan to do that? Don’t say by getting me drunk and dragging me to a party. I’m not going there with you again.

ELLIE: There’s only one cure for ma petite cherie. Where’s Sassy Jam? You always said you’d rather cuddle a boat than a boy—so?

SHAE: She’s moored at Drew’s jetty. Better get her moved.

ELLIE giggles: Before you get into a custody battle over the boat…

ANTON: Your order

ELLIE: Sorry, waiter, if I—

{ANTON holds up a hand to indicate ELLIE should stop talking. Then walks away}

ELLIE: Okaaaaay. So he’s not weird.

HARPER stares at her phone wide-eyed: Oh my god. Colt’s had a car accident. He’s fine. Just all shook up. But still…

SHAE: If this has anything to do with Symbol I’m going to jump off the edge of the planet.

HARPER: If it has anything to do with Symbol I’m going to turn his head into a tennis ball on my racket.

ELLIE: Who the hell is Symbol?

SHAE/HARPER: That’s what we’d like to know.

Payback is published every Sunday and Thursday at 6pm EST. That's Monday and Friday mornings for the Aussies. Love your comments below or plot suggestions.

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