Rosie spent the first hour of the morning developing the spreadsheet he’d asked for, inserting all of the bookings they had on hand, detailing loads and destinations, mileages and driver hours, tweaking and adjusting until she was happy that it would record all of the details they needed in an easily accessible form. Only when she was completely happy did she show it to Adam.“That’s great, sis. And you’ve put it on my laptop, and we can share the information?”“Yes, they’ll track each other so they’re always the same.”“Terrific! I’ll really feel I know what I’m doing now.”The phone rang and he snatched it up.“Willson’s Haulage Adam Willson speaking.”Rosie listened in for a moment, long enough to figure out that a client needed a load of pallets collecting and delivering. Adam nestled the receiver between his ear and his shoulder and drew the laptop towards him. He tapped away, and gave her a thumbs-up as the spreadsheet she had prepared opened up.“Yes, that’s no problem, Mr Giles.”Rosie listened as Adam dealt with the query with an easy competence.“So, how did I sound?” he asked when he hung up.“Great!” she assured him. “Look, do you think you could manage on your own for an hour or so? I need to pop out to the bank and the post office. I’ve found some bills and payments that we really should get moving.”“Of course. Now that I’ve got this baby to keep me right.” He patted the laptop as if it held the answer to everything.“I’ll have my mobile with me, so if there’s anything you’re not sure of . . .” But he was already waving his hand dismissively.“I’ll be fine. Stop fussing!”Suitably chastised, Rosie grabbed her coat and headed for the door.The errands she had to run didn’t take more than 30 minutes, but given last night’s conversation, she was unusually reluctant to head back to the office.So she took herself off to her favourite little caf and made some phone calls of her own. First priority was the hairdresser to make a long-overdue appointment for a tidy-up.Rosie sipped her coffee thoughtfully. It seemed so long since she’d had time to think like this. It was as her thoughts stilled a bit that she remembered Alan’s worries. She might just give him a ring.Alan picked up almost immediately.“Good morning, ‘Sandford Gazette’ news desk.”“Hi, it’s me! As per Mum’s instructions, I’ve left Adam flying solo for a bit. How’s your day going?”She heard Alan’s intake of breath and his voice lowered. Plainly he didn’t want to be overheard.“Um, fine. The rumour mill’s in full swing everyone’s pretty edgy. I can’t really talk about it right now, love.”“Of course. But try not to worry, Alan. You’re a great reporter. They’d be crazy to get rid of you.”“Maybe.” But he sounded doubtful and she could understand his fear. “I’ll see you later.” As he hung up, she sighed, her mind drifting back to that last perfect weekend. It seemed a lifetime ago.It was funny how life could drift along without any real drama or incident, and now suddenly it was if a chill wind had blown through to ripple its surface and buffet them all slightly off course.I just hope it is only a squall and not a full-blown hurricane, she thought to herself.She glanced at her wristwatch, her thoughts again returning to Adam. Time to get back.
The office was quiet, and when she peeped in he was immersed in a filing cabinet, checking correspondence and contracts. She didn’t disturb him, instead returning to her desk, and bringing up the new spreadsheet on her computer screen.She scanned it quickly and saw that Adam had been busy, making several bookings of loads that clients needed moving around the area.It all looked fine except . . . She felt a prickle at the back of her neck. He had a load going north and another coming south at the same time in the same truck! She double-checked that there hadn’t been a cancellation but no, there was definitely a mistake.She checked the logs. They couldn’t afford to let this client down he was one of their best customers. She flipped back and forth between the logs of drivers and trucks, mentally juggling hours and mileages. Then she went into the office to see Adam.He looked up, grinning widely.“The phone went non-stop while you were out, but I fielded all the calls, made a few bookings. You know, I think I’ve got this sussed!”“That’s great, Adam. I had a quick peek at the sheet and it’s all pretty good, except for one point ” She slid his laptop round so that she could tap at the keys, then swivelled it back to show him.“Here, see? We need two trucks for these two jobs.”His eyes widened as he scanned the columns, then he looked back up at her, his face pale.“Oh, sis, I can’t do this!” She saw his fragile new confidence deflate like a balloon. “What was Mum thinking when she asked me? It should be you sitting at this desk!”