Rosie felt a prickle at the back of her neck. She suddenly had a bad feeling about this.“Well, of course,” Joyce was saying. “You see that now, don’t you? You said yourself that you’ve enjoyed it.”“Enjoying it and wanting to run the company for good are different matters.” He stood up, grasping his jacket from where he’d draped it over the back of the chair.“I’m sorry, Mum, but, if anything, this spell in charge has shown me that it’s not for me. Rosie’s the one you want, not me.”As he walked out, closing the door firmly behind him, Rosie stared after him, then glanced at her mother.“Well, that went well,” she said with heavy irony.Joyce looked stricken.“I wasn’t sure what his reaction would be, but I never contemplated this.”For a few minutes the only sound in the silent kitchen was the wall clock ticking steadily. Rosie listened to it, and with every tick her anger at her brother seemed to build.“So where does this leave me?” she said at last, and Joyce sighed.“Oh, love, I hate to ask, but can you keep things going in the meantime?”“I don’t believe this,” Rosie finally exploded, and Joyce winced. “He’s doing it again, isn’t he? Just like when he bailed out on this family and swanned off with his backpack. It’s ridiculous! He hasn’t grown up a bit!”“Rosie,” Joyce began, but Rosie had only been drawing breath.“Of all the selfish . . . Never mind about my plans! What about college? What about my dreams?”“I’m so sorry, love.” Distraught, Joyce dabbed at her eyes.“Oh, Mum, please don’t cry. You know I wouldn’t ever let you down. Not like my selfish brother, thinking only of himself. I tell you, he’d better not turn up tomorrow or I won’t be responsible for my actions!”Sure enough Adam didn’t show up for work next day, but Rosie was too angry and too busy to care. It was the first time for weeks that she had had the office to herself, and at once she could see that some important things had slipped. Adam had put a brave face on it, and there was no disputing that some of his new ideas were sheer genius, but she could see that his inexperience had led to more mistakes than she had realised.There was nothing drastic, nothing that would ruin the company by itself, but she could see where the traitor in their ranks whoever he might turn out to be had been finding his ammunition.“You’ve left us in a mess, Adam, and no mistake.”But her mother felt so bad already, there was no way she was going to burden her with any more worries. She would keep this to herself.What Rosie didn’t know as she toiled over the balance sheets and booking logs was that Joyce had woken up that morning determined to do everything she could to help her oldest daughter in any way possible. It was against her nature to be the weak one in the family.So, after a busy day setting her own home in order, Joyce took herself over to her daughter’s just as her grandchildren were coming in from school.“Gran!” Jodie greeted her delightedly, planting a kiss on her cheek. “Didn’t expect to see you!” The girl shrugged off her school blazer and went straight to the bread bin. “Is it OK if I have some toast?”“Won’t it spoil your supper?” Joyce fretted.Jodie shrugged.“Mum’s not usually in till late. I’d starve if I had to wait till then.”Joyce felt a stab of guilt.“We can’t have that. Toast coming right up, then. Where’s your brother?”“Probably gone upstairs to log on to his computer. He’s permanently connected these days.”Joyce recalled Rosie’s comment about the boy not doing his homework.“I thought your mum and dad insisted on no play till homework’s done?”Jodie batted the slice of hot toasted bread between her fingers as she carried it to the plate Joyce had laid out, then reached into the fridge for the butter.“That was always the deal,” she acknowledged, “but with Mum working such long hours, and Dad, too, just now with the changes at the paper . . . Well, Ryan’s not going to listen to me when I tell him, is he?”“Maybe not,” Joyce acknowledged, straightening up, “but I don’t think he’d dare argue with me.” She headed up the stairs to Ryan’s room.As Jodie had predicted the boy was on his computer, playing some game. He hadn’t even taken off his jacket, and his schoolbag still lay where it had fallen.“Ryan, please close that down and get started on your homework.”Ryan looked round in surprise.“Gran, no-one said you were coming over. I just want to do this one thing.”“No, Ryan. I told you to close it down now. In case it’s escaped your notice, your mother and father have a lot on their plates at the moment, and I want you to do everything you can to help them. And that means doing as you’re told without having to be told twice and three times.”Ryan’s mouth was hanging open. This was a different Gran from the kindly, softly spoken woman he was used to. But Martin Willson would have recognised her as the strong, determined wife he had married.“So, close down your computer, change out of your school clothes, then do your homework before supper, and then you can play those computer games, all right?”“Yes, Gran,” he said meekly, and Joyce smiled to herself as she closed the door on him.