Keep It In The Family – Episode 32

It was pouring with rain outside, but the coffee shop was cosy, its steamed-up windows cocooning its customers against the storm. Adam was in his old place at the counter, restocking the shelves behind with the packs of continental coffees that Freya had introduced, while Freya herself worked her way steadily around the waiting tables.She knew most of her regulars now and stopped for a word here and a laugh there as she took or delivered their orders.She had assumed Adam would go back to work at Willson’s, but although he had thrown himself wholeheartedly into tackling the recent crisis, he hadn’t yet committed himself one way or the other.“I know I can’t keep changing my mind,” he’d told her when she questioned him about it. “It’s not fair to anyone, least of all Rosie. So, whatever I do, I’m not going to do or say anything until I’m absolutely sure that it’s what I want.”Freya knew how it was weighing on his mind and they had discussed it endlessly, but the decision had to be his alone. All she could do was support him in it.In the meantime, he was doing occasional shifts at the coffee shop and seemed to be trying his best not to tread on her toes.“I know you’ve made the place your own,” he conceded.She joined him behind the counter while he set up the next order for four assorted coffees.“Latte, macchiato remember the good old days when it just came in white, brown or black?” he asked wistfully, and she chuckled.“Me? No, no idea what you’re talking about. Is that how they did it way back when you were young?” she teased, and he playfully flicked a coffee bean at her.“Cheeky!” Freya was nine years younger than him but it honestly never crossed their minds unless they were making a joke of it like this. For all her flaky exterior and she knew that was how most people viewed her, including Adam’s family Freya had a mature, sensible head on her shoulders, and loved challenging people’s perceptions of her.She had seen it happen time and time again, like with the success she had made of her market stall, and this coffee shop, and even with the ideas she was contributing now to saving Willson’s. She had a real business brain and relished the chance to exercise it.“Are you going in tomorrow?” she asked Adam now.“Yes. The new truck livery Sarah designed is being unveiled and she’s arranged for some press coverage. She wants all of us there to make the point that we’re an old established family firm that customers can trust.”“That’s a great idea. Sarah’s really good at this stuff, isn’t she?”Adam nodded, still slightly surprised at the way his little sister was masterminding such an extensive operation. She had incorporated the new logo and the firm’s current distinctive purple and green paintwork into a striking new look for every truck in the fleet.“But she couldn’t do it without your help,” he added quickly, giving Freya a quick kiss under cover of the coffee machine gurgling before them.“Right, four coffees ready to go,” he announced, placing them carefully on a tray. “For the table by the window? I’ll take them over while you get yourself a cuppa.”While she made herself her usual cup of Earl Grey, Freya watched Adam deliver the coffees, making sure the four lady customers had everything they needed before he rejoined her. But when he came to stand beside her he was frowning, and seemed to be keeping his back deliberately to the table he had just served.“Don’t let them see you looking, but the ladies I just served are they regulars?” he muttered.Freya peeped over his shoulder at the group of young women.“Yes, they’re in here most days. Why?”“I think I’ve just found our spy,” he said darkly.“What? You mean the person who’s been talking about Willson’s is one of them? But who are they?”He moved slightly to peer back over his shoulder.“You see the girl in the green jacket? I’m sure she’s the daughter of Ted Baker, one of our ex-drivers. He was off sick a lot and she used to come in for his wages. He finally left us a few months back. I don’t know the whole story, but I don’t think we were sorry to let him go.“When I took the coffees over to the table, she gave me a funny look, as though she was embarrassed about something. It could be because he left us for Radley’s or . . .”“ . . . or it could be because she’s been eavesdropping on all our conversations here and reporting back to her dad,” Freya finished, following his train of thought.“We’ve all been talking a lot about the business lately, me as much as anyone, and I know I’ve never been particularly discreet about it. I didn’t think there was any need here.”Freya was remembering all the times he had come here to unwind, to talk about work, to ask her advice about a problem he’d had, and if this girl had overheard even half of it, it would have given her plenty of ammunition to use against them.Adam suddenly looked stricken.“And I blamed Paul! When it was my fault all along! I guess I have some apologising to do.”


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