Alan opened the front door and stood in the hallway for a moment, trying to figure out why things felt different. Then he realised it was the voices coming from the kitchen; Ryan’s, Jodie’s and Rosie’s.He checked his watch. Rosie home? At this time? What did that mean?He dropped his briefcase and went through to the back of the house where the cosy kitchen looked out on to the garden. Rosie was at the fridge, the door open wide, chatting to Jodie and Ryan at the table behind her.“. . . loads of eggs,” she was saying, “if anyone fancies omelettes. I should have taken some meat out the freezer this morning.” She glanced round and saw Alan and gave him one of those smiles that even now, after all these years, made his heart glow.“Hi! What do you fancy for supper?”“This is a nice surprise,” he returned. “Are you playing hookey?”“I’ve had the most amazing day,” she told him. “But that can wait. How did the meeting go?”Over breakfast that morning he had reminded her that he had what he assumed would be a crunch meeting with his editor today, and he hadn’t been able to hide how worried about it he was, even though he’d hated to burden her when things were so unsettled at Willson’s.With her typical philosophical outlook, she had said, “What will be will be. We can’t change decisions that are out of our hands. I know you’re a great reporter, and I’m sure the paper does, too. Just remember that, Alan.”She had made his favourite egg mayonnaise sandwiches for him as usual, and given him an extra kiss as she waved him off, and her support had bolstered him as the meeting time drew near.He had been third on the interview schedule, and had hardly dared watch as the two before him disappeared into the editor’s office at their appointed times, and emerged after around 20 minutes each, ashen-faced, but plainly with instructions to say nothing.Sweaty palmed, Alan had taken his turn.“So, what happened?” Rosie pressed him now, putting a mug of coffee in front of him on the table and pushing the sugar dish towards him. Jodie and Ryan were quiet.“Not what I expected,” he admitted, spooning and stirring. “They’re combining the reporting staff of the ‘Gazette’ and the ‘Standard’ into one pool of reporters writing for both. It means laying off three of the eight staff.”The news dropped into a fraught silence. He let the suspense build for only a moment; any longer would have been too cruel.“But the good news for us is, I got a promotion,” he said simply, and Rosie squealed.“A promotion! Not a redundancy package? Wow, that’s fantastic!”“Way to go, Dad,” Ryan joined in while Jodie jumped up to fling her arms round his neck. The whole family had felt the tension of the last few weeks at the paper hanging over them.“So what’s the job?” Rosie asked, grasping his hand and squeezing.“Chief reporter in charge of the new team. More responsibility, of course. I’ll be what they call a line manager. It means a pay bump, too, but the important thing is I get a new contract and the job’s secure.”He felt the tense squeeze of Rosie’s hand relax at last.“That’s wonderful news, love. You must be so relieved. I know it’s been a tough time for you.”“For you, too. I can’t have been much fun while this was hanging over me. But now things are looking up, let’s celebrate. How about fish and chips all round?”“With mushy peas?” Jodie asked.“And pickled onions?” Ryan added.“The works!” Alan told them.“Yay!” The kids cheered, and Alan leaned over to give Rosie another kiss.“And then you can tell me all about your day . . .” he finished, standing up and plucking his car keys from the array of hooks by the door.