Cally shook her head and without thinking leaned against the wet fence. Marna went to point it out, but Cally was speaking again and she didn’t want to stop her.
“I never have. I’ve been very lucky with my boyfriends. But none of them ever mattered as much to me as Tim does. I’m just too scared of it going wrong. It’s making me look for problems that aren’t there.”
“Speaking of problems, this one very definitely is there. Do you think that’ll wash out?” Marna pointed to the broad reddish-brown stripe down the side of Cally’s blue denims and pale blue sweatshirt.
Cally twisted round to see and looked back at Marna, rolling her eyes, and then the pair of them were giggling helplessly.
That was when Tim drove into the yard and strolled towards them.
“I thought there was a crisis? You two look like you’re having far too much fun for that! Don’t tell me – you’ve fixed your computer?”
“I wish! No, we just decided to leave it on its own for a bit and see if it’ll come out of its huff,” Cally explained, as if it was the only rational course of action.
Tim laughed and turned to the lean young man who had followed him, unnoticed by Cally or Marna.
“Now there’s a woman’s answer to a computer problem,” Tim said, and ducked as the two girls feigned deep offence and swiped at him.
“Now, now, that’s no way to treat your computer cavalry. Cally, Marna, I’d like you to meet Wayne, who might just be the answer to your prayers.”
Wayne, he explained, had been one of his comrades on his last tour, and had been invalided out at the same time as him – the result of a different IED blast.
“Lost an arm,” Wayne said matter-of-factly, and raised his left arm, which they could now see was a prosthetic limb.
“Fortunately,” Tim went on, “none of that affected his skills with taking apart a computer.”
“Though my touch-typing isn’t what it was!” Wayne added wryly. “So, Tim tells me you have a bit of a problem? I could take a look, if you like.”
“Right this way,” Marna said briskly and led him off towards the office.
“I remembered Wayne fixed an old laptop for one of the guys and that he moved near here when he came back. I gave him a ring and went straight round to pick him up.”
Cally couldn’t help herself. She flung her arms around his neck, almost knocking him over.
“I could kiss you,” she said.
“Feel free,” he replied, wrapping his arms around her. “But best wait to see what Wayne can do first.”
By the time Cally and Tim followed Wayne and Marna into the office, Wayne had somehow managed to get the computer screen to show lots of lines of text and was reading them intently.
He nodded and clicked a few keys, and read some more, and then clicked again, and miraculously the screen was transformed to show the familiar desktop picture with all the usual icons.
“Yes!” Marna squealed.
“Oh, thank goodness!” Cally groaned with relief.
“We’ll just check you can get into your e-mails,” Wayne said, and another click revealed the packed mailbox that had caused Cally such excitement earlier.
“Great. It’s working for now, but if I were you,” Wayne said, a warning note in his voice, “I’d –”
“Back it up! You can bet I will,” Cally finished for him.
The two men stayed chatting for a bit longer, then left in Tim’s car.
“I’ll ring you later to check it’s still working,” Tim said as he clipped on his seat belt.
“Great. Thanks again.”
“Nice guy, that Wayne,” Marna observed as they headed back into the office. “I might sabotage the computer so that he has to come back.”
“Don’t you dare!” Cally burst out. “If you want to see him again, get his number from Tim!”