The Factory Girls – Episode 26

“Found what?” Carol asked.“The answer! We’ve found the answer to our problems . . . or we think we have. It was just like Jonathan said. There’s a clause in here, thirteen b, that says the building must be ‘preserved for community use’.”Helen banged the contract down on the table and everyone leaned eagerly in to see where she was pointing. Jonathan felt a twinge of hope. If the factory stayed open his “options” could remain a secret.“But what does that mean, ‘preserved for the community’?” Shelley asked, running a scarlet fingernail along the words.“Not sure yet,” Helen replied, “but it sounds like the building couldn’t be sold off for private development. Jonathan?”Jonathan jumped.“I’m not a lawyer,” he began hastily as all eyes swivelled his way, “but I doubt it.”“And if it can’t be sold off for development,” Helen went on triumphantly, “they might as well keep it open as a factory, mightn’t they?”She glanced at Dana, who also leaned eagerly forward.“It looks good, don’t you think?”Jonathan drew in a deep breath and met her eyes, her lovely, silver-grey eyes, looking so trustingly at him.“It’s definitely what we hoped for,” he agreed. “Look, my brother, Matt, is a lawyer. I’ll call him and see if he knows any more about it.”“Great!” Carol was as eager as the rest. “And if it’s good news I’ll call Frank.”Jonathan flinched at his boss’s name and leaped hastily to his feet. As he pulled out his mobile to call Matt, however, he saw a text message had come in. I’ve arranged factory tour. Talk next week. Frank. It felt as if the words were projecting themselves on to the wall for everyone to see. Hastily he flicked to his contacts and called up his brother’s number, excusing himself gratefully from the office.“Matt? It’s me.”“Jonnie! How you doing?”“Not bad, thanks.”“How’s the factory, then, mate? Still tangled up in knickers?”That was the other thing Matt did make endless unfunny jokes. “Lots,” he agreed wearily. “Look, Matt, I’ve a quick question for you.”“A law one?”“Yes.”“For you, fifty quid, little bro!”Jonathan waited until the self-satisfied chuckle had died down before posing his question. “Preserved for the community?” Matt repeated, sounding serious at last. “That’s quite a rare one. Interesting. Why do you want to know?”Jonathan sought for the words. He didn’t want Matt to know the factory was under threat.“Just a building a friend’s considering buying.”“Oh, dear, no. Tell them not to touch it with a barge pole, not unless they’re planning on using it as a business premises offering considerable local employment, or for some sort of service.”“Like what?”“A hostel or a youth centre, that sort of thing. A school; a church. Your mate’s not wanting to start up a church, is he?” The irony was not lost on Jonathan but his brother was moving on. “Or is it a she, Jonnie-boy? Have you got yourself a girlfriend up there in the countryside?”“No.”“Yes, you have! Good on you. Not a factory girl, is she, eh?”Jonathan could take no more.“What would be so bad about that? You’re such a snob, Matt!”“OK, OK. Sorry. Date who you like.”“I’m not . . .” Jonathan glanced back to the open office door and caught sight of Dana. She was flicking back her hair and laughing at something Helen had said, and she looked gorgeous. “Never mind,” he said abruptly. He wasn’t about to explain himself to his brother. “Thanks for the help, Matt.”“No problem. You take care of yourself and I’ll see you soon, right?”“Right,” Jonathan agreed, though they both knew it was a lie.He turned determinedly back to the committee.“Good news,” he said and was rewarded by beaming smiles all round.


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