Walking with Eddie, she thought. Listening to music with Eddie; doing the crossword with Eddie; sharing a bottle of wine with Eddie . . .“Pathetic woman!” she snapped, adding ruefully, “Nearly as pathetic as talking to yourself.”The truth was that, outside of work, she’d been quite content to let her husband drive their life; to choose their holidays, plan their walks and buy their music. It wasn’t that she’d done those things just for him she’d genuinely enjoyed all of them. She just wasn’t any good at initiating.Carol looked again at the tangled mess that had once been Eddie’s rockery. She should sort it out. She could manage a bit of simple cutting back, surely? Somehow, though, she couldn’t get her feet to move across the rising grass and make a start. Perhaps she should employ a lad. There were plenty kicking about Deveroe, bless them. Then she remembered that to employ someone you needed money, and with no wage hers was about to run out. Or was it? It was Tuesday evening, and tomorrow Frank was taking her and Jonathan to this fancy factory in Manchester Moonbright Textiles. He seemed determined to persuade her into working there, but she knew she’d hate it. Nasty, soulless place in the heart of a careless city? Not her scene at all. She shouldn’t have agreed to go, but Frank could be so persuasive at times.The doorbell ringing made her jump in panic. Had Frank come a whole 12 hours early? Hardly. Collecting herself, she moved gratefully out of the rampant garden and made for the front door.“Helen! Come in, come in.” Her shift supervisor looked flushed and awkward as Carol hustled her into the living-room. “Cup of tea?”Helen shook her head.“No, thank you. I can’t stay. I just, that is . . . I know this is a vital time for Cardill’s, and my job is really important to me, honest. But . . .”Carol placed a hand on the younger woman’s shoulder.“Helen, I know what a good employee you are. Just tell me what the problem is.”Helen took a deep breath.“It’s Kevin.”“Kevin? Is he ill?”“No. Nothing like that. He’s got a job.”“That’s great.”“Yes . . . and no. He’s doing really well, but now he wants to go in early to impress the boss.”“And you’re on the six to two shift, so there would be no-one at home to look after the kids?”“Yes. I’m really sorry, Carol. I’d ask my mum, but with Dad so poorly she struggles to get out in the mornings, and Kevin’s parents are on holiday. I’d get Kev to drop the children with one of the other mums, but he says he can’t do that and get to work in the right ‘frame of mind’, whatever that means. And he says, he says . . .” She gulped. “He says what difference does it make if I let Cardill’s down when it’s shutting next week?”Carol sighed.“He has a point, Helen.” “But the T-shirts, the media!”“It’s a long shot. You know that.”Helen stared up at Carol, reproach in her brown eyes.“I’m not giving up, really I’m not, Helen, but don’t blame Kevin for the way he sees it. Look, what time does he have to leave?”“Eight.”“Eight? Easy! I’ll make sure I’m in by then and you can pop home for an hour.”Helen gazed at her as if she was some sort of miracle-worker.“Really?”“Really. We didn’t get our ‘flexible employer’ accreditation for nothing, you know!”“Oh, Carol, thank you! That’ll make things so much easier at home.”“Bit tense?”“Like you wouldn’t believe, but we’ll get through it. Thanks again.”Carol showed her to the door wishing all problems were so easily solved. The garden, for example.“You’ve got an hour or two to spare now,” a little voice said in her head, but she ignored it. She had to go to this dratted factory tomorrow and there was no way she was turning up with soil under her nails!