A week later….
Bea was sitting in her office, her morning had been a blur of meetings and now her afternoon was full of nothing but reading through finance reports, investment reports and signing yet more documents. As much as she loved how far she'd got she dreaded days like these and the only thing that would ever give her any relief from the monotony were the emails that her and Franky would exchange throughout the day. She was just settling back in her chair with yet another report when she received an email, tossing the report on her desk she was thankful for Franky, she had great timing sometimes. She wasn't paying a great deal of attention to who the sender was as she opened the email until she suddenly realized that it wasn't from Franky.
TO: Bea Smith
FROM: Allie Novak
SUBJECT: Finance and Strategy
I just read the article you wrote on the subject above and I just wanted to say thank you for sharing your thoughts, I found it most informative.
As a member of a busy finance team I personally found your ideas inspiring and I intend to share your article with the rest of my department.
If you have any other ideas you wouldn't mind sharing I'd be more than happy to hear them.
After reading and then rereading it she was stumped for a few moments she didn't remember writing an article for anything, a tap on the door and Maxine's head appearing brought her out of her thoughts.
“Bea have you signed off on that document I brought you half an hour ago I really need it now, the directors in a bad mood today and you know what that means?”
“Hmmmm, yer I have…….Maxi do you ever recall me writing an article on finance and strategy?”
“You don't remember that? It was about two months ago, you were asked to write a piece for ‘The Australian Journal of Financial Planning,’ you've been really busy though so I'm not surprised you've forgotten.”
“I'm always too busy, sometimes I don’t think I even have enough time to spend with Debbie.”
“I know hun you do your best, what made you ask about that article?”
“Oh, I just got an email from Allie, you know Franky's friend.”
“Ahhh, I see, well thanks for this I better get it passed on straight away.”
Maxine rushed out of her office, She wanted to ask more about the email but just didn't have the time right then, she wondered if she should tell Bea that she had given one of her spare business cards that she always carried to Allie. Bea still couldn't recall what she had written and decided that she was just going to have to track down a copy of the journal Maxine had mentioned but she had so much work to get through she didn't have the time and went back to the report she had been reading.
The rest of the afternoon passed in the usual blur and Bea felt like she might fall asleep at any minute when Franky walked straight into her office without knocking.
“Why the hell are ya still sitting here, Debs gonna forget what her mum looks like at this rate?”
“You forget how to knock?” Bea asked peering over the report she was reading.
“Since it's gone six and almost everyone else has gone home I didn't see the point.”
Bea threw the papers that she was holding down on her desk and suddenly remembered that she never replied to Allies email. And if that wasn't bad enough it was Friday and Franky always had dinner with her and Debbie on Friday night. Franky just watched on from the doorway as Bea started typing.
TO: Allie Novak
FROM: Bea Smith
SUBJECT: Finance and Strategy
Firstly I must apologise for taking so long to respond, things are crazy at work.
I have to be honest I really don't recall writing the article you have read but I will track down a copy of the journal Maxine says I wrote it for.
I have plenty of ideas that may be of use to you and I'm happy to discuss them with you, or if you have any specific finance related issues that you would like help with don't hesitate to email me.
“Are ya finished now, I'm starvin?”
“Yes Franky, do you realize how much you sound like Debbie?”
“What do ya expect, ya know she's half mine so stop with the complainin and let's get outta here, Liz ain't gonna be happy if we leave her there much longer.”
“Liz would keep her if I'd let her we both know that.”
Bea was more than grateful to have Liz, she left the salon in Boomers capable hands everyday so she could pick Debbie up from school and took her home with her, Bea had offered to pay her countless times and she had always refused saying that knowing Debbie was safe and happy was more than payment enough.
The next week started out much the same, she exchanged a couple of emails with Allie for the first couple of days, on Wednesday Bea had sent a reply to a question that Allie had asked the previous day and she'd checked her inbox countless times but there wasn't anything from Allie. She guessed that she was probably busy and tried not to think too much about it. By Thursday afternoon she started to get worried and deciding to ask Franky for Allies mobile number probably wasn't the best idea she'd ever had but she wanted to know if she was alright.
“Hold on, hold on…..why are ya askin me for Allies number?”
“Fuck sake Franky does it matter?”
“It does if ya want her number, I'm not in the habit of givin other people's numbers out, tell me why ya want it and I'll think about it.”
“I haven't had a reply to an email I sent her and I just wanted to check that she's ok, now can I have her number?”
Franky looked at a Bea with a quizzical raised eyebrow, Bea hadn't mentioned any emails before and she'd spoken to Allie earlier that day and she certainly hadn't mentioned anything, not that she would Franky knew that, she was having a hard time and like most phone calls they shared they were more one sided than anything. Allie needed someone to talk to but would never take Franky's advice so Franky had given up trying to give her any and just listened. She wasn't even sure it was good idea to give Bea her number, Allie had told her a couple of weeks ago that she was sure Jess was checking her phone whenever she left it laying around, and Allie always left her phone laying around, generally she would put it down and then couldn't find it. To begin with she just thought she was tired and forgot where she had left it but when it turned up in a place in the house she was sure she hadn't even been she was sure it was Jess who was leaving it in strange places after she'd gone through it.
“Ya know she has a very possessive girlfriend don't ya?”
“What does that have to do with anything? I just want to know if she received that email?”
Franky scribbled the number down on a piece of paper and passed it to Bea who snatched it from her before walking out of her office. Returning to her own office she was snowed under with work but fired a quick text off to Allie before she returned her attention back to her computer screen.
Hey Allie did you receive the email I sent you? Bea
Allie was sitting at her desk, she had hoped that Bea would have answered her but a full day had passed and no answer to her question. ‘Maybe she's really too busy to answer,’ she had thought to herself. ‘Why would a CEO have time for you,’ she chastised herself. She tried to get on with her work but she really couldn't get Bea out of her mind. Franky was right and she knew it, but she had to let those feelings go right? She was with Jess even though she sometimes wondered why, she saved her from a life of loneliness that now was unimaginable to her but she knew that she hadn't fallen in love with her she grew to love her and that was the problem now, she wasn't sure she wanted to stay with her. She demanded every second of her time, messaged her every chance she got and Allie was just tired of it, when they argued she gave into her demands, that wasn't what she wanted. Her phone chimed indicating she had a text dragged her back to the present. When Maxine had passed her Beas business card she'd put her phone numbers in her phone that night, not that she had intended to ever call or text her, but looking at her phone right now it was Bea, her heart pounded, how had Bea even got her number? Reading the text it was obvious that Bea had in fact answered her email, it had just got lost somewhere in cyber space. She didn't want Bea to think that she was ignoring her but she also didn't want her to think she was too keen to answer either, putting her phone down on the desk in front of her she held out for no more than a minute before she picked it back up and quickly typed out a short reply.
I didn't receive your email, sorry. Allie
Placing her phone back on her desk she didn't expect to hear from her anytime soon and tried getting on with what she was meant to be working on. She'd already had a bad morning before she got to work, Jess had accused her of being distant and not talking to her, Allie didn't think she was being distant but she knew she was trying not to talk to her, everything always had to be about her, if the whole universe wasn't revolving around her and what she had to say then it must be conspiring against her. When her phone chimed again her whole face lit up when she saw it was from Bea.
Had to happen I guess, hope you don't mind I asked Franky for your number.
I bet Franky loved that….how inappropriate was she when you asked?
Strangely she didn't say anything, except that you have a possessive girlfriend, should I be worried?
She doesn't own me you know! She just likes to think she does.
Guess I know how that feels. I have to get to a meeting, I'll resend the email later.
Allie sat at her desk for the remainder of the day in a world of her own, she could not believe that Bea had gone to the trouble of asking Franky for her number, she was even more surprised that Franky had actually given it to her, not that she was going to complain, she'd reread the texts they had sent each other at least fifty times and she knew she was going to have to delete them.
Bea was not happy, this meeting was going to be the death of her she was sure of that, just when she thought it was going to be wound up someone had to bring something else to the table and then it had to be fully discussed and all she wanted to do was escape. To make matters worse Franky in her role as head of the legal department just had to be in this meeting sat right across the boardroom table from her. Bea tried not to look at her too often but every time she did Franky's eyes were on her and she knew what she was thinking, she still wanted to know why she'd asked for Allies number even though what she'd told her had been the truth she knew Franky wasn't going to believe that, she was Franky after all. Why should she care what Franky thought anyway, she had been worried when she hadn't had a response to the email she'd sent, but if it hadn't have been for the meeting she was now desperate to escape she'd probably have spent the better part of the day texting back and forth, there was nothing in it, Franky was always telling her that she should have more friends, and Allie wasn't a complete stranger to her, she'd never gotten to know her well but maybe she thought she should change that.
When the meeting was finally over Franky had left before she had which she was glad about until the director wanted to speak to her and she found herself having to agree to going to Perth for a conference the following week, Debbie was going to love that! But there was nothing she could do about it, she was lucky really she didn't get asked to go anywhere very often, the director had always been more than understanding when she'd spoken to him about her home situation when she'd been promoted to CEO. Leaving the boardroom she found Franky leaning against the wall waiting for her.
“Yes, seems she didn't receive the email I sent her.”
“And why are ya emailing each other?”
“She read an article I had written and she found it useful ok, anymore questions or can I go back to my office now?”
“Sure Red, but ya know girlfriend or not she's still into ya, drove me round the twist when she was a kid always talkin about Bea this and Bea that.”
“And like you said she has a girlfriend and I'm straight, now can we just drop it?”
Franky shrugged as she pushed herself off the wall winking at her, she knew Franky wasn't going to let it drop anytime soon. After returning to her office she decided that she'd better call Liz and ask her if she minded having Debbie over for a couple of days, this was going to cost her she knew that, the few times she'd had to go away in the past Debbie had always ended up getting something she wanted, the last time it cost her a new tv for Debbie's bedroom. Liz agreed without any hesitation, not that Bea was surprised by that, Liz loved spending time with Debbie, it was the spoiling Debbie she sometimes had a problem with. Turning her attention back to her computer she resent the email to Allie before sending her a text.
I resent you that email, let me know if it arrives this time. How's the rest of your day been?
You want an honest answer? It's been crap, why do I always get everything dumped on me? How did your meeting go?
Don't ask, thought it was never going to end, and to add to that I now have to go to Perth next week for a conference. I'm going to be buried up to my eyeballs in paperwork tomorrow and now I have to face rush hour traffic.
I hope you're not texting and driving, I'll either have to kill you or haunt you if you are cos I'm pretty sure all the work I have to get through is going to be the death of me.
I wasn't driving and I'm not now, just about to leave the office, don't let it get you down too much.
I'll try, your email arrived this time, I'll read it later if I get the time. Funnily enough I'm just about to leave the office, have to pick Jess up since her cars in the garage.
When Bea finally made it to her car she found Franky sitting on the bonnet suspecting that she was only waiting for her so that she could continue questioning her about Allie, taking a deep breath she told her to move and of course she didn't. Franky was like a dog with a bone and wasn't letting the whole Allie situation go, Bea had hardly ever lied to Franky and the few times she had were when things started getting really bad with Harry, she had learnt then that it was always better to be honest and sincere with Franky and from then on she had always meant every word she had said to her even when it had scared her a little. Having someone else know the whole situation had been hard at the start but having someone who she could talk to had always helped, it being Franky, her best friend, even though Harry had tried to stop them from seeing each other, only served to make it easier and Franky would never have left her side. Bea had been the only person in the school who had paid her any attention, treat her like she was and equal not some foster kid who would probably just get moved on again in a few months. Franky had hated herself for a long time when she had got the truth from Bea and had wished that she had paid less attention to Allie and more to her friend, she'd tried so hard to talk her out of marrying him because she just couldn't stand the sight of him but Bea had said it was the right thing to do and nothing Franky could do or say would change her mind. Thankfully Franky didn't ask too many questions although Bea suspected that it was only because she knew she had to pick Debbie up from Liz's.
Naturally traffic was terrible and it took her twenty minutes longer than was normal to get to Liz's house thanks to roadworks. Debbie was excited to see her mum because her school had organised a weekend camping trip and she couldn't wait to ask if she could go and after talking a mile a minute trying to tell her why she had to let her go Bea made her a deal, if she wouldn't ask for anything else when she had to go to Perth she could go on the camping trip. Debbie had grumbled saying that wasn't fair but as much as she had a list as long as her right arm of things she wanted to go on the camping trip more than anything. Once they were home Bea had gone to the kitchen to make a start on dinner while Debbie went to her room to get changed, she had just decided what to make when her phone chimed, another text from Allie she smiled before picking her phone up from the counter.
So can you explain to me why once again I'm in the wrong? I'm here in the kitchen trying to make dinner because anyone who knows Jess knows we'd starve if I didn't do it. She comes trotting in here wanting my undivided attention, nothing new there, I ask her to just give me twenty minutes then we can talk and of course she doesn't listen. So I ask her a second time but she still keeps talking so I told her to piss off and now she's sulking saying I never listen to her, all I ever do is listen to her.
Maybe telling her to piss off wasn't the best idea you've ever had!
I didn't actually say it like that, I was nice about it. She's just doing my head in every time I start to do something she wants to talk about something that's not even important.
Maybe you should order takeout and go and talk to her?
We would live on takeout if I did that everyday! She's just so clingy lately.
Think you're asking the wrong person for advice, but can I ask you you something?
I guess, do I really have to answer though cos this sounds likes it might be a serious question?
It is, and no you don't have to answer, just think about it…do you love her?
Allie hadn't expected that question at least not from Bea and it threw her for a while. She cooked dinner in a half daze. She'd asked her a question that if she was completely honest with herself she wasn't sure she could answer. When they had first met Allie felt so lonely, she had just moved into a place of her own for the first time in her life, just moved to a strange city, not that she hadn't spent plenty of time on her own in the past. When they met everything was finally falling into place for Allie and she enjoyed her company, the only real friend she'd ever had was Franky and there'd been a time that even they had lost contact with each other for a time. That's how they got together, Allie desperately found herself wanting friends since Franky was in Melbourne and she'd moved to Sydney when she got this job, they spent more and more time together and it just went from there until the day she found herself asking Jess to move in with her. Everything had been great for the first couple of years and as Allie got promotion Jess lost her job and moped around the place for weeks until she started looking for work. The promotion had meant that Allie had more responsibility and had more work to do but Jess just wanted her attention even when she had to bring work home with her.
Jess found another job but it wasn't what she really wanted to do and that just made her want more attention, when Allie got her second promotion the next year Jess wasn't happy, it wasn't the fact that Allie was doing well for herself that had bothered her that much, although she wasn't happy that she knew as long as she stayed in the job she was now doing there was no way she was getting any kind of promotion, Allie had tried telling her that maybe she should look for a job that interested her more and had better promotion prospects but she had just whined about Allie not taking her feelings seriously. The first time Allie had to be away for a few days she really became needy, texting and calling her every time she got the chance. Allie got into the habit of leaving her phone on silent or turning it off completely when she was going to a meeting and then that caused problems because she accused her of not only not wanting to talk to her but also of cheating on her. Over dinner Allie just sat and listened to Jess telling her everything that Allie had no interest in hearing but she didn't have the energy for an argument.
As Bea lay in bed that night she regretted asking Allie that question, ‘What the fuck was I thinking?’ She asked herself, she was going to have to apologise for asking such a personal question, she wasn't even sure why she had asked her, she knew she didn't sound happy but why did she have to be so stupid and ask that question? She thought about sending her a text and apologising but when she looked at the time and saw it was almost midnight she changed her mind instantly, it was far too late and she'd probably be in bed asleep.
Allie wasn't sleeping either, no one had ever asked if she actually loved Jess and she hadn't been able to get that question out of her mind all evening, all through dinner, while she was doing the dishes and listening to Jess ramble on about god only knows what because she hardly heard a word that came out of her mouth. Now it was silent except for Jess’s rhythmic breathing beside her and she couldn't stop thinking about where they were going, if they were even going anywhere. But did she really love her? That was something she wasn't even sure about, what they had together was just easy, just so normal after five years that she'd never thought about it, she said it often enough but hardly ever heard it said back to her. In that moment she would have given anything to speak to Bea, maybe she could help her sort out what was going on in her head, she couldn't speak to Franky, she hated Jess at the best of times, she always said she wasn't good enough for her and if she asked Franky to help her sort out what she was thinking she'd just tell her the same as she always did, “Kick her the fuck out Novak she's a waste of your time and energy.”