Allie spent the whole flight home torn between what she was leaving behind and what she had to face when she got home, the only thing that she was looking forward to was going back to work, facing Jess was very low down on her list of things she actually had any desire to do. She knew the second she got home they were going to have an argument and the best outcome would be that she could talk her down with planning their trip. ‘Why the hell am I even still thinking about that?’ She thought as the plane was landing.
Pulling up outside their house, ‘their house,’ that was a joke, Jess wanted them to move Allie had been quite happy living in the apartment she had rented when she first arrived in Sydney but Jess went on and on about them needing more space and Allie had caved in, anything for a quiet life but the very same week they had moved in Jess announced that she had lost her job and proceeded to spend weeks doing nothing leaving Allie to take care of everything just like she still did.
Hey Bea, just arrived home. I hated having to say goodbye to you earlier.
Me too, have you seen Jess yet?
Allie grabbed her bag from her car and headed towards the house, she was guessing Jess was in after all her car was there but that didn't mean anything, and she had said she wasn't going to sit around waiting for her.
Just walked in the house, no sign of her so I'm guessing she's out with friends. Do you think I'm crazy because I miss you?
I miss you too, but you had to leave, you have your own commitments there.
I know, one of them I really don't want you to remind me of, this is such a shit situation.
I know, sorry.
Hey don't be sorry, I'm just tired and cranky. Really not looking forward to Jess getting home.
I know, wish I could help you out with that. Maybe we shouldn't talk for a while.
Are you crazy? Listen I know this isn't ideal, hell I didn't expect things to be like this but I will talk to her, not sure how much she's going to listen to me though, and you know I really don't want to go anywhere with her but I'm an idiot and I promised.
I know I have to go, gotta pick Deb up from school, I'm going to be spending all next week listening to every detail of this camping trip on repeat.
You love it! Maybe one day I'll get to hear her stories.
Yer maybe, I'm sure she'd bore you to tears. Speak to you later if you can.
Allie could do nothing but sit and wait until the inevitable happened and Jess walked through the door.
“You actually remember where the fuck you live.”
“Shut the fuck up, you said you'd be home last night, where the fuck where you?”
“My flight got cancelled and my battery died so I couldn't call.” Allie hated lying but she had to try and calm her down somehow and she'd spent less than five minutes thinking up that excuse for not being home when she had expected her to arrive.
“You must have been in the only airport in the world then that doesn't have a pay phone.”
“Listen I never even though of that…I'm sorry.”
“Sorry! You're sorry! Oh well that makes everything alright then doesn't it?”
“Jess please, I've been sitting here waiting for you for hours I thought we were going to start planning our trip but if you don't want to go anymore…” Allie trailed off when she saw her expression change.
“You really did mean that?”
“Course I did, now are we planning this or not?”
Of course Jess wanted to go for the most expensive place they could find somehow Allie managed to convince her that at that time of year the most expensive and most secluded place probably wasn't the best place to go. Eventually they managed to come to an agreement and Allie booked it before Jess had a chance to change her mind. Now in just under a week she was going to have to spend the weekend cooped up in a cabin with Jess and that was the last place she wanted to be but for a quiet life it had to be worth it, what she had planned after they got home was certainly not something she was looking forward to.
Monday morning Bea was sitting in her office reading yet another report when Franky walked in.
Peering over the top of what she was reading she rolled her eyes and sighed knowing exactly why she was there, dropping the report down on her desk she sat back in her chair and waited for the barrage of questions she was sure she was going to get. Franky sat in the chair opposite her with a grin wide and bright enough to light up the entire room.
“So have ya heard?”
Bea hadn't been prepared for that kind of question she was sure that she was going to start asking questions about Allie. Not that she had the first idea what she was going to say but this was out of the blue.
“Have I heard what?”
“Shit! Ya kiddin right? You're the CEO how can ya not have heard about us taking over a finance company based in Sydney.”
“That's all you came in here for to tell me that? I heard something but I've been busy.”
“Not paying attention more like. You have heard of Fletcher and Gordon Finance?”
“Yes, what about it?”
“So you know Allie works for them? If this takeover goes through all the staff from Sydney will be relocated here, some of em in this building!”
Beas mobile just had to chime right when Franky was sitting in her office, picking it up she completely ignored Franky for a few minutes.
Good morning, I hope works not too busy for you this morning. It's total chaos here, I came back to a nightmare and we've got an urgent meeting in 30 minutes.
Good morning, my morning so far means I'm up to my ears in reports, and I have Franky sitting right here. I have a feeling that I know what your urgent meeting is about.
Franky sat watching Bea closely her eyebrow raised, she was sure she knew who that was going to be but she knew Bea wasn't going to give in to her questioning, anyway she didn't need Bea to find out what she wanted to know Allie would tell her she was sure of that.
“I didn't know Allie worked for them, it never came up in conversation. It doesn't mean she'll want to relocate.”
“No course she won't Red, if she ever gets rid of queen bitch she'd run all the way here if she could to be closer to ya and ya know it.”
“Yer sure Franky, have we finished? I do have work to do you know.”
As Franky was just about to leave Beas office she turned and winked at her before closing the door behind her. Bea had heard something or other about a take over but she hadn't been paying attention, she'd gone over the notes from the conference before she'd tackled anything else that morning. There had been talk for some time that they were about ready to enter negotiations with a finance company but that had been a while ago and she'd heard no more about it, Liberty Brown although a small investment back had grown its client list over the last two years and every department had grown except the finance department there had been one or two new additions to the staff but nothing major.
Busing herself with the report she had been reading it was soon lunch time and if Maxine hadn't been around she would have worked straight through without a second thought, she did it all the time.
“I brought you lunch.” Maxine said softly after entering Beas office.
“Thanks Maxi, you going to stay and eat with me?” Bea enquired as she looked at the clock.
“Sure Hun if that's what you want, I'll only be a sec.” Maxine disappeared for a few seconds before returning with her lunch and sitting in the seat across from Bea.
“Fill me in Maxi, on what you know about this takeover, I have to admit I wasn't really paying any attention to anything but this mountain of work that never seems to ever get any smaller.”
That was a half truth she knew that, she'd found concentrating on anything other than the thoughts of Allie that would enter her head at the most unfortunate times, unfortunate since they always seemed to appear when she had got to something that was important and needed her undivided attention she'd start reading and there she was.
“As I understand it Gordon and Fletcher have two offices, their head office is in Sydney and a smaller office here. The plan seems to be to expand our financial department, taking some of the staff from head office and some from the office here and merging them with our finance office.”
“Only some of the staff?”
“That's all I know, but you have a meeting with the director in an hour so you should find out more. Now tell me how Debbie's trip was.”
They spent the remainder of their lunch break talking about Debbie's trip and laughing at some of the things Debbie had told Bea. They used to eat their lunch together everyday but as work had become more chaotic Bea worked through lunch most of the time only remembering to eat if Maxine brought her something. The few times they did eat together were usually when they were working on something together so a day like today when Bea pushed work to one side and ate and chatted was always a pleasant surprise. Their lunch break came to an abrupt end when Maxine glanced at the time and told Bea that she had better get up to the directors office.
Arriving on the top floor of the building the directors secretary smiled at her and nodded towards his door, she was early and he was already waiting for her that was never a good sign. Entering his office she noticed the small smile playing on his lips, ‘encouraging’ she thought to herself as she took a seat and waited for him to speak.
“I'm sure I don't need to tell you about our taking over Gordon and Fletcher Finance do I?” Bea knew it was a rhetorical question and was just grateful for Franky and Maxine otherwise she would have been sitting there without a clue. “I've already picked a team from their head office that will be joining us here, the deal will be finalised over the next couple of weeks, obviously they can't be expected to move here overnight so they will be given three months to make their arrangements.”
“I'm guessing then that the adjustment period is going to be a little difficult.”
“I'm hoping not, unfortunately the director of Gordon and Fletcher has waited until today to tell his staff about this and I hear that it hasn't been taken very well by some of the staff.”
“Understandable when he's left it this late.”
“True, what I need from you is to work closely with the CFO and the HR manager’ I'm sure you know the CFO Will Jackson and I know you know the HR manager, I think everyone knows Vera. Currently we have no head of finance I've heard only good things about one employee who I'm hoping is going to jump on bored since it's a promotion for her, I hear you know her already Allie Novak.”
Beas eyes went wide, she knew they had no head of finance or deputy head of finance, Allie was already the deputy head of finance and hadn't expected to hear her name, she certainly hadn't expected him to know she knew her already.
Allie sat through the meeting in a half state of shock, ‘Melbourne, move to Melbourne,’ she thought to herself and her mind wondered straight to what or rather who was waiting for her in Melbourne. The meeting dragged and all she wanted to do was get back to her desk and text Bea although from her earlier comment she guessed that she already knew what was happening. Then she remembered Jess, that was not a conversation she was looking forward to, ‘maybe not tell her,’ she wondered to herself, get the weekend over and then tell her she was leaving, Jess hated Melbourne but she also knew that she'd try talking her out of leaving although even without the move Allie was determined that she was leaving Jess, meeting Bea again had only made her realize that it was over, had been for the last two years and she couldn't keep living like that.
Making it back to her desk she forgot about work and grabbed her mobile straight away.
Guess who's moving to Melbourne?
Let me think……I'm guessing that would be you!
How long have you known about this? You could have let me know then I could have saved myself a weekend of torture with Jess.
Honestly I only found out this morning, I had heard something but that was ages ago, Franky mentioned it first then I had to quiz Maxine.
You're forgiven then since you weren't keeping secrets from me.
If I'd have known I would have told you.
I know, do you think it's too late to cancel this weekend away?
Pretty sure it is, I need to get back to work I'm so behind now.
One last thing. Maybe you were right, I think we should stop texting each other all the time. I know I said I didn't want to stop but shit I have so much going on now and I'm not saying I don't want to speak to you I just need to sort my head out, that meeting kind of threw me and I have the whole Jess situation to sort out.
Bea sat staring at that last message, what the hell was she actually saying? She had suggested it but Allie didn't want that, one minute she's texting her like she normally did and now she wants to stop. She started typing out a message then deleted it, that text didn't require an answer did it? She wanted space and Bea would let her have it.
Concentration seemed to be something that was completely eluding her now, she had sat staring at the same page for an hour completely lost in her own thoughts. Just after 6pm Franky opened her office door and stood watching her for a minute or so, she didn't turn the page, never looked up and Franky started to worry, Bea was always so focused on her work, it never mattered what drama or office politics was playing on around her Bea Smith stayed focused.
“Ya gonna tell me what's wrong?”
Bea never raised an eyebrow, didn't say a word she just closed the report and dropped it back down on her desk.
“What do you want Franky?”
“Nothin, but you're making a habit of staying here late.”
By Wednesday afternoon Bea had cleared her desk of every report that had been left on it trying to fill every second of the day so that she wouldn't think about Allie or keep checking her phone for a text that she might have missed, a text she knew wasn't going to come but she still hoped for it. Keeping herself overly busy had a downside and one that she didn't appreciate, she had a headache that just seemed to be getting worse, she was a prisoner to it, helpless and stuck inside a cage of pain. Maxine had noticed first and when Bea had said it was nothing returned to her desk and called Franky who said she would take her home no matter how much she argued. Sitting at her desk with her head in her hands all Bea craved was darkness, silence and stillness, none of which she was going to find while ever she was a work. In usual Franky style she breezed into Beas office, although much quieter than she usually would.
“Alright Red I'm takin ya home and I'm not arguing with you about it.”
Bea looked up, she couldn't argue if she tried the pain throbbed so violently in her head she was left wondering if it might crack open any second. Franky never saw Bea push herself this hard, her usual approach to work was always paced, never rushed and she had never known her try and get through a weeks work in two days. Something was going on and Franky was certain she was going to get to the bottom of it if it killed her but now was not the time, her friend was in pain and didn't look well, right now she was taking her home even if she had to carry her from the building and down to her car.
The drive over to Beas had been in silence and when they arrived she was grateful that Franky had a spare key, there was no way she was going to find hers.
“Get ya self to bed and don't worry about Deb, I'll call Liz and let her know that I'm going to pick her up.” She turned to leave before hearing Bea speak, she knew the tone, something was really wrong she hadn't heard her voice sound so small since Harry disappeared.
“Franky…….thank you, I don't know what I'd do without you sometimes.”
“I'm always here for ya, now get to bed and sleep.”
Franky sat in her car for a couple of minutes, Bea never had headaches like this, she'd seen her power through everything at work without even flinching, one bad investment a couple of years back that nearly ended in disaster saw plenty of people calling in sick and Bea had just thrown herself into the thick of it paced herself and pushed on taking on more work than Franky had thought one person could handle but she'd got through it and everything worked out, Bea got the promotion that everyone knew she deserved everyone knew she was the best CEO they had ever had, sure she was stressed but in all the time Franky had worked with her she'd never had a headache so bad that she ended up having to be taken home, and even more unusually for Bea she hadn't even tried to protest, something was wrong and she had to find out what it was.
Bea sat on her bed looking at her reflection in the mirror and she was shocked by who she saw looking back at her, she looked so tired. Reminding herself that she'd hardly slept the night before she knew was probably the reason for that but apart from that she looked ok, just her normal self. There wasn't a problem with her on the outside, inside, inside she was aching and it wasn't a feeling she was used to and she certainly didn't like it. She'd never missed Harry, she was always glad when he wasn't around, happier than anything when he would disappear with his mates and not reappear until Monday evening when he got back from work. This was all too new and scared her a little, how could she ache for Allie like this? As she lay down on the bed, covering her eyes with her arm she was the only thing she could think of, that ache gnawed away at her but she would do as Allie asked, she wouldn't text or try calling her and she'd get through it, she got through everything didn't she? When she went back to work she would pull her lips into a smile and everyone around her would mistake that lacklustre smile for happiness, she would look like her ordinary self even though she felt like she was crumbling inside.
When she woke up few hours later it was dark and the house was quiet, dragging herself from her bed she was happy that the pain in her head was now bearable. Reaching the kitchen she found a note from Franky,
You were still asleep when we got back so we decided that it was best to let you sleep. Debs going to stay over at mine and I'll bring her back in the morning, hope you're feeling better by then.
She still felt tired and wasn't hungry, the house felt so empty as she walked around trying to decide what to do with the alone time, she wished Debbie was there, hell she even wished Franky was there to help occupy the loneliness that she felt eating her up. Returning upstairs she pushed open the door to the spare room that Allie had spent the night in, the bed was still unmade and her perfume still lingered in the air, every recollection from the weekend came racing back at her like a huge slap in the face and drenching her in a cold sadness. Torturing herself like this was pointless she thought and then she remembered there was every possibility that Allie would soon be working in the same building as her, and if Jess agreed to move with her…..Allie said she was going to talk to her but maybe she wouldn't, maybe she didn't really want to, Bea felt lost and confused and the only thing she wanted to do now was sleep.