There was something so soothing about waking up in Allies arms, even when she knew that this day could turn to shit as long as they were together she had to believe that she could get through anything with her there.
“You're miles away again.” Allie mumbled as her eyes slowly opened. “What are you thinking about?”
“You…” Bea ran her fingers down her cheek. “Always you.”
When they arrived at the office the receptionist was surprised to see them but said nothing, everyone knew Sonia and Joan weren't going to be in the office until after lunch, Sonia had given some strange explanation about the director of Liberty Brown being impressed with her work and wanted a meeting leaving everyone else in the office puzzled but then nothing that either of them ever did would really surprise anyone, from the moment Sonia had arrived she was rarely present throughout the whole day when Joan arrived two weeks later it seemed that neither of them were ever there.
“What are you going to do?” Bea whispered to Allie who just winked at her before smiling at Maxine, if she didn't know better she would swear that the two of them had already planned something.
“Just trust us, you go and find someone to talk to and we'll be in the conference room.”
Bea didn't want to leave them alone but they obviously weren't going to share whatever it was that they were up to so there was no point in arguing even though she still had that uneasy feeling again. Walking into the office that was slowly becoming familiar the office manager, Kelly, greeted her enthusiastically before asking if she needed anything.
Bea found the person she thought was the best person to speak to, Anthony, the accounts manager, she was sure that if anyone would spot any irregularities it would be him, she quizzed him for a while but hearing nothing of great significance she decided that he actually didn't seem all that interested in his job anyway, not that she thought accounting was very interesting. The rest of the team seemed more than willing to speak to her and answer any questions she asked but after all the great comments about the new revenue sharing model she came to one conclusion, the accounts manager probably knew more than he was letting on since he didn't have a bad word to say about either Sonia or Joan.
Bea returned to the conference room finding both Allie and Maxine still staring intently at the screens of their lap tops, Maxine looked up smiled and went straight back to whatever she was engrossed in. They needed to leave before Sonia got back to the office but watching Allie so completely absorbed in the task she was undertaking with a fierce look of concentration on her face made her even more adorable and she sat down quietly for a few minutes. Bea sat and watched her chew on her bottom lip as she frowned a little then her eyes seemed to light up a little more if that was even a possibility.
“I've got something….Maxi I…shit Bea when did you come in?”
“A few minutes ago, what have you found?”
“I can't tell you, we shouldn't really be looking at some things.”
“And what exactly are you looking at that you shouldn't be looking at?”
“We may or may not have stumbled on Sonia's password and maybe took a look at some of her personal files. In my defence some of the things she has files for shouldn't be saved on the server to begin with.”
Bea frowned and looked at them both. “How did you just stumble onto her password?”
“Oh that wasn't difficult given that we know Sonia, after all she does think she is above everyone else.”
“So what is it?” Bea was baffled.
Maxine and Allie looked at each other and nodded. “God.” They both said in unison.
“And how did you manage to work that out?”
“Seriously Bea sometimes you are clueless have you never heard that the most common passwords are love, sex, secret or god? Have you been living under a rock?” Maxine chuckled.
Bea wasn't going to ask anymore questions, not right then anyway, the priority was leaving, grabbing lunch and heading straight back for their meeting. There were so many ways they could get caught out all it needed was for the receptionist to mention that they had been there all morning. Allie naturally came up with a plausible reason, if she did know they would just tell her that it had been easier to make the conference call from the office than their hotel. Bea had tried to argue that they had conference rooms at the hotel that they could have used for that until Maxine pointed out one fact that she appeared to have overlooked, Sonia didn't know where they were staying, and not every hotel in London had conference rooms available at short notice if they had them at all.
Their afternoon meeting dragged, Sonia spoke more about their morning with the director telling them what a great job he thought she was doing. ‘She is so full of herself,’ Bea thought knowing that the director had never once ever said anything good about Sonia even when she was in Melbourne. When they finally arrived back at the hotel they were all tired and decided to call it a day opting to order room service rather than sit in the stuffy restaurant.
The director chose to call Bea while they were right in the middle of eating, informing her of everything that he had spoken about with Sonia before asking to speak to Allie. Maxine had already sent the files that they had copied over to Janet before they had left the office for lunch and though no irregularities had shown up on any of the accounts they had checked there were a great deal of suspicious emails between Sonia and Joan, some of them dating back to while she was still in Melbourne. Handing the phone back to Bea she was slightly surprised that he told her to make sure that they all took Monday off to recover from the flight home, they were due to arrive back in Melbourne at 0615 on Monday morning, Bea tried to tell him that it wasn't necessary but he was adamant that everything was running smoothly under the watchful eye of the chief operating officer, and that one more day without her presence in the office wasn't going to make a great deal of difference, she needed to be alert when she got back to work and certainly wouldn't be if she was jet lagged.
Friday was full of meetings and Bea was actually thankful that the director had decided that he wanted to be present at them meaning Sonia was a little more guarded with the things she said and Allie was relieved that there were no more of her outbursts to deal with.
After finishing their packing after breakfast on Saturday morning they decided to spend a few hours wandering around London and Allie insisted that she had to find a perfect gift for Debbie.
“She'd be happy with anything, and you really don't need to buy her anything I'm sure Liz has spoilt her rotten, Franky too.”
“But I don't want to give her just anything and I want to get her something so don't argue with me.”
“Fine!” Bea huffed, there was no point in arguing, when Allie made her mind up about something she wasn't easily swayed and that reminded her of Debbie.
Maxine followed behind them quite happily as they looked around shop after shop, Bea had forgotten just how much Allie was like Debbie when it came down to shopping and she almost expected to be dragged back to the first shop Allie had spotted something in that she liked. After lunch they had continued to look around until Maxine spotted Foyles bookshop and said she was popping in for a few minutes, Bea didn't want to lose her so rather than just letting her catch up with them they went with her. The gift section of the book shop stood out to Allie straight away and finally found something that she though Debbie would like, the London memory game, designed for people who had never visited but wanted to learn more. There'd talked on the phone every time Bea had called her and she'd asked for something different and Allie hadn't found anything that wasn't overly touristy until now.
Later that day they were sitting in the first class lounge waiting for their flight to board, none of them were looking forward to taking a late flight but at the time Bea had booked their flights it had seemed like a good idea.
“Back home its already Sunday morning.” Allie frowned when she thought about the two flights that they were going to have to take to get home, and a late flight wasn't what she was looking forward to now at all, her and Bea had slept in the same bed for a week and now they had to spend god knows how long apart. She didn't know what to expect when they got home except that it would be 0615 on Monday morning when they finally landed in Melbourne.
Getting off the plane in Melbourne on Monday morning the three of them were exhausted, none of them had had a great deal of sleep and now all they wanted to do was get home and sleep. Knowing that she didn't have to get herself into work that morning had made Bea stay awake longer than she had intended talking to Allie who still wouldn't tell her about what her and Maxine had found, she just kept on saying that it was better that she didn't know. Dropping Maxine off first Bea didn't want Allie to leave.
“Ummm, come back to mine…I mean it's better that way you won't disturb Franky.”
“I wouldn't care if I did she's woken me up often enough, but if you really want me to…”
“I do…I don't want you to think you have to though, if you want to go home I wouldn't mind…l”
“Bea…you're rambling, I'd much rather be wherever you are.”
They both left their suitcases in the hall, kicked off their shoes and pulled their jackets off.
“I forgot how cold it would be here, want a coffee?” Bea asked and Allie just nodded as she yawned. “You sound like you're ready for bed, go up I'll bring them up, that's if you can keep your eyes open that long.”
“I won't fall asleep straight away, not unless you're there.” Bea rolled her eyes and went to the kitchen leaving Allie to go upstairs. Stripping off down to her underwear she slipped into bed, sitting up against the headboard she flicked on the tv, she had no intention of falling asleep until Bea was right beside her, for all she knew this might be the last time they fell asleep in each other's arms if Bea really was going to tell Debbie about their relationship.
Bea nudged the bedroom door open a little more before kicking it closed and walking over to the bed handing Allie her coffee, putting her own down she stripped off and got into bed. The coffee had been a waste of time since they both lay down without drinking a mouthful or turning the tv off and fell asleep almost as soon as their heads hit the pillows.
Waking up a few hours later Allie picked her head up slightly to look at the time, almost 11am, they had nothing to get up for but they also couldn't sleep for the rest of the day, they had to be back at work the next day. Getting out of bed she used the bathroom and freshened up a little before pulling on a t shirt and collecting the still full mugs of coffee Bea had made them earlier. Heading down to the kitchen she made fresh coffee and went back to the bedroom to wake Bea up. Getting back in bed she lay down running her fingers softly down Beas face before she opened her eyes.
“Good morning beautiful.” Allie smiled.
“I bet you say that to all the women you wake up with.”
“Hmmm, no, there's only one I've ever said it to and really meant it.”
“Lucky woman.” Bea giggled.
“Na…I'm the lucky one since I have her right here.”
“Is that right…what time is it?”
“Just gone eleven, I made fresh coffee.”
Bea sat up reaching for the mug taking a mouthful, “I needed that…shit I have so much to do before I pick Deb up from Liz.”
Allie had no intention of leaving Beas side until she really had to, the prospect of sitting around alone for the rest of the day at Franky's while she was at work wasn't very enticing anyway and she'd much rather help Bea do whatever she needed to do even if it was something as simple as going to the supermarket.
When the time came for Bea to go and pick Debbie up all Allie felt was sadness, everything else just felt like ash on the floor.
“You want to come with me? I know Deb would love to see you.”
“I don't want to be in the way, beside Franky will wonder where I've got to she knew we were due home today.”
“She didn't know what time though did she?”
“No that's true, I guess another hour wouldn't hurt, ok, I'll come with you.”
When Bea knocked on the door they heard Debbie running to the door telling Liz she'd get it.
“Mum!” Debbie squealed as soon as the door flew open, throwing her arms around her she hugged her tight until she saw Allie standing behind her, letting go of Bea almost immediately she jumped in to Allies arms. “I'm so pleased to see you…how was it? Did it rain? Did you see the Tower of London? Buckingham Palace?”
“Slow down kiddo, one question at once.”
“Sorry…I'm just want to know everything.”
“I'm sure Allie will tell you everything if you let her go Deb.”
“Oh yeah…come in Liz is making coffee and I want to show Allie my history essay that I did while you've been away, I got an A.”
Bea shook her head as she looked at Allie before they both went in, Allie was nervous she knew Bea had spoken to Liz about them but Allie hadn't seen her the whole time she'd been back and didn't know what she was going to say to her now. Liz walked out of the kitchen a huge smile on her face seeing Bea first since Allie was still following behind.
“It's good to have you home love, now what is young De…..Allie is that really you?”
“I'm afraid so.”
“Well haven't you grown up since the last time I saw you? I believe Debbie wants you in the living room, Bea will you help me with the coffee?”
They stayed for an hour before Bea drove home, as they walked into the house Allie got her suitcase saying that she had better be getting home or Franky would be sending out a search party for her.
“Mum, tell Allie she's got to stay for dinner.”
“Deb, she hasn't been home for over a week, and after all your talking about school and your essay she'd probably enjoy the peace and quiet.”
“But I don't want her to go, why can't she just call Franky and tell her that's she's here?” Debbie pouted as she folded her arms across her chest. “And it's getting late so we can have pizza and I know that's Allies favourite.”
Allie laughed, “I can't argue with that can I?”
“You can but something tells me you aren't going to.”
Bea woke up the next morning after a restless night, Allie not being there hadn't helped and she was sure she would never get a good nights rest again when she wasn't sleeping beside her. Getting out of bed an hour before her alarm was due to wake her up she had a shower and went to make coffee. She felt like she was stuck in a vortex of stress and nervous energy, still feeling tired wasn't helping either.
Debbie walked in to the kitchen an hour later and looked around surprised that Allie wasn't there.
“Allie went home?” She asked sadly. “Why can't she stay here with us I miss her, Franky doesn't miss her she’s got Br…” Debbie covered her mouth with her hand, she hadn't meant to slip up, Franky wanted to tell Bea herself.
“Franky's got who?” Bea asked with a raised eyebrow, she knew Franky was up to something but surly she hadn't actually met someone that she would actually contemplate a real relationship with.
“Mum I can't tell you, can you forget I said that.”
“Since you didn't actually say anything I guess I'll have to wait, but I do need to talk to you Deb.”
Slipping Debbie's breakfast and a glass of juice down on the table she sat down opposite her daughter watching her for a few minutes trying to figure out how to say what she needed to say to her.
“Mum just spit it out already or we'll sit here all day and I have to go to school.”
“Yeah…I…well…how would you feel about…how would you feel if…” Taking a deep breath. “If Allie and I were together?”
Debbie sat looking across the table looking at her chewing a mouthful of food.
“Deb?” The silence filled her with dread.
“Mum you always tell me not to speak with my mouth full…you mean Allies your girlfriend like…never mind. Does that mean she'll be over more?”
“I guess, but you didn't answer the question.”
“Oh yeah….its cool, I like Allie, she's way better at helping me with my homework anyway.” Debbie shrugged.
“That's really all your going to say?”
“Mum, I'm 12 not 5, what did you think I was going to say?….Oh I get it…you were waiting for me to say that I don't like it and I don't want Allie in the house or something like that?”
“Well, no, I was hoping not but…”
“It stopped being strange weeks ago, she's always here anyway, and I'm kinda guessing you've been together that long.”
When Bea walked into her office that morning she hadn't decided if she should call Allie or just go to her office, looking at her desk her heart sank, there was a huge pile of paperwork waiting for her. ‘Fuck it.” She thought to herself as she walked back out of her office running into Maxine.
“Where are you off to?”
“Just need to go and see Allie for a few minutes.”
“Of course you do hun, I doubt that pile of work is going to disappear, there's every possibility that it may get bigger so take your time.”
Walking into he finance department Will was talking to Matt and he smiled at her before saying something to Matt and walking over to her. “So.” He said a bright smile on his face. “How was the London trip?”
“Seemed to go well…everyone seemed to buy into the new model.” Bea looked around noticing that Linda was obviously listening to what they were saying. “Actually I just came down to have a word with Allie about it, why don't you join me in her office?”
“Yes sure, just give me a sec.” Will winked at her before walking back over to Matt.
Allie was sitting at her desk staring at a pile of files that had appeared on her desk while they were away, she was thinking about calling Bea just to hear her voice, she'd missed her when she woke up and she knew talking to her would give her the motivation she needed to tackle the pile of files cluttering up her desk.
“Looking at it won't make it go away.” Bea giggled.
“Hey…what are you doing here?”
“Oh that's nice…I missed you this morning and…well, I spoke to Deb.”
“You did?” Allie found herself feeling nervous, what if Bea had come to tell her that they couldn't see each other anymore.
“Don't look so worried Allie…I told you she'd be fine, actually when I dropped her off at school she said I have to tell you that you have to come over for dinner.”
“What if I have other plans?”
“Then I'll have a very grumpy daughter to deal with.”
“Good thing I have no plans then.”
Will knocked on the door and waited, hearing Allies voice he opened the door.
“I know it went well except for the whole Sonia, Joan Ferguson show, sorry Allie that's what all that's for, I have an even bigger pile on my desk if that helps, Matts working on a pile of old account files also, we've got to double check. Anyway did the new model go down well?”
“With everyone but Sonia, seemed that the only questions they had really were about reporting, that's not been finished being built into the new accounting software yet but it should be done by the end of the week…shit!” A sudden thought occurred to Allie, “That's why Sonia wanted changes making to the model, the new reporting system would make it next to impossible to hide anything untoward.”
“The new models perfect Allie, and I heard Bea lost it with Sonia as soon as she opened that mouth of hers, with any luck she'll be replaced soon. Well I need to get back to my desk, don't forget we have a management committee meeting on Friday, you two should free up some time to prep for the meeting since I know you spent a lot of time working on the new model together.” Will gave Bea another wink before leaving to go back to his own office, it was getting old now and she wished he'd just knock it off but didn't want to make a big thing out of it.
“Before I go and tackle the pile of work that's waiting for me on my desk has Franky said anything about anyone new in her life to you?”
“No she was a bit cagey, she asked what we'd been doing while we were away, and you know what she's like trying to get to know everything, by the way she asked if I saw you first if we could cancel our normal Friday night dinner plans, she wants us to go to hers, and by us I mean Debbie as well.”
“Debbie knows something, she almost slipped up this morning, what do you think we should do?”
“If we want to know what's going on then we better have dinner with her.”
Bea returned to her office, she had to at least try to do some work, not that her mind was on anything other than Allie, occasionally her thoughts wandered to what Franky wanted the three of them for. Halfway through an overly boring financial report Maxine brought her a coffee.
“Sorry to spoil your day but tomorrow is going to be crazy, your presence has been requested in two client meetings in the morning, you have a strategic planning meeting with the finance department after lunch and the director has requested a conference call with you, Allie and Will after that, he also said to let you know that he won't be back until next week.”
“So I won't have a minute to myself tomorrow?”
Maxine shook her head, she'd seen Franky first thing, it was strange for her to be in the office early and as far as she could make out from what little Franky was giving away there had been some developments on the Sonia and Joan saga, she had tried to get her to say more but she got the impression when she fell silent before changing the subject that she might have already said more than she should have. It was a little troublesome that the director had requested a conference call, although it might help to get to the bottom of things.
The rest of the day dragged for everyone it seemed, Maxine had been up and down to various floors so many times she lost count, she'd seen Allie to let her know about the conference call, ran into Franky a couple of times and now she was just relieved that it was almost 5pm, the first day back at work was always the worst even when they had only been gone for a couple of days, the London trip had been hard work and she really had no clue how Bea managed it, just slipping straight back into work without batting an eyelid, not that Maxine couldn't usually just settle back into her usual routine but this was a little different, with Janet now in London Maxine was relaying things back to her that needed taking care of and it was already getting monotonous.
Bea had contemplated taking a couple of files home with her until she remembered Allie was going over for dinner, with any luck she'd stay the night and after the previous nights lack of sleep she really wanted her to, falling into bed next to Allie she knew she was guaranteed to fall asleep.