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“I’d rather tell you why Granddad is hiring you,” Maverick responded.
“But I know that,” Roxy argued. “He wants to see if he likes spending more time at home. He’s happy to give me a go. It’s really nice for someone to trust me like that, but I can’t see him liking hanging around at home. He likes chatting with his customers too much.”
“I guess I could speak to Ally at the Library. She is keen to have someone read to the young kids and he does a mean reading. You should hear him, he puts on all these funny voices, really puts life into the stories. No book is the same after he has read it.” Maverick glanced quickly at Amber. She was quiet, chewing thoughtfully if you could chew thoughtfully.
“You can sit down for that sort of job. It will be good for him.” Amber interjected.
“Yeah, I figure that if he does that a couple of days a week and then only spends a couple of mornings in the hardware he’s slowed down a little but he’s still getting out and about.”
“He’s concerned about the fellow who closes for him,” Roxy stated bluntly. Her tone indicated that she already hated him, despite not having met him.
“You can’t assume, you can’t judge until you have evidence.” Maverick cautioned.
“Duh, I know,” Roxy responded as only a teenager could. “Wish more coppers were like you. Now, I’m going to take the plates and wash them up, you two get to know each other better. Ambs is not very good at being friends, comes from having such a fucked childhood and being stiffed all the time. Of course, I’m not like that because I actually didn’t go into care until I was 5.”
“And that leaves me speechless,” Maverick commented as Roxy disappeared upstairs. “Is she going to be alright? She’s so close to Grandpa and he is 88.”
“He’s a pretty spry 88 years old. Roxy is resilient and she is not stupid. She knows he’s going to die and that she can’t choose when that happens. She’s going to make the best of their relationship as she can whilst she has it and if he lasts for another few years then good, and if he doesn’t then she’s known another quality person who has already valued her more than any of her blood relatives and that is the important bit. Colin believes she is worth something, Stan and Merry believe she is worth something, you believe she is worth something, that’s at least two more people than what I had.”
“Don’t forget about you, you believe she is worth something,” Maverick looked at her. He reached out and turned her face so she was watching him. “She believes you are worth something too and so do Colin and Annabel, Milly and Robert, Tom and I. Move closer Amber,” his voice lowered; it got huskier. “I’m going to put my arm around you and you can sleep, you look completely exhausted, all this work that you do.”
“I have deadlines and a house to get liveable.”
“And you have a life to live. I am working but by the time Grandpa has your insulation in I’ll be on days off. I will come out and help you.”
She shifted closer to him.
“I get that you are a private person Amber, I’m okay with whatever you can give at the moment. Now close your eyes and I will tell Roxy all the gory details that I can, tune me out if you don’t want to listen.”
Amber’s phone vibrated. Maverick leaned across her and pulled it out of her pocket before she could.
“It’s international from the USA. You want to answer it.”
Amber shook her head. “Let it go to voicemail, it’s way past business hours here and if it’s an existing client I will call them back if it’s new work I don’t have the capacity at the moment. I have twenty translations due back tomorrow from my casuals. Fuck this business is getting big.”
“Why don’t you hire an office manager,” Maverick asked.
“I don’t have an office, I have a bookkeeper in Melbourne who’s about to move so her husband can find work. She informs me that there will be a bit of disruption until they have settled down somewhere more affordable. I don’t even have an office of my own, hell it’s only just tonight that I can go to the toilet in the middle of the night and not have to balance on joists avoiding rusty nails as I walk.”
Maverick laughed. “It’s a low time in the economy here. Winter is the busy season and there is a little tourism now but you could probably find someone local that was able to work from home or perhaps they could work in your spare room upstairs. You and Roxy only need one room a piece.”
“The toilet doesn’t have a wall around it.”
“True, so outsource and they could work from home. Speak to Milly about it, or Ally at the Library. Ally knows almost everyone and she’ll be able to tell you who is always polite and reliable.”
“Sure, now I am going to sleep, you are quite comfortable.” Amber closed her eyes, her conversations done for the moment.
“You finished,” Roxy stage whispered from the stairwell. Maverick nodded.
“Oh yeah, it’s good for her to open up, I had no idea how busy she was. I mean her phone has busy periods but it didn’t ring at all whilst she was doing the flooring.”
“I can hear you and for the record, sister,” Amber emphasised the sister, “You are important as is spending uninterrupted time with you, I had it on silent.”
“I tell you, Ambs, you are so much better as a big sister than my half-sisters. They couldn’t give me the time of day, Now do tell, all I know is that you and Amber were pulling down a wall when a skeleton fell on top of the both of you.”
“Pretty much, I’m surprised that’s the version you heard, the current story is that the entire wall fell down, crushing Amber underneath and she got knocked out to come to, gazing into the empty eye sockets of a dripping skull.”