The next day Meryl arrived bright and early at her office, ready to assemble the next issue for the Free Press.
She had been running the local newspaper for the past two months. Her father had owned and operated the business for over forty years, so when he died suddenly, it made sense to take over and keep it in the family. Meryl made a few changes to modernise the production of the weekly paper and she hired a sales person to expand the area to be covered. The improvement in growth and sales were more than pleasing. Her experience from working on a major daily newspaper in Melbourne had proven invaluable.
Her mother Yvonne, had insisted Meryl and her daughter, five-year-old Beth, live with her. Yvonne took Beth to prep school and to the various appointments kids seem to need, she acted as babysitter and housekeeper claiming it gave her life purpose after losing the love of her life. Meryl thought about her parents’ relationship as she made herself a coffee. Johnson Henderson was a handsome man whose eye often wandered, but never failed to return home. Yvonne was one of those patient wives who busied herself with charity work and friends, waiting for him to get over the current woman, usually a widow. Johnson was kind and willing to comfort them as they wrote the eulogy or notice for the husband they were no doubt painting a fake picture of. When Johnson’s funeral was held, people were amazed to see the number of grieving widows, singing Anne Murray’s ‘You Needed Me’ with such passion.
Meryl shook her head. No man would do this to her, she vowed. When Beth was just a colour on a stick, Meryl had already decided the father would not be told or included in Beth’s life.
Firing up her computer, a slow outdated piece of equipment her father had been using, Meryl made a mental note to have the office equipment updated where necessary. It would be too expensive to jump in and change the lot, but she needed a few apps and systems to produce a high quality weekly newspaper.
Glancing out the window, she watched school kids meeting in the rotunda. No Mr Ducar and Susan, but it was early morning and he had said dusk was the meeting time. Her toe touched the soft leather brief case he had left in the coffee shop. He was sure to come into her office today to collect it and perhaps tell more of his story.
Today was the twenty-fourth. A pang of excitement hit Meryl’s stomach for a fleeting second. Feeling silly, she was grateful to have this old office to herself. She could feel the flush in her cheeks and had to concentrate on getting articles written, researched and edited for what she believed was going to be a huge success. She would make sure to keep an eye on the rotunda at least.
At lunch time, Meryl walked briskly to her mother’s house. It was so nice to be able to see Beth often during the day, tuck her up in bed with a story chosen by Beth, and enjoy delicious home-made food, she thought with a smile. The kitchen smelled of curry turnovers which Beth was already tucking into.
‘You look so happy since you’ve been home’ her mother commented.
‘That’s because I am feeling relaxed’ she smiled at her mother. Meryl told her mother Mr Ducar’s story. Her mother looked very thoughtful for a few moments and asked if she knew Susan’s surname. Meryl explained about the brief case which her mother suggested she open and find the information.
‘Do you think you know who she might be, Mum?’
‘I’m not sure, but it could be Susan Collins. The last I heard about her though, she was very ill in a private hospital in Brisbane.’
‘Oh, that could put a different light on things, couldn’t it? mused Meryl.
On her way back to work, Meryl popped into the café where she and John Ducar had coffee. Why the hell didn’t she take the time to hear him out? She just didn’t feel right about snooping in the bag.
Her office assistant announced there had been a few calls for her, one from a guy in Sydney called Nik.
‘He sounded really nice’ Gemma commented.
‘He’s a doctor and very busy so it is rather nice that he has rung a couple of times now.’
‘You haven’t called him back?’ Gemma was incredulous.
‘Not yet, but I don’t need complications in my life right now, so Nik will either have wait or fade away. Fate will decide.’
Gemma sighed in despair and dumped a file unceremoniously on Meryl’s desk.
Meryl smiled but buried herself in the editing of articles submitted by the journos and locals.
She would be busy for a few hours now and had no time to think of Nik nor John Ducar.