a bad coffee.
    “And I’d like to see you settled in a decent relationship.”
    “You want to tell Gray that?”
    A look of fear crept into his eyes. “Well, y’know.”
    I chuckled. “Besides, I already am,” I said with a scowl, and I took a sip of what was left of my coffee. “A real fucked up one where you play dad and Chelsea Bunny in there dons stockings and a skirt and does my mother. By the way,” I shifted my head toward the snickering bodies, “met the kids lately?”
    “I’m mom?” Sam shouted through. “Woo-hoo, arranged marriages are legal, right? And I-I mean me and your dad get to keep the dowry, right?”
” shouted Steve, adding a groan. “Cut it out, yeah?”
    “And you keep quiet, dear,” shouted Sam, “I lost money because of you yesterday, forcing me out of picking up that client. I’ll make your ass sleep on the settee the way you’re going.”
    I glared at Steve, making the connections. “And you were suddenly busy shopping with the missus for your kid’s birthday, huh?”
    “I did,” said Steve. Then, “Eventually,” he added with a grin.
    “Great. Now you’ve finished playing ‘find me a date,’” I said, downing my coffee in one, then stuffing it back in Steve’s hand, “why don’t you pair go fight over the washing up like any normal married couple. Oh, and tell Mom over there I’m gay and she needs to change her pink date book to a black one.”
    “Funneh.” But Steve chuckled as he headed off, and I swore I actually heard them arguing over whose turn it was to wash up.
    The gearbox took me another two hours, mostly swearing, some sweating, the rest hard graft, which was just in time to have Sue come in and tell me I’d got another one lined up. More cursing, only not in front of Sue. Part of me was a gentleman.
    I hadn’t heard off Jan this morning, It hadn’t exactly put me in the best of moods. Add to that nothing off Gray. The latter I could get to grips with, maybe. But Jan?
    Steve came over and offered to give me a hand. That helped a little, and we had it stripped within an hour, making up for the lousy time I’d put in on the first one.
    “That yours?”
    “Huh?” I said to Steve, winching the box back into place.
    “Phone. I think your mobile just went off.”
    Holding the box steady as Steve lowered it, I glanced over at my phone. “Sam.”
    “Yurp.” He came over.
    “Help Steve finish this.” If that was Jan—I started to shake a little.
    “You sure you didn’t get lucky last night?” said Sam, moving opposite me. He grabbed the chain and took over guiding Steve down.
    After pulling off my gloves, I looked at him over the phone as I tried to focus on the number. “You sure you don’t want to up the unemployment statistics?”
    Sam’s eyes lit up. “You got lucky last night.” He looked from me to Steve. “The boss, he got some nookie.”
    “Sam!” said Steve; then he gave me a wink. “Take as long as you need, yeah.”
    “Oh cheers, boss,” I said, and Steve nodded.
    “Just need the wages to go with that,” he said. “Sort it out with Sue, should I?”
    I gave him the finger, then moved over to my coat. “Thought it was supposed to mellow him,” I heard Sam whisper, but the rest was lost. I had a missed call and the number looked a little strange. Walking through the shop, I pressed redial and gave a wink at Sue. She blushed, which was kind of sweet considering she still did it after being with me nearly seven years. The phone rang, giving me enough time to take the stairs two at a time and head into my office.
    Christ. Jan sounded good on the phone. He also sounded out of breath.
    “S-sorry, just had to run for a cab.” Something covered the phone, probably Jan’s hand, and I heard a muffled voice. Directions? “Yeah,” Jan was back with me, “I meant to give you a call from the airport this morning, but I managed to get an earlier plane than expected, and I didn’t want to wake

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