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Beginning with her boobies, then the entire family.
Susan told her all about Alice, omitting only Alice's suggestions for her mother's love life, and Maria observed but did not comment on the fact that Alice seemed to be getting over her former lover pretty quickly.
"Now," Maria said changing the subject, "as I understand it you have now sold all of your late husbands and your family's businesses
"Yes, but I have retained through a trust arrangement a tiny shareholding with an option to either sell that, or even buy back the majority shareholding, in particular, and very unlikely circumstances."
"Oh, I thought you were retaining the Tamworth one".
"No, only the title property to that and three other properties. I have also recently resigned my seat on the board; I was a bit surprised they wanted me to stay on, which I did for a while but going forward there is some potential for conflicts of interest and I would prefer a free hand."
"I wasn't surprised they tried to hang on to you," responded Maria. "Bruce Mason told me that you could analyse a dodgy balance sheet better than most of his accountants and that's high praise from that boring so and so." Now, you and I are similar. We have both sold a business, or a share in a business which will keep us comfortably well off for the rest of our lives. However, as we are only thirty two and thirty one respectively, we will go to pieces with nothing to do. I'm offering you a job. This job involves part time work, outside, rain hail or shine, the conditions are basic, the pay is crap but I think you will find it interesting. I want you to become an auctioneer's clerk."
"Tell me what is behind it."
"I put in a bid to streamline the back office management of a big franchised group of stock and station agents. Basically they want to ensure all systems and staffing arrangements are common, reliable and efficient throughout the group. They have initially let an interim contract to see what we can do with just four locations. I understand the systems, administration and training issues, you already know how franchised businesses work and are a good qualified accountant. Most important you're a country woman with good connections in local business so I think we will be a good team."
"How much time is involved?"
"Two days a week for the first four weeks after that we report back to the client who will then decide what is to be done. We start with meeting the boss of the Hawksworth franchise in two weeks or so."
"Alright I'm not doing so much casual work as usual for the airline at the moment, I'll give it a go providing the local franchisee isn't difficult to deal with and it isn't long term. Now Maria what was the other thing you wanted to talk about."
"I'm going to have a baby."
"I can't believe it, when are you due? Who is the father?"
"I don't know who the father is yet, or when the baby will be born."
"Good Lord! How many possible fathers could there be"?
"Oh Susan, I don't know who the father will be because I'm not pregnant yet. I'm just telling you what I'm going to do. I've thought it all through. I have had three live in relationships including one marriage. All of them had disastrous endings. Apart from that I have had rather more than my fair share of men in relationships where we lived apart or they were short term. The problem is me, I love men but I am certain that I would make a lousy wife. I like to be the boss, but I can't get on with a man who likes to be bossed. So if I want to be a mother and have a family it will have to be as a single mum."
"That's not an easy road, take it from me."
"Susan", said Maria gently "it's much easier for an experienced woman over thirty who can afford a full time nanny if she wants to, than it is for a frightened, barely fifteen year old child."
Susan could not answer that, she just grasped her friends hand for a moment and asked, "When will you start AID."
"I won't, I just have to pick out my sperm donor and get him into bed."
"Maria," Susan said weakly, "you never