Matt, Sadie, Helen & Mo

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“Do you really think she’s ready?” asked Matt.

“Yes, I really do,” replied Lorna as they strolled around the Holkham Estate in Norfolk, watching the last of the sun warming the ducks on the lake and the deer under the ancient trees. “She’ll be fine, she needs to go to playschool Matt, and it’s not fair to keep her at home forever.”

“I know you’re right, but all those snotty little noses sneezing over her,” he shuddered.

“Matt, we’ve had this discussion and I thought we’d agreed?”

“We have, it’s just that, well, she’s just so precious,” they strolled towards the tiny church on the hill, “I want to keep her safe.”

“I know. Come on, you can do it,” teased Lorna, “release your grasp, you’ve done so well over the past year and she’ll love it. What would you prefer for her? To stay in forever and never catch a cold, or go out and play, fall over, get hurt, have fun, laugh with her friends and sometimes get ill?”

“I know you’re right,” he smiled, “and she can mash the play dough into someone else’s floor for a change.”

“Exactly. And the paints. It might even be time to get new kitchen chairs if they’re only going to be used as places to sit while we eat, not create finger paint masterpieces.”

After the incident on the train Matt had seemed fine, at first then slowly as the publicity grew, and then waned, Matt had spun into inner turmoil. What if it had of been a bomb? What if he’d been killed? How would Lorna cope? Would Dot even remember him? Why was he working so hard? The questions kept coming, throughout the night. When the insomnia first started Matt had used the time to answer emails and get ahead for the coming morning, but after a few weeks the cracks started to show. The lack of sleep, the heavy tiredness that throbbed through Matt’s mind, the desperation and lack of answers, the unfairness was eating him alive. Eventually, Lorna had made him go to the doctor, who prescribed a weeks worth of sleeping pills and a short course of anti-depressants, and another holiday to Toby’s parent’s house in France, Lorna prescribing the latter. It was there, early one morning as Matt stood on the terrace, both hands wrapped around his coffee that he had his epiphany; he would sell Sherbourn Technologies. Why was he waiting for Dot to be older before he spent time with her, no one is guaranteed tomorrow? When was the rainy day he was saving himself for? If he had been killed, he would have missed it all.

The highest bidder, and the best fit for the purchase of Sherbourn Technologies came from an American software company based in Boston. Matt was contracted to stay at the helm for two years, when he could walk away with a hefty payout and share options if he wanted to, until then it was business as usual. The day the sale completed Matt, Lorna and Dot headed off to the coast of north Norfolk to spend some time together, bringing with them Dot’s puppy Cooper, who she had got for her third birthday. Cooper was a pure white Miniature Schnauzer with a nose as black as a lump of coal who would have to be dog enough to be Dot’s surrogate sibling. Lorna pushed a snoozing Dot in the buggy as Matt had his arms full of the sleeping pup, she glanced sideways at him and a chill ran through her heart. He reminded her of the footage from that fateful day, when he was carrying the big white rabbit home to Dot.

“I love you,” she said.

“I love you too.”

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