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Chapter Five

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They stood regarding the warehouse interior, Bryan with his hands in his pockets and Michelle with hers on her hips. "There is no way this'll be clean in two weeks." Michelle stared at the filthy floor and the stacks of old splintery pallets and packing crates, blinking in the disturbed dusty air.

"Now who's being defeatist?" Bryan chided. She stuck out her tongue. "We just have to apply that same method to the clean up. It's no big deal."

"'Same method'?"

"Yeah, from making the business plan. Break it into small tasks, rank 'em in priority, and get 'er done." Bryan had his phone out, texting; then he strode over to the closest stack of pallets, the camera chirping which each shot he took. "Also we only have like three or four days."

"What!" She sneezed, only adding to her surprise.

"Maybe less. To clean. Listen. I know a guy who knows a guy. One of them will do the bathrooms—gut 'em, put in showers—we just have to pay for materials. Same for the guy who's going to paint. They both owe me big favours."

Michelle gaped. "Favours for what? And we're just going to trust 'some guys' to get everything done in a week?"

Bryan sighed, stashing his phone in his back pocket. "You're still mad. I get that. And I would be too." He paused, choosing his words: "You're really good at like, seeing the big picture, seeing everything that needs to get done. And that's awesome. We need that. But I'm good at people." He faltered under her withering glare. "Fine. Okay. Maybe not Uncle Gary. That's different." He held up his hands. "But I trust these guys. They'll get it done. They're excited—okay, admittedly they are excited for MuscleTone, but I've known them a long time. They'll come through."

They glared at each other across the warehouse floor; Michelle worked through many retorts and comebacks but each one died unsaid. She shrugged. "All right."

He smiled, about to reply, then raised an eyebrow, and pulled his phone from his pocket. "Hey. Awesome."

"First things first I guess would be to get rid of all this garbage—" Michelle began but he waved his phone at her, grinning.

"Already ahead of you! Someone'll pick up the pallets this afternoon." He texted his contact back, and stored his phone. "I know—

"You know a guy who collects scrap wood?" Michelle finished.

"A woman, actually. Pallets. She takes them, sands and stains them, and then turns them into headboards she sells on Etsy."

Michelle rubbed the bridge of her nose. "What?"

"Makes a good living at it, too. She's giving us twenty bucks for the pleasure of crossing one item off our list." Bryan grinned again, his good humour infectious. "So that's done. What's next?"

Bryan could heft quite a bit by himself, but Michelle was next to useless, and after a couple of hours of shifting boxes and pulling up debris her arms dangled, boneless and nerve-deadened, from her shoulders. It was mutually decided that while Bryan continued with the heavy activities, she would focus on smaller tasks like bagging, sweeping, piling, and fetching lunch from the small industrial diner nearby.

After a brief, soggy, regret-filled lunch Bryan drove off with a heavily laden Corolla to borrow a cargo van for larger items from a friend, leaving Michelle behind—since the front seat was full with broken-down cardboard.

Not sure what to do with herself—there was no particular order to the tasks left—she closed her eyes and jabbed a finger on her list. Result: the big garage door. The warehouse had a retracting bay door large enough to drive a large truck through; she had visions of the light and air that such an opening would provide.

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