Ally had never learned to drive so it was fortunate that Westerly's and her father's garage, where Gavin worked, were only minutes apart. Gavin would usually drop Ally off in the mornings - sulking days aside - and pick her up in the evenings, depending on his workload. Ally wandered across Westerly's car park and out through the gates, but instead of crossing over to the depot, she continued down the road. She smelled the familiar fumes as she approached the garage and was immediately taken back to her childhood, to the summer holidays she spent with Freya and Gavin, messing about with old, rusty bits of engines that her father had passed on to them. Ally hadn't been really that interested in the inner workings of cars, but Gavin and Freya were fascinated, so she'd tagged along.
Music blared between the clanging and squeals within the garage as the mechanics worked away. Ally didn't know how they could bear the deafening sounds all day and she was almost grateful she only had Kelly to put up with in her office. She took a tentative step onto the oily concrete, making her way to the rickety desk in the dark corner that constituted the office area. Papers and dirty cups littered the desk and lever arch files were left open, further papers peeking out of the plastic covers. Ally's father had never been very good at the admin side of the business. He could transform a heap of junk on three wheels into a dazzling, purring motor but had yet to master a sustainable filing system. Ally couldn't help grabbing a handful of loose papers and finding a home for them.
'I wouldn't bother if I were you.' Freya had spotted her sister and was making her way across the assault course of engine parts and tools, wiping her greasy hands on her overalls as she went. 'They'll be a mess again within five minutes.'
Ally finished the job anyway. 'Is Gavin here?'
'He's out on a job. Shouldn't be too long though. Do you want a brew while you wait?'
Ally pulled the rickety chair out from underneath the desk and perched on it while Freya put the kettle on. Bob had expected his son to follow in his mechanic footsteps, but Ally's brother wasn't interested in cars, apart from their ability to get him from A to B, and it was his daughter who inherited the engine-loving gene. Ally had thought her sister just wanted to be like Charlene from Neighbours and the novelty would pass, but she'd become an apprentice after leaving school and the novelty still had its shine thirteen years later.
'How can you stand this noise?' Ally asked as she took the chipped mug from Freya. Her head felt like it was splitting in two.
Freya shrugged as she blew on her own mug of coffee. 'You get used to it.'
'Even with a hangover?'
'I guess so. Plus, I've taken some pretty heavy duty painkillers I had left from my accident last year. They seem to be working pretty well.'
'You're supposed to dispose of those at the chemist or something. And should you be working with machinery after taking them?'
Freya patted Ally on the shoulder. 'Ever the sensible big sister.'
'Not that sensible, drinking so much during the week. I feel like I'm dying.'
'It's not that bad, surely?' Gavin asked. Ally looked up to see him standing in the gaping mouth of the garage doorway and her stomach turned in on itself, which was ridiculous. She shouldn't feel nervous about seeing Gavin. He was her husband.
'It is. Can I use it as an excuse for my grumpiness this morning?'
'It depends. What can I use as an excuse for being an arsehole?' A smile twitched at Gavin's lips and Ally knew she'd been forgiven.
'There is no excuse for you being an arsehole,' Freya told Gavin. 'I'm afraid it's just who are.' Freya backed away as Ally and Gavin glared at her.