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    Written by: Greg Stevens   Produced by: John Holmes   Directed by: Mark Piper

In Melbourne, the Palmer house is in darkness. The front door suddenly opens and Beryl comes in. She switches the lights on and heads into the kitchen, carrying a bag of shopping. She puts the bag down on the table and starts unpacking, lifting out a carton of eggs and then a tin, which she looks at closely. The 'phone then suddenly starts ringing and she goes and answers it. Shirley Ryan comes on and Beryl asks her what she can do for her. Shirley explains that she was hoping she might be able to come round for a chat. Looking surprised, Beryl asks what it's about. Shirley tells her that it's complicated to explain over the 'phone, but she was talking to Heather O'Brien at work the other day and Heather thought Beryl might be able to help. Beryl replies that she'll certainly try. She then asks Shirley if she'd like to stay for a bite to eat, adding that she could do with the company. Shirley accepts and tells her that she'll see her in half an hour. The two women hang up. Beryl looks thoughtful.

At the O'Briens', the house is also in darkness. The front door suddenly opens and Katie comes in, followed by Heather, Jeff and Mike. Katie switches the lights on and the four of them then stand in the hallway in an awkward silence. After a few seconds, Mike comments that the Sergeant didn't seem such a bad bloke. He adds that he supposes he's dealing with their sort of problems every day: kids making mistakes. Jeff sullenly says he promises it won't happen again. Mike assures him that he believes him. Heather adds that they all do. Jeff tells them that he's just sorry he dragged them all into it. Heather replies that it's over now, so they can forget about it. Jeff, though, retorts that it isn't over: he's been charged - he has to appear before the magistrate. Heather explains that she meant it's over for tonight; she'll make dinner and they can relax. Jeff, though, tells her that he doesn't want anything; he's not feeling the best; can he go straight to bed? Mike tells him that he can if that's what he wants. Jeff hobbles off. Heather quietly says to Mike that Jeff just doesn't want to face them. She heads into the kitchen to get the dinner ready. Mike gives Katie - who's standing next to him - a comforting kiss and says he'll give her mother a hand.

In the kitchen, Heather is putting on her apron. Katie follows Mike in there and tells her parents that she was supposed to be going out with Luke tonight, but she'll tell him that she can't make it. Mike, though, says no: she should keep her date; there's no point ruining her night. He adds that she had better fill Luke in on what's happening as well, as they don't want Jeff stinging him for money to buy booze. Heather, looking shocked, comments that she hardly thinks that's likely. Mike retorts that it's better to be on the safe side. Katie leaves them to go and get ready. Alone with Heather, Mike asks her if there's anything they can do. Heather says she thinks they should show Jeff a little trust now; they're acting like he's an alcoholic. Mike, though, tells her that he could end up one if he's not careful; he doesn't like what's happening to their son any more than she does, but they mustn't close their eyes to it: they know Jeff has got a drink problem, and he only stole because he couldn't afford to buy it. Heather, looking worried, asks what they can do. Mike says he's not sure - but they can't afford to be soft with him, he knows that much.

Sitting at the table in the living room at the Palmers', Beryl pours a glass of wine and hands it to Shirley Ryan. Shirley takes it and then explains that there's one of the children from the Home that she's worried about. She quickly adds that she's hardly a child anymore, actually - she's 16: Leanne Watson. She asks Beryl if she knows her. Beryl says, "Pretty little thing? Dark hair?" Shirley agrees that that's her. She goes on that Leanne has been with them since she was ten: her mother died, no one knew who her father was and no relative wanted her; anyway, being 16, it's time for Leanne to leave the Home - but they're having enormous problems placing her with a foster family. Beryl asks if they can't find her somewhere to board. Shirley, though, asks how the girl would afford it; she hasn't got a job - and she'd rather see her with someone who'll take her under their wing and look after her. She continues that Leanne has been in the Home for six years and she's going to have to make a lot of adjustments: no more rules... all that freedom...; she doesn't want her to get mixed up with the wrong crowd. Beryl, looking thoughtful, says she wishes she could suggest someone, but-- Shirley interrupts her and tells her that she was hoping she could take her in - only for a month... Looking surprised, Beryl says she doesn't think so - she's got rather a lot on her plate at the moment. Shirley points out that it would be company for her. Beryl replies that she knows, but she doesn't think so. She adds that, if it's a question of money, perhaps she could-- Shirley interrupts and tells her that, unfortunately, it's not just a question of money. Beryl suggests that surely there's someone. Shirley replies that, actually, Beryl is her last hope. Beryl tells her that now she's making her feel guilty. Shirley says she's sorry. Beryl asks what will happen. Shirley replies that Leanne will have to make it on her own; learn to manage the best way she can. She adds that it's not their fault - they can only do so much. Beryl looks thoughtful.

Next door, Heather puts her and Mike's dinner on the table in the living room. Mike comes out of Jeff's bedroom and Heather asks him if their son has changed his mind. Mike replies that he hasn't. Heather suggests that maybe he really is sick. Mike comments that he wouldn't be surprised - it's a while since he had a drink; he's probably beginning to crave for it now. Heather points out that he can't go without food for too long, as he's going back to school tomorrow. Mike says that, until Jeff has got the grog out of his system, he doesn't think he'll be eating much. Heather says she still can't believe it: it happened so quickly. Mike tells her that that's the way it happens with some people; he'd say that Jeff has been hiding it for some time. He then adds that he meant what he said about being tough on their son: as much as he'd like to think he has, Jeff hasn't got the willpower to give up the grog by himself; one of them is going to have to be with him all the time: either he or Heather can drive him to and from school, he can have lunch at home, and if he wants anything, they'll buy it for him rather than give him the cash. Heather, looking shocked, tells him that Jeff will hate them for it. Mike insists that it's the only way, but Heather snaps that of course it's not. Mike asks her what else she'd suggest. He adds that he knows they're going to be tough on Jeff - and it'll be tough on them, as well - but if they want to see him get back on the rails, they've got to go through with it.

It's the middle of the night and the O'Brien house is in darkness. A light suddenly comes on in Jeff's room and the door opens. Jeff hobbles out of the room and quietly makes his way into the kitchen. He bends down to the rubbish next to the 'fridge and picks up an empty bottle of scotch. He unscrews the lid and gulps down the final few remaining dregs. He then looks at the bottle and screws the lid back on.

The next morning, Wayne is with Karen in the lounge room at the Fisher house in Sydney, and he comments that Jill had better get a move on. Karen asks him if he's suggested to her that she see Patricia while she's in Melbourne. Wayne replies that he hasn't yet. Karen tells him that he'd better get it off the ground the moment Jill comes in, as they don't want any foul-ups. Wayne says he still thinks it's a waste of time: Patricia isn't going to discuss business in front of Jill. Karen, though, retorts that, even if Jill doesn't find out anything, it's always useful to have someone who's friends with the enemy. Wayne comments that as long as she knows what she's doing... Jill suddenly comes into the room and says she's ready at last. Wayne immediately tells her that he was thinking: why doesn't she call Patricia before they leave, and arrange to see her in Melbourne? He adds that it would be nice to thank her personally for taking care of Robin's treatment again. Seeing the wariness on Jill's face, Karen asks her if she thinks she'd object because Patricia is the opposition. Jill asks her if she would. Karen replies that she can't tell Jill who her friends should or shouldn't be; she'd only ask that Jill shows a little discretion if Patricia tries to wheedle any information out of her about her business. Jill assures her that she's got no worries there. Karen smiles and says, "Fine. Call her and tell her you're coming." Jill heads over to the 'phone. Karen quietly tells Wayne to have a good trip - and hope that it's a productive one...

The 'phone rings at Toorak, and Patricia answers it in the lounge room. Jill comes on, and Patricia immediately smiles and tells her that it's lovely to hear her voice. Jill explains that she's ringing to thank her for taking up the payments for Robin's treatment again. Patricia tells her not to thank her - she feels bad for dropping it in the first place. Jill asks her if she's sure she can afford it. Patricia insists that she's positive, so she suggests that they not mention it anymore. Changing the subject, Jill explains that she's coming down to Melbourne today and she thought she'd pop in and see her. Patricia replies that that would be lovely. At Toorak, Mike suddenly comes into the lounge room. On the 'phone, Jill starts to say that she has to see Terry, and Karen's-- Patricia interrupts her, though, and tells her that there's somebody at the door; she has to go. She hangs up abruptly. Mike walks over to her, carrying some files, and says he's been going through those papers and-- Patricia, though, interrupts him and asks him if he got on to Luke. Mike replies that he's just been speaking to him. Patricia asks him if Luke was interested in coming to work for them. Mike tells her that he was interested enough to come for an interview - he'll be there about 11am. He then tells Patricia that he reckons she's making the right move there: Luke is a bright young fellow. Patricia replies that she just hopes he's interested in what she's got to offer him.

There's a knock on the front door at the Palmers', and Beryl answers it to find Heather standing there. Looking surprised, Heather comments that she thought Beryl would be ready; isn't she working at the Children's Home today? Beryl replies that, no, she isn't - today is one of the few days she has off! Heather suddenly remembers, explaining that she has so much going on that she can't seem to think straight! Beryl invites her in for a minute, and they head into the lounge room. As they walk in there, Beryl tells Heather that she's thought of a couple of people who might be able to place Leanne Watson. She tells Heather the names, but Heather replies that they've already tried them. She then goes on that she mentioned to Shirley that Beryl might be able to help out. Beryl explains that Shirley came over last night, but she didn't really feel she can take on the responsibility at the moment. Heather assures her that she doesn't have to explain: children cause you enough of a headache even when they do have a good home. She then announces that she had better be off, as she's running late. Beryl ask her if she thinks they have much chance of placing Leanne. Heather tells her that they just have to keep their fingers crossed. She goes, leaving Beryl looking thoughtful.

Patricia is on the 'phone in the lounge room at Toorak, but she tells the caller - Beryl - that David isn't there, and she asks if she can help. Beryl explains that, actually, it's something she wants to discuss with David personally. Patricia asks her if she wants to leave a message. Beryl replies that, if she thought it would be passed on, she would. Raising her eyebrows, Patricia comments that Beryl is a touch sour this morning, and she asks if it has anything to do with David offering to stay with her rather than going back to Beryl. Beryl retorts that, one of these days, David will wake up to the fact that Patricia is pulling the wool over his eyes. Patricia smiles and tells her that she's welcome to think that, but she'd say that this is one problem that Beryl isn't going to solve with her chequebook. Beryl asks her what that means. Patricia explains that she's talking about young Lucy: she heard Beryl paid the money to send her back to her mother. She asks how long that's going to last; before Lucy knows where she is, the money will run out and she'll be back where she started; so much for Beryl's chequebook charity. Beryl retorts that at least she did something positive for the child - which is more than Patricia did. Patricia snaps that she was ready to take the girl into her home and take responsibility for her - but then it's so much easier to sign a piece of paper, isn't it. Beryl retorts that, for Patricia's information, she's about to foster a child from the Home - and Patricia can make damn sure that she won't make a mess of it like she did with Lucy. A smile crosses Patricia's face. A look of worry crosses Beryl's at what she's just committed herself to.

Later that morning, Beryl and Heather are walking in the grounds at the Children's Home. Heather asks Beryl what made her change her mind, and Beryl explains that she realised she was being selfish. Heather asks her if she's sure she wants to do it. Beryl assures her that she's sure. A cab suddenly passes them and pulls up outside the main building. A girl is standing by the main doors and she walks over to them. Heather asks her if she's all set to go, and the girl - Leanne - says she is. Heather reminds her that she's met Mrs. Palmer before, and Leanne says a polite, "Hello, Mrs. Palmer." Beryl comments that there's no sense in them hanging around. She thanks Heather for pushing things through so quickly and she then turns to Leanne and asks her if she's looking forward to coming to live with her. Leanne says she is. Beryl tells her that she's sure they'll get along just fine. The two of them get into the back of the cab, which drives off. Beryl waves to Heather as they go. Heather stands there, watching them.

A while later, the front door opens at the Palmer house, and Leanne walks in - carrying her suitcase - followed by Beryl. Beryl tells her that she's made up the bed in the spare room - and she'll make a cup of tea shortly. Leanne asks what time she'll have to be in bed by. Beryl explains, "Whenever you feel tired!" Leanne suddenly spots the photos on the cabinet by the window, and she asks Beryl if they're of her family. Beryl replies that they are. She then points out that the groom in the photo Leanne is looking at is her son, Kevin, and the bride is his wife, Lynn. She adds that they're in London now. Leanne asks if she'll be in her room by herself, then. Beryl tells her that she will - there's no one else there, just them. Leanne asks her if she doesn't have a husband. Beryl says, "Yes... but we're separated..." Leanne looks around and says the house is nice. She adds that she's good at housework; Beryl doesn't have to worry about her not doing her share. Beryl assures her that she knows that. She suggests they have that tea, and Leanne smiles at her.

Wayne's car pulls up the driveway at Toorak and stops outside the house. Jill, who's sitting in the passenger seat, looks at the house. She then turns to Wayne and asks him if he'll be alright with Fee. Wayne assures her that he reckons he can manage. Jill tells him that she won't be long. She gets out of the car and Wayne opens his briefcase. Jill walks up to the house and knocks on the door. Wayne watches as, a few moments later, Patricia comes out and hugs her. She glances over at him.

Patricia escorts Jill into the lounge room. As she does so, she smiles and tells Mike to gather up all the confidential papers as the opposition's there! She then asks Jill if she's met Mike O'Brien. Jill replies that she hasn't, officially. Mike comments that he thinks Jill has met everyone else in his family, but he's missed out! Patricia explains that Mike is her manager - he's in charge of the day-to-day running of the company. Jill smiles and says she won't tell Karen. Patricia assures her that it's no secret: the news will be in all the trade journals in a few days. Jill, looking wary, says that it's just that, after letting the cat out of the bag about Matt... Patricia assures her that that's water under the bridge as far as she's concerned. She then asks Jill how she likes working for Karen Fox. Jill tells her that it's OK so far. Patricia asks her if Karen didn't mind her coming to see her. Jill explains that Karen told her that if she and Patricia were friends, it had nothing to do with her. Patricia comments that that's very nice of the lady - she might reward her with a few business tips from time-to-time!

Outside, Wayne is sitting in his car, looking at some papers, when another car pulls up behind his and the driver gets out. It's Luke, who's dressed smartly in a suit. As he passes Wayne, he murmurs, "Morning," and then heads up to the door and knocks. Wayne looks thoughtful.

Inside, Patricia answers the door. In the lounge room, Mike asks Jill how long she's down for. Jill explains that it's just until tomorrow morning. At the door, Patricia thanks Luke for coming and they head into the lounge room. Luke looks surprised to see Jill. Jill coldly mutters, "Hello, Luke." Patricia explains to her that Luke is there for an interview - hopefully, he's going to be working for them. Jill, looking surprised, says, "Oh..." She then goes on that Wayne is waiting out in the car and she said she wouldn't be long. Patricia points out that she's only just got there, but Jill tells her that it's a long drive to Ararat; she doesn't want to leave it too late. Patricia tells her that it's up to her. Jill turns to Mike and tells him that it was nice to meet him. She then curtly says, "Bye, Luke," and she and Patricia walk to the door. As they do so, Jill realises that she still hasn't thanked Patricia properly for paying for Robin's-- Patricia quickly interrupts her and tells her to remember their discussion this morning: the subject is closed. She tells Jill that she hopes everything works out for her this afternoon, and Jill murmurs, "Me too." She goes. Patricia heads back into the lounge room and tells Luke, "Down to business." She adds that she presumes Mike has filled him in on the job they're offering. Luke says, "Yeah." Patricia asks him what he thinks. Luke replies that it all sounds very exciting, but-- Patricia asks if the money isn't good enough. Luke assures her that the money is fine; his only concern is how long it's going to last - what if the company folded tomorrow? Patricia tells her that she can assure him it won't. Luke goes on that the job he's got at the moment isn't great, but it is secure. Patricia says that, normally, she'd give him time to think it over, but the way things are-- Luke interrupts and explains that Mike said she wanted to get the business under way as soon as possible. Patricia tells him that there's somebody else on their shortlist, but he's second choice; however, if Luke can't give her a definite answer today... Mike points out to him that he could do a lot worse than working as his assistant. Patricia says it seems to her that he's got nothing to lose. Looking thoughtful, Luke tells her that she's right: she can count him in. Mike exclaims, "Good on you!" Patricia smiles and says, "Welcome aboard!"

Later that day, Jeff is sitting on a bench at the sports ground. He suddenly spots his father walking over, and he gets up and hobbles towards him. Mike snaps at him that he's been waiting for him outside the school gates. Jeff retorts that he's not coming home for lunch - he told Mike that this morning. Mike snaps at him that he is coming home. Jeff tells him that he wants to watch the guys train. Mike, though, retorts that he's not spending his lunchtime without him or Heather around. Jeff asks what he's going to do without any money. Mike tells him that, until the grog's out of his system, they're staying with the rules they worked out this morning. Jeff snaps, "The rules you worked out." Mike tells him that it won't be too bad - Luke will be there. Jeff snaps, "Big deal."

Heather is with Beryl in the kitchen at the O'Briens', and she asks her how Leanne is settling in. Beryl replies that she's settling in slowly; she's a bit nervous. Heather comments that it's to be expected. Beryl says she thought Katie and Jeff might like to come over to dinner; she thought Leanne might relax with kids her own age. Heather, looking wary, replies that Katie would love to, she's sure, but she doesn't know about Jeff. Beryl asks why. Heather explains that he wasn't feeling the best when he left for school this morning. Changing the subject, Heather asks Beryl what she left Leanne doing. Beryl explains that she's settling in and unpacking; she's putting her clothes in the wardrobe. She then adds that, the more she thinks about it, the more she's sure she's doing the right thing; there's nothing like having a kid around the house to brighten it up, is there? Heather, suddenly looking upset, says "No..."

Wayne is standing using a pay 'phone, talking to Karen. He tells her that he'll have to be quick as they're in a restaurant and Jill is just powdering her nose before they go to Ararat. Karen asks him what he's found out. Wayne replies that she's worrying for nothing: Patricia's outfit is strictly small potatoes: the guy Patricia has got as her manager used to run a lawnmower outfit, and before that, he ran a building company that went bust; his second in command is some kid who dropped out of law school and was doing a clerk's job before Patricia got to him. Looking surprised, Karen asks if that's it. Wayne tells her that it seems as though their competition doesn't have any money to go after the top dogs. Karen, though, says it doesn't add up somehow - if Patricia is as cunning as he makes her out to be, she can't see her making any stupid decisions about staff; she must know that if she hasn't got the right people at the top, she'll never make a success of the company. Wayne listens, but then says that he's been thinking that all Patricia's threats to wipe Karen off the face of the earth are hot air. Karen, though, replies that she still gets the feeling Patricia's up to something that they don't know about...

At Toorak, Patricia pours a glass of champagne and hands it to her new business partner: Roger Carlyle. As she does so, she tells him that she knows it's a bit early, but she thought they should toast the success of their new arrangement. Roger takes the glass and says he couldn't agree more. Patricia proposes, "To success and temperance." Roger raises his glass and adds that he would say they should toast her for pulling off her part of the bargain. Patricia replies that there were a few anxious moments, but she managed; coaxing his son to join them was one of them. Roger comments that it's as well that she did, because if she hadn't convinced Luke to join them - and Mike O'Brien, of course - they wouldn't be doing business. Patricia says, "Here's to a successful business deal. " Roger smiles and says he'd go along with that. He proposes, "To success." Patricia smiles back at him.


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