The wind was tossing the leaves in the glancing sunshine: yellow brown and red up the steep sides of the Valleys. It was a bright breezy day, perfect for a walk along the wooded pathways with the leaves crisp underfoot. A day for strolling with the wind in your soft loose curls of hair, the laugh indulgent in your gentle eyes as you call and whistle to someone who has run on ahead of you.

He wasn’t there for Bryony’s first week; away on a training course. She got to know the others first: friendly, casually kind colleagues. They took her to McDonald's for lunch on her first day and asked her along for drinks on Friday. When she said she was going to her parents for the weekend they only said: “There’s lovely.” They smiled knowing gentle smiles that said: “You’re just a sweetie,” as they bantered the stories about what they’d got up to the previous Friday night. “Ooh shut up!” “I laughed my fucking arse off!”

The shy sweet smile on her curved soft mouth, the dip of her gentle eyes. She knew enough to know she wouldn’t like it out and about with them in spiked high heels and skin-clinging tiny dresses. The admiring rueful smile dipped in the corner of her mouth as she imagined her rotund little personage bouncing along with the slender young women who were her new colleagues like a ball.

They knew she would be happier going to see her family, walking the dogs and enjoying a mildly affectionate Sunday lunch. Her soft loose curls of chestnut hair with the red and gold lights as if she’d captured the autumn in her hair, her gentle eyes glinting with a laugh like the sun shining off a secret woodland pool. She just wasn’t a party animal. They were relieved that she understood this too. With her sweet curves and that shy lifted smile they knew she would get a kind of attention that she would find too hot to handle. The guys in the office called them The Grannies because they kept an eye out for other vulnerable young things. When Pete in Finance screwed Jan one time she was too drunk to know better they made his life such hell that he resigned and left the country. The senior partners pretended not to notice. The women senior partners and the partners’ wives were on The Grannies’ side; it wasn’t worth the trouble and strife, even for a good accountant.

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