Tim wiggled more firmly into the chair. It was his. Finally! Tomorrow he would bring his things in and truly make it his own. Then he’d start doing the job he’d always known he could, given the chance.

“Tim, you got a minute?”

He looked up, scowling. Margaret. She’d put in for the job too. “Yes. What is it?”

“There’s a staff meeting at eight and I have the budget figures for next year. I thought you might want to go over them.” She held up a small packet of papers. Black haired, trim, she had a firm, no nonsense face. Everything about her was neat and organized from her short hair to her dark shoes.

He rose and went to the round conference table with a small inner pleasure. “Let’s take a look.”

She put the printout on the table and he immediately went to the training section. “We’ll need to cut that figure in half, at least.”

“We use that much! Last year it was barely enough.”

“And this year we are going to be more circumspect about who is going to training. I know you and Sylvia attended Stress Management and a couple of others that really weren’t job related. Our budgets are being cut. We need to start preparing now.” He saw frustration in her eyes, the set of her mouth but she couldn’t argue with him. What he said was true. He felt a rush of pleasure. This was one of the areas he’d always wanted to fix.

“Fine. I’ll redo the figures. Anything else?”

He looked the rest of it over. Too much for supplies but he let that slide for now. It would look good at the end of the year when he turned it back unspent. “No. The rest will do.”

Forty-five minutes later, he was seated in the staff conference room. He was one of them now. It was going to take some getting used to but to succeed he would have to act like he’d always belonged.

The ten-minute briefings followed; each department giving a rundown on what was going on, where things were. Tim felt his heart begin to pound as the briefing went around the table. He listened carefully. His department distributed budgets to these people. He needed to know what they were doing. Then it was his turn.

“I’m still getting my feet wet,” brief smiles. “Our priorities for this next week will be budgets, of course. There are some areas I want to start streamlining so we can meet your needs.”

He could see the slight nods. His department hadn’t been known for its speedy responses as far as purchasing requests were concerned, finding answers to questions. All that would change. Then he was going to clean up their departments too. Each of them had their own area of waste in both time and expenditures.

* * *

“How was your first day?” Joyce turned her cheek to him so he could kiss it.

“Good. There’s a lot to do, a lot I want to do! It’s going to be good,” he noticed the slump to her shoulders, the shadows beneath her eyes. “You didn’t sleep well last night,”

“No. I’ve a doctor’s appointment tomorrow.” She turned the heat down under the peas.

He should offer to go with her but there was no way he could. If it were good news, she could share it with him when he got home. If it wasn’t, well, it wouldn’t be the first time.

He realized she’d said something. “What?”

“Nothing…you have work?” She nodded at the briefcase he’d set on the table.

“Yeah,” he resisted the urge to pick it up, get started that moment.

* * *

“What is going on!” Bud slammed into Tim’s office, face red.

Tim forced himself to relax. He may as well get used to it. This was only going to be the first of many. “Excuse me?”

“I’ve got a clerk in tears because she says you’re going to bill her!”

“She expended funds she didn’t have the authority to. I wouldn’t expect you to know that because she hasn’t been turning the vouchers in for your signature.”

“Of course she hasn’t! She hasn’t for years. It’s a waste of my time to sign those stupid vouchers when it’s what I hired her for. She