Curt groaned and dug in his pocket, and Toni realized that chirping she heard was his cell phone ringing. She didn't like that little crease of frown that formed between his eyes when he looked at the number on the display. She liked even less that surprised look on his face when the person on the other end started talking, and the way he shook his head.
"Never rains but it pours, huh?" he finally said. "Okay, I'm out with some people, but I'll be home in about an hour and then I can take off again. No problem. Tell him not to worry about anything. And if he needs anything, call me."
Toni sagged against the wall, feeling a sick little weakness in her knees and in her stomach. It hadn't even occurred to her that something might have happened to Annalee while they were out of town, until she heard Curt say 'he' and the relief hit her.
"Sherwood got trampled yesterday. Fell down the escalator at the mall and broke his leg," Curt said, when he finally slid the phone back into his pocket.
"Isn't he covering a basketball tournament this weekend?"
"Yeah, that was Loni. She showed up to take pictures and he wasn't anywhere around. Luckily, the schools reporter was able to fill in, and she got the pictures. That's all the parents really care about, seeing their kid in his moment of glory. But I have to fill in for him tomorrow, do the follow-up, catch all the stats."
"Poor Sherwood. What?" she had to ask, when Curt grinned and shook his head.
"Loni says he's just glad for the excuse to sit down for a while. Of course, it could be the pain meds he's on, but he's in a good mood."
Toni shook her head. Some things about the people at the Picayune just didn't add up. She liked working there, liked the camaraderie and teasing and support, and the feeling of belonging after such a short time, but sometimes she just didn't understand the mindset. It would be nice, she decided, if she could stick around long enough to not only understand, but to make it part of her.