Love in Lockdown: An Anthology by Cora Reilly Page 0,1

with her jobs and then leaving that it struck me as unusual.

"Everything okay?"

She nodded, but I wasn't convinced as she had worry lines between her brows. "I'm just a little concerned about this virus that's been found in China. Coronavirus. You heard about it?"

I'd heard of it because there wasn't much I didn't get to hear about doing the job I did. Half the time I didn't want to know the things I learned, especially if it was one customer who was cheating on another in some way.

"Oh, don't worry about that. We've had these things before. Mad Cow disease: my ex-wife got that one. Swine flu," I tilted my head, "She was a pig, she got that one too."

Rosie laughed. "Didn't part as friends then?"

"I'd say not. Anyway, I'm sure it'll all be okay."

"I hope so." She replied. "Only I live with my mother since my own divorce and she has diabetes and asthma."

"Well, if you ever need any time off you only have to say." I reassured her. That's probably what this whole panic was about. Worry about her mother. So, Rosie had an ex too. Wonder if hers was batshit crazy, or… if she was. Let's face it, just because she seemed quiet and nice didn't mean she was.

I noticed she had nice eyes. They were a really pale blue. And she had short blonde hair with a long fringe; and she was cutely petite, I'd say around 5ft 4in. Her skin was pale. I realised I'd looked her over from top to toe when she blushed slightly, so I quickly changed my conversation to discussing the toilets, as that tended to end conversations very quickly. Sure enough, Rosie soon made her excuses and went to do her work.

For some reason today I became hyper-aware that Rosie was around. I kept an eye on her and told myself it was because she'd been so worried when she came in and I was just a concerned boss, but that didn't explain why I'd hovered around for a few seconds while she'd been bending over picking up bits of broken glass in the yard outside. She had a lovely butt, by the way, not that you asked.

And I started paying more attention to the news, and about the virus, and when Rosie came in we had a little two minute chat about the latest before carrying on with our days.

But the virus didn't go away. A man was found to be a 'super-spreader' and brought it to Italy and the U.K. and despite using contact tracing to try to contain it, before long people were being asked to only shop when they needed to, and then, pubs were asked to close…

Where some pubs stayed open one final night and went crazy, I closed straight down and put signs on the door for people to heed government advice. It was strange saying thank you and bye for now to my staff, some of whom were nervous and worrying about their finances. I did my best to reassure them while at the same time I was worrying about my own future. But right now, what was important was to cut down the spread of the virus and financial worries would have to wait their turn.

It was Friday morning when Rosie came to give the place one final big clean. I saw her chewing on her lip, to the point that she drew blood.

"You worrying about the virus again?" I was standing behind the bar and she came to stand in front of it, maintaining the required social distance of course.

She nodded. "You know how high-risk people like my mum have to stay in for twelve weeks? I had to move out, so I've been staying in a hotel the past two nights. I've been doing her shopping and picking up her medicines and leaving them outside her house. The hotel told me this morning that they're closing and to be honest, I've been worrying about being somewhere with so many other people anyway."

Her eyes filled with tears. "I've got no idea where I'm going to go, and it's all so strange anyway. I'm having to wave to my mum through the window. I wish the last time I'd hugged her, I'd clung on for hours."

"Hey, there, there." I said, not maintaining a social distance between us as I walked out from behind the bar and put my arm around her. Fuck it, she'd been around me here anyway. "Rosie, I have