Huge thanks to my agent, Dorie Simmonds, and my editor, Allison Dickens, for all their support and enthusiasm; to Jennifer at the Dorie Simmonds Agency for all her work behind the scenes; to Millie for her fab photography; to Maddy and Henry for their inspiration; to Abigail for her legal brains and e-mail banter; to my parents for everything; and to Mark for everything else.
ABC Amber LIT Converter v2.02
S Millie Pilkington
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
GEMMA TOWNLEY launched her writing career at the age of sixteen with a book review inHarpers & Queen . At Reading University, unimpressed with the official university paper,Spark, she launched a satirical rival,Spank, which she edited for a year before taking over as deputy editor onSpark and features editor onSouth- East Student . While at Reading, Gemma, a singer, cellist, and bassist, also found time to record two albums with her band, Blueboy, with whom she toured the U.K., France, and Japan.
After graduating, she worked on and wrote financial articles for a number of magazines, includingHomes and Ideas ,Pay Magazine ,Expat Investor , andCompany . At the same time, she wrote about music for style magazines includingG-Spot andSecond Generation . She later became editor ofFinancial Management magazine and now works in communications.
She lives in London with her husband, Mark.
ABC Amber LIT Converter v2.02
I have this little fantasy. I?m walking down the street, on my way somewhere really cool, when I see Mike out of the corner of my eye. I?m looking good; I?ve lost a few pounds and have just got back from somewhere exotic, so I?ve got a nice tan. I?m walking along hand in hand with Pierce Brosnan, or maybe Russell Crowe?you know, so long as he keeps his temper under control. Or even Brad Pitt. I mean, I know he?s married to Jennifer Aniston and everything, but I?d only beborrowing him. The point is that I?m with someone gorgeous, glamorous, and obviously besotted with me. Whereas Mike is on his own and looks really lonely. His horribly thin blond girlfriend has left him and he is looking terrible. I can tell just from looking that things are not going well?he has lost his arrogant swagger and is sort of shuffling along the street. And when he claps eyes on me he suddenly sees how stupid he was to dump me. He immediately understands that things started going wrong from the moment we split up, and he realizes that he has never stopped loving me. He looks at me and smiles hopefully. Do I stop and talk to him? Do I, hell. I walk past, giving him a sympathetic smile as Pierce/Brad/Russell and I make our way to some glamorous party.
That?s the way it?s meant to go. That?s the way I?ve imagined it for the past two years. Unfortunately, life doesn?t always go as planned.
In reality, it?s Sunday afternoon when I bump into Mike. A dreary, rainy Sunday afternoon, and David and I are on our way back from Homebase, the hardware store; my curtains have fallen down and David has offered to help me put up a new rail. We?re walking along carrying this stupid iron rod thing and I?m not really looking at anything except my feet. So when a car slams to a halt next to us and drenches us with water, I go over to the driver?s window and start shouting stuff about Sunday drivers and people not looking where they?re going. I?m wet through and my new Jimmy Choos are ruined (I know I shouldn?t have worn them, but I was watching old episodes of ?Sex and the City? last night, and was inspired to turn a boring shopping trip into a glamorous expedition by wearing high, frivolous shoes). And then the car window comes down and a really sexy face looks up at me and says ?Georgie??
I mean, I?m over Mike. I really am. And I?m also completely in love with my boyfriend, David. But that doesn?t mean that I?ve forgotten that Mike dumped me by leaving a note on the kitchen table. That after two years of running around after him, he didn?t even have the decency to say good-bye. Naturally, I think he?s despicable. And I?m very pleased that he never got back in touch (not even to see how I was or anything), because I have absolutely nothing to say to him. It?s just that I?d like to know, you know, that things have gone downhill since we broke up. That he can?t believe how stupid he was to leave me. That he hugs his pillow at night, pretending that it?s me. That he would do anything to get me back. Just so I can turn him down, you understand.
The thing is, Mike?s the sort of person people like me don?t usually get to go out with. I mentioned Brad Pitt earlier, remember? Well, Mike?s up there with him and Jude Law and Hugh Grant and Robbie Williams. He?s drop- dead gorgeous. Everyone loves him. When you walk down the street with him people stare. And for two whole years he was going out with me.
So there I am in the street, with hair stuck to my face, looking at Mike sitting in some amazing car, grinning. He starts saying something about how great it is to see me, and then he sees David.
I should probably mention that David and Mike don?t get on very well. Actually, they hate each other?s guts?have since school. It?s never been an issue?I didn?t start going out with David until after Mike left, and I haven?t seen Mike since. But it does make chance meetings like this a bit awkward. For a moment I kind of revel in the idea of two men staring each other out because of me, but then I start feeling a bit sorry for David. He?s always been the one who did well for himself, got a proper job and everything, while Mike has been doing sod all since leaving university (he didn?t do much there either by all accounts?he gets very sketchy when you ask him about his degree), and now here?s Mike in a swanky BMW looking like a pop star or something, while we stand on the road feeling cold and miserable. Or is that just me?
Either way, this is not the time for conversations with Mike. I have no time to compose myself and to suddenly appear cool and successful. So I tell him we have to be getting on (?you know,? I want to add, ?got a couple of premieres to go to . . .?), then he winks and says ?Bye, gorgeous,? and he?s off.
David and I stand by the road for a couple of minutes not saying anything. Like we?re not quite ready to go back to our boring existence just yet.
?Come on, darling,? David manages eventually. ?Let?s go home and have a nice cup of tea.?
We get back to my flat and David puts the kettle on. David?s response to any crisis is to make tea. Which is good?I mean, Mike used to go out and buy a bottle of whiskey if things didn?t go his way. Tea is much better in my