This Man

Page 21

‘I’m going to get changed and give my Mum a call,’ I get up, taking my wine with me. ‘I’ll meet you on the sofa soon.’


I really need to speak to my Mum. Kate’s my best friend, but you can’t beat your Mother when you just want comfort. Not that I can tell her why I need comforting. She would be horrified.

Once I’m changed into my baggy pants and a vest top, I flop onto my bed and dial my Mum. It rings once before she answers.

‘Ava?’ Her voice is shrill, but still soothing.

‘Hi, Mum.’

‘Ava? Ava? Joseph, I can’t hear her. Am I doing it right? Ava?’

‘I’m here, Mum. Can you hear me?’

‘Ava? Joseph, it’s broken. I can’t hear anything. Ava!’

I hear my Dad’s mumbled moans in the background before he comes on the line. ‘Hello?’

‘Hi, Dad,’ I yell.

‘You don’t have to bloody shout!’

‘She couldn’t hear me.’

‘That’s because she had the bloody thing upside down, stupid woman.’

I hear my Mum laugh in the background, followed by a slapping sound that is, without doubt, her walloping my Dad’s shoulder. ‘Is she there? Can you hear her? Give me it here.’ There’s a little scuffle before she’s back on the line. ‘Ava? Are you there?’

‘Yes!’ Why didn’t I just ring the landline? She insisted I ring her new mobile so she can get the hang of it, but good God, she’s hard work. She’s only forty seven, but a complete techno-phobic.

‘Ah. That’s better, I can hear you now. How are you?’

‘Good. I’m good, Mum. You?’

‘Yes, everything’s fine. Guess what? We have exciting news,’ She doesn’t give me a chance to guess. ‘Your brother’s coming home to visit!’

I sit up in excitement. Dan’s coming home? I’ve not seen my brother for six months. He’s living the dream on the Gold Coast as a surf instructor and only comes home once or twice a year. We were so close. Kate’s going to freak out over this news, and not in a good way.

‘When?’ I demand.

‘Next Sunday. Isn’t it exciting? I was only saying to your Dad last week that we should fly out to see him, but he won’t get on a plane. You know what he’s like.’

My Dad’s fear of flying is highly frustrating to my poor Mum, who has to endure a two day drive to Spain every year. ‘Do you know what his plans are?’ I press.

‘He’s flying into Heathrow, coming straight down to Cornwall for the week to see me and Dad, and then he’s making his way back up to London. Will you come with him? You’ve not visited in weeks.’

I suddenly feel rotten. I’ve not seen my parents for nearly eight weeks. ‘I’ve been so busy at work, Mum. I’ve got the Lusso launch, it’s hectic. I’ll try my best, okay?’

‘I know, darling. How’s Kate?’ she asks. Mum still loves Kate. She was as devastated as I was when she and Dan called it quits.

‘She’s great.’

‘Good. Have you heard from Matt?’ she asks tentatively. I know she’s hoping it’s a big resounding NO. She wasn’t as devastated when Matt and I split up. He wasn’t Mum’s favourite person. Come to think of it, Matt wasn’t many peoples favourite person. We’ve talked since we split, but Mum doesn’t need to know that.

‘No, I’m just getting on with things.’ I inform her, hearing her sigh in relief. I won’t volunteer exactly what I have been getting on with. I’m too ashamed of myself.

‘Okay. Joseph, get the door, will you? Ava, I’ve got to go. Sue’s here to pick me up for yoga.’

‘Okay, Mum. I’ll ring next week.’

‘Okay. Good luck for your launch and have some fun!’ she orders. I know she thinks I’ve wasted seven years on two worthwhile relationships. She’s right. I have.

‘Bye, Mum.’

I hang up. Dan’s coming home. Well, that’s cheered me up a little. And I always feel better when I’ve spoken to my Mum. They’re miles away and I miss them like crazy, but I’m comforted by the fact that they’ve escaped the rat race of London, taking early retirement in Newquay after Dad’s heart attack scare.

My phone starts ringing and I look at the screen, expecting to see my Mothers number – she’s probably forgot to lock the keypad and sat on it – but it’s not. It’s Jesse Ward.

Ughhhhhhhhh! ‘Reject.’ I huff as I red button him and throw my phone on my bed. I leave my bedroom to go and join Kate on the sofa, hearing it ring again as I walk down the hall. I ignore it. The man is relentless. At least I don’t have to see him again. He’s given me the perfect reason to flatly refuse designing anything for him.

Chapter 6

‘Morning,’ I sing to Tom as I sashay past his desk on Thursday.

He looks up at me over his thick framed spectacles – a blatant fashion statement and Tom’s effort to be taken more seriously. I should tell him to lose the canary yellow dress shirt and grey trousers that are verging on leggings. That would do the trick.

‘Did someone get laid?’ He smirks. ‘Join the club, I’m exhausted!’

‘No! Tom, you’re such a tart.’ I feign a disgusted look as I throw my bag down by my desk. ‘Anything to report?’ I ask to divert the conversation from Tom’s sexcapades.

‘Nope, I’m just going over to Mrs Baines to give her a cuddle. You know, she rang me at eleven last night to ask if she could expect the electricians in this morning. Interrupted me right in the middle of…’

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