This Man

Page 63

‘I’m fine,’ I find the strength to slap a smile on my face. ‘It’s Friday, I’m looking forward to getting plastered tomorrow night.’ I need a good night out.

‘Are we really getting plastered? Fabulous!’

My attention is turned to the office entrance when I hear the high pitched screech of Victoria.

‘Oh…my…God! You will not believe what I just saw.’ She’s on the verge of passing out.

Tom and I both look at her blankly. ‘What?’ we ask in unison.

‘So, I was in Starbucks, waiting for my double shot cappuccino with extra chocolate, and this guy walks in – I recognise him from somewhere. I’m not sure where, but he’s one hot piece of man. Anyway, he’s just stood there, minding his own, and this woman comes strutting in and tips a frappuccino all over him,’ She pauses to draw breath. ‘So, the woman starts screaming at him, calling him a lying, selfish arsehole, and then just walks out, leaving him dripping in frozen coffee and cream. It was all very dramatic.’

I sit and watch as Victoria recovers from her two breath commentary about the happenings of Starbucks on a Friday morning. Nothing like that ever happens when I’m in there.

‘It sounds like someone’s been a naughty boy,’ Tom smirks. ‘How hot was he?’

I roll my eyes. No doubt Tom would have flown to his rescue.

Victoria hands come up in front of her, palms forward. ‘We’re talking Men’s Vogue.’

‘No!’ Tom takes his glasses off. ‘Is he still there?’

She screws her pretty little face up. ‘No.’

Oh, this is ridiculous.

Patrick comes barrelling into the office. ‘Guys, have we any work to do, or is it fart around Friday?’ He passes us swiftly, heading into his office and shutting the door behind him.

‘You two, let’s get on with some work, shall we?’ I shoo them away from my desk.

‘Oh, I forgot.’ Tom swings around. ‘Van Der Haus called to say he’ll be back in London on Monday. He’ll call you upon his return. He’s emailing you the specifics and had these sent over. Is he hot?’ His eyebrows jump up suggestively as he hands me an envelope.

He’s the biggest g*y tart, but I’ll humour him. ‘Very.’ I take the drawings, widening my eyes for affect.

He screws his face up. ‘How come you get all the dishy clients?’ He walks back to his desk. ‘What I wouldn’t give to have an Adonis walk in here and throw me over his shoulder.’

I wince at Tom’s referral to Jesse’s performance the last time I saw him and pull my phone out of my bag when it starts bleeping with a calendar reminder. Oh, my hairdresser’s appointment, tomorrow at noon. I forgot about that. Well, that’s improved my mood slightly. And I’ll be nicely groomed for our big night out. Perfect.

I work my way through heaps of quotations, delivery schedules and contractor requirements, before calling my live clients to check all is well. It is, apart from Mrs Peters swags and tails drama. An email lands from Mikael. I scan it quickly, deciding to look at it in more detail on Monday.

Sally comes scuttling up to my desk with a delivery. ‘Urm…I think this may be for you, Ava.’ She shifts from side to side with a box in her hand. ‘Do you want it?

What? Yes, I want it. If it’s a delivery for me, then I guess I want it. Oh, this girl is painfully anxious. I take the box from her hands.

‘Thank you, Sally. Will you make Patrick a coffee?’

‘I didn’t know he wanted one.’

Oh, the panic on her face has me wanting to make her a coffee. ‘Well, he doesn’t look right. Let’s look after him.’

‘Is he okay? He’s not ill, is he?’

‘No, but I think he could do with a coffee.’ I press, trying my hardest not to lose my patience.

‘Of course.’ She scuttles off, her brown plaid skirt swishing around her court shoes. I couldn’t even hazard a guess at her age. She looks about forty, but intuition tells me she’ll shock me and be nearer my age. I open the box and find all of the material swatches I ordered for The Life Building. I throw the box under my desk. I’ll deal with them on Monday too.

As six o’clock approaches, I pop my head around Patrick’s door. He really doesn’t look right.

‘Patrick, I’m off. Are you okay?’

He looks up from his computer and smiles, but his eyes don’t sparkle like usual. ‘I’m just feeling a little peaky, flower.’

‘You should go home.’ I’m worried.

‘I think I will.’ He heaves his big body up from behind his desk and turns his computer off. ‘Bloody woman’s fed me something dodgy.’ he mutters as he picks up his briefcase.

‘Everything’s been turned off. You just need to set the alarm.’

‘That’s good. Have a good weekend, flower. I’ll see you on Monday.’ He wipes the back of his hand over his sweating brow. There’s definitely something wrong.

‘Okay, see you on Monday.’


I stand in my bedroom ready to go. My hair is behaving – happy that it’s been blow dried into tumbling waves, courtesy of Philippe, my hairdresser – and the new dress I picked up from Selfridges was a panic buy to make me feel better but fits perfectly. It’s black, short and very tight. With dramatic, smudged eyes and nude lips, I’m looking pretty sultry.

I walk into the kitchen, finding Kate hanging out of the window having a sneaky fag. What’s she thinking about now? She looks her usual lovely self, in a cream backless dress.

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