I’m writing a new romantic comedy – Mermaid Hair and I Don’t Care. I will be publishing excerpts from a new chapter every week. These are first drafts, so please excuse any errors and, of course, they are subject to change.
There are two certainties in Lily’s life:
- A job she loves with an imminent promotion
- A boyfriend who’s about to make a commitment
But an unexpected holiday and office politics are about to cast doubt on those certainties.
Excerpt from Chapter One:
‘How’s it going, Lil?’ Oliver Banstead breathed fag breath and Bon Homme aftershave over Lily as she approached.
‘Great.’ She pushed past him on her way to the stairwell – the only place for a private phone call at Benson’s Wholesale Electricals.
‘Heard anything about the job yet?’
‘What? What job?’ Lily could hear her own indignation. How did he know?
He tapped his nose, gave her breasts a lecherous grin. ‘You’ll get it; you’ve got all the right attributes.’
‘I beg your pardon.’ She was giving him a chance to apologise.
‘Just joshing, just joking.’ He winked and waddled off.
‘Disgusting fat toad,’ Lily said under her breath. He got away with murder because he was the most successful salesman the company had. Lily didn’t think that was justification for his behaviour.
Once in the seclusion of the draughty stairwell she rang her best friend Tess.
‘Can I borrow your navy and pink shoes? I need them tonight.’ Lily waited on her mobile while Tess considered her answer.
‘Yes,’ she said, but it was a drawn out yes, a hesitant yes.
‘I promise I won’t damage them. Anyway, I got them repaired last time. No harm done.’
‘Mmm,’ Tess still sounded unsure.
‘Great, I’ll pick them up on the way home from work. Got to go.’ Lily ended the call and dropped her phone into her handbag, straightened herself up and left the cold, echoey stairwell. As she made her way back to her desk she wondered how long the company would still be called Benson’s, wondered if it would even exist in a year’s time.
‘Sorted?’ Damon asked as Lily sat down.
‘Yeah. No problem.’ Lily gave an involuntary shudder at the memory of the last time she’d borrowed Tess’s shoes – the repair had probably cost more than the shoes were worth.
‘So you’re all set for tonight?’
‘Yes. Definitely.’ Lily shook her head and swung her hair back behind her shoulders. It was long, dark, glossy and curling in all the right places thanks to the last minute blow dry she had managed to squeeze in at lunchtime.
‘Looks fab, darling’ Damon said, taking the cue.
‘Thanks. Feels a bit odd having it like this. Here.’ She gave a half embarrassed laugh. Lily never wore her hair down at work, it was far too unruly. She had a hair-dress code just as she had a work-dress code – serious, smart, business like, hair pinned up and sprayed into place until rigid. Completely under control. That was how you got taken seriously on first impressions. You could impress with your excellent work once you were in the job. That was how she was joint-head of finance at Benson’s at the age of thirty-one. Joint-head with Damon, who at forty-seven said he had no ambitions to climb any higher but was being very supportive of Lily’s aspirations.
‘Do you think you’ll hear anything before your two weeks off?’ Damon asked, half whispering so no one else would hear. Sound carried in Benson’s, which was why you had to make private calls in the draughty stairwell.
‘Doesn’t look like it.’ Lily sighed. It would be the icing on the cake if she heard she’d been appointed Finance Director before five pm.
‘Did they say they’d let you know before your holiday?’
‘No. But Oily Bastard just asked me about it. Does everyone know I’ve gone for it?’
‘I don’t know. I certainly haven’t told anyone. Not even The Europeans.’ He glanced over at his hardworking team, heads down as usual.
‘He gave me one of his special leers, peered right at my cleavage. I should report him; he’s disgusting. Then he passes it off as a joke.’
‘Were there any witnesses?’
‘Never are. He’s clever like that. Anyway, he’s top salesman again this month…’ Damon’s voice trailed away.
‘It’s a disgrace that he gets away with it. This is the twenty-first century for God’s sake.’
‘He’s harmless really and from another era. It’s all talk. He stares at my cleavage.’
‘You haven’t got a cleavage,’ Lily said.
‘Mannage, then. But he still stares. Dirty lecher. I almost like it. Anyway, never mind about Oily Bastard, you’ve got tonight to look forward to.’
Damon pursed his lips at Lily before meandering back to his desk.
Watch out for another excerpt next week.