I chew on my nail as I browse through houses to rent online, hoping that ‘the one’ will jump out at me soon. Tensions are running pretty high right now and there’s nothing we can do about it. I’m actually glad to get Adam away for a few days, maybe he’ll be able to relax a bit. I feel him tossing and turning in bed every night, our deadline to get out of this house is 25 February. That’s approximately 2 weeks to find somewhere we’re happy to rent for at least 6 months because the conveyancing department at work have told us we’d have to be bloody lucky or buying a repossession to be in a new house within that timescale.
I put my head on my desk and groan. Being a grown up can kiss my arse.
“Ellie, that Lease, is it ready?” Adam bursts into my room in a whirlwind. A delicious smelling whirlwind but a whirlwind nonetheless.
“Yeah, here.” I hand him the draft Lease and smile back at his bemused face. “What?” I feel at my face and something drops from my forehead. Pringle crumbs. Nice.
“I need you to book me some accommodation for a meeting next week in Manchester. Our new branch has fucked up with a major client so all the Partners are heading up to try and sort something out.”
“Sure, when for?” I mentally plan a night with Hannah now Gina has to be a proper grown up to a little person.
“Just Thursday overnight. I’ll be back Friday in time for dinner with my parents.” He’s scanning through the Lease as he talks, glancing up at me occasionally.
“A free meal always sounds good to me. I really need to get the recipe from your mum for her carrot cake, too. That counts as one of your five a day, right?” I flash him my newly whitened teeth and he laughs.
“Yes, of course it does.” He gives me a wry smile. “Right, I’m off. I’ll probably be late home tonight so grab something without me. I can’t come home to a hangry Ellie, it’s terrifying.” Kissing the top of my head, he rushes out of my office as quickly as he came.
Work was manic before Christmas. I’m talking 12 hour days, ratty clients, staff shortages, but somehow, January and February have seemed worse! It’s like those that didn’t complete their transactions before Christmas are hell bent on making my life miserable by insisting it happens right now. Not next week, not next month, now. And it doesn’t matter that their tenants can’t move in until spring, they want shizz sorted right this second. Feckers.
Ripping open the lid on my carrot and hummus snack pot, I pull up Google and look at images of New York. Because when you have work coming out of every orifice what else is there to do other than kick back and toss it off?
I hope it snows when we’re there. Not enough to affect our flights but wouldn’t that be the ultimate? New York on Valentines Day wandering around hand in hand while the snow falls.
“Ellie?” I jump as Hannah appears at my door.
“Jesus Hannah, at least give a girl some warning before making her jump like that.” I put my heart to my chest and feel my heart thudding against it.
“Guilty conscience much.” She arches an eyebrow so I give her my middle finger in return. “What’s up?” I close down the New York tab on my computer and give her my full attention because let’s face it, I’m so easily distracted that she could be telling me she was about to give birth to a sea lion and I’d simply smile and nod.
“Have you told Adam about your interview yet?”
Good mood – splat.
“No,” I shift in my seat, not meeting her gaze.
“Ellie! The interview tomorrow, how have you not told him? How have you got out of working in the morning?”
I bite my lip and smile as I remember Adam’s face. “I told him I was going for a smear.”
“ELLIE!!” Despite her anger, Hannah laughs. “You can’t lie to him, you know that don’t you?”
“I know, I know. But it’s just so hard, you know. I’m breaking up our work relationship. I just thought maybe I could go for the interview-“
“In secret?” Hannah gave me her judgey face. She gets so judgey these days when she thinks I’ve had a foolish idea or I’ve ordered 3 starters, 2 mains, a side and 2 naans from the Indian down the road then go back for a dunk of her curry sauce.
“I’ll tell him tonight.” I roll my eyes and pull up an image of New York, wondering how I’ll tell him that I don’t want to be his PA anymore without hurting his feelings. Maybe I’ll cushion the blow with new underwear.
“Good. Now let’s start planning how to take Tiffany’s by storm!” Giggling, Hannah comes around my desk and perches on the window ledge. “Oh I hope it snows. Christen has been to New York before but I want to make this special for us, you know? He took such a massive leap of faith moving to London to be with me, this will be our first proper break together.”
“Ah Han, it’ll be amazing. Oh, before I forget, Adam’s away in Manchester next Thursday, do you fancy a night at mine? We could grab food, a few cocktails, stick a girly film on? Like old times, what do you say?”
“Oh yeah, just like old times,” Hannah laughs. “What time will Arianna’s clients be knocking on the door? Thank God you’re out of that place.”
Groaning I close my eyes. The image of a stumpy, sweaty older man propositioning me in my doorway will be forever etched on my brain.
“Right, it’s a date. Better get on with some work, haven’t you heard my boss is an absolute dick?” I laughed as Hannah rolled her eyes and left me to catch up on a dozen emails, as well as downloading the holiday countdown app on my phone. Obviously.
Interview day rolls around all too quickly.
I’d broken the news to Adam over a bottle of champagne and a box of his favourite truffles. He’s such a woman.
To be fair, he didn’t take the news badly at all. He was however slightly pissed off that I had lied about the whole smear test thing.
“You really felt that you had to lie to me?” He asked, muting the television so that I had nowhere to look other than at his beautiful face. I squirmed under his scrutiny with nowhere to run or hide.
“No, it’s not that, I just didn’t know how to tell you and thought that after the interview, it might be easier to somehow tell you. Because after the interview I’d know whether I was good enough to work anywhere else. I’m still not sure I got the job with you because I was good enough for it.”
“No, Adam. I love you but there’s not a week goes by that I don’t wonder whether I got the job because you thought I had a nice arse.”
“Well, you do have a nice arse, that is true,” a slow smile spread across his face. “But listen to me, Ellie Darling, you are bloody good at your job. You do the job of about 4 people, all while keeping me in line and you have never once complained. You are kind, generous, and far too helpful for your own good and even when the shit hits the fan you front it out. If you feel like you want to spread your wings and see other employers,” he smiled as he took my hand, “then so be it.”
“You old romantic, you.” Leaning in for a kiss, I was once again floored by Adam Donley. As our lips touched, I pulled at his shirt collar and climbed onto his lap. “You never cease to amaze me. From surprise weekends away to coming home on a Friday night with my favourite ice cream when you know I’ve had an awful day.” I peppered kisses across his face as I undid his shirt and slipped it down his tanned arms.
“Ellie, not here.”
“Oh yes Adam, right here. If we’re going to lose the house anyway I want to rechristen every single room, starting right here, right now. I want you Adam, in every single way, and I can feel that you’re in agreement.” I laughed, wiggling my bum as he groaned and pulled me into a long deep kiss, sitting up and pinning me underneath him.
“God I love this dress,” he whispered as he slowly unzipped the front of my dress, his fingers delicately following the trail until it fell apart. “And I love you.”
My memories are quickly poofed through like a cloud of smoke as a 6ft glamazon smiles at me from above, legs to rival Taylor Swift as I stumble to my feet, my own Bambi like legs shaking with nerves.
“Ellie Darling? Hi my name’s Lydia, it’s so lovely to meet you. Won’t you follow me?”
Elite Event Management in the world according to Gina, is the dog’s bollocks at what they do. They have organised some of the most high profile celebrity events that London has ever seen and are about to branch out to New York. I only know this because the marketing firm Gina works for swear by Elite and if Gina gives a place the thumbs up you know it’s good. One of her contacts had recently told her that a vacancy had become available and wondered whether she would be interested. She told them she’d rather eat her own liver than work those kinds of hours anymore but she knew I’d thrive on this kind of challenge so here I am. About to go for an interview for a company that, according to the rumour mill, have arranged parties for Kim Kardashian and Kanye. I figure if they’re good enough for Kimye then why the hell not go for it.
Lydia’s office was the complete opposite of what I expected. Whenever I think of someone with a reputation as good as Lydia’s, I imagine them to have an office to rival Miranda’s from The Devil Wears Prada. The office I’m faced with is muted greys and nudes, an elegant suede sofa in the corner with cream scatter cushions, a sleek Macbook sat atop a dark oak table and the most intimidating view I have ever seen. I’m talking Trump Towers view. Even Adam’s view couldn’t rival this.
“Please, take a seat. Would you like a drink?” Lydia sits opposite me, her back to the magnificent view.
“Oh no, I’m fine, thank you.” I try to swallow the nerves and pull back my shoulders. I can do this. I totally have this. All I have to do is be myself.
“Wonderful. I’ll just bring my assistant in, you’ll be working side by side so I’d like to have her around. She’s been with me almost a year and I don’t know how I managed without her now.” Lydia laughs as I smile, prepared to meet the woman who, by the sounds of it, will get the final say on whether she thinks I’m up to the task.
A secluded door opens to the left of Lydia and my face freezes on what can only be described as a manic smile.
Of all the mother fudging people to walk through the door it had to be her. Still blonde. Still a size 6. Undoubtedly, still a bitch.
“Ellie! Oh when I saw your name appear in my diary I hoped it would be you. How are you these days?”
I gulp, my whole body numb. Sod it, I may as well relax, it’s not like I’m going to get the job now.
“Fine, thank you. You?” I want to vomit.
“Oh I am wonderful.” A sinister smile cross her face and my defences are officially on red alert.
“You two know each other?” Lydia looks confused which makes me wonder how creative Sophie has been with her CV.
“We do indeed. I worked with Ellie briefly at a law firm some time ago. She’s remarkable at her job Lydia, slept her way to the top like a true professional.” Sophie sits back in her chair and crosses her tiny ankles that are swallowed by the chunky black boots she has on. Her fashion sense always did leave a lot to be desired.
“Oh….” Lydia turns her nose up at me. “Is this why you’re wanting to leave? Has it gone a bit sour?” I can tell she’s trying for sympathetic but her tone is enough to curdle milk.
“Not at all, and that’s not really what happened. Sophie stalked my former fiancé via Twitter, took him for herself for a slice of fame pie, tried to get me sacked which resulted in my promotion and then blamed me for her relationship turning sour. Roman is gay now, you see.” I pick up my handbag, not in the mood for a bun fight. “I’m truly sorry for wasting your time, Lydia. If I had known Sophie worked here I would never have applied for the job. Thank you for taking the time to see me. I’ll see myself out.”
I hear Sophie whispering something as I leave the room, my face burning. I want to burst into tears. I had such high hopes for this job, to spread my wings and try something a little different. I’ve worked in law for 13 years and I’m ready for a change.
As the cool February air hits me, I take a deep breath and call Adam.
“Hey gorgeous, how was it? I wasn’t expecting to hear from you so soon.” I want to burst into tears down the line, to slide down the wall of the building and sit on the cold pavement crying that Sophie has once again managed to stick the knife in unexpectedly. But I don’t.
“You free for lunch?” My voice is timid. I’m tired, hungry and just want to see the face of my best friend. Gina aside, obviously.
“Yeah, of course. Are you okay?” I smile to myself picturing exactly how he’ll look right about now. He will have sat forward in his chair, frowning, biting his lips as he tries to work out what’s happened and how he can fix it. He is always so good at fixing things.
I sigh, staring up at the clouds as the move lazily across the powder blue sky. “Gingers in half an hour?”
“Oh Ellie. I’ll see you soon. I’m clearing my diary for the day as we speak, don’t worry about whatever has happened. We’ll fix it.”
Adam Donley. My very own Superman.