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“OMG! Harriet is hideous.”

JaneyBee is astonished at the turnaround. That can’t be bad, can it?

Waspeater, my other regular commentator, is also a little exercised:

“Well I never saw that coming. She seemed so good. Suddenly Raphael is a victim, not a leading man at all. She’s deliciously shocking and so violent with it. I want to get him out of that poisonous situation.”

“Don’t we all,” I thought to myself. “Don’t we all.”

*

Cortez and Kate came back from their illicit weekend glowing with post-coital pleasure.

“That,” she told me triumphantly, “is how a woman should spend two days. I can barely walk.”

“Did a lot of sight-seeing, then?” I asked.

“What did you tell Geoff?”

“That your phone had fallen from a twelfth floor window into the outdoor jacuzzi.”

“How did you know about the hot tub?”

“Well we lonely, washed-up, middle-aged women can only dream about the kind of life you alpha people lead.”

She scowled at me impatiently.

“What did he say to that?”

“He said he hoped you were still using it as it fell.”

She eyed me a moment then chose to ignore my facetiousness. (Of course, he’d believed every word I’d told him and she knew it.)

“Geoff is a little like you. Unnaturally innocent,” she told me. “Some people prefer to live off others. It can be very draining.”

“Can I be moved to a different department?”

She shrugged as if to say: “What do I care?” and sauntered off to her corner of the office to rest her legs, presumably.

 

*

 

“I need someone new, someone we can believe in,” I told my colleague, Amanda, soon afterwards.

She’s been reading the instalments of A Sordid Little Office Romance on Chapter by Chapter and we discuss it most of our working day.

“I agree,” she said breathlessly. “I know, shall we bring Mrs Baignton into the picture?”

“What Cortez’s wife? Nah. That wouldn’t work…though actually…”

I slid instantly into a reverie. It was ridiculous. I couldn’t just introduce the wife this far into the plot, could I? Anyway, the slighted missus is always damaged goods, with the suggestion that she had it coming. How could I make her sympathetic enough?

Now this is the bit you won’t believe but it was only an hour later that who should come into the office but Mrs Baignton herself. I know! For a moment I had to wonder if Amanda was somehow not only controlling me and my book, but perhaps the entire world.

“Hello,” said out visitor. She was tall and ordinary and had the whiff of exhaustion you get off the parents of small children (though, interestingly, her husband doesn’t have it.) “Cortez in?”

“I’ll just check on my diary?” I told her and rapidly typed a message to Amanda: “Windyarse isn’t in the meeting room with the boss, is she?”

“Just a moment,” I smiled up at our visitor.

Eventually I got a message back: “’Course she bloody is. I can hear them from here.”

I hesitated, bit my lip, sought out her eyes from under their drooping lids for some sign of deeper understanding and I got it. She knew. She bloody well knew.

“Ah yes,” I said. “He’s in the meeting room. Please go through.”

 

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