Home > My Not So Perfect Life(11)

My Not So Perfect Life(11)
Author: Sophie Kinsella

Oh God. I’m not going into the whole ditching-the-West-Country-accent story. It’s too embarrassing. And who cares where I’m originally from, anyway? I’m a Londoner now.

“I guess I’m just not an accent person,” I say, closing the subject. I don’t want to talk about where I’m from; I want to press on toward my goal. “So, um, Demeter? You know the Wash-Blu rebrand we’re pitching for? Well, I’ve done some mock-ups of my own for the new logo and packaging. In my spare time. And I wondered, could I show them to you?”

“Absolutely.” Demeter nods encouragingly. “Good for you! Email them to me.”

This is how she always reacts. She says, “Email them to me!” with great enthusiasm, and you do, and then you don’t hear anything back, ever.

“Right.” I nod. “Perfect. Or I can show you right now?”

“Now?” says Demeter vaguely, reaching for a plastic folder.

She wanted tenacious, didn’t she? I carefully put down the hair dye on a shelf and hurry to get my designs.

“So, this is the front of the box….” I put a printout in front of her. “You’ll see how I’ve treated the lettering, while keeping the very recognizable blue tone….”

Demeter’s mobile phone buzzes and she grabs it.

“Hello, Roy? Yes, I got your message.” She nods intently. “Let me just write that down….” She seizes my printout, turns it over, and scribbles a number on the back of it. “Six o’clock. Yes, absolutely.”

She puts the phone down, absently folds the paper up into quarters, and puts it in her bag. Then she looks up at me and comes to. “Oh! Sorry. That’s your paper, isn’t it? Do you mind if I keep it? Rather an important number.”

I stare back, blood pulsing in my ears. I don’t know how to respond. That was my design. My design. That I was showing her. Not some piece of crappy scrap paper. Should I say something? Should I stand up for myself?

My spirits have plummeted. I feel so stupid. There I was, believing—hoping—that we were bonding, that she was noticing me….

“Shit.” Demeter interrupts my thoughts, staring at her computer in consternation. “Shit. Oh God.”

She pushes her chair back with no warning and bashes my legs. I cry, “Ow!” but I’m not sure she hears: She’s too agitated. She peers out of her glass office wall, then ducks down.

“What is it?” I gulp. “What’s happened?”

“Alex is on his way!” she says, as though this is self-explanatory.

“Alex?” I echo stupidly. Who’s Alex?

“He just emailed. He can’t see me like this.” She gestures at her head, which is all messy with dye and needs to be left for at least another five minutes. “Go and meet the lift,” she says urgently. “Intercept him.”

“I don’t know who he is!”

“You’ll know him!” Demeter says impatiently. “Tell him to come back in half an hour. Or email. But don’t let him come in here.” Her hands rise to her head as though to shield it.

“But what about your hair dye?”

“It’s fine. You’re done. All I do now is wait and wash it off. Go! Go!”

Oh God. Demeter’s panic is contagious, and as I scurry down the corridor I feel hyper-vigilant. But what if I don’t catch this Alex? What if I don’t recognize him? Who is he, anyway?

I take up a position right outside the lift doors and wait. The first lift disgorges Liz and Rosa, who give me a slightly odd look as they pass by. The second lift whizzes straight past to the ground floor. Then the first lift arrives at our floor again and…Ping. The doors open and out steps a tall, slim guy I haven’t seen before. And Demeter’s right: I instantly know this must be him.

He has brown hair, not mousy brown but proper dark chestnut, springing up from his brow. He looks about thirty and has one of those wide-open, appealing faces that you get when you have good cheekbones and a broad smile. (He’s not smiling, but you can tell: When he does smile it’ll be broad, and I bet he’s got good teeth too.) He’s wearing jeans and a pale-purple shirt, and his arms are full of boxes covered in Chinese characters.

“Alex?” I say.

“Guilty.” He turns to look at me, his face interested. “Who are you?”

“Um…Cat. I’m Cat.”

“Hi, Cat.”

His brown eyes are surveying me as though to extract the most information about me possible in the smallest amount of time. I’d feel uncomfortable, except I’m preoccupied by fulfilling my task.

“I have a message from Demeter,” I announce. “She says, could you possibly come and see her in about half an hour? Or maybe email instead? She’s just a bit…um…tied up.”

Dyed up crosses my mind, and I almost give a little snort of laughter.

He picks up on it at once. “What’s funny?”


“Yes, it is. You nearly laughed.” His eyes spark at mine. “Tell me the joke.”

“No joke,” I say, flustered. “So, anyway, that’s the message.”

“Wait half an hour, or email.”


“Hmm.” He appears to think for a moment. “Trouble is, I don’t want to wait for half an hour. Or email. What’s she doing?” To my horror, he starts striding down the corridor, toward our office. In panic I run after him, dodge right past, and plant myself in his way.

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