Home > My Not So Perfect Life(14)

My Not So Perfect Life(14)
Author: Sophie Kinsella

“OK,” says Alex. “I think we’ve tortured these good people enough.” From the side of the remote, he pulls out a tiny microphone on a wire. He holds it to his mouth, flips a switch, and makes a “quiet” gesture at me. “Attention,” he says in clipped tones, like a World War II RAF pilot. “I repeat, attention, attention.”

His voice rings out of the drone, and the effect on the people in the room is instantaneous. They all freeze as though in fright and stare up at the drone.

“Apologies for the inconvenience,” Alex announces, in the same clipped voice. “Normal service will be resumed shortly. God Save Our Gracious Queen…”

I don’t believe it. He’s singing the national anthem. “Stand up!” he suddenly barks into the microphone, and a couple of the people at the table half-rise to their feet before sitting back down again and looking embarrassed.

“Thank you,” Alex concludes. “Thank you so much.” Deftly, he flies the drone out of the room and swoops it down, out of view. The people in the room are all crowding to the window to see where it’s gone, pointing in different directions, and Alex pulls me out of sight, behind a low concrete wall. A few moments later the drone quietly descends behind us, all its lights off. It’s obvious that none of the people in the room has the faintest idea where it disappeared to, and after a minute or two they head back to the table. I meet Alex’s eye and shake my head.

“I can’t believe you did that.” A final giggle ripples through me.

“That made their day,” he says. “Now they all have a dinner-party anecdote.” He picks up the drone, places it between us, and surveys it. “So, what do we think?”

“Awesome,” I say.

“I agree.” He nods. “Awesome.” He drags over another box and cuts the tape. “Look at this! Special jumping boots with springs!”

“Oh my God!” I gape at them. “Is that safe?”

“And in here we have…” He prizes open another box. “Neon light-up tennis rackets. That’s hilarious.”

“This is going to be the best project,” I say with enthusiasm.

“Well, maybe.” He frowns. “Only it’s not that simple. We worked with Sidney Smith before. Didn’t go well. So we have to think carefully before we commit.” He taps his fingers distantly, then comes to. “They are great products, though, aren’t they?” His eyes flash as he pulls out the light-up tennis racket, presses a button, and watches it glow neon-yellow. “I think I’m in love with this.”

“So it’s heart over head.” I can’t help smiling at his enthusiasm.

“Exactly. Bloody heads and hearts, never match up, do they?”

He starts wandering around the roof, tossing the racket up and down. Surreptitiously I glance at my watch. Shit. I’ve been here nearly twenty-five minutes and I’m so cold I can’t feel my hands.

“Actually, I ought to go,” I say awkwardly. “I’ve got loads of work—”

“Of course. I’ve kept you. Apologies. I’ll stay up here a few more minutes, check out the rest of these boxes.” He shoots me that dazzling white smile again. “I’m so sorry, I’m an idiot—I can’t remember your name. Mine’s Alex.”

“I’m Katie—” I stop. “Cat,” I correct myself with a flush.

“Right.” He looks a bit puzzled. “Well, nice to hang out with you, Katie-Cat. Thanks for your help.”

“Sorry, it’s Cat,” I say, in an agony of embarrassment. “Just Cat.”

“Got it. See you around, Just Cat. Say hi to Demeter.”

“OK. I will. See you.” And I’m about to head toward the door back into the stair shaft, when I hesitate. This guy’s so easy to talk to, and I’m longing to pick someone’s brains….

“You said you’d done a bit of everything,” I say in a rush. “So…have you ever worked with Demeter? Has she ever been your boss?”

Alex stills the racket and gives me a long, interested look.

“Yes,” he says. “She has, as it happens.”

“Only I’m trying to show her my ideas, and she won’t ever focus on them, and…”


“Just some speculative stuff. Mock-ups. Rough concepts,” I explain, feeling a bit embarrassed. “You know, stuff I’ve done in my spare time, whatever…”

“Right. Yes. I get it.” He thinks for a minute. “My advice is: Don’t show Demeter random ideas at random times. Pitch her exactly the right idea, exactly when she needs it. When you’re brainstorming at a meeting, speak up. Make your voice heard.”

“But…” My cheeks flame. “I don’t get to go to those meetings. I’m too junior.”

“Ah.” He gives me a kind look. “Then get yourself into one.”

“I can’t! Demeter will never let me—”

“Of course she will!” He laughs. “If there’s one thing Demeter’s good at, it’s championing junior members of her team and bringing them on.”

Is he nuts? I have a sudden image of Demeter stamping on Rosa’s fingers with her Miu Miu shoes. But I won’t contradict him when he’s helping me.

“Just ask,” he reiterates—and his confidence is infectious.

“OK.” I nod. “I will. Thanks!”

“No problem. See you, Cat. Or Katie. I think Katie suits you better,” he adds, tossing the racket into the air again. “For what it’s worth.”

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