Authors: Lacey London
Clara Meets the Parents
Copyright © 2015 by S Woodhead
All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof
may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever
without the express written permission of the publisher
except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.
Printed in the UK.
Thanks for the shoelaces.
Subject: 9 sleeps!!!
Just in case you hadn’t realised ;)
‘Look at her chubby, little toes!’ Lianna squeals, far too loudly considering that she is holding a newborn baby.
‘Shh! You will wake her up!’ I carefully take the tiny, warm bundle and lean back in my chair.
Looking down at the cute, pink piglet in my arms, I can’t help but smile as she lets out a big yawn and screws up her hands into small balls. I still can’t believe that she’s real. Madison Milan Stroker, the very beautiful product of a very strange, much unexpected relationship.
Just nine short months ago, everything was so different. The days of tequila slammers and sequin bodycon dresses are long gone, but to be honest I couldn’t be happier about it. Looking back over the past year, life has changed so much for me and my two best friends, Marc and Lianna. If you would have told me back then that my manager turned male bestie would reproduce with the office cougar that is Gina, I probably would have wet myself.
Handing Madison back over to Marc, I watch his face light up with pride. I still can’t get over it. Marc Stroker, ultimate party boy turned baby daddy. I catch Lianna laughing as he straps the frowning baby into a hot pink Manduca carrier. At first glance, you wouldn’t think much had changed for Li, but knowing her like I do, she couldn’t be more different. After many years of being on again and off again, she had finally got her claws into Dan, the gym freak, muscle machine that has more notches on his bedpost than Hugh Heffner himself.
Lianna, Marc and I had been the best of friends for almost six years. We all work together at Suave, the latest big name to rock the shoe industry. Incidentally, Suave is where I met my very lovely boyfriend, Oliver Morgan. I don’t want to jinx it, but after a rather rocky start, things have been going really well.
The day we met, I had alcohol induced vomit in my hair and Pepto Bismol down my dress, but thankfully, he wasn’t put off. When he randomly turned up at Suave, in the form of a hot-shot American designer, love soon began to blossom. Over many an afternoon devouring more pizza than was healthy, our feelings for each other grew and now here we are today. My friends love him, my parents love him, even my neighbour’s dog loves him. And speaking of parents, we are flying out to Mexico to meet his next week!
When Oliver surprised me with the tickets a month ago, I almost fell off my chair. For weeks I had been dreaming of white sands and turquoise waters, so to say I have been excited is an understatement. This will be our first holiday as a couple and he thought it would be a good idea for his parents to fly down from Texas to meet us. Kill two birds with one stone, as he so delicately put it. Most girls would be anxious about the big meeting of the parents, but weirdly I am really looking forward to it. Don’t ask me why, I just have a feeling that everything is going to be alright...
An hour or so later, I manage to drag a loved up Lianna away from a sleeping Madison for a bite to eat. All that baby talk may have made Li broody, but it has made me feel nothing but starving. Studying my menu, I remind myself that I am getting into a bikini in a few days and settle on the asparagus soup. Soup in August may seem a strange choice, but this is England and the sun isn’t exactly blaring down on us. Hoping that it will warm me up a little, I close the menu and reach for my creamy coffee.
‘Have you seen the dessert menu? They have a margarita sorbet!’ Lianna’s eyes light up and she bites her lip greedily.
‘Speaking of margaritas, this time next week I will be in Mexico!’ I let out a little squeak as she rolls her eyes with jealousy.
‘How do you feel about meeting his parents?’ She takes a sip of hot chocolate and rubs her hands together for warmth.
‘I am actually looking forward to it. I mean, he has met mine and that went well. Plus, parents always love me.’ Smiling confidently, I scroll through my phone and get up my holiday shopping list. Sun lotion, beach bag, thongs etc. ‘Do you have any plans for tomorrow? Fancy a trip into town?’
‘No can do, I’m afraid.’ She pulls her glasses onto the bridge of her nose and puts on her posh voice. ‘Dan and I are going to look at a house in Castletown.’
‘Castletown?’ I smile appreciatively. ‘Very nice.’
‘It’s a little on the small side, but it’s really nice inside. Four bedrooms, en suite, cute garden and a double garage.’ She shrugs her shoulders and looks around for the waiter impatiently.
‘I thought you said it was small?’
After demolishing a hearty bowl of soup and regrettably, several rolls of bread, I drop Lianna at Dan’s place and head home. As I race down the motorway, I can’t help but wonder if Oliver and I will get a place together. The bitchy voice that resides inside my head reminds me that it hasn’t even been a year yet and not to rush things. To start with, Oliver was only meant to be in the UK for two months on a temporary visa. He was brought in from America to design a winter boot range, which sold out in a matter of weeks. As a result, once his contract with Suave finished they practically begged him to stay on. Since then, we have spent almost every night at his luxury penthouse and my little chocolate box house doesn’t even get a look in.
Pulling up onto my street, I am pleasantly surprised to see that Oliver’s shiny, new BMW is parked on the driveway. When we exchanged keys a few weeks ago, I was a little unsure as to whether or not he would bother using it, but he is beginning to surprise me. On more than one occasion this week I have returned home to a delicious Oliver in my bath tub.
I push my way into the house and almost trip over the huge pile of letters that has built up behind the door. Making a mental note to do a thorough tidy up, I walk down the hall in search of my boyfriend. Following the delicious scent of Indian food, I find him crashed out on the couch, in what appears to be a curry induced coma. Treading carefully across the empty foil trays, I collapse down next to him.
‘Good evening, sleepyhead.’ I rest my head on his shoulder and stroke his hot cheeks gently.
He stays perfectly still for a moment, before stretching out and giving me a lazy smile. ‘You’re back early.’ He automatically looks at his watch and lets out a huge yawn. ‘How was the baby?’
‘Very cute. She looks just like Marc, if that’s possible.’ I crinkle my nose at the prospect. ‘Did you save me any food?’
‘Unfortunately not. I do have something for you though, the tickets came today.’
‘Mexico.’ He repeats.
‘Oh my God!’ I can’t help the squeal that escapes my lips.
‘I even went to the trouble of checking in online, so we are all ready to go.’ Oliver passes me the envelope and I read the tickets in awe.
A break away to an exclusive, five starred resort on the Caribbean Sea is exactly what the doctor ordered. Just me, Oliver, his Texan parents and multiple margaritas. What could possibly go wrong?
Since Lianna spurned my offer of a little retail therapy at the weekend, it gets to Wednesday before I eventually drag myself to the shops. Hence why a few days before we leave, I am rushing around the busy town centre like a headless chicken looking for holiday clothes. It has been so long since I went away, that I don’t actually have a swimming costume. When I say I don’t have one, I mean the overstuffed draw of animal print bikinis don’t really feel suitable for meeting the parents.
I pick up a black, flattering one piece and finger the fabric for a moment before chucking it into my basket. As I make my way over to the checkout, a pair of orange Havaianas and a hot pink beach bag magically appear in my basket too. Paying for my goodies, I remind myself to stop off at the Post Office on my way home to collect some pesos. Then all there is left to do is pack!
Skipping out onto the street, I swing my bag as I walk. In just over forty eight hours, I will be on the plane sipping champagne. Destination Mexico! Resisting the urge to do a little celebratory dance outside Debenhams, I shove my hands into my coat pockets and carry on walking.
Thankfully, I managed to book today and tomorrow off work to get some serious beautifying done before we leave on Friday. I have two whole days of shopping, tanning and manicuring to do. I think I am more excited about that than the holiday itself. Oliver, however, was not so lucky. With Marc being on paternity leave things have been hectic to say the least, so he has to stay on until Thursday.
Essentials successfully purchased, I clutch my bag tightly and fully intend on making my way back home. As I am heading towards the car park, my attention is caught by a stunning purple and gold display in the Biba window opposite me. Shoving my car park ticket back into my purse, I slowly wander over. My eyes are like saucers as I take in the beautiful, shimmering kaftans and rich, embroidered beach towels. The mannequin’s sunglasses have bold, cat eye frames with mirrored lenses and she is wearing the most exquisite, jewelled sandals, in the exact print as the towel and kaftan.
Before I can stop myself, I push my way inside. The delicate fabrics twinkle under the bright lights as I stroke them fondly. I really do not need another kaftan. My case is already on the brink of not closing. Maybe I’ll try them on, there’s no law against that. It will just be a bit of fun. What’s the harm in that?
Two hours later I collapse onto my bed, surrounded by half a dozen Biba bags. I know it was naughty to buy them, but once I had tried them on I just couldn’t put them back. Gently taking the precious garments out one by one, I remove the tags and toss them into my tortoise shell suitcase. Apart from my cosmetics and a shed load of Dramamine, I think I am pretty much done with the packing.
Crossing my legs, my eyes flit between the oversized, overstuffed case and Oliver’s simple, rather pathetic holdall. How can he go on holiday with only two pairs of trousers, a couple of swimming shorts and a handful of shirts? Shaking my head, I dig my phone out from beneath the mountain of clothes and send him a quick text message. With us going away on Friday morning we haven’t bothered to do any food shopping, so I am hoping that he will bring home something for dinner. Not more than five seconds after I hit send, I hear a key in the front door.
Padding down the stairs I am greeted by a very handsome Oliver, who to my delight is carrying a pile of pizza boxes.
‘Thank, God! I am starving! I have just this minute texted you to bring back food!’ I stand on my tiptoes to give him a quick kiss on his very cold cheek and take hold of the boxes.
‘Well I didn’t plan on sharing the last crumpet for dinner. Good day?’ He asks, following me into the kitchen.
‘It really was. I went shopping, changed some money at the Post Office. I think I am all set now.’ I flash him a smile as I reach up for some plates.
‘More shopping? How much more could you possibly need?’ He laughs heartily and makes a grab for the first slice of pepperoni.
‘Just the essentials,’ I tease, giving him a little wink. ‘How was it at the studio?’
‘Busy.’ Oliver sighs and shakes his head. ‘When is Marc back again?’
‘Not for a while yet. Besides, he has only been gone a week.’ I dip a crust into the mayonnaise and chew thoughtfully.
When Marc and Gina first started dating, no one doubted it would last more than I did. From the moment I met Marc, I knew he was a cockney womaniser. He hadn’t so much as uttered a word for me to come to that conclusion. The perfect comb over, muscle fit suit and stolen glances at the girls in HR, portrayed the message perfectly. Not that they seemed to mind, Marc only had to breathe in their direction and they would turn into purring kittens.
After five years of ‘tequila team building sessions’ and one too many chicken kebabs, he finally decided to settle down with Suave’s chief accountant and the office man eater, Gina. Of all the women that Marc had been involved with, Gina was not the one who I thought would tie him down. With her love for leopard print, botox and anything patent, she really is one of a kind, but I have to admit that they do make a fantastic couple.
‘Have you spoken to your parents today?’ I ask, licking mayonnaise off my fingers.
‘I have.’ He gets a can of Coke from the fridge and takes a big swig. ‘They’re not checking into the hotel until Monday, which gives us the entire weekend to ourselves.’ His eye’s glint wickedly and I get a shiver of excitement along my spine.
In an attempt to change the subject before I spontaneously combust, I reach for my handbag and take out the flight tickets. ‘The flight leaves at 8.30, so we need to get to the airport for around 5.00.’ I wince at the thought and shovel in more pizza to make myself feel better.
Nodding in response, he crushes the Coke can and tosses it into the bin, before letting out a giant yawn. I catch his eye and he gives me a tired smile. Bless him. Even when he is totally exhausted, he still looks like he has stepped straight off a Prada catwalk. His chocolate brown locks are beginning to curl and he has a slight tan from the few days of decent weather we had back in June. Oh well, it won’t be long before we are sipping margaritas by the Caribbean Sea, our only worry being which cocktail to have next. The countdown is well and truly on.