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Authors: Juliet Madison

Fast Forward

BOOK: Fast Forward
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Fast Forward

www.escapepublishing.com.au

Fast Forward
Juliet Madison

Aspiring supermodel, Kelli Crawford seems destined to marry her hotshot boyfriend, but on her twenty-fifth birthday she wakes in the future as a fifty-year-old suburban housewife married to the now middle-aged high school nerd.

Trapped in the opposite life of the one she wanted, Kelli is forced to re-evaluate her life and discover what is really important to her. Will she overcome the hilarious and heartbreaking challenges presented to her and get back to the body of her younger self? Or will she be stuck in the nightmare of hot flushes, demanding children, raunchy advances from her husband and hideous support underwear forever?

Acknowledgements

I’d like to thank Kate Cuthbert and the team at Escape Publishing for believing in my book and giving me this opportunity to share my story. Thanks also to my editor, Juanita Kees for helping me create the finished product.

BIG thanks to my wonderful critique partner, friend and talented author, Alli Sinclair, for giving such valuable feedback on this book and demanding I write more chapters as quickly as possible. Your encouragement really helped me power through that first draft! Thanks also for our fun daily chats (who said writing was a solitary occupation?).

Thanks to my beta-readers; Efthalia, Rebecca, Natasha, Kerrie and Monique, and to Diane Curran for critiquing the opening chapters and for your ongoing support and friendship. I’d also like to thank my fellow members of the online writing group we formed in August 2012 – Alli, Diane, Efthalia, Louise, Jodie and Dave – for your enthusiasm and support.

Thanks to Stephanie Olivieri and Sami Lee for advising me on the intricacies of bungy jumping since I was way too chicken to try it for myself! And a HUGE thank you to RWA – Romance Writers of Australia – for helping me develop my craft and introducing me to many wonderful writers and new friends. I also appreciate my online writing friends from around the world – thanks for being there and helping with research.

I can’t thank my parents enough for their support and encouragement in following my dreams. Dad, thanks for instilling in me a love of books, and Mum, thanks for your wise words and for reading everything I write. A special mention also to my cousin, Jennie, for being one of my first readers when I was starting out and encouraging me to ‘keep writing’!

A special thank you to my son, Jayden, for being the caring and creative person that you are and for your wacky sense of humour (as I write this, you suggested I make mention of your charm, intelligence and witty personality–so there you go, I mentioned it!). Thanks for listening to me rave on about my latest plot developments and sorry for all the dinners that were late because I ‘just had to finish this scene’.

Lastly, thanks to YOU, the reader for choosing this book. Enjoy!

To Nan, I hope to grow old as gracefully as you
.

Contents

Acknowledgements

Chapter 1: Birthday Girl

Chapter 2: Breakfast at McSnelly’s

Chapter 3: What’s up, Doc?

Chapter 4: Surprise!

Chapter 5: Leap of Faith

Chapter 6: Darling Daughter Diora

Chapter 7: Facials, Friendships and Fairytales

Chapter 8: Past, Present and Future

Chapter 9: Five Hours to Go

Chapter 10: Four Hours to Go

Chapter 11: Three Hours and Twenty Minutes to Go

Chapter 12: Two Hours to Go

Chapter 13: Forty Five Minutes to Go

Chapter 14: Party Time!

Chapter 15: There’s No Time like the Present

Chapter 16: Be Careful What You Wish For

Chapter 17: Rebirth

Chapter 18: Fun and Games

Chapter 19: Happy Birthday

Chapter 20: Reunion

Chapter 21: Twenty Five Years Later

Also Available From Escape Publishing

About the Author

Chapter 1
Birthday Girl

“Old age comes on suddenly, and not gradually as is thought.”


Emily Dickinson

I can’t help that I’m beautiful. There—I’ve said it.

I’m not saying I’m God’s Gift or anything, I’m just being honest. I won big in the genetic lottery, so of course I’d try to make a career out of it. Why should I apologise to my sister for my success? Just because I scored a modelling contract with the city’s most prestigious agency, an apartment overlooking the park and the most gorgeous boyfriend in the world, does not make me a—

“… selfish, conceited cow!” as she put it, storming out of The Lava Bar during my pre-birthday speech about how good my life was turning out. I didn’t even get to finish!

Growing up as a teenager, all Kasey wanted was to fit in with my friends and be one of the gang, despite being two years younger and having more in common with the seven-year-old bug-collecting boy from next door. You wouldn’t know by looking at us that we’re sisters. I was tall, slim, with glossy black hair and a well-proportioned face, whereas she was vertically challenged, had an unruly mop on her head from an unfortunate perm and was … how could I say it? A little … pudgy … to put it nicely. I loved my sister of course, but sometimes her jealous outbursts drove me mad!

As Kasey stomped heavily out the door, I went to dash after her but a hand grasped my forearm.

“Forget it Kelli, there’s no use going after her, it’ll only end in a huge fight as always,” said Selena, a fellow model with The Goldberg Agency, face of Mystique Cosmetics and my best friend for the past three years.

“She’s right. Just leave her be.” My boyfriend and highly sought-after photographer, Grant Mills tucked an escaped strand of hair back behind my ear.

I sat on a chair and fiddled with the straw in my empty glass. “Okay, I’ll talk to her when she’s calmed down. Although, I wouldn’t be surprised if she boycotts my birthday party tomorrow night.”

“Are you kidding?” A wide-eyed Selena plonked her almost empty margarita down on the table and a drop of liquid splashed on my hand. “I doubt she’d miss a chance to rub shoulders with Max Sheldon. She’ll be there, you wait and see.”

She’s probably right. Kasey had been at me for weeks about Max, asking if he had a girlfriend and whether he liked going snorkelling or bird-watching in his spare time. I could be wrong, but something told me the Max I knew—the most popular underwear model in the country, who held no modesty about his blessed DNA—was more likely to be found working on his tan than going snorkelling and watching different kinds of birds behind his two-thousand dollar sunglasses.

Grant’s warm hand squeezed my shoulder. “Anyway, don’t let your sister ruin your birthday celebrations, how about another round of drinks? Champagne all round, I say.” Without waiting for our agreement, he walked up to the bar.

Selena leaned forward over the table and curled her finger in a ‘come here’ gesture. “I’m so glad I can finally speak to you alone,” she said.

“What is it?”

I leaned closer and she whispered in my ear. “I saw Grant go into DSJ yesterday.”

“DSJ, seriously?” They’re only the most expensive jewellers in the city, specialists in diamond rings.

“Uh-huh.” Selena nodded with a twinkle in her eye. “I couldn’t see what he was doing, but he did come out of the store with a small gold bag.”

My hand flew to my mouth and then rested on my friend’s arm. “Do you think it means …”

“That he’s going to propose – yes!” Selena bounced in her chair. “I bet he does it at your party!”

“Oh wow! I can’t believe it. I mean, of course I’ll say
yes
and …”

Selena leaned back in her chair as Grant returned, carrying a tray of champagne flutes with their bubbling gold liquid and I forced myself to act naturally, smiling as he handed me a drink. “Thanks, hon.”

“So, have you decided whether to go to your school reunion on Saturday?” Selena asked.

“No, didn’t I tell you? Grant’s taking me for a weekend away as a birthday present. Besides, I’d rather leave those old school days behind.” Grant draped his arm around me and I nestled myself into his side, revelling in the warm leathery scent and hint of citrus in his aftershave, Fahrenheit by Dior, which I bought him last Christmas.

“A weekend away is more enticing than a school reunion.” Selena winked. “Especially as it’ll be a good way to celebrate the …” she paused as my eyes warned her not to let the cat out of the bag. Her mouth was known to be as big as her pay check. “… milestone of your twenty-fifth birthday!” She nodded briefly and downed a gulp of champagne.

After the third round of drinks and another hour of chatting and dancing, we called it a night. It wasn’t worth having a shocking hangover the day of the real party.

“Don’t forget this, babe.” Grant handed over my silk scarf that I’d taken off to fling around during an episode of enthusiastic dancing.

“Thanks, honey.” I hooked the scarf around his neck and pulled him in close, planting a hungry kiss on his lips.

We walked out of the bar and into the balmy night air, stained with the stench of inner city pollution. Car exhausts spat out their fumes and passers-by puffed cigarette smoke from their lungs. The eyes of a homeless woman pleaded with mine as we walked past her on the sidewalk, her petite frame encumbered by a worn-out men’s jacket from the seventies, her nipples visible through a thin fraying singlet. I diverted my eyes from her uncomfortable gaze but then glanced back. I took a few loose coins from my purse and walked over, placing them in her hands. As though unable to speak, she nodded her thanks and squeezed my hand.

“Why’d you do that?” Grant asked when I returned to his side. “She’s likely to just spend it on booze or drugs.”

I shrugged. “Maybe she’s hungry and she could sure do with a change of clothes.” And her eyes reminded me of my mother’s. I recognised that desperate stare too well.

“Here.” Grant withdrew something from his wallet. “You don’t know where her hands have been.”

He held out a sanitisation wipe and I flicked my hand. “Oh, I don’t think it’s necessary. There are probably worse germs in the bar we’ve just been to.” But at my boyfriend’s insistence I took the wipe and slid it over my hands before tossing it in a nearby bin. It was nice that he wanted to protect me, despite an invisible and possibly non-existent threat.

“Quick, there’s a taxi letting people out over the road, let’s catch it,” Grant urged, tugging on my hand and stepping out onto the road.

An engine revved and the screech of car tires stung my ears as a black Holden spun around the corner. “Grant, watch out!” I yanked his arm, just as the car sped past. He toppled backwards onto me and I lay panting on the sidewalk, my hands clutching his body.

“Whoa, that was close.” Grant remained still, his expression stunned.

“Oh my God! That idiot driver! He could have killed you!” I clung tighter to Grant as we stood back up, moving as one body.

“But he didn’t. I’m okay, don’t worry,” Grant said and he resumed walking while I stayed stuck to the spot. “Kel, you coming?”

Visions of Grant sprawled on the road, thick dark blood oozing from his broken body flashed in my mind. I shook my head at the disturbing visual and at the thought of my dream man suddenly vanishing from my life.

“Are you alright, babe?”

“It’s just … you could have died,” I replied. “And I just wondered … what would I do without you?”

“Well, unless the universe has something against me, you won’t ever have to find out.” He smiled as he slid an arm around my waist and we walked over to a taxi pulled up on our side of the road.

My eyes strained to open and my body struggled to move the next morning, but the need to use the bathroom won out. Eyes half-closed, I stumbled out of bed and headed for the ensuite. It seemed further away than usual, but eventually I got there. My body ached with an unfamiliar heaviness, but I’d only had three drinks. It didn’t make sense. Maybe at twenty five the human body suddenly becomes less capable of holding its liquor or something.

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