Authors: Rhoda Baxter
Tags: #Literature & Fiction, #Mystery; Thriller & Suspense, #Thrillers, #Legal, #Romance, #Contemporary
Table of Contents
in 2014 by Choc Lit Limited
Penrose House, Crawley Drive, Camberley, Surrey GU15 2AB, UK
The right of Rhoda Baxter to be identified as the Author of this Work has
been asserted by her in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988
All characters and events in this publication, other than those clearly in the
public domain, are fictitious and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the publisher or a licence permitting restricted copying. In the UK
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To my parents.
Thank you to Jen Hicks for forcing me to write when I couldn't be bothered, to the lovely folk at Choc Lit for this new edition and gorgeous cover and, of course, to my family without whom none of this would have been possible.
CAUSE CELEB: The Magazine that connects
to the Stars!
In a shock revelation this week,
’ star Ashby Thornton has split up with his long term girlfriend, Jane Porter. Jane, 25, discovered Ashby, 25, in bed with Janelle Shawn, 19, who will be appearing in
After six years together, the separation was bound to be difficult.
‘Jane's devastated,’ said a friend. ‘She and Ashby have been together since they were just students at uni. She stood by him and supported him throughout his career. She doesn't deserve this.’
Sources close to the couple say that this may be a row that they cannot recover from. There have been increasing suggestions of tension between them as Ashby's
sky-rocketing career has made his lifestyle ever more hectic, whilst Jane is attempting to build a career in the pharmaceutical industry. ‘The pressures of Ashby's social life have been taking a toll on Jane,’ said a source. ‘She goes to all the important functions with him and still manages to turn up for work the next day. It's not an easy lifestyle to sustain.’
No one has seen Jane since she stormed out of the flat she shares with Ashby. Friends suggest that she has gone into hiding in order to mend her broken heart. Meanwhile, bad boy Ashby has declined to comment.
What do you think Jane should do? Write in and tell us, or log on to our
Turn to page
seven for an exclusive interview with Janelle Shawn – 'How Ashby Thornton sweet-talked me into bed!'
* * *
It was rush hour on Fleet Street. Jane walked briskly, not out of choice, but to avoid being mowed down by other people. She would have preferred to slow down and look at the buildings she was passing. Perhaps even enjoy the knowledge that she was walking on Fleet Street as someone who belonged there, not just a tourist. Being in London was still a thrill. Even though she loved Manchester, it didn't have the same buzz as London did.
She paused to glance at her watch and was tutted at by a woman in a hurry to get to her desk. Jane tried to apologise, but the woman was already gone, scurrying away with her head down against the watery winter sun.
A bus drove past, featuring a huge advert for the new
’ album on the side of it. Out of habit, Jane ducked her head into her scarf so her face was less visible. Seeing an alleyway ahead, she made a quick dart and stepped out of the main flow. No one took any notice of her.
She relaxed a little and paused to get her bearings. The office wasn't far and she was going to be ridiculously early for her first day as a trainee patent attorney in a large London firm.
She had always wanted to work in London. She might have got there earlier, after she'd emerged from university with a chemistry degree and a determination to never set foot in a lab again. But by then she'd met Ashby and hadn't wanted to be separated from him.
The thought of him still stung, but now that her anger had subsided, she missed him. Or maybe she missed having a boyfriend. It was better to be single and lonely than to have a boyfriend who was cheating on you. Wasn't it?
She let out a long breath. A future without Ashby would have been unthinkable a few
months ago, but now that was what she was hoping for. There would be no more music industry parties. No more gigs to shadow him to. No more intrusive pictures in the gossip magazines. She could concentrate on her career. Ashby's betrayal might be the best thing that could have happened to her.
A look at her A-Z showed her that the alleyway would bring her out close to where she needed to be. The road ahead was tarmacked, but narrow. The loading bays and doorways on either side would have made the alley menacing, if it weren't for the fact that there were other people around. Not a huge stream like on the main road outside, but a few people plodding along, not making eye contact. Feeling happier at this pace, Jane carried on.
It was intriguing how people made a conscious effort not to notice each other. As far as she was concerned, this situation was bliss. She wondered how many of these people dreamed of being famous. She had felt like that once, but being at the centre of media attention was not as much fun as people seemed to think.
It had been
ages since she'd left Manchester, but the feeling of being stalked by photographers, gossip columnists and the public had still not gone away. Since moving to London, she had tried not to go out unless she absolutely had to, even though the chances of someone recognising her without Ashby were slim.
When she emerged from the alley, the January sun glinted off the windows of a pub, turning it into a mirror. She stopped to straighten her jacket. It took her a few moments to recognise herself. Until last week she'd been blonde and glossy. Now, in her sharp business suit and with dark hair, she looked every inch the lawyer. She gave herself an encouraging smile. A stray wisp of hair flew across her face. She tethered it behind one ear as she
rejoined the flow of people, and stepped straight into the path of a runner. His shoulder rammed into her, throwing her off balance. She staggered backwards.
The runner stopped and turned. As he approached, she felt a moment of fear. Was there such a thing as jogger rage? She drew a deep breath and prepared to defend herself.
‘Are you Ok?’ he pulled his earphones out as he approached her.
Um … yes.’ She rubbed her arm where he'd bumped into her. It would probably bruise. ‘I'm fine.’
I'm really sorry,’ he said. ‘You stepped into my path, I didn't have time to—’
Jane held up a hand.
‘It was my fault.’ She looked up at him for the first time.
His face was shiny with sweat and his hair was tucked under a beanie hat. Even under such unflattering conditions, it was a handsome face.
‘Really,’ Jane said with a smile. ‘I'm fine.’
Well, if you're sure …’
He gave her a quick smile. A dimple appeared briefly on his right cheek. It was definitely a handsome face.
‘Ok then.’ He turned and set off again.
Have a nice day,’ Jane shouted after him.
He slowed and looked over his shoulder. She had a brief impression of brown eyes before he nodded his acknowledgement and picked up the pace. Without really thinking about it, she checked out his legs. Long. Muscular. Nice.
It had been a long time since she'd been able to admire any man other than Ashby. Maybe moving to London was just what she'd needed. She rechecked the address on her paper and carried on walking with a renewed sense of hope.
* * *
From: Stevie Winfield, To: Marshall Winfield
Are you in this evening? Can I call you
PS: Have you got an exciting day planned?
From: Marshall, To: Stevie
I'm a patent agent. Patent agents don't have exciting days
As it happens, I'm not in this evening. Why? How much do you want? M.
From: Stevie, To: Marshall
’m affronted! Can’t a girl call her big brother without it being about money?
More importantly though – you’re going out this evening! What’s the special occasion? Have you got a date
Ok, you got me. It is about money. I need to get the car MOT’d
From: Marshall, To: Stevie
No. No date.
There's a new trainee starting in our group today, so we're all going to the pub after work to get to know her. I don't really want to, but I have to, in case Keith turns it into a 'Marshall is anti-social' thing. He's trying his best to undermine me before the partners’meeting
Why do I have to pay for your car to be MOT'd? What happened to your allowance
From: Stevie, To: Marshall
. A girl trainee! There’s hope. There’s hope.
From: Marshall, To: Stevie
I have work to do.
* * *
The offices of Ramsdean and Tooze were a mixture of open plan desks and glass-fronted rooms. Jane was shown into a small office with two desks facing each other. At one sat a petite girl with a neat bob and square glasses.
She looked up and smiled.
‘Hi,’ she said. ‘I'm Ruth.’
Jane put down her handbag and attempted an easy, confident smile.
I know,’ said Ruth. ‘We had an email telling us about you.’
Really? What did it say?’ The minute she said it, Jane wished she hadn't. The question had come out too eager.
That you used to work for a pharmaceutical company …’ Ruth looked at her intently. ‘Why? Were you expecting there to be something more?’
Oh, no. Just wondered, that's all.’
Ruth's eyes rested on her a little longer.
‘Ok. I'm supposed to be your buddy for the first couple of days. Would you like me to give you a tour of the office?’
Ruth chatted as she showed her around the building. The office adjoining theirs was empty. Next to it was a desk where a woman with short grey hair and dangly earrings was frowning at her computer screen.
‘This is Val,’ said Ruth. ‘She keeps this place running smoothly.’
Val looked up over the rim of her glasses
, and gave Jane a warm smile. ‘If only. I can help you with any secretarial support though.’
Ruth indicated the empty office next door.
Meeting,’ said Val. ‘Poor boy had to run off almost as soon as he got in.’
You'll meet him soon enough, I guess,’ she said to Jane. ‘Since Susan's not in today and Marsh is busy, I suppose I should take you to meet Keith.’
He's in,’ said Val, not meeting Jane's eye. ‘I saw him a few minutes ago.’
There was a pause. Ruth and Val exchanged a glance. Jane waited for an explanation, but received none.
‘Come on,’ said Ruth, starting off. ‘It's a shame you didn't get to meet Marsh. He's nice. You'll like him.’
Did that mean she wouldn't like Keith?
‘Keith's one of the partners,’ Ruth said in hushed tones before she knocked on a door on the other side of the building. ‘I often have to work with him.’
When Ruth pushed the door open, the man at the desk looked up from his work.
‘What is it?’
I'm showing Jane round the office.’ Ruth let Jane go in ahead of her.
Keith scanned Jane from head to toe and back again, his gaze resting fractionally longer on her legs than anywhere else. His demeanour changed from slightly irritated to all charm.
‘Ah. Jane.’ He stood, tall and broad in a rugby player sort of way. ‘Welcome.’ When he leaned across the desk to shake her hand, he gave it a small, and unnecessary, squeeze.
Jane resisted the impulse to back away.
‘I'd love to chat, but I'm a little tied up at the moment.’ Keith gestured to the files on his desk. ‘But, I will catch up with you later in the day, I promise.’
‘Ok,’ said Jane and took a step back towards the door. ‘I look forward to it.’
Oh, me too.’ Keith's glance made another dart towards her legs. ‘Me too.’
Once they were outside, Ruth said,
‘He'll probably suggest a trip to the pub. He usually does.’
Usually?’ Whilst Jane had been to enough parties to satisfy her appetite for the social whirl, it had been a while since she'd been able to go to a pub. It would be a good way to get to know people, she decided. After all, she knew hardly anyone in London.
Yes, Keith organises a trip to the pub whenever a new … person … starts.’ For a moment Ruth looked as though she was going to say something else, but she seemed to think better of it. Instead she pointed out the small library.
Jane followed her, wondering what it was that had gone unsaid.
By the end of the day, Jane was exhausted. She had been introduced, informed and trained until she felt completely wrung out. She sank into her seat and checked her email. There were messages from her parents and her friend Polly wishing her luck, but nothing else. She relaxed a little. There was nothing even in the spam box from anyone from the press. It looked like she was finally old news. She told herself she should stop worrying quite so much.