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Authors: janet elizabeth henderson

Laura's Big Break

BOOK: Laura's Big Break
2.49Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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Contents

Title Page

Prologue

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Epilogue

Mad Love excerpt

Mad Love - chapter one

The Davina Code Excerpt

About The Author

Copyright

Laura’s Big Break

janet elizabeth henderson

PROLOGUE - TWELVE YEARS AGO

Laura Prentice gave away her cherry to her best friend’s brother in the shed they called a summer house, at the bottom of his parent’s garden. In fact, she gave away the whole sundae. He licked it up without so much as a thank you. Sure, he’d whispered sweet nothings as he’d peeled her pants down her legs and he’d gushed over her beauty as he reached for a condom, but as soon as the deed was done, he was gone. He ran faster than a fake hare on a rail at the race track. Meanwhile, Laura had adjusted her summer dress, hunted for her underwear and wondered what on earth she’d done.

She was a good girl, a sensible girl, sometimes the only sensible one in a life full of lunatics and yet there she was worshipping at the feet of Charlie Lewis, or as she had called him her whole life – the Neanderthal. It wasn’t losing her virginity to Charlie that bothered her, it was the fact he’d run afterwards. Sure, she hadn’t expected a lovefest, but she had hoped for a little civility, some polite conversation, maybe. Anything but a look that telegraphed ––
oh no, what have I done?
Now, that was one way to destroy a girl’s self-esteem. Fortunately Laura Prentice’s self-esteem was just fine. Why else would she have followed him to the shed and asked for sex? Well, apart from the fact she’d been crushing on him since forever and wasn’t sure if she’d ever see him again when she went off to college. In the back of her mind she knew this wasn’t her best decision, but she could take responsibility for her actions. What she couldn’t stomach was the look on Charlie’s face when he ran.

Her eyes narrowed as she tried to stalk up the path to his house. She had no idea sex would hurt so much. It felt pretty much the same as the time she’d landed astride on a fence, after her best friend Maddie had dared her to climb into a locked garden. Fine, she reminded herself, she was fine. She picked up the garden hose, which was fitted with Mr Lewis’s new power blaster attachment, and aimed at the back of the house.

“Charlie,” she called sweetly.

Silence.

Her eyes narrowed. Now she was getting annoyed.

“Charlie, come out here. I need to talk to you.”

A window opened high in the house; Maddie stuck her head out.

“What?” she began, but the look on Laura’s face silenced her. Instead she made a little oh shape with her mouth.

“Charlie,” Laura shouted. “Get your backside out here NOW!”

The kitchen door slammed open and a red faced Charlie stepped out onto the back patio.

“What do you want?”

A powerful blast of water hit him square in the chest.

Laura smiled with some satisfaction as he fought the stream of water. He slipped. He slid. He fell on his backside. He choked and coughed and held up his hand to shield his face. Once she knew he was well and truly soaked she threw the hose on the ground and stomped over to him. His parents stood in the doorway, open mouthed.

“That,” she pointed at the sorry excuse for a man, “is for not saying thank you Charlie Lewis.”

She stormed past him.

“It’s not going to be the same around here when she’s at Uni,” Mr Lewis said behind her as she strode through their home and out across the road to her own house.

Well, she’d learnt a lesson. Obviously the other girls he’d slept with had been soft in the head, because as far as she could see, sex with Charlie Lewis was nothing to write home about. In fact, she was pretty sure all sex wasn’t worth the effort. As she slammed her bedroom door behind her she came to the conclusion that the male race as a whole were seriously overrated.

She was better off buying one of those rabbit things they were always talking about in
Sex in the City
.

CHAPTER ONE

“He’s the star of the most watched clip on YouTube and you know him personally?” Claire Douglas almost had a stroke at the thought. “I’ve watched it myself about a million times. The way he carries that injured child out through gunfire, then tends to her wounds while his commander is calling for him to run. It makes the heart pound. He is the complete package – doctor, soldier, hero
and
absolutely gorgeous. The whole world wants to interview him and you have a way in. Why didn’t you mention this?”

Because he’s a Neanderthal. Because he’s an idiot. Because I’d rather pickle my own eyeballs than talk to him.

Unfortunately she couldn’t tell any of these reasons to her new boss, so Laura went with all she had left.

“Because he doesn’t want to be interviewed.”

“Piffle!” Claire threw her hands in the air.

Laura resisted the urge to grind her teeth. Her old boss had told her that everyone knew when she was doing it and it was a sure sign she was cheesed off.

“Of course he wants to be interviewed,” Claire said. “He just hasn’t been given the right opportunity.”

She leaned over a desk the size of a football pitch.

“He needs to bare his soul to someone he trusts.”

She pointed a well-manicured finger at Laura in case she was slow to catch up.

“You are the opportunity he’s been looking for.”

Laura took a long, slow, deep breath and went through a mental list of things you shouldn’t do to your boss. 1 – Don’t insult their intelligence. 2 – Don’t throw staplers at their head.

“Charlie doesn’t like me.” She tried to sound reasonable and professional. “We hardly know each other and we never, ever talk. Ever.”

“Pooh. I heard you tell one of the other staffers that you were his neighbour as a child. You said he’s your best friend’s brother. Why, he’s practically family.”

“Yes,” Laura seized on that, “dysfunctional family. Family that hates each other.”

Her boss folded her arms over her skeletal frame and pouted. Laura briefly wondered if there should be an age limit for pouting, because at fifty two Claire was definitely past it. Claire angled her chair so that she could cross her legs and point one red stiletto toe at Laura.

“You’ve been here what? Two weeks?”

Laura nodded, hence the stupid comments during lunch hour in an attempt to make friends with her new colleagues. She should have known better than to admit a relationship with the Neanderthal; it never went well.

“And after several, long years plodding away in teen magazines, you’ve decided to move up to publications for real women.”

Laura couldn’t help it, she gritted her teeth.

“Let’s face it, although your work is good enough to get you a position here, it may not be good enough to keep you here. Am I making myself clear?”

Unfortunately, she was crystal.

“This isn’t the same environment as you’re used to; we care little about which vampire is biting which and whether Justin Bieber is a girl or a boy.”

Laura was grinding her teeth so hard she would have to visit her dentist straight after the meeting.

“We deal with real stories, adult stories, and this is hot right now. To get this story is to get the coup. So stop making excuses, be the journalist we hired and get me the story. This is your only assignment for the time being. You have two weeks. Consider yourself on probation until then.”

Claire waved a hand in dismissal. Laura stood stiffly, squelching the urge to throw something at her boss as she did so. She made it sound as though Laura was working for
The
Times
not
Francine
, a woman’s monthly magazine. They wrote stories about wrinkle cream and how to declutter your life. Why Claire wanted a story about an ex-solider she had no idea.

“And what if he won’t talk to me?”

A cold blank stare was her answer.

Laura spun in her Converse and let herself out of the office. It took all of her self-control not to slam the door.

Maggie, Claire’s assistant, smiled sympathetically as Laura passed her. No doubt she’d heard the whole thing. Laura stopped at the ladies room on her way to her desk. She splashed cold water on her face, soaking her striped t-shirt as she did so. Her reflection did nothing to lighten her mood; she looked haggard and homicidal - a great combination.

Three years she’d been chasing vacancies in the women’s magazines. Three long years of writing about
Glee
and
Twilight.
Three years of articles on how to create a great Facebook page, or how to tell if a boy likes you or – worse yet – why you haven’t gotten your period when all your friends have theirs. She couldn’t go back to that. She leaned her forehead on the cold glass of the mirror. How hard could this be? She’d seen Charlie at Maddie’s wedding and he’d hardly annoyed her at all. Maybe being in Afghanistan had mellowed him. Maybe he wouldn’t mind telling his story to a friend. She choked on the word.

Maybe a house would fall on Claire and leave nothing but her red shoes behind.

“Hey Doctor Hottie, I need some special medical attention.”

Charlie kept his eyes on the chart in front of him while he took a deep breath. There was nothing quite as sexy as being hit on by a seriously drunk patient. Her mascara was halfway down her face, her boobs were halfway out her top and she had half a pizza in her hair. She still managed to wink at him when he eventually looked her in the eye.

“You need to go to x-ray,” he said evenly. “The nurses will sort it out.”

“No, I need to run my fingers through that thick hair of yours, blue eyes.” She batted eyelashes that looked like spider legs.

She leaned towards him, reeking of stale alcohol and vomit.

“How about you and me draw the curtains and go a round first?”

Another wink.

“Tempting, but no.”

He stepped back into the traffic of the busy Emergency Department, pulling the curtain shut behind him. Two nurses who’d witnessed the exchange burst out laughing.

“You can go ‘a round’ with us if you like?”

One pretended to bat her eyelashes, while the other twirled her hair and licked her lips seductively.

“Yeah, Doctor
Hottie,
we’re good to go.”

They both winked before collapsing into another fit of hysterics. Charlie smiled indulgently. This had been going on all week. If he could get his hands on the moron who’d posted that video on YouTube, he’d cause him some serious damage. Between the incessant teasing of the other staff, fending off the amorous advances of drunken women and dodging phone calls from the press, he was seriously in need of a break. He looked at the clock high on the wall above the nurse’s station. Three hours to go. Three long hours and then two glorious weeks’ holiday.

He slipped the chart back into place with the others and picked up the next one on his list. Abdomen pains. Female. Great, a gynaecological problem. His day was just getting better.

“Don’t let them get to you,” Frank said. “It’ll pass soon enough.”

Charlie cocked an eyebrow at his friend, the senior nurse in ED; he wished he was that certain.

His rubber soled shoes made no noise as he wandered down to the last cubicle in the row. With a deep sigh he pulled back the curtain. His shoulders slumped even further.

“Please tell me this is a fake illness,” he told his sister’s best friend. “The last thing I want to do is give you a gyny exam.”

“The feeling is mutual,” Laura told him.

The ever present look of disgust, and disappointment, was firmly in place. Her hair was longer than the last time he’d seen her; apart from that she looked exactly the same – like an evil fairy. With her freckles, wide eyes and honey coloured hair she was innocence personified. He knew better. She sat on the edge of the bed, even though there was a chair in the cubicle. No doubt to give her a height advantage. At five two Laura was always thinking about height.

BOOK: Laura's Big Break
2.49Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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