Authors: Nicola Doherty
Copyright © 2014 Nicola Doherty
The right of Nicola Doherty to be identified as the Author of the Work has been asserted by her in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.
First published as an ebook in 2014 by HEADLINE REVIEW
An imprint of HEADLINE PUBLISHING GROUP
Apart from any use permitted under UK copyright law, this publication may only be reproduced, stored, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means, with prior permission in writing of the publishers or, in the case of reprographic production, in accordance with the terms of licences issued by the Copyright Licensing Agency.
All characters in this publication are fictitious and any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
Cataloguing in Publication Data is available from the British Library
Cover illustration © Adrian Valencia
eISBN 978 1 4722 1875 9
HEADLINE PUBLISHING GROUP
An Hachette UK Company
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Table of Contents
Nicola Doherty grew up in Monkstown, Co. Dublin, and worked in book publishing before leaving to pursue a freelance and writing career. Her first novel
The Out of Office Girl
was shortlisted for the Romantic Novelists’ Association Awards in the Romantic Comedy category. Nicola lives in Highbury, North London with her husband and no cats (yet).
‘A hugely enjoyable story’
: smart, funny and totally unputdownable’ Gemma Burgess
‘A great beach read’
‘A fun, quick read that will have you laughing out loud’
‘A gorgeous debut, reminiscent of early Jilly Cooper’
‘The classic beach read for die-hard romantics everywhere’
‘Escapism at its very best’
‘Immediately joins the ranks of Bagshawe and Kinsella . . . a fantastic debut novel’ Keep Calm and Read a Book
‘A hugely enjoyable read from start to finish’ Chick Lit Chloe
‘One of those rare amazing-all-round books . . . I was totally won over by this stunning weekend read’ Pretty Little Memoirs
‘It’ll definitely melt your heart . . . the perfect light-hearted read with a little added twist, a happy ending and some great laughs thrown in’ Rosie Reads Romance
‘Funny, sharp and an absolute delight’ I Heart Chicklit
‘I was thinking about it for days . . . an addictive story’ Into the Bookcase
‘A smart, funny and romantic debut novel’ Novelicious
‘Just the right amount of humour alongside loveable and believable characters . . . fun, fabulous and hilarious’ Book Addict Shaun
The Out of Office Girl
If I Could Turn Back Time
Girls On Tour eBook series:
Poppy Does Paris
The first instalment in this hilarious, romantic and unputdownable five-part digital series.
Paris. City of love, city of romance. The last place you want to go to on a work trip when you’re in the middle of an epic dry spell. But that’s where Poppy is headed, along with her colleague Charlie, who’s shallow and annoying but very, very good-looking. During a white-wine-fuelled session with her friend Alice, Poppy concocts the perfect plan: work by day, and have some no-strings fun with Charlie by night. Of course, it might prove a little more complicated than that, but it’s nothing Poppy can’t handle – or is it?
Girls on Tour
is an irresistible series of interlinked stories about four friends, ordinary girls who have extraordinary fun in faraway places. Expect the unexpected, the utterly hilarious and unforgettable on this rollercoaster ride of love, laughs, surprises and sparks. You have a VIP pass to join each girl’s adventure, so pack your bags and buckle your seatbelts, because just about anything is possible . . .
i. I’m Poppy
I stare at the blinking cursor. Where to start?
I’m a fairly normal girl.
Hah! I delete that right away. Bland Central Station, also not true.
I’m confident and outgoing.
No, that’s even worse – makes me sound totally conceited. This is
. Right. Start again.
Hi, I’m Poppy. On an average day you’re likely to find me with my nose deep in a book, cycling home from the farmers’ market in Hackney with my basket full of goodies, or at a vintage fashion fair. I love soul music, baking, Smarties, the sea, the 10
arrondissement in Paris and the Dirty Burger from MEATliquor
Oh, God. I sound like a revolting parody of middle-class hipsterdom: bikes, farmers’ market, Dirty Burger and all. It’s all so cringe-worthy; I feel like I’m listing myself on eBay. Also, I forgot I’m going to need a pseudonym. Patricia? Penelope?
I tap my fingers for a few minutes, and then decide to just type the truth and see how it looks.
Hi, I’m Poppy. I work really long hours in an office full of women, and I haven’t had a proper boyfriend in almost two years. I tend to rant on about things I find important and not many other people do, I’m addicted to cake and I’m like a demon when I’m hungry. I’d like to meet someone creative, intelligent and sensitive. I seriously doubt that I’m going to find such a gem on the internet, but I’ve tried all the other—
‘I’ve finished with these proofs,’ says Sorrell, breezing into the office. ‘Did you want to see them before they go up to production?’
‘Oh, thanks, that was quick. Yes please – just leave them there,’ I say, quickly minimising my screen. I don’t want my assistant to see me compose my internet profile, though probably Sorrell could give me some excellent tips. Her generation was practically raised on Tinder.
‘Hey, I like your leather trousers,’ I add, as she turns to leave.
‘Thanks,’ says Sorrell, doing a little twirl. ‘Sample sale. Alasdair says they remind him of
Good lord. I was here a year before I even spoke to our managing director, let alone cracked jokes with him about my leatherwear.
‘Oh!’ I laugh. ‘Yeah. Very Emma Peel.’
‘Who?’ says Sorrell.
‘Emma Peel, you know. From
‘Oh,’ says Sorrell. ‘Sorry. I don’t remember them first time around.’ And she’s gone, leaving me wanting to explain: I don’t remember them either! I was born in the eighties! Except I’m twenty-nine and Sorrell is probably twenty-three, at most.
As I watch her leather rear depart, I have a guilty, resentful thought: once I was the zany, confident assistant with the memorable name and the quirky style, who made friends with all the senior people. But that was six years ago and I’m starting to feel like part of the furniture – and not a very shiny one either.
Right: that’s enough of the pity party. I save my dating profile and start making myself presentable for today’s editorial meeting. I’m in one of my favourite dresses: a fifties-style party frock I made myself from some red Liberty print silk my mum found in a charity shop in Hastings. And my curls are looking frizz-free, thank God. I nearly cried when they discontinued the only leave-in conditioner that stopped me looking like one of the Supremes circa 1970, but I think I’ve found a replacement. I look in the mirror to check I don’t have pen marks on my face and I’m good to go.
Until I stand up, and hear the unmistakable rip of a seam. A quick feel confirms that the entire side of the dress has gone. Wonderful. I’d love to be able to blame the delicate vintage fabric, but the sad fact is that I’ve put on half a stone in the last six months. Too many work lunches, and too much time sitting at my desk. I quickly do a repair job with safety pins, throw on a spare cardigan that doesn’t really go with the dress, and scuttle off to the meeting.
It’s a long time since I’ve felt nervous when attending the editorial meeting, but today I do. There’s a book that I’m really passionate about and today I’m going to find out whether anyone else agrees with me.
‘Let’s make a start,’ says Ellen, our publishing director and my boss. ‘Ooh, what are those?’
pasteis de nata
– Portugese custard tarts,’ I say, putting down the box in the middle of the table along with some paper napkins. ‘Help yourselves.’
‘Don’t let me have one,’ says Ellen. I know how she feels – I probably shouldn’t have bought them either, but it was in a good cause.
‘Oh yum. Thanks, Poppy,’ says Melanie, the sales director, who’s rake-thin. ‘Can I take two? Where did you get them?’
‘Bar San Marco. You know the little snack bar down the road?’
My reason for bringing these in today was twofold. One, I think everyone will be more into my book if they’re high on sugar; and two, a bit of product placement. The San Marco is a little gem, but it’s struggling to compete against all the huge coffee shops, and the owner has told me he’s not sure how much longer he can keep paying the rent.
‘Is that the dingy little caff by the Tube?’ asks Charlie, one of the marketing guys. ‘I had a terrible coffee there once. Never been back.’ He takes a slug from his PretaCostaBucks paper cup.
I just smile. Charlie is nice enough, but he’s a bit of a lad. If it’s not in the
or sponsored by Nike, he doesn’t want to know.