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Authors: Jane Costello

The Mini Break

BOOK: The Mini Break
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First published in Great Britain by Simon & Schuster UK Ltd, 2014
A CBS COMPANY

Copyright © Jane Costello 2014

This book is copyright under the Berne Convention.
No reproduction without permission.
® and © 1997 Simon & Schuster Inc. All rights reserved.

The right of Jane Costello to be identified as author of this work has been asserted in accordance with sections 77 and 78 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988.

Simon & Schuster UK Ltd
1st Floor
222 Gray’s Inn Road
London WC1X 8HB

www.simonandschuster.co.uk

Simon & Schuster Australia, Sydney
Simon & Schuster India, New Delhi

A CIP catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library

EBOOK ISBN: 978-1-47113-498-2

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either a product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to
actual people living or dead, events or locales is entirely coincidental.

Typeset by M Rules
Printed and bound by CPI Group (UK) Ltd, Croydon, CR0 4YY

Contents

The Mini Break

 

The Time of Our Lives extract

Love Shack extract

Prologue

Chapter 1

Day One

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

 

Other titles by Jane Costello

Sometimes, no matter how much you enjoy your job, you need a break.

I knew I’d reached this point because I’d started fantasising about business ideas again, those entrepreneurial gems I’d conjured up at about the same time as other, more
motivated souls: the cupcake bakery, the home accessories website, the invention of a nifty baby care item (which, I admit, would’ve been challenging given the absence of an actual baby).

It wasn’t just that though: the bags under my eyes, the double vision when I opened my email inbox and the fact that, without a spray tan, I looked like death warmed up, all said the same
thing: I NEEDED A HOLIDAY!

Problem was, after a difficult few months in my relationship with my credit card, there was no prospect of one, unless I wanted to sit at home watching
Jeremy Kyle
and reminding myself
how desperately my living room needs decorating when I’m back in my credit limit.

Then Anisha phoned. It was on one of those rain-drenched autumn afternoons when you’re so deflated that the only thing capable of perking you up has three thousand calories and leaves you
with an overwhelming sense of failure for the day.

I was in a meeting at the time – a ‘blue-sky thinking session’ that couldn’t have generated less creativity if someone had put three slugs in a brown bag and asked them
to conduct a brainstorm.

I subtly rejected the first call, then the second and third, but by the fourth I was so concerned something was seriously wrong, that I stood up, muttering: ‘domestic emergency,’ as
if my ceiling had just caved in.

‘GUESS. WHAT?’

‘I’m in a meeting,’ I whispered.

‘You’ll want to know this, Sophie.
I’ve only gone and got us a five-star holiday!

I was temporarily speechless. ‘No way.’

‘WAY!’

Three weeks later, here we are: trundling our bags through Alicante Airport for three luxurious days in Murcia, staying in what is, without question, the poshest hotel I’ve
encountered.

The trip came about because, enticed by the prospect of exotic overseas travel, Anisha jacked in her job in a bank last year to become a trainee travel agent. She’s left Manchester
precisely once since, to go to a conference in Nuneaton. This trip, however, sounds like the answer to all her dreams, not least because she was allowed to bring me along at a discounted rate.

‘I ought to mention something before we meet the rep,’ she tells me. ‘It’s a small thing really. I was going to say something earlier, but it’s such a non-issue I
didn’t bother. Perhaps with hindsight I should’ve brought this up earlier, but I’m totally confident that it’ll be fine.’

The more she keeps talking the more convinced I am that it won’t. ‘Anisha. What is it?’

‘Okay.’ She takes a deep breath. ‘As you know, I was well overdue the chance to go on a trip but as the new girl, I kept being overlooked. So I kind of . . . took matters into
my own hands. To precipitate things a little.’

‘Right . . .’

‘This could be so much worse . . .’


What
could?’

She takes a deep breath. ‘We’re here on a golfing holiday.’

I digest this revelation: I’d known the hotel was on a golf resort from my near-obsessive Googling in the last three weeks. Clearly, I’d assumed we wouldn’t be going near the
course ourselves.

‘It could be worse,’ I decide. ‘I’ve never played golf, but as long as they know we’re both novices, we’ll be fine giving up an hour or so each day to have a
try. I’ve done scuba diving before – I’m willing to give anything a go.’

‘Hmm.’

‘What do you mean, “hmm”?’

‘Look, I’ll fill you in properly later, but whatever you do,
do not
tell anyone you’re a novice,’ she says.

I flash her a sideways glance as we pass through the sliding doors leading to Arrivals. ‘Why?’

‘You had to have a golf handicap to be eligible for the trip: that was one of the conditions,’ she tells me.

Among a row of taxi drivers, chauffeurs and holiday reps, I spot a sign with our names on it. It’s upside down.

‘The travel company is having a push on attracting
serious
golfers,’ Anisha continues, ‘but the only person who’s ever been near a set of clubs in our office is
Nigel, my boss, and it’s his wedding anniversary. He was thinking of turning it down altogether until I told him about my enthusiasm for the sport.’

‘A sport you’ve
never
played . . .’

‘Keep your voice down,’ she hisses as we approach our sign. ‘It’s only a formality, but for the purposes of the next four days, you have a handicap of six.’

Panic rises up in me. ‘I have
no idea
what that means!’

‘You’ll be fine,’ she whispers through a demented smile. ‘Hello!’

The guy with the upside-down sign has that
tall-dark-handsome
vibe going on, the kind that’s made me question my intelligence on occasions in the past. His clothes are the
definition of Mediterranean smart-casual: stone-coloured Armani jeans, white T-shirt against tanned arms. Very tanned arms.

When he smiles it’s wide and warm and a little bit heart-stopping, so much so that I have to remind myself that this is what happened the first time I set eyes on Daniel Madden. And Miles
Bowden-Smith. And Charlie Welsh. And look where they left me: broken-hearted, stripped of all dignity and, in Charlie Welsh’s case, with a smashed pencil case. (It was in primary school. I
stamped on it in a huff when he went off with Diane Little. I’ve managed to refrain from similar outbursts since, despite repeated provocation.)

‘You must be Anisha – and Sophie.’ We shake hands. ‘I’m James. I look after marketing for the hotel. And I’m your chauffeur for today.’

I’d assumed until he opened his mouth that he was Spanish, but it’s clear he’s British, even if I couldn’t place the accent beyond that. We smile and nod and note how
warm it is and how pleasant our flight was, at which point he invites us to follow him to the car park.

He pops open the boot of an imposing white 4x4 and hesitates. ‘I’ve just realised you haven’t got your clubs. Did you forget to collect them from the carousel?’

‘Ah, well . . .’ begins Anisha, ‘one of the women I was liaising with from the tour company suggested it’d be better to hire clubs while we’re here. They said
it’d be easier, and there’d be less of a risk of loss or damage to our own.’

‘Oh.’ He raises his eyebrows and my heart starts to pump alarmingly fast. ‘Okay, I’m sure I can sort that.’

‘Would’ve been nice if they’d told you, eh?’ she adds, rolling her eyes theatrically as I make a mental note to remind her when to stop talking.

He heaves our bags into the boot as Anisha slides into the passenger seat, while I crawl into the back, hoping to hide from any golfing questions. It’s a strategy that proves hopelessly
ineffective.

‘You’ve got handicaps of six and seven I believe,’ he says, gripping the steering wheel as we speed along the motorway.

‘That’s right,’ I reply decisively, in the absence of a response from Anisha.

‘Very impressive.’

I hesitate. ‘Is it?’

He laughs, as if I’m being modest, not just befuddled.

‘So the plan is for you to check into the hotel this afternoon. We’ve booked dinner for you in the restaurant this evening, then tomorrow your tee time is at twenty past nine. I can
meet you in reception at eight forty-five and take you to the pro shop myself to make sure you’re all set.’

‘Fab!’ Anisha says.

‘Good. I think you’ll love the course. It’s very scenic – and challenging. We’ve booked you in for every morning of your trip, except Friday, when the Palermo Cup
takes place.’

‘Oh yes, the Palermo Cup,’ I nod, having apparently developed Golfing Tourette’s.

‘Hosting the tournament is a real coup for the resort. It attracts golfers from all over the world. So on that day, unfortunately, you’ll have to stick to the spectating. Shame you
couldn’t enter the amateur competition – with those handicaps you’d have been in with a good shot. But all the places have gone, sadly.’

Anisha scrunches up her nose. ‘Ooh, that
is
a shame, isn’t it?’

Fair play to Anisha, the hotel is nothing less than spectacular. That evening, I’m lounging on a plush Bedouin-style sofa overlooking a vast infinity pool as darkness
descends on the resort and a constellation of palm trees rustles in the breeze.

There’s a family on an adjacent table that look straight out of a Boden catalogue (complete with perfect, dimple-cheeked children) and next to them, several groups of guys about our age
– late twenties – with the clear potential to become rowdier as the night wears on.

The lights from the pool bar twinkle as I sip my fifth glass of Cava since dinner (and I’m not normally a big drinker), which consisted of the most delectable sequence of dishes to ever
pass my lips.

The evening, in short, should be perfect. But I’m preoccupied.


Handicaps are numbers that indicate roughly how close to par a player is expected to shoot in a given round
,’ I read from my phone to Anisha in a hushed whisper. ‘
A
player’s handicap score is found by scoring his or her last twenty rounds individually, then averaging the ten best and multiplying by point nine-six. For your handicap strokes from a single
round, consult the scorecard and find the course slope and rating from the tees played. Subtract the rating from the score, divide by the slope and multiply by one hundred and thirteen
.’
I look up. ‘I need to go and lie down in a dark room.’

Anisha swallows a mouthful of her drink. ‘You’re getting awfully wound up about all this. You know, I feel so much more relaxed about everything since I met Adam. He brings out the
best in me.’

Anisha met
The One
about two months ago – a newly qualified junior doctor who’d moved into the apartment above hers and who would no doubt have been on this trip in my place
had he not been forced to work this week. It’s lovely to see her so happy; she’s never come close to finding someone before now. But I must admit, her unrestrained state of infatuation
does serve as a constant reminder of how very
single
I feel at the moment.

I can’t deny that after I’d done my crying when my long-term boyfriend Joel and I split up nearly a year ago, a bit of me enjoyed the novelty of being on my own. But like all
novelties, it’s started to wear off. And while I’m not
looking
– you never find someone when you’re
looking
– I can’t help feeling that
something’s absent from my life right now.

I don’t know if it’s necessarily love.

But whatever it is consists of a big, unruly list of things I miss: curling my arm round someone in bed . . . talking long into the night . . . having sweet-dirty thoughts about a man
there’s a vague possibility of re-enacting them with (because I’ve given up on Ryan Gosling).

BOOK: The Mini Break
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