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Authors: Jane Costello

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The Time of Our Lives

BOOK: The Time of Our Lives
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Jane Costello was a newspaper journalist before she became an author, working on the
Liverpool Echo
, the
Daily Mail
and the
Liverpool Daily Post
, where she
was Editor. Jane’s first novel,
Bridesmaids
, was an instant bestseller.
The Nearly-Weds
won Romantic Comedy of the Year 2010, while
Girl on the Run
was shortlisted for
the Melissa Nathan Award for Romantic Comedy 2012.
All The Single Ladies
was shortlisted for the Romantic Novelists’ Romantic Comedy of the Year Award and her latest novel,
The Wish
List
, is yet another top-ten bestseller. Jane lives in Liverpool with her partner Mark and three young sons. Find out more at www.janecostello.com, and follow her on Twitter @janecostello

Also by Jane Costello

Bridesmaids

The Nearly-Weds

My Single Friend

Girl on the Run

All the Single Ladies

The Wish List

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

PB ISBN: 978-1-47112-923-0
EBOOK ISBN: 978-1-47112-925-4
TPB ISBN: 978-1-47112-924-7

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.

Extract from
The Book Thief
by Markus Zusak, published by Bodley Head.
Reprinted by permission of the Random House Group Limited.

Extract from
Captain Corelli’s Mandolin
by Louis de Bernières, published by Secker & Warburg.
Used by permission of the Random House Group Limited.

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

For Isaac

Acknowledgments

Big thanks to the team at Simon & Schuster, especially my brilliant editor Clare Hey, and Suzanne Baboneau, Emma Harrow, Dawn Burnett, Sara-Jade Virtue, Alice Murphy, Ally
Grant and Anneka Sandher.

Thanks also to Darley Anderson and his angels, with a special mention for Clare Wallace and Mary Darby.

Love and thanks as ever to my mum and dad, Jean and Phil Wolstenholme, and (Uncle) Colin Wolstenholme, for the number-crunching I’d be lost without.

Finally, lots of love to my children Otis, Lucas and Isaac, and partner Mark, all of whom were put on earth to make sure that there’s never a dull moment.

Contents

Prologue

Chapter 1

Day One

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Day Two

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Day Three

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Day Four

Chapter 26

Chapter 27

Chapter 28

Chapter 29

Chapter 30

Chapter 31

Chapter 32

Day Five

Chapter 33

Chapter 34

Chapter 35

Chapter 36

Chapter 37

Chapter 38

Chapter 39

Chapter 40

Day Six

Chapter 41

Chapter 42

Chapter 43

Chapter 44

Chapter 45

Chapter 46

Chapter 47

Chapter 48

Chapter 49

Chapter 50

Day Seven

Chapter 51

Chapter 52

Chapter 53

Chapter 54

Chapter 55

Chapter 56

Chapter 57

Chapter 58

Day Eight

Chapter 59

Chapter 60

Chapter 61

Chapter 62

Chapter 63

Chapter 64

Epilogue

Prologue

Manchester Airport, July 2006

There is a universal rule of travel that applies to any holiday destination on the planet: the sunnier the resort you’ve visited, the more ferociously it will piss down
when you land back in the UK.

And Zante was sunny. So sunny that, as my friends and I step onto British tarmac, shivering in the drizzle, it feels as though the only thing in the world that isn’t grey is my nose, which
is an alarming shade of red. Oh, and possibly my toes, which, courtesy of the flip-flops that seemed like a good idea when I set off, are now as blue and frozen as radioactive ice pops.

Still, I can’t complain about the weather, which was the one element of the holiday that was excellent. That qualifies it as a rarity.

‘How are your bowels today, Imogen?’ enquires Meredith cheerfully as we step onto the travelator.

The family of four in front spin round to get a good look at me.

‘Better,’ I whisper. ‘Though that’s not saying much.’ Twenty-four hours ago, I was gripped by the sort of cramps normally associated with unanaesthetised intestinal
surgery, prompted – according to resort gossip – by a recurrent swimming-pool superbug for which our two and a half star hotel was rewarded a modest role on
Watchdog
last
year.

Meredith hadn’t mentioned that detail when she persuaded Nicola and me to book this two-night trip to celebrate her hen night. That is, her
third
hen night. She and her boyfriend,
Nathan, have one of those on-off relationships – one that’s so on-off that if you try to keep up it makes your head spin. At the moment it’s on, but that guarantees nothing: by
the end of the week, she could well have cancelled the 350-seat wedding marquee in Hampshire, fired the string quartet and sent her mother nose-diving to her third nervous breakdown.

‘I don’t know about you two, but I had a
whale
of a time,’ Meredith declares, apparently confident that we’ll answer in the affirmative. ‘I know it
wasn’t luxurious, but you got used to those crawly things after a while, don’t you think?’

I still have no idea what those ‘crawly things’ were – David Attenborough would have struggled to identify them – but I do know that I didn’t get used to them. Or
the shower, with a choice of two heat settings (arctic and lava); or the hair I found in my food every meal (collectively, they’d have produced an entire toupee); or the walls that shook when
the couple next door were throwing up, singing or shagging, the latter of which, judging by the speed and noise, involved a variety of moves that could have won them a part in
Riverdance
.

I didn’t get used to any of it, and neither, judging by her heavy eyelids, did Nicola. ‘It was great, Meredith,’ she replies heroically. ‘I’m just glad you had a
good time. That’s the most important thing.’

Neither Nicola or I are flashy types by nature; we didn’t grow up surrounded by luxury of any description. In fact, we both grew up in the distinctly unpretentious surroundings of suburban
south Liverpool, where we met at secondary school. But even we have standards.

Which is why Meredith, my neighbour in London until recently, is an enigma. Her family appears to own half of the south coast, her father was a major in the British Army and all her other
friends have names that belong in a P. G. Wodehouse novel. So my only explanation for her infinite tolerance of the hellhole we’ve just visited is that she sees it as a novelty.

‘You know, if you’d wanted to go somewhere a bit posher, I would’ve treated you both,’ she says merrily, as we arrive at the luggage carousel. ‘I really
wouldn’t have minded.’

‘It’s very kind of you to offer, but
we
would’ve minded,’ insists Nic. ‘We’ll just have to save up for next time.’

I look up and, with a sinking heart, realise the bag approaching us ominously on the carousel is mine. Unlike the chic weekend bag I checked in, this heap of canvas looks like an angry
hippopotamus has used it as a prop for practising tae kwon do moves: a strap is missing; there is a yawning hole in one side; and my washbag is spilling out, revealing half a pack of Microgynon,
enough make-up to put Clinique out of business and a burst tube of athlete’s-foot cream that’s now smeared on several surfaces.

I haul it off the carousel as two women I recognise from our flight glide past. They look to be in their mid-thirties and are unfeasibly glamorous – all lustrous hair, French-manicured
nails and foreheads that, from a certain angle, look as though they’ve been soaked in formaldehyde. I feel a stab of something unbecoming of me; I fear it may be envy. Not, I hasten to add,
because of their appearance, gorgeous as they undeniably are. But because of where I know they were sitting on the flight: in
business class
.

Nicola follows my gaze. ‘I’m sure business class is overrated.’

‘A ridiculous extravagance,’ I concur. ‘I’m sure No Frills is just as good.’

Meredith shakes her head. ‘You’re wrong, you know.’

We head for the gargantuan queue at the customer-services desk to report my luggage as damaged. After ten minutes of the line remaining resolutely static, I find the tattered copy of
Hello!
I bought for the flight and glance through its now-familiar pages.

Flicking through pictures of minor European royals and Jane Seymour posing by the pool in a palace in Kuala Lumpur might not have been a good idea after spending two nights in an establishment
with more wildlife than a Tanzanian nature reserve.

‘I wouldn’t mind a
bit
of luxury next time, I must admit,’ I confess, though I’m not sure when the next time will be. It’s not that I don’t enjoy going
away with my friends – their company was the single highlight of an otherwise very challenging trip – but I’m currently in year one of a new job, not exactly rolling in money and,
cheap and not-so-cheerful as it was, Zante has eaten into the funds for the main holiday I intend to take with my boyfriend, Roberto.

My heart flutters to my throat at the thought that he’s on the other side of the Arrivals-lounge door, waiting for me to slide into his arms.

My friends can’t really get their heads around Roberto and me, and the extent to which, after two years together, I still adore him.

I don’t wish to sound schmaltzy, not least because I wouldn’t want to give you the impression that we’re perfect – we’ve had some positively operatic rows in the
past (inevitable, really, when a feisty Italian falls for a girl determined to give as good as she gets) – but, two years on, I’ve come to realise something about why we were made for
each other.

BOOK: The Time of Our Lives
6.84Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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