Frank! Of course. That other man was Frank Harper. The publicity guy from Bank of London. I used to see him at press conferences.
“He won’t sue,” says Alicia calmly. “He’s got too much face to lose.”
“He’s lost a fair amount already,” says Ben, raising his eyebrows. “He’ll be the invisible man before too long.”
“True,” says Alicia, and smirks back at him. She looks at the pile of folders in her arms. “Have I got everything? I think so. Right, I’m off. Ed will be waiting for me. See you tomorrow.”
They both disappear down the corridor and this time, thank God, they get into a lift. When I’m quite sure they’ve gone, I sit back on my heels with a puzzled frown. What’s going on? Why were they talking about suing? Suing who? And how come Bank of London was here?
Is Bank of London going to sue Luke? It sounds like everything’s a complete mess! I thought Alicia was supposed to have everything under control.
For a while I just sit still, trying to work it all out. But I’m not really getting anywhere — and suddenly it occurs to me that I ought to get out while the going’s good. I get up, wincing at the cramp in my foot, and shake out my legs as the circulation returns to them. Then I pick up my parcel, shake back my head, and as nonchalantly as possible, walk down the corridor toward the lifts. Just as I’m pressing the “Summon” button, my mobile phone rings inside my bag, and I give a startled jump. Shit, my phone! Thank God that didn’t happen while I was hiding behind Mel’s desk!
“Hello?” I say, as I get into the lift.
“Bex! It’s Suze.”
“Suze!” I say, and give a shaky giggle. “You have no idea how you nearly just got me in trouble! If you’d rung like, five minutes ago, you would have completely…”
“Bex, listen,” says Suze urgently. “You’ve just had a call.”
“Oh right?” I press the ground-floor button. “From who?”
“From Zelda at Morning Coffee! She wants to talk to you! She said, do you want to meet for a quick lunch tomorrow?”
That night, I barely get an hour’s sleep. Suze and I stay up till late, deciding on what I should wear — and when I’ve gone to bed, I lie awake, staring at the ceiling, feeling my mind flip around like a fish. Will they offer my old job back after all? Will they offer me a different job? Maybe they’ll upgrade me! Maybe they’ll give me my own show!
But by the early hours of the morning, all my wild fantasies have faded away, leaving the simple truth. The truth is, all I really want is my old job back. I want to be able to tell Mum to start watching again, and to start paying off my overdraft… and to start my life all over again. Another chance. That’s all I want.
“You see?” says Suze the next morning as I’m getting ready. “You see? I knew they’d want you back. That Clare Edwards is crap! Completely and utterly—”
“Suze,” I interrupt. “How do I look?”
“Very good,” says Suze, looking me up and down approvingly. I’m wearing my black Banana Republic trousers and a pale fitted jacket over a white shirt, and a dark green scarf round my neck.
I would have worn my Denny and George scarf — in fact, I even picked it up from the dressing table. But then, almost immediately, I put it down again. I don’t quite know why.
“Very kick-ass,” adds Suze. “Where are you having lunch?”
“San Lorenzo?” Her eyes widen impressively.
“No, I don’t think so. Just… Lorenzo’s. I’ve never been there before.”
“Well, you make sure you order champagne,” says Suze. “And tell them you’re fighting off loads of other offers, so if they want you to come back, they’re going to have to pay big bucks. That’s the deal, take it or leave it.”
“Right,” I say, unscrewing my mascara.
“If their margins suffer, then so be it,” says Suze emphatically. “For a quality product you have to pay quality prices. You want to close the deal at your price, on your terms.”
“Suze…” I stop, mascara wand on my lashes. “Where are you getting all this stuff?”
“All this… margins and close the deal stuff.”
“Oh, that! From the Hadleys conference. We had a seminar from one of the top salespeople in the U.S.! It was great! You know, a product is only as good as the person selling it.”
“If you say so.” I pick up my bag and check that I’ve got everything — then look up and take a deep breath. “Right, I’m going.”