Release date: June 28, 2018
Genre: Romantic Comedy
What do you do when the love of your life is already somebody else’s dad…?
Brown-eyed, brunette, 25.
Enjoys walking barefoot across shards of broken home. Likes loaded silences, resentment and insomnia. Dislikes romantic weekends, lie-ins and any chance of future happiness.
Former GSOH. Developing PTSD.
Ella Shawe was undomesticated, unattached and uninhibited.
Until she met Dan.
Sexy, charming and funny, Dan ticked all the right boxes and Ella threw herself head-first into the whirlwind romance.
But now she’s moved into his family home, complete with two demanding children and a hyperactive dog.
Throw in Dan’s impossibly perfect ex-wife, Ella’s interfering sex therapist mother and the snooty and dismissive mother-in-law from Hell, and Ella is almost ready to throw in the towel.
But, ready or not, Ella is part of the family now, and getting it right for Dan’s kids means getting it right for everyone. She just needs to figure out how to include herself in the mix…
Girlfriend, Interrupted will have you laughing-out-loud, gasping in embarrassment and rooting for Ella all the way. This British romantic comedy is packed full of humour and has a delightful contemporary heroine at its heart.
I’m so pleased to be one of the stops on the blog tour for Girlfriend, Interrupted, I have an extract from the book to share today!
Chapter One: Capital Punishment
It hadn’t occurred to me that the love of my life would turn out to be somebody else’s dad. If I’d thought about it long enough I’d have realized, the best thing that happened to me ended up being the worst thing that happened to Dan’s kids. Well, at least since the divorce anyway. And, if it was any consolation to them, I got a second-hand romance. It wasn’t exactly the kind of thing you’d look out for in a dating profile:
Brown-eyed, brunette, 26.
Enjoys walking barefoot across shards of broken home.
Likes loaded silences, festering resentment and insomnia.
Dislikes romantic weekends, sexy lie-ins and any chance of future happiness.
Former GSOH. Developing PTSD.
But, as with all great love affairs, it hadn’t started out that way. Those two, very separate worlds had slowly collided. We never really talked about what that meant. I mean, how could a man love you if his children didn’t even like you? You’ve probably already guessed, but that was exactly the question I’d been trying to avoid lately as I made my way into the office Friday morning. Only a few hours ahead of being utterly useless around the children for yet another weekend. Although, I thought, glancing over at reception, it was a far better option than falling in love with somebody else’s husband…
‘I am going to leave her, Karen!’ Harry Collins, Head of Digital, was leaning over the reception desk. ‘I promise I will, but it’s not that easy. I’ve got three children to think —’ He flinched at my footsteps. ‘So, those er … those staples? We’ll need at least another two boxes up there…’
Suddenly scrutinizing her to-do list, Karen-From-Reception, all blow-dry and diamante earrings, rearranged her cardigan. Scribbling everything down with a professionalism bordering on the provocative.
‘And those A5 notebooks, please, like we said.’ He pretended he’d only just noticed me. ‘Not the A4.’ He raised a hand. ‘Ah, morning Ella!’
‘Morning, Karen. Harry…’
The three of us exchanged polite smiles as I carried on towards the stairs, avoiding the lift in case I ended up stuck in there with him.
Steen & Heard Communications was located on the second floor of a listed building on Hanover Street. Sunlight streaked through the blinds as I fixed my jacket onto my chair and opened my first email of the day:
FOR IMMEDIATE ACTION.
ACCOUNT DATA FOR PREVIOUS 12 MONTHS!!!
This was a typical greeting from Heather Constantine, Public Relations Manager extraordinaire. I’d found the best way to deal with her emails was to pretend they were computer-generated by a machine too primitive to know any better. Although, the ‘Read Receipt’ she included on every message was particularly annoying. Especially when she sat close enough to accept my offer of a Smint without leaving her seat.
I glanced over at her, peering behind her bifocals. Her short, sharp, red hair, hinting at her short, sharp disposition. She scrutinised her screen, searching out juicy worms of commission fit for the taking. First thing in the morning, her lack of hello, eye contact, please or thank you, had the same effect as having a jug of iced water poured over your head. In fact, I’d have chosen the ice bucket challenge every time.
Heather Constantine was the reason I dreamt about being sacked the way other people dreamt about winning the lottery.
Initially, I had worked for James Steen (who was really posh and semi-retired, which is what really posh people aged around sixty seemed to do), and his partner, Audrey Heard, as a copywriter. I was initially hired to write press releases, manage website copy, oversee editorial pieces for our clients, that kind of thing. But within weeks, Heather made me into her unofficial personal assistant and psychological punch bag. Nowadays, I took care of her admin, weekly diary and, on one occasion, a furious outbreak of cystitis, rather than becoming some kind of capable business protégé to her wise mentor-figure, the way Audrey seemed to think it worked.
Leah, Office Support, walked in behind Harry. Her neon-painted grin brightened the shadow of Heather, looming permanently over the rest of our day.
The typing continued.
Leah hung up her coat and straightened her skirt.
‘Would you like a cup of tea, Heather?’
Heather glanced at her watch.
‘Ten minutes ago. I trust you’ll be deducting the time from your lunch hour?’
I gave Leah a sympathetic look. Heather classed five-past-nine as unforgivably late. The only time she’d left the office for anything other than a meeting was when she gave birth to her son.
‘Would you like a coffee, Ella?’
‘I’d love one, please.’ I was deliberately perky. I hoped Heather might pick up on more pleasant ways to interact with other human beings. ‘Thanks for asking. Hey, Leah — we made it! No matter what happens, they’ll never take Friday away from us…’
‘Make sure you use my almond milk.’ Heather’s fingernails clawed at high-speed across her keyboard.
Almond milk? I’d never heard of it. I wondered if they made it especially for people like Heather, who must have problems with turning the regular stuff sour.
‘Will do.’ Leah smiled, not wasting another minute. She paused briefly at Harry’s desk to take his order as he fired up multiple screens on the digital bank.
Harry headed up a team of three almost identical lads. They all wore beards, checked shirts and sprayed-on jeans. As far as I knew none of them had any interest in harvesting trees, but you’d’ve sworn they’d just trekked back from an Alaskan Lumberjack convention. Either that or been knitted as a matching set by someone’s well-meaning grandma. I’d tried striking up conversation with them in the past, but they only communicated in instant messages. And, while the rest of us lived on the stuff, none of them drank tea or coffee, even though it was the lingua franca of our offices. Maybe there’d been some sort of technological advancement, I thought. Apple had launched the iRefreshment while the rest of us still stood around, boiling the kettle.
‘Is almond milk good for you?’
Heather caught my eye, standing to unlock her filing cabinet.
‘Well, obviously.’ She inhaled a laugh, combing through an assortment of colour-coded files. ‘I wouldn’t be drinking it if it were bad for me, now would I?’
I wasn’t sure if she was trying to make a joke or not.
I’d never learned to speak fluent Dictator.
‘It’s vegan friendly. Cholesterol and lactose-free. Those things are bad for you,’ she explained as if talking to a three-year-old. ‘So, yes. It is.’
She shut the metal drawer with a thunk!
Heather was vegan? I was surprised. You’d have imagined most vegans being quite nice to the people they worked with, considering they were so kind to animals.
All heads turned as Audrey Steen, lady boss and agency owner, walked in, looking chic as ever. All curled lashes and nude lip gloss. Wearing my favourite outfit of hers, the grey trilby and pastel pink trench combo.
Audrey was utterly fabulous. One of those gorgeous, older ladies who crystal and diamonds cried out for, rustling up timeless glamour every morning.
‘How’s everything going, Heather?’ She cast a brief smile of hello my way. ‘Apollo doing well?’
If we hadn’t already worked out Heather had a messiah complex, she’d humbly named her first-born after a Greek god.
‘He’s doing brilliantly.’
‘Good to hear it. Did I tell you Peter’s wife’s expecting in the next few weeks?’
‘You must be thrilled.’ Heather still managed to look glacial despite the baby talk.
I’d tried mentioning Dan’s kids, Grace and Ethan, to Heather once. She’d looked at me as if I’d been clipping my toenails at my desk. I’d decided to drop the topic indefinitely.
‘We are. We are.’ Audrey smiled. ‘Listen, we really must have that catch-up. I’ve been meaning to put some time aside, see where we’re up to.’
‘Everything’s back on track.’ Heather squinted at Audrey with what I think was meant to be a smile, unless the sun was in her eyes. ‘I’d like to schedule in a meeting with you today if that’s convenient, Audrey? Four o’clock?’
‘Right-o!’ Audrey said. ‘Well, nothing pressing springs to mind…’
‘Ella?’ Heather rearranged her desk. ‘Could you update my diary?’
‘Of course, Heather.’ I wished I could schedule her in for a routine personality transplant while I was at it.
‘And, by the way.’ Audrey took off her hat, running her fingers through her perfect hair. ‘It’s great to have you back, Heather. Oh.’ She glanced at Leah’s desk then looked my way. ‘Have I missed the first brew of the morning?’
‘Please. Do you mind? I’m always in need of a complete transfusion by the end of the week.’
I noticed a faint sneer from Heather as I walked past her desk, possibly because I wasn’t taking IMMEDIATE ACTION on compiling her account data. Instead, I made my way into the staff kitchen and found Leah standing against the counter, mobile in hand.
‘What’s the matter?’
‘I’m fine.’ She put her phone inside her pocket and took a teaspoon from the drawer. Then stopped, eyes flooding. ‘I split up with my boyfriend.’
‘Oh. That’s not good.’
‘But then we got back together.’
‘And that’s bad?’
‘He’s just messaged saying he thinks we should leave it tonight. And.’ She checked her reflection in the mirror. ‘I just can’t handle Heather today. Urgh.’ She wiped inkblots of mascara from the corners of her eyes. ‘I missed the early train, doing my makeup. Now it’s ruined and I’m not even seeing him…’
‘Here.’ I grabbed another cup for Audrey. ‘You go and get yourself fixed up. I’ll finish the drinks.’
The kettle clicked to a halt as I busied myself at the counter.
‘Thanks, Ella. Oh.’ She paused on her way to the door. ‘Make sure you use her special milk, whatever you do. Heather’s almond milk’s in there. Bottom shelf. She’s labelled it.’
Of course she has, I thought. Even though everyone else in the office shared the same two-litre carton, it obviously wasn’t good enough for the Constantine constitution. Almond milk. I stared at the weird, peachy liquid. It didn’t look all that bad, but it definitely smelled a bit funny. Sod it. If Heather was going to stress us all out, the least she could do was lower our Cholesterol. I gave us all a free sample.
Back at my desk I found another email lying in wait to sabotage my happiness:
URGENT: FOR IMMEDIATE ACTION.
Re: SUBJECT HEADING.
Re: Previous email: Account data for previous 12 months!!!
I couldn’t help but look over again.
Not a flicker.
Working with Heather was like catching a virus. You started slightly off-colour and ended up wanting to crawl under the covers, slayed by a highly contagious case of her utter misery. I found the files on the system and opened a new document. It was so bad that the thought of meeting mum for lunch formed an emergency raft in my mind that saw me safely through to half-past twelve.
About the Author:
Following a childhood spent writing her first books, most notably, Our Book about Jesus – a self-help guide for fellow young Catholics, and, The Sleepover – a compelling tale of a midnight feast, shockingly intercepted by fictitious parents with badly drawn hands, Patricia Caliskan always liked to play with words.
Patricia first saw her name misspelt in print aged 17, interviewing hungover rock stars and illegible actors for an Arts and Entertainment magazine. After graduating from the University of Liverpool, Patricia joined Trinity Mirror Newsgroup, working as editor across a portfolio of lifestyle magazine titles.
Patricia likes a good pair of boots, wearing perfume with her pyjamas, and laughter. Lots of laughter. Because without it life feels far too grown up for her liking. Told with mischievous humour, Patricia’s stories explore family dynamics, office politics, and the divergent roles of women throughout their lives.
Girlfriend, Interrupted is Patricia’s second novel: her first, Awful by Comparison, will be reissued by Sapere Books this summer.