Authors: Cassandra P Lewis
By Cassandra P Lewis
Text copyright © 2012 Cassandra P Lewis
All Rights Reserved
Without your unending love and support, this never would have been possible. You made me truly believe that I can do anything that I set my heart and mind to, and that I would succeed. Every little girl should have a Dad like you, one with so much love to give, and one who was proud of every breath I took.
I miss you and love you more every day Daddy.
I can’t believe that it’s almost eleven already! I don’t know where the morning has gone but if I’m late for this meeting I’m truly fucked! I run through the lobby of the Harbour Building towards the elevators...not easy on a marble floor in stiletto heels by the way! I’m trying to concentrate on not falling, not sweating and not panicking as I reach the button to call the elevator. I press at least twenty times, hoping that it will make it arrive faster, all the while saying “Come on,” a little too loudly, willing the car down to the ground floor. I breathe
a sigh of relief as I hear the welcome ping, and rush forward.
“God sorry sweetheart, I was in a world of my own!”
The deep voice and soft Yorkshire accent washes over me, as I’m nearly flattened by a man coming out of the elevator. I don’t have time for polite exchanges and I answer quickly without really acknowledging him, at first...I’m too well brought up to be rude, and look up with a slight smile.
Wow! He is gorgeous, ‘
Hello Mr Tall Dark and Handsome Bulldozer
!’ I sneak another peek as the doors close, and thank London traffic and bad time management for that delicious distraction.
I step out of the elevator into the reception of Gold Square Publishing and Sarah, the far too sweet receptionist, immediately informs me that it’s time to face my fate.
“Hi Rosetta, you're just in time. Francesca is ready for you.” She smiles, and I swear I can see pity in her eyes.
I tentatively enter the cluttered office of the incomparable Francesca Franklin and I know I look decidedly sheepish. I know why I’m here, what I don’t know is where this meeting will leave my career. By the time this meeting is over, I could well be leaving minus my book deal.
I’m trying to appear professional and competent in a dark blue camisole and matching pencil skirt, but inside I’m squirming. I feel like a schoolgirl, summoned to the headmistress’s office, for consistent non-submission of homework.
I’m immediately hit by the sickening heady mix of stale cigarette smoke and White Musk, and it turns my already churning stomach.
“Rosetta. It’s good to see you.”
Francesca spins in her chair and looks over the top of her glasses, eyeing me up and down in blatant disdain. I ignore the sneer and thankfully, my nerves stop me from laughing out loud at her unintended James Bond villain impression.
I sit, wringing my hands together uncomfortably, in the high backed green leather chair facing my publisher. I clearly see the disappointment in her eyes. Francesca Franklin, the woman who holds my future as a writer in her hands.
“Thank you ever so for making the trip in Rosie. It’s been such a long time.”
I open my mouth to respond but Francesca holds out her hand, cigarette stained fingers outstretched and palm towards me, hushing me in an instant.
Francesca Franklin terrifies me. Even the very first time that I met her, rather than try and butter me up as the ‘new talent,’ she wasted no time on introductions and pleasantries. It was, and always has been, strictly down to business.
Her dark blonde hair is always pulled high into a neat, tight bun on the top of her head, making her look even more severe than I already know her to be. Her black rimmed glasses are a constant on the tip of her nose, and her orange toned lipstick only intensifies the yellow of her teeth.
She barks rather than talks, there’s a cool monotone harshness to everything that she says, and a look in her eyes that could turn you to stone. On more than one occasion, I have witnessed her reducing her receptionist, Sarah, to tears as she expresses her constant dissatisfaction at everything that the young Geordie does.
At times, usually when I am making her a lot of money, a slightly gentler side of Francesca rears its head...but that gentleness is nothing more than an uncomfortable grin and a raspy cackle here or there.
Francesca’s entire life revolves around publishing. I’m not sure that she even has a home, or if she just clears the mess from her solid mahogany desk each night, and curls up on there.
“As I’m sure you’re aware Rosie, I’ve called you here because we have a problem…don’t we?” She clasps her hands together on her desk, and tilts her head to the side as though she is addressing an errant child. “The deadline for the book was two months ago and yet here we are most of the way through October and still no book!” Francesca shakes her head and waves her hands across the part read manuscript on her desk, as if to demonstrate to me that mine isn’t there. “We have critics and fans waiting for the next
but you have given me absolutely no indication as to when I can expect a finished novel. There’s only so much damage control I can and will do!”
With this she stops and I think it’s my turn to speak…
My name is Rosetta Alvez. I’m twenty six and I’m a romance novelist. Well, I’m supposed to be, but I’m a little short on inspiration right now. About ten months ago I attended a wedding, my wedding as it happens, but my groom obviously didn’t get an invite.
Being jilted on the most important day of your life tends to sap any romance right out of you.
So here I am, sitting in my publisher’s office and trying to find the words to explain that, ‘I have acute writer’s block on account of my heart being ripped out, in front of all of my family and friends.’
Not surprisingly, my confidence is at an all-time low and my once fiery personality hides away in a place deep inside me, seemingly inaccessible by me, and by those who love me.
…I try to speak but there's that hand again,
“Rosetta, here’s the thing. You have brought a lot of money in to Gold Square Publishing in the past, and money talks. We are willing to give you an extension on the deadline. You have three months to get a manuscript on my desk. I think you’ll agree that this is beyond generous?”
“Yes, Francesca, thank you.” I feel thoroughly berated and a little frustrated. I came all the way here to say just four words.
“Rosetta. Three months. I can do no more than that!” Francesca returns her gaze to the manuscript on her desk and it’s clear that our meeting is over.
I leave Gold Square and step out onto the busy Shoreditch street. Bereft, I look up to the sky, blowing out the deep breath that I feel like I’ve been holding for the past hour. Relieved and petrified at the same time, I call a taxi over and head home.
I am lucky to be able to afford to rent a gorgeous flat in a converted Georgian property in Maida Vale. It’s been almost two years since I moved in, but I still feel an overwhelming flutter of joy every time I look up at the amazingly beautiful building that I get to call home.
London is still quite intimidating to me so I was adamant that I wanted to live in an area with at least a few trees. I’m still a country girl at heart. Even after my ex, Michael, jilted me and moved out, I stayed. Not because of any sentimental feelings towards the home that I shared with him, but because I love my home, unconditionally.
Adjusting to the grey of the city is an on-going process after a lifetime of green fields, but London has found its very own little place in my heart. The city and I have come to an understanding…I get to go about my business and not get too held up by the traffic and the crowds, and I give back, by spending one day a week exploring a new part of the capital.
Back inside my flat, I pace the floor and try to get my head in the game. A year ago I had hundreds of ideas floating around, but now there’s nothing. Any ideas that I do have, I dismiss as not good enough and move on.
“You can do this Alvez!” I try to convince myself as I sit at my desk and take inventory of my essential book writing ingredients.
I’m just missing one thing… a story.
My mind is blank.
“Come on Rosie, this is what you do!”
I give myself a pep talk and try to force myself to believe that I really can do it...but as my forehead hits the desk, and I see the piles of crumpled paper, Kit Kat wrappers, Red Bull cans and takeaway boxes around the bin, I realise that I can’t do this. I have nothing to write. I need inspiration…I need a break.
Pippa Carvalho is my best friend. I’m absolutely certain that she is clinically insane, but I adore her.
“Are you kidding Rosie? Hell…Yes! I’m up for a holiday. Where shall we go? How about Ibiza? Oooh Cancun...”
I can hear her drifting off, into a daydream of paradise and cocktail waiters.
“Actually Pip, I was thinking more exotic like Asia, Goa maybe? Or Sri Lanka? I don’t know really.” I blush as I dare to dream of far off shores,
“Now you’re talking Alvez, yeah I’m up for that. You find a place and let’s book it before you pull a Rosie on me!”
I suppose I should explain what she means by that...
I Rosetta Penelope
Alvez, am a wimp!
I chicken out of everything for fear of looking stupid or making a mistake.
The old Rosie was brave and outgoing, but Michael had a skill for pointing out my flaws…Usually in front of an audience, and resulting in my public humiliation.
Ironically, the one time that I didn’t run for cover was our wedding day, but we’ve already established how that turned out!
So, now I’m a mess.
I can’t write because I can’t take the criticism, I hardly go on nights out anymore for fear of getting drunk and making a fool of myself. At university I was always out. Pip and I were always the first on the dance floor whether we’d had a drink or not, but being told constantly by Michael that my red hair drew attention, and that ‘people love seeing a ginger make a fool of herself,’ soon changed that.
I wouldn’t say that I’m happy to sink into the shadows, because in actuality I’m bloody miserable. I don’t laugh like I used to and I really do miss the old me, but there’s an invisible line that has been drawn in front of me and I just can’t bring myself to cross it.
So in my box I stay, watching life pass me by and completely unable to stop it.
Having agreed to meet Pippa at one o’clock at the travel agents, I decide to spend the next hour doing a bit of research and head for Parker’s Books. I love being in a proper bookshop. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve done really well on e-books and my own Kindle is never far from my side, but for me a bookshop is a haven. Normally I would be in here browsing the romance section, or more recently looking at the crime novels, ‘How to murder your lying shit of an ex without getting caught,’ has been my recent theme of choice, but not today! Today I find myself in the travel section, and with a whole continent to choose from, I’m lost, so I call the devil on my shoulder.
“Pippa help! How the hell are you supposed to plan a holiday in Asia if you’ve never been to Asia? There are so many travel guides, how do I know which is the right one?” I can hear myself ranting and I know that I sound ridiculous.
“Rosie, be impulsive. Let’s just go to the travel agents, book anything and go and let our hair down,” she sighs down the phone, “What did that bastard do to you Ro? You’re way over thinking this babe, let’s just go and have fun.”
“Ok…I guess you’re right. See you in a bit then.”
I say what I need to say to get her off the phone, and pick up the pocket travel guide from the centre of the table display in store, ‘Thailand - How to get by on a smile’ by Jackson James. I turn the book over, ‘Gold Square Publishing.’ Bloody typical!
I want to put it back, not wishing to put any more money into Francesca Franklin’s pocket right now, but the pristine white sand beach and turquoise sea on the cover sells it...that is exactly what I need.
“Carvalho, you are the worst time keeper in the world!” I exasperate as Pippa finally saunters up to the travel agents, “We were supposed to meet twenty minutes ago.”
“Rosie, I know and I’m sorry, but they called to me.” She looks pitiful as she raises the shopping bags in her hands and sticks out her bottom lip, “Come on Ro…let’s do this.”
The young girl behind the counter in Morton Travel greets us with an excited smile as she stands ready to pounce.
“Good afternoon ladies. What can I do for you?”
As we get closer, I notice that she’s younger than she first appeared. The layers of thick make up that she’s wearing age her considerably, but she’s extremely pleasant and eager to help.
“We’d like to book a holiday. We’re thinking maybe India or Thailand.”
I show the book to Pippa and squirm when I realise that that I haven’t even mentioned Thailand to her yet, and that I went ahead and bought the travel guide anyway. She just smiles at me and then at the travel agent. Either she’s oblivious, or she just doesn’t care as long as it’s hot.
“Ok then, take a seat girls. Let’s see what we can do for you.”
We sit down facing Saskia and Pippa smiles at me. She is excited to see what Saskia comes up with.
“Show us the deals Saskia,” Pippa sits forward and playfully bangs her fist on the desk.
There’s a huge grin on her face and the ever present mischievous glint in her eyes.